Copyright © Ravi's Ironic Sunshine Blog
Design by Dzignine
Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hindu Discipline & Motivation

For those who follow my blog they know that from time to time I will go away. Usually for about a month It’s not that my well of ideas have run dry, It’s that I'm busy reading. I get sucked into books so easily, for Christmas I was given as a present Devdutt Pattanaik’s Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling Of The Mahabharata.

I’m a huge fan of the Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, however unlike most I choose not to read it as a theological or historical text. I choose to read it as a psychological and sociological treatises. An insight into human behaviour and relationships from a Hindu and Vedic perspective.

For a little context the Mahabharata the story revolves around the dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kaurava and the Pandava. Although the Kaurava is the senior branch of the family, Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, is younger than Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava. Both Duryodhana and Yudhisthira claim to be first in line to inherit the throne.

For this blog I’m going to talk about one of the central characters. Karna is the tragic character of the tale and he struggles with the present because of his unknown past. How often have we all failed to deal with consequences of our choices agonized over bridges that have to be crossed or roads not taken. I’m going to share an extract from the book and offer my insight and understanding to this feeling and state of mind.

Karna had grown up not knowing who his parents were. He was raised by the Kaurava Royal families stable master. Desperate to rise above the family station he learn’t the martial arts. Throughout the tale he is ridiculed and belittled for being little more than the son of charioteer. However in truth he was a Pandava the eldest Pandava their mother had given him up when she was blessed with a son before she was married.

This extract is from when his mother confronts him about switching allegiances and coming home. 

Extract:

Karna raised his head and recognised Kunti. Glances were exchanged between mother and son. A lifetime of unspoken emotions gushed forth. Karna bowed. The charioteers son salutes the mother of the Pandavas; he said. The sarcasm in his voice was like a poisoned barb.
Forgive me; said Kunti in tears.

Forgive me; said Karna, apologizing for his pettiness. She was after all barely a child when she had borne him. What can I do for you? It’s almost daybreak. I always grant the wish made to me at this time of day...

Truth was grating. Kunti nodded shamefully, I don't want you to fight your brothers, abandon the Kauravas and take your rightful place among your family and let there be peace. I do not want my sons to die.

Who do you refer to? The ones born after marriage or the one before? Kunti wanted to shout ALL! But a despondent Karna continued ‘The world knows you as the mother of five sons. At the end of the war, I promise you that you will still have five sons and one great archer either me or Arjuna. 

Again this is just a small extract of the conversation, I encourage everyone read the Mahabharata It has always provided perspective in my life. The lesson that Karna demonstrates to me is the power of discipline when motivation has been compromised. The past is what informs our present and influences our future. Motivation is great it breeds ideas, creativity and energy. It’s discipline that sees those ideas become a reality. 

In the case of Karna he is within reach of everything he ever dreamt of his whole life was a struggle. Yet he was a King, one of the greatest warriors in the world and a benevolent ruler. His motivations and discipline has carried him thus far. Should he now having learn't the truth of his past, his real family and heritage abandon everything that had got him there?

Karna was faced the truth of his past confirming his long held belief that he was more than just the son of a charioteer and really the son of a noble family. Yet he wasn't swayed by the emotion or moment he owed everything to his friend Dhuryodhana who bestowed upon him title [by merit], protection from insults and affection. 


The trouble with wisdom is that It often comes to us a little late and even then sometimes never we never learn from it allowing for coincidence rather than Karma. We trap ourselves in a loop of same actions whilst expecting a different result. Cultivation of discipline is like building your house on strong foundations it will endure and so will you when you're disciplined. 
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hinduism and the Rain

I’m writing this blog at 2pm on Tuesday 11th February at my desk in Birmingham, UK. I woke up to clear but grey skies at 7.30am by 9.00am It had began to rain at 10.30am it turned into a ‘Biblical’ amount of rain and by 11.00 it started snowing. However despite all this by 12.30 the sun had come and at the moment it’s a pleasant sunny day. 

I began to ponder whilst I was out walking, Has the weather ever been this extreme? From a rationalist or objective view it would seem mother nature being her unpredictable self. The Hindu inside me couldn’t help feel something else was going on. Looking at it through the lens of Hinduism it would quite easily be concluded the weather is out of balance.

Of course my mind went to work and began scanning for references to extreme weather in the Hindu Library of Knowledge. The story that jumped out to me was the First Avatar of Vishnu - The Avatar of Matsaya [Fish]. There are many cultures around the world that have accounts of a great flood or deluge for me the first account is the Avatar of Matsaya. I'm not going to go into the full story but suffice to say there was a flood. 

The relevant bit of the story is the Human intervention. A human called Manu saves a small fish from being eaten by a larger fish. Breaking the natural order of the animal kingdom. Matsaya continues to outgrow his habitat and is eventually released back into the ocean but not after resources and labour are expended on accommodating his ever expanding size. Later Matsya now in the ocean forewarns Manu about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat. 

Explanations are given for the flood from the fantastical to a more rational and plausible explanation given by Rishi Vyas. Towards the end of the Mahabharat he explains to a dejected Dhritrashta and Gandhari the parents of the Kauravs that the war had to happen to reduce the burden on the Earth. Lord Krishna intervened as a kingmaker, Lord Ram intervened as a symbol of the ideal and sequentially all the previous Avatars intervened when Human interference became a burden on the Earth. 

The freak weather is a sign but not the first sign but many signs on a cyclical path of self destruction, as a follower of Samkhya [Hindu Atheism] I'm required to base things on evidence but not of the scientific method. It was a Muslim scholar Prof Reza Aslan that explained what Sacred History is, only for me to realise in Hinduism we call it Ithihasa. It means to find wisdom from past events, less concerned with facts, dates and empiricism, For example John saw a homeless man and he gave that man the money he had. In the modern understanding we would be concerned if John really did that however the ‘ancient’ scholars were more concerned with wisdom.

The evidence is not of hard facts but of wisdom, especially the past. Many wise, learned and great souls have all said the same about learning from the past. For me it’s best summed up by Friedrich Nietzsche when he said The future influences the present just as much as the past. As a Hindu I find it imperative to act, it’s the highest call in the Bhagvad Gita to act when faced with an injustice. As mother nature is mother to us all who could keep quiet when their mother is treated with such disdain. I dare you to search out the facts and see what goes on in the world. 
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hindus Should Go Green

In the UK there are three main political parties covering a wide spectrum. Everything from financially conservative to socially liberal. These three parties are the Conservatives, New Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Hindu Diaspora like any other community doesn’t vote for one particular ideology, manifesto or leader. 

However I'm going to argue that it should change and the Hindu community regardless or local issues or leaders the party that should have the allegiance for the next General Election is the Green Party. I'm not going to go through all the points but just a few to get the ball rolling and hopefully encourage people to do their own homework and consider it. I’m not a member of the Green Party I should state that now or am I being paid to write this - I wish I was. 

The Conservatives:
The reasons why Hindus would vote for conservatives could be any number however historically there has only ever been three reasons at first to even entertain the notion of voting for the conservatives. The first and simplest reason is - the Conservatives let and helped the East African Hindus into the UK. There was much huffing and puffing at the time but eventually British sense of loyalty won and the East African Hindus were allowed to settle. 

The second and third reasons are more political. The early generations of Hindus who grew up in the UK all they knew was the Conservative party for all of Margaret Thatcher's bad deeds she was a winner and Sir John Major continued that of course brought to an abrupt end by Tony Blair. Even that was when Labour became New Labour and lurched from centre left to centre right. Who doesn't love a winner. The evidence may seem anecdotal however ask yourself how many times have we heard the same statements: Elders hog seats or power? Elders are out of touch? And the most common the Elders opinion of younger generation -it wasn't as good as theirs. 

Third and final reason is Hindus whether they know it or not are financially conservative. Waiting to save up to afford a purchase or only spending at the most risk free moment. If anyone needs evidence of this just spend a little time on the charities commission website and see the last financial records for the local Hindu institutions. Yet with all that financial muscle on average the Hindu community is 20-30 years behind the other communities in all areas.

New Labour:
In 2012 New Labour had enjoyed an unwavering support of the Hindu Community across the UK. There is a simple answer to this was pointed out by the Daily Mail in Dec 2010 [1] Hindus and Sikhs are now in the middle class. New Labour on the socio-economic pyramid maintain their base thanks to the middle class and working class. As the generations of Hindus grew up through the 80’s and 90’s achieving more equality and recognition for their contributions to the UK there was no need to be tied down to the Conservatives.

However in 2013 an act of what can only described as catastrophically short sighted and idiotic, The New Labour MP's pushed through the Single Equality Bill. I blogged about this before [2] however since then new evidence of insanity has emerged the core of this is down to the National Institute for Social and Economic Research [NISER] report on the issue of Caste. The head of NISER John Portes said "The report was qualitative research, limited in budget and scope" and went to on to say it "was not designed to establish reliable and robust evidence on the prevalence and severity of such discrimination." [3]

Yet it did nothing to deter New Labour from throwing the whole Hindu community under the bus. I was once told that democracy works on the principle of people coming together to make informed decisions. What does it say when a whole community mobilises to stop an injustice from happening and are met by a deafening silence, what does it say when 2 million people March on the capital and the leader ignores the wishes of the people who put him there [Iraq War]. Why should Hindus follow or have any allegiance to New Labour? 

Liberal Democrats:
Hindus have never really seen the Liberal Democrats as a viable party simply because they never win and are always the butt of jokes - who wants to be the joke?. Regardless there have been pockets of support mostly on principle however a fatal flaw has been well and truly exposed, lightning sort of struck twice. It also happens to be the fickle reason why Hindus don't vote nor will ever vote, Liberal Democrats always make a poor leadership choices.

On paper maybe the most qualified Individuals however if a leader lacks a spine, charisma or political strategic thought well it doesn't fill voters with confidence. Case and point of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at one point in the last general election dubbed ‘The UK’s Obama’ his total capitulation on any or all Liberal Democrat issues, manifesto pledges and ideals. How can a community rely on such an individual to represent them when he the leader the representation of the party is willing to sell so much for so little. 

I should declare straight away that in the last election I voted and worked for the Liberal Democrats.     However my faith and reasoning has been chipped away at slowly and surely. At the time of the formation of the coalition government I thought it was master stroke getting into power via the backdoor and being able to influence the country to move away from the centre right and back to the centre left. That lasted about 5 minutes. 

Why Hindus Should Go Green...
The quickest and easiest argument I could make for the whole of the Hindu community to vote for the Green Party is that they're Hindus. For those who don't know Hinduism is governed by 4 main principles regards of sect, denomination or guru. These are Dharma, Karma, Artha and Moksha each one with thousands of years of history, philosophy and ethics to go with them.

Of course the next question would be what do these mean, for the first time it’s not that simple the worlds longest epic The Mahabharat debates the definitions of these words endlessly coming to the conclusion that life isn't black or white nor are the rules that govern them. However there are definitions which help they are the following:

Dharma - That Which Sustains
Karma - The Laws of Cause and Effect
Artha - The Laws of Wealth
Moksha - The Laws of Reincarnation and Liberation 

In line with actions and not just the manifesto I would highly recommend the readers of this spending some time getting to know the Green Party. The video that triggered this initial thought is below. MP Caroline Lucas being arrested - the hallmark of a good leader to me was summarised by Napoleon Bonaparte ‘A Leaders is a dealer in hope’ when I see the actions of the Green Party leaders one can't help but feel a sense of hope.




Fighting for Dharma is considered the highest ideal why not back the political party that actually fights for this ideal what could be more Hindu?

References:

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1338395/How-Sikhs-Hindus-bedrock-middle-Britain.html
[2] http://raviladva.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/how-to-loose-friends-and-alienate-hindus.html
[3] http://www.mycasteishindu.org/index.php/component/content/article/8-news/latest-news/316-john-portes-niesr-report-did-not-present-reliable-evidence
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Temple Run

The strength of a community revolves around a few keystones one of which is places of worship. In my case as a Hindu it would be the Mandir - In Sanskrit, the word mandira means house, palace, temple. Like any institution it requires financing. I’m someone who looks to history to understand the present.

The question I’m trying to answer is how did temples make money? And how do they make money now? The question is important to me simply because a strong place of worship or place of communal gathering means a stronger, united and cohesive community.

For me there is only a few authorities on the matter how temples generated income, of all sources I would put the greatest faith in Chanakya. It would be difficult to gather a true picture of how exactly these temples generated income in a short blog but the diversity Chanakya had in mind I think that is relevant because it’s things that temples don’t but could do in the UK.

Chanakya was an Indian teacher, philosopher, and royal advisor. Originally a professor of economics and political science at the ancient Takshashila University. His most famous work is the Arthashastra [treaties on dharmic wealth], I would argue it’s one of the best books on social, economic and political theory I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

One of the key things Chanakya states in the Arthashastra is that Temples controlled large swathes of land and property. They had livestock, workers and places of learning on the grounds. The human traffic not just worshipers but also traders, scholars and other skilled people.

In any given day an artisan could be commissioned to work on the temple grounds, a farmer would be able to trade and a scholar could arrive to learn or teach. Chanakya also much like today advises that these institutions pay little or no tax and under extreme circumstances dissolved assets for a war effort. The point is that the temples weren’t reliant on donations or levies charged to worshipers to maintain their institutions.

In comparison to the temples here in the UK a stark contrast. Of course I do not know how every temple is run or looked after nor do I know what the individual circumstances of each individual temple is. However I do know that the revenues generated by these temples could be significantly improved if they offered the worshipers something more than an audience with God.

Rare is the temple that reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the Hindu world. Training people to skilled artisans, business people and educated gives a resource that money can't buy, the human resource. This would require a level of innovation that has not been seen since the Maratha Empire.

Temples that can generate revenues honestly and in line with dharmic principles will not only strengthen the Hindu community but also the Non Hindu community. I don’t expect anything from the Hindu establishment in the UK but like Charles Darwin said It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hindu Priorities

I once debated with a group of community leaders on the nature or source of the problems in the world. I was offering a Hindu perspective, I knew then as I know now there isn’t a one size fits all solution to a problems in the world. However the question that left me stunned and for a while puzzled was the following- “What are the Hindu Community Doing To Help?” 

Now on the surface it would be quite easy to brush it off and roll off a list of contributions made by Hindus and Hindu organisations. However in context of the conversation where the discussion was around collective collaboration there is a cold silence which is why I was left puzzled. Hindus and Hindu organisations will do great work but can anyone honestly tell me there is a place in the world where ALL the Hindu organisations could, have or will come together for the greater good?

This isn’t a rant at anyone or any organisation, it’s merely an observation. For a group of people [Hindus] we are known for our warmth, generosity and peace loving values. Yet it would seem we can’t bring ourselves together for any greater good whether it be a global crisis or a community crisis.

This stood out to me more than ever when I heard about this defamation of Lord Ganesh issue. For those that are unaware Rizla a Tobacco company used Lord Ganesh in their product design. Yes I understand and fully agree they shouldn't have done it but truly could you blame them. There are approximately 120 million smokers in India. According to the World Health Organization. India is home to 12% of the world’s smokers. Approximately 900,000 people die every year in India due to smoking as of 2009. According to a 2002 WHO estimate, 30% of adult males in India smoke. Among adult females, the figure is much lower at between 3–5%. 

Yet a group in the UK called the National Hindu Students Forum had launched a project to bring to attention of the world the plight of Hindus in Pakistan. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), every month some 20 to 25 girls are forcibly converted to Islam in the Sindh province of Pakistan alone. At the time of partition, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians made 25% of Pakistan’s population; today they only make 2% of the Pakistani population.

In my eyes a far worse injustice is the plight of those who are denied a peaceful existence and a right to justice. Yet the question lingers For a group of people [Hindus] we are known for our warmth, generosity and peace loving values. Yet it would seem we can't bring ourselves together for any greater good whether it be a global crisis or a community crisis. 

In the words of Sun Tzu When A Hawk Breaks It's Prey - It's Because of Timing. When Water Tosses A Boulder - It's Because of Momentum. Timing and momentum are vital for group to work cohesively the Hindu community is lacking in both.

Support The Human Boundaries Project  


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Interfaith Dialogue

Back in October I was invited to appear on Hidayat Tv, I was asked to participate on a TV show called Faith Forum which is an Interfaith discussion program that is attempts to shorten the gap between different religions and Islam. The show is hosted by Dr Talib Hussain and on the day my co panelist was Paul Salahuddin Armstrong.

I enjoyed myself and the discussion we had and at this point I'd like to remind everyone once again that the views I share are my own and not representative of any organisation I work with or for. 




Monday, November 18, 2013

Mind and Monsters

Recently the blogs I have been writing, have been looking for the fun side of Hinduism. Those who know me personally will tell you I’m always looking for the areas where ‘Fun’ meets Hinduism.

I have not blogged for sometime, I do apologies. Life get’s in the way at the worst time. I’ve been working on my book and all things career. I had the chance to re-read some of my old comic books and came across this Paushuram one from Virgin Comics. 

It spoke to me and reminded me of the depth and beauty the narratives in Hinduism even if you don’t prescribe to the theological aspects. 


India Authentic: Paushuram: Virgin Comics: 

When I Was Younger My Mother Used Tell Me Stories. Stories Of Kings, Gods, Monsters and Demons. Even Back The I Always Used To Wonder Where Monsters Came From, What Makes Them Do The Things They Do.

We All Came Into This World With A Clean Conscience, Basic Sense of Right and Wrong. All Able At Some Level To Sense A Disturbance To The Harmonious Balance of Life. The Road Starts Here, Drive By Heart Choosing To Ignore That Which We Know and Feel Deep Inside. We Feel No Pain, Just A Maddening Rush of Blood To The Head.

We Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread. 

The First Stage of The Descent is Fear. The Fear of Loss is Replaced By The Second 

Stage 2: Anger Starts Off As A Numbness Ones Heart Feels Nothing. The World Comes Crashing Down And All There Is Silence, A Void.

Stage 3: Is Vengeance, Like A Brewing Storm Rises Building Up Malevolence. Vengeance Is Blind and Primal and It Does Not Discriminate The Tormentor and Those Who Get In The Way. 

Stage 4: is Thirst Till All That One Feels Is A Morbid Frenzy An Insatiable One, It’s All A Blur. Violence Begets Violence and The Cycle Starts. Man Becomes A Cog In The Infernal Perpetual Machine The Wheel Turns and the Madness Begins. 


There Is No Stopping, No Turning Back Once The Madness Starts. It Feeds On It’s Own Momentum. Vengeance Reaches A Crescendo When A Face Is Put On the Faceless Tormentor. Like A Volcano Long Dormant Stirred Back To Life. No Pain, No Fear All That Is Left Is The Will Kill. The Descent Is Complete. A Monster Is Born.


Friday, June 21, 2013

An Ode To The Lord of the Dance.. [The Hindu One]

I danced in the morning when the world was young
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Mathura I had my birth. 

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he 

I danced for Kansa and his followers 
They wouldn't dance, they wouldn't follow me
I danced for Radha and the Gopis
They came with me so the dance went on 

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he 

I danced on Kāliyā, and I cured the lame
My uncle said it was a big shame
 Travelled to Mathura with Balrama &
Left my Uncle there on the floor to die 

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he 

I danced on Friday when the wax house turned to ash
It's hard to dance with the Karma on your back
They plotted a scheme, they thought the Pandus were gone
But I am the dance, and so the dance goes on 

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he 

Shishupal put me down and I leapt up high
I am the life that will never, never die
I'll live in you if you'll live in me
I am the Lord of the dance, said he 

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hinduism and Terrorism

Societal Unity Conference, 27/11/10, West Midlands Fire Service HQ
Hinduism and Terrorism: By Ravi Ladva

The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, A terrorist would be the manifestation of this ism in a person. Whilst this definition is one which implies the physical nature of Terrorism, Terrorism is not restricted to the physical, Terrorism crosses all borders, to name but a few the intellectual, emotional even the spiritual.

Like water passing over the sticks and stones in a stream, The flow is not  detoured by the obstruction but the flowing stream leaves it’s mark by eroding and shaping the environment. Terrorism is comparable it has the same potential to penetrate deep into the hearts and minds of all society, leaving a impermeable impression upon it.

When the words Terrorism or Terrorist are mentioned I cannot help feel it is a misnomer, after all a closer inspection of the definition tells us that Terrorism is a method of violence rather than way of being or a foundation for an individual to become a terrorist. More now than ever in a time of global conflict and global challenges the reliance on individuals to save the day has passed and the time for people to work together to rise to the challenges has arrived.

Terrorism is but a mask for fundamentalism, whilst our rights of speech thought and expression are protected by law and respective religious traditions. I can now say that having lived during the War on Terror that no one is born a terrorist. People and society have the power to shape and change the future for the better like never before and those who wish to make this world a better world must be active and assertive.

As a guiding beacon of light echoed down the ages for Hindus the words of Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita. He spoke to Arjuna as he faced his own challenges and his inner demons. He spoke, The mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it, many of us here are on the journey for a more harmonious society, however questions of our individual determination, motivations and courage  will be asked before we have a chance to ask what are the challenges of societal unity. This is why i say terrorism is but a distraction whilst fundamentalism takes grip and spreads a state of confusion. 

Fundamentalism is a failure not of individuals but of us as a collective peoples, as I said earlier terrorists are not born but are made. Manipulated by dreams or delusions driven by false desire and hopes to destructive ends, this is all a process.  Mahatama Gandhi the embodiment of non violence and a tireless worker for social harmony said A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes. So let us ask not to point to each other for blame but to absolve ourselves in the certainty that love and compassion is the ultimate antidote for those who would see society broken and divided and educate those who are considered to be at most risk from coercion. 

As a Hindu I wish to say that no religion or society on this Earth should be held as the monopoly on terrorism or fundamentalism those who faithfully and respectfully adhere to the true message of all the worlds religions love, peace forgiveness and compassion to name but a few cannot be a terrorist or a fundamentalist. The first step on the road to a closer, harmonious and prosperous society is acceptance.  

 We must accept that we have all differences and issues with still need time to be resolved however We all reject the notions of fundamentalism and terrorism we all must now accept the best way forward is to work side by side. In Hinduism we have a saying from the collection of fables Hitopadesha Udāracharitānām tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam ‘the calculation that this is my own relative and that is a stranger’ is of the narrow-minded; for those with magnanimous-hearts, the entire earth is but one family. From the Hindus in Birmingham we look forward to working closer with the other communities to aide one and other as best we can.

As we move towards a closer and harmonious society the Hindu community would like to remind those who doubt the possibility of such a society that There is nothing lost or wasted in this life when on the road for peace not just as individuals but as the human race. So long as there are people willing to stand up for what is right, they will have the support and backing from Hindus. Surely Peace is worth fighting for. 
Thursday, May 16, 2013

How To Loose Friends and Alienate Hindus

Moral wounds have this peculiarity - they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart.”
― Alexandre DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo
 



House Lords Debate on the Caste Amendment

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gay Marriage and Hinduism


I’d had written quite a different blog, I had written a blog about the gripe from the religious cohort who consider Gay Marriage/Homosexuality to be an abomination and every adjective of the word. I went onto to say well looking at the texts they usually quote, it doesn’t really say gay or homosexual, it more than often says Sodomy. The word itself comes from the story of Sodom and Gamorrah [The Torrah and Chapters 18 & 19 of Genesis] However the word now is defined as sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation. It’s a very long story the evolution of the word ‘Sodomy’ something most Hindu Theologians will overlook and rubbish. 
However after a discussion with a group of people I call the ‘Village elders’ on the topic of Gay Marriage, Homosexuality and Society. I was quite amazed to see how the discussion was being high jacked, to the point where evidence contrary and not conducive to the argument that was not put forward. Therefore to do this I want to take the chance to reshape the argument and include the bits that were left out. 
To make things simple, I will frame the context in the Hindu camp. I’m a Hindu that’s Atheistic in thinking [Samkhya] I make no secret about this. However even I can’t deny that that there is a heavy, deep and broad spiritual imprint on Hinduism. Hindu Theology dictates that The Vedas are apauruṣeya "not of human agency." They are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti "what is heard", distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti "what is remembered."
Now simply there is a divergence like a tree and a branch, whilst part of a larger tree there is a distinction. There are two different sources of information, that which is gathered through methods like observation. The other being spiritual in nature meditation and spiritual experiences.
The question I pose is at which branch do we grasp when trying to solve problem? You can answer it in your own way but these are my thoughts: Information evolves and revelation doesn’t it’s the truth of it’s time, one superseding the other creates a vicious cycle.
This is the debate over sources of information and decision making processes that affect individuals and society and whilst for the most part the world is morally relativists, the Mahabharata is the best evidence I would put forward to resolve the criticisms of a morally relativist world. 
The first Is that if things are morally relativist then society would eventually descend into Anarchy [Link 1, 2] the second is that there are moral absolutes [Picture 1]. 
To address the first issue of Anarchy when governments can destabilise other government or democratically elected leaders that is not the kind of world anyone would agree with and for this I think the best example is the coup d'etat launched by the CIA to overthrow Salvador Allende’s government. Also doesn’t say much when the most powerful nations on the planet refused to intervene in the Rawandan genocide. Allowing Gay marriage isn’t going to add to any of the anarchy that exists already. 
I think picture, sums it up on the issue of moral absolutes and there are countless examples in the rest of the Mahabharat where Lord Krishna [God on earth] continuously and vigourously calls the Pandav’s on their reckless oath taking. The same way the stance on whether Gay’s should be allowed to marry, shouldn’t be dictated by moral absolutes with the context of medieval India or Europe. 


[Picture 1] 



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nobody Ever Asks The Social Scientists

Much of the ills that we suffer in the world are of our own making as a species in our infancy. The ill that seems to have woken the Indian people from their slumber is Rape. On December 16th a 23 year old woman was gang raped and brutally attacked. She died of her injuries after being flown to Singapore for specialist treatment.

Typical of the Indian establishment [Political, Media and Celebrity etc] a veil of ignorance, stupidity and misdirection was placed over the serious and heart breaking incident. The Indian public largely reacts the same way it always reacts in line with to The Kübler-Ross model, commonly referred to as the five stages of grief.

These stages are the stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The model was designed by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, her hypothesis was that when a person (and/or their survivors) is faced with the reality of their impending death, they will experience these stages. 

Kübler-Ross noted that these stages are not meant to be a complete list of all possible emotions that can be felt, nor that they occur in any order. However from my understanding of her 1969 book "On Death and Dying" is that these seem to be the most common. If anyone can glean anything from my blog is that whilst I do not hold any of the Indian establishments in high regard, I do maintain the utmost respect for Indian culture.

The point of this blog post is to point out the crushing burden of trying to get any compassion or justice in a country like India. According to official statistics, 572 rapes were reported in Delhi [2011]. Police statistics last year registered 635 rape cases. This is an increase of 11%. The horror of these statistics is that these are just the reported ones. In the words of Malika Sarabhai “In India there is a rape every three minutes. In India only 25% of rapes come to a police station and of these 25% convictions are only in the 4-6% range. That’s many women who do not get justice”.

If you're reading this have a look at the latest news on the tragedy. See which stage the Indian mass public is at.   
Sunday, November 25, 2012

Being Human and Hindu


I want to post a video with a short tale we find an interesting account of King Janasruti Pautrayana, renowned for his generous giving and philanthropic works, and Raikva, the cart-driver who was indifferent to wealth In the Chandogya Upanishad. (4.1-2) 

The king felt restless on overhearing a conversation between two geese who were flying over his palace. They commented on the king’s charity being motivated by his desire for name and fame, whereas Raikva, the cart-driver, was at peace with himself as he cared not for wealth or fame. 

The king went to Raikva loaded with gifts and asked him which deity he needed to worship in order to attain inner peace and happiness. But Raikva told the king that the gifts were of no use to him. The king again went to Raikva with lavish gifts and begged him to teach him the way to true happiness. 

Raikva imparted the sacred teaching: that all things in the universe are supported by the Spirit and all belong to the Spirit. The mere giving of gifts without this spiritual wisdom can bring no true peace.




Friday, October 5, 2012

God Tinted Lenses


People to often and too quickly point out the marvellous achievements of the Hindu Religion. Often these statements also come with an *[asterisk] or footnote which usually goes "Brought To You By God". Whilst Hinduism has made massive gains in Philosophy, Ethics and all matters Spiritual, people forget it was Hindus that created the 0 [the number] a by-product being every luxury we all enjoy today. The first treaties on Health [Ayurveda] which include an extensive understanding of medicinal herbs and surgical procedures, and of course, my favourite one of the earliest treaties on Economic, Politics and the Social Sciences [Arthashastra]. 

The issue I wish to bring to the floor is that even these wonderful texts come with tag of "Brought Too You By God" and it doesn't make any sense. The life of someone who is studying the Vedas today is drastically different to that of someone who wrote them down - be it from God or not. This creates another problem: suppose that everything we read from the times of Hindu knowledge, whilst being broad, has all been painted in the same colour?

This is what Hindu theologians would have people believing; that the source of all the knowledge that Hindus have accumulated is divine.  This is also a possible explanation to the massive disconnect between the "sadhus" and "academics" - both are wrong and both are right in their own funny way. It's akin to two groups of people looking at the same tree with the same glasses, from different angles, then arguing over who has the better glasses and is in a position to see the tree best. 

If a person's sole aim in life is to find the meaning to the universe and such, what use are medicinal herbs, or the use of the 0, or even the application of macro economics? It doesn’t make sense; Tulsidas the chap who wrote the Hanuman Chalisa, I would struggle to find what use it would be to him searching for Pi or recording constellations from the night sky. 

Yet perception that is presented is that some of these Hindu thinkers, intellectuals and "sadhus", are the same. It’s simply not true. Not everyone can be inside a Mandir, some people have to stand outside and stand guard. The driving force and development for any culture must come from multiple sources. A carpenter working on a new idea, or a tailor working on a new type of material are and should also be considered intellectuals. Their contribution to the Hindu cause over the centuries may be small but it all counts. They didn't do it for God, or because of God, they did it for their fellow Hindus.
I don't write these blogs because or for God, I write them for my fellow Hindus; in the hope that they remember that the first and possibly the most important part of being a good Hindu, is being a good human being.