Philosophy & Religion

Philosophy and religion are not one and the same. But, of what use is philosophy if it doesn’t touch religion? and of what use is religion if it has nothing to do with philosophy? Well, that is at least how my thinking works.

My favorite philosopher of the modern age is Bertrand Russell. I don’t understand or follow the philosophers of the past be it Aristotle, Plato or even for that matter the relatively modern greats like Nietzsche. What philosophers say sometimes seems to make sense only during their times and their personal perception of the past as seen during their lifetime. They don’t make much sense anymore. Bertrand Russell on the other hand stays on topic and doesn’t veer off into prose that betrays yours senses. To him and others that I will come across, I do feel inspired by what they have to say about the human mind and our social behaviors.

It is my personal belief that philosophers created God and politicians (kings) created religion. It can also be assumed that only kings listened to philosophers. Hence, who patronized whom and when God and religion became one is difficult to comprehend.

I was deeply religious as a kid. Everything was about God. My success was because of God. My failure was because of God. Luckily, in the Hindu religion, I could chose from thousands of Gods. So, it wasn’t as depressing as locking yourself to one person and that too a man! Women are more comforting and better as Gods. Of course, who my favorite God was kept changing with time. One day, I wondered why so? It didn’t seem to make sense. Something was flawed. I also realized that each one of us have a certain interpretation of God and religion that doesn’t match with any other person’s belief. Even if it was the same God, the same religion or even if it was your parents and siblings. That didn’t make sense either! Something seemed tricky about this entire God business. Since then, I have been reading the works of strong anti-theists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Great and refreshing perspectives came from this side of the Godly business. However, I haven’t turned anti-God although I have been losing respect for religion of any kind as such.

Religion has a lot of good teachings and stories of the good life. For me, they are all philosophers and their works are of philosophy. Not religion. It cannot be stolen by any particular religion as its own. Sankaracharya to me was an Advaita philosopher. The religious identity comes from the fact that he was in Hindu India at that time. Of course, political patronage meant that this was eventually carried forward as a religious belief.

Inspired by one such thought was my interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu epic, as an actual work of religious philosophy. I stretched that thought further to write a book and self-publish it. I called it AHAM, the sanskrit word for “I”.

So much to enjoy learning from the greatest thinkers the world has produced. A never ending journey…A beautiful ride in the mind-bending realm of human existence in this universe….

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Book Review: The God Delusion

The God DelusionThe God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is certainly a strong influencer of rational thoughts in the human mind. It singularly targets religion and shows the hollowness of several beliefs that are no match to the encompassing reality of the theory of evolution. So much to the point that the author mostly talks about the topic of evolution, a specialty of his as a scientist.

Can this book challenge religion in its entirety and dismiss the notion of God? I think not much! It just misses it by a mile. This book is a great and honest attack on militant Christianity and Islamic beliefs through the busting of the holy books and the inherent superstitions. The author disappointingly sets aside other world religions like Hinduism and Buddhism by calling it as all the same in about three lines of text dedicated in the entire book. This makes sense when the modern version of militant Hinduism or Buddhism is taken into account. So, all is not lost in this attempt at sending God to where ‘he’ belongs- nowhere!

But, does God need to be imagined in a human form, with emotions, with human flaws and masculine domination? The author avoids this confusion early on in the book by defining religion and God in the narrow dimension and broad acceptance of human stupidity. Hence, to that extent this book should be a must read and an eye opener to every pseudo-intellectual who calls out the greatness of God but only if he is white, with a cape, a special hat or if he sells a specific special book that is the only acceptable truth in life.

What if God is that scientific mirror outside the human flesh that gives man the power over every other creature that has also been competing on the same evolutionary plane trying to outwit humanity in vain? Science gives acceptance to our human senses to perceive reality. But, what if our senses are also on an evolutionary journey and need to perceive more to accept more?

For all people blinded by the weakness of today’s religion and a weaker God perception, the God Delusion is a must read. But…but….but, will these deluded beings be ready to read this book with an open mind?

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Book Review: Steve Jobs

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A well written biography about Steve Jobs that gets a little too judgmental at times, especially when talking about Steve Job’s not so glamorous personal moments in life. The biographer got exclusive access to Jobs and his network of friends and family to write a mostly balanced account of the latter’s story. This book is more bold in terms of stating vulnerable moments of emotional weakness in Steve Jobs life. This is something I’ve seen less in biographical accounts of generally very famous people who have had a cult like following. Usually the uncomfortable details seem to be missed.

The biographer seems to have been caught in his own personal judgment on charitable acts and the pursuit of money, thereby throwing questionable prose on Steve Jobs’s character. The biographer also seemed to portray a soft corner for the co-founder of Apple, the infamous Steve Wozniak while narrating the stories that involved him too. That seemed shallow and biased in my opinion. The book does read like a thriller at times and rarely do you get to put it down between chapters.

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Book Review: Breaking India -Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines

Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit FaultlinesBreaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines by Rajiv Malhotra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very interesting book that does a good job of identifying all the agents and agencies silently and openly involved in bringing down the fabric of a centralized democracy that is India hinging on a majority religion shaped by other religions and cultures over thousands of years. Going back to the colonial past and throwing light on the work of Christian missionaries in dividing the populace and creating an identity crisis based on race theories, the authors show how the script hasn’t changed much to present day India where under the guise of secularism and human rights, the onslaught still continues. It is amazing to see the organized way in which NGOs, Churches and other institutions sitting within India, funded by global entities primarily in the US and Europe, have created chaos to rule the country without direct power in their hands. The fact that the India media and international media houses at large don’t run any “stories” on such practices, combined with the powerful hand-twisting of finicky and easy-to-buy Indian politicians, has made India very vulnerable to a serious humanitarian struggle waiting to happen. The authors stop short of calling it as a civil war in the making, although a very similar methodology employed by Churches and Western agencies had caused the bloody Rwandan civil war between the Hutus and the Tsutsis.

The authors focus more on the histories of the Dravidian ideology and the Dalit nexus in this book. It is fascinating to look at how a fictitious and laughable premise around the concept of ‘dravidian identity’ (even if assumed to be true for those passionate about it!) has been used to create a separate identity that ventured to tear down the country at one point and the political perpetrators of this movement repeatedly joined hands with disruptive Church agents and Islamic fundamentalists for money and power. Tamil Nadu has been pinpointed as the epicenter of this no-barriers grave situation which on looking at the political situation (outside of the book) is easy to relate to and guess the severe impact it has created in this otherwise progressive state. The other situation is the way in which fundamentalist right-wing Christian organizations with massive money-power have taken over the “dalit” cause and have used it effectively to create chaos and a multitude of problems in India. The situation seems grave as there are no solutions offered in the book to tackle them and even more, it requires more than political will and strong leaders to fight this problem over the next several decades. Can India produce such leaders is a very weak proposition at present!

What I liked further about the book is the final analysis of the situation at hand to bring down India – the three very highly powerful global forces that have all chosen India as their target – Islamic fundamentalism sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Iran and other middle-east countries, China and its rising capitalistic aspirations and the Western interventions through the Church and other means. It looks like there is no respite for India from this onslaught that has been going on aggressively over the past several decades since its independence. It certainly made me have a new found respect for the hard work of the politicians and bureaucrat administrators who have still managed to keep India and the religion of Hinduism alive give all the odds against it. Time will tell who will win this one-sided battle at the global stage – the aggressors or the lone underdog!

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Mayurasana – The Peacock Pose

Trying my hand at Mayurasana over the past one month. Still unable to lift the feet off the ground. Still struggling to hold the bodyweight on the hands. However, this is a great asana and I am already feeling the power of having strength restored to my arms. Focused on practicing more and getting the pose right for a strong upper body.

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Parrots in color

Did some quick color pencil work of two parrots. Used Faber Castell polychromatic color pencils that added a dash of vibrancy to the birds. Getting the feathers right became a challenge apart from using the pencils effectively to get the contrasts. Fun!

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Ganesha, a gift

Yet another work using acrylic paints. This time, it was a gift to a neighbor friend of the family. The image has been copied from a similar work found online. Found the design to be great and was chosen by our friend to make it.

Used ceramic powder with glue to create the textured effect. Used thin plastic sheet and crumpled it on the ceramic mix in order to create the added effect. Took about three days to complete and in time for framing it and gifting to our friend.

Here is the painting on canvas after being framed:

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Mango Picking!

Indian summers aren’t complete without eating mangoes. The more the merrier…

We went on a mango picking trip, driving about 90 kms away one-way from Bangalore to a farm in Krishnagiri in the neighboring state.

Now, that’s what love for mangoes can do to you!

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Summer Trip to Meghalaya

A trip to Meghalaya via Assam. A beautiful state, lush green with vegetation, doubting yet friendly locals, lazy, serene and amazing!!!

It can be expressed only in pictures –

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A Boat Ride to Umananda Temple, Guwahati

You can never go wrong with an ancient temple, in the middle of an island, in the middle of a humongous river (The Brahmaputra)…

A summer trip to Meghalaya, with a stop over at Guwahati in Assam. A personal boat provided by a tout who fleece their customers. The same old queues to enter the temple, devoted people jumping the queues since they are born smart and of course the sultry heat of the city. Nevertheless, a beautiful temple in the city.

The boat –

The island –

The temple –

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