Who’s the creator of the earth? Brahma or Indra?

creator

Vedas are the earliest scriptures of Hinduism. They are the holiest and the most revered scriptures to the Hindus. Hindus today agree on the trinity of Creator Brahma, Sustainer Vishnu and Destroyer Shiva. But Rigveda (the earliest Veda) has to say something else. In its 8th book, it has a hymn attributed to Śyāvāśva Ātreya. In this (36th) hymn, Indra or Śatakratu is said to have created the earth and the heaven. Here’s the excerpt of the 4th couplet:

जनिता दिवो जनिता पृथिव्याः पिबा सोमं मदाय कं शतक्रतो (janitā divo janitā pṛthivyāḥ pibā somaṃ madāya kaṃ śatakrato) Translation: O Śatakratu! the creator of heaven, creator of earth, drink Soma for excitement/intoxication.

So, the foremost scripture of the Hindus says that Śatakratu alias Indra is the creator of both the earth & heaven. This information is being given for the sake of showing how man creates, uses & discards gods as per his own needs. Earlier it was Indra & now it is Brahma maybe there is going to be another one in the future.

© Satyan Sharma 2015

Women empowerment or Female chauvinism

   men-and-women-bathroom-signs-7-minimalist-design-bathroom-design

Gender equality has now become a cliche issue. Whenever somewhere this issue is debated over or discussed, it is usually pro-women issues which are spoken about in the name of gender equality. Cultural oppression of women isn’t a new thing as far as India is concerned. It is practically only about 50 years or so since women have started to have a say in the society. Laws and commissions have backed women to come at par with men. The movement which started in the sixties and gained a say near the seventies, known as Feminism, was, as popularly believed, started for the cause of gender equality. But now it has taken the shape of its name.

Recently, a documentary titled ‘India’s Daughter’ was made by BBC on the issue of the 2012 Delhi-gang rape case. It created a furore for two things; one that one of the rapists was interviewed in it, and second that the Government of India has banned its telecast in India. But natural, the issue of ‘male mentality’ was raised as the rapist and his lawyers were seen talking in misogynistic terms. The cultural oppression of women in India basically sprouts from the fact that they are thought of being second class humans, males being the first class ones. So the main accused are the men for devising and supporting such a culture. When we say ‘men are culprit’, it is understood as ‘all men are culprit’. But there is a technical problem with the argument. When it comes to culture, it feeds on generations of yes-nods. Suppose there’s a mother patting her child for being harsh and rude, and teaching her daughter that she is a second class human, can the whole blame fall on men?

It has become a fad to talk in pro-women terms. Well, when we talk of gender-bias, being pro-women is also a bias. It’s just a game of words when pro-men is termed male chauvinism and pro-women is termed progressivism. You go on a stage and say, “women are ahead of men” and you’ll be applauded for that. Now go and say, “men are ahead of women” and you’ll be booed away. Why? Flock mentality. People just want to believe what their flock believes, questioning is defunct. This shows the twin face of our society. A popular phrase ‘ladki pe hath uthata hai namard’ (you impotent! you raise hand to hit a woman) teaches that a female shouldn’t be hit by a man or the man will be termed impotent. What if a woman hits a man? So many social experiments have shown that when a woman hits a man in public, she gets an amazing support of the crowd. If violence is bad, it’s bad for everyone, irrespective of the gender. Also we hear & read women & men saying sentences like ‘women are more powerful than men’, etc. Isn’t this gender bias?

Let us talk of the current image stereotypes. The stereotypes for a man are ‘misbehaved’, ‘violent’, ‘sinner’, ‘emotionally frozen’, etc. The stereotypes for a woman are ‘soft’, ‘pious’, ‘well-behaved’, ‘emotional’, etc. A woman isn’t even imagined as a wrong-doer in the current stereotype, and the man, he’s just enough close to being a demon. It seems people’s popular perception is waiting for ‘matriarchy’ as a solution to ‘patriarchy’. In India, domestic violence isn’t seen as if happening from a wife on her husband. Why? Men are strong (all men) and women are weak (all women), and the laws follow. According to a report by the national crime bureau in 2013, married men who committed suicide (64,098) were double the number than married women (29,491). The main reason for the suicides by married men is the Domestic Violence Act 2005 and section 498(A) of IPC (anti-dowry act which is misused quite a lot).

As regards to rapes, after the 2012 Delhi gang rape incident, the anti-rape law was made stricter. As a result, the acquittal rate in Delhi trial courts went up from 46% (2012) to 75% (2013). The reason for such a hike was the rise in fake rape cases. The worst part is that the mass media doesn’t highlight the cases in which the accused was acquitted. In 2013, Niranjan Kumar Mandal was acquitted of a rape case before which he had spent 4 years of jail. He moved a plea to the Supreme Court of India for the restoration of his lost dignity and honour. The reason was that media didn’t show his case and as masses believe in what the media shows, the residents of his locality still believed that he was a rapist and maintained distance from him and his family.

I’d like to ask you, what do you mean by the ‘gender-equality’? I know the question is quite stupid as the words are very clear, but it is also quite clear that the popular perceptions which drive the culture think of it as ‘women empowerment’. And talking about the uplift of women, even women aren’t sorted on the issue. I have seen, heard and read stories of women not exercising their rights (even in favourable situations), women chiding other women under the influence of the misogynist culture, and women misusing laws to avenge or gaining profits against men. So I transformed myself from being pro-women to being pro-liberty. Stereotypes are a hindrance in the road to truth. When you connect a gender with crime, you run the risk of going against the gender and not the crime. There’s a book titled ‘woman-to-woman sexual violence -does she call it rape’ authored by Lori B. Girshick. Doesn’t the title sound awkward? How about women raping men and men just not talking about it due to the same cultural pressures which gave men power over women where a man would end up being called a coward and impotent?

I think it is very necessary that we should separate the gender from crime. The criminal mentality is the issue to be discussed. The fad of ‘all men are sinners and all women are virtuous’ needs to be done away with so that we can seriously head toward getting a solution. The making of a man or a woman begins with the making of a child which involves both the father and the mother. Good or bad, it is the upbringing which plays the role. Here another stereotype comes into play, that is ‘children make mischief, parents are all pious and good’. So whenever you see a son misbehaving with his parents, you might think of how bad the son is and wouldn’t think about the cause and effect relation between upbringing and character. I am not denying the fact that there is crime against women, but we shouldn’t forget the crimes which are committed against men as well. I hope that we zero-in on the real cause and work together toward having a real solution against crime.

© Satyan Sharma 2015

Why I am not a non-vegetarian

I was born in a Hindu Brahmin family, so non-vegetarian food was a taboo since then. Maximum for me was consuming eggs and milk (and its products). Otherwise my food was filled with all vegetarian stuff. It was to my surprise to find my cousins eat meat, which sometimes made me jealous of them, but I reconciled with my state of affairs. Then I grew up and became a very religious boy. And so my argument against eating non-veg food was ‘god’. My religiosity didn’t survive for long and by the time I was 20 or 21 years of age, I concluded that I had no faith in any religion. Gradually I lost faith even in ‘god’.

It was a great relief for me because now I was free from the supernatural stick which I feared would hit me hard if I committed some sin (non-veg food in this case). I introduced meat in my food. I started with KFC. Eating chicken was once in a month affair and it continued for 3-4 months or so. Then I started to figure out that the food I eat, breathes and walks before being slaughtered. I had heard vegetarians and non-vegetarians argue about ‘sentience’ of beings, plants and animals. Non-vegetarians defend themselves by calling plants ‘fully sentient’ and ask vegetarians to give up plant food. I was really confused as I needed to have solid argument against/for my position.

I surfed the internet about plant-sentience. I saw some videos of experiments. One video showed how mimosa pudica plant dozed off after ether was sprinkled on it. But I felt that it could be just a mechanical/chemical response and not just ‘consciousness’ or ‘self-awareness’. I then wrote a blog post ‘how conscious can plants be’ (in which I have explained and built up my arguments against the notion of plants being as conscious as animals). I thought that the stimulus-response system of a being is critical if viewed from the evolutionary point of view. Suppose you can feel pain but can’t respond to it, you’re being sliced and you can’t just help it. This doesn’t fit in the ‘survival of the fittest’ frame.

On the other hand, suppose a fully conscious animal being cut and reacting in jumps and screams. We need not be a PhD scholar in order to determine the difference between the consciousness of a plant and an animal. Just imagine you yourself being cut to be cooked and eaten. That’d be approximately the same terror, pain, trauma that the animals experience. Being a rationalist, I value freedom and liberty the most. In that sense, I can’t interfere with another person’s freedom and liberty without a valid reason. The reason that comes in favour of non-veg food is that you’ll go deficient in certain nutrients if you only eat veg food. Well, to some extent it could be true. But for the rest of the range of non-veg food items, I disagree. I have been a vegetarian the most of my spent life (even eating eggs wasn’t a regular event). I haven’t felt any weaker than the my non-veg eating counterparts. In fact I remember a few times when I outweighed them in physical strength. The basic point is to adequately cook and properly digest the food.

So when it comes to eating stuff, I prefer a less conscious being over a fully conscious being because I can’t happily imagine of a being screaming and begging for his life before entering my mouth. Yes, if it’s a case of acute shortage of vegetarian food items, one can opt for eating meat for it would be better justified then. Historically, some societies preferred non-vegetarian food items as they couldn’t stay at one place for longer periods, practise agriculture and wait for long periods of time to eat stuff. Also in places where extensive agriculture is technically not possible, eating non-vegetarian food items is justified. Yes, I care to check if my acts are justifiable or not. And when it comes to the protection of my own freedom and liberty, I care not to hurt those of anyone else without a valid reason.

Well I am still open to arguments in opposition of my position.

© Satyan Sharma 2015

How Conscious Can Plants Be

When we talk about ‘living beings’ we also include the plants. Now the argument given by vegetarians against a non-vegetarian diet is ‘not to kill living beings for food’. By that argument we mustn’t kill plants also. But then from where would we get any food? I’ve been pondering upon this idea for long and had quite good debates with my own self.

I read a few articles and saw a few videos on plant consciousness. The fact is that we still don’t have a firm evidence that the plants are as conscious as animals. The pro-plant-consciousness arguments are based on estimates and inferences. Even if we take the plants to be conscious, another question arises as to whether their consciousness is at par with that of the animals.

Here I took my imagination as a tool. I imagined how would it feel to be enough conscious to feel the pain but not enough equipped to react to it in defence. It would be worse than even the process of dying. A plant would prefer to die than to live such a helpless life. Now if the plant isn’t dying voluntarily, does it mean that it has no control over its body? If the answer is yes, this would go against the pro-plant-consciousness arguments.

If it is conscious, then it has control over its body. If it doesn’t commit suicide, it means it doesn’t want to or it doesn’t feel that much pain as to prefer death over life. Not to take just one plant into consideration, let us imagine of all the generations of plants to this day and imagine them feeling helpless. It can’t be that they are all into that ‘COMA’ like condition. If they are, we can’t say that they’re conscious to the level a normal animal is.

In this experiment my tool is imagination through which I got an inference. I call it an inference because I have the evidence that plants are alive and I, to my current capability, reasoned it out. I still am working on this. I will be glad to hear counter-arguments to this inference.

© Satyan Sharma 2014

Shiva and His Problem

Most Hindu myths are based on the Puranas. So I took one Purana and got something worth mentioning. This is about Shiva, the Shiva who is accredited for creating the Yoga system (meant for peace). Shiva’s anger is well known among the Hindus. But here I found something else, that is ‘love’, ‘passion’ or ‘libido’ (the meaning will be ascertained in the end of this article) and that too an uncontrolled one.

I picked up the Vamana Purana. In its 6th chapter, Shiva after losing his consort Sati, is said to have lost control over his libido. In the 36th shloka he talks to Sati in his dream telling her that due to the separation he’s being burnt by the fire of ‘lust’ or ‘Kamadeva’ (madana agni; Kamadeva or Madana is the name for the love god). Here’s the shloka;

निर्घृणे तिष्ठ किं मूढे त्यजसे मामनिन्दिते |

मुग्धे त्वया विरहितो दग्धोऽस्मि मदनाग्निना ||

In the 48th shloka he again talks of the same and clearly says that he hasn’t been able to attain ‘sexual pleasure’ or ‘love’ or ‘affection’ (rati in sanskrit). He also says that he’s injured by the weapons of ‘madness’ and ‘expansion’ (of ‘kama’). Here’s the shloka:

नाशं गतायां वरदाम्बिकायां कामाग्निना प्लुष्टसुविग्रहोऽस्मि |

विजृम्भणोन्मादशरैर्विभिन्नो धृतिं च विन्दामि रतिं सुखं वा ||

In the 49th shloka  Shiva urges a guy named Panchalika to take the weapons of ‘Kamadeva’. This means that he had to take help of someone else to get out of the situation. Here’s the shloka:

विजृम्भणं पुत्र तथैव तापं उन्मादमुग्रं मदनप्रणुन्नम् |

नान्यःपुमान्धारयितुं हि शक्तोमुक्त्वाभवन्तं हिततःप्रतीच्छ ||

Now what does imply by the transfer of Kamadeva’s weapons is another question, but the main part is that Shiva isn’t self-sufficient.

From shloka 55-66 the story of Shiva’s phallus (linga) begins. Shiva is yet not relieved from the Kamadeva’s weapons and he moves into a forest mentioned as ‘Daruvana’. And there he asks for alms from the Rishis. The Rishis remain silent on this (why?). Shiva then starts to stroll around and the Rishis’ wives start following him (due to their being attacked by Kama too). Rishis then curse to make Shiva’s phallus fall down.

vaman026 (1)

vaman027 (1)

Now this reference makes it quite clear what the ‘rati’ and ‘kama’ actually would mean (‘cause they means ‘love’ and ‘affection’ as well as ‘sexual desire’ ).

So the question arises that should Shiva be worshipped? Is he so worthy? If Vamana Purana’s claims are true, then my answer will definitely be a big ‘no’. I am sharing this information with all of you so that you can make opinions based on the actual data on which the religion is based. Any logical contradiction is welcomed.

© Satyan Sharma 2014

(Image courtesy: vedpuran.com)

10 Vedic Gods even Hindus wont recognise

Hinduism_MurtiPuja

Here’s a list of Vedic gods from the Rigveda (with references).

1. tanūnapāt (book 1, hymn 13) [तनूनपात्]

2. ulūkhalaḥ (book 1, hymn 28) [उलूखलः]

3. romaśā (book 1, hymn 126) [रोमशा]

4. idhmaḥ (book 1, hymn 13) [इध्मः]

5. sinīvālī (book 3, hymn 32) [सिनीवाली]

6. drughaṇaḥ (book 10, hymn 102) [द्रुघणः]

7. vibhinduḥ (book 8, hymn 2) [विभिन्दुः]

8. asamātiḥ (book 10, hymn 60) [असमातिः]

9. iṣudhiḥ (book 6, hymn 75) [इषुधिः]

10. asunītiḥ (book 10, hymn 59) [असुनीतिः]

Did you remember any of the above mentioned gods being spoken about whenever you were in a Hindu temple or whenever you met your Hindu friends and discussed their mythology?

The most probable answer is a NO. Why? Because these gods are out of order or defunct. These gods are out of fashion. Why? Because man kept on improving on his imagination of a god. What does it mean then? It means that man created these gods, and kept on changing them as and when he felt the need to do so. The above mentioned gods were being worshipped here in India thousands of years ago, and now almost no one has even heard about them. Fashions change, so do gods.

Note: There are many more. Search online for copies of the Vedas and add as many as you would like to.

© Satyan Sharma 2015

image courtesy:londonmandir.baps.org

Behind Mother Teresa’s Charity

come be my light image courtesy: amazon.com

Recently I got the book titled ‘Mother Teresa: Come be my light, The private writings of the Saint of Calcutta’. This book contains several letters which she sent and received. There was a furore at the comment of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in which he said that the main motive behind Teresa’s charity was religious conversion. Masses seemed to support Teresa blindly partly too because Bhagwat is popularly termed as a fundamentalist Hindu. All they had to say was that she was too pure for such a motive. This book presented her own words regarding her motive. Her words are stated on page 43 which read:

The Particular End is to carry Christ into the homes and streets of the slums, among the sick, dying, the beggars and the little street children. The sick will be nursed as far as possible in their poor homes. The little children will have a school in the slums. The beggars will be sought and visited in their holes outside the town or on the streets.

Carrying Christ into homes and streets of slums doesn’t seem so light when viewed from the angle of a Christian nun. It directly points to telling people about Christ and motivating them to embrace the religion. Further on page 98, in her letter to Father Van Exem, she has told what Jesus told her. The words of Jesus are:

My little one-come-come-carry me into the holes of the poor.- Come be My light-I cannot go alone- they don’t know Me-so they don’t want Me. You come-go amongst them(poor), carry Me with you into them.-…In your immolation-in your love for Me-they will see Me, know Me, want Me

It is clear by the words of Jesus that ‘carrying Christ into homes and streets of slums’ was aimed at Jesus being made known to the poor which would end in them wanting Jesus, hence them embracing Christianity.

Many people will say, so what if she preached Christianity, she helped the poor, the diseased. Here I’d like your attention to fall on the words of Teresa mentioned on page 92. She said to Father Van Exem, “The poor are bitter and suffering because they have not got the happiness that poverty should bring if borne for Christ.” So the problem isn’t poverty, the problem is the absence of Christ with the poor.

On page 116, she tells Cardinal Perfect of the Sacred Congregation of Religious Rome, “There are millions who live in Indian cities and villages in ignorance of God and of Christ, in abominable sinfulness. We shall bring them to Christ and Christ to them.” I don’t think now that there should be any doubt regarding the meaning of ‘carrying Christ’.

One incident calls for your attention which she mentions in her letter to Archbishop Knox on page 254. She says, “The old man asked for a cigarette and how beautiful of God- in my bag there were two packets of [the] best cigarettes. A rich man gave them to me that morning in the street. God thought of this old man’s longing.” So she thought that it was holy and healthy to give cigarettes to the man. We all know how bad smoking is for the lungs and hence for the whole body. I don’t think anyone would appreciate Teresa for this incident also because she didn’t even care about what she was receiving as donations, at least in this case.

On page 309 she tells Father van der Peet, “The work for “Aids” [AIDS] keeps growing fruitfully. No one has died without Jesus. There is so much suffering among our Poor all round the world.- We are now in 77 countries over 350 houses. Can you imagine- poor people entering Heaven from all sides-… in New York- already over 50 have died a beautiful death… Jesus must be very happy to have those thousands coming to Him, with love from Calcutta.” So the major contribution of Teresa seems that she sent many a poor to heaven, and Jesus would love it (Jesus’ thirst for souls is mentioned numerous times in the book).

Reading the book you’d come across letters in which Teresa repeatedly mentions her losing faith in God. On page 257, her words in her letter read: “I love them [Sisters & Poor] as I love Jesus- & now as I do not love Jesus- I do not love them either. I know this is only feelings- for my will is steadfast bound to Jesus & so to the Sisters & the Poor.” On page 250, she tells Father Neuner, “If there is hell- this must be one. How terrible it is to be without God- no prayer- no faith- no love.

On page 282, to an M.C. Sister, she says, “Suffering, pain- failure – is but a kiss of Jesus.” What would be the implication of this line? It would mean that all the suffering and pain and failure is bringing you closer to Jesus and hence do not improve upon your position or you will lose Jesus.

There’s a need to look beyond popular images. If you have to appreciate or blame a person, do it with facts in hand. Stereotypes serve no real purpose when it comes to finding truth.

The book is a must read for both the followers of Mother Teresa and the sceptics.

© Satyan Sharma 2015