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Teacher Enjoys Role as Missionary for Kathak
Posted on 2002/6/27 23:48:02 ( 560 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 21, 2002: Chitresh Das is renowned all over India for his mastery of kathak. In 1971, at 26, he arrived in the US on a Whitney Fellowship to teach kathak -- a northern India style of dance -- at the University of Maryland. Now 57, he runs six kathak dance schools in the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Berkeley. He also offers a two-credit course at San Francisco State, where he is a faculty member. Das' performance career took off in India when he accepted an invitation by musician Ravi Shankar to perform at a festival in Benares. Later, after finishing his fellowship at the University of Maryland, Das found another mentor in Ali Akbar Khan, a famous musician in India who started his own music college in San Rafael. Khan invited Das to start a dance program at his college in 1971, and Das migrated west. Das has performed all over the world. Recently, he received high honors from West Bengal government's State Academy for his teaching. "I'm like a missionary of kathak dance," said Das, who teaches about 200 students in the Bay Area. Kathak is among India's six major classical styles of dance. In its days of origin, kathak was used to narrate great Indian epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Das adheres to kathak's deep tradition but still strives to make it relevant to modern times.




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Hindu Traditions in Thailand
Posted on 2002/6/27 23:47:02 ( 655 reads )


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CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, June 26, 2002: The successor to the present Rajaguru of the Royal Government of Thailand is all set to undergo training in different subjects such as purohitam, karmakanda, sastras, Sanskrit and Tamil at Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswamahavidyalaya at Enathur near Kanchipuram. The 12-year-old brahmin boy is currently on a visit to Chennai along with Pra Rajaguru Vamadevamuni, Chief of Royal Court Brahmanas, Royal Government of Thailand. Speaking at a reception organized by The Hindu Rakshana Samiti and Hindu Dharmaparipalana Sabha here Saturday, the Rajaguru recalled age-old cultural links between Thailand and India, in particular Tamilnadu. Referring to Ramayana, he said the epic had a tremendous impact on Thais as can be seen from a number of dramas on the Ramayana staged in the country. Expressing his concern over the decline in number of brahmins and Hindu rituals in the East Asian nation, Rajaguru Vamadevamuni said he had discussed the issue with the Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and also mooted training younger generation of brahmins in the state. On the relationship between Hindus and Buddhists-the predominant communities in Thailand, he said that despite being a Buddhist nation, the relationship between them could not be better and assured the gathering that he would do his best to foster cultural links between Thailand and India.




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Swami Pareshananaji to Visit Puerto Rico
Posted on 2002/6/27 23:46:02 ( 682 reads )


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PUERTO RICO, June 28, 2002: The Vedanta society of Puerto Rico is honored to welcome Swami Pareshanandaji, the director of Ramakrishna mission Ashram in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on his third visit to Puerto Rico. He will stay in Puerto Rico from July 2 to July 12, 2002. He will give a formal lecture on Meditation and Spiritual life in San Juan on the evening of July 3. Swamiji will give a retreat in San Juan on July 4 for the 100th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda leaving his physical body. He will give a religious discourse on July 5 at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. For more information please e-mail "source" above. Swami Pareshananda was born in the District of Nadia in Bengal, India. He entered the order in 1967 and took his final monastic vows in 1976 from the then president of the order Swami Vireshwaranandaji. He then held the strategic responsibilities throughout the mission centers in India until in 1988 when he is assigned as director of the Ramakrishna Ashram in Buenos Aires. Swami Pareshananda, who speaks fluent Spanish, has developed a work of both continuing and also expanding Vedanta in Latin America. He travels throughout Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and other countries) directing groups as well as giving personal spiritual instructions.




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Vedic Literature and the Gulf of Cambay Discovery
Posted on 2002/6/26 23:49:02 ( 624 reads )


Source: The Hindu





CHENNAI, INDIA, June 19, 2002: The recent find of a submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay, off the state of Gujarat, perhaps as old as 7500 bce, brings attention to the existence of southern sources for the civilization of ancient India. The discovery of Cambay as well as Lothal, Dholavira and others in Gujarat have been pushing the seats of ancient Indian civilization deeper into the southern peninsula. In this article by Dr. David Frawley, he states, "We should not be surprised if more such sites are discovered in South India, especially the coastal regions, for the south has always played a significant, if neglected, role in ancient India going back to Vedic times." Dr. Frawley bases his opinion for such coastal origin for Vedic civilization on "the oceanic character of Vedic symbolism in which all the main Rig Vedic Gods as well as many of the Vedic rishis have close connections with the sea. In fact, the image of the ocean pervades the whole of the Rig Veda." "The Cambay site is in the ancient delta of the now dry Sarasvati River, one branch of which flowed into the Gulf of Cambay, showing that this site was part of the greater Sarasvati region and culture, which was the main location for Harappan cities in the 3300-1900 BCE period. Such an ocean front was important for maritime trade for the inland regions to the north. In this regard, important Vedic kings like Sudas were said to receive tribute from the sea (Rig Veda I.47.6)."




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Conference on Hindus in Trinidad
Posted on 2002/6/26 23:48:02 ( 682 reads )


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TRINIDAD, June 23, 2002: The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) of Trinidad and Tobago and the History Department of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine will be jointly hosting a conference on the Hindu Presence in Trinidad and Tobago. The event will be held from October 25 to 27, 2002, at the SDMS Headquarters, Eastern Main Road, St. Augustine and at the Learning Resource Centre, UWI, St. Augustine. Topics for discussion shall include: The Hindu family; age and gender roles; the early establishment of Hinduism; Hindus and politics; non-political leadership in the Hindu community; Hindus and education in Trinidad and Tobago; The Hindu engagement with the non-Hindu world. Abstracts of papers will be received up to July 31, 2002, at the History Department, UWI, St. Augustine. For further information, email source above.




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Dead Fish on the Banks of the River Yamuna Panics City Residents
Posted on 2002/6/26 23:47:02 ( 539 reads )


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AGRA, INDIA, June 14, 2002: Residents in the city of Agra were horrified on June 14 when they awoke to the sight of thousands of dead fish on the banks of the river Yamuna. While the citizens of Agra are concerned about the safety of the water for human consumption, fishermen in the city may have to take up another means of making a living. Gyanesh Kumar, the additional district magistrate of Agra says, "It appears that the sudden rise of pollution resulted in a drastic fall of dissolved oxygen in river water, leading to the death of fishes on this terrible scale. Until our investigations are completed we will stop the Yamuna water supply to Agra city due to apprehensions about the safety and quality of the water." A substitute water supply from Gokul Barrage is being used as a replacement. An official from Agra's Jal Nigam water board says that they have been pushing for a clean up of the river. However, residential sewage and industrial waste are continually dumped untreated into the river. "It is time we restored the glory of the Yamuna River which was a grand old river. Now it has been turned into a sewage drain," said the water board official.




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Forty-Five Years On, Sanskrit Dictionary Still a Dream
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:49:02 ( 748 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, June 24, 2002: The ambitious Sanskrit dictionary project - arguably the largest lexicographical work ever -- at the Deccan College in Pune has become a hostage of time as the work, though under way for 45 years, has not even completed the first letter of the alphabet as yet. The monumental project, titled "Deccan College Sanskrit Dictionary" started in 1948, and since then it is still seized with the very first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet which has got at least 44 functional characters. According to an estimate of Dr V.B. Bhatta, the project coordinator, it will take at least 85 years to complete. The uniqueness of the project lies in the fact that, unlike other dictionaries, the present work sets out to cover all 64 disciplines in Sanskrit (Chaturshasthi Kalas) covering a period between Rig Veda and Balambhatti -- an 18th century work. Besides the vast period, it has to give the origin, evolution, history and supportive citations of a particular word. "Sanskrit is full of compounds and there is no room for bluffing. It is running at a normal speed," Bhatta reasons. It should be consolation to the editors that the Oxford English Dictionary when conceived in 1857 was expected to take ten years to complete. Five years into the project, they had reached "ant." The final volume of the unabridged dictionary was printed in 1928. At least the Sanskritists have one advantage over the OED's editors -- because of the rapid evolution of English, the OED was out of date the instant it was completed.




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Male-Dominated Priesthood Makes Way For Women Priests
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:48:02 ( 592 reads )


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INDIA, June 23, 2002: The age-old tradition of a solely male-dominated profession is slowly giving way as more women are trained for the priesthood. In Maharashtra's orthodox brahminical order, Pune-based Shankar Seva Samiti has trained over 7,000 women priests from all castes since its inception in 1976. In Kerala, until a few years ago, anything related to Vedic hymns and sacred ceremonies was considered the domain of the Namboodiris and the Pottis -- two classes of the brahminical order. But, over the past few years, 37 non-brahmin women have become priests, due to the efforts of Gurupadam Institute of Kodungallur. In Varanasi, also, students of the Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya are being trained in priesthood. This unique center of learning has produced a number of Sanskrit scholars and karmakandi women pundits. Presently, 70 students are enrolled, preparing for degrees from prathama to acharya. Woman priests often conduct marriages, pujas and even shradhas, funeral rites. A central reason for the women's success is the lowering of standards among the male priests, as many qualified men opt for other employment. Suniti Gadgil, a priest based in Pune, says she performs around 15 shradha ceremonies every month besides puja and sacred thread ceremonies. Says Gadgil, "Earlier, I used to do only other rituals. but I decided to do the shradha ceremony only after no priest was available to do the shradha of my mother."




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Memories Of Kashmir In New Book
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:47:02 ( 581 reads )


Source: Philadelphia Inquirer





PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, June 18, 2002: In her new book, "Tiger Ladies" ($24, Beacon Press), Sudha Koul tells of growing up in the beautiful Valley of Kashmir where Muslims and Hindus coexisted in peace for centuries. Born in 1947, the year of India and Pakistan's partition, Koul writes of a land of unparalleled beauty where people admired learning, open-mindedness and tolerance. She writes of a place where people attend weddings and stay up all night singing, and of her grandmother, a collector of fine Kashmiri pashmina wool, and her grandfather, a college English professor. Nowhere is there mention of Hindu and Muslim tensions; instead, Koul writes of both groups' going to the others' homes to celebrate festivals. Koul titled her book the Tiger Ladies because she considers herself -- along with her grandmother, mother and daughters -- to embody Durga, the Hindu Goddess who sits on a tiger and vanquishes demons to keep the world safe. "I wrote the book as a lament to a way of life that had been nurtured for millennia," said Koul, a Hindu. "We Hindus and Muslims had a common ground -- in our being Kashmiri." " I wrote this book because I wanted to put down our unique Kashmiri traditions so that they are not forgotten," she said. Kohl has been living in the US since 1974.




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Hindu Sangam Participates in Matchmaking Event
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:46:02 ( 672 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, June 10, 2002: Sixty-eight young males and one-hundred and seventy-four females looking for a marriage partner participated in the Malaysia Hindu Sangam's matchmaking event on June 10th. To take part in the event, participants paid RM 20 each which allowed them to look at photographs of potential life partners. A male pharmacist from Penak successfully met a female systems technician from Serebam. The pair were comfortable with each other and have asked their families to make follow-up arrangements. A thirty-eight year old auditor, who was disillusioned about marriage, was able to find a thirty-two year old bank teller. President of the Hindu Sangam, A. Vaithiligam, said, " The event was held following the success of the first Suyamvaran in 1989 when 10 out of 12 men found life partners."




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Twenty-Six Badrinath Pilgrims Drown
Posted on 2002/6/22 23:49:02 ( 591 reads )


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DEHRA DUN, INDIA, June 16: Twenty-six pilgrims were drowned and six injured, two of them seriously, when a private bus in which they were returning from Badrinath shrine skidded off the road and plunged into the Alaknanda river at Baldora area in Chamoli district last night, police said today. The bus, going to Hardwar from Badrinath, was carrying 32 pilgrims including 17 women when the mishap occurred at Baldora near Vishnuprayag area. The pilgrims were mostly from Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The bus, belonging to a private travel agency in Hardwar, had completely submerged into the swirling waters of the Alaknanda, a tributary of Ganga, Mishra said.




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VHP Missionary Enrollment Program Meets Modest Success in Kerala
Posted on 2002/6/22 23:48:02 ( 755 reads )


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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA, SOUTH INDIA, June 9, 2002: A VHP recruitment drive here got off to a slower-than-hoped start, but the local leaders were still satisfied with the results. Though the drive was aimed at enlisting youth in a program to check conversion in tribal areas, half those enrolling were older. VHP organizing secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan said he was satisfied with the numbers. "It is just the beginning. Teething problems are there. Once the first batch is out more youth can be attracted." The VHP's latest plan had evoked protests from various quarters. Communists and social activists had dubbed it as a ploy to 'Gujaratize' the hitherto peaceful state. Opposition leader V. S. Achtuthanandan had asked Chief Minister A. K. Antony to ban the drive. The VHP reasoned that a state which produced so many Christian missionaries from its Christian minority should be able to produce Hindu missionaries from the majority community.




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Cloned Animals Suffer With Genetic and Physical Defects
Posted on 2002/6/22 23:47:02 ( 588 reads )


Source: Times of India





LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, April 28, 2002: Ever since Dolly the cloned sheep hit the news in 1997, her progress and life has been watched world-wide. Cloning, using the DNA of an adult cell and injecting it into an egg, has been attempted by scientists around the world. Ian Wilmut, co-creator of Dolly the sheep, has analyzed the findings and has published his research. Wilmut says, "The widespread problems associated with clones has led to questions as to whether any clone was entirely normal." Dolly the sheep has developed arthritis at an abnormally young age. A cloned calf in France died after living only 51 days because its body could not produce white blood cells. At the Roslin research center in Scotland, the same center where Dolly was produced, a cloned lamb had to be put down because the muscles surrounding the lungs were too large causing the calf to suffocate. Wilmut believes that the problem with clones can be attributed to the behavior of methyl molecules. He says, "Methyl molecules attach themselves to DNA in all cells and help to control many of its functions. The methylation of the DNA in adult cells differs sharply from that of sperm and eggs. When a nucleus is taken from a cell of an adult animal and injected into an egg, its DNA is formatted in radically different ways from that found in sperm." Wilmut's research comes at a time when some scientists are attempting to clone human beings. Ian Wilmut warns, "Nobody should be attempting to clone a child. My research suggests that a cloned human would also be at huge risk of genetic defects."




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VHP Reconverts Christian Tribals in Orissa
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:49:02 ( 975 reads )


Source: The Hindu





BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA, INDIA, June 18, 2002: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has reconverted over 5,000 tribal Christians to Hinduism in the Sundargarh district during the past two years. The VHP's local unit conducted a ceremony after the converted Christians filed affidavits expressing their willingness to reconvert, either before the court or the notary. On June 16, about 143 tribals belonging to 46 families of Oram, Munda and Khadia tribes were reconverted at a special function organized by the Rourkela unit of the VHP at Tainser village under Lathikata block. According to the local VHP organizing secretary, Achyutanand Kar, these tribals had filed affidavits a fortnight ago. Their case was communicated to the district authority before the ceremony was organized. Mr. Kar alleged that Christian missionaries had induced not only tribals but also others in the district to convert to Christianity. Sundargarh alone had as many as 1,100 churches spread over almost all the villages, he added.




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Christians Demand Probe of Conversion
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:48:02 ( 653 reads )


Source: The Hindu





BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, June 19, 2002: The Global Council of Indian Christians has demanded an enquiry into the alleged conversion of 143 tribal Christians into Hinduism by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Orissa's Sundargarh district on June 16. In a statement issued today, the national convener of the council, Sajan K. George, alleged that the conversions were done in contravention of the provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act and "connivance" of the government machinery. Before conversion, the tribals belonged to Oram, Munda and Khadia tribes and were not Hindus, Mr. George claimed. HPI adds: It has been a tact developed in the last few years for Christians to claim that the tribal people of India are not Hindus, as they have been traditionally regarded, but of another, "tribal," religion. By a calculation made in one Hinduism Today article (www.hinduismtoday.com/1989/02/, "The Big Business of Evangelizing:), it costs the missionaries about US$6,000 to convert one Hindu to Christianity. The 143 tribals, then, would represent a loss of $858,000, and the VHP's claimed total of 5,000 reconverted tribals, $30 million.




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