The horrible Consequences of Pressuring Women to bear Children – 12 Jan 16

I yesterday told you about the expectations that Indian parents, in-laws and society members have on newlywed couples: they should get babies as soon as possible, otherwise something is wrong with them! That is a whole lot of pressure especially on the woman who is the one that is repeatedly asked and expected to report. A lot of women actually believe that this is what is supposed to happen after marriage anyway and they, too, want it to happen. They want to conceive – but that is not always up to human to decide! Sometimes, it just doesn't happen. And that is when the pressure of society can become too much for them to handle!

I have met a lot of women in the situation that they could not conceive or that the fetus in their body never grew. I talked to women all over the world about their mental, emotional and physical problems. The stress is big on all of them – but in India the pressure from the outside is by far the worst!

Obviously, if you have tried for a long time and have had several miscarriages or simply never conceived, it is emotionally draining. It is physically challenging as well. It is a mental burden. But in the west, it is usually a burden that comes from the inside of the woman herself. It is born in her own wish to have a baby and the fact that this wish has not fulfilled as well as the fear that it may never be reality.

In India, the burden mostly originates from fear of disappointing others, from the wish of others to have a grandchild, from the expectation and pressure – because that is what it is – to bear children. The fear of being seen as inadequate, unable to perform the most basic of your duties as a woman and the emotional pain it gives you to not be able to fulfill the wishes of others. Along with the regret that your own feelings don't seem to count at all. Own disappointment may play a minor role, too, but it is overshadowed greatly by influences from the outside!

Of course in India, too, there are procedures to be done if you cannot seem to conceive a child. Fertility tests for both partners, devices to measure the time of ovulation, several methods to help conceiving naturally and of course IVF, in vitro fertilization. Apart from the fact that some of these treatments require young couples to take loans to be able to pay for them, are also as painful emotionally as they are physically! Upon failure – and the chances of success are often dishearteningly low – women are shattered! All their hopes for happiness, love and respect from the outside are gone with the eggs or embryos that left her body back to its non-pregnant state!

Women fall in depression. They lose the charm for living. There have even been suicides out of this very reason! Especially due to arranged marriages where it is a bargain you make for marrying and where love is not a factor in the equation. It is as though the groom got damaged good that did not function well and could not bear the produce it should!

Can you believe we lose lives due to this stupid expectation? Of course parents have a right to have hopes and dreams for grandchildren. They have no right to create pressure though and the whole society should know: by valuing the phantom of a future child more than the woman’s feelings, you make her sick. You kill her a little inside with every month’s menstruation! Is this what you want? I don't think so!

So please let couples fall in love and marry out of love. Let them decide when it is the right time for a child. Let them live their own life. Be there for them when you are needed for support – be that a helping hand in changing diapers or a shoulder to cry on when the wish for a baby remained unfulfilled!

The senseless Tradition Santhara does not justify Suicide! – 26 Aug 15

On Monday I went to Delhi on short notice for a TV debate. The topic of this discussion was the religious custom called ‘Santhara’ which is common in the Jain religion. Let me explain you what exactly this is, why it was a topic for TV and what my stand on it was.

Santhara, also called Sallekhana, is a practice among Jain believers with which people who are older than 75 years go to their voluntary death. If an old person of Jain religion feels there is no point of living anymore, if he wants salvation, if he feels the world doesn’t need him anymore or he doesn’t need the world anymore, he just stops drinking and eating. He won’t eat a bite and won’t even drink a sip of water anymore. He will die – and his fellow believers will applaud it.

This is how their saints died and this is the way of dying that the Jain religion glorifies. Now however, the High Court has banned this practice, as they consider it suicide.

Obviously, the Jain community is more than unhappy about this and wants to go to the Supreme Court to have this ban removed. They say that a court and a law cannot forbid this old practice and tradition.

So I was having a debate with five further people on this topic. I told very clearly that this is nothing else than suicide – which is why the court banned it! Every year 200 people in India kill themselves in this way! If someone goes on hunger strike, the government doesn’t let them die – they are force fed instead! You stop eating and drinking, so you will die – what is the difference?

My words were met by a strong opposition saying that this was not at all suicide but a wonderful thing for the soul. The soul would know its time and it was a necessary practice for reincarnation.

I refuted this answer, telling them that this was nonsense and that there was no such thing as a soul or reincarnation. If you allow these people do kill themselves, you have to allow suicide to everyone. Make a law for death by each person’s wish – then everyone can decide to kill himself whenever he or she wants to. You however want to have this right only for you because for the rest of people it is not allowed! You glorify this way of dying and due to this, people will follow! You are encouraging them to commit suicide!

They said their forefathers had always followed this practice as well. One lawyer, who will fight against this ban, claimed that it was not suicide at all, the soul would leave only at its time. That’s how there were people living for months and years without eating and drinking. On top, they argued, they wouldn’t tell young people to do Santhara, only those above 75 years of age.

Now for me, it is not an argument to say ‘our forefathers did the same’! This doesn’t mean it is right and just because they were doing wrong doesn’t mean that you have to do the same! It was the same with the Hindu practice of Sati, when women committed suicide on the cremation fire of their husbands! They were forced to follow this tradition until it was banned! Then, too, a lot of people protested – but in the end, you just cannot make the law of a country according to religion or tradition!

Your argument about only telling this to old people is invalid, too! Who decides who is old and who is not? Who says old people are not useful anymore? Why do you give them the idea that after 75, they will soon have to die? A lot of politicians and people of other work fields are working into their high eighties as well! If I just see how invaluable my grandmother is to my daughter – I wouldn’t want to miss her just because of such a stupid tradition! She is 95 years old or even more and in this way, we would have lost her 20 years ago!

And I don’t even feel like replying the idea that someone could be alive after not drinking even a sip of water for a month, let alone several years! That’s just nonsense and fraudulent claims of cheaters!

I am sure that the ban will remain and I think it is good that this practice will finally stop.

Complete Trust is too dangerous – just pretend believing in God – 4 Jul 13

The tragic story that I told you about yesterday sparked some discussions in the media and of course also online on social networking sites. Many people just dismissed the case saying that this man and his family were uneducated and foolish. Another person said ‘It is not good to be too superstitious’ and some religious people said you should not try and test god. I wanted to reply to these and similar statements and, believe it or not, defend this man a little bit.

Why would I, the non-religious non-believer, come to the defense of a man who killed himself and his family in order to see Shiva? Because I think they have been fooled by religion into believing that Shiva would actually come and save them! It was not his intention to die or kill his family, he honestly believed he would be saved.

Those people who said he was just stupid are obviously not aware of the fact that he was not uneducated at all! He was a freelance photographer, he sent his children to school and you cannot say he was like the illiterate villager who will believe anything you tell him. No, he was not illiterate and while you may call him superstitious, there are many educated people who call themselves religious and faithful who are also very superstitious because they believe all those stories of the scriptures.

I have to laugh if you say ‘It is not good to be too superstitious’ – a little bit superstitious is okay? You now call this man too superstitious because the holy food that he gave his family was poisoned and he thought it would not harm. The fact however that you think this food is ‘holy’ at all and has some good benefit is fully fine for you! Isn’t that superstition as well? You eat this food each time after going to the temple and think it will help you – he thought even poisoned food will be good. Isn’t it the same?

The root of superstition is religion and its stories, which you can see very clearly in this example. Scriptures insist that all their stories are true and this man was actually simply a very, very faithful believer! He had full trust in god and god’s power to save him. So much that he even made a video of the evening. He read all those scriptures in which devotees are saved and he followed their example. Many believe the stories are true but few dare to do the experiment. What killed him in the end? Superstition or just a very strong faith?

So shouldn’t you all religious people actually celebrate him as the one real believer? One who had so much faith that he even ate poison? You are scared and don’t believe enough in god to be confident that he would save you! If you cannot do what this man did, you don’t really have faith in god and the scriptures!

What can we learn from the whole story? Maybe that you should not trust god completely because if you do, you will die, waiting for him to come and help you! Fool god, tell him that you believe in him and have full faith while you would never actually trust him that much!

If this is the way that you take your religion, I am again surprised that you manage to lie to yourself or your god that much. If this is what you want to do, you are free to do so but I think it is not honest. If you call yourself religious, you should believe in it 100% with all its scriptures and full faith, like this man.

And if not, I think you should not oppose me if I say that those scriptures which spread such superstition and lead to the deaths of whole families should be destroyed and forgotten so that they can do no further harm!

An Example of how much you can really trust God and religious Scriptures – 3 Jul 13

Some time ago I read news of the most horrible consequences of stupid religious superstition: the death of five members of a family in India. They died in circumstances which would be ridiculous if their death was not so tragic. I can however say confidently that these people were killed by religion and another three members of the family brought into a life-threatening situation.

A religious man in Rajasthan, Mr Kanchan Singh Rajput, decided to go even further in his devotion to god. He wanted to see and experience god and believed that god would save him if he ate poison. He was so convinced that eating poison would make god come to him that he also convinced his mother, his brother and his wife of the idea. This is how the four of them and four children, his and his brother’s, were present in a ceremony at their home. After the ceremony they all ate their prasad, which is a piece of food that was offered to god and is considered blessed. The head of family had mixed the poison into this holy food.

As this man was a camera man by profession, he was recording the whole ceremony and celebration before eating the prasad and consequently also his own death and the death of his family members. They all fell unconscious and five of them died. The man’s niece woke up in the morning and managed to make an emergency call. She and two other family members were brought to the hospital and were in critical condition when the news came out. Unfortunately I could not find any update whether they survived or not.

When I posted these short news on facebook, my western friends were obviously bewildered: why would you eat poison, why do you think that will make you see god? In some kind of hallucination or what was the idea behind that? And why would you give that to your whole family on top of it?

The reason for this man’s action is simply his belief in religion and the superstition that religion brings along. In Hindu scriptures it is written that Shiva drank poison but didn’t die of it and there are so many stories in which faithful people nearly died but were then saved by one god or the other because they were so pure and completely devoted to god.

It is thus to me no big surprise to hear such news. Such things happen from time to time in India, where religious belief and superstition is still strong. They had a very strong belief in the scriptures and in God. They were convinced that Shiva will come and save them when they are in danger, just as he had done with so many other people in the scriptures.

They had an extraordinary trust in god and that is what religion teaches: if you have this crazy trust in god, he will save you. If you like, you can take this as a proof that god does not exist. Religious people may now argue and say they did not believe enough, otherwise Shiva would have come to save them. But how much more can you believe or trust if you are even ready to eat poison to meet god? Or maybe they should not have video-taped it because god doesn’t like to be on films?

I know just one fact: religion killed this family. It is tragic and for me another sign that people have to become less religious and less superstitious!

Are you ready to accept the Death of your Children to save your Traditions? – 15 May 13

Today I am planning to write my very last post about arranged marriages, at least for quite a while. I have, in many diary entries about arranged marriages, reasonably and quite calmly explained you why I think it is not a right concept. I have elaborated on my arguments, countered arguments of opposers of love marriage and tried to address every of the factors I could imagine that play any role. There is however one point that I cannot, just am not able to address in a calm way: the many, many deaths that those people are responsible for who are so fanatic about their ‘ great culture’ that they would not accept if one of their family members married someone whom they did not arrange and whom they don’t approve of.

There is hardly a day when I don’t read of such a case in the newspaper. I am not only talking about honour killings, which are horrible enough crimes, but I am talking about young couples who take their own lives, who commit suicide, because they know their family would never accept the one they love. They prefer dying to making their family upset. They love their parents, they love their families but they also have found the love of their lives and cannot imagine living without this one anymore but also not without their families.

So they jump in front of a train, hand in hand. They hang themselves in their rooms, leaving a sad note for everyone to read. They shoot themselves or they take poison. Two young lives, extinguished by a stupid idea, a stubborn mentality and a hateful basic attitude.

I was asked, after one of these days’ diary entries: ‘What problem do you actually see with arranged marriages? Millions of people do it in this country!’ Here is the problem that I see with it: this system kills these young people! It does not only murder their dreams, it brings them to a point of desperation where the only solution they can see is to set an end to their lives from their own hand!

Millions of people live in arranged marriages, yes, I know, but they don’t have any other option, don’t you see that? Your great culture, which you are trying so hard to preserve in its ‘original state’ doesn’t even let them marry out of their caste!

When you talk about the ‘original state’ of your culture, what do you actually mean with that? How were your grandparents arranged and why don’t you do it like their parents did? Marry your children off at the age of ten, why don’t you? Because culture has changed, times have changed and it doesn’t fit anymore! So realize that you cannot threaten your child into marrying the one you choose if your child doesn’t want to! Otherwise the result may well be a death that will be a burden on your conscience for your entire life!

You love your children, don’t you? They love you, too, but you think they don’t if they don’t agree on marrying the one you want. They don’t want to go with the judgment that you make of a potential future spouse’s body – because that is all you can see within the half an hour you met that man or woman! They want to judge themselves, by the experiences they had with a person, by the feelings they have for this person, by the love that they feel and which is returned!

Does your daughter really need to jump in front of a train for you to realize her love for this boy? Does your son really have to lie on a burning cremation fire for you to realize that he loved her just as he loved you? That your children did not want to hurt you by disobeying your words? But that love is stronger?

Don’t be stupid, save lives, save tears and let your children follow their hearts!

Pressure, Stress and Tension in Schools and Universities – 25 Jul 08

Today Melanie, Ramona’s sister come from Passau. Yesterday she had passed her last exam of this semester and now she will stay here for a while. We were talking about exams and tests in universities and in schools nowadays.

Somehow the educational system creates a lot of pressure. There is a lot of fear and tension in a student’s mind. If it is pressure from the side of the parents, the teachers or from the student himself, it definitely is not the right way to learn. Before exams many students are very nervous. They are afraid of failing. They might have learned everything only for this day of the exam and with the purpose not to fail in the exam. It is not the aim to learn as much as possible so that you are good in whatever you will do later and surely the reason for learning is mostly not a great interest.

These situations before exams can be very stressful and I know some people get serious health problems because of this. And I also heard of pupils and students who committed suicide because of the enourmous tension and pressure that they find themselves in. That is not the way how learning should be. Learn from your heart, then you will remember it longer. Of course, maybe sometimes you have to learn something which you might not be very interested in but please don’t panic. Whatever happens, even if you fail, the world is still turning and it will be for the best.

Why Do Gurus Materialize Gold and not Food for the Poor – 31 Mar 08

Yesterday I said that it is not good to waste something in rituals that can be used to feed hungry children. And there are so many hungry children and adults in this country. With our charity projects I am helping some of them but I would love to just have lots of food that I can give to everybody.

Many times people have shown me that someone has materialized a gold pendant and given it to them. Then they ask me if I believe in this and I will say I only believe in materializing love, not gold. Those who claim that they can do this, like Sathya Sai Baba from South India, why don't they buy food from this gold for those who are starving? Why are there so many cases in which a father killed his family and finally commits suicide because he could not afford feeding them? Why can't those people who materialize gold also make this world wealthy and give food to everyone? It is not only in our country that people die of hunger and thirst; in the whole world this miracle would be needed. Why can't they help the poor?

When I ask this kind of question I sometimes get an answer that is very strange for me. I am told that this is the Karma of the poor. What does that mean now? That materialized gold is only for rich people because they have the Karma to be rich? They think that the poor people do not deserve help because they did something wrong in their past life? No, this is not my logic, not my idea of helping someone.

I remember my school-time and that I was very interested in all kinds of magic tricks. I was even doing shows of up to two hours of magic tricks in which I practiced materializing things. It is only your hands that have to be quick. Oh, I did so many tricks, I also burned money and then materialized it again. This kind of show I can do and everybody can do it if he just trains his hands to be quick.

I do not believe in making gold from nothing and I think those who do, are like the sheep that I was talking about the other day. These materializations are then called miracles. I do not make miracles, I feel that this life is a miracle on its own. When a flower is blooming, this is a real miracle!

While I was talking this Ramona said I should be careful, maybe many people will turn away from you if you talk like this. But I replied that this is okay because I do not want to have sheep anyway. If people leave because of this I feel this is a kind of filtering. Those will stay who think on their own and realize that love is the way and materializing love should be our aim.