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Call for Divali Articles

Posted on 2001/10/17 8:46:02 ( 1118 reads )

Source: www.indiannewslink.co.nz

NEW ZEALAND, October 17, 2001: Indiana Publications Limited, publishers of the "Indian Newslink," seek articles on a contribution basis for their 32-page Divali supplement. The deadline is Monday 22nd October.

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Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji): Understanding the Lessons of September 11

Posted on 2001/10/17 8:45:02 ( 1068 reads )

Source: Hinduism Today

PARMATH NIKETAN, RISHIKESH, INDIA, October 17, 2001: (Note: this longer-than-normal article for HPI is one of the best messages we have received from Hindu religious leaders on the events of September 11. It may be freely reprinted.)

September 11 was a tragic day of unprecedented proportion. Never before in the history of the world had one group so blatantly, so callously, so mercilessly struck at so many thousands of innocent people.

We were in Munich, Germany on the Vishwa Dharma Prasaar Yatra, travelling first to the Caribbean, then to USA and Canada, then to UK and then to Europe, spreading the messages of peace, unity and Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, that "The whole world is one family." In the midst of this yatra, we heard the shattering news. Times like this and acts like these almost render us speechless with sadness. It is only after the sand has settled back on the beach after the storm, that we can bend down and examine the pieces of that which was crushed in the tempest.

Those who engage in these unforgivable acts of terrorism, intimidation and violence claim that they are fighting a jihad, a holy war. However, the term "holy war" is itself an oxymoron, a paradoxical fallacy. A war can never be holy. Only peace is holy. That which is holy is peaceful, loving, pious and compassionate. War, by its very definition, is none of these. The terrorists claim they are fighting a war in the name of God. However, there is no such thing. War -- especially those acts which kill innocent people -- cannot possibly be undertaken with God's consent or to win His favor. How can we -- in God's name -- kill His children, His creation? Could you possibly kill your sister or your brother and claim you did it for your mother or father's sake? Or that you did it in order to win your parents' appreciation? This would be absurd.

Rather than fighting a true "holy" war, the terrorists are using God's name in order to justify their own evil, violence and aggression. To me, the true jihad is a holy war within ourselves, a war against that which is unholy within our own hearts, a war of annihilating our own egos, our own jealousies and grudges.

However, simply condemning the acts is not enough. That which happens must happen for a reason. That which happens must have a lesson inherent within it. Let us then look at what we can learn, what reassurance we can gain from this tragic event. What can we take from this which will both help us grow individually as people as well as help us grow as nations and as a world?

To me, one of the most important lessons here is one of safety, one of comfort, one of complacency. So many people throughout the world (especially those living in India, or Indians who live abroad) think of everything Western as superior, as inherently "safe." If you give someone a gift and say it's "from America," their eyes will widen with anticipation. If you tell someone that a particular object you own is "from America," that automatically grants it "First Class" status. The idea of sending our children "to America" for studies or work is one that fills us with great pride, comfort and security. It is every parent's dream to send their children "to America," and it is every child's dream to go. It is not only that parents think their children will have a higher income in America. Rather, there is an inherent yet almost tangible feeling of safety, security and superiority about everything Western.

Additionally, from what I have seen, people living in America have a very deep sense of safety, security and invincibility. There is a sense -- taught since childhood -- that living under the umbrella of the American flag will guarantee not only material prosperity, but also personal comfort and safety. And, I am not condemning this feeling. I, personally, love America and love Americans for their great openness, great honesty, eagerness and steadfastness on the path to God. And, in many ways, this feeling of security regarding the country is not misplaced. The West achieves standards of excellence which are unsurpassed anywhere else in the world. The education and professional fields are peerless.

However, none of us, regardless of where we live, regardless of where we work, regardless of where we have attained our education, is invincible and invulnerable. It is only by the grace of God that we wake from our sleep each day. It is only by the grace of God that each of the billions of neurons in our brain continue to function properly, allowing us to breathe and our hearts to beat. It is only by the grace of God that our legs move when we think "move" and that our ears can process the sounds we hear. It is only by His grace that the thousands and thousands of blood vessels in our body, continue to carry blood safely to and from the heart, without rupturing along the way.

We must take this opportunity -- as tragically given as it is -- to turn back to God, for He is the only true protector. No insurance policy could have protected those thousands of poor, innocent people working in the high reaches of the World Trade Center on September 11. No matter how good the policy or how high the premium, once that tragic moment came it was only a matter of them and God. It is only our Divine Insurance Policy in whom we can have total trust. It is only the Divine Insurance Policy who truly renders us safe and protected. Thus, let us turn back to Him and realize that we are simply in His hands and that it is only by His will and His grace that we continue to exist and to prosper.

The tragedy struck the top CEOs as quickly and mercilessly as it struck the mail deliverers and window washers. It struck those living in the posh suburbs of Long Island as ruthlessly as it struck those sharing cramped apartments in Soho. This does not mean, of course, that there is no benefit to advanced degrees or good jobs. I always advise my youth to study hard so they will succeed. However, it means that we must see these achievements for what they can really give us -- comfort, ease and the ability to perform up to our potential. However, they cannot provide us with safety, security or immortality. It is only by turning to Him, by dedicating our hearts and our lives to Him, regardless of our profession, that we are truly safe and truly secure, not just our bodies, but our souls.

Today, the big issue is whether America should go to war, whether and how we should avenge the lives which were so mercilessly taken in this atrocious act. Yes, the perpetrators should be punished. Yes, they should be brought to justice in whatever way possible. Yes, we must show the world that these sorts of crimes will not be tolerated. However, is war the answer? Is dropping bombs on a country full of innocent, impoverished people the answer? Do we need to sacrifice more innocent lives in order to avenge the death of innocents? Will an "eye for an eye" make us a better world, or will it make us all blind?

Whatever action the US government decides to take, I pray that it will be action in the name of compassion, action in the name of a better, peaceful future, action done after great thought and deliberation. I pray that there will be no more acts of impulsiveness, no more acts of vengeance, no more acts in which innocent lives are senselessly taken.

The violence perpetrated against New York and Washington, as well as the innumerable acts of terrorism throughout history, are acts of ignorance and hatred. They are acts of people who are trained to think of "us versus them." They are acts of those who are taught to see people according to color, religion and nationality. These are all veils of ignorance, veils of illusion. The solution cannot be to continue fighting from behind borders and beneath banners of religion, nationality, color or creed. The solution can only come by breaking these borders, by breaking these boundaries and by throwing away these banners.

The answer cannot come by the civilized, educated, peaceful nations of the world lowering themselves to the level of the ignorant. Rather, the wise ones must educate the others. We must continue to spread the messages of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, "The whole world is one family." We must continue to pray Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayah, sarve bhadrani pash-yantu, ma kashchid dukhabhagbhavet -- "May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all see the divinity in everything. May there be no unhappiness or sorrow." For, if we, too, start to pray only Hindavah bhavantu sukhinah, Hindavah santu niramayah -- "May Hindus be happy, may Hindus be healthy;" Americaha bhavantu sukhinah, Americaha santu niramayaha -- "May Americans be happy, may Americans be healthy;" then we will fall into the same well of despair as those who committed these horrendous acts.

Lastly, God has given us an important lesson in this tragedy: life is so short. We don't know when or how our end will come. Every moment is a gift. No matter how high we build our towers of prosperity, we never know when they can come crashing down. Therefore, why not live peacefully, why not live every moment in love, in harmony, in joy? Who knows if this moment will be our last?

Let us take a new pledge, in the fertile ground of the rubble. Let us vow to live our lives as precious gifts, to come together as sister and brother, to forgive and forget our grievances and our grudges, and to join hands together in rebuilding the towers. But let these new towers be not only towers of trade and towers of wealth, but let them be towers of love, towers of unity, towers of brotherhood, towers of peace. Let these new, divine towers reach unprecedented heights, soaring toward the Divine, Infinite Abode of the Lord.

We, on the holy banks of Mother Ganga, in the lap of the sacred Himalayas, offer our deepest prayers that the departed souls may rest in peace, and that those who are shattered, broken and bereaved by this tragedy may find solace and serenity. Lastly, we pray for those who have committed this atrocious act and for all those who have plans or desires to commit a similar act -- we pray that God may bestow wisdom and compassion upon them, so that they can see the folly of their ways and transform themselves. We pray for peace to the Heavens, peace to the Earth, peace to all the humans, all the animals, all the plants and peace for every being in the universe. Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti -- Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

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Violence Continues in Bangladesh

Posted on 2001/10/14 8:49:02 ( 870 reads )


DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 13, 2001: Various newspaper reports continue to be sent to HPI regarding post-election violence against Hindus in Bangladesh. According to these reports, at least 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 others injured in the recent spate of terrorism following the electoral victory of the BNP-led four-party alliance. BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's repeated appeal to party workers to exercise maximum restraint and not to victimize their opponents appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Reports are available at www.dailystarnews.com, www.bangladesh-web.com/news/oct/13/nv4n716.htm#A5 and www.hrcbm.org/news/janakant_news.html

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Afghan Crisis Causes Dry Fruit Shortage at Indian Temples

Posted on 2001/10/14 8:48:02 ( 1023 reads )

Source: India Today's Aajtak Hindi TV channel

JAMMU, INDIA, October 14, 2001: Jammu Correspondent of Aajtak Channel interviewed Jyoti Gupta, secretary of Dry Fruit Traders Association of Jammu who said that due to non-arrival of dry fruit items from Afghanistan after the war has begun there is acute shortage of many dryfruit items. The devotees visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine are buying these dry fruits as prasad (food offered to and blessed by the Deity) in lesser quantity than during normalcy in the past at this point of time. Traders are selling their stock at a high price as the supply is not forthcoming. Gupta said that the situation will worsen if the supply does not return to normal, and the prices are likely to go up in the near future. Some of the items used for prasad are already up by 50 percent, the story said.

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New Krishna Book Announced

Posted on 2001/10/14 8:47:02 ( 902 reads )


October 14, 2001: The full calendar of Krishna's festivals culminating in the joyful riot of color that is Holi, are mirrored in this book, available from "source" above. The stories of Krishna are well known, but they are not retold here, neither is the book a scholastic commentary. Celebrating Krishna is thus a different story told at the beginning of the 21st century. What does Krishna and his lila in Vraja mean in the first years of a new millennium? Illustrated with rich color photographs, the Vraja experience of the book will be cherished by it's recipients for years to come.

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Vivekananda Festival Held at Harrow, England

Posted on 2001/10/14 8:46:02 ( 1003 reads )

Source: Press Release

HARROW, ENGLAND, October 14, 2001: Jai Prakash Lakhani of the Vivekananda Centre, UK, reports on the Vivekanananda Festival held at Harrow Civic Centre yesterday, "We had quite a few politicians present, including the local Member of Parliament and the local Member of the European parliament as well as many local councillors and the Mayors of Harrow and Brent. Our youngsters performed a short play called 'Gospel of Vivekananda.' The final lines of the play said, 'This Gospel is still an unfolding story and remains unfinished. In days to come it will be written in such 'glorious terms that mankind will know for certain that it is one with God.' The councillor suggested that from now on a day in October will be designated as 'Vivekananda day' in Harrow."

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Call for Divali Articles

Posted on 2001/10/14 8:45:02 ( 1033 reads )


TRINIDAD, October 14, 2001: The Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council (ICC) is inviting writers to submit their work for publication in its Divali 2001 souvenir magazine. Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, will be observed with a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago on November 14, 2001. Writers who wish to express themselves on socio-political issues, current events, or other topics particularly relevant to Hindus in Trinidad are asked to submit their material in the form of articles, reviews, short stories and poems. In keeping with the proclamation of the year 2001 by the United Nations, the theme of the magazine is "Dialogue among Civilizations." The deadline for submission of original articles not exceeding 1,000 words is October 31. E-mail Kumar Mahabir, editor, at "source" above.

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Japanese and Others Buying up Afghan Buddhists Relics

Posted on 2001/10/13 8:49:02 ( 937 reads )

Source: Straits Times, Singapore

TOKYO, JAPAN, October 4, 2001: Japanese collectors were among the major purchasers of Buddhist images and fragments believed to have been stolen from the world-famous collections of Buddhist relics in Afghanistan and smuggled into Pakistan. Many Afghan refugees fleeing the country carry with them Buddhist figurines, parts of Buddhist reliefs or rock pieces they claim were from the remains of the two gigantic rock-hewn Buddhas in Bamiyan which were destroyed by the Taleban in March. The relics were smuggled into Pakistan by the Afghan refugees. Local police in Peshawar and elsewhere in Pakistan appear at a loss as to how to clamp down on the situation because of the large number of brokers of the smuggled artifacts. Small Buddha images were sold for more than US$420 each, and larger ones fetched more than US$500. Brokers said that those who purchased the smuggled Buddhist artifacts were mostly from Japan, Britain, the United States and Germany.

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Temple Suffers as Endowment Land Lease Rents go Uncollected

Posted on 2001/10/13 8:48:02 ( 859 reads )


UNTUR, INDIA, October 6, 2001: Though the current farming occupants of their endowment lands have been making a net profit of over US$14,500 per year, the Chandra Moulaswara Swami Temple has been going without daily rituals for want of funds. A 1,783-acre gift deed of fertile agriculture land at Lingamguntla Village conveyed absolute rights over the property to the temple in 1790, when the country was ruled by the British East India Company. A recent Supreme Court judgment in favor of the temple's claim is being ignored with impunity by the tenants who have been illegally monopolizing the lands whose value has gone up to US$2,078 per acre following the availability of water from Nagarjuna Sagar Right Canal. The Temple appeals to the government for justice have been unsuccessful.

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Explosive Detectors for Tirumala Temple

Posted on 2001/10/13 8:47:02 ( 960 reads )

Source: The Hindu

TIRUPATI, INDIA, October 10, 2001: In the wake of the US-Afghanistan conflict, the State Government today deputed the Inspector General for Intelligence to convene a meeting with the TTD and the District Police top-brass to review the existing security arrangements in and around the Tirumala temple complex and prepare a blue-print to step up security and prevent any possible act of sabotage. Just a few days ago the temple requested the state to make the area around it a "no-fly zone." Today they decided to install x-ray scanners at the major entry points to the temple, including those for supplies to the kitchen. Each scanner is expected to cost US$63,829 a senior official said. Another major decision taken was to install explosive detectors, one each at the Vaikuntam Queue complex and one at Alipiri, at the foot of the hills. While the former is the entry point into hill station, the abode of the Lord Venkateswara, the other is the bee-hive through which thousands of devotees throng the hills daily from far and near. A door-frame-metal-detector would be installed at some point half-way up the foot-path and all trekkers would be frisked and their bags would be thoroughly checked by security personnel for any possible deadly materials. In order to monitor the movement of suspicious characters, the meeting has decided to install closed circuit TVs at the toll-gate for a round-the-clock surveillance.

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Kolkata Bars Open for Festival

Posted on 2001/10/13 8:46:02 ( 1016 reads )

Source: Telegraph India

KOLKATA, INDIA, October 10, 2001: According to a government directive, retail shops selling liquor will be allowed to do business until 11:00 pm, and all bars in Kolkata will have permission to remain open till an hour after midnight during the coming festivals. All this to ensure that neither Kolkatans nor tourists are left high and dry. The ruling communists are also considering a proposal from the tourism department and the hoteliers' lobby for a waiver of the ban on sale of liquor on Ashtami and Dashami. The Left Front government, which once considered consumption of liquor a symbol of "decadence," did not issue a single liquor license for 13 years. But of late, it has started showing a flexible attitude in consideration of the considerable tax revenue generated by liquor sales.

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100,000 Attend Anti-Tobacco Rallies

Posted on 2001/10/13 8:45:02 ( 979 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, October 7, 2001: Nearly 100,000 National Cadet Core members in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, on Sunday took out a rally with an aim to create awareness in society on the ill-effects of smoking. About 1,500 cadets participated in the rally here and carried placards in protest against the use of tobacco. The NCC is an official Indian government paramilitary organization which trains youth at both the high school and college level. It is similar to the reserve officer's training corps in the USA.

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Correction: Mata Amritananda European Tour Includes Zurich

Posted on 2001/10/13 8:44:02 ( 993 reads )

Source: Press Release

AMRITAPURI, INDIA, October 13, 2001: Mata Amritananda has canceled her coming European programs only for Finland, not Zurich, as stated in HPI yesterday.

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Hindus Attacked in Bangladesh

Posted on 2001/10/12 8:49:02 ( 972 reads )


DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 11, 2001: Some 50,000 people have virtually remained stranded in their homes as attacks on Awami League (AL) leaders and workers and the minority community continued in Jessore, Bangladesh for the past 10 days, according to this report and direct information e-mailed to Hinduism Today. Locals alleged that armed cadres of ousted BNP leader Maulana Shakhawat Hossain Bakul ransacked the houses of AL leaders, workers and Hindu families, and looted their valuables in 70 villages of the upazila, leaving 30 people injured since the election. Hindus living in those areas for generations were being asked to abandon their houses and leave the country threatened with dire consequences if they didn't leave the areas soon. Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia took the oath of office amidst rising anti-American protests and sporadic reports of violence. Other reports of this and some anti-American protests are at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/worl ... newsid_1591000/1591794tsm and at http://www.indian-express.com/ie20011009/nat9.html

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Plea for Tirumala Temple Area as ''No-Fly Zone''

Posted on 2001/10/12 8:48:02 ( 975 reads )

Source: Press Reports

TIRUPATI, INDIA, October 8, 2001: The Andhra Pradesh Government is said to have decided to ask India's central government to declare the air space over the Tirumala hills, the abode of Lord Venkateswara as "no-fly zone." Information reaching here said the need for such a move was highlighted at a high-level meeting of senior civil and police officials held at Hyderabad to review the security arrangements in and around the famed Tirumala temple complex in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the U.S, and in view of threats of atacks on landmark and heritage installations in India and elsewhere in the world.

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