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Final Rites for Pramukh Swami Maharaj

Posted on 2016/8/18 10:18:13 ( 1383 reads )


SARANGPUR, INDIA, August 17, 2016 (press release): HPI note: Complete video coverage of the ceremony is available at "source" above. Since Saturday, 13th August, after HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj abandoned his mortal body, almost 2.1 million devotees paid tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj in four days. Thousands of dignitaries from various walks of life also arrived at Sarangpur for Swamishri's last darshan to offer their respects.

On the day of his final rites, Wednesday, 17th August, HH Mahant Swami and Shri Morari Bapu performed arti at 7:45 am. Shortly thereafter, BJP National Head Shri Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu, Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Nitin Patel and Gujarat BJP head Shri Jitubhai Vaghani arrived at Sarangpur to pay their obeisances.

Thereafter, around 11 am, HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj's palanquin was taken by sadhus all the way from the ground where his body was laid to rest for darshan to his residence where senior sadhus performed the panchamrit snan ritual. Around 3:00 pm, he was placed in a palanquin and was taken into the mandir grounds where more than 200,000 devotees had assembled for the last rites. The atmosphere in the mandir precincts was solemn and awash with profound devotion of devotees.

After 3:45 pm, Swamishri's palanquin was placed on the funeral pyre, comprising of neatly arranged logs and neem wood. Shri LK Advani and Yogacharya Baba Ramdevji offered their tributes to HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Sadguru P. Ishwarcharan Swami extolled the greatness of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and said, "It was Swamishri's wish to have his final rites performed on this place in order to behold Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj in the main mandir and remain in the divine sight of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj from the Smruti Mandir."

Shri Ramdevji Maharaj offered his respects saying, "Pramukh Swami Maharaj descended on earth by God's will and he left by God's will. He shall continue to enlighten us all by his divine consciousness."

Thereafter the Janmangal Namavali was recited. HH Mahant Swami performed the ritual of smearing chandan on Pramukh Swami's forehead and ghee on his holy feet, followed by arti and mantrapushpanjali. Hundreds of thousands of people watched HH Mahant Swami circumambulate the funeral pyre while holding the bundle of burning straw, ignited from the holy flame brought from Aksharderi, Gondal. Senior sadhus followed suit. Amidst Vedic chantings, HH Mahant Swami set alight the funeral pyre. Subsequently, there was an eruption of tears and cries from all corners of the assembly.

Spiritual Guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj Passes Away

Posted on 2016/8/16 19:01:26 ( 1271 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, August 13, 2016 (The Hindu Business Line): Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual guru and head of Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sansthan (BAPS) of Swaminarayan sect passed away on Saturday at his ashram located at Sarangpur. He was 95. Fondly known as Swami among his disciples, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, after a brief illness of about a month, breathed his last on Saturday at 6 p.m, reports said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over his death. Modi tweeted, "HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a stalwart among humans who embodied compassion & humility. His service to society will always be remembered." Modi wrote in his second tweet, "HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a mentor to me. I will never forget my interactions with him. Will miss his presence."

Born on December 7, 1921 to a Patel family of Chansad village near Vadodara, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was named Shantilal Patel and later ordained as Shastri Narayanswarupdas. He received initiation as a Hindu Swami in 1940 from Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS. He was made president ("pramukh") of BAPS in 1950. Former head and spiritual guru, Yogiji Maharaj declared Pramukh Swami Maharaj as his spiritual successor and guru of BAPS in 1971.

86-Year-Old Makes Amazing Transformation With Yoga

Posted on 2016/8/16 19:01:15 ( 1367 reads )


UNITED STATES, August 9, 2016 (Yogadork): At almost 87-years-young Anna Pesce is inspiring people of all ages with her incredible transformation thanks to her new dedication to yoga practice. For decades, Pesce suffered from severe kyphosis -- a hunchback-like posture that left her in a lot of pain. The condition was a result of a herniated disc, scoliosis and osteoporosis.

She tried lots of different things to help. "I tried everything: acupuncture, a physical therapist and seeing a chiropractor," Pesce told the NY Post. "You feel good temporarily, but [I'd be] in pain again soon after." Pesce started working with yoga teacher Rachel Jesien who is trained specifically in spinal issues and has scoliosis herself. The two began meeting once a week to practice restorative yoga and stretches to alleviate pain and build strength. After one month, Pesce could walk again. After two months, she was already doing poses on her own whenever pain flared up.

Yoga has been shown to help treat, prevent, and even in some cases reverse orthopedic problems. It's become increasingly popular with physical therapists and other healthcare professionals as more and more people experience positive results.

Photos at "source" above.

India has Just 33,304 Self-declared Atheists

Posted on 2016/8/16 19:01:05 ( 955 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA August 15, 2016 (En.Prothom.Alo): There's a new minority to contend with and, at a little over 33,000, they are fewer in number than the Parsis. But the unbelieving atheists-counted separately for the first time in Census 2011 -- just cannot agree with the figure. To be precise, only 33,304 of India's 1.2 billion citizens have declared themselves as atheists in the census-a minuscule 0.0027 per cent. China, by comparison, is 61% atheist and the UK is 13%. In an overtly and fervently religious country, this low figure may not come as a surprise, but atheists are simply not buying it. They accuse the powers that be of everything from "dishonesty" to "unscientific" methodology-all aimed at "mischievously" skewing the data.

"There are millions of people in India who don't subscribe to any caste or religion. They call themselves atheists, rationalists or non-religious people," says G. Vijayam, Executive Director of the Atheist Centre in Vijayawada. "When you say there are only a few thousand atheists, it's a distortion of reality," Vijayam told IANS. "This is mischief done by orthodox people and the Census authorities, and it must be corrected." In any case, the non-believers are upbeat. Ghosh, for instance, contends 22 per cent of the world population is now atheist, and that the number is growing. He believes the trend will be replicated in India as well. Adds Vijayam: "Atheism has come to stay. It's a worldwide phenomenon and when opportunity comes they all will come out of religion."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/8/16 19:00:55 ( 847 reads )


"To listen to some devout people, one would imagine God never laughs."
-- Sri Aurobindo

One Arrested with Stolen Artifacts in Nepal

Posted on 2016/8/14 19:36:24 ( 1043 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, Aug 10, 2016 (My Republica): Nepal Police has arrested a member of a gang of six to seven youths allegedly involved in stealing artifacts and antique murthis from quake-devastated buildings, temples and other structures. The police apprehended 19-year-old Prakash Raut, originally from Sindhupalchowk district, after he was found hauling away a heavy sack on his shoulder around midnight Sunday from Asan-27 of Kathmandu. "When we inspected his sack we found antique murthis along with the other items," said DSP Binod Ghimire, chief of Metropolitan Police Circle Office, Janasewa. The murthis seem very old and of immense archeological importance, he said, adding that most of the items are ones used for Hindu prayers.

During the interrogation, Raut, who lives in a rented room near Shiva-Parvati temple in Basantapur, that he was involved only in transferring the items. The police has claimed that the gang of six to seven people was involved in stealing murthis from homes and temples and selling them for handsome prizes. "We have tracked all the suspects but yet to arrest them," said Inspector Raj Maharjan of the office. The police also said that they were preparing to hand over the seized murthis to the Archaeological Department for further examination and send the alleged to police custody for further interrogation.

FSSAI Bans Silver Leaf of Animal Origin in Food Items

Posted on 2016/8/14 19:36:13 ( 1044 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 3, 2016 (Times of India): Now, be assured of vegetarian sweets. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has banned the use of any material of animal origin in silver leaf (chandi ka warq), commonly used in confectionaries and sweets like barfi for decoration and also in pan and packaged supari.

According to sources in the ministry, the move comes in the wake of concerns over use of intestines of cows and buffaloes in making these thin strips of silver. "The silver leaf is prepared by placing small thin strips of silver between the intestines of cows and buffaloes and continuously hammering these bundles for up to eight hour a day till desired thickness of silver leaf is achieved," an official said. He said the process was found to be offensive and unhygienic posing potential risk to consumers. Moreover, such silver sheets do not carry any green dot or maroon dot. Hence, consumers fail to differentiate between a vegetarian and non-vegetarian product.

What Happened When the Olympic Committee Tried to Exclude Brazil's African Faiths

Posted on 2016/8/14 19:36:03 ( 1079 reads )


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 12, 2016 (RNS): The International Olympic Committee had chosen only five "official" religions for the interfaith center. According to the Rio 2016 Olympic organizing committee, the choice of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism was based on IOC research that showed most athletes follow those faiths. But the IOC found itself facing heavy criticism for failing to consider the possibility that some Brazilian competitors could be Candomble and Umbanda adherents and in need of pastoral support as well.

Mother Fatima Damas and other Brazilian-African religious leaders lobbied the government to overturn the decision. The exclusion was eventually dropped. Both Candomble and Umbanda are a fusion of different beliefs and multiple deities. The faiths are rooted in African spiritual traditions with elements blended from Roman Catholicism. Brazil has more than 58,800 followers of African religions, and a significant number are concentrated in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The Rev. Leandro Lenin, the coordinator of the interfaith center, recently visited all 31 buildings in the Olympic village and posted information on notice boards about the center and the availability of various religious leaders to give counsel and comfort to the 17,000 athletes, coaches and other support staff. "Whatever faith they follow, athletes competing in the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games will always find a place to worship in the village," he said. So far, no one has taken up the offer to see a Candomble or Umbanda priest, Lenin said.

More at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/8/14 19:35:53 ( 842 reads )


As you pray to God for devotion, so also pray that you may not find fault with anyone.
-- Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886)

His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj Passes Away

Posted on 2016/8/13 11:03:03 ( 2917 reads )


AHMEDABAD, INDIA, August 13, 2016 (press release): Today, August 13 2016, at 6.00 p.m. (IST), the spiritual head of BAPS, celebrated for his worldwide socio-spiritual services, HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed away at the pilgrimage place of Sarangpur, Gujarat, at the age of 95.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor in the guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. For more than seven decades he travelled tirelessly, visiting over 17,000 towns and villages in India and abroad. However, for the last two years, because of age and frail health, he had been residing at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur under the able care of expert doctors.

Most recently, Pramukh Swami Maharaj had been affected by a chest infection from which he had gradually recovered. However, due to his longstanding heart problems, he passed away peacefully at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born on December 7, 1921 to a humble farmer's family in the small village of Chansad, near Vadodara in Gujarat. In 1939, he renounced home to become a renunciate and received initiation into the sadhu-fold from his guru, Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj and was named Sadhu Narayanswarupdas.

On completing his Sanskrit studies, he was appointed as the kothari of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur in 1946 at the age of 25. Then in 1950, at the age of 28, Shastriji Maharaj selected him as the President (Pramukh) of BAPS in his place. Since then, he had been fondly known as "Pramukh Swami."

Shastriji Maharaj passed away in 1951, declaring Yogiji Maharaj as his spiritual successor. Thereafter, Pramukh Swami served under the guidance and blessings of Yogiji Maharaj. In 1971, after the departure of guru Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj succeeded him as the fifth spiritual guru of BAPS. Over the next 45 years, his unremitting satsang travels, selfless services to society, saintly virtues and profound devotion to God earned him the respect and reverence of countless worldwide.

His untiring efforts in uplifting lives, liberating thousands from vices and addictions, providing relief and rehabilitation to innumerable people in times of calamity and catastrophe, and inspiring character and faith in hundreds of thousands of children and youths were some of his many outstanding services to society.

He also created and consecrated over 1,100 mandirs worldwide and grand cultural complexes like Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar to portray the cultural and spiritual heritage of India.

Renowned spiritual masters and heads of state have been deeply touched by his humility, saintliness and noble works. These include His Holiness The Dalai Lama, India's late president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman al Khalifa of Bahrain, and many royals, heads of state and other dignitaries. All were profoundly touched by Swamishri's spiritual personality and humanitarian services to society.

The news of his earthly departure has created a pall of deep sadness among countless devotees and well-wishers. Devotees and well-wishers are in Sarangpur for his last darshan and to pay their final respects to him.

Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami, a senior sadhu of the BAPS, made an official statement that His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been revered by countless people throughout the world. To cater to the large influx of people, arrangements for his final darshan at Sarangpur have been made from 7:00m onwards, Sunday, 14 August 2016 to 11:00am Wednesday, 17 August 2016. During this period, darshan will continue for 24 hours. The cremation rites will be performed on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 at 3:00pm in the precincts of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir complex in Sarangpur.

The final cremation rites will be broadcast live on www.live.baps.org at 3:00pm, Wednesday, 17 August 2016.

Pujya Doctor Swami also added that four years ago, on 20 July 2012, HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj had declared in a letter that HH Keshavjivandas Swami (Mahant Swami) would succeed him as the guru of BAPS. Thus, Pujya Mahant Swami is the president of BAPS and the sixth spiritual head in the gunatit guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Henceforth, he will steer BAPS and further the great teachings and works of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Tributes to his life can be sent to tributes@in.baps.org. For more details refer to psm.baps.org. www.baps.org https://www.youtube.com/user/BAPSChannel https://twitter.com/BAPS https://www.facebook.com/bapsswaminarayansanstha

About BAPS
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots - their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.

About Pramukh Swami Maharaj
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. Pramukh Swami Maharaj travelled from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity touched many around the world.

Georgetown University, Washington DC, Appoints First Full-Time Director for Hindu Life

Posted on 2016/8/12 19:47:24 ( 2102 reads )


WASHINGTON, USA, August 10, 2016 (The Hoya): Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan will serve as Georgetown's first full-time director for Hindu life starting this fall, making him the first Hindu priest chaplain in the United States, according to a campus-wide email sent by Interim Vice President for Mission and Ministry Rev. Howard Gray. Sharan is also Georgetown's second Hindu chaplain after Pratima Dharm, who resigned in January 2015. Dharm had previously served as the United States Army's first Hindu chaplain. Before joining Georgetown, Sharan was honorary Hindu chaplain at the University of Edinburgh since 2010.

Sharan has had significant experience in both the practice and teaching of Hindu traditions. He was initiated in 2003 at Shri Golok Dham Ashram where he is currently a senior monk. Sharan completed further training at Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram and is an acharya, a trainer of Hindu priests known as pandits. Sharan received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit from the University of Edinburgh in 2015. He also served as a lecturer of Asian religions at Cardiff University in Wales and as a senior teaching fellow in Sanskrit at the University of London in England.

Gray said Sharan will become part of a passionate Hindu community -- consisting of around 400 students and faculty members -- at Georgetown. "Br. Sharan was drawn to Georgetown by its commitment to interreligious student formation, and by the vibrancy of the university's Hindu community," Gray wrote in the email. In addition to his work in as director for Hindu life, Sharan will serve as a chaplain-in-residence in New South Hall.

Dancing Shiva: Indian Villagers Still Waiting for the Return of Their Stolen Statue

Posted on 2016/8/12 19:47:14 ( 1067 reads )


INDIA, August 8, 2016 (ABC News): In Sripuranthan's temple, the village's Hindu priest recites a hymn and makes offerings to the God Nataraja -- the dancing Shiva -- seeking the blessing of village elder Subramaniam. But where the town's prized, 900-year-old bronze Shiva statue should stand is a mere poster. Two years after the Australian National Gallery gave a stolen sculpture back to India, it remains in police storage -- and the south Indian villagers awaiting its return say they still do not know when their prized Dancing Shiva will come home.

Outside, Subramaniam says villagers' pleas for its return have so far been ignored. "We've asked the Government to have the statue back. It is very sad that the Government has not returned it to us," he says. The statue sits locked in police storage, as evidence against the man accused of masterminding its theft, Subhash Kapoor.

Thieves broke into the temple in 2006, making off with the valuable icon. Kapoor, who is in prison in India awaiting trial after being extradited from the US, then allegedly forged documents about its origin, and ultimately sold it to the Australian National Gallery. The statue was brought back for one festival, but police then took it away again. With fresh allegations still being made against Kapoor, the case against the accused thief is likely to drag on for years.

A short video can be viewed at "source" above.

New Federal Overtime Law Raises Concerns For Nonprofit Industry

Posted on 2016/8/12 19:47:04 ( 982 reads )


FLORIDA, USA, August 10, 2016 (by Renata Sago, WGCU News): HPI Note: This article is on a technical subject which could potentially impact Hindu temples in the US. We're not offering any advice on just how this applies to a temple, but it is something for temple trustees and administrators to be aware of and to consult with their attorneys and accountants about.

A new law will raise the salary threshold for overtime across the country. All those extra hours that went into a void will have a paycheck attached to them come December. But for employees at nonprofits, that's not so simple. In an industry where fundraising is king and long hours, queen, administrators are scrambling to figure out how they'll comply with the new law. But come December, the Council and mission-based nonprofits like it will have to track that. It used to be if a federal workers made $23,660 they were exempt from overtime pay. The new law nearly doubles that amount to $47,476.

David Thompson with the National Council of Nonprofits says it does not take much analysis to see this new law will put nonprofits across the country between a rock and a hard place. In a recent national survey he found many are bracing themselves to pay overtime. "A third said that they're going to have to reduce staff to make ends meet and another third said they're going to have to reduce services," he adds. "To a nonprofit, reducing services is the absolute worst thing you could do.

"But national workers' rights groups like Jobs with Justice--also a non-profit--can think of one thing that is worse: employee burnout. "That leads to people leaving," says labor policy analyst Michael Wasser. "Making sure that they can go home and recharge can have long-term sustaining benefits because you don't have to go out and recruit, train up, rebuild that knowledge." But, experts expect tough decisions in the coming months from agencies that get state and federal grants, which have special rules for how nonprofits can use them.

Nonprofits aside, Mark Neuberger, employment attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP, says how employers deal with overtime is simply counterintuitive. "The law was passed at a time when men--and I mean men--went to work--and if the man wore a white shirt, they didn't get overtime and if they wore a blue shirt, they punched the clock and got overtime. Life today is not nearly so simple." He says the law could change depending on who gets elected in November.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/8/12 19:46:53 ( 865 reads )


"The downfall of a religous sect begins from the day that the worship of the rich enters into it."
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

Big Turnout at National Hindu Talks in Fiji

Posted on 2016/8/8 14:29:49 ( 1773 reads )


SUVA, FIJI, August 7, 2016 (Fiji Sun): The third National Hindu conference attracted all Hindu volunteers, organizations and temples to showcase their contribution to Fiji. The event at Studio 6 in Suva yesterday drew at least 200 delegates from government agencies, businesses, volunteers and Hindu organisations.

President of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Fiji, Jay Dayal said: "The conference provided a platform to address how successful Hindus have been serving their communities." "This was in line with our conference theme Serving Community, Serving Fiji." Mr. Patel said the one of the major task undertaken by the VHP was their enormous involvement in the relief work for post Cyclone Winston.

High Commissioner of India to Fiji, Shri Vishvas Sapkal, said it was heartening to note that people of Fiji had retained their cultural values and developed organizations to preserve and sustain them. The conference ends today.

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