New Age, New Solutions
The youth of today, want to see Pushti marg expand.
The youth of today, want Pushti marg to reform.
To effectively reach the youth of today, Pushti marg needs to reform.
Some of the things that we need to see happen are,
1) One voice. The various heads of Pushti marg need to conform to a body that has one voice, one vision, one goal. The in-fighting between gosvami balaks needs to stop. At the very least, it needs to be private, and not so public. Unity is essential for our continued future.
2) We need to reform the way we run the havelis. The priests and workers need to be paid properly so that they can serve with their heart, not just as a routine job, but as a seva. The old maxim of, "if you pay peanuts, you only get monkeys to work for you" is worth remembering.
3) The havelis also need to deal with the terrible waste of food that goes on. The way prasad is now made and distributed is something that has been a matter of much discussion amongst the vaishnavs. The hygiene, health and safety issues are very important. Rats, cockroaches, ants etc running around the haveli, especially the food area, is something we should all be concerned about.
4) Darshan without pushing and shoving. Procedures for darshan of the Lord in the main Haveli at Nathadwara needs to be changed, to allow everyone to have darshan properly - without pushing and shoving. This is not the way vaishnavs should behave towards each other. Hurting vaishnavs to have a darshan is not "graceful" nor does it live by the principle of "Vaishnav = Thakorji = Guru". If you would not "elbow" Thakorji, why would you want to do that to a vaishnav ? We are suppose to see god in everyone, how can we than "hurt" that god !!??!!
5) We must clean up Shri Yamunaji. The physical form of the goddess we venerate so much, is badly polluted. As vaishnavs, we are a fairly intelligent and affluent community. Surely, we can work together to clean up the river. Mathura and Vraj area also needs a clean up. The towns and villages are in need of proper infrastructure and clean up. I am not talking about huge roads and brand new buildings, but simple things, like clean roads, proper disposal of waste, proper maintenance of old buildings and making sure the new buildings are sympathetic to the local / traditional styles.
Multi story, marble mansions do not suite Vraj, but houses with white stucco / plaster, lovingly decorated with colourful, traditional paintings is what we need. By this, I am not trying to say the vrajvasi should continue to live in medieval discomfort ! Just because the building "looks" old does not mean they have to be uncomfortable - all mod cons can be incorporated into the design and carefully camouflaged to make sure the correct image is presented. Europe is an ideal example of this - many old buildings are fully modern on the inside, but retain their old world look. You only have to visit Italy or France to see how they have maintained their old world charm whilst having all the mod cons.
6) Better cultural education for our kids. Use of community run Gujarati or religious classes at the weekends as a convenient child minding institutions must stop. Parents often use Guj / cultural institutions as they are cheaper than a child minder and are a perfect excuse to dump the children somewhere safe for a couple of hours and go for a weekly shopping trip or a visit to the gym ! They often do not know what the kids are learning and feel sanctimonious that they are sending their children for that all essential 2 hour detox ! Parents need to take a real interest in what the kids do and actively encourage them to make the best of these institutions. The teachers and volunteers who work in these places are often very dedicated and are usually under utilised due to apathy from parents and children.
In India, often the children who go to English schools do not even get the cultural cramming of 2 hours a week ! Parents often assume that living in India, the kids will pick up the culture as they grow up. This is not so ! Often, I have found that the kids from India know less about India, its culture, arts, and even history than kids from abroad. Atleast the NRI kids have their culture drummed into them !
7) Taking this a step further, we have to pay greater interest to the education of the youth, our youth in India and in the west.
Vast sums are raised to build havelis and community centres that do not really cater for the youth of today. Often they are an place for parents to find a marriage match, cheap marriage hall, easy to reach venue for family functions and garba - the most favourite festival of all Gujus everywhere.
Instead of this, the money raised should be used to form educational centres for our youths. Not just an hour of two of cultural cramming at the weekend, but a proper school that teaches the regular subjects, plus our culture. The one reason why an educated Indian is disconnected from his roots is, he is convent educated ! Parents prefer to send their children to "an english speaking" school, preferably run by "english" (read Christian) people rather than "native speakers" (read Hindus). As a result, the children these christian institutions churn out are rootless in aspects of (Hindu) religion and culture and look to the west for inspiration.
We should have our own schools, in India and in the west, that take pride in their achievements, and where necessary, subsidised to make sure our kids have access to these excellent schools. It is pointless to have a school that is very expensive and hence very exclusive / difficult to get into. We only have to look at the examples of SwamiNarayan, Jewish and muslim schools to see why their communities are flourishing while ours is floundering. Their schools are community run, heavily subsidised and highly thought of by the society at large. Their children are culturally more aware, confident about their identity and have a cohesive community spirit.
In the west, we have a distinct advantage in that we (Hindus) are already perceived to be "brainy" and "hard working", all we have to do is add "culturally aware" to complete the picture. Without it, we will be telling endless rounds of ABCD.... jokes for decades to come.
We need to act, and ACT now !
Bhagwat Shah ©
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