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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Heartiest Greeting from plural and inclusive Banaras!

Dear Lenin Raghuvanshi,

What a delight it is to hear from you, and about Pluralism.

If there is a special duty for me to do like a speech on pluralism, I can work on making the trip in a short notice.

Here is my bio on pluralism
A whole lot more is at www.foundationfopluralism.com and http://foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com and of course my site www.theghousediary.com and http://MikeghouseforIndia.blogspot.com

Please send an invitation to process visa in a hurry.

Thank you
Mike Ghouse,
Pluralism Center | Education, Research and Activism
Pluralism is "Respecting the otherness of others"
Studies in social, religious, cultural and political pluralism

In a message dated 7/24/2014 10:04:29 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, pvchr.india@gmail.com writes:

Heartiest Greeting from plural and inclusive Banaras!

Varanasi, one of the oldest and continuously inhabited cities in the world is known also as Banaras or Kashi and incorporates the different school of thoughts, religions which makes it the centre of attraction among people across the globe.

One side it is known as the prominent city for followers of Hindu religion and on the other hand it is known also as the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon[i] (dhamma chakkra parivartan) in 528 BC. It is one of the holy cities of Jainism, and one of the epicentres of the Bhakti movement (a current dating back to Hindu medieval times very close to Sufi Islam, ed.) Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, visited Varanasi in 1507 and was inspired by the city. The three Tirthankars[ii] of Jain religion were also born at this place. Thus Varanasi holds equally high place among followers of Hindu and other religions.

Varanasi has been the birthplace and work place for Sant Kabir[iii], Sant Raidas[iv] and Sen Nai, opposing sectarian thinking, communalism and casteism. They established the dignity of labour with spiritualism. Maulana Alvi brought here the world famous Banarsi silk artisan saree work that now has a Bollywood celebrity as its brand ambassador. Banaras has been home to several great personalities from the field of art, culture, music and literature.

A poet-saint, reformer and philosopher Tulsidas[v]' doctrine has been described as an assimilation and reconciliation of the diverse tenets and cultures of Hinduism taught reconciliation. Munshi Premchand[vi], an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature was famous for both his Hindi and Urdu writings. Great author Bhartendu Harishchandra, Jai Shankar Prasad, Dr Shyam Sunderdas and Acharya Ramchandra Shukla have had Baranas as their home.

The city has had four Bharat Ratna(the highest civilian award of the Republic of India)[vii] recipients too. The Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan[viii], Lal Bahadur Shastri[ix] the second prime minister of India, Pt Ravi Shankar[x] the renowned Sitar player and Bhagwan Das[xi] an Indian Theosophist who was allied with the Hindustani Culture Society and was active in opposing rioting as a form of protest. For a time he served in the Central Legislative Assembly of British India. As an advocate for national freedom from the British rule, he was often in danger of reprisals from the Colonial government. He was the fourth recipient of India's highest civilian award. He established the Kashi Vidyapeeth in association with Mahatma Gandhi.

In the 16th century, Varanasi experienced a cultural revival under the Muslim Mughal emperor Akbar who invested in the city, and built two large temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. The Raja of Poona established the Annapurnamandir and the 200 metres (660 ft) Akbari Bridge was also completed during this period. The earliest tourists began arriving in the city during the 16th century. In 1665, the French traveller Jean Baptiste Tavernier described the architectural beauty of the Vindu Madhava temple on the side of the Ganges. The road infrastructure was also improved during this period and extended from Kolkata to Peshawar by Emperor Sher Shah Suri; later during the British Raj it came to be known as the famous Grand Trunk Road.

Anie Basent[xii] the prominent British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule was active in city and Theosophical Society of India. In April 1911, Besant met Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya[xiii] and they decided to unite their forces and work for a common Hindu University at Varanasi. The Banaras Hindu University started functioning in October 1917 with the Central Hindu College as its first constituent college.

There is something special about the Banaras Gharana[xiv] of music that is based upon Indian classical instruments quoting Hindu Gods and Deities and it also incorporates the Sarod[xv] from Afghanistan, Shehnai[xvi] and Sitar[xvii] from Persian culture with the same pride as they do for the Indian instruments.

Reconciling various branches of Indian philosophy from Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Bahai, Jainism, Sikhism, Sufism, and Jew all have an equal connect in this ancient city that believes Varanasi as a centre for pluralism and inclusive cultural based on reconciliation and diversity. This has been the heritage of pluralism and inclusive culture based on civilization of River Ganga.

 People across the world can learn on how to live and make co-existence meaningful even as there are differences among people yet they live in harmony as inclusive culture based on diversity and pluralism. It is therefore necessary that Varanasi or Banaras be given status of a Living HERITAGE CITY of inclusive and plural culture. It is necessary that the city of faith, belief, indigenous wisdom and logic be declared a heritage city. It is required that the water in the city should be Ganga Jal (water) and not Ganda (dirty) Jal. Rivers are central to our culture and civilization. People's survival, religious believes, Peoples' life, dignity spirituality and civilization are linked to them. I suggest, the government should consider handing over the management of rivers to the department of culture. Sand (Bul) the favourite animal of Lord Shiv be given dignity/honour in the city and provide health support to them by trained veterinarian.

It is necessary that the old city be conserved as heritage as done in Singapore and the new city be developed with expansion plans for future in sight. The artisans of the city be given means of livelihood. Weaving, toy making, zardoji be promoted and helped grow. It is noticeable that police and military badges of various countries are made in Varanasi. Dress of Hindu Gods and Deities are made by Muslims in Varanasi. The history of pluralism, inclusive culture based on reconciliation be taught to young students in the schools. This is not important just for the sake of the past but for the very fact that in India and South Asia, there is a need to end communal/sectarian thinking based on caste and to bring “positive conflict resolution” that shall be the manner to develop complete concept of citizen in the region.

This shall help to put an end to torture and large scale organised violence arising out of casteism, sectarian thinking and communal fascism.

It is in this very context that a BANARAS SAMMELAN (Banaras Convention) has been called upon on August 09, 2014 at the Moolgadi Kabirchaura Math[xviii],Kabirchaura, Varanasi,India at 11 am. The programme shall start with the Panchnaad by Pt Vikash Maharaj[xix] (renowned Sarod player) and Pt Prabhash Maharaj (Tabla player).

You are cordially invited as a distinguished guest for the programme as an ambassador of inclusive and plural culture.

Yours truly
Lenin Raghuvanshi
General Secretary

[xix] http://www.panditvikashmaharaj.com/

समावेशी व बहुलतावादी संस्कृति के लिए बनारस कन्वेंशन

समावेशी और बहुलतावादी संस्कृति वाले शहर बनारस की तरफ से आपको हार्दिक अभिवादन!

आज हमें गालिब की बनारस के बारे में लिखी निम्नलिखित पंक्तियाँ याद आ रही हैः
त आलल्ला बनारस चश्मे बद्दूरबहिश्ते खुर्रमो फि़रदौसे मासूर
इबातत ख़ानए नाकूसियाँ अस्तहमाना काब-ए- हिन्दोस्तां अस्त
(हे परमात्मा बनारस को बुरी दृष्टि से दुर रखना, क्योकि यह आनन्दयम स्वर्ग है। यह घण्टा बजाने वालों अर्थात् हिन्दुओं की पुजा का स्थान है। यानी यही हिन्दोस्तान का काबा है।)

दुनिया के प्राचीनतम शहरों में एक बनारस/वाराणसी/काशी विभिन्न विचार धाराओं, धर्मों के साथ दुनिया भर में आकषर्ण का प्रतीक रहा है। जहां यह हिन्दूओं का पवित्र शहर है। वहीं महात्मा बुद्ध के प्रथम उपदेश (धर्म चक्र प्रवर्तन) के लिए बौद्ध धर्मावलम्बियों का प्रमुख केन्द्र भी है। जैन धर्म के तीन तीर्थंकर यहीं पर पैदा हुए। साम्प्रदायिकता व जातिवाद के खिलाफ संत कबीर, संत रैदास व सेन नाई की जन्मस्थली तथा कर्मस्थली यही रही है। वही दूसरी तरफ बनारस की बनारसी रेशमी साड़ी को मौलाना अल्वी साहब ले आये। समन्वयवाद के तुलसीदास, हिन्दी व उर्दू के महान कथाकार मुंशी प्रेमचन्द, महान साहित्यकार भारतेन्दु हरिश्चन्द्र, जयशंकर प्रसाद, डा0 श्याम सुन्दरदास एवं आचार्य रामचन्द्र शुक्ल और बनारस घराने के प्रसिद्ध संगीतकारों की जन्मभूमि व कर्मभूमि यही रही है। वाराणसी से चार भारत रत्न महान शहनाई वादक उस्ताद बिस्मिल्लाह खाँ, देश के दूसरे प्रधानमंत्री लाल बहादुर शास्त्री जी, महान सितार वादक प0 रविशंकर और स्वतंत्रता संग्राम, ऐनी बेसेन्ट व हिन्दुस्तानी कल्चरल सोसाइटी से जुड़े तथा महात्मा गांधी के साथ काशी विद्यापीठ की स्थापना करने वाले डा0 भगवान दास का जुड़ाव यहीं से रहा है। बनारस घराना के संगीतज्ञ जहाँ एक तरफ हिन्दू देवी-देवताओं की स्तुति पर अपना शास्त्रीय संगीत प्रस्तुत करते हैं। वही अफगानिस्तान से आये सरोद, ईरान से आये शहनाई व सितार का गौरव के साथ उपयोग करते है। भारतीय दर्शन की विभिन्न शाखाओं के साथ हिन्दू, इस्लाम, ईसाई, यहूदी, बहाई, बौद्ध, जैन, सिख, सूफी सभी का बनारस से जुड़ाव रहा है। जो बनारस को बहुलतावाद व समावेशवाद का केन्द्र बनाता है और यह केन्द्र गंगा तटीय सभ्यता का हेरिटेजहै। जिससे भारत ही नहीं, पूरी दुनिया के लोग सीख सकते है कि अपने अन्तर्विरोधों के साथ सहिष्णु व फक्कड़ तरीके से कैसे रहा जा सकता है। इसलिए जरुरी हो गया है कि आस्था, विश्वास व तर्क के शहरबनारस को हेरिटेज शहरघोषित किया जाये। उसे गन्दा जलनहीं, ‘गंगा जलमुहैया कराया जाये और भगवान शिव के प्रिय साड़ को बनारस शहर में पीने का पानी और पशुचिकित्सक भी मुहैया कराया जाये। सिंगापुर की तर्ज पर पुराने शहर को हेरिटेज के तौर पर संजोया जाय और नये शहर को आधुनिक दुनिया की तरह बसाया जाय। वही शहर के बिनकारी, खिलौने के काम, जरदोजी को प्रोत्साहित व संरक्षित किया जाय। विदित है कि दुनिया के विभिन्न सेनाओं व पुलिस के बैज भी बनारस से बनते है। हिन्दू देवी-देवताओं के वस्त्र बनारस के मुस्लिम बुनकर बनाते हैं। बनारस के बहुलतावाद और समावेशी इतिहास को कम से कम बनारस के स्कूलों में जरुर पढ़ाया जाय। ये इसलिये जरुरी है कि केवल बनारस में ही नहीं, बल्कि भारत व दक्षिण एशिया में जातिवाद व साम्प्रदायिक सोच को खत्मकर इंसानों के बीच सकारात्मक एकता (Positive Conflict Resolution) स्थापित किया जा सके, जो नागरिक बनाने की प्रक्रिया को मजबूत कर सके। जिससे जातिवाद व सम्प्रदायवाद से होने वाली यातना व संगठित हिंसा को समाप्त किया जा सके। इसी परिपेक्ष्य में बनारस के मूलगादी कबीरचैरा मठ में 09 अगस्त, 2014 (शनिवार) को बनारस सम्मेलनकार्यक्रम का आयोजन 11:00 बजे सुबह से शुरु होगा। कार्यक्रम की शुरुआत पं0 विकास महाराज (प्रसिद्ध सरोदवादक) व पं0 प्रभाष महाराज (तबलावादक) के नेतृत्व में पंचनादसे शुरु होगा। जिसमें आप सादर आमंत्रित है।

Lenin Raghuvanshi
Founder and CEO
People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
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Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
--The Buddha

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– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela

"We are what we think. With our thoughts we make our world." - Buddha
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