Upanishads and the Poor Calibre of Hindu Apologists

Written by June 20, 2013 7:41 pm 239 comments

A short entry on my blog Critical Sagacity entitled Major faults of the Vedas and the Upanishads received some responses from offended Hindus, but there was one comment-response which was particularly characteristic of conservative Hindu protestation:

The irrationality in the world is Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism). They are violent by nature, inconsistent with each other, and absurd in their very core. They make believe that God is some angry old man with white beard lashing a whip. And man they keep fighting and fighting, wars after wars… dang!!!

Upanishads on the other hand explore the true nature of Brahman. The elegant principals of Dharma i.e. Karma, Punarjanma and Moksha were laid down by the Upanishads – any literate man will be able to tell you that. All Dharmic religions i.e. Sanatana Dharma, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism build on this.

I certainly don’t blame you for being an intolerant Christian or Muslim because that’s in the core teachings of Abraham. Dang one of the 10 commandments state that your God is a jealous God. How ridiculous can that get??? God save these people…

This article is my response to that comment.

Krishna Holding Mount Govardhan to protect the inhabitans of Vrindavana from natural disasters

Krishna Holding Mount Govardhan to protect the inhabitans of Vrindavana from natural disasters ca. 1790. Attributed to Mola Ram (1760-1833). Image from Wikimedia Commons, in public domain (links to source).

At first look, the comment above is a very silly and puerile defense of the irrational themes of Hindu religion and starts off with an unrelated accusation and ad-hominem attacks on other religions and ends with fallacious presumptions about the religious  and ideological affinities of the blogger, that is me.

On a closer look, it represents another sad and somewhat discouraging state of discourse of religious controversies. That is the very low and poor caliber of intellectualism that exists or is emerging from the ranks of Hindu defenders.

It is doubtful that these protestors like the one above are part of the higher rungs of Hindu or Brahmin intelligentsia. I have not had much success in  the past in engaging the upper crust of Hindu elites in any meaningful debate or controversy as this exchange with Anil Mehta of Chinmaya Mission shows.  That is because these elites do not feel the need to engage in any debate as their hegemony or brute dominance of religious ideology and feudal-patriarchal socio-cultural framework is not under any real threat of breakdown.

So skeptical reformist effort and activism has to deal with a different class of intellectualism from the Hindu faithful that uses the staple of fallacies, abuse and presumption to respond to critical attacks on the ideas of  religion inspired irrationality.

As I attempt to pick apart the above comment, statement by statement, I will try to highlight the fallacies as well as the complete ignorance or arrogant defiance of the rules and framework of argument, debate and disputation or both that these types of individuals display.

The irrationality in the world is Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism).

I am guessing that commenter meant to write “The irrationality in the world is due to Abrahamic religions”.

First off, it is an irrelevant and unrelated argument, that has no connection to the point raised in the original blog that Vedas and Upanishads have major faults as works of religion and metaphysics. What relation does irrationality in the world due to Abrahamic religions have to do with the faults and blemishes that are internal to Vedas and Upanishads?

To attribute irrationality of the world to just three religions is in itself a very sweeping generalization. So do other religions not cause any irrationality in the world? While the point of this rebuttal is not to argue against the irrationality of the three Judaic religions, these three are not alone in their irrationality. Any impartial observer and critic can surely note that Hinduism and eastern religions can be as irrational and absurd as the Judaic religions.

They are violent by nature, inconsistent with each other, and absurd in their very core.

To claim that the the Judaic religions are inherently violent (violent by nature) is again a very strong and sweeping claim and also a confusing one since it mixes up or conflates the tendencies or actions of religious followers with the teachings and/or dogma/doctrine of these religions. In case of the Bible, since it consists of both the Old and New Testament, the charge of violence against Christianity will face the challenge of the slippery apologetics of Christian adherents (both literalists and otherwise). While people can quote passages from the scriptures  that encourage violence and killing, to make the broader accusation of a religion itself being violent tenable, the accusers have to show evidence that majority of the adherents of these religions are either practising or inciting violence.

The most incredulous and astounding justification (not just an appeal or call) for violence comes not from the scriptures of Judaic religions, but from the Bhagavad Gita, currently the most revered and ‘studied’ book of Hindu religion.

Here Krishna exhorts a confused Arjuna

  • that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call) and
  • that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias) and
  • that since the people killed in the violence do not really die as only their body dies and the soul cannot be destroyed (metaphysical argument) and
  • that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism) and
  • that since body is unreal, violence and killing is of the unreal body or matter and not of the soul which is the only real thing (metaphysics again),

so war, violence and killing are all fine and indeed a duty to be carried out.

Of course the BG does not care to bother or explain that if the soul cannot be killed, what is the point of killing the body and how is the destruction of a so-called unreal thing, a righteous victory for the protagonist engaging in war and killing.

The impression or presumption that adherents of one religion think poorly of other religions and their followers is not enough to accuse any religions of violence.

To claim that these religions are inconsistent with each other is plausible. But then Christianity does not have to be consistent with Islam or Judaism. But then this is again an unrelated argument. The inconsistency of the scriptures or the teachings of Judaic religions does nothing to rescue the Vedas and Upanishads from their inherent faults.

As I mentioned in the earlier point, Hinduism can be shown to be as absurd to the core as Judaic religions. The Hindu dogma of reincarnation or Punarjanma is as absurd as the Christian belief in resurrection of the Christ or Islamic belief in an afterlife in paradise. For instance, it is very strange that Hindus don’t find anything absurd in the attributes and qualities of their own deities like:

  • Some gods having 4 or 8 hands
  • Some gods having 3 heads and another god having 6 heads
  • Some goddesses having 10 more hands
  • A god having the head of an elephant, 1 1/2 tusk, writing an epic with his broken tusk and riding a mouse.
  • A god sometimes shown with 2 eyes and sometimes with 3 eyes.
  • A wish-fulfillment goddess with 4 eyes!!
  • Gods who need vehicles from the animal world like eagle, peacock, mouse, ox and can’t travel by themselves.

They make believe that God is some angry old man with white beard lashing a whip. And man they keep fighting and fighting, wars after wars… dang!!!

If the God of Judaism is some angry old man with white beard lashing a whip, that caricature does not apply to Christianity and Islam. The God of Islam is formless and the God of Christianity is a triune (Father, Christ and Holy spirit) almost like the troika of the Upanishads (Brahman, Atman and Maya). The caricature of Judaic god cannot be generalized and applied to Christianity and Islam which have changed and refined their metaphysical attributes and theories after they were spawned from Judaism. This kind of vague generalization shows poor knowledge of comparative religion on the part of the commenter and Hindu apologists. The way these people portray rival faiths, shows that they are ignorant of even some of the most basic ideas and themes of those religions.

Then the rant about people of Judaic religions fighting amongst each other is another instance of irrelevant argument of quoting events of the past (religious crusades) and applying them to the present. This argument also does not consider the role of religious composition and relative social positions of rival adherents in understanding the cause of religious conflicts. In India, the religious clashes invariably involve the majority religion. It is less likely that Christians and Muslims would clash and riot in India or Nepal. The communal clashes in India are mostly of the Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian type. Again the Hindu-Christian clashes and riots are less than the Hindu-Muslim type, since Muslims in India far outnumber Christians. To illustrate further, in Sri Lanka, the religious strife is usually of the Buddhist-Hindu variety, rather than Buddhist-Christian or Hindu-Christian type.

And wars are now not fought by people, but by sovereign countries, for reasons that are geo-political and economic, rather than religious. Both the Indo-Pak wars of recent decades had geo-political triggers and had very little to with religion.

Upanishads on the other hand explore the true nature of Brahman.

I can’t stop laughing at these kinds of claims. Upanishads and exploring the true nature of Brahman! Really! Other than the usual Vedanta vested interests like Swamis, Acharyas, missions and cults, only people who have not read the Upanishads can make such fool-hardy claims. If one says that the Upanishads pose riddles and quibbles about Brahman without explaining what it really is and whether such a thing as Brahman is meaningful or useful or worthy of pursuit, that would make some sense. How can anyone explore the true nature of something that is a fiction, fantasy or a bogus intellectual construct. Saying that Brahman is all-pervading and is everywhere and in everything is not exploring its nature, but making vague and unverifiable claims. The same can be said about the sky, air and atmosphere. So then how is Brahman any different from or greater than these natural entities? Then claiming that everything emanates from Brahman and dissolves into it is not helpful or explanatory or explorative, since Upanishads provide no means for validating these grand claims.

Mere assertions or arguments, how many ever times they may be repeated in the Upanishadic texts are not a proof or validation of a claim or statement.

When in some verses of the Upanishads, the authors themselves confess their inability to understand or realize Brahman, where is the point of exploring the true nature of Brahman. Asserting that Brahman is transcendence or beyond senses or perception is an exercise in intellectual escapism and a tactic of deflecting proper inquiry or examination of a claim. These rhetorical tactics will not cut any ice with criticism or proper inquiry.

Just because non-existent things or people (unicorns, UFOs, dragons, Bigfoot, Vishwarupa) can be conceived or contemplated, does not prove their reality. In the same way some states like transcendence or supra-consciousness can be contemplated. But their existence or reality, if at all, still needs to be established independently and without recourse to testimonials, assertions and circular arguments.

The elegant principals of Dharma i.e. Karma, Punarjanma and Moksha were laid down by the Upanishads – any literate man will be able to tell you that. All Dharmic religions i.e. Sanatana Dharma, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism build on this.

It is the stock Hindu belief that Karma (deeds) leads to Punarjanma (re-birth) and Moksha is a release from re-birth. But what is so elegant about this is hard to understand. Other than that the Hindus of today have learned this from almost infancy and never felt the need to examine and question these dogmas. Where is the evidence for re-birth and what efforts have Hindu believers made to really seek and search for its evidence other than taking the words of the Upanishads and Gita on faith and at face value. Not all the Upanishads endorse the theory and doctrine of re-birth. Some Upanishads don’t even mention re-birth. And unfortunately for the ignorance of the average Hindu believer, the idea or notion of birth as well as Moksha is likely an import into Upanishads from the Sramana school of thought (which inspired Jainism and Buddhism). The invention of soul and scare of re-birth into lower forms of  evolution (like animals and insects) seems like the reactionary innovation of Jainist-Buddhist metaphysics to counter the mass killings of cattle and agrarian friendly animals at the elaborate and grotesque Yajurvedic sacrifices.

Eventually Brahmin theologians seem to have hijacked this theme and woven it into the Upanishads and subsequent sutras and scriptures. A very poor historical perspective of how societies could have evolved and changed in ancient India makes the average Hindu understanding of their scriptures very shallow and narrow.

The poorly informed  Hindu apologist also cannot resist the itch of the current fashion in Hindutva circles of calling Hinduism the “Sanatana Dharma”. These fundamentalists know the meaning of neither Sanatana nor Dharma. Hinduism is surely not Sanatana in any way. In a narrow sense it is a Dharma, but not in the broad sense as with the case of Buddhism which can lay some claim to a code of morality of a secular and humanistic type as against the narrow caste and class privilege based morality of the Dharma Satras of Vedic Hinduism. I have tried to counter this Sanatana lie of the Hindu right in this earlier blog post.

And then again to expose his ignorance of comparative religion, we should remind the commenter that Sikhism is closer to Sufism or even Islam in its conception of a formless divinity and avoidance  of idol worship. It is in no way based on Hindu tenets of superstition like re-birth.

I certainly don’t blame you for being an intolerant Christian or Muslim because that’s in the core teachings of Abraham. Dang one of the 10 commandments state that your God is a jealous God. How ridiculous can that get??? God save these people…

But I would like to blame the commenter for his poor tolerance of religious criticism. Then he also accuses me of being an intolerant Christian or Muslim. Now offended Hindus are unable to make up their mind on whether the critic of Hindu irrationality is a Christian or Muslim. So either or will work for them. Just as they know or care very little about those religions and their teachings, their intolerance is also lumped together. And they also want their God to save such people. What a weird and contorted sense of generosity?!

I wanted to do a summary of the fallacies of the protesting Hindu right, but I am hopeful that readers and critics will be able glean that and more from the above responses.

(Editor’s Note: This article was earlier posted in the author’s blog.)

This post was written by:

- who has written 13 posts on Nirmukta.

An accountant and a man of commerce by background and education, I am a Business Applications analyst by work and profession. I am a lover of diverse intellectual pursuits and interests. I have over time cultivated interests in literature, history and social sciences. In terms of beliefs, I have had in the past my share of swings between irrationality and rationality. As hopefully thinking processes and impulses mature, I am learning to cultivate the faculty of examining all systems and forms of thought and opinions, in whatever it is received and only accept those that accords with reason, logic and understanding.

239 Comments

  • How far have you read the Upanishads? I mean could you tell me the ones you have read?

    • This is a loaded question to which there cannot a straight and simple answer.

      I need to know what you are trying to pose through this kind of question.

      If I were to tell you that I have read thru most of the 13 principal Upanishads and the 2 major exegetical works:
      Brahma Sutra
      Vedanta Sutra Bhasya
      and sundry commentaries of modern spiritualists like Vivekananda, Chinmayananda and
      the counter points made against it by secularists like Dr. Ambedkar, MN Roy and VR Narla

      would that satisfy you?

      If there is something that you would like to say for or against what I have presented in the article, that would be more helpful and useful

      • Your interpretation of these texts is highly biased.Just because you were born in a hindu family(i assume that from your name)and you want to maintain your secular credentials so you are one-sidedly ridiculing everything about hinduism.

        To qoute your arguements//that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call)//
        If you are aware so much about hinduism then you must be knowing the fact that in ancient indian society “Varna” system was there(Which means a person could choose what he want to be- “Birth is not the cause, it is virtues which are the cause of auspiciousness,written in bhagvad geeta.Isnt it what free-thinkers propose.
        So “kshatriya” here is not “casteist” rather its compelling a person to do its duty.Just like we appreciate our armed forces for their bravery.
        Similarly,
        //that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias).The “man” used here doesnt mean “male” rather human,it encompasses male as well as female.Because in sanskrit “manushya” means both male & female.Similarly “paurush” is used in context of “courage & bravery” so is not limited to males only.

        At last what i really intend to propose is that all these religious texts are full of loopholes of which these self-made godmen and penny-thirsty babas seek out advantage,but being an intellectual you must try to interpret them in a way so as to benefit humanity the most, rather then taking an extremists stand and widening the groove between freethinkers and religion freaks.

        • Satish Chandra

          Arnav,

          That varna is not birth based is a misconception. The system works only if is birth based. There are exceptions, but they are just that – exceptions. Not the norm. So the basic premise of your argument is wrong.

          Regarding the “unmanly” reference, the correct interpretation can be arrived by considering the context. Bravey, courage and war are thought to be the domain of men. Saying you are behaving like a women is considered insulting to a man. That’s why we have expressions are “are you wearing bangles?”. Before sermonizing others on how to interpret texts, did it ever occur to you that you may be projecting your own moral code onto the text and ignoring the cultural context?

          • //That varna is not birth based is a misconception// I’ll advive you to go through Jawaharlal nehru’s “The discovery of India”(only if you dont consider that too as absurdity) or Dr. S, Radhakrishnan’s “Indian philosophy” to understand that i am most certainly not projecting my own moral code onto the text and ignoring the cultural context.
            The varna system collapsed with the downfall of some of the premium kingdoms and advent of turks,afgans and other intruders.

            //The system works only if is birth based.// What exactly is your point in mentioning that refrence?Are not from the present???? In our current age we are back on the varna system when people have the right to choose the profession they want(I agree that still mindset of society if rotten,but transformation is happening)And we can see the result that Syatem can work even if it is not birth based.

            By arguing that //Bravey, courage and war are thought to be the domain of men. Saying you are behaving like a women is considered insulting to a man// you are reflecting the typical male chauvinistic ideology,which is common among the masses.Although i have sure belief that you doesnt endorse with that mindset and you are just using refrence of the popular mindset but mind you that texts of morality and culture were mostly written by intellectuals of that time,just as kamasutra,in which sexual fantasies of both men and women are equally discussed.

            Lastly,go and read “Smt. mahadevi verma’s” composition on rani laxmi bai,you will find al the refrences of Bravey, courage and war assigned to a women.If you want examples from Veda period the go and interpret “mahishasur mardini strotam” and other related shlokas.All of them are figurative ofcourse but the message they convey is of tremendous importance for women empowerment.

          • Satish Chandra

            I don’t really care about how people think varna ought to work. I’m only interested in what has really happened in reality. The link I gave explains why despite all the “noble” intentions, the system has no choice but to become birth based. (That article was by Ambedkar. I hope he is not too lowly for your tastes). And it became birth based well before the Afghans or Turks migrated to India. So you argument still doesn’t have a ground to stand on.

            As to your claim that varna system is back, it is bad reasoning. The present system is nowhere close to the the varna dharma as described in the scriptures. This is what I meant by you projecting your moral code. You are picking and choosing whatever is convenient to you.

            If women were really empowered, you’d see them fighting alongside men in wars. Which doesn’t happen even today. What you have cited are exceptions. You are confusing them for the norm.

          • This is the problem you see,you believe only Ambedkar and other scholars and their claims are useless to you just because they were not written by underpriviliged sections of society.
            Secondly you are trying to take this post on a Hindu-against everything note.I never said that i propose revival of culture because i endorse myself with typical hindu-philosophy.I am just proposing that people can only be changed by slow and steady transformations in the society.
            But what you are doing is bluntly refuting everything that is even associated with hinduism.This way you are just creating a wide gap between free-thinking philosophy and stubborn-religious freaks,giving an open hand to “babas & self proclaimed godmens to occupy the vaccum of darkness inside the mind of ordinary masses.
            And women can never fight equally with men,they are not biologically similar to us.In nature women have a role of creator(of new life) that is why we have basic differences between anatomy and physiology of men and women,So in history women have taken up arms only in unavoidable situation.
            And just a suggestion(although i dont think you like any)Read a bit psychology alongwith philosophy and history.

          • Satish Chandra

            Arnav,

            I rely on evidence. Not on the which person is making the argument. You still haven’t provided any evidence to your assertion that varna is not birth based in reality. I have.

            Secondly you are trying to take this post on a Hindu-against everything note

            My points relate to casteism and sexism. That is all. Do you really think casteism and sexism are all that are there in Hinduism? Is that why you perceive my rather specific points as an attack on all of Hinduism?

            And women can never fight equally with men,they are not biologically similar to us.

            Not all men are universally physically strong nor all women universally physically weak. Strength falls on spectrum and they are overlapping areas between men and women. Instead of showing off your condescension, it is rather you who should learn biology and psychology, especially about gender stereotypes.

            A non-sexist culture would recruit anyone who is physically capable into an army. And science dictates that there will be a good number of women who should have made it into an army on that criteria. So yes, Krishna asking Arjuna to be not unmanly is sexist.

          • Satish Chandra

            The hell with it. Just because you are condescending, doesn’t mean I too have to be. I’ll save you time on what modern psychology says on gender stereotyping and point you to this – https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/05/10/faq-but-men-and-women-are-born-different-isnt-that-obvious/

          • I already did,Jawahar lal nehru’s Discovery of India and S. Radhakrishnan’s “Indian Philosophy” isn’t some internet blog written by any newfound scholar,they are renowned literatures.Go through them.

            //My points relate to casteism and sexism. That is all. Do you really think casteism and sexism are all that are there in Hinduism? Is that why you perceive my rather specific points as an attack on all of Hinduism?// well obviously hindu scriptures like other religions are full of such insane notions.Dont assume even for a moment that i support whatever is written in those scriptures.The reason being that they are written and assimilated works of a variety of people with different concepts towards cultute and civilization.What i expect from freethinkers is that you must point out such idle and irrational claims by comparing them with moral interpretation of texts from the very same religion/ideology thats how a contradictory assesment is possible and more people will agree with you and will stop practicing illogical deeds because of fear to religion.

            Right from my first comment i am trying to propose this only.May be my ineffecient english is not able to put things properly.

            And the refrence i made to female from biological perspectives was a generalised one.
            //Not all men are universally physically strong nor all women universally physically weak. Strength falls on spectrum and they are overlapping areas between men and women//…………well obviously but when we take things in general consideration then we assume only average or median values and naturally/biologically majority of men are powerful the majority of women.

            And yes not all women universally physically weak,we have plenty of examples to support that.
            At last i can say only one thing that right from my first comment i am NOT opposing the basic idea that Hinduism is full of flaws,am just opposing the way they are proposed.

          • Satish Chandra

            Arnav,

            Where in the books you suggested is there historical evidence that contradicts what I had linked to, i.e the ossification of the caste system?

            And I would still say that you are defending what the author has criticized and not the way he has done the criticism. Taking the example of sexism, what Krishna said will be considered as sexist today. The fact that you had defended it on grounds of “not interpreting it correctly” and then when I put the quote in context, you then used gender essentialism as a counter point to my context. I then showed why gender essentialism in untenable. So do you or do you not agree that what Krishna said is sexist? If it is the latter, you are defending a flaw of Hinduism.

        • Arnav,

          For unmanliness, the word used is “klaibyam.” There are Sanskrit dictionaries from universities on the Internet that expound on klaibya, and most agree that its connotation is cowardice in a man specifically. It also seems to mean impotence in medical texts.

          • Satish,

            For you guys everything that is attached with religion is derogatory.First of all krishna said that or not or in other words krishna was real or not is a question of long debate,but you are pulling out point-to-point words to satisfy your arguements.Whatever geets says is figurative.They are verses and one has to interpret them in order to properly understand the context.This is where difference arises.What krishna said is sexist or not depends how you take it.Go to religion-extremists people and they’ll interpret it as superiority of men,so as to defend Male-dominancy and infact will provoke the masses to act accordingly,deteriorating the whole idea of women-upliftment.Whereas an intellectual would interpret in the context that “man(humans) need to show show courage at the time of need and if we are not doing so then we are unmanly(including both males as well as females).
            A liberal intellectual wont take an extreme end.
            What the author is trying to convey is an open hatred toward religion,and his purpose as i reckon is to promote free-thought and put an end to religious hypocrisy,and that is a noble thought but the way he’s doing it wont take him or his motive to a fruitful end.

            Ashwin,

            //Life is not a bed of roses. It is not a smooth sail on a calm river in a fine weather. It is a difficult voyage across the ocean in a rough weather. We have to fight all through – fight against our enemies, fight against our vices, fight against our fears that pull us back. There is always an internal Mahabharat Sangram within our body. If we wish to put three steps forward, our fears pull us six steps backwards. We should not yield to this. If we yield we will develop many phobias in our life. We will be scared of water, heights, depths, darkness, our own people and under estimate ourselves.//

            In the context of geeta and mahabharat,arjuna was nothing but men and he too was characterized by the basic notions that affect a man and his potential.You are stressing on just one aspect and ignoring the real moral message that needs to be interpreted to the masses.This is what extremists do.They will specifically point it out “that because geeta says its unmanly,so man is definitely superior then women”.In short taking an extreme nd.
            But you are also doing the same by totally rejecting everything that geeta says,even its moral account.But the masses can’t live without a cultural legacy,they need some philosophies and ideologies to survive in this eternally endless universe.In this situation they are bound to fall prey to the religion-extremists,just to avoid the fury of unknown.

            //So do you or do you not agree that what Krishna said is sexist? If it is the latter, you are defending a flaw of Hinduism//
            The ultimate thing is spread of humanism,and for that even if one has to to defend some flaws one should .Its the greater goal that matters.

            Below is a link,this actually is a fine example to show that how modern science sometimes opens up window for religion-freaks to propup and advocate their fallacy and influence the masses.

            http://neurosciencenews.com/psychology-time-perception-meditation-250/

          • Satish Chandra

            For you guys everything that is attached with religion is derogatory

            You keep insisting on making strawman arguments. Why?

            you are pulling out point-to-point words to satisfy your arguements.

            A proper discussion is one which stays on point and doesn’t go rambling off on a thousand different points. So what were you expecting? That your attempts at diverting attention off from the premises of your arguments will go unnoticed?

            What the author is trying to convey is an open hatred toward religion,and his purpose as i reckon is to promote free-thought and put an end to religious hypocrisy,and that is a noble thought but the way he’s doing it wont take him or his motive to a fruitful end.

            Your arguments belie where your biases lie. As I said, it isn’t about the way it is done but about the fact that you don’t like the specific points about The Geeta that are being criticized. You keep saying religion has flaws and yet are extremely reluctant to agree that a flaw pointed out in the article is indeed a flaw. You keep introducing new justifications every time the flaws in the old one are pointed out.

            Coming to your yet another freshly minted justification, condoning sexism does not contribute to the greater good. If you really believe so, try justifying how some people thinking women belong in the house contribute to the greater good.

  • Well you have done a great deal of work in pointing out the idle claims of the hindu-appologists.I am myself an atheist,but being a man of commerce the thing that you,and most other new-found free-thinkers miss is the Biological perspective.Man is an animal like all others.With the advancements in society we have created a pseudo-universe around us which always ignores the evolutionary perspecvtive of life(life seeks safety & shelter for survival,which religions provide them).All the religions of the world were initially some or other philosophies that came into existence for the smooth running of the society.With the passage of time they degraded because of lack of rational analysis and actions.So logically all the religions of the world are full of flaws,stupid tales and dogmatic principles.Hence it is inevitably important to question them.But as i mentioned earlier Man is an ordinary(although highly evolved but still an ordinary)life-form.And one of the basic principle of evolution is the search of security,which society provied and religion more or less controls society.Hence majority of the worldly population can never alter their beliefs just because somebody is claiming it to be irrational.What i prefer is REVIVAL and NOT ALTERATION.
    All the religions are nothing but literatures written by some of the intellectuals or powerful(yet insane) people.The difference comes by the way one interprets it.

    To qoute your arguement//The most incredulous and astounding justification (not just an appeal or call) for violence comes not from the scriptures of Judaic religions, but from the Bhagavad Gita, currently the most revered and ‘studied’ book of Hindu religion.

    Here Krishna exhorts a confused Arjuna

    that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call) and
    that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias) and
    that since the people killed in the violence do not really die as only their body dies and the soul cannot be destroyed (metaphysical argument) and
    that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism) and
    that since body is unreal, violence and killing is of the unreal body or matter and not of the soul which is the only real thing (metaphysics again),
    so war, violence and killing are all fine and indeed a duty to be carried out.//
    Here the things mentioned are just for figurative purpose.Just like poetic metaphors.
    War is inevitable when it is AGAINST HUMANITY.Here kshatriya also refers to the armed-forces of our nation as well.Self-defence is totally natural and must acceptable.So when geeta says that “war is inevitable” it just reflects the very basic nature of animals i.e. to secure themself.
    Similarly all religions and relegious texts possess some really-valuable moral or practical information,the difference occurs by the way we interpret it.

    So if intellectuals like you really want to change the mindset and blind beliefs of the masses then you must try to revive their thinkings by correctly INTERPRETING the texts that these masses are following rather then onesidedly opposing everything(Sri aurbindo,vivekanad,gandhiji and many others did that and even succeded upto some extent).You are one of the few-privilaged individuals who have been able to control the fear of unknown-which in most cases leads to blind-belief on religion(You can thank your genetics and physiology for that)So use it to revive other’s thinking rather then isolationg yourself from them by ridiculing and opposing everything people believes.And as i reckon its a common tactic in marketing that people tends to accept the products that are somehow-or-other related with them.

    #peace#
    Revival is the best method to change dogmas and transform superstitious-religious people into freethinkers.
    Criticize religion but the best way to do it is by interpreting it in logical way.

    • Captain Mandrake

      ** What i prefer is REVIVAL and NOT ALTERATION.**

      I do not think any one here prefers ALTERATION. What people here prefer is complete ELIMINATION of religion from society.

      • Consider a tribe residing in a secluded forest.And suddenly a group of people from the outer world(from a developed/civilised society) suddenly appears and claims these people that they are living a nomadic/underdeveloped lifestyle.So they must abandon all this and come with us to enjoy tea with salted biscuits!!!!
        What reaction do you expect from this tribe?????

        • Satish Chandra

          That is an absurd analogy. A correct analogy would be – Given mutually agreed upon views like “death, pain, suffering are bad”, would it be correct for the tribe to refuse things like vaccination or modern sanitation?

          • Absurdity lies in the context in which argument is interpreted.Things like vaccination and modern sanitation can only be proposed to stablised society.When edward jenner first came with the concept of vaccinization most people were frightened but with passage of time it became a normal phenomenan.Doubt and Fear of unknown dominates people when suddenly a new idea props up and demands to transform everything.Even if people might agree with you on some of the topics of irrationality,but still the fear or fury of the higher being is what dominates the logic of majority.
            Its a proven fact that its comparitively easier for us to learn or understand things that are somehow or other related/linked with our mindset.Even scientific theories are based on refrences.

  • Nice. The author certainly did a good job of pointing out various “supposed” inconsistencies. First and foremost, this was a well thought out and researched work attempting to directly ridicule some commenter who probably doesn’t agree with some of your previous posts. Now, I can see why you would do that. But it is a pity you don’t realize the redundancy of entering into arguments with pseudo-intellectuals instead of the actual ones.
    The scriptures are full of escapist constructs, yes. But scripture was written by man, not god. And as you very well know, a human mind only sees what it wants to. Scriptures are a product of editing and copywriting. The original may have been relevant and simple to understand during their time. But the later versions have been shrouded in complexity(and with good reason). Can you try and explain relativity to a 10 year old?? Can you even begin to make him understand??? No matter how hard you try you will confuse him and he will continue to question you. The prudent course of action here would be to first understand every aspect of the concept yourself and then explain to the child in a way he can understand. You my friend are like the stubborn child who refuses to wait to grow up enough to understand something that is beyond you. The fact that it is open for debate is proof enough that it still needs some work to be fully complete.
    Atheists really have to be thanked, because you pull out any minor loopholes that we might have missed. Debates with you strengthen our understanding of these concepts.

    • Satish Chandra

      So what would convince you that the author fully understood your beloved scriptures?

      Let me take your analogy of relatively and tell you what would convince me pf the validity of anything. Assuming I don’t understand relativity, I would accept that it is a sound theory if somebody shows me what would happen to a GPS satellite was launched without factoring in relativity.

      A scripture may be complex. That in itself proves nothing. Anyone familiar with the field of philosophy can produce truly remarkable pieces of complexity that are utterly irrelevant today. What matters is how useful it is. So instead of having a goal of picking a position and winning debates on it, ask if your belief system can pay rent.

      (Btw, that isn’t an invitation for you to make this comment space a platform to show off your debating skillz).

      • Frankly, if you are truly focused on only making money, then religion is your best bet. Babas and pastors are richer than the top business persons today. Even you know that. It’s clear that you only want to pick at individual arguments without engaging so I won’t trouble you any further. Have a good day.

        • Satish Chandra

          Good FSM! Do you even pay attention to what others’ comments really say? Or just read whatever you want to read in them? The idea of “making money” isn’t even there in my comment. Not even obtusely metaphorically.

        • I think he misunderstood your reference to a belief system paying rent.

    • So absurdity and nonsense in many of these scriptures are minor loopholes to you!!!

      Really the tenacity of denialism in faith is amazing indeed!!!

      And this was expected that Hindu scriptures will be compared to Relativity!!!

      Because some other Hindu worthies responding to my blog posts have compared these scriptures and Hindu spirituality to Software programs, complex poems, quantum mechanics etc. The list of false comparisons knows no end at all. The only thing remaining is the comparison to Rocket Science and Space technology. But who knows somebody has already done that.

      It is the typical tactic of the religious defender to accuse the critic of poor understanding and stubbornness.

      How did you determine that understanding of scriptures is beyond me or any other skeptic. What is the chain of reasoning behind that conclusion. You have some explaining to do.

      Vague and political statements like “all aspects have to be considered and understood and explained” will not work

      You are free to quote, define and frame properly the aspects of scriptures that have to be understood.

      • I have nothing to explain to you. There was nothing vague or political in what I said. Maybe some obvious sarcasm for your benefit. The fact thst you’ve rdecided not to allow my follow-up comments is proof that you are stubborn and unwilling to hear anything that goes to destroy your statement. If that’s not stubborn then we both use a very different dictionary.
        Anything I say is not going to budge you from your positoin. You are just as stubborn and closed as a blind supertitious religious fanatic. I’m pretty sure you won’t post this comment either. I’ve seen a lot of arm-chair philosophers such as yourselves. You know, whatever lets you sleep properly.

        • Satish Chandra

          There is something called moderating comments. People use it on the Internet. If you can’t be bothered to know that much and assume the absolute worst of everyone who doesn’t agree with you, please spare yourself and us some time and don’t bother commenting.

  • With regards to the issue of religious violence, your claims are illogical and lack proper research. The only point I agree with you is neither us nor you can escape quoting scripture. I also do not agree with your claims regarding sanatana dharma. Sanatana and Hinduism are two very different things. Hinduism is a made up religion just like any other for simple political reasons. Sanatana is not a religion. The name literally means way of life. An exemplary way of life that was put forward by great intellectuals. Sadly it was corrupted later by lesser individuals and made into Hinduism or hindutva that we see today. The term ‘Hindu’ is a corruption of the word ‘Sindhu’ that implies that these were a people situated along the Sindhu river or Indus River. While the actual fact is that the actual Vedic civilization was situated around the now-extinct Saraswathi river. This is the main reason why we refute the name Hinduism, not simply because it suits us.

    Violence carried out by Abrahamic religions is most intense and this is undeniable fact. If you had actually spent some time on research even you would know this. Let us look at the early days of these religions objectively.
    JUDAISM: the Hebrew people of Israel and Canaan were a group of tribes without a strong leader. They were always under attack by the philistine people. The Egyptians defeated and carried millions back home as slaves. The only way to survive was the unification of all the 12 tribes of Israel. This was almost impossible, but then came Abraham with message from god. And his son Issac united the tribes. Moses too used this message from god idea to lead the slaves out of Egypt. The Israelites went straight to war the philistines and drove them out of the land( the cause of the Palestine conflict of today). The religion spread only through conquest and capture. Anyone who refused this god was killed. Propagation with violence.
    CHRISTIANITY: just the way you are fed up with religion now, a bunch was fed up the Jewish hierarchy then. So they came up with the whole son of god scam. If he ever existed, Jesus couldn’t have been more than a simple pastor with good public skills and excellent PR department. Nothing about this faith is original. The concepts, holidays and other concepts were ‘borrowed’ from existing pagan faiths of the time to facilitate the conversion of the people. The royalty was already sold on the idea of a new god as a political administration tool. The people were just lured into it by heavy fraud. And then they undertook conquests and fought wars to propagate this line of thought. Leading right until the crusades of the dark ages.

    ISLAM: this was nothing more than a scam to cover up another scam. Here too, the Arabic nations were in turmoil and there was no real unity. Judaism and Christianity were prevalent. A member of a leading tribe, Muhammed decides that he received a commandment from god and sets about preaching a new religion. On the basis of this new formed religion, this simple goat herder amasses an army and sets about conquering non-compliant tribes. Once he united his tribes he went about conquering the neighboring nations. With a single intention of installing a Khalifa system of political structure, He preached ideas that facilitate this. And then more violence followed when it began its destructive spread to other countries.

    Now try telling me that Sanātana or even modern Hinduism is so violent. Those were religions made for political consolidation. Sanatana was just always here. There is no beginning to it and surely no end. The greatness of these concepts fell in decay under the long succession if foreign rulers. No Indian ever dreamed of foreign conquest. Foreigners have been eyeing Bharat for centuries. Makes you wonder what they saw here.
    I like to close my argument with a single statement, religion, whatever it maybe, preaches only peace. People unable to properly wrap their heads around it cause the violence. You can’t blame a religion for that.

    • Captain Mandrake

      The term ‘Hindu’ is a corruption of the word ‘Sindhu’ that implies that these were a people situated along the Sindhu river or Indus River.

      How many times do we have to hear this trivia on this forum? And what does that have to do with anything written in the article?

      The article is about exposing the flaws in the bull-shit arguments that are routinely offered by idiot apologists in response to someone who criticizes non-sense concepts like Dharma, Karma, etc. If you have better arguments for why people should hold on to these non-sense concepts please by all means make them and people here will gladly engage you. But first make those arguments. Inane trivia like ‘Hindu’ is a corruption of the word ‘Sindhu’ that implies that these were a people situated along the Sindhu river or Indus River. add nothing to the debate.

      Sanatana and Hinduism are two very different things.

      Is this Dharma, Karma, and other similar bullshit part of Sanatana? If yes, then what difference does it make whether you call this Hinduism or Sanatana for bullshit by any other name would smell just as bad.

      • Satish Chandra

        I’ve redirected Raghuram’s comments to /dev/null. All he seems capable of posting is personal attacks.

        • Hey Satish

          Good to see you back again on the comment-space with your usual gusto and no-nonsense approach.

          I had always meant to acknowledge the invaluable support you have provided to these comment-trails.

          In our polemical battles, we mostly forget to acknowledge these gestures and appreciate the sense and benefit of our own camaraderie.

          Thanks again!!!

    • JUDAISM: the Hebrew people of Israel and Canaan were a group of tribes without a strong leader. They were always under attack by the philistine people. The Egyptians defeated and carried millions back home as slaves. The only way to survive was the unification of all the 12 tribes of Israel. This was almost impossible, but then came Abraham with message from god. And his son Issac united the tribes. Moses too used this message from god idea to lead the slaves out of Egypt.

      There are many problems with this. The first is that, even within the biblical narrative, Egyptian enslavement happened well after Abraham. Abraham even visited Egypt and left on good terms. The second problem is that from a historical perspective, the Hebrews were probably never enslaved by the Egyptians.

  • Captain Mandrake

    Ranganath R,

    Great article. And very funny too. I really laughed out loud when I read this “A god having the head of an elephant, 1 1/2 tusk, writing an epic with his broken tusk and riding a mouse.”. I tried to visualize this not as a cartoon image but with a real man with head of a real elephant and so on… and I simply could not stop laughing.

    That is the very low and poor caliber of intellectualism that exists or is emerging from the ranks of Hindu defenders.

    Is a highly intellectual defense of Hinduism even possible? I remember a Youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EphcacBt-Mk) where someone asks Dawkins the question (paraphrased here) “Have you ever encountered a clever argument for God?” and Dawkins looks around and replies “None” with a sheepish grin. I believe the same applies to the defense of Hinduism as well.

    • Thanks Capt. Mandrake!! for complimenting the effort.

      You asked a very good question about the defense of Hinduism.

      The honest answer has to be what you mentioned about Dawkins’ response.

      But the problem now is what Vivekananda, Aurobindo and ‘Boston Brahmins’ have shown in their path towards revivalism. Deepak Chopra is a very good caricature of that type of intellectual self-deception.

      In one way it can be termed as applying intellectual and scholastic veneer over dross-like religious content. Spiritual acme and Consciousness are the new catch words of the New Age religious brigade. God is now being rescued by or replaced with more red herrings than the skeptics can catch up with.

      Crude apologetic has its ally in the above kind of intellectual snobbery. We have to deal with both I guess?!

      It is somewhat like what one of the commenters above claimed that Hindu religion is not a religion. And Brahman is not God!!! Neither is it ‘Not God’. That is ‘Neti Neti’ for you. Did you understand this kind of ‘Neither here nor there’ kind of talk. I did not!! But then that is the art of Sanatana Dogmatics.

  • If the God of Judaism is some angry old man with white beard lashing a whip, that caricature does not apply to Christianity and Islam. The God of Islam is formless and the God of Christianity is a triune (Father, Christ and Holy spirit) almost like the troika of the Upanishads (Brahman, Atman and Maya).

    I think it applies to Christianity as well. God as an old man is always depicted in Christian art, most famously in the Sistine Chapel. I’m actually not sure whether the Jews picture their god in such a way– they’re more stringent about idolatry, like Muslims.

  • Ranganath R,

    The things that Krishna said, like war is need, soul never dies etc…..

    For you are only taking only a part of the whole story. This is same as like media persons do to defame someone. What Krishna teaches us is to reject all evil and accept all good. What is evil and what is good, the difference is state as Dharma, not karma. Karma is associated with one person, whears, dharma applies to all. The difference with Middle eastern culture and ours is that, in Middle east too, they says kill all the bad and do good, but what’s good and what’s bad is not clearly stated. Hence that’s why for Islam, christianity is bad, for Sunni, shia is a kafir etc. Ours doesn’t have something like that. Everything is well defined. The truth is modern world is not following the true meaning of upanishads. A Brahmins son is not a brahmin, Actually a person who has great knowledge is brahmana. Example, valmiki was born as shudra, but later he is seen in kings courts as saint…..as goes for kalidasa. Present day castism has not proper basis. It somehow got into our culture. There are many other things that got into our culture. However following atheistism won’t do any good. Becuase it will only make way for new religions. I am not speaking about the proper atheists, who take irrationality as true and science as great, but there are many atheists in our community who says they are irrational, but actually they are only haters of god. They don’t know yet. If they feel any miracle, they won’t hesitate to follow the concept of creator. If you say Hinduism has no proper basis, then its wrong. Its a culture, and yes it has proper basis. However ill formed irrational thinking won’t do any good, to the community.

    • K, so you made a claim here. That is, “you are only taking only a part of the whole story. This is same as like media persons do to defame someone”
      But then, you give absolutely ZERO evidence to back it up, instead stating completely irrelevant material.

      “What is evil, what is good, difference between dharma and karma..”
      What does any of this have to do with the central argument, or your claim??

      And then, you go on to make a lot of assertions, like “Everything is well defined,modern world is not following the true meaning of upanishads. Krishna teaches us to reject all evil and accept all good.”
      You have provided no evidence for ANY of these claims.
      Are you saying that you have somehow divined the ‘true meaning’ of the upanishads?

      And saying that casteism ‘somehow’ got into our culture, is just plain cherry-picking. Everything that you conceive as right, has a basis in the upanishads, but everything else ‘somehow’ ended up in our culture.

      And how exactly do you believe that following atheism will make way for new religions? And you even go on to say that “If you say Hinduism has no proper basis, then it’s wrong”, thus defeating the whole point of ‘rational debate’.

      My friend, you can make all the assertions you like, but without any kind of evidence for them, don’t expect anyone to take your arguments seriously…

      • //atheism will make way for new religions//

        Because people are supposed to be diverse.Their ideologies , philosophies and beliefs are controlled by a complex interaction of their gentics,physiology and the nature(physical,moral and social)that surrounds them.Man is subjected to fear and anxiety which in turn is the main factor for the origin and continuation of religion.
        As we all know that modern scientists are also proposing the “Multiverse” theory hence there seems always a possibility that we wont be able to limit everything that exists.In other words there is a faculty of “unknown”,this entity creates curiosity and each individual interprets that curiosity in his own way.
        Neurobiology also claims that complexity of human brain is so tremendous that a single model to explain all psychological principles is likely impossible.
        Hence its likely not possible that religion could totally be uprooted from human civilization(Although not counting some sudden mutation,but the chances are less likely)

  • vivek krishna

    There are a thousand ways in which Veda’s can be interpreted(in fact it is very hard not to be prejudiced), but the one truth as I was thought is anything which is contradicting vedas is untrue. that is what is followed in all the sutras and vedantas.

    This is similar to what is occurring in other religions too because once you start questioning the books which improve faith, then the whole system collapses.Having faith helps, even if sometimes it is wrong until you realize that all these finally teach only one thing. To see god(yourself) in everyone. Once this is attained all these books(i am not saying any religion specific) etc does not matter.

  • Hello,

    Let me tell you my philosophy in two lines below,

    Being religious is like blind.
    Being athiest is like dumb.

    I am neither athiest nor religious. Still searching to find out the truth.
    Neither you or i can prove that god exists or not exists. Let’s understand this simple fact.

    I haven’t read vedas or upanishads much. But i’ve read advaitha philosophy and very much impressed.
    The “aham brahmasmi” or “Jeevo brahmaiva naapara” has many levels of thought than we presume.

    That means human consciousness(jeevatma) and universal consciousness ( paramatma) are not different. This is analogous to waves in ocean. All jeevatma are like waves in ocean but it is ultimately ocean itself.

    I am not sure how paramatma got created. May be my brain is not capable of understanding it.

    Modern day scientists like Roger penrose’s theory of consciousness is nothing but advaita.

    You’d have already read elsewhere that all modern day scientists of quantum mechanics have tried to study about this consciousness and all of them are admirers of the upanishads philosophy.

    One humble suggestion :- Please stop using below words as the first sentence for countering any argument,
    — “This is absurd”
    — “i can’t stop laughing”
    — etc..

    to stop making yourself absurd.
    No offence meant!.

    -Mahesh

    • Satish Chandra

      Mahesh,

      I’d suggest you read this article and also all the comments – http://nirmukta.com/2012/02/16/deconstructing-the-inanity-of-brahman-and-the-vedantic-worldview/

    • Captain Mandrake

      ** One humble suggestion :- Please stop using below words as the first sentence for countering any argument, — “This is absurd” — “i can’t stop laughing” — etc..

      to stop making yourself absurd.**

      Amazing suggestion. But does not seem to square with your two line philosophy.

      ** Being athiest is like dumb.**

      As to your comments on quantum mechanics and Upanishads I will withhold my laughter until after you read the article in the link provided by Satish and let us know if you still think quantum mechanics has anything to do with Upanishads or advaitha.

      • I think he’s trying to paraphrase Einstein’s quote:

        “Science without religion is lame/Religion without science is blind.”

        He seems to be using “dumb” to mean “unable to speak,” not “stupid.”

      • Captain Mandrake,

        //But does not seem to square with your two line philosophy//

        Either you didn’t understand what i said or vice versa.
        What i meant is to stop ridicule anything at first before making an argument just to show your ego. Dont be sarcastic !

        //As to your comments on quantum mechanics and Upanishads I will withhold my laughter until after you read the article //

        Please dont do that. you would die :-)
        I shall definitely read that article. Will be happy if i get some clue that quantum mechanics has nothing to do with vedanta.

        I am surely not brighter than Fritjof capra or Penrose or J.A.Wheeler or Schrodinger …
        So i dont have much choice.

        thanks,
        Mahesh

        • I also use some logical deductions based on present day evidences.
          For example, ayurveda. which is a vedic knowledge. It is pretty much sophisticated.

          Those who developed it must have good knowledge of human body. Also they would have knowledge of thousands of herbs and their medicinal qualities. And the mix and match of herbs to prepare medicines ..

          Do you think it is possible by just trial and error method ? Impossible i believe.
          There is no other ancient knowledge that can match ayurveda.
          It is a wonder how they knew all this.

          Any clues ?

          -Mahesh

          • Your evidence is dubious.

            First off, Ayurveda is not based off the Vedas. The Vedas do have some sort of healing system in the Atharva Veda, but it is completely different from Ayurveda.

            I also find it to be a dubious claim that no other ancient form of medicine can match Ayurveda. For its time, Chinese medicine was also quite advanced. Many Ayurvedic remedies are not effective, while some are– and I am quite comfortable with the assertion that these were arrived at through trial and error.

        • Captain Mandrake

          ** I am surely not brighter than Fritjof capra or Penrose or J.A.Wheeler or Schrodinger**

          Stop making arguments from authority. It is totally irrelevant what these people thought of advaita and Upanishads.

          Explicitly show how advaita and Upanishads have contributed to quantum mechanics if you can.

        • Below is a link to a recent article on Scientific American about recent advances in understanding the uncertainties around quantum physics/mechanics (famous or notorious Hiesenberg uncertainty principle or the Copenhagen interpretation)
          (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bringing-schrodingers-quantum-cat-to-life)

          One of the clues to why and how Vedanta has nothing even close to Quantum mechanics is that the latter field is constantly changing and updating its hypotheses in the light of new observations and experiments.

          Then quantum mechanics has practical uses in things subatomic and its mathematical implications and equations can be used in communications and other other technologies which rely on transmission/manipulation of attributes like sound, waves, particles etc.

          It has the ability to define terms and concepts like photons, electrons,bosons etc.

          It has rules/definitions for measurement of wave collapse, exact position of a particle etc.

          On the other hand Brahman and Paramatman are static concepts and there is no body/theory of meaningful knowledge around them. Universal Consciousness is just a term with a thousand or more interpretations. What are the rules for its measurability?.

          Quantum mechanics may be hard to understand because of its complexity, but Vedanta does not make sense because its premises are not clear and its claims are not verifiable. A word pile cannot become a theory or even a meaningful concept just because of its wordiness or commentaries or cult following

          When you cannot or do not understand Paramatman, what is basis for comparing it to a wave. And what kind of wave??

  • first of all…the commentator is a ignorant believer who thinks that only his religion is true n other religions are false….i also agree with the writer on the image of hindu gods…some gods have 4 hands n 6 heads n all that stuff…
    now what i find misleading n harmful abt this article is that how it shows bhagavad gita as a violent scripture by cherry picking things out of the context n make them look very violent n inhuman to a normal rational guy who hasnt read gita nor knows the plot of the scene where these verses where told.
    before reading those sentences given the article from gita, maybe u should know some of these things..krishna first of all explains arjun the defination of an enemy. krishna says to arjun that whoever is an enemy of humanity and human morals is your enemy…therefore his teacher, his relatives and his grandfather bishma whom he loved most where his enemies because they supported the evil prince duryodhan now speaking of those lines //that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call) //….this is a manipulated verse…the original verse meant something like this…taking up war and fighting against the people who are a harm to the human society is a duty of a kshatriya.n moreover there is nothing casteist about that verse…..since it is mentioned many times in mahabharata that a anyone is not a kshatriya by his birth, but is worthy to call himself as a kshatriya(warrior) only by his actions….krishna himself has many times told that a true kshatriya is the guy who fights to protect human rights…now going to the second verse //that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias)//…off course not fighting to protect ur basic human rights is unmanly…now u know that by enemies he doesnt mean his personal enemies but the enemies of mankind ok…now speaking of //that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism)//…..as far as i know about gita this verse doesnt exist.

    • Hukum,

      I do not want to get into your escape clauses of using allegory and convenience of interpretation to absolve the Gita of the charges levied against it.

      Your silence on the metaphysical arguments of the Gita Chapter 2 verses (soul and rebirth) are very ‘eloquent’ and instructive of the apologist strategy of ignoring the uncomfortable and the inconvenient questions and issues.

      My identification of the argument of fatalistic super naturalism of Gita is not just based on Chapter 2 initial verses. Please also refer to Chapter 11 (Vishwarupa Darshana) verses 26 & 27. Those verses present a graphic description of the destruction of the Kauravas within the form of Vishwarupa presented as a divination (future event ordained by Krishna) from Krishna to Arjuna.

      Looks like you need to read the Gita more closely and properly before making cocky claims about non-existence of verses that cause you discomfiture.

  • I must disagree with some of the points raised in the post. Please find responses inline.

    that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call) and

    If you read the Gita’s chapter 2, Krishna describes the caste system correctly. Kshatriyas is a term used to refer to warriors and their dharma was to fight injustice(much like a soldier today). In the Mahabharatha, Pandavas didn’t fight instantly when denied their kingdom – they pleaded with Kauravas for their rightful share forcibly taken from them and even agreed to settle for less(5 villages as opposed to half the kingdomom). When Kauravas didn’t yield, they were left with no other choice. Put yourself in their position – someone exiles you and takes over your property by force. Would you simply sit it out and say “Oh I’m a follower of peace. I won’t fight.”? People will exploit you in that case!

    that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism)

    I think this is misquoted. It is ordained by law of Karma that as you sow, so shall you reap. If you do bad deeds, they come back to you in some form or the other.

    so war, violence and killing are all fine and indeed a duty to be carried out.

    Again this has been misquoted. As I said earlier, every Kshatriya tries to avoid violence unless absolutely impossible to do so(eg: the unyielding Kauravas). Unwarranted killing is not a good idea.

    Of course the BG does not care to bother or explain that if the soul cannot be killed, what is the point of killing the body and how is the destruction of a so-called unreal thing, a righteous victory for the protagonist engaging in war and killing.

    It is to realize that the body is merely a vehicle which is transient while soul is the true essence. While it is true that Pandavas defeated Kauravas, it doesn’t mean the Pandavas were victorious. The Pandavas were disgusted with the destruction war had brought about(which they knew will happen) but they had no choice but to fight adharma.

    The Hindu dogma of reincarnation or Punarjanma is as absurd as the Christian belief in resurrection of the Christ or Islamic belief in an afterlife in paradise.

    Maybe you should read Yale educated psychiatrist Brian Weiss’ book “Many lives, many masters” in which he describes how he discovered that reincarnation is a reality. He did not believe in reincarnation till he met his first patient who detailed events from past lives when under hypnosis.

    For instance, it is very strange that Hindus don’t find anything absurd in the attributes and qualities of their own deities like:

    Some gods having 4 or 8 hands
    Some gods having 3 heads and another god having 6 heads
    Some goddesses having 10 more hands
    A god having the head of an elephant, 1 1/2 tusk, writing an epic with his broken tusk and riding a mouse.
    A god sometimes shown with 2 eyes and sometimes with 3 eyes.
    A wish-fulfillment goddess with 4 eyes!!
    Gods who need vehicles from the animal world like eagle, peacock, mouse, ox and can’t travel by themselves.

    No – we believe that animals are divine. They are all a form of symbolism and representative of something. It is also an understanding that nature is divine and we must respect, preserve and live in harmony with it.

    How can anyone explore the true nature of something that is a fiction, fantasy or a bogus intellectual construct. Saying that Brahman is all-pervading and is everywhere and in everything is not exploring its nature, but making vague and unverifiable claims.

    Just because non-existent things or people (unicorns, UFOs, dragons, Bigfoot, Vishwarupa) can be conceived or contemplated, does not prove their reality.

    Maybe you should read about “Mirror Neurons”(even see the TED talk by neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran) and how they indicate that there is one thing which pervades through everyone. As any spiritual master would say, one cannot comprehend the Branhman using the mind; one must realize Brahman to be able to comprehend.

    One of the greatest features of Hinduism is that one can question the religion and even contribute to it. I’m pretty sure most Islam scholars will tell you that God himself gave the Quran and hence it is infalliable. I’m unsure if any other religion will allow it’s followers to question it’s teachings. Also, I know many followers of Christianity and Islam truly believe that those who do not folow other religions will not be able to reach heaven.

    • Arvind,

      I will go about responding to you comment in the reverse sequence:

      It is a myth that questioning of any religion is appreciated or accepted. It is being tolerated now because of the relative democratic basis of some of our nations and societies in the current times. This is result of republicanism and not because of the magnanimity of religions.

      In the past Caravakas were not tolerated for questioning and refuting Vedic religion. Their texts were burned and their followers were hounded out. Buddhists were also presecuted at many points in historical turn of events. There is evidence in Puranas and Sastras of the vilification of Gautama Buddha, the prophet of Buddhism

      I have done this experiment and I suggest you can do this too. Go to a spiritual study and start questioning the basis of spirituality or the dvinity of Krishna, and see the reactions.

      I was sought to be outshouted and silenced by alleging that I was disruptive. We did not come to blows because you have obey the laws of a foreign land. I was literally told not question matters of belief.

      Christianity is questioned, refuted and debunked far more than any religion. Because of science, democracy and republican political structure, there is no choice but to put up with skeptical attacks on Christianity.

      Islam is not questioned and attacked so much because of the state of society and politics in those countries and states.

      The same is the problem with India and Hinduism, we have not made enough social and material progress (individuality, liberty of thought, freedom for diversity) to gather the courage to challenge the irrationality of Hindu religion at the institutional and political level.

      We can clearly see that people like you are already offended by your religion being taken thru the cleaners and all it warts, boils and sores being cruelly exposed.

      This pretense of the religion being generous to questioning has no leg to stand. We are not questioning the Hindu religion. The purpose is to expose its sham and utterly flimsy foundations

      We would like to surely contribute, but to the downfall and demise of Hinduism, if you will.

      Coming to ‘Mirror Neurons’, we can see thru the apologist game here as well. This is called hijacking scientific concepts and without caring to understand them, apply to religious dogmas and fantasy theories using the trick of false correlation.

      Mirror Neurons don’t necessarily prove that one thing pervades everything. There are many particle forms in the Universe. Even if they are established to have emerged/evolved from a single source, that source can still be particle-based and physical/material and not a spirit or an essence or an immaterial idea. In Upanishads, Brahman is not a particle or material, but a state of bliss

      We don’t accept or recognize the validity of ‘Spiritual Masters’ and their circular and deceptive arguments. And they are not masters of anything. They look like the jack (or maybe jackasses) of the ‘spiritualst trades’

      do not make circular statement on Brahman like the spiritualist jackasses. What is the difference between comprehending and realizing the Brahman?. define and distinguish these terms clearly and then we can take the argument or debate forward.

      Then lets look at the puerile defense of animals being divine. Whom are they supposed to be divine to?. Only mortals like us?!!!. The animals can be chauffeurs to the Gods!!!. Forget about our being nice to animals, are the Puranas themselves kind to the animals. Ganesh deity is himself the result of a voilent beheading of an elephant. In another purana, a goat is slaughtered to provide a head to Daksha, the father of Sati, who is beheaded by Shiva. Monkeys (Vanaras), bears (Jambavan), vultures (jatayu) were slaughtered in the Ramayana. Sita wishes and throws a fit for a captive doe or deer as a pet and Rama goes out to hunt for it. Is this how love for animals and their divinity is to be conveyed. Puranas have many references of voilence to animals and humans. Read the Puranas properly before making all these shoddy defenses.

      Then let us look at your defense of Punarjanma or re-birth. You are pathetically behind the curve on advances of neuroscience and work of international skeptics and investigators of paranormality. This bunk about proving past lives thru past regression therapy, hynosis have been routinely made and bebunked in US and UK. Hypnosis sessions are not control-tested and the therapist is known to be cold reading the patient and assisting the patient with clues and also interpreting the submissions of the patient. Also it is not very co-incidental that these patients seem to be seeing Jesus, heavens and angels, instead of Vishnu, rishis, apsaras and Gandharavas. And they don’t reveal anything that is not already known or recorded in other sources. If you think these paranormal fantasies and unsubstantiated media reports prove the soul or rebirth, you have a lot of work to do at your end.

      Before I elaborate on your weak and slipshod defenses about Gita, I would like to see some response to the significant points of refutation above. But I cant help commenting on your perception of Adharma. So a jealousy and power battle within a tribal class/clan or dynasty (Kurus) for control of Hastinapur and resulting power play, acrimony is Adharma. Really!!!…What about the opinion and will of the general population and society on this issue. Are there no other leaders in Hastinapur but for these power-hungry Pandavas and Kauravas?? and their sycophantic cheer-leaders like BHisma, Drona and Vidura. Is Hastinapur, the whole of India, the world or Universe that its silly tribal clashes should qualify for the grand definition of Adharma.

      You need to answer these questions first, before we take Gita through another merciless dirty-linen laundry washing!!!!

      • No offense, but if you honestly went to a spiritual study and started heckling them, then I’m sure it would be expected that they would get angry because you’re wasting their time.

        If you went to an Amnesty International or Red Cross meeting and took up their meeting time while questioning their goals, of course they would get mad. They probably commuted for the sole purpose of getting there to be around like-minded people. And you’re ruining that.

        Noone likes hecklers anywhere, whether at a political rally or a “spiritual study.”

        • Captain Mandrake

          Ashwin,

          No offense, but if you honestly went to a spiritual study and started heckling them, then I’m sure it would be expected that they would get angry because you’re wasting their time.

          What is the point of a study if you can not question what is being taught.

          • I’m not saying these things shouldn’t be questioned, merely that it’s not the place.

            I wouldn’t go out of my way to trash Jane Austen if a group of Jane Austen fans was meeting, expecting to hear Jane Austen praises from one another.

            “Spiritual study” isn’t really study in the sense that we are used to using it.

        • Ashwin,

          Thanks for your input on the point of raising counter-points in a Spiritual Study group.

          Since my point on the comment was short, it may not have provided a proper perspective of the turn of events.

          I was part of an audience ‘cannon fodder’ in a Gita study for almost 2 years.

          All was going fine until in one session I questioned a verse relating to rebirth asking politely where was the evidence for this.

          I was actually shocked to see the flare-up of the Chief speaker who started bombarding with more verses from the Gita and other Sanskrit mumbo-jumbo shlokas.

          But he still let the cat out of the bag when he said that there is no point in attending these sessions when you don’t believe in these things!!!

          These people talk big about ‘spiritual progress and evolution’, but I could not get it why belief in concepts like Karma and rebirth is necessary for spiritual growth if at all?!!

          The point is about hypocrisy. These people rant and ramble about tranquility, detachment and universal/boundless love and yet cannot take doubts or questioning of their dogmas and lose their cool easily.

          Coming to your point of comparison with a fan club, I don’t that the analogy is valid. Hindu missions are not fan clubs. They claim to be world changers and what not.

          • Ok, I’m sorry I’ve made a mistake. I had though you had gone to visit for the sole purpose of heckling, but what you asked was a very legitimate question in the context. There was nothing for the chief speaker to flare up about!

            Sorry once again.

  • Good to see Renganath article in nirmukta and as usual apologist defense.

  • Before any criticism of Hinduism, I suggest referring to

    http://www.hinduwisdom.info/

    on the relevant topic or issue. It may give some strength to your arguments which can be better debated.

  • Dear Ranganath R
    //Here Krishna exhorts a confused Arjuna

    that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call) and
    that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias) and
    that since the people killed in the violence do not really die as only their body dies and the soul cannot be destroyed (metaphysical argument) and
    that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism) and
    that since body is unreal, violence and killing is of the unreal body or matter and not of the soul which is the only real thing (metaphysics again),//

    Before commenting so much do you know what “Killing” or “death” is?

    So far, as per science there is no such a thing like “life” except inanimate atoms/molecules/fundamental particles. No discipline of science still knows what exactly the life or consciousness is OR how exactly inanimate things differ from animate things. Or what it is which makes a life different from the dead one.

    Isn’t it then the most absurd thing on your part to talk of ‘killing’ or ‘death’ of which you knows nothing not to talk of rest of your article?

    • Captain Mandrake

      ** Before commenting so much do you know what “Killing” or “death” is?**

      These words mean the same things that are used to determine whether a homicide has taken place.

      ** So far, as per science there is no such a thing like “life” except inanimate atoms/molecules/fundamental particles.**

      Where did you pick up this bullshit?

      Seems the only way Hindu stupidity survives is by willful ignorance and/or perversion of science.

    • Captain, Here’s an earlier response to “What-is-Life?” mysterianism which so many of our interlocutors in these comment trails adopt with a vengeance, and a follow-up suggesting that mysterianism, old or new, may not be the most productive approach while investigating consciousness as well.

  • //Your evidence is dubious.

    First off, Ayurveda is not based off the Vedas. The Vedas do have some sort of healing system in the Atharva Veda, but it is completely different from Ayurveda.//

    Ayurvedic is originated and classified under Atharvaveda.
    Its not that entire ayurvedic knowldge is present in Atharva veda.
    Others under atharva veda are Vaastu, tantra etc.

    //I also find it to be a dubious claim that no other ancient form of medicine can match Ayurveda. For its time, Chinese medicine was also quite advanced. Many Ayurvedic remedies are not effective//
    Yes i repeat it no other ancient medicine can match it. tell me one. Here in Kerala, i know how vast and deep it is.
    And no medicine branch can cure all diseases. Everything has limitations. Esp. Ayurveda is very much dependent on life style.

    //I am quite comfortable with the assertion that these were arrived at through trial and error.//

    That’s an argument that shows you’ve not thought about with seriousness it deserves. Just read the medicines and the ingredients and process of making it.
    It is not only herbs, but lot of other contents such as minerals , metals ( eg . gold) and many more.

    It is not just about some oil treatment. Hope you know it.

    Just spend some more time and think through it.

    Even Charaka samhita mentions about use of some mantras.
    Is it a joke you are saying ?

    -Mahesh

    • Please read the Atharva Veda, Mahesh. Vastu, Tantra, and Ayurveda are later innovations.

      As for the trial and error- that’s the only way. The ancients had no knowledge of organic chemistry. Many folk medicinal systems work to some extent, and trial and error is why. Name one system? Chinese medicine.

    • What the said text does seem to have are charms against constipation and dysentery! An earlier discussion with an enthusiast almost claiming to find an ancient precursor to ehow in the Atharva Veda, can be read here. It has been said of the astonishing sweep of themes in the Mahabharata that “What is not in it is nowhere!” but a rule of thumb for so many apologists has become “What is nowhere else must be in the Atharva Veda!”.

  • //** I am surely not brighter than Fritjof capra or Penrose or J.A.Wheeler or Schrodinger**

    Stop making arguments from authority. It is totally irrelevant what these people thought of advaita and Upanishads.

    Explicitly show how advaita and Upanishads have contributed to quantum mechanics if you can.//

    I didn’t say that quantum menchanics is written in vedas/upanishads.
    But for sure, upanishads have inspired and influenced all of them and that resulted in the revolutionaruy quantum mechanics. can you disagree that ?

    I dont believe that ancients were super techies and all that.
    But definitely they had studied and understood about human consciousness.

    Science is able to send rockets to marse and even to outside of solar heliosphere.
    Science is agle to understand atoms,electrons and all subatomic particles.
    But still not sure know how DNA is decoded by cells to create proteins. Hope scientists are doing research on this ( are they ?) and we will get to know about it.

    As per upanishads, to realize brahman, one must do sadhana to raise Kundalini energy. Kundalini energy can not be found by scentists ? I am not sure.
    Do you think Pranic healing / Reiki is pseudo medicine ?

    -Mahesh

    • But still not sure know how DNA is decoded by cells to create proteins. Hope scientists are doing research on this ( are they ?) and we will get to know about it.

      Got three minutes? Watch this video.
      Scientists aren’t ‘sure’ about anything the way religious demagogues are, but the provisional understanding gained of the phenomenology of protein synthesis is impressive. For those willing to invest time, here are some resources courtesy of the University of California Berkeley: Biology 1a : Lectures on Transcription and Translation
      Problems in areas like protein-folding remain a challenge, but collaborative ventures to address them are vigorously underway.

      Do you think Pranic healing / Reiki is pseudo medicine ?

      The burden of proof of curative capabilities of such non-mainstream procedures is on the claimants. CAM proponents have been encountered here in earlier comment-trails but so far no-one seemed compelled to play out their spiel in an article of textual criticism that has nothing to do with medicine.

    • Mahesh,

      For sure, Vedanta has influenced how some scientists have chosen to INTERPRET quantum mechanics– Schrodinger comes to mind. But such interpretations are now considered outdated and not relevant to the Copenhagen Interpretation.

      And yes, scientists do know how DNA is decoded, it is found in every introductory biology class. We know each enzyme at each step.

      And yes, Reiki is not real medicine until you can prove it is.

    • I didn’t say that quantum menchanics is written in vedas/upanishads. But for sure, upanishads have inspired and influenced all of them and that resulted in the revolutionaruy quantum mechanics. can you disagree that ?

      While I note that Ashwin responded to this incredulous statement, I would like to add that this represents a peculiar type of vanity and conceit about ancient Indian scriptures found among Hindu nationalists. There are quite a few fallacies that combine to bring out the effect of this kind of extravagant claim about the scientific/advanced content in religious texts. Some of the notable fallacies and rhetorical tricks can be grouped thus:

      – Not to admit the primary and predominantly religious nature and content of these texts and ascribe to them other properties and attributes like science, medicine, technology in addition to spirituality and mysticism.

      – Keeping the definitions and terms of spirituality and mysticism sufficiently and generously vague, so that any weakness/incoherence/contradiction or gaps in them can be bypassed or skirted around.

      – After any important scientific discovery or advance or theory has gained mainstream acceptance/currency, circle back into the Vedas/Upanishads and find some vague/nebulous verse that can be retrofitted into terms of current scientific knowledge. There are paranormalists doing this with the verses of Nostradamus and Christian fundamentalists with the Bible Code of Prophecy. I am sure Mahesh will find a place among these worthies!!!

      – Making something sound like a verification or justification of a prediction, when actually no prediction was made in the first place. No predictions about Quantum Mechanics were made by any Acharayas/Swamis or Vivekananda in the late 19th or early 20th Century. But that has not stopped the mad rush to hog and secure credit for the Vedanta in the 21st Century as an enabler of quantum mechanics.

      – Use subjective qualifiers like ‘inspired’, ‘influenced’ without explaining/specifying their context and how they help in the verification of a claim, yet in the end somehow arrive at an objective affirmative conclusion like in this case that the inspiration/influence of Upanishads ‘resulted’ in Quantum Mechanics. That is the quantum leap of Hindu nationalist rehtorical fallacy!!!

      – Making out a connection or a false correlation between two completely unrelated things (Upanishads & Quantum Mechanics) simply and solely on basis of arguments and opinions and dispensing with the need for terminological or rules comparison and other deductive and inferential tools or methods.

      I am not sure if Mahesh read my response to his initial comparison between Vedanta and Quantum Mechanics and article link pointing to new findings in this field.

      I do not claim to have an understanding of Quantum physics or mechanics, but the methodology or approach that is followed in QM is not different from the overall method and philosophy of science and investigation of natural phenomenon. And having some perspective and history of this field is not out of bounds for an informed person.

      QM has an international span and is a highly collaborative effort involving countries and multiple research organizations. It is highly unlikely that QM research scientists (most of whom are likely non-theists) would be looking to the Upanishads or Vedanta for inspiration or guidance, let alone any actionable or specific principles of QM in them.

      I really doubt that people like Mahesh and their counterparts in the Hindu nationalist camp have any real information or perspective about concepts like Quantum Physics, subatomic phenomenon or modern cosmology (dark matter, energy etc,). But the eagerness to lump modern scientific knowledge with the primitive and barbarian theories of the Upanishads is not wanting at all.

      After a point, this goes beyond even outrage and polemics.

      It is a tragedy that we are still clinging to these cold and empty consolations of a mythical golden age where the ancient seers of the Vedas/Upanishads knew everything but did very little. Is this meaningless exercise of retrofitting and revisionism getting India and Indians anywhere at all on the global scientific space?. With all the Upanishads and Vedanta what is the contribution of Indian scientists to the field of quantum physics or advanced research technologies. Can N Goplakishnan and his likes with all their Sanskrit retrofitting mastery add any value to modern science and research?. Other than giving useless lectures in IIT and writing worthless Astrological treatises, are they helping the science of India?

      Other than stealing credit for Indian scriptures(this exercise will not work abroad) using questionable rhetoric and arguments and looking very intelligent and scholarly in the eyes of gullible masses, is this revisionism providing any real benefit to our country and society?

      If Mahesh had made his statements at a Satsang or a spiritual study group, he would have won plaudits, but in a forum like this which takes science, reason and logic very seriously, this will only result in his diminished respectabilty and legitimacy as a commenter and debater.

  • The massage of Upanishad is that you are an athma and not body. When you loose your identity then you think as if you are a body. The influence of your old sankars and your established sankar of thinking you are Indian a Hindu, a communist, a man, a female, a soldier, a farmer, a doctor, for several life time in consistent fashion will shape your intellect. So the debate should be weather you have free and non biased thinking then only the debate is fruitless. If you ignore the proposed theory of the soul then it will be fruitless to discuss any further debate on that kind of issues. If you wanted to pretend you will consider such theory then you can start a debate on the basis of imagination. if you wanted to have a debate on just one life theory then should seek out such talk with an every day Hindu who care less about his religion or a Christian or a Muslim who cares about his every day life.

  • Eric Blood Axe

    Come now. The unicorn does exist, in India no less. It is the one horned rhinocerous, the horn is precious but not ivory, the hunters use a “Machen”, not a “Madchen”, a platform in a tree, versus a maiden.

    • By Unicorn the article referred to the mythical horse in western legends which has a long pointed and spiraling horn on the center of its forehead.

      There is a huge difference between the rhinoceros and a horse as a species.

      Just because rhinoceroses have horn, does not make them a unicorn.

      Can’t believe that there is such poor general knowledge in the internet age.

      Pls read up on topics of myth including Unicorn before posting such appallingly ignorant comments.

  • “the idea or notion of birth as well as Moksha is likely an import into Upanishads from the Sramana school of thought”.

    Could you provide original sources that support this conclusion? In general, is there sound evidence for any statements about the origin and evolution of ideas in Ancient India before Buddha?

  • Ranganath,

    You say “The invention of soul and scare of re-birth into lower forms of evolution (like animals and insects) seems like the reactionary innovation of Jainist-Buddhist metaphysics”

    Buddhism not only did not invent soul, but did quite the opposite. It came up with the doctrine of Anathma (Pali: Anatta) which means no-soul or no-self.

    • Ramana,

      The problem with Buddhism seems to be dichotomy between popular/legendary notions of Buddhist beliefs (Buddha/Bodhisatva tales) and the metaphysics of the later Madhyamika/Theravada schools.

      The non-soul or non-self seems to have arisen out of the theories of Madhyamika. It claims to be an elaboration or exegesis of the Middle path doctrine of Gautama, but a long period separates the Gautama era from later refinements made to Madhyamika doctrines by the likes of Nagarjuna and Dharmakirti.

      We will perhaps never know who created/coined the concept of soul that keeps transmigrating. But it can be said that the Vedas till 10th Mandala never even came close to this concept. So this cannot be attributed to the Rig and Yajurvedic religion.

      The Sunyata theory of Madhyamika is quite convoluted and seems nihilistic while denying the existence of any permanent or ultimate reality and maintaining the position of the transient and illusory appearance of change.

      It is still a controversy whether Gautama or his earliest followers disputed or denied the existence of souls or theory of re-birth which they inherited from the Jaina predecessors.

      LM Joshi tries to clarify that Gautama’s denial of gods was not confined to the Gods of the Vedas. But he is curiously silent or ambivalent on the question of souls and rebirth.

      Buddhism may not have posited the concept of soul, but it clearly looks to have inherited it from earlier Sramana schools like Jaina and Ajivaka and despite whatever advancement it made in metaphysics, it has not been able to shake off this millstone in its popular forms

      • Ranganath,

        Thanks for the explanation. That is helpful.

      • Hi Ranganath,

        I’m curious– if the Buddha didn’t just reject Vedic gods, which other gods did he reject? I wasn’t aware that any gods outside of that pantheon would have been well-known during that period, except perhaps folk deities?

        • I am guessing that Lal Mani Joshi’s reference to Buddha’s rejection of all gods was probably to prophets heroes and Brahmanas who were worshipped almost like gods.

          He was perhaps responding to charge attributed to Buddha via S Radhakrishnan that Buddha could not really have rejected Vedas since he held Brahmans and wise authors of his age in great esteem.

          I don’t claim any expertise in Buddhist metaphysics or its Pali literature. I am only a novice enthusiast.

          Welcome any counterpoints and

          I would recommend these 2 sources to those interested in exploring the genesis of these 2 antagonistic systems Vedic/Puranic Brahminism (a.k.a Hinduism) and Buddhism.

          This is from LM Joshi
          http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh150.pdf
          and this from western Indologists:
          http://www.elb-studycenter.org/images/kokoro_5_tola_dragonetti.pdf

  • Here Krishna exhorts a confused Arjuna

    that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call)

    It might be appealing to caste, but if he is a soldier, then he is expected to fight. How would one react if a police officer or marine were to shun their profession while a crime or war was in way? That is not being casteist. It’s being practical.

    and
    that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias)

    refusing to fight after coming that far was unacceptable. As stated earlier, people in security are expected to perform. They have made that commitment. This is not about ‘waging war’. The war was instigated by Duryodhana not the Pandavs. As far as unmanly goes; it was a provocation. This provocation is used even to this day. http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Man
    It was strategic. Since it failed, the next resort was to turn to philosophy.

    and
    that since the people killed in the violence do not really die as only their body dies and the soul cannot be destroyed (metaphysical argument)

    and
    that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism)

    All of our deaths are certain. Going from memory, this was actually said at the end of the Gita.

    and
    that since body is unreal, violence and killing is of the unreal body or matter and not of the soul which is the only real thing (metaphysics again),

    Perhaps. But you are forgetting to mention that Krishna also says that even if Arjuna believes that the soul is subject to birth and death, there is still nothing to grieve because everyone then is sure to die.

    The most incredulous and astounding justification (not just an appeal or call) for violence comes not from the scriptures of Judaic religions, but from the Bhagavad Gita, currently the most revered and ‘studied’ book of Hindu religion.
    Far from debating spirituality, it is better to first get the facts straight.
    The justification for violence is not ‘incredulous’. The Mahabharat is very clear that every effort was made to avert war. Duryodhan refused all attempts at peaceful compromise. After sending the pandavs for exile for 14 years he did not keep his end of the promise, which was to return the kingdom. He was ready to kill the pandavs to keep territory and title that did not belong to him in the first place. His family cheated the pandavs, sexually molested their wife and was ready to pick a fight if they did not go back for another 14 years of exile. When the governance itself is corrupt and violent, it is not unjustified if the people revolt with violence themselves.

    For instance, it is very strange that Hindus don’t find anything absurd in the attributes and qualities of their own deities like:

    Some gods having 4 or 8 hands
    etc. etc. etc.

    Incorrect again. Hindus do question the various forms of the deities. These forms are symbolic and Hindus who have delved into the matter have discovered this for themselves.

    If the God of Judaism is some angry old man with white beard lashing a whip, that caricature does not apply to Christianity and Islam. The God of Islam is formless and the God of Christianity is a triune (Father, Christ and Holy spirit) almost like the troika of the Upanishads (Brahman, Atman and Maya).
    This is an accurate description of the theology of Abrahamic faiths, which the Hindu commentator was clearly ignorant of. However, the angry old man caricature is prevalent in popular culture. The trinity in Vedic scripture is more analogous to Xtian trinity by Brahman, paramatma and Bhagavan (Avatar) (“father”, “Holy Spirit” and “Son).

    Upanishads pose riddles and quibbles about Brahman without explaining what it really is and whether such a thing as Brahman is meaningful or useful or worthy of pursuit, that would make some sense. How can anyone explore the true nature of something that is a fiction, fantasy
    Not true. The Upanishads are actually very clear about Brahman. One of the Mahavakyas is Prajnanam Brahma. Brahman has the attributes of awareness (which is why the individual is said to be Brahman, tat tvam asi, since we are aware). The other point of interest in the Upanishads, which is being written-off here without proper interrogation has to do with the nature of consciousness. We are yet to understand what consciousness is, with most biology textbooks being even more vague than the Upanishads calling it an “emergent property” of matter. I think the Upanishads are more clear than that. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill God of the gaps argument. Even if it is, you can’t call it a gap. It is a gigantic canyon! Through deduction we can realize that if matter can give rise to conscious thought, then every material particle is (in theory) capable of consciousness. Hence, the entire Universe is pervaded with the POTENTIAL to be conscious, hence Brahman is everywhere.

    The Upanishads require a great deal of vicara, for sure. But they are not as mealy-mouthed as they sound.

    Also, Vikshepa, avarana are not ‘irrational’ simply because they are sanskrit words. They have English translations that are commonly used in day to day language.

    These are only a few of the many problems of the article that have been addressed in this comment.

    • Satish Chandra

      It might be appealing to caste, but if he is a soldier, then he is expected to fight. How would one react if a police officer or marine were to shun their profession while a crime or war was in way? That is not being casteist. It’s being practical.

      There are recruitment procedures for a police or a marine. And just because your father was a cop, you don’t inherit the right to become a cop unlike in the case of kings of old. Also, there are procedures for firing a cop if they fail at their duty. But since caste is birth based for all practical purposes, there are no procedures to recruit or fire you from a caste. So nice try performing the intellectually dishonest feat of comparing caste with modern day professions.

      As far as unmanly goes; it was a provocation. This provocation is used even to this day.

      Argumentum-ad populum. It is still sexist and regressive.

      All of our deaths are certain. Going from memory, this was actually said at the end of the Gita.

      .

      But you are forgetting to mention that Krishna also says that even if Arjuna believes that the soul is subject to birth and death, there is still nothing to grieve because everyone then is sure to die.

      Re-phrasing the argument:

      a. Everyone is sure to die.

      b. So Arjuna can just go ahead and kill his kin.

      (b) does not follow from (a) because if it did, any absurd conclusion will become valid. Like a murderer saying since my victim is sure to die, I’m justified in killing him.

      Incorrect again. Hindus do question the various forms of the deities. These forms are symbolic and Hindus who have delved into the matter have discovered this for themselves.

      The author’s argument didn’t imply that it is true of every Hindu. Your argument is based on that incorrect assumption and so isn’t valid.

      Through deduction we can realize that if matter can give rise to conscious thought, then every material particle is (in theory) capable of consciousness. Hence, the entire Universe is pervaded with the POTENTIAL to be conscious, hence Brahman is everywhere.

      Do read this which touches upon consciousness and also this series. So that deduction isn’t valid.

      • #Satish Chandra – There is actually NO such thing like caste – which is a Portuguese word. The Indian system is Jati & Varna. Jati was the inhertiable aspect and Varna was determined after examining the samskara of the individual. Thus you will see many people of traditional Kshatriya family names doing work of other varnas etc. Dharmic society declined when varna became hereditary. There are some probable reasons this became hereditary – the decline in spiritualism and acceleration of this with the destruction of the gurukuls. If your child cannot go to school/college which has been destroyed, then you are likely to be home tutored only. Yes, there are instances in the smritis where for example, Karna is denied training to be a Kshatriya in the Mahabharata. All readers can discern that the writer has provided a sympathetic viewpoint of Karna’s dilemma and it it one of those few places where the conduct of Duryodhana is seen as upright when he goes against his guru. The reticence of the Pandavas in the smritis is due to the fact that they do not want to go against the commands of the Guru (Dronacharya) in this case. In the case of Manusmriti which has been vilified by the “caste” brigade, Manu has made it very clear that these are the suggested guidelines for that time and each “yuga” has to evolve to come up with its rules. He too emphasizes merit and there are so many instances where his passages have been taken out of context.

        Your other arguments regarding the justification to fight the war are showing typical confusion that has paralyzed many people of Dharma in India. Firstly, the confusion of Arjuna about non-violence, non-harm and the reverence of the gurus/relations/friends that he has to fight are expressed. This is a normal doubt and Krishna teaches Arjuna the futility of running away from a battle that was (a) not of Arjuna’s choice and (b) where Arjuna was fighting a battle for a just cause and (c) where all avenues were exhausted. In such a case, to not fight that battle is an act of cowardice and succumbing to injustice. Many Indians have not developed their Buddhi sufficiently to catch this distinction and are caught in the same yoga of Arjuna-grief as described in so many Gita commentaries.

        Regarding multiple types of forms of deities – each deity is uniquely represented and there is a very significant aspect of each of those forms. It will be well worth for the reader to research in each of the specific attributes.

        • Satish Chandra

          There is actually NO such thing like caste – which is a Portuguese word. The Indian system is Jati & Varna. Jati was the inhertiable aspect and Varna was determined after examining the samskara of the individual.

          Meh. Varna or jati doesn’t matter in the context of my comment. In practice, varna too is determined by birth given that the non-birth version is so very impractical.

        • Varna was determined after examining the samskara of the individual.

          Not really. How often will you keep giving the stock “counterexamples” of Vyasa and Vishwamitra?

          In real history, jatis often contested their varna status and sometimes had it changed. This was most often done by kings who wanted to be recognized as Kshatriyas by their subjects. But this was always an upliftment of a group, never the individual.

        • Your other arguments regarding the justification to fight the war are showing typical confusion that has paralyzed many people of Dharma in India. Firstly, the confusion of Arjuna about non-violence, non-harm and the reverence of the gurus/relations/friends that he has to fight are expressed. This is a normal doubt and Krishna teaches Arjuna the futility of running away from a battle that was (a) not of Arjuna’s choice and (b) where Arjuna was fighting a battle for a just cause and (c) where all avenues were exhausted. In such a case, to not fight that battle is an act of cowardice and succumbing to injustice.
          Those are good points. These are a major omissions in modern dialog on the Bhagavad Gita.

      • Firstly, all of the points regarding the author’s lack of knowledge regarding the events leading upto the war were completely ignored. Without an acceptance of that, the rest of the arguments made above are senseless.

        Nonetheless…
        But since caste is birth based
        No it isn’t. The Mahabharat is very clear on that, and you should read up about it.

        Argumentum-ad populum. It is still sexist and regressive.

        Read what I wrote after that sentence; I was not justifying it.

        a. Everyone is sure to die.

        b. So Arjuna can just go ahead and kill his kin.

        (b) does not follow from (a) because if it did, any absurd conclusion will become valid. Like a murderer saying since my victim is sure to die, I’m justified in killing him.

        You are making those assumptions, but that is not the point being made. The point was to make the discharge of duty priority since sentimentalism has no place in defending what is right.

        The author’s argument didn’t imply that it is true of every Hindu. Your argument is based on that incorrect assumption and so isn’t valid.

        Yes it did. I replied to what the author said. Read what he wrote again. He was making generalizations and I was responding to that.

        Do read this which touches upon consciousness and also this series. So that deduction isn’t valid.
        Non sequitur. Bio-centrism does not follow from what I had said.

        • Satish Chandra

          No it isn’t. The Mahabharat is very clear on that, and you should read up about it.

          I said “in practice”. I know that there will be exceptions, but caste by birth is the norm. I know what the texts say and also know quite well how convenient it is for Hindu apologists to use the texts to hold onto the delusion that caste was not birth based. Even in the Mahabharata every single one in the Pandava and Kaurava families was a kshatriya. There were no tests to determine if they were suited to be one. They just were. By birth.

          Read what I wrote after that sentence; I was not justifying it.

          You wrote “since if failed”. You could have simply said that Arjuna didn’t buy it. So why make a point of the sexist phrase being used even today? Unless you are changing your tune now. Also, why did Krishna resort to a sexist phrase in the first place unless he thought it would be worth a try? It shows that such sexism was acceptable.

          You are making those assumptions, but that is not the point being made. The point was to make the discharge of duty priority since sentimentalism has no place in defending what is right.

          That in essence is the main problem with the BG. Mindless adherence to duty means once you decree something is “right”, any means to achieve that right are justified. Including nonsensical logic like “since we are all going to die, why fret over performing your duty?”

          Yes it did.

          It would if you conveniently chose to make a biased assumption that author isn’t aware of the fact that there are Hindus who don’t hold such beliefs.

          Non sequitur.

          I said the article touches upon consciousnesses insofar as to put to rest the bull crap argument of all matter being capable of consciousness. I never said that what you said is biocentrism.

          • What is the evidence that caste was birth based, if the texts themselves denounce it? It is circumstantial and hypothetical at best.

            You could have simply said that Arjuna didn’t buy it.
            Of course Arjuna didn’t buy it! Otherwise there would not be 17 more chapters in the Gita! And stop calling the phrase sexist. It really is not. Just calling it so, doesn’t make it that way. Nice try. Look up any modern dictionary meaning http://thesaurus.com/browse/unmanly
            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unmanly
            Not unless you want to make the argument that the folks at Merriam-Webster are sexist. It is a word that has been used for centuries now and word usage is often a fault of language more so than any intention of negative undertones.

            Mindless adherence to duty means once you decree something is “right”, any means to achieve that right are justified. Including nonsensical logic like “since we are all going to die, why fret over performing your duty?”
            Instead of the Pandavas, if you were in that position, you would have known what was right and what was wrong. And it isn’t mindless adherence or nonsensical logic as I have explained in the last comment.
            It would if you conveniently chose to make a biased assumption that author isn’t aware of the fact that there are Hindus who don’t hold such beliefs.
            I don’t second guess people. I respond to what has been said. Then it is not only poor knowledge, but also poor writing skills on part of the author.

            put to rest the bull crap argument of all matter being capable of consciousness
            Again changing the meaning of what was said. From logic, it holds that all matter has the potential (and I even had in capital letters in case you missed it) for consciousness. If indeed matter in the neurons can give rise to consciousness, at the fundamental level, matter that is not physically inside neurons also has the potential to give rise to consciousness. How atoms arrange to bring about consciousness is mysterious. However, in theory, you could take the same atoms residing outside the brain and generate consciousness. It is a mental exercise and there is no reason to get so worked up about it.

          • Satish Chandra

            What is the evidence that caste was birth based, if the texts themselves denounce it? It is circumstantial and hypothetical at best.

            I cited an example from the Mahabharata itself. Looks like you chose to ignore it.

            And stop calling the phrase sexist. It really is not. Just calling it so, doesn’t make it that way. Nice try. Look up any modern dictionary meaning

            Going by the dictionary, what Krishna said would be “Arjuna, stop acting like a woman!”. The implication is that women are cowardly and can’t fight. The sexism is pretty obvious. So how long are you going to play this stupid game? First it was “unmanly is not so bad”. Then when I pointed it out, it became “I’m not justifying it”. Then when I asked why Krishna even needed to use that phrase, you are back to your original assertion? Pathetic.

            Instead of the Pandavas, if you were in that position, you would have known what was right and what was wrong. And it isn’t mindless adherence or nonsensical logic as I have explained in the last comment.

            Mindless adherence to duty is why BG is so problematic. When you compare it to modern day ethics as implemented by our constitutions and judicial systems, you’ll how laughable it is hear someone say “I’m god. I know what is right and wrong. Now go do your duty”. How you determine what is right and what is wrong will determine who useful or useless an ethical framework is. BG operates within the regressive varna dharma framework. That is why Krishna says that it is better to do a half-assed job of your varna’s duties than to perform duties of somebody else’s varna perfectly. So much for the fluidity of varna, eh?

            I don’t second guess people. I respond to what has been said. Then it is not only poor knowledge, but also poor writing skills on part of the author.

            It’s obvious that you hate the author. So stop pretending like you have made some unbiased observation.

            It is a mental exercise and there is no reason to get so worked up about it.

            Since all matter is made up of the same constitutions, lead in theory is potentially gold. So much for mental exercises. And nice try dressing up your original defense of the nonsense of Brahman with “oh its just a mental exercise”. All you seem capable of is changing your stance as per your convenience.

        • Advay

          You posed:
          “What is the evidence that caste was birth based, if the texts themselves denounce it? It is circumstantial and hypothetical at best.”

          If you are as blind and resistant to facts as many of Hindu conservative intelligentsia are, there is no evidence because there always exists the convenient option of willfully ignoring the evidence of more than a millennium of history of evolution and practice of casteism in our land not to say of state of affairs in rural India even today.

          I also think that you need to go back and check and understand what the term ‘denounce’ really means.

          If you cared about and appreciated the meaning of this term, you would not have glibly asserted that Vedic/Puranic texts denounce casteism.

          I would be very curious to know which religious texts have denounced casteism and what that denunciation sounds like!!

          • Of course not following the arguments fully, I am jumping in. Please bear with me:).
            I read, someone saying “I said “in practice”. I know that there will be exceptions, but caste by birth is the norm”. Manu Smrithi says castes are based on what one does or practices.
            Answering “In practice” argument, our society for that matter all the other societies in the world did follow the practice of a generation giving what they do to the next generation (basic inheritance).
            Is it not appreciable that one of the oldest texts of Sanatan Dharma condemning what we are doing even now as a right thing?
            How one can attribute the selfishness of people to Sanatan Dharma which never allowed it in principle.
            If the argument is about proving Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma) as wrong, then one must understand that including the author, me and others in this did not read completely about Sanatan Dharma and are not capable of understanding what Vedas, Upanishads and other sacred scripts of Sanatan Dharma said.
            Try pointing out the mistakes of individuals rather than attributing them to Sanatan Dharma which never encouraged those deeds.
            For the record, if you believe, Mahabharat is a story of true events and it would have happened that one like Dronacharya did wrong by not allowing Karna to participate in the event based on caste(Varna).
            Is Mahabharat or Ramayan saying that you must follow and do everything mentioned in those? At the end they revealed to us that good always wins over bad. And individuals with more good qualities won and they would have had bad traits as well. The scriptures never tried to hide any of the events.

            Are we just trying to say that what Sanatan Dharma asked to follow is wrong based on some misunderstood, taken out of context partial opinions?

          • Satish Chandra

            Answering “In practice” argument, our society for that matter all the other societies in the world did follow the practice of a generation giving what they do to the next generation (basic inheritance).

            That is a strawman argument. Caste isn’t simply a matter of one generation giving to the next. Caste means a rigid code of conduct for each caste. It means restrictions in who can marry who. It means some people get to stay only in one corner of a village. It means a hierarchy of deference simply based on what caste you are born into.

            You see this again and again in any text of Sanatan Dharma. Sure, they will say caste is not birth based, but will then normalize birth based caste and will never question it. Mahabharata talks about how Kauravas and Pandavas are Kshatriyas without questioning why one should be a Kshatriya just because they’re born to a Kshatriya. How come Krishna didn’t preach to the Pandavas that they should first prove themselves as Kshatriyas and only then take that label and perform Kshatriya dharma? Why did he talk about varna sankara in BG as if it is an utterly horrible thing? It is because BG sanctions casteism. There is no room for misinterpretation here except for in the minds of Hindu apologists.

            If an ethical framework has to have any relevance today, it should categorically condemn casteism and the nonsensical ideas that sustained it – gunas and karma. It would not rely on exceptional cases to mealy-mouth its way out of criticism leveled at it. It would take the said criticism to heart and throw out the nonsensical ideas, no ifs and buts. Sanatan Dharma is far from being such a framework. It cannot get rid of concepts like gunas and karma. So it is quite justified to attribute the caste evil to Sanatan Dharma.

  • @Advay & srini
    Something a plausible and distinct culture or tradition needs to be respected and passed to the next generation, but, a culture or a way of life is hell of hurting wounds for masses and they are continually affected only because of its traditional inheritance mean; it needs a overhaul or complete elimination. It helps in two way avoiding the arise of affected masses and subsequent eventuality, another is external threats. What we see now is, masses of this subcontinent compromised many thing with external threats but not the caste, is that for 1000years and more?
    Now the globalization and reach of S& T and reach of knowledge is not a constraint one for the masses of all category. So, India’s path in the rational way, though it is very partial but appreciable, and hopes are there it will correct the system, Instead of arise of affected masses it paves a easy transition into a rational human existence. Don’t we and you support this? or adamant on the old(sana)thana system?

    • @Satish

      I believe you missed the point, I was not saying caste is based on inheritance. What I was saying inheritance led to the stringent caste system though it was not preached or encouraged by any of Sanatana Dharma scripts.

      You can find a lot of incidents in ancient texts where a Brahman by birth was not considered as a Brahman by virtue of what he was supposed to do or possess. Our texts did never hide any fact.

      Also, even in Mahabharata there were clear indications of that, to name a few, Yadavas were considered as soldiers of the war (Kshatriyas) leading troops though they were not Kshatriyas by birth, eg. Satyaki etc. Look at Vyasa, was he Brahman by birth? Look at Uttarakumara was he considered as a Kshatriya by nature? It was clearly called out in Mahabharata that he was a coward and do not have qualities of a Kshatriya though by birth considered as Kshatriya.

      Another example from Ramayana, how did Viswamitra became Brahman (Brahmarshi) was it by birth or by Karma and Guna? Did all Brahmans by birth were called as Brahmarshis??

      The point I was making was, it was very clearly called in our Sanatana Dharma what constitutes a Varna. It was our selfish nature which diluted the essence of preaching and made us built these walls among sects of people based on what they do or practice in a day to day life.

      Haven’t you seen, even now a days, people belonging to one culture (if you want to call that as a caste based on what said above, your wish)grouping together quite often? What do you call China Towns being built in every society where they live? Do you call that as Chinese caste as most of them don’t marry to a girl or boy belonging to other cultures and likewise any western or eastern cultures. By your argument, all cultures, having most of the people confining themselves to their own culture, should be called as castes. No we cannot do that, caste is something we devised and not preached by any ancient text of any religion.

      I think the definition of caste, I don’t know what it is exactly but whatever it might be, was not there in ancient India for that matter even before a few hundreds of years. We adopted that, got influenced by it rather practicing what our Dharma preached us.

      If want to say that BG or any ancient text encouraged caste system by taking some incidents out of context, it is your wish. But they will not stand for deeper argument.

      Karma is what you do and Guna is what you gain or possess by what you do, but not by to whom you are born. You will get your Varna based on your karma and guna. Varna Sankara means deviating from what you are supposed to do by principles you adopted yourself, need not be by marrying a person following a different principle. Do you call Vasishta a person caused Varna Sankara by marrying Arundhati, did you find any evidence of that in any our texts?

      Let us not conclude that Sanatana Dharma is wrong by some out of context arguments and attributing people’s behaviors, not defined by Sanatana Dharma, to it.

      You will never find any of our Sanatana Dharma texts saying people should live at a corner etc. Even in modern history, compared to Ramayana and Mahabharata, you can find stories like Adi Sankaracharya realizing his mistake and bowing to a Shoodra. Read out what was talked about Dharmavyadha when Kausika approached him.

      It was our fault, adopting caste system and following it stringently though it is a mistake. I am a Brahman by birth, but not by virtue of what I do. I don’t believe in keeping people away from me based on their caste. And now a days, I see a lot of people like, the so called upper caste guys, doing what I am doing which is so good to see.

      What you said above
      “Caste means a rigid code of conduct for each caste. It means restrictions in who can marry who. It means some people get to stay only in one corner of a village. It means a hierarchy of deference simply based on what caste you are born into.”
      is a false tradition we adopted ourselves, selfish people, but does not define a caste and was not defined by Sanatana Dharma.

      • Satish Chandra

        Srini,

        You will get your Varna based on your karma and guna.

        Who adjudicated that Pandavas and Kauravas should be kshyatriyas? No one. This is what Ambedkar was talking about. Without means to evict or assign varna all it can do is become birth based. You can cite all the exceptional cases you want, but that is the reality.

        Santana Dharma is a failure in that it proposed a system based on ridiculous notions of karma and gunas whilst providing no checks and balances. A modern day equivalent would be communism. On paper, it looks good. Your apologist counterpart can make any number of exhortations that communism is good and it is only people who corrupted it. In fact, that can be said of any framework of ideas. So instead of making flimsy excuses like “people did it”, it is better to take a logically coherent position that frameworks are defined by people and chuck out a framework if can’t do any good. Santana Dharma has been around for hundreds of years at the least and it couldn’t solve the caste problem. Dumping it the best course.

        • Satish,

          Even on paper, varna is a terrible idea. The closest thing to “ideal varna”
          In the real world is the Soviet system of assigning jobs to people.

          • Satish Chandra

            I agree. To me it appeared that Srini’s was saying Sanatana Dharma is good theory and has gone wrong in practice due to a few people. I was playing along with that.

        • Who adjudicated that Pandavas and Kauravas should be kshyatriyas?

          In your opinion who has got authority to say a person belongs to a particular varna? Even if someone is authorized by Sanatana Dharma, your argument would then be nominating a person for that is wrong done by Sanatana Dharma.
          Who authorized you to call Sanatana Dharma a failure, what is your authority? Your argument can be applied to your statements as well.

          I am not making excuses Mister, you are trying to attribute something to Santana Dharma which in fact not its problem. For your record, Sanatana Dharma did not create castes, it is not its obligation to solve the issue.

          Once again, whatever was done by people with selfish motives cannot be attributed to a Dharma which never preached it. If you want to call this fact as an excuse, it is your Kharma (not karma)

          Based on the stories, with true events and nothing hidden in them, we could cite these names. Epics have never been about common people. The good part is, even about those noble people, they revealed mistakes done by them including Krishna.

          Yes I accept your argument, that with no final authority to say which varna a person belongs to, these kind of arguments will keep on coming and even if you have someone authorized to do so.

          I believe you did not read Sanatana Dharma, hence calling it a failure. The society ran based on that for thousands of years, of course people’s selfish deeds caused troubles.

          I believe, there is no point in continuing argument with a person always trying to point fingers rather really understanding what Dharma has said and how it was deviated by people. You have conveniently ignored many points. What I could understand from the way you are writing is, you are trying to prove something as wrong citing some incidents from stories like Ramayana and MB rather considering what Dharma preached.

          Good luck with your trials to prove Sanatana Dharma wrong, no point in continuing argument with an unopen mind:(

          Happy writing…

          • Satish Chandra

            In your opinion who has got authority to say a person belongs to a particular varna? Even if someone is authorized by Sanatana Dharma, your argument would then be nominating a person for that is wrong done by Sanatana Dharma.

            Well, quite a few Hindu apologists have tried comparing caste with modern day professions. Guess what? People can lose their profession if they suck at it. Now why doesn’t Sanatana Dharma have something like that? A system which proposes a half-baked concept will do better to take responsibly when things go wrong. That’s what having integrity means. You own up to your mistakes instead of blaming someone else. Or is that concept completely absent in Sanatana Dharma?

            Who authorized you to call Sanatana Dharma a failure, what is your authority? Your argument can be applied to your statements as well.

            The same thing which authorized communism to be called a failure. Reason and evidence. Is that so hard to understand?

          • Arvind Iyer

            Here’s a couple of questions for those convinced that Varna Dharma is a force for good:

            (i) What sort of evidence from actual practice would you treat as sufficient evidence to change your mind and revisit your position that Varnashrama Dharma (or any other social system) as a force for good? In other words, what is your Precambrian rabbit vis-a-vis Varnashrama Dharma?

            (ii) Here are some examples from societies not notably influenced by Varna-Dharma-like notions where individuals have been famously able to enter once unfamiliar professions and make significant contributions. Doesn’t society stand to lose out on such contributions and such avenues of fulfillment of human potential, if they are all but outlawed citing both Varna Dharma and Ashrama Dharma?

        • Satish, Pandavas and Kauravas were trained warriors. Want a modern parallel?Black Cat Commandos.

          That’s the guna and karma needed for fighting.
          Dronacharya (akin to modern court judges) adjucated their being Kshatriya.The only point that bugs you is birth I guess.

          Let’s take Bush senior and junior. Or the Ambani brothers or their famous dad. Even J.P Morgan’s dad was the first big investment banker.Most elite atheletes have American or Afro-American lineage. Why do you think India hardly wears gold in any contact sport? Beacuse we are genetically smaller and more fragile.Do you not see doctor/lawyer families around you?

          Birth plays a vital role in setting the tone of life’s direction even today,though its implications may not be cast in stone.

          As far as rigidity of conduct goes,the modern world has its own set of rigidities.Do you think you can get a Visa to any country as and when you want? Do you know the basic reason for VISA restrictions? It’s the fact that you, for whatever talents you claim, were’nt BORN in the country. Do you think you can go ahead and marry an Australian just like that? Do you think we have universal access to opportunities, without “networking” or “refrence” being a big factor?

          Do you think a person bron poor has half a chance, even if thrice the talent as you and I have, to educate and elevate oneself? There are RIGID requirements about being good at English (born in a country we weren’t born in),rigid formats for entrance into top universities,(Ramanujam might have flinked entry to our major league universities coz they want you to be good at THEIR FORMAT of questions, not a burning desire to learn).

          Yes we have more social mobility now. But the covert classification now lies in income groups.Your being born in a specific income group more or less decides all the social,educational,career options that might come your way.

          Finally, forget the Hindu ‘apologist’ tag.Facts,Hindu/Non-hindu or otherwise are always in-your-face.Let’s talk facts.Hell with any apologist crap.

          • Satish Chandra

            Ashmant,

            So your defense of caste rests on the lousy logic that there are modern day birth based inequalities. And whatever gave you the idea that I’m okay with such inequalities? What you are doing is a very dishonest tactic called what-aboutery.

      • The Adi Sankara episode may not be so noble. In some versions of the tale, he only bows because he realizes the untouchable is Shiva, which he could tell since untouchables could not speak so knowledgeably!

        • Satish, The Gita itself says ” Chaturvarnam mayasrustam gunakarma vibhagasah”…or, I have created four varna based on qualities and actions. Birth is not even mentioned.Whoever thinks that varnas are supposed to be birth based and simoltaneously thinks h’e following Krishna’s word is fooling himself.

          “Unmanly” is not a sexist comment, because he’s not saying “womanly”.As far the entire sexist or anti-sexist thing goes,men being hunters and women homemakers is basically how our civilization has developed. It may be an invalid assumption today to think of hard gender based roles, but this was the practical way of surviving and taking the species forward in an eon when wild animals roamed free, and there were no metals, cities,electricity,atheists or believers.Now can you refute the fact that males are physically stronger and have more testerone levels taken as a whole vis-s-vis women?It is only in this context that Arjuna’s primal hunter instinct is being invoked.You, me and this website would have have never gotten an opportunity to come along without the foundation of this hunter instinct which saved people many generations above us from being eaten up.

          One gets fired if he sucks at his job.Correct. But Arjuna was an acclaimed warrior who could shoot an arrow bang in the middle of a fish’s eye while looking at its image in the wayer below. Let me know how many Olympic shooters could do a one-up on that.And there were no “firings” in times of war. If you sucked, you got killed.Period. Surely, these are much higher stakes than what we have on our hands as we gleefully punch in our keyboards.Surely, high calibre is needed for the job.

          Is any division based on caste/gender or anything else justified?If we measure the past in today’s terms, I’d say it would not be entirely fair.Even today,not everyone becomes a scientist or a businessman or sportperson just like that, with no remote parental linkage with the profession in terms of genetics,upbringing,capabilites etc. There are outliers, but then there were outliers in the past too. Parshuram was a warrior brahmin for example.

          Division of labour is the very cornerstone of our civilization. You may be a uclear scientist, but may have no clue of how a fine wine is processed to produce its quality. No worries, you can exchnage the earnings of your talents(money) to reap the benifit of someone else’s talent(fine wine). In olden days, we didn’t have this monster economy with Industrial production and energy consumption zooming as it is today.There was no internet where you can type in your comments for the world to see..leaves were used to write stuff that was carried to its destination by foot.

          Even modrn science is a product of the Renaisance which was essentially a break away from the order of the day. But the very order of the day would have not existed had our ancestors been eaten by lions.One can experiment actually, if he wants to dare,to get rid of one’s commucniation devices, food, water and other amenities and stroll the savannas, and know first hand how vulnerable we are as a species without our gadgets. So differsnt time had differnet needs. This is not to say one bit that we should glue the old to ourselves with an industrial adhesive.

          However,the point, if any, of discussing the past of humanity would be to asses what can be done today on the background we enjoy.Neither toal acceptance nor total rejection would serve our purpose.

          • Satish Chandra

            Ashamant,

            My argument is that there is no mechanism to downgrade one’s Varna. “Firing” means just that. I never said “firing” can only apply during a war time. And my point was a general one and not just about kshyatriyas. Also, every single Kaurava and Pandava was a kshyatriya by birth. Dronacharya didn’t have any authority to adjudicate them. If he did, please go ahead and find some evidence where he downgraded a kshyatriya’s varna.

            And you are appealing to nature when talking about gender roles. Just because we lived a certain way earlier and it helped us, does not make it correct. An obvious example is hunting. Since it helped us survive, will you say that cows should be hunted down and eaten? And mind you that the article was in response to a Hindu apologist who used modern day ethical standards to judge Abhrahamic religions, but didn’t do so to his religion. So your point that using modern day standards is unfair is moot. So is any talk about “toal acceptance nor total rejection”.

          • Ashmant,

            You may perhaps get away with waffling on ‘spirituality’, consciousness and ‘deeper layers of awareness’ and other such mystical nonsense that you keeping spouting on your other comments, but caste discrimination is a different kettle of fish where we can cut out a lot of your crap.

            Do not try to quote the discontents of today’s capitalism like cronyism, plutocracy and corporate/institutional oligarchies to defend the monstrosities of Hindu medievalism. Both are equally bad

            Casteism is and was not based on any division of labor. That theory is a fabrication even if finds support from the pages and words of Gita.

            You said:
            “The Gita itself says ” Chaturvarnam mayasrustam gunakarma vibhagasah”…or, I have created four varna based on qualities and actions.”

            My question to you is how is it that the ‘Supreme Lord’ of the world created this four-fold division of society only in and for India?. Why did this ‘divine writ’ of Krishna not prevail all over the world if it is so natural and the ‘cornerstone of civilization’. Is the rat hole of Hindu society alone the entirety of the world and existence (shrustam)?!!!

            And how do 3 gunas lead to 4 divisions and castes?. Also how many actions and karma result in 4 castes?. Another problem is that there is a fifth caste (avarana) which is not accounted for the Gita dictum.

            Why this emphasis on “Gita itself says” as though it is the last word on the matter or subject

            We are not fooling ourselves, that there is a very good and strong reason Krishna and the Gita was used to fool and subjugate the whole Hindu society and it fell for this trap in the Middle ages and has not really recovered from that.

            Division of labor had and has its uses, but you cannot call it holy grail of civilization and progress. Even so the primary castes of Hinduism have nothing to do with professions and labor classifications. It was all about privilege and superiority hidden by the smokescreen of ‘spiritual pursuit’ and ritualistic trash.

            So we don’t buy your sham comparison of caste with division of labor.

        • Satish,I’m saying that to some extent, differences are very much within our gentics and the way our civilization works, regardless of whether we support it or not.People with a certain birth having certain traits is a known fact.That applies even today is what I argued.I am neither supporting any opressive tradition nor implying that you have no concern for the differences that exist today.What I’m saying is that we need deeper research into the traditions to ascertain good/bad outcomes.

          As an analogy,I am a vegetarian and fully support it. But it doesn’t mean that animals are not killed in all societies, and that targetting one is any solution.

          In your post,you’ve put:
          “- They are tautological and use circular arguments (statements about Atman, Brahman etc.)
          – They abound in inconsistencies and contradictions
          – They are incoherent and needlessly repetitive”

          I think we could do with more elaboration. Honestly,I could write the same lines as above for many mathematical models that run our electronic equipments.

          • Satish Chandra

            What I’m saying is that we need deeper research into the traditions to ascertain good/bad outcomes.

            “Deeper” research has been done and it was found that on average people are capable of performing most tasks given the right opportunities. What that means is that it is ridiculous to divide people into varnas and jatis and claim that they can only perform those specific tasks. Instead of writing gigantic walls of text, you could have spent that time in educating yourself on what the scientific consensus is when it comes to such matters. But you seem to relish sitting on a wall pretending that you are merely passing objective observations. You aren’t. You are just defending the indefensible in the garb of “we need to know more”.

          • Captain Mandrake

            **In your post,you’ve put:
            “- They are tautological and use circular arguments (statements about Atman, Brahman etc.)
            – They abound in inconsistencies and contradictions
            – They are incoherent and needlessly repetitive”

            I think we could do with more elaboration. Honestly,I could write the same lines as above for many mathematical models that run our electronic equipments.**

            Why don’t you demonstrate your ignorance by doing so?

      • Regarding your comment on the Chinese caste, endogamy is a property of many groups globally. Caste is definitely a concept we can generalize to other cultures. It’s why I’m not as critical as others about those who marry within a caste. HOWEVER, the choice should still be present, and marrying out of the group shouldn’t make you an outcast with restrictions on interdicting etc.

        • Exactly, all traditions that we follow can not be attributed to Dharma. As an example, Brahmans were allowed to eat non-vegetarian food, specifically 5 types of animals were allowed to be eaten by them:), but in reality we do not do it now, reason could be anything including but not limited to counter attacking Buddhism when it was prevailing.

          Traditions and practices are different in reality from what a Dharma preached. How can we go blindly attacking Sanatana Dharma for which it is not accountable? We should rather find out ways of avoiding these false practices. Even Manu Smrithi says, Dharma will change in every Yuga according to the then situations, it is ours i.e. people’s responsibility to pick up what is good for society and change our Dharma accordingly to be followed.

        • HOWEVER, the choice should still be present, and marrying out of the group shouldn’t make you an outcast with restrictions on interdicting etc.

          My argument was, Sanatana Dharma never preached it. I quoted Vasistha and Arundhati’s example. Another example, Subhadra marrying Arjuna (Yadava and Kshatriya). It clearly proves that marriages were based on social status but not on the caste those days. Outcasting a person because he/she married to a person from some other caste is truly a mistake done by people wit selfish motives.

          @Satish
          “So instead of making flimsy excuses like “people did it”, it is better to take a logically coherent position that frameworks are defined by people and chuck out a framework if can’t do any good.”

          Any Dharma would have been given by people. Sanatana Dharma was always a framework which was so wide and also said that Dharma will change according to situations in time, proves its greatness. It is us who should eradicate false practices.

          No dharma would exist without people, and people’s mistakes cannot be attributed to any dharma.

          • What Satish and others like him try to portray is an overarching relevance to caste for today’s Hindus. A casual survey of Hindu forums online will reveal otherwise. Comparisons to professions of today will come about. It is inevitable. What is important is to ask how attitudes regarding caste gradually changed over time starting from Adi Shankara until modern times. Even more important it is to ask how the modern Hindu feels about caste. The vilification starts with assigning casteism to Hinduism and then dismantling the entire religion on the basis of caste, karma and reincarnation.

            The Upanishads and Brahman are the other source of attack. But this genuinely is because of a lack of understanding that contemplation and questioning are strongly encouraged within Hinduism, particularly Vedanta. Shankara’s Gita bhashya Ch 18 verses 65 and 66 in particular are testimony to the open-mindedness with which one should approach philosophy. No amount of arm-twisting is going to make someone change his beliefs. What is more important is that people think critically and this attitude is inculcated in Vedanta.

            If indeed we are to consider the approach “frameworks are defined by people and chuck out a framework if can’t do any good.” one must ask what good have ‘state atheism’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_atheism and ‘atheist nationalism’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheist_nationalism done as a framework? Before getting ahead of ourselves, I define atheism as the way atheists themselves do, the lack of belief in god or gods, so that the trump card of humanism is not brought up. In and of itself the above mentioned frameworks have been a force for misery. And humanism does not follow from atheism. Neither can atheism be absolved of its violent crimes. So before we have these pot calling the kettle black arguments again, we need to reconsider whether we are asking the right questions.

            It is not so much “how has Varnashram been a force for good” but rather how many Hindus would want Varnashram instituted in public policy/dialog at all? I vote based on personal experience that a majority of Hindus would not care less. This especially applies to white/Hispanic/East Asian/Black Hindu converts. Other than a marketing ploy by atheists secularists, identical to religion bashing by other groups to support one’s own ideology, there really does not seem to be a point to this entire argument except for ‘Oh. Look how awful your philosophy is. Don’t say that it is different from what we think it is. Now stop believing in it.’ We have heard this enough now – it is simply rabble rousing.

          • Satish Chandra

            one must ask what good have ‘state atheism’ and ‘atheist nationalism’ done as a framework?

            Nothing much. I said so in the very comment I said one needs to chuck out frameworks that aren’t any good. Unlike religious apologists like you, modern day atheists tend not to make excuses for crimes of yester year atheists. What you and Srini are doing would be the equivalent of making an excuse like “Stalin had the right ideas. Only the implementation went wrong. You can’t blame his ideas for that”.

            And if you notice the tagline for this site, it says “Promoting Science, Freethought and Secular Humanism”. There’s nothing about atheism because we know that a mere disbelief in god doesn’t say anything about your values.

            I vote based on personal experience that a majority of Hindus would not care less.

            Then why do Hindu apologists make excuses for the caste system like you did in your first comment? The Hindu ideas of old are undeniably responsible for it. So why the immense effort to deny it? There would be no “rabble-rousing” if it weren’t for people like you who can’t muster enough courage to say “Yes Hinduism got some things very very wrong. We disown those ideas“. How hard can it be? Instead all you do is reflexively defend any criticism leveled at Hinduism.

          • Captain Mandrake

            There would be no “rabble-rousing” if it weren’t for people like you who can’t muster enough courage to say “Yes Hinduism got some things very very wrong. We disown those ideas“. How hard can it be?

            I too wonder the same thing. If I were a Hindu (I am an atheist actually) that is what I would say “Yes Hinduism got some things very very wrong. We disown those ideas but we would like hold to our Gods. Please let us be.“

            Why can’t Hindus say that instead of twisting themselves into pretzels to defend their caste system, anti-islam/christian xenophobia, and their cow-shit-eating?

          • The Yadava-Pandava marriage, if it happened, doesn’t prove anything. The Yadavas were not a caste as they are now, they were a clan like the Kurus. Krishna and Subhadra were Kshatriyas.

          • Also, for the (mythical) record, Yadu and Puru were brothers , thus making the marriage of Arjuna and Subhadra well within the distant family. One needn’t look that far because Arjuna and Subhadra were themselves cousins.

          • Unlike religious apologists like you, modern day atheists tend not to make excuses for crimes of yester year atheists.
            I would not bet on that comment…
            http://www.godlessinamerica.com/onatheistatrocities.html
            and here’s a counter
            http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2013/04/no-crimes-in-the-name-of-atheism/
            It has become typical to hear the blame being placed on ‘Communism’ instead of atheism. History tells us otherwise. The original communist manifesto was an economic one dealing with the problems of capitalism and in fact, there is evidence that early communists were actually Christian.
            And if you notice the tagline for this site, it says “Promoting Science, Freethought and Secular Humanism”. There’s nothing about atheism because we know that a mere disbelief in god doesn’t say anything about your values.
            I knew the secular humanism card would come up – but I have no issues with it. In fact, I actually think that it is beneficial to separate atheism from humanism in dialog. Here is a point worth considering:
            In the same way that one can categorize oneself as an atheist, one can categorize oneself as a non-dualist or Vedantist. Also in the same way that the values held by ‘x’ number of atheists can be said to be secular and humanistic, the values that are held by ‘x’ number of Hindus can be said to be pluralistic or spiritual humanistic. Here is a link arguing for the view that pluralism and spiritual humanism is the utilitarian value emanating from an esoteric and critical comprehension of Vedanta. http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Lakhani-CaveHinduismandHumanism.pdf

            Then why do Hindu apologists make excuses for the caste system like you did in your first comment?
            One of the important things to distinguish in this discussion is that caste, whether birth-based or not, was inextricably linked to profession. So, when I was making a case for kshatriya meaning a police officer/soldier/combatant – I really meant that. Why? Because I can’t think of any other word that could have been used by Krishna to call Arjun a soldier/lieutenant/commander or whatever he was. The terminology did not exist to the best of my knowledge. All of these different titles were clumped under the ‘kshatriya’ category. I could be wrong. But in the context of the situation, the exhortation from the end of Krishna was to fight because it was the right thing to be done.
            There would be no “rabble-rousing” if it weren’t for people like you who can’t muster enough courage to say “Yes Hinduism got some things very very wrong. We disown those ideas“. How hard can it be?
            It would be naïve to think that playing the humility card will make non-Hindus leave us alone. History has taught us this. And we do admit our mistakes.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltRSQ-OSVxQ
            http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/haf-updates-landmark-report-caste-based-discrimination-india
            But you people will still not acknowledge this as I see
            http://nirmukta.net/Thread-HAF-report-on-caste-discrimination
            So, there is no point. We can’t be left alone. So we ‘defend’ criticisms leveled against us in the hope that practicing Hindus are given more dignity and respect. Slowly, the Hindu academia has woken up to this outsider view of Hinduism that has been rampant in literature and they are publishing to clear this unfair stain on us.
            http://www.amazon.com/Invading-Sacred-Analysis-Hinduism-Studies/dp/8129111829/ref=pd_sim_b_2
            http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-India-Interventions-Dravidian-Faultlines/dp/8191067374/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374269058&sr=8-1&keywords=breaking+india
            And I respect what these people do for people like me and my rights. The hope is that our ‘idols’ don’t get desecrated by ‘rationalists’ of the self-respect movement. The hope is that the world doesn’t look to the British Raj and their depictions of Hindus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrayal_of_Tamil_Brahmins_in_popular_media#Negative_Portrayals
            The hope is that kids can go to school and wear religious ornaments without being ridiculed or abused.
            The hope is that our spiritual leaders like Vivekananda, who have provided guidance to millions, are not mindlessly insulted by the likes of you http://nirmukta.net/Thread-On-Vivekananda-s-defense-of-caste

            But then we have to bear Naturally he can only set aside little time for cow shit eaters… and we realize that a serious, civil dialog is just not possible. The Bigot title has more justification now than ever.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            **It would be naïve to think that playing the humility card will make non-Hindus leave us alone. History has taught us this. And we do admit our mistakes.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltRSQ-OSVxQ **

            Not sure how that video implies that you have admitted your mistakes. A snippet of the video as the transcript i shown below.

            “Our history is 5000 years before we had Ramayan Mahabharat. Rama killed Ravana, Krishna killed Khans, Arjuna killed his own relatives because they were no good. Two hundred year ago India was the largest economy in the world. Lot many people invaded the country. Why Hindu was not defending them at that time? And why Gandhi was appreciated because of his non-violence and truth? He was also Hindu. Prithviraj Chauhan he excused Mohmad Ghazni for 16 times and Ghazni killed Pritviraj Chauhan 17th time when Ghazni conquered Prithviraj Chauhan. And why Hindus are considered coward these days?”

            That incoherent question filled with historical inaccuracies was in the first 50 seconds of the video. And the answer from the Hindu nut goes into Atman, Brahman, Karma and other BS.

            LOL @ all these Hindus.

          • @Advay

            This is just like a supportive of a reports that slaves are living comfortable, neither they can walk away nor we let them live with dignity. Though, this nation is under monarch or foreign invasion and now freedom, few section of the people are continually always dominating the masses, the secrets lies in the efforts of the links in your comments. In india, a peasant work for his food and his fellow human, like this a artisan, a Masan, a weaver and etc.. But a caste elite work for his son, and son of son and …. etc to his lineage of 20th or more order! no, surprise, he would worship the caste system. A revolution or a arise or a awakening? did india face in the past? no ..! because, arising masses always in a confrontation in the line of caste! because of this, enjoying masses always in the verge of comfort(1.2billiion with nil gold in last olympic, just a weak condition). It is quite natural castic society is in the favors of the elites. So, free thought& free mind, would surely make human in peaceful existence. Wearing religious identity always pose a conflict, it may be any religion like hindu, muslim, or christain.

            Political crimes are equated with the atheist! but it is zero in front of the religious crimes happened and happening in the world.

          • //The hope is that our spiritual leaders like Vivekananda, who have provided guidance to millions, are not mindlessly insulted by the likes of you http://nirmukta.net/Thread-On-Vivekananda-s-defense-of-caste //

            And how exactly was Vivekananda 'insulted' in that thread? The latter of half of this post in that very thread offers an aid to distinguish a critique of an individual’s ideas from a personal attack. On what grounds is immunity owed to ‘our spiritual leaders’? The perils of according such immunity are the topic of this earlier post .

          • @ Captain Mandrake
            Watch the video again, the speaker clearly admits that Hindus had made mistakes. Quote mining the way you have done does not help.

            @ Pannaichan
            This is just like a supportive of a reports that slaves are living comfortable, neither they can walk away nor we let them live with dignity.
            I have no idea what you are talking about or how that relates to my comment or the call for a casteless society from Hindu leaders.

            @ Arvind
            And how exactly was Vivekananda ‘insulted’ in that thread?
            It is right there on the thread! What are you talking about?! Example – “You are too charitable to Vivekananda. He exactly knows what he is talking about. So much fricking privilege.”
            It was not just ideas that are being targeted here but the individual so don’t try to hide this. After looking at other posts on Nirmukta, it is clear that ad-hominem attacks on Hindus is a hobby on this site. Nobody is asking for immunity. Just keep your ‘cow shit eater’ nonsense to yourselves. Bigots.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            **@ Captain Mandrake
            Watch the video again, the speaker clearly admits that Hindus had made mistakes. Quote mining the way you have done does not help.**

            I quoted the first 50 seconds of the video with out any break. No where have I changed the intended meaning of the quoted material. Regarding the rest of the video I do not have the time to transcribe it. If you want you can transcribe it and show us what mistakes of Hindu are being admitted by the other Hindu in the video.

            Somehow I have a feeling that the admitted mistakes will not include any of the following.

            1) Acknowledging the stupidity of Vedanta

            2) Owning up to the misogyny in Hindu scriptures

            3) Owning up to the horrors of Caste system in Hindu society

            4) Or even acknowledging the xenophobic hatred demonstrated by current Hindu leaders

          • Captain Mandrake

            ** Just keep your ‘cow shit eater’ nonsense to yourselves. Bigots.**

            Cow shit eater or Cow shit enthusiast is a title given to those Hindus who instead of acknowledging the stupidity of using Cow excreta as medicine reflexively defend the use of cow shit and cow urine in comments section of this article (http://nirmukta.com/2008/10/04/cows-excreta-as-medicine-insult-to-humanity/ ). They could just say “Ancient Hindus were clueless about medicine and ended up using cow shit and cow urine. Now thanks to modern medicine we know better. We will stop using it.”. But no. They want to hold on to the Hindu heritage of using Cow excreta in medicine even after being exposed to modern medicine. Hence the title of cow shit enthusiast and cow shit eater.

            Though you have not said anything about the usage of cow shit in medicine what drives you to engage in caste apologetics is also what drives the cow shit enthusiast to defend use of cow shit in medicine, ie inability to let go of your Hindu heritage. So you are not that different from cow shit eaters.

            Coming back to caste apologetics, you are yet to respond to Ranganath’s challenge shown below.

            **I had challenged in one of my earlier comments that Hindu religious brigade show verses from scriptures that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism. That challenge has so far gone a begging.**

            Please respond to this challenge instead of making silly assertions like the following.

            **What is the evidence that caste was birth based, if the texts themselves denounce it? It is circumstantial and hypothetical at best.**

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            **It is right there on the thread! What are you talking about?! Example – “You are too charitable to Vivekananda. He exactly knows what he is talking about. So much fricking privilege.”**

            Vivekanand was a relatively well educated person and well traveled person. He must have seen the brutalities of caste system. Now, the fact that the someone like that would engage in defense of caste system as shown in the article (http://nirmukta.com/2012/06/28/on-vivekanandas-defense-of-caste/ ) just shows that this person was unable to put himself in the shoes of those who were suffering under this brutal system. Hence the term “fricking privilege”. If you disagree with that you are welcome to defend Vivekanand’s defense of Caste system.

            As to the following comment of yours.

            **The hope is that our spiritual leaders like Vivekananda, who have provided guidance to millions,**

            Please check out what the people he has guided are doing. They form something called a Vivekananda Study Circle and invite Hindu clowns (http://nirmukta.com/2012/09/05/hall-of-shame-on-a-hindutva-apologists-recent-lectures-at-iit-madras/ ) to lecture them on Hindu Supremacist Revisionist BS.

            As I said LOL @ all these Hindus.

          • Stepping back a bit. The original challenge was to ask Hindus to admit mistakes. But that is still not enough as can be seen here. I think that is mostly because of the animosity that exists. My earlier point holds proven. We can’t be left alone. Even when we blatantly admit that casteism was a blight on the country. So we ‘defend’ ourselves. Which ultimately becomes another admission for a crime we did not commit, and an ideology that we do not hold valid. It is important to note that Hindus are as diverse as ‘freethinkers’ and clumping them together like this site does is unjustified to put it mildly.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            **Stepping back a bit.**

            We do not have to step anywhere. You made the following claim that Hindu texts denounce caste system.

            **What is the evidence that caste was birth based, if the texts themselves denounce it? It is circumstantial and hypothetical at best.**

            All Ranganath asked you was for the verses that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism.

            **I had challenged in one of my earlier comments that Hindu religious brigade show verses from scriptures that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism. That challenge has so far gone a begging.**

            Please provide the verses that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism. Else have the decency to admit that you were wrong in your claim that Hindu texts denounce caste system.

            Let us first see if you (Advay) can admit your mistake.

          • Advay,

            Fine, that’s fair. If you admit that Hindus got it wrong with caste– then we’re in agreement.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Dear Ashwin,

            **Fine, that’s fair. If you admit that Hindus got it wrong with caste– then we’re in agreement**

            He is still carrying on with this nonsense of caste not being birth based. Also it is not clear at all if he associates casteism with Hindusim. Just see the following from one of his posts.

            **The vilification starts with assigning casteism to Hinduism and then dismantling the entire religion on the basis of caste, karma and reincarnation.**

            If casteism can not be assigned to Hindism what the heck do you associate it to?

            He should realize that there are several reasons to dismantle Hinduism. Casteism is just one of those reasons. Xenophobia is another. Plain old belief in God(s) is another.

          • @Advay

            SC’s dedicated to their Hindu traditions despite the discrimination they have encountered”
            http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/haf-updates-landmark-report-caste-based-discrimination-india

            They are not hindus or muslim or christain, because their identity was completely ruined in the name of caste oppression, they don’t have any specific god, or religion or any hold in the society, that is what they were coming under schedule list of indian constitution. It is a indirect and we may call it as a compromise on the part of the post freedom leaders sittings, Agenda of forming massive society?

            In this agenda the worst affected are the low caste, caught in the hands of hindu dharma struggling to enter temple, struggling to enter street, struggling to use common tea glass, struggling to get recognizing in the indian bureaucratic system. It is relaxed, where? wherever they are in considerable mass, here, the system automatically depict them as anti elements and
            isolate them in name of western blot. like your link,

            http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-India-Interventions-Dravidian-Faultlines/dp/8191067374/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374269058&sr=8-1&keywords=breaking+india.

            Terror module in any form should be punished, whether it is, moa or religious or groupism including caste atrocities. A unbiased system, free from caste/religious fundamentalist is the need of this time

            How do you advocate this
            http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2009/01/16/nothing-holy-in-indias-temple-tradition/

            Hindu dharma rules are yet to be framed,

            http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/temple-entry-practice

            these are the condition of temple visitors,

            http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/fiveyearold-girl-raped-temple-priest-arrested/article4160026.ece

            http://www.topix.net/forum/world/pakistan/TO5LOQDHK2EG5MTLH

            http://www.hindustantimes.com/Punjab/PunjabAbroadCanada/Canada-court-finds-Hindu-priest-guilty-of-sex-crimes/SP-Article1-1054695.aspx

          • We do not have to step anywhere.
            Yes we do. My comment was not published, in which I was responding to your off-the-topic remarks. I was bringing the discussion back to where it started.

            Please provide the verses that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism.
            A very quick search on the internet can bring up scriptural quotes that show disapproval for casteism, especially birth-based caste system.

            Nonetheless
            https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=v-JZAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA531

            a more text friendly version
            http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03179.htm

            One of the earliest mentions of professions not being birth-based are recounted in the Rig-Veda.
            http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv09112.htm
            WE all have various thoughts and plans, and diverse are the ways of men.
            The Brahman seeks the worshipper, wright seeks the cracked, and leech the maimed.
            Flow, Indu, flow for Indra’s sake.
            2 The smith with ripe and seasoned plants, with feathers of the birds of air,
            With stones, and with enkindled flames, seeks him who hath a store of gold. Flow, Indu, flow for Indra’s sake.
            3 A bard am I, my dad’s a leech, mammy lays corn upon the stones.
            A leech here means a doctor/physician.
            The author of the Rig Veda HIMSELF seems to be born to a corn-grinder!

          • The above links that I have provided can not be clearer to show that profession and indeed caste are not birth-based and that a gradual and systematic change had occurred by the Gupta period that gave rise to casteism. Note how even the term brahmana etc. were not used in the early Rig Veda.

            More references here http://www.jstor.org/stable/4414252?seq=6

            and here is a Hindu group that clearly recognizes caste is a wrong concept. http://www.shastras.org/ArunVenugopal.html
            So don’t try to spread this erroneous notion that Hindus are apologists towards casteism.

            I have given what was asked of me. So now the evidence that I am asking for, which is still not being presented despite repeated requests.

            Where is the historical evidence that birth-based caste system existed before the Gupta period? What evidence is there that caste should be birth-based if scriptures disapprove of it?

            There is no point, I know. Mandrake and his cronies won’t get it. The cow-shit eater rants apparently will not let them understand the other persons viewpoint.

            A majority of contemporary Hindus object to caste-based discrimination and some don’t care about varnashram also. That is why associating caste with Hinduism, especially a contemporary understanding of Hinduism is misplaced – it is not accepted even by temple going Hindus as I have shown in the various links.

          • @pannaichan

            Although a few parts of it were not clear, I think I understand your comment as a whole.

            SCs are grouped under Hindu religion even when they might not consider themselves Hindus. They then have to face atrocities at the hands of the ‘upper caste’ Hindus.

            So, I have no tiff with the likes of Dr. Elango http://www.countercurrents.org/elango030213.htm
            although I disagree with some of his rather bizarre ideas. I know your point and I agree with you.

            The point I was making is that, when criticizing a religion it is important to not generalize everyone’s opinions on certain beliefs inherent in that religion. It is also important to not hate the person who believes in something (or what one assumes the person is believing in) and I gave the book link to highlight that. I am sure you agree with that.

            How do you advocate this
            I don’t. I do not know when it started or how or why. But it must be stopped. Let’s talk solutions. We have been finger-pointing and name-calling for a long time. What is the point when most people agree that it should end?

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            One of the earliest mentions of professions not being birth-based are recounted in the Rig-Veda.

            Really? From the following lines

            WE all have various thoughts and plans, and diverse are the ways of men.
            The Brahman seeks the worshipper, wright seeks the cracked, and leech the maimed. Flow, Indu, flow for Indra’s sake.
            2 The smith with ripe and seasoned plants, with feathers of the birds of air,
            With stones, and with enkindled flames, seeks him who hath a store of gold. Flow, Indu, flow for Indra’s sake.
            3 A bard am I, my dad’s a leech, mammy lays corn upon the stones.
            A leech here means a doctor/physician.
            The author of the Rig Veda HIMSELF seems to be born to a corn-grinder!

            you conclude that Hindu scriptures denounces castes as you claim here.

            What is the evidence that caste was birth based, if the texts themselves denounce it? It is circumstantial and hypothetical at best.

            I do not see how those lines translates to Hindu scriptures denouncing castes. Please explain.

          • The question of “do Hindu scriptures denounce or support caste?” is, to me, inane. Hindu scriptures were written by many many people over a period of thousands of years.

            You could ask “did author X of Y document condemn or feel uneasy about caste?” This makes more sense.

            Now, in Hindu scriptures, there are certainly episodes in which casteism is looked down upon. One such example is the story of Utanga in the Mahabharata, in which the brahmin Utanga asks Krishna for a boon that will give him water whenever he asks. At a later time, Krishna expresses desire to give Utanga amrit and tests him at Indra’s request.

            Utanga asks for water, but this time, a Nishada brings it. He thus refuses it. Krushna then expresses disappointment in Utanga and says he doesn’t deserve immortality.

            So there are definitely a few examples– I can think of a verse in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad and perhaps the Yaksha Prasna as well– but so what?

            There many more references in scripture which affirm casteism. I thus don’t think Ranganath’s challenge was even necessary– it is too generous. Which verses do we listen to, Advay? The casteist ones or the non-casteist ones? If we listen to the non-casteist ones, are you prepared to say that the casteist verse’s authors got it wrong?

          • Captain Mandrake

            Ashwin,

            I do not think your example of Utanga being denied immortality is evidence of the scriptures disapproving casteism. It just means that it was the norm in that society for upper caste people to not receive water from the hands of lower caste people. Krishna is not denying immortality to Utanga because of Utanga’s casteist behavior. For I am sure Utanga would have exhibited casteist behavior even before this test and Krishna being God must been aware of it. It was for not trusting Krishna that he denies him immortality. Here is a simpler example that makes it clear. It is like God testing your faith by asking you to jump into fire and you not trusting him and refusing to jump into fire. You failed the test not because you have the habit of not jumping into fire. You failed it because you did not trust God enough to make an exception in this particular instance.

            PS: I do understand your point though. Even if there may be few verses (not sure if that is the case) that may be interpreted as disapproval of casteism what to make of the verses that approve of casteism. Given that these are the holy scriptures why do these even have verses approving of casteism? I believe this is the point you are making.

            PPS: I would still like Advay to explain which part (specific words) of the verses he quoted is to be interpreted as denouncing casteism.

          • @Captain mandrake,

            First you have conveniently quote-mined my comment, so I will reproduce excerpts from the link I provided here.

            “And a Sudra is not a Sudra by birth alone–nor a Brahmana is Brahmana by birth alone. He, it is said by the wise, in whom are seen those virtues is a Brahmana. And people term him a Sudra in whom those qualities do not exist, even though he be a Brahmana by birth.”

            “if thou recognise him as a Brahmana by characteristics, then, O long-lived one, the distinction of caste becometh futile as long as conduct doth not come into play.'”

            ” And to this the Rishis have borne testimony by using as the beginning of a sacrifice such expressions as–of what caste so ever we may be, we celebrate the sacrifice. Therefore, those that are wise have asserted that character is the chief essential requisite. ”

            Nice try, but people have the ability to click on links and read for themselves. How is the statement that a person does not belong to X caste by birth alone not clear enough?

            Further,
            One of the earliest mentions of professions not being birth-based are recounted in the Rig-Veda.

            Really? From the following lines …
            you conclude that Hindu scriptures denounces castes as you claim here

            I was clear with what I said. After mentioning before the first link that there is scriptural evidence for denouncing caste based on birth, I was careful to point out that the Rig Veda verse specifically mentions professions (above) and that the two links I have provided together show that profession and caste were not birth-based.
            The above links that I have provided can not be clearer to show that profession and indeed caste are not birth-based

            I also clearly mention that the early Rig Veda does not even mention castes
            Note how even the term brahmana etc. were not used in the early Rig Veda.
            So how long are you going to play this game? Right now, you are just stretching this discussion either knowingly and unknowingly, but those who can read will agree that the links provided are showing a clear transition of professions not being birth-based, emergence of the concept of caste that was not rigid, and eventually, as we now know, caste becoming linked to profession and birth.

          • @ Captain Mandrake
            It was for not trusting Krishna that he denies him immortality. Here is a simpler example that makes it clear. It is like God testing your faith by asking you to jump into fire and you not trusting him and refusing to jump into fire. You failed the test not because you have the habit of not jumping into fire. You failed it because you did not trust God enough to make an exception in this particular instance.
            First of all, you added your own philosophy into the midst of this and made it seem like that is what the Mahabharat is saying. It is actually very clear.
            http://www.mahabharataonline.com/rajaji/mahabharata_summary_101.php

            One day Utanga was very thirsty and, unable to find water anywhere in the desert, he bethought himself of the boon he had received.

            As soon as be did this, a Nishada appeared before him, clothed in filthy rags. He had five hunting hounds in leash and a water-skin strapped to his shoulder.

            The Nishada grinned at Utanga and saying, “You seem to be thirsty. Here is water for you,” offered the bamboo spout of his water-skin to the brahmana to drink from.

            Utanga, looking at the man and his dogs and his water skin, said in disgust: “Friend, I do not need it, thank you.” Saying this, he thought of Krishna and reproached him in his mind: “Indeed, was this all the boon you gave me?”

            The outcaste Nishada pressed Utanga over and over again to quench his thirst, but it only made Utanga more and more angry and he refused to drink. The hunter and his dogs disappeared.

            Seeing the strange disappearance of the Nishada, Utanga reflected: “Who was this? He could not have been a real Nishada. It was certainly a test and I have blundered miserably. My philosophy deserted me. I rejected the water offered by the Nishada and proved myself to be an arrogant fool.”

            Utanga was in great anguish. A moment later Madhava himself appeared with conch and discus. “O Purushottama!” exclaimed Utanga; “you put me to a difficult trial. Was it right of you to try me thus? Make an untouchable offer unclean water to me, a brahmana, to drink. Was this kind?” asked Utanga. Utanga spoke in bitter tones.

            Janardana smiled. “O Utanga, for your sake, when you put my boon into action, I asked Indra to take amrita to you and give it to you as water. He said he could not give to a mortal what would give him immortality, while he was willing to do anything else. But I prevailed upon him and he agreed to take amrita and give it to you as water, provided I let him do it as a Chandala and tested your understanding and found you willing to take water from a Chandala. I accepted the challenge believing you had attained jnana and transcended externals. But you have done this and made me suffer defeat at Indra’s hands.” Utanga saw his mistake and was ashamed.

          • with captain mandrake’s painfully ignorant rendition of the Mahabharata, it is clear that the people here have a habit of re-inventing the literature at whim and fancy. Ignorance is not a crime, but attributing false conclusions out of ignorance is pathetic. Fortunately, the Internet has made it easy for everyone to get a glimpse of what the reality was so that such mistranslations and strawmen are avoided.

            However, Ashwin asks a good question.
            Which verses do we listen to, Advay? The casteist ones or the non-casteist ones? If we listen to the non-casteist ones, are you prepared to say that the casteist verse’s authors got it wrong?
            I actually am prepared to say the casteist verse authors got it wrong. Like I said before, Sankara asked us to think critically. “A thousand verses of the Veda that say something like fire is cold must be rejected if empirical evidence to the contrary is provided.”

          • Erratum: i didn’t intend the word ‘such’ before ‘mistranslations’ but rather before ‘strawmen’.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            Do you even understand the meaning of the word denounce. Please show me from your own quotes how those verses denounces caste system. And stop accusing me of quote mining. I did not change the intended meaning of your post. I will cut paste those verses that you had in your post once again. Please explain which words in your post translates to **denounce**.

            **One of the earliest mentions of professions not being birth-based are recounted in the Rig-Veda.
            http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv09112.htm
            WE all have various thoughts and plans, and diverse are the ways of men.
            The Brahman seeks the worshipper, wright seeks the cracked, and leech the maimed. Flow, Indu, flow for Indra’s sake.
            2 The smith with ripe and seasoned plants, with feathers of the birds of air,
            With stones, and with enkindled flames, seeks him who hath a store of gold. Flow, Indu, flow for Indra’s sake.
            3 A bard am I, my dad’s a leech, mammy lays corn upon the stones.
            A leech here means a doctor/physician.
            The author of the Rig Veda HIMSELF seems to be born to a corn-grinder!**

            Let me ask the question again. Which words in that post of yours translates to denounce?

            **However, Ashwin asks a good question.**

            And yes Ashwin does ask an important question but there is an even more important follow up question. Why are casteist verses even in Hindu scriptures? Please provide an answer.

            **I actually am prepared to say the casteist verse authors got it wrong.**

            Do you know the reason why you pick and choose those supposedly non-casteist verses instead of the casteist verses? It is because freethinkers, secular humanists and rationalists have shamed you slimy upper caste Hindus in to doing so.

          • Hi Captain Mandrake,

            I would probably guess that the author of the Utanga passage was anti-caste based on the text that Advay himself has provided.

            There are many anti-caste authors in Sanskrit literature. I recommend looking up Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History. She talks about such passages in depth in that book.

            But coming back to scripture, the reason those passages are in there seems to be pretty obvious– the people who wrote them lived in a casteist society and were casteists themselves.

        • Rnaganath: “Is the rat hole of Hindu society alone the entirety of the world and existence (shrustam)?!!!” When we talk of the time period of the Mahabaharat, it’s surely a period when India had a very sizeable share in world trade,had a huge civilization and was one of the bigger global players. Even as late as 1700 AD,India’s share in world trade was 22%.The temples in Vrandavan have gold plated domes, to quote an observation. So yes, when Gita originated, this rat hole was surely pretty much the entirety of the world, Chinese apart,and barbarian roamed Europe and the Americas were covered with wild buffalo.Even as late as the early 1900s,New York City had a huge problem of horse dung spewn all over the city. So yesz, the rat hole has been around for a while in a dominant position,if you like to interpret facts,not just throw around terms.

          “Krishna and the Gita was used to fool and subjugate the whole Hindu society and it fell for this trap in the Middle ages and has not really recovered from that”.I told you, even till the 1700s, India was a huge economy. Middle ages were far ahead.If there’s anything to blame, it’s the void in strategic leadership in running the country from 1100 AD onwards,where India became an acquistion target.

          “You may perhaps get away with waffling on ‘spirituality’, consciousness and ‘deeper layers of awareness’ and other such mystical nonsense that you keeping spouting on your other comments, but caste discrimination is a different kettle of fish where we can cut out a lot of your crap.” Please have the guts to prove that all that is nonsense.I talk on my own experience on all that,not any mystical stuff picked up from anywhere.Yes there are deeper levels of awareness.That’s why this carbon based lifeform called me can respond without resorting to any thinking, structuring or garnishing,all in one go and yet carry on with all daily tasks with no effort.So no waffling. What you see is what you get.

          “And how do 3 gunas lead to 4 divisions and castes?. Also how many actions and karma result in 4 castes?. Another problem is that there is a fifth caste (avarana) which is not accounted for the Gita dictum”

          Look, I am not interested in any hindu defence.Yes caste has become a scourge.See, when you have hardly a crore people(half of modern Mumbai’s population) on such a huge landmass, surely most of the modern infrastructure and technological facilites would have no demand to begin with. We need transport, communication, industrial production on such a large scale now because there’s s possibilty of consumption here. When Thomas Edison was giving the light bulb its finshing touch, it was JP Morgan who supported the venture becasue he saw dollars in the making.So many jobs such as electrical engineering, architecture,private entrepreuership,academia have developed either as new bodies of knowledge or offshoots in the last 200 odd years only, in a million year old species.The time and place of Mahabharata is a completely different ball game.Neither was wealth as distributed as it is today, nor was a demand for products and services so varied and deep. So there was little scope in terms of work than few simplistic divisions.Is that releavant today? No.Today education and economic opportunities are wide open. So many different kinds of work will continue to evolve.

          “Why this emphasis on “Gita itself says” as though it is the last word on the matter or subject”

          Since we are critically examining the stuff said in the Gita, and our hypothesis is that Gita promulgates casteism, I’m simply examining its contents and finding a piece of evidence to the contrary which helps me in deciding whether to accept or reject the hypothesis. If you have your own observations, please add them. If an intelligent discussion proves that our hypothesis is correct, the be it.But INTELLIGENT discussions don’t involve namecalling, term framing, personal attack without substance.You would have to back up your statements.And “I don’t know any theory that relates to this” is not a backup. Why don’t you go ahead and make a theory? I’m open to constructing hypothesis, collecting data and sharing findings.Merely citing someone else’s research and patting your own back is not scientific enquiry. As far as my own stuff on spirituality goes, it’s something worked and practised on myself, with no reference to any body of work.I don’t need to cite anyone on this.

          The large point is how to give this stuff some usefulness and benifit people in general.
          That would require some sincere efoort into understanding fully what we put forth, not making knee jerk comments.Let’s say your hypothesis is that old texts have brought India down.The base intent is apparently helping the sorry state of the country isn’t it? If merely name calling and Hindu bashing is what we want, I’d say better go have a nice dip in the swimming pool or walk your dog or watch a movie. If you want any serious impcat of your findings on society at large, then all biased namecalling will have ZERO impact.The Gita has had tremendous impact on society, and if there are ill impacts, let’s surely correct them. But let’s also have the quality of arguments that could make this easy,electronic typing have atleast half as much impact as a 5000 year old book.

          • Satish Chandra

            If you want any serious impcat of your findings on society at large, then all biased namecalling will have ZERO impact.

            When it comes to changing minds there are a multitude of approaches ranging from ridicule to being boringly civil. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. I (and many other people at Nirmukta) have always held that a pluralistic approach is what is needed. At the other end are people like you who are so intolerant that you demand everyone use only your approach. You make nonsensical claims of “ZERO” impact when people who employ ridicule like Dawkins have made a significant impact. So quit the tone trolling.

          • In my assumption(and I may be wrong),the real target audience for this discussion would be the people who are the most direct victims of any subjugation by religious means.

            Maybe this is just a piece of online drawing room entertainment in the form of a debate between two opposing parties who’re getting thrills out of this.

            I comment based on the first assumption. Please ignore if the second is the case.

            You want to spread free thought rite? Fine. But where? On an online forum? Do you have it in you to make some real change by driving policy makers? I have all the best of wishes to you for that,if that really helps the cause of the dwontrodden

            But you know what,the village landlord who actually goes ahead and rapes the daughter of one of his low caste servants as a punishment for getting educated (real criminal case in India) wipes his behind with your online smarkiness.

            Do you have it in you to change that? No..you will google up one argument type and save the daughters of this land.

            Your ‘poor calibre’,’inane’,’apologist’,
            ‘nonsense’ scream of intolerance. Anyone can set up an online survey on surveymonkey or something else, grade it from most flexible to most intolerant, set 2000 questions(yes, that’s must be the no of of polished cusses that our esteemed intellectuals are sprinkling)and find a result..you’d hit the 99.99 th %ile of global intolerance scores.(100 goes to Hitler)

            But none of this will change anything on ground reality terms because of your own intolerance towards your own cow shit eating mideval customer.And no success is without customers.Nothing makes money without selling.

            Really want to have free thought? Influence the policy makers,administrators,local bodies,community leaders.You will actually see the results of your thought on many changed lives.

            But the question is,do you really want to understand about the people who’se interest is the very premise of your diatribe?Then probably you would have to understand their life,social structure,attitudes,and then surely spread free thought howsoever is suitable.Ahh..that’s boring isn’t it?

            What is exciting?Logging on the net,and try to cuss people(ofcourse very politically correct cuss) into accepting your way of thinking, on a website that wants to promote free thinking.

            All the best! I have better entertainment options :-)

          • Satish Chandra

            Ashamant,

            The irony of you resorting to ridicule to make your point. A worthless point at that as reading stuff online is no different than reading books and using your logic, no book ever brought about any social change.

          • Satish Chandra

            All the best! I have better entertainment options :-)

            Oh, and good riddance.

            EDIT: I guess so much for “better entertainment options”. Nice try at sneaking past comment moderation by changing a letter in your email address.

  • One of the unintended but nevertheless effective consequences of this article has been to hit the Hindu conservative sensibility on casteism ‘below the belt’ so to say.

    Nothing rankles and deflates the typical Hindu cultural pride and jingoism more than the almost never-ending critical refrain on caste discrimination. The guilty squirming of its qualms gets more intense when its scriptures are led through the ‘trail by fire’ skeptical attacks.

    Since Hindu conservatives have no way to defend the stigma of Casteism, they resort to the standard escapism of absolving their scriptures from any blame.

    The hollow and bogus argument that Hindu scriptures disapprove and denounce casteism is not going to cut any ice in a debate, because all the arguments made so far are shallow and dubious.

    I had challenged in one of my earlier comments that Hindu religious brigade show verses from scriptures that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism. That challenge has so far gone a begging.

    The only diversionary tactic that has had some success is to beat around the bush on Bhagavad Gita (BG) verses using new and revisionist allegory.

    The BG is a slippery, slimy and duplicitous work of Brahminism. To expose its duplicity on casteism requires critical and skeptical analysis which has attempted but usually deaf ears of Hindu conservatism.

    For example on Varna Samkara (destruction of varna/caste), the BG makes Arjuna the fall guy or sucker by putting almost all Varna Samkara verses into his mouth. It makes Krishna neatly side-step and evade answering the Varna Samkara concerns of Arjuna by resorting to metaphysical nonsense on soul and selfless action.

    But Krishna or BG comes back to justifying Varna Dharma in the next chapters by twisting and corrupting the Sankhya’s triguna doctrine and adding Karma to this cocktail mix.

    The shrewd tactic of the BG is to never make or reveal its position on caste perpetuation in a single verse or chapter, but to strew and sprinkle it all over the first main chapters. Whether intentional or not BG does a classic act of hedging by this verse-scattering tactic, where the divine ordination of caste is thrown in a later chapter while the call to carrying out one’s caste duty is placed in an earlier chapter. In a similar way the demotion of lower castes, vilification of women and the glorification of top 2 castes (9.32 & 9.33) is placed in a section of BG that is supposed to elaborate Gnana/Bhakti Yoga, setting it up for a escape hatch of spiritual allegory whenever any unfavorable mention or attack is made on it.

    Let’s look at another typical tactic of Hindu conservative flag bearers, which is to use the fictional characters of Puranas who have supposedly risen out of the Caste hierarchy even though they were born Sudras.

    Do these names sound familiar to the skeptics:
    Veda Vyasa
    Valmiki
    Vishwamitra
    Satyakama

    Now compare the above names with this grand claim and favorite escape clause of Hindu defense:

    You can find a lot of incidents in ancient texts where a Brahman by birth was not considered as a Brahman by virtue of what he was supposed to do or possess. Our texts did never hide any fact.

    with the above examples. Is that a lot of examples?. It is not even a handful. And the height of Hindu apologetic pretence is that not one of this is a real world example.

    We are not even sure that one real Valmiki who was an illiterate forest brigand indeed himself wrote a huge work of Ramayana in Panini or Patanjali Style Sanskrit. Even the Ramayana legend says that Valmiki became a scholar due to a boon of Narada who took pity on him. How does a condescending favor and supernatural act by the Brahminic Narada on a tribal person serve as a testimony that tribals were accepted as sages by a Brahmin dominated society. Transcending caste induced penury and discrimination by a boon does not show the scripture in a good light unless the dreaded allegory come to the rescue of bumbling Hindu apology.

    Veda Vyasa is an excellent testimony/illustration of the debauchery of the Mahabharata age which the savage Aryas has no qualms parading and chronicling, since they must have had the prescience to know that Hindu conservative fools of the 21st century will unite in the defence and apology of the immorality of their arrogant and savage royal ancestors.

    If the Mahabharata chronicle of the promiscuous orgies of the Brahmins/Kshatriyas are to be believed, Veda Vyasa is not really a Sudra but of mixed Brahmin birth, since he is the product of a ‘spiritual’ sage’s escapade with a mermaid, no less!!!. Even animals were not spared by the lust of our spiritual seers. Just because the irresponsible father could not own up to his sins and crimes, that orphaned state does not necessarily make Vyasa a sudra. Royal shame and obligation also accounts for Vyasa’s rise in the epic, not his work, merits or a society that was welcoming of lower castes

    Vyasa’s track record in surrogacy is not something that Hindus can be proud of. But Hindus/Brahmins have this insouciance, thick skin and skills of myth-making jugglery where they can white-wash the pimping and surrogacy blots of Veda Vyasa and elevate him by making him the sole author of ghost-written parables and also the complier of Vedas!!.

    Sorry guys!!! we want real examples and not tainted fairy tale ‘anti-heroes’

    Now lets prolong the agony of a broken Hindu apology by examining the case of the unfortunate Vishwamitra. The travails of Vishwamitra is an invalid example of overriding of caste identity. This fairy tale is a very good example of the intellectual rivalry between two already elite castes (Brahmin vs Kshatriya). Vishwamitra did not get his way easily and his graduation to the level to Brahmarishi was filled with thorns of Brahminical foul play including Menaka to which he succumbed for quite a while. This tale in fact symbolizes how almost impossible it is to get to the privilege of Brahminhood if one is not born into it. The Trishanku swarga episode shows how determined Brahminical authority is in fiercely guarding its inherited turf. If Hinduism truly accepts and reveres Vishwamitra why do Hindus still aspire to the real swarga in their Vedic oblations, and not the second-hand paradise of Trishanku Swarga?.

    Before we deflate the hot air apolegetic of Satyakama, let us hear some responses to the above hatchet job of the mythical examples that Hindus trot out.

    • Before ending my argument with you, one final word.

      You said these are handful of examples. Out of a handful of people that our scripts revered as the most elite people to be worshipped by all, this list occupies more than 50%. And as I said above, the ancient texts were about great people but not about common and in these we could find these examples.

      Your comments about Veda Vyasa shows your narrow mindedness one more time. It shows your lustful view – looking at everything that was given in the texts in that way. For your record, I also talked about Dharmavyadha, see you conveniently ignored that part.

      Finally, what I think is, you are trying to prove Sanatana Dharma (so called Hinduism) as wrong without reading it, understanding or intentionally understanding it to your views not beyond that.

      As I said, go and have happy writing about these.

      These would be my last words to these kind of arguments unless you really want to argue on rationale basis rather on some fantasies/taken out of context incidents.

      • “Out of a handful of people that our scripts revered as the most elite people to be worshipped by all, this list occupies more than 50%”

        If these 4 are more than 50% of the ‘elite’ list of exemplars, there are not even 10 fictional apologists of casteism from the stockpile of the scriptures. Is this state to which Hindu apology has sunk? 4 or 5 (How can one ignore the ‘enlightened’ butcher Dharmavyadha) is a lot for a religion that talks of 100 sons of Gandhari, 60000 sons of Sagara or 10 crore Narayani sena of Kishna.

        Then comes this confession:
        “as I said above, the ancient texts were about great people but not about common and in these we could find these examples”

        We very gleefully accept this confession from a ‘Sanatani’ that Sanatana Dogma is really elitist despite all its pretenses and noises about being universal.

        I am sorry that I ‘conveniently’ ignored your NYT best-selling novel on the ‘spiritual crowning’ glory of Dharmavyadha’s pravachan monologues. The only problem is that these fig leaves whether in the form of the ‘wise chandala’ of Maneesh Panchakam fame or Raikva of Ch. Upanishad or Dharmavyadha, are too small to cover the giant sore and stigma of the casteist middle ages.

        Pls spare us the feudalistic Dharma and ethics of the Vyadha Gita (where a wife is a doormat and men are to be Shravan clones) and the cock and bull story of crow-shit and ‘parlor trick’ spiritual powers background music.

        Looks like Sanatana started with the spark of crow-shit and has ended with the whimper of cow-crap!!!

        You have missed the point of debate completely. We called for real examples and analysis to support your claims and not fictional half-way houses between Ramayana and Mahabharata and between Mahabharata and Upanishads. And you are not able to make a distinction between the need for factual analysis and the use of allegorical fables. We are not in a kid’s moral science class where we can spin philosophy out of Cinderalla’s crystal shoe or Ravana’s 10 heads!!!

        Besides did Vyadha Gita stop casteism in its tracks?. For one mention of a ‘Brahmin by deed’ there are 10 more ideas of feudalistic crap in this BG plagiarism.

        Without reading or understanding Hinduism, people like us cannot call out the bluffs of conservatives like Srini or Advay.

      • What you meant to establish? Is your dharma has failed or corrupted or misunderstood by your own people or british or Mughal. If so accordingly, your dharmic protector must have reincarnated and protected the dharma, but, in the last 1000years nothing as such happened. Only we knelt at foreign hand and got this freedom. The words of top leaders should be remembered now, the hinduism is part and parcel of varna, without varna there is no hinduism- and it is continuing as on date.

        In the 18th century, there were estimated 3crores and more death due to famine in india and lakhs and lakhs of people in west bengal. Every worship yatra or kumba mela or gathering of people for worship are left with number of deaths and missing! Did this all happen at your god consciousness or without his consciousness or wanted assignment or one of his dharma? It was evident that the victims are almost elite class including brahman class. What happened to these gods, did they only help at war of family? Did they only reincarnate to fight for family cause? Did the god refurbish and narrate his breadth and width and hefty knowledge with chosen man and pour advise ? what about other human and animals? Does he shut down his operation and settled once for all? In the known human history, god has wantedly selected specific region and specific people and specific cause, and only few selective incidence god has visited then totally he forget that place, isn’t it?

        Hindu dharma is applicable to elites and their luxury survival, not to the poor and lower sections.
        God is after all a pickle in midst of hefty food of religious fundamentalism and religious dharma.

        • Captain Mandrake

          **Does he shut down his operation and settled once for all? In the known human history, god has wantedly selected specific region and specific people and specific cause, and only few selective incidence god has visited then totally he forget that place, isn’t it?**

          Well, God has to run an entire universe with billions and billions of stars. He has to visit each planet in each of the star systems to figure out which is habitable for intelligent species and screw around with them through dubious revelations. Naturally he can only set aside little time for cow shit eaters and desert wandering nomads.

    • “I had challenged in one of my earlier comments that Hindu religious brigade show verses from scriptures that disapprove/condemn/denounce casteism. That challenge has so far gone a begging”.

      Challenge already answered, but not recieved well.You might say”That’s just one verse”.Then allow me to ask you just 1 theory,statement or conclusive finding of any scientist about the origin of the whokle thing,whether you call it Universe or anything else.I challenge you to please produce any FINAL verdict(not inetermediate postulations,which get rejected the next noble season) from any scientist on big bang,quarks,string theory or any such thing that explains the thing from its origination to current state without any ambiguity.If yes, please share.

      Won’t crouch so low as to name call any community just beacause my opinion goes that way.

      I have all the respect for scientists and sceintific investigation, and I’m sure that they’re finding out many deeper laws of the Universe. But has anyone arrived at the FINAL conclusion on anything?If there was a big bang, then what was before it?If time started at the big bang, then don’t we assume that there can be something called timelesness?If that is true, then keep your tongue ensconsed inside your mouth if any ‘spiritual’ person speaks of timelesness.If time is infinite,on the other hand,then please repeat above when the Gita says that there is no birth or death, coz nothing was ever created or destroyed.If time gets curved due to gravtiattional density, then where was time when there was no mass? If all mass was always there,just concentrated in a infintesimal area, then the univerese was never created,it only expanded.

      If fundamental queries are the market, then science has till now not been the ace product.The end customer has found some solace in many forms of religion and religious customs(which I don’t necessarily say have merit)with simplistic answers of God being the creator and also in pure seeking with answers such as “no time, no space” with expereintial evidence which I’m keeping open to judgement (completely de-biassing the argument).But all the hues of “religion” if I use an umbrella word for the sake of ease are succesful products as far as customer satisfaction or loyalty goes.You can keep judging the “low calibre” of people or their “mystical” lingo, but that doesn’t change the fact that yours is a weaker product till now.Why not improve one’s product rather than pulling down another’s when the end user is indifferent?

      “Before we deflate the hot air apolegetic of Satyakama, let us hear some responses to the above hatchet job of the mythical examples that Hindus trot out”

      Look noone cares what you think is ‘apologetic’ or ‘hot air’ or anything else like that, coz you have no evidence to the contrary do you,except for your personal distaste?We’ve seen better sledging in cricket matches,yours neither impresses nor is entertaining.I’m ready, let’s tear down Satyakam or any other peice of commentary, but please let logic prevail, not accusatory language that one hears in children’s cricket matches.

      Let’s assume that all these charatcers are mythical. That’s a valid possibility.True.Krishna being a mythical charachter might very weel be the same.Correct.There’s a distinct possibilty of the Gita being an allegory too.But if that be the case, why on earth should we worry much about fiction? Do you really care if a movie displayed murder or dacoity?Rather than going into the Gita and its contents,you might as well provide proof of it being fiction and win the great battle of internet intellectual on-up-manship which hardly 1% of the target audience whom you want to free from their ignorance care about or will remember.

      I highly appreciate the fact that deductive reason is the fresh article on the website.Cheers.If you’re even 10% serious in getting scientific tempermant across the country,and if you find religious shortcomings as a barrier to that,then you’d have to get down from your imaginary pedestal and understand why people follow religions in the first place and offer a better product.

      But that would require work wouldn’t it? So the responsibilty of freeing Hindus from Hinduism is better addressed by putting down all psuedoscience(which means anything not coming out of the scientifc community’s work)and offering NO alternative.

      People largely follow religion as a cure for their anxieties. And anxieties come with disease,war,displacement,calamities…the whole gamut that Gods provide atleast endurance to peopel in.
      Hell, my family members prayed when a major surgery was going on one member.Faith seems to be a basic requirement.Science is not fulfilling that currently.

      People also follow practices to find anwers to their fundamental questions like life,death,one’s self.There are various methods and practices for someone to see for oneself what all that is all about. Science,as narrowly defined by many menbers of the scientific community, relies on proof. But proof lies in observable traits, and what these practices offer is observable experiences in one’s own life, being or whatever else we wish to call it.

      On both these counts,science has a weak footing as a product.Somehow diseases and calamities manage to have an upper hand on technological capabilities.Somehow, it haven’t researched enough into many aspects of the other party’s psotulations to come up with a proven practice, which Yoga, meditation etc are evidently.

      The customer is not a fool if your product isn’t offering what he wants.Please invent a pill to get the same serene effect as sold by the Yoga Ashrams, and you would have emptied them.But that would require some out-of-the box thinking that surely people who are weak excuses of progressive thinking don’t possess. So please go ahead and do the easier job-mudslinging.As long as opposing the other is the only point you have, you don’t have much of a point really.

  • Amar Karanth

    Well well. There are mistakes from people from both the sides of the argument, in analyzing the situation.

    First and far most, we need to study vedas, upanishads and any religious books or philosophies, as just a study of what our people in the past thought, their actions and beliefs and its impact on the society. With no prior belief or dogma, we must study them. On doing that to some extent, I see that, vedas and upanishads do not really propogate a single belief. As said in many books of indian history (I have referred from R C Majumdar’s book), vedas have evolved over a period of 1500 to 2000 years, with many sages contributing to it. So, there can be many ideas, notions, interpretations and believes. There are as well. Both that did good to society and that did not. So arguing that, vedas did no good to people or did very good people, in both sense, not the best way we can look at them. It has done good and bad, philosophies are both sane and insane. Maybe we need to check on what background were those believes, philosophies were brought forward, to understand them much better.

    Regarding God, atman, punarjanma etc, it has to be dealth now with a scientific approach. We need to think if there are any ways in current science to prove or disprove them. If there are no ways as of now, who knows, soon the science may advance itself to that level where we can answer all these questions. Point to be noted: Science itself is not perfect in answering all the questions. For example, though quantum theory is experimentally found to be true, the exact mechanism how it works, what it represents on reality etc are yet to be discovered. There are many interpretations like the copenhagen, many world theory, wave function collapse etc, they are just now theory. There are many other amazing theories in science that seem to be true (like the M theory) but lacking any experimental proofs. But unlike religions, science will not stop at a particular book or a theory. It keeps moving.

    So what I intended to tell is: Read all the books of religion, philosophy and history as a source of knowledge and understanding people of that time. But for the present, free rational thinking with belief in scientific methodology, is the most apt friend for all of us to look at the world. May be we can one day get really puzzling and unbelievable insights on the people who created vedas and upanishads. May be like ancient astronaut theory?!! What say?!

    • Amar, if we look at the indian populace as a sample, peopel live in all sorts of eons even today. Parts of tribal Bastar might look like a millenium ago,the hinterlands surely have a time lag of around 30 years of development if compared to Silicon valley, and the last might be working on ideas that are few centuries ahead of the curve.

      In reality,a bastar tribal gives more importance to the rain gods than all of quantum mechanics because it’s the vagaries of rains that decide his fate.I’ve met tribals in M.P during my childhood days who thought that the congrees is Gandhi baba’s party.These people may not have any inkling of the advancements in medical science and technology made ever since.Even if our acclaimed scientists were to be left in Bastar jungles with strictly no recourse to tax payer funded facilites or modern conveniences and no labour working on their grand ideas,they would have no option but to worship the rain gods and hope snake gods keep away when they’re asleep.

      And in the middle, we have the biggest chunk of the population who might care more about their children surviving and getting opportunities than about the big bang.Religion,whatever thinks about it, has served all of them.

      So surely, for something to replace religion,it has to have roots that deep.For that,your point is valid that thorough study of its offerings is needed,not just plucking bits and pieces to prove a point.Also, religion needn’t be replaced fully coz the problem is not religion but the pollution of it.

      Your point of having a balanced approach has quite some merit.

      • Satish Chandra

        Even if our acclaimed scientists were to be left in Bastar jungles with strictly no recourse to tax payer funded facilites or modern conveniences and no labour working on their grand ideas,they would have no option but to worship the rain gods and hope snake gods keep away when they’re asleep.

        What a silly claim. No different than the even more sillier claim of no atheists in foxholes

  • I see the Upanishads in a different light.

    I don’t consider the Upanishads to contain infallible truths about the nature of the reality. It’s ludicrous to imagine that, after all we know about science, its history, and its current state, one can divine truths of any kind by meditating closed eyed under banyan trees. However, one thing is clear: the *yearning for truth* that drove these sages to ask the questions posed in the Upanishads is something we all can, and must, relate to. Who indeed is the seer behind the eyes? Who indeed is the hearer between the ears? What is that knowing which all this is known? As a student of science, it’s remarkable that the questions they posed some 2500 years ago resonate strongly with me in the 21st century! I find this common thread of enquiry that runs through the generations comforting. The *desire to know* is fundamentally spiritual in nature: there is a sense of deep fulfilment from knowing where all the phenomena around us spring from.

    The true message (for me) of the Upanishads is the human mind’s *desire to know*. That is the message that we must spread to rejuvinate India.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Arun,

      ** However, one thing is clear: the *yearning for truth* that drove these sages to ask the questions posed in the Upanishads is something we all can, and must, relate to. Who indeed is the seer behind the eyes? Who indeed is the hearer between the ears? What is that knowing which all this is known? As a student of science, it’s remarkable that the questions they posed some 2500 years ago resonate strongly with me in the 21st century!**

      What is so profound about questions like the following?

      * Who indeed is the seer behind the eyes?
      * Who indeed is the hearer between the ears?

      Isn’t there a trivial answer to these ‘profound’ questions? If you do not see what the answer is then ask these following questions and the answer will become clear.

      * Who indeed is the respirator behind the lungs?
      * Who indeed is the digestor behind the stomach?

      The answer to all these questions is the person to whom the eyes, ears, lungs and stomach belong. I find it surprising that you think these sages were **yearning for truth** by asking such questions and that such questions resonate with a student of science in the 21st century?

      • > Isn’t there a trivial answer to these ‘profound’ questions?

        What is your trivial answer to it (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness)? I’d be thrilled to know.

        • Captain Mandrake

          **What is your trivial answer to it (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness)? I’d be thrilled to know.**

          How about “I do not know and you do not know either.”.

          • How about “I do not know and you do not know either.”

            Yet another useless answer.

            In science, I do not know is not good enough. Hypotheses have to be made and models have to be generated. These then have to be tested rigorously. In my previous comment I have provided currently posited models on the nature of consciousness and it comes down to this
            “The problem, however, is that no evidence for consciousness exists in the physical world… The only thing in this universe that attests to the existence of consciousness is consciousness itself; the only clue to subjectivity, as such, is subjectivity. ”

            and this
            “Consciousness is the one thing in this universe that cannot be an illusion.”
            Compare this to
            Prajnanam Brahman
            Brahman is consciousness.
            Brahman satyam, jagat mithya.
            Brahman is real, the world is apparent.
            Note how jagat is called mithya, and not asatyam, meaning that the world itself is real. But it is mithya TO US because we can only perceive certain parts of it and not others (we can’t perceive sounds and radiations of certain frequencies for example).

            So Brahman = Consciousness
            Consciousness = Brahman
            So Consciousness = Real or NOT and illusion.
            Naturalist philosophers like Dan Dennet think that consciousness is an illusion! This is the extent to which materialists will go to make their point. To the contrary, people like Nagel, Harris and Chalmers are deconstructing materialism and its myopic view of the universe.

  • @Advay

    “SCs are grouped under Hindu religion even when they might not consider themselves Hindus. They then have to face atrocities at the hands of the ‘upper caste’ Hindus”

    I appreciate your fascist argument and acknowledgement, but, continues change is inevitable. Though present situation is favorable to religious fascism, but it is not good for the mankind in general. The intellectualism out of learning always proved positive towards rational thinking, and innovative outcome, in this development, religion always played a obstacle role. No one know the future, in the melee of religious fundamentalism any thing may happen like present set up change to upside down, we cannot rule out the possibility, ie. educated population of OBC/SC/ST may unite. A rationalist always insist and should insist for peaceful human society, last 60years proved this in india. It is frightening to note, mostly of educated elite are more concentrate on the religious bigotry argument.

  • Amar Karanth

    @mandrake and others.

    Well, the answers to many problems in 21st century science or even the questions asked by those “sages” are not so trivial. As a student of physics, I have been exposed to wonderful and yet stupendous nature of quantum physics and its philosophy, string theory and the theory of relativity. They are mathematically beautiful theories and most of them (except the string theory) have all valid experimental proofs. However, when it comes to interpretation like “what does it mean? What this theory say abt reality”, all kinds of crazy ideas come through. Have u ever heard of Bell’s inequalitiy and the experiment that proved the non locality of quantum physics? This is all amazing and the scientists are still on the hunt to answer the questions related to observer, conciousness and the observed. Who is indeed the seer behind the eyes? The answer is yet to be known.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Amar Karanth,

      To the question of “Who is the seer behind the eyes?” the answer is still the person to whom the eyes belong. The bizarreness of the quantum world does not have any impact on this answer. And ancients are not talking about this bizzareness of the quantum world when they are talking about this Brahman. They had no clue of this quantum world as they had never encountered this world. Let us not give this stupid idea of Brahman any credibility by force fitting modern scientific concepts into its definition.

      • To the question of “Who is the seer behind the eyes?” the answer is still the person to whom the eyes belong.

        What a useless answer.

        To express the mind-body dualism and hard problem of consciousness in such simplistic terms is disingenuous.
        ‘The person’ is a vague answer. To understand the person, we need to understand the concept of self-awareness. This has been delved into repeatedly. The jury might be out at the moment, but there is a growing number of people who simply no evidence, even from neuroscience that consciousness has a physical, material basis.

        Here is a simply statement of the problem
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTWmTJALe1w
        and here are several different models
        http://www.iep.utm.edu/hard-con/#SH3g
        http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-mystery-of-consciousness/
        http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-mystery-of-consciousness-ii/

        Nobody here is saying scientists were influenced by Advaita (although Schrodinger was impressed by Advaita’s findings), or that the Rishis knew everything about consciousness, but to deny a connection between advaita and findings from contemporary work in consciousness is ignorance at its peak.

        • correction
          there is a growing number of people who *say explicitly or implicitly that there’s* simply no evidence…

        • Captain Mandrake

          **‘The person’ is a vague answer.**

          It is as precise as it gets if the question is still “Who is the seer behind the eyes?”. But if the question is do you have a solution to the hard problem of consciousness then, no I do not and neither do you.

          Vedantis had no clue of what they were talking about. They just made one useless non-falsifiable hypothesis after another. And the evidence for this hypothesis was their hallucinations from meditations. And we have Hindutwa morons today claiming that Brahman that Vedantis refer to is the consciousness and Brahman is the solution to the Observer problem of quantam mechanics. Just call BS on these Vendatis and move on.

  • Amar Karanth

    @Mandrake

    Well, not really. the bizzareness of quantum mechanics is very dominantly standing on the observer. Here the observer is none other than us the humans. In short the human mind or conciousness. I am not saying that we get quantum mechanics in the vedas. However, I am ascertaining the point that, the question of “who is the seer behind the eyes” is not an easy and trivial answer. They may have referred to brahman or any other specific power. However, the question raised by them still is a mystery in scientific sense. Probably the following article would help.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind

    read through the theories proposed by roger penrose and Bohm. I also suggest you to read “the emperor’s new mind” by roger penrose and articles related to copenhagen and wave collapse interpretation of QM. All these indirectly or directly hint to our consciousness playing a vital role in determining the outcome of an event. What I mean to say here is that “the seer behind the eyes” is still a mystery atleast when it comes to our 21st Century physics. (I dont know what ppl in vedas thought abt it but nevertheless that is a very interesting question).

    • Captain Mandrake

      Amar,

      **However, I am ascertaining the point that, the question of “who is the seer behind the eyes” is not an easy and trivial answer. **

      If you keep bringing up the eyes (Who is the seer behind the eyes?) then the answer still is the person to whom the eyes belong. Everyone who disagrees are fooling themselves for they implicitly answer the question as the “person to whom the eyes belong” repeatedly (not walking into a door, avoiding being hit by a car when crossing the road, etc.) as they carry out their everyday lives.

      It baffles me as to why you keep tieing up quantum mechanics and consciousness? I assume you do not bring up quantum mechanics when talking the trajectory of a tennis ball that you throw into the air. Why are you bringing up quantum mechanics when talking about what happens in the brain?

    • Captain Mandrake

      Amar,

      **Well, not really. the bizzareness of quantum mechanics is very dominantly standing on the observer. Here the observer is none other than us the humans.**

      **consciousness playing a vital role in determining the outcome of an event**

      Take the example of double slit experiment. In this experiment photon/electron will behave as a particle when observed and as a wave when not observed. Here observation need not be done by a conscious human. An inanimate particle detector without a human in the loop will suffice to make the electron/photon behave as particles. Seems consciousness is not needed for wave function collapse.

      But the way you talk about consciousness and quantum mechanics in your posts seems to imply that a human being conscious of the double slit experiment being conducted will cause the photon/electrons to behave as a particle and a human not being conscious of the double slit experiment will cause the photon/electron to behave as a wave.

      You are just unnecessarily tieing up quantum mechanics and consciousness. You are also confusing the observation in quantum mechanics with human consciousness.

      And please let us not even talk about the hallucinatory ramblings of vedantis.

  • Amar Karanth

    @mandrake

    I do not agree that brahman is the solution to the QM problems or advaita is a direct explanation for QM. Advaita philosophy is around 1500 years old finding from what they claim to be meditation or self enquiry. this has no place in science as of now. However, ppl have found that, there is a universal way to communication between two fermions (through an unknown boson that travels greater than the speed of light or some other means of communication), that does not allow the violation of exclusion principle among the fermions. This mysterious nature of QM and observer based deductions of the physical events and experiments, have made some of the advaitins and other indian philosphers claim that, their philosophy can solve the mystery of meaning of QM. But, this is just an assertion based on only few facts. If we agree this as true, the question remains: How the early philosophers hit upon this idea with out experiments or mathematical analysis of the problems, but only with their process of meditation or self enquiry? It is hard to accept it as of now. Need to wait and watch the physics itself has to say (in coming years) on the exact interpretation of QM.

  • Amar Karanth

    @mandrake

    Yes, we do not require quantum mechanics for tragectory of tennis ball. But the reason being the mass and size is too big and the distances are too large that the almost all the probability wavelengths cancel out leaving the classical path the most probable one. But brain is a different case. The neurons act at micrometers range and what involves here is electrodynamics of electrons (that is what scientists found out till now). the scope for research is still at large and applying quasi quantum electrodynamics is one of the models that scientists are looking into.

    regarding the consciousness and the particle detector, yes you are right. A particle detector he causes the wave function to collapse. But, is it just because of the particle detector being there or because someone is monitoring the detector? Let me give you an scenario. Imagine we place detectors very near to A and B (A and B are infinitesimal slits). Let me keep a detector at another sheet behind the sheet containing the slits. (Let me call this seconds sheet sheet2). Now, the basic action of the detector is to react to passing by electron (or for some detectors absorb and re-emit the electrons) and this reaction is converted to proper signals that can be monitored by humans. However,even if there are no humans,the detector would still react to nearing electron. This reaction does not require human presence. Having said this, let us not all connect the converter part (reaction to monitoring signal convertor) to the detectors at A and B. So even though there is something at A and B that reacts, we do not come to know abt it. However, our detector at the sheet2 is what we only monitor. In this case, do we get an interferance pattern or a classical probabilistic sum? I have not found the answer yet as I am doing some mathematical deductions on my blackboard. What many of my physics professors said is that we could still get interferrance pattern! I dont agree upon as of now but I am on my research.

    And regarding “Who is the seer behind the eyes”? Well,the ppl at the time of vedas gave very simple answer to it. Charvakas said its the person to whom the eyes belong and there is no other meaning to it. the vedantists said “it must be a consciousness not connected to our materialistic flesh and bone and it must be god”. But there is a different way of approaching at this problem, which I will discuss in my next comment.

  • Amar Karanth

    @mandrake and others.

    Let us look why people for ages, across all countries (including vedantists) are concerned about the so called “consciousness” and its “understanding”.

    The first and for most reason to this is that, we humans think we are the only species on earth who not only learns from the nature around us but also, thinks of questions like “why I need to do this” or “how differently I can finish this job” or even “how is that I am knowing all these and what is this knowing”. The first and second question have its traits to some extent in other animals indirectly. But the last question, is something only humans ask. This is very similar to asking “How is that the particles pre calculate all the possible paths and cancel out the wavelengths,to pick up the most probable path,irrespective of the sudden change that can be brought in the experimental setup”. The culprit here is the question “how”. If we do not worry abt this question, what all the vedantists created, what people created in the name of scientific philosophy are halucinations. There is no need of philosophy if we do not want get the interpretation of all theories of nature. Stephen Hawkings told “What breaths fire into these equations of nature? I dont know”. But if we regard this question as irrelevant or something that has no meaning, then “philosophy” is dead. “Vedanta” is dead.

    Mandrake, I need your help in answering the below questions, which my friends have been asking me for myself being an atheist (yet interested in what is all this consciousness, human mind all about). I do not as of yet, have answers to them.

    Q1: If we are all made of atoms and molecules alone, then when we study chemistry, are the atoms studying themselves?

    Q2: How is that a set of complex carbon compounds and acids, turn out to be micro organisms that had to feed and breathe to keep themselves alive? We dont find any complex molecule or compound having this property, either chemically, which are found in micro organisms.

    Any help in this regard is much appreciated. I cant argue with friends because I am a science student and I can not argue based on beliefs. I can only argue on what science (scientists) are able to answer as of now.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Amar,

      ** Stephen Hawkings told “What breaths fire into these equations of nature? I dont know”. But if we regard this question as irrelevant or something that has no meaning, then “philosophy” is dead. “Vedanta” is dead.**

      Is it possible vedanta can be dead irrespective of whether or not we are interested in answering questions like “What breaths fire into these equations of nature? ” ?

      We can not hold on to every non-falsifiable hypotheses (Reality springs from Brahman, God created everything, etc.) people have come up with just because we have not answered all the questions about nature. And that we should get rid of idiotic ideas like vedanta does not mean that we have stopped investigating nature.

      This is the major problem I have with you.

      I will respond to the rest of your post later.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Amar,

      **Q1: If we are all made of atoms and molecules alone, then when we study chemistry, are the atoms studying themselves?**

      Do you really think this question can be answered in the affirmative? Don’t you think you need a brain to do anything that can be called “studying”? If your brain is damaged into a vegetative state will you be able to do anything that resembles “studying”? The same set of atoms and molecules are still there in that damaged brain but it can not do a damn thing. This should tell you that just atoms and molecules do not “study” anything. You need a healthy brain to perform the function of “studying”.

      This simple analogy. Just because an automobile is made up lots of nuts and bolt it does not mean that the nuts and bolts can perform all the functions of an automobile. For instance you can not get into a nut or a bolt and drive to work. Same thing with the atoms and molecules that make you the brain.

      **Q2: How is that a set of complex carbon compounds and acids, turn out to be micro organisms that had to feed and breathe to keep themselves alive? We dont find any complex molecule or compound having this property, either chemically, which are found in micro organisms.**

      That question really can be boiled down to “How did life arise?” I do not think scientists have found an answer to that question.

      Just because there are unanswered questions like that we can not recede into bullshittery like vedanta, creationism or intelligent design.

      • You need a healthy brain to perform the function of “studying”.

        A ‘healthy’ brain is also made up of atoms and molecules. But your analogy below is not in line with the train of thought.

        Just because an automobile is made up lots of nuts and bolt it does not mean that the nuts and bolts can perform all the functions of an automobile. For instance you can not get into a nut or a bolt and drive to work. Same thing with the atoms and molecules that make you the brain.
        Stating the obvious and giving the wrong analogy. You can’t get into a nut or bolt to drive to work, but it is the nuts and bolts that make up the car.

        But more interestingly, you have just argued in favor of Vedanta’s point. ‘We’ are NOT the atoms and molecules.

        The fact that molecular arrangements or conformations can even give rise to a phenomenon that can study the molecules that generated the said phenomenon is what is fascinating. That is what Vedanta has been pointing to. That sensation of ‘I’ (or awareness) is the Brahman of the Vedanta.

        • Advay,

          Your point:
          “The fact that molecular arrangements or conformations can even give rise to a phenomenon that can study the molecules that generated the said phenomenon is what is fascinating. That is what Vedanta has been pointing to.”

          is incorrect and a misquotation.

          This point of the combination of ‘inanimate’ objects (or atoms/molecules) giving rise to life or activity is not the theory of Vedanta, but that of Lokayata or Charavakas. The sutras of Brihaspati supposedly allude to this theory by providing the analogy of wine/spirits resulting out of an inert mixtures of rice/cereals (Quoting from the Carvaka compendium by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya).

          The sensation or I (or awareness) is not Brahman according to Vedanta. It is the self or ego that is mired in ignorance or avidya and needs to be transcended to reach the state of and/or realization of Brahman which is the ultimate or transcendent state according to Upanishadic dogma.

          You are wrong on both counts, though you made a ‘nice try’ at the usual revisionist spin!!!

          • Ranganath, you should at least acquaint yourself with basic Vedanta before spewing rubbish like this
            The sensation or I (or awareness) is not Brahman according to Vedanta.
            The awareness IS EXACTLY what is Brahman according to vedanta as stated in the Mahavakya (no less) ‘Prajnanam Brahman’.
            Just to refute your nonsensical ‘revisionist’ accusation, here are quotes from Sankara himself –

            http://www.theself.com/adisankara.cfm

            An excerpt
            “The notion of “I am Brahman (awareness)”
            Here Brahman is DIRECTLY translated as awareness. You and your fellow half-wits first do not understand basic Vedanta or even the Mahabharat as so gloriously demonstrated by Mandrake and then cast aspersions on the Upanishads!

          • Ranganath,

            ” 1)The sensation or I (or awareness) is not Brahman according to Vedanta. 2) It is the self or ego that is mired in ignorance or avidya and 3) needs to be transcended to reach the state of and/or realization of Brahman 4) which is the ultimate or transcendent state according to Upanishadic dogma.”

            If this is the summary of Upanishadic message, then it seems to be the same as the message of Buddhism, although Buddha taught using different terms.

            On 1, Buddha says there is actually no self. The idea of self is a conceit generated by the senses. He further goes on to classify all of our experience into five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness) and teaches that nothing among them is really “I” or “mine”.
            On 2, Buddha’s teaching is the same. Avidya is the root cause of Dukkha (2nd noble truth).
            On 3, the teaching is whereas all our normal experience is “conditioned”, it is possible to reach the “Unconditioned” and transcend dukkha (3rd noble truth)
            On 4, Nirvana is such an unconditioned state.

            Buddha’s claim is that by following his eight fold path, he reached the unconditioned state (Nirvana) and further claimed that by following that path, anybody can do the same.

        • Captain Mandrake

          **A ‘healthy’ brain is also made up of atoms and molecules.**

          So what?

          **But your analogy below is not in line with the train of thought.**

          No, the analogy work perfectly.

          **Stating the obvious and giving the wrong analogy. You can’t get into a nut or bolt to drive to work, but it is the nuts and bolts that make up the car.**

          This is how the analogy works. Even before we get to the question “are the atoms studying themselves?” you should first answer the question “Can atoms study?”. The original question is a silly one because the questioner (Amar’s friend) assumes that atoms that make up the brain should perform the same set of functions the brain performs. Now the analogy of automobile and nuts/bolts should be clear. “Can nuts/bolts be driven to work?” is an equivalent question that Amar’s friend might ask because he/she saw an automobile made up of nuts and bolts being driven to work. Is the analogy clear now?

          The answer to both questions should be clear. No, atoms can not do anything that can be called studying. No, nuts and bolts can not do anything that can be called “being driven to work”.

          The analogy was not “studying themselves” part. The analogy was for “atoms studying part”.

          For the life of me I could not see how me pointing out the bullshitery of Amar’s question “Are atoms studying themselves?” is an argument in favor of Vedanta. But then I am not surprised. I never expect to have an honest debate with Hindu/Vedantic apologists. What a sad life you folks must lead to unnecessarily inject Brahman into everything and feel good about your sorry Hindu identity.

          • so ranganath actually got my point and ignorantly assumed it was revisionist.

            then you come along, say the same thing I said in a different way, (that it is the arrangements of atoms and not atoms themselves that have awareness) which shows that you missed my point or chose to ignore it and finally finish with an ill-conceived attempt at guilt by pity. We are actually quite happy with this ‘sad life’ of ours and don’t need the likes of you to tell us how to feel good.

          • Captain Mandrake

            We are not saying the same thing at all. I am demystifying Amar’s question. You on the other hand go off the deep end with vedantic bullshittery of Brahman.

  • here is new research that is the final nail in the coffin for your baseless diatribes about caste and Hinduism. we have been right all along, caste didn’t rigidy until 2000 years ago.

    http://m.timesofindia.com/home/science/Study-reveals-origin-of-Indias-caste-system/articleshow/21754499.cms

    • Hi Advay,

      This study seems to be the same one that Satish linked to. I’m actually confused- why are you both interpreting it differently? Would be happy to hear Satish’s view.

    • Satish Chandra

      A fine example of twisting facts to suit your narrative. I never said caste was birth based from day 1. I only said that it was a system that will end up as birth based because it had absolutely no mechanism to reassign caste. The study actually proves this point. As Brahmanism became more prevalent, the caste system took its logical course – it became birth based. Hinduism was so supportive of birth based caste system by way of not questioning an obviously flawed system and was so morally bankrupt due to its inability to unequivocally condemn it, that caste survived for about 2000 years.

      And here’s a quote from the study via this blog post:

      The shift from widespread mixture to strict endogamy that we document is mirrored in ancient Indian texts.

      So in what way were you right all along? The very study that you are quoting actually says the opposite of what you think.

      • @Ashwin,
        I don’t know where Satish had linked it to and what article it was being linked to. As far as I know, this study was published just three days ago.
        @Satish
        I knew this would ruffle some feathers.
        The shift from widespread mixture to strict endogamy that we document is mirrored in ancient Indian texts.
        Of course it is. Who denied that? My comments earlier clearly point to a society where caste is rarely mentioned (eg. the early Vedic), where professions are not inherited onto a society where caste is brought into the fold (pre-Buddhist) but is not birth-based and there was admixture, onto becoming a society that is caste and birth-based, which we now know was chronologically 2000 years old, AND NOT originally in place.

        @Mandrake
        Should I pity these Hindus or just laugh at them?
        Did you think of that yourself or does your mother ship program you into the same old repetitious slander?

        This is what is ignorant of your comment
        2000 years of Hindu casteist heritage
        It is as much ‘Hindu’ as biriyani, the Taj Mahal, or any other such product of the sub-continent is. This article shows that caste was not a Vedic or Vedantic ideal and it is with this terminology that we should address the topic. Did one section/era of ‘Hindus’ approve of it? Yes. But that does not speak for the religion or its people as a whole.

        • Captain Mandrake

          What the heck was Hinduism doing with Caste system for 2000 years? This 2000 years includes a 800 year period where Islam plays no role in India and a 1500 year period where western colonialists play no role in India. Over these huge chunks of time Hinduism was happily chugging along with caste endogamy with out much outside influence. Yet we are being told by Hindu apologists that Caste system should not be treated as part of the Hindu heritage. What a joke!

          When will these Hindu apologists learn to own up to their shame that is this caste system?

          • “Yet we are being told by Hindu apologists that Caste system should not be treated as part of the Hindu heritage. What a joke!”

            Yes , Hindu apologists are wrong to assert that it is not a Hindu heritage but you too are wrong , if you implicitly meant that it is a Hindu thing solely. It is rather a South Asian heritage (excluding Bhuttanese,Nagas, Manipuris). I hope you know of Ziauddin Barani –the Muslim Manu —a Turk who divided South Asian Muslims into three hierarchies – Ashrafs (Turks, Syeds ,Mughals ,Mirs etc. ) , Ajlafs (rajputs ,Jats ,Gujjars, Khojas ,Memons etc.) & Arzals (Momin Ansaris,Mochis etc.) . All of them putting their burden on Kammis (Dalit castes).

            Often educated Muslim apologists (moderate ppl) like the Hindu ones try hard to dodge it by portraying Islam as egalitarian in contrast to Hinduism or Hindu religions , whch is wrong.

      • @Mandrake,
        In the particular understanding of what possesses consciousness, you repeated the same thing I said. But as a whole, you don’t even have an interpretation as to what the matter-consciousness link is, except for re-assigning it to matter despite the lack of proper evidence of the same. Vedanta provides an explanation, you provide poppycock.

        • Captain Mandrake

          **Vedanta provides an explanation, you provide poppycock.**

          Vedanta is the one providing poppycock much like the intelligent design and creationist bullshit.

          You first need to learn something about making falsifiable claims. But as a dyed in the wool Hindu you probably will never understand that. You will continue to suffer from science envy and inject Brahman bullshittery everywhere.

        • Captain Mandrake

          ** But as a whole, you don’t even have an interpretation as to what the matter-consciousness link is, except for re-assigning it to matter despite the lack of proper evidence of the same.**

          You should also learn not to shift the burden of proof. You are the one making a claim that Brahman provides an answer to hard problem of consciousness. The burden of proof lies with you. But before that you should make a falsifiable claim with this Brahman of yours.

          Ofcourse being a Hindu you probably do not understand falsifiable claims or burden of proof.

          • Ofcourse being a Hindu you probably do not understand falsifiable claims or burden of proof.
            And being a closed-minded bigot, you didn’t understand anything about Brahman otherwise you wouldn’t be making these lousy requests.

            Being a naturalist, you can’t just shift the burden of proof onto someone else if YOUR paradigm of reality is unable to answer a paradox that challenges YOUR worldview. You seem to be the one who is absolutely ignorant about what burden of proof is about. The other thing is that in science, there is no such thing as ‘proof’. You only disprove models in science. Go read a book and educate yourself.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Advay,

            **Being a naturalist, you can’t just shift the burden of proof onto someone else if YOUR paradigm of reality is unable to answer a paradox that challenges YOUR worldview.**

            Stop waffling and try to be honest for a change. You are the one making a claim that Brahman can solve the hard problem of consciousness. The burden of proof is with you.

            This is how you go about proving it.

            Make a falsifiable claim. Then try to falsify it and show the verifiable evidence to the world that shows that you have failed to falsify the claim.

            If you are the one making the claim then it is your responsibility to go through these steps and provide us with evidence that is verifiable.

            Here are some basics (http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2007/01/31/basic-concepts-falsifiable/ ) if you care to learn.

            Now can you please present us with the falsifiable claim about this Brahman and the verifiable evidence that fails to falsify the claim.

          • I don’t have to play by your rules, and here’s why. ‘ I see red’ is just as unfalsifiable as ‘ Brahman is awareness and so I am brahman’ . read up about qualia, educate yourself like I told you to and then we can have a meaningful discussion.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Those are not my rules. Those are the standards that has to met as per the scientific method. If someone claims that they have solution for the hard problem of consciousness they have to meet those same standards. Those rules can not be relaxed just so religious freaks can sneak in their stupid ideas like brahman. And just because there are unanswered questions in science does not make bullshitery like brahman valid answers to those questions by default.

            You brahman proponents are no different from intelligent design and creationist proponents. All you religious freaks suffer from science envy. Continue to do so and we naturalists will have someone to make fun off.

      • I only said that it was a system that will end up as birth based because it had absolutely no mechanism to reassign caste.
        It is convenient to say that once we know how history has taken its course. The article itself suggests admixture of castes, so that had nothing to do with caste becoming birth-based. All we can infer is that there was likely a political revolution or power struggle that caused the establishment of caste based on birth. This had no sanction from shruti and even very early smriti.

        • Satish Chandra

          Advay, 2000 years is a long time to close your mind and chant the mantra “caste is not birth based. We don’t know what course history has taken”. Even to this day, I don’t see Hindu apologists like you admit that the ideas of varnadharma, gunas and karma have zero utility. So please, stop pretending like Hinduism isn’t responsible for caste.

          • I don’t see Hindu apologists like you admit that the ideas of varnadharma, gunas and karma have zero utility.
            Just as atheism has zero utility. There is utility for those who want to see utility in them. We are spiritual humanists foremost; I had mentioned that earlier.

          • Satish Chandra

            Thanks for proving my point. When bad ideas are found in atheism, they tend to get chucked out (Ex: several decades ago, a lot of atheists swore by communism. Now it isn’t on the map of mainstream atheism). People do not to make tenuous justifications like you do.

            So even with 2000 years of hindsight you can’t let go of nonsensical ideas and you expect people to believe that nobody made lousy justifications based on those nonsensical ideas for 2000 years? That scientific study you so proudly linked to provides ample evidence that Hinduism is pretty useless when it comes to chucking out bad ideas. Remember that ideas shape a society no matter how much you want deny that and cherry pick which ideas belong to Hinduism.

          • Captain Mandrake

            Sathish,

            ** Ex: several decades ago, a lot of atheists swore by communism. **

            Even back in those days it was the other way around. Communists swore by atheism. Athiests did not swear by Communism. Bertrand Russell was a big critic of communism ( http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/opiate/why.html ) in those old days when being a commie was cool in college campuses.

            But, I get your point that atheists do tend to let go off their bad ideas more easily.

          • we have chucked it out and you keep attributing it to our. lame and pathetic.

          • Satish Chandra

            I asked you “I don’t see Hindu apologists like you admit that the ideas of varnadharma, gunas and karma have zero utility. ” And in response you said they do have utility by way of using a facetious analogy. Have you taken up outright lying now?

          • correction to *us

        • Advay,

          You are trying this smokescreen of Shruti/Smriti not sanctioning caste which will not work since Sastras clearly mention and sanction the practice of Caste discrimination invoking the authority of Shrutis (Both Vedas and Upanishads in the case of Manava Dharmasastras). Grihya Sutras also invoke/imply the authority of the Shrutis for their canons.

          Clear internal evidence within the Bhagavad Gita of endorsing casteism belies the claim that Smritis do not sanction or endorse casteism. And BG falls in the category of Shruti/Smriti.

    • Captain Mandrake

      Amazing to see Hindus being happy about a study showing 2000 years of Hindu casteist heritage.

      Should I pity these Hindus or just laugh at them?

      • The other thing
        Amazing to see Hindus being happy .
        Nobody is happy about casteism. Every Hindu, at least Vedantin, that I know of would be happy if there never was casteism.

        The article was cited to point out that Vedic culture was not casteist from the outset.

        • Please define and frame the concept of Vedic culture and how it is different from Hindu culture of the middle ages.

          If Purusha Sukta is containing clear mention of castes followed by references to Sudras in Yajurveda, how can it be claimed that Vedic culture was not casteist.

          Hedging by saying that it was not casteist from the outset is a very lame and feeble excuse and apology. We can see thru all these cheap tricks of argument.

          • When I say casteist, I mean caste discriminatory based on birth. A few instances scattered across hundreds of thousands of verses barely qualifies as casteist, especially when we don’t even know what society was like during the early Vedic period.

          • Satish Chandra

            It’s more like several instances, but forget that. I bet there isn’t a single verse which says “Varna dharma is an abysmal failure on grounds of providing equal rights. Karma too is a nonsensical idea given that human lives are influenced by so many factors many of which aren’t even caused by humans and that’s without considering the laughable notion of karma operating over multiple lives. And not to speak of gunas – a crude and useless way to asses human minds”.

          • Ranganath,

            The Purusha Sukta is a very late addition to the Vedic corpus. Books 1 and 10 of the Rig VEda came about as late as c. 800 B.C.E and the Vedic Period is usually defined to be 1500 B.C.E. – 500 B.C.E. So I would believe Advay’s claim that “Vedic culture” is not casteist.

            However, the flipside is that Vedic culture was not Hindu culture by a long-shot. Or, at least as Michael Witzel says– it is as much Hindu as the old Israelite religion was Jewish. That is to say not much. Hindu scriptures came later, and you can see much casteism in them.

          • Raj Gadasalli. MBA. PhD

            I am glad to read such intellectual discussions on Vedic and upanishadic concepts and questioning of the long held religious views. But in some of the discussions I see hints of anti Hindu and pro- Abrahamic religious bias. But can we deny the fact that it is only in Hinduism that such critical appraisals are possible. Hinduism encompasses even the Charuvakas but as Nastika only and not as some one to be hated.

            I see nothing wrong in the caste system based on Guna Karma Vibhagashah and I abhor cast conflicts. No where do the scriptures say that one caste is superior to the other. As I Brahmin, I do not claim superiority over other castes or other human beings. Caste conflicts are created by dirty politics. You may not want to call it caste but Catholic- Protestant divide, Sunni- Shia divide, Orthodox and Non- orthodox Jews are inherent in Abrahamic religions and cause heavy blood shed in these societies.

            Assuming that Vishnu is the supreme principle in Hinduism and Brahma is one of his manifestations, Vishnu says that
            ” Na May Viduhu Suraganaah Prabhavam Na Maharshayah and so on, ultimately saying that even Brahma is unable to comprehend Vishnu. So nothing is cut and dry in this ever changing universe. Christianity believes basically in the Creation theory and Evolution is questioned vehemently.

            Pardon my perceived digression.

            In my books I have written that the universe is a combination of Creation and evolution and was a seam less process like the causing of ripples in a lake at the throw of a bubble. Writing about rebirth in my latest book PravaasAtma I have come up with a hypothesis that when a person dies it is his Brain Wave Packet (BWP) that roams the earth and enters a new born and adds non-genetic information into it. And this is my Pretaatma which transcends religious beliefs.

            But only in Hinduism there is the Nethi principle thus negating dogmatic approach but encouraging extensive and intensive debate. This is not found in Abrahamic religions.

            It is in this context, I welcome the views expressed by all those participating in this blog, especially Ranganath. R

          • Captain Mandrake

            Mr. MBA PHD,

            **But in some of the discussions I see hints of anti Hindu and pro- Abrahamic religious bias. **

            That is probably because you are a Hindu apologist…

            **I see nothing wrong in the caste system based on Guna Karma Vibhagashah and I abhor cast conflicts. **

            and a caste apologist…

            **In my books I have written that the universe is a combination of Creation and evolution and was a seam less process like the causing of ripples in a lake at the throw of a bubble. Writing about rebirth in my latest book PravaasAtma I have come up with a hypothesis that when a person dies it is his Brain Wave Packet (BWP) that roams the earth and enters a new born and adds non-genetic information into it. And this is my Pretaatma which transcends religious beliefs.**

            and a complete ignoramus.

    • Well, the study seems to establish that up until the end of Mauryan rule, there was no caste endogamy. So far so good.

      But most Hindu texts are post-Maurya anyway.

    • I am really puzzled as to what kind of nail this study drives into whose coffin. The nail if any is being drilled into the coffin of Hindu nationalist jingoism.

      This article on the link does not explicitly deny the existence of caste system in this subcontinent even 4000 years ago.

      The stratification of caste system by the time of 2000 years ago in fact appears to vindicate the hypothesis of the critics of casteism who hold Vedic Brahiminic religion as the architect and progenitor of this menace.

      That article also mentions the notorious Manusmriti as one of the enablers of the prohibition of inter-marriage and hence the onset of endogamy which continues even to this day.

      If the Hindu nationalists are not willing to disown the Vedas(Purusha Sukta), Upanishads and Sastras as the foundational texts of Hinduism, how can Hinduism escape blame and condemnation for the institutionalization of casteism?.

      Show me enough Hindus that claim and accept that Puranas and the grafts from Buddhism and Jainism is the real basis of the genesis of Hinduism and rejects any association with the Vedas, Upanishads and Sastras (it is a different matter that this will land Hinduism in a different deeper hole) and we can have a different debate.

    • I am failing to understand how the aforementioned study detestifies the caste system by birth.
      the primary law book,manusmriti has sanctioned the marriage of lower caste women and upper caste men…so obviously population mixture wud be there…but the opposite is condemned even in gita…1.40-1.43/44…

      so whats the deal with it anyway…???

  • Regarding a point of discussion in Ranganath June 20,2013 article: //They (Religions) are violent by nature, inconsistent with each other, and absurd in their very core// My take: Every religion that has a concept of Hell is inherently violent as it provides built in torture and violence against human beings. To start with, this includes Juadaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and even Jainism and Sikhism. Jainism despite it’s strongest claims of non violence, particularly looks hilarious as it’s Hell(s) condemns one to be continuously tortured for a year which is equal to a Hundred Thousand years on earth.

  • Sharda Debi from the Netherlands

    The Hindu religion originated in India thousands of years ago. To people raised in other faiths, Hinduism may seem very complex, but the core beliefs of Hinduism are actually quite simple to understand. For example, Hindus believe there is only one Supreme Being, Brahman; they pursue knowledge of Truth and Reality; they strive for moral order and right action; and they promote tolerance. Many Westerners also know that Hindus worship a variety of gods and goddesses who personify aspects of Brahman; take pilgrimages to holy sites; celebrate festivals throughout the year; and believe that time is cyclical. These aspects of the religion introduce some of the complexities that are fascinating to study.

    Sharda Debi from the Netherlands

    • Captain Mandrake

      What an out of context comment!

      ** they promote tolerance.**

      Tolerance towards the Muslims that they kill or tolerance towards the Dalits that they humiliate?

  • Ranganath R and Satish Chandra…

    You have researched about upanishads/vedic scriptures more than most Sanatana Dharma Followers. May your knowledge be transformed into positive one…

    God Bless you….You are fighting because you want to prove your theory correct. You are hollow inside and looking for appreciation from outside. Trying to understand infinite with an extremely limited resources. Learn vedas from a qualified guru. Vedas are called Shrutis for a valid reason. Understanding the spirit of Vedas is not a cake walk. You need to be blessed. Understand the different forms of worship mentioned in Bhagavad Gita. Different levels of worship are mentioned and one can chose the worship that suits him. Forget hate and love everyone is what all religions teach. That is what Vedas teach And Jesus teaches as well.

    May god bless you…

    • Satish Chandra

      Forget hate and love everyone is what all religions teach.

      And that’s precisely why no Hindu guru, in their infinite wisdom, never ever endorsed the caste system, right? /sarcasm.

      Your vacuous preaching will have more effect if you can show us a guru who at the minimum is prepared to renounce nonsensical ideas like gunas and karma which gave moral sanction to the abominable caste system. All the chest puffing about how understanding the infinite and being full inside amount to absolutely nothing when all it is capable of is going along with the status quo and never having the ethical spine to reject bad ideas.

      • Tapah is what even Brahma had to do when he was first created. Gurus are not obtained by someone’s recommendation. You get when you are ripe. You have read upanishads but you are unqualified. So, you would not get the knowledge. You are not a mumukshu which is a primary requirement for learning veda/upanishad. Just like the great bow Gandivam is only visible to Arjuna and to the rest, it appears like black slithering snakes, so too would vedas appear wrong to a un qualified person. And your writings reflect rajo guna. So that itself would destroy you. God!! for give these for they do not know what they are doing. If not karma, how can you explain why is one born in a rich house and other in poor hut. Why do you have access to internet while many even do not have a fan to sleep under.

        • Well, aren’t you at your pretentious, condescending best? I suppose you consider yourself as a sattvic. That itself is a pretty good reason why such classifications are bereft of any usefulness. All can they do is system justification and then coyly ask “why is one born in a rich house and other in poor hut“.

        • Captain Mandrake

          ** how can you explain why is one born in a rich house and other in poor hut.**

          Because rich people chose to have kids and poor people also chose to have kids.

          How the heck does karma get into the mix exactly?

        • How terrible! Are you actually saying that those born poor deserve it?! This is exactly why karma is a terrible idea.

        • Indeed that comment on poverty sounded right out of this Dilbert cartoon. For the smug How can you explain that? thrown at skeptics by those who believe karma explains everything good,bad and ugly in society, here is some reading offering a simpler explanation for the stories people make up about how their rewards and punishments come from ‘elsewhere’.

    • Captain Mandrake

      ** God Bless you**

      Is this when one says “F U to you too”?

  • Vaidic Brahmins created an Avatar of Vishnu to cement “Chatur Varna” and lay a firm foundation for their main profesion–Rituals. Now they have created one more Avatar Narendra Modi to grab power. Urban youth is completely dis-oriented by his pompous -falsehood. Instead of hair-splitting arguments all of you should save the country from a cancer of RSS ad VHP>

  • In Bhagavad Gita humanbeings are said to be divided into 4 castes based on theiir innate nature[Guna karma vibhagasa], not according to birth.According to this view kshatriyas are the upholders of moralcode in the society and if they have to use force to achieve that objective they were permitted to do so and this you derrogated as caste bias.Next typically courage, strength and manliness are considered as masculine qualities religionwise or otherwise .But this doesnt mean that females cant possess these qualities these qualities are great for any human being whether male or female.But any noted historic will state that men has more rebellious and aggressive nature than women eventhough there are notable exceptions.Physically also men are stronger than women which is an accepted fact AND you described krishnas exhortation to arjuna to be manly to be a sexist bias.Arjuna was a man do you preferred if Krishna exhorted arjuna to become a woman?.Then speaking about the sutras og Gita you described as metaphysical and fatalistic supernatural.If you truly want to understand the meaning of these scriptures you have to practise meditation.Deeper religious truths of any religion cannot be understood by mere logical argumentation.All great saints in this world whether it be Buddha, Vardhaman Mahavira,Jesus Christ,Paramahansa Yogananda or PROPHET Muhammad practised transcendental meditation and attained the true meaning of god and existence.You questions the theory of rebirth and challenges of its evidence basis well if you read the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda you will definitely be dazzled by the true genuine spiritual experiences descibed in that book.I also am asking you to read Gospel of Sriramakrishna and works of Swami Vivekananda.Then now about the physical appearence of hindu gods and goddesses they carry a symbolic significance thats it.For example snakes are worshipped in hindu religion because they symbolises the kundalini energy lying in every humanbeing in a dorman fashion which ifd awakened by meditation will lead to enlightenment.Lord ganapathy is depicted asd having an elephant head because he in hindu mythology is a god obestowing wisdom and elephant is usually considered as a wise and intelligent animal.Now about exhortation of violence in Gita when a society is ruled by kings evil elements of a society should be properly disposed of by use of sword

    • But, the warrior character were kicked up for many century together and brought to ahimsa level by the invaders(no other go!), the intelligent by caste were the first among the compromiser and made as best servants(what?) and other two category…. Caught in the chaos and were made helpless. The fifth category, ie Panchamas or Dalits were mute spectator, but became gape coats all through this time. All the theory of justification or apologetic can be sold at innocents nomadic market… but it is difficult in this equalant time of invention of multi universe theory and its infinite number of celestial integration. The transcendental meditation or rationality of high discipline of those great humans helped to reach the many masses and at the same time, the rebirth theory, if it is true, does not stopped any one mass terror and killing happening through the history. It’s all opportunistic; we can spin any raw theory into any useful wears.
      A great human, who tried to prove all the theory which evolves around is waste of this generation, was mysteriously eliminated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramalinga_Swamigal

  • @ Hari, there is another view that Bhagvad Gita is a later day addition to Mahabharata to awaken the local Kings who were fighting with each other over trivial matters when the European Colonizers set out to conquer the world armed with “Papal Bull” and the Muslims set out to conquer the world with their “Sword”. Present day India is the only place where the adherents of two marauding Religions failed to wipe out the native culture and civilization. They had enormous success in the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, America, Australia and major parts of Africa.

    • Captain Mandrake

      **Present day India is the only place where the adherents of two marauding Religions failed to wipe out the native culture and civilization. *

      Perhaps they were not as marauding as you make them out to be.

  • @ pannaichan, pl read “Asia and Western Dominance” by Sardar K.M.Panikkar to know how the invaders got a foot hold in the Indian sub-continent. This book is freely available from the web.

  • @ Captain Mandrake, >>>>Perhaps they were not as marauding as you make them out to be>>>> how many native Kafirs are still left in the Arabian Peninsula? What is the condition of a few thousand Coptic Christians still left in Iraq and Egypt? Pl read this report: “Under threat, Syria’s Christians sign accord with Islamists http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/.premium-1.577608

    What happened to the original inhabitants of America and Australia? Have you heard of the “Missing Generations” of Australia?

    Pl read “The Necessity of Atheism” by Dr.D.M.Brooks, freely available from “Project Gutenberg”. Dr. Brooks has graphically described the atrocities committed in the name of Religions the world over.

    • Captain Mandrake

      **European Colonizers set out to conquer the world armed with “Papal Bull” and the Muslims set out to conquer the world with their “Sword”. Present day India is the only place where the adherents of two marauding Religions failed to wipe out the native culture and civilization. **

      If these marauding Religions were so bad why the heck did they not wipe out the native culture and civilization in India? Do the Hindutwadi fascists like you ever wonder about when you complain about the role of Islam and Christianity in India?

  • @ Captain Mandrake, all Indians were not cowards to convert at the point of sword or at the pain of rape nor did they sell their souls for a few Kgs of rice and cheap American Milk powder!! Is that too complicated for you to understand?

    • This is disgusting in two way, one to blame the converted, other is to appreciate the unconverted- factually who tolerated those type of atrocity…? Why cannot we be a rational?

    • Mr.Avinash you are absolutely right and i remember that, swami vivekanandha speech in Chicago- ‘the story of frog who living in a small well’.the same way the well people like mandrake cannot understand or accept the real truth and i would like to tell that a person who is acting like sleeping we cannot make awake-up.the same way who the person is really following the wrong belief and finally realizing that ‘my belief wrong’ the person feel guilty to accept reality. this is normal psychology of human being.but we are proud that we have a great conscious and awareness about our culture and heritage. and our culture educated us to collect all good thoughts and knowledge from around the world. the same ways our culture educated us to pray that “loga samastha sugino bhavanthu”! means all people in world become healthy and happy, notonly indiansor i alone”.

    • @ Avinash ” all Indians were not cowards to convert at the point of sword or at the pain of rape nor did they sell their souls for a few Kgs of rice and cheap American ”

      Blaming that Conversions of local communities to Islam was at the point of sword is as absurd as blaming the converions on caste. Rather it involved complex phenomenon. Early conversions (pre-12th century) , like those in Punjab & Sindh , involved “the policy of sword” by foreigners like -Ghaznavids & Arabs , something which their chroniclers boasted about. But later on , the “sword policy” was adopted by Indian Turks etc. ,only intermittently say against a dissident local (i.e. Hindu) ruler or as a punishment to the peasantry for protesting taxes etc , for eg. Tipu Sultans’ forceful conversions of Nairs & Ezhavas at Coorg. But bulk of the conversions ,were due to Sufi evangelists — who often evnagelised ruling class Rajputs of Punjab & Kashmir (like Janjuas , Bhattis & Maliks etc.) & due to the policy of social exclusion as practiced against non-convertee natives, for eg.the policy of social exclusion was adopted by Shah-i-Hamadan , the much-revered Iranian Sufi founder of Kashmiri Islam, against those Kashmiri Hindus who did not convert during Shah-Mir’s rule so as to encourage their conversion ; this was preceded by the ruthless policies of Butshikan. This is similar to what Brahmins also did to Buddhist & Jains esp. in Kerala.

      So except the usage of Ghazis , all the other methods used by these Muslim evangelists were the same as used by Brahmin evangelists —- evangelise the ruling class or significant number of villagers , sabotage the folk-traditions of the local populace & then when the majority as well as the ruling class converts , use “social exclusion” as a weapon to pressurise the left-overs.
      So its time , we study the past as just a phenomenon, rather than remain obsessed with it.

  • >>>>Do the Hindutwadi fascists like you ever wonder about when you complain about the role of Islam and Christianity in India?>>>> pl do enlighten us why they came to a “god forsaken” country like India. Were they here to do charity or to civilize the uncultured Pagans/Heathens/Kafirs?

  • on this note is there a ”skeptics annotated” for any of the dharmic religions available as there is of the abrahamic ones online?

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