Saturday, September 11, 2010





Dr. Seshachalam Dutta

Hindus are subject to a variety of scams in recent years, -for example, expensive yoga workshops are some 50 Billion Dollar enterprise. Of late, Yajnyas or Yaagas are recent addition to the scam. As the Indian population in the West is increasingly prosperous, these scams have spread to offshore from India. We like to examine the Yaagas promoted in the U.S. I received recently from Atlanta Temple an announcement of Koti (crore) Kunkum Archana for Lakshmi, spanning several days, a yajnya that was budgeted for several hundred thousand dollars. Similarly there were two Yajnyas in New Jersey recently, with the participation of at least 100 priests, one of which was conducted by Jeer Swami.

While I do not know the format of New Jersey show, I received as donor detailed format of a third Yajnya in Atlanta, which was an offering to Lakshmi by incantation of Shree Sukta. Yaaga “fire” (Agni) would carry the message to Lakshmi. The implication is that this ritual is more effective than prayer offered to Lakshmi individually or in groups as we do in temples ; and every day by women at dusk after lighting the lamp (in India) and praise Lakshmi as lokaika deepankuram or of Varalakshmi Vratam, a special ritual annually performed by many devoted Hindu women. In addition to priests in this country, the New Jersey folks have imported a few from India from different groups including a few from Jeer Swami’s sect, not to deny the slot in the show, a politically wise move.


Yajnyaas are antiquated practices in Hinduism for several centuries. They were performed by Hindus in Vedic times when there were no temples. Occasionally the ritual was performed by Vedic scholars in some towns as in my native village which I witnessed several years ago. Usually they are somayaajis, custodians of Vedic tradition. Yajnya starts with a simple hole (a pit) in the ground, with bricks arranged around it and fire generated by rubbing two pieces of wood as the Man initially made the fire at the dawn of human civilization. The ritual proceeds with chanting of Vedic Mantras for several days.

There were several types of Yajnyaas, Ashwamedha where a horse was sacrificed, even Naramedha where a human being was sacrificed which appeared to have been abandoned later (many centuries or millennia ago.) However, V.S. Naipaul mentions that Naramedha was practiced in Vijay Nagara Empire, usually before the start of military campaign. Goutama Buddha spent his life time opposing the animal sacrifice in Yajnyas. In response to Muslim challenge to idolatry by Hindus, Swami Dayaananda Saraswati started Arya Samaaj and revived Yajnyaas in a modern form, but as a substitute to Image worship. The implication is that mental worship (maanasica puja) without a statue is superior. . The practice of Yajnya still prevailed in the courts of Hindu kings, who alone could afford the expensive ritual.The King Chintamala continued yajnyaas at the same time as the Great Buddhist Nagaarjuna was in his court attracting worldwide attention. It was a matter of prestige for the king to perform them.

Bhagavad Gita makes reference to such vain glorious people (Aadhyo abhijanavanosmi, konyosti mayaa sadruSa yaskshye dasyaami, etc.) meaning that “I am from a great family, I perform Yajnyaas and give great gifts, who is equal to me," so they say (paraphrased). Such people go to “hell—a foul hell.” The pattern is similar to the boastful people who brag that they have given Million Dollar crown for God Balaji! One yaaga called Satra yaaga used to be performed for 360 days! Priest used to perform Jyotistoma yaaga for the defeat and death of the enemy before the king went on military adventures.

Fortunately that was all in the very remote past.

With the influence of Buddhism and Jainism (circa 500 BCE), the Yajnyas became outdated. When the new tribes from Central Asia settled in Rajasthan, according to Vivekananda, the priests anointed them as Kshatriyas (Khatris) and revived the Yajnyas.


According to the “shaastra” definition of Yajnya, only Brahmins, Vaishyaas and Kshatriyaas are allowed to perform Yajnya, Shudraas are forbidden. There are five Yajnyaas, listed as Panch Mahaa Yajnyaas to be performed by them. Agnihotra, Pitru, Deva, Rishi and Bhuta yajnyaas. Aitareya Brahmana says a man is born with three debts, “Pitru, Rishi, and Deva” (riNas). There are demigods “up there” (not very dissimilar concept than the ‘father in heaven’ but instead of one there may be many) and by doing yajnya offering they will be pleased and provide for your needs. (Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, burns the letters by the devotees on the top floor of his towering building to send the prayers and devotee’s wishes directly to Him in the smoke.) (So though this concept is age old and is still extant even in the U.S.) Early “Aryans” seemed to be patriarchal and ignored Matru Yajnya for mothers, reminding us of the current Islamic terrorists who believe in 72 virgins waiting for them in heaven if they die of Jihad. Which heaven do their mothers, sisters, and women they loved go to? Of course, they are too violent even to sport such questions with a sense of humor.

References to karma kaanda in Gita:Contrary to the central message of Gita, some of the Vedic ritualistic message crept into Gita, for example,

Devaan Bhaavayataanena te devaah bhaavayantuvah /parasparam bhaava yantahshreyh paramaapyadha. Gita 111 ,11) ‘You worship gods and they in turn are pleased to help you in a mutual stance’.

There is this give and take between these demigods and humans! As the concept of one God, “Ishwara,” developed the importance of these rituals diminished. If the grace of “One God” (Ishwara) is bestowed on us we need not worship these demi gods.

Some of the verses in Bhagavad Gita represent denouncement of the primitive Karma Kanda of Vedas and some perhaps later additions which are difficult to reconcile with the central theme of Gitopanishad. For instance the verse that says:

Annaat Bhavanti Bhootani……Parjanyaat Annasambhavah Yajnyaat Bhavati Parjanyo ( GIta 1V, 14): That rain comes only as the priests perform Yaaga is patently absurd and defies common sense. (Here we must note that the words, Agni and Yajnya, are likely to have cosmological meanings related to transformations which are perpetual in the Universe, and therefore, transforation from ocean water to clouds, and from the clouds to rain, is in itself a yajnya in the Universe which does not require mediation by any priest). Worshiping demigods did not come from Upanishads which are the source for Gita but from the notorious Manu to whom the origin of this quote was attributed. According to Manu the shudras -the fourth ranking caste- is forbidden from performing Yajnaas. Manu’s treatise “Manusmriti” was seen to be discarded by many modern Hindu reformists in the 19th and 20th Century. Some secularists even burnt the book in the public. (See the article on theoretical basis of caste by this author in

Essence of Gita is totally opposed to the Vedic ritual of karma kaanda is well illustrated. For example:

Yaam imaam pushpitam vaachyam pravadant yavipaschitah
Vedvaadarataah Paartha nanyadasti iti vaadinah,
(Gita, 2: 42 also verse 44, 45 and 46) “The ignorant souls, the Veda adherents speak in flowering words. They argue there is nothing greater (than Vedic Karma kandaas).”

Also, Bhogaiswarya prasaktaanaam taya-apahritachetasaam…..vyavasaayatmika buddhihi samaadhau na vidheyate. Misguided people (apahrita chetasaam) follow the practice of Vedic rituals for heavenly pleasures. Lord Krishna admonishes not to follow this path. Also,

Traigunya vishayaa vedaah, Nistraigunya bhavaarjuna.” Vedas are of materialistic concern,. “Arjuna, you should go beyond materialist concerns” (become trigunaateeta). Why is there a need for Vedic rituals for a person who has achieved the state of Brahman. (Yavaanardha udapaane samplodake thavaan sarveshu vedeshu braahmane vijaanataah ) Vedas are just only as useful as small wells of waters when knowledge of Brahman is comparable to large flood allover: where is the need for small puddles?

Lord Krishna admonishes not to be distracted by diverse ways of conflicting scripture (shruti vipratipanna) since the message of Gita is straight forward. He advocates (Jnyanaagni dagdha karmanaam). Sacrifice all the karmas in the fire of knowledge and intellect; further reinforces that he is showing the way by saying:

Aham Kraturaham, Yajnyah swadharmaaham –aushadam, mantroham eva aajyam ahamagnir aham hutam. I am the source, means, and goal of Yajnya. Final summation of Gita is in the shloka: ‘Sarvadharmaan parityajya Maamekam sharanam vraja /aham twaam sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa shuchah.’ “Abandon all the dharmas (meaning dharmic rituals like aahnikas). Take refuge only in me, I will free you from all sins and do not grieve.” Raamaanujaachaarya regarded this as final message in Gita (charana shloka) and nothing need be said after this.

With this clear message on karma kaanda, how did the Gita commentators reconcile this with performing Yajnyaas? Simply they didn’t. Either they ignored the subject or in other words trashed it out. Here are a few examples.

Radhakrishnan calls it Vedic Cult, which he referred to in his other works as primitive.

Aurobindo Ghosh dismissed them as obsolete.

Bhakti Vedaanta Prabhupaada called for different interpretation of yajnya as Naama Yajnya or Sankirtana Yajnya. Here is another attempt to redefine Yajnya without abnegating the scriptures.

Kashmiri Shaivite scholar Abhinava Gupta (Gitaartha Sangraha) interpreted Devaas as Indriyaas (sense organs) and they should be satisfied following Kashmiri Shiva tantra. In short there is no merit in advocating worship of several Gods through Yajnyaas, especially when Lord Krishna says that he is the source, means, and enjoyer of all yajnyas! {Also see interpretation of the word "deva" in another article on this blog: Instant Ramayana and Mahabharata (Part II)}

Hinduism outpaced Vedic culture of Yaagas at one level and Shakti puja in her terrible form later at another level and was superseded by Upanishadic thoughts. Yajnyaas were replaced by Aagama shaastras, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakti tantra and Buddhist Aagamas. But old habits rarely die. Ritwiks still practiced into the modern times occasionally, if they find someone to sponsor them. In my village in Andhra, Somayajee performed a few times Yajnya which I had occasion to witness. The animal sacrifice (Jantu bali) was horrific. The goat or ram was choked by closing all outlets (nava randhras) and the diaphragm removed and fried on a bush for prasaadam. It was a yajnya for bringing rain! Of course, it did rain –seasonally!

The animal sacrifice is elaborate in Yajnyaas, but essentially not much different in folk practice of offering buffalo heads to village deity, with this difference; the ax wielding man would cut the head with one blow, a more act of killing an animal... Aarya samaaj of Dayaananda Saraswati has done great service in stopping this barbaric practice. The latest version is the Yajnya without Bhuta Bali (animal sacrifice); but the theme is the same of offering services to demigods, or any God abnegating the Agamas. The priest is telling he would perform this rite at an enormous cost in place of temple worship or other forms of worship. Prahlaada enumerated nine forms of divine worship (Nava vidha Bhakti)none through yaagas. Bhakti is no use to the yaagic and yaagnic priests. The ritual overrides other forms of worship. Hence it is so primitive and antiquated.

What is wrong in reviving the Vedic cults?

First of all, people are told to believe that God is directly accessible only to the priest by chanting the Sanskrit mantras and that this form of worship is superior to daily worship in temples. Since most, including Brahmins have no access to the process; the priest is an Intermediate between God and disciple or devotee. You beget grace of God through the mediation of the priest- very similar to medieval papal selling of certificates to heaven. Secondly, the Shudraas, who are bulk of Hindu population, are disqualified in partaking in the process. They give the money to the priests; that is the extent of their participation. Thirdly, they revive the fundamentalism of primitive worship of throwing everything in fire at an enormous expense- engaging hundreds priest, stationed and supported for weeks, sapping the much needed resources collected for the temples and other Hindu cultural activities. It only enforces the priestly tyranny as in the old Catholic Church. This is the height of priestly superiority and deception of the gullible Hindus, other non-priest Brahmins and non-Brahmins alike.

While retaining the concept of sacrifice as central to Yajnya, later scholars try to differentiate offering of material (dravya Yajnya) from offering of respect by other means like acquisition of knowledge as Jnyana yajnya (here again the meaning of “yajnya” becomes clear as related to transformation by acquiring knowledge). Even simple offering of respect is a sacrifice as in offering to departed parents by chanting “shraddhaam juhomi”, I offer my respect. The genius of Hindutva is to reconcile various traditions without undue discard, harmonizing of different traditions without sacrificing centrality of Hindu culture.

Hinduism is a living progressive tradition called a "religion," if at all it fits the definition of religion as understood in the West. Starting with offerings to Indra through Yajnya, the concept that one God and only one God need be worshipped has been developed. Of course, there is always question of the nature of that one God. Hinduism is such an evolving "religion," even in Vedic literature by the time we come to eighth mandala, the existence of Indra was questioned. Bhagavad Puraana presented how Giridhari Krishna ridiculed Indra. By Bhakti and Yoga movements, Hinduism became YOGA PRADHAANA from YAJNYA PRADHAANA, emphasis being laid on Bhakti yoga, Jnyana yoga and Karma Yoga. To reconcile with the concept of Yajnya, jnyaana yajnya gained importance.

Let us examine the Yajnya of Jeer Swami in this light. Jeer Swami was famously known to have demanded that the Vikhanasa priests in Tirupati temple be replaced by the ones from his sect Pancharatna Aagama Vaishnavaas, obviously an extreme sectarian demand. Now he wanted to do Yajnya for the World Peace, a noble venture in the U.S. He should remember charity begins at home. But, there is something lacking in the universality of his followers. The priests he brought with him would not eat food cooked by non-Brahmins or Shudras; they demanded that they should be served food cooked only by Brahmins, a slap on the face of all shudraas or non-Brahmins who financed his venture. It is also an insult to the non-Brahmins who have donated to the temple which is organizing or allowing the ritual of yajnya to be performed in the temple created with the funds raised from non-Brahmins also. It is sad that these people have forgotten that Raamaanujaachaarya raised the “Panchamas” (untouchable) to the position of Alvars. Besides, as there is no test, - much less a DNA test, to determine them to be Brahmins in the U.S., caste is a self certification in the U.S. as also in India; we take their word for it. This form of “untouchability” ( the belief that the shudra defiles the sanctity of food by merely touching the cooking vessel!) is incomprehensible and a complete reversal of progress recently achieved even in S.V Temple at Tirupati in India where Panchamas (formerly untouchable caste or even casteless people) are inducted into priesthood by training them in Aagamas, the liturgical services. Such retrogression in the face of progressive social reforms in Jeer swami’s own alma mater, so to say, and bringing such untouchability among the Hindus in the U.S. is most definitely deplorable in the 21st Century.

In a temple in Oklahoma, one of the followers of Jeer swami once proclaimed that smoke from the offerings in the homa or yajnya goes directly to heaven as well as the entire chanting is also heard there and the devotees should chant louder. He was not abashed that he was talking to predominantly an audience of scientists (engineers and physicians) while he was implying that the noise breaks the atmospheric sound barriers and smoke penetrates the stratosphere! The offerings in yajnya are the materials consumed by Agni, and therefore, supposed to go to Gods, but not the waste products like smoke. Their "mentor and Guru" is not very far behind them in mixing science with fictional theology. On another occasion the same sophisticated audience was told by Jeer Swami that every cell in the body has Atman along with DNA and when a person dies, Atman leaves the body along with DNA from every cell. Not really. The hair follicles are active, growing the hair on the skin for some time after autopsy. No one asked about what happens to the DNA in heart used for transplants in heart transplant cases. Does recipient of another person’s heart has two separate Atmas? We give these people, who come from India to preach, our precious dollars but more importantly give them international prestige to market themselves in India as the "America returned world leaders of Hindutva". Instead there is a better way to serve the Hindus. Our temples probably have much to learn from the Christian Churches in their concepts and practices of "service" or "seva" of the community, the infirm, sick, aged, and children, orphans and the poor. Promoting Yajnyas and Yagaas by such "orthodox" priests in the U.S. will hold the temple authorities accountable to the rational donors who do not endorse such
discriminatory and insulting practices towards the sections of their donors and members of their community on the basis of their caste.

Hindus should spend more time and resources teaching and learning basic Sanskrit-that is all it takes, basic skills, to understand the mantras and shlokas to follow the rituals, instead of listening to some gibberish uttered by the priests for hours. When the ritwiks chant Vedic verses, the verses are usually beyond the comprehension of these priests themselves. As Jesus Mendelssohn, the great German Jewish philosopher once said, referring to unintelligible Hebrew incantations of his time, that one word uttered with comprehension of its meaning is better than thousand words which make no sense; in fact, it was Buddha who said this long before him, when he began preaching in Prakrit. Reading and memorizing and listening to Vedas without understanding are a hopeless burden. As the great Vedic commentator Saayanaachaarya wrote, such an effort to memorize and chant Vedas is like a donkey carrying the sandalwood; it only knows the weight but not its fragrance. So Hindus, of all ages, should make a serious effort to learn basic Sanskrit. For learning there is no age limit, as it is said “ajaraamaraat praajnyah vidyaam- aradhanata chintayet.” For wise, learning never ceases throughout life. Lifelong learning habits applied to learn Sanskrit will reduce the need for reliance on poorly trained and poorly educated “priests.” They are usually not Sanskrit pundits but have only memorized the chantings without learning their meaning even after 7 to 10 years of training (pathaantara) and must not be compared to PH.D.'s.or other erudite scholars. They have a pride of place in India but for the educated and enlightened population in the U.S. to be taken advantage of by such priests with some Hindus furthermore fearing that they will give shaapas to their critics if they are displeased is definitely adhering to superstition, going backward in our maturational process as Hindus.

In this context it is apt to recall the words of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:
“After a long winter of some centuries we are today in one of the creative periods of Hinduism.

There is much wood that is dead and diseased that has to be cleared away. The leaders of Hindu thought and practice are convinced that the times require, not surrendering the basic principles of Hinduism, but a restatement of them with special reference to the needs of more complex and mobile social order.”

Why didn’t Radhakrishnan elaborate on the dead and diseased wood of Hindutva? He was a politician and it was not politically correct to spell out the details. He thus left to us to discern, debate and decide and to wage the unpleasant battle, as it happened throughout history to reorganize and reorder the Hindu society not only in its diverse religious traditions, but also to enrich Hindu way of life to create a distinctive national character compositely called Hindutva, which in turn leads to harmonizing of diverse traditions into vibrant social organism called Hindu Society. It is incumbent on all Hindus to stop internal deterioration while spiritedly fighting external threats of proselytizing forces and the threats of dispirited anti-Hindu Hindus and the other hinduphobics. Educated and well informed Hindus in the U.S. have an obligation to enlighten the gullible among them so that their blind faith is not taken advantage of by misguided, or worse still, most likely sociopathic “priests” from India, and sinister yogis, fake Sanyaasis, and yagnics. Hindus can reform themselves and need to do so continuously and not just remain reactively defensive about criticism from outside their fold. There is a vast difference between well meaning sincere faith (Shraddhaa) and blind faith (Andha Shraddhaa)used to exploit people and who else but the educated Hindus are to be discrete in this domain? The temples supported by "secular" Hindus, that do not foster discrimination based on caste, even have more responsibility to delineate this difference and to discourage petty parochialism,
cults, "untouchability", and primitive superstition manifested recently in the U.S. in reviving Yajnyas and Yaagas.

** The author sincerely invites critique of this article. Please send comments to

** The author sincerely invites critique of this article. Please send comments to

Comments on:


by Dr. Seshachalam Dutta

I was sent this posting by a friend, with a specific request to comment on a recent pooja at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta. I am a trustee of the temple and its immediate past president. My comments are based on my personal observation and are not the position of the temple. An officer of the temple may or may not choose to reply to the author’s statements.

I am saddened by the use of the word “scam” by the author, without any basis and implicating a respected institution like the Hindu Temple of Atlanta by name. I do not know the basis of the statements he made in regards to the temple and I do not know what the qualifications, knowledge, or scholarship of the author are that will give him the credibility to speak on behalf of the Hindu community. His long article that has many things thrown together under the headline that included the word “scam” is a disservice to Hindus worldwide, since this posting is searchable by any search engine.

I will comment on the author’s statement about yagnyas, yaagas and poojas being “scams” and will describe the process of decision making at our temple. I will not comment on the many other statements the author made on several other topics.

The word Scam conveys at least two things: deception and fraud.

Some current and recent examples of scams:

--Emails announcing that some one has won millions and tricking the gullible person into parting with money or personal financial information.
--The defrauding of investors by Bernie Madoff.

Examples of popular beliefs that are known to be untrue:

--The idea of Santa Claus and his marketing to children (and adults) for brisk christmas sales. The national economy is dependent on it! ? Scam

Examples of people making decisions, that are not financially smart:

--Bottled water (which is repeatedly shown to be no better than tap water)
--Buying a Lexus, when it is really a Camry, with some upgrades.
? Are these scams.

The author mentions his decision to donate money to an event (“I received as donor detailed format of a third Yajnya in Atlanta, which was an offering to Lakshmi by incantation of Shree Sukta. Yaaga “fire” (Agni) would carry the message to Lakshmi. The implication is that this ritual is more effective than prayer offered to Lakshmi individually or in groups as we do in temples…”)

He (the author) made a decision to purchase a service, presumably he believed in the validity of the yagnya. It will be similar to buying a Lexus, instead of a Camry. But that is his choice. There is no deceit and fraud, and therefore, no scam.

Koti Kumkumarchana at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta:

The Hindu Temple of Atlanta has been serving the religious and spiritual needs of the community for over 25 years. Hindus, regardless of their caste, constitute the congregation, and are welcome at the temple. Administrative decisions are made by a duly elected executive committee, with an oversight provided by the board of trustees.

I was the Vice-President of the temple in 2006, when the proposal for Koti Kumkuma Archana was first presented to me by a group of devotees and trustees of the temple. A respected priest, who is very knowledgeable in the procedure and the work involved and who was visiting our temple at that time, met with me separately and gave me details of what is involved. I gave that information to the then president and again reviewed the proposal during my presidency. Due to the costs, logistics and the manpower needs, as well as other priorties during my term, I did not pursue the project.

When my successor executive committee took office, the proposal was again presented to the president. She discussed the issue with her pooja committee, several devotees and trustees and presented the proposal to the full executive committee. A draft budget was preprared and the executive committee voted on the proposal and approved it. It then went to the Board of Trustees, where the issue was fully discussed and after considerable debate and deliberations, the board of trustees approved the project, with guidelines for budget and fund raising in place to support the event. Then, the president, the chair of the pooja committee and other core group members worked for nine months so that the 100 day event could be successfully completed.

The Hindu Temple of Atlanta is an organization supported by voluntary contributions. There is no annual membership fee. No one is required to pay any money to visit the temple and have a Darshan or participate in any event organized by the temple. Thousands of devotees attended the 100 day event without making any financial contribution towards this event. They all appreciated the dedication of the volunteers and understood the knowledge and scholarship of the visiting priests. The trustees and executive committee members who organized the event donated the bulk of funds needed for this undertaking. There was no personal gain to any of them.

The guest priests who came from India are individuals who spent more than a decade or so of their lives ( 7-12 years) learning the Vedas, the liturgy and ritual of the religion and its observance both at home and at a public place like the temple. They made sacrifices to become good at what they do. One may not agree with what they have learnt or say, but nonetheless they are scholars in their chosen field of knowledge, much like a person who earns a Ph.D in a rare field such as Mayan civilizatiion or becomes a Latin scholar. These priests and that PhD are not rich but certainly they are not frauds.

I now return to the premise of the author that revival of Yagnya is a scam.
I do not see how one can intelligently come to that conclusion or make a public statement using the example of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta or any similar institution. Every person has the freedom to believe in what he or she chooses and spend money however he or she chooses.

Hinduism, like all religions, has its dark spots and it is ostracized for its faults more than any other faith and not given credit for what is rightfully its contribution to world knowledge and tradition. Yoga is a good example of such an attempt. In such a hostile environment, it is the responsibility of those who take it upon themselves to speak on behalf of Hindus, to be very careful about what they say.

I hope that this will be posted as a reply to the blog, so that readers will have an opportunity to read a counter point.

P. Ravi Sarma, MD
Atlanta, GA

A response to Ravi Sarma, M.D.’s critique of Dr. Seshachalam Dutta’s article
Dr. Seshachalam Dutta

A few material corrections of the critic should be addressed at the outset...

1) I did not donate to the yajnya but only to the temple last year

2) I did not include puja along with Yajnya.

3) I do not speak for Hindu community, but only for myself.

Once we clear these errors, I would not question Dr. Ravi Sarma’s ‘qualifications, knowledge and scholarship’: in so doing we will reduce the debate to undignified ad hominem argument, unfit for civil discourse.

Dr. Sarma’s main contention is the use of the word scam to describe the revival of expensive and grand scale yajnyas. Scam is indeed a fraud, deceit, misleading action or a gimmick, which can be illegal and punishable by law. In matters of religious or faith based activities, fraud escapes the law for example, to sell tickets to Moon, knowing full well that the travel cannot be delivered, is a fraud and the seller may go to jail. Selling tickets to Heaven, it is also a fraud, never-the-less, not punishable by law; although, the seller may go to Hell!! Evangelists do that all the time, but the Ritviks seem to have a taken a leaf out of them. My observation of the Hindu priests is generalization, not pertaining only specifically to those who came to Atlanta. My question is: Irrespective of their unproven but presumed scholarship, can they be allowed to practice untouchability in this country? Even that, in temples that have collected money from non-Brahmins donors also?

The critic’s defense of Yoga merchants is puzzling. Here, he, as an M.D., is eminently qualified to make a judgment. Swami Nityananda , Baba Ramdev and even other less prominent Yoga publicists promise to cure cancer and diabetes (cure—not control!), among other illnesses, through yoga! I wish Indian Physicians have the courage to stop this nonsense. Even AAPI should expose these quacks. Unfortunately, on the contrary, AAPI went on the limb by hosting the ignoble Nityananda at their Dallas conference giving him an undue prominence as a “healer” recognized by AAPI.




  2. The following is the response of the author to above comment.

    Means should be justifiable as much as the end.

    Scam by definition is a fraudulent act or a deception. It could also mean to swindle, a hoax, gimmick or sham, e.g. quackery referring to alternatve medicine.

    The whole thrust of this article is to reveal that there is an effort to revive an expensive ritual that has become obsolete even in India. This ritual has been discredited and superceded by other practices, like Deity worship. Mega Yajnyas and Mega Yaagas are a hoax. The author has already pointed out that Hinduism became Yogapradhana superceding the previous Yajnyapradana mode. To convince gullible people that the priests' chanting the mantras including Shreesookta and pouring ghee and other valuable materials in fire (dravya Yajnya) is a direct approach to Goddess Lakshmi is a gimmick. It may be entertaining at a cost-- and the chantings may have a hypnotic effect on the audience,-- but nevertheless it is a gimmick.

    To collect several hundred thousand dollars and feed several dozen priests (sometimes one hundred imported priests)for three months to a year to conduct such rituals is a "swindle" of the trusting devotees. Atlanta Indians are so wealthy that this can go on for 360 days making yajnya a Satra Yaaga, unless someone exposes the sham and the responsible community leaders can put a stop to this scam.

    Only bright line is Annadaana, feeding the poor for which funds were raised separately; unfortunately that amount was much less compared to the revenue raised for yajnyas and yaagas. So the local visible philanthropic activity can also be seen as only a window-dressing.

  3. Selling a certificate for the entry into heaven with an airline ticket for use after death may be a scam but giving a first class ticket upgrade for more money may be a bigger scam, even if the money is raised hypothetically for the Church that sponsors such activity. This is not illegal like a fraud in collecting money by selling land on the moon but certainly can be classified as a "scam" but Hindus have to sort out what is a scam and what is not. So, the debate will continue on this web-site.

  4. Friend it is good to hear your words that the ritualistic aspects of vedas is false.
    Your logic is based on the following premises.
    1. The world around us is composed of only those materials and processes, which can be interpreted by the brain.
    2. That the priests talk only gibberish without any kind of spiritual experience
    3. That the vedic chants are gibberish incapable of producing spiritual effect on the listner.

    While 2 and 3 are what you can call views arising out of one's own experience and the belief in viewpoints of the people whom one adores. Radakrishnan is a scholar at best and if he ever had a spiritual experience then that means even rogues and thieves can become god. I base this on fact on his personal life as exposed by his own son. That became relevant because, the first condition for a person to be a critique of spiritual experiences,is that the person should have a pure heart. Why are 2 and 3 not logical statements. 2 and 3 are not logical because it is based on the assumption that one's own personal experiences should be used to judge the experience of others. If the article had just stopped by saying that "the personal experiences of many people including myself" makes me believe that these rituals are a waste then I can understand that you are a thinking person. But thats not what you say and hence your statement 2 and 3 is certainly not logical.
    Regarding statement 1, from a logical standpoint this kind of assumption is derived from the blind belief that the average human brain is perfectly wired to experience every physical phenomena in the universe. I call it a blind belief because there is no indeniable truth here. That is just a standpoint. It is a faith in a worldview. We are certain that we see an object because there are others who concur with our opinion. But how useful is that concurrence if all these brains which concur are wired similarly. The world we see is only because of the wiring of the brain according to science. Then it is absurd to hold on to a view that evolution has somehow developed a brain wiring which is perfectly capable of understanding and experiencing all physical phenomena. As is self evident this absurd view cannot be defended and this absurd view has led to the "non solution " to the Brain in the VAT Problem. Infact this kind of absurd thinking has led scientists to deny evidences in support of things like reincarnation. For example the brain cannot see or observe any particular transformation in the body or its elements which can support the reincarnation clause. But reincarnation exists. The difficulty in understanding the linkage between an evidence and a concept due to rigid and illogical positions is a tragedy. Once we realize that 1 is just an assumption and should not be a basis for proposing any logical explanation of worldly phenomenon, we can become more open minded and that way you wouldnt have made statements in line with 2 and 3.
    Further comments : 1 is a blind belief, 2 is untrue from my perspective and 3 is also untrue from my perspective because my personal experiences are contrary to yours. On the whole your article falls apart because you rely on 1 and make 2 and 3 in an undemocratic fashion.