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 31st March 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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Hmm. That's quite astonishing! Good for Jainism which has a solid reputation for discipline and asceticism among its religious leaders and followers in India. I am very respectful of devout Jains based on my interactions with some of them, and what I observed of the Jain community in Mumbai/Bombay & Dombivli (near Mumbai) in the past.

"In a new wave of religious tourism, thousands of Japanese nationals have travelled to India and adopted Jainism in recent years.", https://www.facebook.com/TimesofIndia/videos/581305975932804/?t=0
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Fascinating story of how Bhagavan directed a few chosen persons to get the imposing Hanuman statue done. I particularly liked the coverage of Shri Shilpi Subramanian's work and Shri Thillainayagam's work for this statue. I enjoyed seeing pics of younger Shilpi Subramanian sir and Thillainayagam sir with Bhagavan.

In the past, Thillainayagam sir had told me a little about how Bhagavan interacted with him (in Tamil) on this matter. I had enjoyed his narration of Bhagavan's interactions with him in Tamil.

I am sure Bhagavan would have spoken at least partly in Tamil to Shilpi Subramanian sir too on the Hanuman statue work.

Video is around 12 minutes.

https://www.facebook.com/radiosai/videos/988369031543254/?t=0
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Foolish man living in some delusional world! All peace and communal harmony loving Indians should condemn his remarks. Good to see that he is being hauled up before the law.

I felt it appropriate to repeat my belief and public stand:
Sabka Maalik Ek! Eashwar Maalik! Allah Maalik! Yesu Maalik!
The Lord of all (Hindus, Muslims, Christians etc.) is one! Eashwar is the Lord! Allah is the Lord! Jesus is the Lord!

https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2764878410395385?__tn__=-R [links to article about a not-well-known political leader making inciting remarks and FIR being filed against him.]
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Mainly audio + still pic (no video): Chandra Chooda Sivasankara - M.L. Vasanthakumari [still pic shows M.S. Subbulakshmi but singer seems to be M.L. Vasanthakumari], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZMSgbNnzpw, 8 min. 5 secs.
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Mainly audio + still pic (no video): ML Vasanthakumari - Shiva darushana - Madhyamavathi - purandara dAsar, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5HQErkg8H8, 13 min. 55 secs.

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Mainly audio + still pic (no video): Om Namasivaya Namasivaya Gangadhara Hara Namah BY PRIYA SISTERS, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nJz3BThNPo, 7 min. 26 secs.
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Om Namah Shivaya | ఓం నమశివాయ | Sagara Sangamam Movie Full Song | Kamal Haasan | S.P.Shailaja, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW7ujCbbPec, 4 min. 19 secs.
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jai bholenath jai ho prabhu by #gurmukh chughria, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLwglLyDXKg, 3 min. 38 secs.
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Mera Bhola Hai Bhandari | Hansraj Raghuwanshi | Suresh Verma | Offical Video | Paramjeet Pammi |iSur, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaJR15qWTDA, 7 min. 18 secs.
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Hari Om namah Shivaya, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K2yIIE0i08, slightly over 9 mins.
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SANSKRIT SONG from The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDd3iupKUyI, 6 min. 2 secs.
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Om Namah Shivaya - Krishna Das Live! Songs With Lyrics, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTc8X37oJBE, 15 min. 31 secs. "This video was shot in New York City at the Church Of St. Paul & St. Andrew in October 2013 and is part of a full-length kirtan recorded that evening."

Awesome to see so many folks in New York City (USA) enjoying a great Shiva bhajan by Krishna Das!
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Satyam Shivam Sundaram by Vaishali Made Live Music Show - Hemantkumar Musical Group, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RJPTec2CKo, 6 min. 23 secs.
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Agam - Shiv Tandav Stotram Complete | शिवतांडव | Kaun Hai Vo Cover | Bahubali | Lyrical Video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvgd6450Y28, 10 min. 27 secs.
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Shiv Tandav Stotram By Varsha Dwivedi, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH80DUtmLzI, 8 min. 29 secs.
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Jai Ho Bhole Nath Jai Ho Prabhu [Full Song] - Maha Shiv Jagaran - singer: Anuradha Paudwal, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mWUMITlb4k, 5 min. 49 secs.
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My comment on the post:
Wonderful to see this from U.S. Embassy. Thank you. - From an Indian Shiva bhakta (devotee). FB post: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2763740747175818?__tn__=-R
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1 John 4:8, NIV: "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

https://www.bibleref.com/1-John/4/1-John-4-8.html
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Sensitive stuff and one may not agree with everything that Sadhguru Vasudev says, but he has the ***guts*** to speak out on such sensitive issues. Hats off to him for having this courage!

BTW the preview pic is a little controversial (perhaps to grab eyeballs). But I would like to say upfront that Sadhguru Vasudev says that we (referring to Indians) should not forget past invasions (Islamic, British etc.) so that we avoid getting invaded in the future.

Regarding Taj Mahal, Sadhguru says (slightly before 1 min 30 secs into the video): "It doesn't matter who built it, whether you like the people who built it or not. If somebody built something beautiful, we must have an unprejudiced eye to appreciate it." ...
"Definitely, Taj Mahal is a beautiful gem ...".

Sadhguru finally touches upon the fear that happenings in Iraq  (& Syria) in the recent past, has brought to people, and I think he implies that that fear brought about some reactions. He talks of some people using language of the past (referring to invasions into India). He implies that that is not a good thing.

He talks about democratic politics being a numbers game. Towards the end of the video, he touches upon demographic balance in India and says that if that balance is maintained in the future, things will get resolved by itself.

Video is slightly over 7 mins.
================

20th Feb. 2020: I felt I should transcribe part of the video as I think these words of Sadhguru are important and thought-provoking. But I should also say that I am not in a position to comment on whether they are right or not due to lack of detailed knowledge on the topic and other reasons.

Around 5 min. 10 secs. into the video Sadhguru Vasudev says, "Historically, many ugly things have been done by different people. Ugly things that have happened to us as a nation - we must remember. ... What others have done to us we must remember. But we should not become bitter because this bitterness will destroy us. Why we should remember is: so that we don't make the same mistakes and get into the same pit once again. That's very important for us.

But, at the same time, if today, let's say UK spoke the same language that it spoke during the colonial era, definitely we will not accept them. Unfortunately, with certain groups of people - they are trying to speak the same language which was historically spoken way back. So this creates a whole lot of confrontation in the society.

And the entire misuse of this for democratic purposes - when I say democratic purposes - because it's all a number game. So people are playing this game for last 70 years. So naturally you have kind of brought this little bit of fear in others. Fear means - people are seeing what's happening in Iraq and the Islamic State and stuff - what happened in Kashmir. So people think if these numbers increase, this will happen to us also. Because it's happened in the past.

So I feel if one thing stops, I think this entire little bit of heat going on between communities will die. That is - you don't try to change the dynamics of demographics. Just let it stay this (way) for the next hundred years without anybody trying to increase numbers, you will see everything will level out. This is the only fear. That's why there is reaction.

https://www.facebook.com/SadhguruUsa14/videos/129808181640950/
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Good development update here: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2714273985455828
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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]
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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.]
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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.]
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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.
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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
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