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Narada: The Shakespearean Fool of Hindu Mythology
Sadhika Pant
 March 28 2024 at 09:28 am
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In Hindu mythology, Narada serves as a messenger and advisor to the gods, often conveying important messages between deities and intervening in various divine affairs. He is believed to be one of the mind-born sons of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. Narada is often depicted as wandering the universe, spreading knowledge, and playing his veena (musical instrument) while chanting the name of Lord Vishnu. He is known for his ability to travel freely between different realms, including the celestial, earthly, and underworlds. Fitting the Wise Fool Archetype: Like the Shakespearean fool, Narada often appears unconventional or eccentric in his actions and speech. He may seem whimsical or playful on the surface, but underlying his antics is profound wisdom and insight. The fool in Shakespearean plays frequently employs humour and satire to comment on the folly of human behaviour and to reveal deeper truths about the world. Similarly, Narada uses his wit and unconventional behaviour to impart spiritual teachings and philosophical wisdom to those he encounters. In both Hindu mythology and Shakespearean drama, the fool serves as a truth-teller who fearlessly speaks his mind and exposes the hypocrisy and folly of others. Narada, with his sharp intellect and keen perception, often plays this role in his interactions with gods, sages, and mortals. He fearlessly challenges authority and conventional wisdom, using his wit and insight to illuminate the path of righteousness and devotion. The Shakespearean fool is often a catalyst for transformation, prompting characters to confront their flaws and reconsider their actions. Similarly, Narada's interventions and counsel often catalyse spiritual growth and enlightenment in those he encounters. Through his conversations and interactions, he inspires individuals to reflect on their lives, question their beliefs, and strive for higher ideals. Both Narada and the Shakespearean fool possess multifaceted personas that defy easy categorization. They can be playful and mischievous one moment, and deeply profound and insightful the next. This complexity adds depth to their characters and underscores the richness of their roles in their respective narratives. Ultimately, both Narada and the Shakespearean fool symbolise transcendence—transcendence of social norms, of conventional wisdom, and of mundane concerns. They occupy a liminal space between worlds, serving as intermediaries between the divine and the mortal, the mundane and the transcendent. Through their words and actions, they invite audiences to glimpse the deeper mysteries of existence and to aspire to higher states of consciousness and understanding. Parallels: Beyond the Shakespearean fool, Narada also bears striking resemblance to Hermes in Greek mythology. Hermes is the messenger of the Olympian gods in Greek mythology, known for his swiftness and ability to travel freely between the mortal world and Mount Olympus. Both figures embody the archetype of the divine messenger, bridging the gap between heaven and earth and facilitating communication between deities and humans. Their ability to traverse boundaries and deliver messages underscores the importance of communication and divine guidance in shaping the destiny of both individuals and civilizations. Both are associated with guiding souls between different realms. In Hindu mythology, Narada is believed to assist souls on their journey through the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, offering guidance and support along the way. In Greek mythology, Hermes serves as a psychopomp, guiding souls to the underworld after death and facilitating communication between the living and the dead. Narada and Hermes are also revered as protectors of travellers and pilgrims. In Hinduism, Narada is believed to watch over those who embark on spiritual journeys, offering guidance and protection along the way. Similarly, Hermes is the patron deity of travellers in Greek mythology, safeguarding them during their journeys and ensuring safe passage. They share characteristics of trickster figures who use their wit, cunning, and mischief to achieve their goals. Narada's playful and sometimes mischievous nature is evident in his interactions with gods, sages, and mortals, where he often employs clever stratagems to impart wisdom or teach lessons. Similarly, Hermes is known for his playful and trickster-like behaviour, using his cunning to outsmart adversaries and navigate difficult situations. The Fool card in the Tarot deck is often depicted as a figure standing at the edge of a cliff, symbolising new beginnings, innocence, and a leap of faith into the unknown. Similarly, Narada embodies aspects of this archetype as a figure who traverses the cosmos with childlike curiosity and openness to new experiences. Both the Fool and Narada represent the archetype of the wanderer, unburdened by preconceptions and fear, ready to embark on a journey of discovery and enlightenment. The Message: In the modern world, individuals often embody the archetype of the messenger or intermediary in various aspects of their lives, albeit in subtler ways than the mythological figures of Narada and Hermes. In a world filled with uncertainty and rapid change, embracing the energy of the Fool means being open to new opportunities, taking risks, and trusting in one's intuition and inner guidance. Entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators who dare to defy convention and pursue their dreams exemplify this archetype, embracing the unknown and forging their own paths. Like Narada, who is known for his playful demeanour and mischievous antics, these individuals approach challenges with a lighthearted attitude, seeing obstacles as opportunities for growth and learning. They understand that life is a journey meant to be experienced fully, and they embrace each moment with joy and enthusiasm. Whether travelling to new destinations, pursuing creative endeavours, or simply savouring the beauty of everyday moments, they infuse their lives with a sense of adventure and wonder. By embodying the energy of the Fool, modern individuals remind us to let go of rigidity and embrace the magic of the present moment, trusting that each step taken with an open heart and a spirit of curiosity leads to new discoveries and infinite possibilities.
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Vishwakarma: The Divine Craftsman
Sadhika Pant
 April 09 2024 at 09:59 am
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The Figure: Vishwakarma, in Hindu mythology, is revered as the divine architect and craftsman of the gods. In Hindu mythology, Vishwakarma is not typically depicted as the primary creator of the universe. That role is usually attributed to Lord Brahma. However, he is considered to be the divine architect who played a role in the design of the universe, including its various components. According to some interpretations, Vishwakarma assisted his father, Lord Brahma in the creation of the universe by providing the blueprint and executing the intricate designs for the celestial bodies, landscapes, and structures within it. He is also credited with the design of various celestial weapons and divine chariots. Vishwakarma is also believed to have constructed the palaces of the gods and the majestic cities of ancient times. The etymology of Vishwakarma can be understood by breaking down the word into its constituent parts: ‘Vishwa’, meaning "all" or "entire" in Sanskrit, and ‘karma’, which translates to "action" or "deed." In Hindu philosophy, karma refers to the principle of cause and effect, where actions have consequences that affect one's present and future experiences. So, when combined, "Vishwakarma" can be understood to mean "the maker of all" or "the doer of all actions." The reverence for Vishwakarma extends beyond Hinduism, as he is also venerated in Jainism and Buddhism, where he is known by different names but holds similar significance as the divine architect and builder. In popular culture, Vishwakarma's legacy is celebrated through various folk tales, songs, and stories that highlight his ingenuity and prowess in creating marvels that transcend the ordinary. He is depicted with multiple arms, holding various tools and implements symbolic of his role as a divine craftsman. Parallels: Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, and artisans, shares many similarities with Vishwakarma. Like Vishwakarma, Hephaestus is depicted as a skilled craftsman and inventor, renowned for his ability to create divine weapons and other artefacts. Both deities are associated with fire and forge, and they play pivotal roles in shaping the world around them through their craftsmanship. In some depictions, both Vishwakarma and Hephaestus are portrayed with physical deformities or disabilities. In order to symbolise the imperfections inherent in creation, Vishwakarma is occasionally described as having a limp or a hunchback, while Hephaestus is often depicted as lame or with a limp due to his fall from Mount Olympus. Contemporary Relevance: Vishwakarma is regarded as the epitome of perfection in craftsmanship. His creations are believed to be flawless and imbued with divine grace, reflecting his mastery over his craft. Artisans and craftsmen often invoke his name and seek his blessings before embarking on new projects. He is worshipped by artisans, craftsmen, architects, and engineers, who seek his blessings for success and prosperity in their fields. His festival, Vishwakarma Jayanti, is observed with great enthusiasm, especially in industrial areas, workshops, and factories, where workers perform ritual worship of their tools and machinery. It usually falls in September or October, depending on the lunar calendar.
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Mother Amalek
ddebow
 March 23 2024 at 11:26 pm
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Today Jews around the world mark Purim by reading the salvation from the vicious antisemite Haman recorded in the Book of Esther. It is but one round in Israel's constant struggle with antisemitism embodied in the biblical conception of Amalek, Israel's nemesis. Here I explore the concept of Amalek, and his mother in its current incarnation. Amalek's Mother In a diminutive verse, the Torah alludes to the troubled childhood that birthed Israel’s worst enemy. The verse is so unassuming that the Sages make it the archetypical throw-away line. They protect it by equating all scripture in importance, one can’t dismiss this verse without undermining every verse including: Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One. וְתִמְנַע הָיְתָה פִילֶגֶשׁ לֶאֱלִיפַז בֶּן עֵשָׂו וַתֵּלֶד לֶאֱלִיפַז אֶת עֲמָלֵק And Timna was concubine to Elifaz, the son of Esav and birthed to Elifaz, Amalek. (Genesis 36:12) Tucked away in this passing detail, the Sages read the drama of a woman scorned and how that lead to an angry young man who would trouble the Jewish people in every single generation following. It is a story typical of Jewish guilt. In some roundabout way, the Sages make us once again responsible for our own misfortune. The Midrash does this over and over again. King Solomon’s indulgences at the inauguration of the First Temple lay the foundations of Rome which will eventually destroy that Temple’s sequel and begin a two-thousand year dispersion. In a Talmudic passage composed sometime during the Byzantine years of early Christian power, the Sages make themselves responsible for Jesus. His teacher, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachia was just a tad too strict with him. Had he been just a bit more forgiving, no inquisition, no pogroms, no blood libels. It’s an incredible historical lens and the antithesis of the entire thrust of social sciences today. Somewhere, sometime, a Jewish adult made an understandable but mistaken decision about a student, about a convert, about a lover and that lead to a historical avalanche of essentially avoidable consequences. Yes, there are entrenched enmities between people that get passed from parent to child. Yes, there are power struggles and economic disparities that divide people, make them rivals over limited resources that can lead to war. Yes, there are narratives that explain why an act of violence makes sense from a certain perspective but at root, always, the Jewish imagination says, we can do this better. This doesn’t have to be this way. And it’s our fault. If we are in possession of the Torah and the Torah promises peace, prosperity, and good health to those that follow it, then the fact that we are suffering from lack of peace, lack of security must be due to that fact that we are not following it correctly. This, then, shapes the Jewish mentality of responsibility, of parenthood, of guilt, and what it means to be chosen. It is a studied refusal to relinquish our agency to anyone but God. Here is the tale of Timna (Sanhedrin 99b, with my own embellishments): Timna was born to nobility. High born; she had the pick of the crop. Suitors came from far and wide, but she was unimpressed with their uninspired, brutish ways. She longed for a man that commanded with his mind, whose greatest strength was his wit and would make her laugh. She wanted a man passionate, but in control, lawful but not slavish, adventuresome but not rash. She wanted a life that was creative but did not tear down what preceded it and she wanted independence from the whims and fads that blew this way and that, from the idols of fashion and pop culture that changed with the seasons. She wanted to stand firm against the stream of change without being rebellious. She found monotheism, a single organizing idea that spoke to every facet of the human personality. It integrated law and economics, sex and family, morality and science. It was literate and powerful and intelligent without being belligerent, arrogant and domineering. Then she met Jacob and wanted a Jewish husband. She presented herself for conversion and cast an eager eye over his strapping sons. Without explanation, she was rejected, shut out from the family of her dreams. But Timna was nothing if not determined. Jacob had a brother, Esav, and Esav had a son Elifaz. But Elifaz was not interested in a wife either. Whether, he had tried and was burnt, or had several wives already, or was just not interested in being encumbered, Timna was given but one choice, be his mistress or leave. And so Countess Timna became concubine to Elifaz. She preferred handmaid to the Abrahamic master race than queen to her own idolatrous barbarians. (Master race, was her description, Yaakov never spoke in such terms.) She gave birth to Amalek, whose father was but a shadow in the night but whose mother filled his days with stories and dreams and resentments. His defining ambition was to show that rejection by the children of Israel meant nothing. Many Jews chafe against employing Amalek as a window into today’s conflict. They are wrong. It is a deep and complex integration of ideas that explain our world better than some of the shallow, unidimensional formulae offered by self-serving academics. The academy simply reinforces the false tropes that brought us to this impasse in the first place. The Torah and the Midrash together describe Amalek as Israel’s recurring nemesis. Amalek is ideologically opposed to Israel, inimical to our very existence. It is not something which can be negotiated; they are defined by their opposition to us. The origin story above locates their hatred but does not mean to offer a remedy. The hatred can take root in different peoples in different times, it can burn openly or simmer on a low flame. It can be managed but it can’t be expunged. The hatred defines the people, not the other way around. There are no people, no race defined by endemic antisemitism. Amalek is a statement about the perennial appeal of antisemitism. It recognizes the truth that time and again racist, scapegoating, false solutions will raise their ugly heads with their appeal to broad resentments and promises of quick fixes with no change required on behalf of those hurling the accusations and harboring the resentments. This Amalek narrative enjoins us not to blame ourselves for antisemitism’s recurrence or obsess over its origin but instead, accept the fact of antisemitism and confront it. Amalek possessed Germany in its time but no longer. It currently defines much of Gaza. Whether that continues to be true is much of what this conflict is about. Persia shows that nations can harbor antisemites, that is not the issue. But when a country starts acting on its antisemitism, Amalek is afoot. Yesterday, Canada found the Jewish form of ritual slaughter so inhumane that it must be banned. Islamic slaughter, identical in practice, was not at issue. So speaks the duplicitous compassion characteristic of Mother Amalek. In trying to extricate ourselves from this current wave of antisemitism, I believe it behooves us to understand the interplay of Amalek and his mother. Timna was rejected, perhaps rightly so. She looks from outside, resentful, jealous of the success of the Children of Israel. Instead of comporting herself to whatever standard of entry was being demanded, she searched for an alternative to get what she wanted without complying with the demands made of her. She becomes the voice of resentment that places responsibility for her self-perceived dispossession on someone else. She becomes the embodiment of the oppressor-oppressed narrative and the matron of Palestinian suffering. You can hear Amalek’s mother calling for a truce, a cease-fire in Gaza today. You can hear her in the stern warnings against Israel which, according to popular opinion, are a necessary bulwark against the wanton aggression that Israel is likely to commit were it not for Amalek’s mother and her watchful eye. You can hear Amalek’s mother stammering some excuse for antisemitic behavior and calls for genocide against the Jews as protected free speech or an understandable reaction to years of abuse ­­– as anything but the immoral behavior that a voice of caring, a voice of morality, a mother, is meant to oppose. When an ethic of compassion becomes aligned with a specific chosen child then corruption of that ethic is inevitable. Compassion as a guiding ethic, or as the mandate of an organization cannot have a favorite child. But, of course, they do. That means that the United Nations and the Red Cross and other such bodies can no longer claim to be implementors of some neutral charter of human rights. They are not guided by a color-blind concern for human welfare. They are not instruments of humanism where every person in need has a claim to their good offices. Rather, they are matrons, sponsors of specific peoples, furthering their interests even when those interests are no longer humane. It is no longer a function of morals but of motherhood. And in some respects, that is a very Jewish idea. We should demonstrate extra compassion for our own children, differently from a neighbor. We should exhibit differential giving where those closest to us receive more of our time and resources. But mothers should not masquerade as international aid organizations. Her child learns that nothing he does will forfeit the compassion he is owed and hence there is no restraint to his demands. When mercy has no master, a prodigal son is born. Such a son learns to ask for the sky because nothing is too much for a mother’s unconditioned love. Such a son gets protected from the tempering education that overreach and antisocial behavior would normally teach. Instead of rethinking the efficacy of selfish, me-first behavior, Timna’s favorite son is shielded from a badly needed education about how the world works. About what it means to attack the Jewish people from behind. About where that sort of politics gets you. It is not clear to me that Amalek’s mother won’t prevail this time as well. That instead of the devastating, unambiguous defeat these Jew haters require, they might instead emerge vindicated. That a policy of obstinate, uncompromising, unapologetic total opposition to Israel and the Jewish people might score big in some grand deal being discussed. It will be touted as a victory for diplomacy and mediation. Everyone loses something but also gains. You know, you can’t have everything you want – everybody needs to compromise – say the suits from far-away Washington. It will be the beginning of a Palestinian state whose Independence Day will be celebrated every year on October 7th. In reality, it will be a capitulation to the wrath of Mother Amalek. A shirking of responsibility to root out evil and instead, behind a cowardly moral evasion, we will content ourselves with some returned hostages, with a temporary cessation of hostilities, and the avoidance of a manufactured humanitarian disaster. All the while, kicking the problem down the road, more entrenched and fiercer, for our children to face. Because we want to forget the thing the Torah begs us to remember. There are such people whose only desire is to harm us. They are not content with a garden and picket fence, with a cellphone and 5G reception, with a 4 by 4 and somewhere to drive it. There are nations who, for a time, become Amalek and whose driving ambition is to prove that it means nothing to attack the Jewish Nation. It’s a difficult thought to accept. It flies in the face of everything humanism would have us believe. No one is that wicked, just misunderstood. Treat them well, show them some trust, break the cycle of violence and everyone gains. Remember, enjoins the Torah, that in every generation such a force as Amalek will rise. Mother Amalek obscures our vision so that we look past a Nazi, a Hamas terrorist, a complicit Gazan to the wounded child within. We cannot afford such willful blindness, such obfuscations. We confront a Nazi, an Amalekite, a Hamas terrorist as a soldier not as a social worker, a preacher, or as a diplomat. The problem they present is not solved by compassion, reason or compromise. That just feeds the beast. It is ideological, incorrigible and proven wrong by the sword. So what are we guilty of this time? How are we responsible for this predicament? That is the wrong question to ask. It’s the question Mother Amalek invites us to wring our hands over, while strengthening her own hand. Guilt has been weaponized in this conflict to great effect. It has been manufactured and deployed by a great many media outlets, supposed humanitarian organizations and lawfare. “When did you start beating your wife Mr. Sabra,” goes the insidious courtroom accusation. “I never beat my wife,” comes the muted but true defense. But it’s already too late for these jurors because good men shouldn’t even be accused of such things. My liberal leaning Jewish friends have contributed fuel to our enemy’s fire. It is wrong to see Amalek in the conflagrations of Gaza, they claim. It is inviting the dehumanization of a people. It makes the possibility of some crazed religious fanatic, mowing down innocent Gazans all that more likely. I concede that employing Amalek language has a danger. But the truth is that despite the provocation, despite the overwhelming firepower, despite the anger of having brother, sister, neighbor killed in this terror attack or that bus bombing, despite decades of terror that has claimed a frightening number of victims, drip, drip, drip, with weekly attacks – before October 7th, we have been stellar in our restraint. Yes, innocent victims of police brutality exist. Yes, plenty innocents have died in Gaza. That is the nature of war and policing and a function of unremittent terrorism. The fact that we have killed too many of our own in Gaza proves that war invites chaos and can never ever be both effective in defeating an enemy and blameless in its exercise of force. Hamas took hostages and embeds itself in hospitals and civil populations as its most potent weapon against Israel. Guilt. Hamas forces us to become the people it accused us of being. Belligerent, aggressive, conquering men. And thank God, our sons, the beautiful, gentle, educated, screen addicted, boys we raised have not forgotten how to be such men. For today it is necessary. Liberal Jews have sat uncomfortably through Megillah readings of Esther long before October 7th. Many edit out the violent culmination of the story as not suitable for modern sensibilities. Tradition begs us to remember Amalek and what it takes to stop him. There is a danger in employing the language of Amalek and there is a bigger danger in refraining from doing so. People refrain from labeling Gaza, Amalek in deference to some universal humanism that I believe has been hijacked by Mother Amalek. Timna, (תמנע) her name meaning “restraint” in Hebrew, implores adherence to some code of ethics that only holds back our soldiers, only benefits Hamas. The IDF, all on its own, adheres to a code of war, rooted in our Jewish tradition that believes that aims should be achieved with the least collateral damage necessary. If the IDF bombs a target with civilians, it is necessary to win this war. When international bodies and worried Jews voice their concerns over loss of life, they are superfluous. Worse, they implicitly tarnish the IDF with their self-important claim that were it not for their watchful eye, the IDF would be dangerous and reckless. Encouraging the voice of Timna to further encumber our soldiers and their freedom of operation materially endangers those soldiers. And the moralizing, guilt-filled sermons about maintaining humanity in Gaza only serve to introduce ambivalences that have no place on the battlefield. A democracy allows its citizens to voice concerns, especially moral concerns. But it is not required. Sometimes, and especially in war, trust in one’s commanders, all the way to the top is both a virtue and efficacious. If we are guilty of something in this war against Amalek, it will be of stopping short. It is the swirling moral confusion and corruption of compassion that makes it so challenging to fight the nefarious duo of mother and child. It is not the strength of their arms. The mother and son team plays it brilliantly, allowing the prodigal son to do what he wants in pursuit of his ambitions while the mother chastises anyone attacking her son, intoning all the pathos of a grieving mother. This strategy works effectively to restrain us from consummating this war as needed. In a world of such moral inversions, it takes a very sober, strong-minded approach to keep track of who is Haman and who is Mordechai in this story. Our Sages years ago articulated the inherent difficulty in confronting Amalek. They taught: if one falls into the temptation of showing mercy to the cruel, he will end up being cruel to the merciful. It is the sin of King Saul. Having won a great victory, he held the Amalekite King Agag in his hand. Why kill him, if my objective of peace has been achieved, he must have asked, what profit is there? Saul failed to recognize that his entire victory is made tenuous, the justification for his use of force undermined, by leaving Agag alive. The prophet Samuel stepped into the breach. He dismissed Saul and then executed Agag with these words: As your sword made women childless, so your mother will be childless from among women. (I Samuel, 15:33) Without a prophet to step in the breach, will we be able to consummate this war when Saul couldn’t?
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Manu: The First Man and Keeper of the Law
Sadhika Pant
 April 01 2024 at 10:43 am
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The Figure: Manu is referred to as the archetypal man or the first man in early Hindu texts, and is revered as both a lawmaker and a saint. He is considered the mind born son of Brahma (the Creator), symbolising the union of divine wisdom and human consciousness. In Sanskrit, the term for 'human', मनुष्य (manuṣya) or मानव (mānava), means 'of Manu' or 'children of Manu'. The name "Manu" finds its roots in the Sanskrit word "man," which means to think or to reflect. As such, Manu is often regarded as the embodiment of the human intellect. As a legislator, Manu is credited with formulating the principles and guidelines that govern human conduct, social structure, and ethical responsibilities. The Manusmriti is attributed to Manu and is believed to have been revealed by him to mankind. It delineates various aspects of dharma (duty/righteousness), outlining laws concerning familial relations, governance, justice, and spiritual practices. Despite its controversial aspects and varying interpretations, the Manusmriti remains a significant source of ethical and legal guidelines in Hindu tradition. Moreover, he is revered as a saintly figure who exemplifies spiritual insight and moral virtue. He is portrayed as a wise sage who embodies contemplation, introspection, and philosophical inquiry. Through his teachings and example, Manu inspires individuals to cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. Parallels: Manu ​​shares striking parallels with Minos, the mythical king of Crete in Greek mythology. Despite emerging from distinct cultural contexts, both figures embody similar roles as iconic legislators and arbiters of justice within their respective mythologies. Like Manu, Minos is renowned for his role as a lawgiver and judge. According to Greek myth, Minos received the laws of his kingdom directly from Zeus, the chief deity of the Greek pantheon. These laws, often associated with concepts of justice and order, formed the basis of Minos' governance and judicial authority. Moreover, both Manu and Minos are depicted as wise and virtuous rulers who possess a deep understanding of ethics and moral principles. They are revered as paragons of wisdom and justice, capable of resolving disputes and maintaining social harmony within their respective societies. Whether through divine inspiration or personal insight, both figures are credited with bringing about a sense of order and stability in their realms. Furthermore, both Manu and Minos occupy a significant place in the mythological genealogy of their respective cultures. Manu is considered the progenitor of humanity in Hindu tradition, while Minos is depicted as a descendant of the god Zeus in Greek mythology. This ancestral connection underscores their divine lineage and reinforces their authority as rulers and lawmakers. Philosophical Parallels: The etymology of "Manu" in Hindu mythology and René Descartes' famous statement "I think, therefore I am" both delve into the essence of human identity and existence, but from different cultural and philosophical perspectives. The etymology of “Manu” reflects the idea that human identity is closely tied to the capacity for thought, reflection, and consciousness. Manu represents not just a physical ancestor but also embodies the intellectual and spiritual potential of humanity. In Hindu philosophy, the ability to think, reason, and reflect is considered a fundamental aspect of human nature and is central to the concept of dharma (duty or righteousness). On the other hand, Descartes' statement, "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am), articulates a foundational principle of Western philosophy known as Cartesian dualism. Descartes proposed that the act of thinking, of being conscious of one's own existence, is the most basic and indubitable fact of human existence. Through the act of doubt, he arrives at the certainty of his own existence as a thinking being. By asserting that one's ability to think is inseparable from one's existence, Descartes underscores the centrality of consciousness in defining individual identity. Similarly, in Hindu tradition, Manu’s name signifies the essence of thought and consciousness as the defining characteristic of the human condition.
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Redemption From...
Cam
 March 23 2024 at 11:01 am
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“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’” (Luke 22:61 NIV) “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’” (John 21:19 NIV) “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8a NIV) The most famous person included in the gospels is easily Jesus. The second most famous person is likely Simon Peter, Jesus’ oldest and most outspoken disciple. However, while Peter appears to be the spokesman for the disciples, this also prompts Peter to say things that are out of line. While we know Peter as the disciple who declared a belief in Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 16:16; John 6:68), he is also the disciple who Jesus calls out as Satan (Matthew 16:23), who speaks his assumptions regarding paying the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27), who fumbles over what to say when Moses and Elijah visit Jesus on the mountain (Matthew 17:4), and who denies Jesus three times on the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:69-75). This famous disciple lived a life of flaws throughout his time with Jesus. While his flaws could easily invalidate him from staying a disciple, especially after disowning Jesus on the night of Jesus’ arrest when He assured Jesus that would never happen, Jesus gives Peter the gift of redemption. Following His resurrection, Jesus finds Peter and asks him three questions, gives him three challenges, and then gives him a second invitation to follow. Peter’s second invitation wasn’t like his first. Peter’s first invitation came before Peter had made many glaring mistakes and his first invitation came after a powerful miracle that happened because Peter had a sliver of faith and the generosity to let Jesus preach from his boat (Luke 5:1-11). However, Peter’s second invitation came with three years of knowledge of Peter’s failures. Even with all these failures, Jesus was still willing to invite Peter to follow. I believe Jesus offers all of us a second invitation. The invitation He offers might even be a third, a fourth, or a fiftieth one. Just like Jesus extends another invitation to Peter, He invites us, regardless of our past failures, to repent and return to Him. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and this allows us to lean on Him for redemption. If something happened this week that prompted doubt to enter your mind about God’s love, let the truth found in Peter’s redemption story remind you that God still loves you, and He wants to redeem you from sin; He wants to include you in His recreated new heaven and new earth for eternity! 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍
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Special Resurrection Sunday Thought: 👉 The...
Cam
 March 31 2024 at 11:18 am
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“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3 NIV) “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12 NIV) “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” (John 20:1 NIV) As we look closer at crucifixion weekend, today being the day we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, there is another less thought of parallel to creation week: On the first day of creation, light entered the world. On the first day of the following week, at Jesus’ resurrection, the “Light of the World” stepped out of the tomb, and back into the world (at least for a few weeks prior to His ascension). Resurrection morning is a fascinating morning to look closely at. On this morning, two groups of witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection are present. While we often think of the women who went to the tomb (wanting to anoint Jesus’ corpse and wondering aloud about how they could get the stone moved), the other group to witness the resurrection was a team of highly trained soldiers. Following Jesus’ resurrection, the soldiers race into town with the testimony about what they saw. The first people to know of a resurrected Jesus that morning were the religious leaders. However, bias and prejudice stopped these leaders from finally accepting Jesus’ claims. They chose to take the “most valid” category of testimony in that time period and twist it into a lie -- one that is equally unbelievable. However, the disciples take the testimony of the “least valid” (but still valid) category of testimony and choose to investigate the claims. When Jesus stepped out of the tomb, Light reentered the world. The religious leaders received the highest form of testimony and chose to reject the truth. However, Jesus’ followers took the testimony they were given, and built God's Church on this truth. ✝️ While I could share more, let’s remember the testimony God gave us and celebrate the Light that reentered our world many Sunday’s ago. ✅ -- “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darknesshave seen a great light;on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:15-16 NIV) “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter [stone], and on this rock [the declaration about Jesus] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’” (Matthew 16:16-18 NIV)
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Offending Christians
Numapepi
 March 31 2024 at 03:31 pm
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Offending Christians Posted on March 31, 2024 by john Dear Friends, It seems to me, the same people who want to make it illegal to offend anyone, go out of their way to offend Christians. The hypocrisy is astonishing. On the most holy day to Christians, the Biden administration went all in, offending Christians. By making the day about perverts. Elevating lust, pride and gluttony, above the Risen Lord. No way that could go wrong. Even as the FBI hunts down people for posting wrongthink on Facebook. By claiming it’s offensive! The elite that are intentionally offending Christians, while arresting Christians for professing our faith, since it offends other religions, clearly aren’t fair actors but zealots on a mission. That mission, judged purely buy their actions… is to eliminate Christianity. In doing so, they’re building a Beast System. Resurrection day is the most holy day to Christians. It’s the day Christ rose from the dead, proving his covenant with us and God, to carry our sins for us, having paid for them with his own flesh. All of our sins were paid for by that man at that time. So we won’t have to. All he asks of us is that we accept the gift. Instead of suffering the consequences in the forever, for our sins, they will be forgiven, and we can experience whatever is on the other side without burden. A guy offers a free gift of unimaginable value yet is loathed by the elite. The most sinful among us. I suspect Resurrection day has been under assault for centuries… else how did Resurrection day get called Easter? Named after a Pagan fertility deity. Especially, since our elite have embraced death… primarily abortion. There’s a spate of church bombings going on in Las Vegas NE. Someone is tossing explosive devices into churches and religious events. Several people have been injured. The local police, I’m sure, are doing the bang up job we’ve come to expect of them… like the Vegas mass shooting. Count on the FBI setting on their hands, they’re too busy chasing down grandmothers posting wrongthink on social media. The arson attacks against pro life adoption, and obgyn centers, has been very worrying for the elite. It might make folks think, people who dismember babies for fun and profit… are violent. The lack of effective police investigation in all these crimes stand in stark contrast, to the national manhunt the FBI did, in hunting down the evil man who put bacon on the door of a Mosque. An offensive Facebook post will get you visited by the FBI. Migrants must not be offended! That’s the role of citizens. Like Catholics who were put under FBI monitoring. Because, you know, those Knights of Columbus, raising money, donating it to charity and by doing so, improving the lot of Mankind… are clearly anti revolutionary. Like parents who go to school board meetings and speak up. The FBI’s new role is to hunt down citizens that get politically out of line, not arresting criminals. The American Geheime Staatz Police, (GESTAPO) . The local police can do that work. When they free up from assisting the FBI in early morning raids of pastors. Because we all know, anyone preaching to a group of people must speak the party line, else they’re a threat to the party. The thing about hypocrisy is, most hypocrites are smart enough to keep it hidden, as best they can. Only a retard would expose their hypocrisy publicly. Like Biden and his half witted administration has. In post constitutional Amerika, Biden’s Amerika, Christians and citizens aren’t safe in our homes, at school or church. Non Christians however, are safe anywhere in the US, (or Europe for that matter) because Christians protect them… their homes and places of worship. Even as ours are intentionally invaded. Abetted by government. One solution to hypocrisy, is to point it out, and mercilessly ridicule the hypocrites. Meanwhile, our elites are building the Beast System, one hypocrisy at a time. In a thousand years, wading in the lake of fire, the elite still won’t understand how it happened. Sincerely, John Pepin
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Pointing Upward: Luke 14:7-24
Cam
 March 20 2024 at 11:00 am
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Luke 14:7-24 is one of the richest passages in the gospels for learning ideas about who God is and what He is like. Most often, we like to jump into the parable and into the heart of what Jesus is revealing about God. However, in this post, let’s look at how Jesus sets up this parable. He probably was seated in a large room at one of the places of honor, and there were probably many people who were making a mad dash to sit near Him or at other prominent places. In setting up this illustration, Jesus directs His first words to the guests of this meal: Don’t seek out the places of honor – because you don’t know if someone more honorable is running late. The worst thing you can face as a guest at a banquet is choosing a seat and then being asked to move down in position. That is public humiliation that you brought on yourself. It would be better to take the worst seat in the room, that way when the host sees you, you will get public recognition and be honored to a better place. Now I don’t know if I have ever witnessed someone being asked to move where they were seated, but I do know that I have set myself up for this type of humiliation. At a special event I attended while in college, I was not asked to move, but I did inch my way into a more prominent seat that what would not normally have happened. Perhaps it was the host wanting to be nice, or the environment that allowed for an extra seat, but in reality, I know I probably should have been asked to move down in status. However, the truth Jesus is trying to teach is broader than simply seat position. He is teaching us a truth about life. Choose to be humble and let others do the exalting. There is nothing appealing about someone who thinks they are more special than they really are. Those who have figuratively “big heads” are not people who we like being around. However, those who choose humility and to lift others up are people who we do like to spend time with. They are people who help others be better and who help you feel happier after having spent a few moments together. These people have an inner spirit that is attractive and positive. I believe Jesus was this type of person. I don’t remember seeing anything that makes me think that He played the position “God”-card in any situation. Satan tempted Him to do so numerous times, but He never fell for this trap. Instead, Jesus exalted God the Father and the Holy Spirit whenever He was praised. People praised God when they witnessed Jesus perform miracles. Jesus never let the glory rest on Himself; He always pointed it upward. And this leads us to our own lives. We too should always choose humility over exaltation and forwarding the glory onward and upward. It is what Jesus did, and He called us to be like Him. We should never seek glory for ourselves, but point others to the One who really deserves the glory. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Anonymous Jesus: John 5:1-15
Cam
 April 05 2024 at 11:00 am
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Aside from the disciples, of all the people in the gospels to be focused on Jesus, there was one group who seemed to be almost everywhere Jesus went. This group, known as the Pharisees, didn’t watch Jesus because they wanted to believe in Him. Instead, they watched Him because they wanted to catch Him breaking a law or saying something wrong. However, during one of Jesus’ miracles, the Pharisees missed being present, even if they were present in the area where this healing took place. While John doesn’t specifically mention the Pharisees by name in this passage, he simply refers to them as Jews – and these were likely the Jewish religious leaders, and many of them would have been Pharisees. John describes what happened immediately after Jesus healed the man by the pool of Bethesda by saying, “Now that day was the Sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘This is the Sabbath! It’s illegal for you to pick up your mat.’” (John 5:9b-10 HCSB) Now the healed man had a problem. He responded that he was basically just following directions. He replied saying, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” (John 5:11 HCSB) “‘Who is this man who told you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ they asked. But the man who was cured did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.” (John 5:12-13 HCSB) The man didn’t know who Jesus was when he was healed. This is a powerful thought. In this miracle, we can see that Jesus heals based on our need and not on the condition that we respond by calling Him God. The man had no idea who Jesus was. He simply was obeying the instructions of someone he believed God had sent his way. Reading this portion of Jesus’ miracle prompts me to wonder if God is willing to act and help anyone who needs help, regardless of their current attitude and regardless of whether they will acknowledge Him. The man who was healed didn’t praise God or worship Jesus following his healing. Instead, he was caught breaking the Jew’s legalistic Sabbath laws. In this miracle, we can see a theme that is touched on in other parts of the Bible as well. This theme points us to God’s character and His love. Jesus came into this world to show God to us. This wasn’t because He wanted to help people on the condition that they would worship God with a correct frame of mind. Instead it was to counter the devil’s accusations about what God was like. Satan has done a masterful job of presenting God as a villain, and Jesus came to simply show us a different picture of God – a picture that demonstrates selfless love, and a powerful invitation to respond to His love. This miracle at Bethesda helps us see a loving Jesus and a loving God. God is Someone who is willing to help even if He doesn’t get the credit. God is willing to help even if we are trapped in rebellion against Him. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Letting Our Light...
Cam
 April 06 2024 at 10:45 am
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“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:14‑16 NIV) “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5‑6 NIV) “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14‑16 NIV) Most people who have been Christians for any length of time understand that Jesus challenged His followers to spread the gospel message. However, in today’s culture, many appear to have forgotten what this means. In the past decade, I’ve witnessed many friends get sucked into focusing more on the politics of today’s culture than on the freedom that comes through leaning on Jesus. I’ve seen those who share the same faith become more interested in proving a political point than in following the challenges of Jesus. However, those who choose to stand up for Jesus should remember the words of Peter, Paul, and Jesus. Peter challenges us to be prepared to give an “answer” and to do so with gentleness and respect. While people may accuse us, lie about us, and slander the name of Jesus, Peter challenges us to respond differently. We are to respond with the love of Jesus, with gentleness and respect. About the only harsh words Jesus spoke were to the religious leaders, not to those He came to show God’s love to. Paul challenges us to be wise and to make the most of every opportunity. However, he too challenges us to be full of grace in all our conversations with others. Being seasoned with salt draws attention to saying challenging truths, but the truth should never drown out the love and grace of our message. Jesus challenges us by saying that we are the light of the world. This is more true today than perhaps at many other times in history. However, as the light of the world and as a town built on a hill, He challenges us to live our lives in a way that cannot be ignored — even if we would rather be ignored. Jesus challenges us to let our light shine through our good deeds so that God will receive glory. As we look forward to the day Jesus returns, let’s together accept the challenge found in these three verses and letting God’s light and love shine through us for all to see. 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍

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