Friday, 30 December 2011

The Chárváka System

Mádhava Áchárya 

[Madhavacharya was a minister of the Vijayanagara empire. He later became the 12th Jagadguru of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham from 1380 to 1386CE. He is the author of Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha, a compendium of Indian Philosopy, which discusses sixteen philosophical views. The Carvaka System (reproduced below) forms the first chapter. Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha was translated into English by Edward Byles Cowell and Archibald Edward Gough and was published at intervals in the periodical Pandit between 1874 and 1878. It appeared in book form in 1904. The entire book is available online at the Project Guttenberg]

The Prologue

1. I worship Śiva, the abode of eternal knowledge, the storehouse of supreme felicity; by whom the earth and the rest were produced, in him only has this all a maker.
2. Daily I follow my Guru Sarvajña-Vishṇu, who knows all the Ágamas, the son of Śárṅgapáṇi, who has gone to the further shore of the seas of all the systems, and has contented the hearts of all mankind by the proper meaning of the term Soul.
3. The synopsis of all the systems is made by the venerable Mádhava mighty in power, the Kaustubha-jewel of the milk-ocean of the fortunate Sáyaṇa.
4. Having thoroughly searched the Śástras of former teachers, very hard to be crossed, the fortunate Sáyaṇa-Mádhava1 the lord has expounded them for the delight of the good. Let the virtuous listen with a mind from which all envy has been far banished; who finds not delight in a garland strung of various flowers?

Chapter I

The Chárváka System

[We have said in our preliminary invocation "salutation to Śiva, the abode of eternal knowledge, the storehouse of supreme felicity,"] but how can we attribute to the Divine Being the giving of supreme felicity, when such a notion has been utterly abolished by Chárváka, the crest-gem of the atheistical school, the follower of the doctrine of Bṛihaspati? The efforts of Chárváka are indeed hard to be eradicated, for the majority of living beings hold by the current refrain—

While life is yours, live joyously; None can escape Death's searching eye: When once this frame of ours they burn, How shall it e'er again return?
The mass of men, in accordance with the Śástras of policy and enjoyment, considering wealth and desire the only ends of man, and denying the existence of any object belonging to a future world, are found to follow only the doctrine of Chárváka. Hence another name for that school is Lokáyata,—a name well accordant with the thing signified.2

In this school the four elements, earth, &c., are the [3]original principles; from these alone, when transformed into the body, intelligence is produced, just as the inebriating power is developed from the mixing of certain ingredients;3 and when these are destroyed, intelligence at once perishes also. They quote the Śruti for this [Bṛihad Áraṇy. Up. ii. 4, 12], "Springing forth from these elements, itself solid knowledge, it is destroyed when they are destroyed,—after death no intelligence remains."4 Therefore the soul is only the body distinguished by the attribute of intelligence, since there is no evidence for any soul distinct from the body, as such cannot be proved, since this school holds that perception is the only source of knowledge and does not allow inference, &c.

The only end of man is enjoyment produced by sensual pleasures. Nor may you say that such cannot be called the end of man as they are always mixed with some kind of pain, because it is our wisdom to enjoy the pure pleasure as far as we can, and to avoid the pain which inevitably accompanies it; just as the man who desires fish takes the fish with their scales and bones, and having taken as many as he wants, desists; or just as the man who desires rice, takes the rice, straw and all, and having taken as much as he wants, desists. It is not therefore for us, through a fear of pain, to reject the pleasure which our nature instinctively recognises as congenial. Men do not refrain from sowing rice, because forsooth there are wild animals to devour it; nor do they refuse to set the cooking-pots on the fire, because forsooth there are beggars to pester us for a share of the contents. If any one were so timid as to forsake a visible pleasure, he would indeed be foolish like a beast, as has been said by the poet—

The pleasure which arises to men from contact with sensible objects, Is to be relinquished as accompanied by pain,—such is the reasoning of fools; The berries of paddy, rich with the finest white grains, What man, seeking his true interest, would fling away because covered with husk and dust?5
If you object that, if there be no such thing as happiness in a future world, then how should men of experienced wisdom engage in the agnihotra and other sacrifices, which can only be performed with great expenditure of money and bodily fatigue, your objection cannot be accepted as any proof to the contrary, since the agnihotra, &c., are only useful as means of livelihood, for the Veda is tainted by the three faults of untruth, self-contradiction, and tautology;6 then again the impostors who call themselves Vaidic pundits are mutually destructive, as the authority of the jñána-káṇḍa is overthrown by those who maintain that of the karma-káṇḍa, while those who maintain the authority of the jñána-káṇḍa reject that of the karma-káṇḍa; and lastly, the three Vedas themselves are only the incoherent rhapsodies of knaves, and to this effect runs the popular saying—

The Agnihotra, the three Vedas, the ascetic's three staves, and smearing oneself with ashes,—

Bṛihaspati says, these are but means of livelihood for those who have no manliness nor sense.

Hence it follows that there is no other hell than mundane pain produced by purely mundane causes, as thorns, &c.; the only Supreme is the earthly monarch whose existence is proved by all the world's eyesight; and the only Liberation is the dissolution of the body. By holding the doctrine that the soul is identical with the body, such phrases as "I am thin," "I am black," &c., are at once intelligible, as the attributes of thinness, &c., and self-consciousness will reside in the same subject [the body]; like and the use of the phrase "my body" is metaphorical "the head of Ráhu" [Ráhu being really all head].

All this has been thus summed up—

In this school there are four elements, earth, water, fire, and air; And from these four elements alone is intelligence produced,— Just like the intoxicating power from kiṇwa, &c., mixed together; Since in "I am fat," "I am lean," these attributes7 abide in the same subject, And since fatness, &c., reside only in the body,8 it alone is the soul and no other, And such phrases as "my body" are only significant metaphorically.
"Be it so," says the opponent; "your wish would be gained if inference, &c., had no force of proof; but then they have this force; else, if they had not, then how, on perceiving smoke, should the thoughts of the intelligent immediately proceed to fire; or why, on hearing another say, 'There are fruits on the bank of the river,' do those who desire fruit proceed at once to the shore?"

All this, however, is only the inflation of the world of fancy.

Those who maintain the authority of inference accept the sign or middle term as the causer of knowledge, which middle term must be found in the minor and be itself invariably connected with the major.9 Now this invariable connection must be a relation destitute of any condition accepted or disputed;10 and this connection does not possess its power of causing inference by virtue of its existence, as the eye, &c., are the cause of perception, but by virtue of its being known. What then is the means of this connection's being known?

We will first show that it is not perception. Now perception is held to be of two kinds, external and internal [i.e., as produced by the external senses, or by the inner sense, mind]. The former is not the required means; for although it is possible that the actual contact of the senses and the object will produce the knowledge of the particular object thus brought in contact, yet as there can never be such contact in the case of the past or the future, the universal proposition11 which was to embrace the invariable connection of the middle and major terms in every case becomes impossible to be known. Nor may you maintain that this knowledge of the universal proposition has the general class as its object, because if so, there might arise a doubt as to the existence of the invariable connection in this particular case12 [as, for instance, in this particular smoke as implying fire].

Nor is internal perception the means, since you cannot establish that the mind has any power to act independently towards an external object, since all allow that it is dependent on the external senses, as has been said by one of the logicians, "The eye, &c., have their objects as described; but mind externally is dependent on the others."

Nor can inference be the means of the knowledge of the universal proposition, since in the case of this inference we should also require another inference to establish it, and so on, and hence would arise the fallacy of an ad infinitum retrogression.

Nor can testimony be the means thereof, since we may either allege in reply, in accordance with the Vaiśeshika doctrine of Kaṇáda, that this is included in the topic of inference; or else we may hold that this fresh proof of testimony is unable to leap over the old barrier that stopped the progress of inference, since it depends itself on the recognition of a sign in the form of the language used in the child's presence by the old man;13 and, moreover, there is no more reason for our believing on another's word that smoke and fire are invariably connected, than for our receiving the ipse dixit of Manu, &c. [which, of course, we Chárvákas reject].

And again, if testimony were to be accepted as the only means of the knowledge of the universal proposition, then in the case of a man to whom the fact of the invariable connection between the middle and major terms had not been pointed out by another person, there could be no inference of one thing [as fire] on seeing another thing [as smoke]; hence, on your own showing, the whole topic of inference for oneself14 would have to end in mere idle words.

Then again comparison,15 &c., must be utterly rejected as the means of the knowledge of the universal proposition, since it is impossible that they can produce the knowledge of the unconditioned connection [i.e., the universal proposition], because their end is to produce the knowledge of quite another connection, viz., the relation of a name to something so named.

Again, this same absence of a condition,16 which has been given as the definition of an invariable connection [i.e., a universal proposition], can itself never be known; since it is impossible to establish that all conditions must be objects of perception; and therefore, although the absence of perceptible things may be itself perceptible, the absence of non-perceptible things must be itself non-perceptible; and thus, since we must here too have recourse to inference, &c., we cannot leap over the obstacle which has already been planted to bar them. Again, we must accept as the definition of the condition, "it is that which is reciprocal or equipollent in extension17 with the major term though not constantly accompanying the middle." These three distinguishing clauses, "not constantly accompanying the middle term," "constantly accompanying the major term," and "being constantly accompanied by it" [i.e., reciprocal], are needed in the full definition to stop respectively three such fallacious conditions, in the argument to prove the non-eternity of sound, as "being produced," "the nature of a jar," and "the not causing audition;"18 wherefore the definition holds,—and again it is established by the śloka of the great Doctor beginning samásama.19

But since the knowledge of the condition must here precede the knowledge of the condition's absence, it is only when there is the knowledge of the condition, that the knowledge of the universality of the proposition is possible, i.e., a knowledge in the form of such a connection between the middle term and major term as is distinguished by the absence of any such condition; and on the other hand, the knowledge of the condition depends upon the knowledge of the invariable connection. Thus we fasten on our opponents as with adamantine glue the thunderbolt-like fallacy of reasoning in a circle. Hence by the impossibility of knowing the universality of a proposition it becomes impossible to establish inference, &c.20

The step which the mind takes from the knowledge of smoke, &c., to the knowledge of fire, &c., can be accounted for by its being based on a former perception or by its being an error; and that in some cases this step is justified by the result, is accidental just like the coincidence of effects observed in the employment of gems, charms, drugs, &c.

From this it follows that fate, &c.,21 do not exist, since these can only be proved by inference. But an opponent will say, if you thus do not allow adṛishṭa, the various phenomena of the world become destitute of any cause.

But we cannot accept this objection as valid, since these phenomena can all be produced spontaneously from the inherent nature of things. Thus it has been said—

The fire is hot, the water cold, refreshing cool the breeze of morn; By whom came this variety? from their own nature was it born.
And all this has been also said by Bṛihaspati—

There is no heaven, no final liberation, nor any soul in another world,  
Nor do the actions of the four castes, orders, &c., produce any real effect.  
The Agnihotra, the three Vedas, the ascetic's three staves, and smearing one's self with ashes,  
Were made by Nature as the livelihood of those destitute of knowledge and manliness.
If a beast slain in the Jyotishṭoma rite will itself go to heaven,  
Why then does not the sacrificer forthwith offer his own father?22
If the Śráddha produces gratification to beings who are dead,
Then here, too, in the case of travellers when they start, it is needless to give provisions for the journey.
If beings in heaven are gratified by our offering the Śráddha here,
Then why not give the food down below to those who are standing on the housetop?  
While life remains let a man live happily, let him feed on ghee even though he runs in debt;  
When once the body becomes ashes, how can it ever return again?  
If he who departs from the body goes to another world,  
How is it that he comes not back again, restless for love of his kindred?
Hence it is only as a means of livelihood that Brahmans have established here  
All these ceremonies for the dead,—there is no other fruit anywhere.  
The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons.  
All the well-known formulæ of the pandits, jarpharí, turpharí, &c.23  
And all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in the Aśwamedha,  
These were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests,24  
While the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons.

Hence in kindness to the mass of living beings must we fly for refuge to the doctrine of Chárváka. Such is the pleasant consummation.


1 Dr. A. C. Burnell, in his preface to his edition of the Vaṃśa-Bráhmaṇa, has solved the riddle of the relation of Mádhava and Sáyaṇa. Sáyaṇa is a pure Draviḍian name given to a child who is born after all the elder children have died. Mádhava elsewhere calls Sáyaṇa his "younger brother," as an allegorical description of his body, himself being the eternal soul. His use of the term Sáyaṇa-Mádhavaḥ here (not the dual) seems to prove that the two names represent the same person. The body seems meant by the Sáyaṇa of the third śloka. Máyaṇa was the father of Mádhava, and the true reading may be śríman-máyaṇa.

2 "Śaṅkara, Bháskara, and other commentators name the Lokáyatikas, and these appear to be a branch of the Sect of Chárváka" (Colebrooke). Lokáyata may be etymologically analysed as "prevalent in the world" (loka and áyata). Laukáyatika occurs in Páṇini's ukthagaṇa.

Kiṇwa is explained as "drug or seed used to produce fermentation in the manufacture of spirits from sugar, bassia, &c." Colebrooke quotes from Śaṅkara: "The faculty of thought results from a modification of the aggregate elements in like manner as sugar with a ferment and other ingredients becomes an inebriating liquor; and as betel, areca, lime, and extract of catechu chewed together have an exhilarating property not found in those substances severally."

4 Of course Śaṅkara, in his commentary, gives a very different interpretation, applying it to the cessation of individual existence when the knowledge of the Supreme is once attained. Cf. Śabara's Comm. Jaimini Sút., i. i. 5.

5 I take kaṇa as here equal to the Bengali kunṛ. Cf. Atharva-V., xi. 3, 5. Aśváḥ kaṇá gávas taṇḍulá maśakás tusháḥ.

6 See Nyáya Sútras, ii. 57.

7 I.e., personality and fatness, &c.

8 I read dehe for dehaḥ.

Literally, "must be an attribute of the subject and have invariable concomitance (vyápti)."

10 For the sandigdha and niśchita upádhi see Siddhánta Muktávali, p. 125. The former is accepted only by one party.

11 Literally, the knowledge of the invariable concomitance (as of smoke by fire).

12 The attributes of the class are not always found in every member,—thus idiots are men, though man is a rational animal; and again, this particular smoke might be a sign of a fire in some other place.

13 See Sáhitya Darpaṇa (Ballantyne's trans. p. 16), and Siddhánta-M., p. 80.

14 The properly logical, as distinguished from the rhetorical, argument.

15 "Upamána or the knowledge of a similarity is the instrument in the production of an inference from similarity. This particular inference consists in the knowledge of the relation of a name to something so named." Ballantyne's Tarka Sangraha.

16 The upádhi is the condition which must be supplied to restrict a too general middle term, as in the inference "the mountain has smoke because it has fire," if we add wet fuel as the condition of the fire, the middle term will be no longer too general. In the case of a true vyápti, there is, of course, no upádhi.

17 'Αντιστρἑφει (Pr. Anal., ii. 25). We have here our A with distributed predicate.

18 If we omitted the first clause, and only made the upádhi "that which constantly accompanies the major term and is constantly accompanied by it," then in the Naiyáyika argument "sound is non-eternal, because it has the nature of sound," "being produced" would serve as a Mímáṃsaka upádhi, to establish the vyabhichára fallacy, as it is reciprocal with "non-eternal;" but the omitted clause excludes it, as an upádhi must be consistent with either party's opinions, and, of course, the Naiyáyika maintains that "being produced" always accompanies the class of sound. Similarly, if we defined the upádhi as "not constantly accompanying the middle term and constantly accompanied by the major," we might have as an upádhi "the nature of a jar," as this is never found with the middle term (the class or nature of sound only residing in sound, and that of a jar only in a jar), while, at the same time, wherever the class of jar is found there is also found non-eternity. Lastly, if we defined the upádhi as "not constantly accompanying the middle term, and constantly accompanying the major," we might have as a Mímáṃsaka upádhi "the not causing audition," i.e., the not being apprehended by the organs of hearing; but this is excluded, as non-eternity is not always found where this is, ether being inaudible and yet eternal.

19 This refers to an obscure śloka of Udayanáchárya, "where a reciprocal and a non-reciprocal universal connection (i.e., universal propositions which severally do and do not distribute their predicates) relate to the same argument (as e.g., to prove the existence of smoke), there that non-reciprocating term of the second will be a fallacious middle, which is not invariably accompanied by the other reciprocal of the first." Thus "the mountain has smoke because it has fire" (here fire and smoke are non-reciprocating, as fire is not found invariably accompanied by smoke though smoke is by fire), or "because it has fire from wet fuel" (smoke and fire from wet fuel being reciprocal and always accompanying each other); the non-reciprocating term of the former (fire) will give a fallacious inference, because it is also, of course, not invariably accompanied by the special kind of fire, that produced from wet fuel. But this will not be the case where the non-reciprocating term is thus invariably accompanied by the other reciprocal, as "the mountain has fire because it has smoke;" here, though fire and smoke do not reciprocate, yet smoke will be a true middle, because it is invariably accompanied by heat, which is the reciprocal of fire. I wish to add here, once for all, that I own my explanation of this, as well as many another, difficulty in the Sarva-darśana-śaṅgraha to my old friend and teacher, Paṇḍit Maheśa Chandra Nyáyaratna, of the Calcutta Sanskrit College.

20 Cf. Sextus Empiricus, P. Hyp. ii. In the chapter on the Buddhist system infra, we have an attempt to establish the authority of the universal proposition from the relation of cause and effect or genus and species.

21 Adṛishṭa, i.e., the merit and demerit in our actions which produce their effects in future births.

22 This is an old Buddhist retort. See Burnouf, Introd., p. 209.

23  Rig-Veda, x. 106. For the Aśwamedha rites, see Wilson's Rig-Veda, Preface, vol. ii. p. xiii.

24 Or this may mean "and all the various other things to be handled in the rites."

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Bhagavad Gita and Anti-Corruption Movement - A Bunch of Thoughts

Kesahava Shet Revankar

(Here is an interesting take on the on-going anti-corruption movement. The author, an octogenarian, was an officer with MIG Aircraft Division, HAL, Nasik, and now spends his time between Kundapur (Karnataka) and Dubai)

This article is an attempt to show the parallel between Anna Hazare of Jan Lokpal Bill (JLP) and Krishna of Bhagavad Gita. Anna Hazare belongs to Mahratta caste and is being supported by the Saffron outfit called BJP, who primed him with a slogan "Jan Lokpal" and using him as a spiritual Leader to come to power. Krishna who belongs to Yadava Caste was a folk- hero darling of milkmaids and later became a shrewd, flamboyant, manipulative politician among Aryan kings (If at all this is History). His name is used by the parivar of Vedic /Sanskrit scholars, promoted him as Vishnu’s Avatar with divine power and put words in his mouth to implement their agenda through the document - Bhagavad Gita.(BG) The circumstances too are similar. While the Sangh Parivar wants to grab power by hook or crook, the Vaidic Purohitshahi wanted to perpetuate "Chatur Varna" & the Brhaminic supremacy over the entire Hindu society. Both are Political Agendas.

After the banishment of Buddhism, Hindu society became increasingly supernatural centered society -lured by abstract, magical, and divinely approved Brahminic ceremonial purity. Such a society provides a fertile ground for mushroom like growth of charlatans, Babas of double Sri types, fake spiritual Gurus, predator-astrologers, self deluding Yoga-packages and ever increasing priestly-shenanigans. Modern science has placed in their hands gadgets like cell-phones etc, but the minds are firmly set in the medieval times Such a society encourages some clever individuals to invent modi operandi to create spiritual facade around them.

The evils of mankind are caused by the Individual's self-transcending identification with groups whose common denominator is low intelligence and high emotionality (Arthur Koestler). Anna Hazare found at the right time, a self-transcending cause of 'corruption' and got the backing of such groups who were fueled by a political force – the saffron outfits. These groups have short memory and are totally blank about history.

Just before Anna announced his resolve of fasting, he was accosted by a lady reporter from a TV channel. During the conversation he was heard uttering, as though mumbling to himself, a few words from Bhagavad Gita -"Sambhawami.Yuge Yuge”. Krishna had said that whenever evil becomes predominant he will appear millennium after millennium to restore morality. Krishna never came even after 3500 years as promised. Perhaps Anna Saheb might have thought to himself that now is the right time to do something Big.

As regards Anna Hazare, he comes from a humble background of Mahratta caste, joined Indian Amy, came out and settled in his village Ralegav Siddhi. Seeing the conditions in the village his Army discipline prompted him to bring about some reform. Hundred others, men and women, did become sensitive to social issues and have done significant service in the rural areas. Anna Hazare took up issue of corruption and found success in a few cases of corruption in his state. One significant fact is that all the while he was leading an absolutely simple life, may be reading Bhagavad Gita in Marathi and taking part in singing Bhajans in a temple. This has created a halo around him and people started touching his feet wherever he went. When the mega-corruption cases came to light and the government .succeeded in sending half a dozen prominent men behind bars, the saffron front were frantic to snatch some credit to themselves and found Anna the right choice to stage a huge agitation. They unleashed their cadre of RSS and ABVP to mobilize and lift Anna on the national Arena. Thus a team of Father, Son, and a Holy Ghost and two archangels was formed which created a high decibel cacophony with the Mantra "J.L.P Bill“ to give an impression to the masses that this will banish corruption overnight.

The overflowing of self-righteousness becomes hubris of spiritual kind which has made Anna Saheb loose his track and his later utterances showed that he has lost his mind also. There are 70000 villages like his village which are dens of superstitions and a large section of society in towns and villages has sunk to a frightening depth of obscurantism in recent past. He should  realise that corruption is ingrained in the Hindu-Psyche. From childhood to the grave Hindu has to bribe Gods through priests, for every desire and problem, and every God has given a package of rituals to the priests. Marking of  Hindutva on the forehead has become a fashion, so much so that in a  few years it is feared that their grey cells may turn Saffron

Let me quote what Dr.Prabhakara Kamath, a practicing psychiatrist in USA, has written in March 2011 ( “Since God is invisible, first made him visible making an idol of him (what is MAYA, the cosmic illusion, is brought down and formed into a legion of deities by our crafty Purohiths} put him on a pedestal and built a structure over him to protect him from nature. In the morning wake him up from sleep by ringing bells and beating drums. Then bathe him with abhisheka, deodorize him with sandal wood paste, dress him with silk pithambara, adorn him with flowers and jewels, entertain him with songs and dance routine, praise him with mantras and bhajans, warm him with Aarthi, feed him with rice, coconuts and bananas, offer him smoke of yajna, take him for a ride on palanquins and chariots, bribe him with donations so on and so forth. If these activities are not plain stupid, what is it? Thus deluded by brahminic shenanigans, millions of people visit these temple-casinos hoping in vain that these Gods would some how fulfill their desires and protect them from evils of life. And the Brahmins operating these temple-casino-complexes are having a good laugh at the stupid people lining up to get a darshan of their stone idols while the priests are lining their own deep pockets with cash. It is disgusting to see well adorned modern rich ladies bringing home made butter and curds and smearing them on the stone "phallus" in Shiva temples. Most of the ancient tribal people were worshipping both male and female reproductive symbols in stone as fertility rites Hebrew Heathen Religion-Chap. 8 describes the cult in full details. Later this 'Phallic Symbol' of Hebrew tribes became the symbol of their supreme God, “Jehovah”. In India, people are still practising this tribal cult.

Since Anna Saheb is not able to read BG with critical insight, only ‘Sambhawami Yuge Yuge' inspired him. So. It is necessary to tell him the truth. The renowned historian Damodhar Dharmanand Kosambi has come to this conclusion that the "Gita with all its brilliant Sanskrit and superb inconsistencies, is a book that allows the reader to justify almost any action while shrugging off its consequences" Even though some profound Upanishadic thoughts are scattered here and there, ambiguities and contradictions galore. Listing them chapter by chapter is out of scope of this article. Only a few are mentioned here.

The first chapter itself is a 'license' to kill to Arjun. Bhagavad Gita rationalizes and justifies killing of one's near and dear ones glorifying the duty of a kshatriya. What a pervert philosophy to come from a divinity! All the saints and prophets spoke of Humanity as one but, Bhagavad Gita justifies Genocide .In Chap.4:13, Krishna says "Even though I created "Chatur Varna" (Four Castes), I can not roll back" giving an eternal warranty clause to the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. The consequences were tragic. The four castes divided into thousands of castes. Division always brings conflicts. Thus we see now thousand conflicts, thousand loyalties, and thousand mutinies. Chatur Varna killed communion within each caste and across castes. Community building was rarely seen in India. As individuals become self-centered their concern is only for own family and their gods. Krishna's Chatur Varna killed egalitarianism and compassion within castes and between castes. Shudras were made to obey the Divine mandate that there is salvation in servitude. [Chap.18:44]. As they can not dream of a better life their creativity and productivity got destroyed over time. As each caste followed their Kula Dharma (caste based occupation) and Kula Deva (Family Deity), what was inherited at birth got transmitted to the blood-line and this became part of the person himself. These castes remained stagnant for centuries. That is how social "entropy" increased over 2000 years. The result of which is the present heart rending poverty in many parts of the country. Even if the State injects thousands of crores of money state could not bring about negative Entropy.

Krishna tells in Chap.9:32-33 that women, Shudras and Vaishyas are of sinful origin (papa yoni). They have to surrender to him and sing bhajans all their life to deserve a place in His abode (Vaikunta). But Brahmins and Kshatriyas were already blessed. The author forgot that these two are also born to women. How absurd is this?

When Bhagavad Gita was presented as the Divine mandate by a conclave (Parivar) of Vaidic Priests there was no debate, as rulers found that ruling of their kingdom was made easy, when 80 percent of the populace was condemned as Shudras and their servitude was guaranteed. There was no Media and whatever Priests said was law. Now the very same forces have bought the Media to create an avatar of Anna. Mainstream Visual Media has given the impression that they are intellectually bankrupt and are only obsessed with the TRP and are subservient to their corporate bosses.

Hazare should now go around the country and exhort Hindus not to bribe the Gods. Instead of mixing bhajans with politics and making it a cocktail of spiritual fascisms, he should pray to gods to divest their hoarded gold and cash worth a trillion rupees. for the welfare of the poor. He should realize that no other people in the world spend so much money, time and energy on an illusion of immortality created by Brahminism.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Science versus Miracles: Performing "Miracles" with Fire!

B Premanand

 Burning camphor on the hand and waving it in front of the idol, without apparent injury

In 1977, a film artist of Kerala published an article challenging us to burn camphor on the hand and wave it before the idol in the temple. He said that his godman, Swami Satyananda Saraswathi, the International Presidentof Vishwa HinduParishad, burns camphor on his hand and waves it before the idol of Shri Rama in his temple. This was considered to be a miracle.

He was told that this stunt is done by children of five. And in the end they even eat the fire. If his godman really has supernatural powers let him keep the camphor n his beard, light it, and wave it before the idol without getting his beard singed. The godman did not accept the challenge.

Experiment -18

Prof Narendra Nayak training a volunteer to perform the act
Effect:  Burning camphor on one’s palm and then eating fire without getting burnt.

Props:  Large camphor cube (pure and not synthetic) and a match box.

Method: Hold the camphor cube with the thumb and index finger of the left hand and light it. Keeping the burning camphor on the palm, wave the light before the audience telling them that your god is life-consciousness and so you are waving the light before them instead of an idol. See that the camphor piece does not remain long on the same place but is moved about on the palm while waving. When the palm gets hot, transfer the camphor to the left hand and wave the light and again to the right hand when the left hand becomes hot. Later, when both the hand have absorbed enough heat and might burn, place the burning camphor on your tongue. When you feel the tongue getting hot, blow out the fire by breathing out, or close the mouth and the fire will get extinguished by itself.

Eating fire is simpler than having the fire on the palms or body. In school we do an experiment of boiling water in a paper cup. Until the water evaporates the paper cup does not get burnt. Similarly, while keeping the burning camphor on the tongue let the tongue be wet with saliva so that it does not burn.

Fire need oxygen to burn and what we breathe out is carbon dioxide which extinguishes the flame. So when you feel hot in the mouth breathe out. Or close the mouth and the fire will get extinguished instantly. Don’t breathe in with fire in your mouth.

There are countless fire tricks and stunts. Try to touch your skin with a lighter cigarette. The skin will immediately burn. The most sensitive part of our skin is the tongue. Now – can you extinguish a lighted cigarette on the tongue without burning the tongue?

Experiment – 19

Effect:  The tongue or fingers will not burn when you extinguish a lighted cigarette.

Props:  Cigarette, matchbox, and ice cube.

Method: If a lighted cigarette is pressed on the skin it will immediately burn. This is because the heat generated by tobacco is immediately absorbed by the skin.

  • With saliva on your tongue, press and release the burning cigarette end on the tongue two or three times. It will get extinguished without burning the tongue.
  • Freeze your thumb and the index fingers with an ice cube and then press the burning cigarette end with these fingers. It will get extinguished and the fingers will not be burnt.

Experiment- 20

Effect: Hold a hot metal ball on your palm without getting burnt.

Props: Metal ball, tweezers, heater, ice slab and a metal bucket with cold water.

Method: Freeze your palms on the ice slab until it becomes numb. Place the red hot metal on your palm with the tweezers and let it immediately fall in the bucket of water to produce a sizzling sound. The pal will not burn because it takes time to absorb heat since it is frozen.

Experiment: 21

Effect: Dipping your finger in molten lead without getting burnt.

Props: Pure lead, crucible, burner and a ladle.
Prof Jearl Walker of Cleavland University

Method: Melt pure lead in a crucible and remove the scum completely with a ladle. The finger and the hand should be absolutely dry. Insert a finger straight into the molten lead and withdraw it, not swiftly but deliberately. The lead being only 400 °C hot, will have no time to burn the finger, nor will it stick to the finger since it rolls of a dry surface.

(Note: This is due to Leidenfrost effect - "a phenomenon in which a liquid, in near contact with a mass significantly hotter than the liquid's boiling point, produces an insulating vapor layer which keeps that liquid from boiling rapidly" 

Effect: The hand is dipped in boiling oil without getting burnt

Props: One frying pan to hold about two liters of oil, one liter cooking oil, stove and one lemon (big).

Method: Pour the cooking oil in the pot with the lemon juice squeezed in the oil stealthily. Place it on the fire. Before the oil get hot and boiling, the lime juice settled at the bottom of the pot boils first and oil appears to bubble when the steam is released. It seems as if the oil is boiling hot. Immerse your hand in the oil and take it out. The boil will be only warm and not boiling, though it looks like boilingoil to the viewers.

Experiment – 23

Effect: Frying poories in boiling oil and taking them out by hand.
Hot bajjis are being taken out of boiling oil with bare fingers

Props: Wheat flour or maida flour, water, plate, instrument to make poories, cooking oil and a stove.

Method: Prepare poories with the flour (one dozen). Boiling the oil, put in the oil, poories and as soon as it is fried, put underneath the fried poorie an unbaked one and pick up the fire one by fingers, it will not burn. Beforehand apply the same oil on your hand.

The science behind this feat is that when you put a fresh poorie under the fired one, the heat of the top oil is absorbed by the fresh one, and your fingers will not et burn. The oil applied on the hand before dipping also insulates the hand.

(Note: Those items involving fire and other dangerous substances should be performed only under proper guidance)

Babri Demolition to Anna Hazare - Changing Strategies of RSS Politics

Ram Puniyani

This December, Babri demolition act completed its 19years. On the occasion many a Muslim groups demanded the reconstruction of the masjid. This demand is just but is mired in many a complex legalities and is trapped in the politics in which there are many diverse players. One again needs to clarify that Hindutva is not a religion of Hindus. Religion of Hindus is Hinduism. Hindutva is the politics of RSS; it is a politics with sectarian vision. This is the vision of affluent upper caste- elite aiming to abolish democracy. Hindutva aims to bring a nation in the name of Hindu religion where the upper crust of society can rule as per the norms prevalent in feudal society. The trick involved here is that these norms of feudal society, the birth based hierarchy, is presented as a glorious tradition and in given the modern language and form.

Demolition of Babri Masjid was a demolition of a national monument; it was also the beginning of a phase of politics where the communal undercurrents of Indian politics menacingly came to the surface. It was a signal for the violence against minorities at a higher pitch. It was a blatant insult of whatever Indian Constitution stands for. It was also the first major step for communal parties to come to occupy the seats of power in the Centre.

After the initial sacking of the BJP Governments in the states where it was ruling, the polarization caused by demolition and post demolition violence went to frightening level and the communal party, BJP, which was at the margins of political structure, came to the fore as the major opposition party. Its parent organization, the real controller of Hindutva politics, RSS, started becoming more respectable and the social thinking was further vitiated with the biases against minorities. In due course the other minority the Christians were also brought under the firing range of the communalists leading to the ghastly burning of Pastor Graham Stains and later scattered attacks on Christian missionaries working in Adivasi areas, leading to massive Kandhmal carnage were witnessed.

For the first time BJP, the party inherently committed to the anti democratic notion of Hindu Rashtra, grabbed the power at the Centre in 1996, when all other parties correctly refused to ally with it to share the spoils of power. But that changed soon enough and other political parties, obsessed with power opportunistically started sharing power with those accused of Babri demolition, those whose affiliates incited not only the demolition but also the violence against minorities in different guises. The coming to power of BJP at centre opened the floodgates of the political space that goes with power, and the task of RSS progeny, VHP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram got facilitated. The state apparatus, police bureaucracy got more communalized.  The education was communalized more openly with a tinge of promoting faith based knowledge at the cost of the scientific temper and rational thought.

 This also paved the way for further victories for BJP. The success of RSS propaganda is not merely that it targets the minorities; its bigger success is that it instils the fear in the mind of majority about the ‘threat’ of minority. There is a ripple effect of this process and then a section of ‘middle of the road elements’ also start turning over to support the Hindutva parties. Karnataka opened the floodgates of BJP for its entry into South. The political ideology of BJP and its group is gaining ascendance.

 The Babri demolition led to multiple processes, denial of justice to victims of violence became structural, and the minorities started being relegated to second class citizenship. The demonization of minorities has by now gone to extreme levels. Christians are also being meted out the same treatment, particularly in Adivasi areas. This process of demonization of Muslim minorities later started being created around the issue related to terrorism. US propaganda after the 9/11, in which US created monster of Al Qaeda was the central force, brought immense disrepute to Islam and Muslims. US media coined the word Islamic terrorism, and the politics for control over oil resources was taken to absurd ideological manipulation and a religion and a religious community were subjected to immense targeting. In India also the propaganda against Muslims was taken to much worse levels with the global phenomenon of terror, falsely and cleverly attributed to teachings of Islam and Muslims.

 Now the RSS-BJP politics is entering the new phase. Having reached the acme of anti minority polarization, it has found the Anna Hazare movement as the new vehicle for its politics of undermining democratic institutions to bring in a parallel authoritarian structure where the Lok Pal plays the big brother. Though this sounds innocuous and is presented as a step to solve the problems, this is likely to create a new institution, beyond the control of democratic norms. Few people and groups who are calling the shots and asserting that they are ‘The People’, ‘Anna is above Parliament’, will rule through proxies of various types. This Anna movement has polarized the social layers according to those who look at either identity issues (Ram Temple) or symptomatic issues (Corruption) as the major issues while undermining the problems of dalits, minorities and other deprived sections of society. Identity issues or issues focused around symptoms, which are meant to preserve the status quo of political dynamics, and that’s what politics in the name of religion is all about. That’s what Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism or Hindutva, wants.

 Now since Ram Temple appeal is fading away, those for social-political ‘status quo’ have jumped to the bandwagon of Anti-corruption. This is a shrewd move. Marginalized sections do feel left out from such ‘I am Anna’, ‘We are the People’ type of assertions, the message is that only the ‘shining India’ will have the say in the shaping of the nation, while the deprived India, will be permanently on the margins.

In a sense the RSS-Hindutva politics is constantly changing its strategies to communalize, polarize the society and to distract social attention from core issues. While initially the Rath Yatras and communal violence have played their role in polarizing the nation along religious lines, now the social issue, corruption, is being used to further strengthen the hold of politics aimed at retaining social inequalities.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Made Snana: Extraordinary Claims Need Extraordinary Evidence

Narendra Nayak

Loosely translated into English, Made Snana means taking bath on leftovers but a detailed one would mean rolling over the leaves on which others have eaten and discarded. .Again, a lengthier one would be lower caste people rolling on the leaves on which Brahmins have eaten! This has been taking place since hundreds of years if some are to be believed. Again, if some others are to be believed, it is a time honored tradition which has sanction of 'scriptures'. This happens in quite a few places and as a child I have observed the same when I used to go to temples with my mother. But, I am told that it was and is still an affair which happens between people of the same caste that is GSBs performing this act on leaves on which the members of their own community have eaten. But, what happened at the Kukke Subrahamanya Temple is something totally different. Here the scheduled tribe people performed this act on leaves on which Shivalli Brahmins have partaken food. This again brings to the fore many issues which have to be discussed in detail. 

Rationalists and  other progressive activists in Bangalore staged a protest
against Made Snana on December 3, 2011
This temple is, to put it mildly, not as popular as the one nearby at Dharmasthala. The latter being owned by a Jain has drawn more people particularly from the other side of the Western Ghats and subsequently has higher collections. The owner of this temple has been also running many capitation fee colleges and businesses. In order to compete with it, the management of the Subrahmanya Temple has been trying its best to get publicity. Its speciality is providing solutions for naga dosha which in loose translation means problems due to cobra or serpent trouble! These problems could be anything from sterility to skin diseases. Once diagnosed the performance of proper prescribed rituals could result in relief from the associated problems. So, any one going there could be diagnosed with that. Since the dosha or the fault can carry on to several generations it could be said that your grandfather or great grandfather could have performed some act which would have caused harm or angered some serpent. So, that could be set right by performing some rituals which could expiate these sins and hence relieve the victim of the associated problems.

One usually sees a large number of people alighting from the train from Bangalore to Mangalore at the Subrahmanya road railway station which is the nearest one to this temple. So, the whole place thrives on the business of ridding people of the sarpa dosha! As already said it has been competing for popularity with the temple of Manjunatha at Dharmasthala which is paradoxically a Hindu temple owned by a Jain! Though the latter is far ahead in popularity, the former cannot be blamed for not trying its best! In fact they have provided 'relief' from the serpent affliction to quite a few VVIPs like Sachin Tendulkar, Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachan to name a few. But despite all these the former remains far ahead in terms of popularity (in other words collection of cash).

So, the word has gone around that the ritual of rolling over the leaves on which Brahmins have eaten can cure a number of skin diseases and also other things like bestowing children on sterile couples. But, if one goes by the history of such practices, it looks more like a rite for the downtrodden to perform to demonstrate their loyalty to the upper castes who have partaken food on these leaves. In this temple which is run by Shivalli Brahmins, their community is served separately and the others have to eat outside like all such places.

Surendra Rao of Samudaya speaks at the protest meet in front of Town Hall, Bangalore
There are instances where people have been forcibly evicted from the places reserved for this community! It has been done not just to the supposedly lower castes but even to Gowda Saraswath Brahmins who though call themselves so are held in low esteem by these so called upper castes! So, behind these practices lies a simmering cauldron of caste politics. In fact these castes like Koragas have been subjected to inhuman practices like what was called as Ajalu. They were served meals on leaves on which Brahmins have eaten along with a clipping of a nail or hair, dancing before the procession of deities etc, which have now been banned. These things were done ostensibly to transfer the 'bad luck' caused by some inauspicious combination of planets to these people!

The reactions to this practice of made snana were diametrically opposite. The Dalit activists who opposed it were manhandled by the very people indignities against whom were being protested - malekudiyas who belong to scheduled tribe, attacked the Dalit activist Shivaram who was submitting a memorandum against this practice to the administrator of the temple and police were silent spectators to this outrage.

The volte face of the government on this issue of first banning the ritual and then permitting it left much to be desired. More strange were the attitudes of the ministers. Some of the Dalit ministers opposed the ritual while those like Dr.V.S.Acharya supported it! There are many strong reasons why the latter is supporting it. Firstly, it is a temple belonging to Shivally Brahmins the community to which he belongs. Then again there is a strong Hindutwa lobby supporting these primitive barbaric rituals which he wanted to please. He also puts forward many theories to support his contentions which deserve to be analysed in detail as Dr.V.S.Acharya is an MBBS graduate who has been trained to and is expected to follow evidence based, scientific system of medicine.

So, if he justifies such a practice on medical grounds as he did he owes a lot of explanations to the scientific community which should be forthcoming. In any scientific system of medicine any practice associated with the process of diagnosis or treatment should be subjected to proper scrutiny before being followed. So, statements like practicing made snana may cause formation of antibodies, have to be justified with proper evidence. The long winded explanation for this is that saliva may contain some bacteria, viruses or some such which could stimulate the production of antibodies and boost the immune system of those who roll on the leaves which have been used. Hahnemann, the father of Homoeopathy has been also quoted here. Well, if something has to be accepted for treatment on the basis of scientific system of medicine it should be supported by evidence. So, we should advocate clinical trials to validate these claims and these could be as follows:

  1. Making Brahmins roll over leaves on which Dalits have eaten
  2. Making Dalits roll over leaves on which Dalits have eaten
  3. Making Dalits do the same on which Brahmins have eaten
  4. And lastly, do it with Brahmins on leaves on which they have eaten and then compare the anti body levels.

As for his resort to Homeopathy, he should understand that it is not an indigenous system of medicine and that a number of double blind trials have shown that it does not work and it has been removed from the National Health Service in UK.

Again many other practices which have been now banned could have been given such justification like nude worship being needed to expose the skin to sunlight to get more vitamin D, child marriage helping to develop deeper bonds between the couples, widow burning being needed to protect them from misery, shaving their heads would protect them from lice etc. All these were well accepted practices at one time and have been now banned. If Dr.Acharya is a firm believer in this theory of antibodies being formed by this ritual he should start this practice himself and boost his own immune system too. Though one cannot agree with the arguments of those who oppose this- like it helps to spread diseases or transmits HIV virus, the practice has to be opposed if it is degrading a particular community that too one like the Malekudiyas who are a scheduled tribe. This system of performing the ritual on the leaves on which only one community have eaten is again violation of human rights of others who profess the same religion.

More to be condemned is the violence perpetrated on the activists who had gone to investigate the happenings. The perpetrators of this were honored as if they were heroes. These attempts to perpetuate the caste divide were supported by the victims themselves who allegedly threatened to stop their annual duty of decorating the temple chariot unless they were allowed to perform this degrading ritual of rolling over eaten leaves. This shows that either they must have been instigated or that their deep rooted superstitions must have scared them of the divine repercussions that would ensue if they ceased to perform this ritual. It is a pity that even during these times where science has progressed to the level of identifying the micro organisms which cause leprosy that there are those who still believe that it is caused by the curse of a serpent and doing meaningless rituals like this can cure it. It is worse that there are 'educated' people in positions of power who keep trotting out excuses for these without a shred of evidence. For those who argue that it is for us to disprove such claims we quote “extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” and that what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Deepti weds Sandesh

Prof Narendra Nayak with the couple after their wedding
Well this is not the cliched title of a wedding invitation but the narration of events that led to this wedding! For, Sandesh is a Pambada, a caste of dalits who are untouchables except when they get possessed by spirits- sorry not of those of the volatile kind but the local ones called as Bhoothas for which rituals called as Bhootha Kolas are performed and when they are done it is the members of this caste who dress themselves as those and perform the associated rituals! Any way the moment this costume is removed they become untouchables. Deepti belongs to a caste called as Kottaris and is studying for her masters in commerce while working at a mall. We have performed many intercaste, interreligious marriages but the maximum opposition has been when one of the couples is a dalit! 

As to be expected Deepti’s family was very much opposed this match and three days ago she fled home and started staying as a paying guest. Today it was a tearful shivering young woman who had come to meet me, worried about her fate and that of her beloved. That was because her family had arranged a match for her from her own caste, a young man who was a relative of the head of a most feared moral police of the Hindutwa right wing! She was scared that his goons were searching for her. In fact, all the documents needed for her marriage were kept at the place where she used to work and she was scared by the former colleagues who told her that a close watch was being kept on her locker by the minions of this man.

She had come to us for help with a middle aged lady whom we assumed was her relative- but it was not! She was Sandesh's mother who had come with her out of love for her will be daughter in law. By that
time a number of progressive organisations had been intimated and also some very progressive minded journalists. While we tried to get her documents from the place where she used to work, some goons from there tried to follow her and then it was a ride straight to the office of the Commissioner of Police, Sri Seemanth Singh who had instructed his office to give all help for the couple. By the time we reached the office, only Deepti’s brothers were there and they informed the police that they had absolutely no objection to her marrying any one of her choice.

So, in the evening one progressive minded priest Jayaram Bhat performed their marriage in the presence of journalists and progressive minded organisations like DYFI, Samudaya, AIDWA, Insurance
employees union and the Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association! For the last named, though religious marriages are not their cup of tea, under some circumstances, particularly when registration has to be done immediately this sort of ritual becomes necessary. In a state like Karnataka where self respect marriages are not recognised as common law marriages for registration purposes some sort of a formal drama becomes necessary for registration purposes and we are very happy that Sri Jayaram Bhat has been co-operating with us for the past two decades when it becomes a need.


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