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Bhutan, Land of the "Gross National Happiness" Indicator

Posted on 2002/10/31 8:49:02 ( 872 reads )


BHUTAN, October 28,2002: Nestled in the mighty Himalayas, Bhutan, The Land Of Thunder Dragon, is the last remaining Himalayan kingdom -- an oasis of innocence in our world, where compassion and wisdom are the benchmark against which all things are measured.Bhutan is the only place in the world where the official government policy is Gross National Happiness (GNH). Hard to believe, but true. The aspiration towards enlightenment, and belief in the innate goodness of human beings, is widely shared by the people of Bhutan, the majority of whom practice Mahayana Buddhism. In spite of life's suffering and hardships, the Bhutanese devotion to the teachings of loving-kindness remains ever present. In this 21st century, many parts of Bhutan lack technology and electricity and there are many villages that are still without schools. AMICUS, "friend" in Latin, hopes to be one of many bridges linking Bhutan with the world at large in a way that benefits everyone. Schools, community centers, libraries, nunneries are being build while educational scholarships and preservation of Bhutan's historic and cultural monuments are all made possible. Amicus foundation ("source" above) is also playing a part to maintain the profound and beautiful qualities of Bhutanese culture, keeping the villages in tact with its integrity and spiritual values and helping Bhutan to make a smooth transition into the modern world while retaining its spiritual and cultural heritage.

Supreme Court: Minority-run Religious Institutions in India Subject to Government Oversight if Aided with Government Funds

Posted on 2002/10/31 8:48:02 ( 883 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 31, 2002: In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the minority community (meaning Christians and Muslims) had an unfettered right to establish and administer educational institutions based on religion but if they received aid from the state they would be subject to government rules and regulations. One regulation is that any such institution accepting government funds cannot deny admission to students from other communities on the basis of religion, caste, race or language. The court also upheld the government's right to interfere in the management of a minority institution if the administration failed to be "transparent" or if merit was not given due primacy in the admission of students. The Supreme Court, while upholding the minority community's right to establish and administer educational institutions, said the same right was available to the majority community. Answering the question on the meaning of "minority," it said the states had been reorganized on the basis of language and hence the question of religious and linguistic minority had to be considered on state-wise basis. The court held that even an unaided minority-run school could be required to admit a certain percentage of students from other communities, the percentage being set by the local state government for the institution. HPI adds: This ruling does not impact the system in India that Hindu-run educational institutions aided by the government are not allowed to teach Hindu religion, while minority-run schools aided by the government are allowed to teach their religion.

Hundreds Embrace Buddhism in Ahmedabad

Posted on 2002/10/31 8:47:02 ( 954 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, October 31, 2002: Nearly a thousand Dalits ("untouchables") in Ahmedabad reportedly embraced Buddhism on Sunday while followers of Babasaheb Ambedkar chanted during the ceremony. A delegation of 20 monks and nuns from Bodh Gaya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam initiated them into the religion. Bhante Mahanama from Bodh Gaya, presided over the ceremony. He claimed that in all, over 1,000 persons, mainly Dalits, embraced Buddhism during their three-day tour. Later reports disputed that number. When asked as to how did they convince people to change their religion, he said, "We did not ask them to accept Buddhism. They had interest in Buddhism and they wanted to get converted. So we gave them diksha, initiation. It was Ambedkar (Dalit leader who wrote India's constitution and converted to Buddhism) who had shown them the way." Ahmedabad-based Bhante Harshabodhi coordinated the program that has been called the biggest-ever conversion program in the city.

Muslims Unveil Media Guide

Posted on 2002/10/31 8:46:02 ( 901 reads )


OTTAWA, CANADA, October 31, 2002: The Canadian office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has released a guide on Islam for journalists, according to this report from Religion News Service. "A Journalist's Guide to Islam," heralded as the first of its kind, is intended to provide "ready and accurate information in areas that media professionals might encounter during the course of preparing a story about Islam and Muslims," the organization says. Hindus can request a copy of it by e-mailing "source" above. It could serve as an outline for a similar media guide about Hinduism. The guide's sections include, Some Quick Facts About Islam, Practical Tips for Reporting on Islam, The World of Islam, History, Five Pillars of Faith, Branches, Celebrations, etc., a list of media contacts across Canada and a glossary of terms.

Hindus Protest Proposed Regulations on Fireworks in South Africa

Posted on 2002/10/30 8:49:02 ( 886 reads )


DURBAN SOUTH AFRICA, October 28,2002: South Africa's National Assembly's Safety and Security Portfolio Committee agreed last week to recommend the Explosives Bill on November 5, a day after Deepavali. The bill, if passed, will prohibit the use of fireworks without a permit. The controversy erupted at a time when a massive firework display was held by Hindus on Durban's beach front as part of the Deepavali celebrations. According to the bill, failing to obtain a permit for such displays could lead to fines or jail terms of up to 25 years. Terming the bill "unacceptable," the president of South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said it would be contested in the Constitutional Court if the concerns of the community were not taken into account. The chairman of the Portfolio Committee, Mluleki George, was quoted by the Independent daily today as saying that no input from the Hindu community had been made during the compulsory public comment period. Some politicians of Indian origin said they would make representations to the Committee to amend the Bill.

Houston Hindus Celebrate Navaratri

Posted on 2002/10/30 8:48:02 ( 984 reads )

Source: The Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON, TEXAS, October 19, 2002: The festival of Navaratri, the nine-night Hindu festival honoring three Goddesses is celebrated in grand style by South Indian Hindus now living in Texas. Born in Chennai, southern India, where Navarathri is one of the major religious celebrations, Ranjana Narasiman says, "Sometimes I feel I'm living two cultural lives, and 24 hours is not enough for that." This comment was made after Ranjana had attended four Navaratri parties and hosted 230 guests in her northwest Houston home. Navaratri began this year on October 6 and is a festive prelude leading up to Deepavali, the festival of lights. It is often celebrated with dances and in Houston over 4,000 Hindus gathered at Reliant Arena for the traditional garba dance. The article says, "In south India, Navaratri is traditionally celebrated mostly by women. Customs include giving small gifts as guests depart and offering a tray of sandalwood paste to perfume a wrist and red turmeric to place on a woman's forehead." In Houston, men have joined the festivities. Narasiman, a high school physics teacher says, "She believes that those who grow up in a home that preserves Hindu traditions often carry them on once they are grown -- and that makes it worth it for her and her friends."

Ayurveda Newsletter Available Online

Posted on 2002/10/30 8:47:02 ( 976 reads )


USA, October 1, 2002: Produced every two weeks and available for free subscription at "source," this newsletter focuses on "Improving and popularizing Ayurveda and all the holistic systems of medicine." This October 1 edition features an article written by Dr. Vijay Shekhar Annambhotla on the concept of immunity in Ayurveda. Doctor Annambhotla categorizes immunity into three types: Sahaja or congenital and natural; Kalaja or the time of day, season and one's age; and Yuktikruta or acquired. Quoting the article, "Yuktikruta Bala represents acquired immunity in which disease can be defended against through Ayurveda. Ayurveda focuses on three plans for enhancing immunity."

New York's "Bhajan Belt"

Posted on 2002/10/30 8:46:02 ( 972 reads )


WOODSTOCK, NEW YORK, October 18, 2002: Spray-painted on a rock face along Route 28 in the Catskill Mountains is the Hindu sign for Om. It is a subtle suggestion of the energy that vibrates throughout the region, according to this recent article. Some call it the bhajan belt, applying a word derived from Sanskrit for devotional song to the area. The mid-Hudson valley area is home (or second home) to many influential stars of the new New Age. The solitude and energy of the area has attracted many East-leaning academics, musicians and authors who call the bhajan belt home. Robert A. F. Thurman, a Buddhist author and scholar, has had a home in Woodstock for close to 30 years; Sharon Gannon and David Life, the founders of the Jivamukti Yoga Center in Manhattan, purchased a place in Woodstock a few years ago. Sting, one of the early celebrity yogis, has a place in the mid-Hudson Valley, as do a number of Hindu musicians, including the chanter Krishna Das and Baghavan Das. Shyam Dass, a Sanskrit translator, musician and practitioner of bhakti yoga divides his time between northern India and Saugerties, near Woodstock. The bhajan belt is centered around Woodstock, an island of hippie culture in rural Ulster county. Shyam Dass has a theory about why the belt wraps around this town. Along with "the quality of the land," he said, "there's a wide breadth of acceptability for all types of people trying to understand the deeper elements of existence." The Catskills are filled with institutes, ashrams and retreat centers, among them the Sivananda Yoga ranch, in Woodbourne; the Shree Muktananda Ashram in South Fallsburg; the Karma Triyana Dharma Chakra center in Woodstock; a Greek Orthodox monastery; and a number of Buddhist monasteries.

Mathematical Genius of Ancient India

Posted on 2002/10/27 8:49:02 ( 903 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, October 27, 2002: Mathematics in its early stages developed mainly along two broad overlapping traditions, geometric/arithmetic and algebra. Among the Pre-Greek civilizations, it is in India that we see a strong emphasis on both these great streams of mathematics. The oldest known mathematics texts in existence are the Sulba Sutras of Baudhayana, Apastamba and Katyana, which form part of the literature of the sutra period of later Vedic age. It is estimated to have been composed around 800 bce but the mathematical knowledge recorded in these sutras is much more ancient. Seidenberg, an eminent algebraist and historian of mathematics, traced the origin of the sophisticated mathematics to the originators of the Rig Vedic rituals in the paper available at "source." In the Sulba sutras, an explicit statement of the Pythagorean Theorem and its applications in various geometric constructions is recorded. Seidenberg discovered that the Pythagorean theorem described in the sutra has depth in both the numerical and the geometrical aspect, unlike the other ancient civilizations. The priceless gift from India to the world is the none other than the decimal system. This profound anonymous Indian innovation is unsurpassed for sheer brilliance of abstract thought and utility as a practical invention.

Prime Minister Tony Blair Honors Deepavali

Posted on 2002/10/27 8:48:02 ( 854 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, October 25, 2002: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Deepavali, celebrated by Hindus worldwide, contains a message for "all of us, whatever our faith." Stressing that "Britain's diversity of backgrounds and experiences has brought tremendous strengths and benefits to the society," the Prime Minister said festivals like Deepavali "play an important role in helping us to appreciate and celebrate this diversity."

Devotees Worship Goddess Cauvery

Posted on 2002/10/27 8:47:02 ( 973 reads )

Source: The Hindu

TALACAUVERY, INDIA, October 18, 2002: Thousands of devotees of the Goddess Cauvery were able to witness the annual event where the Goddess emerges from a tiny pond in the form of a holy spring. Priests chanted Vedic hymns during the ceremony called "teerthodbhava" that ended with many pilgrims jumping into the tank for ablution. In preparation for the sacred event, devotees shave their heads, chant the Goddess's name, and bathe in the sangam, the confluence of the rivers Cauvery, Kanike and Sujyoti.

Religious Images Keep Orissa's Walls Clean

Posted on 2002/10/26 8:49:02 ( 825 reads )


ORISSA, INDIA, October 21, 2002: One finds images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses decorating walls of government offices in Orissa nowadays. One also finds those walls cleaner than before. The Orissa government is making use of religious sentiments to keep people, especially those who chew paan, from spitting on walls. Former Works Secretary and Chief Engineer, N. N. Das, reportedly came up with the idea about a year ago. It was first implemented at Nirman Sauda, the Public Works Department building in Bhubaneswar, some months ago. Images of Ganesha and Krishna were painted on freshly whitewashed walls. Das recalls how "the unhygienic atmosphere turned holy." People, he said, actually started worshipping the images every morning. Works department secretary, Mr. Rao, said there is no official circular, but government offices are now using religious images to keep their walls clean.

Outstanding Books Now Available Online

Posted on 2002/10/26 8:48:02 ( 865 reads )


INDIA, October 24, 2002: Some thought provoking and articulate books by modern Hindu thinkers are now available in complete form online. Sita Ram Goel's Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders, Hindu Society Under Siege, Muslim Separatism, and The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India can be found there. Books by David Frawley, Koenraad Elst and Shrikant Talageri and others, as well as articles by Swami Vivekananda on the Aryan Invasion Theory, and Sir Jadunath Sircar on The Condition of Hindus under Muslim Rule in India Part I, II, and III are available. Readers can read these valuable Hindu resources on-line at "source" above.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Defends BBC Show

Posted on 2002/10/26 8:47:02 ( 1162 reads )


TIRUPATI, INDIA, October 23, 2002: The controversial BBC News feature on the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), shown under its "Business Bizarre" slot, called "The Business of Faith," was shown today to the local media by the TTD's public relations department in a bid to set at rest the controversy it has caused. The July 9 telecast caused a general outcry against the 30-minute feature being that it was in violation of a rule not to allow photography or videography inside the temple beyond the "dhwajasthambham" point. The areas pointed out by the critics were the "potu" where the laddus are prepared and "parakamani" where thousands of dollars in cash and valuables given in the temple hundi are counted and sorted. The TTD today made an attempt to defend the feature and denied that it allowed the BBC to shoot inside the restricted areas. A top TTD official told the local media that the hundi collection which was shown was only a reproduction from the TTD's own CC-TV clippings. Viewers also objected to the portrayal of the temple as a "money making" operation.

Tihar Inmates Join Rest of North India and Celebrate Karva Chauth

Posted on 2002/10/26 8:46:02 ( 952 reads )


NEW DELHI, October 25, 2002: The beauty parlor at Tihar Jail was the scene of unusual rush this week. The effort put in by the parlor staff was evident in Jail No. 6 where the women inmates looked strikingly beautiful this Karva Chauth (Husband's Day). Dressed in their best saris, new back clips and hair specially set for the occasion, they performed the rituals of the festival. "Preparations for Karva Chauth have been going on for weeks in the jail," said Superintendent Sunita Sabharwal. "Most inmates have kept a fast today. Much of the stock of puja items and make-up accessories stored in the canteen has been sold out," Sabharwal said. The jail authorities also got the inmates a cable TV connection as a Karva Chauth gift. As a concession, the fasting women were granted a leave from their work. Since the women inmates are locked up at 6:30 p.m., the moon ritual is done by the head matron, who tells them when the moon rises -- the moment at which they may break their fast. Also, for the first time, this North Indian festival where women worship their husbands will be a holiday in all-girls' schools run by the government of Delhi. Friday's holiday is for the benefit of women teachers, who make up almost the entire teaching staff in the girls' schools. Until last year, Karva Chauth used to be a restricted holiday on which most women teachers skipped work, but this year, the government decided to declare a holiday. Boys' and coeducational schools will, however, remain open.

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