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Please Be Quiet: Bali's Tourism Shuts down for a Day

Posted on 2017/3/29 20:35:39 ( 175 reads )


BALI, INDONESIA, March 28, 2017 (CNBC): Nyepi, a Hindu celebration primarily celebrated in the Indonesian island of Bali calls for a day of silence on March 28 and is marked as time for self-reflection. The ritual mandates the absence of work, entertainment and travel, which makes for a 24-hour period during which no flights are allowed in or out, electricity use is limited and cars are prohibited on the streets. Even television provider, Indovision ceases broadcasting for the day. Hotel guests on the island are confined to their property and special arrangements have to be made for a limited staff to keep the hotels operating.

Many travel agencies and tour operators discourage bookings this time of year because of the disruption. There's a segment of tourists, however, that actually views the day as a unique part of the culture not to be missed. "It's one of the many elements that actually makes Bali an even more unique tourist spot, which holds special meaning to visitors as well as residents," Dendy Kurniawan, AirAsia Group CEO for Indonesia told CNBC. "It is how culture and religious practice have been preserved through times, whilst blended perfectly with the touch of modern world."

"It's fascinating that an island of 4.5 million people can shut down for 24 hours," Marian Carroll, director of public relations at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay told CNBC, adding that it should be on every visitor's bucket list. "It takes a huge amount of coordination and discipline. Only the Balinese could pull it off!"

Tirupati Temple Hundi Nets $732,500 Post Demonetisation

Posted on 2017/3/29 20:35:29 ( 126 reads )


TIRUPATI, INDIA, March 28, 2017 (Hindustan Times): In April 2012, on the auspicious Sri Rama Navami day, the hundi had received the biggest single day cash offerings of US$883,600. The offering box at the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara here on Tuesday netted cash offerings to the tune of $732,500 in new notes, the highest single day collections post demonetisation.

"Since the announcement of demonetisation scheme, everyday the hundi (offering box) had collected between $385,500 and 462,600, besides offerings in gold and silver, from thousands of devotees across the country, who are undeterred by demonetisation," temple sources told PTI.

The collection surprised the temple staff when they emptied the seven-foot-high hundi for counting as a single offering of over $154,000 was found in a bag along with other cash and precious kind offerings, the sources said.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/3/29 20:35:18 ( 94 reads )


Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practice even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.
-- Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886),

National Geographic Documentary to Give Viewers an Inside View of Tirumala Tirupathi Temple

Posted on 2017/3/25 19:59:29 ( 862 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, March 23, 2017 (Television Post): On 27 March at 9 pm, National Geographic will air a documentary "Inside Tirumala Tirupati" to give viewers a 360-degree view of the temple Tirumala Tirupati. The temple, which is an example of Dravidian architecture which dates back to the 7th century, draws around 60,000 to 80,000 devotees a day. The devotees visiting the temple come back with a blissful spiritual experience, they don't manage to get an in-depth view of the temple. This is about to change with the documentary.

The broadcaster said that watching the documentary will make people feel that they are experiencing an actual visit to the temple, and will also reveal incredible new aspects of the temple even for those who have visited it previously. This one-hour special National Geographic documentary will give viewers an in-depth access to the massive scale of operations, the technology used at various stages, the processes and the people who manage the mind-boggling number of devotees visiting this iconic temple.

The documentary will incorporate elaborate graphics that explain the temple layout in detail, re-creating the sacred inner parts of the temple, where not only cameras, but even people are usually not allowed in. Fox Networks Group creative director, India Productions Shruti Takulia said, "Inside Tirumala Tirupati is National Geographic's newest India production that delivers on our promise to bring relevant and impactful stories with a high level of editorial credibility and unprecedented access to our viewers."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/3/25 19:59:18 ( 243 reads )


Those who cannot live in harmony with the world, though they have learned many things, are still ignorant.
-- Tirukural 140

Government of India Promotes "Pilgrim Trains"

Posted on 2017/3/23 20:10:00 ( 448 reads )


INDIA, March 22, 2017 (Press Information Bureau): Aastha Circuit trains covering various religious places commenced operation on March 17, 2017. They offer all-inclusive tour packages with different itineraries of varying duration, decided by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. Tours are announced and booked through IRCTC tourism portal www.irctctourism.com. The first 6 nights/7 days itinerary started from Guwahati on February 17, 2017 covered Kolkata, Puri and Bhubaneswar and the second 10 nights/11 days itinerary, which started from Darbhanga on March 20, 2017, plans to cover Bhubaneswar, Tirupati, Kanyakumari, Trivandrum, Rameshwaram and Madurai, with several boarding/de-boarding points enroute.

The Astha Special Tourist Train "West India - Jyotirlinga Special Tour" includes an 8 night/9 day itinerary for a cost of US$127 in a second class sleeper coach with stops in Dwarka, Mahakaleshwar, Nageshwar, Omkareshwar and Somnath.

The package includes:
Hall accommodation at places of night stay/morning freshening up.
Pure vegetarian meals.
Non AC Tourist buses for visiting sightseeing spots.
Tour escorts for announcements and information.
Security arrangements for each coach.
An IRCTC Official on train as train Superintendent.

For more detailed information and a list of scheduled tours, see:
https://www.irctctourism.com/cgi-bin/d ... nationCity=&packageCity=0

HPI Note: Hinduism Today is planning a story on these train pilgrimages, and if you've been on one, we'd like to hear from you. Contact ar@hindu.org.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/3/23 20:06:54 ( 214 reads )


It is not a matter of becoming the Self, but of realizing that you never were not the Self.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001)

Uttarakhand High Court Accords Human Status to Ganga and Yamuna Rivers

Posted on 2017/3/22 19:10:28 ( 338 reads )


UTTARAKHAND, INDIA, March 21, 2017 (THe Tribune):Exercising extraordinary jurisdiction vested in the court, a division bench of Justices Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh of the High Court said, "Holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna have been declared to be treated as living human entities." Agreeing with advocate MC Pant, the court cited the example of river Whanganui in New Zealand which has been given such status.

Giving the "legal status" of living humans to the holy rivers, the court ordered that the Director, Namami Gange project for cleaning and rejuvenating the river, the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand will act as the "legal parents" of the holy rivers and work as the human face to protect, conserve and preserve them and their tributaries. These officers will be bound to "uphold the status" of the two rivers and also promote their "health and well being", the court said. On the court ruling, Union minister for water resources Uma Bharti said, "We have always considered Ganga as mother and a mother is a living person. The court has endorsed our point of view."

HPI note: It is also the case in Indian law that the Deity of a temple is a legal "person," with the temple properties being held in the Deity's name.

Jews and Hindu in Indology

Posted on 2017/3/22 19:10:17 ( 395 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, March 22, 2017: HPI Note: "Jews and Hindus in Indology" is in continuation of the lengthy critique of German Indology presented in The Nay Science by Vishwa Adluir (professor of religion as Hunter College) and Joydeep Bagchee Freie Universitat Berline). In this paper available on academia.edu (source above), they explore the particular situation of Jewish scholars in an academic field dominated by German Protestants. Their conclusion of the 69-page paper reads:

"The analysis presented here lets us now appreciate the full scope of The Nay Science's project. Our aim in this work was to ask four questions about Indology as it is currently practiced.

"The first was epistemological: how was German Indology a science? How did it generate certain, universally valid propositions? Here we showed that Indology did not correspond to any acceptable definition of science. Even though the Indologists claimed that their work was objective and scientific as compared with the allegedly arbitrary interpretations of native commentators, their work was not any more scientific. Rather, it was based on racial, anti-Semitic, and anti-Brahmanic principles.

"The second question we asked was ethical: how did the German Indologists address these problematic aspects of their history? Were they cognizant of them? Had they engaged in a self-critique? Had they corrected for the historical-critical method's anti-Judaic bias? Once again, we found that, far from addressing these problems, the Indologists were obsessed with defending an institutional hegemony. They failed to acknowledge either their discipline's involvement in Nazism or their share of responsibility in legitimating Aryanism.

"The third question we asked was pedagogic: how did German Indology contribute to pedagogy? What was its value to students? Here we showed that the discipline did not actually aim to make texts accessible and transparent. Indeed, it rejected philosophical interpretation as incommensurable with the "scientific" task. Although German Indologists claimed to be part of the humanities, their work favored an arcane, technical style, that restricted these texts to other disciplinary "initiates." Their work set aside both ethics and pedagogy as beyond Indology's ambit, and posited a fantastic objectivity instead.

"The fourth question we asked concerned German Indology's public value: if the discipline contributed neither to science nor to ethics nor to pedagogy, what function did it serve? Why was it funded? Here we found that Indology's main function consisted of oversight over the Brahmanic (read: priestly) tradition.German Indologists had failed to evolve a single positive justification for their discipline, other than offering a counterpoint to the tradition. Yet, although they claimed to be historically self-aware, they could not answer a simple question: in what way was their scholarship "critical"? Parasitic on the Indian tradition, using their corporate status to compel respect from the Indians, and yet incapable of dialoguing with them, the Indologists thus represent a failed chapter in German intellectual history. They survive merely on the strength of their institutional arrangements, that is, what Ringer terms "legality."

"The present paper brought these points together and showed how, on the back of a supersessionist narrative of liberation from Brahmanism, the German Indologists actually constituted themselves as a new priesthood. Their example is instructive for anyone concerned with the university's future direction."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/3/22 19:09:59 ( 235 reads )


Men who can brave death on the battlefield are common; but rare are they who can face an audience without fear.
-- Tirukural 723

Hindu Students Express Strong Opposition to CNN's "Believer" Episode

Posted on 2017/3/16 19:36:13 ( 910 reads )


NEW JERSEY, U.S., March 13, 2017 (Press Release): Hindu students from all over the United States have expressed strong disappointment and opposition towards CNN's "Believer" Episode on Hinduism, which aired on March 5th and showed a heavily derogatory and out-of-context depiction of Hinduism and India. In the episode, contributor Reza Aslan visits the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, India to learn about Hinduism and ends up focusing on the stereotypes commonly associated with Hindus, while eating brain parts and covering a tiny sect that is supposedly cannibalistic. Aslan also declares the holy river the Ganges as "one giant toilet" and the city of Varanasi as the "City of the Dead."

"Reza Aslan's 'Believer' uses images of a 'cannibalistic Baba' for the sake of shock value, risking conflation of 'extreme practices' with mainstream Hinduism, much like what happened with 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,'" remarked Parth Parihar, Hindu Students Council (HSC)'s General Secretary, who also wrote an article in the Huffington Post critiquing the Hinduism episode. "Worse, by continuing to refer to the Aghoris as the unique sect trying to 'upend the caste system embedded within Hindu spirituality,' the episode continues to spread the idea that caste discrimination is sanctioned by and inherent in Hindu practice - a blatant falsehood."

HSC sat down with noted author and public intellectual Rajiv Malhotra (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB9JqlUiYUk) to analyze various clips of the episode and show why such over the top, inaccurate and inflammatory depictions do nothing more than spread hatred and misconceptions about a tradition that many Americans are vaguely familiar with. Shyam Bhatt, the president of HSC at Stony Brook University expressed his concerns. "Aslan's 'Believer' painted the already misrepresented Hinduism in a barbaric light. On a college campus with a liberal climate where someone like Aslan is revered, his words had a huge impact on reinforcing the misunderstanding and prejudices already faced by Hindu American students."

More at "source" above.

More Than 500 Sculptures to Be Made for Cremation of Thailand's Late King

Posted on 2017/3/16 19:36:02 ( 403 reads )


BANGKOK, THAILAND, March 14, 2017 (South China Morning Post): Thailand's best craftsmen are hard at work producing monuments to King Rama IX. "The graceful walk of Ratchasi (a mythical lion) implies that Thai people must move on after our late King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away," said sculptor Nopparat Bunmee.

Craftsmen are now hard at work at the sculptural hall of the Fine Arts Department's Traditional Arts Office in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Sharing the same working space are a dozen artisans assigned to create more than 500 sculptures for decorating Phra Merumat, the palace-like structure where the royal urn will be housed at the royal cremation later this year.

One of the eye-catching sculptures is a 9 foot tall Hindu God Narayana, which also has some facial features of the late king. Based on traditional beliefs, the king is an avatar of Narayana. Next to the Narayana sculpture is a 6.5 foot tall sculpture of one of four heavenly kings known in Thai as Thao Chatulokkaban, a 6.5 foot tall standing Garuda, which is Narayana's vehicle, a seated angel, sacred oxen and Kotchasi, the mythical elephant.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/3/16 19:35:50 ( 412 reads )


Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practice even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.
-- Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), famed guru of Swami Vivekananda

Hinduism Today's April/May/June Issue Is Now On-Line

Posted on 2017/3/14 17:23:46 ( 779 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, March 10, 2017: Hinduism Today's latest issue has gone to press and is now available online free of charge at source above. You can also download our free Hinduism Today app and get the entire magazine (and seven back issues) on your mobile device at bit.ly/HT-APP.

Our feature story this issue is a tour de force taking you to and through the seldom seen culture and countryside of Assam. We call it "Awesome Assam," and the awesomeness is in full view through the creative lens of photographer Thomas Kelly and in-depth interviews of correspondent Rajiv Malik. Experience the diverse religious, linguistic and cultural milieu of the state's native tribal peoples and the later migrants from elsewhere in India.

Our 16-page Insight section is Acharya Vamadeva Shastri's lucid unraveling of the four states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, deep sleep and samadhi. He particularly explores the subtle worlds of sleep, dreams and their importance in life and relationship to the higher states of mind. There are also excerpts from the writings of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami on the astral world, and selected quotes from the Upanishads on the four states of consciousness.

In his Publisher's Desk editorial, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami addresses the power of our words, specifically the importance of kindly speech. He parses four kinds of unkind speech--gossip, backbiting, joking and teasing--then shows us how to avoid these habits through focusing on courtesy, tact and sensitivity.

Science and mind studies are big in this issue. Is there a new science of consciousness evolving today? We think so, and since it has such deep resonance with Hindu mystical thought, we bring you the past, present and future of the unfolding revelations about consciousness, human perception, non-local being and more. Varun Khanna begins the journey for us in a lengthy discussion of Hinduism's contribution to the new "Science of Consciousness." Then Deepak Chopra, Rudy Tanzi and others guide the way. This field may have a tectonic impact on our future, on understanding what it is to be human, to be aware, to be evolving. A summary review of the three-day "Sages and Scientists Symposium" held in Los Angeles last September is provided by members of our editorial staff who attended.

We visit Bali for a festival of gratitude that features huge chariot-like structures called Dangssil pulled through the village. Then we explore Delhi for a survey of that city's plethora of veggie food options, Mumbai to see how the world's grandest Ganesha festival is run, and Durban to learn about an amazing TV series called "Sadhana--the Inward Path." This half-hour weekly show, the country's only Hindu series, is produced with world-class reporting and visual content.

There's more inside the magazine, including our fun Quotes & Quips with cartoon, an excerpt from recently translated Agama verses, Anant Rambachan's take on the future of Hinduism in America, and the amazing documentary film work of Benoy Behl on India's religion and traditions.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/3/14 17:23:36 ( 431 reads )


Do not run away. Face the world and get hit by the world. Let the world drop you again and again. It is the means to destroy the Ego.
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993), founder of Chinmaya Mission

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