Beliefs, Religion and Reason – A perspective of Hindu Atheist

October 15, 2009

Happy Diwali …

Filed under: beliefs — Aniket @ 11:42 pm
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You can earn money, you can control money, you can desire money…but should you really worship money? Beats me.
What an irony that the religion which makes such a big stink about non-materialistic lifestyle has its most widely celebrated festival around worship of wealth!!

Happy Diwali…..

May 15, 2009

Spiritual but not religious

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aniket @ 5:18 am
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I have seen many people using this expression – ‘I am spiritual, but I am not religious’. I used to say that about me too. But I don’t think I’d fully understood what it means and I still don’t. It is just one of those intelligent sounding sexy expressions. I’d love to hear if someone can tell me the real difference between the two.

To me it is like saying – 
I am not superstitious like some rural construction worker, I do not perform all the rituals blindly the way prescribed by the books, but I thoroughly believe in religion and wholeheartedly worship (or fear?) god.
I do not paint my body with colorful powders and ashes, but I prefer to a carry a signature of my belief on my forehead in rather aesthetic way.
I do not listen to mythological dumb folklore stories, but I am generally overwhelmed by the talk of some suave sadhubaba, living in five star aashrama having commode toilets and A/C meditation halls, preaching banal discourses on life, sufferings, happiness, austerity and pseudo-science of metaphysics.
I do not participate in religious processions where people are coarsely singing religious hymns, beating the drums to add to the cacophony and wildly dancing on that tune half drunk, half naked. But I proudly carry the CDs of stotras, bhajans, prayers, mantras in my car and occasionally listen to them as a mark of my spirituality.

So if that is spirituality, then is it just not an uptight, upscale, presumptuous version of gross religiosity?

March 18, 2009

Funny and sad

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aniket @ 8:39 am
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(via HA) Just like Charlie Chaplin himself, the news of opposition to Charlie Chaplin statue is funny and sad.

Charlie would have laughed at his own fate and cried at the same time.

February 17, 2009

Evolution and voice of sanity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aniket @ 9:58 pm
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While I blogged about ISKCON’s view on evolution sometime back, I should also post this very moderate and rational view on evolution emerging out of same ISKCON.

Sita-pati das unequivocally accepts the proven aspect of evolution and disputes the chemical evolution. Fair enough! (although you can not just keep saying ‘life comes from life’. the regress has to terminate somewhere to answer ‘how the very first life came into being’)

The important difference is the attitude towards science. Science has brought in tremendous improvement in overall quality of human life. Enjoying all material comforts enabled by science, preaching hatred for science is clean hypocrisy.

If this is how everyone in ISKCON thinks about evolution, that’s a good news.

Update: Meanwhile, New Vrndavan Club 108 continues its tirade of vilifying Darwin.

February 12, 2009

Evolution debate and Hindus

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aniket @ 1:09 am
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There is one important difference between evolution debate in Christian context and in Hindu context that there isn’t much evolution debate in Hinduism. I guess Hindus are so deeply buried in following their regular rituals that they don’t have time and will to read and refute scientific ideas like evolution. As far as I recollect there is no significant incidence of opposition to teaching theory of evolution in schools and colleges.

One notable exception – ISKCON – and largely because of opposition to evolution by its founder Srila Prabhupada. Had he not been so vocal about it, they also wouldn’t have cared much about evolution. Religious cults don’t generally have their independent thinking, they just repeat the words of their founder *guru* for years and years until the cult cease to exist.

So here New Vrindavan declares Darwin is dead.

To begin our “celebration” of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, we here at Club 108 offer you and yours a special bit of katha from Srila Prabhupada, from the excellent book “Life Comes From Life”

Morning Walk
4-19-73, Cheviot Hills Park, Los Angeles

“The Missing Link”
Dr.Singh (His Holiness Bhakti Swarup Damodar Maharaj): In fact, there are several theories explaining how life originated from matter, how living matter came from the non-living

Prabhupada
: (casting Dr. Singh in the role of a materialistic scientist) All right, scientist, why is life not coming from matter now? You rascal. Why isn’t life coming from matter now?

Actually such scientists are rascals. They childishly say that life came from matter, although they are not at all able to prove it. Our Krsna consciousness movement should expose all these rascals. They are only bluffing. Why don’t they create life immediately? In the past, they say, life arose from matter, and they say that this will happen again in the future. They even say that they will create life from matter. What kind of theory is this? They have already commented that life began from matter. This refers to the past-“began”. Then why do they now speak of the future? Is it not contradictory? They are expecting the past to occur in the future. This is childish nonsense.

(aniket here) What do you think of a Swami who calls scientists ‘Rascals’? His Holiness?

Karandhar Prabhu: They say that life arose from matter in the past and that they will create life this way in the future.

P: What is this nonsense? If they cannot prove that life arises from matter in the present, how do they know life arose this way in the past?

(aniket here)

Is this even a logical argument?

Science is continuous quest for knowledge. Yes, there are unknowns. There is a reasonable assumption that first cell must have evolved as a result of some chemical evolution, but science doesn’t have definite answer to that yet and science does not want to make stuff up like P’s gang would. Having said this, science does have a very elegant theory supported with enormous evidence for evolution of life from evolution of first cell.
How does above P’s statement refute argument of biological evolution? You can not point to lack of evidence for chemical evolution to disprove biological evolution, can you?

Dr.S: They are assuming…

P: Everyone can assume, but this is not science. Everyone can assume something. You can assume something, I can assume something. But there must be proof. We can prove that life arises from life. For example, a father begets a child. The father is living, and the child is living. But where is there proof that a father can be a dead stone? Where is their proof? We can easily prove that life begins from life. And the original life is Krsna. That can also be proven. But what evidence exists that a child is born of stone? They cannot actually prove that life comes from matter. They are leaving that aside for the future. (Laughter)

(aniket) Random assumption is not science, reasonable assumption is.
and stones? seems like someone was stoned while saying this …
Presumably, someone with 16108 wives can potentially make many babies. But origin of entire life is Krsna? Where is the proof for that? Why just say ‘That can also be proven’? Prove it.

K: The scientisis say that they can now formulate acids, amino acids, that are almost like one-celled living organisms. They say that because these acids so closely resemble living beings, there must be just one missing link needed before they can create life.

P: Nonsense! Missing link. I’ll challenge them to their face! (Laughter) They are missing this challenge. The missing link is this challenge to their face.

(aniket here) Yes, and you are making a lot of sense swami.

If you would like to contribute to our year-long “celebration” of Darwin’s 200th birthday, please send your articles, editorials, or any other creative and informative pieces to nvclub108@gmail.com

So that is that about some more bullsh!t (cow dung may be) arising out of ISKCON.




February 1, 2009

ISKCON and homosexuality

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aniket @ 10:08 pm
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It’s good to see a voice of reason and sanity coming out of ISKCON.

Giridhari Das, an ISKCON preacher in Brazil, in his blogpost here ,raises a critical question of dealing with homosexuality in ISKCON movement by recounting an incidence in brasilia, Brazil.
He says, (emphasis mine)

During my touring of Brazil I came across the following administrative situation: an initiated devotee who had graduated from our 9 month Bhakti-shastri Seminary had been giving classes at the temple, and also teaching a bhakti-shastri course to the other devotees. She had been doing that for some time, to the satisfaction of the leaders and congregation. Then she decided to move in with her girlfriend and they signed some paperwork between themselves, making it as close to a legal marriage as they could. The other girl also became a devotee by her influence.

So, a female-female devotee couple was formed. Because she did not hide the situation, the local leaders became disturbed. They then banned her from giving further classes and canceled her bhakti-shastri course to the local congregation.

(At the same time, in this same congregation, a male initiated devotee is living with a bhaktin, and they are not married. He not only teaches the bhakti-shastri course, but also cooks for the congregation.)

That’s typically how you expect religion to respond and ISKCON is as fundamentalist as an organization would get. (besides .. is that what people come to temple for? to find a mate for themselves?Holy molly! that’s some dating service you are running there.. well, after all, I guess Lord Krishna inspires that naturally)

He further says,

The general question I raised when discussing the issue with the local leaders, and for which they could not give me a satisfactory reply, is whether it is fair to ban someone from doing some kind of service on the basis of how they were born.

Why? I guess there are probably gazillion question which they don’t have satisfying answers for. In fact, the only reply you get in ISKCON is – It’s all written in scriptures by God himself.
he then goes on to recount his argument with temple authorities and concludes the post by saying,

It seems to me that IF it is the case that homosexuals are BORN homosexuals (and as far as I am aware, science strongly supports this claim), then ISKCON must deal with this ethical issue urgently, lest we be guilty of the grossest kind of prejudice – that based on the way a person is born, regardless of his possessing all other qualifications.

Okay. Two things sir. First, did you just say science? Religious authorities are way more knowledgeable and superior to science – well, at least in the view of ISKCON. You should have known that. Second, there are million things that science says and ISKCON (or any other religious fundamentalist crook for that matter) doesn’t accept, why do you expect them to make a concession in this case?

I still wish to thank Giridhari Das for expressing voice of reason – some glimpses of sanity and reason from otherwise arid land of banal hypocrisy.

November 24, 2008

The conscience of Hindu Atheist

Filed under: Philosophies — Aniket @ 10:50 pm
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What is Hindu Atheist? Is he Hindu or is he an Atheist?

Can he not be both? In more conventional way, no.

In its most conventionally practiced form, Hinduism is about multitudes of rigid rituals practiced for various reasons from obtaining god’s favor to reaching goal of eternal salvation. The rabid mob of devout Hindus who flock in massive scale to any kind of yatras (pilgrimages) and utsavs (religious festivals) is testimonial of the fact that today’s Hinduism is far departed from some of the ancient philosophies that professed heterodoxy.

Even the philosophy of advaita vedanta – the philosophy that rejects externality of god and professes non-duality (advaita in sanskrit) of god and human soul – is also mostly followed by some elite intellectuals. For masses, Hinduism is about going to temple and praying to god for their material well-being.

Hence, in most conventional way one can not be Hindu and Atheist at the same time.

But if one goes by loose definition of Hindu ethos as collection of ancient philosophies prevalent in vedic era, then Hinduism doesn’t remain a conventional religion any more. It becomes a diverse collection of fruitful and constructive arguments, debates, discussions among the intellectuals of the era. That form of Hinduism does not prescribe any particular medicine as the ultimate elixir of life. You can choose what you like and you can still call yourself Hindu as in descendant of that legacy if that gives you a sense of belongingness and if you are looking for the one.

In Atheistic perspective, there are three main philosophies that emerged out of vedic/Indus valley/Indian civilization – Jainism, Buddhism and Cārvāka (pronounced Chartered-vaa-make) teachings. The first two philosophies preached non-materialistic atheism and ultimately diverged into different religions altogether. The later philosophy, professed by Cārvāka in 600BC, was perhaps far too ahead of its time and did not survive the brunt of puritan religion.

Today, Cārvāka’s philosophy can be seen as the most objective form of ancient atheistic philosophy. Perhaps, Cārvāka is the ancient visionary who professed the form of atheism which is gaining momentum today – 2600 years after his lifetime.

The philosophies of Buddha and Cārvāka have always fascinated me. I am not really sure which school of atheism I belong to – Buddhist or Cārvākist.

October 14, 2008

Here we go ….

Filed under: Atheism — Aniket @ 11:08 pm
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Trying to reconcile the new age ideas of science with devout Hindu religious atmosphere at my home, I stumbled upon the realization that religion in its most purest form is more ridiculous than imagining nomination of George W Bush for Nobel peace prize. For quite some time I fought with myself. I could not imagine the world without god. I was basically $h!t scared to reject the notion of god in totality. What if god is there? He’ll screw me royally .. err godly … if I deny his existence. But then the reasonable voice in me told me, what if He really exists? He’ll rather you doubted him and then discovered Him than just blindly accepted Him. I became an atheist!

To me, an theist does not completely deny the possibility of existence of god. He just thinks that given the known facts as of today, it is very less likely that life was created by anybody and it’s way more likely that life just happened and then evolved. I think genuine doubt is the most scientific approach one could ever take in this matter.

The purpose of this blog is to pen down various thoughts as they occur to me and to have fruitful conversation with other intelligent minds on this subject.

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