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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Who is the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier?

The former French foreign minister has shown signs that he will play hardball in negotiations.

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator today set an October 2018 deadline for the terms of Britain’s divorce from the European Union to be agreed. Michel Barnier gave his first press conference since being appointed to head up what will be tough talks between the EU and UK.

Speaking in Brussels, he warned that UK-EU relations had entered “uncharted waters”. He used the conference to effectively shorten the time period for negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal process to take Britain out of the EU. The article sets out a two year period for a country to leave the bloc.

But Barnier, 65, warned that the period of actual negotiations would be shorter than two years and there would be less than 18 months to agree Brexit.  If the terms were set in October 2018, there would be five months for the European Parliament, European Council and UK Parliament to approve the deal before a March 2019 Brexit.

But who is the urbane Frenchman who was handpicked by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to steer the talks?

A centre-right career politician, Barnier is a member of the pan-EU European People’s Party, like Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A committed European and architect of closer eurozone banking integration, Barnier rose to prominence after being elected aged just 27 to the French National Assembly.  He is notorious in Brussels for his repeated references to the 1992 Winter Olympics he organised in Albertville with triple Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy.

He first joined the French cabinet in 1993 as minister of the environment. In 1995, Jacques Chirac made him Secretary of State for European Affairs, teeing up a long and close relationship with Brussels.

Barnier has twice served as France’s European Commissioner, under the administrations of Romano Prodi and José Manuel BarrosoMost recently he was serving as an unpaid special advisor on European Defence Policy to Juncker until the former prime minister of Luxembourg made him Brexit boss.“I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job,” Juncker said at the time of Barnier, who has supported moves towards an EU army.

 

Barnier and the Brits

Barnier’s appointment was controversial. Under Barroso, he was Internal Market commissioner. Responsible for financial services legislation at the height of the crisis, he clashed with the City of London.

During this period he was memorably described as a man who, in a hall of mirrors, would stop and check his reflection in every one.

Although his battles with London’s bankers were often exaggerated, the choice of Barnier was described as an “act of war” by some British journalists and was greeted with undisguised glee by Brussels europhiles.

Barnier moved to calm those fears today. At the press conference, he said, “I was 20 years old, a very long time ago, when I voted for the first time and it was in the French referendum on the accession of the UK to the EU.

“That time I campaigned for a yes vote. And I still think today that I made right choice.”

But Barnier, seen by some as aloof and arrogant, also showed a mischievous side.  It was reported during Theresa May’s first visit to Brussels as prime minister that he was demanding that all the Brexit talks be conducted in French.

While Barnier does speak English, he is far more comfortable talking in his native French. But the story, since denied, was seen as a snub to the notoriously monolingual Brits.

The long lens photo of a British Brexit strategy note that warned the EU team was “very French” may also have been on his mind as he took the podium in Brussels today.

Barnier asked, “In French or in English?” to laughter from the press.

He switched between English and French in his opening remarks but only answered questions in French, using translation to ensure he understood the questions.

Since his appointment Barnier has posted a series of tweets which could be seen as poking fun at Brexit. On a tour of Croatia to discuss the negotiations, he posed outside Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships asking, “Guess where we are today?”

 

 

He also tweeted a picture of himself drinking prosecco after Boris Johnson sparked ridicule by telling an Italian economics minister his country would have to offer the UK tariff-free trade to sell the drink in Britain.

But Barnier can also be tough. He forced through laws to regulate every financial sector, 40 pieces of legislation in four years, when he was internal market commissioner, in the face of sustained opposition from industry and some governments.

He warned today, "Being a member of the EU comes with rights and benefits. Third countries [the UK] can never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to same obligations.”

On the possibility of Britain curbing free movement of EU citizens and keeping access to the single market, he was unequivocal.

“The single market and four freedoms are indivisible. Cherry-picking is not an option,” he said.

He stressed that his priority in the Brexit negotiations would be the interests of the remaining 27 member states of the European Union, not Britain.

“Unity is the strength of the EU and President Juncker and I are determined to preserve the unity and interest of the EU-27 in the Brexit negotiations.”

In a thinly veiled swipe at the British, again greeted with laughter in the press room, he told reporters, “It is much better to show solidarity than stand alone. I repeat, it is much better to show solidarity than stand alone”.

Referring to the iconic British poster that urged Brits to "Keep Calm and Carry On” during World War Two, he today told reporters, “We are ready. Keep calm and negotiate.”

But Barnier’s calm in the face of the unprecedented challenge to the EU posed by Brexit masks a cold determination to defend the European project at any cost.

James Crisp is the news editor at EurActiv, an online EU news service.