karma

Sacred cows: Philadelphia Inquirer delves into a Hindu man's love for his 'ragtag herd of cows'

Sacred cows: Philadelphia Inquirer delves into a Hindu man's love for his 'ragtag herd of cows'

“Can being nice to cows save the world?” the Philadelphia Inquirer asks. “A Hindu man in the Poconos would like to believe so.”

On one level, the Inquirer’s feature on Sankar Sastri is simply an interesting read — a human- interest feature about a man with a unusual approach to life.

On another level, it’s a religion story.

The piece excels more at the former than the latter, although it’s not entirely devoid of doctrine.

The lede certainly paints a revealing portrait, albeit one with, um, some smelly stuff on the profile subject’s footwear:

STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Every day, a joyful man in dung-covered boots tries to balance the world's karma by dishing out love, compassion, and the occasional fried Indian delight to his ragtag herd of cows.

Sankar Sastri loves Sri, the shaggy Scottish highlander with eyes like jewels, and adores Lakshmi, a little black Brahman with horns pointing north and south. The mighty Krishna, a tall and hefty Angus, appears to be a favorite, but Sastri said each of his 23 cows is equally beloved at his Poconos sanctuary.

"Ah, Krishna, look at how big you are. You are the boss, Krishna," Sastri said to the cow on a recent cold November morning.

Sastri, 78, is wiry, bespectacled, and constantly smiling, and wears a blazer over his farm clothes while he walks around his 90-acre Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary in Monroe County. Sastri still resembles a college professor, albeit one who fell in mud. He grew up in Chidambaram, by the Bay of Bengal in Southern India, moved to the United States in 1964 for grad school, and spent 28 years teaching engineering  at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn.

The Inquirer goes on to explain:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Old question in a New Age: What does the Bible say about reincarnation?

Old question in a New Age: What does the Bible say about reincarnation?

MARK’S QUESTION:

What does the Bible say bout reincarnation? Was it an esoteric teaching of Jesus that was censored by church councils in the 4th and 5th Centuries?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

According to historians, nothing and no.

Forget pop novels, conspiracy theories about church censorship, or supposed secret knowledge from Jesus. The academic experts say the Bible, and thus Christianity, never taught reincarnation. That’s not to say individual Christians haven’t pondered the idea along with some mystics in Sufi Islam and Judaism’s medieval kabbalah movement.

Some basics on what’s also called transmigration of souls, metempsychosis, or samsara (Sanskrit for “running together”). With certain differences the belief is central for Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism (a synthesis of Hindu elements with Islam’s worship of the one God).

The late Professor J. Bruce Long said the soul’s succession through a series of human or animal lives was often taught by early preliterate cultures, then by certain Egyptian and Greek thinkers, and reached elaborate form in ancient India.

In this developed system “the circumstances of any given lifetime are automatically determined by the net results of good and evil actions in previous existences” through the Law of Karma (meaning “action”). Assessment of each soul’s moral performance is a “universal law of nature that works according to its own inherent necessity,” not judgment by a God or gods.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

One of the mysteries of India: What is Jainism?

One of the mysteries of India: What is Jainism?

SID’S QUERY:

I am looking for information on Jainism. Any help you can give me would be great.

THE RELIGION GUY’S RESPONSE:

Jainism is an ancient religion of India that’s relatively unknown in the West. Though with only 4 million or so adherents it is considered a major world faith, alongside others with followers that number in the mere millions like Baha’i, Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

This is a remarkably rigoristic and ascetic creed, not only for monks nd nuns but lay followers (“householders”). Though the beliefs are otherworldly, Jains in secular vocations are notably successful because of the thrift and discipline their faith inculcates. This culture has made singular contributions over centuries to the literature, art, and architecture of India.

Both Jainism and Buddhism emerged from Hinduism in the 6th Century B.C.E. to become distinct, separate religions. Buddhism spread across Asia and is far larger while Jainism is limited geographically to India and small populations of Indian emigrants elsewhere. The Buddha was unquestionably the founder of his religion, whereas Jains do not regard his contemporary Mahavira (“Great Hero”) in the same sense.

Instead, Mahavira is considered the successor to 23 prior jinas (spiritual “conquerors”) whose heritage extends back to the distant past. His career does, however, mark the beginning of Jainism’s recoverable history. As John Noss writes, it was Mahavira who defined a monastic movement with the “ethical strength” and “doctrinal clarity” that carried it forward.

Please respect our Commenting Policy