Category Archives: philosophy

Milk is thicker than blood – The cow controversy in India


The Indian cow controversy has gained momentum with the BJP Govt. coming into power. Recently state Governments under BJP rule have come up with open statements claiming anyone killing a cow would be hung. Social media has been in a frenzy ever since saying in India rapists can roam freely while someone who kills a cow is likely to be hung or even become a victim of vigilante justice.

There are two sides – One who wants the beef ban and one who doesn’t want it. While both have their own host of reasons, they both miss an important point that would be covered in this article. I was leaning towards the second category on accounts of personal choice and freedom and didn’t understand the logic behind banning it, but then I thought of discussing it with some educated villagers who spend time with these cows. Their viewpoint is going to be the most important and here are the findings that made me utter, ”Holy Cow”.

 

The first important thing is the relationship between a man and his animal. While BJP propagates Hindutva and cites cow worship over the centuries as the most important reason to ban its consumption, it’s important to realize the reasons for which a cow was or is worshipped in India. This can help clarify.

First of all, Hinduism is not a religion. 

There is no religion called Hinduism. There is no pappacy, no religious book saying how a Hindu should behave. Even Gita doesn’t mention the word Hindu anywhere. Hindus came to be known as such geographically.  The land between the Himalayas and Indian Ocean came to be known as Hindu. So even an earthworm in India is Hindu, just like you say ‘African elephants’.

Hinduism is devoid of rules and conventions. It grew and evolved without any councils and religious books for masses. Hinduism became a way of the society’s organization in the best possible way and spread by stories. These stories were conveyed through literature filled with moral values. Several traditional practices are continued even today. Some of the practices makes sense. Some don’t. However, Hindus have always worshipped something that makes their life useful. There are numerous examples in History that say how Hindus worshipped tools just because it made life easier and people were dependent on it. For any agricultural society, river source and cattle is essential. River provides water, cattle provides milk and other dairy products, if it’s a cow then can be used to plough the field sometimes and dung can be used either as manure to make the land more fertile or as fuel for combustion. With so many qualities in one animal it is no wonder that cow became a subject of worship by the Hindus. There were other animals providing one or more of these benefits, but the quality of benefits provided by a cow over its entire lifetime was huge. Although goat milk is easier to digest, the quantity produced is lesser than the cow milk and lactation period is also smaller. Cows made a special bondage with the owner and even today they are treated like pets. So if you protest killing of dogs in China for meat consumption now you would understand how Hindus have a concern over beef consumption.

 

Need for beef ban

For reasons mentioned above the cow owners from the Hindu section definitely have a point, but instead of giving it a religious turn and blowing things heavily into a political drama, let’s understand the actual need for beef ban.

Times have changed and India has lost its huge variety of cattle stock. Just 200 years ago, there used to be over 120 breeds of cattle and today we have only 37. The population of the native breed of cow has substantially reduced and there is a reason behind this. With many cross breeds available today, the native breed produces only one-third of the milk and lacks economic value as per most of the people.

Need for saving the native breed

The native breed of cow although produces a lower quantity of milk, it has the advantage of being native. The milk quality is good and doesn’t get stale at normal room temperatures in India, while milk from the cross breeds gets stale at temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius. The cross breeds succumb to Indian conditions and diseases more easily. So they are queued up for slaughtering so that leather industry can make use of it. Similarly, the native period is sent to the slaughterhouse much earlier to derive economic value out of it, failing to realize it could provide more economic value in the long-term. Indian breed of cow must be preserved and so should be other breeds, to maintain the quality of dairy and for the smooth ecosystem.

Cows also represent a higher evolutionary animal in the ecosystem than chickens or goats. It is a scientific fact that if you consume beef then some part of it remains undigested and present in your body for rest of the life. Indians have had a habit of failing to preserve something that lacks any economic or social value. So attaching a social value is paramount for people to value it, while passing on the understanding of economic value would take some time. Meanwhile India has become the largest exporter of beef and in many border areas like Cooch Behar cows are sent illegally to Bangladesh for consumption (Sending one cow across the border illegally fetches 5k-7k INR in hand). Before the next generation makes a Facebook page ‘Save cows’ and fails to save them, it is the prime responsibility of existing system to put a check on their depleting population. It should however be done in a legal way and attaching political drama and going to the extent of killing people won’t solve anything. It would only make people more reluctant to bow before the law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 Broken Footprints — Like Me, You are – our fictional reality


27 Broken Footprints-book

This is a teaser of one of the sections from a book that my friend has written. The book is called 27 Broken Footprints and the section is called : Like Me, You are – our fictional reality


Philosophy

A lot of things happen in our times – around us to us to them to him to her to someone you know to someone you don’t know to someone you will never know. It is only those which we choose to care about only those which we care to observe, it is only these which make up our universe. History is always limited to the observer. So is the present. But too many things happen either way. It is up to the observer, it is up to us to choose what we care about.

The Chapter — Like Me, You are – Our Fictional Reality

Setting
Office – Cafe – Park – Her House – Park – Subway – Highway

Themes – So much is happening, what will you observe?
Work place pressure, obsession with fair skin, bullying in high school, popular kids, objectification of women in advertising/media/movies -_- everywhere, low intellect politicians, social commentary by politicians, education, poverty, legal system, status of women in society, perverted human mentality, social norms, stupid social norms, popular culture, rape, vigilantism, rich vs poor, naivety, children.

Character-Her
She is young, ambitious, thoughtful. She is borderline feminist, not too vocal about her views. She writes about what she feels for strongly though. Her thought process on how she understands the patriarchal society around her is laid bare to the readers.  Then something terrible happens to her. And her thoughts change. She writes about that too.

Things you should look our for
Her thoughts followed closely by her articles.
The lizards.
The footnotes, yes please pay special attention to them.
The lizards.
Her last article.


If you have any questions/queries then please leave a comment below and she will get back to you. Her book is called 27 Broken Footprints and it comes out next month.

For regular updates on the book, like it on Facebook.
Photo Credit – This one here.


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Bhagawad Gita post #2 – The background


In order to understand this post please go through my previous post.

Bhisma: Bhisma was the uncle of Pandavas as well as the Kauravas. He is well known for his oath of life-long celebacy. It was Bhisma who had proposed Gandhari’s marriage with the blind Dhritarashtra. He was a very respected figure in the family.
Shakuni: Shakuni was Duryodhana’s maternal uncle ( and Gandhari’s brother). He was very intelligent but very devious too. He saw Bhisma’s proposal as demeaning. He wanted to destroy Bhisma’s clan. Gandhari ( Dhritarashtra’s wife) was married to a goat initially on the Sooth Sayers advice. Dhritarashtra was unaware of this fact. When he got to know this after his marriage, he imprisoned all the members of Gandhari’s family. Shakuni was the youngest brother of Gandhari, among her 100 other brothers. They all were sparsely fed in the prison, only one speck of rice per person for a day. The family thought that by giving all the rice to Shakuni at least one of them could survive and he could live on to take his revenge.

He got himself very close to the volatile Duryodhana. He expressed his discontentment at Bhsima’s decision to chose the eldest Pandava (Yudhisthira) as the next successor  to the throne. He said that his nephew Duryodhana should have been chosen. Shakuni is believed to be the mastermind behind the Mahabharata war.

Shakuni is often depicted as a man dressed in black clothes, sporting a white beard, wearing a half-kireetam, rubbing dice in his hands often and limping slightly while walking.

He was an evil genius who was shrewd to see through things and confident of his skills to undo the opponents. Though his designs to destroy the Pandavas failed one by one, he was still unshaken in his faith to destroy the lineage of Bhisma. He played on the virtues of the Pandavas themselves, to bring problems of serious nature. His main objective was to instigate Duryodhana against the Pandavas. He knew that only a battle between the two could destroy Dhritarashtra’s kingdom so that his revenge could be complete.
Shakuni was a renowned gambler. He always played with a loaded dice and hence enjoyed good fortune in the game. He asked Duryodhana to invite Yudhisthira for a game of gamble, put him to shame and win his kingdom from the game. When Yudhisthira got the proposal he could not refuse to play as being a true Kshatriya he could not refuse to accept a challenge. Inside his heart, he didn’t want to play the game.

The problem with NO EXPECTATIONS


You can’t lead your entire life with the motto ”No expectations!” If you don’t expect anything then you may be at a danger by going near a snake since you are not expecting it to attack you. The key is to be aware of your nature and of everything that surrounds you. Without any expectation you may miss the ‘anticipation’ part.  While one must enjoy the presence of good things surrounding them., some of the things are bad by nature and  there is a need to  avoid those things.

Here’s an old fable that I came across:

 
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

scorpion

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”
Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”

Bhagavad Gita Post #1 – The background


Nearly 5000 years ago, in the Dwapara Yuga,  there were two brothers- Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was the elder brother and had congenital blindness. The throne was therefore given to the younger brother, Pandu. Pandu had 5 children- Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva with Yudhisthira being the eldest. Since they were five in numver they were together called as the Pandavas. Pandu died at a young age. The throne was now given to Dhritarashtra. The Pandavas were very small in age when their father died. After their father’s death, they all were raised in the Dhritarashtra’s palace. Dhritarashtra had 100 sons, called as the Kauravas. The eldest of them was Duryodhana. Both the Kauravas and the Pandavas received their military training from Guru Dronacharya (also called Guru Drona).
Arjuna was his favorite student. Drona was greatly impressed by his dedication and natural talent. Arjuna was considered to be the finest archer among them.

Right from the beginning, the Kauravas used to feel jealous of the Pandavas. Duryodhana was especially jealous of Arjuna because of his talent in archery. When all the children were grown up, Duryodhana wanted the Pandavas out of his father’s kingdom.

Draupadi:  Draupadi wa sthe daughter of King Draupada. She has been described to be extraordinarily beautiful. Her father kept a swayamvara to find the suitable person for her marriage. The princes vying for Draupadi’s hand had to shoot five arrows at a revolving target, while looking only at its reflection in a bowl. Drupada was confident that only Arjuna could accomplish this task. Arriving with his brothers disguised as Brahmins (priests), Arjuna successfully tackled the target, which other kings and prince were unable to accomplish. Arjuna married Draupadi after this incident. Kunti (Pandava’s mother) often advised her sons that they share everything they have (or obtain through Bhiksha, i.e. alms) equally amongst themselves. Upon returning home with Draupadi, on purpose, Yudhisthira addresses his mother first “Look mother, what we have brought. Kunti, unmindful of what Yudhisthira was referring to, unassumingly asked her son to share whatever it is with his brothers. Thus, in order to obey their mother’s order all five accepted Draupadi as their wife.

Krishna: Krishna was Pandavas’ cousin. He is considered to be the 8th Avatar of the Hindu god, Vishnu. Krishna was a very good negotiator and exhibited high amount of diplomacy during such negotiations.

P.S. This post is about the brief introduction of characters and the background in which Gita is set. It is important to understand the characters and the context in order to understand the meaning hidden behind those Slokas mentioned in the book. I will make few more posts regarding what led to emergence of those Slokas, with some more description about these characters!

Bhagavad Gita


I have a passion for reading philosophy. In order to gain deep understanding, I normally try to read the work of  different writers. I have been  intrigued by the works of Aldous Huxley, J Krishnamurti, Confucius, etc. It was during the last week that I came across perhaps the greatest philosophy ever written, the Bhagavad Gita.  It is a 700-verse scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This scripture contains a conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna on a variety of theological and philosophical issues.

Some of the great philosophers and famous personalities have enjoyed uncovering the intricate details laid out in the words of this book.

Here’s what they had to say:

“When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.” ~ Aldous Huxley

“When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“The secret of karma yoga which is to perform actions without any fruitive desires is taught by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.” ~ Vivekananda

There have been numerous comments made by the great personalities. After reading these comments I thought that there must be something unique about this scripture. Gita links religion and philosophy and though I am not a religious person, I thought I should give it a reading considering that so many great philosophers have quoted it as the highest philosophical work. So here I started reading Gita two weeks back. I must say I  came across some of the things that made absolute sense. I have developed a liking for this scripture.

My first encounter with Gita goes back to the year 1997, when I was only 7 years old. At that time my school’s director used to stay near our house. I was supposed to attend moral classes at his place on every weekend. These classes involved nothing but recitation of the Sanskrit Slokas written in the Gita. So I was attending a Gita-chanting class. I could never make out the meaning of what was written there since I didn’t know Sanskrit. Needless to say, I was never bothered in asking the meaning from anyone. By the age of 12, I had developed a very good pronunciation in chanting these Sanskrit words and I had memorized half of the book, without understanding a single word! Yes, not even a single word!  This continued for two more years and then the 14 year old tried to convince his parents that they had tried to torture a 7 year old by sending him to these classes. Actually I wanted to put it in this way, but then I would have received a tight slap. So I told them that I wanted to focus more on my studies and it sounded very convincing to them. Now I did not have to waste my weekend son Gita-chanting and I could play with my friends whole day long. My contact with Gita was broken and I never missed in the coming years. It was only during two weeks back that I started turning its pages again.

There are numerous interpretations of Gita available in  the market. I have chosen a different way to enjoy its philosophy. I have studied Sanskrit in my school for 4 years and I have a  decent knowledge about the meanings of Sanskrit words. I have arranged for a Gita book that simply contains the Slokas and below every Sloka the meaning of the appearing words is mentioned. It’s just like a dictionary explaining the meaning of those words and the reader is free to make his own interpretations. I have found some of the Slokas to be very consuming. Sometimes I make my interpretation withing few minutes while some of the Slokas take my whole day.

I believe Gita is to be read as it is.

When you are reading it on your own, you will find yourself making your own philosophies and comprehending the text in a way that is best suitable for you. I shall be sharing the knowledge that I have gained soon with you people. (See, I am asking you to read my interpretation, such a hypocrite I am 😀 ). I  want to discuss the underlying meaning behind those texts so that we all can make a progress towards our spiritual journey.  Keep checking this space 🙂

Proving god’s existence mathematically


ax^2 + bx + c = 0

I came across this general form of quadratic equations recently while revising my maths portion for an aptitude based exam. Then a thought struck my mind which led to a series of thoughts, No wonder I could not finish my revision before the exam.

There was a long list of properties of the above equation one of which particularly caught my eye. It said that  if one of the roots of the above equation is of the form  “p + iq” then there definitely exists another root of the equation and it will be of the form  “p – iq”.

These roots are called as the conjugate pairs. I noticed that the earth is full of such conjugate pairs.Let us assume that our planet is a quadratic equation

ax^2 + bx + c = 0.

  One point to note is that the members of a conjugate pair are opposite in nature.

The discriminant ‘D’ of the above equation is b^2-4ac. For real roots to exist, D must be greater than or equal to zero.

When  D<0, there is no real root. There are so many places on the earth where life does not exist.Such places illustrate this condition.

When D=0, the roots are real and equal. A married couple is a perfect example of this. The members are together in a pair. This pair is an equal pair of roots as it is different from the conjugate pair where the members are opposite in nature. A mother-child pair can be another example.

When D>0 and roots are non-complex, then there exist two roots with no relation between them(neither equal nor opposite in nature). Of course, they are real.

When D>0 and roots are complex, then they are complex conjugates.

Day-night pair can then be considered as a conjugate root of this equation.

We have love-hate, joy-sadness, tears-laughter as some of the other conjugate pairs. Phenomena like day and night, good and bad are complex in nature as well as consist of members that are opposite in nature.

The most striking feature of the conjugate pair is that the existence of one root guarantees the existence of the other. In mathematical terms, if one of the roots is ‘p+iq’ then there has to be another root which is going to be of the form ‘p-iq’.

If we consider the god-devil pair, it can be considered as the one of the oldest conjugate pairs. Gods and devils are exactly opposite to each other. God represents the good while devil is a representative of the ‘bad’.

A tough challenge for many theists has been to prove the existence of god scientifically. Science rejects the existence of god since there is no scientific evidence about its existence. If proving god’s existence scientifically is so tough then I think people should try to prove the existence of devil. With so much negativity around us proving the devil’s existence scientifically may be a lot easier.

The big question that comes to my mind after analyzing all this is that if someone proves the existence of devil scientifically, then can we mathematically (and thus scientifically) conclude that god does exist, for they both constitute the conjugate pair ?

A joke(no offence to anyone):

Theists may argue that god is ‘a’ in the quadratic equation and since ‘a’ is never zero, god can never be zero and thus god exists!That was easy 😉