Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Religion

Religion And Spirituality – a write-up by my mother Adarsh Sabhlok

My mother recently wrote this thoughtful piece for a local newsletter – I thought I’d share it since I agree with its key argument (my annotations in red and blue).


For most Indians, religion is very important in their lives. Religion is a system of faith and worship that defines who we are and what we do. Religion can be classified as a set of beliefs and practices shared by a community or a group of people. Religion helps in creating an ethical frame work of values to be practised in our day to day life. [Sanjeev: I don’t agree with this claim – but my mother has address this issue in the article, below.] Religion provides a sense of community and identity as well as a way for rituals and traditions to be passed down from generation to generation. It inculcates social virtues in society. Every human being in one way or the other belongs to a particular religion.

In fact, we do not choose our religion. we are born with our religion. A child born to Hindu parents, is a Hindu by birth and a child born to Muslim parents is a Muslim by birth itself. Same is the case with all other religions. From the very beginning, children are brought up differently according to the rituals and traditions of their specific religion. All the religions have different places of worship and different ways of worship. Every religion, as its own gods and goddesses whom they worship. religious books of each religion are different and the followers of that religion believe in the tenets of their own holy books. Children are encouraged to read their own religious books and worship according to the rules of their religion. Thus, he foundation of disparity is laid down in the mind of a child right from his childhood. Every religion promotes its own philosophy and emphasis is always on the welfare of the people. But because of all these external differences, t leads to a division in the society. [Sanjeev: here is the crux of the problem: the divisions caused by religion.]

Originally, there was a time when there was only one religion. That was called “Sanatan Dharma’. That consisted laws of God as recommended in our religious books. Gradually, with time the principles of Dharma went on changing and many new religions came in the world. ow the whole world is divided in many different religions and small sects. Even in our country, there is a population of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Jews, Parsis and many other sects. Because of this multitude of religions, the whole society is fragmented. Religion that was supposed to bring solidarity in the society, has brought division among human beings. It is turning people against each other. Followers of one religion consider themselves superior to the followers of other religions. This has brought disparity in the society and has created many social and law and order problems.

In this context, we can say that religion promotes intolerance, wars and blood shed. Religion slows down the pace of human progress because it promotes faith over science and logic. Religion encourages many superstitions and wasteful rituals that are being performed in many temples. Religion discourages reasoning and questioning. Religion encourages many outdated and harmful customs which are contrary to human progress and needs of the present times.

As such, we have seen that in a formal religion the focus is on external things, like going to the places of worship, doing worship in a particular way, chanting some holy mantras or performing other rituals as prescribed in a particular religion. But on the other hand, spirituality is an inward journey that involves a shift in awareness of your soul rather than any external activity or worship. Attention is paid on your soul, higher self and divinity within. Spirituality is a practical way of life. There are no set rules, no dogmas, no rituals, no special books, no religious barriers and no external regulations. Spirituality is about seeking a meaning full life that can result in positive emotions, such as patience, perseverance, humility, gratitude, courage, compassion and a sense of responsibility. Spirituality is a process of self empowerment. it gives a sense of peace, wholeness and balance among the physical, emotional social and spiritual aspects of our life.

Spirituality unites humanity. It is a unifying force. No one is left out. Spirituality is a process of self transformation and self empowerment. It is continuous process. Religion fulfils our external and physical needs, but spirituality enlightens our inner self. A spiritual person is full of positive thinking. There is no place of negativity in his life. His life is guided by a set of values and principles. He is slow to grudges and quick to forgive. He is stable minded. He believes in living life in a sacred manner. He cares about people and the planet.

In the present scenario in the world, when there is hatred and violence amongst the people of different religions, spirituality can bring a soothing touch. One can retain one’s religion and can become a spiritual man. Spirituality and religion can go together as the aim of both of them is the welfare of humanity. As we have seen that spirituality is a practical way of life, we can make it a guiding force in every sphere of our life. It will certainly lead to a healthier and happier life.

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Johannes Bronckhorst’s studies of ancient Vedic religion and Buddhism

This indologist seems to have arrived at very similar views to that of Sanjay Sonawani.

e.g. Brahmanism: Its place in ancient Indian society – Johannes Bronkhorst (PDF and RTF).



His other works include:Greater Magadha (2007; Indian reprint 2013), Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism (2011; Indian reprint in preparation) and How the Brahmins Won (2016).

Worth finding time to read this scholar.

This is a placeholder post. Will add notes as I find time.







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Rig Veda provides significant evidence of the “Aryan” invasion

I’m incrementally getting inclined to consider the Aryan invasion theory again. Not just migration.

Parpola’s evidence along with latest DNA evidence is becoming persuasive.

Extract below from Parpola’s The Coming of The Ayrans to Iran and India:

In his book The Roots of Hinduism, Parpola cites the following (rather extensive) extracts from a new translation of Rig Veda to demonstrate the nature of early wars. These are from a new translation of the Rigveda by Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton (2014).

1,51,5 With your wiles you blew away the wily ones, who, according to their own customs,
poured (their offering) “on the shoulder.”

You broke through the strongholds of Pipru, O you of manly mind; you helped jiśvan
through in the smashing of Dasyus.

6 You helped Kutsa in the smashing of Śuṣṇa, and you made Śambara subject to Atithigva.

With your foot you trampled down Arbuda, though he was great. Indeed, from long ago you
were born to smash Dasyus.

8 Distinguish between the Āryas and those who are Dasyus. Chastising those who follow no
commandment, make them subject to the man who provides ritual grass.

Become the potent inciter of the sacrificer. I take pleasure in all these (deeds) of yours at our
joint revelries.

1,103,3 He who by nature provides support, being trusted for his power, roved widely, splitting
apart the Dāsa strongholds.

As knowing one, O possessor of the mace, cast your missile at the Dasyu; strengthen Ārya
might and brilliance, O Indra.

2,12,4 By whom all these exploits have been done: who has put the Dāsa tribe below and hidden away,

who has taken the riches of the stranger, as a winning gambling champion does the wager— he, O peoples, is Indra.

10 Who has struck with his arrow those constantly creating for themselves great guilt, the unthinking ones;

who does not concede arrogance to the arrogant man; who is the smasher of the Dasyu— he, O peoples, is Indra.

11 Who in the fortieth autumn discovered Śambara dwelling in the mountains;

who smashed the serpent displaying its strength, the son of Dānu, (thereby) lying (dead)—he, O peoples, is Indra.

2,20, 6 The god famed as Indra by name, he the most wondrous, rose upright for Manu.

The able, independent one carried away the Dāsa Arśasāna’s very own head.

7 Smasher of Vtra, splitter of fortresses, Indra razed the Dāsa (fortresses) with their dark wombs.

He gave birth to the earth and the waters for Manu. In every way, he makes the sacrificer’s laud powerful.

4,16,10 Drive here to the home (of Uśanā Kāvya) with your Dasyu-smashing mind. In companionship with you, Kutsa will become eager.

Do you two, having the same form, sit down each in his own womb. She is trying to distinguish between you two—she is a woman who distinguishes the truth.

12 For Kutsa you laid low insatiable Śuṣṇa, who brings bad harvest, with his thousands, before the day’s first meal.

Immediately crush out the Dasyus with (the weapon) that is Kutsa, and then tear off the wheel of the Sun at the moment of encounter.

13 You subjugated Pipru Mgaya, swollen with power, to jiśvan, the son of Vidathin.

You scattered down the dark fifty thousand. You shredded their fortresses, like worn-out age a cloak—

5,34,6 Very energetic in the clash, affixing the wheel (to the chariot?), he is antagonistic to the non-presser, but strengthener of the presser.

Indra is the dominator of all, spreading fear; the Ārya leads the Dāsa as he wishes.

6,20,10 Might we win anew through your help, Indra. The Pūrus start up the praise with this (hymn) along with sacrifices.

When he split the seven autumnal strongholds, their shelter, he smote the Dāsa (clans), doing his best for Purukutsa.

6,26,5 You made that hymn (endowed) with might, Indra, so that you could tear out hundreds and thousands (of goods), o champion.

You struck the Dāsa Śambara down from the mountain and furthered Divodāsa with glittering help.

6,47,21 Day after day he drove off from their seat the other half, the black kindred all of the same appearance.

The bull smashed the two Dāsas, mercenaries, Varcin and Śambara, at the moated place.

7,6,3 Down with those of no intelligence, those tying in knots, those of disdainful words: the Pais, not giving hospitality, not giving strength, not giving sacrifices.

Onward and onward Agni has pursued those Dasyus. The first has made the last to be without sacrifices.

7,19,2 Just you, O Indra, helped Kutsa, while seeking fame for yourself with your own body in the clash,

when for him you weakened the Dāsa Śuṣṇa bringing bad harvest, doing your best for Arjuna’s offspring.

4 You—whose mind is inclined towards men in their pursuit of the gods—along with men you smash many obstacles, you of the fallow bays;

you put to sleep the Dasyu Cumuri and Dhuni, easy to smash, for Dabhīti.

5 Yours are these exploits, you with the mace in hand—that nine and ninety fortifications at once

along with the hundredth you worked to the end, in bringing them to rest [= collapse]. You smashed Vtra, and moreover Namuci you smashed.

8,70,10 You are the one who seeks the truth for us, Indra. You find no satisfaction in him who reviles you.

Gird yourself in between your thighs, O you of mighty manliness. Jab down the Dāsa with your blows.

11 The man who follows other commandments, who is no son of Manu, no sacrificer, no devotee of the gods—

him should your own comrade, the mountain, send tumbling down; the mountain (should send down) the Dasyu for easy smiting.

10,22,8 The Dasyu of non-deeds, of non-thought, the non-man whose commandments are other, is against us.

You smasher of non-allies, humble the weapon of this Dāsa.

10,138,3 The sun unhitched his chariot in the middle of heaven. The Ārya found a match for the Dāsa.

The firm fortifications of the crafty lord Pipru did Indra throw open, having acted together with jiśvan.

4 Defiant, he threw open the undefiable (fortifications); the unbridled one pulverized the ungodly treasure-houses.

Like the sun with the moon, he took for his own the goods found in the fortress. Being sung, he shattered his rivals with his flashing (weapon).

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