Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Lost City of Dwarka

The Lost City of Dwarka

(By Rohini Gupta (http://www.epicindia.com)


Dwarka, city of legend and mystery, capital of blue skinned Krishna, the mystic golden land which arose from the ocean at his command and returned under the waters when his feet no longer walked the earth. Dwarka was Krishna’s stronghold, a fort built to be invincible. A city of mythic proportions, everything about Dwarka is as magical as the story of the man who built it.

The poets described Dwarka as a city so golden that it cast its radiance on the ocean for miles around it. Dwar means door, and Dwarka is a city of many doors or a gateway. It was an island, connected to the mainland by many bridges, and legend says that Krishna asked Vishwakarman, the architect of the gods to build him a city more beautiful than any before it.


Krishna’s story is well known. He was born in a prison and smuggled out to the peaceful pastoral village of Brindavan far away from the tyranny of Mathura. Krishna was just a teenager when he returned to Mathura and rearranged the political landscape of ancient India by killing Kamsa and putting the old king Ugrasena back on the throne.


Though he was not the king, Krishna was always the ruler. His Yadav clan is probably the first democratic society in the world and their system of government sounds very modern today. They were a federation of six tribes who elected their leader, but retained their king as head of the state with no real powers. Krishna, the elected leader was in actual control and made all the decisions.


An underwater archaeologist of the ASI examines an ancient structure off the shore of Dwaraka; a circular structure on the shore at Dwaraka; fragment of an ancient structure found underwater; remains of an ancient structure in the forecourt of the Shri Dwarakadhish temple. - (Photo courtesy ASI),

Like all leaders in a democracy Krishna struggled to keep the Yadavs together. The six clans each had it own leader, and there were factions within the council. The power struggles were endless, each faction jostling for control, sometimes stooping to slander and back stabbing with an occasional murder thrown in. Krishna’s hands were full just keeping his contentious clan together. He was such a towering personality that his leadership was never in question but it did not stop his rivals from plotting against him, trying to discredit him in the eyes of the people. In one notable instance they accused him of theft and it took him years to sort out the scandal.

When Krishna killed Kamsa and was unanimously elected the leader of the Yadavs, he was so young he had not even finished his education. He was sent to Guru Sandipani’s ashram to complete it. The ashrams of ancient India were the universities of today and Sandipani’s ashram was one of the best.

However Krishna was given little respite to study. Kamsa’s powerful father in law, Jarasandh launched attack after attack on Mathura. Krishna and Balaram, almost single handed, withstood seventeen assaults, but when Jaransadh enlisted foreign allies and planned to attack the city on all sides, then Krishna began to look for an alternative.

That he chose retreat shows his foresight. In those days the warrior classes considered retreat to be a disgrace. Krishna was accused of running away from battle many times in his life, but it was his audacious retreat that changed the fate of his Yadavas. He turned them from a broken tribe into a kingdom talked about all over the world with awe and wonder.

Krishna chose a remote location, far beyond the reach of Jarasandh. He picked distant Dwarka on the western coast of India, far from Mathura, and spent a year putting his plans into action. He built on the sunken remains of a previous kingdom, Kushasthali, which itself was built on older ruins, all underwater. Krishna reclaimed a hundred miles of land from the sea and called in Vishwakarman, the architect of the gods to give him a city that was the envy of the world.

The Mahabharat and the Bhagwad Puran and other texts, describe the wonders of Dwarka. The most expensive and luxurious materials were used. In those days of unbelievable riches, it was quite common to use precious stones, gold and silver as construction material. Royalty and rich nobles invariably used gold, those who could not afford it used silver or metal.

Dwarka was a city of rose and gold. The palaces and many of the mansions were built of gold, over which pink lotus domes towered, topped by soaring golden spires. The floors were made of emeralds. Precious stones studded the walls and crystal arches curved overhead, inlaid with gold. The houses were beautifully decorated and sculptures adorned the walls. Even the cowsheds were made of silver, brass and iron.



The gardens are specially mentioned. Lavish gardens were planted with fruit and flowering trees, shade trees lined the roads and fragrant flowers scented the air. Lakes and ponds full of lotuses and fountains and waterfalls delighted the eyes. The heavenly Parijaat tree was planted in abundance.

Colourful flags flew on the fort walls and cleanliness was extreme. The Bhagwat Puran describes a time when Krishna returned to the city. To welcome him every alley, lane and road was swept and sprinkled with scented water, garlands of flowers hung from every arch, and on every doorstep incense burned sweetening the air. From the higher floors above the road women dropped flower petals and lotus garlands on the procession as it wended its way down the streets, accompanied by music and dancing.


Dwarka was a very well planned city, following the highly developed science of town planning. The architect, Vishwakarman, first mapping out the highways, lanes, gates and parks. He sectioned off plots and divided the city into six zones, residential and commercial. He planned out the port and created the bridges and gateways and the fortifications. Everything was laid out in detail before the construction began.

Dwarka was built to be invincible. Two lines of massive fort walls built from huge stone blocks, ran all around it and the sea itself served as a moat. The island was cut off from the mainland and could only be approached by boat. Vishwakarman built several bridges which could be withdrawn in case of attack.

Like many kingdoms of the time Dwarka had a passport system. Its citizens were issued with a clay seal which had to be presented when they entered or left the massive gates. The seal of Dwarka was a mythical three headed dog and seals matching the description have been found in the undersea ruins today.

Dr. S. R. Rao (Archeologist)

The fortifications of Dwarka made it hard to reach. The walls were furnished with watchtowers and machines to fling fire, inflammable liquids and missiles. Its structure and location made it inaccessible and the only time it sustained damage was when the attack came, not from land or sea, but from the sky.

The Bhagwat Puran describes how King Salwa acquired an flying machine that could fly at great speed and high enough to be invisible. He mounted an two pronged attack on Dwarka in which his army laid siege to the fort while he waged war from the skies, at a time when both Balaram and Krishna were away.

The Mahabharat mentions the preparations for war. The city was sealed, no one allowed to move in or out. Mines were planted on land and the moats were filled with sharpened spikes. The bridges were removed, the docks closed to all traffic and the streets barricaded. The army was paid in advance, with gold, to keep their motivation high.

Most of the battle of Dwarka took place on land. Krishna’s son Pradyumna led the Yadav army to meet the besiegers and defeated them. But Salwa flew above the city and destroyed its structures and gardens from the air, swooping out of nowhere and taking the defenders by surprise. When Krishna returned he used his unique weapons to destroy both Salwa and his air chariot. The description given sounds very much like a missile. Salwa’s car was too high to be visible but Krishna flung a weapon that smashed into it and brought it tumbling down.

The story of Krishna and Dwarka is told in the epics and Purans, all of which are considered history. While most Indians believed that Krishna was a historical figure, many historians did not agree. Today even the die hards are changing their stance as ruins have been discovered exactly where the epics placed the legendary city, off the coast of western India, under the sea.

The excavations of Dwarka began in the early 1980s when marine archeologists found underwater stone walls. The discoveries made after that all confirm the description in the texts. They have found six layers of ruins, each above the other, showing signs of being submerged over periods of time, just as the texts described the older cities upon which Dwarka was built.

The harbour has been located, and massive triangular stone anchors suggest large trading ships. The river channel leading into the city has also been identified. Ships from across the ocean berthed in the outer harbour, and smaller vessels ferried men and goods down the Gomti river to the fort.

Stone blocks under the sea could be the ruins of the thick fort walls. Archeologists even describe holes in them that may have held flag poles. The epics describe the colourful flags which flew high over Dwarka’s walls.

Many objects, fragments of pottery, metal and stone have been uncovered, including a stone statue of Vishnu. A clay seal was also found, showing a three headed animal, just like the three headed dog mentioned in the texts.

In an interesting story, Badri Narayan, who was one of the marine archeologists investigating the site reported that all the crew members, including those who knew nothing about Krishna had “dreams full of strange visions on the night of the discovery. We felt we had stumbled on something great and unusual.”

Today findings indicate that the whole western sea coast of India may have sunk by over forty feet. Epic history, legend and fact are coming together as more and more discoveries are made on the sea bed.

Dwarka submerged shortly after Krishna left the earth. The city he had reclaimed from the ocean and turned into a marvel waited only until he was gone before it sank back to the bottom of the ocean.


After the Kurukshetra war there were 36 years of peace, while the Pandavas ruled in Hastinapur and Krishna returned to Dwarka. But all was not well in Dwarka. The Yadavs race has become too used to the easy life, too unruly, and too violent, and in the end they destroyed themselves just as predicted.

One day the men went to the mainland shores with Krishna and Balaram. They drank too much and began to argue. The arguments became violent. When Krishna and Balaram tried to mediate they were both attacked. Krishna and Balaram retired in disgust and the violence went on all night. In the morning the beach was a graveyard. No one lived, even those who had survived the battle of Kurukshetra died on that fateful shore.

Balaram retired to the forest and gave up his body. Krishna returned to Dwarka but only to make the last arrangements. Once he had sent his charioteer to fetch Arjun, he also retired to the forest and shortly left the world.

By the time Arjun arrived the city was in shock and panic, unable to believe that Krishna and Balaram were gone. The bodies of the dead still lay on the shore. Arjun performed all the last rites, lit the funeral pyres. Then, following Krishna’s instructions he gave orders to evacuate the city.

Today we know that an erupting undersea volcano can cause the huge tidal wave that is a tsunami. The description given in the texts matches a tsunami exactly. For weeks the signs were ominous. The sky was full of fiery meteors, clouds of dust and smoke obscured the sun and the moon. That sounds like an erupting volcano.

Animals are often the first to sense disaster and it was no different in Dwarka. Birds and animals howled, shrieked and cried. Rats and mice emerged to take over the streets. Animals are rarely caught in natural disasters, they sense then early enough to leave.

That was not all. Gale force winds battered the invulnerable walls and rivers changed their course and began to flow backwards. Tidal patterns often change before a tsunami. When the final end came it was over in minutes, which also sounds like a killer tsunami wave.

On the seventh day after Krishna, the evacuation of Dwarka began. The Mahabharat describes the caravan stretching for miles, chariots, carts, horsemen, soldiers, woman and children, all departing in haste. They were barely in time. Battered by the sea, the city began to break apart even as they scrambled to safety. When the last one reached the shore the big wave came and washed the golden city away.

Arjun saw it vanish under the waves, watching the great palaces, mansions and residences submerge. With tears in his eyes he watched Krishna’s golden palace disappear under the waters. The whole city was swallowed by the ocean in minutes and where Dwarka once stood the sea left no trace, becoming as calm and quiet as a lake. The age of the Mahabharat ended and the dreaded dark, degenerate Kali age took over the earth.

Dwarka may have sunk but the story lives forever. The epic stories have been sung by poets, told by story tellers, and kept alive all across the country for centuries. Today the excavations on the sea bed are unearthing the magic again. There are plans to build an underwater tunnel museum so that visitors can walk amid the fort walls on the floor of the ocean. Perhaps, after five thousand years, it is time for Dwarka to come alive once again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Atman Brahman - The ONE Self

The concept of Atman Brahman in Hinduism stems from Bhagavad Gita... the foremost of all sacred scriptures existing on mother Earth. Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism defines Brahman as the core of all things cosmic. Brahman of Hinduism is termed God Almighty in English. Brahman in Hinduism is also termed Parmatman, Karta, Sanatana Purusha, God, Ishwara and Bhagwan.

As per Bhagavad-Gita of Hinduism Brahman is one and only one! The definition of Brahman as per Bhagavad-Gita of Hinduism is the collective power of all purified atmans souls in the cosmos at a given point of time. If a grain of sand is an independent atman soul... the whole mound Brahman... God Almighty! The essence of an atman is not distinct from Brahman.

If an individual piece of puzzle is an independent soul Atman... the whole mound Brahman... God Almighty! In absence of Brahman and Atman... the whole cosmic system simply could not exist! As per Bhagavad-Gita only when Brahman explodes self with a big bang... the whole cosmos creates... never otherwise!.

Brahman... Atman... the big bang theory... all is interrelated! One simply cannot exist in absence of another. Viewed from limited power of senses... the concept of Brahman, atman, the big bang theory... all seems unreal... beyond the conceptualization of human senses... the human intellect! But viewed from cosmic point of view... Brahman and Atman are the only real truths of life.

The concept of Brahman Atman is not debatable. Why? Our existence as a human being solely depends upon the existence of atmans souls in the cosmos. It is only existence of a consciousness within human beings... particularly all living beings that makes life possible in the cosmic system. The presence of an Atman soul within our heart is the only essence of life.

Brahman termed God Almighty exists within every human being in minuscule form as our Atman soul! It is only when an atman soul manifests the human body... life comes into existence in the cosmic system! In absence of an Atman soul.

It is the presence of a consciousness within our heart that results in formation of life on mother Earth. In absence of an atman soul... every living body is but inert matter that would just decay and die! Every atman soul manifests the human body to work out its karma... remove the dross impurities within!.

No sooner Brahman explodes self with a big bang... all purified souls atmans in the cosmos hurtled down their cosmic journey at unimaginable speeds... in the melee all atmans souls gather impurities similar as a rolling ball gathers moss! To cleanse self of all dross impurities within... to purify itself... to regain its lost original pure prime pristine form every atman soul manifests life!.

Right from the first manifestation as an amoeba (single cell formation) by the atman soul... the goal of every atman soul remains rejoining Brahman (termed God Almighty) at the earliest! It is through the complex process of karma every Atman soul completes its cosmic journey of 8.4 million manifestations... an earthly life cycle of 96.4 million years.

The moment the atman soul reached the stage of enlightenment (kaivalya jnana)... the journey of every atman soul comes to an end! The enlightened one finally takes salvation (moksha) and the liberated Atman soul enters the kingdom of God (termed Vaikuntha in Hinduism)... a point of no return! Once purified... the liberated soul Atman remains in Vaikuntha for eternity!.
Brahman (termed God Almighty) is the only truth of life... around which rotates the whole cosmic system! Manifestation in human form is the most pleasant experience for every atman soul. It is only in human form every Atman soul regains its original pure prime pristine form... which was not possible otherwise!

The human form is the highest manifest stage in cosmic life cycle! The prime reason why traveling the path of spirituality... gaining enlightenment (kaivalya jnana) and finally salvation (moksha) is termed highest of all spiritual pursuits available on mother Earth... and even the most difficult!.

Science may refute existence of atman soul or even Brahman (termed God Almighty) but spirituality as detailed in sacred Bhagavad-Gita of Hinduism is absolutely clear about the concept of atman Brahman! Science has its limitations... It demands proofs! In the domain of Brahman God... it is absolute faith in Brahman (God Almighty) that paves way for reaching the stage of enlightenment!.

Science still disputes big bang theory but in sacred Bhagavad-Gita of Hinduism... occurrence of big bang... Brahman exploding self with a big bang is an absolute truth of life. The cosmic truths detailed in Bhagavad-Gita can never be understood literally... one needs reading in between the lines!.

The concept of atman Brahman is explicit for a serious traveler of spirituality! Unless one believes in concept of atman Brahman... the spiritual path can never be seriously traveled! For reaching the stage of enlightenment (kaivalya jnana) and finally salvation (moksha)... traveling the spiritual path is a necessity!.

One who has full faith in Brahman (termed God Almighty)... one who can travel the spiritual path unflinchingly covers the spiritual journey without much hindrance. In simpler words one cannot view the whole of the ground unless he stands on a higher ground like mountain top! For a serious seeker of spirituality... having absolute faith in Brahman is a must!.

Most human beings on Mother Earth start spiritual travel with ifs and buts... Never realizing that the spiritual path is the most formidable of all journeys one ever travels in life. The spiritual path demands highest level of perfection that can ever be practiced by human beings. Practicing patience, persistence and perseverance at its level best... one finally crosses the ocean of samsara (worldly life).

For reaching Atman soul... for reaching the spirit within... for reaching our real self... our inner self... one needs indulging in yoga meditation that leads one directly to the abode of God (termed Vaikuntha in Hinduism). Realizing our real self... for reaching the stage of self realization... absolute control over five senses and mind is an absolute must.

The journey of spirituality... the journey to our inner self can never be covered halfheartedly! It is only by traveling the spiritual path with all sincerity one can finally realized Self. He then realises the Self is Brhaman and Brhaman is God.

VS Ramachandran: The neurons that shaped civilization.



SPEAKER VILAYANUR RAMACHANDRAN: The Brain expert

Interactive Transcript:

I'd like to talk to you today about the human brain, which is what we do research on at the University of California. Just think about this problem for a second. Here is a lump of flesh, about three pounds, which you can hold in the palm of your hand. But it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space. It can contemplate the meaning of infinity, ask questions about the meaning of its own existence, about the nature of God.

And this is truly the most amazing thing in the world. It's the greatest mystery confronting human beings: How does this all come about? Well, the brain, as you know, is made up of neurons. We're looking at neurons here. There are 100 billion neurons in the adult human brain. And each neuron makes something like 1,000 to 10,000 contacts with other neurons in the brain. And based on this, people have calculated that the number of permutations and combinations of brain activity exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe.

So, how do you go about studying the brain? One approach is to look at patients who had lesions in different part of the brain, and study changes in their behavior. This is what I spoke about in the last TED. Today I'll talk about a different approach which is to put electrodes in different parts of the brain, and actually record the activity of individual nerve cells in the brain. Sort of eavesdrop on the activity of nerve cells in the brain.

Now, one recent discovery that has been made by researchers in Italy, in Parma, by Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues, is a group of neurons called mirror neurons, which are on the front of the brain in the frontal lobes. Now, it turns out there are neurons which are called ordinary motor command neurons in the front of the brain, which have been known for over 50 years. These neurons will fire when a person performs a specific action. For example, if I do that, and reach and grab an apple, a motor command neuron in the front of my brain will fire. If I reach out and pull an object, another neuron will fire, commanding me to pull that object. These are called motor command neurons that have been known for a long time.

But what Rizzolatti found was a subset of these neurons, maybe about 20 percent of them, will also fire when I'm looking at somebody else performing the same action. So, here is a neuron that fires when I reach and grab something, but it also fires when I watch Joe reaching and grabbing something. And this is truly astonishing. Because it's as though this neuron is adopting the other person's point of view. It's almost as though it's performing a virtual reality simulation of the other person's action.

Now, what is the significance of these mirror neurons? For one thing they must be involved in things like imitation and emulation. Because to imitate a complex act requires my brain to adopt the other person's point of view. So, this is important of imitation and emulation. Well, why is that important? Well, let's take a look at the next slide. So, how do you do imitation? Why is imitation important? Mirror neurons and imitation, emulation.

Now, let's look at culture, the phenomenon of human culture. If you go back in time about [75,000] to 100,000 years ago, let's look at human evolution, it turns out that something very important happened around 75,000 years ago. And that is, there is a sudden emergence and rapid spread of a number of skills that are unique to human beings like tool use, the use of fire, the use of shelters, and, of course, language, and the ability to read somebody else's mind and interpret that person's behavior. All of that happened relatively quickly.

Even though the human brain had achieved its present size almost three or four hundred thousand years ago, 100,000 years ago all of this happened very very quickly. And I claim that what happened was the sudden emergence of a sophisticated mirror neuron system, which allowed you to emulate and imitate other people's actions. So that when there was a sudden accidental discovery by one member of the group, say the use of fire, or a particular type of tool, instead of dying out this spread rapidly, horizontally across the population, or was transmitted vertically, down the generations.

So, this made evolution suddenly Lamarckian, instead of Darwinian. Darwinian evolution is slow; it takes hundreds of thousands of years. A polar bear, to evolve a coat, will take thousands of generations, maybe 100,000 years. A human being, a child, can just watch its parent kill another polar bear, and skin it and put the skin on its body, fur on the body, and learn it in one step. What the polar bear took 100,000 years to learn, it can learn in five minutes, maybe 10 minutes. And then once it's learned this it spreads in geometric proportion across a population.

This is the basis. The imitation of complex skills is what we call culture and is the basis of civilization. Now there is another kind of mirror neuron, which is involved in something quite different. And that is, there are mirror neurons, just as there are mirror neurons for action, there are mirror neurons for touch. In other words, if somebody touches me, my hand, neuron in the somatosensory cortex in the sensory region of the brain fires. But the same neuron, in some cases will fire when I simply watch another person being touched. So, it's empathizing the other person being touched.

So, most of them will fire when I'm touched in different locations. Different neurons for different locations. But a subset of them will fire even when I watch somebody else being touched in the same location. So, here again you have neurons which are enrolled in empathy. Now, the question then arises: If I simply watch another person being touched, why do I not get confused and literally feel that touch sensation merely by watching somebody being touched? I mean, I empathize with that person but I don't literally feel the touch. Well, that's because you've got receptors in your skin, touch and pain receptors, going back into your brain and saying "Don't worry, you're not being touched. So, empathize, by all means, with the other person, but do not actually experience the touch otherwise you'll get confused and muddled." .

Okay, so there is a feedback signal that vetos the signal of the mirror neuron preventing you from consciously experiencing that touch. But if you remove the arm, you simply anesthetize my arm, so you put an injection into my arm, anesthetize the brachial plexus, so the arm is numb, and there is no sensations coming in, if I now watch you being touched, I literally feel it in my hand. In other words, you have dissolved the barrier between you and other human beings. So, I call them Gandhi neurons, or empathy neurons.

And this is not in some abstract metaphorical sense, all that's separating you from him, from the other person, is your skin. Remove the skin, you experience that person's touch in your mind. You've dissolved the barrier between you and other human beings. And this, of course is the basis of much of Eastern philosophy, And that is there is no real independent self, aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world, inspecting other people. You are in fact, connected not just via Facebook, and Internet, you're actually quite literally connected by your neurons. And there is whole chains of neurons around this room, talking to each other. And there is no real distinctiveness of your consciousness from somebody else's consciousness.

And this is not mumbo-jumbo philosophy. It emerges from our understanding of basic neuroscience. So, you have a patient with a phantom limb. If the arm has been removed and you have a phantom, and you watch somebody else being touched, you feel it in your phantom. Now the astonishing thing is, if you have pain in your phantom limb, you squeeze the other person's hand, massage the other person's hand, that relieves the pain in your phantom hand, almost as though the neuron were obtaining relief from merely watching somebody else being massaged.

So, here you have my last slide. For the longest time people have regarded science and humanities as being distinct. C.P. Snow spoke of the two cultures: science on the one hand, humanities on the other; never the twain shall meet. So, I'm saying the mirror neuron system underlies the interface allowing you to rethink about issues like consciousness, representation of self, what separates you from other human beings, what allows you to empathize with other human beings, and also even things like the emergence of culture and civilization, which is unique to human beings. Thank you.

About V.S. Ramachandran

V.S. Ramachandran is a mesmerizing speaker, able to concretely and simply describe the most complicated inner workings of the brain. His investigations into phantom limb pain, synesthesia and other brain disorders allow him to explore (and begin to answer) the most basic philosophical questions about the nature of self and human consciousness.

Ramachandran is the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. He is the author of Phantoms in the Brain (the basis for a Nova special), A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness and The Man with the Phantom Twin: Adventures in the Neuroscience of the Human Brain.

"Ramachandran is a latter-day Marco Polo, journeying the silk road of science to strange and exotic Cathays of the mind. He returns laden with phenomenological treasures...which, in his subtle and expert telling, yield more satisfying riches of scientific understanding."
- Richard Dawkins.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sri Pratyangira Devi

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The Pratyangira aspect of the Divine has been a bit of a secret for most of these past ages. Many believed that direct experience with this energy was reserved for Saints and Rishis. Seeing Pratyangira in any form was considered an enormous blessing, and an indication that you were in similar company.


Pratyangira comes from a deep, deep place within the Divine Mother; an area simply known as the Void. In the Void there are no thoughts of fear, or pain, or loss, or want, or time, or even space… just the warmth of the Mother’s love.


As Pratyangira energy manifests, it’s often a very swift and sometimes ferocious current. Many of the Saints who’ve seen it’s energetic expression have described it as half lion and half human. The lion head is that of a male and the body is that of a female, representing the union of Shiva and Shakti. In her full form, she is humongous, with 1008 heads (symbolically representing the 1008-petalled Sahasrara Chakra, the universal chakra of the cosmic energy) and 2016 hands, riding majestically on a chariot pulled by 4 lions (representing the 4 Vedas), carrying many swords for removing obstacles. The jaws of so many lions makes it very powerful for destroying negative karmas, and a great blessing for anyone on a spiritual path. However, such a current can be understandably rough, so it’s wise to approach with respect and some consideration of what our heart is asking for.


Two Rishis in the ancient times, Pratyangira and Angiras, in their deep meditation, discovered this goddess through her Moola Mantra in the ethereal waves of the sound current. And though this Mother is nameless, she honored these Rishis by giving the blessings to be named after them. She has hence been known as Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi. The beejaksharam (seed letter) of her Mantra is ksham (bliss).


Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi is all powerful and secretly protects devotees and others. She is always by the side of Her devotees. She is within each and every being in all planes of existence, and there to be awakened within.


An awareness of Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi has been only quietly known, until recently. Although the Siddha Masters and great Maha Rishis like Sri Dhurvasha Munivar and Puli Paani Siddhar have been devotees of this mother.


It is in that line of great devotion that Amma and Swami are servants to this Mother.


Sri Maha Pratyangira Devi is a powerful Devi who is said to have destroyed Sarabheswara's arrogance. Sarabheswara is a ugra avatar of Siva. She is also known as Narasimhika [in Kalisahasranama Stotram]. She who is the Ferocious Half Human Half Lion of Courage. It is said that when Narashimhika shake her Lion's Mane, she throws the stars into disarray. She is enveloped as bliss in the letter "Ksham".


Sri Pratyangira Devi is also associated with Sri Chakra. She is considered to be a powerful repellent of the influences generated by witch-craft. In Sri Chakra worship, she protects the devotees against all odds and guides him/her along the right path.


In some image she is shown as dark complexion, terrible in aspect, having a lion's face with reddened eyes and riding a lion, entirely nude or wearing black garments, she wears garland of human skulls; her hair strands on end, and she holds a trident, a serpent in the form of a noose, a hand-drum and a skull in her four hands. She is also associates with Bhairava, and she has a variant form viz Atharvana-Bhadra-Kali.


Mother Pratyangira a.k.a AdharvanaBadhrakali is associated with Mother's Narashimi form (female form, Shakthi of Lord Narashima)


DEVI PRATYANGIRA MANTRA


Om Aparajeethayeh Vithmahey

Pratyangirayeh Teemahey

Thano Ugra Prajothayaath...

Om Pratayangirayeh Vithmahey

Sathrunisoothiniyeh Teemahey

Thano Devi Prajothayaath...


OM SHAKTHI

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Myth of the Aryan Invasion Theory

LORD MACAULAY'S ADDRESS TO THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT, 2 FEBRUARY, 1835

The Myth of the Aryan Invasion Theory
By. Shyam Narayan Shukla, Ph.D.


Before mid-nineteenth century no one had heard of Aryans coming to India from out side. One had also not heard that foreign people of “Aryan race” invaded India, conquered the indigenous people of “Dravidian race” and pushed them to southern part of India. However, now all this is part of the Indian history written by the British rulers of India.


Europeans were exposed to Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures sometime in the seventeenth century. They discovered that Sanskrit and the European languages had many common words. Thus the western scholars arrived at a conclusion that the “Indo-European” languages must have had a common origin. Their hypothesis was that from Central Asia a section of Sanskrit speaking Aryans came to India and another section of the same people migrated to Europe.


It was Professor Frederich Max Muller of Oxford University who was responsible for advancing this imaginary “Aryan Invasion Theory”. He called “Arya” (or Aryan) a race even though the Vedas mention nowhere that “Arya” is a race. It actually means one who is well educated and well cultured.


The Rigveda says: “Krinvanto vishvamaryam” (Let us make the entire world “Arya”). It does not mean that people of Mongolian and African races be converted to Aryan race. Only many years later Muller realized his mistake and tried to emphasize that “Arya” does not denote a race but people who speak “Indo-European” languages. But the damage had already been done and his hypothesis of Aryan Invasion Theory had become a historical “fact”.


In the 1830s Lord Thomas Macaulay was appointed Governor General of the Indian provinces won by the East India Company. Macaulay was the son of a Presbyterian minister and his great ambition was to convert India to a Christian country. However, he realized that the Vedas were considered very sacred by all Hindus. Also the Brahmans, who preserved the Vedas, commanded a great respect. Yet he pioneered the English system of education in India with a hope that the effect of his new education system would be “prodigious” (his term).


He wrote to his father, “It is my firm belief that, if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence.”


In 1854, nearly fifteen years after he returned back to England, he used his influence to get some fund from the East India Company for research on the Vedas. He then contacted Horace Wilson, a Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University. Wilson told him that he was retiring the following year and so a younger colleague of his, of German nationality, F. Max Muller would be a better candidate to conduct the research. Muller himself was a staunch Christian.


In 1868 he wrote to Duke of Argyle, Under Secretary of State for India, “The ancient religion of India is doomed – and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?”


Macaulay wanted Muller to write about the Vedas in such a way that they would be considered nothing more than collections of some crude rhymes written by illiterate nomadic Aryan invaders, who came from Central Asia to India on horse backs. Macaulay thought that the attestation of an academician would look more authentic and unquestionable. Max Muller, being a devout Christian, while assigning date of the oldest Veda, the Rigveda, could not give an earlier date than the origin of the world, which according to the Bible is 4004 years before Christ. Later the scientists estimated that the earth is about 6 billion years old. Muller arbitrarily wrote that Aryans came to India in 1500 B.C. and the Rigveda was written in 1200 B.C.


According to Hindu traditions,Kaliyuga started on the day Shri Krishna breathed his last on this earth. When this happened there was a conjunction of seven planets - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, sun and moon. It is astronomically estimated that this occurred on Februay 18, 3102 B.C. The Vedas definitely existed much before this period (the Mahabharata period).


In around 1914, when the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley were excavated, the archeologists found by carbon-dating that they were at least 5,000 years old. They were beautifully planned cities with wide streets, magnificent buildings and good drainage system. The British historians were at a loss because that was going to crumble their Aryan Invasion Theory.




By that time the Aryan invasion and the Aryan-Dravidian conflict had already become part of Indian history and which had happened in 1500 B.C. Then the British archeologist John Marshal and Mortimer Wheeler ‘interpreted’ that the ancient cities excavated were the ruins of Dravidian culture destroyed by the Aryan invaders.


Eventhough Government of India has acknoledged the Aryan Myth as fake an a concoction of British Colonisation, it fails to remove the topic from the education system of the country. The Aryan Theory is still taught in everyday classes throughout India as history and fact despite the overwhelming proves against it. It also a well known fact that Max Muller had confessed of his doing during his later days.

Macaulay's Letter and the Origin of F. Max Muller's Aryan Theory


LORD MACAULAY'S ADDRESS TO THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT, 2 FEBRUARY, 1835


The Myth of the Aryan Invasion Theory
By. Shyam Narayan Shukla, Ph.D.

Before mid-nineteenth century no one had heard of Aryans coming to India from out side. One had also not heard that foreign people of “Aryan race” invaded India, conquered the indigenous people of “Dravidian race” and pushed them to southern part of India. However, now all this is part of the Indian history written by the British rulers of India.

Europeans were exposed to Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures sometime in the seventeenth century. They discovered that Sanskrit and the European languages had many common words. Thus the western scholars arrived at a conclusion that the “Indo-European” languages must have had a common origin. Their hypothesis was that from Central Asia a section of Sanskrit speaking Aryans came to India and another section of the same people migrated to Europe.

It was Professor Frederich Max Muller of Oxford University who was responsible for advancing this imaginary “Aryan Invasion Theory”. He called “Arya” (or Aryan) a race even though the Vedas mention nowhere that “Arya” is a race. It actually means one who is well educated and well cultured.

The Rigveda says: “Krinvanto vishvamaryam” (Let us make the entire world “Arya”). It does not mean that people of Mongolian and African races be converted to Aryan race. Only many years later Muller realized his mistake and tried to emphasize that “Arya” does not denote a race but people who speak “Indo-European” languages. But the damage had already been done and his hypothesis of Aryan Invasion Theory had become a historical “fact”.

In the 1830s Lord Thomas Macaulay was appointed Governor General of the Indian provinces won by the East India Company. Macaulay was the son of a Presbyterian minister and his great ambition was to convert India to a Christian country. However, he realized that the Vedas were considered very sacred by all Hindus. Also the Brahmans, who preserved the Vedas, commanded a great respect. Yet he pioneered the English system of education in India with a hope that the effect of his new education system would be “prodigious” (his term).

He wrote to his father, “It is my firm belief that, if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence.”

In 1854, nearly fifteen years after he returned back to England, he used his influence to get some fund from the East India Company for research on the Vedas. He then contacted Horace Wilson, a Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University. Wilson told him that he was retiring the following year and so a younger colleague of his, of German nationality, F. Max Muller would be a better candidate to conduct the research. Muller himself was a staunch Christian.

In 1868 he wrote to Duke of Argyle, Under Secretary of State for India, “The ancient religion of India is doomed – and if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?”

Macaulay wanted Muller to write about the Vedas in such a way that they would be considered nothing more than collections of some crude rhymes written by illiterate nomadic Aryan invaders, who came from Central Asia to India on horse backs. Macaulay thought that the attestation of an academician would look more authentic and unquestionable. Max Muller, being a devout Christian, while assigning date of the oldest Veda, the Rigveda, could not give an earlier date than the origin of the world, which according to the Bible is 4004 years before Christ. Later the scientists estimated that the earth is about 6 billion years old. Muller arbitrarily wrote that Aryans came to India in 1500 B.C. and the Rigveda was written in 1200 B.C.

According to Hindu traditions,Kaliyuga started on the day Shri Krishna breathed his last on this earth. When this happened there was a conjunction of seven planets - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, sun and moon. It is astronomically estimated that this occurred on Februay 18, 3102 B.C. The Vedas definitely existed much before this period (the Mahabharata period).

In around 1914, when the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley were excavated, the archeologists found by carbon-dating that they were at least 5,000 years old. They were beautifully planned cities with wide streets, magnificent buildings and good drainage system. The British historians were at a loss because that was going to crumble their Aryan Invasion Theory.

By that time the Aryan invasion and the Aryan- Dravidian conflict had already become part of Indian history and which had happened in 1500 B.C. Then the British archeologist John Marshal and Mortimer Wheeler ‘interpreted’ that the ancient cities excavated were the ruins of Dravidian culture destroyed by the Aryan invaders.

Eventhough Government of India has acknoledged the Aryan Myth as fake an a concoction of British Colonisation, it fails to remove the topic from the education system of the country. The Aryan Theory is still taught in everyday classes throughout India as history and fact despite the overwhelming proves against it. It also a well known fact that Max Muller had confessed during his later days

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thiru Onam Festival

Wishing You A Happy Onam Festival

Kathakali Dancer, a common symbol representing the State of Kerala, India
Thiru Onam or Onam is a festival dedicated to the great King Mahabali who ruled the hearts of the people of Kerala. It is a major festival in Kerala which marks the occasion of return of the benevolent and revered king back from netherworld to review the welfare of the subjects he one time ruled on.

Onam, rich in culture and heritage, is celebrated with grandeur and customs galore in the month of ‘Chingam’ of the Malayalam calendar, Kollavarsham.

Cities like Trivandrum, Thrissur & Kottayam would be adorned with decorations & fanfare. The State Government announced ‘Tourism Week’ around this time. What better than caparisoned elephants, glittering fireworks, events, carnivals & the famous Kathakali dance to show your point of a miraculous & joyful inheritance of culture.

The History
The story goes that a long time ago, Kerala had a wise and judicious king in the Asura (Devil), Mahabali. He was not only a benevolent ruler but cared about his subjects with an fatherly devotion. His popularity though, earned the ire of the Gods who feared their thrones and evoked concern from the God mother, Aditi. Hence, Lord Vishnu seeking to remove Aditi’s worries took the avatar of Vamana (a Dwarf) and landed at a Yajna being held by the Devil king Mahabali who was impressed by Vamana and granted him a single wish ignoring the warning by his preceptor, Shukracharya.

The king however, did not budge from his stance since he considered going back on a promise to be a great sin. Vamana wished only for 3 paces of land. Once his simple wish was granted by the king, Lord Vishnu assumed his true form. With one step owned the sky and in the next he conquered the netherworld. Everyone was trembling in anticipation of Earth’s destruction with the Lord’s final step but the tender & loving king offered his head in lieu. He bore the brunt of the last step to be pushed way down to the netherworld but Lord Vishnu couldn’t ignore the sacrifice & honesty which distinguished the great emperor Mahabali. He was allowed to visit his people once a year to ascertain their well-being & then depart in peace to his abode in the netherworld.
Lord Vishnu taking his stride from Netherworld to the Sky
It was said that Lord Vishnu also wanted to free Goddess Lakshmi who was imprisoned by King Bali. One should not confused this occassion with Deepavali.
Different designs of Pookalam
The actual incident is celebrated as the Deepavali festival. Where as the Onam festival is celebrated during when the king visit his subjects during his visit from his netherworld. The celebration is performed to show him the that his sacrifice is not in vain.
Girls designing Pookalam
The Festivities and Cultures
The vanquished king Mahabali is first offered a flowery welcome with every house decorated with a floor decoration called Pookalam. The courtyards, freshly plastered with cow dung for purification purposes, also contain two earthen mounds symbolising both Mahabali and Lord Vishnu. The main Onam’s highlight is its classic feast served on Banana leaves called Ona Sadya. A sweet smelling dessert called Payasam is well accepted by people of all level of society.
Payasam

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sathya Sai Baba - The History

Sathya Sai Baba born Sathyanarayana Raju on 23 November 1926, is a popular South Indian guru, religious figure and educator. He is described by his devotees as an avatar, godman, spiritual teacher and miracle worker. Sathya Sai Baba's "miracles", in which he materializes vibuthi (holy ash) and small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches, have been a source of both fame and controversy – sceptics assert that they are conjuring tricks, while devotees consider them evidence of divinity. Sathya Sai Baba has claimed to be the reincarnation of the great Maharashtrian saint, Shirdi Sai Baba of whose teachings were an eclectic blend of Hindu and Muslim beliefs.


Sathya Sai Baba and his organizations support a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in India and abroad. The number of active Sathya Sai Baba adherents was estimated in 1999 to be around 6 million, although followers' estimations are far higher. Since there are no formal ties of membership, the actual figure may never be known. The Sathya Sai Organization reports that there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries worldwide. In India itself, Sai Baba draws followers from predominantly upper-middle-class, urban sections of society who have the "most wealth, education and exposure to Western ideas." A cultural icon in his home country, Sai Baba has attracted presidents and prime ministers from India and beyond who have become his devotees; in 2002, he claimed to have followers in 178 countries.


Sathyanarayana Raju was born to Eswaramma and Peddavenkama Raju Ratnakaram in the village of Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India. Almost everything known about his life is based on the hagiography that has grown around him, recounting episodes that hold special meaning to his devotees and are considered evidence of his divine nature. His birth, which his mother Eswaramma asserted was by immaculate conception, was said to be heralded by miracles. As a child, he was described as "unusually intelligent" and charitable.


He was exceptionally talented in drama, music, dance and writing, and was an avid composer of poems and plays. He was said to be capable of materialising objects such as food and sweets out of thin air.


Sathya attended the local school in Puttaparthi until the third grade, then was transferred to the Bukkapatnam school. On 8 March 1940, while living with his brother in Uravakonda, Sathya was apparently stung by a scorpion. He lost consciousness for several hours. Within the next few days there was a noticeable change in Sathya's behavior. There were "symptoms of laughing and weeping, eloquence and silence." "He began to sing Sanskrit verses, a language of which he had no prior knowledge." Doctors believed his behavior to be hysteria. His parents brought Sathya home to Puttaparthi. Concerned, they took him to many priests, "doctors" and exorcists.


"On 23rd of May 1940, the symptoms culminated with the disclosure of his divine identity. Sathya called household members and materialized sugar candy and other items". His father who became furious seeing this took a stick thinking his son was bewitched and questioned him Who he was? To this Sathya announced calmly and firmly "I am Sai Baba". The reference he made was to Sai Baba of Shirdi. He proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi -- a saint who became famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Maharashtra, and who had died eight years before Sathya was born.


Sathya Sai Baba declared that he had no worldly relationship with anyone, and gradually devotees began to gather around him. On Thursdays bhajans were sung, which grew to every day. In 1940, Sathya Sai Baba began to travel to Madras and elsewhere in South India and soon had a large regional following.


In 1944, a mandir (temple) for Sathya Sai Baba's devotees was built near the village. It is now referred to as the old mandir. The construction of Prashanthi Nilayam, the current ashram, began in 1948 and after 2 years, was completed in 1950. In 1957 Sathya Sai Baba went on a North Indian temple tour. In 1954, Sathya Sai Baba established a small free General Hospital in the village of Puttaparthi.


In 1963, Sathya Sai Baba suffered a stroke and four severe heart attacks. He is believed to have healed himself from these, and on recovering announced that he would be reborn as Prema Sai Baba in the state of Karnataka.


He said, "I am Siva-Sakthi, born in the gothra (lineage) of Bharadwaja, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva and Sakthi. Siva was born in the gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gothra now; Sakthi alone will incarnate as the third Sai (Prema Sai Baba) in the same gothra in Mysore State."


On 29 June 1968, Sathya Sai Baba made his first, and only, trip overseas, to Uganda. His party proceeded by car to Kampala, the capital city. Narayana Kasturi writes, "During His stay He addressed gatherings of lions and rotarians, doctors, businessmen, members and workers of service organizations," as well as government ministers and officials. During a discourse in Nairobi (Kenya, East Africa) Sathya Sai Baba stated, "I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love." In 1968, he established Dharmakshetra or Sathyam Mandir in Mumbai.


In March 1995, he started the water project to provide drinking water to 1.2 million people in the drought-prone Rayalaseema region in Anantapur. In 1973, he established Shivam Mandir in Hyderabad. On 19 January 1981, in Chennai he inaugurated Sundaram Mandir. In 2001 Sathya Sai Baba established another free Super Speciality hospital in Bangalore to benefit the poor. In april 1999 He inagurated Ananda Nilayam mandir in Madurai,Tamil Nadu.


Since 2005, Sathya Sai Baba has used a wheelchair, and his failing health has forced him to make fewer public appearances. In 2006, he suffered a fractured hip bone when a student fell from a stool he was standing on and accidentally knocked him down. He gives darshan now from a car or his Porte Chair.


He is also known as a singer, having released several CDs of bhajans (devotional songs).


Sathya Sai Baba himself says,"I am beyond the reach of the most intensive enquiry and the most meticulous measurement. Only those who have recognized my love and experienced that love can assert that they have glimpsed my reality. Do not attempt to know me through the external eyes."


Beliefs and practices of devotees

Sathya Sai Baba movement

Sathya Sai Baba has said that his followers do not need to give up their original religion, saying "My objective is the establishment of sanathana dharma, which believes in one God as propitiated by the founders of all religions. So none has to give up his religion or deity."


Internationally, Sathya Sai Baba devotees gather daily or weekly on Sundays (and/or Thursdays) for group devotional singing (bhajans), prayer, spiritual meditation, service to the community (Seva), and to participate in "Education in Human Values" also known as Sai Sunday School.


A primary aspect of Sathya Sai Baba's teachings is the spiritual benefit of darshan for his students. At that time, Sai Baba may interact with people, accept letters, materialize and distribute vibhuti (sacred ash) or call groups or individuals for interviews. Devotees consider it a great privilege to have an interview and sometimes a single person, group or family will be invited for a private interview.


"There is no published formal doctrine or set of rules for the Sai Baba movement."


Ashrams and mandirs

Prashanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh

Puttaparthi, where Sathya Sai Baba was born and still lives, was originally a small remote South Indian village in Andhra Pradesh. Now one can find an extensive University complex, a Super Specialty Hospital, Chaitanya Jyoti (a World-Religions Museum that has won several international awards for design, a Planetarium, a railway station, a hill-view stadium, an administrative building, an airport, an indoor sports stadium and more. High ranking Indian politicians, like the former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah and Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa have been official guests at the ashram in Puttaparthi. During Sathya Sai Baba's recent birthday celebration, it was reported that well over a million people attended, including 13,000 delegates from India and 180 other countries.


Sathya Sai Baba resides much of the time in his main ashram called Prashanthi Nilayam (Abode of Highest Peace) at Puttaparthi. In the hot summer, he leaves for his other ashram, called Brindavan, in Kadugodi, Whitefield, a town on the outskirts of Bangalore. Occasionally he visits his Sai Shruti ashram in Kodaikanal.


Sathya Sai Baba established three primary mandirs (Spiritual centres) in India. The first mandir, founded in Mumbai in 1968, is referred to as either "Dharmakshetra" or "Sathyam".


The second centre, established in Hyderabad in 1973, is referred to as "Shivam". The third centre, inaugurated on 19 January 1981, in Chennai, is referred to as "Sundaram".


Institutions, organizations and projects
Sathya Sai Organization

The Sathya Sai Organisation (or Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation) was founded in the 1960s by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The first Sai Centers were started in India under the name Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi. The Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation originated "to enable its members to undertake service activities as a means to spiritual advancement." According to the Sathya Sai Organization, there are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 130 countries worldwide. Its current chairperson is Michael Goldstein.



Sri Sai Baba Hospital, Manglore - Karnataka, India


Sathya Sai Baba further explains the quality of service expected of the organization. "The Organisations named after Me are not to be used for publicising My Name, or creating a new cult around My worship. They must try to spread interest in jabam (recitation of God's Name), dhyaanam (meditation) and other sadhanas (spiritual practices), which lead man Godward; they must demonstrate the joy derivable from bhajan (devotional group singing) and Naamasmarana (remembering God's Name), the Shanthi (peace) that one can draw from Sathsang (good company). They must render seva (service) to the helpless, the sick, the distressed, the illiterate and the needy. Their seva (selfless service) should not be exhibitionistic; it must seek no reward, not even gratitude or thanks from the recipients. Seva is sadhana (spiritual exercise), not a pastime of the rich and well placed. Each one must realize this truth."


Projects

The International Sai Organization hosts a number of various institutes, trusts and associations. They include:
* Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust.
* Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust -Publications Division.
* Radio Sai.

Educational Institutions
* Sathya Sai Schools and Institutes.
* Sri Sathya Sai University. The University founded by Sathya Sai Baba in 1981, which provides free education on three campuses: Ananthapur (for women), Prasanthi Nilayam (for men), and Brindavan (for men, on the outskirts of Bangalore).
* Sai International Centre for Human Values.

Sri Sathya Sai Medical Trust
* Primary Health Care - Medical camps organised to visit orphanages, old age homes, leprosy homes etc.
* Secondary Healthcare (The general hospitals) Sri Sathya Sai General Hospitals in Prasanthi Nilayam and Whitefield, Bangalore, render free medical aid.
* Tertiary Health Care (the super-speciality hospitals) These hospitals provide excellent patient care facilities to all, free of cost.
* Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Science. There are two campuses, one being in Prasanthi Nilayam, A.P. and the other in Whitefield, Karnataka, India.

Ashrams
* Prasanthi Nilayam, in Puttaparthi, Andra Pradesh.
* Brindavan, in Whitefield (on the outskirts of Bangalore).
* Kodai Kanal, a "hill station" in the south of India.

Service, Devotion and Education Wings.

Drinking Water Supply Projects.


Activities of the Organization


* Spiritual activities include devotional singing, study circles, public lectures, seminars, meditation etc.
* Educational activities cover 'Bal Vikas' (for children) and Education in Human Values Programmes, besides formal academic education combined with the development of the character of the students for age group of 6 to 15.
* Service activities include items such as organizing medical check-up camps, adoption of under-developed villages for accelerating rural development, blood donation, old age homes, etc.


Sathya Sai Baba supports a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in over 166 countries. The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in Prashanthi Nilayam is the only college in India to have received an "A++" rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission). His charity supports the Institute of Music and the Institute of Higher Learning in Anantapur, which is a women's college.


Sathya Sai Baba chairs the Muddenahalli-Sathya Sai Loka Seva School and Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust Educational Institutions in Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura regions. In addition, a Sathya Sai Baba University and Medical School as well as a world class Hospital and Research Institute are being constructed on over 200 acres to serve the destitute population. Baba has said that the campus will be modeled after Puttaparthi and will infuse spirituality with academics.


Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital, Whitefield (suburb of Bangalore), Karnataka, India


The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi is a 220 bed facility that provides free surgical and medical care and was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao on 22 November 1991. The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore is a 333 bed hospital meant to benefit the poor. The hospital was inaugurated on 19 January 2001 by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The hospital has provided free medical care to over 250,000 patients.


The Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital was opened in Whitefield, Bangalore, in 1977 and provides complex surgeries, food and medicines free of cost. The hospital has treated over 2 million patients.


The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust runs several general hospitals, two specialty hospitals, eye hospitals and mobile dispensaries and conducts medical camps in rural and slum areas in India. The Trust has also funded several major drinking water projects. One project completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai through a rebuilt waterway named "Sathya Sai Ganga Canal".


Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi praised the Chennai water project and Sai Baba's involvement. Other completed water projects include the Medak District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar District Project benefitting 350,000 people in 141 villages. In January 2007, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust said it would start a drinking water project in Latur, Maharashtra.


Sathya Sai Baba's Educare program seeks to found schools throughout the world with the goal of educating children in the five human values. According to the Sai Educare site, schools have been founded in 33 countries, including Australia, Mexico, UK and Peru. The Times of Zambia states, "The positive influence of Sathya Sai is unprecedented in the annals of education in Zambia. Sai Baba's education ideals as embodied in his human values-based approach in education are an eye opener to educationists in Zambia."


In Canada, the Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, ranked the Sathya Sai School of Canada as one of the top 37 elementary schools in Ontario. The Sathya Sai School scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in the Institute's overall rating for academic performance.


On 23 November 1999, the Department of Posts, Government of India, released a postage stamp and a postal cover in recognition of the service rendered by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in addressing the problem of providing safe drinking water to the rural masses.


On 23 November 2001, the digital radio network "Radio Sai Global Harmony" was launched through the World Space Organization, USA. Dr. Michael Oleinikof Nobel (distant relative to Alfred Nobel and one of the patrons for the radio network) said that the radio network would spread Sathya Sai Baba's message of global harmony and peace.


The Sathya Sai School of Canada began the Walk for Values in 2003. The Walk for Values is an annual walk to raise awareness for the five human values: Love, Peace, Truth, Non-Violence and Right-Conduct, No money is solicited, "instead, people are asked to pledge to try to live up to one or more of the human values in their lives." Some have said, "It is a human movement forward, a call to attention, a walk to adopt a value for life." The 2009 Walk for Values took place in various Canadian cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia (Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and the United States (New York City, Seattle, Dallas. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper commended all those who walked "for their commitment to making a difference in the world."


In January 2007, an event was held in Chennai Nehru stadium organised by the Chennai Citizens Conclave to thank Sathya Sai Baba for the 200 crore water project which brought water from the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai city. Four chief ministers attended the function.


"Miracles"

Followers say they have observed Sathya Sai Baba manifesting vibuthi (holy ash), and sometimes food and small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches. In some books, magazines, filmed interviews and articles, Sathya Sai Baba's followers report miracles of various kinds that they attribute to him. Devotees have said that objects have appeared spontaneously in connection with pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Baba's devotees believe that he relieves his devotees by transferring their pain to himself. (Please refer to the video in the previous posting).


Sathya Sai Baba has explained the phenomenon of manifestation as being an act of divine creation, but refused to have his materializations investigated under experimental conditions. In a 1974 discourse, he stated, "The optical sense cannot visualize the truth. It gives only false and fogged information. For example, there are many who observe my actions and start declaring that my nature is such and such."


In April 1976, Dr. H. Narasimhaiah, a physicist, rationalist and then vice chancellor of Bangalore University, founded and chaired a committee "to rationally and scientifically investigate miracles and other verifiable superstitions". Haraldsson stated that Narasimhaiah wrote Sathya Sai Baba a polite letter and two subsequent letters that were widely publicized in which he publicly challenged Baba to perform his miracles under controlled conditions. Sathya Sai Baba said that he ignored Narasimhaiah's challenge because he felt his approach was improper. Sathya Sai Baba further said about the Narasimhaiah committee, "Science must confine its inquiry only to things belonging to the human senses, while spiritualism transcends the senses. If you want to understand the nature of spiritual power you can do so only through the path of spirituality and not science. What science has been able to unravel is merely a fraction of the cosmic phenomena ..." According to Erlendur Haraldsson, the formal challenge from the committee came to a dead end because the negative attitude of the committee was obvious and perhaps because of all the fanfare involved. Narasimhaiah stated that he considered the fact that Sathya Sai Baba ignored his letters as one among several indications that his miracles are fraudulent. As a result of this episode, a public debate raged for several months in Indian newspapers. Narasimhaiah's committee was dissolved in August 1977.


Sathya Sai Baba says of "miracles", "those who profess to have understood me, the scholars, the yogis, the pundits, the jnanis, all of them are aware only of the least important, the casual external manifestation of an infinitesimal part of that power, namely, the "miracles"! This has been the case in all ages. People may be very near (physically) to the Avathar, but they live out their lives unaware of their fortune; they exaggerate the role of miracles, which are as trivial, when compared to my glory and majesty, as a mosquito is in size and strength to the elephant upon which it squats. Therefore, when you speak about these 'miracles,' I laugh within myself out of pity that you allow yourself so easily to lose the precious awareness of my reality."


Criticism and controversy

The British journalist Mick Brown discussed in his 1998 book that Sathya Sai Baba's claim of "resurrecting" the American Walter Cowan in 1971 was probably untrue. His opinion was based on the letters from attending doctors, provided in the Indian Skeptic magazine (published by Premanand). Mick Brown also related, in the same book, his experiences with manifestations of vibuthi, from Sathya Sai Baba's pictures in houses in London, which he felt were not fraudulent or the result of trickery. Brown wrote with regards to Sathya Sai Baba's claims of omniscience, that "skeptics have produced documentation clearly showing discrepancies between Baba's reading of historical events and biblical prophecies and the established accounts."


The magazine India Today published in December 2000 a cover story about Baba and allegations of fake miracles by the magician P. C. Sorcar, Jr.. In a BBC documentary Basava Premanand, a skeptic and amateur magician, expressed his opinion that he thinks Baba is faking materialisation and has been investigating Sathya Sai Baba since 1968. He sued Sathya Sai Baba in 1986 for violation of the Gold Control Act for Sathya Sai Baba's purported "materializations" of gold objects. The case was dismissed, but Premanand unsuccessfully appealed on the ground that claimed spiritual power is not a defense recognized in law.


The Vancouver Sun in 2001 reported that Sathya Sai Baba told his adherents not to sign on to the World Wide Web due to the rapid allegations circulating on various Internet sites and in a few newspapers. Although the article does not offer any direct quotes as to what Sathya Sai Baba actually said, in a 2000 public discourse Sathya Sai Baba did say, "These teachings (the Vedas) are highly sacred. Today people are ready to believe all that they see on television and internet but do not repose their faith in the Vedic declarations. Internet is like a waste paper basket. Follow the 'innernet,' not the internet."


The Salon.com's "Untouchable" article published in 25 July 2001 reported that after Conny Larsson, a Swedish film star alleged his abuse allegations the Sai Organization in Sweden along with a Sai-affiliated school was shut down. It also carried other allegations. The article stated that though controversies surround these ventures, even Sathya Sai Baba's critics admit that he has helped to ease the region's suffering. Illustrated Weekly of India stated that no one doubted the numerous philanthropic works conducted by the Sai organization regardless of the controversial divine status of Baba.


Documentaries produced by the BBC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, analyzing videos of the supposed miracles, suggest that they can be explained as sleight of hand tricks. In the 1995 TV documentary Guru Busters, produced by filmmaker Robert Eagle for UK's Channel 4, Sathya Sai Baba was accused of faking his materializations. A videotape was provided which suggested that magician's tricks were being utilized. The same videotape was mentioned in the Deccan Chronicle, on 23 November 1992, on a front page headline "DD Tape Unveils Baba Magic".


In 2004, the BBC aired the documentary entitled The Secret Swami in the United Kingdom and also on BBC World in its series 'The World Uncovered'. One central theme of the BBC documentary was based on Alaya Rahm's sexual abuse allegations about Sathya Sai Baba. The documentary interviewed him together with Mark Roche, who had devoted 25 years of his life since 1969 to the movement and alleged abuse by him. A spokesman for the BBC told Asian Voice that the documentary had gone to great lengths to be balanced and fair, and that the story was one of a crisis and ultimately a betrayal of faith. Another documentary, Seduced By Sai Baba, carried interviews of abuse allegations. It was produced by Denmark's national television and radio broadcast company, Denmarks Radio (DR).


Responses to criticism

Neither Sathya Sai Baba nor any organizations associated with him have been charged or convicted for sexual abuse or any other crime in a court of law.


Alaya Rahm filed a lawsuit against the 'Sathya Sai Baba Society' in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005. On April 7, 2006 Alaya Rahm withdrew his lawsuit after indications that his challenge lacked merit. The case was dismissed 'with prejudice' meaning it cannot be filed for the same claims again. The Pioneer also noted that no offers of monetary settlement were paid to Alaya Rahm.


During an interview with Asian Voice magazine Ashok Bhagani, a trustee of the Sai Organization in the UK, said that the allegations in the Secret Swami BBC documentary were baseless. Bhagani said that devotees never meet Baba alone.


Lawrence A. Babb states, "he is certainly more than the mere parlour trick magician many of his critics claim that he is."


Devotee Bill Aitken (traveller) was quoted by The Week as saying that Sathya Sai Baba's reputation has not been harmed by the negative stories published about the guru. He opined that the more detractors rail against Sathya Sai Baba, the more new devotees went to see him.


In the Divine Downfall published in the Daily Telegraph Professor Anil Kumar, the ex-Principal of the Sathya Sai educational Institute said that he believed that the controversy is part of Baba's divine plan and that every great religious teacher had to face criticism in his/her lifetime. Anil Kumar also said that allegations have been leveled at Sathya Sai Baba since childhood, but with every criticism he becomes more and more triumphant.


In an official letter released to the general public in December 2001, A.B. Vajpayee (then Prime Minister of India), P.N. Bhagawati (Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Ranganath Misra (Chair Person, National Human Rights Commissioner of India and Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Najma Heptulla (President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; UNDP Distinguished Human Development Ambassador) and Shivraj Patil (Member of Parliament, India; Formerly of the Lok Sabha & Union Minister) all signed a letter which stated as follows "We are deeply pained and anguished by the wild, reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. We would normally expect that responsible media would ascertain the true facts before printing such calumny - especially when the person is revered globally as an embodiment of love and selfless service to humanity. Since this professional ethic has not been observed by a section of the media, we have elected to go public with this signed statement."


The Times Of India article, dated 26 December 2000, said that Sathya Sai Baba "lashed" out at his detractors referring to the criticism printed in a magazine, the newspaper quoted him saying as follows "Jesus Christ underwent many hardships and was put to the cross because of jealousy. Many around him could not bear the good work he did and the large number of followers he gathered. One of his disciples, Judas betrayed him". Further it says Baba said "Today there are thousands just as that Judas was tempted to betray Jesus, the Judases of today too are bought out to lie. Jealousy was the motive behind the allegations levelled at him".


Sathya Sai Baba responded to the allegations against him in a public discourse on 25 December 2000. He states that "Some people out of their mean-mindedness are trying to tarnish the image of Sai Baba. I am not after name and fame. So, I do not lose anything by their false allegations. My glory will go on increasing day by day. It will never diminish even a bit if they were to publicize their false allegations in the whole world in bold letters. Some devotees seem to be perturbed over these false statements. They are not true devotees at all.


Having known the mighty power of Sai, why should they be afraid of the 'cawing of crows'? One should not get carried away by all that is written on walls, said in political meetings or the vulgar tales carried by the print media."


Whether it is true or not, Sai Baba's popularity and followers are still growing despite the controversies. His methods maybe wrong in eyes of the critics but his contributions certainly had helped a lot of the poors.


I had described the pro and the cons and it is up to the readers to decide whether to believe or not.

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