Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Futility of War

The demoniac person thinks: "So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice." In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance.
Bg 16.16

"I have learned that an age in which politicians talk about peace is an age in which everybody expects war: the great men of the earth would not talk of peace so much if they did not secretly believe it possible, with one more war, to annihilate their enemies forever. Always, "after just one more war" it will dawn, the new era of love: but first everybody who is hated must be eliminated. For hate, you see, is the mother of their kind of love.

Unfortunately the love that is to be born out of hate will never be born. Hatred is sterile; it breeds nothing but the image of its own empty fury, its own nothingness. Love cannot come of emptiness. It is full of reality. Hatred destroys the real being of man in fighting the fiction which it calls "the enemy." For man is concrete and alive, but "the enemy" is a subjective abstraction. A society that kills real men in order to deliver itself from the phantasm of a paranoid delusion is already possessed by the demon of destructiveness because it has made itself incapable of love. It refuses, a priori, to love. It is dedicated not to concrete relations of man with man, but only to abstractions about politics, economics, psychology, and even, sometimes, religion..."

Thomas Merton

Monday, January 30, 2006

Creating Illusion

Here is an example of messing with the optical mind. If someone has enough time and creative energy, they can create convincing illusions, inside our empirical realm. Actually, the whole world is an illusion, not in the sense that it doesn't exist, but in that we take it for one thing and it is another. It is reality versus Reality. Temporary versus eternal. The illusion is we think it will last as it is, and that it is all that is.

It would be a mistake to ignore reality, that is only another kind of illusion. I mean ignore it in the sense of "I don't need to floss my teeth because this is all temporary." That sort of reasoning is a young (usually) person's misapplication of the concept of illusion. While it is true we are not our body, our body IS our body and needs care. So floss your teeth, your future self will thank you for it.

To see several photos of real illusions in rooms like the above, and to see how it was done, click here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

(William Stafford)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Old Age

An old man goes to see the doctor and gets some tests done. When the results come in, the doctor calls the old man in and says, "You'd better sit down. It's pretty bad." The old man, naturally, gets all nervous and asks, "What is it doc? Don't hold back -- just give it to me straight."

"Well," says the doctor, "you have cancer. But, sir, I'm afraid you also have Alzheimers."

The man replies, "Wow. Well, at least I don't have cancer."

Certainly, the above runs the risk of being a bit tasteless, but that is the advantage of being granted honorary old age status by my medical condition -- I feel a license to use gallows humor. Sort of liberating in a way. Lots of things that used to seem important become uninteresting. That includes sectarian cultural based visions of what spirituality is. A lot of the guilt trips used by institutions (and wannabes who want to control institutions) to maintain their elitist self images seem crude and pathetic attempts to avoid facing reality. Sacrificing their humanity on the altar of the "Absolute". It is starting to amuse me more than annoy me. Some annoyance remains though, so be advised I may not be more lenient when the BS is flying. :-)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Crossword Katha

Here is a devotee who is doing KC crosswords (His puzzles seem to be aimed at a bit older devotee):

"Krsna and Balarama learned the art of dressing hair in various styles and fixing a helmet in different positions on the head. They also learned how to set up a theatrical stage, how to decorate dramatic actors with clothes and with flower ornaments over the ear, and how to sprinkle sandalwood pulp and water to produce a nice fragrance... Then They learned how to make and solve riddles. They learned the art of how even a dull student can very quickly learn the alphabet and read books. Then They learned how to rehearse and act out a drama. They also studied the art of solving crossword puzzles, filling up the missing spaces and making complete words."

KB 45 Krsna recovers the son of His teacher

Devotee Generated Crossword Puzzle

While simple crosswords are certainly a good tool for teaching kids, don't assume they are limited to that:

Not Your Mother's Crossword

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Simple Crossword Puzzle

This is a follow on for the January 21st 2006 post

4. The person in charge
7. A group of people
8. A Famous male soccer player
10. The person who guards the net

1. The thing you do most in soccer
2. What you get when you score
3. You should wear these
5. A good drink for athletes
6. The game zone
9. A round object

Continued for answers

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

India history spat hits US

Link to complete Article

"NEW DELHI – In the halls of Sacramento, a special commission is rewriting Indian history: debating whether Aryan invaders conquered the subcontinent, whether Brahman priests had more rights than untouchables, and even whether ancient Indians ate beef.

That this seemingly arcane Indian debate has spilled over into California's board of education is a sign of the growing political muscle of Indian immigrants and the rising American interest in Asia.

The foes - who include established historians and Hindu nationalist revisionists - are familiar to each other in India. But America may increasingly become their new battlefield as other US states follow California in rewriting their own textbooks to bone up on Asian history.

At stake, say scholars who include some of the most elite historians on India, may be a truthful picture of one of the world's emerging powers - one arrived at by academic standards of proof rather than assertions of national or religious pride..."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Climbing Back Into The Saddle

Missed posting for a bit as I had a little flareup up Sunday. Got so wasted I couldn't raise my head to drink and was dehydrating from a fever spike. My wife had to go get some straws from Madri our neighbor so I could get some fluids in. By Monday night it had gone down enough so I could make it to the bathroom without it being a huge task, but didn't even make it to the computer until this morning for a short session. Caught up with my email then had an appointment I couldn't miss and was wiped out by the time I got home at noon. After a bit of rest, and a little solid food, I may have been able to do something this afternoon but a big wind blew in and the electric kept going in and out so didn't want to boot up. No budget to replace my machine if it gets fried.

We had a thunderstorm, which is pretty unusual for a January in West Virginia, lightning and the whole nine yards. Now where did that expression come from? Certainly from no one who regularly watches American football, where you need to get a total of 10 yards in 4 chances or give up possession to the opposing team. So why don't people say "the whole 10 yards" which is significant, whereas 9 yards is a failure? Idiomatic expressions, go figure.

In any case, I am just blathering on instead of doing any real work to make a post. As usual, whining about my declining material body, but what can I say, I am used to this one and having to trade it in seems to be a lot of bother just now, so I do tend to focus on it more than I probably care to in order to get a few more miles out of it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

108 M Per R, 16 R per D

Much attention is being given these days to delaying the onset of Alzenheimers Disease. There is no magic bullet, but by using incremental strategies, the process can be affected. Not eating meat is a great place to start, of course. Also, while a little butterfat is beneficial and, IMHO, essential, too much can start to have a negative effect, so moderation is in order.

"It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that if one is too austere or too sensuous one cannot control the mind. Sometimes one may bring the mind under control by allowing the material senses limited satisfaction. For example, although one may eat austerely, from time to time one may accept a reasonable amount of maha-prasadam, opulent foods offered to the temple Deities, so that the mind will not become disturbed. Similarly, one may occasionally relax with other transcendentalists through joking, swimming and so forth. But if such activities are performed excessively, they will lead to a setback in spiritual life."

SB 11.20.19

Not that one would only accept opulent prasadam - it is occasionally. Mostly austerity in eating is best. The basics of an proactive lifestyle for prevention of AD can be found at (substitute flaxseed meal for the cold water fish):

Think About Your Future. Maintain Your Brain Today.

Of course, there are those who would say that doing crosswords to excercise the brain is "maya". On one hand, wouldn't it be nice if someone took up the service of doing Krsna Conscious based crosswords? Simple ones for children might be an excellent technique for teaching KC culture and cosmology. More complex ones would be of interest to older devotees. (Ah, the dreams of what might be (faraway look in his eyes)). On the other hand, doing the available crosswords could be said to be more KC than watching TV, and the principle of doing the best you can even if you fall short of the ideal is firmly stated in the Bhagavad-Gita

Anyway, all that was to get to what I really wanted to present today. This can be a quite stimulating little exercise that may have appeal for some of you. Check this out:

MENSA Intelligence Test

Bear in mind that although they have brand recognition, Mensa is not all that exclusive, so don't get puffed up if you end up doing well. (and no Googling) :-)

"Various high-I.Q. organizations have been established over the years. Mensa, the most famous group, is open to one person in 50 -- that is, people in the upper 2 percent of the population (98th percentile). The Top One Percent Society and Intertel have cutoffs at the 99th percentile, and the One-in-a-Thousand and the Triple Nine Societies have cutoffs at the 99.9th percentile..."

Quote from Uncommonly Difficult IQ Tests

(lots more tests there, FYI)

Friday, January 20, 2006


“If the salvation of society depends, in the long run, on the moral and spiritual health of individuals, the subject of contemplation becomes a vastly important one, since contemplation is one of the indications of spiritual maturity. It is closely allied to sanctity. You cannot save the world merely with a system. You cannot have peace without charity. You cannot have social order without saints, mystics, and prophets.”

From A Thomas Merton Reader edited by Thomas P. McDonnell. Image Books,
A Division of Doubleday @ Company, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1974 Page 375

Therefore, through devotion, detachment and advancement in spiritual knowledge acquired through concentrated devotional service, one should contemplate that Supersoul is present in this very body although simultaneously apart from it.

SB 3.26.72

Thursday, January 19, 2006



I reached for gold
in clear water,
and shattered sunshine
into a thousand pieces.

Left with a broken shell
and a dripping sleeve,
I watched a cloud sweep
away bits of light.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Running to Shelter

Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that during the rainy season bulbs and roots are very tender and palatable, and Lord Krsna would eat them along with wild fruits found in the forest. Lord Krsna and His young boyfriends would sit in the hollow of a tree or within a cave and enjoy pastimes while waiting for the rain to stop.

SB 10.20.28

Do you get less wet if you run in the rain?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Little of This, Little of that

Here are some links I had in my queue that I am not going to comment on or juxtapose with anything.

Prove Christ Exists, Judge Orders Priest

Why Are These Frogs Croaking? Massive die-offs in the American tropics are an early warning of the effects of global warming.

Greenland Glacier Races to Ocean

Lehman's Nonelectric Catalogue

Monday, January 16, 2006

Blessed Are The Children

Sometimes Krsna and Balarama would play on Their flutes, sometimes They would throw ropes and stones devised for getting fruits from the trees, sometimes They would throw only stones, and sometimes, Their ankle bells tinkling, They would play football with fruits like bael and amalaki. Sometimes They would cover Themselves with blankets and imitate cows and bulls and fight with one another, roaring loudly, and sometimes They would imitate the voices of the animals. In this way They enjoyed sporting, exactly like two ordinary human children.

SB 10.11.39-40

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Krsna and the Cows

"Just see! When Krsna dresses Himself in forest array and calls the cows' names by blowing on His flute, even the trees and creepers become so ecstatic out of love that their limbs display eruptions and their sap pours down like a torrent of tears.

SB 10.35 Summary

Friday, January 13, 2006

Green Ham and Eggs

Taiwan Breeds Green-glowing Pigs (complete article)

"They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through.

The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo.

The researchers hope the pigs will boost the island's stem cell research, as well as helping with the study of human disease..."

You may ask yourself what pigs would have to do with human disease. Well, as it turns out, external appearances aside, pigs are the closest genetic match for humans, at least as far as internal organs are concerned. It is why they use pig heart valves as replacements for human heart valves, not monkey valves. Similarities in external shape are less relevant.

It is also a biological basis for why many traditional cultures don't eat pork. The species barrier to disease is so easily crossed. Which makes pigs dangerous to eat, but a good candidate for using as a surrogate for studying human disease.

Personally, I find the whole idea of artificially created glow in the dark pigs creepy. My first reaction on reading about these transgenic pigs was it must be a hoax, but it does seem to be real.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jesus versus Satan

Jesus and Satan were having an ongoing argument about who was better on his computer. They had been going at it for days, and God was tired of hearing all of the bickering. Finally God said, "Cool it. I am going to set up a test that will run two hours and I will judge who does the better job."

So down Satan and Jesus sat at the keyboards and typed away. They moused. They did spreadsheets. They wrote reports. They sent faxes. They sent e-mail. They sent out e-mail with attachments. They downloaded. They did some genealogy reports. They made cards. They did every known job.

About ten minutes before their time was up, lightning flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, the rain poured, and, of course, the electricity went off. Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld. Jesus just sighed. The electricity finally flickered back on, and each of them rebooted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming "It's gone! It's all gone! I lost everything when the power went out!"

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours. Satan observed this and became very irate: "Wait! He must have cheated. How did he do that?"

God shrugged and said, "Jesus saves."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hearing, Chanting, Remembering

There is more to hearing than the physical act itself in the context of the nine processes of devotional service. For example, reading sastra may be considered hearing. A deaf person may "hear" thru closed captioning or sign language. The idea of receiving information is the key element. Still, a very convenient way to hear is thru the physical ears.

In the modern age, physical hearing has moved beyond the oral methods of parent to child, teacher to student, or story telling that are so honored in tradition. These methods have been leveraged out, or even replaced, by technology. ISKCON and its offshoots have embraced these new technologies. There were the reel to reel recordings, the tape cassette, the CD, the DVD, then the MP3 players and currently the iPod and its imitators which play a wide variety of digital formats. Lectures, devotional music, and podcasts are now routinely available on devotee websites for download, and even initial recordings of classes and kirtans are being done with the iPod as the recording device.

I am certainly not going to go Luddite about all this (Queen Kunti never listened to an iPod), but there is at least one down side iPod users should be aware of:

'Ear bud' headphones can cause hearing loss, experts warn (complete article)

" "We're seeing the kind of hearing loss in younger people that's typically found in aging adults,'' said Dean Garstecki, an audiologist and professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

The big culprits aren't the devices themselves, but the tiny "ear bud'' style headphones that the music players use. "Unfortunately, the earbuds are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the muff-type earphones that were used on Walkman and portable CD players,'' Garstecki said..."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I hear they think we came from the sea,
slowly, crawling out past tidal pools
and beaches, taking ten thousand years
to cross a single grain of sand.

But what if we were thrown from the sea,
driven ashore by an impatient god,
working quickly so he could return
to meditations in a lotus flower.

What if in the moments it took
to leave the narrow strand
we learned to sense and turned,
looking back at our own footprints.

Then, gazing past the sands,
we saw foam on a cresting wave,
and thought how it looked
like a galloping white stallion.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Good to the Last Dropping

"On coffee plantations, palm civets dine heavily on coffee cherries. However, they are not pests because palm civets digest only the outer pulp of fruit, passing the coffee beans unharmed through their digestive systems. And because palm civets repeatedly deposit their droppings in piles at the same spots, the coffee beans are easily collected...Recently, kopi luwak hit American shores, not surprisingly in California. Imported from a dealer in Europe by M.P. Mountanous in San Francisco, unroasted kopi luwak beans sell for $110 a pound. Roasted, a pound of the beans goes for $175 (!) at a Mendocino gourmet coffee shop..."

Complete coffee article

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cow Escapes Meat Plant, Dodges SUV, Train

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) -- A cow that escaped a slaughterhouse dodged vehicles, ran in front of a train, braved the icy Missouri River and took three tranquilizer darts before being recaptured six hours later. News of the heifer's adventures prompted a number of people to offer to buy the animal.

The black, 1,200 pound heifer jumped a gate at the packing plant at around 5 a.m. Thursday and apparently wandered through residential areas. Police received reports at about 9:30 a.m. that it was in the middle of a busy intersection. Police tried to catch the cow, and had her wedged between a stock trailer and a fence, but the heifer barreled through the fence toward the river, nearly being hit by a Chevrolet Suburban.

It was the first of many near-death experiences.

With the police in pursuit, the cow ran toward the railroad tracks and darted in front of an oncoming locomotive, briefly giving the police the slip again. Crossing another road, the cow was nearly struck by a semi tractor-trailer. "By then it was a madhouse," said police officer Corey Reeves. "People were coming out of the woodwork to see."

When police, animal control officers and slaughterhouse workers surrounded the cow in a park near the Missouri River, the cow jumped into the icy water. As she swam to the west bank of the river, Reeves said she sank lower in the water and was being swept downstream. But the cow found a sandbar near the river's west bank and walked to shore.

"I was totally amazed she was able to swim the river," said Del Morris, the slaughterhouse manager.

As police scrambled to head off the cow on the other side of the river, a veterinarian with a tranquilizer gun was called. Pursuers again believed they had the cow cornered at a chain link fence, but the heifer ran through a perimeter set up by officials. The chase began to slow as the cow ran up against several strong fences. Dr. Jennifer Evans of Big Sky Medical Center shot the cow with a tranquilizer dart.

It had little effect. Two darts later, the heifer showed no signs of going down. Slaughterhouse workers created a makeshift pen with metal panels that led to a stock trailer. The heifer walked into the trailer at 11:45 a.m.

The cow was taken back to the slaughterhouse, where it was put in a pen - with a stronger fence - and given food and water.

(Article Link)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Midwinter Days

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

Bg 2.14

Friday, January 06, 2006


"In western Christian tradition, January 6 is celebrated as Epiphany... The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal." In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King..."

The Season of Epiphany (Link to Complete Article)

The wise men who came are also known as the Magi, and paintings of the event form a little sub genre of Nativity paintings called The Adoration of the Magi. This is a pivotal event for those with faith in a physical Jesus. Even allegorically, it is significant. I am not going to get into all that though. I think that Jesus being born in a manger has much more significance. I think the main point is how auspicious it was to be born in the presence of cows.

I remember when Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Candra moved into Their new home a couple of decades ago. There was an elaborate ceremony performed by the celebrity priest in ISKCON at the time, based on ancient traditions Quite detail oriented with fire sacrifices and lists of paraphernalia and unfolding events. The climax was when the Deities had moved into the new temple, and it was the first time the doors to the altar were to be opened. The idea was that there would be a sequence of special items that would enter the main door and make a circuit in front of RVC so the first things they saw were auspicious. All the devotees were in the wings of the temple room, leaving the central area open. As I had been the logistical support liaison for the priest, I was hovering around the edges prepared to do the needful.

Ambarish went in first, leading a cow. Pitambar was standing there with a calf, waiting to go in second. Suddenly Kirtanananda turned to me and said "You lead the calf in". Perhaps he was concerned the calf would bolt in the unfamiliar circumstances and knew I had enough experience to keep it calm, or, if not, the physical strength to channel the calf's energy. As it was too late to discuss the matter, I took the halter rope and followed Ambarish at the appropriate interval. Later, I felt a little guilty about it, because this may have been a disappointment for Pitambar, and maybe it was Kirtanananda's misogyny that prompted him to make the last second change. In any case, she had been willing, and I am sure Krishna knows she was, and He will remember.

Point being, that the first things RVC saw were a cow, and then a calf. Before Jesus saw the wise men he saw a cow.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Twelfth Day of Christmas

Growing up, we celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday. We didn't put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve, put the presents under the tree, then had a family dinner and a short program. My mother would play the piano, my father would read the Christmas story from Luke, and all the kids would do something, usually something from a church or school program. Then we would open the presents. All on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day was a church day, and a large family gathering at my Grandpa's. The present giving thing didn't have a place, that was over. We would leave our tree up the whole 12 days of Christmas, taking it down on Epiphany. It wasn't one day of blow out consumerism and then it's over, as it seems to be so common these days. Anyway, I wanted to do the whole 12 days in my blog, so regular readers would get a sense of what the actual observance is supposed to be.

Lately, my wife has been growing a Norfolk Island Pine in a container for our Christmas tree. She puts it out in the summer, and brings it inside for the winter as it is tropical and tender. When it starts brushing the ceiling, we cut back the tallest stem and a lower one grows in.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Go Bananas! All That and the Fruit Tastes Good

In his commentary on this occasion, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura quotes from the Hari-bhakti-vilasa. Barley powder, wheat powder, vermilion powder, urad dhal powder and another powder preparation called avata (made by mixing banana powder and ground rice) are applied to the Deity's body with a brush made from the hair at the end of a cow's tail. This produces a nice finish. The oil smeared over the body of the Deity should be scented. To perform the maha-snana, at least two and a half manas (about twenty-four gallons) of water are needed to pour over the body of the Deity.

Madhya 4.62

As soon as Sri Ranga Puri recalled Navadvipa, he also recalled accompanying Sri Madhavendra Puri to the house of Jagannatha Misra, where Ranga Puri had taken lunch. He even remembered the taste of an unprecedented curry made of banana flowers.

Madhya 9.296

He had cooked fine rice, mixed it with ghee and piled it high on a banana leaf. There were also varieties of vegetables, placed all around in pots made of banana tree bark.

Antya 12.125

Then Svarupa Damodara Gosvami devised another method. First he secured a large quantity of dry banana leaves. He then tore the leaves into very fine fibers with his nails and filled two of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's outer garments with the fibers. In this way, Svarupa Damodara made some bedding and a pillow, and after much endeavor by the devotees, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted them.

Antya 13.17-19

Prabhupada: (chants fire sacrifice mantras) No, no. Everyone take little little. Very little, little take, everyone. Let him come. You come also. You take. Your yajna is not... You can take. (continues mantres) Svaha. Offer. Svaha. Three times. I shall say svaha three times; you'll offer. Why don't you... Svaha. Why you are sitting? Take and offer. You keep in hand and three times in three division you'll offer. Everyone take. Nama om visnu-padaya... (continues) Now take each one banana.

Talk, Initiation Lecture, and Ten Offenses Lecture -- Los Angeles, December 1, 1968

Health Benefits of Bananas (Link to Complete Article)

"A banana can help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must for our daily diet... A banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around..."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Evolutionists May Be Expanding Horizons

Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa? (link to complete article)

"Two archaeologists are challenging what many experts consider to be the basic assumption of human migration—that humankind arose in Africa and spread over the globe from there. The pair proposes an alternative explanation for human origins: arising in and spreading out of Asia...

They believe that early-human fossil discoveries over the past ten years suggest very different conclusions about where humans, or humanlike beings, first walked the Earth...
The earliest evidence of a human ancestor in Asia appears to be the 1.8-million-year-old cranium found in Mojokerto, Indonesia. But, the authors note, the fact that no older specimens have been found in Asia does not prove that they didn't exist..."
(end quotes from article)

"Prabhupada: But evolution we accept. Evolution we accept but it is not that there was no existence of human being. That we do not accept. Evolution we accept. Just like my childhood manifestation is extinct but there are many other child. Same time. So our point is all the species of life, they are existing simultaneously. Evolution there is, we accept that but it is not that one is missing, one has gone away, and another is come, ten million, thirty millions there was no human being. This is all nonsense. He cannot find in the layer, that is not evidence."

Philosophy Discussions with Syamasundara dasa: Charles Darwin

"So He knows everything because He is perfect. But I do not know. Although it is by my energy this body is produced. I do not know how these veins are created, how these bones are created. I do not know. Therefore I am not God. I do not know... I say "my body," but actually this body has developed, me, as spirit soul, but I do not know how many hairs are there on my head and how it is growing. But He knows. That is a characteristic of the Absolute Truth. He must be knowing everything, and that is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita. Vedaham samatitani: "I know everything in the past. I know what will happen in the future. I know everything." That is God."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.22 -- Indore, December 13, 1970

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy Birthday

i thank you God for most this amazing... (65)

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

(e.e. cummings)

Speaking of birthdays, I have two sons who have birthdays during the 12 days of Christmas. Tulasi has his today, and my oldest son, Madhu, had his on December 28th. Madhu is a policeman in Atlanta, Tulasi is a freshman at West Virginia University. Madhu has a 5 year old daughter.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy Arbitrary New Year

At our New Year's Eve party we got onto the topic why Jan. 1st Christian Era is the New Year in the Western part of the world. My personal speculation, unsupported by any evidence or historical research, is that it is around the Winter Solstice time. If you live really far North, the difference in day length is more pronounced, but as you go farther South, where these determinations of the Holidays were made, the change is day length is more subtle, slower to notice.

I think the real scholars with a sense of history and astronomy, were able to pinpoint the shortest day of the year pretty closely, even before atomic clocks and all the electrically driven devices we now have. The average isolated village in olden days though, probably were more likely to have depended on sense perception to tell when the days were getting longer. The 25th of December is about when a good observer would have been able to know for sure the days were longer. Which would be why the Saturnalia and Christmas were celebrated then , "Whew, the Sun is coming back, we have avoided total destruction for another year, let's give thanks."

For the more dimly aware, perhaps because of sleeping late due to overindulgence, probably weren't able to tell the difference until about January 1st, and responded in their usual manner, "Whoo hooo, we shall live another year, let's get hammered and celebrate."

All of which still begs the question of why the New Year is celebrated more or less at the Solstice time. In China for instance, it is more like late February, or thereabouts, when the new life of spring is stirring. I believe Rosh Hasannah is the Jewish New Year which is like in September, around the fall Equinox. Even in the traditions that use the name Krishna for God, the New Year is considered to be at other times. I think that the Hindu New Year is Holi, which could be consider the harvest festival time, the end of the growing season and the beginning of anticipation for the next. For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, it is Lord Chaitanya's Appearance day, though in practice, no one really observes or thinks of it as such, as far as I can tell. That is around the Spring Equinox.

So I guess you can pretty much take your pick :-) (All opinions expressed in this post are poorly researched and subject to error.)