Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India, is no ordinary man, not even an ordinary judge. He played yeoman role in legitimizing public interest litigation, and was among the first to promote judicial activism. In his own words, he is the foremost legal luminary in the entire Commonwealth. If Sathya Sai Baba could be the Supreme Godhead, his ardent disciple could at least be a legal luminary par excellence.
That luminosity, according to Bhagwati himself, was not self-derived, nor acquired through intense study of each case he judged by merit , nor by analyzing the lawyer’s arguments and the evidences produced by both parties, not also by scrutinizing the orders and reasoning by the lower courts. He has publicly stated: “As a professional, each time I would sit down to write a judgment at 5’O’ clock in the morning, I was only writing what god dictated. Bhagwan held my hand as I put pen on paper. Everything that I have achieved in respect of the law, and people say I have achieved a lot, is owing to the guidance and inspiration of Sathya Sai Baba. There is no doubt on that score.” (Emphasis mine).
Bhagwati ceased to be a devotee of Lord Krishna after his devotion switched to S.S. Baba. Among the many significant judgments pronounced by Justice Bhagwati at the Supreme Court, and all the while the said Baba had been guiding his hand while writing, was one to the effect that during the emergency forced on the Country by Indira Gandhi, citizen’s right to life lay suspended. Even his god knew that he couldn’t (hence Bhagwati couldn’t) play with Indira Gandhi’s sentiments.
You wouldn’t find the name of justice HR Khanna, who refused to toe the line of this shameful judgment, among the worthies blessed by SS Baba. One must admit that even if the cause of justice was thwarted, the Baba gave Bhagvati a good turn while guiding his hand to write that notorious judgment. While writing the judgment, Khanna told his sister that he had blown his chances of becoming the CJI. Indira Gandhi ensured that Bhagwati superceded Khanna. A conspiracy between god and the prime minister that worked through the period of emergency. That conspiracy, nevertheless, could not block Khanna’s courage from being lauded by the legal fraternity and print media across the civilised word.
Thirty five years later, and five months after his god died, Bhagwati apologised for his mistake of signing that judgment. “If it was open to me to come to a fresh decision in that case, I would agree with what Justice (H R Khanna) did. I am sorry (for the judgment),” Bhagwati told The Indian Express. (Emphasis mine). Forty two or so years after serving his god, this judicial luminary realized that his god guided his hands wrong.
Among the many eminent men who are still wrangling over the billions worth Sathya Sai Baba Trust is ninety-plus Justice Bhagwati, still hoping that the members of the Trust could possibly not deny him his due of chairing the Trust with all its enormous tax-free wealth.
As for the god who had boasted that what he willed happened, he died at the age of 86 despite his widely publicized ‘Will’ that he would die at 96. His divine knowledge of patent laws was awesome. In September 1976 He told RK Karanjia of Blitz (the fiery weekly of the seventies) in a long interview: ” It would be cheating the company or breaching the patent if it were a case of transfer of the watch (Omega or HMT) from one place to the other. But I do not transfer; I totally create. Whatever I will, instantly materializes.” Can you beat that? You breach the patent law if you move a patented product from one place to another – as you would have to do if you were wearing a watch – but it’s perfectly legal if you make one, Omega or HMT, logo, name, style and all, on your own! It is with this knowledge of the law that the god held Bhagwati’s hands and made him write his orders and judgments.
This infinitely knowledgeable god also gives, in the same interview, the example of negative current and positive current in electricity. He said, regarding his power of healing, ” It is like the positive and negative currents of electricity. My capacity to heal can be compared to the positive current. Your devotion to Me is like the negative current. Once the two come together, the devotion provides what is called the miracle of healing.” Obviously, he was not talking of the conventional and electronic currents which, actually, are only names to the same flow of electrons. Perhaps the Bhagwan was talking about alternating currents such as what we get in our homes. In this case, the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ currents never come together, they appear one after another. If the two currents come together in time, there will be zero current! , As one staunch devotee of this fuzzy-haired god told me, “All knowledge flows from baba”. Evidently, the knowledge of electricity didn’t; nor did the knowledge of patent laws.
If you think Justice Bhagwati and the many IAS officers, lawyers , business tycoons and judges (and, of course, the white people with their reputation-multiplying effect on Indian mind) who trailed the saffron robe of Mr. Baba are self-deluding mavericks, you are forgetting Inspector General of Police, Mr. DK Panda, who wore salwar-Kameez, nose ring, anklets and vermilion to his august office, claiming to be the modern incarnate of Radha, the supposed mistress of Lord Krishna. It didn’t matter to him nor to the Radhe-Radhe chanting pundits in ‘Dwarka’ near Agra that Maha Bhagwatam, which contains Krishna’s biography hardly mentions a love partner to Krishna by that name. Nor does Mahabharatam, which describes his adventures and stealthy, deceitful ways mention this Radha, whose name came into prominence only with Jaydev’s delightfully erotic Gita Govindam. It is not known what happened to the cross-dressed Radha after the UP government sent him for medical examination and ultimately made him doff his police uniform. Last heard, he was dancing like a eunuch, singing in a voice no different than a eunuch’s, but with far less talent. I mean no insult to self-respecting trans-genders by this comment. Fortunately, Panda is one godman/godwoman who found no pious followers.
Zakir Naik is a trained doctor. It is not known how many crores were spent by the tax payer for his medical education. Having completed (and reportedly passed) his MBBS course, he went on to specializing in scriptures of nearly all religions – indexing their chapters and verses, learning by rote their line numbers. With Arabian money, he promoted a channel named Peace TV. In one of his addresses to an admiring audience, Naik , as always nattily dressed in western clothes, rapid-fired 17 Surah- and -verse numbers of Quran to prove that Allah had mentioned the phenomenon of water- cycle 1400 years ago and 800 years before Bernard Palicy proposed the concept in his study of hydrology. Naik went on, as if water cycle were the most important scientific discovery ever, that Allah had mentioned it in umpteen verses apart from the 17 ones he quoted. As Naik was receiving long and resounding applause, I laboriously jotted down the Surah and verse numbers he rattled out, and later piously studied them in three versions of English translation of Quran. None mentioned water cycle, only of a one-way traffic whereby Allah’s miracle sent down the rains from the sky. The gist of nearly all verses could be summed up quoting one : ” Seest thou not that God sends down rain from the sky, and leads it through springs in the earth? ” One of the verses he quoted says, if the translation is correct, that “wind impregnates the clouds with water”. How could anything impregnate a foetus? Clouds are nothing but a mass of condensed water. A bright translator explains in the bracket that ‘impregnation’ in this context means pushing.
In another lecture, Naik claimed that the continuous expansion of the universe, which was noticed by scientists only recently, has been mentioned in the Quran. Naik quoted Surah 51, Verses 47 and 48. I could not find the word expansion or anything meaning that trend of the universe in any of the translations. I had tried three English translations of the Holy book, and the closest (if at all) word to expansion I could find was this:
051.047 With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of pace.
051.048 And We have spread out the (spacious) earth: How excellently We do spread out!
Quran says in couple of places elsewhere that the earth is fashioned like a carpet. Who would have thought that spreading out a carpet would also expand it? Incidentally, Holy Quran’s universe consists of seven firmaments, while modern scientists estimate that there are a billion galaxies out there and each of them hold billions of firmaments, meaning worlds.
Two of the several proofs of Miracles of Allah mentioned in Quran is that the sky (or heaven, take your pick) stands above the earth without the support of a single pillar and that ships sail in the sea. I haven’t yet heard Zakir Naik expanding on those miracles. A parable in the Holy Book describes how a young man looking for a hidden treasure found the sun setting in a spring of murky water. Naik has an explanation :It appeared to him that the sun appeared in the mruky water. The young man of the parable, however, found people where the sun set; not merely where it appeared to set and also where the sun rose again. I am referring to Holy Quran, 18.86 to 90.
To be fair, Naik wears his secular credentials on his sleeves. He said, and repeated many times in one of his lectures that he loved non-Muslims more than he loved Allah. Naik, in his eagerness to prove other faiths wrong (and, in this particular context, to ridicule the legend of Ganpati’s origin), forgot Allah’s stern warning : “If you love your kith and kin (or wealth, or anything else for that matter), wait till I give my decision”. I am only condensing the gist of what is stated in Holy Quran 9.24. It would appear that, With that public admission of his love for non-Muslims more than that for his God, Naik has sealed his eternal fate.
Naik had found the name of Allah and that of Prophet Muhammad in Hindu scriptures. He rattles away the numbers of vedic verses and Biblical lines just as fast as he does the Quranic verses. With that speed of recitation, you would never find it easy to verify his claims. Naik dressed up – holy wand, saffron clothes, shaven head, cloth bundle and all – an anonymous man as “Shankaracharya” aka Devanand Saraswati to praise Islam on one of the Peace TV shows, In another episode, a person who claimed to be Roshan Lal Arya, allegedly the President of Arya Samaj, challenged any ‘Mai-ka-lal” (son-of-a-mother, an expletive in Hindi) to speak ill of Islam or muslims or to prove that Muslims are not patriotic. I must say that, having worked with several Muslim airmen in two wars, and watched an Air Marshal observing Rosa and still flying combat planes for India, I would throw that challenge myself, without invoking mai-ke-lal- like obscene phrases.
The real Roshan Lal Arya of the Arya Samaj denied ever having appeared on the Peace TV. Nevertheless, you can still find a Peace TV clip on the alleged Roshan Lal’s macho performance on Youtube. You can also see the “Shankaracharya” waxing eloquent on peaceful and glorious Islam in another Youtube clip, extracted from Naik’s Peace TV. That such enthusiastic claims have made him persona-non-grata to much of the Islamic Ulma has not waned his high spirits.
My friend Aziz might not rank with the eminent men I mention in this blog, but he is an educated, well-bred and ambitious young man. He sincerely believes that Newton, Edison, Einstein and scientists like them secretly carried a copy of the Holy Quran in their pockets, and that’s how they were able to make those great discoveries, invent superb machines and propound scientific laws. If that were the case, I asked Aziz, why do not the students and teachers of Madrasas, who study the holy book with more intensity and concentration than these non-believers come out with more and superior scientific theories and inventions? Why is it that the Abdus Salam of Pakistan is the only Nobel Prize winner for science (I am not counting medicine) and that he is not even accepted as a Muslim in his nown country that he loved? Aziz has read my blogs on Sunita Williams and Neil Armstrong, and of their denial, but he confidently maintains that they had secretly converted to Islam. The Friday preacher in the local mosque couldn’t be wrong. Aziz believes that Muslim scientists are denied their due credits because the Christians on the Nobel panel are jealous.
I have not heard Naik or Aziz mentioning Muhammad Ibn Musa nor of his all-important mathematical work, Hisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala. Naik could have engaged Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in a debate (muqabla) whether Aryabhatta’s Zero or Ibn Musa’s algebra (al-jabr) made the greatest contribution to mathematics, and without which no mathematical or scientific deductions could have been possible.
In a blog about eminent men, you can’t miss out Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the diviner of Art of Living. I’d always recommend the ancient breathing techniques that he reportedly borrowed from his estranged guru, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, and patented it for himself. The name, Art of Living, was pirated from the title of a book on Vipaassna meditation taught by Padma Bhushan S.N. Goenka. Chinmayananda, in his translation of Gita, written long before Ravishankar came on the scene, defined Karma as “Art of Living and Action”.
It transpires that Sri Sri Ravishankar had once written in a book that the Black stone of Kaba, the holy stone that Muslims circambulate during Hajj, is the very Shiva Lingam itself. To a Muslim mind, nothing could be a graver sacrilege. Yet, Sri Sri agreed to a debate with – who else? – Zakir Naik. Apparently, the fomer tricked him into participating in the debate. Naik started out denouncing Ravi Shankar’s preposterous claim, and spoke of almost nothing other than the non-existent relation between the divine tool and the holy stone. Sri Sri knew that playing with the religious sentiments of a crowd that Naik had collected could be dangerous.(Hopefully the crowd didn’t know what lingam meant). Ravishankar said he had made a mistake in that book, so he had never ordered a reprint of it, he was sorry he wrote it. He barely extricated himself from the debate with a crude admixture of apologies, denials and weak reasoning.
Once out of the mob, and back in his own circle of admirers, the angry, sad and embarrassed face recovered its natural radiance and sparkle in the eyes. “It’s better to admit fault to an idiot”, he explained. The advocate of peace called Naik severak names – stupid, idiot – for his (Ravishankar’s) admirers to pick and choose. Like a student coming out of his principal’s office boasting that he had called the principal names to his face, Ravi Shankar told his admirers that he had said things he hadn’t said. “Arguing with an idiot would make me a greater idiot,” he clarified. The Hindu applause for Ravi Shankar was no less gleeful than the Muslim applause for Naik.
I attended a weekly course on Art of Living run by a young disciple of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The disciple said he was an alumnus of IIT Bombay. Why did he take up this work rather than some engineering job for which he had been trained? Because, explained the slim and handsome young devotee, he believed Ravi Shankar was God. “I am merely serving my God”, he said. Reason enough.
I have an internet friend, Akshay Malhotra, who studiously (so I should presume) reads my blogs on religious matters and comments on them. He refutes my claim that all religions picture God in the shape of man, bogged down with his jealousies, vengeance and need for praise, and with man’s bodily functions. That is not so in Sanatana Dharma, Akshay tells me. He draws my attention to a site named Agniveer.com.
The site claims that among its proponents are IIT graduates just like the devotee of Bhagwan Ravishankar I mentioned earlier. I am a great admirer of IIT graduates, even though their reputation has been somewhat on the decline of late.
Agniveer.com matches Zakir Naik’s Peace TV in making fantastic claims. Let me take just one example to save space and to spare the several other claims of science in the Vedas. This one says that Electro magnetism is vividly explained in Rig Veda, Verse 119.10. This verse whose meaning is reasonably straightforward if you could comprehend Sanskrit verses and their style of phrasing words to fit the metre, goes like this:
Yuvam Pedavii puruvaremashwina Sprudham Shwetam Terutaram Duvasythah
Sharairbhidyum prutunasu Dushtare Chakrutyamindremiv charshaneesaham
Agniveer.com explains the meaning like this: Ashvina: Bipolar forces (Ashwin are considered a duo which exist together) Yuvam: You both Pedave: That causes rapid movementSpridham: for military and noble purpose. Pritanaasu: destroying armies Chakrityam: that causes continuous movement Shwetam: with utmost speed. Puravaram: for multiple means of attaining success. Dushtaram: Which cannot be escaped. Charshaneesaham: which is robust Sharyaih:which can be stopped and started again and again. Abhidyum:charged with electricity Indramiv: Powerful and fast Tarutaram: made of metal wire and to communicate Duvyasthah: develop
The conclusion is that this stanza indicates bipolar magnetism, how electricity is produced and conveyed through metal wires powerfully and fast and can be switched on and off at will. That, as per the site, was about the gist of the interpretation of this Vedic verse.
Translation of the same Vedic stanza, published by Ralph T.H. Griffith with reference to the commentary by a fourteenth century Sanskrit Scholar Sayana, and recommended by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore for those who want an English translation of the Veda, goes thus:
“A horse did ye provide for Pedu, excellent, white, O ye Asvins, conqueror of combatants, Invincible in war by arrows, seeking heaven worthy of fame, like Indra, vanquisher of men”
Aswins are the twin horse-mounted gods, who are worshipped (far more often than Vishnu is mentioned) in the Vedas, and make a cameo appearance in Mahabharatham where they have a double- date with Pandu’s second wife Madri. Thereby the twins beget Nakula and Sahadeva, the youngest step-brothers among Pandavas. Aswins are duo (twins), but by no means two-poled electro magnets by any stretch of imagination.
Agniveer.com finds scientific theories in other Vedic mantras as well. With the kind of interpretations and false translations given to the verses, you might find a Higgs Boson or theory of Relativity in a nursery rhyme. You might put in a couple of high-flung differential equations to wow the reader and make him feel that there is some relationship between the equation and the mantras.
It is interesting to note, while passing, that all the five illegitimate sons of Kunti and Madri were fathered by gods who find mention in the four Vedas. Neither Krishna nor Rama does.
Let me end with a caveat. Agniveer.com has much edifying and interesting content, comments and views. So does Peace TV.
Postscript : If a reader gets the feeling that this blog is inspired by Christian preachers and evangelists, I invite him/her to read an earlier blog, “Asianet, Babu Paul and the Church”.
References http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-05-01/all-that-matters/29493144_1_sathya-sai-sai-baba-chief-justice http://www.saibabaofindia.com/blitz1.html http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/nov/17radha.htm http://www.theforumsite.com/forum/topic/Miracles-in-Quran-Winds-impregnate-clouds-in-the-holy-Quran-/431527 Holy Quran, 51.47 and 48., Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali http://www.jannah.org/qurantrans/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtEoJ9kFkRA www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TiqxNhRGzk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoTO2BvnyVU&feature=related http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aryasamajonline/message/10925 http://www.sanskritweb.net/rigveda/rv01-113.pdf .
Vishu Menon’s WordPress blog, “Famous Astronauts and Good Faith”