Friday, May 1, 2009

Badrinath temple

Badrinath temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Hindus also call it Badri Vishal.

Temple is located at about 10,500 feet above mean sea level in Alaknanda Valley, in Badrinath town, Uttaranchal Pradesh. It flanked by two mountain ranges called Nar and Narayan [man and God]. It is one of the Four Dhams, in four corners of India. The temple is actually very old, being mentioned in ancient scriptures, but the present one established by Shankracharya about 810 AD and has been standing there as it is.

Badrinath Temple is opened  on Basant Panchami [1st May this tear] and closes for winter on  Vijaydashmi. Thus, the temple opens every year in the month of April-May and closes for winters in the third week of November. Joshimath is the winter deity of Badrinath.

On the first day of opening thousands of pilgrims from all over India and abroad line up for entry from mid night.

The hotel accommodation is not much but voluntary organizations provide free board and lodge. The devotees may drop something in the donation boxes of those places.

Temple is about 15 M tall, with a gold covered cupola. The front wall is built of stone with arched windows. The hall inside is supported by pillars of kasauti [touch stone] stone.

The present form of the temple looks quite “modern”one as it aws was renovated extensively by the king of Garhwal in 1805.

Hmm. The locaion of the temple is vulerable to land slides, but then the Himalyas are themselves unstable!




Friday, April 24, 2009

Atman or Self aka soul

Atman or Self aka soul

Chandogya Upanishad

Upanishads are philosophical works, have have discussed a wide ranging topics in philosophy. They are source of Indian philosophy. Even Buddha drew his ideas from them.

1. Prajapati said: "The Self which is free from sin, free from old age, free from death, free from grief, free from hunger, free from thirst, whose desires come true and whose thoughts come true - That it is which should be searched out, That it is which one should desire to understand. He who has known this Self from the scriptures and a teacher and understood It obtains all the worlds and all desires.

Indra, the chief god came and desired to be instructed about Self.

24.1.144. Chapter VII - The Person in the Eye

4. Prajapati said to them: "The person that is seen in the eye - that is the Self." He further said: "This is immortal, fearless. This is Brahman."
They asked: "Venerable Sir, he who is perceived in the water and he who is perceived in a mirror - which of these is he?"
Prajapati replied: "The same one, indeed, is perceived in all these."

Indra pondered on this and his doubts cropped up.

"As this reflection in the water is well adorned when the body is well adorned, well dressed when the body is well dressed, clean when the body is clean, so this reflection in the water will be blind if the body is blind, one - eyed if the body is one - eyed, crippled if the body is crippled and will perish if the body perishes.
2. "I do not see any good in this doctrine." He returned and expressed his doubts.

3. "So it is Indra," replied Prajapati. "I shall explain the Self to you further.

Prajapati accepted the objections.


24.1.147. Chapter X - The Dream Self

Prajapati next taught:
1 - 2. "He who moves about, exalted, in dreams - this is the Self, this is immortal, fearless. This is Brahman."

Indra thought again, but he had more doubts. So he returned and expressed the same.

"Although this dream self is not blind even if the body is blind, nor do its eyes and nose run when the eyes and nose of the body run; although this self is not affected by the defects of the body,

"Nor killed when it (the body) is killed, nor one - eyed when it is one - eyed - yet they kill it (the dream self), as it were; they chase it, as it were. It becomes conscious of pain, as it were; it weeps, as it were. I do not see any good in this doctrine."

"So it is, Indra," replied Prajapati. "I shall explain the Self further to you."
Then Prajapati said to Indra

24.1.148. Chapter XI - The Self in Dreamless Sleep

1. "When a man is asleep, with senses withdrawn and serene and sees no dream - that is the Self. This is immortal, fearless. This is Brahman."

Indra was not automaton. He thought and found difficulties.

He (Indra) said: "Venerable Sir, in truth it (i.e. the self in dreamless sleep) does not know itself as 'I am it,' nor these other creatures. It has therefore reached utter annihilation, as it were. I do not see any good in this."

3. "So it is, Indra," replied Prajapati. "I shall explain the Self further to you and nothing else.

Then Prajapati said to him:
24.1.149. Chapter XII - The Incorporeal Self

1. "O Indra, this body is mortal, always held by death. It is the abode of the Self which is immortal and incorporeal. The embodied self is the victim of pleasure and pain. So long as one is identified with the body, there is no cessation of pleasure and pain. But neither pleasure nor pain touches one who is not identified with the body.

2 - 3. "The wind is without body; the cloud, lightning and thunder are without body. Now, as these, arising from yonder akasa and reaching the highest light, appear in their own forms,
"So does this serene Being, arising from this body and reaching the Highest Light, appear in His own form. In that state He is the Highest Person. There He moves about, laughing, playing, rejoicing - be it with women, chariots, or relatives, never thinking of the body into which he was born.

"As an animal is attached to a cart, so is the prana (i.e. the conscious self) attached to the body.

4. "When the person in the eye resides in the body, he resides where the organ of sight has entered into the akasa (i.e. the pupil of the eye); the eye is the instrument of seeing. He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me smell this,' he is the Self; the nose is the instrument of smelling. He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me speak,' he is the Self; the tongue is the instrument of speaking. He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me hear,' he is the Self; the ear is the instrument of hearing.

5. "He who is aware of the thought: 'Let me think this,' he is the Self; the mind is his divine eye. He, the Self sees all these desires in the World of Brahman through the divine eye, the mind and rejoices.

6. "The gods meditate on that Self. Therefore all worlds belong to them and all desires. He who knows that Self and understands It obtains all worlds and all desires." Thus said Prajapati, yea, thus said Prajapati.

The book ends with:

Om ! Let my limbs and speech, Prana, eyes, ears, vitality
And all the senses grow in strength.
All existence is the Brahman.
May I never deny Brahman, nor Brahman deny me.
Let there be no denial at all:
Let there be no denial at least from me.
May the virtues that are proclaimed in the Upanishads be in me,
Who am devoted to the Atman; may they reside in me.
Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !

In many of the Upanishads [108 in number], a step by step approach is followed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama under Indian lens

Obama under Indian lens

It appears that Obama might visit India soon. People would be looking at the event with interest. One set of admirers would no doubt applaud his color, without reference to his stance about India. Another set, less given to emotions, would look quite critically, and comparisons with Bush would inevitable. Of course, this visit will take only after the general elections in India are over and dust settles considerably. I am sure his advisers will advise him on this aspect, and not rush such a visit.

The popular, but quite a misleading perception here is that the Bush administration was more favourably disposed towards India and that the Obama policies may be more prickly for the mandarins in New Delhi.

But, this perception is partially [only partially] true. Bush was seized with one big idea: to improve America’s bilateral relationship with India, which had been estranged over the nuclear issue. Hence the singleminded determination with which he pursued the July 2005 civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, firmly overruling the objections of the non-proliferation zealots in the Beltway. Though here too the opinions are split. In contrast, Obama is keen on pouring money into Pakistan, to the chagrin of India.

USA is generally viewed as an unreliable strategic partner, and USA does not have an exactly a big share of Indian arms shopping. Time and again American military manufacturers have submitted their hardware for evaluation, always to falter at export license. Spin off is still there for the manufacturers, as their equipment is put to exacting tests and evaluation. And Indian evaluations go far, very very far. On this score Obama is yet to tested, and who knows he might as well pass too.

The bilateral relations have been at very frustrating cusp, and only a little push is all that is required to hurtle them this or that way. The US military-industrial complex aware of this, post-May 1998, that engagement with India was in Washington’s larger interest. But Bush does not appear to have pursued this with diligence.

While Bush kept himself clear of Kashmir issue, Obama tried to rush in. But fortunately, wiser counsels have prevailed and he back tracked from a pro-active [read anti India] stance. But his initial moves are not likely to be forgotten in a hurry, and an element of suspicion would remain.

But only the future would tell.

Friday, March 20, 2009



While Brahma was seeing into the distant future, He murmured: This  NOMOPHOBIA might be the nemesis of man.

These murmurs were heard across the universe, and Indra was disturbed,  He hastened to Brahma and craved permission to ask a question.  Permission was granted.

Indra: Sire, you murmured about Nomophobia. This word is so mysterious  and incomprehensible.

Spake Brahma: Listen, O Indra. This word is made up of NO, MO(bile)  and phobia. This is a new manifestation of FEAR, which will be  apparent in in the 53rd century after the start of Kali yuga, also  then known as 21st century AD.

Indra: Sire, why is this dreadful entity being allowed?

Brahma: Dear son, I am the Originator of knowledge. I permitted only  the invention of mobile phones. A noble device, if used in righteous  way. But man has base tendencies too. He can pervert any noble object.  He will use mobile phones in a licentious ways, and thus allow it to  dominate himself.

Indra: How is this phobia to be identified, Sire?? Man must be  imparted this profound knowledge too, in my humble opinion.

Brahma: That will be so, Indra. Man has a right to knowledge.  It is no sin to acquire it. In fact, it would be a grave injustice  if this knowledge is withheld. But, son, it is for man to utilize that  knowledge.

Indra: Sire, enlighten me.

Brahma: It's the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. This fear  will be about running out of battery, credit, losing one's handset,  being in places out of network coverage etc. Those suffering from fear  of being in closed places like dungeons will suffer even more, as they  may be out of the reach of the network coverage. And those dungeons,  called basements, will be for righteous pursuits.

Indra: Sire, if I might ask. How wide spread will this phobia be??

Brahma: In the said century, WWW would be widespread. A godling called  GOOGLE will help those men who are willing to be informed. About 53%  of users will be affected by not having network coverage. Men will  suffer more than women, because it is not the law that women must  suffer more than men. About 48% of females and 58% of males will have  manifested feelings of anxiety. Many would never switch off their  mobile phones, even while they are sleeping.

O Indra, can you foresee the ill effects of the this phobia.

Indra: In my humble opinion, Sire, there will be wasteful expenditure  of energy and resources. Mobile sets will run down fast, batteries  will pack up quickly. Sire, only those artisans who make them will  benefit by wordly riches. In an earlier audience, Sire, you had  brought out the ill effects of such matters on the environments. Sire,  this phobia is going to produce lots of new mess in the already messed  up Kaliyuga. Sire, is their any remedy?? Sire, you must have the  solution too, after all you not omniscient for nothing.

Brahma: I am pleased, O Indra, that you now have understood the perils  of this fear. As for remedies, recall that the timeless message of  Bhagavad Gita.

This fear is generated because of obsessive infatuation of worldly  lusts. In this case, the lust will manifest as excessive desire to  talk and chat. Mankind dread this phobia more than any other fear. Lusts  enslave the senses of man. Man instead of mastering the senses and  employing them for righteous pursuits, falls slave to them. Thus his  freedom of will is weakened more and more. Those humans, who are  enlightened about the righteous use of mobile phones and perils of  unrighteous use thereof will not suffer. There will be few of them,  but then those few are who uphold the order of the world from  crumbling.

Go forth, Indra, and impart this knowledge to humans. Don't be  disheartened that only a few would absorb this sacred and profound teaching.

Thus ends the dialog between Indra and Brahma about Nomophobia, and is  part of the Mobile Phone Upanishad, and penned down and published by  Veda Vyasa.

PS: Mobile phone was invented, WWW was invented and Googleji, the  presiding deity of search engines, has manifested itself. Indra  verified these figures of affliction with the help of lord Google.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Horrors of the Goa Inquisition

Horrors of the Goa Inquisition

Posted March 18, 2005
Christian historian, Dr. T. R. de Souza

At least from 1540 onwards, and in the island of Goa before that year, all the Hindu idols had been annihilated or had disappeared, all the temples had been destroyed and their sites and building material was in most cases utilized to erect new Christian Churches and chapels. Various viceregal and Church council decrees banished the Hindu priests from the Portuguese territories; the public practices of Hindu rites including marriage rites, were banned; the state took upon itself the task of bringing up Hindu orphan children; the Hindus were denied certain employments, while the Christians were preferred; it was ensured that the Hindus would not harass those who became Christians, and on the contrary, the Hindus were obliged to assemble periodically in Churches to listen to preaching or to the refutation of their religion."

"A particularly grave abuse was practiced in Goa in the form of 'mass baptism' and what went before it. The practice was begun by the Jesuits and was alter initiated by the Franciscans also. The Jesuits staged an annual mass baptism on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), and in order to secure as many neophytes as possible, a few days before the ceremony the Jesuits would go through the streets of the Hindu quarter in pairs, accompanied by their Negro slaves, whom they would urge to seize the Hindus. When the blacks caught up a fugitive, they would smear his lips with a piece of beef, making him an 'untouchable' among his people. Conversion to Christianity was then his only option."

The Goan inquisition is regarded by all contemporary portrayals as the most violent inquisition ever executed by the Portuguese Catholic Church. It lasted from 1560 to 1812. The inquisition was set as a tribunal, headed by a judge, sent to Goa from Portugal and was assisted by two judicial henchmen. The judge was answerable to no one except to Lisbon and handed down punishments as he saw fit. The Inquisition Laws filled 230 pages and the palace where the Inquisition was conducted was known as the Big House and the Inquisition proceedings were always conducted behind closed shutters and closed doors. The screams of agony of the culprits (men, women, and children) could be heard in the streets, in the stillness of the night, as they were brutally interrogated, flogged, and slowly dismembered in front of their relatives. Eyelids were sliced off and extremities were amputated carefully, a person could remain conscious even though the only thing that remained was his torso and a head.

Diago de Boarda, a priest and his advisor Vicar General, Miguel Vazz had made a 41 point plan for torturing Hindus. Under this plan Viceroy Antano de Noronha issued in 1566, an order applicable to the entire area under Portuguese rule :
"I hereby order that in any area owned by my master, the king, nobody should construct a Hindu temple and such temples already constructed should not be repaired without my permission. If this order is transgressed, such temples shall be, destroyed and the goods in them shall be used to meet expenses of holy deeds, as punishment of such transgression."

In 1567 the campaign of destroying temples in Bardez met with success. At the end of it 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. Enacting laws, prohibition was laid from December 4, 1567 on rituals of Hindu marriages, sacred thread wearing and cremation. All the persons above 15 years of age were compelled to listen to Christian preaching, failing which they were punished.

A religious fatva was issued on the basis of the findings of Goa Inquiry Commission. It stated,"...Hereby we declare the decision that the conventions mentioned in the preamble of the fatva as stated below are permanently declared as useless, and therefore prohibited".

Prohibitions Regarding Marriages

  • The instruments for Hindu songs shall not be played.
  • While giving dowry the relatives of the bride and groom must not be invited.
  • At the time of marriage, betel leaf packages (pan) must not be distributed either publicly or in private to the persons present.
  • Flowers, or fried puris, betel nuts and leaves must not be sent to the heads of the houses of the bride or groom.
    Gotraj ceremony of family God must not be performed.
  • On the day prior to a wedding, rice must not be husked, spices must not be pounded, grains must not be ground and other recipes for marriage feast must not be cooked.
  • Pandals and festoons must not be used.
  • Pithi should not be applied.
  • The bride must not be accorded ceremonial welcome. The bride and groom must not  be made to sit under pandal to convey blessings and best wishes to them.

    Prohibitions Regarding Fasts, Post-death Rituals

    -The poor must not be fed or ceremonial meals must not be served for the peace of the souls of the dead.
    -There should be no fasting on ekadashi day.
    -Fasting can be done according to the Christian principles.
    -No rituals should be performed on the twelfth day after death, on moonless and full moon dates.
    -No fasting should be done during lunar eclipse.


    -Hindu men should not wear dhoti either in public or in their houses. Women should not wear cholis .
    -They should not plant Tulsi in their houses, compounds, gardens or any other place.

    -Following the law of 1567, orphans were kidnapped for converting them to Christianity.

    On September 22, 1570 an order was issued that :
    -The Hindus embracing Christianity will be exempted from land taxes for a period of 15 years.
    -Nobody shall bear Hindu names or surnames.

    In 1583 Hindu temples at Esolna and Kankolim were destroyed through army action.
    "The fathers of the Church forbade the Hindus under terrible penalties the use of their own sacred books, and prevented them from all exercise of their religion. They destroyed their temples, and so harassed and interfered with the people that they abandoned the city in large numbers, refusing to remain any longer in a place where they had no liberty, and were liable to imprisonment, torture and death if they worshipped after their own fashion the gods of their fathers." wrote Sasetti, who was in India from 1578 to 1588.
    An order was issued in June 1684 eliminating Konkani language and making it compulsory to speak Portuguese language. The law provided for dealing toughly with anyone using the local language. Following that law all the symbols of non-Christian sects were destroyed and the books written in local languages were burnt.

    The Archbishop living on the banks of the Ethora had said during one of his lecture series, "The post of Inquiry Commission in Goa is regarded as holy." The women who opposed the assistants of the commission were put behind the bars and were used by them to satisfy their animal instincts. Then they were burnt alive as opponents of the established tenets of the Catholic church.
    The victims of such inhuman laws of the Inquiry Commission included a French traveller named Delone. He was an eye witness to the atrocities, cruelty and reign of terror unleashed by priests. He published a book in 1687 describing the lot of helpless victims. While he was in jail he had heard the cries of tortured people beaten with instruments having sharp teeth. All these details are noted in Delone's book.

    So harsh and notorious was the inquisition in Goa, that word of its brutality and horrors reached Lisbon but nothing was done to stop this notoriety and escalating barbarity and it continued for two hundred more years. No body knows the exact number of Goans subjected to these diabolical tortures, but perhaps it runs into hundreds of thousands, may be even more. The abominations of inquisitions continued until a brief respite was given in 1774 but four years later, the inquisition was introduced again and it continued un-interruptedly until 1812. At that point in time, in the year of 1812, the British put pressure on the Portuguese to put an end to the terror of Inquisition and the presence of British troops in Goa enforced the British desire. Also the Portuguese power at this time was declining and they could not fight the British. The palace of the Grand Inquisitor, the Big House, was demolished and no trace of it remains today, which might remind someone of inquisitions and the
    horrors inside this Big House that their great saint Francis Xavier had commenced.

    Dr. Trasta Breganka Kunha, a Catholic citizen of Goa writes, "Inspite of all the mutilations and concealment of history, it remains an undoubted fact that religious conversion of Goans is due to methods of force adopted by the Portuguese to establish their rule. As a result of this violence the character of our people was destroyed. The propagation of Christian sect in Goa came about not by religious preaching but through the methods of violence and pressure. If any evidence is needed for this fact, we can obtain it through law books, orders and reports of the local rulers of that time and also from the most dependable documents of the Christian sect