Monday, August 8, 2016

Its time we put Country before religion!

MA Convent a school in Allahabad UP has banned the singing of the National anthem for the last 12 years. As per the school management the explanation for the ban is given below.

Source: New Indian Express
The Principal and 7 teacher's have resigned while the school management has stuck its position using religious tenets and injunctions to support the ban of the National anthem in the school. The school management has been arrested in the meantime. MA convent is not a Christian run school.


Source: New Indian Express
Indian government and political class for the past 68 years have been unable to separate religion from politics and have used religion as a tool for appeasement and votes. Constitutionally we have applied the label of 'Secular' but are far from practicing it. Secularism in practice is a burden only the Hindus has to bear, while the rest are exempt from it.

In India freedom to practice ones religion has been taken to the extreme level where religion has been put before the country and national interest. This has gone on for the last 68 years in the name of minority appeasement and vote bank politics.

1. Banning of Satanic Verses to appease Mullah's and making freedom of expressing a one way street. India was the first and only non-Muslim secular country do so.

2. Minority appeasement governing foreign relations, specifically with Israel


3. Shah Bano case and special Muslim personal law for Muslims was instituted which actually sanctions and approved Sharia. First non-Muslim secular country to do so.

4. Permission to use loudspeakers to call the 'faithful' to prayers 5 times a day 365 days a year, starting at 5:00 am is allowed in India, the only non Muslim secular country to do so. Never mind the fact that Supreme Court has banned use of loud speakers after 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. On this point I want to point out that people who want to go to the mosque to pray can always set an alarm, they dont need to wake up the rest of the country. In Bangalore where I live 3 mosques use their loudspeakers simultaneously right next to a very famous and large cardiology hospital. 


5. Travel subsidy for religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem. Hindus dont get any such special treatment. In fact religious charity is a big concept in the Islamic and Christian religions, the rich among them should be encouraged to contribute towards religious pilgrimage rather than a secular government subsidizing religious travel.


6. India is the only non Muslim secular country which allows and even funds Madarsa's which have become breeding ground for terrorist and radical thinking.

These are just few instances that come to mind. There are many instances where minority appeasement which has lead to a situation where religious minorities have placed religion before the country without paying heed to the fact that its the Indian nation and the constitution which allows for such freedom.

Its time the government of India applies the uniform civil code and ensures a standard policies for all citizens of India irrespective of religious belief. If India is a secular nation then lets apply the principals of secularism uniformly and fully to all.

1. Ban all religious institution Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Government should allow only secular schools private or government. Religious teaching should not be institutionalized but rather make it the prerogative of the individual or individual religious groups. 


2. Wearing religious symbols or dress code to school and work place should be banned.

3. Government should standardize the curriculum and secularize the content not leaning towards any religious group.

4. All schools should be provided and drilled in secular model of conduct. The operation of the school which includes dress code, prayer code, National anthem, oath of allegiance to the nation of India and its constitution among other things should be included.

5. Basic and compulsory military training for all students which instills identity and discipline among the youth.

6. Revoke breaks in work day for prayers or religious activities. Work place should be devoid of religious symbolism. 

These are just a few recommendations, this list can be extended to all walks of life. I welcome additional points in the comments section.

---------------------------------------------

A further update from Tufail Ahmed article in Firstpost on how a secular govt. cannot and should not fund minority institutions dated 9/08/2016

Source: Tufail Ahmed, Firstpost


Its time we put Country before religion!

MA Convent a school in Allahabad UP has banned the singing of the National anthem for the last 12 years. As per the school management the explanation for the ban is given below.

Source: New Indian Express
The Principal and 7 teacher's have resigned while the school management has stuck its position using religious tenets and injunctions to support the ban of the National anthem in the school. The school management has been arrested in the meantime. MA convent is not a Christian run school.


Source: New Indian Express
Indian government and political class for the past 68 years have been unable to separate religion from politics and have used religion as a tool for appeasement and votes. Constitutionally we have applied the label of 'Secular' but are far from practicing it. Secularism in practice is a burden only the Hindus has to bear, while the rest are exempt from it.

In India freedom to practice ones religion has been taken to the extreme level where religion has been put before the country and national interest. This has gone on for the last 68 years in the name of minority appeasement and vote bank politics.

1. Banning of Satanic Verses to appease Mullah's and making freedom of expressing a one way street. India was the first and only non-Muslim secular country do so.

2. Minority appeasement governing foreign relations, specifically with Israel


3. Shah Bano case and special Muslim personal law for Muslims was instituted which actually sanctions and approved Sharia. First non-Muslim secular country to do so.

4. Permission to use loudspeakers to call the 'faithful' to prayers 5 times a day 365 days a year, starting at 5:00 am is allowed in India, the only non Muslim secular country to do so. Never mind the fact that Supreme Court has banned use of loud speakers after 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. On this point I want to point out that people who want to go to the mosque to pray can always set an alarm, they dont need to wake up the rest of the country. In Bangalore where I live 3 mosques use their loudspeakers simultaneously right next to a very famous and large cardiology hospital. 


5. Travel subsidy for religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem. Hindus dont get any such special treatment. In fact religious charity is a big concept in the Islamic and Christian religions, the rich among them should be encouraged to contribute towards religious pilgrimage rather than a secular government subsidizing religious travel.


6. India is the only non Muslim secular country which allows and even funds Madarsa's which have become breeding ground for terrorist and radical thinking.

These are just few instances that come to mind. There are many instances where minority appeasement which has lead to a situation where religious minorities have placed religion before the country without paying heed to the fact that its the Indian nation and the constitution which allows for such freedom.

Its time the government of India applies the uniform civil code and ensures a standard policies for all citizens of India irrespective of religious belief. If India is a secular nation then lets apply the principals of secularism uniformly and fully to all.

1. Ban all religious institution Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Government should allow only secular schools private or government. Religious teaching should not be institutionalized but rather make it the prerogative of the individual or individual religious groups. 


2. Wearing religious symbols or dress code to school and work place should be banned.

3. Government should standardize the curriculum and secularize the content not leaning towards any religious group.

4. All schools should be provided and drilled in secular model of conduct. The operation of the school which includes dress code, prayer code, National anthem, oath of allegiance to the nation of India and its constitution among other things should be included.

5. Basic and compulsory military training for all students which instills identity and discipline among the youth.

6. Revoke breaks in work day for prayers or religious activities. Work place should be devoid of religious symbolism. 

These are just a few recommendations, this list can be extended to all walks of life. I welcome additional points in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mohenjodaro, the movie. Lost Opportunity

I just viewed the trailer of the much anticipated movie 'Mohenjodaro', it may be too early to judge but a movie trailer is supposed to be the executive summary that captures the essence of the movie in 3 minutes or less. The movie trailer normally gives a glimpse of the story line and theme along with technical aspects like historical authenticity, dialog, cinematography, action sequences, music, location, grand set etc. Going by these parameters, I found the the movie trailer of Mohenjodaro disappointing.
The Indus-Saraswati civilisation is regarded as the cradle of Indian civilisation and a contemporary to other ancient civilisations of  the world then. The cultural, religious and civilisational impact and significance of  the Indus-Saraswati civilisation on India and the psyche of its people is beyond description or imagination. No one has yet grappled with the enormity of the subject in any form let alone re-imagining it on celluloid. The subject needs a lot of contemporary research and delicate handling as any attempt to imagine a past in movie form will have a very lasting impact especially since this is the first attempt to recreate our hoary past. Any wrong representation will set in stone peoples perceptions which will be very hard to erase, especially for the lay man. As a case in point, the patently false Aryan Invasion theory (AIT) has played havoc with peoples imagination and has taken many generations to debunk academically yet finds currency among the masses. Many research scholars spent more time trying to prove or disprove the AIT than actually making forward movement in researching on the Indus-Saraswati civilisation.

Some of the glaring mistakes I could immediately identify are as follows... 

1.  Mohenjodaro: The word in Sindhi means ‘Mound of the dead men’, the general environs in modern day Sindh is called by this name. Does one really think, people who were inhabiting the city 4500 years back or earlier called their city ‘Mound of the dead men’! This for me is the biggest failure of the movie. How could a movie be titled on a modern term to identify the region and the characters use term coined many thousands of years later to refer to the city. We have not been able to identify the name of city with its real name though there have been some theories and names proposed, the director could have might as well created a fictional name for the city whilst placing it in that Indus-Saraswati era.


2.  Time markers: The trailer starts with …before the British, before the Mughals, before Christ, before Buddha…. there was Mohenjodaro! Note the timeline markers, none of them native till we arrive at Buddha. No Mauryans, no Gupta, no Adi Shankara, no Kautilya, No Krishna or Ramayana. Ok the director wanted to be secular and liberal, then better still would have been ‘…during the time Pharaoh ruled Egypt…!’ Another failure is using BC as a time market, why do we measure our time in Biblical timescale, even western historians don’t refer to BC anymore, they calculate backwards from CE (Common Era) which means the director could have easily said 5000 years back in India. How enslaved and colonial is our film making communities mind set?

3.  Stone tools: In an interview to the press Ashutosh Gowarikar says, Mohenjodaro civilisation did not know metal and used only stone or flint weapons. He in fact has shot action scenes with stone and wooden weapons in the movie. I am amazed at this claim. A little bit of research would have showed that Mohenjodaro was bang in the middle of the Bronze Age as seen here below taken from Wikipedia.
Moreover arrow heads and axe heads have been found on the site besides high quality bronze figurines. To substantiate further I have enlisted the support of documentation from John Marshall, Director General of the ASI involved in the first excavation of the site.
 He clearly states, spear heads and axe head made of copper and bronze were found aplenty. The director should have done better to research these important facts before embarking on such a important project, a movie of a lifetime.








The lack of information about the period troubled Gowariker and he decided that whenever he would get a story to tell, it will be depicted in the 2500 BC-Mohenjo Daro. On the film's plot, he was quoted as saying, "While the plot will follow the discovery of Mohenjo-daro and the culture and the vibe of the ancient civilisation, it will largely centre on a love story.

4. Story line: From the brief glimpse of the story line available through the trailer, the movie does not appear to be very different from regular, run of the mill Bollywood fare - boy meets girl love story, with a possible amnesia or rebirth angle. The story involves a girl called Channi who is possibly the towns virgin goddess forbidden to fall in love or marry but inevitably falls in love with Sarman the blue eyed protagonist. The antagonist is the cities lord named Maham, possibly also the father of the girl. Maham incidentally sports a horned head gear similar to the imagery in the famed Pashupati seal. Did Ashutosh try to draw a parallel between Pashupatinath, Bhagwan Shiva and the antagonist Maham, cant put anything past these liberal secular types in Bollywood? Sarman finally dethrones the evil Maham in a typical Bollywood hero vs villain fight and all lived happily ever after. Some strange artistic freedoms has been taken such as gladiatorial combat, no where in the unearthed sites has one found any fighting arena. Ashutosh confesses that he could not have made the movie without a love story which also exposes the lack of creativity and the boring linear movie making in Bollywood.

5. Religion and Culture: Sticking to pseudo liberal and secular credentials of Bollywood movie industry, Ashutosh Gowarikar has developed the movie in a religious and cultural vacuum. From the movie it is well nay impossible to make out what culture the people belong to besides vaguely alluding to Animism. Giving Ashutosh the benefit of doubt we have to wait for the movie release to confirm if he is trying to hint at early Vedic period which was predominantly Animistic - worshipping the elements such as Agni, Vaayu, Varuna, Bhumi, Pashu, Vriksha etc.

For all the historical backdrop, the story could have easily been placed in modern day India or in any other continent. I fail to understand how this movie has put the Indus-Saraswati civilisation at the centre of the story, the ancient city seems to be incidental to the boring worn out love and song dance routine. With once in a life time opportunity to create a path breaking movie on the Indus-Saraswati civilisation and showcasing the legacy of ancient India the Indian movie Industry fails in creating a meaningful narrative that brings to fore the Vedic roots of India and reinforces a strong sense of identity to a country wracked by colonial and socialist ideological conflicts. The people of India should reject such sterile narratives that helps reinforce defunct and failed historical theories or worse provide nothing meaningful and educative.                                                     

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Brahmins the evil force in India, secular story telling!


I came away impressed by the movie Bajiao Mastani, it was epic in scale comparable to Mughal-e-Azam only grander in design. 'Bhagwa' (Saffron flag, a Hindu religious colour) fluttering amidst shouts of 'Har Har Mahadev' and Maratha horse ploughing through enemy lines is unprecedented in Indian movie making. Historical accuracy notwithstanding, the movie cinematography was excellent with grand sets, accurate costume design and battle sequences. Song and dance routines played out at the drop of a hat but Sanjay Leela Bansali movies are known for beautifully choreographed songs, so no surprises there.

On the flip side, the story lacks narrative depth. Bajirao, Mastani's nor Kashibai's character were given much space to develop, victims to the time consuming song and dance routine. Even though being a love story, the movie did not exude the romance and tragedy like in 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', viewer never gets to experience how the two feel so deeply madly in love, the love story did not make the emotional connect.

Given the fact, Peshwa Bajiao was a great Maratha leader second only to Shivaji Maharaj the viewers were deprived of significant narrative of his persona and history, while a minor insignificant episode in his life was made larger than life. The story alludes to a great Maratha history but shies away from showcasing it in full. In truth the movie tries to be a love story while narrating half baked historical facts and ends up being neither. The truth is in the letter Bajirao sent to Chimanji Appa (his younger brother) after the campaign in Bundelkhand. He never speaks or alludes to Mastani or of a budding love. In the fast evolving political landscape, Bajirao sped towards Delhi and besieged the city for many months, this part has been ignored in the movie, showing Bajirao returning to Pune.

To cancel out any perceived anti Muslim bias, Sanjay finds enough time to build a anti Brahminical narrative to paint the Brahmins as the evil religious bigots who try to come between the Brahmin Peshwa and his love, plotting to kill Mastani and her toddler son Shamsher. I wonder how would it would have been if Bajirao was a Muslim and Mastani a Hindu, would the Mullah's and mother-in-law combine have been projected as tolerant, accepting and secular? I bet they would. Brahmins and Baniyas happen to be easy scape goats for any of India's multitude of problems past or present as was the case with Amir Khan movie PK.

Practically speaking second marriage especially among Brahmins is not allowed, more so in the case of Peshawa Bajirao as any second marriage and resultant offspring would have created a succession conflict which is best avoided, Chatrapati Sahu had made Peshwahi hereditary title in the Bajirao's family.

Bajirao-Mastani, though a bold movie in many ways and infinitely better than the pathetic apology Jodha-Akbar, Sanjay like many in Bollywood don't have the courage or the confidence to address historical facts and narrate history as is. Indian movie makers hide behind fake love stories and secular story telling. If someone decides to make a movie on Aurangzeb, I am sure they would find or cook up a secular episode because Indian movie makers don't have the courage to tell the truth while find it easy to paint the Hindus especially the Brahmins as evil. This should stop. If anything Maurya, Guptas, Vijaynagara, Rajputs, Maratha's became a military force and an empire mainly because of the visionary nation building guidance of the Brahmins starting with Chanakya, who recognised Bharat as a single cultural and political entity and strived to unite us as one nation.   

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Prisoners of the book!

random notes....

Does it not confound your minds, how can all the wisdom of mankind and all the infinite knowledge of the Universe both known and unknown, yet to be discovered, yet to be fathomed and measured and comprehended can be captured in one single book of few hundred pages. How can one single individual declare finality of knowledge in a single book?

Even the books on science in thousands of pages have not been able to declare finality of knowledge on any given subject. Even today we discover new things about single celled creatures, the most basic of all living things. So how can everything be trapped in one single book, how can we allow ourselves be trapped inside this book?! 

Why god, via his prophets of course, not given us knowledge about the Universe, what constitutes the Universe, who else lives there, if at all. Why he does not tell us there are others in the Universe who look to him as their creator. The answer of the book is '...in time' or humans are not ready yet, or some such thing which belittles human achievements and makes us look like children. I think such answers are an insult to humanity and its achievements.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Countering Christian Conversion

The fine art of subverting an individual's belief system to an extent that he starts hating his culture and tradition has been perfected by the Christian Church for over two millennia. This is a game they played and perfected against the unsuspecting Romans some 2000 years back. Early Christian were no theologians or intellectuals, they were mostly disgruntled slaves, criminals and other dregs of the society (Its interesting to note that Christianity, Islam and Communist thrive on unhappiness and unrest, manufactured or otherwise). These early Christians were no match for Roman, their arguments were childlike polemics against the might of Greco-Romans intellectual traditions. But within 300 years the Romans were defeated at their own game and Christianity held sway over the minds of the people.

Latin speaking Christians in the West did not acquire a philosophical mind of any considerable quality before the middle of the 4th century, with the conversion of the Roman Neoplatonist Marius Victorianus... (Heathen In His Blindness by SN.Balagangadhara)
Just like the early Christians, Hindus at the moment lack the intellectual depth and knowledge to challenge the Christian missionaries who have sharpened their theological skills by borrowing from various traditions and cultures they encountered around the world over the past 2000 years. The current re-conversion efforts by Hindu groups titled 'Ghar-Wapsi' (Home Return) is one such amateurish attempt to challenge Christian conversion missions. Much like the proverbial tiger skin analogy given by Kalyana to Alexander, where one side of the skin rises up when other side is pressed down, this will be an endless circular battle with no conclusive results,. The only unwanted by product of such actions would be giving a handle to sundry rights groups, media courts, pseudo intellectuals and Western countries to berate India's on religious freedom track record and give the BJP government an unwanted headache distracting it from its development agenda. Its another matter that such Ghar Wapsi has been happening since decades under Congress regimes but the media and the liberals find this an opportune moment to protest.

So how can this Christian conversion be tackled, is there a way to stop them from eating and digesting our civilisation and culture? In my humble opinion there are a few legislative and judicial routes open considering that Anti-Conversion laws exist in many states. They just need to be beefed up and enforced.

Stop Inculturation and Digestion of Hindu traditions: Christianity in its early days had difficulty in convincing the Romans that Christianity was a religion at all or had a history or traditions with any great antiquity, in fact Romans had not even heard of Jesus heralded by the Christians. For the Romans any practice that was rooted in antiquity handed down from generation to generation (much like Hinduism) was tradition or tradicio as they called it and thus formed a part of their belief system which is religion or religio for the Romans. For a young religion like Christianity, which was not the ancestral custom/ tradition of a people was hard pressed to provide evidence for its antiquity or traditions. Christians resorted to borrowing the Jewish traditions, Moses and other stories and thus put together a 'doctrine' which they showcased as the New Testament, a new improved version of the Jewish Old Testament. Must say the Christians used the gift of hindsight as a great weapon. The New Testament doctrine hardcoded many aspects of Christianity which got further reinforced through the Nicene creed and over time many new elements of the religion got incorporated which have now become integral part of Christianity. What we see today is finished product of Christianity with not much scope for path breaking evolution besides some concessions and amendments with the core remaining intact.

Keeping the above in mind, we can try to tackle the inculturation and attempted digestion of Hinduism by Christians through the law of antiquity, precedence, traditions and sanctioned practices of the Church. Just like the Romans, Hindus can take a more intellectual route to combat Christian conversion via inculturation by demanding from the Church evidence via law of precedence or evidence through religious scriptures or other aspect of the Christian doctrine where the use of Saffron robes, Rudrakshmala, Jesus Sahasranama, Jesus Namavali, Jesus Devasthanam and other aspects of inculturation that one may come across is practiced anywhere in the world and is a part of Christianity or sanctioned Christian practices. On the other hand Hindus should show how these elements have been part of Hinduism for thousands of years with scriptural evidence where applicable. Inculturation or borrowing Hindu traditions and customs thus can be outlawed by the court of law.

Proactive anti-conversion campaign: One very effective way to dent the Christian mission is a proactive anti-conversion campaign. Hindus can enlist the support of many intellectuals, activists, academics and even normal folks in the West who oppose Church's conversion activities. They can be invited to tour India to engage and speak with vulnerable sections of the society on the evils of conversions and probably even expose the lies of the Church. Lets face it, given India's colonial past, Indians face a inferiority complex while dealing with white people and the Church exploits this Indian vulnerability to the maximum. There is nothing more gratifying than a white man touching, moving about even eating at a Dalit house while his co-religionist shun him. This misplaced sense of acceptance by a white man is all that a Dalit needs to convert to an alien cult. Take this missionary edge away by firstly integrating the outer fringes of Hindu society and counter the white missionary with a white Christian myth busters. 

Stop new Church planting in non-Christian areas: Christianity believes in congregation, a collective place for mass worship and for this they have the Church. The Church is also a place where they can place their religious icon the cross for everyone to see so that it acts as a beacon for future converts. They tend to spread their religion by planting Churches in remote areas and servicing the region with a local or foreign priest. In most cases new Churches are planted in places where there are no Christians in the first place. Now why would Christian missions want to plant a new Church where there are no Christians at all but for the purpose of conversion. This is where Anti-Conversion law needs to be beefed up to enforce this rule. Here are some pointers.

a. No new Church can be planted where there are no native Christians living in the region for more than 25 years or so. Imported or supplanted Christians won't count.

b. For a new Church to be installed, the local Christian population should be a certain percentage of the overall population

c. No planting of Christian icons till above conditions met

d. In fact no Christian missionary activities can take place where there are no Christians already among the native populations. Christian mission can only service the existing Christians in a given region.

Thus for example JP Nagar, Jayanagar, Banashankari in South Bangalore where the Christian population is negligible, the Missions cannot either start a conversion campaign or plant a Church for that matter.

Stop issuing Visas to foreign Church officials and known Missionaries: Missionaries enter India using a normal visitors Visa which does not allow them to engage in any conversion activities but they still continue to do so since enforcement is nonexistent and also its difficult to follow every missionary. Thus route to can be plugged at source by denying visa to foreign Church officials and missionaries. A little research by the Indian embassy or consulate in the foreign country can give them a lot of information on such organisations. Some of them are even school teachers who use their summer holidays to visit India on mission activities.

In my opinion laws of precedence and proactive anti-conversion campaigns are two untried methods to counter Christians especially the law of precedence if properly applied with the aid of an expert scholar can yield high dividends and will put an end to the inculturation activities.

Source: Heathen in his Blindness

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The top 3 Economies of the world in last 2000 years



1. India has always been one of the top 3 economies of the world in the last 2000 years
2. Of the 2000 years, India has been number 1 economy for 1100 years
3. After a gap of 130 years (1870) India is is back in its rightful place as one of the top 3 economies replacing France, Britain, Russia and Japan on the way back
4. The timelines coincide with French and British colonial empires which briefly enabled them to make it to the top 3 economies and they dropped out once their empires disintegrated
5. USA has led the pack for the last 100 years only to relinquish its 1st position to China and is uncomfortable filler in a India China sandwiched

How long will this situation continue? Will we see a return back to the 1 AD position with USA diminishing to a far away 3rd like the Roman empire. Maybe its still in the distant future but the result is a certainty. Under Narendra Modi and BJP we are on the way.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hindu Traditions, Religion and Scientific temper, countering Left Lib narrative!

The overall euphoria over the success of the Mangalyaan mission (Indian Mars Mission) and certain ignorant tweets and comments jolted me out of my inertia. The objective of this piece is not to criticize or educate Nikhil Wagle or others like him but to inform normal folks who may find the line of thinking expressed in his tweets as a valid point.



 India is a land of contrast and paradoxes and everyone who visits India from the West will tell you that. One thousand year old temples may be situated next to modern satellite communications complexes in Thumba, South India. A nuclear scientist may start the day by offering puja at a shrine and chant Vishnusahastranama (the thousand names of Vishnu) while driving to work. A brilliant software programmer at Google or Microsoft will code the most complex algorithms with an image of Ganesha adorning the soft board in the cubicle. Our engineers will not build a dam without Bhumi Pujan’. Scientific research centers in India, engaged in the most advanced hi-tech research conduct puja and homa within their facilities. An engineering or medical science student will visit a temple for blessings and apply tilak before his exams. Now what makes some of these brilliant minds engaged in rationale, scientific work, perform these seemingly irrational, even superstitious acts. One word for this is ‘Tradition’ and not religion as some may have us believe.

                                   Religio is what traditio is all about     
                                                                  Heathen in his Blindness, Balgangadhara

To establish that the above statement i.e. its tradition and not religion that we Hindus follow in our daily lives, we have to first understand the origin and meaning of the word religion. The world religion comes from the Latin word religio used by the Romans to describe practices, rituals, festivals, sacrifices etc. that collectively became Roman customs and traditions over the centuries. When we look at religion as tradition, that is a set of practices transmitted over generations, then the term appears as a minor variant of our intuitive nation of culture: to have a religion is to have culture. Whenever there are people with a history, there tradition exists too. In other words they have religio too. This is how the pagans seem to have seen the issue.  Thus religio is what traditio is all about, religion falls together with tradition and continuing a tradition does not require any reason other than itself” as Prof. Balagangadhara succinctly summarizes in his magnum opus ‘The heathen in his blindness’. 

The primary test of truth in religious matters was custom and tradition, the practices of the ancients…In philosophical matters one might turn to intellectuals and philosophers, but in religious questions one looked to the past, to the accepted practices handed down by tradition, and to the guarantors of this traditions, the priests (Wilken)

The republic was an age of rationalism; certainly as far as Roman nobility was concerned. But this tendency was never taken to its logical conclusion, rejection of tradition religious practices…Such respect for ancestral authority would assure the continuity of traditions rituals, just as the childhood associations, family traditions and the peculiar nature of pagan beliefs would be preserve traditional mental attitude. (Liebeschuetz)

It is wise and reasonable for us to preserve the institutions of our forefathers by retaining their rites and ceremonies. (Cicero)
                                                        Heathen in his Blindness, Balagangadhara

This non-exhaustive list reads like who’s who in western classical philosophy and science (both Greek and Roman) they not only performed religious rituals but also were priests of religious order. Socrates, Plato, Epicurus, Lucretius, Cicero, Plutarch, Athenogoras the Athenian, Celsus, Cornelius Tacitus, Prophyry, were highly regarded philosophers, thinkers, scientists, polymaths, yet openly participated and led religious ceremonies. Socrates the father of western philosophy defended himself against charges of Atheism and credited the Oracle at Delphi for his education. Socrates and his student Plato proposed that the soul is immortal and believed in reincarnation. Cicero’s was on the Roman council of Augury though he really did not lay much stress on conducting ones life based on soothsaying. Plutarch was a priest at the Oracle of Delphi yet he attacked some Roman traditio. Thus these individuals were brilliant rational thinkers, philosophers and atheist in some cases yet were also closely attached to their respective temples and practiced to their religious traditions.

Cicero’s De Natura Deorum (On the nature of Gods) is a great classical work on the origin of god that has not been bettered till date in western philosophy. The work is a speculative dialogue on the existence of god. Many 18th century intellectuals such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, Hume, Edward Gibbon etc. used Cicero’s work, written some 2000 years earlier as the arsenal to attack religion and come up with the idea of Secularism. Why the arguments in Cicero’s work were decisive to the inheritors of the Graeco-Roman culture 2000 years later to make them turn away from god and turn atheist? The content of the Cicero’s work did not change but the cultural matrix in which it was understood had changed. What the European intellectuals thought of religion was very different from the idea of Roman religio. 18th century Europe operated within a Christian cultural matrix and the intellectuals understood religion in the way Christian theology describes it (God, Son of God, Creed, Scriptures and other assorted dogmas). Thus the ancients could be perfectly rational, scientist, mathematicians, physicians, philosophers or atheist even and yet be closely attached to their gods and tradition without for a moment feeling any dissonance.

This Christian definition of religion has been passed on to our intellectuals through colonisation and through continuation of the colonial educational and cultural framework and thus they form misinformed or even ignorant idea of religion, which is far removed from the native thought. Religion holds a different meaning to the Hindus compared to the Christian definition of religion. The idea of religion to the Hindus is a collection of rituals and practices that have become a tradition over centuries just as religion was traditio for the Romans.

Drawing from the above its easy to see how in ancient India, brilliant scientist like Bhaskaracharya, Brahmagupta, Aryabhata, Varahamira, Susruta, Nagarjuna, Charaka to name a few were not only rational and scientifically ‘tempered’ but also closely attached to their gods and traditions which does not mean that their work was less reliable or less worthy. Going back to the tweet by Nikhil Wagle, a prominent Marathi journalist, does the achievement of the Indian space scientist is less worthy just because they prayed to Shri Venkateshwara Balaji? What is scientific temper, is it a badge or a certificate? If Indian space scientist can send a spacecraft to Mars, is it not scientific temper enough that they have to further embellish it with rejection of their ancient traditions.


                                                    The Telegraph India
Via Keerthik Sasidharan and Anjali George on twitter
Ganesh puja before all rituals, Sandyavandane, Yajnopaveetham, Tulsi Puja, Dipawali, Holi, Dashera, Krishna Janmashtami, Ram Navmi, Surya Puja, Karva Chauth, Raksha Bandhan, Ritual bath before entering temple, applying Haldi on wedding day (Turmeric) and all other such rituals, practices have to be retained and practiced as they have been transmitted over generations and they need no further legitimization. It’s been the way of our ancestors and so it shall be ours. If we lose these traditions then we lose our identity, we will lose our soul.

The Octavius, Caecilius the Pagan

Its better as high priest of truth, to receive the teaching of your ancestors, to cultivate the religion handed down to you, to adore the gods whom you were first trained by your parents to fear… not to assert an opinion concerning the deities, but to believe your forefather, who while the age was untrained in the birth-times of the world itself, deserved to have gods either propitious to them, or as their kings.
          Heathen in his Blindness, Balgangadhara

I dedicate this article to S. Nambi Narayanan ISRO scientist and all the brilliant scientist at ISRO who have made the Indian Mars mission, Mangalyaan a great success. Working against great odds they have made all us Indians a very proud people.

Sources: Heathen in his Blindness and How to speak for Indian traditions by Prof. Balagangadhara of Ugent.

First published in Swarjaya Mag  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Church invades via Hollywood block busters!

I was watching movie trailers of Noah and Son of God, two upcoming Hollywood block busters based on Christian mythology. West promotes its religious tales in epic movies which is soft power used for cultural domination. Arab world has banned these movies terming them blasphemy simply because they dont want their people exposed to rival religious ideas. In India and the rest of the world the movies will run and leave an impression on a already imprisoned mind.

With no effort being made to tell our own epic tales to a global audience India is fast losing it ability to take its culture to the world. Badly made Bollywood movie surely are not our cultural ambassadors and it surely does not reflect our ancient culture. Till the time we dont build our own 'narrative' to tell our history at our own terms and the way we look at the world others will impose their civilisations greatness on us and our people will accept it as the truth and we will continue to be under the spell of western greatness.