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Universe is Built Out of Four Natural Elements

A 15th-century illustration of Christ surrounded by the four natural elements

Empedocles introduced the theory that the universe is built out of four natural elements.

In his poem On Nature (c. 450 BCE), Greek poet Empedocles (c. 490-430 BCE) called upon a set of gods to represent the elements of his own cosmology. The notion that everything in existence is composed of earth, air, fire, and water, or a combination of these four elements, was borrowed from the ancient Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish (c. 1800 BCE), in which the universe emerges from conflicts between gods, each of whom represent some element or force of nature.

Empedocles was seeking what is now often referred to as a “unified field theory,” a theory capable of providing the groundwork for the explanation of any given natural phenomenon. The strategy he inherited from his intellectual predecessors, such as Thales and Anaximenes (who were themselves influenced by the Babylonian myth), was to attempt to identify the most basic ingredient, or ingredients, of the universe.

In the late sixth century BCE, Thales had believed that ingredient to be water. Later, Anaximenes argued that water was too fundamentally different from certain natural phenomena (like fire) for it to be the basic ingredient of the universe. Instead, he proposed that air was the basic ingredient. Empedocles, however, saw no way to explain the vast array of natural phenomena without introducing a total of four basic ingredients: earth, air, fire, and water. These elements were what Empedocles referred to as “the four roots.”

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) added a fifth element, aether. Medieval scholars learned of Empedocles’s notion of the four elements via Aristotle, and Empedocles’s cosmological theory dominated science until the seventeenth century. Although forms of atomism emerged as early as the fifth century BCE, it was not until the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Robert Boyle (1627-91) gained a hold that the four elements were replaced by the atom (or something pretty close) as the foundation of the universe.

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The Grandeur of the Elephant Stables at Hampi, Capital of the Mighty Vijayanagara Empire

The Grandeur of the Elephant Stables at Hampi, Capital of the Mighty Vijayanagara Empire

The elephant stables are an imposing structure in an immense open space at Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. True to its identity, every single fragment of the structure is colossal, like the Jumbo elephant itself.

Like many of the buildings in Hampi, the elephant stables show evidence of Indo-Islamic motifs while cut plaster decorations and arches are in the Deccani Islamic style.

At the side of the Lotus Mahal is a row of eight high domes of the elephant stables that shows early Indo-Islamic architectural influences, and gives you an idea of the importance accorded both to ceremonial as well as battle elephants.

Impressive Domes of the Hampi Elephant Stables

Impressive Domes of the Hampi Elephant Stables

Essentially, the elephant stables structure is an oblong construction running to 85 meters from south to north and its depth is 9 meters. There are eleven compartments or rooms, five on each side with one in the center. All the cells are of identical measurement, each side measuring 6 meters. The middle cell has a stairway leading to the rooftop of the building, which has ten domes of different shapes; the middle cell has a double storied pillared pavilion, which is partially destroyed. The impressive domes display Islamic architectural types and add a distinguished and colossal look to the structure. There is a variation in these domes. Some are rounded; some have twelve angles, while yet others have sixty-two flutings.

The cells have tall arched openings to the west whereas there are small accesses at the east. Some of these cells are interconnected also. The cells have thick and strong walls. At the roof level, wood was implanted which perhaps contained iron rings or hooks so that the elephants could be shackled. The arched entrances and flat domes are of Bahamani style and it is hard to explain why the Vijayanagara kings used Islamic architectural features for this building.

Even though the native belief connects this building with elephants, some scholars question its exact suggestion. But historical contexts do not subsist in themselves; they must be defined, and in that sense constructed, by the historian afore the explanatory work of engendering explanation, and of interpreting the past. Vijayanagara army had several elephants but this building is meant to accommodate only eleven elephants. Perhaps these were imperial elephants. King Deva Raya II was a great lover of elephants. It is possible that these stables were built during his period.

Elephant Stables and Vijayanagara King Devaraya II

Elephant Stables and Vijayanagara King Deva Raya II

Vijayanagara empire’s historians have long grappled with the undertaking of construing chronicles that, even though written in the past tense, are nevertheless demanding, if not unfeasible to resolve with each other or indeed, the modern historical sense of there having been a singular past. Reigned over by four consecutive dynasties of kings, the Vijayanagara institution transformed itself from a small regional kingdom to the foremost political and military power in southern India within the period of about two hundred years. The power and grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire reached during the sovereignty of Deva Raya II (1422–46) reached its pinnacle under the able and powerful tenure of Krishnadeva Raya (1505–29). There was a resurgence of art and architecture on an unprecedented scale during his reign. Vijayanagara was undoubtedly a name to conjure within the lands south of the mighty Tungabhadra river.

Many contemporaneous foreign essayists of the period have given eloquent testament to the elephants of the Vijayanagara period. Abdul Razzak (the prominent Persian ambassador who visited in 1443 and wrote about the extraordinary wealth of Vijayanagara) states that Deva Raya II had more than one thousand elephants grand as hills and colossal as demons. Deva Raya II took on many designations associated with elephants and even circulated gold coins with elephant on the obverse.

From all these specifics, it can be construed that elephants played a major role during the Vijayanagara period not only in military conflicts but also in festivals and religious pageants of royals in the same way as Dasara in Mysore. These stables signify the military might of the Vijayanagara Empire.

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Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #11: Thomas

Apostle #11 Thomas

The holy apostle Thomas is perhaps best remembered as “Doubting Thomas”—the apostle who, when told of the emergence of the risen Christ, declared, “I will never believe it unless I see the holes the nails made in his hands, put my finger on the nail-marks and my hand into his side” (John 20:25.)

Thomas’ reaction was definitely practical; perhaps the others overcome with grief were deluding themselves. He had witnessed the tragic death of his beloved master; how was he now to believe that Jesus was alive? Thomas wanted the same astonishing experience as the rest; he wanted proof. When Jesus did appear to him, and Thomas saw the same tortured body that had suffered on the cross, he was overpowered, and cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Thus, Thomas was one of the first to explicitly express Jesus’ divinity.

Apostle Thomas in India Yet Thomas was not only clearheaded, but also brave. During the winter, Jesus was forced out of Jerusalem for his teachings. Now, Jesus and his apostles were aware that if he returned, he and perhaps they would be killed. (John 11:8) Then a few months later word came that Jesus’ great friend Lazarus was gravely ill. The message spoke of illness, but Jesus knew that by the time the news arrived, Lazarus was already dead. Yet Jesus prepared to go to his friend in Bethany, some two miles from the city of Jerusalem, regardless of the risk to himself. Alarmed, the apostles argued against it; why go, they reasoned, if Lazarus was dead? It was Thomas who rallied the others, insisting, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16) Here Thomas is not a man of doubt, but of great courage and loyalty.

Several Apocryphal works have circulated under Thomas’ name. The Apocryphal works of Thomas: Acts of Thomas, Apocalypse of Thomas, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Book of Thomas, and the Gospel of Thomas. There is much written about his fearless evangelical work and more speculation about his extensive missionary travels than any other of the Twelve. The church of the East and Assyria trace the succession of its bishops back to Thomas.

Apostle Thomas in India

Western India claims him as the founder of the early Christian church. The Acts of Thomas opens with a gathering of the apostles in Jerusalem. They are dividing the world by lot to evangelize. When Thomas receives India, he objects on the ground of his ethnicity: “How can I,” he protests, “as a Hebrew man, go among the Indians to announce the truth?” As a follower of Jesus in India, he is a minority of one, not just linguistically, but spiritually too. Eventually, his goal is to bring that huge majority of unbelieving Indians over to his side, to transform isolation into predominance, into a network to which all can belong. According to tradition, Saint Thomas was supposedly killed at St. Thomas Mount, near Chennai, in 72 A.D. and his body was entombed in Mylapore. Ephraim the Syrian states that the Apostle was martyred in India, and that his relics were removed then to Ede.

  • His symbol is a T-square.
  • Holy days: October 6 in the Eastern churches; July 3 in the West.
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Exquisite Architectural Temples and Heritage of Pattadakal, Karnataka

Chalukyan Architects Made Experiments with Various Styles of Architecture

Types of Temple Architecture in Pattadakal Pattadakal was a city bubbling with political and artistic activities throughout the time of the Western Chalukyas of Badami more than eleven centuries ago. Situated on the left bank of the river Malaprabha and contained by hillocks of red sandstone amidst scenic splendor, this location became sacrosanct and it was the sincere choice of the kings to carry out the numerous coronation (patta) ceremonies and hence it came to be called Pattadakal. It is also called Kisuvolalu and Sanskritised as Raktapura.

Group of Dravida and Nagara Temples Pattadakal

Along with Aihole and Badami, Pattadakal became a cradle of early Chalukyan temples. It is generally believed that the Chalukyan architects made experiments with various styles of architecture even before the silpashastras standardized them. Hence, scholars are fond of calling these places as workshops of architecture.

In point of fact, Pattadakal represents the final or culminating phase of the early Chalukyan style of architecture. There are no less than twelve worthy temples of the Chalukyan period at Pattadakal.

World Heritage Site -- Group of Temples, Pattadakal

Exquisite Temples and Get a Glimpse of Our Heritage Both Dravida and Nagara type of temples were built at Pattadakal during the reign of the early Chalukyan kings. Sangamesvara, Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna and Jaina temples belong to the Dravidian technique, whereas Galaganatha, Papanatha, Kasi Visvesvara, Kadasiddesvara and Jambulinga temples belong to Nagara or north Indian style.

From the sequential standpoint, the temple building- pursuit as known from the dated specimens started here from the beginning of the seventh century and sustained up until the middle of the ninth century CE.

Thus, three hundred years and more saw a splendid epoch in the evolution of temple architecture in Karnataka in general and Pattadakal in particular.

Early Chalukyan Temples in Pattadakal

Workshops of Temple Architecture in Pattadakal There were master architects like Revadi Ovajja, Anivarita Gunda, supported by sculptors like Changamma, Pullappan, Baladeva, et cetera. It also had the guidance of dance masters like Achalan and devadasis like Chalabbe. More than all, the early Chalukya kings, their queens like Lokamahadevi and Trailokyamahadevi and others, officials and ministers not only helped in building some of these Pattadakal temples but also gave generous grants of land and money for the fitting maintenance as well as the rituals in these temples.

It is but natural that hundreds of visitors both from India and abroad visit these exquisite temples and get a glimpse of our heritage. Hence, UNESCO has declared Pattadakal as a World Heritage site, a great honor indeed to Karnataka.

Silpashastra in Chalukyan Temples in Pattadakal

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Renaissance Icon Painter El Greco and The Light

Self Portrait of Greek-Spanish El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Born around 1541, Domenikos Theotokopoulos began his career as an icon painter on the island of Crete. He is best known, under the name El Greco, for the works he created while in Spain, paintings that have provoked both rapt admiration and scornful disapproval since his death in 1614.

The life of the Renaissance painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco. El Greco took this style to extremes, creating luminous paintings of great intensity. By turns considered a prescient precursor of modern art or simply a man with bad eyesight, El Greco’s work embodied the exalted spirit of the Counter-Reformation in its zeal to annihilate all traces of Protestantism.

El Greco’s candid portraits have been consistently admired for their naturalism and psychological insight, even when (as in the eighteenth century) his other works fell out of favor.

Renaissance Painter El Greco took this style to extremes, creating luminous paintings of great intensity

Creating Luminous Paintings: El Greco and the Light

On a pleasant spring afternoon, a friend went to visit the painter El Greco. To his surprise, he found him in his atelier with all curtains drawn.

Greco was working on a painting which had the Virgin Mary as the central theme, using only a candle to illuminate the environment.

Surprised, the friend said: “I have always heard that painters like the sun in order to choose well the colors they will use. Why don’t you open the curtains?”

“Not now,” answered El Greco. “It would disturb the brilliant fire of inspiration that is burning in my soul and filling with light everything around me.”

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Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi, Gerusoppa in Karnataka

Gerusoppa, Home to Several Basadis (Jain Temples)

Gerusoppa, Home to Several Basadis (Jain Temples)

The municipality of Gerusoppa is located about 30 kms from the well-known Gerusoppa Falls on the banks of Sharavathi river in Honnavar taluk .

Gerusoppa is 25 km from the outlet of Jog Falls—a long time ago functioned as the capital of the Salva empire that reigned over the region between 14th and 15th centuries. Acknowledged to have trade interactions with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the empire reached its pinnacle under the supremacy of Rani Chennabhairadevi. She governed over contemporary Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Uttara Kannada for 54 years: the lengthiest reign by any Indian woman head of state.

Vijayanagara architecture in Jain basadis of Western Ghats Though it was the capital of the Saluva empire, it became famous for the duration of the rule of Queen Channabhairadevi (1548–99 A.D.) famous as the Pepper Queen. (After the fall of the Vijayanagara empire, Queen Chennabhairadevi handled the Portuguese very diplomatically, who nicknamed her ‘Raina de Pimenta’—the Pepper Queen.) Ikkeri chief Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka defeated the queen and Gerusoppa was abandoned and came to ruins.

Frequently suggested to as the ‘Harappa of Jains’, Gerusoppa is institution to several basadis (Jain temples) with exclusive architecture, hundreds of inscriptions, groups of temples and structures that were all in the past part of an overseas trade hub. Currently, unfortunately, most of them have either been hidden under centuries of earth or endured as ruins, absorbed by the dense forests of the Western Ghats.

Queen Channabhairadevi, Queen of Black Pepper - Benefactor of Jain Temples Basadis in Gerusoppa

Queen Channabhairadevi or ‘Mahamandaleshwari’, Queen of Black Pepper

The history of Jainism in South India and its influence on the life and thought of the people is a fascinating subject. No topic of ancient South Indian history is more thought-provoking than the origin and development of the Jains who, in times past, intensely affected the political, religious and literary establishments of South India. It has occasionally been thought that an associated account of the Jains could not ever be written.

Rani Channabhairadevi Chaturmukha Basadi of Gerusoppa Situated deep inside the evergreen Sharavathi valley on the stores of the Sharavathi river, neither the sanctuaries nor the antique town can be accessed without difficulty. While Jain believers crowd the place in large numbers using private vehicles, the villages are more or less off limits to tourists due to an absence of publicity and information.

Previously known as Haive, Gerusoppa was afterwards named Nagar Bastikeri and subsequently Ngaire. Formerly a famous center of trade and commerce, Gerusoppa was ruled by the Saluva kings. While Honnavar functioned as a harbor for internal trade, nearby Bhatkal was celebrated as an intercontinental harbor.

The Saluva kingdom reached its zenith under the regime of Rani Channabhairadevi, who ruled between 1554 and 1603, and hailed as Mahamandaleshwari. Living the followers of Jainism, the queen organized the creation of the historic Chaturmukha Basadi in 1562. With several ship-loads of pepper and spices being methodically traded to the west, Gerusoppa was often the sticking point between numerous princely states. The rulers of Keladi were frequently at war with Gerusoppa for jurisdiction over the expensive province.

Moreover, Channabhairadevi had gone to war with the Portuguese, who attempted to grab the ports and take the reins of the spice trade. Two times, once in 1559 and then again in 1570, the queen efficaciously crushed the Portuguese maritime force with her military stratagem.

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi

Chaturmukha Basadi is a Jain temple unique in its plan as it is open on all four sides (chaturmukha). It is also called Sarvatobhadra in silpasatra texts. Such temples are unique.

The Chaturmukha basadi has a garbhagriha, antaralas (vestibule), navarangas and four entrances with flight of steps. The entire temple is built on a cellar which is in the shape of a star and provides open circumbulatory passage. The outer walls have ornamented niches some of which have gods and goddesses. There are some jalandhras also.

The four access doorways are alike and seated tirthankara is carved on the lintel. On either side are found the high relief sculptures of dvarapalas well bedecked and standing in dvibhanga. The devakoshthas with Dravida and Kadamba Nagara sikharas contain sculptures. Now there is no roof over the whole structure.

Chaturmukha Basadi of Gerusoppa was built by Rani Chennabhairadevi The interior of the Chaturmukha Basadi has navarangas with four prominent pillars in the centre of the enclosure. Thus the sixteen pillars of the Vijayanagara type measure about 10 ft in height. Navaranga is separated by the antarala with a very thick wall. They also have decorated niches to house gods and goddesses.

The three lintels of the doorways have seated tirthankaras although the southern doorway has Gajalakshmi on its lintel. Then there are four antaralas each of which has two decorated pillars. Thus there are eight such pillars.

The sole garbhagriha has four seated tirthankaras each facing a different direction. This gives a meaning to the structure fronting four directions. These four tirthankara sculptures are made of black stone and have high glossy polish.

There are no historical chronicles to know the patron of this exclusive Jain temple. But it is commonly judged that Queen Channabhairadevi built this temple. Even the contemporaneous explorer Pietro Della Valle is silent about it. From the stylistic substantiation this temple may be dated to sixteenth century A.D.

Acclaimed as an architectural marvel, Chaturmukha Basadi was built by Rani Chennabhairadevi back in 1562. Constructed in granite, the Basadi has remained out-of-bounds to sightseers. Constructed in the Vijayanagara style, the basadi has four entrances, one in each of the four compass points, all fronting to the sanctum sanctorum. Though no official prayer rituals are done at the Chaturmukha basadi, the Parshawanatha basadi, or the Neminatha basadi, recurrent prayers and pooja services are organized at the close by Jwalamalini temple.

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Gettysburg Address: A Reaffirmation of a Founding Principle of the United States

A painting of Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg Address by J. L. G. Ferris (c. 1900) Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address wass a reaffirmation of a founding principle of the United States: that all humans are born equal.

The Battle of Gettysburg took place during July 1–3, 1863, and resulted in the retreat of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from its incursion into Union territory. On November 19, months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) attended a ceremony dedicating a national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield site. The Gettysburg Address is the speech he gave to the assembled crowd at the ceremony, and it is widely celebrated as one of the most important and influential political speeches in the history of the United States. Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address,

… wehere highly resolve that these dead shall not havedied in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for thepeople, shall not perish from the earth.

When President Lincoln delivered his address, he was second on the bill to Edward Everett (1794–1865), a famed orator who gave a two-hour-long speech to the assembled crowd. Lincoln’s speech was incomparably shorter, lasting no longer than two to three minutes, and encompassing about 250 words. Yet in that speech, the president reflected the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence (1776), the founding document of the American nation. His simple, eloquent expression of the notion that the nation was founded for equality, and for the good of all people, not once referred to slavery, the Confederacy, the Union, or any of the political issues of the day.

It is unclear what the reaction to Lincoln’s speech was at the time, after less than two years after giving it the president was dead and the civil war over. However, the impact of the Gettysburg Address lived on as a model of political rhetoric, oratorical simplicity, and political ideology. The speech turned the nation’s political attention toward the unifying ideal that all people are born equal—an ideal that is almost universally assumed today.

The Gettysburg Address is credited as being largely responsible for the introduction of that ideal into U.S. political discourse, and it remains an important political reference point today.

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Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #7: Bartholomew

The Apostle Bartholomew by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn After Philip was chosen by Jesus, he sought out his close friend Bartholomew and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about … and of whom the Prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” But Bartholomew said, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see,” Philip answered. When Jesus saw Bartholomew approaching, he observed, “This man is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” “How do you know me?” Bartholomew asked, and Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Bartholomew declared, “Master, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John I: 44–51)

Bartholomew is described in The Apostolic History of Abdias (Bishop of Babylonia ordained by the apostles) as a man of middle height with long curly black hair, large eyes, straight nose, and a thick beard. Always cheerful, he had a voice like a trumpet, and knew all languages. Twenty-six years he wore the same white robe with a purple stripe, and a white cloak; yet the garments never tattered or soiled.

Bartholomew’s ministry belongs to the tradition of the Eastern churches. He traveled to Asia Minor (Turkey), perhaps in the company of Philip, where he labored in Hierapolis. In the region the ancients referred to as India (The term ‘India’ was used indiscriminately to refer to Arabia, Ethiopia, Libya, Parthia, and the Medes.) it is said that “Bartholomew, one of the Apostles” left behind the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew.

Apostle Bartholomew: The Patron Saint of Dermatology

Apostle Bartholomew and the Question of Nathanael’s Identity

In his long life Bartholomew performed many wonderful feats, including the healing of the sick. With the aid of an angel, he banished from a false idol a demon-described as “sharp-faced, with a long beard, hair to its feet, fiery eyes, breath of flames, and spiky wings.” An Apocryphal Gospel of Bartholomew remains to this day.

Apostle Bartholomew synonymous with Nathanael of Galilee The discrepancy between the synoptic material and the Johannine material has been the cause of much speculation over the centuries. The question of Nathanael’s identity has led many to explore further the identity of Bartholomew. Whenever Bartholomew’s name is revealed in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-16, and Luke 6:12-16), he is also declared as being in the company of Philip.

  • The Armenian Church claims the holy apostle Bartholomew as their founder. In art he is often depicted beside a chained demon; his symbol is a knife blade.
  • Holy days of Apostle Bartholomew: in the East, June 11; in the West, August 24.
  • Apostle Bartholomew is also known as Nathanael. He is mentioned as Bartholomew, one of “the Twelve” in Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; and Acts 1:13. There is no further mention in the New Testament. However, John I:45 refers to him as Nathanael, which has led theologians to believe that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person.

Apocryphal Gospel of Saint Bartholomew

Apostle Bartholomew: The Patron Saint of Dermatology

Bartholomew has long been associated with skin diseases and may be considered the patron saint of dermatology. This characteristic is attributed to one theory concerning his proposed manner of death. When Bartholomew cured the daughter of King Polymios of Armenia, the King adapted Christianity. Consequently, Astyages, the King’s brother, condemned St Bartholomew to be whipped and skinned alive, after which he was crucified upturned.

In the Sistine Chapel, Apostle Bartholomew is portrayed in Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” as lashed and holding his own skin in his left hand. In Marco d’Agrate’s sculpture of St Bartholomew, found in the Basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata in Parma, Italy, he is represented carrying his skin round his body similar to a coat or blanket. As a consequence of this ghastly history, he has been renowned as the saint of dermatology. This connotation has also gotten him the label of patron saint of tanning, in which animal skin is detached and processed to produce functional goods.

Apostle Bartholomew: The Patron Saint of Dermatology

Little is known about St Bartholomew’s life, other than that he was born in Galilee in the first century and served as one of Jesus’s 12 apostles. Even his correct name is uncertain, as his name can mean “son of Tolmay” or “son of the furrows.” Per se, he is often thought to be synonymous with Nathanael of Galilee, who was introduced to Jesus through his apostle Philip.

Several other stories of St Bartholomew’s death exist, involving one in which he was abducted, beaten, and cast into the sea to drown. Afterward, his body amazingly washed up at Lipari, a small island off the coast of Sicily. Close by, a large piece of his skin and bones were kept as relics at the Cathedral of St Bartholomew the Apostle. Over time, this church opened a medical facility, and St Bartholomew’s name and relics became associated with medicine and skin disease.

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The Controversial Differences of Opinion between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi

Described as a “world poet,” Rabindranath Tagore is considered a mystifying ecumenical figure and an archetype of human creative possibility. Rabindranath Tagore bestowed the title of ‘Mahatma’ (“Great Soul”) on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1915. Mahatma Gandhi called Tagore Gurudev (“Revered Master”) and he attained a certain classicality. Tagore’s literary works have universal appeal and that illuminates his complexity and “myriad-mindedness.”

Nevertheless, experts have said that although Tagore admired Gandhi, he differed with him on specific issues.

The Controversial Differences of Opinion between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi

“Tagore admired Mahatma Gandhi immensely and expressed his admiration for his leadership time and again, but sharply differed with him when Gandhi was departing from adequate reasoning,” Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen once said.

After the Nepal-Bihar earthquake of 1934, Gandhi credited the disaster to the custom of untouchability among Biharis. Gandhi had said the earthquake was “a divine chastisement for the great sin we have committed against those whom we describe as Harijans”.

Although Tagore was against untouchability, he found this line of reasoning on Gandhi’s part unfounded and irrational.

Apparantly, Tagore shot off a refutation on rationalist lines, with a appeal for it to be published in Gandhi’s periodical, Harijan. The correspondence expressed “painful surprise” at “this kind of unscientific view of things”. It was plainly erroneous, Gurudev argued, to “associate ethical principles with cosmic phenomena”:

In the Harijan issue of 16 February, 1934, Tagore wrote his article The Bihar Earthquake to which Gandhi wrote his rejoinder Superstitions vs. Faith (pp. 115-121). Tagore considered Gandhi’s view that untouchability had brought down God’s vengeance upon certain parts of Bihar in the form of an earthquake as ‘unfortunate’, ‘unscientific’ and “too readily accepted by a large section of countrymen” (pp. 115): “If we associate ethical principles with cosmic phenomena, we shall have to admit that human nature is superior to Providence that preaches its lessons in good in orgies of the worst behaviour possible” (p.116). This amounts to “making indiscriminate examples of casual victims…in order to impress other at a safe distance who possibly deserve severer condemnation” (p 116). He felt the kind of argument that Gandhi used by exploiting an event of cosmic disturbance far better suited the psychology of his opponents than his own; and, “We, who are immensely grateful to Mahatmaji for inducing, by his wonderworking inspiration, freedom from fear and feebleness in the minds of his countrymen, feel profoundly hurt when any words from his mouth may emphasize the elements of unreason in those very minds — unreason which is a source of all blind powers that drive us against freedom and self-respect”. (p117).

Differences of Opinion between Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi

To this, Gandhi had replied that he felt phenomena like droughts, floods, earthquakes et cetera, though they seem to have only physical origins, are somehow connected with man’s morality.

Gandhi replied by saying that he long believed phenomena produce results both physical and spiritual; and, “The converse I hold to be equally true … We do not know all the laws of God nor their working… I believe literally that not a leaf moves but by His will. Every breath I take depends upon His sufferance …. what appears to us as catastrophes are so only because we do not know the universal laws sufficiently … (catastrophic) visitations… though they seem to have only physical origins are, for me, somehow connected with man’s morals … My belief is a call to repentence and self-purification … even as I cannot help believing in God though I am unable to prove His existence to the sceptics, in like manner, I cannot prove the connection of the sin of untouchability with the Bihar visitation even though the connection is instinctively felt by me” (pp.118-l20). And the utilitarian then spoke and bared himself thus, “If my belief turns out to be ill-founded, it will still have done good to me and those who believe with me. For we shall have been spurred to more vigorous efforts towards self-purification…” (p.120). And answering Tagore’s stinging comment that “our own sins and errors, however enormous, have not got enough force to drag down the structure of creation to ruins” (p. 117), he said, “On the contrary I have the faith that our own sins have more force to ruin that structure than any mere physical phenomenon” (p, 120), And he concluded, ” …the connection between cosmic phenomena and human behaviour is a living faith that draws me nearer to my God, humbles me and makes me readier for facing Him”. Gandhi, in arguing thus, is proved one who must maximise utility and make use of every circumstance to forward ends he considers desirable. And his conviction about his belief obliterates from consciousness any apparent factual inconsistencies that his system of faith has with a physical phenomena as ordinarily understood. Both, in their own way, are relevant and unimpeachable.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #6, Philip

Saint Philip the Apostle, Peter Paul Rubens' famous Apostle Series (Prado Museum in Madrid)

The name of holy apostle Philip derives from Greek, signifying “he who loves horses.” He was a resident of Bethsaida.

It seems this gentle man had a distinct relationship with the Greek-speaking Gentiles in the society. When they wanted to meet Jesus, he was contacted first. Distrustful his own assessment in the matter, Philip turned to Andrew, who took him to tell Jesus of the request.

On the occasion of the miracle of the loaves and fishes to test Philip, Jesus enquired him where they would get enough food to feed 5,000. Philip, thinking in pragmatic terms, answered, “Half a year’s wages wouldn’t buy enough bread for everyone to have a bite.” (John 6:7).

In John 14:8–9, Philip invited Jesus to reveal the Father, obtaining the answer, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.” In later legends, he was often mistaken with St. Philip the Evangelist (Philip the Deacon), one of the seven deacons of the primitive church (Acts 6:5)

Philip replied Jesus’ call (“Follow me”), and was involved in the call of St. Nathanael (probably St. Bartholomew the Apostle), whom he brought to Jesus.

St. Philip by Giuseppe Mazzuoli. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome).Apart from these facts, nothing more is identified about the Apostle.

If as a vigorous apostle he lacked confidence, Philip mellowed, becoming an stimulated speaker and healer. After Pentecost, tradition tells that for twenty years he lived and preached in Scythia, and then in Asia Minor at Hierapolis, which in Greek means “Holy City.” His sister Miriam and his four daughters joined him in propagandizing the word of God.

When Philip the apostle went forth from Galilee, a widow was carrying out for burial her only child, who was all she had. Now the apostle was very concerned in his soul when he saw the poor old woman slashing out her hair and mutilating her face. He said to her: “What religion was your son practicing when he died so young?”

Hierapolis Tomb of the apostle Philip, Archive of the Italian Archaeological Mission to HierapolisToday Philip’s tomb can be found within the ruins of the Turkish city of Hierapolis. There, a constructive mineral spring of warm sparkling water pours forth from the rocks, establishing an enormous crystal clear falls that cascades over the side of a mountain, a wonder nearly as large as the Niagara. In Biblical times it was a famed spa, visited by the sick from all over the Near and Middle East. Looking out at the remains of this ancient city, it is easy to imagine Philip carrying out his ministry with his family. Undeniably, legend tells that once the tombs of his daughters, all prophetesses and well-known in the church during the first and early second centuries, could be discovered in Hierapolis as well. In Hierapolis two alphabetic oracles have been found, one, very fragmented, built into the Martyrium of Philip, the other, preserved almost complete, on a former statue pedestal that was reused in the foundation of the temple of Apollo.

  • In medieval art Philip’s symbol when not loaves of bread is a tall cross.
  • Holy days: in the East, November 14; in the West, May 1. May 1 is jointly with James the Younger; later transferred by the Roman Catholic church to May 3. The feast of the Apostle St. Philip, together with that of St. James the Less, was celebrated in the West on May 1 until 1955, when it was transferred to May 11; the Greeks celebrate it on May 14.
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