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  1. #1
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    FAITH versus PROOF


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    I want to share some of my views on the captioned subject, with other
    members of the forum.

    1. For all kinds of faiths, proof cannot be produced nor shall be demanded.

    2. The world over, majority of people accept this principle as a settled issue.
    But only in India, that too only when it comes to Hinduism and its related
    matters, hue and cry is being made demanding material evidence or
    historical proof for the topic under discussion.

    3. It must be remembered here that history, on the lines of one written by
    Europeans, was not recorded as a separate discipline, until the arrival of
    the English, French, Portuguese and the like in India, in the 17th century
    A.D. But, historical events have been mentioned either briefly or
    elaborately in various stories - oral or written - in the form of folk tales,
    morals, dramas, music/songs, paintings, sculptures and monuments and
    other forms of arts, crafts and literature, over the past 3000 years.

    Similarly the visiting tourists from other countries who have written books
    that have gained acceptance and credibility in the academic circles
    globally, vouch for certain important historical events and social
    conditions prevailing in India, as observed by them during their visit.

    4. One could see the connecting fibre/undercurrent between various works
    of this nature, irrespective of our country being under rule by people of
    different kinds of faiths, languages, religions - both indigenous and alien -
    and race and colour.

    This is what we call unity in diversity today, when we talk about our
    country and its glorious heritage.

    5. The central objective of this letter (!) from me is why should we keep on
    questioning everything about Hinduism, thus rejecting everything at the
    end. Rationalism is not challenging the settled beliefs, but accepting
    them only after rigorous tests or repeated questioning, for the sake of
    seeking additional information, clarifications on the missing links and
    ultimately convincing oneself, before accepting them and adopting them,
    either in part or as a whole.

    6. Unfortunately, the modern intellectuals criticise and pass judgements on
    every aspect of Hinduism, only to belittle it. They don't have the
    courage to do this to other religions or faiths.

    My intention is not to urge/provoke such so-called intellectuals to poke their nose in other religions also, but to advise them to exhibit the same level of tolerance towards Hinduism and its beliefs and practices.

    - pannvalan
  2. #2
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    Dear Sri Pannvalan!

    I wish to share some views here, Would really appreciate discussions and replies...

    Our culture is not based on Faith like other neo religions.

    Rigourous questioning is entertained and not shunned at all. The very word "Shishya" means a student asking question in a committed manner. A shishya serve a "Guru" to clear his doubts and questions only.

    The Guru also test the "Shishya" on its commitment, dedication , intellect etc... before imparting the teachings. Thus we have an unbroken lineage of "Guru-Shishya" parampara in our culture.

    There are many Shanti - patams meaning prayers, where Guru prays for shishya and Shishya prays for Guru . Guru - Shishya bonding is revered in Vedas.

    Thiruvalluvar also praise " Selvathul Selvam Sevitchelvam .....".

    The modern day problem is the system of education, a teacher is treated as an employer, teacher also works for money - the teachings are also mainly on "Jagat Vicharanai" and nothing else. You can learn about what, medicine, legal issues, technology, astronomy, science etc..... all dealing with what ? only external things .....

    We have achieved material success, but there is no content in us. We know we can't sustain ecology at this rate of consumption, but there is no strong will to stop this rate of consumption. Why?

    Now I'm deviating from the topic.

    If the modern people are very sincere in there quest, they would definetly find answers (Venumna Verlayum kaikkum) unfortunately many of us lack this questive spirit called "Jignasuthvam". So in the name of rational thinking we ask questions as though the other party is responsible to solve our doubts.

    Many of us have some pre-conceived ideas that something is not right, like Jati-system, etc... we continue to hold this view and then start to look at things and pose questions, not for clarity , but to justify our own pet ideas, that's our problem.

    Some personal experience..

    My own elder brother , when he asked questions on why to do this and this like in a particular way to my Father and Shastrigal. He didn't get the answers or not satisfied with the answers he get, and with the influence of "athiest" teacher, he became an athiest. He used to jest, cut sarcastic remarks on our way of doing things, at that time needless to say I got influenced by him.

    But down the years, it dawned to me that his and mine quests are not a sincere one. If it is a sincere one we would have knocked the right place. I mean, if we really want to know why a ritual or a prayer performed in a paricular way with all the do's and dont's, if we didn't get the answers from our Father and Priest , we would have definetly find one genuine Teacher to get a reply. Anyway....

    Continuing to your post...

    We must definetly ask questions and if we are very sincere about it, we would surely know, whom to ask, when to ask, how to ask etc.. not a big deal.

    What is lacking is a genuine heart-felt commitment to know just purely for oneself (Aatma Labham) - My preceptions.

    Till we get it clear we need - Shraddha - Belief - Nambikkai.

    I use a quote from Mahakavi Subramania Bharatiyar here,
    "Nambinor Keduvathilai Nangu Marai Theerpu"

    Regards,
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  4. #3
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    Dear Sri Pannvalan Ji,

    It has taken several days for me to read and reread your posting several times before understanding the crux of your posting. I believe that you have touched upon something very central to the issues facing Hinduism today. I hope I can, in a small way shed some light on this.

    1. First of all, one needs to seperate our modern 'secular' life (for a want of better word), with our Hindu life based on Varnashrama system. The latter system seems to have worked admirably for a long time, till the time when the fissures and fractures within had allowed for others to invade India and/or other religions to find space and home here.

    2. Ever since the British came in, as a society we were divided and ruled and as such a large portion of our intelligentsia were exposed to the 'new' ideas of the west, which seemed fresh and in vogue compared to our traditional ideas, which did not seem to serve the emergence of the modern world very well.

    3. So a lot of our leaders who were educated abroad carried these ideas to be implemented for a 'new modern' India. This created new traditions, such as Arya Samaj etc., who eschewed the Varna Dharma. So was a new national constitition adopted to eshew the Varna system.

    4. This essentially undercut the foundation of our religion as practiced for a long time. Hinduism has come to be viewed as Brahminism, and in this context, I think the connection to our scriptures by the vast majority of Hindus were lost. People could not identify with the old system anymore.

    5. This is also the reason why we have so many different sambradhayams, who relentlessly, almost mindlessly are clinging to the facade of their philosophies. This has become a different world, where a Brahmin is no more respected, a Sudhra still does not know where he fit in, but I see either of them at work either as my boss or my employee. Where is the moral code that tells me how to treat others in such circumstances? So, vegetarian Brahmins keep away from the non-vegetarian Sudras in the place where they are supposed to mingle together to forge ahead as one class of Indians.

    6. So, this is the issue. Who are we at the secular place of work? Who are we at home? Where does humanity fit in? Can we function as a society anymore and prosper if we do not think ourselves as Indians first?

    This confusion is what is at play. We have to choose: either we live in a modern world and accept it within the bounds of our values and culture or we reject it at the cost of being passed by. It is our choice.

    Maha Periaval's words are divine. But I have not found one person yet so far, who quotes Him, completely changing his lifestyle to follow His words. I am starting from a very simple request of him to not collect Varadhakshinai. And out of His love for us, He has even said what is the 'minimum' expected of us. I do not think a majority of us would today fit that bill.

    So, again I ask: who are we? Some say that if you are born in India but have left then you are not a Brahmin anymore. Some say that if you marry outside of the clan you are not a brahmin anymore. Some say if you do not follow the minimal nithya karmas, you are not a brahmin anymore.

    So, then. who is a Hindu? If I believe that everything said in all our scriptures as something that happened, then am I Hindu? What if I believe in only a portion of the fantastic stories? What difference does it make?

    Faith, ultimately, by definition can not be held up for scientific proof. But at the same time, one can not insist that all faith based concepts can be scientifically provable.

    So, when one argues about proof and faith in one sentence, one then essentially argues about entities that belong to two completely different Universes. It is like comparing a moon rock with some milk on earth.

    Pranams,
    KRS
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