23 September 2023

Enhancing Brāhmaṇatva Should be Everyone's Goal

Brāhmaṇatva (Brahminhood, the quality or state of being a brāhmaṇa) is the goal of human evolution. Swami Ranganathananda wrote: "Evolution is human development from tamas to rajas, and from rajas to sattva. The man or woman who is all sattva is a remarkable type of person, who is highly evolved and manifesting the divine within. That is the goal of human evolution. How to produce more and more of such people in a society? Every member of society is given this goal, and he or she should try to reach it, or at least direct one’s life in that direction. Move on at your own pace, but do go towards that direction. That direction is to be a sāttvika person, without any hatred or violence, and ever loving and kind. When such persons are there in a society, there will be no need for even the police, not even for a political state, and much less need for laws and regulations, because here are persons who are self-disciplined and have realized their spiritual oneness with all others. That society is the most advanced which has the largest number of such people, who are sāttvika and spiritual and evolved, and who have manifested the divine within. Such a person is called a brāhmaṇa... The earliest definition of the word brāhmaṇa occurs in the four-thousand-year-old Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (3.8.10): ‘One, O Gārgī, who departs from this world without knowing this Imperishable (Reality), is miserable, a kṛpaṇaḥ. But one, O Gārgī, who departs from this world after knowing this Imperishable (Reality) is a brāhmaṇa'... In the great Buddhist book, The Dhammapada, there is a whole chapter, the last chapter, chapter 26, named Brāhmaṇa Vaggo, in praise and appreciation of the brāhmaṇa ideal" ('Universal message of the Bhagavad Gita', Vol 1, Pages 37-38).

One of the oldest Upanishads and one of the ten major Upanishads, the Chāndogya Upanishad (4.4.5), clearly demonstrates that brāhmaṇatva depends on one's qualities and not birth. Dhammapada (26.11) says: "One does not become a brāhmaṇa by one's matted hair, or by lineage, or by birth. He is a brāhmaṇa, in whom there is truth, dharma, and purity.”

Swami Vivekananda said: "Brahminhood is the ideal of humanity.., as wonderfully put forward by Shankarâchârya at the beginning of his commentary on the Gitâ, where he speaks about the reason for Krishna's coming as a preacher for the preservation of Brahminhood, of Brahminness. That was the great end. This Brahmin, the man of God, he who has known Brahman, the ideal man, the perfect man, must remain; he must not go" (Complete Works, Vol 3, Pages 293-294). Brāhmaṇatva or oneness with all beings is the fundamental yardstick of evolution.

Level of brāhmaṇatva or oneness can be used to categorize people world-over into four varṇas — brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra — in descending order of brāhmaṇatva. Varṇa is a spiritual (and not social) categorization based on one's guṇas and karma (Bhagavad-Gita, 4.13), and not based on birth. The brāhmaṇatva of a son or daughter need not be high just because the father's or mother's brāhmaṇatva is high (this can be empirically studied).

Unlike varṇa, the jāti system is a social (and not religious or spiritual) categorization, and is largely based on birth, though it may have originated as communities based on kula (clan) or gotra (lineage), or vocation. India’s jātis represent a complex, flexible and fluid system. The huge number of jātis comprise a social rather than a religious mechanism, for religious conversion does not nullify them, and they exist even for those not doing pūja of iśṭa (or worship of God). For one who is high on brāhmaṇatva or oneness, all social categorizations like jāti, kula, gotra, and vocation become irrelevant, as shown by several saints. 

'Caste', as is known now, was introduced in India in the 19th century by the European colonizers. 'Caste' is a colonialist construct. The word ‘caste’ comes from the Portuguese word casta (which means lineage). 'Caste' in India was created by the British colonizers by merging varṇa, jāti, kula, gotra, and vocation, and making it illogically rigid and absolutely hereditary (for e.g., son of a weaver is a weaver even if he does not do weaving). Brahmin is a varṇa and not a jāti, but was created as a 'caste' by the colonizers. The colonizers created a hereditary and rigid 'caste' system and enforced it using the census. Most people were not aware of the 'caste' they were supposed to belong to, but were squeezed into the 'caste' system by the British colonizers in the Indian Census of 1881. The rigid hereditary 'caste' system created by the colonizers continues in India even after she regained her physical independence in 1947.

Swami Vivekananda said: "Our solution of the caste question is not degrading those who are already high up, is not running amuck through food and drink, is not jumping out of our own limits in order to have more enjoyment, but it comes... by our attaining spirituality, and by our becoming the ideal Brahmin. There is a law laid on each one of you... The command is the same to you all, that you must make progress without stopping, and that from the highest man to the lowest.., every one... has to try and become the ideal Brahmin. This... idea is applicable... over the whole world. Such is our ideal of caste as meant for raising all humanity slowly and gently towards the realisation of that great ideal of the spiritual man who is non-resisting, calm, steady, worshipful, pure, and meditative. In that ideal there is God" (Complete Works, Vol 3, Page 198). 

16 May 2023

Check Your Level of Intolerance

 Intolerance continuum can be seen as comprising four discrete levels, and can be measured on a 4-point scale:

0 = Acceptance

1 = Tolerance

2 = Intolerance

3 = Conversion 

Let us take the example of the way of cooking and eating potato. Let us assume that your way of consuming potato is different from mine. 

(0) If I wholeheartedly and fully believe that your way of consuming is as good for you as my way is for me, that is acceptance.

On the contrary, if I believe that my way of consuming is better than your way for you also, there are three possibilities:

(1) If I am willing to put up with your way, that is tolerance. There is an incongruence of belief with attitude and behavior.

(2) If I am mentally unwilling to put up with your way but do nothing, that is the attitude of intolerance. There is an incongruence between attitude and behavior.

(3) If I induce or force you to change your way, that is conversion.

The last three may have a strong causal relationship with each other. Tolerance may give way to intolerance, when attitude changes to fall in line with the belief that my way of consuming is better than your way for you also. Intolerance is characterized by cognitive dissonance, and may give way to conversion, when behavior falls in line with attitude. Thus, any positive score on intolerance (i.e., when acceptance is not there) has a self-accelerating property.

Swami Vivekananda said: "So-called toleration is often blasphemy, and I do not believe in it. I believe in acceptance. Why should I tolerate? Toleration means that I think that you are wrong and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think that you and I are allowing others to live?" (Complete Works, Volume 2, Page 374)

If we average our intolerance towards the various aspects of a person, and if we average our intolerance towards the various people, we can get our intolerance score.

Sri Ramakrishna gave an excellent argument for acceptance: "God Himself has provided different forms of worship. He who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different stages of knowledge... The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children. Suppose she has five children. If there is a fish to cook, she prepares various dishes from it — pilau, pickled fish, fried fish, and so on — to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion" (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Page 5).

Acceptance as a fundamental aspect of the Indian worldview was established during the Sarasvati-Indus civilization, and was proclaimed famously in Ṛg-Veda 1.164.46 ("He who exists is one; the sages call Him variously"), before 3000 BCE.

Swami Vivekananda elaborated: One of the greatest sages that was ever born found out in India even at that distant time, which history cannot reach, and into whose gloom even tradition itself dares not peep — in that distant time the sage arose and declared, — "He who exists is one; the sages call Him variously." This is one of the most memorable sentences that was ever uttered, one of the grandest truths that was ever discovered. And this truth has been the very backbone of India's national existence. For throughout the vistas of the centuries of India's national life, this one idea comes down, gaining in volume and in fullness till it has permeated the whole of India's national existence, till it has mingled in Indians' blood, and has become one with them. Indians live that grand truth in every vein, and India has become the glorious land of religious acceptance. This is one very great principle that the world is waiting to learn from India... The world is waiting for this grand idea of universal acceptance. It will be a great acquisition to civilization. Nay, no civilization can long exist unless this idea enters into it. No civilization can grow unless fanatics, bloodshed, and brutality stop. No civilization can begin to lift up its head until we look charitably upon one another; and the first step towards that much-needed charity is to look charitably and kindly upon the religious convictions of others. Nay more, to understand that not only should we be charitable, but positively helpful to each other, however different our religious ideas and convictions may be (Complete Works, Volume 3, Pages 186-188).

11 April 2023

Studying Upanishads Makes One Unimaginably Strong

Weakness is the root cause of all evils in life. People lie, cheat, harm others, become unethical, fail to honor their word, etc., because they are weak. They live in fear, and are miserable, because they are weak. What better gift can you give yourself than acquiring strength? And what better way to gain strength than to dive into the great mine of strength, the Upanishads?

Swami Vivekananda said: "Strength, strength is what the Upanishads speak to me from every page. This is the one great thing to remember, it has been the one great lesson I have been taught in my life; strength, it says, strength, O man, be not weak. Are there no human weaknesses? — says man. There are, say the Upanishads, but will more weakness heal them, would you try to wash dirt with dirt? Will sin cure sin, weakness cure weakness? Strength, O man, strength, say the Upanishads, stand up and be strong... We want strength, strength, and every time strength. And the Upanishads are the great mine of strength. Therein lies strength enough to invigorate the whole world; the whole world can be vivified, made strong, energised through them. They will call with trumpet voice upon the weak, the miserable, and the downtrodden of all races, all creeds, and all sects to stand on their feet and be free. Freedom, physical freedom, mental freedom, and spiritual freedom are the watchwords of the Upanishads... Ay, this is the one scripture in the world, of all others, that does not talk of salvation, but of freedom. Be free from the bonds of nature, be free from weakness! And it shows to you that you have this freedom already in you" (Complete Works, 3: 237-239). 

Wondering how to go about studying the Upanishads? Here is an amazing online course on Upanishads (with full lifetime access): https://www.udemy.com/course/upanishads-and-transformational-leadership/?referralCode=7F6BDE28E821FA0C8B91

24 November 2022

How Indian History Became Falsehood

Writing ancient history is like solving a jigsaw puzzle with many missing pieces. The most crucial piece in ancient Indian history is the Sarasvati river. Rig Veda Samhita has several references to a fully flowing Sarasvati river (between the Sutlej and the Yamuna), that reached the ocean. Existing evidence clearly shows that drying up of the river started around 3000 BCE. So, the Rig Vedic or Sarasvati civilization must have flourished before 3000 BCE. 

Danino's (2010) "The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati"  provides compelling evidence showing several common features of the Rig Vedic or Sarasvati civilization that flourished before 3000 BCE, and the later Harappan or Indus Valley civilization that flourished around 2500 BCE. The commonalities between the two substantiate that they should actually be referred to as one civilization, the Sarasvati-Indus civilization.

Lal's (2002) "Ancient India" explains how Sarasvati civilization was deleted and how Indian history was deliberately converted into falsehood, on account of three reasons :

1. Max Muller was a true Christian who believed in the Bible. He looked upon the creation given in the Genesis as simply historical, and that nothing existed before then. "Lacking any firm basis of his own and rejecting every Indian evidence, he arbitrarily dated" (page 10) the earliest Rig Veda Samhita to be of 1500 BCE, within the safe limits of Bishop Usher's creation date of 23 Oct 4004 BCE and the Great Flood of 2350 BCE. However, he eventually accepted that he was merely speculating, and explicitly stated that "whether the Vedic hymns were composed 1000, 1500 or 2000 or 3000 B.C., no power on earth will ever determine" (page 83). But, by then, the damage was successfully done.

2. There was strong motivation to "counter all the writing that were projecting India's past in terms of great civilization and Indian philosophy and thoughts indicating great antiquity for the origins of universe and human beings" (pages 10-11). Indian civilization is the oldest surviving civilization, and contributions of the Indian civilization to the world are immense. However, the Christian missionaries magnified India's flaws and portrayed the most developed nation as backward, to prepare the ground for evangelical activity.

3. Another factor which contributed to the distortion of Indian history was the British interests in India. India was the richest and most developed nation on earth. But, the British interpretations of Indian history served to denigrate Indian character and achievements, and justify the colonization of India. Successfully looting India was accelerated by creating all possible divisions in Indian society and creating animosity between the various groups. The fictitious Aryan migration theory (that Aryans of the Rig Vedic civilization invaded India around 1500 BCE) was created to achieve this goal. 

Isn't it shocking how the history of a nation can be distorted and falsified to suit one man's personal beliefs, to facilitate Christian missionary activity, and to help some people loot that nation more effectively? 

This resulted in the false narrative that pitted the Dravidians of the Harappan or Indus Valley civilization of 2500 BCE, against the Aryans of the Rig Vedic civilization who were baselessly claimed to have invaded India around 1500 BCE. Thus one integrated Sarasvati-Indus civilization was broken into two disparate civilizations to suit the divisive goals of Britishers. Knapp's (2012) "Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture: The Planet’s Earliest Civilization and How it Influenced the World" provides an excellent summary of the fictitious Aryan migration theory. The Aryan migration theory has been the foundation for all breaking-India forces till now. Max Muller, the creator of the Aryan invasion theory, later disowned it, but by then the falsehood was strongly established.

Many people have the unscientific habit of questioning new beliefs without questioning current beliefs. Even a new belief that has much more evidence backing it than the current belief has, will be simply resisted. So, when a powerful coalition of people establishes a narrative, it becomes nearly impossible to change or even question that narrative. Such is the fate of Indian history. Falsehood continues.

24 August 2020

Secularism in India Means Communalism Actually

Secularism practiced in India is certainly NOT an equal treatment of religions. Nor is it an indifference to religion and religious considerations, which is the definition of secularism according to Merriam-Webster. The State actually differentiates between people based on their religion. The State administers and uses the wealth of Hindu temples, but does not do the same with non-Hindu shrines. State interference in Hindu religious practices is widespread, like for example the sacrilegious hindering of worship of Sabarimala Iyyappa, an Ishta, a Hindu minority religion. And there is no common civil code in the country for all people; people are treated differently, based on their religion.

The State has been providing some rights to non-Hindu religious minorities, and those rights are not available to Hindus, including Hindu religious minorities like the Ishta Sabarimala Iyyappa worshippers. There is even a separate Ministry of Minority Affairs in the Government of India, whose mission is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the non-Hindu minority communities. The mission statement of the Ministry of Minority Affairs includes a list of non-Hindu minority communities, just as the Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) includes a list of non-Muslim minority communities in neighboring countries (it was bewildering to see the beneficiaries of the former inequality protesting against the latter inequality, but not asking for total equality everywhere).

What initially may have started as protection of non-Hindu religions (keeping in line with the magnanimity that has always characterized Indian culture), was very soon transformed into appeasement of those non-Hindu minorities, as a part of vote-bank politics. This appeasement of non-Hindu religions has often been at the cost of Hindus, thereby creating animosity between the different communities. Social organization on a communal basis is the definition of communalism, according to Merriam-Webster. Treating people differentially based on religion is communalism. Ironically, secularism practiced in India is actually communalism, favoring non-Hindu religions and being anti-Hindu, the exact opposite of what any reasonable person will understand by the word secularism in English and by the Hindi word dharma-nirapekshatha in India's constitution.

The mentally colonized Hindus or the westernized Hindus are the primary cause of this communalism-called-secularism. The mentally colonized Hindus, the communalists who call themselves secular, seem to be totally ignorant about spirituality, religion, Ishta, Hinduism, and India. Swami Vivekananda referred to this mentally colonized person as the Europeanized man. He said, in his 'Reply to the Address of Welcome at Ramnad' (Complete Works, 3: 151): "There are two great obstacles on our path in India, the Scylla of old orthodoxy and the Charybdis of modern European civilisation. Of these two, I vote for the old orthodoxy, and not for the Europeanised system; for the old orthodox man may be ignorant, he may be crude, but he is a man, he has a faith, he has strength, he stands on his own feet; while the Europeanised man has no backbone, he is a mass of heterogeneous ideas picked up at random from every source — and these ideas are unassimilated, undigested, unharmonised. He does not stand on his own feet, and his head is turning round and round. Where is the motive power of his work? — in a few patronizing pats from the English people... Therefore between these two, the case of the orthodox man who has the whole of that life-spring of the race, spirituality, and the other man whose hands are full of Western imitation jewels but has no hold on the life-giving principle, spirituality — of these, I do not doubt that every one here will agree that we should choose the first, the orthodox, because there is some hope in him — he has the national theme, something to hold to; so he will live, but the other will die."

The most crucial question is: Which is conducive to greater harmony — preferential treatment to one set of people based on religion (communalism, called secularism in India) or the doctrine of ‘sarva dharma samabhava’ ('all religions should be treated equally') advocated by Gandhiji? Equality would be the most naturally Indian way, since religion in India is a private affair and one's religion need not be made known to the State or anyone else (see my previous blog on “Ignorance About Indian/Hindu Religions: Root Cause of Many Problems?”).

Treating all religions equally will require the State to be unaware of or blind to a citizen's religion. Religion should not be a part of census or any identity document. The State should stop interfering in Hindu temples and religious practices. All communal entities like the Ministry of Minority Affairs should be dismantled. One's religion should be private and should not be known by others at all.

Treating all religions equally is different from negation of religion or being irreligious. "The vast majority of those who met in the Constituent Assembly in Delhi and voted the Indian constitution in 1949 were religious and not irreligious. And yet, they adopted the principles and policies of a secular constitution for their deeply religious country (Swami Ranganathananda's "The charm and power of the Upanisads" page 47). Irreligious India is an oxymoron (see my earlier blog on “What is India's Core, Like Existence-in-Water is to Fish?”).

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Vice President of India during 1952-1962 and President of India during 1962-1967, in his "Recovery of faith" (pages 184-185), wrote: "When India is said to be a secular state, it does not mean that we reject the reality of an Unseen Spirit or the relevance of religion to life or that we exalt irreligion... We hold that no one religion should be given preferential status, or unique distinction, that no one religion should be accorded special privileges... No group of citizens shall arrogate to itself rights and privileges which it denies to others... Secularism as here defined is in accordance with the ancient religious tradition of India. It tries to build up a fellowship of believers, not by subordinating individual qualities to the group mind but by bringing them into harmony with each other."

Communalism (treating people differentially based on religion), inappropriately called secularism in India, is a non-sustainable policy, since it divides people. Giving preferential treatment to any group based on religion cannot be a sustainable means for peaceful co-existence. It is high time that India started returning to equality of all religions, that has always been part of her unique culture and history for more than 5000 years. Unifying all people at a common higher level is transformational leadership. Dividing others to make a profit out of it is immoral and demeaning.

31 January 2020

Ignorance About Indian/Hindu Religions: Root Cause of Many Problems?

Hinduism is not a religion. It is a Weltanschauung or a worldview. One of the most crucial components of this Weltanschauung is the acceptance of all religions, sects or cults as true and valid. Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works, 3: 112-113) said: "In India the same competing gods had been struggling with each other for supremacy, but the great good fortune of this country and of the world was that there came out in the midst of the din and confusion a voice which declared, 'That which exists is One; sages call It by various names.' It is not that Shiva is superior to Vishnu, not that Vishnu is everything and Shiva is nothing, but it is the same one whom you call either Shiva, or Vishnu, or by a hundred other names. The names are different, but it is the same one. The whole history of India you may read in these few words. The whole history has been a repetition in massive language, with tremendous power, of that one central doctrine. It was repeated in the land till it had entered into the blood of the nation, till it began to tingle with every drop of blood that flowed in its veins, till it became one with the life, part and parcel of the material of which it was composed; and thus the land was transmuted into the most wonderful land of toleration, giving the right to welcome the various religions as well as all sects into the old mother-country.”
Hundreds of religions, sects, or cults accept the Hinduism Weltanschauung. They are sometimes referred to as the Hindu religions. These various religions were grouped into six clusters by Adi Shankaracharya, more than 1200 years ago: (1) Vaishnavism (Vishnu); (2) Shaivism (Shiva); (3) Shâktham (Shakthi); (4) Gânâpathyam (Ganesha); (5) Skândham/Kaumâram (Kârthikeya); (6) Sauryam (Sûrya).

It is not possible to get even a minimal understanding of Indian or Hindu religions without getting an idea of the theory of Ishta. According to Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works, 4: 51-57), “The theory of Ishta is a subject requiring careful attention because with a proper understanding of this, all the various religions of the world can be understood. The word Ishta is derived from the root Ish, to desire, choose. The ideal of all religions, all sects, is the same — the attaining of liberty and cessation of misery. All of us want to get rid of misery; we are struggling to attain to liberty — physical, mental, spiritual.

Though the goal is one and the same, there may be many ways to reach it, and these ways are determined by the peculiarities of our nature. One man's nature is emotional, another's intellectual, another's active, and so forth. Again, in the same nature there may be many subdivisions... Each one of us is born with a peculiarity of nature as the result of our past existence. There is a peculiar movement, a peculiar train, in each one of us; and therefore each one will have to find way for himself.

This way, this method, to which each of us is naturally adapted, is called the "chosen way". This is the theory of Ishta, and that way which is ours we call our own Ishta. Each one sees God according to his own nature; and this vision, conditioned by our own nature, is our Ishta. We must understand that truth seen from different standpoints can be truth, and yet not the same truth... We must remember that an absolute truth is only one, while relative truths are necessarily various. Take the sun. The sun is one; but when you and I and a hundred other people stand at different places and look at it, each one of us sees a different sun. So, in relative perception, truth always appears various. But the Absolute Truth is only one. Therefore we need not fight with others when we find they are telling something about religion which is not exactly according to our view of it. We ought to remember that both of us may be true, though apparently contradictory.

This theory of Ishta, therefore, means allowing a man to choose his own religion. One man should not force another to worship what he worships. For instance, when I am a child, my father puts a book into my hand which says God is such and such. What business has he to put that into my mind? How does he know what way I would develop? And being ignorant of my constitutional development, he wants to force his ideas on my brain, with the result that my growth is stunted.

We see then that a congregational religion can never be. The real work of religion must be one's own concern. I have an idea of my own, I must keep it sacred and secret, because I know that it need not be your idea. Secondly, why should I create a disturbance by wanting to tell everyone what my idea is? This Ishta should be kept secret, it is between you and God.

This is the theory of Ishta. It is the only way to make religion meet practically the necessities of different constitutions, to avoid quarrelling with others, and to make real practical progress in spiritual life... Why should I not speak of my Ishta to others? Because it is my own most holy thing. It may help others, but how do I know that it will not rather hurt them?”

A correct understanding of the theory of Ishta leads to three significant outcomes:

1. The theory of Ishta allows for infinite customization. One can worship the child Krishna, while another can worship the charioteer Krishna. The Krishna worshipped today may evolve into a different Krishna tomorrow. So, religion is dynamic. It also allows for adding another God, without throwing away the earlier God.

2. The Ishta is a very private entity. Often, even the husband may not know what the Ishta or religion of the wife is. It would be the height of ignorance to ask people to specify their religion or Ishta, for any reason whatsoever.

3. Moreover, religion is not hereditary. A father following Shaivism religion does not necessarily mean that his daughter is also following Shaivism religion. How can you call the daughter of a Shiva-worshipper (Shaivite) as a Shiva-worshipper, if she does not worship Shiva?

Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works, 2: 364-374) said: “So long as mankind thinks, there will be sects. Variation is the sign of life, and it must be there. I pray that they may multiply so that at last there will be as many sects as human beings, and each one will have his own method, his individual method of thought in religion... The greater the number of sects, the more chance of people getting religion. In the hotel, where there are all sorts of food, everyone has a chance to get his appetite satisfied. So I want sects to multiply in every country, that more people may have a chance to be spiritual... Our watchword, then, will be acceptance, and not exclusion. Not only toleration, for so-called toleration is often blasphemy, and I do not believe in it. I believe in acceptance. Why should I tolerate? Toleration means that I think that you are wrong and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think that you and I are allowing others to live?” Acceptance of all religions, sects or cults as true and valid means for attaining liberty, is the hallmark of Hinduism Weltanschauung, which makes a Hindu fundamentalist an oxymoron.

13 December 2019

Are You Becoming A Better Human Being?

Human beings do not simply exist; they ever strive to become better. To be better tomorrow than what one is today is built into the DNA of human existence. But how do you know if you have become more evolved now than what you were some time ago? Similarly, because of interaction with you, have others evolved into their higher self?

Gunas framework is the most inclusive and comprehensive framework for classifying and grading beings, both living and non-living. It is based on both thought and physical body. In addition, it includes a developmental and evolutionary trajectory inherently.

Everything in this world is composed of three gunas or ultimate subtle entities or fundamental elements -- Tamas (mass-stuff), Rajas (energy-stuff), and Sattva (intelligence-stuff). The fundamental characteristic of external gross matter or an inanimate object is its mass. Energy is common to all living beings. However, mass is at its lowest minimum in evolved beings like human beings, whereas the capacity of intelligence is at its highest in them.

These three subtle guna substances are united in different proportions, and because of this, different entities with different qualities come into being. For example, a larger number of Sattva substances may unite with a lesser number of Rajas or Tamas substances making a being Sattvik, or a larger number of Tamas substances may unite with a smaller number of Rajas and Sattva substances making a being Tamasik, and so on in varying proportions. An individual being currently Sattvik, Rajasik, or Tamasik can be explained due to dominance of one of the three gunas over the other two. An increase in one guna can happen only by reducing the other two gunas (Surendranath Dasgupta, 1975, "History of Indian philosophy," volume 1, pages 241-244).

The gunas are not fixed but fluid, and they may change with time, context, and life experiences. All three gunas are present in all individuals at all times; however, the predominance of one over the others may change. Moreover, there is an implicit hierarchy and a developmental trajectory: individuals evolve by shifting from being Tamasik to being Rajasik to being Sattvik.

Sattva, because of its stainlessness, luminous and free from evil, binds by attachment to happiness and knowledge. Rajas is of the nature of passion, giving rise to thirst and attachment; it binds by attachment to action. Tamas is born of ignorance, stupefying all beings; it binds by miscomprehension, indolence, and sleep. Sattva arises, predominating over Rajas and Tamas; and Rajas over Sattva and Tamas; so, Tamas over Sattva and Rajas. When through every sense in this body, the light of intelligence shines, then it should be known that Sattva is predominant. Greed, activity, the undertaking of actions, unrest, longing -- these arise when Rajas is predominant. Darkness, inertness, miscomprehension, and delusion -- these arise when Tamas is predominant.

Here is a quick measure of your gunas. Give a percentage score for how frequently you have each of the below-listed three perceptions, by distributing a total of 100 points among the three possible responses:
"My perception of others involves seeing
___ (a) The underlying oneness in all beings despite the superficial diversities.
___ (b) In all beings various entities of distinct kinds as different from one another.
___ (c) Neither the different beings nor the underlying oneness."

Key: (a) Sattva; (b) Rajas; (c) Tamas.

Seeing the underlying oneness in all beings may be inferred by the extent of identification with others -- seeing others' pain and pleasure as one's own. A simple measure of the predominance of Sattva guna is the extent to which, on a scale of 0 to 100, one sees his or her oneness with all beings. As compared to what you were earlier, if your perception of oneness with others has increased, you have become more Sattvik, evolved into a higher state, and have become a better human being.

If, by associating with you and interacting with you over a period of time, anyone’s perception of oneness with others has increased, you have helped that person evolve into his or her higher self. This is transformational leadership.

30 November 2017

How Framing is Used to Delude Indians

What looks reasonable or ridiculous depends on the context, on how it is framed in terms of what has preceded it and the language that is used to present it. Establishing the framework (setting the context) within which issues will be viewed is a critical strategy for exercising power and influence. The frame of an issue is often constructed through the questions that are asked. Once the frame is constructed, most people will find it impossible to ignore the frame and see the actual picture or the real issue. Just as the frame for a picture constrains our vision and affects our thinking about the picture, framing puts boundaries on our thinking horizon and prevents us from seeing things as they are. Framing as a strategy to delude Indians was started by the Britishers and is now spearheaded by many Western Indologists.

Britishers used two key strategies to enslave Indians and colonize their minds for ever -- educational system and census. The new educational system permanently destroyed the identity and self-worth of Indians, and the census strategy made them keep fighting with each other for ever. Benedict Anderson's (2006) "Imagined Communities" describes how Britishers used three institutions of power (census, map and museum) to profoundly shape the nature of the human beings they ruled, the geography of their domain, and the legitimacy of ancestry.

Britishers introduced a new educational system in India in 1835. The most significant aspect of the new system that replaced India's old educational system was that India's spiritual and cultural heritage were excluded from the system. New history text books were written with a political objective of making "the native subjects of British India more sensible of the immense advantages accruing to them" because of British occupation of India ("The history and culture of the Indian people" Vol 1: Page 9).

The census, started in 1872, defined and shaped the caste system (birth-based social categorization called casteism) in India. The British infused caste identity among Indians by the simple task of conducting a census. Several caste advocacy groups were formed and these groups wrote petitions to the British, requesting a higher rank in the hierarchy to be drawn up by the census authorities. It was a divisive game played by the British to divide and rule and reduce Indian society into many fractions.

India obtaining political freedom in 1947 did not affect the frame already created. Effectiveness of framing as a strategy is indicated by the enduring effects of the frame that is created. Colonization of the minds of Indians continues without any significant break.

Most Indians have no sense of their identity (distinguishing feature or uniqueness). They have not been introduced to spirituality or higher knowledge (inquiry into the self or subject), which is the core, distinguishing feature of India. Both the formal educational system and indirect education through movies and other media continue to strengthen the frame created by Britishers. History textbooks continue to glorify the invaders and belittle the wonder that was India for 90% of her life before she was enslaved. Even today, Indians continue to be taught about the successive foreign invasions of the country, but little about how Indians resisted them, and less about their victories. They are taught to decry the Indian social system, but they are not taught how its vitality enabled the national culture to adjust its central ideas to new conditions and remain the oldest surviving civilization in the world ("The history and culture of the Indian people" Vol 1: Page 9).

The latest census in India recorded caste as an entry, following the British practice, but after a gap of 80 years. During the early census, people often exaggerated their caste status, while people try to downgrade it now, but both of them strengthen the frame of birth-based categorization. Even though it is totally irrational to assume that son of a weaver is a weaver even if he does not do weaving, and daughter of a lawyer is a lawyer by mere birth, census does precisely that. Birth-based social categorization may be relevant in the West since social categorization is based on material wealth there (son of a billionaire is a billionaire, to begin with at least), but it is irrelevant for India where social categorization is based on Guna and Karma.

26 September 2016

Why Western Scholars Don't Understand India?

Why Western Scholars Don't Understand India? Because they are like one studying fish as an animal on land.

Can you understand fish if you ignore its existence in water, treat it as an animal on land, and study it? It is like studying Red Cross after excluding its humanitarian aspect, or like studying aeroplanes treating them as cars. If you study what is common between cars and aeroplanes, you will not understand aeroplanes meaningfully. To understand something, one has to study what distinguishes it from others and not just what is common between it and everything else. But many western scholars have been trying to study India, after excluding her distinguishing feature. 

Knowledge consists of two parts. Studying the world as an object is the first half of knowledge, called materialism or lower knowledge. The second half is inquiry into the self or subject, called spirituality or higher knowledge. India has specialized in this investigation into the self, the subject. This is the core, distinguishing feature of India (read my previous blog on "What is India's Core, Like Existence-in-Water is to Fish?". Ranganathananda (2005) explains how the latest scientific discoveries have made it grossly inadequate and unscientific to confine oneself to only the lower knowledge.

Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works Vol 3: 184-185) said: "Two minds in the dim past of history, cognate to each other in form and kinship and sympathy, started, being placed in different routes. The one was the ancient Hindu mind, and the other the ancient Greek mind. The former started by analysing the internal world. The latter started in search of that goal beyond by analysing the external world."

Experts on Indian thought and culture hold that investigation of the internal world is the core aspect of India, like existence in water is to fish. Those who have confined their investigation to only the lower half of knowledge, cannot understand India. There are possibly two reasons why Western Indologists don't seek to understand the core aspect of India.

1. Bias Against Religion. Any means of acquiring higher knowledge or inquiry into the self or subject is called religion, and it often, though not necessarily, involves a personal god. Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works Vol 2: 66) said: "This effort to get beyond the limitations of the senses -- out of matter, as it were -- and to evolve the spiritual man -- this struggle itself is the grandest and most glorious that man can make." However, the western scholars are part of a religious environment that is based on belief rather than self-realization, and holding on to the unscientific claim that one god/messenger/book/path/religion is true and others are false. Hence, they may be too biased against the domain of religion and spirituality, and too closed to be able to pursue higher knowledge.

2. Inappropriate Method. The Western Indologists appear to have succumbed to the 'boy with hammer' syndrome. Just as the boy with hammer assumes that everything needs to be fixed with the hammer, the Western Indologists assume that everything needs to be studied using sensory or objective data. They cannot comprehend that a new tool is needed to delve into higher knowledge, using subjective datum from subjective experience (Ranganathananda, 2005). Higher knowledge, and India whose core is higher knowledge, cannot be studied objectively, like one studies the world of objects. It is known that the sense organs are naturally tuned to go outside into the world of objects. It requires extraordinary will and effort to turn them inward and focus on self-inquiry. Western Indologists may not have been trained for doing this. 

R. C. Majumdar wrote in "The history and culture of the Indian people" (Vol 1: 42-43): "So far as available evidence goes, there cannot be the slightest doubt that Indian civilization manifests itself in a way and a form very different from that which we are familiar in the rest of the world. We have consequently to approach the history of India in a different spirit, and adopt a different scale of values in order to appraise her culture and civilization."

Inquiry into the self or subject is for India like existence in water is for fish. Excluding that core and studying India is as meaningless as studying fish after excluding its existence in water. May be the Western Indologists shy away from doing self-inquiry or analysing subjective experiences because of their cultural baggage. Rajiv Malhotra's "The Battle for Sanskrit" provides a summary of their psychological blinders and their compulsive obsession to use irrelevant frameworks to look at India.

If experts on cars were to write books or deliver lectures on aeroplanes, would we take them seriously? But, the Western Indologists seem to be doing something similar. So, isn't it strange that they have been given India's major awards like Padma Shri, given charge of the $5.6 million Murty Classical Library of India, and their opinions are included as facts by authors, teachers, journalists, and movie producers?

09 May 2016

What is India's Core, Like Existence-in-Water is to Fish?

What is India's core, like existence-in-water is to fish, that which defines her identity among nations?

Knowledge consists of two parts. Studying the world as an object is the first half of knowledge. We use the word 'thing' to refer to an object in this world. Chairs, tables, trees, plants, the sun, the moon, the stars, etc., are all things. This is physical science or the knowledge of sensory data, objective data brought by the senses from the world outside. This is called materialism, vyavahārika, or lower knowledge (Ranganathananda, 2005).

When we study objects in physical science, what about the subject, the one that studies, the observer that observes? Turning our searchlight in that direction is the second half of knowledge. What is this human being as the subject, as the knower? A new tool is needed to probe into this field, using subjective datum from subjective experience, since one cannot know the knower. This cannot be studied objectively like studying the world of objects. This is also a science, a study of That which impinges upon us at the sensory level coming from beyond that level. This is called self-inquiry, spirituality, paramārthika, or higher knowledge. Swami Ranganathananda (2005) provides a compelling argument about how the latest scientific discoveries have made it grossly inadequate and unscientific to confine oneself to only the lower knowledge.

India has specialized in this investigation into the self, the subject. The higher knowledge is the core feature of India. Nowhere else in the world has such a systematic investigation into the self or subject been done. Experts on Indian thought and culture hold that investigation of the internal world is the distinguishing aspect of India. Self-inquiry sets India apart from other nations in the world.

Radhakrishnan ("Indian philosophy: Vol 1" p. 28) wrote: The philosophic attempt to determine the nature of reality may start either with the thinking self or the objects of thought. In India, the interest is in the self of man. Where the vision is turned outward, the rush of fleeting events engages the mind. In India, "know the self," sums up the law and the prophets. Within man is the spirit that is the centre of everything.

Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works Vol 3: 108-109) said: “Everyone born into this world has a bent, a direction towards which he must go, through which he must live, and what is true of the individual is equally true of the race. Each race, similarly, has a peculiar bent, each race has a peculiar raison d'être, each race has a peculiar mission to fulfil in the life of the world... Political greatness or military power is never the mission of our race; it never was, and, mark my words, it never will be. But there has been the other mission given to us, which is to conserve, to preserve, to accumulate, as it were, into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of the race, and that concentrated energy is to pour forth in a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are propitious. Let the Persian or the Greek, the Roman, the Arab, or the Englishman march his battalions, conquer the world, and link the different nations together, and the philosophy and spirituality of India is ever ready to flow along the new-made channels into the veins of the nations of the world... India's gift to the world is the light spiritual.”

Radhakrishnan ("Indian philosophy: Vol 1" p. 23) wrote: Each nation has its own characteristic mentality, its particular intellectual bent. In all the fleeting centuries of history, in all the vicissitudes through which India has passed, a certain marked identity is visible. She has held fast to certain psychological traits which constitute her special heritage, and they will be the characteristic mark of the Indian people so long as they are privileged to have a separate existence.

Dasgupta ("A history of Indian philosophy: Vol 1" page viii) wrote: "It is not in the history of foreign invasions, in the rise of independent kingdoms at different times, in the empires of this or that great monarch that the unity of India is to be sought. It is essentially one of spiritual aspirations and obedience to the law of the spirit, which were regarded as superior to everything else, and it has outlived all the political changes through which India passed."

Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works Vol 3: 288-289) said: "When the life-blood is strong and pure, no disease germ can live in that body. Our life-blood is spirituality. If it flows clear, if it flows strong and pure and vigorous, everything is right; political, social, any other material defects, even the poverty of the land, will all be cured if that blood is pure... That is the life of our race and that must be strengthened. You have withstood the shocks of centuries simply because you took great care of it, you sacrificed everything else for it... That is the national mind, that is the national life-current. Follow it and it leads to glory. Give it up and you die; death will be the only result, annihilation the only effect, the moment you step beyond that life-current."

Inquiry into the self or subject is for India like existence-in-water is for fish. Can one understand fish if its existence-in-water is excluded, if it is treated like an animal on land, and studied?