Religion is not for the weak” – Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda (Photo credit: On Being)

“Religion is not for the weak” – Swami Vivekananda

via Atanu Dey on India‘s Development

An article on Swami Vivekananda in the Wall Street Journal of 30th March titled, “What Did J.D. Salinger, Leo Tolstoy, and Sarah Bernhardt Have in Common?”

makes for delightful reading. What they had in common was their devotion to Swami Vivekananda, the man who introduced Vedanta and yoga to America.

I did not know that. But anyway, it’s the sort of positive article about a Hindu monk that would give conniptions to the leftist “secular intellectuals” in India.

But the Wall Street Journal does not suffer from the knee-jerk negative reflex of the main stream English language media in India;

the latter would recoil with horror at the mere thought of publishing a laudatory piece about a proud Hindu. Wouldn’t that be tantamount to endorsing — horror of horrors — Hindutva?

Yoga is popular in the US and in many non-Muslim parts of the world. Why it is not popular in the Islamic world is interesting (and more about that later.) An excerpt from the WSJ article:

Although all but forgotten by America’s 20 million would-be yoginis, clad in their finest Lululemon, Vivekananda was the Bengali monk who introduced the word “yoga” into the national conversation.

In 1893, outfitted in a red, flowing turban and yellow robes belted by a scarlet sash, he had delivered a show-stopping speech in Chicago.

The event was the tony Parliament of Religions, which had been convened as a spiritual complement to the World’s Fair, showcasing the industrial and technological achievements of the age.

On its opening day, September 11, Vivekananda, who appeared to be meditating onstage, was summoned to speak and did so without notes.

“Sisters and Brothers of America,” he began, in a sonorous voice tinged with “a delightful slight Irish brogue,” according to one listener, attributable to his Trinity College–educated professor in India. “It fills my heart with joy unspeakable…”

Then something unprecedented happened, presaging the phenomenon decades later that greeted the Beatles (one of whom, George Harrison, would become a lifelong Vivekananda devotee).

The previously sedate crowd of 4,000-plus attendees rose to their feet and wildly cheered the visiting monk, who, having never before addressed a large gathering, was as shocked as his audience. “I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world,” he responded, flushed with emotion.

“I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.”

I feel a kinship to Swami Vivekananda–which arises not merely from my being a Bengali and a Hindu like he was. It’s more of an intellectual kinship that transcends space and time.

Swami ji had the power to move people spiritually and emotionally. I knew that George Harrison was influenced by Indian thought but I did not know that the path lay through Vivekananda:

“No doubt the vast majority of those present hardly knew why they had been so powerfully moved,” Christopher Isherwood wrote a half century later, surmising that a “strange kind of subconscious telepathy” had infected the hall, beginning with Vivekananda’s first words, which have resonated, for some, long after.

Asked about the origins of “My Sweet Lord,” George Harrison replied that “the song really came from Swami Vivekananda, who said, ‘If there is a God, we must see him. And if there is a soul, we must perceive it.’ ”

The teachings of Vedanta are rooted in the Vedas, ancient scriptures going back several thousand years that also inform Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

The Vedic texts of the Upanishads enshrine a core belief that God is within and without—that the divine is everywhere.

The Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) is another sacred text or gospel, whereas Hinduism is actually a coinage popularized by Vivekananda to describe a faith of diverse and myriad beliefs.

Vivekananda’s genius was to simplify Vedantic thought to a few accessible teachings that Westerners found irresistible. God was not the capricious tyrant in the heavens avowed by Bible-thumpers, but rather a power that resided in the human heart.

“Each soul is potentially divine,” he promised. “The goal is to manifest that divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal.” And to close the deal for the fence-sitters, he punched up Vedanta’s embrace of other faiths and their prophets.

Christ and Buddha were incarnations of the divine, he said, no less than Krishna and his own teacher, Ramakrishna.

Swami Vivekananda was valued for what he represented — Indian thought — and recognized by some of the brightest minds in America. One of them was Nicola Tesla. A few years ago I came across a wonderful documentary on Tesla. (I will dig up the reference later.) There I got to know that Swami Vivekananda and Tesla had met.

[Sahah] Bernhardt, in fact, introduced him to the electromagnetic scientist Nikola Tesla, who was struck by Vivekananda’s knowledge of physics. Both recognized they had been pondering the same thesis on energy—in different languages.

Vivekanand was keenly interested in the science supporting meditation, and Tesla would cite the monk’s contributions in his pioneering research of electricity. “Mr. Tesla was charmed to hear about the Vedantic prana and akasha and the kalpas [time],”

Vivekananda wrote to a friend. “He thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter are reducible to potential energy. I am to go to see him next week to get this mathematical demonstration. In that case Vedantic cosmology will be placed on the surest of foundations.” For the monk from Calcutta, there were no inconsistencies between science, evolution and religious belief.

Faith, he wrote, must be based upon direct experience, not religious platitudes.

As I said before, the WSJ piece is quite delightful. But I have one tiny disagreement. It is this:

Vivekananda’s influence bloomed well into the mid-20th century, infusing the work of Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Jung, George Santayana, Jane Addams, Joseph Campbell and Henry Miller, among assorted luminaries.

And then he seemed to go into eclipse in the West. American baby boomers—more disposed to “doing” than “being”—have opted for “hot yoga” classes over meditation.

At some point, perhaps in the 1980s, an ancient, profoundly antimaterialist teaching had morphed into a fitness cult with expensive accessories.

The claim that Vivekananda “infusing the work of Mahatma Gandhi” is untenable. Swami Vivekananda exhorted people to be strong, while Gandhi’s call to Indians (and anyone else who would care to listen) was passivity and resignation. Gandhi told people to surrender passively in the face of evil. India has indeed followed Gandhi’s path and rejected Swamiji’s. Examples of that would fill volumes but let me just point out one simple instance.

Auranzeb was one of the many tyrannical rulers of India who slaughtered Indians wholesale. One of the major thoroughfares of the capital of India prominently bears his name.

One can understand that Pakistan celebrates those who invaded and subjugated India but it is absolutely puzzling to see India do so. Why?

The answer must be because Indians are weak. I believe that the day that Indians throw off the yoke of subjugation will be the day that India embarks on the path to emancipation and freedom.

Weak people don’t have the freedom to take what is best and what is good for them. Instead they are forced to take whatever is least threatening to their overlords.

The English language main stream media of India is what it is because it is filled with weak people doing what they are allowed to do by the neo-colonial rulers of India. An article praising Swami Vivekananda would be unthinkable in the Indian MSM.

Imagine if Vedanta and yoga were to be introduced as part of the curriculum in Indian schools. You bet there would be howls of protests from all corners of India.

Vedanta and yoga — what Swamiji meant by the word “religion” — are not for the weak. The intellectuals and seekers of the West who came in contact with Vivekananda and the message he embodied were strong. They freely drank deep from the well of Indian wisdom.

. . . Christopher Isherwood and his friend Aldous Huxley, who wrote the introduction to the 1942 English-language edition of “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna,” a firsthand account (originally published in India in 1898) described by Huxley as “the most profound and subtle utterances about the nature of Ultimate Reality.” Nikhilananda, Salinger’s guru, did the translation, with assistance from Huxley, Joseph Campbell and Margaret Wilson, the daughter of the late president.

Huxley and Isherwood were introduced to Vedanta in the Hollywood Hills in the late 1930s by their countryman, the writer Gerald Heard. In a fitting counterpart to the New York Center, the Hollywood Vedanta society was likewise run by a scholarly and charismatic monk, Prabhavananda, who initiated the English trio of writers.

Like Nikhilananda, Prabhavananda was a magnet for the intelligentsia, and his lectures often attracted the likes of Igor Stravinsky, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and W. Somerset Maugham (and led to his writing “The Razor’s Edge”). Inspired by Isherwood—who briefly lived at the center as a monk—Greta Garbo asked if she too might move in. Told that a monastery accepts only men, Garbo became testy. “That doesn’t matter!” she thumped. “I’ll put on trousers.”

Henry Miller, who made headlines with his torrid and banned “Tropic of Cancer,” visited with Prabhavananda at the Hollywood center, devoured a small library of Vedanta books and settled down in Big Sur in 1944. Throughout his memoir, “The Air Conditioned Nightmare,” Miller invokes Vivekananda as the great sage of the modern age and the consummate messenger to rescue the West from spiritual bankruptcy.

The supreme irony is that India itself needs rescuing from spiritual bankruptcy — all the while when India itself has the world’s largest stock of spiritual capital safely locked away. As they say in Hindi, दिये के नीचे अँधेरा (“it’s dark right under the lamp”.) Perhaps centuries of slavery has robbed Indians of the discriminating faculty and the intelligence to recognize true wealth and wisdom.

Isherwood’s commitment to Vedanta, like Salinger’s, was unswerving and lifelong. Over the next 20 years, he co-translated with Prabhavananda the Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali’s “Yoga Aphorisms” and Shankara’s “Crest Jewel of Discrimination,” and was the author of several books and tracts on Vivekananda and Ramakrishna.

Alright, I have quoted enough from the WSJ piece. It’s a fairly long piece and I recommend it in its entirety. Here’s one last bit from it.

India has scheduled a yearlong party to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Vivekananda’s birth, beginning on January 12, 2013. There will be plenty of readings of his four texts on yoga as a spiritual discipline. Nine volumes chronicle his talks, writings and ruminations, from screeds against child marriage to Milton’s “Paradise Lost” to his pet goats and ducks. But if there were a single takeaway line that boils down his teachings to one spiritual bullet point, it would be “You are not your body.” This might be bad news for the yoga-mat crowd. The good news for beleaguered souls like Salinger was Vivekananda’s corollary: “You are not your mind.”

[Read more on Swami Vivekananda in this blog.]

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Beauty of Vedic Math

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888…

Shahrukh Khan and VIP Syndrome

latest updates from

Shahrukh Khan and VIP Syndrome
Apr 19, 2012 09:49 am | Agniveer

This special feature is written by Shri Joginder Singh, IPS, ex-CBI Director, India. We are touched by his mail where he reiterated his desire to have the “truth out”.

Funny is the word which aptly fits the antics and tantrums the Government of India, throws, on trivialities. A film actor, was detained at New York airport sometimes back and this time in April, 2012, at an airport close to New York.. The Government has called the film artist a VIP, who according to it, literally should have the run of any country. I thought I should look up as to what the VIP as in the Indian senses stands for. I found the following interesting interpretations of the word;

Very Important Person

Visually Impaired Person

Value Improving Practice

Very Impatient Person

Verification Integration Plan

Very Idiotic Person

Vanity Is Perfection

Vulnerable Infants Program

Video Instructional Program

Very Intelligent Person

(We are not sure in which of the above VIP categories does this film actor fit. But definitely it is not the first and the last…Editors)
 A film artist waiting for 75 minutes, at the airport, for his clearance, and it appeared to the Government of India, as if Heaven had fallen. Incidentally, neither his work, nor his job exposes him to any security threat or any danger to his life. Suddenly, how a person working in film industry becomes a VVVVVIP, when there are umpteen number of businessmen, industrialists, builders or civil servants doing much more important work?

How has he suddenly become a VIP in the eyes of the Government of India, which has gone overboard to take up his case of some 75 minutes delay for entry into USA?

Where ever I have gone abroad, I have scrupulously avoided going even near the Indian Embassy, because the impression, with a few exceptions, all Embassies give is that if you have any problem, solve yourself or go to hell on your own.

Except for an unhelpful and rarely helpful receptionist, you cannot get past him or her to see or speak to somebody higher in the hierarchy in the missions.

Incidentally, when you go to other countries, you have to follow their procedures. Has any body ever checked as to how long it takes to enter our country, even with a valid visa and how long it takes Indians on Indian Passport to clear all the formalities, even in India?

Why are we paranoid about the position we hold? In this Government is guilty of pampering the film artist.

To show that the person in question is an International Celebrity is a travesty of the facts. He may be known in India or where Indian Population lives. But if I were to ask, anybody as to who is the top Hero or Heroine Of USA or UK or France, or Pakistan, or Sri Lanka or Malaysia or Thailand, or of other countries, answer would be a fumble or I do not know.

Every country is free to adopt any system to safeguard its security, and if it does not suit anybody, he or she need not visit those States or Nations. The External Affairs Ministry has patted its back, that its officials got him cleared in 75 Minutes!

It is a shame, that Indian Authorities, would go to this extent to help a film artist, where as I am aware of the facts, how Indians abroad are harassed abroad by the same missions. In one case, an Indian in Canada, who wanted to visit India, to see his ailing mother was denied visa, despite my pointing it to the External Affairs Minister.

What point is the Ministry trying to prove is not clear? Does it want to convey that it takes up the causes of every Indian or of a select group or community or religion?

It appears that instead of serving all the Indians, Indian Missions are out only to rescue a select group or type of people.

What is wrong, if before the entry to USA, its officials wish to verify the credentials of the visitors or people going out? I myself have faced this problem in our own country, as name Joginder Singh is Common to all types of criminals including terrorists or wanted people. I have patiently waited till I am cleared.

If the name of the film artist is similar to any terrorists, it is natural for the USA to have verified it. It is because, of the stringent security measures, that USA has not allowed, any terrorist incident to take place, in that country, after 9/11. On the contrary, terrorists have struck at will, in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bangalore and many other places, because of either no policy or policy of willing to strike but afraid to wound.

It was decent of USA to have apologized, for any inconvenience caused, to the film artist. But it was not really called for, nor is justified, as a courtesy.

USA has denied religious profiling. Even if it was done, there is nothing wrong with it, as most of the terrorist attacks are led by the Muslims.

(As a matter of fact 29 out of 30 Most Wanted Terrorists by FBI and all of Most Wanted 50 Terrorists of India are Muslims. All terrorists listed in Reward for Justice program of USA (around 50) are Muslims. They are not merely Muslims, but those who claim that they are indulging in such acts as per inspiration of their Holy Book and to establish their religion as only religion of world….Editors)

I have seen in the Middle East Muslim countries, very carefully scrutinizing the entrants to their country from Pakistan, for the same reason. It is as much the Right of USA as of India, to regulate the entry of anybody to their country, whether it suits somebody or not.

When in Commerce Ministry, the Secretary of the Ministry had his tale of woe, while leaving India. He told me that every time, he went abroad, he was questioned and his antecedents checked. So to ward off, any such contingency he would write clearly, on the departure and arrival form, as Avtar Singh Gill, IAS, Secretary Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. He said that he had to do as a number of Sikh Terrorists had the name of Avtar Singh.

Sometimes we have to pay for the sins of our namesakes, and best is to bear and grin, as George Fernandez and Former President APJ Kalam did. If India is slack in controlling the ingress of the terrorists, as the numerous attacks by them have shown, , as well as by Maoists and Naxalites shown, why should we expect USA to follow, what we are doing or not doing. We should not try to appease any body as Churchil rightly said; “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile —- hoping it will eat him last”.

I can only say that Government should introspect and assess, whether it was worth it to make so much fuss, on a Non VIP and a film artist, who speaks the lines written and thought of by others.

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Are you Gujju ?


1. You have an uncle who tells you his contact number is chaar so be ogan syt ekaavan – 4025951
2. Every autowala, taxiwala, grocerywala is our kaka.
3. We never go to office, we go to HOFFIS!
4. The first rule of money – never use your own!
5. “Su nava juni” is our version of wassup?
6. be it seven in the morning or 1 am, ganthiya is always welcome.
7. We are all a fan of Dakshaben aka Ketaki Dave‘s “Ararararara….”
8. We keep an “ELARAM” to wake up in the morning
9. No party is over without a round of GARBA
10. We all love golas, but ice creams have a special place in our hearts (and in our fridges as well)
11. We call all types of noodles “Meggi”!!!
12. We someone asks about a person, we say GENTLEMAN MANAS 6!
13. “Shaanti rakh ne loi peeno!” is our best possible slang
14. We don’t know any place in the workd called Delhi, apde to bas DILLI aj javanu!
15. We have a PhD in bargaining by birth..
16. We can speak any language of the world in Gujarati!
17. We don’t have feelings, we have FILLINGS!!!
18. Jai Shri Krishan = Hello and Aavjo = Good bye
19. Generally our conversations begin with kem 6, maja ma ne, and end with, koi saaru investment batavo ne…
20. We shout our voice out on international calls, thinking they can hear us better that way
21. A gujju would have business on his mind from the time he turns 18 – bahu badha paisa kamavana 6…
22. Swimming is not for us – we call it chhabchhabiya.
23. For us electricity never goes – only light does!!!!
24. We don’t call people, we COAL them
25. Next time someone irritates you, you say TEL PEEVA JA
26. Sensex interests us more than anything else.
27. Chhas is our beer!
28. We are everywhere, all over the globe – deal with it…
29. We go to movie HOLE and take outside SNAKES for refreshments
30. Ideal gujju mom’s phone book’s last page has – agarwal modiwado,
ajanta hotel (sunday saat vagya laginej order le 6e), gupta chikki,
jyotsanaben nu tiffin, gas book maate, kaaki ni kaamvaari, patel
gadlawado, madhuben – mahila mandal, maro mobile number…
31. Towel = tooval
32. Every gujju will introduce their spouse as aa mara mr 6, ne aa mari mrs 6…
33. Mount abu is switzerland
34. Mihir virani is our charlie sheen
35. Exam aave 6, beta notes JEROX karavanu bhoolto nai…
36. If a gujju starts coffee with karan, he would name it as “chhas with chhagan”
37. Boomer is not chewing gum, it is chiggum.
38. A true gujju looks forward to eat thai, mexican, italian, chinese and undhiyu at the cousin’s wedding…
39. If u r a true gujju then your phone will have atleast ten contacts ending in the word BHAI.
40. If u dnt like jalebi-fafda, u r nt a true gujju.
41. Being punjabi means more chapati, less rice; being mallu means
less chapati, more rice. Being gujju – just eat more yaar, shu farak
pade 6.
42. Gujjus believe Narendra Modi is the solution for everything – from hair style to nation’s progress
43. Vile Parle and NEw Jersey feels like home – Apduj 6…
44. We will spend 1000 rupees for a 10 rupees free gifts, free ma male, etle maja aavi jai
45. We eat home made theplas with chhundo and athanu in business class flight
46. We can do garba on any song in the world
47. Falguni Pathak is britney spears for us
48. After having chaat, bhelpuri, sevpuri, we make sure we ask for extra puri, and then discount
49. Order soup 1/2, u get more quantity – be smart
50. If its beg, edible and free, go on dude, eat it…
51. Bombay+Gujarat+London+ America = whole world, nothing else exists for us
52. Everyone is invited to a gujju home for lunch, and fed lyk u hv come from the groom’s side.
53. If all of a sudden u hear a dhoom machale ringtone or a loud
scream or a loud chit chat amongst a group, immediately assume that you
are amidst gujjus
54. Hindi humko jara b nahi faata hai
55. 15 or 50, ur parents will always refer to u as their baby or babo
56. Gujjus dnt knw wht chocolate is, they only knw CATBURY
57. If u dnt watch tarak mehta ka oolta chashmah u r nt a gujju yaar
58. Ultimate gujju gift – a ‘cover’ (envelope) with 500+1 in it
59. We tk constitution very seriously, everybody is called bhai and ben
61. If u do not go for navratri, u dnt exist
62. Mango is not our national fruit only kesar n haphus is
63. Dnt b disheartened if u dnt make it to a top B-school, if u r a gujju, thn business is in ur blood
64. We all own Reliance… (No further comments or xplanations needed!)
65. U find something gud n say “BAHU FINE 6!”
66. ‘Pope’ Music mast hoy 6
67. We can talk about share markets, anywhere, anytime, no problem
68. U xpect a discount at dollar store if u r a gujju
69. U consider spongebob as dhokla, u r gujju
70. Dandiya is our prom
71. Packing according to a 5 night 6 day holiday whn going for a one day picnic
72. Time spent at a party – dancing (10 minutes), chitchat (10 minutes), dinner (100 minutes)
73. ‘Sanedo‘ is our Dance Anthem, if you are not on the dance floor when it plays, you are not a Gujju.

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