October 18, 2012

Grow up from religious adolescence

When I was a kid I really revered the people considered as saints. This childish reverence was shattered by a verse of the Bhaja Govindam song 
जटिलो मुण्डी लुञ्छितकेशः, काषायाम्बरबहुकृतवेषः। पश्यन्नपि च न पश्यति मूढः, उदरनिमित्तं बहुकृतवेषः
Though I am not well versed with Sanskrit, the essence of this phrase sifts the saints from the frauds. The verse translates to "Matted hair, shaven heads, amber and orange colored cloths (clothes worn by saints in India) are all a way to earn livelihood." The beauty of this verse is that it came from one of the most revered saint who lived in India. Sadly, we have not evolved enough from the time of Shankara. At times I also try to imagine what Shankara would have done if he had access to all the technological and cultural revolutions that have taken place in the last 150 years. Would he have still written about women in the way he wrote in the Bhaja Govindam? Would he have still called this poem Bhaja Govindam or would he have taken the approach of Spinoza to define the Brahman!

Though Sankara is not alive, some saints in India are willing to redefine the notion of being spiritual leaders. For example, in 2010 I had come across this wonderful piece of article titled "Confessions of Saffron Robe." This article reports that swami called Chennamala swami wanted to do a Basaveshwara and raised various questions on how religious organizations operated in India. He rightly pointed out that children should not be ordained ascetics because this amounts to child abuse. He also raised questions on how religious institutions act as a front-end for various ponzi schemes. This was a really nice step however it is a very small step and I wonder how long it will take us to let moral values hatch out from the cocoon of religion.

Despite such drops of reform in the ocean of religious insanity, the power of these so called saints has increased astronomically in the last couple of decades. This occult power has intoxicated them to an extent that, rather than exhibiting humility and selflessness, these so called saints now claim their superiority by declaring themselves to be Gods or reincarnation of the Gods! Any sane person who can think rationally would use the Internet or other technological revolutions of the past decade to see the naked lies of such emperors. However, rather than using the knowledge gained in the last century, technology is being used to re-validate and re-affirm the blind faith in these god-men. For example, Indians have followed the blind followers of the American evangelists to create TV superstars like Asaram Bapu.

It surprises and worries me that a large number (majority) of Indians haven't grown out of their religious adolescence. What worries me more is that we have doctors and so called scientists who are used as pawns by these Gurus.

Does this so called Doctor who attends conferences in Cleveland actually believe that a photograph of Aniruddha Bappu saved his life? (PS: I always enjoy reading YouTube comments on religious videos).

Do you actually believe that this idol is drinking milk? Or would you like to reexamine this situation and consider effects like capillarity?

Do you actually believe that such a snake exists. Indeed if it exists and these images are not photoshopped, do you think that its existence can be explained by some genetic mutation or do you believe some supernatural power is responsible for its existence?

YouTube has innumerable videos that should have been used to remove the cloak of blind faith yet the comments on YouTube just portrays the extent to which blind faith makes people senseless.

One of the videos that I really like is the one by Christopher Hitchens titled "Hells Angel". In this video Hitchens uses Mother Teresa as a example for an objective analysis on the hidden agenda of all organized religions.

I just wish that people see videos like the following one rather than use the Internet to validate their blind faith and be pawns to ponzi schemes operating under the guise of organized religion!

October 16, 2012

Gender Equality to fight Rape

During the last few days the the number of rape cases being reported in news channels and newspapers across India have witnessed a significant increase. I do not know if this increase is because of increased news coverage, or the of the incidents of rape are indeed increasing, or a combination of the two.

Rape is by far one of the worst crimes in developing countries like India, primarily because the victim gets treated like a social outcast. And rather than addressing the root of this problem, gender inequality, our "honorable ministers" come up with weird solutions like decreasing the marriage age and minimizing the interaction of boys and girls. For the sake of debate let us assume that the marriage age is reduced to 16 and that schools, and other places of education segregate students based on their gender. Do they really think it will solve the problem? Will a girl/woman still report a case where she was raped by her neighbor, classmate, or colleague? Will marriage or caging women to rooms or making them cover their bodies and faces reduce this madness?

Based on my personal experiences, I believe that it will worsen the problem. I studied in a boys school and I was uncomfortable talking with girls (at times even my cousin sisters). The situation worsened when I went to college. Despite being a co-ed college (co-ed is what they call education institutes where girls and boys study together) the rows of benches were separate for boys and girls. It was the same during my engineering years. Things were not very different during my masters because the number of girls in IITD were really really low.  And even in IITD, and the other IITs, the hostels for girls are separate from the hostels for boys. This form of gender based segregation is not healthy. How many girls or boys in India are comfortable living in a hostel where there will share the facilities with people of the opposite sex? It was at the age of 28 and after sharing an apartment with girls that I started becoming truly comfortable with them. Until then I was a hypocrite -- a hypocrite who believed that he considered boys were equal to girls and whose penis started to do the thinking when a beautiful girl started talking with him after a bisou. It was my housemates in Nice, boys and girls, who truly taught me what it is to treat another person as your equal. Thanks to the internet and mobile revolution I am glad that my cousins who are about 10 years younger than me have had a much more healthier school and college life than I did. I therefore do not want the system to revert to dark ages when my nieces and nephews start going to college. I want them to have a nice time with their friends and classmates regardless of the gender of the child they want to spend time with. Reverting the laws shall undo the little progress that has happened in the last 20 odd years and shall only bring the dark ages back in India.

Marital rape is the other important issue that reducing the marriage age does not address. India is one of few countries where marital rape is considered a form of domestic violence, however, only a handful of the total incidents of marital rape are reported. Marital rape is even more heinous because the victim shares the roof and the bed with the offender. Like other cases of domestic violence in India, the victim bears this torture in silence. Silence for the sake of the family and kids -- all because of the social stigma and its impact on the children. The reason for bearing the torture by most rape victims is the social structure where the female is not considered an equal to their male counterparts.

The gender equality in developed countries ensures that the victim is treated like a victim and not the culprit. This is the least any society can do!