Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kunal Singh: On Shiva and Yoga

Regarding Shiva and Rudra, the Rudras within the Bhradranyak are treated as
organs of the human body and Daksha when he defies Shiva during his yagna
says in the Puranic lore that his own philosophic system has Rudras.  So the
concept of Rudra may have been represented in several schools of thought
differently.  At one time it may have been mapped to one deity and at
another time to another deity, the concept can continue to exist.  The Vedas
don't mention many deities by name but that doesn't mean that they didn't
exist.  For example Viswamitra has verses attributed to him in the Vedas,
and by his time the asura Bali had been defeated, but we find no mention of
it in the Vedas.  Viswamitra himself was said to have slaughtered many
deities and was given his first role as a priest by the Shaivite deity of
Kartikeya.  So at least by Viswamitra's time it can be ascertained that the
Shaivite deities did exist.  Interestingly this was the time period of kings
like Viswamitra, Janaka, Ashtavakra, Dattatreya.  The last three are
directly associated with the philosophy of yoga. 
Kartikeya was actually the first son of Shiva and Shakti born to lead the
war against the Asuras.  In general, there seems to be a trend leading to
Shiva becoming the Brahman.  First there are a lot of Asuras who are the
devotees of Shiva fighting Indra.  Then the Asuras grow in strength, defeat
Indra and take on Vishnu the higher level deity.  Vishnu is eventually
defeated but restored later.  Then Shiva eventually takes on both Vishnu and
Brahma and defeats them.  Then interestingly, there start quite a few fights
between the Shakti groups and Shiva.
But throughout all this Shiva is not actively seen as favoring the Asuras or
the Devas.  He is seen as impartial to both, as Shiva was known not to
favour the "spiritualists" against the "non-spiritualists!"  So Shiva was
respected both by the accepted Devas and the challenging Asuras.  The Devas
are strict followers of all accepted rules and the Asuras are eager to break
the rules.  It seems like a typical case of religious transformation with
many Kshatriyas joining in because the Brahmins had started developing all
kinds of religious rules forbidding the eating of cows and frowning upon
meat in general, in short threatening their way of life.  Viswamitra started
a rebellion because Vasishta wouldn't give him his cow.
  Shaivite practice being a common feature of the north has less to do with the "northern
people vs the southern people" and more to do with the Himalayas.  Even yogis from
Tamilnadu come to the Himalayas, for obvious reasons, the mountains are higher and for
certain yogic practices, the mountain climate is extremely helpful. Thus it would be natural for some of the yogic practices to rub off in the northern
regions, due to contact with the yogis in the region from all parts of Bharat.  And
going by Shaivite legends, Shiva moved from his home in Kailasa in the Himalayas to
Kasi and made it his new home.  It almost seems that mount Kailasa was formerly the
gathering ground for the yogis and given its suspected location, it would be rather
difficult to get to for anyone else.  It is interesting that the Shaivites used Kasi as
a base to spread their beliefs, as the legends say that Shiva and Parvati made Kasi
their home so that they could stay in one place and let their "children" do the
"wandering."  The first Shaivite conflicts with Brahmins occurs in the foothills of the
Himalayas where yogis would naturally come down to defeat the Brahmins thus far
obsessed with the deity of Indra (senses) and Vishnu (balance).
The Brahmins who were obsessed with studying the senses would be forced to eventually
accept that which cannot be perceived by the senses, or the "unmanifest."  And as the
yogis repeatedly would prove to them that their practices gave them capabilities far
beyond the control of their senses, the practices of yoga would be slowly formalized
from those known only to a group of ascetics wandering in the mountains to entering
mainstream society.  This struggle seems to be the subject of several legends.  Indra
vs Vrtra (Devas need to study adamantine bones and veins/arteries of a sage to defeat
Vrtra who is eventually defeated by foam, apparently the discussion seems to be about
hardness/softness and the Shaivite sage had acquired a hardened body before proceeding
to samadhi leaving his body to the followers of the Devas for examination).  Daksha vs
Shiva again introduces the proof of yogic samadhi where Sati casts off her body to
prove the supremacy of her lord Shiva.  But once she does so, her followers are told by
the presiding Vaishnava Bhrigu that she had died due to the smoke (Bhrigu brings forth
many demons from the sacred fire and Sati's body had been consumed by fire, almost
reminiscient of the yogi who gave up his body when taken by the Greeks, on a bonfire).
(further corroboration on Sati)

{During the
yagna of Daksha, one of the Brahmins, I think Dadhici, is chastised by the other
Brahmins for being a Shiva-lover because he insisted that Shiva should be
invited!  When Daksha insults Shiva, Nandi himself curses the Brahmins as nothing
more than ritualists selling their rituals to the highest bidder.  So you see
Brahminism then was not that different from what it is even now!  There were the
ascetics and then there were the Brahmins, and they were two distinct people,
very far apart in their thinking.

It was not really Parvati who was fragmented into 51 pieces, it was Sati, but as
Parvati was another reincarnation of Sati, it is essentially the same thing.  You
have to achieve a basic understanding of what Shiva represents.  Shiva is a
deity.  The deity represents the yogis sitting on the mountains, his abode of
Kailasa is described as the gathering ground of Siddhas etc.  Kailasa by the way
is considered an extremely inhospitable place not reachable by ordinary people.
But yogis seem to manage to walk around quite naked in the Himalayas and the high
altitude and the thin air doesn't seem to bother them.  So it would be the ideal
spot for yogis.  So why is it in the north ?  Because the mountains are higher!
Does it mean it is frequented only by north Indians ?  No, yogis have a strange
way of traveling rather long distances, some have been known to even float in
rivers over prolonged periods.
Shiva represents yoga, and yogic practices were once outside of Hindu society.
That is why Shiva is always personified as this weird and strange character who
does not know the ways of society, just as a naked yogi is not liable to care
about the rules and regulations of society, so does Shiva break them all, he is
considered "bauram baba!"  His actions are a cause of great amusement to the
Devas who are a formal part of Hindu society and know the ways of the Hindu
society.  Sati was the daughter of Daksha, she was a formal deity developed by
Hinduism who married Shiva.  This is essentially like a marriage of two dolls.
There is the deity of Shiva, then there is the deity Sati, and the two are
married probably with great pomp, their marriage attended by all their followers,
quite like deities even today are taken out on certain occasions and given a tour
of the premises with a complete parade etc..  The marriage was important from the
point of view that with this marriage begins the Hindu society's attempt to
actually UNDERSTAND AND EXPLAIN yogic practices.  A Hindu deity from the Hindu
society has gone out and started to explore yoga.  Essentially, through the deity
of Sati, Hindu society is beginning to learn the ways of the ascetic yogis.  But
things go wrong, and Sati is forced to prove the greatness of her husband to
other Brahmins, and she demonstrates by giving up her body (samadhi).  But Bhrigu
and the other Brahmins are still not convinced.  What is a woman to do? In
general the female deity of Parvati represents nature.  Nature has a great
diversity, while consciousness has a stark simplicity and unity.  The diversity
of nature is described as the ornaments on the body of Parvati making her even
more beautiful and as a woman is found to be attractive to a man, so is nature
considered attractive to consciousness, as most people are quite fond of things,
gold diamonds, pretty colors, sweet smells!
So the deity of Sati dies, and the marriage is a failure.  Hindu society
originally rejects the supremacy of Shiva or yoga as the ultimate philosophy.
And then of course the "body" of Sati is divided and different parts "fall" in
different regions.  This simply means that the various followers of Sati
undertook different aspects of study related to the deity and left for different
areas!  So in some region, they decided to focus on the sexual aspects of tantra
(northeast, and Kundalini, notice the strange correlation between philosophy and
the life of a deity yet?).  In another region they decided to explain yoga
intellectually (reason), and others probably concentrated on its foundations
Mantras originated with the 'matrikas' which means the Shakti cult
with its 50 pithas one for each of the letters (body of Sati being
distributed across Bharat), and the foremost and most ancient proponent of
the Shakti cult is considered to be the Kshatriya Bhairava who originated
the practices and rituals of Kali.
Then of course Sati becomes reincarnated as Parvati.  What has happened?  The
philosophy of Sati has now been revised and it has come to life in the form of a
new deity.  All those thinkers who had left for different regions have been doing
some work and now the new generation is born, Parvati, a new theory of nature and
prakrti.  Notice the personification of the deity, she is a royal princess,
meaning the philosophy grew up in royal courts of India.  But she is extremely
intrigued by Shiva, and decides early to "acquire" him for a husband.  Notice
that she has to actually practice penance, to understand the yogic practices.
And finally, after considerable effort she obtains Shiva!  This time the marriage
is successful and the incident is the most holy occasion in all of Hinduism!  Now
Hindu society has achieved unity of "dhyana" and "prakrti."  Shiva is united with
Parvati!  Does their marriage and settlement in Kasi mean that all the work was
done by thinkers in the north ?  Of course not, thinkers in Bharat criss-crossed
the entire region quite easily.  In Kerala there was another female deity who
also wanted to marry Shiva, but unfortunately she waited forever, as Parvati beat
her to it!
Interestingly, there is a folk song in Magghi regarding the marriage.  And Shiva
is described as being bedecked in the most repulsive appearance, having come to
marry Parvati, quite high on "dhatura!"  This is before the marriage, and
everyone laughs at Shiva, because he does not know the ways of society, nor does
he care for them.  But Parvati insists on marrying him, and the marriage is
presided over by all the deities including the Devas, with Brahma presiding over
the rituals.  After Parvati marries him, Shiva assumes a "gentler" form!  Now
yogic practices assume a gentler form in Hindu society, the people who practice
them don't quite look like the Naga sadhus, walking around naked with ashes all
over, probably smelling terrible, with matted hair (the jata of Shiva).
So before you are disappointed with something, at least contemplate what you are
disappointed with!}

Interestingly, even in China, once Da Mo, by modern scholars considered to be a
Kshatriya rather than Brahmin from the south, brings this same knowledge to China.  And
one Chinese manuscripts expresses surprise that the practices seem to give
"supernatural" powers.  Since then there have been many Chinese martial artists and who
still exist today who claim to develop adamantine bones, externalization of prana to
cause damage without touching from a short distance, or even disabling a person from a
short distance.
 This seems to be a common theme in yogic history.  In Hinduism yoga rises as Shaivism.
In Buddhism yoga rises as Yogachara of Vasubandhu, and in China it finds its way into
Taoism, Taoist yoga being extremely similar to Kundalini.  What is interesting about
all these accounts is that initially nobody believes the effects of yoga, and
eventually everyone is forced to accept it.  As far as I known only Hinduism seem to
have the concept of  "samadhi."  And Hindu Shaivite legends, particularly those of the
northern Himalayas are extremely interesting as they provide far greater detail, almost
meant as hints for would be yogis as to place and practice etc.

In most religions there are at least the paths of bhakti (devotion) and
jnaan (knowledge).  The path of bhakti finds it difficult to resolve
differences between one path and another.  The path of jaana does not and
rather delights in it.
If any other religion deems itself equal to the philosophy of yoga, let it
prove itself!  There is no automatic granting of equality, not even by seers
like Janaka.  This tendency is common to only fraudulent gurus of the west
trying to make a quick buck by increasing the appeal of their philosophy by
being "politically correct."

 Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is concerned with the higher meditative
practices, therefore the comfortable sitting asanas associated with Raja
Yoga.  Hatha Yoga Pradipika attempts to develop the body to the point of
enabling higher meditative practice, it itself declares its intention as the
FIRST line.  For the same reason when the founder of Chan/Zen Buddhism left
India, he had all the monks start exercising and doing martial arts.  The
temple developed into the Shaolin temple now famous in China for its kung
fu.  It is imperative that the body be taken to the point where deep
meditation is possible for prolonged periods.  This could happen for some
outdoors types (hunters etc.) without much effort.  But for the rest, they
have to resort to some kind of an exercise regimen, therefore the asanas of
Hatha Yoga.  They are both yoga, one provides physical exercises to enable
the meditative exercises. 

The purpose of Raja Yoga is to achieve knowledge and experience of the atma.
Once achieved it is not the case that everyone is equal to such a yogi, or
that such a yogi cannot perform this or that karma or believes that every
babbling devotional idiot is the same as himself.  King Janaka having
achieved the state described the various kinds of knowledgeable people,
hardly something that blindly grants everyone equality.  

Kunal Singh: On Vedic vs Western cosmology

The difference between Hinduism and western science is primarily in
the western science's inability to separate itself from the human
perspective.  They all talk about the universe's creation in "sensory"
terms, in terms of its changing dimensions.  In Hinduism, the universe
starts from the "hiranyagarbha" (infinitesimally small womb or egg).
There are no senses at this point, therefore there is no concept of
dimension or form or even time and that is the essence of the term
"hiranyagarbha", not that it is "physically small".  That then splits
in two, representing the concept of polarity.  Brahma was said to have
problems with creation, regarding how to proceed and cause things to
"move" and Vishnu, the expert with cycles and the wielder of chakras,
helped him by splitting the egg in two and permeating it with
Basically the concept of polarity enables a cycle with two
phases, just as in an electric circuit.  Once you have polarity, you
can logically proceed to four phases, the two poles, and the continual
mergence and the emergence from these states.  Several other "layers"
or levels of creation then follow, including things such as the gunas,
the ego, the five tattwas and then the five senses and the five gross
classes of elements.  Once the issues of "primary" creation are
addressed or the very basics of creation leading to the senses and
their related elements, then "secondary" creation follows.
Subsequently, creation is followed all the way down to the concept of
sexuality.  Because at first all of Brahma's creations are yogis and
exhibit no desire to procreate.  Then he goes to Shiva for help on the
explanation of sexuality and he is shown the half-man/half-woman form
united in the single body and that dispels his confusion.

But the essential difference is that Hinduism addresses the issue
quite abstractly with a profound understanding of the senses and the
nature of the self carefully discriminating between the more
fundamental concepts with derived concepts.  Western science seems to
rely excessively on the physical explanation.

One day it claims the universe is expanding, the other day it claims
that it is shrinking.
One day some guy comes up with the theory that space is like a fabric
and all the matter is suspended in it like balls on a sheet causing
depressions which cause gravity or mass to mass attraction.  Then
another guy insists that the world is created from waves.  Some are
intrigued by light.  In short, I find the western explanations quite
chaotic and almost always centered around visual or sensory concepts
which makes one wonder how all that precedes the senses could possibly
be explained!

Kunal Singh: On Vedic vs Puranic dieties

(The contents can be confirmed from many Puranas including the Skanda) Actually, the logic regarding the statement that Rama, Krishna, or
Kali are Dravidian deities IS flawed! Hinduism of Bharat is a
synthesis of ideas, including that of Indra and yogic ascetics and
various tribes including those of the north-east.  That Persia has
only the counterpart of Indra, means very little, as that would only
signify the lack of evolution of the deity. The notion of Indra has essentially evolved due to its interaction
with yogis whose numbers are considerable still in the Himalayan
regions.  Whether you consider yoga to be Dravidian or North Eastern
or Tribal is irrelevant.  The fact remains that the deities thus
produced cannot be deemed solely Dravidian nor Persian.  The earliest
mentions of Indra as the supreme God by the Vedas apparently predate
Indra being challenged by the various Asuras of the north-east.
Indra's life in the Gangetic plains continues as he is challenged
first by the Asura Vrtra and then subsequently by the Asura Bali.
Most Asuras were deemed to be Shaivites and as such relied on yogic
practices which gave them knowledge considerably more advanced than
the proponents of Indra.   Indra loses his main proponent, I think Brhaspati, and has to resort
to Trisiras who supposedly had three heads to carry on the rites and
rituals of the Devas.  Trisiras was caught by Indra blessing the Devas
with one head, the humans with the other, and the Asuras with the
third.  Thus Indra beheads Trisiras, a brahmin, and is caught in the
sin of killing a brahmin, which haunts him in the form of a black
shadow of sorts.  Indra hides under the water due to the shame
surrounding his act with the black shadow waiting for him outside.
Interestingly, after Indra thus becomes absent from heaven, two kings
from the Prithviloka (earthly realm) are taken to heaven to replace
him.  The first is Nahusa who ends up being cursed by a sage for
disrespecting brahmins.  The second is Yayati (yes Yadu's ancestor)
who gradually falls from heaven simply due to his bragging.  But in
both cases, the kings are taken to heaven in an aerial chariot,
perhaps alluding to the fact that in those times, it was possible for
kings to replace Indra in heaven after performing so many sacrifices
and yagnas etc.  The kings were said to have the same "features" as
Indra, seemingly retro-fitted into the philosophy, renamed after them.
But in any case, Saci, Indra's wife manages to rescue her husband who
returns to heaven, performs a yagna with the blessings of Brahaspati
for cleansing him of his sin, and many aspects of Prithvi, including
trees, women etc. have to accept a part of his sin. But then Indra's troubles have only started, as he has to deal with
the Shaivite Asuras.  Interestingly, the sage who is the father of
Trisiras, whom Indra had killed, becomes quite opposed to Indra for
having killed his son.  I can't remember exactly, but the chain of
events may have led to the creation of the Asura Vrtra.  In any case
Indra is challenged by Vrtra, and is forced to seek the assistance of
the Shaivite sage Dadhici who seems to have derived from the yogis the
first instance of developing adamantine bones (current martial arts
still have aspects of such training).  Dadhici, though seemingly new
to Shaivism, becomes an advanced practitioner and is given the boons
of adamatine bones and Mrtyunjaya (conquest of death) by Shiva.  Indra
wants the bones of Dadhici to be able to defend himself against Vrtra.
In order for this to happen, however, Dadhici has to die.  Fortunately
for Indra, Dadhici was planning on entering samadhi (Mrtyunjaya ?)
anyway and Dadhici after entering a deep state of concentration leaves
for Brahmaloka.  After Dadhici's death, Indra and company proceed to
examine his corpse -- the divine cow having licked all the flesh off
the dead body.  His bones are taken, Indra's vajra is fashioned and
another weapon as well (Brahmasirsha ?) from his skull.  In addition,
the various Devas also notice something unusual about Dadhici's veins
and nerves -- I guess they may have been unusually strong as well.  And
they fashion nooses out of them to catch the Asuras.  Unfortunately,
for the Devas, they offend Dadhici's wife in the process, who seeing
the state of her husband's body and being unaware of his intention to
donate his body to the Devas, curses the Devas.  After bearing a child
she proceeds to follow her husband to Brahmaloka by yogic practice.What we eventually see is that there is a split even in the followers
of Indra.  Just as Dadhici had crossed over to Shaivism, some sages or
their children cross over to the side of Shaivism and the Asuras, but
largely due to personal issues, such as the cursing of the Devas by
the wife of Dadhici etc.  They find Indra to be quite desperate and
immoral and willing to do anything to retain his throne.  At this
juncture, the Asuras are highly praised for being quite ascetic and
detached in comparison to Indra! Eventually, Indra attempts to defeat Vrtra by the weapons fashioned
from the hardened bones, fails to make a dent in the Asura who
probably was already aware of the yogic practice and is advised by
Brahma to resort to yogic penance.  Brahma tells Indra that the Asuras
achieve their strength from yogic penance, and that they can't be
defeated by him with ordinary weapons.  Thus Indra finally resorts to
yogic penance, seems quite new at it, and finally defeats Vrtra using
foam from the ocean. Indra is then challenged by Bali, who finally defeats him and
conquers heaven.  I don't know if it was one of his associates or just
someone along the way, but in the meantime even a gambler becomes the
ruler of heaven, and he gives away all the property of Indra the gems
from the Churning of the Ocean -- the divine horse, the divine cow (to
Vasishta) etc.  An issue about morality and dharma arises between the
Shaivites and the Vaishnavs and a Shaivite sage defends his act as
that of detachment.  But Indra wants all his property back somehow!
Vishnu attempts to defeat Bali with his Sudarshana and his other
weapons.  But all the weapons complain saying that they cannot defeat
Bali, as he is impervious to them.  Eventually, Vishnu is able to
retain his position only by asking for alms from Bali. Thus I think it is safe to say that Indra is eventually defeated by
the Asuras and loses his position as the superior deity and even his
proponents eventually came to accept that in the face of greater
knowledge possessed by yogis.  If Persians never defeated Indra, it
was because they didn't have yogis who could conquer their senses.
And Indra simply becomes associated with the senses which assume a
lower status to consciousness in Hinduism.

(A response to a Punjabi supremacist AIT believer called Gurupdesh Singh)

If a deity comes after another in time, does that mean the original
deity is Aryan while the latter is Dravidian from "indigineous
Dravidian traditions" ?  He should minimally have to prove that the
Dravidian deities existed at the same time as Indra!  Since he can't
find them in the Rg Veda, the earliest known documentation of this
kind, I guess he will have to resort to other archaelogical research
which must precede Rg Veda.  Otherwise, we shall conclude that he
simply wants to claim the Vedic heritage of Indra for his
sapta-sindhvi comrades! Secondly the saptha sindhvi shashtri claims that due to the
commonality between the Rg Veda and the Persian traditions, that must
be the original Vedic tradition while due to the fact that the
Gangetic plains traditions, while having Vedic influence, have
developed other deities, they must not be Aryan!  But how should we
know that it is not the Persian tradition which is the original and
the saptha sindhvi Rg Veda a copy of it ?  And even more importantly,
since the Persians are now Muslims who worship the deity of Allah, why
should we accept that they were or are still true to Aryan tradition ?
As apparently their deities have changed, I don't recall Allah
mentioned anywhere in the Rg Veda.  And how about saptha sindhva and
the worshipping of the deity of Guru Nanak ?  I don't recall him
mentioned in the Rg Veda either!  Perhaps none of these sapta sindhvis
are Aryan after all!  So what happened to these fictitious Aryans,
perhaps they never existed, we may never know! Last flaw in Gurupdesh's part is the assumption that any dark-skinned
deity is necessarily Dravidian and any light-skinned deity is
necessarily Aryan!  That would make Shiva quite Aryan as he is
described to be as pure as camphor (purity implies absoluteness or
constancy or lack of change as consciousness is described to be)!  Of
course that may originally make Parvati a Dravidian deity that somehow
became an Aryan deity (cosmetic bleaching perhaps?).  Later Parvati
must have become an Aryan because she became light skinned!  (There is
a story regarding Parvati or Prakrti originally being dark or impure
or subject to time, and then Shiva extracts Kali or the sense of time
or change in Prakrti (nature) from her shadow, and then Parvati
becomes pure.  It is quite a cute story as it is typically portrayed
as a dialog between a husband and his wife, Parvati asking her husband
if her dark skin made her less attractive to him, and Shiva as her
husband repeatedly denying it offering other reasons for the
transformation.) So you see sapta-sindhvi shastri Gurupdesh Singh is simply not
familiar with the Vedic principles despite his remarkable desire to
claim the Vedas for his saptha-sindhva region.  And the lack of this
understanding seems to continually hinder him in his attempts!  Though
I guess saptha-sindhvis can adopt the practice of making
horse-sacrifices, I don't think most Vedic people wish to go back to
days when Indra was the supreme deity.  For in the Gangetic plains,
the senses or Indriyan met the yogis and the yogis conquered the
senses!  The people witnessed it, they recorded it, and they have
learned from it.  Thus the Vedic people know that Indra cannot be
superior to Shiva even if Shiva is not mentioned in the Rg Veda!

Friday, March 27, 2015

John Adams, Savarkar,Vivekananda and Chetan Bhagat


The original title of this post was John Adams, Savarkar, Vivekananda and 3 Idiots(the film based on Chetan Bhagat's book) but I was concerned that some irate readers may misinterpret that I was referring to the aforementioned esteemed individuals as the 3 idiots in question. Unlike a certain blogger I try to avoid click bait incendiary titles.

As what these gentleman have in common, well please read on.

I saw 3 Idiots with my parents when it had released in 2009 . Watching it with your parents was interesting experience as I was subject to the same pressure of most other Indian middle class kids ie major in engineering, get an MBA and find a good job abroad. In my case I was bit a goof off in college especially as an undergrad in America(so many distractions..)so I while I was smart enough for engineering I wasn't quite disciplined. And if you are not disciplined you aren't going nowhere in engineering no matter how smart you are. Ultimately I ended up in MIS and Business and touch wood am making more than I would've if I pursued engineering(of course since I am self employed, this comes with certain caveats)

This brings me a tiff I had with the depiction of Aamir Khan as a born genius. As Einstein said, genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Yet we rarely ever see this seemingly smart alek study or exert any academic discipline and yet he is always tops his class.This is what annoyed me about another movie featuring a blue collar genius- Good Will Hunting. Will Hunting(ably though a bit smugly played by Matt Damon) didn't seem to exert any effort at applying his seemingly superhuman genius except showing off to get women.

Both movies are beset by post 60s sentimentality and a therapeutic culture(in GWH ,Will Hunting goes as far as to hug his psychiatric at the end). Which is what is really wrong with our culture as well. We seem to be a unholy mixture  of cold calculating pragmatism and sappy syrupy sentimentalism which often masquerades as idealism. As a result we get the worst of both worlds.
And  neither are our leaders ,academics or entertainers exempt from this dysfuntion.

Rajkumar Hirani achieved fame with a remake of yet another Robin Williams(who himself was notorious for routine dissemination of formulaic schmaltz) film Patch Adams which we know as Munnabhai MBBS. We are sagely informed by this lovable street thug that we shouldn't be so unfeeling as to treat a patient as a moving part on an assembly and a good number of the worlds problems can be solved by a jaadu ki jhappi( a bear hug)
As an aside, how many lovable thugs do you know? What is with this Rousseauan love of lowlifes and criminals amongst filmmakers?
Of course the much demonized Dean (deliriously played by Boman Irani) is correct. It is impossible to function ably as a physician if you get too attached to your charges. A certain level of detachment is crucial in order to perform your duties. And isn't it understood that if it weren't for compassion, most of those who practice medicine wouldn't spend years of rigorous training in medical school and internship?

Hirani's former boss Vidhu Vinod Chopra and producer of MBBS suffers from the same disease of post 60s sentimentality. One of his first films(as a writer) was Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron - a hilarious satire of the corruption and incestuous politics of real estate kingpins ,media and municipality in Mumbai  which includes a not too subtle reference to Shobha De(shobhaji). Often the hapless duo Sudhir and Vinod (in a self homage to the writers Sudheer Mishra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra) break out into "hum honge kaamyab" a desi version of the Vietnam era hippie song "We shall overcome some day"(which in turn was misappropriated from the civil rights movement and gospel music)

VVC ditches whatever subtlety he was holding and ended a gritty gangster flick Parinda with a bunch of cuddly children in angel attire singing the same some towards the end.

In his next film 1942 : A love story , the protagonist played by Anil Kapoor repeats another clich├ęd crie de couer of the lovelorn youth of yore when confronted by his beau's admittedly unreasonably father about how he could he think of love during a time of revolution "If everyone loved each other what then is the need for revolution".
Sappy long hair neer do well in Haight Ashbury San Fransisco circa 1968 couldn't have put it better themselves

In Mission Kashmir, he went as far to indulge in their own secular propaganda that the REAL victims in Kashmir were not Kashmiri pandits who were hounded out of their own state but good natured moderate Muslims who were unfairly castigated as terrorist sympathizers.
Philip Lutgendorf , a professor of Indian popular culture and not unsympathetic to Indian seculars , feels fit to mock the sappiness that oozes through the screen

"While plotting to blow up Sufi’s transmission tower, Altaaf takes time out to dance exuberantly in her televised spectacles of National Integration. These might be auto-parody, or just incredibly bad taste: they conjure up a Never-Never-Kashmir, literally Made For (and of) TV, with “lakes” formed of glass blocks that resemble sets, upon which colorfully-costumed “natives” sing souped-up Kashmiri folksongs about bumble bees and communal harmony, with all the enthusiasm of, say, Chinese extras in a Beijing musical about life in Lhasa…. To be fair, the film makes brief, sporadic efforts to complicate its own picture: its secessionist militants are sympathetically shown as good-natured, tea-drinking boys who have simply fallen into Bad (Islamic fundamentalist) Company—though this furthers the depiction of Muslims as errant children who need to be straightened out.
Reborn after a purifyingdubki (immersion) in Dal Lake, his boyish dreams are no longer of unavenged massacres, but of (what else?) an Astroturf cricket pitch. Itself a Great Indian Metaphor—that other, less-sanguine battlefield for Indo-Pak rivalries, and lately for the revision of colonial history

He goes even further to degrade traditional norms and sense of duty in his stately but ultimately hollow Eklavya where the prince ponders about like Hamlet about the insanity of duty ,honor and tradition while his own father in the end is guilty of dereliction of duty when he refuses to kill his son.
Say what you want about the rather corny Kamalahassan film Indian where he plays both , an idealistic Kalari practicing INA veteran turned vigilante as well as his corrupt and glib government servant son. The former's killing of the latter made sense morally and narratively while VVC as always indulged in a sentimental copout in Eklavya

And so I hope the reader realizes how thoroughly marinated in regressive liberalism of a Western bent is the entertainment. Packaging Western hippie values in an Indian context does far greater damage to our youth than any subliminal Rothschild propaganda. 

Rajkumar Hirani and Chetan Bhagat have to little to offer our youth except "follow your dreams" and everything will be ok. Following one's dreams led many young people in U.S to major in such esteemed degree such Transgendered roles in 1950s popular, Fijian pottery and Gay and Lesbian Black studies.
As you may have guessed the employers are not exactly swarming towards them with job offers. Whats even worse is these young students are now chained by student debt they have taken to pursue their worthless majors. So much for following your dreams.

Theodore Dalrymple aptly notes that most of the revolutionary unrest since the 20th century was not started by the poor but by college educated middle class youth who felt they were not given the appropriate jobs,monies and prestige to which they felt entitled.

Rancho in 3 Idiots counsels his friends when they do poorly in engineering that they do what interests them ie photography and writing. At this point , my eyes were rolling so far behind my socket that I looked like a horror movie prop.

Who DOESNT consider himself a good writer or photographer. I remember buying a very expensive camera planning to become a photographer part time. And trust me, photography is just much a discipline as an art. There is just so much to learn with the aperture,flash, timing, zoom, framing ,lenses, optics and god knows what else. I eventually sold the camera and moved on.

Similarly writing is not a talent that one can acquire overnight. In the movie the character with the penchant for the pen is shown as a successful blogger?!!

In short the guy who did well in engineering was a born genius who didn't do a lick of studying. The photographer simply picked up a camera and started clicking and before you know it he had his own book on wildlife and the writer now runs a successful blog...once again -??!!

Is this really the type of message we want our children to learn?Even a prosperous country like U.S struggles to provide employment for its humanities graduates, what scope is there for a country like India?

But wait you ask," isn't humanities- the study of art,literature, music and sculpture the jewels and ornaments of a civilization? Sure we all need STEM but we crave the humanities." Why yes. I will go as further as to say that humanities are the soul of a country if the STEM is the body.
We need both.

I believe ideally it is the very rich whose offspring should pursue these pleasant occupations because well they can afford to. Full stop. And we cant be rich if we don't have a generation to sweat it out for its offspring.

Therefore need STEM and entrepreneurs and more of it first. This brings me to Founding Father and U.S President John Adams. I believe this was his response as to why he wasn't a renaissance man

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts.I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture,navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children
a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary,
tapestry and porcelain.

One wonders if he meant it literally as John Adam's son, John Quincy Adams later became president ( a fact not lost on George Bush 41 who used to refer to George Bush 43 as "Quincy" while prepping him to be President) himself though he didn't quite have the luxury yet of studying mathematics or philosophy. He studied law and through his impeccable diplomacy greatly expanded the size of the United States.
Our forefathers Patel,Rajaji,Bose, Savarkar,Nehru,Gandhi have done their duty studying government and law.
We are have not kept up our end of the bargain for the last two generations and are already  willing to throw in the towel and move on to the more pleasant and stress fee distractions.

As early as 1910 Savarkar lamented that even back then too many Indians were attracted to the humanities which he saw a sign of escapism. He went as far as to state that Indians were Shudras ,at best Vaishyas and hence they should take up trades such as the engineering and hard sciences. At the same time he observed that the British and Americans were the equivalent of Kshatriyas and therefore were now suited to study the Vedas.

Vivekananda went even further and stated that a person who plays football is closer to god than someone who studies the Gita all day. He despaired that Indians were so physically weak . He believed also that much of heavily introspective and melancholic Indian music of the era enervated and demoralized the populace. "Are there no drums in this country"? He once asked cheekily.

"For gods sake stop swinging your arms like lassoes" implored a Indian student in Cambridge, a certain Subhash Bose, to his fellow compatriots.

Such type of populace as described by Vivekananda, Savarkar and Bose were not ready for war. War being an extension of politics which students were supposed to study. It was no less than Plato who stated the scholar should also be an athlete. These three individuals also recommended that we put aside our taboo about meat and consume the necessary protein at least for the sake of country.

How far we had fallen from the Vedic ideal where the students were taught dandaniti(governance) and prajatantra(politics) irrespective of whether these elites students owed their allegiance to a monarchy or republican state.

It is hard to believe that a religion that was so fixated on the myriad of ways the human body can approach the divine was lacking in a physical culture.

No less than Charak and Sushruta(who recommended beef) insist on daily exercise and no not just for Kshatriyas!

Alas just as Gandhi discovered his pacific Hinduism from second hand inaccurate sources such as Tolstoy,our youth are indulging in silliness such as self actualization and "finding myself" via 1960s Western liberalism which came about due to events in which we had absolutely no stake.

I wish I was exaggerating when I say the real religion of India today is Bollywood. I remember speaking to some youth last year when I visited India and they didn't know who Chandragupta Maurya or Chanakya were. But they were more than willing to share with the going ons of Big Boss and the latest escapades of Sunny Leone.

Should we encourage this lot to "follow their dreams"?

On a positive note. I will end by saying that I am very pleased the Chinese youth are big fans of 3 Idiots. I look forward to its Chinese remake. Indeed the Indian government should fund the production.
It will do more damage to the future Chinese power than those scores of Axis leaflets had done the Allied morale.
Our surplus humanities graduates will need all the jobs they can get. Even as factory hands....

Kunal Singh: What is Hinduism?

Hinduism is not concerned with relative opinions of 'goodness' which varies from person to
person, but the absolute truth described by the structure and relationships of its various deities.  Any cursory reading of the Upanisads will make it
clear that the greatest emphasis in Hinduism is on performing penance to
acquire the Brahman.  Most people so far have had trouble on the definition
of 'penance' and the meaning of the acquisition of Brahman or even a minor
deity in Hinduism.  However, if you search the Vedas and the associated
Upanisads, you will find that Hinduism describes the universe as comprising
of the three-fold realm: the heaven, the middle, and the earthly.  So for
the manifest world for every deity there is a heavenly realm, thus the
planets and their association with Hindu deities.  Then there is the
intermediate realm, thus the seasons, the external elements and their
association with the deities etc.  Then there is the inner realm, the
effects of the planetary rotations on the seasons and the inner body, its
shakti or energy flow, thus the body's association with the deities.  Thus
the definition of penance in Hinduism is 'yoga' or that which unifies the
three, allows the practitioner to realize the unity of all three realms.  A
yoga practitioner is expected to understand the earth realm, both outer and
inner, in other words the effects of the outer on the inner.  He is expected
to understand the middle realm, the effects of the elements on the inner.
And then he is expected to understand the effects of the heavenly realm on
the inner.
Rules and recommendations relating to dietary control, sexual control, mood
control, are all intended to enable penance so that a person does not give
up penance in pursuit of some personal desire which he enjoys more than
penance.  If a Hindu performs penance, but kills, its OK.  If he continues
to perform penance and has sex, that's OK.  If he continues to perform
penance and drinks alcohol that's OK.  As long as he remains sufficiently in
control to continue performance of penance, he is fine.  Without performing
penance, if he abstains from any kind of food or even sex, his efforts will
be largely in vain.  For he is following the restrictions without performing
what the restrictions were supposed to enable in the first place.  Thus you
have all kinds of vegetarians who despite becoming quite degenerated do not
acquire to any Hindu deity.  You have 'brahamachari' celibate religious
figures who cannot even explain the effects of various yoga techniques.  You
have many book readers well versed in the 'shashtras' who cannot even figure
out what the words mean, at best they can attempt the 'best sounding'
Hinduism had been handed down to the Hindu priests from ancient Kshatriya
kings who were extremely physical in nature.  Their physical nature, and
their prolonged physical pursuits enabled them to feel the effects of the
planets on the body, the effects of the elements on the body, the effects of
the yoga techniques on the body.  None of the practices recommended in
Hinduism to acquire to various deities are a result of 'empirical' or
'statistical' determination or guess work or worse yet some kind of
superstition.  They are literally the result of being able to feel the
effects on the body, and then have its understanding integrated into the
larger understanding of the universe.  In the beginning there were many
Kshatriyas who were well versed in the science of 'internal training' or
'internal/spiritual energy.'  They taught many techniques to the Hindu
Brahmins so that they could verify their experiences for themselves, thus
you have people such as Ashtavakra or Yajnavalkya in the Upanisads almost
being raised by the Kings in their courts and finally 'acquiring to the
Brahman' by following their teachings.  But as time passed, political
upheavals took their toll, foreigners invaded, and the original kings and
their traditions were largely destroyed and the Brahmins were left with
voluminous works, but no understanding of them.  Thus Hinduism became a
collection of 'rites and rituals.'
 Let's take a subject such as astrology, the much maligned and perhaps
considered the most riddled with 'superstition.'  Astrology does not begin
in Hinduism with a rather random guess at what could perhaps be the effects
of the Sun in this position and perhaps sampling about a thousand people to
see if that is indeed true!  Astrology begins with first identifying which
part of the body is affected by the Sun whose position is determined by its
backdrop against the zodiac.  Then recommendations are made for a person
born with the Sun in that position.  Even the mind is deemed controlled by
the planetary positions, certain parts of the body are deemed to lead to
certain kinds of thoughts.  Thus over time, it becomes possible to determine
if a person would tend towards material, sexual, or perhaps sensory
fullfillment.  And before you 'pooh pooh' all astrology because most
astrologers couldn't tell where the Sun is in the zodiac if they weren't
allowed to look at the sky, Capricorns like Vajpayee will tend to have weak
knees!  As to why that would be so, I leave that as an exercise for the
famed vegetarian astrologer Jai Maharaj.  But rest assured that if you
progress in your path of penance for at least three years and if you have a
good understanding of what comprises effective 'penance' then you will be
able to tell where the Sun is in your body!  Finding the 'apsaras' will
probably take a longer time. Similarly the subject of Ayurveda or traditional Hindu medicine also relies
on this understanding of the universe, understanding of the Hindu deities,
their placement within the body, the effects of various substances on the
The subject of yoga provides the very understanding which is employed
in both astrology and ayurveda.  Thus the understanding of Hindu deities is
central to the understanding of either subject.  And yet, it seems that it
is this understanding which is thoroughly absent from most of the 'renowned
Hindu religious leaders.'  Though some of the early Hindu religious leaders
were quite excited about yoga, they failed to connect their understanding of
the yogic practices with the various Hindu deities.  Many even recommended
abandoning the deities and particularly the rites and rituals associated
with them.  Even men such as Vivekananda were not able to understand the
relationship.  The reason was, they were not trained Kshatriyas and their
physical capacity was quite limited, their physical purity was nowhere even
close to that of the ancient Kings. Thus let us proceed to the 'mystical' world and make it less 'mystical.'
The subject of Hinduism cannot be even broached without an understanding of
'spiritual power' or 'shakti' termed in other Eastern religions as 'internal
energy.'  I used to think that there were three clear levels of
accomplishment in the realm of 'internal energy' but now I think there are
indeed five.The first stage is that of total ignorance.  You rely entirely on faith and
continue certain practices.  At this point most people view meditation as
some kind of trained visualization technique, perhaps a self-induced
hypnosis.  At this stage the practitioner doesn't really feel anything,
other than the much proclaimed and highly exaggerated 'calming influence.'
However, the practitioner derives some minor health benefits from it, such
as improved circulation etc.  Many such practitioners insist that they felt
this or that sensation, but most such effects do not reproduce easily and
seem quite diverse for various practitioners, as various nerves in their
bodies adjust to the practice causing various 'feelings.'  This feeling, if
proper training is carried on, should not last for more than two years.
After two years, you begin to have an inkling that there is something quite
'real' in the practice, but it comes and goes. 
The second stage is that of the opening of the kundalini, typically occurs
close to three years or so.  Yes, I know that quite a few people believe
that the opening of the kundalini is the 'highest stage' but I no longer
believe so, it seems to be the beginning stage.  The opening of the
'kundalini' associated with the 'serpent power' is accomplished when one can
circulate the energy along the spine.  This for the first time is a very
real and distinct experience and is common to all practitioners, there is no
longer any variance of experience once it is accomplished.  The practitioner
can now move his internal energy along various energy centers along the
spinal column.  He can tell that if he moves his energy to a particular
point, he has a great sense of that region and he loses sense of the other
regions.  Thus he can determine that if a person was born with his energy
predominant at a certain region, he would be greatly influenced by the
desires of that region.  At this point, the experience of kundalini itself
is uniform, however, as the energy strengthens different practitioners may
feel different regions of the body adjusting.  Some may feel their face
tingling for days, others may find that some physical activity causes energy
to rush to their heads etc.  At this point they cannot move the energy
beyond the region of the spine.  In the realm of Hinduism, the spine is
called the 'Meru danda' and the head 'Mount Meru' the abode of the deities.
In the Chinese martial culture, which to a great extent has been influenced
by the Buddhist traditions of India as well, this stage is termed achieving
the 'small circulation.' The third stage is that of achieving circulation within the inner body,
excluding the muscles or the skeletal system considered the 'external' body.
Thus within the torso region, one can circulate the energy and move it to
various regions, different organs and feel it quite strongly or sometimes
weakly, depending on the phase of the moon, but with no doubt regarding the
movement..  This point enables the practitioner to achieve greater longevity
and in the Chinese martial tradition is termed achieving the 'grand
circulation.'  At this point from a Hindu point of view, or perhaps I should
say from my personal point of view, ALL MUDRAS, EFFECTS OF DIRECTIONS, HINDU
RITES AND RITUALS, BECOME APPARENT!  It becomes apparent as to what the
purpose of those activities are as one can FEEL THE CHANGE IN THE INTERNAL
APPLICATION!  At this point, the practitioner is nowhere close to an ancient
Kshatriya.  But he is better positioned to understand the various religious
rites and rituals.  This was the stage commonly achieved by many Hindu
Brahmin officiating priests, actually it would have been a minimal
requirement.  This is also the minimal achievement if one wanted to be a
sorcerer or witch or cast spells.
 The fourth stage is that of being able to bring the internal energy to the
external body, giving it unusual physical properties.  And thus it should
become clear why the ancient Kshatriyas pursued this knowledge.  This is the
stage at least desired by many Kshatriyas in Hinduism who wanted to acquire
'divine weapons' or 'divyastra!'  This stage enables a person to possess
unusual strength and stamina.  A person could be hit with a blunt weapon
without incurring injury, sometimes even with sharp weapons and still
protect himself from being pierced.  There are still people in both India
and China who have achieved a level of training within this class.  They can
often be seen pulling trucks etc. have vehicles go over them, tearing some
thin metals, have spears bent at their throats, suspending themselves over a
spear etc. The last stage is that of being able to strike someone with internal energy
from a short distance without any physical contact whatsoever.  This
provides the ability to affect the external world directly with internal
energy with immediate effect.  Thus one can disrupt the energy flow of
another's body without any external implement.  Only martial artists have
been known to possess this for obvious reasons.  Their internal training
combined with the external enables them to externalize the energy over time.
Though I've seen my own Kung Fu Grandmaster make people lose physical
control over time, I have never heard of him striking anyone with directed
energy.  The only ones who seem to have publicly demonstrated this ability
are Japanese Buddhist monks. And thus the final point.  Penance is the cultivation of internal energy.
Hinduism enables such cultivation.  However, there is no restriction as to
its usage.  For who will tell such a disciplined person, who will
distinguish for him right and wrong better than him!  It would be like
children trying to teach the master.  Thus the energy can be used to heal
and it can be used to kill and neither is good or bad, it all depends on the
circumstance and the person's judgement.  A person who achieves it is
entitled by definition to use it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Axis propaganda leaflets targeted towards Indians

I found this very interesting site which contains a rich collection of mostly Japanese propaganda as well as some indigenous efforts working in cahoots with Axis towards the goal of removing British rule from India , mostly in Hindi,Urdu,Punjabi,English and Bengali.As well as interesting commentary on the same by and Indian and Western authors.

A fascinating glimpse into India during wartime.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chanakya and Krishna as management consultants

I found this humorous write up more than 10 years ago online. The website which carried it indiawww.com is now defunct but let us honor their memory by enjoying one of their greatest hits.

CHANAKYA is India's third most famous management consultant. The most worshipped is Krishna because he was also a philosopher. He guided Pandava Trust Ltd., which was a garage enterprise of five brothers, for 14 years and had no venture capital support. Krishna produced a superb report and saw that it was implemented. He led Pandava Trust to global success. Krishna was also history's only online management consultant; he was always in touch with reality wherever it happened. . The second famous consultant was Krishna's rival in the Mahabharata war for market supremacy, Shakuni. He guided Kaurava Pvt Ltd, a family enterprise that had grown into a large corporate and feudal empire. Kauravas not only refused to subcontract to the Pandava start-up, but also had the enterprise evicted. Shakuni was not a philosopher; he had no long-range vision. That is, he had an extensive database, good software, and knowledgeable deep links, but he lacked wisdom. Information and knowledge are insufficient tools unless backed by wisdom. So Shakuni and his clients lost the market war. 
Both these consultants are so far back in India's past that they are almost mythology. India's first modern management consultant was Chanakya, in the fourth century B.C. He was humiliated by Nanda, the boss of the then largest corporation in northern India - Magadha Inc. Incensed, Chanakya vowed to destroy Nanda.  
He looked for a start-up or a skilled youngster who could be trained to take on and defeat Nanda. He found Chandragupta Maurya. Eventually, Chandragupta defeated Nanda and took over Magadha Inc. and expanded it considerably under Chanakya's guidance. Magadha Inc. was also the first Indian enterprise to have a tie-up with a foreign multinational - the Greek empire which had been launched by Alexander the Great. Chandragupta clinched the deal by marrying a Greek princess of the Seleucid subsidiary of the Greek empire. This Greek beauty brought the five-yard saree into India.
Chanakya was the world's first hands-on consultant. That is, he implemented the ideas that his brilliant brain was generating by becoming Magadha Inc.'s chief executive officer, or prime minister. He was what may be called 'a practising theorist'. He invented 'realpolitik', a word that was coined almost 2,000 years later in Bismarck's Germany. Chanakya was machiavellian much over a thousand years before Niccolo Machiavelli was born and lent his name to skullduggery in relations between empires, states and businesses.
Chanakya's magnum opus Arthashastra, or "How to Make Friends and Enemies and Win Empires", has remained a best-seller over two millennia. But, like most literary classics, everyone has heard of it; few have read it. To corporate bosses and foreign ministry bureaucrats, Arthashastra should be what MP3 is to youngsters. Alas, they haven't shown much zest in downloading it.