Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What is reality?

Two branches of sciences that will eventually merge with philosophy are Quantum Mechanics and Neurology. Quantum mechanics is really spooky with uncertainty of probability based time space position while Neurology hurtles to throwing up questions like why we need God! Both these sciences in the end reach a stalemate with philosophy; what is reality?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar

There was a time I was a rabid fan then an admirer and later of and on critic. Near 70-80th   century he became totally self absorbed scoring last 20 runs to century in pain staking singles to the detriment of team interest, this however can be forgiven after all he is human. Lets us not get overboard then. He is an awesome cricketer but just a human like you and me. The cricket part is gift just as Lata got her voice, V Anand his ability to think chess. Are we to celebrate a gift? If so we may as well declare a lottery winner a hero. He says he worked hard, Lata too says she worked hard in fact she did work hard to get her Urdu diction right (btw it is flawless) M F Hussain too worked hard but there are hundreds of cricketers who have worked harder but they lacked the gift so remained on the periphery.

There was a tennis player Ivan Lendl, a fellow with enormous focus and purpose in life. He was not gifted like John McEnroe or other legends of tennis but his dedication and focus to reach to top of tennis is stuff to be admired. A man without the gift carved a place for himself at the top. He is my hero.

S R Tendulkar can be my hero if he takes a call on controversial political issues. He has an aura and status to influence people and government, let him use that position to influence thinking of society rather than keeping a convenient neutral stance. A fellow who takes the path of least resistance can't my hero.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Badola was an agricultural implements salesman. One evening he was hurrying home after a busy a day, reached a crossroad. It was drizzling incessantly therefore the road was murky and milieu bleak. In the middle of the crossing was a large banyan tree around which a round platform. There was no one save an old man sitting on the round platform. He approached the old man and asked,
‘Which road leads to the station?’
The old man looked at him intently then said,
‘It’s a long time now but I remember a guy, a professional chess player wanting to go to station, taking this road on your left but came back haggard and disgusted he then took the one direct in front of you, didn’t come back.’
‘So the road in front of me goes to station?’
‘So it seems but another guy, a Kathak dancer also wanting to go to station took that road but came back haggard and disgusted. He then took the road to your right, didn’t come back?’
‘Beats me!’
‘That’s not the end of it, on one another occasion I met a football player wanting to go to station took the road on your right came back haggard and disgusted. He then took the road to your left didn’t come back!’
‘I don’t get it. You are saying that chess player was lost in the road to left, the Kathak dancer was lost in the road straight ahead and footballer lost in the road on my right.’
‘Quite so I am afraid.’
‘So which road I should take?’
‘I don’t know; you will have to figure that out yourself.’
Badola tried hard but couldn’t figure out so the old man said,
‘I heard that there is fiery canal a short distance on the way on your left. A rope bridge in very bad shape hangs over. The water on canal speeds under it foaming and roaring. You have to cross it to make any progress on the way. The road straight ahead of you also has a hurdle. Just a short distance from it passes through an elaborately constructed maze. It’s a dicey thing to enter the chance of getting lost is high. The road on your right similarly has a problem.  As soon as move up hundred yards you come up against sloping down tunnel. Its sidewalls very rough and abrasive and the road is covered with thick layer of oil. You need to pass through this tunnel to make any progress down the road. ‘

Badoala thought for a long time then said, ‘I am not ready yet’ and went back by the same road he came.    

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What is Hinduism? A Counter View

Hinduism is an Attitude

Is Hinduism a way of life

Emphatic no, Hinduism is not a way of life. On the contrary it gives complete freedom to live life according to an individual’s choice.  In fact it is a chaotic assembly of individuals who are not bound to any core doctrine. Even though there are scriptures specifying ways to conduct life but nobody is bound by these scriptures and hardly anyone follows them. Hinduism is in fact an attitude; an attitude that allows coexistence of myriad ideas often in contradiction to each other.

Hinduism is not a religion

On the contrary it is more than a religion, it is a collection of religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Dvait, Advait  and many more each having a complete philosophy of religion.

Hindus worship many Gods

It is true that Hindus worships many Gods but they know that the various Gods they worship are only subordinate Gods something like Angels who have power to bestow boons to make life better. These Gods cannot deliver ultimate salvation in any stream of the various religions. Each of the streams either believes in a supreme entity or such an entity is totally irrelevant in their scheme of things. The subordinate nature of Gods is clearly explained in the ‘Viraat Swaroop’ of Krishna in Bhagvat Gita. Everyone including Brahma and Gods are seen within the open mouth of Krishna, they are all within Krishna not outside of Him. Shiva seems to be the sole exception.    

Hindus believe in God

Only a few philosophical streams have existence of God whereas in majority of the streams God is either rejected outright or it has no relevance. But even in those streams where God is acknowledged, the God is not central in a Hindu’s quest. In reality most Hindus believe in God.

Then what is essence of Hindu spiritualism?

It is the self discovery more than realization of God. Most Hindus believe in existence of ‘Atman’ indestructible across death and rebirth. The essence of Hindu philosophy centers on unraveling Atman. It is all about finding oneself the realization of God is a consequence of self discovery.

So anybody who gives space to other faiths is a Hindu?

No, a person should also believe in Dharma to be a Hindu. Dharma is living righteously, not necessarily a theist but live ethically. In reality most Hindus don’t live ethically therefore are not really Hindus.

If Hinduism is so liberal and capable of abstract thought then why rampant tribalism in its practice?

This schizophrenia is result of abstract thought evolving concurrently with tribal practices. Hinduism didn’t borrow tribalism it was born from tribalism, the cult of sacrifice to appease elemental forces were natural corollary to base human fear associating inflicted injury as a consequence of anger of the powerful adversary. Overtime there were too many aberrations in this linear reasoning to explain cause and effect relationship of events therefore more esoteric concepts evolved to explain the nature’s way of working. In addition evolution of human mind was bound to raise questions of occult and at some stage seek meaning of life. Relative peace in the subcontinent and leaving the thinkers alone by warring clans allowed ample time for wise men to evolve abstract concepts of Brahman and Atman to explain meaning of life. When esoteric abstract concepts began to evolve the wise sages did nothing to curb the cult of tribalism as they realized the abstract concepts of Brahman and Atman were too esoteric for the common folks to comprehend. It was natural that at some stage need to synthesize practiced religion with the abstract philosophy would arise. The result of this synthesis was gold plating of tribalism with fine Sanskrit poetry and razzmatazz of elaborate and colorful rituals.