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There are many lending practices which have been called abusive and labeled with the term “predatory lending.” There is a great deal of dispute between lenders and consumer groups as to what exactly constitutes “unfair” or “predatory” practices, but the following are sometimes cited.
Unjustified risk-based pricing. This is the practice of charging more (in the form of higher interest rates and fees) for extending credit to borrowers identified by the lender as posing a greater credit risk. The lending industry argues that risk-based pricing is a legitimate practice; since a greater percentage of loans made to less creditworthy borrowers can be expected to go into default, higher prices are necessary to obtain the same yield on the portfolio as a whole. Some consumer groups argue that higher prices paid by more vulnerable consumers cannot always be justified by increased credit risk.[7]
Single-premium credit insurance. This is the purchase of insurance which will pay off the loan in case the homebuyer dies. It is more expensive than other forms of insurance because it does not involve any medical checkups, but customers almost always are not shown their choices, because usually the lender is not licensed to sell other forms of insurance. In addition, this insurance is usually financed into the loan which causes the loan to be more expensive, but at the same time encourages people to buy the insurance because they do not have to pay up front.
Failure to present the loan price as negotiable.[7] Many lenders will negotiate the price structure of the loan with borrowers. In some situations, borrowers can even negotiate an outright reduction in the interest rate or other charges on the loan. Consumer advocates argue that borrowers, especially unsophisticated borrowers, are not aware of their ability to negotiate and might even be under the mistaken impression that the lender is placing the borrower’s interests above its own. Thus, many borrowers do not take advantage of their ability to negotiate.[7]
Failure to clearly and accurately disclose terms and conditions, particularly in cases where an unsophisticated borrower is involved. Mortgage loans are complex transactions involving multiple parties and dozens of pages of legal documents. In the most egregious of predatory cases, lenders or brokers have been not only misled borrowers but also actually altered documents after they have been signed.

Here is their entire article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_lending

Read Full Post »

There are many lending practices which have been called abusive and labeled with the term “predatory lending.” There is a great deal of dispute between lenders and consumer groups as to what exactly constitutes “unfair” or “predatory” practices, but the following are sometimes cited.
Unjustified risk-based pricing. This is the practice of charging more (in the form of higher interest rates and fees) for extending credit to borrowers identified by the lender as posing a greater credit risk. The lending industry argues that risk-based pricing is a legitimate practice; since a greater percentage of loans made to less creditworthy borrowers can be expected to go into default, higher prices are necessary to obtain the same yield on the portfolio as a whole. Some consumer groups argue that higher prices paid by more vulnerable consumers cannot always be justified by increased credit risk.[7]
Single-premium credit insurance. This is the purchase of insurance which will pay off the loan in case the homebuyer dies. It is more expensive than other forms of insurance because it does not involve any medical checkups, but customers almost always are not shown their choices, because usually the lender is not licensed to sell other forms of insurance. In addition, this insurance is usually financed into the loan which causes the loan to be more expensive, but at the same time encourages people to buy the insurance because they do not have to pay up front.
Failure to present the loan price as negotiable.[7] Many lenders will negotiate the price structure of the loan with borrowers. In some situations, borrowers can even negotiate an outright reduction in the interest rate or other charges on the loan. Consumer advocates argue that borrowers, especially unsophisticated borrowers, are not aware of their ability to negotiate and might even be under the mistaken impression that the lender is placing the borrower’s interests above its own. Thus, many borrowers do not take advantage of their ability to negotiate.[7]
Failure to clearly and accurately disclose terms and conditions, particularly in cases where an unsophisticated borrower is involved. Mortgage loans are complex transactions involving multiple parties and dozens of pages of legal documents. In the most egregious of predatory cases, lenders or brokers have been not only misled borrowers but also actually altered documents after they have been signed.

Here is their entire article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_lending

Read Full Post »

Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:21:56
Subject: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
From: Punya’tman Deva
To: am-global@earthlink.net

Baba

This entire email is composed of 3 parts:
(1) Prabhat Samgiita #3199;
(2) Posting: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
(3) Trailer Quote: Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Each section is demarcated by asterisks (***).

**** Here begins the Prabhat Samgiita ****

“Jhar’er ra’te a’ndha’rete kendechilum van-ma’jhe…” (P.S. 3199)

Purport:

O’ Parama Purusa, on that very dark night when a big thunderstorm was raging, I was crying alone in the deep forest. Nobody was there to talk to – to console me – to understand the tale of my suffering. Nobody was nearby. Certainly You were there along with me, but I could not feel Your presence.

In the height of that wild storm big branches were breaking off from the trees and crashing down on the ground. And all those tender buds and beautiful flowers were also completely blown off from the limbs of the trees; those buds and flowers were wailing loud lamentations; the trees were crying bitterly. That very dark, horrendous night was so disastrous.

O’ Parama Purusa, after this dark, menacing storm passes, and a soft, gentle breeze is in the air, will You please come in the madhuvan [1] of my mind, in my mental garden, with Your sweet, attractive form?…

NOTE FOR PRABHAT SAMGIITA #3199:

[1] Madhuvan: Literally meaning “sweet forest”; But it refers to that remote, isolated, garden in the mind that is filled with spring blossoms, sweet fragrance, aromatic flowers, and a gentle & fragrant breeze. It is that tranquil mental abode where nobody is present except the devotee and the Lord. And there the bhakta and Parama Purusa sit together ensconced in that very divinely intoxicated atmosphere and they share the loving feeling of their heart in a very close, intimate, and loving way.

== STORY: INCURRING DEBT RUINS MENTAL PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP ==

Namaskar,
This letter contains an in-depth Baba story with His critical and detailed guidelines about borrowing and lending money. This is very practical knowledge for us all to have as we may find ourselves in this position one day soon.

Do we lend money to those in need, or not?

Read below to get Baba’s pointed guideline and convey His unique message to others in your unit and community.

ANANDA MARGA: OPPOSITE OF CAPITALISM

The present era of materialism preaches “instant gratification”: Enjoy the world by buying happiness. Credit cards and loans are readily available to the common person. Indeed lending agencies and credit card companies are standing by with astronomical interest rates in order to rip off consumers. It is a deadly cycle; already so many have been victimised.

In Ananda Marga, our view is diametrically opposite. We interact with this world for our daily needs and aim our mind towards psychic and psycho-spiritual pursuits. We seek happiness and peace in those upper realms, not in the instant gratification of worldly indulgences. We know this, we practice this, but even then some in our Marga have gotten bound by the noose of capitalism.

But there is no winning in capitalism. Only those top capitalists derive some selfish benefit. The common public just borrows and spends money on material allurements hoping to find happiness; but ultimately they find themselves upset, frustrated and in debt. All the while, the impoverished masses around the globe suffer from an extreme dearth of resources, which have been gobbled up by those capitalists.

So we should not fall prey to the capitalist cycle of borrowing and spending. Please read this following Baba story about this very subject.

BABA STORY:

GUIDELINES ON FINANCIAL DEALING

Baba was against people borrowing or lending money. One day He said, “You must know that lending as well as borrowing is undesirable and detestable.”

I had known Baba’s attitude and so had always tried not to borrow money. But I still had a question, “Was it so bad to lend money to someone in distress?”

Baba answered with an illustration. “Do you know why it isn’t desirable to lend out money? Suppose someone has come to you to borrow some money. Maybe his need is genuine and his appeal is justified. As you listen to his story of distress, you are likely to want to be kind to him. Even if it is beyond your own means to lend a big amount, you become so upset thinking of his dire need that you take pity on him. Your thoughts get interrupted as the gentleman says, ‘You need not worry, dear brother. Please help me wriggle out of my crisis. If your generosity can take me out the present crisis, I’ll repay the loan within a month. Meanwhile I’m likely to get some money soon, so you may rest assured that you’ll get back your money on time.'”

Baba continued, “There may be no reason for you to disbelieve him. Suppose you are soft-hearted, so you collect the money somehow and hand it over to him. And he, too, feels glad and goes away.”

“That man may not have any intention of taking you for a ride, but it may turn out that he can’t get hold of the money as he thought. It is not so unusual. But you go on nursing the hope that he will repay you at the end of the month.”

“A month goes by. He hesitates to see you out of his shame because he has no money to repay to you. Suppose you go to him out of need for the money. In all likelihood he will be ill at ease and may take offense at your uncalled-for-presence. He will think, ‘How disgusting! He has come to me straightaway.’ Understandably, he will tell you a long excuse about why he has failed to repay you. You will give a patient hearing to him and coming back home begin to wait for the deadline as promised. There will be times when you come across him on the street. Immediately, he will think ‘O, my God! Here he is again, he will certainly remind me of my debt!'”

“Of course it’s only natural such thoughts come to mind, interspersed with some inaudible abusive remarks. Maybe you didn’t go to him for money, but what is that to him? Your presence will be unpleasant enough.”

“So whenever you meet him, he will think, ‘I am lost! He has come again to pressure me for that money.’ At the same time he will hurl some unsavory remarks at you, albeit silently. Contrary to what is in his mind, he will say, ‘Welcome, my dear brother. I am glad to meet you. I am so grateful to you,’ and so on and so forth.

“Undoubtedly the moment he sees you, he will heap uncharitable remarks on you, but when you will come within earshot, he will be all praises an parade his respect for you. It goes without saying that you will be put into a dilemma from not getting your money back even at the time of your own dire need. It may happen that your need will drive you to his house and shout from outside, ‘Hello, Mr.—-, are you there?’

“He will think, ‘Oh! he has come again for the money. What will I say to him?’

“Thinking this, he will not only silently curse you, but also try his best to avoid an encounter with you. Instead of coming outside, he will tell his little son to tell you that his father is out. Accordingly, the boy will run to you to inform you that his father is not in.

“Looking askance at him, you will say, ‘Go inside and find out for certain whether or not your father is there.’ The simple-minded child will reply, ‘Why, I don’t need to check because father has himself said that he is out.’ In this way your relationship with that friend will sour and you don’t know where it will end.”

“Well, he certainly would have been offended that first day if you had not lent him money. Not only that, he would possibly have been shocked and have silently heaped some abusive remarks. Nevertheless, the unpleasant situation would not have spilt over onto the rest of your life. If you lend money, you will inevitably invite filthy remarks galore. That is why a person should think many times before lending to others.”

I asked, “Sometimes a really good man may fall into trouble and sincerely need help. In that case, what is to be done?”

Baba said, “Instead of lending him money, you should help him according to your capacity. Suppose he is asking for five thousand rupees. Tell him your attitude about lending money and let him know your financial condition. Then help him with an amount that’s within your means. It may not be as much as he demands, but he will get consolation that you tried to share his difficulties.” (“My Days with Baba”, Sarveshvarananda)

The above story is quite clear on the point of borrowing and lending. According to Baba, we should not borrow money nor should we lend it. If anyone truly needs financial help, then we should give them money according to our capacity, and not expect anything in return.

BABA’S FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS

Here are some of His further teachings about this very critical topic.

First Baba warns us that we should seek counsel and permission before (a) spending money on superfluous items and (b) before taking any loan.

Ananda Marga Philosophy says, “I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their ácárya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender. Where one’s own ácárya or any person of responsible rank is not easily available, consultation or rather permission is to be obtained from any other ácárya, táttvika or any right-thinking member of the Marga. Every member should follow this instruction strictly.” (1)

Secondly, Baba warns us how money lending itself is a filthy profession. We should keep such greedy persons at arms-length.

Prout says, “People’s means of liveliood should not depend on the quarrel of individuals, as in the case of lawyers. Lawyers usually set one person against another and in this way they serve their personal interests. Similarly no one should be a trader in religion, because in the name of religion, many people are exploited. Nor should one earn one’s livelihood by dealing with dead bodies because such people want more and more people to die, so that they may thereby increase their income. People should also not earn their livelihood by lending money and taking interest. Such persons want to lend more and more money to gain more and more interest, and they do not want the borrowers to refund the capital. The scriptures stipulate that people should not accept food from such people, because their occupations are despicable.” (2)

Over the course of history – in so many lands – money lenders have exploited people to the bone and taken all they had. This has happened not only with the farmers of Bengal depicted below but in so many regions and eras, including in the present day US where countless innocent families are losing their homes because they are unable to pay the money / mortgage they owe.

“Another group of exploiters emerged who took advantage of the poverty of the farmers. These were the moneylenders, who lent money to the farmers at exorbitant rates of interest. The farmers were forced to take loans which they could never repay, so they mortgaged their lands. Eventually the moneylenders became the owners of the farmers’ lands, and the farmers were thus converted into landless labourers… moneylending by private capitalists should be banned and provisions must be made to pay loans in advance to the farmers through the banks. This will eradicate the exploitation by moneylenders and political cadres.” (3)

SUMMARY

We should all exercise extreme caution in our financial dealings. This era of extreme capitalism has devoured the lives of many – leaving them as desperate beggars unable to regain their footing. We must not let this happen to us or anyone we know. We should remain out of debt and keep our mind free for psycho-spiritual endeavors. That is the only way. Remember, one in debt becomes mentally bound by this financial burden as well.

Thus no one in Ananda Marga should make a living by lending money and no Ananda Margii should go into any sort of debt without first getting clear-cut permission from respected members of our Marga.

By following Baba’s guidelines, we can maintain our psychic equilibrium. Going into debt and digging means losing one’s mental peace and becoming a lifelong tool of those greedy capitalists.

MORE ANANDA MARGA GUIDELINES ON THIS TOPIC

WHO IS REALLY HAPPY

“The person who is able to get some vegetables to eat at least once a day, who incurs no debt and who has no need to leave home to earn a living, is really happy.” (4)

DO NOT BORROW TO HOST FEAST

“A marriage feast is completely optional and depends upon the financial capacity of the people concerned. Arranging the feast by taking a loan or incurring a debt is prohibited.” (5)

“For the celebration of this ceremony the arrangement of a social feast depends entirely on the desire and the financial position of the guardians concerned. Taking a loan or incurring a debt for this purpose is forbidden.” (6)

AGAINST YAMA AND NIYAMA

“It is often noticed that individuals incur debt because of their violating the principles of Yama and Niyama, especially due to their extravagance – and as a result, they approach the society for relief. In this connection I must point out that just as the society is duty-bound to give relief to individuals by combined efforts, so also it must have control over the conduct of individuals, over their practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama, and also over their expenditure. Not to consult anybody at the time of spending money but to ask for help from all when in debt, is not a good practice. Such a mentality cannot be encouraged.”
“To purchase, by incurring debt, serge where tweed will do, or gaberdine where serge will do, is surely against the principle of aparigraha. Similarly, people should take food which is nutritious but not rich. They have to give up the practice of feeding others with money taken on loan. That is why social control over the individual’s conduct and expenditure is indispensably necessary. Hence, all Ananda Margis, when they see other Margis acting against the principles of Yama and Niyama, must make them shun this habit either by sweet or harsh words or by dealing even more strictly. Thus they will have to make the society strong. Henceforth I direct every Ananda Margi to keep strict vigilance on other Ananda Margi to make them practise the principles of Yama and Niyama and also to accept calmly directions of other Margis in this connection.” (7)

“SOMETIMES PEOPLE MISUSE LOANS”

“You might have noticed that there are many countries which suffer from financial stringency, so they take loans from other countries. These loans are then used for ventures like constructing large dams on their rivers.”
“The science of economics teaches that the rolling of money should never be blocked by any sort of non-productive investment. Sometimes people misuse loans to construct an unnecessary building or a new showroom for their business, and thus prevent the possibility of reinvesting the capital and increasing their wealth. Economics teaches that loans taken for business investment should always be utilized for productive purposes, and should never be utilized in any unproductive venture. Foreign loans, for example, should never be invested in constructing large railway stations instead of railway lines.” (8)

INCURRING BIG DEBT TO MARRY DAUGHTER

“Formerly, even poor families had to sell their property to arrange the obsequies of their departed parents. Nowadays normally such things are rare. In such cases, kriyálopa took place under circumstantial pressure. But the custom of incurring heavy debt and selling one’s property to marry off one’s daughters still continues. Of course, when women become a little more socially-aware and men become a little more conscientious, and if women become economically self-reliant by bringing about a change in the economic structure, this custom of kanyádána = [forced social obligations to marry the daughters with dowry and feasts] will die out. And when the caste system will fully die out, the marriage system will develop in a healthy atmosphere. Many unhealthy customs will vanish from society.” (9)

IMPORTANT ACCOUNT

“In the factories and the rural production centres, the capitalist exploitation of India continues unabated, and the landholders, as the last vestiges of a feudalistic social order, perpetrate their exploitation in the villages. The capitalists and landlords carry on their exploitation hand-in-hand. The survival and social security of the landless labourers depends solely on the whims of the landlords, who can expel the labourers at any time on any pretext.”
“The exploitation by capitalists and landlords is accompanied by the exploitation by moneylenders. In the rural economy they lend money to the farmers and rural peasants, and are present in nearly every village and hamlet of West Bengal. Where the landlords are not physically present, their loyal agents are very active. The moneylenders have nothing to do with the land – they merely give loans to the poor farmers at high interest. Sometimes poor farmers cannot afford to procure farming implements, hence they are compelled to take loans from the moneylenders. If a moneylender gives one hundred rupees to a farmer, the farmer will have to repay two hundred rupees with interest, but the moneylender does not take back the loan in cash. Instead he realizes the amount in kind in the form of paddy, potatoes, etc., at cheap rates at the time of the harvest. The poor farmer, under the pressure of circumstances, has to accept this unwelcome system. He is a double loser – first, he has to pay more than double the amount of the original loan, and secondly, this amount is paid in kind at the rate of the harvest price of the crop, which is naturally very cheap. This whole process is conducted through agents, who also take their profit. Thus, the peasants and farmers of India are deprived of all their agricultural produce in four to five months of the year to repay the moneylenders, so for the remaining seven to eight months they have to approach the moneylenders again for fresh loans. At first they mortgage their implements, and then they are forced to part with their land. When the amount of the loans with compound interest increases to the point where the interest and the mortgage is equal to the price of their land, the moneylenders confiscate the land of the farmers. Consequently, the farmers get evicted from their land and move from village to village, living on the streets as beggars.”
“The direct representatives of the capitalist exploiters in the rural economy are the middlemen. They take advantage of the poverty and distress of the farmers and force them to depend on the capitalists for their production. For example, in West Bengal, Calcutta is the main centre of the capitalists, but of course they have subsidiary centres in various parts of the state. For instance, they have centres in Siliguri in North Bengal, Sainthia in Birbhum district, Purulia town in Purulia district and Midnapore town in Midnapore district. From these centres the capitalists, through their agents and middlemen, control the rural economy of West Bengal. The farmers depend on these middlemen not only to procure farm implements, but also to sell their agricultural produce. They also take advantage of the illiteracy of the simple uneducated farmers, collect their signatures or thumb prints for a larger loan, and pay them less than the market value of their produce.”
“Indian society is basically capitalistic, and the administrative system is a capitalist dominated democracy. It is the capitalists who control and direct the social, economic and political systems of India. The problem of how to remain in power is the most important issue for every political party that comes to power in an election. When political interest is of paramount importance, naturally the government will frame laws to safeguard the interests of the capitalist exploiters. The responsibility of upholding the interests of the exploiters in the name of law and order devolves onto the bureaucracy and police. The political leaders merely engage in internal bickering over their share of the ill-gotten gains.” (10)

“MONEY LENDING, CHARGING EXORBITANT INTEREST” = EXPLOITATION

“There are various types of exploitation in society. The form and character of exploitation changes as per changes in time, place and person. In every era of the social cycle, there are various kinds of exploitation. For example, in the economic sphere there is feudal exploitation, colonial exploitation, capitalist exploitation, imperialist exploitation and fascist exploitation. Exploitation may also manifest in such spheres as the physical, psychic, economic, political and cultural spheres. In the past the slave system was prevalent in the Greek and Roman Empires. The rulers sucked the blood of the vanquished to bolster their own interests. In psychic exploitation, the masses are misled with the help of pseudo-philosophies which encourage dogma and narrowmindedness. Democratic socialism and the theory of peaceful coexistence are examples of the hypocrite’s psychology. In economic exploitation, vested interests deprive people of their minimum requirements. Money lending, charging exorbitant interest rates, compelling poor farmers to sell their produce through distress sales, etc., are examples of economic exploitation. Regardless of the type of exploitation used by the exploiters, when society is moving towards revolution, the role of the exploiters is exposed. The exploiters are unable to disguise their exploitation any longer.” (11)

Namaskar,
Sastaunga Pranam to Baba,
Punya’tman

REFERENCES:
1. Guide to Human Conduct
2. Subhasita Samgraha – 11, The Supreme Desideratum of the Microcosms
3. Prout in a Nutshell – 19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
4. Shabda Cayanika – 1, Discourse 1
5. Caryacarya – 1, Marriage Ceremony
6. Caryacarya – 1, Infant’s Játakarma: The Naming of and First Feeding of Solid Food to an Infant
7. A Guide to Human Conduct
8. Prout in a Nutshell-12, Keep Money Rolling – Excerpt A
9. Shabda Cayanika – 11, Sati and Widowhood – Excerpt C
10. Prout in a Nutshell-19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
11. Prout in a Nutshell – 21, Nucelar Revolution

Note 1: Predatory Lending

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

“Predatory lending is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process. While there are no legal definitions in the United States for predatory lending, an audit report on predatory lending from the office of inspector general of the FDIC broadly defines predatory lending as “imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.” Though there are laws against many of the specific practices commonly identified as predatory, various federal agencies use the term as a catch-all term for many specific illegal activities in the loan industry. Predatory lending should not be confused with predatory mortgage servicing which is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of lenders and servicing agents during the loan or mortgage servicing process, post loan origination.”
“One less contentious definition of the term is “the practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against.” Other types of lending sometimes also referred to as predatory include payday loans, certain types of credit cards, mainly subprime, or other forms of (again, often subprime) consumer debt, and overdraft loans, when the interest rates are considered unreasonably high. Although predatory lenders are most likely to target the less educated, the poor, racial minorities, and the elderly, victims of predatory lending are represented across all demographics.”
“Predatory lending typically occurs on loans backed by some kind of collateral, such as a car or house, so that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can repossess or foreclose and profit by selling the repossessed or foreclosed property. Lenders may be accused of tricking a borrower into believing that an interest rate is lower than it actually is, or that the borrower’s ability to pay is greater than it actually is. The lender, or others as agents of the lender, may well profit from repossession or foreclosure upon the collateral.”

To Read More Visit: http://am-global-01.blogspot.com/2013/02/more-on-debt-from-wikipedia.html

The section below demarcated by asterisks is an entirely different topic,
completely unrelated to the above letter. It stands on its own as a point of interest.

****************************************
Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Baba says, “During the war between the Kaoravas and the Pan’davas, the kings of Bengal did not take part. They thought there is no benefit in it.” (Bam’la’r Itiha’s, Ananda Vacanamrtam-10 [Bangla’])

The advent of Mahasambhuti on this planet is a grand event. Of course He does everything according to His divine plan. Those whom He graces work according to His direction and follow the command of Mahasambhuti. Those blessed souls who have a good samskara and strong devotion – and ultimately His grace – work unitedly under His shelter. Whereas those whose samskara is not good or are in a different flow keep themselves away. That is what happened in the Mahabharat era. From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Sri Lanka, and each and every nook and corner of south and north India, all the states including Nepal joined in to cooperate with Lord Krsna’s divine plans and programs. While some like Duryodhana did not support. As Baba says in His above teaching, that time the leaders of Bengal did not support Mahasambhuti.

Something similar is going on these days also as some from Bengal are not supporting. They are disobeying Guru Baba: By their own whim they invented the dogma of mahaprayan and observe it annually. This was never given or approved by Baba.
****************************************

Read Full Post »

Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:21:56
Subject: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
From: Punya’tman Deva
To: am-global@earthlink.net

Baba

This entire email is composed of 3 parts:
(1) Prabhat Samgiita #3199;
(2) Posting: Story: Incurring Debt Ruins Mental Peace And Friendship
(3) Trailer Quote: Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Each section is demarcated by asterisks (***).

**** Here begins the Prabhat Samgiita ****

“Jhar’er ra’te a’ndha’rete kendechilum van-ma’jhe…” (P.S. 3199)

Purport:

O’ Parama Purusa, on that very dark night when a big thunderstorm was raging, I was crying alone in the deep forest. Nobody was there to talk to – to console me – to understand the tale of my suffering. Nobody was nearby. Certainly You were there along with me, but I could not feel Your presence.

In the height of that wild storm big branches were breaking off from the trees and crashing down on the ground. And all those tender buds and beautiful flowers were also completely blown off from the limbs of the trees; those buds and flowers were wailing loud lamentations; the trees were crying bitterly. That very dark, horrendous night was so disastrous.

O’ Parama Purusa, after this dark, menacing storm passes, and a soft, gentle breeze is in the air, will You please come in the madhuvan [1] of my mind, in my mental garden, with Your sweet, attractive form?…

NOTE FOR PRABHAT SAMGIITA #3199:

[1] Madhuvan: Literally meaning “sweet forest”; But it refers to that remote, isolated, garden in the mind that is filled with spring blossoms, sweet fragrance, aromatic flowers, and a gentle & fragrant breeze. It is that tranquil mental abode where nobody is present except the devotee and the Lord. And there the bhakta and Parama Purusa sit together ensconced in that very divinely intoxicated atmosphere and they share the loving feeling of their heart in a very close, intimate, and loving way.

== STORY: INCURRING DEBT RUINS MENTAL PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP ==

Namaskar,
This letter contains an in-depth Baba story with His critical and detailed guidelines about borrowing and lending money. This is very practical knowledge for us all to have as we may find ourselves in this position one day soon.

Do we lend money to those in need, or not?

Read below to get Baba’s pointed guideline and convey His unique message to others in your unit and community.

ANANDA MARGA: OPPOSITE OF CAPITALISM

The present era of materialism preaches “instant gratification”: Enjoy the world by buying happiness. Credit cards and loans are readily available to the common person. Indeed lending agencies and credit card companies are standing by with astronomical interest rates in order to rip off consumers. It is a deadly cycle; already so many have been victimised.

In Ananda Marga, our view is diametrically opposite. We interact with this world for our daily needs and aim our mind towards psychic and psycho-spiritual pursuits. We seek happiness and peace in those upper realms, not in the instant gratification of worldly indulgences. We know this, we practice this, but even then some in our Marga have gotten bound by the noose of capitalism.

But there is no winning in capitalism. Only those top capitalists derive some selfish benefit. The common public just borrows and spends money on material allurements hoping to find happiness; but ultimately they find themselves upset, frustrated and in debt. All the while, the impoverished masses around the globe suffer from an extreme dearth of resources, which have been gobbled up by those capitalists.

So we should not fall prey to the capitalist cycle of borrowing and spending. Please read this following Baba story about this very subject.

BABA STORY:

GUIDELINES ON FINANCIAL DEALING

Baba was against people borrowing or lending money. One day He said, “You must know that lending as well as borrowing is undesirable and detestable.”

I had known Baba’s attitude and so had always tried not to borrow money. But I still had a question, “Was it so bad to lend money to someone in distress?”

Baba answered with an illustration. “Do you know why it isn’t desirable to lend out money? Suppose someone has come to you to borrow some money. Maybe his need is genuine and his appeal is justified. As you listen to his story of distress, you are likely to want to be kind to him. Even if it is beyond your own means to lend a big amount, you become so upset thinking of his dire need that you take pity on him. Your thoughts get interrupted as the gentleman says, ‘You need not worry, dear brother. Please help me wriggle out of my crisis. If your generosity can take me out the present crisis, I’ll repay the loan within a month. Meanwhile I’m likely to get some money soon, so you may rest assured that you’ll get back your money on time.'”

Baba continued, “There may be no reason for you to disbelieve him. Suppose you are soft-hearted, so you collect the money somehow and hand it over to him. And he, too, feels glad and goes away.”

“That man may not have any intention of taking you for a ride, but it may turn out that he can’t get hold of the money as he thought. It is not so unusual. But you go on nursing the hope that he will repay you at the end of the month.”

“A month goes by. He hesitates to see you out of his shame because he has no money to repay to you. Suppose you go to him out of need for the money. In all likelihood he will be ill at ease and may take offense at your uncalled-for-presence. He will think, ‘How disgusting! He has come to me straightaway.’ Understandably, he will tell you a long excuse about why he has failed to repay you. You will give a patient hearing to him and coming back home begin to wait for the deadline as promised. There will be times when you come across him on the street. Immediately, he will think ‘O, my God! Here he is again, he will certainly remind me of my debt!'”

“Of course it’s only natural such thoughts come to mind, interspersed with some inaudible abusive remarks. Maybe you didn’t go to him for money, but what is that to him? Your presence will be unpleasant enough.”

“So whenever you meet him, he will think, ‘I am lost! He has come again to pressure me for that money.’ At the same time he will hurl some unsavory remarks at you, albeit silently. Contrary to what is in his mind, he will say, ‘Welcome, my dear brother. I am glad to meet you. I am so grateful to you,’ and so on and so forth.

“Undoubtedly the moment he sees you, he will heap uncharitable remarks on you, but when you will come within earshot, he will be all praises an parade his respect for you. It goes without saying that you will be put into a dilemma from not getting your money back even at the time of your own dire need. It may happen that your need will drive you to his house and shout from outside, ‘Hello, Mr.—-, are you there?’

“He will think, ‘Oh! he has come again for the money. What will I say to him?’

“Thinking this, he will not only silently curse you, but also try his best to avoid an encounter with you. Instead of coming outside, he will tell his little son to tell you that his father is out. Accordingly, the boy will run to you to inform you that his father is not in.

“Looking askance at him, you will say, ‘Go inside and find out for certain whether or not your father is there.’ The simple-minded child will reply, ‘Why, I don’t need to check because father has himself said that he is out.’ In this way your relationship with that friend will sour and you don’t know where it will end.”

“Well, he certainly would have been offended that first day if you had not lent him money. Not only that, he would possibly have been shocked and have silently heaped some abusive remarks. Nevertheless, the unpleasant situation would not have spilt over onto the rest of your life. If you lend money, you will inevitably invite filthy remarks galore. That is why a person should think many times before lending to others.”

I asked, “Sometimes a really good man may fall into trouble and sincerely need help. In that case, what is to be done?”

Baba said, “Instead of lending him money, you should help him according to your capacity. Suppose he is asking for five thousand rupees. Tell him your attitude about lending money and let him know your financial condition. Then help him with an amount that’s within your means. It may not be as much as he demands, but he will get consolation that you tried to share his difficulties.” (“My Days with Baba”, Sarveshvarananda)

The above story is quite clear on the point of borrowing and lending. According to Baba, we should not borrow money nor should we lend it. If anyone truly needs financial help, then we should give them money according to our capacity, and not expect anything in return.

BABA’S FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS

Here are some of His further teachings about this very critical topic.

First Baba warns us that we should seek counsel and permission before (a) spending money on superfluous items and (b) before taking any loan.

Ananda Marga Philosophy says, “I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their ácárya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender. Where one’s own ácárya or any person of responsible rank is not easily available, consultation or rather permission is to be obtained from any other ácárya, táttvika or any right-thinking member of the Marga. Every member should follow this instruction strictly.” (1)

Secondly, Baba warns us how money lending itself is a filthy profession. We should keep such greedy persons at arms-length.

Prout says, “People’s means of liveliood should not depend on the quarrel of individuals, as in the case of lawyers. Lawyers usually set one person against another and in this way they serve their personal interests. Similarly no one should be a trader in religion, because in the name of religion, many people are exploited. Nor should one earn one’s livelihood by dealing with dead bodies because such people want more and more people to die, so that they may thereby increase their income. People should also not earn their livelihood by lending money and taking interest. Such persons want to lend more and more money to gain more and more interest, and they do not want the borrowers to refund the capital. The scriptures stipulate that people should not accept food from such people, because their occupations are despicable.” (2)

Over the course of history – in so many lands – money lenders have exploited people to the bone and taken all they had. This has happened not only with the farmers of Bengal depicted below but in so many regions and eras, including in the present day US where countless innocent families are losing their homes because they are unable to pay the money / mortgage they owe.

“Another group of exploiters emerged who took advantage of the poverty of the farmers. These were the moneylenders, who lent money to the farmers at exorbitant rates of interest. The farmers were forced to take loans which they could never repay, so they mortgaged their lands. Eventually the moneylenders became the owners of the farmers’ lands, and the farmers were thus converted into landless labourers… moneylending by private capitalists should be banned and provisions must be made to pay loans in advance to the farmers through the banks. This will eradicate the exploitation by moneylenders and political cadres.” (3)

SUMMARY

We should all exercise extreme caution in our financial dealings. This era of extreme capitalism has devoured the lives of many – leaving them as desperate beggars unable to regain their footing. We must not let this happen to us or anyone we know. We should remain out of debt and keep our mind free for psycho-spiritual endeavors. That is the only way. Remember, one in debt becomes mentally bound by this financial burden as well.

Thus no one in Ananda Marga should make a living by lending money and no Ananda Margii should go into any sort of debt without first getting clear-cut permission from respected members of our Marga.

By following Baba’s guidelines, we can maintain our psychic equilibrium. Going into debt and digging means losing one’s mental peace and becoming a lifelong tool of those greedy capitalists.

MORE ANANDA MARGA GUIDELINES ON THIS TOPIC

WHO IS REALLY HAPPY

“The person who is able to get some vegetables to eat at least once a day, who incurs no debt and who has no need to leave home to earn a living, is really happy.” (4)

DO NOT BORROW TO HOST FEAST

“A marriage feast is completely optional and depends upon the financial capacity of the people concerned. Arranging the feast by taking a loan or incurring a debt is prohibited.” (5)

“For the celebration of this ceremony the arrangement of a social feast depends entirely on the desire and the financial position of the guardians concerned. Taking a loan or incurring a debt for this purpose is forbidden.” (6)

AGAINST YAMA AND NIYAMA

“It is often noticed that individuals incur debt because of their violating the principles of Yama and Niyama, especially due to their extravagance – and as a result, they approach the society for relief. In this connection I must point out that just as the society is duty-bound to give relief to individuals by combined efforts, so also it must have control over the conduct of individuals, over their practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama, and also over their expenditure. Not to consult anybody at the time of spending money but to ask for help from all when in debt, is not a good practice. Such a mentality cannot be encouraged.”
“To purchase, by incurring debt, serge where tweed will do, or gaberdine where serge will do, is surely against the principle of aparigraha. Similarly, people should take food which is nutritious but not rich. They have to give up the practice of feeding others with money taken on loan. That is why social control over the individual’s conduct and expenditure is indispensably necessary. Hence, all Ananda Margis, when they see other Margis acting against the principles of Yama and Niyama, must make them shun this habit either by sweet or harsh words or by dealing even more strictly. Thus they will have to make the society strong. Henceforth I direct every Ananda Margi to keep strict vigilance on other Ananda Margi to make them practise the principles of Yama and Niyama and also to accept calmly directions of other Margis in this connection.” (7)

“SOMETIMES PEOPLE MISUSE LOANS”

“You might have noticed that there are many countries which suffer from financial stringency, so they take loans from other countries. These loans are then used for ventures like constructing large dams on their rivers.”
“The science of economics teaches that the rolling of money should never be blocked by any sort of non-productive investment. Sometimes people misuse loans to construct an unnecessary building or a new showroom for their business, and thus prevent the possibility of reinvesting the capital and increasing their wealth. Economics teaches that loans taken for business investment should always be utilized for productive purposes, and should never be utilized in any unproductive venture. Foreign loans, for example, should never be invested in constructing large railway stations instead of railway lines.” (8)

INCURRING BIG DEBT TO MARRY DAUGHTER

“Formerly, even poor families had to sell their property to arrange the obsequies of their departed parents. Nowadays normally such things are rare. In such cases, kriyálopa took place under circumstantial pressure. But the custom of incurring heavy debt and selling one’s property to marry off one’s daughters still continues. Of course, when women become a little more socially-aware and men become a little more conscientious, and if women become economically self-reliant by bringing about a change in the economic structure, this custom of kanyádána = [forced social obligations to marry the daughters with dowry and feasts] will die out. And when the caste system will fully die out, the marriage system will develop in a healthy atmosphere. Many unhealthy customs will vanish from society.” (9)

IMPORTANT ACCOUNT

“In the factories and the rural production centres, the capitalist exploitation of India continues unabated, and the landholders, as the last vestiges of a feudalistic social order, perpetrate their exploitation in the villages. The capitalists and landlords carry on their exploitation hand-in-hand. The survival and social security of the landless labourers depends solely on the whims of the landlords, who can expel the labourers at any time on any pretext.”
“The exploitation by capitalists and landlords is accompanied by the exploitation by moneylenders. In the rural economy they lend money to the farmers and rural peasants, and are present in nearly every village and hamlet of West Bengal. Where the landlords are not physically present, their loyal agents are very active. The moneylenders have nothing to do with the land – they merely give loans to the poor farmers at high interest. Sometimes poor farmers cannot afford to procure farming implements, hence they are compelled to take loans from the moneylenders. If a moneylender gives one hundred rupees to a farmer, the farmer will have to repay two hundred rupees with interest, but the moneylender does not take back the loan in cash. Instead he realizes the amount in kind in the form of paddy, potatoes, etc., at cheap rates at the time of the harvest. The poor farmer, under the pressure of circumstances, has to accept this unwelcome system. He is a double loser – first, he has to pay more than double the amount of the original loan, and secondly, this amount is paid in kind at the rate of the harvest price of the crop, which is naturally very cheap. This whole process is conducted through agents, who also take their profit. Thus, the peasants and farmers of India are deprived of all their agricultural produce in four to five months of the year to repay the moneylenders, so for the remaining seven to eight months they have to approach the moneylenders again for fresh loans. At first they mortgage their implements, and then they are forced to part with their land. When the amount of the loans with compound interest increases to the point where the interest and the mortgage is equal to the price of their land, the moneylenders confiscate the land of the farmers. Consequently, the farmers get evicted from their land and move from village to village, living on the streets as beggars.”
“The direct representatives of the capitalist exploiters in the rural economy are the middlemen. They take advantage of the poverty and distress of the farmers and force them to depend on the capitalists for their production. For example, in West Bengal, Calcutta is the main centre of the capitalists, but of course they have subsidiary centres in various parts of the state. For instance, they have centres in Siliguri in North Bengal, Sainthia in Birbhum district, Purulia town in Purulia district and Midnapore town in Midnapore district. From these centres the capitalists, through their agents and middlemen, control the rural economy of West Bengal. The farmers depend on these middlemen not only to procure farm implements, but also to sell their agricultural produce. They also take advantage of the illiteracy of the simple uneducated farmers, collect their signatures or thumb prints for a larger loan, and pay them less than the market value of their produce.”
“Indian society is basically capitalistic, and the administrative system is a capitalist dominated democracy. It is the capitalists who control and direct the social, economic and political systems of India. The problem of how to remain in power is the most important issue for every political party that comes to power in an election. When political interest is of paramount importance, naturally the government will frame laws to safeguard the interests of the capitalist exploiters. The responsibility of upholding the interests of the exploiters in the name of law and order devolves onto the bureaucracy and police. The political leaders merely engage in internal bickering over their share of the ill-gotten gains.” (10)

“MONEY LENDING, CHARGING EXORBITANT INTEREST” = EXPLOITATION

“There are various types of exploitation in society. The form and character of exploitation changes as per changes in time, place and person. In every era of the social cycle, there are various kinds of exploitation. For example, in the economic sphere there is feudal exploitation, colonial exploitation, capitalist exploitation, imperialist exploitation and fascist exploitation. Exploitation may also manifest in such spheres as the physical, psychic, economic, political and cultural spheres. In the past the slave system was prevalent in the Greek and Roman Empires. The rulers sucked the blood of the vanquished to bolster their own interests. In psychic exploitation, the masses are misled with the help of pseudo-philosophies which encourage dogma and narrowmindedness. Democratic socialism and the theory of peaceful coexistence are examples of the hypocrite’s psychology. In economic exploitation, vested interests deprive people of their minimum requirements. Money lending, charging exorbitant interest rates, compelling poor farmers to sell their produce through distress sales, etc., are examples of economic exploitation. Regardless of the type of exploitation used by the exploiters, when society is moving towards revolution, the role of the exploiters is exposed. The exploiters are unable to disguise their exploitation any longer.” (11)

Namaskar,
Sastaunga Pranam to Baba,
Punya’tman

REFERENCES:
1. Guide to Human Conduct
2. Subhasita Samgraha – 11, The Supreme Desideratum of the Microcosms
3. Prout in a Nutshell – 19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
4. Shabda Cayanika – 1, Discourse 1
5. Caryacarya – 1, Marriage Ceremony
6. Caryacarya – 1, Infant’s Játakarma: The Naming of and First Feeding of Solid Food to an Infant
7. A Guide to Human Conduct
8. Prout in a Nutshell-12, Keep Money Rolling – Excerpt A
9. Shabda Cayanika – 11, Sati and Widowhood – Excerpt C
10. Prout in a Nutshell-19, Economic Exploitation of Bengal
11. Prout in a Nutshell – 21, Nucelar Revolution

Note 1: Predatory Lending

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

“Predatory lending is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process. While there are no legal definitions in the United States for predatory lending, an audit report on predatory lending from the office of inspector general of the FDIC broadly defines predatory lending as “imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.” Though there are laws against many of the specific practices commonly identified as predatory, various federal agencies use the term as a catch-all term for many specific illegal activities in the loan industry. Predatory lending should not be confused with predatory mortgage servicing which is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of lenders and servicing agents during the loan or mortgage servicing process, post loan origination.”
“One less contentious definition of the term is “the practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against.” Other types of lending sometimes also referred to as predatory include payday loans, certain types of credit cards, mainly subprime, or other forms of (again, often subprime) consumer debt, and overdraft loans, when the interest rates are considered unreasonably high. Although predatory lenders are most likely to target the less educated, the poor, racial minorities, and the elderly, victims of predatory lending are represented across all demographics.”
“Predatory lending typically occurs on loans backed by some kind of collateral, such as a car or house, so that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can repossess or foreclose and profit by selling the repossessed or foreclosed property. Lenders may be accused of tricking a borrower into believing that an interest rate is lower than it actually is, or that the borrower’s ability to pay is greater than it actually is. The lender, or others as agents of the lender, may well profit from repossession or foreclosure upon the collateral.”

To Read More Visit: http://am-global-01.blogspot.com/2013/02/more-on-debt-from-wikipedia.html

The section below demarcated by asterisks is an entirely different topic,
completely unrelated to the above letter. It stands on its own as a point of interest.

****************************************
Bengalis and Mahasambhuti

Baba says, “During the war between the Kaoravas and the Pan’davas, the kings of Bengal did not take part. They thought there is no benefit in it.” (Bam’la’r Itiha’s, Ananda Vacanamrtam-10 [Bangla’])

The advent of Mahasambhuti on this planet is a grand event. Of course He does everything according to His divine plan. Those whom He graces work according to His direction and follow the command of Mahasambhuti. Those blessed souls who have a good samskara and strong devotion – and ultimately His grace – work unitedly under His shelter. Whereas those whose samskara is not good or are in a different flow keep themselves away. That is what happened in the Mahabharat era. From Afghanistan and Pakistan to Sri Lanka, and each and every nook and corner of south and north India, all the states including Nepal joined in to cooperate with Lord Krsna’s divine plans and programs. While some like Duryodhana did not support. As Baba says in His above teaching, that time the leaders of Bengal did not support Mahasambhuti.

Something similar is going on these days also as some from Bengal are not supporting. They are disobeying Guru Baba: By their own whim they invented the dogma of mahaprayan and observe it annually. This was never given or approved by Baba.
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Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2012 21:54:33 -0000
To: am-global@earthlink.net
From: “Nataraj Deva” N_deva.deva@Millenia.net…>”
Subject: Possible Scam by GS

Baba

== POSSIBLE SCAM BY GS ==

Namaskar,

I have heard this news which I am writing below. If any reader has more information, please write.

Current GS Dada (Ranchi), Ac. Citsvarupananda Avt, recently collected a huge sum of money (25 – 30 lakhs of rupees) from various Wts and margiis as a loan.

GS Dada promised to return back the money many-fold to lenders. But now he is not willing to return any of the money back to margiis and WTs.

Rather, GS Dada is abusing and scolding those workers and margiis who ask for their money back.

Dada Citsvarupananda is trying to convince everyone that he lost that huge sum of money, i.e. 25 – 30 lakhs. Dadaji’s claim is that he already lost all the money which he borrowed; all that loan money is gone.

So Citsvarupanandji is telling everyone that he cannot return the money to them; all those margiis and workers who lent him money have now lost their money. Dadaji says: Margiis & workers should console thus themselves that they donated to the organization. That is what Dadaji is telling everyone. He is also requesting everyone not to remind him of this matter because he cannot return the money since he lost it all.

Hearing this reply from Dada Citsvarupanandaji, WTs and margiis are frustrated and furious.

If any margii has come to know more about this incident please write.

Namaskar,
Nataraj

Note: HOW MUCH IS A LAKH

Most probably know that one lakh is equal to 100,000. So 25 – 30 lakhs is the equivalent of 2.5 – 3 million rupees. Thus GS Dada borrowed nearly 3 million rupees from margiis and workers; and now he is claiming that he lost all that money and people cannot get their money back.

PRABHAT SAMGIITA

“Tumi eso pra’n’e o pradiipe…” (PS no. 2535)

Purport:

Baba, please come in my heart, in the deep core of my mind. You are my everything– You are my dhya’na, You are my jinana, You are my Ista. You are most sacred, holy, and sweetness Personified. Baba, You are the controller of my entire existence. Keeping Your love and divine guidance in my heart I am moving on path which You have graciously shown me. By Your grace I go on remembering Your name constantly. That is my strength of forward movement. Baba, please grace me by coming in my heart…

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Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2011 19:39:47 -0000
To: AM-GLOBAL
From: J.Deva
Subject: How You Can Save Money

Baba

== HOW YOU CAN SAVE MONEY ==

Namaskar,
In this day and age, people waste a lot of time trying to earn more and more money – laboring anywhere from 8 – 10 hours daily, or even 18 hours in a single day.

Plus most people are totally worried about money – so they think about earning money even when they are not working. They eat, sleep, and dream about it.

In this way their entire psyche and days are consumed.

The general psychology is to earn more and spend more. That becomes their entire life – that is the unfortunate truth. The tragedy is that this human life is about so much more than just collecting money. Human life is far larger than this.

To resolve this critical issue, Lord Shrii Shrii Anandamurtiji has given a beautiful way of living that is very easy for everyone to do. And by following His guidelines, you are sure to save huge amounts of money.

So if you are suffering from any sort of financial worry or fiscal need, then read this following letter.

THIS LETTER IS FOR EVERYONE

The guidelines in this letter are for everyone. If you are already an Ananda Margii or a sympathizer of the Marga, you will readily see how much you are saving by following AM practices. Plus you may get some new tips as well.

And if you are not yet an Ananda Margii, then by reading the below you will get a clear-cut vision how following our AM way of life will benefit you financially.

Hence this letter is for absolutely anyone and everyone who wishes to save money and live a financially secure life.

NO INTOXICANTS (Part 1)

In Ananda Marga, as we all know, or as new people will soon learn, we do not use any intoxicants – none. This is the first great way of saving money by leading life as an Ananda Margii.

Cigarettes, beer, wine, and hard alcohol are all getting taxed verily heavily by the city, state, provincial and federal government. So the prices of these substances is skyrocketing.

Indeed recently the tax on cigarettes in NY state went up $1.60 to a total of $4.35 on taxes alone, so a pack of cigarettes now costs $9.20 (on average) in NY, and more than that in New York City. Smoking a pack a day over the course of a year would add up to more than $3,650.00 at a minimum. And this type of increase is happening everywhere. The same thing is going on with regards to alcohol.

Since in Ananda Marga we have no interest in or use for cigarettes, or any of these other legal intoxicants like alcohol etc, we are saving a huge amount of money. Just ask any ex-smoker or ex-drinker and they will most assuredly tell you about all the money they are saving by quitting their dirty habit.

NO INTOXICANTS (Part 2)

Then of course there are the illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroine etc. These all cost a huge amount of money – it is big business – but for Ananda Margiis this is a non-issue entirely. Hence big $aving$.

Included in this topic are other health costs and legal fees. If one is using intoxicants of any kind they will certainly have to spend more money on doctors fees, health concerns, insurance premiums, hospital care and other medications etc, since those intoxicants will ruin their health.

In addition, drinking and driving is illegal so if one gets caught by the police they will incur big legal fees in order to clear their name and stay out of jail, if possible. Same is the case if they are caught using illegal drugs. Not only are the drugs expensive and addicting, but one have to spend huge money on attorney fees to clear their name in a
court of law.

So from multiple angles, our clean way of living that is free of any and all intoxicants saves us a lot of money. That is the first great savings for being an Ananda Margii.

FOOD

Our style of eating, i.e. our vegetarian diet, is also a big money saver. In most places, fresh fruit and vegetables are far less costly than meat – both on our wallet and our health. Our daily or weekly shopping is less expensive plus we will not face all the health issues that hinders meat-eaters. So we will not have to pay those big medical bills either.

Various studied show how eating home-prepared vegetarian meals foods is cheaper (and healthier!) than a meat-based diet. Also always look into buying foods in bulk – one can save huge money this way.

There is much more involved in this point of food, but I think most of us are aware about them. And already there is a lot of information out there about the extreme financial and health costs of a meat-based diet.

The only further point that is worth raising on the point of food is that as Ananda Margiis we do not dine in restaurants or hotels. Of course the reason we do not do this is because those places are not sentient: The dishes themselves are dirty, the ingredients are unknown, and the cooks are non-sadhakas. So that is why we do not dine in such establishments. But, on the top, eating in these restaurants is an expensive habit. By not frequenting such restaurants we save a lot of money. What average people spend on a single meal in a restaurant is enough funds for wise, vegetarian shoppers to eat for 1 or 2 weeks at home.

GAMBLING

So much of the world indulges in gambling – either in casinos, or on-line, or at sporting events, or in lotteries, etc. The tragedy with gambling is the the “house” always wins. People waste their time and hard-earned money and come home empty handed. Not only do they lose their money, but they lose their mental balance as well as gambling is
an addition. People go so far as to sell their most valued possessions in order to support their gambling habit. Indeed, even the great King Yudhisthira lost his entire wealth and property in a game of dice. Such are the ill effects of gaming and gambling.

Our Ananda Marga does not allow for this at all.

Baba says, “The habit of making wagers is extremely undesirable. You must avoid lotteries and gambling.” (CC-2, Society, pt#38)

When there is no gambling then there is no question of losing money or wasting away one’s time. This is an absolute money-saver.

LOANS

In our present era, this is a big, big point. So many people around the world, especially in the materialistic western nations, make it a hobby or even career in life to spend money which they do not have.

People incur debt by taking big loans to pay for things that they cannot afford: clothes, fancy meals, i-Phones, sports cars, gadgets, and so much more. By this way they lose money in two ways: Firstly by purchasing a costly item which they do not really need; secondly by having to pay the interest on the loan for that item. Hence it is a double loss.

Yet all “modern economies” around the globe are based on this faulty precept. Not only do individuals and families indulge in this, but entire cities, counties, states and even whole nations embark on this defective manner of taking loans to pay for things they cannot afford.

From beginning to end this is a totally costly and mentally taxing affair. People stay awake at night wondering and worrying about how they are going to pay back their loan. And countries even go totally bankrupt – that we are seeing today.

In Ananda Marga, Baba is entirely against the idea of taking a loan or incurring debt for superfluous items.

Baba says, “To purchase, by incurring debt, serge where tweed will do, or gaberdine where serge will do, is surely against the principle of aparigraha.” (GHC)

Indeed the entire spirit of aparigraha is to live in a simple manner, within one’s means. This is only possible if oe can to cultivate the requisite santosa (mental ease), such that a person will not senselessly run after material goods. As Baba points out in many discourses, the practices of aparigraha and santosa are closely linked.

Baba says, “Human desire knows no end. Millionaires want to become multimillionaires, because they are not satisfied with their million. Ask the millionaires if they are happy with their money. They will say, “Where is the money? I am somehow pulling on.” This answer indicates their ignorance of aparigraha. But such feelings have another adverse effect on body and mind.”

Here Baba continues His discourse.

Baba says, “Out of excessive fondness for physical or mental pleasures people become mad to earn money and amass wealth. As money becomes the be-all and end-all of life, the mind gets crudified. Constant hankering after money results in negligence of one’s health, and this makes the body unfit. Therefore, santos’a sa’dhana’ lies in being contented with the earnings of normal labour, without any undue pressure on the body and mind. To remain contented, one has to make a special type of mental effort to keep aloof from external allurements.” (GHC)

Hence by following yama and niyama and doing sadhana, one can easily become adept at the points of aparigraha and santosa. And this will lead to saving so much money – huge amounts.

Because without aparigraha and santosa, one will become a prisoner to the consumer mentality of “buy this” & “buy that” which is so infested within capitalism.

Hence this topic of loans in highly linked without our mental state and yama and niyama. When the mind is balanced one will steer clear of all kinds of unneeded purchases as well as unnecessary loans, thereby saving tremendous amounts of money.

OTHER WAYS OF SAVING MONEY

BY FOLLOWING OUR AM WAY OF LIFE

Here is a brief list of other ways any sadhaka of the Marga will certainly save money. Again, anyone can follow this approach and get the financial benefits. I invite others to comment and elaborate on these below points.

– Fasting: By fasting 2 or 4 times monthly, we save 1 – 2 months worth of food over the course of the entire year. Plus fasting purifies the body and keeps us disease-free, and away from expensive medical visits.

– Marriage: In some traditions huge money or dowries are paid to get one’s children married. We do not subscribe to such dogmas. Our social ceremonies are free.

– Tiirtha / Pilgrimage: Traveling to so-called holy lands like Mecca, Jerusalem or Varanasi each year is an expensive proposition. In AM, we do not have such destinations – the only tiirtha in AM is Guru cakra.

– Birth & Death: Here again these entail social ceremonies that do not cost any money in AM, whereas in the dogmatic churches and temples, moderate to large sums of money need to be paid. Plus without a large payment, one will not even find a spot in the cemetery or get a good casket, whereas in AM the body is burned at no expense to the deceased or their family.

– Hobbies: In AM, our only hobby is social service and helping others whereas in the so-called first-world nations average citizens spend enormous amounts of money on hobbies and recreational activities. Thus we save a lot in this department as well.

– Psychic Disease: Sadhana keeps the mind balanced and without sadhana people encounter so many mental problems: frustration, depression, angst, phobias etc. In that case they have to spend huge money on psychiatrists and psychologists.

– Inferiority Complex: Anyone with an inferiority is bound to be exploited. Sadhana will free the mind from such complexes.

– Religious Taxes: In most of the religions, the tax for the average member is 10% or so of their total income. In Ananda Marga it is only 2%. Thus we save 8%.

And there are a multitude of other ways in which we save money. Everyone should write in with their experience of how they save money by being an Ananda Margii

BABA’S BLESSING

By Baba’s grace He has given us the perfect system for living in this era of economic struggle and strife. By following His life principles we are bound to save large sums of money and feel relaxed about our financial picture.

So if anyone is suffering from economic turmoil, just become an Ananda Margii or redouble one’s efforts in following 16 Pts. Then one will be worry-free and unencumbered by economic problems.

Let us remember that human life is short and it is meant for sadhana, not getting caught up in financial concerns.

Baba says, “One should not forget that human life is short. From the moment of birth one slowly and steadily advances towards death with every passing second. This short period of time from birth to death is human life. Human beings have come from the world of invisibility and at the end of this short span of time will return to the world of invisibility. Those people can be called intelligent who utilize every moment of their short life engaged in spiritual practice.” (APH-4)

Namaskar,
Jagatmitra

Note 1: BABA’S SPECIAL ORDER ABOUT LOANS

Here furthermore is another of Baba’s special guideline about taking loans.

Baba says, “I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their a’ca’rya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender.” (GHC)

Note 2: GOOD FOR ONE AND ALL

In this materialistic era, the mass of people weigh most of their decisions on money. People want to know what is most economical. This plays into our favour as this entire letter aims to show the innumerable ways how living life as an Ananda Margii is the best bank for your buck. So this is a good pracara strategy: Save money by becoming an Ananda Margii.

In addition, challenging or severe economic times are mounting, so as Ananda Margiis we need not worry so much since in a multitude of ways our way of life is the most economical. It is a better deal fiscally.

By the above listing of points, it is easy to see how and why our AM ways of life is great in all realms of life, including financially.

PRABHAT SAMGIITA

“Ajuta chande esechile tumi nacite nacite ha’site ha’site…” (PS #146)

Purport:

O’ Baba, with the resonance of melody and in the manana [1] of my heart, and the jingling of the ankle bell [2], You came in countless rhythms, dancing and smiling, smiling and dancing.

You came with the resonance of melody; You came with the manana of my heart, You came with the jingling of the angel bell. O’ Lord you came, You came with the resonance of melody, O’ Lord You came.

You came with the manana of my heart, O’ Lord. You came with the jingling of the ankle bell. O’ Lord, with the resonance of melody, and in the manana of my heart, O’ Lord You came. In the manana of my heart, and the jingling of the ankle bell, O’ Lord You came.

If I blossom as a flower on the branch, then You become fragrance and fill me always. If I become the distant sky, then You become blue and fill me always. [3] O’ Lord, You fill me always. As a blue color You always envelop me.

If I become the distant sky, then You become blue and fill me always. O’ Lord, You fill me always. You surround me from all the directions, You came in countless rhythms, dancing and smiling, smiling and dancing.

O’ Baba, I am never alone. You are always with me, no matter what. You are ever gracious, I surrender at Your lotus feet…

NOTES FOR PRABHAT SAMGIITA #146:

[1] Manana: The contemplation or ideation of the Supreme Entity by repeating the Lord’s name in the mind. This special process Baba has described in-depthly in His various teachings of AM devotional and spiritual life.

[2] Jingling of the Ankle Bell: This song carries great symbolic and is the poetic expression of what the sadhaka feels in dhyana. So the “ankle bell” is not a physical bell attached to one’s ankle nor does it refer to some type of bell that Parama Purusa is wearing around His foot. Rather when the sadhaka realises and feels the proximity of Parama Purusa in deep dhyana, then one hears this ankle bell sound within. That is the meaning of this metaphor in the song. One hears this ankle bell sound when in His close proximity. The phrase – Parama Purusa has come with His ankle bell – is just a poetic expression that holds greater symbolic meaning.

[3] Two More Metaphors: The metaphor of the sky and its blue color indicates how they are inseparable. The sky and blueness cannot be made distinct from one another. The two are inextricably inter-linked. In the same way the devotee and Parama Purusa are inseparable. Similarly, the flower cannot be separated from its fragrance; where there is a the flower there is fragrance and where there is flower fragrance there is the flower. The two are completely part and parcel of each other. Here again this refers to the inherent link between the Lord and the bhakta. Parama Purusa is always with the devotee – one cannot remain separate from the other. Parama Purusa comes with His omnkara dhvani (eternal sound) the bhakta gets attracted and merges in Him.

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Date: 30 Jun 2011 22:11:30 -0400
From: Donald_G
To: am-global@earthlink.net
Subject: Chanakya & Pitiful Situation of USA

BABA

“Ma’nus’ yeno ma’nus’er tare sab kichu kare ya’y…” (P.S. 2192)

Purport:

Great persons– proper human beings– do everything in their life for
the upliftment of other human beings. In their mind they also never forget
that animals, birds, and plants also belong in their vast family. For such
sadhakas, no one is alien because in their heart they understand
that each and every being wants to survive & live a happy life.
Why do human beings remain crying, feeling isolated in their own
suffering after losing their path in the Cimmerian darkness. Our love and
care will bring everyone close to us; nobody will be left behind– crying
and suffering in frustration. On this auspicious crimson occasion we will
save everyone and provide them shelter from the burning flame of
illiteracy, starvation, and all kinds of troubles. Elevated human beings
come on this earth to serve everyone, all humanity plus the birds,
animals, plants, flora and fauna, & animate and inanimate objects– the
entire creation…

== CHANAKYA AND PITIFUL SITUATION OF USA ==

Namaskar,
Baba guides us that 2300 years ago a minister clearly warned his kingdom
of the ills of capitalism and gave the solution.

Now, in this modern era, the so-called greatest power on earth suffers
terribly from those very ills pointed out 2300 years ago.

The name of that sagacious minister was Chanakya of the Maurya dynasty.
The name of the county suffering today is the United States of America.

So the very seeds of destruction that now severely threaten to ruin the
seemingly once indomitable force of the USA were well understood by the
keen philosopher-sage Chanakya more then two thousand years ago.

In His Prout discourses, Baba highlights the accuracy and importance of
what Chanakya said, and side by side Baba has given us all the practical
answers for solving the woes of capitalism by establishing the era of
Prout.

BABA’S REIVEW OF CHANAKYA NITI

The famed pundit Chanakya put forth his views on political ethics &
economy in his nitishastra. He warned how the greed of capitalism will
strangle society and bring any kingdom to its knees.

Baba says, “Chanakya said that a business person who becomes extremely
rich is harmful to the state. If a king finds that somebody has become
extremely wealthy, he should reduce the person’s wealth and property by
imposing direct and indirect taxes on them. If he does not do this, the
vaeshyas may destroy the structure of the government unless they can
make it the tool of their exploitation.” (HS-1)

Chanakya predicted that if the greedy capitalists remain unchecked then
they will take over the political arena in order to exploit the masses
and hoard more wealth.

And is that not exactly what we see happening today in the USA. The top
capitalist forces have lobbied for and put into legislation all they
need in order to accumulate huge piles of money, thereby strangling the
remaining 99.9% of society.

The common people in the US cannot get health care, unemployment is
rising, poverty is skyrocketing, housing is in crisis, education is
unaffordable – indeed each and every fundamental aspect of society is
spiraling out of the control. The common people can no longer survive,
yet still the capitalists are strategizing how to get even more money.
Such is the state of affairs in the US and that is the very hell that
Chanakya warned about ,long ago.

Chanakya’s initial solution was to tax the wealthy. Yet we see that the
top vaeshyas in the USA have millions of tax loopholes, thus they are
able to evade taxes through fancy paperwork etc.

But that was not the only solution which Chanakya offered. See here
below what he says must be done if the capitalists escape the tax
structure.

Baba says, “Chanakya also said that if the imposition of taxes fails to
stop or control extremely wealthy vaeshyas, the king should poison them
to death through a secret agent.” (HS-1)

So Chanakya mandated that those capitalists should be secretly killed if
they can’t be stopped and continue to exercise their unbridled greed.

Before we pass judgment on Chanakya’s words, let us see what Baba has
said in the very next sentence of His discourse.

Baba says, “These are indeed strong recommendations, but in that age of
social darkness there was no alternative.” (HS-1)

Hence, Baba agrees that in certain circumstances such extreme action is
needed against those rapacious capitalists. Of course, in the present
age, we know that Baba has given Prout – that is our weapon for
combating capitalism. Our approach is not to kill capitalists per but
rather root out the disease of capitalism.

Please reference:
http://am-global-01.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-to-deal-with-capitalists.html

Fortunately back in the day, 2300 years ago, the capitalists heeded
Chanaky’s guidelines and understood they were to give back to the people
– for the cause of social welfare.

Baba says, “[During the time of Chanakya] Vaeshyas received the good
advice that their responsibility was to earn money and undertake
charity, not to hoard wealth.” (HS-1)

Thus, in those days of old those capitalists learned their lesson and
averted disaster. However, such is not the case today.

Baba says, “The vaeshyas of other times and other countries were unable
to fulfil the duties connected with their nature. Because the ignorant
people of ancient times were more religious, the vaeshyas used to
undertake a little charity in the hope of deriving some benefit in their
next life. But today in this age of materialism, vaeshyas are not the
slightest bit interested in undertaking charitable work in this life in
the hope of gaining some benefit in their next life.” (HS-1)

HORRORS OF CAPITALISM IN THE USA

As Baba points out above, today’s vaeshyas have no conscience – neither
in the social nor religious spheres. Due to their purely materialistic
outlook, they only focus on gaining more and more wealth and do not show
the least bit concern about redeeming themselves for the future.

That is why complete hell is mounting in the USA. None should think that
America is the land of glory and freedom.

With each and every passing day, the common people become more and more
shackled by ills of capitalism. They are losing their houses, losing
their jobs, losing their land, losing their savings, and losing each and
every bit of peace and tranquility

Take a look for yourself:

– “About 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty, up from 37.3
million in 2007. The Census Bureau said the poverty rate — the
percentage of people living in poverty — jumped to 13.2 percent, the
highest level since 1997, from 12.5 percent in 2007. ”

As high as the poverty level is, these numbers are deceiving because
even people “above poverty level” suffer from severe financial woes and
pressures. Right now, the systemic issue is that everyone in the US is
worried about money and scared about the future. All are fighting for
survival – there are no safety nets to protect anyone from falling into
the dark chasm of misfortune.

– “The Census Bureau also said 46.3 million Americans were without
health insurance last year compared to 45.7 million in 2007.”

Clearly the US is not the place to get sick. One in every 5 or 6 people
do not have insurance, and then of those who do hold insurance, often it
is poorly suited to their needs, i.e. it does not cover basic health
issues, certain procedures, or it is so expensive that they have to
struggle hard to pay for it.

Verily, each and every aspect of daily life is becoming more difficult
to manage in the United States – and the problem is only growing. All
these material woes – housing, health care, employment, education etc –
then create a whole new series of issues.

People in the US cannot find mental peace:

– “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one
in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given
year…Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in
the U.S. for ages 15-44.”

-“A national survey has found that more than 8 million adults in the
United States seriously considered suicide last year.”

Thus the horrors of capitalism do not just begin and end in the material
realm – it takes a huge toll on people mentally. At present, the US
population is being crushed: Mental stress, anxiety, worry, depression,
and other psychic ailments are pervasive throughout the land.

Today then we are seeing the grim reality of what Chanakya warned about
– and things are only getting worse.

THE SITUATION OF THE USA:

WHY ONLY GETTING WORSE

There are two basic reasons why things are still turning for the worse
in the United States.

Firstly, the common people do not yet understand that capitalism is bad.
Still people hold the top vaeshyas as being veritable heroes. People
like Bill Gates & Warren Buffet continue to be worshiped and honoured
like sages. Still people want to grow up and become like them. So that
is one problem: People do not know that capitalists are the agents of
hell; the general people in society defend the edicts of capitalism.

The second reason why things are only getting worse in the US is that
the greed of such capitalists knows no end. They are not content merely
to pile up more money than they can use – they want every single penny
until everyone else is totally destitute, nay completely ravaged.

Baba says, “Regarding earning money and hoarding wealth, most vaeshyas
today are pisha’cavats [ghouls]. In Sanskrit pisha’ca means “one who
breaks the neck of an animal and then sucks out all the blood, leaving
only the flesh and bones”.” (HS-1)

So the warnings of Chanakya long ago hold true still today. That is why
in His Prout teachings Baba recognises the work of Charnakya.

At the same time, only Baba has given the expansive teachings of Prout
which can address & solve each and every problem and issue in society.

Our duty is to propagate those ideas in every way possible. People
need to hear the name Prout and learn what it is about. That is the
main aim at present.

BABA’S BLESSING:

PROUT IS THE SOLUTION

By His grace, Baba’s hundreds of Prout discourses show the pathway
toward social equality and economic justice. Baba has given perfect
solutions and that is the only way for the US and other capitalistic
nations to escape the noose of the vaeshyan era as first warned about by
Chanakya.

Baba says, “PROUT is the panacea for the integrated progress of human
society. It aims to bring about equilibrium and equipoise in all aspects
of socio-economic life through totally restructuring economics. Without
PROUT, socio-economic emancipation will remain a utopian dream. Only
PROUT can save the world from depression.”

“Furthermore, only PROUT is free from the inherent and exherent
staticity. In capitalism there is exherent and inherent staticity. In
communism there is extensive and intensive innate staticity. People
suffer from the ailments of staticity. These ailments will destroy all
forms of “isms” in the very near future. Wise people should utilize this
moment.”

“We are near the last stage of the Vaeshya Era. If an impact is created,
it will help the suffering humanity. It is the most opportune moment for
creating an all-round revolution. This is a new sub-theory under
Proutistic theory and may be called gati vijina’na – the science of
dynamics in PROUT.”

Namaskar,
Divyajyoti

Note 1: CAPITALISM DESTROYS THE HUMAN PERSONALITY

One other thing that cannot be overlooked about capitalism is that it
utterly destroys the human personality. People become worse than
animals. Even animals care for one another in their herd, flock, or
group. They all move together. They have their inherent feeling for one
another. Whereas in extreme capitalism this is not the case. Due to
extreme greed, people will cheat even their neighbors, nay their family
members.

One clear-cut and graphic example is this. Animal mothers will always
keep their babies in sight – sleeping together – breast feeding – and
being around them all the time. In contrast, in the top capitalist
nations, a basic trend is that females (we cannot even call them
mothers) are more concerned about their own sex appeal than their
child’s welfare, hence they do not breast feed their children and they
do not keep their children nearby when sleeping. Rather those females
fashion themselves as sex tools for males, and the baby comes as an
after thought. Of course, this does not apply to absolutely everyone,
but it certainly is a pervasive trend in capitalist countries. Some
females have even drowned their own babies if they felt their male lover
would be happier if she did not have babies.

Really the situation of people in the capitalist era is worse than that
of animals in many respects.

Thus in so many ways, the integrity of society gets completely washed
away by the excessive desires, ills, and distorted values of capitalism
/ materialism.

**************************************
Definition of “Real Discipline”

Lord says, “And what is discipline? The Sam’skrta term for `discipline’ is
`anusha’sanam’. And what is anusha’sanam? `Hita’rthe sha’sanam ityarthe
anusha’sanam.’ When the code of discipline is imposed with the spirit of
welfare, with the spirit of development, it is called `anusha’sanam’ in
Sam’skrta. There is no corresponding English word.” (AV-3 p.30)
**************************************

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Subject: Same Goal But 2 Opposite Approaches
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 21:05:28 -0400
From: “Gaurishankar Deva”
To: AM-GLOBAL

Baba

“A’ma’r pran’a’m na’o tumi prabhu, toma’y a’mi bha’laba’si…” (2692)

Purport:

Baba, O’ Prabhu, please grace me by accepting my pranam & surrender at Your lotus feet. Baba, I love You. Your divine flute goes on calling me continuously– in my sleep, in my dreams, and in my awakened state.
Baba, by Your grace I long for and search You in each and every activity. Keeping Your name in my heart I go on fighting against all difficulties & dangers of my life. Baba, in this entire universe only You are most adorable for me. Baba, by Your grace, my body, mind, and heart have become one with You. My whole existence is saturated in You.
Baba, with a smiling face You always shower Your grace on me. Whatever are my needs, You go on fulfilling them. Baba, You have removed all the cimmerian darkness from my mind. By Your causeless grace You are doing everything for me.
Baba, I love You, please accept my sastaunga pranam…

== SAME GOAL BUT 2 OPPOSITE APPROACHES ==

Namaskar,
In an LFT meeting in 1988, Baba revealed the reason why communist leaders do not leave their political post until they die. For them their position is lifelong. But that is not at all the case in capitalism. Capitalists do not want to sit in the chair and hold a political post. Thus, communists and capitalists harbor two opposite approaches, yet their goal remains the same.

The question stands, “Why is it that communist leaders are unwilling to leave their post?” The answer – which Baba gave in the LFT session (1988) – is below.

“THEIR SEEDS ARE THE SAME”

To begin, let’s explore the basic nature of capitalism and communism.

Firstly Baba states that capitalism is totally rooted in materialism where people do anything and everything to gain material wealth.

Baba says, “In capitalism the psychology of the acquisition of material wealth, be it land, money, metal or other property, strongly predominates. Such crude psychic urges and psychic pabula remain unchecked and unbridled in capitalism and turn into a hungry profit motive in the market system.” (A Few Problems Solved – 8, The Transformation of Psychic Pabula into Psycho-spiritual Pabulum)

Next Baba says that communism is also based on crude materialism.

Baba says, “Communism is also a socio-economic-political theory based on materialism. In communist society people’s psychic urges and psychic pabula instinctively run after material acquisition and crude enjoyment.” (A Few Problems Solved – 8, The Transformation of Psychic Pabula into Psycho-spiritual Pabulum)

Thus, in both capitalism and communism, the main goal of life is 100% materialistic: To chase after and acquire crude wealth and ultimately hold onto that wealth for one’s personal enjoyment for as long as possible.

Baba concludes then that both capitalism and communism are born of the same seed.

Baba says, “Capitalism and communism are the same internally. Fruits of the same variety may have different colour skins, but their seeds are the same. Capitalism and communism are fruits of the same variety.” (Prout Nutshell – 16, Decentralized Economy – 2)

BABA’S ANSWER:

WHY COMMUNIST LEADERS DO NOT LEAVE THE POST

As we all know capitalists acquire their economic empire by exploiting the masses – by riding the backs of the common people. Capitalists use their massive, ill-begotten wealth to finance and send their chosen people (stooges) into the political fray. With their millions and billions of dollars they purchase all kinds of politicians and even entire political parties. By this way those capitalists bend the rules of the land in their favour. Thus such capitalists hoard material wealth without occupying any political post.

In contrast, in communism, those political leaders hold onto the post for as long as they possibly can – right up until their death. They never leave their position.

So the question is: Why do they not leave their post?

In one LFT meeting, Baba told the answer. He explained that the reason communist leaders do not want to leave the post is that they do not want to part with their wealth. And the only way they can keep their wealth is to be a leader of the state. In communism there is no “personal wealth”; the state owns everything; Baba calls it “state capitalism”.

So when those communist leaders leave the post they will have to give up their luxurious lifestyle. Because in communism all the wealth is the property of the state. Thus to be wealthy and live in the lap of luxury one must be controlling the state. The common people do not have anything in communism.

So when in communism the goal is material wealth, then naturally those greedy leaders will hold onto their post to satisfy their desires – to hoard all the resources. It is for this reason that they occupy the chair right up till their death.

That is the answer given by Baba in that LFT meeting of 1988.

CONCLUSION

Here the central idea is that neither capitalism nor communism has any higher ideal in life. For them, matter is everything. In order to acquire material wealth, capitalists follow one approach and communists adopt another. They are diametrically opposite in their style. Yet both share the exact same goal: Crude wealth.

Unfortunately some naive and foolish people think that capitalism and communism are two totally different philosophies. When in reality, they are different in only the most superficial of ways. Truly speaking they both share the same aim; their ultimate goal is the same.

Namaskar,
Gaurishankar

Note 1: OUR PROUTISTIC OUTLOOK

Now let’s just take a comparative look.

(A) In capitalism, the basic concept is that the wealth belongs to individuals; capitalists own all the movable and immovable property.

(B) In communism, all the material wealth belongs to the state. All the gold, all the food, all the luxuries – it is all in the hands of the state.

(C) In our Proutistic approach we see things in a whole different light. We think that everything belongs to Parama Purusa – the Cosmic Father.

Baba says, “None of the movable or immovable property of this universe belongs to any particular individual; everything is the common patrimony of all, and the Father of all is Brahma.” (Problems of the Day, pt #1)

***************************************
Why Red Dress

Baba says, “Ta’n’d’ava is a heroic dance, showing the fight between life and death. The knife represents life, represents your vital stamina, and the skull represents the death that wants to destroy you. You are fighting against death with your weapon, be it a knife or a trishula (trident). And as per the rule, during the day, if one so desires, one may use a live snake in place of the skull; and at night one may use a fire masha’la [torch] or a d’amaru [small drum]. This is the rule. So ta’n’d’ava represents the eternal fight, the fight for survival, the fight to maintain existence, the fight to establish oneself as a man in this world.”

Note 1: By Baba’s above guideline we can outline the system for doing Tandava like this. During daytime in the left hand the tandava dancer may hold either (1) a skull, or (2) a live snake. And when doing tandava during the nighttime then in the left hand the dancer can hold either (3) a fire torch or (4) a d’amaru, which is a small, one liter size, hand-held, double-sided drum that has a string and two knots attached which twist around and create a beautiful sound when they strike against either face of the drum. Lord Shiva was using one of these.

So the point is that during tandava, depending on the time of day etc, any one of these four items (skull, live snake, fire torch, or d’amaru) are held in the dancer’s left hand. And all four items symbolize the force of death and destruction.

Then in the dancer’s right hand he will hold a dagger or a trishula (trident). In AM, a dagger is a knife where both edges of the knife are perfectly straight and angle towards each other to create a distinct point at the end. So a dagger is a pin-pointed, dual-edged knife; thus not just any ordinary type of knife is a dagger. And the second option for the right hand is the trishul (trident). This is similar to the western “pitch-fork”. It is a three pronged, pointed iron tool attached onto a bamboo handle of variable length from 3 to 6 feet long.

Note 2: By Baba’s grace I was also present at that special darshan on 20 April 1979 in Kolkata where Baba revealed the secret why tandava dancers wear a red-coloured outfit. Because in AM it is a commonly known fact that tandava dancers always wear that unique red uniform when dancing. Everyone who attended DMC, DMS, or any of Baba’s darshans saw this thing. And on that special day in April ’79 Baba explained that red is the color of rajoguna (the mutative factor) and that by wearing red the tandava dancers are expressing the idea that they are above the mutative factor. It is a representation that they are not controlled by rajoguna. Rather they are established in the sattvaguna (sentient sphere), by Baba’s grace. So the red uniform has this unique meaning which Baba Himself beautifully described in His darshan of 20 April 1979.

Note 3: Those doing kapalik sadhana also use a red mark on their forehead when practicing this meditation. And the meaning behind that red mark is the same as tandava. Namely, red mark signifies that the kapalika is above the mutative sphere of life– above rajoguna.
***************************************

Read Full Post »

From: “Marc Pele”

To: am-global@earthlink.net

Subject: Are Your Clothes Killing Others?

Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2010 08:11:48 +0000

 

Baba

 

== ARE YOUR CLOTHES KILLING OTHERS? ==

 

Namaskar,

This article reviews one particular fashion that is wreaking havoc and causing the illness and death of thousands of people.

 

It has been the fashion to wear faded and worn looking blue jeans. Consumers in the US and Europe pay top dollar for such products. Tragically, what many do not know is that in order to make such jeans, low-paid workers in countries like Turkey, Bangladesh and elsewhere work 12hr shifts, day after day, exposing their lungs to noxious dust and poisons.

 

By this harmful process, countless workers have contracted a ghastly lung disease (silicosis) with no known cure. This leads to their imminent death.

 

This industry, which produces 5 billion pairs of jeans a year, has ruined the lives of countless young people in distressed “third-world” areas. Read below how capitalists in the denim industry have exploited so many in order to turn a big profit.

 

Our duty is two-fold:

1. We must not use such products and logically convince others to also abandon or boycott these types of jeans.

2. We must spread this message around by forwarding all reports on this topic.

 

 

BABA’S PROUTISTIC GUIDELINES

 

Before reading the below article, “Fashion Victims”, we should keep in mind Baba’s noted Proutistic guidelines:

 

1. Psycho-Economic Exploitation: In this mode, capitalists create a market for goods that the public does not need. But in their blindness and naiveté, the common people get duped by this capitalist trick. By using some or more of the below mentioned strategies, ruling capitalists have made sand-blasted jeans a big-ticket item with consumers around the globe. Well-to-do consumers buying these sandblasted jeans have plenty of clothing, but buy sandblasted pants because they are the fashion of the day.

 

Baba says, “Psycho-economic exploitation is the latest form of dangerous and all-devouring capitalist exploitation. It is a special type of exploitation which first weakens and paralyses people psychologically in various ways, and then exploits them economically. Some of the methods of psycho-economic exploitation include…the extensive propagation of pseudo-culture [like crude sandblasted jeans].” (AFPS-9)

 

In this above chapter – “Capitalism in the Three Spheres” – Baba describes further how these capitalists carry out their agenda of psycho-economic exploitation. But certainly one of the ways is introducing pseudo-culture and marketing items like stylish sandblasted jeans.

 

In our Proutistic model, there is no scope of psycho-economic exploitation whereas capitalism thrives on it.

 

2. Profit motive not service motive: Those capitalists driving the fashion industry are neither involved in the welfare of their workers nor in the welfare of the public; their only interest is to make money. Such an approach is at the utmost in the jean industry.

 

Baba says, “In capitalism the psychology of the acquisition of material wealth, be it land, money, metal or other property, strongly predominates. Such crude psychic urges and psychic pabula remain unchecked and unbridled in capitalism and turn into a hungry profit motive in the market system. As a result, traders, industrialists and business people suffer from the psychic disease of accumulating more and more wealth by any means, even to the point of depriving other human beings of their basic requirements.” (AFPS-8)

 

Baba says, “Capitalists start industries only where the following factors are available: (1) capital; (2) labour; (3) favourable [economic] climate; and (4) a ready market for sales. They always try to lessen the cost of production…In the collective economic structure [i.e. Prout] the profit motive has no place – here industry is for consumption.” (PNS-4)

 

Thus in Prout, all industries are developed based on the needs and use of society – in service to the public – not on one’s own greedy tendency. Those manufacturers of sandblasted jeans operate 100% on the capitalist motive.

 

3. Maximum Utilization: Prout stands for the greatest use of every object of this universe, so ruining jeans by sandblasting them before they are even sold diminishes the use of those items. So many in this world are in need of proper clothing, yet greedy capitalists are intentionally destroying new clothes because they have made selling worn-out clothing a fashion statement.

 

Baba says, “These four parts of the economy should be integrated and adjusted according to Neo-Humanistic principles to ensure the maximum utilization and rational distribution of all resources, and to harmonize human progress with all creation.” (AFPS-7)

 

Just as we would deem that person as crazy who builds a beautiful house and then ruins it in order to try and sell it at a costly price, and just as we would deem that person who builds a great car and then ruins it in order to sell it at a high price, similarly we can only think those who ruin good clothing via sandblasting to make a big profit are also crazy.

 

4. Unethical Jobs: Baba points out that money-lenders etc have no place in society as their occupation is just based on greed. Similarly those capitalists hiring sandblasters to make designer clothing are just involved in unethical work. They exploit the workers, the resources and the public to satisfy their greedy interest. There is no place for this type of occupation in the Proutistic model. Their only aim is to exploit others – just like moneylenders.

 

Baba says, “People should also not earn their livelihood by lending money and taking interest. Such persons want to lend more and more money to gain more and more interest, and they do not want the borrowers to refund the capital. The scriptures stipulate that people should not accept food from such people, because their occupations are despicable.” (SS-11)

 

 

SOLUTIONS

 

We should apply the principles of Prout to create healthy fashions in the garment industry and make maximal use of the materials and resources of this cosmos.

 

Unfortunately, those not understanding the ways of psycho-economic exploitation get trapped by today’s fashion tycoons. Hence education is necessary. Otherwise more and more will get cheated by their propaganda; that is how the fashion industry operates. They dupe 99% of the population with their schemes and tricks and the general people chase after those fashions like ants rushing towards juicy, dead bugs.

 

By Baba’s grace as we will successfully educate people about the ways of Prout – then harmful & exploitative practices like sandblasting jeans will become a thing of the past. Thousands of innocent workers will be spared from contracting harmful and deadly lung diseases and the resources of this universe will be properly utilized.

 

Now kindly read the below article and see what is going on.

 

Namaskar,

Mahendra

 

FASHION VICTIMS

By Jacob Resneck

 

How the denim industry’s downward price pressure exposes Bangladesh’s garment workers to lung disease.

 

About 24 kilometres from the centre of Dhaka, in the gritty industrial suburb of Savar Upazila, down a narrow path, a small sign reads ‘Latest Washing and Blasting Industries.’ It’s not much more than a large corrugated metal shack with room for three young men, who work shoulder-to-shoulder. In the centre of the shed is a waist-high mound of white sand from the nearby Jamuna River. The young men are armed with pneumatic guns that shoot the sand onto the denim jeans, their hands protected by heavy gloves. A few spurts on each side are all that’s necessary to give the denim that worn, softer look that the fashionistas crave.

 

There’s no ventilation, save for bullet-sized holes in the metal roof where rays of sunshine look like tangible cylinders from the fine dust and sand in the air. As the men work, there is a cacophony of noise and dust and it’s nearly impossible to breathe—with or without a flimsy cotton face mask that is supposed to provide protection to visitors.

 

The men who blast this river sand onto the denim jeans have even less protection: their faces are shrouded in cotton cloths, nothing more. Nearby, a boy a few years shy of puberty carries buckets of sand to feed the machines as men in their 20s blast away at the garments, only their eyes visible between strips of colourful cloth wound tightly around their heads.

 

Going through 2,200 cubic feet of sand per month and employing about 30 workers, Latest Washing and Blasting is a medium-sized operation, says manager Mohammed Toiubur Rahman. On the days there aren’t power cuts, it runs 24 hours a day in three shifts. Rahman says there are about 100 factories of similar size in the country. They turn out 150,000 pieces per month.

 

Rahman says his workers are paid 6,000 to 7,000 taka (4,000 to 4,700 rupees) per month, a decent salary for what he admits are uncomfortable working conditions. “This is hard work, so I give them more money,” he says.

 

It’s hard to say where these jeans will land. In Rahman’s office, at the far end of the shack where the blasting can still be heard, he offers a business card that boasts: 100% Export Oriented Garments Sand Blasting Industries. There are stacks of denim jeans with labels of no-name brands, but Rahman claims he sandblasts jeans bound for Wal-Mart stores and branded for Gap, H&M, Liberty and Primark.

 

This is where it gets tricky. Most of these brands deny their jeans are handled by subcontractors (ie. small operations like Rahman’s) pointing out that this explicitly contravenes their codes of conduct. Rahman could be boasting of associations that don’t exist or brands may have less control over their supply chain than they’ll admit. It’s nearly impossible to verify.

 

But what is undeniable is that the sandblasting of jeans with silica-rich sand is toxic. And the practice that takes place in this metal shack on the outskirts of Dhaka is exposing young men and boys to highly dangerous conditions. The workers here seem unaware of the hazard. “We just have our mask and that’s enough for our protection,” says 20-year-old Mohammad Masud Rana, who’s worked here since he was 18 and lives nearby with his shift-workers in Savar. He seems reluctant to speak further.

 

Even Rahman, who seems sincere, earnest and perhaps even flattered to have foreign visitors to his workshop, says the process is safe. “There’s no chemicals, only sand,” he says. “They take two bandannas and that’s all they need. It’s not harmful.”

 

But this isn’t true. For years, the process of pre-fading jeans for the export market was outsourced to Turkey. But political agitation led by doctors, artists and trade unions eventually forced the hand of the Turkish government, which banned silica abrasives in sandblasting in March 2009. For good reason. The sand used in the machines— natural sand from the beach—contains silica. One of the most common minerals in the earth’s crust, when inhaled it does irreparable damage to the lungs. This causes a disease called silicosis. There have been 600 confirmed cases of garment-industry silicosis in Turkey, with as many as 44 deaths in the past decade.

 

For years, silicosis was unheard of among textile workers. It’s an occupational disease mostly found among labourers digging in the ground or crushing rocks. In India, silicosis is prevalent among workers who grind and polish gemstones. The Ancient Greeks were known to have identified silicosis among quarry workers, but it took a largescale industrial disaster involving Union Carbide to bring the disease to the fore.

 

In 1927, about 3,000 labourers in the US state of West Virginia were working on a tunnel to divert a river in a hydroelectric project. When the workers encountered a high deposit of silica, they were asked to mine it for Union Carbide. No masks were provided and the workers breathed the silica dust as they crushed the mineral. Subsequent hearings by the US government caused the first laws against silica-exposure to be put in place.

 

IN THE EARLY 1990s Turkey was emerging as a booming centre for textile exports. This success lured thousands of young men from impoverished areas—ethnic Kurds in the southeast as well as migrants from former Soviet republics like Georgia and Azerbaijan.

 

“I was a kid when I started in this sector,” recalls Abdulhalim Demir, a 29-year-old ethnic Kurd who at the age of 15 was one of thousands from his predominately Kurdish Bingöl province in eastern Turkey to work in the garment industry. He found work in a shop sandblasting denims to give the pants the worn, slightly distressed look coveted by trendy consumers. “It was easy—they let me sandblast for an hour and then take a 20-minute break.”

 

Demir did not realise the dangers to which he was exposed. “There is no specific treatment; there is no cure,” says Doctor Zeki Kilicaslan, a professor of pulmonary medicine at Istanbul University and leading activist for afflicted textile workers.

 

Demir says he worked almost five years as a sandblaster and foreman in shops finishing jeans destined for the international market. He’s since lost half his lung capacity. His condition has stabilised but his doctors say a new infection could be fatal for the father of three.

 

Now activists in Turkey charge that international brands have taken their business east, where health and safety laws are even weaker. “It’s typical behaviour of a multinational— just jump, jump, jump,” says Engin Sedat Kaya, a trade union leader in Istanbul. “This technique has been strongly banned in market countries. Maybe this is legal but it’s not ethical.”

 

ONE OF THE FEW ECONOMIC SUCCESS STORIES to come out of Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, is a garment industry that has grown phenomenally over the past 25 years. Last year garments made up about 80 percent of the country’s 15.5 billion dollars in exports.

 

Major international brands such as Levi Strauss, H&M, Gap and Wal-Mart have shifted more production to a nation where labour is cheap yet has been able to produce quality products. With legions of unemployed men and women desperate for jobs, garment workers have not seen a rise in the minimum wage since 2006, when, after eight years, it was raised from 930 taka (611 rupees) to 1,662 taka (1,092 rupees) per month. Most now agree that this isn’t enough to survive on—and many opt to work excruciatingly long shifts in order to earn overtime. Outbreaks of violence over pay are not uncommon, which have led the government to agree to form a commission to consider a rise in minimum wage.

 

Most international brands deny using suppliers that sandblast with silica. Heightened awareness—at least in Turkey and Europe—successfully led to agitation that put brands on the spot. The Gap says it has prohibited the use of silica sand since 2006.

 

“We’ve not placed any denim orders requiring (silica) sandblasting since 2006,” says Daniel Rubin, a Gap spokesman, via phone from the company headquarters in San Francisco. Other brands take a similar line. “Sandblasting material must contain less than one percent crystalline silica due to health reasons,” H&M spokeswoman Andreas Roos wrote in an email from the company’s headquarters in Sweden.

 

Rather than use silica-rich natural sand, many brands require aluminium oxide grit be used as an alternative. According to H&M’s own reports, in 2007 three quarters of its suppliers in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan) were found to be using silica-rich sand. Its follow up report claims that this figure dropped to 18 percent in 2008. Even when aluminium oxide grit is used, some workers are offered no protection at all. But even the more dangerous silica-rich sandblasting continues in Bangladesh and verifying the claims of suppliers and international brands is extremely difficult. “I think it’s a real challenge, monitoring the supply chain,” admits Rubin, the Gap spokesman.

 

“We require and check that manufacturers take the appropriate steps to avoid silicosis. We apply the same requirements regardless of country of manufacture,” insists Roos, the H&M spokeswoman.

 

Primark, a budget brand popular in the UK and Ireland, released a statement through a public relations firm in London. It doesn’t deny that its suppliers may use abrasives with silica but rather used the rationale that it follows industry norms. “In general, more than 95 percent of factories that supply Primark also supply other high street/international retail brands,” the statement reads.

 

In the statement Primark further claims to have invested in a number of measures, including warning signs in factories so that workers are aware of the dangers of exposure to crystalline silica dust. But there is a caveat in the statement: “while third-party suppliers may be aware of the dangers, and have put in place mechanisms to protect workers, these are not sufficient in every case.”

 

We go to one of the washing plants where the denim jeans are finished before they are ready to ship. Latest Washing and Blasting contracts with about a half-dozen of these washing plants. One of them is S-Bright, just down the road.

 

Kamal Hossain is the washing plant’s owner and he says “100 percent” of his garments are for export.

 

Business may be booming but price pressures from brands and larger suppliers further up the chain are causing him grief. “We struggle with price,” he admits. “Buyers, they force it down.” He rattles off figures. Sandblasting, once about 5 dollars per dozen, is now about half that. Washing was once 1.5 dollars per dozen but has dropped to less than a third of that. He complains that only the big players, who control the politically connected Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, are benefiting from Bangladesh’s garment industry miracle. “The BGMEA are getting big money from the brands, but it’s not coming down to me.”

 

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM has a devastating effect on the rights of Bangladesh’s garment workers. Babul Akhter, president of the National Garment Workers Federation of Bangladesh, which claims 12,000 members in 20 different factories, says, “In

Bangladesh, there are a lot of unemployed workers so we cannot really bargain with the owners.”

 

Less than one percent of Bangladesh’s garment factories are unionised, according to the United States Agency for International Development. This is despite the existence of more than 40 labour unions and around ten labour federations. “The trade union movement in readymade garments has traditionally been very weak,” says Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a Dhaka-based think-tank. Some of the trade unions are even created by the entrepreneurs in order to give a semblance of an organised workforce.

 

Khorshed Alam heads the Alternative Movement for Resources and Freedom Society, a non-governmental organisation that—among other things—keeps tabs on other NGOs. “This country is flooded with NGOs,” he says. “It’d be better to open a grocery store than another NGO.” He complains of corruption and incompetence among labour unions that often fight with each other rather than organise workers. “It looks like the unions are pushing for [higher wages] but I saw how the unions were playing a very negative role, joining hands with the owners, taking bribes.”

 

Getting trade unions to work toward a common cause has also been challenging, agrees Gagan Lal Rajbhandari, deputy director of the International Labour Organization’s mission in Bangladesh. “As in some countries—especially developing countries—there is multiplicity in the trade unions so we are working on ways to bring them together,” Rajbhandari says. “One might say there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

 

This is evidenced by speaking with ZM Kamrul Anam, the president of Bangladesh Textile and Garment Workers League, which claims a membership roll of 52,000 textile workers. Sandblasting or silicosis aren’t even on his radar. “In Bangladesh we have not yet heard anything of this because people are unaware of these safety issues,” he admits.

 

A DINGY HIGH-RISE IN THE COMMERCIAL CENTRE of Dhaka, the Ministry of Labour’s Inspectorate of Factories has few computers or signs of recent investment. Stacks of papers in binders are piled high among desks, only some showing signs of being used. Shafiqul Islam, a statistician in the department, prints out the roster of workers in the department.

 

In March of this year, it showed that the factory inspector division had 37 vacancies out of a total of 65 jobs.

 

“It’s a government policy,” he says with a simple shrug to explain the empty chairs. But that’s not all. “Our main problem is logistical support,” he says, explaining that the department has no vehicles and inspectors are required to ride crowded public buses to visit work sites. “If we had our own transportation we could easily go there.” But instead inspectors are wary of spending half their day sitting in traffic as the clogged buses inch their way through traffic. He relates anecdotes of inspectors falling prey to pickpockets on the bus and being “completely helpless” in garment centres like Gazipur, a two-hour drive from the headquarters in Dhaka.

 

But factory-level activists seem even more fearful of authorities here. “Not only my phone, all the people’s phones are monitored,” says Nazma Akhter of the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation. As an 18-year-old she began organising in a t-shirt factory where she’d worked alongside her mother since the age of 11. “We were blacklisted, sacked, beaten by police and the management was bringing [in] the goons.”

 

Three members of Bangladesh’s Special Branch—the intelligence wing of the nation’s police—even pay me a visit while reporting this piece. Akbar Doulat and his two silent colleagues arrive promptly at 9 am in the hotel lobby. They wear ironed shirts, pressed slacks and expensive mobile phones are holstered on gleaming leather belts. They gently question me over coffee. “Garments here is a lot of money,” the policeman says, fingering his yellow collared shirt to emphasise his point. “It’s made here so cheaply and sold out there for so much.”

 

Being a visitor on a tourist visa, admitting my interest in health and safety in the garment industry would be tantamount to signing my own deportation order. After about an hour, the inspector releases me with a warning. “You are welcome here as a tourist,” says Doulat, his gaze steady. “Stay away from NGOs.” The police have an army of informants, he adds, who would report back on my movements.

 

GETTING INSIDE A GARMENT FACTORY isn’t easy. Plants are constantly the site of unrest over late payments of wages or worker safety. Unless you’re there to do business, the gates are often highly secured. Economic Development Zones—sprawling industrial areas like Savar Upazila on the outskirts of the major cities of Dhaka and Chittagong—produce for

international brands with household names.

 

Getting access to the factories, unless pre-planned and scripted, is even more difficult for doctors. “Even we can’t enter—they don’t allow sometimes,” complains Dr SK Akhtar Ahmad, director of the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine in Dhaka. “Normally, they don’t allow visitors. If they allow [inspectors] it’s a visit with very limited access.”

 

It was Turkish doctors that sounded the alarm over silicosis amongst sandblasters. A published study in 2008 found that of 145 former sandblasters examined, 83 percent had respiratory problems and more than half had developed silicosis—evident from chest x-rays. “Considering the high prevalence of silicosis in such workplaces, further problems are inevitable in the future unless effective measures are taken,” wrote lead researcher Dr Metin Akgun at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey.

 

But medical professionals in Bangladesh have yet to make any connections between lung patients and sandblasting. Dr Mohammad Abul Faiz is a former Director General of Health Services, the office responsible for overseeing the country’s health. He listens intently to a description of the hazards workers blasting jeans are exposed to and admits to being ignorant of the practice but says he’d like to learn more. Clothing manufacturers are often shielded by the government. “The garment industry is a big source of foreign currency for Bangladesh,” he says. “Occupational health is always not addressed appropriately for a variety of reasons.” Faiz says regulations and protections exist but are not always possible to enforce, a point heard again and again in this country.

 

Whether garment workers have fallen ill from silicosis is a question that remains unanswered. Doctors, nurses and even labour advocates have little to no awareness of the risks and it seems unlikely that an impoverished garment worker could reach a lung specialist even if he were to fall ill. “We on the medical side cannot know the technical data because of the lack of studies,” admits Dr Mohammed Shahedur Rahman Khan, assistant professor at the National Institute of Chest Disease and Hospital. An impromptu tour of his hospital’s wards, the second largest in the country, fails to turn up a single former sandblaster, though some had worked around sandblasting and were familiar with the practise.

 

“I saw with my own eyes that from river sand they treated jeans and other things,” recalls 28-year-old Mohammed Abul Kalam, a patient who had been admitted a week earlier for coughing up blood. “The guys that worked there, the company did not supply them with masks and some could not afford them.”

 

Most shops we saw had at least paper masks but fell far short of the expensive respiratory masks required when working with silica-rich natural sand. “It’s inadequate,” agrees Dr Mirza Mohammad Hiron, head of the National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital. “Those paper masks give no protection.” But the only silicosis victims he’s encountered have been stoneworkers.

 

Yet diagnosing silicosis is difficult, as it shows common symptoms found in other respiratory diseases like asthma or even tuberculosis. “We receive patients with respiratory distress but we often treat it as asthma,” says Dr Ahmedul Kabir, an assistant professor at Dhaka Medical College.

 

And it’s telling that Dr Mohammad Nazibur Rahman Khan, who runs the largest health clinic in the area and sees many garment workers, says that “in Savar, [in February] there were 95 confirmed cases of tuberculosis.”

 

(Page 3 of 3)

 

WITH AN EMASCULATED LABOUR MINISTRY and ineffectual and corrupt labour sector, policing the health and safety of garment workers has largely been left to the international brands themselves who are most concerned with seeming like

good corporate citizens.

 

Consumer pressure is the only weapon they have to force brands like H&M to protect worker safety. “The power is held in our country, where our companies are inflicting this on the rest of the world,” says British activist Anna McMullen at Labour Behind the Label, a rights group based in England. Around the corner from her office in the English port city of Bristol, the shops advertise brand new fashion jeans for as little as 15 pounds (1,015 rupees) a pair. The downward pressure on consumer prices translates into more pressure on suppliers to produce quickly and cheaply.

 

McMullen argues that this kind of cheap fashion has a high human cost. This was illustrated in Dhaka when a garment factory under contract with H&M caught fire last March. Workers were locked inside, fire escapes were blocked and 21 people perished while another 50 were seriously injured.

 

Recriminations flew and the brand was immediately the target of international condemnation. Like its competitors, H&M has a robust Corporate Social Responsibility department (CSR). These are offices on the ground meant to ensure suppliers comply with minimum health and safety requirements lest the sweatshops become an ethical liability for the brands that they supply.

 

CSR staffers don’t usually talk to the press. But outside business hours in the cafeteria of Dhaka University, a former student turned CSR officer agrees to speak to me, as long as I don’t reveal his name. He’s since abandoned campus radicalism and gone to work for Wal-Mart.

 

Since 2002, he says he’s visited about 60 washing plants that use sandblasting and very few are outfitted with proper safety masks. As an industry inspector for Wal-Mart, suppliers have no choice but to open their doors to him, and he’s seen workers in sandblasting shops exposed to deadly hazards.

 

“I know in some countries it’s already banned—like in Turkey,” he says. “Now they practice it in different washing plants and they’re just using paper and cotton masks.”

 

The audit teams hired by international brands are honestly trying to prevent lapses in health and safety, even when the business office is focused on the bottom line. “Brands are mostly concerned with quality and punctual delivery,” he says.

 

Brands have gone to great lengths to clean up their image, translating into grandiose corporate social responsibility reports, factory auditors and, in the case of Bangladesh, even a letter to the prime minister urging the government to raise the minimum wage in the interests of social stability.

 

“Unrest among the workers in this sector is seen as a risk among our companies and could cause damage to the reputation of Bangladesh as a reliable sourcing market,” reads the letter signed by a dozen brands, including Levi’s, Wal- Mart, H&M and Gap. “It is a discomforting fact that the current minimum wage level in Bangladesh is below the poverty line calculated by the World Bank and thus does not meet the basic needs of the workers and their families.”

 

LEVI’S AND WAL-MART were both signatories to this letter. Levi’s began supplying Wal-Mart in 2002; by early 2004, they’d closed the last of their US factories and moved all their production offshore. To be fair, the Levi’s facilities in Bangladesh were some of the safer ones. At Opex Apparel in Dhaka’s Narayanganj District, workers were observed using

sandblasting guns that sprayed aluminium oxide grit rather than the cheaper silica- rich natural sand. They were even outfitted with respiratory masks with air being pumped into them. Resembling astronauts, they were fully protected from the clouds of metallic grit that ground the jeans. The only apparent lapse was that the workers sorting pairs of jeans alongside them wore no protection.

 

After contacting Levi’s to report that not everyone was wearing their masks, the company responded within 72 hours to say it had conducted a surprise audit on the factory.

 

“We confirmed your reporting, that not all workers in the area were wearing masks,” wrote company spokeswoman Kelley Benander in an email to The Caravan. She said the team had told the factory to draw up a health and safety plan that meets the company’s standards. “We will continue to assess Opex on a regular basis to ensure that this corrective action plan has been implemented.”

 

If only all suppliers were under so much scrutiny. But they aren’t. Many suppliers subcontract their work to make things cheaper and faster, even though they risk losing lucrative supply contracts if they’re caught. “Sometimes the front office, the front factory, is compliant and you know they can’t supply that much product,” explains Mustafizur Rahman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue. “But they are supplying from subcontracts and those subcontracts may not comply.”

 

But the bottom line remains the bottom line. Rahman says there’s a disconnect between a brand’s inspector and the in-house buyers whose mission is to keep production costs down. On a pragmatic level, brands would like to see higher wages to stave off the industrial unrest that has been known to explode among dissatisfied garment workers.

 

“If there is some commotion or turmoil in our industrial belt there is not a single entity that can really control the agitation or sit on behalf of the workers,” he warns. Brands realise that this does not bode well for stability in the sector, he says. Past statements from the garment sector’s industry group, the BGMEA, have often tried to lay the blame on foreign agitators bent on destroying Bangladesh’s lucrative industry. But few take this claim seriously.

 

What is clear is that as long as consumers seek the cheapest garments and brands race to the bottom in prices, there will continue to be a system that will perpetuate deplorable working conditions in places like Bangladesh.

 

International brands, on many levels, do try to stabilise the situation by pressuring for better workplace conditions. But they, like their customers, are loath to pay the extra premium for safety. “When they are sourcing they go for the cheapest source,” Rahman says. “So there is what we call a hypocrisy between ethical buying and ethical sourcing.”

 

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Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2010 16:18:54 -0600
To: AM-GLOBAL 
From: “Paul Paltrow” 
Subject: Ananda Marga: Rules on Financial Decisions

Baba

== ANANDA MARGA: RULES ON FINANCIAL DECISIONS ==

Namaskar,
This letter contains an in-depth Baba story with His critical and detailed guidelines about borrowing and lending money. We should all firmly adhere to His exact teachings lest we get caught in the whirlpool of capitalism. We should convey these points to all in our unit and community.

ANANDA MARGA: OPPOSITE OF CAPITALISM

The present era of materialism preaches “instant gratification”: Enjoy the world by buying happiness. Credit cards and loans are readily available to the common person. Indeed lending agencies and credit card companies are standing by with astronomical interest rates in order to rip off consumers. It is a deadly cycle; already so many have been victimised.

In AM, our view is totally different. We interact with this world for our daily needs and aim our mind towards psychic and psycho-spiritual pursuits. We seek happiness and peace in those upper realms, not in the instant gratification of worldly indulgences. We know this, we practice this, but even then some in our Marga have gotten bound by the noose of capitalism.

But there is no winning in capitalism. Only those top capitalists dervive some selfish benefit. The common public justs borrows and spends money on material allurements hoping to find happiness; but ultimately they find themselves upset, frustrated and in debt. All the while, the impoverished masses around the globe suffer from an extreme dearth of resources, which have been gobbled up by those capitalists.

So we should not fall prey to the capitalist cycle of borrowing and spending. Please read this following Baba story about this very subject.

BABA STORY:

GUIDELINES ON FINANCIAL DEALING

Baba was against people borrowing or lending money. One day He said, “You must know that lending as well as borrowing is undesirable and detestable.”

I had known Baba’s attitude and so had always tried not to borrow money. But I still had a question, “Was it so bad to lend money to someone in distress?”

Baba answered with an illustration. “Do you know why it isn’t desirable to lend out money? Suppose someone has come to you to borrow some money. Maybe his need is genuine and his appeal is justified. As you listen to his story of distress, you are likely to want to be kind to him. Even if it is beyond your own means to lend a big amount, you become so upset thinking of his dire need that you take pity on him. Your thoughts get interrupted as the gentleman says, ‘You need not worry, dear brother. Please help me wriggle out of my crisis. If your generosity can take me out the present crisis, I’ll repay the loan within a month. Meanwhile I’m likely to get some money soon, so you may rest assured that you’ll get back your money on time.'”

Baba continued, “There may be no reason for you to disbelieve him. Suppose you are soft-hearted, so you collect the money somehow and hand it over to him. And he, too, feels glad and goes away.”

“That man may not have any intention of taking you for a ride, but it may turn out that he can’t get hold of the money as he thought. It is not so unusual. But you go on nursing the hope that he will repay you at the end of the month.”

“A month goes by. He hesitates to see you out of his shame because he has no money to repay to you. Suppose you go to him out of need for the money. In all likelihood he will be ill at ease and may take offense at your uncalled-for-presence. He will think, ‘How disgusting! He has come to me straightaway.’  Understandably, he will tell you a long excuse about why he has failed to repay you. You will a patient hearing to him and coming back home begin to wait for the deadline as promised. There will be times he will think ‘O, my God! Here he is again, he will certainly remind me of my debt!'”

“Of course it’s only natural such thoughts come to mind, interspersed with some inaudible abusive remarks. Maybe you didn’t go to him for money, but what is that to him? Your presence will be unpleasant enough.”

“So whenever you meet him, he will think, ‘I am lost! He has come again to pressure me for that money.’ At the same time he will hurl some unsavory remarks at you, albeit silently. Contrary to what is in his mind, he will say, ‘Welcome, my dear brother. I am glad to meet you. I am so grateful to you,’ and so on and so forth.

“Undoubtedly the moment he sees you, he will heap uncharitable remarks on you, but when you will come within earshot, he will be all praises an parade his respect for you. It goes without saying that you will be put into a dilemma from not getting your money back even at the time of your own dire need. It may happen that your need will drive you to his house and shout from outside, ‘Hello, Mr.—-, are you there?’

“He will think, ‘Oh! he has come again for the money. What will I say to him?’

“Thinking this, he will not only silently curse you, but also try his best to avoid an encounter with you. Instead of coming outside, he will tell his little son to tell you that his father is out. Accordingly, the boy will run to you to inform you that his father is not in.

“Looking askance at him, you will say, ‘Go inside and find out for certain whether or not your father is there.’  The simple-minded child will reply, ‘Why, I don’t need to check because father has himself said that he is out.’ In this way your relationship with that friend will sour and you don’t know where it will end.”

“Well, he certainly would have been offended that first day if you had not lent him money. Not only that, he would possibly have been shocked and have silently heaped some abusive remarks. Nevertheless, the unpleasant situation would not have spilt over onto the rest of your life. If you lend money, you will inevitably invite filthy remarks galore. That is why a person should think many times before lending to others.”

I asked, “Sometimes a really good man may fall into trouble and sincerely need help. In that case, what is to be done?”

Baba said, “Instead of lending him money, you should help him according to your capacity. Suppose he is asking for five thousand rupees. Tell him your attitude about lending money and let him know your financial condition. Then help him with an amount that’s within your means. It may not be as much as he demands, but he will get consolation that you tried to share his difficulties.” (“My Days with Baba”, Sarveshvarananda)

The above story is quite clear on the point of borrowing and lending. According to Baba, we should not borrow money nor should we lend it. If anyone truly needs financial help, then we should give them money according to our capacity, and not expect anything in return.

BABA’S FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS

Here are some of His further teachings about this very critical topic.

First Baba warns us that we should seek counsel and permission before (a) spending money on superfluous items and (b) before taking any loan.

Baba says, “I am also giving one more advice in regard to aparigraha. If any Margis have to spend on anything in addition to the fixed expenditure (for example, expensive clothing, ornaments, articles of furniture, marriage, building, etc.), they should, before incurring such expenditure, obtain a clear order from their ácárya, unit secretary or district secretary, or any other person of responsible rank. Similarly, permission is to be obtained before taking loan from any businessman or money-lender. Where one’s own ácárya or any person of responsible rank is not easily available, consultation or rather permission is to be obtained from any other ácárya, táttvika or any right-thinking member of the Marga. Every member should follow this instruction strictly.” (Guide to Human Conduct)

Secondly, Baba warns us how money lending itself is a filthy profession. We should keep such greedy persons at arms-length.

Baba says, “People should also not earn their livelihood by lending money and taking interest. Such persons want to lend more and more money to gain more and more interest, and they do not want the borrowers to refund the capital. The scriptures stipulate that people should not accept food from such people, because their occupations are despicable.” (Subhasita Samgraha-11)

SUMMARY

We should all exercise extreme caution in our financial dealings. This era of extreme capitalism has devoured the lives of many – leaving them as desperate beggars unable to regain their footing. We must not let this happen to us or anyone we know. We should remain out of debt and keep our mind free for psycho-spiritual endeavors. That is the only way. Remember, one in debt becomes mentally bound by this financial burden as well.

Thus no one in Ananda Marga should make a living by lending money and no Ananda Margii should go into any sort of debt without first getting clear-cut permission from respected members of our Marga.

By following Baba’s above guidelines, we can maintain our psychic equilibrium. Going into debt and digging means losing one’s mental peace and becoming a lifelong tool of those greedy capitalists.

Namaskar,
Punya’tman

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