What India Can Teach Us

J. Donald Walters a k a Swami Kriyananda,  a proponent of yogic teachings,  became in 1948,  at the age of 22, a disciple of  the master, Paramhansa Yogananda, knownfor his famous book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’
HERE IS ONE POST THAT MAKES US THINK. Many Westerners have studied Indian philosophy and spiritualism deeply and considered India their spiritual motherland. He brought back to me memories of a book I cam across in the 1960s, ‘The Ocher Robe’ written by Swami Agehananda  Bharati, an Austrian who had was with the Ramakrishna Mission.
The following post  is by Swami Kriyananda, born in 1926 to American parents in Romania and a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Since my childhood I have   traveled extensively, visiting more than fifty countries. I have enjoyed observing the superficial differences of national outlook and temperament, while at the same time recognizing underneath them a shared humanity. It was in India, however, where I lived for four years, that I met my greatest challenges.

Slippers for a ‘VIP’ (Old Ones Will Do)


Ex-Prime Minister of UK David Cameron stands in London train as there was no seat. He did not shout  “Do you not  know who am?”  or beat other passengers  for not offering him a seat.  Indian  MP  or  so-called “VIP’s” , of any party, would not have  shown such restraint. And no ex-PM in India would have traveled in a train like a common man as David  Cameron did

To  Shriman Argeeji,                                     Member RWA Managing Committee

Respeccted Bhau Saheb,

Congratulations for being in the news once again even before we could answer your letter to the Resident’s Welfare Association about the grave injustice done to you,an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged, by Apartment security men, whom we have now removed (they were from North East, anyway (not amchi maanus).

We read in the newspapers that you have again had a brush with authority, now the Mumbai police. The reporter did not say how many times you beat the policemen with slippers. It may be because (1) he/she was weak at counting, (2) thought it was too obvious Continue reading Slippers for a ‘VIP’ (Old Ones Will Do)

‘Poltically Correct’ or Islamophobia?

MY LEAST POPULAR BLOG POST seems to be the one on the questions raised about Islamists perhaps by RSS or ‘saffron’ propagandists. Not one ‘like’. Not one comment on the blog. It is politically incorrect to speak anything which may anger Islamic fundamentalists.

You can write a ‘Ramayana Vishavriksham’ or a parody with any character from any Hindu epics. Toilet seats, women’s undergarments, floor mats or liquor bottles with pictures of Hindu gods have not evoked any violent protests from Hindus. A Hindu girl found fault with my post against such practices which she said were not  bad at all.

But publication of a story by a Bangalore daily, by a Muslim writer, in which the half-wit Muslim protogonist had the most common Muslim name resulted in one of the worst communal riots ever in that city in the 1980s.

Or the silence  may be out of fear – if not of being targeted by the community, at least of being accused of Islamophobia. You can attack any Hindu belief, custom or leader and you get praised as a liberal ‘progresive’, but you cannot say word about Islam without first praising it as a great religion of peace. If you don’t you are communal, an RSS stooge.

No doubt real Islam is a great religion. Its emphasis on the  rich sharing their wealth and on sacrifice is commendable. But there are two Islams: the Islam of Allah and the Islam of the Mullah. And this difference was pointed out by a Muslim himself – Shahrukh Khan. It is the Mullah-dictated Islam that is posing problems.

Like the Hindu  sanatnvaadis who place meaningless rituals and symbols above the spirit and philosophy of Hinduism, fundamentalist interpretations of Islam care more for the sharia laws pronounced centuries ago in another social and historical context and its physical symbols, more than the intention behind them.

Polygamy in an age where many men got killed in wars leaving too many women behind cannot be a Shara sanctioned practice today. Same with Hijab and other symbols which were time-specific and need to be updated. Will you wait for a camel on a London road instead of taking a cab just because in another age and time that was the only transport used?

Islam preaches peace and brotherhood. Why then do you read every day of  Boko Haram and ISIS butchering innocent people and children? Why are ancient heritage structures and cultural symbols destroyed? Why are Muslims in Myanmar, China and most other countries facing persecution as they fail to integrate with local people? Why are some Muslim groups like Ahmedias outcastes and sufis killed?

It is fashionable to rightly decry untouchability  practiced only by foolish, outdated, Hindus. But not a word can be said about such practices in Islam. Caste discremination, dowry system, child marriages are bad in Hindus. But you can lean on sharia or some misinterpreted old verse somewhere to justify it in others.

The only reaction to my post came not in comment on the blog but in an email from a friend, saying it was NOT true that no fatwa was issued against terrorism.

I asked her: Who issued it and when? Was it issued before Pakstan itself became a victim of the Frankenstein’s ghost of terrorism it created and nurtured? Was it it by some Sufi or Shia cleric or by a Sunni, the Islamic faction ruling Pakistan?

She had no answer for it. She is NOT a Muslim so she felt the neccessuty to be objective and fair to Islam. She cannot just rely on any interpretation of some aayte or kalma.

At an Inter Religious Harmony meeting addressed by a retired General I had suggested making it compulsory for everyone to study and pass an examination in a religion other than his or her own. Very few people of one religion have any deep understanding of other religions.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who could quote Tirukkural or  Swami Chinmayananda who could quote offhand from any book of the Bible are very rare.

If they were not, would there have been so much of strife in the name of religion today?




Don’t Vote, Only Talk of Democracy

ARMCHAIR POLITICAL ANALYSTS AND EXPERTS on democracy are as common in India as the cricket watchers who from the comfortable sofas in front of their TV sets know exactly how IPL players should play. And all the mistakes they commit.

These experts declare  that the bane of Indian politics is that the educated people do not vote.  They leave electing the rulers of the country to the ‘vote banks’ of illiterates who can be influenced by the three Cs – cash, caste and coersion. The result is a “govenment by fools and knaves” who try to rake in as much wealth as they can by every conceivable corrupt means.

It has been said umpteen times that those who think politics is a dirty game they wish to keep away from,  have no right to complain against the misdeeds of the elected MPs and MLAs who consider even sitting with the ‘common’ people below their dignity.

The tragedy is that often those who make such pithy statements do not themselves vote. So it was a surprise when a relative who shifted from another city wanted to know how to get a voter ID.

After some Googling and asking around it was found that he should go to the Bangalore Municipal Corporation office at Mahadevpura and apply.

The officer there seemed least interested in helping him.  “Where is your old card?” he asked. When told that he was on the electoral rolls of a small town near Pune years ago and had lost the card, the official who was extremely rude, asked him to go back there lodge a police complaint and produce evidence that the name has been deleted there. When he demanded Form 6 in which a new voter can apply, the official refused. When his rude behaviour was objected to the official said, “Go and complain to whoever you want. No one can touch me.”

Another friend who had an old election ID card wanted to get another as he shifted to a different constituency. He too was told to go back, get his enrolment there cancelled and produce proof.

So he took a day off from office nd wen al hecway to his old locality. A reluctant but less rude officer took his old card, searched the role and said his name was not there. What about the photo ID card with a number and name of the constituency on it? “I don’t know. Your name is not here so I cannot delete it,”  he was told.

The rude officual in the new locality refused to give him a form unless it was struck off from the old list. So he cannot be a voter. It was obvious that none of the officials were interested in seeing that he was able to vote. After all he did not belong to any vote bank which the leaders woo.

Why not develop a device to scan the barcode on his  Adhar card on his mobile’s scanner and transmit it to the polling booth without even going there? That way there would be much larger scale of voting. As the Adhar card is biometric computers programmed for it can eliminate duplicate voting  Officials with instruments like smartphomes can even go from house to house and ensure there is 100  per cent  voting.

But in a country where the electronic voting machines are doubted by those who lose but praiaed by the winners, who wants 100 p.c. voting?

You need not vote – only talk about the importance of voting. And of democracy.

Propaganda, Yes, But Answers Needed

Hindu cultural practices  prevail in Indonesian areas of Bali and Sumatra, still it is an Islamic country. Malaysia too  has Hindu imprints, but it has not  been  converted to Hinduism.The spread of other religions in India is a proof that Hinduism is tolerant

Continue reading Propaganda, Yes, But Answers Needed

A Member’s Letter to RWA President

To The President
Residents’ Welfare Association,
False Prestige Apartments


This is to bring to your notice a serious wrong done to me, an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged, by the security men of the apartment

You know that I am a member of the Managing Committee of the Residents’ Welfare Association, a post I condescendingly accepted though I am an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged.

On 23rd of this month I went from my sixth-floor flat to the terrace garden on atop the 14th floor to attend a program organised by the RWA. When I reached there I found that all the front-row seats were occupied. I had to stand for full two minutes till someone in the second row vacated a seat for me.

Though I am an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged,     a nine-year-old boy sat in front of me in the first row making me sit with others like a common man. He did not get up, prostrate before me and offer me the seat.

I am a very peaceful and soft-spoken person. The 13 dogs in the apartment buildings always respect me by wagging their tails whenever I pass by. That is enough proof of my being an extremely good, mature and understanding person.

All these dogs know that I had beaten up only three security men, one plumber and two electricians in the last two years when they did not bow down to touch my feet, though I am an eminent member of a prominent caste to which kings belonged. It is known that I am a good man.

Imagine sitting in a basket and being pulled up to my flat

So I caught the boy who sat so disrespectfully in front me, an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged and very courteously and peacefully thrashed him. When I wanted to throw him down from the 14th floor some people restrained me, holding my hands though they belonged to lower castes and asked the security men to remove me from the meeting.

Please tell me what wrong have I done? Should those low caste men touch me and prevent me, a member of the managing committee of the RWA and an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged, from throwing down a boy who did not vacate the seat for me and made me sit with common people?

Now the security and other residents of the flats do not allow me to enter the lift to go to my fifth floor apartment. After being forced to take the stairs to the fifth floor seven times, I had to get some brethren from my prominent caste to install a pulley on the flat’s balcony and pull up by rope a basket in which I sit. It is risky and I shudder to think of the rope snapping midway.

Residents of the flat are totally wrong in treating me the this way knowing that I am an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged and also a RWA managing committee member. They allege I tried to kill the boy. Is it possible, as I was not carrying any arms? I only wanted to strangle the boy and throw him down peacefully and with all respect. In fact a journalist who was writing against me was carrying a sharp, pointed, instrument with which I could have been stabbed – a fountain pen.

I feel that I have done nothing wrong. It is our culture, from anicent times, that an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged are always greeted by people prostrating before him and touching his feet. So the residents owe me an apology.

It is very difficult to sit in a basket and be pulled up to fifth floor by a pulley, for which I have to feed and pay several concerned fellow-brethren from my prominent caste. Mid-air and feeling the discomfort of the basket on my rear, as I was being pulled up, I could relate to another person, also in mid-air (on an air plane), who was not given due respect and the right seat.

I hereby demand that security agency of the apartments be told to not only allow me to use the lift, but also ensure that no common people share it with me, an eminent member of a prominent caste to which some kings belonged.

After all I am an RWA managing committee member and not a common man.

Yours sincerely

RWA Managing Committee member

Kid Gloves And Tough Adults

No good
Growing up to be tough guy or mama’s boy?

PARENTING IS A TOPIC ON which advice is always forthcoming, whether one asks for it or not. There are many American (and other) parenting sites on which parents pose problems and other parents suggest solutions.

A lengthy message I received recently said bringing up children in a too protected environment giving them whatever they ask for makes them unprepared to face disappointments and hardships in adult like.

It brought back of memories of my son who had learnt cycling before he was seven telling his older cousins not to complain of minor injuries when they fall as Continue reading Kid Gloves And Tough Adults

Compliance For Profit, Not Rules

Village panchayat in action

INDIAN INDUSTRY HAS COME A LONG WAY from the days, before Independence, when even a pin was imported – mostly from Britain. The imperial masters deliberately killed traditional Indian enterprises and skills just to promote their own economy.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadeshi drive and boycott of foreign goods died with him as none of those who used his name to win power were sincere.    Continue reading Compliance For Profit, Not Rules