Maya, Moksha, Nama and Rupa

Maya

Pondering the fact of death, I am reminded that impermanence is a central feature of the world we live in. The phenomenal world — of things and events — is called maya in the dharmic traditions (namely Jain, Hindu, Buddhist & Sikh.)

The world is maya. Many people simply translate it as “ the world is an illusion” but that is incorrect. The world is real. Maya does not mean that the world is unreal or that it is an illusion. It means something like this: the world as we perceive it is not what the world actually is. We cannot directly perceive the reality that is at the foundation of what exists. That reality is given a word — Brahman. Most of us cannot comprehend the Brahman because we are limited beings. Continue reading

Material and Cosmological Beliefs

nataraja2I am a Hindu.

In what sense am I a Hindu? Does what I read, write, wear and consume make me a Hindu? I think, read and write in English, I wear Western style clothing, I live in a Western country, etc. Even then I am a Hindu at the core of my being.

What defines me as a Hindu is my core belief system. How I comprehend the world is what determines whether I am a Hindu or not. The important distinction here is between “material beliefs” and “cosmological beliefs.” Continue reading

Ask Me Anything — The Demonetization Edition

amaMoney is important. The real economy cannot function without a stable and predictable currency. Money serves as a numéraire, which the wiki defines as “a basic standard by which value is computed . . . the numéraire is one of the functions of money, to serve as a unit of account: to provide a common benchmark relative to which the worth of various goods and services are measured.”

These days, nearly all money is fiat money issued by the central bank of an economy which is controlled (indirectly perhaps) by the government. The quantity, and therefore the “price” of money (which is the interest rate), is controlled by the central bank. Continue reading

Liberalism in India: Past, Present and Future

CCS Book Cover
Liberalism in India

The Center for Civil Society convened a day-long conference on Nov 20th at The Claridges Hotel, New Delhi, to honor the memory of S V Raju. I attended and had the opportunity to meet with many friends and also some people I had heard about but never met before.

About the event, CCS notes: Continue reading

AMA: the “What I Profess” edition

Dashboard "Bobble head" Jesus
Dashboard “Bobble head” Jesus

This is a confession of my beliefs on a variety of subjects, some fundamental and some derivative. It partly answers the question “who am I?” and goes some way in demonstrating that the matters I profess have coherence, consistency and structural integrity. I will first introduce them as a list and then expand on each item as needed. I will keep this preamble brief as I expect that I will learn much about myself in the writing of this personal piece. This  is a personal confession; expect liberal use of the first person pronoun. Continue reading

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi — the Chicago edition

IMG_0159Ganesh, the Lord of Beginnings, the Remover of Obstacles is without doubt the coolest of gods. He goes places. Here’s him in the home of Molly and Prashant and their children Ria and Joydeep in Chicago. I stopped here on my way from the East coast to San Jose.

Continue reading

Ask Me Anything — The Boston Edition

Greetings from Boston, MA. I arrived last evening from San Jose, CA to visit my friend Kanchan Banerjee and his family. The weather here was a shock — hot and humid — after the pleasant cool and dry of the SF Bay area. That wonderful weather spoils you something silly. Anyway, lots of stuff going on. What’s on your mind?

The Journey So Far, and What Lies Ahead

Always at the start
The Road Ahead

I arrived in the US on this day, August 15th, back in 1982 at JFK in New York, NY around 5 PM Eastern (Aug 16th, 5:30 AM IST.) Though it’s been many years, I still recall exactly how I felt. It was the best day of my life that far.

I had no idea of what lay ahead.

I came to the US to get a PhD in computer science at Rutgers. At that time I had not known that I was at heart an economist. In any event, I worked for Hewlett Packard for some years in the Silicon Valley, and then went back to school. Now, after 20 years of studying economics, just this past month I concluded that I finally understood the subject.
Continue reading

Democracy and the Economics of Politics

Lord Acton“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men . . .”

The truth of Lord Acton’s observation gets confirmed with sickening regularity. Here I explore that point in the context of democracy. Why do democracies, particularly those with powerful governments, tend to elect bad people? What’s the analytical relationship between power, politics, money and corruption? Continue reading