Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Mass mediated history


A journalist is basically a person who reports things which happen locally, nationally and globally to the public. What the journalist puts down first is what is called as the first draft of history and hence he is the primary historian. Historians constantly blend news which finally becomes part of it. News is news only if it is credible and believed. SIDE always influences the way in which events are recorded. Selection, Interpretation, Distortion and Emphasis.
Media which has existed from the beginning has two functions:
1.      Mirroring society
2.      Setting agenda
Mirroring society means faithfully reporting events as they unfold. Eg. The Twin tower attacks. Media setting agenda has to do with the social responsibility. We see that the 20th and 21st century mass media journalistic practices falsely produced history which created consequences and chains of events which otherwise wouldn’t have taken place.

1.                  Power of media
When you pick up the newspaper or put on the TV do you see what you want to read or see or do you see what the media people want you to see? Commercialization is used by the media to twist the actual event and the final intention is to mislead the public. For eg. When the newsperson says that 4 terrorists were shot dead by the army at the border, we do really believe that it happened because we have no other means of checking whether it truly happened. TV enjoys a de facto monopoly on what goes into the heads of the public and what they think. The hidden agendas of the media often prevent the audience from understanding the true meaning of an event that has taken place. 

2.                  World War I and Cold War
From the beginning, the World War I has been seen as a commercial operation by Karl Krauss which was desired and run by those who could profit by it. To make the unacceptable acceptable the journalists of that time told lies. The entry of the media into the picture meant the death of the public imagination and their confusion through the commercialization of language for purposes of cheating, control and profit. Many negative events that occur are shown as something positive and it acts as an advertisement for the company.
The misleading term ‘Cold War’ was invented by a Western journalist. This term has been used to cover up a series of actual hot wars where millions were killed. The use of this term actually distracted media audiences from the really important issues. A children’s comic strip named ‘Tintin in the land of the Soviets’ came out during this time which was used as propaganda against the USSR. This story made the Western citizens convinced that they had to either agree with or at least consent to it and remain passive. To give an Indian example let us take the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan’. The way it is portrayed by the media, it appears as if all the roads and buildings have been cleant. So also the mythical heroes which are portrayed in the cartoons like Chhota Bheem, Ramayana and others, it leaves a deep impact on the minds of those watching it (especially children).

3.                  Rise of Fascism and the ‘Fall’ of Berlin Wall
The way we look at the world depends on the way in which media presents it to us. The mass murder at Auschwitz was possible because of the mass murder of language which took place in the media. The press is an event creating, death bringing organization of moral and spiritual irresponsibility which by means of the fascination of the printed word is able to divert attention from the danger it represents says Krauss. Mr. Narendra Modi, the one because of whom the Gujarat riots took place, won the elections because he was shown as the new face of change (Acche din aane waale hein) in the media. Since it was constantly repeated on news channels and in the newspapers it entered in the minds of people who eventually ended up voting for him, thinking that he truly would be the change that they wanted to see.
The Berlin Wall event was witnessed by thousands who were at the spot and by millions across the world on TV however a distorted image was immediately created in favor of the power elites like West Germany and USA which remains fixed in popular memory. This story said that the East German people rose up against their dictatorial government and stormed the Berlin Wall. What actually happened was the result of the USA dominated global geopolitics. 

4.                  War in the Balkans and 9/11
In the TV report on how the media handled the war in the Balkans which is in south Eastern Europe, the audience was deprived of the truth. Through all that was said the audience didn’t know how many deaths were caused by the person who was giving the information on the war. The economic reason was that the people would turn off the TV if the reality of the war was shown. The political reason was that the people would immediately turn against a war if it was shown in the real sense. This would lead to less sales of the leading arms manufacturing and exporting countries namely USA and UK.
The 9/ 11 event was shown as a conflict between good and evil to which the BBC lent itself as a mouthpiece for US propaganda. The programs led the people to accept that military action in Iraq was justified. The war was presented in such a way that it appeared as a continuing ‘war on terrorism’ and that Iraq was the ‘axis of evil’. Only after thousands were slaughtered and many others were injured i.e. the ‘liberation of Iraq’ that the true story was revealed (the deception of the public by its leaders). Barkha Dutt a well-known journalist who was reporting the 26/ 11 attacks frequently said ‘The Taj, the icon of India is under attack.’ All of us very well know that the Taj is not the icon of India. To add to it, there was hardly any mention about VT station where thousands were killed. 

As we have seen and heard, media has a massive role to play in informing, educating and entertaining the public, all the more in a democracy. Media can be used by people in power to promote their point of view or to show something that is not true. Good people can be made villains and those with a criminal history can be portrayed as saviors of a nation or as the new face of change by the media. Aleksandar Zograf, the one who survived the bombs in the Balkans gives a wonderful insight: “I should say again and again, that we are living in a savage world, hiding behind the happy face of mass communication.” I would like to end by saying that we need to accept the things that are portrayed by the media always with a pinch of salt and a critical mindset.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Occams razor

Occams razor

The truth seeking method which is called as Occams razor is a principle attributed to the English logician and philosopher William of Ockham. It says that the explanation of any phenomenon should have as less guesses as possible. According to science it is like, the fewer the assumptions the better it is.

Scientists use Occam’s razor as a tool when they develop theoretical models. However in science the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. Simple theories are preferred than more complex ones because their level of testability is much higher. Another reason why simple theories are chosen over complex ones is because for each explanation of phenomenon that is accepted, there are a large number of possibilities with much more complex alternatives.

To better understand this, an example will be of great help, once when you wake up in the dark of the night after having heard a sound in the kitchen and on investigating you find a sharp knife on the floor, you immediately get a rapid set of images of what happened or how it happened. For now, let us take to explanations. The first explanation is that the knife fell on the floor because it was not hung/ put on the rack properly. The second explanation is that the house is haunted by the ghost of the previous occupant who killed himself/ herself by using the same type of knife and that his spirit which still tires to reach for a knife and in the process, it falls down on the ground.

Now when we test these two explanations we find that it is much more reasonable to go with the first explanation rather that the second. The first explanation makes only one simple assumption saying that the knife wasn’t placed properly. Coming to the second explanation we see that there are many assumptions that are made. Assumptions such as life after death, that spirits exist, that spirits haunt human beings after having left the human beings body ……. and so on. All these cannot be tested and hence it seems much more reasonable to go with the first explanation rather than the second.

This same analogy can be applied to the existence of all things including us namely the rationalist evolutionary explanation and the creationist intelligent design explanation. I support Mukul Sharma’s opinion, because he says that God made everything. This truth is so simple and clear.

‘The first explanation assumes that an unexplainable Big Bang when nothingness exploded to create space, time energy and matter that gave rise to nebulae, galaxies, stars and planets. In this explanation, there are a million assumptions out of which most can’t even be properly tested. In the second explanation, it is quite simply put: God made everything. There is only one assumption here i. e. there is a Creator. There is no choice at all as to how the Occam razor principle should operate here.

This one assumption along with 3 other sub- assumption is the biggest even made by any human in the history of humanity and hence science doesn’t let this principle guide it in this case. The magnanimity of this assumption is so vast that it automatically subsumes all other assumptions, including the millions of assumptions of the rationalist evolutionary explanation by a degree of infinity. The only way is to start believing in faith.

Friday, 2 December 2016


Just imagine a person who comes to you and says that the efforts that you are putting in are all good but not producing good results due to all human beings in general being in a metaphysical sleep. Some might get angry, some might show some other emotions but for me, I would be glad and at peace with myself because of this. In this article I am commenting on the article of Osho- Desires grow like leaves on a tree.
The main message of Gautama Buddha to humanity is basically that man is asleep. The sleep he is referring to is not ordinary sleep, but a deep unconsciousness within man. This deep unconsciousness goes hand in hand with metaphysical sleep. Basically, all of us are acting out of that consciousness and hence he says that whatever we do, with how much ever effort we do goes wrong. Practically it is impossible to do right with this unconsciousness/ metaphysical sleep within us. This unconsciousness/ metaphysical sleep destroys/ makes void or null all our efforts and leads us into wrong directions.

Desire is like something that already exists in us. It can’t be dropped unless we wake up. The fatal mistake would be to be desireless without waking up. Being desireless is another desire (to put it plainly). There is great bliss or less of sorrow if desire is dropped. On having dropped desire, the result will be that we will attain eternity, that we will not know any birth, any death anymore; that we will become part of the universal celebration that goes on and on.

Osho reasons saying, ‘The desire for godliness, the desire for truth, the desire for liberation, the desire for truth, the desire for liberation, the desire for becoming desireless, each of these is still a desire.’ In the hunt of being desireless ‘a new greed- religious greed- has taken possession of you.’ He stresses on waking up so as to drop desire because dropping desire according to him is not an easy task. He says that desire is equal to dreaming and nothing else because we dream when we sleep and we are in unconsciousness/ metaphysical sleep. His basic idea is that our dreams will disappear once we wake up or in other words our desires will disappear. 

He clearly states that our fight is not with desires but with our sleep. Fighting against desires is like cutting the branches of a tree which will soon come up again. We will function out our unconsciousness/ metaphysical sleep and do the same things. We have to cut the roots i. e. our sleep or else we will remain the same.

We constantly live in a world of dreams, we live in a world of dreams because there are so many desires of ours that are unfulfilled, and living with unfulfilled desires is really painful. In our dreams we basically try to fulfill our unfulfilled desires i. e. create a false feeling or an idea of fulfillment. Hence, our dreams are basically a portrayal of what our desires are and what we want to become.

Coming to the point where one is awake, he says that that person knows that there is nowhere to go and nothing to become. He is already the person that one has to become. Hence desires just fade away on their own on having seen the grandeur of his being. There is no effort required at all because those desires just fall by themselves like dry leaves that fall from a tree.

Therefore Buddha never urges anyone to ‘pray’ or ‘meditate’. Prayer is basically for something and hence it will be a desire. We will go to churches and temples and listen to people praying; and all that they do is basically ask, ask and ask (I personally don’t agree with this point because according to my experience, in Christianity asking is a form of prayer, thanking God is also a form of prayer and so on there are different forms of prayer……. So it’s not that we only keep asking, asking and asking……….. Statements can’t or shouldn’t be generalized as Osho has done). A little he further goes on to say that  their prayers are superficial because they had gone to the holy place of worship to thank the Lord but ended up complaining (Once more I clearly state that I clearly disagree with what he says, because God for me is my parent who is also my best friend. Hence it is obvious that if someone has hurt me, I will go and complain to my parent or even shout or fight with Him for what someone else did to me. Osho must  be made aware of the fact that life is not just full of joys but also of unexpected sorrows and it is precisely in these moments that we turn to our loved ones to either thank or to complain). 

Buddha’s idea about prayer is that we shouldn’t be bothered with prayer, because by the fact that we are asleep our prayer is bound to be nothing but a desire. Further on he says that our asceticism is also bound to be a desire which is deep hedonism. Hence the allurements which drive all people to the places of worship are the talks about the joys and pleasures of heaven and paradise.

            To get up from our deep slumber the solution that he gives is Silence. Silence according to him ‘creates the right space to wake up.’ He says that, ‘Silence goes to the very center of our being like an arrow and wakes us up. And when we are awake, our whole life becomes a prayer.

If you are filled with desire, your sorrows swell
Like the grass after the rain.
But if you subdue desire, your sorrows fall from you
Like drops of water from a lotus flower.
This is good counsel and it is for everyone:
As the grass is cleared for the fresh root, cut down desire
Lest death after death crush you as a river crushes the helpless reeds.
For if the roots hold firm, a felled tree grows up again.
If desires are not uprooted, sorrows grow again in you.

     -Gautama Buddha
in Dhammapada

Thursday, 24 November 2016


The judgment that we pass about others is exactly the same way in which we look at ourselves. If we look at the world and say that the world is evil, that is because we consider ourselves to be evil and vice versa (Not applicable always). Sonal Srivastava in her article You are the Universe says, ‘We are conditioned to think about ourselves in a certain way, and our perception is reflected on the outside world.’ We look at the world from the prism of the self.

If we feel hurt, indecisive, compare, insecure and so on, we will able to find those traits in the people around us. The other is like a mirror we are speaking to or into. The world is a reflection of what I do or think. Sometimes these thoughts may bring us immense joy and at other times they may bring us immense sorrow. Suffering may come about if things don’t happen the way, we would like them to happen.

Next she goes on to speak about the all- pervasive self which is the Universal Consciousness. This consciousness according to her constitutes the universe (including us). To describe a little more about the Self, she says that it is like air in the pot. Despite the pot being broken, the air continues to exist. She connects this analogy to the human body and says that it is the same with us, though we die and leave our physical body, we will continue to exist as consciousness.

The Astavakra Gita says, “Turn your attention to forgiveness, sincerity, kindness, simplicity and truth.” This should be done to attain knowledge of oneself and also to be liberated from beliefs that limit us. After this, we will be comfortable with our surroundings no matter where the place is situated. What the Gita says makes perfect sense because forgiveness, sincerity, kindness, simplicity and truth needs us to shift the focus/ attention from ourselves to the other.

One becomes a spiritual practioner upon the realization that one is pure consciousness. There is also the realization that there are no strings attached. Also when one becomes aware of the current moment, practices universal values which were mentioned earlier,  without expecting any reward in return, when help is given to others without bringing in the ego- all this boosts one to become a spiritual practioner. Sonal quotes Sage Astavakra who cautions us against our own selfish desires saying, “You are pure Consciousness- the substance of the universe. The universe exists within you. Don’t be small- minded.”

She beautifully describes human beings saying that we encompass the universe in our body. Whatever is there in the world is an inseparable part of ourselves. This brings or leads her to say that we are mini universes in our own rite. The only thing needed is that we realize it, once and for all. ‘What we also need to remember is that several mini universes together make up the Self.’