Friday, February 21, 2020

Linga is simplest and most meaningful form of God, and the simplest sign of emergence and mergence - Sathya Sai Baba

The quotes below are from Shivaratri Feb. 1969 divine discourse of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume09/sss09-03.pdf.

Linga is the Form Symbol of God

This is a day dedicated to the Shiva that is in each of you. From the Himaalayan ranges down to Cape Kanyaakumari, the entire land is resounding today to the authentic Declaration "Shivoham" "Shivoham" and to the adoration, "Om Namasshivaaya." Since thousands pray here, and elsewhere in lakhs and crores, the Linga is emanating from Me, so that you may derive the Bliss that pervades the World through Lingodhbhava (emergence of the Linga).

The manifestation of the Linga is a part of My Nature. These Pandiths (scholars of spirituality) explain it as reminiscent of an epochal event in the past when Shiva challenged Brahma and Vishnu to gauge the height and depth of the Linga Form He assumed. They failed and had to accept defeat. But, the Linga emerges, as a result of prayer and Grace. You have to recognise in this event a glimpse of Divinity, a sign of infinite Grace. Just as Om is the sound symbol of God, the Linga is the Form symbol or the visible symbol of God, the most meaningful, the simplest and the least endowed with the appendages of attributes. Lingam means, that in which this jagath (world of change) attains laya (mergence or dissolution), Leeyathe. All Forms merge in the Formless at last. Shiva is the Principle of the Destruction of all Names and Forms, of all entities and individuals. So, the Linga is the simplest sign of emergence and mergence.
---- end discourse extract ---



Pic courtesy: https://sathyasaibaba.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/dr-michael-goldsteins-golden-shiva-lingam-2008/

About the pic from above link: "Towards the end of the 21 July 2008 – Sri Sathya Sai World Education Conference, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba materialised a Linga in golden colour to the delight of one and all. It was at the end of the world Conference that Bhagawan announced that the same would be presented to Dr. Michael Goldstein, Chairman, Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation and member of the Prashanti Council."

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

My high search ranking posts on views of Sathya Sai Baba and Prof. Diana Eck on Shiva Linga worship

As we approach Mahashivaratri (21st. Feb. 2020 I think is the date agreed upon by most in India), I thought of sharing two of my posts on Shiva Lingam worship which have been highly ranked by search engines for related search terms.

Search on the term:
Sathya Sai Baba on Shiva Lingam worship
gives my post: Sathya Sai Baba Lingodhbhavam and his views on Shiva Linga worship, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/10/sathya-sai-baba-lingodhbhavam-and-his.html, 5th Oct. 2014, as the second result in Google search and first result in Bing search.

[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.]




Search on the term:
Prof. Diana Eck on Shiva linga
gives my post: Harvard Prof. Diana Eck on Shiva Linga worship, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/10/harvard-prof-diana-eck-on-shiva-linga.html, 4th Oct. 2014, as the first result in both Google and Bing search.



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Upanishads have revelations; The term revelation is not used much in English language articles and texts on Hindu scripture like Upanishads; Search on: Chandogya Upanishad revelation

Last updated on 14th Feb. 2020

In the context of spirituality and religion, what is the meaning of the English word, revelation?

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/revelation gives the meaning as: "The divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world." [Note that lexico.com is powered by Oxford free English dictionary, https://www.lexico.com/about.]

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/revelation states: "A divine revelation is a sign or explanation from God about his nature or purpose."

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revelation: "In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities."

The wiki page further states:

Some religions have religious texts which they view as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired. For instance, Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that the Torah was received from Yahweh on biblical Mount Sinai.[1][2] Most Christians believe that both the Old Testament and the New Testament were inspired by God. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed by God to Muhammad word by word through the angel Gabriel (Jibril).[3][4] In Hinduism, some Vedas are considered apauruṣeya, "not human compositions", and are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti, "what is heard".

[Wiki References:]
1. Beale G.K., The Book of Revelation, NIGTC, Grand Rapids – Cambridge 1999. = ISBN 0-8028-2174-X
2. Esposito, John L. What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 7–8.
3. Lambert, Gray (2013). The Leaders Are Coming!. WestBow Press. p. 287. ISBN 9781449760137.
4. Roy H. Williams; Michael R. Drew (2012). Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future. Vanguard Press. p. 143. ISBN 9781593157067.
--- end wiki page extract ---

The term śruti is commonly used in context of Upanishads, which are part of the Vedas. But I think the word śruti when used in an English article or text on Upanishads may not communicate well enough to readers who are not exposed much to Sanskrit or other Indian languages using Sanskrit words, that these are revelations from the divine. The Mahavakyas in the Upanishads like Tat Tvam Asi (You are That) in Chandogya Upanishad are divine revelations. They are not just logical expressions of a learned sage's wisdom. They have been revealed to the sage by the divine after which the sage shares that with others.

I have read many Christian spiritual articles which use the term revelation, and communicate very effectively to the reader about content referred to in the article as revelations (e.g. verses from New Testament), being God's words - divine power's words - revealed to humanity. That led to me using the word revelation or the term 'divine revelation' in articles I wrote about Upanishads e.g. Chandogya Upanishad.

Recently I was unpleasantly surprised to see that Internet search engines gave one of my spiritual posts - Divine revelation gems from Chandogya Upanishad: Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu), https://iami1.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/divine-revelation-gems-from-chandogya-upanishad-chapter-6-dialogue-between-uddalaka-and-svetaketu/ - as a top result for the term:
Chandogya Upanishad revelation

Google - 2nd result, Bing - 1st result and DuckDuckgo - 1st result
See pics 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.]




Results on making the term:
Chandogya Upanishad revelations

Google - 4th result, Bing - 2nd result and DuckDuckgo - 1st result
See pics below.



These are inappropriately high result ranks as there is a lot of literature on Chandogya Upanishad in English written by many spiritual leaders, available on the Internet. Further my post is only on some verses including the vital Tat Tvam Asi verses in Chapter 6 of Chandogya Upanishad.

The search engines cannot be faulted though as they seem to have gone by the revelation or revelations word I have in my search query. I think it is just that the great literature on Chandogya Upanishad in English available on the Internet may have used the word sruti instead of revelation.

If the search term is changed to just:
Chandogya Upanishad
then the search engine results are more appropriate.

Google and Bing do not list any of my posts related to some verses in Chapter 6 of Chandogya Upanishad in the first forty results I checked. That is good and appropriate. DuckDuckGo lists one of my posts as the 35th result.

[14th Feb. 2020 Update: I should mention that adding chapter 6 to the term to make it:
Chandogya Upanishad chapter 6
gives one of my related posts in top-ten results as captured in this recent post of mine: Chandogya Upanishad – Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu) – Some Shlokas pdf document has been downloaded 526 times in past 6 months,  https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2020/02/chandogya-upanishad-chapter-6-dialogue.html, 10th Feb. 2020. end-update.]

The result ranks for my above mentioned post for search term:
Chandogya Upanishad Tat Tvam Asi
are as follows:

Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo do not list any of my posts in the first forty results. That is good and appropriate.

Including the name of Sathya Sai changes the results and brings my posts back into play. That's OK and appropriate. The result ranks for post(s) for search term:
Chandogya Upanishad Tat Tvam Asi Sathya Sai Baba
are as follows:

Google - 2nd result is my 'Some Shlokas from Chandogya Upanishad VI chapter including Tat tvam asi (You are That) Mahavakya, and comments on it', http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2015/03/some-shlokas-from-chandogya-upanishad.html post
Bing - 1st result is my above-mentioned post
DuckDuckGo - 3rd result is my 'Divine revelation gems from Chandogya Upanishad: Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu)', https://iami1.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/divine-revelation-gems-from-chandogya-upanishad-chapter-6-dialogue-between-uddalaka-and-svetaketu/ post
See pics below.




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In response to a comment on my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2753470964869463, associated with this post, I wrote (slightly edited):
Noted your view --name-snipped--. Thanks. I would say that in terms of Bhakti/devotion and action dedicated to God, there is a lot of commonality between Christian practice and Hindu practice (even if there may be some underlying theological differences).

But the Vedanta part that Hinduism has, does not seem to have a corresponding side in key Christian scripture (esp. New Testament) from the little that I know of it. I don't know whether Christian theological doctrines that are built based on the New Testament, have something that is corresponding to Vedanta in Hinduism. Perhaps there are some mystical Christianity (gnostic Christianity) schools whose doctrines may have some correspondence.
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[I thank lexico.com, collinsdictionary.com and Wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) (very small extracts from lexico.com and collinsdictionary.com) from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Monday, February 10, 2020

Chandogya Upanishad – Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu) – Some Shlokas pdf document has been downloaded 526 times in past 6 months

This post follows up on my post: Sharing my satisfaction about my Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6 posts being ranked high by Google Search, resulting in regular visits; ..., http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2018/11/sharing-my-satisfaction-about-my.html, 11th Nov. 2018 which states that my 'Chandogya Upanishad – Chapter 6 (Dialogue between Uddalaka and Svetaketu) – Some Shlokas' pdf document ( https://iami1.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/chandogyachapter6someshlokas.pdf ) was 4th result in Google search.

This pdf document written by me in June 2010, captures the vital part of Chandogya Upanishad's Advaita teachings including its most famous Tat Tvam Asi (You are that) Mahavakya. It has commentaries of some famous spiritual writers on Upanishads including Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I have also provided some comments about my understanding of the verses and the commentaries.

This pdf document continues to be in top-ten results in Google Search now in Feb. 2020 for the term: Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6. Today when I checked, this pdf document was the 8th result (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.]



Bing lists it as 3rd result and DuckDuckGo as 4th result (see pics below). [Bing screenshot had to be taken again and so its date is 11th Feb. 2020.]




In Nov. 2018 when I had put up the post mentioned earlier, Wordpress (where the above mentioned pdf document is located) stats did not report file downloads. That reporting started from only July 2019.

Over the past seven months (from July 2019), I have been pleasantly surprised to see regular downloads (2 to 3 times a day) of the above pdf file. The last six months data is given below.

Aug. 2019 -  73 downloads
Sep. 2019 -  75
Oct. 2019 -  65
Nov. 2019 - 142
Dec. 2019 -  90
Jan. 2020 -  81
Total: 526 downloads

The first pic below is the stats for file download for Jan. 2020 alone. The next pic is composite pic where I have cut out and pasted together file download info. for other months on the Jan. 2020 stats screenshot.




The file downloads stats do not seem to have associated audience information. So I have no idea about which country the downloads are being made from or who may be downloading them. I presume that even if some of the downloads are by automated software, at least some downloads are by people who are interested to read it. Note that other files in the same Wordpress blog do not show such high and regular file download stats.

BTW Chandogya Upanishad is from the Sama Veda, and since my family comes from the Sama Veda tradition, I am really happy about my small contribution on this being easily accessible through Internet search engines and being downloaded on a regular basis.

I think it is good that people are reading up these high-level and deep philosophy/revelations about existence and truth in verses (shlokas) in chapter 6 of Chandogya Upanishad which has the famous Tat Tvam Asi (You are That) Mahavakya (great pithy statement), along with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's commentary on them. I wanted to share this with readers both to share my satisfaction and perhaps inspire some readers to make such contributions themselves on spiritual topics of their interest.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in Feb. 2020

Last updated on 17th Feb. 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.
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I personally am uncomfortable with 'stoned' word, even when it seems to mean being blissful, being used with Lord Shiva. I am uncomfortable even if it is used in a light, humourous way and with great respect for Lord Shiva. Somehow the 'stoned' word has too many wrong connotations for me. Perhaps that comes in the way of me not being able to take the word being used in a light & humourous way, in the context of Lord Shiva.

But I find the general message of Sadhguru Vasudev about marijuana NOT being the right way for spiritual experience, to be a very good one. It is communicated by Sadhguru Vasudev in a manner that I think will reach out to many viewers (including those who do use weed or other chemicals to induce what they view as spiritual high experiences). So I am sharing this video of his: If Shiva Smokes Weed, Why Can't I? – Sadhguru Answers, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf-31zABxto, 10 min. 41 secs, published on 15th Feb. 2020.

Around 9 min. 50 secs, Sadhguru says: "There is nothing spiritual about any chemical."
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Good to see Indian spiritual leaders assemble together to promote Yoga and well being.

"A warm welcome to the Governing Council of the #IndianYogaAssociation for the Second Council Meet at #IshaYogaCenter. As the world moves away from dogma and belief, offering #yoga as a scientific process for wellbeing has become crucial. -Sg @Yoga_I_Y_A", https://twitter.com/SadhguruJV/status/1226560677176700930 [Tweet has pics of the spiritual leaders meeting.]
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I had shared this earlier but it was from an unknown website (Independent Catholic ..., if I recall correctly). Now it is from a mainstream Indian TV media outlet: Pak Court Allows (Christian) Girl's Marriage To Abductor As She's Had Her "1st Menstrual Cycle", https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/pak-court-says-christian-girls-marriage-valid-as-shes-had-her-1st-menstrual-cycle-2176974, 8th Feb. 2020

A small extract from the article: "The parents of a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl, who was abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married off to her abductor, will approach the Supreme Court after a lower court ruled that marriage with an underage girl is valid as per the Sharia law if she has had her first menstrual cycle."

Let us hope and pray that Pakistan's Supreme Court will overturn the lower court's verdict, render the forced marriage and conversion to Islam as null and void, and free the 14 year old Christian girl to be with her family and practise her Christian faith in peace and without fear.
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Wonderful to see this: After 70 years, temple handed back to Hindus at Zhob in Pakistan’s Balochistan, https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/after-70-years-temple-handed-back-to-hindus-at-zhob-in-pakistan-s-balochistan/story-RU8wQrsFfC27YIcLGEo5lJ.html, 7th Feb. 2020

The deputy commissioner of the area is quoted by the article as saying: "Today is an important day in the history of Balochistan. This is an example of religious harmony. Maulana Allah Dad, the khateeb of the Jama Masjid, not only supported the decision but also participated as a special guest at the ceremony. The world should see how deeply our scholars have embraced the minority community."

Ravi: As an Indian Hindu, I pray to Allah to shower His Grace on the Muslim leaders in Balochistan (in Pakistan) who supported this move to give back the temple to Hindu community there. I pray to Almighty God that there be more of such religious harmony between Hindus and Muslims in Pakistan and India.

Ishwar Maalik! Allah Maalik! Sabka Maalik Ek!

[Ishwar is the Lord! Allah is the Lord! The Lord of all (Hindus, Muslims & others) is One!]
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Pakistani court and Hindu Pakistani girl Mehak's lawyer have to be congratulated on freeing Mehak from forcible conversion to Islam and forcible marriage to Muslim man

Note: My putting up this post should not be construed as me being anti-Muslim. I am against forcible conversion to any other religion and forcible marriage to person of another religion. I am a firm believer of "Sabka Maalik Ek" (The Lord of all is One) teaching of Shirdi Sai Baba and view Hinduism, Islam, Christianity etc. as various paths to the same One God.

Don't want to convert, will stay with parents: Minor Pakistan Hindu girl,
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/73996972.cms, 7th Feb. 2020

The first time, on January 21st this year, Mehak had said in the court that she, a 15 year old Pakistani Hindu girl, had converted to Islam and married a Muslim man out of her own will.

Now, on 6th Feb., she retracted her previous statement and told the court that she neither wanted to live with the Muslim person she was forcibly married to, nor did she want to embrace Islam.

She requested the court in Pakistan to send her back to her parents' home and practise Hinduism. She told the court that she had made her earlier statement by mistake.

The court recorded her 6th Feb. statement on video and her statement was made in the judge's chambers (perhaps to avoid pressure on the girl by large crowd inside and outside the court).

As an Indian Hindu, I am thankful to the Pakistani court judge as well as Mehak's lawyer, and the many activists in Pakistan and outside who seem to have fought for justice in this case, who have enabled Mehak to get justice and freedom.

The previous statement made by Mehak seems to have been made under duress and/or psychological brain-washing. I think that in all such cases of sudden disappearance of less than 18 years of age Hindu girls in Pakistan (and girls from other minority religions in Pakistan like Christianity) who then say they married a Muslim man and converted to Islam of their free will, it should first be established whether they are saying it under duress and/or psychological brain-washing. For that perhaps the juvenile girl should first be allowed to stay for say a month or so in a neutral environment where she is free from pressure from both the Muslim husband and his family, as well as her parents' family, and from religious leaders/groups of both religions.

Of course, it would be even better if age of marriage is raised to 18 in Pakistan but I think one has to accept reality of current law in Pakistan that seems to view girls who have had their first menstrual cycle to be of marriageable age - Ref: Pakistan court rules men can marry underage girls, https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38862, 5th Feb. 2020. BTW the article refers to a Christian 14 year old girl, Huma Younus, who was allegedly abducted and married to a Muslim man.
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Wonderful quote from Bible about God asking man to give Him his heart

"My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways," New International Version

"My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." English Standard Version

From Proverbs 23:26 of Bible, https://biblehub.com/proverbs/23-26.htm
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While I support the right of peaceful protesters/rally-goers to protest against CAA or rally in support of CAA or anything else, I firmly oppose hijacking of such anti CAA protests by anti-India Islamists. India is a country for people of all religions - Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, Jew etc. including those who have no religion (atheists/agnostics). No single religion whether a majority religion like Hindusim or a minority religion like Islam, should be promoted by any modified Indian national flag in such protests.

FACT CHECK: Image of Ashok Chakra replaced by Islamic Shahada in Indian Tricolor during anti-CAA march is real, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/times-fact-check/news/fact-check-image-of-ashok-chakra-replaced-by-islamic-shahada-in-indian-tricolor-during-anti-caa-march-is-real/articleshow/73833285.cms, 1st Feb. 2020.

The threat of violent and intolerant (to non-Muslims) Islamic extremism must never be forgotten given recent history in Syria and Iraq, and given serious and disturbing acts of discrimination against Hindus, Christians, Ahmadiyas etc. happening in Pakistan even today.

I hope Shri Rahul Gandhi and others will condemn usage of such modified Indian flags in anti CAA protests.
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Friday, February 7, 2020

Miscellaneous Facebook posts & comments in Jan. 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.
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Good to know that more Indian Muslims are able to perform Hajj pilgrimage.

"On the special request of my government, Saudi Arabia increased Hajj quota unprecedentedly, due to which a record 2 lakh Indian Muslims performed Hajj this time.", https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-first-country-to-digitise-entire-hajj-process-says-president/articleshow/73795761.cms.
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For readers who may not know, "dargah" means Muslim shrine.
In this non-Muslim village, Hindus preserve a 200-year old dargah, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/in-this-non-muslim-village-hindus-preserve-a-200-year-old-dargah/articleshow/73746017.cms
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Note: I don't know about the reference to "Love Christ" below.
Shared video post has this intro: In God's Own Country nothing is impossible.

Christianity was not brought there by the Europeans, but by a direct disciple of Jesus. Islam was not brought through conquest, but by word of mouth by traders during Prophet Muhamnad's time.

Of course now there are reported aberrations and transgressions, like Love Jihad and Love Christ. However the tradition of mutual respect and understanding and appreciation runs deep. An example of this is depicted in the video below.
[Video link: https://www.facebook.com/vv.sarachandran/videos/10156857448648456/?t=0]
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As it is reported by the Times of India (a leading Mumbai based news media organization), which was my regular newspaper while I lived in and around Mumbai. I view it is a credible report (though later developments may show some aspects of the report to be inaccurate). Therefore I am sharing it.

Just incredible that this continues to happen in Pakistan in this day & age. I don't recall hearing or reading of anything like this happening to minorities in India (Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis etc.), anywhere in India (a much, much larger land area country than Pakistan), not only now but right from 1980s when I became a young adult and was regularly reading Indian mainstream media.

As an Indian Hindu, I am outraged that Pakistani Hindus are being horribly ill-treated like this, and condemn the perpetrators of this outrage.

[Linked article: Pak Hindu bride abducted, converted to Islam, forcibly married to Muslim, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-hindu-bride-abducted-converted-to-islam-forcibly-married-to-muslim/articleshow/73659948.cms ]
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I don't think I have publicly commented on this and so I felt I should do so now. This horrific murder that happened in 1999 is a matter of great shame for India. May such horrors never happen in India again.

Whether Graham Staines (an Australian) was proselytising Christianity or not in Odisha's tribal areas, is not the issue. Even if he was proselytising, he should have been opposed in legal ways and not in this horrible way. Graham and his two children, aged 10 and 9, were burnt alive in their vehicle!

What was good about what happened later is that justice seems to have been delivered to the perpetrator of the crime - convicted and sentenced to death which was then commuted to life imprisonment.

His wife, Gladys Staines, "continued to stay in Odisha with her daughter Esther. In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri by the President of India for her work with people suffering from leprosy."

That his wife and daughter continued to stay on in Odisha shows that despite the great tragedy they suffered, they had faith in the Indians that they were interacting with/ the society they lived in, and so continued to stay on in India.

[Linked article: Remembering Graham Staines, 21 Years After His Murder, https://www.thequint.com/news/india/remembering-graham-staines-17-years-after-his-murder]
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Great to see this coverage of philosophy of and service done by Sathya Sai center of Dallas, Texas, USA, on a local US TV channel.

Shared post intro: DALLAS SAI CENTER IN STUDIO INTERVIEW WITH FOX4NEWS.
[Shared video: https://www.fox4news.com/video/646200 ]
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Lovely holy sand art depicting Shirdi Sai Baba and one of his big messages at Puri beach in Odisha (India): https://twitter.com/sudarsansand/status/1218947315441909761

The text of the tweet by Sudarshan Pattnaik: "#OmSaiRam ..My SandArt of #SaiBaba with message #SabKaMalikEk at Puri beach🙏"

The message of Sabka Maalik Ek in Hindi is the great teaching of Bhagavan Shirdi Sai Baba meaning that the Lord of all (Hindus, Muslims, Christians etc.) is One!
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Decided to put up this post just to share that people are searching for sai baba and advaita vedanta!

I have heard Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba speaking on Advaita Vedanta live in Sai Kulwant Hall on so many occasions. He spoke on the essence of the matter and it is my deep belief that he spoke from direct experience and direct knowledge about Advaita. Swami would refer to Adi Shankara many times.

After Mahasamadhi, somehow the focus is not so much on these teachings and discourses of Bhagavan on Advaita Vedanta.

So I was happy to see today that in the past 24 hours somebody/some people landed up on my blog post: Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D. - Edited Transcript of Video, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2013/11/sathya-sai-babas-advaita-teachings-by.html, 13th Nov. 2013. There were 3 visits and all of them were via Bing search engine. See attached cropped screenshots with two of them having a red arrow pointing to relevant info. at bottom of screenshot.

I hope more writers will put up freely accessible blog posts on Sathya Sai Baba's teachings on Advaita Vedanta. That will help to better disseminate these vital teachings of Bhagavan.

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A song about one of the revered and famous Muslim shrines in Mumbai - Haji Ali. I have had the good fortune of visiting it, and seeing it umpteen times as I travelled by bus/taxi on the road next to it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-CAtCDepD8, 5 min. 41 secs.
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Interesting even if some of the captions are inappropriate!

I mean, Islam and Christianity are important religions in India. So how can it be India vs. Christianity & Islam? But I am sharing it as Sadhguru does cover some interesting ground, in a jocular way at times, about Islam, Christianity and Hinduism understanding of God (and heaven).

Around 12 mins.

[FB video: https://www.facebook.com/SadhguruYogi1/videos/797363027380641/?t=0 ]
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Interesting 2017 live orchestra rendition of the famous Shirdi Wale Sai Baba song which is from Amar Akbar Anthony Hindi film of 1977: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e16FmUEIG7o, slightly less than 6 mins.
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Khwaja Garib Nawaz Dargah Video - Virtual Tour of Ajmer Sharif Dargah, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JC7Dr7Ww-M, around 7 mins., published in June 2017.
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https://twitter.com/CSLewisInst/status/1215105508098674688 [C.S. Lewis quote in pic: "Our business is to present that which is timeless (the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow) in the particular language of our own age."]
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"Exodus 14 reveals how God opened the way for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea, finally escaping the Egyptian army. The story of the Exodus played a role in inspiring American antislavery advocate #HarrietTubman. Her efforts helped many US slaves escape bondage.", https://twitter.com/museumofBible/status/1214301122208444417
----

Wonderful to see this development (defusing of Nankana Sahib related tension) in Pakistan

Here is Indian cricket star Harbhajan Singh's recent tweet content and the tweet it shares:

"Awal Alaaah noor upaya, kudrat k sab bandhe, Ek Noor te jagg peya upjeya,kon bhalle ko Mandhe..apas mai ladne se koi masla hal nahi hoga..pyar se sarre masle hal hote hai🙏 dhan guru Nanak bhul chuk maff kari.. sab tere bandhe 🙏", https://twitter.com/harbhajan_singh/status/1213510300206387205

[Text content of shared tweet: https://twitter.com/ShahabSpeaks/status/1213460567010267142, which has a video of the person speaking in Urdu/Punjabi: "The person who uttered objectionable words against Sikhs yesterday apologises today for his misconduct.

Says Gurdwara has never and will never be attacked. Muslims and Sikhs live like brothers and will continue doing so."]

I shared the above Harbhajan Singh tweet with following introduction/share text of mine: "Wonderful to see this development of the person who made the atrocious statements against Nankana Sahib and Sikh community there, withdrawing it and seeking forgiveness. May God give him strength and keep him on peaceful Islam path living in peace with Sikh community there.", https://twitter.com/RaviSaiIyer/status/1213699577758404609

Perhaps Pakistan PM, Mr. Imran Khan, and/or his office had noted the tweet of Harbhajan Singh (I am quite sure they have both played in same cricket matches but representing Pakistan and India respectively), and initiated some action resulting in this apology and goodwill to Sikhs statement of the person. If so, Mr. Imran Khan must be thanked and congratulated for this wonderful work of his towards improving inter-religious harmony in Pakistan.
----

This is a very clear patriotic statement from noted Indian Muslim leader and Member of (Indian) Parliament, Asaduddin Owaisi representing constituency of Hyderabad, Telangana. Initial part of the video is in Hindi but later he switches to English. 

He says (in English), "Mr. Khan (Pakistan Prime Minister), you worry about your own country. Mr. Khan - we would like to tell you, don't ever remember us. We have rejected the paigam (Hindi/Urdu word for message), the message, the wrong theory of Jinnah. We are proud Indian Muslims and till the day of judgement, Inshallah, we will remain as proud Indian Muslims. No power on earth can take away my Indianness. No power on earth can take away my religious identity. Why? Because the constitution of India guarantees me that."

As a Hindu resident and citizen of India (Indian Hindu), I congratulate Indian Muslim leader and Hon'ble MP Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, for his words above spoken on stage in a public meeting.

Indian Muslims have contributed in a big and positive way to India and will surely continue to do so in future. I personally have benefited and continue to benefit from friendship and goodwill of many Indian Muslims. I am fully supportive of the right of Indian Muslims to peacefully practise their Islamic faith in India.

My own belief is as follows:
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!]

Update: I am not making any comments about CAA and NRC and view of Mr. Owaisi on it. That is not part of the video even if a poster related to opposition to them is shown in the background of the still pic preview of the shared post below.

Further, 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.

[Shared video: We are proud Indian Muslims and will remain so: Owaisi slams Pak PM, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/we-are-proud-indian-muslims-and-will-remain-so-owaisi-slams-pak-pm/videoshow/73104719.cms]


In response to a comment on above FB post, I wrote (slightly edited):  I am not promoting all views of Mr. Owaisi. Given the context in India today where some Indian Muslims feel that they are being targeted by some aggressive persons from the majority Hindu community, I find this statement of Mr. Owaisi to be very good and I support it. I hope such statements by Indian Muslim leaders will give courage to those Indian Muslims who feel they are being victimized.

My request to you --name-snipped-- sir is to please focus only on these words of Mr. Owaisi in any further comments you make on this post. You may not like many other things about Mr. Owaisi and that's Ok with me. But please don't share that on this post.

But if you have any objections to the views expressed by words that I have shared of Mr. Owaisi in this post, I welcome your criticism.

Please note that public leaders, of which surely Mr. Owaisi is one such from India, have stands on various issues. My agreement and support of Mr. Owaisi is limited to this stand of Mr. Owaisi. I don't think I have shared anything else about Mr. Owaisi's views on social media.
-----

Tweet from Indian cricket star Harbhajan Singh about the Nankana Sahib famous Sikh place of worship in Pakistan: "God is one..let’s not divide it and create hate among each other’s.. let’s be human first and respect each other’s.. Mohammad Hassan openly threatens to destroy Nankana Sahib Gurdwara and build the mosque in that place 
@ImranKhanPTI
 plz do the needful 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏", https://twitter.com/harbhajan_singh/status/1213307400519704576

The tweet has a video clip of a person making the above mentioned threat in Urdu/Punjabi.

I support the above words of Harbhajan Singh. Let's hope and pray that peace and goodwill come to the place and all the communities there.
=======================
Good development update here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2714273985455828
----

This shows the unfortunate reality of religious discrimination against minorities in Pakistan. In this case it is the Sikhs who are the target of discrimination.

[Good development update here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2714273985455828]

Additional background to this matter is that as per this article, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/muslims-mob-attack-gurdwara-nankana-sahib-with-stones/articleshow/73088062.cms, the local Muslims were resentful of local Sikhs (in Pakistan) opposition to alleged forcible conversion of a Sikh girl (daughter of some person associated with one of the Gurudwaras of the area) to Islam and her (forcible) marriage to a Muslim boy.

Since I became an adult (in 1980) and was reading up/aware of such matters as reported in Indian mainstream media, I have never ever heard of any similar case in India of a girl of a minority religion (Muslim or Christian or Sikh or Buddhist or Jain or Zoroastrian/Parsee or Jew) being abducted and converted to the majority religion (Hinduism) and being forced to marry a Hindu.

I find it hard to imagine life as a minority religious community person in  Pakistan. I mean girls being abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim boys! That is utterly horrific.

Now this may be happening only in rural areas in Pakistan and not in the major cities. But wherever such things happen, they are utterly horrific.

[Shared video: Watch: Pak man threatens to take over Nankana Sahib, rename it Ghulam Ali Mustafa, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/watch-pak-man-threatens-to-take-over-nankana-sahib-rename-it-ghulam-ali-mustafa/videoshow/73087635.cms]
----

Good to see Andhra Pradesh CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy garu accept blessings of TTD (Tirupati) priests. [FB post: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2711374485745778 has shared post pics.]
-----

PM Modi accepting blessings at Siddaganga mutt in Tumkuru, Karnataka. [FB post:  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2711370749079485 has shared post pics.]
-----

Sathya Saibaba sings "Chitta Chora & Vahe Guru" Bhajan, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4hQQ4JGWbI, 5 min. 52 secs.
...
Waheguru Wahegur Bhai Joginder Singh Ji Riar, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGoiNMKi0-o, 9 min. 39 secs.
...
President of India: "Homage to Guru Gobind Singh Ji on his birth anniversary. He devoted his life to serving the people and upholding the values of truth, justice and compassion. The life and teachings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji continue to inspire us.", https://twitter.com/rashtrapatibhvn/status/1212558378964144128
-------

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The LORD your God is with you wherever you go - Joshua 1:9 (Bible)

A few days ago on 28th Jan. 2020 evening, in outside ashram Puttaparthi, I saw an interesting message on what seemed to be a Christian ministry vehicle. The message was on the lines of: the LORD your God is with you wherever you go - Joshua.

I loved that! After coming home, I looked it up on the Net. Here's the verse - Joshua 1:9, https://biblehub.com/joshua/1-9.htm, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.", New International Version.

Another version, New Living Translation: "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Wonderful! What divine assurance!

I should also say that I am convinced that this revelation and similar revelations in Hindu scripture, about God being with us wherever we go, is the truth. We should have faith in the truth of this revelation, this assurance.
-----

Jan Baan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Baan) messaged me on LinkedIn in response to above post contents that I shared with him:

Some Bible commentaries
Bible Knowledge Commentary
1:9.
The third call to courage addressed to Joshua was based on the promise of God’s presence. This did not minimize the task Joshua faced. He would encounter giants and fortified cities, but God’s presence would make all the difference.

Joshua probably had times when he felt weak, inadequate, and frightened. Perhaps he considered resigning before the Conquest even began. But God knew all about his feelings of personal weakness and fear and told Joshua three times, Be strong and courageous (vv. 6-7, 9; cf. v. 18). God also urged him not to be afraid or discouraged (cf. Deut. 1:21; 31:8; Josh. 8:1). These charges with their accompanying assurances (God’s promise, God’s power, and God’s presence) were sufficient to last a lifetime. Believers in all ages can be uplifted by the same three assurances.

Believers Bible Commentary
Three times Joshua is told by the Lord to be strong and very courageous (vv. 6, 7, 9). The size and duration of the task ahead, the pressures of leading such an obstinate people, and the absence of his spiritual mentor, Moses, were perhaps heavy on Joshua’s mind at this time. But the Lord was not calling him without enabling him. There were good reasons for Joshua to be strong: God’s promise (vv. 5, 6), a sure victory; God’s Word (vv. 7, 8), a safe guide; God’s presence (v. 9), a sustaining power.

T. Austin Sparks writes:
The real battle of faith is joined here. Not what we are, but what He is! Not what we feel, but His facts
-----end Jan Baan message text---------

I responded to Jan Baan (slightly edited):
Wonderful and inspiring, Jan. Thanks a ton!
...
I will study this message of yours again carefully. I think it is a very inspiring and appropriate message to give courage to those who do good work (including business enterprises) with faith in God, who are faced with challenges. Thanks again.
------ end my response ---

I thank Bible Knowledge Commentary, Believers Bible Commentary and T. Austin Sparks for the above short text extracts, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract(s) of theirs on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.

Vinny Chitluri's video about, as per her research, original pictures of Shirdi Sai Baba

I get the impression that the video seems to be generally accurate. However, I don't know for sure. There could be some inaccuracies. In any case, it was great to see these pics of Bhagavan Sri Shirdi Sai Baba most of which are very familiar to me, as Mumbai and surrounding areas, where I lived for most of the first four decades of my life (1962-2002), is full of Shirdi Sai Baba devotees who would have some of these pics in their homes, and even in workplaces (including in Autos by Auto driver/owner devotees). These pics would also be there in places of worship, and there would be many sellers including roadside sellers, displaying these pics of Baba (for sale). It was very interesting to know Dr. Chitluri's views, based on her knowledge/research, about the background of these pics. I must also mention that I do not know whether the Shirdi Sai Sansthan (official orgn. of Shirdi Sai Baba mandir) agrees with these views of Dr. Chitluri.

Original Photos of Shirdi Sai Baba | Dr. Vinny Chitluri, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH8f0VTgt6Q, 14 min. 26 secs, published on 26th Jan. 2020.

Given below is a screenshot from the above video.

[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.]



Friday, January 24, 2020

Many pics (75) of my rural Puttaparthi walking route

This post follows up on my recent post: Nice rural walking route in Puttaparthi; Pedometer data update, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2020/01/nice-rural-walking-route-in-puttaparthi.html.

I thought it would be good to take pics of this rural walking route. So yesterday, 23rd Jan. 2020, I took many, many pics while I was on my walk. Those pics are shared publicly here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/AuMobMDn4wecAHcF6. Some of these pics have long description. To see the full description click on info button in Google Photos display.

The pics were taken from around 4.45 PM to around 6.30 PM. I selected 75 of those pics to be shared here, along with one pedometer screenshot for yesterday's walk. The pics with some of them having description tell the story.

The pics are in the sequence in which they were taken with pic taken earliest (4:48 PM) being first.

The last - 76th - pic is a Pedometer screenshot giving data for the walk yesterday.
========================================

Given below are some comments in Facebook post,  https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2735583849991508, associated with this blog post:

In response to a comment, I wrote (slightly edited):

Thank you --Name-snipped-- sir for your words, "These snaps provide invaluable insight into the landscape around Puttaparthi." One of the reasons I invested the time in taking the pics and then sharing it publicly on Facebook and Google Photos, is that I felt it will be a good photographic record of how this area of Puttaparthi which still has a rural ambiance, looked in Jan. 2020. Photographs capture so much, including insights, that some of what the photographs captured which may, I repeat may, be interesting to some others now and in future, may have completely escaped me! I am so glad to see that you appreciate the insight into landscape perspective that these pics provide/capture.
I believe the full moon parikrama is going on regularly.
-----

In response to a comment about making a pictorial book using these and other photos of Puttaparthi that I have clicked, I wrote (slightly edited): I would like to leave that, as of now at least, for others who would like to do so. I would be glad to provide them permission to use my pics of Puttaparthi and surrounding areas, all of which are publicly shared on Facebook and Google Photos.
----

Terry Reis Kennedy wrote: Dear Ravi, thank you so very much for this wonderful and historic record through the photos. A happy sharing for me. Like so many others viewing them, I am triggered to remember my peaceful walks, going in many different ways without a care all on my own through the township and village.
----

I responded: Glad you liked it, Terry Reis Kennedy. Nice to know that you had many such peaceful walks in and around Puttaparthi, and that this post reminds you of those happy memories. Jai Sai Ram!
----

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Referral: What size of Times New Roman font - 12, 11 or 10 - should I use for main text for paperback book and ebook ...

Readers may want to read my recent post on another blog of mine: What size of Times New Roman font - 12, 11 or 10 - should I use for main text for paperback book and ebook having this blog's (Indian CS & IT Academic Reform) main contents?, https://eklavyasai.blogspot.com/2020/01/what-size-of-times-new-roman-font-12-11.html.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Nice rural walking route in Puttaparthi; Pedometer data update

Last updated on 24th Jan. 2020

This post is further to my recent post (on another blog): Simple and useful 'Pedometer - Step Counter' Android app for measuring walking exercise, https://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com/2020/01/simple-and-useful-pedometer-step.html.

Today I started the app as soon as I put my walking boots on, just outside my flat, and stopped it when I had returned and was just outside my flat. Though the walk path was the same as earlier, perhaps due to me starting the app's step counting earlier, the steps shown by the app today are: 8519 (as against 7727 in earlier post for walk on 20th Jan. 2020). The distance today is shown as 5.792 km (as against 5.254 km on 20th Jan. 2020). Cropped screenshot is given below.


As I mentioned in the earlier post, the actual walking steps (as against smaller steps while taking a break or going down the apartment stairs/ coming up in apt. elevator) would be 5 to 10% lesser. So the actual distance walked may be around 5.2 to 5.5 km.

I would like to share the walking route I use as I think it is a very nice rural/countryside walk and is picturesque for most of the route. Perhaps some readers may want to know about it and some may even want to try it out when they are in Puttaparthi.

The walk is first on the Puttaparthi to Yenumulapalli bypass road (30 feet road I think is the official name) which is next to Chitravathi river bank for most of its stretch. The main part of my walk on this road is from the Chitravathi Harathi Point till the road joins Yenumulapalli (or Enumulapalli) village. There I take the road from Yenumulapalli to Brahmanapalli but do not go up to Brahmanapalli. I turn back at the milestone marker on the road to Brahmanapalli - see pics below. The first milestone pic shows distance to Puttaparthi by regular road. The second milestone pic shows the other side of the same milestone giving distance to Bangalore and other places.

[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.]



The marker (first milestone pic) says Puttaparthi is 4 km by (regular) road (as against bypass road) but perhaps the actual distance is a little lesser even on the regular road. The regular road is the one which is on another side of Yenumulapalli village and comes from the airport/Super hospital on one side, having a circular junction at that side of Yenumulapalli village (with a Ganesh statue at the circle, if I recall correctly), going on to APSRTC bus depot, Gokulam and then Puttaparthi bus stand/Ganesh Gate of Prasanthi Nilayam ashram. This regular road has a lot of traffic.

My walk route is mainly on rural roads/ rural stretches of roads. Most part of the route has picturesque South Indian countryside views. But there is no separate walking path - so one either walks typically on the extreme left of the tar road (unless one chooses to go opposite the traffic flow) or on the grass/mud path next to it. When walking on the tar road, one has to be alert for honking of large vehicles (buses/trucks) coming up behind at which time one needs to get off the tar road into the grass/mud path. Two wheelers (scooters & motorbikes) and autos are not so much of an issue as the road is wide enough to accommodate a walker and an auto/two wheeler.

The area is quite hilly and so the roads go up and down and have lots of curves. Views from high points on the road looking down on rural scenery are wonderful and makes one feel real good and peaceful!

There are quite a few places where one can take a break and sit down. On the road itself there are some concrete blocks where one can sit. And in Yenumulapalli village there is a big tree around which seating areas have been made. Tea and snacks are also available in Yenumulapalli village. The folks one comes across on the road do not bother the walker and can be quite friendly too.

Once a week there is a weekly market in Yenumulapalli which is on the Yenumulapalli to Brahmanapalli road. But I like going through the rural weekly market as well, even though it can be quite crowded in some patches of the road at times, and parts of the road can be somewhat messy due to some crushed fruits & vegetables on it.

I would strongly recommend this walk route to people who like walking in Indian countryside and have some exposure to such walks. For those who have not done walks in Indian countryside roads, especially those from Western world countries which I think have more safety for walkers, but are interested in trying this out, I think they should do this in company with some local person who is better adapted to the issues/risks (e.g. getting off the road when a bus/truck coming behind starts honking).

And I recommend that such walks be done by people new to this route only during daytime. At nighttime most of the road is not lit and it can be somewhat dangerous when heavy traffic (bus/truck) comes up behind (usually at speed).

Snakes are spotted at times but I don't think it is a big risk in daytime.

Stray dogs are quite a few. But unless one is walking fast or running, I don't think the stray dogs bother the walker. [At times when I am walking fast and the walking shoes make more noise, I have had some dogs barking at me.]

Herds of sheep usually with a shepherd(s) is common. One may have to walk on the other side of the road to avoid getting right into a herd of sheep!

One issue is potholes on the tar road with loose stones. There is a possibility of a passing vehicle's tyres sending some loose stone shooting to the side of the road (where it could hurt a walker or a cyclist). But I think that possibility may be rather low. Note that many locals walk on these roads and some use bicycles on it (including young school children). So if there are some risks, the walker shares the risks with many locals walking or bicycling on these roads.
=======================================
24th Jan. 2020

Readers may want to read my later and recent post: Many pics (75) of my rural Puttaparthi walking route, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2020/01/many-pics-75-of-my-rural-puttaparthi.html.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Rumi words: "As you start to walk on the way, the way appears", have been very true for my spiritual journey

I think these words attributed to Jalaluddin Rumi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi - "As you start to walk on the way, the way appears", have been very true for my spiritual journey which started in earnest in the early 1990s. It is not instant and it is not without challenges but as one goes through the challenges, one realizes that the way forward spiritually has appeared.

Seek and you shall find is another great and promising spiritual teaching/revelation in this context. I think it applies not only to the final goal of finding God but the various steps in between.

What the spiritual aspirant needs is shraddha (faith) along with courage to face the inevitable challenges that serve to improve one from a spiritual perspective, and saburi (patience) of a spiritual order (patience over a looooooong period of time :-) ). Note that Shraddha and Saburi are famous teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

I support Hon'ble Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray's statement about Pathri in Parbhani district in Maharashtra being birthplace of Shirdi Sai Baba

Last updated on 21st Jan. 2020

Shirdi town seems to be having a bandh (shutdown) (excluding temple and essential facilities) reportedly in opposition to Maha CM Thackeray's statement that Shirdi Sai Baba was born in Pathri in Parbhani district in Maharashtra, and his allocation of funds for development of that area (perhaps as a spiritual centre).

Sai Baba Temple To Remain Open Amid Indefinite Shirdi Shutdown From Today, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9QQUZ1vo1c, 2 min 41 secs, published by NDTV.

Sai Baba temple to remain open amid indefinite shutdown at Shirdi city from today, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/sai-baba-temple-to-remain-open-amid-indefinite-shutdown-at-shirdi-city-from-today-11579406161743.html.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Sai_Janmasthan_Temple,_Pathri says, "In 1970s, a field research established that Sai Baba was born in Pathri village. Sri Sai Smarak Samiti (Sai Memorial committee) was then formed in Pathri."

My beloved and revered Gurudev, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has said that Shirdi Sai Baba was born in Pathri. From Sathya Sai discourse on 28-9-1990, http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume23/sss23-28.pdf, "In the former Nizam's dominions, there was a remote village called Pathri. In that village there were a couple named Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma. They were grieving over the lack of children. In answer to their prayers, a son was born on September 28, 1835. Today is the anniversary of that day."

So I believe that Shirdi Sai Baba was born in Pathri.

However, others are free to have a different view, including the residents of holy town of Shirdi.

But is it fair of them to call for Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to withdraw his statement that Shirdi Sai Baba was born in Pathri (in Parbhani district of Maharashtra), and have an indefinite bandh (shutdown) protest for that demand? I don't think so.

They should present their arguments against the statement in a logical and peaceful way with the CM, and use discussions as a way to try to resolve the matter rather than go for indefinite shutdown which is sure to create problems for pilgrims to Shirdi.

Sathyameva Jayate - Truth alone is victorious - is the teaching of Sanathana Dharma. Let debate and discussions of learned and knowledgeable people on the matter decide the issue rather than Shirdi shutdown protests.

Please note that I am a former Mumbaikar who was born, bred and earned a livelihood in Mumbai and its outlying metropolitan area towns (Dombivli).

Further note that I have visited Shirdi a few times while I was living in Dombivli. I have great reverence for Shirdi Sai Baba and consider him to be a beloved and revered Gurudev of mine as I understand him from books about his life and his teachings.

I pray to Bhagavan Sri Shirdi Sai Baba to resolve this matter peacefully without causing trouble to pilgrims visiting Shirdi, and in a way that pacifies residents of holy town of Shirdi. Jai Sai Ram!
==============================

21st Jan. 2020 Update

The bandh was been called off as the town folk were to meet Maharashtra CM on the matter. Note that Rs. 100 crore grant was announced to Pathri by Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to develop it as a spiritual centre and it seems that it was in this context that he said that it was the birthplace of Shirdi Sai Baba.

Shirdi shutdown called off: Meeting on Saibaba birthplace today,  https://www.livemint.com/news/india/shirdi-shutdown-called-off-meeting-on-saibaba-birthplace-today-11579488623168.html, 20th Jan. 2020

Referral: High Noon: Utterly fascinating 1952 Hollywood movie about small town community's cowardly attitude towards law enforcement marshal ...

Readers may want to read my recent post on another blog of mine: High Noon: Utterly fascinating 1952 Hollywood movie about small town community's cowardly attitude towards law enforcement marshal under revenge attack by released convict, https://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com/2020/01/high-noon-utterly-fascinating-1952.html.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Interesting to note that Bing and DuckDuckGo search on: statements of belief in god that is compatible with science, has my Facebook note in top results

Last updated on 17th Jan. 2020

The screenshots below show Bing and DuckDuckGo top results for search on:
statements of belief in god that is compatible with science
[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.]



My two note/post links shown in above screenshots, both of which have similar base contents but the second (blog post) has some additional inputs/thoughts, are:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/ravi-s-iyer/crisp-statements-of-belief-in-god-that-is-compatible-with-science/1889831711233397/

and

https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2017/04/feedback-on-my-adaptation-of-crisp.html

But Google search for the same search string does not list my post(s) in the first forty results (first 4 result pages). It shows a post with similar contents on my iami1.wordpress.com blog - https://iami1.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/crisp-statements-of-belief-in-god-that-is-compatible-with-science/ - as the 44th result (5th page). See screenshot below. Perhaps Google does not give Facebook posts/notes much weightage whereas Bing and DuckDuckGo do.



Yes, the title of the Facebook note matches the search string but even so, as the topic is so generic, I think it is noteworthy that Bing and DuckDuckGo list my note/post(s) in top ten results. And good to know that Google does list similar Wordpress post within top 50 results though only the very deeply interested will go up to the 5th page of results.

Making the search string less specific with the string given below, results in lower search ranks of my Facebook note:
belief in god that is compatible with science
The cropped screenshots below show Bing listing my Facebook note as the 4th result (highlighted result is also repeated as 2nd result) and DuckDuckGo as the 9th result.





Google search does not list my related Facebook or Wordpress or Blogger note/post in its top fifty results!
========================================

I received three responses over email with some of them congratulating me and sharing my happiness over the top Bing & DuckDuckGo search ranking. Given below is a slightly edited version of one of my responses:
Sairam --name-snipped-- sir,

Thanks for your appreciation.

For me, the important thing is that while Dr. Collins' statements of belief were limited to Christian faith, my post has an attempt at expanding it to multiple faiths. Those interested in searching for such crisp statements of belief in multi-faith God that is compatible with science, may be able to easily get my post (and its attempt at that) through Bing/DuckDuckGo search.

I am into joy but not pride. So I am joyful about it and appreciate you sir, sharing my joy.

Thanks & Regards
-----

Good to see 3 visits in past 24 hours to this blog from Bing.com search on: sai baba and advaita vedanta

Decided to put up this post just to share that people are searching for sai baba and advaita vedanta!

I have heard Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba speaking on Advaita Vedanta live in Sai Kulwant Hall on so many occasions. He spoke on the essence of the matter and it is my deep belief that he spoke from direct experience and direct knowledge about Advaita. Swami would refer to Adi Shankara many times.

After Mahasamadhi, somehow the focus is not so much on these teachings and discourses of Bhagavan on Advaita Vedanta.

So I was happy to see today that in the past 24 hours somebody/some people landed up on this blog, on this post: Sathya Sai Baba's Advaita Teachings By John Hislop Ph.D. - Edited Transcript of Video, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2013/11/sathya-sai-babas-advaita-teachings-by.html, 13th Nov. 2013. There were 3 visits and all of them were via Bing search engine. See cropped screenshots below with two of them having a red arrow pointing to relevant info. at bottom of screenshot.

[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 hope more writers will put up freely accessible blog posts on Sathya Sai Baba's teachings on Advaita Vedanta. That will help to better disseminate these vital teachings of Bhagavan.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Quite freaked out by Bing search engine giving my blog post as one of top results for SATHYA SAI BABA ON TRUTH

Last updated on 17th Jan. 2020

I was debating whether I should share this. I decided to share it as I think it may be of interest to some readers, especially those who are bloggers on Sathya Sai and spirituality & religion in general, if not now then perhaps in the future.

I was quite freaked out to see that my blogger stats, a few days ago on 9th Jan., showed a visit to my blog coming from bing search engine (bing.com) on query:
SATHYA SAI BABA ON TRUTH

See pic below showing the source link at the bottom, pointed to by red arrows.

[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.]



The concerned blog post of mine was a November 2014 post: Sathya Sai Baba on Truth from 1958 discourse, https://ravisiyer.blogspot.com/2014/11/sathya-sai-baba-on-truth-from-1958.html.

The post shared the following quote from 1958 discourse of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba which was put up as thought of the day by Prasanthi Reporter - http://www.theprasanthireporter.org/ - for 28th Nov. 2014:

Have faith that Truth will save you in the long run; stick to it, regardless of what might befall. For if you are true, the sense of guilt will not gnaw your insides and cause pain. It is cowardice that makes you hide the truth; it is hatred that sharpens the edge of falsehood. Be bold and there is no need for a lie. Be full of love and there is no need for subterfuge. The easiest habit is speaking the truth, honesty; for if you start telling lies, you will have to keep count of them and remember how many you have told to whom, and be always alert not to contradict one lie with another! Love a person and you need no longer deceive the person with a lie; you will feel that the loved one deserves the truth and nothing less than the truth. Love saves a good deal of bother. (Divine Discourse, March 3, 1958)

--- end Sathya Sai Baba quote ---

I visited bing.com to see how it provides search results for query:
Sathya Sai Baba on truth

And yes, my above mentioned blog post appeared as the 2nd result. See pic below.



It freaked me out somewhat to know this. I mean, somebody is searching on the Internet about what Bhagavan said on truth and comes to my blog post! Google search for the same term, on the other hand, shows the standard and very appropriate sites of sathyasai.org, sssbpt.info as the top results (and none of my blog posts appear in the top results). That is a relief! That's how it should be.

I just tried duckduckgo.com today for search term:
SATHYA SAI BABA ON TRUTH

Shockingly, my above mentioned blogpost is the 2nd result, even if the first result is sathyasai.org site (very appropriately). See pic below.



What this means for me is that I need to be super-careful about what I put up on my main spiritual blog (the above mentioned blog) on Sathya Sai.

Mind you, as I have a lot of blog posts about Muddenahalli and Madhusudan Rao Naidu (spiritual fraud), as expected, some queries on those terms in context of Sathya Sai Baba, give my blog posts among the top results. As I am one of the handful of persons who regularly posted on social media on this matter over a few years, it is natural that some of my posts appear among top results for those terms. [BTW now I am not so active on (posting on) this matter. I think I have done my bit (as very unpleasant duty) and now I focus on other general spiritual, religious and miscellaneous stuff.]

But I had thought that my blog posts on generic matters about Sathya Sai (like his teaching on truth) would come up in search results for searches ***on my blog*** for those terms and not generic search across the Internet!

My blog seems to have achieved some sort of weightage in Bing and DuckDuckGo search engines with respect to Sathya Sai Baba, and so it may show my blog posts among top results for Sathya Sai Baba generic teachings (like on truth) related searches which match my blog posts.

I earnestly pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba that He guides me (as I am sure He has been doing in the past too - I regularly pray to Him) while I write posts about His teachings on social media.
=============================

In my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2723182351231658, associated with this blog post, Terry Reis Kennedy wrote: Congratulations, Ravi.

I (Ravi) responded: Well Terry Reis Kennedy - I don't know whether I am ready for this. But I guess I have no choice but to be super-careful with respect to accuracy about what I write on this blog about Sathya Sai Baba and His teachings, as it may serve to inform some people who search on the net for some specific teachings of Sathya Sai Baba which I have mentioned in my posts.
-----

Friday, January 10, 2020

Interesting to see top ten Internet search ranking of 'Who am I? I am I ...' book for queries on answer to existential reality question: who am I?

Last updated on 10th Jan. 2020

Late yesterday night (early morning today, 10th Jan), I did some searches on well known search engines using anonymous Chrome browser for search terms about: answer to existential reality question: who am I? The results showed my 'Who am I? I am I ...' book among the top ten results! That was nice to know and I thought I should share this with readers.
'Who am I? I am I ...' book paperback version (link has short book description):  https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07K7M2963, free PDF version (link has longer book description and table of contents):  https://archive.org/details/20180424EbookNotPrintColourCoverBWContentsA5WhoAmIIAmINGodNScience.
Given below are screenshots of three search engines (Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo) for search term:
Answer to existential reality question: who am I?

[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.]





Removing the word reality from the search term causes Google to not show the book in the top fifty results (let alone top ten). But Bing shows it as the 4th result and DuckDuckGo as 14th (4th in 2nd set of 10 results) - related pics are given below.

Search term:
Answer to existential question: who am I?



The Internet is quite a democratic medium for views. Otherwise how could my self-published book which is quite unknown really in the book world given the tiny number of people that have read it or have come across it, get ranked so highly across three well known search engines, even if the search term using generic words (not unique to my book) matches the book title?
===========================================

10th Jan. 2020, around 6.50 PM update

I did some more searches today. Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo all give my 'Who am I? I am I ...' book as the top result (excluding Advertisement result marked as 'Ad') for the search term:
Vedanta answer to who am I existential question

[The results are same or similar for search term:
Hindu Vedanta answer to who am I existential question ]

The screenshots below show the results.



[In above screenshot the main Facebook result link is marked as "Ad" indicating Advertisement, which applies to the 4 additional branch Facebook links given below it.]


When the search term is changed to:
Hinduism answer to who am I existential question
the results are as follows:

Google: 18th result:


Bing - 2nd result excluding Facebook Advertisement result:


DuckDuckGo - 2nd result:


The result above is not region specific. US Region specific search gives the same result:


I find the above results to be very encouraging. Through my book (paperback as well as free ebook versions shared on multiple platforms), the great revelation and interpretation of Hindu scripture of Vedanta, specifically the Tat Tvam Asi (You are That) Mahavakya related part of Chandogya Upanishad from the Sama Veda, by great spiritual masters and scholars, including my revered and beloved Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is easily accessible to users searching on the Internet for answers in Hindu Vedanta to the big existential reality question of 'who am I?'. However, to avoid readers of the book getting sidetracked by any misconceptions they may have about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as he is known more among the public at large as a man of miracles rather than for his brilliant and wonderful explanations of the core messages of the Upanishads (Vedanta), I have not referred to him by name in the key Chandogya Upanishad verse interpretations (Vedanta) part as well as most of the other parts of my above book.

BTW I come family-wise from the Sama Veda tradition and so Chandogya Upanishad has a special attraction for me.