Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dr. K. Anil Kumar's March 2016 (Samarpan) talk about his experiences with Sathya Sai

SAMARPAN # 12: MARCH 2016: Talk by Shri K. Anil Kumar, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdmRkIQeY0s,  around 1 hr 20 mins.

This video is a wonderful and spiritually insightful video about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's ways of loving and guiding Dr. K. Anil Kumar as a young student and later as a faculty member of the Sai university as well as a leader of Veda chanting in Sai Kulwant Hall. The talk is spiritually uplifting as well. Though the video was published in March 2016, I viewed it only today. I came to know of its existence earlier on but had not got around to viewing it.

Many thanks to Dr. (Ph.D. Chemistry) K. Anil Kumar for sharing these wonderful experiences with us.

I have had quite a few interactions with Dr. K. Anil Kumar during my Seva stint at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Sai university. I served there from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012, with Dr. Anil Kumar serving during some years of my stint. The Chemistry lab. was next to the Computer Science Lab where I used to sit. [The Computer Science Lab. was called Artificial Intelligence or AI lab though at the time I served there, I did not know of any AI work being done there; perhaps AI was done prior to my joining DMACS.]

So there were many times when we would come across each other in the Sai university PN (Prasanthi Nilayam) campus. He has given me a ride on his scooter too, a few times, over the short distance between the PN campus of Sai university and the ashram entrance (Ganesh Gate). Anilkumar then was, and still is, very friendly and easy to interact with. Though he had been in Prasanthi Nilayam system for decades by the time I came to know him and interact with him, and was a "form boy" and Vedam leader in Sai Kulwant Hall, he did not show any arrogance in his behaviour towards me. I also found him to be a very genuine, honest and good person. So besides liking him for his friendliness I also respect him for his honesty and goodness as a human being. In my considered view, he (Dr. K. Anil Kumar) is one of the student-staff/alumni gems of Bhagavan's beloved Sai university.

In the above video, I felt that he is speaking with that same honesty and genuineness. I am sure that he is "telling it like it is/was" when he is speaking about his personal experiences with Bhagavan where Bhagavan demonstrated his paranormal powers of knowing about what had happened to him in an accident, about what was going on in his mind, and about his prayers to Bhagavan, and where Bhagavan gives him material-level guidance (e.g. about taking up Chemistry as his specialty subject even though he was uncomfortable then with Chemistry) and spiritual guidance. His analysis of some of these experiences, I think, are his views/opinions and some may agree or disagree with that analysis. But I view the accounts of his interactions with Bhagavan (the basic data, to use more scientific jargon) as truthful from his experience viewpoint WITHOUT EXAGGERATIONS, and I would recommend that readers too view it as truthful WITHOUT EXAGGERATIONS to benefit spiritually from his experiences.

I think this talk of his should be transcribed (to text) by somebody as a Seva activity and then shared freely on the Internet as it would be a valuable addition to textual Sai literature. Note that Anil Kumar spent around three decades in Bhagavan's institutions/physical presence and that his parents too, I believe, were noted devotees of Bhagavan.

I saw Anil Kumar outside Ganesh Gate a few days ago, I think at Bhagavan birthday festival (Nov. 2017) time. I had a quick chat with him and asked him whether he is going to write about his experiences with Swami. [I try to encourage people that I know have had many experiences with Swami to write about their experiences, if they have not done so already, as a contribution to the legacy of Bhagavan and his devotees, which may help future generations (and even current generations) of Sathya Sai devotees to get a better picture of how it was with physical form Bhagavan and his devotees]. He said that he and others in his family plan to do that. It will be great when they do complete that and their writings become available for the Sai fraternity to read. Meanwhile if this talk is transcribed it could serve as something that Sai fraternity can benefit from right away. Note that video watching takes a lot of time. One can read or browse-read transcripts of such talks in much lesser time.

I felt it appropriate to add that Anil Kumar had also shown me the Chemistry lab having sophisticated instruments that he refers to in his talk. And, if I recall correctly, I helped (gave some technical guidance to) a Physics Masters student (I have taught some programming courses to Physics students too) who was writing a computer program to get data from/control one of these instruments (in this Chemistry lab). But that, if I recall correctly, was after Anil Kumar's stint in the Sai university.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Very disappointed to see Sachin Tendulkar share stage with impersonator Madhusudan Rao Naidu

Last updated on 2nd Dec. 2017

Just saw some live stream feed of Muddenahalli group Mumbai (Navi Mumbai) hospital Bhoomi Puja.

My feelings are mixed on this. I am happy about the free medical service to children that this hospital will provide. All the best to Muddenahalli group for that free medical service.

But I was disappointed to see Sachin Tendulkar on stage with Madhusudan Naidu. The Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis, was also on stage. The CM has to support such free medical service projects and he may not have had much exposure to the real physical form Sathya Sai. So I don't have any issues with Maharashtra CM on this. He is just doing his duty as CM.

But Sachin Tendulkar has had direct personal experiences with Sathya Sai. That he chose to be on stage with this impersonator of Sathya Sai - Madhusudan Rao Naidu - who is diluting and distorting Sathya Sai's memories and legacy, and misguiding thousands of Sathya Sai devotees across the globe using the holy name of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is a major disappointment.

I guess now Muddenahalli group will claim Sachin Tendulkar to be a follower of Madhusudan! Sunil Gavaskar was on stage for their Bhagavan birthday function on 23rd Nov. this year (few days ago). So Madhu Baba has netted two cricket superstar icons now as his devotees!

That is a tragedy, in my considered opinion, as it will lead more people to get trapped by Madhu Baba, thinking that this impersonator is Sathya Sai Baba!!!

But then such is life! I guess we should now steel ourselves to see PM Narendra Modi on stage with Madhusudan Rao Naidu, somewhere down the line. BTW the Maharashtra CM is also from the BJP which is the party that Narendra Modi leads in Parliament as the Prime Minister of the country.
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Given below are my comments from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2023367297879837, associated with this post. Readers who would like to read the full exchange to get the proper context of my comments, may please visit the above public Facebook post.

In response to a comment where a person said that she was called "double agent" because she supports PM Modi even though she is critical of Muddenahalli group (but is appreciative of their service activities), I (Ravi) wrote (slightly edited):

Muddenahalli group is known for its aggressive ways while portraying a friendly love all serve all face publicly. I have personally experienced the brutal behaviour of the traitor vice-chancellor Sashidhara Prasad and traitor-collaborators in the Sai university during the horrible period of around a year from Jul 2011 to June 2012 by which time Muddenahalli group completed their HIJACK of Sai university (till Nov. 2014 when Sashidhara Prasad stepped down as VC). They are Asathya-Adharma crooks who will be willing to go to any extent to further their goals. E.g. How Bhaskar Iyer of Melbourne, Australia and Parthi Resident/Venkatesh Babu, who may be the same person or different persons, attacked me viciously on social media by cooking up false allegations against me, earlier this year and succeeded, I have to say, in spoiling relations between me and Mr. V.R. Ganti and also some others. [Readers who want to know more about it may read my (index) post: Misrepresentation and fabrication by Parthi Resident/Venkatesh Babu against me; Beware of Arun Srinivas, alumnus of Muddenahalli school - Part 1, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2017/02/my-facebook-posts-related-to.html, dated 1st February 2017 and last updated 14th Mar. 2017.]

I think this Muddenahalli matter is a test by fire of loyalty towards real Bhagavan Sathya Sai and his teachings. Those who are weak in their loyalty to the true Sathya Sai, get attracted and drawn in by the money power and celebrities and big projects of Muddenahalli group. I saw a Parthi student-staff singer in the Navi Mumbai hospital Bhoomi Puja event! Perhaps he has quit Parthi and joined them recently!
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In response to comment that she was told by a non Muddenahalli group supporter but by a "sai warrior" (Ravi: I think that means a Parthi group supporter who exposes false claims of Muddenahalli group) that she shouldn't support Modi, I wrote:

About PM Modi support. I think we need to stay balanced in this matter and not get fanatical.

Just because Sachin Tendulkar has publicly shown his support to Madhusudan Naidu, I do not view him as my enemy! In my eyes, Sachin Tendulkar continues to be a cricketing great and a man of character who is adored by millions the world over.

But I am very disappointed by him supporting Madhusudan Rao Naidu.

Similarly, if PM Modi shares the stage with Madhusudan Rao Naidu, I will publicly state my disappointment with PM Modi.

But that will not mean that I do not and will not acknowledge the wonderful good work PM Modi has done for the country, and is continuing to do so.

I mean, we can be disappointed with one aspect of a person, but still be very supportive of other aspects of a person.
----

I wrote to the person:

You should NOT become anti Modi only because he supports Muddenahalli group (and if he later endorses Madhusudan Naidu). My view is you should have a nuanced view, where you are critical of PM Modi's support for Madhusudan Naidu (indirect as of now; will become direct if he shares the stage with Madhusudan Naidu) but continue to support him on other aspects.
---

In response to the comment that fight among devotees is not healthy, I wrote:
The Muddenahalli group has created such heartburn and division within Sathya Sai devotees that I now understand why Shia and Sunni groups in Islam have fought each other for centuries. It is a horribly painful thing. But such is life. We have to live with it.
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In response to comment that Sai came to unite all, and that it is not nice if Sai devotees get into divide and rule, I wrote:

Oh yes, it surely is not nice to be divided. But what can you do if they refuse to give up on Madhusudan Naidu chosen communicator claim?
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In response to comment that besides division between Muddenahalli group and Parthi group, now there are divisions within Parthi group persons active on social media (on supporting PM Modi or not because of PM Modi's support for Muddenahalli group), I wrote:

About the divisions between Parthi supporters on social media: Well, I got targeted due to my stand that I am appreciative of Muddenahalli group social service activities. It was not a discussion. It was more of: either you are with us or against us. And a group of people tried to gang up on me and criticize me together on social media. I have experienced enough of life, including groupism in Parthi even when Bhagavan was in physical form, to understand that they were ganging up on me. I backed out of the conversation that I was having with them, unfriended one or two persons, and stopped following a couple of persons.

So my posts now get significantly lesser number of likes or shares than earlier. That's fine. I have to be true to my beliefs and approaches. I may be wrong in some but I will acknowledge that I am wrong only when I am convinced by it. I will not change my stand because a group of people gang up on me. I have to say here that I chose to terminate my association with the Sai university in March 2012 when I saw that its vice-chancellor, its registrar and its director of Prasanthi Nilayam campus all had taken to Asathya-Adharma and were supporting Narasimhamurthy's dream-instruction claims.

Rabindranath Tagore has a famous poem/song 'Ekla Chalo Re' which, if I recall correctly, says that if the world does not walk with you but you are clear that your beliefs and approaches are right, then one should walk alone. [Readers may want to see my post: During testing times, truth-lovers sometimes have to walk alone; Tagore's Ekla Chalo Re, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2017/07/during-testing-times-truth-lovers.html, dated 15th July 2017.] I subscribe to that approach and have practised it many times in life, including in this Muddenahalli group divisive matter. But it is a lonely path and has its challenges.

So I think this is a test for you - stay with the group or stay committed to what you truly believe. It is a tough test. I wish you all the best.
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[The person responded to above comment by Facebook-Loving it and wrote that it is the same with her and that she acts according to her conscience. I Facebook-Loved this comment of hers.]
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Sairam --name-snipped-- sir! Yes, Bhagavan has re-emphasized the teachings of Hindu scripture that "Isvara Sarva Bhutanaam". Hindu scripture teaches us that all of creation is a projection of God. So there is nowhere without God. Bhagawan also re-emphasized "Mano moolam idam Jagat" teaching.

But as the Avatar Bhagawan also taught us that he does not use mediums and communicators to interact with us, and that if anybody makes such claims we should drive that person out of our sangham. He taught us that as the Avatar of the age his relation with his devotees is one-to-one and direct.
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--Name-snipped--, can you please provide public quotes of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev accepting Madhusudan Rao Naidu as the chosen communicator of so-called subtle body? Regarding Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar, I think they have been misguided by people like Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy and Shri C. Srinivas into sharing stage with Madhusudan Naidu giving the impression that they believe his claims of chosen communicator. BTW if you have public statements of Sachin Tendulkar or Sunil Gavaskar stating that they believe in the chosen communicator claim of Madhusudan Rao Naidu, could you please provide references for them? Thanks.
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--Name-snipped--, I think you have made some statements related to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and so called subtle body (who uses chosen communicator Madhusudan Rao Naidu) rather casually. I find it hard to believe that Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev would endorse Madhusudan Rao Naidu's claim. So I asked you for evidence to back your statement.

That Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar have willingly shared the stage with Madhusudan Naidu is a FACT. But whether they have publicly acknowledged Madhusudan Naidu's chosen communicator claim is another matter. Perhaps they support the social service being done by Muddenahalli group and so are willing to share the stage with Madhusudan Naidu and Shri B.N. Narasimha Murthy and Shri C. Srinivas. Perhaps they are not willing to accept Madhusudan Naidu's chosen communicator claim and so are not making any public statement acknowledging their belief.

About the service activities done by Muddenahalli group, it certainly is quite a feat. However, there are much larger philanthropic institutions in the world. Philanthropy and service activities can happen with determination and hard work with or without faith in God. Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation service activities are on a much larger scale that Muddenahalli group but they don't claim to be chosen communicators of God because of the scale of their service activities.

Even if the Madhu Baba drama is stopped by Muddenahalli group, I think the service activities of Muddenahalli group will continue provided the leaders and workers continue to have determination, work hard and have faith in Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
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Egypt and Pakistan Islamic Sufi shrine attacks in 2017 that killed hundreds show horrific level of religious violence from some Islamic extremist group(s)

Last updated on 27th Nov. 2017

An extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Sinai_attack:

On 24 November 2017, in North Sinai Governorate, Egypt, near Bir al-Abed, the al-Rawda mosque, known as the birthplace of the founder of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula, was attacked by around forty gunmen during Friday prayers. The gun and bomb attack killed more than 305 people and injured more than 120, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in Egyptian history.

--- end wiki extract ---

An extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Sehwan_suicide_bombing :

On 16 February 2017, a suicide bombing took place inside the Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Pakistan, where pilgrims were performing a Sufi ritual after the evening prayers. At least 90 people were killed and over 300 injured.

--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: I pray to Allah/Almighty God to shower His Grace on all those who lost their lives in the above 2017 attacks on Sufi shrines in Pakistan and Egypt. I also pray to Allah/Almighty God to give strength and courage to those injured and to the family and friends of the victims of the above attacks.

This article: To the World, They Are Muslims. To ISIS, Sufis Are Heretics., https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/world/middleeast/sufi-muslims-isis-sinai.html, 25th Nov. 2017, is about the above two attacks and the Islamic extremist views that led to these attacks on Islamic Sufi followers.

It states that these Islamic extremist group(s) view the "act of praying to a saint and worshiping at their tomb" as "shirk" or polytheism which goes against their view of Islam.

It quotes a scholar (academic, I guess) of Islam, Jacob Olidort, as saying, "What they take the Sufis to task principally for is the intercession, the use (of) other media, to access God, rather than going directly."

It quotes another (academic) scholar of Islam, Alexander Knysh, as saying, "They believe Sufi shrines are the most egregious expression of that shirk".."You are turning to a mediator, who is inserting himself between the believer and God, and in this way it becomes a kind of idol."

Ravi: I am a follower and worshiper of Shirdi Sai Baba, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi, the nineteenth and early twentieth century mystic, who wore the dress of a Muslim fakir and would frequently say, "Allah Maalik" (God is the master/owner). Some view Shirdi Sai Baba as a Sufi saint. Shirdi Sai Baba encouraged both Muslim and Hindu traditions of religious practice, and had staunch Muslim and Hindu followers.

I pray to Allah/Almighty God to protect worshipers of Islamic Sufi saints and protect Islamic Sufi shrines across the world from such horrible attacks on them.
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Some additional thoughts of mine on why this topic is such that even atheists and agnostics should not ignore it:
My Internet based study of religion in the world today shows me that without a shadow of a doubt, religion will continue to play a major role in the lives of the majority of the world's population in the foreseeable future.

So for even people of no faith (atheists and agnostics), it may be useful to have an understanding of contemporary religious beliefs and practices, as unless they choose to live a very secluded life among a community of people of no faith, they will encounter and have to live with people of faith. Further, it may be very useful to them to be able to distinguish between bad and dangerous religious groups like Islamic extremist groups who practice horrendous violence against those that do not follow their beliefs and practices, and good and peace-loving religious groups like Islamic Sufis who come from both Sunni and Shia Islamic traditions.
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A related recent Indian mainstream newspaper article: Who are Sufi Muslims and why do some extremists hate them, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/who-are-sufi-muslims-and-why-do-some-extremists-hate-them/articleshow/61793688.cms, 25th Nov. 2017
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Some more thoughts of mine on this matter:

I think violence against people of other faiths simply because they are of another faith is an unambiguous mark of a bad and dangerous faith.

I think that faiths that practice at least some level of love and kindness towards all people irrespective of their faith, show a tolerance towards peaceful beliefs that are radically different from theirs, and are peace-loving who use violence (against other people) only in self-defense can be viewed as not harmful to society faiths.

Whether a faith is good or not, is a trickier topic. Some may hold the view that the importance faiths give to divine revelations and to non-critical belief in those revelations, cannot be viewed as good. But, in general, I think that faiths that lead their followers to serve the less fortunate in society in a humble and loving manner, for free or very affordable cost, can be viewed as good for society faiths.
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About holy books of various religions being viewed as inerrant (always correct) and so the problems that come up as some views in holy books are inconsistent with morality as well as laws of early 21st century world today in non-theocratic and democratic states like USA, countries of Western Europe and India:

The holy books are revered, yes. But it is not as if the majority of the believers try to follow all aspects of teachings in their holy books as divine law that they should always follow. I mean, there is a reality of the law of the land and punishment including imprisonment for disobeying the law of the land.

In India, I think I can say with a lot of confidence that the vast majority of believers of various religions do revere their holy books but that reverence DOES NOT translate into following the injunctions of the holy books that go against the law of the land. I mean, they have a healthy fear of the police and of prison.

In the practice of most, if not all, religions in India, I think that common sense morality plays a vital role in highlighting similar (to common sense morality) injunctions in their holy books which the faithful are exhorted to follow, and a suppression of injunctions in their holy books which are illegal in India and/or are grossly unethical in early 21st century India. Now there surely would be a few exceptions of people who make efforts to literally interpret their holy books and are even willing to do stuff that is illegal and grossly unethical in India today because their holy books literally tell them to do that. But I think they are a small minority.

I have a limited idea of how religion may be in the USA. But I am quite sure that all the living presidents of the USA - Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barrack Obama and Donald Trump - all of whom are Christians, DO NOT devoutly believe that all Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Jains, Sikhs and atheists as well as Christians from denominations different from theirs (e.g. Catholics), will burn in hell forever! BTW I read/viewed something recently that said that George W. Bush's daughter (one of his daughters I guess) converted to Islam. 
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I think there is certainly some level of untrue dogma (authoritative beliefs/principles of a religion/sect believed to be true by the faithful of that religion/sect) among most believers including Hindus but I would say that some of these untrue dogmas are approximations of a higher truth which they and/or Hindus of past ages, cannot/could not understand, and so it is made into a simpler but inaccurate and sometimes untrue dogmatic principle/belief.
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About the view that the ways of God are mysterious:

That's one of the illogical ways religious people come to terms with hard-to-swallow things that happen to them and people they know. It has its therapeutic effect I think as it helps people to cope. And their continuing faith gives them the hope and will to continue with their lives instead of simply giving up on life. I have seen that in India innumerable times. Without faith most of the billion plus Indians will simply not be able to cope with the challenges of living in India. This has to be understood at an emotional and real-life psychological level and not just an intellectual level.
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[I thank wikipedia and nytimes.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts (wikipedia) and short quotes (nytimes.com) from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Dalai Lama in Aug 2017: "It is only in India that all the major religious traditions exist side by side."


Above pic is of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Pic courtesy: http://resources.tsemtulku.com/free-downloads/his-holiness-dala-lama.html.

[To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]

The article: War unlikely between India and China, says Dalai Lama, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/war-unlikely-between-india-and-china-says-dalai-lama/article19459137.ece, 9th Aug. 2017, has some interesting quotes of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, about flourishing religious pluralism (multi-faith environment) in India.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying in a public event in August 2017, "Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation for the welfare of Tibetans in exile in India. It is only in India that all the major religious traditions exist side by side. Sometimes problem takes place, not unusual as so many varieties of traditions live here. But it is here alone that all live in full freedom".

Ravi: I think the freedom mentioned above by Dalai Lama is freedom of religious belief and practice (religious freedom). Note that he does acknowledge that problems do take place sometimes in India. But he adds that that is not unusual as people of so many religious traditions live in India.

My reading of that is that Dalai Lama implies that it is not as if India is a nation free from religious violence. But the incidents of religious violence and religious intolerance, when looked at the overall picture of 1.25 billion people of India and the large number of religions and sects that flourish in India, are relatively minor. Note that I expect religious traditions and sects in India to follow the laws of India. In particular, I do not view objection and resistance to illegal in India practices of any religious tradition or sect as religious intolerance.

Another point to note is that religious freedom in India includes the freedom of having no belief/faith in any religion. In other words, Indian law permits anybody in India to be an atheist or an agnostic. I fully support this aspect of Indian law.

As an Indian citizen, a multi-faith person whose core religious identity is that of a Hindu but who loves and reveres religious figures of many other religious traditions as well like Buddha and Jesus Christ, and a staunch supporter of freedom of religion, I feel that even that relatively minor level of religious violence and religious intolerance should not be there in India. We are not there yet but let us hope that we will get closer and closer to that goal in future.

[I thank wikipedia and tsemtulku.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts and pic (pic from tsemtulku.com) from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Archbishop of Gandhinagar, Gujarat must legally pursue his allegations of attacks on churches and Christians in Gujarat OR withdraw them

Shri Rajiv Malhotra's recent Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/RajivMalhotra.Official/photos/a.137731093046903.31225.137726233047389/954122378074433/, shares the Archbishop of Gandhinagar diocese in Gujarat letter shown below with Rajiv Malhotra commenting that as the Archbishop is taking sides in the Gujarat state elections, his church should be reclassified as a foreign political institution and not be given special treatment as a religious institution.



[To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]

I made the following comment in my Facebook share of the above post:

I would not go so far as Rajiv Malhotra.

But I think the Archbishop of Gandhinagar, Gujarat should provide details of such incidents of "attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions" in Gujarat. As the Archbishop he should ideally have played a role in police complaints being made for such incidents. So he should put out a report giving details of when such complaints were made and how the police reacted unsatisfactorily when such complaints were made.

Once that is done, I think the media should do a follow up on the matter and in an unbiased way, provide reporting on it. If respected media outlets support the claim of the Archbishop based on their media investigations of the matter, then I would support an effort to involve the Indian courts of law in the matter to ensure protection to Christians in Gujarat as per Indian law.

But, on the other hand, if the media reports and police reports indicate that that Archbishop's views are not based on fact and that he is sensationalizing the matter for some ulterior motives, then I think the Archbishop should be asked to either withdraw his allegations OR go to Gujarat High Court to prove his allegations (if the Archbishop claims that the media and police are biased against him). I mean, the Archbishop should not be allowed to play games of making such allegations against the Gujarat state government if he is not willing to prove his case in an Indian court of law.

As an Indian citizen and a social media writer, I fully support the right of Indian Christians to practice their faith peacefully and without fear, so long as they abide by the law of the land. And my considered view is that the Indian union/federal govt. led by PM Narendra Modi also holds the same view.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu's speech at Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi on 22-Nov-2017

Hon'ble Vice-President of India's tweet yesterday linking to his speech in Prashanti Nilayam (Puttaparthi): https://twitter.com/VPSecretariat/status/933359021553152000, "Press Release: Selfless service to humanity was the essence of devotion: Vice President  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=173763".


Above pic courtesy: https://twitter.com/VPSecretariat/status/933290426915635201
[To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]

I have given below the contents of his speech from the link in the above tweet: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=173763.

[Ravi: It is from:]
Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Vice President's Secretariat

22-November-2017 20:53 IST

[Ravi: The actual Vice-President of India speech contents are given below after a short description.]

Selfless service to humanity was the essence of devotion: Vice President 

Inaugurates 92nd Birthday Celebrations of Sri Satya Sai Baba 

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that Selfless service to humanity was the essence of devotion. He was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the 92nd Birthday Celebrations of Sri Satya Sai Baba, in Prashanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh today.

The Vice President said that Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a Loving God to His devotees, a universal teacher and humanitarian to others, inspired millions of people across the globe to actively participate in service of humanity. He further said that his teachings emphasize truth, love, peace, right conduct, and non-violence. The service activities of Sri Sathya Sai Baba's organisations  that have worked in the national spirit are truly commendable, he added.

The Vice President said that the clarion call of Sri Sathya Sai Baba motivated devotees across the world to form service organisations in about 125 countries to serve the under privileged and needy. He further said that the Trust under the divine guidance of Sri Satya Baba has provided clean drinking water to over a million people in about 700 villages in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. Such drinking water supply water projects were provided in East Godavari and West Godavari Districts of Andhra Pradesh and Medak and Mahabubnagar Districts of Telangana, he added.

The Vice President said that the service activities in the fields of Education, Health Care, Providing Safe Drinking Water and other free services undertaken by Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust under the guidance of Sri Sathya Sai Baba have been having great impact on the society in India and humanity worldwide.

The Vice President said that Sri Satya Sai Baba’s principal message was love and he was the embodiment of selfless love and his life was a saga of selfless love for the humanity. Baba served all humanity irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion and he propagated and practiced Unity of all Faiths symbolized, he added.

Following is the text of Vice President's address:

"I am extremely fortunate to be with all of you on the eve of the 92nd birth anniversary of SriSatya Sai Baba and the launch of the archives today.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a Loving God to His devotees, a universal teacher and humanitarian to others, inspired millions of people across the globe to actively participate in service of humanity.

He was a great transformational leader. He transformed the physical landscape here at Puttapathi. A small village has become a vibrant global spiritual retreat. He transformed the villagers’ lives through the provision of drinking water. He transformed and demonstrated how values can be inculcated through education and how healthcare can be delivered to the poor. He established hospitals and educational institutions which are rendering services and imparting education completely free of charge.

His teachings emphasize truth, love, peace, right conduct, and non-violence. The service activities of Sri Sathya Sai Baba's organisations that have worked in the national spirit are truly commendable. It is heartening to note that the clarion call of Sri Sathya Sai Baba motivated devotees across the world to form service organisations in about 125 countries to serve the under privileged and needy.

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust was set up by Him in 1972 with the objectives of extending relief to the poor, including education and healthcare and any other objects of general public utility without any discrimination of caste, creed, or religion.

Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust is a Public Charitable Trust and not a religious Trust. It currently operates:

two Super Specialty hospitals,
two General Hospitals and
two Mobile Hospitals
a four-campus deemed university described by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) as a crest jewel of the Indian university education system;
two residential schools with Classes I to XII

The Trust under the divine guidance of Sri Satya Baba has provided clean drinking water to over a million people in about 700 villages in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh.

Such drinking water supply water projects were provided in East Godavari and West Godavari Districts of Andhra Pradesh and Medak and Mahabubnagar Districts of Telangana.

A project to modernize Kandaleru reservoir in Andhra Pradesh and the canal from Kandeleru to Poondi reservoir in Tamil Nadu was taken up in order to provide drinking water supply to the city of Chennai.

The service activities in the fields of Education, Health Care, Providing Safe Drinking Water and other free services undertaken by Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust under the guidance of Sri Sathya Sai Baba have been having great impact on the society in India and humanity worldwide. Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust has been carrying on the service activities, which were started by Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the same spirit with which they were initiated.

Sri Satya Sai Baba’s principal message is love. He is the embodiment of selfless love and His life is a saga of selfless love for the humanity. Baba served all humanity irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion. Sri Satya Sai Baba propagated and practiced Unity of all Faiths symbolized by His statement:

There is only one religion; the religion of Love
There is only one language; the language of the Heart
There is only caste; the caste of Humanity
There is only one Law; the Law of Duty
There is only one God, He is Omnipresent.

Baba always exhorted people to do selfless service.  He says, “Hands that help are holier than the lips that pray”.

In fact, this is in the grand Indian tradition of seeing every human being as divine and therefore, serving human beings is taken as service to God.

I am pleased to note that Sri Sathya Sai Seva organisation which plays a key role in many service activities undertaken by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust is spread through the length and breadth of India having very active units in all the states of the country. I am impressed by the fact that there are 14,700 Balvikas centres where in nearly 300,000 children are given orientation in Indian culture and taught Human values.

The universal message of Sri Sathya Sai is being spread across the globe in 125 countries by the Sri Sathya Sai International Organisation.

After the Mahasamadhi of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 2011, the Trust has continued its public welfare works with the same spirit of service.

I am delighted that the Trust completed a project for supply of drinking water to another 118 villages in Anantapur district, constructed 300 more houses to flood affected people of Orissa and participated in the disaster relief operations of Hudhud Cyclone and in the Chennai cyclones.

About 100 Sri Sathya Sai Schools in the country, set up by devotees, are being provided with financial assistance to improve their infrastructure like buildings, furniture and computer facilities to improve the quality of   education.

The divine inspiration provided by Sri Sathya Sai Baba continues to drive the Trust’s new initiatives.

Among the recent additions is a new building in Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, PrasanthiNilayam, modernization of both the Super specialty Hospitals, advanced Research Centre of Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, 2nd Mobile hospital in Chennai, a new women’s' college building and a school building in Dharwad, Karnataka and construction of new buildings at Sathya Sai Baba School, Mysuru.

I am extremely happy to inaugurate the Archives today.

In His lifetime, Sri Sathya Sai Baba had written several books, addressed devotees in thousands of forums, written letters and messages to people of all walks of life.

Many of these teachings and messages are available in different formats, both audio and visual. The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust has collected these and has preserved them for posterity so that they would be available for seekers of knowledge in the years to come. There is a veritable treasure house of 7000 manuscripts, 9000 audio spools, 5,50,000 feet of films, 5000 CD / DVDs, 10,000 Video tapes of about 18,000 hours and 1, 50,000 photos. These can be used by researchers and those who wish to study the message of this great sage.

A state of the art Archives centre has been established as per International standards in Prasanthi  Nilayam for this purpose. The Archives centre which is one of its kind in the country is built on multiple levels with custom designed special vaults. The building has inner and outer shells, sterile corridors, illumination at 300 lux , high levels of dust control and robust security systems. I am told that this system can ensure preservation of the archived material for hundreds of years.

These items have been digitized and kept in the Archival building. This would facilitate content access in electronic form and help disseminate the message of Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Sri Satya Sai Baba was a great spiritual leader who distilled the essence of Indian philosophical heritage and conveyed it in a very simple but effective way to the masses.

As the great sage Narada describes a divine person: Sa tarati lokaanstaarayati (He not only navigates the ocean of life but also helps all others to cross this ocean).

He used to address his devotees as “paramatma swarupullara” (embodiments of divinity). With this perspective, he said, “If you lift the hand to serve, to help, to console, to encourage another man you are lifting it for God, because in every man is God.” He had also said, “Service is worship. Each act of service is a flower placed at the feet of God.”

For Him, Selfless service to humanity was the essence of devotion. This echoes the conception of devotion that Narada gives us in his Bhakti Sutras:  “Saa parama prema roopa”. This unconditional, sublime love can transform human beings into devoted souls serving God through service to humanity.

That is the grand ideal set by Sri Satya Sai Baba before us and demonstrated through his speech and actions that this is really possible. It is the same spirit and the eternal flame he has kindled that is making our lives more meaningful.

I invoke Baba’s gracious blessings on the Trust and all of us around the world so that we can lead fulfilled lives. May we follow the path of Satya, Dharma, Prema, Shanthi that he has shown us.

May we commit ourselves to work, as Sri Satya Sai guided us, for the progress of humanity,  with love, compassion, right conduct and truthfulness.

Jai Hind!"

[I thank Hon'ble Vice-President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu and have presumed that he will not have any objections to me sharing the above transcript of his speech on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Some Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba birthday Facebook post contents

Given below are some Facebook posts that I shared on Facebook a little while back today on the occasion of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's birthday today, Nov. 23rd.

https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2021018128114754 shares a birthday songs video whose fuller version seems to be available on youtube here: SWAMI BIRTHDAY SONG, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5WYJwC-Wg, 9 min 51 secs, published by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation Maharashtra Goa on 8th Nov. 2013.

Here's the comment I (Ravi) put on the above Facebook post:
Thoroughly enjoyed it and feel blessed as I am filled with memories of seeing these events live in Sai Kulwant Hall. Thanks for sharing. Jai Sairam! (Around 9 minute video).
--- end comment ---

Ravi: I think all the video clips in the video are from the period I was blessed to offer free service in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system from Oct. 2002 till sometime after Mahasamadhi of Bhagavan in April 2011. So I am able to relate to them very well. I see many people in it who were my colleagues in the ashram system and also a few who were my students in the Sai university.

Now we are left only with memories of that extraordinary physical presence of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (physical form). [I exclude the rare cases of those who claim to have visions/visitations of Bhagavan in that physical form after Mahasamadhi.] So these videos shared freely on the Internet are a vital resource in keeping those memories of Bhagavan fresh in our minds.

What a powerful and magnetic spiritual presence Bhagavan had! It is now when I cannot experience at physical form level, that powerful and magnetic spiritual presence of Bhagavan that I truly understand how valuable it was to me and how much I miss it (presence) today.
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"Our Conscience knows the Real source of the Joy. It will proceed towards the right Path. You have to take it as a Guide and not disobey it".-- Baba

Pic and text (slightly edited) above courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1426944660756785&set=gm.1140296892768027.
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"Man will realize his mission on earth when he knows himself as divine and reveres others as divine."

Above text and pic courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/223054021158990/permalink/1140671772730539/.
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Loving Sai Ram

Happy 92nd birthday of Kali Awatar our beloved Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

[Ravi: The words below seem to be quotes of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.]

"Of what use is it to honour the Avatar and hold the day when the Avatar took human form as sacred? The Message of the Avatar must be born, must become alive, must grow in you, your heart-that is the Birthday, you have to celebrate. Celebrate the Birthday in your own village. You need not travel long distances to where I physically am! Plant the seeds of Love in your hearts. Jet them grow into trees of Service and shower the sweet fruit of Ananda. Share the Ananda with all. That is the proper way to celebrate the Birthday."

"The day when you resolve to practise My advice; to follow my directives, to translate My message into acts of service, and to engage in spiritual discipline-that day is My birthday for you. The 23rd of November which you now honor as the day on which I was born, is only like any other day, even if you celebrate it in a routine, ritual fashion. Adore man: the adoration reaches Me. Neglect man; you neglect Me. Of what avail is it to worship the Lord and to suppress man, His counterpart on earth? Love for God must be manifested as Love for man, and Love must express itself as service."

"Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu (Let all beings in all the worlds be happy). Include this universal prayer in your prayers every day. This is my birthday message to you."

"Embodiments of Love! Do not pay attention to the day when the body was born and fulfil selfish ends by celebrating the event pompously. The day when you manifest pure feelings in your hearts, plant firm faith in the Divine Principle in your thoughts and cultivate unselfish enthusiasm to serve others, that day deserves to be celebrated as the Real Birthday. Seva can give you the experience of the Omnipresence of God, God as Vishnu."

"There's none in the world who has been able to see Me. They are seeing every thing and they are trying to understand everything, but they are not making the slightest attempt to understand what is divinity, which is present within them. When we talk of God we should know that God has no birth. Birth is only for the body. A body which is born has to die but God is above birth and death. He has no beginning, no middle and no end. He is neither born nor can He be destroyed. He is present everywhere in the form of Atma."

"I must ask you to give me as a birthday offering only one thing - reduce your selfishness; abate your wrong desires. Foster your spirit of sacrifice and become noble human beings. The Avatar (Divine incarnation) comes to save mankind out of His Love and Compassion. He comes down to the level of man and arouses the Divine Consciousness in him. In order to enable you to reach the highest goal of merging with the Absolute, this chance has been granted to you as a reward for merit acquired in many previous lives."

Above text courtesy (slightly edited): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1411772675602267&set=a.144702552309292.28109.100003086447165.
----------------------

Happy Birthday To Our Dearest Sai Maa

There is no distance between you and me. I am as close to you as you are to yourself. -Baba

Above pic and text courtesy (slightly edited): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1978542959074441&set=a.1708478099414263.1073741826.100007562672288
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Monday, November 20, 2017

How should we social media writers about Sathya Sai Baba deal with queries based on Western media promoted negative allegations of the past?

Note: This post is based on my part of a recent social media conversation elsewhere. Readers who prefer not to read about such disturbing matters may please skip reading rest of this post.

This is a tough thing to face for us people who write about the wonderful, holy and good things that Baba (Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) has done for millions of people so far, and, I am sure, will do wonderful, holy and good things for millions of people over centuries and millennia to come. I really mean the latter part of the sentence. I have ZERO DOUBT about that happening.

But the reality is that a couple of major Western media channels have disseminated these negative allegations about Baba. And many people who see such material believe those allegations without making significant effort to see whether those allegations are true, and without trying to know about the enormous good that Baba has done, and which continues to be done to this day.

A good friend of mine from my first software company (in Mumbai) days, who has been settled in the USA for past few decades, visited me in Puttaparthi a few years before Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi. It was a day trip from Bangalore, where his in-laws are based I believe, just to see me. He told me that he did NOT want to go to the mandir and have darshan of Bhagavan! I understood that he was under the sway of some Western media negative portrayal of Baba. Those days I was not much into social media or writing publicly about Baba. Further, the norm we followed then was to avoid getting into discussions and arguments on these sensitive matters. So my friend and I did not discuss the topic.

Instead we enjoyed each other's company after so many years, chatted about the good old days we had and talked about friends and family. My friend clicked a few snaps, and then in the evening I saw him off to Bangalore on the Volvo bus from Puttaparthi bus stand. He did not step into the mandir and did not have the good fortune of darshan of Bhagavan! BTW he is not an atheist and visits some temple in the USA regularly.

I think it was in September 2013 that I, as a social media writer, had to face my first Baba Western media promoted negative allegations problem. I think it will be appropriate to provide some background to this.

Over the course of many months prior to Sept. 2013, I had extensively corresponded with Prof. Erlendur Haraldsson on his update to his book on Baba. His earlier editions of his Sai Baba book (Modern Miracles: An Investigative Report on These Psychic Phenomena Associated With Sathya Sai Baba, published in 1997 and (one which I had read)  'Miracles Are My Visiting Cards'. An Investigative Report on the Psychic Phenomena Associated with Sathya Sai Baba, published in 1987) were well known and even recommended reading for Sai Baba devotees.

So I enthusiastically helped him in providing him information for his updated edition. I also told him who were the new bosses in the ashram system and helped put him in touch with the ashram media co-ordinater then. He even visited Puttaparthi in 2013, meeting the media co-ordinator as well as some other administrator type persons. I also had a dinner meeting with him, his colleague and the book's London based publisher in Sai Towers in Puttaparthi. Haraldsson even sought my suggestions for the title of the updated book and included some thoughts/views of mine in the book anonymously (as I preferred to be anonymous then). The new/updated book title is "Modern Miracles: The Story of Sathya Sai Baba: A Modern Day Prophet" published in 2013. I think I had suggested using Avatar in the title which he was not willing to go with. He asked me then about Prophet and I felt that considering that he was not willing to use the word Avatar, Prophet was a reasonable second-choice word.

The updated book was released in July 2013. I had already let people know on my mailing list (at that time I was more into mailing list communication with some known people rather than Facebook) about the upcoming book. I thought it would be a wonderful Seva activity for me to promote this (updated) book thereby giving a much-needed boost then to Sathya Sai fraternity. I created a new blog, ravisiyer.blogspot.com, which has now become my main spiritual blog related to spirituality and religion and Sai Baba matters. My first post on that blog was about this book: Prof. Haraldsson's book, "Modern Miracles: The Story of Sathya Sai Baba: A Modern Day Prophet", Released, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2013/08/prof-haraldssons-book-modern-miracles.html, post dated 19th Aug. 2013.

[Prior to this (Aug 2013), from Sept. 2011 onwards my main and first spiritual blog was https://iami1.wordpress.com which is a humble exploration of and views on the God & Science conversation (done after August 2011), and little more. When teachings of religions or miracles mentioned in Holy Scripture are referred, as far as I recall, no mention is made of any contemporary or near-contemporary religious leader/founder – the attempt is to emphasize spiritual teachings/paths/philosophy/knowledge which may be viewed as universal though the Hindu way of expressing them is used. It must also be mentioned that a few posts are specific to Hinduism.

So this first spiritual blog of mine DID NOT make any significant reference to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. That, I felt, would allow even Sathya Sai critics and non-believers in Sathya Sai (like my friend mentioned above who visited me from the USA) to read the spirituality related views there without their bias against Sathya Sai interfering with their understanding of the views expressed there.]

Back to Haraldsson's book. Later, in the same month of Aug. 2013 he sent me an ebook version of the book which I planned to make detailed notes about on my blog (Haraldsson permitted me to put up these notes publicly). And then, the plans was to, put up a review of it on my blog and Amazon (Haraldsson requested me to put up a review on Amazon).

What a shock was in store for me! Haraldsson had a new chapter called "The Western Critics" devoted to Western media promoted negative allegations against Baba! I freaked out! Haraldsson had not given any hint whatsoever that he was going to include such a chapter. If I had known about it, I would have COMPLETELY STOPPED corresponding/interacting with him on his book update and would have WARNED ashram media-coordinator and some others in the ashram about it.

I was also scared now. I had quit the Sai university in March 2012 and was not visiting Sai Kulwant Hall, but I still had interactions with ashram people over email and when I bumped into them in outside ashram streets in Puttaparthi. Would I be suspected by them of having known about this matter (Western Critics chapter) at the time I had told them about Haraldsson updating the book and visiting the ashram in that regard? I got into a panic mode! Really!

I informed the media-coordinator and some other ashram people on my mailing list then about this Western Critics chapter with the Western media promoted negative allegations about Baba. I think I would have made it clear to them that I had no idea that Haraldsson was planning to include them. I also wrote a strong condemnation of that chapter in my review. I have reproduced that part of my review below:

[Cautionary Note: Chapter 32, The Western Critics, has unproven and malicious allegations regarding Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Western TV media documentary/programme is referenced by Haraldsson in this chapter for these unproven and malicious allegations. But Haraldsson has omitted to mention that a major figure of this documentary had his lawsuit on the matter in a US court of law, self-dismissed and with prejudice (which means that he cannot file a lawsuit on the same matter in any other court in the USA)!

In my humble opinion, most powerful Western media outlets have a strong bias against Sri Sathya Sai Baba and perhaps had (and may continue to have) profit, and possibly other, motives in widely publicising sensationalist negative allegations about him. In the coverage they have given of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in my humble opinion, the Western media outlets certainly do not come across as unbiased and balanced reporters of facts.

Some Sathya Sai devotees who saw and read these widely publicised Western media unproven and malicious allegations seem to have come to believe them to be true. In Chapter 32, Prof. Haraldsson mentions a few such Western Sathya Sai devotees. Prof. Haraldsson himself seems to have come under the sway of such negative propaganda and has given his opinion on the matter seemingly based on a Western media channel's documentary and taking shelter in the word "may", which I find to be very objectionable and highly irresponsible for an academic researcher of Prof. Haraldsson's stature. I strongly condemn this statement of Prof. Haraldsson in this chapter.

In my opinion, Chapter 32, The Western Critics, of this book does not contribute in any way to the investigation of the paranormal phenomena associated with Sai Baba. So I have completely ignored it for this review. I suggest to readers that they treat Chapter 32, The Western Critics, as the effect of powerful Western media negative publicity about Sai Baba on Prof. Haraldsson as well as some Western Sathya Sai "devotees" he mentions in it. I further suggest to readers to either skip reading Chapter 32 or read it without coming under the sway of such negativity like Prof. Haraldsson seems to have come under.]

---- end book review extract ---

Slowly I was able to come out of my panic mode. I think my above condemnation and track record of free service of over a decade then in Puttaparthi where I had never ever co-operated with any such Baba criticism matters, would have convinced ashram people including the media-coordinator that I was innocent in this matter and that Haraldsson had not told me that he was going to include these allegations in his book.

What a lesson that was to me about such super-sensitive matters! All my plans of promoting the book vanished into thin air! How could I recommend the book to Sathya Sai devotees to read! The rest of the book was largely positive about Baba but this chapter made the book a NO-NO as a book for me to recommend to Sai devotees and non-devotees who want to know about Sai Baba. My rather extensive efforts to help Haraldsson in this updated/new book which I thought will help boost Sathya Sai fraternity then, was a waste, from the point of view of my earlier plan to promote the book in the Sathya Sai fraternity.

Haraldsson later informed me that the new edition book sales is not so good. I was not surprised. A few days back I saw Haraldsson's older edition book (without Western Critics kind of chapter/material) in Sai Towers bookshop display window. So, as far as Sai devotees are concerned, Haraldsson's newer update is a NO-NO and we should read older editions of his book! Note that he is the most noted parapsychology scientist who has studied and written about Baba. And so his work is a noted contribution to Sai Baba literature. But we have to use his older edition. And, I repeat, all my (free service) hard work of months of helping him to update his newer edition book, was wasted, as far as general Sai fraternity is concerned.

Here is my Notes blog post: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2013/08/notes-on-prof-haraldssons-modern.html and here's the review: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2013/09/review-of-modern-miracles-story-of.html (almost same review is on amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Miracles-Story-Sathya-Prophet/product-reviews/190873325X).
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Well, Haraldsson not telling me beforehand about his Western Critics chapter, is a complex issue. Haraldsson was publicly (verbally) attacked by a few fellow academics who are anti-Sai people for NOT having publicly said anything about these Western allegations against Baba. I think they attacked him saying that he is giving a biased (positive) account of Baba which is leading to more people following Baba.

His earlier edition was in 1997. I think it was the BBC video released sometime in 2004 (so after the 1997 book) that got widely viewed in the West. So I think that in 2013, nearly a decade after the widely viewed in the West BBC video, Haraldsson may have felt obliged, scientific and academic integrity wise, to reference this video and mention the Western allegations. Also note that his publisher of the 2013 book was based in London. Perhaps Haraldsson may have even been told by his top academic administrators (vice-chancellor/president of his university) and/or his publisher to do so, in the interest of scientific, academic and/or publishing house fairness of presentation.

At that time in 2013 these aspects did not strike me. As his earlier editions had no mention of such stuff, I simply presumed perhaps rather naively, that his 2013 update edition would also ignore it.

Did Haraldsson betray my trust? Well, I cannot say that. I had not asked him whether his book is going to contain such material. He had simply not informed me.

Was Haraldsson being unethical in not informing me that he would be including such material in his book? I think here the answer is YES. If I was in his place, I would surely have intimated the person helping me that the book is going to have such stuff and so if the person does not want to help me, that's fine by me.

But then Haraldsson is a scientific investigator. Will investigators (including media reporters both Western and Indian) be so polite and concerned about well being of the people and institution they are investigating? I am afraid the truth is that investigators are not that way as otherwise they may not be very successful as investigators. I have also noted a streak of ruthlessness in accomplished scientists when it comes to what they view as the truth. I think they consider publishing their view of what the truth is, to be a vital duty of their profession as scientists. If some people (like me, in this case) get into some problems because of that, they may feel sorry for such persons but that sympathy would not extend to not publishing what they view as the truth.

Further, I don't know whether Haraldsson being a non-devotee fully understood how embarrassing and even traumatic it could be to those who had helped him in his book publication and were known in the ashram to have helped him, when his book with the Western Critics chapter was published. Perhaps he thought that we would just face some minor discomfort!

I think I was naive in presuming that Haraldsson will be largely goody-goody about Baba in his updated book. It was my first such extensive interaction/assistance for a book on Baba. I think old-timers in the ashram were aware of the possibility of such unpleasant consequences of interacting with/assisting Baba book authors (or media) who were not devotees, and so preferred not to get involved with them. I lacked their wisdom in such matters in 2013. Now, after burning my fingers over this matter, I have become wise like ashram old-timers, on such matters :-).

Barring this horrible Western Critics chaper, Haraldsson has presented a fair non-devotee, European, and scientific investigator view of Sathya Sai. Haraldsson has even criticized the BBC video for claiming a miracle to be fake and Haraldsson has provided scientific/logical arguments to counter that stand by BBC. In a radio talk show in 2012 in the UK, Haraldsson gently but firmly corrected the view of the talk show host that Baba's miracles were fraudulent. See my post: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2013/08/prof-haraldsson-politely-asserts.html for more on it. So Haraldsson's fair and positive assessment of genuineness of Baba's paranormal (miraculous) powers which continues to be the case in this updated 2013 book too, is a very significant contribution of his to Sathya Sai legacy, in my considered opinion.

Given all the above, and having faced a lot worse in terms of betrayal of my trust from Sai university administrators in Puttaparthi itself, over time I was more understanding of why Haraldsson did what he did, and am not so cross with him now, like I was at that time (from end Aug. 2013 to perhaps end of that year).
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After my 2013 Haraldsson book experience, I started paying a lot of attention to the power of big TV channels (like BBC) and the money involved. BBC is govt. funded but would be having advertisement revenue of some kind, I guess. Big USA TV channels like CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox are driven by advertisement revenue for which ratings are very important.

So it is in the interest of the TV media reporters, producers and the media channel in general to publish stuff that will get them more eyeballs. And like Spielberg's portrayal of India in the Temple of Doom, was atrocious in its wildly inaccurate portrayal of India, but great for USA box office money, I think the BBC media team behind this anti Baba video tapped the Western Christian market and Western anti-religion market both of which seem to have significant number of people against Hindu miraculous Babas, by making this video. I am sure they would have made good money/earned career promotions by making it.

And the freedom of speech laws in the West make it very difficult to challenge them in court and punish them for wrong portrayal. That is the power of big media, especially big TV media, to help or hurt people and movements.

Even in India, more money is made by big TV channels by broadcasting shows that are critical and sometimes contemptuous of contemporary spiritual mystics with miraculous powers, than shows that show really miraculous contemporary spiritual mystics. The public at large enjoy such scandal. So the big TV channels deliver 'Public ki pasand' [Hindi for what is liked by the public] and make good money in the process. Such is life!


My 2017 view of the matter

Today as a social media writer in 2017, I am far more relaxed about handling Western media promoted negative allegations against Baba than I was the first time I had to face it in 2013 which I have described earlier (above).

What I have understood is that some people will believe the Western critics view of Baba no matter how much one tries to make them see the other side of the matter. Further, history of Avatars and great spiritual masters teaches us that they always have enemies during their lifetime. Krishna was hated by people like Sisupala. Jesus was so hated by some fellow Jews (Jesus was a Jew) in Jerusalem that they forced the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to crucify Jesus on sedition (as Jesus was charged with claiming to be the king of the Jews which was interpreted as challenging (non-Jewish) Roman rule over Jerusalem and surrounding areas with Jewish majority). Shirdi Sai too had many critics. So it is no surprise to a person knowledgeable about such history that Sathya Sai also had, and still has, critics.

Sathya Sai himself would ignore such vicious critics who were hell-bent on their criticism. Those who were open-minded were sometimes blessed by Baba with experiences that changed them from doubting Thomases to devout believers in Baba. Russy Karanjia of Blitz magazine/newspaper from Bombay is an example of that as he came to Puttaparthi to scoff but returned as a believer who wrote the book, 'God lives in India' having his personal experiences of Bhagavan's divine powers and, if I recall correctly, Bhagavan's teachings and mission.

Now in end 2017, my view is that we should not engage in discussion with die-hard Baba critics on such Western allegations. We should simply avoid interactions with them. I think the situation is similar to followers of political leaders. Note that I have a publicly neutral stand in both Indian as well as American politics.

Will a devout supporter of Narendra Modi ever change his/her critical view of Rahul Gandhi or vice-versa, through mere discussions? No. Will a fervent supporter of Donald Trump ever change his/her cricial view of Hillary Clinton or vice-versa, through mere discussions? No.

Their views are too strong to change over discussions alone. It needs some strong life impact factor/event for them to change such political criticism stands.

I have friends from my Mumbai software industry days, most of whom are now settled in the Western world. Some of these friends including some who stayed back in India, are critical of Baba. We continue as friends because we avoid any discussions of Baba between us!

If a more open-minded and sincere person approaches us (say, on social media) with doubts about Baba due to these Western allegations, then I think we can tell him about our own experiences where there have been nothing of that sort whatsoever. That is the truth with me. Nothing of that sort whatsoever. Instead, during my years in the Sai university from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2011 (with designation of Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty and Visiting Faculty) when Baba was in physical form and was chancellor of Sai university accessible to students and staff of Sai university in Sai Kulwant Hall, it was absolutely clear that Baba expected very strict moral/ethical discipline in Sai university with respect to not only sexual matters but even ordinary interactions between male and female students and staff in the Sai university.

I (and we) have to go with this truth that I (we) experienced of Sai Baba. In the light of such directly experienced truth, why should we give any importance to these unproven allegations levelled against Baba by a few Westerners? Who knows whether their accusations are motivated by some ill-will towards Baba leading them to make false statements or by some other worldly motives like money? It is not possible for us to disprove all such allegations. In fact, I think we should not waste our time trying to disprove any such allegation. Now in this post-Mahasamadhi period, what matters more in such issues are the teachings of Baba and there is nothing whatsoever in his teachings which encourage any immorality in sexual behaviour.

Not a single such allegation against Baba has been accepted/judged as credible, let alone being accepted as proven truth, by any court in any country of the world, as far as I know. I repeat, not a single such allegation. We should convey that to open-minded persons who have some doubts about the matter.

After that, it is upto them. If they still continue to have doubt, I think we should not engage further with them on this matter.

======================

I think it is appropriate to conclude this post by referring to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's words from his Christmas 25th December 2000 discourse, http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume33/sss33-23.pdf. Bhagavan attributed false allegations against him to money and jealousy against him. Bhagavan further says, "Some devotees seem to be perturbed over these false statements. They are not true devotees at all. Having known the mighty power of Sai, why should they be afraid of the ‘cawing of crows’? One should not get carried away by all that is written on walls, said in political meetings or the vulgar tales carried by the print media."

Bhagavan later says, "All noble souls and incarnations in the past had also to put up with criticism. You may ask why at all such criticism should arise? Criticism, in fact, adds to their glory. Pleasure is an interval between two pains. Shadow follows light. One should not be afraid of shadow. There is light even in shadow. Light and shadow cannot exist separately. There is a principle of unity between them. So, do not react to any criticism levelled against Swami or any other elder for that matter. Just brush it aside, saying, you have nothing to do with it. If someone points out mistakes in you, you can certainly rectify them. But if someone levels false charges against you, you don’t need to be worried over it. Be happy. If the criticism is made in a loud voice, it goes into the thin air. If it is made within one self, it goes to oneself only[.] [S]such being the case, why should you be perturbed? Let anyone say anything; remain calm. Consider whatever happens as good for you. With such equal-mindedness, carry on your good work."

Ravi: I think we who write on social media about Bhagavan should keep the above words of Bhagavan in mind. Some die-hard criticism will be there. We can simply ignore it. However, I think that if someone has got misguided by such false allegations carried by famous media channels like BBC and politely seeks advise from us, we can politely point out to them that the BBC program is not factual, and that it is the courts of law that are far better than such media houses in determining truth of allegations. So far no court of law anywhere in the world (as far as I know) has accepted any such allegation against Baba as true.

After explaining this to the polite and genuine person who has got doubts, I think we should leave it to them to decide. If it is their destiny to continue to be confused and misguided by these false and unproven allegations, so be it.

Given below are large extracts of the above discourse of Bhagavan, which I think must be viewed as vital instructions and teachings of Bhagavan to us, as late as end 2000 (less than 17 years back):

Today you have to remind yourselves of the ideals Jesus stood for. From time to time, many noble souls, endowed with immense spiritual power, have taken birth to propagate sacred teachings to the world. They struggled hard to make the world a good place to live in. But without understanding their noble intentions, foolish people tried to ridicule and persecute them. Right from his birth, Jesus had to face many trials and tribulations. When the name and fame of noble souls spread far and wide, many people become jealous.
...
The evil forces of desire, anger and hatred put the people to a lot of trouble. Jesus was also put to suffering in every possible way, though he strove tirelessly for the peace and welfare of society. He was the epitome of compassion and the refuge of the poor, needy and forlorn. But many people tried to create troubles for Jesus as they did not like his sacred teachings and activities. Their hatred for Jesus increased day by day. Even the priests turned against Jesus as they became jealous of his growing popularity. But the fishermen held Jesus in high esteem. They started following his teachings and became his followers. As he became more and more popular, many people, out of jealousy, raised obstacles in his path and even tried to kill him. Jesus had twelve disciples. Judas was one of them. But he betrayed Jesus. At that time, there was only one Judas, but today there are many such ‘Judases.’ Today the world is engulfed in unrest because of the rise in the number of treacherous people like Judas. They are mean-minded and are easily tempted by money. Judas betrayed just for a few pieces of silver.

Even two thousand years ago, money was the primary temptation of man. Because of their greed for money, people resorted to evil and unjust ways, destroyed truth and indulged in false propaganda. This was the case then, and it is the same even today. No one needs to be afraid of such false allegations. Why should one be afraid of the mistake that one has not committed? In the past, many evil-minded people were jealous of the divine personalities who attained worldwide fame through the teachings of truth and righteousness. Even today there is no dearth of such wicked people.

Some people are so mean-minded that they do not want to understand and appreciate the sanctity associated with the activities. Have any of them been able to accomplish even one-thousandth part of what Sai baba is doing? No, no, no! It is only Sathya Sai Baba who has undertaken such noble tasks without a trace of selfishness. Sai’s heart is pure, His feelings are sacred, and He is totally selfless. Sathya Sai Baba stands for three P’s namely, Purity, Patience and Perseverance. There is no trace of selfishness in Sai Baba from top to toe. He is rendering totally selfless service. Why are those with a modicum of intelligence unable to recognize this truth? Why are they indulging in false propaganda? They are doing so due to their greed for money. Not merely that. Money is the basis of conversion of people from one religion to another.

Even those who wear ochre robes become jealous of the prosperity of each other and indulge in false propaganda.

One does not become a saint or develop
devotion just by donning ochre robes.
One does not become free from sins
merely by holding the Gita in one’s hands.
(Telugu Poem)

What to talk about the Peethadhipathis (heads of big religious establishments), even some of the so called Sadhus are indulging in this wicked activity. We should not criticize anybody. But I am forced to tell you all this, as it has now become the demand of the situation. Do not be afraid of any false publicity.
...
People who try to obstruct sacred activities are not human beings to (at) all. They are verily demons. Even if the whole world were to be filled with such demons, Sai’s resolve will never change. Some people out of their mean-mindedness are trying to tarnish the image of Sai Baba. I am not after name and fame. So, I do not lose anything by their false allegations. My glory will go on increasing day by day. It will never diminish even a bit if they were to publicise their false allegations in the whole world in bold letters. Some devotees seem to be perturbed over these false statements. They are not true devotees at all. Having known the mighty power of Sai, why should they be afraid of the ‘cawing of crows’? One should not get carried away by all that is written on walls, said in political meetings or the vulgar tales carried by the print media.

Let us firmly resolve to propagate the principles of truth, righteousness and love. Sathya Sai Baba has no trace of selfishness in Him. I am spending crores of rupees to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the downtrodden. My resolve is to feed the hungry and impart education to poor children.

These persons are unable to do even one thousandth part of what Sathya Sai Baba is doing for society, but shamelessly indulge in false allegations. Instead it would be better for them to follow Sathya Sai Baba and set an ideal to the rest of the world. I have no desires or ambitions. There is no trace of jealousy in Me. I am love personified. Love is My very life. Wisdom is the fruit that I grant. These two form the basis of My life.

People who indulge in false allegations are bound to come to woe. Those who investigate (encourage?) such false publicity too will meet their doom. Money should be utilized to undertake righteous actions, not for evil purposes. Serve your fellowmen with all love and compassion. Put them on the right path and make them happy. I am not afraid of any false propaganda that people may do. Why should I be afraid when I follow the path of truth, righteousness and love? Let people say what they want; I am not perturbed.

Today I am explaining to you in detail the principle of love that I stand for. During the time of every avatar, wicked people did play their tricks. During the time of Krishna, there were evil-minded people like Kamsa, Sisupala and Dantavakra, who tried their best to harm him. When Rama incarnated for the establishment of dharma, he too had to face stiff opposition from evil forces. He was exiled to forest for 14 years where he had to undergo a lot of suffering. Even his consort was separated from him. Ultimately, what happened to all those who tried to create trouble for the divine personalities? Those who accuse them and put them to suffering commit the worst sin. If one cannot undertake meritorious deeds, it would be better one keeps quiet instead of indulging in such sinful deeds.

There are some people who claim to be devotees and take to evil ways. They feel that their physical appearance will earn them respect. Not at all. It is one’s sacredness that makes one a good person. So, one should lead a life of truth and righteousness. The principle of love is the same in one and all. All should stand united by the bond of love. Then the entire world will become one family. We can never attain happiness if we contract and fragment love and develop hatred.

I lead a life suffused with love from dawn to dusk. I am providing high quality free education to thousands of students. Not merely free education; I am showing them by My example the way to lead an ideal life.
...
The Messengers of Sathya Sai, Association of alumni of Anantapur College, are undertaking various service activities in many countries. They are encouraging their husbands also to take to the path of service. Our old students are working in various countries like Switzerland, America, Japan, China, Russia, etc. Some foreigners are trying to bribe them, asking them to fabricate stories against Sathya Sai Baba. In Switzerland, when one of our girl students was approached by someone asking her to concoct stories against Sai Baba, she got so enraged that she immediately took out her shoe to teach a lesson to that person. She asked him, “Is this what your religion teaches? Is this the ideal that your religion propagates? Fie on you! Get out!” But there are some traitors like Judas, who are being bribed to level false charges against Sai Baba.

Ultimately, what happened to Judas? He felt miserable for having betrayed Jesus for monetary gains. He shed tears of repentance. He hit himself, saying, “Fie on me! I am a traitor. I betrayed my own Master and God.” Betrayal of God is the worst of all sins. Such betrayal can never be atoned for in any number of births. So, never try to betray God. Love all.

Salute even those who criticize you because divinity is present in all. Do not spoil your mind by harbouring the feelings of anger, etc. Pray to God with love. All noble souls and incarnations in the past had also to put up with criticism. You may ask why at all such criticism should arise? Criticism, in fact, adds to their glory. Pleasure is an interval between two pains. Shadow follows light. One should not be afraid of shadow. There is light even in shadow. Light and shadow cannot exist separately. There is a principle of unity between them. So, do not react to any criticism levelled against Swami or any other elder for that matter. Just brush it aside, saying, you have nothing to do with it. If someone points out mistakes in you, you can certainly rectify them. But if someone levels false charges against you, you don’t need to be worried over it. Be happy. If the criticism is made in a loud voice, it goes into the thin air. If it is made within one self, it goes to oneself only[.] [S]such being the case, why should you be perturbed? Let anyone say anything; remain calm. Consider whatever happens as good for you. With such equal-mindedness, carry on your good work.
...
What you have to propagate to the world is love alone. Nothing exists other than love in this world. Love is God. Love is life and love is everything. So, cultivate love more and more. Let your mind not waver under any circumstances. A wavering mind becomes unsacred. That is why once Thyagaraja sang, “O mind, do not waver and do not get deluded.” Consider love as your very life. Love alone makes one’s life sacred. One is a true human being only if one has love in him. Love is man; man is love. Man is God and God is love. It is love that unifies all. So, develop love. Tread the path of truth and righteousness and lead a peaceful life. There are no greater powers, no greater ideals and no greater supports than these human values of Sathya, Dharma, Santhi and Prema. These four values are the life supporting principles. Adhere to these four values and sanctify your life.

Embodiments of Love! Be fearless. Do not be afraid even if a thunderbolt were to land on your head. Death comes only once and not twice. It is bound to come one day or the other. So do not be afraid of death. Be ready for anything. Do not be afraid to follow truth. Fill your life with love. Only then will your life be sanctified. No spiritual practice like japa and dhyana can redeem your life if you do not adhere to truth and love. Let anything happen; hold on to these values. These values alone can give happiness and prosperity to the entire world. Develop love more and more. Do not pay heed to the criticism of others; because you are not committing any mistake. What mistake can there be if one loves God? Having unflinching love for God till your last breath. Do not entertain conflicts or doubts[.]

Everyone has to face the consequences of his actions. None can predict when and how, but you are bound to face them. However, when you constantly think of God, you will never be put to suffering. He will always be with you, in you, around you, safeguarding you. You may worship God by any name — Jesus, Rama, Krishna, etc. But remember that God is one, goal is one, truth is one and love is one. Love is God. Enshrine this unity principle in your heart and have firm faith in it. Then God will certainly take care of you wherever you are-in a forest, in the sky, in a city, in a village, on a mountain top or in the middle of deep sea. No one has the right to deny your God. Due to the impact of Kali Age, people are taking to evil ways in pursuit of money. They even go to the extent of killing others for the sake of money. For them money is everything. One should not struggle to earn money. Rather, one should strive to earn the wealth of love. When you have the wealth of love in your possession, you will never suffer.

---- end Bhagavan Christmas 25th Dec. 2000 discourse extracts ----

[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.]

Friday, November 17, 2017

Alandi pilgrimage and Saint Dnyaneshwar

Alandi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alandi, is the pilgrimage centre famous for the samadhi of the great Maharashtrian Saint Dnyaneshwar. Pics below seem to be of the annual pilgrimage there around this time of the year.



Above pics courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/DeepakBharwani/posts/10214365730798033

A few Maharashtrian friends of mine during my Mumbai and Dombivli days, told me about their love and adoration of Dnyaneshwar, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnyaneshwar,13th century (1275-1296) Maharashtrian saint, especially his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called Dnyaneshwari. I was exposed to Marathi books of Dnyaneshwar, including Dnyaneshwari and Amruta Anubhav (a good friend had given me a copy of Amruta Anubhav). As my Marathi reading and understanding was rather slow, I was able to read only part of these great works and not be able to benefit as well as I wanted to, from these great and sacred works which are treasured by Maharashtrian Hindu devotees, especially those whose path involves a lot of reading and contemplation of Bhagavad Gita and other philosophical scriptural treasures of the Hindus.

But the story of the ordeals and achievements of the four siblings: Nivruttinath, Dnyaneshwar, Sopan and Muktabai is well known to Maharashtrian Hindus and which I too learned about, and benefited from. The above wiki page has some references to it.

Some decades ago, I was blessed to visit Alandi and worship at the samadhi of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj.

I found these pics of Alandi at the time of the pilgrimage this year to be very enjoyable which bring to life the awesome depth of devotion to God of the Varkari Maharashtrian Hindu devotees. Maharashtra is a land of great devotion with Dnyaneshwar and his samadhi at Alandi being two important symbols of this great devotion to God.

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj ki Jai!

Monday, November 13, 2017

What does the economic and military rise of communist China mean for religious people and for freedom of religion, in Asia and in the world?

Last updated on 15th Nov. 2017

China's economic and military rise in the world

In the past few weeks, right from the 19th Communist Party of China Congress in Beijing, to USA President Trump's recent visit to China, there is a lot of discussion about the economic and military rise of China and what it means for the world, in international media and among noted commentators and political leaders (like former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, who now heads Asia Society, an Asia policy think tank in the USA, http://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/kevin-rudd). Mr. Rudd, who seems to be a strongly pro-China person, seems to have the view that the international order is changing from the post World War II USA dominated international order, and that China is going to become a major force in the new international order, not only in Asia but also in the world.

In particular, Mr. Rudd seems to be very supportive of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (aka One Belt One Road, OBOR) which is promoted by China. Given below are some extracts from its wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Belt_One_Road_Initiative:

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, better known as the One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR), The Belt and Road (B&R) and The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy proposed by China's paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People's Republic of China (PRC), the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the oceangoing Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The strategy underlines China's push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. It was unveiled in September and October 2013 for SREB and MSR respectively. It was also promoted by Premier Li Keqiang during the state visit to Asia and Europe and the most frequently mentioned concept in the People's Daily in 2016. It was initially called One Belt and One Road, but in mid-2016 the official English name was changed to the Belt and Road Initiative due to misinterpretations of the term one. In the past three years, the focuses were mainly on infrastructure investment, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, and iron and steel.
...
Motivation

Practically, developing infrastructural ties with its neighboring countries will reduce physical and regulatory barriers to trade by aligning standards. Additionally China is also using the Belt and Road Initiative to address excess capacity in its industrial sectors, in the hopes that whole production facilities may eventually be migrated out of China into BRI countries.

A report from Fitch Ratings suggests that China's plan to build ports, roads, railways, and other forms of infrastructure in under-developed Eurasia and Africa is out of political motivation rather than real demand for infrastructure. The Fitch report also doubts Chinese banks' ability to control risks, as they do not have a good record of allocating resources efficiently at home, which may lead to new asset-quality problems for Chinese banks that most of funding is likely to come from.

The Belt and Road Initiative is believed by analysts Tom Miller, Christopher Balding and Chenggang Xu to be a way to extend Chinese influence at the expense of the US, in order to fight for regional leadership in Asia. China has already invested billions of dollars in several South Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to improve their basic infrastructure, with implications for China's trade regime as well as its military influence. China has emerged as one of the fastest-growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India – it was the 17th largest in 2016, up from the 28th rank in 2014 and 35th in 2011, according to India’s official ranking of FDI inflows.

Analysis by the Jamestown Foundation suggests that OBOR also serves Xi Jinping's intention to bring about “top-level design” of economic development, whereby several infrastructure-focused state-controlled firms are provided with profitable business opportunities in order to maintain high GDP growth. Through the requirement that provincial-level companies have to apply for loans provided by the Party-state to participate in regional OBOR projects, Beijing has also been able to take more effective control over China's regions and reduce "centrifugal forces".

--- end wiki extracts ---

An interesting but a few months old article in the New York Times on this initiative: Behind China’s $1 Trillion Plan to Shake Up the Economic Order, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/business/china-railway-one-belt-one-road-1-trillion-plan.html, 13th May 2017. The article states, "The initiative, called “One Belt, One Road,” looms on a scope and scale with little precedent in modern history, promising more than $1 trillion in infrastructure and spanning more than 60 countries."

The article has the view that China is using this intiative to help achieve a new global order with strong Chinese influence that will replace the post World War II global order/rules based order dominated by USA and other Western nations. It views the plan as more audacious than the Marshall plan of the USA used for reconstruction of some nations after World War II.

India has so far not joined the BRI initiative. This article, Connectivity Has To Be Open, Equitable: India On Belt And Road Initiative, https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-hopeful-policy-set-by-chinas-communist-party-congress-will-promote-ties-1768121, 28th Oct. 2017, gives some info. about India's reservations about and stand on BRI.

It is not clear, under the President Trump administration, whether the USA plans to join the BRI or not.

Russia seems to be interested in the BRI with China and Russia exploring ways to link the BRI with Eurasian Economic Union project involving Russia and some other former USSR countries (for more, see Russia, China to look for new areas of cooperation — Putin, http://tass.com/politics/975031, dated 10th Nov. 2017.

What is clear from all of the above, is that China is very serious about expanding its role in the global order to be a major, if not dominant, player. Some commentators including Mr. Kevin Rudd, expect China to become the largest economy of the world in the coming decades.

Views of Communism about Religion

China is a communist country with the Communist Party of China being the only political party and which dominates Chinese government. So it is important to know the history of communism's views and actions with respect to religion.

Given below are extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxism_and_religion:

The nineteenth-century German thinker Karl Marx, the founder and primary theorist of Marxism, had an antithetical and complex attitude to religion, viewing it primarily as "the soul of soulless conditions", the "opium of the people" that had been useful to the ruling classes since it gave the working classes false hope for millennia. At the same time Marx saw religion as a form of protest by the working classes against their poor economic conditions and their alienation.

In the Marxist–Leninist interpretation of Marxist theory, developed primarily by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, religion is seen as retarding human development. Due to this, a number of Marxist–Leninist governments in the twentieth century, such as the Soviet Union after Lenin and the People's Republic of China, implemented rules introducing state atheism.
...
Vladimir Lenin was highly critical of religion, saying in his book Religion :
"Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism."

In About the attitude of the working party toward the religion, he wrote :
"Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class."

However, while Lenin was critical of religion, he also specifically made a point to not include it in Our Programme or his ideological goals, saying :
"But under no circumstances ought we to fall into the error of posing the religious question in an abstract, idealistic fashion, as an “intellectual” question unconnected with the class struggle, as is not infrequently done by the radical-democrats from among the bourgeoisie. It would be stupid to think that, in a society based on the endless oppression and coarsening of the worker masses, religious prejudices could be dispelled by purely propaganda methods. It would be bourgeois narrow-mindedness to forget that the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society. No number of pamphlets and no amount of preaching can enlighten the proletariat, if it is not enlightened by its own struggle against the dark forces of capitalism. Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven."
...
In their influential book The ABC of Communism, Nikolai Bukharin and Evgenii Preobrazhensky spoke out strongly against religion. "Communism is incompatible with religious faith", they wrote.

However, importance was placed on secularism and non-violence towards the religious.

"But the campaign against the backwardness of the masses in this matter of religion, must be conducted with patience and considerateness, as well as with energy and perseverance. The credulous crowd is extremely sensitive to anything which hurts its feelings. To thrust atheism upon the masses, and in conjunction therewith to interfere forcibly with religious practices and to make mock of the objects of popular reverence, would not assist but would hinder the campaign against religion. If the church were to be persecuted, it would win sympathy among the masses, for persecution would remind them of the almost forgotten days when there was an association between religion and the defence of national freedom; it would strengthen the antisemitic movement; and in general it would mobilize all the vestiges of an ideology which is already beginning to die out."

---- end wiki extracts ---

Ravi: What the above wiki extracts tell us is that the communist view is an atheistic view, which therefore considers belief in God which is the cornerstone of most religions including Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, as a false belief. This is very important to bear in mind. So a well indoctrinated communist in China will not have any belief in God. That means the top Chinese leadership would, in all probability, be atheists! That is a stark contrast to USA and India where most of the top political leaders in government as well as the top bureacrats are believers in God!

But it is interesting to note that major communist theorists were willing to tolerate religious practice so long as that practice does not create problems for the communist party and its rule over the country. This willingness though is of a condescending kind as they have the view that believers in God are ignorant and superstitious people.

As a devout believer in God, I am somewhat repelled by such condescension. I don't have any issues with persons who don't have belief but who respect my belief and don't view me as ignorant and superstitious. I don't view atheists and agnostics with condescension. My belief in supernatural/divine/Godly power was made strong by personal encounters that I had with such divine supernatural power. Atheists and agnostics may not have had such encounters. That's what I see as the primary difference between believers like me and atheists & agnostics. There is no condescension is this view of mine. There is only a recognition and acceptance of difference.

Religion in Communist China

Given below is an extract from the wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China

The People's Republic of China, established in 1949 under the leadership of Mao Zedong, established a policy of state atheism. Initially, the new government did not suppress religious practice, but, like its dynastic ancestors, viewed popular religious movements, especially in the countryside, as possibly seditious. The government condemned religious organisations, labeling them as superstitious. Religions that were deemed "appropriate" and given freedom were those that entailed the ancestral tradition of consolidated state rule. In addition, Marxism viewed religion as feudal. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement institutionalised Protestant Churches in official organizations that renounced foreign funding and foreign control as imperialist. Chinese Catholics resisted the new government's move toward state control and independence of the Vatican. The Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976) included a systematic effort to destroy religion. The historian Arthur Waldron adds, however, that "communism was, in effect, a religion for its early Chinese converts: more than a sociological analysis, it was a revelation and a prophecy that engaged their entire beings and was expounded in sacred texts, many imported from Moscow and often printed in English".

The radical policy relaxed considerably in the late 1970s. Since 1978, the Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees "freedom of religion". Its article 36 states that:
"Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination."

For several decades, the party acquiesced or even encouraged a religious revival. Most Chinese were allowed to worship as they felt best, even in churches, mosques, and temples. Although "spiritual practice" groups such as the Falungong were banned and some practitioners arrested, local authorities were likely to follow a hands-off policy toward underground House churches. In the late 20th century there was a reactivation of the state cults devoted to the Yellow Emperor and the Red Emperor. In the early 2000s, the Chinese government became open especially to traditional religions such as Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and folk religion, emphasizing the role of religion in building a "Harmonious Society" (hexie shehui), a Confucian idea. China hosted religious meetings and conferences including the first World Buddhist Forum in 2006 and the subsequent World Buddhist Forums, a number of international Taoist meetings and local conferences on folk religions. Aligning with anthropologists' discourse about the importance of "culture", the government considers these religions as integral expressions of national "Chinese culture".

A turning point was reached in 2005, when folk religious cults began to be protected and promoted under the policies of intangible cultural heritage. Not only were traditions that had been interrupted for decades resumed, but ceremonies forgotten for centuries were reinvented. The annual worship of the god Cáncóng of ancient state of Shu, for instance, was resumed at a ceremonial complex near the Sanxingdui archaeological site in Sichuan.

In late 2013, however, a change in policy emerged, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, expressed hope that "traditional cultures" might fill a "moral void" and fight corruption. But in 2014, the government began a policy that restricted Christian churches by enforcing building codes, removing crosses from church steeples, and even tearing down church buildings. At least one prominent pastor who protested was arrested on charges of misusing church funds. A lawyer who had counselled these churches appeared on state television to confess that he had been in collusion with American organizations to incite local Christians.

At a conference on religions held in Beijing in April 2016, President Xi promised to "fully implement the Party's policy of religious freedom,“ but continued that religious groups “must adhere to the leadership of the CPC, and support the socialist system and socialism with Chinese characteristics.” He called upon them to "merge religious doctrines with Chinese culture," and urged that "We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists."

André Laliberté notes that despite there having been much talk about "persecution against religion (especially Christianity) in China", one should not jump to hasty conclusions, since "a large proportion of the population worship, pray, perform rituals and hold certain beliefs with the full support of the Party. Most of this activity affects people who subscribe to world views that are sometimes formally acknowledged by the state and are institutionalised, or others that are tacitly approved as customs". In this context, Christianity not only represents a small proportion of the population, but its adherents are still seen by the majority who observe traditional rituals as followers of a foreign religion that sets them apart from the body of society.
---- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: It is very good to see that over the past few decades, the Chinese communist party has become more tolerant of religion and promotes some level of freedom of religion. The above extract has these words of President Xi Jinping that religious groups “must adhere to the leadership of the CPC, and support the socialist system and socialism with Chinese characteristics.” He called upon them to "merge religious doctrines with Chinese culture," and urged that "We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists."

So religious beliefs and practices that blend with Chinese communist party doctrine and views, and Chinese culture, may be provided freedom in China. Of course, any religious group that becomes a threat to the Chinese communist party will be vigorously opposed.

But I doubt very much that the Chinese communist party will encourage belief in God/divine power among its members. I can't imagine Xi Jinping say in his public addresses: "God bless China" like USA presidents regularly say, "God bless the USA" or "God bless America" in their public speeches. And so I guess that most Chinese communist party members will also not say "God bless China" in their public addresses. I doubt if Chinese communist party leaders will visit houses of worship and pray, and have photographs of that shared on social media, like what is done by many Indian political leaders from various political parties.

Interestingly, this article: Lose religion or face censure, top China official tells Communist Party members, http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/lose-religion-or-face-censure-top-china-official-tells-communist-party-members/story-qm7FlsQ3h1f2omIQKra7nK.html, 19th July 2017, has the following words from an article in a top political theory journal of the Chinese communist party written by the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA):

"Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members…Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party's faith…they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion".

"Officials who have religious faith should be persuaded to give it up, and those who resist would be punished by the Party organisation".

There seems to be opposition from the communist party towards organized 'foreign' religions like Christianity and Islam. The director, as per the article, wrote, "Some foreign forces have used religion to infiltrate China, and extremism and illegal religious activities are spreading in some places, which have threatened national security and social stability."

"Religions should be sinicised…We should guide religious groups and individuals with socialist core values and excellent traditional Chinese culture and support religious groups to dig into their doctrines to find parts that are beneficial to social harmony and development."

So the director seems to be more accommodating of religions that blend with Chinese traditions. But that too seems to be only for the governed people and NOT the members of the Chinese communist party who are expected to be atheists (and who were reported to number 89 million in 2016).

As Chinese power and influence spreads to other countries in the world, will the Chinese appreciate or downplay religion in those countries? I think that China, at least in the initial stages of its expanding power & influence in other countries, will show a tolerance to religion in those countries. But I very much doubt that China will encourage Chinese citizens who visit or stay in foreign countries to participate in such 'foreign' religious matters in foreign countries. In fact, it may even discourage them from doing so as it would be concerned that when these Chinese citizens go back to China they may try to spread those 'foreign' religious beliefs and practices among other Chinese people (in China).

Over time as China acquires significant power and influence over foreign countries where it has large investments and industry/services presence, the big question for me is whether China then will try to influence the people of these countries, directly or indirectly, to take up Chinese communist attitudes towards religion including the atheism that most Chinese communist party members would have. If so, in my considered view, that would be an undesirable effect of Chinese growth in power & influence in Asia and the world.

I am fine with people losing faith in a religion and becoming an atheist, so long as that is done in a free environment (and not as a communist/political party directive that must be followed). There should be proper freedom of religion which allows people to explore various religions if they want to, and then take up a religion if they get convinced about it. I think the rise of Chinese power and influence in Asia and in the world, needs to be monitored to check whether that is resulting in reducing freedom of religion in countries that come under Chinese power and influence.
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Can the China of today in 2017 be really referred to as a communist state (and the Communist Party of China be viewed as a really communist party)?

Firstly, I would like to clearly state here that, in a previous post or two, I have publicly congratulated the Chinese people and their Communist Party leadership for the astounding material progress they have made with decades of hard and dedicated work, which has moved many hundreds of millions of Chinese people from poverty to the middle class. I am happy for the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party including its living past leaders like Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as well as the current leaders like Xi Jinping and Li Kequiang.

Now my view is that China today in 2017 hardly seems to be a communist country based on what I had understood a communist country to be in my early youth in the late 1970s going into the 1980s, when I came to know about communism and other political systems. Note that even in the 1980s, communist countries like USSR and Cuba had friendly and close relations with India. India then had powerful communist political parties, especially in the states of (West) Bengal and Kerala, and these communist parties had a strong presence/influence in the Indian trade unions. Those communist parties continue even today with CPI(M) also referred as CPM, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_India_(Marxist), and CPI, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_India, having seats in Indian parliament, though they do not have many such seats and so do not have much clout in Indian parliament today. But in the previous Indian union govt. (UPA II of Manmohan Singh) the seats these two parties had in Parliament were crucial for the govt's majority, and so its leaders became influential in policy making of the then Indian union/federal govt. Some communist trade unions with their easily identifiable as communist, red flags, continue to be around in India. They are there even in my rural town of Puttaparthi where I have seen sit-down strikes of a communist party affiliated trade union of workers in the local municipality (municipal corporation), with their red communist flags being prominently shown.

In the states of Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, CPM has an important presence. It lost power in Bengal but is in power in the state of Kerala with its alliance winning the 2016 election and the chief minister, Pinnari Vijayan being from CPM, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_Legislative_Assembly_election,_2016. The north-eastern state of Tripura has had CPM chief ministers from 1978 to 1988, and from 1993 to now (2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chief_Ministers_of_Tripura. That makes it nearly 35 years of power for communists in Tripura! Manik Sarkar is the (CPM) communist chief minister of Tripura now and has been in that position since 1998.

Both CPI and CPM have had historical ties with and support from Russia. CPM was formed in 1964 as a breakaway group from CPI, though the division seems to have become serious from1962 onwards. CPI, the united communist party then (as CPM was yet to be formed), seems to have had ties with China too, with CPI even supporting China in India's 1962 war with China!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_India_(Marxist) throws more light on the 1962 situation and the CPM formation in 1964 as a breakaway group from the CPI. Some extracts from it are given below:

CPI(M) emerged from a division within the Communist Party of India (CPI). The undivided CPI had experienced a period of upsurge during the years following the Second World War. The CPI led armed rebellions in Telangana, Tripura, and Kerala. However, it soon abandoned the strategy of armed revolution in favour of working within the parliamentary framework. In 1950 B. T. Ranadive, the CPI general secretary and a prominent representative of the radical sector inside the party, was demoted on grounds of left-adventurism.

Under the government of the Indian National Congress party of Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India developed close relations and a strategic partnership with the Soviet Union. The Soviet government consequently wished that the Indian communists moderate their criticism towards the Indian state and assume a supportive role towards the Congress governments. However, large sections of the CPI claimed that India remained a semi-feudal country, and that class struggle could not be put on the back-burner for the sake of guarding the interests of Soviet trade and foreign policy. Moreover, the Indian National Congress appeared to be generally hostile towards political competition. In 1959 the central government intervened to impose President's Rule in Kerala, toppling the E.M.S. Namboodiripad cabinet (the sole non-Congress state government in the country).

Simultaneously, the relations between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China soured. In the early 1960s the Communist Party of China began criticising the CPSU of turning revisionist and of deviating from the path of Marxism–Leninism. Sino-Indian relations also deteriorated, as border disputes between the two countries erupted into the Sino-Indian War of 1962.

During the war with China, a faction of the Indian Communists backed the position of the Indian government, while other sections of the party claimed that it was a conflict between a socialist and a capitalist state. The basis of difference in opinion between the two factions in CPI was ideological – about the assessment of Indian scenario and the development of a party programme. This difference in opinion was also a reflection of a similar difference at international level on ideology between the Soviet and Chinese parties. The alleged 'right wing' inside the party followed the Soviet path and put forward the idea of joining hands with the then ruling party – Indian National Congress. Whereas the faction of CPI which later became CPI(M) referred to this as a revisionist approach of class collaboration. It was this ideological difference which later intensified, coupled with the Soviet-Chinese split at the international level and ultimately gave birth to CPI(M).

Hundreds of CPI leaders, accused of being pro-Chinese, were imprisoned. Thousands of Communists were detained without trial. Those targeted by the state accused the pro-Soviet leadership of the CPI of conspiring with the Congress government to ensure their own hegemony over the control of the party.

In 1962 Ajoy Ghosh, the general secretary of the CPI, died. After his death, S.A. Dange was installed as the party chairman (a new position) and E.M.S. Namboodiripad as general secretary. This was an attempt to achieve a compromise. Dange represented the rightist faction of the party and E.M.S. the leftist faction.

At a CPI National Council meeting held on 11 April 1964, 32 Council members walked out in protest, accusing Dange and his followers of "anti-unity and anti-Communist policies".

The leftist section, to which the 32 National Council members belonged, organised a convention in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh 7 to 11 July. In this convention the issues of the internal disputes in the party were discussed. 146 delegates, claiming to represent 100,000 CPI members, took part in the proceedings. The convention decided to convene the 7th Party Congress of CPI in Calcutta later the same year.

Marking a difference from the Dangeite sector of CPI, the Tenali convention was marked by the display of a large portrait of the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong.

At the Tenali convention a Bengal-based pro-Chinese group, representing one of the most radical streams of the CPI left wing, presented a draft programme proposal of their own. These radicals criticised the draft programme proposal prepared by M. Basavapunniah for undermining class struggle and failing to take a clear pro-Chinese position in the ideological conflict between the CPSU and CPC.

After the Tenali convention the CPI left wing organised party district and state conferences. In West Bengal, a few of these meetings became battlegrounds between the most radical elements and the more moderate leadership. At the Calcutta Party District Conference an alternative draft programme was presented to the leadership by Parimal Das Gupta (a leading figure amongst far-left intellectuals in the party). Another alternative proposal was brought forward to the Calcutta Party District Conference by Aziz ul Haq, but Haq was initially banned from presenting it by the conference organisers. At the Calcutta Party District Conference 42 delegates opposed M. Basavapunniah's official draft programme proposal.

At the Siliguri Party District Conference, the main draft proposal for a party programme was accepted, but with some additional points suggested by the far-left North Bengal cadre Charu Majumdar. However, Harekrishna Konar (representing the leadership of the CPI left wing) forbade the raising of the slogan Mao Tse-Tung Zindabad (Long live Mao Tse-Tung) at the conference.

Parimal Das Gupta's document was also presented to the leadership at the West Bengal State Conference of the CPI leftwing. Das Gupta and a few other spoke at the conference, demanding the party ought to adopt the class analysis of the Indian state of the 1951 CPI conference. His proposal was, however, voted down.

The Calcutta Congress was held between 31 October and 7 November, at Tyagraja Hall in southern Calcutta. Simultaneously, the Dange group convened a Party Congress of CPI in Bombay. Thus, the CPI divided into two separate parties. The group which assembled in Calcutta would later adopt the name 'Communist Party of India (Marxist)', to differentiate themselves from the Dange group. The CPI(M) also adopted its own political programme. P. Sundarayya was elected general secretary of the party.

[Ravi: The above makes it clear that Soviet Union supported Nehru (leader of the Indian National Congress) and so the CPI backed Nehru. Then it mentions souring of relations between Chinese and Soviet Union communist parties in the early 1960s. This is the background that in India's war with China in 1962, led to Chinese style communist supporters in CPI breaking away from 1962 onwards and forming the CPI(M) in 1964. This new group was supportive of China's leader Mao Zedong, was more supportive of radical type revolution, and the group had a lot of its leaders from Bengal (and nearby states) which is close to China geographically!

Note that USSR did not militarily support India in its 1962 war against China. Nehru, Indian PM then, sought military assistance from USA under President Kennedy then to help fight Chinese armed forces, and got some military assistance from the USA then. USA helped India diplomatically and seems to have played a vital role in China calling off its aggression and withdrawing its forces from some but not all of the territory it had invaded. For more, see "The Untold Story: How Kennedy came to India's aid in 1962", http://www.rediff.com/news/special/the-untold-story-how-the-us-came-to-indias-aid-in-1962/20121204.htm, Dec. 2012.]
...
The CPI (M) was born into a hostile political climate. At the time of the holding of its Calcutta Congress, large sections of its leaders and cadres were jailed without trial. Again on 29–30 December [Ravi: 1964], over a thousand CPI (M) cadres were arrested and detained, and held in jail without trial. In 1965 new waves of arrests of CPI(M) cadres took place in West Bengal, as the party launched agitations against the rise in fares in the Calcutta Tramways and against the then prevailing food crisis. Statewide general strikes and hartals were observed on 5 August 1965, 10–11 March 1966 and 6 April 1966. The March 1966 general strike results in several deaths in confrontations with police forces.

Also in Kerala, mass arrests of CPI(M) cadres were carried out during 1965. In Bihar, the party called for a Bandh (general strike) in Patna on 9 August 1965 in protest against the Congress state government. During the strike, police resorted to violent actions against the organisers of the strike. The strike was followed by agitations in other parts of the state.

P. Sundaraiah, after being released from jail, spent the period of September 1965 – February 1966 in Moscow for medical treatment. In Moscow he also held talks with the CPSU.

The Central Committee of CPI(M) held its first meeting on 12–19 June 1966. The reason for delaying the holding of a regular CC meeting was the fact that several of the persons elected as CC members at the Calcutta Congress were jailed at the time. A CC meeting had been scheduled to have been held in Trichur during the last days of 1964, but had been cancelled due to the wave of arrests against the party. The meeting discussed tactics for electoral alliances, and concluded that the party should seek to form a broad electoral alliances with all non-reactionary opposition parties in West Bengal (i.e. all parties except Jan Sangh and Swatantra Party). This decision was strongly criticised by the Communist Party of China, the Party of Labour of Albania, the Communist Party of New Zealand and the radicals within the party itself. The line was changed at a National Council meeting in Jullunder in October 1966, where it was decided that the party should only form alliances with selected left parties.

Naxalbari uprising

At this point the party stood at crossroads. There were radical sections of the party who were wary of the increasing parliamentary focus of the party leadership, especially after the electoral victories in West Bengal and Kerala. Developments in China also affected the situation inside the party. In West Bengal two separate internal dissident tendencies emerged, which both could be identified as supporting the Chinese line. In 1967 a peasant uprising broke out in Naxalbari, in northern West Bengal. The insurgency was led by hardline district-level CPI(M) leaders Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal. The hardliners within CPI(M) saw the Naxalbari uprising as the spark that would ignite the Indian revolution. The Communist Party of China hailed the Naxalbari movement, causing an abrupt break in CPI(M)-CPC relations. The Naxalbari movement was violently repressed by the West Bengal government, of which CPI(M) was a major partner. Within the party, the hardliners rallied around an All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries. Following the 1968 Burdwan plenum of CPI(M) (held on 5–12 April 1968), the AICCCR separated themselves from CPI(M). This split divided the party throughout the country. But notably in West Bengal, which was the centre of the violent radicalist stream, no prominent leading figure left the party. The party and the Naxalites (as the rebels were called) were soon to get into a bloody feud.

In Andhra Pradesh another revolt was taking place. There the pro-Naxalbari dissidents had not established any presence. But in the party organisation there were many veterans from the Telangana armed struggle, who rallied against the central party leadership. In Andhra Pradesh the radicals had a strong base even amongst the state-level leadership. The main leader of the radical tendency was T. Nagi Reddy, a member of the state legislative assembly. On 15 June 1968 the leaders of the radical tendency published a press statement outlining the critique of the development of CPI(M). It was signed by T. Nagi Reddy, D.V. Rao, Kolla Venkaiah and Chandra Pulla Reddy. In total around 50% of the party cadres in Andhra Pradesh left the party to form the Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries, under the leadership of T. Nagi Reddy.

----- end extracts from wiki page of CPM ---

Ravi: The Naxalbari uprising is considered to be the founding of the Naxalite (Maoist communist party armed revolution) groups in India, which is banned by the Indian government! So the above extracts give vital historical background of the Naxalite groups in India. More on Naxalites is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naxalite.

Another interesting aspect of the above extracts is CPM's move away from Communist Party of China due to the latter's support of the Naxalites (in late 1960s).

CPM seems to be close to China now. This article, ‘Communist Party of China values ties with CPI(M)’, http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/yechurys-call-on-xi-jinping-signals-strong-cpccpi-m-ties/article7783317.ece, dated Oct. 2015, has a photograph of CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, then and now General Secretary of the CPM, with Chinese president Xi Jinping. A small extract from it, "Mr. Yechury said that President Xi conveyed to him that the Communist Party of China (CPC) highly valued its relations with the CPI (M). Mr. Xi added that the CPI (M) was a strong votary for driving the relationship between China and India, including people-to-people ties."

So India has had a lot of communist influence even during my adult lifetime and that continues to this day in some parts of the country. Note that I am not talking about socialism. Socialism has been a popular word for quite a few political parties in India in the past. These socialism loving parties were NOT into armed revolution like the Maoist communist parties mentioned earlier. Also the CPM and CPI, have not been reported as far as my knowledge goes, in the past three to four decades, to be into any armed revolution stuff, though violence involving CPM and other political party followers was not uncommon, and happens even today, especially in Kerala which has also seen some deaths in such violence recently. The recent Kerala violence seems to be between the (left-wing) communist party followers and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) followers. I think the left and the right blame each other for this sad violence.

I do not recall seeing anything like today's Communist Party of China's embrace of capitalism and Chinese billionaires in the above mentioned Indian communist parties. Perhaps they are more loyal, in these wealth and income equality/inequality aspects, to their Marxist-Leninist and Maoist tenets than the Communist Party of China is today in 2017.

But, from the world stage perspective, China is portrayed and accepted as a Communist ("with Chinese characteristics") success story! And so even if the Communist Party of China is not really a communist party going by Marx and Lenin political philosophy, they are viewed as communists today! I guess that Sitaram Yechury (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitaram_Yechury), Prakash Karat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prakash_Karat) and Brinda Karat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinda_Karat), three top political leaders of CPM India and who are intellectually capable people, would project China as a communist success story that India can learn from! Russia is no longer communist. Cuba, Vietnam and Laos are too small. North Korea is weird. Perhaps Indian communists today only have China to look up to as a 21st century 'communist state' success story!

So in my social media writings I have to view China as a communist state, and the Communist Party of China as a communist party. I mean, that's what the word, communist, has come to be understood as today, especially in countries like India which are neighbours to China. Mind you, Nepal which is between China and India, also has a big communist party presence.
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What do the words 'communism' and 'communist' mean in today's early 21st century?

From my experience as a social media writer for these past six years, what I have realized is that for such words like communism there are multiple interpretations. There would be the scholarly interpretation which would perhaps mention that there are multiple forms of communism which would be named after the main writers/proponents of it. I think the wikipedia approach where it gives prominence to Marx, Lenin and Mao, as three separate interpretations of communism, may be based on such scholarly (political science scholars mainly, I guess) approaches. Within these, there would be further differentiation on how each of these three developed their views over time.

And then there is the popular/masses understanding of the word in our times today, which also would vary from region to region. My focus in my current posts on communism is on such popular/masses understanding of the term, communism, in today's context, globally and from an Indian perspective. I repeat that in India, communism is still very much alive as a political term with a noted South Indian state, Kerala, having a communist as its chief minister now. The lesser known Indian North-Eastern state of Tripura also has a communist as its chief minister now. I don't think that would be the case in the USA nor would it be the case in Western Europe, as in the post World War II period it is these countries who under the NATO banner were the chief opponents of the post World War II communists with two of the their dominant and very prominent leaders being Stalin of Russia and Mao of China.

Some readers who have spent most of their life in Western Europe and USA may never have known/experienced real life communists (different from socialists) in the countries where they have lived. In my life, it has been different. I repeat that in my young adult life, communism was a noted force in India. It declined after India's financial crisis of 1991 which also was the time the Soviet Union collapsed. I think till 1991 the Soviet Union seems to have been the major ideological support and inspiration base for well known and accepted as part of Indian legal political life (as against banned Maoist type violent revolution guys) Indian communists.

Jyoti Basu

I think I should also mention the name of (Late) Jyoti Basu, former chief minister of (West) Bengal for 23 years at a stretch from 1977 to 2000 making him the longest serving chief minister of India, who may have even become Indian Prime Minister (serious consideration in some alliances in power then). Jyoti Basu was a very respected figure in Indian political circles, who perhaps could not rise to national leadership position due to opposition to communists rising to such power from other national level leaders.

Given below are some extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyoti_Basu

Jyotirindra Basu was born 8 July 1914 at 43/1 Harrison Road (now Mahatma Gandhi Road) in Kolkata (then known as Calcutta) into a very affluent family. His father, Nishikanta Basu, was a doctor settled in Kolkata who hailed from the village of Barudi in Narayanganj District, East Bengal (Bangladesh), while his mother Hemalata Basu was a housewife. Basu grew up in a large Indian-style joint family, consisting of his parents, siblings, paternal uncles, their wives and children. The family, who had lived in a rented house in Kolkata in addition to retaining ancestral properties East Bengal, purchased a spacious mansion at 55-A, Hindustan Road in 1920, and this is where Basu grew up.

Basu's schooling started at Loreto School at Dharmatala in Kolkata in 1920, and he was moved in 1925 to St. Xavier's School. While admitting him to school, Basu's father shortened his name from Jyotirindra Basu to Jyoti Basu, and the shortened name stuck for life. After completing school, Basu took an undergraduate degree in English literature honours from Presidency College, University of Calcutta.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Basu left for England to study law in 1935. In England, he was introduced to politics and became greatly influenced by the Communist Party of Great Britain. He attended lectures by Harold Laski at the London School of Economics and was also influenced by noted Communist ideologue and prolific writer Rajani Palme Dutt, a fellow Bengali. Between 1936 and 1940, Basu involved himself in various political activities, came into contact with several Indian freedom fighters including Nehru, became a member of the India league, and joined the London Majlis. A fuller account of these years is found in a later section. Basu completed his studies in 1939 and was invited to the Middle Temple as a Barrister in 1939. Shortly afterwards, he returned to India by sea, docking at Mumbai and travelling from there to Kolkata by train.
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After returning to India, Basu had become an active member of the Communist Party, to his father's chagrin. After Basanti's [Ravi: Basu's first wife] death, he deepened his involvement, virtually giving up the pretense of earning a living as a lawyer. His legal practice was mostly about providing legal services pro bono to the party and its affiliates, in particular to trade unions. He lived as always with his father and extended family (as per Indian custom) and thus had little need to earn a living.
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The marriage [Ravi: second marriage with Kamala in 1948], which conformed in every way to Indian tradition and convention, was harmonious and lasted until their deaths more than sixty years later.
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In 1952, the couple were blessed with the birth of a son, Subhabrata Basu, fondly known as 'Chandan' by one and all. Chandan, who was to be the couple's only surviving child, was born while Basu was in prison for allegedly seditious activities, having been incarcerated by the Congress-led government of independent India.

Shortly after Chandan was born, Basu's father, Nishikant Basu, wrote a will which disinherited Basu entirely and vested all his property, a considerable fortune which included the massive mansion in Kokata, in the name of his daughter-in-law Kamala, with provision that the property be inherited by Chandan eventually. The elderly bhadralok patrician had been aghast, even distraught, to find that his beloved son had returned from England a communist, and that he had developed over the next decade (the 1940s) into a violent revolutionary. Basu was to say later that the arrangement suited him perfectly, that indeed it had been devised in consultation with him; it ensured that Kamala was always able to feed the family and pay for her son's education, which left Basu free from the tension of having to provide for his wife and son, and enabled him to pursue his political activities exactly as he wanted.
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Entry into politics

Jyoti Basu's first track in politics was his effort to organise the Indian students studying in United Kingdom, mostly for the cause of Indian independence. Basu subsequently joined India League and London Majlis, both the organisations being communities of overseas Indian students. Basu was later elected the General Secretary of London Majlish. Basu was given the responsibility for arranging a meeting with Jawaharlal Nehru during Nehru's visit to London in 1938. The same was done after Subhas Chandra Bose went to England. As a member of London Majlis, Basu introduced the visiting Indian political figures to the leaders of the Labour Party.

Basu was introduced to the Communist Party of Great Britain by another communist leader and Basu's friend in England, Bhupesh Gupta. It is told Basu showed interest to join CPGB but the then Secretary General Harry Pollitt suggested that he should not do so, possibly because CPGB was then banned in India and Pollitt speculated Basu could have difficulties in returning to India as a member of CPGB.

However Basu returned to India in 1940 and immediately contacted the Party leaders. Though he enrolled himself as a barrister in Calcutta High Court, he never practised simply because he was determined to become a wholetimer of the Party.

Basu became the secretary of Friends of Soviet Union and Anti-Fascist Writers' Association in Kolkata. As a member of the Party, his initial task was to maintain liaison with underground Party leaders. He was entrusted with responsibilities on the trade union front from 1944. In that year, Bengal Assam Railroad Workers' Union was formed and Basu became its first secretary. In 1944 Basu became involved in trade union activities when CPI delegated him to work amongst the railway labourers. When B.N. Railway Workers Union and B.D. Rail Road Workers Union merged, Basu became the general secretary of the union. In 1946, Basu was elected to the Bengal Provincial Assembly from the Railway Workers constituency. Ratanlal Bramhan and Rupnarayan Roy were the other two Communists who were elected. From that day on, Basu became one of the most popular and influential legislators for decades to come.

Basu played a very active role in the stormy days of 1946–47 when Bengal witnessed the Tebhaga movement, workers strikes and even communal riots.

In the late 1940s, Basu served as the Vice-President of the All India Railwaymen's Federation until Communists were expelled from the union for attempt to organize strikes after the union had withdrawn its strike notice.

Jyoti Basu was the secretary of the West Bengal Provincial Committee of the Party from 1953 to January 1961. He was elected to the Central Committee of the Party in 1951. He was a member of the Politburo from 1964 onwards. He was elected as a special invitee to PB in 19th Congress of the Party in 2008.

After the country gained independence, he was elected to the assembly from Baranagar in 1952. He was elected to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1991 and 1996. Though an elected member, Basu was arrested several times during the 1950s and 60s and for certain periods he went underground to evade arrest by the police.

In 1962, Jyoti Basu was one amongst the 32 members of the National Council who walked out of the meeting. When the CPI(M) was formed in 1964 as a result of the ideological struggle within the Communist movement, Basu became a member of the Politburo. He was, in fact, the last surviving member of the "Navaratnas", the nine members of the first Politburo. The leftist section, to which the 32 National Council members belonged, organised a convention in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh 7 to 11 July. It was here where the radical sections of party further showed their pro-Chinese stand. The Tenali convention was marked by the display of a large portrait of the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong.

Later political career

Basu was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1946, contesting the Railway constituency. He served as the Leader of Opposition for a long time when Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy was the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Jyoti Basu led a number of agitations against the State Government and earned enviable popularity as a politician particularly among the students and youth. Beside organising the movements of the Railway Labourers, he led a movement by the teachers demanding a hike in salary. When the Communist Party of India split in 1964, Basu became one of the first nine members of the Politburo of the newly formed Communist Party of India (Marxist). In 1967 and 1969, Basu became Deputy Chief Minister of West Bengal in the United Front governments. In 1967, after the defeat of the Congress Government, Jyoti Basu was sworn-in as the Deputy Chief Minister under the Chief Ministership of Ajoy Mukherjee. In 1970, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at the Patna railway station. Though CPI(M) became the single largest party in the assembly elections in 1971, the party was refused the chance to form a ministry and presidents' Rule was imposed in West Bengal.

Through the 1972 elections the Congress returned to power in West Bengal. Jyoti Basu lost the elections from the Baranagar Assembly Constituency. Basu famously declared the new assembly as "assembly of the frauds" and CPI(M) boycotted the assembly for the next five years.

As the Chief Minister of West Bengal

After the sweeping victory of the Left Front in 1977, Jyoti Basu became the Chief Minister of the Left Front government, a position he held continuously for more than 23 years, a record in the country. Under his leadership, the Left Front government embarked on land reforms on a scale unprecedented in the country; it instituted a panchayati raj system which was radical for its times, which gave the poor peasants and small farmers a say in running the panchayati institutions. As per leftists, West Bengal became an oasis of communal harmony and secular values under his leadership as there were always reports of communal clashes in West Bengal[citation needed], while various measures were introduced to promote social and economic development in West Bengal, however these measures never fully gave results expected and West Bengal remains a poverty ridden state. Basic land reform was instituted, while irrigation and rural electrification were extended. In addition, India's first comprehensive system of democratic decentralisation was established. Agricultural production came out of a slump that it had been in for decades before the Left Front came to power, and during the Eighties and Nineties the state showed the highest rates of agricultural growth among the 17 most populous Indian states. As a result of institutional changes and agricultural growth, levels of nutrition improved and rural poverty declined noticeably.

One has to recall how as Chief Minister he dealt with the situation after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 when violence against Sikhs broke out in various parts of the country, but nothing was allowed to happen in West Bengal. Similarly he dealt firmly with efforts to instigate trouble after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

In 1996 Jyoti Basu seemed all set to be the consensus leader of the United Front for the post of Prime Minister of India. However, the CPI(M) Politburo decided not to participate in the government, a decision that Jyoti Basu later termed a historic blunder. H.D. Deve Gowda from the Janata Dal instead became prime minister. Basu resigned from the Chief Ministership of West Bengal in 2000 for health reasons, and was succeeded by fellow CPI(M) politician Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. As of 2014, Basu holds the record for being the longest-serving Chief Minister in Indian political history.
...
In the course of seven decades of work in the Communist party, Basu spent three and a half years in prison and two years underground. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the setbacks to socialism, he provided the leadership along with his colleagues in the Politburo to make a reappraisal of the experience of building socialism and to pinpoint the errors and to correct wrong notions and understandings while remaining true to Marxism–Leninism. He was a Marxist who was not dogmatic and continued to learn from his vast experience in charting out the course for the Party.

He emerged as the pre-eminent and most popular leader of the Party, but he always worked as a disciplined member of the Party, setting an example for all. In his long career in the Party, he undertook various responsibilities including being the first editor of People's Democracy. He had a lifelong association with the trade union movement and was the Vice-President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions since its inception in 1970.

Some commentators feel Basu was more of a democratic socialist than a traditional Communist. "He made Communism look respectable," according to Sabyasachi Basu Roy Choudhuri, a Calcutta-based political analyst.

Criticism

Sumon K Chakrabarti, the national affairs correspondent for CNN-IBN, said in his blog that during Basu's tenure as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the state saw continuous industrial decline. Basu has been criticised for the initial support of trade unions against the use of computers, which affected employment; and the charge that his party members engaged in corruption and rigging of elections.

Death, tribute and legacy

On 1 January 2010, Basu was admitted to AMRI hospital (Bidhannagar, Kolkata) after he was diagnosed with pneumonia. On 16 January 2010, his health condition became extremely critical and he was suffering from multiple organ failure. Seventeen days after being taken ill, he died on 17 January 2010 at 11:47 am IST.

The death was followed by public mourning on an unprecedented scale. Draped in the party flag, Basu's body was driven through the streets of Calcutta on a gun carriage. However, the time schedule went awry in his last moments as thousands of people thronged the streets of central Kolkata to pay their last respects. Police and volunteers wore a helpless look as a sea of people poured in from every possible corner of the city. President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in mourning.

Tributes poured in from politicians across the country. While Patil said "the nation has lost a veteran and eminent public figure," Manmohan Singh said Basu was a politician to whom he often turned for "sagacious advice". Basu was a leader "who displayed his abilities as a leader of the people, an able administrator and eminent statesman", the president said in a statement. "In the years after he relinquished the Chief Ministry, he continued to be looked upon as an elder statesman, whose advice was sought by many political leaders in the state," the president added.

In a message to Jyoti Basu's son Chandan, Manmohan Singh said: "He was a powerful regional voice in the national political scene and helped to strengthen Indian federalism... He was a man of great integrity with a deep commitment to secular values." He added:"I have personally had a very long association with Basu. On many occasions in my career, I turned to him for his sagacious advice on all matters, whether they related to West Bengal or to issues of national importance". Vice President Hamid Ansari said Basu had left behind a void that would be difficult to fill. "His sagacity and leadership at both the state and the national level have been a source of inspiration and guidance," Ansari said in a statement.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that Basu led for several years expressed "profound grief", saying he was a Marxist who was not dogmatic. "Jyoti Basu was a Marxist who never wavered in his convictions. He was a Marxist who was not dogmatic and continued to learn from his vast experience in charting out the course for the party," the CPI-M politburo said. "There will be none like Jyoti Basu again," was how CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat saluted a man he had prevented from becoming the prime minister in 1996. Karat, who influenced the CPI-M to block Basu from taking charge of the United Front government in 1996, said that the former West Bengal chief minister "was a great leader of the CPI-M, the Left movement and India. With his passing away, an era has passed". Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja paid glowing tributes to the Marxist patriarch, saying he could have proved to be a great prime minister. "He (Basu) proved that the coalition of Left parties would work successfully and serve the people greatly. He could have proved to be a great prime minister also," Raja said.

Former Lok Sabha speaker and Communist leader Somnath Chatterjee said he had lost someone like his father. "When things started to go bad (in Left front), he was sad. He was sad about what happened with me. I used to consult him on all matters. For the second time, I have lost somebody like my father," said an emotional Chatterjee.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said he would miss a well-wisher. "In his death, I have lost a great well-wisher, and the country has lost an able administrator, an outstanding parliamentarian and a charismatic political leader," Mukherjee told reporters.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the staunchest anti-Communist force in the country, mourned the death of the Marxist leader, describing him as a "role model for Indian politics". In a moving tribute, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley told reporters here that Basu, who was West Bengal's chief minister for 23 long years, was one of the "tallest leaders" in Indian politics with "high credibility". "He was devoted to his ideology and played the longest innings in Indian politics," Jaitley said. Former prime minister and senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee said Basu's demise had "ended a chapter in the country's politics".

Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters in Kolkata: "He was a colossus who straddled India's political scene for many decades. Not only the leader of West Bengal, but of India. He was a great patriot, great democrat, great parliamentarian and great source of inspiration. He served the people of India to the best." he said.

Basu had pledged to donate his body and eyes for medical research on 4 April 2003 at a function organised by Ganadarpan and Susrut Eye Foundation in Kolkata and not to be burned at a crematorium. His eyes are donated to Susrut Eye Foundation. He is survived by his son Chandan, daughter-in-law Rakhi, grand daughters Payel, Doyel and Koyel, offsprings of his first daughter-in-law Dolly (separated with son Chandan in 1998), and grand son Subhojyoti, offspring of daughter-in-law Rakhi. His second wife Kamala Basu had died on 1 October 2003. Basu's body was kept at 'Peace Haven' for those who wanted to pay their respects. His body was handed over to SSKM Hospital, Kolkata for research on 19 January 2010 around 16:50 pm IST after a guard of honour at the nearby Moharkunja park (formerly, citizens' park). The hospital authority is considering preserving his brain.

The Trinamool Congress-run government [Ravi: new political party under Mamata Bannerjee, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamata_Banerjee, that defeated CPM in Bengal and is in power now] has decided not to rename Rajarhat New Town after Jyoti Basu. The renaming proposal was a part of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2010, passed in the assembly during the Left Front regime. A programme was even held at Rajarhat in October 2010 on the township's renaming.

--- end extracts from wiki page of Jyoti Basu ----

Ravi: Perhaps no country in post World War II Western Europe or the USA had any communist comparable to Jyoti Basu, as communism had become a scary thing for post World War II Western Europe or the USA.

Some readers may not know that another communist, Somnath Chatterjee (mentioned in wiki extracts above), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somnath_Chatterjee, rose to become speaker of the Lok Sabha (Indian lower - and more powerful - house of parliament) from 2004 to 2009 (under UPA I govt. of Manmohan Singh).

Given the significant though never dominant role Indian communist parties and its leaders like Jyoti Basu have played in post-Independence India, understanding communist ideologues', especially Marx and Lenin's, views about religion, is important for me. That is what would have been learned and ruminated upon by Indian communists over the decades, and that would be continuing even today among communists in Indian states like Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.

Extraordinary friendship between communist and atheist Jyoti Basu and Christian missionary and charitable service leader Mother Teresa

Jyoti Basu was a contemporary of Mother Teresa who was also based in Bengal. I read that Basu had great respect for the humanitarian work done by Mother Teresa, and his communist party govt. in Bengal provided her good support for her work.

Here's an interesting article about them: Basu and Mother Teresa: a special association, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Basu-and-Mother-Teresa-a-special-association/article16838193.ece, January 2010

It quotes a personal aide of Mr. Basu as saying, “The special association between Jyoti Basu and Mother Teresa was marked by a mutual admiration that they felt for each other. As far as Mr. Basu was concerned, there were standing instructions that should she ever seek an appointment with him, there was to be no delay”.

Another quote attributed to Mr. Basu in the article is: “She makes me a bad Marxist since she makes me believe in godliness” with 'She' being Mother Teresa.

Here's an article from Navin Chawla, the official biographer of Mother Teresa, who was known to her for a long time, and who is a (former, I guess) bureaucrat who rose to chief election commissioner of India: An unusual friendship, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/An-unusual-friendship/article16838194.ece, Jan. 2010.

It states that when Navin Chawla asked Basu about what he, being a communist and atheist, could have in common with Mother Teresa, Basu said, "We both share a love for the poor."

The article mentions how Jyoti Basu would regularly check on Mother Teresa's health when she was hospitalized, and that when Jyoti Basu was unwell, Mother Teresa would visit him and say prayers.

Mother Teresa died in Sept. 1997. Jyoti Basu, then chief minister of West Bengal, was in charge of Mother Teresa's state funeral in West Bengal's capital Kolkata (Calcutta) which Mother Teresa viewed as her home city, which is reported to have been organized very well. A small extract from the article: "During the first part of the actual ceremony, where religious rites were also being administered, Jyoti Basu chose not to be present. Like a good communist, he entered at exactly the moment when these ended, and the civic part of the ceremony began. But I saw his imprint in every last detail."

Could a Mother Teresa phenomenon have happened in communist China, like it happened in partly communist ruled Bengal state of India?

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa, we read that Mother Teresa moved to India in 1929 when she would have been around 19 years old. She served in catholic convent schools (e.g. Loreto convent) in Bengal till 1948. She left Loreto covent and started her missionary work for the poor in Kolkata around 1948 at which time she adopted Indian citizenship and started wearing the traditional Indian dress of sari (she wore simple white cotton saris with a blue border).

From her wiki page:

In 1950 Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation which had over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries in 2012. The congregation manages homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children's- and family-counselling programmes; orphanages, and schools. Members, who take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, also profess a fourth vow: to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor".
--- end wiki extract ---

While Mother Teresa's organization spread over the whole world, the headquarters was and still is, in Kolkata (Calcutta). Further, she had a special love and attachment for Kolkata and Bengal (Kolkata is the capital of Bengal).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chief_Ministers_of_West_Bengal shows that after Indian independence (in 1947) Bengal was largely ruled by Indian National Congress till April 1977 though there were periods of rule by other alliances that included the communists, as well as president's rule. It seems that from the mid-60s onwards till June 1977 the communists were a significant political force in Bengal with participation in some governments but never being fully in power (in some such governments the Deputy chief minister was a communist). From June 1977 till May 2011, an almost 34 year period, Bengal was under continuous Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) rule!

Jyoti Basu was Bengal's chief minister from 1977 till 2000 (and deputy chief minister in 1967 and 1969 in a 'United Front' alliance government). Mother Teresa died in 1997. So for the last twenty years of her life, Mother Teresa and her charitable missionary organization headquarters were located in a city and state (Kolkata and Bengal) that were under communist party rule! Astonishingly, Mother Teresa and her orgn. not only did not face any persecution or harassment from the communist party state government in Bengal but were supported in their charitable work by it! Perhaps it was in these last two decades of Mother Teresa's life that she rose to the biggest heights of her international fame during her lifetime, including winning the Nobel Peace prize in 1979.

I cannot imagine a communist leader of a state in China allowing a Christian missionary like Mother Teresa to rise to such fame. I mean, it would have been a huge embarrassment to the Communist Party of China! Therefore I don't think a Mother Teresa like phenomenon would have been allowed to happen in any state in communist China, like it happened in partly communist ruled Bengal state of India.

[I thank wikipedia 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.]