Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On his 75th birthday, Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju's adherence to, and dissemination of, Sathya Sai teachings, shines bright

Last updated on 28th Oct. 2017

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=411102299304749&id=100012149461697 informs us that today is Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju's 75th birthday. The Facebook post is authored by Smt. Sarojini Shyam Kanagala who is the daughter of Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju (AK sir).

I have given below some pics of AK sir with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba that were put up on that Facebook post, presuming that Smt. Sarojini Kanagala and AK sir would not mind me doing so. The first pic also shows Bhagawan with AK sir and his wife.

[To open a pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window, and in new tab/window click on pic to zoom in.]



I (Ravi) added the following comment (slightly edited) on above Facebook post:

In my considered view, Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju is Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's divine university, Sathyam Vada Dharmam Chara (Speak the truth, follow ethical/righteous living) university, Professor who was referred to as Professor by Bhagawan himself, and not just a mere UGC/AICTE (Indian academic university regulatory bodies) professor.

In a meeting with Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju at his Staff quarters flat in Puttaparthi in early 2012, I recall telling him something on the lines of: Like when people read/view and talk about Jesus Christ today, they read and talk about his apostle Peter, similarly when people read/view and talk about Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in coming years (decades and centuries, at least), they will also read/view and talk about Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju (AK sir).

Today in late 2017, I continue to hold that same view. AK sir has been the key English language translator of Bhagawan during the last few decades of Bhagawan's physical body mission. I myself am very grateful to AK sir as during the initial years of my Sathya Sai journey (from around 1993 onwards) at least, when my knowledge of Telugu was zero, it was AK sir's on-the-spot English translation of Bhagawan's divine discourses which I had the privilege of listening to live, that allowed me to get some understanding of those live discourses.

After I joined the Sai university in Jan 2003 offering free service as Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty till Mar 2012, AK sir was always easily accessible and friendly to me. I greatly appreciated that free access and friendship of AK sir despite him having so much physical proximity to Bhagavan. AK sir did not show and still does not show one small bit of 'form boy' and 'big administrator' arrogance. I think that itself speaks volumes of how loving, humble and kind a person, AK sir is.

In the chaos, trauma and confusion of the immediate post-Mahasamadhi years in Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi, I found that AK sir remained loyal to teachings of Bhagawan with respect to claims of dream-instruction mediums and communicators, and was willing to even publicly state these views. At a time when many big shots in Prasanthi Nilayam system who were in powerful administrative positions in the ashram system and who had enjoyed many decades of close physical proximity to Bhagawan, swayed towards dream-instruction mediums and communicators, it was AK sir's adherence to Bhagawan's teachings that reject such dream-instruction mediums and communicators, that shone brightly as the real practice of Sathyam Vada Dharmam Chara.

AK sir may have had to face a lot of harsh treatment by those administrators in Prasanthi Nilayam system, including Sai university top administrators, who had jumped to the dream-instruction medium camp, but I think this treatment by fire has only made AK sir's character shine brighter than what it was already, by his adherence to Bhagavan's teachings and to Sathyam Vada Dharmam Chara.

I pray to Kali Yuga Avatar, Shiva-Shakti Swarupa, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to keep showering His Grace on Prof. Anilkumar Kamaraju and his family. Thank you sir for all you have done for us (devotees of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba). And Happy Birthday!
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And here is a current pic of AK sir and his wife (courtesy: SaiBliss Facebook user):


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In my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2001564283393472, associated with this blog post, one person's comment had the following partial contents:

"Anil Kumar and Narasimha Murthy are equally great speakers and translators of Sai Messages in Telugu and in English . They are like Surya and Chandra for the Lord Sathya Sai Jyothi. Anil Kumar is married and remained with his family and friends while Narasimha Murthy is a Thyagi Jeevi attached to his dreams out of His Lord's Grace and Love."
-----

The main part of my (Ravi) response is given below:
Sairam sir! I am afraid that in my considered view, Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy who was referred by Swami as 'my Vivekananda' in the 70s/80s, after Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi, lost his spiritual way and went against the teachings and instructions of Kali Yuga Avatar, Shiva Shakti Swarupa, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I would have had no objections whatsoever if Shri Narasimamurthy had started a spiritual movement in his own name or a slightly modified name like Narasimhamurthy Sai Baba. But that he used the holy name of Sathya Sai Baba for his (Narasimhamurthy's) own instructions and views, was the biggest blunder that any Sai devotee, small or big, could do. He will go down in history of Sai avatar as the man who, after Mahasamadhi, misguided thousands of Sathya Sai devotees across the world, using the name of Sathya Sai (and not his own name), and who created a very big and very painful split in the Sathya Sai fraternity. That is the unfortunate truth.

Even a thousand free schools, a thousand free pediatric cardiac super-speciality hospitals, and a thousand ashram institutions created around the world will NOT change that unfortunate truth that will be associated with the name of Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy as he was the primary force to create the so called Muddenahalli subtle body false belief using the name of Sathya Sai.

Sathyan Naasti Paro Dharmaha! Sathyameva Jayate! Jai Sairam!
----

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saudi Arabian rulers & govt. initiative to vet use of Prophet Muhammad's sayings to counter extremism

Saudi Arabia to vet use of Prophet’s sayings to counter extremism, http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/saudi-arabia-to-vet-use-of-prophets-sayings-to-counter-extremism, 19th Oct. 2017.

Ravi: Wonderful to read about this initiative from Saudi Arabian rulers and government who are the "Custodian" of the two holy mosques of Mecca and Medina. I think this will do a lot of good as it may, in all probability I hope, promote peace loving Islam which is tolerant of other faiths and other sects of Islam different from Sunni & Wahhabi Islam. By tolerant I mean that even if Sunni and Wahhabi Islam will not accept other faiths/doctrines like Hindu, Christian and even Shia Islam and various Sufism (Sufi Islam) traditions as valid, it will NOT give any support or religious sanction to violent attacks against followers of these other faiths (including those of Shia Islam faith and Sufis).

I pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on this wonderful initiative taken by Saudi Arabian rulers who are the custodians of the two holy (and vital) mosques of Islam, in Mecca and Medina. One of my beloved and revered spiritual masters - Shirdi Sai Baba, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi - taught: "Allah Maalik" .. "Sabka Maalik Ek" [God/Allah is the Master. .... The master (God) of all (religions & sects) is ONE.]

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A comment I made elsewhere (Facebook post with world/public access: https://www.facebook.com/vv.sarachandran/posts/10154933579933456) which was in response to a comment made about the above post contents of mine (made as a comment in that post):

Hinduism does have a lot of sacred scripture (some of which have differences with each other's views, at least at the superficial level). However, for many centuries after Adi Shankara till this day, large body of Hindu scriptural scholars/monk-scholars, consider the Brahma Sutra, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, the Prasthana Trayi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prasthanatrayi, as the canonical texts of Hindu philoshophy, especially Vedanta philosophy. The accounts of the major Hindu avatars, mainly captured in texts like Bhagavad Purana, Ramayana, and, to some extent, Mahabharata (Krishna's role in it, including his teaching captured in Bhagavad Gita part of Mahabharata), are revered as accounts of Divinity taking form in worldly society to protect and uphold the good, help and protect worshipers of God, and to defeat evil.

I personally believe that Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba are the current age avatars of God, who have reinforced the ageless message of Hindu philosophy including Advaita Vedanta, and upheld the good and protected the worshipers of God. Others may not agree with these beliefs of mine and have other beliefs like the one mentioned in the last paragraph of the comment above this comment. That's perfectly fine with me. Many countries of the world, including India, have the freedom of religious belief which allows for peaceful practice and holding of religious beliefs of various religions and sects, which may be inconsistent with or have differences between each other.

Thanks.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Transcript of USA Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks on USA-India relationship for next 100 years; My comments

Note: This post is copy-pasted from http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2017/10/transcript-of-usa-secretary-of-state.html on 21st Oct. 2017.

Last updated on 20th Oct. 2017

Here is the transcript of USA Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's 'Remarks on "Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century"', 18th Oct. 2017: https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2017/10/274913.htm.

Given below are large extracts from the above transcript:

USA Secy. of State Rex Tillerson:
...
So first, let me wish everyone a happy Diwali to all our friends in the United States, in India, around the world who are celebrating the Festival of Lights. Generally, fireworks accompany that. I don’t need any fireworks; I’m getting too many fireworks around me already. (Laughter.) So we’ll forgo the fireworks.

My relationship with India dates back to about 1998, so almost 20 years now, when I began working on issues related to India’s energy security. And I’ve had many trips to the country, obviously, over those many years. And it was a real privilege to do business with the Indian counterparts then, and it’s been a great honor this year to work with the Indian leaders as Secretary of State. And I do look forward to returning to Delhi next week for the first time in my official capacity. This visit could not come at a more promising time for U.S.-Indian relations and the U.S.-India partnership.

As many of you know, this year marks the 70th anniversary of relations between our two countries. When President Truman welcomed then-Prime Minister Nehru on his visit to Washington, he said, and I quote, “Destiny willed that our country should have been discovered in the search for a new route to yours.” I hope your visit, too, will be in a sense of discovery of the United States of America. [Ravi: Perhaps the last sentence should also be part of the preceding quote.]

The Pacific and the Indian Oceans have linked our nations for centuries. Francis Scott Key wrote what would become our national anthem while sitting aboard the HMS Minden, a ship that was built in India.

As we look to the next 100 years, it is vital that the Indo-Pacific, a region so central to our shared history, continue to be free and open, and that’s really the theme of my remarks to you this morning.

President Trump and Prime Minister Modi are committed, more than any other leaders before them, to building an ambitious partnership that benefits not only our two great democracies, but other sovereign nations working toward greater peace and stability.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit in June highlighted the many areas of cooperation that are already underway in this new area of our strategic relationship.

Our defense ties are growing. We are coordinating our counterterrorism efforts more than ever before. And earlier this month, a shipment of American crude oil arrived in India, a tangible illustration of our expanding energy cooperation. The Trump administration is determined to dramatically deepen ways for the United States and India to further this partnership.

For us today, it’s plain to see why this matters. India represents the world’s largest democracy. The driving force of our close relationship rests in the ties between our peoples – our citizens, business leaders, and our scientists. [Ravi: It would have been nice if Secy. Tillerson had included engineers/technologists (quite different from scientists at least in the past three to four decades) who form a big part of the people-to-people USA-India relationship. That's how I, a former software technologist/engineer but NOT a scientist, had my first interactions with USA people.]

Nearly 1.2 million American visitors traveled to India last year. More than 166,000 Indian students are studying in the United States. And nearly 4 million Indian Americans call the United States home, contributing to their communities as doctors, engineers, and innovators, and proudly serving their country in uniform.

As our economies grow closer, we find more opportunities for prosperity for our people. More than 600 American companies operate in India. U.S. foreign direct investment has jumped by 500 percent in the past two years alone. And last year, our bilateral trade hit a record of roughly $115 billion, a number we plan to increase.

Together, we have built a sturdy foundation of economic cooperation as we look for more avenues of expansion. The announcement of the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit ever to be hosted in South Asia, to take place in Hyderabad next month, is a clear example of how President Trump and Prime Minister Modi are promoting innovation, expanding job opportunities, and finding new ways to strengthen both of our economies.

When our militaries conduct joint exercises, we send a powerful message as to our commitment to protecting the global commons and defending our people. This year’s Malabar exercise was our most complex to date. The largest vessels from American, Indian, and Japanese navies demonstrated their power together in the Indian Ocean for the first time, setting a clear example of the combined strength of the three Indo-Pacific democracies. We hope to add others in coming years.

In keeping with India’s status as a Major Defense Partner – a status overwhelmingly endorsed last year by the U.S. Congress – and our mutual interest in expanding maritime cooperation, the Trump administration has offered a menu of defense options for India’s consideration, including the Guardian UAV. We value the role India can play in global security and stability and are prepared to ensure they have even greater capabilities.

And over the past decade, our counterterrorism cooperation has expanded significantly. Thousands of Indian security personnel have trained with American counterparts to enhance their capacity. The United States and India are cross-screening known and suspected terrorists, and later this year we will convene a new dialogue on terrorist designations.

...

States that use terror as an instrument of policy will only see their international reputation and standing diminish. It is the obligation, not the choice, of every civilized nation to combat the scourge of terrorism. The United States and India are leading this effort in that region.

But another more profound transformation that’s taking place, one that will have far-reaching implications for the next 100 years: The United States and India are increasingly global partners with growing strategic convergence.

Indians and Americans don’t just share an affinity for democracy. We share a vision of the future.

The emerging Delhi-Washington strategic partnership stands upon a shared commitment upholding the rule of law, freedom of navigation, universal values, and free trade. Our nations are two bookends of stability – on either side of the globe – standing for greater security and prosperity for our citizens and people around the world.

The challenges and dangers we face are substantial. The scourge of terrorism and the disorder sown by cyber attacks threaten peace everywhere. North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missiles pose a clear and imminent threat to the security of the United States, our Asian allies, and all other nations.

And the very international order that has benefited India’s rise – and that of many others – is increasingly under strain.

China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty.

China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for.

The United States seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends.

In this period of uncertainty and somewhat angst, India needs a reliable partner on the world stage. I want to make clear: with our shared values and vision for global stability, peace, and prosperity, the United States is that partner.

And with India’s youth, its optimism, its powerful democratic example, and its increasing stature on the world stage, it makes perfect sense that the United States – at this time – should seek to build on the strong foundation of our years of cooperation with India. It is indeed time to double down on a democratic partner that is still rising – and rising responsibly – for the next 100 years.

But above all, the world – and the Indo-Pacific in particular – needs the United States and India to have a strong partnership.

India and the United States must, as the Indian saying goes, “do the needful.” (Laughter.)

Our two countries can be the voice the world needs to be, standing firm in defense of a rules-based order to promote sovereign countries’ unhindered access to the planet’s shared spaces, be they on land, at sea, or in cyberspace.

In particular, India and the United States must foster greater prosperity and security with the aim of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The Indo-Pacific – including the entire Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific, and the nations that surround them – will be the most consequential part of the globe in the 21st century.

Home to more than three billion people, this region is the focal point of the world’s energy and trade routes. Forty percent of the world’s oil supply crisscrosses the Indian Ocean every day – through critical points of transit like the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz. And with emerging economies in Africa and the fastest growing economy and middle class in India, whole economies are changing to account for this global shift in market share. Asia’s share of global GDP is expected to surpass 50 percent by the middle of this century.

We need to collaborate with India to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity – so that it does not become a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics.

The world’s center of gravity is shifting to the heart of the Indo-Pacific. The U.S. and India – with our shared goals of peace, security, freedom of navigation, and a free and open architecture – must serve as the eastern and western beacons of the Indo-Pacific. As the port and starboard lights between which the region can reach its greatest and best potential.

First, we must grow with an eye to greater prosperity for our peoples and those throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

By the year 2050, India may boast the second largest economy in the world. India’s population – with a median age of 25 – is expected to surpass that of China’s within the next decade. Getting our economic partnership right is critical.

Economic growth flows from innovative ideas. Fortunately, there are no two countries that encourage innovation better than the United States and India. The exchange of technologies and ideas between Bangalore and Silicon Valley is changing the world.

Prosperity in the 21st century and beyond will depend on nimble problem solving that harnesses the power of markets and emerging innovations in the Indo-Pacific. This is where the United States and India have a tremendous competitive advantage.

Our open societies generate high-quality ideas at the speed of free thought. Helping regional partners establish similar systems will deliver solutions to 21st century problems.

For that to happen, greater regional connectivity is essential.

From Silk Routes to Grand Trunk Roads, South Asia was for millennia a region bound together by the exchange of goods, people, and ideas.

But today it is one of the least economically integrated regions in the world; intra-regional trade has languished – sitting at around 4 or 5 percent of total trade.

Compare that with ASEAN, where intra-regional trade stands at 25% of total trade.

The World Bank estimates that with barriers removed and streamlined customs procedures, intra-regional trade in South Asia would nearly quadruple from the current $28 billion to over $100 billion.

One of the goals of greater connectivity is providing nations in the Indo-Pacific the right options when it comes to sustainable development.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is one model of how we can achieve it. The program is committed to data, accountability, and evidence-based decision-making to foster the right circumstances for private investment.

Last month, the United States and Nepal signed a $500 million compact agreement – the first with a South Asian nation – to invest in infrastructure to meet growing electricity and transportation needs in Nepal, and to promote more trade linkages with partners in the region, like India.

The United States and India must look for more opportunities to grow this connectivity and our own economic links, even as we look for more ways to facilitate greater development and growth for others in the region.

But for prosperity to take hold in the Indo-Pacific, security and stability are required. We must evolve as partners in this realm too.

For India, this evolution will entail fully embracing its potential as a leading player in the international security arena. First and foremost, this means building security capacity.

My good friend and colleague Secretary Mattis was in Delhi just last month to discuss this. We both eagerly look forward to the inaugural 2+2 dialogue, championed by President Trump and Prime Minister Modi, soon.

The fact that the Indian Navy was the first overseas user of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, which it effectively fields with U.S. Navy counterparts, speaks volumes of our shared maritime interests and our need to enhance interoperability.

The proposals the United States has put forward, including for Guardian UAVs, aircraft carrier technologies, the Future Vertical Lift program, and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft, are all potential game changers for our commercial and defense cooperation.

The United States military’s record for speed, technology, and transparency speaks for itself – as does our commitment to India’s sovereignty and security. Security issues that concern India are concerns of the United States.

Secretary Mattis has said the world’s two greatest democracies should have the two greatest militaries. I couldn’t agree more.

When we work together to address shared security concerns, we don’t just protect ourselves, we protect others.

Earlier this year, instructors from the U.S. and Indian Armies came together to build a UN peacekeeping capacity among African partners, a program that we hope to continue expanding. This is a great example of the U.S. and India building security capacity and promoting peace in third countries – and serving together as anchors of peace in a very tumultuous world.

And as we implement President Trump’s new South Asia strategy, we will turn to our partners to ensure greater stability in Afghanistan and throughout the region. India is a partner for peace in Afghanistan and we welcome their assistance efforts.

Pakistan, too, is an important U.S. partner in South Asia. Our relationships in the region stand on their own merits. We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders that threaten their own people and the broader region. In doing so, Pakistan furthers stability and peace for itself and its neighbors, and improves its own international standing.

Even as the United States and India grow our own economic and defense cooperation, we must have an eye to including other nations which share our goals. India and the United States should be in the business of equipping other countries to defend their sovereignty, build greater connectivity, and have a louder voice in a regional architecture that promotes their interests and develops their economies. This is a natural complement to India’s “Act East” policy.

We ought to welcome those who want to strengthen the rule of law and further prosperity and security in the region.

In particular, our starting point should continue to be greater engagement and cooperation with Indo-Pacific democracies.

We are already capturing the benefits of our important trilateral engagement between the U.S., India, and Japan. As we look ahead, there is room to invite others, including Australia, to build on the shared objectives and initiatives.

India can also serve as a clear example of a diverse, dynamic, and pluralistic country to others – a flourishing democracy in the age of global terrorism. The sub-continent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions, and India’s diverse population includes more than 170 million Muslims – the third-largest Muslim population in the world. Yet we do not encounter significant number of Indian Muslims among foreign fighters in the ranks of ISIS or other terrorist groups, which speaks to the strength of Indian society. The journey of a democracy is never easy, but the power of India’s democratic example is one that I know will continue to strengthen and inspire others around the world.

In other areas, we are long overdue for greater cooperation. The more we expand cooperation on issues like maritime domain awareness, cybersecurity, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the more the nations in the Indo-Pacific will benefit.

We also must recognize that many Indo-Pacific nations have limited alternatives when it comes to infrastructure investment programs and financing schemes, which often fail to promote jobs or prosperity for the people they claim to help. It’s time to expand transparent, high-standard regional lending mechanisms – tools that will actually help nations instead of saddle [Ravi: saddling] them with mounting debt.

India and the United States must lead the way in growing these multilateral efforts.

We must do a better job leveraging our collective expertise to meet common challenges, while seeking even more avenues of cooperation to tackle those that are to come. There is a need and we must meet the demand.

The increasing convergence of U.S. and Indian interests and values offers the Indo-Pacific the best opportunity to defend the rules-based global system that has benefited so much of humanity over the past several decades.

But it also comes with a responsibility – for both of our countries to “do the needful” in support of our united vision of a free, open, and thriving Indo-Pacific.

The United States welcomes the growing power and influence of the Indian people in this region and throughout the world. We are eager to grow our relationship even as India grows as a world leader and power.

The strength of the Indo-Pacific has always been the interaction among many peoples, governments, economies, and cultures. The United States is committed to working with any nation in South Asia or the broader region that shares our vision of an Indo-Pacific where sovereignty is upheld and a rules-based system is respected.

It is time we act on our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, supported and protected by two strong pillars of democracy – the United States and India. Thank you for your kind attention.

(Applause.)
---- end speech (excluding Q&A) of Secy. Tillerson ----

Ravi: What a wonderful, logical and clearly articulated vision for India-USA relationship in the Indo-Pacific region for the next 100 years. I find this speech of Secy. Tillerson to be very inspiring! It also reflects good knowledge of history of India and South Asia. My heartiest congratulations to Secy. Tillerson and his team!

I think I completely agree with everything I have given above of Secy Tillerson's remarks (I only deleted one sentence about an extremist organization as I don't know much about that orgn., from the above speech, excluding Q&A, of Secy. Tillerson). I am surprised to find that I, an Indian living in India but who has had rather extensive exposure to USA and Western Europe in my former international software technologist career, am in such complete agreement with these quite long and exhaustive remarks of USA's Secretary of State about USA-India relations now and in the coming years and decades, perhaps for the next 100 years. I mean, I expected to have some polite disagreements with some points in his remarks. However, in the Q&A part, I do have some polite disagreement with Secy. Tillerson's views. As the Q&A part gets into some sensitive territory I have chosen not to include it, and not to comment on it.

As a person who now has a strong interest in spirituality and religion, I would like to say that freedom of religion (including freedom to have no religion), and having large portion of its population as believers in God, is another strong common feature which binds USA and India.

http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/ states that Christians make up 70.6%, Other faiths make up 5.9%, No faith (Nones) - 22.8% and Don't know - 0.6%, of USA population. That makes believers in God being 76.5% of USA population.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_India states that according to 2011 census, Hindus are 79.8%, Muslims - 14.2%, Other faiths - 5.8% and Religion not stated (Nones perhaps) - 0.2% of Indian population. That makes believers in God being (at least) 99.8% of Indian population.

I recall how I was amazed to read "In God We Trust" on USA dollar bills. Now India is, population percentage wise, a far more God believing country than USA. But Indian currency notes do not have the word, God, in it. Indian currency notes have the motto, Satyameva Jayate - Truth alone triumphs, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyameva_Jayate, which is from the Upanishads (end of Veda; Vedanta), along with the national emblem, a modified symbol of an ancient and famous Indian king who promoted Buddhism (Lion Capital of Ashoka, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_Capital_of_Ashoka). So there is morality and religious motif in it but not the word, God.

Then I noted that the USA Congress House of Representatives had an engraving of the words, "In God We Trust" in a prominent place above the House Speaker's chair, http://freedomslighthouse.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/housechamberingodwetrust.jpg.

Later I had more exposure to the role of Christian faith in building the USA. As a Hindu, I have never ever faced discrimination or hatred from any USA citizen or resident, on account of me being a Hindu (though I did not particularly exhibit my Hindu faith during my stay in the USA). Further, the USA has allowed Hindus to peacefully worship God according to Hindu religion and have allowed many Hindu temples to come up in the USA. I, and I am quite sure many other Indian Hindus, found this tolerance of Hindu religion by USA to be a very attractive and vital feature of the USA.

I should also say here that I have great reverence and love for Lord Jesus Christ, and for the Christian faith in general. I have been very impressed by, and experienced great joy in learning about, many Christian churches (denominations), pastors, priests and their congregations and services (including gospel songs) in the USA.

I think this freedom of religion, so long as the practice of a religion is not a threat to the constitution and people of a country, and faith in God of the majority of its people [over three-quarters of USA population and almost all of Indian population], are core values and attributes of both USA and India constitution and peoples, which significantly contribute to making USA and India natural allies for this 21st century.

I should also mention here that both in USA and India, freedom of people to have no religion is respected by the constitution and by law. So legally, any person can choose to be an atheist or agnostic, both in USA and India. While such persons may find it somewhat difficult to assimilate in all aspects of Indian society, especially its many religious festivals (like Diwali which is going on now), and which has (at least) 99.8 % believers in God, as far as I know, there are no reported persecutions, in this early 21st century, of any person residing in India, Indian or non-Indian, for choosing to be an atheist or an agnostic.

Secy. Tillerson said in above speech, "In this period of uncertainty and somewhat angst, India needs a reliable partner on the world stage. I want to make clear: with our shared values and vision for global stability, peace, and prosperity, the United States is that partner."

Ravi: As an Indian citizen (living in India), my view is that India is honoured by USA stating that it is a reliable partner of India on the world stage, and that India should wholeheartedly co-operate in this reliable partnership, so long as such partnership does not entail aggression from India against any country, big or small, that follows international norms and international law.

Secy. Tillerson said in above speech, "And the very international order that has benefited India’s rise – and that of many others – is increasingly under strain."

Ravi: Helping to sustain and promote rules based international order that India has benefited enormously from in the past few decades, is, I think, India's duty and also to India's and many other countries' benefit.

In this context, I would like to mention my gratitude to USA government from the Bill Clinton presidency years (Democrat; Jan 1993 to Jan 2001) onwards, through George W. Bush presidency years (Republican; Jan 2001 to Jan 2009), Barrack Obama presidency years (Democrat; Jan 2009 to Jan 2017) and now Donald J. Trump presidency years (Republican; Jan 2017 onwards), for their role in South Asia in keeping the peace in India, and for protecting and defending the rules based International order. I mention these years as this is the period during which I have been doing some reading about USA govt. role in such matters. In particular, I think USA has been instrumental in ensuring that India-Pakistan hostilities do not go beyond small battles and burst into a terrifying nuclear war that would be devastating for many Pakistanis as well as many Indians, with long-term damage to both countries.

It is the protection of the rules based international order that the above USA governments (followed to some extent by me from 1993 onwards) provided that played a vital role in India's economic growth, which included my own individual financial/economic growth during my Mumbai based independent international software technologist/consultant role (individual business; one man show) from around 1993 to Aug. 2002 (after which I retired from commercial work to pursue a simple and single (unmarried) spiritual aspirant life). I would like to express my gratitude to the above USA governments for this role they have played in facilitating India's economic rise in the world, and my own individual financial/economic growth (till Aug. 2002).

Secy. Tillerson said in above speech, "In particular, our starting point should continue to be greater engagement and cooperation with Indo-Pacific democracies. We are already capturing the benefits of our important trilateral engagement between the U.S., India, and Japan. As we look ahead, there is room to invite others, including Australia, to build on the shared objectives and initiatives.

India can also serve as a clear example of a diverse, dynamic, and pluralistic country to others – a flourishing democracy in the age of global terrorism. The sub-continent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions, and India’s diverse population includes more than 170 million Muslims – the third-largest Muslim population in the world. Yet we do not encounter significant number of Indian Muslims among foreign fighters in the ranks of ISIS or other terrorist groups, which speaks to the strength of Indian society. The journey of a democracy is never easy, but the power of India’s democratic example is one that I know will continue to strengthen and inspire others around the world."

Ravi: I think the observation of Secy. Tillerson about India being a diverse and dynamic country with Indian sub-continent being the birthplace of four of the world's major religions (I think he is referring to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, Opening section of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_India states the same), shows his knowledge about this vital religion aspect in India. Religion is very deeply entwined with the life of almost the whole of 1.3 billion Indians. It is my considered opinion that religion and faith in God are one of the most precious, if not the most precious, things/possessions/values of the vast majority of Indians, even if some of them may not be so articulate about it. For sure, religion and faith in God are the most precious things/values of my life.

Secy. Tillerson's remarks about Indian Muslims having largely shunned extremist terrorism show that he has a good grasp of this important aspect of contemporary India. I should mention here that one of the spiritual masters I revere and whose teachings I try hard to follow, is the Late Shirdi Sai Baba (gave up physical body in 1918 in Shirdi, Maharashtra), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi, who used to wear the dress of a Muslim fakir and frequently say, "Allah Malik" meaning "Allah/God is the Lord/Master". He is also well known for promoting Hindu-Muslim unity, and had both Hindu and Muslim followers. He would teach, "Sabka Malik Ek" meaning "The Lord/Master/God of all is One", which I, a devout Hindu, deeply believe in. That is, the God of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Zorastrians etc. is ONE, though the traditions and paths followed by these various religions and sects within them are different, but leading eventually to the same ONE God.

About the initial part of above quote of Secy. Tillerson, I fully support the idea of USA, India, Japan and Australia - the four major democracies in the Indo-Pacific - collaborating to ensure freedom of navigation and ensuring international law and rules based international order compliance in the Indo-Pacific region.
===========================================================

Some additional thoughts from me on this matter:

I think there is BIPARTISAN support from USA administrations & USA Congress, from George W. Bush presidency onwards, towards closer ties with India based on shared interests and values. That is the vital part - shared interest and values.
...
In this matter, I think 9/11 tragedy and terror attack when George W. Bush was the USA president, was the turning point for USA, after which USA administrations and Congress, both Republican and Democrat led, have advocated and taken steps to have a much closer relationship with India than earlier. And in India, both the UPA and NDA governments which have been in power since 9/11 have welcomed that closer relationship moves from the USA, again based on India's shared interests and values with the USA.
...
I think both USA and Indian administrations and Congress/Parliament follow policies based on their individual countries' interests. What I am saying is that, after 9/11, both Republican and Democrat led USA administrations and Congress as well as UPA and NDA Indian governments and Parliament, find that closer USA-India business and military ties help each other. That is, it is in both the countries' interests.

Now here I would also like to say that my view is that Russia is an old time-tested friend of India which has helped India in very significant ways for decades since India's independence. In the coming decades, India should always remember the help rendered by Russia to us in the past with some important collaborations continuing even today. India must balance its closer relationship with the USA in such a way that India's long time-tested relationship with Russia is sustained for the foreseeable future. I personally have nothing but goodwill towards Russia and its people as well as many relatively new countries (after Dec. 1991 dissolution of Soviet Union) and their peoples which were earlier part of the Soviet Union.

BTW to put things in real-life perspective for my life in Puttaparthi, an international pilgrim/spiritual aspirant town with many Russians and Americans living in it, in my apartment building, my current next door neighbour on one side is an elderly Russian lady (seems to be out of town now) and, on the other side, is an elderly American lady! We live in harmony and peace!
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[I thank USA Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and have presumed that he will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from his above mentioned speech on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

USA President Trump's Facebook post on Diwali

I made the following comment on Facebook post of USA President Trump, whose contents are given below: "Thank you sir for your best wishes for Diwali. - Ravi S. Iyer from India."

The two pics below are screenshots taken from the Facebook video. [To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window, and in new tab/window click on pic to zoom in.]





Text contents of USA President Trump's Facebook video post: 
https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump/videos/10160011016295725/, dated 18th Oct. 2017 (Indian Standard Time), are as follows:

Today, I was deeply honored to be joined by so many administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community - to celebrate Diwali -- the Hindu Festival of Lights.

As we do so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy. I greatly value my very strong relationship with Prime Minister Modi. Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion. A time of peace and prosperity for the New Year, it is a tradition that is held dear by more than 1 billion Hindus worldwide and more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world.

Our Indian-American neighbors and friends have made incredible contributions to our country – and to the world. You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land.
The Lighting of the Diya is typically celebrated by families in their homes. Today, we proudly celebrate this holiday in THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE. In so doing, we reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American FAMILY.

We wish all of America’s Hindus and everyone who celebrates Diwali a joyous holiday and blessings of light, goodness, and prosperity throughout the New Year. And now we will light the Diya.

Donald J. Trump 
President of the United States of America
---- end text contents of Facebook post of USA President Trump ----

The video is about 2 minutes long. In the video, Mr. Trump reads out the above message surrounded by Indian-Americans, including some who serve in his administration. Towards the end of the video, Mr. Trump lights the lamp (Diya).

[I thank USA President Trump and have presumed that he will not have any objections to me sharing the above contents of his Facebook post, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Friday, October 13, 2017

My comments on Indian embassy in Argentina putting up pics of Madhusudan Rao Naidu on its twitter a/c

Given below are my recent comments (slightly edited) on Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/shubha.kumar/posts/10159114674795538, which is about the Indian embassy in Argentina putting up pics of a function of Muddenahalli group in Escobar (presumably a place in Argentina) including pics of Madhusudan Rao Naidu, the FALSE CLAIM communicator, in the function.

Sairam sister --name-snipped--! As the Indian embassy in Argentina has got involved, my considered view is that both the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust as well as the International Sathya Sai orgn. must put out their public views on the matter ON SOCIAL MEDIA, including any protest letter they write to the Indian embassy in Argentina. Once they do so, then I for sure will support them (presuming that they protest about it PUBLICLY) on social media.
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--name-snipped--, Well, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust has a Facebook account, I believe. SSSCT has also issued PUBLIC statements referring to Muddenahalli in the past (in end 2014 or 2015 by which time immense damage had been done by Muddenahalli group to Sathya Sai fraternity worldwide).

Who else but SSSCT and International Sathya Sai orgn. will be recognized by Indian government agencies, including its foreign embassies, in such delicate matters related to impersonation of Sathya Sai by Madhusudan Rao Naidu? My considered view is that both the SSSCT and International Sathya Sai orgn. should inform the Indian embassy in Argentina that it has been misguided by an imposter who FALSELY CLAIMS to be a medium of Sathya Sai.

When individual devotees contact Indian govt. agencies the impact is much lesser, though there have been cases when there was change in stand of Indian embassy (like in the case of Indian embassy in Croatia). Govt. officials worldwide would tend to play safe. Ignoring individual complaints is easy. Ignoring complaints by authorised representatives like SSSCT and International Sathya Sai orgn. will be much more difficult for govt. representatives to do.

About the dirty linen part: Well, there are court cases going on in India on the matter. The USA Sathya Sai orgn. sent a legal notice to Muddenahalli group some months ago which was shared on the Internet. So I think both SSSCT and International Sathya Sai orgn. have crossed that bridge. Now the dispute is public knowledge. Now what matters is using legal avenues to prevent Muddenahalli group from doing further damage to Sathya Sai fraternity worldwide by additional distortion and corruption of the legacy and memories of our beloved and revered Gurudev, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
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I have heard Swami in public discourses live, sitting in Sai Kulwant Hall, being critical of imitators of him. That message of Swami via public discourse made it very clear to me that Swami disapproved of such imitators.

Swami did not hold back strong words to criticize people who were doing wrong. He was not a goodie-goodie only spiritual master who never was critical of wrongdoers. We would be scared (I was a free service teacher then in the Sai university in Prasanthi Nilayam), I repeat scared, of doing wrong because of the wrath that we may face from Swami. I think like teachers in the regular world, spiritual teachers have to not only praise and promote good, but also point out and be critical of bad.

Today, in the absence of Sathya Sai physical form, devotees look up to the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT) for guidance in such matters. So I for one, expect SSSCT to continue Bhagavan's practice of promoting and praising good work but being unambiguously critical of bad that is happening within the Sathya Sai fraternity.
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to quieten the monkey mind? Sathya Sai, singing Bhaja Govindam verses, shows one way

Last updated on 14th October 2017

Given below are my recent comments (slightly edited) on a Facebook post in response to above question of how to quieten the monkey mind:

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's words as sung by him tell us one way to achieve that:
Satsangatwe Nissangatwam, Nissangatwe Nirmohatwam,
Nirmohatwe Nischalatattwam, Nischalatattwe Jeevan Mukti.
Hare Rama! Hare Rama! Rama Rama Hare Hare!
Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna! Krishna Krishna Hare Hare!

Here's the song sung by Bhagawan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8l3zkBiZ6k, 3 min. 21 secs.
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I think it is part of Bhaja Govindam of Adi Shankara but I don't know whether Bhagawan modified it a little. ... It is not just a reminder to take the holy name of God/Avatar but a mix of spiritual wisdom and holy name of God. ... Bhagawan was crystal clear about spiritual directions in such matters. A dream Guru he was, to me at least!
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Let me try a literal translation of the first two lines of the above mentioned verses, with my not-so-great understanding of the word Nissangatwe. So please be warned that my interpretation could be wrong.

Satsangatwe Nissangatwam, Nissangatwe Nirmohatwam
From good/divinity lovers/worshipers company (so good/divinity lovers/worshipers company for significant time is implied as the first step) to no company (solitude), From no company (solitude) to no infatuation (I think moha translates properly to infatuation).

Nirmohatwe Nischalatattwam, NIschalatattwe Jeevanmukti
From no infatuation to (being established in) steady/unchanging/eternal principle/basis (of consciousness/awareness), from being established in steady/eternal principle/basis of consciousness/awareness to liberation (from cycle of life and death).

I need to go out now. Hope to revisit this and improve my translation by using Internet sources/references.
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Well, this is one path that Swami spoke of. In this path, which seems to be a Jnana Marga path, I think solitude and stillness of mind are vital. .... But Swami did not limit his teachings to this Jnana Marga path alone. Most of his devotees, it seems to me, preferred Bhakti and Karma marga paths. He spoke many times on Bhakti and Karma. I am sure that the same destination is eventually reached by people following any of these paths.

In this context I should also share that once when I was doing Seva Dal duty in Sai Kulwant Hall (sometime in the 90s) and was rather frustrated with the challenges (humiliation, insults, phsyical strain etc.) that Seva Dal duty involved, and was thinking that this Seva Dal stuff is not really suiting me, Bhagavan gave a discourse that day itself where he touched upon the topic! He said something on the lines of (paraphrased):

Today I will tell you three paths to reach the Divine. [Ravi: I pricked up my ears. I said this is what I want him to tell me! I thought he would talk about Jnana, Bhakti and Karma paths and perhaps elaborate on which path suited which type of persons.] They are: Seva, Seva, Seva!
--- end paraphrased words of Bhagavan discourse ---

Ravi: I got that message loud and clear! It was not what I wanted to hear as I wanted to get some words from Swami that helped me move away from Seva Dal duty to more Jnana marga type of activity. But he was the Gurudev and I was the struggling spiritual aspirant. So I had to accept his words, even though I was not so pleased to hear that!

Today, I believe that Swami sensed those thoughts of mine and responded to them via his discourse.

As I kept his Seva, Seva, Seva words in my mind, I always tried to include significant level of Seva in my spiritual quest. Later I realized that it was this Seva activity that went a long way in bursting ego-pride related stuff that was in me at an internal level (not exposed much to outer world), and helped me better connect and appreciate the Bhakti and Karma marga people, and even learn from them.

I learned the vital spiritual trait of loving God by associating with Bhaktas. That was something that I think I could not have developed, or easily developed, by only Jnana marga approach (as I had understood it). Today, I am first and foremost a lover of God (as you may see even in my Facebook profile pic). Everything else comes afterwards.
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More about Bhagawan's emphasis on Seva.

The seating arrangement among staff and Sai orgn. senior office bearers in Kulwant Hall was a clear index of the position of the persons in the ashram system. It was like the seating arrangement in a King's darbar (court) reflecting the relative importance of the people in the darbar/court (to the King).

If a person who formerly was ashram staff, did not do any service activity currently but was leading an individual sadhana life, he would have to sit along with the Old Students (next to the garage area) which was not ideal for viewing mandir events and seeing Swami when he was seated on the dais! But people contributing to ashram seva activities on a regular basis could sit in staff or verandah area, and be much closer physically to Swami and generally have a better view of mandir events. So the message was loud and clear. If you want to have a seat which is physically closer to Swami in Sai Kulwant Hall, then you better do some seva in the ashram. That was the huuuuge importance Bhagawan in physical form, gave to Seva.

Another example is that of the late Gopal Rao sir, who was a former head of Andhra Bank, devotee of many decades, and was living in the ashram. He was the grandfather of a former lady colleague of mine in Mastek (software company) in Mumbai, where I was a (independent) software consultant. So I had visited Gopal Rao sir a few times and had some interesting chats with him.

Even though he was quite old (perhaps 80s then), he used to do South Indian Canteen seva of tearing the coupons of those who had been served OR were to be served their meals! BTW he would be wearing a traditional dhoti while doing this Seva. What an outstanding example he set for people like me, about the importance of Seva in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram. I mean, he was a retired chairman of an important state level bank in India, and was very well off. I think Bhagavan had even praised Gopal Rao sir publicly for doing this Seva.

Any person who has spent significant time in presence of physical form Bhagavan in Prasanthi Nilayam would clearly and unambiguously know that Bhagavan gave Seva first priority! Scriptural knowledge, medical knowledge, academic knowledge, singing ability etc. was all given reasonable importance in its place in the ashram system, but if you wanted to melt Bhagavan's heart and earn his praise, and also be respected in Prasanthi Nilayam system, you HAD TO DO SEVA. That was the extraordinary culture that Bhagavan created in Prasanthi Nilayam! Manav Seva is Madhav Seva was something that was the real thing for Bhagavan and not just mere words. This I say out of my experience in Prasanthi Nilayam system in Bhagavan's physical presence from Oct. 2002 to Mar. 2011.
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About comment about me being in Bhakti marga now: Well, Bhagawan would say that all margas are one or something like that (which you have also mentioned in your comment). My understanding of this is that Bhagawan felt that all aspects are IDEALLY needed in a devotee. So he would lay stress on chintan. He would lay stress on self-inquiry. But he would lay equal stress on Bhakti and on Seva! Today my path is a seamless blend of some Jnana, some Bhakti and some Karma marga paths. So I would not characterize my path as being primarily Bhakti now. I would rather say that Bhagavan showed me/taught me/enlightened me that love for God and worship of God is AN INTEGRAL part of the Jnana Marga (path of wisdom). Earlier I was foolishly arrogant and had a skewed intellectual less-properly-understood view of topics like Vedanta. By bringing devotion and love for God in my spiritual practice I now have a far better understanding of topics like Vedanta than before.
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From some Internet browsing:
1) The two lines: Satsangathwe ... are from Bhaja Govindam. But the Hare Rama lines seem to be a modification.
2) Nissangatwam is typically translated as detachment (instead of my literal translation of no company/solitude).
3) Tatwam, in this context, may be better translated as basis (instead of principle).
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Moha, I think, is translated many times, as delusion. Sometimes I think I have seen it being translated as infatuation.
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The classic Sanskrit word for detachment is vairagya, I think. From a Sanskrit word point of view, while I don't really know Sanskrit, whatever little bit I have been exposed to of Sanskrit, tells me that Nissangatwam cannot be literally translated as vairagya.

Perhaps neither is the translation of it as no company/solitude, the correct one, in this context.

The sangam in traditional and ancient India would have been, I guess, vital for status and survival. Perhaps nissangatwam may mean something like keeping away from regular society and regular worldly life. So it may mean sticking to a small group of people/spiritual aspirants who either help or do not hinder one's spiritual quest. In other words, limiting one's contacts to a small group of people. BTW I have heard that Bhagawan has privately advised some students who were in spiritual sadhaka/aspirant mode, to limit their contacts to a small group of people. I think that makes a lot of sense to a serious spiritual aspirant both from a time management perspective and also from a less tangled life perspective.

So I think in this context, Bhagawan would have interpreted nissangatwam as having limited/small group of people as one's company and NOT being caught up in regular society with its regular worldly affairs. I don't think translating nissangatwam as detachment is precise in this context. In fact, I think it could even be misleading. Detachment (vairagya) is a very big word with lots of commentary on it. One can hold big positions in society yet be detached! Nishkama Karma! King Janaka is typically held up as a great example of such persons who were active in society but were detached! Hands in society, head in the forest!
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About satsangam in this context: I think Bhagavan would have meant company of the good, the holy, the spiritual seekers and spiritual adepts. Mind you, the words, spiritual seeker, would include devotees who are into traditional Bhakti marga practices and who may not be doing much of reading intellectual stuff like Advaita and Upanishads. In my considered opinion, the simple and devout Bhakta is as vital a seeker to God as is the intellectually gifted scripture scholar.
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An update:
Just to bring some real life touch to what I said: Here's a video of Bhagavan felicitating Gopal Rao sir (the same ex-chairman of Andhra Bank who used to do Seva at South Indian canteen tearing coupons of people who were seated for meals, perhaps upto his early 90s) for his 100th birthday, if I recall correctly. Felicitation of Sri Gopal Rao, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV-nz--TQjg, 9 min. 10 secs.

And here's the video of Bhagawan visiting Gopal Rao sir in Super hospital when the latter was seriously ill, Swami and Father, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPXe13tLTXg, 3 min. 50 secs.

The two above videos seem to have been put up by Gopal Rao sir's son Sri Suryanarayana (seen in the videos), whom also I have had the pleasure of meeting during one or two of my visits to Gopal Rao sir's room in the ashram (South building just behind Sai Kulwant Hall).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sathya Sai: Students, the educationists and the patrons of education, all struggle to fulfil their worldly desires

Given below are words of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba from a discourse given in Kodaikanal on 23rd April 1993, which was printed in Oct. 2017 Sanathana Sarathi. [I came across it while I was reading Sanathana Sarathi yesterday night.]

In earlier days, when the population of the world was only 100 crores [Ravi: 1 billion], most people treaded the spiritual path. They undertook spiritual practices to attain Divinity and liberation. Considering human life as evanescent like a water bubble, they sought to know the eternal truth. Now the population has increased to 600 crores [Ravi: 6 billion].

The population has increased but desire for liberation has decreased. The reason is the modern system of education. This system of education creates unlimited desires in man. It does not inculcate the desire for liberation. The students, the educationists and the patrons of education, all struggle to fulfil their worldly desires. The first plan of a student is take up a course of study which would provide him wealth and high status. The only aim of education is to earn a living. Is education meant merely to fill the belly? Only stomach is not important, head and heart are more important. What is the responsibility of the head? Its responsibility is not only to secure job and business for you. This leads to Pravritti (worldliness). The world is, in fact, an illusion. The world is nothing but a dream.
---- end extract from Bhagawan discourse ---

Ravi: This is Jagadguru Bhagawan speaking (different from Bhagawan speaking jocularly to students as a loving parent and giving them Gulab Jamun [Indian sweet]). And Bhagawan has spoken the truth about society today, perhaps worldwide, including some supposedly spiritual values oriented educational institutions. "This system of education creates unlimited desires in man. It does not inculcate the desire for liberation. The students, the educationists and the patrons of education, all struggle to fulfil their worldly desires."

I think there may be a few students, educationists and patrons of education even among many supposedly spiritual values oriented educational institutions who follow 'ceiling on (material) desires' and have desire for liberation instead of worldly desires. But the bulk of students, educationists (teachers and administrators like principals, directors and vice-chancellors) and patrons of education among such supposedly spiritual values oriented educational institutions are focused on worldly desires. I think that is the truth. Mind you, I am not blaming the students, educationists and patrons of education of such institutions. It is their life and their choice. I am just sharing my view that Bhagawan's 1993 discourse extract above tells us the reality.

I think those people who are desirous of liberation and would like to reduce their worldly desires, should not lose heart about the state of affairs. I think they should ASSIDUOUSLY cultivate the company of those who desire liberation thereby protecting their spiritual liberation quest from being watered down by the company of people who are more into worldly desires. Further, they should avoid Asathya-Adharma as that can have very negative impact on their spiritual quest. Note that sometimes supposedly Sathyam Vada Dharmam Chara (Speak the truth, follow Dharma/ethics) educational institutions have administrators like Head of department, principal, director, registrar and vice-chancellor who themselves may be Asathya-Adharma crooks. For those desirous of spiritual progress, it is best to keep a safe distance from such educational institution administrators and REFUSE to follow any Asathya-Adharma instructions they may give, even if that results in loss of worldly status and position. What is the use of worldly status and position acquired by following Asathya-Adharma to a GENUINE spiritual aspirant? If Sathya and Dharma are lost, what else is left for the genuine spiritual aspirant in his spiritual journey? Nothing! He loses all, if he loses Sathya and Dharma.

[I thank Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Sanathana Sarathi, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their magazine on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Monday, October 9, 2017

PM Narendra Modi worships at Shirdi Sai Baba temple in his hometown, Vadnagar

Given below is a Facebook post of Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, https://www.facebook.com/narendramodi/photos/a.10150164299700165.421791.177526890164/10159511788295165/ dated 9th October 2017 :

From my visit to Vadnagar (my hometown) yesterday.


[To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window, and in new tab/window click on pic to zoom in.]
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My comments on my share of above post here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1991960861020481 are as follows:

Shirdi Sai Baba temples are all over India. Gujarat being a neighbouring state of Maharashtra (where Shirdi Sai Baba was based) naturally would have its share. Good to know that PM Modi's hometown too has its Shirdi Baba temple and that PM Modi worshiped there. Sabka Maalik Ek (The Lord/Master of all is One)!

[I thank Indian PM Narendra Modi and have presumed that he will not have any objections to me sharing the above contents from his Facebook post on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Toronto Mayor, John Tory, in July 2017 BAPS mandir speech mentions 'incredible' Hindu civilization contributions (to Western civilization)

This post follows up on my earlier post, Canada PM Justin Trudeau speech in Jul 2017 on 10th anniversary celebration of Toronto Hindu temple, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2017/10/canada-pm-justin-trudeau-speech-in-jul.html, 8th Oct. 2017.

The transcripts as well as screenshot pics below are from the video: 10th Anniversary Celebration of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Toronto, ON, Canada, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soZ2VWyvzWY. [To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window, and in new tab/window click on pic to zoom in.]
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From around 13:37 in the video, Toronto Mayor John Tory says:

And I want you to know, as the mayor of the city of Toronto, and I say this on behalf of all of the people of the city of Toronto, how proud we are to have this magnificent and unique mandir (temple) located in our beautiful city. ...

And to follow up (on what) minister Baines said about making Canada a better place, you make Toronto a better place. [Applause]. As you heard the prime minister say, the BAPS mandir is an architectural masterpiece, carved out of faith and out of love in Canada's largest city. An inspiration for those who pray here and gather here, but also, I can assure you, an inspiration for all Torontonians, for all Canadians, and for people from around this continent and around the world who come to visit.

You will be pleased to know that I have encouraged people, when they have asked me, what they should go to see in Toronto - what should they go to see that they might not be able to cast their eye on when they are in the downtown, I say, go to the BAPS mandir. [Applause]

And I say to them, not only will you see something of magnificence, but you will also learn a lot about the incredible contributions over time immemorial by Hindu civilization to our civilization as a whole. [Applause].


And I want you to know, your holiness, and ladies and gentlemen, as I go around this city performing my duties, as I go across the country, and as I travel around the world representing Toronto, you are always with me [Tory raises his right hand showing a yellow sacred thread tied to his right wrist; applause] because I have here something that I believe blesses me, something that I believe protects me. But more importantly than that, it reminds me everyday of the friendship that I have been privileged to have with you, and with the people of faith here at the BAPS mandir.



And so to mark this special occasion of the 10th anniversary of this mandir, I would like to present the key to the city to his holiness, Mahant Swami Maharaj. I have only presented three keys to this city since I have been the mayor and I want .. to read to you what the inscription says, that accompanies the key. You will see me present a framed version of the key to his holiness. I assure you there is also a key that accompanies that, which will be presented to him as well. And it reads as follows: "This recognition honours his holiness as the sixth spiritual guru of BAPS. His holiness travels the world inspiring people with his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct. The virtuous lifestyle and ideals to which his holiness adheres are what many people strive to achieve and he is an inspiration for all young people. His holiness is the head of a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization that is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony through Hindu principles. Toronto has been enriched by many contributions from BAPS charities Canada and from the individual members of BAPS to help disaster relief causes and to the well being of our community. Unique BAPS mandir located in Toronto serves as an architectural masterpiece and adds to the multi-cultural mosaic of the city of Toronto and of Canada."



And it is so, with those words that I am proud on your behalf and on behalf of all the people of Toronto and the members of Toronto city council to present to his holiness, the key to the city on this memorable occasion of the 10th anniversary of this BAPS mandir.
--- end Toronto Mayor, John Tory, speech transcript ---



Around 12:03, Mahant Swami Maharaj says a few words:

May this beautiful country, Canada, prosper in all ways. May everyone in Canada live in harmony. May the Prime Minister be a leader who strengthens the humility of the country. May the people of Canada be happy and peaceful. May this mandir continue to inspire everyone towards better living. May the whole world unite as one big family. We are peace loving people and Canada is also peace loving. So let us pray together so that peace prevails in Canada and in the whole world.
---- end Mahant Swami Maharaj few words transcript ---







Ravi: It is a matter of great joy to me, as a devout Hindu, to hear and see such praise from Toronto Mayor, John Tory, about BAPS mandir's Hindu principles based/related contributions to Toronto city, the largest city in Canada. To then see him show his sacred yellow thread on his wrist, presumably given by BAPS to him, and talk about his belief that it would protect him and bless him, made it even more joyous.

May Almighty God bless Toronto Mayor John Tory and the BAPS mandir in Toronto for showing such a wonderful inclusive attitude towards different religions, with Tory being of Christian faith and BAPS mandir being of Hindu faith. I congratulate both BAPS mandir as well as Canadian political leaders like PM Justin Trudeau and Mayor John Tory for this event which shows us how Canada allows Hindu faith along with its service to society work to flourish in Canada and how Hindu faith can enrich Canada in this process.

My belief, of course, based on Vedanta which was reinforced by the teachings of Sathya Sai, is that there is ultimately only one God, a formless divine power which some among Hindus refer to as Absolute Brahman. Various religions and sects are different pathways to the same God. And I am so happy to be able to worship and adore that ONE GOD (Brahman) through various faiths/religions like Hinduism, Christianity as well as peaceful sects of Islam like Sufi Islam.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman :
"In Hinduism, Brahman (/brəhmən/; ब्रह्मन्) connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe."

[I thank Toronto, Canada mayor John Tory and BAPS Swaminarayan, and wikipedia, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above transcripts of Mayor Tory and his holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj's speech, and pics from above youtube video, and wiki extracts, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sathya Sai on vairagya (detachment)

Given below are my recent comments (slightly edited) on a Facebook post:

My view is that Swami's message was suited to the persons who were the target of the message. [So Swami would send sweets to students, and would not be very appreciative of students giving up on sweets as a penance!] Too much vairagya in students would not have been appropriate, I think, as Swami wanted them to be in the world and also follow Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema values. .... But to grown ups, I think Swami did talk about vairagya. In my considered view, Prema (selfless love) and Vairagya (detachment) are the hallmarks of an evolved spiritual person.
...

My experience of physical form Sathya Sai during my regular (almost every day when Bhagavan was in Parthi) darshans and discourse-sambhashans (discourses would NOT be every day, of course) of him from Oct. 2002 to March 2011 is that Swami would interact with students, many times, as a loving parent. We would be told of Swami inquiring of students what they ate in hostel and how it was etc. ...

But when Swami would give a public discourse in Sai Kulwanth Hall, especially on festival days when there would be a crowd, he would speak like a Jagadguru, a spiritual teacher for the world. I don't think I have heard Swami even once during the public discourses I have heard from him, live sitting in Sai Kulwant Hall, ask people to freak out on Gulab Jamun, for example. .. No. At such times, he would be in a really different mode. And people like me would be paying deep attention to Swami's words trying to catch the full meaning of his words, as most of the time Swami would be talking about spirituality rising above mundane life. Let me dig up some vairagya statements of Swami from sssbpt.info.

From Google search results for: vairagya site:sssbpt.info

1) From http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume20/sss20-14.pdf: "Even as a lamp needs a container, oil, wick and a match stick to light it, for lighting the inner flame, one needs a container in the form of Vairagya (renunciation), Bhakti (the oil of devotion), the wick of mental concentration and Tathvajnana (the match stick of true awareness). Even if any of these four is lacking, the light of Self cannot be lit."

2) From http://www.sssbpt.info/vahinis/Prasanthi/Prasanthi17.pdf :

Only Humanity has the capacity, the credentials for realizing the power of the Lord, for earning that power (sakthi). It is indeed tragic that, even after achieving human birth, people do not realize that eternal reality or even make an attempt to understand It. If this chance is missed, when can they attempt it?

Why, they do not concern themselves with the very purpose for which they have come! Did they come only for living like all other animals, birds, or insects, eating, wandering about, sleeping, and seeking pleasure? If the answer is “no”, then for what else? Can we say that a person is just another animal, like the rest? People have three things that animals don’t have: the power to reason, the power to renounce, and the power to decide on right and wrong. These are special powers; but of what use are they unless they are applied in actual practice? If they are used, the name “human” is apt, otherwise, the name “animal” has to be used.

The three powers mentioned above should be applied by people not only in worldly matters but even in the investigation of the ultimate truth. Really speaking, if inquiry, discrimination, and renunciation are carried out while passing through the joys and sorrows of life, the conviction is bound to dawn in a moment that all this is unreal, that all this has no basis in truth. When such knowledge dawns, one is certain to tread the path of religion and spiritual discipline and take up the inquiry that will lead to the truth. This is the task in which people must be engaged.

Well! If only everyone would ask the questions “Who are we? Whence did we come? Where have we come to? How long will we be here?”, the truth could be easily grasped. That questioning is the sign of discrimination (viveka). When, by means of this discrimination, the idea that the world is impermanent gets deeply rooted in the mind, all attachments cease automatically. That is the stage of renunciation or detachment (vairagya).

One asks, is it worthwhile to be caught up in this unreal world? This is false and misleading, one tells oneself. One then turns one’s efforts to the realm of the Lord, the realm of truth. That is the wise decision.
--- end extract from Prasanthi17.pdf ----

The above 2 are from the first two results for the Google Search. I think they reflect what I said about public-discourse and public writings Swami. He truly would rise to world spiritual teacher level during these discourses and writings. And I would love that immensely. It has been my great privilege to listen to such public discourses of his live, sitting in Sai Kulwant Hall.

But I should also say that Swami was aware that most of his devotees including me, could not easily rise up to the levels that he urged us to aspire to. So he would tolerate our inadequacies as spiritual aspirants, joke with us about our failings (even in discourses, at times, which would lead to great laughter among the public)...

However, through his public discourses, as well as his writings, Swami has been very clear about what the spiritual path needs, for earnest spiritual aspirants who want to experience their divine truth. Whether we are able to match up to it or not is a different matter. Swami did not dilute those teachings to suit our failings, in his public discourses. He was one tough master in his public discourses. At least, that's my view of this aspect of him.

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

Canada PM Justin Trudeau speech in Jul 2017 on 10th anniversary celebration of Toronto Hindu temple

Prime Minister Trudeau celebrates the 10th anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaaZBtsiCxk, 8 min. 18 secs, published Jul. 25th 2017

Another video which uses clips from the above video and adds some pics of the temple: https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1661055697259247/, around 2 mins.

I have transcribed some parts of Canadian PM Trudeau's speech below:

Jai Swaminarayan! [Applause]. Thank you.

Hello everyone! Kem cho! (How are you, in Gujarati) [Applause]

I first want to thank his divine holiness for welcoming me so warmly today.
...

My friends, it is truly a pleasure and an honour to join you in celebrating 10 years of the BAPS Swaminarayan mandir as well as the vibrant community that made this possible. Built according to principles outlined in ancient Hindu scripture, it is without a doubt, one of Canada's architectural wonders with its intricate stone and wood carvings.

How remarkable and fitting it is that when visitors come to Canada through our largest airport, Pearson International, one of the very first Canadian sights people see off Highway 427 is this mandir. I, for one, could not be more proud.

Each year visitors are always stunned to learn that no steel was used in its construction and it took only eighteen months to build, and you made this mandir possible. It was your donations, your hard work, the vision of late Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and your determination that built this stunning temple for worshipers and visitors alike.

But the mandir is more than just an architectural masterpiece. It is also a place for community. As Gujarat's favorite son, Mahatma Gandhi, once said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others". [Applause]

The congregation here truly embodies the principles of openness and peace. For the past ten years, the mandir has spearheaded initiatives that help those in need, for both Hindus and non-Hindus. Annual walkathons, organized lectures, charity galas - you've touched the lives of countless Torontonians through charity and we thank you for it. [Applause]

Your generosity, kindness and solidarity are shaping Canada into a place we are all even prouder to call home.
...

When I look around me today, I see that I am in a place that perfectly represents the modern, diverse Canada that we are all so proud to be part of. [Applause] A Canada where all Canadians no matter (what) their religion, the colour of their skin, or their native tongue, are at home. Canadians know that we are strong not inspite of our differences but because of those differences.

We have a lot to celebrate this year besides the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 10th anniversary of the mandir, we are also celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms.

Now I would like also to take a moment to recognize the importance of the bond between Canada and India. The more than one million Canadians of Indian origin have made countless contributions to our national fabric, and the relationship between our two countries is truly a special one. [Applause]. Its a relationship (that) our government and (our) ministers both deeply value and actively cultivate.

Not so long ago, our infrastructure minister, minster ---, attended the vibrant Gujarat conference [applause] and just as we are always wowed by the architecture of the BAPS mandir here in Toronto, he made a point to tell me the Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi is a must-visit. [Applause].

I, for myself, have great memories of my many meetings with Prime Minister Modi. [Applause] But, of all the times I met him, the one that I was always most touched by was the time he grabbed my daughter --- by her ears. [Laughter]

I hope all Canadians can find the time to come visit this magnificent sight and learn more about the rich history of the Hindu community, but learn more about the rich history of the Hindu community right here in Canada, at home. I want to thank you all for inviting me here today. Your holiness, Mahant Swami Maharaj, thank you for joining us here in Canada to celebrate the 10th anniversary, and I know you will continue to enjoy your visit because we are so touched and honoured that you would join us today. Thank you. ... Jai Swaminarayan! [Applause]
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Here's another video of the same event: 10th Anniversary Celebration of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Toronto, ON, Canada, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soZ2VWyvzWY.
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A few screenshot pics from above youtube video are given below. [To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window, and in new tab/window click on pic to zoom in.]








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Ravi: Great to see Canadian PM Trudeau praise multi-ethnic diversity of Canada, and contributions of Hindus and people of Indian origin to Canada.

I recall making a tourist-visit to Toronto in the 80s. I enjoyed that visit and liked the city.

[I thank Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and BAPS Swaminarayan and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above part-transcript of PM Trudeau's speech, and pics from above youtube video, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]