Friday, January 16, 2009

The Theory of Yoga

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

The theory of Yoga is almost same as Samkhya.. If Vedanta and Saamkhya is theory, then Yoga is Practical.. Knowledge, IMHO, can't be attained by any one single approach. This is the opinion of all the Astika schools.

Yog literally means Union.. It extensively deals with psychology and training which mind and body needs to be given for achievement of supreme knowledge.

It is defined as controlling the tendencies of Mind. (Yog: Chitta Vritti Nirodh:). Control need not necessarily mean oppression. Some times in some conditions, some tendencies need to be over-expressed. So it is relative, and should be governed by Dharma (righteousness and Duty, more fittingly basic nature, in terms of Yoga).

When, tendencies of mind are controlled, the characteristics of mind which is governed by Prakriti of three characteristics slowly change to neutral state of mind. This is called the process of going back towards birth (Prati-Prasava) of these tendencies.

eg. If a person gets angry too often, trying to get rid of this quality by suppressing anger is illogical. Instead, slowly, the quality is taken towards its birth. Finding out the root cause of why one gets angry, and trying to work on the cause. Slowly, the intensity of anger will reduce and eventually vanish. Thus, one Characteristic of the given mind is controlled. Similarly to all characteristics.

When all the characteristics of mind are controlled, person attains a state where the mind and the ego are dissolved. Because, Mind and Ego are said to be characteristics made up by Prakriti and Purusha. 

Hence, a seedless state of mind (Nirbeej Samadhi) is attained, where the existence of individual as mind, intellect, and separate identity vanishes and he becomes Kaivalya or Singularity. This is state of Liberation or Moksha - Liberation from one'e mind, body, intellect and even a sense of separate individual existence.

Kaivalya is not same as Ishwara.

Thus we see, Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta are mutually complementary to each other and belief in God does not matter. There are plenty of complications, though..

The aim of Samkhya-Yoga is to transcend the universe made up of Purush and prakriti made up of trigunas.

Not only the universe, but mind (manas), Intellect (buddhi), Ego as in sense of self (Ahamkar or Atman) are in the domain of tri-guNas. Samkhya-Yoga aims at attaining the stage of Kaivalya where the Sanskaras (attributes) of Prakriti-Purusha at all stages be dissolved.

Maanas to be dissolved in Buddhi.. Buddhi in Ahamkaar... and ahamkaar in Kaivalya...

Ishwar praNidhaan or Bhakti is one of the way of controlling the mind.. Ishwara of Patanjali is more about a psychological measure to control rein-free mind. Nothing more.. The PraNidhaan of Ishwar won't give you Moksha.. What is gained is stability of mind..

Instead of Ishwara, one can do praNidhaana/bhakti on donkey or whatever... controlling random thoughts by focussing on one thought is the concept... Donkey will give you peace of mind, if used as prescribed by Patanjali...

Controlled mind is essential for DharaNa (framework of mind for meditation)...Accomplished DhaaraNa is essential for Dhyaan (meditation) - Dhyaan is concentrating on one Desha (region or idea, nothing/Shunya)...When Dhyaan is accomplished, we experience Samaapatti (Samadhi). Samadhi is state where mind is in unison with subject of meditation. ..Samadhi gives some thing creative to seeker. Hence it depends upon what subject he chooses to meditate upon.

If subject is based on Tarka (logic), it is first stage of Samadhi.... If subject is based on Vichaara (thought/idea), which is refined form of Tarka, we attain second stage..... Samadhi without Vichaara is Nirvichaara Samadhi OR Sananda samadhi where person experiences bliss...

Beyond Saanand is Sam-Pragnyaat samadhi which involved awakening of Pragnaa, an intellectual faculty of mind. In common lingo, the MOMENT when an ORIGINAL IDEA strikes to a person, is the moment of 4th stage of samadhi.... Fifth stage is when a person attains Samadhi without having a need to entertain a thought in mind or intellect. This is one of the higher stages. 

However, this is not the highest. In all these stages, Prakriti is involved. In fifth stage, person is in unison with his SELF or ahamkaar or Aatman...

But this seed of "I" as separate identity still lingers.. Hence all these samadhis are known as Sabeej Samadhi (one with seed of identity). When a seeker's karma-vipaak is burnt, that is, when he has either nullified or experienced all his Karma, he attains the supreme Samadhi where this seed is lost. This is known as Nirbeej samadhi (Seedless Samadhi)....

What remains then, is Kaivayla...Singularity... person ceases to exist as separate ego and becomes Singularity...

Phylogenetic Clustering of Indian Philosophies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Phylogenetic Clustering of Indian philosophical schools

They originate from same culture and parent civilization. Hence, although they amongst themselves are different belief systems, they belong to same family and share lot of characteristics with each other. Lets perform a phylogenetic assessment of Indian religions. 

Shaiva and Vaishnava are different belief systems. however, they both accept the Vedic philosophy and authority. Although different religions, they belong to same family and are comparatively very close to each other, as compared to say Buddhism and Vaishnavism. Buddhism and Shaiva, although different belief systems, are comparatively very close to each other when compared to Buddhism and Islam.

Its like Gorilla, Chimpanzee and Humans, belong to same family and are genetically very close to each other. In fact, almost 98% of genetic similarity between chimps and humans. But, remaining 2 percent makes them different species. Hence they are clubbed under the family name of Hominidae. On the other hand, Tiger belongs to feline (Cat) family and is very far away from Hominids in terms of genetics. Even amongst the family Hominidae, Humans are more closer to Chimps than they are to gorillas. 

Similarly, Shaiva is more closer to Vaishnava, than it is to say Buddhism. Each of them are different species, but yet, we have such clusters on basis of common characters. This is not possible between a Cheetah and Orang-utan, just like it is not possible to cluster Jainism and Christianity.

Furthermore, if we extend this logic - say if an intelligent lion enters territory of hominids for the first time, with intent of conquest, he will identify everybody with similar characters as one group. Although if he is smart enough he will observe the difference between Human and chimp, but, since him aim is conquest and all of them are his enemies, he will cluster them as hominids :-
Just like Islam clubbed Indian religions as Hindu, simplicity for persecution.

There was no need for clustering between Humans, Chimps, Gorillas, Orang-utans, Bonobos when they were living amongst themselves. Everybody knew and identified their own kind. It was only after the encounter with member from whole different family, who came with intent of conquest and conversion of ape land to cat-land, did this necessity arise.

There were other conquerors like Greeks, Kushans, Huns, Scythians, they came, they won, lost, got assimilated in one of the many philosophical schools of India eventually. Muslims came to change the identity of the India as Islamic land, not just to cherry-pick India's wealth. Hence need of clustering. 

However, in retrospect, that makes sense, because, all the species of Ape land are in fact very close to each other and have similar genetic and behavioural patterns in some respect and different in some other respect.Hence when comparing with members of other families, it makes sense to treat them as one family, instead of separate species, because, there are so many of different species of Hindu religions, that it just becomes too complex if we treat this at species level.

Hence the term Hindu religions OR Dharmic religions. Hindu denotes a family, not a individual species which is has name as the family in modern times. Hindu is synonymous to Indian in Persian.

Better understanding of evolution will tell that this is simplification to have better resolution of extreme complexity. The differences between Saamkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Buddhism, Jainism and others are too subtle for a crude eye of an outsider to understand. Furthermore, all these school of thoughts, started as intellectual movement by a person or group of person having a different take on nature of universe, but coming from same background. Buddha himself was a Kshatriya and by that standards, he must have learnt Vedas and other vedic philosophy existing prior to him in his formative years. Same is the case with Mahavir. Using this education, they built a different opinion about universe. 

Hence the similarities. Differences are due to their different takes on the issue.

Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithya

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Brahma satyam, jagat mithya is one of the hallmarks of Adi shankara's philosophy. The usage of jagat being Mithya is later, an addition by Adi Shankara. There is reference of the world being referred to as a MithyA entity by any of his predecessors.

The meaning of this popular phrase is beautifully enfolded when we look at the acutual meanings of the term involved. The terms involved in the phrase are-

Brahman - ब्रह्मन - literally, it means one which expands.

Brahman is the most fundamental physical entity which makes up universe.Using modern physical terms as an analogy, it can be said that quantum fields which is hypothesized to make up everything in universe is Brahman. Now quantum fields may or may not be brahman.If it is proven that quatum fields do make up everything in this world including space-time and dimensions then it will be proven that quantum field is Brahman.If not, then perhaps there something even more fundamental in this universe than quantum fields.

It was just that they expected, just like modern physicists, universe is madeup of some fundamental entity. Indian philosophers did not inquire into the physical nature of that fundamental entity. Practically, it was impossible as they were bronze age people with bronze age technology. Hence they simply named this expected fundamental physical entity as Brahman, without inquiring much about its nature.

Satyam - one which is eternal, changeless and existent

Jagat (Universe/World)- This is an interesting term to think upon.

Jagat - Ja + Ga
Ja - jaayate (to arise, originate, born)
ga - gamana: - ga - (one which goes/moves or changes)

It means, one which is born (janana) out of gati (speed/change) is Jagata: That is Universe is said to have come into existent due out of constant change.

Mithya - has word root as 'Mith'. This is the most interesting and illuding term on this phrase.

As given by Apte Sanskrit Online dictionary, Mith - to associate with; to unite; to hurt; to understand; to wrangle; to grasp

Thus, when we apply these meanings to the phrase Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithya, following meanings are deduced.

1) Brahman is existent, jagat is associated (with Brahman)
2) Brahman is Existent, jagat is united (with Brahman)
3) Brahman is existent, jagat is hurt (does not make sense)
4) Brahman is existent, jagat is understood by (brahman)
5) Brahman is existent, jagat is wrangled/tended/herded (by brahman) (wrangle = to herd, to tend)
6) Brahman is existent, jagat is grasped by brahman

The popular translation of Brahman is truth and world is false is in fact a disbelief.I guess the word root Mith which makes up the word MithyA, is also the word root for Mithuna and Maithuna (sexual intercourse), which again is related to union or being associated with.

When translated all the words, the phrase becomes-

"That one which originates/exists due to constant change (jagat) is associated with/United with/being tended by (mithyA) Brahman which is changeless existence (satya) - Brahma Satyam, jagat MithyA..."

There is one more meaning of word MithyA - to be made up/ to fall in place. 

Perhaps the word Mith is originated from same Proto-Indo-European ancestor which also makes up the greek word (mythos). Mythos also means to be made up. From Mythos comes Mythology. 

When applied this meaning, the phrase translates as

"That which arises out of change (jagat) is a phenomenon of things falling in place/made up, where as Brahman is changeless existence."

There is a catch though. This meaning is not corroborated from any online sanskrit dictionary, but I distinctly remember reading it in some authentic source. 

Furthermore, the interpretation of word Mithya determines whether a person is advaitin OR dvaitin OR vishishtadvaitin.

If Mithya is taken as United, then a person is advaitin (brahman and jagat are united and satya).  This is in sync with Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma (everything that exists is Brahman)

If mithya is takes as association, then the person is vishishtadvaitin. (brahman is satya and jagat is associated with satya, but not completely satya). 

If mithya is taken as wrangled (to tend), then, he becomes a dvaitin (brahman is satya, jagat is being wrangled/tended/herded (by brahman)). Here, World is being herded by the separate herder that is God.

Thus we can see, differential interpretation of this phrase by Shankara eventually ends up in conjuring vastly different world views towards life and universe. I pay my homage to great genious, Adi Shankaracharya...

Understanding Vedas - evolutionary historical view-point

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Vedas are written in stages by Vedic people who were mostly pastorals settled in region of Punjab. Linguistic study coupled with geological studies of Saraswati-ghaggar basin, archaeological findings of IVC and SSC, all these things suggest that Vedic people composed Vedic literature over the span of about 1000 years. The fact that vedas are written in stages can also be proven by means of archaeoastronomy. Vedas, at different stages mention beginning of monsoon on different stars ((nakshatras). So, using that data, the probable time and interval between those two can be deduced by calculating back the data of modern planetary motion.

Roughly from 2200 BC to 1200 BC. Mandal 2 to Mandal 6 of Rigveda are considered as Family Mandals and are composed earlier than rest of the Vedic literature. Mandal 10 is the latest composition as the sanskrit in Mandal 10 is very similar to post Kapila Sanskrit and not very much similar to the one from mandal 2-6. Thus, we see a gradient of composition and changes in language.

Such philosophical inquiry, without the prejudice of GODDIDIT, shows an existence of free thinking society which in turn shows an existence of a settled life. Such questions are not asked by people who have to struggle everyday to get food. Only a society whose material needs are taken care of finds enough free time to contemplate on such subjects which otherwise are worthless. With stability and prosperity, man tends to think more rationally about supernatural and divine. Not in times of adversity.

10th Mandala of Rigveda is the most recent of all the mandalas. Hence 10th mandala is considered contemporary to time of around 1200-1300 BC. The 6 darshans were composed later, starting with Samkhya in 1000 BC and last is Advaita, dvaita and vishisitadvaita in 700's AD, 1100's and 1200's AD. Buddhism propounded in 500's BC along with Jain thought. The date of Paranjali and Yoga is not known, but given its similarity with Buddhism and long association with Samkhya, it was around 700 BC (this is my personal opinion though). Krishna yajurveda (taittiriya samhita) is considered to be composed around 1300-1100 BC. dates of Sam and atharvadeva irrelevant in this topic.

So, in that frame of reference, what they had and what we know for sure they had was first 9 mandalas of rigveda. This is the literature they had in hand and that literature does speak of gods and demi gods but does not inquire about creation. Nasadiya shows this first OR rather second Inquiry towards the concept of creation of Universe. And in this first inquiry, they put forth their agnostic views.

Interesting thing is, Vedas show the first instance of the process of peer-review. As I said, vedas were composed over time of 1000 years. So anything that was being incorporated in Vedas must have been extensively peer-reviewed by other contemporary sages. Only after a stringent peer-review, a particular sukta must have been given a place in Vedas, hence such a high reverence towards Vedas is seen. It is the large database of peer-reviewed opinions in literature of ancient India.

Today, this database has increased with lot many different and logical and proven explanations of things than Vedas. Hence, according to the Nyaya approach SHOULD include modern scientific literature as Shruti. There are opinions in shruts which are contradictory to each other, and same is in science. Both are essential because one never knows which opinion will trigger a new discovery of an idea or a philosophy in future.

Furthermore, Shrutis talk about Asambhuti and Sambhuti and Vidya and Avidya. and recommends that both should be learnt. Learning just one of them leads to a terrible downfall says Ishopanishat.So, scientific literature dealing with jagat(material world) which is associated with brahman, can be considered as shruti as well. Perhaps more stringent peer-review to be applied to avidya than to vidya, if we apply the algorithm provided to us by Nyaya system of logic. 

Anthropologically, people were updating Vedas for thousand years. Afterwards they stopped their growth and the practice of updating the database and conjured up the idea of Apaurusheyatva (Divine origin, which is ludicrous, BTW). This led to people gradually getting overly ritualistic and arrogant in next 400 years and Buddha came and cleaned the mess. The world was 500 years ahead of the point where Vedas had stopped updating themselves. 

Of course, the oral traditions have their weaknesses. A point comes when either you have to stop somewhere as there is limit to memorizing power of humans. Or delete the old files and make room for new ones. Thankfully, they did not delete anything. So they had to stop. Perhaps this may be one of the reasons. Of course, every civilization has to fall down, as there always is a generation OR two which spoil everything achieved by the ancestors. This is a general trend of history. It can also happen due to some adversary, natural or man-made. But there are no evidences for any natural or man-made adversaries from 1000 BC to 500BC, which were strong enough to bring about such a radical change. So I assume decadence was one of the major factors.

Vedas stopped expanding around 1000 BC. Saamkhya philosophy of Kapila originated around 1000 BC. However, by that time, society was already growing rigid and ritualistic. The mahajanapadas had sprung up and decadence was seen widely amongst Vedic people. Nothing creative is known to have happened from 800 BC to 500 BC when Buddha arrived. The arrival of Buddha marked the end of classical Vedic age and beginning of a evolution of a new school of philosophical schools which today make up the conglomerate of Hinduism.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Memetics and Islam

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Let me treat this problem of Islam using the science of memetics. A Meme is an entity capable of multiplying with change and spread. All ideas are memes.

Islam is an idea. it originated from Muhammad and then spread. The moment it left mohammad, he lost the monopoly on that idea. He told it to people. It is not mandatory that people took it exactly the way he told. Different people perceive different experiences differently.. Thus, if say 10 people were first given that idea, in all probabilities, 10 people assimilated the same idea in 10 different ways. Thus we have 10 variants of same idea. So on and so forth.

Now, not all people can devise their own variant. So they follow one of the established variant of an idea. With time, new variants are created, few of old one's get extinct, few of them evolve further and all of this exist in complex dynamic equilibrium with other ideas which are competing with the one under consideration. For example, the sufi variant of Islam was treated with warmth by followers of Hindu variants as compared to the purist ones. And there are many complex factors working in favour or against a particular idea.

So now we have for example two variants of original idea in given space-time. One is liberal, other is conservative. In given circumstances, the variant which will ensure the sustainance of the idea optimally, is selected. In countries where Islam is minority, liberal variant of idea should be selected ideally. Because if the conservative one is followed aggressively, the local majority who have their own ideas which according them are the best and worth dying for, get offended and vicious cycle sets in.

Same thing happens when we eradicate a disease. It is impossible to kill each and every bacteria. What is done is that the proliferation of non-pathogenic variants/mutants/strains of bacteria is encouraged over pathogenic one. So the pathogenic variant dies out and equilibrium sets in.

1)There are such non-fanatical variants of Islam available.

2) These non-fanatical variants DO NOT follow Quran literally. For example, few of the finest artists in subcontinent were Muslims. Music and fine-arts. If Islam is followed in purest (strict Quranic) interpretation then these geniuses won't exist. These people have played very important role in creating and maintaining harmony of majority Hindus with Muslims because of shared experiences which foster sense of belonging.

3) According to me suppressing the artistic blooms in heart of sensitive and creative person is one of the most cruel things. Islam in purest variant, does not allow emergence of people like Ustad amir khan, Mohd Rafi, Nusrat fateh ali khan, Ghulam ali and many others, whose existence have helped a lot in creating an armosphere of harmony which allows the existence of Islam in Hindu India.

4) Same goes with painting, along with modern variant of photography. We feel bad on seeing the photo of lost loved ones, but we feel good as well, it is a subjective experience which differs with mood of the experiencer. This is no way an excuse of prohibiting the portrayal any worldly objects, which Islam does.

5) What do the followers of these liberal variants of Islam do? They overlook the nasty part in original idea (Quran) which does not allow zillion things. Honestly, the Don't Do list in Quran is so huge that if followed at its best, you really get medieval society like Taliban.

6) Followers of liberal variants overlook most of the things in Do not do list, and follow only those which are feasible for their optimal growth and sustainance. This means, they have ability and intellect to choose what is right for them in conditions they live in. This is the basis of rationalism.

7) In their heart they know that it is fallacy to say that Quran is infallible and that it applies to all people in all lands in all times, which is not the case. IMO, it is pure arrogance which does not allow any modification. This facilitates misinterpretation.

My solution - Religion should not be organized. It should be personal. Religion in modern times should deal with spirituality alone and nothing else. We have separate codes which are consistent with modern times for governing the behaviour of society. Like Constitution, penal code, and cultural ethics of local population. 

Religion should not pervade anything beyond the domain of spirituality. It should NOT discuss the rules for marriage, love, sexual orientation, crime and punishment, dress code, language, script, profession, taxes, human rights (including women's rights), behaviour with people not following one's ideology, work culture, study culture etc.

There are elaborate laws available to address all these problems. which are different in different lands and cultures and are best suited for existence there. Follow them for questions pertaining to ANYTHING APART FROM sprituality, which is extremely personal endeavour. It is one's personal business alone, nobody else's. 

Such variants of Islam are existing in form of many educated and moderate muslims which keep Islam just to themselves, just like Hindu, and uses it only for spiritual aspects, if any, in his life. For anything other than personal spiritual upliftment, they rely on law of land. These variants must be encouraged so that they outgrow the fanatical ones which try to influence every aspect of human life without consideration of space and time. 

And this applies to every religious idea. Just that most of the ideas in most of the countries have allowed this modification or are in process of doing so.. The only exception being Islam.