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Central Java's Hindu Temples

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:49:02 ( 1062 reads )

Jakarta Post

JAVA, INDONESIA, July 13, 2003: The Hindu temples of Gedung Songo are not as famous as their younger Javanese successors, but the scenery, clear mountain air and outstanding views create a setting that rivals Java's more celebrated temples. The beauty of visiting Gedung Songo lies in being able to slowly meander up and down the hillside, appreciating each temple individually. The six temples are evenly spaced out, about 125 to 225 yards apart, on individual plateaus and ridges. The structures, among Java's oldest Hindu temples, were built between 750 and 775 CE. The largest group of structures is clustered around temple three. The main temple here is dedicated to Lord Siva, the one to the north Lord Vishnu and the one to the south Lord Brahma. Inside, the statues of Nandiswara on the north and Mahakala on the south are still in place. Lord Ganesha is placed on the wall opposite the door, Goddess Durga on the north and Agastya on the south. This pattern is the earliest example of the distribution that was standard throughout the rest of the Central Javanese classical period, and demonstrate that it was here at Gedung Songo that Javanese architects formulated a style that persisted, with refinements, for centuries.

Kumbha Mela Elephant Injured

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:48:02 ( 1001 reads )


NASIK, INDIA, July 19, 2003: Preparations are under way for the Trayambakeshwar Kumbha Mela, the first Kumbha Mela of the 21st century, to be held in August at Nasik, Maharashtra. However, the organizers have run into a serious problem for Shivgaj, the 35-year-old elephant who was likely to lead the opening ceremony, is out with an injury. Shivgaj's hind legs are injured due to the chains used to tie him for the past one month. Efforts are now on to ensure his speedy recovery. "The elephant is important as he resembles my God Ganapathy," says caretaker Lakshmichandra Shinde. Shivgaj's caretakers insist that he needs to be chained during these months, the mating season, as he often resorts to violence in his futile search for a mate. "If you leave him these days, then he will run around and toss all vehicles like so many footballs," said Bhagwadgiri, a priest. Pilgrims and sadhus who have begun to assemble at the Trayambakeshwar Kumbha Mela site are hoping that Shivgaj will recover in time. The incident highlights the difficulty of keeping elephants in captivity, and the need for more humane systems of restraint than iron chains.

Lord Ganesha in Indonesia

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:47:02 ( 954 reads )


BANGKOK, THAILAND, January 7, 2003: Throughout the day, devotees offer flowers and incense to a large gilt statue of Lord Ganesha who sits on its high pedestal under a canopy outside Bangkok's World Trade Center. If passersby do not have a gift for the deity, they offer a simple sawasdee -- the traditional Thai greeting with respectfully folded palms, called namaskaram in India. The respect accorded to Ganesha is a reminder that Southeast Asia has had a thousand years of interaction with India. Yet modern Southeast Asians seldom mention the Hindu kingdoms that once flourished in Java, Sumatra, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. While more exalted Deities were forgotten, the lovable Lord Ganesha remained a vibrant reminder of the synergy of Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Upadesha on the Guru by H.H. Tejomayananda

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:46:02 ( 910 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 12, 2003: On the occasion of Guru Purnima, H.H. Swami Tejomayananda gave an upadesha in praise of the Satguru. "In Hinduism the place of the guru is considered higher than that of the Lord Himself. Atheists and nonbelievers feel that this is a gross exaggeration. They cannot comprehend the concept. We learn from teachers, who give us knowledge on various secular subjects; we respect them, but do not revere them, as we do our guru. Is the worship of the guru an overstatement? In any stuti or praise there is, normally, a tendency to exaggerate, but this does not hold true in the adoration of the Lord, His devotees, a mahatma or the guru. In fact, any praises spoken, sung or written about any of these always fall short of their true import. If we say that the sun's light is like the light of countless glowworms, will it be an overstatement?" To read the full text of Swami's talk, click on "source" above.

Amarnath "Ash" Cures Paralysis

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:45:02 ( 1263 reads )


AMARNATH, INDIA, July 15, 2003: After being bedridden for 14 years and now completely recovered from paralysis, Sarwer Ahmed was pilgrimaging to Lord Siva's holy cave shrine, Amarnath. Dressed in a dhoti and chanting "Jai Bolay Nath, Jai Shiv Shanker," this Muslim businessman, accompanied by his wife Abida, were part of the first batch to pay obeisance at the holy ice Lingam. From Assam, Ahmed said his paralysis was cured by the grace of Lord Siva after fourteen years of medical treatment that did not help. "I am happy that Lord Siva had cured my husband after we rubbed on his forehead ash (vibuthi) from the Amarnath cave brought by a family friend last year," said Ahmed's wife Abida.

"Ahmed was normal after this, and his two legs and right arm, which were paralyzed since 1988, started working well," she said. "It was the miracle of 'Bolay Baba' for us as well as doctors, who had declared him an 'incurable patient.' We had prayed to God that if Ahmed was fully cured from paralysis, we would visit Amarnath every year and this is the first time we are going", Abid said.

Iran's Bandar Abbas Hindu Temple

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:44:02 ( 3237 reads )


TEHRAN, IRAN, July 17, 2003: The historic Bandar Abbas Hindu Temple in Hormozgan Province is considered a unique sample of Indian architecture in Iran. The temple was built in 1310 CE by Indian architects for Hindus residing in the region, following the order of the Governor of the ports at the time, Mohammad-Hassan Khan Sa'dolmalek. Covering a total area of 300 meters, the temple has a large square-shaped room and a corridor embracing the room. A niche with a dome-shaped ceiling is also built in the temple which seems to be where the statute was set up. It is located in the center of Bandar Abbas, across from the bazaar long used by local salesmen. Its beautiful dome, as well as the pictures of man and horse painted on the walls draw attention of most visitors. The temple is registered as an Iranian national monument by the Cultural Heritage Organization and the renovation of the building began in 1997. HPI adds: This is the entire report on the temple, and it appears that there is neither Deity nor worship there.

U.S. National Park Service Keeps Hindu Names for Grand Canyon Buttes

Posted on 2003/7/19 9:43:02 ( 1381 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C, July 14, 2003: Succumbing to complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Park Service (NPS) has removed plaques of Biblical passages at popular viewing areas of the Grand Canyon, citing concerns that it may violate the separation between church and state. However, the Park Service recently decided that one of the main trails into the Arizona attraction may carry the name "Bright Angel," and a number of the Canyon's formations can share the names of Hindu gods. "Brahma Temple," "Vishnu Temple," "Siva Temple," and the Trimurti are all represented as "temple buttes" in some of the Grand Canyon's most impressive rock formations. A butte is a hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding areas and has sloping sides and a flat top. In an area as deep as the Grand Canyon, the buttes rise thousands of feet. The names and areas of the Grand Canyon which bear Hindu names can be found in Hinduism Today here. These buttes are "just" recently named rock formations, and not ancient temples as is sometimes reported in India.

Hindu Pilgrims Reach Kashmir's Holy Cave

Posted on 2003/7/18 9:49:02 ( 1077 reads )


PAHALGAM,INDIA, July 12, 2003: Undeterred by the cold mountain air, rocky terrain and fears of terrorist attacks, more than 6,500 devotees camped in tents at a base camp overlooking an icy blue lake in Sheshnag, Kashmir, the last stop before the annual trek up the mountain to one of the most revered of Hindu shrines. At daybreak on Saturday, authorities allowed the pilgrims to journey the final 11 miles up to Amaranth cave at an altitude of 13,500 feet where Hindus worship Lord Siva in the form of an ice stalagmite in the ice cave shrine. About 21,000 paramilitary soldiers and policemen were deployed along the mountain route this year to protect the pilgrims from terrorists. The annual pilgrimage will end on August 12.

Amarnath Route Clogged by Unregistered Pilgrims

Posted on 2003/7/18 9:48:02 ( 1047 reads )


SRINAGAR, INDIA, July 15, 2003: Poor planning and lack of proper regulation of pilgrim traffic to Amarnath has resulted in serious inconveniences to pilgrims. Traffic from Aishmuqum to Chandanwari is clogged for hours daily while pilgrims are forced to spend nights in adjoining jungles when the base camps of Nunwan, Chandanwari and Pahalgam fill up. Officials say that though the government had fixed the pilgrim quota at 100,120 this year, a large number of unregistered pilgrims arrived and this group is twice the number of registered pilgrims. The J-K government is required to permit 3,500 pilgrims daily -- 2,700 from Pahalgam and 800 from Baltal. However, Anantnag deputy commissioner Shalendra Kumar said Pahalgam alone receives 8,000-9,000 pilgrims daily. Kumar said the carrying capacity of Pahalgam is not more than 2,500-3,000 and that he has written to the government to extend the yatra by 45 days in future.

Future British Monarch Need Not Be Anglican

Posted on 2003/7/18 9:47:02 ( 990 reads )


UNITED KINGDOM, July 16, 2003: A future British monarch need not be a member of the Anglican church, and minor royals ought to "go out and get a job," recommends a radical report on the monarchy. The Fabian Commission, which received Buckingham Palace's cooperation during its inquiry, also called for the monarch be allowed to retire, opening the way for younger members of the Royal Family to accede. In the report, which its authors believe will be looked on favorably by the royal family, the Fabians called for the monarchy to become better adapted to the norms of contemporary society and said a Roman Catholic should be able to marry a future king or queen. Also, future monarchs need no longer be head of the Anglican church and would not be barred from reigning if they were "Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu." Any future coronation ceremony could be entirely secular or "reflect the faith -- if any -- of the incoming monarch or, as Prince Charles has suggested, reflect all faiths."

Hampi's Glory to be Revived

Posted on 2003/7/18 9:46:02 ( 1045 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, July 14, 2003: In an effort to revive the lost glory of Hampi, the capital of the 14th century Vijayanagar Empire, Karnataka has prepared a US$108,000,000 project for the Centre to raise funds from international financial institutions. Written along the lines of the smaller Ajanta and Ellora project, the proposal, envisages funding from Japan Bank of International Cooperation or World Bank. Rehabilitation of the burgeoning population of nearby villages, construction of a new airport, fast trains from the Bangalore International airport straight to Hampi and much more are all part of this ambitious vision of Hampi, the International Tourism Center. "Our plans are bigger than Ajanta and Ellora. After the Taj Mahal, I want to make Hampi the next most important heritage destination in India," said tourism commissioner Vandita Sharma.

Festival of Ayurveda Begun in London

Posted on 2003/7/18 9:45:02 ( 1021 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, July 16, 2003: In an effort to popularize the age-old Indian Ayurveda system, a two-week-long Festival of Ayurveda was launched here where visitors would get extensive information on the various aspects of this ancient system of medicine. Gopi Warrier, Chairman of the Ayurvedic Company of Great Britain, inaugurated the festival at Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan on Tuesday night by lighting a traditional lamp, which was followed by recitation of poetry by Dr. Krishna Kumar linked to the enormous power of Ayurveda and Kathakali dance eulogizing the system by Abhay Shankar Mishra and party. Warrier said each day during the two weeks would be devoted for a particular aspect of Ayurveda -- like Ayurveda for migraine, Ayurveda in prostate disease, in anxiety, depression and hair loss. Additionally, there will be free Ayurveda consultations at the Bhavan during the whole year.

Yoga Stretches Traditional Christian Boundaries

Posted on 2003/7/18 9:44:02 ( 1001 reads )

Religion News Service

VIRGINIA, U.S.A., July 14, 2003: Marylyn Mandeville sits crossed-legged on a mat in front of her students. Her hands are folded as if in prayer, framed by the slogan on her T-shirt: "Know Yoga, Know Peace." A gold cross rests on the Om symbol emblazoned on her shirt. Mandeville is part of a growing movement to reformulate yoga, a 5,000 year-old Hindu practice, in a Christian context. While some argue that taking up a yoga practice might lead Christians down the "dangerous" path of New Age mysticism, Mandeville says she considers it part of her ministry to teach other Christians how to look after their bodies. As yoga becomes increasingly popular, with an estimated 15 million practitioners in the United States, alternative forms of yoga are steadily grabbing more adherents. At least half of those people are coming to yoga from a Christian background, says the Rev. Thomas Ryan, a Catholic priest. "There are an enormous number of people engaging in Eastern practices like yoga and meditation who need assistance making the points of connection with their Christian faith," says Ryan, who will lead a yoga retreat at the Kripalu Yoga center in Western Massachusetts this August. "There is a sense among some that this comes from Hinduism, but when one looks at yoga, it really belongs to world spirituality," he added.

But while fans marvel at the growing success of the movement, others say Christianity and yoga shouldn't be mixed. Daniel Akin, dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said Christians who are drawn to the physical benefits of yoga should avoid its spiritual and psychological underpinnings. "Yoga is rooted in Eastern mysticism, and Eastern mysticism is incompatible with Christianity," he said. Others say it's impossible to extract the physical benefits of yoga from its spiritual roots. Laurette Willis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who developed her own stretching exercises set to Christian Scriptures, argues that yoga's emphasis on cultivating divine energy within oneself conflicts with Christianity's goal of finding salvation through Christ.

Images Of Amarnath Siva Lingam and Pilgrims

Posted on 2003/7/17 9:49:02 ( 1015 reads )


AMARNATH, INDIA, July 12, 2003: Amidst chants of "Har Har Mahadev" and "Jai Bholanath," the first batch of devotees on the annual Amarnath pilgrimage paid obeisance at the holy ice Lingam at the cave shrine here. To view excellent photos of Amarnath pilgrims and the holy Lingam, click on "source" above.

Fiji Fire Walking Tapas Attracts Devotees

Posted on 2003/7/17 9:48:02 ( 1063 reads )


FIJI ISLANDS, July 14, 2003: The first fire walking by the India Sangarma Ikya Sangam devotees took place today in the Sri Raj Maha Mariamman Temple. Chief Priest Pandit Tirthadeva Peruman, who has been doing the fire-walking puja (prayer) for the past five years, officiated. Almost a thousand people attended the celebration, but only about 45-48 people participated in the actual fire-walking ceremony, as it calls for stringent control on the lifestyles of participants. The ceremony was part of a week-long puja held to pay homage to the three Goddesses: Kali, Draupati and Karumari Amman.

Fire walking, where Hindus walk on a pit of smoldering coals, has been done by Hindus in Fiji since 1923, beginning soon after the arrival of South Indians in that country. The native Fijians also have an ancient tradition of fire walking. Scientifically, the fire-walking ceremony has baffled many because those who walk on these smoldering coals come off unharmed.

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