Purpose of Life and the Universe


Someone asked me whether I thought there was any purpose to life and to the universe. I think it is important here to distinguish between short range and long-range purpose. Short range purpose relates to matters of temporal significance: My purpose in writing this note, the purpose of a bird catching a fish and taking […]

Betelgeuse to become a Supernova


Astronomers and astrophysicists observe and analyze the fates and fortunes of stars up there, leaving lesser mortals to worry about oil depletion, global warming, threats of terrorism, and the like. They entertain themselves in conferences and with technical papers dealing with topics of stellar significance, rather than in tea-parties. But once in a while they […]

On a Governor’s Statement


The new governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, is reported to have said that we are all brothers and sisters, and added (according to the Birmingham News): “Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ […]

RTL: Joan of Arc of Robert Southey


After reading Southey’s  The Inchcape Rock, I  was drawn to his epic poem Joan of Arc, written in the last decade of the eighteenth century. I  was struck by the fact that this English poet was writing so beautifully about a woman whom his own countrymen had bought as a slave and allowed to be […]

Pongal: The Tamil Festival on January 14


[Warning: This is a longer-than-usual piece!] Many colorful festivals are marked in the Hindu calendar. Each has its own particular  mode of celebration. But there are also local variations. This should not be surprising in a vast country like India where many languages and customs have evolved in different regions. It is the same in […]

RTL: Baudháyana’s Dharmashástra


In the ancient Hindu framework life was to be governed by codes that included canonically prescribed thoughts, words, and deeds. The goal was to guide people to lead righteous lives with the ultimate goal of inner peace, societal harmony and spiritual liberation. The principles of right living are collectively known as dharma. Classical texts embodying […]