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– by Saksham Narula
June 13, 2017: Arun Shourie has authored a number of books. His latest book is titled “Two Saints: Speculations Around and About Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharishi”, which was released by the Holiness Dalai Lama.
On 11th June, the discussion on the book was held in Ramakrishna Ashram, Delhi. Mr. Arun Shourie along with Swami Atmapriyananda and Swami Shantatmananda joined the audience in the Sarada Auditorium to discuss the contents and events mentioned in the book.
Mr. Ashok Jain, a regular visitor to the Ashram, was an audience member. He told NewsGram that he had not read the book, however, he was interested in seeing the spiritual side of Mr. Shourie. “I know Arun but I have never seen this side of him”, said Mr. Jain.
The introduction to the event was by Swami Shantatmananda followed by Mr. Shouries’ talk. Mr. Shourie opened with branding himself as an “unemployed Punjabi” who is now questioning the mystical experiences, its components and impacts in view of modern neurology and psychology. The audience laughed at the modesty.
Before the author began describing the contents of his book, he mentioned the insensitivity of the book reviewers in general. In the past, he has been a victim of criticism from reviewers who have not read the book, shared Arun Shourie.
He began with William James’ story. William James was an American Philosopher who began writing in the late 19th-early 20th century. This was also the period when scientific inquiry was stressed upon.
In 1902, William James wrote his masterwork “The Varieties of Religious Experiences”. In the book, James studies the collective accounts of western mystics and their experiences and concludes that these mystic experiences are real. He urged for science to try and comprehend these experiences and give them evidentiary credibility.
This was the background that inspired the author. The last book that Mr. Shourie authored is called “Does He Know a Mother’s Heart: How Suffering Refutes Religion”. This book is about the lessons that he learned while raising his son Aditya who is handicapped and seeing his wife as a victim of Parkinson’s since twenty-five years.
These circumstances led him to question the explanations of suffering. He talks about the old historic problem- Either God is not powerful to prevent evil, or he is powerful but does not want to. The question is old but there is no absolute answer for it.
Then Mr. Shourie “turned” to Upanishads, Vedas, and the Gita for answers. He further read the Quran and the Old Testament but the answers were still not satisfactory.
The author continued, “I had no option but to turn to the three people I have revered most- Swami Ramakrishna, Swami Ramana Maharishi and Mahatma Gandhi”. He wanted to investigate what they had to say about the questions that troubled him.
He does not state whether the answers satisfy him, but he definitely feels satisfied with the way they approach the questions. A devotee of Gandhiji, Mr. Shourie agreed that the answers given by the Mahatma may not be right in the absolute sense but they are so pure that the listener has no alternative but to arrive at those answers.
“Their words have a ring of truth… They have attained the highest states”, said Mr. Shourie.
He continued that Bengal in the 19th century was crawling towards the western civilization. The western culture was so strongly influencing the Bengal region that they almost became strangers to their own culture. They viewed their culture as primordial baggage that should be left off and not carried further. However, it was the goodness of men like Gandhi and Swami Ramakrishna that prevented things from turning on their heads.
The book title has the word ‘speculations’, clarified Mr. Shourie, for which he thanked his editor for rightly keeping it that way. The book or author himself have no conclusions to make.
Furthermore, he tried to extract the most authentic mystical experiences that Swami Ramakrishna and Swami Ramana Maharishi had experienced more than 200 years ago and scrutinize them under neuroscience. He wanted to see what neuroscience would say if it chanced upon such experiences.
“What would neuroscientists say if they chanced upon Swami Ramakrishna? In his 12 years of continuous sadhana, he would experience a man coming out of his body and sitting in front of him, guiding him, and then disappearing when it was all over. How can neuroscience explain this?” asked Mr. Shourie.
Consequently, he also wanted to investigate if these peripheral experiences are circumstantial or could be invoked through brain surgery or laboratory. From the neuroscientific viewpoint, Shourie concludes it is too premature to say anything or even accept or reject anything.
However, the devotee does say that Swami Ramakrishna and Swami Ramana Maharishi were plain and simple. Their miracle was goodness and simplicity. “The standards they have set are extremely high to match up to”.
Shourie also takes a dig at the present day God-men of the country. “Can we hold today’s gurus who travel in Rolls Royce and have multiple ‘Shri’ in the prefix to their name to the same standards as set by Swami Ramakrishna or Swami Ramana?”
After Mr. Shourie, Swami Atmapriyananda opinionated on the book or rather the underlying philosophy of the book- science and spirituality. Swami Atmapriyananda is the Vice-Chancellor of Ramakrishna Mission, Vivekananda University. He is a “graduate in particle physics who turned to metaphysics”. The audience laughed at that smart wordplay used by Swami.
As a lover of science as well as spirituality, Swami Atmapriyananda explained that the answers we seek are not new. Humans since time memorial have asked these questions but none could come up with an answer. “We do not know anything about anything!” said Swami.
However, Swami Atmapriyananda agreed that it is right for science to ask questions about spirituality and religion. He gave the instance when Swami Vivekananda pondered if religion should be scrutinized using the same yardstick as regular science. The answer by Swami Vivekananda was yes. In fact, if there are elements that fail under the scrutiny they should be dropped.
Swami Atmapriyananda advised that one should not take anything seriously, but at the same time take everything seriously. He also encouraged Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of “Think globally, act locally”.
Swami, a physics enthusiast, did point out to Mr. Shourie that his book was a little biased towards neuroscience and should have involved a bit of physics and mathematics, particularly the Godel’s theorem of incompleteness and the God particle. (which Swami jokingly put as the god-damn particle out of which the word was later omitted because it shook the foundations of academics).
Swami Priyananda stated that it is innate in our nature to come up with theories to justify our existence. If the theory is harmless but satisfactory to the individual, it holds. `
In an exclusive conversation with NewsGram, we asked the author how important does he think it is for the young generation to read his book considering the fact that they all are growing up leaning more towards science than spirituality. To which Mr. Shourie smiled and answered that an individual should first have an interest in it. If so, he suggested one should then start with the original works of Swami Ramakrishna which proved his true devotion. He also enlightened us on his Holiness Dalai Lama’s program of integrating neuroscience with Buddhist spirituality. An interest in the spiritual world comes from within.
– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394
Achieving soft, beautiful and happy skin is a dream for most of us or at least a long-pending item on our wish list. While there are lot of suggestions, a laundry list of do's and don'ts to follow, there are some basics that don't change. We have to understand that happy skin is a holistic process that requires one to work on building healthy habits combined with good skincare.
Here's a ready reckoner by ITC Fiama of tried and tested skincare habits that will serve as a reminder that skincare doesn't need to be complicated, it just needs to be consistent.
* Cleanse & Moisturise -- The first and the simplest step towards healthy skin is regular cleansing and moisturising, it is advisable to use a moisturizing body soap that ensures your skin gets the right nutrients and remains supple and nourished. A great product suited to this requirement is Fiama Gel Bathing Bar, which is enriched with nature's goodness. Fiama's bathing bars come in 5 variants and they help moisturize the skin making it appear soft, happy and bouncy.
The first and the simplest step towards healthy skin is regular cleansing and moisturising. | Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash
* Balanced Diet -- Healthy skin is an outcome of a balanced diet. The food we eat provides the building blocks for healthy functioning of our bodies. Our diet has everything to do with the health of our skin. The nutrients, minerals, and proteins found in food support collagen production and healthy cell membranes, and protect skin from harmful stressors, such as UV exposure.
Healthy skin is an outcome of a balanced diet. | Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash
* Smile -- While most of us hate the idea of having crow's eyes and lines while we smile. We rarely realize the benefits of a simple smile. When we smile the blood flow gets better, and the skin receives more oxygen and nutrients. This can help you develop a healthier complexion alternately it also leaves you stress free making you look happy and radiant.
When we smile the blood flow gets better, and the skin receives more oxygen and nutrients. | Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
* Drink Enough H20 -- With our bodies comprising of 70 per cent water, drinking sufficient amount of water is the easiest way to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Drinking adequate water helps flush out toxins from our bodies, preventing pimples and acne and boosting the skin's elasticity. No wonder, water is called the elixir of life.
Drinking adequate water helps flush out toxins from our bodies, preventing pimples and acne and boosting the skin's elasticity. | Photo by Bluewater Sweden on Unsplash
* Move Your Body -- Along with cleansing and proper nutrition, another aspect which is important for happy skin is movement. When we move or burn calories, the body produces chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain and trigger positive feelings and happy thoughts. This feeling of pure happiness and joy reflects on the skin, thus having the power to completely change your mood and keep you and your skin beaming. (IANS/ MBI)
When we move or burn calories, the body produces chemicals called endorphins. | Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash
Keywords: Skin, soft, happy, healthy, food, move, calories, water, smile, moisturise, water, cleanse
It is true that street performances has been existing in India since ancient times. But, it was Philip Astley who brought the concept of circus in India in the 1880s. Interestingly, Astley is known as the father of modern circus.
Birth of the Great Indian Circus
In 1879, the Royal Italian Circus by Giuseppe Chiarini came to India. Before any of his shows, he would often say that India did not have a proper circus, and apparently, the country would have to wait for many years in order to develop the "circus trend".
Once, Balasahib Patwardhan, who was the king of the Kurundwad state of Sangli (today's Kolhapur) went to watch the circus. He was accompanied by Vishnupant Chatre, who was the keeper of his stable and also a riding master at the stables. As it was ritual, before starting with any performance, Chiarini used to challenge the audience by saying, "a thousand British Indian rupees and a horse would be given to anyone who would repeat his daring effects within six months". Interestingly, this time, the challenge was accepted by Chatre, and he announced that he will perform the same in Kurundwad within three months. And if he fails, he promised Chiarini that he would return "ten thousand British Indian rupees and top ten horses. On March 20, 1880, Chatre came to perform his circus at the Kurundwad Palace Grounds. But Chiarini did not come to see it.
Soon after this, Vishnupant Chatre bought most of the circus equipment from Chiarini, and within a year, he formed a new circus company called the "Great Indian Circus". This is referred to as the first circus company in India. Chatre's Great Indian Circus toured various parts of India and the world. Later on, Chatre merged his circus company with his cousin's company to launch a new company by the name of "Karlekar Grand Circus".
Other Famous Circuses of India
After the coming of Karlekar Grand Circus, many circuses came into being in India. In 1904, the Malabar Grand Circus, which was the first circus company in Kerala came into being under the leadership of Pariyali Kannan. Another circus named the Great Royal Circus was started in 1909. Though, its previous name was Madhuskar's Circus. One of the famous circuses of India was also the Grand Bombay Circus which was founded in the year 1920 by Baburao Kadam. Since a long time, tradition of circus as an art has been prevalent in India, though slight decline in its practice is evident now.
Keywords: India, Circus, Tradition, Art, Performance, Great Indian Circus, Philip Astley, Culture
By- Naman Rastogi
The first thing to understand about API security testing is that it is not a one-size-fits-all process. Testers must take into account the scope of the project, as well as the specific needs of developers and end-users. This article will provide you with some basic guidelines for an API security testing program. It will also outline some API security tests that you should consider including in your API testing process.
API security testing is a process that checks API functions for security vulnerabilities. These tests are intended to identify problems with the API's design, functionality, and implementation. API security testing is a proactive way to check the API for potential exploits.
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Tests To Include in API Security Testing
The API's parameter tampering test is a way to check any API calls that contain parameters for known attack patterns. The API security testing tool you use should provide warning alerts when it finds these types of vulnerability points.
Parameter tampering occurs because developers aren't properly securing the input data before it enters an API call from another application or web service. This gives attackers the ability to tamper with API input data. You can checkout this detailed guide on How to Perform Web Application Testing
Testing for API parameter tampering can include looking at all variables within API calls and checking whether they need to exist or not. In your tests, you'll also want to check how values are passed into API calls and whether or not they can be changed once data is passed in.
Also Read: No Halfway Deal In Security
Input fuzzing is one of the most basic kinds of testing you can perform on an API. It occurs when attackers send API inputs that contain random or unexpected values. This test will show you whether the API can handle random data or not. It should do so without impeding its performance, but rather enhancing it.
The API security testing tool you use should allow for several different types of fuzzing:
●Data Format Fuzzing: An input format can be modified to see how the API responds when an invalid value is received.
●Range Fuzzing: Some APIs only accept certain numeric ranges from authorized users, such as credit card numbers and phone numbers. You should check whether your API functions properly under this type of condition.
The first thing to understand about API security testing is that it is not a one-size-fits-all process.Getastra
●Boundary Fuzzing: This type of fuzzing should be used to check for boundaries within the API itself. For example, checking if a string is between certain character lengths, determining whether it's possible to pass in an empty parameter value that will still produce valid results, etc.
Testing for API input fuzzing can also include randomizing parameters that are always required by the API function being tested (e.g., session IDs). If these values don't need to exist, hackers will be able to bypass any checks made by the developers who have implemented strict guidelines regarding API usage.
Another API security test you should consider is to check for unhandled API functions. Unhandled API methods are those that developers didn't code into the API. This happens either because they were unaware of their necessity or simply forgot about them.
Allowing access to these functions creates a vulnerability point in your API's functionality. Unfortunately, attackers can use these vulnerabilities as attack vectors. API security testing should search for unhandled API methods and alert you to their presence.
This API security testing method will help you determine how well the API performs under different input conditions without any malicious actors trying to tamper with it.
A final API security test you should consider is to check for possible injection attacks. This type of vulnerability occurs when user-defined input data can be inserted into API calls as part of the API's scripting language.
Injecting attacks have been a long-time security threat for APIs. This is because they allow attackers to use any type of data that can be manipulated and inserted into an API call. They should ideally only allow what is provided by regular users or applications trying to access the API.
The API security testing process goes beyond just finding the presence of common API attack vectors like cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, remote code execution, and much more. It also looks for other API features that can put your system at risk if they aren't properly secured with input validation defenses or strict API security features.
Though API security testing may seem daunting, it's a necessary step in securing your systems and data. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! If you don't have time to do this yourself, you can always seek help from security experts. The costs are justified by the benefits. So, make sure to conduct API security testing if you haven't already!
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)