• Where is justice?

    Is there anything called justice in this world?

    There are courts and other institutions in every modern societies today but does it always result in the victim getting his due justice?

    I do not believe that the victims always gets justice. It is always dependent on many things like, the awareness about ones own rights in the society, the awareness about the institutions, money to pay the lawyers, the ability to face and withstand societal pressure et al to duly get justice for the victim. Even then with all the resources at ones disposal one may not get justice.

    Then comes the question of Gods. Does the Gods look over us from the top of the clouds noting our every action and finally passes judgements giving the due justice to the victims?

    No. I don’t think there is anyone on top of the clouds judging our every action, rewarding the good guys with heaven and condemning the sinners to hell.

    We can see the worst among humans doing all their dastardly acts and getting away with it without any repercussions. There are so many instances in our society of such acts. The genocide committed by the Pakistani soldiers on their own people is an apt example. Women were raped, men were butchered, religious persecutions were rampant and yet those soldiers got scot free.

    On a personal level, the suffering of a friend of mine comes to my mind. What she had to endure because of the attacks inflicted on her by her own friend was indeed painful. Will she get her justice?

    She might, if she fight her battle by herself because no one else will do it for her. There will obviously be many sympathizers but they will do nothing. No Gods will do her job. She has to do it herself. This is how justice works and rightfully so. If the victims doesn’t act why should others act for them? Even the gods, why should they even care?

  • The intrinsic nature of humans

    What is our nature? Our true nature?

    Is being angry our true nature? Humans, after all have been fighting and killing each other for a long time. Our histories are stuffed with wars and killings and other brutalities to our own kinds as well as to other species. But did those things really brought us happiness, an ever lasting happiness? No

    Is our true nature to be sad and be depressed then? No, if it was so, then all the enlightened beings we know would have been sad and depressed as well. We know they were/are not.

    Then what is our true nature?

    Our true nature is to be happy. We all want to be happy, even the worst among us. We all do different things to be happy, some pursue certain goals; It could be academic, career or other materialistic things, but we pursue those to be happy. Some among us even do cruel things to make themselves happy. Alas, none of this will eventually bring permanent happiness.

    Then what is the real method to obtain this ‘permanent’ happiness?

    It is very simple, many has said and done it before.

    Indulge in selfless activity and it will make you happy. Do good for others, think good of others, without expecting anything in return and you will be happy.

  • Miles to go before I sleep

    Miles to go before I sleep is a poem written by Robert Frost.

    Whose woods these are I think I know.   

    His house is in the village though;   

    He will not see me stopping here   

    To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

    My little horse must think it queer   

    To stop without a farmhouse near   

    Between the woods and frozen lake   

    The darkest evening of the year.   

    He gives his harness bells a shake   

    To ask if there is some mistake.   

    The only other sound’s the sweep   

    Of easy wind and downy flake.   

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

    But I have promises to keep,   

    And miles to go before I sleep,   

    And miles to go before I sleep.

    Robert Frost

    This poem resonates with me so much that whenever I read it, it makes me work harder and muster my energy to march forward.

    The world around us is very tempting, luring us away from our visions we have for ourselves. Instead of letting this nature take control over us, we should take control over it and the pursue whatever the vision that we have for ourselves. The vision of ours will then come true. It has to because, if we take care of the cause, the effect will take care of itself.

    Those writers of Shâstra who do not tend towards work say that all-powerful destiny prevails; but others who are workers consider the will of man as superior. Knowing that the quarrel between those who believe in the human will as the remover of misery and others who rely on destiny is due to indiscrimination — try to ascend the highest peak of knowledge.

    Swami Vivekananda
  • Discrimination based on birth

    Yesterday, I overheard a YouTube video, in which the person (from the “progressive” state of Kerala) in the video was talking about the Varna system. He was a practicing Brahmin (can be roughly translated as a religious priest in Hindu religion). It seemed to me, he was justifying the birth based Varna system.

    Is the discrimination of people based on birth sanctioned by the scriptures of Hindu religion?

    Brahmins denote the Priestly class, Kshatriyas denote the Ruling class, Vaishyas denote the Trading class and Shudras denote the Manual labourers.

    People in Hindu religion were discriminated on the basis of birth for the last 800 years, at least. You can see instances of this discrimination if you go through the Indian history and these discriminations are still present today, although subtly. All you have to do is to check the newspaper and see the “matrimonial advertisements” on it every day. The existence of Caste Panchayats (an unofficial institution to uphold “caste values”), “Honour” killings are all real in southern states as well as the northern states of India.

    Caste and Varna system

    Caste is a Portuguese word and became the official term to indicate discrimination based on birth after the 1871 census by the British. Caste came into existence because of the multiplication of Varna system. Since, originally there were only four Varnas and later it got multiplied and each varna came to have numerous sub varnas under it and to be honest, today it is a very complex system. Anyway the British grouped them all under the tag of caste in the 1871 census making it much more complex.

    Now you can argue that, in the earlier times Varna was not based on birth but it was based on a persons occupation. If it is based on occupation then it cannot be called discriminatory as we practice this in all societies even today. For example, an Administrator of today can be a Kshatriya and a Businessman of today can be Vaishya and so on.

    In fact there are hymns in Rig Veda which states:

    “I am a reciter of hymns, my father is a healer, my mother a grinder of corn. We desire to obtain wealth through various actions

    Rig Veda 9.112.3.

    O Indra, fond of soma, would you make me the protector of people, or would you make me a ruler, or would you make me a sage who has consumed soma, or would you bestow infinite wealth on me?

    Rig Veda 3.44.5

    This is also accepted by BR Ambedkar, a social reformer from India.

    Particular attention has to be paid to the fact that this (the varna system) was essentially a class system, in which individuals, when qualified, could change their class, and therefore classes did change their personnel.” (Writings and Speeches, Vol. 1, P.18).

    BR Ambedkar

    Hence, there are evidences for such an argument. It maybe such that, the Varna system got degraded later and it multiplied, becoming numerous (now called as caste) during the later part of our history.

    But the problem that I face is that, how can I be so sure that the scriptures, especially the Shrutis (the Vedas) do not justify or they do justify birth based discriminations? They are not written in Malayalam, Hindi or English, the languages I know. They are written in Sanskrit, a language I do not know.

    So, to a be a Hindu and not to know Sanskrit can be a death knell. It is like not knowing your family and being always dependent on someone else to know your family. Someone else, here means the translations of other languages. Sanskrit being a very complex language can be mistranslated easily as well.

    Hence I have to learn Sanskrit including the Vedic Sanskrit, if I ever want to come at a conclusion regarding this issue ie “the birth based discrimination” and also to understand the Hindu religion in general. Hence it can be aptly concluded that, learning Sanskrit is the key to unlock Hindu religion and also to clear various misinterpretations regarding it.

    My idea is first of all to bring out the gems of spirituality that are stored up in our books and in the possession of a few only, hidden, as it were, in monasteries and in forests — to bring them out; to bring the knowledge out of them, not only from the hands where it is hidden, but from the still more inaccessible chest, the language in which it is preserved, the incrustation of centuries of Sanskrit words. In one word, I want to make them popular. I want to bring out these ideas and let them be the common property of all, of every man in India, whether he knows the Sanskrit language or not. The great difficulty in the way is the Sanskrit language — the glorious language of ours; and this difficulty cannot be removed until — if it is possible — the whole of our nation are good Sanskrit scholars.

    Swami Vivekananda
  • Om

    I was reading Swami Vivekananda’s commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga sutras and I came across the verse “तस्य वाचक् प्रिव् ॥ २७॥”, which in English means, “His manifesting word is Om”.

    Here, Swami Vivekananda explains about “Om” in a very lucid manner:

    “Every idea that you have in the mind has a counterpart in a word; the word and the thought are inseparable. The external part of the thought is what we call word, and the internal part is what we call thought. No man can, by analysis, separate thought from word. The idea that language was created by men—certain men sitting together and deciding on words, has been proved to be wrong. So long as things have existed there have been words and language. What is the connection between an idea and a word?

    Although we see that there must always be a word with a thought, it is not necessary that the same thought requires the same word. The thought may be the same in twenty different countries, yet the language is different. We must have a word to express each thought, but these words need not necessarily have the same sound. Sounds will vary in different nations.

    Our commentator says “Although the relation between thought and word is perfectly natural, yet it does not mean a rigid connection between one sound and one idea.” These sounds vary, yet the relation between the sounds and the thoughts is a natural one. The connection between thoughts and sounds is good only if there be a real connection between the thing signified and the symbol, and until then that symbol will never come into general use.

    Symbol is the manifestor of the thing signified, and if the thing signified has already existence, and if, by experience, we know that the symbol has expressed that thing many times, then we are sure that there is the real relation between them. Even if the things are not present, there will be thousands who will know them by their symbols. There must be a natural connection between the symbol and the thing signified; then, when that symbol is pronounced, it recalled the thing signified.

    The commentator says the manifesting word of God is Om. Why does he emphasise this? There are hundreds of words for God. One thought is connected with a thousand words; the idea, God, is connected with hundreds of words, and each one stands as a symbol for God. Very good. But there must be a generalisation among all these words, some substratum, some common ground of all these symbols, and that symbol which is the common symbol will be the best, and will really be the symbol of all.

    In making a sound we use the larynx, and the palate as a sounding board. Is there any material sound of which all other sounds must be manifestations, one which is the most natural sound? Om (Aum) is such a sound, the basis of all sounds. The first letter, A, is the root sound, the key, pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or palate; represents the last sound in the series, being produced by the closed lip, and the U rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding board of the mouth.

    Thus, Om represents the whole phenomena of sound producing. As such, it must be the natural symbol, the matrix of all the variant sounds. It denotes the whole range and possibility of all the words that can be made. Apart from these speculations we see that around this word Om are centered all the different religious ideas in India; all the various religious ideas of the Vedas have gathered themselves around this word Om.

    What has that to do with America and England, or any other country? Simply that the word has been retained at every stage of religious growth in India, and it has been manipulated to mean all the various ideas about God. Monists, Dualists, Mono-Dualists, Separatists, and even Atheists, took up this Om. Om has become the one symbol for the religious aspiration of the vast majority of human beings.

    Take, for instance, the English word God. It conveys only a limited function, and if you go beyond it, you have to add adjectives, to make it Personal, or Impersonal, or Absolute God. So with the words for God in every other language; their signification is very small. This word Om, however, has around it all the various significances. As such it should be accepted by everyone.”

  • Distractions

    When we work for a goal, sometimes we get distracted during the process. Unfortunately many of us do not recover from this slumber. We give up on our goal and move on.

    Distractions are bound to happen, especially in these times. The world is moving at a faster pace today and there are a lot of “entertainments” for us now, unlike the past. So it is natural for one to get distracted. But should that result in quitting from ones pursuit?

    No, we should not quit. We should learn from our mistakes, improvise and move forward. There will always be distractions and other obstacles in our path. If ones goal is nobler, then the obstacles will be more but one should not lose faith. We should believe in ourselves and always move forward.

    As Yama says to Nachiketa in Katha Upanishad, “Arise! Awake! Approach the great and learn. Like the sharp edge of a razor is that path, so the wise say—hard to tread and difficult to cross.”
    Or in the words of Swami Vivekananda “Arise awake and stop not until the goal is reached.”

  • The purpose of life

    Life is funny at times. At some point you believe you know everything about a person. Then suddenly something sprouts up, that change your entire opinion about that person.

    I believe it happens to all of us. We all had some bad experiences. It is the law of nature that, not everything is a bed of roses. But then why should we let that bad experience define us? These things come and go but only when you let these things define you, you end up feeling terrible.

    When one understands his true identity and believe in it, nothing that happens in his materialistic life will have a bearing on him. It is only when we are deluded and relate ourself with these materialistic objects that we feel pain and misery.

    So the goal of ones life should not be to cling to some materialistic things but to understand our true identity. In identity, I mean, “What are we? Why are we here at this point of time? Is our existence a mere coincidence? or is there something else?”

    I am not asking you to leave your materialistic objects or desires. Use them, but use them wisely. But don’t let them use you and always have an understanding of your true nature. If you do not know it yet, seek for it and find it. Realise it yourself.

    As Swami Vivekananda said, “The Rishis (Sages) of old attained realisation, and must we fail? We are also men. What has happened once in the life of one individual must, through proper endeavour, be realised in the life of others.”

  • The Irony.

    As the Exit polls of state elections were announced today, I noticed something. In fact it was not for the first time that I noticed this. It has been going around for ages and exists in all the so called progressives states of India.

    Why do you have to publish exist poll results and divide it on the lines of peoples religion, caste, gender, education and what not? The so called self proclaimed fourth pillar of democracy has been doing this meticulously for ages. They will talk about unity in diversity and all other fancy stuffs every day in their opinion pages/editorials/debates etc but keep on reminding us we are different at the poll times.

    Should the politicians also be blamed here? They too woo people on the basis of religion, caste, gender and et al. But I do not blame them because they do so because people are comfortable with it. If the masses turn their backs to these divisive appeals they will stop indulging in such activities. After all they want to “win” elections.

    But what about the self proclaimed 4th pillar of democracy? They do not stand in elections (thank god for that). They do virtue signalling 24×7 but end up doing these divisive things. During elections (which happens in India literally every year) the ‘national’ newspapers dedicate couple of pages everyday to tell us whom a particular community will vote. They do analysis of communities based of their religion, caste, gender et al.

    I wonder when all these things stop. It would do the world a whole lot of good if the virtue signallers ended up practicing what they preach. But has it ever happened? Sigh!

  • A treatise on Hope.

    What is Hope?

    Hope means to cherish for a desire with anticipation. It helps one to live in the belief that something good will happen for him in the future.

    I used to be hopeful. Yes I “used” to be, now I am not. A wonderful reading on the commentary of Geeta by Swami Chinamayananda made me think otherwise.

    Hope represents the FUTURE. The FUTURE is not something that is within our grasps. It has not arrived yet hence why waste time on it? Similarly the PAST. The PAST is long gone and dusted. It is over. It will not define you unless you allow it.

    All we have to make a difference is the PRESENT. We should use our PRESENT judiciously. It is the time given to us to to achieve success and glory and how we use our PRESENT determines our future. We should fully immerse ourself in the activity without being attached to the result and such an inspired work is sure to bear fruit.

    As Krishna says, “Perform action, O Dhananjaya, abandoning attachment, being steadfast in YOGA, and balanced in success and failure. Evenness of mind is called YOGA.” (Chapter 2, Verse 48)

  • The Injustice done by the ‘learnt’.

    Brahmaswam Madham in Thrissur, Kerala is an ancient vedic institution that imparts Rig Vedic studies. For those who don’t know, Veda is the Holy book of Hindus and the Rig Veda belongs to the ritual part of Veda. The ritual parts of Veda are used in prayers in the temples even today.

    Although I have never been to Brahmaswam Madham, I met a person who studied Veda there. He told me that even the wind that blows in the Madham can help one attain moksha or salvation. It maybe true but what I don’t understand about this institution is that they only teaches Rig Veda to the children of Brahmins. Now why is that? What make the child of a Brahmin different from others?

    After all, the last greatest intellectual and the most successful scholar of Veda from Kerala was Sree Narayana Guru. He was not a Brahmin, still he learnt Veda. He was a great scholar of the Upanishads, the Knowledge or the Philosophical part of Veda. Sree Narayana Guru used the knowledge of Veda by helping to raise the social status of the community into which he was born. The SNDP that he found was so successful that it became an inspiration for the formation of NSS (an ‘Upper’ caste organisation) by Mannathu Padmanabha Pillai.

    Sree Narayanaguru achieved what Dr Ambedkar failed in doing. He uplifted the Ezhava community who were once toddy tappers in Kerala to an affluent society today. This is why I called him the last ‘successful’ scholar of Veda from Kerala. So my question is, if Sree Narayana Guru has learned Veda and put its teachings into good use then why cannot others also do it? If others not belonging to the Brahmin ‘caste’ also has the ability to learn Veda and become successful like Sree Narayana Guru then why not open your institution to the children of other ‘castes’ too?

    This is a very important issue. I know there are other institutions which offer the study of Veda to all those who are interested. But problem is with the quality of their teachings. Brahmaswam Madham has a rich history. It was a disciple of Shankaracharya who established the Madham. The institute is teaching the ritual part of Veda for hundreds of years and most of their students occupy posts in temple administration as Shanthis and Melshansthis.

    There are Shanthis from the ‘lower castes’ too these days but they are mainly confined to small temples. The high profile temples like Guruvayoor in Kerala only open their Shanthi posts to Brahmins. The monopoly of Brahmins in these temples will only be challenged if ancient institutions like Brahmaswam Madham will open their doors to students other than Brahmins. Students of ‘all gender’ irrespective of their ‘caste’ should be admitted into these institutions. After all Gargi and Maitreyi, whose discourses form a main part of the Brihadaryanka Upanishad were women. Gargi even contributed hymns to rig veda and was a revered sage of her times.

    The Upanishads that is the knowledge part of Veda says ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ which means I am divine. There is no religion or literature which is as empowering and fearless as the Upanishads and yet people who run Brahmaswam Madham has not realised it.

    “I am It; I am It. I have no fear, nor doubt, nor death. I have no sex, nor creed, nor colour. What creed can I have? What sect is there to which I should belong? What sect can hold me? I am in every sect!”

    These are the words of Swami Vivekananda and this is what the Upanishads, the Philosophy of Veda tell us. Then why should we segregate people on the basis of caste and gender? The one who has read the Upanishads or the Geeta will know the meaning of Brahmam or the Self. Brahmam doesn’t have a caste nor a creed nor a gender.

    I hope the people who run ancient institutions like Brahmaswam Madham realise their mistake. Their act is against the very philosophy they adhere too. I know it will change someday. After all everything in this universe is subjected to change but the question is when?