Archive for the 'Religion' Category

21
Mar
09

Shut Up And Vote

India is a Hindu Nation and no one can deny that – Mr Mohan Bhagwat made a brilliant start at his new job today as he took over the leadership of RSS. First day’s first utterance got him instant headlines. While many of you might be disgusted at that statement he made, I on my part totally agree with what he said – India is indeed a Hindu nation. There’s nothing wrong in what he said except that he failed to define what Hinduism is and who Hindus are. Hinduism is NOT a religion its a philosophy, a way of life and each one of us is a Hindu because we consciously or unconsciously have embraced this great culture and its way of life. This country belongs to us and not some uneducated fools who have no clue what they speak or stand for.

Its rather depressing to see that the world’s largest democracy happens to be the dirtiest, the least participatory and the most religiously polarized one. Like it ot not sixty years of freedom and democracy hasn’t ensured that none die of starvation and that none is exploited. More than half the country is illiterate, and an even greater percentage uneducated, Muscle and Money power still rules, Criminals still get elected, Clergy is still more or less in power and People are still not a part of the process, except once in five years.

Education I have always held is different from being literate. You might study at LSE or Oxford or SOAS or Yale and yet be uneducated, Varun Gandhi is the perfect example. All his foreign degrees failed to educate him, failed to stimulate his rationale and failed to pull him out of the bliss of ignorance he lives in. What he said reflects not just his point of view but that of an extremist organization that he is a part of. But then there’s nothing that we can do. Just like Muslim fundamentalism is legitimate in a Muslim dominated country so is Hindu Fundamentalism in a Hindu dominated country, and don’t you dare raise your fingers at them for the likes of Varun, Togadia, Modi and Advani would chop off your hands and label you as the enemy of the state and a communal force.

From times unknown religion has played a rather important role in polity and modern India is no exception, the only problem being that unlike in the US or Iran there are too many religions and all of them command power be it Hindus, Muslims or Christians. I mean take a look at the statement that Varun made after he landed in the controversy – I am a Hindu, a Gandhi and an Indian in the same measure. Note the use of language – A Hindu first, and then a Gandhi and after all that an Indian. His statement points out two important problems with Indian Polity, first there is widespread communalism and hatred being spread my mainstream political parties and second you cannot dream of joining politics or making it big unless you have a lineage to back on – a look at most young Indian MPs proves that.

Its not just the Hindus who spread hatred and polarize our communities, a look at the rather silent christian community shows how efficiently it has turned into a big political force in the south. Priests and Bishops shamelessly urge the communities to vote for a certain candidate, write letters to the centre to place candidate of their choice and come out strongly against people who oppose them or their tryst with politics to an extent where people descent to the streets.

Is this what our constitution calls secularism? Is this what our forefathers’ had envisioned? Who is to blame for all this? Savarkar? Muslim League and Jinnah? Bal Thackery? or Togadia?

Unfortunately the blame lies with Gandhi, the pre independence Indian National Congress and their vision for the country. Gandhi and INC’s excessive use of Hindu symbolism in the freedom struggle alienated the minorities and that led to the formation of Muslim League and other such religious political parties.

While on one side we have all this, a rather grim picture of the Indian Politics on the other side there is hope. For once educated people are joining politics, the latest in fray being Shashi Tharoor and Mallika Sarabhai. Not many have lost hopes. There is a new wave of optimism. People want their share of power and say in the governance. Jagore Campaign has done wonders. The ever complaining Indian youth is up in arms against the warlords of Indian Politics. They want to vote for a change. They want to be a part of the revolution.

The murky waters of Indian politics, it seems, would clear up for good soon. Or would it?

The fact is that most Indians are still uneducated they’d still be influenced by the clergy and muscle power. All these war cries for responsible voting can be heard only in our cities. Shut Up And Vote is written in English a language that more than 80% of the country cannot speak. Who are we fooling? India still is in its villages. If we want a change then that ought to start at the grassroot level.

Anyway Shut Up And Vote.

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06
Mar
09

The Coming of Age

I have quite often been critical of the church and religious institutions. People who know me know of my opposition to any form of organized movement that seeks to impose upon people a set of ideologies;I may seem like an anarchist but I believe anarchy is inevitable when it comes to dreaming of a rational society, a society governed by peace and that involves true participation, something on the lines of Jewish communes called Kibbutz.

But then again the thought of a commune system gives me creeps because what instantly comes to my mind is Ayn Rand’s Anthem –  the loss of individuality – and Manoj Nnight Shyamalan’s Village – a society of Puritanians.

I am finally convinced that my friend Lal’s work was a masterpiece. Lal happens to be a friend of mine who wrote a book, a philosophical critique on governance, wherein he claims that no form of governance is truly participatory.

Anyway, enough of rambling. What I seek, in simple terms, is peace and the freedom to choose, a capitalist society with a humane touch.

The world is reeling under the aftereffects of recession, unemployment rate in the US has hit a new high. Loans are difficult to get by. Lay-offs in every possible direction. The sale of anti-depressants has shot off the roof.

Who needs divorce?

While on one side we have news that is depressing on the other side is news that is amusing – Divorce cases have hit a new low! Religious institutions are getting record attendance(and money)! Self help and investment books are selling like hot cakes!

Atheists often look down upon theists as irrational people, people who are dumb enough to believe in karmic cycle, resurrection, apocalypse and sins.

In a recent post by one of my friend, on his blog, he discussed about the same and claimed that babies are atheists and if allowed to grow so will lead us to a world that works on rational principles – a claim that I had fiercely argued against. Well it looks like, for once, my claims were right.

A recent research claims that Gods are a natural extension of the evolutionary process and also the manner in which we’re wired, up in our attics. And that this new-found phenomenon of seeking solace in our gods(Thanks to recession) is something that is natural to us humans, we will at times of adversity turn to some mystical power, which is nothing but a creation of our imagination.

The research draws its inspiration from the phenomenon of kids and adults having imaginary friends.

Nevertheless, Gods/no Gods the debate is an unending one and so is our quest for a perfect and rational society.

REVOLUTION!

REVOLUTION!

To me the present world is in someways a world similar to the swinging sixties. Music is the latest thing and that too indie music, anti-government feeling is on the rise, socialists are on the rise, more and more people are speaking out and all that we see around, most things seem to tell me that we’re on the verge of a cultural revolution.

Then again, it might be the effect of all the conspiracy theories I’ve seen and read in the past couple of years.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have entered the age of Aquarius, or so some people claim.

In astrology, the Age of Aquarius is one of the twelve astrological ages.Each astrological age is approximately 2,150 years long, Unlike sun-sign astrology where the first sign is Aries, followed by Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces whereupon the cycle returns to Aries and through the zodiacal signs again, the astrological ages proceed in the opposite direction or order.

Astrological ages exist as a result of precession of the equinoxes. The stars and constellations appear to slowly rotate around the Earth independent of the diurnal and annual movements of the Earth on its own axis and around the Sun. This slow movement takes slightly less than 26,000 years to complete one cycle.

In 1929, the International Astronomical Union defined the edges of the 88 official constellations In 1929, the International Astronomic Ages are believed by some astrologers to affect mankind while other astrologers believe the ages correlate to the rise and fall of mighty civilizations and cultural tendencies.

Aquarius traditionally rules electricity, computers, flight, democracy, freedom, humanitarianism, idealists, modernization, rebels and rebellion, mental diseases, nervous disorders, and astrology. Other keywords and ideas believed associated with Aquarius are nonconformity, philanthropy, veracity, perseverance, mankind and irresolution. The appearance or elevation in status of many of these Aquarian developments over the last few centuries is considered by many astrologers to indicate the proximity of the Aquarian age. There is no uniform agreement about the relationship of these recent Aquarian developments and the Age of Aquarius.

Some astrologers believe that the influence of a new age is experienced before it arrives because of a cuspal effect or Orb of Influence. Other astrologers believe the appearance of Aquarian developments indicate the actual arrival of the Age of Aquarius.

But then again the astronomers are not in agreement with the date of commencement of the age. While some say it started way back in the 19th century some others claim it started this year in the month of Feb. Anyway my in box is often full of promotional emails from astrologers and oracles who claim that the transition is here and I ought to make the best use of it by paying these frauds100$ for telling me how to make the best of this transition.

The reason I gave you so much gyan about the Age of Aquarius is because of a certain announcement by the Vatican this week, an announcement that, to me, confirms the fact that we’re indeed in the age of Aquarius and thus on the verge of a revolution.

The famous Darwin cartoon that hit newspapers soon after Darwin published The Orign of Species

The famous Darwin cartoon that hit newspapers soon after Darwin published The Orign of Species

The Vatican earlier this week announced that it accepts Darwinism. While to many this is a welcome move because christian theologians had years ago rejected the claims of the book of genesis a fact that often baffled the laity, to many this is the first nail on Christianity’s coffin. The church goes on to claim that accepting Darwinism does not in any manner interfere with the church’s claim of acceptance of God and trashes the claims of Richard Dawkins- the church calls it absurd;for it was God who  made the soul.

I believe its time for researchers in the field of cognitive and conscience sciences to pull their socks.

Meanwhile a research conducted by BBC claims that people often lie about the books they’ve read. The most lied about book is George Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty Four, followed by James Joyce’s Ulysses, Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s children. I happen to have pirated prints of all the four books and with the exception of War and Peace have read all the three, or at least am in the process – stuck with Ulysses!

According to BBC of the hundred books listed below an average individual would not have read more than six.

Place a mark next to the ones you’ve read.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen #
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien #
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee #
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell#
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens #
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller#
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien #
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulkner
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger#
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald #
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy *
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams #
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky #
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll #
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy #
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens #
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen #
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini #
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres #
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell #
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown #
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez #
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy #
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding #
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens#
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley#
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez #
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie #
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville #
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker #
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce(Reading)#
76 The Inferno – Dante#
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens#
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert #
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry#
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle #
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad#
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl #
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo#

37 Books! I am better read than an average Briton!

What’s your score?

03
Mar
09

To Love Man…

Man is a savage they say, a beast. A beast which the society tames.

Growing up as a kid I was often labeled as a selfish kid, by my parents, my teachers and my peers, for I wouldn’t share my goodies with anyone – chocolates or toys or any other such thing. Gradually, I began to change, for God did not like selfish kids, or so I was told. I started sharing things with others, often with a heavy heart and afraid of the God hiding behind the clouds. But more than God what scared me was the rebuttal of the society, being labeled as selfish all over again and being sidelined.

I was, like many of you reading this, being tamed – to fit into the society – but for some strange reason, within the deepest quarters of my heart I, still was, the same old selfish beast and tried my best not to show my share of goodies to friends and family, lest I be forced to share.

College and grass helped me become the beast again, I dared to call myself one, I dared to call myself selfish and I still do. While the society regards selfishness as a vice, to me its a virtue, a virtue far greater than any other, for somewhere deep inside we are all selfish and we’re scared to accept the truth.

go go said the bird
reality is too much for human kind to bear

said TS Eliot in one of his poems. It actually is too much for us to bear and in the process we created the likes of God, with the kind of vision that’ll embarrass Superman!

We’ve created a perpetual machine against the very basic laws of thermodynamics!

In the process of loving God, being one with him we have forgotten what love means. How can a man love others if he doesn’t know what love is, for to love others he has to love himself first; but that he cannot do for loving himself would mean being selfish and selfish people cannot love others. What kind of illogical beings have they turned us into? How can a man make a music if he knows not what it is?

To be selfish is not a crime, it is the first step in finding yourself, reclaiming your life, a life that you’ll live but once for no one knows what lies beyond and all that we claim to know is based on our imagination!

It is when you become selfish, when you experience yourself, when you see the beauty of the beast within you that you’ll become a man, not otherwise, for unless you see the beauty and the ugliness within you you will not be able humble yourself and experience the beauty elsewhere.

Selfishness taught me the joy of sharing, the joy of being friendly and at the same time being rude, the joy of being able to laugh at myself and above all the joy of loving people and forgiving them.

When I say all this, you’d assume this is all rhetoric, what the fuck is he saying? he has no clue!

Well, for once I know I am not stoned, and that I am in perfect senses and that I make perfect sense. To be able to be a man, a human, you need to be selfish. All the love for god will not reform you, it’ll make you worse. I see it everyday, church going people, cursing each other behind their backs.

Had the good fortune of spending a day at a Leprosy Care Centre here in Hyderabad and I must say it was an experience of a lifetime, for I realized that the social outcasts are at times the most love-able and loving people. Want to spend some more time there. What surprised me was the manner in which the people who accompanied me reacted, a bunch of church going god loving sheep. Their attitude not just disgusted me rather reinforced my belief that loving a non existent god is worse than killing a man.

Where has all this Godliness brought us? People are up in arms against each other, be it Hindu Fanatics in India, Muslim Fanatics in Pakistan, Jewish Fanatics in the Middle East or Christian Fanatics elsewhere. Religion and Gods have left us with nothing but misery, they have divided our hearts and filled us with hatred.

Dostoevsky was right when he said that Roman Catholicism is worse than atheism infact any organized religion is worse than atheism.

The need of the hour is not to seek the non existent god within us but to seek the human within us.

The need of the hour is to make a new man of us, to transform ourselves into humans and not some brainless sheep herded by an unknown and unseen shepherd and to work towards a new world order devoid of these forces that divide us and spread nothing but hatred.

At this point I leave you with an iconic song of the last century by John Lennon – Imagine. Lyrics can be found here.

Pax Vobiscum.




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