MY RELIGION IS NONE : A REPEAT

December 14, 2014

I think this blog of mine, written more than two years ago, has reasons for being  repeated periodically. One, because it might come handy when I conk up whenever and wherever, and two, it reflects my true thoughts.

August 6, 2012

“Religion?” was the next question on the hospital admission form. I had come in for an angioplasty on the advice of my good friend and physician, Dr. Georoge Ommen. My family hadn’t been told, for I did not want to alarm them.

I wrote : None.

The hospital clerk, who was watching me filling out the form with all the interest that a hospital clerk could possibly muster, looked alarmed. She stretched her bangled hand and stopped my bare one right  at the end of the word, not allowing me to proceed writing something even more preposterous in the next blank.

“You have to write the name of your religion,” she said.

“But I have none,” I persisted.

None was a religion she hadn’t heard of. Rather alarmed, she called the admission supervisor.

The suited-and-booted young supervisor lent his ears to the girl, who whispered to him. It was evident that the guy enjoyed the proximity of the whispering lips to his ears despite the alarming situation. Who ever heard of a patient with none for his religion?.

“Sir,” he turned to me. “There are reasons why we ask for the religion of a patient being admitted for an invasive procedure. Particularly when you are not accompanied by a close relative”

“I know”, I said. “You would want to know what to do with my body if I kick the bucket. Whether to bury or to burn”.

Now the girl was truly and surely shocked. The man wore an embarrassed smile.

“”I am not putting it that way,” he said.

A prime need for  religion is the fear of loss, failure, catastrophe. Death is a concoction made of all that. Whether to bury or burn  the dead is important because, if one’s religion consoles the dying that soon he or she would be resurrected to be forgiven by God simply because a man called Jesus had paid for his sins even before he had committed them, there is the other that says that  the dying body is a mere garment to be discarded, that one would  get back one’s life in some other form, hopefully a better, handsomer and richer form provided the right praises had been showered on God and his Wife before dying. If you are facing death, you need a religion. Here I was, facing the very thing, and yet being frivolous.

I knew I simply had to have those painfully thumping blocks in my heart opened out, but I wasn’t prepared to let the girl and the supervisor know that even a patient with none for religion is not in a hurry to die. So I wrote out a note for them to keep:

1. I am aware that although the doctors and the medical staff involved  would do their best, there is a possibility that I might die during the procedure. They shall not be held responsible if such an event happens.

2. If I become serious or die, I want so-and-so and so-and-so to be informed by telephone numbers such-and-such.

3. If I die, my organs may be donated to any poor and needy patient; if there is nothing that can be usefully recovered, I shall have no objection to the body being donated for educational purposes.

3. The remains of the body will be cremated in an electrical or gas-fired crematorium. Please don’t cut a tree or a piece of sandalwood. I might have broken a twig or cut a flower, but have done no major damage to trees while living. Don’t change that my one good habit.

4. Nobody – not even my wife –  will be allowed to read to me or my body a religious book while I am lying in the process of dying or awaiting the funeral. If a book has to be read to my corpse, one may read a Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde or Changampuzha Krishna Pillai.

5. Never let a priest of any religion or caste near my body. Gita, Bible or Quran are absolutely forbidden, Please,  I have read them all while alive. KNOW ALL MEN HERE PRESENT THAT I HAVE NO RELIGION.

6. Do not allow anyone to noise-pollute the air around my body by chants of any kind. I include Gayatri in the forbidden list.  If my loved ones want to shed a few tears, let them make it short, even if poignant. Thank you for being good to me while I was around and possibly  irritating .

7. Please add no animal products to my body to speed up my travel to heaven or hell. I include milk and cow dung or cow urine  in the banned list.

By the time I finished writing, a small crowd had gathered around the table. Some chuckled, others looked less amused. A sensible  intern brought a form, meant for eye donation to another hospital, for me to sign. I obliged him.

My dentist friend who stood in for my family until I allowed him to inform them later told me sarcastically : “You could have written ‘Atheist’  instead of a senseless ‘None’ “.

“No,” I said, “atheism is a religion like any other. Both depend on faith or belief rather than evidence. What is the difference between “Jesus is my God the Lord” , or “Allah will burn you in fire, pour boiling water into your parched throat and make you drink festered pus” and “I believe there is no God?”.

That said, my angioplasty ended in disaster.The surgeon concluded that I was among the statistical five percent whose stenting procedure tended to fail. My wife decided that those five percent must be the ones who had no religion.

A couple of months later, I was admitted to a heart institute.  A deft and deservingly reputed  surgeon – Dr. Ramakant Panda – re-wired my arterial grid, educating me in the process that even men have mammary arteries and that I could usefully employ my left hand after donating  a major part of its artery to my heart.

At admission in that hospital, I had again written that my religion was None. When I recovered, the kindly anaesthetist congratulated me on what he called my ‘will’.

It has been many years since. I still carry a copy of it in my wallet.

VR KRISHNA IYER: SEE YOU LATER, YOUR HONOUR

December 9, 2014

Justice VR Krishna Iyer hit a century and retired on December 4th  of this dying year– nineteen days  after the city of Kochi in Kerala celebrated the landmark. The other landmark he left behind was of  seven hundred memorable Supreme Court judgments – a century for each year of his tenure.

As a young lawyer apprenticing with his father, Krishna Iyer  represented the cause of peasants and poor workers. He was probably the only judge (though politicians may be plenty) in the history of India who went to jail as a young man (for protesting against torture in interrogation), and the only one who served as a minister in the first elected Communist government. EMS Namboodiripad sent a special mission in the person of irresistible  Gowri Amma (Then Gowri Thomas) to  persuade this independent member to join the ministry and handle the burden of a number of portfolios including law. When Nehru ignored his advice not to dismiss a constitutionally elected government, he (nehru, the great democrat) set a bad precedent for the central government of every shade to follow without a trace of conscience.

  Many branded him a communist. He was an ardent believer in afterlife, so I do not think that dialectical materialism could have appealed to him. He lost his wife Sarada when he was sixty and believed that he could communicate with her through a “medium”- the wife of a brother judge.  His wife, after she was dead for some time, warned him not to drive his car because it could lead to an accident – and it came true, he said. Out of his 100-odd literary works (another century!) one is on Afterlife.Krishna Iyer Tulasi Kakkat

  “I was never a communist,”  Iyer said, “though I share their socialist dimensions“.  In his book “Off the Bench”, Krishna Iyer Quoted Bernard Shaw :

“I am and have always been, and shall now always be, a revolutionary writer , because our laws make law impossible, our liberties destroy all freedom ; our property is organized robbery; our morality is an impudent hypocrisy; our wisdom administered by inexperienced or malexprienced dupes; our power wielded by cowards and weaklings and our honour false in all points. I am enemy of the existing order”  (from Shaw’s preface to Major Barbara, pages 43 — 44)

 With all my admiration for his judicial wisdom and sense of fairness and justice, I was shocked when as the vacation judge of the Supreme Court  in 1975, he allowed Indira Gandhi  to retain prime ministership of the Country without the right to vote. She had been disenfranchised by a Court, and unless that sentence was quashed by a larger bench later, she had no right to continue. A minister had to become a member of Parliament within six months if he or she was already not a member; Indira Gandhi’s membership was taken away by a legally constituted  court and  she was not fit to continue or to seek reelection as the law stood at that time.

As a junior vacation judge, he could have given a stay till the vacation was over and a regular bench was constituted by the Chief Justice. Krishna Iyer was not the kind who ran away from making a decision. Indira Gandhi’s lawyer Nani Palkhiwala warned him of the terrible consequences that could follow if the stay was not granted. There was a surging crowd outside sloganeering in favour of Indira Gandhi. Undaunted, but not exactly unmindful of what could happen if the interim appeal was unceremoniously dismissed, Iyer wrote a partial stay at 2:30  AM in the morning.

Indira Gandhi grabbed the chance to thwart Constitution and subvert law with retrospective effect. I was a witness to how she misused every government machinery – public transports, cars, government employees et al – to hold demonstrations against the judgment in the road circle outside her house. A rubber stamp parliament decided that, with retrospective effect, the Prime Minister cannot be convicted for any offence. She declared Emergency which took away the rights of citizens.  Democracy stood insulted and injured; questioning intelligentsia was jailed; ordinary citizens tortured and killed. India suffers from the fallout of her action till today.

A crime by an acquitted criminal cannot be blamed on the judge who acquitted her : I do not recall Iyer reacting to the criticism on that judgment either way.

Iyer was not on the Supreme Court bench that ruled that the citizen had no right – by implication right to life – under the Emergency. If he was there, I am sure he would have sided with the other brave heart, Justice HR Khanna.  Khanna, though senior, was superseded by Justice Bhagwati for toeing Indira Gandhi line (which, according to him, was done on the dictate of Sathya Sai Baba) and Iyer never stood a chance though he served as a judge of the Supreme Court for seven years.  While there, among many of his historic judgments, he stopped the practice of handcuffing suspects and convicted prisoners. Judicial activism began with Justice Krishna Iyer. I believe his legacy had a great impact on the judges who came later.  Shortly before his death, unable to walk on his own and helped by two men, he visited a woman tortured by police and helped her out of her predicament and further persecution by the same police.

In 1999, before accepting the Padma Vibhushan award, he phoned the President – KR Narayanan – if the award would mean he couldn’t criticize the Government.  Certainly not, said the president, which is how Justice Krishna Iyer accepted  his Padma Vibhushan – the highest civilian award.  Iyer, of course, never let up his criticism of  the government, any government. A year ago, he sat on a dharna demanding a cancer hospital for Kochi. There was no subject of human interest that was not in Krishna Iyer’s kitty. Though he held no executive power, he had done much for the improvement of his adopted  city, Kochi, and every one there –fisherman, vegetable vendor, sportsperson, lawyer, judge, writer – knew him, and was grateful to him for one or another reason. His one hundredth birthday celebration turned out to be a citizen’s celebration.

Former additional solicitor general and senior Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising wrote:

“I was deeply touched by a photograph of Justice Iyer in The Hindu published after he died as a reminder of the man he was. There he was being assisted by his care givers, one on each side, unable to stand on his own, visiting a woman victim of police torture. It brought tears to my eyes, he made old age and disability vanish in that one moment.”.

Iyer described  himself an anaemic enemy of the existing order trying to make feeble attempts at changing it, Perhaps those attempts were not all that feeble;  changes he did make many; anaemia came to him only during the last days when he suffered renal failure.

His house in Ernakulam is named Sat Gamaya – go on the right path. VR Krishna Iyer  never retired while he was here with us.  If there is an afterlife as he believed there is, you would find an activist  working furiously up there, giving the angels a lesson or two on justice and fairplay, forcing Satan to put out his furnaces.

Being something of a doubting believer in afterlife myself, and not hoping to be a centurion, I am looking forward to meeting with  Vaidyanathapuram Rama Iyer Krishna Iyer some time not far too distant..

Till then, Your Honour.

OMG, THE SUPREME GOD IS IN JAIL

November 23, 2014

Rampal in jail

There are seven vital places in your body, of which five are significant. Ganeshji sits on the small of your back; Vishnu and Lakshmi sit on your genital area, Brahma somewhere in between, Shiva and Parvati over your heart, and Durga on your nape.

“Two chants  are important for you. Previously only one, as taught by Guru Nanak was important, but now two are vital. If you have faith, even if the doctor had given you up, you will be totally cured, cancer or Cancer ka baap (father of cancer), cure is Guaranteed. If this Supreme Soul chants the first one within your earshot and you repeat the chant after him, He guarantees that you would not die, and supposing you die, despite the divine guarantee, then He guarantees that you would take human form in the next birth, nothing less. If you learn both chants and repeat them, He guarantees that all your sins will be forgiven and you would take human form, birth after rebirth and live blissfully until you attain moksh, salivation. That is also guaranteed. Thousands of people in the audience can bear witness to this serial guarantee.

“The Supreme Soul commands that you must not go to temple or on pilgrimages, or worship Shiva, Vishnu or the Brahma. Do not hold funeral rites. Anyone can light the funeral pyre. No need to throw the ashes in the Ganges or running water. Just let it lie there. (Makes sense to me). Smoking, drinking and adultery are prohibited.

“Do you think the trinity of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma are the Supreme Souls? You are mistaken. They are perishable gods. Their father is Kaal, and mother Durga. It is no use worshipping them. Obtain gyan (true knowledge) from the Supreme Soul..”

Now, who is this Supreme Soul? It is Satguru (True Teacher) Shri Rampal Ji Maharaj; He is the eleventh in line of the true Supreme Soul. He is the Destroyer of All Sufferings’. The Incarnation of God for whom everyone has been waiting for ages has descended to Haryana. The Prophecies of all the Foretellers of the World e.g. Prahlad Bhagat in Janm Sakhi Bhai Bale Wali, Jaigurudev of Mathura, Nostradamus, Lady Florence of New Jersey America, Prof. Cheiro of England, Hungary’s astrologer Boriska Silvigar, Dr. Zulvoron of France, American Charles Clark, Mr. Gerard Crise of Holland, American futurist Anderson, Jean Dixon of America, G. Vegilatin, talk about a “Greatman” (Mahapurush) who has taken birth in a Rural area in Northern Part of India

So you have white men’s prophesies to ratify the above truth. White men’s prophesies and certificates establish (‘guarantee’) the truthfulness of any Indian god’s claim to godhood. Recall Bhagwan Sathya Sai Baba who always had a few whities accompanying him to convince the brownies of his godhood.

Satguru Rampal Ji Maharaj, the current Supreme Soul has Indian witnesses as well on record, too many to name here. Among those who eulogize his powers, on the verge of devotional tears, is an ex-policeman who was assigned to guard the God when He was previously lodged in jail, his former jail warden (both probably thrown out of their jobs in the cause of their devotion), an IAS Officer and  woman of the Arya Samaj  are among the video-taped witnesses. You would also come across the testimony in parrot-like narration of a, six-year old girl who tells you the wonders of the heaven, Satlok, that the Supreme Soul took her to and showed her around. She had a glimpse of hell as she was being led to the heaven, but Rampal JI Maharaj instructed her not to look.

Incidentally, it has not occurred to anyone yet to look into the angle where gods take little girls and boys to see heaven. We have heard of Sathya Sai Baba who took little (mostly white) boys to arouse their kundalini and showed them heaven as well. Some children complained that only Baba’s kundalini was aroused.

How do you know that Satguru Rampal Ji Maharaj is the true Supreme Soul? The original Supreme Soul, the creator of all three worlds, was god Kabir (also known as Allah Kabir, because  “Ved, Gita, Quran, Bible and Guru Granth Sahib all these are nearly same –  who lived as a weaver in Benares in the sixteenth century. God Kabir, you heard right. The first Supreme Soul with his first name in English, and his surname in Arabic ( short for Al-Kabir, the Great). Alternatively, in full Arabic, Allah Kabir. He is the master of the universe.

This epic story, narrated by the Satguru himself, would explain how it happened. Guru Garib Dass who died in 1778 AD wanted to acquire gyan, divine knowledge. He went to god Kabir who died two hundred years earlier in 1518 AD and placed his query before him. In answer, god Kabir took him to heaven called Satlok. (I suppose that since gurus are also gods, so they are able to time-travel).

There Garib Das found a haloed Supreme Soul sitting on a throne. As soon as the Supreme Soul saw god Kabir, he arose respectfully and offered his throne to god Kabir. God Kabir sat down on that throne without hesitation, and the Supreme Soul merged with him. Now Garib Das realized that the weaver who lived in Varanasi (more than two hundred years before) was not just god Kabir, but was God Kabir (with Capital G), or the Supreme Soul himself.

Do all these stories appear weird to you? They shouldn’t. Not if you believe in the seven-headed beasts and seven-eyed lamb and a God who does justice by shedding blood of cities and the blessed men washing their feet as revealed in Revelations, or of monkeys with huge extendable non-flammable tails and super-superman powers who could speak Sanskrit , of god-heroes who destroyed 14,000 forest dwellers in one day to make it easy for bearded interlopers to do their weird rites to pollute the forests as in Ramayanam, or of a sun that rises in a swamp in the East and sets in another swamp in the West, or of the visible miracle of sky-dome being held up without a single pillar as in Quran, or of a god who could materialize Rolex watches with original label and emblem and all by his divine powers without breaking patent laws as in Sathya Sai Baba claims, you being an educated professional or whatever, why would the suffering villagers of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Nepal think that the epic I cite above is weird?

Supreme Soul Rampal Ji Maharaj was born in a humble Haryana family like any other rustic child (just as Krishna was born in jail and  brought up by cowherds). He, having acquired a diploma in engineering, joined Haryana agricultural department as a Junior Engineer. While serving the department, he spent time practising forty odes to Hanuman (Hanuman Chalisa) until he met a guru who enlightened him that he was wasting his time, that gods like Vishnu, Shiv and Brahma were perishable gods, that the real God was god Kabir.

Thus enlightened, Rampal Ji realized his responsibility and spent his time going from house to house and spreading this true knowledge. When the knowledge reached the ears of his superiors, who obviously were not pious enough, and had noticed that he was never at work, they told him to resign or else… Having realized that he was indeed the incarnation of the Supreme Soul, he resigned the mundane job he was supposed to be doing while proselytizing for god Kabir. If you argue that he was thrown out, the Supreme Soul can give you the file number and letter number of his resignation.

By then sufficiently enriched spiritually and financially (remember that he was a J.E. in the irrigation department where farmers worship you even if you were not god) Rampal started an Ashram – a resort for Gurus of the kind – in Rohtak in Haryana., A certain sect of Arya Samaj took umbrage when he spoke ill of their founder. Now Arya Samaj is a break-off sect from Hinduism, with a strong foothold in the area. Riots ensued. According to Rampal Ji’s own website, rounds were being fired in air from the ashram as well in self-defence, and a woman, women being always the expendable victim, died in the Ashram. Rampal was arrested and put in jail on a two-and-a-half year tenure. The website goes to show that the jail warden and a jail guard worshipped him.

While He had time in his Ashram, Satguru (True Teacher), also self-styled JagatGuru (World Teacher) Rampal Ji Maharaj challenged all the saints of the world. His facebook page sent out this “open challenge” :’

Satguru Rampal Ji Maharaj shared a link.
December 17, 2013
All the Saints of the world are respectfully invited for a Spiritual Knowledge Discussion with Jagatguru Rampal Ji Maharaj. The Spiritual Knowledge Discussion will be organised by and aired on Sadhna Channel. If anyone is incapable of affording the expenses, then all the expenses will be borne by Satlok Ashram, Barwala. If you do not come forward for the Spiritual Knowledge Discussion, then we will believe that you accept your defeat and that you do not have complete knowledge about God and His way of worship. http://www.jagatgururampalji.org/

Quite expectedly, neither the Pope, nor the Ayatollah of Iran, Archbishop of Canterbury, anyone among the several Shankaracharyas of India, Nirmal Baba, Asaram Bapu or his son, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar who was once game for Zakir Naik’s challenge, and not even DR. Zakir Naik, the perpetual one-side debater and a challenger by his own right, accepted the challenge, thereby accepting their defeat.

Of his trial and incarceration due to a previous murder case involving his followers within the Ashram Rampal press release , the Supreme Soul said:

It is God’s rule that “Pure gold does not fear the flame”. Such injustice and oppression is being done by some contemporary politicians and corrupt officials. Some corrupt judges are even tarnishing the image of the court of justice. Even in Supreme Court and High Court some selfish judges are doing injustice for their self-interest. Even they, instead of justice, have only done injustice”.

Rampal came out of jail, and shifted his abode from Rohtak, together with his fleet of Mercedes Benz and BMW cars to a 12-acre Ashram in Hissar, fitted with massage beds, gymnasium, private swimming pools, spa et al for himself and lesser housings for lesser beings, somewhat like, I guess, the Sri Sri Ravishankar Ashram in Bangalore that I once stayed in for a week..

Here, in this Ashram, the Supreme Soul takes bath in pure cow milk, which is collected in large cauldrons for preparing kheer (a sweet made of milk, sugar and a cereal such as rice) as Prasad (blessing) for the devotees. Thousands – educated and uneducated, professionals and jobless, young attired in goggles and jeans, old in their dhotis and pyjama and women with babes in arms throng to get a palmful of this Prasad for eating. Who wouldn’t want to wash away his sins after strangling his or her girl babies at birth by eating any Prasad, even the thing that contains the sweat and filth of a Supreme Soul such as Satguru Rampal?

State Election came, and it seemed like heyday for the Supreme Soul. The two main rival political parties – the Congress and the BJP – went to Him for not just blessings, but also for campaigning by way of satsanghs (Holy meetings) on their respective behalf. They appealed to him just as Arjun and Duryodhan went to the other Supreme God (Supreme Godhead, as per ISKON founder). Here this Supreme Soul made a holy error. Thinking this was an opportunity for Him to expand His billions-worth universe of the faithful, He put up his price way too high. Even Gods make mistakes. (Remember how another Supreme Soul thought it was safe enough to accept burnt and piece offerings of Abel and to reject Cain’s vegetables and thereby got his favourite Abel killed?) In this case, this Supreme Soul offended both Cain and Abel, forgetting that no God is above an infuriated government supported by the (relatively unarmed) Hindu militia known as the RSS.

However the Indian judicial system kept grinding at its steady, albeit slow pace.. The courts ordered Rampal ji to appear before them to answer questions on the death of a woman. Expectedly, being the Supreme Soul with a following of a hundred thousand lesser souls, Rampal Ji rejected the summons with the contempt they deserved not once, but some forty-three times. Unfortunately, the courts interpreted it as contempt of the court and issued a non-bailable warrant.

Unlike Ravi Shankar’s more modest Ashram, Rampal Ji’s Ashram (also called Satlok, True world or heaven) had a wall twenty-foot high with 2-foot wide brickwork to protect the Supreme Soul from interfering sinners like the police and judges, not to mention tax collectors, the tribe cursed by another Supreme Soul, Jesus Christ, and gun-license inspectors cursed by one and all.

This Supreme Soul Rampal Ji keeps a militia of over two hundred armed men to guard him; and thousands of devotees are always on the alert to keep him away from interfering courts and arms of the law. However, just as every dog has his day, every god has his bad days. The High Court gave an ultimatum to the police : Get that man before this court in the next couple of weeks.

The police of Haryana, some of them possibly with divided devotion, got into action. The Satlok Ashram was surrounded. Warnings were poured into the ears of the Supreme Soul to surrender. The God had men, women and children shielding him. Those who were not willing to do the shielding were forced to do it.Rampals protection

(Photo from International Business Times)

Who fired first is a divine mystery. Police forced the issue initially by using tear gas grenades and such mundane weapons as lathis (bamboo sticks invented by the British for Indian police) . Supreme Soul’s men, fully armed fired as well.   Bullet-proof jackets were found; detectives are trying to solve the mystery how and why military bullet-proof jackets were acquired by God. Two policemen were injured. Five women and an infant  lay dead inside the compound of the Ashram. Not shot, no bullet marks on body, as per the postmortem report, but beaten to death by a blunt instrument.

Police detain a supporter of Satguru Rampalji Maharaj during a protest outside the ashram of Rampal in Hisar

 (Photo from Report of Reuters, New Delhi)

After days of stand-off, the Supreme Soul was captured. The police have charged him with what appears to be unassailable but what are actually hard-to-prove charges – sedition, murder and a couple of other crimes. Cop holds arms recovered from Rampal's ashram

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who markets his branded Art of Living (AOL) yogic practices with all the fanfare and commercial skills that only a godman is capable of, but gingerly avoids all controversies, said of this Supreme Soul :

Events like this cause fear and disgust for religion and spirituality

Truer words were never spoken.

MOHAMMAD YOUSUF BHATT : TRUE SPOKESMAN FOR INDIAN PARENTS

November 12, 2014

Now that Indira is long gone and fortunately (for her) forgotten, it is her Congress Party that truly represents India and its mindset.

Mohammad Yousuf Bhat of the Congress party, a candidate for the forthcoming Elections in Jammu and Kashmir, has stated in a signed affidavit that his daughter is a liability – in fact, his only liability. He only parroted the old Indian adage, often repeated by more women than men, “Ladki Parayi Dhan hai.” meaning Girls are other people’s property. What is on most parental minds has now gone down in a signed and sealed document. If you thought he made that statement by mistake, Mr. Bhat elaborated : “I have one unmarried, unemployed daughter and a working son. Since I have to take care of her wedding and other expenses, she is indeed a liability on me.”

That should sound strange, coming from a practising Muslim. The Prophet is recorded to have said, ‘the most blessed marriage is one in which the marriage partners place the least burden on each other.’ In Islamic marriage laws, the bridegroom is expected to give a ‘Meher’, a gift of money to the bride for her keeps – not the other way around. She needs to give it back to him only when he says the sacred words ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’ three times in her presence and thereby divorces her if he is in dire need for money.

However, a few hundred million parents, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, trying hard and borrowing through their nose to mop up two -and-a-half  million (twenty-five lakh) rupees, three hundred grams of gold and a Toyota car to boot to give a worthless behinchod to marry their daughter off sooner than she gets raped, you can’t blame the parents. It is one of those things in our secular culture. Mohammad Yunus Bhat was only speaking plain truth for all those suffering parents.

Bhat has only One point one million rupees ( Eleven lakhs) as per the sworn affidavit, which would wash away when fighting the election, and, seeing the latest status of his party, it is all going to go down the drain.

For the poor girl’s sake, I hope that Bhat wins, manages to wedge his way into a coalition ministry, hopefully Home ministry with the police – particularly traffic police – under him, and mops up enough money to relieve himself of his liability.

THE WARM EMBRACE OF TWO GOOD MEN

November 9, 2014

The spic-and-span, groomed-like-a-bridegroom personage on the right is Mr. Narendra Modi, usually referred to by the sobriquet NaMo.  Namo in ordinary parlance is a word reserved for greeting  Hindu gods during prayers.

RamdevModi

Mr.  Modi or  NaMo has been given until 2019 to install a Ram temple in Ayodhya,  where a mosque was pulled down by Hindu volunteers in 1991. “The government has its own priority and it will work according to it…It has ample time till 2019,” explained  Mr. Dattatreya Hosabale, of RSS, a semi-militant National (Hindu) Volunteer Organization, elaborating an announcement to that effect by Mr. Mohan Bhagat, his chief. RSS has little regard for the Constitutional proclamation that India is a “sovereign socialist secular democratic Republic”

It was the telling support of RSS that elevated Mr. Modi  to his present status of Prime Minister of India. The 31% popular vote  that his  party received in  recent national elections has given him , by the unique electoral laws of India which does not call for a second or third round of voting to fix 50% plus majority, the number of seats to make an absolute majority in the lower house of the legislative body.

As soon as election results were known, or even anticipated, many members of the party, including members of parliament and state ministers had expressed the fervent hope that Mr. Modi will convert  secular India into a Hindu nation. Mr. Modi,  who was wiser to the situation than the rest, had tactfully changed his stand on the stand. There is a Muslim lady in his cabinet, another Muslim has been inducted in as a minor minister. He greeted Muslims during their Eid and declared, to the chagrin of some of his hopeful admirers,  that Muslims are as much citizens of India as anybody else.  He cannot, however, forget the warning implicit in his mentor’s  words that they are only willing to wait till 2019.

The one-eyed man with grisly beard and saffron clothes hugging Mr. Modi is Mr. Ram Yadav, popularly known by the sobriquet Baba Ramdev. Baba, like Namo, is also an honorific given to divine people although the word originally meant Father. Witness Sai Baba and Nirmal  BabaDev could be an ordinarily innocent Hindu name just as Ram is, but in this case it means a minor god.   Ramdev is a yoga guru who runs live yoga classes on television just as Indira Gandhi’s guru Dhirendra Brahmachari used to do  to the  smaller B&W TV audience of the time. Ramdev can stand on his head and make his midriff almost disappear by breathing the hell out of his system. His knowledge of statistics is of a high order. He once said that if all the Indian black money in banks abroad can be brought back,  that would put 300,000 rupees in each pocket.  That is, 300 trillion rupees or nearly 5 trillion US dollars, more than India’s best GDP figure. That putting 300 thousand rupees into each pocket without matching production would raise inflation to Zimbabwe levels did not occur to the  Baba who happens to be a school dropout.

While promising to bring all the money back without putting a figure to it, Mr. Modi is at the time of my writing this piece busy sweeping  streets in Varanasi – the constituency that elected him. Sweeping streets by very important persons and celebrities is supposed to herald a squeaky clean India.  When a VIP announces his intention to clean a particular street under the “Swatch Bharat” (Clean India) program promoted by Mr. Modi, the VIP’s minions spread garbage in that street and get cameras of obliging media placed strategically. The idea is that if a few VIPs,  moneybags like Anil  Ambani, some party stalwarts, Mr. Modi himself, even opposition leader Shashi Tharoor, cricketer  Sachin Tendulkar and a few Bollywood stars led by Amitabh Bachhan  clean streets once in their lifetime and get their action photos published, the non-VIP peasants, security guards and village clerks will start cleaning their surroundings every day.

Mr. Modi’s plan for a clean India is supposed to work like a Ponzy scheme : nine people, following the example of  the illustrious leaders clean their streets, and each of the nine recruits another nine (now total 100), and each of the hundred sponsors nine more..And so on, until in a short while, you will have every street in India swept clean, thereby relieving the local, state  and central government of the responsibility and expenditure of  building public lavatories and employing cleaning staff, and of educating school children, their teachers and parents not to relieve themselves on public roads, fields, river banks, canals and sea beaches. For a change, tourists will find it safe to walk on our streets, relax on our beaches and hike through our jungle trails.

Make in India  is  a hugely productive  slogan coined by Mr. NaMo. Make what in India?

From Automobiles to Agro-products

From hardware to software, television to telecom,

Pharma to Biotech, Paper to Power Plant,

Roads to Bridges, Houses to Smart cities,

Friendship to Partnership.

Make in India.

That is what  a TV clip paid for by the Government of India says. I notice that ad clip on BBC channel frequently enough to make me wonder how much money that would have  cost me, a retired tax payer. You do not find any imaginative  enterprise listed anew.  We are already making  automobiles that are glutted in international market, and are choking our streets.  Ample televisions are already  being made in India by Philips to Samsung,  hardware by Intel to software by Dell. Building roads are stuck by absence of land and abundance of litigation. Housing is approaching the state where Shanghai  reached  a few years ago – too many houses, no buyers. Software? Is there an elbow room to get in to the crowd of  Infosys, TCS and Wipro InfoTech, not to mention a thousand others? How many BPOs and back offices for foreign companies have folded up, throwing out trained and ambitious youngsters,  never to open again? What money or technology in software can the moneybags from abroad bring to India? I find India-made Micromax (production begun far ahead of Mr. Modi’s installation of Premiership) doing better than Samsung and Apple in India. Our Chinese driver carries a Micromax, which you can buy in Hong Kong. In the meanwhile, Nokia in India, one of the best paying companies was bought and wound up due to labour troubles, later bought by Microsoft only to close it down .

What we need is not for foreigners to make in India, but to invest into our making, induct technology and automation to improve productivity with adequate provision for employment, and organize marketing abroad. What we also need in India is to fund innovation and invention, not to wait till a technology gets outdated in Europe to buy it cheap. Make in India is a naive slogan that does not appear capable of serving the purpose.

Consider Biotech and Pharma.  Friend Ramdev and advisory RSS are against modern medicine (euphemistically called Western medicine). Ramdev says he has the cure-all remedies, not to mention yoga that can cure  Aids , or at least make it bearable, according to him. Hindu newspaper once printed a news item that Ramdev claimed that he could also cure Ebola, which the latter denied obliquely – he said you can’t believe everything that appears in print. Ramdev says that allopathic medicines are dangerous and must be avoided. Why would foreign investors make something in India that Indians find toxic and dangerous? Why would foreigners buy it?

At the time of NaMo government assuming power, India stood at a ranking of 142 out of 189  in ease of business ranking – 28 points below Indonesia, and 14 points below violence-riddled Pakistan. Figures available in recent months on the media do not indicate a promise of sharp increase in FDI investment that would promote our interest while also serving theirs, which alone can improve India’s balance of payment position. On the other hand, FII is stacking up in mutual funds and equities because black money tunneled through Mauritius is best for gambling.

Mr. Modi meets foreign entrepreneurs with great fanfare, particularly Indian Diaspora, and get a shabash pat on his back for the enthusiasm and energy he displays – which is in  contrast to the the previous Prime Minister’s well-meaning and wise mumbles spoken under his beard without visible enthusiasm. A few words of admiration by the white man in the West works wonders on Indian’s self assurance that all is going to be well.  Foreign media have been providing those words of encouragement, though often with their tongues firmly in their cheeks.

NaMo went to Japan and got a promise of 35 billion dollars in 5 years. Then  from China a promise of 20 billion against a hundred million bandied about by Indian media. From America, a promise to make more promises.  Constructive discussions  in furtherance of existing agreement on nuclear energy which  is so important for power starved India – was barely brought up because his party carries a baggage of opposition to it, though now they claim that the objection was only conditional. Mention of FDI in retail is  probably taboo. In the  cities of Communist China you can find any number of multi brand Wal-Mart, Carrefour and IKEA retail  stores. There, alongside malls thrive breakfast stores, small grocers, fruit stalls, bars, wine shops and restaurants.  NaMo would be hard put to invite investment from Wal-Mart –  except through back doors. Opposition to Wal-Mart is another baggage that his party has thrust on his back.

Foreign institutional investment – the money that goes into equities, mutual funds etc, has been steadily increasing, thereby bloating up the stock exchange indices. This encourages the Indian public to gamble their money into stocks and mutual funds. Unproductive fund flow gives an impression of prosperity while the rupee value steadily goes down. Less the rupee value, better for the foreign investor, because his dollar gives him higher rupee investment, but worse for the domestic one. One day when Reserve Bank finds it has too much dollar in hand, it releases dollars in the market, Rupee rises, the foreigner finds he could get more dollar for  his money lying in the form of rupee, and makes a bee-line to withdraw the funds. Stocks fall like bricks after a mortar attack, and the Indian investor finds himself a pauper. This has been happening every few years, and you find a couple of your rich neighbours killing themselves like debt-ridden peasants. Gamblers never learn.

Both Ramdev and RSS give call to  Buy only Indian. It is another matter that the holy men of India travel only in Mercedes Benz or BMW.  While asking people to travel in India-made Nano, Ramdev claimed that he escaped when a crowd pelted stones at him because he travelled in a bulletproof car. What bullet-proof car did he make? I doubt it was Ambassador or  Maruti.  It is unlikely that he travels by an India-made airplane when he travels abroad to take a sojourn away from the million devotees.

Ramdev owns a Scottish island supposedly gifted by his devotees there. His trust claims the island costs only 2 million US Dollars; Enforcement Directorate noted it was worth over 20 million. Why and how he should send 300,000 dollars to a London bank and another 80,000 to Madagascar when he only buys Indian goods and puts only local ingredients into his Ayurvedic  medicines  is another question that hangs fire. Bone-products were found in some of his medicines, they surely were not of imported animals? I am discounting a communist leader’s allegation that human bones were used, and even if they were , they could hardly be mported from Madagascar for 80,000 dollars or from London for 300,000 dollars.

The case filed against him by ED appears to have vanished into thin air, much like Zakiya Jafri’s plea for justice has .  Ramdev had never been a non-resident, nor had he been staying outside India for longer than 182 days;  the Indian couple who ‘gifted ‘ him those 2 or 20 million worth of property are not his close relations. Why the income tax has not  hauled him up for not paying tax on that income of 2 or 20 million dollars (12.2 crore or 120.20 crore Rupees) remains another mystery.

“I have done nothing wrong,” is what Ramdev said in his defence. That is the stock answer of all those who have done many things wrong.  In the meanwhile, he entered the political arena demanding that all black money, all 300 trillion of it, be brought home.

All said and done, the embrace of two good men bodes well for India. What would happen  when Mr. Mohan Bhagat  and  Dattatreya Hosabale wake up  their volunteers in khaki shorts in 2019 to build that urgently required Ram Temples a matter of conjuncture.

We had seen such  conjunctures coming to life  in  1947, 1984, 1991 and 2002.

_______________________________________________________________

Epilogue

In May this year, while waiting for a bus in Bangalore I met a stranger and got into conversation.  I asked him whether he would vote for NaMo’s party or Sonia Gandhi’s servants. He said : “Show me an alternative, I will vote for them”.

The only faces that came to my mind were those of incompetent but ambitious nincompoops and thoroughly competent scoundrels.

HOW THEY FED YOUNG RAJAN TO PIGS  IN ‘EMERGENCY’

November 5, 2014

RajanThis is the photo is of Rajan, son of Professor Eachara Varrier (also spelt Warrier), a final year student of Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode in 1976.  People in Kerala mention him simply as Rajan, the boy who was “rolled” by Kerala Police until his testes burst.  There were no eye witnesses apart from policemen to the tragic end of the promising young man – perhaps a few among them had later boasted how they ‘rolled’ out the young life.

 Now ‘rolling’ is a special form of torture invented in self-styled God’s Own Country. The victim is  tied on his back to a hard wooden bench, and a perfectly cylindrical and some five-foot long iron pestle is placed on his thighs. A heavy policeman sits on each end  of the pestle, side-saddle, as if on a see-saw, and rolls the pestle from the victim’s hip to knees. Not for the purpose of interrogation to elicit any information, only for the pleasure of inflicting maximum agony. While the victim screams, the policemen kick the ground to roll the pestle and discuss the weather and whisper the unique raping style of their immediate superior.

As was the custom, Rajan’s interrogation was to take place after the rolling protocol. IGP Jayaram Padikkal who till then sat on a chair and watched the fun was to poke into the fractured and swollen thighs with a sharp tool and ask : “Who stole a rifle from Kakkayam Police station?”

In all probability, Rajan couldn’t plead, pitifully, “Please, Sir, i do not know, I wasn’t there,” as the other youngsters did.. He was already dead.

There are many men, now in their late fifties or early sixties, to prove that was what happened. Their scarred thighs bear witness.

The pompously ranked deputy inspector general of police who ordered and oversaw the rolling operation is said to have been trained in Scotland Yard. When you finish reading this You would agree that the officers of NYPD and even those in Guantanamo Bay need the special training.

It happened during the infamous Emergency, a notoriously illegal and Banana-Republic-type strategy employed by Indira Gandhi to perpetuate her rule in the Country after a High court found her guilty of corruption, overturned her election and disqualified her from all elected posts, including that of the Prime Minister of democratic India.

Why was Rajan picked up? Policemen in Kerala, as all over the rest of the Country, were getting hold of anyone who criticised emergency or was suspected of murmuring against it, and making them disappear for good. The previous night, a police station had been attacked by young communist rebels called Naxalites. Rajan was not a Naxalite and was not among those who committed the act, but since his father Prof. Varrier was known to have Communist leanings he became a natural suspect.  Even more probably, K. karunakaran, the then Home Minister and a hardened devotee of Indira Gandhi and the presiding god of Guruvayoor temple in equal  measure, had named him  when the investigating officer, Deputy Inspector General of Police Jayaram Padikkal was looking for scapegoats. Kerala Police, wary of the difficulties in searching out real culprits of a crime, are always on the lookout for scapegoats. If you do not believe that, click to read this story of a planted murder weapon

There always existed gross enmity  between Kerala’s Congress-party men and Communists. In Kerala’s curious practice of democracy they unseated each other in alternate elections. Karunakaran and Varrier were from the same town, Trichur. That Professor Varrier was not an active communist did not matter, but he had once saved the life of Mr. Achutha Menon, a communist leader.  During the ongoing emergency, Congress man Karunakaran was  a subordinate Home Minister  and  by a twist of coalition politics, Communist Achutha Menon was the Chief Minister.  The Chief Minister feared his Home Minister, the Home minister hated his Chief Minister, much as he hated all Communists. All through emergency, Karunakaran and his  handyman in police, Deputy General of Police Jayaram Padikkal, ran the government with iron hands while the Chief Minister, the once famously brave Communist C. Achutha Menon remained a frightened bystander. Perhaps the memory of  the treatment he had been meted out as a revolutionary under Congress governments during the early days of Congress rule had rankled him.

“I will do everything possible, you know our relationship,” Karunakaran had assured Varrier when the latter approached him with folded hands for help in finding his son. The relationship was attributed to the fact Karunakaran was of the Marar caste closely related to Varrier caste. and both were from the same town. In India, caste affinity is supposed to mean close relationship but also, if you will, fraternal animosity. Karunakaran was lying; he already  knew that Rajan was dead.  In public meetings, Karunakaran claimed that Rajan was under police custody for a serious crime.

An exasperated Eachara Varrier filed a habeas corpus in Kerala High Court, demanding that his son who was supposed to have been in custody, be produced before the court. In the case, the  High Court had to deal  with  patently false witnesses, unreliable and vague  written statements from  Government Respondents and utter falsehood from the state police– the arm of the judiciary. The Inspector General of Police stated on affidavit that Rajan was not taken on custody at all, that relying  on information received from other students  that ‘petitioner’s son Rajan was affording facilities and shelter to some of the extremists, police was looking for him. But  by the time that information was received the police could not locate him as, by that time he had made himself scarce”.

Actually, in the morning when Rajan was forced into police jeep, several  students had been eye witnesses to it. Furthermore, the Home Minister, under whom the Police department functions, had announced in election meetings that Rajan was in detention because he was involved in a murder case. In India, eye witnesses do not come forward to give evidence for fear of harassment  If they do give evidence, they turn hostile under duress or enticement -usually both – during the inevitable appeal.

In its order, the bench consisting of two judges  thus noted:

A heart broken father, with his wife mentally deranged, with his home made desolate after the disappearance of his only son, with his two daughters grief stricken after this tragedy, has, after approaching the high dignitaries of the State and the Centre taken refuge in this Court as a last resort requesting this Court to exercise its sacred duty to cause the production of his son who disappeared from 1.3.1976.”

The  helpless Justice S. Poti concluded his order with much sympathy towards the petitioner Varrier and rebuke to the Respondents, concluded his order with a ‘fervent hope and little else :

It is unfortunate that the respondents have not viewed the matter with the sense of responsibility expected of them at least when their attention was drawn to the serious situation. We once again reiterate that such responsibility cannot be disowned as if it is some stray act of some police officers somewhere. We do fervently hope that the guilty would meet with punishment though it is not our province to impose any.”

Justice Khalid, Poti’s brother judge, gave a concurring, and equally toothless order.

The learned judges’  hopes did not materialise. Although Karunakaran had to resign his Home Minister’s job under public pressure after the emergency was lifted,  he later became chief minister twice and lived long enough to make a bogus claim that the party men had offered him Prime Minister’s chair after Indira Gandhi’s death.  Scotland Yard-trained .Jayaram Padikkal, notorious for his cruel ways, was convicted, but later acquitted by the appeal court for want of evidence.  They couldn’t find the body of Rajan.

Rajan’s mother lived a mental wreck for 24 years, wondering why her son hadn’t come home. She died, entrusting her husband with a plateful of rice on a customary plantain leaf – Rajan’s favourite lunch at home – to serve him  as soon as he came home. His habeas corpus having  resulted in a pious but  futile order, Prof. Varrier  persisted with more letters and appeals to any and all that mattered, became an active champion of human rights cause during his advanced years, losing hope, but never giving up, till he died a poor and broken man in April 2006. The poignant story  of his futile  struggle for justice was written in tears by himself in Malayalam :  “Memories of a Father”. The translation by Neelam is available in print. I found a an e-version in this link

When told of Eachara Varrier’s death, Karunakaran asked : Who is Eachara Varrier? His son K. Muralidharan, whom he wanted to see elevated to the position of the chief minister, now roams in Kerala’s political wilderness, a living joke for television comedians and newspaper cartoonists.

Why do I bring up this old story now? A few hours ago I read in the e-version of Mathrubhoomi, Kerala’s popular newspaper, that the contract driver who drove the dead body of Rajan thirty-eight years ago has now come out with the revelation  that Rajan’s tortured and mutilated body was first dumped in an ice chamber and later ground and fed to pigs in a government factory, ‘Meat Products of India’, Koothattukulam.

If you can’t produce the dead body of a victim, you can’t convict a man for murder. That’s the law.  Jayaram Padikkal went on to become the Director General of Police in God’s Own Country.

BHAGWAN SATHYA SAI BABA : THE REASON FOR TOTAL WORLD PEACE

November 2, 2014

Bhagwan (Don’t laugh, the word means God, and there are – or there used to be – any number of judges, lawyers, chartered accountants, businessmen and politicians to certify that the honorific is well placed) Sathya Sai Baba is the true reason why there is total world peace today. Probably you all suffer from hallucination if you feel that world peace doesn’t exist. It does.  I have a divine statement in writing to prove the point.

In an interview with RK Karanjia, the editor of Blitz, an English tabloid that was hugely popular in India in the nineteen-seventies for its sharp and often acidic reporting style, this is what the said God said: (September 1976):

First of all, you must grasp the complete oneness of the three incarnations of contemporary times with those of the past like Rama and Krishna. This is a difficult task. When people cannot understand the present, how can they comprehend the past? Every incarnation is full and complete in relation to the time, environment and the task. There is no distinction between the various appearances of God as Rama, Krishna or Sai.

Rama came to feed the roots of truth and righteousness, Krishna followed to foster the plant of peace and love. Now these sacred principles are in danger of wholesale destruction by reason of human weakness under the onslaught of evil forces. They are overcoming the good, the spiritual and the divine in man. That is why the present Avathar has come invested with the totality of cosmic power to save dharma (righteousness) from anti-dharma”.

Q (RKK) : “By the present Avathar, you mean Sai Baba? “

Baba: “Yes”

If you think that was enough to reassure you, please stand by. There is more to come in order to elaborate that point. In answer to the next question, the said Bhagwan also said:

Previous Avathars like Rama and Krishna had to destroy a few individuals who could be identified as enemies of the godly way of life and thus restore the dharmic path. Today, however, wickedness has tainted so many that humanity itself stands under the threat of destruction. Therefore, in My present Avathar, I have come armed with the fullness of the power of formless God to correct mankind, raise human consciousness and put people back on the right path of truth, righteousness, peace and love to divinity”.

So there. If you worship Rama and Krishna (not to forget the murderous Brahmin, the Dwarf, the Man-lion, Pig, Turtle and the Fish), they had come for limited purposes. This God, Bhagwan Sathya Sai Baba,  had taken human form with full power to correct mankind (including George Bush, Tony Blair, Ku Klux Klan,  ISIS, Al Qaeda, , Saudi head-choppers, Boko-Haram marriage brokers, LET, Haqqani Network,  Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizbul Mujahideen, Babbar Khalsa, SIMI, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bhujrang Bal, Suicide bombers, the whole lot of them), to raise human consciousness (and away from the forty virgins waiting for the suicide bombers) and to put people on the right path of truth, righteousness and peace et al.

Mission accomplished nearly a decade ahead of the promised schedule, this final human incarnation of a formless God took leave of this world three years ago.

Total world peace prevails. Thank God.

 Epilogue :

If you wish to know more about this God and his peaceful ways, I invite you to the following site with a lot many links that you could spend a day with in total devotion:

http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/ .

For further clarifications on this and all other divine persons, please also read : http://vishumenon.com/2012/09/20/divine-people-and-their-theories/

Epi-epilogue:

Having read the draft, a friend asked me: “Why are you flogging a dead horse?”

I said : “This Horse lives in the minds of many devotees, including my wife.”

THIS THEORY OF EVOLUTION COULD BE DANGEROUS

October 29, 2014

One morning in early August, 2003 I stood outside the gate of a popular British-run school in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A Board on the gate warned that it was a Christian school, and that admission was not available to locals.  Because it was a missionary school, I was later told, the government prevented the school from admitting local Muslim boys.

The principal I met was a suave, bright young Englishman, who was pleased with the child’s  replies and claims that he could play cricket, swim and skate-board. The school encouraged sports, said the principal. After contemplating my name and the child’s for a couple of seconds, he warned me that the school stressed on Christian values. I said, quite sincerely, that we respected all values.

For several months, we were pleased with the  child’s progress, his diction, his interest in homework and in cricket.

Then one day he came home with a project to complete. He had to choose an animal of his liking, paste a picture of it on his worksheet, and write ten sentences on the creature of his choice. He asked me to get him a picture of dinosaur to paste. I downloaded a terrible-looking carnivore, and printed it on my inkjet. He laboriously read a Wikipedia article on the dinosaur, and wrote a few lines in his childish hand. When done and the colorful picture was put in place, he felt  sure that his would be the best project in the class, and that he would get a star for it.

In the afternoon, he came home in tears. He tore up the paper that contained the dinosaur’s picture and description while I watched him in amazement.

“The teacher said” he heaved through tears, “the teacher said that dinosaur is not a creation of God. It’s a lie because it is not mentioned in the Bible”.

“Grandpa, you cheated me. Dinosaur is a lie,”. To a six year-old, the teacher knows everything.

Fortunately, it was the end of the term for him in that class, and I persuaded his mother to transfer him to any other school. I checked with the American School if they taught Genesis to young minds. The Principal, also suave and bright, said smilingly : “No, we teach regular subjects.”

Fortunately, eleven years on, he has forgotten his lessons in Genesis.

I will not repeat the sad story of Galileo; it has been beaten flat with repetition through centuries. In early nineteen eighties, however, Pope Paul II met Stephen Hawking and a few scientists of his ilk and suggested : Up to Big Bang is fine, but do not go into the origin of it because that belongs to the realm of God.

The scientists probably felt pleased that even the Papacy was evolving. The Pope was obviously implying that the Big Bang Theory could be right.

They had another think coming. Pope Benedict XVI, who preceded the current Pope, trust me, set the Vatican clock right back to early seventeenth century. A couple of years before his ascendancy, he declared that it was right for the Church to deny Galileo Galilee; if later the church opted to be silent on the modern theory of a stationary sun and revolving earth, that was merely for political convenience!

The Council of Cardinals still elected him. Palace gossips, trial of a whistle-blower, trials and denials followed, and the old Nazi guard resigned mercifully.

His successor has come out with a big bang bursting the first chapter of the Holy Bible.  From the pulpit (or wherever a Pope is supposed to stand), he declared : Evolution and Big Bang theory are real.  God isn’t ‘a magician with a magic wand.

Don’t rejoice in this evolution. May be it’s short-lived. The Cardinals who elected Benedict are watching.

Many years ago a priest like this (people called him Rabbi) was nailed  on to a wooden beam for views that differed from the textbook..

The evolved Christian

MY LAST WAGER ON GOD

October 28, 2014

I have a social-network friend, whom I shall call Irene since I did not ask her permission to use her real name. She is a dedicated  and proud nurse serving abroad. She tries to help her compatriots find jobs in the country of her employment by reproducing nursing job advertisements on Facebook pages. Quite rightly, she believes nursing is the best job in the world.

And she loves Jesus, and believes Jesus loves her. I am sure that her love for her God keeps her cope with the vicissitudes of life, agony of her patients and the poignant  memory of her husband who died a few  years ago. She quotes often from the Bible, the good and kind words of God.  Tactlessly I once commented on one of her quotes by reproducing the cruel and merciless threats of God from the same book. Irene admitted she was hurt, and I discontinued my unsolicited comments on her page.

When our mutual friend Llewelyn fell sick on his last birthday, and there was no news of him for a few days, I checked with Irene if she had any news. She said  she had none, and  was praying for him. She suggested I pray for him too. Irene is Protestant, Llewelyn Catholic, but the denominations had not come in the way of their friendship, nor between them and me, though I have no claim to any religion or religious denomination.

To me, Llewelyn is a close friend from our younger days, over half a century ago. There was nothing I wanted to hear in those anxious days but that he was well. I said to Irene : I seldom pray, I believe God knows his job well, he would do what he thinks is the best , and does not go by recommendations.”

“I see,” answered Irene and tried to  discontinue the chat.  She sounded  shocked that I did not believe in making a plea to God and to  bring Him around to saving our dear friend.

Sensing the dismay and shock in Irene’s voice, I assured her: By Pascal’s wager, I will pray for LLew.

.Hopefully, Irene did not know what Pascal’s wager was.

That night, I actually prayed to a God whose name I did not know, that the jolly good friend of mine, nearly  a year younger than myself, be restored to good health once again. Also that I hear from him soon.

Blaise Pascal, who proposed the wager that bears his name,  was a great scientist, mathematician, inventor and Christian theologian. His wager is this:: If there is God, and if he hears your prayers, it’s good for you, your prayers will be answered. If there is no God, yet  if you believe there is One, and you pray to Him, no loss anyhow.

Pascal, being a Christian theologian, set one condition to laying this wager : the God you pray to has to be Christian God, Not Muslim God, nor a pagan god.

Most  people – Christian, Muslim or Hindu – might not  have heard of Pascal’s wager, only of his mechanical calculators and hydraulic theories while at school or college.  Yet we lay that wager often when we say this:

“ I do not know much about God. All I believe is that there is a great power over us.”

Ask any celebrity about God, I wager that that is what he or she would say. Partly because it is a good way to lay a wager on  the Great Power. Also because naming a particular God or god might offend fans from other religions..

A week later Llewelyn  returned  to the social network, fully recovered, regretting his absence and once again ready to entertain all those hundreds who knew him and admired  his jovial way of listing out soundly  philosophical thoughts and delightful pun with sexual entendres in crisp, short lines.

That was  exactly year ago, give or take two days. Llewelyn is  going strong, full of wit and great thoughts, his health good enough  for another couple of decades.

I don’t remember wagering on God since then.

A VEDIC SCHOLAR GOES TO HEAVEN BY THE RIVER

October 27, 2014

When Uma Bharti’s Ganga cleaning programme comes into being will they fish him out?

Kashikananda Giri

Mr. Kashikananda Giri, 90, who died in a regular hospital, not Mr. Ramdev’s divine  Patanjali Chikitsalaya, has been interred in River Ganges. Once again all the dead babas, Anandas, Giris, Maharajs and Swamies can be put into the holy river. Dead old grandfathers (please, not this one) can soon follow, just as many smaller gods are following Shivsena’s Ganpati into lakes and rivers. Mother Ganga can once again become the longest floating graveyard of the world. Guinness, are you listening?

Many years ago I used to drive my family to Haridwar for bathing in the cool Ganges waters there – they for salvation, I for the sheer joy of walking on the sand-and-gravel river bed while fighting the current that would be trying to sweep me away.

Never again. What if I step on the rotten remains of a sacred Baba?


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