Thank God or else…

When some people thank (their) God for giving them what they wanted – happiness, money, health, etc. – and claim the greatness and lovingness of God because of their own personal experiences, isn’t it unfair to those who are supposedly given the opposite of that – disease, disability, grief and a life of immense and eternal suffering?

Consider a state that does everything for the rich but neglects the poor and takes away even their basic rights as humans –  right to health, education, food, water, justice, etc. Wouldn’t it be unfair to the unfortunate for these few lucky people to praise that state endlessly because of what it does for them?

And, what if the state declares that it will only take care of the people who vote for it again and again and that those who don’t, must be punished forever or at least until they also fall in line? Wouldn’t you call that state an evil state? Of course you will. Then how dare anyone ever say that in order to get the love of God, you must pray and worship endlessly and have complete faith otherwise you would be subjected to eternal damnation even after you are dead? Sounds equally evil to me.

How would you explain the lovingness and generosity of God when a child is born with a permanent disability, is going to live in suffering for its entire lifetime (long or short) and is marked to die with it? When I see someone suffering immensely, wouldn’t it be a corruption of my mind and morals if I should still praise God?

As Epicurus famously quoted:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

The Lord of the Rings – The Best fantasy ever?

LOTR

Isn’t The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien the best piece of fantasy writing ever? If the movies were not fascinating enough, the books are even better.

I read the Hobbit and loved it but ever since I have started reading the LOTR (which is actually a single novel and not a trilogy as people erroneously often call it), I have been mesmerised by the quality of the writing and the depth with which the characters, the locations and the histories have been modelled.

What has amazed me the most is the panache with which the author has composed the numerous and often very lengthy songs throughout the length of the story. For an author to be able to write such a long and fantastic story without losing the reader’s interest is a huge achievement in itself. But when you add to it the fact that he has deviced a seemingly different style of poetry to go along with story, you really start to understand what it is that makes LOTR the best piece of fiction writing ever.

Not to mention the numerous times the novel has run into problems due to printer’s errors, compositor’s mistakes including well-intentioned ‘corrections’ of the invented languages and delicately constructed nomenclatures by Tolkien. Despite suffering from such tragic setbacks, Tolkien kept working on rectifying the problems and the publishing of these books spanned over a decade. At the end, Tolkien has delivered the world’s most fascinating piece of fantasy writing ever to be published. And all this way back in the 1950s.

So, for me, there is absolutely no question about it. There is not and will not be any other book that even comes a close second.

Do you agree with me or do you think there are others better than LOTR?

Moon further from Earth than Sun: Godman

prabhupadaI recently came across this website (http://www.prabhupadanugas.eu/?p=9315), dedicated to Late Srila Prabhupada, anchor of the Hare Krishna Movement of the ISKCON fame, and I couldn’t make up my mind regarding whether they are serious or is this all some sort of a joke.

You wonder why I say this?

Because, though this website is supposed to increase the Godman’s followers even post-humously and add strength to the movement, it makes the mistake of actually and shamelessly publishing a lot of junk that he has preached which no sane person can dare to utter and another dare to hear without breaking out into a fit of laughter and ridicule.

Sample this. The Swami says that man has not landed on the moon (http://www.prabhupadanugas.eu/?p=9315) and explains it in a conversation that becomes absolutely non-sensical after the first 5-6 sentences itself:

They have not gone to the moon (excerpt from conversation with disciples, Perth, May 12, 1975)

Prabhupada: They have not gone to the moon planet .
Paramahamsa: Really?
Prabhupada: Yes. It is far, far away. Their calculation is wrong. They are going to a wrong planet.

Paramahamsa: It must be the Rahu planet.
Prabhupada: Yes, or something else. Not moon planet.

Well, as everyone clearly knows, there is NO Rahu planet. Yet, the godman seems to be unaware of modern (or even medieval) astronomy. Anyway, after this bit, the conversation drifts into looney calculation territory which is mind boggling even for a class 6 student because the swami and the other person keep tying themselves up in knots. Suffice to say that they end up concluding that the moon is further than the sun and then he says it is above the sun (another crackpot conclusion). And then he says:

Prabhupada: Above the sun. How they’ll go? [laughter] They are going to the wrong… bluffing only. I am repeatedly saying, they have never gone, simply bluff. How it is that they brought some dust? So brilliant, it is blazing, full. There is fire blazing.

Another conversation on the same page:

Guru krpa: How is the moon behind the sun?
Prabhupada: Not behind, above.
(ACBSP. 27th May 1975. Morning Walk in Honolulu, Hawaii.)

The moon is really above the Sun? Am sure this is going to piss Newton off because if defies his theory of gravitation Gravitycompletely. And I wonder how an eclipse is caused then. Oh, well, but wait… he has answered that important question also in an equally looney way:

Amogha: Is that Rahu planet closer than the moon to the earth?
Prabhupada : Rahu planet orbit is in between moon and sun. So when it comes in between moon and sun there is eclipse . At night it is eclipse in the moon, and daytime it is eclipse in the sun.

Eclipse in the moon and eclipse in the Sun? I have never heard such preposterous claims in my life and I was shocked to the core. I could not understand if I should simply laugh at everything and let it be. But then I realized that it is extremely sad to know that ISKCON has a huge following world over and this is what they must be preaching to their innocent unquestioning followers, so this is tragic news for humanity.

I really think that all the followers should now attend ISKCON sessions but only for fun and entertainment and not for science anyway.

Oh, and by the way, this is how that webpage concluded considering all the arguments against (none in favour, mind you) man landing on moon:

So as ISKCON devotees we are left with various possibilities :

1) Astronauts did indeed land on the moon, but they did not perceive the world of the demigods (Candraloka) because it is invisible to gross sense perception.

2) The astronauts were deluded by the demigods at some stage in their journey and diverted to the planet Rahu. (SB 4. 29. 69p)

3) The entire moon-landing story is a complete conspiracy, which has fooled millions of people all over the world for over 30 years. (Some say that they filmed the “moon’s surface” in a place in America known as Area 51, according to the TV program.)

So even those concluding from it were nuts? They gave so much thought to the Swami’s arguments that they perhaps didn’t consider a fourth more obvious conclusion:

4) The man was crazy.

 

P.S. I know all ISKCON followers would be fuming by now reading this blog. But please stop here one minute and think and answer one second. Don’t you think it is grossly unfair of you to get angry when everything I’ve state here is the truth substantiated by Prabhupada’s own webpages? And do you really believe that the moon is further from the Sun?

Come on.. You know he was wrong.

The Quotable Atheist

“Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man … living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”
― George Carlin

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
― Christopher Hitchens

“All thinking men are atheists.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
― Voltaire

Serenity

IMG_3110I took this picture during my stay at Stockholm, Sweden, and I found that the city seemed so calm and tranquil even at 4:30 in the evening and the view was captivating. This moved me to take out my camera and capture the shot.

The Symbol of Love

Taj

Took this picture of the Taj Mahal back in April when I visited Agra for someone’s wedding. It is really a magical structure.

Picture post-processed in photoshop.

 

On Love

Love Hearts

I come online many times to this blog and start a new post, like this one, and I want to write something on Love. And I want my post to be carefully worded because I want what I say to mean many things. Yet, when I sit down to think about what I must say, I don’t have words to put forward. It is as if everything I want to say has vaporized and I would rather log-off yet again and wait for the next smart idea to start writing.

But so far as Love is concerned, there are no smart ideas. There are only real or surreal things to say and put forward but has anyone who ever thought and wrote about Love said things plainly enough? No. Or at least I know that I haven’t.

There is something about Love that causes the writer to keep going around in circles trying to build some sort of a palace of thoughts and feelings and emotions from there to address what he wants to say. Any discussion on Love has to make it sound mystical and full of reverence.

And so the point is, it is too damn difficult to say things plainly. There are no simple ways to define how Love is supposed to feel. It means different things to different people and for some people, what, who and how they love is always a big big secret.

The Drops of Life

Drops of Life

This image was taken just after a light pre-monsoon shower in Delhi, India. The remaining drops on water really made the flower more beautiful and lively.

 

It’s not my Karma

Karma

 

Karma, they say, basically means that your good and bad actions or deeds come back to reward or punish you. So, if something good is happening in your life right now, it is because of your past good Karma and if something bad is happening, it must be some bad Karma.

Of course, it is only a concept that people theorize about and it comes mostly from religious texts but, of course, no one can ever know for sure. Well, then why am I writing on this? It is for two reasons.

First, I think it is completely wrong. Why? Because it requires me to presuppose that the Universe is a just place. It tries to fool me into assuming that I am the most special component at the centre of this universe and the entire universe along with the laws of nature are colluding to make things happen with only me on its mind. Or, increase the subset and say it has us – all humans – on its mind. Even then, I feel that once you consider the vast expanse of the universe and our relatively tiny and irrelevant place in it, the concept just stops making sense right then and there. The universe is huge and we haven’t explored even 1% of its size to see if there are any others like us on some other planets. It is so vast that we haven’t yet, and might never be able to discover any other forms of life in it. Yet, we can be so arrogant and self-centred to make this gigantic claim to know that the same universe is designed to run as this rewarding and punishing machine that know exactly what some tiny human did and what he/she should get in return.

Secondly, let us suppose that this concept was somehow acceptable on the grounds that it encourages us to do good deeds increasingly more often than bad ones fearing Karmic retribution. Fair enough. But I am still not too happy with it because now it attempts to do something else that spoils the essence of being human. That it does by telling people that their achievements and failures are somehow magically linked with a past that they might never know to be true (like from “past lives”), thereby fictionalizing our lives. Does it also mean that one’s efforts to achieve something and their emotions and feelings attached to it are basically irrelevant in front of Karma?

We don’t need to find supernatural explanations in everything. Sometimes, things just happen. The essence of being human is in doing and dreaming, it is in rising and falling, it is in flying and hurting. We deeply cherish both our good days and bad days and that is how humanity gets its charm. Let us not trivialize it by resorting to a concept that stinks of wishful thinking and immaturity in order to gain a placebo effect.

Unintelligent Comments

unintelligent

I find it most amusing to read comments made by readers of the news website timesofindia.com on its various news reports. I am only singling out TOI because I haven’t been reading news on any other website and so it might appear that I am only talking about TOI, but my point is not the news site but the intellectual level of the readers in general (myself excluded hopefully).

So, I would like to present a few examples of comments left by readers of some news articles which sometimes have NO RELATION whatsoever to the actual piece of news and even if there is a relation, the arguments are mostly nonsensical. It makes me wonder about the incredibly funny ways in which some people interpret what is being reported and how little they really understand speech and how narrowly their minds respond to intellectual stimulus. And, in all these cases, you will find the complete lack of intellect whatesoever, to the point of being outright idiotic.

As an example, there was a news item today that said that the latest Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism has found that the number of non religious people in India as well as the world has risen over the last 6-8 years and then goes on to give some stats. There is no judging these results, only pure stats. And now, look at what some people’s comments have been:

  • “THIS IS BECAUSE OF UP WALAS AND BIHARIS THEY MAKE YOUR LIFE HELL YOU STOP BELEIVING IN GOD I KNOW SOME PEOPLE IN DELHI WHO ABUSE GOD TOO THEY GONE MAD IN PITAMPURA AND WAZIRPUR INDUSTRIAL AREA
  • “My stomach is full, had been everywhere, enjoyed too much, had beautiful wife & children, Having decent settled living. Now , I am looking for perfect bliss somewhere in temple or church under saddguru. Maharaj ! Now teach me what is religion? Show me the way to happiness. The donkey phase of life I just finished.”
  • Just become Western slave instead–is it?”
  • “God will born, when believing % touch 100.”
  • “Effect of congress rule… Law didn’t punished but why God not punishing corrupt??? If god existed he should have punished all corrupts by now… corrupt die natural death till then he enjoys…. its simple god doesn’t exist…”
  • “If you don’t believe in one god then you will not feel accountable, which will lead to destruction of the society. How can anyone deny existence of god? Anyway atheists are mindless people.
  • The person who call himself an atheist is biggest believer of god. They many not attached to any religion. Because many of the religion has become corrupt because of self styled godman. So called atheist believe in helping the needy in time of distress and helping the society in their own way. They don’t go to the temple or mask or church to please god. They do there work silently without creating divide among the people in the name of god. For me they are true believer of god. They don’t identify themselves with any religion or God.”

Does it just show the depths to which the average intellectual level has fallen?

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