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Rajasthan Seeks Sadhus' Help to Build University

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:47:02 ( 1021 reads )


JAIPUR, INDIA, May 9, 2003: Strapped for money, the Rajasthan Government approached the sadhus of the state to raise US$297,526.87 for a new university. "We have entered into an agreement with the sadhus of Triveni Ashram in Shahpura (near Jaipur) for collecting money for a new Sanskrit University," Deputy Chief Minister Kamla said. "According to the agreement, the sadhus, led by Mahant Narayan Das, would collect money and build a new complex for the university," the Deputy CM said. The project would be completed within two years. The sadhus aren't asking for much in return. "They have asked us to name the university after 16th century saint, Guru Ramananda. We will do this as soon as the new complex is handed over to us," Kamla said. The project is already on the roll. "The government has identified over 200 acres of land. And the Mahant and his followers have started pumping in the money," she said. HPI adds: The Sanskrit University project, financially supported by the sadhus, was recently launched by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

Medicine, Astrology and Vastu Complement Each Other

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:46:02 ( 1162 reads )


PATIALA, INDIA, May 17, 2003: What type of illnesses are you prone to? What will be the nature of the disease and its duration? How does one go about diagnosing a particular disease -- do we take into account physical symptoms only? "Some of these questions that have perturbed mankind for ages find ready answers in the science of astrology," says Dr. Dinesh Sharma. Sharma, recently awarded the Dhanwantri Award from the All-India Integrated Medical Association (AIIMA) of Punjab, teaches in Desh Bhagat Ayurvedic College and Hospital of Amloh (Mandi Gobindgarh). He is working towards the fusion of ayurveda, astrology and vastu for treatment of patients. These sciences complement each other and trace their roots to the Vedas.

Ammaji Encourages Women and Chastises Men

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:45:02 ( 1238 reads )


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, May 19, 2003: Excerpted from H.H. Mata Amritanandamayi Devi's speech at the Global Peace Initiative of Women Spiritual Leaders: "Captivity is in the mind. Look at the elephant, which can uproot huge trees with its trunk. When an elephant living in captivity is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a strong rope or a chain. Because it is the nature of elephants to roam free, the baby elephant instinctively tries to break free. But it isn't strong enough to do so. Realizing its efforts are useless, it finally gives up. When this elephant grows up, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It could then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn't make any attempt to break free. This is what is happening to women. Society does not allow women to rise. It has created a blockage, preventing this great strength from pouring forth. In a village there lived a deeply spiritual woman who found immense happiness in serving others. She was soon made a priest by the villagers. Since she was the first woman priest in the area, the male priests didn't like it at all. One day, all the priests were invited to a religious gathering at a place three hours away by boat. On boarding the boat, the priests discovered that the woman was also invited. The boat set off, but an hour later the motor died and the boat stopped. There was no petrol. Nobody knew what to do. At this point, the woman priest stood up and said, 'Don't worry, I'll go and fetch some fuel.' She stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water. The priests were astonished, but were quick to remark, 'Look at her! She doesn't even know how to swim!' This is the attitude of men in general. They are conditioned to belittle and condemn the achievements of women. Men treat women like potted plants, making it impossible for them to grow to their full potential. In ancient India, the Sanskrit word a husband used to address his wife were patni (the one who leads the husband through life); dharmapatni (the one who guides her husband on the path of dharma or righteousness and responsibility); and sahadharmacharini (the one who moves together with her husband on the path of dharma). All these terms imply that traditionally women were meant to enjoy the same status as men in society, or perhaps even a higher one. In reality, all men are a part of women. Every child first lies in the mother's womb as a part of the woman's very being. Women are essentially mothers, the creators of life. Is God a man or a woman? The answer to that question is that God is neither male nor female. God is "That." But if you insist on God having a gender, then God is more female than male because the masculine is always contained within the feminine. Masculine energy is static. A man's mind easily becomes obsessed with his thoughts and actions. The mind and intellect of a man usually get struck in the work that he does, and because of this, most men cannot separate their professional life from the family life. Feminine energy, on the other hand, is fluid like a river. That's why each woman has a dharma towards the world and to herself. Along with men, she should shoulder equal responsibility in the growth and development of society."

Sadhus Accused of Wasting Money by Refusing to Change Kumbha Mela Route

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:44:02 ( 967 reads )


NASHIK, INDIA, May 14, 2003: The Kumbha Mela is scheduled to begin July 30, 2003, and about 250,000 sadhus and 700,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Nashik and Trimbakeshwar for the rituals till August, 2004. A new route constructed for the sadhus (without their consultation) for their holy baths during the forthcoming Kumbha Mela has been declared unusable as all the sadhus have refused to use it. At a meeting of officials and sadhus, the Mahants (head priests) of various akharas (monastic orders) said they would stick to the old route from the Sadhu Gram to the Ramkund at Godavari river for a holy dip during the Kumbha Mela. They said they would not use the new route which involved a detour of about half a kilometer and has a crematorium (very inauspicious) on the way. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde yesterday mooted a proposal of reserving land for the sadhus who visit Nashik during the Kumbha Mela. After a meeting with officials to review preparations, Shinde said encroachments near Panchavati was a recurring problem and suggested that the land on which the Sadhu Gram had been created be reserved permanently for sadhus. He said the municipal corporation should ensure that the land is kept free from encroachments.

An Argument For Nonviolence in a Time of Preemptive Warfare

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:43:02 ( 990 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A., May 11, 2003: In a review of Jonathan Schell's new book, "The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People," Curiel says, "It's clear that the peace movement in the United States and abroad succeeded on a basic level: They gave voice to an ideology that -- in the long run -- may be more powerful than B-52 bombers and Pentagon blueprints." As Schell carefully documents in this book (which took 12 years to research and write), nonviolent resistance always sows the seeds of positive change, eventually creating openings that may not be apparent in the fury and emotion of the moment. Mohandas Gandhi's attempts in the early 1900s to win rights for Indians in South Africa paved the way for his revolutionary nonviolence movement that crested with India's independence from Britain in 1947. President Woodrow Wilson's failed effort to create a League of Nations in 1917 led, years later, to the United Nations. Schell cites a long list of such examples, but he also examines the apparent successes of war -- especially in the 20th century, when both world wars set new standards of military possibilities. For the full insightful review, click on "source" above.

1796 Treaty States United States Government not Based Upon a Specific Religious Foundation

Posted on 2003/5/19 9:42:02 ( 1115 reads )


KAUAI, U.S.A., May 19, 2003: Yesterday's HPI included a story about America's alleged Christian, Judiac-Christian or Judiac-Christian-Islamic cultures, depending on one's point of view. Some research uncovered what are generally called The Barbary Treaties, a number of past legal agreements between the United States and Tripoly (North African coastal area) intending to protect American ships. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and Tripoly was ratified by the U.S. Senate June 10, 1797, during the Presidency of John Quincy Adams. While the language may be antiquated, the intent is clear as Article 11 states, "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims), and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Golfer Vijay Singh's Remark Invites Criticism on India

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:49:02 ( 1284 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 16, 2003: India is having to bare the brunt for golfer Vijay Singh's unpopular stand on a woman golfer joining the men's tour. Singh, a Fijian of Indian ancestry, has briefly become one of the American sporting world's targets, right up there with the Augusta National for refusing women members, because of his opposition to top female golfer Annika Sorenstam playing the men's circuit for one match. Some sports journalists are attributing Singh's stand to his Indian heritage. "Singh isn't a racist; he's a sexist. And he comes by it naturally. His birth certificate might say Fiji, but Singh is Indian by heritage. Nothing against India or Hinduism, but it's certainly fair to say that culture hasn't been at the fore when it comes to gender equity," Washington Times sportswriter Barker Davis wrote. USA Today columnist Jon Saraceno was even harsher. "What we also have is a clash of cultures and social dogmas," he began. "Sorenstam is from Sweden, a liberal, open society. She's probably wondering what the fuss is about. I doubt she possesses the same traditional male-female notions of Singh, born in Fiji to Indian parents. I don't know how much Singh was influenced by his ancestry, if at all, but this much I do know," Saraceno continued, "The institutionalized subordination, exploitation and brutalization of women remains ingrained in that society. 'Bride burning' still occurs. From 1999-2001, a total of 6,347 Indian women were murdered by fire, according to Indian government statistics." Golfers of other ethnic backgrounds have also criticized her participation, with Singh singled out for special condemnation. Following his controversial interview, Singh has clarified that he was opposed to Sorenstam playing with men purely on sporting grounds, because the game takes greater upper body strength and Sorenstam would fare poorly among men, and that his comments came out "sounding wrong."

Has the United States Become Judeo-Christian-Islamic?

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:48:02 ( 1083 reads )

Religion News Service

UNITED STATES, May 17, 2003: Leading Muslim organizations say it's time for Americans to stop using the phrase "Judeo-Christian" when describing the values and character that define the United States. Better choices, they say, are "Judeo-Christian-Islamic" or "Abrahamic," referring to Abraham, the patriarch held in common by the monotheistic big three religions. The new language should be used "in all venues where we normally talk about Judeo-Christian values, starting with the media, academia, statements by politicians and comments made in churches, synagogues and other places," said Agha Saeed, founder and chairman of the American Muslim Alliance, a political group headquartered in Fremont, Calif. According to a 1984 scholarly article by religion writer Mark Silk, "Judeo-Christian" wasn't used to refer to a common American outlook of values and beliefs until World War II, when the supposedly Christian Nazis and their death camps made future references to "our Christian civilization" sound ominously exclusive. "'Judeo-Christian,' which in 1952 looked like an incredibly inclusive term, doesn't look very inclusive now," said Silk, now director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, in Hartford. Conn., in an interview. "So we probably need a new term." Osama Siblani, an influential voice among American Muslims and publisher of the Arab-American News in Dearborn, Mich., takes an even broader view. "I believe we should call this the United States of America, made up of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Jews and others," said Siblani. "This stuff about language has to stop. We are all just Americans."

HPI adds: America's founding fathers consciously avoided creating a "Christian nation." Thomas Jefferson, author of the declaration of Independence, authored in 1786 the "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom," which set strong precedent for the standing of religion in the new country. He wrote that during a debate to adopt the bill, "An amendment [which proposed to insert] the words, 'Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion,' [was rejected] by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindoo and the infidel [any non-Christian] of every denomination."

U.S. Conference Planned on the Impact of Swami Vivekananda in the West

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:47:02 ( 986 reads )


MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A., May 17, 2003: The Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, is holding a two-day conference on June 28 and 29, 2003, on the "Impact of Swami Vivekananda's Voyage to the West" at the UMD campus. This unique event will bring together academicians, monks of the Ramakrishna order, students, and the general public to discuss Swami Vivekananda's impact on the West along with the relevance of his teachings today and in the future. For additional information on the conference, kindly contact "source" above.

The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:46:02 ( 1007 reads )


OHIO, U.S.A., May 18, 2003: From July 6 to September 14, 2003, The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) will be the final venue of "The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India," which first opened at the Sackler in Washington, DC. These rarely seen 9th to 13th century temple bronzes were drawn from public and private collections in the United States and Europe for exhibition in the United States. Another show entitled "Indian Temples: Masumi Hayashi Photographs" will also be on view at the museum. Presently the website does not have photos of the Chola bronzes, however, readers may contact the museum via their site for additional information.

Hindu Youth Contributors Sought for Hinduism Today Article

Posted on 2003/5/18 9:45:02 ( 1022 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, USA, May 18, 2003: Hinduism Today magazine is planning an article in its next issue on the subject, "Why I am a vegetarian." Hindu youth (age 24 and below) are invited to send a 300- to 500-word essay on the subject. The essay should cover the reasons why you personally chose to remain a vegetarian if so raised (or become one if not), how you have dealt with peer pressure to change, the value of more people becoming vegetarians and/or any other aspect of vegetarianism which you would like to share. Those selected will be published in edited form in an article slated for the October/November/December issue. Deadline is June 15. Please include the essay, a three-line biodata on yourself and a high-resolution passport style photo (300 dpi, at least 2 by 3 inches) and e-mail to "source" above.

U.S. Home to 200,000 People of Indian-Origin Millionaires

Posted on 2003/5/14 9:49:02 ( 1118 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A., May 15, 2003: The image of the wealthy Non-Resident India (NRI) from America is poised to get a puffy boost following estimates from the investment firm Merrill Lynch that there are 200,000 millionaires of Indian origin in the United States alone. That may seem like a staggering count because out of their total population of 1.8 million, it would mean one in every nine Indians in the US is a millionaire. Company executives clarified in an interview that the count includes not just NRIs but all people of Indian-origin; the estimate was made at the height of the 2000 technology bubble (an important and likely distorting factor) and the definition of a millionaire is broad enough to include all assets including home ownership. Still, the 200,000 Indian-origin "Merrill Millionaires," along with their less wealthy NRIs, carry the median American NRI income to over US$60,000 (compared to the national average of $38,885), making it the wealthiest immigrant group in the United States, say Merrill Lynch executives. The United States has an estimated 2.1 million millionaires, which is less than one percent of its population (about 280 million) compared to the nearly 10 per cent for the Indian-Americans. If the definition of Indian-Americans is expanded to cover all people of Indian origin, it would still suggest a higher percentage of millionaires among the particular ethnic group.

Worshipping at the Altar of Yoda

Posted on 2003/5/14 9:48:02 ( 1121 reads )

Religion News Service

OTTAWA, CANADA, May 14, 2003: May the force be with you. An astonishing 20,000 Canadians declared themselves followers of the religion of Jedi, the guardians of peace and justice in the "Star Wars" movies, Statistics Canada reported May 13 in its final installment of data culled from the 2001 census. Observers agree that declaring Jedi as a faith was a way of many Canadians to thumb their nose at what they felt was an intrusive or inappropriate question. "My religion is my issue, not the government's," said Denis Dion, a 44-year-old produce manager from just outside Vancouver who circulated an e-mail urging anyone who wanted to have fun with Canada's census to identify his or her religion as Jedi. Canadian Press reports the Jedi gag is the latest in a global census trend that has left some statisticians red-faced as the number of Jedis has eclipsed some centuries-old religions. In the United Kingdom, for example, there are more Jedis than Jews. Nearly 400,000 people identified themselves as Jedi in the 2001 census. Only 260,000 said they were Jewish. Just last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that more than 70,000 people named Jedi as their faith.

Lutheran Panel Reinstates Pastor After Post-9/11 Interfaith Service

Posted on 2003/5/14 9:47:02 ( 1000 reads )


NEW YORK, U.S.A.,May 13, 2003: A Lutheran pastor who was suspended by his church for praying publicly at Yankee Stadium with clergymen of other faiths, including a Hindu priest, after the September 2001 terrorist attacks has been reinstated by a church panel. In an order dated April 10 and released yesterday, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's dispute resolution panel cleared the Rev. David H. Benke, the New York leader for the conservative Protestant denomination. Pastor Benke holds a position that is the Lutheran equivalent of bishop, and his suspension followed his appearance at an interfaith service 12 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with a Muslim imam, a rabbi, Cardinal Edward M. Egan, and Sikh and Hindu holy men. After the televised event, 18 pastors and three congregations filed complaints. "To participate with pagans in an interfaith service and, additionally, to give the impression that there might be more than one God, is an extremely serious offense," the Rev. Wallace Schulz, second vice president of the Missouri Synod, said when Pastor Benke was suspended last June.

In his appearance at Yankee Stadium, Pastor Benke and the other clergymen shared the stage with Oprah Winfrey, Bette Midler and several elected officials. Pastor Benke's participation had been approved by the Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, national president of the 2.6 million member Missouri Synod, based in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood. During the service, Pastor Benke addressed his "brothers and sisters," saying, "The strength we have is the power of love. Take the hand of the one next to you now and join me in prayer on this field of dreams turned into God's house of prayer," he said. To his credit, Pastor Benke has refused to apologize for his participation in the Yankee Stadium service.

Australian Hindus Planning Cultural Center

Posted on 2003/5/13 9:49:02 ( 1049 reads )

Blacktown Advocate (Australia)

MARSDEN PARK, AUSTRALIA, May 7, 2003: The Australian Hindu Multicultural Association is planning to build a cultural center at Marsden Park for its 80 members. The plan includes an L-shaped building large enough for between 200 and 300 people and parking for up to 60 cars. It will be funded by donations from members and the community. "We have been working towards this since 1993," he said. "We want to share our culture and traditions with others in the community." Currently, the group stages cultural festivals in the backyards of its members because it lacks a permanent home. Hindi language classes for 50 students are held at a school on Sundays.

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