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By Dr.Satish Prakash


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Aryasamajtoday is under the spiritual leadership of Satish Prakash, PhD., Vyakaranacharya. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Maharishi Dayananda Gurukula, NA, Inc. He can be reached at satishprakash@yahoo.com
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Why Haiti? Why so many innocent victims? Were they punished by God?   
January 24, 2010 by Shruti Bhushan Prakash

Why Haiti? Why so many innocent victims? Were they punished by God?

A Vedic Hindu Response offering an alternative explanation other than sin-based punishment by God

- a position taken by other World Religions.

 

 

Consider the disasters that resulted in large scale human death and suffering (man-made and natural) that have occurred in the recent past

·        Haiti earthquake - January 2010 - estimated 110,000 dead ( reference 2)

·        Earthquake - Kashmir region of Pakistan - October 2005 - estimated 73,000 dead (reference 1)

·        911 - Sep 11, 2001 attack on NYC - 2973 confirmed dead - reference 3

·        New Orleans flood - August 2005 - 1464 confirmed dead with thousands more victimized - reference 4

·        Tsunami 2004 - estimated deaths 150,000

·        The atomic bombs of Nagasaki and Hiroshima killed an estimated 200,000 people - reference 5

·        The list continues.

 

When we consider large scale deaths from a singular act of man or nature, we ask - Why so many lives? Is God a just God? What is the possible explanation for this kind of mass killing?

 

Response from People who Believe in God:

 

In an attempt to explain such mass killings, Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology invariably points to God dispensing punishment for "acts of sin - known or unknown". In fact, this is such a politically unpopular view, that Priests of Judeo-Christian-Islamic Religions generally go silent on the "why" questions related to such disasters. Not so for Mr. Pat Roberts who indicated recently that Haiti has been cursed because of "the pact with the Devil in its history" ( see reference 7) suggesting that the earthquake was in effect the wrath of God.

 

When such positions are challenged by rational thinking individuals, religionists will invariably present the "popular fall back measure - God works in mysterious ways!"

 

Response from People who DO NOT Believe in God:

 

In the following link is the perspective of the Buddhist movement - response: basically god does not exist - http://www.buddhanet.net/tsunami.htm

 

Atheist response: Richard Dawkins - Tsunami - Where was God? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-R6hx4qwyY . He mentions the God of the Physicists... an interesting concept which parallels the Vedic concept of god -  this will be explored in this Blog Series in due time.

 

Premise of the Atheist Response - Universal Application of Cause and Effect

 

Basically the atheists (including the Buddhist doctrines) present the argument that beyond the cause and effect of physics, there is nothing really to explain. Life is life and we are all subject to the chain reaction of the universal and ongoing execution of cause and effect - billions and billions of cause and effect transactions going on all the time in the universe. An earthquake just happens to be another set of cause and effect transactions. The effects of the Haiti earthquake simply result in human deaths and infrastructure destruction  - no more significant, in scientific terms,  than an ant walking on a branch and falling off due to the leaves shaking or drowning due to a rain droplet - all just cause and effect.

 

Is there an Alternative Explanation? Is there a Vedic Hindu Perspective?

YES.

 

Exploring a first level understanding of the Theory of Karma - this is widely understood in the world today:

 

·        What you sow is what you reap

·        Things happen to you for a reason - because it was in your karmic reward blueprint/profile to receive good or bad fortune.

·        Do good things and good things will come back to you

·        etc

 

Does the Karma Theory as presented above fully explain the mass killings of a natural or man-made disaster?

No.  Why?

·        because it sounds like a re-presentation of the same idea of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic concept that the suffering of the victims is a result of past "possibly sinful" actions.

·        because when one thinks rationally, it is implausible that tens of thousands of people would have a karmic reward blueprint/profile that would put them all in the same category of receiving the SAME reward  (negative experience) based on what they have individually done in the past.

o   Surely, the sum total effect of the individual acts of one person is UNIQUE and is not related to another

o   Hence, if the theory of karma ( as presented above)  is to apply,  then it would be illogical for one person to receive the same reward as tens or hundreds of thousands.

 

Perhaps the solution to these questions lies in a deeper understanding of the Theory of Karma

Can people receive a reward which they do not deserve?

 

A second look at the Theory of Karma

 

Let us examine a Unit of Karmic Transaction - note: a more detailed discussion of the Theory of Karma and its parallels to the Universal application of Cause and Effect will be presented in this Blog Series in due time.

 

Note: in reviewing the diagram below, it is important to understand that an effect is also a cause in a subsequent "unit" of cause and effect transaction - basically effects can also act as causes in a chain reaction. For example: Man shoots gun, bullet is moving, hits driver, driverless car hits fire hydrant, water jet wets sidewalk, bicycle swerve to avoid water jet, rider hits trucks and dies, Truck driver is depressed over guilt, truck driver family is affected and child leaves family etc.

 

 

 

 

 

The above diagram is presenting the notion that:

o   Man exists within an Environment

o   His own actions affect the environment - something that he can control karmically.

o   The actions of others also affect the environment - something he cannot control karmically

o   The actions of the Universe itself affect the environment - something Man cannot fully control karmically or physically (laws of physics)

o   The environment in which Man lives affects himself - the said environment outside of his full control.

o   Man, therefore cannot control what he receives all the time, from a karmic/mathematical point of view.

 

It is then plausible to surmise that MAN CAN AND WILL RECIEVE EFFFECTS FOR WHICH HE DOES NOT DESERVE FROM A KARMIC POINT OF VIEW.

 

If so, how does the Theory of Karma respond?

 

Understanding the Karmic Blueprint/Profile

 

See the diagram below:

 

 

The diagram above presents the notion that

·        When Man experiences "undeserved" effects from the uncontrolled environment in which he exists- similar to what may occur in mass killings due to man -made actions or natural actions, the Theory of Karma offers an explanation thru the concept of karmic credits.

·        Positive karmic credits are placed in his Karmic Profile to be "enjoyed/experienced" in the future - in this current cycle of birth and/or in future cycle(s) of birth.

 

 

Summary:

 

After the occurrences of mass killings as a result of natural disasters, Religion tends to keep silent on the explanation for this - the basis for this silence is deep-rooted in the doctrine that man somehow deserved such wrath from God - something that does not go down well in today's media and environment of political correctness. Concurrently, the Atheists use such opportunities to re-enforce the notion that God is Fiction - that a just and merciful God would not allow such pain and suffering. They conclude that the world is a mere result of cause and effect.

 

Vedic Hinduism offers an alternative theory capitalizing on the physics of cause and effect coupled with the age-old Hindu Doctrines of Karma and Re-incarnation.

 

I encourage a discussion on this subject – please post a reply below.

 

Shruti Bhushan Prakash is a member of the Arya Samaj Community. He is the author of this Blog entry and his views do not necessarily represent the views of MDG NA Inc.

References - internet links:

(1) http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100121/forbes_earthquake_cities_100124/20100124?hub=SciTech

(2) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8e7089d2-08f7-11df-ba88-00144feabdc0.html

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks

(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_Hurricane_Katrina_in_New_Orleans

(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks

(6) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/12/1227_041226_tsunami.html

(7) http://www.nypost.com/p/news/politics/white_house_advisor_rips_roberts_gBPigYhE2W6yifjMwwWjfN

ADDENDUM - RESPONSE TO A SERIES OF QUESTIONS FROM READER = MUNNA

Namaste Munna ji: I am grateful for this kind of intellectual response and thank you for your participation in this ongoing conversation. Your response has certainly taken this ongoing discussion to another level. The "web interface " which allows me to do this reply is not so designed to properly format my written response - so i have put my response as an addendum to the original blog entry.

Much of your questions relate to the nature of God and how God interacts with the Universe. I am working on a Blog entry entitled "God of the Physicists VS Vedic Concept of God" . Actually, the Physicists/Atheists have it largely  right except they have stopped short of the full analysis. Ask any great physicist about God and they will invariably respond - we can tell you how something works, we cannot tell you why it works ( example: we can tell you all the cause/effects transactions (HOW) to explain the net effect 'sugar tastes sweet" - we cannot tell you WHY sugar is sweet as opposed to neutral taste. At this point the physicists stop. Some will not bother to go further and may label themselves Atheists, others will delegate the continuing assessment to Religion. Judeo-Christian-Islamic Theology invariably fails to keep up with the logical expectations the Physicists require for ongoing meaningful discussion involving expertise from Science and Theology. Where Judeo-Christian-Islamic Theology fails, I propose that Vedic Theology will succeed.

Synopsis: God is the cause of all causes. The first cause - cause ZERO. God (Cause 0 ) has ignited the  Laws of Nature - without Cause 0 ( God) the Laws of Nature will fail to execute. With the influence of Cause 0, the Laws of Nature exhibit an automation/exactness with regard to execution. These Laws of Nature are:

·        Immutable

·        cannot be voided

·        are automatically executed

·        do not suffer change

The effects of Cause 0 (God) is precisely the engine that runs the Laws of Nature. Without Cause 0 (God), the Laws of Nature will fail to execute - in effect nullifying the Laws of Nature - a possibility that cannot be!

Munna ji, with this preamble, I will attempt to answer your questions as best as possible:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Questions Asked by Munna ji:

1. Who or what controls the universe, given that “ Man cannot fully control [it] karmically or physically (laws of physics)” and thus are subject to what nature doles out to him? Is it Cause and Effect – an endorsement of the atheists’ view? Is God aloof from the laws of nature?

With respect to the first question: Is  Cause and Effect – an endorsement of the atheists’ view?

Response: Yes with a qualification.

As indicated above, the Atheists/Physicists have failed to go into analysis of Cause 0 - God = Cause 0. Up until "just before Cause 0", the Physicists have it precisely right. They have failed to go further because of a failure of Religion to keep up with the expectations of logical assessments - something that Vedic Theology will solve.

With respect to the Second Question: Is God aloof from the laws of nature?

Response: Beyond Cause 0 -  God IS aloof.  Refer to the Satyaarth Prakash - God is not an enjoyer of the World, he does not participate in the world re: karma, actions.

Because of Cause 0, the Laws of Nature continue to execute - automatically, without change, never to fail to execute, never to be voided. Without Cause 0, the Laws of Nature cease to exist!. Hence God's participation in the World is at the Cause 0 level.

 If God were to intervene, it would mean that the effects of the Laws of Nature (cause/effect) would somehow yield "an insufficient " effect necessitating some sort of "adjustment" from God. This would suggest that Cause 0 created effects that were somehow imperfect requiring adjustment of effects. This is similar to Cause 0 not getting it right the first time because Intervention is needed to make it "right".

Summary: Yes - beyond Cause 0, God is aloof.

2. This blog informs me that if something bad happen to me – albeit undeservedly- I will acquire karmic credit which will cancel a commensurate amount of karmic debit. The apparent absurdity of this notion can be gleamed from this: according to this theory, someone is better off dying in the disaster rather than being pulled out of the rubble. A possible extension of this will be; if someone commits a crime against a child, such child will be compensated with karmic credit. A little thought will recognize how frivolous this is. Am I getting this right?

Response: No, you are not getting this right. In the interest of presenting a "shorter discussion" to aid in general read-ability of the original text of this Blog entry, I did not include the details the Karmic Credit Concept.

Here goes. I have attempted to communicate this in some mathematical terms as I suspect that you do have the skills to receive this kind of communication. Please read carefully.

Here is the formula

K1 = K0 - KD + F(KD)

KC = F(KD)

·        Let a person's Karmic State be designated as K

o   K is therefore the value that a person is attempting to maximize - in order to reach Nirvana - one may even say there is a threshold value for K such as KT  which needs to be achieved before a person (soul) is eligible for consideration for Nirvana

·        K1  = post disaster/event Karmic State

·        K0 = pre disaster/event Karmic State

·        Karmic Debit and Karmic Credit are designated as KD and KC respectively

·        F is a factor which represents the Soul's "degree of UN-deserved-ness" ( please allow the made up word for simplicity and communication purposes!)

o   F may take values > or =0 or  < = 1 ( greater than or equal to 0 or less than or equal to 1)

o   F is a variable ( variable depending on the karmic profile of the affected Soul).

o   This means for Soul 1, F may take a value of 0. 75

o   For Soul 2, F may take a value of 1 - which means that he is fully un-deserving of the Natural Disaster or event

o   For Soul 3, F may take a value of 0.1

o   For Soul 4, F may be equal to 0  - which means that he is fully deserving of the Natural Disaster or event.

·        Mathematically K1 is always less than or equal to K0

·        This means that the Karmic State of the Soul after the event cannot be "greater" than the Karmic State before the event - there is never a net benefit as a result of Karmic Credits!

·        Your conclusion is faulty that according to the Karmic Credit system: 

o   someone is better off dying in the disaster rather than being pulled out of the rubble.

§  The reason is that K1 is always less than or equal to K0

 

3. Pt. Hardeo Gopie asserts, “Om or God took matter and create and fashion this Cosmos for the benefit of the individual Souls” ( “Some Soul searching questions and answers" – Aug 2009). When this is juxtaposed with the advent of natural disasters the obvious questions are (a) Does natural disasters occur by divine fiat to benefit people? (b) How can you reconcile the diametrically opposite views of an omnipotent, omniscient, all powerful and merciful God with the presence of suffering caused by disasters or otherwise? This question has engrossed the minds of philosophers for ages.

 (a) Does natural disasters occur by divine fiat to benefit people?

·        Response: NO.  Natural disasters occur as a result of independent causes and effects. The question of NET benefit to people has been answered above based on the mathematical proposal that K1 is always less than or equal to K0 ( see above formula)

(b) How can you reconcile the diametrically opposite views of an omnipotent, omniscient, all powerful and merciful God with the presence of suffering caused by disasters or otherwise?

Response: The basic flaw in the above question lies in the following: The descriptors used to describe God such as "merciful, just etc" are human traits. These are not valid descriptors of God in Vedic Theology. When one accepts and realizes the Vedic Concept of God as Cause 0 - which is the engine of execution for ALL Laws of Nature ( the God of the Physicists), the puzzle you refer to above will cease to be a puzzle within the scope of the "Hypothesis presented here!"

 

4. Will you agree that karma is akin to determinism?

For readers who wish for a formal definiton of Determinsim and its various interpretations - see this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism

My short response here is that the Karma is a  combination of "Free Will" and "Cause and Effect" - with the strong position that Free Will and Determinism are NOT mutually exclusive.

So HARD determinism is not sanctioned in Vedic Theology because it removes the interaction of Free Will into the equation of cause and effect - the |Karmic Profile| is EVER evolving removing the possibility of "fixed" pre-determination

Summary: Karmic Profile is always in Flux due to Free Will and ongoing actions, hence "pre-determination- based on Cause/Effect" is correspondingly in Flux.

If I may be allowed a lighter comment, God does not work in mysterious ways!  He is the Mother of All Logicians, the Mother of All Physicists, the Mother of All Mathematicians. Vedic Theology is not at odds with Science - it is fully in sync. Scientists continually seek to discover, define and quantify causes based on logical assessments. Vedic Theologists strive to do the same thing at the Cause 0 Level , thru logical assessments.  Why should these 2 schools be at odds?  It is my hope that we continue to explore Vedic Theology in the highest of logical assessments - after all, this is the legacy of Swami Dayananda who has swept us from the depth of superstition to the World's Most Logical Belief System!

 

Again, my dear Munna ji - I appreciate your queries and thank you for taking this discussion to a higher level of presentation with respect to Vedic Theology.

Of course, as always, I invite discussion - please post a reply!

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ADDENDUM 2 - SECOND RESPONSE TO MUNNA JI

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


• "God is the cause of all causes. The first cause - cause ZERO." This is the cosmological argument, I will not rehash its philosophical refutation (Hume etc) since I want to stay on topic; suffice to say that it begs the following question: By a process of regression, why can I not say that God caused the tectonic plates to clash under Haiti? How can “Natural disasters occur as a result of independent causes and effects?” Isn’t the concept of casual independence a negation of The First Cause? Doesn’t the Theory of First Cause imply a cascade of cause and effect originating from it?

Response:

With this logic, God is "responsible" for all units of cause/effect transactions such as major natural disasters including mass killings AND including even the tiniest of effects such as

·       a dust particle to float randomly in a gust of wind blowing

·       a tsunami causing 200,000 deaths.

Yes, Cause 0 is the first cause of all causes. When we erroneously translate this to "God having responsibility" and we further superimpose "intention", the logic becomes fuzzy implying that Cause 0 is somehow duty bound to mitigate loss and reduce human suffering. After all any human being would do this, so why would God not do it?

Recall earlier presentation: The Laws of Nature are immutable, cannot be voided, are automatically executed and do not suffer change


• "…something that Vedic Theology will solve." Or has solved? Is it yet undiscovered? I do not mean to indulge in petty semantic quibbles; more importantly, I would be grateful to learn the solution.
Response:

No, this is not my intention. I merely intended that Vedic Theology is better equipped to deal with logical assessments and is more suited to engage the logical minds of Scientists versus Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology which purports God is either pleased or dis-pleased, will take anction or not take action to "engineer" an outcome pleasing to Him. In so doing He works in mysterious ways!

• "Yes - beyond Cause 0, God is aloof." I can intellectually rationalize this but how does this translate to my personal life? This is what I mean; if God is aloof – does not influence the laws of nature -how can He help me with my illness, how can He help my sick mother, how can He help the unemployed find a job, etc since He has no influence on the stream of existence?


Response:

This is the six million dollar question. The stark truth is that God does not help you with these issues.

Popular religion - Judeo-Christian-Islamic and even popular Hinduism would have us believe that praying to God will have our prayers answered. A deep sincere appeal to God will somehow appease Him and He will show mercy and grant us "positives" which will lessen our "negatives". Correspondingly, when we do not pray to Him, do not praise Him and do not remember Him, we somehow are in His "dis-favor" and bad things (negatives) happen to us. Refer to an earlier blog entry regarding the Logic of Prayer - http://www.aryasamajtoday.com/BlogContent.aspx?BID=9

Only thru the application of Man's Free Will and the immutable Laws of Nature ( Cause/Effect) can a person bring about a change in one's Karmic Profile resulting in "positives". So according to this hypothesis, the application of Free Will and Karmic Actions (Causes) are the only things one can do to help with " my illness", "my sick mother", "finding me a job" etc.

I am fully aware that there is a danger to the above statement - our community at large can ask - why pray? why do Havan? why chant the Mantras of the Vedas? why have Satsang? - I am contemplating a separate Blog entry for these questions.

 

• "This means that the Karmic State of the Soul after the event cannot be "greater" than the Karmic State before the event - there is never a net benefit as a result of Karmic Credits!" This is a rather categorical stance and seems to meet the requirements of Occam’s razor. I do not mean to digress or couch the response in technical jargon, you will, however, recognize what I am saying. What worries me is this: Is this thesis a necessary or contingent truth? I can argue that it is contingent, i.e. it is true but could be false. For it to be necessary, it has to be “true in all worlds” (http://www.answers.com/topic/necessary-contingent-truths).

Response:

It is probably a contingent truth.

 

Please allow me to stretch your argument a little; suppose after the earthquake someone finds something of value which the earth coughs up ( I concede that it is a figment of the imagination but can be conceived as possible)and is able to have a better life, can we say that there is no net benefit?

Response:

There is a net benefit in your example BUT the net benefit is coming from "multiple" units of Cause/Effect Transactions.

Example: Transaction 1: Receives a partially undeserving karmic debit. Is conmpensated based on factor F. K(1) is still less than K(0).

Transaction 2: Finds a "boon" in the earthquake - deserving...  new K(1) is now greater then new (K0)

So the sum of Transaction 1 and 2 yields an improved Karmic State where there is a net benefit.

Other than this I cannot quarrel with your mathematical model, it is intuitive. Would you agree that any regression mode( Y = B1 + B2 X)– will serve the same purpose? I ask because there are other factors (linearity, exogeneity etc ) to consider in the model. Not that I question the validity of your model, I just would like to know that it is robust enough to withstand intense scrutiny.

Response:  the formula K1 = K0 - KD + F(KD) is only a mathematical proposal.

I urge the Vedic Theology readership at large to propose alternatives as approriate.


• "The basic flaw in the above question lies in the following: The descriptors used to describe God such as "merciful, just etc" are human traits. These are not valid descriptors of God in Vedic Theology." I understand that the descriptors are anthropomorphic but Swami Dayanand employs them when he describes God as “just and merciful” ( Bharadwaja 207),“formless,” “ all- powerful”(208), and posits the attributes of God as “eternal knowledge, eternal bliss and omnipotence etc” (222).I am citing Dr. Chiranjiva Bharadwaja ‘s SatyarthPrakash, 4th ed.1991. Is that translation incorrect?


Response: I suspect that the translation is fine. A discussion with Dr Satish Prakash may clear this up further (satishprakash@yahoo.com). Here is my short response based on a quick review of the Satyaarth Prakash (translated by Dr Satish Prakash, 2007 Chapter 7, 7:10, page 7)

The specific question is discussed - Is God Both Just and Merciful?

The answer Swami Dayananda provides is "yes" to both questions - in effect nullifying the question as a matter of argument. In actuality, God has "no choice mathematically speaking" because "being both just and merciful" is to simply allow the Laws of Cause/Effect (Karma, Laws of Nature, Man's Free Will) to execute. An unjust and unmerciful God would interfere with the natural outcomes of these Laws in order to engineer an outcome that is "more desirable" than the "natural outcome"...

 

The folly is in the human attribute we attempt to superimpose on God (Cause 0)

Namaste, Shruti Prakash

Feb 4, 2010

A special thanks to Munna ji for his outstanding contribution to this ongoing conversation.

 

 

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