Monday, August 11, 2014

Amazing relationships

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life After Death

I gave this speech on Life after Death in March , though I received the VCD only  recently. I have uploaded it to my account (named Prakash Shesh) on You Tube and am giving you a link to it, below. Rotary Club of Nagpur had a record attendance of about 150 that day and as was expected, the speech generated a lot of debate . I am sure you will enjoy listening to it. 

Do let me have your comments - you can post them on the you tube channel itself.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Religion: Do the minuses exceed the pluses??

Most of us swear about the efficacy of our religion. Ardent followers of religion are unanimous that it makes you emotional to the point of crying with pleasure, gives immense happiness and peace of mind and also throws light on the purpose of why you are on this earth. It guides you in your difficult times, gives solace when you are heartbroken and tells you that your journey is not really complete when you die. It teaches you to live a good and ethical life with high moral standards, asks you to love thy fellow human beings and promises that HE will not disappoint you if you pray honestly, ask for HIS forgiveness and recognize that the path of your life has already been charted by HIM. Religion also promises that you can woo the almighty if HE has turned away from you so that you can regain your place as a loyal follower in his flock. So strong is the "mind share" that religion enjoys in the minds of its followers that even those who do not agree with its principles are scared to walk away and risk losing their identity.

Alas - if only all these were TRUE!

Now let's look at the flip side!

[1] Why have most of the wars in this world been fought in the name of religion?

[2] Why does religion induce in its followers, a "trance" - terribly inhibiting their powers to use the brain?

[3] Why does it refuse to subject itself to what I would call a simple "third party audit'?

[4] Why does it profess hypotheses that it wants others to disprove?

[5] Why can't it accept that far from being divine, all religions and their supreme deities are so obviously man - made?

Have you ever wondered why the animal kingdom has no GOD? Do you see lions or crows worshiping a supreme power (of their own)? Human beings have far superior brains and are thus capable of creatively defining ideas that otherwise have no back-up evidence. 

The concept of an all powerful leader (God) must have been born from the time human beings started living in communes. Every group of human beings has a leader who is powerful and who enjoys special perquisites in return of protecting the clan. Members of the group look up to the leader to provide succour and offer him goodies to seek his benevolence and shape their destiny. The concept of God is obviously inspired from this social behaviour of human beings. This innate need was channeled into what now appears to us as formal religion with its unique "life after death" idea associated with the structure of rewards and punishments. What a massive delusion?

There is an argument that says that even if God is a virtual concept, it does give solace to millions who  otherwise would not know how to lessen their sufferings and dream of a happier future. According to the placebo effect you can link any effect with any cause and get a success rate of about 15% so why not allow these 15% (at least) to take advantage of this delusion in stead of educating them about the futility of expecting continuous benefits from religion? Doesn't this sound like a doctor administering anesthesia to a patient who has broken his leg so that the latter does not feel the pain?

There is however one great positive that cannot be taken away from religions - they generate un paralleled commerce benefiting so many individuals. If religions somehow vanished from face of the earth, bankruptcies would increase.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dissection of last fortnights' Delicious news

[1] Reebok fined for misleading butt-enhancers

The famous shoe manufacturer had to dish out 25 million US dollars (125 crore Rupees) for falsely claiming that a particular model of theirs helped the wearer develop a perfect posterior. The model was appropriately called "Easy Tone" (was it expected to make the butts be "easy" on the eyes of the beholder?). Reebok, while paying the penalty was defiant: It said, "Settling the fine does not mean we agree with the allegations - we have received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from thousands of Easy Tone customers". That surely is a perfectly diplomatic half - truth because for them to have agreed to this public humiliation, they must have received overwhelmingly negative feedback from maybe millions of Easy Tone customers.

One fact that emerges from this sordid episode is that perceived beauty - spots on the female anatomy seem to be moving from the front to the back. What else can explain why so many females fell prey to the claims of Easy Tone? The "Miss World" and "Miss Universe" contests will probably make it mandatory for the contestants to now submit in their portfolio, photographs taken from behind. All cricket crazy Indians have always known how even male players from West Indies are gifted in this department - just look at a batsman taking stance to receive the next ball and you will know what I mean. When last heard, Reebok was collecting statistics about the widespread use of an earlier version of the Easy Tone model sold in these island nations to butt-ress their claim that these shoes can indeed make the wearer butt-ilicious. Meanwhile Bollywood siren Vidya Balan expressed surprise about why it was necessary to buy an expensive pair of shoes (making dubious claims) when comfortable padding was available at a fraction of the cost - she should know since she is reported to have used it while essaying the role of Silk Smitha.

The Indian statistical association confirmed that according to the Placebo effect a reasonably high success rate of 20% can anyway be achieved (in enhancing posteriors) by just intently staring at Jenifer Lopez's well endowed assets in a photograph (from behind of course) - they opined that this method was so much better for Indians who could not afford Easy Tone shoes. The Communist Party of India condemned this capitalist exercise of Reebok pandering to rich & well rounded butts when most Indians had to go around with concave (worse than flat) bellies.

[2] Divorcees can retain surnames

Under Article 21, it has now been confirmed that the wife has a fundamental right to use her post marriage name / surname, even after divorce. Many Indian women use joint surnames after marriage - so a Nilima Deshpande after marriage to a "Deshmukh" becomes Nilima Deshpande-Deshmukh. Now imagine she gets a divorce and retains her married surname and then marries a "Pathak". Does she now become Nilima Deshpande-Deshmukh-Pathak? What happens in South India where there is no surname. Does Vyjantimala Govindrajan after divorce and marriage to Veerraghavan become VGV. Thank God Elizabeth Taylor was not born in India - after six marriages, her name would have been .... well you get the point ...In India it is popular to change the first name of the wife so Nilima Deshpande could become Sujata Deshpande-Deshmukh and after the divorce maybe Rakhi Deshpande-Deshmukh-Pathak. I think this is an excellent system to completely cover up your earlier identity. I have always been wanting to know if  the law allows a husband to acquire the surname of his wife??

[3] Aga Khan the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims pays divorce settlement of US$ 80 million (400 crore Rs)

It has always surprised me why Aga Khan has never married any woman from amongst his own sect - the above mentioned divorce was with a German Princess and it was his second divorce. I fail to see any spirituality in all this - do you??

[4] Mexico about to create law that allows 2-years contract marriages.

Increased divorce rates are apparently forcing lawmakers to create these short term contract marriages. The couple needs to look ahead only for those two years and then decide if the contract should be renewed. I am sure there would be a notice period built into these contracts so that if one of the partners locates another soul-mate (what a parody of the word) before the current contract expires and is not patient enough to wait, then he or she could pay off the current partner in lieu of the early termination of the contract. Joining bonuses from the new partner would automatically follow. I guess Mexican HR consultants now have new business opportunities. Next on the agenda is probably a limited period contract between parents and their children. Are we in India going to continue with our super long term contracts for सात जन्म (seven rebirths)?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Interesting conversations

I am sure all of us have taken part or heard conversations between believers (B) and non believers (NB). I am presenting to you different types of conversations that usually take place.

The short one

B: Do you know that P = Q ?

NB: Can you prove it?

B: Why don't you disprove it?

NB: But you said it was true, so prove it!

B: Ha ha - prove it wrong friend or else accept that it is true

The classic one

B: I think X = Y

NB: But we have absolutely no explanation or evidence to support this

B: It has been divinely ordained

NB: But even in a court of law, they require evidence

B: Friends, we are talking about something much much above these trivial institutions.
How dare you compare HIS wisdom with that of a mere judge in a court of law

The most popular one

B: Don't you feel the presence of the Almighty, all around you??

NB: I tried my best but I really do not experience anything out of normal.

B: There must be something wrong with you. Only those who have true faith & surrender to the lord are able to feel HIS presence.

About omnipotence

B: Don't you know that GOD is omnipotent and infinitely powerful?

NB: Oh! Does that mean GOD has decided what is going to happen in your future?

B: Of course! We live only according to HIS will.

NB: But if he has decided your future, this means that he cannot change it - so how can you call
HIM infinitely powerful?

B: No HE can change it if he wants to

NB: But that means HE is not sure whether HE is going to change it or not.

B: Oh these things are beyond your puny intelligence. Let's talk of something else.

About omnipresence

NB: Where is HE?

B: Oh HE exists everywhere

NB: Then why do you want to go to Tirupati to worship Balaji - you can do so right here in the Balaji temple in our town.

B: No but Tirupati is a more auspicious location

NB: But I thought you just said that HE is everywhere. Then why is his temple at Tirupati more auspicious than at Nagpur?

B: Oh you don't understand what spirituality is all about.

NB: What has this got to do with spirituality?

B: There is no point in talking to an illiterate like you.

About our purpose on earth

NB: Do you think all of us have a pre determined purpose of getting born on earth?

B: Of course! HE has sent us on earth with a specific purpose

NB: What could have been HIS purpose in case of the people who got killed in the tsunami

B: Oh HE works in HIS own mysterious ways.

About prayers

NB: Why do you pray so often?

B: To pay my respects, ask HIM for success and happiness & to reduce my hardships

NB: But HE has already decided to give you those hardships so why will he change HIS mind
now just because you are pleading through your prayers?

B: But I must regularly pay HIM my respects by worshiping HIM?

NB: Does HE demand worship and prayers? And will HE listen to only those who pray?

B: Everyone is equal in HIS eyes.

NB: So why pray? If your intentions are good and you are leading a good moral life, HE is
watching you and will automatically reward you

B: I am not going to continue this pointless discussion.

NB: Ok, how are you sure that HE is listening to your prayers?

B: Oh, he has HIS own ways of letting me know about that.

NB: But then if I pray how will I be sure that my prayers have reached HIM? I need some
advice from you because you have been regularly praying to HIM.

B: You start praying first and you will start receiving HIS signals.

The bizarre one

NB: How does HE decide when two competing devotees want their wishes fulfilled?

B: HE ensures that the more pious one succeeds?

NB: If that is true, how are politicians and their cronies able to corner most government

The clincher

NB: Do you really think that HE will look after you?

B : Of course HE will. He is powerful enough to take care of all his creations

NB : If he is really all that powerful, why do we lock temples. Can't HE look after HIMSELF?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Have we created GODs?

Though it didn’t strike me then, the best definition of GOD that I ever came across was in my sixth class text - book of Moral Science. It challenged the readers to think of any object that came to their mind. It then asked us to find out how that object came into existence. If, for example, you thought of “chair” as the initial object then “wood” would be the answer. The author then asked us to continue this exercise of going backward to find the cause of each effect. Thus ‘wood’ came from the ‘tree’ and the ‘tree’ from the ‘seed’ and so on. It then went on to define GOD as that “effect” which has no “cause” (the uncaused cause). This backward regression argument sounds so incomplete today - if there is indeed an omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (present everywhere) GOD, there has to be an even more powerful creator of such a GOD. Where is HE or SHE?

Any discussion on GOD usually gets caught in the controversy of whether GOD exists. I am going to skirt that issue because to my mind, it is of no consequence. For the believers, the question is superfluous and for the rest it is a pointless exercise because no one from the other camp is listening. Let us agree that this idea of a powerful CREATOR OF EVERYTHING seems to give solace to many. Like a wag once said, “atheists do not know whom to thank when something good happens to them, inexplicably”.

I have never been able to get cogent answers to some of these mind benders!

Why do GODs have to be married?

In Hindu mythology Vishnu has a Laxmi, Shankar has a Parvati, Ram has a Sita. Now marriages are socio-legal sanctions required by us humans to procreate. Why on earth would GODs require these? “Marrying GODs” is therefore a distinctly "human" idea.

Do GODs require “job descriptions” to manage their subjects?

Bramha creates, Vishnu preserves, Shiva disposes, Ganesha looks after all cerebral matters, Yama is the funeral director and so on and we are further told that they never transgress into the others domain. Don’t you see the human touch to this division of labour? Was it necessary for GOD to have so many assistants (or his own facets) if he was all powerful or is it that a human author created this organizational structure out of his or her own experience of how things are run on earth?

Why are even GODS, male chauvinists?

One can understand humans being male chauvinists but why GODs? Can they be unfair to half their creations (females)? While wives of all GODs are depicted as home-makers, (though they possess tremendous mystical powers) the GODs themselves go out and do the “mans work”. Barring a few exceptions (like Maa Kali) all godesses are made out to possess womanly qualities of love, softness & compassion. Please note that amongst human beings too there are a few exceptions like the Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi who did a mans’ job to achieve martyrdom. The similarity is striking. Someone appears to have used all his imagination and “earthly experience” to probably create GODs and Godesses to resemble the human race.

Why should GODs have their favourite eatables?

Time and again we are told that GODs are ethereal. How can they then have any bodily needs like hunger or sleep (in many temples, the resident GOD sleeps in the afternoon and devotees are denied darshan during those hours)? The system wherein a particular GOD likes a particular eatable seems to have been created with other motives in mind – so clearly “human”. Let us extend the logic a little further - with crores of devotees feeding all GODs so many sweets (as prasad) shouldn't all of them have got diabetes by now?

Why are GODs so fallible?

Hindu mythology is replete with examples of GODs granting a boon to even a villain who chose to pray hard with the sole and evil intention of getting that boon to trouble his fellow beings on earth. Are GODs so gullible that they could not see through the intention of this kind of devotee? Or is it the human authors’ wish to propogate the message that even sinners can pray and expect salvation, which has prompted such a picture to be painted? It seems so stage - managed, like a Hindi film.

The more you think about all this, dear readers, the more you will get convinced that GODs must indeed have been “created” by a human being. Otherwise, why would have so many qualities specific to humans, got attributed to GOD? There is no doubt whatsoever that this is the most popular creation of the human mind – in fact the best to date. The concept would not have survived the test of time, otherwise.