Culture viewed in Universal Perspective

Being modern or traditional in the culture is decided within one’s own mind. Rest all is just opinions and illusions.

IllusionThe roots of culture and traditions goes back to the history of evolution. The entire transition of humanity from a mere animal to critical thinking brains as we are today, is because of living practices we adapted from time to time.

Such living practices existed along with the ever passing time, we name them as cultures and traditions.

What is Modern for today will be tomorrow’s culture/taboo. Many of the yesterday’s cultures have become myth, superstitions and comedies. What we thought un-doable or unethical are taboos! At any given point of time, all these are mere perceptions either according to one person or a collective perspective of a society. Which is not created by the universe, but by our very own mankind.

We can understand this if we believe in a bigger fact called Universal Truth. More wider we think, magnify our thought-scale, more clearer we can see the big picture of human culture.

Different countries have different code of ethics and culture, the modernity levels vary according to their own scale. Take any example of your choice like marriage, drinking, beach culture, dining habits, dressing sense, work culture, politics, etc. You can see the difference and when we correlate it with the history, the truth will be exposed. Modernity varies and the conflicts between people for acceptance was always there! 

A simple process of one belief, seeking its approval from a majority of the people and it is attained either by will or driven by some forces like kings, wars, spiritualism, religion or fear of death, etc.

So this modernity is something which is highly unstable and temporary one. We cannot stop the change and cannot limit it to a particular direction. During the times of Sati and Wars to capture kingdoms, no one would have thought that culture will be replaced by Modern free lifestyles like Live-in relationships and Democracy, respectively. We didn’t know the same gods 1000s of years before! We do not know what gods we may worship after 1000 years from now! When we humans had discovered iron we cherished it in our culture, then we celebrated salt! Now we are going behind Gold, Money , etc. Wait for something to allure us in the future! 🙂

GreedThen what controls the Culture? or what controls the change? Would be a right way to ask this. The desire of human minds! As individuals we are constantly on a look out for something that keeps us in a comfort level. We humans never bend to the environment, instead we shape and alter the environment to suit our needs. Be it social environment or physical environment. We adapt actually by changing the culture (way of life) than changing ourselves in accordance with universal truth.

So are the problems and our constant wandering to find solutions for them. We are the creators!

One good thing is whatever we try, our human species cannot defy the universal truth and we are always under its terms and conditions. Like we cannot switch from inhaling oxygen to nitrogen or CO2. We cannot survive in a culture which exploits nature and other living beings to put us on top of the ladder.

You might feel this is more philosophical or spiritual way of looking things. Think again deep, it’s practical and psychological as well.

So it’s better to realize the change we can control when it comes to culture is totally limited only to our very own selves. We can control nothing beyond our nose, which all becomes external. Do not try to change the culture or the society, you can change yourself and influence it for a change you want! Culture keeps on changing.

ChangeEven that too will be a temporary one! So, take a back seat when it comes to culture and enjoy the ride as life brings with smile and acceptance. Do what is right for you within your own boundaries, when you include others into your wants, then you are obviously inviting their cultural acceptance or  a change, for your own wants! So from there onwards complexity begins! The old saying goes the same “What’s right for one may be wrong for another!”

Get along with people who are like minded and make life simple. Although ensure you are in sync with the universal truth, which provides you the message and hints towards the right path of life. Those hints are kindness, love, calmness, peace, compassion, simplicity, sustainability, happiness, letting go, etc. After all these thoughts too are my way of looking things, so the choice is yours. 🙂 Have a great time ahead.

- Din

Courtesy : This is my entry for the IndiSpire Prompt If you value your traditions and culture, you’re branded conservative. While modernity is judged by clothes rather than thoughts. What’s you take on this topic? posted by Gaurab

Thanks Gaurab and Inidblogger.

Culture & People : Temple of Rats, Rajasthan, India

Near the India – Pakistan border and around 30 kms from Bikaner in Rajasthan, India, lies a small town called Deshnoke. The town is famous for its ancient temple, known as Karni Mata temple, which goes back 600 years. Goddess Karni is worshipped here, but that is not the only reason for the temple’s fame.The Karni Mata temple shelters more than 20,000 rodents! Built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the early 1900’s the temple has a remarkable entrance, decorated with silver and gold. With thousands of tiny, brown blurs of motion bustling across its marble floor. It looks as though you may have entered a kingdom of rats and they are all busy going about their daily routine. These rats eat, run, sleep and do almost everything like other rats, and surprisingly the disturbance by the hoards of visitors does not seem to bother them.

 

These rats not just reside within the temple in complete harmony with the visitors but are also worshipped and loved by them. They are so cherished that if one of them dies, it has to be replaced with a rat made of solid gold.Not just Indians but also fascinated tourists from across the world come to the temple to pay their respects and experience the miracle. Hindu newly-weds consider it auspicious to seek blessings from the Goddess when starting a new chapter in their life. Karni Mata,a mystic matriarch from the 14th century, was believed to be a reincarnation of Goddess Durga. She lived as an ascetic most her life and was also the deity of the royals of Bikaner. The reason why thousands of rats, locally known as ‘Kabba’ are worshiped at the temple is linked to a legend. The legend goes back in time when Goddess Karni was alive. One day, the son of one of her clansmen from the Charan community died. In an attempt to get the child back to life, Karni Mata went to Yama Devta, the Hindu God of Death. Yama told her that the child has already been reincarnated as a rat and sent back to earth. This led to a deal between Karni Mata and Yama, that from that point onwards all of her clansmen would be reborn as rats until they could be born again into the clan.

White Rat KArni Mata TempleThere are also some other uncanny facts related to the temple. Unexplainable but true that these 20,000 rats live inside the temple boundaries and never leave. Yet more surprising is that no one knows how they reproduce as no one has ever seen any baby rats here. Almost all the rats are of a standard size and their number has remained constant. This is contrary to the popular rat behavior, which is to multiply rapidly. Yet another wonder is that unlike common rats, these rats do not fear or run away from humans. Instead they climb on the visitors’ shoulders and even eat from their hands, which is considered a blessing. The holy rats are offered milk, sweets, grains and fruits in to receive Karni Mata’s blessings. Eating food or drinking water from the rats’ bowls of offerings is considered a great blessing. There are a couple of white rats in the temple, which are considered holy. Sighting them is considered hugely auspicious. 

The temple gates are sprung open for the visitors at 4:00 a.m. each morning and people queue up for the blessings of Karni Mata. The day turns into night with thousands of rats dining with the people and scampering over their feet. It is an unbelievable sight, which cannot be expressed in simple words. One has to experience this wonder personally to believe it.The thought of visiting such a place might feel disgusting to a person but despite being home to a large number of rats the temple is reasonably clean!Amazingly there have never been reports of any rat-related disease in or around the temple.It may seem strange that a rodent, which is commonly associated with plague and other diseases, is worshiped like a deity. But the miraculous temple is running on the immense faith and belief that the people have in the deity — Karni Mata and the large army of her tiny supporters! 


Courtesy : WildFilmsIndia and National Geographic

 

Know : 11 Burial Practices you may never heard of

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1. Air Sacrifice – Mongolia

Lamas direct the entire ceremony, with their number determined by the social standing of the deceased. They decide the direction the entourage will travel with the body, to the specific day and time the ceremony can happen.

Mongolians believe in the return of the soul. Therefore the lamas pray and offer food to keep evil spirits away and to protect the remaining family. They also place blue stones in the dead persons bed to prevent evil spirits from entering it.

No one but a lama is allowed to touch the corpse, and a white silk veil is placed over the face. The naked body is flanked by men on the right side of the yurt while women are placed on the left. Both have their respective right or left hand placed under their heads, and are situated in the fetal position.

The family burns incense and leaves food out to feed all visiting spirits. When the time comes to remove the body, it must be passed through a window or a hole cut in the wall to prevent evil from slipping in while the door is open.

The body is taken away from the village and laid on the open ground. A stone outline is placed around it, and then the village dogs that have been penned up and not fed for days are released to consume the remains. What is left goes to the local predators.

The stone outline remains as a reminder of the person. If any step of the ceremony is left out, no matter how trivial, bad karma is believed to ensue.

2. Sky Burial – Tibet

This is similar to the Mongolian ceremony. The deceased is dismembered by a rogyapa, or body breaker, and left outside away from any occupied dwellings to be consumed by nature.

To the western mind, this may seem barbaric, as it did to the Chinese who outlawed the practice after taking control of the country in the 1950s. But in Buddhist Tibet, it makes perfect sense. The ceremony represents the perfect Buddhist act, known as Jhator. The worthless body provides sustenance for the birds of prey that are the primary consumers of its flesh.

To a Buddhist, the body is but an empty shell, worthless after the spirit has departed. Most of the country is surrounded by snowy peaks, and the ground is too solid for traditional earth internment. Likewise, being mostly above the tree line, there is not enough fuel for cremation.

3. Pit Burial – Pacific Northwest Haida

Before white contact, the indigenous people of the American northwest coast, particularly the Haida, simply cast their dead into a large open pit behind the village.

Their flesh was left to the animals. But if one was a chief, shaman, or a warrior, things were quite different.

The body was crushed with clubs until it fits into a small wooden box about the size of a piece of modern luggage. It was then fitted atop a totem pole in front of the longhouse of the man’s tribe where the various icons of the totem acted as guardians for the spirits’ journey to the next world.

Written history left to us by the first missionaries to the area all speak of an unbelievable stench at most of these villages. Today, this practice is outlawed.

4. Viking Burial – Scandinavia

We have all seen images of a Viking funeral with the body laid out on the deck of a dragon ship, floating into the sunset while warriors fire flaming arrows to ignite the pyre.

While very dramatic, burning a ship is quite expensive, and not very practical.

What we do know is most Vikings, being a seafaring people, were interred in large graves dug in the shape of a ship and lined with rocks. The person’s belongings and food were placed beside them. Men took their weapons to the next world, while women were laid to rest wearing their finest jewelry and accessories.

If the deceased was a nobleman or great warrior, his woman was passed from man to man in his tribe, who all made love to her (some would say raped) before strangling her, and placing her next to the body of her man. Thankfully, this practice is now, for the most part, extinct.

5. Fire Burial – Bali

On the mostly Hindu Isle of Bali, fire is the vehicle to the next life. The body or Mayat is bathed and laid out on a table where food offerings are laid beside it for the journey.

Lanterns line the path to the person’s hut to let people know he or she has passed, and act as a reminder of their life so they are not forgotten.

It is then interred in a mass grave with others from the same village who have passed on until it is deemed there are a sufficient number of bodies to hold a cremation.

The bodies are unearthed, cleaned, and stacked on an elaborate float, gloriously decorated by the entire village and adorned with flowers. The float is paraded through the village to the central square where it is consumed by flames, and marks the beginning of a massive feast to honor and remember the dead.

6. Spirit Offerings – Southeast Asia

Throughout most of Southeast Asia, people have been buried in the fields where they lived and worked. It is common to see large stone monuments in the middle of a pasture of cows or water buffalo.

The Vietnamese leave thick wads of counterfeit money under rocks on these monuments so the deceased can buy whatever they need on their way to the next life

In Cambodia and Thailand, wooden “spirit houses” sit in front of almost every hut from the poorest to the most elaborate estate. These are places where food and drink are left periodically for the souls of departed relatives to refuel when necessary. The offerings of both countries also ask the spirits of the relatives to watch over the lands and the families left behind.

7. Predator Burial – Maasai Tribe

The Maasai of East Africa are hereditary nomads who believe in a deity known as Enkai, but this is not a single being or entity.

It is a term that encompasses the earth, sky, and all that dwells below. It is a difficult concept for western minds that are more used to traditional religious beliefs than those of so-called primitive cultures.

Actual burial is reserved for chiefs as a sign of respect, while the common people are simply left outdoors for predators to dispose of, since Maasai believe dead bodies are harmful to the earth. To them when you are dead, you are simply gone. There is no afterlife.

8. Skull Burial – Kiribati

On the tiny island of Kiribati the deceased is laid out in their house for no less than three days and as long as twelve, depending on their status in the community. Friends and relatives make a pudding from the root of a local plant as an offering.

Several months after internment the body is exhumed and the skull removed, oiled, polished, and offered tobacco and food. After the remainder of the body is re-interred, traditional islanders keep the skull on a shelf in their home and believe the native god Nakaa welcomes the dead person’s spirit in the northern end of the islands.

9. Cave Burial – Hawaii

In the Hawaiian Islands, a traditional burial takes place in a cave where the body is bent into a fetal position with hands and feet tied to keep it that way, then covered with a tapa cloth made from the bark of a mulberry bush.

Sometimes the internal organs are removed and the cavity filled with salt to preserve it. The bones are considered sacred and believed to have divine power.

Many caves in Hawaii still contain these skeletons, particularly along the coast of Maui.

10. Ocean Burial

Since most of our planet is covered with water, burial at sea has long been the accepted norm for mariners the world over.

By international law, the captain of any ship, regardless of size or nationality has the authority to conduct an official burial service at sea.

The traditional burial shroud is a burlap bag, being cheap and plentiful, and long in use to carry cargo. The deceased is sewn inside and is weighted with rocks or other heavy debris to keep it from floating.

If available, the flag of their nation covers the bag while a service is conducted on the deck. The body is then slid from under the flag, and deposited in Davy Jones locker.

In olden days, the British navy mandated that the final stitch in the bag had to go through the deceased person’s lip, just to make sure they really were dead. (If they were still alive, having a needle passed through their skin would revive them).

It is quite possible that sea burial has been the main form of burial across the earth since before recorded history.

11. The Advanced Technology : Space Burial

Today, if one has enough money, you can be launched into space aboard a private commercial satellite and a capsule containing your ashes will be in permanent orbit around the earth.

Perhaps this is the ultimate burial ceremony, or maybe the beginning of a whole new era in which man continues to find new and innovative ways to invoke spirits and provide a safe passage to whatever awaits us at the end of this life.

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Courtesy : Scribd

Story : Following Rules? Then know the Monkey Experiment

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We have a lot of traditions and rules, do we ever ask ourselves why?

Powerful Quote #108 : Culture

Every culture has its own reasons behind their existence, an output of many generations’ learning. Neither follow nor deny them without understanding the actual reasons. A blind following and an outright denial both do the same to kill a culture, instead of bettering it.

– Words by Din

Culture