The Swastika is the sign of wisdom

In his final blog, Anil Bhanot explains the foundations of Hinduism including how the Swastika is th

Hinduism is an ancient religion which has its foundations at the beginning of time as we know it. It’s almost as if God the creator revealed His pure knowledge to his children from the time of their arrival on the planet.

The Hindu creation story actually starts from the inception of the universe. God, the ultimate reality, called Brahman (Brahmm), created the universe and the first sound then heard was AUM.

This is the most auspicious sound in prayer as it represents a link from nature to that indefinable reality Brahman. AUM is used before every Hindu prayer. AUM is a pure sound, it is not a Sanskrit word, it is known as a syllable and could be adopted by any religion and Hindus have adopted it as their most auspicious symbol.

Hinduism, of course, is full of symbolism but the next symbol in order of importance is the Swastika which is a sign of our solar system. The Swastika also known as the sign of wisdom has been found all over the world including North and South America where the Hopi and Mayan civilisations used it as part of their sun worship ceremonies.

It has also been found in the Middle East where side by side a modified symmetrical cross was found to be used also. It is associated to the God of wisdom, Lord Ganesh, and it carries auspicious power but if used for selfish or evil purposes it will ultimately destroy such a person as was the case with Hitler.

Brahman, the one God, is the reality beyond our mind, we cannot comprehend it, we cannot relate to it. Brahman is the creator of the universe, everything there is, and therefore our finite mind, which is a small part of the creation, can never hope to describe or define the creator. For this reason Brahman created the trinity of creation (of nature), preservation (of world) and destruction (of ignorance).

These three manifestations of God, the Brahman, are the realities that Man can relate to. They are the link that we can understand with our mind. These supreme Gods are Lord Vishnu as the preserver of order and righteousness in the world, Lord Brahma as the creator of the solar system and life ( together these two things are called “Srishtie” ), and Lord Shiva who constantly destroys ignorance in the world. Lord Shiva is also know as the Lord of Dance whose dance brings about a cataclysmic change of cycles on Mother Earth which may well go through extreme climatic changes but in Hinduism are the 4 cycles of Satyug, Tretayug, Dwaparayug and Kaliyug. Lord Vishnu incarnates on earth to re-establish righteousness whenever there is an imbalance in favour of the dark forces and in each cycle (Yug) he takes birth with divine powers to help mankind preserve the world.

The first Satyug, a true age of enlightenment, was when through the seven original Seers (Rishis) the creator Brahma imparted the knowledge of the eternal Vedas for mankind. Tretayug when Lord Rama showed mankind how to live an ideal way of life. In Dwaparyug Lord Krishna re-established rightful order and gave mankind the most profound knowledge of spirituality in the Bhagwad Gita. In the Kaliyug Lord Buddha came and moved people away from superstition and asked them to follow the middle path.

Kaliyug is the age of materialism which is still running. After this age the age of enlightenment (Satyug) will return where hopefully Man will see that God loves all equally and religious differences are man made ideologies to keep those religious systems alive and in power. I believe in the UK we have a great opportunity to harmonise those differences and allow the spirit of each religion unite while discarding the man made dogma in some of the religions.

Anil Bhanot read Actuarial Science at university but then qualified as a chartered accountant. He was one of the founding members of Hindu Council UK in 1994 and was first elected as general secretary in 2003.
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No, Christopher Hitchens did not convert to Christianity on his deathbed

From Mother Theresa to Princess Diana, for Hitchens, there were no sacred cows. He certainly would not have wanted to become one. 

The suggestion that atheist writer Christopher Hitchens converted on his deathbed was inevitable. When the evangelical Christian Larry Taunton appeared on Newsnight last week to discuss his new book, he suggested that “the Hitch” was “contemplating conversion” in his final days. The collective sigh from his fans was palpable.

That particular claim is uncontroversial. Of course Hitchens “contemplated” Christianity – to say so simply suggests he had an open mind. However, the book goes further, and claims that Hitchens began to doubt his convictions in his final days. Taunton writes that: “Publicly, he had to play the part, to pose, as a confident atheist. In private, he was entering forbidden territory, crossing enemy lines, exploring what he had ignored or misrepresented for so long.” The book is littered with similar insinuations that he was, so to speak, losing his faith. His close friends, those he wasn’t paid to spend time with as he was with Taunton, deny this completely.

Naturally, the book has sparked a host of rumours and junk articles that suggest he converted. Not one to let a cheap shot slide or leave an insinuation untouched, Hitchens was forward-thinking enough to not only predict these accusations, but deliver a perfect pre-buttal. When Anderson Cooper asked him, a short while before his death, whether he had reconsidered “hedging his bets”, he responded:

“If that comes it will be when I’m very ill, when I’m half demented either by drugs or by pain when I won’t have control over what I say. I mention this in case you ever hear a rumour later on, because these things happen and the faithful love to spread these rumours.”

If that isn’t enough, however, his wife has made clear in the strongest possible terms that talk of a softening on Christianity and a deathbed conversion is entirely untrue. “That never happened. He lived by his principles until the end. To be honest, the subject of God didn’t come up.”

The spreading of fallacious rumours of deathbed conversions by the religious is predictable because there is so much historical precedent for it. Many of history’s most famous atheists have suffered this fate, so, in a sense, Hitch has now been inducted into this hall of infamy alongside the likes of Darwin, Thomas Paine, and David Hume. In God is not Great, he wrote that “the mere fact that such deathbed ‘repentances’ were sought by the godly, let alone subsequently fabricated, speaks volumes of the bad faith of the faith-based.”

Now, not for the first time, Hitchens has fallen foul of this bad faith. After all, what can be more abhorrent than baying for a man to abandon his lifelong principles when he is at his most vulnerable, and spreading callous lies when he can no longer respond? It speaks for the complete lack of confidence these people must have in their beliefs that they strike when the individual is at their least lucid and most desperate.

Hitchens felt the bitter end of the religious stick when he was dying as well, and he responded with typical wit and good humour. He was told that it was “God’s curse that he would have cancer near his throat because that was the organ (he) used to blaspheme.” His response? “Well, I’ve used many other organs to blaspheme as well if it comes to that.” One suspects that he would have rubbished recent talk in a similarly sardonic fashion.

Likewise, for a man who was not afraid of a provocative title himself (see: The Missionary Position, No One Left to Lie to) it would be reasonable to think he’d accept his own life as fair game. From Mother Theresa to Princess Diana, for Hitchens, there were no sacred cows. He certainly would not have wanted to become one.

Fortunately, we are blessed with the wonders of the internet, and Hitchens can respond to these claims as Thomas Paine and David Hume could not – from the grave. His prediction and preparation for this speaks of an intellect like no other. In a posthumous debate he still wins out.