August 15 Speech - School

Honorable Director, Respected Chief Guest, Principal, Teachers, and Dear Friends:

It gives me great honor to speak on the occasion of the 66th Independence Day Celebration of India.

As we know, our country went through various phases of foreign domination, finally falling subject to the British Crown, before we saw the Sun of Freedom rise over our nation. But we were never slaves to anyone. In our minds we were always a free spirit. Mahatma Gandhi said, "The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. Freedom and slavery are mental states."

Freedom begins within, first, then comes in action externally. The Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl said, "Forces beyond control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation." This sense and life of freedom, subject only to the Law of God, to the Law of Justice, Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity, is the spring and fountain of Independence.

Today, we are faced with an even greater enemy that is far fiercer than all the foreign rulers of past history put together. This enemy, the monstrous beast bent on destroying us from inside, is the demon of CORRUPTION. We at School must fight it for we are the future of this nation. We are the ones who will become the officials, leaders, and politicians of the coming India. Let us resolve to keep that demon out of our cities, our villages, our families, and our lives. Let us pledge to keep our nation clean, pure, and free!


I don't believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists... - Anne Frank (Quotes)

Anne Frank (12 June 1929 – early March 1945)
From The Diary of Anne Frank


I don't believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no,the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have re- belled long ago! There's a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start allover again!

I've often been down in the dumps, but never desperate. I look upon our life in hiding as an interesting adventure, full of danger and romance, and every privation as an amusing addition to my diary. I've made up my mind to lead a different life from other girls, and not to become an ordinary housewife later on. What I'm experiencing here is a good beginning to an interesting life, and that's the reason -- the only reason -- why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.

I'm young and have many hidden qualities; I'm young and strong and living through a big adventure; I'm right in the middle of it and can't spend all day complaining because it's impossible to have any fun! I'm blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?

This is dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank:

Now philosophies stand ashamed before every stroke of her pen
That drew a tale of life with wisdom unworthy of the worldly wise;
History had a gem concealed somewhere in Amsterdam
To write its tale of humanity, divinity, and true freedom;
But, when the story was told, brought clearly out in bold,
History had lost the gem, betrayed for some ignoble end;
Yet, the gem did leave something behind, eyes for the blind:
The gift that she got for her birthday is now her gift to the world.

© Domenic M, 2012.

The Remorse of Ashoka - Poem

Ashoka War of Kalinga
THE YOUNG WARRIOR stood motionless
On the bloodied ground where battle
Had raged yesterday with vehemence
Of heat and sound; of flashing metal
Clashing, slicing, piercing, battering,
Flying, falling, striking, slaughtering
Men and women in the battle of pride,
Filling the air with blood curdling cries
As bodies fell one after the other with sighs –
All now calmed; the violence, stilled; the battle, won.

“But, what did I win here?” the Prince thought,
As his eyes gazed around the tormenting scene
Of strewn bodies that had once valiantly fought
A battle of dignity and the right to be rightly free;
“What have I gained now?” the Prince sighed,
“An open grave, a banquet to worms and vultures,
A treat to hyenas.” “It’s not so,” the devil lied
“They deserved this for being against your culture!”
A little child came walking with tears in his eyes;
“My remorse shall equal all my sin,” the Prince began…

“For every act of violence that I have done,
Ten thousand acts of non-violence shall I return;
For every hand of cruelty that I did wield,
Ten thousand hands of kindness shall I yield;
For every single child that I did orphan,
Every child of the world as mine shall I reckon;
For every beast that this war has slaughtered,
Every beast of the field shall henceforth be preserved;
Let my remorse be so great that never a life I will annihilate;
May trees and beasts, as all humans, now freely live
And breathe peace in this Land of Non-Violence.”

“You are a fool to make such a pledge” the devil replied,
“Another fool for a Prince after Siddhartha, who shunned
The delight of palace for the wilderness’ plight,
The heroism of war for a monk’s bowl of rice,
The light of victories for a patch of worthless lies;
And what will you gain by all these?
The enemies will gain their upper hand –
He who refuses to slaughter will himself be slaughtered –
Then, you shall repent and relent; but, it shall be
Too late! For Fate will have switched her wand –
He who doesn’t listen to Time shall by Time be bartered –
So, be bold, O Great Maurya and do your duty;
It is the duty of the Kshatriya to slay the enemy;
Let Ahimsa be the delight of the weak herd
Who can neither string a bow nor wield a sword;
Leave non-violence to the monks and the nuns;
Let them pursue remorse, holiness, and all that is weird;
But, you must pursue power by sly and force;
And make all efforts to follow the violent course
Until you have finished with all and all is won,
And every inch of this land has become yours!”

“Begone, O Prince of Vices!” the Great Maurya roared,
“I will have none of yours; for, you are a concocter of lies:
What I have purposed I will with all my strength do;
As I said, the path of kindness and non-violence shall I pursue.
This shall be my penitence; this shall be my lot;
This shall be my inheritance, my only reward;
This shall be the evidence of the change of my heart
That I do what I do desiring no other reward
But the good of all, dharma as ahimsa, peace on earth.
My hands will sow kindness and reap kindness in return;
My eyes will sow goodwill and reap goodwill in return;
My thoughts will sow benevolence and reap benevolence in return;
My life will sow righteousness and reap righteousness in return –
Thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and hundred-fold; wasted, none!
I can barely atone for the sin I have done…
Yet, no more! What’s done is done, may Justice do His work!
I shall return to acts of kindness; to kindness is Ashoka won!”

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2012

After the Battle of Kalinga, King Ashoka (304-232 BC) renounced war and violence forever. He embraced the non-violent path of Buddhism and preached kindness to all living creatures. His reign is known as the Golden Age of Indian History. “Ashoka” means “without grief or sorrow.” The wheel in the center of the Indian Flag is called “Ashoka’s Chakra”; it symbolizes Truth, Justice, and Virtue.

Regarding Conversion
Quote added on August 16, 2012

"the tradition that Ashoka actually became a Buddhist monk is now discredited. The inscriptions never mention the Buddha and show no awareness of his 'Noble Eightfold Path' or any other Buddhist schema. Even the idea of 'conversion' is suspect, since codes like those of the Buddhists and Jains were not seen as exclusive...... conversion, in the sense of renouncing one set of doctrines for another, was meaningless." [John Keay, A History of India, London: Harper Perennial, 2000, p. 96]

See Also:
The War of Kalinga and Modern Religious Conscience
Emperor Ashoka and His Humanitarian Approach to Religions

To Love and To Be Loved - Poem

"But what was it that delighted me save to love and to be loved?" - St. Augustine, Confessions.

From the depths of infinite eternity,
One would expect some dark, deep, ditch of emptiness;
But, that depth is filled with Divinity
Of the Triune God, in eternal mutuality, LOVE Himself!

From the spring of this Mutuality
Was patterned the Human Community,
In the image and likeness of God,
In the very figure of LOVE Himself.

The essence of Mutuality:
One soul in two bodies,
Mutual procession, each from the other,
Selfless spirit, two individualities;
Two for sure, but relationally one.

By two and two, that’s the order;
For, the lone man is an abyss of emptiness;
Void, devoid of the presence of an other,
Void, devoid of the sense of one with another.

In mutuality does one discover one’s identity;
One is always one in relation to another –
Who you are is who you mean to someone;
What you become is what you become in relation to another.

Just two Laws did God ordain:
Love God, Love fellow humans!
Thus, is dispelled the darkness of inhumanity:
To love and to be loved: there lies true tranquility!

© Domenic M, 2012.

Believe in Yourself - Quotes

The kind of "believe in yourself" that is dangerous is the one that:

  • Is out of connection with reality, fact, or truth.
  • Is wishful and presumptuous.
  • Tends towards absolute autonomy, as if one has no need of anybody else (oblivious of the fact that man is a very contingent and dependent being).
  • Believes that knowledge of self alone defines fulfillment in life.
  • Is disconnected from God: from His Truth, His Love, and His Power.
"The church's concept of faith has been corrupted by our American culture. People in this country have been feeding on a demonic gospel of self-esteem, self-worth, self-help. We've been told, "Believe in yourself." Then add to that our obsession with "instant everything" -- instant meals, instant drinks, instant information, instant gratification." - David Wilkerson, Delivered From This Present Evil World
"THOROUGHLY worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true. Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.” I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.” He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums. “Yes, there are,” I retorted, “and you of all men ought to know them. That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself. That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room, he believed in himself. If you consulted your business experience instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can’t act believe in themselves; and debtors who won’t pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief like believing in Joanna Southcote: the man who has it has ‘Hanwell’ written on his face as plain as it is written on that omnibus.” And to all this my friend the publisher made this very deep and effective reply, “Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?” After a long pause I replied, “I will go home and write a book in answer to that question.” This is the book that I have written in answer to it." - G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
"We...worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3)
"If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality." - Oswald Chambers

Judge Nothing Before the Time - Story

A Story by Domenic Marbaniang © 2012

“Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes… Then each one’s praise will come from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

The Stadium was filled with cheers, applauses, and feverish excitement. The runners all took positions and geared up waiting for the signal shot. Gerald sensed the sublimity too. The seconds of time between the start and finish line of the 100 meter track was all the reality that meant everything to him. All of space-time was crammed therein for him now. He felt highly elated. After seven years of rigorous training, throughout which his formidable form had emerged as the unbeatable image to all, he was now on the test to prove to the world that it now had the giant of athletics it had long been waiting for.

He had watched the other competitors and marked their dispositions. Some looked quite confident. He scoffed at them in his heart. In his heart he said to them, “This will be the day to break your pride, man!” There were one or two who looked rather fearful and apprehensive; they had taken one or two glances at Gerald and then quickly turned away from his piercing glances. “Cowards!” he spoke within himself again, “How did you even land up here?” He shook his head in disbelief. A skinny little chap was positioned next to him. Gerald chuckled to himself. “Lilliputs too!” he thought and shook his head again thinking “This is impossible! This race looks far from competitive at all!”

The crowd admired the physique and lion-like features of Gerald. The old folks betted for him and the young girls watched him with admiration, smiles on their face, each feeling, as it seemed, that it was she and he alone there in the whole of the Stadium. The young boys posted his image on the walls of their brains as their model. The small kids, however, wished that they were the ones running all over the ground. The TV broadcasters were busy switching clips between the athletes, especially Gerald, and faces in the crowd.

Just then the shot was fired and the runners plunged into the race. The cheers and applause got thicker. As expected, Gerald was way ahead of all others. At the very beginning, he had seen one boy, positioned a little ahead, lose balance and fall. It didn’t occur as strange to Gerald at all. In a few seconds, he had bulleted ahead of all others and was pounding the ground like a leopard in full heat. He knew that he was unbeatable. He was happy that he would win the prize. A few leaps more and he would break the finish line. Knowing that he was way ahead of all, he slowed his pace a little bit down. Just then, the skinny little boy overtook him like a bolt from the blue. Gerald was shocked and stunned; he staggered with confusion, a muscle twitched and in a second he was down with excruciating pain. Many in the crowd slumped on their seats with gasped breath. Some stood motionless watching, waiting for some miracle. The girls and the boys almost felt like weeping; but, the children laughed: they laughed, of course, because they thought it was a kind of clownish joke. But, there laid the great Gerald panting and watching. The little chap whom he had despised flashed off and ripped the finish line with his skinny chest; then, everyone else passed him by. The unbeatable was now down on the ground. Medical men ran up to him spraying and working at his ankle. He was lifted and taken away from the ground.

Later, someone asked him what had happened wrong. He answered with sadness: “I forgot that I was just a runner, not the judge, and that I was not supposed to judge anything or anyone before I had touched the finish line. This race has reminded me that no one is unbeatable, anyone can fall and miss the line; therefore, do not judge anyone before the time.”

Love Leaves No Knots - A Story about Forgiveness

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

(Written for a Youth Magazine forthcoming)

The scenic valley of the Satpura range in Central India bustled with fresh streams, chirping birds, grazing cattle, and woodcutters chopping wood in the forest. A few women were gathering the yellow flowers that fell from the Mahua (Madhuca Longifolia)trees that were all over the forest. The nearby fields were all ready for harvest and one could see little boys and girls, with school bags on their back, singing and hooting and hurrying along the hedges of the fields to the little Government School in the village.

But, little Ashruti, seven years old, walked very slowly with head bowed down, a frown on her face, and swollen cheeks. She didn’t seem to be in a very happy mood. From her little shack in the distance, made of mud walls and a thatched roof, her mother watched her walk very sadly away. She was, evidently, sad about her daughter that day. She had been angry with Ashruti and had spanked her this morning for two reasons. Firstly, she didn’t get up very early though her mother had called her many times – it was her duty to collect the sticks and light up the fire in the oven and it was late this morning because she failed to wake up soon. Mother had to look after Shyam, her two year old son, that is, Ashruti’s brother. The boy had fever and didn’t sleep all night; so, mother had to really be very busy looking after him. When Ashruti wasn’t waking up despite many callings, mother had to go up to her and pull her from the bed she was sleeping on. Ashruti sure was not very happy about it because she wanted to sleep a little more. And, then, when she had lit up the fire, cooked some rice, and had now got ready for school, mother asked her to hold Shyam for some time while she went and fetched rice soup for him. Ashruti, unwillingly, went and held Shyam. The boy had been crying and now as soon as he was switched place from mother to sister, he grew furious and very irritated, crying all aloud and beating his legs to get off her lap. Ashruti tried to hold him tight, but he was furious. When she tried to hold him in, he curled his teeth around her left wrist and bit her. Ashruti cried out loud and he released. But, she had lost control. She began screaming wildly at the boy and began shaking him furiously. He was stunned and became quiet for a moment, quite frightened and confused, then began to uncontrollably cry to her surprise. Mother came running in shouting, “What has happened, what has happened?” Ashruti was speechless. Mother took Shyam from Ashruti’s hands and cried, “You naughty little girl! Can’t you see that he isn’t feeling well? Couldn’t you hold patience for a moment?” Ashruti trembled and her mother gave her a slap on her cheek. She cried. Mother did feel sad, but she now turned to the boy and began trying to calm him down. Ashruti went to a corner and slumped there sitting with her back against the wall. She was crying. She was very sad. “My mother doesn’t love me anymore,” she thought. She put her right hand around her left wrist and began to turn it smoothly around it. She felt very sad and angry at her brother because he bit her though she had done nothing to him.

After some time, the brother calmed down and having become tired went to sleep. Mother now looked her daughter sitting alone in the corner and came down to her. “I’m sorry, my child,” she said. “But, you shouldn’t be angry like that with your brother, you see. He is too young and he is also not feeling well.” Ashruti didn’t look up. Mother took her hands in her hands, then noticing the red dent that Shyam’s teeth had made on her wrist, she remarked, “Oh, did he bite you?” Ashruti answered nothing. Mother went and brought some ointment and rubbed it around her wrist. “See,” she said, “I only have both of you for me now; and, you are elder, you should be taking care of your brother! Forgive him, he doesn’t understand anything now.” Ashruti looked up without any expression on her face. She stood up, went near her bed, picked up her bag and wore it on her back as mother watched sadly.

“Come, have some rice!” mother said. She dropped her bag, and went and sat on the mat on the ground. Mother served her some rice. She ate, then rose, picked up her bag and, then silently walked off in the direction of the School through the fields. She did understand that mother did love her, but was sad about all that happened this morning.

At School, her friends all greeted her but she didn’t feel like greeting them back. As she sat on her bench, her bench mate, Priya looked at her wrist and exclaimed, “Hey, what’s wrong with that? Why is it so red and what is that oily thing around?” Ashruti said nothing. She began to cry. She felt very sad. But, she knew her mother did love her. “Oh, don’t cry, don’t cry,” Priya said, “Let’s just forget it. It’ll be alright anyway!” Just then the bell rang and the teacher came in as Ashruti wiped her tears, though she didn’t dare to raise her head up. The teacher began calling names of the students from out of the attendance register as each answered “Yes Ma’am!” in answer to the call of his or her name. It was the Hindi Language class and the teacher began teaching them a poem today. She read:

Bizli dhar dhar (Lightning flash flash)
Baadal gar gar (Clouds thunder thunder)
Boondey parti par par (Drops are falling, drop drop)

As she was reading that one boy started laughing, then all the children started laughing. The teacher stopped and signaled all to be silent; and then asked why they were laughing. All became silent. After a while, the boy who first laughed stood up and silently said, “Ma’am, last night my didi (elder sister) was telling to me “Mohit, par par (i.e. read, read) or else you’ll fail!” All the kids were laughing. The teacher laughed too. Then, she said, “There’s a difference, Mohit. Your sister might have said parh not par. Par means “to drop”; parh means “to read”!” They were all silent. Mohit looked here and there, all around the class, then smiled and sat down. The teacher smiled at all of them too. Ashruti also smiled.

They all had lunch at School at noon (as the kids are provided day meals at School every day). After that they had a little rest, and then had playtime for the rest of the afternoon. The kids played hide and seek, merry go round, and a lots of games. When, the last bell rung, every one grabbed their bags and rushed towards their homes. They all walked together in groups of three or four went chatting along. Ashruti and Priya also came chatting and playing with friends.

When Ashruti reached home, she had so many stories to tell her mother; so many that her mother had her eyes wide open in surprise. Mother embraced her and hugged her very much. She told her that she was her gem and the apple of her eye and she was very proud of her. She told her that one day she will become a very great person, perhaps a doctor or an engineer; or perhaps a great teacher. Ashruti was very happy. Just then, Shyam woke up from his sleep. He was feeling better now. He looked at Ashruti and called, “Didi! (Elder Sister!)” She turned to him, jumped off her mother’s lap and rushed towards him. Then, taking him in her arms, she hugged him and kissed him all over. He kissed her too. He wanted to play and sister was his best mate that evening. Of course, they had to stop because she had to do her homework and the dim lantern wouldn’t hold for very long.

Next morning, she did wake up very early.

There is an Indian saying that says that one shouldn’t ever snap off the thread of love; for once snapped off, it can never be joined, and even if joined it will leave a knot. But, true love, God’s love, doesn’t let anything snap off. There’s never a reason for a knot.

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2012

C. S. Lewis on Theories of Atonement

From Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 4: Perfect Penitent

Now before I became a Christian I was under the impression that the first thing Christians had to believe was one particular theory as to what the point of this dying was. According to that theory God wanted to punish men for having deserted and joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off. Now I admit that even this theory does not seem to me quite so immoral and so silly as it used to; but that is not the point I want to make. What I came to see later on was that neither this theory nor any other is Christianity. The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work. I will tell you what I think it is like. All sensible people know that if you are tired and hungry a meal will do you good. But the modern theory of nourishment–all about the vitamins and proteins–is a different thing. People ate their dinners and felt better long before the theory of vitamins was ever heard of : and if the theory of vitamins is some day abandoned they will go on eating their dinners just the same. Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. Christians would not all agree as to how important these theories are. My own church–the Church of England–does not lay down any one of them as the right one. The Church of Rome goes a bit further. But I think they will all agree that the thing itself is infinitely more important than any explanations that theologians have produced. I think they would probably admit that no explanation will ever be quite adequate to the reality. But as I said in the preface to this book, I am only a layman, and at this point we are getting into deep water. I can only tell you, for what it is worth, how I, personally, look at the matter.

On my view the theories are not themselves the thing you are asked to accept. Many of you no doubt have read Jeans or Eddington. What they do when they want to explain the atom, or something of that sort, is to give you a description out of which you can make a mental picture. But then they warn you that this picture is not what the scientists actually believe. What the scientists believe is a mathematical formula. The pictures are there only to help you to understand the formula. They are not really true in the way the formula is; they do not give you the real thing but only something more or less like it. They are only meant to help, and if they do not help you can drop them. The thing itself cannot be pictured, it can only be expressed mathematically. We are in the same boat here. We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world. And if we cannot picture even the atoms of which our own world is built, of course we are not going to be able to picture this. Indeed, if we found that we could fully understand it, that very fact would show it was not what it professes to be–the inconceivable, the uncreated, the thing from beyond nature, striking down into nature like lightning. You may ask what good it will be to us if we do not understand it. But that is easily answered. A man can eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him. A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.

We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ’s death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans or diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and, even if they do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself. All the same, some of these theories are worth looking at.

The one most people have heard is the one I mentioned before-the one about our being let off because Christ had volunteered to bear a punishment instead of us. Now on the face of it that is a very silly theory. If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead? None at all that I can see, if you are thinking of punishment in the police-court sense. On the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not. Or if you take ‘paying the penalty,’ not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of ’standing the racket’ or ‘footing the bill,’ then, of course, it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend.

For further reading:
How Could An Innocent Man Die for the Sins of the World?
Estrangement and Belongedness in the Ultimate Sacrifice of God

One has not even begun to walk until...

One has not even begun to walk until one has first taken his cross- his own cross

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