Sunday, January 28, 2007

Are you a Sagittarian?

If your answer is yes, good for you. If not, contact me immediately and i will give you an expensive gem that will remedy the situation. Now! hurry up! Rush!....

"This is the year of the Leo. So Sagittarians and Geminis are bound to be successful", thus spaketh Mr. Bejan Daruwalla.
And the context? Apparently the producers of Big-Shetty-Brother have contacted him on "how religion plays an important role in the life of Indians and also asked me the role of astrology in India".

How convenient for these reporters. Catch the right people in India to potray the usual "Caste, Cows, Curry, Constellations" trash. Do not expect any mention in this programme of how religion* influenced science, arts, architecture, literature etc. in India.

Anyway, more insights:
“It was such a coincidence that Shilpa, who is a part of Channel 4’s ‘Big Brother’, is born on June 8 and this lady’s (the reporter who contacted Mr. Daruwalla) date of birth is June 9. Both of them are Geminis, and Shilpa may perhaps win,” he says.
My mind is spinning. Just like the planets Mr. Daruwalla claims to have a total impact on your life. This is really a revolting brand of astrology.

Here's a piece of advice from Sri Mantreswara, author of the 16th century astrology classic Phaladeepika:
"Planets are constantly favorable to one who is always calm, possessed of self-control, who has earned wealth through virtuous means, and who is always ethical and moral".
Classical Indian thinking was never totally deterministic. The theory of Karma is not an easy one to understand. Ignorance, superstition, bad translations of Sanskrit works and charlatans wanting to make a quick buck have created one big mess.

Ancient texts are flooded with examples on how a person's destiny (if you believe in the concept of 'destiny'. I do. But not in Mr. Daruwalla's sense) has been changed with a combination of right thinking and right action. The Gita Itself says that one just has to do the required tasks at the right time with the right effort and attitude (no attachment to results).

Bottomline: If you believe in astrology and do want to go to an astrologer, please stay away from those who:
1) Put fear into you
2) Tell you that everything is pre-ordained
3) Lead you into thinking that unless you purchase some gem you will be ruined for life

Link to the news article here.
* The word religion itself is probably not the right word for Indic dharmas like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

For a Nintendo

Just interrupting the road trip updates to tell you about this:

"I want to say that those people drinking all that water can get sick and die from water intoxication," said the caller.

"Yeah, we're aware of that," replied a DJ. "They signed releases so we're not responsible, okay?"

A radio show where participants had to drink crazy loads of water, then hold their bladders in order to win some electronic gadget.

A contestant died.

Read about it here

Reminds me of a case in India some years back where a foolish fellow had a bet with his friend, gulped down boiling hot tea which internally burnt his intestines and died. The bet was worth Rs. 10 (~0.2$).

It's interesting to see why people take part in these kind of crazy acivities - including participants of reality shows who seem to love to throw away any kind of self-respect. Money? Fame? Challenge? Boredom? Maybe they feel they've been such losers in life that these activities give them an opportunity to 'prove' something. Crazy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Beholding God : Winter 2007 Road Trip - Update 1

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes
- Marcel Proust

Well, i did start off wanting to see new landscapes. And ended having new eyes. Let me start off with the grandest of the sights i saw on the trip (ever?) :
(click to enlarge photograph)
The picture above can never do justice to the what the eye saw and the mind now recalls. It can be a mind-altering experience. The scale, the age, the colour, the depth, the beauty, the form - it is adbhutam (wonderful), overwhelming.

One now appreciates slightly more what Arjuna would have experienced when Lord Krishna showed him His form:

Thereafter being overwhelmed with amazement, with his bodily hair standing on end due to great ecstacy; Arjuna with his body offerred obeisances unto Lord Krsna and began to speak with folded hands
- Bhagavad Gita, 11-14

Thoughts like these run through your mind and then you come across the following plaque and rub your eyes in disbelief:
Yes! The oldest layer of the Grand Canyon is named after Lord Vishnu!

Coincidence? Unlikely. Note use of 'Zoroaster' in the picture above beside 'Vishnu'. Seems like the Canyon is purposely named on spiritual lines. More on this with more photographs in the next post.