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Vultures Needed for Tradition to Survive
Posted on 2001/3/4 22:49:02 ( 690 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, March 1, 2001: Parsis, descendants of the ancient Persians and followers of the prophet Zoroaster, have an ancient way of disposing of their dead in the city of Bombay. On Malabar Hill and the tranquil park at Doongerwadi, Parsi followers bring their dead to be devoured by vultures. Bodies that have been exposed to the sun and eaten by scavengers ensures that no pollution takes place and that all are equal in death. However this traditional way of disposing of their dead is being threatened. In 1988, 350 pairs of vultures nested in the park. Due to an infectious disease which has reduced the population of vultures to a mere dozen, the situation has escalated to a crisis. The Bombay Parsi council has collaborated with scientists to build an aviary so that vultures can be bred in captivity. The project will take at least four years to get off the ground. In the meantime, the Parsis are left wondering how to dispose of their dead. Many bodies are left to decompose in the tropical sun. At least 1,000 bodies are placed annually in the Tower of Silence and there are simply not enough vultures to uphold the tradition. They are considering switching to cremation.




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School Violence by Teachers--A Cowardly and Sad Crime
Posted on 2001/3/4 22:48:02 ( 637 reads )


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KERALA, INDIA, February 21, 2001: Sparing the rod and spoiling the child, a medieval concept that chipped away at a child's self esteem, has virtually been abandoned in most nations around the world. In 1989 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a move in favor of the "Rights of the Child" and the convention promoted that, "State parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity." However, India has only paid lip service to the U.N. directive. Allowing corporal punishment in certain circumstances, none of which have been defined, has literally given frustrated low paid teachers the license to abuse the children under their care. Several instances have been reported such as a teenager needing surgery because his ears were boxed by a principal, a 5-year-old requiring psychiatric care after physical torture by a teacher, and a 13-year-old was stripped naked and paraded at a New Delhi school. Results of such discipline has been proven completely contrary to the intended result of society and condemned by psychologists and social scientists. Children exposed to such punishment develop warped personalities with inclinations of defiance, hostility, and rebelliousness.




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When Elephants Make Music
Posted on 2001/3/4 22:47:02 ( 777 reads )


Source: New York Times





LAMPANG, THAILAND, December 16, 2000: Elephants are natural candidates for music-making! Their hearing is much keener than their sight, and they employ a vast range of vocalizations, many of which are heard on their recently released debut CD, by the New York-based Mulatta Records. The CD is a brainchild of Richard Lair, an American expatriate who has worked with elephants for 23 years and written an encyclopedic United Nations study of Asia's captive elephants, and David Sulzer, a neurologist who heads Columbia University's Sulzer Laboratory and works as a composer and producer under the name Dave Soldier. Together they organized six young pachyderm at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, near the town of Lampang, where they trained the Thai Elephant Orchestra members to play sturdier versions of traditional Thai instruments -- slit drums, a gong hammered from a sawmill blade, a diddly-bow bass and xylophone-like renats -- and a thundersheet and harmonicas. Sulzer said he and Lair merely showed the elephants how to make the sounds, cued them to start and stop, and let them play as they wished. After five practice sessions, they started recording. Mr. Sulzer admits he was skeptical at first. "I thought we would just train elephants to hit something, and I would tape that and have to paste it together with other things." Instead, he recorded the performances intact, without overdubbing. The players improvise distinct meters and melodic lines, and vary and repeat them. The results are both meditative and deliberate. For Lair, it's simply a matter of interpretation, as in all art: "Just as there are a lot things they don't understand about our music, I am sure there are things we will never understand about theirs." The proceeds from the CD will go to a milk bank for orphaned elephants and a school to improve mahout training. One trainer also said, "It's at least as good as New Age Music."




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Taliban Destroys Ancient Buddhas
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:49:02 ( 675 reads )


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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, March 3, 2001: Troops from the Taliban religious militia, under orders from their supreme commander, Mullah Mohammed Omar, used explosives and rockets Saturday to destroy two towering statues of Buddha in Bamiyan. Already two-thirds of the country's statues have been eliminated. All the rest will be reduced to rubble on Sunday and Monday, despite worldwide pleas to save the priceless treasures. "The head and legs of the Buddha statues were destroyed yesterday,'' said Taliban Information Minister Quadratullah Jamal. "Our soldiers are working hard to demolish their remaining parts." Most of the country's ancient Buddhist relics, fragments of Afghanistan's pre-Islamic past, were destroyed, Jamal said. It is a testament to the Taliban's arsenal that they are able to expend a so much ammunition in the endeavor, without apparently lessening their military capability. Several related articles follow.




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VHP Vows Retaliation
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:48:02 ( 732 reads )


Source: Times of India





KABUL, AFGHANISTAN,March 2, 2001: The Taliban's destruction of statues has evoked a strong response in India, with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) threatening suitable "reaction" in communally sensitive Ajmer town of Rajasthan if they do not stop "insulting" Rajput warrior Prithviraj Chauhan's memorial in Ghazni. "The destruction of Bamiyan statues is an insult to Buddhism," VHP senior vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore added. Asked what was meant by "reaction," Bajrang Dal leader Surendra Jain said, "you never know how people react."




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India Condemns Statue Destruction
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:47:02 ( 720 reads )


Source: The Hindu





NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 2, 2001: In a unanimous resolution adopted by both Houses of Parliament, India condemned "in the strongest possible terms'' the Taliban's decision to destroy the two 2,000- year-old Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The Parliament also offered to bring these monuments to India at its own cost. The Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, Dr. Najma Heptulla, termed it the "blackest day in history'' and said the act was being perpetuated by "so-called protectors of Islam.''




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Experts Claim Taliban Misunderstand Islam
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:46:02 ( 734 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 5, 2001: The tradition of "but shikani" (idol or statue-breaking) practiced by Arab marauders in their quest to rule the Indian subcontinent, was done on the plea that idol or religious object worshipping was un-Islamic. One thousand years later, this intolerance has resurfaced, justifying the destruction of all statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan. Historian and expert on the Islamic period Satish Chandra, says under Islamic law, "old or dead monuments were not to be destroyed.'' An embarrassed Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the highest platform of the Muslim world, urged the Taliban on Saturday to abandon its decision to destroy the country's pre-Islamic statues.




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Meteorite May Show Ancient Life On Mars
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:45:02 ( 710 reads )


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WASHINGTON, February 26, 2001: A controversial finding that a meteorite from Mars might contain evidence of life has been given added credence by the discovery of a magnetic crystal that researchers say could have been made only by a microbe. Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston say that a crystallized magnetic mineral, called magnetite, found in a Martian meteorite is similar to crystals formed on Earth by bacteria. The new study supports the original claim and may even suggest that there is still microscopic life on Mars.




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Correction on Tirumantiram Website
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:44:02 ( 874 reads )


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March 4, 2001: The Tirumantiram scripture is not yet available at http://www.angelfire.com/art/ thirumanthirarsearch. However, the English text can be found at the above site, along with several other ancient Tamil scriptures.




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Correction on Afghanistan Petition
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:43:02 ( 714 reads )


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March 4, 2001: According to information available at the above web site, the petition on the treatment of women in Afghanistan, while largely factual, is useless. The site says, "The problem with this petition is that the person who started the petition was not prepared for the consequences. A few weeks after the petition was started, her e-mail account was flooded with hundreds of thousands of messages. Because of this, her account was closed and all messages were discarded." So the petition continues to travel through the Internet, but to no purpose. This is, the site explains, always the case with any form of chain letter.




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Afghanistan Destroying All Statues
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:49:02 ( 732 reads )


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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, March 1, 2001: Despite international outrage, Taliban troops are destroying all statues including two 5th-century statues of Buddha carved into a mountainside in Bamiyan, which they say are contrary to Islam, in the capital of Kabul as well as in other cities, said Qadradullah Jamal, Taliban's information minister. "All the statues all over the country will be destroyed,'' he said. Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said the tenets of Islam forbids images, such as paintings and pictures. There are an estimated 6,000 pieces of Buddhist art in the Kabul Museum. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pled for the preservation of the art in "the spirit of tolerance enjoined upon by Islam as well as respect for international sentiment in this regard." The Russian and German governments joined in the criticism but Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said the Islamic militia was unmoved by international concern. The Afghan leaders are now saying they are destroying the statues in response to the 1994 destruction of Babri Masjid by Hindus in India. However, this explanation appears to be an afterthought.




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New Holistic Village Proposed In Kerala
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:48:02 ( 806 reads )


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KERALA, INDIA, February 25, 2001: Setting aside a 300-acre setting with natural flora and fauna in northern Kerala, the Kerala State Industrial Development has collaborated with Mata Amrithanandamayi to build a holistic health village on the land. Amma's devotees from all over the world, many of them medical specialists, already spend annual retreats in Kerala. The centre would use their talents to provide quality treatment, research, education and training in alternative medical systems such as ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, aromatherapy and more. After the initial investment the village is expected to generate its own revenues to keep it operational.




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Yoga Works Body, Soothes The Mind
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:47:02 ( 743 reads )


Source: The Washington Times





WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2001: From suburban recreation rooms to the halls of justice, people in the Washington area are experiencing the benefits of a full-body workout with yoga while calming their minds. Even Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, according to this report, asked that yoga be taught at the court. Kamakshi Hart, founder of the Dancing Heart Center for Yoga and the Art of Living on Capitol Hill, got a call from Justice O'Connor last year. Ms. Hart started last March to teach one class a week for the justice and 15 others at the court.Yoga Journal Editor in Chief Kathryn Arnold says 27 types of yoga are being taught in the United States. "What's interesting, as it becomes more popular, we are adapting it to Western sensibilities and Western lifestyle," she says.




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14th Century Kashmiri Poetess Celebrated
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:46:02 ( 832 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today





NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 1, 2001: Dr. Karan Singh, Ms. Eva T. Dafarances, wife of Greece Ambassador and other leading scholars presented an evening on Kashmir mysticism February 11 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, reports Virendra Qazi. The highlight of the evening was the life and times of 14th century mystic poetess of Kashmir, Laleshwari. In the beginning great tributes were paid to late Swami Lakshmanju, the great authority on Kashmir Saivism, who combined profound knowledge with profound experience. Dr. Karan Singh gave an moving recital of a famous poem by Sri Aurobindo.




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New Website on Tamil Tirumantiram Announced
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:45:02 ( 860 reads )


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March 1, 2001: The ancient Tamil scripture, Tirumantiram, is now available in Tamil and English translation at "source" above. It has been posted by Sathiyavel Murugan, a devotee of Thiruperumthiru Somasundara Paramachariya Swamigal, the late pontiff of Madurai Aadheenam, India.




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