What are some mind-blowing facts about Hinduism?

Answer by Shreyas Panhalkar:

Balaji Viswanathan's answer inspired me to write this. I am elaborating the second and third point mentioned in his answer.

I found it very fascinating the way in which Hindus measured/measure Time. Time in the Hindu scriptures is believed to be circular rather than linear. Time is "Anaadi"(अनादी) and "Anant"(अनंत). Anaadi means something which has no beginning and Anant stands for "Endless".

Read the following sentence and you will be amazed.

"At this time we (our solar system) are experiencing the last part of Kali Yuga of the 28th Mahayuga of the 7th Manvantara of the Kalpa"

Now let me explain some terms mentioned above.

Kalpa

Kalpa is a vast, cosmic time period also known as “a day(only day) of Brahma (God)”. Each new creation cycle begins a new kalpa. Name of the current kalpa is ShvetaVaraha. Approximately 4.32 billion solar years constitute one Kalpa.

Manvantara

Each kalpa is divided into 14 Manvantaras. We are in the first phase of 7th Manvantara –Vaivasvata.

Mahayuga

Each Manvantara is divided into 71 Mahayugas i.e. one Manvantara lasts 71 Mahayugas.

Yuga

4 yugas make one Mahayuga. Sat yuga(or Satya), Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga are these four Yugas.
Sat Yuga is sometimes referred to as "Golden Age" or "Era of Enlightenment" and each Yuga that follows is progressively “darker”. Kali Yuga is believed to be "Age of demon" or "Dark age".

Duration of each Yuga is mentioned in the following image-


These greater delineations are followed by further diminishing designations
of the time such as year, the half-year, the season, month, fortnight, and tithi.

Samvatsara 

Samvatsara is a period of one year. In all, there are total 60 names given to each year. Each name repeats after 60 years which is the period taken by Jupiter to orbit the sun 5 times! 

These are the 60 year names.

Ayana

Ayana is equal to the period of half year.Each year is divided into two halves, known as Ayana. Uttarayana begins on the day of the winter solstice,
normally December 21, when the sun begins its apparent northward journey.
Dakshinayana begins on the first day of the summer solstice, normally June 21,marking the sun’s southward movement.

Rutu (ऋतू)-

Rutu is nothing but a season. There are total 6 seasons in a year,and each season lasts 2 months (Masa).

1. Vasanta (spring)
2. Grishma (summer)
3. Varsha (Monsoon)
4. Sharad (Autumn)
5. Hemanta (Winter)
6. Shishir (prevernal)

Maasa

Maasa means month. There are toatal 12 months in Hindu calendar(Lunar).

Shaka and Chaitradi Vikram(kind of calendar) start with Chaitra while Kartikadi Vikram starts in Kartika.

Paksha

Paksha refers to Fortnight.One month is the duration of one orbit of the moon around the earth. In Hindu measuring of time, this period is divided in two parts, the light fortnight,called shukla paksha, and the dark fortnight –krishna paksha .Shukla Paksha is the period when the moon is waxing, beginning on the new moon (Amavasya) and extending to the full moon (Purnima). Krishna paksha, the period when the moon is waning, begins after the full moon and extends to the new moon.

Tithi

A tithi is an exact lunar day, which is approximately one-thirtieth of the time it takes the moon to orbit the earth. There are total 15 Tithis in one Paksha or fortnight. 15 Tithis are :
Prathama, Dvitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shasthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami, Dasami, Ekadasi,Dvadasi, Trayodasi, Chaturdasi and Amavasya/Purnima.

Purnima, full-moon day, is the fifteenth tithi of the bright fortnight, and Amavasya, new-moon day, is the fifteenth tithi of the dark fortnight.

You can read further divisions of time in this answer – Keta Ladsaongikar's answer to Ethnic and Cultural Differences: What are some interesting cultural differences in how time is measured?.

If you are more interested in knowing hindu calendar, see this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil…

Sidenote: It is said that 5,100 years of Kali Yuga had already elapsed before 1999. It is also said that one of the indications of the arrival of Kali Yuga was the curse given to the king Parikshit.(Read this if you are interested Shreyas Panhalkar's answer to Hindu Mythology: What are some of the most intelligent curses made in Hindu Puranas?).
 
 The creation and destruction of the universe is a cyclic process, which repeats itself forever. The universe endures for about one day of Brahma and then is destroyed. New universe is created again. It is believed that 50 years of Brahma have elapsed, and lifespan of Brahma is about 100 years (311 Trillion, 40 Billion Human Years.)


References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hin…
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hin…
3. http://www.vina.cc/news/index.ph…
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hin…
5. Keta Ladsaongikar's answer to Ethnic and Cultural Differences: What are some interesting cultural differences in how time is measured?.
6. http://www.himalayanacademy.com/…

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TrueCaller and Breach of Privacy

Tomorrow I came across this site called http://www.truecaller.com and found my number listed in its phone directory without permissions from my side. Of course I un-listed it and then searched for numbers of my family and friends.. Again I found some there without their permissions. This I believe is a breach of privacy. And if you don’t want your number listed there, go unlist it now. Any contact details available in this form is made available to the users of the TrueCaller app and this way, your number too might become public.

The swedish appmakers claim that data is gathered through partnerships with the white/yellow pages services available. But as you may find (and as I found), the names corresponding to many numbers are very much like how someone in your friend or family might have saved it. So, of course it is accessing all these contacts from the smartphones as it is too easy to access the contacts. It is pretty much like – “You must give your details and your friends’ details if you wish to use our service.” When someone selects to download and install this app and permits its requirements, I believe only his/her information should be uploaded.. why are others getting listed?? People like me have never authorized TrueCaller to provide our information to others.

If you wish to stop sharing your contact details with this app and its users, please un-list yourself as described below:

1> Go to http://www.truecaller.com

2> Search for your number.

3> Un-list it. You will have to fill-in the Captcha.

Also tell your friends and dear ones about it. Everyone has a right to opt out and must decide for themselves only.

What are the main/fundamental ideas in science?

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

Scientific method works in 5 stages:

  1. Asking the right question. "Why are some people blue eyed?" "How does a steam engine work?" "Why is sky blue?" You try to research existing answers and find out if those are satisfactory.
  2. Formulating a possible explanation. If the existing answers are unsatisfactory, you create a new hypothesis: "Sky is blue because the gas molecules in the atmosphere absorb short wavelengths and then radiate it."
  3. Predicting using the hypothesis. "Since the color is caused by gas molecules, the sky would not have any color when seen from a place with no atmosphere." You don't know this, but this would be the logical extension of your hypothesis.
  4. Testing your hypothesis. Now, you conduct your experiment to prove or disprove. You launch a satellite and take the photograph of space from there. If your hypothesis is true, it should be mostly black.
  5. Analyzing your results. Use various statistical tools to determine whether what you tested is statistically significant.

The key idea here is to create a testable hypothesis (stage 2) and then to create the right experiments that can either prove or disprove. You must be open to having your hypothesis disproved (Falsifiability) and be open to conducting a fair experiment (Statistical hypothesis testing).

Once you have done the five stages, you publish your results for others to see and comment upon. Using your raw data and methods they might want to recreate the experiment in their own labs or field and find if your prediction & analysis hold water.

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Who among Gandhi and Bhagat Singh was right in his approach towards the British rule in India?

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

In one of my classes in 11th standard, my English teacher was quoting a passage written by Louis Fischer that went to say how Indians would find very hard to understand what the Mahatma did for them and what the whole independence movement meant. We grow oblivious of the various wonders around us.

We now have the benefit of hindsight in looking at dozens of terrorist movements – from LTTE to Khalistan, Naxalites and Somali pirates.  Each of these movements started due to a genuine grievance. Tamils were illtreated, Sikhs were insecure, rural development was terrible and world ignored east Africa. But, all of these would be crushed sooner or later.

  1. Sympathies would dry up: India was very sympathetic to the grievance of the Tamils, until the LTTE blew up Rajiv Gandhi. Since then we had no trouble in using our army to help crush them. That would have been the world's attitude had India gone on the path of violence. Sooner or later America's guns would have joined British in crushing India's freedom movement.
  2. Every violent movement degrades: Bhagat Singh and Netaji are honorable men. However, as a violent movement picks steam it starts attracting the bad elements. They find the arson and looting beneficial to them personally. Eventually the bad elements kill off the good leaders. Prabhakaran of LTTE violently eliminated all the good Tamil leaders within. Same happened for all terrorist movements.
  3. Violence leads a chain: When two groups are busy blowing up each other, people in the middle get tossed up. Look at the poor tribals caught in the midst of Naxals and Salwa Judum. Or look at what is happening in the Middle East, although the initial movement was focused on just pushing the outsiders out. Even after the outsider is gone, the region continue to stay violent (Afghanistan)

World has little patience for violent movements. Ends don't justify the means. As soon as you start blowing up, the other side will bring the best of its guns & men. We Indians hypocritically oppose Naxalites while at the same time condone the violence done by our revolutionaries. We have to grow up to see that both are bad.

Would India give independence to Chattisgarh just because a bunch of Naxals bomb the trains and kill the policemen? That is preposterous. Of course not. Why would we then assume that the British Empire would have given us the freedom just because our revolutionaries did the same?


Greats from every walk of life – from Albert Einstein to Charlie Chaplin Steve Jobs absolutely admired what Gandhi did to freedom. Stop a while to think of what these great men have to say. Think why they should talk of the Mahatma this way.

"Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” — Albert Einstein

"Impressions of Gandhi? You might well ask for someone's impression of the Himalayas" — George Bernard Shaw.

I and others may be revolutionaries, but we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. — Ho Chi Minh (father of Vietnam)

Mahatma Gandhi will go down in history on a par with Buddha and Jesus Christ. — Lord Mountbatten (last Viceroy of India)

"Father of our Nation, in this holy war for India's liberation, we ask for your blessings and good wishes" — Netaji Bose (leader of Indian National Army)

Regarding the popular myth that Mahatma sent Bhagat Singh to the gallows, here is what Mahatma said:
Myths about Mahatma Gandhi

In the event of execution [of Bhagat Singh and others], peace is undoubtedly in danger. It is worth while saving these lives


Coming back to this question. Questions like this pain me in realizing how Indians are continuing to stay ignorant of what Mahatma did and what freedom actually meant.

Freedom was not about the removal of the British. That was the easiest part. Freedom was about fighting our own inner slavery mindset. Freedom was about fighting our inner evils and overcoming the enemies within. That is what Mahatma showed us that no other major Indian leader did. What Mahatma did was to build a universal language of freedom that everyone in the world instantly got. That is what bonded India and created us as a nation. Here is an interesting Italian ad that captures the key more than most books:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sda8xjmFv0khttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9T_5MeFA1MApple ad involving Gandhi.

Bhagat Singh, Netaji, Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar are all great men and we should both respect and learn from them. We can do that without being ignorant of Bapu.

The Mahatma's path was undoubtedly the path that took us to freedom and almost all major freedom fighters respected Mahatma's positions even if they opposed some of his policies.

If you think your 2 minute reading of a random Facebook post or a Whatsapp message makes you somehow knowledgeable about the Mahatma than what Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Netaji Bose  and the rest of the world deduced, I can only pity you.

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Difficulties of a Programmer : The Hardest Ones

Programmers are people around us who write codes and make things work. Things like Facebook, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Firefox etc. They are all around you.. and who knows even you may take a liking of constructing these apps and become a programmer!!

Programmers think and work differently as compared to general public. The understanding of codes bring an understanding of processes, of life and universe as well. “The answer Continue reading

What are the best body hacks that people should know about?

Answer by Tolu Manuwa:

Here are some interesting ones

  • If you've got an itch in your throat, scratch your ear. When the nerves in the ear get stimulated, they create a reflex in the throat that causes a muscle spasm, which cures the itch.

      "When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm."says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey

  • If you need to relieve yourself badly, but you're not anywhere near a bathroom, fantasize about relations. That preoccupies your brain and distracts it. 
  • Next time the doctor's going to give you an injection, cough as the needle is going in. Studies have found that people who coughed ­during intravenous injections suffered less pain than those who did not. According to the British Medical ­Journal, the act of coughing causes a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest, inhibiting the pain-conducting work of the spinal cord — leading to pain-free injections.
    You can read more about it here: Coughing can reduce pain of injection, study shows | BMJ
  • "Clear a stuffed nose or relieve sinus pressure by pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth then pressing a finger between your eyebrows" says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. This causes the vomer bone to rock, which loosens your congestion and clears you up. After 20 seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.
  • If you ate a big meal and you're feeling full as you go to sleep, lay on your left side. That'll keep you from suffering from acid reflux it keeps your stomach lower than your oesophagus  which will help keep stomach acid from sliding up your throat. Studies have shown that patients who sleep on their left sides are less likely to suffer from acid reflux. The oesophagus and stomach connect at an angle. When you sleep on your right, the stomach is higher than the oesophagus  allowing food and stomach acid to slide up your throat. When you're on your left, the stomach is lower than the oesophagus  so gravity's in your favour 10 Steps to Lessening Nighttime Heartburn.
    Remember, it is not advisable for you to go to bed immediately after eating. Wait for 2 to 3 hours.

  • You can stop a toothache by rubbing ice on the back of your hand, on the webbed area between your thumb and index finger. You can relieve a toothache by rubbing the back of your hand between thumb and index finger (the V zone where the bones of the two fingers meet) with an ice cube. Rub the hand on the side of the body where the toothache is located. Researchers at McGill University (Canada) have shown that pain intensity can roughly be halved by numbing the hand in this manner for about seven minutes (with the effect assumed to likely be due to the interruption of pain impulses travelling to the brain). The research done involved a small sample size: 22 men and 14 women. So, it is hard to say if the findings were correct. Google News Archive Search.
  • If you get all messed up on liquor, and the room starts spinning, put your hand on something stable. The reason: Alcohol dilutes the blood in the part of your ear called the cupula, which regulates balance. Putting your hand on something stable gives your brain another reference point. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom

  • Stop a nose bleed by putting some cotton on your upper gums right behind the small dent below your nose and press against it hard. It’s believed putting pressure on your gums blocks an artery that supplies blood to the nose. If it doesn't work, you could press between your eyes, where there is also an artery. If you cool the area with a cold ­fabric, that may help as cold makes the arteries constrict. If it doesn't stop within five to ten minutes, you might need to get more advice at your local walk-in centre or call your GP.
  • When you accidentally singe your finger on the stove, clean the skin and apply light pressure with the finger pads of your unmarred hand. Ice will relieve your pain more quickly.

  • Nervous? Slow your heart rate down by blowing on your thumb.

    "This idea has its roots in the fact that the thumb has its own pulse," says Dr Ghosh. ‘If you can calm that pulse down, you’re effectively calming the heart down, too.
    "Blowing will cool the thumb and hence calm the heart rate, as cold does slow down your pulse.
    This method might also help because the act of blowing itself forces you to deepen your breathing, which calms your heart.
    "Oxygen is the natural antidote to the adrenaline which raised your heart rate in the first place. Hyper-inflate your lungs to ensure maximum ­oxygen intake to calm down. Breathe in for seven seconds, hold for three ­seconds, and out for seven seconds."

  • You can prevent brain freeze by pressing your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, covering as much surface area as possible. Brain freeze (also known as  Ice-cream headache) happens because the nerves in the roof of your mouth get extremely cold, so your brain thinks your whole body is cold. It compensates by overheating which causes your head to hurt. By warming up the roof of your mouth, you'll chill your brain and feel better.
  • If your hand falls asleep, rock your head from side to side. 'Pins and needles' (paraesthesia or limbs 'falling asleep') is a sensation of uncomfortable tingling, usually felt in the hands or feet.
    A common cause is awkward postures that compress the nerves. Your hand falls asleep because of the nerves in your neck compressing, so loosening your neck relieves it. If your foot falls asleep, that's governed by nerves lower in the body, so you need to stand up and walk around.

On the other hand, one of the worst body hacks is to trick your body when going underwater (discussion and images from Wikipedia article):

  • DO NOT hyperventilate before going underwater – you can drown. (This is called “Shallow water blackout”.) There is a folk belief that this increases your blood oxygen level, letting you stay underwater longer, but it doesn’t (your blood oxygen level is already pretty saturated), and is very dangerous. Instead, it decreases your blood CO2 level, reducing your reflexive respiratory drive (i.e., “must…breath…now”), tricking your body into not begging for air when it needs it, leading to drowning. Your body uses the CO2 level to judge when to breath, not the oxygen level, and thus when these are out of balance you can black out (from lack of O2) without realizing you need to breath (because the CO2 level is too low to trigger the reflex). Instead, before diving, take a moment to relax and breath normally (you may be excited and hyperventilating without realizing it), and always dive with a CPR-training buddy observing.

Right: O2 and CO2 levels with normal breathing

Wrong: O2 and CO2 level with hyperventilation

Useless, but a nice trick:

  • Next time you're at a party, try this trick: Have a person hold one arm straight out to the side, palm down, and instruct him to maintain this position. Then place two fingers on his wrist and push down. He'll resist. Now have him put one foot on a surface that's a half inch higher (a few magazines) and repeat. This time his arm will cave. By misaligning his hips, you've offset his spine.

    Sources: 18 Health Tricks to Teach Your Body, Doctor, you can't be serious! They might sound barking, but some of our crazy DIY remedies actually work, 10 Amazing Tricks Your Body Can Do! | Yahoo! Health

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