Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sanskrit in the Mottos of some popular organizations

Thanks to the prevailing "secular" atmosphere in the country, there was a huge hue and cry in the media about the recent ruling of Allahbad High Court on Gita as a national dharm granth. Secularism has now become equal to the negation of any kind of religious symbolism. So I did a small search of the Mottos of various organization in India. Surprisingly many of the Mottos, including that of our Indian State itself (Satyameva Jayate) are in Sanskrit and taken from Hindu Scriptures like Gita and Upanishads.

People who are shocked at the mere reference by a "secular" court to a "religious" Gita may ponder on these:






Indian Navy

Shano Varuna

May the Lord of the Oceans be Auspicious Unto Us (Tattraiya Upanishad)


Indian Air Force

Nabha Sparsham Deeptam

Touching the Sky With Glory (Gita 11:24)


Indian Coast Guard

vayam rakShaamaH

We protect (Bala kanda of Valmiki Ramayana)


Reserve Bank of India - Bankers Training College

buddhau sharaNam anvichcha

Seek Refuge in Reason - Let intelligence be thy sole quest (Gita 2:49)


Life Insurance Corporation of India

yogakshemam vahaamyaham

I shall take care of the well-being (Gita 9:22)


Defence Service Staff College

Yuddham pragayya

To war with wisdom

Some Army Units


The Madras Regiment

Swadharme Nidhanam Shreyaha

It is a glory to die doing one’s duty


Grenadiers Regiment

Sarvada Shaktishali

Ever Powerful


The Rajputana Rifles

Veer Bhogya Vasundhara

The Brave Shall Reap the Earth


The Dogra Regiment

Kartavyam Anvatma

Duty Before Death


The Garhwal Rifles

Yudhaya Krit Nischya

Fight With Determination


The Kumaon Regiment

Prakramo Vijayate

Valour Triumphs


The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles

Prashata Ranvirta

Valour in Battle is Praiseworthy


The Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry

Balidanam Vir Lakshanam

Sacrifice is a Sign of the Brave



Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Vidya Viniyogadvikāsaha


Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

Tejasvi Nāvadhitamastu


Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode

Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam


Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Gyanam Paramam Dhyeyam


Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Tamaso Mā Jyotirgamaya


Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam


Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Siddhirbhavati Karmaja


Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee

Shramam Binam Na Kimapi Sādhyam


Kendriya Vidyalaya

Tat Twam Pushan Apavrinu


Central Board of Secondary Education

Asato Ma Sadgamaya


Bengal Engineering & Science University,Shibpur

Uttisthita Jagrata Prapya Baraan Nibidhata


Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani

Jnanam Paramam Balam


Gujarat National Law University

Aa Na Bhadro, Kratavo Yantu Vishwata


Indian Statistical Institute

Bhanineshvaikyasay Darshanam


Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya

Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat


Madan Mohan Malaviya Engineering College, Gorakhpur

Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam


Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad

Siddhirbhavati Karmaja


National Law School of India University

Dharmo Rakshati Rakshata


Sri Sathya Sai University

Sathyam vada dharmam chara


Sri Venkateswara University

jnanam samyaga vekshanam


University of Calicut

Nirmaya Karmana Sree


University of Colombo (Sri Lanka)

buddhih sarvatra brājate


University of Delhi

Nishtā drithih Satyam


University of Kerala

Karmani Vyajyate Prajna


University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka)

Vidyaiwa Sarwadhanam


University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)

Sarvasva Locanam Sāstram


University of Rajasthan

Dharmo Vishwasya Jagatah Pratishtha


Sri Venkateswara University

jnanam samyaga vekshanam


Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur

Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam


West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences

Yuktiheena Vicharetu Dharmahnih Prajayate


Andhra University

Tejasvi Nāvadhitamastu


Banasthali Vidyapith

Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye

PS: Thanks to the following sites for helping me as a good starting points.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Smasana Vairagya case of Independence Day

Smasana Vairagya is one of the nyayas in the Sanskrit literature and means “burial ground renunciation”

The elaboration to it is that a person once was passing through a burial ground. Seeing the burning bodies there, all the same manner immaterial of greatness or the inferiority of the person when he was alive, he was stuck with the temporal nature of this world. He was then overtaken by immense vairagya (sense of renunciation and distaste for world). He then walked four steps ahead, came back in the regular world and forgetting all that earlier feeling, started to indulge himself fully in his regular activities.

This nyaya or simile is used wherever one shows momentary enthu for something in the impulse of the moment, but forgets all about it later.

This is also very pertinent to our “Independence Day” frenzy. Come Independence Day or Republic Day and the whole media goes frenzy with “patriotism”; the mails boxes are filled with spam; orkut threads are full of messages telling other people to keep Indian flag as their DP etc etc.

We do require occasions to celebrate our nationhood and to remind ourselves of our responsibilities as citizens. However we should avoid the danger of confusing the reminder of a responsibility with the responsibility itself.

Is nationalistic feeling something that is done by seeing some patriotic movie twice a year, speak some great words and then it is “business as usual” for the rest of the year?

Agreed, it is better to think of our nation at least twice a year, than to completely forget it; but nationalistic spirit should not be degraded to these superficial things. Our national responsibility is much more than attending a flag hoisting ceremony or watching a movie twice a year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Left-wing extremism: The "root causes" trap

Recent cover story by Indian Express on Left-wing extremism in India brought the looming danger on India to the fore-front once again. There was also an old article of Arun Shourie on the same topic.

I don't need to discuss how big the threat is. I wish to focus on the usual 'justifications' provided to this phenomenon by left-leaning intellectuals, like - it is "poverty" or "caste" that is the "root cause".

There is no denying the fact that there are some critical ground level problems like poverty and caste which need to be dealt with in combating naxal problem. However, to lay the entire blame on these factors alone will be over simplification. There are many many more factors which increase which this problem. Some of them being:

1. Development is not just State’s but your responsibility. Most of the complaints of the left-wing extremists border along the lines that the state did not provide them the necessities. But it is not State’s business to provide you, it is also yours.

In most of the instances in history, commie anger is more a result of laziness to work, instead of deprivement. When India became independent, Bihar, Bengal were some of the most advanced states; while many states like Maharastra, Gujarat, A.P were far behind. Later, some people worked hard for their development, and naturally developed; some others waited for free lunches from govt, and took to arms when they did not get it.

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘poverty’.

2. Armed struggle as a valid means to archive ones’ goals Take the case study of Kerala and Bihar. A century back, both of them had worst kind of caste-problem. Swami Vivekananda even goes to the extent of calling Kerala “lunatic asylum” of those days for that reason. But thanks to the efforts of people like Narayana Guru, Kerala demonstrated a path to social emancipation without invoking the dualism of the oppressed and the oppressor. Bihar on the other hand took the path of conflict and of violence as a valid means to archive its goals and the result is worse than what was initially the condition.

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘caste’.

3. Lack of differentiation between State and Government. State comprises of all the constitution, legislation, executive, judicial etc institutions. Whereas Government is a sort of tenant of the state, and goes in accordance to the constitution and customs of the state.

They may be angry with some political party or regional group. But they hate not just those governmental things, but the properties of whole state. They target railways, factories, etc etc. These are not govt. properties, these are state properties. So their anger against a political party or a regional group turns into anger not just for them alone, but against the whole "Republic of India".

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘poverty’.

4. Working within system vs working outside system. Democracy does not mean that every citizen thinks alike. There are bound to be differences. I too have lot of things in the Indian constitution and laws which I don’t agree with. The point is how you go about the differences.

It is like a large family. If you have an opinion different from the majority of the family members, you can exert your best to convince the others to your opinion; but meanwhile as long as the functioning of the family is concerned, I will happily submit myself to the majority opinion. Change in the system I want, but through the system; not by splitting up and waging a war against the former.

Factor which makes the difference here: Ideology, not ‘poverty’.

There are many more factors like this. If we neglect all these factors and only harp on they being 'marginalized', I strongly feel that we are aggravating the present situation and sowing seed for future problems.

Stuff like unemployment etc may be the contributing factors. But there are many more communist ideological factors which complete the journey from "want of bread and dignity" to "want to overthrow the Indian state in an armed struggle". The question we should ask ourselves is "can we afford to neglect these factors and continue to spread the auro of permissiveness?"

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Republic day, Dr. BR Ambedkar & Tasleema Nasreen

Republic day & Dr. B R Ambedkar is fine; but how did Tasleema Nasreen come to the picture, that must be the first doubt right? I read this article by Tasleema Nasreen called “Lets burn the burqa” recently. The essence of the article can be summarized from her following statement- “women too have sexual urges. So why didn't Allah start the purdah for men? Clearly, He treated them on unequal terms”. Tasleema Nasreen has been fighting sexual discrimination in Islam for decades now. She was ostracized from Bangladesh, Fatwas were issued but nothing deterred her from continuing her fight. And, she still is in the system & fighting. And that takes us to the next question, how is it vis-à-vis with Dr. Ambedkar?

Jan 26th was our Republic day; surely everyone must remember Dr. Ambedkar for his contribution in drafting our constitution. It is different question altogether that how suitable is our constitution to our country? I remember Shri Gurumurthy saying - It is a respectable document alright, but not necessarily the most suitable one. Because section by section was taken as it is from the constitution of the West. What suits the West does not necessarily suit India. Nevertheless, Dr. Ambedkar is the father of our constitution & he must be revered. But how many of us know that he was against the Independence of India? Yes, he was!! Reason – If India gets the independence, his community will suffer from caste based discrimination. India government will not do as much as English men to prevent it. To know more about this read “Worshipping False Gods” by Arun Shourie.

Its history now that Dr. Ambedkar completed the drafting of our constitution & we had our first Republic day on Jan 26th, 1950. Later in 1956 Ambedkar, in the name of fighting discrimination, got converted to Buddhism along with his 400000 followers. Now that is the difference between staying within the system & fighting, and running away from the system. Ambedkar might have suffered lot more from the society than Tasleema Nasreen. In spite of that, my respect would have gone up hundred times had he stayed within Hinduism. Even then I have reverence for him because he got converted to Buddhism & not to Christianity or Islam. Surely he knew the difference. In a country where sword is used by Islam to convert & luring is used by Christianity, conversion of Ambedkar to any one of these religions would have led to mayhem. Thousands of so called backward classes would no longer have been Hindus. This is what they must understand clearly. Why did Dr. Ambedkar chose Buddhism over Christianity or Islam? When the answer to this is understood, problems of conversion subside on its own.

And thanks to my friend Karthik, he sent some more facts & corrections. Here they are

Dear Ananda,

A quick observation: Ambedkar did not have a huge following in his own time. Even in 1946, he needed Muslim support to fight elections. He was merely a leader of the Mahar community. He did not matter to other Harijans. He considered converting to Christianity, and toured the churches in Kerala. Inexplicably, he embraced Buddhism in death bed.


The clue comes from who backs the conversions to "Buddhism" today: the Christian missionaries - to be precise, American missionaries. It was a perfect script written by the American missionaries and executed by Ambedkar. What could have been the reason?

Since Ambedkar did not enjoy much support among Harijans, his conversion to Christianity would not have brought a harvest. It would have actually eliminated a potential weapon, Dalits, from being deployed against Hinduism. But his conversion to pseudo-Buddhism would have been a long-term investment in destabilizing Hinduism.


After knowing this, even the little reverence that I had for Ambedkar is gone !!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dharma- Individual Collectivism

The cold war conflict between capitalism represented by US and communism represented by Russia may be a twentieth century phenomenon, but the conflict of the ideas each were representing was not. The conflict between individualism and collectivism is probably as old as the human history.

On one side is the extreme form of individualism where an individual’s interests hold supreme even at the cost of others in the society; where an individual can amass as much resources as he can just coz he is more capable/lucky than others. On the other side is the extreme form of collectivism where the individual is nothing but a social animal; where the individual has to blindly follow the whims of the mob.

On one side the challenge is excessive selfishness which will lead in constant conflict between various groups. On the other side the challenge is how to motivate the person to aspire for excellence when the returns he gets are anyway the same and when you are pulled down when you try to raise above the mediocre.

Which one of these should we then choose. The answer everyone will give is balance both of them. True, the secret is the balance. But the thousand dollar question is how to strike it. How to create a model where these two aspects of individual good and collective good are accommodated in harmony with each other?

It is in this context the eastern concept of Dharma comes to our rescue. The simplest definition is “Dharma is that which connects, relates effectively and harmoniously an individual to the collectivities” (like family, community, society, nation, humanity and the whole world and beyond). Thus bringing harmony with all others around is Dharma. Dharma holds things together. As Kumari Nivedita in a talk observes “When I think of others' rights, it is Dharma. See the beauty, we did not start by asserting our rights. Rather we started by talking about duties. If each starts asserting rights, there will be only fights as we are seeing now. So each one is told to follow his/her Dharma. The husband’s Dharma becomes the right of the wife and wife's Dharma becomes the right of the husband. The mother's Dharma becomes the right of the children. The children's Dharma becomes the right of the parents.”

The motive is internal, not external; therefore we need extraneous stimuli. Unlike the communist nations, we did not need an external state to force us to be responsible towards the society. At the same, the collective has been made part of the individuals thinking.

Let me illustrate my point further by using Prisoner’s dilemma situation. The classical prisoner's dilemma (PD) is as follows (I am reproducing the wikipedia article on PD here): Two suspects, A and B, are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal: if one testifies for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both stay silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a two-year sentence. Each prisoner must make the choice of whether to betray the other or to remain silent. However, neither prisoner knows for sure what choice the other prisoner will make. So this dilemma poses the question: How should the prisoners act?

The dilemma can be summarized thus:

Prisoner B Stays Silent

Prisoner B Betrays

Prisoner A Stays Silent

Both serve six months

Prisoner A serves ten years
Prisoner B goes free

Prisoner A Betrays

Prisoner A goes free
Prisoner B serves ten years

Both serve two years

Let's assume the protagonist prisoner is working out his best move. If his partner stays quiet, his best move is to betray as he then walks free instead of receiving the minor sentence. If his partner betrays, his best move is still to betray, as by doing it he receives a relatively lesser sentence than staying silent. At the same time, the other prisoner's thinking would also have arrived at the same conclusion and would therefore also betray.

If reasoned from the perspective of the optimal outcome for the group (of two prisoners), the correct choice would be for both prisoners to cooperate with each other, as this would reduce the total jail time served by the group to one year total. Any other decision would be worse for the two prisoners considered together. When the prisoners both betray each other, each prisoner achieves a worse outcome than if they had cooperated.

We can observe that the apparent rational path (ie., to betray) and the real rational path (ie., not to betray) are different. We may enlarge this phenomenon to a larger scale with multiple players. Here again the apparent rational path and the real rational path are different.

This demonstrates very elegantly the moral dilemmas we face everyday- whether to stick to the rules even though they may some times be “apparently” unfavorable, or seek the path of immediate self-interest. How can we make the individuals align their individual good with collective good without any special effort? It is here that the concept of duty-centric dharma comes in.

There is a famous dialogue which comes in Mahabharata. Draupadi, obviously fed up with her suffering, once asked Yudhishthira, “What have you got by following Dharma? You have been only suffering in your life.” Yudhishthira replies, “Draupadi, I know you say this not because you really mean it but because of the extreme sufferings and humiliations you underwent. I follow Dharma not because by following it I get something. I follow it because it is to be followed.”

We are no longer bothered whether others follow a righteous path or not. Hundred people may not follow their dharma, but that is no reason for me to be unrighteous. I follow the right path, for its own sake, immaterial of what others do.

Thus the focus shifts from “are others following right path?” to “am I following the right path?” …And to the Hindus, thanks to the concept of Karma this line of thinking comes much easily as concept of Karma ensures that no good or bad action ever goes waste without producing the results. If I follow the path of Dharma, I may not be able to get the results immediately or in a way I expected them, but it is bound to give good results.

Let me conclude by quoting Pirsig in a book on Hindu-Buddhist Dharma “Dharma is duty. It is not external duty which is arbitrarily imposed by others. It is not any artificial set of conventions which can be amended or repealed by legislation. Neither is it internal duty which is arbitrarily decided by one's own conscience. Dharma is beyond all questions of what is internal and what is external. Dharma is Quality itself, the principle of "rightness" which gives structure and purpose to the evolution of all life and to the evolving understanding of the universe which life has created."

This will be the ancient Hindu response to the challenges thrown up by the 19th and 20th century ideologies.

PS: My approach here was based on utilitarian grounds. However, lemme clarify that utility is not the test of truth. The path of Dharma has to be followed, irrespective of the considerations whether it is beneficial or not. My only idea was to point out that even on the utilitarian grounds following one’s Dharma makes sense.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hinduism and Linux

One can sometimes find very interesting analogies for Religion in the geek world.

First, Windows came up with its 98 version. The users of this version claimed it to be the best version. Then after some time came the NT version of windows. Again the same claim by its users that this version is the best and the last. Later came XP. Once again the same claim repeated by its users that this is the best and last one. All the users of each windows version have been trying to monopolize all the users of the world to their own version.

On the other hand we have Linux. It is not monopolized by one seller or creator, but different users have added to it. And each user can create a module which suits his requirements. It gives a lot of scope for the user to improve, and does not claim exclusive privileges.

Does it ring any bells...if not try reading the above statements by replacing 98 by Jews, NT by Christians, and XP by Islam. Each claiming that the previous was also a prophet, but theirs the best and last.

In windows, everything is fixed and the user has negligible freedom. All the commands and user systems are readymade by a builder who they assume knows better the needs of the users. In the same manner in Abrahamic religions, there are set of dos/donots given by the god for the sake of humans and it is assumed that humans are not mature enough to decide, and which we humans have to accept without any choice.

Hinduism on the other hand can be compared with Linux. There is no specific OS that can be defined as Linux. There may be many versions and forms of it and each individual can custom make it to suit his temperament.

But then not all may be good at programming and making their own custom made version of Linux. Hence , some good programmers (Saints) may make some simplified versions like redhat (rituals, beliefs) for non technical users (masses) to use. It is open and free for all and does not necessarily negate other OS. Various versions are not a matter of superiority but a matter of one’s temperament.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Gilroy Hanuman temple

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Hello all. It’s been a while since I blogged. But the place I visited last Saturday (4th Nov) was so good that it really inspired me to do so. My friends & I usually go to some temple every fortnight. Last Saturday when we started to the Gilroy Hanuman temple, I never thought it would be such an appealing place. I will try to verbalize my experience to the best possible level.

When we entered the area, the first thing we saw was the presence of lots of people who looked like from other faiths, mainly Christians, moving around in the area. Initially, I thought they must be visiting the some place nearby, because the place is called Mount Madonna County. But when I saw a lady doing namaskar to us it was a little bit surprising. We started walking towards the shrine; we could see the name of the LORD RAMA written in Hindi in several places. At the shrine we had the most pleasant surprise. The person who you can see in the photo was the archaka of the Sankat Vimochan Hanuman temple. He was chanting shllokas in Sanskrit and offering puja to the GOD. He called each one of us to the shrine, chanted shloka, loudly said “Jai Shri Ram” and gave us prasadam. When my turn came to receive the prasadam eyes were full of tears with immense delight. He then described about the different places in that place, from which I came to know that the place is more like an Ashram. The Ashram was started in 1970s by Baba Hari Dass, a Sawmiji from Northern part of India. The Place has kuteer, meditation centers, yoga centers etc. Meanwhile few more people came for Lord’s darshan. The archaka performed the puja and gave prasadam to them as well. Take a look at the photos that I have uploaded.

Then we started towards the construction area where Baba ji was present. At the construction place Baba ji was also working along with others. I remembered “malladihalli swamiji” who used to work even when he was 100. Before reaching the construction area I thought they must be constructing a building or something in those lines. But they were building a stone bund (It indicated the lack of funds on the part of the Ashram and the seva manobhav of the Ashram people). Again, I was pleased to see several foreigners doing seva (helping in constructing the bund). We were told that Baba is a mouni and he either writes or uses symbolic language to communicate. We talked to Baba (while he wrote) for 5 – 10 minutes. We then left the construction area to go around the Ashram. Throughout the Ashram one thing that was standing out; all the rooms (may it be kuteer, guest house, yoga center .. anything) were named after the Lord; like Ram-1, Ram-2 etc. We then visited the Ashram stores. It was very similar to a Ramakrishna Ashram stores with books, idols, CDs etc. All the books that we found were on Hinduism, yoga, meditation etc.

By this time we were hungry and we went to the dining place. We had a satvik food. I saw one more interesting element; photos of the people who had served the Ashram. Many of them were of different faith initially, but have changed their faith and have become part of the Ashram. I have put one such photo in the blog. After food, we went to the kalyani & the Lord Vishnu temple. We spent few minutes then and started back home.

Though this is looks like a narration of a day’s event, I have tried to highlight one element. Presence of people who were initially from a different faith, but started following Hinduism after they came to the Ashram. I had always heard about Hinduism welcomes everyone, forces no one. I was pleased to see it in pratyaksha. We don’t lure any one, we don’t force any one. We don’t stop any one either from following our faith.

To know more about the temple please visit

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