Press Association Douvan spearheads a potential 17-strong field for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next Tuesday. Mullins could also be represented by Alvisio Ville, McKinley, Nichols Canyon, Outlander, Shaneshill and Tell Us More. Just behind Douvan in the betting is the Nicky Henderson-trained L’Ami Serge and Harry Fry’s Jollyallan, and they, too, have stood firm at the confirmation stage. Seedling and Qewy are quietly fancied by some and are likely to represent Warren Greatrex and John Ferguson respectively. Irish interest is also spiked by the presence of two Tony Martin runners, Okotoks and Velvet Maker, Bentelimar from Shay Barry’s yard and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Sizing John. Aso and Some Plan complete the list at this stage. Willie Mullins’ five-year-old will be a popular winner of the opening race of the meeting as he is one of a clutch of hot favourites for the County Carlow handler. Douvan has excelled in two starts since his transfer from France, having won with ease at Gowran before claiming Grade Two honours at Punchestown in January.
Dear Editor,Permit me to respond to a letter which appeared in sections of the print media on December 22, 2019, authored by Professor Kean Gibson with the caption, “Not a misunderstanding of caste, but how to manage the ideology”.The gist of Professor Gibson’s article was about violence against women and suicide. Somehow, unfortunately, the author found it necessary to link this thematic issue to religion, Hinduism. The contents thereto are a classic reflection of the profundity of obliviousness, and deeply void of scholarly merit. The author obviously delved into a subject area in which she demonstrably has fundamentally limited knowledge of, much less wisdom.Now, if I may illuminate the learned Professor, it was posited in the missive that “the religion has a hierarchical structure so that those at the bottom have no entitlements and are perceived as the harbingers of destruction.” Before I dismantle this misconception, according to the Vedic teachings, this current era/age we are living in is called “Kaalyug,” which literally means the age of ignorance.Firstly, the caste system, religion and even the word “Hinduism” are all man-made. These were never created by God or the divine being, or who some refer to as the divine energy. What is being referred to and is commonly accepted by the Western world as Hinduism, is called “Sanatan Dharma”, which means a “way of life”. Therefore, Sanatan Dharma is not a religion.In the sacred scripture which is known as the Ramayana, there is a scenario which validates this premise of the caste system being a man-made ideology. The Ramayana is accessible online these days and the Professor can refer to the chapter which speaks of the scenario of a devotee (follower and worshiper of God) by the name of Shabari.Shabari was an acetic devoted woman to Lord Rama, but she was regarded by the wise men of that time, saints and sages, as belonging to the lowest caste and hence, she was not allowed to even enter the Ashrams of the sages. She was despised by society. She was old, feeble and physically unpleasant. However, her love and devotion for Lord Ram were unmatched, unconditional and beyond description.She converted her home into an Ashram and with the firm faith that the Lord would visit her one day, each morning as she woke up, she would fill her walkway with flowers for the Lord to walk upon whenever he visits. One day, that day she waited for years came when the Lord himself paid her a visit. She greeted her Lord at the entrance to her little cottage, fell to his feet and washed his feet with tears from her eyes.Out of pure love, she escorted him into her home and offered a seat. All she had to offer was a fruit (she had dongs tree in her yard). She tasted each one of the fruits before she offered it to the Lord because she wanted him to have the best. When Lakshman, Sri Ram’s brother saw that Lord Ram was about to eat the “jutah” fruit from the outcaste woman, (as he scorned her), Lakshman was scolded by Lord Ram and he explained, it is not the fruit he is enjoying, but the love it is offered with.Now, this scenario from the Ramayana has many lessons about life that we can learn from. The first lesson is, God himself, in the incarnation of Lord Rama, did not recognise the caste system, for him, we are all equal. The caste system was created by human beings, not God. Another important lesson is, it teaches how we must treat others and especially when visitors come to your home. The first thing she did was to greet the Lord at her gate, then offer a seat, then food, then after eating, they started a conversation.Growing up, these were the values my parents taught me which is becoming a lost value today. When you visit people’s home, they don’t even offer you water much less food, and if they do, they ask, if you want some food. Most of the times, the response would be no out of shyness, but you are hungry as hell. These are true exemplars of hospitality demonstrated by the Lord himself in the Ramayana, how to treat others with care, compassion and love.The professor also went on to talk about suicide and reincarnation. Reincarnation has nothing to do with suicide, in fact, suicide is a sin. The very Ramayana I made reference to, taught us, demonstrated by the Lord himself, how to deal with suicide. Unfortunately, space would not permit me to delve into that scenario but I would like to urge Professor Gibson to read Kiskindha Kaandh of the Ramayana, and she is free to contact me, I will be extremely happy to interpret the higher philosophical meaning of the scenarios in that chapter of the Ramayana as it pertains to suicide.Finally, the author sought to link the violence against women to perceived inferiority promoted by some cultures. This idea is extremely ill-conceived by the author. Sanatan dharma, in fact, worships the divine being in feminine form. If there is one culture that teaches women are superior to men, it is Sanatan Dharma.We celebrate Diwali as a national holiday, this celebration is dedicated to the worship of the goddess Lakshmi who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Even God in masculine form, cannot exist without the feminine energy, there is another story the vedas or the puranas with Lord Shiva and Durga to this end, again I will revert Professor Gibson to research these, as I am giving her the references where to find them.The violence against women, by men, is not because of the inferiority of women, rather it is the inferiority of men. Only weak and insecure men would revert to such acts. Real strong men know of the worth of a woman, she is the very essence of life, energy and prosperity.Yours faithfully,JC Bhagwandin, MScMBA Lecturer