brAhmaNatva, jAti-pride, veda-eligibility, transcending tradition.

Some stories

non-brAhmaNa learning the shruti

A few years back I began learning Sanskrit, and our classes would be on the premises of a ShriVaishnava temple. There, I noticed the purohit, Shri Dikshita ji, would conduct Vedakakshyaa. I always found that listening to Vedic chanting brought me into a meditative state very quickly, so I wanted to learn it (and for other reasons also). I went up and asked Dikshit ji, who is as traditional as can be, having grown through a dozen years of Veda payhadhala, plus a PhD in Sanskrit.

After introductions, his immediate response was to refuse, since “the class is only for those who have sacred thread”. I wasn’t sure whether he meant I should first have upanayanam, or whether it was just caste, so I inquired. He said it was caste, and kindly suggested I go learn the Bible in this life, since I was born Christian in his view. He became rather emotional, and said that according to Purushasukta, brahmins were by birth only, there was no two ways about it. However, very defensively, he ended by saying that if I wanted I could sit at the Vedakakshya, but as far as he was concerned, I was not part of his class.

I humbly accepted his refusal, but found his last disclaimer confusing. I didn’t want to go plonk myself in the back row if it was going to vitiate the atmosphere. I later found out that the previous year this had become an issue with the temple board, which got into trouble because some brahmin women who wanted to learn Veda were denied, and threatened to have the temple licence revoked per American law which mandates non-discriminatory services to get some tax benefits. So the temple board had told Dikshita ji to not be so point blank in his refusals. Thus the disclaimer. He was saying I could sit in, but between himself and God, he would not consider me his pupil, in fierce defence of what he considered Vedic Dharma.

I deeply appreciated his principled stand,and made it clear that I had no intention of vitiating the atmosphere, and would sit in only if he would not be upset by it. Somehow, it appears he did not expect this attitude or reaction from me, and he calmed down and seemed to become affectionate. He said it was not about being upset, as long as we were clear that he did not consider me a pupil.

After I was certain that no one would br upset, I began to sit in the VedaKakshya from the following week, in Veshti and angavastram, and with tilakam, as per the rules. It was fantastic, loved it. Previously, during my Islam immersion, I found that I loved listening to and practicing Qur’an recitation, and a Turkish friend of mine was a haafiz (memorized the whole Qur’an) and also a qaari (reciter according to proper scales and tones). That person had explained to me the “science” or qira’at and meditation, and it fascinated me. I wanted to dive into it, even more so with Veda. So I was enjoying it.

In initial classes, Dikshita ji completely ignored my presence, and at every class end when students would proffer abhivaadanam and dandavat pranaams, I would only prostrate in awkward by grateful silence because I didn’t have any traditional abhivaadanam!

Gradually, class by class, Dikshita ji developed an open fondness for me. Partly because I was learning Sanskrit and so we would chit chat in Sanskrit, and partly because I was able to follow and reproduce the chanting with minimal error. I grew up speaking languages like Hindi and Gujarati, and had recently begun learning Sanskrit, so the phonetics were easy, whereas most of the othet students were Tamil speaking, with no Sanskrit training, and so they struggled with the phonetics. The telugus among the lot did far better, naturally.

What perplexed me was that Dikshita ji was actually surprised that I would be even capable of getting it right – because I was not brahmin. He even asked me a couple of times again whether I was brahmin, or what my ancestors were before they became Christian, as if my pronunciation had everything to do with genetics. Another Telugu brahmin friend told me that non-brahmins could not recite Veda even if they tried because, being meat eaters, their tongues were thick and not flexible enough to pronounce Sanskrit. He did his PhD in atomic computing.

All the while, I could see that Dikshita ji’s (and the other students’) identification with brahmin caste was the main and often sole driver for them to invest their time and energy in duplicating this culture and keeping it alive. In Dikshita ji’s case, his whole life eas dedicated to it. If it were not for pride in being of brahmin lineage, I guess most of them would not have been there.

Over time, if I had to miss a class, Dikshita ji would even ask for me – showing that his ideology was nothing personal but rather just based on his understanding that has been transmitted for some time now, and which ‘traditionalism’ wishes to “protect” at any cost. He did his very best to keep high standards of practice.

I see people like himself as precious assets in revitalizing Veda-based civilization. But I doubt they can be thought-leaders,for various reasons.

Positive aspects of jAti-pride

no-income vaikhAnasa

i can accept the seven gen rule in case of people who are adopted into pancaratrika/saivagama system and practicing it meticulously. Otherwise, just opening doors to anyone meritorious (then with a reservation system) brought in would make it very materialistic. And i dont expect these new pujaris to hv the same kind of attachment that old families hv. Old family guys may not be knowing ritual intricacies. But i hv seen vaikhanasa families still serving in temples with no income. One brother works in bangalore while another works in their own temple.

The prodigal woman

A brom woman, who was almost a slut during her college days, changed completely n is leading a proper life as wife now.. All because her parents just told her that she wud bring shame to her grandparents n everyone

The tevAr case

Similarly, a thevar family boy who almost became preta for love, was stopped by family pride. He was asked whether he is going to give up right to carry azhagar for some girl.

Comment

The above were stories related by various friends. jAti-pride is useful in conserving the ideals of the sages. But jAti-exclusivity can be counter productive, exceptions have to (ideally) be made for exceptional cases. People like PV kANe or shatAvadhAnI gaNesha or kevalAnanda sarasvatI can grasp at the essence of tradition (with little or no real compromise), while lesser folk sacrifice the essence for the periphery -alas frustrating the intentions of the sages who they claim to follow.

आहवनीय-गार्हपत्ययोस् समत्वं कल्पयितुं गणितज्ञ-रामानुजप्रयत्नौ

आहवनीय-गार्हपत्ययोस् समत्वं कल्पयितुं गणितज्ञ-रामानुजप्रयत्नौ-

“Of these the squaring of the circle is central to the construction of an AhavanIya and gArhapatya of equal area and a multiple approximations are suggested by different yajurvedic traditions. Similar constructions to these yajurvedic attempts are seen in the Rhind papyrus and the work of Anaxagoras. Several millennia later the 26 year old Ramanujan supplied one of the best approximations for the squaring of the circle – the one shown above. With this he gets a fraction for approximating pi as 355/113 – one which would have made his yajurvedic ancestor proud.”
https://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/squaring-of-the-circle-by-srinivasa-ramanujan/

“To experience the greatness of great men one has to relive or redo some acts of theirs to the best of ones ability. In ones youth such enactments might inspire one to make a bid for greatness. Whether this happens or not is mostly up to your genetics. Nevertheless, through the enactments one can at least savor the experience of what it takes to get there. If there was one man in our midst who could have lived up to be a Gauss or an Euler it was Srinivasa Ramanujan.”
https://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/squaring-of-the-circle-by-srinivasa-ramanujan/

सर्पबलिः

श्रावण्यां पूर्णिमायां वेदाध्ययनोपकर्मणा साकं सर्पबलेर् अपि भवितोपक्रमः। तदर्थं सङ्गृहीतेयं पद्धतिरस्तु युष्मच्छर्मणे –

  • टिप्पणिर् अत्र सूत्रटीकानुमता।
  • प्रमाणानि

(Not) treating mental “illness”

Some excerpts from an intriguing Invisibilia episode (transcript):

BAXTER: Sure. At the village of Geel in Belgium, it was well-known that the insane have been placed under the management of the villagers.

MILLER: Geel, it turned out, was a quite radical society, a place where everyday people welcomed strangers with mental illness into their homes.

BAXTER: Like a beloved aunt or uncle.

MILLER: And would allow them to stay there, often for decades.

BAXTER: When I asked several foster families why they had welcomed a guest, they seemed confused. Why would they not? Their parents and grandparents had all done the same.

MILLER: First stop, the doctor’s. There’s this big medical facility right in the center of town called the OPZ, where patients come when they first arrive in Geel. They’re prescribed meds and paired with a therapist. And it is there that the doctors discuss and choose which family the patient will go and live with.

The doctors in Geel believe in its power so much that they have dispatched with the thing most sacred to the profession – the idea that there is a problem to fix. When a patient comes to stay with a family in Geel, they are told nothing about the diagnosis.

 

 

 

Right, so the mystery began more than 50 years ago when a British sociologist, George Brown, made a very surprising observation. Male patients who were suffering from chronic schizophrenia did a lot better after they left the hospital when they went to live in lodgings rather than going home to live with their wives or their parents.

That desire to fix the problem, it oozes out of a person, they have found, and works to trigger relapse in the person they’re thinking about. … Crazy as it sounds, our private thoughts about a person, our disappointment in them or even our wishes for them to get better, shoot out of us like lasers and can change their very insides.

Syncing Twitter and Facebook.

You know you can cause all your tweets to automatically appear on FB and vice versa, right?

Twitter to Facebook – details here. (while giving FB posting permissions, make sure that the tweets appear on facebook to a limited audience – say friend or friends of friends to avoid a feedback loop in case you setup FB-> twitter posting)

Facebook to Twitter – Just set up public posts to be tweeted by going to https://www.facebook.com/twitter
If you automatically share from WordPress to Facebook and Twitter – beware that the FB<->Twitter syncing will cause a feedback loop. Rather, just sync with one of them.

An outdated experiment to find the value of scholasticism amongst tamiL brAhmaNa-s

Foreword on date

This was done a long time ago, in 2008, when the young author (then a bachelor) was rediscovering his roots upon being struck by the contrast between the culture he was raised in and what he observed in USA. So, it is outdated, and in places potentially immature. But it is still worth archiving so, we’re copying here.

An anthropological experiment to find the value of scholasticism among Tamil Brahmins.

Purpose of the experiment:

I will suggest a very simple experiment to you. Our purpose here is to examine the “Brahminical qualities”/ “emphasis of learning over money”, “greater love of advanced learning” and to see if it is all hype, or if there is any truth behind the prejudice. Is there anything in the Brahmin culture and circumstance to cause Brahmins to be more likely to seek advanced learning?

Disclaimer (not a professional anthropologist) and request for criticism:

I do not have the resources, time and training of a professional anthropologist. I had a question in my mind, and I wanted a reliable answer with minimal expenditure of time and energy. It is likely that there are deficiencies in my methodology and analysis; and criticism is therefore very welcome.

However, the experiment has been, in my view, decisive enough for me to form an opinion based on actual fact.

The experiment (Main page version):

  1. Go to http://www.tamilmatrimony.com/.
    • Where else would you find easily available caste information together with education information?
  2. In the Quick Search bar, you will find “Female” between 18 and 30 selected. Select the Hindu religion, do not select a caste. Uncheck the “profiles with photos” option.
  3. Click search.
  4. Results will show up. In the right pane entitled “Refine your search”, select the Education tab and check PhD. 5. Select USA as the “country living in”. (A crude filter for degree quality.)
  5. Click on Search.
  6. Many results will appear. Do a page by page visual count. Calculate the fraction of Brahmins amongst the people you see.

Repeat the above experiment for males. (Make age range: 21 to 33.)

The experiment (using advanced search):

Note that finding the absolute number of Brahmin PhD holders by selecting the “Brahmin” as the caste option in the first page is problematic. Instead, using the advanced search option to select “Brahmin, Iyer, Iyengar, Gurukkal” is more reliable. Advanced search may also be used for finding the number of PhD holders among the general population.

Be careful to remove the “residing in USA” option while guaging the percentage of Brahmin profiles.

It appears that the website returns different data when different tools are used. The main page version of the experiment seems more reliable.

Null hypothesis:

If there is nothing in the Brahmin culture and circumstance which does not accord greater emphasis on advanced learning than in the general population, the Fraction of Brahmins amongst PhD holders should be commensurate with their percentage in the population, or with the percentage of Brahmin profiles posted.

Criticism and adjustment:

Also find the percentage of Brahmin profiles amongst all the profiles posted, for either sex, including all regions of the world. This can assuage to some extent, if not address, the criticism: “It is possible that tamils other than brahmins have a better way of seeking a match than tamilmatrimony.com.”

Information for further analysis:

The percentage of Brahmins in the Tamil Population is less than 3%. Since 1921, the fine state of Tamil Nadu has been a poineer in reservations! (Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reservation_in_India#Reservation_policy_in_Tamil_Nadu for further information.) They started by restricting Brahmins to 16% of total seats. Currently, by state law, 69% of the seats are reserved for backward castes, of which around 52% actually ends up getting used.

Results:

Dated July 18th, 2008.

It appears that the website returns different data when different tools are used. The main page version of the experiment seems more reliable.

Females:

Fraction of Brahmin profiles: .19 (8472/ 44582)

Fraction of Brahmin profiles according to search from main page: 0.0296 (340/11481), which is close to the actual fraction of Brahmins among Tamils.

Fraction of Brahmins amongst PhD holders in the USA: .75 (122/ 162).

Fraction of Brahmins amongst PhD holders in the USA according to search from main page: 0.719 (36+77)/157.

Overrepresentation based on population percentage (close to number of profiles according to search from main page): 25x.

Overrepresentation based on number of profiles: 3.94x.

Males:

Fraction of Brahmin profiles: 0.117 (18513/ 157812).

Fraction of Brahmin profiles according to search from main page: 0.0229 (3117/135788).

Fraction of Brahmins amongst PhD holders in the USA: .52 (315/ 602). (87+192)/510.

Fraction of Brahmins amongst PhD holders in the USA according to search from main page: .54 (87+192)/510.

Overrepresentation based on population percentage (close to number of profiles according to search from main page): 17.3x.

Overrepresentation based on number of profiles: 4.44x.

Qualifying statements:

We are concerned here with fractions rather than absolute numbers.

I do not disparage prowess in literature or the arts.

I do not disparage any honorable means of survival.

All cultures are not equal in all respects. (There is, for example, no mincing of words about the dominance of the Jewish people in academic research. Or of the amazing fecundity of Hungarians of recent times when it comes to mathematics.)

Conclusions:

Is there anything in the Brahmin culture and circumstance to cause Brahmins to be more likely (than the rest of the Tamil population) to seek advanced learning in the sciences? The fraction is smaller than what I expected; but it appears that the answer is a clear “yes”.

Can this result be extended to the arts and literature? I am not sure.

Excerpts from “A geopolitical package: July 2016”

Regaining or acquiring widespread Self-nonself distinction ability is critical for Hindus to survive and thrive. Analysis by the sage of MT is astute as usual. Excerpts:
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The long term objectives of the three enemies would roughly take the following shape:
1) the mlecchas would seek to break up India into smaller states with which they can deal individually. They would like to ensure that some of these states will be preta or preta-run secular, which will do their bidding in various Asian conflicts especially with marūnmatta-s and cīna-s. They can play the glacial strategy aided by structural weakening by helping other enemies of Hindus.
2) the marūnmatta would seek to reestablish Islamic rule over al Hind either in the form in very general terms resembling the Delhi Sultanate, the Mogol empire of Awrangzeb or as part of the Khilafat. There would be tensions with the Arab Khilafat eventually, but if the Turks reassert their place as the leaders of the Mohammedans then there would be greater synergy with them. Their primary strategy would be reestablish the connection between TSB and TSP by conquering the land in between, especially by taking Prāgjyotiṣa, Magadha, Pāñcāla and the remaining Pāñcanada in the process. As we have said they will apply both the glacial and hurricane strategies as the occasion demands. In the south an independent sultanate in Kerala would be their other objective which may then serve as the base for the pincer grip of the rest of the land.
3) The cīna-s will aim for a land-grab of Arunachal, Sikkim, Ladakh, other border zones in the Northeast, the border nations like Bhutan and Nepal while not having any major objectives within the inner core of Bhārata. Here they might initially collude with the other enemies but then back off because they clearly understand that the preta states established by the mleccha-s are footholds for mlecchas to reach them, whereas the Islamic states will allow Islamic expansion against them. But being hard-nosed people ready to do a Dungan if needed they would not be too concerned about propping up Hindu states as a defense.
 
In conclusion, the weaker the Hindu identify and the scaffold and stronger the secular one or the regionalist ones the less likely the Indian state survives this triple assault.
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To use someone’s words marūnmāda can advance both as a glacier and a whirlwind. We can see both strategies simultaneously at play. For example, the Moslem Brotherhood takes the glacial approach whereas the Khilafat under Dr. Abu Bakr takes the whirlwind approach. The same marūnmatta group can shift from one approach to another depending on the opportunities. Moreover, virulent strains of marūnmāda can persist even after a defeat with alternative strategies. For example Abd al-Wahab and Muhammad bin Saud and their successors founded the hellhole of Saudi Arabia by means of whirlwind Jihad campaigns paralleling those of Abu Bakr’s Khilafat of today. …
 
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