Saturday, December 12, 2009


DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,

For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

The Divine Sonnet X is a well-known religious poem by John Donne. I have reproduced only a part of it above. I have chosen this famous title for my note because death has also chosen me to be its representative, its champion.

One very strange phenomenon that has repeated many times in my life so far is that whenever I have tried to help a sick and troubled individual, man or animal, it has died soon after. This could be a common experience with all since death is normal irrespective of the help and medical aid provided. Maybe I am making an issue out of it. Then again, maybe not.

Let me recount a few instances. The latest ones first. During the past four week I have carried two stray dogs in injured condition to the vet. One of them was a 10 day old puppy. It had its ear bitten off, rot had set in and there was a big hole on its skin just besides the eye. It was shivering and crying in the cold early morning when I found it. Initially I walked past it, stopped and turned back. It came to me with its small steps, sat down near my feet and was sobbing in pain. After a few minutes of arguing with myself I committed the silly mistake of picking it up and bringing it home. The crying stopped after I picked it up but I had a tough time trying to avoid seeing the hole where its ear stood. I gave it some milk and placed it inside a bucket because it was moving around. On route to my office I handed it over to the SPCA hospital. About a month back I sighted a grown up stray dog with one of its front leg chopped off and the bone jutting out into the sunlight. It was limping on its other legs. It took me 24 fours to muster the foolishness to decide. Decision was to help the dog. I took a string and a pack of Parle glucose and went near the dog. It looked as if the dog wanted to help me because it had placed itself near my car and did not trouble me trying to look for it. One by one it ate the biscuits that I offered and allowed me to touch its head and back. Snatching one opportunity I held both its jaws and tied the string around its mouth to shut it. It started crying when I tried to pick it up. With the help of a few office staff I got it picked up and placed inside the car and went straight to the SPCA hospital. Today I learnt that both the dogs died. The elder one was operated upon so as to cut off some part of the bone to bring the skin over it and stitched. It survived three weeks in the hospital, could have died because of the shock, the pain and the loneliness. The pup had full grown maggots inside which had penetrated the head. It died as soon as it was taken to the table for cleaning.

I am a member of the Japanese Buddhist group called the Bharat Soka Gakkai. The members involve themselves in chanting for courage, wisdom and peace and happiness for one’s own self and for others. Chanting for the sick is a regular feature. On two separate occasions during the past two years when I joined in for the improvement in the health condition of a sick member, the individuals died. Of course these members had some illness and disease and for arguments sake they could have died in the normal course of advancement of the disease. However there are numerous instances of people who have come back from the doors of death by chanting and struggling with a hope to survive. Somehow I have identified my presence in the group as a sore thumb. After that I have stopped chanting for the health of others. The occasions were forgotten until today when I learnt about the death of the two dogs.

Repeated occurrence of similar events cannot be put down to chance and coincidence. Whether I seek death or whether death seeks me, whichever way you look at it, there seem to be a bonding.


Failure is not something to dread, rather it is something to appreciate. It teaches us valuable lessons. There is always a positive message in failures which we ignore at our own risk. Failure is not the plague which leads us to destruction. However the ways of the world are such that the contrary is accepted.

For one, failure teaches us humility. It grounds us to the basic reality of our life. Many a times we wish to overlook our reality and assume certain capabilities or talents, living as if in some dream. We take on undue volumes of stress in our life trying to live up to our high expectations. We take pride in our efforts banking heavily on the idiom ‘nothing is impossible’. Pride precedes a fall they say and sooner or later we have to stumble. Such a fall can either wreck or enhance our lives. The latter happens when we accept who we are with all our limitations and not so good characteristics. Humbleness shifts the focus towards our inherent weakness and makes us introspect. Humbleness tells whether to life with our weakness or to overcome it. It also tells us how to overcome it. Humbleness teaches us to appreciate all the minor goodness in others. Humbleness places us in the right perspective and shows us our true place in the world. Nature or God has created a place for everything and has a role for everything in its own place. When humans do not accept the regulation of nature, tries to take law in its own hand, they create problems for themselves and disturb the balance of nature. It would be better if we, accepting our lives, serve the purpose which nature has ordained for us and in the process create happiness and harmony for one and all.

Second, failure is the message which life gives us saying that something better is in store for us. The two very important guides which help us understand the message are; Nothing Happens Without A Reason and Whatever Happens, Happens For The Good. When we analyse our failure over a subsequent period of time, the facts never fail to dawn that we are better off because of our past failure. For instance, I have seen on one occasion that I was held up in a prolonged meeting unable to reach another scheduled meeting in time. After the first meeting ended where a lot was achieved I learnt that the second meeting was postponed for some reason not related to my absence. It requires patience, it requires acceptance, it requires a positive attitude, and most important of all it requires faith in our own life. Failures, not one but many, it is said are the stepping stones for success. Higher the destination, more the steps. Stronger the success, worse the failures. To go through such failures also builds strength of character.

There is a reason why I am writing this piece. For the past one year I have been trying to get an admission into some institution for further studies. First I tried social service and the institutions I had applied for were TISS and IRMA. No success. Next I tried for a PhD and the institutions I had applied for were IIM and IIT. No success again. I have not been able to get past the entrance test in two of the instances. Where I got past the entrance obstacle, they rejected me in the interview. The results made me sad no doubt. But life has other better plans about which I am not aware now. I am certain that the world is waiting for a Suman Bose to happen. Meanwhile I am learning humility now, the hard way. Strange are the teaching methods of life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tibetans in India

Last Saturday I attended a talk by Karme Galec a first generation Tibetan settled in India. He is the Chairman, Tibetan Local Assembly, Tibet Camp, Gottangaon, Bhandara, Maharashtra state, India. Listening to a mongoloid feature for the first time in life was somewhat unsettling because I am told that we the Bose’s are also of mongoloid descent. Phew!

My apprehension however was unjustified. A simpleton farmer but at the same time very rugged. A people who do not comprehend the remarkable value of what they have created and achieved for their community. A people with ultimate reverence and gratefulness for their leader the Dalai Lama.

Karme Galec spoke about hardship being faced by his people inside Tibet where they are not allowed to practice their religion and worship images of the Dalai Lama. He insisted and reiterated several times that Tibet was willing to remain a part of China but with some autonomy. He even added that India would never feel secure until Tibet was made a buffer against prospective Chinese invasion. He described at length about their migration from Tibet in 1959 exactly 50 years ago. His people came into Maharashtra in the month of March and how due to the sudden exposure to new climate with oppressive heat many thousands died. Slowly over the years they learnt to acclimatize. Initially they were provided with rocky and forest land. Slowly they cleared the land and made it cultivable. Today in the Vidarbha region they are only community of farmers which is thriving and is being spoken of as a role model. There has been farmer’s suicide all around except the Tibetan settlement. The Tibetans also take loans for their agriculture but their repayments have been exemplary. They stand out as positive megastars when there is defeat and pessimism all around. They value education highly and every Tibetan child is educated. The intelligent and studious amongst them work for their Tibetan Parliament in exile at Dharmshala Himachal Pradesh. No child has so far shifted to US or Europe for his or her own personal development he claimed. There are 24 settlements of Tibetans considering India, Bhutan and Nepal together and most of them are in India. These settlements nominate candidate for the Tibetan parliament in exile. This Parliament takes care of their needs and follows a democratic style of functioning. I believe that is democracy which they experience and want to continue with along with religious freedom could be main obstacles in their negotiations with China.

The Tibetan Parliament has so far interacted 8 times with Chinese authorities and the last one was in 2008. They have provided the Chinese with all their requirements but no positive response is forthcoming. To my mind it is not possible for the Chinese to yield to all the requirements of the Tibetans. China is still run with a iron fist which does not tolerate diversity of opinion. Even expression of the differences is taboo. It is but natural that if Tibetans are allowed some sort of freedom then the other parts of China will also wake up and make their own demands. That would be a sure shot route to the disintegration of the country. Maybe the Tibetans will have to wait out the disintegration of China from inside pressure. It may take a few more decades.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Which one do you think is easy, to give love or to receive love? One would say to receive love is simple and easy. One only has to take the good wishes and gifts from another. But I beg to differ. My take on this is that on the contrary it is very difficult to receive love. One can be called a master in love only when one is adept at receiving as well as giving love.

Love is not only about good words and good deeds and good presents. Love is also about feelings and intensions. It is also about faith, hope, and surrender. It is also about behavior, expressions, open mindedness and acceptance.

Two people need not do or express about a single thing in a similar manner. Two people need not feel about a single thing in a similar manner. My way of expressing love could be viewed as interference by you. Your view of expressing love could be viewed as indifference by me. The giver of love proceeds with his activity thinking that he is showering love. But the receiver need not reciprocate the same feeling.

Let me explain this with an example. Yogi loves his sister Bali very much. Bali also adores her brother. Bali has an irritating habit of cleaning where ever she sees an opportunity irrespective of whether the place has already been cleaned. Whenever Bali visits her brother’s home, she takes out a rag and starts cleaning any place like the kitchen platform, the dining table, the dressing table, the furniture, windows and even the toilet. For Bali it is an expression of love for her brother. However Yogi feels hurt that his sister sees his house unclean. Take another example. Rajiv is an engineering student. His father Sukant is the professor for physics in the same collage. Sukant is an excellent teacher and is highly loved and respected by the students and colleagues. Once due to over-confidence Rajiv fails a crucial class test and becomes depressed. Sukant trying not to aggravate the situation does not react and wishes to give Rajiv some space to contemplate the reasons for failure. Rajiv feels hurt by the silence and feels that his father does not approve of him. He gets further alienated. Take a third example. Sukanya sees her younger brother Rahul along with his friends bunking class. She feels that her brother should avoid such friends and concentrate on his studies. So that evening Sukanya tells their father about the activities of Rahul. On returning home that night Rahul gets a thrashing and cut in his pocket money. He wonders how his sister could be so mean minded when he was only outside the class because the teacher was absent.

To be able to receive love with the right understanding requires acceptance of the intention of the giver. The mode and method could be different. The words and behavior could be different. The facial expression and body language could be different. None of these could match up the receivers own standards. But if the receiver finds that the intention of the giver is pure, selfless and honest then it should be accepted with humility and a gracious smile.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


There is a constant tussle between our heart and our mind every second of our life which we don’t recognize. Most of us don’t seem to see it that way. We hardly ever believe it to be so.

While the mind represents our discretionary abilities, judgment and decision making capabilities, to control or be controlled by emotions and desires, the heart represents our soul and life force energy. While the mind is volatile and scheming, the heart is peaceful and unassuming, unpretentious. While the mind is materialistic and religious, the heart is plain spiritual.

To borrow from the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln, “The tussle between the heart and the mind is the tussle of life, for life and by life”. Chasing the objective of a better life, the heart and the mind have their own perspective of looking at it. Each adopts a different interpretation for the word ‘happiness’. Each has a different direction.

The mind desires, cultivates ambitions, wants to learn from the past and plans for the future. It dislikes losing and adores accumulation of money, assets, reputation, etc. It seeks pleasure and comforts and abhors pain, discomfort. It is easily influenced by fear, anger and can take to unfair means to achieve.

The heart simply likes to enjoy the moment, the present one. It wants to enjoy and spread the enjoyment around. It values freedom of every kind and would strive for a smile on every face. It fears nothing. It has nothing to lose. It displays a complete detachment and disinterest in worldly possessions.

While the mind sees itself as an island different from the sea, the heart sees no difference between the two. While the mind wants a distinct identity the heart seeks to surrender itself. While the mind limits itself to this life time the heart can visualize the eternity of life.

Mind is the ego. It has a name, an identity. Another aspect of identity is the body associated with the name. Happiness is all about sense pleasure. Since the body has an age limit, the mind is in a hurry to acquire all kinds of means to happiness like fame, reputation, money, property, and other comfort providing tools and equipments. It therefore fears not-getting or losing such means to happiness.

Heart which is our soul wishes to unite with the universal soul or the universal energy. It sees itself as a part of the creation. Therefore it has nothing but love to offer to every other form of creation. It wishes to break away from the bonds of life and death, the continuity of karma and the need to exist in a body.

Therefore there is always a tussle between the heart and the mind, between love and fear, between surrender and self ego. We have a choice and we always make the choice. The life that we lead is a result of our own choice.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Drinking from my saucer

Such a beautiful poem that was sent to me on my birthday. It made me so happy.

Drinking from my saucer

I've never made a fortune, and it's probably too late now.
But I don't worry about that much, I'm happy anyhow
And as I go along life's way, I'm reaping better than I sowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, 'Cause my cup has overflowed.

Haven't got a lot of riches, and sometimes the going's tough
But I've got loving ones all around me, and that makes me rich enough.
I thank God for his Blessings, and the Mercies he's bestowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, 'Cause my cup has overflowed.

I remember times when things went wrong, my faith wore somewhat thin.
But all at once the dark clouds broke, and the sun peeped through again.

So Lord, help me not to gripe, about the tough rows I have hoed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, 'Cause my cup has overflowed.

If God gives me strength and courage, when the way grows steep and rough.
I'll not ask for other blessings, I'm already blessed enough.

And may I never be too busy, to help others bear their loads.
Then I'll keep drinking from my saucer, 'Cause my cup has overflowed.

When I think of how many people in this world have it worse than I do, I realize just how BLESSED I really am.

by John Paul Moore

Monday, November 16, 2009


Not that I am very happy or that I am not unhappy. I am also learning about life on a daily basis. Trying to keep my head above the water is a daily routine task. A few principles that I have understood and adopted to avoid unhappiness are;

(a) 1. Do that which interests you and be interested in what you do

Do the work which is of interest to you. Of course for that you have to know yourself and recognize the work which interests you. Money is not the criteria to choose profession or vocation. Money would flow from any kind of work. M. F. Hussian, Amitabh Bachhan, Michael Jackson, Bill Gates, Mukesh Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar are all involved in different fields and each collects crores for his work. There are plenty of such examples closer to home also. A common trait in all such people is the unlimited love, dedication and passion for their work. They follow a tough discipline along with childlike enthusiasm and focus for their work. Inspite of years put into it, for such people every new occasion is a moment of truth, moment of learning, moment of nervousness. Such is their love towards what they can give to others as joy, thrill, comfort, enjoyment or pleasure. As against that are those who spend a life time doing work which do not interest them, spreading unhappiness and pain all around.

(b) 2. Don’t try to be somebody who you don’t resemble from the inside

Be true to yourself; whatever you are; good or bad; intelligent or stupid; cunning or simple. Somebody said that ‘stress in when your mouth opens to say yes while heart wants to say no’. Stress creates unhealthy environment, scope for errors and majorly leads towards crime and deceit. Projecting an image and protecting that image is like constructing buildings in the air, without any foundation. Such structures are bound to fall and when that happens there are ruins and sadness all around.

(c) 3. Do not fear anything and accept everything that comes your way

There is a saying in Marathi, “Thevile ananthe, tashachi rahawe; chitti asudyawe samadhan”! A translation would be like this, ‘Accept your surroundings as has been given to you by the almighty, let your heart and mind be contended’. It is very crucial to understand that our surroundings are whatever they are because we have called for it and created it for ourselves. We always get what we deserve and not necessarily what we desire. Another way of looking at it is that these situations have been given to us to experience and cross ahead. Life is a journey for us to learn to love everything around us. All events good and bad happen to us so that we learn to love and be compassionate. Therefore whatever happens always happens for the good. There is nothing to fear because we lose nothing during our life time in this world. We are part of everything and everything is a part of us. The feelings of expectations and suffering of loss or success remains only a feeling and that to for a temporary period. Our attachment to such emotions only creates unhappiness for us. Success makes us want more success which creates fear of failure. Loss makes us want to avoid such mishappenings and we fear them too. All fear is unhealthy. Somebody has said, ‘Fear attracts like a magnet’.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


America is changing and how. President Obama tells the UN, “those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.” This transformation of character from a war mongering nation to an ordinary nation is too gross to miss. An American citizen could be pardoned for asking, ‘what’s wrong with America, why is it behaving like a sheep’. But to the rest of the world, nobody seems to be hiding a wide grin anymore. Was this expected? Osama would agree.

The president’s statement shy's from confessing that the entire task of policing the world which was self undertaken by America has really backfired. It creates an impression that America at the request of the League of Nations was policing the world. It had no interest of its own, what so ever. In case anybody feels so, to their information, there could be nothing farther from the truth. American interest in the Gulf is primarily oil. Oil for its big cars and big industries. To keep its huge economy rolling it had to have a full leg inside the oil barrel. American interest in other parts of the world is to protect its economy. Japan and South Africa are great allies and an important trade partners. South East Asia up to Australia is buyers of American products and also trade partners. UK is a dear friend and a source of funds to prop up its economy. America has valuable assets to protect in the form of the stability of all these countries and therefore it has to maintain a military presence across the globe. Till a decade ago it feared the USSR to topple its economy by distracting some of its allies. Now it fears China. Sadly it failed to realize that power which has fear at its base cannot last very long. Rome collapsed.

America lost on two fronts. On the external front to overcome disruption in oil supply, it created the famous brand called ‘axis of evil’ and launched a 24 hours bombing spectacle. These events hurt innocent people who were trapped inside the war zone and created an endless list of enemies. On the internal front the fear of loss and economic failure spurted people to transcend the ethical line on subprime mortgage. The day it was discovered, the fall of the global financial system started. People inside the USA as well as in other countries were shocked at the extent of mal-intent that was allowed to perpetrate. The US citizens lost confidence in their own self. The world citizen lost faith in America. Both these crises set every other country and its entire people against America and all that it stood for. But proud and powerful as it was, it took some time to bend and stand to its knees. Which it has! Speaking for myself, I would like to forgive America for all its past follies provided it vacates Afghanistan and forgives Osama Bin Laden. Osama’s act of 9/11 should be seen as retaliation against American destructive activities and not as an affront. America should learn and start with a clean slate. Forgiveness begets forgiveness, love begets love. It should realize that if it does not adopt this now, it will be forced in time to do so by nature, nobody needs to lift a finger against them.

West being the west as we all know, it is very improbable that America will quit Afghanistan on its own and will have to be kicked out. But before that happens, the good man Barak Obama, who psychologically and philosophically belong to the west as much as chicken butter masala belongs to England, would be liquidated. His type of attitude and thinking will not be tolerated for too long by the brash and impractical American. Lets’ wait and watch.

Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion

I was given this book by a very dear and good individual after a brief altercation on the relationship between religion and science. The book is a best - seller and the author Richard Dawkins is a famous biologist.

To be fair to Richard Dawkins I started out with a negative bias against him. I wanted to find holes in his arguments right from the first line. But I gave up the efforts after the initial few pages. I found that he was also writing with a biased frame of mind and there are numerous instances to prove that. It is like when your elders keep on telling you about the benefits of not consuming alcohol and the harm caused by drinking alcohol, you make up your mind to taste it more out of rebellion than to investigate whether the elders are right about the effects of alcohol on the body. You have already made up your mind that the elders are not right and there is nothing wrong with alcohol. Richard Dawkins seems to nurture certain animosity deep inside towards the activities of the Christian faith which he himself fails to recognize.

Richard Dawkins simply concentrates on the western concept of physical God. He concentrates on Christianity. To him Buddhism is not a religion but a philosophy of life. He does not bother to go into details of what Jesus said but restricts himself to what the church and ordinary folks do in the name of religion. He is against the practices as well as the tall claims in the name of religion. I have nothing against any of his arguments. I myself do not believe in an external God. Religion to me is inside the body and inside the mind. So, I am in total agreement with and supportive of Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins makes a valiant attempt, using all the force of argument at his disposal along with thoughts from every published material available till date, to put forth his conclusion that God does not exist. The sincerity of his efforts does not miss the eyes of the reader and he cannot but applaud Richard Dawkins for this. To me the fallacy of this effort is first the western world makes every attempt to create a physical God and then suffers at the hands of another westerner who guns it down. Such a waste of time for everyone.

Interestingly Richard Dawkins does not have put forth any alternate theory on God and the creator except for saying that ‘the origin of life was the chemical event or series of events whereby the vital conditions for natural selection first came about’. According to him after that chemical event took place the postulates of Charles Darwin known as natural selection took over. Thankfully or disappointingly (depending on which side of the border you stand) Richard Dawkins stays close to science and restricts himself to knowledge that is known. He hopes that one day physics will produce something as powerful as Darwinism and he will stand vindicated.

Being such a capable man, Richard Dawkins could have contributed a lot more had he dwelt on the psychological and emotional need for religion in the life of human beings. Then he could have blasted a lot of myths from across the world and churned out the real essence of what religion means. However he dwells on vague and artificial reasons for the need of religion which to me seemed like a deliberate attempt to ridicule. To that extent I am a bit disappointed with Richard Dawkins.

But the book is important and should be written so as to balance the ideas which are circulating in the western world in the name of religion. All youngsters should read the book so that they develop an unbiased and fearless view about life and more important that they realize that it is perfectly normal to carry and express a view which goes contrary to the popular view.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


What is meditation? Meditation is being in the present moment. Any act that we do, when we do it with our mind and heart, with all attention and awareness, it is meditation. Let us take the simple act of eating. Invariably I chose eating since it is a favorite activity for me. For all of us, after a certain age, eating is no novelty. We eat like a zombie. We eat irrespective of whether we are hungry. We eat whatever is offered in front. We eat while watching the television, reading the newspaper and even while talking. We take eating for granted, it becomes like an instinctive act. The finger touches the food and places it inside the mouth. By the time we swallow the first, the next bite is waiting at the door of the mouth. While at home we hardly realize the taste of the food not to say anything about the hard work that has gone behind the preparation of the meal. The body feeds itself while the mind is busy with other important activities.

But suppose we start eating with full awareness. What would it seem like? We should involve all our five senses in the process. Let us look at the chapatti first. It is whitish brown in colour. A hot chapatti has an aroma which is sweet and earthen at the same time. We touch it to see that it is soft at some places and brittle especially on the surface. We tear it open, touch it to the dal and place it inside the mouth. The taste is neutral, just sufficient salt and sweet. It’s different. Either the dal or the sabzi tastes better with the chapatti or may be the chapatti tastes better with dal or sabzi. Whichever way, who cares when the combination tastes so great. The crunching and chewing creates its own sound which is music to the ears. Hmmmm…..! This is bliss, this is happiness, and this is paradise. And to think of it that we get such a wonderful moment atleast two times a day, day after day. If only we were aware!

Now let’s take our awareness a little deeper. Before the chapatti landed on our plate, it was in the form of flour. Somebody with a lot of love and caring kneaded it and tossed it over the tawa before it became perfect. It has to be perfect in all corners because a half baked chapatti does not taste so good. So either a mother, or a wife, or a sister, or a cook put in a lot of hard work to make this for us. Let’s go further deep. Before it became flour, it was in the form of wheat grain and lay in sacks in factory godowns. It had to be lifted and carried by labour to the grinding mill, where it was converted to flour and packed by machines. Before the grain came to the factory, the grain was with the wholesale merchant’s godown again being handled by labour. Before the wholesale merchant, the grain was chaffed and cleaned by the farmer and his family. Even before that, it was in the field, drenching in the rain, in knee deep irrigation water and with the farmer bending on his back, protecting it from insects and watching it grow. A lot of people have spent very valuable time and energy to see to it that the chapatti comes to our plate. We should be aware of them and be thankful and grateful to them with each and every bite that we eat. When we become so aware, we are in meditation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Science and Religion - an interesting exchange of mails

(My reply 7th item)

Dear Sir,

I realize that you are either testing me or playing with me, never the less I would take this opportunity to sharpen my thoughts and write another note on this subject. However this would be my last note on this subject, because I don’t know anything more. To write again on this would be only repetition of the same thoughts. Whatever I write is my understanding and my awareness of the subject and therefore I may please be forgiven for imprudence.

Having understood the basic canons of religion I follow my own path. I don’t mind others following their own path as well. What I know about religion is only a scratch of the surface, nothing more. I recognize the real depth of this subject and also recognize every other discussion that has got nothing to do with religion.

Science and religion are basically the same. Both are knowledge seekers, both trying to unravel the mysteries of life and nature. Both are not enemies of each other but rather complementary. They complete one another. Religion is inward looking, understanding the mind and heart of man, control of mind and trying to decipher the meaning of life and existence. Science is more on external phenomenon, the how and why of all things happening around and again trying to decipher the meaning of life and existence. Right from the times of Vasudaiva kutumbakam as envisaged in the Ved, Gita or Upanishad, to Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, all religion talk of the inner world. In religion, there is nothing in the outer world which is not present inside man. Therefore the concept of seeing is believing is unimportant when compared to experiencing is believing. What makes it more unwieldy is the fact that experience is not the same for everyone. Experience differs from individual to individual. Science on the other hand is straight jacketed. It does not bother to ventures into areas where consistency and reason cannot be demonstrated. It makes a statement saying, ‘reasons unknown’ and leaves it at that. In fact rebirth should be a concentrated scientific project but most scientists do not want to touch it because science is limited by its own boundaries called ‘verifiable proof’. Many scientists in the field of life science would love to dwell on this subject of rebirth but for the fear of ridicule from peers. Only a few have braved this. I do not want to belittle science. It is knowledge and every kind of knowledge is sacred. However I accept the science will have its own parameters and religion its own.

At the cost of repetition allow me to say that though God has been discussed in all religions but the basic religious texts have not conceptualized this as an external agency or a being. God is more a concept, an universal energy, great power points, which is present in all things living and non living, which follows reason, subscribes to cause and effect and last but not the least is always benevolent. Life as we see it on this planet is also God. Nobody knows the limits and boundaries of God nor do they know when God happened, how and why.

Regarding evolution everybody has a theory and a good guess, but nobody knows for sure. Scientists keep rolling new theories every 50 odd years about the origin of the universe and cosmic systems and evolution of man. Religion has on the other hand managed to stick with a common impregnable statement that, ‘God made everything’. I do not agree that everything has been created by God. I would leave it at saying that God is present in everything and everything is present in God. It could be a vague statement without clarity but that is all I know.

Science and religion may have many unsolved questions. Many phenomenon (like the UFO), science has not been able to resolve and can only bow to imaginative guesswork. Both have selective amnesia where they would like to hide their own ignorance but highlight that of the other. Let’s accept that nobody is perfect and nobody knows everything. Science gets a satisfaction from the conquest of the outer world. Religion gets a satisfaction by the conquest of the inner world. Meditation for example is accepted as a technique to relives stress and many health disorders. Saints and sages who can also be called religious scientists have adopted proper methodology and process in their work. Ayurved, Indian astronomy and many such knowledge fields would never have been possible without proper methods.

Unfortunately religion remained mystic and every demonstration of powers and ability was labeled as a miracle or sledge of hand. Nobody was spared, neither Jesus nor Sathya Saibaba. But irrespective of whether one believes that such powers are true or otherwise one cannot ignore it even after centuries. Christianity came into vogue about 400 years after the death of Christ. Religion has its own theory of action and its consequence, cause and effect, importance of good thought, word and efforts, death and rebirth, liberation and enlightenment. All these can be experienced, questioned, examined, verified, understood and then if so desired accepted. Once you experience it, the requirement of proof does not exist. I am amongst those who believe this.

You may ask, if religion was so simple and straight forward, then why does it want to play a role bigger than it needs to? To explain this in my own way here I would like to differentiate between religion as understood and followed by the common man who are maximum in number (98 – 99 %) and the religion followed by the evolved man who would be a mere 1 – 2 % of the population. That brings us to the next question, who is an evolved man? Just like science needs scientific temperament, religion also needs an evolved mind and intellect. Just like in IQ where man is distinguished into different levels of intelligence, in mental evolvement also there are different levels. Everybody cannot understand everything whether it be science or religion. For instance inspite of the best explanation provided by science I with a poor scientific temperament cannot decipher why earth spins west to east and when was this decided, why west is rich and powerful as compared to the east, how and why was water formed when earth was supposed to be molten hot lava, how internet work, how telecom works, but I have accepted it and it is fine with me. My IQ levels are not too great to be willing and able to comprehend all things scientific and therefore I don’t expect to make any progress in science. Likewise progress in religion is also not possible without certain religious temperament and evolvement.

People with different temperaments need to be addressed differently whether it is science or religion though not in a similar fashion. A person with a poor scientific temperament would be satisfied with an explanation of the benefits of doing a process, as against the justifications that would be sought by a person of better scientific temperament. A person with a better temperament would like to and be able to understand the science behind the working of the mobile phone while another with a poor temperament would simple like to be explained how to use it. A person with a better religious temperament would be able to appreciate a religious concept more easily as against another with poor religious temperament. Using Karma (as a concept) a man with better religious temperament could experience better benefits as compared to another with poor religious temperament. There are be numerous layers in between these extremes and each layer or level has different acceptance levels for their needs to be addressed.

What is this need which people expect religion to take care of? Man is said to be a social being suggesting that he cannot survive alone. He needs the support mechanism of the group to weather the uncertainties of life. I would call it a weakness but cannot deny that all of us need this support, but the quality of need differs from person to person and the way it is perceived and satisfied also differs from person to person. While meditation works for someone, chanting works for another, prayer works for another, ritual works for another, singing and dancing works for another, reading and listening works for another. As many as there are seekers of support there is an equal number of givers of support. There are fraudsters and misguided people who mislead as well as there are gullible and desperate people who are taken for a ride and all in the name of religion. So you find people vociferously making tall claims without any justifiable explanation as also people accepting and taking part in weird rituals like blood-letting without a proper explanation. This weakness and fear in the minds of man is exploited to the tilt and all in the name of religion.

Therefore since man is geared mentally and psychologically to believe in religion for comfort and happiness so always the inner world will have an upper hand over the outer world. On a practical basis we find more comfort in being with nature and family than earning money and profit which is stressful. Religion will always be more popular than science.



Mail (6th item)

Dear Suman,

When you add n to n+1 to n+2 ad infinitum, you do not have to really imagine what the last term will be.

Einstein’s theory makes predictions which are true and are accepted because they work in all situations and can be demonstrated to be so working. One does not have to try to reach the velocity of light and then conclude that one cannot reach that velocity because mass will then become infinite.

Religion makes predictions about many things (reward and punishment, rebirth etc) which have never been proved and can only be imagined and either "accepted" as faith or rejected like many people like me do. When there is some evidence, surely agnostics will start believing in such things.

Religion has a pet theorem. Since we do not know much about it (how the galaxies were created for example), it must have been done by GOD. Across thousands of years of human history as science started explaining many phenomenon which hitherto bordered on appearing "magical", all that religion did was to move the milestone a little further so that the things that science had yet to explain came under religious purview. Science has now explained how "evolution" of all races especially human beings took place but religion keeps harping on "creationism". When science explains in details how our brain works (in the future) religion will harp on the "soul".

Even if we suppose for a moment that an all powerful GOD exists (someone who has determined the destiny of each one of us and who has the power to change things if we plead with him) then the unanswered question is who created this GOD. That entity must be even more powerful than this GOD. Does religion have an answer to this??

Not even once does religion accept the responsibility of telling us why it makes such assumptions and why it puts the burden of proof on others to explain its fantasies.


(My next mail 5th item)


There was a scientist Dr. Ian Stevenson who followed the methods and procedures of science but still could not convince the adamant ones. The University of Virginia however seems to be happy to host him on their web page. Maybe you know of this man but please read on;

There is (still alive) another man of science who's books you and the whole world are reading now, Dr. Brian Weiss, who however does not face the stiff opposition which his predecessors suffered. Do you think that the scientific community is changing its opinion?

By the way I am sure you know that Albert Einstein's theory of relativity has never been proved and can never be proved but it has been imagined, understood, accepted by the scientific world. Sort of religiously, I must add. A very interesting illustration of his work can be seen here


(My reply 4th item)

Dear Sir,

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath, having been a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equaled only by his powers of invention. As an engineer, Leonardo's ideas were vastly ahead of his time. He conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. As a scientist, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics. (Source Wikipedia)

I am sure the entire world would have called his work mumbo jumbo and he would have been left shouting from his roof top, “This is true – this is true – but I won’t tell you why”. He wouldn’t tell because he did not know. Da Vinci was a man of science and not religion but still faced the same consequence. He talked of concepts which he could not prove.

Let’s look at this the other way. For that matter even science accepts some things on face value without proof. Can anybody scientifically explain what exactly is the meaning / scientific explanation of the bitter taste of Neem? It is accepted by everybody as bitter from experience and nobody not even the scientist questions for a proof. Taking it further, not everybody will accept that Neem is bitter. If a person, grows up without tasting anything bitter till date, suddenly confronts the Neem leaf, he could go ahead eating not being able to recognize the experience of bitterness. But still the rest of the world would accept that Neem is bitter. No proof required. It is all in the mind. I am sure that you accept this fact that the mind of man has limitless potential. Man is a product of his mind and thought. He can achieve remarkable things by conditioning his mind. The working of the mind is not known, but we accept many things in our life (apart from religion) because our mind is clear about it.

I don’t think that wars are fought for religious differences. Reasons would be (a) retaliation for wrongs done, (b) food, land and women, (c) survival of the fittest or strongest, (d) superiority complex (e) Wealth. Just because one group of people happen to be of a common culture or area or religion fighting together against another group of a common area or religion does not make the war religious. It is but natural that allays are made within those that share a common bond which may be religion also. The cause of fighting between two people (individual or group) can be greed or self defense but it cannot be peace and happiness. It is absurd to imagine two persons fighting because they want to be at peace. But war gets a religious overtone for example the Crusades, for no fault of religion. Would you call the current conflict between US and Iraq/Iran/Afgan a war between Christians and Muslims?

Siddharth Gautam said that life is eternal and non-stop. It changes body after body but carries on with unfinished desires and their consequences - creating karma. He said there is no god outside of oneself. Everything that is there outside is also present inside. He urges people to be antar-mukhi and resolve their sorrows and bad karma and progress towards mukti i.e. achieve nirvana. If you read the Gita you will find that the same words and concepts. This is true religion, the core, the essence. I recognize that you want proof for this, somebody should explain how does this happen? With experiments, clinical trials, tests, graphs, statistics.

And lastly regarding, science accepting birth and reincarnation, I shall clear that also.

May all life forms in this world be at peace, be happy.

Suman Bose

(Mail recd 3rd item)

Dear Suman

I read with increasing interest and mounting disappointment, all your comments on my latest blog on science versus religion.

You also seem to be falling into the classic trap that all believers fall chanting "this is true - this is true - but I won't tell you why?"

Your statement about there being some divine decision making and strategy in why someone is born in Somalia and others in India is a prime example of this mumbo jumbo.

  • If all religions profess peace, love, inward viewing - they must have miserably failed in imbibing these virtues in their followers because, as I have written earlier, most wars in human history have been fought because of religious differences.
  • Gautam Buddha in fact wanted everyone to apply "reason and logic" before accepting anything. He did not believe that there is a GOD and completely rejected the concept of "soul" within a human body.Sure enough, hundreds of scholars were impressed with his thinking.
  • Most followers follow a religion of rituals and a miniscule few, a religion of philosophy. Even in the case of the latter, most of the philosophical tenets of even a profound religion like Hinduism are totally without any evidence (except for personal experience which cannot be demonstrated to all) eg Rebirth and reincarnation. I don't know where you got that fantastic idea that science has accepted these two concepts.

May your GOD bestow peace on you...



My Comment to the Blog (2nd item)

Will Science (That should be the right title to this note).

Whatever you have written, nothing could be farther from the truth. It has been fashionable to talk like this amongst people who have been misled or people who wish to call themselves rational and modern in outlook.

1. Religion & Science are old "enemies".

Religion does not look at science as an enemy. Religion is not about rituals and ceremonies, chants and worships. Religion is about peace, happiness, love, acceptance, inward viewing, unification with the universal energy and liberation from sorrow i.e. cycle of birth and death. How can science explain all this in terms of experiments and results? Religion does not expect it to.

2. If you go by the number of followers, the former is a clear winner.

Unhappiness and sorrow comes as a consequence of birth and death. Who would not want to break this link? But everybody is not a believer and people with true faith are even rare. Add to this problem the fact that to find a correct guide or teacher is extremely difficult. A lot of practices, some bordering on tasteless fear induced antics, are going on in society in the name of religion. Therefore I think that there are more true believers of science than of religion.

3. "Religion" expects its followers to slavishly & irrationally accept whatever is told to them.

True religion is open and does not believe in forced acceptance. For a person who experiences liberation, it hardly matters whether others accept his words or not. But for quacks, swindlers, and dhongi-babas, religion is a means to livelihood. However since they don’t have the values and understanding of saints, they seek their acceptance through force and threat.

4. Many vital operating principles of religion pertain to the time period either before birth or after death. ………….. For obvious reasons, it is impossible to verify any of these things.

Amongst the first scientific knowledge areas that man investigated was reason for his existence. The other areas could be which leaves and fruits are edible, how to bring down a huge beast easily, how to protect oneself, fire, wheel, and such like.

Death and rebirth, good and bad deeds, pain and sorrow, these are old hats. These are accepted in religion after experience and verification. Siddharth Gautam, the Buddha, who lived some 800 years before Jesus said, “Don’t accept anything I say without verifying and experiencing at your own personal level”. He preached for 40 long years. People from far away countries came to learn from him in an era without trains or air-planes. They heard, they experienced, were satisfied, went back home and sent others. Please don’t imagine that one man can fool people for 40 years and also don’t imagine that lakhs and lakhs of people from many different countries over two generations were fools to accept his words without verification.

5. All progress in "science" can be attributed to the un- quenching thirst for more knowledge (research) without resting, …………. Religion on the other hand has primarily remained the same for thousands of years with no "inventions" or new ideas.

Reincarnation and rebirth are ancient theories which the scientific world is accepting today. Religion is increasingly being used in the west today in hospitals and for medical treatment.

Religion focuses on what is essential for happiness. That which is permanent. Rest everything is subject to change and impermanent. Inspite of that then Religion has done tremendous research on the interconnectedness of mind and body, on energy, on thought and intent and such research is still in progress. Nobody funds such research, nor are the researchers interested in display. But interested persons find their way to such labs. One example is Vippassana Research Centre at Igatpuri where people from all over the world arrive.

6. Religion discourages fundamental questioning while Science thrives on it.

Absolutely false. Find the right teacher and ask him all the questions. Remember Vivekanada and his guru Ramkrishna Parmahams. There are many such evolved souls living on earth. They don’t show themselves because they don’t need to. A true seeker has to make the effort himself to locate them.

7. Most religions expect complete and blind loyalty from their followers.

When a man gets the real nectar, he does not bother about disloyalty. I have also heard of IITians and PhD holders from foreign Universities taking to sanyas under a able guru. But when religion becomes a livelihood, people have to be tied forcibly, by hook or crook, by threat and cajole. Where there is fear, there is force and anger. Where there is fear, there is no religion.

To Conclude

There is no competition between science and Religion. Science follows religion because while religion is all in the mind and heart, science wants verifiable proof. Sometimes this is not possible. For example, questions like, “why am I born in a third world country and not in the developed world?”, “why am I born to poor parents and not the upper class parents?”, cannot be answered by science. But religion has an answer. A is born in the UK while B is born in Somalia because there is a reason. Everything that happens to us is for a reason. When we look inside us we can understand that energy flows in and out, good thoughts, words and actions bring back good results. Energy gets transformed and is never destroyed. Science accepts this facts related to energy only.

Suman Bose

The Blog entry (1st item)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Will Science & Religion ever see eye to eye?

Religion & Science are old "enemies". If you go by the number of followers, the former is a clear winner. If it ever comes to choosing only one of them, an overwhelming majority is expected to abandon the latter. "Religion" has always scoffed at "Science" as being incapable of evaluating religious philosophies while "Science" has maintained that "Religion" expects its followers to slavishly & irrationally accept whatever is told to them. Let's look at this a little dispassionately.

[1] Field of operation: Many vital operating principles of religion pertain to the time period either before birth or after death. Thus you have religions telling you how you will be rewarded (or punished) in the next birth or in the post - death period depending upon how you lived your life in this birth. Good deeds get rewarded and bad ones result in pain and trouble. For obvious reasons, it is impossible to verify any of these things. Science on the other hand operates in the material world on the basis of either empirical data (observations without necessarily understanding why a certain thing happens in a certain manner) or hard evidence and educated predictions.

[2] New Discoveries: All progress in "science" can be attributed to the un- quenching thirst for more knowledge (research) without resting on ones' laurels and the innate wish to invent more efficient procedures & to establish hypotheses - not all of which may be 100% true (but which are statistically significantly true). To quote an example, we first had telephone instruments with rotary dialing - then with push button dialing - we then had cell phones and maybe we will soon have "thought - controlled - diallers" which will dial out a number by reading our mind. Internet is another example of how technology has given us a tool which appeared "magical" just a few decades ago. Religion on the other hand has primarily remained the same for thousands of years with no "inventions" or new ideas. It actually prides itself on being so "perfect" that no further developments are expected.

[3] Ability to provide cogent explanations: Religion discourages fundamental questioning while Science thrives on it. Imagine a 15 year old school boy questioning the theory propounded by a Nobel Laureate - the latter would be happy to convince the youngster about the efficacy of the theory without in any way feeling hurt about being challenged by a novice. Now imagine a religious pundit trying to answer seemingly obvious doubts that could creep into the mind of anyone about many things that religion strongly believes in (for example, how can a child be born of a virgin mother OR how could an elephants head be fitted on a human torso). The questioner will most likely be told that he is too "raw" to understand these things or met with "spiritual" anger about being blasphemous. Isn't this exactly how parents stonewall innocuous but embarrassing queries from toddlers?

[4] Loyalty: Most religions expect complete and blind loyalty from their followers. Rebels are encouraged to "leave the room". Religion generates such intense passions that it has been a direct or indirect cause of almost all wars fought in the history of mankind. Science on the other hand expects its followers to be guided by logic and evidence. It actually encourages "destabilization" of existing beliefs (theories) and welcomes rebels because that is how it has progressed all these years.

On all the parameters that we have examined till now, 'science' and 'religion' are diametrically opposite to each other. Are there no commonalities at all??

[5] Ability to generate commerce: Yes this is one ability common to both. Religion & Science both generate commerce on a huge scale. If people were to stop celebrating religious festivals, our GDP could come down to half of what it is - even the errant monsoons do not have such immense power over our financial future.