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Dear Friends

Some of you wanted information on how to procure copy of my book. Those living abroad can email Biblia Impex Pvt Ltd (Sitaram Goel – Voice of India family) at


In India, it is available in all stores. General information with ISBN no. is below:-

Warm regards

Sandhya Jain

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Adi Deo Arya Devata. A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface

Sandhya Jain

Rupa 2004, Price Rs. 495/-

ISBN 81-291-05522-5


The British claimed that India’s Adivasi population lay beyond the pale of mainstream Hindu society. Yet even a cursory mapping of the spiritual-cultural landscape reveals a deep symbiotic relationship between tribals and non-tribals, which is amply reflected in the ancient literature and in inscriptions. Indeed, it was also noted by colonial anthropologists and ethnographers (mainly British officials), who deliberately delinked tribals from Hindu society through imposition of racial categories and Census classifications.

Tribals have made an enormous contribution to India’s civilization; all major gods of the Indic tradition have tribal links. Shiva was worshipped by forest-dwelling communities in large parts of the country, as were Vishnu’s incarnations as Varaha (boar) and Narasimha (lion). Vishnu in fact evolved out of several distinct deities, notably Vasudeva, supreme lord of the Vrishni/Satvata tribe; Krishna of the Yadava clan; Gopala of the Abhira tribe; and Narayana of the Hindukush mountains. Similarly, Gautama Buddha hailed from the Sakya tribe; Vardhaman Mahavira was a scion of the Jnatrikas.

There is to this day a close relationship between the Kurumba, Lambadi, Yenadi, Yerukula and Chenchu tribes and Shri Venkateshwar of Tirupathi. Lord Ayyappam in Kerala and Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu also appear to have tribal links. All these gods and temples, as also that of Jagannath in Puri, enjoy preeminent status in the classical Hindu pantheon.

Even caste, long regarded as the keynote of Hindu society, possibly originated in the tribal clan or gotra. The term ‘jat’ or ‘jati’ is used equally for caste and tribe in most Indian languages and tribal dialects. Moreover, the defining characteristics of tribes apply equally to castes, such as claims of descent from a common ancestor, common language, endogamy and clan exogamy, caste/tribal councils, certain taboos in matters of diet and marriage alliances, presence of hierarchy within groups, and limited self-sufficiency.

Mahatma Gandhi insisted that tribals are an inalienable part of Hindu society. This work suggests that tribal society constitutes the keynote and the bedrock of Hindu civilization. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
book rewview in The Telegraph, 28 Jan., 2005


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->DOWN IN THE DUMPS 

Edited by Dipankar Gupta, Sage, Rs 480

<b>Caste, like religion, is one of the most contentious issues in the politics of post-independence India.</b> There is a huge corpus of polemical writings on caste as the basis of community formation. But in the last two decades or so, increasing urbanization and radical changes in the rural economy have complicated the issue. <b>The traditional basis for caste — occupation — has steadily given way to new identities based on economic and political empowerment.</b>

This book is the 12th in the “Contributions to Indian Sociology” series. <b>The edition makes two important points about caste identities. First, it says that caste identities are “discrete” and “non-encompassing”, repudiating Dumont’s theory of homo hierarchus which argued for a commonly accepted “pure” Brahminical caste-order. Second, the eight articles of the book painstakingly examine how different subaltern castes valourize their identities through origin-tales, by re-inventing their histories, and how the question of caste is played out in modern Indian politics. </b>

<b>Thus the book challenges the absolutist and homogenizing trend of the oriental or colonial approaches to Indian caste history.</b> It also highlights culture-specific modes of maintaining hierarchy within caste groups, based on belief-systems, histories and also economic conditions.

In his introduction, Dipankar Gupta defines the focus of the book. The first essay is by Prem Chowdhury, who unravels caste hostilities between two “gots” (the Dagars and the Gehlots) in a Haryana village, which jeopardizes a marriage, as also the aggressive role of caste and khap panchayats. This is a case-study of internal (not imposed) caste-hierarchy triggered mostly by jealousy.

John E. Cort’s “Jains, Caste and Hierarchy in north Gujarat” shows that the division of Vanya castes is based on “economic success and urban residence” and not on orthodox Brahminic prescription. Surinder S. Jodhka’s essay brings to the fore the Dalit politics, vis-à-vis Sikhism, in Punjab today, borne out by the conflict between the Ad-Dharmis and Jats in Talhan village. <b>Here again, the emphasis is on the socio-political motivation of the assertion of identity (and not on the scriptural ideology of the Granth Sahib).</b>
Badri Narayan’s article is a study of how the Pasis of Uttar Pradesh have invented their caste-history by glorifying their nationalist caste-icon, Uda Devi. Narayan shows how this is the Pasis’ attempt to integrate themselves with the history of the freedom movement. At the same time, it is also a form of expressing resentment over the state’s indifference to their cause. The way the Samajwadi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party have appropriated the Uda Devi legend indicates how much importance they accord to the Dalits.



Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulapati Munshi Marg, Mumbai-400007. Rs. 595.

THE BOOK offers a palliative to the western scholars' criticism that
the Hindu civilisation is a wounded one. He has made strenuous efforts
to establish the historical, sociological and Indological merits of
this civilisation in a vivid and lucid manner.

He has taken adequate care to present the knowledge of the past in a
scholarly fashion with a few objectives in mind like instructing the
youth, survival of Hinduism in India, organisation and methods
suitable for Hinduism.

This work is a systematic presentation covering several fields like
religion, spirituality, philosophy, history, mythology and literature.
The explanations and elucidations are exemplary. The encyclopaedic
technique with illustrations shows the author's erudition and
deep-rooted commitment to Hinduism.

In some places he develops his arguments concepts-wise and in others
he explains the Hindu doctrines as envisaged by thinkers and seers. In
some other places he resorts to the hermeneutic method of interpreting
the holy scriptures of the Hindu faith.

While analysing the philosophical schools of Hinduism, the author has
taken care to give the doctrinal expositions. Similarly, more than 100
pages are devoted to the origin, development, impact and the present
condition of caste system in India. A careful study of this portion
will clear all doubts from the minds of the people.

Hinduism is not viewed in this book as a bundle of creeds, doctrines
and rituals, but as a huge reservoir of the age-old civilisation and
culture, which would perpetuate the well-augmented philosophy of
religion in the 21st Century.

The book can be equated to the genre of Radhakrishnan's Hindu view of
Life but still it contains more than what Radhakrishnan has not
touched upon. It is really a treatise on the Hindu view as well as the
way of life.

Book review in Pioneer about Nepal.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Vignettes From the Himalayas

Utpal K Banerjee


Nestling in the Himalayas amidst picturesque environment, Nepal has held a fractured society in recent times. The multiparty political system, quite effete at the best of times, has never been a total success. The Maoist uprising over half a decade has spread its dragnet on the bulk of Nepal's districts, creating road blockades, affecting trade, business and outside capital flow, and bringing school education to a standstill.

The current 'palace coup' - ostensibly to counter insurgency in an all-out manner - has pulled the rug from under democracy's feet, attracting widespread, international ire. "No other people on earth...has produced such intricate beauty in as small a space as the Valley of Kathmandu...As a human achievement, it ranks with the creations of Persia and Italy," as an eminent professor of Columbia University put it in the beginning of the 21st century, may sound near sacrilegious today.

Yet, as the beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated tome from Marg Publications shows, the land has man-made treasures that are second to none, giving the country a unique cultural heritage that goes back several centuries. For the editor, it seems a particularly cherished labour of love, as it links up with the doctoral research in his alma mater half a century ago. As has been made out, the dozen or so articles in the book throw new light on concepts of space and time in the Tantric tradition, sculptural arts and paintings, both extant murals and recent portable findings.

Of particular interest are the newly discovered works in caves and temples in western Nepal that are remarkable testimony to the Newar artists' mastery in the technique of wall-paintings in the 15th century and even earlier. Of special interest are the detailed analyses of individual painting masterpieces and critique of the less-known Buddhist murals of the mysterious kingdom of Mustang and the sequestered region of Dolpo.

In the annals of Indo-Nepal arts, the boundaries of the sacred and the secular often get blurred in the cultural milieu and nowhere is it more pronounced than in the Tantric domain. The Vedic rituals, such as, Agni Chayana (fire-setting), was perhaps a precursor to Tantric Mandalas that served to mediate between the mundane world and the cosmic world of the deities.

According to Tantras, the deity and the practitioner are identical, and Mandala portrays the self where the divine body is identical to the Yogin's. The world as Mandala is the expression of the cosmic power residing in Shiva, assuming two forms: deity Mandala (giving human form to the deity) and the ritual Mandala (with triangles, squares, circles and differently-petalled lotuses). Shiva manifests in time as Mahakala, while his consort Shakti emanates in space as Bhuvaneshwari. Tantric art portrays beauty as divine, depicting the forms of Guhyakali (deity of esoteric time) and Kamakalakali (desire incarnate).

Krishna as Kaliyadamana (taming the Naga Kaliya) in the royal Hanuman Dhoka palace in Kathmandu is a famous seventh century sculpture highlighted in the book, in addition to the mammoth Vishnu Sheshashayin (reclining on the Naga Shesha) statute on a huge water-bed of the city. <b>While Nagas of Kathmandu valley have been adequately dealt with, with special reference to the Medieval Lichchavi period, there is a surprising omission of the widely held scholarly conjecture that the iconic Naga - travelling through Nepal and Sinkiang valley - was eventually transmuted into the fearsome, fire-emitting dragon, part of the folklore of entire East Asia. </b>

Similarly, the Genies of Kathmandu, whose legends abound in the valley, are endearingly recapitulated through the collections of sculptures, paintings and manuscripts especially in the Buddhist monasteries, there is no mention of the far more tangible presence of the Samanic tradition that is held strongly all over the rural Nepal and has been manifest in many literary and artistic forms.

On the whole, in an exceptionally well-produced series of books focusing on the regional arts of South Asia, Marg perhaps needs some direction to be given to the coverage of the total cultural heritage of the lands and their people. The vibrant performing traditions of Nepal, for instance, resonate in the valley and give life-sustenance to the population of Nepal in the form of ritual music, Newar musical instruments and the art of dancing, that span both west and east Nepal.

The book under review covers Ragamala paintings and mention, en passant, Natya Shastra, Sangeet Ratnakar and Brihaddeshi, but does not dwell upon their impact on Nepal's music and dance heritage, nor the vital performing arts linkage between Nepal, on one hand and India and Bengal, on the other. Do these art forms not contribute to Nepal's enduring 'Images' and 'Insights'?


I always wondered about the origins of the Chinese dragon and this is the first time I see a ref to the Sesha Naag as the precursor to the Chinese dragon. In the West teh dragon is a fiery symbol of tyranny. In China it is a benign symbol that protects the people.

A link: Indian Nagas and Draconic prototypes
Apastamba Srauta Sutra

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Ritual text of the Vedic tradition

APASTAMBA SRAUTA SUTRA — Text in Sanskrit with English Translation and Notes, Volumes I & II: G. U. Thite; New Bharatiya Book Corporation, Shop No. 18, II Floor, 5574-A, Kashiram Market, Durga Complex, New Chandrawal, Kamla Nagar, Delhi-110007. Rs. 2500 (for the set).

THE VEDAS are made known by means of the auxiliaries called Vedangas, which are six in number. Of these, Kalpa is one. The Srauta sutras belong to the Kalpa. They deal with rituals called Srauta, which only an Ahitagni (one who has established the three sacred fires) can perform. The Garhapatya, Ahavaniya and the Dakshina are the three fires. The Srauta rituals are broadly classified again as "Istis" and "Somayajnas."

These again have further sub-divisions. Each of the four Vedas has its own recensions (sakhas). <b>There are Srauta sutras attached to all these Vedic branches. Several Vedic branches are now lost. The Srauta sutra of Apastamba belongs to the Taittiriya branch of the Krishna Yajurveda.</b> Besides Apastamba, Bharadvaja and Satyashadha-Hiranyakesin also wrote Srautasutras. <b>The two volumes under review provide the full text of Apastamba Srauta sutra with a good, standard, reliable English translation and notes. Sage Apastamba is believed to have lived in Andhra Pradesh around 5th Century B.C. </b>

The editor observes that the language and style of the work are similar to that of classical Sanskrit. But there are peculiarities, grammatical aberrations and archaisms in the text. Some critics like Buhler including the editor, Thite are of the opinion that "ritualists were in general, deficient in their education." But one has to keep in mind the time in which this work was composed.

It is quite possible that ancient authors like Apastamba followed a grammatical system, which was different from that of Panini, with which South Indians are familiar. We cannot therefore sit in judgment over Apastamba's grammar. The editor accepts that there are several instances of archaism in Apastamba's language.

These are the days of a general decadence of study and lack of interest in Vedic Srauta ritualism. <b>The Srauta sutras give details about a variety of rituals, those which are obligatory and those which are optional, the methodology, the priests to participate, the fee to be given to them, the mantras to be chanted, the kind of purodasa (translated as "bread" by the editor) to be prepared, the types of offerings to be made and the results promised. </b>

<b>Study of another Vedic auxiliary called the Mimamsa, which is concerned with Vedic exegesis, is very much in neglect nowadays. This is partly because of the domineering position of the Vedanta systems, which teach that the so-called rituals, which are complicated and difficult to perform, yield only temporary and limited results. Ultimate liberation is assured only by the Vedantas. </b>

It is against this background that the present work has to be assessed and admired. The translation fulfils a long-felt desideratum.

Both the translation and notes are of great value for students of the Srauta literature. Thite deserves praise for bringing to light this work, which represents a neglected branch of Vedic study.


From Pioneer, 6 May 2005
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->250 BC A Love Story

<b>Writer-anthropologist Shanta Sinha Bhalla takes Shana Maria Verghis time travelling back to Pataliputra, the ancientcapital of the Magadh empire under Ashoka.</b> It is a backdrop to Rain Dance, which traces love stories between a girl, a monk,an emperor and courtesan!

I belong to Bihar. I needed to feel good about Magadh, the place I grew up in. One reason my book Rain Dance published by Brijbasi was set in 250 AD. It is a love story between a high-born young woman, Chitralekha and a Buddhist monk. The parallel tale is about Ashoka and his queen Karuvaki. I didn't see much to feel nice about in modern-day Bihar so I travelled in time. I visited the ancient Nalanda University and Bodhgaya as a child and soaked up culture as I lived. I also learnt about the period of the empire's glory from my politician father. At the university, I studied psychology and anthropology. The latter led me to study cultures and the movement of people. To ancient civilisations like Mesopotamia and Babylonia and the period of Nebucadnazzer, real name 'Nabu-khu-dressar.'

You probably know the story behind his constructing the Hanging Gardens in Babylon for his Medean wife Amitya. She was homesick for the hills of her country, which contrasted with Babylon's flat land. I wanted to write that story, but ran out of research material. History knows Nebucadnazzar as a tyrant from whom one doesn't expect tenderness. Especially not someone responsible for the sack of Jerusalem. But Nebucadnazzar was a creature of his time. So <b>was Ashoka. Perhaps one could describe him as a creature ahead of his time.</b>

One of my resource books was The Wonder That Was India by AL Basham. I read it like a novel. Daily Life in Ancient Rome was another. <b>And there was Kalidasa's Mallavikagnimitram, which is so contemporary, it's unbelievable. And remember it was written 200 years after Ashoka. 57 BC. I also studied Ashoka's edicts.</b> This was back when we were going through the Babri Masjid turmoil.

<b>Some edicts called for communal harmony. And you will recall this was before Islam came to India. Before the word 'Hindu' was invented. There were sects like Vaishnavites, the materialistic Charvakyas, Jains and Buddhists. These people couldn't live in good terms with each other</b>. (It is like worshippers of Lakshmi and Ganesh fighting!) So Ashoka set up edicts. Not in shops though. In fact, there is a reference to ban of meetings of more than three people together in public places. <i>CPC Section 144!!! </i>Shopkeepers and prostitutes were included.

<b>Ashoka controlled a society and area larger than India today. It extended from Bactria to Burma.</b> And his dynasty, the Mauryans, belonged to the trader class. In fact, they were hated by Brahmins because he made no allowances for them. He had changed Kautilya's law, which allowed them privileges. For instance Brahmins, who committed murder, were punished with branding. The common man was maimed or killed. One of Ashoka's wives, Tissarakha, was Brahmin. She was known to have belonged to the Bharadwaj clan who conspired against Ashoka.

There is little information about the Emperor. My main sources were edicts and Buddhist texts. When the Brahmi script, in which edicts were written was deciphered by a British anthropologist nearly 100 years back, they discovered the name 'Piyadassi Raja Ashok'. He also took the title, 'Devanamapiya' or 'Beloved of the Gods'. The transcription became a referral for later historians like Romila Thapar.

When I worked at the University in Canada during the 70s and 80s, I did not experience racism. But one needed a reason to feel proud of one's country. There wasn't much happening then, so I took it on me to be a sort of ambassador, telling them about other things apart from poverty. When I returned, I didn't want to write on immigrant societies. Instead I focussed on my rich roots.

My mother is Bengali. She used to tell me about college in Kolkata before Independence. About English girls taunting her for being Indian. She would reply, 'When my forefathers were studying stars, yours were in the jungle.' There was a lot of fire in the belly!

And the more I read, prouder I got. <b>AL Basham's book made me proudest. He described India as "most civilised in the ancient world." There were humane laws here that existed nowhere else.</b> Even the concept of dharma did not. One visitor to the Mauryan empire was Megasthenes, the Greek traveller who wrote Indica. It has been lost forever, supposedly during the fire in Alexandria Library. He visited the palace of Pataliputra and was very impressed.

People don't change much. Ancient India still lives in villages. The costumes are now seen in our dance outfits and Buddhist monks uniforms. Even the dhoti and sacred thread are ancient. Actually ours is the most ancient, living civilisation. Today ancient and modern compete for space in people's lives.

Visiting modern Bihar is heartbreaking. Rajgiri where Buddha stared his ministry and Bimbisara held court was clean when I was younger. Now there are so many people milling around... Arthashasthra was a valuable source for my research. It talks of a society 70 years before Ashoka. I projected time a little, then got facts for the book's background.

I love reading historical novels like Mary Renault on ancient Greece, or The Winged Pharaoh on ancient Egypt. Essentially, I enjoy creating a world around vanished, everyday people.

I begin with the big, lazy Ganga. I think it runs widest in Patna during November by Bankipore Club. Now it's filthy. But as a child it was beautiful.

I knew Pataliputra was on the river, and villas of nobles were on its banks. So I visualised a graceful society in harmony, with undercurrents of push and pull.

Basically all people are political. Ashoka was different things to different people. A murderer to some, but I saw him as far-sighted, and powerful despite espousing Buddhism. He also belonged to the Axis Age which created Confucius, Buddha, Plato, Christ. To conclude, I visited ruins of Pataliputra palace not long ago. All that remains are 100 pillars preserved behind glass.

The Uddhava Geeta: The Last Teachings of Shri Krishna
Translated by Swami Ambikananda.

Thsi is an all english 200 page paperback which ranks second only to the Bhagwad Geeta in my limited reading. Uddhava was a bramhan who was sad that Bhagwan was leaving him and asked questions. (This was when the yadu dynasty was about to be wiped out and Krishna asked people to evacuate Dwarka).

Parts can be read in this link:

Another book from my little library:
The Tripura Rahasya: Secret of the Supreme Goddess

read parts at:
Divya Prabhandham On-Line

The first 1000 (muthalAyiram) of the 4000 divya prabandhams, has been completed and is available under the following formats.

1. By individual ten's.
2. By the work, such as PeriyAzhvAr Thirumozhi, etc.
3. The whole muthalAyiram.

All are available in downloadable PDF format.
The PDF files can be found at

Gita according to Visishtadvaita tradition
V. N. Gopala Desikachariar

English translation of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Yamuna, Ramanuja and Vedanta Desika

BHAGAVAD GITA SARAM - Part 2 (Chapters 7-12): Original Tamil commentary by Tirukkallam Narasimharaghavachariar, N. Jagannathan - Tr. in English; TCN Trust, 124, 4th Street, Abhiramapuram, Chennai-600018. Rs. 100.

The Bhagavad Gita, one of the three most important sacred texts of Hindu philosophy (the other two being the Upanishads and the Brahmasutras) has been extensively and exhaustively commented upon.

Prominent among these commentaries are the ones by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva with further glosses by their followers like Anandagiri, Vedanta Desika and Jayatirtha.

The Gita comprising 18 chapters is generally divided into three sections of six chapters each. The first section deals with Karma yoga and Jnana yoga; the middle one with Bhakti yoga and the third and last elaborates on the finer points of the earlier portions, culminating in the theory of Saranagati (Self-surrender). The earliest Vaishnavite scholar to comment on the Gita was Yamuna or Alavandar (10th Century A.D.), who wrote a terse commentary in just 32 verses in Sanskrit, known as the Gitarthasangraha followed by Ramanuja and Vedanta Desika.


This book is the English translation of the Tamil commentary on the second section (chapters seven to 12) of the Gita by Tirukkallam Narasimharaghavachariar, a profound scholar of repute and an acknowledged authority on Vaishnavite philosophy. He was justly famous for his religious lectures and more particularly on the Bhagavad Gita, which used to hold the audience spellbound. The commentator explains in great detail the Visishtadvaita interpretation of Ramanuja and Desika, for each verse. Even so, he has also dealt with the salient points in the Advaita and the Dvaita interpretations, so that the reader can make a comparative study of all the three viewpoints.

In this book, the text of the verses from the Gita and Githarthasangraha is given in Sanskrit along with transliteration in English followed by word-for-word meaning, summary and important points for consideration from the three systems of philosophy.

Salient features

In addition, a fairly detailed summary is given in the beginning of each chapter, in the form of a dialogue between the doubting Arjuna and the benevolent Krishna, which sums up the contents of the chapter and is highly useful.

The Lord's indwelling in everything as the invisible controller, even as a piece of thread on which is strung a cluster of gems, His all-pervasiveness, loving protection of sincere devotees, His equality towards all and His relishing even a leaf or flower or fruit or water proffered with sincere devotion have all been well brought out, with appropriate elucidations.

The moral qualities that are sine qua non for a practitioner of Bhakti yoga have been nicely elaborated. The famous episode of Krishna revealing His cosmic form has been portrayed in all glory and splendour.

The lucid explanation given of the four types of fools and four kinds of devotees enunciated by Krishna and the exposition of the divine glories of the Lord are praiseworthy. The translator has done a fine job in making the abstruse philosophy of Gita intelligible even to the lay reader.

His translation in simple English is faithful to the original Tamil commentary. In fact, the translation is so free flowing and lively that it can pass for the original.

The printing is good and free from errors. The book has been nicely brought out and will be useful for the English-knowing public to understand and appreciate the Visishtadvaita interpretation of the Gita.
Mr Amartya Sen has written a book on Indians ......
Is he an Indian anymore???

<b>ESQ.</b>Amartya Sen dazzles 'argumentative Indians'
By Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) It was a carnival for "argumentative Indians", choreographed by none other than Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen.

Students, teachers, intellectuals and other Indians of all stripes listened spellbound to the scholar as he expounded on the two contrasting ideas of India in a lecture entitled `India: Large and Small' with passion and panache here on Friday.

The lecture, which was organised by the Planning Commission and Delhi School of Economics, elicited an overwhelming response with many of Sen's devotees even willing to watch him speak on a screen erected outside the auditorium.

Planning Commission chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia compered an interactive discussion that followed Sen's exquisitely crafted discourse affirming the Nehruvian vision of India.
I thought his adopted country UK is a capitalist country..what is so infatuation with Nehruvian Policy!

In a presentation laced with gentle humour and formidable erudition, Sen spoke eloquently about the two contrapuntal ideas of India -- the "broader integrationist idea of India celebrating argument, plurality and heterodoxy opposed to the small exclusivist idea of India promoted by a narrowly Hindu view of India" as espoused by Hindutva activists.
In spite of all plurality in UK, they could not change the mindset of Jihadis.

"There is a vigorous tradition of argument in India that goes back to our history and mythology," Sen said. He then regaled the awestruck audience with colourful anecdotes celebrating the 'argumentative Indian' - the title of the book Sen is writing. Tradition of argument is ingrained in Sanatan Dharma from ancient times when Knowledgeable people indulged in
debates to convince others "Shashthatras".

Quoting Al-Barauni who rhapsodised about "the Indian ability to speak eloquently on subjects about which he knows nothing", he cited the legendary Indian envoy V.K. Krishn a Menon's nine-hour address to the UN as an example of the Indian's love for arguments and inquiry. "

More learned citations from myth and folklore followed. "The Mahabharata is seven times larger than Homer's epic. The Bhagavad Gita is essentially a long argument. Some of the more interesting questions in the Upanishads asked by women." ....Did he ever read Bhagavada Gita???....Arjuna never argued with Krishna ..he was disillusioned and wanted clarification. and guidance What Mr Sen has to say about Quran?

Sen also took learned potshots at the re-writing of Indian history by the Hindutva enthusiasts. ...Which History is he talking about?? The one written by Britishers about Indians or true history??

"The enthusiasm for ancient history comes from Hindutva activists who have made an art of making a factional use of Hindu classics to peddle their sectarian worldview," said famous thinker. Only Hindus in the world says "Vasudevan Kutumban"...the world is one family..there is no such thing as Hindu sectarian world view......

Targeting what he called a "reductionist use of Hindu religiosity", he said: "Ancient India can't fit into the narrow mould in which Hindutva activists seek to incarcerate it." ...May be Jihadi culture is better...also a reductionist philosophy whereby a person is reduced by 6 inches from the top.

As opposed to this parochial view of India, Sen posited "a larger idea of India that allows space for the simultaneous flourishing of many viewpoints and convictions in India." .... Did he ever tell these things to Jihadis"

The Nobel laureate shone like an intellectual superstar as he lauded "the rich tradition of agnosticism and atheism that's at least 2,000 years old," and linked "the significance of this distinguished argumentative tradition for the development of secularism and democracy."

"The Godhra riots in 2004 showed the neglect of secularism by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)," Sen said referring to the violence in Gujarat two years ago. However, there is no reason to despair. ....Does he remember Kashmir. Bangladesh, Pakistan...."

Sen concluded by asserting that the argumentative Indian will ensure that the broader view of India grounded in the dialogic tradition will ultimately prevail.

<b>Here is another argumentative Indian...sorry Mr.Sen </b>
Sen is typical commie with overdose of Karl Marx. One should understand purpose of different assortment of awards given to disillusioned citizens’ world over.
<b> Spiritual Journey, Imperial City: Pilgrimage to the Temples of Vijayanagara.</b>

<i> by William Grantham</i>

Spiritual Journey, Imperial City: Pilgrimage to the Temples of Vijayanagara. ALEXANDRA MACK. Vedams ebooks Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi . xv + 227 pp. Rs 900 (Approximately $45.00 U.S.), ISBN 81-7936-004-0.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> Alexandra Mack explores the economic, social, and political aspects of pilgrimages as represented by Vijayanagara, a temple/city that dominated south India from the fourteenth to sixteenth century. Utilizing a holistic approach, Mack evaluates literary texts, ethnographic data collected from local villagers, temple inscriptions, maps, and archaeologically recovered ceramic and grinding stone remains to examine the role of the pilgrimage in reinforcing social integration while maintaining social boundaries.

The book consists of eight chapters and an appendix. Mack sets forth her goals in chapter 1 that include an examination of how the political and economic aspects of pilgrimages affect social interactions at Vijayanagara, India. An important aspect of Mack's work is how pilgrimages reinforce social integration while maintaining social boundaries. The next three chapters are devoted to historic and theoretical background. Chapter 2 provides an important discussion of the various social and economic aspects of pilgrimages and a review of relevant published studies. Chapter 3 describes the city and empire of Vijayanagara historically while Chapter 4 offers a broader sociohistorical discussion of the role of the temple in south India, the relationship between Hinduism and the temple, and the relationship between the temple and the economy, society, and politics in south India.

The next three chapters are devoted to analytical studies. Chapter 5 presents inscription data recovered from temple walls. Mack provides a discussion of the benefits and limitations of inscription evidence and concludes that while the inscription data reveal "ways in which the temples set the stage for claims of authority and legitimation" (p. 101), they also demonstrate the importance of the pilgrimage. Chapter 6 evaluates the spatial organization of the temple and surrounding area. Mack suggests that within the social setting of the pilgrimage, the use of space can "contribute to both the deconstruction of social barriers and the reinforcement of such boundaries" (p. 118). In Chapter 7 Mack uses grinding-stone and ceramic data to evaluate food preparation and social relations at Vijayanagara. She argues that these data "reveal the complexity of social interactions and the coexistence of different types of social relations in the constrained geographical areas around the temples" (p. 158). The data presented in chapters 5 through 7 are supported by ample charts, graphs, and statistics. Chapter 8 presents Mack's conclusions and suggestions for the direction of future research in the field. While Mack provides an extensive appendix of grinding-stone and ceramic data collected at Vijayanagara, the book's index is rather short which may limit its usefulness.

Mack sets ambitious goals for herself with this research. Patterns of social identity, social integration, and social boundaries are difficult to evaluate among extant populations and can be quite nebulous in the historical or archaeological record. The holistic approach that Mack pursues provides encouraging results. Perhaps among her most important conclusions is that, while the pilgrimage "engenders communitas among the pilgrims" (p. 164), the archaeological record indicates that both spatial and economic separation was maintained between the pilgrims and the local residents of the area. Mack attempts to integrate a wide array of data to address a number of difficult archaeological questions in a relatively short book. Toward this end, she reaches interesting results and demonstrates the utility of a holistic methodology. The book has much to offer and should appeal to those interested in the region of south India, the social aspects of pilgrimages and temples in general, and archaeological and historical approaches to evaluating social identity, social integration, social boundaries, and spatial analysis.

Reviewed by William Grantham, Troy State University. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Mahabharata On-line resources link:
Book Review in Pioneer, 10 Feb., 2006
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The world is ours, if only we dream big

The following is an excerpt from Shonar's Of Past Dawns and Future Noons, published by UBSPD

Ashes of Heroism

<b>India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma."</b>

When one is armed with such a history, there is something peculiar about its fount of knowledge, which is that it will not cease to give, nor dry up in the most adverse of circumstances. All one has to do is draw in with an extra breath and the fountain spews forth its wisdom like ever before.

<b>Thus, even through the barbaric times, even in the midst of the bloodbath that wreaked havoc on her soil, India still emitted signs of her extraordinary courage and everlasting vitality. She stood her ground, albeit with bent knees, and although her scabbard of earlier days, her forces of protection, her people, her children, ran amuck hither and thither, she still did not give in.</b>

Sometimes, there came short spurts of resurgence when an occasional child, having drunk the milk of her valour, would lead the nation once again into the battlefield, with the aim of removing the shackles that had wrapped devilishly around his Mother's soul.

It was no longer important to see if he succeeded or not, for just the fact that an attempt was made, was in itself a sign of hope that in time, all will once again be well, for so long as the soul of even one man awakens to the call of his Mother, the call of Truth, the call of Dharma, there is hope and certitude in the ultimate victory In her chequered history, she may seem to have plunged and extinguished her own light but the reality has something else to say.

"Invasion and foreign rule, the Greek, the Parthian and the Hun, the robust vigour of Islam, the levelling steam-roller heaviness of the British occupation and the British system, the enormous pressure of the Occident have not been able to drive or crush the ancient soul out of the body her Vedic Rishis made for her. At every step, under every calamity and attack and domination, she has been able to resist and survive either with an active or a passive resistance. And this she was able to do in her great days by her spiritual solidarity and power of assimilation and reaction, expelling all that would not be absorbed, absorbing all that could not be expelled, and even after the beginning of the decline she was still able to survive by the same force, abated but not slayable, retreating and maintaining for a time her ancient political system in the south, throwing up under the pressure of Islam and Rajput and Sikh and Mahratta to defend her ancient self and its idea, persisting passively where she could not resist actively, condemning to decay each empire that could not answer her riddle or make terms with her, awaiting always the day of her revival. And even now it is a similar phenomenon that we see in process before our eyes. And what shall we say then of the surpassing vitality of the civilisation that could accomplish this miracle and of the wisdom of those who built its foundation not on things external but on the spirit and the inner mind and made a spiritual and cultural oneness the root and stock of her existence and not solely its fragile flower, the eternal basis and not the perishable superstructure."

Such is the country that we have inherited. Such is the soil that we step on... on which once stood people like Bindusara and Chandragupta, Mahendravarman and Krishnadevaraya, Rajendra Chola and Rana Sangha, Shivaji and Nana Fadnavis, Baji Prabhu and Rani of Jhansi, Subhash Chandra Bose and Sri Aurobindo...

<b>A Wake-up Call</b>

When Politics becomes lifeless, the triple Veda sinks, all the dharmas (i.e., the bases of civilization) (howsoever) developed, completely decay. When traditional State-Ethics are departed from, all the bases of the divisions of individual life are shattered."

There is something extremely disconcerting about Bhishma's warning to Yudhisthira in which he says, "When our current cycle of time nears its end, the people of the country shall be reduced to the selling of food, the Brahmins to the selling of the Vedas, and women to the selling of their bodies... an all consuming fire shall burn all around. The travellers who seek shall not receive even food, water or shelter; and refused from all sides, they shall be seen lying all around on the roads."

Doesn't his vision seem familiar? In any event it is not hard to imagine, and that is what makes such a prophecy terrifying. If it has truly reached a point where it has begun to take shape, no longer nebulous and hypothetical, then it is time for us to wake up.

And this action will only be the beginning. For, even though India had enough foresight in the past to make up for all this lost time in the middle, she has now become habituated to moving ahead inch by inch instead of taking lengthy strides as was her nature.

Her politics today needs serious re-thinking and re-planning. To be labelled as the largest democracy is enough to inflate our hearts with pride, but little do we realize that only few are aware of what it means and the different connotation it has in the Indian context. In truth, it is something less synthetic and more in keeping with the thought that is so unique and peculiar to India alone.

"Her (India's) mission is to point back humanity to the true source of human liberty, human equality and human brotherhood. When man is free in spirit all other freedom is at his command.... When he is liberated from delusion, he perceives the divine equality of the world which fulfils itself through love and justice, and this perception transfuses itself into the law of government and society. "When he has perceived this divine equality, he is brother to the whole world, and in whatever position he is placed he serves all men as his brothers by the law of love, by the law of justice. When this perception becomes the basis of religion, of philosophy, of social speculation and political aspiration, then will liberty, equality and fraternity take place in the structure of society and the satyayuga returns. This is the Asiatic rendering of democracy which India must rediscover for herself before she can give it to the world."

Undoubtedly, our westernised and equally synthetic education is to blame for this lack of understanding, leaving only a minuscule minority that has comprehended the exalted goals of the past and seen through the short sighted vision of the present.

Unfortunately, they have as yet not attempted, or succeeded even if they have, in changing the dominating thought process.

The same goes for the politicians for, as long as ignorance keeps the masses shrouded, it would only serve them well, ensure the weight of their piggy banks and give them that sense of false superiority as well as an imaginary cause to fight.

'Nothing of the kind can be asserted of the modern politician in any part of the world; he does not represent the soul of a people or its aspirations. What he does usually represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about him and these he represents well enough as well as a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity and pretence. Great issues often come to him for decision, but he does not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on his lips, but they become rapidly the claptrap of a party."

The parties, which are essentially a sign of live and conscious democracy, have today become a joke, and a poor one at that. Each is concerned only with the motive of bringing down the other, irrespective of the good that it may be hoping to do. Cutting each other's throat and tenure, maligning the good along with the bad, our politicians, it would seem, are left with not much time in hand to spend on the upliftment of the country. The diversity in opinion of the individual parties can only be healthy so long as the ultimate motive is common - in our case, the motive can only be in the protection and the progress of the people of India.

The ones who are still astute and persevering are quickly brought down so as to merge with the general body and not stand apart. That is what we have become - average, ordinary, no different, a mass.

But if we want, we can fish ourselves out of this situation as well. The oars are ours to take. The aims are ours to achieve. It has all been told to us, all been ingrained in us, and we have in us the strength of that indomitable past - a few centuries of a dark sun cannot stop us from being what we essentially are or believing in what we hold as true.

Free download
Bhagavad Gita (1st c. BC-2nd c. AD)


Anonymous member(s) of the ruling Brahmin class in India sometime between the first century BC and the second century AD

Time & Place

Between the first century BC and the second century AD. India.

Language & Form

Epic, heroic, religious poem. Also known as "The Song of the Lord." Later addition to and part of the sixth book of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata (5th-4th c. BC). Poetic form: 700 verses divided into 18 chapters; epic stanza employing the meters known as sloka and tristubh. Original language: Sanskrit. Recommended translation: Barbara Stoller Miller


About to enter into battle against his relatives, the Kauravas, the Pandava prince Arjuna expresses his concerns about violence and the killing of his own kin. Arjuna's charioteer, Krishna, is an incarnation of the god Vishnu and advises Arjuna to put all doubt aside and fulfill his duty (dharma) as a warrior (ksatriya). Krishna argues that to kill out of duty, in a state of removal from all self-interest, is virtuous and necessary.


Story based on traditional narratives about the war between the Pandava clan and the Kauravas (led by the blind patriarch Dhritarastra of Hastinapura); battle of Kuruksetra (traditionally dated around 1302 BC)

Hinduism: traditional religion of India evolved from Vedism, a set of texts, cults, and doctrines going back to the 2nd millenium BC

Traditional Hinduism's strict, hierarchical caste system: Brahmins (ruling class of priests), ksatriyas (warriors); vaisyas (farmers, herders, merchants), sudras (servants and slaves), pariahs (outcasts, untouchables); membership in caste determined by birth; emphasis on obedience and performance of one's dharma (duty) within the caste of one's birth; belief in reincarnation and transmigration of souls from one kind of body to another (samsara)

Buddhism, religion which arose in India as a reaction against the inequalities and rigidities of Hinduism. Based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), a sage who was active sometime between the 6th and the 4th c. BC.

Caste system undermined by egalitarian character of Buddhism; Buddhism emphasized the idea of karma (destiny determined by one's actions), the extinguishing of passion/desire, peaceful coexistence with all living things, and enlightenment

The Bhagavad Gita was crafted by members of the Brahmin caste in an effort to counteract the rising influence of Buddhism; new concepts: karma yoga ("discipline of action"), dutiful, disciplined action without personal desire, sacred duty; bhakti yoga ("discipline of devotion")

Leaning in the direction of Buddhism and the voice of Arjuna (pacifism, the sanctity of all life), Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) interpreted the Bhagavad Gita as supporting the doctrine of non-violent resistance

Main Issues

Arjuna's objections to war correspond to the positions of Buddhism

Krishna's responses correspond to the interests of the Brahmin classes and the ideologies of Hinduism

Krishna's teachings offer a modification of traditional Hinduism intended to preserve the caste system and its associated duties while accomodating Buddhism's call for selflessness and withdrawal from worldly concerns

Krishna's positions marked by evident contradictions which can only be explained by the underlying political and social interests that dictate them

Gandhi's reading of the Bhagavad Gita as an attempt to reconcile the beliefs of Hinduism with an ethic of peace and respect for all living things--notable differences with the ideas of Krishna

Study Questions

Who composed the Gita? For what purposes? How did the historical and cultural conditions of the time affect the shaping of the work's ideological content? What arguments does Arjuna invoke to support his concern about participating in the battle? What arguments does Krishna employ to overcome Arjuna's objections to participating in the battle? Are they persuasive? Are they consistent with the Buddhist concern with the "bad karma" of violent action? Why? Why not? In what ways does the Gita attempt to smooth out the contradictions between the teachings of Buddhism and those of Hinduism? Is it successful in this endeavor? How do you feel about Krishna's argument that the immortality of souls makes killing less problematic? Is it possible to read this text, as Gandhi did, as an argument against violence? How?


to come


"mrtyuh sarva-haras caham
udbhavas ca bhavisyatam"

(Bhagavad Gita 10:34)

"I am all-devouring Death,

the source of what is to come"

"I am become Death,
the Destroyer of worlds"

as paraphrased by Robert Oppenheimer, nuclear physicist,
at the site of the first atomic bomb test (Trinity), July 15, 1945

Recommended Reading

to come

© 2001, 2002, 2003 by Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, all rights reserved
Book reveiw, Pioeer, 20 March, 2006
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Does God exist? Yes and no!

MV Kamath


There are many who believe in the existence of god or a creator. They are called theists (after the Greek word theos, 'god'). Them there are atheists who are non-believers. And finally there are agencies which are not sure whether there is a God or not and probably couldn't care less. And the debate whether there is a God has been going on since times immemorial.

In India there have been, there are, and, no doubt, there will continue to be, nastiks who do not accept the existence of God and have no use for Him. Dr IM Singh, an eminent physician belongs to this august fraternity. There is, of course, a difference between belief in God and faith in a religion. One can have faith in a Supreme Being, call it by whatever name and still be irreligious. Down the centuries religions have been exploitative. Dr Singh reminds us how, over the centuries, man has exploited the concept of religion with sporadic ruthlessness for political, social and economic ends.

Understandably Dr Singh is opposed to religion. As he sees it, religious belief is passed on to individuals and communities which then become cultural ideas extending generation after generation. Religion, thus, tends to get accepted without challenge. In many interesting ways, he argues, the preoccupation with one's God is so deeply etched on one's mind that despite social and spiritual ills, one is unable to take an interest in the scientific alternatives to religion. As he further argues: "It is because one's soul is mortgaged to God with docility and eagerness that a change or a revolution on thinking is hard to grasp". But what has religion got to do with God who, surely, is above religion?

The question of God's existence has nothing to do with precepts, whether of Islam or Christianity, or myths which are part of Hinduism. Hinduism is easily one of the most misunderstood of all religions. According to Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan whom Dr Singh quotes, "It (Hinduism) enjoins a strict code of practice. The theist and atheist, the sceptic and the agnostic may all be Hindus if they accept the Hindu System of Culture and life... what counts is conduct, not belief." Dr Singh, born a Hindu, says his disenchantment with God started when his childhood prayers remained unanswered - a very poor excuse.

He then proceeds to demolish all the myths about God, whether propagated in Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, in the name of rationalism. Would God cease to exist if one cannot accept the belief that Christ is the only son of God or that the virgin Mary gave birth to him? Would again God be an anachronism if one does not accept certain tenets such as Karma, rebirth and leela? Do we have to give God a gender?

The usual argument made by atheists is that God is the creation of man and not the other way around. Would God cease to exist if there is no visible creation? Would there be no God if there were no man or, more specifically, no intelligence to conceive him? Dr Singh makes the surprising point that "in general, the more uneducated a person the greater is the belief in God". If we pursue that argument, then the greatest disbeliever in God should be the most educated. This is reducing his argument to absurdity.

Dr Singh quotes profusely from recent achievements in science to make the point that what is usually attributed to God is science's contribution. He points out that the discovery of the human genome and its implications, that it would help us control our genetic makeup, has immense significance not only for the future of mankind but also for the animal and vegetable kingdoms and hence man would be able to chose his own destiny.

So where does God come in the picture? According to Dr Singh it is not God or some unknown power that shapes man's destiny but the "unleashed power of the atoms". He observes, "For the scientists who are studying the origin of life, the question is no longer whether life could have originated by a chemical process involving non-biological components but the number of pathways that might have been followed to produce the living cell."

Actually, a French scientist way back in the 1950s argued that life began when, by sheer coincidence, an organic cell was formed because of the interaction between electricity and the presence of nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere. A charming explanation. If one understands the scientist alright all creation started with that first beginning of the organic molecule. As a thesis it is fascinating. It was not God who 'created' the universe, but an accident in chemical technology.

In November 2002, the author writes, Dr Craig Ventor, a genomic pioneer and Dr Hamilton Smith, Nobel Prize winning genetist in America created an artificial virus based on a real one in just two weeks. Furthermore, at Ventnor's Institute of Biological Energy the scientists bought "commercially viable strands of INA, and using a new technology, coaxed them to form a duplicate of the genome of a Bacteriophage called phi X.

Even more importantly the synthetic genome of the virus was planted into a cell when the virus started reproducing itself. Ergo, then we are asked to believe, if man can create a live virus would it be too long before man creates an artificial man to his own specification?

As Dr Singh puts it, "The progress in physical sciences has also been gradually eroding the paradigm of God." Obviously, man is now on his way to becoming God himself. "I am quite convinced," writes Dr Singh, "that Science if Fact and God is fiction," considering that "in the not so distant future, scientists will be able to identify the path of chemical evolution that led to the initiation of life on earth".

That ends Dr Singh's quest for the meaning of life - and God. As a study it is fascinating. As one man's long quest for the meaning of existence this book makes a fascinating study. Dr Singh is by no means arrogant even if he is dismissive of God and has no use for prayers. His quest started as a child and has ended in his old age with a clear faith in Science and its possibilities.

The book is aptly titled, Quest Beyond Religion. To Dr Singh "the continuing fascination with God is stressing the lapsed state of the human mind". That sums up his entire thinking. God help him! <b>The writer insists that he will stick to his own thinking no matter if a majority in the world continues to believe in God's existence. And why shouldn't he? The Buddha makes no motion of God. But does that prove that God does not exist? Let us rest the debate here. God, if there is God, will surely understand.</b>

<b>Origin and evolution of one of India's greatest products: The Panchatantra</b>
By Hauma Hamiddha

Tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/s6ns7

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