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Malaysia Divine Life Society to Conduct Youth Camp

Posted on 2003/12/14 8:46:02 ( 971 reads )


RAWANG, MALAYSIA, December 14, 2003: The Divine Life Society, Bandar Country Homes Sub-Branch is organizing a youth yoga camp for December 27 and 28, 2003, at the National Secondary School, Tasik Puteri, Bandar Country Homes, Rawang. Topics include Creative Meditation for Students, Parents Responsibility and Moral & Ethics, Basic Hinduism and Guru Worship, Motivation and Time Management and other subjects. Participants should be 14 years or older. For further information, e-mail "source" above.

British Rights Group Claims Attacks Continue in Gujarat

Posted on 2003/12/13 8:49:02 ( 956 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, December 13, 2003: This report from the Times of India reads: "Gujarat remains an 'ongoing genocidal project' largely funded by the saffron pound through a growing network of increasingly innocent-sounding, small, UK-based Hindutva organizations, a new report has warned the British government. The report, written and researched by nine women jurists and academics across six countries, was launched here on Saturday just days after Britain's charities watchdog threw up its hands in despair at being denied Indian visas to 'investigate the activities of the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh and Sewa International.' HSS and Sewa have always denied allegations of misusing charitable donations to fund communal violence in India. Amrit Wilson, spokesman for South Asia Solidarity, a British anti-communalism group, told Times News Network that the new 240-page report would be sent to British foreign secretary Jack Straw next week. The report has what is claimed to be hundreds of cases of first-hand evidence and testimony. Wilson said: 'Stopping the British funding of the Gujarat violence is important, but it is all a political decision and the UK government has to decide whether it wants to make it.' Observers acknowledged the new report, launched under the banner of a name India already knows, the International Initiative for Gujarat (IIJ), would certainly pile the pressure on the British government. But some critics said the report said nothing that had not already been discussed threadbare. The study, Threatened Existence, claims that Gujarat remains a violent, deeply-divided and communally-charged state even 18 months after India's worst outbreak of religious violence. 'The genocidal project continues in different and frightening forms with long-term consequences on the lives of all members of the Muslim community particularly women,' it alleges. And in what's described as the first attempt to collate the 'centrality' and extent of 'sexual violence' against minority community women, the report alleges that it continues till today and is part of the 'agenda of Hindutva... and a strategy.' The IIJ is a team of women that includes French-Algerian feminist and gay rights campaigner in Muslim countries, Anissa Helie; German historian Gabriela Mischkowski, American law professor Rhonda Copelon, British Israeli sociologist Nira Yuval-Davis, Sri Lankan human rights activist Sunila Abeysekara and Mumbai-based gender justice campaigner Vahida Nainar."

Mizoram to be Organic State

Posted on 2003/12/13 8:48:02 ( 826 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, December 13, 2003: Mizoram is set to become the first state in the country to ban the use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and encourage organic food produce. "I have asked the government to introduce a legislation in the forthcoming Assembly session to ban fertilizers and pesticides and encourage organic food," Mizoram Governor A R Kohli told industry leaders on Saturday at the CII sponsored human resources conclave here aimed at employment generation for youth from North East region. "We will be the first state to go for organic food production. Once we do, other states in the region will follow," Kohli said. Asserting that North Eastern states were at a 'take off' stage, he said, the emphasis of the governments was on encouraging self-employment among youth and bring prosperity to the region. "Our focus is on organic food, plantation, tourism industry, entertainment and sports activities, besides allied business like food processing for the entire region," Kohli said.

Land Of The Lotus Position

Posted on 2003/12/13 8:47:02 ( 990 reads )


RISHIKESH, INDIA, November 18, 2003: "It's dusk. the air is filled with 200 voices chanting Hindu scriptures to the beat of clapping hands. I am sitting on marble steps facing the holy river Ganges. In the fading daylight, the pewter-colored water reflects some tiny, fist-sized 'boats' that carry brightly flickering candles down the fast flowing river," begins this article by travel writer Walter Glaser describing his experience in Rishikesh. "On the river's edge in front of me, a group of monks is seated around a square fire pit. As they chant, they drip oil onto the burning wood in the pit, causing the fire to flare slightly. On both sides of this group, directly adjacent to the river, two clusters of orange-robed boys line the riverbank," he continues. " 'Many Europeans and Americans come here to study our ways and our religion,' says a tour guide. 'Many others come to live in the ashrams of Rishikesh and Haridwar in order to learn the essence of yoga. Some have adopted our ways and our religion as their way of life.' Rishikesh, is just 100 miles from the Chinese border in North India. Some resorts specialize in yoga and ayurvedic health and medicine. People come from all over the world for a holiday that includes serious instruction in this philosophy." For the full article and tour information click on "source" above.

Famed Temple Icon Stolen Again in Nepal

Posted on 2003/12/12 8:49:02 ( 880 reads )


PANAUTI, NEPAL, December 11, 2003: The ancient icon of Brahmayini in Panauti, about 40 km to the east of Kathmandu, has been stolen for the second time, the Rising Nepal newspaper said Thursday. The icon was lifted Tuesday evening after curfew was over, the daily quoted police as saying. The icon was reinstated seven years ago after having been stolen, the daily said. "In the last one year, icons of the Indreshor temple and Bisweshor temple, recommended for World Heritage site, have also been lifted." There has been a sudden spurt in icon theft after the police post situated near the Indreshor temple was merged with the area police station, Banepa, the daily said. "Locals have been demanding that the police post be reinstated." The newspaper has not mentioned how ancient Brahmayini icon was.

Microsoft Removes Swastika Character from Font After Protests

Posted on 2003/12/12 8:48:02 ( 1070 reads )


SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, December 12, 2003: This Reuters report reads: "Microsoft Corp. said on Friday that its latest version of Office software inadvertently contained a font featuring two swastikas, and said it would offer tools to remove and replace the offending characters from the program. The swastika, which was made infamous by Nazi Germany, was included in Microsoft's 'Bookshelf Symbol 7' font. That font was derived from a Japanese font set, said Microsoft Office product manager Simon Marks. 'It was discovered by one of our customers a couple weeks ago,' Marks said, adding that there was 'no indication of malicious intent.' The Redmond, Washington-based software maker said that it had contacted various Jewish organizations about the font and said a utility would be immediately available on its Web site that would remove the characters from the system. Microsoft said it will release other tools at a later date to remove only the offending characters. A form of the swastika has been used in the Buddhist religion to symbolize the feet or footprints of the Buddha. The symbol, which was also used widely in the ancient world including Mesopotamia, Scandinavia, India and the Americas, became common in China and Japan with the spread of Buddhism. German dictator Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the symbol of the Nazi Party because of its nationalist identification, according to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group."

HPI adds: Hindus and Jains have been trying for years to educate the public that the swastika is a religious symbol with thousands of years of history, and that it is unfair to stigmatize the symbol forever based on its use by the Nazis. In this article, the Reuter's reporter makes no mention of the symbol's significance to Hindus and Jains in modern times. In Hinduism, the swastika (literally, "it is well") is a symbol of auspiciousness and good fortune, representing the sun. The right-angled arms of the swastika denote the indirect way in which Divinity is reached -- through intuition and not by intellect.

Konark Dance Festival Loses Shine

Posted on 2003/12/12 8:47:02 ( 962 reads )


KONARK, INDIA, December 7, 2003: The Konark dance festival in Orissa once attracted a huge number of tourists. But attendance is poor despite its awe-inspiring setting. An open air theater with the famous Sun Temple as its backdrop has been the site of the Konark Dance Festival organized by the government for the last 14 years. The idea is to attract tourists. However, with less than a hundred rooms available for dance troupes and tourists, the organizers say they have a tough time getting a full house for the festival. "The only difficulty in Konark is the absence of a star hotel. Once there is a star hotel more tourists will be there at Konark, they will be seeing this festival," said Gopinath Mohanty, director of tourism, Orissa. Poor accommodations, bad roads, insufficient advertising, and sometimes even poor performances have prevented the Konark Festival from gaining stature. Dance critics who have been visiting the festival since its inception feel that the programs are geared towards pleasing the officials and VIPs instead of targeting tourists or dance lovers, says this article.

Religion Rise To Aids Challenge

Posted on 2003/12/12 8:46:02 ( 966 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, DECEMBER 12, 2003: In the Nepalese capital, 29-year-old Surendra Shaha and his mother are sitting in prayers with a Hindu priest. Surendra Shaha says his weekly prayer ritual is helping him. Surendra is HIV positive and this is a weekly ritual organized by his mother to keep his spirits up. By all accounts, it's working. The role of religion in combating HIV/Aids can be a controversial one. Orthodox thinkers have, in the past, denounced those who fall ill with Aids, suggesting their fate is divine punishment for immoral behavior -- but no longer. A conference in Kathmandu recently, bringing together representatives of all of South Asia's many religious faiths and HIV/Aids activists, has been calling for compassion and tolerance for victims. UNICEF South Asia director Dr. Sadig Rasheed says: "We need religious leaders to help us in every way, to pray for the sick, to comfort those inflicted and to help spread awareness and prevention strategies." Once, Aids activists despaired at conservative religious attitudes. The organizers of the Kathmandu conference say things have changed. Faiths and HIV/Aids workers are converging, compromising and learning to live with each other's attitudes and priorities. One of the stars of the conference in Nepal is Buddhist monk Ven Phra Tuangsit from Nong Khai in Thailand. He leads a project called Sangha Metta that many want to see duplicated in other parts of South Asia. Buddhist clerics involved in the project work with young people, sex workers and others to spread awareness of HIV/Aids. In the audience, listening to Tuangsit speak, are mosque imams sitting alongside Catholic priests. With HIV/Aids set to become South Asia's biggest public health challenge very soon, it's clear that the men and women who serve God have decided they have a role to play in helping the present and future victims of a dreaded epidemic.

Bangladeshi Hindus Face Discrimination

Posted on 2003/12/11 8:49:02 ( 936 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., December 9, 2003: Bangladesh has taken some steps to protect its religious minorities but discrimination continues, particularly against Hindus, says a new report. It says communal violence and discrimination have displaced up to 20,000 Hindus in recent years, with the most serious violations occurring in 2001. Most Bangladeshi Hindus who seek refuge in India have received little support or protection. The governments of both Bangladesh and India must do a better job of dealing with these problems, says the report compiled by Refugees International, a Washington-based humanitarian organization. Religious minorities in Bangladesh face restrictions in areas such as access to jobs in the government or military, especially at higher levels. There is also a perception that police are often slow to assist members of religious minorities who have been victims of crime, the report says. Hindu rights groups in Bangladesh recently told Refugees International that they believe sexual violence against minority women was continuing in the country. The US Committee for Refugees estimated that by the end of 2001 between 5,000 and 20,000 Bangladeshi Hindus and other minorities had fled to India to escape Bangladesh's post-election violence

Karnataka State Temple Plan Protested

Posted on 2003/12/11 8:48:02 ( 956 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, December 10, 2003: The S.M. Krishna Government's proposal to take over management of all private and trust-managed temples have raised hackles. Says Sri Vishveshwara Theertha of Udupi Pejawar math: "This would only give scope for corruption." Others are equally upset. Hindu Dharmika Samsthe Hitharakshna Samiti spokesman G.R. Suresh accuses the Government of diverting US$15 million collected from nearly 200,000 temples: only $3 million were given for temple maintenance as against the madarsa-Haj subsidy of $7.5 million (including providing funds for Muslims to pilgrimage to Mecca).

Another critic of the proposal is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living. "The Government, which failed to manage the PSUs (public sector companies, handling business such as textiles and telecommunications), is now eyeing the temples. This dual stand is unacceptable," he says. The Udupi seer draws a different parallel. "When mosques and churches are enjoying total freedom, why does the government need to interfere in the administration of temples?" he asks. If necessary, it can float an autonomous body to monitor temples, the Swami suggests.

Concern over High Indo-Fijian Suicide Rate

Posted on 2003/12/11 8:47:02 ( 853 reads )


FIJI, December 8, 2003: Indo-Fijians, who make up almost half the population of Fiji, are five times more likely than indigenous Fijians to attempt or commit suicide, recent police statistics indicate. The trend has been consistent for at least five years. Along with the youth of Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Guam, Palau and Samoa, Indo-Fijian youth make up some of the highest youth suicide statistics in the world. While there has been limited research in this subject, one academic believes a combination of cultural tolerance, intergenerational conflict, excessive pressure for academic and career success and the affect of Fiji's political upheavals are all contributing factors to the disproportionately high suicide rates of Indo-Fijians in the country.

Biotechnology Method Has Source in the Ganges River

Posted on 2003/12/11 8:46:02 ( 1033 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, December 02, 2003: GangaGen, a company in the biotechnology industry, is committed to the discovery and development of biologically specific bacteriophage (bacteria eaters) for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of bacterial infection in medical, veterinary, and agricultural applications, says this company website. The biotechnology industry is only just beginning to boom and companies like GangaGen aim to provide infectious disease solutions to the world through their research and development of bacteriophages. Phages are highly specific, naturally occurring agents that invade bacteria and destroy them. Phages can be developed to eradicate any bacterial infection since they specifically target only bacteria. They cannot be used to treat viral infections.

The first observation of phage-activity was made in India in 1896 by Ernest Hanbury Hankin. He noticed a marked anti-bacterial action in the waters of Indian rivers Ganga (Ganges) and Yamuna against Vibrio Cholorae. The activity destroyed cholera bacteria in cultures. He demonstrated that it could pass through fine porcelain filters and was destroyed by boiling. He suggested that this activity might be responsible for restricting the cholera outbreak among the people that consumed the river water. He, however, did not probe the phenomenon any further. Twenty years later Frederick Twort in England, and Felix d'Herell from Canada, working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, reported isolating similar filterable entities capable of destroying bacterial cultures. It was d'Herelle who named these ultra microbes, "bacteriophages."

Organiser Newspaper Reports on Sita Ram Goel

Posted on 2003/12/11 8:45:02 ( 1215 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, December 11, 2003: Noted thinker, renowned scholar and writer Shri Sita Ram Goel passed away in New Delhi on December 3. He was 83. He is survived by his two sons Saroj Kumar Goel and Pradip Kumar Goel. His wife had passed away long back. He was cremated at Nigam Bodh Ghat. His younger son Pradip Kumar Goel performed the last rites. For the last few years Shri Goel was on bed rest and was not attending office. Union Minister Arun Shourie, columnist Devendra Swaroop and journalist Rajendra Chaddha were among those who attended the funeral.

Born on October 16, 1921, Shri Goel took his MA in History in 1944, from the University of Delhi. He won scholarships and distinctions in schools as well as colleges. Well versed in several languages, he studied the literature, philosophy, religion, history and sociology of several cultures -- ancient, medieval and modern. For his judgements and evaluations, however, he drew inspiration from the Mahabharata, the Suttapitaka, Plato and Sri Aurobindo.

Besides Hindu-Muslim Encounter, Genesis of Nehruism, Shri Goel has written more than 20 books on Communism, Soviet Russia, Red China, Christianity and Islam. Author of eight novels, he has translated into Hindi quite a few titles from English, including some dialogues of Plato and a biography of Shivaji. His other works include compilations from the Mahabharata and the Suttapitaka. He exposed the reality of Islam and the Christian church at a time when nobody had the courage to speak or write against them. Through the Voice of India Publications he published a number of books on such subjects.

Having become a convinced Communist by the time he came out of college, he turned against this criminal ideology in 1949 when he came to know what was happening inside Soviet Russia. From 1950 onwards he participated in a movement for informing the Indian people about the theory as well as the practice of Communism in Stalin's Russia and Mao's China. The numerous studies published by the movement in the fifties exist in many libraries and can be consulted for finding out how the movement anticipated many years earlier the recent revelations about Communist regimes.

RSS chief, K. S. Sudarshan, said, "The news that Sita Ram Goel was no more reached me in Akola, and my memory goes 30 years back. Sita Ramji had long ceased to be an individual; he had grown into an institution by himself. He was a veritable giant of an intellectual impossible to vanquish. Coming in contact with the great thinker and scholar the late Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, an erstwhile Communist, became a true blue Hindu by conviction. Today Hindutva is under attack from all quarters and the absence of this super-intellectual fighter will be keenly felt. The need of the hour is to have similar intellectual combatants in substantial numbers who can draw inspiration from his life. That indeed would be true tribute to the departed soul. I offer my heartfelt homage to this indefatigable intellectual stalwart, who was dedicated to the cause of Hindutva."

World's Largest Replica of Balaji Temple Opens

Posted on 2003/12/10 8:49:02 ( 1184 reads )

News Report

PUNE, INDIA, DECEMBER 8, 2003: The magnificent Lord Venkateshwara Temple at Ketkawale village, about 40 kilometers from Pune, was inaugurated recently. Spread over 10 acres, the new, full-fledged, temple with the grandeur of its original is the biggest replica of the world famous Tirumala Tirupathi Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh. More than 6,000 devotees and farmers flocked to see the temple, for darshan (sight) of the Lord Balaji. The marvelous temple has become a pilgrim center for devotees in Maharashtra. It is a boon for those poor farmers and devotees who can not afford to make a pilgrimage to the Tirupathi temple in the south. The selection of the spot to its final execution was been undertaken under the guidelines of the head priest of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam taking vaastu shastra (Hindu temple architecture) into consideration. Even the black stones and other building material were brought from Kanchi, Tamil Nadu. Elaborate religious ceremony of yagnas and other rituals were performed at the temple by priests from the Tirupati temple witnessed by approximately 4,000 people daily. The Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Sri Jayendra Saraswati, also worshipped. The work for the temple began seven years ago. There are eight main temples in the premises dedicated to different deities. Built at an estimated cost between US$3 to $5 million, the temple also provides living rooms and kitchen facilities for visiting devotees.

Flushing Ganesha Temple Faces Dispute Over Board Elections

Posted on 2003/12/10 8:48:02 ( 1055 reads )


FLUSHING, NEW YORK, December 5, 2003: "For three decades, the Hindu Temple Society of North America has been a peaceful refuge," reads this prominent article in the New York Times. "Every weekend, thousands of devotees stream to this sanctuary on Bowne Street in Flushing, New York. A recent dispute has shattered the temple's calm. The dispute has nothing do with Hindu theology or ritual. Instead, it is about who should run the temple, and whether the messy business of democracy has any place in a house of worship. On one side are six members who say the temple is run too autocratically. They are demanding the right to vote for the board of trustees. In August, a state appeals court sided with the six members, ordering elections to be held for the first time. On the other side are the temples's trustees, who call the court's ruling an outrageous invasion. They say the lawsuit is just a power play by disaffected members who would like to run the temple themselves.

"The six plaintiffs say they have no interest in changing the roles or rituals performed by the temple's 10 priests, who have not taken sides. In all likelihood, daily life of the temple would probably be unaffected. But when it comes to elections, both sides are adamant. Dr. Uma Mysorekar, the temple's president, says forcing an election among hundreds or thousands of members could turn a sacred space into a circus. 'We want a system that prevails based on dedication and commitment, not based on popularity,' Dr. Mysorekar said. The current system, in which the temple's unpaid 11-member board manages the temple's affairs and votes on its own members when their terms come up, is democratic enough, she says. The plaintiffs say they deserve to have a voice in the affairs of the temple, which has grown over the years to include a community center, a school and a cafeteria. The temple has too much debt, they say, and should be more conservative in its spending. They also admit to having a personal grudge against Dr. Mysorekar, whom they accuse of forcing out dissenting board members over the years to maintain her control over the the temple.

"A lawyer for the plaintiffs discovered a copy of the temple's original by-laws filed with the federal government when the temple was founded in 1970 which was apparently lost soon afterwards. The 1970 by-laws say the members have voting rights. And though the temple trustees wrote new, more restrictive rules soon afterward, they never followed the proper procedure in amending the old by-laws, because they were not aware of them. That failure was the basis of the legal ruling requiring the temple to reinstate the 1970 by-laws and hold elections.

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