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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In praise of the late developer

The success of late developers proves that our obsession with early achievement is wrong.

A fortnight ago, I fell into conversation with the head teacher of a local school. “You’ve got to create room for late developers,” he said. “The obsession with early attainment doesn’t suit most children.”

We were soon finishing each other’s sentences – talking about long-term confidence rather than short-term hothousing, how children don’t develop in a linear way, and the value of having transferable skills rather than a single focus from a young age.

What a shame, I reflected, that his message doesn’t reach a wider audience. We hear so much about prodigies and precociousness – Serena Williams and her pushy father, Tiger Woods and “tiger mothers” – and so little of the counter-argument: the high achievers who emerge at a slower pace in more balanced circumstances.

Our conversation ended when we both departed to watch England play Scotland in the Six Nations tournament. Only then did I learn that the head teacher’s son Huw Jones was playing in the centre for Scotland. He scored two tries, just as he did last autumn in his home debut against Australia.

Jones’s career is a tacit endorsement of his father’s philosophy. In his penultimate year at school, Huw was still playing mostly in the second XV. Five years on, he is a burgeoning talent on the world stage. The two facts are connected. Jones didn’t just overtake others; he also retained the naturalness that is often lost “in the system”.

As boys, he and his brother made up their own version of rugby practice: could the ­attacker sidestep and run past the defender without setting foot outside the five-metre line? They were just having fun, uncoached and unsupervised. But their one-on-one game was teaching the most valuable skill in rugby: the ability to beat defenders in confined spaces.

Jones had access to superb opportunities throughout – at home, at Canterbury rugby club and then at Millfield, the independent school in Somerset well known for producing sportsmen. But at Millfield, he was far from being a superstar. He seldom played “A-team” rugby. The message from home: just keep enjoying it and getting better and eventually your time will come.

There was a useful precedent. Matt Perry, who won 36 caps for England between 1997 and 2001, had been a “B-team” player at school. What matters is where you end up, not who leads the race at the age of 16. Jones also developed transferable skills by continuing to play other sports. “Don’t specialise too early,” was the mantra of Richard Ellison, the former England cricketer who taught at Millfield for many years.

When Jones was 18 and finally blossoming in the school’s first XV, rugby agents started to take an interest, promising to place him in the “academy” of a professional team. “But I’d seen so many kids take that route and seen how bored they got,” his father, Bill, reflects. So Bill advised his son to go abroad, to gain experience of new cultures and to keep playing rugby for fun instead of getting on the tracksuited professional treadmill.

So Jones took a teaching job in Cape Town, where he played men’s club rugby. Instead of entering the professional system, as one of a bland cohort of similar-aged “prospects”, he served his apprenticeship among players drawn from different backgrounds and ages. Sport was shown to be a matter of friendship and community, not just a career path.

The University of Cape Town spotted and recruited Jones, who helped it win the South African university competition. Only then, in 2014, did British professional rugby teams start to take a serious interest. Jones, however, was enjoying South Africa and stayed put, signing a contract with the Stormers in the Super Rugby tournament – the world’s leading club competition.

So, in the space of 18 months, Jones had gone from being a gap-year Brit with no formal ties to professional rugby to playing against the world’s best players each week. He had arrived on the big stage, following a trajectory that suited him.

The level of competition had escalated rapidly but the tries kept coming. Scotland, by now closely monitoring a player qualified by birth, gave him his spectacular home debut against Australia last autumn – remarkable but not surprising. Finding his feet ­instantly on each new stage is the pattern of his career.

Those two qualities – first, instinctive ­try-scoring; second, a lack of vertigo – are connected. Amid all the jargon of professional sport, perhaps the most important qualities – freshness, ingenuity and the gift of surprise – are undervalued. Yet all of these rely on skills honed over many years – honed, but not dulled.

Shoehorning all young players into rigid, quasi-professional systems long before they are ready comes with risks. First, we seldom hear from the child prodigies who faded away (often damaged psychologically). Many players who are pushed too hard miss their natural learning arc; the narrative of their ambition, or the ambition imposed on them by parents, is often out of step with their physical and psychological growth. Second, systems have a habit of overestimating their contribution: they become blind to outsiders.

In a quiet way, Jones is a case study in evolved education and not just sport: a talented performer who was given time and space to find his voice. The more we learn about talent, as David Epstein demonstrated in The Sports Gene, the clearer it becomes that focusing on champion 11-year-olds decreases the odds of producing champion adults. Modern science has reinforced less frantic and neurotic educational values; variety and fun have their virtues.

Over the long term, put your faith not in battery farming but instead, in Bill Jones’s phrase, in “free-range children”.

Ed Smith is a journalist and author, most recently of Luck. He is a former professional cricketer and played for both Middlesex and England.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution