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February 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       February 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:February' 2017


Culture is life

Swami Maheshwarananda Puri explains to R.C. Ganjoo some of the finest and sensitive facets of yoga which help individuals to explore the path of "Light" within and beyond.

Vishwaguru Maheshwarananda Wherever life is found, so is culture. Culture is the beauty and life of every human being. In Sanskrit, culture is called samskara. It is passed down to us from our parents, our teachers and our society, through our education. Consciously and unconsciously, we act according to our own culture, being part of the culture of a country or a community.

Culture incorporates many aspects of human life and the most important is the spiritual aspect, giving us our human qualities – our spirituality. It clarifies our notion of what it means to be a humane human. The highest human qualities of non-violence, tolerance, forgiveness and understanding represent the beauty and blossoms of every culture and lead us towards respecting cultures of every country throughout the world.

Being born and raised in India I received the culture of India from my parents, my master, society, school and so on. At the same time, I respect and treasure the cultures of every country I have visited.

When a person has not adopted or accepted a culture, they are unhappy and feel they belong to nowhere and no one. For instance, one may travel to a foreign country and become unhappy due to this lack of a sense of belonging. However, calling to mind our connection to our own culture, or accepting the culture of another country, helps us to come out of this depression.

Our environment also forms our culture.The landscape we grew up in – flowers, trees, rocks, rivers, mountains and deserts – as well as the friends that surrounded us. It can lead us to feel deep homesickness if we are parted from them. Although these feelings are psychological, and sometimes subconscious, they are our reality – our life.

Animals and their culture

Culture informs the life of all creatures, because all animals have their own culture –an instinctual culture rather than a chosen one, that comes from the characteristics and qualities of their own Godgiven nature.

Some years ago, we had a beautiful bull in our gaushala at Jadan Ashram. He fathered many babies, and was much loved, strong and friendly. Some people from another village asked for the bull, so we sent him there, over 280 kilometres away.

When I visited him after six months, he was not eating and appeared very thin. He seemed offended when I approached him. He stayed sitting down and tears fell from his eyes. So, I gave him my attention and love, and told him that he will return home within two days. And he got up! He did return to Jadan Ashram in two days, and he is now happy again, and much loved by all.

Dogs, cats, birds, fish, all creatures have a deep connection to their own innate culture.

Birth of culture

Holy Bharat, India, has contributed enormously to cultures all over the world. For example, in ancient times, when Europe was still under glaciers, the planet had a much smaller population and it was not as easy to travel around as it is today – at that time, to receive a guest was a great joy. So welcoming a guest has become an integral part of culture.

In India, it is said "In whose home you eat salt, you should never do anything bad there,nor towards them."Here, salt (namak) refers to any food. When we act destructively, and we betray another's trust and loyalty, it is called namak haraam– we have violated the 'salt oath' and acted against both them and ourselves. This is considered hinsa (violence), rather than ahimsa (non-violence).

In parts of Eastern Europe it is a tradition to offer aguest bread and salt the first time they visit. This is because salt represents the inner self, or "soul". Likewise, it is said in the Bible (Matthew 5:13), "Ye are the salt of the earth."

The same tradition is in the native Māori communities of New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and we can still see varied aspects of this welcoming and accepting culture everywhere. We should not forget this ritual. Whenever we are offered a little bread or salt, we should remember to give our respect. By doing so, we become accepted as a member of the family and society.

We need to understand what dharma is. Dharma is higher than religion. And the highest education for us, the father of all dharma – the eternal, natural law – is Sanātana Dharma.

When we embody this type of culture, there are no wars or violence. There is harmony, understanding, peace and tolerance. In this way, culture makes a country great and worthy of high esteem.

Sanātana Dharma

Religion is also part of culture. Different religions are part of the culture of different nations, and some nations are home to many religions.

Beyond religion is dharma, which is also part of culture.It is said in the Vedas, if you protect the dharma, then dharma will protect you (dharmo rakshati rakshitah –Manu Smrti 8.15).

We need to understand what dharma is. Dharma is higher than religion. And the highest education for us, the father of all dharma – the eternal, natural law – is Sanātana Dharma.

But this law is not some kind of dogma. Sanātana Dharma does not mean "I believe in this God, and you believe in that God". We need to understand and experience this eternal, natural law for ourselves.

Sanātana Dharma is like when you have a seed that you plant in the earth –it will sprout, grow and give forth flowers and fruit. And it will produce further seeds to protect and perpetuate the species.This is sanātan.

When a mother becomes pregnant, her dharma as a mother is to protect the embryo. And the embryo developing internal organs and a face and brain, growing into a baby – this is Sanātana Dharma.

Similarly, water forms into fog which rises up and condenses into clouds. It then becomes rain drops, falls to earth, and fills up streams and rivers which then flow back to the ocean. Its form changes, but in reality, it is all ocean. This is also sanātan.

It doesn't matter which form liquid is in, that liquid has its origin in the ocean. Similarly, every creature has its origin in the 'One without birth' called Swayambhu (Shiva).

Sanātana Dharma is the underlying principle of all religions and culture, not an argument between which God we believe in. The many different religions have many different beliefs. But no one belief is the one and only truth. Therefore culture has become 'multi-culture' and also 'interculture'– now cultures around the world are coming together in order to create harmony and help us understand one another.

We are all Sanātan– mother, father, son, daughter. And the sky, sun and moon are also Sanātan. Bhagwan Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (15.7) mamai vamso jiva-lokejiva-bhutah sanatanah – "I dwell eternally in each and every entity, I live in every creature".

This indwelling nature is Shiva tattva, the'soul' or jivatma. And jiva becomes Shiva through sadhana (practice), prayers and following culture. Therefore, this mantra is saying that, "all creatures are my essence and are a part of me."

World situation

We may pray for peace on Earth – but how do we create this peace? We must follow culture, which is Sanātan. Our beloved gurudev, Paramhans Swami Madhavananda often said, "One in all and all in one. "Just as all liquid on the planet shares the single water element, all living beings share the one consciousness –Shiva tattva.

Over time, humans lost their understanding of this one consciousness, mistakenly starting to differentiate between "mine" and "yours".This is why we have so much war and fighting now, through trying to divide the Earth and its people. For instance, when the British came to India, their slogan was 'to divide and conquer', and using this destructive principle, they were able to rule over the people of India by changing their language and culture.

Conflicts are based on our perceptions of liking and disliking, agreeing or disagreeing. This is an ignorance that we have allowed to grow within our culture when, in reality, we all are all brothers and sisters, sharing the same universal consciousness. Therefore, let us return to this understanding by following the true culture of Sanātana Dharma.


All cultures are good cultures, but we should also take care of agriculture. The most important culture is agriculture, as it nurtures and protects us all.However, agriculture is being destroyed through greed and with poison.

In today's world, cancer is more prevalent than ever before. We live in a 'chemical culture' where our food is polluted with synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, and seeds are genetically manipulated and no longer natural. However, few of us seek out the best antidote and medicine – organic food. If enough people were to refuse to buy anything poisoned with chemicals or genetically manipulated, they would soon be outlawed by governments.

Culture is like a beautiful garden.Is it the garden itself that is beautiful? No, because a garden can be just a dry and barren piece of land. It is the many different flowers and trees that are beautiful, and by working in harmony with these, a gardener creates that beauty. When we truly understand and work with culture, we will be like that gardener.

We all have the power to act and make a difference – if you love your family, then buy and eat only healthy, organic food.

Importance of culture

Bhagwan Sri Deep Mahaprabhuji said in one of his bhajans (Sataguru satasangiya ri olu ave) that there are many different kinds of fire. Longing or yearning is also a type of fire.It is called viraha.

This bhajan tells of Saint Meera Bai who said: "Full of longing, my heart is burning, I am wandering in a forest, I have not found any vedya (knowledge) to cure this disease."

When we remove a fish from water, she suffers. And in suffering, she gives up her life. What she is suffering from is a longing for water, which is her life – her culture.The pure swan paramhansa can only eat pearls and not fish. And there is one bird which, during the monsoon season, is longing for water, but will only drink directly from the falling raindrops, and not from the water on the ground.These are all examples of culture.

Culture is like a beautiful garden.Is it the garden itself that is beautiful? No, because a garden can be just a dry and barren piece of land. It is the many different flowers and trees that are beautiful, and by working in harmony with these, a gardener creates that beauty. When we truly understand and work with culture, we will be like that gardener.

Where there is culture, there is no hinsa– no violence. There is only ahimsa – non-violence. Where there is culture there are no dualities, no fighting and no wilful killing of any kind. Where there is culture, there is friendship. Culture is the beauty of the human.

His Holiness Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Sri Swami Maheshwarananda Puri of Panchayati Maha Nirvani Akhara is the disciple and successor of Hindu Dharmsamrat Paramhans Sri Swami Madhavananda. Since 1970 he has been living and working in Europe. Through his long lasting activities in the West, Swamiji has become familiar with the way of life and the problems people face in the modern world. Swami Ji can be contacted at :