The funny thing about thoughts is its ability to drift from one to another. It is also the most powerful thing about them. The idea behind this post came to me when my aunt was complaining about the price surge on flowers owing to the festival season. Roses, Jasmines and marigolds were selling at the price of gold – in her words. My little cousin then suggested why don’t we use the periwinkles and zinnias that were available in the backyard. To which my aunt replied as a matter of fact that these flowers were not ‘pure’ enough to be offered to God or used in prayers.

This got me thinking. How did we humans arrive at this discrimination of flowers – the most beautiful gifts of nature.

The more I thought about this, the more I realised how we humans have made discrimination a part of our life. Everything in this world has been divided, categorised and labelled based on what we think is ‘pure/impure’, ‘right/wrong’ ‘legit/illegit’.

Did you know that certain vegetables and fruits that did not originate in India Eg –   Cauliflowers, Cabbage and Capsicum are not used in delicacies that we make during religious ceremonies or offered to God as Prasadam? This is not particular to one religion. Some communities do not eat vegetables that grow underground, others don’t eat plants like mushrooms that grow without a seed. While I am aware that many of these have scientific backing, the ability of humans to discriminate things to such a minute level is what baffles me.

The discrimination varies based on region, religion and the likes. But it prevails in every aspect fo life. Some are more prominent some are less. But the discrimination exists. Some animals are looked upon reverentially while others are treated inhumanly. Some flowers and fruits are linked to divine tales about Gods and Goddesses while others are discarded as mere croton. Some fruits are offered in prayer while others are considered not pure enough to be placed beside the former.

Come to think of it, it is not really all that surprising. Considering that we humans have not spared our own species from this discrimination. We have divided ourselves in terms of colour, lifestyle, food habits, religion, region, birth, disabilities and even gender. If you Google the different categories of discrimination that we humans have invented you will be perplexed by the results. We really have left no stone unturned to divide ourselves and our fellow living beings on this planet.

While researching for this post, I came across a term called Speciesism. You can read more about it by clicking on the word. It is a term coined during a protest against animal experimentation in 1970. It speaks about how certain animals are considered morally superior while others are not.

Discrimination is one of the deadliest weapons ever invented by humankind.

It has not only divided humans and turned them against each other, but has also contributed significantly in creating an imbalance in nature.

One phrase that comes to my mind in this regard is from the Upanishads – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – which translates to The World is One Family. (“vasudhā”, the earth; “ēva” = indeed; and “kutumbakam”, family.) I had previously written an article about the Power of Unity. You can read it by clicking on the words.

The world is a family

One is a relative, the other stranger,
say the small minded.
The entire world is a family,
live the magnanimous.

Be detached,
be magnanimous,
lift up your mind, enjoy
the fruit of Brahmanic freedom.

Maha Upanishad 6.71–75

This paragraph from the Upanishads tells us that people who lived thousands of years ago knew what discrimination could do to this beautiful world while we still haven’t been able to realise it. It is truly disappointing that while we are progressing in terms of science and technology, we are regressing when it comes to culture and values!

That is all I had for today.

Love,

Ashwini


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