A Hindu joke

THE RED PHONE

There was a simple and little Hindu priest who lived in Mathura. Once he had the chance to go visit the Pope at the Vatican in Italy. After traveling to the Vatican, he walked up the steps and through the halls of the opulent building where the Pope stayed. He looked in awe at the beautiful marble floors and majestic columns. Then he came into the Pope’s office and he greeted the Pope who was seated behind his desk. The little Hindu priest sat nearby and they exchanged pleasantries. Then the Hindu priest noticed a red phone sitting at the end of the desk. So the Hindu priest asked what it was.

“Oh, that’s my hotline to God,” replied the Pope. “Whenever things get too difficult and I need to have a personal talk with God, I give Him a call.”

“Oh,” said the priest. “Would you mind if I tried it?”

“No, not at all,” the Pope responded.

So the little Hindu priest picked up the phone, dialed the number, and sure enough, he got through to God. So he offered his respects and prayers, said he was very happy to talk to Him, and then hung up the phone after only five minutes. He was a simple priest and did not have much more to say to God. He then thanked the Pope for the privilege of using the special red phone.

The Pope replied, “Oh that is quite all right. By the way, that will be $75.”

“Seventy-five dollars?” inquired the Hindu priest.

“Oh yes,” said the Pope. “You know, long distance charges. It’s a long way from here to God, you know.”

So the priest pulled out his wallet and gave the pope the seventy-five dollars.

Several months later, the Pope had the opportunity to visit India, and it was arranged for him to come to Mathura and visit the little Hindu priest. So the Pope approached the little hut of the Hindu priest, ducking his head as he walked through the door. He sat in a chair in front of the little table where the Hindu priest was pleased to again meet the Pope. They exchanged greetings when the Pope noticed the same kind of red phone on the priest’s table as he had at the Vatican. So the Pope asked what that was.

“Why, I also have a hotline to God,” replied the Hindu priest.

“Do you mind if I use it?” asked the Pope. “I really have a lot on my mind.”

“Please do,” responded the priest.

So the Pope got on the phone and got a good connection and managed to get through to God. He offered his prayers, but then had many things to discuss. He talked about the trouble in the Vatican, the difficulties with the priests and legal charges in the United States, the changing attitudes of the congregation in England and Europe, and so on. Fifteen minutes went by, then a half-hour, then finally after nearly an hour he was able to put the phone down. Then he said, “Thank you very much. I feel a lot better now. I had so much to talk about. By the way, how much will that be?”

The Hindu priest thought a moment and then said, “Two rupees.”

“What,” the Pope replied, surprised at how inexpensive it was. “Why so cheap?”

“You don’t know?” asked the little Hindu priest. “Here it is a local call.”

 

 

 

By Jura Nanuk

Mahatma Gandhi

Graffiti of Mahatma Gnadhi, San Francisco, USA

I feel deep respect for Mahatma Gandhi, the only person in the history of this planet who defeated a great empire by adhering to the principles of strict non-violence. Gandhi managed to liberate India from British colonialism without firing a single bullet. In his book Non-Violent Resistance – Satyagraha, published in 1950, Mahatma Gandhi explained in great detail his philosphy and his fight for freedom. Gandhi defined Styagraha as “literally holding on o Truth and it means, therefore, Truth-force. Truth is soul or spirit. It is therefore, known as soul-force. It excludes the use of violence because man is not capable of knowing the absolute truth and, therefore, not competent to punish.” Here is an excerpt from his book: 

I accept the interpretation of ahimsa [Sanskrit – nonviolence], namely, that it is not merely a negative state of harmlessness but it is a positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer. But it does not mean helping evil-doer to continue the wrong or tolerating it with passive acquiescence [submitting or complying silently or without protest]. On the contrary, love, the active state of ahimsa, requires you to resist the wrong-doer by dissociating [disconnecting] yourself yourself from him even though it may offend him or injure him physically. Thus if my son lives a life of shame, I may not help him to do so by continuing to support him; on the contrary, my love for him requires me to withdraw all support from him although it may mean even his death. And the same love imposes on me obligation of welcoming him to my bosom when he repents. But I may not by physical force compel my son to become good. That in my opinion is the moral of the story of the Prodigal Son.”

Mahatma Gandhi became international symbol for nonviolence, in the same way how Che Guevara became international symbol of revolution. His real name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, while ‘Mahatma’ is honorary spiritual title meaning Great Soul [Sanskrit – maha, great, and atma soul]. Gandhi was awarded this title in 1914 when he was 45 years old. This title might be roughly compared to modern Christian term ‘Saint. Although the title ‘Mahatma’ is described in several Vedic scriptures including Bhagavad Gita, very few people in history achieved it. In Bhagavad-Gita, lord Krishna said: 

bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” 

Gandhi’s philosophy and his work inspired human right activist of his time and will continue to inspire generations to come. 

VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM: The whole world is one family

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (Sanskrit: वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम. from “vasudha”, the earth; “iva”, is ; and “kutumbakam”, family) is a Sanskrit phrase that means that the whole world is one single family.

The concept originates in the Vedic scripture Maha Upanishad (Chapter 6, Verse 72):

अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसां उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकं 
ayam bandhurayam neti ganana laghuchetasam udaracharitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam

Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family.

This concept is also mentioned in another Vedic text, Hitopadesha: “Udāracharitānām tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, meaning, “‘This is my own relative and that is a stranger’ – is the reasoning  of the narrow-minded; for the noble hearts, however, the entire earth is but one family”, and is considered an integral part of the Hindu Philosophy.

The statement is not just about peace and harmony among the societies in the world, but also about a truth that somehow the whole world has to live by some rules like a family, set by an unknowable source. Just by contemplating this idea and by at least trying to live by it and practice it in our lives, we could make this world a better place.

Tranquilized by the false security our modern technology provide us we too often tend to forget about how fragile the life is on this planet. While ‘preparing’ our instant dinners in our microwave oven after another day at the office we tend to forget that food is not coming from the supermarket but from a star 150 million kilometers away which gives light and energy to plants which feed as and the animals too. Whether we like it or not, whether aware of it or not, we are the part of a fragile ecosystem we are all dependable on and responsible for.

With every animal species going extinct we are losing part of our own survival, a part of ourselves. It is not possible to harm another human being or any other life form without harming a small part of ourselves. This beautiful idea contained in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam was artfully presented by James Cameron in his movie Avatar.

Avatar broke many Hollywood records of number of viewers and profits earned and won hearts of millions of people around the world. Beside its interesting screenplay, talented actors and fascinating special effects, philosophy of alien humanoid race Navi portrayed in the movie deeply touched everyone who saw it. Their philosophy might be summed up as simply Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Not sure what would James Cameron say about it, but if I meet him I will definitely ask him if choosing blue as the skin color of that wise and sane race had anything to do with Krishna being of the same color as well.

PS: I didn’t meet James Cameron, but I did find a youtubevideo in which he is explaining the connection between his movie and Hinduism. You can see it below.

Indian numerals and Vedic mathematics

Long time ago when I was learning mathematics in elementary school, teacher told us that the numbers we use are called Arabic numerals. She told us Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.)  were much more advanced that the Roman ones (I, II, III, etc.) and said  the great invention of Arabic mathematicians was the number 0 (zero).

Many years after finishing school, while on a trip to Middle East, I was looking at the poster glued on the wall of a building. It was in Arabic and since I don’t speak Arabic the only thing I could understand from it were the numbers. One thing didn’t make sense – while Arabic language is written from right to left, Arabic numbers are written from left to right. Why would  Arabs write letters in one direction, and the numbers in the opposite direction? Since it obviously didn’t make sense I did a short Internet research and found out that so called Arabic numbers are actually Indian numbers or Hindu numerals. That famous 0 (zero) was not an invention of Arab mathematicians, but of Indian ones. Persians and Arabs were using the numbers their eastern neighbors – Indians -were using. And through trade and other contacts Arabs and Persians had with European merchants and travelers 1.500 years ago, those numbers came to Europe. As European merchants and travelers got those numerals from Arabs, they started to be called ‘Arab numerals’.

Not only did we get numerals from India, but many mathematical discoveries as well. Famous Pythagorean theorem which you might still remember from your school years, which says that in any right triangle, the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares whose sides are the two legs (the two sides that meet at a right angle), was explained in Indian Vedic scriptures long time before Greek mathematician Pythagora was born.

Vedic mathematics comes from Shulba Sutra (sometimes spelled as Sulbasutra), Vedic scriptures containing geometric instructions for building fire-altars. ‘Shulba sutra’ is Sanskrit for ‘the codes of the rope’, as the rope was used for measuring. One of the rules which latter become Pythagorean theorem was the following:

The rope which is stretched along the length of the diagonal or a rectangle produces an area which the vertical and horizontal sides make together.

Beside advanced geometry, ancient Indian mathematicians had some simple and interesting ways of calculating different mathematical operations, mostly unknown to mathematicians today. They discovered some relations between numbers which can be used to mentally perform some calculations. For example they had a rule about multiplying two-digit numbers with 11. For example,

45 x 11 can be simply be calculated by writing down numbers 4 and 5 and inserting between them their sum: 4 (4+5) 5 or 495.

Another interesting rule was calculating the square of two-digit numbers ending with five. Fo example,

352 = 35 x 35    The last two digits will always be 25, and first two digits you will find by multiplying first digit with its next digit. In the case of 35 the first digit is 3 and you multiply its with next number which is number 4. To find square of 35 you write down 25 and add in front of it the result of 3×4. The result is 1225.

Let’s try again with number 75:

752 = 75 x 75   Two last digits are 25, first two digits are 7 x 8, The result is 5625.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Here is video on which you can learn some more tricks. Hope you will like it.