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Decline of Hindus and the Rise of Muslims in Assam

Posted on 2016/4/7 20:28:30 ( 2495 reads )


INDIA, April 5, 2016 (Centre for Policy Studies, Dr. J. K. Bajaj): I have posted our eighteenth note on the Religion Data of Census 2011. This concerns Assam, where the accretion to the Muslim share during 2001-11 has been the highest of all States. Their share in Assam has gone up by 3.3 percentage points, as compared to the national average of 0.8 percentage points. This is also the second highest quantum of rise in Muslim share that Assam has witnessed in any decade since 1901.

Muslim share in Assam had risen by 9.6 percentage points in the pre-Independence period of 1901 to 1951 as a consequence of the British efforts to settle Muslim peasantry from several districts of what is now Bangladesh in the highly fertile Goalpara region of Brahmaputra valley. Their share has increased by the same 9.6 percentage points in the 4 decades since 1971; and more than one-third of this accretion has occurred in the last decade alone.

As a result, Muslims have now acquired a commanding majority in a large and relatively more fertile and densely populated part of Assam. The numbers and the trends indicate that this majority has now become permanent and is going to become more and more entrenched in the coming decades.

More at "source".

Hinduism Today Magazine Preparing Feature Story on Vrindavan

Posted on 2016/4/7 20:28:19 ( 2615 reads )

KAUAI, HAWAII, April 7, 2016 (Hinduism Today): Mr. Rajiv Malik, our Senior Correspondent for Hinduism Today magazine in India, is now in Vrindavan to research a feature story on the sacred area for our next issue.

He will focus on the major temples, the sacred places of the Radha/Krishna tradition, the gurukulams, resident saints, sadhus and sadhvis, and the great Hindu traditions represented there.

If you would like to offer suggestions for the story, or specific contacts for religious leaders or major religious institutions in the town, kindly email Acharya Arumuganathaswami, managing editor, ar@hindu.org, or contact Mr. Malik directly at rajivhtc@gmail.com or mobiles 9312090761/9311190761

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/4/7 20:28:09 ( 2284 reads )


At a national and international level, we will enjoy more peace as we become more tolerant. Religious leaders can help by teaching their congregations how to live in a world of differences without feeling threatened, without forcing their ways or will on others. World bodies can make laws which deplore and work to prevent crimes of violence. It is only when the higher-nature people are in charge that peace will truly come. There is no other way, because the problems of conflict reside within the low-minded group who only know retaliation as a way of life.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Women Activists Try to Storm Inner Sanctum of Shani Shinganapur Temple

Posted on 2016/4/5 14:59:50 ( 2495 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, April 3, 2016 (Deccan Chronicle): A day after the Bombay High Court ruled that entry to temples was a fundamental right of women and it was the state's fundamental duty to protect it, the activists of the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade led by Trupti Desai tried to gain entry into the core area of the popular Shani shrine in Ahmednagar district where women are traditionally banned, amid a tense face-off. It was the second abortive attempt by the activists in two months.

On reaching the temple, Ms. Desai and her followers tried to scale the sacred platform but members of the local resistance group and temple officials pushed them away. Police then intervened, took the activists to a spot 100 metres away from the platform and threw a protective ring around them.

Upset at her attempt being foiled, Ms. Desai said she would file an FIR against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis if he fails to honor the Bombay High Court order facilitating entry of women to places of worship. She also demanded Fadnavis' resignation as home minister for failing to honor the High Court order.

Now, Men Too Can't Enter Trimbakeshwar Temple's Sanctorum

Posted on 2016/4/5 14:59:39 ( 2424 reads )


NASHIK, INDIA, April 3, 2016 (Deccan Chronicle): The Trimbakeshwar Temple authorities here Sunday imposed a restriction on men's entry too into the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Shiva shrine with an aim to provide "equal treatment" to both the genders, a trustee said. The decision, which takes effect from tomorrow, comes in the wake of the Bombay High Court verdict giving women equal right to men with regard to entry into temples.

The development comes a day after Bhumata Ranragini Brigade Trupti Desai and 25 other women activists were taken into preventive custody to stop them from entering into the inner sanctum of the famous Shani temple in Ahmednagar's Shignapur village. They were later released. The ancient temple, located 18 miles from Nashik, is a major Lord Shiva shrine of the country, which has one of the 12 jyotirlingas, drawing devotees from far and wide.

At the Shani shrine in Ahmednagar too, the temple management has shunned the practice of special pooja for men from the last two months after agitation demanding women's entry into the garbgriha gained momentum. Now both men and women are offering prayers from an equal distance from the murthi. As of now, only priests are allowed on the sacred sanctum.

Ancient Zoroastrian Faith Gets New Temple in New York Region

Posted on 2016/4/5 14:59:29 ( 2457 reads )


RAMAPO, NEW YORK, April 4, 2016 (Religion News): The new home for followers of one of the world's oldest religion has opened to serve as a meeting place and sanctuary for some 1,000 followers of Zoroastrian faith from across the New York region. The Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple, or DMZT, a gleaming square building with an impressive colonnaded portico opened at the start of Nowruz, the Persian new year -- a beacon of optimism and hope in the next generation

Zoroastrianism is believed to be one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, dating back some 4,000 years to Persia, modern-day Iran. Before there were Christians and Muslims and Jews, there were Zarathushtis, as its followers are called, after their prophet Zarathustra. Today, there are fewer than 200,000 Zarathushtis worldwide, and their numbers are shrinking.

About 1,400 years ago, when Persia was invaded by Muslims, some Zarathushtis fled to India, where their faith took root. They are called Parsis, while those who stayed in Persia are called Iranian Zoroastrians.

The $4.5 million temple and community center was built on the site of the former temple, which had been a synagogue before it was purchased in 2001. "Dar-e-Mehr," sometimes seen as "Darbe-Mehr," translates to "Door of Peace" or "Door of Justice."

Hindu Youth Sought for Conference on Climate Justice

Posted on 2016/4/5 14:59:18 ( 1791 reads )


NEW ORLEANS, April 5, 2016: Applications are now open for young Hindus living in the United States or Canada, age 21-35, for GreenFaith's North American Convergence. Happening in New Orleans, June 20-24, 2016, the Convergence is an interfaith gathering of emerging leaders who want to put their beliefs into action for the environment in meaningful ways. Applications are due by April 18, with successful applicants being notified by May 16. Cost of participation in the Convergence as well as food and lodging will be paid by GreenFaith. Attendees are responsible for travel to and from New Orleans for the four-day event.

To learn more and the apply visit "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/4/5 14:59:08 ( 1738 reads )


Joys and sorrows are time-born and cannot last. Therefore, do not be perturbed by these. The greater the difficulties and obstructions, the more intense will be your endeavor to cling to His feet and the more will your prayer increase from within. And when the time is ripe, you will gain mastery over this power.
-- Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982), God-intoxicated Bengali saint

Hindu Americans Oppose Textbook Edits by Curriculum Commission

Posted on 2016/4/4 19:14:34 ( 2353 reads )


SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, March 31, 2016 (India West): Over 100 Hindu Americans staged a silent protest outside the Department of Education building in Sacramento, March 24, to voice their concerns regarding the California Department of Education Instructional Quality Commission's plans to accept edits made by a group of South Asian studies faculty members to California state textbooks from Grade 6-10. The proposed edits seek to remove references to India and Hinduism, and replace them with the terms "South Asia" and "ancient Indian religion," respectively.

Some of the proposed edits, according to the Hindu American Foundation, include eliminating mention of Hinduism's acceptance of religious diversity, and the contributions of Hindu sages from lower socio-economic backgrounds or disadvantaged groups such as Valmiki and Vyasa. The majority of the edits that the faculty group was trying to suggest were negative in nature in relation to Hinduism and India, said Samir Kalra, HAF director and senior fellow for Human Rights. "They were trying to erase a lot of the identity and contribution of Hinduism and ancient Indian civilization," he clarified.

The South Asian studies faculty members, who became involved in the process towards the end of 2015, comprise a small group of scholars from various humanities fields representing different universities, many of whom were not religious scholars, according to Kalra. Kalra added that there was a hearing on March 24 where the IQC met to review many of the suggested edits. Initially, the IQC's writing team had recommended 80 percent of the South Asia faculty group's edits, but during the hearing many of those edits were rejected, he said.

IQC's decision to reverse some of the proposed changes was apparently also influenced by public awareness campaigns, including letters from professors of religion and history who disputed the faculty group's assertions. Prof. Vamsee Juluri, who teaches media studies at the University of San Francisco, circulated a petition along with a number of other professors in order to bring about a public awareness campaign challenging the edits from the South Asia faculty group. The petition, which found supporters in a host of community members and scholars, garnered almost 20,000 signatures.

More at "source".

In Pakistan, Textbook Case of Radicalization in Public Schools

Posted on 2016/4/4 19:09:17 ( 2303 reads )


WASHINGTON, U.S., March 31, 2016 (Christian Science Monitor): The Easter bombing of civilians in a park in Lahore follows a long rise of religious extremism in Pakistan and a poisoning of public opinion towards minority faiths. The jihadist group that claimed responsibility for Sunday's suicide bombing said they had targeted Christians, though most of the 72 killed were Muslims. On the same day, thousands of radicals began a four-day sit-in in Islamabad over the execution of a bodyguard who killed a provincial governor who had been a voice for religious tolerance.

Yet the toxic religious atmosphere in Pakistan can't be blamed entirely on jihadis on the periphery of society, or on the system of religious madrassas. In recent years in government-approved schools, students are using textbooks that teach hostility towards all forms of thought and expression - except orthodox Sunni Islam. Pakistani intellectuals and secular educators argue that the texts present a steady pitter patter of negative views on other faiths, on democracy and the West, that begin at the earliest grades and continue through high school graduation.

The books claim that Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh faiths, and even minority Muslim ethnic groups are inferior if not dangerous and should be opposed. They often present stereotyped images from history - the crusades in the Middle Ages, unjust colonial British civil servants, Jewish moneylenders, or of marauding Sikhs warriors - as if these are current affairs and represent popular views in the West and India today.

Karan Singh's Book on Kashmir Released

Posted on 2016/4/4 19:09:06 ( 1962 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 3, 2016 (Tribune India): Dr. Karan Singh's book on the pristine beauty and spiritual ambience of the Kashmir valley was released here today. Titled "The Mountain of Shiva," the book is the only work of fiction among Dr. Singh's 30-odd books published so far. Describing it as a spiritual novel, the veteran Rajya Sabha member told a gathering at the book release function that the theme was based on the broad Vedanta philosophy.

The book was released by MP Pavan K. Varma, who said the fiction was really impressive. He suggested Dr. Singh should write many more such books. Dr. Singh, however, ruled out another venture on this line. "Any fictional work about Kashmir written now has to revolve around militancy, violence and destruction. That is not my cup of tea," the veteran leader said.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/4/4 19:08:55 ( 1656 reads )


God is with us. It is He only who gives us the strength to work. If we live with this inspiration in our heart, we will surely experience Divinity in our life. Our work will become our devotion, and means of our spiritual progress.
-- Rameshbhai Oza, inspired performer of Vaishnava kathas

Madras High Court Frowns on Loudspeakers at Religious Places

Posted on 2016/4/3 19:56:16 ( 2385 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, March 31, 2016 (Deccan Chronicle): Castigating the practice of using horn-type loud speakers (funnel-type, used mainly as mosques for the call to prayer) at religious places of various religions, causing noise pollution, the Madras high court observed, "It appears that these institutions (places of worship of different faiths) perceive that the blessing of God cannot be obtained unless there is loud noise. Prayers for all religions have been going on from ancient time even when electricity did not exist".

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh directed the authorities to immediately carry out inspection of all these places and ensure action against noise pollution. The Bench was passing orders on a PIL from S. Kumarvelu, a social worker, which sought a direction to the authorities to implement the order passed by the Supreme Court way back in 2005, restricting the use of horn type loud speakers in its letter and spirit in order to control the noise pollution.

"We see no reason why in view of the categorical judgment of the SC, which is now eleven years old, there should be any violation whatsoever. More than enough time has elapsed for implementation. The respondents (authorities) are directed to file the compliance report before the court, the Bench added.

Cornell Study Finds Some People May Be Genetically Programmed to Be Vegetarians

Posted on 2016/4/3 19:56:05 ( 2359 reads )


UNITED STATES, March 30, 2016 (Washington Post): Why is it that some people can stay healthy only by sticking to a strict vegetarian diet? Why is it that others can eat a steak a day, remain slim, avoid heart disease and feel like a million dollars? The answers may lie in your heritage. Cornell University researchers have found a fascinating genetic variation that they said appears to have evolved in populations that favored vegetarian diets over hundreds of generations. The geography of the vegetarian allele is vast and includes people from India, Africa and parts of East Asia who are known to have green diets even today.

Researcher Kaixiong Ye said that the vegetarian adaptation allows people to "efficiently process omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and convert them into compounds essential for early brain development." Nutritionists believe that getting a good balance of these two types of fatty acids in the diet is essential to staying healthy. The body can't produce these substances naturally, so it must get them from food.

Studies have suggested that humans evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids of 1:1. But this new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows that different people may need radically different ratios of the substances in their diet depending on their genes, and it supports the growing evidence against a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and for highly personalized advice. The existence of the vegetarian allele implies that, for people with this variation, straying from that diet -- by eating a lot of red meat, for example -- may make them more susceptible to inflammation, because their bodies were optimized for a different mix of inputs.

More of this interesting research recently published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution at "source."

Is Wikipedia Independent?

Posted on 2016/4/3 19:55:55 ( 2071 reads )


INDIA, March 28, 2016 (Jagrit Bharat by Aditya Agrawal): While surfing the internet and searching for information, many users navigate to Wikipedia for a preliminary insight on any topic. Hence Wikipedia articles are extremely important. For a non-academic user, information contained in a Wikipedia article is generally considered to be authentic. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Wiki articles have a much longer shelf life. Once created, these articles stay and can be retrieved whenever required.

This easy availability of wiki articles is the reason that it can be an ideal propaganda tool. The fact that anyone can create an article or can change it, makes a Wikipedia article a starting point for anyone who would like to put his/her point across. Additionally, if an article has to be given a deliberate political twist, it can also be done in a very clandestine manner. This later aspect has been understood quite early by Western opinion makers.

I was an avid user of Wikipedia. Steadily I also learnt to create some articles on Wikipedia. Most of us might be aware that on Wikipedia, anyone can create articles as well as edit existing articles. During my interactions with Wiki articles, I observed that whenever I created or edited a neutral article (on films/ music etc.) there were no issues. However the moment I tried to touch any page related to Hinduism, my changes were either removed partially or completely. I also observed that there were similar persons who were always involved in the monitoring process.

For Agrawal's detailed analysis of this issue, go to "source".

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