Sunday, June 20, 2010


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Truth is stranger than fiction. But it is gospel truth that the Pentagon of the United States has invested a large sum of money in buying both new and redone Russian helicopters for the fledgling Afghan Air Corps. What happened to the patriotic slogan “Be American Buy American.” The slogan is intact and well set in its place. However, Pragmatic philosophy has carried the day.
Indeed it is a U-turn for the US Pentagon. In the 1980s when the Soviet armed forces were in occupation of Afghanistan, the Pentagon had financed and supplied Stinger missiles to the Afghan rebels to shoot down Soviet choppers and low flying fixed wing aircraft. The Stinger missiles were deadly and effective. Now in 2010, the Pentagon has gone in for a big buy of Russian Mi 17 transport helicopters to equip the Afghan Air Corps. The United States will be spending as much as 648 million US dollars to buy new choppers or refurbish their used ones As many as 31 Mi 17 Russian helicopters are being bought this year and ten more would be bought next year. Over a dozen plus choppers would be bought over aperiod of a decade or so. The American trainers are hopeful that by 2016, five years after the date set for beginning a planned withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, the Afghan Air Corps would be ready on its own and run the show in the skies. Their strength and that of the choppers would go up many times.
The US Congress is not happy about the deal with Russians on the military choppers. The Congressmen feel that the Pentagon did not go in depth to analyse the issue and push for buying American helicopters. They also have opined that the Russians realised that there was no competition in the arms bazaar and so they charged exorbitant price even for the refurbished helicopters. The loss of face and loss of money could have been avoided with a little forethought and proper forward planning.
The Soviet designers had made Mi 17 helicopters for the Afghan skies. This sturdy war horse is best suited for the Afghan skies. It flies on the heights of the Hindu Kush and negotiates the high altitude desert too. Further the recruits for the Afghan Air Corps are by and large illiterate. They have to be taught both native language as well as English from the scratch. Since the language of the cockpit is English the pilots should be conversant with the language. Listening, understanding and speaking English is not an easy job for the Afghan trainees. India too has been contributing quite a lot in the field of education, especially English and Sciences, not forgetting Maths. The officers of the Army Educational Corps of the Indian Army have been doing the teaching job for quite some time. Two officers attained martyrdom in a dastardly attack by the L eT, egged on by the ISI of Pakistan. Nevertheless the job in hand has to be completed, come what may, so say the Indian Army officers. Commendable attitude they have displayed, indeed.
General Mohammad Dawran, Chief of the Afghan Air Corps has said that most of the trained helicopter pilots are in their forties now. It would be difficult for them to switch over from the Russian machine to the American machine at this stage. It is right from the days of the Soviet occupation that the Russian equipment was introduced and found quite effective in that climate and terrain. General Dawran threw his weight behind the No-changers andhis logic was accepted by the American advisors. Hence in 2010 the decision was made to go in for the Russian helicopters. Brigadier Michael Boera of the US Air Force who is in charge of training the Afghan Air Corps supported the view taken by the Afghan officers and their political masters. The US Pentagon went with them, much to the chagrin of the US Congress.
As of now the Russian helicopters of the Afghan Air Corps are being used in the support role. They carry supplies and ferry officers and troops to and fro. They do go to the combat zone but only to deliver supplies and carry armed forces personnel. The role of these transport helicopters and their pilots has been well appreciated. Top ranking politicians, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai and top ranking US Army General also are flown by the Afghan pilots. However, no combat role has been chalked out for them so far.
In not too distant future the pilots of the Afghan Air Corps may be given a combat role. It is envisaged that again a Russian built helicopter would foot the bill. The Mi 35 gunships have proved themselves in counter-insurgency warfare in Russia and elsewhere. Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and other Muslim dominated provinces of the Russian Federation created law and order problems. The central government in Moscow under the leadership of the ironman, Vladimir Putin dealt with Islamist insurgency very effectively. Reportedly the use of Mi 35 helicopter gunships was found to be very effective. In view of their past performance, Mi 35 helicopter gunships may be introduced in Afghanistan too. Of course, Afghan pilots, gunners, navigators and other personnel will have to be trained thoroughly before they are assigned combat roles. That explains why the American trainers have set 2016 as the deadline for the Afghan Air Corps to act independently without the aid and assistance of personnel of the US Air Force.
Many a time an element of doubt crops up about the competence of the Afghan combat pilots to act on their own. A parallel is drawn from the era of the Soviet withdrawal and collapse of the Afghan administrative and defence infra-structure. That was the time whem the Taliban came in and filled the vacuum. They took control of the country under the guidance of their mentor, Pakistan. Is the history likely to repeat itself? One sincerely hopes not. It is the moral duty of the US Administration to ensure that the control of a country like Afghanistan is not handed over to the Taliban and their mentor, Pakistan on a silver platter. It will be the Dharma of the democratic countries in the neighbourhood to come to the active aid of the new administration of Afghanistan to ensure that the Rule of Law prevails.
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Friday, June 18, 2010


The Arya Samaj indeed is an international movement and not a national one. Right from day one when this august movement made a debut in Bombay in 1875 the entire mankind was put in focus. Among the 28 principles enunciated at the inception and later modified to 10 principles in Lahore in 1877, the emphasis has all along been on the development of the entire mankind. The sixth principle of the Arya Samaj states that promotion of well being of the entire humanity – physical, spiritual and social development – is the main aim of the Aryan movement. It needs no underscoring that as a reformation movement the Arya Samaj is not confined to the geographical or political boundaries of a nation state. However, India being the birth place of the movement and the founder promoter of the Arya Samaj, Maharshi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, being an Indian the initial impact was felt in the then British India.
Notwithstanding the historical and geographical past, the movement gained momentum in other European, African and American states where men and women of Indian origin with an Ayan bent of mind settled for education, business, service or other human and legal occupations. These Aryan pioneers held the flag of the Arya Samaj aloft and kept it flying despite numerous odds that they faced. They had a recurring problem. Were they to pay attention to the country of their birth or to the country of their adoption. The concept of dual citizenship was not even in an embryo form more than a century ago. The pioneer Arya Samajists had to profess and demonstrate their loyalty to the country where they earned their bread and butter and at the same time had to inwardly remain attached to the country where their forefathers were born and the Arya Samaj was founded. Indeed some felt tormented where as others took it in their normal stride of life. Without violating the law of the land of adoption, they kept their conscience and their `Vedic Dharm’ in an unadulterated form. We raise our hats and salute to them for their quality of character and strength of perseverance.
The Arya Samajists born and raised in India have indeed no problem of dual citizenship or tormented conscience. Unencumbered by a tormented conscience the Arya Samajists of India have had all the time in the world to devote their undivided attention to nation building. Turning a page of history we find that the British government in India had started keeping a suspicious eye on the activities of the Arya Samaj after many an Arya had joined the national freedom movement. When Lala Lajpat Rai, a prominent Arya Samajist and a freedom fighter was imprisoned and exiled by turns, the Arya Samaj faced the ire of the Raj. Gurukul Kangri of Swami Shradhanand Saraswati was rated as a factory manufacturing revolutionaries by the sleuths of the central government. This state continued until Sir Ramsay Mc Donald later prime minister of United Kingdom (UK), Deenbandhu Andrews and other prominent Englishmen paid a visit to the Gurukul and found not only peace of mind but spiritual tranquility in its hallowed precincts.
Past is past. It is the present that an Indian Arya has to take care of. The Arya Samaj now is rarely in the news in nation building activity. Although the educational institutions like the DAV schools and colleges, various Gurukuls and Arya Kanya Paathshaalas are rendering yeoman’s service in the cause of education, direct involvement with the masses has been gradually receding. With the result various prominent Arya speakers have been only lecturing and listening to each other. Consequently there is no forward movement and we seem to be running in circles. It is time we broke the circular run and moved forward double time.
If an individual or an organization puts too many irons in fire, none is heated. In other words launching too many projects simultaneously does not produce the desired results. In the bargain we fritter away our energies and limited resources. Therefore, let us pick and choose some areas where we can move forward with our brothers and sisters not only in India but also in other parts of the world too.
In nation building unity of aim is very important. Right now the Indian nation is rather badly divided on linguistic, religious and regional bases. After more than half a century of independence, a sizable section of the population refuses to sing the national song Vande Mataram, because they mistakenly believe it infringes their religious beliefs. How can a nation be a nation when the nation doesn’t sing together a song enshrined into the constitution as a national song. The Arya Samaj may move forward and disabuse the minds of illiterate and semi-literate people by educating them and enlightening them. Let Vande Mataram which indeed is not an idolatrous song, be sung at various Arya Samaj functions after chanting of the eight Ved Mantras of Ishwar Stuti and reading the Ten Principles or Das Niyam of the Arya Samaj.
At the end of the event the second mantra of the Sangathan Sukta should be recited in unison to bring in social cohesion. It is indeed a very welcome development that many a government school and private education institutions have rendered the Sangathan Sukta mantras and its Hindi version into a musical chorus. The boys and girls sing the chorus with gusto. Let us carry this torch of emotional cohesion to every nook and corner of our beloved Bharat and light the unlighted lamps from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Kamrupa to Kutch.
Pursuing the sixth principle of the Arya Samaj the Arya leaders should pay extra ordinary attention to the physical wellbeing of our compatriots. Off late it is noticed that the mushrooming growth of educational institutions has paid little attention to games and sports. Schools and colleges proudly declaring thousands of students on their rolls have little space or playing fields for team games. For nation building and bringing in social cohesion team games play a very vital role. Day in and day out we are reminded of the famous saying of England, ``the battle of Waterloo was won on the playgrounds of Eton.’’ In other words it was the famous public school of Eton that provided the sound military leadership and cohesion in thought and action that could beat the mighty French legions of Napoleon. Unfortunately not enough has been done to have such playgrounds for our leaders of society in making.
In the physical well being of the masses education to keep the growing menace of AIDS at arms length is now a must. Indeed, ``Shariramadyam Khalu Dharm Sadhanam,’’ that is, it is the body that is certainly the first means of practicing righteousness. Let their not only be a healthy mind in a healthy body but also a healthy soul in a healthy body. The way AIDS has been eating into the vitals of our society, the day is not far off when we will be cremating our dead in dozens like the African are burying theirs – all victims of AIDS.
What is AIDS? Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome – in other words the virus renders ineffective the body’s natural immune system. AIDS is transmitted not only by indulging in unsafe sex with multiple partners but also by HIV positive blood transfusion and using infected needles. The only protection from AIDS is prevention. AIDS is a killer disease and silently eats into the body’s defences against disease. Even innocuous maladies like common cold cannot be prevented and the patient dies a horrible death. The Arya Samaj should be on the forefront to educate the youth – both men and women to protect the future generation from the clutches of this dreaded disease. Education is the best and at present, the only weapon against this virus.
While taking care of the physical well being, emotional stability has to be attended to. If an individual, a family, a group or a nation is emotionally stable, development will take place at a faster pace. For peace of mind and for international peace emotional stability is a sine qua non, that is, a basic must. Individuals have to practice it and also give up the tendency to seize or grab what does not belong to them. In the words of Yogeshwar Shri Krishna the two pillars of emotional stability are Abhyas and Vairagya that is constant practice of the good things in life and detachment from the mundane world.
Let us hope and pray that our Arya brothers and sisters march forward in unison by selecting the aforesaid programme of action and participate in nation building.
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM

Saturday, June 12, 2010


To be or not to be in a blessed state has never been the question before an average human being except the likes of Shakespeare’s creation called Hamlet. To be in a blessed state is to be more than happy. Indeed, happiness is a state of mind whereas being in a blessed state encompasses both body and soul. The Vedic word for the state of blessedness is ``ANAND’’.

No wonder the social and religious reformer of the 19th century India, Swami Dayanand Saraswati always addressed his disciples and friends in letters using the words ``Anandit Raho’’ or be in a state of blessedness. This was his way of writing to the high and mighty as well as the commoners. Shriyut Mulraj, Jiwandas, Saindas etc of Lahore, Pandit Shyamji Krishna Varma of Mumbai, His Highness Maharana Sajjan Singh ji, king of Mewar,Udaipur were equally blessed by the Maharshi in his correspondence with them. About himself too he would mention in the letters ``main anand mein hoon.’’ (I am in a state of blessedness) . Of course, it is ``Anand’’ that the soul or the Jeevatma longs for.
With a view to achieving the state of blessedness, one has to strike the happy balance of ``Prarthna (prayer)and purushartha (action). The twain shall meet, if one strives for it. In the Vedic sandhya, right at the end, the devout soul with a sense of `Samarpan’, which is more than a willful surrender to the wishes of the Almighty, prays for realization of the ultimate goal – Moksha – and affirms his will to work for it through the prescribed path of Karma (action). While doing one’s duty one is fortified by devotion to Ishwar (God) through recitation of and meditation on the meaning of the mantras.

``Charaiveti Charaiveti’’ – move on and on – that is the Vedic command to all humans wherever they are. If one halts for good, one is as good as dead. An individual whose body has not been abandoned by the soul should pulsate with energy for lively action. It should be right action for the right cause. The right goal is achieved through the right means.
All our actions will be well intentioned if we are guided by a feeling of friendliness towards one and all without any discrimination in thought and action. ``Mitrasya Chakshusha Sarvani Bhutani Samikshantam’’ – look at and behave with all living beings as FRIENDS. If you befriend one and all you rise above avarice, anger, animosity and similar negative feelings. One will not do to a friend what one will not do to one’s self. Thus the state of blessedness will descend on the door of the good. It is the ideal condition when all human beings will be free from strife. Agony will yield to Ecstasy.
With a view to achieving that state of blessedness one should strive to have an enlightened mind in a healthy body and play the role of an active member of a vibrant social order. The totality of this happy combination will result in social efficiency. For a healthy body adequate and regular exercise coupled with a balanced diet is recommended. PRANAYAM or conscious control of inhaling, holding on and exhaling process contributes a lot in restoring respiratory system and consequent blood circulation to a state of perfect health. One should seek and be blessed by a good guru and get going with the pranayam practices. Regular morning walks and allied aerobic exercises may supplement the PRANAYAMIC ones in one’s quest of state of blessedness.

``Are you fond of good food?’’ Who isn’t, that is a counter question. The well fed men and women should never lose sight of the age old saying: ``eat to live and don’t live to eat.’’ An observance of this time tested observation will go more than half way in solving the chronic over weight related problems, preventing achievement of the state of blessedness. Dhanwantri, the celebrated Vaidyaraj of yore had opined ``hit bhook, mit bhook, rit bhook’’ that is eat what promotes health, eat that much that your body needs and eat what you earn by the sweat of your brow. Indeed propitiating the palate has no place in our quest of blessed state. Food for thought of course is of prime importance in this context. Healthy literature promotes a healthy mind. ``Porno’’ has no place in our quest, notwithstanding the Freudian emphasis on sex as a dynamo producing energy for all types of human actions. Those who subscribe to CHARVAK’S theory of heavy borrowing to fund a luxurious living come to grief. A grieving man is by no chance a Blessed Man.

Let us develop a healthy mind in a healthy body and live in a state of perpetual fearlessness – ABHAYAM. Let us enlist the support of the family and the common man in the society to achieve the blessed state. We may, therefore, enjoy its fruits with the blessings of God – SACCHIDANAND.

Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant


At the beginning of the human creation, God transmitted divine knowledge to mankind for a style of life generating health and happiness. God revealed VEDAS or Divine Knowledge to the Rishis or the sages and they passed it on without in any way discriminating between man and woman or between man and man on grounds of caste, creed or colour, The entire human race is entitled to read the Ved mantras, meditate on them and improve the quality of life.

One has just to make an effort to read and meditate on the mantra and the happy results would not be far to find. One may read the original mantra compilation called samhita or go to the translation of the text and explanation or exposition in English or Hindi language. Treatises explaining meaning of the Ved mantras may be available in other languages too. Meditation on mantras leads to bliss. ``Vedo Akhilo Dharm Moolam’’ - Vedas are the roots of righteousness. When one walks on the path of righteousness one is doing one’s Dharma as a good man ought to. Who is a good man? One who is socially efficient is a good man or a woman.

He or she is an achiever of right goals through right means. This Mister Right cares as much for the society as for himself. Should there be a conflict of interests between the self and the society, self must be made subservient to the society. This is what the Vedic way of life is all about. This path of social efficiency is paved with and illuminated by the Ved Mantras.

The Ved Mantras always show light at the end of the tunnel and bring in optimism and become a source of inspiration to lift a man or a woman when he or she is d own in the dumps. It may also be understood that the Vedas, being divine knowledge, are considered to be infallible. Other branches of knowledge originate from this pristine source. Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj, has opined that the non-Vedic works conforming to the Vedic Dharm are acceptable but the ones in conflict with the Vedic precepts are not acceptable. Ved mantras are the touchstone to decide either way. Ved mantras are cornerstones of the edifice of the Vedic Dharma.

The Vedas are four in number: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda. At the beginning of the creation, the Rishis in whose hearts the four Vedas, Rig, Yaju, Sama and Atharva were revealed are Agni, Vayu, Aditya and Angira respectively.

Now let us take a close look at them and meditate on Ved mantras relevant to the human scenario today. The Rigveda is the Ved of Sciences. There are ten thousand five hundred eighty nine mantras spread over ten mandals or ten major cantos.

With a view to understanding the spiritual import of Ved Mantras, quite a few vedic scholars of yore like Sayan and Mahidhar wrote Ved Bhashya or Vedic commentaries in simple Sanskrit. In the 19th century India a Vedic renaissance took place. Maharshi Swami Dayanand Saraswati had the distinction of being the first Rishi to write commentaries on the divineVedas both in Sanskrit and Hindi. The Vedic wisdom was unlocked and the biggest beneficiary was the common man on the street. It was a religious revolution.

Unlocking the Vedic knowledge and letting the deprived segments of society reap the harvest definitely enriched quality of life of an average man.

The Yajurveda comprises one thousand nine hundred seventy five mantras. Its basic emphasis is on Karmakand, correlating mantras and yajna. The mantras inspired men and women to realize God in their inner self. Mantras motivated men and women to banish the evil and imbibe the noble. Making donations for charities is one of the ways to attain nobility on the path to attain Moksha, that is liberation of soul from the bondage of repeated cycles of births and deaths.

The Samaveda comprises one thousand eight hundred seventy five mantras. This is known as Upasanakand or the prayer sung for realization of the Supreme Being n one’s inner self. The word SA-AM, inter-alia, means a communion of soul with God. SA means the Almighty and AM is soul or Jeeva and SAAM is a synthesis of the two. The Atharvaveda comprises five thousand nine hundred and seventy seven mantras. It is known as the Jynankand. The mantras of Atharvaved enlighten men and women in their quest of God and help them seek Him in ``Matter or objects of this mundane world’’.

The Vedas propound the philosophy of Trinity, i.e. existence of God, soul and matter before the Creation, during the Creation and after the Creation is over. The three exist as independent entities with myriad opportunities to interact. God, of course, is supreme being always and everytime. Correlating the Vedic knowledge with the mundane matters of today, one may like to take a look at the scenario of terrorism and what the Vedas have to say on the subject.

Does a Vedic sanction exist against wanton killings of human beings and destruction of property with a view to terrorizing human beings? Of course it does.

The Rigveda gives a definite direction to punish the killers and eulogize the warrior who wields Vajra. Punishment of the criminal killer is a must. The Rigveda defines a warrior as one who wields the invincible weapon of war, Vajra, for the common good of the society. He fights the battle with self-confidence, high morale and valour against terrorists.

A Vedic warrior against terrorist has to keep himself cool, calm and collected. Let the like-minded men and women consolidate the forces of good people against the evil terrorists and eliminate them once for all. It is high time the saints wielded the Vedic Vajra and killed the sinner-killers. According to the Vedic philosophy God is One. He is without a form or shape. He is never born in this world and,therefore the question of His death or disappearance does not arise.In other words, Vedas do not subscribe to the theory of AVATAR or God coming to this world in a human form to help man.

God is omnipresent, omniscient and all powerful to run this universe as per the divine laws which He too does not break or infringe. The Vedic Dharm does not subscribe to the theory of God deputing prophets to run His errands. There is a direct communication between God and man and there is no place for a middleman. That is why the treasure of Vedic knowledge made available to man through mantras does not envisage a godman who is different from a common man. It is indeed the divine right of men and women to delve deep into the Vedic realm and live a life of righteousness.

Vedas lay an emphasis on the Truth.”Satyam Vad, Dharmam Char” is the epitome of the path of righteousness. It means :tell the truth and go by the principles of Dharma or the code of conduct aiming at purity in life.One may wonder if that is a pragmatic philosophy of life.Of course,it is.A path strewn with untruth and dishonesty may pay seemingly rich dividends but in actual fact these dividends are ephemeral. A short –term gain may eventually lead one into a dark abyss where one is condemned to live in pain and misery forever.

The Vedic way of life takes care of life after death which is followed by a rebirth. What Samskar a soul acquires when it is embodied has its effects in the birth after death too. Vedas prescribe a clean life which pays dividends many times over.

The Vedas prescribe a four-fold path to Moksha or liberation of soul from the endless cycle of birth,death and rebirth..It is DHARMA,ARTHA, KAMA and MOKSHA.As we proceed further in subsequent chapters,we shall dwell on the salient aspects of this four-fold path. For the time being one may understand that Dharma takes one on the right course of life,Artha enables one to earn wealth by the sweat of brow,kama enables one to have a high ideal to be achieved through hard work.Should a man or a woman follow this vedic path,Moksha or liberation from birth,death and rebirth will not be far to seek.

By Chitranjan Sawant