Sri Ganesh Chaturthi Greetings

श्री वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्य कोटी समप्रभा निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्व-कार्येशु सर्वदा॥
Shree Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam KuruMe Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvada॥
“O one with the curved trunk and immense body, one with the brilliance of ten million suns, please do remove obstacles to all my actions always.”
The translation lacks the poetry of the Sanskrit verse but it would have to do.

As you may be aware of, I completed a pretty long journey last week across the North American continent. From San Jose CA to Newark DE, it was around 6,600 kms (or 4,100 miles). The intermediate stops along the route were Oakland CA, Grass Valley CA, Salt Lake City UT, Gillette WY, Watertown SD, Minneapolis MN, Chicago IL, (side trip to Carbondale IL to catch the Great American Total Solar Eclipse), and Windham OH. Here is the route, in two screen captures of google maps.
San Jose CA to Carbondale IL
Cardondale IL to Newark DE
I arrived at my destination on schedule and in one piece. No doubt Ganesh removed all obstacles along my journey. That’s why I recommend paying appropriate bribes to him before starting on any endeavor 🙂

6 thoughts on “Sri Ganesh Chaturthi Greetings

    1. You’re correct–but only to a limited extent–in considering me an atheist. However, my position is not that of those atheists whose cultural background is Judeo-Christian like Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. Atheism, as defined in the context of the existence of the god of the monotheists, does not describe my position on the matter of religious beliefs. I would be happy to elaborate on this topic upon request.

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      1. Well I have been following your blog for years now(probably read 500 posts and your book too) and understand your position on religion pretty well.

        It’s something like:

        Monotheism just thinks of everyone else as an infidel to be saved. Hence its obsession with conversion.
        The monotheistic god comes across as a psycho sadistic despot.
        They are close to all reasoning beyond what their books say.
        Hinduism is open and welcoming to all people, a smart guy like carl sagan is also impressed how hindus get the age of universe almost right(or close).

        In the end though I will just say that if the british had successfully converted the country to majority christianity things simply would have been better today.

        All give and take today, modern christianity today is a far better myth to encourage than 2 million hindu gods or the religion of piece.

        They value education.
        They are mostly highly pacifist.
        They practice live and let live most of the time.
        They speak and understand better english! This alone would have I feel made india somewhat a nation of readers.
        They become true and proper atheists when confronted with some good arguments.

        I would also like to bring out a few points on hinduism in general. I recently got done with the amazing book Sapiens – A brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

        Here’s how he challenges the idea that hinduism is polytheistic. And also explains how christian monotheism incorporated specific gods in the form of saints. Let’s just keep it to hinduism for this post.

        In Hindu polytheism, a single principle, Atman, controls the myriad gods and spirits, humankind and the biological and physical world, Atman is the eternal essence or soul of the entire universe, as well as of every individual and every phenomenon.

        The fundamental insight of polytheism, which distinguishes it from monotheism, is that the supreme power governing the world is devoid of interests and biases, and therefore it is unconcerned with the mundane desires, cares and worries of humans. It’s pointless to ask this power for victory in war, for health or for rain, because from it all-encompassing vantage point.

        Basically the atman simply does not care what happens to homo sapiens.

        He compares this with the greek god of fate.

        The greeks did not waste any sacrifices on Fate. and Hindus built no temples to Atman.

        He further continues.

        Most hindus are not sadhus. They are sunk deep in the morass of mundane concerns, where the atman is not much help. For assistance in such matters, hindus approach the gods with their partial powers.

        Precisely because their powers are partial rather than all-encompassing, gods such as ganesha, lakshmi etc have interests and biases. Humans can therefore make deals with these partial powers and rely on their help in order to win wars and recuperate from illness.

        Which basically comes down to your last line of “That’s why I recommend paying appropriate bribes to him before starting on any endeavor” which sounds “cute” with all with the emoticon and everything.

        But there are sad human tragedies behind this.

        A family I know has been welcoming the ganpati for 3 yrs now, and this year a family member has been hit with cancer, they were already struggling with finances, then cancer and then comes gannu. One would think they could connect the dots and see that mr.gannu is not really interested in “removing their obstacles”. Alas, they are still at it. Bankrupt but at it.
        A christian family would have enough sense to just have a few drinks less for christmas but gannu unlike jesus just won’t put up with that. Not inviting him after inviting for 2 yrs means a great misery will befall on you (like cancer?). Is that any different than the monotheistic psycho desert god yahweh?

        Look at these wretched people below. No roads, no lights, probably haven’t eaten enough calories (unaffordable for most) for the day but “the remover of obstacles” wants them to dance on the road and block traffic and that they will.

        Are you trying to convince people that these idiots are more enlightened than the those eating the flesh and drinking the blood on sunday mornings? How exactly do you come to the conclusion that hinduism has a somewhat higher moral standing that christianity and islam?

        On an empirical level they are all just myths but given the fact that humans need myths to get along, I think modern christianity is a much better choice than anything else.

        We can further go into how the current hindu psycho PM is using this myth to set his power base. There is hardly anything you can say against him today. His mouthpiece swarajyamag carries articles on how hindi should be revived in tertiary higher education.

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      2. almostaristotle, that’s a whole lot of issues you raise.

        (BTW, I wonder what’s your motivation for using a pseudonym.)

        As you correctly surmised, I am an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in any definition of god. The stress is on “any definition”: not the monotheist definition (the engineer, creator, manager, judge, executioner definition), not the god of any so-called holy books, not the god of “holy” men and women, etc etc.

        The word god is worthless in any discussion. There can be no commonly agreed upon definition of a totally nebulous concept. My reply to the question “do you believe in god?” is always an emphatic no because whatever the questioner’s conception of god is, it is definitely not my conception of god.

        Religion is a different matter from belief in god. Certainly a religious person is commonly assumed to be one who believes in a god (or gods) but there are atheistic religions too, such as Jainism and Buddhism. Most monotheists equate religion with god but that is not the only mistake they make. Maybe they are, as Caesar told Theodotus, barbarians who think “that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.” (Ref: Shaw’s 1898 play Caesar and Cleopatra.)

        Religions differ, both in their worldview and in their effect on the world. Some particularly ignorant people subscribe to the pernicious idiocy of “all religions are the same”. Is Hinduism better or worse than Christianity? Hinduism is a very large object, parts of which are sublime and other parts absolute trash. The monotheist religions, in contrast, are 99.99 percent absolute trash. The monotheists have so far been more materially successful, partly due to their belief system. But that is because monotheism gives its adherents greater confidence in subjugating the meek, not because of superior philosophy.

        Good thing about Hinduism is that the Hindus have the freedom to think for themselves. That is not to say that Hindus commonly exercise that freedom but that freedom does exist in Hinduism and is most definitively absent in Islam (and to a lesser degree absent in Christianity and Judaism.)

        Would it have been better if India had been Christian? Definitely not. To argue that point would take me time that I don’t have right now. Remind me later, if it is of interest to you.

        Regarding the “psycho PM” — well, it’s a democracy, don’t you know. The people get the government they deserve.

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  1. Atanu, would be keen to hear your position on religious beliefs. I feel Dawkins, Sam Harris et al have an easy target / job compared to a more fundamental atheist belief / position

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