Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category


Saturday, August 15th, 2015

I had heard from Connie Jones (Secretary of the High Energy Physics group) that Prof. Okubo had written a paper with a Japanese colleague. I helped her put it on the arxiv. She wanted me to help him with publishing it.

Okubo left a copy of it in my mailbox. I read it and left a message with Connie that I would like to talk to him. He came by. We discussed the paper, on certain non-associative algebras. Then he said somewhat uncharacteristically that he was very sick. And in pain.

Pauli Meets God

Monday, August 18th, 2014

God is kind to physicists. They get an interview after death where questions which stumped them in life are answered. Most ask about Quantum Gravity.

Wolfgang Pauli too, got his chance.

God: “You have any questions for me? ”
Pauli: “Of course not. May be your staff didn’t tell you who I am ?”
God. “Oh yes, they told me some Pauli stories. And I see what you did there with the matrices.”
Pauli: ” So.. do you have any questions for me?”
God:”Yes. Explain turbulence.”

Wait A Second..

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Siva is the mysterious God of the Hindu Trinity. He is said to meditate for eternity, sitting at the peak of Mount Kailas in Tibet. Even other Gods dare not disturb Him from His trance. Siva is all-powerful, unknowable, scary, shapeless, time-less and irascible. The Universe was created out of Him. When Siva eventually comes out of meditation and performs the fiery Thandava dance, the Universe will dissolve back into Him.

A devotee prayed to Siva for years on end. Finally Siva appeared in front him, visibly annoyed.
“So, what do you want?”
“Oh, Lord, I heard that a second for you is a hundred million years to mere mortals like me.”
“Yeah, so? Just tell me what you want from me.”
“Also, I heard that a penny for you is equivalent to a hundred million gold coins for me.”
“You are annoying me with trivialities. Just ask already.”
“Great Lord, give your humble servant a penny, please.”

“Sure”, said Siva. “Just wait a second…”

Om Nama Sivaya.

Fatwa On Demand

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Ever since the Salman Rushdie incident, the word Fatwa has had a negative connotation. Perhaps no word has been as misunderstood, with the exceptions of jihad and madrassa.

It turns out that a fatwa is a kind of judicial opinion from an islamic religious authority. In nations that have adopted the Shariah as part of the legal system, a fatwa could have the force of law. But mostly, it is guidance for the faithful. Because Islam does not have a hierarchy like the Catholic Church, each religious authority has to rely on its own reputation as the force behind its fatewa.

Outside of the Middle East, the most respected school of Islamic studies is Darul Uloom, located at Deoband near Delhi in India. It was founded in 1866 after the defeat of Indian forces by the British. The school played an important role in the Freedom Struggle of India. It opposed the creation of Pakistan, and asks its followers to participate peacefully in Indian democracy. Its influence extends well outside of India. The mainstream of Islam in Pakistan is historically of the Deoband school. After Partition, certain logistical difficulties clearly exist and Saudi Arabia is playing an increasing role in providing support to the madrassas. (more…)

The New Faith

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I am at my daughter’s birthday party the other day, chatting with the father of one of the girls.

“So, what do you do?” (more…)

Drona’s Revenge

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Drona was the greatest teacher of his time. He had no peer in his command of the martial arts and sciences. But, at the end of many years of studying and perfecting his skills, he found himself destitute, and with a wife and son to support. He decided to pay a visit to his best buddy from elementary school, who was now King of the minor country of Panchala. Perhaps his friend would arrange for a job. (more…)

Medieval Navigation in the Arabian Sea

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Read First: Longitude Zero

Indians call the bay between Africa and India the Arabian Sea. Throughout the medieval times it was controlled by Arab sailors. They established settlements down the East coast of Africa, as far down as Malindi in Kenya. (more…)

The Almanack

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

What is the date today? A simple question, but with a complex answer.
Poor Richards Almanack
The story of calendars is the story of human civilization itself. The millenial 1 article by Amartya Sen tries to disentangle fact from fantasy in the history of calendars. Never an easy task in history, especially hard in the keeping of time itself. (more…)

The Other Pope 2

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

The Politics

Read First Part I: The Theology
For some one outside of the two ancient faiths, the power game between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church is interesting as a case-study in politics: the longest continuing political struggle in human history. (more…)

The Pope and the Patriarch

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

The Theology

His All-Holiness Bartholomew I is the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the city now called Istanbul. He is considered the equivalent of the Pope for the 300 million Orthodox Christians in the world. He is the `first among equals’ of the four Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem who are successors to the Apostles. (Several Patriarchates have been added more recently to reflect the growth of the Church in Eastern Europe, such as those Serbia, Moscow and Bulgaria). (more…)

Kalla Yoga 2

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Continued from Part

I need to hurry up and launch my own brand of yoga before the inevitable yoga backlash sets in. It must be distinctive, eye-catching and easily patented. More than a set of exercises. A whole way of life, which will require many accessories. (more…)

Kalla Yoga 1

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Yoga means `union’ in Sanskrit. It could be your union with the universe. Or it can simply mean a meeting, as in a political or cultural gathering. In mathematical texts, yoga means sum. It is a rather common word in all Indian languages descended from Sanskrit.

But in America, Yoga has come to mean a system of physical exercise. It is a mystical and esoteric word. It is also a multi-billion dollar industry, a lifestyle, even a religion in all but name. Twenty million people practice it in the US alone. Like wine for France and pasta for Italy, yoga has become India’s defining export, its brand identity. (more…)

Grief in The Buddhist Ramayana

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

The Jaataka tales are a collection of parables about the 500 lives of the Buddha until he achieved Nirvana, salvation. After that there are no more re-incarnations. The stories proceed from simple morality tales in which the Bodhisatva ( the soul of the Budha) was alive in the body of a lower life-form: a rabbit, an elephant and so on. Until he attains human form and the stories get more sophisticated. Various versions of these stories have been told and retold over many generations all over the Eastern World.

Another Namesake

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Mira Nair’s movie `Namesake’ is about a man with an odd name
(Gogol) for an Indian. I have my own situation to deal with.
My name is usually written as Sarada G. Rajeev.

Practical Vedanta

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

Vedaanta is the end of all knowledge. End as in goal, or as in the ultimate kind of knowledge. It is a theory of what knowledge itself is. What practical use could it be? Volumes have been written on how to translate the abstract concepts of Vedanta to every day life. The ultimate authority in `modern times’ (only about a few hundred years ago) is Sankara Acharya. His Vivekachoodaamani and Bhajagovindam are attempts to explain this most abstruse of all branches of classical Indian philosophy to the masses; or at least to laymen.