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Man Who Slapped Wife Sentenced to Yoga, It's Anger Management, Says Judge

Posted on 2004/1/24 8:47:02 ( 865 reads )


HOUSTON, USA, January 22, 2004: HPI presents this summary as an example of the unusual places one finds yoga in American life:

First there was house arrest. Now there's yoga. A judge ordered a man convicted of slapping his wife to take a yoga class as part of his one-year probation. "It's part of anger management," County Criminal Court at Law Judge Larry Standley said of the ancient Hindu philosophy of exercise and well-being. "For people who are into it, it really calms them down." Standley, a former prosecutor, said the case of James Lee Cross was unique. Cross, a 53-year-old car salesman from Tomball, explained that his wife was struggling with a substance abuse problem and that he struck her on New Year's Eve during an argument about her drinking. "He was trying to get a hold of her because she has a problem," Standley said after the court hearing. "I thought this would help him realize that he only has control over himself." The sentence came as a surprise to Cross, who was told to enroll in a class and report back to Standley on his progress. "I'm not very familiar with it," Cross said of yoga. "From what I understand, it may help in a couple ways, not only as far as mentally settling, but maybe a little weight loss." Darla Magee, an instructor at Yoga Body Houston in River Oaks, said she would recommend that Cross take a basic yoga class emphasizing breathing and including a variety of postures -- forward bends, back bends and twists. "Yoga can help us to get rid of many emotional issues we might have," she said. "It's a spiritual cleanse." Prosecutor Lincoln Goodwin agreed to a sentence of probation without jail time because Cross had no significant criminal history.

Buddhists Support Removing "Under God" From US Pledge of Alligience

Posted on 2004/1/24 8:46:02 ( 990 reads )

Press Release

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 21, 2004: HPI found this announcement interesting in that it brings to light the atheistic nature of Buddhism, which is usually not clear to non-Buddhists.

The announcement, from a law firm for the Buddhists, reads in part, "As you may know, the United States Supreme Court is considering the issue whether the words 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (the context is teacher-led recitation of the Pledge in public schools). The case is scheduled to be heard in March, and a decision will be rendered by the Court some time thereafter. The relevant portion of the First Amendment states: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'

"The law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP has agreed to submit an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of Buddhist temples and organizations. The Cadwalader firm is handling this matter on a pro bono basis (i.e., without charging a fee), and would welcome any Buddhist temple, church, congregation or organization to join the Brief as additional Amici.

"The main point that is being asserted on behalf of those Buddhist temples and organizations who join the brief is that Buddhist schoolchildren who wish to say the Pledge and express their patriotism and loyalty to the United States, should not have to say that this is a nation 'under God.' The original version of the Pledge, drafted in 1892, did not include the words 'under God.' Those words were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 at the urging of various Christian groups who wanted to tie patriotism with the notion that this is a 'Christian country.' The Amicus Brief argues that the Pledge of Allegiance presents a vision of a monotheistic Judeo-Christian country, and ignores the fact that there a large number of Buddhist Americans who do not adhere to monotheistic beliefs.

HPI is unaware of any Hindu objection to the words "under God" in the pledge to date--especially given our Hindu belief of the existence of God everywhere and in all things, it is hard to imagine how the country could not be "under God."

Robbers Ransack Main Hindu Temple in Fiji

Posted on 2004/1/23 8:49:02 ( 921 reads )


NADI, FIJI, January 19, 2004: An early morning break-in at the famous Nadi temple shocked many worshippers. The biggest and most expensively built temple, the Shri Shiva Subrahmanya Swami temple at the end of Nadi Town, was broken into at 12:30am yesterday morning. Temple manager Lachman Naidu said the duty watchman had gone to have a drink of water when he was attacked and tied up by two men. "They tied his hands and mouth so he could not escape and call for help," Mr. Naidu said. He said the two thieves broke open the glass-door and ransacked the prayer areas causing a lot of damage. Mr. Naidu said the men were obviously looking for money and got away with more than US$600 in cash that was given as offerings by worshipers. The watchman managed to free himself and notified police. Mr. Naidu said police arrived at the temple at 7:30am and promised to be back later with police dogs for further investigations but at 2:00pm yesterday, Mr Naidu was still waiting for them to return. He said such sacrilegious acts needed severe punishment to deter further offences. It was the second temple attack within 24 hours, the first being at Salato Circle off Khalsa Road in Suva. The Shiu Nayaran Mandhir was broken into during the early hours of Saturday morning with items stolen valued at more than $750. Minister for Multi Ethnic Affairs George Shiu Raj said peace, unity and multiracialism were being attacked by such acts. The Fiji Council of Churches earlier condemned sacrilegious acts and reminded people that such actions were sinful and shameful. General Secretary Benjamin Bhagwan called on all Christian ministers and preachers to proclaim such acts as sinful, a violation of Christian faith of love, peace, goodwill and tolerance of our "neighbors." The Government also stands strongly against desecration of holy places regardless of religious belief.

Hindu Group Criticizes Dalit Representatives at World Social Forum

Posted on 2004/1/23 8:48:02 ( 1101 reads )


JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY, USA, January 18, 2004: Navya Shastra, a US-based global Hindu organization of scholars, activists, priests and laypeople, has criticized the Dalit representatives and organizers of the World Social Forum for highlighting the Hindu dimensions of discrimination against the Dalit community while refusing to work with the Hindu leadership to bring about religious reforms, according to this press release from Navya Shastra ("source" above). "The Dalit leadership and World Social Forum organizers have rightfully focused attention on the social and economic problems faced by the community, but have deliberately refused to begin a dialog with Hindu leaders, though they repeatedly state that Hinduism is the cause of the Dalit plight,'" said Vikram Masson, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman. Masson further noted that the Hindu religion, despite the rhetoric of the Dalit leadership, continues to be a vital force among the Dalits, and ultimately, improving Dalit prospects will require reforming Hinduism. "It's about time the Dalit leadership stop asserting that Dalits are not Hindus. If the leadership continues to pretend that Hinduism will go away, it will miss out on an historic opportunity to participate in Hindu reform and to improve the lot of the oppressed communities."

The World Social Forum has listed India's caste system as one of its five major topics for discussion at this year's Mumbai meet.

Navya Shastra has expressed solidarity with the Dalit community. "We stand by our oppressed brothers and sisters. We firmly believe that the time for reform is now, and shall urge the Hindu community to end its silence and complacency which has for too long destroyed our religious unity," said Dr. Jaishree Gopal, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman, "the community's resilience in the face of daily bigotry is the mark of genuine spirituality which other Hindus cannot claim."

Indian Army Gets Strict on the Use of Religious Symbols

Posted on 2004/1/23 8:47:02 ( 1299 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 18, 2004: Expressing concern over its officers (both men and women) and jawans wearing "tilaks, vibhuti, birthstone rings and bracelets," on January 8, the Indian Army Headquarters sent a circular to all its formations detailing strict instructions on the "use of religious symbols" while in uniform. These instructions, issued by Adjutant General A. Natarajan with the cooperation of Army Chief N.C. Vij, are in addition to the existing dress regulations covered under 1962 regulations. The new instructions are especially strict for the Indian Army's women officers even though there are just about 75 of them in the million-strong force. They prohibit the use of bangles, ear-studs, lipstick and nail-polish. Sindoor can be used but only if it is not visible when a beret is on. Men officers and jawans can only wear a signet ring on the left hand. Multiple sacred threads on the wrist is not allowed. Only a single sacred thread can be worn and that, too, on the day of Puja. Kadas (steel bracelets) can be worn only by Sikh officers and men or officers commanding Sikh troops. No one can sport "tilak, vibhuti or any other religious symbol" while in uniform. No charms or sacred thread can be worn around the neck. If worn, no part should be visible outside the uniform.

Yoga Stretches Far, From India to San Francisco

Posted on 2004/1/23 8:46:02 ( 898 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, January 18, 2004: Yoga Journal magazine is hosting its second annual West Coast conference, bringing together world-renowned faculty and yoga practitioners. More than 800 people will be attending the four-day affair, to be held at the San Francisco Hyatt Regency Embarcadero from January 30 to February 2, 2004. Celebrity instructors such as Judith Lasater, Rodney Yee and Baron Baptiste will be on hand to conduct classes and educate attendees about the range of health benefits associated with yoga. Though modern yoga originally moved across the country from the east, introduced first by young swamis and yoga masters of Indian origin, the movement quickly found fertile ground in the Bay Area, with acolytes such as Lasater, co-founder of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco and president of the California Yoga Teachers Association, traveling to India and bringing back its ethical and philosophical precepts. Today, nearly 20 percent of the country's 15 million yoga practitioners live on the West Coast. "For a long time, people thought practicing yoga meant putting your foot behind your head," says Elise Miller, a noted yoga teacher who founded the California Yoga Center studio in Palo Alto and will appear at the conference. "It's much more than that, though. Among so many other things, it's about quieting the mind and the nervous system. It's about concentration, meditation, spirituality and reaching an enlightened state." The Yoga Journal began as a not-for-profit newsletter launched by the California Yoga Teachers Association back in 1975. The magazine has become a slick glossy whose paid subscriber base has risen from 90,000 in 1998 to more than 300,000 today. It also organizes several well-attended conferences each year.

Hindu Council of Seychelles Invites People to Participate in Vedanta Day

Posted on 2004/1/22 8:49:02 ( 1046 reads )


SEYCHELLES, January 2004: The Hindu Council of Seychelles under the aegis of the High Commission of India, invited people to take part in "Vedanta Day" on January 12, 2003, to commemorate the 140th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, one of the geatest spiritual masters of India. The Seychelles is located off the coast of southern Africa and has a small Hindu population. Children under 15 years of age took part in an on-the-spot quiz contest and winners awarded prizes. Children were invited to come in Vivekananda dress for a separate competition on the stage. Expounding on what is Vedanta, Mr S.R. Prasad, a yoga instructor from Rishikesh, India, said: "Vedanta is that aspect of the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras that speak about the nature of Brahman or the Self. It conclusively establishes that the individual Self and the Supreme Self are one and the same thus man is essentially divine in nature. It helps us to understand that all creation is one. The minute we understand and experience this, we undergo a transformation. We become free from our limitations and imperfections and our outlook becomes universal. When each and every human being undergoes this experience, the entire society will live in perfect harmony, love and universal brotherhood. At an individual level, even while living in the body, you are a free soul. The attachment to the body, me, mine and I, all vanish. You enjoy perfect freedom. You are free from the cycle of the birth and death. And that is Moksha - Liberation. That's where Vedanta finally takes you."

Mumbai Dabbawalas to Coach Management Students

Posted on 2004/1/22 8:48:02 ( 1046 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 21, 2004: After impressing Prince Charles with their clockwork precision and managerial skills, the famous dabbawalas, or tiffin carriers, from Mumbai are all set to teach some tricks of their trade to over 1,000 management students gathered in Lucknow, India. The students of IIM-Lucknow have invited representatives of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Carriers Association, Raghunath Medge and Gangarao Talekar, to Manfest- 2004, their annual festival. The theme of this year's festival is "The complete CEO workout." One topic of discussion, "Dabbawalas' experiment can't be replicated elsewhere. Do you agree?" During their interaction with the dabbawalas, the students from 50 management institutes across the country would learn how they have managed to survive in a competitive market and have expanded their business over the years. Among others invited to the festival are former cricketer Kapil Dev, Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairperson Pradip Baijal, besides several management gurus.

The dabbawalas who have been in operation since 1890, and are a lifeline for a majority of the officegoers in Mumbai, supplying homemade food at affordable rates. By "homemade," they mean "homemade," that is, prepared by the person's family, packed and handed to the dabbawala for delivery to the family member at work. There are close to 5,000 dabbawalas, in Mumbai today, supplying around 200,000 dabbas (tiffin boxes) across the length and breadth of the city every day. Most of them hail from Pune district. With an interesting color-coding scheme, comprehensible even to the illiterates, the dabbawalas manage their supply network with an enviable precision. An employee drops the lunch boxes (known as tiffins), collected individually from homes, at the nearest railway station. From here, the boxes go through a series of complex but well worked out transport systems, including trains, motors and bicycles, passing through multiple hands, before finally landing at the customer's table at his office.

The tiffins are collected, sorted out, coded and sent to their destinations. Every station has a numerical code and each place has an alphabetical code. The tiffin carries the code of the source and the destination. The codes help them identify each tiffin owner. The system has been developed over the years and perfected, beginning with colored threads and evolving to more systematic and logical codes. Whether it is the manager of a bank, a computer engineer, or a 10-year-old waiting for piping hot puris in school, the dabbawalas cater to all. The only hindrance would be a railway strike. The dabbawalas will explain their foolproof method to the young aspiring managers, and hope it would prove beneficial for them in their long-term business enterprises.

Sister Gargi of Vedanta Society Passes On

Posted on 2004/1/22 8:47:02 ( 1076 reads )

News Report

KOLKATA, INDIA, January 21, 2004: The eminent researcher on Swami Vivekananda, Marie Louise Burke, has died at her residence in the San Francisco Vedanta Society in the US, the Ramakrishna Mission said. Burke, age 93, popularly known as Sister Gargi, died on Tuesday and was single. Initiated into Ramakrishna-Vivekananda movement by Swami Ashokananda, founder secretary of San Francisco Vedanta Society, Sister Gargi devoted her life to research on Swami Vivekananda's works in the West which culminated in the nine-volume Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries. Sister Gargi was the first recipient of the Vivekananda Purashkar award instituted by the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in 1984.

Swami Chides Mela Administration About Incomplete Preparations for Ardha Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2004/1/19 8:49:02 ( 910 reads )

Translation from Navbharat Times

HARIDWAR, INDIA, January 15, 2004: As Haridwar prepares for the four-month-long Ardha Kumbha Mela, Swami Chinmayananda expresses his concern about the inadequate preparations for the event. For the first time in history, the Central Government is footing the bill for the Mela and has given the Mela Administration the sum of US$30 million. However, according to the article, neither the roads have been completely built, nor is the arrangement of cleanliness satisfactory. Swami Chinmayananda says that the Mela Administration should be given zero marks for cleanliness. He also pointed out that a claim by the Mela Administration that 500,000 devotees took a holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti was not true. The Minister of State for Home Affairs adds, "That till now the Administration has not been able to provide proper facilities of drinking water and electricity supply at the public and private bathing ghats." There are also reports of pilgrims coming back from the Mela with illnesses caused by polluted water.

Temple Desecrated in Fiji

Posted on 2004/1/19 8:48:02 ( 1025 reads )


SUVA, FIJI, January 18, 2004: Police are on the hunt for thieves who desecrated a temple early yesterday. The Shiu Narayan temple at Salato Circle in Newtown, outside Suva, was left in a mess when its priest arrived for worship. It was the fifth time thieves raided the temple. Police said thieves gained entry by removing louvre blades and making away with $1,260 worth of items including speakers and religious equipment. The temple caretaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were tired of reporting the matter to police and were reiterating their calls to relevant authorities to find the culprits who have no respect for places of worship. The caretaker said this was not the first time for the thieves to break into the temple and, despite police intervention, the temple still remains a target for thieves. Government has in the past declared that it will not tolerate the desecration of any religious place of worship. Minister for Multi Ethnic Affairs George Shiu Raj yesterday said he was deeply concerned about the incident. Mr Raj said peace and unity in multiracialism was being attacked by such acts.

Millions of Devotees in India Celebrate Makar Sankranti

Posted on 2004/1/19 8:47:02 ( 872 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 14, 2004: The festival of Makar Sankranti was celebrated fervently throughout India recently. At Hardwar about 700,000 pilgrims and sadhus took a holy dip in the river Ganga to commemorate the beginning of the Ardh-Kumbh Mela. In West Bengal where the Ganga and Bay of Bengal meet, 200,000 devotees took a holy dip and performed puja at the Kapil Muni Temple. Around 5,000 police were employed to make sure the occasion was safe for the pilgrims. The Northern States of Rishikesh and Sonepat reported that people of all ages and sizes braved dense fog and cold winds to bathe in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. In Gujarat the festival of Uttrayan, which marks a change in the direction of the sun, was celebrated with people flying kites.

Kauai Island Honors Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Posted on 2004/1/19 8:46:02 ( 1047 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, January 19, 2004: The annual Kauaian Days He Inoa no Kaumuali'i Parade moved along Kaumuali'i Highway to Kaua'i Community College Saturday without a hitch. The community event focused on honoring Kaua'i, its people and its past. Upcoming events include a Martin Luther King memorial on Monday, along with community events across the island.

Among them is "Gurudeva Day," honored by an event from 10 a.m.-noon at Lydgate Park on Saturday, January 24, which focuses on the late Gurudeva, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's vision of "Aloha: It's Kaua'i's Spirit. One Island, Many Peoples, All Kauaians."

HPI adds: The event is organized by island leaders to give recognition and respect to Gurudeva and Kauai's Hindu monastery, valued assets to the community. Gurudeva, and his successor Bodhinatha, continue to work behind the scenes to assist with island development and problem solving.

Startling Pesticide Levels in Food in India

Posted on 2004/1/19 8:45:02 ( 914 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 10, 2004: The Centre for Science and Environment conducted a study in November and December of 2003 to determine the level of pesticides in food eaten by the average consumer in India. Sunita Narain director of CSE says, "The results were startling. Of the eight pesticides, the theoretical maximum daily intake (TMDI) for five pesticides was found to be 140 per cent to 7,218 per cent of accepted norms worldwide. The results were published in the CSE's magazine Down To Earth." Apparently the Insecticide Act of 1968 gives guidelines to the Central Insecticide Board and Registration committee when a pesticide is registered. However, these guidelines do not set the Acceptable Daily Intake of a pesticide that can be consumed by an individual on a daily basis without adversely affecting their health, nor do they establish a maximum residue level for food commodities. 180 pesticides have been registered in India but only 71 of them have a MRL. A sampling of results are as follows: rice has a contamination level of 87.4%, pulses 43%, vegetables 56.62%, fruit 42%, and spices 71.5%. Earlier studies by the Indian Council of Medical Research between 1986 and 1991 on milk, milk products and baby food in 12 states revealed the following, "It found that of the total of 2,205 milk samples, HCH was found in 85 per cent of the samples, and DDT contamination in 82 per cent of the samples."

Mad Cow Disease has Caused Americans to Take a Second Look at Their Dietary Choices

Posted on 2004/1/19 8:44:02 ( 882 reads )


OREGON, U.S.A., January 10, 2004: Mad Cow Disease, scientifically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, has caused alarm to some American consumers of beef after a Washington Holstein was identified as carrying the disease. Some are considering adopting a vegetarian diet. This article explains how the beef industry has permeated American Society. Cow by-products are used to make gelatin, soap, asphalt roads and car tires. In the pharmaceutical industry many drugs come from a cow's body including Heparin, an anticoagulant used to thin blood, and Epinephrine to stimulate the heart in the event of cardiac arrest. The article says, "Plenty to render, recycle -- only about half of a beef cow ends up in the meat case, according to the National Renderers Association. The castoffs from beef production -- 35 million cattle slaughtered annually -- would quickly overflow the nation's landfills if they weren't rendered and recycled. So the humble cow continues to yield fertilizer from dried blood, buttons from hooves, neat's-foot oil from shin bones and toothpaste from fats." For Hindus, this article is a real eye opener -- actually rather shocking -- as we revere all life forms and do not consider that a human life form is superior to any other. Our hearts go out to the humble cow, used, abused and never honored in modern society.

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