REVIEW

Ramakrishna: A Lover of God

March 01, 2009
Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta

The Ramakrishna Mission has been an integral part of my growing up. My grand parents, uncles and aunts, my parents, my wider family all have been associated with this mission. And singing in front of Ma Kali and slipping into a near trance was quite common back then. While I was growing up, two things happened which are pertinent. The first related to the regular visits to the Mission in Bhopal. At that time, it was in the middle of a vast stony rocky field. A temple of calmness in the midst of a very stark landscape. And you would get a sense of peace as soon as you entered the temple grounds. The teachers over there were wonderful, they wore simple clothes and their laughter was so wonderful. A childlike wonder at the world all the time and infinite patience to deal with zillions of questions. I regret to say that I do not remember their names. Singing the bhajans and the trance like state one would enter while singing to Ma Kali, just wonderful. Even now, it brings a strange sort of peace to myself and tears to the eyes.

The second related aspect was my visit to Vivekananda Rock. If somebody asks me if I have met God, I say in the affirmative and that is one of the places I met him face to face. Strange no? So when I read this paper: Kali's child and Krishna's lover: An anatomy of Ramakrishna's Caritas Divina by Narasingha P Sil of Western Oregon University, published in Journal of Religion, 2008, I felt the tug of memories so badly. I quote the abstract:

The famous 19th-century Bengali saint Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has almost universally been regarded as a Shakta (sometimes confused with Tantrika) devotee of the Mother Goddess Kali. His association with the Kali temple at Daksineshvar, in the northern suburb of Calcutta, has no doubt been a powerful argument behind his Shakta/Tantrika affiliation. This paper argues that Ramakrishna was essentially a bhakta (devotee) in the Vaisnava tradition and his cultural and family inheritance. His idea of the divine and his career and logia as a priest and a saint provide ample justification to consider him essentially a Vaisnava whose spiritual battle-cry was to demand to have dalliance with God.

The paper tries to decompose his feelings and his religious leanings by a variety of references, ranging from references to tantrik aspects to Vedanta to you name it. After reading the rather bewildering variety of references and attempts to decompose his faith, I was lost. But in the middle, the author hits on the precise nature of this wonderful man and I quote:

Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that Bengali folk culture essentializes simple fiducia and that Ramakrishna, an untrained and unread temple priest (although initiated into Shakti or Kali mantra by a professional priest named Kenaram Bhattacharya) cannot be pigeonholed neatly in any one sect formally. In other words, he was basically a lover of god

That is it. You really do not need a full fledged scholarly paper to know what he was, he was a lover of God. He investigated Islam and Christianity, delved into Buddhism and found that at end of the day, all paths lead to the same God. Sometimes, I think we make our relationship with God far too complicated. It is not, it is very simple. She loves us and we just need to love her back. Be like a Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, just love her.

It is very difficult to explain this feeling of wanting to be one with God or personally speaking, one with Ma (whether it be Kali or Shakti or Durga, or what have you, they are all the same) but it is an indescribable feeling and I tear up every time I experience it. But still, the article is good, if nothing else for the good discussion on tantric scriptures and practises, Vedanta and Ramakrishna’s life.

Oh!, the references are good as well.

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Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta works in the city of London in various capacities in the financial sector. He has worked and travelled widely around the world. The articles in here relate to his current studies and are strictly his opinion and do not reflect the position of his past or current employer(s). If you do want to blame somebody, then blame my sister and editor, she is responsible for everything, the ideas, the writing, the quotes, the drive, the israeli-palestinian crisis, global warming, the ozone layer depletion and the argentinian debt crisis.
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#1
Srini
March 2, 2009
10:45 AM

Please chant the mantra below. This is the ONLY way to go back to godhead in this life. Everything else is a mere waste of time.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

and be happy!!

#2
kerty
March 2, 2009
11:57 AM

"You really do not need a full fledged scholarly paper to know what he was, he was a lover of God. He investigated Islam and Christianity, delved into Buddhism and found that at end of the day, all paths lead to the same God. Sometimes, I think we make our relationship with God far too complicated."

One really have to be a village idiot to buy such claptrap at a face value. No serious scholar of religion would agree to it. No true believer of Islam, xinity or Buddhism fall for it. At the end of a day, it is a BS meant to delude. And some of these ascetics can be a deluded lot, trying to see the world as it is but thru their own delusions. Talk of going back to godhead, knowing or seeing god, talking or hearing to god is pure BS. There is no consensus among religions or humanity at large if god exists, what it looks like, what it embodies, how to realize it - and if some lunatic, out of the blue, 'reveals' he has seen one and seen it for all religions, you have to question his sanity first. Religions represent altogether different and antithetical metaphysics and world views, and that is why they will always remain at odds with each other - one can see and experience other religions thru a given religion's own metaphysics and world view, but that does not make it scholarly, authoritative, objective or truthful.

#3
Morris
March 2, 2009
12:34 PM

kerty
Who is lunatic? Is this all rant about Ramakrishna? Are you serious?

#4
BD
URL
March 2, 2009
03:11 PM

#2, Kerty, I am not really sure what you are aiming at.

There is a scholarly taxonomy that is used by scholars of Hinduism and currently there is a debate about where Ramakrishna falls within that taxonomy. The paper I reviewed falls into the pure vedanta bit and I topped and tailed it with some personal comments.

And no, I do not agree with you that they will always remain at odds with each other, that's where vedantism and "sarva dharma sambhav" comes from.

perhaps I am not understanding your point, could you please explain?

#5
kerty
March 2, 2009
03:57 PM

BD

"I do not agree with you that they will always remain at odds with each other, that's where vedantism and "sarva dharma sambhav" comes from"

Vedantism is just one of many schools of Hindu thoughts. It can not trump or interpret all other schools of thoughts within Hinduism, nor all other religions, many of whom reject the authority and world view of Veda.

'Sarva Dharma Sambhav' does not translate into 'Sarva Panth Samabhav' or 'Sarva Religion Sambhav'. Concept of Dharma and its inclusiveness are alien to other religions, and are not embraced by them. In order to encompass 'Sarva Dharma Sambhav' to all other Panths and religions, one has to reject the very Dharma that is supposed to hold it together. That is why secularism built around 'sarva dharma sambhav' has not delivered as it ends up rejecting the very dharma, and eventually losing the sambhav too. 'Sarva Dharma Sambhav' can not rest on slight of hand, linguistic trickery, intellectual dishonesty in order to fulfill its mandate.

#6
KALYAN
March 2, 2009
04:07 PM

Kerty-ji,

Perhaps this needs to be rephrased differently. Mystics throughout the world have had similar experience regarding the oneness of everything. Whether it be MEISTER ECKERT, or ST THERESA of AVILA, or AL HALLAJ or AL BASADI, their experiences have all been similar. In this world of oneness there is no subject-object difference. It is a complete whole, completely indescribable, but worthy of experience. Thakur, was obviously referring to this oneness when he spoke about the common roots of religions. A more contemporary Saint BHAGWAN RAMANAMAHRISHI also spoke about the oneness of experience. For us mortals, there will always be this subject-object difference, leading to different religions and traditions. However HINDUS alone keep saying that all religions are same because of the intuitiveness of their tradition. In other words from a phenomenal world perspective "all religions are same" is a crap only to be believed by the gullible Hindus. But from an absolute perspective, "all spiritual traditions" are same is the TRUTH, as affirmed by innumerable MYSTIC SEERS of all religions and lands. Hope I have clarified it to you.

#7
BD
URL
March 2, 2009
04:13 PM

kerty, #5, i am not really very sure what you are aiming at with your point. That's not the point of this article which was a review of a scholarly paper.

I did not say that vedantaism is the only school of thought or that Ramakrishna was looking to trump other religions or other religions do this or that.

#8
BD
URL
March 2, 2009
04:14 PM

kerty, #5, i am not really very sure what you are aiming at with your point. That's not the point of this article which was a review of a scholarly paper.

I did not say that vedantaism is the only school of thought or that Ramakrishna was looking to trump other religions or other religions do this or that.

Also, gullible Hindu's? So you do believe in Maya? :)

#9
BD
URL
March 2, 2009
04:18 PM

kalyan

we are again getting confused with the path to god and god herself. Lets not make this very complicated. Each has his/her own way to God. Within Hinduism itself there are zillions of different paths, forget about other religions.

But to go back to the point, what do you think of vendantism and its links with tantricism?

#10
KALYAN
March 2, 2009
04:26 PM

Hi Kerty-ji

To continue my earlier post, I need to ask you a question. Is it possible to see your own eyes? The answer is "no", unless you take the support of a mirror. So also to experience GOD you need an external object at least initially. But unfortunately majority of us pursue this external search for GOD as be all, end all approach. Take for example the Islamists. They are the worlds greatest Idolaters, with their KAABA and related stuff. This is also true for a majority of CHRISTIANISM following church goers. Their search for GOD is only a futile exercise. Also historically speaking these two traditions have always suppressed their MYSTICS who experienced oneness of experience, subjectively. So all those atheists, and Semitic tradition believers have never been able to see GOD precisely because of this objective search for GOD. GOD is not something to be objectively seen or pursued; it is has to experienced. OK, if you are not comfortable with the term GOD, please use the term "UNDERLYING CAUSE" or TRUTH". GOD these days is a SEMITIC word.

#11
KALYAN
March 2, 2009
04:39 PM

BD-Ji,


Why use GOD, let's use TRUTH or FIRST PRINCIPLES. Nomenclature doesn't really matter. As for the confusion in my post, I was merely referring to Thakurs experience. I totally agree with you when you say that each one of must have the freedom to pursue his or her own path to understand the final TRUTH. One small request, please do not use VEDANTISM or HINDUISM, as ISM means ideology, and therefore "not-truth". CHRISTIANS always refer to their tradition as being a Christian (CHRISTIANITY), and call other traditions by adding an "ISM" at the end. Perhaps they are afraid of ISLAMISTS, thereby keeping it simple as "ISLAM". It is time for us to wake up to their skullduggery. Regarding your question about linkages between VEDANTA and TANTRA, I shall post whatever I know tomorrow.

#12
kerty
March 2, 2009
06:44 PM

BD

"I did not say that vedantaism is the only school of thought or that Ramakrishna was looking to trump other religions or other religions do this or that."

That is implied when a Vedantist makes sweeping claims about experiences and validity of all other paths and religions.

#13
kerty
March 2, 2009
07:24 PM

Kalyan

"Mystics throughout the world have had similar experience regarding the oneness of everything. Whether it be MEISTER ECKERT, or ST THERESA of AVILA, or AL HALLAJ or AL BASADI, their experiences have all been similar. In this world of oneness there is no subject-object difference. It is a complete whole, completely indescribable, but worthy of experience."

Well. At some abstract level, not only spiritual traditions and religions, but ALL realities melt away too. At sub-atomic level, we all are nothing but particles and/or waves, and there are no differences among us. Yet, we can not live at abstract or particle level. Creation can not be sustained by wave consciousness. Creation dissolves at that level. So wave consciousness can not be God or truth consciousness. Those waves need to evolve into elaborate forms, arrangements and mayas. They need Dharma to hold them together, sustain them. That is the essence of God's creative force. One can not sell wave consciousness as God consciousness or truth. Former dissolves, later creates and sustains.

#14
BD
URL
March 3, 2009
12:39 AM

kerty #12, from what I understand reading his biography and his student's works, his experiments with various other religions lead him to believe that. Given the fact that he is considered to be one of the significant reasons for the improvement and rise in Hinduism, I do think that his thoughts and personal example are pretty claim worthy. You might disagree, but his history, his successors histories, his mission's history and all their achievements show that pretty much his thoughts have validity.

But I understand your point about you being in maya.

#15
Ledzius
March 3, 2009
12:56 AM

Kerty has a valid point. So far, all this talk of "all religions essentially lead to the same God" has been one-way and asserted by saints who were born Hindu. Eg, Sree Sree Ravi Shankar, Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba, Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekanada, etc.

For them to validate this claim, authorities of those other religions should lend their support to such statements, otherwise it would lack footing in a serious theological discussion. So far, to my knowledge, there hasn't been an ulema or a clergyman who has openly supported such a claim. If there is no authority from other religions that come half way to lend support, then one wonders the real agenda behind some Hindu saints repeatedly making these sort of statements.

Maybe it is to make believers feel good, more than anything else, while at the same time carving out their own following base.

Of course, there are a lot of gullible masses out there (including many new-age socialites from the upper crusts of society who would of course provide the major funding and publicity). But most serious theologists would probably laugh at this kind of charade.




The only ones who would readily subscribe to such claims would

#16
Ayan Roy
March 3, 2009
01:16 AM

Um, "Serious" theologists and "laughing" do not go together! It's a perfect oxymoron.
"Serious" theologists are unfortunately so egoistical, stuck-up, bitter, negative and cynical about everything in life that they just forget how to laugh, and keep complaining about everything and keep criticizing everything which does not match their own beliefs.
They just cannot take their "theology" lightly, and fail to realize that life can be beautiful and jolly if you wish to see it like that.

Yes, Ramakrishna Paramahansa was regarded as a madman by many people in his time. But his simple childlike devotion, his selfless humanitarian service to the poor, destitues, prostitues, lepers and the downtrodden, and his Taoist like profound but simple teaching about truths of life won him a tremendous number of followers in the Eastern part of India.

One of Ramakrishna's one-liners which has tremendous value even today, is (in Bengali)
"Taaka Maati, Maati taaka"
("money is dirt, dirt is money")

#17
kerty
March 3, 2009
01:32 AM

BD

"Given the fact that he is considered to be one of the significant reasons for the improvement and rise in Hinduism, I do think that his thoughts and personal example are pretty claim worthy."

What basis you make such claims that his thoughts and personal examples have contributed to improvement or rise in Hinduism? Because he built missions and ashrams and attracted devotes?

I make the opposite claims that his reductionist interpretations and religious relativism have weakened Hinduism and help it uproot from India. His vedantism has amounted to eating the mango and discarding the mango tree as unedibale. It is just a matter of time when there are no mango trees left, nor any mangoes to eat. I gave the analogy of wave consciousness vs God consciousness how the former can become reductionist and negationist towards dharma and creation. Similar analogy applies to Vedantism vs hinduism and Hindu civilization.

"I understand your point about you being in maya"

I do not recall making this point. May be you can explain what you understand.

#18
Ledzius
March 3, 2009
01:37 AM

"Taaka Maati, Maati taaka"
("money is dirt, dirt is money")

A beautiful explanation of the whole Singur controversy, that too coming from a Bengali!!

#19
BD
URL
March 3, 2009
04:29 PM

kerty, you said that hindu's were gullible, that's maya no?

but lets go back to your point in #17. You got my answer about my claim about him being a Hindu good egg based upon his religious heritage, but I dont see your claim backed by facts. You have made an argument, but would like to hear your facts about how Hinduism has been weakened and uprooted from India.

#20
BD
URL
March 3, 2009
04:38 PM

Lezdius #15, we have, approximately and depending upon who you ask, about 300 million to 3 million gods, deities, incarnations and the like. And this is within Hinduism itself.

Presumably you do believe that irrespective of which god, deity, incarnation one believes in, one is ultimately reaching towards Brahman? or do you believe that the end result of worshiping Vishnu versus Shiva means that you are worshiping different Gods and the application reaches different ends?

The fact that we have the seeds of multiple paths inside our own religion allows us to make that judgement call that all religions reach towards the same goal.

But look forward to your thoughts about Maya or the duality in Hinduism or the concept of Brahman.

#21
Morris
March 3, 2009
08:00 PM

Ledzius #15

"So far, all this talk of "all religions essentially lead to the same God" has been one-way and asserted by saints who were born Hindu. Eg, Sree Sree Ravi Shankar, Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba, Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekanada, etc.

For them to validate this claim, authorities of those other religions should lend their support to such statements, otherwise it would lack footing in a serious theological discussion."

For Hindus it is easy to say that because their scriptures tell them so. And for those who have experienced reality they know that once you are there the religion is irrelevant. That is why they try different religions and still exprience the same thing. I don't think one needs a religion to experience God, Divine or Reality. Once you are there the path you have taken to reach there has lost its importance.

Authorities of other religions will not agree that all religions lead to the same God. That is contrary to their teaching. But I am interested to learn whether enlightened saints of other faiths came to a similar conclusion as those of Hindu faith. What did MEISTER ECKERT, or ST THERESA of AVILA, or AL HALLAJ or AL BASADIIt say about that. Did they try other religions? It is important to find out what they thought not the authorities.

#22
kerty
March 4, 2009
01:14 AM

Morris

"for those who have experienced reality they know that once you are there the religion is irrelevant. That is why they try different religions and still exprience the same thing."

That is where my mango analogy applies. Without mango tree, (which by itself is bark and leaves and not edible) there can be no mangoes. So you don't discard mango tree once you have had your feed of the mangoes. If a person can't understand even this basic simple truth, than that person is still half-baked, and not fully wise and self-realized. Religion provide infrastructure, and just because you are done with it, you don't pull it down so no body else can use it.

Once you are fully rich, you may not need to work to make a living, but that does not mean you give up money, and have no use of money. Similarly, once you become self-realized, you may not need rigorous spiritual/religious exercises to gain enlightenment, but it does not mean one has no more use of religion. The enlightenment leads to Bhakti, where one falls in love with some facets of religion rather than renounce the religion. Religion becomes more relevant to such persons and they dedicate their life to it. Religion never becomes irrelevant. Those who claim so are fraud, probably trying to break free and invent their own cults.

Similarly, claims that all religions give the same realizations/experiences once you are fully self-realized is also a fraud because it is built on another fraudulent claim that religions become irrelevant after one becomes self-realized. Religions becoming irrelevant is not the same thing as religions giving same realizations/experiences. After you have arrived at Mumbai, you can not claim to others that there is no difference between a bicycle, car, plane, bullock cart, horse or a donkey heading towards any directions, that they are all same, and they all will take them to Mumbai, that all directions ultimatrely reach to Mumbai. People would call it a fraud.

"I don't think one needs a religion to experience God, Divine or Reality."

Reality can be shaped any number of ways. Life can be lived any number of ways. Humanity can subsist at any denominators - animal, savage, Rakshasa, human, divine, anarchy, civilized. To make humanity divine and god-conscious, religion is needed. Just as you would need education and laws to civilize humanity.

#23
Kerty
March 4, 2009
02:02 AM

BD

"kerty, you said that hindu's were gullible, that's maya no?"

That was Kalyan's comment, not mine. And he didn't use the word Maya. That is your interpretation. Being gullible is not Maya or illusion or imaginary, its is an actual state of being. The word maya has many meanings in common parlance, and none of us were discussing religious or philosophical meaning of maya as it is not relevant to the topic.

#24
BD
URL
March 4, 2009
02:06 AM

ah!

then when you said this, "One really have to be a village idiot to buy such claptrap at a face value." you didnt mean that people were gullible?

and quite interesting you point to relevance of the topic, lol

no worries, I see where you are coming from. thanks for the comments.

#25
Kerty
March 4, 2009
03:04 AM

BD

""One really have to be a village idiot to buy such claptrap at a face value." you didnt mean that people were gullible?"


That was in reference to "You really do not need a full fledged scholarly paper to know what he was..." and people who are willing to be taken in by a certified lunatic and his dubious claims. People can be ignorant, half-baked, crazy, gullible and what not. But what has that got to do with Maya? As if you have found some clinching argument in it.

#26
Ledzius
March 4, 2009
03:07 AM

Morris - "For Hindus it is easy to say that because their scriptures tell them so."

Huh, is there any mention of Islam or Christianity in any of the Hindu scriptures? If there is, then pardon my ignorance.

"Authorities of other religions will not agree that all religions lead to the same God. That is contrary to their teaching. But I am interested to learn whether enlightened saints of other faiths came to a similar conclusion as those of Hindu faith. What did MEISTER ECKERT, or ST THERESA of AVILA, or AL HALLAJ or AL BASADIIt say about that. Did they try other religions? It is important to find out what they thought not the authorities."

So you don't go by the original authorities of the mainstream religions, but the interpretations of those who came centuries later. Thanks for making that clear. If Sri Sri Ravi Shankar were to claim today that the Aum Shinrikyo cult and Hinduism fundamentally lead to the same realisation of God, are we supposed to believe that?



#27
BD
URL
March 4, 2009
03:11 AM

no, obviously nothing at all, kerty, lol, thank you, this has been indeed very edifying :)

cheers

bd

#28
Morris
March 4, 2009
04:41 PM

Ledzius

"So you don't go by the original authorities of the mainstream religions,"
It is not that I do not go by the original authorities of the mainstream religions, I know that they are clear about it that there is only one path and they have it. I think most people agree that that is absurd. Authorities cannot cannot say so. But whatever enlighened saints say will have backing of their own eperience.

It is likely that those who are enlightened may say that all paths lead to the same God based on their experience inspite of their scripture telling them otherwise. Authorities will not dare to so. No one has come forward to tell us what the saints of other faiths thought about different paths and whether they lead to the same God.

#29
Ledzius
March 4, 2009
11:11 PM

What's your definition of an "enlightened saint"?

Someone who parrots your viewpoint? And why would you consider what they said is the truth? Do you really believe they had supernatural powers to actually verify that all religions lead to the same God?

It is now easy to see why new age gurus like Deepak Chopra or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are doing extremely well. They deliver what their audience wants to hear. It's nothing more than mass delusion.


#30
Ledzius
March 4, 2009
11:17 PM

The only thing I can say for sure is that the God of Islam is the same as that of Judaism or Christianity. Why? Because Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam himself, has said that.

But there has been no such statements connecting Islam and Hinduism coming from the authorities of either religion.

#31
Morris
March 5, 2009
11:24 AM

Prophet Mohamad did not speak final words for Judasim or Christianity. He spoke final words for muslims only and they would like all of us
to agree with them. I don't think Mohamad knew existence of Hinduism or for that matter any faiths other than Judaism and Christianity.

Well I don't know who is enlightened saint. But it is generally recognized that Ramkrishna was. Similarly Ramana Maharshi was. But they were Hindu. Are there any in other faiths similarly recognized? I thought the ones I listed are. I copied from KALYAN #6. Are'nt they?

#32
Desh
URL
March 5, 2009
12:45 PM

Kerty/Morris and all:

This discussion is going all over the place. There is an issue with what Ramakrishna Paramhans said that is difficult to appreciate in normal parlance.

I have heard this story a lot of times and I have also read Swami Vivekananda's lectures (arguably Ramakrishna's chosen pupil) where he calls Mohammad a Hallucinating Military Genius, which, I believe is the most accurate definition I have read given the history and tearing away the religious fervour.

Now, to the question of Ramakrishna. Enlightenment is NOT a function of the RITUAL or the SCRIPTURE. That is why most Saints call Religion useless. Real Vedantists - if you want to call them that - for Rishi Vasistha was much prior to all that.. and was clear of the advaitist philosophy.. [as was Krishna (who in my view critiqued the blind following of Vedas and the deeds mentions in it)] - said clearly that God and Guru are irrelevant. Its your own personal effort that really takes you "there". The singular lesson from Vasistha and Krishna is that enlightenment is about Realization... NOT Achievement. So, in that sense, EVERY person, rock etc are enlightened... they just don't realize it. Thats all.

Now, if that be true, then Ramakrishna's enlightenment was NOT predicated on following a religious ritual.. but realizing the God in him. If he thought that religious ritual was giving him any more "clarity" then I think I would instantly demote him to the lesser Saints. Paths are immaterial in the final analysis... from the Spiritual standpoint.

Now, there is a what I call the "Mind/Creation Standpoint" as well. That is where we all live in. And most Saints, in my personal view, have messed up the world trying to relate what is at the Spiritual level to the Mind/Creation level. What is true at the Infinite level is NOT true of the Finite level.

When Ramakrishna talked of all religions being same - he probably talked from the spiritual standpoint and not the ritualistic or philosophical standpoint.

ANd I believe that is the failure of such Saints... they make pronouncements that do not distinguish between practices and give the impression as if the entire "System" is fine. For example to say that Hinduism is a great path to enlightenment is a dangerous thing... for before Adi Shankara, Hinduism had degenerated into Tantric black magic. He was instrumental in eliminating all that nonsense and bringing it back to its spiritual roots.

Similarly, there are certain traditions in broad Islamic pantheon - like Sufism - that are spiritual in its philosophy (advaitism)... but that does not mean that Wahabi/Salafi traditions are Gods gift to mankind! One has to differentiate and speak clearly when one is talking at the "Mind/Creation" level where we all exist.

-desh.


#33
kaffir
March 5, 2009
01:20 PM

Good points, Desh.

These discussions sometimes devolve into paralysis of analysis as to what some saint said about the smell of the flower, how strong was it, why he said so, and what did the academics write about that person's description of the smell of the flower, based on what, and so on, and so on.

What's forgotten in all this back-and-forth is that we all are capable of smelling the flower for ourselves and reaching our own conclusions, but hardly any take that step to approach a flower and try to smell it for ourselves. While it's not impossible, I have my doubts that enlightenment can be achieved only through intellectual discourse. It's like learning to swim by reading tutorials, or by listening to others talk about swimming.

#34
Kerty
March 5, 2009
02:57 PM

Desh

"Enlightenment is NOT a function of the RITUAL or the SCRIPTURE. That is why most Saints call Religion useless."

That is why most of such saints have failed the society and done not much for the religion. Focus of religion and its rituals is not confined to be individual-centric. There are many entities in a society besides the 'Individual' that need to achieve enlightenment and religion seeks to bind the 'Individual' to them. What such sects of individualism have done is to undermine and sink all that while offering salvation to the individual, to the few of them. You can chart the decline of Indian civilization to rise of these individual-centric enlightenment sects.

"The singular lesson from Vasistha and Krishna is that enlightenment is about Realization... NOT Achievement. So, in that sense, EVERY person, rock etc are enlightened... they just don't realize it. Thats all."

Glad you recognize that 'rock' too are enlightened! The point is that realization is not meant for 'individual' alone. You can not reduce the religion to enlightenment of the 'Individual' alone. If you understand this basic mandate of religion, than you will understand damage that vedantism and sects of abstract consciousness have brought to religion and civilization of India. Sanatana Dharma and Indian civilization have declined with the rise of Vedantism. It atomizes and engineers anarchy, it reduces to individualism and engineers crash of institutions built around individual, it reduces art of living and way of life to abstract, philosophical mental exercises - few individuals may manage to gain enlightenment, but rest of society is left in the dark and loses out. And than desperate people are left to chase these few saviors giving rise to cults of saints and saviors. It is poor imitation of semitism.

"Ramakrishna's enlightenment was NOT predicated on following a religious ritual.. but realizing the God in him."

Why should everybody else care for his personal indulgences and gratifications? Isn't he preaching to give up religion and its rituals to realize God? Its like preaching people to quit jobs and stop working and go to government or some source to get sustenance - such scam can only dismantle the productive economy, and leave them poorer.

"For example to say that Hinduism is a great path to enlightenment is a dangerous thing... for before Adi Shankara, Hinduism had degenerated into Tantric black magic."

Where is the proof of such tall claims. Any practice can degenerate from time to time, because of any number of time-space-circumstance factors. Any practice can undergo abuses. To generalize that that is the only thing going on at any time is pure propaganda.

"He was instrumental in eliminating all that nonsense and bringing it back to its spiritual roots."

He might have needed to assert philosophical foundations of Hinduism in order to combat philosophical bent of Buddhism, but this abstract philosophical consciousness actually weakened the civilizational foundation of Hinduism. You can correlate the rise of monotheist metaphysics as a byproduct/middle-path of Buddhist vs Vedic paradigm. Ever since, Religions of India have lost the center stage, lost ground, and remained second fiddle to worst that theologies and ideologies have to offer. It is same monotheistic mataphysics that has led to pure materialistic metaphysics and eventual fall of theistic religions. You can see kabrastan of religions all around and only irreligious minds would see it as triumph of spiritualism.

#35
Morris
March 5, 2009
03:57 PM

Desh, Thank you. I understand what you are saying and I agree. As you said
"Enlightenment is NOT a function of the RITUAL or the SCRIPTURE. That is why most Saints call Religion useless"
Such is the experience of Hindu realized saints. My question was what did non-Hindu saints think.
I have difficulty understanding kerty. Perhaps we got to go back and start from why we need religions to begin with in order to understand him.

#36
Desh
URL
March 5, 2009
04:47 PM

Kerty:

Thanks for your comments. Here are my comments:

1. I think Vedantist semantic is misleading. Thoroughly. Why? Read Yoga Vasistha - it clearly points to the next "Yuga" when Krishna will come and give the message of Gita and will have the same message as in Vasistha Yoga. He also talks of many different schools of philosophy including Samkhya - which first really brought Dvait-waad into the Hinduism - and in my view spiritually diluted the highly profound tradition that the Rishis until then had. Arya Samaj was later to be a much changed/deteriorated form of Samkhya Yoga theory.. when it had gone from atheistic to theistic dwaitva-waad.

Having said that, Krishna is mentioned in Chandogyopnishad as having come before it and was taught Vedas by Rishi Ghor Angiras. So, it stands to reason that between Vedas and Upanishads.. came GITA. THAT is the greatness of Gita. It changed the entire discourse of profound thought in Hinduism.

Vedantists are traditionally said to be those who hold Upanishads as central and go beyond Vedas. But Upanishads really got their motivation and inspiration from the Gita. We often recite the famous "Karmanaya Vaadika raste...." (Do your Karma and don't LUST (and not care) after the result.)... but how many of us even read the Shlokas leading upto that point? Read those carefully and see what they say. I have laid them out here - http://www.drishtikone.com/?q=blog/bhagwad-gita-and-why-was-sri-krishna-so-critical-vedas

Kerty, whenever I read Gita.. I feel a certain "frustration" and urgency in Krishna's words... to go beyond the ordinary.. the mundane. It is so painful to see that what he said.. as arguably the greatest Vedic scholar of all times.. was lost in useless semantics!

-desh

#37
Desh
URL
March 5, 2009
05:13 PM

Kerty:

Further - the monotheistic nonsense that has propped up and caught the imagination of the world - that you mention is because of dishonesty in spiritual search and laziness of using plain logic.

I have tried to tackle it here God and Misleading Semantics.

The truth is that true and honest exploration of God or Truth is not possible in religious traditions.. but this journey happens in only two ways: Differentiation and Integration: Calculus and Nirvana.

For that one needs unrelenting honesty. That is absent from monotheistic traditions of Hinduism and outside.

-desh.

#38
kerty
March 5, 2009
05:53 PM

Desh

'The truth is that true and honest exploration of God or Truth is not possible in religious traditions."

Isn't there tacit embrace of monotheism/materialism and rejection of religion, God and Truth implicit in such dogma? The Raison d'etre of Religion is the realization of God and Truth - and not merely at individual level. How can one reject them and still remain intellectually honest while making claims about exploration of God or Truth? It amounts to snake oil salesmanship. Its like selling rejection of economics as a path to explore material wealth and prosperity. It can not work. It can only hoodwink people and open up society for pursuits that have nothing to do with exploration of God, Truth or Religion.

#39
commonsense
March 5, 2009
06:01 PM

Kerty:

"Glad you recognize that 'rock' too are enlightened!"

rock and roll too, but only the likes of freddie mercury, mick jagger etc.

#40
commonsense
March 5, 2009
06:04 PM

Desh:

"Kerty, whenever I read Gita.. I feel a certain "frustration" and urgency in Krishna's words..."

i feel quite relaxed whenever I read the Gita...

#41
Desh
URL
March 5, 2009
07:22 PM

"The Raison d'etre of Religion is the realization of God and Truth - and not merely at individual level. "

Well, I can only relate a story from J. Krishnamurti's pathbreaking speech in Holland where he dissolved his Order.

The Devil and his friend were walking on a road.. when a man infront of them would bend down and pick something up. The friend asked the Devil.. what is he doing? The Devil replied "He is picking up Truth". The friend was alarmed "This must be a tough place for you!".. The Devil smiled and replied "Wait till he organizes it!"

Religion is NOT about truth. And thats the sad thing that the Abrahamic "Tribal cults" brought us to. Even someone as great as Jesus was reduced to a egotist with a tribal mind.

I have read Yoga Vasistha, Gita, Swami Vivekananda and J. Krishnamurti thoroughly and carefully, apart from other folks, and I can say what I see in all those streams. There is absolutely no difference between what Vasistha taught Ram, and what Krishna taught Arjun and what Krishnamurti refused to teach his followers. :) They all said the EXACT same thing.. although their messages were as revolutionary as it could possibly get.

Religion is the personification of the ego one has in his or her Guru or Master or Prophet. Nothing more. Religion has only increased the average EGO in people.. not reduced it.

As I usually tell a close one I know who follows a Guru who his "Naam" or Mantra to his followers:

"Naam dene waale Guru to chappe chappe par milte hain.. mujhe wo Guru milwao jo mera naam mujhse le le."

This craving to give a distinction to one's followers, this identity giving.. is what creates an issue in the spiritual pursuit.

Of course, at the mundane level, it happens and often some Gurus do end up motivating people to think on their own and eventually land where they should.. but that is accidental.

Worse are those religions and ideologies, that deliberately try and harm the non-believer. That is the lowest a religious mindset can possibly get to. But oh well...

-desh.

#42
Amitabh Mitra
URL
March 5, 2009
08:20 PM

Desh Bhai, great writing and great thinking
Bhaskar, I enjoyed the sumptuous meals at the Mission

#43
kerty
March 5, 2009
08:24 PM

Desh

"I have read Yoga Vasistha, Gita, Swami Vivekananda and J. Krishnamurti thoroughly and carefully"

If there is no use of religion or scriptures, why rely on these people either? Why use them as crutches to explore God or truth? Why you left out Huge Heffener and Carl Marx?

"Religion is the personification of the ego one has in his or her Guru or Master or Prophet."

You got it upside down. It is individualism-centric enlightenment cults that create personification of ego in self, Gurus, saviors and prophets, often their ideologies of de-spritualization masquerade as religions. Why is Ramakrishna Paramhansa not a personification of ego as many revere him as a Guru?

You got to be kidding mentioning the iconoclast J. Krishnamurthy in the same sentence with Gita and Yoga Vasistha. The difference between Moghul marauders and people like Jadu and Ramakrishna is that the former dismantled the physical edifice of religious infrastructure, the later helped dismantle the remaining edifices of religion from within.

""Naam dene waale Guru to chappe chappe par milte hain.. mujhe wo Guru milwao jo mera naam mujhse le le.""

Lots of people get confused by Murthi Pooja too. Some mistake it as idol worship and consider it the lowest form of faith and superstitions. Rituals are so easy to caricature and ridicule. They reinforce the stereotypes at cursory look. But that only betrays ignorance and deep-rooted antagonism.

The word 'religion' has originated in Semitic traditions, and lot of stigma is attached to it the way monotheism has used it. It has become a refuge of imperialistic, totalitarian, expansionist, materialistic ideologies masquerading as religions. End product of such religions is not spiritualism but materialism and empires. That is why religion needs to be restored to its true mandate that only genuinely theistic traditions can restore. If Hinduism gives up on it, religions will only fall in hands that can only strengthen anti and materialistic ideologies that are hostile to any exploration of truth and God or god-conscious civilization.

#44
Desh
URL
March 5, 2009
10:28 PM

Ok, Kerty - you have to read Vasistha and JK together to get to know who is iconoclast and who is not. Read the chapters on Self Effort (Purushartha) to know what Vasistha says.. and the chapter on Rani Lila to know what "Goddess Saraswati" says about Gods and Gurus.

There are three things: Rituals, Ideologies, and Philosophy that one must be clear about. Rituals and Ideologies is religion as it is practiced. Philosophy forms an initial part of any religion but rarely understood.

I believe that philosophy should be viewed apart from religion. Whatever philosophy is profound and empowering, should be explored further. Now, you would ask what is profound? Well, listen to two songs "ek do teen.. char paanch che" and "Humne dekhi hai in aankhon ki mehekti khushboo". You know which one is profound. Why does the latter become so "profound" while the former is not? What a poet writes is the culmination of the thoughts that he passed on the way to that one line that he wrote!! So, when you read a poem - what is written is important.. but what the poet thought BUT did NOT write is critical indeed. Those thoughts were also the ones that this guy rejected on the way.

And when you read Vasistha and argue just as Ram vehemently argued with him (read Prahlad's story to know what I am saying)... then you realize why that philosophy is so high up there. Gita has a similar vein. As does Ashtvakra Gita.

Now, about JK. I am convinced that the greatest thinkers like Krishna, Vasistha and JK were totally RUTHLESS in their articulation of thoughts. I will get into this later sometime but JK's thoughts are RIGHT in line with Vasistha and Krishna. For that you will have to read all three simultaneously to understand what I am saying.

Cheers,
-desh

#45
Citizen
March 5, 2009
11:41 PM

All:

indian society is the world's nastiest in terms of its fanatic belief in hinduism and hindian indians' day dreaming along with nasty brahmin caste.

indian idiots who call them selves BRAHMINS are british time servents so became or born with little lighter skin in the northern area, according to some people.

indian society in whole with their NAZI hindian rule is going to be a long time sin for the people who live in ASIA.

All have to be careful dealing with hindian indian terrorists who kill innocents in their neiboring countries like sri lanka!

Love,

Citizen.

#46
Ledzius
March 6, 2009
02:17 AM

Desh 32- "I have heard this story a lot of times and I have also read Swami Vivekananda's lectures (arguably Ramakrishna's chosen pupil) where he calls Mohammad a Hallucinating Military Genius, which, I believe is the most accurate definition I have read given the history and tearing away the religious fervour."

Man, you did a one-up on me here!

"The singular lesson from Vasistha and Krishna is that enlightenment is about Realization... NOT Achievement. So, in that sense, EVERY person, rock etc are enlightened... they just don't realize it. Thats all."

I would like to try whatever you were smoking when you wrote this..

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