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Making fun of planets that they have dristis (sight-aspects), are male or female, king queen etc., one rationalist disposes that the worship of planets would be incorrect as we have seeing these heavenly planets through telescopes. Maharaj, in ancient India they already knew it - without a telescope. The Heliocentric system (that the planets go round the sun) was well known to our ancients even before Copernicus said in our text books and promptly we believed! In ancient India also these remedial measures namely, worship of planets was going on and no astronomers or rishis said against these practices until this rationalist was born to look through his telescope and lead a kindly light by correcting our ignorance based on Hindu philosophy. Rationalists always look for 'universally acceptable' arguments. In a book written by a rationalist I referred above you can see the photographs of his parents with the lines "they are my Gods". With due respect to his departed parents, I differ. If somebody's father appears to someone else, he is not a pitru devata and is feared as a ghost. His respect is not a universally accepted idea at all. Further, the same book ends with slogans 'Jai Karnataka mate' and 'Jai Bharata mate'.

Worship of tulsi by D V Dhurandhar

Worship of tulsi plant by D.V. Dhurandhar, Bombay, C.1890   (courtesy V&A Museum, London).

I appreciate his patriotism, I too have shouted these slogans in my old school days, at the top of my voice. I too have watched India vs. Pakistan cricket matches and have felt the surge of patriotism. Otherwise, we do not feel patriotism at all. To us patriotism does not mean nation building nor possessing good character or loving a fellow citizen as one's own brother. If only I love that man across the table, as I love my own brother, will I take bribe from him? Reverting to the rationalist's argument, there is no difference between the earth of Karnataka, India or Pakistan. He obviously lost his rationalist sense. Everybody is liberal to dig at Hindu beliefs - and fellow Hindus stand first in this! One producer-director-artist who had earlier done tainted pictures of a Hindu Goddess, withdrew his movie when challenged. He contended, it was his movie and he had all the right to do whatever he wanted with it.

In my school days, I had rebuked a slender boy very successfully for a long time. One day, to my bad luck his fat cousin who had come for holidays leapt forward for a duel. I promptly took to my heels. I told my friends," These are my legs, I have all freedom to do whatever I wish". I do not think it is a childish logic. I believe in freedom of expression! And am aware where and when I can get away with my comments! I am in no way less that the film producer-director-artist. The rationalists are courageous to criticize only Hindu beliefs.  I have  rarely come across a rationalist who would criticize other faiths. He can not dream of doing so!

Let us examine the worship of planets as per scriptures: In Hinduism, planets are at par with the Lord. When a Hindu worships a planet by doing pooja, japa and shanti etc., he has not committed any thing against his religion. On the contrary in Christianity and in Islam, the planets are mere creations of the Lord, as such worship of planets is forbidden.

आदित्यानामहं विष्णुर्ज्योतिषां रविरंशुमान्। मरीचिर्मरुतामस्मि नक्षत्राणामहं शशी॥ श्लोक २१, विभूति योग, श्रीमद्भगवद्गीत   "I am Vishnu in Spirits of Sun ; The radiant Sun of all lights; I am Marichi of all Storms and moon among all stars." --Sloka 21, Vibhuti yoga, Brimad Bhagawadgeeta.

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