Catholic vs. Other - 2017-05-14 - K. Gandhar Chakravarty

Author Recorded Sunday May 14th, 2017

There are 41 episodes in the Versus:Other series.

Recorded September 21st, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-21 - Tino

Recorded September 10th, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-10 - Judah

Recorded September 2nd, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-02 - William

Recorded October 21st, 2016

Catholic vs. Other - 2016-10-21 - Ben

I have known Gandhar since around 2003. He is an interesting man with a lot of colorful stories to tell. I attended his Ph.D defense a few years ago and always enjoy picking his brain about religion and philosophy.

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Under Construction

These YouTube transcripts are generated automatically and are therefore unformatted and replete with errors.
hi this is Gondar you are listening to Catholic verses of it so tell the audience if you would a little bit about yourself who you are what you believe and how you came to believe it I've done many things over my life I guess I'm mostly consider myself a writer I've been a creative writer a poet an academic an anthropologist and I'm also a songwriter and singer and I've sort of had I've made my life since I turned 20 or so now in my mid to late 30 and having traveled the world I think they've been to something over 30 countries now and with all I've read and studied I've seen a lot of different religions and ways of life and philosophies and rituals and I have my own upbringing you know and my own thoughts in face of all that and finally having seen so much diversity both the glorious parts in the dirty part I have nothing much else to say except that anything is possible when did you realize that anything is possible with it just now more and more no more and more steps no lie to you I'm not a pretentious guy asking a little bit about what am I going to say okay like you know I saw the categories on the website I said well what what am I going to what am I gonna use dye used to identify something in the context like as a spiritual but without religious affiliation were you ever a Muslim Hindu Christian Jew or anything like that well I grew up with a Hindu mother who's not necessarily opposed to eating beef and an AC atheist father who'd like to take us to the hare Krishna temple okay as a child did you ever pray to God of the gods well that's what was very funny about do with my parents you know we did a lot of poojas at home and we're also part of like a Bengali community that did religious celebrations in the city so we had other big bali front like this you know cut kids more or less the same like me and my siblings and but at home if i were to answer your question like you could be described as my mom being really fervent and having this culture that was so dear to her and really getting into that deeply and you know asking us to pray for good grades and good jobs and things like that in the process to my dad like kind of being more like on the clanging the pan side like that you know it's called exactly what there's like a thing you hit you know to make noise and some of the ritual loca like a bang - bang bang Bang's like a little instruments said I know what it's called and is that where you love the music came from or um partly I think yeah I could I can say that the love of music and the love of travel a lot of discovery or all of that have been there from very early on and because of my parents I mean they were my dad is a sitar tabla player and now in his retirement he's become like a published poet of many books in Bengali and the painter who's doing exhibitions you know but he said that he's like you know I my first love was Bengali literature and that was his first degree but then along the way he said why I need to also I want him like I want a career I want a life in Canada I want to raise a family and so he did that and then it's kind of like when when you know he kept music like you had all this music and stuff before and he came back to it once or adults out of the house okay so my dad would be one of the music side a clanging in the pan it would be the way where he's like enjoying it but also subverting it as an atheist know it's just as I I don't know how to explain it it's just more like watch this and enjoy it even if you don't believe it and that was like a real funny message to be having in the prayers we have this dichotomy between your parents believes what was it look on your mother's face when I was there she's oblivious okay in the connection other cities like behind you know ah interesting I'm not in the same like you've got the Harriet Christensen they look how beautiful this is and you can enjoy this and you don't have to mock it but you also don't have to believe it or you can and so there was a really strong message growing up so already I guess there's maybe the seeds of anything is possible we need this great trip like Bohemians the family they really love to travel they want to say this is the whole world and one time he rented a car in France and we did I don't know a lot of countries just by car like in a circuit we drove like through countries all the way to Italy and took us ferry to Greece and continued to all the way back around to France and so went through Romania and the formulas love you you know and they were still communism and I got to see that was very young good communism impress you with its lack of religious color you know it might have been younger even for that philosophy I might have even been like seven or eight so what I don't remember much of the trips I remember seeing more it like going through Romanian and you know farmers farming and then there's just soldiers every so often you know to keep an eye on them but then you know we also wanted like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and it'll cheesy tears photos like you will read yeah we on a vacation you know it was like the whole spectrum there's a whole spectrum already right there and so yeah then even I talked about this in my first book Kolkata dreams I'm it's in the prologue I think as a true story the my first memory is is actually like between reality and a when I was three my parents took me on a trip of the under sibling and they took us all on a trip which encompassed I had to get the facts straight and I can remember in October I said I saw the Mona Lisa in the Taj Mahal on the same trip okay that was that that's the fact of it and the memory starts like I'm on the stairs of the Taj Mahal and the monkeys are scarier this is the real memory that you remember that like yeah and they were tying the white shoes on you're like yeah the guy was crouched in front of me had his train on his onyx across his chest which is like a religious thing talk about later and then he was like just cracking down and I remember the shoes like we're very loose with the kind of a kind of boots with a stream like these with cloth and they tied around to protect the inside of the Taj Mahal when you go I and that's that's what they do there and I remember this he couldn't really but my feet were so small he couldn't really get it tight enough and then that memory ends and then then this is the first part is clearly the dream because then I'm in the Taj Mahal I don't know what happened next in like reality but my next memory is a dream which was am in the Taj Mahal and I'm looking at the Mona Lisa with these boots on and there's some laughter in the background I see two older kids from some other family like throwing a boot around having fun playing cash and then I look down at my feet and the one one of my boots was mystogan my shoe was touching the inside of the Taj Mahal and I felt like I desecrated God and that's like my first memory I've carried with me there's a lot of carry with me from the beginning that's the beginning to this same time very intense it's funny had one foot in one foot out of the sacred and it's like your mother and your father did you ever feel like you could help bridge the gap I'm sure you want religious unity no I want unity but I'm not really wanting you religious unity I like religious diversity okay it makes the world more interesting and more colorful is the truth important though is it important if two religions disagree about doctrine is it important that they resolve it or no no no I believe there can be two or more contradictory truth existing all at once in a moment wait that's okay but when you go to the cashier and she gives you the wrong change you're always sure to correct her right that's just math sometimes I do sometimes I corrected the other way if it was like no you gave you back too much change take some back so everything is possible this is pretty much a theme I've had a near-death experience okay another fertility recomment I was twenty I guess and I was visiting well you know I went to Indian I wrote that program I was in India for six months in West Bengal but right before I went I'd taken a year off University of Western Ontario those movies study English and then I just went down before the trip I went down to visit some friends who were still in school and on the last morning we just decided they would let's move this aquarium to like our friend's house I just like a long in this column and I remember is really weird the guy said why don't you sit in the front I'm moving the aquarium you can have the friendly back but don't worry about it okay like I was getting out at the next stop okay he's going to stay on and move the aquarium she's going to drop me back at my friends and I didn't even belt up and sure enough you know the guy decides to pull a u-turn at some point and gets belted by the car I see these guys two heads in front of me like smack together and my head smacks declare and I severed my temporal artery and I was left for dead like on the on the wooden table that they leave corpses on to go to the morgue like next up morgue but I woke up in the emergency room on the corpse table kind of like to the first nurses like my head hurts I remember them stitching me up I remember them working on me but I think finally they'd left me for dead and they came to and there were no blood transfusions left the way it did there's never like I think all the blood was gone and we the ambulance ever looked at me like I was a ghost because she was waiting for me at the end and she said I've never seen anyone do that motion blood in doctors I've talked to said that's like a 99% fatal injury the temporal artery delivering you know blood to your brain so that one I was actually sold did you experience having during that time on yeah I remember like in the ambulance as like don't fall asleep or you will die for sure my cousin I could see it was bad or he thought of life but I guess it wasn't my time I mean you know up until then I had been terrified of death let me because I'm light up for you know my mother was really overprotective in the reference I was like terrified of death and making mistakes and after that I lost all my fear like you know what if dad didn't get me I think I saw the reason to be while I was studying English I kind of got into UFO theory for a while how UFOs and cloning can I got into this idea you know how they can explain aspects of the Bible and I don't remember this has a kind of into riot literature for a while and I even got to meet Ryan and speak to him for 10 minutes and that time is cool knew that the same month he was in Playboy magazine and I was in Montreal and I went to see went to be a conference there the monthly conference to have a about to cut that hold court with him for ten minutes it was pretty cool but I also got me thinking about in a more fun taking a more like something more like philosophical I guess what because it included a debate we and creationism and an evolution right and I kind of saw hard to think of it as it could be both oh no there could be a planet with like its own ecosystem and being going on and then some advanced species could come and start mucking around with genetic sciences and so on a lot is possible anything is possible because if there's a possibility to contemplate and then in what you knew me also my dream my theology degree at Concordia and I was studying the Nazarites in the Bible the historical measurements from the Bible how that evolved is right the Masters is out there for anyone wants to read it is there a title for that yeah that one is called where of all the Nazarites gone and the other ones who don't cut their I've been in the early 1900s two black African movements that came up in my search is online like smashing knives right magic hazard they picked it up the number six one to 21 or especially one to get in the first nine or ten lines and then word three laws are three main laws they they picked it up independently of each other as their central practice within this kind of music which I explained and the in the dissertation at his really the critic religious movement which in both cases and different sources but to be general mixing aspects of African traditions biblical traditions Judaic and Christian Indian tradition and even modernity the technology of modernity as it comes before in the 20th century both independent groups had done matter yeah that's what was going on and so it's a study of that why the passengers and then what are the results and what does that say about post colonialism does that say about a bunch of other things too what are the names of these two groups you know the impressions gets in my dissertation yeah I know that one I called the Shem bake church and one is Rastafari believer all right okay in Jamaica for my dissertation and then in my post office that we've got so far I in South Africa and Morocco okay did this start in Ethiopia or no it started in Jamaica like ratify as like a spiritual religious movement okay started in Jamaica but the base is based on certain understandings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in okay okay that's why I love you have that confusion one time Haley soybean church was there doing its thing for thousands of years hey Lise elapses is known in that tradition as the last emperor of the 225th he was an Orthodox or that our Beatrice believes he was the Emperor of that system the final emperor by the way we had I had it in Christianity I continued a similar type of culture it's the only church that looks at both the Old Testament and the New Testament in the same regard for my church does so I don't maybe there's other ones yeah but the old is there anyway okay okay this we have your Catholic Church Roman Catholic Oh nobody like what I mean is they also practice the Old Testament well I say no no no no yeah that's what I mean - oh I see okay okay they keep that they turning their wall old being together with the new test with circumcision with everything yeah oh oh I don't know what circumcision okay but it did come up in my research like the chambray church in the zoo lines because they really consider themselves keepers of the mosaic tradition they do circumcise Rastafari I didn't extend it that way the blahs of Nazareth more natural guys know so they wouldn't see that they don't even want to country sometimes want to be everything natural natural natural that would be counterintuitive to Rastafari first there was a discrepancy what obviously discrepancies we're going to do groups a lot more I would say the internal era t5li yeah even though what they were following in the Bible the parts that they found the most important were you know more or less the same parts so you imagine you'd gained a lot of knowledge so you sort of grew a soft spot in your heart for these people and their the tradition that they have developed or ah we're there just a purely objective scientific role that you played there you people used to have to pretend they were truly objective but now in anthropology you can state like obviously Who I am is going to affect the study like one thing I address for example was you know as a brown guy with a beard and I grew up my hair I grew up my beard to be an ass yes I was living you stop drinking with them well I mean I was I would and my own time is my own time but I was doing the research I was doing Glover I was living as that and it was very different for both groups like for example the in the chambray church they spend like hours on their knees in prayer hours like on a hardwood floor or concrete or grass concrete you guys to have outer temples in your campaign I've visited both types and I still have scars scars on my knees the way the rest of my days just like all the djembe followers now I got scars on my knees too and then with the rosters like that's what I want to say it's like I think the study is objective but like you know I would say like for a personal perspective like a hue mean I have more in common with the last days and with the Shem baby okay they're very very austere there is very strict fishermen yeah and and depends on which they have different factions within the church and some are more traditional but it's a very hard life and one I couldn't identify with at all as a human being something to want to do but there's aspects of Rastafari culture of course like reggae music and even some of the Naya beanies which appealed to me also as a musician yeah I met a lot of really cool Rasta figures when I was leaving with muta Baraka for a while okay and he's someone who took over the mantle of ossified prophecy since Bob Marley passed away is one of the biggest killers of us prior lives a legend and he took me under his wing and showed me around but I did some stuff on my own - I was able to meet this musician Earl Chinna Smith on my own he's also known as Melchisedec the high priest of reggae he's 75 or so now and he's been on 500 albums for everything from Bob Marley's one love to Amy Winehouse his final album as the guitarist I got to record with him when I was down there a couple of tunes is ganja central to rest areas know for sure that there's no doubt about that how do they view it they viewed as a sacrament they smoked it in a challenging right to give you some points of reference with Catholicism they take some of the words from religious traditions and they apply it to their own artifacts of culture I do want to interview a true raspberry and are there any immaterial you'll find some rusted guys mantra but what you're going to find about the rasta fires it's going to be very different depending where you find the rust or the rough that is a rusted Montrell is not going to hit the Rasta growing his own ganja and food on a hill in Jamaica right so if you really want to learn off so you have to go enjoy all the way yeah is that true of the Hindus and I mean a true Hindu here or do I have to go didn't India I think we're lucky that way and I can't see for all rosters maybe we're going to find some unified some genes only be wrong about some defrosted ice here in Montreal but there'll be this kind of hybridised yeah because of his roster ideas self-sufficiency agrarian life and I talked about this in one of my articles called ratify a revisited how there's like depending on a variety of factors you know like there's there's kind of what we could describe as my Orthodox ideals and more secular versions of Roth okay could it be an atheist Rasta it could be a lot of different things anything is possible okay I know people who share a lot of views from two or more religions okay that's that what Christianity isn't it finally it's a at least a combination of old Hebrew traditions and Greek philosophy of the time yeah even everything is coming from the old everything new is always coming out of the old do you know st. Justin Martyr said famously he was a pagan that converted to Christianity in the second century and he said that all truth belongs to us Christians so it's just idea because he was criticized for taking Greek philosophy in and embracing this philosophy and that philosophy and he said look truth is truth all truth belongs to us Christians so that's how I feel about truth and when when Protestants poo poo Easter or Christmas or this pagan tree or whatever it is it's like God made the tree and everything that's true about pagan religion I embrace is that but you represent that's not that's the Catholic Church's teaching is it yeah everything that's true within everything good comfort does everything good comes from God if the pagan truth is good because it comes from God because though they revised that in Vatican to Butler Vatican 2 no there's no dogmatic statement and not able to not be excited it was purely a favorable nun things only in the Vatican to is a change that the Catholic Church that they admitted I forget which of them of the documents existed did one of the writers and I met him a Charles Kenny geezer was important that he was at Cornell at Concordia they revived it used to be before Vatican 2 and only the only way to truth and God was through Catholicism no they're in Vatican 2 they revised now there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church that is in place but our understanding of it has evolved for sure ok sure I don't know the specifics yeah I'm not the Catholic and it's like both ISM but what I want what does that call to mind is is something that I would say is finally my personal greatest frustration with organized religion whatever that means in any and that and it's not universal to all contexts of organized religion but where within that framework if you have someone who says I know the truth it the best and I have a monopoly on I am the way the truth and the life I guess there's one please that's contradiction to anything is possible where there's one answer I could say if anything is possible so when Jesus said I am the way the truth and life view objects what we don't know what he said or didn't say finally if he said that you would object to Jesus Christ we're going to say the only way if he says no one can go to the Father but through me would you object yeah Jesus man what are you taking with you on that okay so you you have an objection to to one truth one path a lot of people are everyone because yeah I don't believe that s not possible there's too much diversity would be one way that's universally true for everyone there's there's an expression I don't know where it comes from it says in essentials unity in non-essential diversity and in all things charity so in the essentials we have to be united because contradiction they're deadly but in things that are non-essential diversity is embraced because that's the color that we bring go to a Catholic liturgy in Africa it will be different from the one in Japan or in Russia right yeah okay but here's the thing about Christian unity from a historical perspective from a post-colonial perspective that often when Christians went to other places that South America and Africa and India and encountered indigenous cultures say or what you know people who are living there first they would cover it and it's like here look unity let's all be together let's all be one and all over things are the same what but but but but then the second part of that is as long as you do what we tell you to do well did you say only we can be United as long as you follow what we say to do and that was the problem well I think we can agree this when people when Catholics whether they're faithful or not god only knows but when Catholics who are sinners by the way when they do evil it's evil when they do good it's good right it's no different from the pagan when the pagan does good it's good when it does evil see that's not that's what's not true in other cultures as much and another there's much more than you in Hinduism and African cultures so much more nuanced version of of good and evil they're they're like the connected you know here's a good example I was telling someone the other day like you kill you kill someone oh it's horrible over are over but two different situations two different people killed somebody first guy he just want to kill someone to laugh at him and to humiliate him and to get pleasure out of seeing him die the second guy was presented with a scenario where his his wife and children were going to be raped and mutilated and he killed the guy before he got to do that softer to different situations same action it's not same actually it's this it's very clearly distinguished and nuanced in the kind of church but that's not saying you have to look at all the snares so and the church does he have to commit evil this guy to stasis but that was like the first principle is life so self-defense isn't a violation of the commandment not to kill it's regrettable that life was a life was taken so this is an extreme example yeah but I'm saying within that there's a there's a lot of gray area anyone's yeah yeah yeah we're good and evil aren't necessarily clear things of course that's another possibility discovered along the way is that sometimes there are necessary evils that need to occur for worse evils to be vanquished well we there's a principle in Catholic Church that we can never ever do evil so that good may come of it but when we do self-defense that's the principle of life at work were protecting life and so you may say well it was evil to kill the aggressor listen David people do it every day they send snipers to kill this in that guy and they say we're doing good yeah that is that true god only knows in each case exactly I don't know and I don't know and it's hurtin all its hurts no and it's arrogant to claim to know I think I think so that's what my church teaches and that's why I'm saying like until you're in it and it kills your exact only your perspective you can't claim to know anything else beyond that for anyone out that's why we have to be careful not to judge hypocritically we do need to judge things for example the example that you gave of someone who maliciously and gratuitously kills someone just for pleasure if that's all there is to the story I think we can judge that we should judge that and that guy needs to be punished absolutely so there is a certain judgment that is incumbent upon us but there are many many many situations where it's it's just too complicated and we don't know the answer and we have to trust God and God alone so yeah it's but we are living here lots of little particles of God to each of us if you believe that yeah you also probably want to tell you know I pray before I go on a plane I'm a spiritual person okay I told you before I said anything is possible doesn't mean that I'm not spiritual yet for deeper spiritual but like the same way my feet were in one world in another world now it's like I have so many feet I can't count them you know the gender said what I mean on the spiritual plane okay and yeah I had deeper spiritual moments in this championship a deeper spiritual personal moments of studying Rastafari there's no doubt about it but I take that approach and I guess I also get that from my Indian upbringing is that music is prayer you don't put your foot on a on a music instrument its respective cooking is prayer cooking is worship anything should be elevated to make a sphere screen 11 offering how do you how do you avoid falling into pride where you think that you are God and you are the source of everything that's good how do you how do you avoid that because it is a ten I don't think so that's the thing I think that's why I never really became a big rocks or any things I just don't have that narcissism oh thank you care about people will use I feel like you're immune to this enterprise no that's good I have I haven't been it sometimes but I've something that I have I mean it's one of the things I've actually been working on conflict in my they're losing my losing my ego not having my identity being based on anything I've done in the past and being in a moment and kind of lose a lot of myself - I want to talk a little bit I always talk about what I think so fascinated by it what's your perspective on it and how is it different from the other Eastern teachings I don't know much about Buddhism could you mention being in the moment that sort of immediately brought to mind mmm Buddhism and I mean a lot of a lot of business rooted in the Hindu notion sitting out a lot of it Buddhist Buddha was I think that Jesus was born in a Jewish or Hebrew yeah we stick Buddha Siddhartha was born in the rock member sophia and that trees okay then he started something but I think I mean I think the major lesson of Buddhism is detachment which is also very viable if it's a hard one to understand that was which I'm about pride I was very passionate when I was young and too much into my style and I can say this for sure more the more I've become detached from pride the more useful my contributions have been you know the THD was almost a six-year project of attaching to that pride when you when your nap ecologist doing it and in that kind of methodology that I did which was you mean with the group being going it's it's about not being yourself for six months which is hard when you know I think it's certainly love discredit looking to kind of a big personality and it's nice my personalized not so big anymore so this research yes I guess there's a danger on the other extreme of not knowing we are not knowingly what you believe and where you're going and what you're doing what you can contribute you're just a mess I'm not saying that about you but it's a danger on the other end of the spectrum from ego you need a bit of Eagle right you never felt lost and confused a little bit or oh yeah it was crying sometimes that that was so overwhelmed with what I was going through I wasn't paying you know I was going barefoot on pilgrimage from miles with these people to an hot tar sharp stones sometimes on needles well I wore shoes my whole life and then I'm just going along barefoot on hiked up this mountain with the dispute there are a lot of arduous experiences and then they fast a lot too which I wasn't used to sounds days on end there's fasting so go through it exchanging them like I got a lot of great research answers yeah that teach the African Nazarite comparative study of such a nature gymnastic Lara out there and out there on the web people to read it clean downloading it and it's kind of making fun of the academic process at the same time and I didn't mean for that to happen so reminding the name of the book the Veda the Hidden Valley and then there's the second poetry book which I wrote in 2009 maple Vedas can you give a little overview of that Felicity I never left it like a playful project for me where I am I wrote the undestroyed undiscovered scriptures about the travels of the gods of India Shiva Hanuman the monkey god Ganesh other gods and just some it's not a huge book but there's like a few random scriptures and that take place some of them are from 3,000 years ago some of them discovered they're from just like a few years ago and it tells you what they've been up to in Canada and who they've met along the way didn't tell the whole story but it's part of the story we attempting to be faithful to the tradition of those gods or you other bending them if I'm clearly the author but me obviously I want to say they're undiscovered scriptures it's just we're having fun with the idea that if these are truly God's so there's an immortal they're still here we just don't necessarily know all their tales of what they're doing that there's um there's one you know one for me back there again it's like it's like the shoe it's half real half in between in between one in one door one door except a cap through an app play but you know I'd like to believe that when Jesus was on the cross Krishna was just floating there whispering to him in his ear something nice so there's a pole was that part of your book there there's a pole about that that's one all alone there's another poem with the monkey god Hanuman is riding on a moon sundar having a conversation on a wintry day and as I mentioned to you before this started we had three artists who contributed their but Chris Dyer who was on your show is one of the artists who's featured it was great to have his work because you know the other two artistically read the poems and they they grew amazing images out of it but Chris was a friend and I was familiar with this work some of these poems have been written before we met even and anyway when the time came here to publish the book I was like I just supposed to do this where I'm like wow some of these images would be really good for some of these poems and I contributed three really nice beautiful pieces one is like for the poem where the bench isn't that Ganesha's trunk would grow so long sometimes we've crawl around the world and just happen to have a ganesh curling his trunk around the world no way for example you could not look for maples a minute or more wow that's interesting I was a great project I took a year off between my masters and my PhD and I was able to get a little Quebec grant arts going to do that and this was one of the things I did that year nice way to spend your downtime have you ever labeled yourself as an atheist I toyed around with the idea for a while okay it didn't suit me not agnostic there was a bit of that but I also started to realize that we all believe in things we can't see every day do you believe in the supernatural or I've experienced the supernatural okay I've experienced ghosts I've seen a UFO okay and a lot more stiffness for the end but d-league laissez about it now expect that happened in my life after five oh yeah there's that demon that I interacted with us do you believe in demons by the way yes okay demonic energy anyway dude are you firmly on the side of goodness yes I want good to prevail okay it always has you'll dabble in evil and play with evil no no as I was going to say sometimes in these moments where one evil is to count another evil if you're involved in that sometime it's destiny washing over you it's God if you know that your heart is good it's beyond society it's beyond laws it's sometimes it's just God so as a final wrap-up what would you say that anyone that's listening tread lightly be happy and do your best to leave a smile every face what every person you ever mean yeah you like it what to do if you think it's awesome questions ready I don't know all you got to do in it all you got to do to do in it all you got to do