Monday, June 13, 2016

Holy scripture verses about harming (evil) opponents; Curses, black magic and tantriks in India today

Given below are some Notes of mine. The flow may be a little abrupt at times. I do not have the time to fix any such issues. Readers may prefer to either skip reading the post or just browse through it.

Some verses of Christian holy scripture do call for harm for (evil) opponents. From http://www.usccb.org/bible/psalms/109

Psalms, Chapter 109

1 For the leader. A psalm of David.

2 O God, whom I praise, do not be silent,
for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me.
They speak against me with lying tongues;

3 with hateful words they surround me,
attacking me without cause.

4 In return for my love they slander me,
even though I prayed for them.

5 They repay me evil for good,
hatred for my love.

6 Appoint an evil one over him,
an accuser to stand at his right hand,

7 That he may be judged and found guilty,
that his plea may be in vain.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his office.

9 May his children be fatherless,
his wife, a widow

10 May his children wander and beg,
driven from their hovels.

11 May the usurer snare all he owns,
strangers plunder all he earns.

12 May no one treat him with mercy
or pity his fatherless children.

13 May his posterity be destroyed,
their name rooted out in the next generation.
--- end extract from Psalms, Chapter 109 ---
...
I can understand believers putting up verses of holy scripture that speak about how blessed are those who have faith (in that religion). But the burn in hell part for unbelievers (in their religion, or even any religion) being prominently put up in public is despicable, especially in today's age.
...
However, it is a reality in India (and perhaps in the USA too) that some (in today's world) do pray for unpleasant things to happen to specific persons. In India it is not limited to prayer - they use some rituals, I am told. I think this happens in cases where some people feel that they have been victimized by others and want to take revenge on them through these dark spiritual rituals. I mean, it is not a commonly done thing - some people get provoked into considering it.

What is undeniable is that the holy scripture of some religions including Hinduism have specific prayers for death and destruction of (human) opponents. In Vedic Hinduism, the earlier part of the Vedas has these mantras - I have read them.  It evokes a tribal warfare kind of scenario with the Vedic mantras/rituals to war-hero gods in the Vedic pantheon, meant to give victory to those chanting/performing them (Aryas (the noble ones), if I recall correctly) over others who seem to be non-Vedic (Dasyus, if I recall correctly). Note that there are many noble mantras/verses in these earlier part of the Vedas. The latter part of the Vedas, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads, deal with higher and nobler aspirations and do not seem to have much, if any, of death and destruction to enemies type mantras/verses in it.

In India, when people of religion feel threatened at physical level, some of the fighter types turn to the warrior god types in their scripture and gain courage and fighting-intensity from it/them. This also applies to those women who are deeply religious, are fighter type of persons and who get threatened with rape/molestation kind of scenarios which, very unfortunately, are not uncommon in some parts of India. They take inspiration from mother goddesses of Hinduism who are said to have killed demons and their face perhaps kind-of gets transformed into faces of divinely-inspired fury. That has, many times, scared the daylights out of the would-be rapists/molesters. Righteous anger is a powerful thing, especially among religious believers of the fighter type.

So violence & war are part of some religions (including Hinduism), in my considered view. However, the right interpretation of religious scripture will be that violence and war should be considered only when one is seriously threatened by unjust and unrighteous actions of others. That typically happens when law & order (Dharma/ethical behavior) breaks down or is not sufficiently respected.

But the safe thing is to keep these kind of prayers out of democratic politics whether it is a materially advanced country like the USA or a materially developing country like India.
...

In my case, after I got into spirituality/religion bigtime in my early thirties, while I developed strong belief, over time, in power of prayer to have potential to do something supernatural or at least influence an outcome in some supernatural way in some cases, I was not exposed to the dark stuff (prayers/rituals to do harm to others). In ISKCON and Sathya Sai movements which I have had some/good exposure to, or in my Vedic Brahmin family upbringing in the second half of the 20th century, I had ZERO exposure to or encouragement for such dark stuff.

However, Hindu scripture is replete with instances of Brahmins especially, cursing those who have harmed them or threatened them. So as I got into the faith in Hindu scripture part I slowly started accepting the power of curses from those who are engaged in regular spiritual practice. Today my view is that a curse from such persons is like a concentrated thought-wave backed by strong will and faith, and that such a concentrated thought-wave has an impact on the intended person. Spiritual practice builds up the ability to concentrate thought and also have strong will backed by faith. ....

In Hindu parts of rural South India (perhaps is the case in other parts of rural India too), even today many of the locals treat those Brahmins who are into regular Brahminical spiritual practice with respect, and, as I learned, fear - fear of Brahmin curse/harsh thoughts towards them if they harm the Brahmin. Mind you, in ancient Hindu India, killing a Brahmin was considered to be a very big sin, even if the killer was a King. Now I must also mention that the Brahmins typically are not into cursing, and it is more of a defense mechanism for them from harm being done to them, rather than an offensive weapon meant to harm others. A curse is also said to weaken/reduce the spiritual splendor and spiritual power of the accomplished in spiritual practice Brahmin. About dark spiritual stuff, Hindu tradition today which is heavily influenced by contemporary heads of important Hindu mutts (monasteries) and contemporary Hindu spiritual masters with large followings, warns Brahmins (and others) to stay away from dark spiritual practices meant to harm others as the Karmic consequences of such dark actions are said to be very bad.

Given the above background, I was rather ignorant about dark spiritual practices & powers in India today though I did hear/read about it here & there. It is after Sathya Sai passed away (physical form level) that events forced me to dig deeper into gathering some information about these dark spiritual powers by discussion with others who seemed to have some knowledge about it.

While in hindsight, it seems a very natural event, at the time it happened I was completely taken aback. That is, the way the HUGE VACUUM of the passing away of Sathya Sai Baba attracted a myriad of people with claimed spiritual powers and claimed ability to communicate with Sathya Sai Baba's spirit, to try their luck with the HUGE Sathya Sai follower fraternity worldwide who had lost their spiritual master and so could be susceptible to such claims. Some of these people with claimed spiritual powers & claimed medium/communicator ability were very successful in attracting some Sai devotees to them, including rich and powerful followers. It seems that some of these people have some psychic powers like mind-reading. They also give supposedly blessed objects like rings/necklace which ostensibly would protect the wearer (like what Sathya Sai would do to some devotees). However, many of these mediums/communicators seem to have personal aggrandizement as an objective, as against genuine and free help being rendered to the supposed benefactor.

As I expanded my inquiries beyond these mediums/communicators claiming to communicate with Sathya Sai Baba's spirit, I was told of some persons (unconnected with Sathya Sai) who would be revealed some information by some disembodied spirit which was in communication with them. However, such spirits are said to be not good and that eventually the person in touch with such spirits lands into some big trouble. Now I don't know what to make of such claims.

However, I will not dismiss them as false right away. I might have done that twenty years ago. I certainly will not do that today. While there may be many fakes even in the disembodied spirit communicating with somebody field, I think some may be genuine. I would however not want to have anything to do with such persons. I am comfortable with my 20th and 21st century Vedic Brahmin and Sathya Sai devotee kind-of approach to spirituality where we are strongly advised not to mess around with such spirits kind of stuff.

Now about black magic in particular. The tantrik word/term in India today has strong connotations of black magic, even if tantra is an alternative spiritual path to vedic Hinduism, and which people like Osho Rajneesh wrote & spoke about quite a lot (including about tantric sex as a CLAIMED way of enjoying spiritually evolved states of bliss through sex).

Every now and then there will be reports in the Indian English language newspapers of some tantrik kind of persons being beaten up or even killed by villagers. Earlier I would just ignore such reports. But in the past few years I tried to make some inquiries about it. I was shocked to know that such black magic/tantrik practices happen in and around Puttaparthi as well - it is rare and those who do it try to hide it as most people are deeply suspicious of it. But it does happen once in a while in and around Puttaparthi itself!!! What a shock that was to me!

I tried browsing for news reports on such stuff. Note that such stuff may be better reported in vernacular Indian language media (as against English language Indian media).

2 found dead in cemetery, police suspect black magic, Oct. 2015 news article from Bhiwandi near Mumbai, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/2-found-dead-in-cemetery-police-suspect-black-magic/articleshow/49219715.cms

An extract from it, "The police said they have found a lemon, a golliwog-like doll with tack pins jutting out of it and other paraphernalia used by practitioners of black magic or human sacrifice."

Ravi: I was told about something that some unethical spiritual Guru-types use to attract people towards them. The associated art is called Vashikaran. I was shocked to hear about such things in 2015/2016 India! But at least some people are there who claim to be practitioners of this Black Magic type stuff! Just browsed the net and got this,
http://www.completevashikaran.com/vashikaran-in-andhra-pradesh. The site says no Black magic is used but ...

An exract from the site:
Vashikaran can help you in :-
- Love related problems
- Marriage related problems
- Getting control on Wife or Husband
- Stopping extra-marital affair or emotional attachment of Husband or Wife
- Attracting and influencing any male or female toward you
- Attracting and influencing your Boss, client/customer, Staff etc.
- Making someone to work according to you wish
--- end extract ---

Ravi: An email id and mobile phone number is provided for interested prospective customers! "Attracting and influencing any male or female towards you" & "Making someone to work according to you(r) wish"!!! Jesus Christ! This is in the state of India where I live - Andhra  Pradesh - and in this early 21st century! Of course, I don't know how much of this is fake and how much has some kernel of truth in it. But I would not dismiss all of this as nonsense right away. Like hypnosis works on weak minds, they say, I think some spiritual practices and rituals can be used by tantriks & black-magic fellows to prey on weak minds and get some sort of control over them.

Here's an article, Man burnt alive for ‘practising’ black magic in Andhra Pradesh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Man-burnt-alive-for-practising-black-magic-in-Andhra-Pradesh/articleshow/45785186.cms, dated Jan 2015. Some extracts from it:

A group of villagers burnt a man alive accusing him of practising black magic at Rajapur village of Koderu mandal in Mahubnagar district on Tuesday.
Local police said a group of villagers attacked T Ramulu, 45, holding him responsible for the "crisis" in the village. They accused him of practicing sorcery, which led to "sudden death of people and domestic animals".
--- end extracts ---

Ravi: Earlier when I would read such articles I would think that these are ignorant villagers who are imagining things. But now I know villagers around my town much better than a decade ago. They are wise in their traditions which enables them to survive in the tough lives they lead. They are not fools.

Especially in village environment they know a lot about the people in the village. Once somebody starts experimenting with black magic stuff they come to know of it very fast. And then if some bad things happen they start suspecting that person. Now they may be wrong in tying up some tragedies to the guy trying black magic but they usually know that the person is trying/doing black magic. And they intensely hate him/her and want to drive him/her out of the village or even kill him/her, if need be. Brutal! But I think this is what their village traditions would have been not only for hundreds of years in these parts of rural India but perhaps a few millennia! And that has worked over the ages, in the sense that generations have survived and did not get trapped into black magic stuff.

The Brahmin doing Vedic ritual is supposed to be a kind of exorcist-type antidote to such black magic stuff. Perhaps that's why the practising Brahmin priest is given a lot of respect and also feared, even today, in many rural Indian villages. Of course, guys like me are born in Brahmin caste but as we are not practising Brahmin priests, we do not get accorded that kind of respect and/or fear.

[I thank usccb.org, indiatimes.com and completevashikaran.com, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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