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#1332 - June 23, 2007 02:35 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Contents - this page


1. Bhavishya Purana

2. Bhavishya Purana

3. Brahmanda Purana

4. The Brahma Purana

5. Linga Purana

6. Kurma Purana

7. Markandeya Purana

8. Narada Purana

9. Vamana Purana

10. Varaha Purana

11. The Swastika

12. Are Hindus Cowards?

13. Vayu Purana

14. Vishnu Purana

15. The Upanishads

16. Christianity's Similarities with Hinduism

17. Relativity of Human Life

18. The Messiah

19. Freedom & Democracy

20. On being Rational and Non-Rational

21. How English Evolved into the Largest International Language

22. Thoughts on Ahalya - 1

23. Thoughts on Ahalya - 2

24. Suffering in Religions

25. Islam and the diabolic slave trade

26. Origin of the seven day week

27. Measure of Space

28. Extrapolations

29. Utter Emptiness

30. Athiest quotes

31. Hinduism a de facto supporter of Ecology

32. Between Two Evils

33. Was laughter a way of Hindu life?

34. The Other Translation of the Quran

35. The Other Side of the Bible

36. Now the Other Spiritual Side of the Bible

37. Words of Confucius

38. More on the Teachings of the Quran

39. Science & Faith

40. Matter

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Bhavishya Purana

The word bhavishya refers to that which is about to happen. [It is derived from
bh� to be.] Bhavishya-k�la means the future tense. Therefore, the title of
Bhavishya Purana means Purana about the Future. One is thus inclined to think
that this is a Hindu Book of Revelation, telling us about things to come.
However, when one looks into the contents of the extant versions of this purana
one discovers that it is more about rites and rituals, about the duties of
various castes, about festivals, etc., with very little of any prophesy.

This is the only purana that refers to Zoroastrianism. Buddha and Buddhism are
mentioned in a few other puranas. This one says that the Magas have their
ancestry in a person called Jarasasta: Zoroaster or Zarathushtra, and it
describes those people as wearing girdles around their waists. The Magas were
sun-worshipers. They are referred to as the Magi in the Bible, and their names
have left a stamp in the English word magic.

The Bhavishya Purana also talks about the magnificence of the Sun. Recognizing
the sun as divine, it says that the sun is a visible divinity. Because we see
things with the aid of sunlight, the sun is also described as the eye of the
world. Because the day is born with sunrise, the sun is called the maker of the
day. Because it seems to have been and will be for ever, the Bhavishya Purana
describes the sun as eternal. For these reasons, it is said that no other deity
can be compared to the sun. Moreover, since we reckon time by the rising of the
sun and the seasonal changes caused by it, the sun is called the source of time.
The centrality of the sun in the universe is recognized in this purana when it
says that planets, stars, Vasus, Rudras, V�yu, and Agni, and all other Gods are
parts of him.

The Creation myth in this purana is very like the one in Manudharma Shastra
where it is stated that the universe existed as primeval darkness, unperceived,
destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly
immersed, as it were, in deep sleep ... Then the divine Self-existent appeared
with irresistible (creative) power, dispelling the darkness, and making (all)
this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, .

In 1897 there appeared a spurious version of the Bhavishya Purana which
incorporated totally new materials, clearly with the intention of creating the
impression that the author(s) of that purana were seers who saw well into the
future. Whereas the quatrains of Nostradamus were merely vague, and could be
interpreted in many soothing ways, in this nineteenth century version of the
Bhavishya Purana, specific names are given. We read about "Adam and Eve, Noah's
Ark, the fall of Sanskrit and coming of other languages, about the coming of
Buddha, Madhavacharya, Chandragupta, Ashoka, Jayadeva, Krishna Chaitanya and
about Kutubuddin and the Shahs ruling Delhi."

Obviously penned by a man familiar with the Bible, Islam, and Indian history,
this book talks about Madina which is described as a place of pilgrimage and
about Mahamada (Mohammad). It says that the followers of this mleccha-dharma
will practice circumcision, and will not have any tufts of hair, and will be
known as Musalmans.

Many people, both simple-minded and some professed scholars, have been fooled by
this fraudulent version. One such individual has added new names to the alleged
predictions and goes so far as to claim that the Bhavishya Purana "speaks
accurately of the British controlling India, Hitler fighting the world, and Max
Mueller misrepresenting the Vedic teachings." It is not only Western scholars
who distort and misinterpret Hindu writings.

When one talks about puranas one rarely mentions Bhavishya Purana. Not only do
we know very little of interest or relevance about Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva from
this purana, some passages in the new version are embarrassingly false and
racist.

V. V. Raman
June 22, 2007


[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited April 07, 2008).]

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#1333 - June 24, 2007 12:15 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Bhavishya Purana

>It is not only Western scholars who distort and misinterpret Hindu writings.>


Indians don't make serious thriller movies like Aliens, Predator, The Day After
Tomorrow, Exorcist, Shrek, etc. Its not in their culture. No one wrote such a
purana.They make song and dance movies, the same thing over and over again with
variations, essentially the ramayana. This movie culture can be traced to the
puranas and itihasas.

A two line sutra in the vedas regarding an event, a theme, or a name of a god, is
expanded into 400 verses in the early purana. From there it is expanded into
6,000 verses in later puranas and itihasas, now properly tied with many other
such myths to make a one whole seamless grand story. In the next part Hindu
evangelist writers take over and start the insertions and distortions, only to
pass it on to christian indologists for final editing. This is called myth
making.
Its a long story.

Not only the early christian missionaries translated, tampered, misinterpreted
Hindu shastras, they went further inventing legends, added texts to vindicate
christianity, british rule, then demonised islam too, then destroyed the
original manuscripts. One cannot rule out that varna was also inserted into many
puranas. Or even meat eating and other such practices. One cannot rule out
anything. Much of the confusion and conflicts in Hinduism and Hindu society
could be traced to these tamperings.


But the christians were only following an earlier Hindu tradition of adding and
altering. Even before the christian missionaries like Wilson and Wilford started
translating, they already knew that the purana manuscripts were for a great part
not authentic or non existent
Can't blame them for carrying on the traditions of manipulating
and myth making.

Hindus themselves are guilty of adding and altering as we see in the ballooning
of itihasas, bhagavata purana, rewriting of the ramayana by Kamban and Tulsidas
with variations, writing of new upanishads, etc., everyone pushing their own
agenda. Imagine, some puranas may never have existed at all, or, the BG even if
it existed may have been only 40-60 verses and not the 700 verses it is today.

Hard to say. Just think, some verses that we routinely quote may have been
additions by Hindus or Christians. Not just the bhavishya but the authenticity
of many puranas are suspect. There is not a single new idea in any of the
puranas.
Scholars say the whole of the original bhagavata is an expansion of the
BG - a purana of an itihasa.

The Fabrications....nonexistent original......puranas of thieves and
imposters.... sometimes worse than useless...all of them are made up and
unauthentic.

From the horses mouth:

Sir William Jones, 1784 (from Asiatic Researches Vol. 1. Published 1979, pages
234-235. First published 1788).

"As to the general extension of our pure faith in Hindustan there are at present
many sad obstacles to it - We may assure ourselves, that Hindus will never be
converted by any mission from the church of Rome, or from any other church;
and
the only human mode, perhaps, of causing so great a revolution, will be to
translate into Sanscrit such chapters of the Prophets, particularly of ISAIAH,
as are indisputably evangelical, together with one of the gospels, and a plain
prefatory discourse, containing full evidence of the very distant ages, in which
the predictions themselves, and the history of the Divine Person (Jesus)
predicted, were severally made public; and then quietly to disperse the work
among the well-educated natives."


Translation of Vishnu Puran by H.H. Wilson
(1786-1860). First published 1832. Printed in India by Nag Publishers, Delhi, in
1980, and reprinted in 1989.

In the preface of the Vishnu Puran, written by Mr. Wilson:
"The facility with which any tract may be thus attached to the nonexistent
original,
and the advantage that has been taken of its absence to compile a
variety of unauthentic fragments
, have given to the Brahmanda, Skanda, and
Padma,
according to Wilford, the character of being the Puranas of thieves or
imposters.
Original copies don't exist, thus all of them are made up and
unauthentic."


"There is nothing in all this to justify the application of the name. Whether a
genuine Garuda Purana exists is doubtful."
(p. lii)

"The documents (the manuscripts of the Puranas) to which Wilford trusted proved
to be in great part fabrications
, and where genuine, were mixed up with so much
loose and unauthenticated matter
, and so overwhelmed with extravagance of
speculation, that his citations need to be carefully and skillfully sifted,
before they can be serviceably employed, legends apparently invented for the
occasion renders the publication worse than useless." (p. lxx)

Some links:
http://www.salagram.net/MotiveBritishRajMissionaries.html
http://www.encyclopediaofauthentichinduism.org/articles/40_descriptions_of.htm
http://www.stephen-knapp.com/jesus_predicted_in_the_vedic_literature.htm
According to the (corrupted) Bhavishya Purana in the Pratisarag Parv III, Khand
3, Adhyay 3 Shalokas 10 to 27 Maharishi Vyas has prophesied:

"At night, he of the angelic disposition, the shrewd man (Mahamat), in the guise
of a pischacha said to Raja Bhoj, O Raja! Your Arya Dharma has been made to
prevail over all religions, but according to the commandments of Ishwar
Parmatama, I shall enforce the strong creed of the meat eaters. My followers
will be men circumcised, without a tail (on his head), keeping beard, creating a
revolution announcing Adhan (call for prayer) and will be eating all lawful
things. He will eat all sorts of animals except swine. They will not seek
purification from the holy shrubs, but will be purified through warfare. On
account of their fighting the irreligious nations, they will be known as
Musalmaans. I shall be the originator of this religion of the meat-eating
nation."

Just don't know where to start. But I'm done with the song and dance. What say
you all we clear the table!

Luckily the vedas, agamas and bakti literature are largely authentic.

Pathma

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It is true that Roman legions did much to exterminate the Etruscan religion, but
it <was annihilated> more by the advent of Christianity. Christian thinkers
regarded Etruria as the fount of all obscurantism. It has been suggested that
there was an effort to destroy all Ertruscan writings to cleanse people's
minds, because (as they saw it) the <superstitions> that lingered on were
impediments to the full embrace of Christianity. It was not unlike what
centuries later Mao Tse Dung was to do about Confucian writings in his efforts
to <modernize> the Chinese people. It is not unlike recommendations to rid the
Hindu mind of Puranic superstitions (which is good because it is unhealthy to
live with dark beliefs) and also of Puranic literature (which is bad because
that would be cultural genocide).

In fact, this is the dilemma facing the modern world (in all religious
traditions): On the one hand it is legitimate and enlightened to want to remove
the out-worn beliefs and hurtful values that still torment traditional
religions. The harsh writings of Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins
try to accomplish just this. On the other hand, if in the process we destroy
every vestige of traditional religions, especially their grand legacies in art
and music and poetry, that would be terrible indeed. The Taliban's savage
destruction of the Buddha statues was the equivalent, in a sense, of attempts to
burn the Ramayana (which some Tamil anti-Brahmin atheists have done) and the
Puranas (which some enlightened Hindus have called for).

Wisdom lies, it seems to me, in taking out the baby from the sullied water in
which it is wallowing, and throw the water out, ensuring that the baby is not
thrown out in the purifying ritual.

V. V. Raman
June 23, 2007

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#1334 - June 28, 2007 04:38 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Brahmanda Purana (BrahmNDa PurNa)


The word andam literally means an egg. Brahmnda means the immense egg (egg of
Brahm) which is a metaphorical way of describing the principle of cosmic
creation. Thus the Brahmanda Purana is to narrate, in principle, how the
universe came to be. In other words we may expect it to be a treatise on
cosmology. However, the work has a great many other stories, some more and some
less interesting than the others. The notion of brahmanda is an important
conceptual element in Hindu thought, representing the macrocosm of which each of
us is in some ways a micro-reflection.

In the Brahmanda Purana we read about the saptaloka or seven spheres: the earth,
the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, Ursa major, and the Pole Star. Here,
we also read the story of Parasurama getting into a fight with Lord Ganesha
during which his axe was broken, and, in revenge, he broke one of Ganesha's
tusks, making the God ekadanta (single-tusked). In this purana, there is also
the story of Sage Agastya who is said to have brought the Vindhya Mountains to
size since they were growing tall and proud. This rishi of modest dimensions
traveled all the way to the Tamil country. He performed penance in Kancheevaram,
and Lord Vishnu appeared before him as Hayagrva who revealed to him that the
way to attain moksha (salvation) is either by complete renunciation of
everything, or by constant worship of Vishnu in the form of the Mother Goddess.

Then there is the story of how at one time Indra became so powerful that even
Shiva lost his primacy. So he instructed Rishi Durvasa to meet Indra in heaven.
On the way Durvasa, in the attire of a mendicant, happened to encounter a
celestial nymph who, upon seeing him, paid her respects to him and gave him the
garland she had acquired at the temple. When Durvasa saw Indra riding on his
magical elephant Iravata, the rishi offered the garland to Indra who
contemptuously threw it on his elephant. The elephant threw it to the ground and
stepped over it. The enraged Durvasa cursed Indra whereby his power and grandeur
diminished considerably.

The Brahmanda Purana is famous for its Adhytma Rmyana which begins with a
prayer to Rama who is described as the light of consciousness, immaculate,
adored by the gods, and so on. The narrative is as in Valmiki. But here Rama is
Divinity more than a hero. The work evokes the bhakti sentiment more than
literary appreciation. Its advaitic leanings has led some scholars to suspect
this part to be a post-Shankara interpolation.

There are magnificent descriptions of the palaces where the Mother Goddess
resides. Called Srpuras, they are separated by seven walls of incredibly long
circumference. The mere mention of the materials of which the walls are made
reveals a knowledge of many metals: lasya (iron), tmra (copper), ssa (lead),
rakuta (bronze), pancaloha (alloy with five metals), raupya (silver), and hema
(gold).

Then there were square compounds serving different functions which are
embellished by pushyaraga (topaz), padmaraga (ruby), gomedhika (agate), vajra
(diamonds), vaidurya (cat's eye), indranla (sapphire), mukta (pearl), marakata
(emerald), vidruma (coral), mNikya (gem), and navaratna (nine precious stones).
There were also other compounds, named as of the mind (manomya), of the
intellect (buddhi), of the ego (ahamkra), of the Sun (sryabimba), of the moon
(candrabimba), of eroticism (sringra), and desire-yielding gems (cinntmaNi). I
recall all these to show the sheer splendor with precious stones and imagination
that the authors of the puranas had. It is in such conceptual grandeur of
ancient poets that one can legitimately experience the richness, color, and
magnificence of Indic lore.

V. V. Raman
June 27, 2007

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#1335 - June 28, 2007 04:39 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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The Brahma Purana


Also known as di Purana, Brahma Purana is regarded as the first of all puranas.
It is said to have been revealed by a certain Lomaharshana to an assembly of
rishis in the Naimisha Forest. But the version that we now have is probably of
much later vintage. Other puranas are said to have been revealed in the same
way.

The Rig Veda, in its Hymn of Creation (X.129) contains one of the earliest
visions of cosmogony in the Hindu world. The Brahma Purana also says that water
pervaded the primordial universe, reminding us of Thales of Miletus. It proposes
the Cosmic Egg hypothesis by which the Golden Embryo (HiraNyagarbha) emerged in
the primeval waters, from which Brahma was self-born (svayam-bh). From that egg
arose svarga (Heaven) and prithiv (the Earth). And on earth there also arose
time, language, the senses and much more at the same time.

Though categorized as a Brahmapurana, this purana also speaks of Vishnu and
Shiva. We read that Vishnu was resting on the primordial waters in a cosmic bed,
that nara means water and ayana means bed, whence Vishnu came to be invoked as
NryaNa. The birth of Uma and the deeds of Krishna are also found in this
purana, as also other interesting stories.

This purana lists the saptarishi who emerged from Brahm's mind. And it speaks
of a man called Svayambhuva Manu, and the woman called Shatarpa: One with a
hundred forms, who emerged from Brahm. Their three sons were Vira, Priyavarata,
and Uttamapada. All human beings have their origins in Manu, not unlike Adam in
the Judeo-Christian tradition. Since all came from Manu, human beings are known
as mnava (derived from Manu). These puranic views on cosmogenesis and
anthropogenesis are barely known to the masses, even scholars seldom refer to
them.

It is sometimes argued that the caste system was a creation of the invading
British. That this is not quite so may be seen in the fact that the Brahma
Purana not only mentions the four castes explicitly, but also enunciates their
respective duties. It also allows each caste to follow the profession of one or
two castes a step or two below, should an emergency situation arise.

There is mention of a certain Brahmin named Somasharma who once conducted the
ceremony of the sacred thread before he himself had become a dvij. This
grievous sin resulted in a penalty for him: upon his death he became an asura.

In this purana there are also discussions on the theory and practice of yoga.
Here may be found the definition of yoga as a meditative mode by which the
individual soul unites with the supreme one, thus enabling one to recognize the
unity behind the diversity.

According to the geography given here, at one time Bharatavarsha referred mainly
to northern India. The purana talks about Ondra (the current Orissa), and refers
to its population as religious. It gives a description of the famed Konarak
Temple around which were numerous trees, though there was much sand all around.
The mention of this temple, which is known to have been built in the 12th
century, dates the extant version of the Brahma Purana as not earlier than this
century.

The icon of Srya in the temple is called Konditya. The twelve names of ditya
(the Sun) are listed in this Purana as Indra, Dhata, Parjanya, Tvashta, Pusha,
Aryama, Bhaga, Vivasvana, Vishnu, Amashumana, Varuna and Mitra. Rules for
worshiping the Sun icon are prescribed with the assurance that this would be a
sure way of erasing all the sins of the past seven births. Early morning worship
is recommended.

V. V. Raman
June 28, 2007

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#1336 - July 05, 2007 03:25 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Linga Purana


The Linga Purana is dedicated to Shiva. It too talks about cosmogenesis. It
includes the narratives of the Varaha and the Narasimha avataras also. It
formulates the principle that all procreation involves the union of an
experiencer and an experienced, and it is by understanding the intricacies of
this mystery that one can grasp the nature of reality.

The purana contains some omen-mongering assertions: If one can't spot the Pole
Star one will die in a year, a dream in which gold is vomited means ten more
months to live, if there is a sudden loss or gain in weight, there are but eight
months to live, etc.

Among the cities the purana lists as sacred the first is Varanasi, for it was
there that Shiva himself lives with Parvati and Ganesha. There are five other
such sacred spots: Kurukshetra, Shriparvata, Mahalaya, Tungeshvara, and Kedara.

In this purana we find a thousand names for Shiva, such as: Bhava, Ishna,
Ganeshvara, Vishvamrt, Suresha. Pashupati, Bhtavhana, Nlagrva, and
Achintya, suggesting that (by now) Shiva is essentially a Sanskritic deity.

The Linga Purana talks about the yuga system of reckoning eons, and says that
during Kali Yuga Shiva appears as an avatara. It is said that there have been
twenty-eight Kali Yugas during the present kalpa. The twenty-eight avataras of
Shiva, called Yogeshvaras, are listed. They bear such names as Shveta, Madana,
Kanchana, Dadhivahana, Gautama, and Sahisnu. This purana also gives the names of
the rulers of the solar and lunar dynasties (Suryavamsa and Chandravamsa).

In one episode, when Brahma and Vishnu were engaged in a combat, there arose a
bright linga. It seemed to be rising indefinitely upward, as well as downward.
Intrigued by this, Brahma took on the aspect of a swan and flew up. Vishnu took
on the form of a boar (varaha) and dug downward. But neither of them could find
an end-point to the linga in either direction. What is interesting here is the
concept of linear infinity (one-dimensional unbounded Euclidean space): a
straight line that extends indefinitely in either direction, a geometrically
sophisticated idea. Brahma and Vishnu realized this was an extraordinary power,
and they prayed to the linga with a resounding aum. At this point Shiva emerged
from the linga as the sage Vedanama who explained that the linga was the source
of cosmogenesis, for it was from there that the brahmnda (primordial egg) came.
Shiva initiated Brahma and Vishnu to the gayatri mantra, explained that Brahma,
Vishnu, and Shiva were all one and the same, just three manifestations of the
same Brahman.

The purana says that Shiva's consort is to Shiva what word (instrument) is to
meaning (substance). This reflection on word and meaning is a profound one. Then
again, Shiva is described as the Lord of Creatures (pashupati). The twenty-four
tattvas (life-principles) are the pshas (reins).

In another story Vishnu claims to be the lord of everything, including Brahma,
for which he is reprimanded by a certain Virabhadra who declares that it is
Shiva who is the most supreme. Then there is the story of Tarakasura who was
going on a rampage, waging war on Vishnu for twenty thousand years. It was to
get rid of this asura was Karttikeya was born to Shiva and Parvati.

In another story, pleased with the munis of Devedaru forest, Shiva visited the
place, in the guise of a naked ugly ascetic. But the wives of the hermits were
drawn to him. The angry hermits spoke to Shiva in harsh terms. When they told
Brahma about this, the latter rebuked them, saying it was Shiva who had gone to
test them. They had forgotten the sacred rule that no guest is to be treated
with dishonor.

Whether such obviously sectarian stories were the causes or effects of
sectarian rivalries, it is hard to say.

V. V. Raman
July 4, 2007

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#1337 - July 07, 2007 12:03 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Kurma Purana (Krma PurNa)


Of the principal avataras of Vishnu on earth, the kurma (tortoise) avatara was
one. The Kurma Purana derives its name from the sacred historical fact that it
was narrated to Narada by Vishnu himself when he had taken on this aspect. What
is chronologically inconsistent is that other (yet to occur) avataras, including
that of Rama, are narrated here, let alone expositions of the greatness of
Varanasi, Prayag, and holy rivers.

This purana narrates the famous episode of the churning of the ocean (samudra
mathana), talks about king Indradyumna who was re-born as a Brahmin to whom the
Goddess Lakshmi once appeared. Indradyumna wanted to know who she was, and
Lakshmi told him that she was none other than Vishnu, and that she was Vishnu's
power of my through which the physical universe is generated.

The purana talks about castes and their origins. It prescribes the duties of
each. It talks about the four ashramas or stages in life, and the corresponding
responsibilities: brahmacharya (celibate student stage) for the study of
scriptures and service of the guru; garhasthya or grahasthya (house-holder
stage) when one is to continue studying, serve guests, give alms, keep the yaja
fire burning at home, raising a family, etc. Next comes vanaprastha
(forest-dwelling stage) during which one studies the scriptures, meditates, and
lives on fruits and roots. In the final sannyasa (renunciant- stage) one curbs
all desires and meditates on the Divine. In this stage one lives on the charity
of householders: this was the ancient equivalent of the Social Security Service
system in the United States where householders (working people) contribute
moneys which are used to maintained retired people. This ideal caturshrama as
described here is primarily for the dvijas.

The purana says there are anti-Vedic religious texts in the world. Those who
adopt them are bound to go to naraka (the nether world).

We also have here a version of the classic Daksha episode. Recall that Daksha
was Brahma's son. One of his daughters was Sati, and she was married to Shiva.
Once, during a visit to Shiva, Daksha felt slighted, and for this he chastised
his daughter severely, saying that she had a terrible husband. Hearing this,
Sati immolated herself. This gave her name to the practice of widow
self-immolation. Shiva, in turn, cursed Daksha to be re-born as the son of the
Kshatriya Prachetas. Sati was re-born as the daughter of Himavana: Parvati. The
Kurma Purana contains a thousand names for Parvati. The list includes
Paramashakti, Avyaya, Vidya, Satya, Amritabh, Shanti, Chinmayi, Tamasi,
Vishala, Mahagarbha, Soumya, Jaganmata, and more which are Hindu names for
girls.

This purana also gives a whole section on time-classification from nimisha,
kashtha and kala to yana, yuga, and kalpa.

There are stories in this purana which reflect poorly on some rishis, and even
on the gods. The story of Gotama is one such. This man had been generous to many
rishis, but was made to suffer by the ungrateful rishis out of sheer jealousy.

The story of Hiranyakashipu, his four sons Prahlada, Anuhrada, Samhrada and
Hrada, and of the Narasimha avatara is also recounted in this purana.

Then there is the story of Andhaka, who, while Shiva was away, tried to abduct
Parvati who was protected by the Nandi-bull. Nandi used his trident to keep
Andhaka away. But this demon generated a thousand more like himself, and they
went on a rampage. Finally they were all killed by Shiva and Vishnu.

The purana gives the etymology of Rudra as from the root rud, to weep: He is
Rudra because he causes people to cry.

V. V. Raman
July 6, 2007

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Markandeya Purana (MrkanDeya)


The Markandeya Purana is reckoned as one of the most important, if not the most
ancient of all the Puranas: important because it narrates stories from the
tradition without being sectarian, and ancient because it speaks about Agni and
Surya rather than Shiva and Vishnu. In a homage to the Sun, the Markandeya
Purana says:

"I pay obeisance to the embodiment of the universe, the light on which the
practitioners of yoga meditate." It describes the sun as the matter of which the
gods are the soul. It says that the river Yamuna is a manifestation on earth of
Yam, the sister of Yama. In its vision, India is said to be resting on the back
of a huge tortoise (Krma) which sounds like the modern view of tectonic plates.
In recounting the story of Datttreya, it describes how the gods described that
sage: "No blemish can stain the heart which has been awakened by true learning
and wherein the light of knowledge has penetrated." How applicable this is to
many enlightened souls!

This is the only purana that is named after a person: Markandeya, an eminent
rishi who is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The context of the purana is as
follows. The sage Jaimini once went to Markandeya with four questions relating
to the Mahabharata. The first was why it was that Divinity, the ultimate source
of the whole universe, came down as an avatara here below. The second related
to Draupadi's polyandry. The third question had to do with Balarama's
brahminicide, and how this was expiated. Finally there was the question about
the premature death of Draupadi's sons.

Sage Markandeya replied that he was too busy at the time to answer the
questions, and directed Jaimini to certain magical birds, which could recite the
entire epic, for they would be able to answer them. Then he went on to explain
how those birds (which were actually incarnations of heavenly beings) happened
to possess such knowledge. Birds have a special significance in Hindu mythic
visions.

The interesting story of Vipashchit occurs in this purana. Vipashchit was an
honorable king who, nevertheless, was dispatched to the nether world. The reason
for this harsh punishment was that he had not been with his wife at a time when
she could have conceived. In this context Yama (the God of justice) explains the
consequences of one's karma. After a brief period in Hell, Vipashchit was going
to be taken away from there to Heaven. But the dwellers in Hell pleaded with him
not to go because his breath somehow assuaged the torture they were undergoing.
So Vipashchit refused to leave. But the Lord of Dharma insisted he should go to
Heaven for that is what his karma had earned him, as the denizens of Hell were
reaping their karma. The number of good deeds he had done was like the number of
drops of water in the ocean and stars in the skies and sand grains in the
Ganga. Vipashchit said those poor souls were not sinners but sufferers, and
insisted on staying with them. Finally Yama agreed to allow them all to enter
Heaven with him.

This is a beautiful story showing the nobility of compassion and self-sacrifice.
Legends like this reveal the lofty ethical heights which some ancient Hindu
thinkers reached. The morals in puranic legends are more sublime than the
legends themselves.

In this purana we read a gruesome description of the black goddess CmunD who
is said to have sprung from the forehead of Durga. She wore a garland of
corpses, and her garb was an elephant-hide. Her tongue hung out of her open
mouth, and her eyes were blood-shot. The interpolated version of Markandeya
purana contains the famous Devmahtmya which is one of the classic hymns
devoted to the goddess Durga. It is recited to this day during the festival of
Durga, especially in Bengal.

V. V. Raman
July 9, 2007

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Narada Purana (Nrada)


This purana is named after sage Narada, the universal traveler who went, not
just from place to place here on earth, but from sphere to celestial sphere. The
notion of a jet-setter in cosmic terms in implicit in this major personage in
Hindu lore. The sage is also known affectionately as a trouble maker. There is a
story in the Bhagavata Purana to the effect that the sage once instigated Vayu
(the Wind-God) to chop off the top of Mount Meru. Vishnu's vahana Garuda spread
his wings and protected the mountain. But, at a time when Garuda was absent,
Vayu succeeded. A slice of Mount Meru flew off and fell in the ocean in the
distant south of the subcontinent, giving rise to the island of Sri Lanka.

According to the Brahma Vaivaitara Purana, Narada was condemned by Brahma to a
solitary life of sensuality, but the Mahabharata says that he married the
daughter of Srijaya. Puranic references to mythic personages are not always
mutually compatible.

The Narada Purana, generally regarded as the extension of a more ancient and
highly sectarian work called Brihnnradya PurNa, is more interesting than the
one which is regarded as its source. The latter is unabashedly sectarian.

The traditional assignment of roles to the trimurti in Hindu cosmology are
spelled out in this purana, along with the manifestations of Shakti. Thus Brahma
and Sarasvati are responsible for srishti (creation), Vishnu and Lakshmi for
sthiti (sustenance), and Shiva and Parvati for laya (dissolution)

The Narada Purana gives us a version of ancient Hindu cosmography and geography.
According to it, there are fourteen realms in the universe, seven higher and
seven lower. The higher realms are known as bhloka, bhuvarloka, svarloka,
maharloka, janoloka, tapoloka, and satyaloka, while the lower realms are called
tala, vitla, sutla ,talatla, mahtla, rastla and ptla. All these worlds
are inhabited by different beings. Our earth (bhloka) has seven land masses and
seven oceans. The land masses are called Jambudvipa, Plakshadvipa,
Shalmaladvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa and Pushkaradvipa. The
seven seas have the names Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpih, Dadhi, Dughdha and Jala.
The purana says that those who are born in Bharatavarsha, which describes as
karmabhmi, work without thinking of the fruits of their actions (nishkama
karma). Lands where only enjoyment is in the minds of people are called
bhogabhmi. Those born in Bharatavasrha are very fortunate, the purana says.
This is an ancient version of Sare jahan se accha ... and America the Beautiful.
Many Indian rivers, such as Godavari, Sarasvati, Kaveri and Shatadru are listed
as sacred. But Ganga is the most sacred of them all. We read that one who
anoints himself with the clay from the bank of Ganga becomes like Shiva.

The purana prescribes punishments for various sins, but these depend on the
caste of the perpetrator. The worst sin is the killing of a Brahmin by a shudra;
the corresponding penalty is also terrible, and highly offensive to shudras.

The Narada Purana says that Shakti divided herself into Vidya (knowledge of the
identity between Brahman and the Cosmos) and Avidya (Ignorance of this). In her
different aspects Shakti is known as Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Uma.

The names of the pancabhutas are given in this purana as kshiti (earth), apa
(water), teja (energy), marut (wind)and vyoma (sky).

We read in the Narada Purana that Markandeya - son of Mrikundu - was the only
one who survived the flood, and that he floated on the waters "like a dried up
leaf" for a thousand mahayugas. In this context the purana gives its yuga
measurement of time.

V. V. Raman
July 13, 2007

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Vamana Purana (Vmana)


The Vamana Purana derives its name from the Vamana (dwarf) avarata of Vishnu.

There is the long story of Vamana's arrival in Kurukshetra where Bali was
performing a sacrifice. When asked why he had come there, Vamana said he wished
to make a sacrifice for which he needed a small piece of land in the measure of
only three steps that he would take. Bali's counselor Shukracharya had advised
him against making any hasty promises to Vamana. Nevertheless, Bali agreed to
give Vamana three steps of land. No sooner did he make this promise than Vamana
grew to his cosmic expanse. In one step he covered the entire earth. The second
step swept the higher realms. There was no place for the third step. Bali
offered his own head for that. When Vishnu put his foot on Bali's head, the
latter was pushed into ptla, suggesting that Vishnu covered the nether world
too. The story beautifully illustrates the all-pervading grandeur of the Divine,
and the limited intelligence of the rest of us.

This powerful myth is retold in various ways in the Bhagavata Purana, the Matsya
Purana, the Agni Purana, the Padma Purana and the Brahma Purana.

In the Vamana Purana we read about the fabulous city of immeasurable wealth and
abundance in the nether world that was built by Vishvakarma for the demon Bali.
While the hedonists there were in the height of sensual pleasures, Vishnu's
sudarshana chakra entered Bali's palace and, after dimming all their radiance,
it returned to its source. Then, in accordance with the advice of his
grandfather Prahlada, Bali arranged to build a magnificent temple for Vishnu and
Lakshmi where he prayed regularly.

Another story we read in this purana says that Vishnu discovered Shiva with
three eyes, wearing a rudrksha and holding a trishla (trident). There is also
a confrontation between Shiva and Brahma, each being insulted by the query of
the other as to their respective identity and origin. In this context, Shiva
severed one of Brahma's five heads. Shiva regretted this act and went to Vishnu
for redress. Vishnu asked Shiva to hit Vishnu's left arm with his trident. When
this was done three mighty rivers results. The first was Akshganga (the Milky
Way) in the heavens; the second was the river Mandakini. And a third one fell on
Shiva's head, which eventually became Ganga.

As per this purana, the Maruts were the sons of Kashyapa and Aditi. The puranic
etymology of Maruts is found here too. They are said to have been weeping, when
they were told, "M rud! Do not cry! oh powerful ones! You will be called
Maruts."

It is said that a certain Sukeshi, who had received blessings of invincibility
from Shiva, once asked some sages for the secret of respectability and
contentment. The answer was that one had to follow dharma. But what is dharma?
The answer was that dharma included performing rituals, studying various things,
especially the Vedas, and devotion to both Vishnu and Shiva. The demons had
qualities like jealousy and envy, but they were also devoted to Shiva, the sages
added.

Then he wanted to know about naraka (hell). He was told there are 21 hells, and
these were listed as Raurav, Maharaurav, Taamistra, Andhataamistra, Kaalchakra,
Aprathisth, Ghatiyantra, Asipatravan, Taptakumbh, Kootshaalmali, Karpatra,
Swabhojan, Sandansh, Lohapind, Kalmasikta, Kshaarnadi, Krimibhojan,
Vaitarninadi, Shonitpayabhojan, Kshuraagradhaar, Nishitachakra and Sanshoshan. I
doubt that any other mythology has such a rich classification of hell.

Five special names for Vishnu are given in the Vamana Purana: KraNavmana,
NryaNa, Amitvrikrama, Shrgangadhkra, and Charkrin.

V. V. Raman
July 20, 2007

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Varaha Purana (Varha)


The Varaha Purana's title refers to the third avatara of Vishnu. It is said that
at one time the demonic Hiranyksha carried away Prithiv to a different realm.
Vishnu, descending in the boar form, (Varaha avatara) rescued her from there.
The astounded Prithiv then posed many questions to Vishnu about cosmogenesis
and its ultimate fate. Vishnu opened wide his mouth and in there Prithiv could
see all the splendor of the cosmos, as astronomers do when they peer into a
powerful telescope.

The avataras of Matsya, Balarama, and Kalki are also recalled here. In other
words, as we have been seeing, many legends overlap in Puranic literature.

In its creation story we read that at first there was total darkness. Then arose
five types of ignorance: tamasa (inertia), moha (confusion), mahamoha (great
confusion), tmisra (darkness), andhatmisra (pitch-darkness). Then were created
immovable things like mountains and trees. These are called mukhya sarga
(principal creations). Then followed tiryaksrota (quadrupeds), after which came
the satvik ones: deities. Humans came after these as arvksrota. Only then were
the anuraghs (sages and seers) created. After this arose the kumaras (adolescent
beings). Finally, ten mind-born sons of Brahma arose: Marichi, Angira,
Atri,Pulah, Kratu, Pulasya, Pracheta, Bhrigu, Narada and Vashishtha. Initially,
Brahma had created Ardhanarishvar (half male and half female). It was Rudra who
split himself into a male and a female.

As in other puranas there, are a great many legends here too. The story of
Naciketas (which is also in Kathopinshad) is presented here. In this context
there is a listing of some of the sins that will take one straight to hell.
These range from lying, greed and jealousy to criticizing one's teacher or the
Vedas and selling alcoholic drinks. Here we read details of heaven and hell. Th
city of Yama is said to be made of Gold. It has two separate entrances: one for
the saintly ones and one for sinners. There are rivers in Yama's abode, but also
screams of agony from the sinners who are being tortured. Just as there is the
picture of a joyous pleasure-filled heaven, there is also one of an extremely
painful and torturous hell as in the other major religions of the world. [By and
large, most Hindus of the modern age, even those believing in heaven and hell,
have no inkling of how these are described in some of the puranas.]

A story about Ganesha: Once the deities went to Shiva for redressing some
difficulties. They were invariably encountering hurdles in their undertakings.
Shiva is said to have laughed when he heard this, and from his mouth a divine
and lovely child emerged. Parvati was so charmed by it, she stared at it without
closing her eyelids even for a moment. Shiva became jealous and angry and cursed
the child to have the face of an elephant and also a pot belly. He also cursed
the child to have a snake around his shoulders. It is difficult to know if such
tales were spun in amusement or in seriousness.

There is also in this context a beautiful hymn dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
Likewise, there is a whole Mahatmya on Mathura, the city where Lord Krishna was
born.

In this purana we find a recipe for an offering to Vishnu. Called madhupark, it
is made up of honey, curd, and ghee. God's name should be chanted while it is
being made. One attains salvation by properly offering it to the Divine. This
purana gives rules for worship, for obsequies, and also for the installation of
idols. Here we read that the svastika mark must be etched on the forehead of
the icon. The swastika mark is a sign of auspiciousness; so the devotee must
keep this in mind while giving shape to the idol. This swastika mark must be
carved out on the idol.

V. V. Raman
July 23, 2007

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#1343 - July 27, 2007 11:55 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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excerpts.


ARE HINDUS COWARDS?


Madan L. Goel, lgoel@... , www.uwf.edu/lgoel
Professor of Political Science, Florida

That "Hindus are cowards" is a theme which has been repeated ad nauseam.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote: "Hindus are cowards and Muslims are bullies." A large
number of Hindus themselves accept this epithet. Nothing could be farther
from the truth. History does not bear out the conclusion.

A brief review of Islamic expansion is necessary.

Islam may be dated to 610 AD, when Mohammad began having conversations with
Archangel Gabriel. Mohammad's message one true God named Allah attracted a
number of followers. But the leaders of Mecca rejected his new teaching.
Conflict ensued. In 622, Mohammad was forced to flee to Medina, some 240
miles to the North. Mohammad became the leader of Medina and within a few
years felt emboldened to raid Meccan caravans. Mecca signed a treaty of
friendship and allowed Muslims to enter the city for pilgrimage. This
treaty, however, was abrogated two years later. Muhammad captured Mecca in
a bold move. He was now an unchallenged leader. By the time Mohammad died
in 632 AD at age 62, he had become the supreme figure in all of Arabia.

Muslim conquests did not stop with the death of Mohammad. Within two years,
the holy warriors attacked and conquered the two very powerful empires of
the period: Byzantium and Persia. It seemed that, armed with faith in
Allah, nothing could stop the soldiers of Islam. In 712, Arabs captured a
slice of Sindh on the frontiers of India. In 715 they took Spain after
decimating North Africa.

In less than 100 years after Mohammad's death, the Islamic rule stretched
from the frontiers of India all the way to Spain. Victories resumed after a
hiatus of three centuries. Believers captured Anatolia (Turkey) in 1071,
the throne of Delhi in 1201, and Constantinople in 1453. The Ottomans, once
established in Constantinople, took over the countries of Eastern Europe
including the Balkans . Only in 1683 did the clock turn when the Turks
failed in their siege of Vienna and retreated.

Islam's rapid rise from insignificance to vast international empire had a
touch of the miraculous. How could the Muslims have attained all this if God
was not on their side? The fabulous military victories demonstrated to the
faithful God's pleasure with their ways and displeasure with the ways of the
infidel.

Observation

Islam's conquest of India was incomplete. The South in India never fully
fell under Islam. Majority of the Indians continued being Hindu and
maintained their culture even though they labored under Islamic weight.
Contrast the situation in India with Islamic conquest of Byzantium,
Constantinople, Persia, Egypt, North Africa and Eastern Europe (Albania,
Bosnia, Kosovo, etc). Here, the local cultures and indigenous religious
groups (Pagans, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians) could not and did not
withstand Islamic pressure and they succumbed. The Berbers of North Africa
(the dominant ethnic strain in Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, etc) have
been Arabized. Africans in northern Sudan identify themselves as Arabs.

The Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul (in Beyond Belief) observed that the Arabs
were the most successful colonizers in the world. Arabic becomes a sacred
language for over a billion people. They pray while facing towards Mecca.

The failure of Islam in India was lamented by Altaf Hussein Hali
(1834-1914), who otherwise sang the praises of Islam. In his famous poem
called Mussadas, which now is a required reading in many Pakistani schools,
Hali lamented as follows.

That fearless fleet of Hijaz (Bagdad),
Whose mark reached the extreme limits of the world
Which no hesitation could obstruct
Which did not falter in the Gulf of Oman or in the Red Sea
That Hijazi fleet which spanned the seven seas
Lies shattered in the mouth of the Ganges

Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal (1873-1938) also lamented that Hindus (Kafirs)
prospered while the Muslims were backward and poor. In his long poem Shikwa
(Complaint), Iqbal penned the following famous lines:

Allah, do you know that none sang your story
It is the strength of the Muslim that spread your glory . . .

The shameful thing is that Kafirs enjoy Houries in this life
But Poor Muslims have only a promise of Houries in after life

When temples and shrines were being destroyed, Hindus turned within and
produced the most lyrical devotional poetry. Mirabai, Kabir, Guru Nanak,
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Surdas, Ravidas, Tulsidas, these and many more
composed their poems during Muslim ascendancy in India. It is easier to
bring down temple walls. How do you bring down the shakti encased in
shlokas and bhajans? Who survives after 500 years? Mighty Babar or Guru
Nanak?

Hindus should give up the false notion that they succumbed miserably before
the Muslim or British colonization. Shivaji defeated a Mughal army in 1660;
Europe followed in defeating the Turks in 1683 (on 9/11/1683, mark the date)
at Vienna. India was the first country in all of Asia and Africa to throw
off the British colonial yoke in 1947. Independence in Afro-Asia followed
only after India succeeded.

Today the headlines dominate the threat from monotheistic, closed
ideologies, especially radical Islam. Quietly without firing a shot,
however, Indian ideas are resurgent in the globe. From 10 to 20 percent of
the American populace subscribe to New Thought spiritual philosophies
derived largely from Vedanta. The 21st century may well be an Indian
century, not because of India's growing economic might, but because of its
perennial philosophy.

See the last part of my article "Oneness in Hinduism" at: www.uwf.edu/lgoel

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Vayu Purana (Vyu)


The Vayu Purana is so called because it is said to have been recited by the Wind
God Vayu. In its creation story the cosmic egg is said to have contained the
earth and the planets, the deities and everything else in the universe, all
implicit and unmanifest.

The purana gives the yuga classification, giving descriptions of each. Thus, for
example, in the satya yuga there were no seasons or even rain. The people were
beautiful and prosperous and cheerful. Everyone was dharmic. The earth produced
juices which kept people healthy and youthful. There were no vices, not even
anger and jealousy.

In the next (treta) yuga, people's attention changed from dhyana (meditation) to
jana (pursuit of knowledge). Trees (kalpavrikshas) grew with fruits on them.
Their barks were used for covering the body. But slowly vices affected people.
People began to fight over ownership of trees. They began to build houses,
leading to measuring systems which ranged from angulis (finger-length) to
yojanas which were 8,000 dhanus (bow-lengths). Villages and cities came to be.
Herbs and grains grew. It was then that chaturvarna (four-caste system) began.
Brahmins who knew the nature of Brahman, Kshatriyas who bore arms and protected
the good and punished evil forces, Vaishyas who were dedicated to agriculture
and trade, and shudras who were to serve the others. And so on.

This is one of the puranas where one learns that a kalpa consists of 4.32
billion years. It gives still more inconceivable time periods. Thus, a thousand
kalpas constitute a Brahma-year. Eight thousand kalpas make a yuga for Brahma. A
thousand yugas make a savana. A trivita is two thousand savanas, and this is a
measure of the longevity of Brahma. The purana also lists the names of more
than thirty kalpas. These include names like Bhava, Havyavahana, Oushika,
Vairaja, Akuti, and Krishna.

While four-headed Brahma created mortal beings, Shiva created the immortal
Rudras. But Shiva also taught yoga to one and all whose goal is to unite the
jivatman with the paramatman. This purana lists five rather than the customary
eight aspects of yoga: pranayama (breath-control), dhyana (concentration of
mind), pratyahara (control of senses), dharana, and smarana. We are warned that
if one does yoga ignoring the strict prescriptions, without proper guidance and
at places at random, consequences would be disastrous: deafness, blindness,
insanity, etc.

Aside from legends like that of Daksha and Sati, the Vayu Purana has also its
fantastic stories, such as that of King Vrihadashva who had twenty-one thousand
sons, and of the demon Dhundhu. When Dhundhu exhaled - which was just once a
year - blinding sand storms were generated, as also earthquakes lasting a week.
Then there is an episode in which Dhanvantari, who emerged during the churning
of the ocean and is said to have brought medical science to humanity, asks
Vishnu to give him a place amidst the gods. Perhaps this story is to suggest
that medicine may be regarded as equal to the nectar of the gods in that it
saves human lives and reduces human pains.

The sacred histories of Parashu-Rama as well as of Dattatreya are told in this
purana. The number of apsarases is countless, and they form different gaNas. In
Hindu lore there are supernatural beings of all kinds. One group of ferocious
beings are the ytudhnas. The Vayu Purana gives the names of twelve of them.
It also gives a list of fourteen gaNas. There are some internal inconsistencies
in the stories, suggesting that the whole purana was not written by a single
author.

Shiva Purana is a variation of Vayu Purana. Whereas a Vayu Purana is
mentioned in the Mahabharata, the Shiva Purana refers to Gupta kings of the 4th
century C.E.

V. V. Raman
July 25, 2007

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Vishnu Purana (VishNu)


The Vishnu Purana is reckoned as one of the oldest of the puranas. It is the
quintessential source of Vaishnava worldview and worship. Indeed, it is also
known as Vaishnava Purana. It enjoys the highest esteem among Vaishnavas, and is
referred to as Purana Ratna: purana gem. It is mentioned in the writings of the
great Vaishnava philosopher-saint Sri Ramanuja.

Here too we read about cosmogenesis, yuga classification, and sacred geography:
The golden Mount Meru is the abode of the Gods and Jambudvipa is the Indian
subcontinent. Some of the episodes from Hindu sacred history, such as the
churning of the ocean are told. There is a poetic description of Lakshmi. In the
Prahlda-story occurs a formulation of the highest ethical principle: One who
causes pain to others through thought, word, or deed sows the seeds of a future
birth which will be wrought with pain. Another interesting injunction here is
that truth should always be spoken except when it has the potential for hurting
people, in which case one should not say anything. The Vishnu Purana narrates
the story of Dhruva whose intense and unwavering meditation on Vishnu
immortalized him as the fixed star Dhruva (Pole Star).

The purana talks about the four varnas and their respective responsibilities, as
also the four ashramas. In this context it prescribes some rules of conduct for
the householder. Aside from worshiping gods and cows, one should respect wise
and learned people. One shouldn't steal or lie, nor point to the faults of
others. We also read here some other rather interesting injunctions: One
shouldn't climb a tree, nor yawn without covering one's mouth, and one should
meticulously avoid the shadows of divine icons and flags. It is important to
pay obeisance to a divine symbol before stepping out of the house. It is
interesting that many of these principles are followed to this day in the Hindu
world. Many rituals for sacraments, such as wedding and funeral, are spelled out
in detail, and these too are adhered to in our own times.

One surprising item mentioned in the Vishnu Purana about the shraddha (funerary)
ceremony is this: An odd number of Brahmins must be fed. If the food is simple,
the departed souls are satisfied for a whole month. If it has fish, they are
satisfied for two months. Rabbit meat will satisfy them for three months, fowl
for four months, pork for five months, mutton for six months, venison for seven
months, and so on, including lamb and beef. But the meat of the vardhinasa bird
will satisfy them for ever. Some have suggested that this might be a desachra:
interpolation to suit local customs.

The Vishnu Purana is sectarian, emphasizing the primacy of Lord Vishnu. It
regards Brahma and Shiva as aspects of Vishnu. It is also explicit in its
condemnation of Buddhism and Jainism which are regarded as heretical creeds
(from the Hindu perspective). It warns its adherents against interactions with
such blasphemous sects with the story of the devout Vaishnava king Shatadhanu
who once exchanged a conversation with a heretic, for which offense he was
reborn variously as lowly beasts and birds.

The Vishnu Purana says that Kubera was the grandson of Rishi Bharadvaja. Also,
Vishnu's chakra represents the universal mind, his arrows are the senses.
Vishnu's garland (Vaijayantimala) with five rows of flowers represents stands
for the five senses. Earthquakes and tidal waves result when Vishnu's serpent
Ananta yawns.

The Vishnu Purana says how all the puranas came. They were revealed to a rishi
from Patala, who gave them to Pramati who gave them to Jatukarna. Then they
spread to many rishis. Finally, it was through Rishi Vashishtha and Parashara
that the Vishnu Purana came down to us.

V. V. Raman
August 1, 2007

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#1346 - August 04, 2007 09:46 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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The Upanishads

The four Vedas are the foundational texts of Hinduism. They consist of long and
complex hymns. They extol the Gods of Nature, reflect on laws and human destiny,
speak about austerities and sacrifice, express universal values, speculate on
cosmogenesis, and more. They are clearly the spiritual visions of ancient sage
poets, religious at the core.

Many thinkers in ancient India reflected on the nature of reality and the soul,
and on the goal of the Vedas. Their works may be regarded as philosophy rather
than religion. They shifted attention from prayer to reflection, from directing
their thoughts on this god or that to meditating about the self and the soul,
the individual and the supreme. The works of these ancient Hindu sages are known
as the Upanishads. They constitute what is regarded in the tradition as one of
the three pillars of Hindu spirituality.

The word Upanishad literally means sitting nearby, suggesting that they were
teachings more than the preaching of the wise. One may picture a revered guru,
sitting in the shade of an expansive tree, perhaps on the banks of a sacred
river, with a group of young minds sitting in his vicinity, trying to absorb the
master's insights. Somehow many of these early lessons were recited and
recorded.

Scholars have identified more than a hundred Upanishads bearing such names as
Kena, Arthavashiras, Subla, Tejobindu, NirvNa, Mah, Akshi, Bhvan, GaNapati,
Trasra, Jbli, Muktika, and a hundred more. Of these, eleven have become the
Principal Upanishads since the master metaphysician Shankara wrote commentaries
on them. According to one traditional reckoning, there were at one time 900
Upanishads.

The Upanishadic thinkers probed into the question of what is permanent in a
world where everything changes and perishes. Interestingly, this is also one of
the fundamental quests in the physicist's exploration of the world. From the
point of view of modern physics, there are two sets of entities that remain
unchanging over time: the laws of nature and the conserved quantities
(matter-energy, momentum, etc.). For the Upanishadic seers it is Brahman. The
essence of the Upanishads in fairly simple, but quite profound, no less. It is
simply that we are, one and all, sparks of the same divine cosmic fire. Some of
the cosmological speculations in the Upanishads remind us of pre-Socratic Greek
philosophers. Thus, for example we read about water being at the origin of the
universe (Thales), or fire (Heraclitus).

Now there are two ways of considering the Upanishads: The first is to regard
them as revealed transcendental truths about ultimate reality, and as such are
to be taken unquestioningly. The second is to consider them as the reflections
of extraordinarily brilliant minds on the most fundamental mysteries pertaining
to the cosmos and human existence. Each reader may choose her own approach to
these great compositions which, like the puranas, have exerted considerable
influence on the shaping of the Hindu mind, and on provoking fascinating views
on many thinkers beyond India.

The Upanishads date back to B.C.E, but they were translated into another
language only in the 17th century. This was into Persian, at the instruction of
first of Dara Shikoh who was the brother of the Mogul emperor Aurangazeb. It was
from this Persian version that they were first translated into some European
languages. The ideas in the Upanishads impressed some scholars in Europe and in
America. In particular, Arthur Schopenhauer held the Upanishadic ideas in the
highest esteem, and Ralph Waldo Emerson was inspired by them also.

V. V. Raman
August 3, 2007

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#1347 - August 20, 2007 10:51 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Christianity's Similarities with Hinduism

From "Proof of Vedic Culture's Global Existence" by Stephen Knapp

You may find it surprising that much of Christianity originated from India. Indeed, over the centuries, numerous historians and sages have pointed out that not only has Hinduism had a predominant influence on Christianity, but that many of the Christian rites could be directly borrowed from Hindu (Vedic) India.

French historian Alain Danielou had noticed as early as 1950 that "a great number of events which surround the birth of Christ - as it is related in the Gospels - strangely reminded us of Buddha's and Krishna's legends." Danielou quotes as examples the structure of the Christian Church, which resembles that of the Buddhist Chaitya; the rigorous asceticism of certain early Christian sects, which reminds one of the asceticism of Jain and Buddhist saints; the veneration of relics, the usage of holy water, which is an Indian practice, and the word "Amen," which comes from the Hindu (Sanskrit) "OM."

Another historian, Belgium's Konraad Elst, also remarks "that many early Christian saints, such as Hippolytus of Rome, possessed an intimate knowledge of Brahmanism." Elst even quotes the famous Saint Augustine who wrote: "We never cease to look towards India, where many things are proposed to our admiration."

Unfortunately, remarks American Indianist David Frawley, "from the second century onwards, Christian leaders decided to break away from the Hindu influence and show that Christianity only started with the birth of Christ." Hence, many later saints began branding Brahmins as "heretics," and Saint Gregory set a future trend by publicly destroying the "pagan" idols of the Hindus.

Great Indian sages, such as Sri Aurobindu and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, have often remarked that the stories recounting how Jesus came to India to be initiated are probably true. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar notes, for instance, that Jesus sometimes wore an orange robe, the Hindu symbol of renunciation of the world, which was not a usual practice in Judaism. "In the same way," he continues, "the worshiping of Virgin Mary in Catholicism is probably borrowed from the Hindu cult of Devi." Bells too, which cannot be found today in Synagogues, the surviving form of Judaism, are used in church-and we all know their importance in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years, even up to the present day.

There are many other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity, including the use of incense, sacred bread (prasadam), the different altars around churches (which recall the manifold deities in their niches inside Hindu temples), reciting prayers on the rosary (Vedic japamala), the Christian Trinity (the ancient Vedic trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as the creator, maintainer and destroyer respectively, as well as Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord, the all-pervading Brahman as the holy ghost, and Paramatma as the expansion or son of the Lord), Christian processions, and the use of the sign of the cross (anganyasa), and so many others.

In fact, Hinduism's pervading influence seems to go much earlier than Christianity. American mathematician, A. Seindenberg, has, for example, shown that the Shulbasutras, the ancient Vedic science of mathematics, constitute the source of mathematics in the antique world of Babylon to Greece: "The arithmetic equations of the Shulbasutras were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians as well as in the edification of Egyptian pyramids, in particular the funeral altar in the form of pyramid known in the Vedic world as smasana-cit."
In astronomy too, the "Indus" (from the valley of the Indus) have left a universal legacy, determining for instance the dates of solstices, as noted by 18th century French astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly: "The movement of stars which was calculated by Hindus 4,500 years ago, does not differ even by a minute from the tables which we are using today." And he concludes: "The Hindu systems of astronomy are much more ancient than those of the Egyptians-even the Jews derive from the Hindus their knowledge."

There is also no doubt that the Greeks heavily borrowed from the "Indus." Danielou notes that the Greek cult of Dionysus, which later became Bacchus with the Romans, is a branch of Shaivism: "Greeks spoke of India as the sacred territory of Dionysus, and even historians of Alexander the Great identified the Indian Shiva with Dionysus and mention the dates and legends of the Puranas." French philosopher and Le Monde journalist Jean-Paul Droit recently wrote in his book, The Forgetfulness of India, that "the Greeks loved so much Indian philosophy that Demetrios Galianos had even translated the Bhagavad-gita."

Many Western and Christian historians have tried to nullify this India influence on Christians and ancient Greece by saying that it is the West through the Aryan invasion, and later the onslaught of Alexander the Great of India, which influenced Indian astronomy, mathematics, architecture, philosophy-and not vice versa.

But new archeological and linguistic discoveries have proved that there never was an Aryan invasion and that there is a continuity from the ancient Vedic civilization to the Saraswati culture.

The Vedas, for instance, which constitute the soul of present day Hinduism, have not been composed in 1500 B.C., as Max Muller arbitrarily decided, but may go back to 7000 years before Christ, giving Hinduism plenty of time to influence Christianity and older civilizations which preceded Christianity.

Thus, we should be aware of and point out the close links which exist between Christianity and Hinduism (ancient Vedic culture), which bind them into a sacred brotherhood. Conscientious Christian and Western scholars can realize how the world humanity's basic culture is Vedic through proper research.

Visit Stephen Knapps website at www.stephen-knapp.com

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#1348 - September 04, 2007 01:12 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Relativity of Human Life


Humans are tiny relative to planet Earth. Go up on a plane and you cannot even see them at 30,000 feet.

Earth is just a small planet in our solar system - a blue rock in a huge space. Go out to the edge of our solar system (like to Pluto) and you cannot even see Earth without a telescope.

Our solar system is in the fringes of the galaxy Milky Way which is about 90,000 light years across (wide). The typical galaxy is 100,000 to 120,000 light years across.

Shrink our Sun to the size of a 3-inch orange and our solar system would be more than 6 football fields wide. Milky Way would be 50 million KM across.

Each typical galaxy has hunderds of billions of stars. Milky Way has 200 billion.

For those whose books do not teach them this, our sun is a star. In the Milky Way, Sun is just a kid in a block full of billions of other kids.

Galaxies cluster together in galaxy clusters or galaxy groups which are millions of light years across.

No human knows how many galaxy groups there are in the universe. Some estimate it at more than half a trillion.

None of the holy stories or 'scriptures' are of any help in such matters of clearly more godly dimension.

May be the gods did not want to confuse us simpletons, and kept their 'words' to that of what one simpleton said to another on earth hundreds of years ago when everything beyond the skies are just 'stars'.

Some books say everything beyond earth is just 'firmament' but we just cannot be firm about what that means.

So we have to take what science has to say per above.

If the universe is equivalent to earth (i.e. we 'shrink' the universe down to size of earth) then earth is not even a small pebble. More likely just a speck of sand in the ocean.

In that context each human would be less than a virus. A super-micro-subvirus at best.

If you are the ruler of earth (god), would you bother about the lives and future of some super-micro-subvirus?

Would you bother to send one subvirus 'messenger' after another to those subviruses? And then stop at that last one? May be tired of some cheap god thrill?

Worse still, in certain cases squeeze your only son into a super-micro-subvirus to save those subviruses? And do the same again sometime in the future? 2nd half of more cheap god thrill?

And those godly super-subviruses all somehow land only on Earth (that one speck of sand) and in that part of the speck called the middle east and nowhere else on earth?

Would you want such sub-viruses to hang around your home with you after they die off? For eternity?

Or would you even bother to set aside a place among your huge territory (they call heaven or hell) to keep dead subviruses? Perhaps a museum of dead super-micro-subviruses of some sort? But that can hardly be special in your scheme of things would it?

Only super-micro-subviruses that are super full of themselves dare to imagine that to be the case.

This subvirus would rather not think I know what the deities think or imagine I am special in their eyes.

Now, let's see the super-micro-flu-subvirus brag about how special he is compared to the super-micro-hiv-subvirus....

The only thing common about them is they cause diseases.

XX

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#1349 - September 23, 2007 12:17 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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The Messiah


Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great
crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all -
young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its
own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks
of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life and resisting
the current what each had learned from birth. But one creature said
at last, 'I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my
eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let
go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of
boredom.'

The other creatures laughed and said, 'Fool! Let go, and that current
you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed by the current across
the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!' But the one heeded
them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and
smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet in time, as the creature
refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom,
and he was bruised and hurt no more. The creatures downstream, to
whom he was a stranger, cried, 'See a miracle! A creature like
ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!'

And the one carried in the current said, 'I am no more Messiah than
you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our
true work is this voyage, this adventure.' But they cried the
more, 'Saviour!' all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they
looked again he was gone and they were left alone making legends of a
Saviour.

Anon

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#1350 - September 23, 2007 12:21 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Freedom & Democracy


In the US, the declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. The American Revolutionary war ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1784. The American Constitution was completed in 1787.

Some Native American Indians have been tracing the concept of democracy back to their own ancestors. One of them wrote:

"The Haudenosaunee (also called ''Iroquois'' or ''Six Nations'') revere a prophetic figure called the Peacemaker, who gathered their ancestors together on the shores of Onondaga Lake centuries ago to halt decades of warfare between them and create the world's first democratic government. This Great Law of Peace bound the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca nations (and later the Tuscarora) into a powerful and prosperous confederacy that dominated what is now upstate New York until they were overrun by non-Indian settlers after the American Revolution."

More recently, Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, has expounded on the
thesis of how the founding fathers of the United States were influenced by the
traditional Haudenosaunee methods of governance in their framing of a new form
of government for the American colonies during the 1780s.

With all that, there is no question but that the the U.S. was the first government in the world to adopt a constitution based on the broad principles of democracy.

What I had in mind was the transformation of a non-democratic to a democratic
form of government. This happened first after the French Revolution.

What made the French Declaration of Human Rights (La Dclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen) interesting is that it made these rights universal (not
just for the White people, as initially in the United States). Also, the Bill of
Rights (the so called amendments to the Constitution)giving various freedoms to
the people was adopted was adopted only two years after the French Revolution,
although James Madison had begun drafting it already in the year of the FR. Of course, the British had their own Bill of Rights a century before the FR.

In any case, the point I was trying to make is that many of these ideas (like
elected chief of state holding power for a fixed number of years, individual
rights of citizens) are products of the modern age; ancients societies
functioned by and large by granting supreme powers to govern a country to kings,
chieftains, maharajas, feudal lords, sultans, caliphs, shahs, tzars, and the
like.

Various.

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#1351 - November 15, 2007 07:41 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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On being Rational and Non-Rational


Belief and behavior that contradict reason may be called non-rational. But it is
important to realize that there are two ways of being non-rational, i.e. two
ways in which one might deviate from rationality.

The first is through the irrational mode. Here, one adopts positions or engages
in actions which are grotesque, absurd, silly, and even dangerous. Abusing
others through words or deeds, regarding groups of people as inferior, refusing
to accept evidence against one's cherished beliefs (such as the earth's
rotundity, or biological evolution), subscribing to belief systems that have
been proved to be clearly unscientific are all examples of irrationality. Any
individual or system that preaches hate and hurt also qualifies as an
irrational entity. Whether scientists, mathematicians, scholars, intellectuals,
or whatever, none of us is altogether immune from spurts of irrationality.
Sometimes institutions, political ideologies, economic schemes, religious
systems, or even governments, may become irrational.

The second way in which one may digress from rationality is through beliefs and
actions that are non-hurtful, fulfilling, uplifting, enriching, or helpful to
others. I call this transrationality. Thus, while some elements in the religious
framework may be non-rational, religious behavior need not always be irrational.
It can be transrational. Praying for the well-being of others or even for rain,
and going through the rites and rituals of a tradition are instances of
transrational acts. Doing an act of sacrifice, giving up one's own interests for
the service of the sick and the needy are transrational acts. Religious
doctrines which call for the death and destruction of those who don't subscribe
to particular tenets or prophets, which deny salvation to non-believers, or deny
spiritual rights to some members of one's own group, are examples of
irrationality in religious systems because these denigrate and dehumanize fellow
beings. On the other hand, singing hymns to the Divine and reading from
time-honored texts are instances of transrational elements in religions.
Transrational belief and behavior are meaningful and fulfilling.

Art, poetry, words of good wishes, prayer to the Cosmic Mystery, and the tales
in mythology are transrational in so far as they add to our aesthetic
experience, inspire us to ethical conduct, and elevate our vision of the world.
However, it is important reckon the distinction between the real which is
related to rationality and perceptual verification and the ideal and the
imagined which may be transrational. Rationality must be respected for
intelligent living, irrationality must be scrupulously avoided for sane and
wholesome living, and transrationality cherished for richer experiences and
nurtured for meaningful and purposeful life, as also for comfort in times of
anguish and crisis.

V. V. Raman
November 14, 2007

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#1352 - November 17, 2007 12:35 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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How English Evolved into the Largest International Language


The history of the English language bears great lessons for the people of India, in particular those of Tamil Nadu as well as other eclipsed languages.

The ascent of English received a great boost in the 14th century when:

a) the Bible was liberated from Latin and could be recited in English;

b) English replaced French as the national language of England (which also paved the way for the teaching of English in schools); and

c) King Edward III ordered (in the year 1362) the replacement of French by English as the language to be used in all the law courts of England. (The King himself could then speak only broken (old) English!)

The English language never looked back after that.

Today it has the most number of speakers in the world (after mandarin), in the most number of nations, is the official languages in scores of countries, has the largest repository of books and papers, and is used in most international meets. Compare this with English in the 14th century when it was confined only to England (not even Scotland and Wales) and even then as not the official language of the land.

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited November 17, 2007).]

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#1353 - December 15, 2007 12:12 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Thoughts on Ahalya

Ahalya, as anyone familiar with Hindu lore must know, is one of the five major
heroines of our tradition. Sita, Draupadi, Tara, and Mandodari are the others.
They are all held in high regard in our collective cultural memory. Sadly, like
Sita and Draupadi, Ahalya's honor was also violated, and she too suffered as a
result. Whether historical, mythical, or poetic imagery, their stories evoke in
the sensitive reader not just sympathy, but enormous respect and reverence for
these women of enormous beauty, inner strength and character who were not
sufficiently recognized for their qualities, and even punished for the crime of
others. God alone knows how many women, not just in India but also all over the
world, have thus suffered, and continue to suffer still.
The great rishi Gautama and the Vedic Indra both wanted to wed her. But in a
competition, the rishi won by astutely interpreting the rule to his advantage.
Indra, known for his penchant for female beauty, was not pleased. So it was that
one day, while the rishi was away, he stole into their abode, and pretending to
be Gautama, he made love to her. When the rishi discovered this, he cursed his
wife.
Incidentally, Indra was not the only god to appear in disguise to seduce a
woman. In Greek mythology, when Danae, the daughter of Acrisius, was confined
in a tower, Zeus stealthily entered her chamber as a shower of gold, and
impregnated her: a scene that Titian, in the sixteenth century, represented
gloriously in one of his paintings.
Few social and ethical topics remain untouched in the Ramayana. In the story of
Ahalya we find the perennial theme of lust and adultery. There is ample reason
to believe that adultery was not unusual in ancient societies, or else there
would not be references to it in the laws and literatures of various cultures.
The Latin writer Juvenal described it in his Satires as "an ancient and
long-established custom," adding, "It was the silver-age that saw the first
adulterers." Babylonian law imposed death by drowning for the culprits. The
seventh of the Ten Commandments orders us to refrain from this temptation. The
Old Testament narrates the adulterous union between David and Bathsheba.
Constantine punished adultery with death also, while Justinian sent the
adulteress to a convent. The seventh and eighth days of the Decameron deal
with this subject, as also the adventures of Don Juan. Yet, when the theme was
explored in a nineteenth century novel (Madame Bovary) there was quite an
uproar. And in the Ramayana we find this reference. Some have seen the
Krishna-gopi interactions as adultery.
Kumarila's classic interpretation of the Ahalya episode must be recalled here.
According to it, Indra signifies the Sun and Ahalya represents night. Thus this
story is to betaken as a picturesque way of describing the fact that the
emergence of the sun dissipates the darkness of the night. This does remove the
shock effect from a god's lustful behavior, and it sounds somewhat contrived.
The dialogue between Indra and Ahalya is fairly explicit in motivation and
guilt. Moreover, since the setting of the sun and the advent of night are
natural and continually occurring phenomena, there is no reason to make a big
issue out of it, nor for Gautama to get so perturbed.
If we treat the Indra's behavior as a parable, we may draw the following insight
from it. Man is endowed with faculties and instruments with the aid of which he
accomplishes things. Many of these are of practical interest, and others have a
creative value. Occasionally, however, we may abuse our faculties and misuse
the instruments at our disposal for selfish and unethical ends. We see this
happening all the time in our scientific and technological world. Scientific
knowledge and the gadgets of technology have been exploited many times in
history for ignoble ends. When this happens, the appropriate punishment would
be to take away the instruments that made the wrong action possible. For
example, if some higher power took away our knowledge of nuclear physics and
higher mathematics, nuclear war and destruction would become impossible.
This is what happened to Indra. He misused his generative organ for selfish
ends without regard to the moral implications of his act. Nothing less than
depriving him of the very instrument that made this possible was considered
appropriate in such a situation. So he was castrated.
According to Adhyatma and Kamba (not Valmiki) Ramayana, Ahalya was turned to
stone.
Valmiki says that Ahalya knew who the pretender was. We read in Balakanda LXVIII
Vishvamitra telling Rama: "Though she recognized this to be only Sahasraksha in
disguise, she was inclined towards him as she wished to unite with the ruler of
the gods." In fact we also read here: ""Her desire fulfilled, Ahalya pleaded
with Indra to leave the hermitage at once so that he might protect himself and
her from rishi Gautama's detection. Indra laughed and said, 'Gratified as I am
from this union, I shall leave as stealthily as I came.'"
But the Tamil poet Kamban says otherwise: According to him, Ahalya truly thought
it was her husband who was making love to her.
This reminds me of a famous verse in Kamba Ramayanam (which we had to learn by
rote when we studied the work) in which Vishvamitra is astounded by Rama's power
in resurrecting Ahalya. I am giving the lines (in Tamil) for those who may wish
to recall them:
ivvaNNam nigaznda vaNNam ini inda ulagukkellam
uyvaNNam anRi mattRu Or tuyarvaNNam uruvadu unDO
maivaNNatarakki pOril mazhaivaNNattaNNalE
un kaivaNNam angu kanDEn kAl vaNNam ingu kandEn

In my (rough) English version:

When such things happen by your grace
Can pain any more be in terrestrial space?
Thou who art dark as clouds with rain
I saw your prowess made so plain
When you waged that terrible fearsome fight
Against the ogress who was dark as night.
There the strength of your hands made the story,
And here I see your feet's own glory!

[The ogress refers to Tataka.]

It is when we read such poetic lines (in their original for sure) that we
realize what a magnificent culturally creative civilization India has been over
the ages.

Ahalya's resurrection is a grand event. All heaven rejoices when the presence of
Rama brings Ahalya back to life and glory. The episode conveys the idea that
there is something wonderful when a repentant sinner is restituted, or when a
non-guilty convicted person is released. It says in St. Luke: "Joy shall be in
heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just
persons, which need no repentance." But here we are not even dealing with a
sinner. Rather, this is the case of a very noble and righteous woman whom
circumstances had drawn to an unworthy deed, not unlike Hardy's Tess. We are
moved to even greater exhilaration when we witness such a person being restored
back to normal life after payment of the inappropriate penalty.
Why does Rama have to come for Ahalya's release? What is suggested is that our
own penance and pains are not enough for our redemption. That subtle and
inscrutable element called God's grace is essential for this.

<Why was Ahalya cursed to become a stone, when she had no knowledge that the
impostor who took her to bed was not her husband? It does not seem fair to
punish an innocent person, does it? This is like accusing a rape victim of
adultery!>

1. According to Valmiki, Ahalya did know the identity of Indra.
But he doesn't say she was cursed into becoming a stone.

2. According to Kamban, she did not know the identity of Indra.
Yet, she was condemned to the punishment.

Therefore, your comments are quite valid in the Kamban case.

In any event, I think the answer to your legitimate question (and to other
similar ones, like the treatment by Rama of Sita in the Uttara Kanda) may lie in
the poet's intent to show the injustices in society. Rape victims ARE condemned,
the innocents ARE punished all to often.
When we read these works we must be outraged by such horrible happenings in
human societies, much more than be impressed by the glory of Rama.
Rama redeeming Ahalya is symbolic of the hope and indeed the conviction
(ever-present in Hindu thought) that ultimately we will all be redeemed,whether
we have sinned or not.

V. V. Raman
December 14, 2007

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#1354 - December 15, 2007 12:12 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Thoughts on Ahalya

Ahalya, as anyone familiar with Hindu lore must know, is one of the five major
heroines of our tradition. Sita, Draupadi, Tara, and Mandodari are the others.
They are all held in high regard in our collective cultural memory. Sadly, like
Sita and Draupadi, Ahalya's honor was also violated, and she too suffered as a
result. Whether historical, mythical, or poetic imagery, their stories evoke in
the sensitive reader not just sympathy, but enormous respect and reverence for
these women of enormous beauty, inner strength and character who were not
sufficiently recognized for their qualities, and even punished for the crime of
others. God alone knows how many women, not just in India but also all over the
world, have thus suffered, and continue to suffer still.

The great rishi Gautama and the Vedic Indra both wanted to wed her. But in a
competition, the rishi won by astutely interpreting the rule to his advantage.
Indra, known for his penchant for female beauty, was not pleased. So it was that
one day, while the rishi was away, he stole into their abode, and pretending to
be Gautama, he made love to her. When the rishi discovered this, he cursed his
wife.

Incidentally, Indra was not the only god to appear in disguise to seduce a
woman. In Greek mythology, when Danae, the daughter of Acrisius, was confined
in a tower, Zeus stealthily entered her chamber as a shower of gold, and
impregnated her: a scene that Titian, in the sixteenth century, represented
gloriously in one of his paintings.

Few social and ethical topics remain untouched in the Ramayana. In the story of
Ahalya we find the perennial theme of lust and adultery. There is ample reason
to believe that adultery was not unusual in ancient societies, or else there
would not be references to it in the laws and literatures of various cultures.

The Latin writer Juvenal described it in his Satires as "an ancient and
long-established custom," adding, "It was the silver-age that saw the first
adulterers." Babylonian law imposed death by drowning for the culprits. The
seventh of the Ten Commandments orders us to refrain from this temptation. The
Old Testament narrates the adulterous union between David and Bathsheba.

Constantine punished adultery with death also, while Justinian sent the
adulteress to a convent. The seventh and eighth days of the Decameron deal
with this subject, as also the adventures of Don Juan. Yet, when the theme was
explored in a nineteenth century novel (Madame Bovary) there was quite an
uproar. And in the Ramayana we find this reference. Some have seen the
Krishna-gopi interactions as adultery.

Kumarila's classic interpretation of the Ahalya episode must be recalled here.
According to it, Indra signifies the Sun and Ahalya represents night. Thus this
story is to betaken as a picturesque way of describing the fact that the
emergence of the sun dissipates the darkness of the night. This does remove the
shock effect from a god's lustful behavior, and it sounds somewhat contrived.

The dialogue between Indra and Ahalya is fairly explicit in motivation and
guilt. Moreover, since the setting of the sun and the advent of night are
natural and continually occurring phenomena, there is no reason to make a big
issue out of it, nor for Gautama to get so perturbed.

If we treat the Indra's behavior as a parable, we may draw the following insight
from it. Man is endowed with faculties and instruments with the aid of which he
accomplishes things. Many of these are of practical interest, and others have a
creative value. Occasionally, however, we may abuse our faculties and misuse
the instruments at our disposal for selfish and unethical ends. We see this
happening all the time in our scientific and technological world. Scientific
knowledge and the gadgets of technology have been exploited many times in
history for ignoble ends. When this happens, the appropriate punishment would
be to take away the instruments that made the wrong action possible. For
example, if some higher power took away our knowledge of nuclear physics and
higher mathematics, nuclear war and destruction would become impossible.

This is what happened to Indra. He misused his generative organ for selfish
ends without regard to the moral implications of his act. Nothing less than
depriving him of the very instrument that made this possible was considered
appropriate in such a situation. So he was castrated.
According to Adhyatma and Kamba (not Valmiki) Ramayana, Ahalya was turned to
stone.

Valmiki says that Ahalya knew who the pretender was. We read in Balakanda LXVIII
Vishvamitra telling Rama: "Though she recognized this to be only Sahasraksha in
disguise, she was inclined towards him as she wished to unite with the ruler of
the gods." In fact we also read here: ""Her desire fulfilled, Ahalya pleaded
with Indra to leave the hermitage at once so that he might protect himself and
her from rishi Gautama's detection. Indra laughed and said, 'Gratified as I am
from this union, I shall leave as stealthily as I came.'

But the Tamil poet Kamban says otherwise: According to him, Ahalya truly thought
it was her husband who was making love to her.
This reminds me of a famous verse in Kamba Ramayanam (which we had to learn by
rote when we studied the work) in which Vishvamitra is astounded by Rama's power
in resurrecting Ahalya. I am giving the lines (in Tamil) for those who may wish
to recall them:

ivvaNNam nigaznda vaNNam ini inda ulagukkellam
uyvaNNam anRi mattRu Or tuyarvaNNam uruvadu unDO
maivaNNatarakki pOril mazhaivaNNattaNNalE
un kaivaNNam angu kanDEn kAl vaNNam ingu kandEn

In my (rough) English version:

When such things happen by your grace
Can pain any more be in terrestrial space?
Thou who art dark as clouds with rain
I saw your prowess made so plain
When you waged that terrible fearsome fight
Against the ogress who was dark as night.
There the strength of your hands made the story,
And here I see your feet's own glory!

[The ogress refers to Tataka.]

It is when we read such poetic lines (in their original for sure) that we
realize what a magnificent culturally creative civilization India has been over
the ages.

Ahalya's resurrection is a grand event. All heaven rejoices when the presence of
Rama brings Ahalya back to life and glory. The episode conveys the idea that
there is something wonderful when a repentant sinner is restituted, or when a
non-guilty convicted person is released. It says in St. Luke: "Joy shall be in
heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just
persons, which need no repentance." But here we are not even dealing with a
sinner. Rather, this is the case of a very noble and righteous woman whom
circumstances had drawn to an unworthy deed, not unlike Hardy's Tess. We are
moved to even greater exhilaration when we witness such a person being restored
back to normal life after payment of the inappropriate penalty.

Why does Rama have to come for Ahalya's release? What is suggested is that our
own penance and pains are not enough for our redemption. That subtle and
inscrutable element called God's grace is essential for this.

<Why was Ahalya cursed to become a stone, when she had no knowledge that the
impostor who took her to bed was not her husband? It does not seem fair to
punish an innocent person, does it? This is like accusing a rape victim of
adultery!>

1. According to Valmiki, Ahalya did know the identity of Indra.
But he doesn't say she was cursed into becoming a stone.

2. According to Kamban, she did not know the identity of Indra.
Yet, she was condemned to the punishment.

Therefore, your comments are quite valid in the Kamban case.

In any event, I think the answer to your legitimate question (and to other
similar ones, like the treatment by Rama of Sita in the Uttara Kanda) may lie in
the poet's intent to show the injustices in society. Rape victims ARE condemned,
the innocents ARE punished all to often.
When we read these works we must be outraged by such horrible happenings in
human societies, much more than be impressed by the glory of Rama.
Rama redeeming Ahalya is symbolic of the hope and indeed the conviction
(ever-present in Hindu thought) that ultimately we will all be redeemed,whether
we have sinned or not.

V. V. Raman
December 14, 2007


[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited December 15, 2007).]

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#1355 - December 19, 2007 12:41 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Posts: 1030
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Suffering in Religions


Even while striving to improve things externally, its important to
cultivate self-contentment -- in fact critical today. I offer two
powerful reasons for this:

1) Some religions are based on a "theory of suffering" which blames
"others" for problems. This way to solve people's misery causes
conflicts. Be it the devil's followers, infidels, kafirs, or the
Marxist theory of suffering that advocates class conflict, most
civilizational wars drum up their support base by such rhetorec.
Hitler's theory of suffering of the germans was based on blaming Jews,
Ronald Reagan's on blaming the "Evil Soviet Empire" and so forth. So
reason #1 for advocating self-contentment is to remove air from this
hate-filled balloon. Hinduism's theory of suffering is based on one's
OWN past-life karma, and there is no anti-Ishvar, anti-Brahman, etc
whose followers have to be attacked for one's own moksha. While Hindu
politicians also drum up hate-based support, this is not legitimized
by theological mandates as the path to personal salvation. On the
other hand, the Christian/Zionist End of Time will come (as per the
apocalyptic teaching of the Bible) ONLY after the heathens have been
defeated, the temple of David restored in Israel (which is the same
land on which one of Islam's major holy shrines in built), and so
forth. A large % of Americans believe that their personal suffering
and the world's suffering are caused by gays, abortionists, heathens
who have refused to accept jesus, etc. This makes OTHERS the CAUSE of
MY suffering! So the higher themisery index is, the greater the
xenophobia becomes.

2) The second reason is that rampant consumerism is destroying the
planet. One cannot solve the problem of depleting natural resources,
global warming, etc while at the same time advocating the spread of
consumerism. So how is one to live happily without joining the rat
race to accumulate and consume ad infinitum? Here, India's gift to the
world, of adhyatmic technologies to achieve joy without extroverted
consumption cravings, could become a matter of humanity's survival. Be
happy with less -- thats gandhian, thats what the sadhu lives, thats
what the ashrama-system advocates because only 1 out of 4 life-stages
(i.e. householder) encourages consumerism while the other stages
cultuvate non-consumerist ways of joy.

Bottom line: Please dont encourage the further spread of the scourge
of asking peole to feel miserable. As it is, too many Indians are
getting into this trap of chasing what the media etc establish as the
role-model lifestyle. This is simply unachievable on the scale of
India's population. If Indians start per capital consumption at par
with EU or USA, Indian would collapse as unsustainable. India would
become one large parking lot if cars were owned at the same per capita
rate as in America.

We should be thankful that many of our brethren, despite all sorts of
material depravation, have the ability to generate happiness through
simple things in life, and without chasing consumerism or blaming
kafirs/class/infidels etc to wage wars. Dont destroy the remaining
cultures which are organic, self-evolving, dynamic, and not demanding
monolithic or normative lifestyles.

Here are the prevailing theories of suffering espoused by major belief systems:

1. All humans are Fallen Sinners due to Adam-Eve Original Sin.

2. Jews get "chosen" by God with a special (exclusive) deal, provided
they comply with their side of the bargain - Release 1.0 of the
Covenant with God.

3. Then God feels sorry for others, has love for them. To "save" all
of them, he sacrifices his one and only son to pay off the Original
Sin and thereby offer us a new deal (covenant). This Covenant says
that all humans can be saved (unlike just a few chosen ones earlier)
provided they accept the one and only son and his virgin birth and his
crucifixion as exclusive events and discard all alternatives. This is
Release 2.0 of God's Covenant, now available at your nearest church.

4. Then God sends the angel Gabriel to dictate a new Covenant, using
Prophet Mohammed as the intermediary. Prior covenants sent via
prophets became corrupted by humans; hence like any good CEO, God must
resend the book/manual of rules freshly. This is Release 3.0 of God's
Covenant.

[Fights over which release is valid and which are bogus has
preoccupied the abrahamic religions. There are good reasons why this
simply cannot be reconciled in the good old "win-win" american style.
The NECESSARY conditions for one release to operate DEMAND that other
releases must get uninstalled. This is a complex theological analysis
I have written extensively, and interviewed theologians of the major
institutions involved. Most persons are disinterested/scared to
understand the real issues, and resort to superficial "tolerance" and
"samenes" -- hence the sameness intellectuals have responsibility in
spreading garbage about religions which the authorities of those
religions do not accept. My analysis will be published in my next
book.]

5. Hegel "Enlightens" the Europeans by establishing The Linear Theory
of History, according to which the West exclusively has what he calls
the "spirit" to progress. He EXPLICITLY justifies the genocide of the
Native Americans, which enabled Europeans to amass huge wealth in the
americas. Africans he says deserve slavery due to their innate nature.
Asians suffer from Oriental Despotism as their cause of suffering, but
they are lucky: Asians have the potential to get civilized and thats
why colonialism is good for them. This became the White Man's Burden.

6. Engels, Marx evolve this into class struggle that causes all
suffering, the solution being communism. Indians imported this and
turned it into Aryan vs Dravidian, upper caste vs. Dalit and so forth
as theories of suffering. This is much is vogue in India even though
it promises to tear apart the nation. Fragmentation of identities ad
infinitum is a great way to break up one's opponent and this western
import is doing a great job at that. (Of course the exporters of such
social theories have never explained to their third world franchises
why these theories have failed on home turf of the west -- e.g. why
the christianized latin americans suffer worse social abuses than
heathen India after scaling the stats for population sizes.)

7. Indic traditions (all 4 of them, incl Hindu, Buddhist, jaina, Sikh)
have karma theory as a foundational element. This expands the ethical
timeframe into a series of lives by the jiva-atman, rather than
only-one-life (with nothing prior) that is to be followed by absolute
opposite choices of heaven/hell. While karma does not support blaming
"others" (despite what politicians might espouse), it DOES suffer from
a serious misinterpretation which leads to fatalism. However, this is
where the history of Indian science/technology and economics is
important to bring in. Indian civ did NOT freeze or remain static. It
was not otherworldly. The material progress across the nation
geographically and across time is too vast to be dismissed. It seems
there were multiple lifestyles included, of which mystical
other-worldliness is simply one, and this lifestyle was never followed
by every Indian and not even close to a majority. Alongside the
mystics there were always pragmatic this-worldly folks in very large
numbers, pursuing practical things. There was always tension among
these alternative lifestyles and worldviews.

8. Nussbaum propagates the internal clash within India as its theory
of suffering. According to her thesis, Hinduism deserves the blame for
all the problems of India. She bases her arguments on factual errors
which are too numerous to be listed here. (I am the topic of her
personal attack for a whole chapter.) Ramesh Rao and Prof Jagdish
Bhagwati have criticized her work and attempts to create mischief in
India. She especially find the IIT folks threatening -- because they
can stand up to the world as equals and because they did not get
brainwashed in social theories imported from the West. India does not
need a Nussbaum or any other white chauvinist to save its people from
their socio-economic problems. Of course, challenges from the outside
have always helped Indians generate creative responses. Ultimately the
people have been able to reject nonsense being fed to them, even if
this time it happens to be Amartya Sen's girldfriend backed by Harvard
and Indian PR agencies and media to spread her lies.

Rajiv Malhotra

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#1356 - December 20, 2007 10:32 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Islam and the diabolic slave trade

By M.S.N. Menon

If all crimes committed from creation down to the present day were added together, they would not exceed, I am sure, the guilt of the diabolic slave trade.Lord Palmerston (1844)

And did you know, dear Reader, that this diabolic slave trade had the blessings of Christianity and Islam? But this is not the only guilt they carried. And yet they assert that they are superior to Hinduism!

But how can the religion of Jesus Christ be a party to these atrocities? Here is what one of Europes foremost historians had to say: They (Europeans) received the externals (of Christianity), but there they stop. They may baptize their children, they may take the sacrament, they may flock to the church. All these they may do and yet be as far removed from the spirit of Christianity as when they bowed their knees before their former idols. (History of Medieval and Modern Civilisations by Seignobos.)

In short, Europe was never truly Christianised. This explains why Christian Europe was behind this diabolic trade.

But we know so little about the Muslims! You may well ask why? Because the wrong-doings of the Muslims have hardly been dealt with by the historians. In fact, Islam is the least discussed religion. It is made out as if it has a clean slate.

The fact is: the Arabs were the first to trade in slaves. It began long before Islam. The Quran gave it legitimacy. Hunting for slaves became part of the Arab way of life. There was no problem of conscience. They developed the worst forms of slave trade. Only when the Portuguese and Spanish entered the scene, the Arab monopoly of the trade was broken.

The Portuguese were the first to set up a slave fort in West Africa (in 1481 AD). The British entered the trade in 1562 AD. The last slave ship sailed out of the West coast of Africa in1707 AD(the year when Aurangzeb died). But the trade went on for half a century more. In about three centuries, the Europeans captured or bought about 10 million Africans to be transported to the New World. Half of them perished in most terrible circumstances before they reached their destination.

On the perilous journey of the slave ships across the Atlantic, this is what one historian had to say: Negroes were piled up in the holds of the ships, as many as they could contain and they remained there without light or air for several weeks. They died in hundreds. The dead and the blinded were thrown to the sharks which infested the waters to the Americas. And those who reached the plantations were tied to yokes to plough the lands. (Seignobos)

People did make historical mistakes. The question is; did they regret? Did they make amends? Europe did make amends: it gave up the slave trade. The British were the first to revolt against the trade. Remember, Lincoln fought a bloody civil war to get rid of the trade in America.

What about the Muslims? Did they regret? Did they make amends? No. They kept at it for 1300 years till they were forced out of it by the Western powers! Nowhere in Islamic literature do we find a demand for abolition of the trade! And when the Ottomans (a non-Arab Muslim people) did make a call for its abolition, the priests of Mecca revolted. They issued a fatwa against the Ottoman demand and called them infidels. They said, the demand went against the holy Shariah.

India, like Africa, bore the brunt of this diabolic trade. Qasim carried away 60,000 Indians from Sind. In fact, Sind became a perennial source of supply till Mahmud of Ghazni opened up the rest of India.

K.S. Lal, the Indian historian, says: Slave-taking in India was the most flourishing and successful Muslim missionary activity.

But we talk and talk of caste oppression in India as if it was the worst form of brutality. I do admit a thousand times, it was unpardonable. But compare it with the slave trade and the genocide. The very idea of hunting down other human beings with net and whip and yoking them as animals to plough the landthere can be nothing more revolting and reprehensible than this.

There were other worse crimes. For example, sale of eunuchs. Boys of 7-15 years were castrated and sold to the aristocracy and royalty as eunuchs to guard their harems. About 90 per cent of them are reported to have died while removing their genitals. Can there be anything more heartless?

Slavery among boys led to rampant homosexuality. It is said an Arab judge changed the boy everyday. The practice was so rampant that even al-Ghazali, the great Muslim savant, feared to condemn it.

Muslims are deeply divided. The puritans (extremists), the dominant group, carry the negative legacy of Islam. (Only recently a judge of Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa for the restoration of slavery!) The moderates want us to believe that the good inspired by the humanistic traditions of Islam far outweighs the bad. But facts tell a different story.

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#1357 - January 16, 2008 10:23 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Origin of the seven day week
?
Aside from the sun and the moon, the Babylonians recognized five other celestial bodies that move differently than the stars. These were arranged in the order of their distances as: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon. They dedicated one hour to each of these planetary gods in that order. Since the day has 24 hours, this is how the dedications were made:?

Planet Hours when Day
planet gets Number
first hour

Saturn -1, 8, 15, 22 1-1
Jupiter -2, 9, 16, 23 6-1
Mars -3, 10, 17, 24 4-1
Sun -1, 4, 11, 18 2-1
Venus -2, 5, 12, 19 7-1
Mercury -3, 6, 13, 20 5-1
Moon -4, 7, 14, 21 3-1

This led to the order of the days of the week that is still current. English names are derived from Nordic mythology. Saturn-day or Saturday, Sun-day, Moon-day or Monday, Mars-day [Tuesday], Mercury-day [Wednesday], Jupiter-day [Thursday], Venus-day [Friday].

The planet Uranus (which was discovered only in the 1770s) was unkown to the ancients because it is not visible to the naked eye. Likewise Neputume (discovered in the 19th century).

?If the ancients had had a telescope they would have come up with a nine-day week. If they had known that the earth is a planet, while the Sun and the Moon are not, they would have known there are only eight planets (excluding Pluto). The days of the week have nothing to do with the (imaginary) light from the planets to the earth.

The lack of knowledge of basic astronomy and physics, as also of the history of ideas and cultures is responsible for considerable misconceptions and pseudo-scientific claims which are culturally and scientifically awkward, not to say absurd.

Professor V. V. Raman
January 13, 2008

[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited January 16, 2008).]

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#1358 - January 16, 2008 10:25 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Posts: 1030
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Measure of Space


Est modus in rebus: There is a measure in all things. - Horace
Measurement is the lifeblood of science, and of physics especially. We must
therefore introduce a standard for the measure of space. It is convenient to
start with one dimension, or length. Lengths have been measured since the most
ancient times in all cultures, using fingers, feet, or arm-lengths.

Archeologists have unearthed a very precise ivory scale in Lothal (Indus valley)
for measuring extremely small lengths, the first measuring device in human
history. In the seventeenth century Jean Picard proposed to take the length of a
pendulum which swings once every second at sea level as a standard for measuring
lengths. This would be modern scientific in that it is culture-independent,
unconnected to local customs, and unrelated to the size of individuals.

After the French Revolution in 1789, committee appointed by the French National
Assembly defined the meter as a ten millionth part of the distance from the
equator to the North Pole via Paris. Later, a platinum-iridium bar on which are
etched two thin scratches a meter apart at 0oC was installed in the
International Bureau of Standards at Svres, near Paris. Copies of this are in
all nations that are signatories of the international standard.

The current definition of the meter, however, is more sophisticated. It was
defined in the 11th General Conference of Weights and Measures in 1960 as
follows: The meter is the length equal to 1,650,763.73 wavelengths in vacuum of
the radiation corresponding to the transition between the levels 2 p10 and 5 d5
of the krypton-80 atom.

If you are not a physicist, read this definition again. You may not understand
everything it says, but it should drive home an important point. Precision and
measurement and consensus are all essential in the conduct of the scientific
enterprise. Science is not one person's views about how the world functions, nor
hand-waving speculations, unconfirmed generalities, or quotes from sacred
scriptures. Science is based on sustained observations and meticulous
measurements by countless people scattered in many regions of the world. That is
what gives science its credibility, reliability, international weight and
power. This is why its contentions overshadow assertions about the world made
through other modes. It is not enough to say that another system of thought hit
upon the same insight before. What matters is how it came upon the idea, and to
what extent the idea was made quantitatively precise and measurable.

For much smaller lengths, like a tenth, a hundredth, a thousandth, a millionth,
a billionth of a meter and so on, we use other units, giving them different
names: decimeter, centimeter, millimeter, micrometer, nanometer, and so on. By
convention, the prefixes are all Latin-derived. For multiples like ten, hundred,
thousand, million, billion meters and so on, we have a decameter, a hectameter,
a kilometer, a megameter, a gigameter, and so on, using Greek prefixes, again by
convention.

Sometimes we have to deal with distances that are far in excess of several
billion meters. This often happens in the context of astronomy. For example, (on
an average) the sun is 93 million miles from the earth. It is far easier to say
that it takes light about eight minutes to reach us from the sun (traveling at a
speed of 300 megameters per second. This distance is called an Astronomical Unit
(AU). Or again, light travels a distance of some 9.5 billion kilometeres in a
year. This distance is referred to as a light-year: which is a measure of
distance and not of time. On this scale, the star closest to our solar system
has been reckoned to be about 4.2 light years. The Pole Star (Dhruva nakshatra)
to which the arm of the Great Bear points, is about 431 light years away.

V. V. Raman
January 14, 2008

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#1359 - January 25, 2008 05:05 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Extrapolations

Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 09:42:23 -0500

8. Non-Scientific Extrapolations
After the experimental confirmation of Einstein's theories, popular
versions of them began to appear. These stimulated a good deal of public
discussion, and prompted intelligent minds to extrapolate them into metaphysical
ramifications and theological realms of their particular persuasion. A famous
editorial in the London Times declared in 1919: "Observational Science has in
fact led back to the purest subjective idealism." Other commentators began to
seek concordance between the highly technical formulation of physics and
revelations recorded in sacred texts, including (one might add) the writings of
Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. The philosopher Wildon Carr informed his
readers that "The principle of relativity is a rejection of materialism."
However, Einstein himself reflected that "the mystical trend of our time... is
for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion." That might have been
an accurate description of, but not a solution to, some of
the philosophical questions his theory provoked.

But then, there was nothing new in this phenomenon. Ever since the rise
of modern science in the seventeenth century, there was first a resistance to it
because its findings were blatantly contradictory to worldviews entertained by
most people since time immemorial. Then, when it became quite difficult, indeed
impossible to persist in claiming that the older views were correct,
traditionally inclined thinkers began to find concordance between the latest
theories of science and statements found in the scriptural writings of their
ancestors. This reaction began in the Christian context, because modern science
arose in Western Europe which was largely Christian at the time. From the last
quarter of the nineteenth century, this approach slowly permeated into other
religious traditions as well. Again and again, we find scientifically informed
adherents of traditional religions claiming that the latest findings of physics,
cosmology, or biology bear uncanny resemblance to
what the ancients (of their particular) tradition had said. In our own times,
there are any number of writings by Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and
Buddhists that expound on this theme.

This genre of writing serves two important purposes: First, it makes it
easier for people to accept modern science without abandoning their own cultural
religious roots. Secondly, it makes them feel that their own ancestors possessed
no less scientific genius than what some of the moderns seem to have.
Such claims are usually made by theologians, philosophers, and cultural
commentators, and seldom by practicing scientists who have neither the time nor
the interest in practicing this mode of ancestor-worship. Scientists seldom look
into the writings of thinkers dead and gone for a thousand and more years to
derive guidance in their research, or even confirmation for their latest
theories. Their interest is in current science, and not in ancient theories,
much less in deriving or providing cultural solace to the public. But people who
are not involved in scientific research and are not part of a currently creative
scientific culture derive some consolation when they equate past achievements of
their distant forebears with recent worldviews of science, little realizing that
such claims dont enhance the prestige of the past thinkers by one iota. Indeed,
this is not even a safe bet to make on their behalf because science will
probably discard its theories sooner or
later.

In any case, the twentieth century view of what the poet described as
"the sun-swept spaces which God made," is very different from that of a domed
celestial sphere with tiny holes through which we see the fiery beyond as tiny
stars, or of a limitless space extending endlessly, where angels and other
supernatural beings reside, such as earlier generations imagined.

V.V. Raman

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#1360 - January 25, 2008 05:07 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
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Utter Emptiness

Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 08:54:59 -0500

Utter emptiness: First approximation

Since ancient times, many keen minds have pondered about emptiness.
Thinkers in ancient India reflected on the emptiness of space, and proclaimed
that utter nothingness was a reality of which the physical world is a
manifestation. Every thing and thought is an emanation from pure void. In other
words, emptiness was a potential for infinity. Or, in the terminology of set
theory, the null set is also a set.

Democritus of Abdera (5-4 cent. BCE) proposed that the world was made up
of an infinite number of never-decaying atoms in a void of limitless expanse. He
pictured eternal atoms as rigid and indivisible. They were moving incessantly in
an emptiness which he identified with the Non-Being of an earlier generation, in
contrast to the Full Being which is eternal and indestructible. Empty space was
there, declared Democritus, not just to contain solid matter, but also as a
region for matter to move.

But Aristotle spoke out forcefully against the existence of void. He
challenged the view that emptiness was necessary for motion to occur, arguing
that movement was possible in a plenum or fullness too: dont fish swim ever so
freely in an aquatic plenum? At least one investigator in ancient times
considered the matter experimentally: Heron of Alexandria (c. 62 C.E.). In a
lengthy book on pneumatics, he discussed how vacuum might occur, but also how
air and water rush in to occupy vacuum. He propounded the principle of horror
vacui: that nature abhors vacuum, in Western thought.

In later centuries, when the ideas of the ancients were revived by Arab
scholars, some agreed with Aristotle partially, some agreed with him fully, and
yet others completely disagreed. Medieval scholastics like Aquinas and
Bradwardine were also interested in the subject of void. Gradually, however,
the idea of total emptiness came to be rejected, not simply because the great
Aristotle had said so, but also because it had been associated with what
appeared to be a materialistic (the atomic) theory. Insubstantial emptiness
became anathema.

Even some of the founders of modern science did not accept that there
could be complete void. Galileo, the 17th century scientific giant, did not
believe in it. He thought rather that emptiness exerted some kind of a
vacuum-force, preventing its very existence. Descartes argued that matter was
indefinitely divisible, hence it would be impossible to remove all matter from a
region. Leibniz too was a plenist, rejecting the possibility of nothingness.
All these great minds were firmly convinced that Nature will not permit utter
emptiness, They were convinced that something material, substantial, or subtle,
had to permeate every nook of available space. Even the brightest scientific
minds of an age may not discern rightly every aspect of the roots of perceived
reality.

Thus, a careful study of the history of science reveals that our conceptions
and understandings of the world should never be regarded as final. It would,
however, be a mistake to conclude from this that the scientific effort to grasp
the details of natural phenomena have no value. Like it or not, we have but two
choices Either to accept as eternal truths speculative, unverifiable, and
logically inconsistent views about the phenomenal world as unalterable truths,
or live with provisional explanations which are coherent and consistent with
currently available and carefully gathered data of observation. The first choice
may give some satisfaction to those who rely on ancient utterances for truths
about the physical world, while the latter, for all its potential for
modification, is not only rationally fulfilling, but enables us to manage and
manipulate the physical world in good and bad ways to our advantage.

V. V. Raman
22 January, 2008

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#1361 - February 01, 2008 08:50 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Athiest quotes


Seneca the Younger 4 BCE- 65 CE -- Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

Blaise Pascal -- Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.

Emo Philips -- When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.

Richard Jeni -- You're basically killing each other to see who's got the better imaginary friend

Bertrand Russell -- And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence

George Bernard Shaw -- The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

Epicurus -- Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Doug McLeod -- I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence.

http://www.chrisbeach.co.uk/viewQuotes.php

Stephen Roberts
"We are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."


Historical Quotes Concerning Paul and his doctrines from Historians, Philosophers and Theologians


Carl Sagan (Scientist; Author)
"My long-time view about Christianity is that it represents an amalgam of two seemingly
immiscible parts--the religion of Jesus and the religion of Paul. Thomas Jefferson attempted to
excise the Pauline parts of the New Testament. There wasn't much left when he was done, but it
was an inspiring document." (Letter to Ken Schei [author of Christianity Betrayed])


Thomas Jefferson
"Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." (All references not listed here, can be
found in Christianity Betrayed)


Albert Schweitzer
"Where possible Paul avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus, in fact even mentioning it. If we had
to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on
the mount, and had taught His disciples the 'Our Father.' Even where they are specially
relevant, Paul passes over the words of the Lord."


Wil Durant (Philosopher)
"Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of
Christ." . "Fundamentalism is the triumph of Paul over Christ."


Walter Kaufmann (Professor of Philosophy, Princeton)
"Paul substituted faith in Christ for the Christlike life."


George Bernard Shaw
"No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its
legs again in the name of Jesus."


Thomas Hardy
"The new testament was less a Christiad than a Pauliad."


Hyam Maccoby (Talmudic Scholar)
"As we have seen, the purposes of the book of Acts is to minimize the conflict between Paul and
the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, James and Peter. Peter and Paul, in later Christian
tradition, became twin saints, brothers in faith, and the idea that they were historically bitter
opponents standing for irreconcilable religious standpoints would have been repudiated with
horror. The work of the author of Acts was well done; he rescued Christianity from the
imputation of being the individual creation of Paul, and instead gave it a respectable pedigree,
as a doctrine with the authority of the so-called Jerusalem Church, conceived as continuous in
spirit with the Pauline Gentile Church of Rome. Yet, for all his efforts, the truth of the matter is
not hard to recover, if we examine the New Testament evidence with an eye to tell-tale
inconsistencies and confusions, rather than with the determination to gloss over and harmonize all difficulties in the interests of an orthodox interpretation." (The Mythmaker, p. 139,Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1986)


Jeremy Bentham (English Philosopher)
"If Christianity needed an Anti-Christ, they needed look no farther than Paul." (Paraphrased. Looking for a copy of "Not Paul, but Jesus" in order to retrieve the exact quote.)


Carl Jung (Psychologist)
"Paul hardly ever allows the real Jesus of Nazareth to get a word in." (U.S. News and World
Report, April 22, 1991, p. 55)


Bishop John S. Spong (Episcopal Bishop of Newark)
"Paul's words are not the Words of God. They are the words of Paul- a vast difference."
(Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, p. 104, Harper San Francisco, 1991).

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#1362 - February 01, 2008 09:08 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Hinduism a de facto supporter of Ecology

By Rachel Oliver
For CNN

Whether we are actively religious or not, religious belief permeates the very fabric of our existence. Namely, it influences -- if not directly shapes -- our legal systems; and therefore our constitutions; and therefore our nations' policy choices, both at home and abroad.

It is then only logical to surmise that religion also influences how we -- individually and collectively -- view our role with regards to protecting the environment.
To suggest that any one religion somehow cares more for the Earth than the others would be foolish and simplistic, but within each belief system there lie subtle differences that, many argue, give an indication as to how we view our position in relation to it.

Namely, there appear to be two opposing questions that the world's religions have sought to answer over time: Are humans an equal part of a greater organism which they should therefore respect, serve and nourish? Or is the very purpose of that organism to serve and nourish the human race?

As Lynn White wrote in what many view as a groundbreaking, yet controversial 1967 essay, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," published in Science magazine: "What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny -- that is, by religion."

World's Leading Religions by Followers (from Adherents.com)
Christianity: 2.1 billion ? Islam: 1.5 billion ? Hinduism: 900 million ? Buddhism: 376 million

Christianity
"Christianity," wrote White, "Not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends." The emergence of Christianity, many, like White believe, marked the moment humans broke away from previously common held beliefs that all beings, all forms of life -- including plants -- had spirits (or souls).

"In Antiquity every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit," he wrote. And Christianity changed all that, he believed. Man was created in God's image, Christians believed, and notably Man was created at the end of Creation and humans therefore inherited the Earth. "By destroying pagan animism," White wrote. "Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects."

Many disagree -- and indeed are offended by -- the assertion that Christians do not care for the Earth and all of its beings and have dismissed White's conclusions. Marcia Bunge in her 1994 essay, "Biblical Views of Nature: Foundations for an Environmental Ethic," published by Chicago's Lutheran School of Theology's journal "Care of the Earth," claimed the Bible "contains ample grounds for environmental responsibility."

Bunge cited examples such as the story of Noah as evidence that God's covenant was not just with humans but with all creatures; that the name Adam stemming from the Hebrew word 'adamah', meaning ground or earth implied "the connection between human beings and the earth," and that, in the New Testament, Paul's vision of redemption or liberation through Christ's death did not just apply to humans but "of all creatures of nature".

Judaism
Christians are not the only ones looking for guidance in the Old Testament. But when drawing from Genesis, the Jewish faith is not so much divided, many believe, more to say appreciative of two opposing ideas that can happily co-exist. As Daniel B. Fink's 1998 essay, "Judaism and Ecology: A Theology of Creation", published in "Earth Ethics", explains: "We are both a part of nature and apart from it." Jews understand, Fink says, that the fact that Man was created at the end of the sixth day could have two possible meanings: either humans are the "guest[s] of honor" at a great feast, or, it's a reminder in case humans become too arrogant "that even the gnats preceded them in the order of creation".

In that regard, the perception is that humans have a "unique" responsibility to "use nature's bounty to our benefit" while also recognizing that "each part of God's creation has its own intrinsic value". Humans, in the Jewish interpretation, are the stewards of the Garden of Eden, but vitally, they are looking after it for God, not for themselves. Underlying the Jewish ethic, Fink writes, is the belief that humans are "only tenants on this earth. The land belongs to God. We are given permission to enjoy the Creator's abundant gifts, but we must not waste or wantonly destroy anything."

Islam
Responsible stewardship is a theme also shared by Muslims. In "Environmental Protection in Islam" published by the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prophet Muhammad's stance on the environment is quite clear: "Created beings are the dependents of God, and the creature dearest unto God is he who does most good to God's dependents," it says. Humans' good deeds therefore, "are not limited to the benefit of the human species but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings."

Similar to the Jewish and Christian faiths, human beings are seen in Islam as stewards of the environment, but more in line with Judaism, a principal belief amongst Muslims is that, a human is "only a manager of the earth and not a proprietor." Therein lies among Muslims an appreciation of a profound duty to protect the Earth, many believe. But vitally, the belief system is not just based on what humans do now, more what they set up for humans to come. Continuing the theme of stewardship, we are permitted to enjoy the fruits of the earth, but Earth must not be ruined for our descendents: "Man should not abuse, misuse, or distort the natural resources as each generation is entitled to benefit from them but is not entitled to "own" them in an absolute sense."

Hinduism
Hinduism is an immensely complex and diverse religion and shares certain beliefs with Buddhism, but essentially it is governed by three concepts: Brahman (a divine force which manifests itself in everything); Karma (the law of cause and effect) and the goal of moksha (enlightenment). At its core is living a simple life and shunning the myth of happiness through material gain.

"Hindu religion wants its followers to live a simple life ... People are meant to learn to enjoy spiritual happiness, so that to derive a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, they need not run after material pleasures and disturb nature's checks and balances," writes Ranchor Prime for the Alliance of Religions and Conservation.

Notably, Hinduism appears to be a de facto supporter of renewable fuels, such is its adherence to sustaining the natural order of things. Hindus are instructed not to "use anything belonging to nature, such as oil, coal, or forest, at a greater rate than you can replenish it."

Buddhism
Buddhism -- with all its different subsets -- is viewed by many as the most environmentally-friendly religion of them all, mainly because it believes in the fundamental equality of all sentient beings: We are all born, we all age, then we all die. There is no reason therefore, they believe, why a human's experience specifically should be any more important than that of a pig or a cow. And as a result all beings deserve equal levels of empathy -- or as is oft referred to, 'loving-kindness.'

"All sentient beings share the fundamental conditions of birth, old age, suffering, and death...the mindful awareness of the universality of suffering produces compassionate empathy for all forms of life," writes Harvard University's Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Donald Swearer in Earth Ethics. And as he points out, that includes plants too.

Interestingly, Buddhism has its own story of Creation, with its own kind of Eden, but with one key difference: "In the Buddhist mythological Eden, the earth flourishes naturally, but greedy desire leads to division and ownership of the land that in turn promotes violent conflict, destruction, and chaos. In short, in the Buddhist myth of first origins, human agency destroys the natural order of things."

(Sources: The Alliance of Religions and Conservation; Harvard University Center for the Environment; Adherents.org; ReligiousTolerance.org)

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#1363 - February 18, 2008 10:59 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Between Two Evils

The faster Hinduism reforms; relinquishes varnashrama, reorient its shastras, open the temples to all, open the priesthood to all, open the ashrams and monkhood to all, insist on providing dikshas to all Hindus, allow unrestricted entry of all into Hinduism, its sacraments and its institutions, AS WELL AS get rid of the two evils (pAe on one side and pisAsu on the otherside), the faster we can deals with external threats like these. Otherwise we might just as well be contend to read recurring reports like these.

The[/b] two weevils[/b] (pAe on one side and pisAsu) tormenting the Hindus are:

The pAe
1. the missionary-marxist-mullah-macaulayist (pseudo sec) nexus (4M),

The pisAsu
2. Brahmin supremacists and Hindians

Definitions:
Brahmin supremacists: Those (few) brahmins beholden to the manu and puranashastras, sanskrit supremacists, who consider themselves superior to non-Brahmins, believe it is their right to rule the Indian Subcontinent because of this superiority, and act accordingly. Accept AIT, then reject it. Curd rice and non existant bridges are important part of culture. All brahmins are NOT brahmin supremacists. Many non brahmins ignorantly are part of this group. Our quarrel is ONLY with brahmin supremacists and NOT with all brahmins. Further analysis would reveal most of these supremacists to come from one tradition, i.e. smartha. also known as varnashramists.

Hindians: People whose mother tongue is Hindi; much of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madya Pradesh and some surrounding areas in northern India is their homeland. Have no strategic sense and easily cave in to Muslim League, Pakistan, western interests and the chinese and condescend sikh sadarjis. Many masquerade as gandhians but remain supremacists at heart. Call others as athiests or dravidianists. The largest NRI bloc. Hindian politicians control and dominate the Indian government because they form the single largest block in the Indian parliament. Also known as Hindi Oligarchy.

At least we have indentified the various mutating viruses. Now the sooner Hindus rid themselves of the pisAsu, the faster they can deal with the pAe. For, only by providing all Hindus with samaya diksha can the religion and spirituality be strenghtened.
Pathma


[This message has been edited by Pathmarajah (edited February 18, 2008).]

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#1364 - February 18, 2008 11:32 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
webmaster Offline
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Was laughter a way of Hindu life?

By M.S.N. Menon

Yes. But we ceased to laugh on the advent of Islam. That was a thousand years ago! It is time we learnt to laugh again. To laugh at, if need be. We have much to laugh at in our past.

Not everything of the past, says Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, calls for our reverence. There is much that is to be despised and discarded.

Humour and satire served the West to combat evil. We chose to laugh at it. Sanskrit is rich in humour and satire. They can be traced back to the Vedas.

But the Dhammapada asks: How can there be birth and laughter when the world is on fire? Good question. The world is indeed on fire. But only laughter can put out this fire. Not gloom.

The West has a tragic vision of life. The Greeks chose to drown their sorrow in tragedy. Aristotle says: tragedy purges the soul of its passions. But life is a comedy to us. Why? Because we are thinkers first of all.

A comic tradition, however, cannot grow unless there is a tradition of free thinking. Fortunately, the Hindus civilisation is built on freedom of thought. The same cannot be said of either Christianity or Islam. They are closed to thought.

The true end of satire, says Dryden, is the amendment of vice. To Johnson, the end was to censure wickedness and folly. To Daniel Defoe, the end was the reformation of man. And to Jonathan Swift, the greatest satirist, the chief end I propose to myself in all my labours is to vex the world than divert it.

Bhartahari ripped apart our obsession with sex. He exposed the disgusting aspects of the female of the species. And he ridiculed the poets who sang in praise of women.

Do you know, Dear Reader, that we used to make fun of our gods? In this we were like the Greeks. But how many of us are aware of this?

Gilbert Highet, an authority on humour and satire, writes: If you want to understand any age, you ought to read not only its heroic and philosophic books but also its comic and satirical books. I believe Indian writers and academics of today know nothing of our comic tradition. Which is why I do not always accept what they write. They have given us a false picture of India.

Thus, Shiva has been an object of ridicule. He has also been an object of our reverence. And the caricature of Ganesh is truly laughable. And yet our gods were comforting and lovable. They kept us sane. We are not known for hubris.

Prof. Siegal of Hawaii University (USA), author of a book on Indian humour, writes: The presence of Shiva was far more comforting than that of a solemn JesusIt was afterall the mirthfulness of Indian religion, the laughter of their gods in contrast to the gloom and sorrow of my own inheritance that had drawn me to India. Like Max Mueller, he opened our eyes to the vast treasures of our hasya tradition.

Only Yahweh could have produced an Inquisition. And only an Allah could have produced the Taliban. A Sri Krishna could not. He was far too playful.

But we do make mistakes. They have to be corrected. If possible, through self-correction. Humour and satire can help. They are weapons of a free society. Let us see how it worked.

Kashmir was a centre of Hinduism and Buddhism. Kashmir produced the greatest satirist of India! Kuttani-mata (Advice of a procuress) by Damodara Gupta was one of the earliest satires to appear in this country (779-813 AD). He was followed by Kshemendra, the greatest satirist of all. He wrote about forty books. They were all thrown into the Jhelum river on the orders of Sultan Sikander.

Some of his works have survived. Samaya Matrika (Convention for Courtesans) followed the tradition of Damodara Gupta. Darpana Dalana (Crushing of Pride) denounced the vanity of people arising from lineage, wealth, learning, beauty and valour. In Kalavilasa, a merchant engages Muladeva, master of tricks, to teach his son tricks of trade. Kshemendra devotes an entire book to ridicule the Kayasthas, the corrupt officials of the king.

Among the great satirists, mention must be made of Dandin, Subandhu and Shudraka. In all 600 works were accounted in Sanskrit. But they were not translated.

The classic tradition died in the 12th Century. What followed were Prahasanas, written to entertain, the lower orders of society. The invasion by the Mohammedans in the 12th and 13th centuries sounded the death-knell of the already decaying Sanskrit drama, writes Balwant Gargi, an authority on Indian theatre.

Indias great contribution to the theatre was the introduction of the Vidushaka, the jester. He has become an integral part of the Indian theatre.

King Kalivatsala announced through beat of drums that vice had been made a virtue in his kingdom!

Humour and satire are weapons of a democracy. They correct misrule and excesses. It is a pity we have lost that tradition. Thanks to Islam. It is time to revive it. There is much to clean up in Hinduism.


[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited February 18, 2008).]

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#1365 - February 25, 2008 12:58 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
The Other Translation of the Quran


Kill disbelievers wherever you find them. If they attack you, then kill them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. (But if they desist in their unbelief, then don't kill them.) 2:191-2

(And it will be said): Take him and drag him to the midst of hell, Then pour upon his head the torment of boiling water.--44:47-48

A fire has been prepared for the disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones. 2:24

Disbelievers will be burned with fire. 2:39, 90

If you believe in only part of the Scripture, you will suffer in this life and go to hell in the next. 2:85

Jews are the greediest of all humankind. They'd like to live 1000 years. But they are going to hell. 2:96

Those who fail in their duty to Allah are proud and sinful. They will all go to hell. 2:206

War is ordained by Allah, and all Muslims must be willing to fight, whether they like it or not. 2:216

Those who die in their disbelief will burn forever in the Fire. 2:217

Those who marry unbelievers will burn in the Fire. 2:221

Disbelievers worship false gods. The will burn forever in the Fire. 2:257

"Those who swallow usury ... are rightful owners of the Fire." 2:275

Those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah, theirs will be a heavy doom. 3:4

Those who disbelieve will be fuel for the Fire. 3:10

All non-Muslims will be rejected by Allah after they die. 3:85

Disbelievers will be cursed by Allah, angels, and men. They will have a painful doom. 3:87-88

Disbelievers will have a painful doom. And they will have no helpers. 3:91

"Ye were upon the brink of an abyss of fire, and He did save you from it." 3:103

Disbelievers will have their faces blackened on the last day. They will face an awful doom. 3:105-6

Those who disbelieve will be burnt in the Fire. 3:116

The Fire is prepared for disbelievers. 3:131
Whoso is removed from the Fire and is made to enter paradise, he indeed is triumphant." (The rest will burn forever in the Fire.) 3:185

Those who brag about doing good will go to hell. 3:188

"Preserve us from the doom of Fire." 3:191

"Our Lord! Whom Thou causest to enter the Fire: him indeed Thou hast confounded. For evil-doers there will be no helpers." 3:192

Disbelievers will go to Hell. 3:196

Don't steal from orphans (or Allah will burn you forever in hell). 4:10

Those who disobey Allah and his messenger will be burnt with fire and suffer a painful doom. 4:14

For the disbelievers and those who make a last-minute conversion, Allah has prepared a painful doom. 4:18

"We shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy for Allah." 4:30

For disbelievers, We prepare a shameful doom. 4:37

Hell is sufficient for their burning. 4:55

Unbelievers will be tormented forever with fire. When their skin is burned off, a fresh skin will be provided. 4:56

Allah will bestow a vast reward on those who fight in religious wars. 4:74

Believers fight for Allah; disbelievers fight for the devil. So fight the minions of the devil. 4:76

Have no unbelieving friends. Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them. 4:89

If the unbelievers do not offer you peace, kill them wherever you find them. Against such you are given clear warrant. 4:91

Believers who kill believers will face the awful doom of hell. 4:93

"Their habitation will be hell, an evil journey's end." 4:97

Those who oppose the messenger and become unbelievers will go to hell. 4:115

Allah will lead them astray and they will go to hell. 4:119-121

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#1366 - February 25, 2008 01:23 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
The Other Side of the Bible


This is what Confucius said; Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.
Confucianism. Analects 15.23

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said; therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Now here is the rest of the story:

Those who bear bad fruit will be cut down and burned "with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:10, 12

Jesus recommends that to avoid sin we cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes. This advice is given immediately after he says that anyone who looks with lust at any women commits adultery. Matthew 5:29-30

Jesus says that most people will go to hell. Matthew 7:13-14

Those who fail to bear "good fruit" will be "hewn down, and cast into the fire." Matthew 7:19

"The children of the kingdom [the Jews] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8:12

Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. He has "come not to send peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34-36

Jesus condemns entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn't care for his preaching. Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus tells us what he has planned for those that he dislikes. They will be cast into an "everlasting fire." Matthew 25:41

Jesus says the damned will be tormented forever. ." Matthew 25:46

Any city that doesn't "receive" the followers of Jesus will be destroyed in a manner even more savage than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mark 6:11

Those who fail to bear "good fruit" will be "hewn down, and cast into the fire." Luke 3:9

Jesus says that God is like a slave-owner who beats his slaves "with many stripes." Luke 12:46-47

The "wrath of God" is on all unbelievers. John 3:36

Those who do not believe in Jesus will be cast into a fire to be burned. John 15:6

Homosexuals (those "without natural affection") and their supporters (those "that have pleasure in them") are "worthy of death." Roman 1:31-32

God punishes everyone for someone else's sin; then he saves them by killing an innocent victim. Roman 5:12

We are predestined by God to go to either heaven or hell. None of our thoughts, words, or actions can affect the final outcome. Ephesians 1:4-5, 11

Jesus will take "vengeance on them that know not God" by burning them forever "in flaming fire." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

144,000 Jews will be going to heaven; everyone else is going to hell. Revelation 7:4

God will send fire from heaven to devour people. And the devil will be tormented "day and night for ever and ever." Revelation 20:9-10

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#1367 - February 25, 2008 01:26 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Now the Other Spiritual Side of the Bible


John8:28
"So Jesus added, When you have lifted up the Son of Man , you will realize that I am He and that I do nothing of Myself, but I say what My Father has taught Me."

"And He Who sent Me is ever with Me; My Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him."

As He said these things, many believed in Him."

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples."

And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free."

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#1368 - February 25, 2008 01:30 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Words of Confucius

A few quotes by Confucius:

Show respect to the spirits and deities, then keep away from them.

Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.

While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve spirits (of the dead)?

While you do not know life, how can you know about death?

A superior man does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything. What is right he will follow.

Fine words and insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.

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#1369 - February 25, 2008 02:19 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
More on the Teachings of the Quran


Allah is in fact the Arabic word for 'God'. It is said that the term is most likely derived from a condensation of the Arabic article 'al' (the) and 'ilah' (deity or god). So Allah would mean 'the (or 'sole') God' (the one and only God, so to speak). There is another theory that traces the etymology of the word to the Aramaic Alaha, and Aramaic was the language that Jesus Christ used.

During pre-Islamic times, the pagan Arabs also referred to their creator-god or their supreme deity (number one God) as Allah. So the word 'Allah' is not quite an Islamic word for God. It was also a pre-Islamic word for God, although the Arabs then believed in 360 different Gods. Allah, in pre-Islamic times, was not the sole divinity. He had associates and companions plus sons and daughters. There was also a kind of kinship between Allah and the jinn. But Allah was the boss of all Gods to the Arabs then.

On Continuity of Torah, Bible & Quran
Surah 3.48
And He (Allah) will teach him the Scripture, and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel(Bible).

Surah 3.3
He (Allah) hath revealed unto thee the Scripture with Truth, confirming that which was before it even as He (Allah) revealed the Torah and the Gospel (Bible).

On Salat or Obligations, Not Prayer, Not Religion
The real meaning of salat is obligations, commitment, links, ties, bonds, responsibilities. Literally, salat means the door hinge that connects or ties or binds a door to the door frame. So life is a continuous cycle of aqeemus salat or upholding your obligations, commitments and responsibilities. This word are always used to refer to the act of honouring, upholding, or observing of commitments, obligations, accountabilities, responsibilities etc. by consenting person or persons when the phrase 'aqi-mu' is used. Literally the word Sol-laa means to 'commit' and it has many derivatives to form other words with the same shades of meaning like, binding, obligations, compulsion, pledge or promise and they are used in the Quran with the following words:

Sol-laa = Commit
Sol-luu = Be committed
Sol-lee = Binding
Mu-Sol-lan = A person who is committed
Mu-Sol-leen = Many people who are committed
Yu-Sol-laa = They commit
Yu-Sol-lee = Their commitments
Yu-Sol-luu = They have committed
Ya-sil-luu = Bind
Solaa-ta = Commitment (singular)
Solaa-tee = Commitments (dual)
Solaa-tu = Commitments (Aorist)
Solaa-waa-tee = Obligatorily
Solaa-waa-tun = obligatory

aqeemus solaa wa aatu zakaah means 'uphold your obligations and purify yourself'.

11:114 'aqeemus solaata tharafayin nahari wa zulafan minal laili' which means 'uphold your responsibilities between the two ends of the day and unto the parts of the night'. That is uphold one's commitments and obligations 24 hours continuously. There is not one verse in the quran where God says 'you must pray (salat) to me'. It is not possible to pray 24 hours a day!

Islam is a deen which means a way of life. Islam is not a religion. Religion requires rituals but there are no rituals in Islam. So what is left then ? What is left is only salat (or sola) which means our obligations or our commitments. We must uphold our solat or uphold our obligations. Aqeemus solaa means 'uphold your obligations'. What are these obligations? See Surah 11:114 'You shall uphold your obligations through the two ends of the day and through the parts of the night'.

What do we do through the two ends of a day and through the night? We wake up, we brush our teeth, we bathe, we change, we eat breakfast, we drive, we work, we eat lunch, we go home, we eat, we speak to the family, we go to bed, we sleep, procreate etc. We certainly have a lot of commitments and obligations or aqeemus solaah which we must do through the ends of the day and through the night.

He who upholds these commitments well and to the best of his ability is a muslim. He is a muslim, a submitter or a peaceful person, in balance with his aqeemus solaah.

In 3:19 The Quran says, "Surely the orderly way of life by God is peacefulness".

See how people changed it to: "Surely the religion by God is Islam". Islam is a way of life, a deen, that if followed brings contentment and peacefulness. One is 'at rest', hence peaceful, when one has fulfilled one's obligations.

On The Traditions of the Prophet
Injunctions to follow the Sunnah (examples, traditions) of the prophet is not mentioned in the Quran. What is mentioned is 'ATTI UR RASUL' which means 'obey the rasul', which means obey the Message the rasul brings.

On Heaven & Hell in Quran
There is no heaven and hell in the Quran. Heaven and hell are again Biblical terms. The Quran talks about Jannah which means Garden and Naar which means fire/heat. The Garden (harmony, comfort, plenty) is the lot of those who uphold their commitments to the Creator. Agony, distress, unhappiness is the lot of those who abuse their trust and fail their obligations.

Those Who Leave A Religion
[5.54] O you who believe! whoever from among you turns back from his religion, then Allah will bring a people, He shall love them and they shall love Him,..

Make No Distinctions Between Religions
[4:152] To those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of the Messengers, We shall soon give their (due) rewards: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.

No Religion or Community is Excluded
" WE have sent Prophets and Warners to EACH and EVERY NATION so that NONE can stand before ME
on the DAY of JUDGEMENT and say he has not heard of ME " .... (ALLAH is referring to which community?)

On Exclusivism and Various Expressions in Religions
The Quran tells us that there are various expressions for submission to God (29/69, look for the word paths) and so one cannot condemn anyone just because they dont follow our religious expression. The Quran condemns exclusivism (62/6).

On Converting to Islam - Unnecessary
2:139 Say: "Do you debate with us regarding God? He is our Lord and your Lord, and we have our work and you have your work, and to Him we are believers."

On Apostasy
16:106 Those who disbelieve in GOD, after having acquired faith, and become fully content with disbelief, have incurred wrath from GOD. The only ones to be excused are those who are forced to profess disbelief, while their hearts are full of faith.

All the verse is saying is that those who really, really disbelieve on their own free will, God would be angry with them. There is no mention of punishment or killing those who freely reject faith. In the Quran there is absolutely no punishment of apostates by human beings.

On Common Sense
8.22 Indeed, the worst creatures at the sight of God are those who are deaf and dumb who have no common sense?

On Righteousness
2.177 Righteousness does not consist in whether you face towards the East or the West. The righteous man is he who gives away his wealth to kinsfolk, to orphans, to the destitute, to the traveler in need and to beggars and for the redemption of captives. who is true to his promises, to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the true believers.

On Reincarnation and Final Dissolution into Him
The Koran says, "And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life, and in the end shall gather you unto Himself." (Sura 2:28)

There is a similar passage in the bible.

There are many passages in the Bible itself indicating that Christ and his followers were aware of the principle of reincarnation. Once, the disciples of Jesus asked him about the Old Testament prophecy that Elias would reappear on earth. In the Gospel of St. Matthew we read, "And Jesus answered them, Elias shall truly first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias has come already, and they knew him not... Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew. 17:913) In other words, Jesus declared that John the Baptist, who was beheaded by Herod, was a reincarnation of the prophet Elias.

However most muslims do not believe in reincarnation.

On Allah Correcting the Prophet
I can see a few instances where Allah corrected the Prophet in the Quran, such as:

66.1 - the Prophet made haraam what Allah made halal.

33.37 - the Prophet showed fear of mankind more than Allah.

On Misguided Arabs & 'Those at Peace'
The quran says the arabs are greatest hypocrites and liars. Islam is totally a different thing altogether from the arabs and their practices, customs, traditions and culture.

9.97. The Arabs of the desert are the worst in Unbelief and hypocrisy, and most fitted to be in ignorance of the command which Allah hath sent down to His Messenger. But Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise.

The Arabs have also been condemned in Quran as in 25:30.

On Killing
There is no killing in Quran. 'Qital', 'Qatilu', and 'Qitala' in Quran has been misinterpreted into meaning kill, slay etc. In actual fact it is 'confront' and its derivatives. Confront what? Confront the untruth. If they do not want to listen, get up an leave is the command. THERE IS NO KILLING.

A word may have different shades of the same meaning. The word 'Qital', 'Qatala'.'Qitalu', 'Qatilu', if you refer to the concordance will present kill, slay, confront, and shades of this meaning in the verb, adjective, adverb forms. Most translators pick kill, to kill, slaying etc. If one analyses the ayats in the Quran that contains all this word in its derivatives, one will come to an ayat that say 'kill them if they kill you.....'. This is impossibe as you cannot kill anyone if you are already dead. So only then will one realise that the actual meaning to be utilised is 'confront' as 'confront them if they confront you....' and which makes eminent sense. It also fits in the universal advise 'Not to kill', 'Absolute freedom in beliefs' etc. If one then further substitutes this meaning 'confront' in all the ayats with this word instead of 'kill' we will see the message is indeed peaceful and make more sense. The anger in the whole message disappears altogether.

On Fasting
There is no such thing as fasting in the Quran. Saum is not fasting but a self restraint or control one puts on yourself. Nowhere in the Quran does it ever say DO NOT eat AND DO NOT drink. On the contrary it is always the opposite. The Quran always says EAT AND DRINK. You cannot find even one verse in the Quran that says 'do not eat, do not drink. Absolutely none.

Now lets see 2:187

wakuloo - and eat
waishraboo and drink
hatta until
yatabayyana it is made/becomes clear
lakumu for you
alkhaytu al-abyadu as the white thread
minal from the
alkhayti al-aswadi black thread
mina alfajri from the sunrise

2.187. Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah. Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint.

So instead of restraining yourselves from your wives you are allowed to cohabit with them (2:187). Fasts, meaning restraints, are the observances of the muslim, and not abstaining from food, drink and sex with spouses.

On Those who Transgress
No one shall be destroyed except al-faasiqeen - those who trangress and do evil.

46.35. .. (Thine but) to proclaim the Message: but shall any be destroyed except those who transgress?

On God Guides Whom He Will
2:142 The fools among the people will ask, What makes them change from their direction that they are over it? Tell them, To God belongs the East and the West. He guides anyone He wills - to the path of those who are observant.

On God
Lets take a random phrase in the Quran la ilaa ha illallaah : It means there is no god other than God. Meaning there is only the one and same God whom all believe. A secondary meaning is that there re no other gods, viz power, fame, wealth, etc.

Salvation for All Believers and Righteous Ones
The essence of Qur'an is very simple, this exact statements appear three times.

2:62 Surely those who believe; and those who are Jewish, and the Christian, and the Sabians, whomever of them believes in God and the Last Day and does good work; they will have their reward with their Lord, with no fear over them, nor will they grieve.

On the Kaaba or Submission
Like all prophets the messenger was searching for the true deen. When the Quran was revealed he was told to focus on the sanctions in his act of submission.

2:144 Surely We see you twirling your focus about the sky. Hence We turn you to a direction that pleases you. Therefore turn your focus of attention towards the sanctioned submissions . And wherever you may be - thus turn your focus of attention towards it. And surely those who were given the Book know for certain - that, indeed it is the truth from their Lord. And God never failed to notice from whatever their deeds.

The focus is the Quran and NOT some STONE TEMPLE the Kaaba in Mecca. Its about turn to the Book! Not directions for facing the kaaba in ritual prayers. There are no rituals. (Prayer is worship sans the rituals.) Furthermore rituals and regulations are admonished.

16:105 Those who make up religious regulations do not believe god's revelations, they are the real liars.


On Haram - Sanctioned Not Forbidden
Ans : There are two kinds of prohibitions in the Quran. One is the more traditionally used word haram the other words are la takrabu. Haram does not mean prohibited at all. Here is the evidence :

6:152 Say, "Come let me tell you what your Lord has really haram for you (harrama rabbukum) : You shall not set up idols besides Him, you shall honor your parents, you shall not kill your children from fear of poverty - we provide for you and for them, you shall not commit gross sins, obvious or hidden, you shall not kill - GOD has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand."

Is it haram to set up idols, to honor your parents, to not kill children, etc.? Is it haram to honor your parents (bil waalidayni ihsaanan)? If haram means forbidden then it looks like it is forbidden to honor your parents. Haram therefore means sanctioned. Whether it is a positive or negative sanction depends on the circumstances of the verse. It is sanctioned (haram) against setting up idols, it is sanctioned (haram) that you must honor your parents, it is sanctioned (haram) against killing your children.

But la takrabu means do not go near. This is the real meaning of forbidden in the Quran. It means simply dont go near at all. Here are some examples :

6:152 do not go near (la takrabu) the orphans property
17:32 do not go near (la takrabu) adultery
4:43 do not go near (la takrabu) your obligations when intoxicated

Alchohol is not a food. It does not belong to any food group. When the human body ingests anything that is toxic or poisonous, the liver will react automatically to deal with the toxin or poison. When alchohol is ingested the body reacts to alchohol as a toxin. One is only asked to 'refrain' from alcohol, or do not perform one's obligations when under the influence of alcohol. As for khamr (intoxicants) please see the following :

5:91 Satan's plan is to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants (khamr) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from your obligations: will ye not then abstain?

On the Deen - what the quran teaches
When the prophet's people asked him about the DEEN, his reference being the Quran, said;

Your Lord has decreed that you shall not serve other than Him.
You shall honour your parents for as long as they live, one of them or both of them.
You shall not speak harshly to them nor mistreat them.
You shall speak amicably to people and do not utter any lies.
You shall regard the relatives, the orphans, and the poor.
You shall not kill your children from fear of poverty.
You shall not commit adultery, for it is a vice.
You shall not kill anyone, for taking of life is made forbidden.
You shall not touch the orphans money except for their own good.
You shall give full measure when you trade and weigh with an equitable balance.
You shall not accept anything that you yourself cannot ascertain.
You shall be perfectly honest when you serve as a witness, even if it is against yourself, your parents, or your relatives whether the defendant is rich or poor.
You shall give to charity from Gods provisions, which He has entrusted to you.
You shall strive in the path of God (fi-sabi-lil-lah) against those who strive against you, but not aggress.
You shall fulfil your commitments and humble yourself with those who are humble.
You are not to be arrogant, nor to walk in pride. God does not love the boastful, the arrogant. Be humble as you walk and lower your voice.
Eat from everything that is lawful and good, and do not follow the step of the Devil, he is your ardent enemy. He directs you towards vice and evil and to invent lies and attribute them to God.

This is part of the prescribed way and the wisdom sanctioned by God in the Reading. Common sense tells us that in order to achieve the above results these values must be translated into deeds.

On Primacy of Reason and Research
The Quran challenges its reader to think deeply on its content (47/24) and claims to guide its reader to establishing himself in the world (17/9). It tells its reader that it is irreproducible (17/88) and challenges him to bring a discourse like it (10/38). These statements show us that the culture that the Quran aims to fertilise is one which emphasises the primacy of reason inside revelation.

On Lies & Hypocrisy
[Surah 61:2-3] O you who believe, why do you say what you do not do? Most abominable in the sight of GOD is that you say what you do not do

On Shariah Law
Syariah is no Islamic Law. Syariah is a hodge podge of tribal and customary laws of the Arabs and the Persians. There is absolutely no such thing as a Syariah Law in the Quran. And whatever Sunni syariah law there is, it is different from the Shia version of Islamic Law, and the Taliban version of Syariah Law.

On Pork & Imams
Wa lahmal khinzir - means 'and meat rotten I see'. No pork here unless of course you follow the Mullahs and Imams who say 'Khinzir' means pork/pig. The advise is to NOT to eat ROTTEN MEAT that you see - WA LAHMAL KHINZIR.

On Attire
Al-Ahzab: 59
"O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be molested. "

For instance, the statement above that the Quran instructs women to cover their bossom is clearly wrong. The word used is "jayyib" which means "cleavage" or "pockets". The verse in the Quran instructs women to cover their "cleavages" with their head-covers (khimar). There is no veil or purdah, no need to attire oneself as catholic nuns!

On Relying on Religious Leaders
The muslim's understanding of religion, ALL of it, is based on the imputs of religious teachers, be they Mullahs, Ustaz, Muftis or Imams. ALL of them are receiving wages in one form or the other. All those in the Religious Department are receiving wages. So this simple verse in the Quran says;

36.21
Follow those who do not ask from you any wage, they are guided.

On Intoxicants & Gambling
2:219
"They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, 'In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit.'"

5:90
"O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them, that you may succeed."

The advice is to avoid them, although there may be some benefits, and not forbidden! Which is the same advice in any religious culture.

On Arabic & Religious Authority
I don't know how anyone can say that Arabic is the most beautiful and perfect language. Allah has set in the diversity of languages a sign and didn't mention the superiority of any language over another (30/22).

Al Qamar (54):17, "We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand, is there any that receive admonition?"
God says he has made it easy for all to read.

96.1 "Read in the name of thy Lord Who created."
God is asking all to read the Quran, and not just rely on 'experts'.

Ad-Dukhaan (44):58. "Derily, we have made this (Quran) easy, in thy tongue, in order that they may give heed."
It didnt say Arabic language!

The style, syntax and language of the Quran are in ancient classical Arabic, and hardly used today. Hence the need to rely on experts, it is thought. That however does not absolve one of the responsibility of making one's own judgment. As stated in the Quran, on the Day of Judgment, one would be held responsible for one's own deeds and one could not use the defense or excuse that one was following this or that ulama. Reliance on authority is no defense as per the quran.

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#1370 - March 01, 2008 11:32 AM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Science & Faith


Even people who have degrees in science are often confused about the
framework of science, just as even so-called religious people don't quite know
what religion or their own religion is all about. There is nothing wrong with
this as long as one doesn't mischaracterize what one doesn't quite understand.

< Often scientific 'facts' are often proven wrong or has to be modified. >

There are no such things as scientific facts and non-scientific facts.
There are only facts which are perceptions of reality.

There are only scientific interpretations and explanation of facts. These are
what one calls < scientific truths >.

A scientific interpretation is one that is based on careful and painstaking
study of all the data pertaining to the < facts > of observation pertaining to a
given phenomenon.

A scientific interpretation has to be consistent, collectively verifiable, and
self-critical; and it does not depend on the sanctity of ancient authorities or
on the sacredness of texts. It often leads to predictable assertions, and
fruitful applications. It is regarded by all scientists in the field as the most
satisfactory current interpretation, open to change and modification if and when
further data and newer insights arise.

< Can the 'scientific' still be looked upon as scientific after it has been
proven wrong had to be modified? >

Most certainly, in the sense in which I have said above. I repeat: There is no
such thing as a scientific fact, but there are scientific interpretations and
explanations of natural phenomena.

< I have heard that faith is belief pending confirmation. >

You may have heard this, and you may accept this. But this is not what faith is.

Faith can be there even if there is proof to the contrary. I will not give
examples, because that might offend the religious sensitivities of people. But
in every religion people have deep faith in matters which have been shown to
have no observational foundation or even possibility of confirmation or
falsification. People are entitled to such faith, but it is unrealistic, not to
say silly, to claim for it the same status as science. It is like saying that the
enjoyment of music is also science.

< Shouldn't we therefore hold the 'scientific" as scientific pending
rejection? >

This is quite true. Every scientific interpretation and explanation is valid
until sufficient data and knowledge arise to modify, improve upon, or reject it.
Practicing scientists are not embarrassed about, ashamed of, or afraid of this.

A good deal of scientific research is devoted to overthrowing earlier or current
interpretations and explanations. That is exactly what makes science an
ever-expanding, non-stagnant enterprise.

< Can we then conclude: The scientific must be held as 'fact' pending
invalidation? >

Repeat: there are no scientific < facts, > only scientific interpretation of
facts.

< Can we therefore argue against the self-righteousness of science to accept
scientific facts as 'gospel' truth >

The characterization of science as < self-righteous > is an emotional reaction to
scientists who reject religious interpretations of natural phenomena, and is
quite understandable. Religious commentators (Christians, Muslims, Hindus, ...)
often, and quite understandably, get annoyed when some scientists refuse to
accept religious mythologies, ancient theories of how the universe came to be,
what causes eclipse or epilepsy, and such.

The scientist's reaction does not
arise from a sense of self-righteousness, but because scientists are unable to
see how in this day and age intelligent, and supposedly educated and
well-informed people can believe in the literal truth of what seem to them to be
no more than fantasies.

< while, science look down upon 'gospel' truth not 'gospel'? (I use 'gospel'
in the wider literarily and popular meaning rather than the strictly
theological.) >

There is no gospel truth in science. Gospel truth, in its literary and popular
meaning refers to a truth that cannot and should not be challenged. There can be
and there are gospel truths only in religions. Scientific truths are always
challenged by scientists. That is part of the game of science.

No one is obliged to accept any < scientific truth >. If a scientist rejects a
scientific truth, he/she must give reasons why. If the reasons are not
satisfactory to the scientific community which consists of people who have
devoted their lives to systematic studies and investigation of particular sets
of phenomena, that scientist is likely to be ignored, and not condemned,
ex-communicated, brought to the inquisition, beheaded, called an enemy of the
tradition, evil, etc. as can happen in the framework of religion.

Interestingly, though scientific truths contradict many doctrines, beliefs and
mythologies of practically all religions, and while inspired religious
commentators decry science and its worldviews, practically all the nations of
the modern world (Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslims, ...) continue to
teach science to their children and establish more schools and colleges which do
that. Or else, they will be kicked back to a primitive and vulnerable state. No
matter how individuals in all religions < self-righteously > condemn science and
its methodology, practically 90% of what they use every day is the result of the
works of scientists, and don't come from religious beliefs.

Nothing of what I have said is to suggest that scientists or scientifically
inclined thinkers should denigrate or trivialize the religious dimension which,
at the deepest level and for billions of people, is enriching, meaningful, and
culturally connecting, with enormous potential for caring and compassion,
providing scope for collective rejoicing of traditions and source of consolation
in bereavement, let alone artistic creations, poetic visions, and architectural
wonders, and with great potential for profound spiritual experience. Above all,
enlightened religions endow us with humility and reverence for life, and enable
us to get a glimpse of the Unfathomable Mystery that is behind and beyond
everything we experience.

Regards,
V. V. Raman
September 18, 2007



[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited March 01, 2008).]

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#1371 - March 06, 2008 01:02 PM Re: Miscellaneous Articles
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Matter


Such stuff the world is made of. - WILLIAM COWPER

We recognize the world through tangible matter. We see, touch, taste,
and smell things: all these constitute much of perceived reality. Ours seems to
be largely a material world, consisting of a whole range of matter-entities,
from tiny particles of dust and sand to large planets, massive stars and
stupendous galaxies. Matter does seem to be the stuff the universe is made of.

The definition of matter is no easy matter. Simply put, matter is that
tangible something whose existence can be felt, experienced, and established
directly or indirectly. Matter requires space - tiny or large - for at our level
at least, all matter has extension. One can imagine space without matter, but
not matter without space.

Matter is the most striking feature of perceived reality. It is all
around us, on us, and within us too. Bereft of matter, the world would
degenerate into insubstantial nothingness.

But the material universe is more empty than filled. That is, the universe
happens to be material only here and there in the vastness of its sweeping
expanse. In fact, however, the density of matter in space is a paltry 3 x
10^(-31) kilograms per cubic centimeter. To an outside observer - if ever there
is one - the universe would be one vast wasteful void, with sprinklings of
matter here and there, somewhat like a dozen humans trekking alone here and
there on all of an earth's otherwise bleak surface. In truth, this is not a
material universe at all, but a radiant one, for its entire span is perpetually
bathed in vibrant waves.
Calling this a material universe is like calling the
oceans naval water simply because there are ships floating around here and
there.

But it was not always so. In the beginning, according to the Book of
Genesis of current cosmology, its density was a fantastic and incomprehensible
10^90 kilograms per cubic centimeter.

Though the material components of the universe occupy but a minuscule
region compared to its totality, they are interesting in their marvelous
properties and variety, and important too since without them there would be no
universe to speak of. The few droplets of matter strewn in the vast stretches of
space are what give body and identity to the physical universe. Our earth is,
quantitatively speaking, an insignificant material speck in a universe much of
whose matter is concentrated in countless stars of unimaginably larger
dimensions which are considerably more mass-packed.

The primacy of matter has been a major issue in philosophical debates.
There is a school of thought which asserts that there is nothing in the
universe beyond matter in various forms and configurations. This philosophical
position is known as materialism. This has little to do with the term
materialists: people addicted to objects that cater to creature comforts and
greed. For quite sometime it used to be common to refer to the materialist West
in self-righteous moralistic tones. Now, with material progress in the rest of
the world, this condemnation is not as often heard. If anything, one tries to
show that the rest of the world was also materially advanced prior to European
incursions. Right or wrong, all this has nothing to do with philosophical
materialism which believes that everything in the world can be ultimately
reduced to matter. This is a form of monism that is no longer as popular as it
used to be.

Some classical Hindu philosophers argued that the material world is but an
illusion, an impediment to recognizing spiritual truths. Physics has shown that
matter such as it appears to be is only an appearance: Its real nature is very
different.

V. V. Raman
March 7, 2008

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