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Amarnath Cave Yatra to Being June 29

Posted on 2017/1/17 19:40:43 ( 375 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 17, 2017 (Greater Kashmir): Governor N.N. Vohra, Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), presided over the 32nd Meeting of the Shrine Board here on Monday, an official spokesman said. "Regarding the duration and date of commencement of the Yatra 2017, keeping in view its foremost concern of safeguarding the safety and security of the pilgrims, the Board decided that a 40-day Yatra would commence on 29th June 2017, an auspicious day of Skanda Shasthi as per Hindu Calendar and conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on 7th Aug 2017. The Board directed that the CEO should arrange a special pooja at Chandanwari on the day of Jyesth Purnima, which falls on 9th June this year, to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva for the smooth and safe conduct of the pilgrimage," the spokesman said.

"The Board deliberated at length in regard to the number of Yatris who would be allowed to register, date-wise and route-wise, for this year's Yatra. Considering the carrying capacity of the existing tracks and other available infrastructure in the Yatra area, the Board decided that 7,500 Yatris, per day per each of the two routes, excluding Yatris who would travel by helicopters, would be allowed to register for the pilgrimage," he added.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/1/17 19:40:33 ( 254 reads )


It is the nature of desire never to be fulfilled, but he who utterly gives it up is eternally fulfilled at that very moment.
-- Tirukural 370

Scheduled Castes vs. Caste Hindus: About a Colonial Distinction and Its Legal Impact

Posted on 2017/1/15 19:56:33 ( 305 reads )


BELGIUM, January 15, 2017 (academia.edu): Jakob De Roover of Ghent University here published today an insightful paper, "Scheduled Castes vs. Caste Hindus About a Colonial Distinction and Its Legal Impact." We excerpt from his conclusion:

Today, commentators often react with indignation when one points out the anomalies confronting the classical account of the caste system. Worse, questioning this orthodoxy and its hackneyed claims about "the plight of the Dalits" is often equated to denying the existence of injustice in Indian society. The fact that there are groups in Indian society much poorer and more deprived than others is not in doubt. Neither is the fact that members of some jatis treat members of other jatis in unethical and inhumane ways. However, the point is that these situations and events cannot be coherently conceptualized in terms of "the caste system" and its oppression of "the Untouchables" or "Dalits."

The idea that there are two distinct categories or groups in Indian society--namely, Caste Hindus and Scheduled Castes--never described its social structure. No common characteristics are available that allow(ed) one to recognize these as two communities or categories across India. Thus, no empirical investigation could show that they existed in the Indian social world. Since this distinction is flawed, it cannot offer a stable foundation for legislation that aims to address injustice in Indian society. In fact, the available facts indicate that the laws providing caste-based benefits fail to pass the Supreme Court's test of reasonable classification: there appear to be no intelligible differentiae that distinguish all the persons grouped together as Scheduled Castes from others excluded from that group.

Indeed, the class of Scheduled Castes exists, but only in the Indian legal and political system. Through their caste policies and censuses, the British spread the idea that "Hindu society" was characterized by an opposition between Caste Hindus and Untouchables. Thus, in spite of the recurring discovery that this distinction failed, it could not but have its effects in a society under colonial rule. The crucial step came in the Government of India Act of 1935 and its caste schedules. Eventually, the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1936 ordered that "the castes, races or tribes, or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes specified in Parts I to IX of the Schedule to this Order shall, in the Provinces to which those Parts respectively relate, be deemed to be scheduled castes so far as regards members thereof resident in the localities specified in relation to them respectively in those Parts of that Schedule."

Strikingly, the leaders and intellectuals of postcolonial India not only succumbed to the colonial account of "the caste system," but also accepted the social divisions among the people of India created by British legislation. It is as though they felt compelled to transform the tenuous distinctions inherent to the colonial account into existing social divisions in India. The King's Excellent Majesty, Edward VIII, had ordered how the people of India should be divided into Scheduled Castes and others. After 1947, Indian political and intellectual elites began to enforce this royal decree in their country. This is the work that the caste legislation of contemporary India continues unto this day.

You Don't See Toilet Seats with Jesus on Them, but Hindu Deities Are Still Frequently Misused, Critics Say

Posted on 2017/1/15 19:56:23 ( 264 reads )


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, December 28, 2016 (LA Times): Bathroom mats. Toilet seats. Shoes. Dog tags. All of these items have, in recent years, gone on sale adorned with images of Hindu deities, particularly that of Ganesha, known most commonly in the West for His elephant face. "It is inappropriate, and it is offensive to devotees," said Rajan Zed, a Reno, Nevada-based Hindu activist who protests against such commercial products.

"I haven't seen Christ on toilet seat covers. Or any symbol of Islam," said Vasudha Narayanan, a professor of religion at the University of Florida. "If you wouldn't do it with one, why do you want to do it with something else? Or at least wouldn't it behoove you to check?" The use of these images in a secular context, and particularly in a context that is in direct opposition to the basic tenets of the Hindu religion, displays a lack of respect, Narayanan said.

Every few months, Zed said, he receives a message about some insensitive commercial use of a Hindu image. Most recently, Zed called on Amazon to pull deity-decorated skateboards and bedding from its online shelves. (This was not the first time the retailer got itself into hot water over such practices. In June, the hashtag #boycottAmazon trended on Twitter in India after users discovered doormats with images of Hindu deities available for sale. Amazon removed the items within days.) Most of the time, when Zed reaches out to companies to ask them to stop selling an item or displaying an advertisement, he said, they apologize and comply. "It's ignorance, basically," Zed said. "People don't know our traditions and our deities."

Much more at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/1/15 19:56:12 ( 201 reads )


In the beginning, love arose, which was the primal germ cell of the mind. The seers, searching in their hearts with wisdom, discovered the connection of Being in Nonbeing.
-- Rig Veda 10.129.4

Pakistan Prime Minister Reaches Out to Minorities

Posted on 2017/1/14 19:39:45 ( 489 reads )


PAKISTAN, January 12, 2017 (by Drazen Jorgic, Reuters): Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the restoration of an ancient Hindu temple complex in Punjab, a symbolic gesture that may appeal to the Muslim nation's minority communities and soften the country's image abroad. However, the visit and other recent overtures to minority faiths and women, including the passing of pro-women legislation, could also alienate powerful religious hardliners opposed to social change. Sharif's visit to the 900-year-old Katas Raj temples (begun by Lord Krishna Himself), one of the holiest sites in South Asia for Hindus, comes at a time when relations with Pakistan's Hindu-majority neighbor India are at a low ebb and show few signs of improving. "In my personal view, we are all are equal - Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians -- and people belonging to other religions; we are all one," Sharif told Reuters after a Hindu ritual was performed at the temples, located in the village of Katas some 110 km (70 miles) south of the capital Islamabad. At the ceremony, attended by senior Christian, Sikh and Hindu leaders, Sharif chastised hardline Muslim scholars who use "strange interpretations" of Islam to preach hate against other religions. "I believe this is not lawful. No one should try to teach this sort of lesson, nor should anyone heed such lessons," Sharif said.

Critics say Sharif's government has not done enough to tackle hardline religious groups inside Pakistan, including some with militant links, and accuse members of the ruling PML-N party of maintaining links with sectarian hardliners. Pakistani officials want to improve the country's image, marred by religious violence and the persecution of minorities, in a bid to lure Western investors who are reluctant to come despite healthy economic growth and improving security. "Pakistan's image, economy, foreign investment, security -- they are all interlinked," said an aide to the prime minister.

Asian Scene: Dance Style That Extols the Deities

Posted on 2017/1/14 19:39:34 ( 292 reads )


NAIROBI, AFRICA, January 7, 2017 (Daily Nation, by Allaudin Qureshi): While relaxing with family and friends at the coast during the Christmas and New Year break, I had the opportunity to watch a recording of Manipuri, a classical and ritualistic dance style. It brought back fond memories of watching a troupe from India perform the dance in Nairobi a decade or so ago.

Manipuri is an inherent part of the rituals of the daily life of communities in the mountainous region of North East India, Manipur. The main attraction of the dance is the beautiful costumes. The long flared embroidered skirts, translucent veils and peacock feather crowns are breathtaking.

Manipuri is a sophisticated story telling art form that glorifies the feats of religious or mythological characters. The style banks heavily on Hindu deities like Krishna and his favorite Gopi Radhika. During a performance, the dancer offers prayers to the Deity that he or she is glorifying. Manipuri was initially performed in temples and made its way to the stage only during the last century after receiving encouragement from poet, playwright, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Guru Rabindranath Tagore.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/1/14 19:39:24 ( 199 reads )


He is the inner Self of all, hidden like a little flame in the heart. Only by the stilled mind can He be known. Those who realize Him become immortal. He has thousands of heads, thousands of eyes, thousands of feet; He surrounds the cosmos on every side. This infinite being is ever present in the hearts of all. He has become the cosmos. He is what was, and what will be. Yet He is unchanging, the Lord of immortality.
-- Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.13-15

Pongal, the Harvest Festival of Tamil Nadu

Posted on 2017/1/12 16:53:42 ( 573 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 10, 2017 (The Statesman): Pongal is a four-day harvest festival of Tamil Nadu which commences from the last day of Tamil month Margazhi. Crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric, etc are harvested during this month. The term Pongal in Tamil means "to boil" and it is the only Hindu festival which follows a solar calendar. In this four-day festival, special offerings are made to the sun God, Indra, to bestow good harvest.

People also regard Pongal as highly auspicious as it marks the beginning of Uttarayan - the journey of the sun towards northwards. During this festival, families get together and exchange gifts. In the northern part of India, the harvest festival is known as Makar Sankranti which also takes place around the same time. In Punjab, the harvest festival is known as Lohri.

The first day of Pongal is known as Bhogi Pongal. It is celebrated to worship Lord Indra who bestows good harvest. On this day, people discard their old clothes and wear new clothes. The second day of the Pongal festival is known Thai Pongal. This day is dedicated to honor the sun God, Surya. The third day of Pongal is known as Mattu Pongal. On this day, animals that are used for agricultural purposes are honored. The final day of Pongal is known as Kaanum Pongal. On this day the family members visit each other and exchange gifts.

Russian Yoga Instructor Becomes Unlikely Spiritual Warrior as He Fights Counterterrorism Law

Posted on 2017/1/12 16:53:32 ( 0 reads )


MOSCOW, RUSSIA, January 10, 2017 (Radio Free Europe): A Russian yoga teacher has been forced into the role of spiritual warrior in the face of charges he was missionizing in violation of a controversial new law. Computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was detained by police in St. Petersburg on October 22 while giving a talk at a festival about the philosophies behind yoga, a discipline for achieving physical and spiritual well-being.

The 44-year-old faces a fine for allegedly conducting illegal missionary activity, an administrative offense under the new Yarovaya Law, a package of legal amendments intended to fight terrorism that is named after its author, lawmaker Irina Yarovaya. Signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, the amendments include restrictions on religious groups and missionary activity that could potentially put pressure on followers outside what the government considers "traditional" religions.

The charges against Ugay are not criminal, but observers fear that a guilty verdict in the misdemeanor case against him would set a precedent for the harassment of even yoga instructors. Yoga has a strong following in Russia, underscored by Dmitry Medvedev's professed love for the practice. In 2007, during his first stint as prime minister, Medvedev was quoted as saying that "little by little, I'm mastering yoga." His advocacy of the practice gained him a group of supporters described as "Medvedev's Girls" who performed exercises on Red Square to promote yoga.

More at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/1/12 16:53:21 ( 275 reads )


There is no greater Truth than the Guru, no greater penance than the Guru, no knowledge greater than the Guru

Meet the Father and Son Sculptors of India's Giant Shivaji Statue

Posted on 2017/1/10 19:19:42 ( 478 reads )


NOIDA, INDIA, January 9, 2017 (The National): Outside their workshop, a raucous debate rages on whether India should spend half-a-billion dollars on a statue to honor a 17th century Hindu warrior. Inside, the two men sculpting the bronze figure work in silence in their vast, high-ceilinged studio outside New Delhi. "Is there a controversy about it?" asks Anil Sutar, 59, sitting in the adjoining office, looking surprised. "We don't pay any attention to politics. We just get on with our work."

Anil and his father Ram are the sculptors in the eye of the storm. Ram is the famous one. At 92, he still works eight hours a day, is totally alert, and has a face that looks 15 years younger. Apart from a recent knee replacement, he is in great physical condition. His son Anil returned from his studies in architecture and urban design in the US in 1994 to join his father who is the sculptor to whom state governments and politicians turn when they want to build a larger-than-life statue to honor a figure in the Indian pantheon.

The father and son are thrilled by the Shivaji project. At 688 feet, the Shivaji statue off the Mumbai coast will be twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. The statue will sit atop a 22-story building housing a museum, library, auditorium, cafes and shops. Six lifts will take visitors through the body of a horse up to Shivaji's chest where there will be viewing windows for them to look across the Arabian Sea and the Mumbai skyline. Another monumental statue which they are halfway to completing is that of Vallabhbhai Patel, an important figure in the Indian freedom movement and India's first home minister after Independence. That statue will be just a few metres smaller than Shivaji.

Pakistan's Religious Minorities Lose Confidence on Refusal to Ratify Forced Conversion Bill

Posted on 2017/1/10 19:19:32 ( 333 reads )


KARACHI, PAKISTAN, January 7, 2017 (Pakistan Christian Post): The Governor of Sindh, Saeeduzzaman Siddique, refuses to ratify the forced conversion bill passed by Sindh Assembly in November 2016 following protests by MQM, JI and other Muslim religious parties. Religious minorities here say they have lost confidence in so-called moderate Muslim political groups also.

The Forced Conversion Bill was presented in Sindh Assembly by Hindu MPA Annand Kumar of Pakistan Muslim League Functional Group PML (F) and unanimously adopted by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party PPP, Muthidda Quomi Movement MQM, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf PTI and other in November 2016. The Forced Conversion Bill was passed and sent to Governor of Sindh to sign, but the governor has refused to do so.

The said bill was first criticized by Jamaat Islami Pakistan Ameer Senator Siraj Ul Haq who termed it un-Islamic as it was set in bill that conversion of any one to Islam will be not legal if the age of converted individual is not 18 years and conversion to Islam will be supervised for 120 days to confirm. The Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities in Pakistan view this bill as protection of minorities' bill as it will prevent forced conversion of their women to Islam who were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2017/1/10 19:19:21 ( 350 reads )


When we encounter wickedness in others, let us be compassionate, for truly there is no intrinsic evil.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001)

Fourteen Temple Murthis Recovered

Posted on 2017/1/8 20:24:20 ( 509 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, January 4, 2017 (Kathmandu Post): Fourteen statues and two conch shells which were stolen from the Chandannath Temple in Jumla district headquarters Khalanga on November 26 were found at Depalgaun-2 in the district on Tuesday. Local women had spotted the statues at Rokayawada while they were going to the forest to collect firewood. One of them immediately telephoned her relative in Khalanga who informed the police about the statues.

A statue of the main Deity Dattatreya was among the 21 centuries-old images and other valuables that were stolen from the temple. The Chandannath-Bhairavnath Guthi Management Committee said the statues of Dattatreya, Buddha, Krishna, Mahakaal and a gold-plated steeple, footprints of the Deities and a rare conch were among the valuables stolen.

The security personnel and Chandannath-Bhairavnath Guthi Management Committee members gathered the statues that were scattered about in the stream and the foot trail. They were brought to Khalanga in a procession attended by hundreds of people. According to Gaurinanda Acharya, former chief of the Guthi Management Committee, the statues were reinstalled in the temple. Police mobilised a search team suspecting that other statues and valuables could be hidden in the area.

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