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Celebration of the Thakkar Family-DCF Endowed Chair at UCI
Posted on 2015/5/17 2:50:10 ( 821 reads )

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IRVINE, CALIFORNIA, USA, May 16, 2015 (UCI): May 9th marked the public celebration of the establishment of the "Thakkar Family-DCF Presidential Chair in Vedic and Indic Civilizational Studies", at the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). A $1.5M gift from the Thakkar Family and Dharma Civilization Foundation ("DCF") established the endowed chair in January 2015. Additionally, the UC President will be funding half a million dollars to establish a total endowment of 2 million dollars.

The Dean of Humanities at UCI, Dr. Georges Van Den Abbeele, hosted the event at the UCI campus which was attended by over a 100 guests. Dr. Abbeele thanked the donors and remarked, "This new endowed chair anchors UCI's religious studies program by permanently securing faculty-led research and instruction in one of the world's most influential religions, i.e. Hinduism." He also expressed hope that this Chair would mark the beginning towards the creation of a Center of Excellence for Indic Civilizational Studies, at the UCI. This chair is intended to foster the study and understanding of Hinduism and Vedic traditions. Plans are under way to create several other Chairs, dedicated to Jain, Sikh, Hindu & Buddhist studies respectively, together constituting a one of a kind, unique "India Center" focused on the Indic civilization and its contribution to the world.

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President of India Inaugurates 'Namaste India'
Posted on 2015/5/17 2:50:00 ( 832 reads )

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INDIA, May 11, 2015 (Press Info Bureau, India): The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, inaugurated a festival of Indian Culture in Russia, "Namaste India," in Moscow on May 10, 2015. Speaking on the occasion, the President said Indian culture and its heritage of art, music and cinema have enjoyed love and appreciation across Russia over centuries. In India too, there is enormous warmth and regard for Russian culture as showcased in its ballet, literature and traditions. Russia's Gerasim Lebedev, who was arguably the first European Indologist, pioneered the Bengali theatre 220 years ago in Kolkata.
The President said with the support of the Russian Ministry of Culture, Namaste Russia will reach various regions of Russia over the next six months. In response to the interest in Indian fine arts across Russia, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations will send Indian teachers of music and dance to regional centres in Russia. These efforts will help people living in different regions of Russia to deepen their engagement with contemporary and classical Indian culture. It is also important that the youth of two countries is encouraged to join these cultural exchanges. He said that he was delighted to learn that the logo for Namaste Russia is designed by a young Russian from the Russian town of Krasnoyarsk, who succeeded in an open competition with both Indians and Russians.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/17 2:49:54 ( 771 reads )

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Mind is consciousness which has put on limitations. You are originally unlimited and perfect. Later you take on limitations and become the mind.
-- Ramana Maharshi, (1879-1950), South Indian mystic

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David Cameron says Britain Needs to Take Inspiration From Hinduism
Posted on 2015/5/16 2:30:00 ( 1064 reads )

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ENGLAND, May 11 , 2015 ( by Kounteya Sinha, Time of India): During one of his campaigning trips, Cameron, who has travelled to India thrice after taking over office in 2010, promised to visit the Akshardham temple in Delhi if he returns to 10 Downing Street as prime minister for the second term. Two days before Britain went into polls, prime minister David Cameron went all out to appease the Indian Hindu community in UK: ""I go around the country, I see our iconic buildings and statues Stonehenge, the Angel of the North, Big Ben and I'll tell you what - Neasden Mandir is one of them - one of our great British landmarks. The first traditional Hindu temple built in Europe wasn't in Germany, or France, or Spain it was here in Britain" Cameron also said that Britain needs to take inspiration from Hinduism if it wants to become better.

Cameron has earlier called Britain's relationship with India "the great partnership of the 21st century" and said UK can learn from the epic text Ramayana which is relevant even more in modern times. "When I look at the Ramayana and my understanding of the Hindu religion, there's so much that you have to say about the importance of family, about the importance of community, about the importance of voluntary service - these are all the values that our country needs more of. So, as you celebrate your values, let's make them our values, and let's have more of them in Britain," he said. He added "But for me what stands out most is this: the British Hindu values. I think of one of the Hindu goals of life, dharma - duty and right conduct. I see it around the country - in the fundraising you do for charities, like the Nepal Earthquake Appeal

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The Monk Who Changed Narendra Modi's life
Posted on 2015/5/16 2:29:55 ( 828 reads )

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NEW DEHLI,INDIA, May 4, 2015 ( by Mohua Chatterjee, Times of India): When Narendra Modi meets an ailing 95-year-old monk during his visit to Kolkata on May 9, he would be keeping a promise made to the guru whose advice led Modi to politics -- and, eventually, the country's prime ministership. Modi and the swami go back a long way. Not many know that Modi had a "prasadi" flower in his jacket pocket when he took oath as Prime Minister on May 26, 2014. It had arrived along with a letter addressing him as Narendrabhai, from Swami Atmasthananda in Belur.

In 1966, Swami Atmasthananda had come to Rajkot in Gujarat to head the city's RKM ashram. During his stint in Rajkot, a young Narendra, inspired by the life of Swami Vivekananda, reached his doorstep to take refuge at the ashram. He had already spent some years wandering and wanted to train himself for a spiritual life. After spending some time at the ashram under Atmasthananda's tutelage, Modi told him he wanted to become a monk. But the head monk replied that sanyas (renunciation) was not for him. His work was meant to be among the people and not in seclusion, young Narendra was told. A short while later, he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a life in politics followed.

The last time Modi visited Atmasthananda, he was still keeping well and the two had a long conversation. The monk blessed Modi, who sat by his feet. When Modi returns to see the swami, he may have to visit him in hospital as the head monk has been ailing since February. Modi has also offered to help RKM get the house where Swami Vivekananada had lived for some days in Aligarh, restored as an ashram. The PM will be going to Belur with updates on these two issues.

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Christian Missonaries Claim: "Nepalese Leaving Gods After Second Quake"
Posted on 2015/5/16 2:29:50 ( 782 reads )

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NEPAL, May 13, 2015 (MNN): Nepal (Mission Network Online): Nepalese are afraid to go inside any building. For the second time in less than three weeks, Nepal was shaken by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, leaving many dead and hundreds more injured. President of Asian Access Joe Handley says, "The reports fresh from the field [are] that there's just a great deal of fear. People are in buildings that aren't very solid, and so they've raced outside. Everyone is trying to get into the open air, or in a tent in Kathmandu."

The earthquake is shaking the faith of many Hindus in this predominantly-Hindu nation. What does that mean for groups like Asian Access? "People are grappling with 'How do the gods that I serve allow something so tragic to occur?' Pastors are well-equipped to handle the spiritual side of things," says Handley. "They're also often the best when it comes to emotional care."

According to Handley, these uncertain times are laying the groundwork for churches to provide tangible aid. "We're trying to mobilize aid to probably about 30 churches that are right in the middle of the worst-hit areas, to be a point of light in these neighborhoods." Pastors and motivated Christians are reaching out with emergency aid as well as with the message of the Gospel.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/16 2:29:44 ( 709 reads )

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His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, was asked: "If you are trying to convince someone and they remain stubborn and don't accept what you say, then do you lose your temper?" He responded: "What will we achieve by losing our temper? We try to talk to them, but if they don't listen, then we have to step down! After all, we are God's devotees and so is he!"

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Nepal's Living Goddess, Devotees were Unscathed by Earthquake
Posted on 2015/5/13 19:52:59 ( 1231 reads )

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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, May 3, 2015 (Times of India): If there is anything that last week's earthquake hasn't changed in the devastated Basantpur Durbar Square, it's the daily worship of Kumari, Nepal's living virgin Goddess. Even a week after the devastating 7.9-magnitude quake left much of Nepal in ruins with the toll nearing 7,000, her puja continues as usual at her abode, Kumari Ghar -- a three-story architectural marvel which stands unharmed in the midst of the rubble of ancient temples and old palaces.

Every morning, karmacharyas (Newar priests) from Taleju Temple arrive with offerings of flowers, akshata, dhup and samaya baji (typical Newari prasad). Kumari is worshipped as Taleju (Tulja in India), a form of Durga. "Kumari Ghar withstood the devastating earthquake because of Kumari's powers," said 48-year-old Gautam Shakya, an 11th generation caretaker of Kumari. At the time of the quake, Kumari was blessing her devotees on the first floor of the wood-and-brick house with intricate Newari carvings.

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Statue Theft Case Cracked; Century-Old Statues Recovered
Posted on 2015/5/13 19:52:54 ( 979 reads )

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INDIA, TAMIL NADU, May 2, 2015 (The Hindu): Acting swiftly, the district police have cracked the Thiruvadanai temple burglary case by arresting three accused and recovering four century-old statues, hidden in a waterbody. Ten days after burglars struck at the ancient Adhi Rathineeswarar Temple at Thiruvadanai in Ramanathapuram district on April 20 and decamped with the statues, special teams, after launching technical surveillance, arrested the accused near Melur in Madurai district on Thursday night.

After interrogation, police recovered the statues of Vinayagar (26 inch), Chandrasekar (27 inch), Bhavani Amman (22 inch) and Asthiradevi (19 inch) dumped in a waterbody, 2.5 miles away from the temple on Friday and launched a hunt for two more accused, Superintendent of Police N. M. Mylvahanan said. As part of their modus operandi, the accused had dumped the statues in the waterbody. After assessing the value of the statues, they planned to recover them for sale, the SP said.

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Landslides Fail to Deter Badrinath's Pilgrims' Resolve
Posted on 2015/5/13 19:52:49 ( 837 reads )

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INDIA, May 2, 2015 (Daily Pioneer): Despite the Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway-58 being blocked by debris, the pilgrims have continued to travel towards Badrinath, walking from Marwadi to Vishnuprayag bridge en route to Badrinath. Sources said if weather permits, it will still take a few more days for the highway to be cleared and opened for the public. About 6 miles from Joshimath, the National Highway-58 to Badrinath has been closed due to landslides at Hathi Parvat near Marwadi since Tuesday.

However, this has not deterred the devotees from advancing towards the Badrinath shrine. With this stretch of the highway being closed, the pilgrims travelling by road are taking the old bridle path to walk up to Vishnuprayag from where they board vehicles to Badrinath. On Friday, 800 pilgrims walked to Vishnuprayag from here and then proceeded in vehicles towards Badrinath while 700 devotees returned from the shrine.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/13 19:52:43 ( 847 reads )

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You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
-- Khalil Gibran (1883 1931), Lebanese American mystic, poet and writer

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Tiruvannamalai Gears up for Chitra Pournami Fest
Posted on 2015/5/2 20:55:23 ( 1312 reads )

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TIRUVANNAMALAI, INDIA, May 2, 2015 (The Hindu): [HPI note: This is a remarkable event, one which our editors have participated in. It starts and ends at Annamalaiyar Temple at the base of Arunachal Hill--famed for Ramana Maharishi's ashram. Hundreds of thousands--a large number of them young--walk barefoot 13 km around the hill.]

More than 1,800 special buses will be operated to Tiruvannamalai from different parts of the State in view of Chitra Pournami on Sunday. Several hundred thousand devotees are expected to circumambulate the holy hill (Girivalam) on that day.

District Collector A. Gnanasekaran told reporters here on Thursday that five thousand police personnel will be deployed for security. Special darshan for devotees has been arranged at the Arunachaleswarar Temple for US$.30 and $.80. Shelters and first aid booths have been put up in the temple. Sufficient number of 108 ambulances would also be stationed along the path.

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Nepal Earthquake: Christians See an Opportunity for Conversion
Posted on 2015/5/2 20:55:18 ( 1353 reads )

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INDIA, April 15, 2015 (ShankhNaad, by Rahul Priyadarshi): [HPI note: This article includes a number of images to tweets. We've reproduced a few here, but to get the full impact, go to the article at "source" above.]

Christian evangelical organisations work for conversion, not charity, suggested Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagvat a while back in what became a raging controversy. He stands vindicated time and again with the acts of Soul Harvesters feasting upon the heathens with their book and their bigotry, the latest of which can be seen post Nepal disaster these days.

The earthquake hit Nepal (and parts of Northern & Eastern India) yesterday at 11 and then past 12. The Government of India convened an emergency meet at 3pm, the entire rescue and disaster relief convoys were ready by evening and were dispatched within an hour of this meeting. Rescue operations were on full swing by 6 in the evening. As a matter of fact, first batch of rescuers started arriving before midnight, thankful to the disaster management teams for their swift action. However, more swift than any government, were the soul harvesters, rejoicing at the opportunity to take Jesus to the unreached. Sources say, most of the 'Western' civilians stuck in the Nepal Earthquake are evangelists who went there for conversion. Nothing surprising there as the third world provides plenty of ripe opportunities for the same.

Several expressing their bigotry in a blunt manner on Twitter. Complaining of their bigotry on any other day would itself be labelled a bigoted opinion had one not witnessed the sick alacrity with which the news of quake was shared among the greedy evangelists in India and abroad.

Example of tweets:

Pray that the primarily Hindu and Buddhist people of Nepal come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

Praying for the people of Nepal. The 10-40 window to share Jesus is opening greater than ever

If earthquake can reduce idol's temple to this [with a picture of the collapsed Dharahara Tower, which was originally a military watch tower, and later just an observation place, but not a temple], then it's not God!

Pray for the people of Nepal and that believers there will have a chance to meet needs and share the gospel after today's earthquake

Praying for the manifestation of the gospel in this time of pain in Nepal

Our heart goes to the nation of Nepal. May you know the Lord Jesus Christ in these times of trouble

Praying for those affected in Nepal this AM. May the fields be ready for harvest as four of our own will be there in a month!

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Anantanand Rambhachan Responds to "Indra's Net" Accusations
Posted on 2015/5/2 20:53:55 ( 985 reads )

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USA, May 2, 2015 (Swaraja): In his recently published book, Indra's Net, author Rajiv Malhotra describes Professor Anantanand Rambachan as the foremost and most influential exponent of what Malhotra describes as the Neo-Hinduism thesis. This thesis, according to Malhotra, argues that Hinduism was fabricated during the British rule and that Swami Vivekananda plagiarized Western and Christian ideas. He accuses Professor Rambachan of working to fragment the Hindu tradition. In the essay at "source" above, Professor Rambachan contends that Rajiv Malhotra distorts and misrepresents his work. He identifies and responds to some of Malhotra's principal allegations.

Dr. Anantanand Rambachan is Professor of Religion at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota, USA. His books include, "Accomplishing the Accomplished: The Vedas as a Source of Valid Knowledge in akara," "The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Authority of the Vedas," "The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity" and "A Hindu Theology of Liberation: Not-Two is Not One."

From the opening of Rambachan's essay:

In Indra's Net, I am described as the "foremost exponent of the neo-Hinduism theory today," with an influence that goes beyond the scholarly academy. Readers of this book will note quickly that Mr. Malhotra's concern with my work goes beyond the usual matters of scholarship. There is an undisguised attempt to question my commitment to the Hindu tradition and it's flourishing. Hindus are wrongly described as assuming that I am a "sympathetic voice," "representing their views and aspirations."

I am described condescendingly as one who was brought to the University of Leeds by my dissertation advisor, Professor Ursula King, and "groomed" to be one of the "main proponents and expositors," of the "neo-Hinduism" thesis. The author characterizes me as the person who the Vatican regards as "its Hindu expert." Such characterizations reveal ignorance of my personal history and have no place in any work that seeks to be regarded as serious scholarship. In addition, with the insinuation of passivity and manipulation, it is a demeaning denial of my agency and self-determination. It relies on unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and not fact.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/2 20:53:49 ( 929 reads )

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Actions are the louder expression of thought. The quality of thought is ordered by the nature of our inner belief and faith.
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993), founder of Chinmaya Mission

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