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Saivite and Vaishnavite Sects May Bathe in Peace at Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2003/7/10 9:45:02 ( 1137 reads )


NASHIK, INDIA, July 8, 2003: This Kumbha Mela may witness the coming together of the disciples of Lord Siva and Vishnu. The Saivite mahants are trying to persuade Vaishnavite sadhus to take a holy dip at Trimbakeshwar during the fair to end an age-old feud between the two sects. Mahant Purushottamdasji Maharaj of Anand Akhada of the Saiva sect and chief of the Trimbakeshwar Akhada Parishad Mahant Sagaranandji said Saivite Mahants will request their Vaishnavite counterparts to bathe at Trimbakeshwar. This is the first time such efforts are being made since 1838 when a dispute over rights to bathe first at a kund led to bloodshed. Hundreds were killed on both sides until the then Peshwa ruler intervened. He decided the Saivites would bathe at Trimbakeshwar while the Vaishnavite would bathe at Ram Kund at Nashik, 30 km away.

Priestly Patriarch Sri Sambamurthy Sivachariar Attains Maha Samadhi

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:49:02 ( 3833 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, July 9, 2003: Sri T.S. Sambamurthy Sivachariar attained the lotus feet of Goddess Kaligambal on July 7, 2003, at 4:15 am in Chennai and was cremated with all rituals on July 8. Sri Sambamurthy was a diabetic, on kidney dialysis and had had heart by-pass surgery. He stopped eating solid food on January 3 of this year and subsisted on liquid food until his passing. He breathed his last while holding the icon of Goddess Kaligambal which from his shrine room.

Born on February 11, 1925, on Uthiram, in the town of Thirumazhisai, Tamil Nadu, South India, son of the renowned priest Sri Shanmuga, he was trained in the priesthood at home under the tutelage of his father and relatives. Upon his marriage, he commenced his priest work. During his long lifetime, Sambamurthy Sivachariar was instrumental in raising the stature of the Hindu priestly profession around the world. Having been greatly reduced in size and stature over the last two hundred years by the forces of secularization and worldliness, Sambamurthy Sivachariar held tight to the priestly traditions while training his sons and sons-in-law as humble, devout and knowledgeable servants for the temples of Lord Siva, the Goddess and the other Gods of the Hindu pantheon. As head of a large number of Sivacharyas, Sri Sambamurthy traveled the globe dedicating temples and seeing to it that traditional ritual worship was followed. Sri Sambamurthy garnered the respect of everyone who met him, even those not normally generous in their regard for priests.

Such was Sri Sambamurthy's expertise that by age 76 he had participated in more than 2,000 kumbhabhishekams, the most complex of all temple ceremonies, all across India and in many other countries. Sri Sambamurthy presided over a number of special peace yagnas, fire ceremonies, for India's welfare in times of famine and disasters. Outside of India, he dedicated temples in Washington D.C., Texas, Boston, Hawaii, U.K., Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Australia and Thailand. He also represented Hinduism at world religious conferences and received dozens of awards. Most recently he represented the Saivite priesthood at the Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations in August, 2000, and was Hinduism Today's 2001 Hindu of the Year recipient. Hinduism Today reporter Sivakamasundari Shanmugasundaram wrote of him, "I can easily say that Sri Sambamurthy commands the respect that he does all over the world because of two things, his spiritual demeanor and serenity and his unparalleled devotion." Every day without fail he performed an hour of personal worship of God. Every Monday he observed silence, no matter what the event transpiring or the VIPs present. He was a strict vegetarian, and observed all the rules of personal purity necessary to do the priestly work. Though he probably had more visa stamps in his passport than most international businessmen, he made no special attempt to profit from his popularity. In fact, when the government of India offered to give him the very valuable priest's house of the Kaaligambal Temple, where he was head priest, he refused, saying it should be retained for the next head priest.

Sri Sambamurthy was a leading member of the South India Archaka Sangam, the foremost association of Saiva priests. He and his sons also actively trained his family's young men in the priesthood. Sri Sambamurthy was a forward-looking priest, aware of the needs of a global Hinduism. He offered to train and ordain anyone as a priest who was willing to dedicate their life to the worship of Lord Siva and follow the disciplines of the priesthood. In this manner, he would establish new lineages, especially in other countries, of people born there. As a result, many priests trained by him are serving around the world. He was honored and respected worldwide because of the extraordinary effort he made to meet the spiritual needs of Hindus around the world.

His passing was covered in many news media, including India's Raj and Jaya TV, the dailies Dinar Mala and others, the Hindu, and in Canada, London, Reunion, Mauritius, Kuala Lumpur and other areas.

Swami Chidananda Saraswati Leads Pilgrimage to Mansarovar

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:48:02 ( 1276 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, July 4, 2003: H.H. Swami Chidananda Saraswati, affectionately known as Muniji, head of the Parmarth Niketan ashram in Rishikesh, will lead nearly 200 pilgrims from 13 countries to Lake Mansarovar, near Mount Kailash in Tibet, to inaugurate a rest house for tourists and pilgrims. The project, funded by the Rishikesh-based India Heritage Research Foundation (IHRF), includes running a clinic and cleaning up the area near the lake.

The pilgrims will depart Katmandu for Lhasa on Saturday. This will be the climax to an effort that can be traced back to 1998 when Muniji first went on pilgrimage to Kailash. Moved by the desperateness of the situation of the people living there, Muniji set up a one-man bureau in Katmandu that spent two years negotiating with Beijing to get permission for the project. An agreement was signed between Swami, sponsor IHRF, Chinese and Tibetan senior officials in Katmandu on December 15, 2000. It states that "for future projects in the region, including schools, hospitals, rest houses, sanitation programs, the government of Tibet/China will give first priority to IHRF to sponsor the project." It required great diplomatic skill to arrange this agreement with the Chinese government.

Major Beautification Drive At Basar Temple

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:47:02 ( 1096 reads )


BASAR, INDIA, July 7, 2003: The temple town of Basar in Adilabad district, famous for the only temple of Goddess Saraswati in South India, is getting a massive facelift thanks to the combined efforts of various departments which have taken up projects to the tune of over US$200,000. The Forest Department, Panchayat Raj, Roads & Buildings Department, the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority, and the Endowments Department have come forward to beautify the famous temple. The Gnana Saraswati Devasthanam is spending a major share of its earnings towards providing amenities and additional facilities to the pilgrims. The temple has taken care to cater to the increasing number of pilgrims thronging the place. Among the many projects are new roads and the laying of new pipelines to provide safe drinking water. Thirty acres of land around the temple hills have been developed with greenery and gardens. The entire facade of the temple has changed after the beautification process added planters, soft landscaping and ornamental plants. The temple attracts around 5 million pilgrims every year.

World Hindu Federation Opposes Move to Declare Nepal a Secular State

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:46:02 ( 1053 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, July 9, 2003: The World Hindu Federation has opposed any move to declare Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation, a secular state. A country, where 90 percent of its population including Buddhists, Vedic, Jain and Sikhs are the followers of the Arya Sanatan Hindu religion, a secular state is both "ridiculous and against the principles of democracy," WHF President Bharat Keshar Singh said in a statement here.

A meeting of members of the dissolved House of Representatives adopted an 18-point agenda on Saturday, which said equal status be given to all religions by amending the constitution. However, Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh K C denied that the agitating parties have passed any resolution demanding to declare Nepal a secular state. "We have not mentioned the word secularism in our agenda. We have only voiced for treating all the religions in an equal manner. We emphasized on protecting all the religions," he added.

HPI adds: Nepal is the special target of Christian missionaries, who pour millions of dollars a year into conversion efforts in the country, even though coversion is illegal. The proposal to make Nepal a "secular" state would greatly further their efforts.

Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust Aids Chennai Water Supply

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:45:02 ( 1045 reads )

The Hindu

CHENNAI, INDIA, July 9, 2003: Even as the taps run dry following the hottest summer in 93 years, Chennai-ites have reason to celebrate. The Chennai Water Project of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust is nearly 70% complete at the Andhra end. On January 19, 2002, after Sri Sathya Sai Baba announced that he would do something to provide drinking water to Chennai the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, a non-denominational, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization, swung into action. The project, which began in October 2002 and involved over 4,000 workers and 50 site engineers, is slated to be completed by August this year. The project is enormous in magnitude for a private trust to have undertaken.

Kashmir Again Becomes a Tourist Destination

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:44:02 ( 1017 reads )


PAHALGAM, KASHMIR, June 27, 2003: Kashmir has once again become the destination for Indian families trying to escape blistering summer heat. Kashmir is a stunningly beautiful swath of Himalayan territory, but has been the scene of a brutal 13-year terrorist action and the focus of two wars between India and Pakistan. However, by June 24, 64,000 Indian and 800 foreign tourists had visited the Kashmir Valley this year, six times the number who arrived in the same period last year, according to state officials. The unexpected explosion in tourism has booked hotels solid and jammed flights. "I've never seen this many Western tourists," said Eileen Salzig, a Manhattan copywriter who said she had been coming to Kashmir for the last three years. "I think it's good for Kashmir." There are many reasons for the turnaround. In April Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee began a peace initiative with Pakistan that reduced war fears. Killings in the state are down 20 percent this year, and a newly elected state government has started a "healing touch" policy intended to ease tensions and project an air of normalcy. However, away from the tourists spots, thousands of soldiers, militants and civilians are involved in countering the cross-border terrorism.

Training Classes for "Ideal" Wives

Posted on 2003/7/9 9:43:02 ( 1042 reads )


BHOPAL, INDIA, July 1, 2003: After completing her class 12 examination, Deepti is now training at the Manju Sanskar Kendra to be an "ideal wife" to a boy she has only seen once. Six days a week, Deepti attends sermons at the Kendra, an institution set up to train women to surrender to the more powerful in the family -- in this case, the husband and in laws. Aildas Hemnani, the Kendra's head, coaches his students in a room that doubles as a prayer hall in a Sindhi-dominated residential area on the outskirts of Bhopal. A retired Madhya Pradesh government employee, Hemnani's idea to set up this unique institution evolved during a discussion with Sant Hridayaram, who is highly revered by the Sindhis. "I was distressed by the constant bickering among families all around me. At times, it led to divorce. I told Sant Hridayaram that families are breaking up because girls nowadays have too much ego. Parents don't have time to train their daughters properly. Girls must shed their egos to build a happy family. Sant Hridayaram suggested I start a training course." Women's groups first heard of the Kendra two years ago when a local newspaper published a feature on it. "All they teach is subjugation," says Kumud Singh, secretary of the Bhopal district committee of the National Federation of Indian Women. Singh feels that boys should also be coached. "Training and restraining boys is necessary. If men learn to respect women, half the problems families face would be solved." Hemnani says he would like to coach would-be husbands as well. "I wanted to train boys, too, but nobody is interested," he said. He has also created a course that would train women to be ideal mothers-in-law, but, like the course for boys that too didn't take off.

"Notice of Appeal" Filed in McDonald's Veggie Suit

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:49:02 ( 1086 reads )


CHICAGO, U.S.A., June 18, 2003: Michael B. Hyman, principal with Chicago law firm Much Shelist Freed Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, P.C. announced that several prominent members of the vegetarian community filed a notice of appeal related to a suit against fast food giant McDonald's. At issue in the appeal is a recent court ruling that allows the allocation of US$6 million in settlement funds to be directed to groups which do not uphold the values of vegetarianism, as required by the settlement agreement. The suit attacked McDonald's use of beef by-products in the preparation of McDonald's French fries and hash browns.

Some members of the vegetarian community (appellants) are not appealing the settlement itself, but assert that the $6 million distribution subverts the spirit and the letter of the settlement agreement by improperly directing funds to non-vegetarian groups, groups hostile to vegetarianism and groups in limited size and geographical reach. It is expected that the appeal could take more than two years to be argued and a decision rendered.

For more information, go to "source" above and click on the additional articles at the bottom of the page.

Alleged Encroachment of Trincomalee Hindu Temple Lands

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:48:02 ( 1135 reads )


TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA, July 01, 2003: The Trincomalee District Young Men Hindu Association (TDYMHA) brought to the notice of the Hindu Religious Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. T. Maheswaran, that lands belonging to several Hindu temples in the Trincomalee district are being unlawfully occupied by the Singhalese, thus depriving the income from the lands to these temples. Mr. Sivapathasundaram says, "Peace will not come to Madathady area in Trincomalee, even though peace prevails elsewhere in the island, due to this encroachment of Hindu temple lands." He requested the minister to take immediate steps to declare the historic Koneswaram temple a sacred area. About four thousand Hindu temples and religious institutions were completely destroyed or damaged in the war in Sri Lanka. The Hindu Religious Affairs Ministry is taking steps to reconstruct the temple and uplift the standards of Hindus.

Kashmir Hosts 25,000 at Martand Shrine

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:47:02 ( 990 reads )


JAMMU AND KASHMIR, July 8, 2003: About 25,000 Hindus prayed for their ancestors at a shrine in Kashmir following an age-old ritual that has not been performed in 14 years. Many came from refugee camps that are home to several thousand Kashmiri Hindus who left their homes after Muslim terrorism against Indian rule began in 1989. They performed the ritual at the historic shrine of Martand, 275 km east of Jammu. For hundreds of years, Hindus from India and abroad have visited Martand on special occasions to perform the ritual of praying for the peace of the souls of their departed ancestors.

India Moves to Protect Traditional Medicines

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:46:02 ( 1089 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 8, 2003: After losing the patents of neem, bitter gourd and basmati rice, the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) have now decided to strengthen the Indian claim about its traditional knowledge in this area and also help in countering the attempts of other countries to acquire a patent on Indian system of medicine. Most Ayurvedic drugs prevalent in India have not been patented and no effort has been made towards standardizing these drugs according to the international standard of World Health Organization, pointed out Dr. N. Singh, director of the International Institute of Herbal Medicine. At a time when the world is witnessing a paradigm shift in health culture, with more and more people turning to herbal remedies because of harmful side effects caused by synthetic chemical medicines, the need of the hour is to adopt an integrated approach that combines the best of the great Indian herbal heritage with the modern scientific knowledge for revitalizing herbal medicine, Dr. Pushpangadan said.

Quakes Caused Ancient Civilizations' Demise

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:45:02 ( 1285 reads )


PALO ALTO, U.S.A., December 17, 2001: New research by Stanford University scientists in Palo Alto, California, has revealed that earthquakes were the likely cause for the mysterious disappearance of ancient civilizations like the Harappan in India and the Mayan in Central America. The Harappan civilization disappeared in 1900 BCE, after almost 2,000 years of continuous existence. Most researchers could not explain how a city that bustled with activity one day could be buried under several feet of silt the next? Or how rows of heavy stone columns were all toppled in the same direction? Until recently, they blamed it on fires or flash floods. New research, conducted by Manika Prasad and Amos Nur at Stanford University, blames earthquakes. In 1819, a similar earthquake raised an 80 to 100-kilometer ridge of earth about 20 feet, creating an artificial dam. The evidence of seismic activity in the region, combined with the recent discovery of the ancient Saraswati riverbed at the center of the former Harappan region, offers a possible explanation for the civilization's decline.

The cities of Quirigua and Benque Viejo (Xunantunich), now located in Guatemala and Belize, were suddenly abandoned when the Mayan Classic Period ended in the late 9th century CE. Research conducted by Robert Kovach, Professor of Geophysics at Stanford, show that the cities could have been destroyed by a single earthquake centered on the Chixoy-Polochic and Motagua fault zones.

Unique Temple to Snake Deity Discovered in Orissa

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:44:02 ( 1161 reads )


BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, July 4, 2003: A temple built in 10 A.D. to Nagi has been discovered in the village of Ghasiandhuti, in Khurda district of Orissa. The villagers worshipped the Deity as "Uttarayani" not knowing that it was a Nagi (female Snake Deity) image. The Superintendent of the State Archaeological Department, Dr. B. K. Rath says the site was being inspected for conservation under the funds from the 11th Finance Commission. He said that, in the past, Naga (male) and Nagi sculptures have been found on the outer wall of temples such as the Rajarani Temple, the Megheswari temple and the Mukteswar temple but this is the first temple that has Nagi as the presiding Deity. Dr. Rath said the upper part of the three feet high sculpture inside the temple depicts a female Goddess in human form from waist upwards. The discovery of the Nagi temple indicates the prevalence of Naga cult in the area during 10th century CE.

The American Family Decision -- Who Will Raise the Children?

Posted on 2003/7/8 9:43:02 ( 1217 reads )


CHICAGO, U.S.A., July 1, 2003: At the beginning of the last century, American families did not have one major decision to make when starting a family. Wives and future mothers were already at home, and the decision whether to continue working or not, was not there. However, in today's families many young Americans marry but have children later, and by that time have gotten used to two paychecks. When the first child has been conceived, the all important question arises, "Who will take care of the child." Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School says, "The single biggest economic shift in the American family over the last century, and even in the last thirty years, is that mothers continue to work. The two-paycheck family is more vulnerable because it has adjusted its expenses upward because of the second salary." Financial Advisor Brian Ashe helps couples to look at their finances and develop a budget. Ashe explains, "They need to know how much income and expenses they have monthly so they understand where they can cut back if one stops working. Too many think the second income allows them to increase their lifestyle as opposed to savings." Paul and Laura Koch, both 41 and parents of 4 children, made the adjustment from the two paycheck family to one income. Laura Koch says, "My company offered me a part-time management job. We decided it was more important to raise our family ourselves so we made a lifestyle change. I used to spend $15 on lunch, now it's a sandwich from the refrigerator." The Weiss family decided that Ellen would stay home until all the children were of school age. Ellen Weiss says, "My working takes pressure off my husband, and our life overall is better since we're not strapped for cash. We could cover bills on one salary but savings, lessons and other extras would stop." Still others have explored the option of the stay-at-home, parent-earning, income. Andy and Radha Sharma formed a company called Cozy Spaces Ltd. that offers affordable furniture from their native India. They have invested US$20,000 and are confident that this decision will allow them to make money while raising their own children at home.

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