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Hindus Object to CNN Show on Hinduism, "Believer"


Posted on 2017/3/6 19:34:59 ( 799 reads )

Source

UNITED STATES, March 6, 2017 (Hindu American Foundation Press Release): Last week, the Hindu American Foundation offices began receiving calls and emails raising concerns about the manner in which Hinduism is presented in the first episode of Reza Aslan's new show "Believer," premiering on CNN, Sunday, March 5th. The episode focuses on the Aghori sect in Varanasi, India, whose sadhus deliberately appear and behave in ways alien to common Hindu practice, all in an effort to transcend dualities and realize spiritual oneness. Though renunciation is a key part of Hindu practice broadly speaking, Aghori babas are the epitome of the spiritual occult and stand apart from other sadhus in most ways. The deeply mystical -- sometimes revolting -- practices of Aghoris, a sect comprising the smallest minority of Hindu sampradayas (spiritual traditions), has long invited the spotlight of foreign journalists. And too often, that spotlight has not been kind.

Religious literacy in the United States about Hinduism, as every Hindu American knows, is woefully inadequate. The Pew Religious Knowledge Survey of 2013 found that only 36% of Americans could answer a single question about Hinduism: Whether Shiva and Vishnu were Deities associated with Hinduism. When the knowledge deficit is so stark, and minority communities are facing a rise in hate incidents across the US -- a Hindu American was killed and Sikh American was shot in likely hate crimes in the past week -- why would Aslan and CNN sensationalize the Aghoris as a primetime introduction to the faith of a billion Hindus, most of whom have never seen or met an Aghori?

When National Geographic, with Morgan Freeman, moved forward with its series on religion, The Story of God, HAF was approached pre-production and asked to serve as a consultant, offering ideas and suggestions, and connecting National Geographic with an eloquent swami who beautifully contextualized, explained, and demonstrated Hindu religious practice. The result was a highly successful episode that has the potential to improve religious literacy. CNN does not appear to have sought similar counsel, and HAF was not informed of the show's production until last week. And as a result, HAF is extremely concerned that while they are not Aslan's intentions, erroneous depictions, misleading imagery, and provocative first half of the program could exacerbate Hinduphobia in the face of widespread religious illiteracy about Hinduism.

Much more on this topic at "source" above.



Rishikesh Yoga Gurus have China in a Twist


Posted on 2017/3/6 19:34:48 ( 496 reads )

Source

INDIA, March 7, 2017 (by Prachi Raturi, Times of India ): Rishikesh, believed by many to be the yoga capital of India, is also emerging as one of the biggest exporters of yoga teachers to Southeast Asia as well as China where demand for yoga is at an all-time high. An estimated 1,500 Indian yoga teachers, for instance, are believed to be teaching in China. Of these, 70 to 80% hail from Rishikesh and Haridwar, home to various yoga schools where these teachers have honed their skills. According to a report by Beijing-based Daxue Consulting, yoga is growing rapidly in China with the number of people involved in its practice rising from 4 million in 2009 to 10 million in 2014.

Mohan Bhandari, one of the first yoga teachers from Rishikesh to settle in China, says that the Chinese are very particular about learning yoga "the right way." "It is a characteristic of the Chinese that they want to learn things from people who they consider as subject natives. That is why the demand for Indian yoga teachers is high in the country."Although there are several types of yoga styles being taught in the various studios, Iyengar Yoga (which uses props) is a big hit with the Chinese. Manu Rana, another Rishikesh lad who now teaches yoga in the Fujian province of southwest China, says that Iyengar Yoga despite being tough "gives great results and has impressed many of my students."



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/3/6 19:34:38 ( 413 reads )

Source

Live morality before you talk of it. Practice meditation before you preach it. Taste goodness before you recommend it. Gain bliss before you offer it to others.
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993), founder of Chinmaya mission



How Tamils Carried Rama's Story East


Posted on 2017/3/1 17:56:07 ( 1067 reads )

Source

INDIA, February 27, 2017 (Times of India): It's a tale as old as time but the Ramayana is enjoying a sudden bout of renewed interest with a number of literary, academic and cultural interpretations offering fresh perspective on the epic. "Ramayana: A Shared Culture," a recently screened documentary film, tries to highlight the epic's global appeal as a culture sign not just in India but across 10 countries in south Asia and Southeast Asia.

Shot for the ministry of external affairs, the film directed by culture historian and filmmaker Benoy Behl shows the appeal the story of Ramayana has across diverse geographical regions starting from Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR to Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Vietnam. "The story of the Ramayana is enacted more often than any other story across the world," says Behl.

Ramayana's popularity in south and Southeast Asia could have a strong link with southern India's maritime relations with countries in the said region. "The Ramayana would have travelled, along with Sanskrit along many routes. The seafaring route would have been the main one reaching Southeast Asia. Here, the great Hindu Kingdom of Champa (which covered most of Vietnam) would have played a major role in the dissemination of the epic. The present-day Tamil Nadu region and the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, were in constant interaction with Southeast Asia. Ramayana could have travelled through these ports too."



Trindiad's Shivganga Maha Yatra


Posted on 2017/3/1 17:55:56 ( 1128 reads )

HPI

TRINDIAD, March 1, 2017 (Dr. Prithiviraj Bahadursingh, shivgangayatra@gmail.com) In February 2015, the first Shivganga Maha Yatra was held where Yatris walked from Gangadhara (Marianne river, Blanchisseuse, Trinidad, considered as Mother Ganga in Trinidad) to the Patirama Trace Shiva temple, covering 126 km over five days, carrying Ganga jala, observing maunam (silence) and doing the mental japa of "Om Namah Shivaya." The Yatra was a truly uplifting and purifying experience; it commenced with puja to Shri Trininadeshwar (a local form of Lord Shiva) at Gangadhara and culminated on the morning of Shivratri with the offering of Abhishekam to Lord Shiva and Shiva puja at the Patirama Shiva mandir.

In March 2016, the second Shivganga Maha Yatra was held where Yatris walked from Gangadhara in Blanchisseuse to Manzanilla beach on the eastern coast of Trinidad. They covered 66 km over three days.
In February 2017, Yatris walked 45 km over two days from Gangadhara in Blanchisseuse to the holy Aripo Datta Ganga, in the northern range of Trinidad. Aripo Datta Ganga is also considered to be Mother Ganga in Trinidad. The Yatra culminated with puja to Lord Shiva in the form of Sri Satchidanandeshwar at the beautiful, peaceful and divine Aripo Datta Ganga.

The Yatra was organized by the Chinmaya Mission of Trinidad and Tobago, under the leadership of H.H Swami Prakashananda. The Yatra is an annual event and in 2018, we would again be walking 126 km from Gangadhara in Blanchisseuse to Patirama Shiva mandir in Penal.




Germany's Environment Minister Says No More Meat at Official Functions


Posted on 2017/3/1 17:55:45 ( 563 reads )

Source

GERMANY, February 24, 2017 (treehugger.com): Germany's environment minister Barbara Hendricks announced earlier this week that meat and fish would no longer be served at official functions held by the Ministry of the Environment. Because animal agriculture creates such a toll on the environment, and plays a significant role in climate change and degradation of water and soil, Hendricks argues that the German government needs to do the responsible thing: "We're not telling anyone what they should eat. But we want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish."

In a country where meaty foods like bratwurst, schnitzel, and pork knuckles are synonymous with cultural identity, this announcement has, not surprisingly, created quite a stir. It's made worse by the fact that Hendricks is a member of the Social Democrats party (SPD), which is currently ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in the polls - and an election is just a few months away. Christian Schmidt, minister of agriculture, is highly critical of the decision.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out in the upcoming months. Despite widespread support for Schmidt's anti-vegetarian labeling proposals, vegetarianism and veganism in Germany has grown exponentially in recent years. Demand for meat-free products went up by 100 percent between 2010 and 2015, while demand for meat products fell by 10 percent in the same period. The global attitude toward meat is shifting, whether Merkel's party likes it or not.




Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/3/1 17:55:35 ( 438 reads )

Source

When diksha is given to a competent disciple, the guru enters into his soul, establishes himself as the disciple' inner Self and by means of his power, removes all the impurities that limit the essential nature of the disciple's Self.
-- Sarvajnananottara Agama



German Tourist Tries to Storm into Puri Temple, Attacks Priest


Posted on 2017/2/28 19:31:28 ( 695 reads )

Source

BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, February 26, 2017 (Times of India): A 35-year-old German tourist allegedly tried to barge into Puri Jagannath Temple, which is off limits to non-Hindus, and assaulted a priest for stopping his way on Sunday. As the incident created quite a flutter, the police detained the foreigner Jesus Engel Berger for interrogation on the basis of a complaint lodged by the priest Bamdeba Pujapanda.

Police said Berger, a resident of Neureichenau in Germany, tried to run inside the temple around 4.35 pm when he was stopped by Pujapanda near the Lion's gate. "When I stopped him and told him that non-Hindus cannot enter the shrine, he started arguing with me. He claimed himself to be a follower of international society for Krishna consciousness (Iskcon) and insisted me to allow him to enter the temple. Other priests also requested him to go back. But he pushed me and attacked me with a stick," Pujapanda told TOI.

Though a non-Hindu's entry into Jagannath temple is not a punishable offence in Indian Penal Code, Berger might land in trouble for assaulting Pujapanda. Police said Berger, who reached Puri three days ago, made unsuccessful attempts to enter the temple through three other gates earlier in the day. Berger, who possesses valid passport, admitted he was aware of the temple's restriction on the access of non-Hindus. "I am a staunch follower of Lord Jagannath and visited several other Hindu temples in India. Why should I not be allowed entry inside Jagannath Temple," asked Berger.



Goverment Survey Estimates 71% of Indians are Non-Vegetarians


Posted on 2017/2/28 19:31:17 ( 423 reads )

Source

INDIA, June 14, 2016 (Huffington Post): When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE, our very own desi chef Sanjeev Kapoor cooked up an authentic Gujarati pure vegetarian meal for him. More recently, when the Prime Minister was on a visit to Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto personally drove him to a local restaurant for a Mexican vegetarian dinner. The world believes that India is a predominantly vegetarian country and this belief would have only been strengthened by our Prime Minister, who seems to make sure that his frequent foreign jaunts do not in any way disturb his vegetarian food regimen.

Vegetarianism, it is often assumed is the norm in India. However, a nationwide survey, conducted by the Office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner, reveals otherwise. According to the sample registration system (SRS) baseline survey 2014 released by the registrar general of India, 71 percent of Indians [of all religioins] over the age of 15 are non-vegetarian. The percentage of non-vegetarians across the country however has dropped from 75 percent in 2004.

[HPI adds: The report is in terms of "all Indians," which is misleading in that nearly all of the 20% of Indians who are not Hindus are likely to be meateaters. What's also missing from this report is how little meat Indians eat compared to Westerners. The USA tops the world in meat consumption at 120.2 lbs per person per year, followed by Australia at 115. lbs per person. By comparison, India's meat consumption is 4.4 lbs per person per year. The only country on the list that eats less meat than India is Bangladesh at 4 lbs per person.]

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ ... cass_mass_availability.29



Help Us Select the Best Songs of Saint Tayumanavar


Posted on 2017/2/28 19:31:07 ( 440 reads )

Source

KAUAI, HAWAII, February 28, 2017 (HPI): As part of a project to create an anthology of Saivite Hindu scripture, we are requesting help in selecting the most meaningful songs of the Tamil Saint Tayumanavar. You can find the songs in Tamil at http://shaivam.org/scripture/Tamil/1189/thayumanavar-padalkal or in English at "source" above. The idea is to find songs that are inspiring and reasonably easy to understand. Send the song titles and number in English to ar@hindu.org. We're looking for the best ten or twenty of the saint's more than 1400 compositions.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/2/28 19:30:56 ( 415 reads )

Source

Give yourself up to the wave, and you will be absorbed by the current; having dived into the sea, you do not return anymore.
-- Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982),



Protecting Language Diversity in India


Posted on 2017/2/27 19:50:00 ( 567 reads )

Source

NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 27, 2017 (Press Information of Bureau): India is one of unique countries in the world that has the legacy of diversity of languages. The Constitution of India has recognised 22 official languages. Multilingualism is the way of life in India as people in different parts of the country speak more than one language from their birth and learn additional languages during their life time. Though officially there are 122 languages, Peoples Linguistic Survey of India has identified 780 languages, of which 50 are extinct in past five decades. The twenty two languages that are recognised by the Constitution are: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Kannada, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu are included in the Eight Schedule of the constitution. Among these three languages, Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada have been recognised as classical language with special status and recognition by Government of India. The classical languages have written and oral history of more than 1000 years. In comparison to these, English is very young as it has the history of only 300 years.

In addition to these scheduled and classical languages, The Constitution of India has included the clause to protect minority languages as a fundamental right. It states "Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part of thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same." The language policy of India provides guarantee to protect the linguistic minorities. Despite these efforts by the central government minority languages are under threat of extinction due to multiple causes. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the death of Boa in 2010, the last speaker of Bo language is one of those instances that have lead to extinction of Bo language with the history of 70000 years.

For more, go to source above.



Tirumala Donations Were From Common Good Fund and Not from Exchequer: Soundarajan


Posted on 2017/2/27 19:48:46 ( 471 reads )

Source

HYDERABAD, INDIA, February 23, 2017 (Telangana Today): The Temples Protection Movement convenor Dr. M. V. Soundararajan has sought to rebut the criticism that public money was used to purchase the gold ornaments offered to Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala by the Chief Minsiter K. Chandrashekhar Rao, by pointing out that the total of US$745,000 was spent from the Common Good Fund (CGF) of the Endowments department and not from the public exchequer.

In a statement here on Thursday, Dr. Soundararajan argued that the CGF is based on a percentage of Hindu temples' income and it did not constitute any money from the taxpayer. That the expenses for making the ornaments were met from the CGF were mentioned in a GO No 23 dated 24.2.2015, he pointed out.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had in the past donated crores of rupees to this CGF before bifurcation of the State and 42 per cent of the same fund is now part of the Telangana CGF fund. "If Rs 5 Crore ($745,000) is used to adorn the Lord with ornaments we should not be raising any hue and cry for the same," He argued.



Bengaluru: Special Darshan at Tirupati for Seniors and Physically Challenged


Posted on 2017/2/27 19:48:36 ( 527 reads )

Source

BENGALURU, INDIA, February 24, 2017 (Deccan Chronicle): There is good news for senior citizens and differently-abled people who visit Tirumala for darshan of the Lord Venkateshwara. They can now have the darshan without having to wait in long queues and going through the jostling. They can just get in and have the darshan. They have to report two hours before the darshan time, with age proof (65 years and above) ID cards and relevant medical certificates. There are two time slots fixed - one at 10 am and another at 3 pm.

At the time of the darshan for these groups, all other queues are stopped, and darshan for only senior citizens and the differently-abled is allowed to ensure that there is no crowd pressure. The entire darshan will take just 30 minutes. Devotees who avail of the darshan under the scheme cannot avail of it for another 90 days.



Text of Prime Minister's Speech at Unveiling of 112 Foot Statue of "Adiyogi - The Shiva"


Posted on 2017/2/27 19:48:19 ( 473 reads )

Source

[HPI adds: A 112-foot iconic statue of Adiyogi Lord Shiva was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Isha Foundation in Coimbatore on the occasion of Maha Sivaratri.]

INDIA, February 24, 2017 (Press Information Bureau): "My loving greetings to all. It is my honor to be here, in this august gathering. That too, on the auspicious occasion of Maha-Shivratri. There are many festivals, but this one is pre-fixed with 'Maha.' Indeed, there are many Devs, but only one Maha-Dev. There are many Mantras, but the Mantra which is identified with Lord Shiva, is called Maha-Mrityunjayi Mantra. Such is the glory of Lord Shiva.

"Maha-Shivratri symbolizes a union of divinity with a purpose, of overcoming darkness and injustice. It inspires us to be courageous and fight for good. It marks the shift of seasons, from the cold to the lively spring and brightness. Maha-Shivratri celebrations go on for the entire night. This symbolizes a spirit of vigilance- that we have to protect nature and mould our activities in sync with our ecological surroundings.

"Standing here before this 112-feet face of Adiyogi and the Yogeshwar Linga, we are experiencing a colossal presence enveloping everyone in this space. In the times to come, the place where we have gathered is going to be a source of inspiration for all, a place to immerse one's self and discover truth. It will remind us of the inclusive spirit of Lord Shiva. Today, Yoga has come a long way."

Full text available at "source" above.

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