Thursday, October 31, 2019

Great video exposing Madhusudan Naidu (spiritual fraud) 'miracles' by Russian Sathya Sai fraternity

This post is based on the content of my recent Facebook post:  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2637737186442842.

MUDDENAHALLI | Is Madhu a miracle man?, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A6yUBHxMjQ, around 7 mins, published on 28th Oct. 2019, updated on 29th Oct. 2019. Thanks to Terry Reis Kennedy for sharing the video on Facebook which is how I came to know about it.

Enjoyed it! Great work from our Russian Sathya Sai brothers and sisters to expose the fraudulent "miracles" of Madhusudan Naidu. I had tried to see the earlier Russian video but gave up after a few minutes as I could not follow it. This time around the English captions made all the difference.

Madhusudan Naidu is just a cheap impersonator. Such videos demonstrate that so well. A video like this is worth a thousand text posts! Congratulations & Many Thanks to Russian Sai brothers & sisters for this great work.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in Oct. 2019

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

To save time, I am usually not providing my FB post links but only contents. I am also not hyperlinking links. So readers will have to copy-paste links from this post onto a browser link box and then browse to that link.

Andhra Pradesh serial killer? Person who gave coins & idols with claimed divine powers allegedly poisoned 8 persons to death over past few years

Today's The Hindu print newspaper carried a shocking article: Eluru apartment watchman turns ‘serial killer’, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/eluru-apartment-watchman-turns-serial-killer/article29836208.ece.

Here are other articles on the horror story:
* Serial killer? Man held for eight murders in Andhra Pradesh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/71811175.cms

* From watchman to burglar, Eluru's serial killer came a long way!, http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/oct/30/from-watchman-to-burglar-elurus-serial-killer-came-a-long-way-2054533.html

According to above reports, the man who runs a laundry, was an apartment watchman. He made some money as a broker selling a flat in the apartment, and then got into 'real estate' business as well as selling idols and coins with claimed divine powers.

His killings came to light after a physical education teacher in a school in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh died on Oct. 16th. Some thought he died of a heart attack but his family members suspected foul play and approached the police. The post-mortem revealed that he died of poisioning. By going through his mobile records, the police were able to locate the alleged killer who, the police say, confessed to his crime on questioning by the police.

According to one of the reports, the police said (slightly edited), "In almost all the cases, --name-snipped-- offered some coins and idols to his victims, saying they have supernatural powers. And, they would become wealthy if they kept them in their homes. To convince the victims, Shiva told that he became rich in the same manner and a few MLAs, ministers and officers also took the coins from him. After collecting a few lakhs of rupees, the accused would ask the victim to come to a temple to have darshan, and take the ‘prasadam’. The victim would collapse after consuming the ‘prasadam’ and Shiva will make it look like a heart attack".

Another report stated "He had killed those who had questioned him or demanded refund of the money paid to him."

Hmm. This is the reality of life in India today. There surely are some genuine holy people but there are many criminals, some of whom are even killers, who claim to have divine solutions to all problems. Perhaps the biggest challenge for those who seek divine help through such intermediaries, is to know who is genuine and who is fake, and among fakes to know who are dangerous criminals who can even go to the extent of killing people.
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In a post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2637092623173965, on Ramana Maharshi's quote "Investigate the mind. It is eliminated and remain over.", I responded to a comment:
Well, my posts are ***critical*** of Madhu, to help warn people from getting trapped by him. That is an important function some of us are doing.
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In response to another comment, I wrote:
A few have thanked me for helping them know the truth about MDH which helped them to avoid MDH.
...
I have reduced my MDH exposure posts now but at times I do share the work that others are doing in this matter.
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https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2636344049915489

Saw the first few minutes and was impressed. Hope to see the whole 2 hr. 7 min animation movie, in parts, over the next few days. Thought I should share it with readers as some might be interested.
[Shared video link: https://krishnatube.com/video/479/warrior-prince-animated-ramayana-the-legend-of-prince-rama/ ]
...
Seen upto 13 minutes of it now by which time Ram & Sita are in Ayodhya. It skips detail as it perhaps has to given the limitations of time a movie has. And there seems to be some differences in the account between the movie and what is written in Valmiki Ramayana (I have read some parts of Valmiki Ramayana - Bala Kanda).
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Lovely and warm Diwali greetings from UK PM Boris Johnson. In the video embedded in his tweet, PM Johnson makes a reference to Lord Ram and Sita returning to Ayodhya after having defeated the demon king Ravana! I thoroughly enjoyed that. Great to know that UK PM Johnson knows about Ram and Sita and about Ram defeating Ravana.

Very positive and encouraging words!

"To everyone celebrating Diwali here in the UK and around the world, I want to wish you all a happy Diwali and a joyful and successful new year. Shubh Diwali!", https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1188190221302714369
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Wonderful to see US President Trump continue tradition of Diwali lamp lighting function in White House this year too

US President Trump: "As Diwali commences, @FLOTUS Melania and I wish those observing the Festival of Lights a blessed and happy celebration! #HappyDiwali",
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1188400389697212416 . The tweet has a 19 second video where President Trump says, "As we light the Deepam (Deepak) today, we know that our nation is strengthened by the sacred traditions that bind people together across our land. May this light bring hope to (us?) all and may everyone have a wonderful Diwali!"

Ravi: As a Hindu, and a citizen and resident of India, I thank US President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for their gracious support for Hindus in the USA and for Mr. Trump's participation in this Diwali function in the White House.

Please note that I have a PUBLICLY (POLITICALLY) NEUTRAL informal-student-observer role in these posts that I put up about USA politics. Of course, as I am an Indian citizen living in India, there is no question of me having voted in USA elections. I am a well-wisher of the people of the USA.
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Good to see PM celebrate Diwali with Indian armed forces in sensitive border district! Happy Diwali to Indian armed forces who protect our country with their incessant vigil and their great sacrifices!
[Shared FB post:  https://www.facebook.com/narendramodi/photos/a.10156627257580165/10162551922040165/ ]
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https://twitter.com/narendramodi/status/1188412301524852736
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Wonderful article by a Western Hindu Rishi!

[Shared link: From Darkness To Light: An Ancient Vedic Prayer To Illumine Our Lives!, https://www.vedanet.com/from-darkness-to-light-an-ancient-vedic-prayer-to-illumine-our-lives/ ]
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I have to frankly express my doubts about the non-violence part in this. Other parts are wonderful!

I think non-violence works great in a society governed by law, with essentially police officers and other security forces of the state taking on the tough task of combating violent elements in human society who seek to illegally grab possessions of others.

But, in general, I think non-violence may be viewed as a weakness by violent raiders who will just grab what non-violent people will have, and not hesitate to even kill them. This is what history teaches us and this is what contemporary war situations (e.g. Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen as well as some places in Africa where it is a civil war kind of situation) teach us.

But then I am human. Bhagavan is the Avatar. Perhaps it is my lack of spiritual maturity that leads me to have this doubt.

Note that Rama & Krishna avatars about whom Bhagavan used to speak of a lot in his discourses were born in the warrior (Kshatriya) class and engaged in violent wars, and even killed opponents.

As of now at least, I have decided to follow Bhagavan's non-violence teaching only in civil society protected by effective police force, but not view it as something that is universal and will apply to war situations or terror situations (e.g. terror attacks in India by terrorists some of whom at least are supported by external country(ies)).

[Shared FB post had Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba quote - "Do karma (activity) based on the spiritual wisdom that all is One! Let it be suffused with devotion, humility, love, compassion and nonviolence"]
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The classic rendition of Tera Ramji Karenge Beda Paar by Hari Om Sharan (audio; I think the video is showing an actor representing him), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_fnYAzl4Bk, 7 min 18 secs.
...
Lovely rendition of the devotional song - Tera Ramji karenge beda paar - that touches the heart by Madhumita Biswas and group, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAU0sRr2O5g, around 6 mins.
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Very interesting! I particularly was interested in the religion related Q&A. Here's a key part of it:

Q: You studied to be a priest. Is religion still important to you? [Mark Tully studied Theology in Cambridge (UK) and later joined Lincoln Theological College intending to be a priest in the Church of England but gave up after two terms. He said later he had doubts about "trusting [his] sexuality to behave as a Christian priest". Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Tully. Ravi: Very refreshing to see such candour from Mark Tully. Just shows what a great guy he is.]

A. Yes, of course. I’ve visited temples, been to services, been to aartis often in temples, I’ve been to masjids as well, but I am a Christian by upbringing. And I am still a church-going Christian. But I do believe – from India I’ve learnt this – that there are many ways to God. (But) as I say, I was born to be a Christian, so I stick to the Christian way.

[I thank thequint.com 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.]

[Shared link: What Makes India 'Home' for Ex-BBC India Chief Mark Tully? | The Quint, https://www.thequint.com/news/india/mark-tully-romance-with-india-delhi-religion-hindi-language-yoga-sarson-ka-saag ]
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Very interesting Indian govt. documentary on Ramana Maharshi produced in 1980

This English language documentary was produced by Films Division, Government of India in 1980 (shown in still at end of film): Sri Ramana Maharshi (English), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VX94rflmkk, 17 min. 19 secs.
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Interesting version of how Krishna gave up his body, and the role of Karma in it. But I do not know whether this version is consistent with well known/well accepted Bhagavata Purana version(s).

[Shared FB post:  https://www.facebook.com/Vedicfacts/photos/a.306046219507880/837832109662619/?type=3&theater]
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Interesting to see such celebration of Navrathri in Thailand. Video is 4 min. 20 secs.

An extract from Religion in Thailand, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Thailand :

There is no official state religion in the Thai constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all Thai citizens, though the king is required by law to be a Theravada Buddhist. The main religion practised in Thailand is Buddhism, but there is a strong undercurrent of Hinduism with a class of brahmins having sacerdotal functions.[2] The large Thai Chinese population also practises Chinese folk religions, including Taoism. The Chinese religious movement Yiguandao (Thai: Anuttharatham) spread to Thailand in the 1970s and it has grown so much in recent decades to come into conflict with Buddhism; in 2009, it was reported that each year 200,000 Thais convert to the religion.[3][needs update] Many other people, especially among the Isan ethnic group, practise Tai folk religions. A significant Muslim population, mostly constituted by Thai Malays, is present especially in the southern regions.

[Wiki References:]
1. "Population by religion, region and area, 2015" (PDF). NSO. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
2.  "The new Brahmins". Bangkok Post. 15 October 2015.
3. Yusheng Lin (2015). "Yiguandao and Buddhism in Thailand" (PDF). Kyoto University's Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research.
--- end extract ---

As per the above Wiki page, according to Census 2015 in Thailand, Hindus constituted 0.03% of the population. That's a real tiny fraction. However, Buddhists constitute 94.5% of the population which is an overwhelming majority, with some Buddhists, as suggested by the above wiki extract, following some Hindu practices.

Hmm. I find that to be very interesting!

[Shared FB video: https://www.facebook.com/WesternHindu/videos/834805083322320/ ]
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Good to see Sai Young Adults doing service in Fiji. Jai Sai Ram!
[Shared FB post: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=565850010852583&id=339073076863612&__tn__=H-R]
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"The first edition of Martin Luther’s New Testament in 1522 was a best seller! It had a print run of 3,000 copies—selling out completely within weeks. His translation of the Bible into German wasn’t the first. But it became the translation with the most impact!", https://twitter.com/museumofBible/status/1186661074512371712
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Given below are my comments (slightly edited) on my post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2629777963905431 :

[The post had my share comment: "Camel rides may not be a great idea for everyone!" and shared this video: https://www.facebook.com/insanetypewriterr/videos/680958819081798/.]

In response to a comment, I wrote:
I should say that I too am struggling with a tummy that is much larger than it should be. But then I think I will keep away from riding camels!
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

For me, the reclusive life as well as social media writer (and 2 regular books now) work, after around September 2011 when I drastically cut down my involvement with Sai university, has led to a very sedentary life. That along with some other factors like stress when exposing Muddenahalli group false belief and contributing to reversing hijack of some parts of Prasanthi Nilayam by Muddenahalli group, contributed to a strange life leading to big tummy.

Now I have drastically cut down on my activities related to exposing Muddenahalli group as I feel the main task of informing interested people among the Sai devotee fraternity and also larger public, is done. The info. is easily accessible on the Internet. If people still want to go to Muddenhalli group then that's their choice and their destiny. So the stress of that period is largely gone now.

Getting the 1st and 2nd book out was very challenging. The 2nd book had pictures within and was sensitive as it is an autobio (part), and that resulted in lots of issues. So that was a pretty stressful period. Now that has almost got finished.

So now I am taking a step back and trying to focus on project Tummy Reduction. I am trying hard to exercise more, eat less etc. but do not succeed all the time. Some success followed by some failure and then some efforts again and some success .... This is a battle :-). But I think I am slowly and steadily getting a grip on the issue and hope to have significant success in Project Tummy Reduction in the next couple of months.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
The splinter group developed over time and publicly came out in May 2014. But right from July 2011 they had started their work ***privately***. Further, right after Mahasamadhi of Bhagavan in end April 2011, Puttaparthi and Prasanthi Nilayam got into severe trauma as there was a great power struggle, with the splinter group forming at least partly due to this power struggle. So the trauma started right from May-June 2011 for people like me!

I must also say here that while I revere Bhagavan and his teachings, I am comfortable with some of his teachings but am not so comfortable with some others like Ahimsa, as perhaps I am not spiritually mature enough to understand those teachings. So I try to follow some of Bhagavan's teachings but even there due to my many human flaws, trip up here & there.

About food: As I have a weak digestive system, even when Bhagavan was in physical form, I used to eat food mostly from particular outside ashram eateries whose food suited my digestive system. But sometimes I did eat at PN canteens.

I do not cook food at home except for tea, coffee, Knorr soup,  sometimes Atta noodles and stuff like that.

Prior to Bhagavan Mahasamadhi, even though I used to eat food in outside eateries, I was very careful to usually eat 'safe' food like Idli, Dosa, Tomato rice, rice-meals etc. I was then more in satthwic mode avoiding confrontation and being willing to withdraw from a dispute typically rather than engage in it, and was focused on my individual sadhana, along with some amount of collective sadhana through free Seva at the university.

After Bhagavan Mahasamadhi, I essentially suspended my individual sadhana. I focused on trying to contribute to the collective group as it was undergoing the immediate post Mahasamadhi trauma.

And as things got worse, with power craze gripping some guys in power in the University, I started getting into Rajisic mode as I felt it to be necessary. So instead of quietly withdrawing, I started questioning the unethical actions of some guys. That resulted in heavy reaction from those in power ...

To cut a long story short, the rajisic mode has continued right from then, as I felt it to be necessary. Now perhaps I will be reducing it to some extent but as I lead an outside ashram life I think some amount of Rajas is necessary to prevent being bulldozed by some people who try to dominate.

And my food habits changed as I wanted to blend in with the community in outside ashram Puttaparthi, and also Rayalaseema locals. So at times, I eat Ragi Mudda with very hot pappu and chutney taken from a local eatery. I find that I can digest it even if I sweat at the time I am eating it due to the very hot pappu and chutney!

While I know that ideal food for the spiritual guy is satthwic food cooked at home, I have a different approach as of now at least. I would like to be connected to the outside ashram community and so I want to have food with the community.

The lady at the local eatery from where I usually take Ragi Mudda parcel, once asked me, "Chicken tintaava?". I politely declined :-). I don't want to go as far as Non-veg or alcohol when it comes to associating with outside ashram community and locals community.

I don't eat sweets on a regular basis but at times I do take it. Especially if I feel drained of energy, I take sweets. My ayurvedic doctor in Dombivli had suggested this to me, and it works very well for me.

But sugar and dairy milk powder for tea and coffee prepared at home, or sugar & milk for tea & coffee outside, is typical stuff for me.

You may be avoiding a lot of the above that I have mentioned. There are quite a few in Puttaparthi also who avoid at least some of the stuff I have mentioned above.

Another aspect is that I realized that outside ashram life is such that some amount of fat and muscle on a person's body gets the person some respect! Really! My tummy now is not too much as per local (outside ashram) norms. In fact, I think it gets recognized as this guy seems to not have money problems as otherwise how could he have that tummy! A sign of prosperity! But the spiritual aspirant in me feels ashamed of a tummy that protrudes too much. I mean, I am not looking for a flat body-builder kind of tummy - some amount of protruding tummy is OK but not too much.

If a person is too thin, some locals may consider the person to be an easy pushover in case of any dispute. As I write on social media now and sometimes about sensitive matters, I don't want to appear, even at physical level, to be an easy pushover to bullies.

To end this comment, let me share something typical of my food habits now. Prior to me getting into outside ashram & locals community (prior to Mahasamadhi), I used to avoid or take very limited amount of raw onion. But as I got into the locals community life, I saw that raw onion is common along with many food items. I remembered the incident of Shirdi Sai Baba and eating raw onions where he says to the Brahmin visitor who is alarmed at seeing Baba eating raw onion with his Bhakri or similar grain food item, that those who can digest the (raw) onion should eat it.

So I took to freely eating raw onions along with the main dish. I think that helps in providing energy even if it is Rajasic energy.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
Knorr soup and Atta noodles are not a regular part of my diet. They are typically alternatives that I use when, for some reason or the other, I am not in a position to go outside to an eatery and eat freshly or relatively freshly cooked food.

About MSG, chemical preservatives etc. - I view that as a known risk. Note that outside ashram eateries in Parthi of the kind I visit (middle class type or some times lower middle class type) are not very hygienic, and so have their own issues. I view that again as a known risk. And such known risks are faced by many people in Puttaparthi, locals and non-locals who do not have home-cooked food as an option on a regular basis. I go with that risk rather than go for a protected and safe food lifestyle which may need me to cook my food, and which is what (cooking their own food) many hard-core spiritual aspirants do (and what family people in Puttaparthi do). I want to essentially be with the common folk in outside ashram Puttaparthi on this. Live & die with them as they are my physical-world-level community since I left the ashram system in mid 2012 and decided to live an outside-ashram life with them as not only my community but also my support base when I need help for my physical-worldly-life. I use the term physical-worldly life to contrast it to virtual world life like my Facebook & blog and email writings & interactions.

Note that earlier when I offered free service in the ashram system (Oct. 2002 to Mar. 2012), I stayed outside the ashram but most of my waking life was either inside the ashram system or in my room/flat where I would engage in individual sadhana. My friends community in Puttaparthi was mostly people in the ashram system, and I viewed that as my community. My interactions with locals and outside ashram community was limited to just the bare minimum needed as I lived outside the ashram. I had very limited idea and that too was based on rather fanciful notions, about the lives of locals, their challenges and how they handled it.

Now I am quite knowledgeable about their lives as ***they are my community now***. I am no longer a part of the ashram system community, and have very limited interactions with ashram system community folks now (a reversal from how it was from Oct. 2002 to Mar. 2012) though I am a well wisher of PN ashram system.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
First let me respond to your sentence, "You were probably shocked to see your dear community getting split right in front of your eyes."

The bodily passing away of my beloved and revered Gurudev, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and the power-craze madness that gripped some people in power then, was perhaps my biggest real-life lesson about human society, the vital role that leadership plays, mad levels of jealousy among those who wanted leadership roles but did not get it, and abuse of power in dictatorial systems like ashram systems.

Puttaparthi ashram system was a mini-world even while Sathya Sai was in living form. It was not a typical ashram system dominated by spiritual monks or nuns. Barring Sathya Sai, during my stint in the ashram system from Oct. 2002 to Mar. 2012, there was no other ochre robe person (sannyasi/monk) in the system with any clout! Yes, there was one ochre robed person that I recall but he was given some duties related to maintenance of Swami parents' samadhi area, and did not have any clout in the ashram system proper.

Puttaparthi ashram system was a reflection of regular society outside in terms of the composition of its residents. The vast majority were family people, with sizeable number of retirees/pensioners. Running the schools, university, hospitals, canteens, accommodation, shopping centre ... were the major responsibilities. Prasanthi Nilayam was, and continues to be, a full fledged township.

And so the power struggle in the ashram system, after Sathya Sai's bodily passing away, was reflective of similar power struggles elsewhere in regular society, like in proprietorship company when the proprietor passes away, or political party when the top founder of the party passes away etc. There were power struggles earlier too but if it was a big matter it would go to Sathya Sai, and barring the last few years when his health had deteriorated very much, his decision was ***final***. He was essentially the Maharaj (emperor/king) of the ashram system OR CEO as some in the ashram system would say. Sathya Sai was an awesome king of his ashram system. His justice was extraordinary as he would know the inner thoughts and motives of people which the normal justice system judges do not have access to, but he would also bear in mind the role of the people involved. So he would have great respect for vice-chancellor of Sai university, director of Super hospital etc. If some person behaved badly with VC or Director even if he/she had some valid complaint, and the matter got escalated to Swami, the most probable outcome would be the person being thrown out of the system! I mean, issues & problems raised with top administrators of ashram system had to be done with lot of respect and as pleadings! That's the way it was. If one did not like it, one was welcome to leave it.

How could anybody, or any group of people (like a set of trustees), fill Sathya Sai's shoes (or rather footwear) on his bodily passing away! No chance whatsoever! Chaos and power struggle were inevitable after his bodily passing away.

But to see that happen in the system that I was in, and with some people becoming drunk with power, was very sad at one level, and at another level, made me very angry. Earlier the same persons would have been terrified of the matter getting escalated to Swami. Now Swami was not there in physical form, and so they thought this is now my kingdom. People should do as I say or get out! .... cont'd.
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Cont'd ... And the reality was that the vast majority in the ashram system followed orders of these bosses and got rewarded with safe positions (with good salary hikes for paid staff) in ashram system. Those who did not like the new bosses left. What a change in power structure within just a few months! The Vice-chancellor of Sai university was like a super-boss with guys being really scared of him. "He is a very tough person and we should be careful with him" was the kind of message going around. And I had a direct experience of his Hitler like behaviour when he screamed at me as soon as I entered the VC's chambers (in July 2011) for the dispute I had with the HOD of my dept. as I refused to disassociate myself with a pet project of Swami - Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini - unless the VC told me to do so. The HOD had got jealous of me as I was coming to the limelight for my work there. The VC was not willing to tell me to stop associating with it. But (I was told later) the HOD cornered the VC by threatening to resign if I was not stopped from associating with it. The VC was in a tight corner - if Swami was in physical form, he could have asked Swami. In fact, the HOD would have been terrified to oppose my work in that project if Swami was in physical form. But now, just a few months after Mahasamadhi (Jun-Jul 2011), how the situation had changed!

How did the VC solve it? By screaming at me as if I had committed some heinous crime as soon as I stepped into the VC's chambers, which had the net result of me withdrawing voluntarily from the dept except for 1 hour a week to provide support to an M.Tech. (CS) student for his project work as otherwise that poor student would have landed in a soup.

Earlier the VC was VC of Mysore university (a govt. funded university) and I think in such govt. funded universities the VC, when supported by political bosses, has massive power. But he had rubbed people the wrong way there too with his successor VC and top-level university committee/body planning to file a police complaint against him which would have led to his arrest by the police, and that being prevented by the Governor of Karnataka (Chancellor of the university) stepping in and threatening to withdraw funding to the university after which the successor VC dropped the police complaint plan. All of this was reported in mainstream media and is accessible via Google Search. There was also some report of him having slapped somebody in the university prior to him having become the VC of that university.

So to get some understanding of the vastly changed situation in the ashram system, I started studying dictatorial leaders like Hitler, Stalin and the North Korean Kim dynasty. Quite a few videos were available on youtube besides text articles. I started getting a better understanding of human weakness for abuse of power in dictatorial systems. I recall seeing a CNN video of the young NK leader Kim Jong-un who came to power in December 2011. The video showed some public gathering-event where the whole public and armed forces were saluting or wildly cheering the young leader (then in late twenties perhaps). The CNN commentator said something on the lines of: when a person gets such level of adulation, it must be having some impact on his mind and behaviour. In other words, the person may start believing he really is a "Great Leader".

And I also read up about cult leaders who get into "chosen one" (by God) belief. I felt some of the young guys in PN system who were in positions of power may have got into I am the "chosen one" (by God) or "Great Leader" kind of mindset, as all people around them were saluting them and praising them, and anybody who dissented could be disposed off under some pretext or another. Then there was this horrible culture of spies sucking up to the bosses and complaining or informing about dissenters. This was there to some extent earlier too but once again Swami's justice was superhuman/divine insight justice, and so spies impact was limited unless it was a genuine problem. But after Swami Mahasamadhi there was no check on this palace intrigue kind of stuff in the university, and I guess, other parts of the ashram system.

I realized very clearly that palace intrigue kind of behaviour has been the norm in circles of power for most of the history of humankind. I mean, I had read about such stuff earlier, of course. But to see that happen in front of my eyes, after Swami Mahasamadhi in the Sai university and which seems to have been happening in other parts of the ashram system too, was a great lesson to me about the reality of power and misuse of power.

Freedom and democracy became much more cherished ideals for me, after having gone through this experience. So now I am a lover and open supporter of democracy. And I study democratic processes (and share them on social media) like the one going in UK for Brexit, to improve my understanding of how these democratic processes work (including their flaws) in our times.
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Noted your input about food. Agree with your statement: "As long as we listen to our bodies closely, we will be safe with our diets."

Good to know that you cook Ragi at times.

I should add on my diet stuff that my normal food is rice-meals (South Indian style), Tomato rice, Idli (sometimes Wada - I don't want to stop taking fried food completely as of now at least) and Dosa. My usual eatery is a Nair family run eatery (outside the ashram) with the main guy also being a born-and-bred Bombayite who has also spent some time in Dombivli. I have an account with him (where I pay in advance), and the relationship now is a very friendly one with all the staff. One cook and one waiter are from Jharkhand.

But I also visit other similar eateries, including some Idli, Dosa and Chapatti stalls (I usually take Idli; I find it a little difficult to digest Chapatti), especially in the evening. Vegetable-rice (without oil) is another regular item for me in the evenings from an Oriya guy run food stall with whom also I have become very friendly.

So my regular diet is a rather safe South Indian diet but I do take Rayalaseema (veg only) stuff from local eateries at times like, as I mentioned earlier, Ragi mudda with very spicy pappu and chutney.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
Noted your comments about food and health. Thanks.

Power-craze in dictatorial systems is a very strange thing. In my software industry career I never encountered anything like that at all.

I think the VC was a hot-tempered guy who thought he was doing good. He came under the influence of Narasimhamurthy, who became mad thinking that he was getting dream-instructions from Bhagavan for the mission, and I think there is a good possibility that the VC was advised by Narasimhamurthy to shout at me. Narasimhamurthy is a known powermonger even during days when Bhagavan was in physical form. He was viewed as the king of Brindavan campus.

The HOD was just plain jealous and thought himself to be super-knowledgeable and wanted to get rid of me as I was not a yes sir, yes sir kind of guy and was instead challenging some of his views and decisions related to teaching of software development (he did not know anything really about software development, except for some project management stuff as he was a project manager in IBM Australia, with an earlier career in electrical engineering after which he did a Ph.D. in Robotics related area in Australia).

I think it was essentially a human weakness issue when some people/coterie are in power and there are no mechanisms to hold them accountable. Sai university was a private university and so no accountability mechanisms at all for the public even though there was some accountability to UGC. All three of us - the VC, HOD and me were offering free service. So I think all three of us did not have to worry about "losing the job" as there was no financial impact to us.

Perhaps the HOD felt "divinely inspired" (you may be surprised at how much of such decisions in spiritual movements get decided by what are considered to be "divinely inspired" thoughts/ideas) that he rid the department of me, so that the dept. can focus on producing academic research papers and have minimal effort on teaching of mundane programming/software development. UGC/NAAC are not bothered about how well students are taught. They assess educational institutions on research publication output. Government research grants (big money besides prestige) are given based on research publication output.

I was least interested in academic research - only interested in teaching. So perhaps I was a misfit in academia. But my point is that they could have just told me that look we are not interested in your software development expertise and as you are not interested in publishing academic research papers, it is best that we part ways. That would have been a nice way for us to part ways.

I think the bottom line was that Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini was a Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust funded project which Sathya Sai himself had shown interest in, and where TCS (the big software company) was associated. They could not flat out tell me to stop working on it because they did not like it. They perhaps were scared of how Central Trust would have reacted. So it led to horrible politics by HOD along with resignation threat which cornered the VC, and the VC may have then been advised by powermonger-dictator Narasimhamurthy to simply scream at me thereby silencing me. And that worked as the culture in Sai university when Swami was in physical form was to always be super-respectful to VC, and I continued to follow that a few months after Swami Mahasamadhi.

Note that academic qualifications wise, I was B.Sc. Physics, and so I could be given only Visiting Faculty designation and not a regular designation like Lecturer/Asst. Professor as that needed a Masters in associated field or Ph.D. And according to UGC rules, services of a "Visting Faculty" can be terminated without giving any reason. So essentially, from UGC point of view, the VC could throw me out, without any concern whatsoever!

But I got my own back in May 2012 as I cornered the VC and Registrar on a nasty thing the Sai university had done where they had shown me as "Teaching Assistant" instead of my designation of "Visting Faculty", in some QA document prepared by the university and submitted to UGC (or some other academic regulatory authority). While I had not known then that that was a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code (record tampering), I knew that I had cornered them as I could complain about it to UGC and MHRD (Union Ministry of Human Resources Development). They may have done that as if they had said "Visiting Faculty" in that QA document, I would not have been counted as regular faculty and they might have wanted to show a high regular faculty count. So it was a cheap trick they used. There were 2 other persons who were offering free service like me and whose academic qualifications did not enable Sai university bosses to give a proper faculty designation and so "Visiting Faculty" was given to them officially - these 2 persons were also shown as "Teaching Assistants" with one of them being a Professor of Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras who was teaching in Maths & Comp. Sc. dept of Sai university (UGC rules wise his Mechanical Engg. field may perhaps have been viewed as inappropriate for Maths & Computer Science field!).

In 2015/2016, I decided to publicly document my May 2012 correspondence and comments on the matter as a way to expose what the VC had done then (with the VC having been a key supporter of Muddenahalli group in a hidden way till Nov. 2014 when he stepped down as VC, and openly from then on), and as a way to bring some fear in Asathya-Adharma crooks in Sai university administration to follow the law of the land or else face the consequences. If you want to have a look at the loooong post here it is: My May 2012 service record & record tampering related correspondence with Sai university (SSSIHL) administrators, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2015/11/my-may-2012-service-record-record.html.
...
I continued to live in Puttaparthi as I found that I could get out of the ashram system and lead an outside-ashram life which was agreeable to me. I found that outside ashram Puttaparthi was very suitable for my life after mid 2012.

About being calm now while talking about it: Well, I have been through the wringer, boss, especially when I contributed to exposing Muddenahalli group. So now I can look back at these things more calmly.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
You wrote, "Baba would have protected you had he been alive". I am sure of that based on my experience with Baba on some private matter in 2010.

My experience of Sathya Sai Baba has been that he was totally faithful to me in his role as Guru which is how I viewed him, in my period in PN from Oct. 2002 to April 2011 when he gave up his physical body.

He was loving (if I have not shared this with you, I can privately share a pic of Baba and me where he was loving towards me) when needed, angry when needed, and was always, always giving discourses on how to improve ourselves and progress spiritually, which have been ***hugely*** beneficial to me. Note that I have heard many of his discourses live in Sai Kulwant Hall, and today I feel that he sensed some of the doubts that I had at that time, and answered them in those discourses.

So while SSSIHL administration guys from vice-chancellor downwards have treated me badly, the founder-chancellor of SSSIHL, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, has always been fair to me, and I have gained enormously from a spiritual point of view from him!

This is the strange situation that I found myself in, in immediate post-Mahasamadhi days. One of the reasons I chose to continue on in Puttaparthi at least for a few years more then was to try to repay Sathya Sai in some small part, for the great spiritual benefits I got from him, by contributing  in a small way to somewhat peaceful transition in PN system and Puttaparthi town during the traumatic immediate post-Mahasamadhi days.

And I think that decision was the right one, as when Muddenahalli group did come out in the open in May 2014, I was well positioned as an ***independent*** outside ashram Puttaparthi resident and blogger (since Sept. 2011) to expose it on social media and contribute to reversing hijack of some part of PN ashram system including Sai university.
...
And I agree with you when you say, "If you were working for money, they would have easily controlled you with their games". I would have been offered a significant salary increase and a better designation. I would have taken it and become either a supporter of Narasimhamurthy or at least kept mum about Narasimhamurthy.
...
"Working under people who expect us to be yes-men is extremely stressful for independent minded people." - You are spot on! ... And the expectation of juniors to be yes-men may be couched in terms of "discipline", and dissent may be termed as "ego". ... I am very, very wary about the word "discipline" now as I have read about it being used to justify atrocious misuse of power by spiritual system bosses across the world. The Catholic church has some vow of obedience which has been used in some cases by priest-bosses to do really atrocious things to their juniors.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
Thanks for engaging with me on this bro.. My part of the comment exchange (not your part and with all references to you removed from my comments) will go into a Miscellaneous blog post (for month of Oct. 2019) on my blog. This is as part of my self-assumed role as one of the ***unofficial*** chroniclers of some parts of Sathya Sai movement. Your comments provided the stimulus for my response comments. So thanks again for the interest you have shown in this matter.
----

In response to a comment, I wrote:
No no, please don't feel bad about it. I have realized that my bit role as part chronicler of some parts of Sathya Sai movement is or may be an important role, from viewpoint of spiritual movements in future.

You may wonder why I say so. Well, as I saw the madness grip PN system after Swami Mahasamadhi, I started studying what happened after Shirdi Sai Mahasamadhi, after Ramana Maharshi mahasamadhi and also after Jesus Christ crucifixion. I had already known of the absolutely devastating things that happened after Krishna gave up his body. That was super-horrible.

In the context of 20th century, which we can relate to better, I made a lot of efforts in primarily Internet based research to know what happened after Shirdi Sai and Ramana Mahasamadhi. I got only limited information. It was a struggle to get it. But even that limited information was very useful for me to come to grips with what was happening in PN system.

Abdul Baba who used to clean Shirdi Baba's masjid, started posing as Shirdi Sai Baba in immediate post-Mahasamadhi period there! Perhaps his source of income dried up as there was no dakshina coming to Shirdi Sai Baba which would result in him getting some money! One of the respected and well educated elder devotees asked Abdul Baba to put a stop to it.

Ramana ashram income dropped drastically after Ramana Mahasamadhi. I read that food for the community meals being provided there became scarce! It required some changes in Ramana ashram system/routine to get devotees to come and donations to be made.

SBI bank manager told me in the months after Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi that donation to Sathya Sai trust had come down to zero!

Survival instinct among humans is a very powerful one. When people feel that their survival is threatened, they can behave in very selfish ways. Outside ashram Puttaparthi economy was absolutely devastated for not just months but a few years after Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi. The ashram itself seemed desolate and empty! Sanathana Sarathi subscription plunged!

I think, for paid ashram staff whose families depended on their income, economic survival became top priority. Questioning decisions of people like the Vice-chancellor would have directly threatened the paid job of Sai university employees. Just follow orders and ensure that one's job is safe. Mad fellows like Anilkumar Kamaraju sir and me chose to question the bosses of Sai university and paid the price by being thrown out. Nobody in Sai university could come to our defense as they were scared that they too might lose their jobs.

Forget about Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and all that - focus on retaining job and earning salary without angering big boss Vice-chancellor, and dictator Narasimhamurthy. That's what became the attitude.

Chronicling this as one of the unfortunate, but understandable from human survival point of view, attitude of Sai university paid employees, is important, for current & future understanding of Sathya Sai Avatar and Sathya Sai movement. When compared to the horrific things that happened after Krishna gave up his body, these things are minor. Nobody lost his life due to this madness. All survived in some way or the other. Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema values took a hit but that can recover over the years.

Maybe when Prema Sai Avatar takes Mahasamadhi and there is some chaos there, some guys then may be wanting to know in depth what happened after Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi. This kind of information being chronicled - I put up my blog data on archive.org as well - may be helpful to them then, if archive.org and/or my blog continues to be around then.
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Fascinating to see a video clip of Dalai Lama in India in 1959 after fleeing Tibet that had been invaded by the Chinese army then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lounJuTaiSc, 2 min. 21 secs.
=============

Very interesting read for those who are into deep spiritual and religious matters: Mariam Thresia Chiramel, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariam_Thresia_Chiramel.

She lived from 1876 to 1926 and was based in a village in Thrissur district of Kerala.

My ancestors on my father's side were also based in the same Thrissur district of Kerala but were associated with the Hindu temple of Koodalmanikyam in Irinjalakuda.

It is wonderful that this devout lady from this place has now been canonized as a saint by Pope Francis.
...
Who is Mariam Thresia, The Fourth Indian to Be Canonised? | The Quint, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwljrrR4TIY, 1 min. 49 secs. published on 13th Oct. 2019.
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Sai Ram! Wonderful to see this in Chile! (Video is less than a minute.)
[Shared FB video link: https://www.facebook.com/sathyasaichile/videos/1349688765207579/]
============

Interesting! Good to see Roman Catholic Church discuss such ethical/moral issues with some leaders of the computing field.

[Shared article link: Pope Francis warns Silicon Valley that if it isn't careful with AI it could lead to an 'unfortunate regression to a form of barbarism', https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/pope-francis-warns-silicon-valley-that-if-it-isnt-careful-with-ai-it-could-lead-to-an-unfortunate-regression-to-a-form-of-barbarism/articleshow/71379105.cms.]

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Fascinating encounter between Lord Parashurama and Lord Rama in Valmiki Ramayana - Part 2 of 2

Minor update on 23rd Oct. 2019

This post follows up on my earlier post: Fascinating encounter between Lord Parashurama and Lord Rama in Valmiki Ramayana - Part 1 of 2, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/10/fascinating-encounter-between-lord.html.

[Note that the Valmiki Ramayan verses referenced in this chapter can be seen here: https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/sloka?field_kanda_tid=1&language=dv&field_sarga_value=76 and https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/baala/sarga76/bala_76_frame.htm]

Lord Rama responds to Lord  Parashurama: O Bhargava (Parashurama) I have heard of the work you have done to repay the debt to your father and appreciate it. [Verse 1-76-2]

O Bhargava (Parashurama) you are belittling me as if I am without valour and ability to perform duties of a Kshatriya. Now see my power and valour! [Verse: 1-76-3]

After saying this, the enraged Rama quickly seized the bow and arrow from the hands of Parashurama. [Verse: 1-76-4]

Enraged Rama bent the bow, stretched its string and affixed the arrow to it, and then told Parashurama: [Verse: 1-76-5]

You are a Brahmin and related to Vishwamitra and so you are worthy of homage (worship). So I am not able to release this life-taking arrow on you. [Verse: 1-76-6]

O Parashurama, I shall destroy your ability to move around or the higher worlds you earned through your matchless ascetic power. Tell me which one you desire (me to destroy). [Verse: 1-76-7]

This divine arrow of Vishnu is the conqueror of enemy citadels and destroyer of their strength and vigour, and it shall not go in vain. [Verse: 1-76-8]

To see this encounter, divine beings of various kinds (devas, gandharvas, siddhas etc.) had assembled.

Then as Rama is wielding the great bow, the world was motionless. Parashurama, the son of Jamadagni, became powerless and gazed (in astonishment) at Rama! [Verse: 1-76-11]

Parashurama who is motionless and whose power and energy has been subdued by the prowess of Rama, slowly and softly spoke to lotus petal eyed one (Rama): [Verse: 1-76-12]

When I previously gave this entire earth to Kashyapa, he told me that I shall not live in this country. O Rama, I promised Kashyapa that I shall not live here during night time as the earth belongs to him. [Verses: 1-76-13 & 14]

Therefore O valiant son of the Raghus (Raghav i.e. Rama), do not destroy my ability to move around. I shall go to Mountain Mahendra, the best of mountains, with the speed of mind. [Verse: 1-76-15]

O Rama, without delay strike the unrivalled (higher) worlds that I conquered through my asceticism (tapas) [Verse: 1-76-16]

By (your feat of) stretching this (great) bow, I have come to know that you are the imperishable, Lord of devatas (divine beings), the slayer of Madhu (Lord Vishnu) and the tormentor of enemies. May you do well! [Verse: 1-76-17]

The hosts of divine beings (devatas) assembled here are gazing at you, who are invincible in combat and incomparable in your deeds. [Verse: 1-76-18]

It is not appropriate for me to feel shame at being defeated by you, O descendent of Kakustha (Lord Rama) who are lord of the three worlds. [Verse: 1-76-19]

O Rama, you are faithful to your vows. (So) the right action is for you to release the arrow. After you have released the arrow, I shall go to the best of mountains - Mahendra. [Verse: 1-76-20]

As Parashurama said these words, the valiant son of Dasharatha (Lord Rama) released the great arrow. [Verse: 1-76-21]

After seeing the destruction of the worlds that he had gained through his ascetism by the hand of Lord Rama (the arrow he shot), Lord Parashurama went to Mahendra, the best of mountains. [Verse: 1-76-22]

Then the darkness dissipated in all directions. The assembled rishis (sages) and divine beings extolled Lord Rama who was holding the upraised weapon (great bow). [Verse: 1-76-23]

The able Lord Parashurama praised Lord Rama and circumabulated him (as worship), and left for his abode. [Verse: 1-76-24]

Ravi: Fascinating encounter! Lord Rama's greatness as a warrior gets greatly enhanced by him accepting the challenge from Lord Parashurama and easily passing the challenge. Not only does he show that he can handle the great bow of Lord Vishnu, he also makes Lord Parashurama pay for having made the challenge by saying that the powerful arrow he has fit on the great bow will either destroy's Parashurama's mobility or destroy the worlds that he had gained from asceticism! Lord Parashurama chooses the latter.

Another interesting aspect is that when Rama takes the great bow of Lord Vishnu, Lord Parashurama loses his vigour and strength and is made motionless! Now Lord Parashurama understands well that Lord Rama is a great divine power. Lord Parashurama also shows the good sense to acknowledge and defer to this great divine power that Lord Rama is!

It is such encounters that tell us about how great Lord Rama's warrior power was, and that it was superhuman. And even in Lord Rama's life itself, after this encounter with Lord Parashurama, Lord Rama's fame as a superhuman warrior would have reached great heights, and would have spread across the lands in Bharat of those days.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Pope John Paul II's 10 day visit to India in 1986

India Today news report on Pope John Paul II's visit to India in 1986 titled: "Pope John Paul II visits India, imbues Indian Catholic church with a new sense of pride". The article says, "The multitudes thronged the roads, airports and public grounds as the Polish-born Pontiff zipped around 13 Indian cities, borne by Indian Air Force planes and the ubiquitous bullet-proof Popemobile."

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/nation/story/19860228-pope-john-paul-ii-visits-india-imbues-indian-catholic-church-with-a-new-sense-of-pride-800606-1986-02-28

He was in India for 10 days in that visit!

I recall that Pope John Paul II was quite popular in India with the Indian press usually giving good reports about him.

It should also be mentioned that I read somewhere that there were protests against his visit too, on the conversion/evangelization issue but I think it was not too big.

He visited India again in 1999 for 3 days, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pastoral_visits_of_Pope_John_Paul_II.

I had formed a good impression about Pope John Paul II as he seemed to be saying good things as reported by Indian media. And he came across as a pious and loving person.

But I don't know about how rigid he was on evangelization & conversion which are hot-button issues in India, and what his views were about other religions like Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism (besides Christianity of both Catholic and Protestant denominations) which are the significant religions practiced in India in Pope John Paul's II time as well as now.
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Very touching to see Pope John Paul II in his 1986 visit to India, pay reverential respect & prayers at Mahatma Gandhi samadhi. The Pope is seen from slightly after 2 min. 30 secs into the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqOpWAtXWBE, 6 min. 6 secs.
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Pope John Paul II's Kottayam, Kerala (India) visit in 1986, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOWf6iqu2qI, 2 min. 53 secs.
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Fascinating encounter between Lord Parashurama and Lord Rama in Valmiki Ramayana - Part 1 of 2

Recently I read about the fascinating encounter between Lord Parashurama, regarded as the sixth Avatar of Vishnu, and Lord Rama, the seventh Avatar of Vishnu, in Kamala Subramaniam's Ramayana (Abridged English version).

Lord Parushurama, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parashurama, was born in a Brahmin (priestly) family of Rishi/Sage Jamadagni and Renuka, who lived in a hut (and so implies a simple rishi family life). But Parashurama is viewed as carrying traits of Kshatriya (warrior).

A Kshatriya prince forcibly takes away a miraculous wish-fulfilling (Kamadhenu) cow (called Surabhi) from Sage Jamadagni at which time Parashurama is away. When Parashurama comes to know of it, he challenges the king to battle with an axe (Parashu word in Sanskrit seems to mean axe). The king is killed by Parashurama. Later other warriors of the Kshatriya class fight with Parashurama and all these warriors get killed by him.

Sage Jamadagni reprimands Parashurama for these killings saying that a Brahmin should never kill a king. He asks Parashurama to expiate for his sins of these killings by going on pilgrimage, which Parashurama obeys.

When Parashurama returns from pilgrimage, he is told that his father Sage Jamadagni was killed by Kshatriyas (warrior class) as revenge (for Parashurama's killings). Parashurama again kills many Kshatriyas with his axe.

At the time Parashurama has this encounter with Rama, Parashurama has stopped his killings of Kshatriyas and retired to the forests and a mountain. So his anger against Kshatriyas is said to have abated.

Valmiki Ramayan Sanskrit text with English translation as provided by https://www.valmikiramayan.net/, covers the encounter in these three pages (sargas/chapters 74, 75 and 76): https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/baala/sarga74/bala_74_frame.htm, https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/baala/sarga75/bala_75_frame.htm and
https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/baala/sarga76/bala_76_frame.htm .

Lord Parashurama tells Lord Rama that he has heard about his exploits of killing Tataka demoness and of breaking Lord Shiva's bow. [Verse: 1-75-1]

Parashurama tells Rama that the bow he (Parashurama) has is a great bow of Lord Vishnu (which was made at the same time Lord Shiva's bow was made) and that he (Rama) should take this bow, string an arrow on it, with the bowstring strung right up to his ear, thereby showing his capability. [Verse: 1-75-3]

And that if he (Rama) is able to demonstrate his strength, then Rama will be considered (by him) as a valarous person and so Parashurama will provide him combat (duel with him). [Verse: 1-75-4]

[Ravi: In the days of Lords Parashurama and Rama, it is the bow & arrow that was the primary weapon of the warriors. So Parashurama wants to battle with the new hero, Lord Rama, and see who is greater as a warrior, himself or Lord Rama!]

King Dasharatha becomes very worried on hearing this. He pleads with Lord Parashurama that he is a Brahmin of great asceticism  and that his (Parashurama's) fury against Kshatriyas had abated long back. Dasharatha says that it will be more apt of Lord Parashurama to grant fearlessness (from him) to his sons who are still young. [Verse: 1-75-6]

Lord Parashurama ignores the pleas of King Dasharatha. He tells Lord Rama about the history of the two great bows of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva's bow was the one that Rama broke at King Janaka's court.

Lord Parashurama tells Rama that the bow that Lord Vishnu had was given to his ancestors which got passed on eventually to him.

Parashurama says: On hearing about the breaking of Lord Shiva's great bow, I came here promptly. So Rama, wield this great bow of Lord Vishnu that has been passed down to me by my forefathers and my father. Show your loyalty to Kshatriya dharma (warrior conduct) and wield this great bow of Lord Vishnu. [Verse: 1-75-26b, 1-75-27]

Parashurama continues: Wield this great bow with an enemy citadel conquering arrow, and if you are capable of doing that, then I will have a duel (battle) with you. [Verse: 1-75-28]
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Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Rama Katha Rasavahini covers this encounter and that part can be read online here: http://www.sssbpt.info/vahinis/RamakathaI/Ramakatha1-08.pdf.

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

What is shamanism? Initial part of a four part video series on shamans in Himachal Pradesh, North India

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamanism:

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.[1 -  Singh, Manvir (2017). "The cultural evolution of shamanism". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 41: e66: 1–61. doi:10.1017/S0140525X17001893. PMID 28679454.]
--- end wiki extract ---

"Shamans of the Himalayas" is a four episode series by Anu Malhotra covering shamans in Himachal Pradesh, North India. Anu Malhotra seems to be quite well known as she has a wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anu_Malhotra.

Here's an article on her Shamans video series: A Himalayan mystery, https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/A-Himalayan-mystery/article15680543.ece, October 2010

The article quotes Dr. Karan Singh, President, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), as saying, “What is called Shamans is a part of an unbroken tradition since the dawn of civilisations. The idea that it is possible to interact with invisible forces and those invisible forces can have a direct impact on our lives. Five thousand years ago, before the evolution of religion, the Shamanistic cults were prevalent. Whether it was the indigenous tribes of North America or Siberia or in India, or any other place, you will see that the Shamanistic tradition was prevalent.”

Here are two videos covering the initial part of this video series, which are available on youtube, and which I found to be quite interesting:

* The shamans of the western Himalayan valley part 1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKddZDTOMR4, 22 min. 22 secs.
* The shamans of the western Himalayan valley part 2, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChkZKeydpng, 24 min. 42 secs.

Here's one website where one can view all the episodes on payment: https://www.gaia.com/series/shamans-himalayas.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

Mongol Empire (1206 - 1368) was largely tolerant of various religions

Last updated on 23rd Oct. 2019

The Mongol empire was founded by Genghiz Khan and lasted from 1206 to 1368 (13th and 14th century), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_Empire. While the Mongols were brutal against anybody (any city/kingdom) that dared to resist their conquest and which has been highlighted in Western accounts of them, what is not so well known is the religious tolerance that the Mongol empire largely had. In an age where religion and ruler were closely aligned and so there were religious wars like the Crusades between European Christians and Middle East Muslims (in 11th, 12th and 13th centuries), it is extraordinary and very praiseworthy that the Mongol empire was tolerant of different religions.

I have given below the introduction section from the Religion in the Mongol Empire wiki page,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Mongol_Empire :

The Mongols were highly tolerant of most religions during the early Mongol Empire, and typically sponsored several at the same time. At the time of Genghis Khan in the 13th century, virtually every religion had found converts, from Buddhism to Eastern Christianity and Manichaeanism to Islam. To avoid strife, Genghis Khan set up an institution that ensured complete religious freedom, though he himself was a Shamanist. Under his administration, all religious leaders were exempt from taxation, and from public service.[1] Mongol emperors were known for organizing competitions of religious debates among clerics, and these would draw large audiences.

Initially, there were few normal places of worship, because of the nomadic lifestyle. However, under Genghis's successor Ögedei, several building projects were undertaken in the Mongol capital of Karakorum. Along with palaces, Ogedei built houses of worship for the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and Taoist followers. The dominant religions at that time were Shamanism, Tengriism and Buddhism, although Ogodei's wife was a Christian.[2] In later years of the empire, three of the four principal khanates embraced Islam, as Islam was favored over other religions.[3][4][5] The Yuan dynasty mainly adopted Tibetan Buddhism while there were other religions practiced in the east of the Mongol Empire.
...
[Wiki References]
1. Weatherford 2004, p. 69.
2. Weatherford 2004, p. 135.
3. Encyclopedia 1920, p. 680.
4. Ezzati 2002, p. 274.
5. Bukharaev 2000, p. 145.

--- end wiki extracts ---

According to http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols/history/history7.htm, Marco Polo wrote that Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghiz Khan and ruler of China part of Mongol empire) said, "There are prophets who are worshipped and to whom everybody does reverence. The Christians say their god was Jesus Christ; the Saracens, Mohammed; the Jews, Moses; and the idolaters Sakamuni Borhan [that is, Sakiamuni Buddha, who was the first god to the idolaters]; and I do honor and reverence to all four, that is to him who is the greatest in heaven and more true, and him I pray to help me."

It must also be said that there were cases of religious persecution in latter part of Mongol empire. But perhaps it can be said that, largely, Mongol Empire practised religious tolerance.
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Given below are some of my comments (slightly edited) from my associated Facebook post:  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2625135774369650

In response to a comment, I wrote:
Hinduism does not seem to have been a noted religion in the Mongol empire.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
Well, in India, Hinduism is given great importance as it is a majority religion. What is quite clear from my readings is that the Mongol empire did not include significant part of India (except perhaps Pakistan). By Chengiz (Ghengiz) Khan time (late 12th and early 13th century), Islam would have become a dominant religion in Pakistan. When Chengiz Khan returned to his base in China then, from a campaign in Persia, he sent a contingent (group) from his army to go to what is Pakistan and Afghanistan today. Those areas would have been under Islamic rule then, under the Delhi Sultanate. Even if Hindus would have been there in significant numbers in places like Lahore then, the Mongol army may have just looted and gone through it.

Hinduism is ancient but the truth seems to be that in Mongol empire times (Genghiz Khan times) it was either not there at all or in very insignificant numbers in Central Asia, Persia & China where formed key parts of the Mongol empire.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
I think in our current information age, with humanity having access to information like never before, we are able to get a better picture of what ***may*** have been the truth, from work done by truth-seeking researchers with integrity. Even such truth-seekers may get only a partial view of what happened. But at least they convey that partial view in a truthful manner.

However one has to be careful not to get caught up in biased accounts meant to portray one particular viewpoint (positive or negative). That's more of propaganda than truth-seeking research.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
My view is that it is true that reputed media sources and reputed Internet sources (some media sources are on the Internet), can be inaccurate. However, there tends to be some amount of error correction over time with truth winning out, for important public matters in our times (2nd half of 20th century onwards).

In current times, I find live video streaming to be a very good source of usually accurate info. I mean, you can just see stuff as it is happening. For example, a little while back I was watching proceedings in the UK House of Commons being streamed live by various UK media outlets (I think I watched The Guardian's live stream). I think the probability of such things being faked is very, very low.

We need to get an idea about the world around us, including its past, to better deal with the world. If we limit ourselves to only what we individually see and hear directly (not on TV or print media or Internet etc.) then we will have a primitive jungle dweller like idea of the world around us. The jungle dweller may be able to manage in the jungle, but for people who live in human society outside the jungle, having a very limited idea about the world around us beyond what we see and hear directly, can make life extremely challenging to live.

Yes, the idea gained about the world around us, including its past, through reputed sources of information may have some inaccuracies, but even with those inaccuracies it provides one a great understanding of the world around us, and helps us better deal with it, IMHO.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
With NASA, I have some level of trust but not complete trust. So while I am aware of Moon Landing of Apollo 11 being challenged as a fake, my view is that if it was really fake then by now that would have been splashed across the international mainstream media (Russian President Putin would have said it and RT would have interviewed him on it). Note that half a century has passed since the Moon landing.

I respect your right to doubt it, and I don't want to engage in a discussion on it. I prefer to go by reports like this one in The Guardian: One giant ... lie? Why so many people still think the moon landings were faked, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/10/one-giant-lie-why-so-many-people-still-think-the-moon-landings-were-faked, 10th July 2019.

You may be dismissive of the above Guardian article. That's fine. We can simply agree to disagree on this.
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[I thank wikipedia and columbia.edu and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) (small extract from columbia.edu) from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Utterly fascinating video of first ever Papal visit to India - Pope Paul VI visit to Bombay in 1964, and his wonderful message to President of India & Archbishop of Bombay

I find this video to capture an utterly fascinating piece of religious history of Christianity in India. The first pope (of Roman Catholic Church) to ever visit India (as per  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_See%E2%80%93India_relations#Bilateral_visits) was Pope Paul VI, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Paul_VI, (previous name: Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini), in December 1964. He was an Italian.

Here's one of the archival videos of this visit: The Pope In India (1964), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qn__9BqS7U, 6 min. 35 secs published by British Pathe.

Pope Paul came to India on an Air India plane! As he came down the steps he did a Namaste gesture (folding palms) at the people gathered to see him!

Pope Paul was received at Santa Cruz airport (then Bombay had only that airport) by then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and other dignitaries including Smt. Indira Gandhi (who would have then been a Union (federal) minister), and Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Gracias.

He attended a Eucharistic Congress in Bombay (the grounds where the congress was held seem to be one of the big maidans (open grounds) after Churchgate terminus).

Cardinal Gracias is the same Cardinal on whom one of my schools, Cardinal Gracias High School in Bandra (East), Bombay, was named. At the time I was studying in the school (1974 to 1978), I don't think I knew much about all this given that I am a Hindu and would not have been in a position to read about such history. But now I am very happy to see the Cardinal on whom one of my schools was named, receive Pope Paul VI, on the first ever visit of a Pope to India!

The then president of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan also is shown meeting the Pope.

Pope Paul VI seems to have been a charismatic Pope! I think he was able to connect well with Indian people on this visit. A lovely smiler and somebody who seems to have been a likeable person!

Pope Paul VI visited an orphanage and also visited the famous Mount Mary Church (official name: Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Our_Lady_of_the_Mount,_Bandra) in Bandra West in Bombay!

I thoroughly enjoyed and feel very blessed by seeing this video. May God bless all who were involved in making the video and also digitizing it and putting it up on youtube!

And then I have been simply bowled over by the wonderful kindness and graciousness shown by Pope Paul VI in his message to President of India and Archbishop of Bombay. I have reproduced below the text from http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/speeches/1964/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_19641205_thanks.html

MESSAGE OF PAUL VI
TO THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA
AND TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY
BEFORE HIS DEPARTURE FOR ROME

Saturday, 5 December 1964

His Excellency Doctor Sarpavepalli Radhakrishnan,
President of the Republic of India
New Delhi.

As we leave the territory of India on Our happy return to A Rome, We cannot omit to reiterate to Your Excellency the profound and sincere gratitude We feel for the honour done to Us by Your Excellency and by the Government of India, and for the innumerable kindnesses which made Our visit a spiritual success. We beg Almighty God to reserve for Your Excellency and the beloved Indian people a rich recompense of favours and graces, particularly of harmonious peace in justice.

PAULUS PP. VI

* * *

Having returned safely to Our home after the unforgettable celebration of the Eucharistic Congress in Bombay, We would ask Your Excellency kindly to accept this further assurance of Our pleasure and honour in meeting You personally, of Our thankfulness for the many acts of kindness shown us during Our visit, and for Our prayerful. good wishes for Your Excellency in the fulfilment of Your high Office, as well as for the Government and people of Our beloved India, invoking upon all the choicest favours of divine benevolence.

PAULUS PP. VI



To His Eminence Valerian Cardinal Gracias,
Archbishops House, Bombay

With indelible remembrances of the incredible enthusiasm and touching sincerity of Our welcome by the Indian People, and from a heart filled with glorious memories of the International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay, which owes so much to Your indefatigable and generous labours, We send You, beloved son, the assurance of Our heartfelt and undying gratitude for Your exquisite hospitality, and for all the kindnesses You have shown Us during Our pilgrimage, asking God to reward You with his richest graces. We lovingly impart to You, and bestow upon Your great Archdiocese, and upon the Hierarchy, Clergy, Religious and faithful of beloved India, Our appreciative and most affectionate Apostolic Blessing.

PAULUS PP. VI

--- end text of Pope Paul VI message ---

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

Some info. about Christianity in Asia including India till around 1500; Nestorian Christianity influence in Asia & India

This post is based on my part of a mail conversation. The contents may be a bit disjointed. I request the kind indulgence of readers for that.

I have been reading and viewing up on Genghiz Khan and the sacking of Baghdad by his grandson Hulagu Khan. Genghiz Khan followed shaman type religion (He worshipped Eternal Blue Sky God deity called Tengri). Genghiz Khan's son Tolui married Sorghaghtani Beki (1190-1252) (one of his wives one presumes) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorghaghtani_Beki, who was a Nestorian Christian.

An extract from her wiki page:

Married to Tolui, Genghis' youngest son, Sorghaghtani Beki became one of the most powerful and competent people in the Mongol Empire. She made policy decisions at a pivotal moment that led to the transition of the Mongol Empire towards a more cosmopolitan and sophisticated style of administration. She raised her sons to be leaders, and maneuvered the family politics so that all four of her sons, Möngke Khan, Hulagu Khan, Ariq Böke, and Kublai Khan, went on to inherit the legacy of their grandfather.
--- end wiki extract ---

Hulagu Khan, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulagu_Khan, who led the army which sacked Baghdad in 1258 (in a horrific way)), married a Nestorian Christian (one of his wives, one presumes), like his father Tolui. In his sacking of Baghdad Hulagu spared the Nestorian Christians!

Ancient history is full of ***terrible*** killings and slaughter of people. But that is the reality of most of human history and I am forcing myself to know this past reality of human race and the influence of religion then to get a better understanding of how humans the world over behave now and how religion can be a force for better behaviour and how it sometimes can be a force for worse behaviour.
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Europeans (Christian society in the past) and Middle East (Islamic world in the past and even today) saw border regions and kingdoms suffering directly at the hands of the Mongol hordes, with the Mongol threat being an existential threat to them. So Western and Middle Eastern accounts would typically have a very negative view of Genghiz Khan.

The videos I viewed and the articles I read, including Wikipedia, leave no doubt about the tribal ferocity of Mongol tribes of those days, whom Genghiz Khan united as a terrifying force and unleashed their horrific destructive power against any kingdom or city that resisted conquest. Note that Baghdad was asked to surrender by Hulagu which the caliph rejected, apparently in an insulting way. A battle ensued which seems to have resulted in some Mongol losses initially and which may have infuriated Hulagu. Then I think, given the horrendous ways of those days, Hulagu had to make an example of Baghdad and its caliph, for the rest of the world (Middle East and Europe in particular) to know how resistance to Mongols can result in utter ruin.

But I had not known that Genghiz Khan respected various religions and did not tax religious leaders. His kingdom allowed various religions to flourish, so long as they obeyed Mongol empire laws, and this practice was continued by his successors! I came to know of this and other positives of the Mongol empire through videos and articles I read, which seem to be far more unbiased, as compared to what I had read about him in school (which was, I think, a Euro centric view).

I think my school learning gave me an impression that Mongols were terrible people but that Europeans were, on the whole, much better than Mongols. Well, today I do not view it that way. The Romans sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE (3 to 4 decades after crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ), seems to have been as horrific as the Mongols sack of Baghdad in 1258 CE. In both cases, there was resistance from the city/kingdom, one which was a Jewish resistance (Jerusalem being centre of Jewish faith & people) and another which was Islamic (Baghdad being viewed as centre of Islamic faith & people then). BTW neither Genghiz Khan nor his grandson Hulagu Khan or Kublai Khan were Muslims. The name Khan is of pre-Islamic origin. Many later Mongol rulers of Central Asia converted to Islam (but not Kublai Khan and his successors in China).

Now I am of the view that Mongols and some European empires (like the Roman empire) have been equally murderous whenever anybody dared to resist them and fight them. However, Eurocentric accounts of history downplay European brutality and highlight Mongol and other Asian brutality.

I think the brutal truth is that many of great/large kingdoms of the past, whether of European origin or Asian origin, have been equally brutal against those who resisted their conquest. It is a human nature thing rather than a culture thing.
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I think India's Syrian Christians (Nasranis) were related to Nestorians in the past. Let me share relevant wiki extracts.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_East

The Church of the East shared communion with the Great Church until the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, separating primarily over differences in Christology. The Council of Ephesus condemned Nestorius (386–451), leading to the Nestorian Schism and a subsequent exodus of Nestorius' supporters to Sasanian Persia. The existing Christians in Persia welcomed these refugees and gradually the Church of the East thus adopted the doctrine of Nestorianism, emphasizing the distinctiveness of the divine and human natures of Jesus.

Continuing as a dhimmi community following the Muslim conquest of Persia (633-654), the church played a major role in history of Christianity in Asia. Between the 9th and 14th centuries it represented the world's largest Christian denomination in terms of geographical extent. It established dioceses and communities stretching from the Mediterranean Sea and today's Iraq and Iran, to India (the Saint Thomas Christians), the Mongol kingdoms in Central Asia, and China during the Tang dynasty (7th to 9th centuries). In the 13th and 14th centuries the Church experienced a final period of expansion under the Mongol Empire, where influential Nestorian Christians sat in the Mongol court.

The Church of the East declined rapidly starting in the 14th century in the aftermath of the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire. The rising Chinese and Islamic Mongol leaderships pushed out and nearly eradicated the Church of the East and its followers. Thereafter, Nestorian Christianity remained largely confined to Upper Mesopotamia and to the Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala, India.

--- end wiki extract ---

So Syrian Christians (Saint Thomas Christians) of India were associated with Church of the East, which got so influenced by Nestorians that it is referred to as Nestorian Christianity or Nestorianism.

BTW I found it to be very interesting to know that Christianity through Church of the East/Nestorians (so an Eastern Christianity as against Roman Catholic Christianity) was quite well spread in Asia in the past (well before European colonization or dominance of Asia), including in Central Asia and in China. However, in Central Asia and China, it lost out eventually to Islam and Chinese religions (including Buddhism in China).
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Did some more digging up which I think throws some light on the matter. Before I share the wiki extracts, the important thing to note is that the Church of the East is associated with Nestorianism theology.

Here is an interesting wiki page titled, "Nestorianism and the church in India", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestorianism_and_the_church_in_India.

An extract from it:

According to tradition, Christianity was established in India in AD 52 with the arrival of Thomas the Apostle in Cranganore (Kodungaloor). Subsequently, the Christian community of the Malabar Coast established close ties with the other Christians of the Middle East and the Persian Empire. They eventually coalesced into the Church of the East led by the Catholicos-Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.

The Church of the East was often separated from the other ancient churches due to its location outside the Roman Empire. When Archbishop Nestorius of Constantinople was declared a heretic by the Council of Ephesus, the Church of the East refused to acknowledge his deposition because he held the same christolical position that the Church of the East had always held. Later, the "Anaphora of Mar Nestorius" came to be used by Church of the East, which for this reason has been pejoratively labelled the "Nestorian Church" by some other Christian groups. However, this is a misnomer, as Nestorius was neither the founder nor even a member of it.

When the Portuguese arrived in India in the 16th century, they were ignorant of other Christian rites. Their ignorance led to the controversial Synod of Diamper that forced the Latin Rite on the Malabar Syriac Christians in 1599, even though the Syrian Church at Malabar was already in union with Rome.[1][2][3] St. Francis Xavier himself praised bishops who provided leadership to this community—including Mar Yaqob (Jacob), Mar Joseph, and Mar Abraham—and acknowledged their communion with the Holy See.
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[Wiki References:]
1. Encyclopaedia of sects & religious doctrines, Volume 4 By Charles George Herbermann page 1180,1181
2. Costellioe, Letters, 232–246
3. "Christen und Gewürze" : Konfrontation und Interaktion kolonialer und indigener Christentumsvarianten Klaus Koschorke (Hg.)Book in German, English, Spanish, 1998 Page 31,32
--- end wiki extract ---

Now for another wiki page: "Syro-Malabar Catholic Church", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syro-Malabar_Catholic_Church:

Some extracts from it are given below:

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (Classical Syriac: ܥܸܕܬܵܐ ܩܵܬܘܿܠܝܼܩܝܼ ܕܡܲܠܲܒܵܪ ܣܘܼܪܝܵܝܵܐ‎ Edta Qatholiqi D'Malabar Suryaya; Malayalam: മലബാറിലെ സുറിയാനി കത്തോലിക്ക സഭ Malabarile Suriyani catholika Sabha; Latin: Ecclesia Syrorum Malabarensium, lit. "Church of the Malabar Syrians") or Church of Malabar Syrian Catholics is an Eastern Catholic Major Archiepiscopal Church based in Kerala, India. It is an autonomous (in Latin, sui iuris) particular church in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church, with self-governance under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. The Church is headed by the Metropolitan and Gate of all India Major Archbishop Cardinal Maran Mar George Alencherry. The name Syro-Malabar is a prefix coined from the words Syriac as the church employs the East Syriac Rite liturgy, and Malabar which is the historical name for modern Kerala. The name has been in usage in official Vatican documents since the nineteenth century.[7]

...
The Church of the East Patriarch Shemon VII Ishoyahb's unpopularity led to the schism of 1552; opponents appointed the monk Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa as a rival patriarch. Sulaqa's subsequent consecration by Pope Julius III (1550–55) saw a permanent split within the Church of the East. The reunion with Rome resulted in the formation of the modern-day Chaldean Catholic Church of Iraq.[17][18] Subsequently, Church of the East Bishop Mar Abraham of Angamaly was appointed by Pope Pius IV (1559–65) as Metropolitan and Gate of all India of the Thomas Christians (Archbishop of Angamaly) in 1565.[19] In 1597, Mar Abraham of Angamaly died, he was the last bishop sent from the Church of the East. Unfortunately, the Latin Catholic Portuguese padroado Archbishop of Goa, Aleixo de Menezes, downgraded the Angamaly diocese and appointed the Jesuit Francisco Ros S.J as Archbishop of Angamaly. Menezes held the Synod of Diamper in 1599 to bring the Thomas Christians under the authority of the Archbishopric of Goa. The oppressive rule of the Portuguese padroado eventually led to a revolt in 1653, known as the Coonan Cross Oath.[20] The Puthenkuttukar, or "New Party" faction emerged after the Oath, which resisted the authority of the Portuguese padroado, under the leadership of Archdeacon Mar Thoma I, and formed the Malankara Church which entered into a new relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.[21][22]

The Syro-Malabar Church descends from the part of the community known as Pazhayakuttukar, or "Old Party", that after the Coonan Cross Oath in 1653, under the leadership of Archdeacon Palliveettil Mar Chandy re-entered in formal communion with the Holy See of Rome; due to the reconciliation efforts of Discalced Carmelite (O.C.D.) missionaries sent by Pope Alexander VII (1665–67). Latin Catholic Carmelite clergy from Europe served as bishops, and the Church along with the Latin Catholics was under the Apostolic Vicariate of Malabar (modern-day Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Verapoly). As per Mar Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar's travelogue Varthamanappusthakam (dated to 1790), the Church was known then as the Malankare Kaldaya Suriyani Sabha "Malankara Chaldean Syriac Church". In 1887, the Holy See established two Apostolic Vicariates, Thrissur and Kottayam (later Changanassery) under the guidance of indigenous Syro-Malabar bishops, and named the Church as "The Syro-Malabar Church" to distinguish them from the Latins.[23]
...
[Wiki References:]
7.  St. Raphael Syro Malabar Catholic Mission of Cleveland (2014)
...
17. Habbi 1966, p. 99-132, 199-230.
18. Wilmshurst 2000, p. 21-22.
19. Cite error: The named reference Charles George Herbermann was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
20. "Koonan Oath 00001" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2007.
21. Gregorios & Roberson, p. 285.
22. Vadakkekara, p. 91.
23. George Joseph Nedumparambil (2013). "A Search of the Roots of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala" (PDF). University of Würzburg. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Ravi: With the above info., I think a more nuanced picture emerges. I think it seems to be true that Saint Thomas Christians (Nasranis) of Kerala, India were associated with the Church of the East (Nestorian church) but that was from the 5th century to the 14th century. During this period the Nasrani Christians of Kerala were NOT associated with the Roman Catholic Church (as the Church of the East has split from it). One does not know whether this association was only political or whether the Nestorian theology aspect also was involved through priests sent by Church of the East.

The decline of the political power of Church of the East (perhaps in part due to Islam and Chinese religions dominating over Christian religion in Central Asia and China), led to fissures in the Church of the East itself! The Chaldean Catholic church got formed as one of the splinters of the Church of the East in 1552, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaldean_Catholic_Church, which got re-unified with the Roman Catholic Church (hence its name has the word Catholic in it).

From the above Chaldean Catholic Church wiki page:

Decline of the Church of the East

Around 1400, the Turco-Mongol nomadic conqueror Timur arose out of the Eurasian Steppe to lead military campaigns across Western, Southern and Central Asia, ultimately seizing much of the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire, and the declining Delhi Sultanate. Timur's conquests devastated most Assyrian bishoprics and destroyed the 4000-year-old city of Assur, which was the cultural and religious capital of the Church of the East and its followers. After the destruction brought on by Timur, the massive and organized Nestorian Church structure, which at its peak extended as far as China, Central Asia, Mongolia and India, was largely reduced to its region of origin (with the exception of the Saint Thomas Christians in India), and stayed as such until the Assyrian genocide, when a large portion of this region was entirely, ethnically and culturally cleansed of its endemic population, and in effect also ended the Shimun Branch, which had to reestablish itself in America up until 2015 when they established their new see in Erbil. Along with the destruction of the Hakkari cultural region, the Assyrians of Tur Abdin, Amid, Urfa and other regions of the southeast suffered genocide as well,[citation needed] but due to an agreement with the Turks, the Syriac Orthodox Church was able to exist in the region after the end of the genocide, and a Syriac community still exists in Turkey until this day, and is the most geographically spread out Church still functioning in Turkey, with active churches in Adiyaman, Siirt, Istanbul, and its primary area of operation and seat at Mor Gabriel Monastery in Tur Abdin.

This blow by Timur to the structure of the Church of the East may have been one of the reasons for its decline, and the subsequent rise of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1552, which would itself later suffer schism.

--- end wiki page extract --

Now if the reader refers back to above extracts from "Syro-Malabar Catholic Church", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syro-Malabar_Catholic_Church, we can see that the Portuguese in 1599 tried to muscle in on what seems to have been the main Nasrani Christian group in Kerala which was with the Chaldean Catholic Church, and get it under its Archbishop of Goa power! Some of the Nasranis rebelled. The Pope in Rome understood their issue and sent Latin Catholic clergy to them (bypassing Portuguese archbishop of Goa). This seems to have become the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church which is reported to be the biggest group of Saint Thomas Christians in Kerala & rest of India (4 million).

Even if most of the Nasrani Christians in Kerala were under Church of the East (Nestorian church) from 5th century to 14th century, it may be very difficult to know for certain whether this was only a political power structure matter or whether Nestorian theology was also imparted/disseminated among Nasrani Christians in Kerala then.

From 1552, it seems that that majority of the Nasranis were with the newly formed Chaldean Catholic Church which linked up again with Roman Catholic church. That may have resulted in any Nestorian theology stuff that was being disseminated to the Nasranis in previous centuries, get thrown out! Now they would be getting Roman Catholic Church theology but with Latin Catholic flavour rituals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Thomas_Christians talks about the other splits (after 1552) including Malankara church associating with Syriac Orthodox church (not associated with Roman Catholic church). The Malankara church had a split in 1912 with a splinter group being the Jacobite Syrian Christian church. And there were also other splits associated with Protestant and other bodies/beliefs.

Today, among Christians in Kerala, there may be zero influence of Nestorianism. But the above wiki page extracts show that from 5th to 14th century, when Nestorian church (Church of the East) was well established in Asia, perhaps Nestorian beliefs were also disseminated among the majority of Kerala Christians. With the decline of the Church of the East in the 15th century, perhaps Nestorian beliefs dissemination among majority of Kerala Christians would have gradually stopped and got replaced by Roman Catholic Church beliefs mixed with some Latin Catholic church stuff as the majority of Kerala Christians associated with the Chaldean Catholic Church (that sprung out of the much diminished Church of the East)
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Some browsing on the topic led to an interesting document and a web page which indicate that whether the Nasranis were Nestorian or not was a ***great controversy***. The document and the web page indicate that the controversy was raised by the Portuguese. Hmm. What I have understood from my readings on history of religion is that if some matter was very controversial in the past then coming to know the truth of the matter is made very difficult as it becomes like a political struggle with different/opposing sides pushing different (alternate) views (along with their own 'facts'/ histories).

So I think I will not spend more time on this topic even though I find it to be quite fascinating.

Here are the documents, just in case the reader wants to browse through them:

1) 383 page PDF document, https://d-nb.info/1034813099/34 titled, " A Search of the Roots of Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala " and which is (as per the document) "(A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Theology at the Cath. - Theol. Faculty of the Julius - Maximilians - University, Würzburg" Submitted By George Joseph Nedumparambil in 2013. [The university seems to be a German one, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_W%C3%BCrzburg which for some time in the past centuries was a bastion for Catholics (and against Protestants).]

Right at the beginning of the introduction to the dissertation, the author focuses on this controversy. Here is the related longish 1st paragraph from the introduction:

Our attempt in this work is basically to make a search into the veracity of the accusation namely whether the Syro-Malabar Church is Nestorian or not. The thrust for such a search is stimulated by the disparagement which this Church had to carry for years. In order to accomplish this task we will study various church fathers, certain liturgical aspects and the history of the SMC which comprises the nascent period and the time period in which SMC is supposed to have adopted this Nestorian element. Thus the scope of our study is not only from patristic point of view rather it covers also the liturgical and church historical aspects. The SMC was accused to be Nestorian at first only when it came in contact with the European colonizing forces that is to say from the 15th century onwards. She was mainly accused by the missionaries who came with the colonizers. The missionaries, those who came to India along with the colonizers, thought that everything must be in conformity with the Latin faith. It might have happened perhaps due to the ignorance of the differences in the celebration and the presence of various other rites extant in the Catholic Church. It is an unbelievable fact that quite a good number of Catholics are unaware of the fact that there are 21 Oriental churches in the Catholic Church. Thus together with these Churches and the Latin Church they form into one unit and the Catholic Church is an encompassing of 22 churches. So without knowing this basic fact many accuse other churches which do not exhibit uniformity in liturgy with that of the Latin Church, or the way of celebrating the holy Mass, that they are non-catholic or practising something heretical. The same consideration might have happened in the case of the SMC too. Thus ignorance along with a craving for power and dominance over the SMC has prompted them to criticize her as heretic. In our study we will consider how far is it true to say that SMC is Nestorian or is it true to say that there existed a strong bond between the SMC and the Nestorian Church. In our attempt to do it we will go back to the nascence of the church of SMC in Kerala and its affinities with other churches. This study is also motivated to look into the details, whether the church in Kerala, which is said to have received its faith from St. Thomas the Apostle, later, went to the wrong side in her following of Christ.

--- end 1st para of introduction ---

2) History of Syro-Malabar Catholics in Kerala, St. Raphael Syro Malabar, Catholic Mission of Cleveland, http://syromalabarccc.org/index_files/SyroMalabarHistoryPg1.htm

A relevant extract from the above page:
With the arrival of the Portuguese explorer, Vasco De Gama to Calicut on the Kerala Coast in 1498 AD, a Latin connection began to take shape.   The Portugese were happy to discover the St.Thomas Christians on the West coast of India in the midst of Hindus and Muslims. But they very soon noticed the differences in liturgy and the connection to East-Syrian Church; they alleged that St.Thomas Christians believed in the Nestorian Heresy as they accepted Bishops from the East Syrian Church which officially had adopted Nestorianism. As they were living at a time soon after the council of Trent in which decision was taken to deal toughly with heretics, they were all out to "reduce the Syro-Malabarians to the Roman obedience." There were also the commercial interests of the Portuguese behind the appointment of Latin Bishops to rule the Syro-Malabarians. As the last Bishop appointed by the East Syrian Patriarch died in 1597 the Portuguese tightened their hold on the Syro-Malabarians and never permitted any more East Syrian Bishops to enter Malabar. The Synod of Diamper (Udayamperur) in 1599 convened by the Latin Archbishop Menezes of Goa thus brought an end to the connection between St.Thomas Christians and East-Syrian Church; it converted St Thomas Christians into a branch of the Latin Church and under Padroado, the colonial power of the Portuguese, making its people accept many customs with which they were not familiar. He also spread the news in Europe that Syro-Malabarians were "reduced to the Roman obedience" and accepted Catholicism as well the authority of the Pope in this Synod. The fact, however, was not so. The Syro-Malabarians had never accepted Nestorianism even though they had contact with the East Syrians and they were not at all involved in any of the Christological controversies. On the contrary, whenever they got a chance they reiterated their allegiance to the Pope and their communion with the Church of Rome. In any case, the rule of the Latin Bishops was never accepted by the Syro-Malabarians and the climax of their protest was what is known in the history as Coonan Cross Oath. The leadership of the St.Thomas Christian community pledged in this oath not to accept any more the rule of the Jesuit missionaries from among whom the Bishops were appointed.
--- end extract ---

Ravi: Interesting history! But, as I said before, it is very controversial and so I am going to stop my readings on this topic (as it will be very difficult for me to even get a decent idea of which argument seems to be true and which seems to be false).

This study has resulted in better understanding for me of history of Kerala Christians and also about how Church of the East (which got deeply influenced by Nestorianism) was well spread in many parts of Asia before Timur "virtually exterminated" the Church of the East/Nestorian Christians from the parts of Asia under his rule. The words "virtually exterminated" are from Encyclopaedia Brittanica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nestorianism.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever. I similarly thank d-nb.info and George Joseph Nedumparambil, and syromalabarccc.org for above small extracts from their websites/documents.]