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Conversion to Christianity is a Low-Key affair, Reconversion to Hinduism is Shrill and Blunt
Posted on 2015/1/23 17:58:47 ( 541 reads )

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INDIA, January 24, 2015 (by Seema Kamdar, DNA): The brouhaha over "coming back home" sits a bit oddly with a long-accepted practice of conversion by coercion or inducements in India. While the Mughals used force to augment their religious strength, various sects of Christianity have unerringly and silently set up bases in untended territories of the country or sought out neglected sections of society such as tribals and underprivileged categories to pursue their proselytization agenda. This explains the growing number of Christians in the North-east, Odisha and Dang, all developmentally weaker regions neglected by successive governments.

In the true Indian tradition of saam (advice), daam (price), dand (punishment), bheda (exploitation), conversions continue to be a part of India's complex politico-religious narrative. The difference in the ghar wapsi furor is perhaps the pitch at which it is being sold and the tacky way in which it is being done. Given the measly numbers being reconverted, they should not even be noticed, let alone hog the headlines.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/1/23 17:58:41 ( 387 reads )

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The unloving belong only to themselves, but the loving belong to others to their very bones.
-- Tirukkural

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Dubious Evangelism Makes Ghar Wapsi Pale in Comparison
Posted on 2015/1/21 16:43:09 ( 1081 reads )

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INDIA, January 14, 2015 (Swarajya): The national Indian debate about the recent ghar wapsi reconversion drive of some Hindu organizations bypasses the broader narrative of ongoing, aggressive campaign by Christian missionary organisations. Over the past month, Indian media has tirelessly covered and attacked the RSS for its plans to convert several thousand Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. The press hubbub was largely stirred up by parties in the Opposition such as the defeated Indian National Congress, which criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though these reconversions were not sanctioned by a government entity.

The last official Indian census to publish statistics about the nation's religious demography was in 2001. At that time, 2.34 per cent of the nation's population were reported to be Christians; 14 years have passed since the survey, and many Christians and Hindus alike estimate that this percentage has greatly increased in the intervening years.

Rather than using ghar wapsi as yet another obvious opportunity to criticise the RSS and the Modi government, the event should instead be used to force a larger, urgent and direly needed discussion regarding the ethics and practice of predatory proselytization that continues to endanger India's religious harmony and pluralistic ethos.

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Thais to Return Looted Cambodian Antiquities
Posted on 2015/1/21 16:43:03 ( 1005 reads )

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PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, January 19, 2015 (Turkish Press): Thailand is to return ancient Khmer artifacts looted from temples during the turmoil of the 1970s, Cambodian officials said Monday. According to the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, dozens of stolen relics were confiscated by Thai authorities in 1999 and Thailand has now agreed to return 16.

A report in the Phnom Penh Post on Monday said the artifacts to be returned were among a stash of several thousand Hindu and Buddhist statues and other antiquities held by a senior Thai police official.

Kuong said seven of 43 confiscated items were returned to Cambodia in 2009 and a joint commission has arranged the return of a further 16. "There are 20 remaining, and the ministries of culture from the two countries continue to work with each other on the rest," he added. Looting was rife during the 1970s, when Cambodia was torn apart by civil war and the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge.

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Mega Vedic Ritual Begins
Posted on 2015/1/21 16:42:56 ( 1137 reads )

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INDIA, January 21, 2015 (The Hindu): Mega Vedic ritual Aptoryamam got off to a start on the sprawling premises at Gargeyapuram near here on Tuesday. The ritual will go on for 13 days with over 125 priests performing various rituals during the course of the period.

Kesapragada Harihara Sarma, who officiated the program, said a similar kind of string of rituals was believed to have been performed 70 years ago in Rayalaseema. The Mahahomam was being organized with the objective of achieving harmony with nature and balanced rainfall, bountiful crops, peace and happiness.

Vedic Scholars Narendra Swami and Kesav Avadhani from Maharashtra took part in the celebrations on the first day. The program started with pradakshina, making of holy fire and sankalpam.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/1/21 16:42:50 ( 975 reads )

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Wealth's Goddess dwells in the hospitable home of those who host guests with a smiling face.
-- Tirukkural

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Pakistan's Supreme Court Orders Government to Introduce Hindu Marriage Act in Two Weeks
Posted on 2015/1/18 17:54:01 ( 1792 reads )

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ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN, January 13, 2015 (Pakistan Christian Post): HPI note: The issue here is difficulty for Hindus obtaining government certificates recognizing their marriages, especially in Sindh Province.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Supreme Court Honorable Nasir-ul-Mulk, while hearing a case on the non-implementation of the 19th June detailed Supreme Court Orders for the protection of Minorities Rights, has ordered Federal and Provincial Governments to ensure meetings with Patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani to discuss minorities security situation and submissions of minutes of meetings in this regard during next hearing on February 11.

"Officials representing federal and provincial governments including five IGs, four Chief Secretaries, Advocate General, Attorney General and Chairman NADRA appeared to the Supreme Court to present reports on this issue", Dr. Ramesh informed adding that five percent quota in government jobs, Hindu Marriage Act and the Task Force for the Protection of Minorities Worship places were the key issues under discussion during the hearing.

The Supreme Court has ordered the Attorney General to ensure to pass the Hindu Marriage Act Bill, as recommended by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, from the Federal Cabinet within two weeks.

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17th Century Ramayana Manuscript under Lock and Key after Theft
Posted on 2015/1/18 17:53:55 ( 1606 reads )

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VARANASI, INDIA, August 10, 2014 (The Hindu): On December 22, 2011 when the only original pandulipi (manuscript) of Sri Ramcharitmanas (also referred to as the Ramayana) dated Samvat 1704 (1648 AD) and a few precious articles of its writer, Goswami Tulsidas, were stolen from the Hanuman temple in the Akhara Goswami Tulsidas on Tulsi Ghat, the Mishra family was shocked. Its then Mahant or head priest, a noted environmentalist and professor at IIT-BHU, Veer Bhadra Mishra, had to face charges of theft conspiracy.

It led to massive search operations by the Varanasi police, which was "informally" aided by the CBI and the intelligence agencies as it was feared that these rare articles could be smuggled abroad. It took seven months before the police recovered all the articles -- the rare pandulipi of Sri Ramcharitmanas, the piece of Goswami Tulsidas' boat and a few ornaments of the temple -- from two people in Varanasi. "But this theft changed everything...The articles that were so far available for public viewing were safely locked only to be taken out once every year to celebrate the Tulsi Jayanti," says Professor V.N. Mishra, son of Professor Veer Bhadra Mishra, who is now the Mahant.

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PM Releases Gujarati Translation of Thirukkural on Thiruvalluvar Day
Posted on 2015/1/18 17:53:49 ( 1600 reads )

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INDIA, January 16, 2015 (Press Information Bureau): The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today released the Gujarati translation of Thirukkural, which holds a prime place among the classical literary works of Tamil.

On Thiruvalluvar Day, the Prime Minister also paid homage to the great poet and philosopher. "I bow to the great Thiruvalluvar. Simple and vast in scope, his thoughts & writings have been a strong influence on humanity for centuries," the Prime Minister said.

The ideas expressed in Thirukkural are so universal that even after almost two millennia they are still relevant and revered. Thirukkural does not refer to any nation, leader, society, language, religion or caste in the entire book, which is why it has been called the "Universal Veda."

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/1/18 17:53:42 ( 1560 reads )

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Go to God. Whatever name, whatever form you worship is no problem. Just go to Him. He accepts all names and all forms. If God can be worshiped in only one way then He is not God!
-- Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji), president of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh

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Haryana State to Make Yoga Compulsory
Posted on 2015/1/17 17:48:35 ( 1696 reads )

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INDIA, January 14, 2015 (The Hindu): The BJP Government in Haryana has decided to make yoga compulsory in all the educational institutions in the state and would be introducing Haryana Premier League to promote indigenous and village games such as gatka, bullock-cart racing and kabbadi. It would also construct about 6,500 village level stadiums or vyayamshalas to take sports into the hinterland.

This and a slew of others measures to promote sports in the State were announced by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Sports Minister Anil Vij at a function in Rohtak where the broad contours of the Haryana Physical Activities and Sports Policy-2015 were spelt out.

Mr. Vij declared that yoga will be given special emphasis as part of physical fitness for all age groups. It will be introduced in all educational institutions in the State and will be made compulsory in all schools. The Education Department would include yoga as a subject in the curricula of all degree and diploma level programs of physical education and the State would organise camps and competitions at various levels for different segments and age-groups.

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Tamil Community Celebrates Ponggal
Posted on 2015/1/17 17:48:20 ( 0 reads )

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, January 15, 2015 (The Sun Daily): The Tamil community in Malaysia today celebrated Ponggal, a harvest festival that expresses gratitude to God, the Sun, the Earth and the milk-bearing cow. Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R. S. Mohan Shan said Ponggal is celebrated in January (14 or 15), coinciding with Thai, the 10th month in the Tamil calendar, and following the harvest season in India.

"The Tamil community believes that the advent of the month of Thai brings with it good luck and a new ray of hope, and I hope that the community will exercise more thrift for a more comfortable year," he told Bernama. Mohan Shan explained that the celebration would begin with the Bhogi, a day earlier when everything old was burnt, along with negative thoughts.

The following day, the community would cook rice and milk with brown sugar in a new earthen pot until the milk overflows, to indicate abundance, and offer this to the Sun God, he said. "The second day of the celebration, called Maattu Ponggal, is dedicated to the cow, which is held in high esteem by Hindus, while the third day of Kanni Ponggal is celebrated specially by unmarried girls in the hope of getting a good husband," he added.

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Finding a New Way to Teach About Hinduism in America's Schools
Posted on 2015/1/17 17:48:14 ( 1782 reads )

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UNITED STATES, January 9, 2015 (Huffington Post, by Murali Balaji): While there have been some improvements--most textbooks now reject the Aryan Invasion Theory and give some more mention of Hindu philosophy, the factual errors continue to dominate the content that students across the country read when learning about Hinduism.

The Hindu American Foundation's (HAF) recent involvement in the Texas textbook adoption process, which yielded dramatic changes to the way Hinduism is represented, draws attention to a bigger issue: how states and localities continue to draft their content standards and frameworks to describe the religion.

The central issue is that Hinduism is uncomfortably and awkwardly fit into a model that focuses on historical chronology, when most Hindus don't view their faith as something that can be pegged into specific eras. The standards and frameworks writing has even drawn objections from history educators and religion scholars, who argue that limiting mention of Hinduism to a specific era deprives us of our understanding of the faith as a living, evolving tradition.

More at 'source'.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/1/17 17:48:08 ( 1407 reads )

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You shine, all living things emerge. You disappear, they go to rest. Recognizing our innocence, O golden-haired Sun, arise; let each day be better than the last. Rig Veda (X, 37, 9)

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Smithsonian Releases Massive Digitized Collection of Asian Treasures for Public Use
Posted on 2015/1/16 17:48:40 ( 1672 reads )

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UNITED STATES, January 4, 2015 (Ancient Origins): The Smithsonian Institution has released more than 44,000 images of precious artworks and artifacts from two of their museums of Asian art, many of which have never been shown publicly before. The galleries are the first Smithsonian museums and first Asian art museums to digitize and share their collections on the internet.

The images come from the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The digital collection, which took several years to complete, includes ancient ceramics and spear heads dating back more than 6,000 years, bronze swords, ancient armor, intricate manuscripts, gold and silver jewelry, ceremonial objects, toys, beautiful paintings, textiles and costumes, and ancient Persian and Egyptian artifacts.

The images are provided without copyright restrictions for non-commercial use. "Now, a new generation can not only appreciate these works on their own terms, but remix this content in ways we have yet to imagine," Courtney O'Callaghan, the galleries' director of digital media and technology, said in a statement.

To access the images, go to http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/edan/default.cfm. A quick search for "India" yielded over 1,300 images.

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