Thoughts in the atmosphere

Things of the world, and out of it.

Are Indian CS Engineers Untrainable?

Posted by desicontrarian on March 3, 2017

Professor Dheeraj Sanghi believes so. He thinks that the reason is copying instead of coding. Not that simple.

Copying code per se is not the real issue. Nowadays experienced developers and lead engineers also do it.

The software world is awash in code. There are places like Stackoveflow and Code project that have snippets, examples, answers to how-to questions on any programming, design or database topic that you want. The technology landscape changes all the time. The real issue is understanding a piece of code, a design issue, a risk or a customer requirement.

The best brains in the world have already solved many problems in great detail. You can immediately access those solutions. The challenge is understanding the solution, where it can be applied, who you can tap for trouble-shooting and how to collaborate “virtually”. It is best practices, code reviews, test packages and algorithm design that are more important than knowing all kinds of sorting, hashing and red and black trees.

Modelling the world is the key. Indian CS education and every other syllabus (like ICSE) is breadth-first in its approach, and wants students to swallow and digest impossible amounts of information. There is no time for such digestion. That is why many resort to copy-paste.

Faculty are too ivory-tower oriented and not many have felt the pain of the business, corporate and start-up world. They are secure in their tenure and never have to account for mistakes and failures in projects and products. Seldom do they have deadlines (except in finishing portions). The culture is hand-me-downs, not engagement with the class. Its very different from the way it is done in UK, US, Europe or Australia. Look at the quality of the online courses and MOOCS from Stanford, Cambridge or Oxford. Much to learn in course design.

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Politically correct British Liberals still love India, bashingly

Posted by desicontrarian on July 18, 2013

India’s deadly mid-day meals.

“Can’t India do anything right?”

“Tell me, if there is anything this misconceived entity India ever got anything right from the time of its premature infantile?”

“India is a failed State covered with a well polished veneer of respectability.”

“The problem with free school meals in India is India itself – a place in which appalling corruption takes place on a daily scale and bribery is the only way to get anything done. Why do you think that so many Indians want to move to the UK / Europe and the US? Precisely because such appalling injustices do not take place in these countries. You should count yourself fortunate to have been born into a first world country.”

“The country of 1.2 billion is in gargantuan mess. Both these articles must be put on top of the Guardian site for the world to know the excrement India has become.”

“And no, it is not because the first world imposed these conditions on poor countries. Britain will always prosper because of Britons and their greatness. Any country that doesn’t prosper is because of themselves. India is a largely lawless place of bribery, violence, corruption, and oppression of women and minorities on a massive scale. Slavery is also commonplace.”

Delhi’s Traffic Chaos

“I was considering a motorcycling holiday in India, after much research and fear for life and limb I think I may go somewhere else..”

“I agree that Asians only should be restricted to bicycles.”

“I have been to Delhi 3 times in my life, and promised myself the last time that I would never make myself go back. Just existing there was so tiring, unless you lock yourself in your hotel room to hide “

“Sounds like my experience of Chennai… went with work a couple of years ago and was convinced I was going to die.”

“I can confirm that the traffic is as bad as this article says – though thankfully my son-in-law was able to negotiate the traffic – I just closed my eyes.”

“The stench from clapped-out cars and lorries is eye-watering. Quite often you find yourself behind a cloud of soot so thick that you can’t even see the vehicle it’s coming from.”

“in 2005 I went to West Bengal for 10 days, by the time I came home I still wasn’t sure which side of the road they drive on”

“I’m reading Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga at the moment. It echoes the general sentiment that India is totally mental.”

You’d think that a left liberal British Newspaper would have decent readers. But the amount of head-shaking, how-can-you-Indians-be-so-wretched, why do you create and live in such hells etc  – is predictable on the Guardian of left-liberal values. It is a favourite opinion-maker for Indian left-liberals  and radicals as well – like Ramachandra Guha, Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen etc. They write quite regularly for the newspaper. Is it difficult to detect the  Raj Nostalgia? They seem to think that if only they were in charge, Indians would be much better off, everything spic and span, gleaming children, shiny hospitals, a toilet for every one and so on.

Do these enlightened readers remember the man-made Bengal famine of 1943, the British Raj-managed impoverishment of India, or Britain’s role in the partition of so many  nations ? That would lead to less head-shaking, so they don’t. And after all, their great humanist pioneer – the writer of A Tale of Two cities – thought Indians deserved extermination. So its not surprising that perhaps up-to 10 million Indians were killed in reprisals after 1857.

What IS surprising is the idea that today, the British have had a change of attitude and things are really nice between erstwhile Masters and Subjects. Robert Clive was of course astonished at his own moderation! According to Lord Macaulay, Clive gave peace, security, prosperity and such liberty  to millions of Indians, who had for centuries been the prey of oppression. What we need to remember is that they still want to be arbiters of huge collective fates. The British populace thought then, as now,  that they always were and are angels. The colour of their political correctness is just  a surface mask. Wait for the next relatively small Indian mishap to be pounced upon by these disaster news vultures.

It is our tragedy as programmed mimic men that we think the same, and are eager for visas to the land of the angels that love us so bashingly.

Posted in Ideology | Leave a Comment »

Serendipity – How the Late Osho and Manasataramgini think alike :-)

Posted by desicontrarian on July 15, 2013

There was a cat who became all-knowing. She became famous among cats – so much so that she came to be looked upon as a tirthankara. The reason for her becoming all-knowing was that she found a way of sneaking into the library. She knew everything about this library. By everything I mean the means of entry to  and exit from the library, which set of books was most comfortable to snuggle against, which books gave warmth in the winter and which were cool in the summer, et cetera.

So the word went around among  the cats that if anybody wanted any knowledge about the library, the all-knowing cat could provide the answer. Naturally, there was no doubt about such a one who knew everything about the library being omniscient. This cat even had followers. But the fact remained that she knew nothing. All that she knew about  books was whether she could sit behind them comfortably, which books had cloth binding, which were warm, which were not etc. She had not the least idea of what was inside the book. How could a cat know what is inside a book?

There are such all-knowing cats among men too, who know how to shield themselves with books.

Osho – Kundalini Yoga

Is that some coincidence, or what? I’m salivating,  trying to guess the identity of the cat-among-men. Any pointers?

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 2 Comments »

The elephant in the room – problem with defenders of Hinduism

Posted by desicontrarian on July 3, 2013

As I went through Dr. Elst’s analysis of the Hindu defeat in the California Textbook controversy, I found myself welcoming the bitter medicine, while wondering if defenders of traditional Hindu POV can come out of the denial of reality.

The major problem is ignorance of own tradition, and unwillingness to correct this defect.  This problem is compounded by the sophistication of what is there to learn. It is akin to right away trying Quantum Physics, Chomskian Deep Structure Linguistics, and Genetics – without knowing basic building blocks of science, maths, theorems, proofs and so on. For example, most of us (English Medium Educated) do not know Sanskrit. Therefore we cannot read and understand sources, in the original. We depend on translations. The next wrinkle is the fact of Vedic Sanskrit, which is quite different from the Sanskrit that gets taught to normal students. So Vedic Sanskrit needs to be mastered! Already the mountain has become too big to trek.

An antipathy-filled Wendy Doniger, a Michael Witzel or their armies of followers work on mastering these things. And they occupy academic positions of power. Their interpretation of sources become the received truth where it matters. Their primary tool for this is philology and hostile or vulgar interpretation. Risa Lila is one such example of a battle lost, or at least not won. “Our side” does have a Srikanth Talageri, a Rajiv Malhotra, a Koenraad Elst, a Nicholas Kazanas, a Subhash Kak and so on, but they do not have comparable respect and influence where it matters. We also have plenty of self-goal scorers, who might be called amateurs in the game.

So when discussing AIT among ourselves, we almost always assume that it has been accepted universally as false. AIT continues to enjoy widespread acceptance in the ivory towers. We compound the problem by assuming that OIT has won! This is denial of reality. This denial syndrome has also manifested itself in the CAF case.

The primary philological problem is the deliberate ambiguity of sources. Look at the sophistication of semantic encodings in Sanskrit. We are looking at The Sun and The Moon! But we have cataract, and can’t really figure out their shapes. It is the multiple-semantics part that leads us astray and gives a handle to the hostile interpreters. Philology is the main weapon used by the Goliath called White Indology. In spite of contrary evidence from Genetics, Archaeology, Hydronomy, and satellite imagery of lost rivers, White Indology marches on with the same denigratory interpretations as before. The biggest problem is that the hostiles hold ideological and academic power, unlike in the case of Sinology, Jewish Studies, Christian or Islamic studies. This is what makes these repeated defeats likely.

A comprehensive  and brief argument against the AIT was given by Rajeev Chandran a long time ago, but it is not widely disseminated.

1. There is no archaeological attestation of aryan invasion/migration in spite of more than a hundred years of archaeological effort.
2. There is no traditional memory or mention of aryan invasion/migration/intrusion in any of all the diverse historical traditions of India.
3. There is no genetic trace of foreigners to attest to such a historical mixing. If at all Indian genotypes not only closer to each other but substantially more diverse and much older than European or middle eastern genotypes – therefore suggesting a reverse migration. After Africa the most ancient and diverse population happens to be that of India. In essence most other non-African people descended from prehistoric Indians.
4. Philology is a tool of uncertain provenance and its conclusions are highly debatable. Aryan invasion/migration are hypothesis emerging basically from philology – hence open to debate.
5. Development of historical theories on ancient India through more accurate means (archaeology & traditional history) rather than philology points to the indegenity and antiquity of Indians.
6. Self references in many ancient Indian texts points to indegenity of Indians in a time-scale far older than those proposed by Aryan Invasion theory.
7. In ancient Indian texts Arya means ‘noble of conduct and character’ rather than a race. If the oldest texts negate Aryan being a race – the idea of Aryan being a race of people can be traced to the rise of British imperialism and German nationalism – both historically discredited and defunct ideologies.
8. Geology (mapping of the old Saraswati), archeo-metallurgy (iron working in ancient india), archeo-agriculture (maize, rice farming) etc points to a far greater antiquity of ancient Indians (which does not agree with Aryan Invasion Theory).
9. Archeo-astronomy, archeo-mathematics, hydronomy (river names) seem to corraborate ancient indian texts on thier antiquity and claims of indigenity.
10. Study of ancient Indian history has been held hostage to various extraneous constraints notably – euro-centricism, communism, various kinds of religious and regional chauvinism, and hence must be discarded

Posted in Culture, History, Ideology | 1 Comment »

The banality of the great celebrities

Posted by desicontrarian on January 23, 2013

Shallow woman is chitchatting, I mean interviewing Sir Salanaam Rushwhere. Deepa Mayo is also chitting & chatting with them. (Aside: can I call it an interPhew!). Today’s episode the regular pogrom  The Suck Stops Nowhere.

Stimulating and enlightening discussion.

Shallow Woman(SW) : What’s your ideè (fixè) of India ?

Sir Salanaam Rushwhere(SR): Oh, you know, its not the same country as in “Midday meals’ Children”. Actually, its changed, I regret the bakwas I have to spout. You know this IOI business, Khilnani stole it and has made a career writing tomes about HIS Idea of India, this artificial nation. He never sent me an IOU on it.

SW: Why is the kitaab darker than the phillum? Lets see it ass-backwards – the phillum fair & lovelier than the pustak?

Sir SR: I am just more pissymystic than Mayo here, and that’s sayin’ a lot, heh heh.

SW: Do you still call your city Bombay? With the frigging elements re-christening it, do we liberal fringe elements enjoy the idea of Mum-Bai?  Those Bullies, Bums, Blistering Barnacles, Thundering Typhoons and Troglodytes.

Sir SR: Yes yes, the name reclaiming sister-sleepers haven’t changed in the last 60 yrs. Mum-Bai is a lot like Paaniwali Bai, and her secret names are Mumba Devi and  Mookambika. Always Mum, you know. As our PM Maun Mohan Singh says, she has the undying spirit to endure any number of train blasts, crowds and North Indians. No, my Bombay was there since the Beginning of Time, and Bombay it will be until the End Of.

SW: And Ms Mayo, when did your relationship with India change?

DM: Well, it was when they prevented my Other film “Ditch Water” from taking samples of it from India. Time was, when India allowed my spiritual Mother to travel all over India for her Drain Inspector’s Report.  Ah, those were the days, my friend! The father of the nation did not like it. I knew that NRIs would always drink bottled Bisleri water, but why not drink mine too? And I don’t like it when they call me an NRI.  What do I have to do to prove that I am an Indian, drink my own water? I am not Morarji Desai. As a child I was inspired by the golden song in the phillum Baiju Bawra where Rafi Saab cries “Ab tho Neer Bahaale”.  The Bhagwan in Stone actually shed water from his eyes, for God’s sake!  Maine bhi tab wohi kiya, neeche se. ab wohi kar raha hoon, phillum banaane se.

You see, my film  is actually about the pure-skinned heroine, who happens to be a Banarasi child widow. Other skins in that region turn dark brown, but she remains white. They are all Maili, just like the Ganga, but only on the surface, shallow woman!  Raj Kapoor always draped that colour around his heroines, hiding all the other 7 colours.  He wanted us to see and touch what was beneath the skin. Now Sir Salanaam may not drool over Zeenie Baby in RK movies, but a “Fire” Shabana, Draupadi or Sita would, provided they were gay enough. They are all victims of a society that the Whites left too early. Only we, the residues of the whites, know how to rescue the browns from brownness.  But they Other me, just because I live in Canada and make flying visits to my birth mother.

SW: And what does the Other child, Shiva, symbolise?

Sir SR: Hate speech, my dear, just like Varun Gandhi’s. Contrast this with the family that gets together in the end. Mary the central character, Saleem the Anarkali, Akbar, and Anthony without anyone named Amar. Like Joseph Anton, they are all well-adopted, if not well-healed. Dysfunctional like the modern American family, yet getting together for the sake of the IOI. Minorities, minorities, minorities!

SW: What was your favourite moment in the book. To me, it was the immortal “no culture that has the same name for yesterday and tomorrow can be said to have a firm grip on time”.

Sir SR: Yes yes, how my lovely nation time travels, past sliding into the present, I mean, get a grip, Bhaiyyas and bhanchods! Cast out Shiva, the Mahakal! He belongs on the streets!

Me: There are unknown knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns and well-known ignoramuses.

You know, there are some rather precise divisions of time in the Hindu Time Scale? It ranges from Paramāṇu (17 microseconds) to Mahā-Manvantara (311 million years). Mind, it includes the secularist time-scale as well (1947 – Present), how’s that for inclusiveness? Here’s a picture to gaze at.


















6 Prānas



60 vighatis



2 Ghatis



30 Muhurtas

Interested in the details? See here.

It is usually switch-off kaala when The Suck Starts There, but today it was appalling and funny at the same samay. Good night, buck-suckers!

Posted in Current Affairs | Leave a Comment »

The new British historical revisionism

Posted by desicontrarian on October 1, 2012

The ‘idea of India’ was a European not a local invention, as the name itself makes clear. No such term, or equivalent, as ‘India’ existed in any indigenous language. A Greek coinage, taken from the Indus river, it was so foreign to the subcontinent that as late as the 16th century, Europeans could define Indians simply as ‘the natives of all unknown countries’ and use it to describe the inhabitants of the Americas.\

Could it be because India is an English word ? It does seem to your humble self that until “Indian” languages could acquire this idea, they would struggle to complete the phrase Idea of India. This underdoggest of all cultures has been slowly overcoming its dim-wit handicap, thanks to the all-knowing scholars and master definers that the British Raj still emanates.

Gange cha Yamune chaiva  Godavari Saraswathi,

Narmada Sindhu Kaveri  Jale asmin sannidhim kuru

What does this hymn mean? Where does it come from? How old is it? A 64-karod rupee question, equal to a Bofors scam 🙂

Problems. (please have your tongue-in-cheek when some of these terms are used by an English educated Bhaiyya).

  1. It does not mean much, coming from a dead language(pdf) . However, a difficult linguistic-archaeology-level translation effort can be made.  “Hail! O ye Ganges, Jamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri, come and approach these waters.”
  2. Indians (unlike the north american red indians) have difficulty recollecting it, understanding it or resonating to it.  Bharatheeyas may be somewhat better. However, they do not matter, being remnants of a dead people, somewhat like Tasmanians, Yukis  and Herero (pdf) people.
  3. Are a refuse-of-the-dead people allowed to make up these hymns?

Aa sindho: sinduparyantham yasya bhaaratha bhoomikaa maathru bhoo: pithru
bhoo (punya) schaiva sa vai Hindu iti smruthaa:

whomsoever, is considering the land between the sapta sindu ( Indus valley river) upto Indian ocean as the motherland/ fatherland and holy land, is known as Hindu. This land is known as Hindustanam which is defined as

Himaalayam samaarabhya yaavath hindu sarovaram tham deva nirmitham desam hindustaanam prachakshate.

The land created by god himself and which is lying between Himalayas
Indian ocean is known as Hindustanam .

Liberal patronizers should allow it, it is as politically correct as a Pukka Saahib.

What is this nonsense about geographical, political, cultural and Dharmic unity? About the continuum in history?  Sorry, Perry Anderson (PA) Saahib will not allow it. Not based on the revered  Westphalian model. Let’s not have more of such nonsense. As Humpty Dumpty says – “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less”.

I understand that the North-East was never a part of “India”. I am enlightened now. The Mahabharata (MBH) misled me earlier, with fairy tales like Chitrangada , Naga kingdoms and Uloopi.

Sorry again, PA Saahib says that  it is ridiculous that

Mahabharata could be invoked as proof that the North-East Frontier Agency had been part of Mother India from time immemorial, rather as if the Nibelungenlied were to clinch German diplomatic claims to Morocco. Such notions have not gone away. The facts gainsay them.

Utter ignorance is my problem. What is this Nibelungenlied ? Even educated Indians don’t know it. It is as unknown to us dimwits as Peccavi. (The mists lift slowly though. It seems this a myth written in middle high german.) Oh, the paisa drops – he means that MBH is as unreliable as Nibung-watcha-ma-callit.

Still un-Westphalian, I gamely want to say that “North-East Frontier Agency” is his precise new term, while I am happy to rename it as  ishaanya Bhaaratam and thus grab it. Sigh, I see you shaking your head. Is it speculative to say  that Burma etymologically comes from Brahma Desham? Please don’t shake your head, I get the no-no signal. How about the clear asymmetry in the Germany-Morocco relation (separate continents) and the Bharatam – ishaanya Bharatam  relation (same subcontinent) ? Sorry again, we can’t forget Humpty Dumpty’s criteria, can we?

I am tired of learning this heavy-burden white man’s concept – The Idea of India. Let me move on.

Foreign conquerors were no novelty in the subcontinent, whose northern plains had known successive waves of invaders from the tenth century onwards. For many, the British were not necessarily more alien than previous rulers. The latest invaders would, of course, always require their own soldiers too. But if the British could gain and keep a firm grip on such a vast landmass, it was because they could count on its multiple fragmentations – ethnic, linguistic, dynastic, social, confessional.

In other words, it is fait accompli that matters. Invaders are ok. Aryans invaded Dravidians too, and Dravidians invaded Mundas. Invasion is the continuum. See, the British gave us railways, roads, urbanity, sewage systems,  telegraph, cutlery, table manners and above all, English. Why don’t we let them off the hook?

Let us move on. Saar, saar, gora lefty master above says that Gandhi basically saturated the freedom movement with Hindu-ness. His congress party had 97% hindus.  There was no secularity (new term for me), it was all Nehru’s fantasy. What else could un-religious, urbane, down-the-hatch whiskey secularist Jinnah do, but

  1. raise the separatist Muslim flag ,
  2. wait for the opportunity called the Quit India movement,
  3. offer his Muslim league support to the British war effort and thus fill his vote banks with more Muslim separatists?
  4. call for direct action day, “India divided or India destroyed” etc, when push cameto shove?

Very understandable. This cranky faddist called Gandhi with his suspect celibacy experiments, loin-cloth in Buckingham palace, fasting, enema, goat’s milk etc is such a hindu saturationist.  How such an inferior intellect in contrast to position paper writer Dr. Ambedkar, still gets to win the Poona pact is beyond reason. It has to be the Asiatic backwardness of the masses, as Karl Marx says.

Look how brilliantly the enlightened gora teacher deconstructs this so-called Mahatma for us.

  1. Gandhi called of the Satyagraha after Chauri Chaura because violence had been perpetrated by his followers. Yet he was a volunteer for the Boer war, the Zulu crushing, the inter-imperialist slaughter in WWI and so on. So he was not always the apostle of non-violence.
  2. He would tell compatriots: ‘We have to take the risk of violence to shake off the great calamity of slavery.’ And a few months later: ‘Supposing a non-violent struggle has been started at my behest and later on there is an outbreak of violence, I will put up with that too, because it is God who is inspiring me and things will shape as He wills. If He wants to destroy the world through violence using me as His instrument, how can I prevent it?’
  3. He was not a hypocrite when he did all this, but always thought of himself as a semi-divine vehicle escaping the trammels of human logic and reason. How can a million-strong nation follow him. Beyond reason, right? Asiatic backwardness.
  4.  Hind Swaraj, its battery of archaisms a stumbling-block to those who pointed out that he was using railways and doctors and not actually rejecting schools, he defended to the end, writing in 1945 that he still stood by its system of government. … Throughout his career in India, he claimed both to rise above consistency – growing ‘from truth to truth’.

We Indian dimwits get the point. He should have played by the rules of European reason  and ideological frameworks, not this Asiatic voodoo. He cannot possibly be inventing a new grammar of mass communication, can he?  Especially now that we are adequately educated, and have thoroughly internalized what left, right and centre are supposed to be. How could ever have been such Luddites, waxing about the vedas, sanatana dharma, the yamas and the niyamas of Patanjali, asses that our ancestors were?

So Satyagraha did not avoid checkmate by the Raj. At the round table conference he is confronted by demands for separate sikh, muslim and untouchable electorates. He saw off the Ambedkar challenge through emotional blackmail, but others were a different kettle of meat-eaters. Thank Heavens for Jinnah.

When I can get more educated about orientalism, I will try to see if this gora saahib from the left has in-the-box thinking limitations, and (dare I say it) help him to rise above it.

Update: A scholarly rebuttal by Ananya Vajpeyi. Money quote – “…an only half-embarrassed defence of British imperialism and its century of colonial rule on the Indian subcontinent”. I wish she could flush him out even more.

Posted in Ideology | 3 Comments »

The Primary Axiom of Science is Unscientific

Posted by desicontrarian on July 19, 2012

An out-of-body experience can be replicated in a lab by stimulating parts of the brain. A near-death experience—going through a tunnel with a light at the end—is just a trick of the brain. “We know exactly why it happens. In the visual cortex at the back of the brain, lots of cells are laid out towards the middle of the visual field. At the periphery there are very few cells and poor vision. When you come near death or take certain drugs like LSD or mescaline, the brain cells start firing very fast randomly. And that random noise looks like a white light in the middle where there are lots of cells, phasing out towards the dark of the periphery (which gives the illusion of a tunnel). As it gets brighter and stronger, the light appears to be coming towards you”.

So they say, the scientists.

If we are seeing white light because the middle cells in the visual cortex are firing rapidly, it means that these middle cells exist and not the white light, eh? The peripheral cells exist and therefore cause the tunnel vision, right? As laymen, we can’t empirically verify that this is what is happening. So we accept what the scientist says. Oh yes, we “know” that the neuro-scientist can replicate it by injecting drugs or electrodes into our brain, but again, we did not personally verify it, did we? It just became another belief, since scientists are the authority we accept. How different is it from scriptural acceptance?

What is happening with this neuro-scientific line of thinking? Basically, the brain exists as physical matter, the electrical/chemical energy activity causes experiences for the brain-owner to classify as Real Things, and therefore it is all a panorama of subtle physical matter/energy causing illusory phenomena. This is considered Objective Reality if a large no. of brain owners accept it.

The primary axiom is still that ONLY physical matter only exists, whether gross or subtle. This axiom is not falsifiable, and therefore unscientific. This axiom is never questioned for its lack of rigour.  This is similar to a 2-dimensional being unable to fathom that there are things happening in a higher dimension for which he has no access, even in thought.

An observer standing in the corner of a room has three directions naturally marked out for him; one is upwards along the line of meeting of the two walls; another is forwards where the floor meets one of the walls; a third is sideways where the floor meets the other wall. He can proceed to any part of the floor of the room by moving first the right distance along one wall, and then by turning at right angles and walking parallel to the other wall. He walks in this case first of all in the direction of one of the straight lines that meet in the corner of the floor, afterwards in the direction of the other. By going more or less in one direction or the other, he can reach any point on the floor, and any movement, however circuitous, can be resolved into simple movements in these two directions.

But by moving in these two directions he is unable to raise himself in the room. If he wished to touch a point in the ceiling, he would have to move in the direction of the line in which the two walls meet. There are three directions then, each at right angles to both the other, and entirely independent of one another. By moving in these three directions or combinations of them, it is possible to arrive at any point in a room. And if we suppose the straight lines which meet in the corner of the room to be prolonged indefinitely, it would be possible by moving in the direction of those three lines, to arrive at any point in space. Thus in space there are three independent directions, and only three; every other direction is compounded of these three. The question that comes before us then is this. “Why should there be three and only three directions?” Space, as we know it, is subject to a limitation.

In order to obtain an adequate conception of what this limitation is, it is necessary to first imagine beings existing in a space more limited than that in which we move. Thus we may conceive a being who has been throughout all the range of his experience confined to a single straight line. Such a being would know what it was to move to and fro, but no more. The whole of space would be to him but the extension in both directions of the straight line to an infinite distance. It is evident that two such creatures could never pass one another. We can conceive their coming out of the straight line and entering it again, but they having moved always in one straight line, would have no conception of any other direction of motion by which such a result could be effected. The only shape which could exist in a one-dimensional existence of this kind would be a finite straight line. There would be no difference in the shapes of figures; all that could exist would simply be longer or shorter straight lines.

Again, to go a step higher in the domain of a conceivable existence. Suppose a being confined to a plane superficies, and throughout all the range of its experience never to have moved up or down, but simply to have kept to this one plane. Suppose, that is, some figure, such as a circle or rectangle, to be endowed with the power of perception; such a being if it moves in the plane superficies in which it is drawn, will move in a multitude of directions; but, however varied they may seem to be, these directions will all be compounded of two, at right angles to each other. By no movement so long as the plane superficies remains perfectly horizontal, will this being move in the direction we call up and down. And it is important to notice that the plane would be different to a creature confined to it, from what it is to us. We think of a plane habitually as having an upper and a lower side, because it is only by the contact of solids that we realize a plane. But a creature which had been confined to a plane during its whole existence would have no idea of there being two sides to the plane he lived in. In a plane there is simply length and breadth. If a creature in it be supposed to know of an up or down he must already have gone out of the plane.

In normal states known to us, we have three separate things – The Known, The Knower and the Knowledge (Object, Subject, Process). In Yogic literature, it is said that when the separation vanishes (all 3 merge into one), the knowledge is Real and Complete. There are no mistakes of perception. This is called Turiya. A person who is really interested in knowing should strive to reach this state. Until then, he or she does not really know.

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 7 Comments »

Why Indians were colonized

Posted by desicontrarian on July 13, 2010

We would not have been so impotent if our country had understood Krishna rightly. But we have covered our ugliness with beautiful words. Our cowardice is hiding behind our talk of non-violence; our fear of death is disguised by our opposition to war. But war is not going to end because we refuse to go to war. Our refusal becomes an invitation to others to wage war on us. War will not disappear because we refuse to fight; our refusal will only result in our slavery. And this is what has actually happened.
It is so ironic that, despite our opposition to war, we have been dragged into war again and again. First we refused to fight, then some external power attacked and occupied our country and made us into slaves, and then we were made to join our masters’ armies and fight in our masters’ wars. Wars were continuously waged, and we were continuously dragged into them. Sometimes we fought as soldiers of the Huns, then as soldiers to the Turks and Moghals and finally as soldiers for the British. Instead of fighting for for our own life and liberty we fought for the sake of our alien rulers and oppressors. We really fought for the sake of our slavery; we fought to prolong our enslavement. We spilled our blood and gave our lives only to defend our bondage, to continue to live in servitude. This has been the painful consequence of all our opposition to violence and war.
Osho Rajneesh In “Krishna”
I have been enchanted by Osho’s writings for a long time. His lectures on Zen Buddhism attracted me first. No one explained the unexplainable as well as he did. The quality of freshness was there in his words, like morning dew on a newly blooming flower.

The way he weaves in stories, parables, jokes (vulgar or sophisticated) into his themes are absorbing. There is never a dull moment in the passages. The lectures are actually answers to questions asked by various people in gatherings. They have been recorded and transcribed later.

The inspired insight in passages like these,  feels like a great truth. It cannot be empirically validated, and proved. Nevertheless, I remembered this passage when reading this remarkable study by Anuraag Sanghi.

I used to believe that our Anglophilia and slavish mentality was a result of the Macaulayite Education System. It is true enough, but what caused us to succumb to it in such a wholesale manner – slavishness above and beyond the call of Macaulay 😦  ? What is the force that continues in our collective mind?

Many people have gone deeper into it and found causes in the recesses of our collective mind. The Saraswathi-like insights of   Ms. Bachelet comes to mind.  I do not find any one to compare in depth of root cause analysis on this question.

Yet I am undecided. As a fan of Bhagwan Buddha, I am uncomfortable with a rather strident and negative view of Him as the cause of this decline. Sometimes he is described as a Ruse of the Supreme in the line of 10 Avatars of Vishnu. Sometimes even as a Deluder – which actually describes  Maara in traditional Buddhism! These words are unfortunate, to say the least.  It seems to me that the idea of The Buddha as an opponent of Vedic Hinduism is at work here. I don’t agree with that view. I think that He  found that the Vedas were being ritualized, and Knowledge was becoming  fossilized  under the priesthood.  So any mention of the Vedic truths would have  been trapped in the same mind set.  Thus it was wise to refrain from commenting on the Vedas. He was never against the Higher Hinduism and the Doctrine of Atman. Shoonya Vaada and the Doctrine of Non-Self was an invention of the later Buddhists. This cannot be held against Him.

Posted in History, Ideology, Philosophy | 2 Comments »

Hindu and Greek/Roman Pantheons

Posted by desicontrarian on January 12, 2010

There are remarkable parallels between Hindu,  Greek and Roman Gods.

Some definitions are needed before we proceed.

At least in Vedantic Hinduism, there is only “The One”, Parabrahman. He is incorporeal, formless.  He wills to become Many, and so creates the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are aspects of Him. There is no difference between them, being the closest to Parabrahman. They represent Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution. They also represent the triune nature (triguNaatmaka) of everything, like

a) Positive, Negative and Neutral

b) Sattva(Goodness),  Rajas(Energy) and Tamas(Inertness)

c) Sat(Truth),  Chit(Conciousness), Ananda(Bliss)

d) Knowledge,  The Knower and The Known

e) Perception,  The Perceiver and the Object of perception and so on.

For example, when I taste a mango, I am the taster, the mango is the object of taste, and the tasting is the process. Similarly the other 4 senses.

There is also a division by Gender, so we have something called Prakruthi and Purusha. We also call it Brahma-Saraswathi, Shiva-Parvathi and Vishnu-Lakshmi.  Prakruthi is Change, Purusha is Changeless.

Out of these Primary Beings, come the Suras and the Asuras.  They are children of Prajapati Brahma by his two wives Adithi and Dithi. According to Shri Aurobindo, Adithi means Undivided Consciousness, Dithi means Divided Consciousness. (Aside:I find this statement enchanting. The origin of evil is explained here – divided consciousness. Of course, Vedantins actually say ignorance, not evil. In Europe and Christianity, the philosophers seem to be struggling with The Problem of Evil.)

Suras are what we call Gods in Greek terminology. Asuras are Demons.

We also have the 4 elements, Earth, Water, Fire and Air (These are NOT the elements of modern chemistry).  They are called Prithvi, Jala, Agni and Vaayu. The cosmic forces representing these are Agni, Varuna and Vayu.

Prithvi is the field of operation both for Suras and Asuras.  There is a 5th  element called Akaasha (Space or Ether).  These elements are more like states of matter in modern terminology.

Indra is the King of Gods. His equivalent in the Greek Pantheon(GP) is Zeus. Jupiter in the Roman Pantheon (RP).

VaruNa is the ruler of the sea.  Poseidon in GP.  Neptune in RP.

Yama is the lord of Death and the underworld.  Hades in GP.  Pluto in RP.

Manmatha is the God of Love.  Eros in GP.  Cupid in RP.

Saraswathi becomes Athena, the Goddess of wisdom. She is Minerva in RP.

Rathi (Manmatha’s consort) becomes Aphrodite in GP. Venus in RP.

Like Ganesha in Hindu pantheon(HP),  Apollo is the God of music and poetry in GP/RP.

Soma is moon and god of drink in HP.  Dionysius is the God of wine and ritual in GP.  Bacchus in RP.

Artemis is the Goddess of forests in GP. She is Diana in RP. She may be called Vanadevi in Hindu Pantheon.

Ares is the God of war in GP.  Mars in RP. He may be Skanda in HP, as well as Kuja, one of the Nava Grahas.

The Pleiades are 7 sisters, called the Kritthika constellation in Hindu astrology.

The more interesting parallels are in the epics.  Iliad is a Greek epic about the war between Greek kingdoms and Troy in Asia minor.  Helen, the wife of Menelaus, elopes with Paris, the junior prince of Troy.  Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon gather all warriors of the Greek kingdoms to avenge the insult.  It includes Ulysses and Achilles and they sail to Troy and wage war for 10 years.  They finally conquer Troy by means of a trick.

The parallels are not exact, but the loss of Seetha seems to be similar to the loss of Helen. Helen is also similar to Draupadi in beauty and the object of all men’s desire. The difference is that she is not chaste.

Achilles has an invulnerable body, except for his heel. As a a child, his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx to make all parts of his body immortal, except for the heels.  This reminds me of Gandhari making Duryodhana diamond-hard in all parts of the body except the thighs.  Achilles is gifted with great skills in sword-fight and archery.  He is born with a body-armour, like KarNa in Mahabharata. He is also unbeatable in battle, like Bheema or Arjuna.

Ulysses is the smartest and wisest of the Greeks. It is he who thinks of the Trojan Horse trick. He is also called Odysseus and there is another Greek epic Odyssey, which occurs during his return from the Trojan war. He is similar to KrishNa, as well as Shakuni!  When Achilles, following a dispute with Agamemnon, refuses to fight the war, Ulysses initiates an “embassy” to persuade Achilles to return. The attempt fails. Here there are parallels to KrishNa’s embassy with Duryodhana and KarNa’s refusal to fight the war under Bheeshma.

Take a look at the Greek pantheon’s family tree here!  As you can see,  many of these gods and goddesses are personifications of cosmic forces. The root God(dess) is Chaos.  This is similar to the Nasadiya Suktam in the Rg Veda.

The gods are also metaphors for concepts,  like fate,  death,  love, sleep, wisdom etc.   Studies of parallels can be endless, and they show that the ancient cultures had a lot in common.  They were not isolated from each other, rising and falling on disconnected lands and times.

Posted in Culture | Leave a Comment »

Interpreting a phenomenon

Posted by desicontrarian on October 8, 2009


The second dancer is now gazing intently in a small hand mirror at the entrance of the hut, identifying himself with the goddess. As I watch, the dancer stamps his feet, ringing the bells and cowrie shells on his anklets. He stamps again, loudly and more abruptly. Then he jerks his body suddenly to one side, as if hit by a current of electricity, before stretching out his hands and sinking into a strange crouching position. His body is quivering, his hands shaking and his eyes are flicking from side to side. The figure who had been still and silently staring only seconds earlier is now transformed, twisting his head in a strangely eerie series of movements that is part tropical fish, part stinging insect, part reptile, part bird of paradise. Then he is gone, bounding out into the clearing, under the stars, closely followed by two attendants, both holding burning splints.



“It’s only during the Theyyam season—from December to February. We give up our jobs and become Theyyam artists. For those months we become gods. Everything changes. We never eat meat or fish and are forbidden to sleep with our wives. We bring blessings to the village and the villagers, and exorcise evil spirits. We are the vehicle through which people can thank the gods for fulfilling their prayers and granting their wishes. Though we are all Dalits (untouchables) even the most bigoted and casteist Namboodiri Brahmins worship us, and queue up to touch our feet.”



As late as the early years of the 20th century, lower-caste tenants were still regularly being murdered by their Nayar landlords for failing to present sweets as tokens of their submission. Today people are rarely murdered for violations of caste restrictions—except sometimes in the case of unauthorised cross-caste love affairs—but in the presence of persons of the upper castes, Dalits are still expected to bow their heads and stand at a respectful distance.

These inequalities are the fertile soil from which Theyyam grew, and the dance form has always been a conscious and ritualised inversion of the usual structures of Keralan life: for it is not the pure and sanctified Brahmins into which the gods choose to incarnate, but the shunned and insulted Dalits. The entire system is free from Brahmin control. The Theyyams take place not in Brahminical temples, but small shrines in the holy places and sacred groves of the countryside, and the priests are not Brahmin but Dalit.



Two priests, stripped to the waist, approached her, head bowed, with a bowl of toddy, which she drank in a single gulp. It was as she was drinking that the drums reached a new climax and suddenly a second deity appeared, leaping into the open space of the clearing with a crown of seven red cobra heads, to which were attached two huge round earrings. A silver applique chakra was stuck in the middle of his forehead, and round his waist was a wide grass busk, as if an Elizabethan couturier had somehow been marooned on some forgotten jungle island and been forced to reproduce the fashions of the Virgin Queen’s court from local materials. His wrists were encircled with bracelets of palm spines and Exora flowers. It was only after a minute that I realised it was Hari Das.

He was unrecognisable from before. His eyes were wide, charged and staring, and his whole personality seemed to have been transformed. The calm, slightly earnest and thoughtful man I knew from my different meetings was now changed into a frenzied divine athlete. He made a series of spectacular leaps in the air as he circled the kavu, twirling and dancing, spraying the crowd with showers of rice offerings.

After several rounds in this manner, the tempo of the drums slowly lowered. As Chamundi took her seat on a throne at one side of the main entrance to the shrine, still twitching uneasily, the Vishnumurti theyyam approached the ranks of devotees, in a choreographed walk, part strut, part dance. All of the devotees and pilgrims had now respectfully risen from their seats and from the ground, and were now standing with heads bowed before the deity.

In one hand the Vishnumurti now held a bow and a quiver of arrows; in the other a sword. These he used to bless the devotees, who bowed their heads as he approached. With the blade of the sword he touched the outstretched hands of some of the crowd: “All will be well!” he intoned in a deep voice in Malayalam. “All the darkness will go! The gods will look after you!” Between these encouraging phrases in the local dialect, he muttered a series of Sanskrit mantras and incantations. The personality of the deity was quite distinct from that of Chamundi—as benign and reassuring as the latter was disturbing and potentially dangerous, even psychotic.

The deity now returned to the shrine, and taking a throne, looked on as the various priests and attendants now prostrated themselves before him, each offering a drink of toddy. Like Chamundi, Vishnumurti drank the offering in a single gulp. This was the signal for the spiritual surgery to begin and the devotees to queue up, and to approach the deities for individual advice and blessing.

After an hour or so of this, the queues began to dwindle, and the drums struck up again. Such was the reassuring calm of the gods’ surgery that nothing prepared me for what followed. As the tempo rose, the attendants handed both deities coconuts which they took over to a sacrificial altar and threw down with such force that the coconut exploded.

Then the gods were handed huge cleavers. From one side a pair of squawking chickens were produced. Both were held by the feet and were flapping frantically. Another attendant appeared, holding an offering of rice on a palm-leaf plate. Seconds later, the cleaver descended and the chickens were both beheaded. The head of each was thrown away and blood gushed out in a great jet on to the rice. Then, as the drums climaxed, both deities lifted the flapping carcasses up to their faces, blood still haemorrhaging over the costumes and head-dresses. Together, Chamundi and Vishnumurti placed the severed neck of each chicken in their mouth, drinking deeply. Only then did they put the carcass down, on to its feet, so that the headless chicken ran off, scrabbling and flapping as if still alive. Only after another full minute had passed did the chickens pitch over and come to rest at the edge of the crowd.

How one interprets and describes phenomena depends on one’s belief system.

The modern human being has a belief system. It is called Reason. This system is based on the belief that all things experienced by the 5 senses really exist. And that things not perceived by the 5 senses and the mind do not exist.

Science basically operates on this paradigm. Thus the scientist

  1. Observes a phenomenon
  2. Gathers sense data about the phenomenon.
  3. Forms hypothesis, theory or a model of the phenomenon. (S)he may either describe it in these terms or form hypothesis about the causes.
  4. Tests the hypothesis with more sense data of the type observed and gathered, varying the controlling conditions in a measured manner.
  5. Proves that the hypothesis/theory holds for a set of data and conditions.
  6. Gets/allows other people to also repeat the tests and validate the hypothesis.

A diligent, admirable and overwhelmingly successful method no doubt. This is an iron-clad, closed-loop system. Does it have limitations?

Science forgets, disregards or minimizes the following fact. All data about phenomena are sensory inputs experienced by the perceiver. Any perceiver with X number of senses and the step-by-step, sequential reasoning mentality – will tend to experience and think about the phenomenon in question in broadly the same way. It is a highly left-brain oriented thinking style.

Imagine a remote planet where human-like beings exist.  The only thing lacking in them is the sense of sight. They are all blind. Thus shapes, colours, forms, changes of state of these properties etc cannot be perceived. They do not see clouds, the blue sky, the far-away stars, birds flying silently in the sky, distant blue seas, lush green forests and so on. Undoubtedly a greatly diminished life, compared to people like us.

Now, if one or two of them acquire eyes somehow, a whole new world opens up. They start experiencing and describing things that seem incredible to other people. Thye may be considered to have too much imagination, or even mad. They may eventually be persecuted or thrown out of the human community.

The history of science itself has plenty of these happenings. Until radio waves were discovered, Science did not know of its existence, though radio waves have existed for all time. This example extends to x-rays, gamma radiation and many other phenomena discovered at some point in time.

If due to some future catastrophes, suddenly the faculty of colour is lost, then Science will gradually start to deny the existence of colour. If people with long memories, or memories of their ancestors’ tales, talk about these things, they will be considered superstitious.

Another way of looking at it is as a dream. Everything that happens in a dream is unreal outside that dream, but real inside it! The community of scientists and reasoning members can also be considered to be in a collective dream, experimenting, verifying, validating and reinforcing each others’ experiences and belief systems!

Observing, describing and interpreting phenomena like the Theyyam dance, is also an activity dependent on an ideology described earlier, the ideology of Science and Reason. Things will seem bizarre, meaningless, dangerous and barbaric. One cannot begin to understand the ideology that gives rise to these rituals. It induces a remoteness, a separation, a disbelief, and a superiority complex in the modern observer.

Can there be an ideology that gave rise to these rituals? Do they have another kind of logic? If one has a philosophically open mind, one can allow for other ways of knowing and experiencing.

In a book called “Pleasure Cults of India”, Mr. P. Thomas surveys this area from the point of view of Hindu Cosmology. In this belief system the human being is not merely the body. Behind the body is a subtle body, consisting of thoughts, feelings and mental states. Behind it is a causal body, where these things are in a latent form.

External worlds are also many. Our 3-dimensional, physical world is one of many worlds that exist in the Universe. Other types of beings inhabit other worlds. There are worlds “below” and worlds “above” our world.  These may not be accessible to our 3-dimensional perception.

Hindu cosmology identifies 14 such worlds, 7 below and 6 above. These are called Hells and Heavens. Buddhism has a similar scheme, though the names are different. The 7 hells are Atala, Vitala, Rasatala, Talatala and Patala. The 6 heavens are Bhuvarloka, Swarloka, Mahaloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka.

Beings may move from one world to another through trans-migration and reincarnation, driven there by desires and previous actions. Each world has beings having various shapes, faculties, powers and tendencies. There are Devas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Apsaras in the upper worlds. There are Asuras, Daithyas, Danavas, Rakshasas etc in the lower worlds.

There are Yakshas and Yakshis who may live in trees in Bhuloka (Earth). There is a special class of beings called Bhoothas, Prethas and Pischachas. These beings inhabit the earth, but without a physical body. This can happen if their “soul journey” after death was interrupted due to some reason, like strong attachment to earthly pleasures – eating, sex, drink etc. These beings are in a difficult state. They have strong, overwhelming desires, but no physical body to fulfill those desires. So they try to possess or enter the body of a human, in order to enjoy their desires.

For the unfortunate human owners of the physical body, this is a like a major mental disease. The possession has to be exorcised. This is the context in which exorcism was born and is practiced. It has its own rules which appear to outsiders as rituals. It has its doctors and sorcerers.  Traditions like the Theyyam dance have their origin, place and operation in this belief system.

Ghosts can inhabit the lonely places where recently they had died as human beings. They may have been murdered, died in accidents, committed suicide etc. They have some unlived life which they crave. So an exorcist tries to find out the character of these ghosts. What kind of people had such mishaps, what their unfulfilled desires and fears were, what attracts them, what repels them etc. Using such data, the exorcist will try to entice, cajole, threaten or drive out these possessions.

There is a popular belief in Kerala in a spirit called Kutti Chatthan. He holds a sword in his right hand and rides on a buffalo. He has a shrine in Avangode, where people afflicted by his activities visit. A sudden death, drowning of children, fire, dementia are attributed to him. Rattling of crockery in a room with no crockery, appearance of filth in kitchen edibles etc are common symptoms of his presence.

These belief-cum-knowledge systems may be true, partially true etc. The degree of truth of these cannot be properly judged by unsympathetic outsiders. As in any system, there may be exploiters, quacks, charlatans, opportunists and half-knowledge practitioners. The system may have been of high quality in the past, and ignorance may have crept in, decaying the knowledge. It can happen to modern medicine one day. These possibilities must be acknowledged. Then one can observe the system from a sympathetic point of view, and get insight into the minds that accept and practice the rituals.

Looking at it from the point of view of caste equations, standards of barbarity or primitivism, will usually produce the interpretation characteristic of Modern Reason. A primitive, ignorant, backward society that needs to be taken out of this state – nudged, pushed, thrust or forced into the Rational System of Belief. In some cases, it is like the power-wielding community of the blind humans pushing the seeing humans to denying their sight faculty. Contempt, antipathy, patronization etc create barriers to emotional understanding of the observed phenomena, its actors and society. It also perpetuates the invisible point of view and ideology of the observer. Broad-minded people need to acknowledge that this is possible.

“There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy”.

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