Category Archives: Food for Thought

Commitment in Wedded Life


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Commitment in wedded life is not what everyone imagines it to be.

Commitment is not cuddling together in bed until both fall asleep peacefully.

Commitment is not waking up early every morning to make breakfast and eating together.

Commitment is not to have a spick and span home and a home-cooked meal every day.

Commitment is to love someone who hogs all the bed covers. It is to love someone who disagrees and at times slams the door with a few harsh words to boot.

Commitment is to heal both ruptured hearts by forgiving usually followed by ‘silence’ for a day or two.

Commitment is coming home every day to the same person who loves and cares about you, in spite of what or who you are. It is about still loving someone who at times makes you insane.

Commitment is laughing about the times you inadvertently did stupid things.

Commitment is about dirty laundry and unmade beds without finger pointing.

Commitment is swallowing the nagging words at the tip of your tongue instead of blurting them out loud.

Commitment is helping each other during lean times. It is eating the cheapest meal you can cook and eating it together after a hectic day.

Commitment is when you have an emotional breakdown, and your love holds you and whispers everything is going to be alright, and you believe those words.

Commitment is staying with the person you love who might not be the perfect person of your dreams, and would be hard at times, but is an amazing and comforting person you will ever come across.

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The Tale of the Sanskrit Text “Vaimānika Shāstra”


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A Vimana of Indian texts (Source : ceifan.org)
A Vimana of Indian texts (Source : ceifan.org) : ceifan.org)

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In 1951, a person named G.R. Josyer founded the “International Academy of Sanskrit Research” in Mysore. In 1952, he came across the Vaimānika Shāstra manuscripts written in Sanskrit. In 1959, a Hindi translation of Vaimānika Shāstra was published.

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Title page of the English translation of Vyamanika Shastra published in 1973.
Title page of the English translation of Vyamanika Shastra published in 1973.

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In 1973, Josyer published an English translation of the text along with the Sanskrit text titled VYMAANIKA-SHAASTRA OR SCIENCE OF AERONAUTICS.

The Vaimānika Shāstra contains 3000 slokas in 8 chapters. The 1973 edition came out with illustrations drawn by T. K. Ellappa, a draughtsman at a local engineering college in Bangalore, under the direction of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry.

 RUKMA VIMANA
Rukma Vimana Profile (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Rukma Vimana Plan of base or pitha (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
Rukma Vimana Plan of top and steering floors (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Rukma Vimana Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 SUNDARA VIMANA
Sundara Vimana Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Sundara Vimana Plan of base or pitha (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
Sundara Vimana Floors (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Sundara Vimana Vertical Section - 2 (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 TRIPURA VIMANA
 Tripura Vimana Cross Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Electrical Power Generator - Sectional Elevation (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 Electrical Power Generator - Top View (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Tripura Vimana Perspective View and Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
SHAKUNA VIMANA
 Shakuna Vimana - Perspective view (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Shakuna Vimana - Vertical Section at the Wing Joint (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 Shakuna Vimana - Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Shakuna Vimana - Horizontal Section - Lengthwise (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)

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The book Vymanika-Shastra gained favour among the proponents of theories about space travel by ancient Indians.

In the foreword to the 1973 edition of Vymanika-Shastra, Josyer wrote:

On 25-8-1952 the Mysore representative of the Press Trust of India, Sri N.N. Sastry, sent up the following report which was published in all the leading dailies of India, and was taken up by Reuter and other World Press News Services:

“Mr. G. R. Josyer, Director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Research in Mysore, in the course of an interview recently, showed some very ancient manuscripts which the Academy had collected. He claimed hat the manuscripts were several thousands of years old, compiled by ancient rishis. Bharadwaja, Narada and others, dealing, not with the mysticism of ancient Hindu philosophy of Atman or Brahman, but with more mundane things vital for the existence of man and progress of nations both in times of peace and war.

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“One manuscript dealt with Aeronautics, construction of various types of aircraft for civil aviation and for warfare. He showed me plans prepared according to directions contained in the manuscript on Aeronautics of three types of aircraft or Vimanas. namely, Rukma, Sundara and Shakuna Vimanas. Five hundred slokas or stanzas dealing with these go into such intricate details about choice and preparation of metals that would be suitable for various parts of vimanas of different types, constructional details, dimensions, designs and weight they could carry, and purposes they could be used for.

“Mr. Josyer showed some types of designs and drawing of a helicopter-type cargo-loading plane, specially meant for carrying combustibles and ammunition, passenger aircraft carrying 400 to 500 persons, double and treble-decked aircraft. Josyer showed some types of designs and drawing of a helicopter-type cargo-loading plane, specially meant for carrying combustibles and ammunition, passenger aircraft carrying 400 to 500 persons, double and treble-decked aircraft.
Each of these types had been fully described.

“In the section giving about preparation and choice of metals and other materials that should go into such construction of aircraft, details were specified that the aircraft, (these metals are of 16 different alloys), must be “unbreakable, which cannot be cut through, which would not catch fire, and cannot be destroyed by accidents.” Details as to how to make these vimanas in flight invisible through smoke screens are given in Vimanasastra of Maharshi Bharadwaja.

“Further description and method of manufacturing aircraft, which will enable pilots not only to spot enemy aircraft but also to hear what enemy pilots in their planes were speaking, on principles akin to radar, have all been given in elaborate detail with suitable explanatory notes. There are eight chapters in this book which deal with the construction of aircraft, which fly in the air,  go under water, or float on water.

TRAINING OF PILOTS

“A few slokas deal with qualifications and training of pilots to man these aircraft. These ancient types of aircraft are provided with necessary cameras to take pictures of approaching enemy planes. Yet another set of slokas deals with the kind of food and clothing to be provided for pilots to keep them efficient and fit in air flying conditions.

There is an enigma in this tale of Vaimānika Shāstra.

In 1974 five young Indian scientists – Mukunda, S.M. Deshpande, H.R. Nagendra, A. Prabhu, and S.P. Govindaraju – from the departments of aeronautical engineering and mechanical engineering of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore conducted a detailed study of Vaimānika Shāstra. The same year they published a paper titled “A Critical Study of the Work Vyamanika Shastra,” in the journal Scientific Opinion. They gave the reasons why the Vedic airplane theory according to Vaimānika Shāstra was not viable..

The Scientists concluded that the aircrafts described in the text were “poor concoctions” and that the author showed a complete lack of understanding of aeronautics. In fact, none of the technologies documented in the Vaimānika Shāstra would allow an object to lift off from the ground except one. The study stated:

“The Rukma Vimana was the only one which made sense. It had long vertical ducts with fans on the top to suck the air from the top and send it down the ducts, generating a lift in the process.”

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Pandit Subbaraya Shastry
Pandit Subbaraya Shastry

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The young scientists debunked the claim that this text is ancient. They said it was actually written between 1900 and 1922 by Pandit Subbaraya Shastry.

According to the young scientists from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore,  Pandit Subbaraya Shastry was born in a small village in Hosur Taluk. His parents died when he was young. As a destitute, he contracted diseases and wandered from place to place.

One day he met a great saint at Kolar. The saint initiated him into spirituality. He revealed to him several Shastras, including the Vaimānika Shāstra.

After Subbaraya Shastry settled into normal life, he started uttering slokas (verses) when inspired.

Subbaraya Shastry had no formal schooling and learned to read and write only after meeting the saint, so, it is unlikely the text was his own invention.

In the early 1900s, Pandit Subbaraya Shastry dictated the text of Vaimānika Shāstra to his aide G. Venkatachalam Sharma and completed the work in 1923. The Pandit claimed that the text was psychically delivered to him by the ancient Hindu sage Bharadvaja. The Vaimānika Shāstra contains 3,000 slokas in 8 chapters.

Though some described Pandit Subbaraya Shastry as “a walking lexicon gifted with occult perception,” he was unsure of the practicality of the ideas found in the text he had dictated.

Pandit Subbaraya Shastry died in 1941. His aide Venkatachala Sharma kept the manuscripts in his custody. By 1944, the Vaimānika Shāstra manuscript appeared at Rajakiya Sanskrit Library in Baroda.

When a Dr. Talpade of Bombay tried to make models under Shastry’s  guidance, none of them flew.

Now, you be the judge.

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December 20, 1803: The Day United States Bought Louisiana for a Song – for Less than 3 Cents per Acre.


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj 

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“Let the Land rejoice, for you have bought Louisiana for a Song.” – Gen. Horatio Gates to President Thomas Jefferson, July 18, 1803

Never did the united states grab so much for so little.” – Henry Adams

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French Tricolor Flag - 1803
French Tricolor Flag – 1803

US Flag of 15 stars - 1803
US Flag of 15 stars – 1803

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Vente de la Louisiane” or “Sale of Louisiana” also known as “The Louisiana Purchase” considered the greatest real estate deal in history took place on December 20, 1803.

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The Louisiana Purchase of 1803
The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 (marked in green).

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Louisiana has a long rich history. Native Americans settled there first, and then it became the mainspring of an empire, and finally it got incorporated into the United States. Various cultures: Native American, French, Spanish, the Caribbean, African, and the English influenced Louisiana, evolving it into a region of exuberant and intrinsic blend of ethnicity.

In 1528, a Spanish expedition led by Panfilo de Narváez  were the first European to visit Louisiana. They located the mouth of the Mississippi River.

When the first Europeans set foot in this region many native groups inhabited there such as: Acolapissa, Adai, Appalousa, Atakapa, Avoyel, Bayougoula, Caddo, Chawasha, Chitimacha, Choctaw, Houma, Koroa, Nakasa, Natchitoches, Natchez, Okelousa, Ouachita, Quinipissa-Mougoulacha, Taensa, Tangipahoa, Tunica, Washa, Yagenechito, Yatasi and so on.

In 1542, another Spanish expedition led by Hernando de Soto ventured into the north and west of the region where they encountered the Caddo and Tunica groups. In 1543, they followed the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico. As they drifted along the river, hostile tribes besieged them. The natives followed their boats in large canoes. Continually shooting arrows they killed 11 Spaniards and wounded many more.

Gradually, Europeans lost interest in Louisiana until the late 17th century, when sovereign, religious and commercial aims surfaced once again. The French established their first settlements, on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast, and claimed a vast region of North America. France then set out to establish a commercial empire and a nation under the French rule that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

In 1682, the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert Cavelier de La Salle (November 22, 1643 – March 19, 1687)named the region Louisiana to honor France’s King Louis XIV. In 1699, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, a French military officer from Canada established the first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas, at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi.

The French explored the Mississippi River valley and established scattered settlements in the region. By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power. The French colony of Louisiana originally claimed all the land on both sides of the Mississippi River and north to French territory in Canada.

The following present-day states were part of the then vast tract of Louisiana: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

In 1719, two ships, the Duc du Maine and the Aurore, arrived in New Orléans, carrying the first African slaves to Louisiana. From 1718 to 1750, transportation of thousands of Africans to Louisiana from the Senegambian coast, the west African region of the interior of modern Benin, and from the coast of modern Angola took place. The  influx of slaves from Africa strongly shaped the Louisiana Creole culture.

Having suffered damaging defeats in the Seven Years’ War against the British, the French wanted to prevent losing its Louisiana territory and the city of New Orléans to them. So in 1762, King Louis XV of France ceded the French American territory west of the Mississippi River to his cousin, King Carlos II of Spain by the Treaty of Paris of 1763. However, in 1763, France transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain.

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Napoleon in his study
Napoléon Bonaparte

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At the end of the 18th century, Napoleon Bonaparte after grabbing the French throne looked westward to enlarge his empire. In 1800, the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso between Spain and France gave the son-in-law of King of Spain power over Tuscany in trade for returning the Louisiana Territory to French control.

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Thomas Jefferson Painted by Rembrandt Peale, 1800
Thomas Jefferson (Painted by Rembrandt Peale, 1800).

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After about two years, the United States government discovered the re-transfer of Louisiana from Spain to France. At this time, the Mississippi River had become the chief trading route for goods shipped between the states it bordered. President Thomas Jefferson sought to acquire New Orléans because of its vital geographic position at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The acquisition would ensure its right to sail its vessels down the Mississippi River through Spanish territory, and unload goods at New Orléans for shipment to the Atlantic coast and Europe.

In 1801, President Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to France to negotiate the sale of New Orléans; but Napoleon refused to sell the city.

In early 1803, the French commander Vicomte de Rochambeau lost a fierce battle in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). This battle consumed much-needed resources and it also cut off the French connection to the ports on the southern coast of North America.

Napoleon realized that France did not have a strong enough navy to maintain control of its lands far away from home separated by the Atlantic ocean. Napoleon’s sole aim was to consolidate his resources to conquer England. To raise funds for the troops and materials to wage an effective war against England, he decided to sell the French territories in North America.

Again in early 1803, President Jefferson sent James Monroe to France to negotiate the sale. However, in April 1803, just days before Monroe arrived in Paris Napoleon offered to sell to the United States not only New Orléans but all of Louisiana.

The Louisiana territory encompassed all or part of the 15 present U.S. States and two Canadian provinces. The Marquis de Barbé-Marbois, Napoleon’s minister of the treasury negotiated the terms of the Louisiana Purchase with Livingston and Monroe.

The land purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River; most of North Dakota; most of South Dakota; northeastern New Mexico; northern Texas; the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide; Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orléans; and small portions of land that would eventually become part of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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Louisiana Purchase Historical Document
Louisiana Purchase Historical Document

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The United States of America purchased Louisiana for 50 million francs ($11,250,000) plus cancellation of the claims of its own citizens against France worth 18 million francs ($3,750,000), for a total sum of 15 million dollars – less than 3 cents per acre.

Upon concluding the purchase Robert Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, said of the transfer:

We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives … From this day the United States will take their place among the powers of the first rank … The instruments which we have just signed will cause no tears to be shed; they prepare ages of happiness for innumerable generations of human creatures.

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Don’t Be Fooled by Posts about Chinese Plastic Rice on Facebook!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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I saw the following video posted on Facebook without any description, leaving viewers to speculate.

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As of today, this video on Facebook has 4,310,649 views, 7.7K likes, 8,784 shares and 23 Comments.

The first comment that I saw at the top said, “What the hell is going on.”

This video of a woman stirring the contents in the pot over a fire was followed by a video that shows an easterner recycling plastic using machinery that produces rice-shaped plastic pellets for manufacturing plastic products.

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After the above videos  followed the image of a packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently .

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A packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently.
A packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently.

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Putting three and three together, almost 95% of the Facebook readers deduced that the woman in the first video was making plastic rice.

One wise person popped up the question, “What is happening in the world today?” and another, weak in geography said, “Read your labels at all times. If it was made in China leave it on the shelf.” And a ‘know-all’ person from Oba, Nigeria wrote a lengthy comment on “How to Identify Plastic Rice or Fake Rice“.

By the way, not all Facebook members are fools. A woman from Nassau City, New Providence, Bahamas, said, “There is fake plastic rice, however, that’s not what the lady is doing in this particular video… Yall so silly I would explain what that is but nah it’s so hilarious. ” But she never revealed what she knew. Maybe she herself did not know what it really was.

Finally,  a comment by Shana Wiltshire from Brooklyn, New York who said, “Lol.. this is how rice goes from brown to puffed white rice… nothing wrong with this… and it’s an Indian method not Chinese“, assuaged  my curiosity.

Yes. The woman in the first video was making popped puff rice.

Here is a video showing the indigenous method of making popped puff rice for sale in India.

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30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr
Hank Williams Sr

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The greatest American country music artist of all time, Hiram Hank Williams Sr., a singer-songwriter and musician, was country music’s first superstar. He earned fame with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshine boy and selling peanuts on the street.

Along with this early success Hank’s behavior became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of “Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

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Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

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Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. With five of the 35 songs released posthumously, he earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

As an ardent fan of Hank Williams, I used his song “30 Pieces Of Silver” to create the following video clip as a tribute to him.

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Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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Mother, Motherland, and Mother Tongue


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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mother-feeding-child

When someone else feeds you, then you will realize the worth of your mother.

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motherland

When stranded in a foreign land you will recognize the worth of your motherland.

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mother-tongue-3

When you struggle to make yourself understood in a foreign language then you will realize the worth of your mother tongue.

Black Friday and the United Stupids in America (USA)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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People in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a national holiday in the United States and people celebrate the day with religious fervor.

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Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo: oldstrathcona.ca)
Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo: oldstrathcona.ca)

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People get together with their loved ones, invariably devour large amounts of food centered around an enormous roasted turkey, and like angels and saints praise and thank God for all that they have.

Traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on the following day, the Black Friday. Most major retailers open their sales outlets extremely early on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and offer promotional sales.

The name “Black Friday” originated before 1961 in Philadelphia, after the disruptive movement of pedestrians and heavy vehicle traffic on the day-after-Thanksgiving Day and used broadly in other regions around 1975. Later, a new explanation of the term started circulating: “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit and are back in the black.

Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

Earlier, retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6 am. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5 am, and some opened at 4 am. Big names including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. open at midnight. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 by opening its store on Thanksgiving evening.

Four years ago when I was in the United States, a week before Thanksgiving Day, a friend from India called me over the phone . He said that he had heard that on Black Friday electronic goods could be bought at bargain prices in the United States and requested me to buy a laptop for him. Little did he know about the madness that inundates the United Stupids of America (USA) on Black Friday.

On Black Friday, the American people unitedly become stupids by transmogrifying  from angels to demons.

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Black Friday - People waiting outside a mall.
Black Friday – People waiting outside a mall.

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They stubbornly gather outside malls, some from midnight on chattering and shivering, undaunted by the bitter winter cold, and wait for the shops to open.

When the shops open their doors, the stampede begins.

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

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They behave like crazed animals. They barge into the malls like raging bulls. They trample and maul one another to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need; just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have.

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Black Friday: Only in America, you find people, who just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have behave like crazed animals frenziedly trampling each other to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need.
Frenzy buying on Black Friday (Photo: telegraph.co.uk)

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That is Black Friday for you in the United States of America. No other country in the world can boast of such a frenzied day.

Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the United Stupids of America for you to decide whether you too want to join these berserk folks and avail bargains on Black Friday.

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The Chinese Double Ninth Festival


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Once upon a time a man named Huan Jing believed that a monster would bring pestilence to his country. After asking his co-villagers to hide on a hill he went alone to defeat the monster.

Later, people celebrated Huan Jing’s victory over the monster on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month as the Double Ninth Festival (Chung Yeung Festival).

Since then, the Double Ninth Festival observed on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar has become a traditional Chinese holiday. The Chung Yeung Festival is mentioned in writings even before the East Han period (25–220 AD).

yin-yang

Duality is found in many belief systems, According to the Chinese I Ching, or Classic of Changes, yin and yang describe how opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interdependent, and interconnected, in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other since they interrelate to one another. So, Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness equated with the Tao.

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The 24-hour-yin-yang-cycle
The 24-hour-yin-yang-cycle

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In the above diagram, Yin is the black side with the white dot in it, and yang is the white side with the black dot in it.

The relationship between yin and yang is often described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley.

Yin (meaning the ‘shady place’ or ‘north slope’) is the dark area occluded by the mountain’s bulk, while yang (meaning the ‘sunny place’ or ‘south slope’) is the brightly lit portion. As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.

According to the I Ching, nine is a yang number. Since the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or double nine) has too much yang the date is considered potentially dangerous. Hence, the Double Ninth Festival is also known as “Double Yang Festival” (重陽節).

To protect against danger, it is customary for the Chinese to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum tea, and wear the zhuyu (茱萸) plant, Cornus officinalis, a species of dogwood known also as Japanese cornel or Japanese cornelian cherry. Both chrysanthemum and zhuyu are considered to have cleansing properties and are used to air out houses and cure illnesses.

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Chai Wan Cemetery Hong Kong on the Double Ninth Festival (Photo: Susan Gerbic)
Chai Wan Cemetery Hong Kong on the Double Ninth Festival (Photo: Susan Gerbic)

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On the Double Ninth Festival day, the Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their homage and respects by cleaning and repainting inscriptions. Incense sticks are burned. They lay out food offerings such as roast suckling pig and fruit, before the graves which are then eaten later after the spirits have consumed the spiritual element of the food. Chongyang Cake is also popular.

In mainland China, the festival offers an opportunity for the young to care for and appreciate the elderly.

In 1966, Taiwan rededicated the holiday as “Senior Citizens’ Day”.

Though Double Ninth Festival may have originated as a day to drive away danger, over time it has become a day of celebration like the Chinese New Year. In contemporary times it is an occasion for hiking. Mountain climbing races have become popular and the winners get to wear a wreath made of zhuyu.

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I Am the Good Shepherd…


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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i-am-the-good-shepherd

John, Chapter 10: 1-5

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

i-am-the-good-shepherd-2

John, Chapter 10: 11-14

I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.d

This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, …

Note: I have used the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Bible – John, Chapter 10

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Donald Trump, the “Walking Eagle”


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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donald-trump
Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the current nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States in 2016 had thought of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter any of those races. In 1988, Trump was considered as a potential running mate for George H. W. Bush but lost out to Vice President Dan Quayle.

Trump, who wants to be the next president of the United States has voiced whatever caustic thoughts he has. To him, the Mexicans were “rapists” and “anchor babies“, he has used adjectives such as “bimbo” and “fat pig” to describe women. For months he has preoccupied himself with mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, by calling her “the Indian” and “Pocahontas“, and insisted that she was a racist for having listed her heritage while on the faculty of Harvard Law School.

I was surprised when I was told that Donald Trump was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nation. At the meeting, he spoke about his plans for increasing every Native American’s standard of living. Although Trump was vague about his plans, he spoke eloquently about helping his “Red sisters and brothers“.

Walking Eagle
Walking Eagle

When he concluded his speech, the Chiefs of the American Indian Tribes presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name, “Walking Eagle” which a proud Trump accepted pompously.

After he left the venue, a reporter asked the group of chiefs how they came to select the new name for Trump. They explained that “Walking Eagle” is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longerfly.

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