Tuesday, May 24, 2016

₹ 1 ride offered by this auto driver to reciprocate ₹1 Idly of Amma canteen.

In the land of freebie culture where expecting, demanding and getting freebies has become the right the of common man, this auto driver stands out differently by offering to give a ride (to any place) for one rupee on the day of swearing in ceremony of Jayalalithaa, as a token gesture of gratitude for the one rupee idly offered by Amma canteens.

Amma canteen is not just a freebie but a welfare idea which was introduced by Jayalalithaa to tide over the sudden spurt in the prices of grains and eatables at that time. Though the Supreme Court had not found fault with the freebie offer due to the welfare angle to it, in Tamilnadu competitive politics has unnecessarily given a boost to it.

For example Kushboo did not find anything wrong with the election manifesto of the DMK offering mobile phone to everyone and did not doubt how much pressure it would put on the coffers, but found fault with it when AIADMK repeated that in its poll manifesto.

She even hyped the debate by saying that Jayalalithaa would cheat people by giving a low cost mobile! By instigating like this, she does not bother about the increased burden on the Govt treasury but wants to instigate the people to expect a costly mobile from the Government. Instead of making the debate a worthy one by questioning this freebie or making people be aware that Govt money need not go into this freebie, she is instigating the people to demand a costly one.

Similarly during the Chennai floods, what I could not understand was why the Govt should give compensation for all the people for the flood. It was a natural calamity and the Govt is entitled to provide alternate shelters for the affected people besides strengthening the infrastructure to withstand future floods. The exemplary salvaging measures of the Govt under Jayalalithaa, including seeking of help from the auto majors to do a free service of the vehicles drowned in the flood is of international standard.  

But the DMK spread a campaign of turning a natural calamity into a Jayalalithaa sponsored one in such a way that all and sundry started expecting a compensation from the Govt. To blunt the opposition campaign she had to offer Rs 5000 to everyone in the region that were flooded irrespective of whether the damage was worth that or not for the beneficiary. At that time, Vijaykanth raised the pitch for a compensation of Re 10,000 saying that 5000 is not enough for the people.

These politicians will talk anything, it is after all Jayalalaithaa’s headache – this is the tenor of this kind of competitive instigation for freebie culture. But in the end many people from high rise apartments too got the money though they did not have any impact of the flood in their apartments.
Another issue that is currently doing rounds in the Whatsapp is a campaign – presumably by the DMK people instigating people to ask for monthly payment of electricity charges in addition to the 100-unit free electricity announced yesterday by Jayalalithaa as per her poll manifesto. Originally the freebie in electricity bill was offered by the DMK. When it was in power it did not turn a stone to give electricity to the people. After Jayalalithaa took over 5 years, she brought back the EB from the losses and ensured uninterrupted electricity, the demand for which touched its peak as the 2nd highest in the country last month.  

There is absolutely no need to offer a freebie in electricity besides the existing ones to farmers and the textile industry. But happy with the comfortable situation that Jayalalithaa had brought in the Electricity Board, the DMK made an offer of changing the billing to monthly basis in its manifesto. The first ill or evil will always come from the DMK. And the people also started talking about it. That made Jayalalithaa to offer a matching one to douse the DMK offer. She offered 100 units of free power to all homes and signed on that order upon assuming office yesterday.

This means loss to the EB but lesser than what it could do if the billing cycle is made monthly. Anyway billing rate in Tamilnadu is less compared to many other States. (Check here). EB needs more money to tide over ever increasing demands and for installing new capacity.  But all that is not an issue for the politicians, particularly the DMK. They have started a campaign since yesterday to demand monthly billing to get far better advantage from the 100 unit free electricity. For them, it is Jayalalithaa’s headache and therefore give her more headache and not bother about the economics behind such demands.

In this backdrop, this man, Mr Mathivanan of Coimbatore, an ordinary person leading a hand – to mouth existence from the income he gets by plying his auto, stands tall. He may be a fan of Jayalalithaa or a worker of the AIADMK party but it had occurred to him that he should do something to the people, to the society on being inspired by the idea of offering cheap food in Amma canteen.  Rather than expecting what you get from others (here Govt), he has stood up to the idea of what he can do to others.

On the day of swearing in ceremony of Jayalalithaa, he had taken 102 rides for one rupee rate in a span of 12 hours from 6 AM to 6PM without any break even for taking his food. It is certainly doubtful that he could have got 102 customers at other times. But if anything comes free, our people would be too ready to make use of it. If someone tries to emulate him in some way, that is the sign that our people are becoming better citizens.

I am happy that at least the Amma canteen concept had kindled one person’s moral sense of taking something for such a low cost without returning the same in some form.


CHEAP RIDE HOME - Auto driver marks Amma's victory by charging `1trip
A Subburaj

They say fans come in all shapes and sizes, but it is their commitment that truly defines their devotion. This 61-year-old auto driver's devotion to the AIADMK turned out to be a boon to commuters looking to travel by auto.

To celebrate the swearing-in ceremony of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, he offered to ferry passengers to their destination for a token fare of `1. This was no small gesture, as he managed to service 102 passengers, all in a day's work, earning `102.

“I skipped breakfast and lunch. I took to the roads at 6am and finished work at 6pm. I am an ardent fan of Jayalalithaa and I am more than elated that she was sworn in as chief minister for the sixth time. I decided to celebrate by victory by servicing passengers for a token fare,“ said R M Mathivanan.

Mathivanan from Kaveri Nagar at SIHS Colony has been a party member since 1975. “I have been working as an auto driver for the past 41 years in Coimbatore city. I have been a member since the time of MGR. I am a great fan of our party chief Jayalalithaa. She has done so much good for the people of Tamil Nadu. It's no surprise that the people have voted for her again,“ he said.
As soon as Mathivanan heard that the AIADMK would be forming the new government, he began distributing sweets to bus passengers at SIHS colony.

Our leader provides idly for just Rs1 at the Amma canteens across the state. Because of this, many poor people are able to eat breakfast. Since Amma has helped so many people, I decided to do my bit. I am not doing this for publicity . I earn `600 a day which is adequate to meet my daily needs,“ he said.

Related articles:- 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Astika Darshanas –Part 2 - Vedanta & Sankhya Darshanas (Guest post by R.Ramanathan)

Astika Darshanas (Introduction and Vedanta Darshana)  Part - 1

VEDANTA continued...

Now we will discuss something about the Brahma sutra. The Brahma Sutra has been written by Badarayana. It is also considered as one of the pramana texts for Vedanta AKA Uttara Mimamsa. It begins with  “Athatho Brahma jignyasa, translated as “Thus the desire to know(Jignasatva)  Brahman”. The word “Athatho” in traditional sutra style means “Now”. It is used as a auspicious word too. This means that there was something to do prior to this and thus from “Now” on the aspirant has a desire to “know” Brahman. Now this word “Know” is loaded and pretty controversial. Each school derives a different meaning.  Will briefly summarize what “Knowing Brahman” means in each school.

  1. Advaita school considers “Knowing” as  removing the misconception or Avidya that we are the body and our individual soul (Jivatma) is actually brahman. Advaita recognizes Jeevan mukti or liberation in the body. Thus knowing can mean in the highest sense attaining Jeevan mukti. Advaita accepts Krama mukti i.e. Mukti by slow liberation. The soul slowly attains higher worlds and is liberated at the end of the kalpa. It accepts the following forms of Krama mukti
·         Salokyam (Same world): Attains the  word of his favorite relative Ishvara. For Example if after death if one attains Kailasa, he attains the same workd as Sbiva
·         Sameepyam (Nearness to Deity) Nearness to the desired relative Ishvara. Example is after death if one attains Kailasa he can see Lord Shiva nearby
·         Sarupyam (Same form): Attaining the same form as the desired Lord. For example attaining Shiva's form or Vishnus form
·         Sayujyam (Absorption into deity): Getting absorbed in a deity. This is the last stage of Krama mukti. At the end of this the relative Lord also merge into the absolute brahman.

  1. Vishishtadvaita considers “Knowing” means  “Understanding that we all are Sesha jivatmas and subservient to the Seshin(Absolute master)”. This school does not accept the doctrine of Jeevan Mukti and says that Moksha can be attained after death alone on reaching parama padam or Vaikuntam or abode of Vishnu. This can be done only by sharanagati.
  2. Dvaita says that “Knowing” means understanding the differences between Jeeva and Paramata. And by that surrendering or sharnagati one attains Krishna(Parabrahmam as per Dvaita).

Now before trying to “know”, one needs to develop certain qualifications before attempting to “Know”.

Shankara Bhashya says the necessary pre-requisites are “An aversion to all pleasures earthly and heavenly”. As per Shankara one needs to develop the Sadhana chathushyam
They are Sama (Equanimity), Dama(Sense control), Titeeksha(Patience), Uparati(Indifference to pain and pleasure).

All this is to be developed by unfailing performance of one's Varnashrama Dharma with a spirit of Desirelesness in the fruits(Nishkamya karma. So as per the Brahma sutra Bhashya of Shankara, one cannot suddenly drop of the performance of one's Varnasharama dharma as claimed by neo-vedantins today and suddenly proclaim “Aham Brahmasmi” and pretend to have attained brahma jnana.

The Brahma sutra Bashya of Shankara is written using the principles of Tarka (Logic) and Mimamsa.  The general format is something like this. A sutra is stated and then explained. Then a poorvapaksha (Opposing view) is stated. This is then refuted using logic and then the Siddhanta or final conclusion is established. It is difficult to understand the Bhashya without a good knowledge of Tarka and poorva Mimamsa.

I am not going into the Geeta as it is a well know text.


The sankhya darshana though not in vogue now is a great system of philosophy. The word sankhya means enumeration or “Clearly enunciated” or “quantified”. If not for this school, Vedanta cannot exist at all. This provides all the necessary fundamental concepts to Vedanta like the various types of Karma (Prarabda, Aagami, Sanchita), the gunas, the tattvas, an embryonic notion of evolution etc. The yoga system completely depends on sankhya for its philosophical and epistemological basis. Shankara in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya has great respect for this system and says that “In order to win the wrestling match easily we need to defeat the chief wrestler (Sankhya) first”. In fact this is the first Astika darshana that talks about Moksha being the separation of Purusha (Atman) from the trammels of Prakriti (The precursor term for “Samsara” used in Vedanta). The highlight of this system is that it is able to explain the creation of the universe without the help of a supreme god using the theory of Satkaryavada or theory of cause and effect. We will got into this a bit later.. Thus this is called a Nireeshvara darshana (Atheistic in modern parlance).  The pioneer of this system is Kapila Maharishi who has written the “Sankhya sutras”.

History and founders and acharyas.

The history of Kapila is vague as with every ancient Indian authority. The Bhagavata Purana says that he was the son of Prajapati Kardama and Devahooti, Swayambhuva Manus daughter.

The Ramayana differs on this. But it mentions sage kapila burnt the sons of Sagara forcing Bhageeratha to bring the Ganga.

The Mahabharata also describes Bhishma telling Yudhistra about Kapila and his philosophy (Shanti parva).The Rig Veda also has a seer called Kapila. But it is not clear from the RV whether it was this Kapila who wrote the aphorisms. The Shvetashvatara upanishad mentions Kapila the seer and the word Sankhya. I forget the hymn number. It must be in the 5th chapter.

The Gautam Grihya sutra codifies some rules for an ascetic life and he names it “Kapila Sannyasa Vidhi”. The Rishi Asuri is supposed to be a disciple of Kapila. Then there is Panchashika who actually codified it and widely taught it. Then there is a scholar Ishvara Krishna  who is supposed to have lived in 4th or 5th century CE. He wrote the Vartikam for the Sankhya Aphorism of Kapila.

Tenets of the Sankhya darshana.

Let’s get into the fundamental tenets of this system.

  1. This accepts first 3 of the 6 pramanas listed earlier. Since it accepts shruti pramana, it is an astika darshana.
  2. The individual soul is called Purusha here. This is a conscious entity called Chaitanya technically.  It is absolute and independent and unsullied by defects. Sankhya accepts the existence of multiple purushas,  compared to Advaita which accepts only one Atman.
  3. Prakriti is the principle responsible for all creation. It is an unconscious entity or called Jada in Sanskrit technically. It has three gunas, Satva (Illuminating), Rajas (Causes action), and Tamo (Causing restrictions or inertia) gunas respectively. When there is no creation or in Pralaya all the gunas are in equilibrium here. This kind of un-manifested prakriti is called Moola prakriti.
  4. Both Purusha and prakriti are real eternal entities. Thus sankhya is dualistic as it accepts two realities.
  5. When creation starts depending on the residual karma for a purusha the 3 fundamental gunas combine with each other, starting from moola prakriti to produce 23 tatvas
1.      Mahat/Buddhi(Intellect)
2.      Ahamkara or ego
3.      Manas or mind
4.      The five senses(Jnanendriyas)
5.      The five motor-organs(Karmendriyas)
6.      The five subtle elements
7.      The five gross elements

  1. Liberation or Moksha: Suffering is due to the failure to discriminate between purusha and matter. The self identifies itself with matter or prakriti. Liberation occurs when the purusha identifies itself that it is different from prakriti and is not limited by it. The Sankhyan approach to Liberation involves examining how perception operates, in order to reverse the world-generating process and allow pure Consciousness to be released from its bonds. See how close this view of Moksha is to the Advaitic school.
  2. It accepts the shruti as pramana. In fact Upanishads like Kata, Taittriya etc talks about sankhyan metaphysics at length. The Kata for example is explicitly sankhyan in nature. It talks about purusha, various tatvas and so on.
  3. No god or supreme lord is accepted in the Sankhya system. Kapila explicitly rejects the need for an Ishvara in his sutras. He says neither the shrutis adduce the need for ishvara nor is Ishvara visible with the sense-organs. So he says that a concept that can not be understood through any means of knowledge is useless for his purpose.
  4. When a poorvapaksha is raised as to the many Vedic statements that talk about a supreme lord who creates and sustains the world, Kapila rejects this saying that these are just advanced souls and are closer to liberation. But they themselves are within the knots of prakriti still though their knots are far more looser than humans and other beings. More about this later.  Many Ishvaric versions of sankhya have been written by particularly the followers of the Vaishnava schools (Vedanta Deshika for example) of Vedanta. These schools propose a supreme lord or Ishvara. But these later additions force many of the fundamental tenets of Sankhya to change. Thus these are not popular. Ishvara Krishna who wrote a vartika to Kapila's aphorisms rejects these schools as not true sankhya. The true strength of Sankhya lies in its ability to explain the world and moksha therein, without a need for a god. Because of this one can still remain astika but need not believe in any deity for moksha. A very liberating ideal indeed. For me personally this one principle of Sankhya is a great attraction and enables me to objectively study the worldly experiences without prejudicing myself with a god and needing to curse him whenever my prayers are not answered. But unfortunately this is one of its biggest caveats of Sankhya. We will go into this also later.
  5. The separation of the prakriti and purusha is practically achieve through contemplation on the tattvas.
  6. In fact yoga provides a more algorithmic approach for the above purpose.

Some more details of the sankhya system

The theory of satkaryavada or theory of cause and effect
The sankhya system uses the concept or theory of “Cause and effect” or called satkaryavada in sanskrit.

It is assumed by this theory that the effect is already found in the cause in a subtle form. Thus sat=Exists, Karya=effects.  For example like curd in milk and oil in sesame seeds.  If not for this restriction then any cause can create infinite effects. For example you could extract oil from a stone and curds from sand. Another corollary of this is you can work backward,  given an effect you can find the cause. You can see how scientific is the approach of sankhya here. But this assumption that “The effect is already found in the cause” is rejected by Nyaya, Vaishashika (Atomic theory) and the Baudhas too. Their theory is called asatkaryavada or Arambavada. We will discuss this in detail when discussing those darshanas. This theory is also called parinamavada too. Parinama means “Changing or evolution”. i.e.  The cause changes to its effect. The following are the 5 salient points of this theory.

  1. What is non existence can't be brought into existence by the cause. i.e. Curdling of milk can't produce oil.
  2. One distinct effect produces one cause
  3. All things cannot come from all things. Oil can't come out of stone.
  4. The energy required to produce a cause is visible in it's effect (A restatement of the law of conservation of energy?)
  5. Effect and cause not different but only different states.

Whenever creation has to happen, the equilibrium of the gunas is disturbed in Moola prakriti or pradhana. Then various permutation combinations produce the various other Tattvas as listed previously. Each  Tattva is briefly described.

Mahat or Buddhi: The product that evolves directly from Prakriti with the disturbance of gunas. This can be considered intellect or buddhi. This is the principle of reflection and discrimination. It is through the Buddhi that all thing are understood. The Buddhi is involved in the discrimination of prakriti and purusha.

Ahamkara:  The ego or tje “I”ness. This is the principle from where the desire to experience sense objects arise.

Manas: This is the principle or the intelligence that takes inputs from the 5 jnanendriyas and shows like(Raga) and dislike(Dvesha) and so on.

Jnanendriyas: (5 Sense-organs and 5 Tanmatras in brackets)
1.      Eye (seeing)
2.      Ear (Hearing)
3.      Skin (Sense of touch)
4.      Tongue (Taste)
5.      Nose (Smelling)

  1. Vak or power of speech
  2. Hands or power to grasp.
  3. Feet. Power of locomotion.
  4. Anus. Power of excretion.
  5. Sex organs or power of reproduction.

5 Bhutas
  1. Akasha (Ether)
  2. Vayu (Air)
  3. Agni (Fire)
  4. Apaha (Water)
  5. Prithivi (Earth)

Sankhya and god
As said earlier, the sankhya system does not accept the existence of a god. The Sankhya sutras clearly state that god cannot be proved through any means of knowledge and thus there is not use for such a conception. Some of the arguments for sankhya against a god are

  1. If god is eternal and unchanging and is the cause of the world, then the world too should be eternal and unchanging because as per sankhya the cause and the effects are not different. Since we find that the world is eternally changing as per the theory of Satkarya vada there can be no god and he never created the universe.
  2. This is taken from the Ishvara Krishna's Vartika.
"Why did god create the world?"

"Is he a baddha (Bonded person within prakriti) or mukta? If he is a baddha but created 
the world he is no good from any other baddha, except for his supernatural powers. If he is a mukta he has no use for creating the world. If he is beyond both he again does not need to create the world.

  1. If it is stated that god created the world for jivas to experience their karma, then he is not omniscient or omnipotent as he is acting on behalf of some other superior power compelling him to create. Thus again this kind of god has no use.
  2. If he created the world as sport as most puranas claim, then he is a cruel being and not merciful as is claimed. Even if an earthly mother(Human or animal) can show so much mercy on her children and god is considered to be a parent(Jagan mata or pita, he leave's much to be desired, as the world he created is full of death, disease and poverty"

Some problems with Sankhyas non acceptance of god.

Creation of the world needs a material cause and efficient cause or a intelligence. Now as per Sankhya the material cause is  prakriti. There is no efficient cause. So non acceptance of a god causes a problem in that there is no efficient cause. Sankhya does not answer this. But Yoga an allied darshana postulates an Ishvara. This can be found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. There the Ishvara postulated is just an efficient cause. He is also eternal like prakriti and purusha, but not their overload as postulated in later Vedantic schools and Puranas.

There is so much more but that would take up a separate article for sankhya alone. So with this, i think we can conclude our discussions on Sankhya and proceed to its allied darshana, which is a practical application of Sankhya, Yoga.


There is no system that is as popular as yoga all around the world. It is more popular than Advaita Vedanta in the west. But Yoga as a Darshana as envisioned in the Patanjali Yoga Sutra and what is being practiced now is totally different. Surely the original yoga system did not postulate Advaitic self realization or attainment of moksha of any other Vedantic school. Yoga shares Sankhya metaphysics. But differs from Sankhya with respect to the acceptance of god. We will go over this later quoting the relevant sutras. But first now a history of the yoga Darshana.


The oldest references to yoga can be found in the Veda itself. The Taittriya Samhita  in Kanda 4 Prashna 1 says

"युञ्जते मन उत युञ्जते धियो विप्रा विप्रस्य बृहतो विपश्चितः"

“The Rishis unite(The word Yunjatee, the verb derived from the root Yuj “To unite”, again Yoga is the verb derived from the same verb root yuj) the mind and intellect.”

Thus the concept of Yoga has existed since time immemorial though not in the present form. In the Taittriya Upanishad there is a reference to the word, the statement being “Yoga Atma| Mahafpucham pratishta”. “Yoga is the self and Mahat is the tail of the bird that is vijnana” Note the use of the Sankhya Tattva Mahat in the Upanishad. Various other Upanishads like the Katha, Brihadaranyaka Shvetashvatara etc have discussions about it. Especially the last one has very detailed one and discusses  yoga in tandem with sankhya philosophy.

Apart from this we can see references to Yoga in other darshanas. Kanata in his Vaisheshika sutra 5.2.15-5.2.16 states that

“Pleasure and pain results from contact of soul, sense, mind and object. Non-origination of that follows when the mind becomes steady in the soul. After it, there is non-existence of pain in the embodied soul. This is that Yoga.”

In the Nyaya sutras of Akshapada  in chapter 4 sutra 2 we see the following discussions.

We are instructed to practice meditation in such places as a forest, a cave or a sand-bank. Such possibilities [the opponent claims] may occur even in release. It is, we reply, not so, because knowledge must spring up only in a body already in the state of formation. And there is absence of a body in our release. For that purpose, there should be a purifying of our soul by abstinence from evil, and observance of certain virtues, as well as by following the spiritual injunctions gleaned from Yoga. To secure release [moksha], it is necessary to study and follow this treatise on knowledge [Yoga], as well as to hold discussions with those learned in that treatise.”

Both the above translations are taken from Wikipedia. Thus we see that other schools also recognize Yoga as a practical path to their metaphysics and theory.

Finally coming to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, even Vyasa is supposed to have authored a Bhashya on it.  There are other books and commentaries like those of Bhojha, Hemachandra etc.

To be continued....