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341. Alexander M. Kadakin ( ? ) Former Russian Ambassador in India. In his column Passage to India: The Coexistence of Multiple Realities, he has written:

"How more profound is India 's traditional world, where each stone is a hierophant, a sign of the presence of the sacred in our world. Every sunrise here becomes a cosmogenic drama, every woman an embodiment of the tantric principle of Shakti. Behind the exterior forms specific only of India hides the sublime universal paradigm of the traditional conscience totally opposite to the modernistic one, also far more vibrant and wholesome. The craving of human soul for sacral archetypes is unquenchable, and archetypes are easily juxtaposed with new age constructs. The sacral and the profane coexist. "

It took me time to realize that my India is similar to the human body with its seats of power and intellect and various indriyas. At times the body is guided by reason, and at other times by mere emotion. It might feel rigid in the morning, elastic by day time, overexcited by evening, and frustrated by night. It fights its ups and downs, tides and ebbs, low and high spirits. It looks different if observed from various angles: familiar yet mysterious, gorgeous yet shabby, pure yet impure. I have visited many other countries, but I reserve this complex metaphor of the body for India .   

India seems to be specially designed by the Vidhata to defy all prognoses and theories. My heart remains here but all my Indias will travel back along with me, needing no extra space in the plane. And new ones will appear when I return.  

Once I heard you weeping.../ Timidly. 
The scent of salty sands/ Was strumming the sitar./ 
Your laments made me love and treasure you,/ I India./
And when you were leaving,/ A soft sirocco burned my lips./ It was your kiss, I India!

(source:  Passage to India: The Coexistence of Multiple Realities - timesofindia.com). http://www.india.mid.ru/india/2e.html  

342. Sandhya Jain (  ?  ) author of Adi Deo Arya Devata. A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface and Evangelical Intrusions as well as eminent columnist in the mainstream English Media of India, she has written eloquently about Hinduism: 

"India has existed for several millennia; it is rooted in history and enshrined and encompassed by a civilisational ethos based on the attainment of Consciousness (self-realisation). India's ancient religion, Hinduism, is not a codified creed in the manner of other world religions. Properly known as the Sanatan Dharma or the Eternal Tradition, it is simultaneously a religion and a living civilisation or way of life, and is inspired by the ideal of universal welfare of all beings, both human and other creatures. Dharma is natural (cosmic) law. As Hinduism, it takes on a formal structure, creed and ritual; yet it is never the captive of absolutism. 

"The sanatan dharma recognises even the atheist as morally valid, and does not deny him space in the religious-spiritual spectrum. This is because sanatan dharma is all-embracing: it is righteousness, duty, and the eternal law that is not fixed (in time or space) but eternally renews itself in response to changing times and provides for as many paths to salvation as there are individual souls who seek it."

"Dharma demands that all faiths be treated with respect and courtesy, as they are all attempts to attain Godhead. Its quintessential argument is that each soul must chart its own evolutionary course, and that it is not given to any human agency to arbitrate a final truth for all mankind. Hindus do believe that the Vedas are the revealed truth that was heard by the Vedic rishis (Sruti). But that is no reason that they should be imposed upon the world by human regents who claim to be sole prophets of the only true revelation. This is the reason why, despite the belief in One Supreme Being, non-monotheism has been the hallmark of all Indic religions. Our polity and innate secularism has flowed naturally from these values; it is not for nothing that Aristotle observed that the Hindus were the only people to have successfully made dharma the basis of their public life (Politics)."

"Being a living civilization, Hinduism is by definition multi-dimensional, multi-layered. It is inherently distrustful of the one-dimensional approach towards religion, and does not perceive other faiths as alien, threatening or unacceptable." 

"Hinduism is a subtle, complex, multi-dimensional spiritual cosmos. Although it spawned a great and powerful religion with profound philosophies and daring intellectual constructs, it never ceased to be a 'way of life.' It never wholly identified with the religious forms it gave birth to (Shaivism, Vaishnavism, et al), nor was it subsumed by them. This is how it remains a living civilization: the individual seeker is accommodated theoretically and actually. Even today a seeker may reject the world of man and the world of formal religion, and pursue a solitary salvation on the banks of the Ganga or in the Himalayan mists. None may chastise him for deviance (for there is none), nor catechize him about the path to take (for there are as many paths as there are seekers). "

(source: The manacles of monotheism - By Sandhya Jain and The Indic tradition is catholic - By Sandhya Jain). For more thoughts by Sandhya Jain, refer to chapter on Articles).

 

Exquisite image of Lord Ganesha

"Hinduism is a subtle, complex, multi-dimensional spiritual cosmos. Although it spawned a great and powerful religion with profound philosophies and daring intellectual constructs, it never ceased to be a 'way of life.'

(image source: http://www.123ganeshchaturthi.dgreetings.com/).

***

343. Ram Dass  (1931-    ) was born Richard Alpert, the bright and personable scion of a wealthy, influential Jewish family. His father, George Alpert, a prominent Boston lawyer, helped found Brandeis University and was president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Alpert taught at Harvard in the '60s, joining his colleague Timothy Leary in "consciousness-raising" experiments.

Alpert has been studying the nature of consciousness for more than 50 years, and began his studies with psychology, specializing in human motivation and personality development. While at Harvard in 1961, Alpert's explorations of human consciousness led him to collaborate with Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg. 

Unsatisfied by that research Alpert then traveled to India where he met a man, Neem Karoli Baba, who would become his Hindu guru. Alpert stayed on to study Hinduism with this master, was renamed Ram Dass, and subsequently came back to the States to spread word of new techniques for spiritual practice based on yoga and transcendental meditation using a repeated mantra, such as "Om.

Since 1968, Ram Dass has pursued a variety of spiritual methods and practices from various ancient wisdom traditions, including devotional yoga focused on the Hindu spiritual figure Hanuman. In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, which developed the Prison Ashram Project, designed to help prison inmates grow spiritually during their incarceration, and the Dying Project, conceived as a spiritual support structure for conscious and dying. He helped usher in the New Age movement.

Now in his seventies, Ram Dass remains best-known for his 1971 classic bestseller Be Here Now, a book which sparked a generation’s quest for expanded consciousness and meaningful spirituality. Ram Dass is a co-founder and advisory board member of the Seva Foundation, an international service organization.

"one of his messages is that we are both human and divine and that we must hold both simultaneously."

(source: pbs.org and slate.com).

344. T C Galav ( ? ) author of the book Philosophy of Hinduism writes:

"Hindus have given the world a Krishna, a Buddha, a Gandhi, and hundreds of equally great saints, seers and scholars from Valmiki and Ved Vyasa to Samkra, Tulsidasa and Vivekananda, and with them a most logical, scientific and secular philosophy of religion and free worship of God or free contemplation of the supernatural - something different from dogmas and creeds based on miracles, mysteries, and irrational stories."

"Hinduism is freedom, especially the freedom in thinking about God."

"Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no founder. It does not depend for its authority on the personality of any man - a messiah, a savior, a prophet, or a guru. Its authority is eternal Truth which has revealed itself through the minds of great rishis who perfected themselves by long penances and are said to have heard in their hearts eternal truths as Sruti. Thus, it has become a cumulative record of metaphysical experimentation."

Rig Veda is the Veda par excellence, the real Veda that traces the earliest growth of religious ideas in India. It is the earliest book of the Hindus and, indeed of the whole world. It is in poetical form, has one thousand twenty eight poems or hymns called Samhita. It is so much full of thought that at this early period in history no poet in any other nation could have conceived them. "

(source: Philosophy of Hinduism - An Introduction By T. C. Galav Universal Science-Religion. ISBN: 0964237709  p 1 - 38.  Note: This book served as an inspiration for the creation of this website).

345. Rajeev Srinivasan (   ?  ) works in software sales and is a marketing professional, and writes commentary for Rediff.com. He graduated from IIT Madras and the Stanford Business School. 

He writes in his column: 

"Hinduism is the most apolitical of religions, with an extremely clear separation of church and state. This has always been the case historically."

(source: Tools of the 'secularist' arsenal - By Rajeev Srinivasan - rediff.com). 

Ancient Indians did recognize the importance of their rivers as literally the lifeblood of the nation. Hence the great honour and respect given to them in Hindu scriptures. See, for example, the sloka:

Gange cha! Yamune chiava! Godavari! Sarasvati!
Narmade! Sindhu! Kaveri! Jale asmin sannidhim kuru!


In this water, I invoke the presence of holy waters from The rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Cauvery!

The divinity attributed to the sacred rivers such as the Sarasvati, the Ganga, the Cauveri, and the Narmada has perhaps helped us manage and preserve them. The Rg Veda speaks often about the mighty river Sarasvati, as broad as the ocean. In the story of Indra's slaying of the water-demon Vrtra, we see the damming of the river and its subsequent release. Pilgrims even today undertake the arduous trek to Gaumukh, the origin of the Ganga/Bhagirathi, even though the glacier that gives rise to the river has receded eighteen kilometers away from the original temple to Ganga built millennia ago at the then source, Gangotri.

 

Ancient Indians did recognize the importance of their rivers as literally the lifeblood of the nation. Hence the great honour and respect given to them in Hindu scriptures.

A Flutist sadhu plays reverentially along the ghats of Varanasi, one of the world's most sacred centers of Hinduism.

(image source: National Geographic Traveler magazine -  Nov/Dec 2004).

***

The Sarasvati, along whose banks the bulk of the settlements of the Indus-Sarasvati (Harappan) civilisation can be found, dried up circa 2000 BCE, after an earthquake caused its tributaries to be captured by other rivers, the Sutlej by the Indus, and the Yamuna by the Ganga. The Indus-Sarasvati civilisation declined precipitously thereafter, and its next flowering was hundreds of years later, in the Gangetic Plain to the east. The river died, and so almost did the civilisation; this is a cautionary tale for us. There are those who still remember the long-lost river. The Gauda Saraswat Brahmins of the Konkan coast, Sarasvati's children, still recall that immense river, whose course was eight kilometers wide in parts.

(source: The River sutra - By Rajeev Srinivasan - rediff.com).

He writes about ancient India's greatest achievement: 

"Panini's grammar, dating back 2500 years, and encapsulating the complete structure of Sanskrit in four thousand context-free rules, is arguably the greatest achievement of a single human mind in all of history.

The sheer audacity to imagine capturing the infinity of language in the finitude of a set of rules is simply breathtaking: it could only have come from ancient India which invented the ideas of the infinite and the infinitesimal, and the correspondence between the two. The concept of context-free languages was re-invented only in the 1950s by computer scientists, since ambiguity is unacceptable to computers.

To take mathematics and astronomy, Madhava, Nilakantha and Parameswara of the Kerala school invented the ideas of the calculus and infinite series (including the so-called Taylor series) circa 1500 CE, and these were most probably transmitted to Europe by Jesuit missionaries. The so-called Pythagoras theorem was discussed by Baudhayana about 500 years before Pythagoras. Aryabhata calculated pi to six decimal places in 499 CE. Saayana appears to have accurately calculated the speed of light around 1370 CE."

(source: Pax Indica and a multipolar world - By Rajeev Srinivasan - rediff.com). For more on Rajeev Srinivasan, refer to chapter on Articles).

346. Paul Johnson (  ?  )  eminent British historian and author of several books including A History of the American People has observed that to prosper a nation needs tolerance. He pointed out the economic value of being tolerant. All societies flourish mightily when tolerance is the norm. And India is a good example of this. India's tradition, particularly the Hindu tradition of tolerance, has been exalted by Johnson to make his point that whenever a society develops tolerance, there is prosperity in the society. 

He says this about India:

" It is the nature of the Hindu religion to be tolerant and, in its own curious way, permissive. Under the socialist regime of Jawaharlal Nehru and his family successors the state was intolerant, restrictive and grotesquely bureaucratic. That has largely changed (though much bureaucracy remains), and the natural tolerance of the Hindu mind-set has replaced quasi-Marxist rigidity."

(source: Forbes.com).

In what appeared to be a thumbs-up to Hindu nationalism espoused by the BJP government, Johnson also took a swipe at the country’s Congress legacy, arguing that “under the socialist regime of Jawaharlal Nehru and his family successors the state was intolerant, restrictive and grotesquely bureaucratic. “That has largely changed (though much bureaucracy remains), he wrote, and the “natural tolerance of the Hindu mind-set has replaced quasi-Marxist rigidity.” 

(source: Boontimes for Hindu rate of growth - By Chidanand Rajghatta -economictimes.com and http://www.indianewengland.com/news/702058.html?mkey=1060861).

 

"It is the nature of the Hindu religion to be tolerant and the natural tolerance of the Hindu mind-set has replaced quasi-Marxist rigidity."

(image source: India Unveiled - By Robert Arnett  p. 65).

***

347. Andrew Krieger ( ? )  President and CEO of NorthBridge Capital Management.  A BA in Philosophy (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa), an MBA in Finance -- and prior to that, an MA in South Asian Studies, most notably Sanskrit. He has studied Sanskrit and Indian philosophy.  

He has visited India more than 20 times, studying yoga, traveling, introducing his family to "my love affair with an amazing civilization."

Krieger said he thought he had "ended up in the wrong body," meaning that he is really an Indian in his heart. I have heard this from my wife. India does this to some people.

"I got turned on to Vedanta when I was about 11 years old," 

The India I know has tremendous genetic capabilities; but 700 years of foreign rule has put a dampener on it. I still believe that it is the greatest civilisation ever on this planet, and those strong genetic factors are bound to re-emerge -- if you look at what is happening to the country, the way geniuses are emerging to lead it in every field, it is already happening in a sense, people, leaders with vision, are emerging.

When I talk of genetics, look, sports has been part of India's heritage for 5,000 years or more. Archery, for instance; wrestling; swimming, all these used to be part of Indian sporting tradition.

(source: India has tremendous genetic capabilities - rediff.com and  IMG to Open Sports School in India - nytimes.com).

348. Sri Chinmoy (1931 -  ) born Chinmoy Kumar Ghose in the small village of Shakpura in East Bengal. In 1944, after both his parents had died, 12 year-old Chinmoy entered the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community near Pondicherry in South India. Here he spent the next 20 years in spiritual practice - including long hours of meditation, practising athletics, writing poetry, essays and spiritual songs. In his early teens, Chinmoy had many profound inner experiences, and in subsequent years achieved very advanced states of meditation. In 1964, he moved to New York City to share his inner wealth with sincere seekers in the West.

He has written:

"Mother India is an aspiring tree. This aspiring tree has the Vedas as its only roots. The root is Truth, the tree is Truth, the experience of the tree is Truth, the realization of the tree is Truth, the realization of the tree is Truth, the revelation of the tree is Truth, the manifestation of the tree is Truth. The Vedic seers saw the Truth with their souls, in their Heavenly visions and in their earthly actions. Satyam eva jayate nanrtam (Mundakopanisad 3.1.6) - Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood.

The Vedas have the eternal wisdom. It is for us. The Vedas are more than willing to illumine us if we dare to listen to their message. Srnvantu visce amrtasya putrah (Rig Veda X 13.3) Hearken, ye sons of Immortality. The Vedas are divinely practical value. They house the earliest poetry and prose literature of the searching, striving and aspiring human soul. He who thinks that the Vedic poetry is primitive and the Vedic literature insignificant is unmistakably wanting in such sublime and enduring wisdom to the world at large?

The body of the Vedic poetry is simplicity
The vital of the Vedic poetry is sincerity.
The mind of the Vedic poetry is clarity.
The heart of the Vedic poetry is purity.
The soul of the Vedic poetry is luminosity.

The Vedic seers accepted the laws of others not only with their hearts' frankness but also with their souls' oneness. The saw the One in the many and the many in the One. To them, the Absolute was not their sole monopoly.

(source: Commentaries on The Vedas, The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita - By Shri Chinmoy p. 1 - 12).

349. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955)  was a visionary French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher. Author the book Le Phenomene Humain, or The Human Phenomenon. Teilhard’s evolutionism earned him the distrust of his religious superiors, while his religious mysticism made scientific circles suspicious.

A prominent 20th century scientific Christian theologian, studied Ramanuja’s Vedanta, and then equated Saguna Brahman with “the body of Christ.” However, he was persecuted by the Church, and lived in Asia in exile, while writing many of his works.

(source: Indic Challenges to the Discipline of Science and Religion - By Rajiv Malhotra ).

Teilhard de Chardin's extensive study and commentary on Vedanta during his trip to India, especially Ramanuja's works, are suppressed by his modern followers, even though Teilhard used these ideas to develop what is now 'liberal Christianity'. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science quoted Indic thought in the early editions of her books, but these references later got removed as Theosophy and she became competitors - one deploying Indic ideas openly in a perennial way and the other within strictly branded Christianity.

(source: The Ethics of Proselytizing - By Rajiv Malhotra - Hindu Vivek Kendra).

Towards a New Mysticism, Teilhard de Chardin and Eastern Religions - by  Ursula King, and in that book King describes how Teilhard went to India and read Vedanta, and how he commented on Ramanuja's interpretation, and remarked that his own ideas were similar. Then he came up with the idea that the cosmos was the body of Christ, which is comparable to saguna Brahman notion.

(source: Infinity Foundation and Indic traditions in Academic System - By Pankaj Jain).

Because Teilhard's ideas are to a great extent plagiarisms from Vedanta and Tantra gummed together with Christian-sounding jargon and heavily painted with evolutionism.

"The world I live in becomes divine. Yet these flames do not consume me, nor do these waters dissolve me; for, unlike the false forms of monism that impel us through passivity towards unconsciousness, the pan-Christianism I am finding places union at the term of an arduous process of differentiation. I shall attain the spirit only by releasing completely and exhaustively all the powers of matter... I recognize that, following the example of the incarnate God revealed to me by the Catholic faith, I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe." This is outright Hinduism. It has a little bit of everything in it — a recognizable verse from an Upanishad and pieces from several of the philosophical systems along with their practices.

 

Teilhard went to India and read Vedanta, and that he commented on Ramanuja's interpretation, and remarked that his own ideas were similar. 

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

***

A religious concept of "evolution," which was consciously rejected by Christian thought, has been basic to Hindu thought for millenia; every Hindu religious practice assumes it. Teilhard is well on his way towards the impersonal God when he writes: "Christ is becoming more and more indispensable to me... but at the same time the figure of the historical Christ is becoming less and less substantial and distinct to me." "Christianity is still to some extent a refuge, but it does not embrace, or satisfy or even lead the 'modern soul' any longer."

For Teilhard de Chardin it is the Omega Point, which belongs to something that is beyond representation. For Vivekananda it is the Om, the sacred syllable of the Hindus: "All humanity, converging at the foot of that sacred place where is set the symbol that is no symbol, the name that is beyond all sound."

(source: The Goal of Hinduism: The Universal Religion - orthodoxphotos.com).

Kaikhushru Dhunjibhoy Sethna in his book The Spirituality of the Future, is critical not only of Zaehner but of many Catholic expositions of the thought of Teilhard. These Catholic studies attempt to save Teilhard for the church by pointing to his continuity with tradition, especially with the Greek fathers, as if Teilhard's pantheism is Christian. As Teilhard has come to be more and more acceptable within Catholicism, Sethna, from outside Catholicism, seriously challenges his orthodoxy. Sethna argues that the pantheism of Teilhard is truly a pantheism unacceptable within Roman Catholicism. In fact, one of the major limitations in the thought of Teilhard flows from the unfreedom within his church (keep in mind the post-Vatican I, pre-Vatican II period within which he lived) which prevented him from going fully where his spirit was leading him. Teilhard's Catholicism stands in the way of Teilhard's spirituality, which is pantheistic in a sense fully in accord with Indian Vedanta.

The 20th Century, Teilhard de Chardin - most of his followers today would refuse to acknowledge the influence of India on the development of his thoughts. Yes, and he actually, during his exile in China for a few years, went to India. He bought a two-volume book on Vedanta, which covered the four different schools of Vedanta. He wrote notes on it. He commented on the Vedanta. He liked the particular interpretation Ramanuja, who was in the 10th century and has been a major figure in Hinduism. He wrote all that and yet in the mainstream conferences and books about Teilhard de Chardin, you will be hard pressed to find people who will acknowledge that he had any Indian influence upon him whatsoever.

(source:  Recent Studies of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - By Donald Goergen - Spirituality Today - Fall 1982 Vol. 34).

350. Queen Fredricka of Greece (1931- 1981) The wife of King Paul of Greece. 

Queen Frederika had come to pay homage to her guru, one of the Shankaracharyas,  following his book on non-dualism -i.e., absolute monism, also called Advaita (or Advaita Vendanta).  This book was an exposition of the teachings of the ancient Hindu scriptures called the Upanishads, or Vedanta.

While the Paramacharya was in Kalahasthi, Queen Frederica of Greece, who had visited India at that time, came to kalahasthi to have the blessings of the Paramacharya on December 3rd. 

Queen Frederika said that it was her advanced research in physics that had started her on a spiritual quest.  It culminated in her accepting the non-dualism or absolute monism of Shankara as her philosophy of life and science.

Long before physics discovered it, Shankara had argued that the world of sense experience, that is the world of matter, was a world of appearance (maya), because at the root of each individual existence is the same energy which forms the cosmos.  The human self (atman) is ultimately not distinct from the universal self (brahma).  Duality is illusion.  Reality is not dual, but one.  Science, said Frederika, has yet to catch up with what the seers in India had already understood over 2500 years ago. Therefore, she said to the Rajmata, 

‘You are fortunate to inherit such knowledge. I envy you. While Greece is the country of my birth, India is the country of my soul.’

(source: A Newsletter of the Kanchi Kamakoti Center of California  and  From the new physics to Hinduism).

351. Rajiv Malhotra ( ? )  After studying in Delhi's St. Columba's High School and then St. Stephen's College, Rajiv arrived in the US in 1971 to study Physics and Computer Science. His corporate careers and business entrepreneurship included the computer, software and telecom industries. He now spends full time with The Infinity Foundation, a non-profit organization in Princeton, New Jersey. He is also the author of new book - Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines

He has written thus:

"In Hinduism, there is no central authority to control people's personal beliefs in Hinduism, which respects many paths. There are many God-Truths, but these are merely representations by different people of a single God-Truth. This has given rise to hundreds of sects and sub sects within Hinduism, which have learned to coexist."

"In Hinduism, there is no concept similar to Christian martyrdom or Islamic jihad. The most important and revered historical figures of Hinduism were not martyrs. Spirituality is not about fighting someone or some religion. There is no discussion of other religions in Hindu scriptures, no campaigns against "false gods." Comparative religion is not of much interest to Hindus, as they do not see religion through competitive or predatory eyes. Comparative religion is not of much interest to Hindus, as they do not see religion through competitive or predatory eyes. Christians, on the other hand, go out of their way to control positions in academics, to research and to teach about Hinduism, as a sort of competitor intelligence gathering which seeks hegemony. "

"Hindus fail to understand the critical history-dependence of the Abrahamic religions and the way their core myths and institutions are built around these frozen smritis. Often what Hindus really mean is that all religions are equal in the respect and rights they deserve, but they confuse this with sameness. Hindu scholars to develop a rigorous approach to purva-paksha (scholarly critiques of other traditions within the framework of the Indian darshanas); to highlight the Hindu history of constructions through its own smriti traditions; and to refute false presuppositions about Hinduism that have spread into many academic disciplines."

(source: An Unholy Business  - hinduismtoday.com and Myth of Hindu Sameness - By Rajiv Malhotra. For more on Rajiv Malhotra refer to chapters on Glimpses IX and Glimpses X and Glimpses XI and The Axis of Neocolonialism and Where is India in the Clash of Civlization – By Rajiv Malhotra and Dharma's Good News: You Are Not a Sinner! - huffingtonpost.com

352. Stephen H Ruppenthal  (  ?  )  Son of a TWA pilot, he could travel across the world but India hooked him during his first visit. Later he would come to know the spiritual master Eknath Easwaran and work with him for about three decades. The author of the recently published The Path of Direct Awakening: Passages for Meditation was barely 14 when he fell in love with India.

" I have a special, soft corner in my heart for Hinduism. It is like a mother to me, and I have always felt so," 

A journalist said not too long ago that my insights into India may have been due to karma. Over the past month, I have thought a lot about that. Maybe I did have some of India in me even before I landed there at age 14. Mine is the India of the spirit. Before that, I was not religious in the least. But I came away from India wanting passionately to find the deepest truth in religion; not hear it from a church pulpit, but experience it in my consciousness.

Any great treasure takes some work to find and gain. When something is easily accessible, often it isn't worth that much, or perhaps the hard work comes later down the road. To me, Indian spirituality is a treasure of the highest order.

India stands for hope in a world full of violence and despair. The fertile spiritual soil of India will bring forth a spiritual figure who will guide the world back into love, into peace, into mutual respect and caring for each other. That is how we will save this planet.

I am more a devotee than a jnani. Though I love the wisdom of the Upanishads and such high philosophy and logic as the Nyaya-Vaishesheka and Nagarjuna, I feel most drawn to the life and example of Sri Krishna. Right now, religion is still concepts up in my head. I want to have religion flooding my heart. 

Sri Krishna offers this in the Bhagvad Gita. That is why I have memorised all of chapters 2 through 12, plus 15 and parts of 18, for use in my passage meditation. When I meditate on these passages, I try to repeat these words in my heart, where I believe Sri Krishna resides in all his glory. In this regard, I have also memorized all passages with the yin-yang symbol in my book that brings the same peace and energy directly from nature and the magical world around us.

" I am captivated also by epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana,"

(source: Mine is the India of the Spirit - interview with Stephen H Ruppenthal  - rediff.com).

353. Professor Robert P Goldman ?  )  Professor of Sanskrit at Berkeley. His areas of scholarly interest include Sanskrit literature and literary theory, Indian Epic Studies. He is perhaps best known for his work as the Director, General Editor, and a principal translator of a massive and fully annotated translation of the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. 

Goldman said he fell in love with Indian culture and history when he was a 20-year-old student at Columbia University, New York. "I was studying chemistry and took up a course on Indian history," he said. "I became fascinated. Indian history and culture was so rich," said Goldman, now 60. He took to studying Sanskrit, which he found "very tough and complicated". But he mastered it.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Ramayana: Medieval Indian Interpretations’, organised by the University of Hyderabad as part of its distinguished lecture series, Goldman rejected the Western view that Ramayana was a mixture of the real and the mythological.

“There’s clear-cut evidence to show that the incidents described in Ramayana took place,” he said here on Friday. Goldman said the experts had calculated the exact period in which the war between Lord Rama and Ravana took place and the time taken by Lord Hanuman to bring the Sanjeevani herb and how long the demon Kumbhakarna used to sleep.

 

There’s clear-cut evidence to show that the incidents described in Ramayana took place.

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

***


Goldman said he believed that Hanuman flew to Sri Lanka and spoke a human language. “It is something supernatural and something natural,” he said. “It is not myth as is generally claimed by some Westerners. Rama-yana is a reality.”

"Valmiki's Ramayan is the central document of Indian culture. The book and its message express in an aesthetically pleasing and emotionally moving form what must be seen as the most powerfully hegemonic discourse of the brahmanical and kshatriya elites of India's epic age. It continues to be the basic and the founding statement of social and political order in India even today. Greek epics like Homer's Iliad is the book of a lost civilisation for today's Westerners. The Ramayan is unique in continuing unbroken over almost 3000 years as the living document of Indian civilisation. The Doordarshan serial's massive popularity only served to remind people how important it continues to be in shaping basic perceptions and social attitudes in India today."

"Ram's central act is not the destruction of the demon king Ravan, but his cheerful acceptance of his wrongful disinheritance and cruel exile to preserve the honour of his foolish father."  "It is no exaggeration to say that in India everyone knows the Ram story. In one sense, one has to know it to be part of Indian culture."

(source:
Ramayana was real: American professor - deccanchronicle.com and saag.com and How fast do monkeys fly - in Ramayana?).

354. John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (1892- 1964) the world-renowned geneticist. In 1922, he joined Cambridge University to take up research in biochemistry and in 1925, J.B.S. became interested in genetics-the study of genetics and variations and this subsequently led him to his being elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1932. A year later he joined the University College, London, as Professor of Genetics, a position he held as long as he stayed in Britain. Haldane was the first to use mathematics in genetics. Among his significant contributions is an estimate of the rate of mutation of a human gene. He wrote articles on popular science and gave lectures. Some of his famous books are The Causes of Evolution, New Paths in Genetics and Biochemistry of Genetics.

Haldane was friends with the author Aldous Huxley and was the basis for the biologist Shearwater in Huxley's novel Antic Hay. Ideas from Haldane's Daedalus, such as ectogenesis (the development of fetuses in artificial wombs), also influenced Huxley's Brave New World. He had many students, the most famous of whom, John Maynard Smith was perhaps also the one most like himself.

He left Britain in 1907 and come to live in India, a country he came to love during his several visits here. He was inspired by Hindu philosophy, the Hindu way of life and the principle of non-violence. The Gita impressed him. He even liked the dhoti and kurta attire and used to wear them.

Disillusioned with Marxism in the 1940s and 50s, he eventually moved to India to conduct scientific research.

He came to India with a purpose. He became an Indian citizen, and went native. He knew the country had a variety of animals and plants in large numbers. He wanted to develop research in biology. He was at first appointed professor at the India Statistical Institute, Calcutta and later he became Director, Genetics and Biometry Laboratory in Bhubaneswar, Orissa where he died in 1964.

(source:
British geneticist who adopted Hinduism - vidyapatha.com).

355. Nirad C. Chaudhuri (1897-1999) His first book, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, was published in 1951 and was followed by many others, including The Continent of Circe, for which he won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, and Thy Hand Great Anarch!, a second volume of memoirs. Booker Prize winner. Chaudhuri moved to England in 1970. Sir Naipaul has referred to him a foolish man who wrote one good book, then went into kind of absurd fantasy, he built a whole book around somebody who came with the invaders. His views on British rule were not popular in India. Once an admirer of the British, he now finds them a decadent lot and their country in steep decline. This is the final disillusionment for the man who dedicated The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian to the British Empire! 

He writes about the vitality of Hinduism and the lack of organization.

"The faith which the Hindus had in their religion never wavered even in its worst days. It has had waxings and wanings which has kept the balance even." " In judging the vitality of Hinduism the point should be emphasized that it has maintained itself through the ages and enforced obedience to itself without support from any kind of organization, secular or spiritual." 

(source: Hinduism: a religion to live by - Nirad C. Chaudhari  p. 116-120).

356. Richard Garbe (1857–1927) a professor at the University of Tübingen, had earned his reputation through his scholarship on Indian philosophy, particularly his work on reconstructing the Bhagavad Gita in its original form. 

His year-long trip to India in 1885 was financed by the Prussian government through its Ministry of Culture and the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Garbe kept a detailed record of his experiences in India, which he published in 1889 under the title Indian Travel Sketches. Garbe's travels and reactions to the East are especially interesting because he was one of a handful of nineteenth-century German Indologists (scholars of Indian culture and antiquity) who actually visited India.

He had devoted a large part of his life to the study of the Sankhya, consoled himself with the thought that 'in Kapila's doctrine, for the first time in the history of the world, the complete independence and freedom of the human mind, its full confidence in its own powers, were exhibited."

(source: Philosophy of Hinduism - By Galav p. 35).

357. Sir. Henry M. Elliot ( ? )  author of History of India, volume III has written:

"It it is asserted that Paradise is in India,
Be not surprised, because Paradise itself is not comparable to it."

(source: History of India - By Sir. H. M. Elliot vol. II p. 28-29).

358. Girilal Jain (  - 1933)  doyen of Indian journalists and editor of The Times of India from 1978-1988, was a passionate crusader of the Hindu cause. Author of The Hindu Phenomenon, he has observed: 

"Many Hindu intellectuals are just not able to comprehend the fact that there is no human aspiration or experience which lies outside the range of Hinduism; it provides for even demon-Gods.  In contrast, all religions are in the nature of sects, though they cannot be so defined because of their insistence on their separateness and, indeed, hostility to Hinduism."

Hindus fought and lost, they did not throw up prophets of woe and doom; they did not bemoan that their Gods had let them down because they had been disloyal to them. Hindus are perhaps unique in this respect. 

"Hindus accept no divisions between the believer and unbeliever. Every path leads to Him (God or Reality); there can be as many paths to Him as the number of human. Indeed, the prophetic tradition is alien to Hinduism. Narrowness of the spirit, peculiar to Semitic faiths, has been alien to India."

The concept of nation itself is, in fact, alien to the Hindu temperament and genius. Such a concept is essentially Semitic in character even if it arose in western Europe in the eighteenth century. The nation concept too emphasizes the exclusion of those who do not belong to the charmed circle (territorial or linguistic or ethnic) as much as it emphasizes the inclusion of those who fall within the circle. By contrast, the essential spirit of Hinduism is 'inclusivist' and not 'exclusivisit' by definition. In that sense the Hindu fight is anxious to renew themselves in the spirit of their civilization and the state and the political and intellectual class trapped in the debris in which the British managed to bury our people before they left." 

(source: The Hindu Phenomenon - By Girilal Jain  p  5  -135 - South Asia Books - 1998 ISBN 8174760105).

"The Semitic spirit is intolerant and insistent on the pursuit of a particular course, whereas the Indian spirits is a broadminded and tolerant one. To say therefore that Ram and Rahim are the same is, in my opinion, a form of escapism or make-believe.

There is no concept, for example, in Hinduism of kafir. You cannot be a kafir in Hinduism. You do not cease to be a Hindu whatever you do, unless you choose to get converted to another religion. You can be a Buddhist and a Hindu at the same time, not only in a social sense but also in religious terms."

(source:  Girilal Jain on Hindu Rashtra - bharatvani.org).  

359. Swami Akhilananda (  ?   ) Texas raised Hindu disciple.

The first question most people ask the tall, blond, blue-eyed Hindu swami from Texas, almost everywhere he goes on his traveling lectures, is how did he get to be a Hindu swami.

"People always ask me that," said Swami Akhilananda, wearing sandals, beads, a saffron robe and a vertical red streak on his forehead called a tilak during a recent visit to the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Birmingham.

"Since I was a young child I was raised as a Hindu," he said. "Hinduism is such that, whatever you can ask, there's always an answer."

His father, a carpenter, was a spiritual seeker who studied Hinduism and helped oversee construction on the Barsana Dham, a Hindu Temple in Austin, Texas. Built on 200 acres near a flowing stream, it's one of the largest Hindu temples in the United States. Steeped in the history and scriptures of Hinduism, but raised in Texas, Swami Akhilananda has emerged as an eloquent spokesman for the appeal of the ancient religion to people who are not of Indian descent.

"Every Hindu knows there's only one god and he manifests himself in many different ways," Swami Akhilananda said.

The representations of gods are to help people understand a formless reality, he said. "There are a lot of different understandings of Hinduism," he said. "We don't do idol worship. It's a way to visualize God."

(source:  Texas-raised Hindu disciple eloquently speaks of ancient religion’s appeal - Greg Garrison - The Salt Lake Tribune).

360. Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales aka  Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya ( ? )  He earned a Ph.D in Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He specializes in Sanskrit, Hindu Studies, Philosophy of Religion and History of Religion. At the young age of 14, Dr. Morales visited a Hindu temple for the first time. So awed was he with the majestic beauty and spiritual power that he encountered in this temple that, on the spot, he decided to devote his life to the path of Yoga. After living the life of a celibate Yoga monk for six years, Dr. Morales was ordained as a brahmana (a spiritual teacher) in 1986. His Sanskrit name is Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya. He is a follower of the ancient Vishishta-Advaita philosophy of Ramanuja. His first book Experiencing Truth: The Vedic Way of Knowing God is scheduled to be published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 

He has observed: 

"The Sanskrit word "Sanatana" denotes that which always is, that which has neither beginning nor end, that which is eternal. Sanatana Dharma can cautiously be translated as The Eternal Natural Way". Hinduism is a way of life and world-view that is trans-geographical: traces of Sanatana Dharma are to be found in many of the ancient cultures of the world. No one actually knows when Sanatana Dharma was first started. Both practitioners of Hinduism, as well as all academic scholars of Hinduism, agree that there was no one specific time in known history when the religion was founded. Additionally, there was no one individual - a prophet, saint or priest - who can be claimed as the founder of the religion. It is an eternal spiritual culture that is as old as the Earth herself. Moreover, it is the sustainer of the Earth. This is indicated by the meanings of the two words that constitute the very name of this culture: sanatana means “eternal” and dharma means “natural law."

(source: Dharma Central - http://www.dharmacentral.com/faq.htm).

 


Lord Ganesha: God of Wisdom 
Hinduism is an eternal spiritual culture that is as old as the Earth herself. Moreover, it is the sustainer of the Earth. 

This is indicated by the meanings of the two words that constitute the very name of this culture: Sanatana means “eternal” and Dharma means “natural law."

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

***

"The related terms "myth", "mythology", "mythological", etc., have had an interesting history and a very pointed polemic use. That the terms are rife with very negative connotations is doubted by very few. The way the terms are used today both within academia, as well as by the general public, is to denote something which is untrue, false, "primitive" (i.e., not European), a lie. Polemically speaking, one culture's "myth" is another culture's sacred history...and visa versa. The academic field of the study of "mythological" literature was started by 18th century European Classicists who took their misconceptions about their own Greco-Roman pre-Christian religious and cultural heritage and attempted to apply them to all contemporary non-Christian cultures - including that of Bharat. There is the wonderful saying that we have all heard, that "history" is written by the victors. Consequently, the stories of Noah's Ark, Abraham, Moses, the Judges, David, etc. are unquestioningly accepted by most European historians - and sadly by many Hindu historians! - as being incontrovertible and established fact. What these Western scholars and their Westernized Indian counterparts called the "mythical" Sarasvati River, for example, was discovered to be a concrete geological fact in our century by satellite photography; Krishna's "mythical" city of Dvaraka was, likewise, discovered off the coast of Gujarat about two decades ago. Despite these facts, the Puranas, Itihasas and traditional histories of Bharat, unlike the Biblical "myths", are relegated by modern Western scholars to the misty realm of "myth". Bluntly: primitive fables. If you've guessed that what has brought this situation about has been nothing less than European racism and intellectual colonialism, coupled with a strong element of Hindu inferiority complex, you've guessed right! The terms "myth", "mythology", "mythological", etc., have been used as a powerful weapon by anti-Hindu bigots for decades as a way of delegitimizing Hindu beliefs and the Hindu way of life. Such terms should be absolutely anathema to every sincere and self-respecting Hindu when speaking about the sacred stories of Sanatana Dharma. Our stories are not "myths". If we truly respect our religion, our culture, our selves, we must never use these terms again. Rather, we should do what many other formally oppressed non-Christian cultures have recently done (such as many Native American tribes), and call these "Sacred Stories".

(source: Word as Weapon - By Frank Morales - Hindu Renaissance magazine). 

Also refer to Does Hinduism Teach That All Religions Are The Same? A Philosophical Critique of Radical Universalism - By Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales.

Refer to A Map of Sacred Stories of the Ancient World  - Contributed to this site by Dom Sturiale of Sydney, Australia.

Refer to The World of Myth - By Ramesh N Rao - sulekha.com).

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