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- A few years back, Zakir Naik had ridiculed the Hindu god ‘Ganapati’ and had thrown a challenge to prove that Ganapati is God
- Maria says claims of “eternal hellfire for unbelievers” are to maintain order and unquestionable faith in the believers of Islam
- She asks Dr Naik to delve deeper on the wisdom of his ancestors to clear his misinterpreted inferences
Maria Wirth is a German ‘saadhak‘ who has adopted India as her abode. When she delved deeper into the spiritual tradition of India, she started sharing her insights and thoughts with the German readers through her works. But, in the recent years, she noticed that there were collective effort to prevent even Indians and people across the globe, from knowing the importance of ancient Indian heritage. Therefore, she is continuously making an effort to point out the unique value of Indian tradition, also in the English language.
Due to her concern for the oppression of ancient Indian heritage and ideas, in her latest blog post, she replies to Dr.Zakir Naik, answering to some of his misguided prejudices.
Dr Zakir Naik who is an Islamic preacher and the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation is under the spotlight for his controversial religious remarks. After he openly declared his support for polygamy, he went a step further stating that a Muslim can have sex with his slaves, whom he considered as “prisoners of war.” His public speeches often demean Hinduism and other religions. Some years ago, Zakir Naik had ridiculed the Hindu god- Ganapati and had thrown a challenge to prove whether Ganapati is God.
‘Reply to Dr. Zakir Naik’
Hindus generally don’t criticise other religions in spite of the fact that Christianity and Islam not only criticise, but demean Hinduism badly. Zakir Naik is only one example. Do Hindus know what is preached in the innumerable churches and mosques across India? I know for sure that Hindu gods are called devils by Christian missionaries. Yet Hindus neither defend their gods nor challenge the Abrahamic dogmas in spite of having a solid philosophical basis for their beliefs, which is lacking in Christianity and Islam.
Some years ago, Zakir Naik had ridiculed Ganapati and thrown a challenge to prove that Ganapati is God. I assume he means by God the Supreme Being that Muslims call Allah.
Now, what do we know about Allah?
Foremost, Allah is great and merciful, and the faithful, as well as the unfaithful, are loudly reminded of it five times a day. He also knows what all human beings are doing, but is separate from them. It is claimed that Allah has communicated his final words to Prophet Mohamed. Those words are in the Quran. Allah declared that Islam alone is true. So, all human beings must follow Islam because other paths are wrong. And they must hurry up because every human being has only one life.
Those, who do not accept Islam during their lifetime, will be thrown into eternal hellfire where “boiling water will be poured over their heads that not only melts their skin but also the inner parts of their bellies…” (Q22.19-22)
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Clearly, here is where Allah’s mercy ends. He does not brook any dissent. And the Azan, which started compassionately, ends with: “Oh Allah, guide us to the Right Way. The Way of those whom You have favoured, not of those who have earned Your wrath…” Al-Fatiha 1
This means Allah is merciful only to his followers who are called Muslims and he is wrathful to those who are not Muslims.
Dr Zakir Naik, I am confident that I got the concept of ‘God’ in Islam right because Christianity has a similar concept. And I dare to claim that it is not true. Can you prove (and this challenge goes also to Christian clerics) that Allah/ God is indeed so unfair and divisive? Can you prove there will be this huge cauldron of fire where billions of people will burn forever after Judgment Day? Do these claims of “eternal hellfire for unbelievers” not rather have the purpose to keep the flock in check? To divide and rule?
There are about 2 billion Christians, who are told they have to remain Christians, otherwise, they can’t go to heaven. And then there are about 2 billion Muslims who are told that they have to remain Muslims, otherwise, they can’t go to paradise. Both religions had plenty of time to sort out which one is true, but they did not do it. Why? Because they cannot prove it. They can only make claims and counterclaims and fight among themselves, between Muslims and Christians and with heathens or infidels. They do this for the last 2000 years.
Under these circumstances, can anyone claim that Islam or Christianity is beneficial for humanity? Is it not the time to have a thorough check of what REALLY is the truth?
In regard to the absolute Truth, Dr Zakir Naik, your ancestors, the Indian Rishis, made valuable contributions and you can be proud of them. In ancient times, long, long before Christianity or Islam appeared on the scene, the Rishis had a very mature understanding of Brahman which would be ‘Truth’ or ‘Supreme Being’ or ‘God’ in English. Brahman is not personal, not a superhuman entity somewhere in heaven, not male or female, not jealous of other gods, not revengeful if ignored, but it is Sat-Chit-Ananda, the conscious, one essence in all names and forms – like the one ocean is the essence of all the waves.
The Rishis realised that this universe is a wrong perception of Brahman. They called it Maya, not really true, only apparently true.
For anything to qualify as absolute Truth, it has to be always – past, present and future – and it has to be self-evident.
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The Rishis came to the conclusion that nothing fulfils these criteria except pure (= thought free) consciousness. This consciousness is here and now, always, everywhere. Yet we miss it because we focus only on things or thoughts, emotions, etc. – like, when we focus a torchlight in a room only on the furniture and miss the empty space. Infinite space, which throbs with life and love is actually a good metaphor for Sat-Chit-Ananda – the highest truth that underlies names and forms (nama-rupa).
Science has meanwhile discovered the Sat-aspect of the truth. Oneness is there. To discover that this Oneness is also aware (Chit) and blissful (Ananda) scientists would need to turn to their own consciousness to research further instead of looking outside. Let us see whether the scientists will support also the claim of the Rishis that this whole manifestation is alive and full of bliss.
In one point, however, you are right, Dr Zakir Naik: There is only one Truth, one God, which the wise call by different names. But the nature of it you got wrong. It does not send non-Muslims or non-Christians eternally into hellfire. The Supreme Being is indeed merciful and great.
But you wanted to know whether Ganapati is a deity.
May I explain a bit of your ancestors’ tradition which struck me as most profound when I came to know of it?
Sanatana Dharma is not only about intellectually knowing Sat-Chit-Ananda, but about realising it. Since Brahman is all-pervading, it must be also in us (Ayam Atma Brahman). So we can tap and feel it. For this, however, we need to follow certain rules. We need to purify ourselves, lead a moral life, speak the truth, etc. To eat plenty of meat and have plenty of sex is not conducive for this purification. Yet one factor is very conducive: Bhakti – love for God.
Here Hindu Dharma brings in Ishwara.
The concept of Ishwara is close to the Abrahamic notion of a personal God but more benevolent. There is, of course, no eternal hell for unbelievers. Everyone gets chance after chance in life after life till he realises that he is not a separate wave, but one with the ocean.
Ishwara is God with attributes and has innumerable aspects, as this universe has innumerable aspects or human nature has innumerable aspects. These aspects are personified in different deities and the devotee can choose the one who is dearest to him. It helps to develop the love for the invisible Truth – for example through Ganapati.
Those Devas are mistakenly much maligned by Christianity and Islam. They are not separate entities but kind of access points to the one Brahman, which is otherwise unimaginable. It is possible to feel familiar with them, to love them, to talk with them. And the scriptures leave no doubt that devas are ultimately Brahman.
And here, Dr Naik, you may get an answer to your question whether Ganapati is ultimately the Supreme Being.
The Ganapati Atharvashirsa Upanishad, which is part of the Atharva Veda, states: “Tvameva kevalam karta si, tvameva kevalam dharta si, tvameva kevalam harta si.
Tvameva sarvam khalvidam brahmasi, tvam saksadatma si nityam.”
It means: You alone are the creator, you alone are the sustainer, you alone are the annihilator. All this is Brahman and you are that Brahman. You are indeed the Atman eternally.
This declaration, however, is not unique for Ganapati. It is said for other deities, too.
Yet the fact that this is written in a sacred text, is not proof enough. There are plenty of sacred texts in this world and if everything in them is blindly accepted as true, we end up with all kind of proclaimed truths which are not true. We need to verify what is declared as truth on the touchstone of reason, intuition and experience. If it contradicts all of these, it is not worth believing it and certainly not dying for it.
The proof that all deities are Brahman is because only Brahman really exists. Brahman is like the ocean. The waves are not separate from it. The name with which one worships the Divine does not matter. What matters is how much devotion one feels. The greater the devotion, the more miracles can happen. Ganapati is loved by millions of Hindus worldwide. He is the door through which they try to access Sat-Chit-Ananda.
Sanatana Dharma is very ancient. And yet the Rishis had such deep insights, for example, that the world is a wrong perception of what is really true, like seeing a snake at dusk when in fact there is only a rope. Westerners who ridiculed Hindus because they believe that the world is an illusion keep now quiet as science supports the Hindu view.
Meanwhile, NASA scientists have detected the building blocks of DNA in meteorites. The Max Planck Institute in Germany published the first picture of the whole universe. It had an oval shape. Could it be possible that those who ridicule Hindus for worshipping a Shiva lingam might soon rethink their attitude, as well, lest they embarrass themselves?
Great men have come and gone in India’s ancient civilisation. Some have been made into gods. There is nothing wrong with it. The Divine is in all.
It should make you reflect, Dr Naik that science keeps validating the insights of the Rishis, for example, the mind-boggling age of the universe, or the ultimate Oneness of all.
Attempts to vilify Indian tradition by you and others are successful because the British weaned Indians away from their tradition and most people know little about it. Yet if you are sincere, you will realise that the wisdom of your ancestors scores high over the worldview and the mindset of Abrahamic religions. The attitude of “We alone are right and you go to hell if you don’t accept our religion” is doing great harm to humanity. It may be helpful for world dominion, but do you want to live in a world where everyone has to wear a straight-jacket?
If I were you, Dr Naik, I would be worried especially about one thing: what if you wake up after death and there is NO paradise waiting for you? What if all those Jihadis, who were inspired by you, cursed you after realising there was no paradise for them? What if you are taking birth again in another form and reap the fruits of your actions of this life where you consciously or unconsciously distorted the truth? Rebirth is not only mentioned in the Indian texts. There is also plenty of evidence for it – over 3000 cases are documented in the archive of Virginia University.
Dr Naik, I don’t know how deeply you believe what you preach. I know from personal experience how effective brainwashing in childhood can be. But I also know that it is possible to get out of it, and it seems the older one is, the easier.
For me, it was a great relief to come out of the Christian religious straight jacket and I would encourage you to also genuinely enquire into the truth. Your concept of God is not Truth. You quote a book as support. Truth does not fit into a book. Truth is THAT WHAT TRULY IS.
Your ancestors, the Indian Rishis, spoke from experience, not from book knowledge.
– This letter was first published in the official blog of Maria Wirth.
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)