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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/7 17:58:23 ( 1040 reads )


They have "Dial-a-Prayer" for atheists now. You call it up, it rings and rings, but nobody answers.

Opposition to Widening of Tiruvannamali Circumambulation Path Gathers Pace

Posted on 2016/7/6 19:57:25 ( 1109 reads )


TIRUVANNAMALAI, TAMIL NADU, INDIA July 2, 2016 (by A.D Balasubramaniyan, The Hindu): Activists in Tiruvannamalai opposing the move to widen the girivalam (circumambulation) path, have decided to come together to protest against the work. Work has begun for the digging of a ditch for a 12-km long drainage line along the proposed foot path. Many activists, environmentalists, pilgrims and sadhus who are against the widening project have started to organise themselves in order to articulate the protest. They plan to form a human chain around Sonagiri forest. Omgaranandha, a Puducherry-based pontiff, expressed his views against cutting of trees openly. Several sadhus, though they don't want to be named for now, feel bad about the project and deem it as unnecessary. On social media, there are a number of discussions that are against the project. More than 5,000 persons signed an online petition initiated against cutting of trees along the girivalam path in Tiruvannamalai.

The petition was initiated by Vellore based Yoga teacher V. Naveen Kumar on Tuesday onchange.org, an online petitioning website. In his petition he said, the proposed widening of the girivalam road will lead to an irreplaceable loss of ancient trees, forest lands, sacred groves, and cause considerable damage to sacred tanks and temples. The farmers whose lands will be acquired for the project will also be severely affected. The project, which in some places involves re-routing of the road, will cause irreparable damage to the Sonagiri sacred grove, the only intact sacred grove on mount Arunachala. Speaking to The Hindu he said that, "This is a pilgrimage centre and why should there be so much damage?"

Life Is Hard for Hindu Tweens--Texas Schoolbooks Make It Worse

Posted on 2016/7/6 19:57:15 ( 1349 reads )


HOUSTON, TEXAS, July 5, 2016 (Houston Chronicle, by Kavita Pallod): For me, as for most tweens, middle school was a time of all-encompassing awkwardness. I didn't know what to do with my oddly proportioned limbs, how to dress while my mom was still shopping for me, what was acceptable to pack for lunch or even how to greet my friends in the morning. I certainly didn't need the help of my teachers or social studies textbooks to feel out of place. But, as so many things are at that age, it was out of my hands.

As a Hindu American growing up in Alief, I was faced with Texas textbooks that made my faith look strange and primitive, even to me. We were taught about a discriminatory caste system that deemed people untouchable, the practice of sati (where widows threw themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres), the lower status of women in ancient and modern India.

All but absent from the textbook were the things I did know about my faith: karma, dharma; the four yogas (the paths to spiritual liberation). And, of course, the teachers had no knowledge of Hinduism outside of the textbooks in front of them, nor a very well-developed sense of cultural sensitivity. My tenth-grade teacher was not trying to be cruel when he had me stand up in front of the class, then asked me what my caste was.

In addition to this, always hovering over me was the specter of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an essentialized character from The Simpsons, who believed odd things and scammed people at his convenience store. Between Apu and the textbooks, misconceptions and prejudice in my classmates was inevitable, as were the isolation and shame that dogged me.

I kept my head down. I passed quizzes and tests by answering questions about caste and rituals in ways I knew to be incorrect. I tolerated classmates who insisted I was going to hell for worshiping idols. I tried, to work up the nerve to speak up about the misrepresentations in my textbook, but I was stymied by shyness and embarrassment.

Unfortunately, the Hindu American Foundation's 2016 Bullying Report shows that I am far from alone in my experience: Half of the students who responded to the survey said that they felt awkward or socially isolated because of their religious identity. Well over half said that their classes focused on caste and included claims about Hinduism that they knew to be inaccurate, in debate, or long debunked. Caste, when presented as a hierarchical and rigid system at the core of the faith, implies that people who follow the faith are inherently oppressive, judgmental, and exclusivist. Dharma is the set of basic principles that most Hindus use as a moral cornerstone to navigate daily decisions. To have it tainted in this way is hugely damaging.

Many Hindus growing up in the United States have little or no attachment to caste, much less any engagement with the caste-based discrimination that is excruciatingly highlighted in textbooks. But it would take a remarkable amount of wherewithal (an amount that cannot be expected from a sixth-, eighth- or even tenth-grader) to dismiss their textbooks and teachers. Worse still, one in eight Hindu students said their teachers have made sarcastic remarks about their faith. It's hard enough to get through a lesson with a teacher who is trying to be sensitive, let alone one who isn't.

Bullying is of course ubiquitous in this age group. Teens can and do make fun of just about anything. But there is something particularly insidious about being attacked for your core beliefs, as opposed to, say, a sweater that can be ditched or a haircut that will grow out.

These days, I work as a therapist in a setting where I see middle and high school students during the school day and help teens navigate a spectrum of challenges: depression resulting from issues at home, anxiety from school and academic pressure, angst about who they are. Across the board, they feel isolated, judged, awkward and alone.

Teenage years are tough. Tough enough that students shouldn't ever feel like their educational institution is attacking them, however subtly -- or unsubtly. For Hindu American students exposed to current social studies textbooks and the problematic understanding of Hinduism that they foster, the challenge is magnified. The textbooks' mistakes aren't the only thing that makes life hard on Hindu students. But those mistakes are something that Texas can -- and must -- remedy.

Kavita Pallod is a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University, studying clinical psychology. She holds psychology and education degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. She is active in the Hindu community of Houston and serves on the steering committee for the Hindu Heritage Youth Camp. She is also the 2011 winner of the Hindus of Greater Houston's Youth Leader award. Kavita's work at Hindu American Foundation is focused on K-12 curricular issues.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/6 19:57:04 ( 1041 reads )


When individuals change for the better, then society will change, and when society changes, then the country will change.
-- Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

Rent Trouble for Temples Pains India's Supreme Court

Posted on 2016/7/5 19:21:59 ( 1264 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 2, 2016 (Prameya News7): The Supreme Court on Friday decided to intervene in an issue described by the Madras high court as "land of lords in trouble" and expressed concern over rampant encroachment, misuse and misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of acres of temple lands. Appearing for the petitioner, advocate K K Mani said Tamil Nadu was known for its temple culture and there were thousands of temples showcasing India's rich cultural heritage. "But most of them are gasping for survival as their incomes have steadily declined. Their properties were rented out decades ago for a pittance. There has been no revision of rent. Temple lands have been encroached upon," Mani said. The bench appeared to subscribe to the view expressed by Mani and issued notice to the commissioner, Hindu religious and charitable endowments department, Chennai.

HC judge Pushpa Sathyanarayana had said, "The lands of the Lords are in trouble! Even Gods and Lords are not spared. The temples in Tamil Nadu are historic symbols of Tamil history, and they are the properties of the community as a whole. But God's money is robbed by the notorious society. The tenants and encroachers are defrauding on rents for the temple land which are taken on lease and breaking of hundis, stealing temple jewels, the value of which are immeasurable and the lifting of antique metal icons to other countries are increasing day by day."

- See more at: http://www.prameyanews7.com/en/jul201 ... .htm#sthash.cbbxSyyV.dpuf

Study on the Power of Ritual

Posted on 2016/7/5 19:21:49 ( 637 reads )


UNITED STATES, July 2, 2016 (NCBI Abstract): HPI note: We found this an interesting investigation into both ritual and placebo effect. It is from a scientific, not mystical viewpoint, obviously, but still food for thought.

Using a comparative analysis of Navajo healing ceremonials, acupuncture and biomedical treatment, this essay examines placebo studies and ritual theory as mutually interpenetrating disciplines. Healing rituals create a receptive person susceptible to the influences of authoritative culturally sanctioned "powers." The healer provides the sufferer with imaginative, emotional, sensory, moral and aesthetic input derived from the palpable symbols and procedures of the ritual process--in the process fusing the sufferer's idiosyncratic narrative unto a universal cultural mythos.

Healing rituals involve a drama of evocation, enactment, embodiment and evaluation in a charged atmosphere of hope and uncertainty. Experimental research into placebo effects demonstrates that routine biomedical pharmacological and procedural interventions contain significant ritual dimensions. This research also suggests that ritual healing not only represents changes in affect, self-awareness and self-appraisal of behavioral capacities, but involves modulations of symptoms through neurobiological mechanisms. Recent scientific investigations into placebo acupuncture suggest several ways that observations from ritual studies can be verified experimentally. Placebo effects are often described as "non-specific;" the analysis presented here suggests that placebo effects are the "specific" effects of healing rituals.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/5 19:21:38 ( 628 reads )


"May I take your order?" the waiter asked. "Yes. I'm just wondering, how do you prepare your chickens?" "Nothing special, sir," he replied. "We just tell them straight out that they're going to die."

First Batch of Pilgrims Leaves Jammu for Amarnath Yatra

Posted on 2016/7/2 17:50:14 ( 1045 reads )


INDIA, July 1, 2016 (Times of India): The first batch of 1,138 pilgrims left Jammu on Friday for this year's Amarnath Yatra that begins from Saturday. State deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, junior minister Priya Sethi and Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore flagged off the first batch of pilgrims from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in winter capital Jammu at 5 a.m. on Friday. There are 900 males, 225 females and 13 children in the first batch which left in 13 buses, 24 mini-buses and other modes of public and private conveyance in a convoy guarded by the security forces.

Providing security to this year's Amarnath Yatra is a major security and intelligence challenge for state and central agencies because of the spurt in the violence by separatist militants. Union home minister Rajnath Singh will arrive in Jammu on Friday on a two-day visit to review the security situation in the state, especially the security arrangements for this year's Yatra. Beginning from Saturday, this year's 48-day Yatra will end on August 18 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.

Hindu Priest Comes under Attack in Satkhira

Posted on 2016/7/2 17:50:03 ( 925 reads )


BANGLADESH, July 2, 2016 (The Daily Star): Assailants attacked a Hindu priest leaving him severely injured in Satkhira Sadar Upazila early today, a day into the killing of a Hindu priest in Jhenidah and a Buddhist man in Bandarban. Bhabasindhu Bor, priest of local Sree Sree Radha Govinda temple in Brahmarajpur village of Satkhira Sadar Upazila, is undergoing treatment at Satkhira Sadar Hospital in critical condition, said police. Around 3:30am, seven to eight assailants knocked at the door of the priest's house. When the victim opened the door thinking it was the night guard, they stormed into in the house and attacked him with sharp weapons.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/2 17:49:52 ( 861 reads )


One who is established in a comfortable posture while concentrating on the inner Self naturally becomes immersed in the Heart's ocean of bliss.
-- Siva Sutras III, 16

Why Are Indian Historians In a Denial Mode?

Posted on 2016/6/29 20:53:43 ( 1205 reads )


INDIA, June 27, 2016 (Swarajya by David Frawley): India today is a strange country in that, uniquely among the nations of the world, it seems to be afraid of its own history. If we study current historical accounts, particularly by India's academic left, the most important fact about the history of India is that there is no real history of India. This is because such scholars are unable to see the existence of any cohesive entity called India before 1947.

Such historians are happy to negate the history of their own country. Their accounts of India's history are largely denials of any enduring country, civilisation or culture worthy of the name. Their history of India is one of foreign invasions, temporary or vanished empires, internal social divisions and conflicts, and a disparate and confused cultural diversity. They regard India as a melting pot or conglomeration of widely separated peoples and cultures coming together by the accident of geography that hardly constitutes any united country or national identity.

Unfortunately, such Indian historians, particularly with political alliances with left historians in UK and US, are introducing their anti-India ideas into Western academia, which still does not understand India's very different civilisational model. Such studies forget that national identity is cultural, not simply political. India did not become a British state under British rule or an Islamic state under Muslim rule. The older Indian/Bharatiya culture continued. These anti-India views are easily countered by a number of historical facts.

Much more at "source" above.

Cow Urine Kills Farm Pests in India's First Fully Organic State

Posted on 2016/6/29 20:53:33 ( 1142 reads )


SIKKIM, INDIA, June 27, 2016 ( by Bubhudatta Pradhan):India has 650,000 organic farmers--more than any other nation. Nimtshreng Lepcha seeps medicinal leaves in cow urine and sprays the brew over his tomatoes. It's the main way pests are repelled on his farm in the Himalayan foothills and across the northeastern state of Sikkim, the first in India to go fully organic. For more than a decade, Sikkim's 66,000 farmers have shunned chemical weed killers, synthetic fertilizers and gene-altered seeds. Their return to traditional farming methods has made the tiny state, sandwiched between China, Nepal and Bhutan, a testing ground for a counter movement to the Green Revolution, the half-century-old system that relied on modern seeds, chemicals and irrigation to boost crop yields and stave off hunger.

Now, faced with health and environmental problems ranging from poisoned waterways and degraded farmland, to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and diet-linked disease, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is backing Sikkim's approach as a safer, more sustainable way to produce food, support farm jobs and reduce the nation's fertilizer bill."Other states can take a lead from Sikkim," Modi told political leaders in the nearby state of Meghalaya last month. "The North East can become the organic food basket for this country. Organic products are going to be increasingly used widely," he continued, and the practice "will contribute immensely to the income of the people and the region."

India isn't the only country looking for alternative ways to nourish its people. The United Nations' new development agenda, which began in January, calls for more sustainable food production systems and the implementation of resilient agricultural practices that increase production, help maintain ecosystems and progressively improve land and soil quality.

For more, go to source. For another report on the value of the cow, see http://toi.in/IBJIub

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/6/29 20:53:22 ( 956 reads )


When the Creator dances, the worlds He created dance. To the measure that He dances in our knowledge, our thoughts, too, dance. When He in heart-endearing dances, the several elements, too, dance. Witness in rapture surpassing the dance of that One who is a glowing flame.
-- Tirumantiram, 2786

How the Andhra Pradesh Government Is Reclaiming Temple Lands

Posted on 2016/6/26 20:50:20 ( 1391 reads )


INDIA, June 24, 2016 (Swarajya): The Andhra Pradesh government has asked state officials to evict non-Hindu farmers from agricultural land belonging to Hindu temples or mutts. No such land can now be cultivated by a non-Hindu, it said. The state government had issued the official order in November last year but is now following up on it, as the kharif (monsoon) season is starting and land leases are being renewed. "No person professing a religion other than Hinduism is entitled to obtain lease either through tender-cum-public auction or otherwise," said the state government.

The Times Of India reports today (24 June) that the Andhra government began serving notices earlier this month to non-Hindu tenant farmers to immediately hand over the land belonging to temples and mutts. Dalit Christian tenants could continue cultivating if they produced a certificate from the church declaring they aren't Christians. The certificate has perhaps been made mandatory because in the state there are many Dalits who have converted to Christianity but haven't changed their names. So, this would ensure that their true number can be known. Muslim farmers have no such respite. They have been barred altogether.

Temples in Andhra are large landowners. But since they are controlled by the government, land effectively belongs to the state. Around 300,000 acres of land belongs to the temples and 30 percent of the farmers cultivating them are Dalits. The temple authorities have issued notices to all the non-Hindus to comply with the government notification. It is pertinent to note that last year in June, the Andhra government had passed an order prohibiting temple lands from being sold or given on long lease to companies and individuals.

China is Urging People To Eat Less Meat -- Which Could have a Big Climate Impact

Posted on 2016/6/26 20:50:09 ( 1184 reads )


CHINA, June 26, 2016 (by Brad Plumer, vox.com): Here in the US, the Obama administration has been reluctant to encourage people to eat less meat for health and environmental reasons. The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines, for instance, remained fairly muted on the topic after fierce lobbying by the meat industry. But in China, where livestock emissions are soaring and obesity is on the rise, officials are being far less circumspect. The Chinese Nutrition Society (CNS) is now enlisting celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, director James Cameron, and actress Li Bingbing in a nationwide campaign urging people to cut their meat consumption in half -- in line with new dietary recommendations. The campaign, taglined "Less Meat, Less Heat, More Life," will tout the climate benefits of lower meat consumption and feature PSAs on billboards and televisions across China.

If all 1.3 billion people in China were to follow this advice -- a big "if," but just to illustrate -- global agricultural emissions would drop 12 percent. That, in turn, would cause total greenhouse gas emissions to fall roughly 1.5 percent, more than the entire annual output of France and Belgium combined. And the savings would get bigger and bigger over the next few decades. We'd get about one-twelfth of the emission cuts needed to stay below 2 C, the report calculates. Now, obviously getting people to eat less meat will take more than the Terminator on a few glitzy billboards. But it does show how outsize an impact diets can have on climate emissions, something I've written about before. It doesn't have to entail going full vegetarian -- even just whittling down portions can make a dent.

For more, go to source

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