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Priests Object to Online Pind Daan, the Post-Death Rituals

Posted on 2016/9/26 19:21:01 ( 197 reads )


INDIA, September 26, 2016 (by Amrita Verma, The Asian Age): Hindu priests in Allahabad and Varanasi demanded a ban on performing the pind daan, a post-death ritual believed to ensure salvation for departed souls, over the Internet. The pind daan is performed mainly during the Pitra Paksh, a 16-day lunar period during which Hindus pay ritual homage to their ancestors.

Pandit Kishore Upadhyaya, a priest from Varanasi, said that the growing trend of offering online pind daan was "unethical" and should be banned. "The ritual requires the person to be physically present and make offerings to the departed souls. It is an elaborate ritual and cannot be performed in absentia," he said.

According to him, a large number of websites now offer "online tarpan" for a price. These websites are doing big business, but the people are being duped, he said. "We understand that working people are short on time and cannot travel to religious places like Gaya, Allahabad, Varanasi or Haridwar to perform the ritual, but they can opt for the ritual in their own cities. In fact, some religious organisations even arrange for collective pind daan for those who cannot afford to travel," he said.

Another Varanasi priest, Pandit Shiv Misra, said that the idea of online pind daan was "ridiculous," and should be stopped. "This is almost like asking someone else to eat or sleep for you. How can anyone else pray for me? The websites that are offering the 'services' take money and then claim to have performed the rituals for your ancestors," he said.

The priests have decided to take up the matter in the annual Magh Mela that is held in Allahabad in January and ask the Dharam Sansad to convince the government to ban the virtual pind daan services. "We have come to know that a website that offers virtual 'pind daan' in Varanasi, is receiving 200-250 requests every day which means a large number of people are being fleeced," said Pandit Shiv Misra.

History of India Visually Over 5,000 Years

Posted on 2016/9/26 19:20:51 ( 0 reads )


INDIA, May 2016 (You Tube): This video will show the entire history of India from 29th century BCE to 2016 in the form of an ever-changing map indicating the location of the cultures and empires that existed over the centuries. Indus Valley and Vedic periods are shown as they changed decade by decade, after 413 bce, the maps change each year. The 12-minute video shows the growth and demise of dynasties, empires and kingdoms in India and Sri Lanka from 2800 BCE right through to 2016.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/26 19:20:40 ( 137 reads )


The sages, being filled with universal love for all beings, did not want to keep their enlightenment to themselves. They declared to all: "O mortals, striving and struggling upon this Earth plane, weeping, wailing, buffeted by the vicissitudes of life: we have come upon a great discovery. There is something beyond these appearances, these vanishing names and forms that go to make up this universe. There is something beyond, which is the very source and support of all these objects of the phenomenal world. Why do you search in vain for happiness outside? Come, come, happiness resides within."
-- Swami Chidananda (1916-2008), president of Divine Life Society

Sri Ramanuja: The Great Integrator

Posted on 2016/9/25 19:13:34 ( 270 reads )


INDIA, May 5, 2016 (The Hindu, by Dr. Prema Nandakumar): What makes Sri Ramanuja relevant today? Dr. Prema Nandakumar writes on the saint-philosopher in the context of his 1,000th birth anniversary. One thousand years have gone by. Ten centuries. In India alone, there were so many kingdoms which tried their best to put an end to the religious and cultural traditions that had flourished from time immemorial. In spite of all that, Vedic culture not only survived but also gained new spaces. The adherents of the culture have had the benefit of leadership by spiritual personalities from time to time, re-formatting the culture in a positive manner without losing any of its seminal strengths. Of such great men, Sri Ramanuja, who was born in the 11 century, takes the pride of place as he remains relevant even today.

How shall we crown Sri Ramanuja? Is he a fine-tuned philosopher or a poet? Does his sociological thinking exceed the commentator? Does he loom large as a temple-builder or as a management expert? Does his concern for helping the common man out-top his blazing spirituality? Is he greater as a student or as a teacher? A deeper and wider engagement in his life and ministry makes it very, very difficult to decide. But one thing is clear. His virtue was compassion: his means, integration. The two main reasons why Sri Ramanuja remains perfectly relevant even today.

Sister Nivedita said that the history of India is the land itself. Applied to Sri Ramanuja, we can read his life in the temples, the rituals he set up, in his philosophy and poetry, and his untiring and patient moves to bring down man-made differences and integrate the society by applying the ideal of compassion. "He (Ramanuja) felt for the downtrodden, he sympathised with them. He took up the ceremonies, the accretions that had gathered, made them pure so far as they could be, and instituted new ceremonies, new methods of worship, for the people who absolutely required them. At the same time he opened the door to the highest; spiritual worship from the Brahmin to the Pariah." That was Ramanuja's work.

Much more at "source" above.

First Swadeshi Indology Conference

Posted on 2016/9/25 19:13:23 ( 231 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, September 25, 2016 (Swadeshi Indology): The first Swadeshi Indology Conference was held in Chennai on July 6-7, 2016. A welcome address was given by Prof. K.S. Kannah and the keynote address by the organizer, Rajiv Malhotra.

A few themes of the conference:

Is Sanskrit dead or alive?
Critique of Sheldon Pollock's views on Shastras
Ramayama as a Political Tool
Pollock's position that Sanskrit was responsible for holocaust
Some Indic viewpoints to refute Pollock's positions
Murty Classical Library--a panel discussion

A summary of the conference with a complete list of presenters, themes and accompanying videos is at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/25 19:13:12 ( 151 reads )


To define God is grinding what is already ground; for He is the only being we know.
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), founder of the Ramakrishna Mission

Ganga River Theme for Trindad's Coming Diwali Nagar

Posted on 2016/9/24 17:56:15 ( 416 reads )

Paras Ramoutar

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, September 23, 2016 (Paras Ramoutar): "Mother Ganga--Mother of the Oceans and Rivers" will be the theme for the 30th edition of Diwali Nagar in Trinidad and Tobago, according to Dr. Deokienanan Sharma, president of the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC). "This year's theme has serious and profound religious meaning as Lord Shiva is reputed to hold the Ganga River on His Head," Sharma said. Sharma said that this year's show will run from Thursday October 20 to Friday October 29 at a projected cost of US $800,000. "Diwali Nagar has grown to be a huge economic and business enterprise with over 70 large, medium and small enterprises participating locally, the Caribbean and India, among other places".

"Diwali Nagar which started in 1986 has now become a national, and probably an international institution in terms of its total presentation, glamour, originality and content. "Diwali Nagar has been able to foster further ethnic unity in our land, and other countries are taking a page from our social, religious and cultural disposition, all of which augur well for the unity and brotherhood of all mankind. Diwali Nagar fosters social mobility and it is an interactive model, worthy of emulation worldwide." Mangaroo said.

Religion Data of Census 2011: XXIX Northeast States

Posted on 2016/9/24 17:56:04 ( 266 reads )


INDIA, September 18, 2016 (Center for Policy Studies): Christianity in the Northeast has spread mainly through the conversion of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) of the region. There are numerous tribes that live here; specific tribes often dominate a specific district or even a sub-district. It is fascinating and instructive to look into how the religious demography of different tribes has changed over time; how and when they have moved away from their native religions--which in their doctrine and practice fall within the Hindu fold--to Christianity. In this and the following notes, we discuss the spread of Christianity among the specific individual tribes of the Northeast.

We begin with Assam, where the situation is very different from other States of the region. The spread of Christianity in Assam has been limited and, more surprisingly, less than 20 percent of the Christians in the State are from the Scheduled Tribes. This is very unusual. Elsewhere in the Northeast, the Christians are almost entirely tribal. The peculiar situation of Assam is because several essentially tribal communities of Assam have not been included in the ST list. Such communities include the tea-tribes, one-fifth of whom are said to be have been converted. Estimates indicate that perhaps all of the non-ST Christians of Assam are from the tea-tribes.

Christians form 12.8 percent of the current ST population of the State. Their share has risen to this level from 7.6 percent in 1991 and 8.8 percent in 2001. There are two separate ST lists for Assam, one for the autonomous hill districts and the other for the rest of Assam. The proportion of Christians among the hill STs is higher at 27.4 percent; among the STs of the plains, the share of Christians is lower at 9.7 percent.

To read more of the spread of Christianity among the individual Scheduled Tribes of Assam, Tripura, and Sikkim, see "source."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/24 17:55:54 ( 185 reads )


Everyone has willpower. It is inherent to the makeup of the physical-astral-mental-emotional body. The center of willpower is the manipura chakra, located at the solar plexus. Unlike other energies, the more willpower we use, the more willpower we have to use. This happens when we work a little harder than we think we can, do a little more than we think we can do. By putting forth that extra effort, we build up a great willpower that we will always have with us, even in our next life, the next and the next.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Canada Mints Diwali Gold and Silver Coins

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:19:18 ( 351 reads )


CANADA, September 20, 2016 (Canada Mint): The Canadian Mint has issued a Diwali coin by Canadian artist Meera Sethi. The coin is inspired by the colorful Indian folk art of Rangoli, which traditionally adorns entrances and floors during Diwali. Within the geometric and floral-inspired pattern lie numerous cultural symbols that represent the "Festival of Lights" as a cherished multi-ethnic celebration--one that is very much at home in Canada, where it is celebrated by Indo-Canadians across the country.

Roughly 51% of Indo-Canadians reside in the Greater Toronto Area, while Vancouver is home to Canada's second-largest population; these important communities are represented by each province's official floral emblem: the trillium and the Pacific dogwood, respectively. Key spiritual symbols--such as those associated with Sikhism and Jainism--surround a ring of clay lamps, which light up homes and hearts during Diwali. The most widely known Canadian symbol, the beloved maple leaf, forms an inner ring around the sacred symbol "OM"--that eternal sound of creation--which is positioned in the centre to release spiritual energy in all directions. [The queen, naturally, is on the other side, in case you're wondering.]

The one ounce coin issued in gold (US$2,119.84) and the differently designed coin in silver ($69.62), can be ordered at "source" above. (The spot price today for an ounce of gold is $1,336.20, and for silver $19.96.)

US Veterans Administration Revises Policy on Religious Expression

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:19:07 ( 444 reads )

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2016 (Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty): Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is expressing gratitude to the Department of Veterans Affairs for its recent memorandum to key officials that updates the policy guidance on religious exercise and expression in VA facilities and property.

The updated policy guidance allows outside groups and individuals to sing religious songs during holidays on VA property. As the policy guidance states, "Once the director authorizes holiday singing in a designated location, VA must remain neutral regarding the views expressed by the group or individual generally or in its holiday songs." The policy guidance also clarifies that church groups may sing Christmas carols, and the VA cannot restrict the religious content of songs.

The policy also allows Veteran Service Organizations to set up displays with religious items on VA property. For example, the VA must remain neutral regarding the use of any religious item, such as a Bible, in a display recognizing prisoners of war or those missing in action.

[HPI adds: While this press release is coming from a Christian organization and dealing mainly with Christmas, the revised policy allows all religious groups the same privileges, for example, Hindus could perform bhajan for Hindu soldiers at a VA hospital.]

Sydney Opera House Performance part of "Confluence Festival of India" in Australia

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:18:57 ( 264 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, September 19, 2016 (Press Information Bureau): A special event for the upcoming Confluence Festival of India in Australia showcased the best of the festival at a gala reception and concert at the iconic venue of the Sydney Opera House last night. The event included the infectious, happy tones of India's most popular folk band, Raghu Dixit, a dazzling performance from the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, one of the India's foremost dance companies, and a performance of the Manipuri dance, Pung Cholom, where acrobatics, martial arts and drums come together to form an energetic and thrilling spectacle.

The gala also included a unique coming together of Australian and Indian performing art forms showcasing distinct movements, rhythms and inherent similarities. The collaboration focused on highlighting the unique aspects of each distinct genre while using the universality of dance and music to create a seamless performance. The show blended Indian and western musical traditions with eastern and western voices of faith, through poetry, and prayer.

Confluence Festival of India in Australia is the most significant exhibition of Indian arts and culture ever to be staged in Australia, involving world-class performers in a showcase of the stunning and vibrant variety of India's artistic cultures and traditions. Festival performances are taking place in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Alice Springs between August 15 and November 8.

Japan's Newest Technology Innovation: Priest Delivery via Amazon.com

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:18:47 ( 192 reads )


SAKAI, JAPAN, September 20, 2016 (New York Times): The stubble-haired Buddhist priest lit incense at a small, cupboard like altar just as members of his order have done for centuries. As the priest chanted sutras, Yutaka Kai closed his eyes and prayed for his wife, who died last year of complications from a knee replacement. Mr. Kai, 68, set aside his family's devout Buddhism when he left his rural hometown decades ago to work in a tire factory. That meant Mr. Kai did not have a local temple to turn to for the first anniversary of his wife's death, a milestone for Japanese Buddhists.

Cue the internet. In modern Japan, a Buddhist priest can now be found just a few mouse clicks away, on Amazon.com. The priest at Mrs. Kai's memorial, Junku Soko, is part of a controversial business that is disrupting traditional funeral arrangements in Japan. In a country where regulations and powerful interests have stymied much of the so-called gig economy -- Uber, for instance, is barely a blip here -- a network of freelancing priests is making gains in the unlikely sphere of religion. Their venture is viewed by some as unseemly, and it has drawn condemnation from Buddhist leaders.

An umbrella group representing Japan's many Buddhist sects complained publicly after Amazon began offering obosan-bin -- priest delivery -- on its Japanese site last year, in partnership with a local start-up. But the priests and their backers say they are addressing real needs. They assert that obosan-bin is helping to preserve Buddhist traditions by making them accessible to the millions of people in Japan who have become estranged from the religion.

More at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:18:36 ( 129 reads )


The practice of yoga is not for ourselves alone, but for the Divine; its aim is to work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual transformation and to bring down a divine nature into the life of humanity. It is not personal ananda, but the bringing down of the divine ananda, the Satya Yuga, upon the Earth.
-- Sri Aurobindo, (1872-1950), Indian philosopher and reformer

Hinduism Today's October 2016 Issue Now On-Line

Posted on 2016/9/18 19:48:43 ( 703 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, September 18, 2016: Hinduism Today's October/November/December 2016 issue has gone to press and is now available online free of charge at hinduismtoday.com. You can also download our free Hinduism Today app and get the full magazine on your mobile device at http://www.himalayanacademy.com/apps/hinduism-today.

The magic of India's spiritual geography comes to life as senior correspondent Rajiv Malik and photographer Arun Mishra guide us through Vrindavan, Lord Krishna's land of childhood leelas, which still take place nightly in the town's sacred tulsi groves, the plant after which the city takes its name. Tour the temples with them and meet the swamis, scholars, priests and the Bhagawat katha vachaks, those who daily tell the stories of Krishna's pastimes.

Our 16-page Insight section this issue is a foray into the deep philosophies that India has given birth to over the millennia. It's called "The Six Streams of Hindu Philosophy: Celebrating Diversity in the Quest for Supreme Knowledge." Written by none other than Mahamahopadhyaya Swami Bhadreshdas, senior disciple of the late Guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj (who blessed the article in the days before his passing), this is a rare English-language overview of the traditional schools. Amazingly, the world renowned artist, Pieter Weltevrede who lives in the Netherlands, agreed to produce seven masterpieces of art depicting each school in a remarkable way. Great writing married to great art depicting great ideas.

Join us as we indulge in a photographic feast of this year's Kumbha Mela in the sacred city of Ujjain. Learn about the process of rudraksha bead authentication and how our field test failed to find any fake beads.

See India's rich traditions of Hindu spiritual expression as showcased in the Puja and Piety exhibit in Southern California. British celebrities in the BBC documentary Welcome to the Real Marigold Hotel tell their real life accounts of exploring life in India for their craft. Dr. S.P. Sabharathnam Sivachariyar, Ph.D. highlights the nature of Siva as form and manifest energy as told in the Saiva Agamas. We also review Professor Vamsee Juluri's Ph.D.'s book "Rearming Hinduism" in which he discusses the immediate need to both vigorously defend and bolster our religion within media and academia. This issue's opinion piece explores what it means to be a young Hindu in the US while achieving a balance between academic and religious study.

Go to our website, source above, or download our app to read the latest edition

IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hinduism-today/id1023295974?mt=8

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/det ... com.HinduismToday.android

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