Sunday, December 10, 2023

Journalism: The Frightful Monstrosity and Delusion

“Journalism possesses in itself the potentiality of becoming one of the most frightful monstrosities and delusions that have ever cursed mankind. This horrible transformation will occur at the exact instant at which journalists realise that they can become an aristocracy.” ~ G K Chesterton ("The New Priests”, 1901)

In the atheistic and nihilistic world-order of the twenty-first century, the journalists have become the new clergy. Under the guise of “breaking news,” they preach their daily sermons to brainwash their flock of readers and viewers. The power of the mainstream media to promote pseudo-science as real science, frivolous buffoons as great thinkers, and fake news as the ultimate truth is frightening. 

Chesterton’s view of journalism has become a reality. Journalists have become part of the crooked aristocracy. Journalism is the most frightful monstrosity and delusion of our time.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Rama Rajya: The Civilization of Faith & Reason

The Rama Rajya (Godly civilization) envisioned in the ancient Hindu texts is more magnificent, advanced and happy than the utopia of the communists and the ‘woke AI-world’ of postmodern tech-oligarchy. 

Faith and reason are eternal attributes of the human mind. To create a healthy and balanced society, you need both faith and reason. In Rama Rajya, faith and reason are given equal importance and they balance each other to encourage morality, economic and scientific progress, political stability and social harmony. If a society rejects faith and relies solely on reason, it must fall prey to nihilism, corruption, alienation and decadence. 

There is no room for faith in the communist utopia and the ‘woke AI-world’, which are founded on the idea of supremacy of reason. In the communist utopia, the General Secretary is the biggest repository of reason. Whatever the General Secretary is accepted by all as the voice of reason. In the ‘woke AI-world’, the tech oligarchs have the monopoly on reason. Woke oligarchs like Bill Gates are viewed as the repositories of reason.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

“Reason is always a kind of brute force”

“Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

The history of the last 250 years shows that the so-called ‘men of reason’ are generally violent, tyrannical, cultish and foolish. The French Revolution of the 18th century was spearheaded by the self-proclaimed men of reason who believed that theirs was the “Age of Enlightenment”. They butchered millions of people with the aim of creating a utopia of reason, secularism and science. 

In the 20th century, tyrannically revolutionaries and warmongers like Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Hitler, Mussolini, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mao and Pol Pot strongly believed that they had the right to rule all of humanity because “reason” was on their side. The American progressives believe that reason is on their side but they are constantly using their country’s economic resources to wage senseless wars. 

The postmodernists and the libertarians proclaim that they have a monopoly on reason. But they are out of touch with reality and their political and cultural opinions are often silly. Pop fiction writer Ayn Rand proclaimed the supremacy of reason but she went on to found a dumb cult, which glorifies adultery, abortion and even non-consensual sex (Howard Roark on Dominque) as a sign of creative individualism. 

I am in full agreement with Chesterton—reason is indeed a brute force. The men of reason are as dangerous, as psychopathic as the religious fundamentalists.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

4 Most Powerful Geopolitical Forces in History of Civilization

The 4 most powerful geopolitical forces in the history of civilization are: pandemic, apocalypse, war and belief in one true God. The propagators of these forces are the great movers of history who have forged new empires after destroying old ones. 

In the last 1500 years, the empires of the Middle East and Europe have used the fear of pandemic and apocalypse, the slogans of war and the idea that their God is the only true God to control their own people and conquer and enslave many other lands. 

In the postmodern digital-information society, in which a significant part of humanity lives today, not much has changed. Geopolitics is still being driven by the mass movements related to the forces of pandemic, apocalypse, war and belief in one true God.

The richest and most powerful tyrants in the world today are those who control the mass movements which propagate some aspects of the four geopolitical forces.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Life is not rational; reason is unknowable

The notion that life is rational is a myth propagated by materialistic Western philosophers. Life is not rational. Life is governed by the irrational. 

Love is not rational. Hatred is not rational. Hope is not rational. Greed is not rational. Happiness is not rational. Sorrow is not rational. Faith in the idea that the good always wins in the end is not rational. Man has no way of knowing how to make the right choices through reason. He has no way of knowing the rational course of action.

'Reason' and 'rational' are based on subjective principles and standards. What is rational for one man can be fundamentalism for another man. What is 'reason' for one man can be naivety and foolishness for another man.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Self praise is a sign of weakness

When a man praises himself, he is revealing his lack of wisdom and knowledge. When a nation praises itself as the best in the world, it is revealing its loss of culture and sense of history. When a religion is praising itself as the only true faith, it is revealing it has no spiritual values and is motivated solely by the political agenda of world domination.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Bill Gates: The World’s Worst Book Reviewer

Who is the world’s worst book reviewer? It is Bill Gates, the Microsoft tycoon. When I see a book being recommended by Gates, I know for sure that this book is trash. I will never waste my valuable time reading the books he recommends. 

The books he recommends are invariably by authors close to the powerful and crooked progressive establishment which rules the world. In the list of his recommendations, you will find books by wheeler-dealer lobbyists, vapid celebrities, power-hungry politicians, nihilistic film personalities, crooked journalists, corrupt oligarchs, pseudo-economists, money-laundering bankers, unhinged and fake scientists, naive anarchists, out of touch academics who harbor delusions of omniscience, and tyrannical leaders of taxpayer funded super-powerful institutions. 

The books in Gates’s list are full of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo and political propaganda—they are on politically correct themes such as extinction, climate change, extreme environmentalism, epidemics, saving the planet, sustainable development, sustainable energy, creating a global multicultural utopia. 

Does Gates read the books he recommends? I doubt it. I believe that he recommends books with the sole purpose of creating the impression of an erudite man. But a man who is really erudite will not read this kind of thrash. I peruse his book recommendations regularly to know which books I should avoid. If a book is being plugged by Gates, then it isn't for me.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Rereading Exodus by Leon Uris

“It was not a melting pot, it was a pressure cooker, for they came from every corner of the earth and had lived under every variety of circumstance,” Leon Uris in Exodus.

Exodus was published in 1958, ten years after Israel became independent (on 14 May 1948). Not much has changed since 1958; Leon Uris’s description of Israel holds till this day. The country is still a pressure cooker—this is one of the key reasons that it has survived and thrived for so long. 

Had Israel followed the melting pot (multiculturalist) model, it would have lost its Jewishness after being swamped by its cultural-religious enemies, and perished. With the pressure cooker model, Israel has created an intense civilizational identity which is worth fighting for. As long as Israel retains its civilizational identity, it cannot be overthrown. 

I read Exodus two decades ago. It is not a history book; full of myths and legends, it is a great work of propaganda for Israel. I liked the book then. I am planning to reread it.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

On Catherine Nixey’s book ‘The Darkening Age’

I just finished reading Catherine Nixey’s book The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. The book’s leitmotif is that the early Christians destroyed pagan religion, art and culture, and also obliterated a significant part of the knowledge developed by pagan societies of Ancient Greece and the Middle East. 

Catherine Nixey is a left-leaning atheist journalist. Ideologically, she is against all religions and traditions. There is a surfeit of exaggeration and half-truths in The Darkening Age. The book fails to acknowledge that the best pagan societies were located not in Europe but in the Middle East and they were destroyed by early Islam (not early Christians).

However, a part of what Nixey says in the book is correct. 

The conflict between the pagans and the early Christians began in the Roman age and went on till the 18th century when the last pagan communities were assimilated and digested by the European Christians. The conflict between Christianity and pagans was intense, though not as violent as the conflict between Christianity and Islam which goes on till this day. 

Nixey fails to inform her readers that the conflict between the pagans and Islamic movements was always very violent. Zoroastrianism, a very sophisticated pagan culture of the Middle East, was destroyed by the early Islamic forces, not by the early Christians.

Another important aspect of Christian-pagan history that Nixey does not cover in her book is the impact of pagan philosophy, literature and art on European culture and politics. She does not honestly cover the extensive efforts that the European Christian establishment made to collate, digest and reinterpret pagan knowledge.

European historians have tried to prove that the philosophy of Ancient Greece is the fountainhead of modern Western culture. This is a myth. Ancient Greece was polytheistic, skeptic and it followed a city-state model—it could not have served as an inspiration for the monotheistic, materialistic and world-empire model of European Christianity.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Teaching of Bhagavad Gita: Dharma is superior to morality, ethics, legality

During the times of great religious and civilizational wars, the tenets of morality, ethics and legality become less important for the warrior and political class. In the Mahabharata war, Krishna does not allow Arjuna to quit the battlefield over moral, ethical and legal dilemmas.  

In the Bhagavad Gita, the battlefield of “कुरुक्षेत्रे” (kuru-kṣhetre) is described as the “धर्मक्षेत्रे” (dharma-kṣhetre), or the sacred ground of supreme and timeless dharma. Krishna exhorts Arjuna to overlook the manmade tenets of morality, ethics and legality, and focus on fighting to win the great civilizational war. He reminds Arjuna that he is standing on religious ground and his primal duty is to wage war and annihilate the forces of evil that are threatening dharma and civilization.  

The tenets of morality, ethics and legality, being manmade social constructs, are not superior to dharma and civilization. These tenets apply only in times of peace. When dharma and civilization are under threat, then the warriors and politicians must overlook morality, ethics and legality, and fight to destroy the enemy by every possible means.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

The important lesson of history

It takes thousands of years of religious thought, philosophizing, spiritual advancements, agriculture, political struggles, religious and political schisms and movements, scientific movements, trading activity, linguistics, wars, massacres, revolutions and industrial activity to create a major civilization. 

Ruins of Nalanda University in Bihar 

(Started in the Vedic Age, before 1200 BCE)

But the civilization created from such pain, struggle, sacrifice, science and intellectualism can be ruined in one generation—in less than 25 years. 

Every generation must exercise care, lest they become the “doomed generation” under whose watch the civilization gets wiped out. If people understood the history of their own civilization, they would, perhaps, do things differently.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Reason and morality are subjective, transitory and fallible

Reason is not the ultimate way of arriving at the truth, the laws of morality are not final. Both reason and morality are subjective; both are transitory and fallible. Those who believe in reason and morality can do as much harm to society as those who reject reason and morality. 

The Vedic texts preach that human beings should strive to transcend reason and morality in their quest for truth and dharma. The principles of Sanatana Dharma are rooted in spirituality (divine consciousness) and timeless historical experiences, not in reason and morality.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Leftists are top capitalists; Rightists are incompetent capitalists

The idea that leftism is anti big business is a myth. 

The reality is that the supporters of leftist ideology have been driving the global economy in the last 100 years. The leaders and investors of all top multinational companies are left-leaning.

In America, Western Europe and India outspoken socialists are running business empires worth billions of dollars. In China, the Communist Party has founded the world’s biggest business empire, worth trillions of dollars. In Russia, the billionaire oligarchs are outspoken Marxists.

The rightists are not good in business. I don’t know of any major multinational company being funded and run by rightwing conservatives, libertarians and free market advocates. The leftists are the best capitalists; the rightists are incompetent capitalists.

Sri Aurobindo: Gandhian politics, Tolstoyism and Bolshevism

Sri Aurobindo

In 1920, Sri Aurobindo said that Mahatma Gandhi’s political method, founded on Tolstoy’s ideas, could lead to the imposition of Indianised Tolstoyism or Bolshevism on India. In a letter (written in April 1920) to his brother Barin Ghose, Sri Aurobindo wrote:  

“People now want to spiritualise politics – Gandhi, for instance – but they can’t get hold of the right way. What is Gandhi doing? Making a hodge-podge called satyagraha out of ahimsa paramo dharmah [non-violence is the highest law], Jainism, hartal, passive resistance, etc.; bringing a sort of Indianised Tolstoyism into the country. The result – if there is any lasting result – will be a sort of Indianised Bolshevism.”

Sri Aurobindo was probably right in caricaturing Gandhian politics as Indianised Bolshevism. After independence, India became a soft-Bolshevik state. Nehruvian socialism and Indira Gandhi’s personality-cult socialism were the manifestations of Bolshevism. 

In a talk in July 1923, Sri Aurobindo said, “Gandhi’s position is that he does not care to remove violence from others; he wants to observe non-violence himself.” On the linkage between Gandhi and Tolstoy, Sri Aurobindo said in June 1926, “Gandhi is a European – truly, a Russian Christian in an Indian body. And there are some Indians in European bodies?” 

(Quotations in this article are from India’s Rebirth, by Sri Aurobindo)

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

On Day of Vijayadashami: Four Mahavakyas from the Upanishads

Rama story carved in wall of Shiva temple

Ellora Caves, 8th Century

On the day of Vijayadashami, the festival signifying triumph of good over evil, we should remember the four Mahavakyas (the Great Sayings) from the Upanishads: 

1. Prajnanam Brahma (प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म) — “Pure Consciousness is Brahmana" or "Brahman is insight” (Aitareya Upanishad, verse 3.3)

2. Tat Tvam Asi (तत् त्वम् असि) — “You are that” or “You are the existent” (Chāndogya Upanishad, verse 6.8.7)

3. Ayam Atma Brahma (अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म) — "This Self (Atman or soul) is Brahmana" (Māṇḍūkya Upanishad, verse 1.2)

4. Aham Brahma Asmi (अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि) - "I am Brahmana" (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad, verse 1.4.10)

The Upanishads place great emphasis on understanding the “Brahmana,” which can be defined as the divine mind (Brah + Mana). Brahmana is ananta (an + anta: infinite). The earliest Vedic texts can be dated to 6000 BC.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Victor Hugo’s fallacious argument on ideas whose time has come

"No army can stop an idea whose time has come." 

This saying, often attributed to Victor Hugo, smacks of the "hindsight is 20/20" fallacy. It is deterministic and wrong. You can look back and see which ideas have been victorious and make the claim that the time for these ideas had come. 

But this is an absurd way of analyzing history. It will not lead to an understanding of the factors that led to the victory of any idea. 

A powerful army can crush any idea. A well-armed, well-trained and powerful army, led by a ruthless and visionary political leadership, is the ultimate force in history. History is made by armies, not by ideas. 

The Middle Eastern religious and political ideas won (from 8th to 16th centuries) because the Middle Eastern empires had powerful armies. Imperialism won (from 16th to 19th centuries) for the same reason—the European empires had powerful armies. 

Marxism won in the 20th century because leaders like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and Castro were leading powerful political movements and armies.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Vishnu, the collectivist; Shiva, the individualist

Parvati and Dancing Shiva 

Ellora cave

Vishnu is the collectivist, Shiva the individualist. In his avataras, Vishnu builds great coalitions which destroy the forces that are trying to rip apart civilization and culture. Conserving the forces of civilization is the primary task of Vishnu’s avataras. 

In his Rama avatara, Vishnu builds a coalition with kings and communities to destroy Ravana who threatens civilization. In his Krishna avatara, he plays a pivotal role in strengthening the Pandava alliance to enable them to destroy the evil Kaurava alliance. 

Shiva does not intervene to conserve civilization. He lives in the mountains and forests. From time to time, he acts individually to fulfill his divine task of annihilating powerful forces which threaten humans and Gods. The destruction of evil armies and empires is his primary task.

The tradition of Sanatana Dharma rejects the idea of dichotomy between individualism and collectivism. During the Vedic period (more than 3000 years ago), the sages saw individualism and collectivism as the two inseparable attributes of civilized society. 

The idea of dichotomy between individualism and collectivism is a myth crafted by the European intellectuals of the nineteenth century. These intellectuals propagated the false idea that collectivism implies communism and individualism implies capitalism. 

Civilization and culture are fundamentally collectivist. Modern civilization is the outcome of thousands of years of collectivist tendencies: religions, movements and philosophies. Without collective thinking, there can be no culture, no civilization.  

Sanatana philosophy awards equal importance to individualism and collectivism. The Vedic and Puranic texts exhort us to develop our individualistic way of thinking, perform our original acts, within the framework of culture and civilization.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Frankensteins that America & Israel created in the 1980s

In the 1980s, the American CIA funded, trained, glorified and armed the Taliban in Afghanistan because they wanted to use the Taliban to destroy the Soviet Union. 

Charlie Wilson's War (by George Crile) and several other books provide a description of America’s close collaboration with the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War.

In the 1980s, the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet facilitated the rise of Hamas because they saw Hamas as a political weapon for weakening the Palestine Liberation Organisation. 

What does world history from the 1980s to 2023 tell us? 

It tells us that the political establishments in America and Israel are not interested in solving the world's problems. They intervene in other nations with the agenda of causing large-scale mindless destruction and creating new Frankensteins.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Israel versus Palestine: The human quest for meaning

All humans crave for land, but only a few quest for meaning. The ones who quest for meaning are capable of making fruitful use of the land. 

When two civilizations clash over a piece of land, it makes ethical and political sense to support the side capable of questing for meaning and making fruitful use of the land for the larger good of humanity. 

A war is raging in the Middle East—Israelis versus Palestinians. Which side is capable of questing for meaning? Which side is capable of making fruitful use of the land? 

The Israelis excel in science, technology, entrepreneurship, medicine, agriculture, defence, political theory, philosophy, art and literature. What are the Palestinian achievements?

Which side should we support? Those who believe in humanity, those who want a betterment of the human condition, have no alternative except to support the side that is capable of questing for meaning and making fruitful use of the land: this means Israel.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Perfection is not possible; Lord Agni’s fire is enveloped in smoke

The quest for perfection is futile. Even the powerful Gods cannot create perfection in the universe. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna reminds Arjuna (verse 3.38) that Lord Agni is enveloped by smoke. 

Lord Agni is one of the most powerful Vedic Gods. In the Vedas, he is often invoked along with Lord Indra and Lord Soma. In the Vedic tradition, Lord Agni is regarded as the mouth of the Gods—through Lord Agni’s mouth the offerings reach the Gods. He resides on earth as fire, in the air as lightning and in the cosmos as the sun and the stars.

Yet even Lord Agni cannot attain perfection. In his manifestations, his fire is always enveloped by smoke. When Lord Agni cannot attain perfection, then there is no chance for humans to themselves be perfect or create anything that is perfect. 

The history of the last 2000 years shows that the civilizational movements that have quested for perfection have always led to bloodbath and destruction. 

In the Middle Ages, the Islamic armies rampaged across Asia, and parts of Europe and Africa, to create a perfect society of God. Instead of perfection, they unleashed death and destruction wherever they went. Their wars and violence are still raging in the Middle East and many other parts of the world. 

Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin tried to create a perfect Bolshevik society through nationalization of all property and wealth, imposition of five year plans, and banishment of dissidents to concentration camps and firing squads. Hitler and the Nazis tried to create a perfect Aryan society through World War and gas chambers. Instead of perfection, they brought destruction to their society. 

The libertarian movements dreamed of creating a perfect capitalist and individualistic society but they got mired in nihilism, cultism, naivety, amorality and social-alienation. 

Human efforts can never lead to perfection. Our best will never be perfect. The human mind, all human actions, and all human creations have good and bad aspects, and they lead to good and bad consequences.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Bhagavad Gita: Metaphysical and moral implications of the theory of rebirth, redeath

Every birth is a rebirth, every death is a redeath. This applies to everything inside the universe and to the universe itself. 

Every entity or conception—living and non-living, mental and physical, time and space, memory and history, smallest atom to the largest stars and blackholes—must one day die or be destroyed. Death or destruction is not the end—it is the prelude to rebirth or recreation.  

In the cycle of rebirth and redeath, creation and destruction nothing is lost. Mass and energy are always in a state of equilibrium irrespective of the universe being in the phase of creation or destruction. History and memory are not lost at the time of death—their essence gets transferred to the mind of the new generations, making them wise or naive, moral or nihilistic, and leading them to perform good or bad deeds, attain success or failure in their lifetime. 

The philosophy of rebirth and redeath has metaphysical and moral implications. 

The metaphysical implication is that the universe is a battleground of mass and energy. Energy seeks to rip apart the physical bodies, while mass seeks to empower itself by absorbing and digesting the energy. The contest between mass and energy lasts for as long as the universe (time and space) lasts and leads to the creation, motion and eventual obliteration of all heavenly bodies—atoms, moons, planets, stars, supernovas. 

The moral implication is that the good or bad things that happen to us are not due to “chance”; they are not the outcome of “God’s will” either. They are the outcome of our past karma. In this life you are reaping the fruits of your deeds in your past lives, and what you do in this life will have an impact on your subsequent rebirths. One must live morally because immoral conduct has implications for not just this life but all future lives. 

All this is one of the important teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The Saptarshi in the asterism of the Big Dipper

In ancient Indian astronomy, the asterism of the Big Dipper is described as the physical representation of the Saptarshi, the seven sages who are extolled in the Vedas, Puranas, the Mahabharata and several other ancient texts.

The seven bright stars of the Big Dipper are the universal forms of the seven sages whose names, according to Shatapatha Brahmana and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, are: Atri, Bharadvaja, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni, Kashyapa, Vasistha and Vishvamitra.

The Mahabharata gives their names as: Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Pulastya, Kratu, Vasistha and Angiras. Other ancient texts give slightly different names for the seven sages.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Culture, collectivism and civilization: What the Upanishads say

Stone wheel engraved on walls of

Konark Temple

Collectivism is the fountainhead of culture and civilization. The more sophisticated the society, the more collectivist its institutions and philosophies are. In contrast, the primitive societies were simplistic; they were collectivist to a much lesser degree.

In the broad prehistoric period known as the Stone Age, humans lived in small groups of 5 to 100 individuals linked by ties of blood. The process of building large-scale civilizations began 25,000 to 15,000 years ago, when the concept of religion came into being and people started coming together in the name of God to build large groups. 

Religion was the first collectivist movement of mankind. The successful religions brought millions of people together and got them to cooperate for developing other collectivist philosophies and movements. Some of these collectivist movements became powerful city-states and empires where collectivist tendencies continued to grow.

The postmodern man is a product of tens of thousands of years of collectivism in the form of— religions, movements, philosophies and other civilizational forces. The antithesis of collectivism is individualism, which is anti-culture and leads to nihilism, immorality, atheism, anarchy, weakness and decay. 

Why is religion the fundamental force that binds civilizations? 

One of the teachings of the Upanishads is that to live a fulfilling life we need meaning and challenge. We have the natural urge try to understand our place in the universe and we want to achieve something that is challenging, perhaps impossible, something that we believe no one has achieved before. 

Religion is the fundamental civilizational force because it offers avenues for both meaning and challenge. 

The Upanishads preach that the urges for meaning and challenge are part of mankind’s collective evolution. We try to find meaning in the notion of divinity that our culture and civilization has bestowed on us and we try to excel within the framework of the society with which we identify. In the modern or postmodern age, some try to find meaning in the secular philosophies which too are products of thousands of years of collectivism and culture. 

The adventure of human life is to join the human struggle for discovering who we are, what is our place in the universe, what is morality, what is the significance of the life that we get to lead before we die—this is one of the key teachings of the Upanishads.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Rationality is a myth; man is a creature of emotions

Goddess Saraswati 

(10th century)

The idea that man is a rational creature is a myth propagated by the power-hungry intellectuals and politicians of the modern age. They proclaimed themselves as the “voice of rationality,” because they wanted to propagate the myth that they were superior to everyone else and hence best suited to wield political power. 

Man is a creature of emotions who is capable of rationalizing. Too often we confuse our rationalization with the aspect of being rational. But rationalization has nothing to do with being rational. A super-advanced computer (an AI) can be rational, but Man is incapable of being rational. 

What is the rational course of action in any context is impossible for man to decipher. All the knowledge of humanity is not sufficient to decode the mysteries of the limitless universe. With his limited knowledge and experience man is incapable of identifying the ultimate truth. How can man be rational when he is clueless about the ultimate truth? 

The man who says that he knows what is the rational course of action is either a fool, who does not know what he is talking about, or a power hungry tyrant. 

The ancient sages of Sanatana Dharma did not exhort people to be rational; they told them that the world was a sea of consequences and the eternal truth is hard to find because it resides within infinite myths and falsehoods. They told them that one can try to move close to the eternal truth by being patient and by developing wisdom and empathy. 

Dharma is more about wisdom than rationality, it is more about empathy than ethics.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Lord Kalki: The end of metaphysics, the beginning of new universe

Lord Kalki, an avatara of Vishnu, appears at the final or ultimate moments of the Mahayuga. 

Metaphysically, Lord Kalki represents the end of everything: mind and matter, space and time, life and non-life, the cycle of birth and death, all history and memory come to an end with his coming. The universe goes out of existence. But the end of the universe is the fountainhead for the creation of a new universe. 

The cycle of a new Mahayuga and new universe begins after the dissolution of the earlier Mahayuga and universe. The Upanishads mention that there are four yugas in every Mahayuga: Krita (Satya), Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The current universe is in Kali Yuga, which began in 3102 BC, and will last for 1200 divine years, or 432,000 human years.

The Puranas describe periods of time much larger than the yugas and the mahayuga—these are called manvantaras and kalpas. One manvantara comprises 71 mahayugas; 14 manvantaras comprise one kalpa, equal to a day in Brahma's life. Thus, a day in Brahma’s life consists of an infinite number of years from the human perspective. 

Since Lord Kalki appears at the end of the Mahayuga, it can be surmised that, according to the Upanishads and Puranas, the universe comes to an end and is reborn several times in each manvantara and kalpa. The Puranas talk about thirty kalpas. The present kalpa is the Varaha Kalpa which came after the passage of the previous kalpa, the Padma Kalpa.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

John Galt: Ayn Rand’s world-destroying, world-conquering conquistador

John Galt was the postmodern conquistador who happily presided over the slaughter of tens of millions of people and the destruction of an entire civilization to create a social and political vacuum which would be filled by a mythical way of life based on his own philosophical and political opinions. 

He was convinced that he knew what was the best possible way of life and that he had the moral right to decide how every other human being should think and live. 

In the climax of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, John Galt and his acolytes destroy all the major industries, they facilitate bridge collapses, plane crashes, rail accidents and nuclear explosions, they engineer the collapse of the monetary system and the political establishment, they decimate the law & order machinery, and they become indirectly responsible for the death of tens of millions of people. 

In Ayn Rand’s convoluted worldview, these mass murderers were the good guys. They were the good guys because they did their destruction and killing in the name of Ayn Rand’s so-called values—the values of reason, atheism, individualism, freedom and capitalism. 

Ayn Rand was a big fan of Columbus, Hernán Cortés and the conquistadors who had wiped out the native population of the Americas to create space for the rise of modern America. In her historically-ignorant and morally-decrepit essays, she has denigrated the Native Indians and suggested that they deserved to die. She believed that America had lost its way in the early 20th century and that a new band of conquistadors must arise to utterly destroy society and pave the way for the development of a new world in which every human being would accept and live by her values.

She did not preach violence but she realized that most people in the world would NEVER accept to live by her set of foolish values, and give up their religions and traditions, unless they were demoralized and tyrannized by large-scale social and economic collapse and mass slaughter. This is what John Galt and his acolytes (conquistadors) set out to achieve in her novel. The conquistadors of the 16th and 17th centuries killed by swords and spears, but Ayn Rand shunned violence, so she got Galt and his men to destroy by words.

In Atlas Shrugged, Galt is the smooth-talking pseudo-philosopher who brainwashes people with his words and gets them to do the dirty work of destroying and killing. In the final part of the book, he gives a long speech, of around 60-pages, which is an elucidation of Ayn Rand's rather silly and insane philosophy. The tone of speech is hectoring and dictatorial. He is clearly stating that either you accept everything that I say as the ultimate truth or you will be left to rot and die. Every human in the world is given a stark choice: dreary death or slavery to Ayn Rand’s values. 

Ayn Rand is seen as a philosopher of classical liberalism and libertarianism, but she was not a philosopher. Her knowledge of philosophy and history was atrocious—this is obvious from the naive and laughable comments that she has made on Aristotle, Plato, Kant and a few other philosophers. She was a mediocre fiction writer and politically, she was a tyrant. She believed that the world belonged to “only one type of people”—those who lived by her system of thought. 

In the last three decades of her life she tried to start a movement. She attracted a small ragtag bunch of semi-educated and ill-experienced youngsters. The intelligent ones in this bunch quickly saw through the contradictions in her thought and they fled from her, never to come back again. Only the mediocrities stuck with her. She spent the final years of her life in the company of these mediocrities, who pampered themselves with the notion that they were like John Galt. They venerated her as their God and her movement became a cult.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Rajiv Malhotra's Being Different: Arguments against the ideologies of sameness, multiculturalism, assimilation

Started reading Rajiv Malhotra's book Being Different yesterday. Now on Chapter 3. 

This book is full of arguments against the postmodern ideologies of "sameness," "multiculturalism" and "assimilation." Rajiv Malhotra argues that "sameness," "multiculturalism" and "assimilation" are not humane and development-oriented ideologies. These are brutal political strategies. 

Whenever these ideologies take root in any society, they result in the "devouring" and "digestion" of one culture by the other. The culture which tries to follow the principles of "sameness," "multiculturalism" and "assimilation" is the one that gets devoured and digested.

Malhotra also argues (in the pages that I have read so far) that being different is not a bad thing—it is a fact of nature. He propagates “being different” as a virtue practiced by long-lasting civilizations with highly advanced philosophy, literature and religious theory. 

He notes that the cosmos is full of different heavenly objects, atomic objects and lifeforms. Nature does not push these objects and lifeforms towards losing their differences and becoming one. The sun does not yearn to become like planets, the deer does not try to become like the wolf. The objects and lifeforms in the cosmos try to find a balance while retaining their unique character.  

Why should human culture and civilizational principles defy the fundamental principles of the cosmos and try to make all humans alike? Malhotra argues that ideologies of "sameness," "multiculturalism" and "assimilation" are political and cultural strategies to disarm and weaken other civilizations and then devour and digest them.

(More on the book later…)

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Bhima: The Greatest Warrior of the Mahabharata

Raja Ravi Varma’s Painting 

of Bhima

Arjuna, the third among the Pandava brothers, is viewed as the greatest warrior of the Mahabharata. But the distinction of being the greatest warrior should go to Bhima, the second among the Pandava brothers. In the Mahabharata war, it was Bhima, not Arjuna, who caused maximum devastation to the Kaurava side. He was the great predator of the Kauravas. Arjuna did not kill a single Kaurava brother. Each one of the 100 sons of Dhritarashtra were ruthlessly pursued and butchered by Bhima. Single handedly, Bhima wiped out the Kaurava clan. 

With great brutality, Bhima butchered two of the key sons of Dhritarashtra, Dushasana and Duryodhana. He killed Dushasana by tearing open his chest and drinking his blood, and he fatally wounded Duryodhana by shattering his thighs with his mace. Duryodhana died after suffering for days from the injuries inflicted by Bhima. The Mahabharata contains verses which compare Bhima to a hungry lion that devours deers in the forest. The deers in this case were the 100 Kaurava brothers. They were terrified by Bhima. Encountering Bhima in the battlefield implied brutal death for them. 

Arjuna’s greatest contribution in the Mahabharata was that he was the direct audience to Lord Krishna’s Bhagwan Gita. He was a philosophically and spiritually inclined man. He was not a ruthless and brutal killing machine like Bhima. In the Mahabharata war, Arjuna did not kill any major warrior who was armed. Bhisma and Karna were disarmed—they had discarded their weapons—at the time when they were cut down by Arjuna’s arrows. 

Bhishma had taken a vow that he would never be in a relationship with a woman, nor would he ever strike a woman or someone who had once been a woman. Shikhandi fought in the Mahabharata war as a male warrior but he had once been a woman. (He became a man due to a boon granted by a Yaksha). When he rode into the battlefield in a chariot in front of Arjuna’s chariot, Bhishma refrained from shooting his arrows in their direction. Bhishma could give up his life but he would not break his vow of never fighting a woman or someone who had once been a woman. When he threw down his arms, Arjuna pierced his body with arrows. 

Karna too was not killed by Arjuna in a fair fight. While he was armed, Karna could not be defeated by Arjuna. They fought for days; on some occasions Karna came close to killing Arjuna who was saved mainly through the interventions of Lord Krishna, the avatara of Lord Vishnu who was playing the role of Arjuna’s charioteer and his spiritual and military guide. Karna was defeated when he was forced to discard his weapons and dismount from his chariot to free the chariot’s wheels which had got stuck in the ground. While Karna was engaged in freeing the wheels of his chariot, Arjuna fired his arrows and killed him.

The wife of the five Pandava brothers, Draupadi, realized that Bhima was the only real warrior among her five husbands—whenever she was facing great danger, she remembered Bhima, not Arjuna and the other three Pandava brothers. In the Mahabharata’s Kichaka-badha Parva, a man called Keechaka, who was the commander-in-chief of the King of Matsya, publicly humiliated Draupadi and tried to coerce her into a relationship with him. To save herself from Keechaka, Draupadi did not go to Arjuna—she went to Bhima who bashed Keechaka to death.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Shiva: The Mahabharata’s God of Vengeance

Shiva statue (1300 CE)

Shiva makes several appearances in the Mahabharata in the form of the fiery God who grants vengeance. The characters who are burning with the desire to annihilate their enemies invoke Shiva for strength, weapons, and warriors. The Mahabharata is a Vashnavaite text, devoted to extolling the deeds and philosophy of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Shiva stands on Krishna’s side—the characters he empowers are Krishna’s acolytes. 

The first character who prays to Shiva for vengeance is Amba, the daughter of the King of Kashi. She wants to kill Bhishma. She goes to the mountains and performs austerities. Shiva appears before her and grants her the boon that she would be the cause of Bhishma’s death in her next life. To expedite Bhishma’s death, Amba commits suicide by jumping into fire. She is reborn as Shikhandi in the household of King Draupada. At the time of the Mahabharata war, Shikhandi was instrumental in the slaying of Bhishma.

The second character who prays to Shiva for vengeance is Draupada. Half of Draupada’s empire had been usurped by Drona and other Kauravas. He asked Shiva for children who would slay the Kauravas. Shikhandi was born in his family. After that two more children were born through him: Dhrishtadyumna, a powerful warrior who would behead Drona in the Mahabharata war, and Draupadi, a beautiful maiden who married the five Pandava brothers and played a pivotal role in the ensuring the destruction of the Kauravas.

The third character who prays to Shiva for vengeance is Arjuna. After Yudhishthira's defeat in the gambling match, the Pandavas were exiled in the forest. While they were living in the forest, Arjuna was instructed by the Lord of Heaven, Indra, to seek arms from Shiva. Arjuna left his brothers and Draupadi, and went to a remote part of the forest to perform his austerities. Pleased with Arjuna’s prayers, Shiva granted him the Pashupatastra weapon.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Bhishma and the Kuru Bloodline

Vyasa with Satyavati

(Geeta Press Illustration)

The Mahabharata is generally read as the saga of the great war between the two factions of the Kuru dynasty: the Pandavas (the sons of Pandu) and the Kauravas (the sons of Dhritarashtra). But in a biological sense this is not correct. The Kuru bloodline ended with Bhishma—Pandu and Dhritarashtra did not belong to the Kuru bloodline. 

Bhishma was the son of Shantanu, the king of Hastinapur, and Goddess Ganga. When Ganga left Shantanu and returned to heaven, Shantanu married Satyavati. They had two children Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Bhishma had renounced the throne in favor of the children of Satyavati, and he had also taken the vow that he would remain a lifelong celibate to ensure that he did not sire children who might someday challenge the descendants of Shantanu and Satyavati for the throne of Hastinapur.

The task of taking the Kuru bloodline forward belonged to Chitrangada and Vichitravirya.

Chitrangada was an arrogant and violent man. He got into a fight with a Gandharva of the same name. After a fierce battle, which went on for several days, he was killed. Now Vichitravirya was the only one left who could take the Kuru bloodline forward. But he was a man of strange masculinity—the term “Vichitra” means strange, and the term “virya” means masculinity. He could have been impotent, weak, sterile, or sexually divergent. 

Since Vichitravirya was incapable of doing the needful, Bhishma took matters into his own hands. The King of Kashi had organized a svayamvara for the marriage of his three daughters—Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika. Bhishma forcefully entered the svayamvara, abducted the three daughters, and brought them to Hastinapur with the intention of marrying them to Vichitravirya. Amba insisted that she wanted to marry the King of Shalva. Bhisma allowed her to leave.  Ambika and Ambalika were married to Vichitravirya. 

Unfortunately, Vichitravirya died before he could produce a child with Ambika and Ambalika. Satyavati pleaded with Bhishma that he should produce children with Ambika and Ambalika for taking the Kuru bloodline forward. But Bhishma refused to break his vow of celibacy. Satyavati then pleaded with Krishna Dvaipayana (Veda Vyasa), her first child with the wandering Sage Parashara. Her union with Parasara had happened before her marriage with Shantanu—this was a divine union which left her virginity intact despite her becoming a mother. 

At that time, Vyasa was engaged in extreme austerities. Having compiled the four Vedas, he was famous in the three worlds. He accepted the plea of his mother and impregnated Ambika and Ambalika. From Ambika the blind Dhritarashtra was born. From Ambalika the pale and weak Pandu was born. Satyavati was dissatisfied by the deformity of her two grandchildren. She sent Vyasa to Ambika again. But Ambika did not want to have another tryst with the fearsome ascetic. She asked her maid to take her place in the bed. From the maid, Vidura was born. 

By the custom of Niyoga, which was prevalent in that age, Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura were regarded as the sons of Vichitravirya and hence a part of the Kuru dynasty. But they were the sons of mothers, Ambika, Ambalika, and Ambika’s maid, and father Vyasa—who were not of the Kuru bloodline. Since Vyasa was a Brahmin, it can be argued that the Pandavas and the Kauravas belonged to a Brahmanical bloodline. Bhishma was a Kshatriya and the last of the Kurus.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Sons of Indra and Surya

Sunrise in Uttarakhand

The feud between Karna and Arjuna in the Mahabharata can be seen as a continuation of the ancient rivalry between the two Gods: Surya (the Lord of the Sun) and Indra (the Lord of Swarga-Loka or heaven). Karna is Surya’s son; Arjuna is Indra’s son. In the Mahabharata war, Arjuna killed Karna with the help of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. 

In the Ramayana, which happened in an earlier Yuga, the rivalry between Surya and Indra has been depicted through a clash between the two brothers Vali and Sugriva. Vali was the son of Indra and Sugriva was the son of Surya. In this case, Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, sided with Sugriva. With Rama’s help, Vali was slain and Sugriva proclaimed the king of Kishkindha, the kingdom of the divine vanaras.

Thus, in the Mahabharata, Indra’s son destroyed Surya’s son; in the Ramayana, Surya’s son destroyed Indra’s son. The decisive role in both cases was played by the avatar of Vishnu. Victory went to the side supported by Vishnu. The question of who is more powerful between the two Gods—Indra and Surya—remains unanswered till this day.

Who Controls Social Media and Mainstream Media?

In his tweet on 17 December, Matt Taibi said: “Twitter’s contact with the FBI was constant and pervasive, as if it were a subsidiary… The #TwitterFiles are revealing more every day about how the government collects, analyzes, and flags your social media content.” 

The #TwitterFiles show that the FBI used to give Twitter management a list of individuals that they wanted to be silenced. Twitter used to immediately comply. If the American intelligence agencies (basically the political establishment in America) can control social media, then why do we expect them to allow the mainstream media to remain free? I don’t think the mainstream media in America and other countries is free. The mainstream media pretends to be free, but in every country, they are in control of the political establishment.

The trending stories in social media, the breaking news stories in mainstream media do not provide a true picture of the world—these stories are fake; they are propaganda.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A View of the Mahabharata War

Statue of Krishna and Arjuna in chariot

Kurukshetra (Haryana)

The Kauravas lost the Mahabharata war. The Pandavas were victorious. But the entire Kuru clan (the Kauravas and the Pandavas) went to Swarga-Loka (heaven) after the war. What does this imply? It implies that Dharma was on both sides. In Hinduism, Dharma is one of the four components of Purushartha (the primary objectives of life). The other three components are: Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Dharma means righteousness and observance of moral and religious values. 

The Mahabharata war was not about Dharma. Both sides were righteous. Both sides were strict in the observance of moral and religious values. Since there was no difference between the two sides on the issue of Dharma, it was difficult for Lord Krishna’s Yadava clan to decide which side they should support in the war. Lord Krishna joined the Pandavas because he felt that injustice had been done to them. But he did not pick up arms against the Kauravas; he served as Arjuna’s charioteer. His army joined the Kaurava side. Krishna’s brother Balarama, who was the commander of a powerful army, refused to join either side, as he could not see any difference between the two sides—he remained neutral. 

The Mahabharata war was about Kurukshetra and justice. The word “kshetra” means land— Kurukshetra signifies the land of the Kurus, which in context of the Mahabharata means the planet earth. The Pandavas believed that, according to the tenets of justice, the earth belonged to them; the Kauravas believed that it belonged to them. Both sides were intent on becoming the king of the world. Since neither side was ready to compromise, war was the only option.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Garuda and the Metaphysics of Death and Rebirth

Vishnu and Lakshmi on Garuda

(12th century sculpture)

A major difference between Hinduism and the Semitic religions is in the area of the metaphysics of death and rebirth. In Semitic religions death is permanent—when an individual dies, his soul goes to heaven or hell, depending on his deeds, and there it resides till eternity. In Hinduism, death is not permanent. After serving in the world of afterlife, a dead man’s soul returns to the land of the living. The process of birth and rebirth is eternal, and all beings, even the supreme sages and Gods, are subject to it. 

Every year, Hindus observe Pitru Paksha for a fortnight—the word “pitru” means ancestors and “paksha” means fortnight. The sixteen days of Pitru Paksha fall on the 2nd fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September). In this period, Hindus perform rituals to venerate and feed the souls of their dead ancestors. It is the metaphysics of death and rebirth that drives these rituals—the living believe that by performing these rituals they will facilitate a quick return (rebirth) of their dead ancestors from the land of the dead. 

The metaphysics of death and rebirth, and the custom of observing Pitru Paksha is one of the oldest features of Hinduism—these religious and philosophical ideas were developed in the Vedic Age, about 4000 years ago, and are explicated in the Garuda Purana, which is one of the major Puranas of Hinduism. Most historians believe that the Garuda Purana was systematized between the seventh and ninth centuries CE, but the religious and philosophical knowledge contained in this text is to a large extent of Vedic origin. 

Garuda is the divine eagle who is more powerful than Indra and all the Devas. He is the vanquisher of nagas, and the mount of Lord Vishnu. He is capable of flying anywhere in the universe. He is full of wisdom and dharma. When he receives Amrita (the elixir of eternal life) after defeating Indra and the Devas, he does not drink it. He faithfully transports the Amrita to the right place, and ensures its eventual return to the Devas. He does not crave for power, wealth, and glory—he wants wisdom and knowledge. His desire for wisdom and knowledge is fulfilled by Vishnu. 

From Vishnu, Garuda learns about the metaphysics of death and rebirth, and what the living must do to ensure the happy rebirth of their dead ancestors. Garuda transmits this knowledge to his father Kashyapa Prajapati. Kashyapa taught this knowledge to Bhrigu, who taught it to Vasishtha. From Vasishtha this knowledge went to Parashara, who told it to Veda Vyasa. For the benefit of mankind, Vyasa compiled this knowledge in the text called Garuda Purana. During the observation of Pitru Paksha, it is a tradition to recite the verses from Garuda Purana.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Four Sons of Lord Shiva

The Pashupati Seal Depicting Shiva

Mohenjo-Daro (2350–2000 BCE)

The Puranas and other ancient texts (Itihasas) narrate the deeds of Shiva’s four sons: Kartikeya, Ganesha, Ayyappa, and Hanuman. The four sons had divine births and became the powerful Gods of Hindu tradition. All four are probably celibate—I use the word “probably,” because in some native legends, the marriages of Kartikeya and Ganesha have been described. 

Kartikeya is warlike, muscular, ever-youthful, and armed with divine weapons. He is the leader of the army of devas (Gods) and a slayer of demons. Ganesha is corpulent and profound. He is the granter of fertility and prosperity. He is the God of wisdom and the most proficient scribe in the universe. He wrote the verses of the Mahabharata as they were being recited by Veda Vyasa. 

Kartikeya is associated with the peacock and the rooster (warlike and masculine symbols); Ganesha is associated with the elephant and the snake (fertile and feminine symbols). Based on the story of his divine birth, Kartikeya is sometimes depicted with six heads; Ganesha is always depicted with an elephant’s head which was given to him by Shiva.  

Ayyappa is handsome and rides a tiger; Hanuman is the monkey God and the central character in the Ramayana. Both are celibate, warlike, dharmic, and always engaged in austerities. Like their father Shiva, both are hermits. They are the epitome of dharma, truth, and righteousness. Ayyappa is the slayer of the shape-shifting demon Mahishi; Hanuman is the invincible divine warrior and the dedicated follower of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. 

Ganesha and Ayyappa are the Gods of dharmic living—they enable individuals and societies in discovering the right balance between Yoga and Bhoga so that the values of Artha (economic values), Kama (pleasure), Dharma (righteousness), and Moksha (liberation) are attained. Kartikeya and Hanuman are the philosopher warriors—they are the Gods of protection from worldly dangers and evil spirits. 

The four sons of Shiva represent the values of tapa (pursuit of dharma and moksha) and rasa (pursuit of happiness and the fulfillment of one’s worldly obligations).

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Aurobindo: Nationalism is the Work of God

Copy of Bande Mataram

Edited by Sri Aurobindo

September 1907

Shri Aurobindo viewed nationalism as the work of God. In his lecture delivered under the auspices of the Bombay National Union, on 19th January, 1908, he said:

“You call yourselves Nationalists. What is Nationalism? Nationalism is not a mere political programme; Nationalism is a religion that has come from God; Nationalism is a creed which you shall have to live. Let no man dare to call himself a Nationalist if he does so merely with a sort of intellectual pride, thinking that he is more patriotic, thinking that he is something higher than those who do not call themselves by that name. If you are going to be a Nationalist, if you are going to assent to this religion of Nationalism, you must do it in the religious spirit. You must remember that you are the instruments of God…. Nationalism survives in the strength of God and it is not possible to crush it, whatever weapons are brought against it. Nationalism is immortal; Nationalism cannot die; because it is no human thing, it is God.”

In context of the history of the world since the fifteenth century, Aurobindo was right in comparing nationalism with God. The European states were the first to develop a sense of nationalism—that is why they managed to colonize large parts of several continents after the fifteenth century. People in other parts of the world were divided into many religious and tribal groups—they did not possess a sense of nationhood. The Europeans were united under the banner of “One God, One Monarch, One Nation.” They were motivated by the aim of furthering the racial, economic, and political interests of their nation. Aurobindo understood this aspect of history—he understood that European nationalism was the fountainhead of European global success. He understood that India could not become a great nation until the Indians developed a sense of nationalism.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Ram Mohan Roy’s View of Sanskrit Education

Stamp Dedicated to the Sanskrit College

(Issued in 1999)

In 1823, work began in Calcutta to build a new Sanskrit college. Ram Mohan Roy was opposed to this college because he was convinced that education in Sanskrit had no practical use. He felt that Anglicization was the best option for India. He wrote, in his perfect English, a letter to William Amherst, the Governor-General of India from 1823 to 1828, to denounce the project for building a Sanskrit college in Calcutta. 

Here’s an excerpt from Roy’s letter:

“We find that the government is establishing a Sanskrit school under Hindu pandits to impart such knowledge as is already current in India. This seminary… can only be expected to load the minds of youth with grammatical niceties and metaphysical distinctions of little or no practical use to the possessors or to society. The pupils will acquire what was known two thousand years ago with the addition of vain and empty subtleties…” (Sources of Indian Tradition, by Theodore De Barry; Page 593)

Roy goes on to say that he was opposed to the Sanskrit college because “the Sanskrit system of education would be something best calculated to keep this country in darkness…” (Page 595)

In the middle part of his lengthy letter, Roy (who was himself educated in a Sanskrit institution in Banaras) makes disdainful comments on several aspects of ancient Sanskrit texts and the system of Sanskrit based education. But Roy’s analysis of Sanskrit culture was outrageously incorrect—those who are acquainted with ancient Indian texts would recognize these aspects as the greatest achievements of ancient Sanskrit literature, philosophy, linguistics, and political theory. 

Most Indians prefer to blame British intellectuals like Thomas Macaulay and James Mill for creating a negative opinion in India and Europe about Sanskrit literature and Hindu culture, which persists till this day, and promoting the Anglicization of India’s education. They ignore the role played by prominent Hindu intellectuals like Roy.

What Roy’s letter to William Amherst proves is that the educated class of Hindus have mostly been people with amnesia. Even intellectuals like Roy did not really possess a sense of India’s history, or even interest in it. They were not aware of the fact that the Indian subcontinent was one of the earliest centers of human civilization. They were not aware of the achievements of Sanskrit literature, philosophy, linguistics, and political theory. 

Despite Roy’s opposition, the Sanskrit College was founded on 1 January 1824, and the college rose to prominence during the principalship of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in 1851.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Master of Eclipses: Rahu and Ketu

Statue of Mohini

(Avatar of Vishnu)

The devas (Gods) can be defined as the beings who drank the amrita (the elixir of eternal life), and the danavas (demons) can be defined as those who were denied the amrita in the primordial age when Samudra Manthana, the churning of the cosmic ocean, took place. Svarbhanu was a special danava—his head drank the amrita, the rest of his body didn’t. He became the progenitor of the two entities, Rahu and Ketu, who have the attributes of both devas and danavas. 

The story of Samudra Manthana is given in the Vishnu Purana and several other ancient texts, including the Mahabharata (Adi Parva; sub-parva: Astika Parva). 

The devas, the sons of Aditi, and the danvas, the sons of Diti, were fighting over the pot of amrita that Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician, had brought out of the ocean during Samudra Manthana. To prevent the danavas from becoming immortal by drinking the amrita, Vishnu appeared in the form of Mohini, the goddess of seduction. Mohini wooed the danvas, and made them agree to her plan for distributing the amrita. She made the devas and the danavas sit in rows, and began to distribute the amrita—the devas were the first recipients. 

Svarbhanu became suspicious. Disguised as a deva, he sat in the row of devas and received amrita from Mohini. The moment the amrita dropped into his mouth, the Sun God and the Moon God recognized Svarbhanu. They alerted Vishnu, who used his Sudarshan Chakra to slice Svarbhanu’s neck before the amrita could drop into his body. 

Svarbhanu’s head became Rahu, the implacable enemy of the two Gods—the Sun and the Moon—who were responsible for alerting Vishnu. Rahu took the vow of eating the Sun and the Moon from time to time, and since then he has been the cause of eclipses. The torso of Svarbhanu became a headless demon called Ketu, a directionless comet. Rahu is represented as a cosmic serpent’s head, while Ketu is represented as the serpent’s tail.

Rahu and Ketu are part of the Navagraha (nine planets) system of Hindu astrology which is based on nine cosmic bodies: Surya (sun), Chandra (moon), Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brahaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu, and Ketu. Identified as the invisible cosmic bodies which reside at the points of intersection in the paths of the sun and the moon, Rahu and Ketu possess the power to influence, mostly unfavorably, the life of human beings.