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441. Satyanand Stokes aka. Samuel Evans Stokes (1882-1946), was the son of a wealthy Philadelphian engineer-businessman of Quaker antecedents, well-known for his contribution to the elevator technology. Young Samuel was not interested in following his father into business, and at 22 gave up his studies at the University of Yale, and opted to serve mankind. He set for sail to India and arrived at the leper home in Sabathu in 1905. He was sent for relief work to Kangra, then devastated by a severe earthquake. Thereafter, he came to the Christian Mission House at Kotgarh.

In 1910, he bought a derelict tea garden, got married and made Barubagh in Kotgarh his home. But Stokes was of a reflective and enquiring mind and although he described himself as a "lover of Christ" he could not shut his mind to Indian metaphysical thought. He learnt Sanskrit, studied eastern and western thought, and expounded his philosophy of life in a book entitled Satyakam.  

In 1932, under the aegis of Arya Samaj, he became a Hindu, and converted from Samuel Evans to Satyanand.

There were many Christian precepts and practices with which Stokes did not agree. In 1932, he converted to Hinduism, in part because he detested the Christian notion of eternal punishment.

In Hinduism he found the validation of his rejection of the Christian idea of eternal punishment. His belief in universal salvation, transmigration of the soul and the non-existence of sin as a power in opposition to holiness show him closer to the Vedantic philosophy. In the Hindu scriptures he found "not so much in the actual solutions arrived at, as in the general tendency of thought and method of approach, the key to much that the Christian religion, as evolved in the West, has never attempted to explain, or about which its teachings have been frankly agnostic."

Though Stokes remained true to the Christian canon, he showed courage of conviction when he freely admitted, "The light from the Hindu scriptures had come to fill the gaps in Christianity."

 

He build the temple that became his legacy to Thanedar.

Stokes freely admitted: "The light from the Hindu scriptures had come to fill the gaps in Christianity."  Likewise, the Christian community expressed shock, anger and betrayal at Stokes conversion.

***

During his rest and recuperation days at the Kotgarh church, young Samuel came in contact with a lot of Sadhus on the Hindustan-Tibet road making their way to Kailash Mansarovar. While the priest of the church was finely robed and had three meals a day, the simplicity of these Sadhus perturbed him and set him thinking about the Hindu religion.

He builds the temple that becomes his legacy to Thanedar. Next to the house is an Arya Samaj Mandir. The temple reclines amidst wooden pillars, surrounded by inscriptions from the Upanishads and Bhagvad Gita and gazing at the lofty white Himalayas that seemed a stones throw away. Juggal Kishore Birla, a scion of Indian industry at that time contributed Rs 25,000 to encourage him. He called the Paramjyoti Mandir or the Temple of Eternal light, he wanted it to be a storybook in wood and stone.  

In 1926, there is evidence in Stokes's writings that he did not adhere to the Christian doctrine of the divinity of Jesus. It is evident that he did not tolerate appeals to scripture but thought all religious scripture could be useful by evoking spiritual insight. In an essay explaining why he became a Hindu, Stokes saw no reason for Hindus to convert to Christianity, denied the uniqueness of Jesus and his message, and confessed that it would be hypocritical of him to raise his children as Christians with such reservations.

(source: The man behind the success story of Kotgarh - By Pamela Kanwar and A Quaker who joined freedom struggle - by Randeep Wadehra and  In a New Book, the Story of An American Who Embraced India and The India of My Dreams: Samuel Stokes's Challenge to Christian Mission  

442. Dr. Hilda Raja (   )  was a professor at Queen Mary's College, Chennai. She has held an advisory position in the Catholic Bishops Conference in India. She was a sociology professor at Stella Maris College, Chennai. . Her writings are forthright but balanced, precise, incisive, thought provoking and informative. Apart from being a practicing Catholic Christian, she is a true nationalist, who values the cultural heritage of this great country and respects the Hindu tradition too. She is Catholic by religion and an outspoken critic of religious conversion as it is practiced by Christian missionaries in India. Ms. Raja writes on her blog that: "There is no place for conversion because this ancient land of ours was already oriented to its Creator and the people had connected to the Supreme being of the Cosmos. Much before Christianity / Islam appeared our forefathers had their religion. It was their openness and utterly secular outlook which enabled all world religions to make India their home. To me India and all that it holds is sacred."

"There is misconception that Hinduism is not progressive and modern. The quest for Truth was not restricted to mere meditation but oriented to the explorations and scientific enquiry into the universe, thus emerged the tharkashastra. The intellectual basis of India’s heritage continues. The quest for truth and the spirit of free enquiry gave India an intellectual sharpness. This stands in contrast with the Abrahamic religions, with their monolithic structures and dogmas which stifle--nay ban the freedom of enquiry. One leads to the other--where there is freedom there is greater knowledge and where there is greater knowledge there is greater prosperity. Little wonder that India attracted people from all over the world. A. L. Basham’s description of this land in “The wonder that was India ” unfolds the tapestry with its beautiful colors and patterns—that was India. The rights of the people and their protection were coded in the Arthasashtra

"No country in world can boast of a heritage where the rights of the people were safeguarded and coded at a time when slavery existed. Yet the world thinks and even educated Indians think that civilization came from outside—that law was brought with the British and that India was steeped in ignorance. "

 

It is inexplicable how such a rich heritage of Hindu Dharma did not find a place in our education curriculum. A civilization which was not only Spiritual but which gave to the world from the Zero--the decimal system to the sciences like chemistry, anatomy, medicine, surgical know-how. 

Here was a civilization with spirituality at the core but with sciences of all branches developing in harmony. This rational spirituality of Sanatana Dharma gave greater vision of life and an impetus towards a well balanced growth of the family, society, nation and the world. 

(image source: World Mythology - By Roy Willis p. 68).

***

It is almost staggering to find that there was an undying and unending quest for Truth. This marked with the spirit of free Enquiry etches the refined contours of India ’s culture. What is fascinating is how the aim of intellectual knowledge in India expanded in ever widening circle like ripples. The need to penetrate ignorance and enlighten all the aspects of living seems to be the pursuit India ’s ancients were engaged in."  

It is inexplicable how such a rich heritage of Hindu Dharma did not find a place in our education curriculum. A civilization which was not only Spiritual but which gave to the world from the Zero--the decimal system to the sciences like chemistry, anatomy, medicine, surgical know-how. Here was a civilization with spirituality at the core but with sciences of all branches developing in harmony. This rational spirituality of Sanatana Dharma gave greater vision of life and an impetus towards a well balanced growth of the family, society, nation and the world. The majority of the Indians are unaware of this rich mine of theirs. The Vedic concept of, ‘may all be safe in the world’ speaks volumes of a philosophy that reaches to all and wishes all safety and peace. In a world with so much of violence and brutality, when man is against man—nation against nation, this stands out as bacon beckoning all nations to be knit as a family in brotherhood.

(source: India's Gift to the World - A Book review - By Dr. Hilda Raja). Refer to In Rome Durga Puja is not welcome - By Hilda Raja

443  Walter Raymond Drake (1913 - 1989), a British disciple of Charles Fort (1874 - 1932) published nine books on the ancient astronaut theme, the first four years earlier than Erich Von Däniken's bestseller Chariots of the Gods. In his book Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient East, he wrote:

"The oldest source of wisdom in the world must surely spring from India , whose initiates long ago probed the secrets of heaven, the story of Earth, the depths of Man’s soul, and propounded those sublime thoughts which illumined the Magi of Babylon, inspired the philosophers of Greece and worked their subtle influence on the religions of the West."

“Today we tend to belittle the past and boast our age as the highest peak in human culture, despite its sadly apparent short-comings; the common man in the West certainly lives more princely than many a King centuries ago and enjoys marvels of genius which would have amazed the old magicians, yet the literature of Eastern peoples shows that the Ancients sometimes surpassed us in the very things of which we are proud. The Indian lyricise of spaceships faster than light and missiles more violent than H-bombs; their Sanskrit texts describe aircraft apparently with radar and cameras; the wonderful ‘Mahabharat’ rivals the ‘Iliad’, the ‘Odyssey’…”  

The religions and philosophies of the East distilled a sublimity of thought scarce attained in the West; the wonderful Indian system of Yoga, the Gnani Yoga of Wisdom, Raja Yoga of Mind, Hatha Yoga of Body, Bhakti Yoga of Love, Karma Yoga of Work, developed a discipline millennia ago blending mysticism with daily life, showing Man’s relation to the Universe incarnating ever upwards to perfection to Union with God;  this supreme and beneficent teaching now exercising widening influence in our Western world must surely have sprung from civilizations long vanished …”  

The sublime Upanishads stress that our whole universe throbs with One Life.

 

The sublime Upanishads stress that our whole universe throbs with One Life.  

The oldest source of wisdom in the world must surely spring from India, whose initiates long ago probed the secrets of heaven, the story of Earth, the depths of Man’s soul, and propounded those sublime thoughts which illumined the Magi of Babylon, inspired the philosophers of Greece and worked their subtle influence on the religions of the West. 

(image source: harekrsna.com).

***

The oldest literature in the world is probably the Rig Veda, meaning ‘verse-knowledge’, comprising 10,000 invocations to the Gods written in Sanskrit about 1500 BC,. Sanskrit scholars like the erudite Dr. Max Muller, agree that the Vedas are far more ancient than Homer and from the real theogony of the Aryan race, in comparison the cosmogony and theogony of Hesiod and Genesis appear crude images of the Vedic sublimity. 

The Ramayana telling in magic imagery the quest of Rama for his stolen wife Sita, has thrilled the people of India for thousands of years; generations of wandering story-tellers have recited its 24,000 verses to marveling audiences captivated by this brilliant panorama of the fantastic past, the passions of heroic love, tragedies of dark revenge, aerial battles between Gods and Demons waged with nuclear bombs; the glory of noble deeds; the thrilling poetry of life, the philosophy of destiny and death.

This wonderful epic of the ‘Ramayana’ the inspiration of the world’s great classic literature, intrigues us most today by its frequent allusions to aerial vehicles and annihilating bombs, which we consider to be inventions of our own 20th century impossible in the far past. Students of Sanskrit literature soon revise their preconceived ideas and find that the heroes of Ancient India were apparently equipped with aircraft and missiles more sophisticated than those we boast today.  

The Indian lyricize of spaceships faster than light and missiles more violent than H-bombs; their Sanskrit texts describe aircraft apparently with radar and cameras; the wonderful ‘Mahabahrata’ rivals the ‘Ilad’ and the ‘Odyssey’, the ‘Aeneid,’ the plays of Shakespeare and most of our modern fiction all combined. The religions and philosophies of the East distilled a sublimity of thought scarce attained in the West; the wonderful Indian system of Yoga, the Gnani Yoga of Wisdom, Raja Yoga of Mind, Hatha Yoga of Body, Bhakti Yoga of Love, Karma Yoga of Work, developed a discipline millennia ago blending mysticism with daily life, showing Man’s relation to the Universe incarnating ever upwards to perfection to Union with God; this supreme and beneficent teaching now exerting widening influence in our Western world must surely have sprung from civilizations long vanished…”  

While our Western civilization is based on the Greeco-Judaic cultures, it is seldom realized that the Greeks and the Jews derived many of their fundamental concepts from old India especially after the invasion of Alexander in 327 BC.  Kannada and the Gnani Yogis speculated on the atom five hundred years before Democritus, Aryabhatta in the 6th century BC taught the rotation of the Earth, the scientific principles of medicine, botany and chemistry were established as early as 1300 BC in India while Indian astronomy dates from remote Antiquity.  

The Creation in Genesis seems a primitive version of the profound teaching of the Days and Nights of Brahman; the tale of Noah an echo of Vaivasvata warned by Lord Vishnu to build a ship for the coming Flood; the Jewish Kabbala and various events in the Bible can be traced to Hindu scriptures written many centuries earlier.  

To minds conditioned by two thousand years of Christianity, the lives and teachings of Krishna and Buddha throw so much doubt on the historicity of Jesus, that we dare to wonder if the whole Christian Legend is but a plagiarism of Hinduism and Buddhism. Such apparent blasphemy outrages all our feelings, to doubt the reality of Jesus seems mortal sin, yet if we honestly study the teachings of Krishna, Hellenized to Chrestus hence Christ, and compare the fundamental dogma of Virgin Birth, Miracles, Ritual death on a tree or cross, Immortality, we find ourselves speculating whether Jesus was a myth based on the earlier historical Krishna.  Many scholars believe that Old India was the source not only of civilization, the arts and sciences, but also of all the great religions of Antiquity.

(source: Gods and Spacemen in the Ancient East - By Walter Raymond Drake p. 25 and 226 and 9 - 49 and 1 – 65 ). Refer to chapter on Vimanas.

444. Bharat Gupt (  )  is Associate Professor, Delhi University, Founder member and Trustee International Forum for India's Heritage and author of the book India a cultural decline or revival?

He has observed that:

"Under the impact of colonial Christianity, Hinduism underwent a special phenomenon, which may be called as the ‘Commandment-alization of Hinduism.’ In India , this trend still continues even after Independence as the Anglophonic ruling class has stayed under the sway of neo-colonialism. In their hubris, the Abrahamics have not recognized that the Upanishaic Brahmavaada came to be evolved from the same tradition as the Vedic worship of multiple gods and is the oldest philosophy that propounded the unity of the Divine. For Christians and Muslims, the problem still exists as a divide between the people who believe in One omnipotent God and the people who admit the existence of many gods. The Abrahamic monotheists claim themselves to be logical and systematized and allege that polytheists are irrational and incapable of cosmic vision. It is primarily to address their false claim that one has to show that Hindus have thought on the subject more deeply.  

The Naasadeeya Sukta of Rig Veda gives indication that there was somebody who created even before the gods came into existence.  

“Then was not non-existence nor existence; there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. The One, breathless breathed by his own nature; apart from it was nothing whatsoever.”   (Rig Veda, Book X, verse 129). 

No doubt/It/He/She was the Purusha of the Purusha Sukta. That One, along with the later well defined Brahman is what the Hindus believed in. In this sense the unity of the Divine, behind all gods like Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra, Pooshaan, Usha and so many others of different manifestation is quite evident. ‘Ekam adviteeyam’ (Chandogya Upanishad, 6-2-1) or ‘Ishaavaasyamidam sarvam’ (Ishopanishad, 1), is the Hindu monotheism that admits also of material looking manifestations of the Divine. Western monotheism has come to be riddled with virulent ikonophobia (hatred for images).  

The Indian philosophies that avoid the pursuit of manifested imagery have not denounced others as in falsehood and error. While stating the unity of the Divine, they are not exclusivists as they do not admit that there can be only some manifestations/incarnations/characteristics of the One. The Abrahamic people are the exclusivists and as they insist that God can have only those characteristics as is found in Allah or Yahweh. The problem, then, is not One God versus Many Gods but God as seen by me alone versus God as seen by Others.  The Hindu faith in the Ultimate Reality behind all beliefs and philosophical systems is reflected nowhere better than in the benedictory verse of the play Mahanatakam by the 11th century poet Hanuman.  

“The One who is worshipped as Shiva by the Shaivas, as Brahma by Vedantees, as Buddha by Bauddhas, as Kartaa by Naiyayikas the logicians, as Arhat by the Jains and Karma (yajna) by Meemaansakas; such a Vishnu, the lord of three worlds, may fulfill your desires.”  

Hinduism now needs to strongly resist this commandment-alization in order to save its original genius. It also means restoration of the unity of thought, speech and action which was broken by the other-worldly religiosity (loka paraangamuckha Bhakti), Euro-modernity, Protestant, Catholic and Islamic iconoclasm, and Gandhian dryness/rasaheenataa, but is found as the ambrosiac kernel in the universe of pagan rituals.”  

In the traditional Hindu cosmology, the Universe was perceived as the body of the Being or Purusha and the parts of the Universe as his limbs. The human individual was part of the body and limbs. Alternatively, the Universe was perceived as a Cosmic Egg (Brahmaanda) containing the individual. Whatever was contained in the individual was also perceived to be contained in the Cosmos (yat pinde e tat brahmaand.e) because the individual was also perceived as a Purusha, thus asserting a complete unity of the individual with the Universe. All Hindu ritual was conceived as a method of heightening the awareness of this unity…"  

Replacement of the Vedic Model of Purusha with the Gutemberg-Newtonian model of Objectivity. - But a great change of attitude toward the very value of ritual set in after Independence . In the state-manipulated intellectual climate that prevailed during Nehru’s rule, reality and truth came to be defined in a realistic Newtonian terms of European physical sciences. This fascination did not account the post-classical developments in physics and their implications on philosophy. Not only were some of the rigorous traditions of native reasoning disregarded, even the latest views of modern science were blatantly ignored. 

(source: India a cultural decline or revival? - By Bharat Gupt p. 4 - 16).

 

Hindu temple in Sri Lanka.

Of all the ancients, Hinduism alone survives in a contemporary form that has recognizable antecedents. Today the fate of Hinduism still hangs precariously in the balance.

(image source: Indika - By John F Hurst). 

***

445. Daniel Joseph Boorstin  (1914 - 2004)  was the grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants, American historian, lawyer, professor, Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987, prize-winning author of several books including The Discovers, The Creators and The Seekers wrote this about Hinduism:

“The Hindus have left an eloquent history of their efforts to answer the riddle of Creation. The Vedas, sacred hymns in archaic Sanskrit from about 1500 to 900 BC do not depict a benevolent Creator, but record a man’s awe before the Creation as singers of the Vedas chant the radiance of this world. Their objects of worship were devas (cognate with Latin dues, god) derived from the old Sanskrit div, meaning brightness. Gods were the shining ones. The luminosity of their world impressed the Hindus from the beginning. Not the fitting-together-ness, not the hierarchy of beings or the order of nature, but the blinding splendor, the Light of the World. How the world once came into being or how it might end seemed irrelevant before the brightness of the visible world.  

What sanctifies the worshipper is no act of conversion, no change of spirit, but the simple act of seeing, the Hindi word darsan. A Hindu goes to a temple not to “worship,” but rather for “darshan,” to see the image of the deity. Each of the cities sacred to each of the thousands of gods offers its own special darsan: Benares (Varanasi) for the darsan of Lord Vishvanath, the high Himalayas for the darsan of Vishnu, or a nearby hilltop for the darsan of a local god. In the life of the sacred city of Benares the quest for seeing embodies much that is distinctive to the religions of Hindus. The Hindu is dazzled by a vision of the holy, not merely holy people but places like the Himalayan peaks where the gods live, or the Ganges which flows from Heaven to Earth, or countless inconspicuous sites where gods and goddesses or unsung heroes showed their divine mettle. The Hindu pilgrims trek hundreds of miles just for another darsan.  

According to the Hindus, the deity or a holy spirit or place or image “gives darsan” amd the people “take darsan” for which there seems no counterpoint in any Western religion. Darsan, is a two-way flow of vision. While the devotee sees the god, so too the god sees the devotee, and the two make contact through their eyes. In building a new temple, even before images of the gods are made, the gods are beseeched to turn a kindly eye on all who come to see them. And when the images of the gods are made, their eyes are the last part completed.  For the Hindu, seeing became a form of touching. Western religious traditions were wary of the seen, of the image, and the Protestant Reformation built a theology on this suspicion of all images.  

Western religions begin with a notion that One – One God, One Book, One Son, One Church, One Nation under God – is better than many. The Hindu, dazzled by the wondrous variety of the creation, could see not see it that way. For so multiplex a world, the more gods the better. Howe could any one god account for so varied a creation? And why not another alternative between monotheism and polytheism? It is hardly surprising that the awestruck Hindu never came up with a single grand Creator-god.  

Western religion begin with a notion that One – One God, One Book, One Son, One Church, One Nation under God – is better than many.  An Olympian democracy allowed the Hindu devotees to focus his darsan on one particular god at each moment.

In India, the tolerant, ever growing community of gods and goddesses, each divinity was willing to take a turn receiving the darsan of the faithful. None of the nasty envy of the Greek gods whose festering pride and jealousy motivated the Homeric epics! And how unlike the sovereign Creator-God of the Hebrews and Christians and Muslims. “for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. But Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi is each momentarily seen as creator, sustainer, and supreme power, each surrounded by a galaxy of lesser gods. The Western worshiper is baffled in his quest for a hierarchy among them. The dazzled vision sees no hierarchy but the mystery expressed in every growing thing. As the Upanishads, commentaries on the Vedas, sang:  

“Fetch me a fruit of the banyan tree.”
“Here is one, sir.”
“Break it.”
“I have broken it, sir.”
‘What do you see?”
“very tiny seeds, sir.”
“Break one.”
“I have broken it, sir.”
“Now what do you see?”
“Nothing, sir.”
“My son,” the father said, “ what you do no perceive is the essence, and in that essence the mighty banyan tree exists. Believe me, my son, in that essence is the self of all that is. That is the Truth, that is the Self. And you are that Self, Svetaketu!”  

It is hardly surprising that the awestruck Hindus never came up with a single grand Creator God. 

 

Hinduism - An Olympian democracy. 

In India, the tolerant, ever growing community of gods and goddesses, each divinity was willing to take a turn receiving the darsan of the faithful. None of the nasty envy of the Greek gods whose festering pride and jealousy motivated the Homeric epics! And how unlike the sovereign Creator-God of the Hebrews and Christians and Muslims. “for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”  

The Hindus never allowed themselves the comfort of dogma. How many were the gods? Who ruled among them? Despite all this wondrous wealth of myth and poetry, the Brahman poet in the Rig Veda sang courageous doubt. 

Western religious traditions (Judeo-Christianity and Islam) were wary of the seen, of the image, and the Protestant Reformation built a theology on this suspicion of all images.  

***

While the Hindus sought and found the solace of myth in their countless communities of god and goddesses, they never allowed themselves the comfort of dogma. How many were the gods? Who ruled among them? Despite all this wondrous wealth of myth and poetry, the Brahman poet in the Rig Veda sang courageous doubt. So went their “Hymn of Creation:  

But, after all, who knows, and who can say?
whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?  

Whence all creation had its origin
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows – or maybe even he does not know.  

And there is no deeper division between West and East than that marked by this reluctance of Hindu sages to answer the luminosity of the creation with simple dogmas and definitions.  

For the Hindus the creation was not a bringing into being of the wonder of the world. Rather it was a dismemberment, a disintegration of the original Oneness. For him the Creation seemed not the expression of a rational, benevolent Maker in wondrous new forms but a fragmenting of the unity of nature into countless limited forms. The Hindu saw the creation of our world as “the self-limitation of the transcendent.” For the Hindu our very notion of creation was reversed. Instead of transforming nothing into everything, the Hindu creation broke into countless imperfect fragments what was already there. The Hindu reached back for the Oneness that was there in the beginning and he aimed to reintegrate nature. The cycles of birth and death have perpetuated that disintegrating force of creation. Samsara, the transmigration of the soul from one life to another, perpetuated the separateness of the individual. The object for all was to “get off the wheel,” to escape the cycle, and merge finally into the original One.  While the aim of the Christian faithful would be “eternal Life,” the aim of the Hindu was to be uncreated. Yoga, or “union,” was the disciplined effort to reverse creation and return to the perfect Oneness from which the world had been fragmented.  

(source: The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination - By Daniel J Boorstin p. 4 - 8).  

He has also observed:

"The Hindu dynasties produced their many ornate versions of the primeval mountain – dome, spire, hexagonal or octagonal tower. The surfaces and panels, the niches and friezes of these stone monuments, bubble with images of plants, and elephants, and of men and women in all postures. The grandest of them, the Hindu temple Kailasa (Shiva’s paradise) at Ellora, in south-central India , ingeniously used the mountain itself to make the effigy of a divine mountain. A mountain-carved-out-of-mountain, Kailasa was constructed by first cutting a trench into the mountain to isolate a mass of rock 276 feet long, 154 feet wide, and 100 feet high. By working from the top of the mass down, the rock cutters avoided the need for scaffolding. The product of two hundred years’ labor was a worthy replica of Shiva’s paradise, Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas. Hindu architects and sculptors down to their latest efforts, as at Khajraho in central India (c.1000), never gave up their rebuilding of Mt. Meru, and spent their energy with ever greater profligacy in carving erotic images of the reunion of man and his gods. The sikhara, or spires, which topped the Hindu temple also meant mountain peak. Perhaps the most gigantic religious monument in the world is the temple complex of Angkor Wat, built by King Suryavarman II as his sepulcher and the temple of his divinity. The temple here, fantastically elaborated and multiplied, is a vast filigreed steeped pyramid, a sculptured mountain. "

(source:  The Discoverers - By Daniel Joseph Boornstin p. 85 – 86).

446. Deepak Shimkhada ( ) was in the faculty of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California where he taught courses on Asian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and the Visions of the Divine Feminine. He is currently a visiting professor at California State University in Northridge. 

He gives the composition and meaning of Om thus:

The sound of OM is followed by a silence, and the silence is
reconnected with the sound, hence completing a full
circle. Om is composed of three letters, and yet it's not a
word. The unique aspect of Om is that it is monosyllabic. It is
considered to be the sound of creation, hence it's primordial.

He is the author of the book, The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia. He has written:

"The temple of Kumari, a living embodiment of the Hindu goddess Durga, has been a significant shrine of national importance in Nepal for over three centuries. Ever since Nepal was thrown open to the world with the abolition of the Rana dynasty in the mid twentieth century, the temple has also increasingly become a popular tourist attraction. While the temple itself is only three centuries old, the tradition of worshipping the goddess in a virgin form in South Asia and among the Hindus is over two millennia old. Not only was the ancient shrine to her at Kanyakumari (the virgin maiden) at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent well known to the Romans, but the worship of a virgin girl is an essential part of the autumnal worship of the goddess Durga. Nowhere is this religious festival more important than in Bengal among the Bengali speaking Hindus where a virgin girl is the center of the celebration. The Maoists of Nepal should note that the Communists who have been ruling West Bengal for over two decades have not abolished the tradition."

(source: A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom spanning continents and time about India and her culture - By Sushama Londhe p. 57 and The Future of Nepal’s “Living” Goddess: Is Her Death Necessary? - By Deepak Shimkhada). 

447Gene D Matlock (  ) is author of several books including India Once Ruled the Americas and Jesus and Moses Are Buried in India, Birthplace of Abraham and the Hebrews. In his book, Yishvara 2000 he has remarked that :

"In ancient times, the country we of today call India was not confined to the Indian subcontinent alone. Its northern limit was the Artic Circle or North Polar regions. Its human inhabited parts began in the northeastern extreme of Siberia, including Alaska, extending downward through what are now Russia, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, and every other nation in those regions not named down to and including Antarctica or the uninhabited South Polar regions. The Indians in the North Polar regions down to Iran were called Scythians. These Scythians also extended as far west as the British Isles and eastward into China. They gave their name to Scotland. The Indians south of today's Iran were and still are, called Bharatiya.

As far as we know, everyone originally spoke Sanskrit dialect, also such North Indian languages as Brahma Bhasha or Balhika Bhasha. We are told that Sumerian was the world's first civilized nation. The "Outer Space" cultists like to say that astronauts from other planets founded the Sumerian civilization because it seemed to "spring up all at once." According to them, this proves that someone from outside this planet flew in suddenly, landed, and left civilized people behind. They're going to be disappointed to find out that a highly developed civilization existed in India at least two millenniums before the Sumerian civilization, from 8,000 to 6,000 BC, in what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet and Kashmir. According to Hindu tradition, a privilege few in that society even owned flying machines....""The citizen of that region of Northern India were known as Yadvas, Yadu, Yahu-Deva, Yauda, Yahuda etc. 

In his book, India Once Ruled the Americas! he states: "The people of India have long known that their ancestors once sailed to and settled in the Americas. They called America 'Patala,' The Underworld,' not because they believed it to be underground, but because the other side of the globe appeared to be straight down."

(source: Yishvara 2000 - By Gene D Matlock  p. 1 - 3 and India Once Ruled the Americas!).

448Jerry Earl Johnston (   )  two-time winner of the national Wilbur Award. He is a columnist, critic, and feature writer for the Deseret News. He has won awards from the Associated Press, Reader's Digest, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Utah Arts Council. He is also the author of Dads and Other Heroes. He has observed that:

"Of the five major world religions -- Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Islam and Hindu -- Hinduism is likely the least understood by Westerners. People see aspects of it -- the bathing in the Ganges River, Yogis in meditation, the Hare Krishnas -- but they seem like so many random puzzle pieces.

That's because Hinduism exists as a series of unlinked pieces.

There is no doctrine to follow in Hinduism. No central authority. To be a Hindu you only have to declare yourself one. And unlike the other four major religions, Hinduism has no founder, no beginning, which leads many Hindus to claim the religion has existed as long as the universe. Scholars have so far traced the religion back at least 3,500 years, to the Indus Valley in what is now Pakistan . There, an ancient civilization blossomed and became surprisingly sophisticated....."

The striking together of those two cultures produced our earliest traces of modern Hinduism, though scientists have few answers for how it all came to be. Do Hindus worship animals? Well, yes and no. They worship animals as manifestations of the great Absolute, or Brahman -- an eternal reality behind the multiplicity of forms.

When told worshipping animals is idolatry, they may reply, "Why do you limit the forms the Absolute can assume?" 

One of the best-known "puzzle pieces of Hinduism" is reincarnation, the idea that the essence of each individual keeps recycling itself until it is released.

But reincarnation is really about cleansing -- like that bath in the Ganges River .
Imagine a pair of dirty gym socks. You run them through one wash cycle in the washing machine, but that doesn't do the trick. So you run them through again to make them cleaner. Maybe even a third time. After enough washings, they are ready to come out. 

Living in the world forces us to suffer. As we work our way through our challenges and burdens we search for ways out. Each time we are reincarnated we have moved along the path.

There are Hindu holy books -- such as the
Vedas -- to help people discover how to free themselves.

In the end, Hinduism is a fascinating religion -- a religion that, despite newspaper stories like this, lies beyond explanation.

(source: Hinduism for beginners - By Jerry Johnston - deseretnews.com  10/18/2009).

449. Charles Michael Byrd aka Charukrishna (1952   ) who describes himself as being “of black, white and Cherokee heritage,” made a name as the editor and publisher of Interracial Voice Web site from 1995 to 2003. 

In his first book, The Bhagavad-Gita in Black and White: From Mulatto Pride to Krishna Consciousness, Byrd, whose Krishna name is Charukrishna, has said he found the answer to his lifelong quest of transcending race, ethnicity, religion and other physical categories to ascend to a higher, universal identity. This book is primarily aimed at the multiracial population in America, and any American who wants to avail him or herself of the Vedic knowledge and how it might apply to the current situation of race consciousness in the United States.

"The Bhagavad Gita is an important source book on yoga, is the essence of India's Vedic wisdom, and is one of the great spiritual and philosophical classics of the world. Remarkably, however, the setting for this best known classic of spiritual literature is an ancient Indian battlefield - in the land of Kurukshetra." "At the last moment before entering battle, the great warrior Arjuna begins to wonder about the real meaning of his life. Why should he fight against his friends and relatives? Why does he exist? Where is he going after death? In the Bhagavad Gita, the 'Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kirshna - Arjuna's friend and spiritual master - brings His disciple from perplexity to spiritual enlightenment through instruction in the science of self-realization. In the course of doing so, Krishna concisely but definitively explains transcendental knowledge - karma-yoga (the path of God realization through dedicating the fruits of one's work to God), jnana-yoga (the path of spiritual realization through a speculative philosophical search for truth), and bhakti-yoga (linking with the Supreme Lord through devotional service).

"The perennial philosophy of the Gita has intrigued the philosophical mind of man, both Eastern and Western, for millennia. Henry David Thoreau wrote that in relation to the Bhagavad gita, "our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial."

"Most of us are familiar with the late George Harrison's 1970's hit "My Sweet Lord" in which he sings of longing to be with and to see Lord Krishna. "Hare Krishna" is a mantra that one chants. The holy name of the Lord is His sound incarnation, and since the Lord is the absolute whole, there is no difference between His holy name and His transcendental form. Thus by chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna one can directly associate with Him by sound vibration. We are all expansions of God's spiritual energy, and we are all trying to find a way out of the trap of maya or the illusory material energy. We're all trying to find out our way back home - back to Godhead."

(source: The Bhagavad-Gita in Black and White: From Mulatto Pride to Krishna Consciousness - By Charles Michael Byrd p. 1 - 9).

 

Sukunda, oil lamp with water pot, copper, circa 18th century, from Nepal. Sukunda which actually conflates a water pot with a lamp embodies the principle of life and death through water and fire the same way Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva symbolize respectively. 

photo courtesy: Dr. Deepak Shimkhada.

(image source: A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom spanning continents and time about India and her culture - By Sushama Londhe  p. xxii).

***

450. Alok K Bohara is Professor of Economics at the University of New Mexico and he has remarked that:

"Half a century later, it was a nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who finally brought the Gita into the popular vocabulary of the scientists in the West by citing this quote from the Bhagavad Gita. "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. " and "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." (July 16, 1945, inscription at first nuclear test site Trinity, New Mexico)."

"With this began a western love affair with the wonderful tradition of the Vedic philosophy and the Gita. Since then, many scientists have quoted the Gita. For example, famous astro-physicist Carl Sagan was awed by the revelation in the Gita that the creation and destruction, an essential part of the cosmic evolution, was actually postulated in a more realistic vast time scale [8.17-8.19]."

“The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faith dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of the Earth or the sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.”

"Meditation, yoga, and the idea of spiritual living have now become an accepted part of the mainstream society. These popular phenomena have also begun to come under objective scrutiny. As the science discovers the power of spirituality through various scientific tests, the essence of the Gita becomes ever more relevant to our modern society. The simple idea of meditation discovered five to six thousand years ago in the Rigveda (oldest of the four Vedas), and a preferred choice of the true knowledge seekers, has been scientifically shown to have power to alter brain waves. Experiments have also shown that meditation reduces criminal intent, stress, and anger, and helps with recovery from illness."

"To that end, quantum physics has attempted to show through experiment that the sub-atomic particles behave unpredictably (in a probabilistic sense) and can exist in multiplicity except when it is observed. This raises the possibility that the physical surrounding around us is just one of many possible “worlds” that comes in existence in its fixed form only in reference to our viewing or the frame of mind. In Gita, Krishna alludes to the possibility of this other “parallel world” by telling Arjuna of having already witnessed the Mahabharata battle and its outcomes. Is this the maya (illusion) that the Gita warns us about? That is, is reality the projection of our mind as postulated in the Gita?"

(source: Science and the Gita - By Alok K Bohara).

451. Dr. Subramanium Swamy (1939 -  )  He is also a reputed economist and worked as Assistant Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Secretariat, New York in 1963. He worked with two Nobel laureates, Simon Kuznets and Paul A. Samuelson for his doctorate in economics at the Harvard University, awarded in 1965. He was a faculty at Harvard in 1964 and has been teaching there off and on for 12 years with the latest stint completed in 2005. He is acknowledged as an authority on comparative studies of India and China. He is also well-versed in the Mandarin Chinese (Hanyu) language. He was Professor of Economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi from 1969.

He is the President of the Janata Party and author of the book Hindus Under Siege - The Way Out and Hindutva and National Renaissance

He has written eloquently about Hinduism and danger Hindus face today. Hinduism is under an invisible multi-dimensional siege, and that the manifestation of this siege can be seen by those alerted to it. There are four dimensions - 1. Religious - denigration of Hindu icons. 2. Psychological - in the foisting of fraudulent version of our history. 3. Physical - the Islamic terrorist driven ethnic cleansing of Hindus of Kashmir and Bangladesh, and the money-induced conversion of Hindus to Christianity. 4. Cultural - through globalization of tastes, dress and interpersonal morality that are determined in the Anglo-saxon white Christian world ("The West").

"Hinduism, known as Santana Dharma is unique in that in all the world, it has a continuous and unbroken tradition for the longest time; and it is a religion constituted by its theology, cultural ethos, and civilizational history. India's Hindu society is founded on the content of these three constituents. Hindustan, as India is known abroad even today (eg. Yindu guo in Chinese, Hind in Arabia), as concept is defined as a nation of Hindus and those others in the nation who accept that their ancestors are Hindus and revere their legacy. The Hindu ethos provided a sanctuary and home to those of other faiths fleeing from their countries due to religious persecution. That is the glorious Hindu tradition, the ethos of compassion and co-option that is unparalleled in world history."

" The true factual history is that defiant Hindus suffered persecution and economic depravation during Islamic and Christian reigns, such as through taxation - jizia and plain brutality, but Hindus by and large refused to capitulate and convert. These legacies need to form the mindset of the modern Hindu. What exactly is today confronting Hindus, is however, much more difficult to meet than earlier in history because the forces at work to erode and undermine HIndu faith, unlike before, are unseen, clandestine, pernicious, deceptive but most of all sophisticated and media savvy. Tragically therefore, a much more educated and large numbers of Hindus have been unwittingly co-opted today in this sinister conspiracy directed by foreigners who have no love for India and who also see (much as Lord Macaulay saw in the 19th century), that the hoary Hindu foundation of India is a stumbling block for the furtherance of their nefarious perfidious game. Adherence to Hinduism is also being sought to be diluted in the name of modernity and this dilution is made a norm of secularism. The concept of a collective Hindu mindset is being ridiculed as chauvinist and retrograde, even fundamentalist. What Swami Vivekananda, Bankim Chatterjee, Sri Aurobindo, and Subramaniya Bharati had achieved by raising Hindu consciousness to that end, has now been depleted and dissipated over the last six decades."

 

In India's long history, Sanskrit has been the greatest integrating force, the source of cultural continuum, the medium of literary creativity, the voice of the sages and the languages of the most sublime thoughts and the profoundest of the philosophies of life. 

The great grammarian Panini is now being called the first software man, without the hardware. And the focus is on the roughly 4,000 rules of Sanskrit grammar that he evolved. Rules that are so scientific and logical in manner that they closely resemble structures used by computer scientists throughout the world."

(image source: mutinywordpress.com).

***

Writing about Sanskrit - he says: " In India's long history, Sanskrit has been the greatest integrating force, the source of cultural continuum, the medium of literary creativity, the voice of the sages and the languages of the most sublime thoughts and the profoundest of the philosophies of life. Sanskrit had its impact in many countries outside. It became the language of the learned even in the South-East Asia and to some extent parts of Central Asia. Most interestingly, many of the ancient Sanskrit plays that exists were found not in India but in Turfan on the edge of the Great Gobi desert in China. The great grammarian Panini is now being called the first software man, without the hardware. And the focus is on the roughly 4,000 rules of Sanskrit grammar that he evolved. Rules that are so scientific and logical in manner that they closely resemble structures used by computer scientists throughout the world."

(source:  Hindus Under Siege: The Way Out - By Dr. Subramanium Swamy  p. 1 - 111). Refer to More Equal Than Others: Study of the Indian Left – by Ravi Shanker Kapoor

452. Professor Dean Brown (  ) an eminent Theoretical Physicist, cosmologist, philosopher and Sanskrit scholar, whose translation of the Upanishads was published by the Philosophical Research Society. 

In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove of Thinking Allowed TV show brings about an interesting co-relation of Sanskrit & Physics

He has pointed out that most European languages can be traced back to a root language that is also related to Sanskrit – the sacred language of the ancient Vedic religions of India . Many English words actually have Sanskrit origins. Similarly, many Vedic religious concepts can also be found in Western culture. 

He discusses the fundamental idea of the Upanishads that the essence of each individual, the atman, is identical to the whole universe, the principle of Brahman. In this sense, the polytheistic traditions of India can be said to be monistic at their very core.

(source: Interview with Jeffrey Mishlove - Thinking Allowed). 

453. Dr. Gautam Sen was a lecturer in politics of the world economy, London School of Economics and Political Science, and a member of the Indo-British Roundtable. He is the author of the book, The Mind of Swami Vivekananda and director of Gandhi-Einstein Foundation

He has written about the danger a tolerant Hinduism faces today: 

"The most significant aspect of Hinduism is not just shared popular custom and culture, but a philosophical and practical orientation towards life."

"Hindus often repeat the forlorn cry that the truth will triumph. In some abstract sense such a conviction may be valid because trial and error propel supposedly rational humankind towards verisimilitude. But such an outcome does not preclude that much will vanish in the interim while rational man achieves higher levels of consciousness and approaches the truth. Satyameva Jayate did not prevent countless Jews being incinerated in gas chambers and everything known as Hinduism may also perish. The Jewish tragedy in Europe was colossal and the demise of Hinduism may only turn out to be more long drawn out, but inevitable. The path to truth is littered with the corpses of the innocent as untruth overcomes itself. The deeply rooted self-doubt and self-destructive impulse of Hinduism has joined hands with the opportunistic Semitic paws that had been stroking their kill since time immemorial. The nominally Hindu intellectual class is in virtual unison in their wish to crucify their past, embracing Christian and Islamic imperialism instead.

Of all the ancients, Hinduism alone survives in a contemporary form that has recognizable antecedents.

Perhaps this is primarily the case because economic transformation and modernity have been slow in enveloping Hindu society. By contrast, Japan, despite escaping modern colonial depredation succumbed to the forces of modernity, though not without a struggle to retain its older identity. In its indecorous haste towards modern statehood China seems impatient to discard anything of the past that might stand in the way of a militarised and garish nationalist incarnation. And it has dragged Tibet down with it in paroxysms of ignorant malice. Its economically successful Korean neighbour has been turned into a mere Christian outpost by aggressive proselytisation

The fate of Hinduism still hangs precariously in the balance.

An important dimension of the academic curriculum should be based firmly on the heroic struggles of Hindu and Sikh kingdoms to defend their way of life and sovereignty and reflection on the manifold ideas and practices of indigenous traditions. Every student must emerge knowledgeable about the divinity of Lord Ram, the Buddha, Guru Nanak and Ramakrishna, the transcendent significance of the Adi Shankara and the achievements of the many saints that succeeded him."

(source: Practice is what matters: Hindu, only a Hindu - By Dr. Gautam Sen and Manifesto for saving Hindu India - By Gautam Sen). Refer to How India's Intellectuals spread lies - By Ravi Shanker Kapoor and More Equal Than Others: Study of the Indian Left – by Ravi Shanker Kapoor.

454. Erich von Daniken (1935 -  ) known as the father of the ancient astronaut theory and Swiss author of many books including Chariots of the Gods has extensively written about the flying apparatus, the Vimanas in the epics of India thus:

The 'Ramayana' telling in magic imagery the quest of Rama for his stolen wife, Sita, has thrilled the people of India, for thousands of years; generations of wandering story-tellers have recited its 24,000 verses to marveling audiences captivated by this brilliant panorama of the fantastic past, the passions of heroic love, tragedies of dark revenge, aerial battles between Gods and demons waged with nuclear bombs; the glory of noble deeds; the thrilling poetry of life, the philosophy of destiny and death. 

This wonderful epic of the 'Ramayana,' the inspiration of the world's great classic literature, intrigues us most today by its frequent allusions to aerial vehicles and annihilating bombs, which we consider to be inventions of own twentieth century impossible in the far past. Students of Sanskrit literature soon revise their preconceived ideas and find that the heroes of Ancient India were apparently equipped with aircraft and missiles more sophisticated than those we boast today. The thirty-first chapter of the Samasranganasutradhara, ascribed to King Bhojadira in the 11th century, contains descriptions of remarkable flying ships such as the elephant-machine, wooden-bird-machine traveling in the sky, wooden-vimana-machine flying in the air, door-keeper-machine, soldier-machine, etc. denoting different types of craft for different purposes. 

" In the Indian national epic the Mahabharata, dating from the pre-Christian past, one of the 80,000 couplets gives philosophical expression to the immensity of time. 

'God embraces space and time.
Time is the seed of the universe.'

The most fascinating tales of war in the air waged with fantastic weapons transcending our own scientific-fiction today are narrated in the 'Mahabharata', a wonderful poem of 200,000 lines, eight times as long as the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' combined, a veritable world in literature. Transmuting the martial adventures and exquisite passions brood the sublime teachings of the Bhagavad Gita with their incalculable influence on the Greek philosophers and the great Thinkers of the West. We today are more intrigued by the aerial craft and wonder weapons suggesting some secret science inspired by Beings from Space.  

 

The discourse between the hero, Arjuna, and the Lord Krishna, as the warrior hesitates to fight his own kinsfolk form the lofty Bhagavad Gita, The Song of the Lord, wherein Krishna, reveals the meaning of the universe, the wisdom of Brahman, and the duty of men, expounding the religion of the Hindus. 

***

The discourse between the hero, Arjuna, and the Lord Krishna, as the warrior hesitates to fight his own kinsfolk form the lofty Bhagavad Gita, The Song of the Lord, wherein Krishna, reveals the meaning of the universe, the wisdom of Brahman, and the duty of men, expounding the religion of the Hindus. 

"Heroes soared to the skies in celestial cars and fought aerial duels blasting their rivals with explosive darts or annihilated armies with nuclear bombs. These enchanting stories of old India, more fascinating than our own science fiction, told of a warm colorful land of culture, its society sparkling with bejeweled splendor, where princes and poets, saints and scoundrels, mystics and magicians, lived with an exhilaration unequalled until the glittering Renaissance awoke the genius of Italy to life; in those exotic kingdoms beyond the Himalayas the Spacemen felt at home in a sophistication they could never find amid the stark austerity of the Peloponnese or the proud intolerance of Palestine.

The Sanskrit tales glow with a humanism and humor distilled in bewitching poetry, depicting a genial, cultured society ages old, surely inspired by some wondrous, resplendent civilization from the stars."

(source: According to the Evidence - By Erich von Daniken p. 161 and Chariots of the Gods  - By Erich von Daniken  p. 1 - 50).   Refer to chapter on Vimanas

455. Steven J Rosen  aka Satyaraja Dasa (1955   - ) Was initiated disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is the founding editor of The Journal of Vaishnava Studies. He is also an associate editor of Back to Godhead, the magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement.  

He has said in his book, The Hidden Glory of India:

"Spirituality informs all aspects of Indian culture. It permeates family and social life, as well as, many major political movements. To the average person living in India, religion is an expression of universal truth, a profound complex outgrowth of the soul. Indian religions is so all-encompassing that it engages practitioners differently from the Western religious traditions. 

"India's timeless spiritual teachings have an allure that has beckoned millions: from seekers trekking high in the snowy Himalayas to austere mendicants meditating on the serene banks of the Ganges. "

(source: The Hidden Glory of India - By Steven J Rosen  p 1 - 8).

456. Radha Rajan is editor of vigilonline. She has passionately observed about the danger that Hinduism faces today: 

"The Hindu civilization is unique in that it defies being classified as ancient India, medieval India and modern or contemporary India. While this classification is true of countries and nations that have a pre-Christian and/or pre-Islamic history and even true of Christian nations where Christianity itself over time has undergone radical changes in its core contents resulting in a sharp disconnect between say medieval England and contemporary England, the core features of Indian/Hindu civilisational character has endured and remained the same. Hinduism poses the biggest challenge to the predatory Abrahamic faiths for just two reasons:

Hinduism alone has demonstrated how Hindus, while possessing a strong sense of ‘us’, have dealt with ‘them’ without annihilating ‘them’, without destroying ‘their’ way of life or belief systems, and without violating ‘their’ societies. And that is why Hindus never conquered territory to destroy ‘them’, never waged aasuric wars as part of their core belief or as a matter of faith, never undertook murderous, homogenizing missions. Historically, before post-independent Indian public discourse re-defined ‘Hindu tolerance’ and ahimsa, Hindus and Hindu society have also demonstrated that independent of state support or state power, they are capable of defending their dharma, their core beliefs and their territory from predatory religions which threatened their way of life and worldview. And this, for Islam, Christianity, Marxism and their state supporters and terrorist methods, is the bigger challenge.

Outside of territories governed by Sanatana Dharma the world has not known spontaneous or harmonious diversity where diversity is accepted as the way of Creation and existence. Christian and Islamic countries have been homogenous by the very nature of their religion. Homogenising societies and nations is a violent political intent realized by religion and vise versa and even after two thousand years of bloody history and pervasive destruction of other cultures and nations it doesn’t look like either Islam or Christianity will give up their homogenizing mission as the fundamental purpose for existence. "

(source: vigilonline.com).

457. Theos Casimir Bernard (1908 - 1947) was an accomplished American practitioner of Yoga and a scholar of religion and explorer. Bernard pioneered Indian and Tibetan studies at Columbia University. He published several accounts of the theory and practice of the religions of India and Tibet, including his PhD dissertation on Hatha Yoga.

In his book Hindu Philosophy he writes that:

"There is an innate in the human heart a metaphysical hunger to know and understand what lies beyond the mysterious and illusive veil of nature. This is true from savage to savant. Each in his own way, according to his own capacity, tries to fathom the eternal mystery of life. From the beginning of time, teachers have endeavored to bridge the gap between the seen and the unseen and to show cause for the inescapable experiences of sorrow and suffering that engulf mankind. In the West, man's perceptual knowledge of the external world has been his measuring rod, his basis for theorizing. 

"Since the dawn of Western civilization, there have been few achievements in the realm of philosophy that have been able to outlive the scientific findings of a single century. With the advent of every new discovery, we have to revise our scheme of things. The entire sea of science is strewn with theories that have had to be abandoned because the inventive genius of man has been able to bring to light new facts that would not fit into the previous theories. The latest ideas are always called improvements and "evolution."

"The West refuses to accept the postulate that the world of mind and matter is but an appearance of a deeper reality which lies beyond the perception of our senses, regardless of how magnified these may be by powerful instruments of precision. One of the reasons for this is due to the preconceived notion that man cannot know metaphysical truths by direct experience; therefore, at best, metaphysical truths can only be speculations, inferences, or ungrounded faith. Even if it were possible, the West maintains that no man has ever attained such supreme knowledge. Another attitude is that all systems of thought must be mutually contradictive, and that, if one of them be true, the rest must be false. There is little place left for various interpretations of a single philosophy to suit different minds."

 

"The West refuses to accept the postulate that the world of mind and matter is but an appearance of a deeper reality which lies beyond the perception of our senses, regardless of how magnified these may be by powerful instruments of precision. 

Another attitude is that all systems of thought must be mutually contradictive, and that, if one of them be true, the rest must be false. There is little place left for various interpretations of a single philosophy to suit different minds."

(image source: Hindu Philosophy - By Theos Casimir Bernard).

***

"In the Orient, it has been accepted that man can know metaphysical truths by direct experience. He need not depend upon speculation, inference, or faith. The literature is replete with the writings of men who are said to know the whole truth of Nature and human existence, and the teachings of these men have been set forth in the philosophical systems of ancient India. 

"Hindu philosophy does not attempt to train one to discern metaphysical truths; it offers a way of thinking which enables us one rationally to understand the reality experienced by self fulfilled personalities, and thereby to lead one to the realization of Truth. In this light, philosophy is seen as art of life and not a theory about the universe, for it is the means of attaining the highest aspirations of man. It is not for the discovery, but for the understanding of Truth."

(source:  Hindu Philosophy - By Theos Casimir Bernard  p. 1 - 5).

458. George (Augustine) Thundiparambil columnist has written some articles including 'Why this war on Hinduism?, The Source of Bias against Hindus and The Vedas and the Original Sin.  He has observed in his article, Sanatana Dharma: Beacon of Human Consciousness

"The awareness of dharma as the underlying principle of all nature is the basic characteristic of a Hindu. Every other principle is considered subordinate to this. There are many definitions of this word and various translations that include “righteousness,” “justice,”  “duty,” “religion,” etc., but any or all of these indicate parts of it and consist of something more. Dharma transcends belief. For a Hindu, it is an inner certitude. It arises from the certainty that upholding dharma is not only the right way, but the only natural way to think and act. Dharma is ethical and adharma, which is the absence of dharma, is unethical and is termed ‘paapa’ (sin). One upholds dharma by rightful conduct; by doing the right thing at the right time at the right place. Dharma is directly related to one’s consciousness. One can sense dharma in every situation and in every stage and station of our life. It manifests as one’s awareness of a transcendental ideal that prompts us to make decisions and act in a certain way."

"Whatever connotations the word ‘dharma’ evoke as applied in a context, it is the idea of ‘Sanatana Dharma’ which knits all Hindus together, whether they be in Nepal, India, or in the Caribbean. Every Hindu knows what dharma is. Every Hindu also knows that dharma is sanatana (without beginning or end, perennial) as it transcends phenomena. It is more than a belief or a maxim which has had a phenomenal birth and which therefore would also have a phenomenal death. Dharma is bound to the human soul (atman) just as heat is bound to fire, or fluidity to water [2]. Dharma is bound to an object as its inseparable function. When one speaks of ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ one is speaking of an eternal bond that is indivisible from human beings; you cannot separate heat from fire. For an individual, the supreme dharma (the supreme function) is the realization of the supreme truth."

"Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is the link that connects the present to the pre-historic past. It is the oldest religion on earth, and it still exists as vibrant as ever, because it subsists from holding on to goodness. It is demonstrated very clearly in Mahabharata that the upholding of dharma is possible only by humans, not by gods. It falls on Yudhishtira (also called Dharmaputra - ‘son of dharma’) to save dharma from perishing. Dharma comprises the continuum of human consciousness. And the whole of humanity owes to the Hindus for redeeming dharma or positive goodness from the onslaught of evil, which is nothing but positive ignorance that has consumed all other ancient religions in its wake. The ancient slogan: ‘dharmo rakshati rakshite’ (dharma saves the one who saves dharma) speaks for itself."

The greatest expositor of dharma, Sage Vyasa, speaks at the end of Mahabharata: “Dharma is that by which everything endures. It is the substratum of everything. It is untranslatable in any language. Through desire for wealth or out of greed or fear, do not give up dharma, aye, even to save your own life. Dharma is eternal happiness.”

(source: Sanatana Dharma: Beacon of Human Consciousness - By George (Augustine) Thundiparambil).

459. Damodar P Singhal (1925 - 1986) Indian historian, was a lecturer in the Asian History in the University of Malaya before moving over to the University of Queensland. He wrote in his book, India and World Civilization:

"Indian civilization is notable for its antiquity and continuity. Apart from its vitality, the continuity of Indian civilization is largely due to its ability to adapt to alien virtues, to harmonize contradictions and assimilate new ideas. No country was more frequently invaded and occupied by foreigners, yet, in ancient times, no civilization spread abroad more extensively than that of India. And thus, occupying a central position in the cultures of the world, India has contributed enormously to human civilization. Whilst other ancient civilizations have long ceased to exist, Indian civilization has continued to grow despite revolutionary changes."

"The oldest philosophical tradition in the world is to be traced in the ancient Vedas. Although the religious and philosophical spirit of India emerges distinctly in the Rig Veda, the Upanishads are its most brilliant exposition, for the Vedic civilization was naturalistic and utilitarian, although it did not exclude cosmological and religious speculation. One of the most significant concepts of Vedic India was that of rta, the idea of the true order of the world, a concept that may be considered the forerunner of dharma of ancient and even modern times. Older than Plato or Confucius, the Upanishads are the most ancient of philosophical works and contain the mature wisdom of India's intellectual and spiritual attainment. They have inspired not only the orthodox systems of Indian thought but also the so-called heterodox schools such as Buddhism. In profundity of thought and beauty of style, they have rarely been surpassed not only in Indian thought but in the Western and Chinese philosophical traditions as well.  The Upanishads have greatly influenced Indian culture throughout history and have also found enthusiastic admirers abroad. Schopenhauer was almost lyrical about them and so was Max Muller. The Upanishads are saturated with the spirit of inquiry, intellectual analysis, and a passion for seeking the truth. "

 

Parvati palace and temple, Pune, India.

(image source: webmaster's own collection of photos).

Indian philosophical thought, in contrast to the Western tradition, has remained more stable and more clearly continuous. In spite of its metaphysical nature and religious overtones, Indian philosophy is essentially practical, aiming at realizing spirituality what is known intellectually. Knowledge without vision is meaningless. Hence, Indians call their philosophy darshan, vision. 

***

"Indian philosophical thought, in contrast to the Western tradition, has remained more stable and more clearly continuous. In spite of its metaphysical nature and religious overtones, Indian philosophy is essentially practical, aiming at realizing spirituality what is known intellectually. Knowledge without vision is meaningless. Hence, Indians call their philosophy darshan, vision. " "Philosophy, as religion, is seen India as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. Hence, there is no room for dogma or intolerance in Indian tradition because the roads to truth are more than one. The infinite reality cannot be comprehended by the finite mind."

Thus, perhaps, India is the home of philosophy. Certainly India is a country where philosophy has always been very popular and influential. An American scholar (Will Durant) has stated that teachers of philosophy in India were as numerous as merchants in Babylonia. The sages have always been heroes of the Indians, and some of their festive celebrations were marked relentless debates between chief exponents of rival schools of thought. The prayer of the oldest Upanishad - From the unreal to the real, From darkness to the Light, From Death to Immortality - is frequently reflected in Plato's Dialogues."

(source: India and World Civilization - By Damodar P Singhal   p. 1 - 33).

460. Paramhansa Yogananda (1893 – 1952)  was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced many westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.  

Yogananda taught his students the need for direct experience of truth, as opposed to blind belief. He said that “The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soul’s power of knowing God. To know what religion is really all about, one must know God.”

Echoing traditional Hindu teachings, he taught that the entire universe is God's cosmic motion picture, and that individuals are merely actors in the divine play who change roles through reincarnation. He taught that mankind's deep suffering is rooted in identifying too closely with one's current role, rather than with the movie's director, or God.

He taught Kriya Yoga and other meditation practices to help people achieve that understanding, which he called Self-realization. Self-realization is the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.  

He has written: "The Vedas declare that the ignorant man who rests content with making the slightest distinction between the individual soul and the Supreme Self is exposed to danger," Shankara the great monist has written. "Where there is duality by virtue of ignorance, one sees all things as distinct from the Self. When everything is seen as the Self, then there is not even an atom other than the Self. . . .

The atomic structure of matter was well-known to the ancient Hindus. One of the six systems of Indian philosophy is Vaisesika, from the Sanskrit root visesas, "atomic individuality." One of the foremost Vaisesika expounders was Aulukya, also called Kanada, "the atom-eater," born about 2800 years ago.

In an article in East-West, April, 1934, a summary of Vaisesika scientific knowledge was given as follows: "Though the modern 'atomic theory' is generally considered a new advance of science, it was brilliantly expounded long ago by Kanada, 'the atom-eater.' The Sanskrit anus can be properly translated as 'atom' in the latter's literal Greek sense of 'uncut' or indivisible. Other scientific expositions of Vaisesika treatises of the B.C. era include (1) the movement of needles toward magnets, (2) the circulation of water in plants, (3) akash or ether, inert and structureless, as a basis for transmitting subtle forces, (4) the solar fire as the cause of all other forms of heat, (5) heat as the cause of molecular change, (6) the law of gravitation as caused by the quality that inheres in earth-atoms to give them their attractive power or downward pull, (7) the kinetic nature of all energy; causation as always rooted in an expenditure of energy or a redistribution of motion, (8) universal dissolution through the disintegration of atoms, (9) the radiation of heat and light rays, infinitely small particles, darting forth in all directions with inconceivable speed (the modern 'cosmic rays' theory), (10) the relativity of time and space.

(source: wikipedia.org and Autobiography of a Yogi - By Paramhansa Yogananda).

 

 

                                                 

 

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