Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Terror camps in Pakistan launching terror attacks in India are the problem

Given below are contents (same title as this post) of my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2425810464302183, dated 26th Feb. 2019

Here's the Indian Ministry of External Affairs statement on the IAF (Indian Air Force) surgical strike against terror camps in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied/Administered Kashmir: https://www.mea.gov.in/media-briefings.htm?dtl/31090/Statement_by_Foreign_Secretary_on_26_February_2019_on_the_Strike_on_JeM_training_camp_at_Balakot

As an Indian citizen and resident, I support the destruction of terror camps in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied/Administered Kashmir as described in above statement. I salute the bravery of the Indian armed forces and others who provided support to them, for this surgical strike which is intended to protect India and Indians from terrorists trained in bases in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied/Administered Kashmir.

The problem is with terrorism and not with Pakistan as a country or Pakistani people who stay away from such terrorists.

I pray to God that terrorism, especially terrorism done in the name of badly misinterpreted religion, is rooted out in Pakistan and in parts of India that are affected by it.

I further pray to God that this matter does not escalate into a bigger armed and violent conflict involving Indian and Pakistani armed forces as that will cause untold suffering to many Indians and Pakistanis, both from the armed forces and civilians.

What has to be defeated for the people of India and Pakistan to grow and prosper and be happy, is terrorism.

Ishwar Maalik! Allah Maalik! Sabka Maalik Ek! [The God/master of Hindus and Muslims (and others) is one (and the same).]

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Sathya Sai on Draupadi cursing silent witnesses of her horrific humiliation; Bhagavan teaches that people should not be silent witnesses to wrong acts but advise and correct concerned people

Last updated on 7th March 2019

I have put up this video taken from https://www.facebook.com/PathOfTransformation/videos/824751827869336/ on my youtube channel here: Sathya Sai On Draupadi Cursing Silent Witnesses of her horrific humiliation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROEWGWw-Lkk (mentioning that the Video Courtesy is Path of Transformation). The video is 1 min 17 secs long. [The reason why I put it up additionally on my youtube channel is to provide more exposure to Sathya Sai teachings on the Internet. There is no profit motive whatsoever for this action.]

From the description of the youtube video:

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba tells us about how Draupadi cursed silent witnesses to act of her being humiliated in open court. I am quite sure that Bhagavan is referring to Draupadi's horrific humiliation in open court of the Kauravas. An attempt is made by Kaurava prince Dushasana egged on by other Kauravas to disrobe Draupadi in the open court. Only Vikura and Vidura object but their objections are overruled. As she is getting disrobed, Draupadi prays intensely to Krishna and a miracle ensues where her robe becomes longer and longer so that Dushasana is not able to disrobe her and gives up the effort. For more on it, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draupadi#The_game_of_dice.

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba speaks about Draupadi cursing not only the perpetrators who attempted that vile act but also those who in open court were silent witnesses to it. Then Bhagavan uses this example to teach that people should not be silent witnesses to such acts but attempt to advise and correct the people who are indulging in those bad acts.

Video courtesy: Path of Transformation Facebook video: https://www.facebook.com/PathOfTransformation/videos/824751827869336/
--- end youtube video description ---

Transcript of English translation of Bhagavan's words in the video, based largely on English subtitles in the video but with some variation (provided in parentheses), is given below:

That day in the court Draupadi cursed.
The one committed the (wrong/sin), the one who watches the (wrong/sin), the one who has not objected, and the one who remained silent, ALL (four) are sinners.
All these four are sinners.
Not only the one who has committed the (wrong/sin),
the one who watches is also a sinner.
The one who watches without obstructing is also a sinner.
You are seeing. Why don't you obstruct?
If you think, "Why should I bother?", then you are also (a) sinner.
Therefore in this way if anyone commits a (wrong) or talks in a (wrong) way
we should teach them.
In this way, develop brotherhood attitude, correct one another,
rectify our defects (and) lead an ideal life.
For this reason, our (educational institutions have been) started.
-----

I saw this video earlier in FB post (from where I made a copy), https://www.facebook.com/PathOfTransformation/videos/824751827869336/, where I (Ravi) wrote on 25th Feb. 2019:

Excellent video clip where Bhagavan Himself is explaining that those who watch sin (Asathya-Adharma) silently (and are in a position to say something or do something to stop the sin) are committing a wrong deed. Silence in the face of Madhusudan Naidu committing spiritual fraud using our beloved Lord Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's name, when one is in a position to speak up and/or do something against it, has to be viewed as a wrong deed, based on this video clip of Bhagavan, IMHO.
---

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Muddenahalli group, spiritually led by Narasimhamurthy and Madhusudan Naidu, has been a huge and very painful test of Dharma for Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system and Sathya Sai movement at large

I felt it appropriate to share a recent comment (slightly edited) I made on Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/vr.ganti.1/posts/10214246437299514 :

--Name-snipped-- Good reference to Mahabharata war. I have been able to come to terms to some extent with what happened after Mahasamadhi in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system (including its institutions like the Sai university) and the Sathya Sai movement in general, by comparing it to the Pandavas - Kauravas struggle which led to the horrific fratricidal war, the Mahabharata, resulting in huge level of killing of the ruling elite of the concerned kingdoms then.

In our case it was not actual violence (and thank God & Sathya Sai Avatar's teachings on peace for that), but the betrayal and the horrific level of nasty groupism and politics that was indulged in by the people in position ***and their donor-supporters and other-kind supporters***, was similar. Perhaps that is the weakness of human nature.

Pope Alexander VI's reign as pope (1492 to 1503), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI, tells us that such human weaknesses and human society weaknesses are common to Asian and European society (and probably is the case in all human societies/civilizations). Note that Pope Alexander VI's reign ended 14 years before Martin Luther, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther, the Protestant reformer published his Ninety-five Theses in 1517 questioning practice and efficacy of indulgences, and which eventually led to his excommunication in 1521 (on 3rd Jan. 1521) by Pope Leo X, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Leo_X, and being condemned as an outlaw by the "Holy Roman Emperor" Charles V, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_V,_Holy_Roman_Emperor. That set the stage for the Protestant reformation in Europe along with horrific wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_wars_of_religion.

Arjuna was not (just) lazy [I am referring to words in comment that I am responding to]. He did not want to fight his own teachers and his own family elders like Bhishmacharya, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhishma, and Dronacharya, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drona. His anger was against his Kaurava cousin brothers but not against Bhishma and Drona, whom he revered as elders and teachers. Krishna told Arjuna that as a Kshatriya prince (warrior caste prince) it was his duty to fight for Dharma, and that if he withdrew from this fight for Dharma, he will be known (and go down in posterity) as a coward. Krishna succeeded in convincing Arjuna to fight even if it meant that he had to fight and sometimes kill his own teachers and elders for whom he had reverence!

For all the noble things that Bhisma and Drona were famous for, they failed the big test of Dharma when they sided with the Adharmic (unrighteous) and evil Kaurava king and princes in whose court they were serving, at key moments including at the time the decision was taken by the Kaurava king and princes to spurn the peace offer of the Pandavas which Krishna had offered them, and go to war with the Pandavas resulting in Mahabharata war.

I think the unpleasant truth is that during the huge and very painful test of Dharma that Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system and the Sathya Sai movement went through after Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Mahasamadhi, many people behaved like Bhisma and Drona and sided with the Asathya & Adharma of Muddenahalli group which started first with Narasimhamurthy (falsely) claiming to be dream-instruction successor of Sathya Sai, and later progressed to Narasimhamurthy backing the (false) claim of Madhusudan Naidu of being a so-called communicator and later a so-called embodiment, of the so-called subtle body/spirit of Sathya Sai based in Muddenahalli.

From sometime in end 2014 if I recall correctly, Vr Ganti sir has contributed in a big way to informing the Sathya Sai fraternity at large about the betrayal that happened during this immediate post-Mahasamadhi period by Muddenahalli group and its supporters (with some supporters being from Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system when Muddenahalli group had its people in positions of power in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system). It is truthful knowledge/information about these sad betrayal events that is helping Sathya-Dharma supporters in Sathya Sai movement to oppose and make efforts to overcome the disinformation spread by Muddenahalli group. I think it is such truthful knowledge/information being shared with Sathya Sai fraternity at large, that played a vital role in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system bosses (SSSCT trustees mainly) reasserting their power over paid and free service staff from sometime in mid 2016 when they dismissed (or discontinued using the services of) few teachers from the Sai school and one teacher from the Sai university run by Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system (SSSCT), who had associated with Muddenahalli group.

I second --Name-snipped--'s statement, "Ganti (sir) keep fighting for the truth, follow your heart and God bless!" Jai Sai Ram!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Disturbing history of Pope Alexander VI (1492 to 1503) including how he handled being challenged by reformist Dominican friar Savonarola

Today has been a pretty disturbing reading & viewing day for me. While I was aware of some really nasty stuff done by Popes in the past, I had no idea that the history of Pope Alexander VI was so scary and so disturbing. This includes how he got a reformist challenger, the Dominican friar Savonarola, executed.

But there are views that Alexander VI behaved as per the times. This view says that the problem was that the Roman Catholic Church had got corrupted and had a lot of nasty politics in those times which sometimes involved murder, executions and even war. So it is unfair to view Alexander VI alone as bad or evil.

Alexander VI is also praised by some as having been a capable Pope, given the times then.

I forced myself to go through this history as I think that as I write on spirituality & religion, I must know this.

For those readers who would like to go through this history, here are some links that I went through.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girolamo_Savonarola

I saw a History channel video on Pope Alexander VI but it is so anti Pope Alexander VI that I suspect that it is a biased video. So I am not giving the video link here.

Machiavelli's The Prince, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prince, refers to the Borgia family (Alexander VI and his son Cesare Borgia are mentioned).

A few quotes from The Prince:
He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.

Men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? One should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved.   [Ref: http://ianchadwick.com/machiavelli/chapters-15-21/chapter-17-better-to-be-feared-than-loved/]

NYT article about Catholic priests who have children but hide their fatherhood; Suggested solution of making celibacy optional for priests

Vatican’s Secret Rules for Catholic Priests Who Have Children, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/world/europe/priests-children-vatican-rules-celibacy.html, 18th Feb. 2019

This is a shocker for me! Just shows how many people may have been raised in a similar way without knowing that their father was a supposedly celibate Catholic priest!

The article provide a suggestion for a solution:
"For the church, stories like Mr. Doyle’s draw uncomfortable attention to the violation of celibacy by priests and, for some former clerics and liberals inside the church, raise the issue of whether it is time to make the requirement optional, as it is in other Christian churches."

Ravi: I think that's the way forward for the Roman Catholic Church. Make celibacy optional! Don't give the priest the option of:

Either holding on to his job and hiding his fatherhood

OR marrying and openly raising the child that he is the father of, but after quitting his job.

The priest should be able to marry and raise his child in a wholesome way, and hold his priest job.

The NYT article refers to Pope Alexander VI openly acknowledging his four children from a mistress! The wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI, confirms it. Alexander VI was pope from 1492 to 1503. The wiki page describes a completely compromised papacy of Alexander VI where nepotism, power and wealth grab were the main highlights of the papacy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Good to see the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia being received warmly by President and Prime Minister of India

Last updated on 21st Feb. 2019

Ceremonial Reception of Mohammed Bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTM2HNV7CHM, 10 min. 35 secs.

After the guard of honour, towards the end of the video, the Crown Prince speaks a few words about relationship between Arabian peninsula (represented by Saudi Arabia as 80% of Arabian peninsula) and India going back to thousands of years and being in the DNA of people of India and Arabian peninsula.

The Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman spoke warmly about Saudi Arabia and India relationship and that was very nice to hear.

For me as a writer on spirituality and religion, Saudi Arabia is a very important country due to Mecca and Medina being in that country. Islam is an important religion in India and I have had the good fortune of having quite a few Indian Muslim friends in my life in Mumbai and surrounding areas, and I also taught a few Muslim students during my free service stint in the Sai university in Puttaparthi. I must add that my life in Puttaparthi has been enriched by many Muslim residents of Puttaparthi (other than Sai university students) who I have interacted with and continue to interact with.

Haji Ali in Mumbai has been one of the Muslim shrines that I have visited and felt inspired. Note that Mumbai and surrounding coastal areas has had sea links with Arabian peninsula for thousands of years.

Shirdi Sai Baba has been, and continues to be, a great inspiration in my spiritual life. He led the life of a Sufi Muslim fakir who used to frequently say, "Allah Maalik" (Allah/God is the owner/master). Shirdi Sai Baba preached harmony between religions, especially between his Hindu and Muslim devotees, and would say, "Sabka Maalik Ek" [The owner/master of all is one.]

In my considered view, tolerant Islam like Shirdi Sai Baba's Sufi Islam has enriched India's religious life in a significant way. In my individual case, Sufi Islam has enriched my life significantly, without any shade of doubt.

And so I am happy to see the top representative (Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, being warmly received by President and PM of India and the warmth shown by him (Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) towards India.
-----

PM Modi & Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman at a Joint Press Meet, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLtAjcR2Jtk, 17 min. 46 secs.
-----

Saudi Arabia increases India's Haj quota to 2 lakh after Modi-Salman talks, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/saudi-arabia-increases-indias-haj-quota-to-2-lakh-after-modi-salman-talks/articleshow/68083930.cms, 20th Feb. 2019

This year, India will be sending second largest number of Haj pilgirms after Indonesia!

It just shows how vital Islam in India is to global Islam. When Islam in India follows peaceful and loving Islam (Sufi Islam type) which has a friendly relationship with people of other religions like Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism, then that becomes a model for global Islam to follow in what now is surely a multi-religion world, has been a multi-religion world for millennia, and will continue to be a multi-religion world for the foreseeable future, IMHO.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Public statement regretting lapse in discrimination by noted Sai devotees who briefly succumbed to Muddenahalli group spiritual fraud will help preserve fair legacy of theirs

Yesterday afternoon in the main road of Puttaparthi (outside ashram), I had a small one-to-one interaction with an elder Sai devotee who had come under the sway of spiritual fraud Madhusudan Naidu for a brief period some years ago, after which he now seems to have kept away from Madhusudan Naidu and Muddenahalli group. He told me that he does not go there now and I believe what he told me to be true.

I suggested to him that he could make a public statement about him now keeping away from Madhusudan Naidu (spiritual fraud) and Muddenahalli (MDH) group. While I don't think I told him specifically that he should say in it that it was a mistake on his part to get associated with Madhusudan Naidu (spiritual fraud) and MDH group, I think I implied it. I also told him that Aravind Balasubramanya, Sai university alumnus and Radio Sai staff, had made such a public statement some years ago. He was not aware that Aravind Balasubramanya had associated with Muddenahalli group for a short time and then disassociated, and he was not aware of the public statement that Aravind Balasubramanya had made.

I either told him or implied to him that he could do something similar to what Aravind Balasubramanya had done in his public statement.

Finally I told him that I was sorry if anything I said had hurt him. I also said that I respect him as an elder who has served Swami for many years (decades, I believe).

He told me that he would think about the matter. [Note that our conversation touched upon some other things too which are not covered in this post.]

Later yesterday evening/night, I saw that a Facebook (FB) friend had liked my 4th May 2016 post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1737279139821989, about Aravind Balasubramanya's statement on 3rd May 2016 (same statement that I have referred to above)! Today, perhaps as that activity of an FB friend liking the over two and half years ago post got reported on walls of some other FB friends of mine, two other FB friends liked it too (possibly today morning sometime).

So a real/physical world one-to-one interaction I had with the Sai devotee elder seems to have had an impact on my Facebook (social media/virtual) world. And there have been other occasions where something I have said on Facebook and blog (social media) has impacted my real/physical world life. I guess as I now have been a social media writer on controversial Muddenahalli matter for close to four years now, which seems to interest many readers (though only a few interact with comments and likes), there is a lot of interplay between my real life in Puttaparthi and my social media (virtual) life.

I would like to say something more about such public statements by noted Sai devotees who succumbed to Madhusudan Naidu and/or Muddenahalli group FALSE CLAIMS and spiritual fraud for a brief period and then have moved away from them (MDH group).

I think for those Sai devotees who have been in the Sai fraternity public eye as speakers, writers and teachers on/of Sathya Sai teachings and life, and spirituality in general, but who had temporarily come under the spiritual fraud spell of MDH group, such public statements go a long way in preserving a fair legacy of theirs. Lack of a public statement by such noted Sai devotees will keep their legacy under a cloud for Prasanthi Nilayam Sathya Sai devotees. I think that is the unpleasant truth. So I think it would be wise on part of such noted Sai devotees (speakers, writers & teachers) who temporarily came under bad spell of Muddenahalli spiritual fraud but later saw the light and moved away from them, to make a public statement about it where they regret their lapse in discrimination/judgement about Madhusudan Naidu and Muddenahalli group spiritual fraud which goes against the public teachings and instructions of our beloved and revered Gurudev (spiritual master) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I am quite sure that such public statements will be well received by Prasanthi Nilayam Sathya Sai devotees, and it will play a significant role in such Sai devotees being more accepted and more trusted by Prasanthi Nilayam Sathya Sai devotees in future.
=================================================

Given below are some comment exchanges on my Facebook post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2419936654889564, associated with this post:

Aravind Balasubramanyam wrote: "I mean, "aravind had associated with the MDH group for a short time" is incorrect! There was no Madhu, tigrett, srinivas etc. What "group" then?
I don't like how the post misleads the reader into thinking that I was associated for a while and I came out of the group.

Reading my original post makes so much sense. No wonder the elder was surprised with what was said. It is a lie and am disappointed.

I hope the post is suitably edited. In fact, it is better to simply quote what I wrote."

I (Ravi) responded:
You did visit them and speak there. If that is not association what else is it?
...
You write in your post, "I also wrote an article about the first school he planned to start." He being Narasimhamurthy. Is that not association and support?
...
You write in your post, "So, when Narasimhamoorthy sir called me and said,
“There are devotees from Singapore coming over for a retreat at Muddenahalli. Would you speak for an hour about your experiences? I will arrange a taxi for your to and fro travel. Get your parents as well... You will also be permitted to visit Swami’s room here...”

Naturally, I was very excited and I agreed. I also went there and spoke to a group of devotees about my experiences with Swami as His student."

Is that not association with Muddenahalli group? Of course it is. You seem to have a problem with accepting the truth and so you are referring to what I said as a lie. [Oh you seem to have edited it now. I don't see the word lie.]

I think the words association and short time I have used in my post are correct.
...

And I have linked to my post which links to your post. So interested readers can easily see your original post.
...

The lie part has reappeared in Aravind Balasubramanya's comment.
----

I (Ravi) wrote (slightly edited):
I have been blocked by Aravind Balasubramanya as he is upset with my using the words that he had associated with Muddenahalli group for a brief time. He put up a comment to which I have responded quoting from his original post (which is no longer viewable to me as he has blocked me).

If readers feel that my using the words "Aravind Balasubramanya had associated with Muddenahalli group for a short time and then disassociated", given the quotes I have provided in the comment exchange with him above (inner level comments), I would like to discuss it with them.
----

I (Ravi) wrote:
I think in this Muddenahalli and Narasimhamurthy matter, nobody should consider himself/herself above being questioned. It is this arrogance that I am a famous person and I have had so much physical interactions with Swami and all that, that leads some to believe that other Sai devotees cannot question them on matters relating to them having associated with Muddenahalli group in the past.

Nelson Mandela and his supporters adopted a "Truth and Reconciliation" approach after apartheid was removed in South Africa as a way for people to know the truth and then work together in South Africa.

I think it should be the same for Prasanthi Nilayam. Those who associated with Muddenahalli in the past by visiting them and giving an impression to devotees there that they support Narasimhamurthy, but later came out of that spell, should share it with Prasanthi Nilayam Sathya Sai devotees.

My view is that in spirituality, it is acceptance of truth and genuine repentance that leads to spiritual growth. Arrogantly trying to deny the truth can only get one into psychological denial traps, and stunt one's spiritual growth.

I also felt it appropriate to mention that Aravind Balasubramanya put up his original post on the matter (in May 2016), only in the context of Muddenahalli group using a screenshot of him "addressing a gathering there" to convey the ***false*** view that he was supportive of them in a later period when that was not the case. His statement says that he visited them and spoke there (which in my view is associating with them), and was interacting with them for a short while in 2013 and then he seems to have got out of that bad spell that he had fallen into.

I think people who briefly got caught up in MDH group and are out now, should come forward voluntarily and make public statements about it (and not because MDH group puts up some pic/video showing that they had been with them in the past). That would be a spiritually honest and brave and noble thing to do.

Hiding such things and/or arrogantly trying to call people who speak about such things liars are NOT spiritually honest, brave and noble things to do, in my considered opinion.
----

I (Ravi) wrote:
I was wondering what should be the appropriate action for me to do in response to Aravind Balasubramanya's aggression against me for speaking the truth, and for blocking me on Facebook.

Note that he was not a Facebook friend of mine. He had unfriended me some time back.

I decided that the best response from my side is to block him too on Facebook. And I did that just a little while back.

We don't interact at individual level when we come across each other in Puttaparthi. So no change there.
----

I (Ravi) wrote:
Prasanthi Nilayam system should not turn into the Roman Catholic Church where there are some bigshots who cannot be questioned by devotees. That is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, we should have an atmosphere where people, especially people who are given important positions with respect to spreading Swami's teachings, are held accountable by the devotee community.

Bullying by people in position in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram should NOT be tolerated. That can lead to terrible abuse of power which impacts not only the bullies but negatively impacts the institution itself.

It is because Shashidhara Prasad, the traitor Vice-chancellor of Sai university got away with bullying SSSIHL staff who dared to resist him that Muddenahalli group was able to grow ***unhindered*** even in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system so long as Prasad was VC (till Nov. 2014). Nobody dared say a word publicly against Narasimhamurthy & Shashidhara Prasad! Note that it was in 2013 when Aravind Balasubramanya was interacting with Narasimhamurthy and visited Muddenahalli and gave some speech there. That was a period when a lot of the alumni-staff and some non alumni-staff of Prasanthi Nilayam ashram system itself were under the sway of Narasimhamurthy & Shashidhara Prasad. Whether people aggressively attack me for saying so and call me a liar or whatever, it does not change the truth. People who are truthful will agree with me that what I have said above is the truth.

I was bullied by Shashidhara Prasad in July 2011 on some academic matter where the HOD was dead against my successful work with students in getting to know and contribute a little via bug fixes to Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini project software developed by TCS. How Shashidhara Prasad shouted at me as soon as I entered the VC's chamber! It was as if I had committed some heinous crime!

As my designation was Visiting Faculty (free service), I was not in a position to challenge him (Visiting Faculty services can be terminated without giving any reason according to Indian university rules). Further, I felt at that time that in Bhagaan's physical absence and at a traumatic time for us in Prasanthi Nilayam system I should be obedient to the VC, even if I felt he was being arrogant and unethical. I mean, I felt maybe my view of him could be wrong. So I kept quiet and swallowed his bullying then. Perhaps others too did the same. And what did we get with that? We got Muddenahalli group and Madhusudan Naidu spiritual fraud splitting Sathya Sai fraternity ****worldwide****.

[Towards the end of 2011 and in early 2012, I came to know about Shashidhara Prasad having become a dictator of SSSIHL and even trying to convert staff to accept Narasimhamurthy like a Moses who will lead Sathya Sai movement after Mahasamadhi. In disgust with all this and the power-craze that had gripped some SSSIHL administrators, I terminated my association with SSSIHL in March 2012.]

Aravind Balasubramanya should NOT be allowed to become a bully in Prasanthi Nilayam system who thinks he is above being questioned for his actions. He should be held accountable by Sathya Sai devotees for his public actions (he is an employee of Radio Sai, I believe) and his bullying tactics should be stoutly resisted.
----

In response to comment, "This is really very serious of Shashidhar who was incharge of students", I wrote:
He is the biggest traitor of the Sai university and has done ****great damage**** to spiritual mission of Sai university (SSSIHL).
----

In response to comment, "it appears that you forgot to mention about PHYLLIS Crystal", I wrote (slightly edited):
Yes her case is a good one of somebody who came under their spell and then distanced herself publicly from them.
----

In response to comment (slightly edited), "There were couple of notes about PHYLLIS Crystal (I had) put up(.) If I recall she suffered a lot due to some black magic MADHU was doing on her during her last days", I wrote (slightly edited):
Those were the allegations (and strong allegations). But, unfortunately, there is a lot of mystery about what happened in her last days. And that is a matter of great sadness. I mean, she was such a committed devotee and we could not really know how well she was cared for, in her last days.
----

I (Ravi) wrote:
I have digressed to an underlying bullying culture away from the topic of the original post. I do feel that the underlying culture issue must be addressed for the good of Prasanthi Nilayam system. But I think I have said enough on the topic. I don't plan to say anything further on this post unless people comment and I feel I have to respond.

I would like to also say that my personal experience of Bhagavan was that he was willing to struggle and push his physically aging body to uphold Sathya & Dharma and to teach Sathya and Dharma. This was in 2010 when he was physically quite down.

It was a transformative experience for me to directly experience how much Bhagavan cared about people having a proper understanding of Sathya & Dharma. Till my dying breath, I will not forget that dedication that Bhagavan showed to this mission of his, even when his physical body was really, really down.

I earnestly pray that Bhagavan's core mission and core message of Sathyam Vada Dharmam Chara, which is the motto of the Sai university, flourishes in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram and in the Sathya Sai movement worldwide for which Prasanthi Nilayam is the main centre. Jai Sai Ram!
----

[There was one comment on my Facebook post by a person who was saying that association was too strong a word for what Aravind Balasubramanya had done. I wanted to respond to her comment later after seeing comments from others. Nobody else commented on this aspect (association word being appropriate or not). Further, the original commenter also added another comment later saying that the focus should remain on original intent of the post and not result in people blocking and getting blocked. I have decided not to respond to her comment about association being too strong a word as I think my response may drag the discussion further.]

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Interesting old TV interview of former Indian PM (Late) P.V. Narasimha Rao about his book, The Insider; PVNR was reverential towards Sathya Sai

Last updated on 17th Feb. 2019

Please note that I have a PUBLICLY POLITICALLY NEUTRAL role in these social media posts that I put up related to Indian political leaders which may include leaders in government currently and those not in government. I am an Indian citizen and resident of India. I do vote in Indian elections but I keep who I vote for as a private matter. I should also say that I am a beneficiary, a lover and an open supporter of democracy in India.

In Focus Narashimha Rao, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XqPEo9FANw, around 25 mins.

Non-Indian Sai devotees may be interested to know that former Prime Minister of India, (Late) Shri P.V.Narasimha Rao (PVNR) has visited Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and shown reverance to him, and that PVNR as PM was the chief guest for the inauguration of Puttaparthi Super hospital in 1991. Here's a short less than 3 min video of that event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peXX3H0Lr8c published by Radio Sai Global Harmony.  In the video, PVNR bows down and seems to touch the feet of Bhagavan.

Given below are a few screenshots from the video:

[To open pic in higher resolution, right-click on pic followed by open link (NOT image) in new tab/window. In new tab/window you may have to click on pic to zoom in.]











The youtube interview mentioned earlier is about P.V. Narasimha Rao's (PVNR's) book, The Insider, https://www.amazon.in/dp/0140271171/. That book description on the amazon page says that the book is based on a fictional state called Aforazabad which is based on actual Hyderabad state. The amazon page also states: "The book discusses the state of events and the political scenario in India under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, delving into areas like her rise to power, second coming, assassination, followed by her son Rajiv Gandhi’s entry into the world of politics. The Insider reveals to the reader the state of affairs in a political scenario, narrated by a man who has had first-hand experience of it all."

The youtube interview has PVNR telling us that even though the book is a fictional account, it has real characters as well and that the fictional account is based on reality of Indian politics that he experienced in his long political career of around six decades. PVNR was the first Prime Minister of India from South India, with H.D. Deve Gowda being the only other Prime Minister from South India, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Prime_Ministers_of_India. PVNR served for nearly five years as PM from June 1991 to May 1996 whereas Deve Gowda served for around a year as PM from June 1996 to April 1997.

For those who do not know about PVNR, here are some extracts from his wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._V._Narasimha_Rao:

Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (28 June 1921 – 23 December 2004) was an Indian lawyer and politician who served as the 9th Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996.[3] His ascendancy to the prime ministership was politically significant in that he was the first holder of this office from a non-Hindi-speaking region, belonging to the southern part of India. He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation and several home incidents affecting national security of India.[4] Rao, who held the Industries portfolio, was personally responsible for the dismantling of the Licence Raj, as this came under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.[5] He is often referred to as the "Father of Indian Economic Reforms".[6][7] Future prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh continued the economic reform policies pioneered by Rao's government. Rao accelerated the dismantling of the License Raj, reversing the socialist policies of Rajiv Gandhi's government. He employed Dr. Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister to embark on historic economic transition. With Rao's mandate, Dr. Manmohan Singh launched India's globalisation angle of the reforms that implemented the International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies to rescue the almost bankrupt nation from economic collapse.[5] Rao was also referred to as Chanakya for his ability to steer tough economic and political legislation through the parliament at a time when he headed a minority government.[8][9]

According to a former Foreign Minister of India Natwar Singh, "Unlike Nehru, his knowledge of Sanskrit was profound. Nehru had a temper, PV a temperament. His roots were deep in the spiritual and religious soil of India. [Ravi: Large font, bold & italics mine; PV refers to PVNR] He did not need to 'Discover India'". 11th President of India APJ Abdul Kalam described Rao as a "patriotic statesman who believed that the nation is bigger than the political system".

...

PV Narasimha Rao had humble social origins. He was born in a Niyogi Brahmin family in the village of Vangara , Bheemadevarpalle Mandal, in Karimnagar District, now in Telangana, but later adopted and brought to Vangara village of Bheemadevarapalli mandal of Karimnagar district in Telangana, then part of Hyderabad State, when he was three years old.[1] His father, Pamulaparthi Sitarama Rao, and mother, Pamulaparthi Rukmini (Rukminamma), hailed from agrarian families.[16] Popularly known as PV, he completed part of his primary education in Katkuru village of Bheemdevarapalli mandal in Karimnagar district by staying in his relative Gabbeta Radhakishan Rao's house and studying for his Bachelor's degree in the Arts college at the Osmania University. P.V. Narasimha Rao was part of Vande Matram movement in late 1930s in the Hyderabad state. He later went on to Hislop College, now under Nagpur University, where he completed a Master's degree in law.[17]

Rao's mother tongue was Telugu, and he had an excellent command of Marathi. In addition to eight other Indian languages (Hindi, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu), he spoke English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German and Persian.[18][19] Along with his distant cousin Pamulaparthi Sadasiva Rao, Ch. Raja Narendra and Devulapalli Damodar Rao, PV edited a Telugu weekly magazine called Kakatiya Patrika in the 1940s.[20] Both PV and Sadasiva Rao contributed articles under the pen-name Jaya-Vijaya.[20][21]

...

Narasimha Rao was an active freedom fighter during the Indian Independence movement[24] and joined full-time politics after independence as a member of the Indian National Congress.[17] His tenure as Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh is well remembered even today for his land reforms and strict implementation of land ceiling acts in Telangana region. President's rule had to be imposed to counter the Jai Andhra movement during his tenure.[18] He rose to national prominence in 1972 for handling several diverse portfolios, most significantly Home, Defence and Foreign Affairs, in the cabinets of both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.[17] In fact, it is speculated that he was in the running for the post of India's President along with Zail Singh in 1982.[25]

Rao very nearly retired from politics in 1991. It was the assassination of the Congress President Rajiv Gandhi that persuaded him to make a comeback.[26] As the Congress had won the largest number of seats in the 1991 elections, he had an opportunity to head the minority government as Prime Minister. He was the first person outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to serve as Prime Minister for five continuous years, the first to hail from the state of Andhra Pradesh, and also the first from southern India.[4][27]

...

In spite of significant achievements in a difficult situation, in the 1996 general elections the Indian electorate voted out Rao's Congress Party. Soon, Sonia Gandhi's coterie forced Mr. Rao to step down as Party President. He was replaced by Sitaram Kesri.

Rao rarely spoke of his personal views and opinions during his 5-year tenure. After his retirement from national politics, he published a novel called The Insider.[80] The book, which follows a man's rise through the ranks of Indian politics, resembled events from Rao's own life.

According to a vernacular source, despite holding many influential posts in Government, he faced many financial troubles. One of his sons was educated with the assistance of his son-in-law. He also faced trouble paying fees for a daughter who was studying medicine.[81] According to P. V. R. K. Prasad, an Indian Administrative Service(IAS) officer who was Narasimha Rao's media advisor when the latter was Prime Minister, Rao asked his friends to sell away his house at Banjara Hills to clear the dues of lawyers.[82]

[Wiki References:
1. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/people-hail-decision-on-pvs-birth-anniversary/article6146786.ece
2. http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Rao-And-His-Sons-Uneasy-Ties/201598
3. "Prime Ministers of India". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.. Indian PM's official website. Retrieved 2 March 2007.
4. "Narasimha Rao – a Reforming PM". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 23 December 2004. Retrieved 2 March 2007.
5. Arvind Kumar, Arun Narendhranath (3 October 2001). India must embrace unfettered free enterprise. Daily News and Analysis.
6. "PV Narasimha Rao Remembered as Father of Indian Economic Reforms". voanews.com. VOA News. 23 December 2004. Archived from the original on 2 July 2012.
7. "Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture, was father of economic reform: Pranab". 31 December 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
8. V. Venkatesan (1–14 January 2005). "Obituary: A scholar and a politician". Frontline. 22 (1). Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
9. "PV Narasimha Rao Passes Away". tlca.com. Archived from the original on 1 November 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.

16. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=R2yCDAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en_GB&pg=GBS.PT15.w.2.0.34.0.1
17. "P. V. Narasimha Rao – A Profile". Indian PM's official website. Archived from the original on 28 March 2009.
18. "PV Narasimha Rao". The Daily Telegraph. 24 December 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
19. Derek Brown (24 December 2004). "PV Narasimha Rao". The Guardian.
20. "Pamulaparthi Sadasiva Rao". M. Rajagopalachary, Pamulaparthi Sadasiva Rao Memorial Endowment Lecture. kakatiyapatrika.com. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
21. "With PV". kakatiyapatrika.com. 31 October 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
22. "Biographical Sketch of P.V. Rajeshwar Rao". Parliament of India. Archived from the original on 12 August 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
23. "Sri. P.V.Rajeswara Rao". Matrusri Institute of P.G. Studies. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
24. "A Profile of P.V. Narasimha Rao" (PDF). Embassy of India in Washington. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2010.
25. "The Lonely Masks of Narasimha Rao". mjakbar.org. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2007.
26. John F. Burns (21 May 1995). Crisis in India: Leader Survives, for Now. The New York Times.
27. Observations on Indian Independence Day. Subash Kapila. Retrieved 2 March 2007.

80. Rao, P V N (2000). The Insider. Penguin;. ISBN 978-0140271171.
81. "Nindalapaalaina Aparachanukyudu-2". Telugu.greatandhra.com. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
82. P V Krishna Rao (4 January 2010). PV made scapegoat in Babri case. newindianexpress.com

end Wiki References]
--- end wiki extracts ---

The wiki page also states that he was MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) from Manthani in Andhra Pradesh (now in Telangana) from 1957 to 1977. He was MP (Member of Parliament) from 1977 to 1998 from four places - Hanamkonda in Andhra Pradesh (now in Telangana), Ramtek in Maharashtra, Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh and Brahmapur in Orissa. So he was an elected member of the AP state legislature for around 20 years and an elected member of  parliament (union/federal legislature) for around 21 years, making it a total of around 41 years as an elected legislator. That is some legislative experience!

PVNR was CM of Andhra Pradesh from Sept. 1971 to Jan. 1973, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chief_Ministers_of_Andhra_Pradesh.

BTW I placed an order for PVNR's book, The Insider, today at the above mentioned amazon.in page. I don't know when I will get around to reading it as I have quite a few paper (not electronic) books with me which I have to read. But I know that if the paper book copy is around somewhere on my tables in my flat, I will sometime get on to reading it. As it is PVNR's book about Indian democracy based on his experience as Chief Minister, Union Minister and Prime Minister, it is a must-read book for me. I mean, PVNR was well known for being a very intelligent and brainy man. So I am sure his book will have some real stuff in it.

[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. I similarly thank Radio Sai Global Harmony for above screenshots from their youtube video.]
===========================

Here's an interesting video of the press meet of USA President Bill Clinton and Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in the White House, USA in May 1994 (close to a quarter century ago), Bill Clinton and P. V. Narasimha Rao meeting 1994, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZajqHfledvY, around 30 mins.

I would have liked to transcribe the initial remarks of both President Clinton and PM Rao but am not in a position to spare time now for that.

I must also say that I like Bill Clinton. Videos of him remind me of another Bill who was my boss in Wang Labs, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA in 1987-88 for a year long software development assignment - Bill (William) Reynolds. Bill Reynolds then was, and I am quite sure continues now to be, a friendly guy and a nice guy. He now runs a Seafood restaurant (quite a change of profession from Software R&D to running a restaurant) in Mountain View area of California called Billy's Boston Chowder House, https://www.facebook.com/BillysBostonChowderHouse/

Friday, February 15, 2019

Combination of divine fearsome warrior power and other divine attributes like calm and lack of jealousy make up the character of Lord Rama


आत्मवान् को जितक्रोधो द्युतिमान् कोऽनसूयकः |
कस्य बिभ्यति देवाश्च जातरोषस्य संयुगे || १-१-४

Who is that self-composed one, who controlled his ire, who is brilliant, non-jealous and whom do even the gods fear, when provoked to war

Valmiki Ramayana 1-1-4

Source: https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/baala/sarga1/bala_1_frame.htm

Ravi: I would translate devas as divine beings rather than gods due to confusion that creates in readers who are of Abrahamic religions.

The above verse is part of a query from Valmiki to Sage Narada about whether a person matching the queries of Valmiki, exists. Sage Narada later replies that indeed he exists and is living and tells Valmiki about Lord Rama.

The point to note here is that Rama is self-composed, non-jealous and controls his anger. But on provocation to war, even the divine beings fear him! So it is a combination of divine fearsome warrior power and other divine attributes like calm and lack of jealousy, that make up the character of Lord Rama, the Treta Yuga Avatar.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

When a White Evangelical group in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA in 2nd half of 1980s tried to convert me & my Indian friends to their Christian sect

Last updated on 25th Feb. 2019

This post in based on a recent mail conversation I had with an Indian Catholic Christian friend and former software industry colleague, who I refer to as George (not his real name). The intent of this post is to improve understanding and harmony between Hindus & Christians. It is NOT the intent of this post to denigrate any religious group/sect.

A few days ago, George wrote me over email about an incident when many of us from our Mumbai software company (Datamatics, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datamatics) were in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA and nearby places (some in Massachusetts), doing assignments at Wang Labs. Lowell, Mass., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Laboratories. This was in the 2nd half of the 1980s. To help improve our recollection of the event we also got input from another of our group who was there then.

We were a large group. I don't recall the exact number of us in Wang Labs, at the time the event happened. But we would have been at least twenty to thirty persons.

We were put up in nice condominium type apartments by Wang Labs. I think then I (and George) were living in Royal Crest, Nashua, New Hampshire. Here are some pics of Royal Crest Nashua from their website (takes a little time to load): https://www.royalcrestnashua.com/en/apartments/photo-gallery.html.

We seem to have been noticed by a White Evangelical Christian group and were invited to an event of theirs. We visited them (2 or 3 carloads of us). I think most of us in the group would have been Hindus but George and maybe one or two other persons were Christians. We did have a few Christians in the total group of at least twenty to thirty persons from Datamatics that was at Wang Labs then.

At the event, we were asked to join in a Christian prayer before meals and which I think most of us would have done. I don't think Hindus in our group then had any issue in joining in prayers of other religions that seek blessings and good from God.

Afterwards they showed us the movie, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Jones_and_the_Temple_of_Doom, which has parts that savagely mock India and Hindu Indians! Mid-way through the movie some of us left, me being one of the group that left.

George wrote (in the recent mail exchange) that I was absolutely right when I said (at that time) that the movie was a poor choice (for the small event organized by the Evangelical group for us) and that the movie lacked sensitivity.

I don't recall what I had said then but I am quite sure I would have been quite offended by the movie and had the view that George said I expressed then.

George wrote that he was told that a few days after we had watched the movie, one of the persons in the Evangelical preacher group called me and requested me to give my life to Christ, but that I said no. In Protestant language he meant, would you like to be born again?

I wrote George that I don't recall this exactly but I am quite sure I would have refused and perhaps even given an explanation of why I was refusing. Note that even in the 2nd half of the 1980s, at which time I would have been in my mid-twenties, I had done fair bit of reading of Hindu scripture and philosophy and commentaries on it by Hindu seers including contemporary seers. I was not much into devotion and belief in supernatural power of Hindu deities, but was into Hindu Vedanta and Gita philosophy.

I also had some exposure to Christian scripture, especially the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and had quite a few Indian Christian friends. I had studied for the last 4 years of my schooling, 7th to 10th standard  from mid 1975 to mid 1978, in a Christian mission run school - Cardinal Gracias High School in Bandra (East), Mumbai.

Some info. about this school may be appropriate The school website history page, https://cardinalgraciashighschool.org/about-us/history/, tells us that the school was started in a church-cum-school in 1961 by Fr. Pereira. It moved to the present premises (same as where I studied in 1970s) in 1963 after the plot was bought by Msgr. Pereira with the help of the late Cardinal Valerian Gracias, then Archbishop of Bombay. From around 1964, Norbertine Fathers from St. Norbert Priory, Jamtara, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh, India), seem to have got associated with the school. Later the "Cardinal invited the Norbertine Father of The Abbey of Berne, Holland, to take over the school as well as the ministerial activities." And in 1967 the parish was handed over to the Norbertine Fathers.

By Christian mission school I just mean that a Christian mission (in this case the Norbertine Fathers) is responsible for running the school, and do not imply any conversion attempts of any sort.

I should also say that there was no question of my school (Cardinal Gracias High School) converting non-Christian students to Christianity by proselytizing to them. Of my own accord, I did attend a few services in the church next to the school building in the same compound but that's it. Nobody attempted to convert me or, as far as I know, my other non-Christian school mates to Christianity. I think non-Christians, mostly Hindus, were the majority in my class, and perhaps the school as a whole.

Coming back to the attempt of the White evangelical group in USA to convert me/us in the 1980s to their Christian (Protestant) sect, while I was very respectful of the Christian faith in general as well as various Christian sects, there was ***no way*** I could be enticed into giving up my Hindu faith and converting to the Christian faith or that particular Christian sect's faith!

George also said that the White Evangelical Christians consider Indians to be heathen and so this group tried to convert us to their Christian sect. George added that they do not consider white non-Christians as heathen.

My view is that I think there are a great variety of Evangelical Christians (Protestants) of various denominations in the USA. Some of them may surely have a poor view of the culture and religious traditions of non-white people (black or brown).

And then there are the fundamentalist variety who have the strong belief that those who do not believe in Christ and Christ ***ALONE*** as the saviour, will suffer the terrible fate of burning in Hell for eternity.

But there are many USA Christian denominations which are NOT so fundamentalist. I don't know whether all evangelical Christian denominations can be viewed as fundamentalist. I have met quite a few USA Christians and also read the works of many USA Christians. A lot of them are far more knowledgeable about India and Indian cultural and religious traditions than what is portrayed in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!!!

I am very respectful of the faith of many Christian sects in the USA. I may not accept some of their views - e.g. the belief that I as a Hindu am destined to burn in hell for eternity unless I accept only Christ as the saviour.  I, perhaps somewhat condescendingly, view that as spiritual ignorance on part of those Evangelical and other Christians who hold such beliefs. As these Christians ***do not force*** their belief on me like has been the case in past eras for various religions and religious sects, I do not get perturbed by their having such a belief. I mean, we live and let live.

But I do find some of the other teachings and practices of Evangelical Christians to be very inspirational. This includes perhaps the most famous USA pastor of the 2nd half of the 20th century - the late Billy Graham, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Graham. I am not in favour of/not supportive of Graham's "crusades" in India (in the past) aiming to convert Indians to his brand of Christianity but I do marvel at his deep faith and the great efforts he made to spread faith in Christ (God).

I should also say that in general I am against aggressive proselytization of any religion/sect. But I support the right of anybody in India to choose to follow a different religion/sect if he/she, of their own free-will without any coercion or any material inducements, wants to follow/convert to a different religion/sect.

George wrote that at that time in Nashua, he used to read his small Gideon's Bible daily,  but every time his Hindu flatmate and Datamatics Mumbai software company colleague would enter his room, George would hurriedly put it away. George's Hindu flatmate told him that he shouldn't do that.

I think George shared the above to show how his Hindu flatmate was encouraging George to freely worship as per his Christian faith.

I wrote George that he may like this post of mine: Radhanath Swami and Father Francis Clooney : Encountering God- Hindu and Christian Perspectives - Columbia university, 2012; Father Clooney makes brief mention of keeping Sai Baba vibhuti in his office, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2018/01/radhanath-swami-and-father-francis.html, 11th Jan. 2018

George wrote that for sometime after he left Datamatics and was working in Chicago (USA), he went to a white evangelical church.  It had a group for young adults. George wrote that he has fond memories of that group and still keeps in touch with them though twenty one years have passed. It was the best Christian group that he had been to. Note that George now is based in India.

I wrote George that it was good to know the above.

George wrote that his evangelical Christian friends (in Chicago) used to tell him to listen to Christian FM stations. One Pastor used to advertise for his church on the radio and in his ad he used to call the people living in Africa, the 'heathen'.

I wrote: Heathen and Pagan are the terms that one comes across often in evangelical Christian literature when it comes to people of non-Abrahamic religious faiths. Here's the wiki page for Paganism, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paganism, if you want to have a look.

Many Christians that I know in the USA and in Europe do not accept such views, and so I am comfortable interacting with them on Facebook and elsewhere. Unfortunately, some "fundamentalist" religious leaders of various faiths present a negative view of religions other than their own. But leaders like Pope Francis do not use such disparaging terms for people from other religions including non-Abrahamic religions like Hinduism. I very much appreciate such positive attitude from Pope Francis towards people from non-Christian religions.

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

George had a look at above post contents and responded: "Thank you. It is excellent."
-----------------

Given are some comment exchanges from my FB post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2414474725435757, associated with this post:

--Name-snipped-- wrote:
Ravi, I don't know much about Christianity or some Christians' deep interest in converting others; but I was told by someone that some Christians believe that unless all the humans accept Jesus, the "final flight to heaven" won't take off! Imagine the pressure someone can feel!

An interesting aside: before joining the World Bank, I worked as a contractor at AT&T in downtown Washington DC for a few months and one of my lady colleagues (a Black American) gifted me a small book by Sathya Sai Baba! I never knew at the time that Baba had such a vast reach in the US. I was a part of Chinmaya Mission around that time.
----

I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited): Very interesting aside --Name-snipped--. Thanks for sharing. And yes, the ***only way*** to salvation is through Jesus part of some Christians' belief can put a lot of pressure on those who are being influenced by them to convert. Thankfully, in our early 21st century times, I think that sort of pressure being put may be limited only to fundamentalist kind of evangelical Christian sects.
----

In response to comment, "Heathen or pagan: do these have similar connotations to ‘pariah’ term used among Indians?", I wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped-- sir - As I was born (in 1962) and raised in Mumbai and surrounding areas, I have only read about the term 'pariah' in books & articles (English language) but have not heard it being used in my family and friends social environment either in Mumbai or now in Puttaparthi.

Perhaps in the past that term was in vogue in South India, meaning an outcaste. I am not sure, even in the past usage of that term as outcaste (which attitude, of course, is something deplorable about our Hindu community's past), whether that would have similar connotations to heathen or pagan. I think the modes of worship of the so-called outcastes would not have been viewed as negatively as heathen and pagan worship seem to have been viewed by some Christian fundamentalist type preachers.
----

Monday, February 11, 2019

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in February 2019

When author of post or comment is not mentioned, it should be assumed that it is me (Ravi S. Iyer).

================================================================
In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/vr.ganti.1/posts/10214246437299514, I wrote a comment on 24th Feb. 2019 which I put up in a slightly edited form as a separate post here: https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/02/muddenahalli-group-spiritually-led-by.html.

Given below are some further exchanges on that Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/vr.ganti.1/posts/10214246437299514) :

Somebody commented (slightly edited): my humble request is that Mr Ravi Iyer and Mr --name-snipped-- remove misunderstanding between Mr Ganti and Mr Ratnakar so we can all be united in facing the crisis before us.
----

I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited): --Name-snipped-- - I have not met or spoken to Mr. Rathnakar ever. I lead a reclusive outside-ashram life in Puttaparthi.

In early 2017, I had faced unfortunate social media attacks on me, through comments posted on Mr. Ganti's Facebook posts, by some Melbourne, Australia based Muddenahalli Facebook Fake Id cowards and crooks, perhaps supported by their friends in Muddenahalli and Puttaparthi, which tried to falsely paint me as an enemy of Mr. Rathnakar. The Melbourne, Australia Muddenahalli cowards and crooks succeeded in creating some tension and trouble for me in my real life in Puttaparthi for a few weeks then, and in negatively impacting my relationship with some people.

After that experience, I have decided to not make any comments about Mr. Rathnakar at all. In this comment, I have made an exception to inform you and other readers who see this exchange about my stand on these matters.

So I am the wrong guy for your request. I would suggest that if you really want to help out, you should do it yourself. You can always visit Puttaparthi and even if you don't visit Puttaparthi, you can call up from Mumbai.
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The person commented, "i dont know Mr Ratnakar or i would not mind speaking to him. in fact i had not even heard of him. its only since i followed these posts i got to know of him. i thought since you are in Puttaparthi for such a long time and been with the sathya sai university as a lecturer / teacher you might have met him or know someone who knows him. also you have been a tireless truth teller in this whole unfortunate situation since the beginning. however i understand that you are not in a position to broker peace. in that case any well wisher of Mr Ganti on this thread who knows both Mr Ganti and Mr Ratnakar, having familiarity of the sequence of events that led to the present time and has the well being of the sai mission at heart might please take the initiative to make peace between these two gentlemen. the idea is Unity among sai devotees. what Bhagavan used to recommend. Unity and Purity lead to Divinity."
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I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited): Thanks for the kind words --Name-snipped--.
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The person responded: sai ram.
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In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2423927321157164, dated 24th Feb. 2019, I wrote:

Congratulations to the Indian government for getting this honour. India's contribution to global Islam in the 20th and early 21st century through peaceful and loving forms of Islam like Sufi Islam which are respectful of other religions like Hinduism and Christianity, is a very significant one, IMHO. While India may be a Hindu majority country, various sects of Islam in India are a vital and intrinsic part of modern India of the 20th and early 21st centuries, and so the voice of Indian Islam and the Indian government should be heard by global Islamic organizations like the OIC.

Allah Maalik! Ishwar Maalik! Sabka Maalik Ek!

[Shared article: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-a-1st-india-invited-to-oic-meet-as-guest-of-honour/articleshow/68132243.cms]

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https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2417680365115193

"Pope Francis has expelled Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, from the priesthood, after an expedited canonical process that found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades, the Vatican said on Saturday."

Ravi: I am very happy to know this. If Mr. McCarrick disagrees, he is free to publicly rebut the process in the Vatican which found him guilty.

I think it is these steps initiated by the courageous Pope Francis which will invigorate the Roman Catholic Church and help to remove the poison of sexual abuse that has afflicted this important  and powerful worldwide Christian religious organization. A reinvigorated in faith in Christ and free from sexual abuse Roman Catholic church would be, in my considered opinion, a very good thing for the world.

[Shared article: Pope Defrocks Theodore McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal Accused of Sexual Abuse, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/us/mccarrick-defrocked-vatican.html]
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https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2417598228456740

Some days ago, I came across a mention of Madhusudan Naidu (spiritual fraud) visiting Kumbh Mela and even meeting Baba Ramdev, in a comment elsewhere on Facebook. I had asked for details in a comment there but did not get those details.

I found this video of around a minute, dated 26th Jan. 2019 of Madhusudan Naidu and some other people from MDH group with this gentleman, Swami Chidandand Saraswatiji. I think I have seen this Swami with Madhusudan Naidu earlier too. I found videos of Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji with Baba Ramdev but not a video of Baba Ramdev with Madhusudan Naidu and neither a video of Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Baba Ramdev and Madhusudan Naidu. If somebody finds a public video of Madhusudan Naidu with Baba Ramdev, I request them to share it with me. I would then want to explore a way to contact Baba Ramdev who is a very well known spiritual figure in India, to inform him about Madhusudan Naidu being a spiritual fraud in his claims about Sathya Sai. I would also then put up a public post on the matter - an open letter to Baba Ramdev. But all that is warranted ***only if*** it is established that Baba Ramdev met Madhusudan Naidu through a public video (or a report by reputed media establishment).

Now in the text intro of the shared post below, there is no reference to Madhusudan Naidu as communicator, medium or embodiment of Sathya Sai (FALSE CLAIM made by Muddenahalli group), though the MDH group is referred to as group from SatyaSaiBaba campus.

I really have very little info. about this Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji. Therefore I don't plan to contact him regarding Madhusudan Naidu being a spiritual fraud.

[Shared FB video: https://www.facebook.com/PujyaSwamiji/videos/1103953519786866/ ]

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https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2415873531962543

I strongly approve of this move by the Cardinal, as far as living accused priests are concerned. Now some of the allegations may be false but that can be rebutted by the accused on social media and I hope that the New York Times will carry their rebuttals too. ... In the case of deceased priests, I wonder whether this is fair to them (and their relatives and friends) as the accused are not alive to rebut any false accusations made against them.

[Shared article: New Jersey Catholic Bishops List Names of Nearly 200 Priests Accused of Abuse, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/nyregion/list-of-priests-abuse.html]

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https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2415439045339325

Interesting info. for those into religion statistics in Western Europe. This is about Germany's Catholic, Protestant, other religion and unaffiliated numbers.
https://twitter.com/IAmStarrStuff/status/1095719094932918272

[The text of the above tweet: Once a majority, #Protestants now account for fewer than a third of Germans https://pewrsr.ch/2HD2UtC]

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In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2411104262439470, 8th Feb. 2019, I wrote:

Wonderful to know this! May God bless all who were involved in such low-cost marriage initiatives.

BTW my late father associated for some time with the Radha Soami Satsang in Mumbai/Bombay (perhaps in the 60s and early 70s). But I do not have any recollection of attending a Radha Saomi satsang.

[Shared article: Andhra Pradesh: IAS officer to spend only Rs 18,000 on son’s wedding, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/visakhapatnam/andhra-pradesh-ias-officer-to-spend-only-rs-18000-on-sons-wedding/articleshow/67894320.cms, 8th Feb. 2019]

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In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2407367859479777, 3rd Feb. 2019, I wrote (slightly edited):

So nice to see all these people come forward and overcome the hatred of one misguided youngster in Louisville, Kentucky, USA! May God bless all the people from various religions and from various political parties that contributed this Service out of love to more than erase the hate. May God show the right path to the youngster who is alleged to have done the vandalism.

Thanks to --name-snipped-- for sharing this.

God is Love. Love is God. - Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

[Shared article: Hundreds turn out to help clean vandalized Hindu temple, https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/hundreds-turn-out-to-help-clean-vandalized-hindu-temple/417-06b213a8-48f9-4c4c-b75c-60fe2e6b02b4, 2nd Feb. 2019]

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In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2407122922837604, dated 3rd Feb. 2019, I wrote (slightly edited):

Being a male is a matter of birth. Being a man is a matter of age. But being a gentleman is a matter of choice.

 - Quote attributed to Vin Diesel, http://www.wisdomtoinspire.com/t/vin-diesel/NJJnSbXZg/being-a-male-is-a-matter-of-birth-being-a-man-is-a-matter-of-age-but-being-a-gentleman-is-a-matter-of-choice
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In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2407106059505957, 3rd Feb. 2019, I wrote:

Thought I should share a small experience I had about the effect of mentioning the name of Jesus Christ to an Italian devotee (IIRC) of Sathya Sai who was giving us some trouble when we were doing Seva Dal duty in Prasanthi Nilayam.

This was sometime in the 2nd half of the 1990s. If I recall correctly, I was the mandir (Sai Kulwant Hall) group leader of the Seva Dal from Maharashtra. Note that I was then working in the software industry in Bombay/Mumbai, India as a consultant and had come on perhaps two weeks leave to offer Seva Dal service at Prasanthi Nilayam. It was the first (and only) time I had been given that group leader work - on other Seva Dal duties in Prasanthi Nilayam I was one of the Seva Dal in the mandir discipline group tasked with ensuring discipline among devotees in the mandir, especially when Swami was on his darshan round.

On this day we still had not opened the Kulwant Hall gates for token line devotees. So the devotees were seated outside and, if I recall correctly, up the Old museum road. A young Italian (if I recall correctly) devotee, who was part of a group and had the group scarf on, was hassling me and other Seva Dal on some matter. I lost my patience and muttered "Jesus Christ". What a change that created! This young man's demeanour completely changed. He became calm and very co-operative - almost obedient, I should say.

I would have been having a ton of worries and work then as Mandir Seva Dal leader and so I would not have been able to interact much with him, and would have moved on to other work. But I clearly remember how when he heard me say the name, "Jesus Christ", his demeanour completely changed. I think that was my first exposure to the level of devotion some Italians have. After all, Rome was where the Christian faith took root with the great apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul having preached there, and the centre of Roman Catholic faith being in Vatican in Rome.

[Shared this post, https://www.facebook.com/TuttoCraxi/photos/a.2049665111999313/2050686718563819/?type=3&theater, dated 1st Feb. 2019 which has a pic of then Prime Minister of Italy, Bettino Craxi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bettino_Craxi, and his wife with Swami (Sathya Sai) on 5th November 1986. The pic seems to be of the area just outside the interview room in main mandir building in Prasanthi Nilayam.]
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In FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2407050716178158, 3rd Feb. 2019, I wrote:

Interesting! I think this is the first time I am coming across the name of "Shaktidham's Jagatguru Sai Maa". Her wikipedia page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Maa, states, "In her late twenties, Sai Maa met and became a disciple of the spiritual master, Sathya Sai Baba. She traveled frequently to Puttaparthi, India, to study with Sai Baba and became an active supporter of his humanitarian work. While maintaining an active career and family life, Sai Maa focused on practicing the teachings and disciplines she received from Sai Baba."

Hmm. She now seems to be an established spiritual master with a monastic order!

I had a look at this video: https://youtu.be/BAHgcMUAhSA of hers. The message seems to be a good one.

If readers have more information about her and would like to share it, I would be glad to know of it.

[Shared article: Seven seas across, foreigners become 'brahmacharis' in Kumbh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/67813792.cms, 3rd Feb. 2019.]

In response to a comment on the post, I wrote (slightly edited):
Really! All famous sanyasis have been married! Was Adi Shankara (originally from Kerala) married? Do you have references that can prove that?
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In response to a comment on the post, I wrote (slightly edited):
Oh! I think I had not noted well that aspect of your comment which was a later sentence. I mean I did read it but your earlier sentence was somewhat sweeping and so I focused on it.

Interesting view! I don't think I know enough now to comment on it, as I have not read up on these sanyasi aspects of Hinduism prior to Buddhism.

Of course, many of the Rishis mentioned in our Hindu scripture are married, sometimes with more than one wife. But then they are referred to as Rishis and not as sanyasis. Was there a sanyasi parampara in those times? Are there written or oral accounts of such parampara then that are available to us now? Interesting questions but I don't have an answer to them.

I am putting up this response to an inner level comment of yours, at an outer level to give more visibility to my comment (and so your comment too). Thanks.
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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Have started reading Ramayana (in English) by Kamala Subramaniam published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; Sanskrit Valmiki Ramayana and English translation online

Last updated on 11th Feb. 2019

Thought some readers may be interested to know that I have started reading Ramayana authored by Kamala Subramaniam and published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The first edition was printed in 1981. I have a hardbound (print) copy of the fourteenth edition printed in 2018. While I do not recall reading specifically in the preface that it is based on Valmiki Ramayana, I presume that is the case.

This book does not provide original Sanskrit verses and English translation of those verses. It instead provides an English rendition of Ramayana which seems to be based on Sanskrit Valmiki Ramayana.

I think I should also say that my view of Lord Rama is strongly influenced by what I have read and heard (many times live in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam) my beloved and revered Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba say about Lord Rama. Primarily due to Sathya Sai's words, I believe Lord Rama to be a historical figure and NOT a mythological figure. Further, I believe that Lord Rama lived around 20,000 years ago based on a video where Sathya Sai speaks on this matter. For more, please read my blog post: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2015/01/sathya-sai-on-historicity-of-rama-and.html OR watch this 43 second video: Sathya Sai on historicity of Rama and Krishna, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3Lep9OXSfw.

Note that Sathya Sai has authored these books on Lord Rama's life:
Ramakatha Rasavahini I, http://www.sssbpt.info/english/vramakatha1.htm
Ramakatha Rasavahini II, http://www.sssbpt.info/english/vramakatha2.htm

If I recall correctly, I have read the above books some years back.

For the past few years, as I have been interested in the wider Hindu devotees and contemporary Hindu religion (beyond Sathya Sai fraternity), I have been wanting to re-read Ramayana (and some other Hindu epic-scriptures) for some time now (earlier, if I recall correctly, I have read abridged accounts of Valmiki Ramayana).

Valmiki Ramayana being the original Ramayana, is the one I want to read.

Now, given the antiquity of Valmiki Ramayana, and, I presume, the oral traditions used to transmit it in ancient times, there seem to be various versions of Sanskrit Valmiki Ramayana. I had hoped that there would be one version which is viewed as authoritative. I Google searched for it but did not find results that point to some reputed govt. or religious institution which says that so-and-so Sanskrit pdf files are the authoritative version of Valmiki Ramayana. Maybe I did not search well.

Google search top results include this link: https://www.valmikiramayan.net/. I find it to be rather comprehensive and am very happy about that. It has a detailed format which I have seen in other Hindu scriptures translated to English books by reputed religious/spiritual institutions, with the following:
1. Verse in Sanskrit
2. Word by word Sanskrit to English translation
3. Complete English translation of the verse
4. Optionally, notes which give added context/interpretation

In this particular case, it also links to an audio of the verse.

I am very happy with these aspects.

One concern though is that I don't know how reputed as religious scholars (different from academic scholars) of Ramayana, the main authors, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao and K.M.K. Murty, are.

In the home page they write about the Ramayana version they have described: "However, scholars, grammarians, historians have put lot of effort to standardize the original text, by verifying various manuscripts available from various parts of India, thus trying to stabilize and save the text from further contradictions. An example of this effort is the critical edition of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. This site aims to study various versions of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana and arrive at a version of Ramayana that is most relevant to modern times."

So I am hopeful that the Valmiki Ramayana version this site provides/uses is a version acceptable to Hindu religion scholars of Valmiki Ramayana.
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Given below are some comments from my Facebook post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2413012828915280, associated with this blog post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited): --Name-snipped-- - Your thoughts on above post are welcome.
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--Name-snipped-- wrote (and was OK with sharing here; slightly edited to fix a typo type error): Ravi sir, thank you for posting this. Yes ramayana is actual history based on what Swami says and historical evidences etc. It is definitely NOT mythology. Mythological lens leads to the danngerous possibilities of distortions. And of course it not fiction either.

I am glad that an attempt is being made to ascertain the veracity of the material and the translations. My only difference in modus operandi would be that instead of looking for the degree of 'reputation' of the concerned scholars, I would look for their 'insiderness' (refer to Shri Rajiv Malhotra's works).

There are an umpteen number of scholars such as pollack, Wendy etc who are very reputed Sanskrit scholars, but who distort the original texts to suit and create very mundane narratives which cause a lot of damage to Hinduism. Some such scholars are indians also. And there are other 'reputed' people like Shri Devdutt patnaik who present all Hindu texts are 'mythology' which once again is extremely dangerous and detrimental. So instead of reputation I might look for the degree of indic-alignment, which I admit is often hard to gauge.

Thanks very much again for sharing sir. Jai Sai Ram
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited):
--Name-snipped-- sir - Thanks for your comment. I had meant religious scholars different from academic scholars. But I can see how it could get interpreted as academic scholars. So I have rephrased the sentence in the post as follows:

One concern though is that I don't know how reputed as religious scholars (different from academic scholars) of Ramayana, the main authors, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao and K.M.K. Murty, are.

Usually religious scholarship for such scripture comes from established Mutts or spiritual institutions in India. E.g. Shankara Mutts, Vaishnava parampara mutts, Ramakrishna Mutt/mission, Divine life society etc.

People from these institutions are recognized as experts in scripture. For example, the Kamala Subramaniam book on Ramayana has a foreword (dated 1981) from Swami Ranganathananda of Ramakrishna Math Hyderabad. [I think this is the wiki page of the same Swami Ranganathananda, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranganathananda, whose lectures on scripture (while he was in Karachi in 1940s) have been praised by L.K. Advani and, as per Advani, even Mohammed Ali Jinnah (as per the wiki page)!]

The foreword by Swami Ranganathananda, along with the publisher being Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, puts a stamp of authenticity on the book.

It would have been wonderful if the Valmiki Ramayana website I mentioned also had similar stamps of approval from such acknowledged names in the field of Hindu religious scripture in India.

I am exposed to the damage to Hinduism created by some academic scholars of Hinduism like Wendy Doniger. I don't think you would have read my post on her (about Ramayana being fiction), written around five years ago, in the context of the court case in India against her book. Here's the post: Book having Baseless Criticism of Hindu Divine Figures Blocked from being Distributed in India, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/02/book-having-baseless-criticism-of-hindu.html, published on 12th Feb. 2014.
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--Name-snipped-- wrote: Truly appreciate the detailed response sir! Thank you. 💯 agree with you.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote (in part and slightly edited):--Name-snipped-- sir. Thank you so much for your comments.
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