The Myth of population explosion


== Introduction ==
Most of us grew up on a poisonous diet of overpopulation propaganda. Remember the lifeboat scenarios in high school biology, where we had to decide who we were going to push overboard, lest we all die. Look up the speeches of former Vice President of USA Al Gore, who warned of an “environmental holocaust without precedent”–a “black hole” in his words–that will engulf us if we do not stop having babies.2 In this and a myriad of ways we have been force-fed–and most of us swallowed whole–the nasty theory that there were too many people, along with its even more terrible corollary that it is necessary to practice inhumanity in order to save humanity–or some worthy fraction thereof.

Everyone has read passages similar to the following, taken from James Coleman and Donald Cressey’s Social Problems, one of the standard social science textbooks from the nineties:

The world’s population is exploding. The number of men, women and children is now over 5 billion. … If the current rate of growth continues, the world’s population will double again in the next 40 years…the dangers of runaway population growth can be seen in historical perspective… It took all of human history until 1800 for the world’s population to reach 1 billon people. But the next … 1 billion was added in only 130 years (1800-1930), [the next billion] after that in 30 years (1930-1960), and the next in 15 years (1960-1975). The last billion people were added in only 12 years (1975-1987). If this trend (of runaway population growth) continues the world will be soon be adding a billion people a year, and eventually every month

But what if overpopulation is, as economist Jacqueline Kasun has remarked, a false dogma? What if the assorted population controllers, radical environmentalists, self-serving politicians, and others are wrong about our breeding ourselves off the face of the planet? From Ehrlich on, they have been peddling a worst-case scenario–times ten.

== Vedic Perspective ==
“According to the Vedas, population experts are wrong in their crucial assumption that earth cannot supply the needs of a large population. If people are God conscious, there is virtually no limit to the population the earth can comfortably support.”

One of the myths most strongly entrenched in the modern mind is that birth control is necessary because of the threat of overpopulation. But His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON stated: “There is no scarcity for maintenance in the material world.” According to Srila Prabhupada, human society’s leadership “is disturbed about the food situation and, to cover up the real fact of administrative mismanagement, takes shelter in the plea that the population is excessively increasing” (Bhag. 3.5.5, purport).

The world is far from being overpopulated. A simple calculation shows that all five billion men, women, and children on earth could be placed within the 267,339 square miles of the state of Texas, with each person occupying about fifteen hundred square feet of space.

But what about food? A study by the University of California’s Division of Agricultural Science shows that by practicing the best agricultural methods now in use, the world’s farmers could raise enough food to provide an American style diet for ten times the present population. And if people would be satisfied with an equally nourishing but mostly vegetarian diet, we could feed thirty times the present population.

== Manage your resources ==
Studies of an African famine in the early 1970’srevealed that every country affected had within its borders the agricultural resources to feed its people. As Frances Moore Lappe points out in her well-researched book Food First, much of the best land was being misused for production of exportable cash crops.

Srila Prabhupada went on to say, “I have traveled to Africa, Australia, and America, and everywhere there is so much land vacant. If we use it to produce food grains, then we can feed ten times as much population as at the present moment. There is no question of scarcity. The whole creation is so made by Krishna that everything is purnam, complete.”

Food resources are also wasted by improper diets. During his lecture in Mauritius, Srila Prabhupada said, “I have seen in the Western countries that they are growing food grains for the animals, and the food grains are eaten by the animals, and the animal is eaten by the man…. What are the statistics? The animals are eating food grains, but the same amount of food grains can be eaten by so many men.”

Such statistics do exist. Government figures show that about ninety percent of the edible grains harvested in the United States are fed to animals that are later killed for meat. But for every sixteen pounds of grain fed to beef cattle, only one pound of meat is produced.

Srila Prabhupada concluded, “If there were one government on the surface of the earth to handle the distribution of grain, there would be no question of scarcity, no necessity to open slaughterhouses, and no need to present false theories about overpopulation” (Bhag. 4.17.25, purport).

== The Genesis of the theory ==
The first person to sound the overpopulation alarm was the English economist Malthus (1766-1834), who calculated that population tends to increase much faster than the earth’s limited food supply. New farmland, of which there is only so much, said Malthus, can be brought into production only slowly and with great labor and careful planning, whereas—because of the constant pressure of sex desire—people will have as many children as they are able, unless they are checked. Therefore the population is almost always pushing the limit of available food, and suffering results. Malthus summarized this with his maxim that food production increases arithmetically, while population increases geometrically.

“That population has this constant tendency to increase beyond the means of subsistence,” states Malthus “… will sufficiently appear from a review of the different states of society in which man has existed.” But according to the Vedic viewpoint, the earth can produce an almost unlimited amount of life’s necessities. Restriction occurs not from overpopulation but from some other cause, namely the self-destructive attitudes and actions of the planet’s population.

The science of ecology has awakened us to a greater appreciation of how different organisms and natural resources are linked in complex interdependency, and how easily this interdependency can be disturbed—as in the case of acid rain, for example. While doing research for NASA, scientist Jim Lovelock concluded that the “earth’s living matter, air, oceans, and land surface form a complex system which can be seen as a single organism and which has the capacity to keep our planet a fit place for life.” He calls his hypothesis the “Gaia principle,” after the Greek goddess of the earth.

=== The Earth can give more ===
Lovelock himself, adhering to the principles of materialistic science, does not believe in a personified earth deity. But he does point out, “The concept of Mother Earth, or, as the Greeks called her long ago, Gaia, has been widely held throughout history and has been the basis of a belief which still coexists with the great religions.” The Vedic scriptures clearly state that the earth is the visible form of the goddess Bhumi, who restricts or increases her production according to the population’s level of spiritual consciousness.

“Therefore,” states Srila Prabhupada, “although there may be a great increase in population on the surface of the earth, if the people are exactly in line with God consciousness and are not miscreants, such a burden on the earth is a source of pleasure for her” (Bhag. 3.3.14, purport).

So according to the Vedas, Malthus and later population experts are wrong in n their crucial assumption that earth cannot supply the needs of a large population. If people are God conscious, there is virtually no limit to the population the earth can comfortably support.

== Fallacy of Birth control programs ==
Nevertheless, Malthus did have some valuable points to make about population control. He believed that the best solution was voluntary restraint from marriage—without “vice,” by which he meant any kind. of illicit sex whatsoever. Malthus specifically opposed free sex, which relies on abortion and contraception for population control. The dangers Malthus warned of have come to pass. Divorce, teenage suicide, child abuse, sex crimes—all are on the rise. Neglected children from broken homes fill the courts. In the face of the dangers from herpes, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases, many people—often out of fear for their lives—are limiting their promiscuity. In Africa, where in some countries promiscuity is rampant, far more people face death from AIDS than from starvation.

In his study of population in different parts of the world, Malthus took special note of India, where the process of moral restraint is recommended in the Vedic scriptures such as the Manu-samhita, the laws compiled by Manu, the forefather of mankind. Malthus noted, “In almost every part of the ordinances of Manu, sensuality of all kinds is strongly reprobated, and chastity inculcated as a religious duty.” Srila Prabhupada states, “We do not find in Vedic literatures that they ever used contraceptive methods…. The contraceptive method should be restraint in sex life…. If one is fortunate enough to have a good, conscientious wife, he can decide by mutual consultation that human life is meant for advancing in Krishna consciousness and not for begetting a large number of children” (Bhag. 4.27.6, purport).

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), a principal organizer of the modern birth control movement, once visited Gandhi in India and tried to persuade him to support a birth control program for his country. “He agreed,” wrote Sanger, “that no more than three or four children should be born to a family, but insisted that intercourse, therefore, should be restricted for the entire married life of the couple to three or four occasions.”

Sanger and her followers had more success with people of other religious backgrounds. The wives of some American Episcopal bishops once asked Sanger to convince their husbands about the necessity for legalized birth control. Sanger complied, and soon thereafter the bishops reversed their previous opposition. Although most Protestant and Jewish denominations approve birth control, the Catholic Church continues to oppose it. Despite much opposition from the laity—and some clergymen as well—the pope has maintained that sex other than for conception is sinful. Nevertheless, the Church still allows sex during the socalled safe period, as well as after menopause and for sterile persons. That contradiction is not present in the Vedic society—non-procreative sex is against the Vedic principles.

Is reincarnation just a belief? According to the Vedas, it is a fact each of us must face. Even Western science has turned up evidence (in research into out- of-body experiences and memories of past lives) that strongly suggests there is a conscious part of us that survives the death experience. We return, the Vedas explain, to suffer the reactions to the activities we performed in our previous life.

Srila Prabhupada therefore warns, “Illicit sex creates pregnancies, and these unwanted pregnancies lead to abortion. Those involved become implicated in these sins, so much so that they are punished in the same way the nextlife. Thus in the next life they also enter the womb of a mother and are killed in the same way” (Bhag. 5.4.9, purport).

Because the soul is eternal, the soul denied birth by contraception and abortion does not die; he simply enters into another womb. Birth control is thus a total failure because it doesn’t prevent birth. It only brings suffering for everyone involved. To protect ourselves from the harsh reactions to illicit sex, the Vedic literature proposes sexual restraint.

== The Natural Way ==
Baron Dawson of Penn, the court physician of Edward VII and George V, who in a speech at a congress of the Anglican Church answered the proposition by the Anglican bishops that sexual activity should be restricted to that necessary for procreation. “Imagine a young married couple in love with each other,” said Dawson, “being expected to occupy the same room and to abstain for two years. The thing is preposterous. You might as well put water by the side of a man suffering from thirst and tell him not to drink it.” But what if, besides the waterpot, there were a pot of divine nectar? By drinking the nectar, the man could abstain from drinking the water and yet become relieved not only of his thirst but of all his suffering and experience a superior pleasure. In other words, if one experiences the superior pleasure of spiritual life, one can forego the lower pleasure of sex.

Because people have generally not experienced such higher pleasure, they must be attached to sexual pleasure, especially since we live in a culture where everyone is exposed to intense sexual propaganda. The Vedic civilization, however, strongly emphasizes [[Brahmacharya|brahmacarya]], or celibacy, and formerly every child was expected to spend the first twenty or so years of life as a celibate student of the spiritual science of God consciousness.

This celibacy was not, however, a denial of the individual’s innate desire for pleasure. Rather, giving up the lower pleasures of the sexual urge was merely a precondition for experiencing the higher, transcendental pleasures of the soul’s spiritual love for God, who is known as Krishna, the reservoir of all pleasure.

In an atmosphere of sexual license, pregnancy is often regarded as an unwanted by-product that greatly decreases the value of sexual pleasure. The remedy that Sanger and her followers favored was contraception, rather than abortion. Sanger felt that abortion is violent, whereas contraception is somehow different. But contraception is simply a less obvious act of violence. Most contraceptive methods work on the principle of making the womb uninhabitable, by physical or chemical means, for the fertilized egg. This is actually another type of murder, operating at an earlier stage than abortion, because even at this very early stage, according to the Vedas, the soul has already been introduced into the egg.

Other methods of contraception aim at stopping either the sperm or egg from reaching the point of conception. But whether the method involves obstruction or destruction, the result is the same. “Contraception deteriorates the womb so that it no longer is a good place for the soul,” warns Srila Prabhupada.

“That is against the order of God. By the order of God, a soul is sent to a particular womb, but by this contraceptive he is denied that womb and has to be placed in another. That is disobedience to the Supreme. For example, take a man who is supposed to live in a particular apartment. If the situation there is so disturbed that he cannot enter the apartment, then he is put at a great disadvantage. That is illegal interference and is punishable” (The Science of Self-Realization, pp. 49-50).

Such methods of birth control are now prominent all over the world. Reversing this situation is going to be a difficult battle, but important skirmishes are already being won. All around the world, thousands of married couples have adopted the Krishna conscious principle of voluntarily restraining from sex except for procreation, and many more thousands of single men and women have opted for total celibacy, either permanently or until they marry.

The Vedic system of birth control does not mean no sex and fewer people, but sex according to spiritual principles—and better people, be they few or many. In this regard, Malthus made a point worth noting: “I have never considered any possible increase of population as an evil, except as far as it might increase the proportion of vice and misery.” If the increasing population is of good character, there will naturally be a desirable decrease in vice and misery.

But how do we insure good population? According to the Vedas, the consciousness of the parents at the time of conception determines the quality of the child. Srila Prabhupada advises, “The birth of a human being is a great science, and therefore reformation of the act of impregnation according to the Vedic ritual called garbhadhana-samskara is very important for generating good population. The problem is not to check the growth of the population, but to generate good population…. So-called birth control is not only vicious but also useless” (Bhag. 3.5.19, purport).

Srila Prabhupada further states, “This material world is created to give the conditioned souls a chance … for going back home, back to Godhead, and therefore generation of the living being is necessary, … and as such one can even serve the Lord in the act of such sexual pleasure. The service is counted when the children born of such sexual pleasure are properly trained in God consciousness” (Bhag. 2.10.26, purport).

If the people are good, then no matter how numerous they are, they will be able to cooperate peacefully and, with the blessings of God, receive ample resources from Mother Earth. On the other hand, even a very limited population of bad character can make the planet into a hell. Selfish sex, aided by abortion, pills, condoms, and so on, is not going to make this world a happier place for anyone. People will continue in the cycle of birth and death, and the world will be a chaos of greed, anger, envy, and violence.

== References ==
# The Myth of Overpopulation by Drutakarma Dasa
#Steven Mosher’s book, Population Control—Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.
#[http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/why-is-the-human-population-ever-increasing Is the population really increasing?]
#[http://absolutetruth.in/2009/09/the-dangers-of-promiscuity/ Dangers of Promiscuity]

Compiled by [[Authors:Lndasa|LNDASA]]

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Decline of Indology in the West


Indology, which is the study of Indian history and culture from a Western perspective, is rapidly declining in the West under the impact of science and changed global conditions. Just as Max Müller represented Indology at its height, Michael Witzel symbolizes its current decadent state.

== Abstract ==
Indology may be defined as the study of Indian culture and history from a Western, particularly European perspective. The earliest Westerner to show an interest in India was the Greek historian Herodotus, followed by his successors like Megasthenes, Arrian, Strabo and others. This was followed by missionaries, traders and diplomats, often one and the same. With the beginning of European colonialism, Indology underwent a qualitative change, with what was primarily of trade and missionary interest to becoming a political and administrative tool. Some of the early Indologists like William Jones, H.T. Colebrook and others were employed by the East India Company, and later the British Government. Even academics like F. Max Müller were dependent on colonial governments and the support of missionaries. From the second half of the 19th century to the end of the Second World War, German nationalism played a major role in the shaping of Indological scholarship.

Much of the literature in Indology carries this politico-social baggage including colonial attitudes and stereotypes. The end of the Second World War saw also the end of European colonialism, beginning with India. Indology however was slow to change, and with minor modifications like seemingly dissociating itself from its racial legacy, the same theories and conclusions continued to be presented by Western Indologists. Towards the close of the twentieth century, first science and then globalization dealt serious blows to the discipline and its offshoots like Indo European Studies. This is reflected in the closure of established Indology programs in the West and the rise of new programs within and without academic centers driven mainly by science and primary literature.

The article will trace the origins, evolution and the devolution of Indology and the main contribution of the field and some of its key personalities.

== Background: Historiography ==
One of the striking features of the first decade of the present century (and millennium) is the precipitous decline of Indology and the associated field of Indo-European Studies. Within the last three years, the Sanskrit Department at Cambridge University and the Berlin Institute of Indology, two of the oldest and most prestigious Indology centers in the West, have shut down. The reason cited is lack of interest. At Cambridge, not a single student had enrolled for its Sanskrit or Hindi course.

Other universities in Europe and America are facing similar problems. The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, long a leader in Oriental Studies, is drastically cutting down on its programs. Even the Sanskrit Department at Harvard, one of the oldest and most prestigious in America, shut down its summer program of teaching Sanskrit to foreign students. It may be a harbinger of things to come that Francis X. Clooney and Anne E. Monius, both theologians with the Harvard Divinity School, are teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the Sanskrit Department. More seriously, they are also advising doctoral candidates.

Does this mean that the Harvard Sanskrit Department may eventually be absorbed into the Divinity School and lose its secular character? In striking contrast, the Classics Department which teaches Greek and Latin has no association with the Divinity School, despite the fact that Biblical studies can hardly exist without Greek and Latin. It serves to highlight the fact that Sanskrit is not and can never be as central to the Western Canon as Greek and Latin. It also means that Sanskrit Studies, or Indology, or whatever one may call it must seek an identity that is free of its colonial trappings. It was this colonial patronage in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries that sustained these programs. Their slide into the fringes of academia is a reflection of the changed conditions following the end of colonialism.

Coming at a time when worldwide interest in India is the highest in memory, it points to structural problems in Indology and related fields like Indo-European Studies. Also, the magnitude of the crisis suggests that the problems are fundamental and just not a transient phenomenon. What is striking is the contrast between this gloomy academic scene and the outside world. During my lecture tours in Europe, Australia and the United States, I found no lack of interest, especially among the youth. Only they are getting what they want from programs outside academic departments, in cultural centers like the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, temples, and short courses and seminars conducted by visiting lecturers (like this writer).

This means the demand is there, but academic departments are being bypassed. Even for learning Sanskrit, there are now innovative programs like those offered by Samskrita Bharati that teach in ten intensive yet lively sessions more than what students learn in a semester of dry lectures. The same is true of other topics related to India— history, yoga, philosophy and others. And this interest is by no means limited to persons of Indian origin. What has gone wrong with academic Indology, and can it be reversed?

To understand the problem today it is necessary to visit its peculiar origins. Modern Indology began with Sir William Jones’s observation in 1784 that Sanskrit and European languages were related. Jones was a useful linguist but his main job was to interpret Indian law and customs to his employers, the British East India Company. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as interpreters of India continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such eminent figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller sought and enjoyed the patronage of the ruling powers.

Indologists’ role as interpreters of India ended with independence in 1947, but many Indologists, especially in the West failed to see the writing on the wall. They continued to get students from India, which seems to have lulled them into believing that it would be business as usual. But today, six decades later, Indian immigrants and persons of Indian origin occupy influential positions in business, industry and now the government in the United States and Britain. They are now part of the establishment in their adopted lands. No one in the West today looks to Indology departments for advice on matters relating to India when they can get it from their next door neighbor or an office colleague. In this era of globalization, India and Indians are not the exotic creatures they were once seen to be.

This means the Indologist’s position as interpreter of India to the West, and sometimes even to Indians, is gone for good. But this alone cannot explain why their Sanskrit and related programs are also folding. To understand this we need to look further and recognize that new scientific discoveries are impacting Indology in ways that could not be imagined even twenty years ago. This is nothing new. For more than a century, the foundation of Indology had been linguistics, particularly Sanskrit and Indo-European languages. While archaeological discoveries of the Harappan civilization forced Indologists to take this hard data also into their discipline, they continued to use their linguistic theories in interpreting new data. In effect, empirical data became subordinate to theory, the exact reverse of the scientific approach.

These often forced interpretations of hard data from archaeology and even literature were far from convincing and undermined the whole field including linguistics of which Sanskrit studies was seen as a part. The following examples highlight the mismatch between their theories and data. Scholars ignored obvious Vedic symbols like: svasti and the om sign found in Harappan archaeology; the clear match between descriptions of flora and fauna in the Vedic literature and their depictions in Harappan iconography; and also clear references to maritime activity and the oceans in the Vedic literature while their theories claimed that the Vedic people who composed the literature were from a land-locked region and totally ignorant of the ocean. Such glaring contradictions between their theories and empirical data could not but undermine the credibility of the whole field.

All this didn’t happen overnight: Harappan archaeology posed challenges to colonial Indological model of ancient India, built around the [[Aryan_Invasion_Theory|Aryan invasion model]] nearly a century ago. But the challenge was ignored because the political authority that supported Western Indologists and their theories did not disappear until 1950, while its academic influence lingered on for several more decades. It is only now, long after the disappearance of colonial rule that academic departments in the West are beginning to feel the heat.

== Colonial Indology ==
Modern Indology may be said to have begun with Sir William Jones, a Calcutta judge in the service of the East India Company. One can almost date the birth of Indology to February 12, 1784, the day on which Jones observed:

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure; more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source…

With this superficial, yet influential observation, Jones launched two fields of study in Western academics— philology (comparative linguistics) and Indo-European Studies including Indology. The ‘common source,’ variously called Indo-European, Proto Indo-European, Indo-Germanische and so forth has been the Holy Grail of philologists. The search for the common source has occupied philologists for the greater part of two hundred years, but the goal has remained elusive, more of which later.

Jones was a linguist with scholarly inclinations but his job was to interpret Indian law and customs to his employer— the British East India Company in its task of administering its growing Indian territories. In fact, this was what led to his study of Sanskrit and its classics. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as official interpreters of India to the ruling authorities continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such highly regarded figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller enjoyed the support and sponsorship of the ruling powers. It was their means of livelihood and they had to ensure that their masters were kept happy.

Though Jones was the pioneer, the dominant figure of colonial Indology was Max Müller, an impoverished German who found fame and fortune in England. While a scholar of great if undisciplined imagination, his lasting legacy has been the confusion he created by conflating race with language. He created the mythical Aryans that Indologists have been fighting over ever since. Scientists repeatedly denounced it, but Indologists were, and some still are, loathe to let go of it. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great biologists of the twentieth century summed up the situation from a scientific point of view:

In 1848 the young German scholar Friedrich Max Müller (1823 – 1900) settled in Oxford where he remained for the rest of his life… About 1853 he introduced into English usage the unlucky term Aryan, as applied to a large group of languages. His use of this Sanskrit word contains in itself two assumptions— one linguistic,… the other geographical. Of these the first is now known to be erroneous and the second now regarded as probably erroneous. [Sic: Now known to be definitely wrong.] Nevertheless, around each of these two assumptions a whole library of literature has arisen.

Moreover, Max Müller threw another apple of discord. He introduced a proposition that is demonstrably false. He spoke not only of a definite Aryan language and its descendants, but also of a corresponding ‘Aryan race’. The idea was rapidly taken up both in Germany and in England…

In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature… In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions. (Emphasis added.)

These ‘special conditions’ were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to Nazi horrors is well known. The less known fact is how the British turned it into a political and propaganda tool to make Indians accept British rule. A recent BBC report acknowledged as much (October 6, 2005):

It [[Aryan_Invasion_Theory|Aryan invasion model]] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.

That is to say, the British presented themselves as ‘new and improved Aryans’ that were in India only to complete the work left undone by their ancestors in the hoary past. This is how the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin put it in the House of Commons in 1929:

Now, after ages, …the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry have again been brought together by Providence… By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, “I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation, …it is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are…”

Baldwin was only borrowing a page from the Jesuit missionary Robert de Nobili (1577 – 1656) who presented Christianity as a purer form of the Vedic religion to attract Hindu converts. Now, 300 years later, Baldwin and the British were telling Indians: “We are both Aryans but you have fallen from your high state, and we, the British are here to lift you from your fallen condition.” It is surprising that few historians seem to have noticed the obvious similarity.

In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that many of the ‘scholars’ of Indology should have had missionary links. In fact, one Colonel Boden even endowed a Sanskrit professorship at Oxford to facilitate the conversion of the natives to Christianity. (H.H. Wilson was the first Boden Professor followed by Monier Williams. Max Müller who coveted the position never got it. He remained bitter about it to the end of his life.)

It is widely held that Max Müller turned his back on his race theories when he began to insist that Aryan refers to language and never a race. The basis for this belief is the following famous statement he made in 1888.

I have declared again and again that if I say Aryan, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor skull nor hair; I mean simply those who speak the Aryan language. … To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan blood, Aryan race, Aryan eyes and hair is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.

What lay behind this extraordinary vehemence from a man noted for his mild language? Was there something behind this echo of the Shakespearean “Methinks the lady doth protest too much”?

Huxley attributes Max Müller’s change of heart to the advice of his scientist friends. This is unlikely. To begin with, the science needed to refute his racial ideas did not exist at the time. Moreover, Max Müller didn’t know enough science to understand it even if it were explained it to him. The reasons for his flip flop, as always with him, were political followed by concern for his position in England, not necessarily in that order.

A closer examination of the record shows that Max Müller made the switch from race to language not in 1888 but in 1871. That incidentally was the year of German unification following Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War. Thereby hangs a tale.1

For more than twenty years, from 1848 to 1871, Max Müller had been a staunch German nationalist arguing for German unification. He was fond of publicity and made no secret of his political leanings in numerous letters and articles in British and European publications. German nationalists of course had embraced the notion of the Aryan nation and looked to scholars like Max Müller to provide intellectual justification. He was more than willing to cooperate.

Things changed almost overnight when Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War leading to German unification under the Prussian banner. From a fragmented landscape of petty principalities, Germany became the largest and most powerful country in Europe and Britain’s strongest adversary. There was near hysteria in British Indian circles that Sanskrit studies had brought about German unification as the mighty ‘Aryan Nation’. Sir Henry Maine, a member of the Viceroy’s Council went so far as so claim “A nation has been born out of Sanskrit!”

The implication was clear, what happened in Germany could happen also in India, leading to a repeat of 1857 but with possibly a different result. All this was hysteria of the moment, but Max Müller the Aryan Sage, and outspoken German Nationalist faced a more immediate problem: how to save his position at Oxford? He had to shed his political baggage associated with the Aryan race and the Aryan Nation to escape any unfriendly scrutiny by his British patrons.

He could of course have gone along quietly but Max Müller being Max Müller, he had to strike a dramatic pose and display his new avatar as a staunch opponent of Aryan theories. In any event he was too much of a celebrity to escape unnoticed, any more than Michael Witzel or Romila Thapar could in our own time. So, within months of the proclamation of the German Empire (18 January 1871) Friedrich Max Müller marched into a university in Strasburg in German occupied France (Alsace) and dramatically denounced what he claimed were distortions of his old theories. He insisted that they were about languages and race had nothing to do with them.

He may have rejected his errors, but his followers, including many quacks and crackpots kept invoking his name in support of their own ideas. The climate in Oxford turned unfriendly and many former friends began to view him with suspicion. In fact, the situation became so bad that in 1875, he seriously contemplated resigning his position at Oxford and returning to Germany. Though there have been claims that this was because he was upset over the award of an honorary degree to his rival Monier-Williams, the more probable explanation is the discomfort resulting from his German nationalist past in the context of the changed situation following German unification.

The specter of Max Müller looms large over the colonial period of Indology though he is unknown in Germany today and all but forgotten in England. In fact his father Wilhem Müller, a very minor German poet is better known: a few of his poems were set to music by the great composer Franz Schubert. In his own time, Germans despised him for having turned his back on the ‘Aryan race’ to please his British masters. Indians though still revere him though no one today takes his theories seriously. One can get and idea of how he was seen by his contemporaries and immediate successors from the entry in the eleventh edition (1911) of the Encyclopædia Britannica:

Though undoubtedly a great scholar, Max Müller did not so much represent scholarship pure and simple as her hybrid types— the scholar-author and the scholar-courtier. In the former capacity, though manifesting little of the originality of genius, he rendered vast service by popularizing high truths among high minds [and among the highly placed]. …There were drawbacks in both respects: the author was too prone to build on insecure foundations, and the man of the world incurred censure for failings which may perhaps be best indicated by the remark that he seemed too much of a diplomatist.

His contemporaries were less charitable. They charged that Max Müller had an eye “only for crowned heads.” His acquaintances included a large number of princes and potentates—with little claim to scholarship—with a maharaja or two thrown in. He was fortunate that the British monarchy was of German origin (Hanoverian) and Queen Victoria’s husband a German prince (Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). It was these more than fellow scholars that he cultivated. It proved valuable for his career, if not scholarship, for he had little difficulty in getting sponsors for his ambitious projects. He lived and died a rich man, drawing from his rival William Dwight Whitney the following envious if tasteless remark: 2

He has had his reward. No man was before ever so lavishly paid, in money and in fame, even for the most unexceptional performance of such a task. For personal gratitude in addition, there is not the slightest call. If Müller had never put his hand to the Veda, his fellow-students would have had the material they needed perhaps ten years earlier, and Vedic studies would be at the present moment proportionately advanced. …The original honorarium, of about £500 a volume, is well-nigh or quite unprecedented in the history of purely scholarly enterprises; and the grounds on which the final additional gift of £2000 was bestowed have never been made public.

Max Müller’s career illustrates how Indology and Sanskrit studies in the West have always been associated with politics at all levels. He was by no means the only ‘diplomatist’ scholar gracing colonial Indology, only the most successful. It is remarkable that though his contributions are all but forgotten, his political legacy endures. His successors in Europe and America have been reduced to play politics at a much lower level, but in India, his theories have had unexpected fallout in the rise of Dravidian politics. It is entirely proper that while his scholarly works (save for translations) have been consigned to the dustbin of history, his legacy endures in politics. This may prove to be true of Indology as a whole as an academic discipline.

== Post colonial scene ==

The post colonial era may conveniently be dated to 1950. In 1947 India became free and the great Aryan ‘Thousand Year Reich’ lay in ashes. In Europe at least the word Aryan came to acquire an infamy comparable to the word Jihadi today. Europeans, Germans in particular, were anxious to dissociate themselves from it. But there remained a residue of pre-war Indology (and associated race theories) that in various guises succeeded in establishing itself in academic centers mainly in the United States. Its most visible spokesman in recent times has been one Michael Witzel, a German expatriate like Max Müller, teaching in the Sanskrit Department at Harvard University in the United States. In an extraordinary replay of Max Müller’s political flip-flops Witzel too is better known for his political and propaganda activities than any scholarly contributions. Witzel’s recent campaigns, from attempts to introduce Aryan theories in California schools to his ill-fated tour of India where his scholarly deficiencies were exposed in public highlight the dependence of Indology on politics.

While the field of Indo-European Studies has been struggling to survive on the fringes of academia, lately it has become the subject critical analysis by scholars in Europe and America. Unlike Indians who treat the field and its practitioners with a degree of respect, European scholars have not hesitated to call a spade a spade, treating it as a case of pathological scholarship with racist links to Nazi ideology. This may be attributed to the fact that Europeans have seen and experienced its horrors while Indians have only read about it.

In a remarkable article, “Aryan Mythology As Science And Ideology” (Journal of the American Academy of Religion1999; 67: 327-354) the Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson raises the question: “Today it is disputed whether or not the downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with ‘Aryan’ religions.” We may rephrase the question: “Did the end of the Nazi regime put an end to race based theories in academia?”

An examination of several humanities departments in the West suggests otherwise: following the end of Nazism, academic racism may have undergone a mutation but did not entirely disappear. Ideas central to the Aryan myth resurfaced in various guises under labels like Indology and Indo-European Studies. This is clear from recent political, social and academic episodes in places as far apart as Harvard University and the California State Board of Education. But there was an interregnum of sorts before Aryan theories again raised their heads in West.

Two decades after the end of the Nazi regime, racism underwent another mutation as a result of the American Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Americans were made to feel guilty about their racist past and the indefensible treatment of African Americans. U.S. academia also changed accordingly and any discourse based on racial stereotyping became taboo. Soon this taboo came to be extended to Native Americans, Eskimos and other ethnic groups.

In this climate of seeming liberal enlightenment, one race theory continued to flourish as if nothing had changed. Theories based on the Aryan myth that formed the core of Nazi ideology continued in various guises, as previously noted, in Indology and Indo-European Studies. Though given a linguistic and sometimes a cultural veneer, these racially sourced ideas continue to enjoy academic respectability in such prestigious centers as Harvard and Chicago.

Being a European transplant, its historical trajectory was different from the one followed by American racism. Further, unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which had mass support, academic racism remained largely confined to academia. This allowed it to escape public scrutiny for several decades until it clashed with the growing Hindu presence in the United States. Indians, Hindus in particular saw Western Indology and Indo-European Studies as a perversion of their history and religion and a thinly disguised attempt to prejudice the American public, especially the youth, against India and Hinduism to serve their academic interests.

The fact that Americans of Indian origin are among the most educated group ensured that their objections could not be brushed away by ‘haughty dismissals’ as the late historian of science Abraham Seidenberg put it. Nonetheless, scholars tried to use academic prestige as a bludgeon in forestalling debate, by denouncing their adversaries as ignorant chauvinists and bigots unworthy of debate. But increasingly, hard evidence from archaeology, natural history and genetics made it impossible to ignore the objections of their opponents, many of whom (like this writer) were scientists. But in November 2005, there came a dramatic denouement, in, of all places, California schools. Academics suddenly found it necessary to leave their ivory towers and fight it out in the open, in full media glare— and under court scrutiny.

It is unnecessary to go into the details of the now discredited campaign by Michael Witzel and his associates trying to stop the removal of references to the Aryans and their invasion from California school books. What is remarkable is that a senior tenured professor at Harvard of German origin should concern himself with how Hinduism is taught to children in California. Witzel is a linguist, but he presumed to tell California schools how Hinduism should be taught to children. It turned out that Hinduism was only a cover, and his concern was saving the Aryan myth from being erased from books.

Ever since he moved to Harvard from Germany, Witzel has seen the fortunes of his department and his field, gradually sink into irrelevance. Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in the field of Indo-European Studies. As previously noted, several ‘Indology’ departments—as they are sometimes called—are shutting down across Europe. One of the oldest and most prestigious, at Cambridge University in England, has just closed down. This was followed by the closure of the equally prestigious Berlin Institute of Indology founded way back in 1821. Positions like the one Witzel holds (Wales Professor of Sanskrit) were created during the colonial era to serve as interpreters of India. They have lost their relevance and are disappearing from academia. This was the real story, not teaching Hinduism to California children.

Witzel’s California misadventure appears to have been an attempt to somehow save his pet Aryan theories from oblivion by making it part of Indian history and civilization in the school curriculum. Otherwise, it is hard to see why a senior, tenured professor at Harvard should go to all this trouble, lobbying California school officials to have its Grade VI curriculum changed to reflect his views.

To follow this it is necessary to go beyond personalities and understand the importance of the Aryan myth to Indo-European Studies. The Aryan myth is a European creation. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. The campaign against Hinduism was a red herring to divert attention from the real agenda, which was and remains saving the Aryan myth. Collapse of the Aryan myth means the collapse of Indo-European studies. This is what Witzel and his colleagues are trying to avert. For them it is an existential struggle.

Americans and even Indians for the most part are unaware of the enormous influence of the Aryan myth on European history and imagination. Central to Indo-European Studies is the belief—it is no more than a belief—that Indian civilization was created by an invading race of ‘Aryans’ from an original homeland somewhere in Eurasia or Europe. This is the [[Aryan_Invasion_Theory|Aryan invasion model]] dear to Witzel and his European colleagues, and essential for their survival. According to this theory there was no civilization in India before the Aryan invaders brought it— a view increasingly in conflict with hard evidence from archaeology and natural history.

In this academic and political conundrum it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Aryan myth is a modern European creation. It has little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but it seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community. It later became an honorific and a form of address, something like ‘Gentleman’ in English or ‘Monsieur’ in French. Also, it was nowhere as important in India as it came to be in Europe. In the whole the Rig Veda, in all of its ten books, the word Arya appears only about forty times. In contrast, Hitler’s Mein Kampf uses the term Arya and Aryan many times more. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air— in Europe, not India.3

It is interesting to contrast Witzel’s political campaigns against Max Müller’s. Where Max Müller hobnobbed with Indian and European aristocracy including princes and Maharajas, Witzel has had to content himself waiting on California schoolteachers and bureaucrats. These were his masters who held the keys to his career and reputation. It may be no more than a reflection of changed circumstances and the loss of power and prestige of the aristocracy but the contrasts are nonetheless striking.

No less striking is the contrast between their legacy and reputation. While we may look at Max Müller’s foibles and failures with amused tolerance and appreciate his monumental work in compiling the fifty-volume Sacred Books of the East, Witzel’s name is unlikely to command any respect much less affection. In addition to his support for the Aryan theories and the California campaign, Witzel is known for his association with the notorious Indo-Eurasian Research (IER), which has been accused of a hate campaign against the Hindus.

An article that appeared the New Delhi daily The Pioneer (December 25, 2005) began: “Boorish comments denigrating India, Hindus and Hinduism by a self-proclaimed ‘Indologist’ who is on the faculty of Harvard University has unleashed a fierce debate over the increasing political activism of ’scholars’ who teach at this prestigious American university. Prof Michael Witzel, Wales professor of Sanskrit at Harvard, is in the centre of the storm because he tried to prevent the removal of references to India, Hinduism and Sikhism in the curriculum followed by schools in California which parents of Indian origin found to be inadequate, inaccurate or just outright insensitive.”

The author of The Pioneer article (Kanchan Gupta) went on to observe: “Witzel declared Hindu-Americans to be “lost” or “abandoned”, parroting anti-Semite slurs against Jewish people. Coincidence or symptom? Witzel’s fantasies are ominously reminiscent of WWII German genocide. He says that ‘Since they won’t be returning to India, [Hindu immigrants to the USA] have begun building crematoria as well. … Witzel demeans the daughters of Indian-American parents, who take the trouble to learn their heritage through traditional art forms. In the worst of racist slander, Witzel claims that Indian classical music and dance reflect low moral standards.”

One cannot imagine any publication today, let alone in India, write in this vein about Max Müller, whatever one may feel about his politics and scholarship. Nor can one imagine Max Müller write in the style of Witzel about India or anyone else.

It must be recorded that Max Müller was emphatically not a racist. He was also a man of exemplary humility in dealing with fellow scholars. In a letter to the Nepalese scholar and Sanskrit poet Pandit Chavilal (undated but written probably just before 1900) Max Müller wrote:

I am surprised at your familiarity with Sanskrit. We [Europeans] have to read but never to write Sanskrit. To you it seems as easy as English or Latin to us… We can admire all the more because we cannot rival, and I certainly was filled with admiration when I read but a few pages of your Sundara Charita.

This reflects great credit on Max Müller as a scholar. One has to wonder if his present day counterparts are capable of such exemplary humility. Certainly none was in evidence during Michael Witzel’s recent disastrous lecture tour of India where he was severely embarrassed by schoolchildren and scholars alike, where he was shown to be completely at sea with basic rules of Sanskrit grammar. More than a hundred years ago, Max Müller declined invitations to visit India probably because he sensed that a similar fate awaited him. He chose discretion over bravado.

The decline from Max Müller to Witzel serves as a metaphor for the decline of Indology itself in our time.

== State of Sanskrit studies in the West ==

In recent months there have been cries of ‘Sanskrit in danger of disappearing’ from Sanskrit professors and other Indologists in Western academia. This is certainly true in their own case, but their next claim that they need more funding (what else?) to reverse the decline must be taken with a large grain of salt. Sanskrit existed and flourished for thousands of years before Indology and Indologists came into existence, and will no doubt continue to exist without them. If Sanskrit ever faces extinction, it will be for reasons of social and political developments in India and not due to lack of funds for Indologists in the West. They can no more save Sanskrit than Indian scholars can save classical Greek.

We may now take a moment to assess the contribution of Western Sanskritists from an Indian perspective. For those who believe that Western scholarship has made a major contribution to Sanskrit, such people are not limited to the West, here is an objective measure to consider: Indians began studying English (and other European languages) about the same time that Europeans began their study of Sanskrit. Many Indians have attained distinction as writers in English. But there is not a single piece in Sanskrit—not even a shloka (verse)—by a Western Sanskritist that has found a place in any anthology. This was acknowledged by no less an authority than Max Müller in passage quoted at the end of the previous section.

These are not the people who can ‘save’ Sanskrit, even if it needs to be saved. Sanskrit is India’s responsibility just as Greek and Latin are Europe’s. Let them study Sanskrit just as Indians should study Greek, but it is too much to expect a few sanctuaries in the West protect and nurture a great and ancient tradition when they are having a hard time saving themselves.

The principal contribution of the West has been in bringing out editions of ancient works like the Rigveda and translations like Max Müller’s monumental fifty volume Sacred Books of the East. These too have their limitations.

== Summary and conclusions ==

We may now conclude that that Western Indology is in steep decline and may well become extinct in a generation. The questions though go beyond Indology. Sanskrit is the foundation of Indo-European Studies. If Sanskrit departments close, what will take their place? Will these departments now teach Icelandic, Old Norse or reconstructed Proto Indo-European? Will they attract students? Can Indo-European Studies survive without Sanskrit? A more sensible course would be for Indian and Western scholars to collaborate and build an empirically based study of ancient Indian and European languages— free of dogma and free of politics.

A basic problem is that for reasons that have little to do with objective scholarship, Indologists have been trying to remove Sanskrit from the special space it occupies in the study of Indo-European languages and replace it something called Proto-Indo-European of PIE. This is like replacing Hebrew with a hypothetical Proto-Semitic language in Biblical Studies. This PIE has literally proven to be a pie in the sky and the whole field is now on the verge of collapse. The resulting vacuum has to be filled by a scholarship that is both sound and empirical, based on existing languages like Sanskrit, Greek and the like. Additionally, Indian scholars will have look more to the east and search for linguistic and other links to the countries and cultures of Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and others that have historic ties to India of untold antiquity.

== References ==
[1]This is explained in more detail in this writer’s The Politics of History and also in Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization, Third Edition, by Navaratna Rajaram and David Frawley, both published by Voice of India, New Delhi. Some recent developments may be found in Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization by N.S. Rajaram, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi. For the record the full name of Max Müller was Friedrich Maximillian Müller, but he is better known as Max Müller, the name used also by his descendants.

[2]Max Müller’s aristocratic Indian friends included the Raja of Venkatagiri (who partly financed his edition of the Rigveda) as well as Dwarakanath Tagore, the grandfather of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath. When Max Müller was a struggling scholar in Paris, Tagore helped him with Sanskrit as well as financially. He knew also British and European nobility having met Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In his early years his patrons included Dwarakanath Tagore and Baron Bunsen, the Prussian Ambassador to Britain. It is a tribute to Max Müller’s personality and liberal character that he could attract the friendship of such a wide range of people.

[3] It should be noted that the Nazis appropriated their ideas and symbols from European mythology, not India. Hitler’s Aryans worshipped Apollo and Odin, not Vedic deities like Indra and Varuna. His Swastika was also the European ‘Hakenkreuz’ or hooked cross and not the Indian svasti symbol. It was seen in Germany for the first time when General von Luttwitz’s notorious Erhardt Brigade marched into Berlin from Lithuania in support of the abortive Kapp Putsch of 1920. The Erhardt Brigade was one of several freebooting private armies during the years following Germany’s defeat in World War I. They had the covert support of the Wehrmacht (Army headquarters).

[4]

by [[wikipedia:N._S._Rajaram|N.S.Rajaram]]

An Interfaith dialogue with Islam


== An interfaith dialogue on Hinduism and Islam ==
On 2nd may, we had an invitation at the [http://salaamcentre.org Salaam center] which is a center for Islamic studies in Jayanagar, Bangalore. ABTN members Mr Vijay Venugopal and Mr Narasimha Rao along with four other members received a warm welcome exactly at 10:30 a.m. Mr Wahid invited the guests Mr Vijay Venugopal , Mr Omer Sheriff and speakers Mr Narasimha Rao and Mr Khrushid on the dias. The event began with a recitation from the Holy Quran. Then the host introduced the speakers and guests. And called upon Mr Vijay Venugopal to speak.

== ABTN chief guest speaks ==
Mr Vijay Venugopal recalled his stay in Oman where he had many such discussions with his Islamic colleagues. He put forward a strong case for mutual friendly co-existence based on tolerance and mutual respect. He said that there could be differences and we need to learn to tolerate the differences to live harmoniously. Each person is an individual spirit soul. We are accustomed to identifying every person with the label that is attached to him, like Hindu, Muslim, Indian and Pakistani etc. We need to come out of these labels and identify ourselves with the individual spirit soul a servant of God.

There are various similarities that exist in the both religions. There is one God and that we need to serve him. There are regulative principles like no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling. Meat eating is regulated in both the religions. In Hinduism, one can offer a goat and not any other animal if he desperately wants to [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/meat-eating-in-vedic-scriptures eat meat]. In Islam, there is the concept of halal.

Various differences exist among the two religious sects. The major differences that exist are in related to reincarnation and cow killing. He also explained how cow killing as an evil In Hinduism. Cow feeds all humans with her milk and so it is given the position of a mother. So once she stops giving milk she should not be slaughtered. And there are various quotations from the holy vedas that prohibit [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/the-importance-of-the-cow-in-vedic-culture cow slaughter].

We should learn to accept these differences and learn to develop harmony on this basis and we should not let the extremists elements use us. In fact we should focus on other people outside who are not even following the any of these basic regulative principles. The differences between us and atheistic people are more severe than the differences among ourselves and so we need to arrive at a harmony. With this he created a perfect setting for an honest interfaith dialogue.

== Muslim scholar speaks ==
After Mr Vijay Venugopal ended his talk, the host introduced Mr Umer Sheriff (in picture) and invited him to talk. Mr Omer Sheriff spoke on the following points:

We should agree to disagree on certain points. In essence we should accept that there are differences and we disagree on certain points. He also mentioned that there is only one God and that is Allah. Also He spoke on Prophet Muhammad as the last Prophet who has come to deliver the Holy Quran. So he stressed the acceptance of Quran as a book for mankind.

Talking on cow killing. He referred to Mohandas Gandhi’s book and the works of Swami Vivekananda, He tried to establish that cow killing was common in Hinduism and since the spread of Buddhism and Jainism, the killing of cows has been reduced and now Hinduism doesn’t accept killing of cows. (This was later answered by Mr Narasimha Rao that all such misconceptions are due to lack of proper understanding of Vedas. The vedas clearly [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/the-importance-of-the-cow-in-vedic-culture prohibit] cow slaughter). He also pointed out that there are thousands and thousands of sects in Hinduism and all of them have their cultural differences. So its difficult to take any one particular sect as reference for Hinduism. He also said this country has never been ruled by same people he said the Aryans once invaded and colonized and it is they who brought the Vedic scriptures. (This Aryan Invasion theory was later refuted by Mr Rao).So quite in contrast to the earlier speaker the tone and tenor was not in favor of finding a common ground .

== Fundamentals of Hinduism ==
by ”Mr Narasimha Rao”

Then the host invited Mr Narasimha Rao who was speaking on behalf of Hinduism. Mr Rao put forward the following points:
* Hinduism is the most misinterpreted religion. He explained the origin of the word Hindu which was coined by the Persians when they first came to India. They referred the people on the other side of the river Indus as Indu and from that came the word Hindu. Actually there is one Sanatana Dharma that is the eternal religion for all.
*Veda means knowledge and so the Vedas are essentially knowledge coming from the Supreme Lord Vishnu Himself. He said that the most important scriptures in Sanatana Dharma apart from the Vedas are the Upanishads, the Vedanta Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita they are called as ”Prashtana trya” and explained that anyone proposing a new philosophy based on vedas must comment on these three to establish their view and reconcile it with these scriptures. And by far only four personalities namely [[Shankaracharya|Shankara]], [[wikipedia:Ramanuja|Ramanuja]], [[wikipedia:Madhvacharya|Madhvacharya]] and [[wikipedia:Baladeva_Vidyabhushana|Baladeva]] have achieved this feat. All views purportedly from Vedic scriptures should be reconciled with entire Vedas otherwise the interpretation is void. Not that someone takes some verse that says that you can eat meat and establish that meat eating is permitted. He quoted from Sastras on how meat eating is regulated in sastras and cow killing is strictly [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/the-importance-of-the-cow-in-vedic-culture prohibited].
* He clearly established the hierarchy of scriptures in Vedas. The itihasas and puranas are integral part of the vedas as mentioned in upanishads. He also established Bhagavad Gita to be the essence of all upanishads hence the srutis and Bhagavatha Purana as the proper commentry on Vedanta Sutras, Mahabharata and Puranas. Hence that is the supreme authority especially in ths age of Kali yuga where we have only very few vedic scriptures extent.
*He explained atma-jnana or identity of the self is the first lesson in Hinduism. And all living entities have souls and are transmigrating different bodies. We have to learn about our self as atma and Krishna is paramatma who is ultimate all knowing all pervading supreme atma or paramatma who is a person as well.
*Then he explained about the concept of [http://absolutetruth.in/2008/12/life-and-afterlife-does-modern-science-have-it-right/ reincarnation], [http://absolutetruth.in/2009/12/how-free-are-we/ free will] and the [http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/3/9/en laws of Karma]. He explained about the differences that exist in living entities, how one is rich, one is poor, one is born with diseases etc. The reason for this is the Karmas they do and the merits and demerits they acquire. Based on that, they are rewarded and punished in subsequent lifetimes. He explained the Koran and Bible has no answers for such questions.
* Then explained about the different types of yoga, i.e. Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. said, Karma Yoga meant doing activities and offering the results to God. Jnana yoga means developing knowledge of God by reading the scriptures. But above all these is Bhakti Yoga which is performing devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
* The Vedas present a [http://absolutetruth.in/wiki/Category:Vedic_Science scientific approach] towards life and reality as [http://www.answering-islam.org/Campbell/s4c1.html opposed] to Quran which is just a bunch of do’s and don’ts that people need to follow which is anyway part of vedic metaphysics. And he also stated that Islam couldn’t explain the [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/questions-for-our-islamic-friends philosophical intricacies] that are explained in the Vedas. We believe that the [http://absolutetruth.in/2010/05/islam-a-religion-of-peace/#The_real_Prophet_Mohammad Prophet Muhammad] although aware didn’t mention about these because the circumstances and the audience were not ready for it. The Prophets come at different times according to desa, kala, patra and spread message according to the situation. For example Prophet Muhammad had to explain that no one should not have sexual relationship with one’s mother and sister. Such was the consciousness of the people in Arabia at that time. But Vedas are the eternal message of God coming from the breath of the Supreme Lord Mahavishnu’s breath as mentioned in the upanishads.
* Also he talked about the [http://www.stephen-knapp.com/recent_archeological_finds_confirming_Vedic_history.htm Vedic culture] was present all over the globe at least till the satya yuga but they moved out of Bharata varsha because of Lord Parasurama’s threat to Ksatriyas and after being cut off from the main stream they later evolved into some corrupted cultures in west asia, africa, america and other parts of the world. And in-order to reestablish sanity in society the Lord sent forth Jesus and Mohammad.To bring them to at least to the platform of humans from platform of animals. That was their primary role they gave an opportunity for those who were sub human to come to the level of humans. They may be able to promote themselves to heaven but salvation can be given only by Lord Mukunda the giver of liberation.
* He also exposed the myth of [http://absolutetruth.in/2009/10/vedic-roots-of-early-tamil-culture/ Aryan Invasion theory]. The British had invented this theory to create a division between North and South Indians. It has no truth in it. he questioned Mr Umer who hails from Tamil Nadu if he knew the history of Sri Vaishnavas who have a history of more than 5000 years of existence in South India and they were worshippers of Vishnu who is an Aryan God.
* The best part of his presentation was the he presented four books of [[Islam_and_Vedas|Dr Akif Manaf Jabir]] which established that God has [http://absolutetruth.in/wiki/Islam_and_Vedas#Hidden_Treasure_of_Al_Koran form] in Islam and the prophet’s emphasis on following [http://absolutetruth.in/wiki/Islam_and_Vedas#Vegetarianism_in_Islam vegetarianism]. Later in the Q&A Muslim scholars acknowledged that there is a possibility that Allah has a form.
Explaining these, Mr Narasimha Rao ended his talk. Mr Narasimha Rao explained the basics of Sanatana Dharma as explained in vedic scriptures at the same time giving due respects to the [http://absolutetruth.in/2010/05/islam-a-religion-of-peace/#The_real_Prophet_Mohammad Prophet] who was a genius misunderstood.

== ”Fundamentals of Islam” ==
”by Mr Khurshid ”

Then Mr Khurshid spoke about Islam. He explained quoting various references from Quran to establish the following points. He quoted ”isolated” references from Vedas apparently derived from talks of [http://agniveer.com/naik/ Dr Zakir Naik] to establish concurrence with Islam. We also present our views and reasoning most of which were presented later in the Q&A of the program.

*No mortal being can become God.
*He mentioned that Vedas never propagate Idol worship. He said that Vedas are the original supreme revelation and that other scriptures like the Upanishads, the Puranas are the works of various sages and so cannot be considered as an original reference.
** This was later refuted by Mr Narasimha Rao by qouting the vedic statements to prove that itihasas and puranas are also vedic pramanas. The puranas encourage [http://absolutetruth.in/2010/03/idol-worship-and-deity-worship/ deity worship] but condemn idol worship and the upanishads like Gopal Tapani upanishads also mention about the word [http://www.absolutetruth.in/docs/madhva/krishna_tattva.htm Krishna] and that he is the supreme person and he has a form.
**Mr Rao also quoted Bhagavatha Purana to prove that the Supreme Lord Krishna can be realized in three stages namely ”Brahman” or nirakara, nirvisesa formless which is inferior to ”Paramatma” or as an all pervading person with limited attributes and the ultimate being ”Bhagavan” or the Lord with all qualities and attributes. How can the Lord not have a form when mortal humans the he created have a form? He must have most beautiful of all forms hence the name ”Krishna” the ”all attractive”.
**Also it is interesting to note that Mr Khurshid who had earlier considered Puranas to be inferior qouted from the same to advocate similarities with Islam for example to prove existence of 21 hellish planets.
*The concept of life after death was not mentioned in Vedas either. It was later brought forward by various sages in the Puranas and Upanishads.
** Mr Rao later refuted this by saying all the Vedic quotations have multiple meanings that are comprehensible only to acaryas in parampara not for anyone to interpret. Also we can’t speak for entire Vedas because no one has access to entire Vedas as it is said only 6% is extant . He said this argument is invalid because reincarnation is described all over the scriptures and this approach is mischievous and far from truth. Puranas are valid sources they are said to be panchama veda in the upanishads.
He also spoke of the basic beliefs of Islam that are :
*Belief in monotheism
*Belief in the prophet hood of Prophet Muhammed(peace be upon Him) and
*Belief in the Life after death and the Day of Judgment.He explained about the concept of life after death. He explained that Islam believes that after death, a living entity needs to wait till the Day of Judgment. Then, the living entity is rewarded or punished based on the pious and impious activities.
** This came to serious question in Q&A as ABTN member asked that reincarnation is required to answer differences at time of birth, which Mr Khurshid answered this by saying it was just by chance and a test for individuals if they can believe in God in spite of all odds.
**ABTN members countered that it was illogical and [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/fallacy-of-final-judgement untenable] because it goes to say that all our suffering and happiness in this world has no cause but random tests by God.
He also quoted from the Quran and also from other pseudo vedic scholars to conveniently suit his arguments.
** This was refuted by Mr Rao because he argued neither they are from a parampara or a disciplic succession which alone could ensure proper vedic understanding nor have they commented on prashtana traya as explained above to prove their point.
*Mr Khurshid said Islam teaches only one God, Allah and anyone who accepts Islam alone can be liberated. He clarified at this point that Islam means submission to the will of the Lord and anyone who submits to the will of the Lord is a muslim and so is entitled for liberation.
**ABTN members mentioned Vedas also describe [http://vedabase.net/bg/15/15/ one God]. The Vedas are ultimate truth for all time to come past, present and future. So in principle, the followers of Sanatana Dharma are better Muslims than the so called muslims. Because in [http://vedabase.net/bg/18/66/ Bhagavad Gita] also Lord Krishna concludes that the prime duty of the soul is to surrender to Lord abandoning all varieties of religion.
*Belief that Quran is the final revelation and that Prophet Mohammad was the last prophet.
**ABTN members said perhaps it could be the final revelation in terms of time but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a complete revelation for all times to come.
** ABTN members said the Lord descends once in every yuga and other times he sends his selected representatives to deliver people. Many times such teachings are temporal subject to the time and situation. Prophet Mohammad had to mentioned few things like this this because people of his times were prone to concoct the teachings. It could have been said to prevent any change in the teachings or the followers taking to deviations. And there have been great saints after him like Ramanuja, Madhvacharya and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who have established clearly that the Supreme person is Krishna who also couls be called as Allah or Jehovah it doesn’t matter.
So in summary although some of the qoutations from Vedas were acceptable but rest of Mr Khurshid’s quotations from Vedas were misrepresented due its nature of being taken out of context and there are proper explanations for those from the above mentioned saints. And his quotations were actually taken out of context and hence not reconcilable with other part of Vedas. So it is just ”ardha kukutti nyaya” or half hen fallacy[1] just take some portions and reject other portions.

== Question and Answer session ==
After Mr Khurshid’s talk, there was a gap for half an hour and then at 1:30 PM there was a question and answer session.

The question and answer session began with ABTN members asking questions to Mr Khurshid. Mr Khurshid tried to defend from the Islamic point of view. The questions were mostly on the personal nature of Allah in Koran, the concept of rebirth and differences at the time of birth etc, Mr Khurshid tried to answer the questions quoting references from both the Quran and the Vedas. He attempted to sideline the Upanishads and the Puranas and tried to establish that Vedas alone are authoritative and that deity worship, personalism and rebirth are not mentioned in Vedas but were written in Upanishads and Puranas later by various sages and hence thet are not valid. But Mr Rao was able to establish that Upanishads and Puranas are as authoritative as the Vedas as they form the fifth veda. also said such gross misinterpretation is just half hen logic and hence he can’t pick up a shloka from the scriptures and use it to suit our purpose. He also cautioned of using the translation of vedic scriptures of western indologists which are not always authentic. In the end Mr Khurshid acknowledged that there was a possibility of Allah having a form and he doesn’t know.

Mr Narasimha Rao also faced various questions related to caste system; if Krishna means black, how can black be beautiful; how can God become a chariot driver etc. answered the questions convincingly. On the question on caste system he explained that one’s [[Varnashrama|”varna” and ”ashrama”]] system doesn’t come by birth there is a natural division in a factory like someone is a manager, someone manages accounts, and someone works on machines. All can’t be given the same job. We cannot nullify these differences irrespective of our attempts. also explained about the meaning of Krishna which also means “All Attractive”. All these had an excellent impact on the audience. He also made a point that Quran doesn’t explain in much detail as does the Vedas.

At the end both the speakers exchanged good wishes and decided to continue the discussion in future. Mr Rao requested the Islamic followers to understand Hinduism from the [http://www.absolutetruth.in/docs/madhva/four_sampradayas.htm four authentic parampara] which has unbroken connection with Supreme Lord Krishna.

Many other questions on Hinduism in Islamic perspective perspective answered [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/tags/islam here].

However the most important part of it was that many people got access to ”The Hidden Treasure of Al Qur’an” by [[Islam_and_Vedas|Dr Akif Manf Jabir]] who is a muslim by birth and a disciple of Srila Prabhupada founder acharya of ISKCON.

Also many people received a copy of Bhagavad Gita as it is by [[wikipedia:A._C._Bhaktivedanta_Swami_Prabhupada|A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada]] who is a authentic teacher coming in the disciplic succession of Brahma. The guests of the function received a gift copy of the Qur’an along with a few CDs of lectures by [http://agniveer.com/naik/ Dr Zakir Naik].

[[Absolute_Truth:Citation_needed|SOME OF THE LINKS REFERRED HERE NEEDS CITATION]]

== Conclusion ==
*Vedas are complete teachings of God.
*Vedic knowledge from scriptures can be understood only from a proper parampara system.
*The itihasas and puranas constitutes the fifth veda and they are valid sources of knowledge.

== Observation ==
*The timeless vedic scriptures should be learnt in a proper way to understand truth, it is being utilised by people with ulterior motives to mislead or convert people as it was attempted by [http://absolutetruth.in/2010/06/decline-of-indology-in-the-west/ British Indologists]. The people sympathetic to Sanatan Dharma should strongly object to prevent its misuse.

== References ==
[1] There was a hen which used to lay golden egg. But the farmer just wanted to have the egg everyday but not feed it so he cut the hen into half. Alas! the hen died and no more eggs. So one cannot selectively take from Vedic scriptures and ignore the rest.

Islam a Religion of Peace?

== Introduction ==
Islam a Religion of Peace! Most would disagree or scoff at the thought of it, the reason being evidences out weigh against other opinion. Here is analysis of two renowned scholars on this topic. The first is [http://www.tawfikhamid.com/ Prof Tawfik Hamid], a former member of an Islamist terrorist group, and now an Islamic reformer and a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. He has brought out a new valid interpretation of Quran. And second is [http://absolutetruth.in/wiki/Islam_and_Vedas#Introduction Dr Akif Manaf Jabir] an Islamic scholar, who is an Islamic theologian and also a practitioner of Vedic vaishnava siddhanta. He is also a renowned scholar in this field of comparative religions.

== Need for introspection ==
” by Prof Hamid ”
The film “Fitna” by Dutch parliament member Geert Wilders has created an uproar around the world as it linked violence committed by Islamists to Islam. Many commentators and politicians — including the British Government, which denied him entry to the country last month — reflexively accused Mr. Wilders of inciting hatred. The question, however, is whether the blame is with Mr. Wilders, who simply exposed Islamic radicalism, or with those who promote and engage in this religious extremism. In other words, shall we fault Mr. Wilders for showing photos of the hanging of homosexuals, or shall we fault those who actually promote and practice this crime?

There is a certain schizophrenia among many Muslims who seem to believe that it is acceptable to teach hatred and violence in the name of their religion, while at the same time expecting the world to respect Islam as “a religion of peace, love and harmony.”

Scholars in the most prestigious Islamic Institutes and Universities continue to propagate statements like Jews are “pigs and monkeys,” that women and men must be stoned to death for adultery, or that Muslims must fight the world to spread their religion. Isn’t, then, Mr. Wilders’s criticism appropriate? Instead of blaming him, we must blame the leading Islamic scholars for having failed to produce an authoritative book on Islamic jurisprudence that is accepted in the Islamic world and unambiguously rejects these violent teachings.

While many religious texts preach violence, the interpretation, modern usage and [implementation of these teachings make all the difference. For example, the stoning of women exists in both the Old Testament and in the Islamic tradition, or “Sunna” — the recorded deeds and manners of the prophet Muhammad. The difference, though, is that leading Jewish scholars agreed to discontinue these practices centuries ago while Muslim scholars have yet to do so. Hence we do not see the stoning of women practiced or promoted in Israel, the “Jewish” state, but we see it practiced and promoted in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the “Islamic” states!

When the British government banned Geert Wilders from entering the country to present his film in the House of Lords, it made two egregious errors. The first was to suppress free speech, a canon of the civilized Western world. The second mistake was to blame the messenger — punishing, so to speak, the witness who exposed the crime instead of punishing the criminal. Mr. Wilders did not produce the content of the violent Islamic message he showed in his film — the Islamic world did that. Until the Islamic clerical establishment takes concrete steps to reject violence in the name of their religion, Mr. Wilders criticism is not only permissible as “controversial” free speech but justified.

So, Islamic scholars and clerics, it is up to you to produce a Shariah book that will be accepted in the Islamic world and that teaches that Jews are not pigs and monkeys, and that [http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/5916.html declaring war] to spread Islam is unacceptable, and killing apostates is a crime. Such a book would prove that Islam is a religion of peace.
Ref: From the Wall Street Journal Europe.

== Vedic Observer ==
”Our humble thoughts”
=== The real Prophet Mohammad ===
Prophet Muhammad is perhaps the most misrepresented person in history. He is perhaps the most loved and most hated person engulfing the world today. Many followers of Islam worship him as the most perfect personality in history. To them, anything written in name of Prophet Muhammad becomes example. And then, they attempt to justify the same. On other hand, ex‐Muslims and rationalists blame Muhammad for being a violent lascivious person whose teachings and manipulations have caused bloody warfare throughout history and cause terrorism today.

Spurred by the strong opinions – both positive and negative – that are available on Prophet Muhammad, lets set out to explore his life and evaluate what would have made him so hated and so loved? We shall produce detail summary of our findings in this post. But the conclusion is very clear – Muhammad was a legendary revolutionary far ahead of his times and perhaps one of the most inspiring persons of history. But only a few could understand the man and his vision properly.

Thus his character has been maligned both by his admirers and detractors. His admirers view him as final answer to everything ignoring the fact that he was a messenger, and as every messenger he was subject to social and cultural conditioning as per his era. On other hand, his detractors find him an easy scapegoat for all the nonsense that happens in name of Islam – gender discrimination, slavery, terrorism, bomb blasts, hijacking and superstitions. They refuse to dig deeply and explore the possibilities of Muhammad being victim of situations and false slander.

We would provide sufficient points to explore the third possibility – a visionary revolutionary noble intentioned legend being misinterpreted and misrepresented. Just think for a while. Why would he call his religion Islam (that means peace) and its followers Muslims (those who humbly submit) if he were to propagate violence and violent means? He could have chosen some other name as well. But why there has been a specific emphasis on Peace and Humility? To us that is Prophet Muhammad – A Genius misunderstood the primary theme of Muhammad’s message and everything else should be interpreted in this light alone.

The Arab of his times were deeply drenched in immorality and superstitions. If you carefully study his life, you would find that he risked even his life to bring the corrupt Arabic culture of his times towards enhanced sensibilities. He was born in an era where people even used to marry each others daughters. Incest was also prevalent and so was slavery. He knew that these practices could not be stopped instantaneously. Not having opportunity to learn from any teacher and complete even a basic education, he began a self motivated journey of analysis of the practices of his times and trying to discover what should be the right way. He did it to best of his capabilities and knowledge. And considering his education and society, he could think of a long way. He then tried to stop or dilute many of these practices through a variety of tactics – by explaining to them, by showing them fear, by giving them incentives and at times even fighting them.

And another reason to give this third possibility a deep consideration is Meat was primary diet of his era. Yet he called for compassion on animals. We may complain that he did not ban meat-eating altogether. But we forget that it would have been too ridiculous for his times considering that meat was staple diet of his times. We should admire the foresight shown by Muhammad that has made many Muslims are the most ardent proponents of [[Islam_and_Vedas#Vegetarianism_in_Islam|Vegetarianism]].

=== Suspicion of Interpolation ===
Also the fact that Koran was compiled at least twenty years after the disappearance of Prophet Mohammad brings to focus the possibility of [http://www.faithfreedom.org/10513 corruption]. There are numerous evidences that Prophet Muhammad’s teachings were caught between manipulations by several sadistic individuals and genuine followers. Hence Quran and Hadiths become a mixture of original teachings of Muhammad interspersed with unverifiable manipulations. This is where the scholars believe all these [http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/5916.html ”Satanic Verses”] have found their way to serve the interests of some political zealots.

=== Islam in modern context ===
What we need to understand is Prophet Muhammad had to preach the message of God in an extreme conditions where people were almost barbarians had no regard for rules or regulations. They had been tyrants to the core. So in order to deal with them he had instructed prospective muslims to be vigilant and adopt some tactics which would ensure their survival and propagation of God’s message. But in the modern day context where there is a well established ethics and sense of morality in the society. And there is a sense of rationality being perpetuated through education and people are much saner and open minded towards other culture. And as everyone hopes to see a better tomorrow that is more tranquil, relevance of such extreme instructions ceases to exist with no purpose to fulfill. Instead the radicals would do better if they take their fight inside against the eternal vices who rule us namely lust, greed, envy, pride and illusion. That would fulfill the soul of Prophet Muhammad.

=== Islam and Vedas ===
The conservativism in Islam or any religion is required to bring in a regimen and discipline amongst its followers which is necessary for any sane and civilized society. If these strict regimen is not in place cultural degradation in society cannot be checked. This is there in all scriptures of the world. The Manu Samhita talks about so many rules and regulations to be followed. The secular society would however prefer liberalism. That being one extreme the other is the is proselytizing [http://agniveer.com/jehad/ fundamentalism] in Islam, and intolerance towards other authentic spiritual faiths without giving a proper thought on how actually it compliments Islam should be condemned and banished. So there is a need for proper understanding of Islam, have a completely different perspective free of all the stereotypes in conjunction with the eternal spiritual truths the Vedas. That is where the contribution of scholars like [[Islam_and_Vedas| Dr Akif Manaf Jabir]] have a role to play.

The followers of Islam would benefit to know that Koran is not the summum bonum because it is no more than a bunch of rules and regulations. Whereas the Vedas is an encyclopedia of science and arts. It goes far beyond rules and regulations. For instance the Bhagavad Gita talks about the laws of karma which explains the differences amongst humans at the time of Birth. Both Bible and Koran and the derivative scriptures have no explanation for this phenomenon of differences at birth, they only talk about one life of humans but it fails to explain why someone is born blind or born in a poor family. There are many such [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/questions-for-our-islamic-friends questions] that Bible or Koran doesn’t satisfactorily answer.

== Conclusion ==
The Vedas are the first and foremost knowledge that had been from the time of creation. There are many instances where Prophet Mohammad has mentioned that there is more to Quran. Like for instance it is said in Quran that when Mohammad met Allah, the Lord clearly prohibited him to not teach few things that was taught to him. Muslims would benefit if they give benefit of doubt to these statements and explore the Vedic knowledge which assimilates all the good instructions in Quran and teaches much more than the rules and regulations. To know more on what we are talking, visit [[Islam_and_Vedas|here]]. To conclude the scholars of all religions should come together and work for a fresh and legitimate interpretations of Koran and Bible keeping in mind their temporal relevance they should look them in the light of transcendental vedic scriptures. This can benifit the humanity and peace can be given a chance.

[[Absolute_Truth:Citation_needed|SOME OF THE CONTENT AND LINKS REQUIRE CITATION]]

== References ==
#[http://www.tawfikhamid.com/abcs-test-for-radical-islam/ ABC Test of Radical islam].
#[http://www.gurumurthy.net/articledisplay.pl?2008-09-18 Holy Text and Terror]
#[http://agniveer.com/jehad/ Scrutinizing study of Islam]
#[http://jaibihar.com/pakistan-bangladesh-plan-a-mughalistan-to-split-india/20092246.html Islamic designs for India]

Here Money is free, Honey!

==Introduction==
Money is something most of us crave for, work hard for, and use in our day to day lives. It will be an interesting, as well as revealing exercise to actually understand where the money actually comes from.

Imagine a money lender who lends out Rs. 1000 to a borrower (by issuing a cheque) and  charges interest on the amount, while in reality he has only Rs. 100 in his account. He  would be charged with fraud and arrested.

Now for the shocking part – Our modern banking system does pretty much the same as the moneylender we were just talking about, at a much larger scale and gets away with it, because our legal and constitutional framework allows it to do so !! Read on to find out more!

The history of money and banking are interlinked. Hence, it will be helpful and interesting to delve a bit into how our banking system (as we see today) actually evolved.

==Evolution of the Banking System==
The modern banking system has its roots from the early ages when gold was the chief form of currency. Those who owned gold, for fear of being robbed, deposited this gold in the strong-rooms of the goldsmiths, who gave gold owners receipts (promissory notes) for the gold they kept for them in their vaults. So, instead of paying in gold when they purchased goods, these individuals paid with the promissory notes they had received from the goldsmiths, which proved that they had gold in the goldsmiths’ vaults. The one who was paid with these notes was thus becoming the new owner of the gold kept in the goldsmith’s vault, and was free to go and withdraw this gold at any time from the goldsmith. This system was most prominent in England in the 17th century and spread to other countries eventually.

The goldsmiths noticed that most of the people preferred to exchange the promissory notes instead of going to the goldsmiths and withdraw their gold. For example, for one person who actually came to the goldsmiths and ask for his gold, ten people did not come, preferring to exchange the receipts issued by the goldsmith. Simultaneously, many people approached the goldsmiths for loans. Then the goldsmiths hit upon an idea whereby they could issue promissory notes to the borrowers, instead of actual gold coins, as the paper receipts had already become an accepted form of currency. The goldsmiths soon realized that they could thus issue, without risk, ten times more promissory notes than they had actual gold in their vault, as very few depositors actually turned up to claim their gold. This would enable the goldsmiths to loan out 10 times more money (in the form of receipts) than the actual gold they actually possessed, charge interest on the same and make huge profits. As long as the same ratio of people did not show up at their place and ask for their gold, the goldsmiths could go on with their confidence trick, and pretend to have 10 times more gold than they actually had.
This fraudulent scheme continued because of the ‘confidence’ people had on the goldsmiths, and eventually evolved into a more sophisticated ‘Banking system’, where the bankers played the role of goldsmiths and ‘paper currency’ played the role of the promissory notes, and the bankers started lending more money (loans) than they actually had to people and corporates. The bankers/goldsmiths fully exploited the fact that people were preferring to use paper receipts/currency (for convenience) than actual gold. Eventually people figured out the nature of the fraud, and they all started withdrawing their cash/gold, which caused the system to collapse (technically called a ‘Bank run’). However, the greedy bankers wanted to continue their game, hence they tied up with governments (read ‘Corrupt Politicians’) to enable them to continue with their fraud while the government set up ‘Central Banks’ or ‘Reserve Banks’ (such as the Bank of England, the Swedish Riksbank and the US Federal Reserve) to rescue the individual banks in cases of a Bank Run. This system gradually extended to other countries, especially the ones which the British ruled. India had its first Banks in 19th Century when 3 presidency banks were established under the British rule.

Today’s banks operate exactly the same way as described above, because they observed that for one person who came to the bank and wanted to be paid in cash (paper money), about many more people only transfer figures from one account to another one, without using any cash. (Today, all huge monetary transactions are done by cheque or electronic transfer and only small payments are done by cash). This is what allows the banks to lend more money than they actually have. The only restraint to this creation of money is the fear that too many people show up to the bank and ask to be paid in cash, since the bank could only repay in cash to one consumer out of a few. One of the ways for the banks to protect themselves against such a possibility is to encourage depositors to leave their money at the bank as long as possible, by paying higher interest in fixed deposits, which are tied up with a bank for a few years. Besides, Banks and Governments also emphasize on using cheques, demand drafts and electronic transfers for all large transactions, where it is inconvenient to use cash, anyway. Many banks also dole out gifts and rewards to their customers who use debit or credit cards instead of cash for their purchases! Thus, the banks came out with many ideas that discourage people from withdrawing large amounts of cash.

==Fractional Reserve Banking==
To enable banks to carry on with this above mentioned scheme of loaning much more than they have, a practice called “Fractional Reserve Banking” was introduced. This practice allowed banks to keep only a fraction of their deposits in reserve (as cash and other highly liquid assets) and lend out the remainder, while maintaining the simultaneous obligation to redeem all these deposits upon demand.

The catch here, is that when the initial deposit money is loaned out by the bank to a borrower, and deposited into the account of the borrower, the amount in the borrower’s account is again treated as “Fresh Deposit”, which allows the bank to give out more loans based on this ‘Fresh Deposit’, which itself was a loan in the first place! Each such loan given out again gets treated as ‘Fresh Deposit’ against which even more loans can be given out! Thus, the banks can loan out many more times the money they actually have in their reserves. This means, banks are practically creating money out of nothing (‘thin air’) and giving them out as loans to corporates (business loans) and individuals (home loans, car loans etc). As we know that most corporates take huge loans and use them for business expansion as well as meeting their expenses (such as employee salaries), this means that most of the money currently being circulated in most economies is actually ‘debt’ disguised as ‘real money’!!

The lie is that the figures on the computer screen represent the value of gold and/or silver. This is not true anymore, as most of the world’s currencies have been taken off the gold and silver standards decades ago. The last currency that was supposed to be backed by gold (i.e. the US Dollar) was officially taken off the gold standard in 1971 when the then US President Nixon refused to pay gold to countries in exchange for US Dollars, as the US had already printed far more dollars than the gold they actually claimed to possess. If the money created by the banks really represented gold or silver, the banks would legally be bound to pay all of us in gold or silver coins in exchange for our notes, anytime we chose to opt for such an exchange!

All this means that when a person or company applies for a loan, the bank does not loan out the amount from actually existing deposits. The bank clerk just types some digits into the computer screen against our account (or makes an entry into the account books) and the loan is “set up” out of nowhere. From that moment, we are legally bound to repay the ‘amount’ (with interest) that never existed, failing which the bank would take away our possessions or take legal action until we repaid back the ‘non-existing’ amount!!

The total amount of money that infiltrates into the economy is calculated by the following mathematical equation:-
D + (D* (1- F/100)^1) + (D* (1- F/100)^2) + (D* (1- F/100)^3) + ………… + D* (1-F/100)^N
Where D is the initial deposit into the bank, F is the fractional reserve requirement in terms of percentage,  and N can go upto as high as 70. We see that apart from the first term in the equation (D), the other terms have been created out of “thin air” by the fractional reserve banking mechanism!

This loaning out of money beyond the bank’s existing reserves expands the total money supply in the economy. For instance, for the third quarter of 1995, the Canadian chartered banks held $3.1 billion in cash, and lent, for the same period, $216 billion (non-mortgage loans) – seventy times the amount of cash they actually held! In the US, as on 2009, the base money supply (Actual physical Currency + central bank currency) was approximately 0.9 Trillion USD, whereas the actual money under circulation, including the debts/loans given out to the commercial sector and retail sector was more than $11 trillion USD! In India, the total base money (reserve money) as on 2007 was Rs. 5,00,000 crores, whereas the total money under circulation, including loans to commercial sector was 3,000,000 crores.

==Consequences of Fractional Reserve Banking==

===Concentration of Power===

This empowerment of Bankers to create money out of ‘nowhere’ and loan them out allows them to gain control over corporates, people, and the economy as a whole. This is especially true in western countries such as US and Europe where central banks are operated from behind the scenes by private bankers which authorizes them to print money and lend them to the governments. This means, that the bankers control the state as long as they can keep the government under debt! This also allows them to control the economy by creating economic booms or recessions (by increasing or reducing the money supply). The Bankers of course work ‘hand in glove’ with the corrupt politicians who are ready to sell off their countries in return for tremendous selfish gains, and hence enact laws that allow bankers to run the show. A classic example of this is the ‘Federal Reserve Act’ that was enacted in 1913 in the US, giving the private bankers power to control the nation’s money supply via the “Federal Reserve”. Therefore, the REAL power in such cases is with the multinational bankers, and not the governments or the people! Institutions such as the World Bank and IMF are operated from behind the scenes by these powerful bankers, who control the foreign policies and economies of countries which borrow funds from them.

===Inflation===

As banks keep increasing the money supply as described above, this leads to inflation’ and currency devaluation, with too much money chasing fewer goods, commodities and services. This phenomenon of inflation gradually eats away into the purchasing power of our money, and we observe that the cost of living is always increasing. However, the salary hikes, in most cases, find it hard to keep pace with this inflation (unless we are employed in a niche sector such as IT or Finance) because companies that pay our salaries try to keep as much profit as possible for themselves and view employees as overheads instead of assets.
As a result of these banking practices, today’s paper currencies have no inherent value in them, as it is no more supported by precious commodities such as Gold or Oil. In fact, as we have seen earlier, most of the so called ‘money’ in circulation is infact merely ‘debt’ disguised as real money.

===Increasing Gap between rich and poor===
An important point that we need to understand is that the actual purchasing power we possess depends on the ‘percentage’ of the total money in circulation that we possess, and not the actual ‘quantity’ of money we possess. When the banks create money out of nowhere and more money is introduced into circulation, our purchasing power gets reduced. This phenomenon, however, hits the poor people much harder. When a bank increases the money supply by giving loans, they usually loan the money out based on the repaying capacity of the recipient. They loan the newly created money (as explained earlier) mostly to rich corporates (for business expansion) and to some extent to the middle class (home loans, car loans, etc). These fresh loans tremendously increase the purchasing power of the rich people (who run the corporates) as now the rich people have a much larger percentage of money under circulation. This marginally reduces the percentage of money that the middle class now possess (inspite of the small loans given to them) and drastically reduces the percentage of money (and hence the purchasing power) that the poor possess. With each cycle of fresh loans, this disparity keeps increasing.

It is akin to a pumping mechanism which constantly drains out wealth from the lower rungs to the upper rungs of the money chain. It is clear that the banks of our world are not here to distribute wealth. They are there to increase differences and to concentrate all the money/wealth/resources into the hands of a very few on the top of the money chain.

==How do the bankers and Politicians get away with this?==
The main reason for this is ignorance of the general public. A few that do know, do not want to upset the applecart. The fields of economics and finance have been deliberately made complex, filled with too many jargons, so that common people would not be able to make out what is going on behind the scenes. The mainstream media, which is anyway owned mostly by powerful politicians and corporates, chooses to ‘conveniently’ remain silent on the issue.

These modern banking practices are supported by governments, media and corporates under the garb of ‘rapid economic development’, ‘industrialization’ and ’employment generation’. Hence, even finance experts who are aware of these modern banking practices fail to understand the long term implications of these practices on the people and economy, as they are swayed by the short term benefits.
==Quotes from famous personalities on Modern Banking Practices==
“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
– Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company.

“The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in inequity and born in sin. Bankers own the earth. Take it [earth] away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of a pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take away from them the power to create money and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money.”
– Sir Josiah Stamp, former director of Bank of England.

“Give me control of a nation’s money supply and I care not who makes it’s laws.”
– Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of Rothschild Banking dynasty in 18th Century.

“I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
– Thomas Jefferson, former US President

“I am afraid that the ordinary citizen will not like to be told that banks can and do create money…And they who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of Governments and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.”
– Reginald McKenna, former Chairman of the Board, Midlands Bank of England.

“We are completely dependent on the commercial Banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash or credit. If the Banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless position is almost incredible, but there it is. It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon.”
– Robert H. Hemphill, Former Credit Manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

==The Vedic Observer: Vedic Solutions==
The Vedic times were characterized by more stable economies with a robust monetary system that had very little scope of money laundering. Some of the salient features of the Vedic economic and monetary system were as follows:-

===Resource based Economy: Stable and Tangible Assets for People===

The Vedic economy was more “resource based”, as opposed to the modern economy, which is “money based”. This means people leveraged on replenishable natural resources to produce their needs. In the Vedic times, Agricultural Land and Cows were considered to be major assets, based on which a person’s wealth was measured, as opposed to the modern days where money (in the form of paper currency) is considered as a sign of wealth. With Agricultural land, people produced enough food to sustain themselves as well as sell off the excess produce to maintain a comfortable standard of living. Cows would produce nutritious milk as well as many by products that served as medicines as well as manure. All other needs were met using a “cottage industry” model where items were produced locally from raw materials procured from nearby forests and fields. Each town was mostly self sufficient. In this resource based economy, there is practically no need for anyone to artificially manipulate the monetary system in order to make gains.

===Bartering Model===

This resource based economy easily lends itself into a trading system called “Bartering”, where goods produced were exchanged for other goods. For example, a rice farmer could exchange his excess rice produce (barter) in return for some clothes produced by a cloth weaver. This system, while ensuring that the needs of everyone was met, also reduced the dependency on money/currencies that are subject to manipulation. All trades done under the bartering model ensured that parties on both sides received some commodity of value, unlike today’s paper currencies which do not possess intrinsic value.

===Bullion Currency Model (Gold)===

Gold was used as a currency medium in Vedic times. This system is less prone to manipulation compared to the modern paper currency system, where it is easy to print currency and devalue the same. The control of the monetary system was the responsibility of the Kings who held gold reserves in the kingdom’s treasury. Modern day Vedic Scholars such as Srila Prabhupada have also insisted that gold is real money whereas “paper money” is bad money and is subject to misuse.

===Limited Debt based on actual currency reserves===

This is technically called Full Reserve Banking, which is sadly not being practiced anymore. In the Vedic times, the emphasis was for people to live within their means, and take loans only in case of emergency. These loans were given out in form of actual gold, unlike in modern banking, where virtual money is created out of nothing.

===Varnashrama System – Less Corruption prone===

If we examine the problems above, one major cause has been greed and corruption. According to the Varnashrama system, the Kings were elected by the brahmanas (priestly class) who were well versed in scriptures and selflessly offered themselves to the service of the society without any expectation of remuneration. Thus, they practiced self restraint and were less prone to corruption. This ensured that they would train and elect Kings who were similarly dedicated to the welfare of their citizens. Such rulers would be less inclined to manipulate the monetary system or exploit the people for selfish motives, quite unlike modern politicians who have betrayed their citizens for personal gains.

===Recognizing and Understanding the Supreme Proprietor===

The root cause of the above problems has been a failure to recognize the Proprietorship of the Supreme Lord and claims to false proprietorship over everything we survey. These groups of multinational bankers and business tycoons are greedy for accumulating as much wealth as they can, at the cost of others. However, their agenda doesn’t stop there. There is emerging evidence that they are working on a secret plan to take over control of the entire world’s economies and enslave the masses, with full co-operation from the governments, corporates and media. The Vedic scriptures describe such persons as “demons” who try to claim false proprietorship and control over the world which rightfully belongs to the Supreme Lord. It is this demoniac tendency that causes much of the problems around. The Varnashrama system ensures that the rulers understand the Proprietorship of the Lord and do not get into the wrong attitude. Hence, they would consider themselves as mere caretakers (on behalf of the Lord) of the kingdoms they ruled, and served as guardians of the people who are trusted into their care, instead of exploiting them.

A combination of the solutions mentioned above is the key to a world free of exploitation.
Just as in the corporate world, we work for the satisfaction of the proprietor of the company who in turn takes care of our needs, saints have advocated that we work for the satisfaction of the proprietor of the world (The Supreme Lord) who in turn provides us (via nature) with our needs. Hence, performing one’s duties in the right spirit, as an offering to please the Supreme Proprietor (the Lord) is the key to happiness for everyone.

==References==

[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Modern_Money_Mechanics.pdf “Modern Money Mechanics” by Public Information Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago]
[http://mises.org/books/mysteryofbanking.pdf “The Mystery of Banking” by Murray N. Rothbard, Mises Institute, Alabama]
[http://129.3.20.41/eps/mac/papers/0203/0203005.pdf “Fractional Reserve Banking as Economic Parasitism” by Z. Nuri]
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional-reserve_banking Fractional Reserve Banking]
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_supply Money Supply]

Written by [[Authors#vivek_d|Vivek Devarajan]]

Yoga at the Speed Of Light


== Introduction ==
It is amazing how much Western science has taught us. Today, for example, kids in grammar school learn that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth and that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per hours. Yoga may teach us about our Higher Self, but it can’t supply this kind of information about physics or astronomy. Or can it?

== Speed of Light ==
Professor Subhash Kak of Louisiana State University recently called my attention to a remarkable statement by Sayana, a Fourteenth Century Indian scholar. In his commentary on a hymn from Rig Veda, the oldest and perhaps most mystical text ever composed in India, Sayana has this to say: “With deep respect, I bow to the sun, who travels 2,202 yojanas in half a nimesha.”

A yojana is about nine American miles; a nimesha is 16/75 of a second. Mathematically challenged readers, get out your calculators!

2,202 yojanas x 9 miles x 75 – 8 nimeshas = 185,794 m.p.s.

Basically, Sayana is saying that sunlight travels at 186,000 miles per second! How could a Vedic scholar who died in 1387 A.D. have known the correct figure for the speed of light? If this was just a wild guess it’s the most amazing coincidence in the history of science!

== And those 108 beads ==
The yoga tradition is full of such coincidences. Take for instance the mala many yoga students wear around their neck. Since these rosaries are used to keep track of the number of mantras a person is repeating, students often ask why they have 108 beads instead of 100. Part of the reason is that the mala represent the ecliptic, the path of the sun and moon across the sky. Yogis divide the ecliptic into 27 equal sections called nakshatras, and each of these into four equal sectors called padas, or “steps,” marking the 108 steps that the sun and moon take through heaven.

Each is associated with a particular blessing force, with which you align yourself as you turn the beads.

Traditionally, yoga students stop at the 109th “guru bead,” flip the mala around in their hands, and continue reciting their mantra as they move backward through the beads. The guru bead represents the summer and winter solstices, when the sun appears to stop in its course and reverse directions. In the yoga tradition we learn that we’re deeply interconnected with all of nature. Using a mala is a symbolic way of connecting ourselves with the cosmic cycles governing our universe.

But Professor Kak points out other coincidences: The distance between the earth and the sun is approximately 108 times the sun’s diameter. The diameter of the sun is about 108 times the earth’s diameter. And the distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the moon’s diameter.

Could this be the reason the ancient sages considered 108 such a sacred number? If the microcosm (us) mirrors the macrocosm (the solar system), then maybe you could say there are 108 steps between our ordinary human awareness and the divine light at the center of our being. Each time we chant another mantra as our mala beads slip through our fingers, we are taking another step toward our own inner sun.

== Origin of Cosmos ==
As we read through ancient Indian texts, we find so much the sages of antiquity could not possibly have known-but did. While our European and Middle Eastern ancestors claimed that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, the yogis have always maintained that our present cosmos is billions of years old, and that it’s just one of many such universes which have arisen and dissolved in the vastness of eternity.

In fact the Puranas, encyclopedias of yogic lore thousands of years old, describe the birth of our solar system out of a “milk ocean,” the Milky Way. Through the will of the Creator, they tell us, a vortex shaped like a lotus arose from the navel of eternity. It was called Hiranya Garbha, the shining womb. It gradually coalesced into our world, but will perish some day billions of years hence when the sun expands to many times it present size, swallowing all life on earth. In the end, the Puranas say, the ashes of the earth will be blown into space by the cosmic wind. Today we known this is a scientifically accurate, if poetic, description of the fate of our planet.

The Surya Siddhanta is the oldest surviving astronomical text in the Indian tradition. Some Western scholars date it to perhaps the fifth or sixth centuries A.D., though the text itself claims to represent a tradition much, much older. It explains that the earth is shaped like a ball, and states that at the very opposite side of the planet from India is a great city where the sun is rising at the same time it sets in India. In this city, the Surya Siddhanta claims, lives a race of siddhas, or advanced spiritual adepts. If you trace the globe of the earth around to the exact opposite side of India, you’ll find Mexico. Is it possible that the ancient Indians were well aware of the great sages/astronomers of Central America many centuries before Columbus discovered America?

== Knowing the unknowable ==
To us today it seems impossible that the speed of light or the fate of our solar system could be determined without advanced astronomical instruments. How could the writers of old Sanskrit texts have known the unknowable? In searching for an explanation we first need to understand that these ancient scientists were not just intellectuals, they were practicing yogis. The very first lines of the Surya Siddhanta, for of the Golden Age a great astronomer named Maya desired to learn the secrets of the heavens, so he first performed rigorous yogic practices. Then the answers to his questions appeared in his mind in an intuitive flash.

Does this sound unlikely? Yoga Sutra 3:26-28 states that through, samyama (concentration, meditation, and unbroken mental absorption) on the sun, moon, and pole star, we can gain knowledge of the planets and stars. Sutra 3:33 clarifies, saying: “Through keenly developed intuition, everything can be known.” Highly developed intuition is called pratibha in yoga. It is accessible only to those who have completely stilled their mind, focusing their attention on one object with laser-like intensity. Those who have limited their mind are no longer limited to the fragments of knowledge supplied by the five senses. All knowledge becomes accessible to them.

“There are [those] who would say that consciousness, acting on itself, can find universal knowledge,” Professor Kak admits. “In fact this is the traditional Indian view.”

Perhaps the ancient sages didn’t need advanced astronomical instruments. After all, they had yoga.

== Vedic Observer ==
The Vedas and its other Angas like Upanishads, Puranas are all said to be originating from the breath of Lord Vishnu the primary creator of the cosmos according to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad. It is also said that all the information concerning the creation, maintenance and destruction is in Vedas. But this is not something that can be decoded with a supercomputer in the NASA laboratory. The process of understanding the knowledge depends on once adhikara or qualification and also by once perfection acquired through grace of God. So the mantradrista or the seers of the mantra meditate on that undivided supreme absolute truth as paramatma to acquire knowledge of a specific science. Which they use for the welfare of people.

Compiled by [[Authors#Lndasa|LNDAS]]

Idol worship and Deity worship

== Introduction ==
In many religious systems worshiping idols and icons are considered primitive or even worse condemned as satanic devil worship. The Christians quote Moses from the one of the ten commandments which condemns worshiping an imaginary form of God. So is Vedic deity worship mere idol worship? Lets examine.

== Deities in Vedic theology ==
Deities, called murtis in Sanskrit, are an important part of Vedic temples and the Vedic tradition, but what is the significance of Deities and Deity worship? One thing to understand is that all the images of the Deities in the Vedic pantheon, as found in the temples, are made according to explicit details and instructions found in the Vedic texts called Shilpa Shastras. From these instructions we find the means to portray the proper stance, hand gestures, and other factors in the image of the Deity. In this way, Deities are not formed according to whim but in compliance to the scriptural regulations. Then they are installed in the temple in an elaborate ceremony known as Prana-pratishta, wherein the divine personalities are called to appear in the form of the Deity. Some of the Deities are demigods, while others, such as Krishna, Vishnu, Ramachandra, are of the Supreme Being.

== Idol Worship and the associated stigma ==
Some people, however, do not believe that God has a form. But many verses in the [http://srimadbhagavatam.com/11/3/52-53/en2 Puranas] and, particularly, the Brahma-samhita establish that the Supreme Being does have a specific form. These texts also describe His variegated features, which include His spiritual shape, characteristics, beauty, strength, intelligence, activities, etc. Therefore, it is considered that the authorized Deities of the Supreme that are shaped according to these descriptions provide a view of the personal form of God.

Those who have no knowledge of God or His form will certainly consider the temple Deities as idols. But this is the effect of their ignorance. They think that the Deities are simply the products of someone’s imagination. Of course, there are those who say that God has no form, spiritual or material, or that there is no Supreme Being. Others think that since God must be formless, they can imagine or worship any material form as God, or they regard any image as merely an external manifestation of the Supreme. But images of the demigods are not additional forms or representations of an impersonal God, nor are they equal to God. All such people who think in the above mentioned ways have resorted to their own imagination to reach such conclusions and are, therefore, idolaters. The imaginary images and opinions of God that are formed by those who have not properly learned about, seen, or realized God are indeed idols, and those who accept such images or opinions are certainly idolaters. This is because these images or opinions are based on ignorance and are not a likeness of His form.

Nonetheless, God is described in the Vedic literature, which explains that God is sat-chit-ananda vigraha, or the form of complete spiritual essence, full of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, and is not material in any way. His body, soul, form, qualities, names, pastimes, etc., are all nondifferent and are of the same spiritual quality. This form of God is not an idol designed from someone’s imagination, but is the true form, even if He should descend into this material creation. And since the spiritual nature of God is absolute, He is nondifferent from His name. Thus, the name Krishna is an avatara or incarnation of Krishna in the form of sound. Similarly, His form in the temple is not merely a representation, but is also qualitatively the same as Krishna as the archa-vigraha, or the worshipable form.

Some people may question that if the Deity is made from material elements, such as stone, marble, metal, wood, or paint, how can it be the spiritual form of God? The answer is given that since God is the source of all material and spiritual energies, material elements are also a form of God. Therefore, God can manifest as the Deity in the temple, though made of stone or other elements, since He can transform what is spiritual into material energy, and material energy back into spiritual energy. Thus, the Deity can easily be accepted as the Supreme since He can appear in any element as He chooses, whether it be stone, marble, wood, gold, silver, or paint on canvas. In this way, even though we may be unqualified to see God, who is beyond the perceptibility of our material senses, the living beings in this material creation are allowed to see and approach the Supreme through His archa-vigraha form as the worshipable Deity in the temple. This is considered His causeless mercy on the materially conditioned living beings that He would allow Himself to appear to humanity as a Deity to accept our worship and service.

== Interaction with the deity ==
In this manner, the Supreme Being gives Himself to His devotees so they can become absorbed in serving, remembering and meditating on Him. Thus, the Supreme comes to dwell in the temple to accept our worship and attract the eyes to concentrate and meditate on the Deity, and the temple becomes the spiritual abode on earth. In time, the body, mind and senses of the devotee become spiritualized by serving the Deity, and the Supreme becomes fully manifest to him or her. Worshiping the Deity of the Supreme and using one’s senses in the process of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to the Supreme, provides a means for one’s true essential spiritual nature to unfold. The devotee becomes spiritually realized and the Deity reveals His spiritual nature to the sincere souls according to their evolutionary spiritual development. This can continue to the level in which the Supreme Being in the form of the Deity engages in a personal relationship and performs reciprocal, loving pastimes with the devotee, as has previously taken place with other advanced individuals.

Indian sub continent is abound with numerous temples were there are accounts of deity having interacted with its devotee. Every ancient temple has its stala purana or the history involving the deity. It is not necessary that it has to be etched in the history but there are still stories of such [http://narasimhalila.com/home.html divine interactions]. So it is not just an iconography for decoration and rituals it is representing the demigod itself.

== When an Idol becomes a deity ==
An idol becomes a deity only if it is properly carved as per the Shilpa Sastras and installed by sacred rituals called “avahana” or a call to the personality to descend by spiritually advanced priests. The [Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: Śilpa Śāstra) are traditional Vedic texts that describe the standards for religious Hindu iconography, prescribing e.g. the proportions of a sculptured figure, as well as rules of Vedic architecture.They form one of 64 branches of divinely revealed arts.

So not that any idol like the one of Ganesha with a computer becomes a deity this is just a product of artists imagination nothing to do with worship of Ganesha. The material of the deity, pose, color and other bodily characteristics should match the agama sastras to qualify to be worshiped as a deity. Infact a vishnu deity is always carved out of a stone which has [http://narasimhalila.com/history.html life] by qualified sculptors. But unfortunately in today’s India we have all sorts of aberrations like above which discredits the vedic culture.

== Vedic Observer ==
At this stage, darshan is not simply a matter of viewing the Deity in the temple, but to one who is spiritually realized it is a matter of experiencing the Deity and entering into a personal, reciprocal exchange with the Supreme Personality in the form of the Deity. At that stage, you may view the Deity, but the Deity also gazes at you, and then there is a spiritual exchange wherein the Deity begins to reveal His personality to you. This is what separates those who are experienced from those who are not, or those who can delve into this spiritual exchange and those who may still be trying to figure it out. For those who have experienced such an exchange with the Supreme or His Deity, at this stage the worship of the Supreme Being in the Deity moves up to a whole different level, with no limits as to the spiritual love that can be shared between the devotee and the Deity.

== References ==
1. Darshan and the Significance of Deity Worship By Stephen Knapp
2. [http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/why-go-to-temple# Why go to a Temple]

Compiled by [[Authors#Lndasa|LNDAS]]

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