October 29, 2014
I notice that Ramdev made a statement regarding the 3 Indian Swiss bank accounts recently disclosed to the Supreme Court.
This statement is timely and broadly unobjectionable. It reaffirms Ramdev's opposition to black money.
But such a position is inconsistent with his support for corrupt BJP. I've also commented on his highly problematic support (earlier, in April this year) for a BJP candidate who was discussing black money use in his elections. Clearly Ramdev knows that BJP is floating in black money.
And his reluctance to rebut the many claims in newspapers, with proper transparent information. Or to provide me with the relevant information I had requested in December 2013, or to undergo a public audit as I had suggested.
But I'm happy to give him the benefit of doubt IF he redeems himself by doing the following:
a) provide me with full financial details I had requested;
b) get an independent audit conducted by a reputed auditor;
c) answer the many issues raised in the press re: his use of black money;
d) endorse the SKC agenda the first draft of which was first launched in his campus in Patanjali at the 4-day National Reform Summit in April 2013; and
e) get Modi to implement the SKC agenda. He should know that without SYSTEM REFORM India's governance can never become clean. Modi has no agenda to reform the system.
October 29, 2014
I first came to know about the Indian Liberal Group (ILG) sometime in the early noughties through the unwavering liberal, S.V.Raju. Later, unfortunately, I was forced to more or less write off ILG – after my attempts to get them involved (through my monthly articles in Freedom First that Raju kindly published for over two years) failed to get a single new ‘recruit’ to the team of politically inclined liberals I have been assembling since December 2007.
(Note: As many of you may know, I switched to building such a team after I realised that Sharad Joshi’s Swatantra Bharat – which I had joined as life member, then resigned – was not up to the challenge of becoming India’s national liberal party. I was forced to start from scratch, instead of relying upon past efforts).
In February 2010 Raju brought Meera Sanyal to meet me in my hotel room in Mumbai. I was informed she has agreed to preside over a restructured ILG. ILG converted into a not-for-profit company, LiberalsIndia for Good Governance (LGG). But then Meera joined AAP. The idea that ILG’s/ LGG’s president would join socialist AAP was a complete put off (she should resign!). How could an ILG president possibly join, leave alone support, AAP!
Worse, LGG doesn’t even have a website till today. I was expecting Meera Sanyal’s presence vitalise and bring new resources and energy to the liberal movement. That expectation seems to have been unjustified.
This brings me to my recent engagement with ILG/LGG – after a period of complete frustration it.
I come to know Naozer Aga only recently. He was Hon. Gen. Secretary of ILG (and executive member of LGG – which has no post of Gen. Secretary). It turns out that he has a long history (nearly 35 years) of participating in or supporting the Indian liberal movement. Perhaps nearly as long as SV Raju.
In his late 30s (during the late 1970s) Mr Aga joined the Hindustani Andolan (HA) formed by Mr. Madhu Mehta (Hon. Secretary of the Swatantra Party). The HA formed a "Committee for Creation of a National Alternative (CCNA)" of which he was elected Hon. Gen. Secretary. Later he also became Hon. Gen. Secretary of ILG, a position (unless I'm mistaken) he continues to hold.
Unlike Meera Sanyal (who should start by brushing up her basic political and economic concepts), Naozer is a genuine classical liberal with firm roots in the theory of liberty. I’ve by now interacted with him on his many suggestions to improve the SKC agenda. I by and large I tend to agree with his suggestions, which are well thought out. That has revived my hopes in the ILG.
In 1986, Liberal International invited Naozer Aga to present a paper "The Challenge of Liberalisation in the Third World-the Legacy of Rajiv Gandhi" as a member of a panel chaired by Walter Mondale, the former VP of USA. Naozer has sent me a scanned copy of the typed paper he presented.
I’ve OCRd it and and present it below for wider dissemination. Note that even in 1986 he was inclined to recommend a liberal party for India. (Of course, the liberals collectively failed to do much about such a political outfit, so FTI has registered Swarna Bharat Party in 2013)
I'm glad to engage with Naozer Aga and look forward to his support for bringing all Indian liberals together under a single platform with a single agenda in 2014-15. If that doesn't happen, I'll evaluate whether the task should be written off as being impossible. It is possible that if a clear-headed person like Naozer has failed to get any action for 35 years and I've failed for 16 years then India is NEVER going to be a liberal country. The liberals should in that case (- to be determined mid-2015) abandon India entirely and permanently.
But fingers crossed for now.
HAMBURG-CONGRESS May 1986
Theme Report 1986 : “De-regulation and State Intervention, the Liberal View”
“The Challenge of Liberalisation in the Third World” by Mr N.J. Aga
The Legacy of Rajiv Gandhi
Industry and Allied Sector
According to a recent survey conducted by the Association of Indian Engineering Industry in the “competitiveness” scoreboard, India ranked fourth from the bottom line. It ranked 23rd in respect of financial dynamism and socio political consensus and stability, 24th in its dynamics of the market and dynamism of the economy, 26th in human resources and industrial efficacy and nth in natural endowments. Ironically enough in terms of parallel economy India ranked fourth from the top.
The dominant presence of the Government, besides a fettered financial sector lacking in diversity and lack of consumer orientation were the other factors that had come in the way of faster progress. One of the root causes of this precarious situation is the dismal financial performance of the so called Public sector which is actually State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in which the public have no ownership.
Indian agriculture is still very backward. Its productivity (yield/hectare) is amongst the lowest being one-third of what has been achieved in developed countries, and nearly three-fourths of the world average.
India has 11.6 per cent of the world’s total arable land, but the production of food grains in 1981-82 was only 8.8 per cent of the world production. Indie4 population in that year was 15.5. per cent of the world total.
The State Foodgrains Distribution System has outlived its utility. To maintain this system, the public exchequer has to shell out ever increasing amounts as subsidy, the farmers and traders have to forego their right to free trade; the consumers have to accept sub-standard products, and the banking system has to lock up its funds to the tune of Rs. 55,000 million, at concessional rates of interest, which could be more profitably employed elsewhere.
Besides being irrelevant to the present conditions, it is the costliest system anywhere in the world (the cost of distribution being between 75% to 85% of the price paid to farmers), caters to the needs of no more than 14% of the population and cannot be sustained except at the cost of farmers, who for it; sake, are deprived of their right to sell at the best available price.
The rate of growth has been exceedingly slow. It has averaged 3.5% over the years. 3.5% of a miniscule GNP is very little indeed.
There has been a failure to control population. Distribution has been very bad. 48% of the people are below the poverty line, which is defined in India virtually at the subsistence level. Wealth has been created but it has not percolated in spite of socialism. The other failure ‘has been the inability to control inflation. The inflationary rate is 5.6% per annum compounded for 35 years. The country is suffering from corruption which is a cancer eating not only into the body politic but also into the soul because it has been accepted now as a way of life.
This is a consequence to a large extent of the socialist economic policies, because corruption follows where you have physical controls and regulations, and maladministration follows where you have corruption.
Of course, in absolute terms, the infrastructure has been developed and the industrial base considerably strengthened. India is now in a good position for further development. Compared with 1950, in 1980 (figures in million tons) coal production increased from 35 to well over 100, cement from 3 to over 20, steel from 2 to over 10 and fertilisers from 0.02 to 3. Electricity generation increased from 6 billion KWH to about 110 billion KWH. Up to 1986 crude oil increased from 0.3 to 23 and grains from 56 to 150 leading to self sufficiency and even exports of rice and wheat.
Response of the Government led by Rajiv Gandhi
The severe constraints arising out of the failure of socialism, as practised in India over the past 40 years nearly, called for urgent changes which resulted in the emerging economic policy system in India, which has been given the epithet “New Economic Order “ (NEO).
The fundamental keynotes of the NE0 are
(a) The State will increasingly shed direct responsibility for running portions of the economy by delegating, decentralising, autonomising, “dediscretionising”, desubsidising existing and impending commitments. The change will be incremental in the first instance but gradually may also affect current stock situations.
(b) Rules rather than discretion, ad-hocism, improvisations.
(c) Efficiency, viability, consumer and owner accountability, and speed in decisions.
(d) More items will appear in portfolios of investors and householders, portfolio choices for them and for organisations will be less constrained.
(e) Administrative ceilings and controls, prices and allocations will give way to market-determined directions and prices.
If a phrase can describe the NEG it is Marketisation with Social Justice and Macro Rules. India is making its own amalgam. It is mixed economy seeking fulfilment of macro goals of growth and poverty eradication in an environment of micro freedom at levels of households and firms.
Benefits of the NEO
There has been a major effort at reforming the policy frame relating to industry to make it more consonant with contemporary changes and to make it more effective in the pursuit of the growth objectives. The poor performance of infrastructure sectors in the industrially advanced States of the Indian Union, the time-lag in implementing projects, question of selecting suitable foreign technology, slow pace of modernisation, lack of vigorous efforts to boost exports, inadequate information system, and the emerging new pattern of investment are some of the problems faced by industry.
The share markets have responded to the NEO with unprecedented buoyancy and tax collections have surpassed the ambitious targets.
Limitations of NEO
The Prime Minister wants to make India a nation fit for the 21st Century. However, there are restraints on these aims, this makes it necessary to break the stranglehold of government on the economy. This is evident from the Congress (I) meeting in 1985 when the new economic policy resolution draft approved by Rajiv Gandhi was most embarrassingly abandoned and a new one affirming commitment to socialism hurriedly prepared and passed.
The system of controls has outlived its usefulness. The economy is too complex to be administered in the detailed case by case approach of the bureaucracy. Most economic policies are stated to be currently under review by the Government of India. This exercise will, however, prove to be no more than cosmetic treatment, so long as the rural policies, which impinge on the lives of 76 per cent of the country’s population remain unchanged. The changes are not yet over and unless the whole economic system becomes void of discretionary rules, orders and permits, it cannot be said that the new order in full has emerged.
The hurdles against a smooth change to the new system are many. There is a hump of an induced exchange crisis implicit in the changes. Secondly, there is a temporary possibility of the distribution system getting more skewed. Thirdly, there is a danger that the core public sector projects in agriculture, irrigation, fertilisers etc, may get slowed down.
In one sense, the changes so far have been only from the end of the Central Government. The State governments are dealing with a number of spheres like small industry, trade and agriculture. They have been lukewarm. Even the Long Term Fiscal Policy concerns only the Central Government. It is time that a national policy framework is evolved and announced.
There is a need to fulfil the promise of democratic decentralization up to village level. The people should be given an opportunity to participate in formulation and implementation of schemes which are of immediate concern to them.
There are three main interests which feel threatened by the policies of the NEO. The most subtle attack comes from certain business houses who are unwilling to give up old habits of manipulation politics through bribery and corruption. The second attack comes from the old Soviet lobby which has reason to worry because if liberalisation is carried too far and the Indian economy gets more seriously integrated with the capitalist world, there will be a political fallout in foreign policy.
The third attack comes from a section of the bureaucracy. In the past the bureaucracy had developed an alliance with business houses and politicians, as intermediaries and thus acquired a financial interest in the corrupt old system. The Government has made a lot of bureaucrats nervous by dismantling this nexus as well as by dismissing and retiring a few. Indeed, the slowness of this cleansing and trimming has enabled bureaucrats to slow down policies.
The response of Rajiv Gandhi’s government to correct the system is inadequate in its conception as well as execution. It has concentrated only on the economic aspects of liberalism and ignored the political, cultural and social factors, (except for some superficial and cosmetic action) which continue to be severely regulated with excessive state intervention.
The Relevance of Liberalism to India
The inherent drawbacks in the socialist system, inherited by Rajiv Gandhi, to deliver the goods, led to the introduction of the NEO. This in itself is a damning indictment of the socialist system as practised in India.
The massive poverty and gross inequalities of India do not prove the irrelevance of liberalism but its contrary. Precisely because the entrepreneurial base is narrow it needs to be broadened so that the fruits of technological development can be increased and distributed. To speak of relevance of liberalism to the Indian situation is an understatement. It is more than that for it provides not only the philosophy of the original Constitution but also a framework for the future development of the culturally diversified society of India. Ironically, the policies of the Indian government for three decades and a half have served to underline some of the lasting lessons of liberalism. The expanding power of the state in all the key areas of human activity, the growth of Indian bureaucracy, the control of not merely the economy but also of the mass media, the clumsy and costly system of regulation and control have all conspired to smother initiative. It is no wonder that creative individuals nave either suffered frustration or have become sycophants of the powers that be.
Meeting the Challenge
The history of liberalism and its relevance to India clearly indicates that there is a sizeable base available for its further growth and development.
Unfortunately, after the dissolution of the Swatantra party, there is no single political platform available at present to Indian liberals. The Congress (I) is distinctly socialist with all opposition parties falling between communism and at best an incompatible mixture of socialism with patches of communism, fascist or liberalism depending on the area of operation and the vote banks which they cultivate.
Except for the Communists, no party has any commitment to a cause, philosophy or ideology. They are opportunist; populist and vote oriented. The only common link is an all consuming passion for achieving and retaining power at any cost. There is, therefore, a need for a political platform to be created for Indian liberals which will ensure a well co-ordinated and systematic effort of like-minded individuals working for a common objective with dedication and zeal.
Many liberals are today spread out in various political parties and countless others have refrained from joining any party. Unless the liberal elements in such parties, either separately or in combination embark on a liberal path on their own, the only alternative would be for a new liberal party to rise on the Indian horizon.
A NOTE OF CAUTION
The challenge of liberalism as faced in India is without doubt unique and quite distinct from any other country. Hence, any detailed political action programme such as the Manifesto of a liberal political party must take into account, among others, the specific needs of Indian philosophy, the social, political and cultural dimensions and the exact degree of deregulation and state intervention required depending on emerging situations. A complex transformation of the type India has to undergo cannot follow any rigid preconceived model. It will be necessary to find indigenous solutions to meet the Challenge. For example, can anyone predict the social upheaval resulting from deregulation of the State or Public sector? What would happen, in the short term, to the supply demand equation, the price level, the employment pattern etc?
There is no experience, either in India or elsewhere, that one can fall back on and an innovative and creative outlook is necessary. While undoubtedly, the Indian system of values and ideals (which is relevant to Indian conditions) must draw from global experience, it must above all be firmly rooted on Indian soil. The nature and role of religion, class and caste, urban and rural, rich and poor, large scale and small scale, freedom and dissent, deregulation and state intervention, etc, have to be accurately analysed and appropriately included in the political Manifesto as a smooth, harmonious and result oriented programme.
Liberal political development in India must occur in step with the drive for modernisation and take into account the technological, economic and socio-cultural reality of the country.
The pendulum of liberalism will have to swing, when necessary, in more directions and more deeply into the socialist and conservative preserves, in comparison with the developed world. A sensitive and dynamic system with flexibility and capacity to respond quickly to changes in external and internal stimuli will have to be devised. Deregulation, particularly sun-set legislation, and state intervention, if properly used, would be very effective in maintaining the equilibrium.
October 28, 2014
Liberty is under pressure across the world. State authoritarianism is on the rise even in the USA – leave alone China, Hong Kong, India or the Middle East. There have been too many state-motivated brutalities in the USA in recent years, leave alone in other countries (where such matters are routine).
As governments bear down upon citizens, ONE bastion still remains: The First Amendment of the American Constitution.
With the press having been completely knocked out (basically, bought out by governments) the people are able to at least speak out in some parts of the world through the internet, which is now the last bastion of liberty. All others have fallen.
And this last fortress of liberty exists, too, only because of the AMERICAN First Amendment.
But WHO really motivated the First Amendment?
In my view the foundational credit should go to John Locke.
I reproduce below an outstanding summary of the history of the First Amendment:
History of the Development of the First Amendment
by Kim Freitag
Thomas Jefferson stated, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” Jefferson’s view was a product of the new philosophical thought of the 18th century, the Enlightenment.
Enlightenment thinkers such as the Founding Fathers believed that basic political rights were inherent in man’s nature as a rational being. This was a shift in belief from Medieval times when all political rights and powers were vested in a “divinely ordained” monarch to whom ordinary people owed unquestioning allegiance.
Enlightenment thinkers asserted that the people through their consent were the source of political legitimacy. Thus, the authority governmental officials exercised was a result of the people freely giving them that authority, not the result of divine appointment. Further, the job of government was not to grant rights but to secure and protect these God-given, natural rights for the people.
British intellectual John Locke was an eloquent writer advocating Enlightenment ideas. He articulated life, liberty, and property as natural rights. His work served as inspiration for the American Founders, particularly Thomas Jefferson.
Locke’s countrymen, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, writing a series of essays under the title, Cato’s Letters, argued for freedom of speech as a natural right. Thus, Enlightenment thought, augmented by the Founders’ colonial experience of tyranny under British rule as well as the erosion of authority of absolute monarchs and protection of rights and freedoms enshrined in documents from the Magna Carta in 1215 to state constitutions in the post-Revolution era, shaped the fundamental freedoms outlined in the First Amendment.
The explicit articulation of these freedoms, however, was not included in the Constitution written in 1787. This absence of a bill of rights was a stumbling block to the document’s ratification. Debate about ratification of the new constitution was fierce, and the American press played a central role in advancing the arguments of both sides. Those who advocated ratification of the constitution styled themselves as Federalists while the opponents were left with the negative moniker, Anti-Federalists.
Federalists Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote a series of articles under the pseudonym, Publius, which were published in state newspapers such as the New York Independent Journal and the Gazette of the United States. These 85 essays were later gathered and re-published as the Federalist Papers.
The Anti-Federalists were less organized in their approach; however, opponents of the new constitution such as George Mason, George Clinton, Robert Yates, John Mercer, Samuel Bryan and Patrick Henry wrote articles or made speeches outlining their arguments against ratification. Anti-Federalist essays were published under various pennames including Brutus, Federal Farmer, and Centinel.
A key newspaper which provided a forum for the Anti-Federalist message was the Philadelphia General Advertiser (also known as the Aurora), published by Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson of Benjamin Franklin. These essays were also later collected and published as the Anti-Federalist Papers.
While Anti-Federalist arguments against the constitution were mostly variations on a single theme – fear of concentration of power in a central government which could ultimately exercise that power in a tyrannical fashion similar to that of the British crown – the specific criticism of the constitution which most powerfully resonated with the American public was the absence of a bill of rights.
The American public supported the Anti-Federalist position that explicit guarantees of individual liberties not expressly stated in the constitution were essential. The Anti-Federalist position regarding the bill of rights was bolstered by the opinion of Thomas Jefferson who was absent from the Constitutional Convention as he was serving as the U.S. minister to France.
Jefferson wrote to his friend, Madison, and argued that the absence of a bill of rights in the constitution exposed Americans to the risk of tyranny. Jefferson asserted that a bill of rights designed to restrict the powers of the central government was needed. Thus, the Federalists, recognizing popular support for a bill of rights and anxious to see the new constitution ratified, promised that upon ratification of the Constitution, the first business of the new Congress would be to draft and approve a bill of rights.
Thus, James Madison, in 1789, drafted the Bill of Rights, which were adopted by the states in 1791. While Anti-Federalist arguments against the constitution were mostly variations on a single theme – fear of concentration of power in a central government which could ultimately exercise that power in a tyrannical fashion similar to that of the British crown – the specific criticism of the constitution which most powerfully resonated with the American public was the absence of a bill of rights.
The American public supported the Anti-Federalist position that explicit guarantees of individual liberties not expressly stated in the constitution were essential. The Anti-Federalist position regarding the bill of rights was bolstered by the opinion of Thomas Jefferson who was absent from the Constitutional Convention as he was serving as the U.S. minister to France. Jefferson wrote to his friend, Madison, and argued that the absence of a bill of rights in the constitution exposed Americans to the risk of tyranny.
Jefferson asserted that a bill of rights designed to restrict the powers of the central government was needed. Thus, the Federalists, recognizing popular support for a bill of rights and anxious to see the new constitution ratified, promised that upon ratification of the Constitution, the first business of the new Congress would be to draft and approve a bill of rights. Thus, James Madison, in 1789, drafted the Bill of Rights, which were adopted by the states in 1791.
Salute to John Locke.
Each day one must thank him for the little mercies of liberty still available in some parts of the world.
October 28, 2014
I needed to refer to Satyarth Prakash, so I've created this placeholder to record links/ etc. to the work
1) by Durga Prasad
Original PDF of 1908 translation from Archive.org. [75MB]
Word version (OCR'd) of the Durga Prasad version by Sanjeev Sabhlok
2) by Dr. Chrianjiva Gharadwaya
PDF version (from Agniveer)
Word version (OCRd) by Sanjeev Sabhlok
October 28, 2014
Dayanand Saraswati wrote: "The child should be warned against vulgar superstition, sorcery, astrology, and alchemy." [Source: Saytarth Prakash, English translation by Durga Prasad]. Vivekananda, although not so clear on this topic, was clear enough to say: ""It is the coward and the fool who says, 'This is fate'" — so says the Sanskrit proverb. But it is the strong man who stands up and says, "I will make my fate."
It was shocking to hear that a young girl in Delhi – the daughter of the Principal of one of the better schools of Delhi: Delhi Public School – committed suicide for astrological reasons. [Source]
I don't have time to write more, but will link to my FB post on this topic.
October 27, 2014
My post on Modi's absurd statement regarding Ganesha attracted the following comment:
You would do well to abstain yourself from commenting on spiritual thoughts and beliefs of which most of us know little about. It's too silly to compare imaginations about Shree Ganesha to those of James Bond! The scientific thoughts that you are speaking about are based on a lot of assumptions and are largely untrue and mutable. This has been observed and accepted by the greatest of the world's scientists when they dwelt deeper in to atomic physics and helplessly came up with quantum theory (w/o explaining values used for mass of an electron!), field theory (w/o explaining magnitude of electron's charge), theory of relativity (arbitrarily assuming speed of light), uncertainty, probabilities, cosmic intelligentsia, cosmic dance & dynamism of cosmos, unity of all things, bootstrap theory and the likes, which cannot be explained by any of scientific logic and reasoning that we often boast about. They even accepted that Eastern Mystics might be more nearer to the TRUTh than all their scientific efforts! Hinduism (Vedas), Buddhism (Gandavyuha), Zen, Taoism, Yin & Yang etc. may be the new hope for future scientists!
So, when Modi speaks about plastic surgery of Lord Ganesha, an idea which can be easily understood/ comprehended by the Aam Admi, it may be absurd to outright defy it! After all Modi has had a brief stint in the wilderness of the Himalayas and might be more knowledgeable than most of us on spiritual aspects. I fully reject your views. You might never reach even half way to your planned goals without beginning with Lord Ganesha's blessings is what I believe firmly, whether you like it or not that Indianness with your concocted scientific logic and reasoning that says there's no Ganesha! That doesn't in any way mean that I want to thrust my beliefs on others, though, I can only pity them for IGNORANCE. You utterly fail to recognize the symbolism attached with the spiritual thoughts and I think you need more education on this aspect! I highly appreciate your thought processes on economic and governance matters. May the Omnipresent God bestow his blessings upon you to guide you to the heaven of Truth, Knowledge, Peace and Freedom. Regards,
Now, while I am no religious man, I do know a fair bit about Hinduism. Osmosis, plus some study – particularly of Advaitic philosophy.
I have no intention of believing in this or that God without proof. But this I know that if there is a God, He/She is ONE, not divided into religions. I much prefer the semi-pantheistic philosophy which links God with energy – but I don't wish to discuss this issue here: I've commented on it extensively in the past.
This I do know, however: that idol workshop is a relatively recent phenomenon in Hinduism.
I attribute to the Jains an influence that changed India's widely prevalent (and conclusively proven) beef eating habits. Dayanand Saraswati attributes to the Jains the onset of idol worship in Hinduism.
When they gained in power and had ceased to be afraid of any body, they began to favor and honor their followers – both the householders and the mendicants – and to dishonor and punish the followers of the Veda unjustly. They began to live in ease and luxury, and being puffed up with pride became over-bearing in their manners. They also made huge images of their religious teachers, calle Tirthankaras – from Rishabhdeva toMahaavria – and began to worship them. Thus the practice of worshipping idols originated with the Jains (in this country). The belief in God decline and the people took to idolatry instead. Thus, Jainism reigned supreme for about 300 years in India. The people during that time had become quite destitute of the knowledge of the Veda. This must have happened nearly 2,500 years ago. [Source: Satyarth Prakash]
Further, from his book:
Q. – With whom did idol worship originate? A. ~It originated with the Jainees.
Q. – Why did the Jainees start idol worship? A. ~They did it out of their ignorance.
Dayanand Saraswati also makes clear:
Q. – God being Formless cannot be contemplated. Idols are, therefore, absolutely needed. Where is the harm if we stand before an idol with folded palms, think of God and recite His name?
A. ~ God being Formless and Omnipresent cannot have an image. If the sight of an idol puts God in one's mind why cannot this wonderful creation, which comprehends the earth, water, fire, air, vegetation and a hundred and one other things? Cannot one think of God when he looks at the earth and the mountains which are wonderfully constructed, and out of which human beings fashion idols? It is altogether wrong to say that the sight of an idol makes on think of God. This would mean that when the idol is out of sight, the devotee would not think of God and, consequently when all alone, may succumb to the temptation of committing theft, adultery and the like sins. Believing as he does that there is no one to witness his actions, he would not scruple to commit the most degrading sins.
These are some of the evils that result from the worship of idols.
Q. - Is no form of idol worship permissible? What is then meant by the expression worship of the five gods which has been in common use since times immemorial. Does it not imply the worship of the five gods called Shiva, Vishnu, Ambika, Ganesha and Surya.
A. ~ No form of idol worship is permissible.
There are TENS of eminent Hindu leaders/ philosophers who have made clear that idols and mythologies are ILLUSTRATIVE of the concepts enunciated in the ancient texts (such as Vedas), and should NEVER be taken literally.
These people (e.g. Vivekananda) note that there are varying "levels" of people, some apparently need idol worship. But fundamentally, there is NO relationship between a man-made idol/ painting and the real "thing".
I'm not questioning anyone's choices to worship an idol. But even the idol-worshipper knows that without "conversion" into a sacred object through prayer, an idol is pure mud. Once sanctified, the essential property in the idol is FORMLESS. All Hindus know that. Or should know that. That is the foundational Vedic and Advaitic tradition that underpins Hinduism.
Further, there are many Hindus who firmly oppose the stories underpinning these idols. The point re:Ganesha that I was making was made MUCH MORE FORCEFULLY BY DAYANAND.
Instead of focusing on my FIRM assertion that Ganesha (the concept) is man-made, let's focus on the absurdity of Modi's claims – that he thinks Ganesha is a real entity operated upon by humans in ancient India. Why would God come down to a human to get surgically operated? Modi should teach the SCIENTIFIC approach – which was the real hallmark of ancient Indian thought: not his RSS-based claptrap.
Now, here is where Dayanand Saraswati strongly condemns the Puranas and the mythologies found in them (including of Ganesha):
Q. – Is everything that is said in the Puranas false? Is there nothing true in them?
A. ~ They are mostly false but there may be a thing here an there that is true, but that is taken from the Vedas and the Shastras, while that which is false is the invention of the popes. In the Shiva Purana, Shiva is described as the Lord of all, while Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Ganesha, and Svrya are spoken of as his servants, whilst in the Vishnu Purana, Vishnu has been held as the Supreme Spirit and Shiva an other gods, as his servants. Again, in Devi Purana, Devi is described as the Supreme Deity and Shiva, Vishnu, and the like as her servants. In Ganesha Khand, Ganesh is called the Lord of all, while the other gods as the servants. Why! If this is not the invention of the sectarian priests, whose else could it be?
Such self-contradictions are not possible even in the writings of an ordinary man, to hold the first statement as true, the second naturally must be false, and if the second statement be held to be right, the third must be wrong, and if the third be considered a correct, all the rest must be incorrect.
Again, the Shiv Purana describes Shiva; the Vishnu Purana, Vishnu the Devi Purana, Devi; the Ganesh Khand, Ganesha; the Surya Puran, Surya; Vay Puran, Vayu, as the author of the creation and dissolution of the Universe and then each of them considers them as created beings. If the Pauranics (Hindus) were asked how the author of the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the Universe could be created being and how a created being could be the First cause of the Universe, they would never be able to answer this objection.
Besides, the bodies of these beings must have been formed out of the matter composing the universe. When they form part of the created world and are localized, how can anyone of them be the author of the universe? Moreover, Cosmogony is described differently in the different Puranas and in a manner which is altogether impossible.
For instance, its written in the Shiva Purana – "Shiva wiled 'Let me create the world.' "Thereupon he create an expanse of water called Narayana from its navel sprand up a lotus plant, out of which issued forth Brahma who say that it was all water. He took a handful of water, looked at it and threw it back (into the ocean) which caused a bubble to rise from its surface. Out f this bubble came a man who addressed Brahma thus, "O My Son! Create the world." Brahma replied. " I a am not your son, rather you are my son."
Thereupon they began to quarrel over it and continued fighting with each other on the surface of the water for one thousand years of the gods. Then Mahadeva began to think that as those whom he has sent forth to crate the world were fighting with each other, he must adopt some method of settling this dispute. For this reason he created out of them a bright linga, which immediately spread heavenward. Both were puzzled at its sight. They agreed that its beginning and end should be found out and he that returned first, after having discovered its limits, should be considered as the father, while the other who returned later or without having discovered its two ends as the son. Thereupon Vishnu assumed the form of a tortoise and went down, whilst Brahma embodied himself as a swan and flew upwards along the linga. Both traveled for on thousand years (of the gods) at the same speed as the human mind and yet they could not fathom it.
Therefore, Brahma above and Vishnu below began to think that if the other came back sooner after having found its end he would have to become the son. Whilst Brahma, was thinking in this strain, a cow and a tree, called Strychnos Potatorum descended down from above. Brahma asked them, "Whence have you come?" They replied that they has been travelling along that linga for one thousand years. Brahma enquired "Has this linga any limits?" they replied in the negative. The Brahma said to them, "Both of you accompany me and let the cow give evidence to the effect that she has been pouring milk over the head of the linga and let the tree say that it showered flowers over it, if yu do this I shall take you to a resting-place."
They refused to give false evidence. This enraged Brahma and he cried, "If you refuse to give the desired evidence, I will reduce you to ashes (i.e., annihilate you) at once." This frightened them both and consequently the promised to give the desired evidence. The all of them began to descend and continued in their downward course till they got back to the place whence Brahma had started. Vishnu had already got back there. Brahma asked him fi he had found the limits of the linga. Vishnu replied, "I have not been able to fathom it." Brahma, then, said, "But I have succeeded." Vishnu wanted him to produce his evidence.
Thereupon the cow and the StrychnosPotatorum tree gave evidence to the effect that they were both above the head of the linga. Upon this a voice came out of the linga and cursed the tree saying, "Since thou hast told a lie, thy flowers shall never be offered to me or any other god in the whole world, and whosoever offers them shall be destroyed." It then cursed the cow saying, "Since thou hast uttered a lie with thy mouth thou shalt eat excrement with it and no one shall ever worship it. But in its stead thy tail shall be worshipped." It also curse Brahma saying, "Since thou hast told a falsehood, thou shall not worshipped anywhere in the world." It blessed Vishnu saying, "since thou hast spoken the truth, thou shalt be worshipped all over the world." After this both (Brahma an Vishnu) glorified the linga. This highly pleased it and out came a man from the inside of the linga with tresses of hair twisted on the top of his head who said " I sent you both to create the world, why have you been quarrelling with each other." They replied, "How could we create the world without some material?" Thereupon Mahadeva took a ball of ashes out of his matted hair an gave it to them saying "Go forth and create the world out of this ball."
The authors of the Puranas should be asked where the bodies of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahadeva, the expanse of water, the lotus, the lingas, the cow and the Strychnos Potatorum tree and the ball of ashes came from when even the primordial matter – atoms and the five subtle principles (Mahabhuts)* did not exist?" they could never answer this objection satisfactorily.
The story of Creation in the Bhagvat Purana.
The story of Creation is given thus in the Bhagvat: -
A lotus came out of the navel of Visnu, And Brahma out of the lotus, Swayambhava out of the right big toe of Brahma's right foot and the queen Satyrupa out of his left great toe. Out of his forehead were born ten sons such as Rudra and Marichi who begot tem Prajapatis, whose thirteen daughters were married to Kashyapa. Out of these thirteen wives of Kashyapa, Diti gave birth to fiends, Danu to demons, Aditi to the sun, Vinata to birds, Kadru to snakes, Sharma to dogs, and jackals, etc., and others to elephants, horses, donkeys, buffaloes, grass, straw and trees such as acacia with thorns and all. Fie on you! O you senseless, idiotic author of the Bhagvat Puranana. What a shameless creature you were! You did not feel a bit of shame or hesitation in writing such falsehood! You became so utterly blind.
Human beings are, no doubt, the result of the union of the male and female reproductive elements of human parents but never animals, birds, snakes, etc. Such a thing being against the laws of nature as ordained by God is quite impossible; besides, how can there be any room for elephants, camels, lions, dogs, donkeys and trees in the womb of a woman? Moreover, why did not the lions and the like animals, after their birth, eat up their own parents? How can it be possible for animals, birds and trees to be born out of a human body?
It is a great pity that these people should have practiced such impostures as hve kept the world in darkness and doubt even up to this day. These blind popes and their blind dupes hear and believe in such utterly false things. One wonders if they are even men! Oh! Why did not the writers of Bhagvat and other Puranas die in their mothers' wombs or as soon as they were born? Had the people (of India) been saved from the hands of these popes, they would have been spared the pain and suffering that they are afflicted with.