News India Times – that’s all you need to know Opinion News India Times September 22, 2023 4 Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the authors and Parikh Worldwide Media does not officially endorse, and is not responsible or liable for them. Vivek Should KnowNikki Is An Indian Name – And American, Too I n Sanskrit, the word, Sanatan means eternal, some- thing that has no beginning and no end, and dharma may be loosely translated to mean duty, and, there- fore, Sanatan dharma may be taken to mean, eternal duty. So, what is the eternal duty of human beings? Modern physics unravels the mystery. The year is 1995 and high schooler, Amanda Gefter is having dinner with her dad, Dr. Warren Gefter, Professor of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, at their favorite Chinese restaurant, House of Hu- nan, in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia. During the course of the evening, Professor Gefter asks Amanda, What is nothing? Puzzled, Amanda answers, absence of something, absence of everything, why do you ask?Warren replies, the answer just might hold the key to the mystery of the beginning of the universe. In her NewYork Times best-selling book, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn, Amanda writes, for the first time in many years, the class-cutting, and sleeping-through- classes teenager had a smile on her face. She asks her dad, so, how do we find out? Dr. Gefter replies, let’s do some research. Research they did over the ensuing decade, buy- ing book after book on cosmology, theoretical physics, quantummechanics, particle physics, etc., turned a spare room into a library, and studied late into the night, when Amanda’s mom would tell them, it was very late and that they should come to bed. The father-daughter duo found a hint here, a clue there, but no real answers. Then, they decided, they needed to talk to physicists. By this time, the year is 2002, and Amanda has gradu- ated from college, and she is working at a bridal maga- zine called, Manhattan magazine in NewYork city when she discovers that there was going to be a Physics and Ultimate Reality Conference at Princeton to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of famed Theoretical Physicist, John ArchibaldWheeler, a colleague of Albert Einstein at Princeton. The pair manages to get two passes, pretending to be journalists, to attend the conference. When the opportu- nity presented itself, Prof Gefter asked Prof. Wheeler, who created the universe?Wheeler responded, Physics, the universe is a self-excited circuit. Amanda excitedly wrote down in her notebook, Wheeler thinks the universe came out of nothing! In the ensuing decade, Amanda Gefter interacted with some of the best brains in physics including Stephen Hawking, finally concluding that ultimately, nothing (physical) is real. The nothingness of the void creates the energy phase of the big bang which then creates the uni- verse. She published her findings in the book, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn, in 2014 (Bantam Books). How did the nothingness of the void produce the big bang event which then created the universe? Kowall explains. In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding. Naturally, the universe would be smaller in the past. Physicists tell us that if we go back some 13.8 billion years, the universe would be an unbelievably hot and immensely dense energy phase, about the size of Plank length, 10-33 cm in diameter. So, on one side of the energy phase, there is this ever- expanding universe, but what’s on the other side? Kowall reasons that nothing physical can pass through the size of Plank length and be present on the other side, not even the four fundamental forces of nature (electromagnetism, gravity, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force) because they are physical, but consciousness can for it is not physical. In a nutshell, then, the undifferentiated consciousness of the void creates the energy phase of the big bang event which then creates the universe. The reader may be reminded of the Puranic story of creation with Paratpara Shiva and Adyashakti. You may recall that Shiva is also known as Ardhanareshwar, half- male, half-female, implying that both consciousness and energy are required for creation. His Holiness, The Dalai Lama may be seen to echo Kowall’s finding when he says, “The universe may end one day, but consciousness will remain for it is eternal.” Whatever is in the universe today, was already pres- ent in the energy phase of the big bang event, albeit in unmanifest form. The Samkhya hypothesis helps us make further progress. The Samkhya philosophy is mentioned in the Rig Veda and there is a chapter on Samkhya Yoga in the Bhagvad Geeta. This hypothesis posits that all creation is made up of five principal elements: Prithvi (matter elsewhere in the universe, is present on Earth), Jal (water), Agni (Fire, heat), Vayu (air), and Akash (Consciousness & energy), and the three Gunas (attributes) S, R, and T. The three Gu- nas, in turn, are correlated to the two human emotions: positive emotions and negative emotions. Sir J. C. Bose, FRS, had shown that even plants feel pain and metals feel stress. The upshot of the foregoing discussion is that the en- ergy phase is our primordial source, and that we should want to return to the source at the end of life. It is our sanatan dharma. In Hinduism, the process of returning to the source is called Jeeva Samadhi while in Buddhism, it is called Thukdam. See this article and the video clip as examples. Russian neuroscientists and His Holiness have studied the phenomenon of Thukdam. The sages suggest that everyone readies himself/ herself to return to the source over many lifetimes. The meditative processes that enable the seeker to return to the source, also produce a shift from negative emo- tions to positive emotions in the seeker along the way, and therefore, these practices are worthy of adoption by everyone regardless of their place in the journey. This is the pathway for one world, one family. On the side, everyone has consciousness, the differen- tiated kind, and thus, we too must possess the capacity to create, specifically, to transform energy into matter, and vice versa, but not the ability to create something from nothing. That capability is reserved for the undifferenti- ated consciousness. It is for these reasons, sages have coined terms like Aham Brahmasmi and I AmThat. Pradeep B. Deshpande is Professor Emeritus in and former Chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department at the Univer- sity of Louisville. . James P. Kowall is a triple board certified physician, and holds a doctorate in Theoretical Physics. . I n a crowded field of Republican presidential candi- dates who will say anything, no matter how absurd, for attention, Vivek Ramaswamy stands apart as a spouter of strategic silliness. His views on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, climate change, the war in Ukraine, single mothers and Juneteenth may be uniformly risible, but they are calculated to ingratiate himself to a specific audi- ence. And his elevation from a curiosity to a contender suggests he has a good bead on the paranoias and preju- dices of a sizable proportion of the party faithful. But his snide attack on fellow aspirant Nikki Haley over her name represents a failure to read two cultural constituencies – the American whole as well as the Indian American subset, to which both of them, and I, belong. On his campaign website, Ramaswamy pointedly referred to the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as “Namrata Randhawa,” misspelling her first name and using her maiden surname. (She was named Nimarata Nikki Randhawa at birth, is commonly known by her middle name and has used the surname Haley since her 1996 marriage to Michael Haley.) Haley’s response to the gibe was appropriately dismis- sive: “I’m not going to get into the childish name-calling or whatever, making fun of my name that he’s doing,” she told Fox News Digital. “I mean, he of all people should know better than that.” Ramaswamy’s purpose, evidently, was to cast Haley as inauthentic – someone who, unlike himself, was seeking to conceal their roots. The implication is that “Nikki” is not a proper Indian name but rather an affected Anglici- zation. The use of her parents’ surname, presumably, was meant to underline the point. But in truth, there’s no such thing as a “proper” Indian name. Thanks to the country’s ethnic, linguistic and reli- gious diversity, as well as its rich history, Indian naming conventions reflect a wide range of influences. This was captured in the title of a blockbuster Bollywood movie frommy childhood: “Amar, Akbar, Anthony.” The names match the faith of the three heroes, respectively Hindu, Muslim and Christian. It goes farther than that. Many Indians name their chil- dren after famous and inspiring people, who may them- selves be from other countries and cultures. In Jhumpa Lahiri’s 2003 debut novel “The Namesake,” a family from the eastern Indian state of Bengal call their son Gogol, after the Russian writer. In real life, the chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu is named Stalin, after a rather different kind of Russian. My father had initially intended to name me after Helmut Haller, a German soccer player he admired. My mother vetoed that one, but they agreed on a nick- name taken from another player, an Englishman: Bobby Charlton. They also gave me a formal moniker, Aparisim, derived from a Sanskrit word. It adorns my passport and other documents, but neither of them ever once called me by that name. Among my colleagues at Bloomberg Opinion are Indi- ans Candice Zachariahs, Andy Mukherjee, Mihir Sharma and Pankaj Mishra, Singaporean-Indian Karishma Vas- wani and my fellow Indian American Nisid Hajari. To my ears, every one of those names sounds properly Indian, none of themmore or less than the rest. Nikki, it follows, is as authentically Indian as Vivek. The other thing Ramaswamy doesn’t get is that his name, and Haley’s, are also authentically American, for this is a country of even greater diversity of naming con- ventions than India. We’ve already had a president named Barack, after all. And if the next one goes by Nikki or Vivek – or Kamala, even – they would not be any less American for that. Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering foreign affairs. Previously, he was editor in chief at Hindustan Times, managing editor at Quartz and international editor at Time. -Bloomberg Sanatan Dharma : OneWorld, One Family By Pradeep B. Deshpande and James P. Kowall By Bobby Ghosh Photo:X @ghoshworld