Sunday, November 30, 2014

One cannot hide anything from Swami; Sathya Sai Baba, the Dharmaadhikaari i.e. Great teacher/giver/authority of Dharma (Ethical living)

"Always remember, Swami knows everything. I am always watching - not just from yesterday or day before. From several crores of years; from several past births of yours. Do not think you can cover my eyes and get away with doing whatever you want." - Sri Sathya Sai Baba, from http://sathyasaiwithstudents.blogspot.in/2013/04/i-am-watching-over-you-from-several.html.

I would like to share that, in my slightly over eight years of serving in Prashanti Nilayam campus of SSSIHL (university founded by Bhagawan) when Swami was in physical form (Jan. 2003 to April 2011), and having quite regular darshan of Swami whenever he was in Prashanti Nilayam, there were many occasions when there was eye contact between Swami and me. It took me some time to become sensitive to Swami's facial expression when he looked at me. Over time it became very clear to me that when he looked at me even if it was just for a few seconds, he somehow knew what I was thinking then and what I had done earlier. It was not a face-reading kind of effort - he would just know. If I had done something really good he would smile, he once even showed an Abhaya Hasta specifically to me, and once has told me, 'very happy'. If I did something bad, something he did not like, his expression was dismissive - unmistakably dismissive if one has the sensitivity to understand such facial gestures, and on a rare occasion or two, furious. [I vividly remember Swami's fury and, I will be very honest here, even today I am afraid of Swami's fury though I have not had any dream or other interactions with Swami after his Mahasamadhi. I am very thankful for that fear as it keeps me from doing stupid and bad things.] The facial interaction experience would occur at darshan usually and when I would analyze it, after getting to the peaceful solitude of my room/flat later on, I was almost always able to correlate his expression with something that I had recently done. Later, it reached a point where I simply knew that Swami knows everything about my activities and that I cannot hide anything from him. So if I did something stupid & foolish/bad then the next darshan experience of Swami was not going to be a pleasant one for me. As simple as that and as effective as that - from a spiritual discipline point of view.

Once at Darshan time when I was angry about something with him (quite foolish of me and due to my misunderstanding of his teachings, but I was then in the grip of a deep emotional problem), he accepted the angry thoughts I directed to him (nothing spoken and from a distance of ten to twenty feet perhaps), and gave me a 'caught you'/'got you'/'Aha' kind of facial expression which was quite suitable given the emotional problem I had created myself. To my shock, after he finished the round of Darshan, he gave an unscheduled discourse - mike(s) and translator had to be hastily arranged. It was crystal clear to me that this unscheduled discourse was in response to my angry thoughts at him. You may not believe me - that's fine. It is difficult to believe such experiences one has of Swami. Here's the text of the discourse he gave on that day, 18th May 2010, in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prashanti Nilayam, as given in sssbpt website, http://sssbpt.org/pages/Prasanthi_Nilayam/dd18052010.html:

REALISE  THAT  YOU  AND  I  ARE  ONE

Everybody is afraid of Yama, god of death. He goes about in every corner of the world and takes away the life principle of those whose life sojourn on earth comes to an end.

Chastity  Endows  Women  with  Immense  Power
When he took the life of Savitri’s husband Satyavan, Savitri was full of grief and prayed to him to bring her husband back to life. She said, “Either you give back my husband’s life or take my life also. I cannot live without my husband; we are one”. When Yama wanted to go away after taking the life of her husband, Savitri blocked his way and did not allow him to move. Yama had no choice but to listen to her prayer. He asked her, “Mother! What do you want”? “Give my husband back to me because it is not possible for me to live without him,” said Savitri. Ultimately, Yama had to yield to her prayer and revive Satyavan. Yama not only brought Satyavan back to life, but granted many boons also to both Savitri and Satyavan, happy as he was with the chastity and determination of Savitri. It was because of her power of chastity that Savitri could bring her dead husband back to life.

Chandramati was another great woman of the sacred land of Bharat who set a shining example of chastity in the world. When she along with her husband Harischandra and son was crossing a forest, it was suddenly engulfed in wild fire, which threatened their life. Then Chandramati prayed, “If I am truly a chaste woman and have been adhering to Dharma all my life, let this wild fire be extinguished”. And lo and behold, the fire was extinguished in a trice and the entire forest became calm and serene. So great is the power of penance and chastity of a chaste woman! But she was always humble and expressed gratitude to God, saying, “It is by the grace of God that I have been able to uphold the Dharma of a chaste woman”. She always followed her husband and could never bear separation from him even for a moment. That is the hallmark of a chaste woman. Both husband and wife should live together in harmony whole of their life. (Here Bhagavan narrated the story of King Harischandra and his chaste wife Chandramati, who in spite of undergoing untold sufferings upheld the virtues of truth and righteousness and set a shining example of virtuous life.)

This land of Bharat has given birth to many noble women like Damayanti who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity and Sita who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed.  (Telugu Poem)

Life  Finds  Fulfilment  when  Husband  and  Wife  Live  in  Unity
When Sita was put to fire test, the fire god himself manifested out of it and told Rama, “Sita is a woman of great chastity”. There were many women of chastity in the sacred land of Bharat like Sita, Chandramati, Damayanti and Savitri. People are afraid of Yama, the god of death, but Yama is afraid of the women of chastity. Just as Savitri could bring her dead husband back to life by the power of her chastity, Sita could also come out of blazing fire unscathed by the power of her chastity. All these examples of chaste women of Bharat set the ideal that for a woman her husband is God. These ideals set by such chaste women made India a teacher of the world and leader of all nations. Except in Bharat, in which country of the world do you find examples of women who brought their dead husbands back to life? Even if you search the entire world, you cannot find such chaste women. Such is the sacredness of this land of Bharat. That is why God loves to incarnate in Bharat. Just as women should observe Pativrata Dharma (Dharma for a chaste woman), men should also adhere to Sativrata Dharma (Dharma for an ideal husband). A woman must be a Pativrata (chaste woman), so also her husband, a Sativrata (ideal husband). The wife should never go against the command of her husband, similarly, the husband should conduct himself according to the wishes of his wife and should look after her with great love. But, unfortunately, there are only a few men today who observe Sativrata Dharma though a large number of women adhere to Pativrata Dharma. God is pleased with those women who observe Pativrata Dharma. When there is unity between husband and wife, they can achieve anything and find fulfillment in life. Draupadi had five husbands and she considered them as her five life-breaths. Women today should observe chastity like Sita, Savitri, Draupadi and Damayanti. It is the sacred land of Bharat where you find such a large number of Pativrata women and nowhere else. People who leave such a sacred land and go to other countries waste their life.

You say, my body, my handkerchief, so on and so forth. But who is this ‘my’? That is the Self or I. I means Atma. Without realising the Atma, all spiritual practices like Yajnas and Yaga are of no use. You say, this is mine and that is thine. What is the use of doing any spiritual practice unless you give up the feelings of mine and thine? Get rid of the narrow feelings of mine and thine and realise that you and I are one.

--- end divine discourse text ---

Bhagawan struggled to speak during this discourse. I was completely bowled over by Bhagawan's willingness, despite his many physical body problems then, to teach me, and others, through a discourse about the dharmic way of life, a significant part of which was related to my angry thoughts directed at him. I am very, very deeply grateful to Bhagawan for having been such a dedicated spiritual teacher even to a foolish & angry fellow like me then. To me it was clear that while giving the discourse, Bhagawan was playing the role of the Dharmaadhikaari (the authority, the giver of Dharma i.e. ethical code of living). Whether one wants to accept it or not is a different matter. He did his role of teaching Dharma. After this experience that I had with Bhagawan, I became much more dedicated to him and his mission, even if I was & still am not able to follow all his teachings - but I certainly try. He did not care about his own physical body suffering at 84 years of age - he was far, far more concerned about delivering his teaching about Dharma. What a shining example of a teacher of Dharma! I offer my humble, loving and very respectful obeisance at the feet of my great spiritual master & teacher of Dharma, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sathya Sai Baba on Truth from 1958 discourse

I think today's thought for the day from Prashanti Nilayam is something that is very close to my heart.

Have faith that Truth will save you in the long run; stick to it, regardless of what might befall. For if you are true, the sense of guilt will not gnaw your insides and cause pain. It is cowardice that makes you hide the truth; it is hatred that sharpens the edge of falsehood. Be bold and there is no need for a lie. Be full of love and there is no need for subterfuge. The easiest habit is speaking the truth, honesty; for if you start telling lies, you will have to keep count of them and remember how many you have told to whom, and be always alert not to contradict one lie with another! Love a person and you need no longer deceive the person with a lie; you will feel that the loved one deserves the truth and nothing less than the truth. Love saves a good deal of bother. (Divine Discourse, March 3, 1958)

From Thought for the day for Nov. 28th 2014, http://www.theprasanthireporter.org/

Sathyam Naasti paro Dharmaha - there is no dharma (right conduct) greater than truth. Sticking to the truth always is not easy though. Not speaking the unpleasant truth is not difficult - that is not indulging in untruth. But, at times, one slips into the convenient lie rationalizing that it is just a 'white lie' which will not harm anybody. Anyway, I think the above extract from Swami's 1958 discourse (4 years before I was born!), is a great gem of a spiritual teaching which serves as a lighthouse of inspiration even if one cannot achieve it always.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Need for haves to do some direct service of the have-nots, for social harmony

Last updated on 30th Nov. 2014

In a mail exchange, a correspondent mentioned (includes a small later clarification from correspondent), "a small distance can separate a poor area (like a slum) from a wealthy area, yet people can live for years in the wealthy area without ever seeing a poor area." To this I (Ravi) add, or rather elaborate: without ever spending time in that poor area and understanding the challenges of living in that poor area (slum).

I agree on the comments of the correspondent about living in a wealthy area without ever seeing a poor area. I think it is a great problem which exacerbates the rich/poor disconnect and which perhaps is a big factor contributing to social tension and strife, whether the country be a materially developing one like India or a materially developed one like USA. My experience in a spiritual organization with a lot of focus on service to the poor (Sathya Sai Seva Samithi), for nearly a decade, while I was in working in the software industry in Mumbai (around 1993/94 to 2002), was that its weekly or fortnightly service activities for the very poor in the slums and elsewhere, not only helped the better off in the spiritual organization have some understanding of the challenges faced by the very poor, but also the understanding of how essentially human both the very poor and the better off are. It helped in establishing a connect/common bond between the very poor and the better off. I think such efforts are greatly appreciated by the poor and it contributes to reducing social tension. Instead of a spiritual organization doing such stuff, it could be a non-faith-based NGO. But the essential point is human interaction between the better off and the poor, with the poor being served by the better off, even if it is just once in a fortnight for a few hours. Government welfare schemes, even if they deliver some money/services to the poor, cannot create this human bond in the community between the haves and the have-nots.

In this context I should also mention that my first exposure to such social service was in a non-faith-based environment, when I was a Physics undergraduate in Mumbai's Ruia college, http://www.ruiacollege.edu/ (in the early 80s when I was in my late teens/early twenties). The Indian academic system then had, and perhaps even now has, a special scheme called National Service Scheme which encouraged college students to participate in it, and provided some sort of academic credit for participation. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Service_Scheme, "The National Service Scheme (NSS) is an Indian government-sponsored public service program conducted by the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Government of India. Popularly known as NSS, the scheme was launched in Gandhiji's Centenary year, 1969. Aimed at developing student's personality through community service, NSS is a voluntary association of young people in Colleges, Universities and at +2 level working for a campus-community linkage. The cardinal principle of the NSS programme is that it is organised by the students themselves, and both students and teachers through their combined participation in community service, get a sense of involvement in the tasks of nation building."

I have fond memories of my interactions via NSS with rural India, with health related activities in slums, with a school focusing on specially-abled children (deaf and/or dumb children), family planning related efforts of Indian government then ... Even though my family at that time was facing quite some economic challenges and I was having only enough pocket money to get by, it was clear to me that I was far better off than many others in my city (Mumbai) and country.

I think the world at large i.e. countries of all types: under-developed, developing and developed countries, should have more of such human contact between haves and have-nots where the haves serve the have-nots, even if it is a once-a-month kind of affair.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Does Swami recommend using "harmless" lies for the common good, at appropriate times?

A recent mail exchange with a correspondent triggered this post.

My view is that Swami's (Sri Sathya Sai Baba's) public teaching, from Sanathana Dharma, is:
Sathyam Bhruyath (Speak the truth),
Priyam Bhruyath (Speak that which is pleasant/loving),
Na Bhruyath Sathyam Apriyam (Don't speak the unpleasant truth).

Now this is a general rule and, surely, there will be some exception cases. For example, when questioned in any investigation of fraud, it is far better to be truthful about any fraud one knows of, related to the investigation, than not speak about it as that will amount to concealing fraud in an investigation, and could land one into significant amount of trouble.

But what about "harmless" lies used for the common good? Well, the danger is that what one views as harmless may not be viewed as harmless by others. Lying to get out of difficult situations is a common failing. So one could get into the spiritually very bad habit of lying to escape out of problems, and rationalize that lying by telling oneself that it is "harmless" and that it is for the common good.

I have been a victim of such lies from some senior administrators in an ashram institution. It was convenient and useful for them and they perhaps thought it is a "harmless" lie for the common good. But it certainly did not do good for me and was not harmless for me! When I found out about such lies I took the senior administrators to task, and quit the institution that I was involved with. The senior administrators did not even have the decency to apologize for their lies! I then lost all respect for the people who indulged in such lies and used it for their benefit, and did not want to associate with them any more.

But then I was offering free service and so could walk away from the place where I was offering service. For people who depend on salary from the institution they are working for, they may not be able to walk away from the institution. For them, the challenge may be to safeguard one's good character traits from the bad influence of some fellows who could even be in senior management/administrative positions. Like when Krishna came, we had Pandavas as well as Kauravas. So even in ashram systems, and the world at large, there are good Pandavas like Yudishtra and bad Kauravas like Shakuni and Duryodhana. I guess one can view one's field of work & home life as a Kurukshetra (some cynics spell it as crook-kshetra) where one has to learn from Krishna's teachings to Arjuna and other Pandavas, and somehow survive materially and somehow progress spiritually too :).

BTW there could be some/many mistakes in what I have written above. I am not perfect and do have my human flaws too. But I can say that I very rarely indulge in even "harmless" lies. I think that adherence to Sathya (truth) helps me overcome my flaws, at least to some extent.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Before & After pics: Puttaparthi Clean India (Swachh Bharat) activity on Chitravathi riverbed

Note: I added this post to this spiritual blog as I felt some Sathya Sai devotees would like to read this post.

Day-before-yesterday (15th Nov.) my municipal councillor told me about a Swachh Bharat (Clean India) activity, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swachh_Bharat_Abhiyan, scheduled for yesterday morning around 10 AM at Chitravathi riverbed, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitravathi_River. I thought it would be a small affair. But when I went there yesterday morning I was surprised to see a large amount of people as well as earth mover machines in action. Lots of govt. & local administration officials & representatives as well as a large police contingent were present.

I was very happy to see school boys, young girls perhaps school girls, citizen groups and even policemen participate in the cleanup activity. It gave a sense of oneness to Puttaparthi town (outside-ashram). While I did not participate in the cleanup myself I thought I could contribute by clicking some photographs, which have been put up here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/+RaviSIyerSai/albums/6082219311016853473.

Today (17th Nov.) I had a look at the Chitravathi riverbed area that was being cleaned up yesterday and was very pleasantly surprised to see a dramatically cleaner Chitravathi riverbed. To see how it looks today, please see pics here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/+RaviSIyerSai/albums/6082619342658290449.

Of course, the earth mover machines would have done the major part of the work in this wonderful cleanup activity. But what the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan has done is that it has given an opportunity for school children, interested citizens and even policemen to participate in the activity. Even I who only took pics feel that I am a small participant in the activity and so it is, in a sense, my activity. If I feel that way just imagine how schoolchildren who participated in the activity would feel - they would be really happy & proud to see this dramatically cleaner Chitravathi river bed. Citizens & policemen who participated would also feel happy like me.

Hon'ble PM Shri Narendra Modi and his team, as well as the leaders of the state and municipal authorities who got involved in this activity, deserve hearty congratulations for this Swacch Bharat initiative they have taken. I pray to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba that the Swachh Bharat initiative in Puttaparthi continues in this healthy way leading to a much cleaner Puttaparthi.

------------------------------------------------

A USA based correspondent, Chandu Patel, commented on the After pics Google+ post:

Looks cleaner! Ravi, indeed your contribution (as the unofficial photographer) is also there. I want to share that, Deloitte (the company where I work) organizes annual one-day event to do charitable work (including cleanup drive), where all employees are expected to participate (and the day is counted towards a work-day, and not a time-off or leave day). I remember, one member in each of these teams, who performs unit of the charitable work, is assigned the photography task to take picture and share on the company intranet.

I responded:

Interesting info., Chandu. Thanks.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Songs of the Hindi film Satya Sai Baba with Anup Jalota playing role of Swami

The official trailer of the Hindi movie Satya Sai Baba with Anup Jalota playing role of Swami is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfAbayOofWU, 3 min 6 secs.

The songs can be heard here (no video - still frame), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoWcwAFATi4, 34 min 27 secs.

I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the following song:

LAGI RE LAGAN MOHE LAGI @ 13 min. 3 sec (13:03 till around 18:43): It is a pukka Bollywood (Bombay/Mumbai's Hollywood) song but with a spiritual message, sung by Sukhwinder Singh with lyrics by Naqsh Layalpuri. I think such songs will have tremendous appeal for the general public. BTW I am a born-and-bred Bombay/Mumbai fellow (spent most of first four decades of my life in Bombay/Mumbai) - Hindi film songs (till the early 90s) are an inextricable & deep part of my life! So I just loved this Bollywood style song on Swami when I heard it first. Don't know though how Sathya Sai devotees into Parthi style songs will take it - it is a pretty different style.

A correspondent liked the O Maa Sai Maa song. BTW the list of songs and their start time in the video is provided in the comments - clicking on the start-time positions the video to that time.

I googled to see if the movie has been released but did not get clear results. So I don't know whether it has been released.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Handling Dengue in Puttaparthi

Last updated on 17th Nov. 2014

Note: I put up this post on this spiritual blog as some Sathya Sai devotees visiting /living in Puttaparthi may be interested in this topic.

Over the past few weeks I have heard of some cases of Dengue (pronounced as Dengee by some and as Dengu by most Indians I discussed it with), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever, in Puttaparthi. I also read about recent Dengue cases in Mumbai. From the wiki link on Dengue given earlier:

Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

...

As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.

Treatment of acute dengue is supportive, using either oral or intravenous rehydration for mild or moderate disease, and intravenous fluids and blood transfusion for more severe cases.

--- end extracts from wiki page ---

One important issue/problem with Dengue is that there is no "medication targeted directly at the virus". So those who contract an acute form of the disease ideally need hospitalization with IV drip and blood platelet transfusion for faster recovery and better chances of recovery.

Puttaparthi, at least outside-ashram Puttaparthi where I live, does have fair amount of mosquitoes. While one can and should take suitable precautions in one's flat to keep mosquitoes out, it is not possible to ensure that one may not be bitten by mosquitoes when one is outside. [Coincidentally, I received an email today advertising a (wearable) mosquito repellent band gadget, http://www.gizmobaba.com/Products/Household-Gizmos/Gizmobaba/GB137-Gizmobaba-Mosquito-Repellent-Band-Gadget!-Set-of-6-SEE-VIDEO!/pid-6594764.aspx. First time I heard of something like this.] Now, my understanding is that even if one is bitten by a Dengue infected mosquito it is not necessary that one will contract dengue (or an acute form of dengue). I guess that may depend on the state of one's physical health/immune system.

But what does one do if one or one's friend/relative, God forbid, does catch dengue, especially an acute form of dengue, in Puttaparthi? One source told me that when a patient reports high fever (like 103/104 degrees Farenheit), joint pain etc., it is not clear what is the cause. It could be viral fever, typhoid, dengue etc. So the doctors typically prescribe paracetamol for a couple of days. If the fever does not subside over these two days then the doctor may suspect dengue. This source told me that doing the dengue (blood) test privately costs a thousand rupees! I was surprised to note that the test is so expensive.

However, it is good to know that the blood test for dengue can be done privately in Puttaparthi even if it costs a thousand rupees. I mean, if one has high fever for a couple of days or more which is not being controlled by paracetamol then, those who can afford a thousand rupees can get this test done and know whether it is dengue or not. There may be a question of reliability of the privately done test but I think they do seem to have the equipment and access to a trained technician to do it.

If somebody does contract an acute form of dengue (and is tested dengue positive) then if the ashram hospital is able to provide the hospitalization and treatment, it will be the best option. But sometimes the hospital could be full and so may not be in a position to admit the patient. What are the available options then?

The best option then, for those who can afford it and have care-givers who can accompany them, is going to a private hospital in Bangalore.

However, many people in outside-ashram Puttaparthi are single & live alone (like me) and many are elderly. They may have some friends who are willing to provide them care but are not in a position to travel and stay for long in Bangalore. For such people, even if they can cough up the money, going to a private hospital in Bangalore is not a workable option.

What about small private hospitals in towns close to Puttaparthi like Kothacheruvu or Bukkapatnam, which are easily accessible by Auto, and so friends based in Puttaparthi can provide support with some Auto commuting? One source told me that all these private hospitals are run by R.M.P. doctors. Now R.M.P. seems to stand for Registered Medical Practitioner but it is a lesser qualification than the standard minimum allopathic doctor qualification in India nowadays which is M.B.B.S. (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). So some doubt was raised about the quality of medical care provided in such private hospitals in Kothacheruvu and Bukkapatnam.

What goes through my mind is that if one or two of these private hospitals in Kothacheruvu & Bukkapatnam, which cater to the local populace, have acquired a good reputation among the locals, one could explore that option, if the Bangalore option is ruled out. Would they not be able to provide safe "intravenous rehydration" and "intravenous fluids" (IV drips)? However, blood platelet transfusion may be beyond them or it may not be very safe to get it done there even if they provide that facility.

P.S. Here is an article about a dengue vaccine discovery, Dengue drug can give Sanofi $1-bn India biz, http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/dengue-drug-can-give-sanofi-1-bn-india-biz-114111000045_1.html.

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Given below is a correspondent's response (slightly edited to fix a typo). My response to it (slightly edited) is shown with the prefix Ravi, indented and italicized :

There is a widely-accepted remedy for the lowering of platelets which occurs with dengue. This is to take the juice of a green papaya leaf regularly (once or twice a day). From what I can discover, the remedy was discovered in Malaysia and has been studied empirically there for its effect. It certainly seems to work, but the mechanism is not yet known.

Green papaya juice is meant to be extremely bitter, even more so than bitter gourd (karela).

This will treat one of the more unfortunate symptoms of dengue, the lowering of platelets which can make the person vulnerable to other infections. I do not know if it has any effect on those who suffer from dengue shock syndrome in which major organs start to fail in a short time.

Ravi response: A friend of mine, based in Puttaparthi, who recently contracted dengue, was hospitalized in the ashram hospital here, recovered and got discharged, told me about this remedy too. He said that he used it, and that it, in addition to blood platelet transfusion (from blood donors who came forward to assist) and other medical aids, contributed to his platelet count getting back close to normal or normal. Your mention of the same remedy confirms it for me.

My interest in dengue grew when my wife and I had it at the same time about four years ago. She had it in its usual form and was weak for about a month. In my case it started off other problems and I was out of commission (mostly in bed at home but also in hospital) for over three months.

Ravi: Oh Lord!

Dengue is avoidable. Local bodies need to spray against the mosquito and eliminate all pools of standing water. Houses need to be sprayed against the mosquito. All this means work that local bodies tend to avoid until there is a public uproar, by which time it is too late and they do not have the right kind of insecticide and what they do have is substandard (all of which has happened in Pune). It is no excuse to say 'dengue is spreading everywhere, what can we do?' We must all do what we can locally. An aedes mosquito from Puttaparthi is not going to come and bite me in Pune but one from the water collected in the neighbouring building site probably will.

Ravi: Thanks for these words (as well as the rest of the response). They spur me to do what I can, within my limitations, to raise this matter with local outside-ashram Puttaparthi municipal authorities. I will also talk about it to my building manager to eliminate any local pools of standing water (especially near a small garden that we have), and perhaps have some spraying done around the building privately (not waiting for municipal people to do it).
I use Hit mosquito spray for my small flat/apartment. I now plan to spray my flat with it on a regular basis.

--- end correspondent response (and my response to it) ---

The same correspondent later passed on this article, Papaya Extract to Treat Dengue: A Novel Therapeutic Option?, from NIH, USA journal, Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research, dated May-Jun 2014, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4071726/

Two small extracts from the concluding part (titled Discussion) of the above mentioned journal article:

From the various reports published in scientific literature, it appears that C. papaya L. leaf extract does have beneficial properties in dengue. It has been shown to bring about a rapid increase in platelet count. This could be possibly attributed to its membrane-stabilizing property.

...

Papaya extract no doubt offers a cheap and possibly effective treatment for dengue. However, currently, it is also necessary not to rely entirely on the leaf extract and ignore standard treatment for dengue until the benefits are established. Large scale randomized clinical trials in dengue-confirmed patients is necessary to establish their usefulness.

--- end small extracts from journal article ---

Small further update:

A Puttaparthi based correspondent wrote (slightly edited):

As far as I know no patients are rejected (in ashram general hospital) due to lack of space, if they really need hospitalisation.

--- end Puttaparthi correspondent response ---

Ravi: Today (12 Nov. 14) evening I asked about the charges for the "dengue test" in a private Puttaparthi clinic. It is Rs. 800/-.

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Updates (Nov. 14th & 16th 2014):

A little while back I bumped into my municipal councillor on the main road of Puttaparthi. He noted the info. about the two dengue cases I knew of near where I live. He informed me that a general body resolution was already adopted in the (Puttaparthi) municipal corporation to acquire two fumigation devices/equipment (don't recall the word he used). Sometime this month itself he said that fumigation will be done in all areas of Puttaparthi as a measure against mosquito borne diseases like dengue.

I told him about the high cost of the dengue test in Puttaparthi private clinics (Rs. 800/-). He told me that he will check whether that test is being done at municipal hospitals in this area, and explore options to make such tests available at lower cost. So next time we bump into each other he may provide me info. on that.

I also checked today with a local private clinic doctor (not sure whether he has M.B.B.S. qualification though he clearly is an authorised medical practitioner), Dr. Gopal Reddy, who has acquired a very good reputation among locals in Puttaparthi. He told me that he does (organizes) the dengue test, and also can organize hospitalization treatment. I did not feel it appropriate to quiz him on further details at this point of time. I must also add that he speaks fluent English, seems knowledgeable and has the air of a very efficient and can-do person.

Later I came to know that an M.B.B.S. doctor called Dr. Rama Krishna comes to his clinic in Puttaparthi in the late afternoon. I was told that he and his wife (also M.B.B.S.) have a small hospital in Kothacheruvu. So that is another option. Dr. Rama Krishna's clinic here can also administer IV drip when he is here.

There is also Dr. Damodar's polyclinic where an M.B.B.S. qualified doctor may be available. IV drip during day time can be done there as well.

It is important to also mention the government homoeopathic hospital which is currently handled by a very experienced, capable and friendly doctor. He surely is worth consulting on dengue cases, IMHO. He may advise hospitalization (in allopathic treatment hospitals) for patients who are in need of such treatment, and may be able to provide advise on which hospital is suitable given the background of the patient.

Note that government run allopathic primary health centres are also available, I am told, in nearby Enumalapalli village as well as in Kothacheruvu town. Anantapur, the district headquarters town/city, about two hours drive from Puttaparthi (and so far less convenient for commuting than Kothacheruvu which is much closer and well connected by Auto & Bus to Puttaparthi), has a full fledged government hospital, and, I believe, well equipped private hospitals too.

So I get the impression that Puttaparthi locals who can afford some level of hospitalization expense (much lesser than Bangalore private hospital expenses, I presume), do use services of private doctors like Dr. Gopal Reddy. Dr. Rama Krishna (as well as the current govt. homoeopathic doctor) for diagnosis and treatment of diseases like dengue. If my impression is right then Puttaparthi is better equipped to handle many cases of dengue (exceeding limited capacity of ashram hospital) than I had thought earlier.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Very sad and scary 'incident' involving 75 year old Australian lady in Puttaparthi

This post is about a recently discovered case of a murder of a 75 year old Australian lady in Puttaparthi. Please skip reading the rest of this post if you want to avoid such stuff. [I did not want to use the word murder in the title and so used 'incident'.] After some thought I decided to put it up in this spiritual blog instead of a miscellaneous blog as Sathya Sai devotees may want to know about this unfortunate incident and how to avoid similar incidents in future.

Over the past few days I have been seeing rather unusual 'Missing' notices showing an elderly white lady stuck in a few places in Puttaparthi. I presume that the lady mentioned below is the same as the one mentioned in these missing notices.

Yesterday I was shocked to read this article in The Hindu, Missing Australian woman’s body found, http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/missing-australian-womans-body-found/article6576766.ece.

A small extract from it:

"An Australian woman, Lutgate Tony Berly Anne (75), missing since August was found murdered and buried in the outskirts Puttaparthy on Friday. Police cracked the case after arresting two persons. Anantapur Superintendent of Police S.V. Rajasekhar Babu told The Hindu that the woman was murdered by S. Bhagavantudu, a watchman of the apartment where she was staying, and his friend B. Potuliah as she had asked the former to return Rs. 20,000 of the Rs. 30,000 she had paid him for arranging accommodation for her. She wanted the amount back as she found the flat not comfortable as was promised by Bhagavantudu. The officer said the woman was strangled by the duo on August 29 in the apartment itself. They later buried the body outside Puttaparthy town with the help of a car driver, Nagaraj."

Ravi: There are multiple versions of this, with the some reports mentioning that the local Puttaparthi police are quoting a reason of the murderers wanting to rob her. However, I think the Anantapur SP (top policeman for the whole district of Anantapur of which Puttaparthi is a part) is the right official source to go by. I find the above account to be quite plausible. Some of the poor in Puttaparthi (may be from surrounding villages but could be migrants from other parts of AP too) depend on such services to foreigners and other visitors. The dangerous issue in the account above is the foreigner elderly lady demanding some money back (Rs. 20,000) from the local person (watchman). Once one gives money to these poor locals one should forget about seeing the money back. I think the poor lady committed a mistake in demanding money back from them when she did not like the flat. Perhaps she threatened to complain to the police (which is not uncommon for Western foreigners in Puttaparthi to do). That may have made the two locals desperate. Anyway, in their possible desperation they did the horrible act of killing the old lady and then tried to dispose the body. My God! All this happened in the small town (outside-ashram Puttaparthi) where I live.

The main learning from this, in my humble view, is that it is best not to fight with locals over money. Demanding money back from locals is a strict no-no. The poor in Puttaparthi are quite desperately poor. Such people can easily lose it when pushed too much. Sure the police do catch many of such criminals especially when pressure is applied. But what's the solace one can get from having these desperately poor criminals in jail? It is far better to avoid such issues in the first place and, if one does lose some money to the locals, it is best to just forget about it.

As I went out for my regular walk yesterday evening around 5.30 PM, I saw a body being cremated on the (now dry) Chitravathi river bank, which is the main cremation site in Puttaparthi, and a lot of people gathered there including some Western foreigners and a policeman. Later I was told that it was the above mentioned lady, whose body must have been exhumed and then cremated.

I browsed the net to see if there are more reports on it. I was surprised to see rather detailed coverage by some foreign media outlets. And also surprised to know that during this missing period (her being missing was noted from sometime in September) her friends & family had put up a campaign to locate her, and to put pressure on the Indian police authorities to locate her! I have given below a couple of foreign media articles on this matter.

1) Australian grandmother Toni Anne Ludgate killed while doing charity work in India, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/australian-grandmother-toni-anne-ludgate-killed-while-doing-charity-work-in-india/story-fni0cx12-1227116994708.

A small extract from it:

Ms Ludgate’s daughter, Traci Harding, said her mother was a source of happiness to all she knew.

“She was that kind of a person, everybody’s mum, everyone was always at our place. If someone was having problems they would end up at ours,” she said.

“We’re just happy to have found her so that we can put her to rest.”

Ms Harding said her mother would be cremated in India and that the family would not be able to attend due to the short timeframe which it needed to take place.

“She was in love with the place; she had a karmic connection to it even. Considering what’s happened you’ve just got to look at that,” she said.

“She had a deep connection with this place, she wanted to end her days there – not like this obviously. She wanted an Indian burial and wanted her ashes spread at the ashram.”

[Ravi: What a tragedy! She did not have to go this way! This seems to have been an avoidable tragedy. She should not have fought with the locals over that money. She was, and I am, living in an economically backward area of India with a heck of a lot of poverty, and not in a country like Australia with its presumably far better law enforcement and public safety setup.]

------

This one, Body of grandmother missing in India for two months found in a shallow grave as police arrest security guard and two other men for her murder, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2826430/Three-men-arrested-Sydney-grandmother-missing-India-month-dead.html, has a lot of details and photos of the family and other related photos.

Her daughter, Traci Harding, is an Australian author who has a wiki page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traci_Harding.

I am filled with sadness over this tragedy.

I pray to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to shower His Grace on the lady's suukshma shareera (subtle body) and on the lady's family members & friends.

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Today I found the following two articles which provide additional info.

This link, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/killer-loses-nerve-mystery-of-missing-aussie-solved/99/, has a photograph of the killer-watchman pointing out the spot where he and his accomplices buried the lady's body, to the police.

A small extract from http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/11/09/hindu-funeral-ceremony-held-australian-murder-victim :

Despite the way her mother died, Ms Harding said she didn't feel any anger towards the guard [Ravi: watchman in Indian English].

"I feel sorry for him," she said.

"I'm not a seek-retribution person, it's up to the Indian authorities to decide what to do with these men."

Ms Harding gave permission to the ashram to give her mother a traditional cremation ceremony on Saturday.

--- end extract ---

Ravi: While I still feel very sad about this very avoidable tragedy over 20,000 Rupees, I do appreciate the noble and spiritually mature attitude of the lady's daughter in not seeking revenge/retribution. My belief in these matters is that the killer(s) will have to suffer the bad Karma of their acts, one way or the other.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Response to Hindu article of Karan Thapar critical of PM Modi's beliefs about Ganesha and Mahabharata

Last updated on 14th Nov. 2014

On November 1st, the Hindu carried this article by Karan Thapar, The two faces of Mr. Modi, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-the-two-faces-of-mr-modi/article6553304.ece.

I submitted the following comment (in two parts) to the above webpage (version below has small corrections):

I think Mr. Thapar is reading too much into honourable PM Narendra Modi's statements about genetic science and plastic surgery in the context of Mahabharata and Lord Ganesha. It is not as if Mr. Modi is directing scientists to agree with his view. It is Mr. Modi's belief and, IMHO, he is entitled to it. Mr. Thapar views such matters as false - fine, he is entitled to his view. My personal view is that some paranormal capabilities and events of Hindu epics & scripture may be true like some of the miracles attributed to Jesus in the New Testament may be true. But I think that some Hindu epics/scripture like some parts of some of the Puranas should not be read literally but allegorically.

In response to Mr. Thapar drawing attention to article 51A (h) of the Indian constitution about duty of Indians to have a scientific temper, I would like to draw readers' attention to article 25 of the Indian constitution which gives every Indian the right to profess, practise and propagate religion subject to some some matters like public order and morality.

So article 51A (h) should be read along with article 25 to get the right sense of the Indian constitution. My personal view is that scientific temper is fine for areas where science & technology is dominant like computers and space missions but there are areas of life where science is silent or not very knowledgeable like how to lead a happy, peaceful and harmonious life, and whether a person carries something like samskara and karma before he/she is born and after he/she dies. Rational thinking is not everything in life; religious belief and intuition also play a vital role in the lives of many Indians including, it seems, the Hon'ble PM.

--- end comment ---

As the above comment did not seem to go past the moderator, I tried a truncated version of the above comment removing sentences related to my personal views. But that too did not go past the moderator!

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There was a follow up article to Karan Thapar's article in The Hindu dated 13th Nov. 2014, Why do our scientists not speak out?, by one of the regular Hindu Science & Technology columnists, D. Balasubramaniam, http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/why-do-our-scientists-not-speak-out/article6591259.ece.

I submitted the following comment on the above web page (slightly re-formatted):

The article is quite interesting but I felt it did not cover the view that some part of Hindu scripture and scripture of other religions like Christianity could be true. The absence of evidence related to some extraordinary events written in these scripture does not mean that they have been proven to be false accounts or imaginative accounts. As science or history using science cannot unambiguously prove that such scripture is false, these matters move into an area of belief.

With reference to Karan Thapar's article critical of PM Modi's belief in some aspects of Hindu scripture, my view is that it is Mr. Modi's belief and he is certainly entitled to it. Mr. Modi is certainly not asking/directing all Indian scientists to accept his point of view in this regard. Karan Thapar has a different view and Karan Thapar too is entitled to it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The very different careers of Peter and Paul, the two great apostles of Jesus

Last updated on November 20th 2014

Based on my somewhat limited study of early Christianity I now have the impression that the two most prominent apostles responsible for the spread of Christianity after the trauma of the crucifixion of Jesus and the (believed) resurrection of Jesus from the dead, are Peter and Paul. Now Paul did not see Jesus and was involved with the initial persecution of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, after they had started spreading the message of Jesus including telling about his resurrection. But Paul became a great messenger of Jesus after a transforming experience.

Recently I saw a couple of videos on Paul, and (most of) a regular movie on Peter. The general impression I have is that while these videos may have immense value for some of those interested in the Christian faith, I am not so sure about how accurate they are from a viewpoint of current mainstream scholarly knowledge about Peter and Paul. When I say scholarly knowledge I refer mainly to academic and other scholars (like theologians) of Biblical literature and related material, including archaeological evidence. These are people who give fair amount of value to Biblical literature as against some scientists who refuse to accept anything in the Bible unless there is scientific evidence available for it. In other words, in my view, academic scholars of early Christianity are very different from some academic and non-academic scientists who are skeptical of the divinity of Jesus.

For this post I have used the following two main sources:

a) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter

b) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle

Now the wikipedia pages mentioned above may have some inaccuracies as some wikipedia pages have been reported to have. But I think that overall it seems to have provided a decent range of scholarly and other views on Peter and Paul.

I have also used what I recall from my reading (and viewing video(s) which voice the gospel and enact the scene) of the Gospel of Mark and some other parts of the New Testament (mainly the canonical gospels i.e. gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). [For more on canonical gospels and non-canonical gospels (which, I believe, is also referred to as apocryphal gospels) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel#Canonical_gospels and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel#Non-canonical_gospels.]

Note: I have used below, the term Jesus-followers, at times, to refer to the early Christians as these followers were initially viewed as just as a variant sect of Jews and not as a separate religion of Christians.

1] Peter was a Jewish fisherman who was one of the early followers of Jesus. Peter, being a fisherman in that age, is believed to not have undergone formal education of the type that Paul underwent [Jesus also is believed to have been a carpenter and so not to have undergone any formal education]. Peter, like Jesus and most of the other followers of Jesus, was not a Roman citizen. He witnessed many miracles of Jesus and had a lot of faith in Jesus. Jesus too gave a lot of importance to Peter. However, despite all the faith he had in Jesus, Peter got scared (terrified, rather) at the time of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion, and denied knowing Jesus thrice on the day & night of the crucifixion (I am not sure if it is night only or day & night).

Paul also was a Jew. But he was from Tarsus (in modern day Turkey) and had learnt the art of tent-making. Paul was also known as Saul. Paul was a Roman citizen and is said to have inherited this Roman citizenship from his father. Paul is believed to be a Pharisee (sect of Jews at Jesus' time). Paul came to Jerusalem to learn Jewish law under a great rabbi called Gamaliel, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamaliel. Paul was therefore, not only literate, but a learned man of Jewish law. His learning and his roman citizenship seem to have been vital factors in the success of his evangelical and church organizational mission among non Jews (and some Jews too perhaps) in many parts of the Roman empire, including Rome itself.

2] Peter's faith in Jesus came from his direct experiences of Jesus' miracles, his direct experience of Jesus' paranormal knowledge about people & events, and his interaction with Jesus' after his resurrection. That made him a powerful preacher who perhaps had deeply imbibed Jesus' teachings and had developed immense faith in Jesus (son of God) and God. Along with the brother of Jesus, James the just, Peter would have been one of the main leaders of flock of Jesus after the crucifixion. That Peter and others were able to overcome the devastating blow and terror of the crucifixion, and pluck up the courage to not only express faith in Jesus in private gatherings, but also try to spread the word about Jesus' resurrection and his teachings in traditional Jewish law dominated Jerusalem, is great testimony to the faith in Jesus of Peter and other leaders of Jesus' flock in Jerusalem.

Paul was in the opposing camp of Jewish law students and teachers - not only opposing camp, but actually persecution camp! Paul was active in one of the first (or the first) Christian martyrdoms, that of Stephen in Jerusalem (death by stoning for blaspheming against Jewish law by upholding divinity of Jesus). This happened after the crucifixion (and resurrection) of Jesus. It seems to me that Paul and his community of Jewish law scholars and students may have been derisive of not-formally-educated Jesus and his followers (most of whom may have not been formally educated). It would have been a huge affront to them to get challenged by Jesus through his miracles and his criticism of Jewish law leaders for not following Jewish law in the correct spirit. In other words, Paul was part of the Jewish religious establishment whose dominance and authority was challenged by materially poor, mostly non-scholarly and humble Jesus' and his followers. Paul and co. did not like this challenge and so set out to destroy the challengers! Harsh, but I think that seems to have been the reality then.

Then Paul had a transformational experience where he had a vision of the resurrected Jesus. Scholars are not in agreement on the specific details of this vision (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle#Conversion). But the version that seems to have popular acceptance is of Paul having a blinding vision of Jesus on the way to Damascus (to persecute the Jesus-followers there). Paul is said to have recovered his sight after three days through a kind-of miracle done by/through a Jesus-follower in Damascus. From a persecutor of Christians, he became a fervent Christian and one of Christianity's greatest apostles! But his knowledge of Jesus' teachings would have been second-hand (unless he had direct revelation of the teachings too from visions of Jesus which seems rather improbable). Further, perhaps he was impressed by the loving behaviour of the Jesus-followers, some of whom had direct contact with Jesus, that he persecuted in Jerusalem. And maybe, as a student of Jewish law, he would have studied the teachings of Jesus as known to other Jews, especially the Jewish law teachers & students in Jerusalem, and as preached/spread by the followers of Jesus.

3] Peter and most of the other apostles seem to have confined their preaching to other Jews in Jerusalem and other Jewish communities in contact with Jerusalem, the holy city of the Jews, but who were spread across various parts of Asia & Europe (and maybe Africa too). Note that Jesus too preached mainly to the Jews, if not only to the Jews. So early followers of Jesus were more of a sect of Jews who followed a mix of traditional Jewish law and new, or seemingly new, teachings of Jesus. Note that the Jews followed the practice of circumcision. Peter seems to have been one of the beloved leaders of Jesus-followers and seems to have been quite non-controversial.

Paul, who was a Jew but a Roman citizen as well, preached to the Gentiles (non Jews). The Gentiles then included Greeks and Romans. The Gentiles, or perhaps most of them, were not circumcised, and Paul did not insist on circumcision for them becoming Christians. This expansion of the followers of Jesus, who started getting referred to as Christians, to include non-Jews did not go down well with some of the other apostles and followers of Jesus, including those who had been with Jesus (in physical form). This got resolved in the council of Jerusalem, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle#Council_of_Jerusalem, where Paul met the Jerusalem church leaders, including Peter, James and John, and they decided to accept the Gentiles as Christians without the need for circumcision. Paul seems to have been somewhat controversial in his efforts to spread Christianity among the Gentiles. Perhaps there may have also been some controversy about whether his teachings about Jesus were the same as the teachings of Jesus by the Jerusalem church (having leaders like Peter, James and John) as Paul did not interact with Jesus in physical form.

4] Peter seems to have been mainly based in Jerusalem and surrounding areas perhaps. His brief visit to Antioch is recorded, and he may have visited Corinth. Peter is believed to have gone to Rome during the last period of his life, and is said to have been martyred there, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter#Death

Paul seems to have been a very vigorous traveling missionary, visiting and revisiting various places in Asia and Europe as part of his missionary efforts. He seems to have been the main missionary who formed and nurtured the early Christian following in Rome. His being a Roman citizen may have helped significantly in overcoming opposition to his missionary efforts in Rome and other places in the Roman empire. As a pioneering missionary Paul seems to have faced the greatest hardships among the apostles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle#Hardships quotes from a section of the New Testament (Corinthians) that Paul faced a lot of prison, flogging, deadly danger, shipwreck, hunger, thirst, cold etc. Perhaps Paul has been and continues to be a great hero for the vigorous and hyperactive type of Christian evangelists.

5] Peter seems to have been the chief apostle in the Jerusalem church which was the centre of the early Christian faith, though the brother of Jesus, James the just, was viewed as the leader of the Jerusalem church. I mean, the main evangelist of the Jerusalem church then seems to have been Peter even if James the just was the organizational leader. Jesus was very pleased with Peter's faith in his divinity and referred to him as the rock on which his church will be built, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter#.22Rock.22_dialogue (this is the origin of the name Peter being appended to his previous name of Simon, giving him the expanded name of Simon Peter). The Roman Catholic church gives Peter prominence among the apostles by referring to him as the first Bishop of Rome, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter#Catholic_Church. "Furthermore, they consider every bishop of Rome to be Peter's successor and the rightful superior of all other bishops." So the current pope, Pope Francis, is also viewed as successor to Peter as bishop of Rome. However Peter does not seem to have left behind many writings though the Gospel of Mark (one of the four canonical gospels) is said to have been written by John Mark, an assitant of Peter, and so this gospel is "seen as the closest to Peter's viewpoint", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Peter#Mark.

Paul, perhaps due to his scholarly knowledge, was very influential through writings attributed to him, a lot of which is included in the New Testament. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle#Writings, "Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 14 have been attributed to Paul; 7 of these are widely considered authentic and Paul's own, while the authorship of the other seven is disputed. The undisputed letters are considered the most important sources since they contain what everyone agrees to be Paul's own statements about his life and thoughts. Theologian Mark Powell writes that Paul directed these 7 letters to specific occasions at particular churches. As an example, if the Corinthian church had not experienced problems concerning its celebration of the Lord's Supper,[1 Cor. 11:17-34] today we would not know that Paul even believed in that observance or had any opinions about it one way or the other." And "In Paul's writings, he provides the first written account of what it is to be a Christian and thus a description of Christian spirituality. His letters have been characterized as being the most influential books of the New Testament after the Gospels of Matthew and John."

So Paul seems to have been the great organizer of Christian religion and his writings influenced the leading thinkers/reformers of the Western Church (Roman Catholic and protestant churches). From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle#Western_tradition, "Augustine's foundational work on the gospel as a gift (grace), on morality as life in the Spirit, on predestination, and on original sin all derives from Paul, especially Romans. In the Reformation, Martin Luther expressed Paul's doctrine of faith most strongly as justification by faith alone. John Calvin developed Augustine's predestination into double predestination." It is very interesting for me to note that the key organizer of the Christian religion as we know of it today was somebody who did not have direct interaction with Jesus!

6] Peter was a married man as per the New Testament.

Paul wrote in Corinthians (part of New Testament) that he was unmarried. Some scholars believe he was married (maybe after he wrote Corinthians) but New Testament scripture gives the impression he was unmarried, http://www.libertygospeltracts.com/question/prequest/paulwife.htm.

---- end main part of different careers of Peter and Paul ---

Additional Info:
In this context it is important to note that Peter and Paul are believed to have been martyred in the 60s (AD), at which time the Jerusalem church would have still been vibrant and powerful among the small Christian community across the various places in Asia & Europe where it had taken root. [There is some speculation that the martyrdom of Peter (and Paul) could have been triggered by charges that Christians of Rome were responsible for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, which devastated Rome, raging for six days, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_Rome. Nero was the Roman emperor then. From http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/PETEMART.HTM, "It is universally recognized that Peter suffered martyrdom in Rome during Nero's time. The traditional date is 67, a date common to Peter and Paul. But while even most scholars accept this date for Paul, research—especially in recent times—tends to pre-date Peter's martyrdom to the year 64 (the year of the fire in Rome and of the first great persecution campaign against the Christians)."]

[Note that Jesus crucifixion date is considered by scholars to be between 30 and 33 AD, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_of_Jesus#Chronology]

However in 70 AD, Jerusalem, which had been occupied (captured from the Romans) by Jewish defenders (rebels/zealots) in 66 AD, suffered a terrible sacking of the city by the Romans. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(AD_70), (the famous Roman historian Josephus writes) "This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind. And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down." and "The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage." "Josephus claims that 1.1 million people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish, and that 97,000 were captured and enslaved ..."

After such a carnage the Jerusalem church too would have got devastated with most of its members either being killed, enslaved or having fled Jerusalem. Then the leadership of the Christian community would have moved to other cities like Antioch and Rome, with Rome eventually becoming the main centre.

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Given below is a slightly edited mail exchange with a correspondent on the above contents of this post:

Correspondent (C) wrote: They really contributed so much to spreading the message of Christ. In Peter's case ...He got direct experiences and proof for Jesus divinity; whereas Paul, he never had darshan (holy viewing) of Christ but still dedicated his life for the spread of Christ's Love.

This gives us a direct indication that God sees only the pure heart of His devotees, to select his true sevaks (servants) and not money, power and qualification.

So in Sai's mission, we have many Sai Peters :-)
Sai Pauls are yet to come :-)

Ravi (R) responded: Very interesting observations :).

C: Sir, what is canonised gospel?

R: Canonized gospels are the accounts of Jesus Christ that were selected to be incorporated in the New Testament (part of Bible). From what I read, they are four - gospels of Matthew, Mark, John and Luke.
Some other gospels which were not included in the New testament are available on the net, and these are referred to as apocryphal gospels. They are NOT part of the bible - i.e. not officially approved versions.

C: I also want to know about old and new Testaments... In the article you mentioned St Paul's direct messages are included in 7 books of New Testament. Are they apart of Bible sir?

R: The Bible has two parts: Old testament and New Testament. The old testament part is related to the Jewish faith and so is common with the Jews - remember, Jesus was a Jew. The New Testament is the part related to Jesus Christ and this is specific to Christianity. As far as I know, the Jews do not treat the New Testament as holy scripture related to Jewish faith. 

C: I have seen one documentary on Jesus life recently. In that they mentioned about Jesus married life. Is this true, sir?

R: The churches (Roman Catholic & others too, I believe) strongly deny these reports, and either say or imply that they are the work of people who want to create sensational stuff that sells and makes them money. I don't know enough of Christian scripture - both official accounts (where Jesus was unmarried) and unofficial accounts (some of the unofficial accounts mention that Jesus was married, it seems) - to have a considered opinion on the matter. 
However, my view is that the divinity of Jesus does not get affected by whether he was married or not. Krishna, who is one of my Ishta Devatas (favourite Gods), was married to multiple wives!