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Spirituality and Social Justice - An exploration.

Social Justice aims to create an equitable world for everyone. Spirituality lets us see everyone as equal. A core tenet of spirituality is that we are all connected. We are made up of the same consciousness. We are a part of each other.

Living, expressing and sharing spiritual values and practices is a central part of my life. Recent events have kindled my awareness around Social Justice. Looking at my own life & lives of those before me, I can't help but wonder, is spirituality an essential catalyst & support for social justice?

This article is an exploration of the intertwining of spirituality and social justice. I share stories of spiritual leaders who have catalyzed social change; and end with a few insights on how spirituality can support the movement for social justice.

I should say from the outset that my ideas and thoughts are still being informed. I am still learning. This is a reflection of where I am right now in my journey.

MLK day reminds us that the quest for a just world is far from over. Sharing this article is my way of honoring the legacy of a man of God, a man of people, and a man who continues to inspire us all.

The Stories

~ Swami Shraddhanand ~

When I think of Spirituality and Social Justice being intertwined, the story of my own great great Grandfather- Swami Shraddhanand stands out. (Swami - an honorific title bestowed to one who has dedicated their life to wisdom. Shraddha - faith. Anand - Bliss).

Swami Shraddhanand was not born a saint. He was a lawyer practicing in India in 1880’s. He was an atheist in his young days. But later, deeply influenced by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, he joined Arya Samaj. The three core objectives of Arya Samaj are to eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence or Poverty (Abhav) and Injustice (Anyay). Over time, he became increasingly involved in uplifting the society through education, reform and activism, while living a life rooted in spirituality & wisdom.

He established centers for Vedic education called Gurukul, some of which exist even today. He started a reform movement which allowed Hindus to convert back to Hinduism (from Islam and Christianity). This brought relief to many Hindus who had converted to another religion because of external pressures, and now wanted to return back to their faith. Nothing like this existed before. This incurred him plenty of ire, which didn't stop him of course, but unfortunately led to his assassination in 1926.

He was a brave man. The only Hindu to speak from the pulpit of Jama Masjid, a prominent mosque in Delhi, India. Beginning his speech with vedic chants, he delivered a message of religious solidarity. And in 1919, after the massacre of Hindus by British in Jaliawala Baagh, Punjab, when no political leader would preside over the session of Congress there, he did.

Reflecting on his life, I realize that true spirituality is always valorous. Standing up for the ultimate inner truth, also means standing up for what's right in this world.

~ Guru Gobind Singh ~

Often we associate spirituality with peace and non violence. But there have been examples of Spiritual Masters who were also warriors.

Guru Gobind Singh- the 10th Guru of the Sikh community is a stellar remi