Sunday, November 24, 2019

Some elders in Puttaparthi do not really understand impact of my writings on Sathya Sai and general spirituality & religion; Young wannabe spiritual writers should not get put off by discouragement

Last updated on 27th Nov. 2019

Please excuse my trumpet-blowing in this post. I request the kind indulgence of readers.

A few days ago, I was struggling to explain to an elderly person (an academic) in Puttaparthi about my social media writer work on Sathya Sai and general spirituality & religion. He was aware of my 2 self-published books and my blogs but ... I should say that he was NOT scoffing at my work but neither was he really understanding the impact of my work. This is not to say that my work has great impact. No, it does not have great impact. But in a niche group of readers, it has some impact.

And I have seen similar kind of reactions from some other elders in Puttaparthi.

In contrast, I have had much more positive responses and encouragement from youngsters and my age people in Puttaparthi. Some elders have been encouraging but some have been rather disinterested. I wonder why this is the case! I am thankful to those in Puttaparthi who provided me encouragement. And I am respectful of the right of some persons to be disinterested in my writings :-).

On social media, from outside Puttaparthi persons, I have had lots of responses and encouragement, including from a few who seem to be academics. I am thankful to them for their encouragement.

Now I can simply dismiss the matter away and not put up a post on it! But I think that there is a rather strange and dismissive view some elders, including elder academics, in Puttaparthi circles have about writings on spirituality done by people younger to them. And I think that creates an atmosphere of discouragement to younger Sathya Sai devotees in Puttaparthi environment who want to express themselves on spirituality.

So I decided to put up this post as a way to counter some such discouragement from some elders, including elderly academics, to people younger to them, perhaps unconsciously. I don't know whether this is only in Puttaparthi or happens elsewhere too. I would like to ***promote*** youngster and middle-age Sathya Sai devotees who want to write about spirituality, to freely express their views, even if they trip up here and there. Fear of discouragement from elders, especially elder academics, should not inhibit them - that would be tragic.

I mean, many people in Puttaparthi environment, especially after Mahasamadhi, are more interested in material worldly stuff than spiritual stuff, especially writing about spiritual stuff. Academics are more bothered about publishing academic papers in their professional area which is unrelated to spirituality & religion. Perhaps they are under pressure to produce more academic research papers in their professional areas and so have no time to write about spirituality.

But from a spiritual perspective, that is tragic! Spiritual movements need capable spiritual writers who are knowledgeable about spiritual stuff and scripture. They are absolutely vital for the spiritual movement to be spiritually vibrant (as against material wealth wise vibrant or non-spiritual secular knowledge wise vibrant).

So I thought I should put up my self-assessment of impact of my social media writer work on Sathya Sai and general spirituality & religion, which I base on blog views and Google Search rankings. My main spiritual blog - ravisiyer.blogspot.com - now has over half a million views from various countries in the world with the top ten countries being: India, United States of America, France, United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ukraine and Singapore. That's not something a knowledgeable elder will scoff at.

[27-Nov-2019 Update: Added below screenshot of audience stats:



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

end 27-Nov-219 Update]

Some important top ranked Google search terms related to my social media writer work on Sathya Sai and general spirituality & religion as seen on 23rd Nov. 2019 with all searches done from Chrome incognito window to avoid bias towards my blogs, are given below:

1) Vedanta, god and science

1st rank: lists my "Who am I? I am I - Ultimate Existential Reality Answer; Vedanta; God and Science conversation" book, https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ravi-s-iyer-ultimate-existential-reality-answer-vedanta-god-and-science

2) god and science conversation India

1st/2nd rank: lists my "Who am I? I am I - Ultimate Existential Reality Answer; Vedanta; God and Science conversation" book (same as above), https://www.flipkart.com/am-i-ultimate-existential-reality-answer-vedanta-god-science-conversation/p/itmfazakubzrhhru

[Note that the more general term:
god and science conversation

lists my above book as the 20th rank result (excluding Ads).]

3) autobiography software developer spiritual aspirant
OR
autobiography software techie spiritual aspirant
OR
autobiography software engineer spiritual aspirant

1st rank: lists my "Autobiography of an Indian Software Techie and Spiritual Aspirant – Part 1" book, https://www.amazon.in/Autobiography-Indian-Software-Spiritual-Aspirant/dp/1645874087

4) sathya sai baba advaita

3rd rank shows 3 videos; 2nd video is "Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D.", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl9izOvsUJg , put up by me on youtube (shared from another source, but with transcript made by me).

5) sathya sai baba historicity of rama and krishna
OR
sathya sai baba on whether rama and krishna are historical figures

1st rank: shows my post: Sathya Sai Baba on historicity of Rama and Krishna, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2015/01/sathya-sai-on-historicity-of-rama-and.html

6) sathya sai baba atheists self-realization
OR
sathya sai baba atheists

1st rank: shows my post: Sathya Sai Baba said atheists can also get self-realization; Sai Baba's words about Sai-Baba-speaking-through-somebody-else claims, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/03/sathya-sai-baba-said-atheists-can-also.html

7) chandogya upanishad chapter 6

4th rank shows my PDF document: Chandogya Upanishad – Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu) – Some Shlokas, https://iami1.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/chandogyachapter6someshlokas.pdf

8) sathya sai baba blogger

6th rank shows my blog and this post on it: Sathya Sai Baba to students & devotees: Direct connection between you and me; No one can break that intimate relationship, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2015/10/sathya-sai-baba-to-students-devotees.html

9) Is Madhusudan Naidu having spirit of Sathya Sai Baba?
OR
Has Sathya Sai Baba spirit entered Madhusudan Naidu?

1st rank & featured snippet: Our petition (has multiple contributors including me): Declaration by Sathya Sai devotees and alumni & staff of Sai educational institutions, condemning spiritual fraud Madhusudan Rao Naidu, https://www.change.org/p/sathya-sai-devotee-fraternity-worldwide-we-condemn-spiritual-fraud-madhusudan-rao-naidu

10) Is Madhusudan Naidu medium of Sathya Sai Baba?

2nd rank: Our petition (has multiple contributors including me): Declaration by Sathya Sai devotees and alumni & staff of Sai educational institutions, condemning spiritual fraud Madhusudan Rao Naidu
==========================

I repeat that my work does NOT have great impact. But, within a niche community, it has some impact. And that's a source of encouragement to me to continue my writings on these topics.

I hope this post will help inspire young and middle-aged writers and wannabe writers on Sathya Sai and spirituality & religion, to not get discouraged by concerns that some elders, especially academics, will view their work as unnecessary i.e. be dismissive of their work.

Here's my advice to them: Ignore the disinterest, lack of encouragement from elders, especially elder academics, and follow your inner urges. This is an unpleasant thing to say but I think I must say it here: Some times, jealousy is a reason behind such reactions to your work by elders. Don't get bothered too much by such jealousy.

Also, usually such spiritual writing work is NOT a money spinner (I do it as free service but even if I had tried to do it as a livelihood I think I would have earned only a little money). So if you want to pursue any spiritual writing urges, say on a part-time basis, you must be prepared to sacrifice some worldly stuff and lead a 'ceiling on (material) desires' life.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Referral: Martha Gellhorn quote about why we must be interested in politics; Ravi: Why I got interested ...

Readers may be interested to view my recent post on another blog: Martha Gellhorn quote about why we must be interested in politics; Ravi: Why I got interested in following politics mid 2011 onwards, https://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com/2019/11/martha-gellhorn-quote-about-why-we-must.html.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's talk in Kulwant Hall today, Nov. 23rd 2019, Sathya Sai birthday

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's talk in Kulwant Hall today, Nov. 23rd 2019, Bhagavan's birthday (mainly in Hindi): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fOpiOB_JvA, around 10 mins.

Nitin Gadkari is a top political leader of India, who hails from the state of Maharashtra, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitin_Gadkari.

The talk comes across as straight and sincere. It is mostly in Hindi with a little English here and there. He also quotes a Marathi saying about spiritual greats. He is a native of Maharashtra, the land of saints with a very big tradition of spirituality and service. So it is but natural that he added that Marathi saying which I think embellished his talk very nicely.

He said it was his great good fortune to be present today at Bhagavan's birthday function.

He referred to value based education and value based family life being two powerful pillars of our (Indian) society and being two great strengths of our society, which Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba promoted in a big way.

He was very supportive of Bhagavan's work especially towards the poor and the suffering, and noted with happiness that even after Bhagavan's bodily passing away, Sathya Sai devotees are continuing with that good work.

All in all, I think it was a very positive and encouraging talk from a powerful Union minister. I think Prasanthi Nilayam ashram authorities must be congratulated on having got this powerful minister to be the chief guest for the birthday function.

As a Sai devotee and a former resident of Maharashtra, I thank the Hon'ble Minister Nitin Gadkari for these supportive and encouraging words.

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

Two questions to Google Search about Madhusudan Naidu (spiritual fraud) false claims about Sathya Sai, which give our change.org petition as "featured snippet" result

I had fleetingly seen this "featured snippet" result when I was doing searches for the petition update I made a few days ago. But I could not get it when I was doing screen capture of the results. So in the petition update we have some 1st rank results but no "featured snippet" result.

Today I got lucky with these "featured snippet" results having our change.org petition. I thought readers may be interested to know about it and so have shared it on this post.

But what is a Google Search "featured snippet"?

https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/9351707?p=featured_snippets tells us the following:

* Google’s search results sometimes show listings where the snippet describing a page comes before a link to a page, not after as with our standard format. Results displayed this way are called "featured snippets."

* We display featured snippets when our systems determine this format will help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description about the page and when they click on the link to read the page itself. They’re especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice.

* Featured snippets come from web search listings. Our automated systems look at the web listings and determine if it would be useful to highlight one of them. They are especially likely to appear for searches that are phrased in the form of a question.
---

Ravi: Essentially, featured snippets seem to be Google's ***highlighted*** result, suggesting to the user that Google views it as the best and most useful result for the search query (and so Google Search felt it appropriate to highlight it as a "featured snippet"). Further, Google seems to use featured snippets in responding to queries phrased as questions (which is how the two search terms given below, have been phrased).

Search terms giving our change.org petition as "featured snippet" result:

Is Madhusudan Naidu having spirit of Sathya Sai Baba?
OR
Has Sathya Sai Baba spirit entered Madhusudan Naidu?

The screenshots given below show the "featured snippet" results.

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





1st rank & featured snippet: Our petition: Declaration by Sathya Sai devotees and alumni & staff of Sai educational institutions, condemning spiritual fraud Madhusudan Rao Naidu, https://www.change.org/p/sathya-sai-devotee-fraternity-worldwide-we-condemn-spiritual-fraud-madhusudan-rao-naidu.
===========================

Update: As we now have got into "featured snippet" results territory, I felt it appropriate to polish up the English language of part of the result shown in the snippet. The modified text in the main petition now reads:

We also condemn the outrageously false claim of Madhusudan Rao Naidu that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's so-called subtle spirit enters into his body, and Madhusudan Rao Naidu's further claim, outrageously false again, that he (then) becomes Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
----

Note that it will take some time for this modification made in the petition to get updated in Google Search "featured snippet" results.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pleasantly surprised to receive 13 replacement paperback copies with decent printing of pics, of my part autobio book from Notion Press

I was pleasantly surprised today to receive 13 paperback copies of my part autobio book, all of which have decent printing of inner content pics. This seems to be the replacement copies for the 13 copies I had received weeks ago where I raised the issue of bad printing of some inner content pics.

This action of Notion Press has restored my faith in Notion Press' business practices being fair to the (self-published) author-customer. I thank Notion Press for this action of theirs.

As I managed to patch up the bad printing of pics issue in earlier (problem) copies using laser printer printout of these pics which I then cut-and-paste on to the books, I have offered to pay Notion Press the cost they incurred for these 13 replacement copies. I will be happy to pay that to Notion Press - No problem.

I have updated the earlier blog post related to this matter and also changed the title of it to: Notion Press' Chennai printer sent me 13 paperback copies of my part autobio book with some inner content pics badly printed, but later I was provided (free) replacement copies with good print, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/11/notion-press-chennai-printer-produced.html. [And similarly on my public Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2642921162591111.]

A minor point which is just a suggestion to Notion Press and NOT a complaint: This set of copies from Manipal printer seems to have printed the inner content pics lightly (perhaps to avoid dark patches) due to which the text in some of the pics is not seen or too light to be noted and the faces in some pics appear to be too bright. The earlier set of copies from Manipal printer used optimum brightness/darkness for the printing of inner content pics and never had the dark patches issue. So, in case future orders of this book are sent to Manipal printer by Notion Press, I suggested to Notion Press that they use the optimum brightness/darkness used in earlier orders for printing of inner content pics (black & white).

But this is a minor point.

Overall, I am happy with quality of printing in all the 13 paperback copies I received today (from Manipal printer). Thanks once again to Notion Press.

Our Change.org petition has Top-Ten Google search ranks for Madhusudan Naidu spiritual fraud and subtle body

Last updated on 24th Nov. 2019

Given below are contents of my recent public Facebook post (slightly edited),  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2657854597764434 :

Our Change.org petition now has Top-Ten Google search result rankings for some search terms related to Madhusudan Naidu subtle body claim and Madhusudan Naidu spiritual fraud

Our petition: Declaration by Sathya Sai devotees and alumni & staff of Sai educational institutions, condemning spiritual fraud Madhusudan Rao Naidu, https://www.change.org/p/sathya-sai-devotee-fraternity-worldwide-we-condemn-spiritual-fraud-madhusudan-rao-naidu is now a Top-Ten ranked search result for following Google Search terms (done in incognito Chrome browser window):

1. Is Madhusudan Naidu subtle body of Sathya Sai Baba? - 1st result
2. Is Muddenahalli Madhusudan Naidu genuine or fake? - 1st result
3. Is spirit of Sathya Sai Baba now in Madhusudan Naidu? - 1st result [Same 1st result rank for: Sathya Sai Baba spirit in Madhusudan Naidu? (and search term:) Sathya Sai Baba spirit Madhusudan Naidu?]
4. Madhusudan Naidu spiritual fraud - 1st result [Same for: Is Madhusudan Naidu spiritual fraud?]
5. Madhusudan Naidu fraud - 3rd result [Is Madhusudan Naidu a fraud? - 1st result]
6. Does spirit of Sathya Sai Baba enter into Madhusudan Naidu? - 1st result excluding video results
7. Is Madhusudan Naidu now Sathya Sai Baba? - 5th result (excluding video results)
8. Sathya Sai Baba Madhusudan Naidu - 5th result (excluding video results)
9. Madhusudan Naidu Sathya Sai Baba - 4th result (excluding video results)
----------
I have attached some screen shots for the 1st result search terms.

[I have put up only one of these pics here below. Rest can be seen on Facebook post.]

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



I had not anticipated this outcome from our change.org petition. But as I think about it, it seems sensible that Google Search has given higher ranking importance to a collective petition (now having 396 signatures of which 2 or 3 are test signatures and so 390 odd real persons' signatures). Note that the petition's contents as well as the petition update contents are also on my ravisiyer.blogspot.com blog but change.org petition is preferred by Google search. And, as I said, that makes sense. My blog is my individual view whereas the change.org petition is a view agreed upon by over 390 real persons.

Even though there are many, many Sathya Sai devotees who view Madhusudan Rao Naidu as a spiritual fraud only 390 odd persons have signed our petition with their names being published on the Internet (as mentioned in the petition). I think fear of reaction from Muddenahalli group persons may be an important reason why people are not willing to (publicly) sign our change.org petition. In my considered view, fear is a very big factor in such matters.

But the 390 odd signatures have made a big difference to Google Search ranking for our petition! That has been a wonderful outcome I think as people who search for such matters using Google will now come across our declaration about Madhusudan Naidu being a spiritual fraud with respect to his false claim about Sathya Sai Baba subtle body/spirit.

I view these 390 odd signers of our petition as ***courageous*** people who have stood up for their faith in Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and his words about how he interacts with his devotees, casting aside any fear of Muddenahalli group supporters. I think they have made a very big contribution to informing the public through the Internet/Google search via our petition about Madhusudan Naidu being a spiritual fraud.
---------------------

Given below are some of my comments (slightly edited) on the above mentioned Facebook post:

In response to a comment, I wrote:

Very interesting views --Name-snipped-- sir. While there was arrogance in office bearers/big shots in Prasanthi Nilayam ashram even when Bhagavan was in living body, there is no doubt that after Mahasamadhi their arrogance reached sky-high! I experienced that myself! I think that Muddenahalli was, in significant part, a reaction to this sky-high arrogance.

My study over the past few years (after Mahasamadhi), of the history of political as well as spiritual/religious movements (most of history has religious movements rather than independent-of-religion spiritual movements), showed me that there was lot of commonality between political and spiritual/religious movements of the past, even if there are many great differences too.

One big commonality is that people power is a significant driving force for both political and spiritual/religious movements. Leaders emerge who understand the aspirations of the majority of people and challenge the establishment, in both political field and spiritual/religious field.

Passing away (in bodily form) of political and spiritual/religious leaders like founders of political/spiritual/religious movements leads to a ***great*** realignment of the following.

History accounts which have the great advantage of studying the past from a distance in time and having an overview of events, talk of reactions to establishment problems being a major reason for a new group to emerge which splinters away from the main following.

I do not have any objections to Muddenahalli group being a separate following unconnected to official Sathya Sai organization, but following/attempting to follow His teachings. I think the history of spiritual & religious movements teach us that such splintering is inevitable as an organization grows in size. My personal view is that for Sathya Sai movement in future, a model similar to federation of Protestant churches like in the USA may be preferrable to a monolithic organization like the Roman Catholic Church, as the monolithic organization tends to get trapped in bureaucracy and stifles spiritual growth. Though it must be mentioned that a central monolithic orgn. also has its advantages.

But the big problem with Muddenahalli group is the fake Madhusudan Naidu who is diluting and distorting the memories and legacy of our beloved Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

While Ravana and Duryodhana had their roles to play, if the heroes at that time, Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman & others and Krishna, Pandavas and others had not risen to the occassion and challenged Ravana and Duryodhana, we would have been living in different and far more unhappier times now. Especially when one is involved in the advent of the Avatar, I think it is vital to be on the right side (Sathya & Dharma) rather than on the wrong side (Asathya & Adharma), even if the whole thing is Maya. I think Bhagavan ***wanted*** and ***taught*** us to be on the right side and not the wrong side of such vital issues.
----

I wrote:
As of 18th Nov. 2019, our change.org petition has received 4,648 views, has been shared 431 times and has received 397 signatures. Here's the screenshot with this info.

----
Here's the list of signatures I downloaded on 18th Nov. 2019 : https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SCHScf-dmc5nQWW214tlpPj6gKi-QzcS.
----

Posted (most of above contents as) update on our petition on change.org.
----

In response to a comment asking about disparity between 4648 views and only 397 signatures, I wrote (slightly edited):
My quick thoughts on it as points are:
1. Some views may be from Muddenahalli group supporters who want to know about it with an intent to limit its impact on their group. They obviously will not sign the petition.
2. Some may be repeat views from the same person. E.g. somebody viewing petition updates.
3. Some, or perhaps many, may be from fence-sitters who want to enjoy the best of both PTP and MDH, and so don't want to offend either side, but want to know how the wind is blowing so that they can better plan future moves of theirs.
4. Some may be from those willing to sign such a petition but do not want to be seen publicly supporting something that has my name associated with it, as I have been a whistle-blower and have made quite a few powerful enemies even in PTP system.
5. Some may be from those who have not signed as if they sign, given the process that I follow in the petition, their name gets exposed. They may be willing to sign such a petition anonymously.
-----
Perhaps somebody could create some other petition where the names of the signers will not be exposed. That may get some more signatures both due to the anonymous aspect of it and because my name (whistle-blower) is not associated. I will be happy to sign such a petition so long as I agree with the main thrust of the petition. --Name-snipped-- - Do you want to think about creating such a petition?
----

In response to a comment I wrote (slightly edited):
Well, I have chosen to have a transparent model for my activism work in this matter. So I want to have the names shown.

But it is quite simple to create a petition in change.org. By default the names are not shown to users. But the creator of the petition sees it. So you can create it quite easily yourself on change.org.
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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Peace of mind alone is NOT Moksha/liberation; Moksha on death; Moksha while being alive (Jeevanmukti)

Last updated on 17th Nov. 2019

Read a quote somewhere, in the context of Vedanta/"Who am I?" oriented spirituality, about peace of mind being liberation.

I am not sure about that being correct.

But then, I ask myself, what is liberation in the context of Hinduism (may be similar in Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism but I don't know enough about them to be sure)? I think in the Hinduism context, the English word liberation is the translation of the Sanskrit word Moksha.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moksha says:

Moksha (/ˈmoʊkʃə/; Sanskrit: मोक्ष, mokṣa), also called vimoksha, vimukti and mukti,[1] is a term in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism which refers to various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, liberation, and release.[2] In its soteriological and eschatological senses, it refers to freedom from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth.[3] In its epistemological and psychological senses, moksha refers to freedom from ignorance: self-realization, self-actualization and self-knowledge.[4]

[Wiki Refs:]
1. "The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, vimoksha". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
2. John Bowker, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0192139658, p. 650
3. Sharma 2000, p. 113.
4. See:
 * E. Deutsch, The self in Advaita Vedanta, in Roy Perrett (Editor), Indian philosophy: metaphysics, Volume 3, ISBN 0-8153-3608-X, Taylor and Francis, pp 343-360;
 * T. Chatterjee (2003), Knowledge and Freedom in Indian Philosophy, ISBN 978-0739106921, pp 89-102; Quote - "Moksa means freedom"; "Moksa is founded on atmajnana, which is the knowledge of the self.";
 * Jorge Ferrer, Transpersonal knowledge, in Transpersonal Knowing: Exploring the Horizon of Consciousness (editors: Hart et al.), ISBN 978-0791446157, State University of New York Press, Chapter 10
--- end wiki extract ---

Hmmm. The wiki page for Moksha is going all over the place!

Based on having lived most of my life of over 5 decades in majority Hindu community in India and with me and my family being Hindu, I think that the vast majority of Hindus in India in our times view liberation/Moksha to be a release from samsara which is the cycle of birth, death followed by reincarnation (another birth), and (Moksha) also as merger in God. In other words, Moksha means that the person will NOT have another birth, and that he/she will merge in God!

Now the word, Moksha, does get used in looser contexts, sometimes in humour, like a person coming out of a difficult worldly crisis/jam being termed as Moksha for the person (from that difficult worldly crisis/jam).

But I think most Hindus in India (which perhaps applies to Hindus elsewhere too) view the word Moksha in a serious context as liberation from the cycle of life (worldly life) & death i.e. no more births for that person, and merger in God though sometimes the merger part is implicit and not explicitly stated.

I think the general understanding is that Moksha can be on death or something achieved while living itself which achievement stays through the remaining period of that person's life and on his/her death.

For the vast majority of Hindus, the view is that if Moksha does come to them, it comes at the time of death. Therefore a lot of importance is given by Hindus to the tradition of old people retiring from worldly and family matters, and focusing on worship of God in their old age whether they are living in the family (and being taken care by younger family members), or have chosen to move to a Hindu ashram/ashram-town for that purpose. The belief is that if the elderly person is focused on worship of God in the period before his/her death, he/she will merge in God and not have another birth i.e. achieve Moksha.

I think the view is that Moksha (liberation) while being alive (Jeevanmukti) is achieved by only a very few spiritual aspirants who do intense sadhana (spiritual efforts) for spiritual enlightenment. Note that this liberation achieved while being alive is said to continue for the person's life and at the time of his/her death.

I think this sort of Moksha while being alive - Jeevanmukti - is referred to as Atma-Jnana (knowledge of self/realization of self/Self-realization; Jnana is knowledge). I have heard the term Jnani (one who has Jnana or Atma-Jnana) often being used by Hindus to refer to self-realized persons, especially those who demonstrate or communicate this knowledge/Jnana to others. Note that the self-realized person (Atmajnani or simply jnani) is also viewed as a Mukta (freed from cycle of life & death).

With this background, let us look at what I referred to at the beginning of this post: peace of mind being liberation.

I think here the context is Moksha (liberation) while alive and so Jeevanmukti and Atmajnana. I think it is an oversimplification to say that peace of mind is Moksha as that peace of mind can be temporary.

The section Moksha in this life (as per Hinduism) in the Moksha wiki page is very relevant in this context. Given below is an extract from it, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moksha#Mok%E1%B9%A3a_in_this_life :

Among the Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta schools of Hinduism, liberation and freedom reached within one's life is referred to as jivanmukti, and the individual who has experienced this state is called jivanmukta (self-realized person).[92] Dozens of Upanishads, including those from middle Upanishadic period, mention or describe the state of liberation, jivanmukti.[93][94] Some contrast jivanmukti with videhamukti (moksha from samsara after death).[95] Jivanmukti is a state that transforms the nature, attributes and behaviors of an individual, claim these ancient texts of Hindu philosophy. For example, according to Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad, the liberated individual shows attributes such as:[96]

* he is not bothered by disrespect and endures cruel words, treats others with respect regardless of how others treat him;
* when confronted by an angry person he does not return anger, instead replies with soft and kind words;
* even if tortured, he speaks and trusts the truth;
* he does not crave for blessings or expect praise from others;
* he never injures or harms any life or being (ahimsa), he is intent in the welfare of all beings;[97]
* he is as comfortable being alone as in the presence of others;
* he is as comfortable with a bowl, at the foot of a tree in tattered robe without help, as when he is in a mithuna (union of mendicants), grama (village) and nagara (city);
* he doesn’t care about or wear ṣikha (tuft of hair on the back of head for religious reasons), nor the holy thread across his body. To him, knowledge is sikha, knowledge is the holy thread, knowledge alone is supreme. Outer appearances and rituals do not matter to him, only knowledge matters;
* for him there is no invocation nor dismissal of deities, no mantra nor non-mantra, no prostrations nor worship of gods, goddess or ancestors, nothing other than knowledge of Self;
* he is humble, high-spirited, of clear and steady mind, straightforward, compassionate, patient, indifferent, courageous, speaks firmly and with sweet words.

When a Jivanmukta dies he achieves Paramukti and becomes a Paramukta. Jivanmukta experience enlightenment and liberation while alive and also after death i.e., after becoming paramukta, while Videhmukta experiences enlightenment and liberation only after death.

[Wiki Refs:]
92. see:
* Andrew Fort and Patricia Mumme (1996), Living Liberation in Hindu Thought, ISBN 978-0-7914-2706-4;
* Norman E. Thomas (April 1988), Liberation for Life: A Hindu Liberation Philosophy, Missiology, Volume 16, Number 2, pp 149-160
93. See for example Muktika Upanishad, Varaha Upanishad, Adhyatma Upanishad, Sandilya Upanishad, Tejobindu Upanishad, etc.; in K.N. Aiyar (Transl. 1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, University of Toronto Robart Library Archives, Canada
94. Paul Deussen, The philosophy of the Upanishads, Translated by A.S. Geden (1906), T&T Clark, Edinburgh
95. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vol 1 & 2, ISBN 978-81-208-1467-7
96. see: K.N. Aiyar (Transl. 1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, University of Toronto Robart Library Archives, Canada, pp 140-147
* S. Nikhilananda (1958), Hinduism : Its meaning for the liberation of the spirit, Harper, ISBN 978-0911206265, pp 53-79;
* Andrew Fort (1998), Jivanmukti in Transformation, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-7914-3904-6
97. see also Sandilya Upanishad for ahimsa and other virtues; Quote: "तत्र हिंसा नाम मनोवाक्कायकर्मभिः सर्वभूतेषु सर्वदा क्लेशजननम्"; Aiyar translates this as: He practices Ahimsa - no injury or harm to any living being at any time through actions of his body, his speech or in his mind; K.N. Aiyar (Transl. 1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, University of Toronto Robart Library Archives, Canada, pp 173-174
--- end wiki extract ---

I am not sure whether the above wiki extract is fully accurate though most of what is given in it is what I understand the Hindu view of a Jeevanmukta to be. I don't think the ahimsa (non-violence) part is viewed by all Hindus in our times to be a trait of a Jeevanmukta. My understanding is that the Jeevanmukta is a peaceful person but the Jeevanmukta may engage in violence like beating somebody who is on the wrong track or take precautions from his body being damaged by pests or even human enemies. The Jeevanmukta would do these things for the good of the world, and not for selfish reasons.

In this context, here is an interesting extract from The Mind of a Jivanmukta, http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2009/bfeb09/jivan.shtml :

A jivanmukta is a sage free from the trammels of births and deaths while living. Though the instinctive mind with low desires has been destroyed in him, his spiritual sattwic mind does not perish. Like flowers and fruits that are latent in a seed, a residue of sattwa, the cause of intelligence, rests always in the heart. If the mind were completely annihilated as soon as one attained jnana, the jivanmukti state would be impossible. How would the jivanmukta be able to undertake worldly dealings without the instrument of the mind? Therefore, a jnani identifies himself with the all-pervading Brahman and uses his mind and body as his instruments for worldly activities, whereas an ajnani (ignorant person) identifies himself with his body. There have been cases of jivanmuktas like Raja Janaka who attained jnana and utilized their mind and body in this manner for the well-being of humanity at large.

Sri Rama and Sri Krishna were ever resting in Brahman even when they were ruling their kingdoms. They were ever conscious of their essential sat-chit-ananda (truth-consciousness-bliss) Brahmic nature, even though they assumed human forms. They utilized their minds and bodies as their instruments when they were performing various activities.
--- end extract from yogamag.net ---

I think the above extract is in line with how Hindus of our times view Jivanmuktas.

Coming back to the peace of mind being liberation matter, I think such a statement can get easily misunderstood. Sometimes simplification waters down the meaning and leads to wrong understanding.

I think that the crux of liberation while alive (Jeevanmukti) is removal of wrong identification of oneself (one's self) with one's body (and mind; mind-body complex), and ***realization/experience*** (not just belief) that one's reality is the eternal Atma which is the same as the Atma in others (all-pervading), and which is changeless and eternal. Note that removal of wrong identification of oneself with one's body (& mind) does not mean that the body (& mind) should necessarily be ignored and neglected. For one in intense sadhana, the body may be ignored. But for the jeevanmukta who engages in the world to help the world, the body (& mind) should be used as an instrument to do good and so it is important to maintain that instrument in good condition.

Of course, a jeevanmukta will have peace of mind! But peace of mind alone is NOT Moksha/liberation.
=============================================

In response to a comment on my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2655549544661606, associated with this blog post, I wrote (slightly edited):

Interesting to know your take on this.

My understanding of how Hindu scripture and enlightened Hindu masters view some of the aspects mentioned in your comment is as follows:

1. Being free from the bondage of pleasure and pain caused by attachment is a high level of Vairagya (detachment). Vairagya paves the way for clear experience of the changeless Atma/Self within each of us, which is otherwise clouded/mixed up with emotions and so not experienced clearly and distinctly. Note that some spiritual masters view pure awareness aspect present in each of us as the Atma.

But I think that high level of Vairagya by itself, without clear experience of inner awareness as the changeless self, would not constitute Moksha/liberation.

I think the clear experience of inner awareness as the changeless self is attained by few, while living. The Bhakti marga particularly does not focus on this kind of experience of inner awareness. The Bhakti marga is about having more and more love, worship and concentration of/on the Ishta Devata, many times including having a desire for darshan of the Ishta Devata. I think most Hindus follow the Bhakti marga and are not into contemplation of inner self which is part of Jnana marga.

And in this Bhakti marga, as per my understanding, keeping one's thoughts and prayers focused on the Ishta Devata at the time of death, is said to lead to the Bhakta (devotee) merging in the Ishta Devata/God and thereby achieving Moksha - no rebirth.

2. About the not mandatory to get Moksha part: Well, I think the standard understanding of Hindu scripture and that of teachings of enlightened spiritual masters, is that Moksha is the means of getting out of birth & death cycle. If one does not get Moksha, it is clearly implied that the person will have another birth.

3. About the famous Karmenyevadhikaraste shloka from Bhagavad Gita: 'Just do it' is an interesting way to interpret it. But I think two aspects should be added to it:
a) Just do it without being attached to the results (without desiring the results).
b) And do it as an offering of worship to God - This part is how many spiritual masters interpret it though I think the literal meaning of the shloka does not specifically mention this.

I hope you enjoyed your coffee :-), offering the enjoyment as worship of God!
------------

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Strong Presbyterian Christian faith of US President Woodrow Wilson and his efforts to create the League of Nations on Christian principles

Recently I read in the book, FDR by Jean Edward Smith, about how intensely US President Woodrow Wilson, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson, worked towards creating the League of Nations, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Nations, at the end of World War I, how he felt that he was being divinely guided (as per the book author), and how he was blocked from USA entering the League of Nations by the USA Senate as Wilson refused to accept the compromise being offered by Senate leaders. Wilson's health got badly affected perhaps partly due to this intense work that he did and the failure to get it through USA Senate.

The League of Nations seems to be the first major international body meant to resolve disputes without war in the world. It failed to prevent World War II and perhaps USA not joining it was part of the reason why it failed.

What struck me in this reading was how Wilson's intense Christian faith was the source of his intense desire and work for such a peace loving League of Nations.

Did some browsing on Wilson's faith and came across this fascinating document: The Religion of Woodrow Wilson, by Cary T. Grayson dated 3rd Feb. 1924 (Wilson died on the same date), http://presidentwilson.org/items/show/22351.

I have given below an extract from the initial part of the document:

Mr. Wilson was one of the most devout of our Presidents. His religion was marked by constant and regular prayer, not a formality but a sincere outpouring of his spirit and supplication for divine guidance. He read his Bible consistently every day, meditated on what he read, and sought to put into action the teachings of the Scripture. He was an habitual church attendant and an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. Even in Paris he often attended church though the pressure was so great upon him that he was forced to violate his usual rule and work upon Sundays either in his office or in conference. His power of criticism, so keen in literature, political science and practical politics, was, to use one of his favorite words, “adjourned” during a religious service. He would listen attentively to the preacher as one seeking guidance. His Washington pastor, the Reverend Doctor James H. Taylor, in a memorial sermon on President Wilson, said: “He gave the most careful attention to the reading of the Scripture and to the preaching of the sermon. In fact, it was often quite disconcerting to a visiting minister to discover suddenly that the sermon was being listened to with such concentrated attention.”

He went to church to worship, not to exercise his mental ingenuities. He did not muddy the waters of his faith with intellectual analysis. As a young man he espoused the Presbyterian creed of his forefathers, in which he never faltered, from which he never wavered. That firm faith was the foundation of his life and conduct, of his refusal ever to confuse right and wrong. His Scottish ancestors stressed the Old Testament with its uncompromising attitude toward sin and belief in a just God who avenges himself upon those who disobey his Commandments even unto the third and fourth generation.Mr. Wilson was impatient with people who argued that an All Merciful God could not consign his children to eternal punishment. He did not believe in infant damnation, but he did believe that those who had grown to maturity and who had had the opportunity to accept the plan of salvation as laid down by the Bible and had neglected to accept it, and had failed to keep faith with it, would receive no more than justice from the Almighty if they were shut out forever from his presence and his glory. In short, Mr. Wilson was no sentimentalist in religion or anywhere else.One of his ancestors was a leader of the Auld Lichts, the strictly orthodox, as opposed to the New Lichts, the more liberal party within the Scottish free church, and was satirized by Robert Burns, whose loving humanitarianism revolted against the merciless logic of the Older School.Mr. Wilson himself was fond of the Old Testament, and loved to listen to sermons which expounded the characters and traits of Old Testament leaders. In a powerful address which he made in Denver, Colorado, in 1911, while he was Governor of New Jersey, on the subject of “The Bible and Progress”, he said: “What does this Bible do for David? Does it utter eulogies upon him? Does it conceal his faults and magnify his virtues? Does it set him up as a great statesman would be set up in a modern biography? No, the book in which his annals are written strips the mask from David, strips every shred of counterfeit and concealment from him and shows him as indeed, an instrument of God, but a sinful and selfish man, and the verdict of the Bible is that David, like other men, was one day to stand naked before the judgment seat of God and be judged not as a king, but as a man.”

The New Testament also had its stern passages, in the Epistles and in the sayings of our Savior himself, and Mr. Wilson, who accepted the whole Bible, had the strict Presbyterian’s view of the uncompromising way in which both Testaments hold the individual to exacting accountability.But with all this Mr. Wilson thought and felt very tenderly about the mercy of God and the principles of forgiveness as laid down in the Scripture. During the supreme trial of his life, when he was ill and broken in the White House, and all his plans for a League of Nations, which he believed were plans for putting Christianity into practice, were being frustrated in the United States Senate, he once remarked grimly: “The devil is a very busy man.” However, when the Senate reached its final decision and rejected the Treaty, he summoned me to his bed-room one night and said: “Doctor, please get the Bible there and read from Second Corinthians, chapter 4, verses 8 and 9.” Finding the passage I read: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

At another time he said: “If I were not a Christian I think I should go mad, but my faith in God holds me to the belief that he is in some way working out his own plans through human perversities and mistakes.”He was averse to abstruse theory both in religion and politics. Near the end of his life he referred impatiently to the “modernists”, who, he said, were “trying to take the mystery out of religion.” Dr. Alderman, in his noble memorial address before Congress on President Wilson, said that Mr. Wilson “was sturdily and mystically Christian”, which sums up a good deal of the spirit of Mr. Wilson’s religion. His mind was too sturdy for the raptures of the cloistered mystic and at the same time too mystic for a purely rationalized and merely ethical Christianity. He believed that what is in the Bible was revealed to the writers, not in verbal form, but through some mysterious illumination, some indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

--- end extract from initial part of document ---

Ravi: Just fascinating to read these views/insights about President Wilson's faith and how that shaped his world views and seems to have shaped his work as President especially on the League of Nations (with impact worldwide).

[I thank presidentwilson.org 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.]

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Do the words Tulakan in Tamil/Malayalam and Turk in Hindi & Marathi in context of past centuries' Muslim invaders/rulers of many parts of India refer to people from Turkey or from Central Asia?

Last updated on 15th Nov. 2019 
I would like to first say that I believe in Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching of "Sabka Maalik Ek" (The master of all is ONE). In other words, I believe in ONE GOD with various religions including Islam being various paths/ways to worship and merge in that ONE GOD. Specifically, I am not against Islam, and am actually supportive of it, so long as it does not interfere in the right of others (like me, a Hindu) to practise their faiths which are different from Islam (e.g. Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism). Shirdi Sai Baba used to say "Allah Maalik" (Allah/God is the master) very often; I revere the same Shirdi Sai Baba,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi, and try to follow His teachings.
The intent of this post is to simply have a more truthful understanding of the past of my country, India, and Kerala state in particular.
This post is based on my part of a recent email conversation.

About Tulakan in Tamil & Malayalam and Turk in Hindi & Marathi, here's an extract (slightly edited to correct obvious typo kind of errors) from a Romila Thapar lecture, http://www.sacw.net/aii/ch2.html:

The notion that there were these two communities (Hindu & Muslim) ties in, again, with the notion of identity: where does one's identity lie? Does it lie with the Hindu community or does it lie with the Muslim community? And if it lies with whichever one, you trace it back to these communities and (which are) said to be constantly in conflict. This is a very crude and an incorrect way of looking at Indian history. To begin with, when the Muslims, whether they were Arabs, Turks, or Afghans, when they first arrived in India, and they came from Arabia, Afghanistan, central Asia, Persia. Let us see what they are called by the local people. Interestingly, they are not called Muslims. There are a series of names that are used which have a historical continuity from earlier times. For example, one of the terms that is used is yavana, a term that was used for the ancient Greeks and later on for anybody that came from West Asia, the Iranians, the Arabs they were all called Yavanas. When the British arrived by sea, the Dutch, the Portuguese and so on, they were also called yavanas, because they were basically from the direction of the west. This is a historical term, which goes back to the period of the Mauryan empire. It was first used in Mauryan sources referring to the Greeks.

Or else, they used the terms Shaka, Shakas meaning the Shakas who came from central Asia. The Turks are frequently referred to as the Shakas, or they are referred to as Turushka. Turushka is the Sanskrit, Turka is the term used in Marathi and Hindi and it is the same as Tulakan, which is used in Tamil. Going back again to Turkish, this is the ethnic name that was used for people that had come from Central Asia; or else they are described as mleccha, this being the term used for those who were outside caste society or did not observe caste regulations.
--- end extract ---

I should mention here that I am not commenting on all of what Romila Thapar has said above. But I think she seems to be right on the Tulakan part, as well as on Turkish being a reference to people from Central Asia (and NOT Turkey).

Prior to me understanding that the Indian language words (in context of past centuries' Indian history), Turk/Turki and Tulakan which I have heard being used by elders in my Tamil speaking Kerala Iyer family a few times, were references to Central Asians, which (understanding) was just a few years back, I think I was under the impression that they referred to people from Turkey! I used to wonder how come these invaders of India came from as far away as Turkey!

It is when I read up about Mongols (especially Mongol empire) that it started dawning on me that Turkey country name (with capital Istanbul/Constantinople) came from Central Asian tribes who had conquered and/or migrated to that country! And that the Turk word was associated originally with Central Asians, well before it started getting associated (in general and not in context of past centuries' Indian history) with the country Turkey). Let me see if I can provide some reference to that.
...
What wondrous and marvellous creations the Internet, search engines and Wikipedia are! I got the info. from simple Google search of the term 'origin of country name Turkey'! We truly are blessed to live in an Information Age never ever seen before in the whole history of humanity.

An extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_Turkey (with some comments of mine embedded in it), is given below:

The English name Turkey, now applied to the modern Republic of Turkey, is historically derived (via Old French Turquie) from the Medieval Latin Turchia, Turquia. It is first recorded in Middle English (as Turkye, Torke, later Turkie, Turky), attested in Chaucer, ca. 1369.[1][2] The Ottoman Empire was commonly referred to as Turkey or the Turkish Empire among its contemporaries.
...
Turkey adopted its official name, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, known in English as the Republic of Turkey, upon the declaration of the republic on October 29 1923.

[Ravi: Ottoman empire was founded in Turkey by a Central Asian tribal leader of Oghuz Turks, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oghuz_Turks, background who seems to have hailed from Central Asia. It was founded in 1299 by Osman I, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osman_I.]
...
The first recorded use of the term "Türk" or "Türük" as an autonym is contained in the Old Turkic inscriptions of the Göktürks (Celestial Turks) of Central Asia (c. AD 735).[5] The Turkic self-designation Türk is attested to reference to the Göktürks in the 6th century AD. A letter by Ishbara Qaghan to Emperor Wen of Sui in 585 described him as "the Great Turk Khan."

[Ravi: That's the vital nugget of info. In 585 AD, a Central Asia chieftain described himself as Great Turk Khan to then Chinese emperor! At that time Istanbul would have been Constantinople and the region that is the country Turkey today would have had a mix of people of somewhat recently converted Christians (as the Roman emperor of that area - Eastern Roman (Byzantine) empire - would have been Christian) and, perhaps, of earlier Roman and Greek and other religions but not Islam. Islam had not been founded yet!]

[Wiki Refs]
1. Harper, Douglas. "Turk". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
2. American Heritage Dictionary (2000). "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition - "Turk"". bartleby.com. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
..
5. Scharlipp, Wolfgang (2000). An Introduction to the Old Turkish Runic Inscriptions. Verlag auf dem Ruffel., Engelschoff. ISBN 3-933847-00-1, 9783933847003.

--- end wiki extract ---

An extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6kt%C3%BCrks is given below:

The Göktürks, Celestial Turks or Blue Turks (Old Turkic: 𐰰𐰼𐰇𐱅⁚𐰛𐰇𐰜‎, Kök Türük; Chinese: 突厥/تُركِئ; pinyin: Tūjué, Middle Chinese: *duət̚-kʉɐt̚ (türkut), Dungan: Тўҗүә; Khotanese Saka: Ttūrka, Ttrūka;[2] Old Tibetan: Drugu[2]) were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia ["Inner Asia refers to regions within East Asia and North Asia that are today part of Western China, Mongolia and eastern Russia.", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Asia]. The Göktürks, under the leadership of Bumin Qaghan (d. 552) and his sons, succeeded the Rouran Khaganate as the main power in the region and established the Turkic Khaganate, one of several nomadic dynasties which would shape the future geolocation, culture, and dominant beliefs of Turkic peoples.
--- end wiki extract ---

I think that settles the matter clearly that in the context of past centuries' Muslim invaders/rulers of many parts of India, Tulakan in Tamil/Malayalam and Turk in Hindi & Marathi refer to people from Central Asian regions (and NOT from the country, Turkey whose capital is Istanbul/ Constantinople), who invaded India, with many of them settling down in India and intermingling with the existing population thereby getting absorbed into Indian people.
======================================

Given below are my comments (slightly edited) from a comment exchange on my Facebook post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2652815258268368, associated with this blog post:

In response to a comment, I wrote:
--Name-snipped-- sir, interesting input. Thanks.

The impression I have formed is that the Moplah/Mapilla Muslim community in Kerala was home-grown over centuries right from 7th century (Islam was founded in early 7th century). They are NOT or should NOT be referred to as Tulakan - if they are referred to in that way, then that is a mixed up reference. Islam would have come along with traders from the Arab world who used the then well established sea route over the Arabian sea between Arabia and Kerala.

But the invaders/rulers of India from Central Asia who steadily made inroads into South India and so would have been a threat to rulers of Kerala, directly/indirectly, are referred to as Tulakan.

Interesting that while you did not hear the word Tulakan being used in your childhood in Kerala, but heard it (as an adult) when you interacted with Tamil speakers in Penang (Malaysia), where it was being used to refer to Tamil Muslims. Interesting to know about the term Chulias.

I think Tulakan would be more well known in Tamil Nadu than Kerala as Tamil Nadu has faced many Islamic invasions and also Islamic rule in past centuries.

The first invasion/raid from Central Asian origin Muslim rulers was during the Khalji/Khilji dynasty, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalji_dynasty, who were the 2nd dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate ruling from 1290 to 1320. The Khaljis were Central Asian origin people who had settled in Afghanistan and then moved to Delhi. So the Khaljis were Turks (Hindi/Marathi) or Tulakans (Tamil/Malayalam).

Malik Kafur's invasion of the Pandya kingdom, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malik_Kafur%27s_invasion_of_the_Pandya_kingdom, tells us, "During 1310-1311, the Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khalji sent an army led by Malik Kafur to the southernmost kingdoms of India. After subjugating the Hoysalas, Malik Kafur invaded the Pandya kingdom (called Ma'bar in Muslim chronicles) in present-day Tamil Nadu, taking advantage of a war of succession between the Pandya brothers Vira and Sundara. During March–April 1311, he raided several places in the Pandya territory, including their capital Madurai. He was unable to make the Pandya king a tributary to the Delhi Sultanate, but obtained a huge plunder, including elephants, horses, gold and precious stones."

Note that the Pandya kingdom is referred to as Ma'bar in Muslim chronicles and whose capital was Madurai. I think we should not confuse it as a reference to Malabar area of Kerala, even if Muslim chronicles mixed up the two areas.

So this was the first Delhi Muslim ruler raid into Pandya kingdom which would have been an utterly terrifying experience for the entire Pandya kingdom, not only for the rulers but also the common people. As Pandya kingdom then also stretched into at least some parts of Kerala like south Kerala, the news would have travelled to those parts and from there to other parts of Kerala even if they were not under Pandya rule then.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandya_dynasty tells us, "An internal crisis in the Pandya empire coincided with the Khalji invasion of south India in 1310–11.[7 -  "Pandya dynasty | Indian dynasty". Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pandya-dynasty. Retrieved 21 September 2017.] The ensuing political crisis saw more sultanate raids and plunder, the loss of south Kerala (1312), ..."

So south Kerala was under Pandya kingdom at the time of the Malik Kafur led raid under Khalji dynasty of Delhi sultanate.

And there were more raids from Delhi sultanate later! From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madurai_Sultanate: "In the early 14th Century, South India was subjected to repeated invasions by armies of the Delhi Sultanate. There were three separate invasions within a period of fifteen years. The first invasion in 1311 CE was led by Malik Kafur, who sacked Madurai. Following this there were two more expeditions from the Delhi Sultanate - the second in 1314 CE led by Khusro Khan and the third in 1323 CE by Ulugh Khan. These invasions shattered the Pandyan empire beyond revival. While the previous invasions were content with plunder, Ulugh Khan annexed the former Pandyan dominions to the Delhi Sultanate as the province of Ma'bar. Most of South India came under the Delhi's rule and was divided into five provinces - Devagiri, Tiling, Kampili, Dorasamudra and Ma'bar.[1 - Nilakanta Sastri, P.213]

In 1325, Ulugh Khan acceded to the throne in Delhi as Muhammad bin Tughluq."

Ravi: So the Delhi Sultanate, over a period of 12 to 13 years from 1311 to 1323, first raided South India including the areas of what is referred to as Tamil Nadu today, and then annexed most of South India in 1323 to the Delhi Sultanate. For the first time, many areas of South India came under Muslim rule!

Naturally this would have been a tremendous life-changing event for the people of South India and they would have tried to understand and come to terms with what had happened. I think that's when the Tulakan term would have got into Tamil & Malayalam languages to refer to Delhi Sultanate invaders & rulers (distinct from home-grown Muslims of Kerala).

It is not clear to me whether Delhi Sultanate rule in 1323 extended to South Kerala and Central Kerala.

Note that the Vijayanagara Hindu empire rose a few years later as a reaction to Muslim Delhi Sultanate rule. Given below is an extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayanagara_Empire,

The Vijayanagara Empire (also called Karnata Empire,[3] and the Kingdom of Bisnegar by the Portuguese) was based in the Deccan Plateau region in South India. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty.[4][5][6] The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers to ward off Islamic invasions by the end of the 13th century. It lasted until 1646, although its power declined after a major military defeat in the Battle of Talikota in 1565 by the combined armies of the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, whose ruins surround present day Hampi, now a World Heritage Site in Karnataka, India.[7]
...
[Wiki Refs]
3. Stein 1989, p. 1.
4. By James Mansel Longworth page 204
5. edited by J C morris page 261
6. Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 103–106. ISBN 978-93-80607-34-4.
7. "Master Plan for Hampi Local Planning Area" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 April 2013.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Puttaparthi area was part of Vijayanagara empire. Bukkapatnam, town close to Puttaparthi, is named after one of the Vijayanagara empire rulers, Bukka (patnam means town/city). Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba did some part of his schooling in Bukkapatnam (in 1930s I guess), walking to the school and back from Puttaparthi.
------

In response to a comment asking what we can distill from (this discussion), I wrote:
--Name-snipped-- sir, I am more of a details guy (verbose guy). This gives me a good idea of the history of the word Tulakan in Tamil and Malayalam. BTW I checked with a Kerala guy in Puttaparthi who grew up in Kerala. He said he had heard of the word Tulakan in his youth itself in Kerala.
------

Checked with a couple of locals in Puttaparthi: Turku + vallu = Turkollu is used in Telugu. The actual reference historically would have been to the Central Asian origin Muslim rulers from Delhi Sultanate, like the words, Turk in Hindi/Marathi and Tulakan in Tamil/Malayalam. One of the locals with whom I checked wrote that he always thought that it denotes Turkey! I think this post may help in clearing up such misconceptions among those people who happen to read this post.

I should also mention that I have heard Puttaparthi locals normally using 'Sahebvallu' (in Telugu) to refer to Muslims in a honourable way. Note that Saheb is a term of respect like sir.

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

Southern and central parts of Kerala (Travancore & Cochin kingdoms) seem to have never been under Muslim rule - something rare, if not unique, in history of mainland India

I would like to first say that I believe in Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching of "Sabka Maalik Ek" (The master of all is ONE). In other words, I believe in ONE GOD with various religions including Islam being various paths/ways to worship and merge in that ONE GOD. Specifically, I am not against Islam, and am actually supportive of it, so long as it does not interfere in the right of others (like me, a Hindu) to practise their faiths which are different from Islam (e.g. Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Judaism). Shirdi Sai Baba used to say "Allah Maalik" (Allah/God is the master) very often; I revere the same Shirdi Sai Baba,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi, and try to follow His teachings.
The intent of this post is to simply have a more truthful understanding of the past of my country, India, and Kerala state in particular.
There seems to be a widespread notion in India that Mughals (Mughals were Muslims) ruled over whole of India (Indian sub-continent) for centuries. That is an inaccurate or rather, to be frank, wrong notion.

The map in https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mughal_Empire tells us that at the death of Babur in 1530, the Mughal empire was limited to North India and some bordering areas of Central India.

Further, even at the death of Akbar in 1605, the Mughal empire, as per the above map, had not got into the Deccan and other parts of Southern India and bordering regions of Western & Central India.

It is at the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 that the Mughal empire had extended deep into South India but not into southern and central parts of what is known as Kerala now. The map also shows some parts of Tamil Nadu that were not under Mughal empire then.

And after Aurangzeb's death, the Mughal empire started disintegrating with the Marathas eventually replacing them as rulers over most of India, who then got defeated by the British (last big battle in 1818 if I recall correctly), leading to British rule over most of India from then on.

Note that Muslim rule in significant parts of mainland India started with Delhi Sultanate, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi_Sultanate, which had 5 dynasties and ruled from 1206 to 1526. The Mughal empire, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mughal_Empire, replaced the Delhi Sultanate in 1526.

I recall that in my school education in Mumbai in the 1970s which was with syllabus prescribed by Maharashtra state education board, the emphasis on Indian history of past few centuries, naturally, was on the great fight between Marathas (Shivaji being celebrated as a great king and founder of Maratha empire) and Mughals, along with earlier Delhi Sultanate and Mughal conquest of much of Indian sub-continent, and later British wars of conquest in India. I don't recall any coverage of Travancore and Cochin kingdoms of that period - though there may have been some mention in school history books but which I have forgotten now.

In particular, I don't think I was taught that southern and central parts of Kerala were never under Muslim rule, as compared to North, West, Central and East India excluding North-East India. I don't know whether outer North East states of India like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram ever came under Muslim rule. Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura seem to have had some period of Muslim rule.

South India in general seems to have had lesser period of Muslim rule as compared to other parts of mainland India (excluding North-East India), with Vijayanagar empire being a major Hindu kingdom during those centuries but which eventually got defeated by, I think, Muslim sultanates of South India.

In what is Kerala state today, only Northern Kerala (Malabar) came under Muslim rule ***once*** under Hyder Ali/Tipu Sultan (son of Hyder Ali) of Mysore kingdom from 1766 to 1792 (26 years), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysorean_invasion_of_Malabar. Kingdom of Cochin paid tribute to Hyder Ali/Tipu Sultan of Mysore kingdom but seems to not have come under its direct rule.

Kingdom of Travancore did not pay tribute to Mysore kingdom (instead it became a protectorate of the British, with Travancore paying for that protection in some way).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Kerala is a detailed history of Kerala. The only Muslim invasion and annexation it mentions is the above mentioned Hyder Ali invasion. [But Tipu Sultan also invaded other parts of Kerala including Travancore kingdom but did not/could not occupy/annex it, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysorean_invasion_of_Malabar#Tipu_Sultan's_attacks_on_Travancore_(1789%E2%80%931790).]

The Muslim mapilla community in Kerala has history going back to 7th century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mappila (intro section) states: "As per local tradition, Islam reached Malabar Coast, of which the Kerala state is a part of, as early as the 7th century AD.[4 - Miller, Roland. E., "Mappila" in "The Encyclopedia of Islam". Volume VI. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 1987 [1]. pp. 458-56.]".

Kerala had trade with Arabs even prior to Islam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mappila#Origin_of_Islam_in_Kerala states:

It is generally agreed among scholars that Middle Eastern merchants frequented the Malabar Coast, which was the link between the West and ports of East Asia, even before Islam had been established in Arabia.[21][22] The western coast of India was the chief centre of Middle Eastern trading activities right from at least 4th century AD and by about 7th century AD, and several West Asian merchants had taken permanent residence in some port cities of the Malabar Coast. A number of foreign accounts have mentioned about the presence of considerable Muslim population in the coastal towns. Arab writers such as Masudi of Baghdad (934–955 AD), Idrisi (1154 AD), Abul-Fida (1213 AD) and al-Dimishqi (1325 AD) mentions the Muslim communities in Kerala.[8] Some historians assume that the Mappilas can be considered as the first native, settled Islamic community in South Asia.[23][24]

[Wiki Refs]
8.  P. P., Razak Abdul "Colonialism and community formation in Malabar: a study of muslims of Malabar" Unpublished PhD thesis (2013) Department of History, University of Calicut [4]
...
21. Shail Mayaram; M. S. S. Pandian; Ajay Skaria (2005). Muslims, Dalits, and the Fabrications of History. Permanent Black and Ravi Dayal Publisher. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-81-7824-115-9. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
22. West, Barbara A. (19 May 2010). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 506. ISBN 978-1-4381-1913-7.
23. Uri M. Kupferschmidt (1987). The Supreme Muslim Council: Islam Under the British Mandate for Palestine. Brill. pp. 458–459. ISBN 978-90-04-07929-8. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
24. A. Rā Kulakarṇī (1996). Mediaeval Deccan History: Commemoration Volume in Honour of Purshottam Mahadeo Joshi. Popular Prakashan. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-81-7154-579-7. Retrieved 24 July 2012.

--- end wiki extract ---

So there seems to have been sizeable Muslim community in Malabar part of Kerala even before Hyder Ali invaded it and annexed it to his kingdom. But the Muslim Mapilla community did not rule Malabar prior to Hyder Ali annexation. It was ruled by a Hindu Zamorin.

To conclude, I think we can say that southern and central parts of Kerala which correspond to pre-Independence kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore, were never under Muslim rule, and which is something rare, if not unique, in history of mainland India. However Cochin paid tribute to Hyder Ali/Tipu Sultan led Mysore kingdom which would have been for a short period of around 26 years from 1766 to 1792.

This aspect of Indian history may not have been given much exposure in India as a whole as Kerala accounts for only 1.2% of land area of India, https://archive.india.gov.in/knowindia/state_uts.php?id=39.

However, for Hindus like me whose family background is Kerala Iyer background (Tamil Iyers who migrated to Kerala centuries ago), this is a vital aspect! [My own family ancestors seem to have lived mainly, if not wholly, in southern and central parts of Kerala.] Perhaps this vital aspect of Kerala history explains why Hindu traditions of our families/caste were given so much importance in our families (including in my boyhood in Bombay in 60s & 70s), and which is how we have been able to preserve Hindu traditions of our families/caste quite well!

Perhaps some parts of Tamil Nadu also were never under Muslim rule. But Tamil Nadu did have much more of Muslim rule than the limited Hyder Ali/Tipu Sultan 26 year rule in North Kerala (Malabar).

It should also be mentioned that in past centuries before Muslim rulers first raided Tamil Nadu (& Kerala perhaps) - Malik Kafur, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malik_Kafur%27s_invasion_of_the_Pandya_kingdom, seems to have been the first such raider in 1310-11 - Kerala (& Tamil Nadu) seems to have had periods of Jain/Buddhist rule.

As an aside, I also want to say that Puttaparthi, where I have lived since 2002, is near to Penukonda, a noted city in history of past centuries. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penukonda, "This region was controlled at different points in history by the Hoysalas, Chalukyas, Vijayanagar, Nawabs, Maratha chieftain Murari Rao, Tipu Sultan, Nizam and eventually came under British rule after it was ceded to the British by the Nizam of Hyderabad. It was a melting pot of different religions but the town and fort were established by early Hoysala kings, who were practitioners of Jainism."

The region where I live now (Puttaparthi mandal of Anantapur district) would have had a similar history to Penukonda region as Penukonda seems to have been the most important town/city in this area in the past many centuries, before Anantapur city, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anantapur, emerged (probably under British rule) as a more important city. Therefore the region where I live now seems to have a history of rule of many different dynasties of different religions - Jain, Hindu, Muslim and then secular (British followed by Independent India). This, I think, is similar to history of many parts of Maharashtra - a melting pot of religions & cultures over centuries. Note that I was based in Mumbai and outlying areas (Dombivli), which are in Maharashtra, for most of the first 4 decades of my life (excluding software developer/consultant foreign assignment stints mainly in USA & Europe of totally around 3 years) before I moved to Puttaparthi in 2002.

[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.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

'Vedanta, god and science' search term gives my 'Who am I? I am I ..' book within top ten results in Google, bing and duckduckgo search engines

Thought of sharing with readers that the search term:
Vedanta, god and science

used in three popular search engines gives my book "Who am I? I am I - Ultimate Existential Reality Answer; Vedanta; God and Science conversation" within top ten results. Note that the same book is also put up on one site with slightly different title "The Ultimate Existential Reality Answer; Vedanta; God and Science conversation".

The results rank of the book is as follows (from anonymous Chrome window on my desktop PC):
google.co.in - 1st
bing.com - 2nd
duckduckgo.com - 5th

I am quite surprised to see these results. Note that these search results do not really seem to have had an impact in more persons reading my book. Nonetheless it was quite a pleasant surprise to note that for a general term like 'Vedanta, god and science' my book whose title has all these words in that order, makes it to top ten results in famous Internet search engines.

[Here's the archive.org free download pdf version of my above mentioned book: https://archive.org/details/20180424EbookNotPrintColourCoverBWContentsA5WhoAmIIAmINGodNScience.]

If I drop the word Vedanta from the term and have only 'god and science' then my book is just nowhere in the search results. I checked first 50 results for all these three search engines and my book does not appear in those results. That is as per what I expected.

But if I add the word conversation to the search term i.e. the term becomes:
god and science conversation

then search results in all three search engines list my book within top thirty search results.
The particular ranking is as follows:
google.co.in - 18th
bing.com - 2nd  [This was really unexpected!]
duckduckgo.com - 26th

I am really surprised by such search results that list my book for general search terms given above. I mean if my name is mentioned in the search terms or the somewhat unusual term of 'ultimate existential reality' is used then it would be more reasonable to see my book being listed in top thirty results.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Hinduism sometimes is inaccurately described as polytheistic in comparison to Christianity which is described as monotheistic (somewhat inaccurately, some say)

Last updated on 11th Nov. 2019

Given below are my comments (slightly edited) on my Facebook post, Christian doctrine of Trinity, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2644815935734967, which corresponds to my blog post, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2019/11/christian-doctrine-of-trinity.html, which I felt appropriate to put up as a separate post.

As only my comments are provided below without others' comments, it may be somewhat awkward reading it at times. To see the full exchange, please visit above Facebook post.

In response to a comment, I wrote:
To my mind, the Trinity doctrine shows how early Christian theologians understood and conveyed their understanding of relation between divine Lord Jesus Christ and God (God of the Old Testament, I think, where God is the Father), and the Holy Spirit.

Sanathana Dharma theologians-equivalent which is our Rishis (sages), would have had to do something similar with relation of Avatars like Rama & Krishna with God (Nirgun Parabrahma - formless God).

My understanding of how they viewed it and conveyed it is that when practise of Dharma is in decline and needs to be re-invigorated, from Nirgun Parabrahman (also referred to as just Brahman)/formless God, an Avatar with form and divine powers descends to material world and shows mankind the way to practise Dharma and to have belief in God and worship God. [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, verses 7 & 8 - Yada yada hi dharmasya, https://www.thedivineindia.com/yada-yada-hi-dharmasya/6041.]

Hindu scripture/Sanathana Dharma says, 'Ekoham Bahu Syam' which is interpreted as 'the non dual Brahman thought or willed, "I am One, let Me become many!" ; so by the sankalpa the Brahman projected himself as many.', http://vedapurana.org/single.php?s=1820&word=Ekoham%20Bahu%20Syam&secure.

The (changeless and eternal) Atma in the Avatar and common humanity is the same, and is part of Parabrahma (essence is the same as in Parabrahma) - that is what Hindu scripture teaches us, as per my understanding. Though the difference between Avatar and common humanity is that the Avatar descends through will of God among humanity/in the world, equipped with divine/superhuman powers to accomplish his objective of defeating evil and restoring practice of Dharma.

So, in essence, not only Avatar but all of humanity, indeed all existence, is made of the same essence as God (Nirguna Parabrahma/formless God). That's how I understand Sanathana Dharma/Hindu view (theology) about this matter.

...

Now I would like to move to the rather widely held view in the Western world, that Christianity is monotheistic (one God) whereas Hinduism is polytheistic (many Gods). And this widely held view of the Western world is disseminated throughout the world and so many people in other parts of the world, including Asia, get influenced by this view.

I think this is a ***wrong*** view.

The Trinity doctrine has three elements/persons. At least two of them are directly worshipped by Christians - Jesus Christ and God. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is also worshipped.

So there are multiple deities involved in Christian worship (I am not including Virgin Mary worship here as I want to stay focused on core Christian doctrine of Trinity).

How is that not polytheistic? If the argument is that the essence of these different persons/deities that are worhsipped by Christians, is the same, which is the One God, and so Christiainity is monotheistic, I would say that the same argument applies to Sanathana Dharma/Hinduism.

Nirguna Parabrahma (formless God) is the divine essence, one can say. And all the various devas (divine figures) in Hinduism like Brahma, Vishna, Siva, Rama and Krishna (and Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai for Shirdi Sai/Sathya Sai devotees) to whom Hindus pray as different deities, are of the same essence as Nirguna Parabrahma/formless God. Therefore if Christianity with its core Trinity doctrine is viewed as monotheistic then Hinduism/Sanathana Dharma based on core Hindu scripture like Vedanta, is also monotheistic.

Now, some might say, but Christianity has only three persons in the Trinity and maybe Virgin Mary too as deities. Yes, that may be true. From what I have been exposed to, Christian churches typically have only these deities as the main deities. But they have saints to whom people pray to. These saints are worshipped and so they are deities like Sanathana Dharma/Hindu devas/devis that are worshipped by Hindus.

Therefore I think the view that Christianity is a monotheistic religion whereas Hinduism/Sanathana Dharma is a polytheistic religion, is an inaccurate and oversimplistic view, which can, and I think does, lead to wrong notions about Hinduism being spread.
-----

Did some browsing on the issue of Hinduism being viewed as monotheistic or polytheistic.

Here's one interesting link from a USA site: https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/life/faith/2014/08/20/hinduism-many-gods/14247795/. It is an article published in 2014 by an Aparna Chawla who is a dentist practising in Central Jersey (part of New Jersey state of USA, I presume).

She starts the article with: 'People often think that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. They ask me, “Why do you have so many gods?”'.

Ravi: That fits in with what I wrote about widely held view in the Western world that Hinduism is polytheistic.

Here's a key part of her article: 'Hinduism is both monotheistic and henotheistic. Hinduism is not polytheistic. Henotheism (literally “one God”) better defines the Hindu view. It means the worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods. Hindus believe in the one all-pervasive God who energizes the entire universe. It is believed that God is both in the world and beyond it. That is the highest Hindu view.'

Ravi: Hmm. Henotheism is a new term for me. But Max Mueller used it in the context of Hinduism as per its wiki page! Here's the related extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henotheism

Henotheism was the term used by scholars such as Max Müller to describe the theology of Vedic religion.[14][2] Müller noted that the hymns of the Rigveda, the oldest scripture of Hinduism, mention many deities, but praises them successively as the "one ultimate, supreme God", alternatively as "one supreme Goddess",[15] thereby asserting that the essence of the deities was unitary (ekam), and the deities were nothing but pluralistic manifestations of the same concept of the divine (God).[2][5][6]

The Vedic era conceptualization of the divine or the One, states Jeaneane Fowler, is more abstract than a monotheistic God, it is the Reality behind and of the phenomenal universe.[16] The Vedic hymns treat it as "limitless, indescribable, absolute principle", thus the Vedic divine is something of a panentheism rather than simple henotheism.[16] In late Vedic era, around the start of Upanishadic age (~800 BCE), theosophical speculations emerge that develop concepts which scholars variously call nondualism or monism, as well as forms of non-theism and pantheism.[16][17][18] An example of the questioning of the concept of God, in addition to henotheistic hymns found therein, are in later portions of the Rigveda, such as the Nasadiya Sukta.[19] Hinduism calls the metaphysical absolute concept as Brahman, incorporating within it the transcendent and immanent reality.[20][21][22] Different schools of thought interpret Brahman as either personal, impersonal or transpersonal. Ishwar Chandra Sharma describes it as "Absolute Reality, beyond all dualities of existence and non-existence, light and darkness, and of time, space and cause."[23]

[Wiki Refs]
2. Charles Taliaferro; Victoria S. Harrison; Stewart Goetz (2012). The Routledge Companion to Theism. Routledge. pp. 78–79. ISBN 978-1-136-33823-6.
..
5. Ilai Alon; Ithamar Gruenwald; Itamar Singer (1994). Concepts of the Other in Near Eastern Religions. BRILL Academic. pp. 370–371. ISBN 978-9004102200.
6. Christoph Elsas (1999). Erwin Fahlbusch (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans. p. 524. ISBN 978-90-04-11695-5.
..
14. Sugirtharajah, Sharada, Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective, Routledge, 2004, p.44;
15. William A. Graham (1993). Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion. Cambridge University Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-521-44820-8.
16. Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
17. James L. Ford (2016). The Divine Quest, East and West: A Comparative Study of Ultimate Realities. State University of New York Press. pp. 308–309. ISBN 978-1-4384-6055-0.
18. Ninian Smart (2013). The Yogi and the Devotee (Routledge Revivals): The Interplay Between the Upanishads and Catholic Theology. Routledge. pp. 46–47, 117. ISBN 978-1-136-62933-4.
19. Jessica Frazier (2013). Russell Re Manning (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology. Oxford University Press. pp. 172–173. ISBN 978-0-19-161171-1.
20. PT Raju (2006), Idealistic Thought of India, Routledge, ISBN 978-1406732627, page 426 and Conclusion chapter part XII
21. Jeffrey Brodd (2003). World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery. Saint Mary's Press. pp. 43–45. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5.
22. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, page 91
23. Ishwar Chandra Sharma, Ethical Philosophies of India, Harper & Row, 1970, p.75.
--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: In the wiki extract above, I very much liked the sentence, "The Vedic era conceptualization of the divine or the One, states Jeaneane Fowler, is more abstract than a monotheistic God, it is the Reality behind and of the phenomenal universe."

More abstract than a monotheistic God!

Hmm. This is getting into complex and very intricate jargon territory. But I think that the above wiki page extract seems to confirm my view about Hinduism inaccurately (wrongly) being described as polytheistic, and expressed in part of my earlier comment which is: "Therefore I think the view that Christianity is a monotheistic religion whereas Hinduism/Sanathana Dharma is a polytheistic religion, is an inaccurate and oversimplistic view, ..."
--------

And now something really wide-ranging. Here's a small extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_views_on_monotheism :

Hinduism incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. Different traditions of Hinduism have different theistic views, and these views have been described by scholars as polytheism, monotheism, henotheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnostic, humanism, atheism or Nontheism.[1][2][3]

[Wiki Refs]
1. [a] Julius J. Lipner, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-45677-7, page 8; Quote: "(...) one need not be religious in the minimal sense described to be accepted as a Hindu by Hindus, or describe oneself perfectly validly as Hindu. One may be polytheistic or monotheistic, monistic or pantheistic, even an agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered a Hindu.";
[b] Lester Kurtz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, ISBN 978-0123695031, Academic Press, 2008;
[c] MK Gandhi, The Essence of Hinduism, Editor: VB Kher, Navajivan Publishing, see page 3; According to Gandhi, "a man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu."
2. Rogers, Peter (2009), Ultimate Truth, Book 1, AuthorHouse, p. 109, ISBN 978-1-4389-7968-7;
Chakravarti, Sitansu (1991), Hinduism, a way of life, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., p. 71, ISBN 978-81-208-0899-7
3. "Polytheism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
--- end wiki extract ---
--------------

The above wiki page also mentions this relevant verse the from the Rig Veda:

According to Rigveda 1.164.46,
Transl: Klaus Klostermaier[22][23]

Indraṃ mitraṃ varuṇamaghnimāhuratho divyaḥ sa suparṇo gharutmān,
ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadantyaghniṃ yamaṃ mātariśvānamāhuḥ
"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutmān.
To what is One, sages give many a title — they call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan."

[Wiki Refs:]
22. Klaus K. Klostermaier (2010). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. State University of New York Press. pp. 103 with footnote 10 on page 529. ISBN 978-0-7914-8011-3.
23. See also, Griffith's Rigveda translation: Wikisource [https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Rig_Veda/Mandala_1/Hymn_164]

--- end wiki extract ---

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has referenced the key part of above Rig Veda verse namely, "Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti", many times in his discourses. (I think it is translated in English as: Truth is One which sages refer by many names).
-------

Here's a 2009 discourse of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba where he refers to ekam sad vipra ... http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume42/sss42-16.pdf.

In the discourse text it is given as: “Truth is one, but the wise refer to it by various names (Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti).”

While I was not present for this discourse (in Hadshi, Pune), I recall having the great blessing of listening to Bhagavan say these words in public discourse when I was present in Sai Kulwant Hall. His tone would go up a few notches as he would utter these words in Sanskrit (Ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti)! That I think was an indication of how much value he gave to such words.

If I recall correctly, I have heard that live on multiple occasions.

It is one of the great teachings of Sanathana Dharma that Bhagavan has banged into my head through me hearing it multiple times from his own voice. And I am deeply grateful to Bhagavan for having banged that into my head.
-----

Came across this fascinating response to the question, "Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic?", from Rami Sivan, an Australian white guy who now is a Hindu priest, https://www.quora.com/Is-Hinduism-monotheistic-or-polytheistic/answer/Rami-Sivan.

He starts his response with "THEISM is a western theological/academic construct and an Abrahamic obsession. It has no relevance whatsoever to Hindu philosophy." He then advises readers to not engage in such discussion.

He then says that only Judaism and Islam are strictly monotheistic. He says, "Christianity is ersatz monotheism because the moment you divide the ONE into three and add the three into one - you have polytheism."

He goes on to talk about Brahman and Sat-cit-ananda.

I find his views to be frank, sensible and to-the-point.

A comment I put on the above Quora article of his: Thank you so much for this frank and crisp answer. I was wondering why Hinduism is referred to as polytheistic by some people, especially in the West. I have been sharing my views on it and requesting comments as part of discussion on my recent public Facebook post on 'Christian doctrine of Trinity' here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2644815935734967.

Google searching for 'is hinduism a polytheistic religion' led me to your superb response. I will be sharing the link of your response on my Facebook post conversation and a short description of it.
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I was very intrigued about him and looked him up on the Internet. Here's a youtube video of him where, as a Hindu priest, he conducts a puja (Blessing ceremony) in 2009 in Sydney (PKJ Yoga), Australia, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if4yxv4z_PA, around 10 mins. His chanting of the puja mantras is very good! I enjoyed it as I could recollect the mantras from the many, many times I have participated in such pujas, usually at my family homes (prior to my move to Puttaparthi in Oct. 2002), hearing such mantras, and chanting some of them.

Great to see a white Australian vadyaar (Tamil for Hindu priest)! I really was very happy to see him chanting the mantras so well and conducting the puja so well.
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The above comment sort-of puts a lid on the discussion, IMHO.
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In response to a comment, I wrote:
Thank you bro. for your valuable view on the matter. I find it to be interesting. One of the things I learned from reading Karen Armstrong's rather inaccurately (and pompously) titled book, 'History of God' which I think is more a history of Abrahamic religions with perhaps some mention of other religions, is that what religious practices/concepts work for people are what survive the great test of time. ... What has survived in Hinduism are concepts and practices which have worked for some groups of people (Shaivites, Vaisnavites, Devi bhaktas etc.) for centuries! ... Thanks again for your valuable time and valuable thoughts.
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In response to a comment about Karen Armstrong, I wrote (slightly edited):

Her book was a NYT bestseller. I recall it to be very readable but, as I indicated earlier, I found her coverage of Hinduism to be poor.

Here are two links about her book which you may want to have a look at:
* https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/4882/a-history-of-god-by-karen-armstrong/
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_History_of_God

...

And bro. if you have not heard of Prof. Diana Eck and her works on Hinduism then, for a superb view of Hinduism from one of the leading academic scholars on Hinduism in the world today, I highly recommend the book:

India: A Sacred Geography by Diana Eck, https://www.amazon.in/dp/0385347081.

Here are some of my blog posts related to it (the last one is critical of one of her views; so I don't agree with everything she says):

* India: A sacred geography - by Harvard Prof. of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Diana L. Eck, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/03/india-sacred-geography-by-harvard-prof.html, March 2014

* Harvard Prof. Diana Eck on Shiva Linga worship, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/10/harvard-prof-diana-eck-on-shiva-linga.html, Oct. 2014

* Criticism of (non) Historicity of Rama content in Harvard Religion Prof. Diana Eck's 2012 book, India: A Sacred Geography, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2015/01/criticism-of-harvard-religion-prof.html, 2015

[I thank wikipedia, mycentraljersey.com & Aparna Chawla, and quora.com & Rami Sivan, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) (small extracts from mycentraljersey.com and quora.com) from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]