Hindu Dharma and its Role in Global Awakening

Hindu Dharma and its Role in Global Awakening
– Retreat and Dialogue –
A program of the Global Peace Initiative of Women
March 6th–9th 2020 
in Govardhan Eco Village, India

A Reflection on the Gathering by Janani Pratap

Prithivim dharmana dhritam’ means this world is upheld by Dharma. Dharma refers to the underlying cosmic order within which everything exists in balance, harmony and equilibrium. It is also referred to as the ‘divine law’ and ‘law of being’. This divine law ensures that human life is in harmony with nature. Dharma is that which unites us all, cultivates divine love and universal peace. As human beings, we fulfill our Dharma by living in harmony with ourselves, towards others and with Mother Nature. The ultimate purpose of Dharma is to attain union of the soul with the divine. 

So, what happens when Dharma isn’t upheld? Our world today reflects a disorder of Dharma. Our economic and political structures, financial systems, our lifestyles, our relationship with Mother Earth and even our actions toward one another reflect disharmony in relationship to the ‘divine law’. 

During our two and a half day gathering from 6th to 9th March 2020, at the serene Govardhan Eco Village in the outskirts of Mumbai in India, we met to explore together the essence of Dharma in today’s world and the path to global awakening. 

 As I reflect on this gathering, the many topics that were discussed unfolded the deeper meanings of Dharma for me. One of the key topics that we talked about during the gathering was the deep pain that we carry within us and the need to free ourselves from this bondage of pain. We all carry hurt within. Some of the pain can be from past lives and some pain can also be from our ancestors that has been passed on to us. Such deep pain can become blockages for us to flow with life.  During our gathering, we together perceived that when we allow ourselves to be in a state of acknowledgment and be present in our pain, we release the baggage that we carry. Even though, the memory of the pain might never go away, being present in the pain allows us to forgive and let go. I have often asked myself – why do we have to experience pain in this world? I have come to the realization that in many ways we are here not to heal our pain, but rather our pain is here to heal us. For me, Dharma teaches us to have the capacity to be present in our own painwith non-violence and without judgment or anger. Dharma also teaches us to forgive and be compassionate. It is said that compassion is the seed of Dharma. Although I agree that it might not always be easy to practice compassion, forgiveness and non-violence, I also truly believe that these heal us and the world. I hold this essence of Dharma close to me.

Another aspect that our gathering highlighted the need and importance of the coming together of the old and the new. The old represents the wisdom, which the spiritual teachings, ancient scriptures and indigenous knowledge hold in them. The new represents current times that we are in and the know-how of today that we have. In today’s world, there seems to be a disconnect between the old and new, and this gathering reinforced the need for these two worlds to meet. We do not need to prove one superior to the other or deny one to have the other but to understand the importance of both. The coming together of these two hold the answers to many of the problems which we are facing today. The key to any wholesome change is union. I feel that to reach a union we need to free ourselves from all separation that we have created not only outside of us but more importantly within us. It is only when we come together as ONE can we fulfill our Dharma as human beings. 

We are standing at a point in human evolution where we can see that we are moving towards a global awakening and this gathering was meant to delve deeper to explore this awakening. One can see around the world that more and more people are coming together to create a new world that embraces harmony and the wellbeing of all. There is a growing collective shift in consciousness towards living in alignment with nature and recognizing the oneness that we all share.  There is immense power in such a collective effort. At the same time, the individual journey of going deeper within towards self-realization and self-healing is equally part of the global awakening. I feel that the unfolding of a global awakening and shift in consciousness lies in the understanding of our interconnectedness and, being compassionate and loving towards oneself as well as towards others. For me, the individual awakening is the essence of a global shift. The love and compassion one has for oneself is what one can give to others. When each one of us is able to have compassion and love despite our differences, then together we will be able to create the shift in consciousness that will heal us and our nature. 

These aspects of the gathering have stayed with me and I feel grateful that I could be part of it. 

I pray that may there be divine light and peace within us, and may we all be always guided by divine love and compassion. 

Asato Ma Sad Gamaya

Lead me from the unreal (worldliness) to the real (eternal self)

Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya

Lead me from darkness (of ignorance) to the light (of knowledge)

Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya

Lead me from death (limitation) to immortality (liberation)

Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

Om Peace Peace Peace

Re-Discovering Mata Sita and Her Relevance Today

Sita Image 1

By Dena Merriam

Sita is a beloved figure for Hindus around the world, as well as for non-Hindus throughout Southeast Asia. But the message of her life extends beyond these audiences and bears universal import, particularly relevant for the modern age when a new understanding of feminine wisdom and leadership is needed, and when we are facing an unprecedented ecological crisis. Mata Sita and Sri Ram were instrumental in setting the foundation for a new civilization during a time of transition from one era, or yuga, to another. We stand at a similar time in history, where we are experiencing the passing of one era and intuitively feel the birthing of another, as yet unknown. One thing seems certain, however, that the new society we are striving for must be ecologically-based. There is great value in looking to lessons of the past in order to move forward.

During Sita’s time on earth, humanity was beginning to shift from a nature-based way of life toward greater material development. Many concepts were implanted in the collective mind at that time that guided the subsequent development of human civilization. We have now reached the pinnacle of this development and are reaping the results of our abuse of earth’s resources—its land, water, and air. To survive as a human community, we will need to incorporate into our lives a new-found appreciation, respect, and love for the natural world, a love that was exemplified in the life of Mata Sita.

Looking back to the time when humanity was beginning to divorce itself from nature and to cultivate more of a separate, individual identity will help us understand the pitfalls of this separateness in consciousness. Seeing ourselves as disconnected from nature has given mankind the false impression that we can control nature and recklessly deplete it, discounting the rights of other life forms and ignoring our interdependent relationship.

One cannot go backward in time, nor would one want to. The goal is to incorporate the wisdom and knowledge of the past into the developments and scientific advances of today. We can learn again how to care for and love the earth and all her communities of life.  There is much that Mata Sita can teach us if we invoke her. She and Sri Ram are living presences, not just historical figures, still very much engaged with the lives of those who turn to them. During the life journey of Mata Sita and Sri Ram, each assumed roles that were different but equal in importance. Neither could achieve their life’s mission without the other. Their lives exemplify a balance of the masculine and feminine qualities and energies, despite how patriarchal forces have tried to shape the Ramayana narrative to suit later social norms.  If we recapture something of life during the higher ages we can see the story with new eyes and perceive the inner dynamic that drove the outer narrative. Remembering the harmony that existed during the higher ages will help us re-calibrate our society so that it honors the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine, both of which are needed to help restore balance to our society and to the earth.