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Mahabharata Historian Gets Research Reins
Posted on 2014/7/14 17:35:15 ( 530 reads )

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NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 2, 2014 (Telegraph India): A retired history professor who has written articles arguing that stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are truthful accounts of events that took place has been named chief of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the government agency to promote historical research.

Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, whose interests include Vedic literature, Sanatana Dharma and Bharatiya Sanskriti, set the tone for his three-year tenure after taking charge on Saturday. Under his leadership, the ICHR, he told The Telegraph, should take up projects to rewrite ancient history to establish the "continuous Indian civilization," including the period of the two epics.

"The stories of the Ramayaan and the Mahabharata cannot be termed a-historical just because there is not enough archaeological hard evidence. Excavations cannot be done in many places since people are living there and you cannot evict them," explained Rao.

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Victoria, BC, Canada Holds India Cultural Festival
Posted on 2014/7/14 17:35:09 ( 393 reads )

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VICTORIA, BC CANADA, June 27, 2014 (Times Colonist): Music, movies, dance and the auspicious arrangement of home furniture are featured in this year's Cultural and Arts Festival of India at the Victoria Hindu Temple. A Mosaic of Music, Movies and Dance is this year's cultural theme for the festival, running today and Sunday, and the temple wants to honor more than 100 years of Indian film.

Suresh Basrur, temple trustee, said the first Indian movie was created in 1913, a silent picture called Raja Harishchandra. Indian cinema has since exploded into the colossal, colorful art form it is now. Other elements of this year's festival are palm readings, astrology sessions and the always popular (and hilarious) lessons in how to wear a sari.

The Victoria Hindu Temple in Central Saanich dates back to 1995, when Hindu families in the Victoria area banded together to buy the 100-year-old, no-longer-used St. Mary's Anglican Church. Now, about 200 Hindu families, nearly 400 people, count themselves as temple members.

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The History of Hindu India: A Review
Posted on 2014/7/14 17:35:02 ( 508 reads )

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WASHINGTON, DC, July 10, 2014 (by Murali Balaji): Teaching history continues to be one of the biggest challenges in school districts across America, as schools must often grapple with outdated standards and old and inaccurate textbooks. In addition, teachers can sometimes struggle transitioning to the most current pedagogical approaches.

History can also be highly politicized, as we continue to see in states such as Texas, where small but vocal groups envisage instructional materials and curriculum shaped solely by their own world views. Teachers I've trained complain that they're often caught in the middle between angry parents and school district or even state-level mandates. Moreover, there aren't many vetted multimedia resources that can engage students across grade levels.

Teaching about Hinduism and ancient Indian history is especially problematic because Hinduism and India aren't one and the same. However, the Himalayan Academy's nuanced approach in their newly released "History of Hindu India" video provides a great template of explaining the overlaps by highlighting the development of Hindu culture in what is now India over thousands of years. The video, narrated by Roger (Raj) Narayan, supplements Himalayan Academy's textbook of the same name. Go to http://www.himalayanacademy.com/readlearn/hindu-history for all versions.

Himalayan Academy, which publishes the acclaimed Hinduism Today magazine, produced the video and the textbook in "response to the problem of negative portrayal of Hinduism and India in school textbooks," and their approach relied on academic expertise and vetting. The primary author was Shiva Bajpai, professor emeritus of history at California State University Northridge, while noted religion scholars such as Anantanand Rambachan, Jeffrey Long, T.S. Rukmani and Klaus Klostermaier were consulted for accuracy.

The video provides a compelling look at underrepresented aspects of India's history, as well as the development of Hinduism from both a cultural and philosophical standpoint. Developed primarily for sixth graders, the video can be used at almost all grade levels through high school. While its tone is positive, the content isn't preachy and aligns to meet state and local standards on teaching about religion.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the video is that it can also be used by parents (Hindu and non-Hindu alike) for cultural education. It has already been released with Tamil, Hindi, Spanish, French, Balinese and English subtitles. The video's distribution can be an important tool to help expand understandings about Hinduism in classrooms across the country.

Murali Balaji is Director of Education and Curriculum Reform, Hindu American Foundation

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/7/14 17:34:56 ( 363 reads )

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If you long to see God, take to spiritual practices. What is the good of merely crying, "O God! O God!"?
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886)

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Om at the Airport: Helsinki Offering Yoga for Stressed Travelers
Posted on 2014/7/9 17:02:35 ( 586 reads )

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HELSINKI, FINLAND, June 10, 2014 (New York Daily News): Passengers departing Helsinki can now reduce the stress of travel by participating in pre-flight yoga and Pilates classes being offered through the airport's TravelLab, which aims to improve the experience of flying. As part of a testing phase, a limited selection of Om sessions are available to all passengers, regardless of which airline and class of service they selected.

Classes are held in the newly opened "Kainuu" relaxation space near gate 30, designed by TravelLab with a great outdoors theme. During the test phase, classes, which are 20 minutes long, have been few and far between, meaning passengers looking to pop into a session may have a hard time finding one that corresponds with their flight schedule. The Kainuu relaxation space is open 24 hours per day, however, so passengers looking to practice independently may do so at any time. (A final yoga class was scheduled for June 10).

Helsinki Airport is the latest of several to add a yoga program: others include San Francisco, Dallas Fort Worth and Chicago O'Hare.

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How Church Sales Reflect the Shifting American Demographic
Posted on 2014/7/9 17:02:28 ( 571 reads )

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UNITED STATES, July 2, 2014 (The Atlantic by Tanya Basu): In early June, I visited my hometown of Glendale Heights, about 25 miles west of Chicago. Making my way through the old avenues that had marked my childhood, I noticed something curious: The churches that had dominated the street corners of my suburban youth--from magnificent stone structures with ornate stained glass windows to homey, unmarked brick buildings--were either getting demolished or being sold to become Hindu temples.

As strange as it may be to see "Gayatri Gyan Mandir" on the outside of a building that could be next to the dictionary entry for "church," it's part of a larger story of the changing demographics of American society. It's not just in Chicago, and it's not a unidirectional trend. Synagogues are becoming mosques, Baptists are changing hands with Korean congregations, pagodas are moving into office buildings.

The handover in houses of worship across the country is not a straightforward case of an increase in non-Christian immigrants in the United States. In fact, many church sales can be attributed to shifts among Christian denominations.Roman Catholic weekly service attendance has slid from 75 percent in 1955 to 45 percent in the mid-2000s, while Southern Baptist and Evangelical churches have seen big drops in attendance.

Beyond the Christian faith, immigration is shaping the religious landscape of America and influencing the church purchasing process. A recent map from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies of the second most popular religions in states across the country showed that Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism were represented strongly across the country. Though Christianity remains the overwhelmingly dominant religion of choice in the U.S., other faiths are quickly growing, such as Hinduism in Arizona and Delaware and the Baha'i faith in South Carolina.

More at source.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/7/9 17:02:13 ( 491 reads )

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In my silence, I experience one vast garden, spread out through the universe. All plants, all human beings, all higher devas are about it in various ways and each has his own uniqueness and beauty. Their presence and variety give me great delight. Every one of you adds in a special way to the glory of this garden."
-- Sri Anandamayi Ma, (1896-1982), Bengali mystic

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Admar Mutt Appoints Junior Pontiff
Posted on 2014/7/8 17:28:41 ( 523 reads )

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KUNJARGIRI, INDIA, June 20, 2014 (The Hindu): Vishwapriya Tirtha Swami of Admar Math on Thursday anointed a junior seer of the math, which is one of the eight monastery or Ashta Maths of Udupi. Ishapriya Tirtha Swami (29) was anointed after he accepted sannyas diksha or intitiation as a sannyasin monk. He is the 33rd seer in the lineage or guru parampara of Admar Math.

Various rituals, including Pattabhishekha, were conducted amidst chanting of mantras at Sri Durgadevi temple, which is located atop a hill here. All the rituals took place under the guidance of Vishvapriya Tirtha Swami. Vidyadheesha Tirtha Swami of Palimar Math was also present. Ishapriya Tirtha will study shastras under his guidance.

A large number of devotees had come to witness the event. A BE degree holder in Mechanical Engineering, Ishapriya Tirtha Swami is the first highly academically qualified seer at the Ashta Maths. Herga Vedavyasa Bhat, priest at Sri Krishna Math, Udupi, told press persons that before giving sannyas initiation to a person, his inclination towards spirituality was checked. His horoscope was also consulted.

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Group Offers Yoga in the Face of Violence
Posted on 2014/7/8 17:28:26 ( 544 reads )

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, July 3, 2014 (Houston Chronicle): With their brightly colored mats spread along a sidewalk, Tameka Lawson's yoga students try to follow her instructions: concentrate on their breathing and focus on the beauty of their surroundings. But this is Englewood, one of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, where streets are dotted with boarded-up houses and overgrown lots, and residents are as familiar with the crackle of gunfire as the chime of an ice cream truck. So while the students stretch their arms to the sky, a man the size of a refrigerator stands guard over the class.

It seems odd, all these slow movements, deep breathing and talk about being centered in a neighborhood ruled by drug-dealing gangs. It's simply the latest attempt to curb violence in a city where the number of homicides and guns seized leads the nation. The hope is that yoga's meditative focus will help cooler heads prevail the next time violence or vengeance looms.

The students "live in an environment where everything's rushed, everything's pressured. So if you breathe through certain things, you are able to see clearer. You really are," said Lawson, executive director of a nonprofit group called I Grow Chicago. "Then they can act rather than react."

The idea has even caught the attention of police. At least one officer has made Lawson's class part of an anti-violence program for at-risk youths. With yoga training, "when they get in a tense situation, they can breathe and relax and make the right decision instead of jumping out at someone and hitting them," officer Daliah Goree said.

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Video Documentary on the Hindu Art of Bali Released
Posted on 2014/7/8 17:28:21 ( 522 reads )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKuOe9OlxHc

BALI, INDONESIA, July 5, 2014 (YouTube): Ashok Thakkar has produced a informative documentary on the Hindu art of Bali. In this 15-minute film, he takes the viewer on a tour of temples and public sculptures, both ancient and modern found across the island.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/7/8 17:28:14 ( 411 reads )

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To enter into the spiritual life is a rare blessedness, it is a great good: to take it seriously and engage in active spiritual Sadhana is a second blessedness and a still greater good: but to persevere in the spiritual life, to be ever progressive and ceaseless in one's spiritual life, is the greatest good, the crowning blessedness.
-- Swami Chidananda (1916-2008), President of Divine Life Society

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Puri Shankarachariya Skips Chariot Festival in Dispute
Posted on 2014/7/7 17:13:35 ( 441 reads )

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PURI, INDIA, June 29, 2014 (The Telegraph): In a break from tradition, Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati did not turn up to offer prayers to the Deities on their chariots during the rath yatra today. Back channel negotiations to persuade the seer failed as he stuck to his decision of not taking part in the yatra, the first such instance, sources said.

The tussle began around 3pm yesterday when the temple administration communicated to him that he could visit the chariots with three of his followers. But two hours later, it dispatched another letter to him requesting him to come alone in keeping with a recent Orissa High Court verdict that had actually upheld the opinion of the Shankaracharya that none except those associated with the rituals of the Deities should be allowed to climb the chariots.

The seer, however, took the letter as a personal affront and declared that he won't take part in the yatra as he was being humiliated. "I will not go to participate in the car festival. The government has humiliated me. Some people have used objectionable words against me. The state government has no guts to take any action against me. If it takes any action, it would face the consequences from tomorrow," the seer told reporters here.

While Shankarcharya kept away, the scion of the Puri royal family Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb came to sweep the chariot decks with a handful of supporters. In tune with the court's order, he climbed the chariots alone to perform the customary ritual.

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Puri King Shocked at Seer's Humiliation
Posted on 2014/7/7 17:13:29 ( 460 reads )

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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, July 1, 2014 (Asian Age): The Gajapati king of Puri, Dibyasingha Deb, on Monday expressed his deep shock and anguish over the non-participation of the Shankaracharya of Goverdhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati in the Rath Yatra festival on Sunday as the government put restrictions on the seer's right to climb the chariots and perform puja.

"I'm pained that Jagadguru Sankaracharya could not perform his traditional rituals on the chariots. He is the religious guru of the Hindus. The letter issued by the state government putting restriction on his rights to perform puja atop the chariots is unjust. Neither the state government nor the Sri Jagannath Temple administration has got any authority to infringe upon his religious rights," the king, who is regarded as the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, said.

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Temple to Saturn Opens in New York
Posted on 2014/7/7 17:13:23 ( 609 reads )

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, July 2014 (Press Release): The Shri Navagraha Devasthanam of North America, are proud, yet humbled, to announce the opening of the very first Sri Saneeswara (Lord of Saturn) Temple to ever be erected outside of India. The new Temple is officially known as the Sri Saneeswara Temple and Community Center of New York which will serve as both a combined temple and community center to enhance spiritual and arts based educational opportunities in New York City.

The visionaries of this project, Mrs. Rupa Sridhar and the Board members of Shri Navagraha Devasthanam of NA together have embarked on establishing the Shri Navagraha Devasthanam and, furthermore, have undertaken an ambitious mission to open 9 separate Navagraha temples in 9 US cities to foster Vedic culture and spirituality in North America, each of which will emphasize a different Deity of the Navagraha. (Navagrahas refer to the nine celestial bodies in the Cosmos that are said to influence the life of people on earth. They are respectively Ravi (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Angharakha (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Guru (Jupiter), Sukra (Venus), Sani (Shri Saneeswara (Lord of Saturn)), Rahu and Ketu.

The temple was inaugurated on March 23rd, 2014, Prana pratishta and Kumbha Abhishekam were completed and simultaneous maha homam and japam were performed by vedic pundits and scholars in India for the benefit of this temple and for global harmony.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/7/7 17:13:16 ( 390 reads )

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Why does a vijnani (enlightened person) keep an attitude of love toward God? The answer is that 'I-conciousness' persists. It disappears in the state of samadhi, no doubt, but it comes back. In the case of ordinary people the 'I' never disappears. You may cut down the ashwattha tree, but the next day sprouts shoot up.
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886), guru of Swami Vivekananda

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