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Yoga Gains Popularity in US Schools
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:49:02 ( 637 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, March 24, 2002: Sixty San Francisco classroom teachers make yoga an integral part of physical education as well as regular classes. At seven public schools here -- with more on the way -- the "yoga break" has taken its place beside typical school rituals. Yoga Journal, a Berkeley-based bimonthly, calls it "Om Schooling." Besieged by budget cuts, most of California's elementary schools no longer have a physical education teacher. With free teacher training by Tony Sanchez, a yoga master, yoga is becoming an integral part of the physical education classes and the regular classroom as well. Sanchez founded the United States Yoga Association, a nonprofit organization. Sanchez has trained 60 classroom teachers citywide in Hatha yoga, which concentrates on athletic postures and breathing techniques. Yoga is not common in the American classroom yet. But it is increasingly becoming part of the physical education curriculum nationwide. In Seattle, 15 of 97 public schools have yoga as a warm-up in gym class, and it is an elective for high school students, said Bud Turner, the physical education coordinator. "Physical education is moving in the direction of lifetime activities like toning, swimming and yoga," Turner said. "We're getting away from traditional team sports dominated by three kids in the athletic elite." San Francisco's yoga-in-the-schools program was prompted by the failure of 74 percent of California public school students to meet state fitness requirements, said Gloria Siech, a physical education content specialist for the San Francisco Public schools. To avoid potential controversy, she said, the program focuses solely on the physical aspects of yoga. There is no Sanskrit or mention of Hindu deities.




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Dalit Leader Criticizes India's Hindus
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:48:02 ( 667 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, March 26, 2002: "Buddha, Jesus, Christ and Marx are the ideal persons for our society," stated Kancha Illaiah. He teaches politics at the Government Women's College, Koti, Hyderabad, is active in the Dalit-Bahujan [Scheduled and Backward Caste] movement and wrote a book, "Why I Am Not A Hindu." His remarks at a convention on Dalit literature reflect one controversial view of the place of Hinduism in India. According to this article, he claimed more and more people in the world are turning to Christianity and Islam as they preached equality among humans unlike Hinduism which divided people on the basis of caste and religion. He criticized the brahmin caste and said, "The Bhagvad Gita only taught how to kill the people, which is being followed by brahmins in this country."




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Siddheshvari Devi Well Received in Alabama
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:47:02 ( 726 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA, March 20, 2002: Siddheshvari Devi Ji could use "On the Road Again" as her theme song. Devi Ji, better known as Didi Ji, is one of the few female Hindu swamis in North America and she's almost always on the road. She carries all of her worldly possessions in a suitcase as she travels, giving discourses on the essence of Hinduism and seeking to dispel what she says are the myths and misconceptions related to one of the world's oldest religions. The founder of Divine Love Mission, Didi Ji's message during a recent visit to Alabama -- her first -- focused on the inner happiness and peace she finds at the essence of Hinduism. Dr. Laj Utreja, president of the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama, estimates there are about 400 Hindu families in the Huntsville area. Didi Ji was raised in a traditional Hindu family but never understood why she believed what her parents taught her and her three siblings about their faith. "I had always respected Hinduism because it respects other faiths and doesn't place restrictions on God," she said. "But I had taken it for granted growing up. When my family moved to Canada (when she was 13), I found there was no real happiness in the world, and it was decreasing in intensity with age. "If there's no happiness in the world, then where is it? It must only be through God." Veena Kaul, an auditor for the city of Huntsville, said Didi Ji "has the love of the Lord in her. She inspires you so much. "What I see in her is one who is loving, kind and thinks about the Lord all the time. Her vibrations make me cry." Kaul said.




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Indian Farmers Want Right to Grow BT Cotton
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:46:02 ( 607 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 25, 2002: Groups of cotton farmers from four states have threatened to disobey the government ban on the use of genetically modified BT Cotton seed, unless a final decision on commercialization of the gene-vitalized seed is arrived at soon. The announcement comes less than 24 hours before a crucial meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on March 26. Farmers have already started to use the BT cotton, which generates its own pesticide, but without the provisions used in the US to prevent the insects from rapidly developing resistance to the pesticide.




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Buddhist Monks Protest at Gaya Temple
Posted on 2002/3/24 22:49:02 ( 692 reads )


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GAYA, INDIA, March 25, 2002: About 200 Buddhist monks, led by Bhadant Surai Sasai, on Saturday encircled the Mahabodhi Temple and sat on an indefinite dharna, or protest, demanding the transfer of the temple management to an all-Buddhist committee and effective ban on the entry of people with shoes on in the temple. The Mahabodhi Temple is the most sacred Buddhist shrine where Buddha attained enlightenment about 2,500 years ago. It is also sacred to Hindus. The Buddhists lost control of the temple when it was destroyed by Muslims in the 13th century. The abandoned site was claimed by a Hindu swami, Mahant Ghamandi Giri, in 1590, and his successors have controlled the place since. The monks' move came as a surprise as the administrative officials were not aware of any such plan. At present the temple is managed by a nine-member committee of five Hindus and four Buddhists.




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Tamil Nadu CM Launches Feeding and Education Programs at Temples
Posted on 2002/3/24 22:48:02 ( 419 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, March 24, 2002: The chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, launched the "Anna Dhan" program in 63 temples across the state today. Under this program, voluntary contributions will be used to feed the poor. She inaugurated the program this afternoon by serving food to 200 people at the Kapaleeshwarar temple. A hundi, offering box, is kept in each temple chosen for the program. The offerings put into the hundi will form an endowment fund, the interest from which would be used to run the program. More than US$2,100 was collected at the Kapaleeshwarar temple on the first day. As part of the program, temples will hold spiritual and moral classes on weekends. The CM said that if Christians had Sunday schools in churches, why shouldn't Hindus have religious schools at temples?




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National Commission for Minorities Requests Mosque Rebuilding
Posted on 2002/3/24 22:47:02 ( 655 reads )


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AHMEDABAD,INDIA, March 17, 2002: After meeting with Justice Mohammad Shamim on a recent visit to the state of Gujarat, the National Commission for Minorities was given assurance that the state government will rebuild mosques and dargahs (Sufi shrines). With over 69 damaged sites listed by the Gujarat Chand committee, the project could be a major one. A 250-year-old mosque, the Muhafiz Khan Masjid in Ahmedabad, which was protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, suffered extensive damage. This is only one religious site. Fifteen sites were either totally demolished or badly damaged by fire. An additional ten have been converted into Hindu temples.




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India's National Human Rights Commission Investigates Gujarat Riots
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:49:02 ( 653 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, March 24, 2002: An outpouring of emotions greeted the National Human Rights Commission team that visited the state three weeks after the communal violence began. While a jittery officialdom tried to explain to the NHRC that it did all it could to contain the riots, the victims of the riots narrated quite another story -- that of collusion among the political leadership, the rioters and the police. Led by retired chief justice of Supreme Court J S Verma, the commission's secretary general PC Sen and special rapporteur Chaman Lal held extensive talks with top government officials. "The message was conveyed very clearly. Senior bureaucrats and police officials were asked as to what they were doing during the riots, what steps and measures they took to control the situation, whose failure it was, what was the state of alertness and whose responsibility it was," an official said on terms of anonymity. The commission also met the women victims subjugated to sexual abuse and rape. Representations were then made by the survivors who lost their family members and households.




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Hindu Human Rights Group Gets BBC to Change
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:48:02 ( 676 reads )


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HATFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM, March 24, 2002: Mahendra Joshi of the human rights organization, "Cause We Care," reports that they have successfully gotten the BBC to replace the word "militant" with the word "activist" when describing the Hindus attacked on the train in Godhra. At first, the BBC said, "Hundreds of people have died in India in the past two weeks after Muslim activists attacked a train carrying Hindu militants back from Ayodhya." Many other reports used the term "militant Hindus" when describing the Hindus killed, who were almost all women and children. Cause We Care lodged an official complaint with the BBC, backed by hundreds of e-mails from supporters. They received a reply from the BBC Newsonline stating, "We recognize that the use of the words referred to in your e-mail was not appropriate. Accordingly, we have changed the sentence concerned." Since then the BBC has been using "Hindu activists" in their reports on the train attack. The details are available at "source" above. They are next approaching the New York Times on the same issue.




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Fiji Bans Corporal Punishment in Schools
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:47:02 ( 674 reads )


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SUVA, FIJI, March 22, 2002: Fiji's High Court has banned corporal punishment, saying it's a breach of their constitution. In a landmark ruling, judge Jayant Prekash said the provisions of corporal punishment in the criminal procedure code and in the Ministry of Education guidelines contravene the constitution. The ruling follows a submission from the Human Rights Commission challenging the handing out of corporal punishment.




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Sudarshan Kriya Can Help Treat Depression
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:46:02 ( 1035 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 21, 2002: Researchers at the premier mental health institution, The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore, say that yogic breathing exercises, such as Sudarshan Kriya, has been found to achieve results as good as the best drugs in treating depression patients and alcoholics. Presenting the results at a recently concluded international symposium, professor of psychiatry, B.N. Gangadhar said the results of this exercise compare favorably with Imipramine, an established anti-depressant drug. Sudarshan Kriya is part of the stress management package offered by the Art of Living Foundation of Shri Ravi Shankar. Another researcher at this institute, Dr A Vedamurthachar, found this exercise proving effective at the de-addiction unit as well. The 30 alcoholics in the study were found to have reduced levels of depression and anxiety, he said.




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Mata Amritanandamayi Visit Malaysia
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:45:02 ( 688 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 23, 2002: Hindu spiritual guru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi will be making her first visit to Malaysia early next week. Ammah, as she is popularly known, is committed to demonstrating love and compassion for the poor and teaches that spirituality is the science and art of harmonious living. She is reported to have hugged over 20 million people worldwide since 1975 and has established orphanages for 600 children, a hospice centre, a home for battered women, a hospital providing free treatment for the poor and 19 schools and colleges. It is said that when Ammah embraces someone, it is a process of purification and inner healing. Ammah, who is from Kerala, India, served as one of the three Hindu "presidents," or principle representatives, of the Centenary Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993 and was a speaker at the United Nations Millenium Peace Summit in August, 2000. Amma will offer darshan (blessings) via her hugs and will hold a spiritual discourse and meditation at Dewan Wawasan, Level 4 Menara PGRM, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, No 8 Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur from 7.30 pm onwards on Monday. For details, contact Murali at 012-207 0790 or Siva at 012-205 0760.




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US Faces Criticism Over Schoolbooks Given to Afghans
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:44:02 ( 608 reads )


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AFGHANISTAN, March 24, 2002: After the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollar to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation. The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system's core curriculum. As Afghan schools reopen today, the United States is back in the business of providing schoolbooks, wrestling with the unintended consequences of its successful strategy of stirring Islamic fervor to fight communism. What seemed like a good idea in the context of the Cold War is being criticized by humanitarian workers. The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books "are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy." Others challenge the government's right to promote any religion in any circumstance. The issue of textbook content reflects growing concern among U.S. policymakers about school teachings in some Muslim countries in which Islamic militancy and anti-Americanism are on the rise.




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Trinidad Considers Cultural Center in India
Posted on 2002/3/22 22:49:02 ( 657 reads )


Source: Paras Ramoutar





TRINIDAD, March 23, 2002: During the colonial days, thousands of Hindus were transported to various parts of the world by the British, as Indentured laborers or "Girmitia" or "Jahaji" people. The countries included Mauritius, South Africa, Fiji and Trinidad. The majority of the people who were taken to the other shores were from Utter Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Tamilnadu. One of the great sons of India, Siewdass Sadhu, was a great saintly person from the Girmitia population in Trinidad. The colonial masters in those days demolished a mandir built on their lands by Siewdass Sadhu. He was jailed and fined a hefty sum of money. Determined to carry on his devotion, Siewdass ji declared that since he was not allowed to build his temple on the mainland, then he would build it in the sea. Single-handedly he proceeded with the construction, transporting stones on his bicycle until he had built a small temple for our Hindu brethren. Now on the very site the Hindu community assisted by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, has built a beautiful temple to replace the one built by Siewdass ji which was damaged over time by the sea. It has become a pilgrimage centre for the Hindus. Unfortunately, very little is known about the sacrifice of our girmitia brothers and sisters and their glorious history of struggle in preserving their dharma and culture. For the Trinidadians Siewdass Sadhu has become the symbol of determination, sacrifice and devotion to the God. It is proposed that the year 2002, the centenary year of his birth, be declared as Siewdass Sadhu Centenary Year. A committee is being formed to spread information about the great contribution of Siewdass Sadhu and other great ancestors of the Girmitias, to build a fitting memorial for the sadhu and to develop a permanent center for Girmitia history in India itself. The center would serve to help Girmitias connect with their roots in India and even reunite with the descendants of their ancestors. For further information, write paras_ramoutar@yahoo.com.




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HSC Successful Retreat in Pittsburgh
Posted on 2002/3/22 22:48:02 ( 644 reads )


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PITTSBURGH, USA, March 21, 2002: From February 22 through 24, 2002, the University of Pittsburgh chapter of Hindu Students Council hosted the annual HSC Lower Midwest Regional Retreat. The Retreat was attended by 84 people representing seven regional schools: University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, University of Michigan, Purdue University, Carnegie Mellon University, West Virginia University and Thomas Jefferson College of Medicine. There were a variety of workshops, cultural and religious programs all geared toward strengthening Hindu unity. Hinduism 101: Dharma, Domestic Violence in Hindu Society, Kashmir is Bleeding, Modern Physics and Classical Hinduism and Freedom Fighter or Terrorist? were some of the workshops. Classical art forms were also performed in the workshops: Nadh Brahma: Indian Music and Spirituality and Kuchipudi Dancing. It is the goal of HSC to promote and foster a Hindu family.




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