Tag Archives: Biography

Sri Krishna

shri_krishna
shri_krishna

Sri Krishna is the central figure of the Hindu Bhagavad Gita. Sri Krishna is widely considered to be an Avatar – a direct descent of God.

As Sri Krishna said in the opening section of the Bhagavad Gita:

“Whenever, O descendant of Bharata, righteousness declines and unrighteousness prevails, I manifest Myself. For the protection of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of religion, I come into being from age to age.”

This not only expressed Sri Krishna’s divinity but, also promises future incarnations of God in human form.

Sri Krishna was born in prison to devout parents Devaki and Vasudeva. At the time his life was in danger because the tyrant Kamsa was seeking to kill him. It had been foretold that Kamsa would be killed by Devaki’s eighth child. Since Sri Krishna was the eighth child, he was smuggled out of prison to be raised by his foster parents Nanda and Yasoda in Gokula.

Sri Krishna in Brindavan

In the early stage of his life, Sri Krishna is often depicted playing the flute for his beloved gopis – female devotees. Of these Radha was the greatest devotee.

This life episode was crucial in the development of Hindu Bhakti devotional tradition. It is this tradition of bhakti which was important in the lives of future avatars such as Sri Chaitanya and to a lesser extent Sri Ramakrishna.

Sri Krishna and Bhagavad Gita

On his return to Mathura, Sri Krishna befriended the Pandava Prince, Arjuna. Sri Krishna became a counsel and friend to Arjuna. At the onset of the Battle of Kurushetra, Arjuna choose the counsel of Sri Krishna rather than his armies. It was on the Battle field of Kurushetra that Sri Krishna gave the immortal dialogue of the Bhagavad Gita, which was an exposition of Sri Krishna’s yoga and how an aspiring seeker might seek union with God. Unlike Indian scriptures of the past, the Bhagavad Gita did not require world renunciation, but encouraged world acceptance.

Sri Krishna at Dwarka

In later life Sri Krishna retired to Dwarka where he lived for many years.

Legend has it that Sri Krishna was killed by an arrow through his ankle.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…. ”

– Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born Feb 12, in Hardin Country, Kentucky. His family upbringing was modest, his parents from Virginia, were neither wealth or well known. At an early age, the young Abraham lost his mother and his father moved away to Indiana. Abraham had to work hard splitting logs and other manual labour. But, he also had a thirst for knowledge and worked very hard to excel in his studies. This led him to become trained as a lawyer. He spent  8 years working on the Illinois court circuit; his ambition, drive and capacity for hard work were evident to all around him.

He married Mary Todd and had four children, although 3 died before reaching maturity.

As a lawyer, Abraham developed a great capacity for quick thinking and oratory. His interest in public issues encouraged him to stand for public office. In 1854 he was elected to the House of representatives and he tried to gain nomination for the Senate in 1858. Although he lost this election, his debating skills caused him to become well known within the Republican party. This reputation caused him to be elected as Republican nominee for President in 1860

The election of Lincoln as President in 1861, sparked the South to succeed from the North. Southern independence sentiment had been growing for many years and the election of a president opposed to slavery was the final straw. However, Lincoln resolutely opposed the breakaway of the South and so this led to the American civil war. The civil war was much more costly than many people anticipated and at times Lincoln appeared to be losing the support of the general population. But, he managed to keep the Republican party together, stifflying dissent by promoting the various Republican factions into the cabinet. Lincoln oversaw many of the military aspects of the war and promoted the general Ullysees S Grant to oversee the northern forces.

Although the war was primarily about succession and the survival of the Union, Lincoln also issued his memorable Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

Eventually after 4 years of attrition the Federal forces secured the surrender of the defeated south. Lincoln had saved the union and also brought to head the end of slavery.

Dedicating the ceremony at Gettysburg Lincoln declared

“that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln was tragically assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, an actor on, April 14, 1865. He is widely regarded as one of America’s most influential and important presidents. As well as saving the union Lincoln was viewed as embodying the ideals of honesty and integrity.

Jesus Christ

Jesus
Jesus

Jesus Christ is the central figure of Christianity and undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the development of western society.

Due to lack of accurate historical records, there is some dispute over the exact details of his life, and teachings. The most widely used sources are the 4 canonical gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is estimated that these were written over 70-200 years after the death of Christ. There are also many other non-canonical gospels such as Thomas, Peter and Mary. Of particular importance was the discovery of the dead sea scrolls, which uncovered texts previously lost.

Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph of Nazereth. According to the gospel of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. They also suggest Mary was a virgin and the birth was a miracle of the ‘Holy Spirit’

According to the Gospels, the birth of Jesus was proclaimed to shepherds in nearby fields. Later on Jesus was visited by 3 wise men from the east offering gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Not much is known about Jesus’ early life, the Gospels concentrate on the last couple of years when he was active in his ministry. However, Jesus is believed to have followed in his father’s footsteps and trained to be a carpenter. Some have also suggested during this period Jesus travelled to India and Persia where he learned something of India’s spiritual tradition before returning to Nazareth to begin his ministry.

All three synoptic gospels say Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, at the River Jordan. This symbolic baptism was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Following his baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert where he was tempted by the Devil. However, he passed the test and refused any temptations of wealth or worldly gain.

Jesus’s teachings were characterised by short pithy statements that used striking imagery to capture the imagination of listeners. His most famous teachings are the sermon on the mount.

Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

—–

A key characterist of Jesus’s teachings are an emphasis on forgiveness and unconditional love. These represented a departure from the old scriptures which emphasised an eye for an eye. Jesus taught his followers to ‘love their enemy’ and ‘turn the other cheek’

“But I tell you not to resist an evildoer. On the contrary, whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.” – Matthew 5:39

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. (Matthew 5:38-44)

Jesus Christ also taught that the Kingdom of heaven was within. To attain this state he taught it was important to be willing to give up attachment to the world and maintain humility and simplicity – to be like a child.

“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!’ or `There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you (or “within you”) Luke 17:20

It was the radical nature of his teachings and a growing following which aroused the suspicions of the authorities.

Jesus was also known as a healer. The gospels recount many miracles where Jesus was able to heal the sick and even resurect the dead (Lazarus)

In the last months of his life, Jesus entered into Jerusalem and was greated enthusiastically by crowds who shouted ‘hosanna’. Jesus then entered the main temple and created controversy by overturning the tables of the money lenders; criticising them for conducting business in a sacred temple – claiming they had turned the temple into a ‘den of robbers’

Later that week he celebrated the passover meal with his 13 discples. He foretold he would be betrayed by one of his own disciples and turned over to the authorities.

This later occured. Judas betrayed Jesus to the temple authorities by kissing Jesus. Judas was paid 30 silver coins for his betrayal. But, he later repented of his action and hung himself from a tree.

The Jewish elders asked him if he was the Son of God. Jesus replied ‘It is as you say.’ The Jewish authorities passed him to the Roman authorities with the recommendation he be charged him with blasphemy. It is said Pontius Pilate was reluctant to have him executed as he didn’t see the crime against the Romans. His wife had a dream he which she felt him innocent and his wife tried to persuade Pilate to release Jesus. Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged in the hope this would appease the Jewish authorities. However, they still wanted to see Jesus executed. On the feast of passover, it was traditional for the Roman authorities to release one prisoner. However, the crowd chose not Jesus but Barabas – a convicted criminal. Pilate washed his hands saying it was not his crime.

Jesus was then led upto the calvary to be crucified. He had to carry a cross and at one stage fainted – and was helped by Simon of Cyrene.

The three synoptic gospels say that Jesus died on the cross, with a Roman soldier puncturing his side with a spear to prove that he was dead.

Nature of Jesus Christ

In the history of early Christianity there was much debate about the nature of Jesus Christ. Some felt Jesus was a direct incarnation of God, others felt he was both divine and human. There were different branches of Christianity emphasing different aspects. For example, the gnostics emphasied the immanence of God, and the ability for followers to have a direct relationship with God.

In 325 AD, the Nicene Creed formalised the Christian church teachings about Jesus. They accepted 4 gospels as canonical and rejected many other gospels. The Nicene creed also gave great emphasis to the writings and letters of St Paul. St Paul emphasised the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the importance of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Different Views of Jesus Christ

Enlightenment views
Many key figures in the enlightenment / renaissance felt Jesus to be a supreme teacher of moral and religious ideals, but rejected claims to divinity and miracles such as the virgin birth. For example, Thomas Jefferson wrote the ‘Life and Morals of Jesus Christ’ (known as the Jefferson bible. Benjamin Franklin also looked to Jesus Christ as a great moral teacher, but, didn’t accept all the teachings of the Christian church.

In the Hindu / Indian tradition Jesus Christ is seen as a realised Spiritual Master. A person who has achieved self-realisation or God-realisation. Jesus Christ is also looked upon as an Avatar – a realised soul with a special mission to uplift a wide number of souls. Many Indian spiritual Master see Jesus Christ as divine an ‘incarnation of God’ But, do not accept that Jesus Christ was alone in achieving this spiritual realisation.

In Islamic tradition, Jesus Christ is seen as an important prophet of God.

Henry Ford

henry-ford
henry-ford

Henry Ford was n Industrialist who changed the face of automobile manufacture in America, becoming the epitome of American Capitalism. He lent his name to Fordism – efficient mass production.

Henry Ford Early Life

Henry Ford was born in 1863 on a farm in rural Michigan – near Detroit. From an early age he expressed an interest in mechanical devices. He was given a pocket watch at the age of 15 and he developed a reputation for being an experienced watchmaker.

Shortly after his mother passed away, Henry left the family farm to gain employment in Detroit. He worked his way up to becoming an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company. By 1893 he had become chief engineer and gained the recognition and encouragement of Thomas Eddison. Henry Ford retained a deep affection for Thomas Eddison throughout his life.

It was working as chief engineer at Edison’s that he was able to work on a petrol drive quadricycle. His testing was successful and this enabled him to develop this into a small car. This proved the basis for the famous Model T motor car introduced in 1908. The Ford motor company was formed in 1903 with backing of $28,000 from various investors.

Working Practises of Henry Ford

Henry Ford astonished the industrial world by offering a daily wage of $5 a day. Even by 2008 prices that is a very good salary. This wage was far above what anywhere else offered. At a stroke it solved the problem of labour turnover and encouraged the best workers to come to Ford. Through paying high wages, Ford was able to encourage the highest level of labour productivity. Although many criticised his seemingly over generous pay, he also pointed out, that the high wage helped the workers to be able to afford the cars they were making.

However, Henry Ford was hostile to the role of trades unions. For a long time he battled against the trades unions refusing to have anything to do them. However, by 1941, with the workers on strike, his wife encouraged him to finally capitulate to the United Auto Workers UAW.

It was Henry Ford who also revolutionised the production line processes. He helped to develope the assembly line method of production and was always seeking to cut costs. Alhough he did not ‘invent’ the assembly line he did make one of the most successful commercial applications of its potential. This led to his famous decision to give customers any colour they choose so long as it was black. This was because black was the quickest colour to dry and therefore the cheapest.

The impact of the assembly line was to help reduce the cost of the Model T Motor car. It helped Ford become the dominant motor car. In 1932, it was estimated Ford were producing 33% of the world’s automobile production.

Henry Ford had a strong dislike of war. He helped to fund a peace ship to Europe in 1915. He spoke out against the ‘vague’ financers who encourage war’. He never really got involved in the Second world war effort, though he allowed other officials in the Ford company to transform Ford into one of the biggest military plane builders in the war.

Henry Ford also subscribed to various anti semitic pamphlets. Although he later apologised for some of his anti semitic views, he was deeply admired by Hitler. Ford is the only foreigner mentioned in Mein Kampf and it is said, Hitler had a photograph of Henry Ford. Hitler wanted Volkswagen to mirror the production techniques and philosophy of Ford motor company.