TURKISH TELEVISION ‘BUILDING BRIDGES’ interviewed Dr JERNAIL SINGH AANAND sometime back.
THE INTERVIEW OF DR J.S. ANAND WITH THE TURKISH TV. BUILDING BRIDGES.
Building Bridges writes:
Dr. J. S. Anand is a philosopher from India.He holds a doctoral degree in English Literature, from Panjab University, Chandigarh studying Mysticism in the Poetry of Walt Whitman. Dr. Anand is the Principal of the co-educational institute DAV College [now retired]. He is also the author of 35 books, a majority of which is English Poetry. His book on spirituality BLISS: The Ultimate Magic wielded much influence in the middle east, and is being translated into Persian. [already translated and published in Iran]. Welcome to our show. Dr. Anand. We are honored to have you here as our guest today.
1- Dr. Anand we believe that there is only one God and one God only. This fact could be a unifying power that will bring people, countries, faiths, nations and cultures together. Do you think that this is possible in the near future?
Your question relates directly to my idea of Spiritual Globalization of Mankind. And my answer would be an affirmative Yes. All we need is a change of perspective. A change of our thinking apparatus. WE NEED TO CHANGE THE CHIP that works inside us. We only have to realize certain basic truths:
That you are precious to me.
We are many, not different.
Difference makes no difference.
We have to realize that the DIFFERENCES are geographical only. The prophets, who established various religions, were meant TO CIVILIZE THE BARBARIAN races. And, the civilization which we find today, is the result of the positivity spread by various religions among the people.
Our problem is that we have OVER-EMPHASISED our DIFFERENTNESS.
Which has forced the world into conflicts. Every society is suffering from the overdose of religiosity. RELIGION in it pristine form teaches love, kindness, charity and faith in God. But, in practice, these very things are missing. It means the MESSAGE has been MISCARRIED.
The Prophets have been misinterpreted and teachings have been diverted from the ENLIGHTENED SELF towards the SELFISH SELF. The rot started when RELIGION began a PROFESSION with some people, and then, RELIGION was used to inject poison in the minds of unsuspecting people.
The economic revival of the world as ONE globalized world has one advantage, that people are highly interconnected. Their perspectives are changing. They are more accommodating. They are more tolerant. Still, we are far from the IDEAL STATE in which we shall have an OVER-RIDING FEELING OF BELONGING TO ONE MASTER, ONE GOD.
We all belong to Him. We all belong to each other. Our interests are common. And COMMON IS OUR DESTINY. We cannot have a separate destiny for a particular set of people. The basic fundamentals are the same. IF WE LOVE, WE PROSPER. If we do not love, and if we hate and distrust, OUR WORLD will BE A FRACTURED WORLD. And it will violate the WILL OF GOD who wants all of us to REALISE OUR DESTINY in a spirit of BROTHERHOOD. We are inching towards that goal, only we shall have to be wary.
2- Could you please tell us about your books and poets and their effects in the world? And last week you have been canonized as an author with the publication in a famed international Journal ‘LANGUAGE IN INDIA’ of an article by Dr. Roghayeh Farsi from Neyshabur University, iran, entitled;
FROM WASTELAND TO WRETECHEDLAND: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF J.S. ANAND’S AND T.S. ELIOT’S POETRY’. May we have your comments on that?
I have been writing in English since 1985 and authored about two dozen books, mostly of English poetry, including spirituality, fiction and non-fiction. Two of my works stand out as most influential. One was BLISS: The Ultimate Magic published in 2007. This book contains some spiritual experiences, which were highly individual and in very simple language, this book explains how we can attain a BALANCE in our life. This book is being translated into Persian in Iran. And people in Italy and America have and several people from religious outfits in India too have read this work. Sister Nivedita, from Swami Vivekanda’s Ashram, was surprised to see the similarity of the message with Swami Vivekananda.
Similarly, the book Beyond Life Beyond Death on which an Iranian Scholar Dr. Roghayeh Farsi has published an article, in an international journal, you are referring to, is a post-modern text, which brings out the angst of the post-modern man, who is losing his most cherished thing: that is his identity. His features have become distorted due to his unnatural passions, and the poet feels:
No Christ can rescue Adam’s army
Besieged by knowledge, pride and lust;
Prophets come Prophets go,
Leaving the darkness denser below.
To put the things in perspective, let me bring into focus The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot in the early 20th century which was a turning point for the literary studies of the times. The Wasteland lamented the soul less life of the people, who had lost faith in religion, and the earth had stopped bearing flowers. It had lost its fertility. T.S. Eliot rested his faith in the REVIVING POWERS OF RELIGION and believed that RELIGIONS like Buddhism can RESTORE the FERTILITY OF THE WASTELAND.
But, in my work, Beyond Life Beyond Death, published almost a century after Eliot’s The Wasteland, it has been found that RELIGION has failed TO DO ITS DUTY. To civilize the human race. RATHER, the people who believed in various religions, had lost their moorings. They had further SLIPPED INTO THE WRETCHEDLAND…Religion had stopped making any sense to them, because of crash commercialism, marketiziation, commodification of life systems. Now, what matters are bucks, millionization of dollars, corruption, and savagery of the worst order. Religion, the saviour, has become RELIGION, the VICTIM.
It raises the question: Why religion has failed to stem the rot? This is the most mind boggling question that this work raises, and the feelings is that whenever a Prophet comes, there is some light, like lightning in the dark skies, and then, the DARKNESS BECOMES DENSER THAN BEFORE.
The book calls upon the readers to accept modernity, without becoming its HELPLESS VICTIMS. We have to BRING RELIGION BACK TO ITS PRISTINE POSITION. Otherwise, this WASTELAND, which has BECOME A WRETCHEDLAND NOW, may further AGGRAVATE into A PLACE OF NO RETURN for humanity.
- Bigotry is a very important problem in the world. It limits democracy and freedoms. Bigots are enemies of science, artistry, women and peace. Do you see the effects of bigotry in your country and what can we do to eradicate bigotry in all areas of life?
Unfortunately, bigotry is a part of religious outfits. Bigotry is the fixing up of the mind in a particular frame, and then, losing all flexibility, and now allowing any relaxation, not accommodating any change. I think RELIGION which could have been an INSTRUMENT OF CHANGE has been turned into a TOOL RESISTING THE CHANGE. There is progress is all fields of life. Things are changing. Perspectives are changing. We are adjusting to newer ways of life. But it is bigotry which stops so many people from CHANGING WITH THE CHANGE. This bigotry is the reason behind the poverty, backwardness, of so many societies in the world. In the Christian world, I would like to mention that Religion and Politics had to change their spaces. Religion has been given a back space in Politics and running of the state. And this accounts for all the growth and prosperity that came to the western nations. All democracy all freedom that these people enjoy, are because of liberal views, and a religion which accepts, believes in love, charity, kindness, and does not lead the political outfits by the nose.
But in certain countries, bigotry has taken the centre stage and politics has been thrust back. This is most happening in Islamic countries. In such countries, there is a cut on freedom, and democracy is also illusory. In such cases, women are relegated to a secondary position, and there is no question of gender equality.
So far as India is concerned, and as I belong to Punjab, and am from Sikh religion, I can say that India is a MULTI-RELIGIOUS, AND MULTI-CULTURAL nation, and the general ethos of the people is that of ACCEPTANCE, ACCOMMODATION AND ASSIMILATION. There are political parties which do profess a Hindu agenda, and talk in terms of fundamentalism, but THE DOMINANT IDEOLOGY of HINDUISM does not go with the bigots. Sporadic incidents here and there apart, the GENERAL MINDSET OF THE PEOPLE IS OF TOLERANCE AND TRUST.
No Discrimination is done in the name of RELIGON, and people from all walks of life SHARE THE CENTRE OF THE POLITICAL, AS WELL AS THE SOCIAL ARENA.
Bigotry is a self-limiting, self-circumscribing creed. It is like a house which has no windows, no ventilators, … it is like a stuffy room, in which, it is not easy to breathe.
The best thing would be to have an ideal mix of the two. I believe that a man must be rooted strongly in his religion. But at the same time, he must believe that other religions too are true. If we can give respect to them, they will give respect to us. We should not look into the loopholes of other people. Loopholes are a shared destiny of mankind. The desire to MAKE OTHERS THINK AS YOU THINK, and LIVE AS YOU LIVE, and BELIEVE AS YOU BELIEVE is behind all the trouble that the world has seen over the centuries. People who come to power grow crazy and think that WHAT THEY THINK IS THE BEST. Such paranoia leads to SAVAGERY and COERSION which is anti-thetic to DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM.
For the cause of democracy, and freedom, and for extending equality to women, we need LIBERAL REGIMES. Bigotry cuts at the roots of freedom and keeps under slavery half the population of the world, i.e. women.
- Due to radical views of some bigots the Western world has a very misconceived perspective of Islam. But real Islam is about love, peace, brotherhood, compassion, mercy and justice. What can we do to communicate this message of Islam starting from the education system?
So far as the theoretical part is concerned, each religion including Islam preaches goodness, kindness, brother, compassion, mercy and justice. Christianity, Sikhism, Hindusim, Buddhism, Jainism, most of these religion are based on A VERY HEALTHY SYSTEM OF SOCIAL LIVING AND PERSONAL SALVATION. There are differences of diction only. No religious scripture teaches violence, coercion, or even hatred.
But the problem arises when WE LIMIT ALL THESE FEELINGS OF GOODNESS to member of our own RELIGIOUS OUTFIT. History is testimony to the fact that people have waged wars in the name of religion. And people have used the sword to spread the religion. Looking into the pages of history, one wonders SO MUCH PERSECUTION has taken place in the name of religion.
The western world looks upon Islam as it is being practiced in different countries. Actions speak more loudly than intentions. There have been constant problems in Islamic countries in the name of religious outfits. The third person who looks at these countries wonders if it is all the teachings of the Prophet which are being put into practice.
THE LOPSIDED VIEW of Islam which is prevalent in Western world can be corrected, not by any argument, or by any debate, nor is it a game of one-upmanship. It is only through the ACTIONS OF THE ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD which can change the IMAGE OF ISLAM in the eyes of the western world.
I think IT NEEDS AN INDIVIDUAL AGENDA for every MEMBER OF THE BROTHERHOOD:
 TO CONVINCE HIMSELF THAT GOD HAS CREATED ALL THE WORLD
 NO RELIGION IS SUPERIOR TO ANY OTHER RELIGION.
 EVERY BODY HAS THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP HIS OWN RELIGON.
 IF WE HAD THE RIGHT TO PROMOTE OUR RELIGION, OTHERS TOO HAVE THE SAME RIGHT. THEREFORE, IT SHOULD NOT BE DONE BY DENIGRATING OTHER RELIGIONS.
 ONCE WE ARE CONVINCED, THAT WE ARE BORN OF THE SAME FATHER, IT MEANS WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. IF WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER, ONLY DIFFERENCE IS OF OUR SKIN, AND LANGUAGE WE SPEAK, THERE IS NO REASON TO FIGHT AND FINISH OTHERS.
 EACH INDIVIDUAL MUST PRACTISE THE VIRTUE OF TOLERANCE TOWARDS OTHER RELIGIONS, AND NEVER INSIST THAT YOUR VIEW IS THE ONLY VIEW, AND IT IS RIGHT. AND ALL OTHERS ARE FAKE.
 WE MUST GRANT TO THE OTHER INDIVIDUAL THE RIGHT TO HAVE HIS OWN VIEWS, HE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO EXPRESS HIS VIEWS, AND IF WE DON’T LIKE HIS VIEWS, WE SHOULD NOT PROCEED TO FORCE HIM UNDER PRESSURE TO ACCEPT OUR VIEW POINT, OR IF WE FAIL, TO FINISH HIM.
 THE WESTERN WORLD IS THE WORLD OF CHANGE. EACH INDIVIDUAL MUST ACCEPT THE CHANGE, WITHOUT DISTURBING THE ORIGINALITY OF HIS FAITH.
 IN A NUTSHELL, EACH INVIDIUAL SHOULD DEVELOP THE BASIC IDEALS OF ISLAM INTO HIS CHARACTER. THEY SHOULD BE A PART OF HIS POSSESSIONS. IT IS ONLY LOVE FOR THE CREATION WHICH CAN SAVE THE WORLD FROM SELF-DESTRUCTION. AND TRULY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE CAN SAVE HE WORLD. WHO UNDERSTAND AND IMBIBE ITS DYNAMICS.
- You have a Muslim majority in the country and the second largest Shia population in the world. How are your relations with Muslim communities and Christian communities for that matter?
I have mentioned earlier also. India is a multi-racial, multi-cultural country, and the dominant ideology of the country is that of TOLERANCE towards all other religions. Every community, whether Muslims or Christians have full rights under the Constitution to promote their own religious and cultural activities, and even open their own educational and cultural associations. So far as Muslim community is concerned, the people of India consider them as Indians.
India has been ruled by the Congress party for a very long period, and this party is truly secular in its outlook. India has had very renowned Muslim as its First Citizen the Presidents of India. And the Muslim community has always stood by the Indian interests and the cause of mother India.
Same is the case with Christians. India got freedom in 1947 from the colonial rule. Still, our relations with Britan are quite normal. There is no bitterness. Rather, in a spirit of give and take, with the western world, India is now emerging the fastest growing economy of the world. It is all because of the LIBERAL POLITICS in India. The fundamental voices are there, sometimes there are bloody clashes as well, BUT A LIVING AND GROWING ORGANISM that India is, we know how to GET PAST THESE issues, and resume the NORMAL GAIT of LIFE.
Christians are running their own Institutions, and participating in the political life of the country. They have the freedom to promote and propagate their religion. There has never been any conflict of interest.
For Muslims too, Indians don’t have any rancour. Even when there are tensions on the border, there is PEACE in the Muslim dominated areas.
THIS IS THE REAL INDIAN SPIRIT WHICH WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CULTIVATE and it is THIS SPIRIT OF MATURITY AND ASSIMILATIVE GOODWILL which has catapulted India into a FORCE IN WORLD AFFAIRS.
No doubt, India has behind it a very strong SPIRITUAL TRADITION which Muslims too have. Only, they need to CULTIVATE THEIR SUFI TRADITION, which can ACCOMOODATE THE DIFFERENCES, AND VALUE THEM.