Hindu Press International

Hindu Press International (HPI) is a daily summery of world news for Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Sign up to receive to HPI by email


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U.S. Supermarkets Announce Guidelines for the Humane Treatment of Animals


Posted on 2002/6/30 9:49:02 ( 836 reads )


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USA, June 28, 2002: The supermarket and fast-food industries unveiled their first comprehensive guidelines for the humane treatment of farm animals, recommending that farmers curtail such practices as starving hens to make them lay more eggs, housing pregnant pigs in crates so small they cannot fully lie down and slaughtering some animals before they are fully unconscious. The guidelines are voluntary and in some areas remain vague and contested by farm groups. But they mark a new recognition that farm animal welfare is a growing concern to many American consumers. "This is the first time that the retail industry has clearly said the issue of farm animal welfare is important to it, and that it wants to make sure these issues get serious attention," said Karen Brown, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents most of the nation's supermarket owners. The recommendations were endorsed by seven leading animal welfare specialists who had been brought in by the trade associations to review the guidelines used by the pork, egg, chicken, dairy and beef industries for the treatment of farm animals. "It is historic that the entire grocery and chain restaurant industries have agreed that there are practices that are standard in the meat industry, yet clearly abusive of animals," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) director of vegan outreach. He said that the country needs animal welfare legislation, like some of the stringent laws enacted in Europe, but that the food industry is resisting strenuously.






Re-Exporting Hinduism to India


Posted on 2002/6/30 9:48:02 ( 841 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, June 30, 2002: Jay Lakhani of the Vivekananda Centre London writes to Hindu Press International that he has received this request from Dr. T. H. Chowdary, Information Technology Advisor for the Government of Andhra Pradesh (e-mail: thc@satyam.comIndia). "We are delighted that you are teaching Hinduism in London. You are doing a great job for Bharat and the world. Here in India in the name of 'secularism' teaching Mahabharata, Bhagavata or Ramayana is prohibited, not to talk of Hinduism. But Koran and Bible could be taught. We are de-Hinduizing Indians so that they are becoming prey to the proselytizers and also become resident-non-Indians. I will be grateful if you can send the syllabus that you have drawn up for the London schools where you are teaching Hinduism. A voluntary organization, Society for Peace and Integrated Rural Development (an NGO), is launching a movement to teach Indian culture, civilization and history and literature in colleges as an extra subject. We will be taking inspiration from you and shape the content from the syllabus you have brought. We would be also be grateful if you can write an article on the scheme of teaching Hinduism in the London Schools and other places in UK." Lakhani expressed surprise that Hindus in India would be appealing to Hindus in England for guidance on how to teach Hinduism.






Swami Pareshananaji Cancels Puerto Rico Visit


Posted on 2002/6/30 9:47:02 ( 867 reads )


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PUERTO RICO, June 30, 2002: The Vedanta Society of Puerto Rico informs HPI that the just announced visit of Swami Pareshanandaji, the director of Ramakrishna mission Ashram in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been canceled. For upcoming programs of the society, e-mail "source" above.






"One Nation, Under Vishnu?" -- an Editorial Commenting on the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance Decision


Posted on 2002/6/29 9:49:02 ( 846 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, USA, June 29, 2002: A well crafted editorial commentary by Mark Morford, SF Gate columnist has raised some interesting issues about the United States "Pledge of Allegiance" with it's suddenly controversial phrase "under God" and bipartisan opinion about prayer in schools. A judge just recently ruled the pledge was unconstitutional, because it violated the US constitution's separation of church and state. Everyone in the country from President Bush on down has commented on the decision. Morford's article says that maybe some agree with the President that America is Christian country and its "rights were derived from God." Maybe you think the current, hypocritical separation of church and state, with its sanctimonious mentions of a patriarchal Christian God everywhere, is the righteous path. But, America is also the most religiously diverse country in the world teeming with saris and yarmulkes and monk's robes and funky prayer beads and glorious ornate temples of every shape and size. There are more Muslims in the U.S. now, for example, than there are Jews or Episcopalians. America, spiritually speaking, is not what most people think it is. But nowhere is religious funk and spiritual diversity more prevalent and visible than in the classroom, which since the mid-'60s has seen an explosion of immigrant cultures and beliefs, a dazzling and unprecedented intermixing of faiths. Hence, he adds, it would seem to require negligible rationale or subtlety of mind to see that "under God" is really rather inane and exclusionary and insulting to a vast and increasing chunk of the soon-to-be-voting populace. For the editorial in it's entirety, click "source" above.






U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of School Vouchers


Posted on 2002/6/29 9:48:02 ( 815 reads )


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CLEVELAND, OHIO, June 27, 2002: In a landmark church-state case, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a controversial Cleveland program that allows parents to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to send their children to religious schools. If the parents do not want to send their child to public school, they are provided a "voucher" worth perhaps $2,500 which can be used to pay private school tuition instead. In the closely watched decision, the high court ruled 5-4 that the program does not violate the constitutional separation of church and state because parents have the option of choosing secular schools, as well as parochial schools. "The Ohio program is entirely neutral with respect to religion," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority. "It provides benefits directly to a wide spectrum of individuals, defined only by financial need and residence in a particular school district. It permits such individuals to exercise genuine choice among options public and private, secular and religious. The program is therefore a program of true private choice." In Cleveland, parents can choose a public magnet school or a community school, or use the voucher money for a private or parochial school. Currently, only Milwaukee and Cleveland offer parents vouchers, but Republican governors in several states have expressed interest in the idea. Rehnquist's opinion does not say a voucher program must be targeted at low-income children or limited in scope. The ruling appears to clear the way for statewide voucher programs that offer tuition subsidies to all families with school-children. The ruling is a victory for religious groups, who support voucher programs for their sectarian school systems. This decision clears the way for other innovative school choice programs. It appears that Hindu parents could send their children to Hindu schools -- if there were any. It may also make the creation of Hindu schools more possible.






Hindu Centre Singapore Announces Hinduism Classes


Posted on 2002/6/29 9:47:02 ( 891 reads )


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SINGAPORE, June 29, 2002: The Hindu Centre Singapore is pleased to announce that a third class will be commencing for the "Introduction to Hinduism" course for youths and adults. There will be one two-hour class each week for 14 weeks, commencing July 6. Students should be 17 years old and above. 120 pages of reading material will be provided. A certificate of completion will be issued to those with 80% attendance. For more information e-mail "source" above.






First Kataragama Pada Yatra Since 1983 in Sri Lanka


Posted on 2002/6/28 9:49:02 ( 894 reads )


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TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA, June 5, 2002: For the first time since 1983, pilgrims could undertake the arduous six-week pada yatra or foot pilgrimage to Kataragama, the ancient shrine to Lord Muruga. Sinhalese and foreign devotees as well as ardent Tamil devotees from Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya and Trincomalee reached the first leg in Trincomalee. Vallimalai Balananda Sadhu, bears the lance or Holy Vel, symbol of God Kataragama in this year's pada yatra. Sri Lanka's ongoing peace process has this year made it possible for devotees to walk to Kataragama from the traditional rendezvous point at Vattappalai (Mullaitivu district). Even after obtaining full clearance from the Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence, the pilgrims faced prolonged delays and questioning from LTTE officials at Puliyankulam and Kilinochi, interrogations by LTTE police inspectors at Vattappalai and further questioning by Sea Tiger cadres at Chemmalai. Both government and LTTE security officials alike strongly advise the public to avoid the broad landmine-strewn "no-man's land" separating the two sides. Their passage will take pilgrims via Pottuvil and Okanda through Yala National Park to reach the Kataragama Sacred City in time for the Esala Festival flag-hoisting on July 10. The Kataragama Pada Yatra, Sri Lanka's oldest surviving tradition of foot pilgrimage, went into abeyance in 1983 with the onset of ethnic conflict. It was revived in 1988 by the Kataragama Devotees Trust.






Teacher Enjoys Role as Missionary for Kathak


Posted on 2002/6/28 9:48:02 ( 825 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 21, 2002: Chitresh Das is renowned all over India for his mastery of kathak. In 1971, at 26, he arrived in the US on a Whitney Fellowship to teach kathak -- a northern India style of dance -- at the University of Maryland. Now 57, he runs six kathak dance schools in the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Berkeley. He also offers a two-credit course at San Francisco State, where he is a faculty member. Das' performance career took off in India when he accepted an invitation by musician Ravi Shankar to perform at a festival in Benares. Later, after finishing his fellowship at the University of Maryland, Das found another mentor in Ali Akbar Khan, a famous musician in India who started his own music college in San Rafael. Khan invited Das to start a dance program at his college in 1971, and Das migrated west. Das has performed all over the world. Recently, he received high honors from West Bengal government's State Academy for his teaching. "I'm like a missionary of kathak dance," said Das, who teaches about 200 students in the Bay Area. Kathak is among India's six major classical styles of dance. In its days of origin, kathak was used to narrate great Indian epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Das adheres to kathak's deep tradition but still strives to make it relevant to modern times.






Hindu Traditions in Thailand


Posted on 2002/6/28 9:47:02 ( 970 reads )


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CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, June 26, 2002: The successor to the present Rajaguru of the Royal Government of Thailand is all set to undergo training in different subjects such as purohitam, karmakanda, sastras, Sanskrit and Tamil at Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswamahavidyalaya at Enathur near Kanchipuram. The 12-year-old brahmin boy is currently on a visit to Chennai along with Pra Rajaguru Vamadevamuni, Chief of Royal Court Brahmanas, Royal Government of Thailand. Speaking at a reception organized by The Hindu Rakshana Samiti and Hindu Dharmaparipalana Sabha here Saturday, the Rajaguru recalled age-old cultural links between Thailand and India, in particular Tamilnadu. Referring to Ramayana, he said the epic had a tremendous impact on Thais as can be seen from a number of dramas on the Ramayana staged in the country. Expressing his concern over the decline in number of brahmins and Hindu rituals in the East Asian nation, Rajaguru Vamadevamuni said he had discussed the issue with the Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and also mooted training younger generation of brahmins in the state. On the relationship between Hindus and Buddhists-the predominant communities in Thailand, he said that despite being a Buddhist nation, the relationship between them could not be better and assured the gathering that he would do his best to foster cultural links between Thailand and India.






Swami Pareshananaji to Visit Puerto Rico


Posted on 2002/6/28 9:46:02 ( 1019 reads )


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PUERTO RICO, June 28, 2002: The Vedanta society of Puerto Rico is honored to welcome Swami Pareshanandaji, the director of Ramakrishna mission Ashram in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on his third visit to Puerto Rico. He will stay in Puerto Rico from July 2 to July 12, 2002. He will give a formal lecture on Meditation and Spiritual life in San Juan on the evening of July 3. Swamiji will give a retreat in San Juan on July 4 for the 100th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda leaving his physical body. He will give a religious discourse on July 5 at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. For more information please e-mail "source" above. Swami Pareshananda was born in the District of Nadia in Bengal, India. He entered the order in 1967 and took his final monastic vows in 1976 from the then president of the order Swami Vireshwaranandaji. He then held the strategic responsibilities throughout the mission centers in India until in 1988 when he is assigned as director of the Ramakrishna Ashram in Buenos Aires. Swami Pareshananda, who speaks fluent Spanish, has developed a work of both continuing and also expanding Vedanta in Latin America. He travels throughout Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and other countries) directing groups as well as giving personal spiritual instructions.






Vedic Literature and the Gulf of Cambay Discovery


Posted on 2002/6/27 9:49:02 ( 923 reads )


Source: The Hindu





CHENNAI, INDIA, June 19, 2002: The recent find of a submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay, off the state of Gujarat, perhaps as old as 7500 bce, brings attention to the existence of southern sources for the civilization of ancient India. The discovery of Cambay as well as Lothal, Dholavira and others in Gujarat have been pushing the seats of ancient Indian civilization deeper into the southern peninsula. In this article by Dr. David Frawley, he states, "We should not be surprised if more such sites are discovered in South India, especially the coastal regions, for the south has always played a significant, if neglected, role in ancient India going back to Vedic times." Dr. Frawley bases his opinion for such coastal origin for Vedic civilization on "the oceanic character of Vedic symbolism in which all the main Rig Vedic Gods as well as many of the Vedic rishis have close connections with the sea. In fact, the image of the ocean pervades the whole of the Rig Veda." "The Cambay site is in the ancient delta of the now dry Sarasvati River, one branch of which flowed into the Gulf of Cambay, showing that this site was part of the greater Sarasvati region and culture, which was the main location for Harappan cities in the 3300-1900 BCE period. Such an ocean front was important for maritime trade for the inland regions to the north. In this regard, important Vedic kings like Sudas were said to receive tribute from the sea (Rig Veda I.47.6)."






Conference on Hindus in Trinidad


Posted on 2002/6/27 9:48:02 ( 991 reads )


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TRINIDAD, June 23, 2002: The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) of Trinidad and Tobago and the History Department of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine will be jointly hosting a conference on the Hindu Presence in Trinidad and Tobago. The event will be held from October 25 to 27, 2002, at the SDMS Headquarters, Eastern Main Road, St. Augustine and at the Learning Resource Centre, UWI, St. Augustine. Topics for discussion shall include: The Hindu family; age and gender roles; the early establishment of Hinduism; Hindus and politics; non-political leadership in the Hindu community; Hindus and education in Trinidad and Tobago; The Hindu engagement with the non-Hindu world. Abstracts of papers will be received up to July 31, 2002, at the History Department, UWI, St. Augustine. For further information, email source above.






Dead Fish on the Banks of the River Yamuna Panics City Residents


Posted on 2002/6/27 9:47:02 ( 792 reads )


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AGRA, INDIA, June 14, 2002: Residents in the city of Agra were horrified on June 14 when they awoke to the sight of thousands of dead fish on the banks of the river Yamuna. While the citizens of Agra are concerned about the safety of the water for human consumption, fishermen in the city may have to take up another means of making a living. Gyanesh Kumar, the additional district magistrate of Agra says, "It appears that the sudden rise of pollution resulted in a drastic fall of dissolved oxygen in river water, leading to the death of fishes on this terrible scale. Until our investigations are completed we will stop the Yamuna water supply to Agra city due to apprehensions about the safety and quality of the water." A substitute water supply from Gokul Barrage is being used as a replacement. An official from Agra's Jal Nigam water board says that they have been pushing for a clean up of the river. However, residential sewage and industrial waste are continually dumped untreated into the river. "It is time we restored the glory of the Yamuna River which was a grand old river. Now it has been turned into a sewage drain," said the water board official.






Forty-Five Years On, Sanskrit Dictionary Still a Dream


Posted on 2002/6/26 9:49:02 ( 1050 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, June 24, 2002: The ambitious Sanskrit dictionary project - arguably the largest lexicographical work ever -- at the Deccan College in Pune has become a hostage of time as the work, though under way for 45 years, has not even completed the first letter of the alphabet as yet. The monumental project, titled "Deccan College Sanskrit Dictionary" started in 1948, and since then it is still seized with the very first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet which has got at least 44 functional characters. According to an estimate of Dr V.B. Bhatta, the project coordinator, it will take at least 85 years to complete. The uniqueness of the project lies in the fact that, unlike other dictionaries, the present work sets out to cover all 64 disciplines in Sanskrit (Chaturshasthi Kalas) covering a period between Rig Veda and Balambhatti -- an 18th century work. Besides the vast period, it has to give the origin, evolution, history and supportive citations of a particular word. "Sanskrit is full of compounds and there is no room for bluffing. It is running at a normal speed," Bhatta reasons. It should be consolation to the editors that the Oxford English Dictionary when conceived in 1857 was expected to take ten years to complete. Five years into the project, they had reached "ant." The final volume of the unabridged dictionary was printed in 1928. At least the Sanskritists have one advantage over the OED's editors -- because of the rapid evolution of English, the OED was out of date the instant it was completed.






Male-Dominated Priesthood Makes Way For Women Priests


Posted on 2002/6/26 9:48:02 ( 874 reads )


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INDIA, June 23, 2002: The age-old tradition of a solely male-dominated profession is slowly giving way as more women are trained for the priesthood. In Maharashtra's orthodox brahminical order, Pune-based Shankar Seva Samiti has trained over 7,000 women priests from all castes since its inception in 1976. In Kerala, until a few years ago, anything related to Vedic hymns and sacred ceremonies was considered the domain of the Namboodiris and the Pottis -- two classes of the brahminical order. But, over the past few years, 37 non-brahmin women have become priests, due to the efforts of Gurupadam Institute of Kodungallur. In Varanasi, also, students of the Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya are being trained in priesthood. This unique center of learning has produced a number of Sanskrit scholars and karmakandi women pundits. Presently, 70 students are enrolled, preparing for degrees from prathama to acharya. Woman priests often conduct marriages, pujas and even shradhas, funeral rites. A central reason for the women's success is the lowering of standards among the male priests, as many qualified men opt for other employment. Suniti Gadgil, a priest based in Pune, says she performs around 15 shradha ceremonies every month besides puja and sacred thread ceremonies. Says Gadgil, "Earlier, I used to do only other rituals. but I decided to do the shradha ceremony only after no priest was available to do the shradha of my mother."




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