Friday, July 24, 2009

2009 07 24. Friday.

2009 07 24. Friday.

This morning I heard the Indians next door to me leave their room so I went out and tried to very politely ask them to please talk a little quieter during my sleeping hours. They were very polite and nice and said "Yes, we will do so." I spoke to the teenage boy and his name was Shakti Prasad (a very nice and composed young man). Turns out he's one of Amma's "Shakti Prasad" kids that's written about in Amma's biographical book series "Awaken Children!" 10 volumes so far and counting. Wonderful books. Definitely recommended reading. Gives lots of insights into Amma and Her teachings.

The story is that Indian parents who weren't able to conceive would come to Amma pleading for Her grace to have a child. Amma would give them a blessed banana or something like that to eat and some other instructions. The parents would faithfully follow the instructions and not long after would conceive a child. I think they were all male children. Like elsewhere in Asia many Indians strongly prefer male children. There's a big problem India with the abortion of female fetuses to the extent that in some areas there's a serious shortage of marriage age women. Now in those areas there's a demand for female children! Very ironic. I think the Indian government outlawed the practice of abortion based on gender but I think its still prevalent. Its been a few years since I heard a news story about the practice so maybe the situation has changed. There were (still are?) lots of private ultrasound clinics that can determine fetus gender.

One of the Shakti Prasad kids had a gestation period of 16 months! Can't remember which volume of 'Awaken Children!' this was detailed in. When the doctors did an ultrasound of the mother's womb at about 10 or 12 months into the pregnancy, they just saw a hazy white cloud! No fetus at all. After 16 months the mother gave birth to a totally normal baby boy. Just one of the thousands of miracles that happen around Amma. Speak to any Amma devotee and you'll probably get a story of some miracle or other. I tend to be a skeptical scientific type, but hearing directly from devotees about Amma's miracles has made me a believer.

This morning I had to go to the compost area to get something and I saw a funny sight. Lakshmi the female elephant was there as usual, chomping away on a pile of palm leaves and bouncing her head. Nearby was a western woman looking at Lakshmi. As I got closer and walked by the western lady, I could hear her singing a Ganesha bhajan to Lakshmi. I thought that was very cute! For my non-Hinduphile readers, Ganesha is a very popular Hindu god who has the head of an elephant, the body of a human and a big fat round belly. He's the deity who removes obstacles. Do a google to read the story of Ganesha. Its a wonderful tale. I think Lakshmi was more interested in getting some bananas than in hearing any Ganesha bhajan.

Amma is returning on Sunday so there's been really frantic cleaning and repairs going on all over the ashram. Everyone, especially the brahmacharis and brahmacharinis, have been working like crazy getting ready for Amma. Definitely anticipation in the air. I look forward to seeing Amma, but I'll also miss the quiet and small crowds when Amma's physical form isn't here.

The Indian family on the west side of me (the ones I spoke to) were delightfully quiet but now the Indians on the eastern side were making a racket as I was trying to sleep! Jeez! The Indians here seem to have very little concept of respect for people who may be sleeping. I had to get up and tell them to please speak quietly. Luckily, with Amma's grace, I was able to compose myself beforehand so I was able to talk to them politely. They were also very nice and said they'll be more quiet. We'll see how it goes. If I can't get decent sleep here I'll probably have to move. Yuch. Moving is a definite pain. The Indians here are almost all wonderful people but it seems their culture has very different values when it comes to respecting quiet. Its very common (in fact, almost universal) for wherever you go in India for some local temple to start blaring recorded devotional songs at 5am. I mean really, really loud! Like rock concert loud. Some sleepy, bored temple priest apparently has the right to wake up hundreds of people who are trying to sleep. Since the Indians grow up with this, it seems they're totally used to it and completely don't mind. Be interesting to talk to some of them about this issue and see what they really think. India will take a step toward maturity (IMHO) when people here start to demand laws about disturbing the peace. But I'm an overly sensitive outsider from a different culture, so bear that in mind also. I think the law here is quiet from 11pm to 5am. After 5am, anything goes.

Keep in mind whenever I rant and complain about Indian ways, I totally realize there's no end of things I (and others) could complain about regarding America and the West. My complaints hopefully help communicate some of the flavor of living here (and also communicate my hang ups, of which there is an endless supply).

It can be said that the propagation of American consumer culture is helping to destroy the planet, while the prorogation of Indian Sanatana Dharma (aka Vedic culture aka authentic Hinduism) through saints like Amma, Sai Baba, Mahatma Gandhi and many others is helping to save the planet and evolve human values. Buddhism can be considered an offshoot of Sanatana Dharma and is also greatly helping to uplift human consciousness. So Indian culture (like any) has its shadows (which provide good grist my little blog) but the bright side of Indian culture is huge and critically valuable at this point in human evolution. Sanatana Dharma, evolved for the modern world, is showing how to create a harmonious planet and guiding us into our next stage of evolution. Sanatana Dharma combined with the best parts of Western culture (scientific/technical innovation, respect for individual freedom, respect for the rule of law) is a wonderful combination. These are generalizations and like all generalizations, don't capture all the details and nuances.

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