Religious “Hate” and “Violence” Against Hindus: Ignorance is No Virtue

By: Maria Wirth

This article is borrowed with thanks from HERE

“Why Indians had to suffer so much for the last 1000 years when they were generally good-natured and did not attack others?” someone asked Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. It was a question which troubled me too. He replied on the lines that Indians had not done their job in analyzing their enemy.

Why did Prithviraj Chauhan for example let Mohammad Ghori off in spite of knowing that he had not stuck to any rules of war? The young Indian raja obviously had not analyzed what made his attacker so unprincipled. He didn’t seem to be aware about the tenets of Islam, which are so different from his own Hindu Dharma.

The situation has not changed much. Today, there is still very little clarity about the enemy in spite of Swami Vivekananda or Sri Aurobindo seeing where the danger comes from. Vivekananda stated that every Hindu who leaves the Hindu pale is not one Hindu less but one enemy more. How? Is it possible that a religion makes people into enemies? This surely needs to be analyzed.

There are big differences between Hindu Dharma on one side, and Islam and Christianity on the other, which we usually are not aware of. We need to know them and have the courage to point them out, in the interest of all humanity.

The first big difference is this:

While Sanatana Dharma and the Vedas are most ancient and the foundation for the great, benign Indian culture, Christianity and Islam are newcomers and they brutally destroyed existing cultures and replaced them with a rigid belief system.

The cultures of Inkas, Mayas, Aztecs, Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Persia, Afghanistan – they all have disappeared and their history was falsified. In what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh, the ancient Hindu culture has disappeared, too. India also has suffered immensely, millions were killed and a treasure trove of knowledge went up in flames when libraries with innumerable texts were burnt.

But are religions not meant to be beneficial? Is religion not about God, the cause for our existence, and man’s relation to that great Being? About worshipping that great Being and surrendering to it? Is there not even the right to religious freedom enshrined in Constitutions and endorsed by the United Nations? Why then all this brutality? What went wrong?

It’s easy to see but nobody wants to look that way: The reason is that belief in improbable claims about the “Will of God” was enforced with violence in the beginning, later with indoctrination of children and severe punishment for criticizing or leaving the religion. Over the centuries naturally the numbers of their followers swelled. Very few pointed out what went wrong, because it put their lives at risk. Those religions literally killed dissent.

We need to go back in time to see more clearly what went wrong:

The Vedas, the most ancient knowledge about the origin of the universe and our own existence, postulate one great Being (usually called Brahman) from whom this universe emanated and who permeates all parts of it. It means, Brahman is also within us, though veiled by thoughts and other mind activity due to his Maya Shakti. The ancient Rishis analyzed this creation well, and discovered essential powers for our existence, the devas. They “saw” that the microcosm is like the macrocosm; they reached out into the universe, by diving deep into themselves, mapped the sky and left profound knowledge for posterity in all fields of human endeavor – profound knowledge that was present in cosmic consciousness from the start and was revealed to them due to their intense Tapas.

There is ample evidence that Indian civilization influenced large parts of the globe in ancient times. Over the long history of millions of years (according to Indian texts which should be taken seriously), different forms of worship to different deities, who were seen as a representation of the ONE Brahman, developed, but there was no friction between the different groups. They existed side by side. Nobody insisted that only one way needed to be followed.

This changed when emperor Ashoka wanted all people in his kingdom to follow only one of the Indian sages, Gautama Buddha. Buddha had died long before Ashoka was born, but in several councils, a Canon with his sayings was compiled, and this was meant to be followed by Ashoka’s subjects. He even sent missionaries to other countries.

So Ashoka broke with the tradition that everyone was free to choose his way to realize Brahman as his own essence and established what the British later called “Buddhism” as the best way. Anyone, who splits away and wants followers, naturally needs to emphasize that his creed is “better”. And if others are not convinced, it is followed up with some “pressure” if one has power. Later Adi Shankara challenged Buddhists in debates and most Indians came back to their original, less dogmatic Dharma.

Meanwhile, far away from India, and only some 1700 years ago, the Roman emperor decided to make a small Christian sect into a state religion. He must have felt it would be advantageous if all his subjects believed the same thing. In short: the messiah for whom the Jews were waiting, has come already in the person of Jesus Christ but was not recognized and even killed by the Jews.

However, this sect showed a very authoritative and violent streak, as soon as it got state patronage. It demolished existing temples, burnt books and murdered even a famous woman philosopher Hypatia in Egypt. And soon Christians stomped over Middle East, North Africa and Europe, forcing the new belief on the population.

Why were they so intolerant? The reason was that they claimed that the great true God, the creator of the universe, the “Father in heaven”, has finally (2000 years ago) sent down to earth his only son Jesus Christ to save humans from the original sin, and all must follow what Jesus has said. And what did Jesus say? He allegedly said that nobody reaches the Father except via his son. So the Church claims, belief in Jesus is absolutely necessary to be saved from eternal hellfire.

A few centuries later, a similar story was repeated: Mohammad, an Arab of the 7th century, declared that the one true Allah has spoken to him via Angel Gabriel and what he said must be followed by all human beings. And what does Allah want from humans?  He wants all to believe in Mohammad as the last prophet, to whom He, Allah, has communicated his wishes. And his greatest wish apart from believing in Him and His prophet: He wants his followers to fight (do Jihad) till all believe only in Allah. Those, who resist, will suffer terribly in hell for all eternity.

Mohammad himself showed the way how to fight. He attacked for example Jewish tribes, butchered their men even after surrender, took their women as slave concubines and their property as booty. After his death, his followers stomped over the Middle East, North Africa, into Spain and parts of Eastern Europe, and forced those, who had earlier been forced to become Christians, now to become Muslims. The conquest was bloody and highly “successful” due to terrible cruelty.

Muslim invaders also stomped into India and left a trail of bloodshed. Yet here, they could not exterminate the ancient culture because the new creed was simply no match for it. Yet due to the incredible brutality, Muslim invaders made big inroads into Indian society and many Hindus converted to Islam and later, under the Portuguese and British, to Christianity.

Even now in independent India, Christianity and Islam have not given up their attempt to eliminate Hindu culture. The different Churches do it with enormous vigour, lots of money and sadly, great success, through “projects”, like the Joshua project. Islam does it by having many children, by love Jihad and also by trying to convince Hindus and Christians of the ‘superiority’ of Islam over a religion which “worships monkeys and rats”. Whoever objects to being pressured to convert, risks even being brutally killed.

One thing has become clear over the centuries. Christianity and Islam are dangerous for “others” and also dangerous for insiders who are not fully conform and express doubts about ‘the only truth’. Islam and Christianity killed tens of millions common citizens, only because they didn’t pay allegiance to their religion or rather “cult”.

Today, India has over 200 million Muslims and probably much more than 40 million Christians, as many of the converts keep their Hindu names for caste benefits. Are they India’s enemies, as Swami Vivekananda hinted?

Enemy is a strong word. Yet if those who converted believe what they are taught, they will definitely look down on Hindus. It seeps into their psyche that “they” (Hindus) don’t accept the true God. When I was a child, even Protestants were looked down upon by us Catholics. We Catholics ‘knew’ that we were right and others wrong, and heathen were very wrong.

In the 1980s, I spent some time in Shantivanam, a Christian ashram, which was very liberal to us foreigners who were friendly towards Hinduism and Buddhism. Yet once I heard Bede Griffiths, a Benedictine monk and the head of the ashram, talk to Indian nun novices. I was shocked how strongly he indoctrinated them that they alone have the true faith, and questioned him afterwards. His reply, ‘I have to strengthen their faith so that they know where the border to Hinduism lies.’

Hindus are not bothered about borders. They tend to accept all faiths. Whatever helps to connect with one’s essence is welcome. Yet this is not the mindset of followers of those religions, which need borders to survive. Hindus usually don’t understand this mindset. They expect common sense and brush aside claims that they will burn in hellfire if they don’t convert. They can’t imagine that anyone could seriously believe such nonsense.

But they are wrong. Many people do believe it. Such belief is dangerous and highly divisive. It leads to hate crimes. Since there is no proof and there can never be proof, such dangerous belief needs to be called out and criticized. It must NOT be taught to kids.

Here is where Hindus didn’t do their duty and still don’t do their duty. It may look cool or secular to let everyone believe what he wants, but such attitude is foolish when it threatens your survival.

While Christians have stopped killing in recent centuries, Muslims have not stopped. It goes on daily. And those terrorists genuinely believe that they do the right thing and will get a ’higher status in paradise’(Q 4.95). Which youth would throw away his life in a suicide attack if he wasn’t convinced that he will be better off after killing Kafirs?

The situation is serious. It is bad enough that pious Christians look down on Hindus. But it is even worse that pious Muslims not only look down on others, but also can, with a straight face, tell lies to us (Taqqiya) and even harm and kill us without having any bangs of conscience. It’s allowed. The usual counter that Quran 5.32 forbids killing even one person is a deception. First, Allah addresses the “Children of Israel” in this verse (obviously taken from Jewish texts) and second, a person who does mischief is exempted and can be murdered. And what bigger mischief can there be in the eyes of a believer than not believing in Allah and his prophet?

Fortunately, there are many who have lost faith. Especially Christians get out of the churches in droves, ever since heresy is not punished any longer. Many Muslims, too, have doubts. A Muslim acquaintance recently estimated that even in Saudi Arabia about 10 percent are atheists. There are numerous videos by ex-Muslims on the net who criticize their former belief openly. It’s dangerous for them. The social pressure is great and their own family may kill them. Moreover, in many countries apostasy is punishable by death.

And here again, Hindus don’t do their job. They don’t support those who leave their dogmatic faith. And worse, the government even encourages people to stay in their religion by giving ‘minorities’ benefits.

What can be done? Let’s all think about it. But one thing is needed for sure: we need to be honest and not afraid to expose the harmful aspects of Christianity and Islam, both of which make no secret that they want to eliminate Hinduism.

Everyone has the right to worship the One Supreme. This is guaranteed by the right to religious freedom. It makes sense, as there must be a great Intelligence and Power at the base of this incredible universe. But nobody has the right to make baseless claims that the Supreme loves some and doesn’t love others and even throws the majority of humans into eternal hellfire – all those who do not accept that only ONE person (there are two…) has received the full truth. This doesn’t make sense. And it has brought so much suffering upon humankind.

Obviously such claim (about one specific person needing to be followed), is not true. Yet for long, Hindus couldn’t counter it for fear of their lives. But now Hindus slowly find their feet. Many realize the immense value of their heritage and that they were cheated in believing that it has no worth.

Will they also have the courage to insist that their heritage is respected and taught to students in India and all over the world? The insights of the Rishis have never been proven wrong when tested, and have inspired science, art and harmony in society.

It’s no virtue to let falsehood spread.

Converting ‘Hindu-India’ into ‘Christian / Islamic India’ and ‘Secularists’ Support !

By: Maria Wirth

 My article “When Germany is Christian, is India Hindu?” got amazingly good response with thousands of facebook likes. However, some readers felt I made a mistake by not distinguishing between good, tolerant Hinduism, which is a private belief, and bad, intolerant Hindutva, which stands for the ‘communal agenda of an extreme right Hindu party’ that wants to force uniform Hinduism on this vast country, an act which is completely un-Hindu and against the pluralism of India.

Is Hindutva really different from Hindu Dharma and dangerous? Or have those, which coined the term, an interest in making it look like that? No doubt, Hindutva has a bad name in the eyes of many, in spite of the ruling of the Supreme Court in 1995:

“Hindutva is indicative more of the way of life of the Indian people. …Considering Hindutva as hostile, inimical, or intolerant of other faiths, or as communal proceeds from an improper appreciation of its true meaning.”

I would like to explain from a personal angle, why I came to the conclusion that it is indeed ‘an improper appreciation of its true meaning’, when Hindutva is branded as communal and dangerous.

For many years I lived in ‘spiritual India’ without any idea how important the terms ‘’secular’ and ’communal’ were. The people I met were appreciative of India’s great heritage. They gave me tips which texts to read, which sants to meet, which mantras to learn, etc., and I wrote about it for German readers. I used to think that all Indians are genuinely proud of their ancestors, who had stunningly deep insights into what is true about us and the universe and who left a huge legacy of precious ancient texts unparalleled in the world.

However, when I settled in a ‘normal’ environment away from ashrams and pilgrimage places and connected with the English speaking middle class including some foreign wives, I was shocked that several of my new friends with Hindu names were ridiculing Hinduism without knowing much about it. They had not even read the Bhagavad-Gita, but pronounced severe judgment. They gave the impression as if Hinduism was the most depraved and violent of all religions and responsible for all the ills India is facing. The caste system and crude rules of Manusmiti were quoted as proof. Reading newspapers and watching TV, I also discovered an inexplicable, yet clear anti Hindu stand.

My new acquaintances had expected me to join them in denouncing ‘primitive’ Hinduism which I could not do as I knew too much, not only form reading extensively, but also from doing sadhana. They were not amused and declared that I had read the wrong books. They asked me to read the right books, which would give me the ‘correct’ understanding. They obviously did not doubt their own view to be the correct one. However, instead of coming around by reading Romila Thapar and co, I rather got the impression that there was an intention behind the negative portrayal of Hinduism: Christianity and Islam were meant to look good in comparison. My neighbour, a writer with communist leanings, henceforth introduced me to his friends as “the local RSS pracharak”. Many ‘secular’ Indians consider the RSS as Hindu fundamentalists, occasionally equating it even with Islamic terror groups. So no surprise that an elderly lady once retorted, “In this case I am not pleased to meet you.”

What was my ‘fault’? I dared to say that I love Hindu Dharma, as it (its off- springs Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism included) is the only religion that is inclusive and not divisive, whereas Christianity and Islam divide humanity into those who have the ‘true faith’ and those who are wrong and will pay for it eternally in hell, if not already on earth. Standing up for Hindu Dharma (and not only following it in private) indicted me as belonging to the ‘Hindutva brigade’ that is shunned by mainstream media. Of course my stand is neither communal nor dangerous for India. Hindu Dharma is indeed inclusive, and needs to gain strength at the expense of Christianity and Islam, which are exclusive and therefore communal.

No doubt something is seriously wrong about the public discourse on ‘secular’ and ‘communal’ in India. I can’t believe that those media anchors and invited guests don’t know it. Indians are intelligent. So why would they get secular and communal wrong?

Secular means worldly in contrast to sacred or religious, and secularism is a western concept.  State and religion were intertwined since Christianity became state religion in the Roman Empire. The Church declared what is the truth, for example that that Jesus is the only way or that the earth is flat, and everyone had to agree. If scientists disagreed, they were in serious trouble. Not without reason those centuries of Church domination are called ‘dark ages’ and the liberation from her tight embrace is called the era of ‘Enlightenment’. For Christian Europe, it was a great and hard fought achievement to get ‘secular’ states, where the Church could not push anymore her agenda through state laws. Several centuries ago, even the Sunday mass was obligatory in German kingdoms. Nobody was allowed to leave Christianity. The blasphemy laws kept the flock in check. Heresy was punished severely. Jews suffered discrimination and persecution all through history being branded as the killers of Jesus.

After Martin Luther split the Church into Protestants and Catholics, fierce wars were fought over supremacy which destroyed much of central Europe. In 1648, after 30 years of fighting, a compromise was found: the subjects of a region had to follow the religion of their ruler. Only in 1847, a Prussian king introduced a law for ‘negative religious freedom’, which meant, his subjects had the right to leave the Catholic or Protestant Church. Ever since, the Churches are losing sheep from their flock. It points to the fact that Christianity did not grow because its dogmas were convincing. It gained strength because those born in the faith could not leave it. The blasphemy laws propped up Christianity.

India has a completely different story. Sanatana Dharma was never based on unreasonable dogmas and did not need state oppression to keep believers in check. It was not in opposition to science. It was helpful to society as a whole by giving guidelines for an ideal life that acknowledges the invisible, conscious essence in the visible universe. It did not straight jacket people into an unbelievable belief system. It allowed freedom of thought and many parallel streams with different ways to connect to this essence emerged. “Hinduism is a way of life”, is often said. Following Hindu Dharma is actually an ideal way of life.

Since I grew up in the Catholic Church and know the narrow mindedness that is indoctrinated into children, I wonder why on earth Indians would prefer dogmatic religions to their ancient, benign Dharma. Don’t they see the real communal danger? Those ‘secular’ friends, who fiercely defend the right of the religious minorities to assert their exclusive identity, don’t seem to realise that both, Christianity and Islam cannot live with others peacefully. Both religions need to dominate. And both are very powerful worldwide, politically and financially. As long as they have not yet the numbers in India, they may downplay the central tenet of exclusiveness in their ideologies. But exist it does.

Secularism has dented the influence of Christianity in the west. But the Church did not give up its goal to make the whole mankind believe in Christ, and focusses now on the huge mass of Hindus. In Islam, the clergy still has a hold on the faithful and in several Muslim countries leaving Islam is punishable by death. As the Quran itself forbids the followers to leave the faith, it is difficult to forego the blasphemy laws.

The Indian secularists seem to fight for the right of Christianity and Islam to be communal and for their followers not to integrate into the Indian society, but to stress their separate identity. And what is this separate identity? It is merely an unverifiable belief that gravely impacts the mind-set. This mind-set not only creates outsiders, but it creates outsiders that are looked down upon. How can educated Indians be blind to the danger and risk having in future more partitions on the basis of unsubstantiated religious beliefs, including the risk of more terrible bloodshed?

Strangely, the dogmatic, exclusive religions are not accused of being divisive, but Hinduism is. Why? Hindus are required to see Brahman, the one Godhead, in everyone, never mind how he connects to his creator. In contrast, the followers of dogmatic religions are not required to respect those who reject their respective ‘true religion’. They are even allowed to hate them. The ease, with which Christians and Muslims killed unbelievers, is frightening. Only 70 years ago six million Jews were murdered in cold blood in gas chambers in Germany. Only a little over 40 years ago, hundred thousands, if not millions, of Hindus were butchered in Bangladesh. There are many more examples. Humanity needs to win over such madness. How? Hindu Dharma has the key: acknowledge that we are all members of one family – coming from the same source with the same blood as it were…

This article is borrowed with thanks from HERE.

Who is an “extremist” ? A Mirror to Pakistani Diplomat at UN

By: Maria Wirth

How confused, uninformed and maybe mischievous the discourse on religion and extremism has become, was obvious again at the recent General Assembly of the United Nations. A Pakistani diplomat, in his reply to the speech by Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, lambasted the “unabashed Hindu extremist Yogi Adityanath”, the chief minister of UP, for “advocating the religious superiority of Hindus”. He also bemoaned that in India claims of religious superiority get patronage all across the country.

Did anybody get the irony of it all?

Pakistan’s grouse is that there are Hindus who advocate Hindu Dharma as superior to Islam and Christianity. They call such Hindus as extremists or fundamentalists. They even claim that a Hindu organisation like the RSS is the “breeding ground of terrorism in the region”.

Now what is the reason for Pakistan’s existence? The reason is Islam. A part of India was cut off and became a separate country only, because those, whose forefathers converted to Islam for whatever reason, wanted to live among themselves according to the tenets of Islam which they believe are necessary to reach paradise. That severed part of India became the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. Islam was declared as state religion. Islam is advocated in Pakistani schools and everywhere else over Hindu Dharma and other traditions. Any criticism of Islam is banned. A blasphemy law is in force with death as punishment. Religious minorities had and have a tough time. Hindus have been almost wiped out – driven out, converted or killed. Their percentage dropped from at least 15 per cent at the time of partition to under 2 per cent.

So how can a person from such compromised country, who has some degree of fairness, object to Hindus advocating Hindu Dharma in India when his own country is not only advocating Islam, but suppressing and almost exterminating other traditions in the name of Islam? Yet in India, ever since partition, the percentage of Muslims is growing proportionally to that of Hindus. So where is ‘extremism’ in India and where in Pakistan?

The reason for his brazenness might have been that he was sure that nobody in this illustrious gathering at the UN was likely to mention any connection of Pakistan with Islam. Neither will mainstream media. It seems, Islam must not be mentioned, except if one praises it. Yet Hinduism can be freely vilified.

This Pakistani diplomat can even be sure of support for his comment within India. Why? Because NGOs, media and not least the Congress president Rahul Gandhi have already  scared the world that India under Prime Minister Modi is in great danger of becoming a Hindu nation where democracy is in danger and Muslims and Christians will be at the mercy of Hindus. There is clearly an attempt to paint Hindus as extremists and even as terrorists, and in this way deflect from the real danger which is jihadi terrorism and jihad is no doubt an important part of Islam.

Any terrorism has an objective. So what is the objective of jihadis? They want a world where ideally only Muslims live, or non-Muslims are at least subdued, because that objective is a core tenet in their doctrine. They believe they are not only allowed but will be rewarded for treating non-Muslims ‘harshly’ and even can kill them without committing a sin in the eyes of Allah. Millions were killed in the attempt to rid the world of infidels over the centuries, and the killing still continues –not only by ISIS. The difference between victim and perpetrator is only that the killers or their forefathers have converted to Islam and now believe that the Highest hates those who don’t acknowledge that Islam is the only true faith.

It is no doubt a strange faith where the Highest Power, who is the cause for this vast universe, is seen as hateful and jealous, and who will those, who don’t accept his commands, burn forever in hell. Yet strange as it may seem, such faith is officially the belief of about half of the human population on earth – Muslims and Christians. The Christian god, too, is allegedly jealous and rejects those who don’t believe in him. And worse, such a hateful god is claimed to be the ‘true god’, and belief in him is enforced with the bogey of eternal hell, whereas the benign Hindu Dharma has been successfully, but highly unfairly, vilified as an oppressive, primitive, depraved, idol-worshipping religion.

Many diplomats at the UN might have fallen for this vilification campaign by vested interests and might have agreed with the Pakistani diplomat that it is an ominous sign when Hinduism is advocated in India and that this needs to be stopped, whereas it’s ok when Islam and Christianity expand their reach.

Yet nothing can be further from truth. Anyone who dives into Hindu Dharma will realise that it is clearly superior to those two religions which demand blind belief in unreasonable and divisive dogmas.

Here is just one reason for its superiority: Hindu Dharma propagates universal brotherhood of all human beings because the essence in all is the same divine consciousness. In contrast, Islam and Christianity propagate conditional brotherhood  – the condition is that one needs to belong to their particular religion to be seen as a brother, because the Highest allegedly loves only Muslims and Christians respectively.

What is more likely to be true? Even science supports the Hindu view by claiming that all is an interconnected whole.

Religions are supposed to be about truth. As there can be only one truth, it needs comparing the different contenders for the truth and find out what is more likely to be true.  That, which is more likely to be true and which can even be proven as true, is naturally also superior.

Don’t we even in daily life compare and choose what is superior? Any reasonable person would do that. How much greater is the need to choose the best option when the question is about how to live our lives in an ideal way and in tune with the cosmic laws?

The fact, that the superiority of Hindu Dharma is rather obvious to any intelligent person, may have been the reason why the dogmatic religions, which showed up relatively late in the long history of mankind, do not just claim superiority, because this would open them to being compared with the traditions before them. Instead, each one of the two claims that it alone is true, that their holy book contains the word of the true god, and all must follow it at the threat of eternal hellfire.

Such claim, drilled into kids early on, is preventing them even as adults from daring to make an informed choice. “What if this claim of eternal hell is true?” they may think – and remain stuck in blind belief not daring to intelligently enquire into what is true about themselves and this universe – to the detriment of humanity as a whole.

( Note: This article is borrowed with thanks from  HERE. )

Nov. 1, 17 ‘NY Terror Attack’: Diagnose the Root! And Cure it!!

By: Maria Wirth

(This article is originally published HERE)

Politicians worldwide steadfastly maintain that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam and most liberal non-Muslims share this opinion. Several Muslims, too, express the same view. They label the terrorists ‘misguided youths’ but don’t seem to be interested who or what misguides them.

On the other hand, those who joined ISIS are clear: “We follow the true Islam”, they declare with full conviction and ridicule those who think otherwise.

Who is right?

Is it difficult to discover? Killing people who go peacefully about their daily lives clearly goes against human nature. So why do they do it? Apart from some pathological cases, the reason is that they are convinced that they do the right thing. Of course, these youths are misguided, but by whom or what?

To be fair – the Islamists are not the first to be misguided. Communists and Nazis were misguided by divisive ideologies, which made them believe that, if certain people are dead, a glorious future awaits them.

Christians were misguided by their baseless belief that heathen and heretics are an eyesore to their god and are better done away with if they refuse to join the “true faith.” Thanks to the pressure of a more enlightened civil society, they had to give up torturing and killing in the name of god a couple of centuries ago. Yet many Christians still wrongly believe that they have to convert the whole world to Christianity – if not by force, then by allurement and deceit.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently described the ISIS as “one of the biggest threats our world has faced”. So surely it is of utmost importance to understand what drives them. The German ‘SZ- Magazin’ (link below) carried an eye-opening interview with a would-be ISIS-Jihadi that gives insight into their mindset.

It is about Erhan, a handsome, almost shy youth of 22 years, of Turkish origin. Some of his friends are in Syria. He tried to join them but didn’t succeed on his first attempt. A few years ago, he became dissatisfied with the lukewarm “Euro-fake” Islam that his parents practice. His father doesn’t even pray, he rued, and his mother distorts the Quran so that it fits her interpretation. He wanted to follow the ‘real’ Islam and started to read the Quran. He grew a beard, prayed 5 times a day, went to the mosque and even wore a turban to school. His classmates asked him what happened, and he told them about the Quran. They never asked him again. “I had expected more criticism from them,” Erhan said.

He and his friends were banned from the local mosques in their Bavarian town because they kept lecturing the Muslims there that they don’t follow the Quran correctly and need to oppose democracy. However, the ban convinced them that they were on the right path, because “in the Quran is written that there will be opposition”.

Erhan is convinced that Islam is the only true religion, and he wants ISIS to create a state where “the Quran is lived as Allah wants it”. In his view, the present Islamic countries, like Turkey, are not really following what Allah wants. When the interviewer reminded him of ISIS’s brutality, he replied, “If one kills for a good cause, it is legitimate”.

One of Erhan’s friends, David, recently died fighting in Aleppo and another one, Philipp, became a suicide bomber after he was injured. “Were you sad?” he is asked. “At first a little, but I also envied them, because I know where they are”, he replied, but he strongly rebuked the notion that it is because of the virgins. “Honestly, if only women were to be gained, I would not do it. I do it for Allah.”

He comes across as a naïve young man who wanted to make his life meaningful and found guidance in the Quran. He connected with like-minded youngsters. They checked out several groups and became convinced that ISIS is the best to join because its goal is clearly in tune with the Quran: the goal to spread the Islamic State further and further till the whole world is for Allah.

“Oh believers, fight them until there is no more mischief and the Deen of Allah (way of life prescribed by Allah) is established completely” (Quran 8.39)

“Oh believers, fighting has been made obligatory for you much to your dislike. It is quite possible that what you dislike is good for you… Allah knows and you do not.” (Quran 2.216)

“Those believers who stay at home – having no physical disabilities – are not equal to those who make Jihad in the cause of Allah with their wealth and person. Allah has granted a higher rank to those who make Jihad… They have special higher ranks, forgiveness and mercy. Allah is forgiving, merciful” Quran 4.95/6

Could Erhan and his friends have any doubt what these and similar passages mean? Does it need an Islam expert to interpret them? If the experts had come to the conclusion that those passages were meant exclusively for the contemporaries of Mohammed and not for all time thereafter, they should have said this loud and clear long ago – too much blood has been shed over the last 14 centuries, much of it in India. But those experts kept quiet. Does it follow that the Quran exhorts Muslims to fight till the “Deen of Allah is established’?

The command to fight the enemy appeals to young men. Islam is far more successful than Christianity to make men stand by their religion. Christianity is seen as a religion for women and children. At least that was the impression I got in my youth. Men generally went to Sunday mass in small town Bavaria, but they made sure not to look pious. They considered it a social affair to meet friends. Only the clergy can afford to look pious. It is different in Islam.

A German police study which questioned 45,000 students between 14 and 16 years of age about their level of religiosity and their readiness to be violent, confirmed this:

Girls were more religious than boys in all religions except in Islam, where boys were more religious than girls. Further the study found that those who considered themselves more religious were less inclined to be violent in all religions, except – again – in Islam. There the boys who considered themselves more religious were more inclined to be violent.

Even small boys like toy guns. Bigger boys want a good reason to fight. A divine command to fight those, who are evil, is the perfect reason for many youngsters. Further, there is the ‘divine promise’ that it will be a win-win situation: if one dies, one is guaranteed to enjoy paradise and if one lives, one may benefit from the wealth and the women of those killed.

There are many passages in the Quran where the unbelievers are portrayed as most despicable, for whom perdition and eternal hellfire are certain. Even the torture in hell is described in horrific detail:

“There are the two adversaries (the believers and disbelievers) who dispute with each other about their Rabb: as for the disbelievers, garments of Fire will be cut out for them, boiling water will be poured over their heads, which will not only melt their skins but also the inner parts of their bellies, and there will be maces of iron to lash them. Whenever, in their anguish, they cry to escape therefrom, they will be forced back therein, and will be told: “Taste the punishment of conflagration!” (Quran 22.19-22)

Do such passages explain the savagery of ISIS? Have the vivid images of hell over the centuries instigated the brutalities of the Christian Inquisition and of the Muslim invaders in India and elsewhere? Was there such brutality against civilians before the arrival of religions which claimed ‘eternal hellfire for unbelievers’?

If Erhan succeeds in going to Syria, he is ready to behead unbelievers and also Muslims who are not following what Allah really wants, he said. He does it for Allah, not for the virgins. Secondary incentives may exist. His friends in Syria share photos via Facebook. “They live in luxury, have computers, guns, snacks”, Erhan said.

This may sound attractive not only for young men, bored with the monotonous life in the west. For girls, too, it may be appealing to get ‘brave’ husbands and become part of a community of young people who have a genuine cause that is ordained by God himself as it were. Some German girls from a Christian background are also drawn to those intense, handsome men who are not shy to talk about Allah. “Only yesterday we converted a girl”, Erhan said.

It is difficult to see in him the ruthless terrorist. But he may turn out to become just that – a ruthless killer. He said that he would kill even his parents if they oppose the Islamic State. “In 20, 30 years the Islamic State will be in Germany and gradually will cover the whole planet”, he is sure.

Are we not responsible to stop these youngsters from destroying themselves and others? Yet is it possible as long as those passages are considered the word of Allah? Even if ISIS gets defeated in near future, new terror groups will continue to draw legitimacy from those passages, and powerbrokers can motivate youngsters for their own interests, making them believe that Allah will be pleased. Those passages have tremendous potential to mobilize youngsters for a cause that is worthwhile and just in their eyes. They don’t realize that they are used – like the US used the Taliban to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.

Erhan’s parents in Germany, his uncle in Turkey, imams of the local mosques – all tried to prevent him from turning radical. But what can they tell him? That he should not take the Quran seriously? That Allah didn’t mean what he said? Erhan considers those imams who are against ISIS as old, confused men. And logically he has a point, but it could also make him wonder why older Muslims, including imams, do not opt to become suicide bombers even if they have a serious illness. Are they not convinced that paradise is guaranteed by killing others?

“What can stop you”, the journalist asked him.

His answer: “Nobody can stop me.”

He is right. No outsider can stop him. If a Muslim tries to influence him, he will see in him a hypocrite who tests his faith in the ‘true’ Islam. And if an unbeliever tries to influence him, he is sure that he only wants him to leave the right path.

But there is one thing that can stop him: it is doubt.

Once doubt springs up on its own, it is not possible to regain the former blind belief. I know this from own experience, as I also once believed in eternal hell and that God wants everyone to be Christian. If Erhan starts wondering whether the compassionate Allah really wants all this killing, he can easily come out of the grip that blind belief has on his mind.

Curiously, this option of doubting the doctrine is not considered even by western ‘unbelievers’ who are portrayed so badly in it. Why? I can only guess that there is too much at stake for the powers that be.

If Islam comes under a cloud as not being the only true religion, Christianity will also come under a cloud, because both religions have a lot in common. The Abrahamic God will need to be questioned whether he can possibly be true.

This will be a major earthquake.

For centuries both religions have violently enforced their version of “the only truth” and demanded unquestionable respect. How can they allow their dogmas to be questioned? They managed to hold on to them for so long. They managed to get altogether over 3 billion people into their fold. How can they admit that dogmatic religions generally do not make human beings better, but on many occasions worse? They managed to successfully demean those traditions that are closer to the truth, especially India’s tradition. How can they let all this go waste?

So what is their solution? Put the head into the sand and declare: “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. Terror has no religion” and continue to hit out at those who are in a position to question your truth, so that they become defensive and won’t dare to challenge you for a debate.

The viciousness with which Christianity and Islam attack ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ almost seems to indicate that both consider Hindus a greater enemy than ISIS and other equally violent groups.

To some extent they are right.

India’s wisdom can expose the weak basis of their belief systems. This seems to be a great fear for them. The religions who claim to be the only true religions fear a genuine debate on what the truth is.

They don’t want to hear that truth cannot possibly be linked to only one name and only one concept, and that truth cannot possibly be dependent on some ‘correct’ thoughts in human heads. It is the eternal, indivisible, one consciousness in all.

Link to the interview in the magazine:

West’s Hindu (Sanatan dharma) Fobia in the Age of Science!

By: Maria Wirth

When I was in high school in Germany, I had a recurring phantasy. I imagined that some fine day the anchor in the news broadcast announces that science has found proof that God exists. This was at a time when doubts started creeping in whether it was true what I had believed so strongly in childhood, and such an announcement, I felt, would settle the issue once for all.

This was in the 1960s, when science made great strides for example in space exploration. Yuri Gagarin, the first astronaut in space, allegedly said after returning to earth that he had not seen any God out there. His statement did not carry too much weight, as he was Russian, and we Germans generally did not trust any Russian during the height of the cold war…

Still, for those of us who knew a little about history and were interested in science, ‘religion’ – which meant Christianity in Germany – came under scrutiny and did not come out of it unscathed. My elder sister was one of the first in our small town who rejected officially her membership in the Church, undoubtedly influenced by her husband who did so as well. My mother was very concerned – not so much that my sister would now burn in hell for all eternity, but what ‘the people will think’. I, only 15 at that time, got the message not to follow suit.

It was a big dilemma. I intuitively believed in God, a supreme, all-mighty Being, that is the cause of our existence and somehow ‘knows’ what we think, feel and do, but I could not reconcile what religion told me about this God. I could not believe that he is so unfair, even cruel, that he would let me burn forever in hell only because I had skipped Sunday mass.

The fear of hell had been real for me as a child. I had skipped Sunday mass once when I was 9 years old and was terrified that I could die before I had confessed my ‘sin’ to the priest. I was sure that in that case, I would go straight into hellfire. (Skipping Sunday mass was a cardinal sin for Catholics at that time with hell as punishment).

Now, being older, this fear had left me. Eternal hell after a life of a few years simply did not make sense. This claim seemed rather a tool to frighten people into falling in line with the doctrine. Furthermore, why would the creator of all human beings punish the majority of them with hell because they believed in another religion? Why did this God not let everyone be born in a Christian family if he wants everyone to believe in the Bible? Or be born into a Muslim family if he wanted all to follow the Quran?

It did not make sense and I was not interested anymore in religion, even more so when I read in the library of my uncle, who was a priest, about the violent history of the Church and its suppression of scientific knowledge. Can anyone imagine the pain of a scientist who knew for sure that the earth goes around the sun but had to keep quiet because it was politically incorrect to have such a (correct) view? How painful must it have been for Galileo for example to realize that the Church was the sole arbiter of what is true, even if it is clearly not true?

Fortunately, courageous men like Voltaire and others struggled hard and succeeded to restrict the power of religion. Secularism was introduced, blasphemy laws repealed, and now science flourished in Europe. However, there was no connection to religion. Religion did not foster science. Science flourished in spite of religion, not because of it. Or did it?

Here, maybe we should finally define ‘religion’.

Strangely, there is no clear-cut definition. The common denominator is usually that religion is about the belief in and worship of the Divine, God or whatever name one wants to give it.  Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism are the major religions. Minor ones are Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, etc. Yet why are all these different traditions put into one basket and called ‘religion’? Is this justified?

‘Religion’ comes from Latin and means ‘to bind’. It was first used for the Catholic Church. Later, when the Turks were at the gates of Vienna, Islam was also called ‘religion’.

Why was a new term introduced? Was the term Christianity not clear? It surely was as it referred to the followers of Christ. What else needed to be conveyed? To what had the follower of Christ to be bound?

Since Christianity and Islam both have fixed doctrines contained in certain books and both claim that only their doctrine is true and whoever does not believe this will burn in hell, it can be safely assumed that the term religion indicated that the followers were bound to the exclusivist doctrine of Christianity or Islam respectively – over many centuries even at the threat of death if they tried to loosen the bond. They had to ‘religiously’ stick to the tenets given by the clergy, like going to mass on Sunday or praying five times a day at specified times.

In exchange for this loyalty to the doctrine, the believers were left in peace from blasphemy laws and promised heaven after death. Further they were assured that they are on the ‘right’ path when there are ‘wrong’ paths as well. In short, God loves them, but not the others.

Where does Hinduism fit in in this scenario? Actually, it doesn’t fit in. It does not bind its followers to a fixed doctrine. It not only allows a free enquiry but encourages it. No blind belief in unverifiable dogmas is demanded. Yet in the 19th century, the term religion was now used for the ancient traditions from India, China and Japan, as well. And intriguingly, all those traditions got an ‘ism’ added: Hindu-ism, Buddh-ism, Tao-ism, Jain-ism…

Usually an -ism is associated with a narrow doctrine, developed by one person like Marxism, Stalinism, Maoism or has otherwise a negative image like Nazism or “Islam-ism”, which is meant to be seen as different and worse than Islam. That Juda-ism, which always was at the receiving end of Christianity and Islam, also got an –ism just would confirm that the –ism is not as ‘noble’ as the ending of the two “only true” religions.

Did the west try to obfuscate the fact that the Eastern traditions, foremost of all the Indian, had profound philosophies at their core and portray them also as ‘belief-systems’ with unverifiable dogmas at their core? For millennia these eastern traditions have lived harmoniously together without fighting each other but rather debating each other, in stark contrast to Christianity and Islam.

One thing is clear: Christianity/ Islam on one side and India’s traditions on the other are two very different categories:

One group makes unverifiable claims about the truth, demands blind belief in those claims and threatens with dire consequences, while the other group freely enquires into the truth by inner exploration, debates, guided by the ancient texts and saints who had experienced being one with all.

For one group the goal of life is to reach heaven and avoid hell after death by religiously sticking to the doctrine which is taught. The other group sees the goal in realising the blissful truth that we are one with all in the depth of our own being while we are alive.

One group depends on conversion and indoctrination to gain followers, while Hinduism is Sanatana (eternal) Dharma (righteous way of living).

Every Christian or Muslim had forefathers who were not Christians or Muslims. At the start, often the sword was used to convert, as the ‘truth’ of the dogmas was not self-evident and even went against common sense. Later, indoctrination of children and blasphemy laws kept the followers subdued.

The reason why conversion is necessary for the dogmatic religions is simple:

Suppose a community on some island is completely unconnected to the modern world. They will never become Christians or Muslims because they need to be told a story from the past about God sending his only son to earth 2000 years ago, or about Allah sending Mohammed as his last prophet some 1400 years ago.

Yet if these islanders deeply enquired into what is true and how to live a righteous life, they might come to similar conclusions like Sanatana Dharma, as it does not depend on some event in history. It requires deep enquiry into That what truly is – eternally.

Yet let me go back to my personal discovery of a connection between science and ‘religion’.

Meanwhile, I had stopped going to mass. When I told it to my mother, her reaction was, “And what if you go to hell?” “I won’t go to hell”, I replied. If there is a God, he surely won’t be so petty-minded to insist on a specific way of worshipping him. I also had had some inkling that indeed, there may be a God. An article on modern physics had explained that all is basically one energy and the different forms in this world are not really solid or separate entities. Strangely, this made sense and I felt: If there is a God then that one energy must be him.

Yet in the 1970s, we students at Hamburg University were so ‘modern and progressive’ that we would have rather bitten our tongues than admit that we believed in God. Yet it was ok to be interested in Buddhism or Transcendental Meditation (TM) or Bhagawan Rajneesh, as Osho was called then.

I even took initiation into TM. The Beatles had paved the way. I loved those 20 minutes of meditation in the morning and evening. Yet there was a lot of negative reporting in German newspapers about TM at that time. The Church had set up commissioners for sects, and warned one can go mad by meditating. Parents were asked to keep an eye on their children so that they don’t fall prey to the brainwashing of those sects. Maybe, this negative propaganda had its influence because I stopped meditating after two years.

Even more than TM, the Hare Krishna ‘sect’ was demeaned and ridiculed by the media. Their followers were portrayed as weird, mad chaps. Hinduism already had a bad image. I had learnt in primary school that it was about a terrible caste system and untouchables. Now the media did their best to make it look even worse.

In December 1979 I planned to go to Australia with a stopover in India. This stopover became a turning point in my life. It lasted meanwhile 37 years. The reason why I stayed on in India ironically was because of the much maligned Hinduism. I realised the amazing depth and breadth of Hinduism and wondered, why it was portrayed so wrongly as a primitive, oppressive religion when it is actually the best option for mankind. The Dalai Lama said that India has great potential to help the world. He is right and the negative propaganda in the west is wrong. Hinduism is least dogmatic and closest to the truth. If it binds at all, it binds or rather unites (yog) the individual with the Divine.

Back to my stopover. I visited the southern tip of India, Kanya Kumari. A little off the coast on a huge rock, there is a memorial for Swami Vivekananda. At a bookstall there, I bought ‘Jnana Yoga’. I had not heard of Swami Vivekananda, but wanted to learn about Indian thought while in India.

Swami Vivekananda had swum to this rock to meditate in December 1892. His guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, had died in Calcutta six years earlier. The young man had realised that under British rule his countrymen had purposely been cut off from their culture. He wanted to wake them up, give them back their self-respect and pride in their Hindu tradition.

On this rock, he decided to participate at the World Congress of Religions in Chicago in 1893, and present Advaita Vedanta, one of the highest flowerings among the different Indian philosophical systems. Advaita Vedanta is explained in the Upanishads, the last part (=anta) of the Vedas, and postulates that essentially, everything is a Whole (a-dwaita = not two).

Swami Vivekananda became the star of the World Congress. He got a standing ovation, and was asked to give a lecture tour in the US. He was sought after by influential persons, including scientists like Tesla. But the Christians went after him. In his own words at a lecture at the Victoria Hall in Madras after coming back to India:

“There is not one black lie imaginable that the Christian missionaries did not invent against me. They blackened my character from city to city, poor and friendless though I was in a foreign country. They tried to oust me from every house and to make every man who became my friend my enemy. They tried to starve me out.”

Why did the Christians do this? Did they fear that people realise that Advaita Vedanta makes far more sense than their dogmatic belief-system?

I read ‘Jnana Yoga’, and it was fascinating. Swami Vivekananda expressed clearly what I vaguely had felt to be true. For example that all is interconnected or rather: ONE. Everything in this creation including ourselves is permeated by the same great intelligence, like waves are permeated by the same ocean. The waves may be convinced that they are separate from the ocean as they have a distinct form and name. But ultimately all the waves are nothing but the one great ocean and nothing is lost when their form is lost. Similarly, though we may consider our person as separate from others, in truth we are the one consciousness and nothing of substance is lost when form and name are lost.

Further, Swami Vivekananda claimed that the so called reality is not really real. It is a sense deception, in a similar way, as at dusk a rope is mistakenly seen as a snake, even though in reality there is only a rope. Truly true, he claimed, is our inner being (Atman) that permeates everything and makes all appearances miraculously shine forth. It is infinite, eternal. It is not an object that can be seen with the eyes or thought of with the mind.

“Brahman is not what the eyes can see but That whereby the eyes can see. Brahman is not what the mind can think but That whereby the mind can think…” declares the Kena Upanishad. It is however possible to be Brahman. Rather, we are it already – “Ayam Atman Brahman” (the individual consciousness is one with the universal consciousness) is one of the Mahavakyas (great uttarances)  of Vedanta.

Now this ocean analogy of all being one sounded almost like that article on modern physics which I had read in high school. How come? Did the scientists discover this independently or were their theories inspired by the Vedas? Had the scientists reflected on the profound insights of the Indian rishis?

Indeed this had been the case. The great scientists who were responsible for replacing Newton’s paradigm of a universe full of separate ‘things’ with an interconnected, homogeneous Whole were inspired by Vedanta: Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Pauli, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Tesla and others, all knew about and reflected on India’s ancient wisdom.

The Church was surely not amused that the brightest brains in the Occident endorsed Indian wisdom and she might have schemed to blacken this image by teaching schoolchildren all over the world that ‘Hinduism’ means a bad caste system and sinful idol worship. I heard already in primary school about ‘untouchables’ which left a lasting, negative impression about Hinduism. The Brahmins, it was claimed, were the worst. Little did I know then, that the Brahmins had taken great pains to memorize and preserve the Vedas for posterity, and the atrocities of the caste system come nowhere near the atrocities by Christians and Muslims in the name of their god.

In 1982, an international conference on the “convergence of ancient wisdom and modern science” was held in Bombay and I wrote about it for a German magazine. The program for the conference explained that India was purposely chosen as the venue as the scientific theories propounded were based on ancient Indian insights. This was as explicit as it could get: Indian wisdom helped scientists to formulate their theories.

Fritjof Capra, Rupert Sheldrake, Karl Pribram and other scientists explained that new research in physics, biology, neurology and other subjects clearly pointed to a convergence between ancient wisdom and modern science. Scientists, while searching for the substance of things, had stumbled upon a homogeneous ONE energy. Matter and energy are interchangeable and the three dimensional space and the linear time have become the four dimensional space-time–continuum that is beyond human imagination. There are no separate objects or separate existences. Everything is related and is in perpetual movement. Fritjof Capra likened it to Shiva Nataraj – the dancing Shiva.

So it was now scientifically approved that our senses deceive us and that nothing that the senses perceive truly exists –in tune with the ancient Indian concept of Maya. And science is considered as the highest authority regarding the truth. Is this view justified?

Psychology also got a major facelift at the conference thanks to transpersonal psychology. It was a new branch that was based on the Hindu concept of Atman – the transpersonal or transcendental essence in all human beings. The core of Vedanta are the four Mahavakyas of the Upanishads, which proclaim that Atman (the individual consciousness) is one with Brahman (the universal consciousness), like in “Ayam Atman Brahman”.

Finally Sanatana Dharma got its due, I felt. The comforting knowledge of unity would surely not stay only in the heads of some scientists but would influence the lives of the common people. After all, according to Hinduism, the goal of life is to realise what we truly are – not a separate person but Satchitananda, – blissful awareness.

My optimism was wrong.

If anything, there were even greater attempts to hide the profound philosophy and the contribution of India to science since the early 1980s and to prevent the common man from appreciating the Hindu way of life.

Let’s take transcendental psychology. At the conference in 1982, Swami Muktananda gave a presentation of the non-dual tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. The participants were taken to his ashram in Ganeshpuri. It was not made a secret that he was the guru of Christina and Stanislav Groff, who organised the conference on behalf of the Association of Transpersonal Psychotherapy.

Yet today, in the internet age, Wikipedia says about “transpersonal psychology” at the start:

“Amongst the thinkers who are held to have set the stage for transpersonal studies are William James, Carl Jung, Robert Assagioli and Abraham Maslow.  Commentators also mention the psychedelic movement, the psychological study of religion, parapsychology, and the interest in Eastern spiritual systems and practices, as influences that shaped the early field of transpersonal psychology.”

Not a word about India. Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism, which deserved to be mentioned before all other contributors, is missing. The long Wikipedia piece ends with a revealing remark:

“According to Cunningham, transpersonal psychology has been criticized by some Christian authors as being “a mishmash of ‘New Age’ ideas that offer an alternative faith system to vulnerable youths who turn their backs on organized religion (Adeney, 1988)”.

Those Christian authors do not offer arguments to rebut the new (ancient) theory of a transpersonal self but call it names: “mishmash of new age ideas”. They fear that vulnerable youth turn their back on organised religion.

Why do they threat this scenario? Obviously they do not even try to evaluate whether the ‘I’-feeling could indeed be transpersonal and the same in all: whether the new theory could be closer to the truth is not an issue for them. Loyalty to the ‘revealed truth’ overrides it. The mind is stuck in a straitjacket.

A pious Christian cannot allow himself to think freely. The Christian doctrine is the unquestionable truth for him. Of course this applies not only to authors but also to scientists. There may be self-censorship regarding the theories they propose.

Can a pious Christian archaeologist even consider that human civilisation started millions of years ago? How would he explain that God sent the Bible so late to humankind? He would be in serious trouble. A genuine dialogue between science and religion within his mind cannot happen. A Hindu in contrast would have no problem; on the contrary, he is encouraged to think in huge timeframes. Even one mahayuga (cycle of the four yugas) lasts 4,32 million years and there are many much greater cycles.

Could Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Einstein and others have pushed the frontiers of science and even done away with the reality of individual persons if they had been pious Christians? Probably not.

Yet strangely, even today western scientists consciously or unconsciously close their eyes to the huge contributions of India to science. For most of them, the world ends in Greece.

In an interview with National Geographic in 2015, the Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg talked about great scientists. He went back to Archimedes, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton and Leibniz, but not a word about India, for example that the Rig Veda, the most ancient scripture in the world, in 10.22.14 already stated that the earth goes around the sun, yet Copernicus is credited with this discovery. Or that the Rishis had estimated the age of the universe correctly. Is Weinberg ignorant about those contributions or why would he not mention for example the Baudhyana sutras which contained the Pythagoras Theorem long before Pythagoras was born, or Aryabhatta who was a path-breaking mathematician and Astronomer of the 5th century CE? Why are Indians not credited with the work they did, but their insights were often lifted and appeared under western or Arabic names? The infinity Foundation is documenting the Indian knowledge of science and technology in 20 volumes and substantiated many such cases.

The interviewer of Steven Weinberg also did not ask about India, but he did ask about “the golden age of Islamic science”.

Weinberg, a Jew, clarified that the scientists were not doing Islamic science, but science and many leading scientists during this golden age were actually irreligious or hostile to religion. He might have said this from personal experience, too. In our modern times, scientists with Jewish names are clearly overrepresented, yet nobody ever suggested, least of all those scientists, that we live in “the golden age of Jewish science.”

Al Jazeera aired a documentary on the great Muslim scientists recently, yet if one looks closer, the source of many of the inventions those scientists are credited with, for example the decimal system or algebra, is India. In India even the steel (Wootz) of the famed Damascus sword was produced.

Dogmatic religions never fostered science. What sadder example can there be than the burning of the great Nalanda University by Islamic marauders in 1193 AD. The collected treasure of the best minds was turned into ash and thousands of students were killed. Voltaire rightly said, “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Yet times are changing. The awareness that we would be better off without dogmatic religions is growing. Christianity is losing its hold over the mind of its followers in the west. And Islam is more and more scrutinised, too, in spite of media trying its best to out ‘Islamophobia’ as unacceptable.

But let’s find out why science flourished in India in ancient times and why Sanatana Dharma did not obstruct it. The reason is simple: Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism is based on science, or rather, it is science. Veda (from Sanskrit) means knowledge and science (from Latin) means also knowledge. Science is defined as knowledge gained from observation and experimentation. The rishis added one more method – knowledge gained from inner exploration. This inner exploration or meditation lifts Hindu Dharma actually above science and the arrogance which scientists often show towards Hindu practices is unwarranted and stems from ignorance.

“Science is also a religion. It also depends on belief”, a friend who holds a doctorate in physics said once provocatively. He has a point. The scientists believe in theories that seem to explain what they observe. Yet they don’t know for sure whether they are true. For example mainstream scientists still hold that consciousness is a kind of by-product of the brain. They may have to revise this theory ultimately.

Maybe one could say that science is in between Christianity and Islam on one side and Sanatana Dharma on the other. It is not rigid as the dogmatic religions are, because it is open to change if new insights emerge. But it is lacking the most important knowledge – the knowledge of That which alone is true.

Scientists have discovered the oneness of all, but for them the oneness is dead, without life. The rishis have discovered the oneness many thousand years earlier, but for them this oneness is alive and knows itself. So far the rishis have never been proven wrong in areas which were tested, like the age of the universe or even the distance between the sun and the earth.

Would it not make sense for modern scientists to take their claim seriously that the underlying all-pervading, pure consciousness – satchitananda – is the eternal truth, and names and forms are more like virtual reality. The truth is not something abstract, cold, and theoretical. It is the conscious, loving essence in all.

It follows that everything is sacred, everything is permeated by satchitananda. So is it really so incomprehensible when Hindus worship rivers, trees, the sun or the cow who gives so much to human beings and herself is so peaceful with the most beautiful eyes? Is it not arrogance and hypocrisy on the part of western scientists, when they rush to debunk as superstitious unexplained happenings, which Hindus consider as wondrous, yet keep mum when miracles are ascribed to Christian ‘saints’ like to Mother Teresa recently?

Are Hindus not far more on target when they see Divinity in all? Is it not true? Is it ‘more true’ to see the sun only as a ball of helium? Or water only as H2O? The Aerospace Institute in Stuttgart conducted research which indicated that water has memory. Does it not mean it is alive?

Or take the cow: Now scientists discovered that the indigenous Indian cows give better milk then for example Jersey cows. Traces of gold were confirmed in the milk of Indian cows which is useful in Ayurveda. Swami Ramdev is setting up special cow research institutes, to confirm the long held Indian beliefs about the usefulness of even the cow urine for example. How long will western scientists mock Indians worshipping the cow or using her urine as medicine?

Great scientists like Einstein did not demean spiritual practices but were aware of the huge amount of knowledge that they are NOT aware of. Lesser scientists quickly ridicule what is unfamiliar to them. Or are these scientists caught in their fixed Christian belief system and cannot think beyond it?

According to Indian texts, we live presently in a dark era, the Kali Yuga, where people are materialistic and their mind power is weak. They wrongly think that they are only body and mind. Many thousand years earlier, in the Satya Yuga, Treta Yug and Dwarpara Yug, human beings had a better connection to the spiritual dimension of their own being. For them “Aham Brahmasmi” was more real than it is for us today.

Yet the realisation of true knowledge won’t come by thinking. It comes by sinking into the vast intelligence from where thoughts emerge. Intuition springs from there. And somebody who can tap this intelligence naturally can bring superior knowledge into his mind and express it.

When the mind is stilled by dropping thoughts, the divine dimension of one’s being shines forth. True inspiration and intuition come from this level, and true happiness as well. It is this, our true nature, which we are all seeking in our pursuit of happiness. We won’t find lasting happiness among the names and forms.

And how to drop thoughts? In the Vijnanabhairava, one of the texts of Kashmir Shaivism, 112 methods are described. Maybe they are already patented in the west and come to India in the form of seminars held by foreigners charging hefty fees? The participants from the English speaking Indian elite would not notice, as they still, like under British rule, don’t learn anything about their tradition, not even about their ancient history.

The Chandogya Upanishad describes how the sage Uddalaka prodded his son Svetaketu to know “That by knowing which everything is known” and how he helped him along with valuable questions and metaphors. Today, scientists like Hawking, also search for ‘That by knowing which everything is known’ but they still have a blind spot. They don’t search where it is to be found: Within their own consciousness.

And no, I don’t dream anymore that the anchor in a news broadcast announces that scientists discovered proof that God exists. I realised that scientific proofs are valid only within assumptions that have been proven already not to be absolutely true. The apple falls down, ok, but ultimately there is no apple…

“I am” alone is self-evident. It is the truth that needs not to be proven. This truth is our greatest treasure. It is supreme, blissful Intelligence. It is within all of us. In English one could call it ‘God’.

(Note: This article originally appeared HERE)

‘Thank you, Vivekananda’, from Maria Wirth

By: Maria Wirth

I had not come to India for spiritual reasons. Yes, I was interested in spirituality, but Hinduism seemed an obscure religion and I associated stereotypes like polytheism and caste system that I had heard already in school in Germany. Like many westerners, I was interested in Buddhism, but did not connect Buddhism with India, rather with Tibet or Japan. At that time I did not know that the British colonial masters had skilfully crafted this negative image of Hinduism, as they had realised that they could not subdue India, unless they break Indians away from their great culture.

I visited wildlife sanctuaries and travelled to Kanya Kumari. There, a little off the coast on a huge rock, is a memorial for Swami Vivekananda. I crossed over on a ferry. At a bookstall, I bought ‘Jnana Yoga’. I had not heard of Swami Vivekananda, but felt it would be sensible to learn about Indian thought while in India.

Swami Vivekananda had swum to this rock to meditate in December 1892. His guru, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, had died in Calcutta six years earlier. The young man had fire in his belly. He realised that his countrymen had fallen into torpor under British rule. He wanted to wake them up, give them back their self-respect and pride in their tradition.

On this rock, it dawned on him that he should participate at the World Congress of Religions in Chicago in 1893, and represent Advaita Vedanta, one of the highest flowerings among the different Indian philosophical systems. Advaita Vedanta is explained in the Upanishads, the last part (anta) of the Vedas, and postulates that basically, everything is a unity (a-dwaita = not two) – a view to which modern science meanwhile also subscribes.

Swami Vivekananda went to Chicago. He had neither been invited, nor had he registered for the congress. The first night he slept at the railway station in Chicago, and then went to a residential area to beg for food. A well to do lady noticed the young Indian on the pavement from the window of her apartment and sent her servant to bring him in. She was greatly impressed by his personality and wisdom and had the right connections to get him the opportunity to give a presentation at the world congress.

On September 11th, 1893 he stood on the dais – a young man of 30, dressed in a silk robe, with a silk turban on his head – and began his talk, “Sisters and brothers of America”. He couldn’t continue to speak. Thunderous applause greeted him for several minutes. What had happened? “He was the only one who meant what he said”, a commentator explained it at that time.

This young man became world famous. He contributed significantly to the renaissance of Indian wisdom in India and in the west.

I studied ‘Jnana Yoga’ and it felt like breathing fresh air after having been confined in a sticky room. It was truly an eye-opener. Swami Vivekananda expressed clearly what I vaguely had felt to be true. For example he postulated that all is interconnected or rather: ONE. Everything in this creation including ourselves is permeated by the same great power, like waves are permeated by the same ocean. The waves may think that they are separate from the ocean as they have a distinct form and name. They may even cling to their (temporary) form and be afraid to lose it, but ultimately all the waves are nothing but the one great ocean and nothing is lost when their form is lost. Similarly, though we may consider ourselves as separate from others and cling to our impermanent person, in truth we are the one consciousness and nothing of substance is lost when form and name are lost.

Further Swami Vivekananda claimed that the so called reality is not really real. It is a sense deception, in a similar way, as at dusk a rope is mistakenly seen as a snake, even though in reality there is only a rope. Truly true, he claimed, is our inner being that permeates everything and makes all appearances miraculously shine forth. It is infinite, eternal. It is not an object that can be seen with the eyes or thought of with the mind. It is however possible to be it. Rather, we are it already. All is this oneness, this consciousness.

Vivekananda did not hesitate to tell his American audience frankly, what he thought about their society. He considered it hypocritical. ‘What is the use of your proud talk about your society, if truth has no place in it?’ he asked. ‘What you call progress is according to me nothing more than the multiplication of desires. And if one thing is clear to me it is this: desires bring misery.’

He also was critical of religion. He admitted that it may be helpful for weak people, but asked, ‘Are not all prevalent religious practises weakening and therefore wrong?’ He wanted strong human beings who worship the spirit by the spirit. His ideal he expressed in a few words: ‘to preach unto mankind their divinity and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.’ What bold thoughts and what clarity!

Swami Vivekananda was given a triumphal welcome when he came back home. Yet his health had suffered during his early wanderings across India, and he died in 1902, at the age of only 39.

Nevertheless, Swami Vivekananda achieved great things He restored pride in India’s wisdom and put the west philosophically and socially into place. He explained in clear and simple terms why Indians can be proud of their tradition which is based on deep insights of the rishis and is meant to be experienced and expressed in life. It is not about confessing a creed. It is not about blind belief in dogmas. “It is as much a science as any in the world”, the Swami had declared. It is about enquiry, analysis and finally intimately knowing and directly experiencing the truth.  “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached!”

Thank you, Swamiji!

(Note: This article was originally published HERE)

Why India is defamed in the name of ‘Caste Discrimination’

By: Maria Wirth

Intellectual integrity and truth are obviously unwanted in our times. These have been displaced by political correctness. Why this happened is a mystery, but mainstream media and other agencies vehemently enforce the politically correct opinion.

They drum into us powerfully what we should think even if it goes against common sense. Let me give an example.

When in 1999, the Pope declared in India that the Church will plant the cross in Asia in the 21st century, media portrayed it as ok. After all, the Church has the duty to spread Christianity all over the world, so the Pope is just doing his duty.

When people like Zakir Naik conduct mass conversion of Hindus to Islam, media ignores it or tells us that it is ok. After all, Islam also needs to spread till all of humanity has become Muslims.

When, however, a Hindu group brings back some of those who had converted out of Hindu Dharma, the media goes hyper: those Hindu groups are communal and divisive forces who want to disturb the plural fabric of our society and establish an intolerant Hindu rashtra.

The ranting goes on for days on TV channels.

Why do media get it so wrong?

Clearly, the truth is the opposite. Of the three religions, only Hindu or Sanatana Dharma is not divisive and not communal. Only this eternal Dharma considers all as family – Vasudaivam kutumbakam – without any precondition.

In contrast, Christianity and Islam, which are sort of newcomers in the religious field, divide humanity into believers and unbelievers. The believers are right and the unbelievers wrong. The believers are loved by the Supreme and can go to heaven and the unbelievers, even if they lived a virtuous life, are thrown into hell by the Supreme personally. And all those claims are made without any proof.

Are these unsubstantiated claims not intolerant, communal and divisive, apart from not being true?

So in all fairness, the term “divisive forces” must be applied to Christianity and Islam and not to Hindu Dharma.

Yet even suggesting this is likely to get the ‘liberal’ elite into fits. They are dead sure that only Hindu Dharma is divisive and needs to be stopped from spreading. But WHY are they so sure?

To explain it, let’s go back to the 18th and 19th century, when the ancient knowledge of the Vedas first reached western universities. The intellectual elite there were deeply impressed and wanted more of it.

Prominent personalities like Voltaire, Mark Twain, Schopenhauer, the Schlegel brothers, Paul Deussen and many others spoke in glowing terms about India’s heritage. In the early 20th century scientists like Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Pauli, Oppenheimer, Einstein or Tesla were in their research inspired by Vedanta and acknowledged it.

So what changed? How did Hindu tradition lose the esteem of people worldwide – so much so that now it is considered even by western academics as the worst of all religions?

The reason for all this hostility dawned on me when I recently read that Voltaire, too, had praised the Vedas as the greatest gift for humanity.

Voltaire was in the forefront of fighting the Church. He went to prison for it.

Clearly the Church was not amused that western intellectuals praised Indian wisdom as much superior to Christianity. There was real danger that the Church would lose her sheep as it had already lost the power to punish those who dared to disagree with the Church.

The Christian view of the ‘true’ God, who sits in heaven, is jealous of other gods and sends all those who are not baptized into eternal hellfire, was no match for the Indian concept of Brahman which is the one conscious essence in all the different forms, like the one ocean is the essence in all the different waves.

“Brahman is not what the eyes can see but That whereby the eyes can see. Brahman is not what the mind can think but That whereby the mind can think” (Kena Upanishad).

Such profound insights severely challenged the simplistic view of a personal God who cruelly punishes all those who worshipped him under another name or form.

The Church must have been genuinely worried that the ‘Christian’ God would be seen as an invention by the Church to keep its members under control and submissive – which in all likelihood comes close to the truth but of course must never be known to the common people.

So it would make sense that the Church – in collaboration with state powers which also had an interest to keep the myth of western superiority intact – developed a strategy to put an end to this praise of India’s great civilization.

And the strategy was simple and time-tested: Teach children all over the world negative aspects about Hinduism (all Indian traditions got an “ism”- ending in the English language which made them look dogmatic) and after some 15 years, the new generation will not even want to know anything about Hinduism. They will be convinced that it is worthless because their teachers said so.

And what were these negative aspects they wanted students to associate with Hinduism?

Obviously first and foremost an “oppressive caste system” and next “idol-worship”.

The most unfortunate part was that this strategy was implemented in India, the source of this ancient knowledge, as well.

Thomas Macauley correctly analyzed that the Sanskrit culture is India’s backbone. It needed to be broken if the British wanted to subdue the ‘natives’.

Macauley’s advice was followed and the Sanskrit education system was replaced with the English one. And even more unfortunate – this English education system continued even after Independence till now.

The strategy worked.

Already in primary school in a small Bavarian town, I knew that India had a terrible caste system and untouchables. We saw pictures of poor, miserable Indians and it left a bad, lasting impression.

At that age, I knew nothing about the Holocaust of Jews and gypsies in Germany. It was left to the initiative of our Latin teacher in High School to impress on us what happened in the concentration camps by showing us a documentary.

Neither were we told in school that all societies have a caste or class system and that the Vedic analogy of a society being like a human body was actually ingenious. Caste as such is not bad. Every society needs to be structured. Looking down on lower castes is bad. Yet this is a human weakness all over the world and not advocated by sacred texts.

Since the claim “India has the most terrible caste system” was, and still is, a strategy to put Hinduism and Hindus down, fairness was not to be expected.

Otherwise it would become quickly clear that the sins against humanity by the Whites and Arabs were far greater than those by Indians. Slavery, colonialism, the Christianization of the Americas, the Muslim invasions, and even today discrimination against women, racism especially against Jews and Blacks, cruel oppression and terrorism in the name of religion took the lives of many millions of human beings.

Indians come nowhere near their horrific record and have no need to go on the defensive.

Yet unfortunately Hindus fall into the trap and become defensive.

They enact more laws in favour of backward castes or women, but they of course cannot satisfy those who do not want to be satisfied.

Virulent attacks on Hindus and their tradition continue in Indian and foreign media, often from persons with Hindu names – Macauley’s children.

These attacks have the same purpose as the indoctrination of kids with distorted, insincere info on Hinduism: nobody should discover the depth and profundity of the Indian tradition, least of all Hindus.

Fortunately for India and the world, there are still highly knowledgeable Sanskrit pandits. Yet the mainstream, especially the youth, tends to look west for inspiration which will make them feel lost and without direction in the long run.

Isn’t it time to set things right, turn around and ask uncomfortable questions for example during the next Interfaith Dialogue?

Ask on what basis Christianity and Islam claim that the Supreme Being, the creator of us all, is so cruel and unfair that he throws billions of humans, including all Hindus, for all eternity into hell after one single life, that might have lasted only a few days or may have been lived virtuously and with greatest integrity for 100 years?

If they say that the Highest himself has revealed this truth, tell them that the Vedas also have been revealed by the Highest (as well as other scriptures) and the Vedas claim that the Supreme Being is present in all as blissful awareness and nobody is damned forever. All get chance after chance to realize their divine essence.

So (they need to be told that) since there are divergent views, there needs to be an intelligent debate about which view is more likely to be true and which can possibly even be proven to be true.

However, Christian and Muslim delegates may not be interested in truth as this would endanger the basis on which their whole religious system is built – blind belief in unverifiable dogmas.

Therefore, to bring truthfulness to the discourse is the sole responsibility of the Hindu delegates.

That they fulfill their responsibility is in the interest of all humanity, including Christians and Muslims, except maybe of those who earn their livelihood by peddling religion.

Many Christians turned atheists, because they lost faith in ‘God’, but didn’t realize that there is a very different perspective of ‘God’ possible which makes far more sense than atheism – the perspective of the Indian Rishis.

If Hindu Dharma were better known (and for this very reason it needs to be spread for the benefit of humanity) it will become clear that it was portrayed as the worst option for humanity, so that nobody should know that it is actually the BEST option.

(Note: this article was originally posted Here )

You may read a related article HERE.

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