Atheism 2.0

Recently I watched this wonderful TED talk by Alain de Botton. He was talking about atheism, but unlike many other more radical atheists, he did not reject religion altogether. His philosophy is that, there is a class of people who do not really believe in the existence of god or gods, but they like the other aspects of religion like the rituals, the music, the literature, the art, the myths. Alain says that these aspects of religion, the more popular aspects which enrich us in many positive ways, we don’t have to reject them. I don’t want to go into the details of his talk, you can watch the video and listen for yourself, but this concept which Alain calls Atheism 2.0 rang a bell in me.
I love to attend our Durga Puja festivals, love to hear the mythological stories associated with Durga and Mahishasur although I don’t believe they really exist. I love to listen to the sonorous chanting of the “Chandi” or listen to the ecstatic Kirtan music and feel elated. I love Shyama Sangeet, I like to watch plays and listen to stories of Hindu mythology and the epics, although I don’t feel compelled to believe them as historical truth. And I believe, I am not alone. Many of us who have been sitting on the fence of religion, wondering which side to land on, now have this third option – Atheism 2.0. We refuse to be indoctrinated by religion, refuse to believe that ours is the best and for that matter any religion to be better than any other. But we gladly accept the goodies that these religions offers us and thus enrich ourselves with those aspects.
I would like to know what others think about this.

Rajar Chithi : A Playwright’s Note

Rabindranath Tagore in Berkeley CaliforniaAbout a year and half ago, when I was researching on Rabindranath Tagore’s visits to the USA, an incident caught my attention. It said, that apparently there was an assassination attempt on Rabindranath by some Indians during his visit to San Francisco in October of 1916. This piece of information shocked me to say the least and I started to dig into the matter further. I looked into several books on Tagore by well regarded scholars and slowly an image started to take shape. I’ll refrain myself from getting into the details of the various accounts published in several books (you may look for them in the attached bibliography), but just to put matters in context I’ll quote some references: Continue reading

Goat and the Bengali Intelligentsia

goat The intelligentsia (as defined by Wikipedia) is a social class of people engaged in complex mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them.  You can very well attribute this term to the Bengali society who fits this definition quite well.  But what does a timid and herbivorous (although Bengalis think goats to be omnivorous – chhagole ki na khay) mammal like goat got to do with this elite group of people?  The answer to this is well known to all of us – Bengalis love goat meat. Although in other parts of the World, goat milk and milk products (cheese) are also extremely popular, but we the Bengalis don’t care much about the milk.  It is the meat that is most important to us – the ultimate food in any Bengali plate.  Historically, goat meat is the only kind of meat that Bengalis (especially the Hindu Bengalis) ate. Goats were the most popular offerings to Goddess Kali and Durga – and the meat then cooked in a recipe void of any garlic or onions and hence termed as “vegetarian meat”.

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Sri Krishna Janmashtami at Ananda Mandir


Ananda Mandiis celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami on Sunday, August 24 From 6:00 AM to 9 :00 PM.

Sri Krishna Janmashtami Sunday, Aug 24, 2008 Extended Temple Hours 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM

6:00 am –Mangal Aarati

6.30 am –Sri Krishna Sahasra Naam Path

7.30 am – 9.30 am –Nitya Puja

10.00 am -11.00 am –Srimad Bhagavad Path

3.00 pm – 6.30 pm –Bhajan Sandhya

7.00 pm - 8.30 pm –Janmashtami Puja & Aarati