Wednesday, February 29, 2012

India's Rafale Revolution

Forbes writes, "The Rafale deal has the potential to either make or break the country’s future in aerospace manufacturing."

Tech transfer is the real benefit of the decision to go with the Rafale jet fighter.

Monday, February 27, 2012

$15 Trillion

Baliga's invention has resulted in cost savings of over $15 trillion for consumers. "Because of the IGBT the world has not had to build at least 600 hydroelectric dams of the size [of the] Hoover Dam!" says Baliga.
Jayant Baliga's invention is a power saver    

IIT-JEE Will Be Missed:
“It didn’t matter where you came from; to clear the JEE you had to be good,” says professor Jayant Baliga, who was in the top 50 when he took the exam in 1965.

Dow Chemical Hired Stratfor to Monitor Bhopal Activists

Dow Chemical hired Stratfor to monitor Bhopal activists, according Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks.

one word explains why italian #shooters are submitting to kollam judicial magistrate's authority: #piravam

feb 27th, 2012 CE

there is a by-election coming up in piravam near cochin. this is crucial for the survival of the oommen chandy UDF government in kerala. this is why the 'catholic ministers in the kerala government' (not my usage, this was reported by Fides, the vatican spokepaper, as the phrase used by newly-anointed cardinal alencherry or cochin) have had to tell the eye-talians to not brazen it out.

if the UDF loses piravam, their majority in the kerala assembly will be 71-70, not a tenable situation.

and the UDF knows that the LDF (the communists) will shout from the rooftops that the congress is protecting italians because sonia is a catholic and an italian. 

this explains the great enthusiasm and vigor with which the coast guard and kerala police and the kerala courts have moved to detain the ship and the sailors.

which is also why john dayal and the vatican have kept very very quiet. no breast-beating about catholic fishermen being shot -- i guess it's kinda okay with them if white guys do the shooting.

let us note that piravam is part of kerala's bible belt. no non-christian (non-catholic?) can win from there. (isn't it amazing that only catholics can win from catholic-majority areas?). note the names of the candidates:

LDF; jacob (yep, a catholic communist. not so strange as it sounds)
UDF: anoop jacob

no, these are not jews. 

i actually feel sorry, in a way, for the eye-talians. they must have calculated that with a catholic italian in power in delhi, a catholic chief minister and various others (one of alencherry's companions to the vatican was another minister, thomas or something), and a newly-anointed catholic cardinal from cochin, and with the history of quatrocchi's antics, they could just hit and run.

sorry, boys, you got caught up in an election drama in a catholic constituency.

to be honest, though, i am happy to see that these italians are dragged through the grime and sloth of a first class judicial magistrate's court in little kollam. in a way, this is a metaphor for the lowly status of the PIIGS of europe -- portugal, italy, ireland, greece and spain -- of which at least three were major implerialists, are now treated as pond scum. schadenfreude? be still, my heart.

there is a further irony. a wise person told me that the LDF actually does not want to defeat the UDF in piravam, because if the oommen chandy government falls, and the LDF has to form a government, they have to bring back old CM achuthanandan. now the communist party secretary pinarayi vijayan just loathes achuthanandan, and so he'd rather have the congress' oommen chandy continue in power than bring achuthanandan back!

wondrous are the ways of the catholics and their close cousins the communists!

(further note: the 'catholics' referred to are the syro-malabar church. the syro-malabar guys, whose mythology which may even be true, says they precede the very establishment of the catholic church post the council of nicae circa 345 CE, were at loggerheads with the catholics ever since francis xavier showed up on the malabar coast circa 1600 CE and forcibly converted all the fishermen at gunpoint. the portuguese then proceeded to massacre the syro-malabar guys, who had never heard of the pope and followed the patriarch of antioch in syria. but a few years ago, there was a friendly M&A, and the syro-malabar guys suddenly became part of the vatican!

wondrous indeed are the ways of the catholics -- both old ones and new ones!)

Pak Govt in Cahoots with Bin Laden

As revealed by WikiLeaks and reported by the Telegraph, Stratfor received evidence that Pakistani govt officials were in routine contact with Bin Laden:

According to one of the e-mails, the firm was shown the information papers collected from bin Laden's Abbotabad compound after the US special forces attack last May that resulted in his death. The e-mail, from a Stratfor analyst, suggested that up to 12 officials in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency knew of the al-Qaeda leader's safe house. The internal email did not name the Pakistani officials involved but said the US could use the information as a bargaining chip in post raid negotiations with Islamabad.

san jose merc news: how hacker group Anonymous attacked the vatican and others

feb 27th, 2012 CE

“Anonymous is a handful of geniuses surrounded by a legion of idiots.”

– Cole Stryker, an author who has researched the Anonymous hacker movement, as quoted by the New York Times. Stryker went on: “You have four or five guys who really know what they’re doing . . . and then thousands of people spreading the word.” The Times article detailed a cyber-attack by Anonymous, which has lashed out with attacks on a number of companies and government agencies over the past year, on the Vatican web site last August. The article, drawing upon reports from Redwood City online security company Imperva, describes Operation Pharisee, an unsuccessful denial-of-service attack organized in Latin America intended to protest the Catholic Church’s ongoing child sexual abuse scandal. The Imperva report, which will be released at anInternet security conference in San Francisco this week, provides a rare look at Anonymous’ strategy, from planning to execution.

koenraad elst: “Rather than being a direct gift from God, Christianity is simply a human construct”

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ishwar Sharan

Dr Elst has given a rather positive spin to Raja Ram Mohan Roy's christianisation of Hinduiism. I think it did much more harm than good. Anyway, this article explains to some extent the Hindu's weakness for Jesus. - IS

New post on Bharata Bharati

“Rather than being a direct gift from God, Christianity is simply a human construct,” says Dr. Koenraad Elst

Dr. Koenraad Elst"Christianity is not as original as it flatters itself to be. Just as it is now widely accepted that the Old Testament has profusely borrowed from older Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources, the New Testament has likewise borrowed some of its core imagery and defining beliefs from the ambient Hellenistic-cosmopolitan culture and from the Indic teachings which had gained a certain popularity in the Eastern Mediterranean region." - Dr. Koenraad Elst

Lord BuddhaChristianity was born in a region and age full of cross-pollination between different religions and philosophies. In particular, Indic traditions had been influencing the intellectual climate in the Eastern Mediterranean and among them, Buddhism made its mark most strongly on the scriptures and doctrines of the nascent religion named after Jesus Christ. Some of these borrowings are anecdotal and peripheral, others go to the heart of Christianity's distinctive beliefs, e.g. the doctrine of Incarnation. The Christian doctrine of Salvation (in a non-worldly sense, as distinct from the Jewish belief in a political "salvation" amounting to the restoration of David's kingdom by the Messiah) is borrowed in its essential features from Upanishadic-Buddhist notions of Liberation transformed in a devotional-theistic sense. It sets Christianity apart from the other members of the "Abrahamic" tradition. Indeed, a closer study of the Indic elements in Christianity reveals a dimension which cuts through the neat dichotomy between Abrahamic and Pagan religions.

Jesus as sadhuJesus in India?

In the 19th century, the Hindu reform movement Brahmo Samaj (°1820) tried to protect the essence of Hinduism against the perceived threat from missionary Christianity by incorporating the latter's most attractive elements and "recognizing" them as somehow part of Hinduism's own tradition. In particular, monotheism, the notion of "the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man" and the rejection of idol-worship were borrowed from Protestant Christianity. The Brahmoists didn't simply replace Hindu notions with Christian ones but rather reinterpreted Hinduism, e.g. they explained Hindu polytheism as a masked monotheism ("polymorphous theism"), taking support from the Vedic verse: "Indra, Agni, Varuna, the wise ones call the One True Being by many names".

Another reform movement, the Arya Samaj (°1875), followed suit: though it took a more polemical stand against the Christian missionaries than the Brahmos ever did, it professed monotheism and actively campaigned against idol-worship. Next, the mixed Indian-European membership of the syncretistic Theosophical Society added more colourful ideas of Hindu-Buddhist-Christian interaction and mystical common denominators, e.g. by explaining the Christian notion of "the Kingdom of God" as referring to a blissful yogic state of consciousness. The Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society, though numerically small, were very influential among the anglicized bourgeoisie, while the Arya Samaj exercised a strong influence on India's national liberation movement and on Hindu nationalism. Though the strictures against idol-worship and participation in popular Hindu festivals gradually gave way to an accommodation with the Hindu mainstream, some doctrinal innovations persisted and started influencing the mainstream in turn. It should not come as a surprise, then, that numerous Hindus have interiorized certain Christian notions, most prominently a highly favourable prejudice regarding the person of Jesus Christ.

With hindsight, we can say that this partial incorporation of Christian elements was the most effective defence of Hinduism against the lure of Christian conversion campaigns under circumstances of Christian colonial dominance. Rather than confronting Christianity, this approach neutralized its appeal by understanding Jesus in Hindu terms, as a spiritual teacher, venerable yet only one among many, not as a unique saviour. By giving Jesus a place, it made the acceptance of the full doctrinal package of Christianity seem superfluous. Instead, modern Hindus including Mahatma Gandhi started evaluating all religions as roughly equivalent "paths" leading to the same goal. Most of them don't realize that this idea is not welcomed but rather abhorred by orthodox Christians.

The incorporation of Jesus in Indian spiritual tradition was given a more concrete shape in the belief that Jesus learned his trade in India before going on an eventful preaching tour in Palestine whence he returned to stay and breathe his last in Kashmir at the ripe age of 115 (e.g. Kersten 1986). This claim of Jesus' sojourn among Indian yogis is frequently heard among Hindus, Theosophists, some South-Asian Muslims and even -- since Indian spirituality is internationally often identified with its Buddhist variant -- among Buddhists from Japan to California. In 1983, I attended a lecture by the Japanese Zen teacher Hogen-san, in which he held up a photograph of an ancient painting purportedly showing a meeting of the Buddha and Christ!

This story apparently originates with the Ahmadiyas, a Muslim sect founded in the later 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He claimed to be a prophet in defiance of the Islamic dogma that Mohammed was the final prophet. The belief that Jesus, a high-ranking prophet in Islam, had lived in India, was meant to buttress Ahmad's claim that India, though far away from the West-Asian homeland of the Abrahamic religions, could nonetheless be the locus of a legitimate prophet's mission. It is sometimes given additional support with the late-medieval theory that the Pathans, who live just to the west of Kashmir, are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, which would explain how Jesus' Jewish parents could send their son to distant relatives in north-western India for his education. Or how one eccentric theory can carry an even more eccentric one in its bosom.

Meanwhile, there have also been Christian overtures towards Hinduism, particularly in the "Christian ashram" movement. The idea was launched by a Bengali convert, Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (d. 1907), who was enough of a nationalist to insist on giving a Hindu colouring to his adopted Christian religion. He clashed with his superiors when he held a devotional ritual to goddess Saraswati and gave praise to Krishna and the Vedas. After independence, his inculturation experiments were revived by Catholic missionaries like Jules Monchanin (d. 1957), Henri Le Saux (d. 1973) en Bede Griffiths (d. 1999), who justified this move as a necessary strategy to speed up the disappointingly slow process of converting India.

In their "ashrams", designed with temple-like architecture and ornamentation, they served vegetarian meals, wore homespun saffron robes and incorporated into their liturgy Vedic phrases such as: "Lead me from death to immortality". Le Saux renamed himself Abhishiktananda, "bliss of the Anointed One [i.e. the Messiah]", while Monchanin called his hermitage the Sacchidananda Ashram, "hermitage of Being-Consciousness-Bliss": fortunately for them, Hindu religious vocabulary contained not only explicitly polytheistic and un-Christian god-names but also many abstract spiritual concepts which a Christian may use without overtly lapsing into heresy.

Om on CrossAll the same, Indian Christians and especially recent converts rejected this "paganization of Christianity". So do the guardians of orthodoxy, e.g. in his book On the Threshold of Hope (1994), Pope John-Paul II denounced the trend among Christian monks and laymen to explore Eastern forms of meditation, and in 2000, his statement Dominus Jesus reaffirmed that salvation can only come through Jesus, not through other "paths". Genuine Hindus aren't too enthusiastic either. Thus, one of the favourite symbols of the Christian ashram movement was the Aum sign on a cross. The combination is absurd, at least if the cross is taken in its Christian sense as the symbol of suffering. Though Hinduism has a place for the notions of suffering and sin, the Aum sign by contrast represents the cosmic vibration and eternal bliss.

In this paper, we have no intention of arguing for this relatively recent tradition of Hindu-Christian syncretism or for the thesis of Jesus' sojourn in India. Instead, we will explore the unsensational possibility of India-related influences on Christianity which can be explained through cultural tendencies present in the Eastern Mediterranean, in Jesus' surroundings. We will survey indications that some elements in Judaism, in Jesus' preachings and in mature Church doctrine can indeed be traced to the broader Indo-Iranian tradition through three of its layers and offshoots: (1) the basic Indo-European culture of which certain motifs were still palpable in the ambient Hellenistic culture; (2) Zarathushtra's Mazdeism, a (partly rebellious) offshoot of the Indo-Iranian religion, which influenced Judaism in the 6th-4th century BC, and whose Romano-Hellenistic offshoot Mithraism influenced the nascent Christian doctrine; (3) ideas from missionary Buddhism and other Indian schools of thought which were in the air in the eastern Roman empire and influenced the Gospels, sometimes through the mediation of other Hellenistic philosophy schools. For our present purposes, a brief overview of these common or borrowed elements will suffice before we focus on their meaning and implications for the science of comparative religion.

Orphius crucifiedMore than inculturation

It is well-known that in its campaigns of conversion, Christianity followed a policy of inculturation. This means that it adopted Pagan elements in christianised form in order to ease the transition from Paganism to Christianity. To be sure, the reinterpretation of religious items long predates Christianity: Judaism turned an ancient spring festival into a day of remembrance of the exodus from Egypt (replacing universal nature with national history as its religious point of reference), Hindus turned an ancient harvest celebration into a commemoration of victorious Rama's coronation (Diwali), and Buddhists turned May day into a celebration of the Buddha's birth or enlightenment (Wesak). But Christianity was the first to use this type of reinterpretation systematically as a strategy for conversion.

Pagan gods became Christian saints, e.g. Isis with the babe Horus became the Madonna with Child. The bearded and horse-borne Germanic god Wodan became Saint Nicolas, later americanized as Santa Claus. Even the Buddha found a place on the saints' calendar under the name Saint Josaphat. The autumnal celebration of the dead became All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, which is nowadays regaining its purely Pagan colours in the form of Hallowe'en. The date of Easter (from the Germanic dawn goddess Eostra/Ostarra) combines the Pagan symbolism of Spring Equinox and Full Moon with the Christian innovation of Sunday as the day of the Lord,-- an innovation which itself was borrowed from the solar cult of Mithraism, a late-Roman type of Masonic Lodge inspired by both Iranian Mazdeism and astrology. Winter Solstice as its feast of the Invincible Sun became Christmas.

In fact, the whole cult of the year cycle in Mithraism (not unrelated to that of the Vedic year-cycle god Prajapati) deeply influenced the Christian liturgical calendar, so that Protestant fundamentalists would later protest quite accurately that most Church festivals including even Christmas are Pagan borrowings devoid of scriptural foundation. The ritual of the Eucharist, in which Christians are deemed to be drinking Christ's blood (sacrilege to Jews), may also be of Mithraic origin.

PantheonA separate priesthood was created along with a standard liturgy, on the model of religious professionalism in the established Pagan religions or in the popular Mystery cults. Concepts and terms from Greek philosophy were incorporated in Christian theology. Among the typically Christian innovations vis-à-vis Judaism, the notion of the Divine Trinity (rejected by Jews and Muslims as crypto-polytheistic) clearly bears the imprint of the Indo-European tripolar cosmology known as trifunctionality, well-attested e.g. in the ancient Roman religion. Churches arose where temples or sacred trees had stood, so that worshippers could keep on coming to their old places of worship and gradually get used to the Christian liturgy there.

In this process of inculturation, the Christian Church remained in control: it adapted old forms to its new message, but made sure that through the Pagan veneer the Christian doctrine was impressed upon the converts. However, the incorporation of Indic and particularly Buddhist elements which we will now discuss, has had a far deeper impact. It preceded the genesis of a discernible Christian religion and Church and determined some of their most central doctrines.

The Gospels contain a number of almost literal repetitions of phrases, parables and scenes from the Buddhis­t canon, particularly from the Mahaparinirvana-Sutra: the master walking on water (and saying to the baffled disciples: "It's me"), the simile of the blind leading the blind, the multiplication of the loaves of bread, the master asking and accepting water from a woman belonging to a despised community, the call not to pass judgment on others, the call to respond to hostility with love, and other overly well-known motifs. (Gruber & Kersten 1995, Derrett 2001) Both doctrinal elements and biographical anecdotes have been borrowed. The Buddha's mother saw in a dream how a white elephant placed the promising boy in her womb while a heavenly being revealed the great news to the father, roughly like the annunciation to Mary and Joseph. The loose but devout woman Mary Magdalene is a neat copy of the Buddha-revering courtesan Amrapali. (Lindtner 2000) The iconography of Jesus resembles that of the expected future Buddha Maitreya, a name derived from maitri, "fellow-feeling, friendship", close enough to the Christian notion of agape/charity. The Maitreya is depicted with lotus flowers in the places where Jesus has stigmata of the crucifixion.

This is becoming too much for coincidence, and the similarity is moreover strengthened by very specific details. Thus, Jesus relates how a widow offers two pennies from her humble possessions and thereby earns more merit than a wealthy man who gives a larger gift from his abundant riches. In Buddhist texts we find the same message in several variants, among them that of a widow offering two pennies; a holy monk disregards the larger gift of a wealthy man and praises the widow's piety.

Not to make all this too idyllic, we can point out a less fashionable item which Christianity may have borrowed from Buddhism: the depreciation of woman as focus of lust and continuator of life in this vale of tears. We do not mean the belief in the inequality of man and woman, which is near-universal, even in fertility-promoting religions like Judaism, Vedic Brahmanism or Confucianism. While these cultures celebrate intercourse with woman and the harvest of her womb as a grand sacrament of life, Christianity and Buddhism tend to condemn life as tainted by sin and suffering, hence procreation and sexuality as sources of misery, and woman as an inauspicious temptress. Celibacy as the Buddhist monks' way of life was foreign to both Greeks and Jews but was adopted and held up as ideal by Saint Paul and the Christian monks. Buddhism and Christianity allow sex and procreation to the outer circle of half-hearted followers ("better to marry than to burn"), but prefer total asceticism for the inner circle of true seekers.

Yahweh-Jehovah-AllahAbrahamic versus Pagan

The gap between the Hindu-Buddhist tradition and Christianity is at first sight much deeper than that between Christianity and Judaism or Islam. Unlike the latter two, Indic religions have no common "Abrahamic" roots with Christianity. Hinduism in particular may count as par excellence the representative of the ancient hate object and scapegoat of the Abrahamic religions including Christianity: Paganism. Hostility towards Paganism is historically the first and defining commitment of the Abrahamic tradition. "Thou shalt have no other Gods", or: "There is no God except Allah", concretely meant to its original audiences: "Fight Paganism and its false Gods."

As mentioned above, many modern Hindus have interiorized the Abrahamic strictures against polytheism and against the use of icons in worship. It is only in recent decades that the late Ram Swarup (1980, 1992) has taken up the defence of both polytheism and "idolatry". He dismisses the numerical quarrel over one or many as silly and irrelevant to Hinduism, which acknowledges both the unity and the multiplicity of the Divine. Concerning idolatry, he points out that depictions of the Godhead are only visual aides to mental concentration on the Divine Person behind the image (as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox segments of the Abrahamic family have also argued). As even ordinary Hindus are heard arguing: does keeping a photograph of a loved one diminish or harm your love for him or her? Does destroying the photograph make the love more authentic? Ram Swarup also adds a spiritua­l critique: Christian (and mutatis mutandis, Islamic) exclusivi­sm, which limits Salvation to those who believe in Christ's divinity and resurrection, betrays a lack of confidence in God's omnipresence.

In contemporary forums for Jewish-Christian or Muslim-Christian dialogue, the "common Abrahamic roots" are eagerly highlighted. The religions concerned are said to have plenty in common, starting with their belief in One Creator and in His Self-Revelation through prophets. The dialogue delegates, and even the less dialogue-minded orthodox theologians, agree that certain basic doctrines set the Abrahamic religions collectively apart from all the other religions, collectively known as Paganism. While inter-religious dialogue is a recent fad, Christians have always made the distinction between the Abrahamic (viz. Muslim or Jewish) and the Pagan non-Christians, acknowledging in the former a far greater religious kinship with themselves than in the latter.

Along with Ram Swarup, many contemporary Hindus have interiorized this dichotomy between Abrahamic and Pagan religions, but this time to line up against the Abrahamic alternative, deemed narrow-minded and spiritually immature. While the disagreement about which doctrine is good and which is bad remains, there is now an agreement between these Hindu ideologues and their Abrahamic opponents about at least this fundamental division of the religious landscape in two opposing poles: the Pagan religions professed and practised by mankind since the Palaeolithic, and Abrahamic religions springing from God's Self-revelation to selected human beings in West Asia in the last few millennia. And yet, this dichotomy may not be all that neat.

Ahura MazdaFirstly, it has often been pointed out that the crucial belief in monotheism may well have as one of its tributaries an evolute of the Indo-Iranian religion, hence a sister of the Vedic religion, viz. Iranian Mazdeism. In at least some layers of Mazdeic scripture, we find the rejection of the Indo-Iranian gods (daevas), who are turned into devils, in favour of the double-god Mitra-Varuna, extolled under the appellative name Ahura Mazda, "Lord Wisdom". This seems to prefigure Mohammed's rejection of most Arab gods in favour of a single one among them, Allah, and also to resemble Moses' rejection of Semitic gods like Ba'al in favour of Yahweh alone. Given that the genesis of true monotheism in ancient Israel was a slow and complicated process, and given the occupation of West Asia by the Mazdeic Iranians in the 6th century BC (where they explicitly helped to re-establish the Yahwist cult in the rebuilt temple of Jerusalem), it is not far-fetched to propose a Mazdeic influence on Israelite monotheism, though its outline remains vague.

However, if there was such a Mazdeic influence, it cannot be construed as an indirect influence from the Vedic upon the Israelite religion, for it concerns precisely that part of Mazdeism which originated in the break-away from and reaction against the Indo-Iranian polytheist mainstream as preserved in the Vedas. Likewise, others elements attributed to Mazdeic influence, such as the eschatology of physical resurrection, arrival of a redeemer and final judgment, definitely originate in later internal developments in Mazdeism unrelated (whether by conserving or rejecting) to the old Indo-Iranian core beliefs.

The second element interfering with the neat dichotomy between Pagan and Abrahamic looks more promising for our present study. We will be able to show that there are doctrinal similarities between the Christian and the Hindu-Buddhist traditions which set the former apart from the other Abrahamic religions, and the latter from the other Pagan religions. These similarities are certainly the fruit of historical contacts, though apart from the presence of a Buddhist community outside Alexandria (the Therapeutai), the details of the whereabouts of Buddhists in West Asia are as yet eluding us. We will consider the two most important common points of doctrine: Incarnation and Salvation.

Lord ShivaSalvation

In the Upanishads, the youngest layer of Vedic literature, attention shifts from the ritual fire sacrifice to the interior of man's consciousness. If we empty it of the sensory and mental contents which usually occupy it, we see in it our true nature, the Self. However, experiencing the mental silence in which the realization of the Self dawns is easier said than done. So, determined seekers made it their full-time occupation to pierce the veil of mental dross, to seek liberation from the web of ignorance, false identification and attachment. It is among this class of seekers that the Buddha emerged as the discoverer and teacher of the most successful and well-rounded method.

The goal of the Upanishadic and Buddhist yogis was "liberation" (mukti, moksha), or, in the Buddha's more negative-sounding terminology, "blowing out" (nirvana). This is a double-negative concept: first a problem intrinsically affecting all people is defined (suffering, ignorance, attachment), then a method of eliminating the problem is devised and put into practice, ideally resulting in liberation. Exactly the same doctrinal structure forms the core of Christianity: all human beings are afflicted with original Sin incurred by Adam and Eve, and now they stand in need of Salvation, which the religion provides. This notion of a radical wrongness in the human condition and of a concomitant radical jump out of it and into the state of Salvation does not exist in Judaism and Islam. Neither does it exist in most Pagan religions, such as the ancient Greek religion, Confucianism or Shinto, nor even, apparently, in the oldest Vedic layer of Hinduism.

How is Liberation or Salvation achieved? The original Hindu-Buddhist answer is: through right effort, viz. through a meditative practice which stills all mental distractions. However, this path of self-liberation is demanding and fails to deliver the immediate consolation ordinary people hope for. So, soon enough a devotional practice developed which attributed to the Buddha, or to Shiva or Krishna, the power to somehow "grant" Liberation to his devotees. Hindu philosophers have distinguished between two approaches to Liberation: the "way of the baby monkey", which clings to its mother through its own effort, and the "way of the kitten", which is picked up by its mother between her teeth. In practice, the way of the kitten is the most popular by far: people make the effort of putting themselves into a religious mood but expect the real breakthrough to Salvation from a caring and interventionist Divine Person. Though most Hindus and Buddhists vaguely know of the fruits of meditation, few of them actually practise it, while most settle for devotional practices such as chanting and waving incense sticks before an idol of a Divine or Liberated Person.

It is at this devotional stage, which purists would evaluate as a degenerative stage, that Christianity has picked up the Hindu-Buddhist notion of Salvation. Just like the Oriental devotee expects Shiva or the Amitabha Buddha or Guan Yin (Chinese Buddhist goddess) to save him, the Christian reveres Jesus Christ as the agent of his Salvation. Though Christian mystics have tried to come closer to God through meditative techniques, Christianity as such has no technology of Salvation, unlike orthodox Buddhism. Official Christian doctrine confines the possibilities of Salvation to the salvific intervention of God through His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Krishna & ArjunaIncarnation

Jews and Muslims have always denounced Christianity as an incomplete or downright false pretender to monotheism. They see the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as detracting from God's unity and unicity. Leaving aside for now the Holy Spirit, it is mainly the Divine Person of the Son, God Incarnate, which strict monotheists find theologically incorrect.

In Hellenistic society, people had a very fuzzy notion of "god" and didn't mind describing remarkably spiritual people or purported miracle-workers as "divine". Ancient heroes such as Hercules were deified after their deaths in a process known as apotheosis, "transformation into a god", and placed among the stars in the night sky. The Hindus posthumously deified their heroes Rama and Krishna by reinterpreting their lives as incarnations of Lord Vishnu. In Buddhism, the historical Buddha is gradually given the status of a divine incarnation, one in a series of enlightened beings descended on earth in order to bring Liberation to all the suffering beings. Pagan Semitic cultures, e.g. in Ugarit, likewise gave a posthumous divine status to their revered kings by associating them with one of the gods, such as El or Ba'al. This process of association was called shirk, a term generalized by Mohammed to every "association" of lesser beings with the one God, Allah ("the god"). Muslims refer to all polytheists as mushrikin, "associators", viz. of lesser beings with Allah.

In the opinion of the Muslims, the Jews and the Arian heretics of Christianity, the allotment of a divine status to Jesus Christ is not truly different from the procedure by which the Pagans gave divine status to their kings and saints, to stars and mountains, even to animal species (Egyptian cats, Hindu cows) and sculpted statues and trees, briefly to creatures instead of the Creator. They think, quite sensibly, that Christian belief detracts from monotheism by adopting as its most central dogma the highly Pagan notion that a creature, the son of a woman, could be God. On this point, Christianity is undeniably less akin to Judaism and Islam than to those sects of Hinduism and Buddhism which deify historic figures like Krishna and the Buddha.


Christianity's number one selling point is its emphasis on the virtue of love (not to be misinterpreted as erotic love) or charity. Missionaries love to contrast universal Christian charity with Jewish ethnocentrism, Muslim or Marxist conflict-prone fanaticism, Hindu callous indifference to the suffering of anyone belonging to another caste, or Buddhism's ethereal disinterest in any useful worldly work per se. However, this notion of universal fellow-feeling and its implementation in works of charity definitely predates Christianity.

Four centuries before Christ, the Chinese school of Mozi already preached jian'ai, "universal love", and put it into practice in self-supporting communities (comparable to those established by the Epicureans in the Hellenistic world). These Mohists argued that one's love should be distributed evenly over all fellow-men, while their Confucian contemporaries contended that love should be differentiated in intensity: more love for close relatives, less for distant acquaintances, less still for unknown people. Yet, even the Confucians taught that some fellow-feeling or "fellow-humanity" (ren) should be extended to all mankind. Meanwhile in India, the Vedas and later the Buddha extolled fellow-feeling or compassion (daya c.q. karuna), not just towards one's fellow men but towards all sentient beings.

It may be admitted that Christianity gave its own twist to charity. The activist streak of going out and opening orphanages or hospitals is less in evidence in Hinduism or Buddhism than in Christian settlements. Unlike Buddhist and Hindu monks, who are only expected to do their devotional or yogic duties, Christian monks of most orders are required to work. It may be conceded that Buddhist monks sometimes did take upon themselves certain charitable activities, notably in medicine, which is after all an application of the basic Buddhist vocation to relieve suffering. Among the duties of kings, Hindu scriptures include the care for the needy and the handicapped. Even so, there is just no denying that among religious personnel, Christian monks were and are encouraged far more systematically than any others to give a materially constructive expression to their sense of charity.

MoziThe reason for this difference, according to Hindus and Buddhists convinced of the superiority of their own tradition, is that Christian missionaries had to "sell" their doctrinal "product" by giving the extra bonus of material help, just like salesmen of inferior products try to make people buy them with the lure of extras. In this view, a convert to Buddhism opts for the Buddhist Way, while a convert to Christianity may take Christian beliefs in his stride while primarily seeking access to the Christian network of charity. A less polemical explanation would be that the wider family units in India could better provide for the needs of their own sick and needy members, hence requiring less help from "public" charities than the uprooted masses of the late Roman empire or the industrial-age West (note that Mother Teresa made her name in Kolkata among uprooted immigrants into the modern city, not in a traditional Hindu social setting). The reason may also be that Christianity simply happened to acquire its mature form in a pre-existing activist culture: first the Romans with their no-nonsense dynamism and their feats of engineering, later the Germanic peoples in their cold climate requiring daily labour and inventiveness for sheer survival, as contrasting with the Buddha's Gangetic setting where the relative opulence of nature and the immense heat discourage physical exertion.

But the most fundamental reason why traditions originating in India lay less emphasis on material compassion and activist forms of charity, is simply that they pay more attention to what they perceive as a deeper human need. Clothing the naked and feeding the hungry is very fine, but as the Buddha knew from his own young days of luxury, even the well-fed and well-clad are subject to unhappiness and suffering. The highest compassion is therefore not the sharing of material things or emotional attention, but the imparting of the ethical and meditative methods leading to Nirvana.

In any case, the whole idea that man should care about his brother, that he should take responsibility for the welfare of society as a whole or for needy human beings in particular, clearly precedes Christianity. Like the Christian, though since centuries earlier, the Hindu or the Buddhist is his brother's keeper, and is taught from childhood not to indulge in self-centred inanities and mindless self-indulgence, of course not to be confused with disciplined self-introspection. Caring for others may legitimately be called a Christian virtue, but it is not exclusively Christian and finds older models in at least Mohism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Buddhism, and no doubt in other pre-Christian teachings as well.

Jesus as the Buddha MaitreyaConclusion

Christianity is not as original as it flatters itself to be. Just as it is now widely accepted that the Old Testament has profusely borrowed from older Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources, the New Testament has lik

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Intel Inside Your Smartphone

Even before those phones evolved into smartphones, ARM cores had been dominating this market. Looks like some Europeans are tired of the Limey dominance in this space.

France Télécom to Use Intel Chips 
The company says the pricing (of Intel powered phones) will be at an "affordable" level. "It really is in the middle range in terms of price, but is a high-end phone in terms of features, quality and speed."

Orange will continue to work with Intel in the future, Mr. Maitre said, with the goal of introducing more competition in the smartphone market.

"Some European countries are requesting the device," he said, adding that colleagues from countries like Spain, Poland and Romania are "calling me every day to say, please, we want the Intel phone."

Pay My Salary or I Won’t Fly

One air-hostess laments:
Mid-last year things began to change. We were now staying in three star hotels instead of the usual five star. Soon we were put up in guest houses. Our salaries were getting delayed, initially by a month or so. Then we went without salaries for months together. I have not been paid from December 2011. Initially, it was easy to manage. I dipped into my savings to pay the rent and for other expenses. Last month, I broke my fixed deposit.
I guess we worry only if a pretty, English medium schooled girl has to cope with such difficulties. There are millions who share similar plight. It is common in South India for local businesses to hire more guys and girls than they need. My guess is, it is purely out of compassion. For them it is not all business, it is not all greed. That brings me to a totally different point -- will these businesses be able to continue this if they have to compete with a Walmart?

Nothing to lose in #Baluchistan - but Balochistan by Saroop Ijaz Express Tribune (Pak)

feb 26th, 2012 CE

the baluch are being sacrificed for the punjabis and the hans. if the world is so worried about the rights of kurds, they should worry about the rights of the baluchis as well.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: sanjeev

I do not know if and to what extent is there foreign intervention in Balochistan, however I am clear on the point that deprivation, strangulation and murder by our patriotic army has lead us to this situation”.

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@

Suppose one were to break a rule of a lifetime and take Rehman Malik seriously when he announced his intention of granting amnesty to Baloch nationalist leaders and went so far as saying that he will personally receive them on arrival. It is hard to miss the condescension and arrogance of the statement since it evidently fails to recognise the very basics of the conflict and treat this as a petty quarrel which can be muffled with assurances to a few individuals and attempts to rectify it with what comes across as some cheap pillow talk. More significantly, there is a clear implication in the statement which I am not sure Mr Malik completely grasps. To guarantee the end of violence and hostilities in future, has embedded in it the assumption that the guarantor would perhaps have a semblance of control over them. So, Rehman Malik has with one statement, used as a desperate measure, has attempted to take the blood and the guilt of decades of murder upon his hands. Hence, Rehman Malik cannot be taken seriously in this case, even if one does not mention Nauroz Khan Zehri.

‘Security establishment’ is becoming too hazy a term to ascribe direct culpability. It has become an oblique way of saying that the Pakistan armed forces and their subordinate agencies are using intense, non-stop and lethal violence upon the Baloch. Remaining on imprecise terms, ‘missing person’ is a case in point. It is a seemingly innocuous term summoning to mind the image of somebody absent from dinner or someone forgetting to pick someone up. Quite to the contrary, somebody did pick them up with the intention of torture and probably murder; it is abduction or kidnapping at the very least.

The apology and the assurance will have to come from the Army Chief, the DG ISI and the IG FC. And for it to mean anything, those kidnapped have to return or be legally tried in civilian courts and for those murdered, individual apologies should be made and resignations tendered. Remember, murder is not always forgiven, but if you wish to make an effort, extend the Baloch the courtesy of making a decent one. It will still remain the prerogative of the Baloch. The proposal for an All Parties Conference (APC) is nonsensical and diversionary on the face of it – there are only two parties to this conflict, the Pakistan armed forces and the Baloch, those with no stake in the matter should not be allowed to use this exercise as a propaganda tool.

The recent academic discussion on the Balochistan question and bleak alternatives has one distressing omission. It takes as a given, the starting point that Pakistan is a nation state and hence applying the principles and nuances relevant to a nation state. This is how deeply entrenched, the influence of the single, official narrative of the ideology of Pakistan is. Also indicative of our irrational fear that if we revisit or I dare say discard the official version starting from the two-nation theory, all hell will break lose. I think it is worth a try now in the case of Balochistan, to quote Bob Dylan, “when you have got nothing, you have got nothing to lose”. We have reached the point of nothing to lose in Balochistan, except Balochistan itself.

The efforts to intensify patriotism and a monolith identity have also surged. To my mind at least, there is no doubt that the Difa-i-Pakistan Council is backed by our establishment, primarily the military and been given the task of spewing anti-American and anti-Indian sentiment to solidify national unity, etc. The DPC is like an army of clones of that clown, Zaid Hamid. Not a word from them, on the murder of Baloch or the systematic killing of the Shia in Kurram. Even if bad faith is ruled out, admittedly hard to do here, yet they find it difficult to contemplate that there may be principles of humanity beyond the imperative of a country being forced to stay together and the fact that entire world might not have the time or the inclination of conspiring against us. I do not know if and to what extent is there foreign intervention in Balochistan, however I am clear on the point that deprivation, strangulation and murder by our patriotic army has lead us to this situation.

The DPC and their likes are very vociferously imploring Pakistanis to take up arms and go die fighting America, India, Nato and Israel, etc. The tone from many in public discourse is becoming agitated, almost threatening that force will grudgingly have to be used if the Baloch do not forgive us. The casual manner in which they talk about our soldiers going to war, for obviously unjust causes to commit murder in one or to certain death in the other is repulsive, primarily because it is disrespectful of their sacrifice in our real war against religious fanaticism. Balochistan cannot be kept glued together by the use of violence; we have already tried that and still are. To put it vaguely, a new social contract will have to be devised, if it is not too late already. To mention Bangladesh, at any length here would be a cliché.

While talking about patriotism, death and armchair zealots of the DPC, to end on an elevated note, Wilfred Owen, a soldier and perhaps the greatest war poet should be referred to. He ends his greatest work Dulce et Decorum est with:

“If in some smothering dreams you too could pace/ Behind the wagon that we flung him in, / And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,/ His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; /If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood / Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,/ Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, / My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory,/ The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est / Pro patria mori. (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country)”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.

Warm Regards
sanjeev nayyar
to unsubscribe write back

ISRO's Big Fireball

ISRO seems to be careening off course and blowing into a fireball, with numerous secondary explosions:

Oh well, Indians aren't exactly famous for their cooperative capabilities - more like infamous - for their lack of them.

#word! Tweet from Barbarian Indian (barbarindian)

Barbarian Indian (barbarindian):
For Hindus, UPA Govt is like  an arithmetic mean of Aurangzeb Govt and Mohammed bin Tughlaq Govt.

(Sent via Seesmic

on sony android phone

Saturday, February 25, 2012

excellent wsj interview with historian on '#vanished #kingdoms': end of #history for #europe; also book review

feb 25th, 2012 CE

here is the interview:

the end is nigh for europe; and possibly for america also shortly, says historian norman davies in this interview.

the author of "vanished kingdoms: the rise and fall of states and nations" suggests that as other powers have risen and fallen, so too will america and europe and russia. here is the book review:

in a way, davies is echoing gibbon "rise and fall of the roman empire" and toynbee in his monumental works on the history of civilizations.

this too will end. all imperialists beware!

Gunnar Myrdal's son: "Many believe caste is exclusively Indian, but it is not. You have social organisations in other countries, including mine, where voting is not carried out rationally, but on the basis of caste, clan and tribe."

feb 25th, 2012 CE

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: R
Date: Sat, Feb 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM
Subject: Swedish writer: "Many believe caste is exclusively Indian, but it is not. You have social organisations in other countries, including mine, where voting is not carried out rationally, but on the basis of caste, clan and tribe.

Swedish writer and political commentator Jan Myrdal: "Many believe caste is exclusively Indian, but it is not. You have social organisations in other countries, including mine, where voting is not carried out rationally, but on the basis of caste, clan and tribe.

Eighty five-year old Swedish writer and political commentator Jan Myrdal was in India recently. Son of Nobel laureates Alva Myrdal and Gunnar Myrdal, Jan talks to Business Standard on elections, politics and the Left-wing extremism in the country. 

Excerpts from: 

Archive image of Jawaharlal Nehru with his daughter Indira Gandhi (Inset) Jan Myrdal

Though India is the largest democracy, the most prominent party, the Indian National Congress, is completely dynasty-dominated. Is that a healthy sign?

Well, I somewhat knew Jawaharlal Nehru. He was an interesting person and a leader, and I have great respect for him. But I don't think dynasty politics is good in a democracy.

I see not only his grandson, but his great grandson taking part. Heredity is usually not the best way to select leaders.

Though voting is a democratic right, elections here are dominated by the caste factor. Instead of voting for developmental issues, caste and wealth are predominant. What are your views on it?

The caste system in India is deep and destructive. Many believe caste is exclusively Indian, but it is not. You have social organisations in other countries, including mine, where voting is not carried out rationally, but on the basis of caste, clan and tribe.

Need Help - Indian Space Forum

Hi everyone,

I was searching around the net, trying to find a discussion forum on India's space program where I could chat with others about it, but couldn't find anything. The Indian military boards do have some space-related threads, but they don't amount to much. There really should be a dedicated forum for Indian space discussion, so that we can cultivate an online Indian space community. As a last resort, I registered and created a forum of my own, and made a bunch of topic categories within it:

Please feel free to register, and post your feedback and suggestions on what I should add, remove or change to make it better.

Otherwise, if anybody knows of a good existing discussion site for India's space program, I'd really be interested in hearing about it, because then I won't have to go to the trouble of maintaining and promoting this one.

It's really a shame that India has such an active space program with its share of achievements and dreams, but yet we don't have a single discussion board on the net for Indians to talk about any of it. Space is a vital part of our future and destiny.

Friday, February 24, 2012

NJ Hinduism Summit, 10th March: understand, live and preserve Hinduism!

feb 24th, 2012 CE

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bharati Bagwe <>
Date: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 4:01 AM
Subject: NJ Hinduism Summit, 10th March: understand, live and preserve Hinduism!


Aim of the Hinduism Summit
The Hinduism Summit aims to promote an understanding about the unique science behind Hinduism concepts and practices, and provide practical guidance on living Hinduism. The Hinduism Summit aims also to unite everyone interested in Hinduism, to preserve it in the face of denigration and misconceptions about Hinduism today. Read more about FHA's Hinduism Summits>>
The Hinduism Summit will answer questions like
  • What are the basic tenets of Hinduism and Hindu spirituality ?
  • How to reverse the gaze of Western criticism on Hinduism ?
  • Why are the eyes of Deity Balaji partially closed ?
  • Hindu spiritual healing remedies, e.g. how to identify and remedy departed ancestors' trouble ?
Enlightening presentations by selfless Hindu leaders

Invited speaker on ‘Know denigration, preserve Hinduism!'

Spiritual Science Research Foundation’s presentation on ‘Spiritual dimension underlying Hinduism concepts and Hindu issues’ (to learn more, visit

Rajiv Malhotra, Indian American researcher, on 'Breaking India - Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines' and 'Being Different - An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism'

Forum for Hindu Awakening’s presentation on  Understanding, living and preserving Hinduism in daily life
Register @
For more information or to contribute to this event, contact us at + 1-877-303-3FHA
Free event (Followed by a unique exhibition of books and posters to understand, live
and preserve Hinduism;
Refreshments Provided



Top Scientists Resigns in Protest Against Nair Blacklisting

Eminent space scientist Roddam Narasimha has resigned from the Space Commission over the govt's blacklisting of G Madhavan Nair and 3 other scientists due to the Antrix-Devas scandal.

Windows on the iPad

David Pogue on this radical iPad service called OnLive Desktop Plus
Plenty of apps give you stripped-down versions of Office on the iPad. But OnLive Desktop gives you the complete Windows Office suite. In Word, you can do fancy stuff like tracking changes and high-end typography. In PowerPoint, you can make slide shows that the iPad projects with all of the cross fades, zooms and animations intact.

Thanks to Microsoft’s own Touch Pack add-on, all of this works with touch-screen gestures. You can pinch and spread two fingers to zoom in and out of your Office documents. You can use Windows’ impressive handwriting recognition to enter text (although a Bluetooth keyboard works better). You can flick to scroll through a list.

OnLive Desktop is seamless and fairly amazing. And fast; on what other PC does Word open in one second?

OnLive Desktop Plus Puts Windows 7 on the iPad in Blazing Speed -

this america is also great (courtesy a reader)

this america is great (from vivek wadhwa)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ram

If you wish to respond to this message, do NOT hit the "Reply" button; please try  

America, keep rewarding your dissidents

By Vivek Wadhwa,

Published: February 21 | Updated: Wednesday, February 22
Ever since I became an academic six years ago, I have been one of the biggest critics of U.S. competitiveness policies. I documented, for example, that we had our data wrong when it came to India and China’s advantages in engineering education and R&D, that we didn’t understand how to build innovation centers, and that our assumptions about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship were wrong. I have been particularly vocal about America’s flawed immigration policies. I quantified the amazing contribution that skilled immigrants make in the technology industry and raised the alarm about the reverse brain drain that is in progress. I testified, assertively, to Congress, and have been badgering our political leaders to act on these important issues.

My father, a retired Indian diplomat, called me on several occasions to plead that I tone down my criticism. He worried that I would anger U.S. government officials and they would find some way to have me deported. Indeed, this would have been the case in many countries, where I could have ended up in a Gulag — or worse.

But what happens in America?

The Government gives me an official recognition — Outstanding American by Choice — for my “commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans.” When I received the call from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, Alejandro Mayorkas, I had tears in my eyes. He told me that the government appreciated all of my efforts to make the country more competitive and that my criticisms of his department had motivated his team to work harder to improve the system.

This is the greatness of America and why this country leads the world: Disagreement and debate are cherished. Challenging the norms, thinking outside the box, and questioning those in power is encouraged and celebrated. The louder you speak the more prominence and respect you are given. Society’s heroes aren’t merely revolutionaries or political figures, but opinionated, non-conformist entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

This is what distinguishes American children from others and why they grow up to be innovators. From childhood, they are encouraged to pursue their dreams and to challenge authority. So they challenge their parents, then their teachers, and then their government. And they learn to work with each other and compete. There are no barriers to success. If you work hard, think smart, and persevere, you achieve success. And this success is celebrated. Reaping fortunes through entrepreneurial success even has a special label: it’s called the American Dream.

America’s unique strength is that it also welcomes foreigners. Yes there is some discrimination and there are a few hurdles to leap over. But once you surmount these, you are treated like everyone else. You are given the same respect and have the same opportunities. You can compete in any field. And this is what has been happening through American history: wave after wave of immigrants has landed on American shores, embodied its values, and helped birthright citizens to work harder and think smarter.

Today, America is in a slump. The ups and downs of the economy and rise of new global competitors are discouraging and often cause American’s to lose hope. But, as someone who came to the U.S. by choice, and who has studied the warts of this country and its competitors, I have no doubt that the U.S. will continue to prosper and lead the world.

It has to—no other country has the ingredients for long-term success.


If you wish to respond to this message, do NOT hit the "Reply" button; please try

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

italians kill kerala fishermen: several views

feb 23rd, 2012 CE

4 views. 1. Catholic cardinal intervenes in Italy-India shooting row, 2. amb TPS on rediff 3. me on firstpost 4. jagannathan on firstpost on the cardinal sin

1. cardinal takes sides (he did say later that he was um... 'misquoted')

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: sri
Subject: Catholic cardinal intervenes in Italy-India shooting row

"I immediately contacted the Catholic ministers to ask the Kerala
government not to take precipitate action," George Alencherry

Catholic cardinal intervenes in Italy-India shooting row㗬⳽樫闟튶諲ﰍ劶諲�盓涵329319.html

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012

VATICAN CITY - An Indian cardinal on Tuesday urged local authorities
in Kerala not to take "precipitate action" in a row between Italy and
India and warned the opposition against trying "to exploit the

"I immediately contacted the Catholic ministers to ask the Kerala
government not to take precipitate action," George Alencherry,
archbishop major of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala, told Catholic
news agency Fides in Rome.

Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala on Sunday arrested two
Italian soldiers deployed as security guards on an Italian-flagged oil
tanker for allegedly shooting dead two Indian fishermen they mistook
for pirates.

"It seems that the opposition wants to exploit the situation and
manipulate it for political motives by talking about 'Western powers'
and 'the drive for American domination'," Alencherry was quoted by
Fides as saying.

Kerala is governed by a coalition led by the Congress Party which is
presided by the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi. The opposition is a
coalition between the Left Democratic Front and the Communist Party of

Alencherry was formally made a cardinal along with 21 other prelates
by Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony in St Peter's basilica on Saturday.

He was accompanied by Kerala native K.V. Thomas, a minister of state
in the ministry of agriculture and in the ministry of consumer
Thomas "is a man of great moral stature and significant influence,
both in the local and in the central government, who has assured me of
his maximum effort. I guarantee my constant attention in the coming
days," Alencherry said.


2. amb TPS' view:


3. my view, reposted:


4. jagannathan finds the cardinal sinning

(there was actually a fellow from the philippines in this lot earlier, and his name was Jaime Cardinal Sin, no kidding).

Interesting development on Freedom for Baluchistan

feb 23rd, 2012 CE

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: N
Date: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM
Subject: Re: Interesting development on Freedom for Baluchistan
To: N

Good point. Intent then must be to pressure Pakistan to permit US Special Forces operations from Baluchistan.

Another brilliant move by the State Dept Einsteins. So the Baluchi Liberation Front will now demand that Interpol be asked to add the murder of Nawab Bugti to the charges against Musharraf, and violence will ramp up in Baluchistan and Sindh. I look forward to hearing of many more oil pipelines and rail tracks being "inflated" there. :)

All in all, win-win.


On Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM,  wrote:
i think it's the anti-iran lobby (possibly israeli). an independent
baluchistan will be at least as much trouble for iran as it is for

On 2/23/12, N wrote:
> Hadn't heard this one before. Why is the Hon.  Rep. Rohrabacher on this
> wagon, I wonder.
> Past wagons, just for perspective:
> 1) Space Solar Power
> 2) Taliban-UNOCAL pipeline deal
> 3) Taliban-UNOCAL-Iran pipeline deal
> 4) Opposition to US-India nuclear deal
> and a few other not-so-stellar achievements. So my only question is: which
> lobby is paying for this resolution?
> n

a tweeting thorn in the side of al saud: did saudis invested $300m in twitter to shut this guy up?

feb 23rd, 2012 CE

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: B

Mujtahidd: A Tweeting Thorn in the Side of Al Saud

By: Jomana Farhat

Al-Akhbar [Beirut], February 20, 2012

A controversial campaign by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia to discredit Twitter has failed to silence @mujtahidd, a rising tweeting star exposing the corruption of the royal family. In an exclusive interview with Al-Akhbar, @mujtahidd spoke about his motives and vision for change in the Saudi kingdom.

Last month, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh issued a statement calling on Muslims to avoid Twitter. He argued that Twitter is used to “spread lies,” “issue fatwas without basis and not supported by evidence,” and “smear” important religious and political figures. Many were not convinced by this argument and began to speculate about the real reason behind the Saudi mufti issuing such an injunction against Twitter in particular, as opposed to the other websites and forums popular among Saudis.

So what is happening on Twitter in Saudi Arabia, where the highest number of users in the Middle East are found? There is indeed something out of the ordinary, and he goes by the twitter tag of @mujtahidd (studious in Arabic). Since last November, @mujtahidd has been tweeting about the most prominent members of the ruling family. In the process he has revealed a great deal about their various acts of corruption and financial scandals, in addition to details about their extravagant lifestyles supported by state coffers.

The list of individuals linked to the royal family targeted by @mujtahidd thus far includes the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz and a number of his sons, including Royal Diwan chief of staff Khaled Tuwaijri, Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz (who @mujtahidd revealed has recently undergone bypass surgery), and Nayef’s son Prince Saud, who is currently serving as his father’s chief of staff.

Others targeted include Minister of Defense Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, Deputy Minister of Defense Khaled bin Sultan, Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, Chairman of Al Hilal Saudi Football Club Abdulrahman bin Musa’ad, Prince Nayef bin Mamdouh, and head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice Abdul Latif al-Sheikh.

However, the biggest target of @mujtahidd’s tweets has been Abdul-Aziz bin Fahd, the youngest son of the late King Fahd that @mujtahidd refers to as “Azzouz” in his posts. @mujtahidd raises questions about Abdul-Aziz bin Fahd’s excesses, asking: “Is it true that your palace in Riyadh next to the Yamama Palace is larger than the king’s residence and cost the state around 12 billion riyals because it is comprised of several palaces? Is it true that it is 2 million square meters in area and [its construction] began in 1994 and work continued until 2003, and the real cost was 3 billion and the rest (9 billion) went between you and Hariri?”


The biggest question @mujtahidd aimed at Azzouz was “Did you resign or were you forced to resign from your post as head of the Diwan of the Council of Ministers?” He goes on to provide some details regarding Abdul-Aziz’s removal, saying “the three Tuwaijris [the King’s sons, Mutaib, Khaled and Abdul-Aziz] played a trick on King Fahd’s son [Abdul-Aziz] by sending him a message through which they convinced him that his dismissal from [his post] was imminent and that if he wanted to save face, he should tender his resignation. Then, they arranged a meeting for him with one of his uncles with whom they coordinated unbeknownst to the King [Abdullah], and he told [Abdul-Aziz] the same thing they had, so Abdul-Aziz bin Fahd was forced to accept the idea that he was dismissed upon his request.”

Abdul-Aziz bin Fahd has responded to @mujtahidd in recent weeks, denouncing his claims as slander and calling him a hired tool. He went as far as calling for a mubahala, a call for God to punish whichever one of them is lying, only to backtrack later.

Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, brother of King Abdullah, got some criticism from @mujtahidd, who asked him: “Do you deny that the total land that you own within the country amounts to tens of millions of square meters and most of it is in the major cities?” This prompted Prince Talal to respond on Twitter, saying “I do not have any land except the 40,000 square meters, which is my house and some small plots surrounding it.”

He also hinted at the possibility of releasing documents that expose members of the ruling family, saying: “one of the owners of vast tracts of land has close to 500 million square meters!!...Everybody knows this.”

Among @mujtahidd’s tweets there is a good share dedicated to Khaled al-Tuwaijri, who is the chief of staff for the Royal Diwan. He is also the private secretary of the King and the director of the Royal Guard. He discussed Khaled’s expanding powers over the past years through an anecdote involving Prince Mishaal bin Abdul-Aziz and the King.


According to the story, “Mishaal came to greet King Abdullah, and asked him about His Majesty King Khaled, to which the King [Abdullah] replied that ‘Khaled [the former King] is dead, may God rest his soul.’ Mishaal then responded saying ‘I don’t mean Khaled bin Abdul-Aziz. I mean His Majesty King Khaled al-Tuwaijri,’” in an apparent jab at Tuwaijri’s rise in influence and power.

King Abdullah had to appease Prince Mishaal “verbally with kind words and in deeds with a deal for the second part of the Haramain rail project worth 30 billion riyals, which was won by the Al Shoula Group owned by Mishaal.”

The alleged corruption of current Deputy Minister of Defense Khaled bin Sultan was also touched upon by @mujtahidd. In this case the focus was on his arms deals and how he inflated their real price during the latest deal with the US, alongside his manipulation of stock prices of some companies.

These tweets helped @mujtahidd attract more than 200,000 followers on Twitter in just over two months. This phenomenon has caused a stir within the ruling family, which is attempting to expose the identity of this mysterious person in hope of putting an end to the revelations. This issue has become a top priority as @mujtahidd’s followers now look forward to reading the latest juicy details of what is taking place behind the gates of the princes’ palaces.

@mujtahidd promised many more surprises in the coming days as he takes his activities beyond just tweeting. In an email conversation with Al-Akhbar, @mujtahidd promised many more surprises in the coming days as he takes his activities beyond just tweeting. He insists on concealing his true identity as a “security precaution,” and he says “anyone can put forth their own theory.” The details of the information revealed have led many to conclude that @mujtahidd is either one of the members of the ruling family or someone who was until recently close to the decision-making circles.


@mujtahidd says that his sources of information include “several individuals within the ruling family, among them princes and those who work in sensitive areas,” while he indicates that some of the information is his own.

As for the reason for divulging this information, @mujtahidd explains that “there are very few individuals from the family sympathetic to reform. Those few have no power but they have information” which they can leak.

This is an indication that the differences within the ruling family are peaking to an extent that certain princes are no longer afraid to go after other members of the family.

@mujtahidd rejects the notion that he is part of score settling between the various Saudi princes.About his sources, @mujtahidd says he believes in “the necessity of exposing corruption and the corrupt as part of an awareness project that contributes to accelerating political change.” He explains that it has fallen upon him in particular to reveal this information because: “I have known this group for a long time due to my position, my activities, and my work over the years” and because “I am more capable [than the others] of writing, expressing [my ideas], and facing the public.”


@mujtahidd rejects the notion that he is part of score settling between the various Saudi princes, pointing out that “if [my tweets] were focused on one particular prince, then perhaps this would be an explanation, but the fact that the issues discussed have targeted all factions [of the family] disproves this hypothesis.”

He also denies being beholden to certain interests, adding, “I use my relationships to realize my goal of making the people aware of the immense scale of corruption, and I direct the information [I gather and disseminate] at realizing this goal. Nobody can exploit me, no-matter how hard they try.” According to @mujtahidd, his goals will not be achieved until the awareness he is promoting translates into “action by the people demanding to fight corruption and implement their demands in practice.”

The goal @mujtahidd has set for his action may seem unrealistic to many but he disagrees. “If the people were not ready to believe @mujtahidd and sympathize with him, then his number of followers would not have reached 200,000.”