ESSAY COMPETITIONS: English (Senior) 1st Prize
WINNER’S NAME: Ashwina Muttylall of Lower Six
SCHOOL: Mahatma Gandhi Institute
TITLE: "Ramrajya on earth with the eradication of poverty." Show how can this be achieved today in the light of the teachings of Hinduism.
Ramrajya is the ideal kingdom, the example of high standard of perfection in man with moral and ethical values, established by Lord Rama after his victory over Ravana. Rama had incarnated himself so as to remove evil and establish virtue again. In the Gita Krishna (Vishnu) says: "For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being from age to age." - (IV.6.8). Rama thus succeeded in eradicating evils like poverty, tyranny, crime and so on. During that period, there was tolerance, universality, love, niskama karma, justice etc. It was the golden period and the people enjoyed examplary prosperity:
"Ten thousand years Ayodhya blest,
With Rama’s rule had peace and rest,
No widow mourned her murdered mate,
No house was ever desolate
The happy land no murrain knew
The flocks and herbs increased and grew
The earth her kindly fruits supplied,
No harvest failed, no children died,
Unknown were want, disease and crime,
So calm, so happy was the time."— Valmiki’s Ramayana
Thus we see that Ramrajya was the period of true justice and kingly virtues. Even Dasaratha was an ideal king and a seeker of truth. The kingdom was ruled by Dharma. It is even said that then "Jaan jaye par vachan na jaye". Thus as Dasaratha had already granted Kaikeyi a boon which she used to send Rama to exile, he kept his word and Rama, as an ideal son, accepted exile. Here we can see how dharma was protected. Even Laksman went with his brother to serve him and later Bharata also renounced worldly things and luxuries. Rama stands as a hero striving to do justice with compassion. He sacrified himself for his fathers’ words, a rare thing nowadays, when such virtues are hardly found.
Ramrajya thus was an earthly representation of the divine good on earth and a specimen of ideal administration but in our iron age many countries are democratic, yet, there is still poverty, injustice and inequality. Politics is done with money, there is corruption and many violations of civil liberties. No idea of sacrifice can be seen. Our world can be compared to Ravana’s rule where on account of adharma he quarrelled with his brother who left him and the king himself was enjoying sakama karma. In Ramrajya, people were treated with equality but now, in our complex society, where money has become god, many people are going against dharma to acquire it. Evils like theft, prostitution, crime etc can be seen on account of money. During Ramrajya, people used to share wealth, that is donate to needy ones and they surrendered their surplus to God but nowadays people are accumulating wealth without even thinking of God.
Yet, as Rama said, there is an element of the divine in man. No one is evil by nature; if he is so, the world has made him what he is today. So, the lofty teachings of Hinduism can change man’s mentality and recreate a new golden rule. The doctrine of traditional purusharthas (4 ends of life — dharma, artha, kama and moksha) must be revived again so as to guide men. Artha must be used by the grihasti for the welfare of his family and yet, he should think of God also. Thus, he should be taught the importance of yajnas (sacrifices dedicated to God) found in the teachings of Hinduism, and should be advised on donating to needy ones. It is only by surrendering to God that one cultivates good qualities and avoids black and spotted money acquired by unfair means. Here, we can refer to Tulsidas, the great social reformer who preached Rama’s deeds and has been able to bring a new dimension in the life of Hindus, shaping their character, culture, language and destiny through his Ramacharitmanas. He gave importance to both Saguna and Nirguna God, thus satisfying both high thinkers and common man. He said: "Agunatin Sagunatin nahin kachu Bheda" — there is no difference between personal and impersonal god. Thus his teachings applied to everyone and showed that everyone should surrender to God, then only will poverty and suffering be eradicated and the ideal of Rama can be attained. Thus, artha and kama should be guided by dharma so as to attain moksha. Wealth and enjoyment which are the pursuits of all beings are like the waters of a river. Righteousness and liberation are like the two banks. If a river flows within these banks, then it can irrigate the fields, promote prosperity, cool and refresh man. But the moment the river breaches the banks, the very water which brings prosperity and happiness, spells death and ruin. Thus, if one practises Dharma, he can perform virtuous actions and restore peace. One should put into practice the sublime teachings of Hinduism which are there to purify man. Even Sri Ramakrishna said : "Never handle money. Two great obstacles to sadhna or achievement are lust and gold." Thus, the one taking these teachings to the depth of his heart will surely destroy evil in him and establish a new Ramrajya.
During Ramrajya justice was at its peak. There was co-existence, mutual understanding and brotherhood among people of various castes in the kingdom of Rama. Anyone surrendering to the divine creator could attain moksha. There was no idea of superiority or inferiority. This can be clearly seen the episode of Rama’s meeting with Sabari, the dull woman, Kewat, Maricha and even Jatayu, the king of vultures and the most carnivorous of birds. Rama talked to them, and blessed them. He even buried Jatayu with his own hands and paid respect to everyone.
But nowadays the traditional varna system has changed to jati. There is heredity and the dominance of the high caste people on the lower ones. Finally, on one wants to do small jobs, everyone prefers to acquire money by unfair means to have a status in society. There is the idea of inferiority, superiority, intouchability and so on. There is no more communion between the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Strife in the name of caste-system is very common and this is leading to the downfall of the Hindu society.
Yet the teachings of moral values and the real varna system can repair the damage. Ignorance should be destroyed by vidya. If each caste begins to respect the other, works together for the welfare of society, then Ramrajya can be attained. Krishna said: " The four castes were created by different distributions of qualities and actions; know me to be the author of them." - (Gita chap iv.13) Great sages like R. M. Roy, Ramakrishna, Dayananda, Vivekananda and Gandhiji have raised their voices against this social evil. This shows that man can still change if he gets the right vidya. Swami Dayananda always said: "All ought to be treated with love and justice — Ignorance ought to be dispelled and knowledge diffused — The welfare of the individual should be regarded as the welfare of all". Thus, just as each organ is needed for the well functioning of the body, similarly if the four castes function with understanding and equality, there will be stability, cohesion, economic progress, political unity and spiritual unfoldment. As no one will be inferior and there will be sharing, poverty will be removed.
Ramayana paid due respect to the physical, vital, mental, moral and spiritual values of life and taught divine harmony and universality. But nowadays, wars in the name of religion is common. There is violence and war everwhere. The victims of these evils are innocent people. In some places, people can be seen lamenting on the death of their family and in other places, naked children are seen wandering in search of food. War has definitety caused poverty and sufferings. Yet Hinduism does not teach difference, it clearly teaches universality. Ramakrishna said: "Born as we are in such a grand universal religion, it is our duty to regard other religions as we regard our own. I find men quarelling in the name of religion. They never think that he who is called Krishna is also Shiva and He himself is Adishakti, the primal energy, Jesus or Allah!" Swami Vivekananda said: "I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance ...........". Thus, Hinduism teaches tolerance just as the concept of Ramrajya which also puts emphasis on this. One acquiring right knowledge can certainly eradicate poverty.
From the above we see that Hinduism is a religion of broad outlook and acceptance. It has taught people to change their life and reform themselves by preaching the doctrine of karma and rebirth. This law states: "As you sow so you reap". This enables man to do good karmas and thereby eradicate from him all evil leading to poverty and other forms of suffering, be it physical, psychological or spiritual. Thus, if there is no suffering in a society, it can surely lead to Ramrajya again.
In this Kaliyug, men practise sin and reap its reward, men practice adharma and the result is trouble, terror, sickness, sorrow and so on, yet one has to learn moral values and humanism so as to overcome these and put into practice what is written in the various holy scriptures. The great men who have done justice to dharma are but human beings; by vidya they have become examples of righteousness. Thus man can correct his faults and change. We see that Gandhiji and Vinoba Bhave incarnated the spirit of the teaching of Rama and others and preached the principles of Hinduism to man. They even tried to unite the followers of different religions and sects to eradicate sufferings.
"Unity in diversity" is the prime teaching of Hinduism May all understand the real spirit of our religion and learn to live in harmony. This alone will bring peace and prosperity not only to the individual but also to the world as a whole. . For Hinduism is a set of doctrines that teaches not only the science of being and the art of living, so essential for mankind to flourish, but also respect for other religions and how to have consideration for people as persons. Thus if we learn and practise the doctrines of Hinduism, Ramarajya can be attained and flourish once more on earth.
ENGLISH ESSAY: SENIOR (2nd Prize)
WINNER’S NAME: Chetashwaree Juhur of LVI
CHOOL: R. Gujadhur SSS
Title: "Ramrajya on earth with the eradication of poverty." Show how can this be achieved today in the light of the teachings of Hinduism.
Ramrajya was established in the Tretayuga by Shri Rama. In Rama’s kingdom, there was no sign of either poverty or unhappiness. His people were always happy and they worshipped him as an ideal King. As Shri Rama was a perfect ruler, he knew how to tackle the problems of his kingdom in order to satisfy his people. In Ramrajya everyone was following dharma, there was no sign of negative aspects in the kingdom. So, if we follow the teachings of Hinduism, we can eradicate poverty and set up Ramrajya again.
The four purusharthas or the four goals of life i.e. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, if followed correctly, can perfect man. Shri Rama followed the path of dharma and he was able to destroy evil from the earth. So, we too must follow the path of righteousness in order to eradicate poverty. If we follow dharma, we must not be selfish and we must try to remove the bad qualities from our mind. We must be willing to share our surplus with others without expecting anything in return.
Artha means wealth and if someone gains wealth according to dharma, he must not be reluctant to donate what he does not need to needy and poor people. The grihastis too help in eradicating poverty. They give alms to the Brahmacharis and to the Sanyasis. Thus, they help in reducing poverty in the world. Kama can also help in decreasing poverty. Kama fulfils our desires, and if we can control our senses and satisfy only our essential needs and spend less money on luxury, the problem of poverty can be solved to a great extent.
Hinduism teaches us that God is only one — the Formless (Ekam Sat). So, there must be unity in society. We must consider others as equal to us. We usually tend to snatch surplus wealth or food from others, which finally leads to wars and to famine. Instead of snatching by force, we could have shared. We have to live for all. We must respect others and help them in their work. Humanity should be our motto, with practical Hinduism, as we are humans above all.
It is Hinduism that teaches us that we are equal to all. We can take Shri Rama as our best model. He considered everyone to be equal. He never said that Kevat was inferior to him and that he was superior to other kings. He always gave them the same respect and love. He was always ready to help others especially saints and sages. He killed demons so as to protect the innocent and establish dharma. So, we too as ordinary beings can try to be like Shri Rama. We have to respect others and share our surplus with them.
There should be no fanaticism in society. Why should we be fanatics? Where does this fanaticism lead us? It leads us to either poverty or destruction. If there is war, we will never get any reward but lose everything, which also leads to poverty. Thus, we should have the same respect towards others as they have for us, and give them love in return. If we can share our affection and love, it will be easy to share our wealth.
Hinduism is a very vast religion. It gives theists and atheists the same respect. Gautam Buddha was a rebel in religion. He wanted to find an answer for the suffering in the world. But today we pray him because religion was made by man to bind man and not to separate us. Ram Mohun Roy rightly said that we must not believe everything blindly, even if it is about religion. He said that there must not be any place for superstition and blind belief in our religion, as this leads to poverty in many ways.
Now take the example of untouchability. The untouchables were considered inferior to others. They were not respected and they were ill-treated. They did not have the right to enter temples or even approach other people. Thus they did not participate fully in society and so remained poor. Thanks to Mahatma Gandhi the situation is changed today.
Hinduism teaches that there is no superiority or inferiority. The four castes are equal and they are meant for the proper development of society. But people misunderstood the teachings of the Vedas and started determining the caste by birth and not by action. So, if we do not consider the sudras as untouchables and give them respect and love, they can get a status in society and thus improve their way of living away from poverty.
From the above it can be seen that if we fully apply the teachings of Hinduism in our daily lfie, we can establish another Ramrajya on earth with the eradication of poverty. Thus, there would again be peace and righteousness everywhere.
ENGLISH ESSAY: Junior (1st Prize)
WINNERS’ NAME: Shashi Keenoo of FV
SCHOOL: St Joseph’s College
TITLE: ‘May all be happy’. Show how every teaching of Hinduism aims at making man happy.
Hinduism is a practical religion which caters for the needs of a varied class of people. While it paves our way towards liberation, it also seeks the welfare of all. ‘Sarvey bhawantu sookheenah’, that is Hinduism wants every individual and nation to be satisfied and happy.
The Vedas and the Upanishads as well as other Hindu scriptures cover the entire human thought and activity. Since all the people do not have the same motivation, taste and interest, it became necessary to describe the essentials of Hinduism through stories, legends and rituals.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two popular epics, written in a simple language to enable everybody to grasp the real meaning of Hinduism. By portraying Lord Rama as the embodiment of love, Sita as the model of faithfulness, Lakshman as an ideal brother, Tulsidas gives us a glimpse of model characters. The Mahabharata shows how the virtuous characters like Arjuna, Yudhishthira, Karna, Draupadi, Bhishma Pitamaha and others have undergone trouble in upholding the path of truth and justice. In the Bhagvadgita Shri Krishna beautifully describes the theory of karma and rebirth and the concept of the soul. It teaches us to face death bravely and makes us realise that one should not lament and be depressed by the death of someone near and dear to him because though the body dies the soul remains immortal. If the values taught in these epics are understood and practised in our daily life, no doubt our society will be a happier place to live in.
Hinduism also prescribes yoga with emphasis on proper diet,breathing and purity of thought. The performance of yogic postures has attracted the attention of everybody in the world. If performed properly it can remove our bodily sufferings caused by diseases.
Hinduism believes that the whole world is one family. As such, there should be mutual cooperation and respect among all segments of the population. The theory of ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ rightly illustrates this. Again Hinduism wants peace to prevail everywhere. Thus every time we end our prayer by saying ‘Om shanti, shanti, shanti’!
Hinduism has also put forward the Varnashram dharma and the four Purush€rthas aiming to create a healthy society and the full development of the individual. The purush€rthas give certain well-defined directions to man to enable him to make the best of his life. While meeting his material and physical needs (Artha and Kama) man is also expected to aspire for nobler things (Dharma and Moksha). Here man enjoys life within limits in varying degrees and at different stages of life. This process is to ensure happiness leaving him with no regrets.
The samskaras i.e. the religious ceremonies or sacraments while they are performed to remove impurities also give an opportunity to friends and relatives to meet at one place and express pleasure. Again, our religious festivals like Deepavali, Holi, Maha Shivaratri and so on are moments of joy when we all meet and experience a sense of oneness and a sense of unity.
Hinduism is an open religion moving with time and adopting new concepts to alleviate human pains and to make man happier. ‘Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides’, enjoins the Rig Veda - ‘Ano Bhadrah Kritavo Yantu Viswatah’. Thus eminent personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Dayanand, Mahatma Gandhi and others have contributed a lot to bring new ideas for the betterment of society. They rejected superstitions and the anti-social practices like child marriage, the sati system and untouchability. They provided education also to women to abolish inequality. They laid stress on social services like building of hospitals and orphanages. These personalities have contributed a lot to remove injustice and to alleviate poverty and the sufferings of the downtrotten.
Hinduism teaches that non-violence is the highest virtue ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ and that truth always triumphs — ‘Satyameva Jayate’. Hinduism wants people to be gentle, tolerant, hardworking and to respect the religion of others. It prays and works for the welfare of everyone. It instils faith and courage so that we can overcome all kinds of problems whether spiritual or material. It renders all of us happy not only in this birth but also after death.
So we can say that every teaching of Hinduism aims at making every individual and nation happy. The prayer ‘Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu Niramaya, Sarve Bhadrani Pasyantu, Maa kaschid dukh bhag bhavet’ is suggestive in this particular direction.
ENGLISH ESSAY: Junior (2nd Prize)
WINNER’S NAME: Shama Bundhun
SCHOOL: Hindu Girls college
TITLE: ‘May all be happy’. Show how every teaching of Hinduism aims at making man happy.
Hinduism is not only a religion, but also a way of living and thinking. "There is suffering in this world", no one denies this, but the aim of Hinduism is to inspire man to lead a life beyond suffering and be happy.
From age to age man’s greatest aim has been and will be to attain moksha or salvation, a state of eternal bliss. Thus every teaching of Hinduism points to man a path to be closer to God until he finally reaches liberation.
Dharma is one of the basic principles of Hinduism. The aim of Dharma is to promote the development of the universal and eternal in man. Practice of Dharma leads to the perfect realisation of the highest good, namely Moksha. Dharma leads to peace, joy and strength within everybody. Dharma means to serve the other members of society in a selfless way. If everybody does so, there will be no hatred, jealousy, or violence. Thus all members of society will live in harmony and they will be happy.
The four asramas teach man to be more practical in life. The four stages are: Brahmacharya or studentship, Grihastha or the stage of householder, vanaprastha or the hermit stage and Sanyasa or the life of renunciation. Each stage has its own duties. The four asramas take man to perfection by successive stages. The practice of the four asramas regulates life from beginning to end. According to the Atithi-yajna, even if an enemy comes to your place as guest, you are bound to give him food and honour him. Thus, by following this teaching of Hinduism, men will not quarrel and they will be happy.
The Hindus believe that when a person dies, he or she is born again as another living creature. One lifetime follows another, although people do not remember their former lives. The idea of being born again gives hope even to those whose postion seems hopeless. This is where the law of karma is used: "As you sow, so you reap". Good karmas lead to incarnation into higher spheres and bad karmas into lower.
Religious practices, rituals, rites, customs and ceremonies are necessary aids to spiritual progress. Samskaras or sacraments are observed to purify the intellect, mind and body. This leads to moral purity, good character and happiness.
Like most religions, Hinduism teaches Ahimsa or non-violence, truth, self-control and purity. ‘It is wrong to hurt any living thing’. Hindus believe that the most important part of every living thing is its soul or spirit. This is so because Hinduism teaches us that "There is a unity of all things in the world". It also requires man to be pure in thought, word and deed. He who is endowed with purity will find it easy to tread the spiritual path and thus be happy. When a person has self-control, he will not know such thing as jealousy, hatred, violence and anger. If he has self-sacrifice, he will always make the world happy.
Thus we can see that the teachings of Hinduism aim at making man happy. Hinduism is truly the fountain-head of all religions. It is natural that people all over the world should show increasing interest in a religion with so universal an appeal.
‘Sarve Bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu Niramayah
sarve Bhadrani Pasyantu
Ma kaschid duhkha bhag bhaveh
This prayer summarizes the teachings of Hinduism. It means
"May all be happy
May all be free from disabilities
May all behold what is auspicious
May none suffer from sorrow".