The age old Vedic religious culture of India
CULTURE: The one billion population of India religiously
stands percentage-wise as Hindus 82.6%, Muslims 11.4%, Christians 2.4%,
Sokhs 2%, Buddhists 0.74%, Jains 0.5% and others 0.4%.
In pre Buddhist India the religious activities were based on Vedas
centered on four concepts (1) Dharma, (righteousness), (II) Artha
(economic and political objectives), (iii) Kama (pleasure) and (iv)
Moksha (freedom from the cycle of births, deaths and rebirths).
Dharma and Kama were the designs of life of attaining Moksha. The
Dharma is based on Varna (social status). and Ashrawa (the stages of
life). Moksha was reached through gyan (knowledge) or through Bhakthi
VEDAS: Of the four Vedas the oldest is the Rigveda composed in 1000
B.C. containing 1017. Panegyrics and prayers addressed to natural
phenomena such as sun, waters of the sea, the winds, fire and earth.
The Samaveda comprises 9425 stanzas, dealing with the manner of
chanting and reciting the stanzas, which gave birth to the music of
India. The Yajurveda, is a prose formulae for priests (Brahamins) to
perform rituals and sacrifices invocations of gods of absolute authority
to provide them with grace to overcome vicissitudes of life both
internal and external and even succeed in their pursuits of trade and
The Atharveda is composed of 730 hymns (approximately 6000 stanzas)
both of prose and verse as a religion on a personal level.
These are hymns to counteract enemies, demons, and disease and to
promote success in love, procreation and material prosperity. The Sama
Veda contains instructions to perform the rituals of Rigveda in a
different manner, and is of no historical importance for a researcher.
The Rigveda demarcates society in to four sections, the jatis
(castes) of Kashtriya, (rulers, warriors and noblemen) Brahmanas
(priests) Vaishya-settis (traders, bankers and leaders of trade and
commerce and art and craft guilds) and the Sudras (servants of the three
forgoing castes, the untouchables).
Brahman and Upanishads: The Brahamans contain Vedic rituals composed
in and around 8th and 6th centuries B.C. and deal with the use of Vedic
hymns, the sequence of rituals and the philosophy.
Stories are narrated, in order to interpret the significance of
rituals for success, along with myths and traditions of revealing the
meaning of mantras (hymns). The Upanishads composed in 800 B.C. are the
most classic texts and form the inner core of Brahmanism.
There are a large number of Upanishads and only 108 are in print. Of
these Upanishads, the Ishavasya. Kena, Katha, Prasna, Munda, Mandukya,
Taittorya, Aiteraya, Chandayoga, Brihadaranyaka have particularly
influenced Indian philosophy. The Upanishads point out that the Brahaman
and the Atman are one and the same.
The Supreme manifests Himself in every soul (atma) and the students
are told , 'Thou art That' (Tat twan asi) The Bhagavad Gota composed a
few centuries later after Upanishads discusses not the unreality of the
world, but various duties of the human beings in the world. The
indestructability of the soul is stressed and selfless work is enjoined
as an ideal and rights of every human being is emphasised.
The scholar Sri Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya born in 788 A.D., the
foremost exponent of Vedanta philosophy, developed the doctrine of
Advaita which denies the existence of the world as separate from God. He
encouraged scholars to meet frequently and enter into dialogues and
discussions on his doctrine.
One of tenets of Vedic philosophy is that every person takes birth
with three rains (debts). They are (i) Devas (celestials), (ii) Pitra
(parents) and (iii) Samaj. The debts to the celestials should be repaid
by the performances of Yajnas (fire sacrifices), which includes
conservation of nature, peaceful conduct towards all the other living
beings including animals, debts to patents and being employed and
raising a family, the debt to society by helping the poor and the needy.
It would be obvious, by and large the Vedic philosophy and literature
deem family, society and ecology as integral to human conduct. Thus
today in India, the greenery remains green, workers are dutiful and
religion is the driving force in all their activities.
Therefore, it is no wonder that India would in a decade from now
surpass China and as the emerge the economic giant of Asia. These
observations are based on the annual study tours this writer undertakes
in the fields of Indian art and culture and especially, on Buddhist
monuments in India.
In Hinduism there are two kinds of authoritative religious
literature, the Shruthi (hearing) which are eternal, self-existent and
divinely revealed and Smriti (recollections), the production of human
authorship, thus lesser than Shruthi. The entire Vedic literature is
Shruti. All these texts are rendered in Sanskrit (refined language) one
of the oldest languages of the world with a written script.
Indonesian Memorial Hanafi Jummah Mosque Maskeliya
MONUMENT: A monument has been erected where the bodies of the
Indonesian Air Crash victims died on December 1974. Indonesian
Ambassador Nugroho Setyadie, his family, ex President Maskeliya
Indonesian Memorial Hanafi Jummah Mosque J.A. Kudthoos, trustee
board members and Jamath members at the monument site performing
religious rituals. Picture by J. A. Kudthoos
HISTORY: The Hanafi Jummah Mosque was established in the year
1875 at the old Maskeliya town by the Indian traders from Tanjoor,
Valuthoor and Ilyampattai, Tamil Nadu.
In the year 1969, the entire Maskeliya town, the Kintyre Bazaar and
several parts of Brownlow Group, Kintyre Estate and Rickarton Estate
went under water to give room for the Maskeliya Oya Hydro Power project.
A new Maskeliya town on the lands of Glentill Estate and Maskeliya
Estate was established. On the lands allocated for religious purposes,
in the new town, churches, a Buddhist temple, and a Hindu Temple were
constructed by its respective communities.
The Hanafi Jummah mosque was also constructed by us. This was a small
mosque building with a small timber shed for teaching the Quran for
These buildings were very much smaller and insufficient when compared
to the old Maskeliya town mosque. On December 4, 1974 a tragedy occurred
which saddened the hearts of all Muslims not only in Indonesia but also
in our nation with sorrow.
The Martin Air D.C. 8 Plane carrying 192 Indonesian Haj Pilgrims,
crashed on the seven Virgin Hills at Therberton Estate, Norton Bridge.
The total 199 which includes the seven crew members lost their lives.
According to "Hadees" if a person happened to die on his way to the
holy trip to Mecca to perform Haj, an Angel will be created by Almighty
Allah in such persons name, who will perform Haj every year until the
end of the World, in such persons name, which means that the said Angel
will be performing Haj on the names of all those Indonesian Suhadas and
these Suhadas should be respected.
I came to understand that the Indonesian Government has decided to
construct a huge Mosque at the site of the disaster, from the press. In
the year 1975 the Indonesian foreign Minister (later Vice President of
Indonesia) visited our Mosque with Adlinza Jenie the Ambassador of
Indonesia in Sri Lanka and their companions.
I submitted by requesting that we are in need of a Mosque to serve
about 150 families living in Maskeliya Town, and suggested to construct
the proposed mosque on the land of Hanafi Jummah Mosque where the small
mosque was existing to which the Minister requested me to submit my
memorandum through the Ambassador, which I was able to do when the
Ambassador with his family and the staff of Indonesian Embassy visited
our Mosque on December 2, 1976 to participate with us at the Haj
In my memorandum I suggested to construct The Indonesian Memorial
Hanafi Jummah Mosque at Maskeliya and a Monument at the site of the air
disaster where the bodies have been buried. The request was approved by
the Indonesian Government and the work on the new mosque commenced on
March 2, 1979.
The existing mosque was demolished and new foundation columns were
raised up to roof level with the 1st and 2nd advance payments made to
the contractor thereafter due to delay in payments, the work came to a
In the year 1979 the 15th century Hijra Celebration was organised by
Minister M.H. Mohamed and the Indonesian Ambassador Yahawangsa Sodharmo
was invited for the celebration at Nuwara Eliya. Minister M.H, Mohamed
helped me to discuss the matter with the Ambassador.
The Ambassador took up the matter and the Indonesian government paid
us a final payment through the Embassy. An advance was paid to the
contractor and the super structure walls was built up to the roof level
after that my successors continued the construction with balance money I
handed over and with some money collected from the Jamath and donations
given by the Indonesian Embassy staff on their annual visits to perform
The ground floor was completed. As a second stage the upper floor
with rooms and modification to ablution section was done by the help of
M.H.M. Fazal of FNF (Pvt.) Ltd, and the work on this project completed
and the opening ceremony was held on April 13, 2007.
For the opening ceremony Nugroho Setyadie the present Ambassador of
Indonesia in Sri Lanka with his family, the Information Officer
Argiadipa Subandi and family and A.L. Hafis Mohamed Tahang, Staff
Political affairs were present.
The following day, the above, together with the ex President of the
Indonesian Memorial Hanafi Jummah Mosque, Maskeliya, J.A. Kudthoos, the
Katheebs, the present members of the trustee board and the Jamath
members visited the Monument where the bodies of the Indonesian Suhadas
have been buried below the Seven Virgin Hills at Theberton Estate Norton
Bridge, for 'Ziyara' and recitals.
Annual gathering of Sri Lankans in Italy at Padua
Italy: The Prato Della Valle in Padua,the biggest and the most
beautiful Piazzas in Italy. On Tuesday, May 1, the road leading to the
Basilica of St. Anthony, was full of Sri Lankans.They were there to
participate in the annual pilgrimage to this world renowned shrine of
their favourite Saint.
At noon the great bells of the Basilica pealed and a short while
later a very colourful procession headed by two troupes of traditional
dancers measuring their steps to the beat of the drums, led a large
number of concelebrating priests who preceded the Chief celebrating
prelates His Grace Archbishop Oswald Gomis, Archbishop of Colombo in Sri
Lanka and His Grace Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
As the procession found its way into the crowded basilica, His Grace
Archbishop Antonio Mathiasso, Archbishop of Padua delivered a warm
address of welcome to the Sri Lankan Archbishops, priests and faithful
who were participating in this annual pilgrimage.
The National Coordinator of the Apostolate for Sri Lankan Migrants in
Italy, Rev. Fr. Neville Joe Perera inaugurated the proceedings by
inviting their Graces the Archbishops, the Chaplains of the different
regions present, Sri Lankan Minister Milroy Fernando and the Rodney
Perera, out going Ambassador for Sri Lanka to light the traditional oil
Feast of St. Eugene De Mazenod
Founder of Oblates of Mary Immaculate:
St. Eugene De Mazenod
FOUNDER: Feast of St. Eugene de Mazenod the founder of the
Oblates of Mary Immaculate Congregation (OMI) falls on May 21. It is the
day De Mazenod bade farewell to the world and went for his Heavenly
reward. Late Pope Paul VI canonised him on December 3, 1995 as Saint of
the Universal church.
Charles Antionine De Mazenod, the father of St. Eugene, belonged to
an aristocratic family. He held a high position in the Parliament of
His mother, Marie Rose Joannis, was from a middle class family. They
were a deeply religious family and had a great devotion to our Blessed
Mother. On August 1st, 1782, God blessed them with a son, whom they
named Charles Joseph Eugene De Mazenod. He was Baptized on August 2nd,
From his young age, he was devoted to religion and was a bright
Student. Unfortunately, the French Revolution made the family to flee to
Italy, where they lived in exile for several years. In Venice the young
Eugene came across a holy Priest named Don Bartolo who took upon himself
to educate and guide him.
He also instilled the first thoughts of a religious calling in the
mind of the 12-year old Eugene.
After 11 years of exile, at the age of 20, Eugene returned to Aix. At
the age of 26, he entered the Seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris.
After his Ordination in 1811 at the age of 29, Fr. De Mazenod
declined the first assignment offered to him, the prestigious position
of Vicar General to the Bishop of Amiens; instead he chose to work with
the poor, neglected and abandoned people of Aix. Realising that he alone
could not meet the needs of Aix's poor, he invited other priests to join
him in his work.
Founding of the Religious Congregation
Fr. De Mazenod purchased an abandoned Carmalite Convent for his
future Community. They lived a simple life, using a dining room table
that consisted of a plank across two barrels and a single candle to
light each room. Soon these groups of Priests began preaching Missions
throughout France, calling themselves Missionaries of Province.
The success of their work led De Mazenod to form a Religious
Congregation. In 1826, De Mazenod received approval from Pope Leo XII to
name the Congregation, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In 1837,
Fr. De Mazenod became the Bishop of Marseilles. With the work of the
Diocese, he guided his young Congregation. During his lifetime he was
able to send out Missionaries to Canada, Sri Lanka, England, South
Africa and America.
This great founder of the Oblates and lover of our Blessed Mother was
called by the Heavenly Father on 21st May, 1861 to accept the reward. He
had prepared for him. He breathed his last while his spiritual sons were
reciting "Salve Regina".
Eugene was Beatified on October, 19th 1975 by Pope Paul the VI and
Canonised on December, 3rd 1995.
The oblates arrived in Sri Lanka on November, 28th 1847 at the
invitation of Bishop Bettacchini during the lifetime of Bishop Eugene De
Mazenod. They started their apostolate in Jaffna and later spread
practically to the whole Island.
They started building Schools, Churches, opening Seminaries,
Children's Homes etc. In Sri Lanka there are two Provinces with a total
of 255 Oblates.
The Feast falls on May, 21st the date of his death.
Many requests from different Dioceses are pouring into the General
Administration requesting for Missionaries.
Let us pray to the Lord of the Harvest and to St. Eugene de Mazenod
to send good labourers to the Vineyard.
Holy prophet Muhammed 'A Mercy unto all creation'
Continued from May 02 2007
MESSENGER OF GOD:
Mahathma Gandhi stated in Young India (1924), "I wanted to know the
best of the life of one who holds today undisputed sway over the hearts
of millions of mankind. I became more than ever convinced that it was
not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of
It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet
the scrupulous regard for pledges, his fearlessness, his absolute trust
in God and his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything
before them and surmounted every obstacle".
James A Michener in his article "Islam the Misunderstood Religion.
"Readers Digest May 1955..."states:
Western writers have passed their charges of voluptuousness mainly on
the question of women. Before Muhammed, however, men were encouraged to
take innumerable wives. He limited them to four only, and the Quran is
explicit that the husband who are unable to maintain strict equality
between two or more wives must confine themselves to one..."
Edmond Burke who admired, the Islamic legal system affirmed "The
Mohammedan law which is binding on all from the crowned head to the
meanest subject is a law interwoven with a system of the wisest, the
most learned and the most enlightened jurisprudence that ever existed in
Professor Ramakrishna Rao in his book - Muhammad, the Prophet of
Islam states- "In an age of barbarism, the battlefield itself was
humanized and strict instructions were issued not to embezzle, not to
cheat, not to break trust, not to mutilate, not to kill a minor child or
woman or an old man, mow down date palm nor bum it, not to cut down a
fruit tree, not to molest monks and persons engaged in worship.
His own treatment of his bitterest enemies was the noblest examples
for his followers. At the conquest of Mecca, he stood at the zenith of
The city which had tortured him and his followers, which had driven
him and his people into exile and which had unrelentingly persecuted and
boycotted him even when he had taken refuge in a place more than 200
miles away, that city now lay at his feet.
By the laws of war he could have justly avenged all the cruelties
inflicted on him and his people, But what treatment did he meet out to
Muhammad's heart overflowed with the milk of love and kindness as he
declared: 'This day there is no reproof against you and you are all
Suffice it may to conclude with a quote from the German Poet and
writer Wolfgang Goethe "I looked into history for a human paradigm and
found it to be Muhammad".