Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hindu Radhadesh, Belgium temple & center seems to be great example of religious tolerance in Christian majority Belgium

Jahnavi Jivana - Day 2 - Radhadesh Mellows 2020,, 55 mins, premiered on 30th March 2020.

About the lead singer Jahnavi Harrison from, "Jahnavi Harrison, also known by her spiritual name, Jahnavi Jivana devi dasi,[1] is a British musician known for her mantra meditation music (kirtan). She regularly appears as a presenter on BBC Radio 4's Something Understood programme and BBC Radio 2's Pause for Thought.[2]"

[Wiki References above:

1. Smullen, Madhava. "Second Generation Kirtan Leaders Commit to Initiation Vows". ISKCON News. Retrieved 29 May 2020.

2. "Pause For Thought - Pause For Thought: 'Let your heart be light.' - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 2020-04-28."]

About Radhadesh from "ISKCON Radhadesh temple, in the Septon neighbourhood of Durbuy. This is the only proper ISKCON temple in Belgium."

Radhadesh Mellows seems to be an annual ISKCON kirtan festival held in above Radhadesh, Belgium.

Now Belgium has a special place in my heart as it was my first foreign stint country (on a software development assignment) when I was in my early twenties (in the mid 1980s), and I had a wonderful time in that stint of over a year. I was living in Brussels, Belgium.

Belgium is a majority Christian country (over 60%) with Hindus being a very small minority (less than 1%) there,

I think it is just a wonderful testament to the freedom of religion in Belgium in this case and in general in Western Europe, that this ISKCON temple has been setup there and has now acquired quite a bit of fame for those into such stuff. Of course, I am quite sure that this ISKCON community would be following laws of Belgium and would be making a positive contribution to the community there.

In my considered view, religious pluralism is a vital thing to promote in the world today. Yes, religious communities that are not law-abiding and indulge in non-self-defense violence against people of other religions (or no religion), are not good and must be discouraged. But peaceful and law-abiding communities of different religions including those of no religion must live in harmony.

In this context I would like to share my 2014 post: Harvard Pluralism Project: What is (religious) pluralism?,

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in September 2020

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

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


Amazing Grace - Michael W. Smith (Christian song),, 6 min. 13 secs.

Lovely Hindi Christian song (the reference is to God using Hindu/Urdu words and one might think it is a Muslim group singing but it is Christian)., 5 min. 37 secs.

Mann Lago Yaar Fakiri Mein by Abida Parveen,, around 16 mins.

Pooja Gaitonde singing Man Laago Yaar Fakiri Me,, 8 min. 24 secs.


The lead singer of this rendition of the well known qawwali - Bhar do Jholi meri ya Mohammad - seems to be Hindu (Anu Kapoor). I think late 20th and early 21st century India has a lot of such traditions of respect for various religions, and I think such inter-faith respect must be zealously protected., 8 min. 21 secs.


Nice clip of a person's visit to a famous Muslim shrine in Mumbai - Haji Ali - which also has many Hindu and perhaps other religion visitors too. [I have visited it during my Mumbai days.] The video was published in Dec. 2017 but the visit date is mentioned as 7th June 2017., slightly over 4 mins.


I don't follow Kannada but I find this lady's (Sangeeta Katti) voice, singing ability, clear enunciation of Sanskrit words like Trikarana Shuddhi as well as devotional fevour in the audio of the song to be wonderful! The video part has a collage of pics and so does not show her singing the song.


kannada devotional song - sangeetha katti,, 7 min. 18 secs.


Simple but very deep spiritual wisdom from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: (slightly edited tweet text) "If you cannot pray for the total welfare of the community around you in whom God lives, how is it possible for you to worship an invisible God? The first (thing) you must do is look after the welfare of the living community around you.  #SriSathyaSai #GoodMorningWithSai"


Multi-faith prayers (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian) during formal induction of Rafale fighter jets into Indian Air Force. Tweet video is close to 10 minutes.

[Linked tweet: ]


On public post:, I wrote the following comments (slightly edited):

Very sorry to know about what your grandmother had to go through. Really great that she gave up wealth and property in Lahore to keep her Hindu faith, and escaped to India.

Good that she transmitted that horrific and tragic experience to you. Hindus (I am a Hindu) should know such history to guard against such incidents happening in India, now and in future.

From whatever I have personally seen of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the years that I provided free service in the Sai university (from Jan. 2003 till Bhagavan was taken to Super hospital in end March 2011) with designations of Honorary Staff, Visiting Faculty & Honorary Faculty in SSSIHL/SSSU Prasanthinilayam campus, Bhagavan would promote the glory of great Avatars like Rama & Krishna, great god (Mahadev) Lord Shiva, and of Hindu traditions and scripture in general.

While I don't want to comment directly on some comments you have shared of some person who is supposedly from SSSIHL, I do want to say that if any person is trying to use his/her SSSIHL (ex) student status to denigrate Hindu traditions, then he/she is doing a great disservice to SSSIHL and is doing something that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba would surely be strongly critical of.

I should also mention here that Bhagavan laid great emphasis on respect to all peaceful religions. So peaceful Islam is something that Bhagavan promoted with a masjid in Puttaparthi being constructed and I think even inaugurated by him.

So while Hindus should not forget the horrors of conversion done by the sword in past centuries by some Muslim groups/sects, as well as conversions by material enticement done by evangelical Christians, Hindus should also be very respectful of peaceful and law-abiding Muslims and Christians, and those of other religions too, in India

Let us remember Shirdi Sai Baba's teaching of Sabka Maalik Ek! Let us also remember that Shirdi Sai Baba was against his followers converting from one faith to another. He wanted his followers to be good persons within their own faith.


1947 riots were Hindu-Muslim riots, weren't they? Or are you referring to some other riots which forced your grandmother to leave wealth and property in Lahore and escape to India and thereby not abandon her Hindu faith?


Well, it was quite obvious that that violence and faith was in the Hindu-Muslim conflict context. And so my comment referred to that and also covered peaceful co-existence with peaceful followers of any religion so as to not mix that up with blind religious hatred towards followers of any particular religion.


Well, your post starts off with violence and faith in a very strong way. You may say that that was not the focus of your post but the words you have used in those initial sentences about violence and faith, draw attention, and are a significant part of your post.

I think it is difficult to generalize about what state the Hindu fold was a century ago, with respect to criticism of Hindu iconic figures by some Hindus and those who were born Hindus but chose to move away from Hinduism. The early part of the 20th century saw the rise of communism and it got established in the Soviet Union and later China (in the mid 20th century China became a communist country but Maz Zedong and his followers were into communism decades prior to that).

That led to strong movements of communism in India too, with Indian communists (most, or at least significant numbers of them, being Hindus prior to becoming communist atheists/agnostics) and related movements like rationalist movements (e.g. in Tamil Nadu with most of their leaders & followers having Hindu names indicating they were Hindus prior to becoming atheist/agnostic rationalists), attacking Hindu icons and Hindu traditions in a horrible way. Perhaps you are not aware of that history of early to mid 20th century in India.


Those who claim to be Hindus and attack Hindu icons and traditions, in my view, cannot be viewed as Hindus with faith. They perhaps are Hindus only in terms of following some Hindu traditions of their families for traditions' sake and for community support purposes, but they don't have faith in core tenets of Hindu religion.

Such people cannot be viewed as degenerate Hindus. In my considered view, they are not Hindus.


Having some doubts about some actions of some Hindu Avatars is a different matter. For example, Lord Rama asking Sita Devi to pass the Agni Pariksha can be a matter of some doubt to young Hindus of today's times. They need to read words of great Hindu teachers including that of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in this regard to get their doubts cleared. People with such doubts cannot be termed degenerate Hindus, IMHO.


Well, I am no longer a teacher. Even when I was a teacher (in software industry and in SSSIHL), I taught only about software stuff.

Yes, there are some who don't believe in Hindu tenets and still call themselves Hindus.

I don't want to get involved in particular comments made by some ex SSSIHL student. I am more involved with larger Hinduism and spirituality & religion world than SSSIHL world, which I quit in mid 2012.


I should also add that I now am a writer on social media (and also have a few self-published books) on spirituality & religion, and on life in general. But from mid 2012, I have NO SSSIHL connection at all!


Good to see Indian Defence Minister visit and pay obeisance at Main Cathedral of Russian armed forces.
I am very glad to see the revival of faith in Christianity in Russia after the fall of communism.
[Shared FB post: ]

Monday, September 14, 2020

Behaviour of a religious community should be the measure of their religious tolerance rather than nitpicking of intolerant parts of their scripture

Last updated on 15th Sept. 2020

Tolerance of, or even appreciation of, other religions' scripture in general, beliefs and worship practices, as demonstrated in their behaviour, IMHO, are the vital barometers to judge such tolerance of religious communities rather than nitpicking intolerant parts of their core scripture.

Some comments in a recent post of mine (on Facebook, led me to put up this post.

In my considered view, if one wants to find fault in core scripture of almost any major religion (including Hinduism), in today's context it will be quite easy to do so.

What matters are the belief and practices of religious groups. Now some sects (sub-groups) of a particular religion may strongly believe parts of their scripture that are intolerant of other religions. E.g. some people of a religion/sect may believe strongly that only followers of their religion/sect will be saved by God and that all people of all other religions/sects are doomed to burn in fire for eternity!

But all followers of that religion may not do so. These followers may have quietly rejected such intolerant of other religions' parts of their scripture and evolved to a more respectful of other religions viewpoint.

But how does one judge in today's times, whether a particular person or group of some religion is tolerant of other religions or intolerant of them? Well, I think one has to look at their behaviour. If in their behaviour, they show respect for other religions then one must take that into account and view them as people who are tolerant of other religions ***irrespective of what some parts of their core scripture may say that is intolerant of other religions/sects***.

Now I am a Hindu who is very reverential towards core Hindu scripture and beliefs in general. My Hindu religion of these early 21st century times has had the great benefit of enlightened spiritual and religious masters who have reformed Hinduism/Hindu practices to suit today's age. As somebody with a Hindu Brahmin background, it gives me great joy to see Dalit Hindu monks participate in big Hindu events like Kumbh Mela. Not too far back in the past, many Dalit Hindus were even denied entry into temples! Thank God for great Hindu reformers who changed all that with today's times having Dalit priests in Hindu temples.

In today's times, core Hindu scripture learning is no longer the privilege only of Brahmin caste men but is available to any person, even a non-Hindu to study, learn and practice. I think this change has happened only in the past few centuries. I am very happy with Hindu scripture being made available to all who want to study it, and not being limited to Hindu Brahmin caste men.

Key mantras like Gayatri mantra were not taught to even Brahmin women a few centuries ago - they were the sole preserve of Brahmin men! I thank God and all the great reformers of Hinduism in the past few centuries that powerful mantras like the Gayatri mantra are now accessible to all women, even non-Hindu women.

As a Hindu Brahmin caste background person, by the influence and grace of my parents and family in general, and great Hindu and other religions' masters and teachers, I am very respectful of people of other religions like Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism etc. who in their behaviour show goodness and tolerance of good people of other religions. I ***do not*** nitpick their core scripture to find out intolerant parts in it, and get into any judgement of them because of these parts of their scripture. Now if they profess those parts of that scripture - e.g. if they say that as I am not of their religion/sect, I am destined to burn in fire for eternity - then, of course, I would reject them and not be respectful towards them. But if they don't profess those parts of their scripture then I WILL NOT judge them as intolerant just because their scripture has these parts.

My own life in India has been greatly enriched by many people of other religions (non-Hindus), including many friends of mine. It has been my great good fortune to have enjoyed the great Mohammad Rafi's singing. Rafi was a devout Muslim and based in Mumbai/Bombay which is the city/metropolitan region where I was born, raised and educated and where I worked for a livelihood over most of the first four decades of my life. Yesudas is a great singer from Kerala who seems to be a devout Christian (going by his awesome Malayalam Christian devotional songs), and Kerala is the region where my parents were born and raised, and where their (and my) forefathers lived for a century or more (having migrated to Kerala from Tamil Nadu). I have also had great joy listening to Yesudas' songs in Hindi as well as a few Christian devotional songs in Malayalam (which I do not follow very well).

Today I came across the Muslim Mohammad Rafi and the Christian Yesudas singing this awesome Hindu devotional song live: (from Baiju Bawra film made in 1952) Oh Duniya Ke Rakhwaale | Mohammad Rafi | K.J. Yesudas | Hindi Song,, 12 min. 54 secs.

I am blessed to see these awesome contributions by Muslim and Christian singers to Hindu devotional songs and through that to Hinduism of our times.


15th Sept. 2020 Update giving Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's views on Islam and holy Koran

Given below are some of my comments (slightly edited) on Facebook post:, associated with this blog post: 

Here's my blog post about Muslim students showing Holy Koran book to Sathya Sai Baba: Wonderful pic of Sathya Sai with Muslim student showing Holy Book of Islam to him, Please visit post to see the pic.

My understanding of this was that Bhagavan was happy with the Muslim students having reverence for the Holy Koran. That does not mean that any verses in it that get interpreted as promoting violence against non-Muslims, was being encouraged by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba would surely have discouraged such violence against non-Muslims interpretation.

But Bhagavan would have surely encouraged interpretations of Holy Koran that promote peace, love, kindness, charity and righteousness towards all humanity (including towards non-Muslims).

Let me share words of a Muslim lady who taught at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning - Prof. Zeba Bashiruddin. From

"I have come not to disturb any faith but to reaffirm each one's belief, so that a Muslim may become a better Muslim ..." After reading these assuring words of Baba, who would like to proclaim that mankind is lost? The Covenant, for me, strikes a double cord. It reminds me of an ancient promise of the Gita and the Quran that God guides mankind from darkness to light. Also, it brings home the truth that in order to improve, one has to seek within one's self.

At Baba's Feet I have learnt many facts of my own faith. For instance, when the cobwebs of cliches and external impositions are removed, one realises that all search for the same meaning in life, all seek happiness that is unchanging. Only one has to change the focus of one's priorities. This change of focus happened to me several years ago with Baba's injunction: "You don't even know your own religion, how can you know Me?"

That has been the beginning of an inward journey. Baba has always assumed a presence that remains with me - the "I" in me. The meanings of several words and concepts have appeared in a new light in the process of growth; for example, surrender, ideal and the goal of life acquire a different dimension.

The term surrender is the literal meaning of the word 'Islam'. Dissolution of "otherness" from cosmic force is surrender. It signifies giving up the illusion that man is merely a physical body. Is this not what Baba has been repeatedly telling us? When the awareness is uprooted from the temporary and the transient values and planted in the soil of the eternal, the process of surrender is completed. In Baba's words it is ALLAH. Phonetically 'A' is Atma and 'L' is LAYA. Hence Allah is a state of awareness where "otherness" merges into Atma.

Surrender also means, according to Baba and the Sufis, we seek Allah without a desire for reward or fear of punishment. Baba has indicated how you become a devotee.........when you surrender yourself completely and are ready to carry out every command of the Lord." (Gita Discourse Page: 12) The devotee concretises this ideal and his life becomes a pattern for the community to follow. In Islam this ideal devotee of the Lord is presented in the character of Prophet Mohammed.

----end extracts from website ---

What has Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said about Islam? Let us read from Sathya Sai Vahini - :

From Chapter XXIII. Modes of Worship in the above book, :

Mohammedan worship (Mohammadan-upasana). “Acquire self-confidence and place all burdens on God; have implicit faith in the power of God every moment of living; recognize it at every step (Imaamdaaree khaldaamey ho, Pygambar mey bharosa)” —these are the rules for meaningful life. One has to evidence one’s rectitude in the court of the Lord, when one lays down one’s body. So, one has to follow the straight path laid down by the Lord until the very end. For this, the holy Koran is the guide; it has to be revered and observed down to the very letter. This is the spiritual instruction to be observed in this worship.

“Allaho Akbar; La Illah Ill Allah.” This sacred formula of Islam signifies that God is the supermost sovereign; Allah is the undisputed unexcelled ruler of creation. He alone is worthy of worship. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “there is nothing higher than Me.” The Koran formula says the same. The Mohammedan worship is a form of the same spiritual practice, based on the same truth.

--- end extracts from website ---

The above are words penned by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Himself!!! There will be no question I think, in any reasonable reader's mind that Bhagavan is offering a goodness and nobleness oriented interpretation of holy Koran.

Now some may choose to have different - more literal perhaps - interpretations of some verses of the Koran as encouraging violence towards non-Muslims. I am not getting into discussion of those interpretations.

But Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba offered a different interpretation focused on peace and goodness of the Koran without singling out any verses as not good as they encourage violence on non-Muslims. I think that is just the reality on the ground.

If some people want to have different interpretations of Holy Koran other than Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's interpretations - that's their prerogative. But what they should NOT DO is distort how Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (and Bhagavan Sri Shirdi Sai Baba) interpreted Koran and other Islamic teachings/scripture. If they do that, it is my considered view, that they are doing a great disservice to the messages (paigam) that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Bhagavan Sri Shirdi Sai Baba took form (came as Avatars) to deliver to mankind, promoting goodwill between people of different religions (and atheists too).

Attached pic below from post for convenience of readers.

This post covers a sensitive topic. Most people prefer to just avoid it. But I am happy that I have expressed my moderate Hindu view on it which is respectful of good Muslims (and good people of other non-Hindu religions like Christians) who mean no harm to Hindus.

BTW I taught the two Muslim students in above pic, during my stint as free service teacher in Sai university.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sad to see confusion created by Tamil Christian evangelist group about Hindu scripture as they try to distort it to suit Christian tenets

At the outset I would like to say that I respect the Christian faith and also love and respect Lord Jesus Christ as a divine figure.

I was debating whether I should put up this post or not. I mean, such topics are not pleasant topics to write about. I was trying to stifle the urge to post on it but the urge got the better of my stifling efforts. So here's the post.

A few days back, I was privately forwarded a video commenting about a "Christava Brahmana Seva Samithi" event. I was wondering how genuine the video was. Some searches on youtube got me the original video of this samithi. The event seems to have happened in 2009 and so over a decade back but the event video seems to have got shared on youtube in 2017.

I find it to be clear evidence of efforts made by some Tamil Christian evangelical groups to create confusion about core Hindu scripture like Vedas, Vedanta, Bhagavad Geeta etc. and paint it/interpret it in a twisted way in context of Christian tenets (belief). The ways to best safeguard against such misinterpretation is to ensure that more appropriate interpretation of core Hindu scripture is easily available (including free versions on Internet), and also call out such twisted interpretations.

The private video clip I was forwarded seems to have focused on some of Baskar Doss' words (in Tamil) from 1 min. 54 secs to around 3 min. 25 secs in this youtube video:, published in July 2017 but which video in its initial part shows a date of 2009 for the meeting it covers.

At around 9 min. 17 secs, the speaker (Baskar Doss) mentions Chandogya Upanishad and other Upanishads.

At around 19 min. 14 secs, another speaker (speaks in Tamil again) who seems to be the founder of the institution and is wearing saffron robe (sadhu), refers to a Swaminathan Iyer, IAS, who he had gone to meet to get some signature. He says that in his office, Swaminathan Iyer closed the door, and said, "Praise the Lord" and that he too is a Christian! And then the speaker says that he (Swaminathan Iyer) was secretive (hiding his belief in Christ). Then the speaker says that among Brahmins, 50% are Christians! [Ravi: I think that's an outrageous claim.]


In response to appreciative comments (some public and some private) by some correspondents about my recent post: Over 1000 downloads from July 2019 of my 12 page compilation on Chandogya Upanishad chapter 6 (Tat Tvam Asi chapter) key verses and commentary of great masters/scholars,, and in the context of above "Christava Brahmana Seva Samithi", I would like to add the following:

Thanks for sharing in the good news. As a Hindu Sama Veda Brahmin lineage background person, I consider this 12 page compilation document as one of my key though still very small contributions (even thousands of downloads over a few years is small) to improved or clearer understanding of core Advaita Vedanta belief as expounded by Hindu scripture (Chandogya Upanishad/Vedanta) and great spiritual masters/scholars including my beloved and revered Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Due to it finding a prominent place in search engines for the search term: "Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6", it is currently (and hopefully will stay that way at least for a few years in future) easily found by genuine seekers of such matters using the Internet.

Especially in the context of some Tamil Christian evangelists (e.g. above "Christava Brahmana Seva Samithi" event) trying to wean away some Hindus using "Brahmin" type Christian propaganda, I am happy to have made this small contribution that will help genuine Hindu seekers of such matters, to be able to stay away from intellectual/philosophical traps laid by such Christian evangelists.

These Tamil Christian evangelists seem to be studying Hindu scripture including Upanishads and Hindu practices, so that they could introduce Jesus Christ to Hindus in India through that background (lens). The speaker in above mentioned video, says that his/their objective is to make all of India Christian!

As a Hindu writer on spirituality & religion, my concern is how such Christian evangelists will provide distorted interpretation of Hindu scripture including Upanishads, as a way to wean Hindus they target, away from Hindu tenets (beliefs) and towards this Tamil Christian group's Christian tenets.

Note that I don't have objections to people spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ and the love of Jesus Christ. I am fine if some Hindu gets strongly attracted to these teachings and love of Jesus Christ, and converts to Christianity. That is a key freedom of religion right enshrined in the constitution of India and as a resident and citizen of India, I support it fully.

But if Christian evangelists distort Hindu scripture and practices as a way to brainwash Hindus that Hindu scripture and practices are in line with their Christian religion (scripture and practices), then that is something I do not like. It creates confusion. Belief in avatars like Rama and Krishna, belief in reincarnation and Karma, Vedanta Mahavakyas like Tat Tvam Asi etc., are vital Hindu tenets. I am quite sure that Christianity as propagated by such Tamil Christian evangelists does not believe in reincarnation, does not believe in Tat Tvam Asi (as the standard Christian belief is that God is different from them but that they are made in the image of God), and does not believe in Hindu Avatars like Rama and Krishna (Moses and Jesus are the big prophetic and son of God (Jesus) figures in Christianity).

I have great respect for the Christian faith and I also love and revere Lord Jesus Christ as a divine figure. I think Christian evangelists should preach proper Christianity and not a distorted version of Hindu scripture and Hindu practices which fits in with Christian tenets, as a way to attract Hindus to convert to Christianity!

As a writer on spirituality & religion - primarily Hindu religion, I am happy to have contributed my little bit of writings on Hindu Vedanta as well as other Hindu scripture and Hindu practices (Bhakti, Jnana and Karma marga practices) which may help those Hindus who are confused by such Christian "Brahmin" evangelists about Hinduism, and search for information on the Internet, with some probability that some of those searches land up on my social media posts/pages on these matters.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Over 1000 downloads from July 2019 of my 12 page compilation on Chandogya Upanishad chapter 6 (Tat Tvam Asi chapter) key verses and commentary of great masters/scholars

Last updated on 11th Sept. 2020

The 12 page pdf file link is: . The title I have given to the document is "Chandogya Upanishad – Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu) – Some Shlokas".

This link was first provided publicly, if I recall correctly, in this 8th March 2015 blog post of mine: Some Shlokas from Chandogya Upanishad VI chapter including Tat tvam asi (You are That) Mahavakya, and comments on it, .

A small extract from above post giving the background of this 12 page pdf document:

In June 2010 I had prepared a document of 12 pages on some largely abstract theology verses (shlokas) from a famous Hindu scripture, Chandogya Upanishad, VI chapter including Tat tvam asi (You are That) Mahavakya (Great Saying),, and comments on/interpretation of it by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Prof. Max Muller, and a few others. I also added some notes of mine to it.

--- end extract ---

From July 2019 to December 2019, this file was downloaded 500 times. See pic below.

[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.]

From Jan 2020 to 9th Sept. 2020, this file was downloaded 665 times. See pic below.

So from July 2019 to 9th Sept. 2020, this file has been downloaded 1165 times.

Download numbers for this file from March 2015 to June 2019 are not known as such file download information started being provided to WordPress bloggers only from July 2019 onwards.

So actual download numbers for this file from March 2015 may be much more than 1165!

How did people get to know of this file to download it thousand plus times over past year and two months?

I think the key there seems to be that Google Search for the term:

Chandogya upanishad chapter 6

provides this pdf document link as one of the top ten results (3rd result when I checked just now).

It is the 6th result in bing search, 5th in yahoo search and 8th in duckduckgo search when I checked just now.

I am so happy that this small compilation that I made in June 2010 (over a decade back) of great words of wisdom in Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6, along with commentary of great spiritual masters or scholars of Hindu scripture, with a few comments from me, here and there, seems to have become a useful compilation for some folks on the Internet as indicated by the over thousand, if not thousands of, downloads, so far.


Sai devotee elder Prof. V. Jayaprakash wrote (and was OK with public sharing; slightly edited):

Nice to know that so many downloads have been done. It shows the importance of the topic and the validity of the contents. I feel that this is a great motivation to continue your spiritual writing.

Obviously, no writing can be done unless prior research is done. That way I am extremely happy that your quest for spirituality is insatiable. Please continue. May Sai bless you with health and energy to continue the service.


I responded: Once again thank you so much for your encouragement sir. Yes, I agree that the number of downloads indicate the importance of the topic and the validity of the contents.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Better Google Knowledge Panel for my name - Ravi S. Iyer - with more and apt info. than earlier

Last updated on 9th Sept. 2020

Today (8th Sept. 2020) evening I noted that the Google Knowledge Panel info. associated with my name - Ravi S. Iyer - has improved by providing better info. than earlier Knowledge Panel.

The Google Knowledge Panel link:

[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.]

Google Searching for Ravi S. Iyer (or ravi s iyer) leads to a results window with a message & link on right hand side of window "See results about Ravi S. Iyer Books: Indian Computer Science & Information Technology..."

Clicking on the Ravi S. Iyer link on right hand side shows the knowledge panel on right hand side in a new Google search results window.

I like this Google Knowledge Panel more than what it was earlier in June 2020 where the text description against my name said only Author (shown here: ). The information seems to be sourced from Notion Press author page where I have taken pains to provide an apt description.


A Sai devotee elder and retired IIT Professor V. Jayaprakash wrote in response (and was OK with sharing publicly; slightly edited):

"I am extremely happy on you appearing on the Google knowledge panel. May Sai help you with greater recognition".

I responded: Sairam sir! So nice of you to provide such encouraging words. Thank you so much.


Some readers may want to read the section titled:"Am I falling into an ego trap because I put up a post on Google small 'knowledge panel' associated with my name?" in the post that I put up about this Google knowledge panel stuff in May 2020,

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in August 2020

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

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


On, I made the following comments:

Very interesting account. Thanks for sharing. While I have some familiarity with Swami Sivananda's work (Divine Life Society), I was not aware about work of his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda. He has a wiki page: In India at least, I think Swami Chinmayananda was the well known disciple of Swami Sivananda, who started his own ashram.

Astonishing that a spirit tried to hijack Swami Vishnudevananda's ashram in Canada, and his following, claiming to be Swami Sivananda's spirit!


In response to a comment on that post ( ), I wrote:

The first time I saw the list of people claiming to be Jesus on wikipedia,, I was absolutely stunned. This was after I came to know of Muddenahalli group claiming to have Swami spirit.

Now I am wiser and realize that these things typically happen when a great master gives up his body. The ensuing leadership and power vacuum attracts all kinds of weird spirits and forces. This leadership and power vacuum also makes quite a few power-monger type of devotees who earlier were restrained simply by fear of what the master would do to them if they got into power-mongering in a big way, suddenly let their imagination go wild, as now that fear is gone.

Oh how many weird things people said and did in the vital period of around a year after Swami Mahasamadhi (April 2011), ***in the NAME of Swami***! I had the misfortune to witness that in quite a few people who had behaved with quite some restraint before Mahasamadhi.

A great learning for me from that experience is that human minds are strange things which can behave in very unusual ways in unusual situations! Power without accountability which is typically the norm in spiritual movements, can be a terrible thing for people who have a tendency to abuse and dominate weaker people. Such people get trapped into a spiritual megalomania kind of thing, and yes-men around them, many of whom stand to gain materially by promoting these leader(s), reinforce the leader's belief that he/she is specially endowed and chosen by God or by their late spiritual master to be the new spiritual leader of the flock.


PM Narendra Modi attends Bhoomi Pujan ceremony of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya | Ram Temple [In Hindi],, around 3 hrs 30 mins, streamed live by Doordarshan Live on 5th Aug. 2020

At around 59 mins into video, PM Modi enters Hanumangarhi to worship Lord Hanuman before proceeding to Ramjanmabhoomi.

The bhoomi pujan (foundation laying/worship) function of Ram Mandir (temple) in Ayodhya follows. The priests for the function are said to be from Kashi (Varanasi) and Ayodhya itself. PM Modi's entry into the Ram Janmabhoomi temple having Lord Ram's idol (Ram Lalla) is around 1 hr. 10 mins.

PM Modi does shashtang namaskar of Ram Lalla.

Around 1 hr. 21 mins, PM Modi enters the area of the Bhoomi Pujan. The puja gets over around 2 hr. 5 mins.

It is followed by speeches of few people including PM Modi.


Good to see this social distancing darshan in Kadiri Lakshminarasimham temple. Kadiri is in Andhra Pradesh and quite near to Puttaparthi.

[Telugu] ఖాద్రీశుడికి శ్రావణమాస పూజలు | Kadiri Temple,, 1 min. 10 secs, published on 8th Aug. 2020 by RTV News.


Wonderful to see this visit of New Zealand PM to Hindu temple in Auckland, NZ

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Radha Krishna Hindu Temple in Auckland,, 2 min. 53 secs, published on 7th Aug. 2020.


A British correspondent suggested that I read a book titled "The Ending of Time" - thirteen dialogues by J. Krishnamurti and David Bohm. I found some youtube videos on it and also on some other topics. I saw this video over the past couple of days or so (in parts). JK gets into the bigger stuff (achieving fundamental/deep security etc.) towards the end.

The conversations are in 1982 and so we see a young Dr. Rupert Sheldrake,, who now seems to be quite a noted figure in parapsychology.

 J. Krishnamurti - Ojai 1982 - Discussion with Scientists 1 - Roots of psychological disorder,, around an hour, published by 

J. Krishnamurti - Official Channel.


Great to see this post from U.S. Embassy, India! [On Janmashami, FB post: with pic. Text is: "श्रीकृष्ण जन्माष्टमी की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं। #Janmashtami wishes from all of us at the U.S. Embassy New Delhi."]


The fundamental strength of Bharat is that we are a land of seekers – seekers of truth and liberation. This spiritual thread is what keeps us together as a Nation. #SadhguruQuotes #IndependenceDay

Ravi: Interesting view!


Wonderful 2012 article with 2013 update including video link, where a lady devotee has beautifully narrated her precious moments with Bhagavan.

[Shared FB post: ]


Purple flowers amid lush greenery in fields/area behind Swami parents' samadhi (maintained by SSSCT, I believe).

I needed a screensaver for my Samsung mobile as I did not want to have the automatic pics Samsung chooses from its gallery. This happened as part of a mobile software update that I recently did. Some of these pics from Samsung are super but some are film star pics which was not something that I wanted to see when unlocking (to be more precise, starting the unlock process on) the mobile phone.

So I clicked this pic a few minutes ago from my flat sit-out/balcony and made it my lock screen.

Thought some others may like to see the nature pic and so am sharing it here.

[FB post with pic: ]


Given below are some comments of mine on above post:

Yes. I am told that there is some other history too related to a very dedicated servitor of Bhagavan - Radhakrishna.


Felt it appropriate to add here that over the past close to 15 years that I have been living in this flat, I have seen that the main work of tending to plants and trees, and to the soil, in these fields are done by what seem to be local workers (paid staff, I guess) with periodic stints from Seva Dal (free service, I presume). Regarding tending to the soil, I have seen that usually Seva Dal groups who would surely be administered by some regular paid staff, completely clean the field (uprooting small plants & crops), and then plant new seeds in the soil.


My Samsung M21 phone with the screensaver - I took the pic with my old phone - low-cost LYF from Jio. The white text on screen and the notification icons (pic has a file upload notification) are a little hard to read/see due to background pic colours. But once one knows where to look, one can spot the notifications. The M21 phone is encased in a Spigen cover and so the edges of the phone one sees are the Spigen cover edges. [Comment has pic: ]


Screenshot taken of the screen saver (lock screen) on Samsung M21 phone. [Comment has pic: ]


The great Lata Mangeshkar singing Ganapati arati (in Marathi). I have heard this arati, sung by devotees, as well as audio recorded versions like this Lata Mangeshkar recorded version, countless times in my Mumbai and Dombivli life. Ganapati festival in Mumbai and Dombivli, which I think would be similar in most parts, if not all, of Maharashtra means you will hear this arati, no matter where you are 🙂.

So this arati is just a part of my life, even though I moved out of Maharashtra in end 2002. Great to hear, yet one more time, Lata singing it in this video. The audio of this Lata arati rendition would be played loudly from loudspeakers in many places during Ganapati festival. Perhaps it is the same today.

I don't recall seeing this video earlier and so it was great to see the devotion of Lata Mangeshkar as she conducted the arati.

Ganpati Aarti - Sukhkarta Dukhharta - Lata Mangeshkar - Devotional Songs - Marathi Songs,, 3 min. 49 secs., published in  2013, over 25 million views.

Holy and happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all!


‘Scapegoat’: Court’s biting remarks on FIRs against Tablighi Jamaat members ; The HC also held that foreigners having valid visa to enter India cannot be prevented from visiting masjids, if they go there to observe religious practices or to offer only namaz., 22nd Aug. 2020

Ravi: My view is that any foreign Muslim visiting India must be accorded respect and rights to practise his Muslim (sect's) religion as long as that practice does not violate any laws of India, and does not involve spread of hatred towards other peaceful religious groups/sects in India.

Hindus, Muslims, Christians and others in India, whether Indian citizens or foreigners, should fight together against this invisible-to-naked-eye novel coronavirus enemy, and defeat it. May God give us all the strength and courage to fight and win this battle.

Ishwar Maalik! Allah Maalik! Yesu Maalik! Sabka Maalik Ek!

[Ishwar is the Lord! Allah is the Lord! Yesu (Jesus) is the Lord! The Lord of all is one!]


I saw this BBC 2019 video today. Even if the video is a year old it is utterly fascinating to see native Ghanaian Africans (blacks - I use the term without any pejorative intent - I am brown (skinned) and am OK if people say I am brown) celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with such devotional fervour. May God continue to shower His Grace on African Hindus.

As a Sathya Sai devotee (with more than my fair share of human flaws), I was very happy to see what seems to be a pic of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba along with other well known Hindu spiritual masters, put up in a worship centre that was filmed as part of this video. It is at around 54 seconds into the video. I took a screenshot of it and will share it as a comment on this post (I don't see an option to share it on this post itself).

[FB post with shared video post: ]


My comments on above FB post:

Sathya Sai pic along with other well known Hindu spiritual masters in worship centre filmed in this BBC News video. [Comment pic link: ]

In response to a comment "even a Sai sister was there during making of the film", I wrote (slightly edited): "Wonderful to know that! --Name-snipped--"


Wonderful to see Salman Khan, his mother (step-mother I think, to be more precise) Helen (I have seen more of Helen in movies than Salman Khan as I am from an oldie generation), and others do Ganesh arati.

Mumbai has a lot of good attitude in the context of respect for all faiths. Note that Shirdi is quite close to Mumbai and Shirdi Sai Baba who would say Sabka Maalik Ek (God of all faiths is one) and Allah Maalik (Allah is the Lord/Master) has a massive following in Mumbai. In my Mumbai days, it was difficult to spend a regular day going to work and back, without seeing a pic of Shirdi Sai Baba somewhere (in the train or in the auto or somebody wearing something with Baba's pic or crossing a Shirdi Sai Baba temple).

The Instagram video is 1 min. 13 secs long.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in July 2020

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

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


Wonderful to see this! Great service to man(kind) by young adults of Ghana Sathya Sai orgn.! Jai Sai Ram!

[Post has pics. Post link: ]


The basic identity of Bharat or India is that it is a land of faith in God. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan who is being treated for COVID-19 in a hospital in Mumbai (with reportedly mild symptoms), put out a post on Instagram saying that he had surrendered to God with a pic of what I think is Lord Vitthala and his consort Rakhumayi. I think this is so much in line with the spirit of Bharatiyas/Indians. The very foundation of life of most Bharaitayas/Indians is faith in God. In times of crisis, we simply turn to God, do our bit and surrender to God's Will.

My prayers to God for healing of Superstar Amitabh Bachchan whose films (including songs) from the late 70s to early 90s, were just a part of my Mumbai  & Dombivli life. I mean, he enacted roles that most Mumbai folks and I think Hindi film watching folks all over India, could relate to, and at least sometimes, took inspiration from.

I should also mention to readers that I have visited Nanavati hospital in Vile Parle, Mumbai a few times during my Mumbai/Dombivli years (1960s to early 2000s).

Amitabh Bachchan ‘surrenders’ himself to God as he gets treated for Covid-19 at Nanavati hospital,, 16th July 2020.


Very interesting words of Sathya Sai on Karma for humans, and Avatars not being bound by Karma, from 1983 Guru Purnima discourse

Embodiments of Divine Love! You must be clear about the distinction between birth in general and the Advent of the Avathaar (Divine Incarnation). Karma (the cumulative consequence of deeds and thoughts) is the cause of ordinary birth. Birth in the human body is the reward for the merit acquired by worthy Karma (past deeds). What is the Karma that has caused the Advent? That too must have some Karma as the antecedent, it may be said. Well! In your case you earn the type of life which the good and bad karmas you have done entitle you to have. Unless you go through the mass of consequence, you cannot change the vehicle or instrument. For, it is a role you have been assigned in the Cosmic Drama on the world stage. The role is part of a play for which it is allotted. You may appear in the first scene but you cannot change your make-up.

But, God is not bound or affected by Karma. He takes on a role, as a consequence not of any Karma, but to reward good karma and impose retribution for bad karma. God incarnated as Narasimha as a consequence of the bad deeds of Hiranyakashipu, and the good deeds of Prahlaadha. The truth is, the body that the Avathaar wears is not a karma deha, designed according to the nature of the individual's deeds in past lives. God, as Avathaar, can mould or change the body in any way He wills. He can develop it or discard it, as and when He wills. No other power or person can affect it. Everything happens as He desires, as He decides. To look upon the Avathaar as the body it has assumed is not correct. The Guru has, as his duty, to teach mankind this great Truth of the Paramaathma and the Aathma and of the Glory and Compassion of God.

Guru Puurnima discourse, Puurnachandra Auditorium,

Prashaanthi Nilayam, 24 July 1983


[I thank 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.]


Monday, August 24, 2020

March 2019 NZ mosque mass shooter-killer white supremacist shows no remorse for his mass murder acts

Last updated on 6th Sept. 2020

Warning: Readers who prefer not to read about horrendous violence may please skip reading this post.

New Zealand Mosque Gunman "Intended To Kill As Many People As He Could",, 24th Aug. 2020

The article states that the maniacal white supremacist killer "further stated the attacks were motivated by his ideological beliefs and he intended to instil fear into those he described as 'invaders' including the Muslim population or more generally non-European immigrants."

I recall this horrendous event vividly as I forced myself around that time (15th March 2019, to view the horrific videos (recording of his live stream videos, and other media report videos) of the killings. I knew that I would get emotionally disturbed by watching the maniacal mass murderer white supremacist's live stream (recorded) videos. But as I write about spirituality and religion on social media (public posts on Facebook and blog), I wanted my views to be based on ground reality.

As expected, I was deeply disturbed by the killer's live-stream  (recorded) videos. It was just horrific. But it showed me the reality of human society, and gave me a clearer idea of what would have happened in past centuries as one kingdom/country/group of kingdoms/countries used superior military power to brutally dominate less militarily powerful people.

The Muslims in the mosque were peacefully worshiping. New Zealand's Prime Minister did a fantastic job by fully putting her support behind the peaceful Muslim worshipers and unequivocally condemning the attack.

But even over a year after his horrendous mass murder, this maniacal white supremacist killer has ***no remorse***.

Forcing myself to watch this killer's horrific actions reinforced my belief that horrific level of evil exists in the world. And for society to exist with some level of peace and harmony, such evil has to be guarded against and defeated whenever it raises its horrible ugly face.

As a social media writer on spirituality and religion, I have to say that I think this man deserves to be executed for his horrific evil crimes against humanity. But I think New Zealand may not be having the death penalty and so this evil monster will probably be in prison for the rest of his life.


"Inhuman" New Zealand Mosque Shooter Sentenced To Life Without Parole,, 27th Aug. 2020

Few extract(s) from the article:

New Zealand mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday for the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers, with a judge calling him "wicked" and "inhuman".

Judge Cameron Mander said that behind Tarrant's "warped" ideology was a "base hatred" that led him to attack defenceless men, women and children last year in New Zealand's worst terror attack.

"It is incumbent on the court to respond in a way that decisively rejects such vicious malevolence," Mander said as he announced a sentence unprecedented in New Zealand legal history. 


Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said the atrocity was "without comparison in New Zealand's criminal history".

"The offending was motivated by an entrenched racist and xenophobic ideology... in my submission, the offender is clearly New Zealand's worst murderer," he said.

Zarifeh said life behind bars was "the only proper sentencing option" for Tarrant.

"No minimum period is sufficiently long to satisfy sentencing objectives given the gravity of the offending and the devastating loss of life and injury," he said.

--- end extracts ---

Ravi: It is very heartening to see New Zealand justice system, in particular the lead prosecutor Mark Zarifeh and Judge Cameron Mander, deliver justice to this maniacal white supremacist mass murderer. and to the victims/kin of victims. Congratulations to New Zealand justice system for this deliverance of justice.

It is in the past few years as I started writing on social media on such issues (horrific crimes) that I got a far better understanding and appreciation of the role prosecutors and judges play in upholding law and order in society and thereby making society a good environment in which to live.

It is when people do bad things and get away with it that people in society lose faith in law and order. So criminals and the victims/kin of victims being delivered justice is vital for people to have faith in law and order. And for that, besides the police on the streets who come into play in the period immediately after the crime, prosecutors and judges play a vital role in ensuring justice is delivered.

My grandfather (mother's father) was a magistrate in Kerala. I do not know much about the cases he heard and judgements he delivered, as I was very young when he passed away and so I have had very limited interactions with him, especially on his role as a magistrate. But I feel good now that my grandfather also was a judge delivering justice. And that differentiating between right and wrong and choosing right over wrong or trying very hard to do so, was something that my judge grandfather handed down to his children (including my mother) which seeped down to the grandchildren as well.


Monday, July 13, 2020

Happy to know that Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram will now be managed by Travancore (ex) royal family

Padmanabha Swamy Temple to be managed by ex-royal family, rules Supreme Court,, 13th July 2020.

For more about Padmanabhaswamy temple, please visit:

Ravi: I don't know about the history of this matter and the details. But I am very interested in this matter as my great-grandfather Thuravoor Narayana Sastrigal was generously patronized by then royals of this same Travancore royal family. He was even given a house close to Padmanabhaswamy temple by the then king, for his services as a Sanskrit scholar and teacher to the Travancore kingdom then.

[The wiki introduction extract given below says the kingdom was from 870 to 1949, however a label on the top-right of the same wiki page states, "Kingdom of Travancore" "1729–1949". I think the latter period (1729 to 1949) may be more valid in terms of an established and noted kingdom.]
From, "The Kingdom of Travancore (/ˈtrævənkɔːr/) (Thiruvithamkoor) was an Indian kingdom from c. 870 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruvananthapuram. At its zenith, the kingdom covered most of modern-day central and southern Kerala with the Thachudaya Kaimal's enclave of Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam temple in the neighbouring Kingdom of Cochin,[1] as well as the district of Kanyakumari, now in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
King Marthanda Varma inherited the small feudal state of Venad in 1723 and built it into Travancore, one of the most powerful kingdoms in southern India."

Wiki Refs:  1. British Archives
--- end wiki extract ---

It was a kingdom which pledged loyalty to the British empire from 1790s or so till 1947 when India became independent, but it seems to have been independent at least in matters related to religion, and so it was essentially a Hindu kingdom for few centuries right up to 1947 when India moved towards becoming a secular republic (India became a republic in 1950). This Padmanabhaswamy temple has been the main temple for the Travancore royal family from 1750.

The article reports that in January 2011 the Kerala High Court had ruled that the state government should take over the control of Padmanabhaswamy temple (in Thiruvananthapuram/Trivandrum) from the Travancore (after around 1950 ex) royal family. On 13th July 2020, the Supreme Court overturned the Kerala High Court verdict and seems to have given control of the temple back to the trust headed by the Travancore (ex) royal family.

The article states that Princess Gowri Lakshmibai of the Travancore (ex)royal family said in response to the verdict, "Great God’s will prevailed. Will say more about it after going through the whole verdict".

Due to the patronage given to my ancestors by the Travancore royal family, I am naturally inclined to support them in this matter, as against the Kerala government which is a secular body and will not really have the ability to manage Hindu religious institutions. [Note that on my mother's side the patronage was through my mother's grandfather and on my father's side we were nurtured by Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam temple in Thrissur district which is my family's Kula Devata (family deity), and as the wiki extract above shows, was under the same kingdom of Travancore. So Travancore royal family have been patrons of ancestors on both my parents' side!

On the face of it, I think this is a very happy development for Padmanabhaswamy temple, where, for sure, my (late) mother as a young girl and her younger sister (still alive and with whom I was fortunate to have a video call a few days ago where we could see each other) would have gone many times for darshan of Lord Padmanabhaswamy as the house the family was living in then was, as mentioned earlier, close to the temple and given to their grandfather by the then Travancore king. My mother was very devoted to God and it is her deep devotion to God that saw her through some financially very challenging times in our family.

But I must also say that the Padmanabhaswamy temple trust headed by the Travancore royal family must be transparent in financial matters and any proven financial wrongdoing must result in harsh consequences for associated wrongdoers, and, in general, the trust must enjoy the support and faith of the Padmanabhaswamy devotee community. If these things are not achieved by the trust then changes should be made to the trust body including removal of old trustees and induction of new trustees, so that the trust regains the support and faith of the devotee community and has good financial integrity and transparency.

I pray to Lord Padmanabhaswamy that Travancore royal family trust is able to get proper control of the temple as directed by Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, and is able to manage the temple well, promoting Sathya and Dharma (truth and ethical life), and devotion to Lord Padmanabhaswamy among the devotees and other residents of the area and beyond.

[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.]

Sunday, June 28, 2020

What is the truth of existence, and the whole truth?; Belief in divine supernatural power

Last updated on 20th July 2020
These are some thoughts of mine.

What is the truth of existence, and the whole truth?

Yes, feeling the unchanging awareness/consciousness in one, which is ever peaceful, and which one intuitively realizes is our real identity which one ***feels*** will persist even after death of the body, is a great truth, which has been talked about by masters like Ramana Maharishi (of the 20th century and so somebody who is not that far back in time) and many, many others. I think this is what many refer to as self-realization (realizing that our truth is not the changing body & mind which will perish one day but that our truth is the unchanging, ever peaceful awareness/consciousness in us).

But is that the whole truth? Is there more to the reality of human existence?

For me as a Hindu, this is where the core messages of Hindu scripture become important guiding lights. Karma, re-incarnation, Avatars and power of prayer to, sometimes at least, result in divine/miraculous intervention to help the person who prayed, are core messages of Hindu scripture.

But, for vast numbers of people including me, they have to be taken on faith - i.e. one has to believe in them. Most people including me do not have the divine powers of seeing the past beyond their current birth and seeing/identifying the cause-effect of Karma playing out. I have had the great good fortune of direct experience of supernatural power of an Avatar - Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. And I have personally experienced how Bhagavan, in physical form, has responded to fervent prayers I made to him. So for me today, I don't have to go only by belief in power of prayer and in supernatural power of an Avatar. But in early 1990s when I first came to know of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (as a baby I had his darshan when he had come to Mumbai in 1960s but I don't recall that), I had to go by belief without experience. It is after years of belief in him and prayer to him, that I eventually got direct experience of his (physical form Sathya Sai Baba's) divine/miraculous powers, thereby making it belief & experience when it comes to power of prayer and Avatar's divine/miraculous powers.

But I still do not have any ability to see/identify how cause-effect of Karma plays out. I can conjecture, but that's different from knowing. Neither do I have any ability to see my past births and so have clear experience of re-incarnation. So these two aspects continue to be belief without experience, for me.


Now let me talk about religion. It has been the reality of history that religion has been used by religious organizations for worldly dominance and material gain. That is a sad aspect of the history of religion. I think this applies to most religions including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism etc.

But is religion all bad? I don't think that the major religions I have mentioned above are all bad. They have a lot of good as well.

In the context of our early 21st century times, I think that some who have taken the path of self-enquiry and have achieved self-realization (or some level of self-realization), without belief in divine deity/formless divine power and without prayer to a deity, are in a happy position now where they do not need belief in the divine (supernatural power) and do not need to pray to a deity. I congratulate such persons whom I refer to as (no-belief) self-enquiry adepts, on their spiritual achievements.

Note that even among self-enquiry adepts, there would be many who also believe in divine (miraculous/supernatural) power and pray to a deity. In this post, I have focused on those self-enquiry adepts who do not believe in such divine (miraculous/supernatural) power and do not pray to a deity.

But how about most of the large numbers (billions) of people of the world? Would they be in a happy position like the above self-enquiry adepts are in now? In all probability, most of them are so caught up in dealing with the daily struggles of life that they are not in a position to take the path that the self-enquiry adepts took, and enjoy the spiritual achievements that they achieved. Note that by path I do not mean a specific formal/informal spiritual process which the self-enquiry adept took, but I mean the general way in which the self-enquiry adept consciously/unconsciously proceeded or happened to proceed in his/her self-enquiry spiritual journey.

I think the core messages of established religions (Hinduism, Christianity, Islam ...) of power of prayer to result in divine intervention to help those who pray earnestly, in some way, and ***belief*** in ***miraculous*** powers of the divine (nameless, formless) as well as divine figures (deities) in human form like Jesus Christ or Krishna or Sai Baba which are documented in scripture/books, give hope, strength and courage to vast numbers of people.

Let us look at the number of such religious believers today in the world. The wiki page, "List of religious populations", includes irreligious people as well, and claims to provide 2020 figures. From its total of 7.79 billion people, "Secular[a]/Nonreligious[b]/Agnostic/Atheist" are 1.1 billion. So the other 6.69 billion people seem to be religious believers! Of this, I think one can presume quite safely that the majority will be believers in divine power that can respond (has the power to respond) to earnest prayer and help the person who made that earnest prayer. Let's say the figure of such believers in divine power that responds to earnest prayer, at least at times and in some manner which may not exactly match what the prayer requested, is around 5 billion now in 2020.

5 billion is a huuuuuge number!

Let us also get some idea of the proportion of self-enquiry adepts who don't believe in divine supernatural power (e.g. Lord Jesus Christ walking on water or miraculously healing people Or the many miracles associated with Lord Krishna), and don't need to for their spiritual path, to religious believers for whom belief in supernatural power which responds to earnest prayer, at least at times, is a vital part of their belief. For that, we need to guess the number of such no-belief self-enquiry adepts worldwide today (excluding self-enquiry adepts who also believe in divine supernatural power that responds (at times) to prayer). I think 50,000 may be a decent ballpark figure. Or should it be 500,000? Note that I am referring to no-belief self-enquiry adepts and not just aspirants or sadhakas who have yet to reach stage of an adept. I think 50,000 may be a fair figure.

50,000 such adepts as against 5 billion (5,000,000,000) religious believers! That makes it a proportion of 1 to 100,000. Even if we presume the number of such adepts is 500,000, we get a proportion of 1 to 10,000.

Now each person is free to go by his/her spiritual path. So even if a no-belief self-enquiry adept is a minority of one in one hundred thousand when it comes to religious believers, the no-belief self-enquiry adept has the full right to go by/practise his/her spiritual path.

But we are all in it together! One world shared by so many, and with so many interdependencies! The self-enquiry adept may be dependent on religious believer farmers who produce the food that sustains the body of such a self-enquiry adept. And so, getting a sense of proportion in terms of people numbers, I think helps in getting a better broader picture.

I should also mention that I think that belief in divine power that responds to earnest prayer, at least at times and in some manner, plays a significant role in giving succour and joy to some societies in the world (e.g. India which has significant number of followers of almost all, if not all, major religions of the world).

About miraculous incidents

Sathya Sai Baba was reported to lose body consciousness quite often in his younger days when his body had to be caught by close servitors to prevent a body fall resulting in injury to the body. He would come back to the body some time later and, on occasion relate what he did while being "outside the body".

One of the stated out-of-body visits by Sathya Sai Baba was when Ramana Maharshi gave up his physical body. Here is a post about it (I don't know how accurate the description is but I would not be surprised if it is largely accurate): .

The (claimed) virginity of Mother Mary and (claimed) resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ are two important beliefs as taught by many Christian churches. I think whether they are true or not does not matter so much, as in the belief that Lord Jesus Christ had miraculous powers which is mentioned in the canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

It is belief in divine power and grace that encourages followers of Christian faith to pray to Lord Jesus Christ for peace & joy, or for solutions to the many problems they face in their daily lives. That prayer gives them hope, strength and courage to lead their daily lives even if they have a lot of challenges. Take that belief away, and, among those who face great challenges in their daily lives, you may have hopeless people who are scared about what life holds for them, and turn towards escapist stuff like liquor (in excess), drugs (very unfortunately, many youngsters who lose hope for the future, fall prey to drugs), or indulge in some other crazy stuff which (eventually) makes their lives miserable.

The core/pure messages of religions are about divine figures who promote good community life, whether it is based on Jesus Christ, Veda scripture and Rama, Krishna and other Avatars (of Hinduism), Buddha, Mahavira (Jain figure) etc.

BTW I don't think Jesus Christ said that people who do not believe in him will go to eternal hell. That seems to have been introduced by religious bosses who came later on and wanted to make Christianity the dominant religion. Note that religion and kingdom/empire have been closely related for most of history of humanity, whether it is Asia or Europe (don't know enough about ancient history of other continents to comment; USA is a very new country - I don't know enough about ancient history of native Americans (Red Indians) of USA).

In this early 21st century, at least some people are able to distinguish between the core/pure messages of religions and the domination/control part. In general, I support the core/pure messages part and reject the domination/control part of religions.

One of the great learnings I had from my stay in Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi in the divine presence of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's physical form (Oct. 2002 to April 2011), was Baba's preaching that we are all one. And then he would say, don't desire only your spiritual progress and related peace & joy, desire that the whole world progress spiritually and experience related peace & joy. He ***instructed*** devotees to include in their regular prayers - Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu (Sanskrit words translated to English): May all the worlds be happy! [The mantra has to be chanted 3 times followed by Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi, which is Om Peace Peace Peace.]

The Rig Veda (oldest Veda; the other Vedas - Yajur, Sama & Atharva came after it; btw I am a Sama Veda Brahmin by family lineage) says, "Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha (translation: for the salvation of our individual self and for the well-being of all on earth)", .

Prior to coming under the greatly beneficial influence of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings in early 1990s, I was focused more on my individual spiritual progress. Especially during and after my stay in Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi in Bhagavan's physical presence (Oct. 2002 to April 2011, I repeat for clarity), I have changed my approach to a balance between my individual spiritual uplift and contributing my little bit to well being and happiness of society.

Some self-enquiry adepts who are not into belief in divine supernatural power and in power of prayer to a deity, may not agree with all of my views and I may not agree with all of their views, though I think there are many aspects where our views today would be similar.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Pics related to my ancestor Turavur Narayana Sastri's Sanskrit-Devanagari transcription work of Vyangyavyakhya in 1915, from K.G. Paulose's related 2013 book

For background info. readers are requested to read the following previous posts:

1) My ancestor Turavur Narayana Sastri named in 21st century books & journal as 1915 Sanskrit transcriber of ancient Tapatisamvarana-dhvani & Subhadradhananjaya-dhvani (Vyangyavyakhya) Kerala drama commentaries related to Kutiyattam,, 23rd May 2020

2) Expression of gratitude to Dr. K.G. Paulose for mentioning in his 2013 Vyangyavyakhya book, my family ancestor Thuravoor (Turavur) Narayana Sastrigal as eminent traditional (Sanskrit) scholar and transcriber of Vyangyavyakhya in 1915,

A few weeks ago, I received a printed copy of K.G. Paulose's related book titled "Vyaṅgyavyākhyā: The Aesthetics of Dhvani in Theatre", published by Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and D.K. Printworld in 2013,, I had ordered the book on

Given below are a few pics of this book which are related to Turavur (Thuravoor) Narayana Sastri (TNS) and his Sanskrit-Devanagari transcription related work. Note that TNS is my great-grandfather.

[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.]

 Above pic: Book and its front cover page

The reference to TNS comes in beginning of Part II, "Performance Text" of the book, with sub-title "Vyangyavyakhya" "1 Dhananjayadhvani" (Page 65).

Page 66 and 67 introduces this part, giving pics of the early Malayalam script palm leaves for the Dhananjayadhvani part of Vyangyavyakhya. Note that Dhananjayadhvani seems to be a short form of Subhadradhananjayadhvani.

In these pages, SD refers to Subhadradhananjaya (drama) and TS seems to refer to Tapatisamvaranam (drama).

It is in page 67 that we have the reference to TNS. The related sentences are: "The only Ms available to us of these text is the one owned by Kailasapurathu Govinda Pisharoti in the palace library (No. 67) in Thiruvananthapuram. This palm-leaf Ms, in early Malayalam script is very old and is worn-out in many places. Turavur Narayana Sastri, an eminent traditional scholar of the last century transcribed this in paper in Devanāgari script for the Oriental Manuscript Library Thiruvanantapuram in 1915 CE (ME 1090)."

I have given below pics of pages 66 and 67, along with additional pics of only the palm leaf manuscript pics on these pages (with higher resolution than the full page pics).

Above pic: Page 66

Above pic: Only palm leaf manuscript pics part of page 66

Above pic: Page 67

Above pic: Only palm leaf manuscript pics part of page 67

These pics give us good background on the work done by TNS in this context. The palm leaf manuscript (perhaps a few centuries old in 1915) had Sanskrit language text written in early Malayalam script. TNS read this and wrote (same, one presumes) Sanskrit language text but in Devanagari script on paper in 1915. Note that TNS had retired from Maharaja's Sanskrit college Trivandrum in 1911 as principal and, as per Kēraḷasāhityacaritraṃ, Volume 5, Uḷḷūr Es Paramēśvarayyar (see, continued to teach Sanskrit to students at his home in Trivandrum (near Padmanabhaswamy temple, I believe). Perhaps out of his love for Sanskrit, TNS may have taken up this task of transcribing the early Malayalam script Sanskrit language palm leaf manuscript text into handwritten Devanagari script Sanskrit language on paper (in 1915), thereby making a vital contribution to enhancing longevity for these ancient text(s). [Dr. K.G. Paulose dates original composition of these texts, referred to as Vyangyavyakhya (VV) by him, as "ninth century CE" - see page viii, in above mentioned Vyangyavyakhya book. Also page 66, whose pic is given above, has Dr. Paulose stating, "Walking in time, now we knock at the doors of the last century of the first millennium, the golden age of the Ceras. As explained, the Natyasastra - scholar recorded the performance text for the two dramas as desired by the royal dramatist, ...". In other words, Dr. Paulose states that these ancient texts were composed by the Natyasastra - scholar in the 9th century - last century of first millennium.]

Page 68 shows us the first page of the Devanagari Sanskrit text transcribed by TNS. I presume that he may have written the Devangari script Sanskrit text himself on paper. If so, then we get to see the superb Devanagari script handwriting of TNS in page 68 of the book. Pic below is of page 68.

Page 69 reproduces (cleanly) with printed Devanagari font, the first four lines of the Devanagari handwritten Sanskrit text of manuscript pic shown in page 68. It then provides the English translation of it. Pic below shows page 69. Note that I can read Devanagari script as it is the common script for Hindi & Marathi (languages that I can understand well - Hindi - or to some extent - Marathi), as well as Sanskrit (of which I have very limited understanding).

Page 70 has printed Devanagari text of remaining lines of manuscript shown on page 68  as well as other lines which seem to be from later part of the manuscript and page 71 has the English translation of it. First 6 Devanagari script lines (excluding verse title) of Page 70 are of remaining lines of manuscript part shown in page 68.

Above pic: Page 70

First 11 English translation lines (excluding verse title) of Page 71 seem to correspond to first 6 Devanagari script lines (excluding verse title) of Page 70, which are of remaining lines of manuscript part shown in page 68.

Above pic: Page 71

Pages 70 and 71 are followed by further similar pages. There are no more pics of the paper handwritten Devanagari text transcribed by TNS (like in page 68 above).

Index page 542 has this entry, "Narayana Sastri, Turavur 67". So it seems that there is only one mention of TNS in the book (on page 67 given earlier in this post).

[I thank publishers and author (Dr. K.G. Paulose) of Vyangyavyakhya book mentioned in this post, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing few pics of their book related to my great-grandfather Turavur (Thuravoor) Narayana Sastrigal, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Friday, June 19, 2020

Referral: has a great online tool for comparing text of 2 PDF files

Readers may want to see my recent post on another blog of mine: has a great online tool for comparing text of 2 PDF files, Note that such comparison is needed, at times, while self-publishing books (inner contents of book is typically provided as pdf file to self-publishing platform company).

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in June 2020

Last updated on 5th Sept 2020

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

To save time, I am usually not providing my FB post links but only contents. I am also not hyperlinking links. So readers will have to copy-paste links from this post onto a browser link box and then browse to that link.
Panch sir is now USA National Science Foundation Head!
The tweet in message below is dated 19th June 2020. So this information is over a week old but I came to know of it only today. I had known about his nomination by USA President Donald Trump some time back but not of the USA Senate ***unanimous*** confirmation.
---Contents of message I received ---
Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan has been appointed by the President of USA as the chairman of National Science Foundation of USA.
He was a Balvikas Student from Tamilnadu.
Served as the One of the Zonal Presidents of Sri Sathya Sai International Organization, USA.
He was also a guest lecturer at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning Puttaparthi.
--- end contents of message ---
Ravi: I replied to above tweet today as follows: "Congratulations Panch sir! My prayers to Almighty God to continue showering His Grace on u as u take on this challenging job as top science foundation leader, in tough COVID-19 pandemic times worldwide, with world eagerly looking for science-led cure &/or vaccine for COVID-19." My reply tweet can be seen here: . shows Panch sir as its head (Director).
With coffers empty, Padmanabhaswamy temple to seek help from royal family,
The temple is a famous temple in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala, and has been associated with the Travancore Royal family for centuries.
A small extract from above article:
“The monthly expense of the temple comes to around Rs 1.5 crore — Rs 1 crore for salary payment and the rest for purchases and office expenses. Previous savings from revenue earnings had helped the management run the show so far,” said V Ratheesan, temple’s executive officer. 
--- end extract ---
The temple has about 150 employees as per the report, and from April a "salary challenge" where 20% of their salary has been withheld, has been in effect.

Update: Interesting to see that the post got a few likes. So I thought I should add some background info. My elder sister did her MBBS from TNMC and BYL Nair hospital in the 70s (second half, I think). My father was being treated for serious illness and died in the same Nair hospital in 1978. We were living in Bandra (East) Govt. Colony then. I have made quite a few visits to TNMC and BYL Nair hospital in those days and have clear memories of those visits even today.
I also shared this pic with my sister who now lives in another part of Mumbai and she responded "Nice".
Of course, I must add, I am just sharing the good work done by others - Sathya Sai orgn. Mumbai - in this matter. I am based in Puttaparthi and have made no contribution in this matter (except for sharing it on social media, which is a minor thing).

Shared post: "Aum Sri Sai Ram
With blessings of #SriSathyaSai #SaiYouthMumbai offered seva of 1000 face shields to #Nairhospital today 6th June 2020. Appreciation as attached.
Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, India
 Sai Youth Mumbai Sri Sathya Sai Young Messengers"

Chetan was a youngster in Sathya Sai samithi/orgn. Dombivli (Maharashtra state, India) when I was in Dombivli samithi in the 1990s and early 2000s. So I enjoyed seeing Chetan speak from California, USA on the Coronavirus situation there. The interview is in Marathi: USA And Corona | Chetan Babanagare | LockDown 0.0,, 13 min. 36 seconds.

सदा निरंतर हरि गुण गाओ Sada Nirantar Hari Guna Gao-By Pt.Chaturbhuj Rathod,, around 5 mins.