KNOW YOUR GURUS

Written by September 4, 2008 12:04 am 33 comments

This article was written by Prabir Ghosh and Sumitra Padmanabhan

This is the first of a 2-part article. Click Here for Part II.

The program Muqabla on NDTV on January 7, 2006, from 10p.m. to 11.30p.m. showed Prabir Ghosh, the General Secretary of Science & Rationalists’ Association of India face to face with  Swami Ramdev, the latest Guru of India.

The guru, a self proclaimed healer of all diseases could not answer some point blank questions by Prabir. This very popular program conducted by Mr.Debang ended with a challenge thrown by Prabir on behalf of the Rationalists’ Association of India. In this challenge, a patient sent by Prabir has to be cured of his ailment and a bald-headed man selected from Delhi will have to be cured of his baldness by growing hair on his scalp; both by using Ramdev’s Yogic therapy and not by using any modern medicine or skin-grafting etc.

No. Ramdev-ji did not accept the challenge. Read more about this “guru” is Prabir’s own words.

Do not shun the gurus because you are a rationalist and because you know that you will not be fooled by their words anyway. Meet them, find out more about them, they are humans. Find how they operate. Only then we can establish our views. Save the millions of gullible who do not question, but just follow the person in front. Now, let us know more about this latest ‘maha-guru’ of India, popularly known as Baba Ramdev. You must be already familiar with his saffron-clad common-man look appearing on TV channels, and on the glossy covers of his publications.

Swami Ramdev

Swami Ramdev

Swami Ramdev: An ascetic, a maha-yogi, a mendicant–healer of all diseases!

Who is the biggest of all Yogis? Simple answer is-one who has the biggest publicity. Large-scale advertisement brings about large-scale popularity to any commodity. If Cadbury’s, Samsung or Maruti depended only on the quality of their product, and did away with all advertisements for promoting them, we can imagine what would have happened to them in this era of competition. It is a pity that Yogis too, need promotion!

[These lines are from a book by Prabir Ghosh , on ‘Yoga, Control of the mind  & Meditation’ in Bengali published in January 2006. ]

The ascetic, yogi Ramdev understands the power of advertisements quite well. One, who is a sanyasi and has renounced all worldly matters, is also a man of clever business acumen. In a few years, the Divya Yog Mandir Trust has become one of the richest of its kind in India. Nowadays even astrologers have started forming trusts! If the ownership of the trusts are kept among own family-members, all profits would be within control; and, of course, there would be no question of Income Tax.

This vegetarian ascetic, who lives only on fruits, has probably overcome the inevitability of death. That is what is clearly written down in our ancient books of wisdom. A person, who has mastered the Khechari Mudra, can defy death. (A mudra, according to our ancient texts, is a specific, peculiar sign made by the fingers, or any parts of the body, as in dance, to bring about specific results).

So, if Ramdev finally dies, it will prove the fallibility of his various yogic mudras. Another question also crops up-why does the baba need fruits and water as food? A person with knowledge of the same Khechari Mudra supposedly does not need food or even water, and can overcome the sense of hunger or thirst. Then what is the truth? Either he does not know the Mudra, or the concept of yogic Mudra itself is bogus.

Sanyasi Ramdev is also an arduous practitioner of Hatha Yoga; an accomplished saint who is learned in this particular stream of yoga which teaches a man to fly! Yes, hatha Yoga is the art of flying like a bird, of remaining young in mind and body, and of course, living forever. Can our revered swami Ramdev please demonstrate this feat of flying? Or is it just another example of preaching things that the preacher himself cannot perform. [To know more about Hatha-Yoga, the reader may go through ‘Hathayoga-Pradipika’, Sreemat Swatmaramyogindra; Basumati Sahitya Mandir, 166 Bipin Bihari Ganguly Street, Kolkata- 12]

The Mudras

The Mudras

What is the definition of YOGA according to Ramdev?

Ramdev follows the ancient saints and claims that the chief adviser of the yogic philosophy, maha-rishi Patanjali has said, yoga is the control of the faculties (one can also mean the senses or instincts that we are born with). But here Ramdev has created some confusion by saying that there are five faculties or instinct, namely, the senses of evidence (or proof), disaster, doubt, sleep and memory. After arduous ascetic practices, when all these senses disappear from the mind, one attains the heights of yogic wisdom.

Therefore as per Ramdev’s dictum, yoga is all about suppressing the natural instincts. But according to psychiatry, the causes for mental illnesses are more often than not, suppression of man’s normal inborn instincts. It is for this reason, psycho-somatic diseases occur. For example, attraction towards the opposite sex is a common human instinct. Those who cannot control their sexual excitement through the normal moral and civilised codes laid down by society, are sex-maniacs. But if one advocates total abstinence from sexual behaviour, he is committing a social crime.

Swami Ramdev has quoted Maha-Rishi Vyas as saying that yoga is a condition of Samadhi or self-absorbed spiritual meditation. At this stage, after total abstinence, the soul (atma) merges with the paramatma or the soul of the Almighty in an extremely pleasurable experience.

So, we see, the concept of yoga depends on the belief in the existence of God. If there is no God, yoga as a stream of knowledge or power loses its existence. It would be very enlightening if Ramdev could meet at a press conference and demonstrate his divine power, which would prove the existence of God.

Swami Ramdev in his book on Yogic Sadhana has quoted the Geeta , where Lord Shree Krishna says that when one transcends the normal feelings of success or defeat, happiness and sorrow etc and remains unperturbed under all circumstances, it is called the ultimate attainment of Yoga.

So we get three definitions of Yoga from Ramdev. 1) As defined by Patanjali-to conquer the senses or inborn instincts. 2) To connect the soul with that of the Almighty God, as described by Maha-rishi Vyas. 3) As said by Shree Krishna, to remain undisturbed in pain or pleasure, sorrow or happiness. Which one of these is correct? Ramdev has no answer.

Various types of Yoga

Swami Ramdev has confused us again, when in his books he has written about three classifications of Yoga. 1) According to Yograj Upanishad, there are three types of yoga. Mantrayog, Layayog, Hathayog and Rajyog. 2) Geeta has extensive discourses on three more kinds-Dhyan-yoga, Sankhya-yoga and Karmayoga. In the fifth chapter of Geeta we find another type-Sanyas-yoga. 3) Patanjali, the father of yoga has discussed about ashtanga-yoga or eight types of yogic practices-namely, -yama, niyam, asana, pranayama, pratyahar, dharana, dhyan and samadhi.

Which of the above are the best or the most effective, and why? No, Ramdev has no answer. He has only quoted generously from all. There is no analysis, no rejection, no judgement.

Prabir Ghosh and Sumitra Padmanavan

Prabir Ghosh and Sumitra Padmanavan

So, back on the show, Prabir asks Ramdev why he does not cure his own eye problem with his ‘Pran Mudra’, which is supposed to cure all eye problems. A visible shaken up Ramdev gets aggressive and demands Prabir for his credentials. Prabir asks the Swami if he does not practice his Dhyan Mudra to keep his temper in check at which point the audience is roaring with laughter.

This program was repeated on the 1st of January as the best ‘Muqabla‘ program of the year 2006.But alas! Babas still continue to practice and their Ashrams thrive. If only there was a Mudra to rid our society of these Swamis!

Click here for part two of Know Your Gurus!

This post was written by:

- who has written 5 posts on Nirmukta.

33 Comments

  • No mortal being can claim to be immortal (even though this is written in any scriptures or ancient books) because ancient books themselves proclaimed that God never lets anybody live forever. The Yogas are very old scriptures often edited by many people throughout ages. So it needs extensive study and an intensive analysis to understand all these. I cannot take responsibility of what Baba Ramdev preaches or teaches, but certainly I can say Prabir Ghosh’s understanding of Yoga, Celibacy and Indian spirituality is far from being complete. His defining sex as human instinct is quite degrading the humans to animals. If you suppress your sexual instincts, as per Prabir’s idea, then you are committing a social crime, then Gandhi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda, Jesus, Buddha and many others are criminals who not only subdued their instincts but also advocated for celibacy!! How strange, that people all over the world pay daily respect to them and how unfortunate, they do not do such things for advocates of science!! It just confirms this fact that we all are benefited from those lofty spiritual leader’s perception of life. I am certainly not against science (I guess I did not read less Science than Ghosh, as being student of Mathematics in B.Sc and studied pure science all my graduation years). Just to mention a few names, great scientists who conform the ideas of Celibacy, Nicola Tesla who was a friend of Vivekananda too, asserted that this should be the goal of humans. Scientists like Openheimer and Einstein advocated for Gita (which again is a spiritual book and many places of Gita are filled with claims which do not coincide with scientific ideas). Mr. Ghosh, I am not against identifying the charlatans and isolate them from society, but at the same time I believe Indian Spirituality is founded on such firm logic which can never be brushed away by your arguments. Indian spirituality advocates a very free idea which is certainly combination of modern science and ancient philosophy. I am pained to see that there is hardly anybody who can encounter your arguments (just because not many people are aware of spiritual analysis and their logical foundations). And people like you who do not know much about this challenge those lofty ancient ideas which were put forth by thousands of Yogis experimenting life in the real sense for thousands of year. I wish I could meet you face to face one day and show you your misconceptions!!

    • Sex is the single most important thing as far as life on Earth is concerned, because without it life will end. Sure there are some species which reproduce asexually, but sex is the principle means by which the human species survives. There is nothing to be ashamed about it. I don’t think celibacy is a social crime, it is an individual’s personal choice, but suppressing sexual instincts goes against nature.

      The yogis may have practiced their craft for thousands of years, but nature has been doing it’s thing for billions of years. I would rather follow nature than the sayings of people who were most likely malnourished and sleep deprived. That is what tapas is about right?

      When deprive your brain of essential nutrients and sleep, it starts hallucinating. What makes more sense – some abstract idea of spirituality which you can only attain by becoming a yogi or damage your brain sufficiently so that it starts hallucinating? You don’t need deep and intense studies on scriptures to achieve the feeling of spirituality, a feeling of oneness, a feeling of weightlessness. All you need is a few days without sleep. Bonus points if you can also fast at the same time.

      While ancient Indian philosophies do deal with some profound questions, we don’t need to slavishly adhere to them. Every passing day, our understanding of nature improves. Religion has had a legitimate claim that it can explain nature a few hundred years ago. Today, most of it totally outdated and progress is only possible by discarding old theories. We wouldn’t have been able to put a rover on Mars if we had blindly stuck with Newtonian mechanics.

      • can anyone tell me that did gautam buddha do sex ever after getting his salvation? and is concept of salvation wrong too?

  • Sex is the single most important thing as far as life on Earth is concerned, because without it life will end. Sure there are some species which reproduce asexually, but sex is the principle means by which the human species survives. There is nothing to be ashamed about it. I don’t think celibacy is a social crime, it is an individual’s personal choice, but suppressing sexual instincts goes against nature.

    I never said anywhere in the previous article that Hinduism forbids or forsakes procreation. First of all, in Indian school of philosophy (I refer here to Advaita Vedanta) there is no hard and fast set of rules laid down to follow. Here we have the scope of arguing things and above all are not bound by any restrictions.
    You do not advocate for sex only because it is the single most important thing as far as life is concerned (?). Of course you have your own interest and not the one which you mentioned. Better say ‘we’ have. Our interest lies in the joy of sex and not in the duty of letting life thrive on this earth. To be precise, when it comes to sex we really do not bother whether life will survive on this earth or not, now or in future, just as animals do not. At the time of physical intimacy we do not say to our partners, “Come let us meet with each other for the great purpose of procreation”, we simply go (or jump?) for the pleasure and more specifically that time we only think of ourselves even not others! It is a different issue that nature is designed in such a way that by such actions life replicates, generation after generation, but we cannot claim any credit for it as we are bound to have sex, bound by our instinct.Spirituality does not ask you to suppress your sexual instincts all of a sudden and create a big mess in your life, instead it suggests to let your own self grow in the light of the true knowledge and guiding through that path which leads us to that greatest idea “The truth is only one, the wise men call it by different names”.

    What is this truth? Is it science, is it against science or is it something greather than science? I will try to explain in some words if you can patiently read this.

    A word, called “Sama darshitva” is a level of mind when mind ceases to differentiate. It will be quite unfortunate if you mix up this stage of mind with unconsciousness or so on, instead it has been symbolized as the one quality of superconsiousness.In this stage, the man or woman sees everybody as equal, goes beyound anger or hatred or any other mean qualities. In this state of mind you do not feel lustful to the opposite sex (does not mean eunuch), you do not feel the hankering for material comfort, above all, quite really, you stop thinking that you have come to this earth for “material enjoyment”. This is a big difference between a yogi and a common man, the perception of life, to the latter is, life itself is the goal (enjoying material and sensual comforts), to the former, life is the means to reach the goal (Sama darshitva).

    Surely this great idea which actually has the potential to free the whole world from all injustice and evil deeds, cannot be explained in few lines. For them who believe that spirituality is actually halucination and Yogis or spiritual analysts are devoid of nutritions, it is quite misleading. Surely it is mentioned everywhere in religious books which do not talk meaningless ideas (such as miracles), for example the Upanishads and the Gita, the attention is drawn to the seeker of truth, that no knowledge (be it material or spiritual) can be gained through torture of body or mind. Only a healthy body with balanced mind can see through what is not visible to others. Like Buddha, who first tried to achieve enlightenment through fasting and then later understood that realization comes to only those who have a balanced mindset, and a balanced mind dwells in a body which is not suffering.

    So to conclude. Mixing up miracles with spirituality. How many times the real seers of the world would say to us that miracles are tricks to woo weak minded people. Sri Ramakrishna repeated it a thousand times that he would never intend to show miracles. Buddha crushed one earthen dish under his feet when he heard that this same dish was kept in the air without any support by so and so yogi. Those who show miracles are not entitled to be spiritualists and those who believe in them are mere weaklings.

    I think the air is little bit cleared now. You must separate charlatans and people suffering from malnutrition from the Vedantins or spiritualists believing in Indian school of philosophy (Advaita), I am not taking responsibility of Christians or Muslims. Considering that these (miracles and tortur of body and mind to achieve spiritual goal) are discarded from Advaita philosophy at the very onset of the discussion, we must proceed further to see what exactly it says. Let me know if you agree, I will send my understanding of Advaita Vedanta.

    • The whole idea that there is some loftier goal in life, and that the kind of life most people lead is inferior and they should give it up for an abstract idea of higher purpose sounds very weak to me. What is so wrong about “material” comforts? Where do we draw a line on what is “material” and what is not?

      My indulgence in material comforts has lead me to appreciate the beauty of the Universe a lot more than what spirituality has to offer. I experience epiphanies on a regular basis – when I see the pictures of other planets sent by various space probes, when I learn that the energy power houses of life – chlorophyll and mitochondria were once bacteria, when I see a group of male Emperor Penguins huddle in extreme cold weather to preserve body heat and save their eggs, and the list goes on. Much of that has only been possible because people indulge in “material” comforts.

      I’m familiar with the advaita school of thought. I find it extremely abstract. It is just another philosophical text. Not that I have anything against philosophy, I just find it hard to believe that there is an entity called Brahman and our sole purpose is to be one with it, when there is not a single shred of evidence as to the existence of Brahman.

      Also, how can I know that the ancient knowledge of spirituality is the absolute truth, unchanging and eternal as is proclaimed by so many gurus over the years? I don’t trust my own mind to tell me the truth. Numerous experiments have shown how easy it is fool the brain. So how can I look “inward”, as suggested by spiritual texts, to find the truth?

      As to the idea of “Sama darshitva”, I don’t need ancient philosophies to realize the idea of oneness. They are horribly outdated. Modern understanding of nature provides a much more potent form of oneness. Evolutionary biology tells me that I carry the genes of all my ancestors right from the very first life form and that most of my genetic markup is quite similar to other life forms on Earth. Carl Sagan once said – “We are made of star stuff”. That is not an abstract idea. Every atom other than hydrogen in our bodies was forged in some star by nuclear fusion.

  • PRADIP CHAKRABORTY.

    I AM AGREED WITH THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR.THESE TYPES OF ‘DHARMA GURUS’ ARE NOTHING BUT FRAUDS.SCIENCE AND RATIONALISM CAN ONLY COMBAT THEM.ALL WAY RATIONALISM……………

  • Dear friends,
    With an unbiased mind, I want to say that, our ancient gurus were not error-less. I am syaing these after reading Gita, Mahabharat and all the 18 purans.

    1. In all indian Shastra says that a person who knows “Ishwar”/”Brahma”/”Self” (or something that is the ultimate knowledge of human life) he/she knows everything. Sri Ramakrishna also supports it.

    2. Now think about the Rishis of ancient India. They clearly said in all the purans that
    (a) The Sun is spinning around the earth.
    (b) The Moon is larger than Sun in size.
    (c) There are seven ocean in the earth made of “Sura”, “Dadhi” etc.

    I can make a list of such wonderful knowledge of our Spiritual gurus. But I don’t have such time. Now I just show you another example from the life of Sri Ramakrishna. (Because in this article’s comment, this name is used.) While he was suffering from cancer in his throat, his physician told him not to eat “Ful-kopi” (Brassica oleracea, wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica_oleracea). So Ramakrishna Ji was eating the soup of “Ful-kopi” leaving the solid materials everyday without asking the physician. He was unaware that the juice contains the same harmful thing that was barred by his physician. So it is clear that after knowing the GOD, his knowledge was incomplete.

    For these reason, I am unable to believe on the hundreds year old spiritual truths.

    Thanking all.

    • Rupinder Singh

      Hi Jibanananda Goswami

      I like your answer. Its really good one. I want to know more from you. So i want to contact you. Please if you have no problem, kindly send me a email at

      dr_rationalist AT yahoo DOT com

      I will be thankful to you.

      Regards,
      Dr. Rupinder

    • Hi Jibananda, there are some more things that meet the eyes. So when you read that He who knows God knows everything you must understand what actually it refers to. First of all, Indian school of philosophy divides knowledge in two parts, material knowledge means Aapra Vidya and Spiritual knowledge or Para Vidya. Ancient Rishis did not take into account the material knowledge too much because and only because it does not help anybody attain the highest knowledge. Highest knowledge does not any way at all refer to Material knowledge. It is only the spiritual knowledge they mean. Your reference to moon, Sun etc, you must also know ancient India was the one which discovered gravitational forces, planetary motion, immense significant discoveries in Mathematics and science based on which modern scientific inventions took place. All these were invented by ancient Rishis. These are certainly not error free because they belong to Apara Vidya, which is subjected to change and modification, moving from less truth to higher truth. But for Para Vidya it is Universal and unchangeable. You must know the difference. By knowing God one does not attain the Apara Vidya totally because Apara Vidya contains knowledge of matter and thus one who knows God does not need to fix his mind on this subject because it does not lead him to God instead holds his mind back to some extent from the highest knowledge. Ramakrishna Paramhansa never needed to know about phool kopi or Cauli flower in order to gain the highest knowledge which inspired Him to proclaim “All religions are same so you must not hate anybody but love”. This was quite insignificant for him (but may not be for you) to know about vegetables etc because His great mind was fixed always to Universal entities rather than on petty material substances.

      • //…you must also know ancient India was the one which discovered gravitational forces, planetary motion, immense significant discoveries in Mathematics and science based on which modern scientific inventions took place. All these were invented by ancient Rishis. //

        Could you provide specific instances of modern scientific inventions which are explicitly traceable to Indian predecessors and sources? Also could you name and provide confirmed chronologies for the Rishis credited with the original discoveries?

        //These are certainly not error free because they belong to Apara Vidya, which is subjected to change and modification, moving from less truth to higher truth. But for Para Vidya it is Universal and unchangeable…His great mind was fixed always to Universal entities rather than on petty material substances. //

        Dismissing as ‘petty’ and ‘subject to change’ all the myriad wonders revealed by Science and dignifying this ignorance by glorifying unverifiable ‘Universal entities’ has been the modus operandi of both organized as well as mystical faith traditions. This article explains how religions ‘cling on to primitive notions like the supernatural and the immaterial and fail to see the readily available grandeur of the physical world.‘ Science can reveal to us a ‘different kind of Oneness‘.

        • i)Rishis credited with numerous inventions
          1. Kanad (Discovery of Atom and contribution to Chemistry)
          2. Aryabhatta (Credited with immense contribution that gave birth to Modern Mathematics include improved concepts on Zero, Number system, continued Fraction and so on. It is a misconception that Aryabhatta invented Zero. Far before him it was known to Indians, only Aryabhatta enhanced the idea.
          3.Brahmagupta (On Mathematical postulates)
          4.Sridhar Acharaya (Quadratic equation and its roots)
          5.Sage Kapil (On Philosophy Sankhya)
          6.Sage Patanjali on health and medicines
          7. Sage Bhaskaracharya credited with motion of comets, planetary motion using concepts of Gravitational forces
          ….The list goes on.

          I have a million names on my side. You go to wikipedia and search these names you will get hell lot of books on them. Regarding Chronology, if we had cameras and video recorders in those ages, I confirm you, certainly I had recorded them and also in Digital CDs. Unfortunately Indians were and are very much reluctant in documentation. It is well known to any student of history that why Indian history (especially ancient) is a challenge to study because of lack of documentation. If someone says it was kind of a well thought plan on the part of Indian scientists/intellectuals to not to document anything so that they can keep the future generation in doubt about their achievements and let some people like me take this advantage of lack of facts, then I will not hesitate to say that that is absolutely a foolish idea. Why the sages were reluctant to document their achievements, one reason is their abhorrence to spread name and fame by exploiting science and complete reluctance to take personal credit on these things. Nobody that time could think of taking patents of any invention, only this patent is a brainchild of western minds. Dr. J.C.Bose one of the greatest scientists never bothered to take any patent and incurred huge losses. Many Westerners were astonished to see a person like him reluctant to make money out of his invention (Please refer wikipedia). Only one patent came on his name when Vivekananda took his writings and himself published it with the help of Nivedita and applied for a patent.
          ii)) You cannot get away from the word “Universe” or Universal or Infinity however you may try. You know why? Because when people narrow down on small discoveries or inventions, that time great minds always search for the root cause of everything. It is another branch of science, rather it “Hosts” EVERYTHING. Mathematics starts with this (as I was a student of Mathes), Infinity is undefined, considering this entity inexplicable we will proceed to use the same. Now, you may think that people who want to hide their lack of logical sense, take shelter in Infinity. Very well, then I challenge anybody to refute my idea/understanding of Infinity, Infinite numbers, Time or Space which I gathered mostly from ancient Indian scriptures and from modern science notably from Stephen Hawkins’ books. You come and prove any idea of mine as wrong, I will accept only then that ancient sages tried to put everything in the garb of Infinity/Universality because they knew their limitations of logic and discoveries. I challenge you. Come and prove me wrong on this subject.
          See, this is not an argument of ego. Why not we go by logic? If you brush aside everything just because it was not chronologically documented, or video recorded, or just because you do not understand why they always talk about Brahma or infinity, then you must reason it with somebody who have studied them with an open mind. Science talks about this physical world but this physical world does not really end in physics :)). You cannot go too long just by 2+2=4, unless you also get an idea of -4. What I mean is, finite numbers merge into infinite number, finite numbers get generated from Infinite number, similarly the world visible to us is not the only end that we see. It is a complicated structure but human minds can penetrate the mystery. In the words of all time great mathematician Ramanujan, “I believe in God because I see there is this number Infinity”. You may not agree with his logic but at the same time cannot brush aside this veritable most difficult and complex architecture of the Universe, that invariably ends somewhere that science is yet to discover.

          • Also something more about Bhaskaracharya. He wrote a book named “Shidhanta Shiromani” containing following chapters:
            The twelve chapters of the first part cover topics such as:

            * Mean longitudes of the planets.
            * True longitudes of the planets.
            * The three problems of diurnal rotation.
            * Syzygies.
            * Lunar eclipses.
            * Solar eclipses.
            * Latitudes of the planets.
            * Sunrise equation
            * The Moon’s crescent.
            * Conjunctions of the planets with each other.
            * Conjunctions of the planets with the fixed stars.
            * The patas of the Sun and Moon.

            The second part contains thirteen chapters on the sphere. It covers topics such as:

            * Praise of study of the sphere.
            * Nature of the sphere.
            * Cosmography and geography.
            * Planetary mean motion.
            * Eccentric epicyclic model of the planets.
            * The armillary sphere.
            * Spherical trigonometry.
            * Ellipse calculations.[citation needed]
            * First visibilities of the planets.
            * Calculating the lunar crescent.
            * Astronomical instruments.
            * The seasons.
            * Problems of astronomical calculations.

          • Satish Chandra

            The intellectual dishonesty that is typical of Hindu apologists who oversell the achievements of ancient Indians is evident in the very first point list:

            1. Kanad (Discovery of Atom and contribution to Chemistry)

            Kanada did not discover the atom in the modern sense. He deduced that there should be certain indivisible particles because, if there were not, an object can be infinitely divided and then, since there are infinite constituent particles, you can construct a bigger object than the original one, which is absurd. However, this point is never stressed by apologists like you who imply that Kanada somehow knew about the modern atomic theory involving the periodic table.

            Predictably, you then make a supremacist argument with idiotic caricatures – “oh, the Indians are ever so innocent that they don’t do things for fame and the cunning Westerners want only fame.” Shows how ignorant you are about the history of science.

            And then you present a convoluted version of an argument from ignorance.

          • Hello Satish, I am not sure why you are angry or upset with me. If I have said something incomplete/wrong, I will always welcome you to correct it and it can be done in a friendlier way like without using “Idiotic Cariatures” etc. Use of such words casts a doubt in mind that you are not actually searching truth through logic rather venting your anger against Indian School of thoughts. I never tried to put Kanad as the one who discovered atom, it may be a lack of knowledge on my part that he discovered atom, may be what you wrote about him is more precise, but what I tried in my article is to give an outline on various achievements of Indian sages. I am really not an authority to comment on each on their inventions but certainly we can draw some very generic conclusions and that is what I had done. If Kanad had not discovered atom and instead he gave some good ideas on the same, both signify one thing, that ancient Indians were NOT ONLY IN SUPERSTITIONS BUT ALSO HAD PIONEERED many subjects that the modern world owes to them.
            Also I never said all Westerners are cunning and running after fame. But it is quite undeniable that each and every invention in the West brings a big fortune to the inventors through the introduction of Patent system which was not known to Indians (I gave an example of modern scientist J.C.Bose who refused to accept this idea that knowledge can be treated somebody’s personal property, instead it should be for all). Nicola Tesla was an example from West who also never bothered to make money for his personal gains. So I do not say all western scientists hanker after money.
            But it is equally true that many a great discoveries made by Westerners did carry a history of lust and greed. Colombus discovered West Indies for the search of Gold, Bhasko Da Gama was a pirate and came to India only for money. That Westerners believed in power and money from the beginning is evident from these facts, Red Indians were wiped out by European Settlers. Britishers, French, Portugese and Dutch people spread colonialism and put shackles of bondage in the hands and legs of humanity. Maories were wiped out, Indians were made slaves, Aborigins of Australia were finished off, Peru, Maya, Aztech, Inca were mercilessly persecuted by European/Portuguese/French discoverers/settlers.
            These are just examples of the glorified past of your beloved Western Discoverers :). I have high respects for Western minds, but their rulers only meant money and power, there were no Ashoka the great who embraced Buddhism and stopped war all across the world, there was no king like Buddha who abdicated his throne for the search of truth, there was no king like Mahavira, no legend like Rama :)…you know, you can count on and on.

          • Satish Chandra

            Nobody is denying the contributions of ancient Indians to science. That is why I said you are ignorant of history of science.

            I did not vent my anger against Indian schools of thought, but against Hindu apologists like you. What I wrote about Kanada is correct, because I am genuinely interested in philosophical schools of ancient India and read about them rather than chest thump about cultural supremacy.

            Patents as we know today didn’t show up until the 18th century. Not all countries obeyed them initially and today Indians too patent ideas, and there are also people (cutting across nationalities) who are calling for patent reform so that they encourage innovation rather than profit making. But of course, you’d rather believe in the black and white world of India good, West bad (if not black and white, then in pixelated 8-bit color).

            Also, the casualties of Western imperialism are well known. But when people criticize the superstitions of today, people like you will sidetrack those criticisms with tales of glories from the past (real and imagined).

          • I have not denied your authority over Kanada, I appreciate your knowledge and wisdom regarding ancient India/modern Western world, but it is surprising that you term me as “apologists like you” or “people like you” :). You hardly know me who I am and it will not be inappropriate to say that we both possibly are seeking truth. In that quest of knowledge we will get enriched with each others’ studies and experiences as we move forward with open discussions and without calling each other names or mild abuses. I can at least say with pride that I am gifted with some type of humility especially when it comes to argument with my fellow critic and this quality too, I owe to ancient Indian school of thoughts :), but I am not sure from where you have earned your humble words, may be from West? No offense, I am kidding. One more thing, I am of course against the superstitions of today, these being prevalent in both East and West. Only I dare say that India’s ancient philosophy has a sound founding, based on firm logic and I am ready to place my arguments on table.
            Patents are certainly being taken by Indians nowadays which proves that we are now successfully copying the West :). You have cleverly put this word, “patent reform”…to tell you honestly, if those fat white European businessmen ever had understood the beautiful minds of scientists, then they would have opened such charities everywhere. But to break your dream, it is not like that, they mean business and they sell the Atom Bombs…okay? How much I wish if they had believed only in one single word of that Superstitious India, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”…if they had, they would have spared our land or Africa or would have spared millions of lives.
            Okay, no black and white idea from my side, I believe the same European who is toiling hard for bread and butter is no different from an Indian, but we have this lofty ancient philosophy in our hands that was bestowed on us by our forefathers who proclaimed before everyone “Satyameva Jayate”, Truth alone triumphs rest fall defeated. So our inheritance is unique in the sense of philosophy and their inheritance is unique in the sense of material world. I believe we both need each other, we are complementary and not mutually exclusive. So, no blind anger for ancient philosophy but a reasoned and analytical attitude will help us understand the ideas that are ancient but still useful. We do not build the castle of our future on the debris of our past, instead learning the past, realizing the past, we welcome the future and build it on the structure of the ideas which very much is ours from time immemorial.

          • Satish Chandra

            Your are an apologist because you justify Ramakrisha’s ignorance with nonsense like “Apara Vidya”. Not to mention your older comment.

            You still keeping providing evidence of your tendency to caricature people (“fat” “white” “european”).

            You should know what Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam really means.

            You also should know that philosophical systems existed elsewhere. Or if you already knew that, and still keep saying things like “So our inheritance is unique in the sense of philosophy and their inheritance is unique in the sense of material world.”, that is further evidence for your supremacist attitude.

          • Apara Vidya is non sense, so you prove what you are. You actually do not have any logic of your own except using terms like these. I have not used fat white european in general sense but I pointed to heartless businessmen who manufacture weapons and destroy floral world, like shown in Movie Avatar. I am a student of comparative literature and religion so I know it far better than any common person what other civilizations like Greece or Egypt gave us. But fools like you will not understand the context on which I referred only India’s. Talking about India’s science or philosophy does not mean that I deny existence of Aristotle or Ptolemy or Galileo. Your arguments are amazingly funny because you are using meaningless and baseless words instead of giving any logic. If you replace the cow dung within your head with real grey matter you will realize what is that the aspirant of Para Vidya hardly cares to know Apara Vidya. But unfortunately I see that your idiotic stubbornness always will mislead you and may they always do because people like you are no use of society, so your existence or non existence does not matter. With this I end this beautiful discussion, Amen.

          • The flip-flop between Science co-option and Science denial by religious apologists echoes what was heard in this earlier comment trail where many of their claims are addressed, should they care to read.

          • Will it be a better idea not to call each other names like “Religious apologists” etc which apparently helps you to brush aside all logical points of your critic and to be specific and brief on the matters that you feel do not stand on firm reasoning. Your branding a person who defends certain historical facts and calling him different names could be a very good way to escape many an unanswered questions but a true aspirant of science or philosophy, or a so called free thinker must not act that way. The phrase “Free Thinker” bestows immense responsibility on your shoulder should you care to think and it means letting others voice their views freely and hear them patiently and if required reason with them in case you see the other person is equally willing to walk on the path of logic.

          • If a person is defending religion, they are being a religious apologist. Please be specific about which “logical points” of the critic are being brushed away and we can have a conversation. Religious beliefs are not logical points.

            “…a so called free thinker must not act that way. The phrase “Free Thinker” bestows immense responsibility on your shoulder should you care to think and it means letting others voice their views freely and…”

            Oh boy, another one. Do you realize this is the same misunderstanding of “freethought” that we get from religious apologists and people in general almost once a week? How hard is it to read “freethought” without interpreting it as “free thought”? Please do some reading before you admonish others here based on your misunderstandings of what we’re about.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought
            http://nirmukta.net/Thread-What-is-Freethought
            http://nirmukta.com/what-is-freethought/
            Simply put, freethought is a word, not a phrase, with a specific meaning. It doesn’t imply you are free to spout whatever nonsense you want.

          • Hi I am not defending any religion. I do not believe the word religion is misunderstood widely. I am a “Seeker of Truth”, this does not in any way mean that I am a religious apologists. If I have any misconception about your “Freethinking” society, then you too have similar misconception about “Seeking Truth” which is a very well known subject worldwide. I feel more attracted to the logic and reasoning put down in Ancient Indian Philosophy regarding Material world and spiritual world and Brahma as a whole and you feel more attracted towards “Free thinking”. Neither of us have reached the culmination of logic standing on which you can proclaim “I know the truth now that I am right and these people are false”. You are still seeking the truth through your ideologies because you feel more “attracted” towards it, so do I. You do not have any right to say that mine are all non sense unless you prove each and every belief of mine to be false. Vice versa for me. And finally yes I will be very happy to put forward my arguments in case I get a chance. However I appreciate your kindness for allowing me to write here which may in future can give me another opportunity for a healthy discussion on topics like this. I will never be ashamed to admit I am wrong if you can really show me the truth by your logic and I will expect the same from your side as again I say, neither of us has really reached the summit of truth.

          • I don’t understand why religious apologists are so ashamed of being called religious apologists. Statements like ” I feel more attracted to the logic and reasoning put down in Ancient Indian Philosophy regarding Material world and spiritual world and Brahma” are exactly what we’re talking about.

            We are all seeking truth. What’s important is what standards you have for verifying truth claims. By equating all ways of thinking about ideas you are committing to a post-modernist relativism about facts. I don’t think you read the links provided because you repeat “Free thinking”. There is a fundamental requirement for knowledge- evidence- that you completely ignore, pretending as though how knowledge is gained is irrelevant. When in fact that is the most important part.

            “Neither of us have reached the culmination of logic standing on which you can proclaim “I know the truth now that I am right and these people are false”. “

            Of course not. It is not those who believe in science and evidence who claim knowledge of absolute truth. It is the spiritualists and dogmatic people of religious faiths who do. However, there are plenty of times that we know someone is a lot more likely to be false. When, for example, someone tells you that they rule an underground kingdom called Happynessland, you are being logical when you consider it highly unlikely to be true. This is the basis of what is a cornerstone of science- inductive reasoning. We all do it all the time. If we didn’t, we’d be unable to make decisions, unable to discriminate between good ideas and terribly flawed ones.

            ” You do not have any right to say that mine are all non sense unless you prove each and every belief of mine to be false.”

            As pointed out above, this is absurd. You are constantly making decisions all day that involve an inductive rejection of the deeply held beliefs of millions of people. And of course I have a right to say your beliefs are nonsense, if I think they are. But I will evaluate the evidence and apply reason to make that determination. That is, in essence, what Freethought is.

            ” I will never be ashamed to admit I am wrong”

            How about starting by admitting that you were and continue to be wrong about what Freethought entails? Actually, I don’t think this is worth our time. Please come back when you’ve read up about what Freethought and science are about.

          • Okay I will read your articles but I may not promise to read it right now, just when I will have free time. Just one point, as you said you have not reached the culmination of truth and cannot say that truth is not realized by you absolutely and cannot be by anyone, then what is the truest knowledge in this universe? According to your logic there cannot be anything absolutely true, then you too are moving from error to error leading others to a blind lane? If there is no such point in this universe which is absolutely true and forever, then all our propositions theorems mathematics are only relatively true including yours which means in the strictest sense, that they are ultimately false. I will be interested to know your point here. And for the ancient sages, they already claimed that they had reached the summit of truth long back so at least they considered that there is one absolute truth and can be reached (I am not arguing this proposition is right or wrong, but at least they have a stand point where they can claim (according to you falsely) that there is a place where there is no falsehood. But in your case I am totally confused. Are you saying that you are running from error to error? If in this universe there is no absolute truth and only relative truths exist, so there is some better standards somewhere on whose basis your arguments can be proved absolutely wrong? I will be glad if you can answer up to this query of mine and later I will read your documents. Thanks.

          • Satish Chandra

            Are you saying that you are running from error to error? If in this universe there is no absolute truth and only relative truths exist, so there is some better standards somewhere on whose basis your arguments can be proved absolutely wrong?

            http://lesswrong.com/lw/mn/absolute_authority/

            “Science is probabilistic, just like all other knowledge.

          • Thanks, I will read this and tomorrow I am coming back with my doubts if it fails to quench my thirst for truth.

      • Speaking of the repeated references to Para Vidya or Ultimate/Transcendental Truth , read this article for a freethinker’s lighthearted response making a serious point in response to the typical spiritualist’s question “What is Ultimate Reality according to you?”

        Speaking of whether scientists arrogantly dismiss ‘other ways of knowing’, here are some posts from practicing scientists outlining their stance (1 and 2). Reading that will be an excellent opportunity for religious apologists to exercise their trademark humility which they are so zealously proud of.

        • Before sending my comments I will put something here which is not too out of context. You must refrain from referring terms like “Us” and “They”. I said I am not a religious apologists and when you keep on saying that on my face, it reminds me of semitic antisemitic hatred in 40s Germany. I feel all the tables for exchanging logic and arguments should be very clean. Right from the beginning we do not need to give each other names. It does not really benefit the argument. Is your purpose to break my confidence on what I believe to be true by throwing abusive words? If yes then you are absolutely wrong, you can never do that, forget it. If no, then what is your point? If I say I am not here to defend my religious beliefs but I am here to argue the philosophical aspects on logical grounds that I think to be true, then whether you believe it or not that is your matter, but you cannot use words like “trademark humility” etc. How do you know that I carry a trademark humility? How do you know that I am not honest to the highest extent to seeking the real truth? I also can return the same stuffs to you as I did to Mr. Satish Chandra, much against of my own nature, will it be helping our discussion? Read all my posts and you will see my trademark humility is much better than your well cultivated arrogance and stupid confidence. I thought today to write my comments on the above link in the morning, but your post has first disturbed my thoughts for a moment. you wanted it right? Why are you afraid of my arguments and play behind the curtain? Come on, be a man. If you have logic give it to me and take some from me. See if I am speaking meaningless just block my posts. You dont need to fix a sticker on my back, I do not owe any of my logic to any people who earlier wrote here. I do not know any of them. It is my logic and I owe the responsibility to all these. I do not have any connection to RSS or VHP or BJP. I am absolutely on my own. Stop doing it because not a single penny will be spent from your pocket if you show a “trademark humility”. Please show it to me, I do not need your genuine inbred arroagance, please be formal with me and argue. Okay? Now, if you allow me I will send my commments on the link. Thank you.

          • Satish Chandra

            For the record, you did not return the same stuff to me. I only called you a religious apologist, but you thought that I’m a fool, that my brain is made of cow dung and that my existence does not matter. That should give some perspective on an argument about tone.

          • I apologize for that I think I must have not used the term and I am sorry if it has hurt you. I take it back with all humility and I respect your views. However it was started from your side at first so I cannot blame myself solely but yes I should have not said that at all.

          • I said I am not a religious apologists and when you keep on saying that on my face, it reminds me of semitic antisemitic hatred in 40s Germany.

            Heard of ‘Godwin’s Law ‘? This is a False Equivalence due to a woefully missing sense of history, which equates trenchant blog-post comments to genocidal demagoguery.

            Is your purpose to break my confidence on what I believe to be true by throwing abusive words?

            I am at loss to understand what is unparliamentary in such words as apologist andspiritualist. Notice that even words like ‘obscurantist‘ and ‘atavistic‘ were not used, though the leanings exposed in the above comments do seem to warrant their use.

            …you cannot use words like “trademark humility” etc. How do you know that I carry a trademark humility?

            ‘Trademark humility’ refers to the very affected, self-congratulatory declaration of humility, that is typical of religious apologists, in this earlier comment.

            //I can at least say with pride that I am gifted with some type of humility especially when it comes to argument with my fellow critic and this quality too, I owe to ancient Indian school of thoughts , but I am not sure from where you have earned your humble words, may be from West? //

            Come on, be a man. If you have logic give it to me and take some from me.

            I am at loss to understand any purported connection, biological or otherwise, between masculinity and ability for logical intercourse.

            Please show it to me, I do not need your genuine inbred arroagance, please be formal with me and argue.

            Here,here,here and here, there is a surfeit of open, formal and copiously cited arguments for interested readers to respond, if they aren’t too pre-occupied with responding to imagined insults that is. Hint 1: Consider clicking on the links provided. Hint 2: Consider reading them.

  • Thanks for your post and that wonderful blog you are running!

  • and if sex is as bad thing in India then why kamasutra have been written by the vatsayan who was a hrishi ?

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