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India's Hampi UNESCO Site Remains Top Tourist Stop

Posted on 2016/5/27 13:37:05 ( 111 reads )


KARNATAKA, INDIA , May 27, 2016 (Euro News):The site of Hampi, in India's southwestern state of Karnataka, was the capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. The empire prospered between the 14th and 16th centuries until destroyed by Muslim armies. It received UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986. To this day, it remains a very popular destination - over half a million people visit Hampi every year. Some of the temples are still active places of worship. But the growing number of pilgrims and tourists brings new challenges. Deputy Superintending Archaeologist N.C Prakash's main task is to restore the ruined sites but also to ensure the safety of monuments. The biggest problem today is trash.

A group of locals is taking the issue seriously and has decided to get its hands dirty. Kiran Kumar runs a family guesthouse near the Virupaksha Temple. He and his friends join in to help keep the place clean."We have a responsibility to keep Hampi clean," he tells us. "So with my friends here, we clean the place. We've been doing this work for many years. We have an organisation called the Citizens' Rights Protection Forum, which we started in 2003. So we clean places like the riverbed, or the waterfalls area or the area around some other monument." It is not hard to imagine just how magnificent Hampi was in its glory days. It is a mythical site that bears witness to a rich history, whose beauty and integrity must be preserved for future generations.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/5/27 13:36:55 ( 114 reads )


"Just as a man will use a staff to climb a mountain, so should virtue be used in life."
-- Yogaswami of Jaffna (1872-1964)

Myanmar's Hindu Community

Posted on 2016/5/26 18:28:14 ( 375 reads )


MYANMAR, May 18, 2016 (Frontier): Signs of a vibrant Hindu community are everywhere in downtown Yangon; ornate temples peer out from between the tenements, and periodic festivals enliven the streets with rhythmic music, colorful costumes and offerings of sweet masala chai. With their roots in several waves of Indian migration during the British colonial era, Myanmar's Hindus are thoroughly a part of the country's intricate cultural fabric.

Hindus have long lived peacefully in Myanmar, U. Brajesh Verma, chairman of the Myanmar-Hindu Literature Association, said, because they "never interfere in anything." Because of their cordial relationship with the country's other diverse peoples, authorities have offered Hindus the freedom to practice their religion and preserve their culture through public festivals and ceremonies.

But while Hindus are relatively free to practice their faith, they remain political and economic outsiders in Myanmar. In a general election last November, Myanmar's first freely elected poll in decades, not a single Hindu lawmaker was elected to Parliament or appointed to senior executive positions. This economic and political exclusion leads some to return to their ancestral grounds.

Much more at "source" above, as well as Hinduism Today's feature story on Myanmar: http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/ ... tion/item.php?itemid=5647

Harvard to Offer On-Line Course in Hinduism Starting in July

Posted on 2016/5/26 18:28:03 ( 374 reads )


CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, May 26, 2016 (edx.org): This religion course introduces the rich and diverse textual sources from which millions of Hindus have drawn religious inspiration for millennia. The Bhagavad Gita has offered philosophical insights to a number of modern thinkers. This course will introduce important passages from important Hindu sacred texts, their interpretations by moderns and will give you an opportunity to engage with them. This course is part of the World Religions Through Their Scripture XSeries Program. It will be conducted by Neelima Shukla-Bhatt, Associate Professor, Wellesley College.

HPI Note: If you take this course, we'd appreciate a review of it.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/5/26 18:27:53 ( 284 reads )


Love is the source of understanding. You know intellectually that within you resides the potential, expressed or not, for all human emotion, thought and action. Yet, you no doubt meet or observe people occasionally whose life and actions are repellent or unacceptable to you. The absence of love has created a vacuum of understanding. For the meditating person, there should not be a single human being whose actions, habits, opinions or conduct lies beyond your ability to love and understand.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami(1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Delhi Firm to Manage Prime Minister Modi's Yoga Show

Posted on 2016/5/25 19:42:01 ( 573 reads )


CHANDIGARH, INDIA May 23, 2016 (by Nitin Jain, Tribune News Service): A Delhi-based private firm will make the massive logistic arrangements for the mega show being held on International Yoga Day in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform yoga along with 30,000 participants in the presence of 500-odd VVIP guests at the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh on June 21. The agency was selected after it made the lowest bid of US$430,000. The selected firm had also made arrangements for the maiden International Yoga Day event held in New Delhi last year. The private agency has to design, install and operationalize the sprawling venue, spread over 1.2 million sq ft, for mass yoga demonstrations and provide event management services in all respects. For the one-hour event to be held from 7 am to 8 am, the Chandigarh Administration has pulled all stops to ensure foolproof arrangements.

High Court: A Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe Ceases to be so After Conversion to Another Religion

Posted on 2016/5/25 19:41:51 ( 701 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 23, 2016 (by R. Rajashekar Rao, News India): The Hyderabad High Court has made it clear that once a member of Schedule Caste or Scheduled Tribe converts to Christianity or some other religion, such a person ceases to be a member of SC or ST and is no longer covered under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Rao, his wife and their son moved the High Court seeking quashing of proceedings against them in a case before the second additional judicial first class magistrate, Anakapalli, Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. The case was registered against them for offenses punishable under various sections of IPC and Section 3(1)(x) of SC/ST (POA) Act, basing on a complaint lodged by their neighbor (de facto complainant) Srinivas who claimed that he had been abused in the name of his caste. He said he belonged to the SC Mala community and was pastor at a church. Police said in their report after investigation that his wife and others categorically deposed that Srinivas was professing Christianity.

It is clear that they converted to Christianity and were running a church and Srinivas was serving as pastor by professing Christianity though he was basically a Hindu SC by caste. Further, the caste certificate issued in favor of Srinivas as 'SC Mala' had been cancelled, the police said. Rao and his family urged the High Court to quash the case against them pending before the lower court, saying that Srinivas had made false allegations to implicate them by abusing the SC/ST Act. After hearing both sides and perusing the material on record and various court judgments, justice B Siva Sankara Rao said, "The disabilities and handicaps do not continue after conversion. Thus, if a Scheduled Caste Hindu converts to another religion, except Sikh and Buddhist, that person ceases to be a member of the Scheduled Caste and cannot invoke the provisions of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/5/25 19:41:40 ( 457 reads )


It is far easier to conquer others than to conquer oneself, because the former can be attained by recourse to outside means, while the latter can be achieved only with one's own mind.
-- Mahatma Gandhi(1869-1948)

US Textbook Row: Victory for Indian-Americans as California Not to Replace "India" with "South Asia"

Posted on 2016/5/24 19:35:10 ( 734 reads )


WASHINGTON D.C., US., May 20, 2016 (First Post): A California commission -- mandated with recommendation and revision of school textbooks -- has rejected demands of replacing India with South Asia for pre-1947 references, which had become a major bone of contention from various academic groups in the US.

The California Department of Education's (CDE) Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), at its hearing on Thursday -- which was marked by presence of a large number of parents and students from both sides -- decided not to replace mentions of India with South Asia in the new framework for History Social Science textbooks in California. Over a hundred Indian-American children and parents testified at the public hearing at the CDE, opposing the proposal, and seeking restoration of the word India'.

Earlier this year, the Commission had proposed to replace instances of "India" by "South Asia" in its school textbooks at the behest of South Asia Faculty Group (SAFG), led by top academicians like professors Kamala Visweswaran of University of California at San Diego, Lawrence Cohen and Robert Goldman of University of California at Berkeley. The group had suggested that many mentions of "India" before 1947 had to be replaced with "South Asia."

The suggestions were opposed by another group of 41 academics led by professors Barbara McGraw of Saint Mary's College of California, and including Diana Eck of Harvard University who called the proposal "anachronistic" and "not historical." "Hinduism should be represented in California K-12 textbooks in a manner comparable to other religions "fairly, accurately and equitably," said McGraw.

India 'Survives' in California Textbooks

Posted on 2016/5/24 19:34:59 ( 672 reads )


WASHINGTION, D.C., US, May 21, 2016 (Times of India by Chidanand Rajghatta): India has survived in California school textbooks. Nothing calamitous was going happen to the country itself, but a pedagogical and academic battle over use of the term "India" over "South Asia" has been resolved to the satisfaction of overseas Indian nationalistic groups and Indophiles.

At the heart of the battle was a tussle between the nationalist groups and a few academics over using the term "South Asia" in place of India in certain contexts in school textbooks in California. Some leftist historians had petitioned for a change, maintaining among other views, that "India" was a post-colonial entity, and the term "South Asia" would be better suited while teaching ancient history of the region.

Eventually, many of the edits petitioned by the South Asia Faculty Group, including a demand to delete "Hinduism" and replace it with "religion of ancient India," were rejected. "For years, the American perception of Hinduism and India has been overly simplistic and inaccurate, in part due to the content of California textbooks," said Samir Kalra, senior director for the Hindu American Foundation, which joined nationalist groups in challenging efforts to "South Asianise" the region's history. "There are nearly a million Indian and Hindu Americans who call California home, so it's important for them to see their cultural and religious heritage represented with accuracy and parity."

Rare Discovery Pushes Back Iron Age in India

Posted on 2016/5/24 19:34:49 ( 681 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 18, 2015 (Times of India): The Iron Age may have come into existence in Telangana much before the rest of the world. At least that's the conclusion reached by archaeologists excavating the University of Hyderabad campus who found iron artefacts dating back to roughly 2,200 BC.

The team of archaeologists, led by professor KP Rao, has found several artefacts, including small knives and blades besides earthen pots. "The implements that were found were tested at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) using a method called Optically Simulated Luminescence (OSL). The metal objects were dated to anywhere between 1800 BC and 2,400 BC. So we are assuming they were made during 2200 BC," Prof KP Rao told TOI.

This, he said, predates the existing understanding about the advent of the Iron Age in the country. Worldwide, experts have put the dawn of the age around 1200 BC, marking the time when humans started exploiting metals to make basic tools.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/5/24 19:34:38 ( 605 reads )


Eternal, pure, groundless, death-and-birth free, pervasive, ever immaculate, distant, near, enveloping effulgence of void, the support of all, the fullness of bliss, the consciousness-form beyond thought and speech, That which thus stood, the expanse vast that generates bliss, let us contemplate.
-- Tayumanavar (1706-1744), South Indian devotional poet

US scholars Decry Plan to Change "India" to "South Asia" in California Textbooks

Posted on 2016/5/17 9:51:53 ( 2331 reads )


CALIFORNIA, May 17, 2016 (Press Trust of India): A group of 41 prominent scholars, including several Indian-Americans from across the US have written to the California Department of Education opposing proposals to change "India" to "South Asia" in the state text books.
Signed by distinguished academics such as Barbara McGraw of Saint Marys College of California, Diana Eck of Harvard University and Gerald James Larson of Indiana University, the letter called for a "representation of India and Hinduism that is consistent with the manner in which other cultures and religions are portrayed, and one which avoids Eurocentric biases." A copy of the letter accompanied a statement.

The group argued that the term "South Asia" is a post World War II geopolitical designation to account for the breakup of British India.

The academics pointed out that textbook narrative "refers to all other ancient geographical areas by their ancestral terms China, Japan, Egypt, Greece, etc." Only "India" is recommended for a change".

Earlier this year, the California Department of Educations (CDE) Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) had proposed to accept several changes to the textbook framework suggested by another group of academics named South Asia Faculty Group (SAFG), the statement said.
The suggestions included replacing references to India before 1947 with "South Asia" and "Hinduism" with "ancient Indian religions.
The group was led by academics Kamala Visweswaran of University of California, San Diego, and Robert Goldman of University of California, Berkeley, it added.

In its seven-page letter, SSRFG questioned these edits and said that SAFGs views did not constitute scholarly consensus as claimed by the latter.

The academics of SSRFG while welcoming "robust academic debate about the politics of India" in the academia cautioned that the debate is not "appropriately addressed in a K-12 textbook Framework narrative in California."

Calling into question the suggestion to replace the word "Hinduism" with "ancient Indian religions" the letter said "if anyone were to argue that Hinduism did not exist then as what we today refer to as "Hinduism", that would be an unfounded erasure of history on the grounds of semantics," said a statement issued on behalf of SSRFG.

Meanwhile, Harvard scholar Nathan Glazer has also called for using the term "India" for ancient Indian civilisation.

Writing as a response to the debate in New York Times he said, "for ancient India, as known to the classical Greeks and to Alexander, and to Greek and Roman geographers, to Portuguese adventurers, to 17th and 18th century British, French and Dutch merchants, to British imperialists, what other term, or some equivalent, would serve? They could not conceive of it as "South Asia".

"They knew it as a distinctive civilisation, stretching from the Indus to the Ganges, from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean (and should we change that name, too?), with its own ancient languages, and classic texts, and religions descended from them," Glazer wrote.

The California Department of Education (CDE)'s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will be hearing the matter on May 19th where it would finalise its framework narrative for its school textbooks.

The narrative would be submitted to the State Board of Education (SBE) for its approval later this year, the press statement said.

Getting Religious Studies Right

Posted on 2016/5/16 19:28:20 ( 2105 reads )


UNITED STATES, May 8, 2016 (The Chronicle of Higher Education by Prof. Arvind Sharma, McGill University): I should respond to Wendy Doniger's essay ("The Repression of Religious Studies," April 29, 2016, Chronicle of Higher Education, behind paywall) because I am the "Hindu" whose entry on Hinduism was substituted for her own by Microsoft Encarta in 2003. As it was put to me, some Hindus complained that they did not recognize themselves in Doniger's piece and therefore it was being replaced. My entry could have conceivably been written by a non-Hindu who presented Hinduism in such a way that followers of Hinduism could relate to it, as is sometimes the goal of the phenomenological method of studying religion.

There is a fundamental controversy in religious studies around the question: Is the ultimate nature of religion "religious" or not? According to reductive methods, the nature of religion is not "religious" but psychological, social, political, geographical, or something else. According to nonreductive methods, the nature of religion is "religious" -- the manifest assumption of theology.

There is, however, another method, known as the phenomenology of religion. A phenomenologist believes that believers believe, without necessarily believing what they believe. Perhaps what those Hindus who object to Doniger are trying to say is that they would prefer a phenomenological presentation of Hinduism, not necessarily a pious one. Such a view does not mean that only insiders can teach a religion, nor does it mean that the person presenting the believer's perspective shares that perspective.

Doniger's essay ends with a plea to defend academic freedom. I agree. The problem, however, arises when academic freedom degenerates into academic license, and academic license degenerates into academic licentiousness.

For the excellent well-reasoned full article by Dr. Sharma, click "source" above.

Hindu Students Council's 25th Annual Camp

Posted on 2016/5/16 19:28:09 ( 2010 reads )


NEW YORK, USA, May 11, 2016 : Hindu Students Council (HSC), the largest Hindu youth organization in North America, will be hosting its 25th Annual Camp at the Shanti Mandir, in Walden, NY. HSC, which hosted a successful Global Dharma Conference featuring over 55 world renowned speakers and performers in September 2015, will conclude its Silver Jubilee celebrations at the Annual Camp, which has been a hallmark of college youth summer activities since 1990.

This year's camp program will be structured around the theme of "Goals of Life," based on the Hindu concept of the "Purusharthas." "We hope that the students will develop a holistic appreciation and deeper understanding for all that Hinduism has to offer them. Over 130,000 students and youth have participated in HSC activities since its inception in 1990.

For more information, please visit www.hindustudentscouncil.org or email at info@hindustudentscouncil.org or contact Nikund Trivedi (732) 599-1561

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