Feyman Lectures on Physics

Sep 11, 2017

Liberal Nationalism of Amish@Algebra

Liberal Indian Nationalism of Amish@Algebra is non-interventionist to the extent that traditional or religious "personal laws" can be argued against only on case-to-case basis. Thus, "Instant Triple Talaq" or "Sati" or "Untouchability" need not be (or need not have been) banned -- neither by legislative act nor by judicial action (court judgment); however, the aggrieved individuals can approach the Indian court and seek justice in individual capacity. By this logic, Amish also seems to be opposed to Uniform Civil Code promoted by the Indian constitution as a directive principle. (Of course, all this is my interpretation of what Amish@Algebra is saying).

This (above) approach seems problematic but is supported by court judgments since 1952 (ref. Narsu Appa Mali vs. Bombay state etc.). Even the present split (2 vs. 3) supreme court judgment which bans Instant Triple Talaq has taken a roundabout route without clearly upholding the preamble values in the constitution. Fortunately, Indian legislature has taken a clear cut stand on Sati (1987 Prevention of sati act), while Untouchbility was banned by the constitution itself when it was formed in 1950.

In general however, I find Amish@Algbra as one of the best articulations of liberal cultural nationalism.


Sep 10, 2017

Liberal Indian Nationalism

Amish (he usually drops his surname Tripathi) seems to be one of the best proponents of liberal cultural nationalism. Here is his interview in Algebra program anchored by Shoma Chaudhary.

Jul 19, 2017

Future Shock - Shashi Tharoor @ Algebra

Shashi Tharoor @ Algebra. He talks about his book "An Era of Darkness" and many other things. I think, Tharoor is also articulating the liberal cultural nationalism while exposing the British colonial rule in India. Congress - the party to which Tharoor belongs - can adopt it, but it is unlikely that Congress will do that it in a hurry because of their dynastic fixation and their compulsion to sharply differentiate themselves from the cultural nationalism of the ruling party (BJP). Can present Congress president sing Vande Mataram from a public platform without fear of losing votes (or even otherwise?).

Jul 12, 2017

Conformal Cyclic Cosmology

Here is the latest which I came across about CCC - my favorite speculative theory of beginning-less and end-less Cyclic Universe. CCC model was formulated by Roger Penrose and his colleague. The article is published with open access at Springerlink.com.

औपनिषदिक जीवनसौख्य

Traditional Advaita teaches following doctrines:

(1) Ultimate reality is non-dual and apophatic (via-negativa)
(2) This reality is the substratum of experiential (and material) Universe.
(3) Knowledge of Ultimate Reality is liberating
(4) Liberation vide (3) is unique (Liberation iff Knowledge)
(5) Knowledge and Actions (karma) are incompatible with each other.

All Advaitins are likely to agree with (1) and (2) which define the metaphysical framework of Advaita, but they may not agree with one or more aspects of other three doctrines which define the axiology of Advaita. They also may not agree if (2) is interpreted to mean that experiential and material Universe is a secondary reality of the kind of illusion. For example, Bhagavata tradition in Maharashtra and boundary districts of Karnataka will agree with (1) and (2) in principle but may not agree with the axiology and illusory aspect of orthodox Advaita.

Aupanishadic Jivan-Saukhya (औपनिषदिक जीवनसौख्य) [AJS] is a typical rendering of such realistic and active Advaita. The book is written by Dr Keshav Laxman Daftari (1880-1956) in Marathi. Dr Daftari was known for his scholarship, truthfulness, self-less character, and rational thinking. He had both secular training (in Mathematics, Law, History, Sanskrit etc.) and traditional learning (in Vedanga, Dharmashastra, Jyotish etc.). AJS has been published by Vidarbha Samshodhana Mandal, Nagpur in 1957 with a forward by well known Sanskrit Scholar and Indologist Dr Vasudeva Vishnu Mirashi.

AJS directly interprets Upanishads and draws its conclusions independently - without getting influenced by any of the traditional teachers (Acharyas) of Advaita. It is divided in three parts. The first part discusses as to which Upanishads should be taken as evidence, how to interpret them, what is their Anubandha (subject, objective) and their style of narration.

The second part goes deeper to discuss the Anubandha. It concludes that Jivanmukti by way of acquiring the happiness of Knowledge - i.e. living, wakeful-blissful experience of Advaita - is the goal of Aupanishad Upadesha (Upanishads' Teachings). AJS discusses cosmogony and metaphysics of Upanishads to decide that Upanishads are talking about Vikasavada (teleological evolution) of the Universe rather than Vivartavada (transfiguration of the Universe). In the end, even though Brahman may the efficient and material cause of the Universe the bliss of Knowledge can be experienced only in waking state and not in sleep, Samadhi, or death (absolute non-duality) though non-duality is the ultimate reality.

Part three of AJS discusses methodology of being happy by adopting the vision (if not the ontologically absolute non-duality) of Advaita. It explains Pranopasana (प्राणोपासना) or Jivopasana (जीवोपासना) as taught by Upanishads and as understood by him: (a) Jiviopasana or Pranopasana is done by the Jiva by engaging itself (and in cooperation with others) in activities (karma) which are required for Jiva to keep a healthy body and mind, (b) Sense-gratification activities are limited to and to the purpose of meaningful survival and procreation, (c) Interact with others with an Advaitic vision - simply put, help the needy and avoid violence, (d) Advaitic vision is developed not only by karma or by Knowledge but by combination of both (Gyana-Karma samucchaya, ज्ञानकर्मसमुच्चय), (e) According to AJS, Upanishads mention after-death scenario, transmigration etc. only to eulogize Advaita (vision, values). Veda Apaurusheyatva (वेद अपौरूषेयत्व) is not taught by Upanishads and is not required for imbibing Advaitc values.

Dr Daftari's interpretation goes against traditional (Shankara) Bhashya which emphasizes karma-sannyasa (कर्म-संन्यास) by rejecting ज्ञानकर्मसमुच्चय. It also goes against Vivarta-Vada (विवर्त वाद) which assigns illusory secondariness to all empirical transactions. Though Vivarta and other Shankara Advaita concepts show compatibility and similarity with science and its paradoxes, and provide metaphysical insights, AJS provides a robust and practical alternative to traditional Shankara Advaita.

Jul 10, 2017

Transmigration and Rebirth in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad (BU) is one of the oldest and most important upaniShad-s of Vedic canon; and yAGYavalkya (YV) is the main sage and seer of this upaniShad. YV does not seem to support transmigration and rebirth. (He however, supports apophatic Atman=Brahman, and in that sense YV - whether he is historical or mythical person - is the proponent, and possibly the first protagonist of Kevala Advaita).

We will have to go trough YV's opinions in BU 2.4.12, 5.10-11, 3.9.28, and 3.2.11.

BU 2.4.12: idam mahadbhUtaManantaM apAraM viGYAnaghana eva | etebhyo bhUtebhyaH samutthAya tAnevAnuvinashyati, na pretya saMGYAstItyare bravImIti hovAcha yAGYavalkya ||

This infinite, unlimited, mahadbhUta (empirical Reality) is like a "massed consciousness" (self). (It) emerges from and is destroyed with these elements (e.g. body made of five gross elements). After death, there is no (individual) consciousness or self. This is what I say, my dear, so said yAGyavalkya.

(Continuity of self in transmigration is refuted making rebirth meaningless).

BU 5.10: yadA vai puruSho.asmAllokAtpraiti sa vAyumAgachChati tasmai sa tatra vijihIte yathA rathachakrasya kham | tena sa Urdhva Akramate | sa AdityamAgachChati | tasmai sa tatra vijihIte yathA laMbarasya kham | tena sa Urdhva Akramate sa chandramasamAgachChati | tasmai sa tatra vijihIte yathA duduMbheH kham | tena sa Urdhva Akramate sa lokamAgachChati ashoka-mahimam | tasminvasati shAshvatIH samAH |

When a man departs from this world, he goes to the (deity) air, who makes for him opening in his body like the hole of a chariot-wheel. He proceeds upward through that and comes to the sun, who makes for him an opening in his body like the hole of a tabor. He proceeds upward through that and comes to the moon, who makes an opening for him in his body like the hole of a drum. He proceeds upward through that and comes to a world where there is no grief (being without sorrow or sufferings is its greatness). He lives there permanently.

(This permanent grief-less abode - Brahman - is for all humans; why? .. see below)

BU 5.11: etadvai paramaM tapo yadvyahitastapyate | paramaM haiva lokaM jayati ya evaM veda | etadvai paramaM tapo yaM preta maraNyaM haranti | paramaM haiva lokaM jayati ya evaM veda| etadvai paramaM tapo yaM pretamagnAvabhyAdadhati | paramaM haiva lokaM jayati ya evaM veda ||

This is verily a great penance that a diseased person suffers. He who knows thus wins indeed a great world. This is verily a great penance that people carry a dead man to the forest. he who knows thus wins indeed a great world. This verily a great penance that they lay a dead man on the fire. He who knows thus wins indeed a great world.

(These penances are common to all humans - GYAnI and aGYAnI alike - and hence, according to YV, all humans go to the permanent grief-less abode. This is really an arthavAda - eulogy - of the ego-less Knower who does not expect special rewards post-release... This is explained elsewhere in the Upanishad(s). But then what is the axiological, ethical difference between GYAnI and aGYAnI apart from this knowledge of equality in death?.. see below).

BU 3.9.28: yatsamUlamAvRRiheyurvRRixaM punarAbhavet | martyaH svin mRRityunAvRRikNaH kasmAnmUlAtprarohati ||6||

If they pull a tree out with its roots, it does not spring again. (Then) from what root does man sprout after he is cut down by the death?

(The straightforward answer is: "there is no rebirth after death for the jIva". This is conformed by the following stanza. But then why one should realize Brahman? Answer is given in the same stanza)

jAta eva na jAyate, kOnvenaM janayetpunaH | viGYAnaAnandaM brahma rAtirdAtuH parAyaNam tiShThamAnasya tadvida iti ||7||

Once born (jIva) does not reborn (after death, because) who is to produce him again? To the living Knower (of Brahman, however), Brahman gives the best of gifts.. the Bliss of Knowledge. Hence know That (Brahman).

(Here there is no talk of transmigration or rebirth. The living Knower (jIvanmukta) is privy to Knowledge of Advaita which sees Self in all; and hence he is in possession of lasting peace (bliss) and freedom which is not available to the ordinary mortals).

BU 3.2.11: yAGYavalkyeti hovAcha, yatrAyaM puruSho mRRiyata udasmAtprANAH krAmantyAho3 neti; neti hovAcha yAGyavalkya:, atraiva samavanIyante, sa uchChvayati, AdhmAyati, AdhmAto mRRitaH shete ||

'yAGYavalkya', said (ArthabhAga), "when this man dies, do his organs (including internal organ or mind) depart from him or not?" 'No', said yAGyavalkya. They dissolve in him alone. (Only) the body swells, is bloated, and lies motionless in that state.

(Here, too transmigration and rebirth is denied. According Advaita tradition, this is supposed to be for liberated person. However, from previous references this should be applicable to all humans. This is usually read with BU 3.2.13 where YV eulogizes righteous karma and conclude that one becomes noble through righteous work and ignoble through unrighteous work. This is both the eulogy of righteous acts and the censure of unrighteous acts; it has nothing to do with transmigration and rebirth).

Contrary to all above references, YV from BU 4.3.35 to 4.4.9 teaches "transmigration and rebirth" as a purANa (old, established) opinion (BU 4.4.8) and not his own opinion. Possibly, YV was rather afraid of teaching his rather unorthodox positions vide BU 3.8.28, 3.2.11 etc. to king Janaka (see, BU 4.3.33: atra ha yAGYavalkyo bibhayAMchakAra, medhAvI rAjA sarvebhyo mAntebhya udaroutsIditi).

(Cf: (1) "The bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad" - original text with translation, notes etc by Sw. Jagadishwarananda and Sw. Madhavananda published by RK Math, Chennai; 1951; and (2) "Aupanishad Soukhya" (Marathi) by Dr.  K. L. Daftari with forward by Dr. V V Mirashi and introduction by Dr. G. K. Garde, published by Vidarbha Samshodhaka Mandal, 1957).

Jan 5, 2017

Is it really Sw. Vivekananda's voice?

Last year I heard few audio clips on YouTube of Vivekananda's Chicago speeches in his supposedly original voice. For example, see this clip. These clips however, are most probably fake - that is to say, they do not contain the voice of Sw. Vivekananda. See this article:

It says: "this voice isn’t that of Vivekananda’s but instead belongs to one Subir Ghosh and has been extracted from a collection titled Chicago Speeches – Swami Vivekananda published by RPG Group and was available online on HamaraCD.com - click here

There are five speeches recorded in the voice of Subir Ghosh said to have been originally made on 11th, 15th, 19th, 26th, and 27th of September 1893.; duration (in min) 4.17, 2.57, 33.04, 2.14, 4.10 respectively.