Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Is there order in the current economic systems?

I am no economist. For that matter I do not even know many of the terminologies that are associated with this subject. I do not read the Business magazines to qualify myself as an expert on everyday affairs

Here are some straightforward questions that need to be answered

1. When we talk about some country economies doing well, is it happening at the expense of another country? If so,  is it because the performance of that country has degraded or is it because of cut throat competition? If it is the latter then is not a shame that life is all about competition and not about opportunities? Has that impacted the number of people employed in the other country. Has someone's ability to meet the basis expenses in his or her family been taken away because of that?

2. Is a country or organization making money at the expense of the health and happy social life of its people? A person working for more than half a day , is likely to miss out on so many important things in his life starting from the priority given to health and the priority given to one's family. Broken people do not make a success story

3. What has been the motivation towards generating wealth. Is it well being or is it motivated by acquiring more than what is required to be happy? Which goods produced by the economy is really required? Do we produce all that which is essential for everyone? Do we produce something that is harmful or unncessarily consuming resources difficult to replace. Are there ways of leading a more austere life which puts less strain on the environment?

4. Are some of the technologies which might be helping us out in many ways, because of lack of regulation, being used in ways that exploit the society and also cause disharmony ?

5. Is there a solid argument to suggest that monetary institutions like bank which thrive on loan interests or credits do not actually cause inflation and collapse of economy in the long term?

6. Is there a backup  for the world economies in case some critical raw material used by different products produced to sustain the economies dries out or are we hoping for some good fortune or luck to intervene just before time runs out? In that case can we not term the economy as non sustainable and unpredictable?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sanathana Dharma - 8- Unity of Religions - Paramacharya

In this I will try to explain Paramacharya of Kanchi's views some of which will easily be considered reasonable and some which is likely to be difficult to comprehend for a Non Hindu

All religions have one common ideal, worship of the Lord, and all of them proclaim that there is but one God. This one God accepts your devotion irrespective of the manner of your worship, whether it is according to this or that religion. So there is no need to abandon the religion of your birth and embrace another.
The temple, the church, the mosque, the vihara may be different from one another. The idol or the symbol in them may not also be the same and the rites performed in them may be different. But the Paramatman who wants to grace the worshipper, whatever be his faith, is the same. The different religions have taken shape according to the customs peculiar to the countries in which they originated and according to the differences in the mental outlook of the people inhabiting them. The goal of all religions is to lead people to the same Paramatman according to the different attributes of the devotees concerned. So there is no need for people to change over to another faith. Converts demean not only the religion of their birth but also the one to which they convert. Indeed they do demean God.
A perspective that is common among some scholars is that polytheism gave way to monotheism . There is also a strong view that there are religions that are clear that there is more than one God, and the efforts to
present a one god behind the many is a later development. These views are born from the belief that religions are disconnected from an earlier religion and many religions excepting a few ( or one or two ) are nothing other than human invention. Question of religions being disconnected does not arise unless it is proven that at some stage of human development there was no religion of any kind. All that we know about civilized and uncivilized world points to the fact that religion has always been there wherever a human settlement has existed. Thus every religion must have been preceded by another religion. Thus the question would arise that if today according to scientific view, all humans must have originated from a single place, and if this is a reasonable argument to accept, then it is reasonable to accept that all religions have come from a parent religion. Whether the first religion was monotheistic or polytheistic is difficult to answer but if we look at the major religions atleast there is a similarity in some outlook and the fact that today all these religions endorse a single god principle. Paramacharya points to this fact and his spiritual experience and insight indicates that there is much that is similar in the different religions, the differences not being denied. He therefore goes one step further and says that conversion in religion is wrong.

 "A man leaves the religion of his birth because he thinks there is something wanting in it," so you may think. 'Why does the Svaamigal say then that the convert demeans the new religion that he embraces? " I will tell you why. Is it not because they think that God is not the same in all religions that people embrace a new faith? By doing so, they see God in a reduced form, don't they? They presumably believe that the God of the religion of their birth is useless and jump to another faith. But do they believe that the God of their new religion is a universal God? No. No. If they did there would be no need for any change of faith. Why do people embrace a new faith? Is it not because that the continuance in the religion of their birth would mean a denial of the blessings of the God of the new faith to which they are attracted? This means that they place limitations on their new religion as well as on its God. When they convert to a new religion, apparently out of respect for it, they indeed dishonour it.
The Quote above  is self explanatory. Two things are being denied by the convert
   1. That blessings of the God of new religion is available only to the convert and that God is not universal in his blessings, and not helping out people of different attitudes and circumstances.
   2. That God's grace was absent in the life of the individual until a certain period of the individual's life and that God is selectively guiding

Howsoever the missionary sugar coats the purpose of the conversion, the implication above cannot be sidestepped or overridden at any step even if the conversion be only for the purpose of marriage or convenience. It is either a hypocrisy or lack of patience or sincerity that is behind any conversion.

One big difference between Hinduism and other faiths is that it does not proclaim that it alone shows the path to liberation. Our Vedic religion alone has not practiced conversion and the reason for it is that our forefathers were well aware that all religions are nothing but different paths to realise the one and only Paramatman. The Vedas proclaim: "The wise speak of the One Truth by different names. " Sri Krsna says in the Gita: "In whatever way or form a man worships me, I increase his faith and make him firm and steady in that worship. " And says one of the Azhvars: "Avaravar tamatamadu tarivari vahaivahai avaravar iraiyavar". This is the reason why the Hindus have not practiced- like adherents of other religions- proselytisation and religious persecution. Nor have they waged anything like the crusades or jehads.

The above view is not agreed by many sociologists in India. They present a violent hinduism which absorbed the tribal religions and they see the ruins of buddhism in every idol and forest god which was eliminated by hinduism. Less said the better about most of these theories. A crucial point in these theories is lack of actual evidence, either in any ancient oral or written tradition for most of these specific instances.

Our long history is sufficient proof of this. All historians accept the fact of our religious tolerance. They observe that, an empire like Srivijaya was established in the East, people there accepted our culture and our way of life willingly, not because they were imposed on them by force. They further remark that Hinduism spread through trade and not through force.
In my opinion the Vedic religion was once prevalent all over the world. Certain ruins and relics found in various regions of the planet attest to this fact. Even historians who disagree with my view concede that in the past people in many lands accepted Indian culture and the way of life willingly and not on account of any force on our part.

There are a lot of interesting pointers to this fact starting here
All religions that practice conversion employ a certain ritual. For instance, there is baptism in Christianity. Hinduism has more ritual than any other religion, yet its canonical texts do not contain any rite for conversion. No better proof is needed for the fact that we have at no time either encouraged conversion or practiced it.
When a passenger arrives at a station by train he is besieged by the driver of the horse-cart, by the rikshavala, by the cabbie, and so on. He hires the vehicle in which he likes to be driven to his destination. It cannot be said with reason that those who ply different vehicles are guilty of competing with one another for the fare. After all it is their livelihood. But it makes no sense for the adherents of various faiths to vie with one another to take a man to the one and only destination that is God.
There is a bridge across a river, consisting of a number of arches, each of them built to the same design and measurement. To the man sitting next to a particular arch it would appear to be bigger than the other arches. So is the case with people belonging to a particular religion. They feel that their religion alone is great and want others to join it. There is in fact no such need for anyone to leave the religion of his birth for another.
That the beliefs and customs of the various religions are different cannot be a cause for complaint. Nor is there any need to make all of them similar. The important thing is for the followers of the various faiths to live in harmony with one another. The goal must be unity, not uniformity.
The simple thing to add here is that attempts to have uniformity is the cause of disunity as there is always a different view of what should be uniform. It is better to establish practices which have deep roots in tradition which give moral strength in the individual, which he/she can be influenced from the time of his or her birth, which is acceptable to a group of people who can provide ethical/moral support to each other. A human being is a man of a community and not an isolated person. The community must have a commonly accepted set of practice and a strong commitment to these ethics and which must be naturally vibing with their mindset and mental makeup. The commitment to ethics can be only fostered across generations if the individual discipline is maintained from  childhood.  This later becomes a habit and then strong rooted . the grown up individual would then act out of conviction not because of some kind of blind adherence or worry about what others think. By allowing intermarriages this kind of committed attitude to any set of religion specific beliefs would tend to become diluted and lost overtime in such families. It is common to see communities arising out of intermarriages break the taboos in both their parent cultures . I may be labelled as someone possessing a strong and outdated view. Also I could be labelled as a person promoting differences in people. The point is if individuals can be comfortably fit into communities suitable to their family and also to their temparement then we have a better way of propagating good practices and reforming the bad within. The other scenario is chaotic and unmanageable. The disunity among communities is a result of conversion or aggressive attempts by one community to influence or sidestep the other. Some implications of having multiple communities in a state cannot be avoided unless the Government has a neutral and impartial planned policy to accomodate the interests of all.  Other aspects are purely because of the aggressive attitude to absorb another culture or break a stable setup of another community or a family within that community. Reading this some might tend to think it is better to have one community and one religion. My answer to this is that it is good to speak theoretically and for name sake define one common religion but as long as there is a wide difference in ethical standards or in emotional responses or in desires of individuals , a natural division of society into specific groups is unavoidable. The only question that remains is that "Given the fact that a natural division of human society into parties with different interest , inclinations and beliefs is unavoidable, howsoever the effort may be to bring uniformity, what is the way by which we can regulate formation of groups and to allow stable societies to exist and which  have a clear agenda not to cross over into another's path?" The answer is there and one must logically evaluate all options and previous experiences in societies. Therefore when the Acharya says "The goal must be unity, not uniformity."  he has pointed to the key thing that we all must understand and he could not be more right. This is truly the spirit of Sanathana Dharma.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sanathana Dharma - Part 7

The basic argument is that Every person has to adhere to Dharma to expect to live a happy life. This has been the subject of discussion earlier as well. The argument has to hold true even from the time of birth whether an individual is conscious or unconscious of it. We can look at a reasonable position that one has sufficient inputs right from the time of birth to follow Dharma. One can also take a stance that this is  not the case. One can say that this happens only at some stage of life and perhaps to only some and not to all.
If we go by latter stance we must admit that we have no chance to rectify our course of action until at a certain stage in life. We must then say that some people are very lucky and some not so lucky. If we assume the birth as the "The starting point" then we must further conclude this is unfair. That universal laws can be unfair in operation. One can take an unemotional stance and say life is life and there is nothing that can be done about it. All this might suit an atheistic stance but for one who believes in god as a living active principle one must have to be forced to take recourse to the former stance that one's dharma and the opportunity to select the right path is available the moment one begins to think. In other words the Dharma a person is introduced at birth becomes his religion.

There must be in it what is the seed for all that is required for the individual to get the maximum benefit out of life. The contradictory facets and the misinterpretations looking at it this way must be the mask or the dust on top of a stainless glass. To look at an another example. A horse can be disguised as a donkey but a horse will still be a horse and can work like a horse provide you use it as a horse and not as a donkey. The same applies to religion that behind all that is seeming to be unfair or wrong about it , there is that crust which is certain to lift the individual to the highest level. Just because someone's religion is good enough for him or her does not mean it is good for another. The reason being that the principles on a day to day life are most certainly contradictory. Even if we assume the core in all religions is the same, you should be able to see the core or it is meaningless to say all religions are the same. Thus the most sensible position to take is that all religions are sufficiently meaningful , a comparison not worth the effort, and further they are actually different in common practice and quite possibly not suitable for the follower of another religion, unless the practitioner has seen what exactly is the core and has no requirement to follow any lay practices. In the advanced case indicated above it is also apparent that there is not likely to be discussion on even the statement "All religions are the same". When Ramana Maharishi was asked about his view on duality. He kept silent . It was later explained to him that when truth was one , one would not even see the need to speak of duality. This would be the advanced stage. For the rest, it is easy to see that one cannot live without following some or the other ritualistic aspects of religion which changes from religion to religion.

There can be another smart question? What about the Dharma of a person born in an atheistic family. Firstly I throw open a challenge. Is there ever more than 1-2 generation of atheistic culture in any family where all members are hard-core atheists? Even if there is , they as common people tend to believe in certain ethics and values which is derived from the majority religion of their country. These values and ethics is sufficient to percolate down to the individual from the time he eats or drinks. Further there is no ancestral religion of atheism , unless it is some from idolization of a thinker or a preacher. There are atleast one or two members in a family who carry forward nominal aspects of a certain ancestral religion. Thus grace of God is great that everyone is under his perview whether he likes it or not and everyone have been under some great influence of a particular religion from the day he or she is born which might have got hidden under the mask of an imaginary atheistic religion or concept. But the fact is one has the guidance and one must accept that!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Sanathana Dharma - 6

Upto part 5 I was trying to present a reasonable argument to support the view that we should submit ourselves to the Universal laws that govern all aspects of life to live in harmony with the society and to derive maximum benefit from life( not all of which being known to us). That this cannot be man made and whimsical was also discussed. That these set of laws at its application level might seem contradictory when we compare religions and sects. Infact there is nothing wrong even if we admit that some ideas and concepts in different religions are also opposed to each other so much so that only one of it can be held truly valid.
But that is when we examine at a superficial level.
   "Those that commit sin and not seek repentance will burn  in eternal hell
   " Those that commit sin will get punishment in their next rebirth till the time they seek atonement

If we look at the above two statements there is a direct contradiction. But if you examine the purpose for this admonishment and the spirit there is actually the same spirit. So at the superficial level an eternal hell does not exist. But when the religion branches out in time , it starts composing stories of an everlasting hell . So yes there may be ignorance in understanding the spirit and it might cause some blind beliefs and arguments with other religions, so much so that this point itself becomes an argument for conversion. It may be so. But one can see that there are two facts behind this ignorance
           1. Sins have to take their toll and it can be for a very long time
           2. That there is redemption through atonement and repentence
Whether there is a rebirth or some continuance can be a contradiction when literally interpreted. But if one views that there is only Dharma which gets mis-understood to be taken up in different contexts , one feels safe that religion is after all guiding but with mis-understanding creapt at some point.
However people might argue that Eternal hell was spoken by none other than but by the founder of the religion. This is where I object. I say , "you might say that your religion was founded at some time. But my view is that your religion just like mine was never founded by anyone. Further I say there was a time when men amended the religious concepts to suit their requirements. But since God is there as an active principle, he is always correcting the path of humans, to the extent that humans have their consciousness and goals evolved" ... To be contd.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sanathana Dharma -5 man made laws -

Part 4 of my post is here

I discussed that the requirement of different people is different. Some would agree and say that therefore Organized religion be banned as it tries to create a standard set of regulations.

The requirement of people may be different but we cannot cater to all the requirements just as the craving for icecream of a little kid cannot be catered to all the time. There would further be no progress if we have laws that can be changed at a whim nor will it work out if each allows his own rules. The former means there is no respect for a law and the latter means that there is nothing but individualism. Individualism is opposed to unity of the world. Some would therefore say that there should be a compromise between freedom and restriction.

Is there any scientific rule to distinguish what can be allowed as a choice and what should be restricted. I will not be surprised if people are busy preparing mathematical models on this subject. Needless to say any model is good only as much good the information that we have. We have some well documented works on human behavior for last 200 years of the known 100000 years of human history. This is a far from anything comprehensive. Some would say sufficient sample. I would say not. We are dealing with only 7-8 generations of humans , and many historical events and circumstances have never occurred during this period. Nor can we conclude that certain circumstances not believed to have been possible , have never occurred. To get to a scientific basis would not be to postulate laws on limited information( for which there is no sufficient scientific law to explain if it is anywhere near to being comprehensive) but use a different approach from studying and deriving laws of human psychology from the current state of nature and consciousness itself. Even here the state of human nature has never been comprehensively predicted . We have best been able to summarize some behavior outcomes to a few decision points.

To not deviate from my discussion, what I intend to say is that the conventional belief that religions carry forward some laws which have been in existence for more than a millennium, cannot be dismissed outright and they need to be treated with respect as they bear the stamp of a long human experience to circumstances.

Sanathana Dharma dictates that humans are governed by laws which cannot be altered and are not subject to imagination and they do vary in time and place. The variation in application cannot be divised without understanding the core principles involved . At one level laws are eternal and at another level they seem practically different. The difference is because of the limited scope under which a particular human operates and may not be considered a limitation in the universality of the law. That every now and then one cannot restate and create a new law seems crystal clear to anyone who observes the chaos in society and the failures in such attempts. That people and the adminstrators try to universalize a local application and meet with failures is also clear.

At this juncture there can be a question. What is the so called original Sanathana Dharma laws? Today the situation in the mind of people is different. There just seems to be deviated religions and wrongly applied principles. Obviously the concern deserves attention as no-one wants to accept religious laws under the notion of improperly applied principles( the discussion here pertains to what is commonly discussed today as the corruption of religion)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Sanathana Dharma - Part 4

 The part 3 of this series is found here

My attempt here is not to present anything new. But use my modern ideas and jargon to elaborate on the age old concept of Dharma.

Sanathana Dharma we must understand teaches us not only that life is all about living harmoniously with the living and non living world but also to uplift oneself to discover the true nature of oneself.
So far I have written about living harmoniously with the world. For this there is a way. But no way should be so as to cause confusion and sadness in an individual.

 No way should be something that an individual cannot practice.We could take a step forward and say that ways of righteousness must be so defined as suits the individual and must be based on time and circumstances. Just as we proclaim this, we must realize that laws are laws. If force of gravity is inversely proportional to the distance from the object then it is so. In the same way , nature's laws cannot be twisted to suit us. What can be done is to create those circumstances by which the laws when they act do so favorably to us. It is the circumstance that we place ourselves in, that gets changed and we can beneficially create that circumstance. There is obviously a limitation but there is also a freedom. Thus we must say there is a degree of freedom within that limitation. 

When the requirements of humans was limited the stipulations that an individual had to lead was simpler. As people started being more and more different the positive recommendations so that they can bring about a favorable circumstance in their life became more different and more complex. Thus though the end goal became the same the way of life, the rituals and religions started branching out to suit differential temperament. This is the reason why religions are different not because one religion is completely right and another is completely wrong.

In a sense the parent Sanathana Dharma is the same . The branches have come about to cater to the varying times and varying requirements of people.

To give an example-
A person is happy with a meal and shelter provided to him and a reasonable life span that supports him.
 He can even stay hungry for some days but would not like to kill an animal for that. He can live in a jungle but does not covet another's land .
What kind of recommendations would you provide to that person for further upliftment and contentment?

Now there is a person who cannot be happy even if you provide him a mansion and provide him with hundreds of counsellors.

There is another person who needs to pray to God to be happy. But there is someone else who not only needs prayers but needs music during prayer. There is another person who does not want to pray but wants to meditate.

We can in this manner show that the choice of people is different and no-counselor can make things completely suitable. We need to work at the level of the society's consciousness. The society the man is born in has a certain consciousness and influences individual behavior.What ever we propose must allow an individual maximum freedom to progress but should also be something that is acceptable for everyone around that individual. Reason for that is we cannot divorce ourselves from our family and society unit. In that case there must be a consensus on what should be applicable to all individuals in the planet. Then there should be a consensus on what should be applicable to an individual country , individual society , to a sect and to a family.

That is the concept of Samanya Dharma and Visesha Dharma as is preached in Sanathana Dharma. Thus every religion must within its codes have some special specifications and also a universal specification. This way it is easy to reach a pact and work together for complete progress. The idea of a single set of rules and edicts and a single prescription for way of leading life is applicable only if all humans have the same level of consciousness and same level of requirements!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Sanathana Dharma - Part 3

The previous part of this series was covered in

There are some things which all humans must note.
We need to lead ourselves in a way which must give us more wisdom and contentment. Many people can intuitively perceive that we must all live in harmony with nature and other humans. While we set about creating our own rules to live in harmony with others we must understand that there is limitation to self-made rules.

The very concept of self-made rules and concepts created out of consensus with just some people is akin to selfishness inherent in us. It only serves our ego and is opposed to the principle of universal harmony. On the other hand if we consult the views of everyone( regardless of their wisdom and motive) and compose a hotch potch set of regulations for society it is likely to be chaotic .

If we select a panel to set the order for the society the question will arise, who is the personal who will select the members of the panel who set the rules for the entire society. Should it be based on some degree. While a degree might imply some knowledge on a subject, that need not be a pointer to commonsense and wisdom. Even if it is perceived so by society, there is much to question as none of these degree holders have come up with a long lasting stable set of rules for society. In the same way any kind of criteria we use could always be put to question by others opposed to that criteria or that set of people. There may be merits even in the words of an illiterate but there is no easy way to pick and choose the right from the wrong.

The animal kingdom is less governed by self-regulation. They live and eat as they please. They are also at easy disposal. The mighty lion and tiger of the jungle are at the mercy of nature and humans. If they kill indiscriminately they would perish. But nature presents them with a limitation, since they cannot go beyond a particular set of activities and a particular mode of life, once the condition is unsuitable to their life, their population reduces.

Humans on the other hand have the ability to stretch  the limits. If a particular way of life is no longer suitable we can use our intelligence to extend the boundaries. But if we go too far too fast things are no longer under control. Thus there is a definite need for regulation  to live harmoniously with everyone and given our ability to improvise we can live in a system that is more orderly.

We can only seek to identify the patterns of the past and understand the circumstances of the present to create our stable system. For this we need the co-operation of a majority of humans.
This is what Sanathana Dharma is all about.

As we rephrase the same definitions of Sanathana Dharma in different ways, we must understand that Sanathana Dharma is about getting the big picture and not confine to narrow aims which are self serving. If we trust nature to give us wisdom, then we must at an individual level create the environment for others to grasp the significance of this. We must figure out a way for changing the behavior of people. The right direction will automatically be established if every one has the right motivation. This cannot be a one day wonder. It must take thousands of years for order to be established and thousands of years for this established order to change under pressure. So we can figure out that people's adherence to the right way of living also can possibly change with time but there is a difference that can be made at the micro level starting from the individual and extending to his family to his community and to his nation and to the world.

Having said this let us visit some questions which I raised in my previous post and give my take on them
1. Believe that as long as they do not interfere in others life, anything they do is fine - If we accept the concept of Sanathana Dharma that entire world is related to each other in effect and in cause and no one is isolated , we can say that such an attitude is wrong. A society which seeks to establish its goal in such a manner will self-destruct. It will only boost ego and egoistic society will neither live harmoniously within and with others. This kind of society is opposed to Dharma and such a society cannot be!
2. People with an agenda but find life unfulfilled because others do not accept their agenda - Any right set of actions will create positive ripples in the environment. If there is some progress one should not feel disheartened. But when people devise their own agenda with scant respect to history or past experiences or previous knowledge , it is no different from the blind trying to be the leader. Whether or not others follow this leader is immaterial. We know that this kind of leadership will not go too far.
3. People whose ideas are accepted by people but the positive impact of their ideas is short-lived or never
      able to take shape-
I have the same thing to say about this as the one previous. There is a limitation to self-devised ideas. One should accept with humility that one is not all knowing. If that were the case the individual would always come up with a solution to every problem. No doctorate in human psychology can enable an individual is able to lead a completely stress free life. One must understand that ideas born out of limited knowledge of history and specific to circumstances and a period of time is bound to be short-lived.
4. People who act on the basis of established beliefs and who believe in some eternal religion like
       hinduism,   Christianity, Islam but yet not able to achieve what their religion says can be established.
- To cut things short, we see people who believe in Sanathana Dharma conduct Yagnas for rain and similar such prayers. If man's life is itself contrary to nature and one side they pray and on the side they cause destruction, how fruitful would their prayers. Life is more than just a bunch of rituals . One should correct one's way of life and then hope for effects to take shape. If you pray to Jesus for the victory of America in Iraq, and on the other hand kill an innocent child how do you expect God to help. This is where people do not see the big picture.

Thus Dharma regardless of the religion to which you belong is seeing the big picture and positioning yourself as a part of your society and not as a whole , will enable you to constructively act. This kind of Dharma as one can understand is independent of the sect in which you are born. There are works of nature to which all of us must subscribe. This is what Paramacharya of Kanchi meant when he said that all individuals of all religions by default belong to Sanathana Dharma and are under its purview. Different religions including modern hinduism or christianity are but its branches.