Sunday, August 31, 2008

Concept of universal religion ( Swami Vivekananda)

Swami Vivekananda's Chicago speech - Why we disagree

Swami Vivekananda - Universal acceptance of all religion

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More Links on Religion and Secularism

An interesting discussion on how modernist Western thinking sees the interaction between religion and the law: (click here)

Gandhi on a secular state: (click here)

C.M. Naim on the rank and status of Indian Muslims (click here)

David Brooks on religion and secularism in today's U.S. political scene (click here)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Muslims in Europe (in mp3) (click here)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Origin of religions

More links to what's put up under Secularism. (Mostly all evolutionary.)

[1] Evolution and Religion: Darwin's God. By Robin Henig in the NYT Magazine, on Scott Atran's research on a Darwinian approach to evolution of religions.

[2] Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion:

[3] Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society, by David Sloan Wilson.
[4] An interesting discussion and analysis in the Gene Expression science blog.

[5] Richard Dawkins on TED Talks: An Atheist's call to arms

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Hi all,

Last week, we decided to pick secularism as this week's topic. My question is:

What is the origin of various religions? What did they mean when they were formed? Have they changed – evolved/devolved over the period of time? Was various rituals part of the religion on day one? Does religion (and rituals) really mean anything in today’s world?

Here are few links:

Origin and development:

Religious Vs Non religious belief systems:

Pls read thru the various related pages on wiki...

More links:

limited preview book:,M1

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday Open Mike 3: Gender Bias continues

Ways to tackle it:

- education
- affirmative action
- change in societal outlook

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday Open Mike 2: Gender Bias

Main items that came about...
- everyone agreed that gender bias exists
- stereotypes are the cause for this bias
- theories about controlled ovulation came about

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More gender links


A few collected links from the Austin Openmike (that Subbu refers to) in his post are at:
[1] Gender bias, stereotypes, and sensitization [India] (links)
[2] More gender links...
[3] More links related to gender discussion
There are more links and posts related to sex education and assessing pornography from a feminist perspective. But those need not be related to this discussion today.


From Sandhya:

From Sabita:

Can you elaborate on his original ideas?

His ideas about women, caste and communism were very original. His ideas on women were far ahead of today's feminists. He said the subordination of women was because they gave birth to babies. He said unlike the man, from the moment the baby started growing inside a woman, her thought process changed. According to him, man and woman become unequal from that point onwards. He spoke about equality even in those days but in a different way.

He also had a strong opinion on thali (mangalsutra).

He said thali should not be worn by a woman at all.

From Deepa:
A bbc article on gender bias:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gender Bias (below) continued

Additional links for the Gender Bias topic below
A person who is transgenderred sees the world with both points of view

A link on harrassment

I would have encouraged a discussion on gender and religion, unfortunately, since the majority attending will be Hindu, i think this may be a skewed discussion.

Gender Bias

Sorry for the really late notice. No excuses for my tardiness, just my humble apologies. Thus, if due to my tardiness, this post does not resonate with you, my regrets in advance.

Since we left off last week talking about Gender Bias as the subject to discuss this week, I found a few links (from the Austin Thu Open mike - thanks! - and elsewhere) which I have listed below

I'd like the discussion to be around gender equality. Are men and women really equal? Can men and women really do what the other can do? If not, are the different skill sets brought to society by men and women thus render the two sexes equal? If they are equal, why the historical bias? Is it only due to Man's strength superiority? If so, is might right? Or, to ask the same question differently, should might be right in a world of survival of the fittest?

Some links are below:

If Men Could Menstruate - by Gloria Steinem

This was the US point of view in the 50s!

"The zeitgeist in which Hillary floundered and “Sex” is now flourishing."; "Striving While Female – if it goes too far and looks too real — is still held to be a crime."
I would also encourage you to read the comments by others on the article above.

Another indian article - Seven Markers for Gender equality

more links coming...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tuesday Open Mike 1: summary of the first meeting

Meeting was attended by 6 people. Logistics and possible topics were discussed. Broadly, this was what was decided:
  • We will create a blog to document the links and learnings of the various topic during this exercise. This blog will be new and separate from Austin's version of Open Mike (
  • We will join the same yahoogroups list as Austin's Open Mike group ( [assuming Austin is okay with that].
  • We will continue to meet at Red Rock Cafe on Castro&Villa in Mountain View, every Tuesday evening at 7PM.
  • Some sample topics were suggested and Subbu to send out an email on the first of them later this week. The plan is for everyone to read and send out links ahead of time, so that we can discuss in a more informed and focused manner at the meeting. (More on topics later in this post.)
  • We would like to narrow down the specific question we are trying to answer or get an opinion on before the meeting itself, so that one (albeit small) issue is completely discussed and threshed out, while allowing for discussion to organically move on to other topics. This is to ensure that there is some focussed learning instead of random desultory conversations.
  • We would also like to have a way to review and see if our opinions and thoughts have changed, increased etc. from what they were about any topic prior to the discussion -- this is aimed at a way to track and see if the Open Mike is really working for each of us.
  • The Open Mike is definitely a non-Asha event, and is also definitely not restricted to any geographical region (like India) either in topic or in members.
  • All present to spread the word and invite everyone we know who might be interested in such an activity.
Apart from the above, we discussed possible topics and this is broadly what different folks came up with:
  • Gender bias/perspectives/stereotyping/spousal-abuse(either direction)/affirmative action along gender lines
  • Conservation -- energy/resources/environment
  • Secularism -- why hate? [addendum: Why religion?]
  • Is organic farming a good (economically viable) option for India?
  • Why nation boundaries? why demarcations?
  • Animal rights? why hunting? vegetarianism?

More clarity on topics will be developed as life goes on. For the next meeting, Subbu will formulate a question based on what he has suggested and send it out with a few links. For now, I've listed that topic as "Gender: bias or reverse bias?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday Open Mike 1: initial announcement

Starting this Tuesday (today), we are starting "Open Mike" sessions. The idea behind this is to have dedicated time to discuss what folks think are important issues that need discussion to further understanding. There is no compulsion on the discussions at these sessions to have any practical outcomes in the immediate or any future, although it would nice if it did. The primary motivation is purely selfish, its to further one's personal understanding on different issues. We had started some such thing in Austin, and its been going on really well for the past 6 months now. There is also a yahoogroup discussion list for the same and a blog which chronicles all links on each topic ( Take a look at the blog to get an idea.

I was thinking we can meet at 7pm and discuss for say 90min on Tuesday evenings. This week, the plan is to go with:

Red Rock Cafe
Castro Street, Mountain View
Tuesday Aug 5th, 7PM to 8:30PM

But depending on who turns up, we can find a more convenient location as times goes on.

A note on topics:
There is no restriction on the topic, except that it needs to be something that folks can think about and formulate their own thoughts about it. For example, we could learn the history of nation boundaries, starting from a society where tribes demarcated their territories from neighboring tribes to the current day nation states and discuss what use nation boundaries really are. Another example could be how would you organize the Indian govt. political system for maximum democratic participation. These are just examples. Please send me an email about what you would like to discuss.

I am hoping this will be well attended. The more folks we have, the more inputs and varied viewpoints we will be able to gather. Please come, and please bring forward what you would like to discuss.