Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Swami Vivekananda on caste discrimination and untouchability

Swami Vivekananda on caste discrimination and untouchability

(by Muktipada Behera)

Introduction

Swami Vivekananda has raised his voice on caste discrimination and untouchability. It appears that He was more serious about caste anomaly than any other reformers. Probably in Indian history, Swami Vivekananda is the first person to covey the truth and realities without any prejudice and fear after Buddha. In his words - "I have a message for the world, which I will deliver without fear and care for the future. To the reformers I will point out that I am a greater reformer than any one of them. They want to reform only little bits. I want root-and-branch reform. [CW-3]"

Swami Vivekananda clearly discouraged caste system. He write in a letter, ALMORA,  30th May, 1897 - "the conviction is daily gaining on my mind that the idea of caste is the greatest dividing factor and the root of Maya; all caste either on the principle of birth or of merit is bondage. [CW-6]" Link - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/124_sir.htm

Voice against Caste oppression

Swami Vivekananda wrote in a letter “BARANAGORE, CALCUTTA, 17th Aug., 1889 to Pramadadas Mitra of Varanasi, - “I have no doubt that according to the ancient view in this country, caste was hereditary, and it cannot also be doubted that sometimes the Shudras used to be oppressed more than the helots among the Spartans and the negroes among the Americans! As for myself, I have no partiality for any party in this caste question, because I know it is a social law and is based on diversity of Guna and Karma. It also means grave harm if one bent on going beyond Guna and Karma cherishes in mind any caste distinctions.” [CW-6] Link  - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/009_sir.htm

Society has its own momentum

Veda does not talk of caste system. Smrtis like Manu Smriti enforces caste discrimination. We think first Smritis are written and given to people. And next morning all people started following it. Not true. Rather Smritis document the customs already prevalent during that period and authors put few of their suggestions to add some values. Author doesn't or cannot suggest a drastic change in society. It should be at per what society follows. The logic behind it is if today Swami Vivekananda says something, how many Indians will follow it. To be more accurate suppose today Manu will direct something through another edition of his book, do you think that whole world will follow him? It is difficult to change the society completely. Society has it’s own flow and that cannot be changed overnight. Given a situation, society or people holds the immediate available solution without thinking for whole humanity and it’s future consequence.

Priest-craft has nothing to do with Spirituality 

Swami Vivekananda was intelligent enough to understand the degradation of Hinduism is due to priests. Priests act as middlemen in religion without any divine authority. They confuse people, out of ignorance they indulge others into superstitions, twist the liberal meaning of scripture, and become an obstacle to the real teachings given by Vedic Rishis. He understood clearly unless the priest-hood is not destroyed completely, there is no rise of India. He named it as Râkshasas in the shape of the Brahmin priests. 

His Inner views from his letters

Letter date: 10th July 1893:

"Come, be men! Kick out the priests who are always against progress, because they would never mend, their hearts would never become big. They are the offspring of centuries of superstition and tyranny. Root out priest craft first. [CW-5]" - Link - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_5/epistles_first_series/003_alasinga.htm

Letter date: 1895

"Remember the Vedic Ashvamedha sacrifice – ‘Tadanantaram mahishim ashwa-sannidhau patayet’ etc! And Hota, Pota, Brahma, Udgata etc do worse things while drunk. Brother, Janaki had been to forest, Sri Rama celebrated Ashwamedha alone – hearing this I am free from stress, Brother.

All the Brâhmanas mention them, and all the commentators admit them to be true. How can you deny them? [CW-6]" Link - (http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/071_rakhal.htm) Please look into Bengali version below as it is not translated into English Bengali Link - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/b7159e6071.pdf.







It looks like - priests were doing terrible act with queen in the name of Ashvamedha Yajna. You can find reference in web about Aswamedha Yajna. Where the queen has to sleep with dead horse over night. She has to do a symbolic sex with dead horse. Since the dead horse could not do it, it seems was done by Vedic priests to give birth to a child from Horse. This process is known as Niyoga [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niyoga]. Manu Smriti talks about it. Also Purana mentions the Vedic sage Vashishtha had niyoga with the queen of king Kalmashapada. Swamiji was thanking Sri-Rama, that He deserted Maa-Sita by that time of Yajna, otherwise she could be a victim of priests overnight. Still they were desperately searching her and finally managed with her golden image.

In same letter Swamiji mentions - " A girl of eight is married to a man of thirty, and the parents are jubilant over it.... And if anyone protests against it, the plea is put forward, "Our religion is being overturned." What sort of religion have they who want to see their girls becoming mothers before they attain puberty even and offer scientific explanations for it? Many, again, lay the blame at the door of the Mohammedans. They are to blame, indeed! Just read the Grihya-Sutras through and see what is given as the marriageable age of a girl. ... There it is expressly stated that a girl must be married before attaining puberty. The entire Grihya-Sutras enjoin this.....What I mean by mentioning all this is that there were many good things in the ancient times, but there were bad things too. The good things are to be retained, but the India that is to be, the future India. must be much greater than ancient India. [CW-6]"

Letter date: 6th July 1890:

He writes “Priests, those idiots are beast. Don’t believe them at any cost”

Letter date: 22 August, 1892:

"Poor fellows! Whatever the rascally and wily priests teach them — all sorts of mummery and tomfoolery as the very gist of the Vedas and Hinduism (mind you, neither these rascals of priests nor their forefathers have so much as seen a volume of the Vedas for the last 400 generations) — they follow and degrade themselves. Lord help them from the Râkshasas in the shape of the Brahmins of the Kaliyuga. [CW-8]" Link - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_8/epistles_fourth_series/009_diwanji_saheb.htm

Consequence of Caste Division

Swami Vivekananda - "The caste system is opposed to the religion of the Vedanta. Caste is a social custom, and all our great preachers have tried to break it down. From Buddhism downwards, every sect has preached against caste, and every time it has only riveted the chains. Caste is simply the outgrowth of the political institutions of India; it is a hereditary trade guild. Trade competition with Europe has broken caste more than any teaching. [CW-5]"

According to Swamiji, due to western exposure, industrialization, international competence, the caste system is fading away. 

During his visit to Kerala, Swamiji found severe untouchability.  Kerala is a place where Brahmins used to walk on road with shouting, “Apasara Apasara-move away, move away” from a distance. Swami Vivekananda has mentioned Kerala is a “lunatic asylum”

Those Brahmins even don't touch the shadow of lower-caste people. These lower caste people were forced to hold a pot on their neck to avoid spitting on road and broomstick on the waist so that they can clean impurities on the road while walking.  Lower caste women were not allowed to cover breasts. On seeing a Brahmin on road, they were told to remove upper garments as a show of respect. The strange part was the breast tax to cover breasts. One girl cut off her breasts to protest against the inhuman mulakkaram (breast tax) and died. [Link - http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/200-years-on-nangelis-sacrifice-only-a-fading-memory/article5255026.ece].  

Swami Vivekananda wrote in a letter to Pandit Shankarlal of Khetri, from BOMBAY, in 20th September, 1892 – “To what a ludicrous state are we brought! If a Bhângi comes to anybody as a Bhangi, he would be shunned as the plague; but no sooner does he get a cupful of water poured upon his head with some mutterings of prayers by a Pâdri, and get a coat on his back, no matter how threadbare, and come into the room of the most orthodox Hindu — I don't see the man who then dare refuse him a chair and a hearty shake of the hands! Irony can go no further. And come and see what they, the Pâdris, are doing here in the Dakshin . They are converting the lower classes by lakhs; and in Travancore, the most priestridden country in India — where every bit of land is owned by the Brahmins, and the females, even of the royal family, hold it as high honor to live in concubinage with the Brahmins, nearly one-fourth has become Christian!. [CW-5]”  Link - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_5/epistles_first_series/002_panditji_maharaj.htm. BOLD RED marked line is not translated into English - It is present in Original letter published in Bengali language.

In another lecture “The future of India” he said “Was there ever a sillier thing before in the world than what I saw in Malabar country? The poor Pariah is not allowed to pass through the same street as the high-caste man, but if he changes his name to a hodge-podge English name, it is all right; or to a Mohammedan name, it is all right. What inference would you draw except that these Malabaris are all lunatics, their homes so many lunatic asylums, and that they are to be treated with derision by every race in India until they mend their manners and know better. Shame upon them that such wicked and diabolical customs are allowed; their own children are allowed to die of starvation, but as soon as they take up some other religion they are well fed. There ought to be no more fight between the castes. [CW-5]” Link http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_5/epistles_first_series/002_panditji_maharaj.htm (This article clarifies further details - http://muktipada.blogspot.in/2015/06/kerla-advent-of-polyandry-to-secure.html )

To escape from this severe untouchability, many Dalits got converted into Islam and Christian religions. After conversion they were getting respect from so called upper layer Hindus.


Opening the door of Liberation for All

First time in Indian Hinduism history Swami Vivekananda allowed Sudra (the 4th varna) to join as monks in Asram and worship in temple. Even He initiated many untouchables into Gayatri mantra and gave them sacred thread at Kolkata during the holy birthday of Sri Ramakrishna  and converted them into Brahmin. He said - "Whoever will come here on this sacred birthday of Shri Ramakrishna I shall invest him with the holy thread. These people have fallen from their true status....Each Hindu, I say, is a brother of every other, and it is we who have degraded them by our outcry, "Don't touch, don't touch!" And so the whole country has been plunged to the utmost depths of meanness, cowardice, and ignorance. These men have to be uplifted; words of hope and faith have to be proclaimed to them. We have to tell them, "You are men like us, and you have all the rights that we have. [CW-7]". 

Earlier Veda, Upanishads study were prohibited for Surda. Smriti holds that Veda is not to be read in the vicinity of a Sudra. “Shudra is a living corpse. His tongue is to be slit if he pronounces it; his body is to be cut through if he preserves it.” Swamiji broke this tradition and published Upanishads for the access of all. It was not a simple task to break this old age tradition. Swamiji was highly criticized during his time by orthodox Brahmins and many of his good friends deserted him. But He did not care for the consequence and decided to clean Hinduism single handedly without any fear. (Detailed article –  http://muktipada.blogspot.in/2014/08/six-orthodox-rules-in-hinduism-broken.html )

Why Shudra suffers?

Another interesting thing is pointed to by Swami Vivekananda - Prodigies born in Shudra community have kicked out own community and joined upper layers. Whereas worthless from upper layer have downgraded into Shudra based on Smriti laws... So Sudra community acts as a dustbin in Hinduism. This community is never benefited by the prodigy it has created. So lower caste always remain as lower. He put few queries for lower caste people to seek - "Who told you to neglect spirituality and Sanskrit learning? What have you been doing all this time? Why have you been indifferent?"

This is known as Sanskritization in sociologist terminology, a particular form of social change found in India. It denotes the process by which castes placed lower in the caste hierarchy seek upward mobility by emulating the rituals and practices of the upper or dominant castes. It is a process similar to passing in sociological terms. Link - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskritization

Swami Vivekananda - "Therefore, it is no use fighting among the castes. What good will it do? It will divide us all the more, weaken us all the more, degrade us all the more. The solution is not by bringing down the higher, but by raising the lower up to the level of the higher. And that is the line of work that is found in all our books, in spite of what you may hear from some people whose knowledge of their own Scriptures and whose capacity to understand the mighty plans of the ancients are only zero. What is the plan? The ideal at the one end is the Brahmana and the ideal at the other end is the chandala, and the whole work is to raise the chandala up to the Brahmana. Slowly and slowly you will find more and more privileges granted to them." Link - http://www.dlshq.org/messages/caste.htm

The Swami Vivekananda defines Brahmana as the knower of Brahman, the highest truth - Brahman Janati Iti Brahmana. In his language - "This Brahmin, the man of God, he who has known Brahman, the ideal man, the perfect man, must remain.[CW-3]"

He has clearly discouraged Brahmana caste. Swamiji said to Brahmin caste in "THE FUTURE OF INDIA - "The day for these privileges and exclusive claims is gone. The duty of every aristocracy is to dig its own grave, and the sooner it does so, the better. The more it delays, the more it will fester and the worse death it will die. It is the duty of the Brahmin, therefore, to work for the salvation of the rest of mankind in India. If he does that, and so long as he does that, he is a Brahmin, but he is no Brahmin when he goes about making money.[CW-3]"

Special Privilege and Reservation

Swami Vivekananda, a great visionary, who was the first to talk of special privilege to be granted to unfit community to uplift them into main stream social life. Later Govt of India adopted this concept to provide reservation to lower caste communities. The provisions made in the Articles 16, 335, 338, 340, 341, 342 of the Constitution relate to reservation, protection and safeguards of “socially and educationally backward classes”.

Swami Vivekananda has preached of special care for lower caste people in his talk 'THE MISSION OF THE VEDANTA' - "if the Brahmin has more aptitude for learning on the ground of heredity than the Pariah, spend no more money on the Brahmin's education, but spend all on the Pariah. Give to the weak, for there all the gift is needed. If the Brahmin is born clever, he can educate himself without help. If the others are not born clever, let them have all the teaching and the teachers they want. This is justice and reason as I understand it [CW-3]. Link - http://belurmath.org/complete_works_of_swami_vivekananda/volume_3/lectures_from_colombo_to_almora/the_mission_of_the_vedanta.htm

Swami Vivekananda writes – “If there is inequality in nature, still there must be equal chance for all — or if greater for some and for some less — the weaker should be given more chance than the strong. In other words, a Brahmin is not so much in need of education as a Chandâla. If the son of a Brahmin needs one teacher, that of a Chandala needs ten. For greater help must be given to him whom nature has not endowed with an acute intellect from birth. It is a madman who carries coals to Newcastle. The poor, the downtrodden, the ignorant, let these be your God. [CW-6]" Link - http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_6/epistles_second_series/071_rakhal.htm 

Caste Conversion

Swamiji has also talked of caste conversion as per Vedic Varna system. He suggested few ideas.

1. Revert back to Brahmin-hood: We are all Risi-putra. "The solution is not by bringing down the higher, but by raising the lower up to the level of the higher [CW-3]." The goal is to uplift everyone into the higher dimension of divinity. We need to manifest the Brahmin qualities as mentioned in Gita 18.42 - Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness-these are the qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work. We need to reach a civilization where proper Vedic Varna system based on Guna-Karma will be in place. Then only caste-less India will be possible.

2. Continue self-declaring: "There are thousands of castes, and some are even getting admission into Brahminhood, for what prevents any caste from declaring they are Brahmins? Thus caste, with all its rigor, has been created in that manner. [CW-3]". Instead of crying foul, people can self-declare or correct their castes based on Vedic Varna definition.

3. Rename the whole Community: "Let us suppose that there are castes here with ten thousand people in each. If these put their heads together and say, we will call ourselves Brahmins, nothing can stop them; I have seen it in my own life. Some castes become strong, and as soon as they all agree, who is to say nay? Because whatever it was, each caste was exclusive of the other. It did not meddle with others' affairs; even the several divisions of one caste did not meddle with the other divisions. [CW-3] (Article - http://muktipada.blogspot.in/2014/09/origin-of-indian-caste-system.html)

Facing the Criticism

Swami Vivekananda was never appreciated by orthodox people during his time. In the beginning orthodox dignitaries were denying to come forward to support him publicly due to his liberalness towards caste. But Swamiji did not compromise his ideal. Few orthodox was attacking him saying, - 'He was a Shudra, so he has no eligibility to read and teach Veda.'

The most unfortunate part is – He was not allowed to enter into Dakshineswar temple at Kolkata by those priests. Please note, in the same temple his Guru Sri Ramakrishna was living for a long time. Later Swamiji bought a separate land at Belur for Ramakrishna Mission. After this event, Swamiji did not went to Orissa to visit any temples. So conservative Hindu society even treated him as out-caste. (Article - http://muktipada.blogspot.in/2016/01/vivekananda-was-outcasted-shame-on.html)


References

1. Complete works of Swami Vivekananda, Nine Volumes.
2. Book - Caste, Culture, and Socialism, Author: Swami Vivekananda,  http://www.advaitaashrama.org/Book/Detail/312

Sunday, September 27, 2015

God Incarnation and Ordinary Guru - a contrast

God Incarnation and Ordinary Guru
(By Muktipada Behera)



Introduction:

The theory of Isvara Avatara (God Incarnation) is quite old. It is described in detail in Purana and Itihasa like Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita etc. It is also described in Bhakti Sastra like Chaitanya Charitamrita, Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita and Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. There is no mention of Human Avatara in Veda. May be those portions of Veda mentioning God incarnation on earth is lost. However, Kena Upanishad, Chapter 4 mentions God incarnation as Yaksha in heaven. Devas could not recognize him. So Brahman personified as Uma Haimavati instructed Indra on the eternal truth behind all that is perishable and said – “That Yaksha was Brahman”.

It is undoubtedly true that God comes down to earth in a human form, as in the case of Krishna. And it is true as well that God reveals Himself to His devotees in various forms. But it is also true that God is formless; He is the Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. He has been described in the Vedas both as formless and as endowed with form. He isalso described there both as attribute-less and as endowed with attributes.

Gita 4.7

yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.

Gita 4.8

paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

Everyone is also an avatara based on its past Karmas. Avatar is for devotee, not for Jnani. A Jnani (Individual with supreme knowledge) knows Brahman has become everything including all Human beings.

Explanation of Avatara:

God Incarnation can be explained through the illustration of the ocean and the ice.

Satchidananda is like an infinite ocean. Intense cold freezes the water into ice, which floats on the ocean in blocks of various forms. Likewise, through the cooling influence of bhakti, one sees forms of God in the Ocean of the Absolute. These forms are meant for the Bhaktas, the lovers of God. But when the Sun of Knowledge rises, the ice melts; it becomes the same water it was before. Water above and water below, everywhere nothing but water. Therefore, a prayer in the Bhagavata says: 'O Lord, Thou hast form, and Thou art also formless. Thou walkest before us, O Lord, in the shape of a man; again, Thou hast been described in the Vedas as beyond words and thought.'

Difference between Guru and Avatara:

Even though Vedanta talks of “Each soul is potentially Divine”, there is a clear difference between God incarnation and ordinary Human Guru. Here we will outline few differences.

(1)   General Guru descents on earth based on their past Prarabdha Karma. But God incarnation descents on earth due to “Samasti Prarabdha – cumulative Karma” of whole society at that point of time.

(a)   Brahma sutra 3.3.32 Shankara Bhashya says – Yavadadhikaramavasthitiradhikarikanam.
Perfected souls may take a corporeal existence for divine mission. Of those who have a mission to fulfil existence, they take rebirth in due course of time based on need. Examples are – Vasishtha, Narada, Shankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda etc.

(b)   Brahma Sutra 4.4.17 says - Jagadvyaparavarjam prakaranadasannihitattvaccha.
The liberated soul attains all lordly powers except the power of creation, maintenance, and dissolution of cosmos. Only God has those cosmic powers. So there is a clear division of the ownership between liberated soul and God.

(2)   God Incarnation has three main purposes – (a) paritranaya sadhunam – to save pious human beings; (b) vinasaya duskrtam - destruction of spiritual obstacles; (c) dharma-samsthapanarthaya - Rejuvenation of spirituality. Ordinary Guru is not capable to fulfill this high cosmic demand.

(3)   God incarnation is of Saguna Brahman – Vishnu. Various incarnations get manifested with different power and different qualities or Kala based on social need. For example, Krishna was manifested with complete sixteen Kala – so he was known as Purna Avatara, Rama was born with twelve kala.

(4)   Ordinary Guru transmits spiritual power through Ista Mantra or teachings. Isvara Avatar transmits energy though touch or mere wish. The person can be uplifted immediately and get divine vision. Like Arjuna got the vision from Krishna, Vivekananda got from Sri ramakrishna, on Kalpataru day many got instant spiritual vision by the grace of Sri Ramakrishna, Chaitanya Dev did same for Nityananda.

(5)   God Incarnation has a power to liberate other humans out of grace. They are like a huge ship that can carry many others in bondage. Ordinary guru is compared with a small boat which cannot accommodate many. Human Guru is not capable to liberate others through mere grace.

(6)   God Incarnation demonstrates the moral and spiritual paths relevant to current society. They can change the thought-wave of the society. And then Smritis and other teachers tend to follow that path of reformation. Without God incarnation, ordinary Guru does not have enough power to change this huge cosmic thought-wave.

(7)   Ordinary Guru is a one-man show. Avatar comes with his own group - already illuminated disciples, like Swami Vivekananda along with other fifteen direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna; Hanuman, Bharata etc came with Sri Rama; Gopis, Arjuna etc came with Krishna; same with Buddha and Chaitanya etc. So the teachings preached by an Avatar has a very strong power and future generations get benefited even after the Avatar has left his mortal body.

(8)   God incarnation has ‘oneness’ from birth. They are aware of their divine nature from childhood. They don't need to practice any Sadhana to get it because they are already liberated and came here to help others.

(9)   An ordinary spiritual Guru gets illumination through Sadhana and initiates his disciples in his realized path. Once the Guru departs the physical body, his followed path becomes weak and does not remain as a strong spiritual current for future generation. Normal Gurus will be popular while they are alive. After their death, people usually forget them and their followers are reduced.  

The preaching done by God incarnation will continue forever even after his death. He will become more popular and get more followers over time. For example, Buddha, Krishna are still popular even if they lived thousand years before. Gita preached by Krishna, life of truthfulness taught by Rama - are still influencing Humans.

How to recognize God Incarnation:

(1)   There is no clear way of knowing who God incarnation is or not. Only another enlightened one can say through his divine vision that somebody is a God incarnation. We must look for a reference from another enlightened person or accept it after having proper clue through own Sadhana.

(2)   Most of the time God incarnation reveals himself to their close disciples while alive. For example, Christ, Krishna have disclosed their real nature to their close disciples. Only ten Rishis knew that Rama was an incarnation.  Ordinary human beings could know them after they are dead.

(3)   Based on qualities seen in earlier God incarnation, Hinduism has developed some standards to judge an Avatar. For example, God incarnations always demonstrate the extreme sense of morals or spiritual values, which ordinary human Gurus cannot achieve in their lifetime. Examples are - Krishna dancing with sixteen thousands Gopis, lifting mountain on little finger, Chaitanya dev extreme adherence to ascetic rule, Sri Ramakrishna keeping Brahmacharya while sleeping with his wife, Buddha’s demonstration of highest compassion, Jesus ready to be crucified alive etc.

It is generally seen - every organization tends to declare their originator Guru as God incarnation out of reverence.

(4)   There are scriptural proof and documented incarnations. Well accepted names are (1) Rama (2) Krishna (3) Buddha (4) Christ (5) Chaitanya (6) Ramakrishna etc. They had imparted tremendous power to reform this world. So they will be followed eternally.

(5)    There are so many Avatars incarnated in India. We don’t worship all of them. We worship the Avatar who is incarnated with his divine consort (Shakti) like Krishna with Radha, Rama with Sita, Ramakrishna with Sarada etc. Whereas Parshurama, Kapila muni, Vyasa deva were also Avatar and we don’t worship them because they were partial incarnation (without associated with Shakti)

Conclusion:

All power Lord descends on earth to do Leela, to play with Humans – his children. It is wonderful to play with the creator. Upanishads say - Raso-vai-Sah - He is like nectar. He is the source happiness or bliss.

"One who has been kissed by Thee, his thirst for Thee increases for ever, all sorrows vanish, and he forgets love for everything else but for Thee and Thee alone." Ay, forget first the love for gold, and name and fame, and for this little trumpery world of ours. Then, only then, you will understand the love of the Gopis, too holy to be attempted without giving up everything, too sacred to be understood until the soul has become perfectly pure. People with ideas of sex, and of money, and of fame, bubbling up every minute in the heart, daring to criticize and understand the love of the Gopis! That is the very essence of the Krishna Incarnation.” – Swami Vivekananda.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Brahman and Creation According to Vedanta

Brahman and Creation According to Vedanta
(Muktipada Behera)


Pure consciousness through its Sankalpa [wish] or will-power projects this creation. Like the spider projects the web and later swallows the web inside. Upanishads mention about this Sankalpa of Brahman - "Akoham Vahusyam - I am one, I will become many".

This Brahman has an inherent wonderful power called Maya-Shakti. This makes him omnipotent. Through this Maya Shakti it projects cosmos. People also call this Maya Shakti as cosmic-mind. So this universe is the Isvara's dream creation - known as Vyavaharika Satya. Each individual also projects its dream world while sleeping - known as Prativashika Satya. And Brahman is known as Paramarthika Satya. So all these in living beings and Universe are in God's dream.

Jiva consists of 24 principle centred around 'I-EGO' or Ahamkara. These 24 principles are Pancha Bhuta, Pancha Tanmatra, Pancha Karmendriya, Pancha Jnanendriya, Manas, Buddhi, Chitta, Ahamkara. Jiva is deluded due to Avidya or ignorance of its true nature Brahman. Each soul is potentially divine. However Jiva forgot it - thinking himself as body-mind complex. This ignorance causes suffering.

Brahman is Satya-Sankalpa. So whatever He imagines manifests into reality or materializes immediately. Brahman is the best artist with excellent imagining capacity or potential. The same does not happen to Jiva due to its limitation. Whatever Jiva thinks it does not materialize into reality.

This creation is Isvara's divine Leela. It is created for divine fun or play. However creation is temporary. It manifests and unmanifests periodically. Brahman is eternal and it sustains creation. It is known as Sat-Chit-Ananda - Existence-Knowledge-Bliss.

Upanishads say - Raso-vai-Sah - He is like nectar. He is the source happiness or bliss. 

From one perspective it appears as Nirguna and from another perspective it appears as Saguna for seekers. So the same entity is both Nirguna and Saguna at the same time. Like with full-stomach in waking state, we can feel hungry while dreaming. So both full-stomach and hungry are true at the same time. Nirguna means niskriya [inactive], all attributes appear unmanifested, but it is not powerless. Brahman appears to be devoid of all attributes. Saguna means sakriya [active] with  all manifested triguna - Sattva, Rajo, Tamo Guna. Brahman is always associated with its inherent illusion power. We don't consider illusion power or Maya Shakti as separate because it does not have separate existence. Maya is associated with Brahman like a shadow with body. 












In the word's Sri Ramakrishna (Exerted from book THE PHILOSOPHY OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA, by SWAMI HARSHANANDA)

'God is formless, and God is possessed of form too. And He is also that which transcends both form and formlessness. He alone knows what all He is.' (Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, 871).
Sri Ramakrishna calls the Absolute as Brahman, in Its eternal (nitya) aspect, when It is at rest and inactive. The same in Its sportive (lila) aspect, when involved in the process of creation, preservation and destruction, he calls Sakti or Kali, the same as Isvara or God. So, according to Sri Ramakrishna, Brahman and Sakti are one and inseparable. 'The distinction between Brahman and Sakti is really a distinction without a difference. Brahman and Sakti are one (abheda), just as fire and its burning power are one. Brahman and Sakti are one, just as milk and the whiteness of milk are one. Brahman and Sakti are one, just as a gem and its brightness are one. You cannot conceive of the one without the other, or make a difference between them' (Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, 857).
'God the Absolute and God the Personal are one and the same. Belief in the one implies belief in the other. Fire cannot be thought of apart from its burning power, nor can its burning power be thought of apart from it. Again, the sun's rays cannot be thought of apart from the sun, nor the sun, apart from its rays. You cannot think of the whiteness of milk apart from its milky whiteness. Thus the Absolute cannot be thought of apart from the idea of God with attributes, i.e., Personal God and vice versa. (Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, 856).
'The Primordial Power and Supreme Brahman are identical - It is like the snake and its wriggling motion.' (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)

In Kena Upanishad Goddess Uma Haimavati taught the power of Brahman to Devas. Without His power, the Agni and Vayu are powerless. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Materialism philosophy and Scientific method.

Materialism philosophy and Scientific method.
(By Muktipada Behera)
Charvaka or Lokayata is the ancient school of Indian materialism. It is accepted as a valid school of Indian philosophy - an atheistic school in the Hindu tradition. Brihaspati is usually referred to as the founder of it.
The origins of the Charvaka can be traced to the Rigveda, but substantial discussions on the Cārvāka is found in post-Vedic literature. The primary literature of Cārvāka, such as the Brhaspati Sutra is missing or lost. So we need to depend on secondary literature such as those found in the shastras (such as the Arthasastra), sutras and the epics (the Mahabharata and Ramayana) of Hinduism as well as from the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and Jain literature.
The Carvaka epistemology holds perception as the primary and proper source of knowledge, while inference is held as prone to being either right or wrong and therefore conditional or invalid.
Perception are of two types, for Carvaka, external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind.
Inference is described as deriving a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths. To Carvakas, inference is useful but prone to error, as inferred truths can never be without doubt. Inference is good and helpful. – For example of fire and smoke. When there is smoke, one's tendency may be to leap to the conclusion that it must be caused by fire. While this is often true, it need not be universally true, everywhere or all the times. Smoke can have other causes.
As long as the relation between two phenomena [observation and truth], has not been proven as unconditional, it is an uncertain truth. Such method of reasoning, that is jumping to conclusions or inference, is prone to flaw. Carvakas further state that full knowledge is reached when we know all observations, all premises and all conditions. But the absence of conditions, cannot be established beyond doubt, because some conditions may be hidden or escape our ability to observe. They acknowledge that every person relies on inference in daily life, but to them if we act uncritically, we err. While our inferences sometimes are true and lead to successful action, it is also a fact that sometimes inference is wrong and leads to error. Truth then, is not an unfailing character of inference; truth is merely an accident of inference. We must be skeptics, question what we know by inference.
Though complete truth about this cosmos cannot be known by only perception, still it ignores other methods of knowledge. It analyses all inexplicable events as (a) chance or unpredictability and (b) random or no-cause. This is where it is differing with the scientific spirit. Science does not accept (a) chance or unpredictability and (b) random or no-cause as a valid analysis. Rather it tries to find the underlying pattern of an event. Science sometime uses inference for microscopic events and cosmology. We need to be skeptics on those. And of-course theory changes and science evolves due to this skeptic in nature. 
Advaita Vedanta scholars considers six means of valid knowledge: Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference), Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation), Anupalabdi (non-perception, cognitive proof) and Śabda (testimony of past or present reliable experts). While Carvaka school accepted just one Pratyakṣa (perception).
Therefore, Cārvākas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, soul, efficacy of religious rites, other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions.  It embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects Vedas. They don’t believe in karma, rebirth or an afterlife. Cārvākas rejected conceptions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.
Cārvāka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Cārvāka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Cārvāka did not believe in austerities.
Their scripture states that – “The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste... while moksha is death which is cessation of life-breath... the wise therefore ought not to take pains on account of moksha. A fool wears himself out by penances and fasts. Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings.” -- eat, drink, and be merry – is its philosophy.

There was no continuity in the Cārvāka tradition after the 12th century. But later many Indians got converted into hidden Charvaka due to influence of western science. However if we consider all six means of knowledge, then we will get complete knowledge and more accurate knowledge about creation.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

religion can be studied through scientific method

Religion can be studied through scientific method
(By Muktipada Behera)

What is Scientific method? And can religion be studied using this method?
We are practically the worshippers of science now-a-days. With this tendency, we try to reject whatever we don't understand, by saying it is not scientific.
But what is this scientific method used to look at things? Here is few points.
1. First of all science works with a 'positive spirit' on a fact or event. To begin with, it does NOT reject any event. Rather it accepts the existence of an event occurred in past. And try to study that. Whereas we try to reject from the beginning in the name of science. And wait for USA to study it.
2. Science is based on verifiability. Science goes by data collection. First required data needs to be collected and later studied to find a pattern. If any patten is found, then it is derived into a formula or law. If there is no such pattern found, then more data is collected for further study. So there is no doctrine of leaving aside any event in science. Science never isolate or reject any event occurred. It believes in a rule - if an event has occurred, then there must be a 'cause' behind it. There can not be cause-less event. Science does not believe in accident, rather it believes in incident.
3. Science is based on repeatability. If an event has occurred once in past, then it must occur in future if similar process is followed and same environment are provided. Please note an event occurs through a particular process under an particular environment. So science not only analyses the event, but also it analyses the process and environment. So these three things are considered by science for research. Not just stand-alone event. In this way the repeatability is verified.
4. When can science say anything is unscientific? No. it does not say anything unscientific. Rather it just deny the confirmation. And open it for further study. So science goes with open mind and open question without negating the fact.
5. Always science is associated with theoretical people in the background. They are called philosophers of science or theoretical scientists. They lead and give directions to study in a particular area. They imagine the beginning of creation, what is inside sub-atomic particles, look beyond sky/galaxy, magic creation of life etc. So these theoretical people are equally respected and funded. They don't have proof, but they have logic and possibility. So attitude is quite positive and passionate.
6. Science does not believe in God and religion. However many scientist believe in God and religion. So indirectly God and religion give power or motivation for their work. For example popular scientists like Copernicus, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Mendel, Einstein etc used to believe in God and religion. So they have not rejected God and religion as superstition even though they were best prophets of science. Simply they don't assert their believes on science until it is proved as formula/law. But they don't reject it or find contradictory in their lives or research.
7. Can God or religion be a part of science? Yes. It can be. We need to be positive and include this area of study in science - branch named 'spiritual science'. Both system of knowledge - religion and science - are now inimical in nature due to lack of communication among experts of these fields. It requires cooperation from both sides. The religious people should be open for validation. And science people should approach spirituality with a positive spirit. Now-a-days this approach is missing from both religious person and science people. We need to change this attitude and misconception.
8. Finally it is all about funding and setting an awareness. We need laboratory with conducive environment for religious or yogic study. At the same time interest and dedication is required on religion or yoga subjects. For example to prove a theory many scientists have exposed their body to chemicals (e.g. Chemist Karl Scheele died from tasting chemical hydrogen cyanide and mercury poisoning), to radiations (e.g. Marie Curie killed by radiation, Elizabeth Ascheim killed by X-Rays), by starvation (Alexander Bogdanov killed himself with blood) etc. Are we ready to take these risks for spiritual study? Since spiritual study is a subjective study, we need to expose ourselves and our body/mind for it, if we don't get volunteers for it. Like self-climbing the Everest. Let's practice Yoga or religion in a prescribed manner before saying it is wrong. We should not be coward while approaching religion.
9. Another pitfall is, we look for some foreign jack and john to give any formula/law to Indians. Anything published in USA journals, though silly periodicals, even though it is purely theoretical, lacking all kinds of experimental basis, still we Indians start believing in those. For example Darwin's Theory Of Evolution - There is no proof of monkey converting into Human, The Big Bang Theory - creation came out of huge sound, nobody has heard it, Genetic model theory - there is no such genes proved, it is just a model, Bohr's atomic model - there is no way to prove electron position. These are all theoretical concepts for many centuries and not yet proved through experiments. And we never question them. Is it not a blind belief on science? and why not - because it is preached from USA. But anything talked by Indians, we reject however intelligent they may be.
10. I strongly believe every event can be included in science including religion. It requires positive approach, faith in oneself, requires dedication to find a pattern/law/cause. And we have many intelligent people in religious field like Sankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda etc. We can not reject them in void. Sankaracharya has said - "if Veda says - fire is cold, then put Veda into fire, that will prove whether fire is cold or hot". Such a dedication to truth, even dared to burn own scripture. Sankara insisted on direct-realization of truth by an individual - Aparokshanubhuti. Also Swami Vivekananda has said - "If there is any God, we must see it". He used to ask this question - "Have you seen God?" until he found his teacher Sri Ramakrishna at Kolkata, who said boldly - "Not only I have seen God, But I can also show you, if you want". Then Ramakrishna had to show God to swamiji for his confirmation. How practical and scientific approaches are these facts in religious history!
Conclusion:
And without having all these qualities and without proper investigation, let's not reject any religious event. At best we can accept our ignorance on the 'cause' of that event and get ready for further research. This is what is expected from people while approaching religion and Yoga.