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Mata Amritanandamayi - Healing With A Hug
Posted on 2000/11/15 22:49:02 ( 984 reads )

Source: The Press Democrat, November 15, 2000

SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA: In the Marin Civic Center exhibition hall in San Rafael, the seekers and devotees sat on the floor before Mata Amritanandamayi, or Ammachi, a Hindu spiritual leader and humanitarian from India, waiting for her hug of benevolence. The report in the local Press Democrat treated the Hindu leader with great respect. It went on to say that her followers believe her hugs relieve suffering. Ammachi, whose full name means Mother of Immortal Bliss, was born in South India in 1953. Hundreds gathered to receive a gentle embrace. Those who sought a hug obtained a special token with a number - one that would determine when they took their place before her. By 1 p.m. volunteers reported giving out 750 tokens. Many of the hugs lasted more than 30 seconds. Afterward Ammachi gave each person flower petals and a "Hershey's Kiss" piece of candy. Visitors could learn about her "Mother's Kitchen" program, serving vegetarian meals to the homeless in Oakland and eight other U.S. cities. Brochures told of the hospital, orphanage and an engineering college she operates in India. Colette van Praag of Glen Ellen described her previous hugs with the spiritual leader as "a melting of the heart." Ammachi was a featured speaker at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the UN in August. She was one of only a handful of women religious leaders at the male-dominated event. In Zurich, a reporter once asked who it was that hugged her. "The entire creation hugs me," Ammachi replied.

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Fiji Court Reinstates Constitution
Posted on 2000/11/15 22:48:02 ( 886 reads )

Source: The Fiji Sun, November 16, 2000

SUVA, FIJI: Justice Anthony Gates of the High Court of Fiji ruled today that the 1997 constitution remained valid and ordered the president to summon the Parliament which existed prior to the failed coup of May 19, 2000. The case is going immediately to the Appeals Court, which will have the final say. The case was brought by Mr. Anu Patel, an indigent farmer, who claimed he had been adversely impacted by the coup and suspension of the constitution.

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Melbourne Priest on Trial for Arson
Posted on 2000/11/15 22:47:02 ( 828 reads )

Source: Australian Associated Press, November 14, 2000

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Subramaniya Punutharajakurukkal, a priest originally from Sri Lanka, is standing trial in Melbourne, for arson and two charges of endangering life. He is charged with setting two mysterious fires at the Hindu temple in The Basin, east of Melbourne on the night of March 11, 1999. The Crown Prosecutor, Geoff Horgan, told the jury the priest used lawnmower fuel to start the fires, which included his residence beside the temple where his wife and child were sleeping. Horgan said the man wanted to stay in Australia permanently and to remain priest at the temple. But, he said, "historically there had been disharmony within the managerial affairs of the temple." The priest has pleaded not guilty.

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Bringing Divali Cheer To Prison Inmates
Posted on 2000/11/15 22:46:02 ( 894 reads )

Source: The New Straits Times, October 25, 2000

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: In the true spirit of Divali, spreading light and love to all, devotees of Melmaruvathur Athiparasakthi collaborated with members of the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, the Divine Life Society and others to bring hope to Hindu inmates at Sungai Bulon Prison in Kuala Lumpur. The inmates were lavished with murukkus (fried snack), laddu (a sweet), packet drinks and rice pudding plus a traditional oil bath. Group coordinator L. Yogeswaran said, "The prisoners are also part of our society. We should make an effort to reform them and not neglect them."

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Statistics Show Rise In Indian Student Enrollment In US
Posted on 2000/11/15 22:45:02 ( 974 reads )

Source: The Hindustan Times, November 15, 2000

NEW DELHI, INDIA: There has been a sharp twelve percent rise in the number of Indian students, mostly Hindus, in American colleges and universities during the academic year 1999-2000. The Indian presence went up from 30,641 in 1996-1997, to 33,818 in 1997-1998, to 37,482 in 1998-1999 -- and now jumped to 42,337 in 1999-2000. A just released report from the Institute of International Education titled "Open Doors 2000" cites a five percent increase of all international students in the US, putting the total enrollment at 514,723, with Asian students accounting for 54 percent. Popular subjects pursued are business and management, engineering, mathematics and computer science. While international students are only three percent of America's total higher education population, they contribute more than $12 billion to the US economy by way of money spent on tuition, and related costs.

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India's Leading Religious Book Publisher Announces New Series
Posted on 2000/11/15 22:44:02 ( 866 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA: Motilal Banarsidass is launching a new series of books, "India's Scientific Heritage." Dr. L.M. Singhvi is the general editor for the series, which is expected to run at least 25 volumes and include Vedic and Jain mathematics and other sciences. They are looking for qualified contributors to the series. Contact: R P Jain, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 41, U.A. Bungalow Road, Jawahar Nagar, Delhi-110007, India. Email:

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Deforestation is a major concern to the religious leaders
Posted on 2000/11/14 22:49:02 ( 962 reads )


BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL: Representatives of 11 major faiths of the world have jointly pledged to work for the protection of global environment. They made the pledge at a colorful ceremony during a three-day conference being held in an ancient Nepalese town, Bhaktapur, near the capital, Kathmandu. The conference has been organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is being attended by over 500 delegates from 56 countries. The religious leaders - who represent Islam, Hinduism and Christianity among other religions - have also pledged to take actions "dedicated to the planet." Hinduism Today's reporter and photographer were in attendance, and a longer report on this meeting will follow.

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Don't Call It Yoga, But Relaxation Techniques Work For School Kids
Posted on 2000/11/14 22:48:02 ( 870 reads )

Source: The Boston Globe, November 9, 2000

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Schools faced with stressed-out children are introducing relaxation breaks using positive mental imagery (best for girls), or deep breathing or muscle relaxing (works on boys). Other methods include repeating a line from a favorite song, carrying a good-luck charm, have a buddy to turn to in times of stress. "It used to be," one educator told the Globe, "that the worst emergency teachers faced was the lights going out. Now many schools have a police presence, and all teachers are under pressure for students to perform on standardized tests. Kids are coming to school with more baggage than I've seen in 30 years of teaching." Books on stress-reduction methods are available from

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Natives Of "New World" Protest At Vatican
Posted on 2000/11/14 22:47:02 ( 859 reads )

Source: Catholic World News, October 13, 2000

VATICAN: A group of Hawaiians and natives of Caribbean islands held an orderly demonstration in St. Peter's Square on Thursday, asking Pope John Paul II to repudiate a 500-year-old papal bull that encouraged Christian nations to enter the New World to convert pagans. The small group of about a dozen presented a copy of the 1493 edict "Inter Caetera" to the Swiss Guard, asking them to take it to the Pope. "Take this back. We have no use of it. We never did," Steve Newcomb, director of the Eugene, Oregon-based Indigenous Law Institute, said, recounting his words to the guards. "And I told them to make sure it gets to the Pope," he added. The document issued by Pope Alexander VI authorized Christian countries to occupy and convert non-Christian areas of the New World. "We hold the Church entirely responsible for the loss of land, lives, and culture we have suffered," said Newcomb, who sent an open letter to the Pope raising the issue in 1992. "The bull perfectly symbolizes the violence that continues to afflict the world." Newcomb noted that as the Pope has used the Jubilee Year to offer apologies on behalf of the Church for injustices committed in her name over the past two thousand years, he would do well to formally repudiate the 1493 bull. "It's easy. He should just say 'I'm sorry,' " said Kamealoha Hanohano, a professor of linguistics at the Hawaii University in Honolulu. "It'd be good enough."

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Hindus Hopping Mad Over Toilet Seat
Posted on 2000/11/14 22:46:02 ( 938 reads )


SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: We're not sure what inspired this company to put Hindu deities on toilet seats. But they are surely in for some serious protests from the Hindu community, who will consider this an outrageous sacrilege. The company sells two seats, one with Lord Ganesha and one with Goddess Kali on the bottom side of the lid for $130 each. The Anti-Hindu Defamation site ( is looking into the situation.

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Guru Nanak's Birth Anniversary Celebrated By Sikhs
Posted on 2000/11/13 22:49:02 ( 844 reads )


LAHORE, PAKISTAN: Thousands of Sikhs from around the world congregated in the city of Nankana Sahib, about 80 km from Lahore, Pakistan, to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. The religious leader was born in 1469. The city, usually quiet, teemed with pilgrims eager to take back souvenirs from the holy city. They shopped in-between visits to the seven gurdwaras, each symbolical of various events in Guru Nanak's life. Pakistani President, Rafiq Tarar, formally inaugurated a newly constructed residential block on the gurdwara (Sikh temple) premises. In turn, he was presented with a ceremonial sword by leaders of the Sikh community. The celebrations concluded with a procession in which the Sikh holy book, the Granth Sahib, was carried on a flower-laden silver platform into the gurdwara. Initially the pilgrimage was slightly marred by a delay of about 12 hours at the Indian border railway station of Attari which led to protests by the Sikh community.

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Disco Yoga - Fad Or Fact?
Posted on 2000/11/13 22:48:02 ( 1028 reads )

Source: The Independent (London), November 12, 2000

LONDON, ENGLAND: The latest exercise fad, Disco Yoga, originates in America at Gold's Fitness Center on Lafayette Street, where the "Thursday Night Fever" Disco Yoga class is packed with New Yorkers in pursuit of the perfect body. For a high-energy 60 minutes, instructor Trixie takes the class on a "disco trip with dynamic flowing yoga poses," using mainly soul and funk music. You might expect yoga purists to react with horror, but they can see the benefits of a combined discipline. "As long as the teacher is experienced in yoga practice," says Simon Low, of London's Triyoga yoga centre. "with beginners understanding the basic principles of yoga before trying Disco Yoga, to prevent long term damage."

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Norwegian Arrested for Proselytization in Nepal
Posted on 2000/11/13 22:47:02 ( 930 reads )

Source: BBC World Broadcasts, November 13, 2000

KATHMANDU, NEPAL: Police arrested Trond Berg and three Nepalis after Lokendra Kuma Jha complained to police that the four tried to allure him to convert on an enticement of Nepal Rs. 40,000. The four were arrested several weeks ago at a local inn in Rajbiraj while preaching. Christian organizations around the world have targeted Nepal for conversion, taking advantage of poverty and ignorance to entice Nepalese to change their faith. To prevent the resulting destruction of Nepalese tradition, the country has long outlawed conversion but allows complete freedom of worship.

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Proselytizing As a Human Rights Issue
Posted on 2000/11/13 22:46:02 ( 876 reads )


ITHACA, NEW YORK: Rajiv Malhotra challenged attendees at a November 8 conference on "Human Rights and Religion." He said in part, "We have heard numerous talks at this event about the human rights problems related to white supremacy groups, but do we have the courage to examine the possibility that there might be Christian supremacy groups as well, often camouflaged as proselytizers? We have heard numerous condemnations of hate speech, but do we exempt hate speech when it is done in the name of God or religion, even quoted from a sacred book? Let me start by listing the following phrases that are commonly used by proselytizers in describing their non-Christian target prospects: 'sinners', 'condemned', 'damned', 'heathen', pagan, etc. If it were not done in the name of religion, would this have been declared as hate speech? Does such talk, even if disguised or deferred until a later stage of a proselytizing campaign, build communal tension? Is this responsible for negative eruptions in India between Hindus and Christians who co-existed peacefully for centuries before the arrival of the proselytizers? Given that America is a tapestry of pluralistic faiths, and that therefore Hindus are also amongst one's classmates, neighbors, and colleagues at work, would this language lead to social problems in the future as opposed to the kind of harmonious society we all seek? Does it violate the UN Human Rights provision that guarantees 'dignity' to all people as a basic human right?"

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Yoga Research Foundation Buys New Headquarters
Posted on 2000/11/13 22:45:02 ( 826 reads )


SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA: Dr. George Feuerstein announced the acquisition of an 11,000 square-foot office building in Santa Rosa to serve as the Yoga Research and Education Center as its headquarters and teaching center. The purchase of the building costing $1.8 million was made possible by a donation from two of YREC's board members. The building will allow YREC, a nonprofit organization established three years ago, to begin classes and seminars on a wide range of subjects from traditional Yoga and also to offer training programs for Yoga teachers and Yoga therapists.

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