Time: 2800 BC, Location: Salisbury, present day England.
The chieftain of the clan, hubbylulu, was really powerful, he was a just ruler and the clan was proud that they had such a wonderful leader. There was only one weakness of the chieftain, a hobby, of collecting huge stone boulders and polishing them. Other clans knew his weakness and used to send huge boulders as gifts to this leader. The leaders of the clan – Huobou, situated in present day Wales sent most of the stones. Hubbylulu had a wife wifeylulu., who just hated the stones. There used to be domestic problems because of the boulders piling up at their house. Finally the Hubbylulu ordered his minister to keep the stones somewhere, where the chieftain could visit them. The minister, who had masters degree in circular art, arranged the stones in a particular fashion., and located them at different places. The minister also had a hobby, but his was of collecting wood. For arranging the stones, he followed the same pattern of the woods..
Time flew by, Romans invaded, many of these structures were destroyed.. In time these structures were ignored, till in mid 20th century, where some archaeologists began studying the structure.. They concluded it as an enigma, an unsolved mystery of ages and named it Stonehenge. Druids claimed the place as their, and so did several people.. Legends started sprouting up, and today the ruins attract more tourists, who look at it amazingly.. and wonder and tell how they were “spirituallly” touched and how wonderful the structure was!! Indeed, some universities also pitched in studying the Henges. Today its one of the world’s famous mysteries. Still there are lot of stories about the henges, but no one knows about the chieftain-hubbylulu and his minister and their pranks!!
ps: Ok.. I made up part of the story..
Sushil had never been to windsor castle., and it was the nearest attraction other than “the Hampton Court”, near where we stay. So in the morning(morning means anytime between 11 am and 1 pm) Myself and Sushil drove to the castle. The most interesting was the great walk, where we took off our shoes and walked a long stretch.
Soon Sushil was busy at the shopping center at Windsor, as he is a really value-for-money-choosy-sort-of-buyer. I left him free, after finding two bookshops in the vicinity, and I spent most of the time browsing through the books.. The list of books I wanted to buy started to grow longer. But then I curtailed it to only two for the moment.
I bought Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. I had another two books shortlisted. “The hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” by Douglas Adams and any of the “Harry Potter” book by JK Rowling. But then I ruled out buying them, as I could borrow them from the library. Sopihe’s world and Siddhartha, for me felt like books to be owned!! My friend Praveen had recommended both the books., and I had read the malayalm translation of Hesse’s Siddhartha.
After spending more time in the high-street, than we spend viewing Windsor castle, we pacified our rumbling tummies at the nearest Pizza hut, before returning home.. Hmm a good day and a nice beginning to the weekend.
It always happen with myself and my friend Sushil. Whatever movie we go to, turns out to be a damp squib. So it was to happen, He came from switzerland today to spend weekend here at london, and I booked tickets for the Bollywood Blockbuster “Yaadein”, as per his request. Yes!! indeed we had fun time in the theatre, passing on the scenes we found interesting. The movie was not interesting, the company we were in was.
So after an average of 3-visits-to-bathroom (the reason being the X-large carbonated drink we all had) in between the movie(there was no interval), finally the movie was over.. Thank god, we rushed home back, for a game of rummy followed by bluff and good sleep. I dont want to critcally analyze the movie “yaadein” since I dont want to have any yaadein related to that.. Thanx..
ps: et tu subhash ghai?!!
Often I am surprised at the ignorance of “Hindu’s” about their religion. To begin with, there is not a religion known as Hinduism, but the people living on the Indus and beyond were called “indoos” by Persians which in time came into known as Hindu’s. So called indoos, were a society much advanced than the rest culturally, other one being Chinese culture. But accepting that people being born in this society as Hindu’s, I sometimes wonder at the state of their knowledge of their “religion”.
Am I being fundamentalist!! Maybe I am., Curiously, Hindu’s when speak about Hinduism, are expected to have a guilty feeling!! Wonder why!! since they are supposed to be secularist.. they shouldn’t be speaking about their religion.. If you are.. then you are a fundamentalist, even if you respect other religions. No wonder Hindu fundamentalist forces are gathering momentum in India. Ironically, it seems like, “secularists” are fuelling the fundamentalist fire!! Those who haven’t a clue about what Hinduism is and what the underlying ideas are, spare no words in criticising it., but they would not venture into an unbiased study of it. They go on like prozelyting missionaries, who’s main objective is to just convert people to their own thinking.
I remember an incident that happened to my friend Praveen, who I consider a strong nationalist. Some preachers came to his house to speak about Jesus. Had they spoken about Jesus and Christianity, it would have been fine, had they not started quoting from “Bhagavad Gita” in support of Christianity. My friend, immediately asked them to halt, brought them a copy of Bhagavad Gita, and asked them to show where it was said so. Missionaries!! The first missionary religion was Buddhism, and they were really successful in converting majority of people to Buddhism, Major part of Asia was Buddhist at one time., and then Shankaracharya came from South India., and he single handedly wiped out Buddhism from India, the land where Buddha was born, the Buddhism which by that time had become a “religion”, rather than a way of life, far from what Buddha had preached. The so called secularists are nothing but another type of missionaries wanting followers to stick to what they think is “Secularism”!!
I look with amazement, when any Hindu is asked the question about their scriptures.. Luckily “Bhagavad Gita” comes as an answer, to the rescue.. Even if they haven’t got a clue about what was it and what does it teach, still they have got a scripture to point, like the Muslim’s point to Holy Koran and Christians to the Bible. Well, sorry.. But Bhagavad Gita, is a long way down the line of Indian Scriptures. Luckily Hinduism is not a prozelyting religion, so you wont find people carrying “Bhagavad Gita” around and converting people to Hinduism.(I heard that some people have started doing that too!!! Indeed God is a sadist, enjoying the plight of humans!!). It indeed is a sad thing that people are so engrossed in religion, and in most of the cases they haven’t a clue about their on religion, and funnily the least interesting person for them is God..
I remember a joke.. There was a rich-people-only church in one place. No poor people were allowed inside the church.., and there was no other church in the nearest locality. One poor villager always wanted to pray in that church and none of the rich devotees or the attendants of the church allowed it. The person was so sad that he prayed to Jesus. His prayer was so sincere that Jesus came to him and asked for a boon., for which the poor person said “I want to get inside that church and pray to you everyday”.. Jesus was sad., He replied “That’s impossible my son.. ” The poor man was a bit taken back.. Jesus calmly continued “Even I am trying to get in there for ages.. but they wont allow even me into the church !!”
Coming back, Hinduism is the one religion, where there was even sect who didn’t believe in god and were purely materialists., but they too were philosophers(Knows as the sect of “Charvakas”). But no one knows about them.. so here is a brief overview in Hinduism and Indians scriptures.. Insufficient knowledge and authority restrains me from explaining the wonderful thoughts contained in them.
The first evidences of “Hindu religion” come from the Harappan civilisation. As per the “Aryan Invasion Theory” This civilisation was “Dravidian” in origin, and the invaders pushed them to the south of India, where the “Dravidian” culture flourished. How far is this theory valid is debatable., and still arguments are rife regarding the authenticity of this theory. Anyway, Vedas are the first scriptures that “Hinduism” has. These were poetical compositions in Sanskrit, and many sages through ages contributed to it. There were two classifications in Indian Scriptures. Shruti’s and Smriti’s. Shruti’s are scriptures, which were “heard” and Smriti’s are one which were “remembered”. Too hard to explain these terms. Well Understand Shruti and Smriti like this. Shruti’s were “intuitively heard” by the seers and Smriti’s were the text which they remember, which has been passed on. Veda’s fall into the category of Shruti’s. Manusmriti is an example of Smriti. The four Veda’s of ancient India are
- Rig Veda
- Yajur Veda
- Saama Veda
- Atharva Veda
In addition to this there was some upa-vedas(sub-Veda’s) which came to existence much later.. like Ayur-veda(science of life), Dhanurveda(science of weaponry) etc. After the Four major veda’s came into being “Brahmanas” (not “Brahmans” the priestly class) were written, which dealt with sacrifices and the incantations. Then came “Aaranyakas” which literally mean “forest Scriptures” (aaranya in Sanskrit means forest). Vedic people used to worship nature, in its full splendour. Brahmanas and Aranyaka’s preceded the creation of one of the best scriptures in the world “The Upanishad’s”.
Upanishads were work of some brilliant minds, where they questioned the meaning of life and creation. The seers of upanishadic age were inquisitive, rational and observant. The outcome of their effort was a quantum leap in human thought and philosophy. The seers of that age studied causes of the universe, the cause and effect law’s, About human mind, about reality, illusion. Upanishad’s are considered the culmination of Veda’s and contained the hidden knowledge of ultimate reality. From Upanishads comes the philosophy of Atma, Paramatma, Karma, Prana etc. The seers studied the functioning of human mind and proclaimed. “A person is what his deep desire is. It is our deepest desire in this life that shapes the life to come. So let us direct our deepest desires to realise the Self.” There are several Upanishads, but 18 of them were considered major and others minor. They explained the high philosophical thoughts of the seers in small stories. Here’s a link to a story from Chanddogya Upanishad [link]
After the Upanishadic age, broadly there were six schools of philosophy in India. they were
- Nyaya – School of reasoning and logic
- Vaiseshika – School of science
- Yoga – School of psychological exercises and mysticism
- Sankhya – School of materialism
- Meemamsa – School of rituals
- Vedanta – School of monism
An elaboration of the above will be too time consuming and I too have limited knowledge of all the schools of thought. But I am sure yoga will be familiar, as it has been popularised in the western world. Just to digress, Nalanda and Takshashila were the two ancient universities in India., where these where taught along with other disciplines like ayurveda etc.. These universities existed in Present day Bihar, and its believed that students from different countries came to study there. The ruins of the university still exists.
Then came the Two Itihaasa’s(lit. translation ‘ “It happened so”)
- Ramayana – Story of King Rama
- Mahabharatha – Story of Kaurava’s and Pandava’s
The seers of that age seems to have understood that to make the supreme knowledge available to the lay person, stories has to follow.. What is a better story than telling the history, but they didn’t forget the encode the upanishadic wisdom into the two Itihaasa’s. Ramayana contained “Yoga-vasishta” and Mahabharata contained “Bhagavad Gita”.
After two itihasa’s came Purana’s (Mythological stories)., there are around 18 Maha-purana’s(tr. Maha = “Great”) and 108 upa-purana’s. These were replete with stories of gods and demons and the fight between good and evil, and how the good wins in the end. There were several other scriptures also belonging to the “Hindu” school of thought, like Ashtavakra Samhita, Thirukkural, Guru Gita, Narada-Bhakti-sutra, Vijnanabhairav-tantra etc.., but this overview will have to be an extensive and elaborate overview then. (yes and I also have to scour my memory for them)
That’s it for now.. I could go on and on and then write about the sect of Charvaka’s, Jainism, Buddhism, how Buddhism went to china, and merged with Tao-ism, which eventually became Zen. About Shaivism – Kashmir Shaivism in particular and Shaivism(Nayanar’s), Vaishnavism(Alwar’s) in South India., Tantric Cults, Advaita, Vishishtadwaita, and Dwaita.. The Bhakti movement., the list goes on and on.. Interestingly narrow minded people twist the religion, which they don’t understand a bit, for their “belief’s and Convenience!!” I will conclude this with an anecdote about the frogs in the well…
There used to be a group of frogs staying in well. For generations the well was their home. One day a frog from a big pond accidentally came to that well., and the well-frogs inquired about him. The pond-frog said that he lives in a big pond much much bigger that this well. The well-frogs didn’t believe it. They were convinced that there cannot be anything bigger than the well. But the pond frog insisted the truth that the place he came from was the pond, which was much much bigger and contained several species., and wanted the well frogs to venture out of their well to find out. The well-frogs got agitated and killed the Pond-frog for spreading blasphemy!!
A priest was irritated at people using temple pond, where he also used to take bath. He successfully spread the rumour that there was a “water-ghost” in the pond.. His plan worked.. people stopped using the pond..
Next time priest went to that pond for bath., he wondered.. what if there really is a “water-ghost” in the pond?! He also stopped using the pond..