Books and Documents

Spiritual Meditations

Rabindranath Tagore based his idea of Humanism on the Upanishads
Hiranmay Karlekar

“But it is a sin to lose faith in human beings; I shall protect this faith to the last. I would hope that after the total, all-encompassing destruction there would perhaps begin a pure self-unfolding of history on the cloudless sky of renunciation on the Eastern horizon where the Sun rises. And one day, unvanquished human beings will surmount all obstacles and advance on a victorious journey to regain their lost status….   

Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated By Compassion Than Are Non-Believers
Yasmin Anwar is a physician

In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science….

Heresy implies not rejection of or indifference toward religion and its objects, but rather curiosity and engagement. Just because I can’t see or make sense of God doesn’t mean I don’t want to, or that I hate believers; on the contrary, I respect—with fear and trembling—the powerful role that religious experience plays in the lives most humans. Heresy demands a particular religious vocabulary, though it also allows for unabashed syncretism. …



Now This Is What I Call Guru Mahima! Guru Is Everything!!!
This morning, he came to me asking to see a doctor. He said his ears were full of wax which rattled when he shook his head, and he wanted it removed. Then he tentatively asked me whether it was because of the earphones, and admitted that he had stopped using them for the past month anyway. Now that he mentioned it, I recall that I haven’t seen him with the gadget on for a while now, and can hear soft music from him room.....


What Type Of Meditation Is Best For You?
Patricia Monaghan

What happens when someone who wants to deal with insomnia enrolls in a rigorous class in a course in Zen meditation?  Or if someone who wants to create more spiritual space in her life registers for a health-oriented hatha yoga class?  Most likely, they will join the long list of meditation drop-outs, people who say, “I tried that, but it just didn’t work for me.”…



Choosing Thy Religion Can Be a Close Shave
Barney Zwartz

The ''monk for a month'' program began in 2008, a year after Ben and his Dutch wife, Jildou, became volunteers in northern Thailand and befriended the abbot of a local monastery. He realised many Westerners might be interested in what is a rite of passage for most Thai men…



Who Am I? My Brain or My Mind?
You become a Mother Teresa or Bin Laden because of your pre-determined genetic profile and the way your brain is wired.

If someone picks up someone else's belonging and can't remember, can proof of Alzheimer's disease exonerate him of the alleged crime? In the next decade, can sophisticated brain mapping findings be invoked, as mitigating circumstances to explain aberrant behavior? How does society “punish” my abnormal neurotransmitter levels, the aberrant tracts and circuits in my behavioral brain, so elegantly displayed in color in a FM     RI tract gram? Is this the cause or result of my behavior? Who am I?

The Indivisible God
Manzoorul Haque, New Age Islam

The Indivisible God
Manzoorul Haque
What is the whole idea of a God? If God is a rare being to be found hidden in some groove so that man should immediately bow down to him on coming to find him, the question does arise, why this funny antic and on what rational grounds? And of course there can be no limit to the number of such Gods, as every rodent living or dead (since God cannot die) can be ascribed that status simply on the whim of a person choosing to do so….

Making Time for Stillness
Susan Gladin

All you have to do is sit down and shut up, and that’s the hard part. Staying still for 15-20 minutes is easier compared to the effort involved in getting there in the first place. “There” might be a special place with candles and incense, or it can be anywhere you happen to be. Sitting up in bed works for me sometimes so I can catch myself in the morning before my brain has a chance to tell me how busy I need to be. …

A Long Overdue Apology
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

A Long Overdue Apology
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam

What, you might ask, drew me to that village, to work as a teacher for a couple of hundred rupees a month? At that time, I had my own ideas as to why I was there, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I realize that they were hardly as altruistic as I had fondly imagined. Looking back, I now understand that my dream of spending my life ‘doing good’ for the ‘poor’ in ‘backward’ rural India—which actually lasted hardly a year!—was simply youthful rebellion against my family that I detested and against the suffocating norms and expectations of the society I was brought up in. …

Why I Gave Up on Social Activism
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Why I Gave Up on Social Activism
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam
This delightful anecdote neatly sums up the story of my life till now, and that is why I found it so endearing. Ever since I left home, at the age of eighteen, I've been desperately trying to change the world, as a self-appointed missionary of the 'Revolution'. I began identifying with communities in India that saw themselves as 'oppressed', and took it upon myself to champion their 'cause'.

Spare Me This Bloody Nonsense, Please!
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Spare Me This Bloody Nonsense, Please!
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam

"Blood is thicker than water, after all. All said and done, your siblings are your siblings, and you simply have to be good to them," said my mother firmly to me just the other day. How I hoped she would have patiently heard me out and tried to understand why I couldn't force myself to be all so cuddly and sweet with my siblings as she insisted I should! I can't really blame my mother for parrotting the empty rhetoric about blood being 'thicker' than water. She was brought up to think in that conventional way, although I dare say she didn't really bring that maxim into operation in her own life. …

The Holy Quran also is very sacred to such an extent that believers cannot touch the writings of the script unless they are in a state of purity. The Holy Quran says, "None shall touch it except the purified ones." (56:79). This state of purity is achieved by performing ablution as it is done before the five daily prayers….

Futile Battles Over Religious 'Authenticity'
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Futile Battles Over Religious 'Authenticity'
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam

Each religious tradition has been interpreted diversely by its votaries throughout history, which explains the bewildering variety of sects within each, with each claiming to represent the sole true understanding of their faith. In turn, each sect passionately denounces the rival interpretations of competing sects as 'deviant', 'false' or 'heretical' or even 'blasphemous'. In many cases, intra-sectarian rivalries have been much more fierce and bloody than inter-religious rivalries. …

Not only do the Abrahamic faiths, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, place due emphasis on duty towards parents and keeping to the promises made or agreements signed, faith systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, also embrace these finer human values. …when Abraham told his son Ishmael of having dreamt that he must sacrifice Ishmael and asked the latter’s view, the son promptly told his father to go ahead with fulfilling his dream. “Father,” said Ishmael “do that which you are commanded, God-willing you shall find me patient” (37:102). …

Buddhist Concept of God
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Buddhist Concept of God
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam

Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan (d. 1988), an Indian Buddhist bhikkhu, wrote extensively on issues related to religion. In this letter to his disciple/friend Yogendra (below), which appears in his book Bhikkhu Ke Patra, he elaborates on the Buddhist understanding of the concept of God….

A Sufi Message from a Pakistani President
The writer is a senior journalist, television commentator and interviewer

The message the Sufis sought to communicate offended nobody: oneness of Being (Wahdat ul Wajood), equality of men, Love as a universal value. Rungs of the stratified Hindu order found the egalitarianism of Sufi Khanqahs, ashrams, hospices, compelling. The first-time visitors to the hospice were overwhelmed by the hospitality. The cuisine was custom made for universal consumption. It was not just vegetarian but care was taken to avoid garlic and onion too which some Hindu sects abstain from. …

Vishwamitra: The Forgotten Rishi
Yogi Ashwini is an author of rare blend of the real and ethreal

Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya king with vast resources and power. However, after realising that physical powers and siddhis were just a trap of the physical world and tapo bal (the yogic power of penance) was supreme power, he renounced his kingdom and went on to become a Brahmarshi who even set out to create a parallel universe; the gods, of course, had to come down to request him to desist. …

Religious Brainwashing Begins At Birth
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Religious Brainwashing Begins At Birth
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age

Being wholly dependent—psychologically, emotionally and materially—on their parents, they automatically imbibe the religious beliefs and prejudices of the latter. This is how blind, unquestioning belief in the religion that they inherit at birth becomes so deeply-rooted in most people as to make it almost impossible for them to shake it off at a later stage in life. Along with this, in many cases children are also socialized by their parents into believing that their religion alone is true and that all others are false, impure or deviant. …

I want to say to him, “O God how much I want you to come down from your heavenly abode and play with me. I want to be a little child again. I want to hold your hand and run with you. Deep into the jungle. And when the jungle scares me, I want to hide in your arms. I want you to stay there, wait for me. Don’t abandon me like others. You are more kind than a mother. And more caring than a father.


The Album of Life is Strange
Aisha Aijaz is a medical doctor, specialising in Acute Medicine

‘And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.” (Al- Qur’an 17:22-24)…

Letters of a Modern-Day Indian Buddhist Monk Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan
Yoginder Sikand works with the CSSE at the National Law School, Bangalore

From the late nineteenth century, efforts began to revive Buddhism in the land of its birth. Much has been written about this, particularly focusing on Babasaheb Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism and that of vast numbers of his followers. Relatively little, however, is known about the key role in this process of certain Indians who became Buddhist monks or bhikkhus and, in that capacity, played a major part in the spread of Buddhism in modern India. …

Unique Buddhist-Christian Meditation Centre
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Unique Buddhist-Christian Meditation Centre
Yoginder Sikand is a New Age Islam columnist

Ever heard of a Catholic priest devoting his life to promoting the teachings of the Buddha and the practice of Buddhist meditation?  You might think it unbelievable, for Christianity is premised on belief in a creator-god and in a saviour whose death is thought to have washed away the sins of those who believe in him. Buddhism, on the other hand, has no room for a creator God, and insists that one has to be one’s own light. Recently, I spent a week at Bodhi Zendo—and that was definitely one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. …  


Be that as it may, if God is good, which is certain, then, God is peaceful. In actual fact, the image of God implanted into man’s subconscious being right from infancy is that, God is love, and where love exists, violence has no place. All religious books contain stories of how God has displayed his love towards man. First, at creation, God gave man dominion over all things that He had created before man, giving man a ‘super intelligence’….

Agonizing Over Religions: My Way Out!
Yoginder Sikand for New Age Islam

Agonizing Over Religions: My Way Out!
Yoginder Sikand works with the CSSE at the National Law School, Bangalore

All those many years I spent working on religion have miserably failed to make me a better human being. And so, in a very fundamental sense, I’ve gained nothing at all from my long involvement with the subject. And, what is more, all the many books I’ve written on religion and the many more that I’ve read on it have left me even more confused than I was before I began my ‘religion trip’ about the reality of the cosmos, the origins and purpose of life, the existence or otherwise of God, the truth or otherwise of heaven and hell and all those other fundamental questions which religions claim to answer. …

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  • Excellent article.'
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Hats Off is a liar. I have never justified the conquest of India and have on several occasions previously, said that the conquest was by ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • I agree with the comment of Yunus Sb. The jurists of today need to think anew in the light of the Quran. The jurists ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • let her talk this rot in her palestine. within no time she will be swinging from a jib crane or stopping high speed ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • as usual mr. naseer ahmed's sickeningly patronizing tendency, his supremacism and his contempt for hindus and hinduism shines through his ugly comment...
    ( By hats off! )
  • Dear Agnostic reader, You comment is very thought provoking. Why the Qur'an was accepted....
    ( By muhammd yunus )
  • Most of what is written in Koran is pretty good. There may be a few verses which can be interpreted according to ...
    ( By Monojit Mohapatra )
  • Swamijee said all versions of religion is the same which converts man from animality...
    ( By Krishna Pada Acharya )
  • You can't bring live to a dead body or dead ideology.
    ( By SN Mishra )
  • seems very funny a human is talking about to reform the truth of God who gave him birth and all well... Probably writer is...
    ( By Jàvěd Khàn )
  • Yes i agree changes in religious books should be undertaken regularly...
    ( By Naval Chhangani )
  • Those who have objection on ISLAM,can accept any other religion....
    ( By Salam Aalam )
  • Why single out Islam alone? Christianity is equally dangerous for its conversion tactics. Both the religions survive...
    ( By Shridharan Ramamurthi )
  • Central Asian societies mostly coexist just fine combining Islam and modern...
    ( By Arif Moin )
  • Islam is the perfect religion. It doesn't need any reform. However, most of it's followers are the worst. They do not follow what....
    ( By Sayed Qasim Rizavi )
  • And who will reform. It should be by the person from any religion who has...
    ( By Rokhsar Ahmed )
  • And who will reform? It should be by a person form any religion who have reformed their own book to be the best. Who is ...
    ( By Rokhsar Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, Not everybody has the same understanding of the Quran. They take the...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • I have had some very good Hindu friends in college with whom I traveled and stayed in Ashrams....
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • The Article is excellent analysis of Recent Hindu mindset, I have said many times that Hindus have influenced intolrent...
    ( By Aayina )
  • Naseer sahib, The universal message of the Quran is of course sacrosanct. Many people however believe that the Quran contains...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Good manifesto! It is a fact that Islamophobes have the power to defame...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • While it is true that we have to educate people, nothing educates people as well as ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Tufail Ahmad at last musters enough courage to criticize "Hindutva" but he could do it only by calling it "Abrahamic Hindutva....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • The article has an excellent ending but many points need to be highlighted /clarified...
    ( By muhammd yunus )
  • Rashid Sb, To bring out the difference between theology and the Quran, consider the following verse which ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • The last sentence in the previous comment should read: Fighting in the cause of the oppressed against the oppressor is always fighting in the cause ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb,, I prefer getting down to specifics rather than arguing in general terms. Take Surah Taubah and the verses discussed in my article. It ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Naseer sahib, Your arguments to advocate your point of view are strong. However instead...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • 7/21/2017 8:25:29 AM Vineeth Mani Come on 3 sqn..... time to rise n shine...
    ( By Vineeth Mani )
  • All religious texts should be subjected to tests of: 1.whatever is written...
    ( By Scagarwal Agarwal )
  • Because there is solution of every problem in Quran pak. Every way of life is shown in Quran. There is no space for terrorism or ...
    ( By Fayaz Mughal )
  • Some rleigions shown their changes time to time as per the comments of other friends...
    ( By Fayaz Mughal )
  • Saulat pasha In ur dreams.
    ( By Ashraf Ali )
  • Some religions shown their changes time to time as per the comments of other friends. Dear friends it is only Islam...
    ( By Fayaz Mughal )
  • why bother about reforms...islam , like all other religions, will lose its grip on its adherents...
    ( By Soulat Pasha )
  • Ashfaq Ahmad Wasting time commenting on others when their own selves...
    ( By Jakir Mohemed )
  • Rajesh Sahu U and all read ur religious book..........today drink ...
    ( By Ashfaq Ahmad )
  • Rajesh Sahu's comment:
    ( By Rajesh Sahu )
  • Gentleman you are agreat DUD because ISIS was created by the Americans a...
    ( By Zamiruddin )