Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hinduism : A Religion .. or A Way of Life ?

It was reported in newspapers that while delivering the judgement about a particular case related to the management of a temple in Kerala, the Supreme Court had ruled, "Hinduism is a way of life".... "The word Hindu is not defined." ... "A Hindu has the right to choose his own method of worship. He may or may not visit a temple. " ... "Idol worship, rituals and ceremonials may not be practiced by a person although he may profess Hindu religion." These are some of the quotations from the press report of the lengthy judgement. 

Though any criticism of a judgement by a court is not legally permitted, people have freedom to air their views on general matters regarding religion or way of life, as long it does not hurt anybody's feelings. There were some articles and discussions in media on this topic. An article showing the wide spectrum of Hinduism was being circulated on Whats App. It is not clear whether it is to be considered humorous or serious. Any way, that piece evoked enormous response.
Revised on 15/08/2016

R S Vaghasiya : Aug 1 at 7:13 PM
A good message on whats app. Reproduced
What is a thing about being a Hindu (Sanatan Dharma)
1) Believe in god! - you're accepted - Aastik
2) Don't believe in god! - You're accepted - Nastik
3) You want to worship idols , please go ahead. You are a murti pujak.
4) You dont want to worship idols, please go a ahead. You can focus on Nirguna Brahman.
5) You want to criticise something in our religion. Come forward. We are logical. You will be Hindu. Nyaya, Tarka etc. are core Hindu schools.
6) You want to accept as it is. Please go ahead with it.
7) You want to start your journey by reading Bhagvad Gita - Go ahead
8) You want to start your journey by reading Upanishads - Go ahead.
9) You want to start your journey by reading Purana - Go ahead.
10) You just don't like reading. No problem. Go by Bhakti tradition . ( bhakti- devotion)
11) You don't like idea of Bhakti! No problem, dude. Do your Karma.
12) You want to enjoy life. Very good. Go ahead. No problem at all. Charvaka Philosophy
13) You want to abstain from all the enjoyment of life & find god. Wow! Be a Sadhu!
14) You don't like the concept of God. You believe in Nature only. - Welcome. "vrukshavalli amha soyare" (Trees are our friends)
15) You believe in one god or supreme energy. Superb! Follow Advaita philosophy
16) You want a Guru. Go ahead.
17) You don't want a Guru. Go ahead.
18) You believe in Female energy. Welcome! Shaktiism form of Hinduism.
19) You believe every human is the same. Yeah! You're awesome, come let's celebrate Hinduism! "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam" (the world is a family)
20) You don't have anything to do. Don't worry. One more festival is coming! There are multiple festivals every single day of the year.
21) You are a working person. Don't have time for religion. Its okay. You will be a Hindu.
22) You like to go to temples. Please go ahead
23) You don't like to go to temples, no problem. You are still a Hindu!
24) You know that your religion is a way of life. With freedom.
25) You believe that everything have God in them. So you worship your mother, father, guru, tree, River, Prani-matra, Earth, Universe!
26) And If you don't believe that everything have God in them- No problems. Respect your viewpoint.
27) "Sarve sukhin santu" (May all live happy.) "Sarve bhavantusukhinah" (May all llve happy) You represent this!
Being a a Hindu is being free...
You're free to choose!

Ravi Rustagi  Aug 2 at 2:22 AM
Your summing up ‘Being Hindu' is appreciated.
There are freedom choices in life of a Hindu, but there are responsibilities and restraints too -
28) You will not impose your Faith on others.
29) You will defend your Faith by democratic and non-terrorist means, as preached in the great epics and Vedic scriptures of Hindus. And You will believe in ‘mutual' Tolerance. Not Blind follower of Let Live
30) You will believe that There is One Supreme God, in myriad manifestations to suit your individual swabhav
31) You will believe in re-incarnation and karmic laws
32) You will believe that Truth Alone Triumphs.

Mohan Rao : Aug 2 at 7:26 AM
Thanks for the exposition of what it is to be a Hindu. As we all know, Hinduism originated as a way of life in the valley of river Sindhu, known in history books as Indus Valley civilization (IVC),  described by the Vedic era, followed by spread of civilization in Indo-Gangetic plains and rest of India which hosted two epic eras, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and a host of rishis who shaped our thinking about life for millennia and spread over the subcontinent and of late in the various parts of the world through immigration and travel. The slew of options you talked about reflects the history and extant of this evolution and the foundation of freedom that is the cornerstone of this journey.

In Hinduism, we have inherited the culture and freedom to project ourselves from our own consciousness in a non-subjective, non-dual manner in the larger universe, and in this journey, our Self becomes our point of this projection, we call atman. What the Self sees is our reality, and in its entirety,  ultimate reality we call God. In realizing Self, we in fact realize God. Such a realization gives us a powerful vantage point, free of ego, to perceive truth of reality. As a result of this realization, we may live out a life of maya or illusion. But self-realization gives us the power to see through the veil of illusion and identify ourselves apart from mere existence, as part of the larger being, the universe. Tatwam Asi (Thou art It) summarizes this notion.

I enjoyed reading through your list of choices in conducting our journey. Any choice you make in the fullness of heart is a good choice. It is the honesty, the intent, and the sincereness on one's part that puts us in the path of God, truth and service of humanity.

K.Natarajan: Aug 2 at 2:21 PM
The Whats app quote on Being a Hindu is an in-depth summary of Hinduism, eminently readable.
Quite sometime ago, I compared Hinduism of ancient days, to the Congress party at the time of independence.
The Party meant the Congress party, as there was no other party.
Any new policy or ideal , which would threaten to evolve as a  party would immediately be absorbed by Congress, nipping it in the bud. Thus Lohia's Socialism, Ashok Mehta's brand of Socialism, JP Narayan's Democratic Socialism , Rajagi's Swatantra ideals all became congress policy. Thus the other parties had to take time to cross the ever increasing threshold to get stabilised on own legs, some died.
Hinduism reigned supreme for millennia without competition and thus was more a way of living than a religion.
Even when diverse views were expressed, like the Meemamsikas, they were all governed by the broad family, Hindu.
Even when the same scriptures, Upanishads, were given mutually opposing interpretations, as were done by Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhwa Acharyas, still they would only deviate under the all encompassing Hinduism ,to separate sub-sects only.
This continued till the beginning of CE, only when other religions like Buddhism, Jainism weakly started,  quickly exported and Islam and Christianity coming very much later., imported.
Sankaracharya used to emphasise that when the ancient literature, including scriptures, refer to religion, they do not say which and what, as there was only one.

Now,  in a lighter vein, the list of Whatsup could be further extended with later history of Hinduism, with more 'saints' evolving in modern days.
Open attitude towards human sexuality, follow Rajneesh,
Strict with one man one wife dictum, there is Ramayana,
You want to elevate exercises to godly level. Yogi Ramdev for you.
You want to develop arguments to confuse people, have a session with the great JK.
You want to develop intimate bonds by hugging, Mata Amritanandmayi shows the way.
You want some authority on human sacrifice in Hinduism, there was a movement in ancient times, Kapalika tradition, strong shaivites indulged in this practice to propitiate Hindu goddesses.
You do not want to hurt a fly and move about by gently sweeping the floors, lest you may tread on some insects, Mahavir  Vardhamana of Jainism, an offshoot of Hinduism, was the founder.

Imperative commands like ' YOU WILL' and 'YOU WILL NOT' to qualify for being a Hindu by devout followers are also taken in our strides without question!

The all encompassing HINDUISM is more a WAY OF LIFE than a dogmatic religion.!

Ashok Malhotra : Aug 2 at 5:06 PM
     I think we are making a short shrift of a very serious subject, may be presently being light hearted in an other wise worrying daily lives has also become "a way of life". But, to my mind, and I am sure to many others here, it is not all in the sense of euphemism, as is appearing here by 30 odd edicts, mostly contradicting each other.
   ............ All Religions were supposedly formulated as  common code of conduct for a populace. The negative connotations arose subsequently when the questions like superiority or superposions arose during intermingling of populations.
         To an extent Hinduism has an amorphous constitution. But that may render it strength rather than weakness. Why? Basically by its very nature humans, or for that matter all living beings, like to protect their Private Space at all costs. The larger that space, the larger its growth, not even normally permitted to be compromised by Religion.  No other religion, except Hinduism, allow one such a wide berth. I feel proud of it. Lets not give it the sense of standing "On Quick Sand".

Ravi Rustagi : Aug 3 at 2:02 AM
Dear All Friends- Hindus as well as non-Hindus
The making of an Executive Summary of a vast subject is always a tough attempt. Therefore, I would use the 30-odd edicts for taking a quick stand, without which, we tend to stand on ‘quick sand’.
We have no time or patience to read the 30- volume Encyclopedia on Hinduism published a year or two ago by Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji of Rishikesh.
Some more interesting comments have arisen, ... May I express my views too -
i) Why Hinduism is labeled a way of life?
Firstly no one disputes it; the Supreme Court of India merely stamped its nod, they were wise men.
The Hindu word came up more recently, the description since the beginning has been Sanatan Dharma.
Sanatan connotes the set of natural or eternal laws, which are beginningless(Anadi), endless(Anant), and everlastingly blissful(Sat-Chit-Anand), providing its followers with an entire world view, and a code of conduct and with a coherently rational view of reality. These are the true experiences (not mere beliefs) of several ancient Rishis of India, some of these were women too, which were revealed to them in deep contemplation, many thousand years ago.  These are like the very principles for a healthy and beneficial life. It is quite apt therefore, to call Hinduism - a way of life.

ii) The Origin? There is no one founder or the established date of its origin. The Dharma word in Sanskrit has its roots in Dhri, which means to hold together or to sustain life in all living creatures.  Sanatan-dharma is also called- a set of rules of 'universal righteousness’, ultimately leading to the cherished goal of knowledge, liberation and enlightenment. These philosophical principles are enshrined in the many Vedic scriptures. Accordingly, Sanatan Dharma is also called Vedic Dharma.

iii) Religion on the other hand connotes a set of beliefs and rituals, designed to bind its followers;  these were enumerated by the founder.
Ashok Malhotra : Aug 3 at 4:55 AM
   Do you really mean to say "we Hindus have no religion, that Sanatan Dharma denotes only a way of life, no Dharma or Religion in it" I am truly taken aback by these short shrift remarks !!??

Ravi Rustagi : Aug 3 at 5:55 AM
Dear Malhotraji, Thanks for your penetrating remarks, which I appreciate.
I re-read my notes, and couldn’t find the exact statement "we Hindus have no religion”
Surely, Hindus have a religion, and in many forms, Hindus worship thousands and crores devi-devatas which are widely covered by the umbrella of Hinduism.
I tried to explain how these various forms of Hinduism evolved from the ancient Sanatan Dharma, which was then more of spiritual practice, leading to self-realization, and was widely acknowledged as the way of life. And the traditional explanation continues, in spite of myriad connotations.

I sincerely believe, that without religion, we are lame; but a religion has to be a way of life, not just a few minutes of pooja in the morning, and the goal is to be set in the right and positive direction. Decrying your or any other religion in a negative sense should not be the goal in life.

In the limited knowledge and time at my disposal, I enjoy the new paradigm to positivity. As charity begins at home, I try not to cause harm to my own self- my body, my mind, my intellect, my heart, my spirit. Like the mutual fund investing, benefits of positivity spread to unknown places and people.
Long ago, as a student or as a young competing engineer I had the notion - It is my body, my mind- I am free to deal with it the way I like. Time, aging and yoga practice has revealed how wrong I was. I read in BG, human being is gifted with 23 faculties. I consider these as my sacred co-workers, and I am the CEO. It is my responsibility that each faculty is well cared for- feeding healthy food for the physical body, healthy thinking for the mind, tapas, swadhyay, and healthy emotions for the spirit. By the same token- I try my best to eat no junk food, no junk reading, no anger etc. These are called Yamas & Niyamas- silently building a bridge with others in the family or members of society.

Ashok Malhotra: Aug 3 at 6:32 AM
 My initial mail itself questioned the nuances of "Religion" and "the ways of life" often used without clarity of their differences. The Supreme Court in its judgement, left the difference to be interpreted at your own end, n perhaps so it has manifested.
   I emphasized earlier that, initially all religions started as the ways of life and slowly the rituals n faiths were added on for the common men to follow without bothering for their deeper meanings. The "deep manifestation or revelation" theories are there in all religions, mainly for the common man to follow without questioning. A Religion comprises of both components, rituals for serving the soul and dogmas or ways of life for serving the physical self. It can not be complete by just one part- the ways for the physical self, leaving the soul.
   This is my understanding n belief as a Hindu, I may be off the tracks, as concepts do change over time.

Taswir Singh : Aug 3 at 10:35 AM
Respected Rastogi ji and Ashok ji
Discussion between you two on Hinduism had enlightened me a lot.
I am really greatful to both of you and others who took up this topic especially Shri Vaghasia ji.

Srinivasan G.R: Aug 3 at 11:08 AM
Dear commenters on this thread and all others,
  I read with interest the comments by many. Hinduism as described by many and in extracts are the ones embedded in yoga when one practices under a good Indian guru.
These were also mentioned in my comments on why yoga is becoming global. Our culture and traditions are fantastic. One example much less divorces in India (Unfortunately many Indians are copying western culture when the west are copying ours. Hope we will avoid the same cycle). When Canadians were in Rawathbhata, two of the wives used to say very frequently, “chini my husband does not love me anymore, hope he won’t leave me.” I could feel their continuous agony and tension. Our wives are so sure!! Divorce is just one example. Hope we remain what we are. This is not to say we must not replace a few bad ones which we must do to improve.

P C  Dixit :  03-Aug-2016, at 14:25
Shri Natarajan  saheb,
A person' s  religion  is  determined, primarily, by the God  or  Gods  he  worships. Religion  is  the  greatest  divisor  of  humanity. Even at the time Lord  Krishna explained to Arjuna why he should kill his close relatives, there  were many  religions (dharm)  in existence. The Lord says,
' Dieing  in one's  own  religion is  better  than  in others'  religion  even if one's religion  is  inferior'.
B. Geeta  Chapter 3. Shloka 35

 K.Natarajan: On Aug 3, 2016, at 12:08 PM,
 Dear Shri P C Dixit, Could  by chance, you have mistaken  Dharma as religion?
Though this word is used in the slokha quoted, perhaps dharma here implies the Varnashram.
The  swadharma may mean the Varna to which the person 'belongs', that is one of the four categories of Varnashram, and not  religion as a whole.
In Ch 4,slokha13, Krishna describes the origin of divisions ." I have created the four Varnas and assigned to each to follow. Every man can attain salvation by following his assigned karma, with a detached spirit',  clearly not permitting jumping from one ( considered lower) to another(considered higher).
Present day English has richly grown to have synonyms, many words to describe the same sense, but, as Bernard Shaw claimed, not exactly the same, varying slightly in shades, for precise description.
In Vedic days, could there have been paucity of words? We see the same word used with different connotations, throughout Upanishads, which, again, are at variance with present day usage, tempting me to repeatedly stress the need for a glossary! The dharma in Sanatana Dharma could mean the Hindu religion as a whole, but in this slokha, it appears to me to mean only the caste (or Varna, there being lots of arguments that caste and Varna are not the same)

What is meant in this slokha is that one should follow the duties pertaining to the Varna classification and should not try to do the prescribed actions of another Varna, he does not belong to.

This might have been necessary in those formative days to maintain discipline amongst people with lesser developed  intellect, but questionable at our present stage.

This classification is a weak point now of the great religion and various thoughts are put forward to make that acceptable, mostly weak arguments.

The pandits tending to defend the Varnashram, take pains to explain that the Varna is assigned based on the innate abilities and swabhav of the individual and not by birth., obviously untenable, as the Varna is stamped right after birth and not after a long period of development of the personality and decision taken thereafter. Again who takes the authority of  assessing and allotting the Varna? Such questions are generally not asked. Besides the original classification pales into insignificance with the myriad forms of castes and sub castes we have developed later on, pushing us into an impossible abyss.

I agree with your bold assertion that Religion has only become a divisive force .
Karl Marx said that the State, a necessary evil, will wither away, once true communism is established.
Similar to that, may be Religion will wither away once it helps establishing a true Ramarajya!

I am not quite sure whether Shri Malhotra takes the comment 'a way of life and not religion' as appreciative or offensive.
I would take that as the first. After all if the choice is between living a GOOD life and RELIGIOUS life, what will we choose?


 Mohan Rao : 3 August 2016 at 22:35,
Modern Astronomy started with Copernicus perhaps who said that earth is not the centre of the universe.
 Since those days, the theory of the universe has advanced in many ways. We now have the Quantum Mechanics, which can define the probable movement of an electron around a room. Together with the Theory of Relativity, we now have modern theory of the universe that says that the universes can create themselves out of nothing.
 Stephen Hawking says that there is such a thing called gravity, universe can create itself, making it possible for us to exist as well. There is no need to invoke God to set the universe going.
 The M-theory predicts that countless number of galaxies exist and in fact, countless universes and we are sited in one of them. The current understanding that humans may exist on some of these universes owes itself to oddest of things, pure chance.
 “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary” says Hawking (ABC News, 2015). On being further pressed, he adds that he does not believe in a personal God.
 As I see it, God is an item of human consciousness, a flash that can guide us through life, if we so choose.
 Universe is what it is to us because of us (Anthropic Principle). We are the conscious and sapient life which observes it.
 Universe was made for us. Each one of us creates a universe for oneself the way we see it. We are the designers of this Grandest of Designs.
As Upanishads say: Tatwam Asi (We are It).
Awesome thoughts from the scientists of our age.


 Nandkishore Agarwal : 04 August 2016 16:24
Dear Mohan Rao,
Just a stupid question which may be laughed off:
“One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary” says Hawking (ABC News, 2015). On being further pressed, he adds that he does not believe in a personal God.
I read with interest the above statement. I am never able to understand, if we do not have to believe in God, why is it when we are in distress, we always remember " Oh God, please help me"? Or He Ram or something similar.
May be you would like to make some observations on the above.


Taswir Singh : August 4, 2016 8:01 PM,
As existence of God can not be proved ( it is just a belief system )  at least for many years to come, may be till eternity for all time to come, common sense dictates better to believe in the existence of His. It simplify the difficult situation of common man and act to pacify him in the face of insurmountable problems.

Srinivasan G.R.: 4 August 2016,
I pray to God every day in the morning and evening. In my small temple I have Hindu idols, Infant Jesus, Christ, Mecca masjid, Saibaba, Sikh granth picture etc. Bur core technical mind-set in me is not able to prove that God or any supernatural power exists. Unfortunately we are so much used to validation. I won’t give up. Everything that happens is created by us only. There is complete chaos but the show goes on. We are like diesel engine. Few parts can be replaced but indefinite life extension is not possible. There is nothing like soul. Once dead decommissioning starts. How to get out of this? Luckily my habit of not suffering due to any reason is saving me.

P C  Dixit: 5 Aug 2016 12:05 pm,
Resp. Shri  Natrajan saheb,
With yr profound knowledge about our  scriptutes.  and  application  of your  high intelligence  you have clarified  the  diiference  between  dharma  and  religion. I am thankful to you v. much.


Srinivasan G.R: 6 Aug 2016 10:00,
      I believe in bhoomi, fire etc as I can see them. Sorry my common sense, on the balance, does not tell me to believe in God. Each time I think of believing, I do not want anti-belief thoughts to come. Not only I cannot prevent their coming but I also helplessly watch their victory. But I believe that each of us work out our destiny. I believe you will suffer for each bad thing you do. This is dictating each activity that happens in the world and not anything else. That is why I do not want to hurt anybody (Rather selfishly). I am not an atheist and want desperately to believe in existence of God or some supernatural power.


Taswir Singh: 06-Aug-2016, at 10:51
Very very right you are respected Shri GRS ji.
Almost I am also sailing in the same boat.
However, much I may try I fail to accept the existance of God in the form of some living entity.
Therefore, some great Punjabi writer has said.
Rub ik gunjalldhar buzhharat
Rub ik gorakhdhandha
Kholan lagiyana paech
Is dae ho jayae pagal banda.
God is complex and complicated quiz.
While trying to open its secrets man will become mad.
Therefore instead of becoming mad let the man  believe this concept of God
It simplifies his life and give him psychological advantage in facing unsolvable and unsurmountable problems.
Again I agree with you very very difficult for a person of scientific bent of mind to accept the existance of God.

Anand Ghare : Aug 6 at 1:15 PM
I do not know who is the originator of the list of 'Being Hindu' given in the 'original' whats app forwarded message.  It is written in first four points that whether you believe in God or not and whether you worship him or not, you can still be 'Hindu'. So no need to prove or disprove existence of The God for the limited purpose of deciding about who is Hindu.

I have heard some religions or sects also do not ask their followers to worship The God. I have seen in some very famous and beautiful temples that a मूर्ती of a Swami occupies central place. I heard that the followers worship only their Swami.  

It has been told that 'Hindu Dharma' is a 'way of life'. Still any discussion on religion always drifts towards 'God'. Stephen Hawkins has said that existence of The God is not necessary for the creation and running this universe. Perhaps it is not necessary that every religion must be always connected with one God or more.

We are able to express this kind of opinions in a free world, but unfortunately some of our own ancestors used to think otherwise. They did not accept followers of  Gautam Buddha, Mahavir or Guru Nanakdev, though they also followed almost the same way of life.  On the other hand some of the ancestors believed that 'Hindu Dharma' is a 'way of life' interpreted in  their peculiar understanding and expelled anybody who simply ate a piece of meat or bread or any food item cooked by a Muslim or Christian. Most of the conversions done by Portuguese rulers in Goa were done in this fashion. I have heard a story that the famous singer Tansen was expelled from Hinduism because he ate a पान offered to him by a Muslim Ustad as appreciation of his musical talent.

So 'Being Hindu' is a subjective issue. First the person should feel that he is Hindu and the society in which he lives should accept him, irrespective of whether he believes in The God or follows some way of life or not.  
Mohan Rao : Aug 7 at 4:54 AM
One of the major tenets of Hindu philosophy has been the notion of Samsara, simply put, cycle of birth, life and death, in a perpetual mode. It naturally jived well with my notion of  existence, the continuity of the universe, and it's ability to recycle generations one following the other, meeting all other notions such as karma, evolution, progress etc. Once the primary reason of life is completed, i.e. procreation and care-taking of the young until they grow up and are on their own, there is little reason to hang around for ever, and nature took care of it by aging us and terminating life.

Now scientists seem to think that aging is the biggest risk factor for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and Type 2 diabetes and want to slow down the aging process. They have been at it for a century now, and the human lifespan has doubled from about 40 to about 80 in about a century. They have tried a drug called rapamycin on mice and find these critters live 10 to 30 percent longer (equivalent to adding up to 25 more years to our lifetime). These mice lived a healthier life as well after being treated with the drug.
Scientists are trying to start clinical trials on humans to see if they can replicate the results with a drug called metformin in humans. This is the quest for the Holy Grail in the battle against aging. If successful, there will soon be miracle drugs for cancer, diabetes etc. that may cure the old age illnesses and substantially increase our lifespan. Then there are anti-aging formula drugs that could turn back the clock, build muscles and increase strength and stamina and even reduce wrinkles.

If scientists succeed in their trials to find drugs to cure old-age diseases, to create anti- aging drugs to help people live long and reasonably healthy lives, and show us that they can make us live several decades longer, the next question would be, what do we with the time tossed at us by science? And the problems that this will create in society that is used to end of life much earlier than what it could be with the new drugs?

   K.Natarajan : Aug 9 at 1:33 AM

This thread has caught up like forest fire!
GRS is not alone in the  helplessness of a rationalist in comprehending the  genesis and influence of God. But he is alone in making a very nice summary "Each time I think of believing, I do not want anti-belief thoughts to come. Not only I cannot prevent their coming but I also helplessly watch their victory." Fantastic summary of the rationalist's struggle and the gene's ( or the ingrained DNA in man) victory!

It is slightly odd how lightly  Shri Ashok Malhotra finds a controversy in man not being able to control his mind, for this is the quest of all seers, what religion is all about, considered as most difficult to achieve, stillness of mind or controlling the mind!

Let us look at this highly talked about Belief System, a little more dispassionately.

Scientific beliefs  start as possibilities  in the advancement of science. They are stepping stones for the thinking processes (often dubbed as theory or hypothesis) and at some stage are discorded  or  superseded.
In the metaphysical area, there is no way of establishing  the beliefs as facts, to  be superseded or killed and hence, they stay, getting dogmatic with the passage of time. Very soon they find their soul mates, religion, and can no longer be taken lightly.
For, religion, as a philosopher said, is the opium of mankind. With a few twists and turns, the opium soon found its bedrock, God.

Beliefs lead to prayers, raising the age old question on the Why and How of prayers.

Is there any man who, at some time or other, does not pray?
A time will come when, the most rationalist amongst us, kneels down as a LAST RESORT, utterly helpless and nothing else to resort to (ignoring the mocking smile of rationalism in him!)
Does it work, if yes, how?
One simple answer is, yes, not by granting physically what one wants,  but by conditioning one's mind, creating an equanimity to take what comes, driving away the forlorn feeling of depression and frustration.
Similar to meditation., SUBJECTIVE PROCESS.

Did not the doctors attribute sickness to mind?
Did not Beauty, get transferred from the object, par se, to the mind of the person seeing, as 'a state of mind, a quality of thought' by wise thinkers?
The human mind is a wonderful creation, the seat of origin and support, being able to CONTROL THE PHYSICAL STATE of man, too.

The process, to a man with FAITH,  goes farther,  from this subjective explanation, reaches out to things external to Self and MAKE things happen ! OBJECTIVELY. It is this deeper sense of prayer that is a baffle to the rational minded, a point of debate.

Rationalists argue that the reward of prayer, we are here talking of what goes beyond that of meditation, if there is, defies the means of action, even admitting, at a distance.

How can  this happen?
Some chance happening, interpreted as a consequence, adds strength to  fortify faith?!

PRAYER is open to everybody, the sinner as well as the devout.
The sinner prays for the success of his sinful venture.
The devout prays, for some benefits for him, be it happiness, wealth, or getting out of a tough predicament.
Both make some kinds of offerings, expecting fulfilment.
There is some smell of commerce in BOTH.

Let us assume that the person is not taking prayer as a commercial transaction, offering God something to get relief in return.
Let us assume that the person is a morally right person, faced with an acute situation, not out of any immoral thing, consciously done, then...
Humility is the key, accepting that the problem is beyond him, that to the best of his comprehension the imposition of the problem is unjust and only Devine intervention could free him from the problem.

May sound right, but Rationalists interpret that even this is unacceptable as selfless humility, for there is a trait of accusation, wounded hurt, that this situation is UNJUST, questioning the Supreme's Order, and asking CORRECTION.
Does not prayer, then, become some defiance, questioning the Order?

Bhagwat Geta postulates Sthitappragyna -  freedom from the effects of all gunas,
Acceptance of whatever comes with equanimity,
One who believes in this and stays put like a rock,
His acts of prayer are more out of ENJOYMENT and GRATITUDE., and NOTHING sought in return ( including 'salvation')

Be what may,

It is undeniable that in the life of every man, atheistic or agnostic or devout, there comes a moment, there are moments, when he turns to PRAYER, as the last resort and equally undeniable that it is fulfilled, materially (good!) or metaphysically, by tuning the mind to face or reconcile with what will be (still good).

and then, Rationalism becomes irrelevant!

Some Offbeat side rhythm:

 वो अफसाना जिसे अंजाम तक लाना न हो मुमकिन,
    उसे इक खूबसूरत मोड़ देकर छोड़ना अच्छा,
  चलो इक बार फिर से अजनबी बन जांये हम दोनो,
You have chosen a nice song to drive home your point beautifully.
However , I feel that we should follow only the FIRST TWO  lines and not act
as dictated in the LAST line.
धन्यवाद । खेत किसीका, कपास किसीकी, चर्खा किसीका, पर चुनरी मेरी ।
There is no question of Chunri being  MERI or TERI. All I was trying to stress  was that despite having difference of opinion on certain matter(s) and  having agreed to abandon further discussions on that specific topic. THERE IS NO NEED TO BECOME STRANGERS.
Ravi Rustagi : Aug 6 at 9:07 PM
You two are my hero, as you’ve created an amazingly complex learning in this single line tale.

Khet, kapas, charkha represent the tools of work, similar to water, air, land etc; humans use these to do the assigned duty, but have no ownership rights. Sort of lease-use, you leave them behind as you depart from the planet earth.

Chunri represents your actions, your doings, your performance, your karma- these accumulate as Sanchit karma, and travel with you till they are ready to sprout forth as prarabdha, at the right time in this life or life hereafter.
Ignorant people call this as Fate, because humans tend to forget their acts, but the Lord of life Chitragupta keeps track. We should be careful how we make the chunri.

Saint Kabirdasji was a weaver, who sang the melodious bhajan- दास कबीर ने जतन से बीनी……. चदरिया झीनी रे झीनी
Ashok Malhotra:  Aug 6 at 10:08 PM
   Out of the 45 mails till now in this chain, the last 1/3 has been a complete turn around from finding the areas of disagreement to the areas of agreement, and what a pleasurable feeling it gives to reach equanimity on a complex issue, but deeply enshrined in our psyche since time immemorial. I am sure many others still have pertinent points, but refrain from sharing considering it a very private matter not to be imposed on others, n rightly so.
   Lastly the song of '63 film दिल ही तो है sung by Mannade n the Kabirji Bhajan  is my favourite. Let me complete it's most impacting para:
  "कोरी चुनरिया आत्मा मोरी, मैल है माया जाल,
    वो दुनिया मोरे बाबुल का घर  ये दुनिया ससुराल,
  जाके बाबुल से नज़रें मिलाऊ कैसे, घर जाऊं कैसे,
      लागा चुनरी में दाग.....

K.Natarajan : Aug 7 at 10:53 AM
A  FORWARD  which may jell well with the topic under discussion.

Things were going exactly as Srinivasan had feared, his Mother would come in from India and crush his American way of life under her strong South Indian influence. For a genetic scientist like Vasu, as Srinivasan was called by his friends, the only kind of order was disorder. So consumed he was by his research that the world and it's affairs mattered little to him. When his last girlfriend walked out on him, "Find a girl on planet Srinivasan," she had screamed as she stomped out.

Now Vasu's Mother had taken over the administration of the planet. It irritated him, this milk at night and chywanprash every morning. "Have you been wearing the same pair of Jeans for the past three days?" Mother was beginning her morning interrogation.

Vasu stared at the hot idlis in front of him, the chywanprash to follow and the wardrobe interrogation that had begun. Something snapped in his mind. "Mom I love you and I love that you come all the way from India to take care of me but plesse don't fuss over me! It irritates me!  And then I cannot work!"

His Mother did not really care if Vasu was upset, "The idlis are getting cold," was her matter of fact response.

"You don't really care, do you Mom?"

"I care about you Vasu. The work you do is alright. If you don't do it, someone else will do it."

"Mom, I am genetic scientist. I am working on the evolution of man. Theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, have you heard of him? "

Vasu was exasperated with her unwillingness to understand.

His Mother sat down next to him and smiled, "I know Darwin, Vasu. I also know that what you think he discovered was old news in India."

" Yeah sure Mom!" Vasu said with sarcasm.

"Well if you are too smart then listen to this, " his Mother countered." Have you heard of Dashavatar? The ten avatars of Vishnu?" Vasu nodded. "Then let me tell you what you and Mr. Darwin don't know. The first avatar was the Matsya avatar, it means the fish. That is because life began in the water. Is that not right?"

Vasu began to listen with a little more attention.

"Then came the Kurma Avatar, which means the tortoise, cause life moved from the water to the land. The amphibian. So the Tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land. Third was the Varaha, the wild boar, which meant the wild animals with not much intellect, you call them the Dinosaurs, correct? "

Vasu nodded wide eyed.

"The fourth avatar was the Narasimha avatar, half man and half animal, the evolution from wild animals to intelligent beings. Fifth the Vaman avatar, the midget or dwarf, who could grow really tall. Do you know why that is? Cause there were two kinds of humans, Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens won that battle."

Vasu could see that his Mother was in full flow and he was stupefied.

"The Sixth avatar was Parshuram, the man who wielded the axe, the man who was a cave and forest dweller. Angry, and not social but the seventh avatar  was Ram, the first thinking social being, who laid out the laws of society and the basis of all relationships. The eight avatar was Krishna, the statesman, the politician, the lover who played the game of society and taught how to live and thrive in the social structure. The Ninth avatar, the Buddha, the man who rose from Narasimha and found man's true nature. The nature of Buddha, he identified man's final quest of enlightenment. And finally, my boy, will come Kalki, the man you are working on. The man who will be genetically supreme."

Vasu looked at his Mother speechless. "This is amazing Mom, how did you.. This makes sense!"

"Yes it does Vasu! Now have your chywanprash! "

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