Thursday, January 6, 2011

An Interesting Conversation, held on FaceBook, on various aspects of spirituality and philosophy

Yogesh Andlay:“That man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others.”

“Economic change is driven by individual ethical choices, not rational material interests.”

- From 'Unto this last' by John Ruskin published in 1860, a book that had profund impact on Gandhi ji

Somnath Bharti: Yogesh, interestingly of which almost all Indians are unaware of, Gandhi had his inspiration coming from Tolstoy, Ruskin and Thoreau. Strange that he found no Indian philosophers or Indian Philosophy worth inspiration!!!

Yogesh Andlay: Not entirely correct. Needs to be explored further....

Anil Bhatnagar: Somnath ji, I am aware of Tolstoy's influence on Gandhi ji's formative years but Gandhi ji was also influenced by various scriptures like Gita and Bible.

Somnath Bharti: Yogesh, an immediate proof of what I said is available in the book "Gandhi: the man, his people, and the empire By Rajmohan Gandhi". On page 182 Rajmohan writes "In his preface of the English Version (of Hind Swaraj), Gandhi writes that he has 'endeavoured humbly to follow Tolstoy, Ruskin, Thoreau, Emerson and other writers, besides the masters of Indian philosophy'. He names the Westerners, not the Indians, he refers to." Read the last line again.

Anil Ji, he was greatly influenced by Bible from where he picked up "offer the second cheek" concept, though he never mentioned of it anywhere. His work no where reflects Gita. Recently I got hold of M O Mathai's (PS of Nehru) book (banned in India) and I was shocked to read about the fraud played upon India and its people by Gandhi and his team.

Anil Bhatnagar: Gandhi ji mentioned that for him there was not much of a difference between Bible and Gita as he could derive from the other. One could not have claimed so with so much conviction unless one obviously was a student of both Gita and Bible. However, having said so, I personally feel it is not important which source our goodness comes from so long as it comes. His Holiness Dalai Lama says that the best religion is the one that brings out the best in us. Many people during my workshops do not like my reference to western sources. They are more interested in the source than in the values themselves. I think all great people like Gandhi are just the opposite: they are more focused on imbibing the right values irrespective their source. A vedic verse inspires us thus:" Let wisdom come from all directions".

Somnath Bharti: Anil, I am entirely in agreement with you but only with a rider. The freedom as to the source of the good/wisdom for an individual is worth a discussion as long as both are readily and equally made available but where one (Indian Philosophy) has been deliberately destroyed while the other (western philosophy) has been enthusiastically promoted, freedom of the individual is hardly a parameter. Lord Macaulay and his latest Avatar Kapil Sibal are hell bent on destroying Indian literatures. Are we giving our kids a free choice of Indian and Western? I am afraid that we are manufacturing our kids in a way that they will appreciate western thoughts and values only. The harm by this is not only to India and its rich civilization but to western too as generations there will never know the riches of Indian Civilization.

Yogesh Andlay: Just finished reading 2 of 3 chapters. Once you start reading it, you can't stop.... @Somnath: Here is the link

Somnath Bharti: Anil, also on HH Dalai Lama, I had driven down to Dharamshala to meet him in person but returned without meeting him when I came to know that he eats meat in his lunch. For me, meat is to do with compassion rather than a food choice. The argument given by his followers was that they eat and not kill. Buddha's followers is exploiting one incidence of Buddha's life and teachings. I don't value much what HH Dalai Lama says because in my opinion he is one of those people who doesn't understand the basics of spirituality. Just by a following, no one becomes great whether it be Gandhi or HH Dalia Lama. In fact no one by following any one have ever become great. Christ was not a Christian and neither was Buddha a buddhist. One has to die to go to heaven.

Somnath Bharti: Thanks Yogesh for sharing the link. It is indeed great reading Ruskin.

D Rshobha Dani-arora: one doesn't agree with other person's opinion, he agrees with his own opinion expressed by someone else. If this is true, you reflect your fine personality in the quotes, Yogesh!

Anil Bhatnagar: Somnath ji, I am in complete ageement with you regarding your comment that meat eating is not just a food choice. I think it is indeed cruelty towards innnocent animals. However, are u sure about him eating meat in lunch? I once heard him confessing he used to do so in his childhood (which I presume meant that he does not do it now).

I agree that earlier invaders systematically destroyed Indian scriptures and today we are doing little to make our heritage be known to our children.

I also agree with you that having followers doesn't necessarily make one truly a leader. However, I have been reading HH Dalai Lama's books on spirituality and they make lot of sense to me hence while loving you for who you are and respecting your views about him, I have difficulty accepting that he does not understand the very basics of spirituality...this appears to be an exaggerated judgement we can do without (By the way I am not his follower. He is only among the many I have read).

Shailendra Jain: I am joining the discussion late. Gandhi read and internalized Gita. I have read Gandhi's commentary on Gita. Gandhi engaged in a very spiritually rich dialog with a Jain monk Raj Chandra (published in several languages).

Gandhi was heavily influenced by Bhakti Marg Saints such as Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Raidas and others.

Shailendra Jain: Is Indian philosophy and literature less accessible or relevant now? May be.

During my thirty-three years of living in the USA, I see an increasing influence of Indian thought. This is happening not only in intellectual circles but also in popular media. Star Wars series of movies created by George Lucas had key concepts of "force", Jedai, and one-on-one coaching by "yoda" from Indian scriptures.

Lately, I am seeing Patanjali quoted more often.

Anil Bhatnagar: I agree with you Shailendra ji. Even in Management we find stalwarts like Stephen Covey quoting from Gita, Vivekananda, Tagore and Gandhi.

Somnath Bharti: Anil Ji, HH Dalai Lama and his followers do eat meat and they justify the same as shared with you earlier. In fact he had visited RadhaSoami Satsang Beas (they practice strict vegetarianism) sometime back wherein his followers were looking for eggs in the morning for his B/F. Because of my father, I have the quest of visiting any and every known living practitioner of Spirituality and sorry to say that majority barring a very few have been doing more damage than any benefit. Barring a very few, all start with a wrong premise; they want me to believe without going through the pain and labor of my own like Buddha, Mahavira, Nanak etc. that there is a God. And when you start with a premise like this then whole journey gets screwed up. And towards the old age, people get conditioned so much that they cling to the unverified believes which they are carrying along since childhood and give all sorts of explanations to save their ego. Like we tell our children that there is a God, Russians tell their children that there is no God and later on the grown ups of these societies debate in favor of such thrust upon believes as if they were their own findings.

Shailendra Ji, whether it be Gita or Bible, they are someone else's personal, original and first hand experiences and if someone tries to internalize them then s/he is just putting another layer of Mask and all such persons will be dangerous to one selves as well as to others. Spirituality is a journey which any desirous person has to undergo individually just as Nanak, Raidas, Kabir, Christ, Ram Krishna went all on their own with no help whatsoever from anywhere.

Anil Bhatnagar: I am in complete agreement with you Somnath ji on each word you have written. If Jesus was great that does not make all Christians great (and the same logic goes for Krishna and Hindus).

Though I personally don't approve this cruelty on animals, however, I feel my compassion for animals and all living beings should extend to include even those who kill them and also to those who have no respect for my sentiments, values and beliefs.

In Buddha's time, monks were allowed to accept meat since they were to accept whatever they were to get in alms (beggers cannot be choosers). This was mainly meant to make them reach beyong Raag and dwesha (eat even what you dislike the most as a mark of complete surrender and let go of what you like the most). But this does not hold good today when the scenario offers more options to them (searching for eggs when they are not available is just the opposite of this spirit and clearly shows raag or attachment).

Spirituality is a personal search for meaning and life sustaining values It cannot be pasted from outside; it must grow from within. It is definitely beyond the inherited beliefs--as you have rightly pointed out

Somnath Bharti: Anil Ji, you have explained the small incidence of Buddha's time beautifully in which he had to permit eating of the meat dropped in the begging bowl of a monk by a vulture on his way back to the monastery as he had received nothing else that day because, as you have beautifully explained, Buddha did not want his monks to empower their minds by exercising discretion- a mark of complete surrender. Ahh, what a great way you have explained this part of Buddhism which is badly misused and exploited so badly by its followers. From outside, buddhus and buddhas look alike; both carefree but from inside, both are extreme of the possibilities available to each of the human beings.

Somnath Bharti: Yogesh/Anil/Shailendra, because our discussion led to many interesting facets which I think would be good for any seeker of truth, I need your permission to permit me post this entire conversation on my blog. If desired, I can suppress your identities.

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