Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 6th June 2016

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Enlightening the Saints

It is normally believed that when a person renounces the worldly pleasures and chooses to become a saint, he is free from the compulsions of studies and other worldly chores. However, the reality is contrary to the commonly held beliefs. In certain Hindu sects, there is an intensive study course that matches the curriculum of any renowned university. For instance, at BAPS (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purshottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) there is a Saint Taleem Kendra (Saint Training Center) in place that teaches new renunciate various courses like cooking or disaster management. Ketan Mistry studies the course that seeks to enlighten the saints.

The story kicks off with the author citing a number of cases where well-placed professionals choose the path of renunciation. Take the instance of Harshal Yadav or Bhavin Patel or Harikrishna Patel who could have opted for a life of luxury and material comforts. Yet, they felt inspired to join the BAPS sect so that they could serve a greater cause.

However the first query that emerges in one’s mind is what these renunciates are expected to do at their Ashrams? It is normally assumed that they just become saints after forsaking all worldly pleasures in quest for inner peace and perhaps in response to the greater calling.

In the bygone eras, there was a Guru-Shishya Parampara according to which Guru would inculcate in his pupils the lessons and values of religious strictures. At the BAPS, the same practice is followed in a modified avatar.

Recently the centenary of Sarangpur temple was celebrated at Sarangpur in august presence of and under the blessings of Pujya Pramukhswami Maharaj, who at the Diksha Mahotsav, which was incidentally one of the aspects of the celebrations, gave initiation to 68 young seekers.

As per the rules of BAPS, any young aspirant taking initiation has to undergo training for period ranging from three and a half years to five and a half years. In the curriculum of the Saint Taleem Kendra of BAPS, various courses like study of Sanskrit-Gujarati language, devotional music, cooking, making flower-garlands, farming, supervision and care of Gaushala, maintenance of cleanliness and so on are included. Apart from these subjects, study of disaster management has also been incorporated.

It must be mentioned here that the fresh saints coming as they do from diverse places from countries like England-America to tribal areas in Silvasa, Dang, live here together, eat, study and discharge their responsibilities as entrusted without any class difference.

It is mandatory for any one aspiring to be initiated to bring a consent letter from his parents. He has to then live in Sarangpur as a Sadhak (one who wishes to accomplish) for one full year. During this one year, he has to live like a saint, but can have limited contact with outside world. He can even call his home albeit with his seniors’ permission. The objective of this phase is to acclimatize and familiarize the renunciate with the saint-life.

While on his part, in this one year the Sadhak would clearly ascertain what his life as a saint would be like, his gurus too would assess his suitability to be a saint. There have been few cases of young people having retraced steps after undergoing this one-year test.

What follows one’s test for one year is what is called Parshadi Diksha, meaning initial diksha. After another year he is given a final diksha. Eventually, at the end of five year course, he would be entrusted with various responsibilities. He may even be asked to serve in one of the numerous temples of BAPS based in various countries.

In Gandhinagar Akshardham, a Water Show is held every evening, which is based on Nachiketa’s questions. Given the way new saints are trained at this Training Center, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Pramukh Swami is preparing scores of Nachiketas.

Besides the Swaminarayan sect, there are also other sects that follow this modern version of Guru-Shishya parampara with equal vigour and zeal. This includes ISCON, Buddhism and Jainism, to name a few. In the Hare Krishna Panth, besides teaching the scripture lessons to the new Diksharthis, emphasis is placed on their good conduct and the need to serve others, says Samir Paleja.

In Buddhism, initiation was never not granted without the seekers having to fulfill certain tough guidelines. Here, the aspirants were required to undergo training for as many as 3 years before they were found suitable for the arduous journey ahead. Of course, once initiated, they would be imparted thorough learning of scriptures. They are however always trained to work for the welfare of people.

Being so elaborate and backed by learned monks, Jainism cannot be left behind in following this guru-shishya parampara. Fresh renunciates have to imbibe the spirit of renunciation, understanding of the principles of Jainism and realize the importance of allegiance to their gurus, says Mahesh Shah

Godhra Train Key Accused Arrested after 14 years

Farouk Bhana, one of the key conspirators of the 2002 Godhra train burning incident that left 59 karsevaks dead and 40 injured has finally been arrested by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad. The police was tipped off about Farouk’s regular visit to his home to meet his family members.

Farouk had carried kerosene to torch the S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train near the Godhra railway station. He was finally picked up from Kaalol town, 25 kms from Godhra.

He also faces the charge of provoking a mob to commit the horrific crime. Farouk’s ghastly crime led to Hindu-Muslim riots that engulfed the whole state. So far 94 people have been arrested in this case, reports Mahesh Shah.

Reusable Launch Vehicle: Result of Indigenous Technology

India recently launched a reusable launch vehicle which is capable of sending spacecraft into orbit and returning to the earth’s surface. This adds one feather to the multi-feathered cap of ISRO-Indian Space Research Organization. This feat is expected to drastically cut down India’s expense of launching space shuttle satellites in the years to come, says Hiren Mehta

The whole operation may not have lasted more than 10 minutes, though this short time was enough to guide the ISRO for the next 15 years. Not only would it launch satellites into space and re-enter the earth’s atmosphere withstanding all accompanying pressures, the RLV would also land in a pre-fixed spot.

In a way this is a revolution in the making.

Apart from the above, there is a delicious story by Devanshu Desai on how mango growers are now opting for high-tech methods in place of traditional ones for growing Alphonso variety of mangoes.

The issue also has Political & Humour columns, Palak, Cardiogram, a new short story, Priyadarshini, Health Helpline, Jalsaghar and Mukhwas

Ishita’s Elchi

It is ironical that even the silence of a jealous person is sometimes very noisy..!!