Monday, July 6, 2015

The Amazing Tamil Nadu Temples

If you have a desire to see the glory of Hindu Dharma, via medieval or ancient temples, Tamil Nadu is the place to go. There's no second thought about it. Luckily, most massive temples have been retained in the original shape and splendor, when unfortunately many other states in India couldn't during foreign invasions.  I made five trips in the past five years and an opportunity came for a sixth trip - a trip with lots of temples to see in TN and PY. I immediately grabbed the invitation of friend Bharath and got into the vehicle.

Let me narrate some interesting things about each place we visited last weekend.

First of all, our interest is in covering all the five Pancha Bhoota Sthala Linga or Pancha Tatva Linga. There is one major and historic temple dedicated for each of the five basic elements of nature as shown in an image from Wiki here.  Three months ago, we had seen the Agni Linga temple in Thiruvannamalai. This time we aimed at three, but ended up doing two.


So we got started, in an anticlockwise road trip, heading straight to Tiruchirapalli or Trichy, the place of our first Shiva Linga temple - Jambukeshwarar.


Once we finished eating chapati at the local restaurant, we started asking common people in Trichy. Where is Jambukeshwara temple? Five queries and no one answered properly. Then I found that we were asking in the wrong way. Made some calls and found that we should be asking for Thiruvanaikaval Kovil (Kovil in Tamil = Temple). Got the answers immediately. I must say that common people in Tamil Nadu have always been very helpful and friendly. We just have to figure out some basic Tamil speaking skills.. that's it. Kovil = Temple, Perumal = Vishnu, Siva = Shiva, Periya = Big etc...

To our surprise, we booked a hotel within half a KM from the great Srirangam Vishnu temple, which is not far from the Jambukeshwara temple. We set out to see Shiva temples. But our first visit next morning had to start with Vishnu Bhagawan! That's called divine planning.

So we were there to see sleeping Lord Vishnu (Ranga natha) in our proper uniforms :)



You will be amazed at the vast nature of this Srirangam temple complex. This is one of the Tri-Ranga (3 Rangas) along the Kaveri river. The first one being Sriranga Patnam near Mysuru, the second one at Shivana Samudra near Gaganachukki falls and the third one being this Srirangam near Trichy. There were nine massive gopuras/traditional doors from the street. There is a 1000 mantapa (pillar) auditorium. There's the (jiva) samadhi of the famous Vaishnava Guru Ramanujacharya. There must be at least 50 smaller temples within the complex itself.

It will take a full day just to pay proper visit to each deity within this massive and ancient temple complex. Our friend Nagesh chanted Purusha Sukta in one of the Rama temple and we were elated along with the local Purohit. Great darshan, great food (paid, not free) and a wonderful place to visit.

Next stop, the mighty Jambukeshwara temple for water tatva of Shiva. And to our total surprise, we entered right when the abhisheka was happening in the main temple. It was fabulous to sit outside the small garbha gudi (sanctum sanctoram) of the temple, besides small holes in the wall, and watch the pouring of liquids over this very ancient Linga, and then decorating it with various pastes and cloths.

This temple has interesting history involving an elephant and a spider worshiping the Linga.



They do very nice Gow-puja (Cow Worship) in this temple after the main abhisheka.

And of course, the thing which caught my eye was this.. We can discuss that some time later.


So our first major Shiva temple was done. Vishnu had called us even without our planning at Srirangam. Time to head east to the glorious UNESCO heritage city of Tanjavur. No surprises here. The massive ~13 feet tall Shiva Linga (Brihadeswarar) in one of the greatest buildings ever built by ancient and medieval world - the BIG temple. You have to visit this place to understand the immense technology Indians had 1000 years ago. In this Kaveri river delta area devoid of any big granite mountainous, Chola empire got a massive 81,600+ KG stone, and hoisted it above 200 feet. The total height of the gopura or vimana on the temple is 216 ft (66 m) high. Just imagine the technology to do this 1005 years to be precise? No where in the world you can find such a massive feat, which is living even today surviving tsunamis, earthquakes and of course, human invaders!


And of course, Bharat makes it look small.. really small :)
I felt like... I am witnessing 1000 years of Bharatiya history in just a few minutes.. Awesome and proud experience. Felt so good about our ancient shilpis, rajas and everyone who left us such great legacy.





If you have time, please browse through lots of pictures in here to know how happy we were during this entire trip, particularly the Tanjavur Periya Kovil (Big Temple) visit.


Next stop.. Kumbakonam. A city of temples where there are 188 temples within the municipal limits of a small town of 1,40,000 people. And if you include smaller temples, they say over 1500 temples are there in and around this city of temples!! Of course we wanted to visit a lot, but had time for only one.  The big Adi Kumbeswarar temple. We had a wonderful time here watching many unique things. The pujari showed us the place within the temple where the great Raghavendra Swamy had sat and meditated. They also showed the Devi (Durga) with nandi in front of her, not lion/tiger. They showed us a slight tilt of the main Linga and told that it's because of this kona (angle) of the kumbha (one above linga), it is named Kumbha Konam. You also have 9 temples around Kumbakonam, for each Nava graha (nine planets in Hinduism). We surely needed a week, just for this temple town!

We had to then drive into Puducherry enclave within TN, near Karaikal beach in the night. Our next stop was Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple at Tirunallar in Puducherry Union Territory. The specialty here is that 1000s of people come to take a dip in the pond, and leave their wet cloths on the banks of the pond, to get away from Lord Shani's wrath.
Image: Wiki

We followed what 1000s do. A proper bath in that pond, giving arghya to Surya deva early morning from within water, leaving our cloths, and then heading to the ancient temple in the town.


Just like the 100s of other big temples in Tamil Nadu, we had walk past many arches (gopuras) and finally get a beautiful darshan of Shani Deva. And to get a bonus, we were allowed to do a full Rudra abhisheka at a Shiva temple behind the Shani temple. Our Nagesh, the knowledgeable purohit, made us do abhisheka on the spatika Linga that he had carried from Bengaluru. It was a divine experience chanting the Vedic Rudra and Chamakam at this ancient temple. We loved every moment of it. Best part, I could do this on Ekadashi day, which is now my fasting day :)

Now overwhelmed with temples after temples, we took some beach breaks. It was emotional visiting the Karaikal Tsunami memorial, remembering the 1000s who perished during the 2004 mega Indian ocean Tsunami. 

Now time to head north. Next stop Chidambaram mega dancing Shiva temple. But since it opens only in the evening, we had time for some fun trip through the mangrove filled backwaters of Pichavaram. Our "vocal" skills and funny hand movements came handy when going inside the shallow mangrove backwaters :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_Lirk7o8m4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOR-afBLF3I
Even our boatman started off -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sKRynDomgE

Playing in the backwaters, climbing up some mangroves and paddling the boat was really fun. I am told that this is the world's second largest mangrove wetland!

And our boatman told us that this is the same mangrove area where the famous Kamal Hasan song from the movie Dasavataram was shot.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM-r6CP_uY4


Next stop, the great Chidambaram temple. This great Hindu temple of South India that has held its prominence for over 2000 years is a must visit place for any temple enthusiast. The Shiva in here is associated with the Akasha (or sky/ether) tatva (essence) among the pancha bhootas (five basic elements sustaining life). This holy temple has been built and repaired by Pallava, Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagara and Chera kingdoms over the past 2000 years.


And, I insist that you learn more about the significance of Chidambaram temple's design.  Focus on why the roof has been laid by 21,600 golden tiles with the word Shiva nama inscribed on them representing 21600 breaths!!

Around the 9th minute of this famous video of Carl Sagan - Cosmos of India, you can see the description of Nataraja (Dancing Shiva), for whom this Chidambaram temple is dedicated to.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugyrzr5Ds8o

All I can say is... Srirangam, Jambukeshwara, Tanjavur, Kumbha Konam, Tirunallar Shani and now Chidambaram Nataraja. Overwhelming architecture, significance and puja tradition for millenium.
Incredible trip!! How can I forget the awesome tender coconut water in Kadalur, to break the Ekadashi fast? :)



Lastly, how can we end up such a fabulous trip without some fun in water? That too when we are close to the Goa of the east coast, Puducherry? We stayed at a nice resort right on the beach, danced in the beach at midnight, saw sun rise at the beach, offered arghya to Lord Surya after a swim, and then had super fun in the resort pool.




Lastly, visited the pious Aurobindo Ashram at Puducherry.. A small and silent zone in the French legacy town.

While returning via Tiruvannamalai, another great Shiva temple (Agni link) which we had seen 3 months back, we had some nice fun on the road trip too.. like watching this crazy scooter driver -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxubUk-Xrl4

Overall.. great fun. If you want historic temples, amazing Dharmic puja traditions in Sanskrit and Tamil, and fun beaches, head to these places I have listed. You will have a great time.. guaranteed!

Now that 3 of the 5 Shiva Tatva temples covered this year, hoping to do the other two - Kanchi (in TN) and Kalahasti (in AP) soon. Om Namah Shivaya!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Late HV Sheshadri Explains What Is True Dharma

RSS leader Dr. Mohan Bhagawat was mentioning about the late HV Sheshadri. An interesting narration. Let me see if I can type it keeping the same interest that he generated in the talk.

Once HV Sheshadri of RSS was traveling in a bus in Karnataka. He was the Karnataka pranth pracharak. A well dressed and educated man boarded the bus, and sat next to HVS. They got into hello-hello chats. The man talked about his MCom education, employment at a bank, his family etc.
Dr. Mohan Bhagawat with the Late HV Sheshadri in the background. Pic - Samvada
Then he asked HVS. "What do you?"
HVS: "Nothing. Go from home to home, tell good things. Serve the society. Pretty much that's it".
Passenger: "Then how do you take care of your family?"
HVS: "I am not married. I don't have a family to take care of".
Passenger: "So you don't have a family. You don't earn anything. You have no duty of raising a family.. what's the use of your life? You are not an asset to the society".

Both kept quiet for some time....

HVS: "That's the way I am.. BTW, can you tell the names of your 8th generation from father's side?"
Passenger: " I don't know"
HVS: "Mother's side?"
Passenger: "Not sure. We know only 3 generations for shraddha (Vedic ritual for the dead) purposes. Never thought of it.".

Both kept quiet for some time....

HVS: "Do you know about Swami Vivekananda? The monk who...."
Passenger: "Of course.. Who doesn't know the Swami? I have studied many times about him. Here are some details....."
HVS: "Was he your relative?".
Passenger: "How can that be? He's from Bongo and I am from Karnataka".
HVS: "Oh.. maybe you met him?"
Passenger: "Are you joking? I was born 50 years after his death!"
HVS: "Maybe he visited your village sometime back?"
Passenger: "No. Never".

Both kept quiet for some time....
Swami. Pic - Wiki

HVS: "Strange... Swami Vivekananda was not your relative. You have never met him. He never even came near your village. And he was from generations before you. But still you know a lot about him. You also should know that he never earned any money. He didn't support his family the way you do. He never got married. He didn't raise kids. But everything he did in his life was for the society.. for the people.. for the country.. for the humanity. He lived his life per Dharma, to the perfection. 

On the other hand, your family's 8th generation before you did everything you are saying as valuable to the society. They got married. They raised kids. They educated them. They earned. They passed on things so that you are prospering today. Still you don't even know their names!!" 

Both kept quiet for some time....for a very long time...

The passenger seriously felt something in his heart. He apologized to HV Sheshadri and asked why this kind of thing happened.

HVS: "See.. it happens with all of us. We focus only on the material benefit for the immediate family. But that's not everything about Dharma. In the real sense, Dharma is all about Dharana or carrying. Dharayati iti dharma.  We alone getting educated, enjoying or prospering in life is not enough. We should take the society with us. Some of us can take smaller load and some like the Swami can take massive load. But our efforts must be to take everyone with us on the path of prosperity. That is the true Sewa. And, Sewa or selfless service is the best Dharma. Hence our lives must be dedicated as a daana or gift, for the humanity. Try to think more on why some of us make Sangha and its Sewa as the topmost priority in life and dedicate ourselves towards the society".

Needless to say.. the passenger had nothing else but total respect to HV Sheshadri!



Friday, May 1, 2015

The Physical India - Amazing Place!

Recently, I spent some time understanding the physical India and the tectonic plates movement. This was right after the devastating earthquake in the Himalayan region killing over 6000 already in Nepal and close to 100 in India.

My key question was - Why is the Himalayan region so susceptible to earthquakes? But while understanding that, I had a good revision of the entire physical features of Indian subcontinent. Right from 12 crores years back to today, and the projection 10 crore years into the future!

Sharing some highlights for those interested in our Bharata Varsha, Bharata Khanda and Jambu Dweepa :)

12 crore years back, India was fairly close to today's Antarctica's location. Trace our Indian subcontinent's movement right from Antarctica region to northern hemisphere pushing the Eurasian tectonic plate up here. India moved from Antarctica region close to African east cost to middle of the Indian ocean to colliding with the Europe-Asia plate and to pushing Himalayas up and reaching the place today.

Where would Indian subcontinent be 10 crores years from today? Pretty much the same place as it can't push any considerable distance. But the western half might expand, while the eastern part might get submerged per the scientific projections.

Watch this video for a graphical representation of what I am trying to say. 


Here's another video giving a closeup look at the most recent 5 crore years. 


Isn't it amazing to see how India changed the Asian continent, and most importantly gave the planet earth, the most amazing Himalayas (Hima = Snow, Alaya = Mountain, in Sanskrit)? Out of the top 15 peaks in the world, ALL are in the Himalayas. If India had not traveled from the tip of southern pole to northern hemisphere, planet Earth would have been a much boring place without giants like Mount Everest, Kanchanjunga, K2, Kailash mountain etc..

If your interest in tectonic geology has gone up, don't miss this awesome video on how Earth was formed, how earth's land surface came up, how continents formed - split - rejoined - split again.. Amazing journey over 10s of crore years!


Asteroid impact
Now that your thirst for tectonic plates, earthquakes, Tsunamis, island formation, Himalayas etc. is quenched, let's move on to more India specific things. I was reading this morning more connection between a very historic event that wiped out Dinosaurs 6.5 crores years ago, and the rise of Deccan plateau over which I am sitting and typing this today. Why did Deccan plateau rise? Also, note that India was not exactly where it is today, as 6.5 crore years ago. It was still somewhere near Equator, making the massive asteroid impact point on the western hemisphere, directly antipodal (exactly opposite place of the sphere in the other side) to the Deccan plateau today. 


Yucatan peninsula (impact point) and Deccan plateau. Pic: enchantedlearning
Pic: Wiki
Here is a simple depiction of what is antipodal point when you take a sphere.

Here is the interesting article that describes how the largest Deccan eruptions, referred to as the Wai subgroup flows, which produced about 70% of the lavas that now stretch across the Indian subcontinent from Mumbai to Kolkata. These researchers argue that the impact likely triggered most of the immense eruptions of lava in India known as the Deccan Traps, explaining the “uncomfortably close” coincidence between the Deccan Traps eruptions and the impact, which has always cast doubt on the theory that the asteroid was the sole cause of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

For those not familiar with the Deccan traps, here is a beautiful sight.
Deccan Traps - Pic. Wiki
So we learned quickly about the tectonic plates, the great movement of Indian subcontinent from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere, and the amazing connection between the Dinosaur extinction asteroid impact, and the Deccan plateau. Keep in mind, we are talking of extremely high amount of volcanic eruption into the atmosphere right from India, between today's Mumbai to Puri, and Nagpur to Bengaluru region!

Now comes the most important question. Why is India termed a "subcontinent"? Was it just a fancy name due to the amazing diversity of languages, cultures and other diversity? Or was it something beyond that?

Well, I found my answer today. India is called a "subcontinent" because it is the only country on the planet that has ALL the six types of physical features described on planet earth. Wow.. exciting isn't it? Let's find out what are those six physical features and their subcategories.

Feature 1: Mountains.
India is home to all types of mountains described in physical geology. India is home to one of the world's oldest fold mountain called Aravalli range spreading across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Dilli. India is also the home to the world's newest mountain ranges, the mighty Himalayas. India has the Western Ghats, one of UNESCO's eight biological *hot spots* of the planet, among other mountain regions.
Watch this educational video to learn about the mountains of India. Right from the coldest mountain region to the tropical mountain regions are there in India. This video shows a very interesting sub section of the four cross sections of the might Himalayas, taking you right from the plains of north India to the Mount Everest, to the Manas sarovar holy place, to Tibetan plateau.


Tip: Do you know about a place just north of Jammu and Kashmir (not in India), that is called a *knot*, because four of the world's great mountain ranges start from there, including Himalayas? See the videos here.
Feature 2: Plains. 
India is home to some of the most fertile plains on this planet. The Indus planes, the Gangetic planes and the Brahmaputra planes of North and North-East India are amazingly diverse. 


Watch this video to learn everything you want, about the plains of India, how they were formed and the difference between each section of plains.
 

Tip: Did you know that India converted most of Tarai or marshy plains of North India into agricultural fields since 1947, to settle and feed the large group of refugees who came in during partition?
Feature 3: Plateaus.
India is home to some of the oldest plateaus on mother Earth. We already talked of Deccan plateau earlier. Did you know about the economic importance of the Chhota Nagpur plateau and its incredible deposits of iron and other valuable ores?
 Watch this video to know all you want about plateaus.


Tip: Did you know that Deccan plateau and Chhota Nagpur plateau of India are the two, that NEVER were submerged under sea over 100s of millions of years? Not even during the four major ice ages or after ice melting! Extremely rare examples of always being above sea level places, yet never below the ice sheet places.
Feature 4: Deserts.
India is home to both hot and cold deserts. The coldest deserts are in the Leh/Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, while the hottest deserts are in the Thar region of Rajasthan.
Watch this video about deserts.

Tip: You can comfortably drive from one of the coldest deserts on the planet, Ladakh, to the one of the hottest deserts on the planet in Bikaner area, in just 24 hours by road. Where else can you find such diversity?
Feature 5: Coasts.
India is home to over 7000 KM of coastline. This is the seventh longest coastline for a country in the world. Also, the coasts are very historic and very diverse connecting 3 seas and one ocean.

Watch this video about coasts.


Tip: Some coastal areas of India like Dwaraka in Gujarat, trace their history back to 10000+ years of continuous human settlement.
Feature 5: Islands.
India is home to both Volcanic and Coral islands.

Watch this video about islands.
Tip: Traditionally we say Kashmir to Kanyakumari as describing India. But the physical southernmost tip of India is Nicobar islands - a point called Indira Point that is more than 1 degree latitude south of Kanyakumari!
Isn't India one of the most amazing countries of India?
  • The world's largest democracy.. 
  • the country with the world's largest number of tigers.
  • Has the world's biggest gathering of humans called Kumbha Mela (over 10,00,00,000 participated last time) repeating every few years.
  • A historic and traditional calendar that has all six seasons. 
  • Home to the world's oldest continuing civilization. Vedas chanted the same way they were chanted 5000+ years ago!
  • The source of 70% of the world's spices, making the world a truly *spicy* place :)
  • The world's most diverse linguistic country with 15 languages being spoken by at least 1,00,00,000 people.
  • A country where marriages have been sacred, instead of being contracts for 1000s of years. 
  • The only country on the planet where Jews were not persecuted, ever!
  • The first country on the planet that sent a mission successfully to Mars in its first attempt.
  • The world's largest postal service network.
  • Among the four religions with 1 billion+ adherents on the planet, two originated in India.
  • The list continues endlessly..
But most importantly.. India is the ONLY country that is also a subcontinent! You leaned why :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ten Things about BR Ambedkar That You Probably Didn't Know

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is a tall figure of 20th century Indian  history. Popularly known as Babasaheb, the details about his careers as a lawyer, politician, constitution framer, social reformer and an economist are well known. He's an inspiration to crores of young Indians today of various classes and ideologies.

But there are ten snippets about this famous man, that are not quite highlighted. Time to take a look at them. I will provide references for each as to where I learned about them, and if any of them need correction or contention, please post comments with authentic references.

1: Dr. Ambedkar stood for Sanskrit as the official language of India.

This is not a well known fact, but it is a fact. In 2005, this was revealed by Chamu Krishna Shastry, a well known Sanskrit proponent in India.
"Dr Ambedkar himself wanted to sponsor Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian union along with his supporters Dr BV Keskar, deputy minister for external affairs, and Naziruddin Ahmed. He moved an amendment draft on September 10, 1949. The resolution had to be withdrawn due to political pressure."
Reference: Ambedkar wanted Sanskrit as official language

It is anyone's guess as to who might have exerted " political pressure" on Ambedkar in 1949 to withdraw that historic resolution, which could have changed India in an different direction. Ambedkar's strong support to Sanskrit is something to ponder upon, for those who consider Sanskrit as an "Aryan" language of upper castes, that should not be supported.

2: Ambedkar is actually a Hindu Brahmin surname.
Image from Wiki

Bhimrao's original surname was Ambavadekar. It comes from his family's native village name in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, even though he was born in today's Madhya Pradesh region. In Marathi, it is a common practice to add "kar" to the village name as the surname.

In this writeup in the Outlook, Smruti Koppikar describes how his favourite Hindu Brahmin teacher, Mahadev Ambedkar, changed his surname from 'Ambavadekar' to his own surname 'Ambedkar' in the school records. The respect Bhimrao had for his teacher Mahadev, ensured that his borrowed surname continued for rest of his life! It tells us that Bhimrao respected all castes - his fight was against caste discrimination, and not Hinduism or any particular caste.

Reference: Bhimrao Sakpal Ambavadekar became Bhimrao Ambedkar

3. Ambedkar's father was a Vegetarian.

This one really surprised me. In the recent days, whenever there's a protest against ban on cow slaughter, you will invariably see an Ambedkar picture and beef eating "ceremonies".

But after reading Vikram Doctor's blog on the Economic Times, I stumbled upon two surprising details.   
"Nor is it correct to equate all upper-castes with vegetarianism and all Dalits with eating meat – Dr.Ambedkar’s father, for example, was vegetarian."
"I’m not sure if Dr.Ambedkar became vegetarian when he converted to Buddhism – Keer’s book doesn’t seem to make this clear and there is a surprising lack of other biographical material."
It looks like being a Kabir Panthi, Ambedkar's father Ramji was certainly a vegetarian and teetotaler. It also kind of implies that Babasaheb might have become a vegetarian coming from that family and also a vegetarian during the later part of his life. Something that needs a bit more research. And those who follow Ambedkar's path, this is something critical to ask - why was his father and (likely) himself vegetarian?

Reference: The Dalit Meanings of Food

4. Nehru prevented Ambedkar from entering Lok Sabha. Jan Sangh got him to Rajya Sabha.

Ambedkar contested Lok Sabha election twice. Both times Nehru's Congress made sure that he was defeated. Babasaheb Ambedkar contested from Bombay North in the first Indian General Election in 1952 but lost to the Congress candidates Narayan Kajrolkar, who had been his assistant once. He tried to enter Lok Sabha again in 1954 when he contested the by-election from Bhandara but he was placed third in the ballot won by Congress.
"In 1952, the Congress defeated Ambedkar in the parliamentary seat of Dadar in Bombay. It is strange that Jawaharlal Nehru did the sin of campaigning against Ambedkar during the elections.”
"The reason behind this was the Congress mentality of devaluing him. Later, the role played by Jan Sangh in getting him elected for Rajya Sabha from West Bengal is not hidden from anybody,” -  Arvind Menon, BJP.
So much for "love" of Ambedkar by Congress party.

Reference: Babasaheb was close to Jan Sangh, says BJP

5. Bhimrao's second wife was a Hindu Brahmin.

Ambedkar met Dr. Sharada Kabir, a Saraswat Brahmin, when he needed medical treatment in the late 1940s. He married her on 15 April 1948, at his home in New Delhi. His first wife had passed away a decade ago. Doctors recommended that he needed a companion who was both a good cook and a possessor of medical knowledge and could thus take care of him. She adopted the name Savita Ambedkar and took care of him for the rest of his life.

Pic: photobucket
It is unfortunate that any political or NGO conversations regarding Ambedkar quickly turn into anti-Brahmin mode, when his borrowed surname is that of a Brahmin and his wife who served him during most needy years, was a Brahmin woman.

6. Ambedkar was not against Hindutva or RSS.

Ambedkar actually claimed Hindutva for the Dalits (untouchables or depressed classes) in 1927.
"Hindutva belongs as much to untouchable Hindus as to the touchable Hindus. The temples must be open for all. Efforts were made for the growth of Hindutva by Brahmins like Vasishta, Kshatriyas like Krishna, Vaishyas like Harsha and Shudras like Tukaram. The same amount of efforts for Hindutva were pitched in by untouchables (Dalits) like Valmiki (of Ramayana), Drishthara of Vyadha Gita, Chhokamela and Rohidasa. We have brave Sidnak Mahar kind of untouchable who fought for protection of Hindutva. Both touchable and untouchable Hindus have served the Hindu temples built in the names of Hindutva. So everyone has the right to enter them."


He also also praised Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar's efforts to eradicate caste discrimination in his Janata paper in 1933.
"Savarkar's efforts to uplift Dalits are as noble and effective as Gautama Buddha's" 
Ambedkar even visited RSS camp and praised them.
"Ever conscious of Hindu movements supporting Sanghatan – social solidarity, Dr.Ambedkar visited RSS camp in Pune in May 1939. He expressed his satisfaction: “I am surprised to find Swayamsevaks here moving about in absolute equality and brotherhood without even caring to know the castes of others."
References:
7. Ambedkar's strong views on Muslim society's evils, Christianity and Partition of India.

When some Dalit youth were supporting the anti-India Razakars of Hyderabad after independence, Ambedkar told them not to take that path:
"Hyderabad state's scheduled castes must not support the Nizam or Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen under any circumstance. No scheduled caste member should join hands with anti India forces, bringing disrepute to their castes"


If you read Ambedkar's book, chapter 10, you would start seeing his absolutely rational arguments condemning the evils of Muslim society in pre-partitioned India.

Read chapter 10 for instance which has a sub title ;- Muslim Society is even more full of social evils than Hindu Society is
"the Muslim woman is the most helpless person in the world."
 "No words can adequately express the great and many evils of polygamy and concubinage, and especially as a source of misery to a Muslim woman. It is true that because polygamy and concubinage are sanctioned, one must not suppose they are indulged in by the generality of Muslims; still the fact remains that they are privileges which are easy for a Muslim to abuse to the misery and unhappiness of his wife."
"Take the caste system. Islam speaks of brotherhood. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed, much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries.While the prescriptions by the Prophet regarding the just and humane treatment of slaves contained in the Koran are praiseworthy, there is nothing whatever in Islam that lends support to the abolition of this curse..... But if slavery has gone,  caste among Musalmans has remained. As an illustration one may take the conditions prevalent among the Bengal Muslims."
"There can thus be no manner of doubt that the Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflict the Hindu Society. Indeed, the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of purdah for Muslim women."
Regarding Pakistan, if you read the Chapter 14 of the same book, you can clearly see that he wanted transfer of Muslims to Pakistan (east and West) with non Muslims back to India from there.
What about its workability? The scheme is not new. It has been tried and found workable. It was put into effect after the last European War, to bring about a transfer of population between Greece and Bulgaria and Turkey and Greece. Nobody can deny that it has worked, has been tried and found workable. The scheme I have outlined is a copy of the same scheme. It had the effect of bringing about a transfer of population between Greece and Bulgaria and Turkey and Greece. Nobody can deny that it was [=has] worked with signal success. What succeeded elsewhere may well be expected to succeed in India.
The most recent Organiser special edition on Ambedkar notes his view about Christianity and Islam, and conversion in general:
Ambedkar was against Dalits converting to Christianity or Islam because he believed that “if the numbers of Muslims and Christians rise and it will cause danger to India.” 
 References:
8. Ambedkar's openly opposed Article 370 of Nehru's Congress, for Jammu and Kashmir. 

Ambedkar opposed Article 370 in the Constitution, which gives a special status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and it was put against his wishes. Balraj Madhok reportedly said, Ambedkar had clearly told Sheikh Abdullah:-
"You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it."
Reference: Kashmir problem from Ambedkarite Perspective, by K Jamanadas.

9. Ambedkar was a confirmed enemy of Communists, in his own words!

Read this excerpt from a book on India. 
In another context, presiding over a District conference of the Depressed Classes at Masur in September 1937, Ambedkar declared that he was a confirmed enemy of the Communists who exploited the labourers for their political ends, and there was no possibility of joining them. 
Reference: Book Perfidies of Power: India in the New Millennium, by P Radhakrishnan, page 54.

10. Ambedkar warned India against China's aggression on Tibet and beyond.

The Time issue dated October 22, 1951, noted:
Ambedkar is the first important Indian official who has openly attacked Nehru for being too friendly to China and not friendly enough to the US”.
On China he disagreed with the Tibet policy and the enunciation of Panchsheel. He said:-
 “If Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics”.
Reference: Ambedkar’s views on foreign policy, by Harish Parvathaneni 

Hope you gained some insight after reading these today. Anything else you want to share in comments?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Barack Obama - Jews, Muslims, Christians and Atheists can claim him!

I was reading about Barack Obama's family today. What really confused me was the sheer number of religious combinations in his immediate family.

Buraq. Source: Wiki
First of all Barack sounds very much like the Arabic Buraq, the al-Buraq horse which carried Prophet Mohammed. It is an unmistakably Muslim name.

Barack could also be derived from Barak, the son of Abinoam, a military commander in the Book of Judges of the Bible. So very easily this can be termed as a Jewish or Christian name.

Barack Obama's paternal grandfather Onyango had converted from African tribal religion to Catholic Christianity first. Then he converted to Islam. He had at least three wives. Barack senior was the son of his second wife Akumu.
Barack Obama Senior. Pic: History

Barack Obama's paternal grandmother Akumu had to convert to Islam, and took the name Habiba upon her conversion. She was Onyango's second wife. Later she left him and remarried in Tanzania. 


Barack's father, Barack Obama senior, was raised a Muslim. His name was Baraka. He rejected Islam soon and converted Anglican Christianity. Had 3 wives in his life.


Barack Obama's mother, step father and step sister. Pic: Barackobama.net
Kezia Aoko was his first wife. Kezia had many children. One of them, Bernard, which she claims was from Barack senior, converted to Islam as an adult. So Bernard, Barack's alleged half brother, raised a Christian, but later became Muslim. Later in life Barack Senior rejected Christianity and became an atheist. Sarah Onyango Obama, Barack senior's sister, is still a practicing Muslim and terms herself as a strong believer in Islam.
Grandpa Stanley, Barack's mother and step sister. Pic: Wiki

Obama's mother Ann Dunham was from a family of Baptist and Methodist Christian combination. She was supposedly an atheist or at least a skeptic non-practicing Christian. Later in life, Ann married Lolo Soetoro, a Muslim from Indonesia. They had a daughter named Maya, a Hindu name going to Advaita school of philosophy of Vedic Hinduism!

Barack Obama's maternal side was Jewish? Pic: henrymakow
Obama's step mother (his dad's third wife) was a Jewish woman Ruth Beatrice Baker. She's not the only Jew in Obama's close family circles. Barack's wife Michelle's first cousin Capers Funnye, Jr also converted to Judaism after feeling that Christianity was imposed on his ancestors who were slaves from Africa.

There's a lot written on the internet about Barack's maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham. Even though by most accounts his family is described as Unitarian Christian (they kind of don't believe that God is three different entities, which Christians usually believe in), there are many which suspect that his family was secretly Jewish

There are many who secretly brag that Barack Obama is in fact America's first Jewish President, as Jews trace religion from mother's side.

Mark Ndesandjo, Barack's half brother - Jewish. Pic: Blogspot
Barack's step brothers Mark and David were born to this Jewish woman Ruth Beatrice Baker. She is from a Lithuanian Jewish descent. After Barack Obama senior, she married a Tanzanian Christian. Mark Ndesandjo, Barack's half brother married a Chinese woman later. You can guess what would be her religion addition into this family from China - Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism etc.

Coming to the big man now.. Obama - Lists himself as a Christian. He says that he was not raised in a religious environment as a child. He claims his father at the time of his birth was a confirmed atheist and his mother was a non-practicing Methodist+Baptist Christian.He also says that his step father, though from Indonesian Muslim family, was a man who did not find religion that useful. But as an adult Obama picked up Christianity. By the time he became the President of the most powerful country of the world, he was claiming - "I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life."

The latest is that Barack Obama prays at the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Methodists are historically linked the Protestant form of Christianity.

Now here is the real confusion and conflict:
  1. Obama has links to Islam, Christianity and Judaism in his immediate family. All three Abrahamic religions kind of claim him in some way or another. He also has links to those who reject religion like Atheists directly from his father.
  2. In strict Islamic terminology, Barack's father is an apostate. Born Muslim family, but rejected Islam and converted to Christianity. Forget medieval times, this warrants death penalty in many countries even today!
  3. In strict Christian terminology, Barack's father rejected Christianity too to become an atheist, which would anger fundamentalist Christians. Barack's mother too was a non practicing Christian when Barack was born. Also, Barack's paternal grandfather had converted to Catholic Christianity first, but later rejected it in favor of Islam. Catholics would not be happy at all. During medieval times, this warranted death penalty! More so, Christians would be unhappy that Barack's mother Ann married an Indonesian Muslim later. Barack's half brother Bernard converted to Islam from Christianity.
  4. To make both fundamentalist Muslims and fundamentalist Christians, Barack Obama's father married a Jewish woman as his third wife! Now her son is married to a Chinese woman of unknown religion. Also, Barack's wife's cousin is a convert to Judaism now. Muslims would be more unhappy knowing that Barack's step father did not really practice Islam when Barack was young. 
  5. And to make strict Jews unhappy, Barack's step mother married a man who had rejected Islam and Christianity both, but did not accept Judaism. They would also feel unhappy, Barack's maternal grand father is rumored to have Jewish connections, which was never publicly announced (Maybe world war time?).
  6. So we have many forms of Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the mix. We also have Chinese unknown ideology and atheism involved. And the name Barack itself can be claimed by Muslims, Christians and Jews.. all together for different reasons.
  7. To make it even more spicy, I mean really spicy as in the historic land of spices, Barack Obama's grandfather Onyango had traveled to India during British rule. Who knows, what Hindu, Jain, Buddhist or Sikh connection he might have picked up there! Barack's step sister Maya already has a Hindu name :)

Barack family's religion topic is surely a controversial issue. Isn't it?