Category Archives: Spirituality

Regain the spirituality of art

Regain the spirituality of art

Like A L Basham, the author of The Wonder That Was India (which unfortunately is still considered a classic), most Europeans have seen at best in India an exalted civilisation of religious and artistic achievements.

But India’s greatness encompassed all aspects of life, from the highest to the most material, from the most mundane to the supremely spiritualised. As Aurobindo emphasises: “The tendency of the West is to live from below upward and from out inward… The inner existence is thus formed and governed by external powers. India’s constant aim has been on the contrary, to find a basis of living in the higher spiritual truth and to live from the inner spirit outwards”.

The old Vedic seers had said the same thing in a different form: “Their divine foundation was above, even while they stood below. Let its rays besettled deep within us.”

In art also, ancient India applied this wisdom: the highest business of Indian art has always been to describe something of the self, of the soul, contrary to Western art, which either harps at the superficially beautiful or dwells at the vital-unconscious level”, wrote Aurobindo.

This is indeed the great difference between Indian art and other art forms. For the Indian artist first visualised in his inner being the truth of the element he wanted to express and created it in his intuitive mind, before externalising it.

Stories of how Indian sculptors of ancient times used to meditate for one year before starting on their particular work, are common. Not for them the idea of the intellect or mental imagination, but the essence, the emotion, the spirit.

Thus, for the Indian artist, material forms, colour, line, design, were only physical means of expression, not his first preoccupation. So he would not attempt, as in Western art, which in its heyday continuously recreated scenes of Christ’s life or that of saints, to reconstitute some scene of Buddha’s life, but instead, he endeavored to reveal the calm of Nirvana. And every accessory was an aid, a means to do so. “For here, writes Aurobindo, “spirit carried the form, while in Western art form carries whatever they think is spirit”.

In effect, Indian art, its architecture for instance, demands an inner eye to be appreciated, otherwise its truth will not reveal itself. Great temples in India are an architectural expression of an ancient spiritual culture. Its many varied forms express the manifestation of the infinite multiplicity which fills the oneness of India. And indeed, whatever Muslims today might say, even Mughal architecture was taken up by India’s creative genius and transformed into something completely Indian.

Indian sculpture also springs from spiritual insight and it is unique by its total absence of ego. Very few of India’s sculpture masterpieces are signed for instance; they are rather the work of a collective genius whose signature could be `India’. “Most ancient sculptures of India embody in visible form what the Upanishads threw out into inspired thought and the Mahabharata and the Ramayana portrayed by the word in life”, observes Aurobindo. The gods of Indian sculpture are cosmic beings, embodiments ofsome great spiritual power. And every movement, hands, eyes, posture,conveys an inner meaning, as in the Nataraja, for example.

Indian painting has, unfortunately, been largely erased by time, as in the case of the Ajanta caves. It even went through an eclipse and was revived by the Mughal influence. But what remains of Indian paintings show the immensity of the work and the genius of it.

The paintings that have mostly survived from ancient times are those of the Buddhist artists; but painting in India was certainly pre-Buddhist. Indeed in ancient India, there were six `limbs’, six essential elements `sadanga’ to a great painting: The first is `rupabheda’, distinction of forms; the second is `pramana’, arrangement of lines; the third is `bhava’, emotion of aesthetic feelings; the fourth is `lavanya’, seeking for beauty; the fifth is `sadrsya’, truth of the form; and the sixth is `varnikashanga’, harmony of colours.

Western art always flouts the first principle `rupabheda’, the universal law of the right distinction of forms, for it constantly strays into intellectual or fantasy extravagances which belong to the intermediate world of sheer fantasia. On the other hand, Aurobindo remarks about ancient Indian paintings that “the Indian artist sets out from the other end of the scale of values of experience which connect life and the spirit.

The whole creative force here comes from a spiritual and psychic vision, the emphasis of the physical is secondary and always deliberately limited so as to give an overwhelmingly spiritual and psychic impression and everything is suppressed which does not serve this purpose”. It is unfortunate that today most Indian painting imitates Western modern art. It is hoped that Indian painters will soon come back to the essential, which is the vision of the inner eye, the transcription, not of the religious, but of the spiritual.

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SWAMI RAMDEV AND HINDU DISUNITY

SWAMI RAMDEV AND HINDU DISUNITY

When CPI leader Brinda Karad attacks Swami Ramdev, she is not attacking Ramdev in particular, she is attacking Hinduism in general. This guru or that guru, makes no difference to her, she is against all gurus. Other gurus might think that they are safe, that Ramdev committed some sin, for which he is paying. But one of them will be next in the line of fire! Hindu gurus are all vulnerable in today’s India: the Shankacharya has already been hit, so has Satya Sai Baba, with accusations of paedophilia, Amrita Anandamayi has to live under the constant shadow of an hostile Kerala communist-dominated government, Dhirendra Brahmachari has been obliterated and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is periodically targeted as the ‘Guru of the rich’, the ‘glib Godman’ etc…

May I be forgiven my arrogance, but what Indian gurus have to understand is that for Indian communists, Hinduism is the N°1 enemy. Mao called religion ‘the opium of the people’. But for Indian communists, as for Britishers and Muslim invaders before them, what stands between their ambition for absolute power in India (and eventually a triumphant return of communism in the world – as Indian communists believe) is the hold that Hinduism has in the hearts of the rural people of India, who constitute 80% of this country. And still today, the humble farmer, from Uttar Pradesh to Tamil Nadu, has a natural understanding of the universality of God, who takes many names throughout the ages and can be Buddha, Jesus Christ, Ram or Mohamed and this humble farmer possesses the knowledge that there is something deeper than the skin and the mind, and a life beyond death. This knowledge is inbred, it is not in his head, not even in his heart, but in his or her genes transmitted from generation to generation.

Of course, the English speaking media is too happy to oblige Brinda Karat and come down hard on gurus with all kind of accusations, ranging from superstition to conman ship. There is of course a strong communist streak in most Indian newspapers, whether it is Frontline’s and the Hindu’s open allegiance to Communist China, or Brinda Karat being the sister of Prannoy Roy’s wife (not many people know that). Before Ramdev, they condemned the Shankacharya, before him Osho, before him Dhirendra Brahmachari. You can even go back to Sri Aurobindo, who was accused in the early 1900’s by the moderate Congress-controlled press to be a ‘fanatic’, when he was only demanding total independence from the British, long before Gandhi took it up. Accusation against Hinduism of superstition, brainwashing, ritualistic ignorance, date back from British missionaries and have been taken up today by communists. Yet, Hinduism, at least the Hinduism which goes beyond the rituals and becomes universal spirituality, has nothing to do with superstition and conman ship: it is all about science, knowledge and light. Look at pranayama, a science that has known for thousands of years how to harness breath and use it for controlling the mind, for a better, more healthy, more spititualized life. If you read Osho’s books today, you find a lot of solid common sense and wisdom. Sai Baba cannot have millions of disciples from the most humble to the presidents of India, without ‘something’ which is beyond superstition. So it goes for Amrita Anandmai, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ramdev, or Guruma of Ganeshpuri.

And why should Brinda Karat target Ayurveda, the most ancient medical system in the world still in practice, the first medecine to realize 3000 years ago that plants and minerals offer the best cure, that many illnesses have a psychosomatic origin, the first to practice plastic surgery on patients? In India today, every third shop is an allopathic medical shop, whose profits go to western multinationals (hello Mrs Karad!) at a time when ayurvedic medicine is becoming increasingly popular in western countries, disillusioned by antibiotics and other heavy-handed medicines.

We are witnessing an interesting phenomenon in India today. Communists, Christians, Muslims and some of the Congress leadership (notice that Brinda Karat has written to Uttaranchal Chief Minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari to close down Swami Ramdev’s pharmacy), all of whom have nothing in common and often hate each other, are all united against Hinduism and Hindu leaders. Each one of course, have their own reasons for doing so. The Christians, under the leadership of people like John Dayal, want to convert the maximum of ‘heathens’ Hindus, as Jesus Christ is the only ‘true’ God that can save India; some of the Muslim leadership, here, in Pakistan, or even in today’s Bangladesh, still dream of ‘Dar-ul-Islam’, the House of Islam in South Asia; and Sonia Gandhi, maybe in a true spirit of secularism, maybe out of personal conviction, has chosen to ally her party with anti-Hindu forces. Whatever it is, their unity makes them a powerful enemy.

In contrast, look at Hindus: Swami Ramdev himself criticized Sri Sri Ravi Shankar live on TV, advising his followers not to practise the Art of Living breathing techniques. During the Tsunami relief operations in Nagapatinam, disciples of Amrita Anand Mayi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar nearly came to blows over who would give relief to whom, instead of networking and uniting their efforts. And who came to the rescue Osho when he was maligned to death, or Brahmachari, when the entire press came down on him, of Sai Baba, when he was slandered, of the Shankacharya when he was thrown into jail, or of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, when Javed Akhtar accused him of coming ‘from a cave to live in a palace’ (and not from a palace to a cave, like the Buddha) ? None of the previously mentioned. Yet, Indian politicians can commit any crime, have any number of court cases against them, and they still end up as Union ministers and get positive press coverage .

The greatest curse of Hinduism throughout the ages has been its disunity – and more than that – its betraying each other. The British did not conquer India, it was given to them by its warring Hindu princes, jealous of each other. The same is true of Islam: the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar, was betrayed to the Muslims by the Lingayats. Today, if the combined forces of communists, Muslims, Christian fundamentalists and the Congress win, it will not be because of their strength and valour, but rather because of the disunity of Hindu leaders.

I know that there is something mysterious and unfathomable in the manifestation of the Divine upon earth, that each guru has a defined task to fulfil and that the combined task of all the gurus may solve the great puzzle that is this ignorant and suffering earth. Thus it may not be necessary for each guru to communicate with each other. But nevertheless, it is of the greatest urgency today that Hindu leaders unite to save Hinduism, rather than the ‘each one for his own’ that we see today. The Catholics have their Pope – and his word is binding to most catholics, whatever the resistance of some progressive leaders. Muslims have Mohamed’s words written 1400 years ago – and that binds all of Islam together, whatever the relevance of these words in the 21st century; India Communists have Marx and Lenin words, their opium, even if it has become irrelevant in Russia, Germany, and even in China; but the poor Hindus have nobody to refer to, so as to defend themselves.

Yet, if you take the combined people power of Satya Sai Baba, Amrita Ananda Mayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Ramdev, Gurumayi of Ganeshpuri, the Shankacharya of Kancheepuram, and so many others I cannot mention here, it runs in hundreds of millions.

Again, in all humility and conscious of the limitation of my small mind, compared to some of these great gurus whom I have met, I propose that a Supreme Spiritual Council, composed of at least seven of the most popular Hindu leaders of India, be constituted, maybe under the leadership of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (with a yearly rotation of leadership), the most travelled of all these, the one who has disciples and teachers of all religions, both from India and the West. It would be a non-political body, and each group would keep its independence but nevertheless, it could meet two or three times a year and issue edicts, which would be binding to 850 millions Hindus in India and one billion over the world.

Then and then only, can this wonderful spirituality which is Hinduism, this eternal knowledge behind the outer forms, the wisdom to understand this mad earth and its sufferings, be preserved for the future of India, and for the future of humanity. I bow down to each of these gurus above-mentioned and to all those not mentioned, to Swami Vivekananda, the initiator of modern Hinduism, to Sri Aurobindo, the great avatar of the supramental and to all the great gurus who have graced over the ages, this wonderful and sacred land which is India and beseech them to hear my prayer: Hindus leaders, unite against the common enemy if you want the eternal Dharma to survive.

François Gautier

THE REIMPORT OF INDIAN SPIRITUALITY

THE REIMPORT OF INDIAN SPIRITUALITY

IN the last few years, there has been a flurry

The irony of it all is that what is packaged by sleek editors as New Age spirituality is actually very Old Age: spirituality was born in India, for God’s sake ! India is one of the oldest civilization in our history and that many of the wonders of humanity originated here : the concept of the zero for instance, plastic surgery, or ancient astronomy – and that its philosophy was so subtle, that it not only influenced the entire East, but that until Nietzsche, many western philosophers acknowledged India as one of their major inspirations. Today even, India is a land of a Living Spirituality, probably the last in a world which has been taken over by the two big monotheist religions and their aggressive dogmas.

Yet it looks today as if Indian spirituality has been repackaged in the West. Hata Yoga fro instance Sometimes it weems even that the West has appropriated itself Indian spirituality: When Time magazine did a coverf story on

Did the West discover Indian spituality ? Not at all, it all started when Swami Vivekananda, Swamy Vivekananda opened the West to India’s Dharma, but if he were to come back today, he would find that the Foreign Press has often become the worst enemy of India. since then

There is actually a lot of resistance against spirituality in the Indian media, particurarly towards gurus.

My own experience is totally different

Yoga at the speed of Light, – By Linda Johnsen, Courtesy & copyright Yoga International

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

Or can it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing the unknowable

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

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

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

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

Why the cynicism about Indian gurus?

Why the cynicism about Indian gurus?

Westerners have often a deep suspicion of ‘gurus’ and are wary of anything which has a ‘Hindu’ flavor. It is true that some of the gurus teaching in the West might have brought a bad name to Hinduism; but is this a reason to clamp them all together under the same ‘fake’ label?

Indian journalists unfortunately share often the same resistance to gurus as their Western counterparts. And one can also understand their misgivings, given the problems there has been in India with certain gurus having political connections. But these are the exception to the rule. Why then brand all gurus as ‘godmen,’ a negative and slightly cynical term, as many Indian journalists do? Or why always ask gurus the same pointed and devious questions about their opinions on Ayodhya and ‘Hindutva?’

Isn’t it also strange that Indian journalists do not display the same aggressiveness towards Christian bishops or priests, whom they never call godmen, but ‘holy father?’ They also like to question the ‘miraculous’ powers of Indian gurus, as it was done a few months ago in an issue of India Today targeting Sai Baba. But is it less rational or Cartesian to think, as the Christians do, that Jesus Christ multiplied breads, or resurrected the dead?

Running down Hindu culture and Hindu gurus is fine — but a huge majority of the Indian population — which, let us remember, is 85 per cent Hindu — sees nothing wrong in this culture: ordinary Indians meditate, do pujas, perform asanas, chant bhajans, or practice pranayama. There is no sectarism here, no fake mysticism, no pagan obscure rites. The irony is that this very spirituality on which Indian intellectuals tend to look down, is taking root in the West: more and more sportsmen, for instance, are using pranayama to enhance their performances; ordinary Americans are meditating by the millions (see this week’s Time magazine showing American children learning meditation); hata-yoga has long taken Europe by storm and has been copied by all kinds of gymnastics or aerobics…

Does India need the West to realise what an inconceivable spiritual inheritance it has in its hands? A knowledge which once roamed the shores of the world, from Mesopotamia to Egypt, from Greece to Babylon, but which today has disappeared in a world peopled by intolerant churches? Do Indian schools have to wait for the United States, before they start teaching Indian children their own culture?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, for example, the founder of the Art of Living has also been catalogued as a ‘godman’ by The Deccan Herald. Yet, he too is helping to spread both in India and abroad this wonderful spiritual inheritance, promoting as much the revival of Sanskrit and Vedic knowledge, as an ecological concern for plastic disposal, or trying to save the centenary trees which are in danger of being chopped down on the Bangalore-Kanakapura road, as it is being widened.

His numerous associations prove that he is not only a “guru of the rich,” as he has been accused by The Indian Express: his village schools, for instance, do so well, that children have a 95 per cent rate of success in exams; his youth training programs bring to India’s remotest hamlets in Karnataka or even in Naxalite infested Bihar, Housing, Hygiene, and Human values. His volunteers work with their own hands in villages to clear the garbage, clean the sewage infested roads and generally renovate the place. Finally, the medically-tested Sudarshan Krya technique is today taught in Tihar jail, or in corporate offices in California.

The Kumbh Mela has just concluded. It was an extraordinary event: probably the biggest spiritual gathering in the history of the human race. At a time where the West has lost its spiritual moorings and when, even Eastern countries such as China or Japan are submerged by Western culture — MTV, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s — India has shown that in spite of tremendous odds, she has succeeded in keeping her spirituality alive. But once again during the Kumbh Mela, the Indian media coverage showed the same Western slant against gurus, saints and sadhus.

Instead of highlighting the remarkable degree of cleanliness, orderliness and efficiency demonstrated by the organizers, the UP Government and the police, it chose to focus on naga sadhus smoking ganja, or the VHP “hijacking the mela,” or on Western “hippies” in search of enlightenment.

Indian journalists could have shown a little more pride in their own culture by saying, for instance, that it is miraculous that there are still men in the world who are ready to give-up everything, including their clothes, for the love of God; or that as long as Indian villagers were smoking ganja, they did not beat their wives, gobble-up their salaries and drink themselves to death, as they are doing today, now that (foreign owned) alcohol has invaded India; or that any religion worth its name tries to protect its own interests, as the VHP is doing (the VHP is not trying to convert other religions, yet they are subjected to a much greater bashing by the Indian press than Christian priests or Muslim mullahs); or that it is to India’s credit that Westerners come here searching for the spirituality they can’t get any more in the West.

It is part of the freedom of the Press to be able to criticize anything and anybody. And we must acknowledge that Indian journalists have often played a positive role by highlighting injustice or corruption in public life. But the spitefulness that they sometimes display towards the saints, sadhus and gurus of India seems a little bit unfair. For however much poverty there is in this country, however many problems it is facing, India’s gift to the world in the 21st century will be its spirituality, this eternal knowledge which alone She has preserved.

Relink science to spirit

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 1, 2001

Will science and spirituality ever meet? This was the topic of a recent seminar at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Indian scientists, one after the other, expounded, on how reason, rigour, logic and the spirit of inquiry are the most important parameters of scientific discovery. None of them, except for Abdul Kalam, made references to ancient Indian science. All of them spoke of science from a western point of view.

Truly western science, because of its immense material resources, has come to dominate the world. Billions of dollars is required these days for research which India can not afford. Since it is unable to remunerate honorably its scientists and engineers many of them have migrated to the West.

Western science is like a blind man, because it dissociated itself from the spirit in the 17th century. Reasons are several: First, because the powerful Christian church interfered in government matters. Thus it was very rigid and backward in scientific topics, believing until very late that the earth was flat or that the world started in 4003 BC. And whoever disagreed with these views was burnt at the stake!

Many thinkers of the 17th century, particularly French philosophers such as Descartes or Pascal, had unilaterally decreed that the only valid scientific and philosophical tools of inquiry were reason and logic. A third factor came in the 20th century with the advent of Marxism and Communism, which decreed that spirituality poisoned people minds and hence had to be eradicated.

Was this divorce of science from the spirit beneficial to the West? Well, western scientists have been able to devise the most sophisticated weapons to kill man; but man is still not capable of killing his own ego. The West, in spite of its huge prosperity based on its tremendous technological and scientific achievements, is becoming a sick society, where children go on rampage killings; where every other person in the US is under psychiatric treatment for depression or insomnia. Where out of five marriages, three end up in divorce.

Nobody in the conference, except Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was a guest of honour, also bothered to ask this question: has Indian science kept in touch with the spirit? Well, major discoveries in Indian science, such as the position of the stars, the calculation of solar eclipses, or the concept of the zero, were made at the time when there were no instruments. How were they made? Because of a profound and everlasting quest for the spirit in India. It is in this manner that Buddha, was able to say, long before western science, that everything in our Universe is constituted of atoms, constantly changing, dying and being reborn at each moment. And this is the first theorem that any scientist should apply: Know Thyself, Know Thy mind. Because If you know your own mind, then you can fathom all other minds; if you know one particle of the world you know all the particles of the world. This is the truth that India has been practicing for millenniums.

Finally, nobody in the symposium cared to mention that western science owesa lot to India. Pythagoras, pioneer of modern geometry, was inspired byIndian mathematics; Egyptians built their pyramids by means of Indianarithmetic; 18th century French astronomers were using Hindu calculationsof the positions of the stars and the solar eclipses.

But unfortunately, Indian science today is very westernized, because the scientific knowledge taught in the universities lacks a connection with the spiritual, and never mentions India’s ancient tradition of scientific inquiry.

The British colonials imparted through education a certain western bent of mind. Additionally, many of India’s top scientists today have a strong connection with the West. The ultimate achievement for them is to have a chair in a foreign university, where some of them brand India as a backward, fundamentalist country. Isn’ it so Mr Amartya Sen? But the real issue is: how can Indian science re-link itself again with the spiritual? There is no question that the Spirit is very much present in India: everywhere you go, you find ashrams, yogis, sadhus, ordinary people practicing meditation or pranayama.

The natural tendency here is to understand the levels of consciousness beyond the surface materiality. Other than Indian Nobel laureates there have been geniuses like Ramanujan, who, with no sophisticated means, were able to devise stupendous mathematical theorems. But Indian science has to look within and delve in its scientific past. The secrets of the Vedas, for instance, both spiritual and scientific, have never been fully deciphered; Sanskrit too has never been analyzed in a modern manner. Indian science mustshow the West how to reestablish the spiritual link and at last unite matter and spirit.

Waking up the Kumbhkaran

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: http://www.india.com
Date: November 6, 2000

I HAVE had the privilege to live for more than 30 years in India.

To my knowledge, only two foreign journalists have stayed so long in this country: Mark Tully, who as you know was for long the South Asia BBC correspondent and myself.

It has long been my opinion that India is very difficult country to grasp for a foreign correspondent, as it is so different from the West, full of contradictions, paradoxes, baffling parameters, etc. Going from Delhi to Madras, for instance, is like flying from Paris to Athens, because there is absolutely no comparison between the two, as if you have passed from one continent to another. Thus, for a Westerner, say from Europe, where all the countries share more or less the same religion (Christianity), more or less the same ethnic origins (Caucasian), more or less the same food habits (meat) and more or less the same dress code (ties and dresses), India can be a very enigmatic country.

Disinformation about India by the intellectual media
Yet, not only do we find that Western correspondents are generally posted only for three, maximum five years in India – too short a time to really start getting the ABC of the subcontinent; but also, that most of them have – before even reaching India – very strong and biased ideas, prejudices, misconceptions, on the country they are supposed to report about in an impartial and fair manner.

Forget the fact that by the time they leave India, these foreign correspondents have even been more reinforced in their prejudices: the Hindu “fundamentalists”, the “persecuted” minorities of India, the “Human Rights” abuses performed in Kashmir by the Indian Army, plus the usual folkloric the stories about India: the “dashing” maharajas (who are absolutely irrelevant to modern India), the “atrocities” on Indian women (no country in the world as India has given such an important place to its women), or the “horrible” sati and bride burning (an old British trick to show Hindus in a bad light).

I was lucky. First I came to India when I was very young (19), with hardly any prejudices, because I had never really thought about India; I was also immensely fortunate to have spent my first eight formative years in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram of Pondichery, where I met the Mother, a formidable Presence and read at length Sri Aurobindo, India’s modern Avatar, Revolutionary, (the first Congress leader to have advocated India’s Independence, if necessary by force), immense Poet, Philosopher and Yogi (yet totally ignored by today’s Indian youth); I was also extremely lucky that when I started journalism in the early 80s, I did freelancing assignments in rural areas, particularly in the South: Kerala’s extraordinary Kalaripayat, the ancestor of all great Asian martial arts; the beautiful Ayyappa pilgrimage, also in the jungles of Kerala; the Ayanar sculptures in the villages of Tamil Nadu.

And this led to my most important discovery, which endured to this day (and I believe Mark Tully came to the same conclusions – read his books): namely that the genius of India was (and still is) in its villages – and not in the cities — where an arrogant intelligentsia and a more and more westernized youth, have less and less idea about their roots and culture.

Even so, it took me ten years to feel that I was beginning to understand India and to discard the ideas I had somehow picked-up along the way: that the Congress was the best party to lead India out of communalism; that secularism was the best option for the country, given its incredible ethnic and religious diversity; or that the RSS, the VHP and other Hindu groups were “violent” and dangerous. On a more positive note, it also took me ten years to understand what a wonderful culture and civilization Hindu India had been — and still is in some way: how Hinduism never tried to use the might of its armies, as Islam and Christianity did, to convert other nations; how Hindus always recognized the divinity of other religions and never shied from also worshipping in Buddhist temples, Christian churches, or Muslim mosques; how India, since time immemorial, has been the land of refuge for all persecuted minorities of the world: the Jews, the Parsis, the Syrian Christians, or today’s Tibetans.

Only Marxists find fundamentalism in Hindus
It took me ten years to see, that far from being the fundamentalists described by the British and today’s Indian Marxists, Hindus have been at the receiving end of persecution for 1,600 years: first wave upon wave of Muslim invasions, which tried, in the most ruthless and horrifying manner, to wipe-off Hinduism from the face of the earth; then the more insidious European colonisation – but no less harmful – witness the Portuguese who crucified countless Brahmins in Goa, or the British under whose “enlightened” rule 30-million Indians died of famine. And it is not finished: today’s Hindus are still killed in Kashmir, in Bangladesh (see Taslima Nasreen’s book Lajja), Pakistan or Afghanistan.

It also took me a long time to understand that Indians are sometimes their worst enemies: Indian journalists have often taken-up like parrots the slogans coined by the British to divide India and belittle its civilisation; Nehru blindly adopted most of the set-up left behind by the English, without bothering to borrow from India’s ancient genius and, as a result, India’s constitutional, judicial or educational system is totally non-Indian and only produces western clones.

In defence of Hindu gurus

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: Rediff.com
Date: January 9, 2006
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/jan/09franc.htm

When Marxist leader Brinda Karat attacks Swami Ramdev, she is not attacking Ramdev in particular, she is attacking Hinduism in general.

This guru or that guru makes no difference to her; she is against all gurus.

Other gurus might think they are safe, that Ramdev committed some sin for which he is paying. But one of them will be the next in the line of fire!

Hindu gurus are all vulnerable in today’s India: The Kanchi Shankaracharya has already been hit. So has Satya Sai Baba. Amritanandamayi has to live under the constant shadow of a hostile Kerala Communist-dominated government. Dhirendra Brahmachari is dead and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is periodically targeted as the ‘Guru of the rich’, the ‘Glib Godman’ etc.

May I be forgiven my arrogance, but what Indian gurus have to understand is that for Indian Communists, Hinduism is the Number 1 enemy. Mao called religion ‘the opium of the people’. But for Indian Communists, what stands between their ambition for absolute power in India (and eventually the triumphant return of Communism in the world — as Indian Communists believe) is the hold Hinduism has in the hearts of the rural people of India, who constitute 80 per cent of this country.

Yet, the humble farmer from Uttar Pradesh to Tamil Nadu has a natural understanding of the universality of God, who takes many names throughout the ages who could be Buddha, Jesus Christ, Ram or Mohammad. This humble farmer possesses the knowledge that there is a something deeper than the skin and the mind, and a life beyond death. This knowledge is inbred, it is not in his head, not even in his heart, but in his or her genes from generation to generation.

Of course, the English-speaking media is too happy to oblige Brinda Karat and come down hard on gurus with all kind of accusations.

Before Ramdev, they came down on the Kanchi Shankaracharya, before him on Osho, before him on Dhirendra Brahmachari. You can even go back to Sri Aurobindo, who was accused in the early 1900s by the moderate Congress-controlled press to be a ‘fanatic’, when he was only demanding total independence from the British long before Gandhi took it up.

Accusations against Hinduism of superstition, brainwashing, ritualistic ignorance, date back from British missionaries and have been taken up today by the Communists. Yet, Hinduism — at least the Hinduism which goes beyond the rituals and becomes universal spirituality — has nothing to do with superstition and conmanship: it is all about science, knowledge and light.

Look at Pranayama, a science that has known for thousands of years how to harness breath and use it for controlling the mind, for a better, more healthy, more spiritualised life. If you read Osho’s books today, you find a lot of solid common sense, wisdom, even light.

Satya Sai Baba cannot have millions of disciples from the most humble to the Presidents of India without ‘something’ which is beyond superstition. So goes for Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ramdev, or Guruma of Ganeshpuri.

And why should Brinda Karat target Ayurveda, the most ancient medical system in India still in practice, the first medicine to realise 3,000 years ago that plants and minerals offer the best cure, that many illnesses have a psychosomatic origin, the first to practice plastic surgery on patients?

In India today, every third shop is an allopathic medical shop, whose profits go to Western multinationals (hello Mrs Karat!) at a time when Ayurvedic medicine is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, after being disillusioned by antibiotics and other heavy-handed medicines.

We are witnessing an interesting phenomenon in India today. Some Communists, some Christians, some Muslims and some Congress leaders — all of whom have nothing in common and often hate each other are united against Hinduism and Hindu leaders.

In contrast, look at the Hindus: Swami Ramdev himself criticised Sri Sri Ravi Shankar live on television, advising his followers not to practice Art of Living breathing techniques. During the tsunami relief operations in Nagapattinam, disciples of Amritanandamayi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar nearly came to blows over who would give relief to whom, instead of networking and uniting their efforts.

And who came to the rescue of Osho when he was maligned to death, or Dhirendra Brahmachari when the entire press came down on him, or Satya Sai Baba, when he was slandered, or the Shankaracharya when he was thrown into jail, or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, when Javed Akhtar accused him of coming ‘from a cave to live in a palace’ (and not from a palace to a cave like the Buddha)? None of the previously mentioned. Yet, Indian politicians can commit any crime, have any number of court cases against them, and they still end up as Union ministers and get positive press coverage.

The greatest curse of Hinduism throughout the ages has been its disunity — and more than that — its betraying each other. The British did not conquer India, it was given to them by its warring Hindu princes, jealous of each other. The same is true of Islam: the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar, was betrayed to the Muslims by the Lingayats.

I know there is something mysterious and unfathomable in the manifestation of the Divine upon earth, and that each guru has a defined task to fulfill and that the combined task of all the gurus may solve the great puzzle that is this ignorant and suffering earth.

Thus, it may not be necessary for each guru to communicate with each other. But nevertheless, it is of the greatest urgency today that Hindu leaders unite to save Hinduism, rather than ‘each one for his own’ that we see today.

The Catholics have their Pope and his word is binding on all Catholics. Muslims have Prophet Mohammed’s words and that binds all of Islam together. Indian Communists have the words of Marx and Lenin, even if it has become irrelevant in Russia, Germany, and also in China. But the poor Hindus have nobody to refer to, so as to defend themselves.

Yet, if you take the combined people power of Satya Sai Baba, Amritaanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Ramdev, Guruma of Ganeshpuri, the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, and so many others I cannot mention here, it runs in hundreds of millions.

Again, in all humility and conscious of the limitation of mind compared to some of these great gurus whom I have met, I propose that a Supreme Spiritual Council, composed of at least seven of the most popular Hindu leaders of India, be constituted, maybe under the leadership of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the most travelled of all these, the one who has disciples and teachers of all religions, both from India and the West.

It should be a non-political body, and each group would keep its independence but nevertheless. It could meet two three times a year and issue edicts, which would be binding on 850 millions Hindus in India and one billion over the world.

Then and then only can this wonderful spirituality which is Hinduism, this eternal knowledge behind the outer forms, the wisdom to understand this mad earth and its sufferings, be preserved for the future of India, and for the future of humanity.

I bow down to each of these gurus mentioned above and to all those not mentioned, to Swami Vivekananda, the initiator of modern Hinduism, to Sri Aurobindo, the great avatar of the supramental, and to all the great gurus who have graced over the ages, this wonderful and sacred land which is India and beseech them to hear my prayer:
Hindus leaders, unite, if you want eternal Dharma to survive.