Wednesday, September 30

What if?? St.Constantine - Pagan or Saint? (Part 1 of 2)

#2. What if Saint Constantine the Great had lost the battle of the Milvian Bridge?

 It is amazing to know that many eccentric historical accounts of some Emperors have resulted in the propagation, governance and strengthening of certain religions in the world. And it is really surprising to find out that even the ritual structure of some of these religions has been changed in accordance to the Emperor's interests. The funniest part I observed is that in spite of knowing all these things, the 'created and modified rituals' that were formed by priests from the command of some Emperor are still being followed by people today as culture and tradition attaching to them a tag line of 'sanctity'.

Coming to the story of Constantine I the Great, one can understand why I started off this post mentioning eccentric historical accounts. Actually, Constantine I is being regarded as 'Saint' only by some Eastern Orthodox Churches. For the remaining Christian community that accept sainthood of mortal people, he is considered as 'The Great' for his contribution to the religion of Christianity.

Before discussing the history that led me to ask the above question, I think we need to discuss the administration of the Roman Empire. Before Diocletion established Tetrarchy in the Roman Empire, there was dictatorship by the emperor and the emperors were considered as incarnations of the Roman pagan Gods. We all know that the Roman empire was founded by Romulus and Remus who were the sons of the Roman mythological war God, Mars. Also, the Roman pagan Gods are related to one another and so the Emperors used to have their own lineage from the Gods. Hence, it was the Emperors, not the Gods, that used to be crazy !!

This establishment of a Godly lineage was much regarded by the Roman emperors as well as the public. Why we need to stress on this is that Constantine was the son of Flavius Constantius with Helena, whom Constantius did not marry. Hence, there had always been an illegitimate lineage associated with Constantine and he had done many things in his life to mask it. The magnitude of his eccentricity is so much that he changed his lineage from the Roman pagan Gods twice in his life to mask this illegitimacy. Well, the controversy and confusion in his personality comes when one considers the time line in which he did all these things.

We all know that Constantine abolished Tetrarchial administration, established monarchy and Christianity in the Roman Empire and hence became the founder of the Holy Roman Empire and orthodox Roman Catholic Christianity. He summoned the first council of Nicaea and his efforts were also spent on bringing out the 340 Bibles for the Constantinople church. It is not at all a controversial statement when it is said that these early 340 Bible versions are the basis for the present day Holy Bible versions, let it be the orthodox Catholic Bibles or the popular King James version of the Holy Bible that we see today.

What makes Constantine, the very founder of the Holy Roman Empire, who established Sunday as the sabbath day for orthodox Christianity, elevated the Cross, convened the Christian councils that formed the ritual structure of Christianity (that are even followed today), an eccentric and controversial person is his Paganism itself!! I am mentioning a couple of them in this post. He declared himself as a Christian at the age of forty but he was baptized on his death bed!! He had kept his lineage of the Roman Pagan Gods even after the establishment of Holy Roman Empire!! 

I shall be discussing the historical events in the necessary detail that led Constantine establish the Holy Roman Empire in the part 2 of this post. We shall also try to look at the controversial personality of St.Constantine in the next post.

When one tries to understand the motives behind all the things Constantine had done to Christianity, one really wonders at the hard and bitter form of truth that history carries with itself even though a label of 'sanctity' is associated to many of these things today. Honestly speaking, I am not criticizing the rituals or the doctrine of any religion here. As I have stated in the "What if?? Prologue" post, I was rather amazed by the contrasting historical accounts that led to the propagation and acclaim of different religions and wanted to share them in my blog. Moreover, I am of an opinion that no person in this world is eligible to criticize  the Doctrine, Rituals and Revelations of any religion. It is similar to criticizing the path of one's life and hence should be strictly forbidden.

Any contradicting comments?

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Sunday, September 20

What if?? Asoka and Buddhism

#1. What if the empire of Asoka the Great had not expanded from Iran to Assam on one extreme and from Tajikistan to the peninsula of Tamil Nadu on another extreme before he waged the Kalinga war?

The history of Buddhism in the world is really fascinating. May be it is the one of the few religions in the world that had been propagated without the means of persecution, crusades, violence and bloodshed. And the most important thing in Buddhist kingdoms is the parliamentary democratic social system employed by the rulers. It is not at all a biased statement when it is stated that "Asoka is definitely comparable to Alexander, Augustus Caesar, Genghis Khan, Timur and Napoleon I except that Asoka was not extra ambitious and did not employ persecution and crusades". Any way, we need to study the both sides of Asoka- his life before the Kalinga war and after the war.

Asoka had several elder brothers and was always envied of his valor and impeccable warrior general qualities. He, in fact, was blood thirsty and successfully ended many military uprisings within the vast kingdom of the Mauryan dynasty. After the suppression of military revolt in Taxsila (East Pakistan), he was sent into exile by his father for the fear of Asoka's murder by his brothers. He was later summoned to handle the uprising at Ujjain. During this battle in which he won, he was badly injured and was treated in hiding in a Buddhist monastery. It was the first time when he was exposed to Buddhist teachings and principles by Buddhist monks and nuns. He had even married a Buddhist woman during his hiding.

Due to his marriage to a Buddhist which was unacceptable that time, Asoka was sent away from Pataliputra  and was made the governor of Ujjain. One of his brothers tried to murder his new born son at Ujjain but in vain. In a fit of rage, Asoka attacked Pataliputra where his brother was hiding and executed him. He became the emperor of Mauryan empire. He later went to Kalinga where his another brother who was also involved in the murder plan was hiding and tried to capture him. Due to the resistance offered by the king of Kalinga, Asoka waged a historical battle against Kalinga and took his vengeance. In this Kalinga war, some 11 hundred thousand people were killed and Asoka repented for this bloodshed caused by him and adopted Buddhism.

Before waging the Kalinga war, Emperor Asoka expanded his kingdom from Iran to Assam on one extreme and Tajikistan to Tamil Nadu on another extreme waging many wars. After adopting Buddhism, he stopped violence and sent many monks to China, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Egypt and the Middle East to spread Buddhism. One thing we need to consider here is that the neighboring kingdoms of the Mauryan Empire were no match to the Mauryan warfare tactics and were afraid of the bloody history of Asoka and hence did not dare to wage wars even after his adoption of Buddhism. Moreover, it is evident that Mauryan empire was too vast an empire to conquer in a swiftly timed war.

Now what if the empire of Asoka the Great had not expanded from Iran to Assam on one extreme and from Tajikistan to the peninsula of Tamil Nadu on another extreme before he waged the Kalinga war? Many wars would had been waged by the neighboring kings and the Mauryan empire would be destroyed. Then there would not be Teravada Buddhism and its other derivatives in China, Tibet, Cambodia, Sri Lanka. There would not be Taoism from whose principles many martial arts like Kung fu, Ninjutsu, etc., are evolved. There would not be the 24 spoke Asoka Chakra on the Indian flag !!

So, has Buddhism sustained in the world today only due to the vast empire and bloody history of an emperor who ruled some 2300 years back? One thing here, the only reason Buddhism is not predominant in the world today is that the Buddhist emperors did not resort to persecution, crusades, holocausts and bloodshed for its propagation.

Any contradicting comments??

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Saturday, September 5

YSR.. the visionary??

Well.. I m not stopping the 'What if??' series.. I shall continue it by providing discussions to the posted questions..

As we all know, it was a major tragedy for the AP state Congress yesterday. YSR has been missing since Wednesday. After 24 hrs his track on air was lost, the chopper was traced and his body was recovered. By that time, a long night in the jungle along with a deal of rainfall sufficiently heavy to decompose the burnt body has happened and the body was eventually wrapped up in clothes for display.

I've been rather bewildered at the media's (all regional news channels) remarks about YSR for the last 3 days, to be honest. First of all, they started off with quotes like 'The visionary leader missing', 'Our beloved CM missing', etc., As time progressed by and finally when his death was declared at the crash site, the quotes were changed to 'The greatest visionary leader', 'Apara bhagiratha', 'The best CM till date', etc., Keeping this aside, even after 9 hrs have passed after the chopper had gone missing and search operations were going on, they were still debating during the night on the reasons why "YSR has not communicated yet".

This shows how much ignorant the media (regional news channels) are about chopper crashes. First of all, its not the duty of the 'Visionary CM' to communicate if there has been an emergency landing. It is the protocol of the pilot when an emergency landing really happens and he will definitely stick to it. Secondly, when a chopper has gone missing without any 'distress signal', after some time of no communication from pilot, it can be safely assumed that it is not good news. Of all the TV channels that did an exclusive coverage on this search mission, only CNN-IBN was pointing to these really significant points. In contrast to this, the regional channels were simply encouraging the innocent average viewer to pray to God that YSR would return safe and continues to hold the office !!

In addition to this, the very news channels, that discussed about the failures of YSR's last term and stuff a week before he died, started regarding him as 'The greatest visionary CM', 'Apara bhagiratha', etc., Now I ask this question, "Does a person really become a hero after he has died?" It is not any kind of rule that we need to regard people by false praises when they die. A person's deeds, whether they are good or bad, will always remain the same even if he dies. No one needs to mask either the good things or the bad things. It would be sheer 'unintelligent hypocrisy' if one does so.

Talking about YSR in particular, many people who offered their condolences on-screen regarded him as 'The greatest visionary leader'. I could not understand how he was visionary. It is true that YSR did not care about creating wealth in the state in his term of 5 years. He simply distributed and increased freebies like Pensions, Fee reimbursements, Houses and the highly regarded Arogyasri, etc., Its a hard fact that he did not even bother about losing huge projects like Volkswagon and Tata Nano which would increase the productivity of the state, boost the economy of AP and create some lakhs of jobs. Lets not forget how much passive he has been in the KG basin issue recently.

Coming to the aspect of agricultural focus which, according to YSR, was given the highest priority in the last term, we have seen a complete U turn. Even the much awaited 'Polavaram project' has seen nothing more than a foundation stone that was laid some 4 years back. In spite of the good rainfall for the last 5 years, the agricultural productivity has not increased much. The price of rice has got tripled now and no comments on the price of Red gram (its around 120 INR per kg in AP presently). And YSR recently  in an assembly session advised the people of Andhra to take 'sturdy rice' and 'mattar' instead of the above foods !!

In this way 'The multi-faceted YSR' has also become a nutritional expert  giving senseless diet charts to people instead of giving a subsidy on food items in the recently proposed state budget. Even the state budget was ridiculous. Only 26 crores of capital expenditure were allocated for Energy and industries whereas 15,361 crores were for agriculture and  irrigation. 532 crores were allocated to health, uplift of scheduled castes and housing. Only God knows how many crores in these 15361+532 would be misused in the single year of 2009.

I did not mean that increasing pensions, giving fee reimbursements and freebies is wrong. But at the same time, much focus needs to be given on the 'wealth creating schemes'. The Government cannot simply allocate its annual budget to distribute freebies. The tax money needs to be used for these welfare activities. Increasing employment opportunities creates wealth and increases the number of tax payers. This in turn needs to be allocated for the freebies and stuff. Simply ignoring these things and running the state will definitely increase the 'vote-bank' for the party. But it would simply destroy the state's economy somewhere in the near future.

YSR was definitely 'The greatest visionary' in the perspective of AP congress party. But he is 'One of the worst Administrators' in the perspective of AP state welfare. One thing here, he does not become a 'great leader' when he gets elected for the second term by means of freebies. Even if common people embrace him, the facts speak for themselves and it would be totally the stupidity of someone who ignores these things.

I thank myself for not presenting the scandals in which YSR faced several allegations in this post. Its ironic that YSR is finally buried at 'Idupulapaya' which has become the biggest land scandal in the beginning of his previous term.

May his soul rest in the very magnitude of peace that he created in the state !! I think this is a fair statement.

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