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Off to the Moon

As the debate continues on if it is prudent to spend money on space missions while there are other needs, it is worth reading how NASA helped invent Silicon Valley.

But if you’d visited the region in 1930, all you’d have seen was a two-lane highway cutting through acres and acres of nothing but farmland and tiny hamlets, and not even a hint of what would someday become arguably the most important commercial technology center in the world.

In December of that year, however, word came that the U.S. Navy was going to open an air station in Sunnyvale, Calif., one that would handle gigantic airships and that would need a mammoth hangar.

The result? The Sunnyvale Naval Air Station, later known as NASA Moffett Field. And today, Moffett is home to NASA’s Ames Research Center, a facility that is at the heart of Silicon Valley, both geographically and figuratively. In 1930 the region didn’t know what was about to arrive, but it soon realized how much change was coming. [How NASA helped invent Silicon Valley – CNET News]

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Stop Praying to Hindu

Sen. John McCain’s campaign has been attracting such extreme elements that the candidate himself has been forced to defend his opponent.

In the next clip McCain is speaking up close with a woman in the audience who says she can’t trust Obama and then blurts out that it’s because he’s “Arab”. Some reports have it that she said ‘Arab terrorist’. But at least on this tape only ‘Arab’ is audible.

McCain shakes his head, as though losing his patience and snatches the mic back out of woman’s hands. “No, Ma’am. No, Ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” Again, there’s a lot there when you actually see the video. And I encourage you to watch.[Talking Points Memo | Weird. Sad. Surreal]

Today at a McCain rally at Davenport Pastor Arnold Conrad, who gave the invocation, said:

I would also add, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.[Think Progress » Minister delivers divisive invocation at McCain event. (Updated with audio)]

To paraphrase Swami Vivekananda, “What have the people who pray to Hindu done to get such dumb bigots?.” Compared to Pastor Arnold Conrad, the hate mongers who wrote the Satyadarshini pamphlet are Einsteins.

Also, a quick note to Pastor Conrad: Our God, Hindu, is not interested in a sophomoric “mine is bigger than yours” competition. Mostly it is because our God, Hindu, is not a God. He is an It — the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe.

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The Conversion Agenda

“It was Brahma himself who kidnapped Sita. Since Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv were themselves the victims of lust, it is a sin to consider them as gods.” (page 39)

“When Vishnu asked Brahma to commit a sin, he immediately did so. How can such a ‘evil Brahma’ be a Creator of this Universe? How is it possible for both the sinner and the entity which provoked the sin to be gods?” (page 39)

“God, please liberate the sinful people of India who are worshipping ‘f’alse gods’ that believe in the pleasures of illicit ‘vyabhichari’ relationships.” (Page 39)[Seriously Sandeep » Burden of the Cross: My Op-ed in Pioneer]

Those are quotes from a nefarious pamphlet distributed by an evangelist organization called New Life in Karnataka. Their goal – convert people to Christianity by denigrating Hindu gods and goddesses.

Though conversions have been going on for 2000 years since the time of Paul, for Indians one of the biggest challenges happened during the British rule. This was a time when evangelicals openly treated Hinduism with condescension.

In 1792 from Charles Grant, a British politician and Evangelical, proposed English education instead of Indian vernaculars mainly as a way to undermine what he called the Hindu fabric of error. Introduction of English, he reasoned, would show Hindus how absurd their religion was and dispel many of their myths. The spread of English arts, science and philosophy, along with the spread of Christianity, according to Mr. Grant, would enable the Indian people to rise to the level of human beings.

Initially the East India Company maintained a policy of religious neutrality even denying permission to missionaries to work in the country. When the charter of the East India Company came for renewal before the Parliament in 1813, the Evangelicals, including Zachary Macaulay, father of Thomas Macaulay, had become influential as to add a provision allowing missionaries to enter the country legally, as well as provide public funding for Indian education.

Trevelyan, Thomas Macaulay’s brother-in-law, was sure that English education would bring the end of the idolatrous religion of India since Hinduism was not a religion which would bear examination. All that was needed, according to him, was to prove that the world did not rest on the back of a tortoise or is it composed of concentric circles of wine, cake and milk and the religion would be gone. The enlightened natives would need a religion and they would go for Christianity.

One such gentleman, a Professor of Philosophy from Poland named Krezenski came to meet Gandhji on January 2, 1937. Prof. Krezenski told Gandhiji that Catholicism is the only true religion and if he converted he would be as great as St. Francis. Gandhiji had a simple question: why can’t a poor Hindu be St. Francis?

The reason is that both religions are not equal. In the market place of monotheism, there may be tolerance for other religions, but they do not believe that all religions are equal. They sincerely believe, since the days of Akhenaten, that there is only one way — their way — and that is the correct way. It then becomes their moral responsibility to show the heathens the correct way.

The correct way is shown by denigrating what is held sacred by the vast majority of the population following examples set by Saudi Arabian school texts and Taliban madrassas. Fed up with the missionary material, Gandhiji wrote

The outward condition has perhaps changed but the inward mostly remains. Vilification of Hindu religion, though subdued, is there. If there was a radical change in the missionaries’ outlook, would Murdoch’s books be allowed to be sold in mission depots? Are those books prohibited by missionary societies? There is nothing but vilification of Hinduism in those books. [Vol 67]

Swami Vivekananda wrote to the Hindus of Madras from United States

What is meant by those pictures in the school-books for children where the Hindu mother is painted as throwing her children to the crocodiles in the Ganga? The mother is black, but the baby is painted white, to arouse more sympathy and get more money. If all India stands up, and takes all the mud that is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and throws it up against the Western countries, it will not be doing an infinitesmal part of that which you are doing to us.”[Complete Works]

This caused Swamiji to ask a rhetorical question, “What have the Hindus done to these disciples of Christ that every Christian child is taught to call the Hindus “vile”, and “wretches”, and the most horrible devils on earth?.”

The missionary tactics have not changed since the days of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. As Maoists mysteriously kill Hindu swamis and rape victims miraculously appear, there is little discussion on the material created and distributed by the missionaries. Their literature needs to be collected and displayed for it will expose them for what they really are: peddlers of hate in the name of a Palestinian Jew who preached love.

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Pragati: October 2008 Issue

Issue Contents

PERSPECTIVE
Asian growth in an American vaccuum
A stronger rupee is the path ahead for India
V Anantha Nageswaran

Frontline worry in the war on terror
Washington must learn to do without a friendly Pakistani general
Nikolas Gvosdev

Fewer laws, more efficient enforcement
There are no shortcuts in the battle against terrorists
Ravikiran S Rao

Towards a new anti-terrorism policy
A seven-point programme
Nitin Pai

IN DEPTH

The Vajpayee-Manmohan doctrine
The moorings of contemporary Indian foreign policy
Dhruva Jaishankar

FILTER
Washington’s Pakistan strategy; Pakistan’s westward drift; The next chapter
Vijay Vikram

ROUNDUP
A new millennium in science
India’s scientific output has risen sharply since 2000
Christopher King

An electric imperative
Bringing power sector reforms back onto the national agenda
Gulzar Natarajan

BOOKS
American Indians
A review of Vinay Lal’s The Other Indians
Chandrahas Choudhury

Read excerpts | Download

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Constantine's Dream

(Constantine’s dream)

The Battle of Milvian Bridge which was fought between Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius on October 28, 312 was important because Constantine won and it resulted in the end of Tetrarchy, a system by which four emperors ruled the Roman empire. It was also important because on one night of the battle, Constantine claimed that he had a vision from God

It is commonly stated that on the evening of October 27, with the armies preparing for battle, Constantine had a vision which lead him to fight under the protection of the Christian God. The details of that vision, however, differ between the sources reporting it. It is believed that the sign of the cross appeared and Constantine heard “In this sign, you shall conquer” in Greek. [Vision of Constantine]

Constantine, besides being the first Christian Roman Emperor also by the Edict of Milan made professing Christianity not a crime.

There is a scene in The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus: A Novel by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear where one of the protagonists mentions this battle. The monk Cyrus, who once was a soldier with Constantine, tells Kalay the washer woman that Constantine was sitting in his tent all day drinking wine looking for a way to motivate the troops. Constantine knew he had to come up with a myth; either a cross of light or the letters chi-rho (the first two letters in the Greek spelling of the word Christ)

While that was fiction, the truth is not far away. Eusebius of Caesarea spoke to Constantine and wrote in Life of Constantine

when Constantine “was praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven” (Eusebius, Life of Constantine,1.28). The famous sign in the sky was a cross of light, with theinscription, “Conquer by this”. Eusebius goes on: “At this sight hehimself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle.”[The Resurrection of Jesus as Mass Hallucination]

Another Christian writer Lactantius who was a contemporary of Constantine had a slightly different version.

Lactantius’ early account places the vision of the cross in Constantine’s dream, and on the night before. So, Constantine’s vision is not shared by his army and it is a nighttime dream rather than a vision. [The Resurrection of Jesus as Mass Hallucination]

Thus in Constantine’s time itself one version of the story had the sign as a dream; another as a sign seen by the whole army. Thus a myth was created.

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