Category Archives: Religion

TEACHING THE SCIENCE OF THE SOUL

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Building on Swami Vivekananda’s legacy, Paramahansa Yogananda was instrumental in popularising yoga in the West. So relevant are his teachings today that yoga studios are now as common as coffee shops in America

My piece in “The Pioneer” dated January 6, 2015 : Teaching the science of the soul. 

To read the full article, please visit :http://archive.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/teaching-the-science-of-the-soul.html

 

 

Mother Teresa Exposed!

Indians have a great sense of reverence for Mother Teresa. The popular impression is that Teresa was a foreigner lady who came to our country and devoted her life to the service of mankind. She did, no doubt, serve the sick and poor people by providing a healing touch, love and care. However, there was much more than that. She had an incentive in her heart to serve such people: a motive to bring these people closer to God. But the problem is that she wanted them to be closer to her chosen God (Jesus) by weaning them from their current faith.

I strongly believe that we (Indians) need to expose the mis-deeds of Mother Teresa -who in the name of serving the poor and destitute- exploited the situation to CONVERT their faith. This is a highly despicable act.
Please spare time to read this article. I start with an incidence: Mother Teresa  shamelessly tried to save one American guy -Mr Keating -who donated millions of dollars to her charity working in India. Mr Keating had looted public money and was being convicted for the crime in USA. The communication between Teresa and the American court will give you an insight about the morality of this lady whose deeper design was to convert Hindus and others to Christianity.
I got interested in this incidence as a mention came in the book “Hindus Under Seige: The Way Out” by Subramaniyam Swamy. Then I did some Google search on this and came across these 2 articles which help us connect the pieces.
1. What Mother Teresa wrote to the USA court and the reply she got: http://howgoodisthat.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/charles-keating-gave-other-peoples-money-to-mother-teresa/
2. Well, you will naturally ask who is this swindler who donated millions of dollars to Teresa:! So, here we go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Keating
It should be remembered that the harshest criticism of  Mother Teresa has come NOT from India, but from outside. This also reflects the vacuum of Indian academia to analyse something that is against the wind! Christopher Hitchens exposed her well. Has Indian media done it ever? Just google it and see yourself.
http://articles.nydailynews.com/2000-08-27/gossip/18143751_1_mother-teresa-keating-calcutta

http://www.quora.com/Was-Mother-Teresa-corrupt
Mother Teresa was a catholic nun and was a  proselytizer. That is plain and simple. She served you with compassion, but dug at your faith also! So, figure out what is the bigger solace for you!
Remember what Swami Vivekanad said hundreds of years ago: “Every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy one more.”

Jewish killing by Muslim: Indian or Paki connexion is weird

Islam is an implanted religion in Indian sub-continent. Sometimes when you are foreign to a concept, weird things happen. In Indian context, trying to fill someone’s ( read Muslim) brain with hate against Jewish people and carrying on that prejudice would be a weird thing because Jewish people are a rarity in Indian sub-continent. That is why I was particularly pained that Muslim terrorists from Pakistan who came via boats to Mumbai and created a havoc on Nov. 30 , 2008 chose to kill 6 Jewish individuals also.
When I was doing my fellowship training for Neonatology in USA, one of my junior colleague- who hails from Pakistan and is obviously a Muslim- narrated his experience growing up there. He said that his grand-father was a Sikh and they migrated from Punjab (India). He had never came across Hindus while growing up in Pakistan and saw Hindus for the first time when he came to USA for his medical residency training ( Do not they look similar!). Similarly, he said he had never seen Jewish people in Pakistan ( and they hardly exist there, and for that matter in India also they are a vanishing religion, but India is the only country in the world where Jewish were never persecuted: this is another fact!). But now he wonders why so much hatred was taught to people growing up there against Jewish people.

Well, the clash between Islam and Judaism has historic roots. but it has no practical sense for Muslims in Indian sub-continent. That is why I say that people tend to develop a distorted perception – sometime touching the edges of fanaticism- when that concept is alien to them.

American Presidency and Religion

When decades ago, father of Mitt Romney – who was a mormon- contested elections for Governor in one of the US State, his faith or religion was not under scanner. Now Mitt Romney- a Republican presidential candidate for 2008- faces a tougher turf. His faith is definitely being scrutinized with a wider media and public coverage.

In 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy asked the nation to disregard his religion. In 2000, George W. Bush informed the nation that Jesus was his favorite philosopher.

In his new book, God in the White House, Randall Balmer explores the interplay between religion and politics in America, tracking the “religionization” of the Oval Office across the last half of the 20th century. Balmer is a professor of American religious history at Barnard College. Also the author of the Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism and editor-at-large of Christianity Today, Randall Balmer was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2006.

Sikhs, Turban and France

For Sikhs, turban is an emotive issue and generally in religious matters, one tends to be non-judgmental, particularly if one belongs to a different religion than the one in question.
I had often heard that Sikhs are distressed that France has banned use of turban in the schools. Today I happened to read a very different point of view. Mr Balvinder, a former Principal of Govt College, Chandigarh has written this letter to the editor and is published in The Tribune (January 26, 2008). A fresh air!

The letter is reproduced here:

“I read Roopinder Singh’s article, “Turban: A matter of pride and honour” (Jan 23). If the turban was that important, why did Guru Gobind Singh, while laying down five musts, known as five ‘K’s (kesh, kangha, kara, kachha and kirpan) for Sikhs, not add turban to it?

Those days everybody in this region, irrespective of his religion, used to wear a turban. With the passage of time, most people in this region stopped wearing turbans except the Sikhs who continued to carry the Guru’s dress style. Strangely, a majority of the Sikh masses followed the Guru’s dress code partially by sticking only to the turban. For, they have fondly accepted the western dress style.

If one goes by the compulsive clause of wearing turbans by Sikhs, no Sikh ever can be an astronaut. The French ban on the display of religious symbols (aimed not solely at Sikhs) is exactly like the ban in Indian armed forces. Here too, fighter Sikh pilots are not allowed to wear turbans while flying aircraft; they wear helmets.

If we take a biased approach to such non-issues (non-issue because the number of students restricted from wearing turbans in France is less than a dozen) we can never think of a better peace-loving and progressive society.”

Exporting our Islam!

Recently I came across an article ” Why we must export our Islam” by Nitin Pai. It made an interesting reading.

He writes: “In a secular state such as India, there is little role for the state in matters of faith and religion. But the rise of a radical, intolerant version of Islam around the world is also not in its interests. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran have no self-imposed restrictions on promoting their own Islamic values. It is unlikely that India can counter these exertions of soft power by promoting the virtues of secularism to the Islamic world. But it could promote its own syncretic Islamic tradition to offer an alternative narrative to the world’s Muslims.”

Pai adds further: “So, is “Indian Islam” any different? Isn’t the violence of the Partition evidence to the contrary? For that matter, doesn’t the culpability of two upper middle-class Indian Muslims in a British terror plot prove that Indian Islam is not immune from radicalization? Not quite. More Muslims chose to stay on in India notwithstanding the communal bloodbath of Partition. As for the London-Glasgow plotters—the fact that Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed had to harangue their friends and even the local mosque official in Bangalore suggests they were exceptions.”

I have a few comments to offer. Wherever there is a terrorism-related activity or a religion-based conflict in the world , Islam is a party to that. Secondly, why do not we see moderate Islamic voices coming out openly and condemning what ever is being done by a very small fraction of Islamic terrorists. Thirdly, why there is such a drought of democracy in Islamic countries? Not only that, in an increasingly globalization, Islamic countries (mainly Middle East: the fountain of Islam) are still not acting in a reciprocal manner (you can work in Saudi Arabia,for example, but can not have a place of worship if you are not a Moslem, you can not become a citizen there. Who will like to live there in a suffocated environment, is another question though!). Just now the news has filtered in that Mohd Haneef- an Indian physician- who was deported from Australia about 5 months back on the charges of terrorism 9but was cleared later on) has been cleared by an Australian court to return to Australia. Herein lies the contrast: Whereas modern democracies insist for fairness of trail and human rights, Islamic countries continue to be governed and regulated by laws and policies which do not treat all humans in a equal way! The case of a British teacher ( having allowed teddy bear to be named Mohammed) serving the prison in Sudan is fresh in the memory of people world over. The Sudanese Prime Minister refused to intervene!

I am not sure if Indian Islam (Pai feels that ours is a more moderate version) will have a healing effect on the Islam outside, but if we go by the Islamic version shaping up in nearby Pakistan, I have my doubts. Pakistani moslems have the same blood as their Indian counterparts, but why Islamic regimen there seems to be so mediveal! Or the difference in political paths that the two countries have adopted has resulted in different manifestation of the same philosophy? Thus I suspect the softer voice of “Indian Islam” may be lost in the cacophony of more intolerant Islam outside. In my views, Indian Islam seems to be more tolerant because we decided not to mix civilian rights with the cocktail of religious wine (read secularism) whereas Pakistan wants to see everything through the prism of religion (theocracy). Give some more autonomy to “Indian Islam” and you will see flurries of fatwas. Let me remind readers here that I am not satisfied with the kind of secularism we have in India. In a secular state, the personal laws are a blot. In a civilized society, if polygamy is unlawful for one citizen (read Hindu here), it can not be lawful for another citizen (read Muslim).

It is so agonizing to see the sectarian violence within Islam (Shias and Sunnis) and to see the bizarre rules (human rights, civil rights, women rights) which govern the society in Islamic countries in modern times. If as an outsider I could understand something, it is that it needs to be modernized or reformed. And who can take the lead: Islamic religious leaders and moderate voices. No religion is perfect though. When I am writing this piece, I just read the email by my friend, Surender Pal Singh, who added his comments on ongoing debate on Hinduism:

Hindutva (pro and against) is a big debate, Whatever is humanistic in Hindutva is good and whatever is inhuman, needs be discarded and reformed. I am of firm opinion that instead of adopting self-reformist stance the so called Hindutva streams in India are busy in thrashing minorities. They are raising the boggy of (religious ) ‘conversion’ but are never bothered to go deeply to understand the root cause of conversion. Why minorities are not raising such issue? Cause is simple – deep rooted stratification of Hindu society, As long as this is there, inhuman stance would keep on prevailing and person like me ‘ll never be in the position to claim that I am proud to be a Hindu.”

I agree with SP and would like to add that Hindu religious leaders should increasingly become aware of the pitfalls of caste system which continues to divide the Hindu and the Indian society at large! The politics of religious conversion is not that simple though! The psyche and nefarious designs of ‘converters’ must also be taken into account.

Injustice the Saudi way!!

The link takes us to a news item on BBC about a woman in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to 6 months of jail and 200 laces. It is noteworthy that when she appealed, her punishment was doubled by the judges! Her lawyer has also been suspended from the case and faces a disciplinary action, the new further says!
The news provoked a world-wide protest and if I heard the news right, the Saudi King last week condoned the sentence.

So much of the disparity in rights for the men and women!

Conversion Business Booming!

Why India?

“As Christians, we feel compelled to act…

Until the last generation, India was a forgotten nation on the far side of the world. Today it has leaped into the foreground as one of the most important players in world events.

  • India will soon surpass China as the world’s most populous nation. One of every six people on earth lives in India.
  • A nuclear standoff makes the border between India and Pakistan one of the most dangerous places in today’s world.
  • Poverty in India’s slums and rural villages is among the worst in the world. As Christians, we cannot ignore these needs.
  • India contains one fourth (412 million) of the 1.6 billion people on earth who never heard the Gospel. “

Astounded! These are not my words, nor did I draft them! These are the ‘sermons’ from a US based Christian Missionary that is actively pursuing to ‘take care’ of India! Read this link and see what are the current forces that are trying to change the contours of Bharat that we call India! The tsunamis of Christianities and Islam have already gripped us, but we have not been able to diagnose the malaise! Robert Frost said: “Freedom lies in being bold”. The ‘converters’ are feeling too bold, but ‘convertees’ need to hear this sage voice!