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The Bhagavad Gita on "Fiction" Bestseller List
Posted on 2000/12/4 22:48:02 ( 808 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: It's not a question at the heart of human existence. But if Krishna and Arjuna could resume their Bhagavad Gita dialogue, perhaps they'd take up a query that rumbled through the Hindu community this week: Can a sacred text be called a work of fiction? And, if so, is it worth any less? The discussion was first sparked last Sunday, November 26, 2000, when the San Francisco Chronicle published its weekly bestseller list. Stephen Mitchell's new translation of the Gita took a coveted spot-number 15 in the "fiction" category. Most Indians were delighted it made the prestigious list at all but were surprised it was classed as fiction. David Kipen, the editor of the Chronicle's book review section, confirmed that the holy text didn't slip into the wrong category by accident. "I'd like to think that we would place the Bible or the Koran, or any other holy book under fiction, judging them to be closer to mythology than history." But author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni deemed it worthy of battle. "The Bhagavad Gita is a philosophical text; it's not fiction." Beth Kulkarni on the advisory board of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was unperturbed, "The underlying spiritual truths are important, not the historical truths." And the reaction of the translator of the work in question? Responding to an e-mail query, Mitchell confessed to some surprise but didn't see a major snafu. "It does seem odd that they put it in the fiction category. The categorization of the Gita as fiction has nothing to do with its wisdom or its validity. The opposite of truth is untruth, not fiction."




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Teenager Encourages Peers to Pursue Spirituality
Posted on 2000/12/4 22:47:02 ( 858 reads )


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EAST ELMHURST, NEW YORK (July 13, 2000): A select few are born in every century to light the spark of love, devotion, and selfless service among their communities. Young Kavindra Jaganan, age 16, is doing that very thing at the recently completed Hindu Sanatan temple in East Elmhurst, New York. Following in the steps of his priestly forefathers, he encourages the youth of the Indo-Caribbean community to get in touch with themselves so that they become better people. The mandir, costing in excess of one million U.S. dollars, is a reflection of the community's determination, hard work, and sheer devotion. The end result is an ornate structure of ancient tradition where the area's Hindu worshippers can be spiritually uplifted. Devotees are descendants of early immigrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bengal in India. Operating with volunteer priests, the temple is open for morning and evening pujas. The temple group's future goals include development of youth religiously and culturally by sponsoring trips to India, establishing scholarships for underprivileged children, and promoting programs to help senior citizens, to name only a few.




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Pakistani Hindu Community will boycott the local elections
Posted on 2000/12/4 22:46:02 ( 951 reads )


Source: Punjab Kesari (Hindi), December 3, 2000





ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: The Pakistani Hindu community has decided to boycott the local elections. These residents of the southern sector of Sindh province are opposing the electoral system that deprives the minorities of its voting rights. The decision to boycott the election was taken at a meeting held at Jakokabad in which more than 35 Hindu organizations participated. In the meeting, addressing over five hundred delegates coming from the whole province, former members of parliament Hari Ram, Kishori Ram and Pitambar Ray said that the minorities were being denied the right to vote granted to them by the constitution. The representatives participating in the meeting said that they will not accept the ordinance under which a different electoral process has been proposed which deprives them of their voting rights.




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Anti-smoking Program Linked To Cancer Decline
Posted on 2000/12/4 22:45:02 ( 805 reads )


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CALIFORNIA, USA: A decade after California initiated the nation's most comprehensive and aggressive anti-smoking program, the incidence of deadly lung and bronchial cancer has dropped far more dramatically there than it has nationwide. California lung cancer rates were found to have dropped 14 percent between 1988 and 1997, while the estimated drop nationwide was 2.7 percent, according to a report released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the strongest evidence yet that aggressive anti-smoking programs will save people's lives. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is responsible for about 85 percent of lung and bronchial cancers, most of which are fatal. In 1989, California increased the price of cigarettes by 25 cents a pack and dedicated the money to fund the state's smoking prevention program. Analysts say that the high price of cigarettes has contributed greatly to a steep decline in California smoking rates. Many states are still determining how to spend the money they will receive under the $246 million 1998 national settlement with the tobacco industry, and Fleming said he hoped the new findings would persuade states to fully fund anti-tobacco programs.




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Delhi Schoolkids To Be Spared The Rod
Posted on 2000/12/1 22:49:02 ( 900 reads )


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NEW DELHI,INDIA, December 2, 2000: Spare the rod and spoil the child. Even in this, the 21st century, the Christian slogan still has many champions among school teachers, school administrators and even parents. But the Delhi High Court on Friday may have forced them to rethink. In a landmark judgement, the Delhi High Court struck down the provision for corporal punishment provided under the Delhi School Education Act. The court held that the provision violated the constitutional right guaranteeing equality and protection of life and personal liberty. The ruling came in the wake of a petition filed by the Parents Forum For Meaningful Education. A division bench of Justice Anil Dev Singh and Justice M.K. Sharma, in their 23-page judgement, also struck down other provisions in the Act that run contrary to the National Policy on Education adopted by the Centre in 1992. "The national policy, in tune with the International Convention on Children, has adopted a child-centered approach, where corporal punishment has no place in the system of education. India, being a signatory to the Convention, is obliged to protect the child from physical or mental violence or injury while the child is in the care of any person, be it educational institution, parents or legal guardian," the bench held. The Act provided for awarding corporal punishment to a student above 14 for up to ten cane strokes on the palms. On the use of physical force against children by teachers, the court said: "It defeats the very purpose for which the punishment is applied. Infliction of body pain as penalty for indiscipline on a child may make him submissive, while others may learn that the punishment is an accepted mode of ensuring compliance of one's wisdom by others."




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Demise of Tulsi Plant Critical to Science and Religion
Posted on 2000/12/1 22:48:02 ( 953 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times, November 23, 2000





PATNA, INDIA: Lord Vishnu's beloved is now down to the path of obscurity. Falling victim to neglect and the coming up of concrete jungles all around the city, the plant species with the richest cultural heritage is vanishing from sight. Tulsi, the plant which once enjoyed a high position in the flora of Bihar now finds it hard to survive in the present socio-climatic condition of the state. Noted environmentalist Dr. R.N. Trivedi found only three species of this medicinal plant in Patna. Tulsi, meaning "matchless," earned the status of a living deity in Hindu pantheon and is considered a symbol of good luck. Researchers are of the opinion that the adoption of ornamental plants in kitchen gardens coupled with the decline in the Ayurvedic system of medicine as well as the lack of awareness in the preservation of flora resulted in the extinction of many species. The rise in the mosquito menace is also directly related to the loss of tulsi plants as it has been scientifically proven that tulsi has repellent properties. The departure of the Deity's form spells an irreparable loss in terms of science and religious heritage.




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Are New Delhi's Crematoria Receiving Their Fair Share?
Posted on 2000/12/1 22:47:02 ( 977 reads )


Source: The Hindu, November 28, 2000





NEW DELHI,INDIA: The populace of New Delhi lacks proper facilities for the honorable disposal of our mortal encasement after the soul continues its journey. Of the 271 crematoria available in the city, only three well-maintained ones, Nigambodh Ghat, Punjabi Bagh and Lodi Road, are primarily used. Most of the other crematoria lack adequate lighting, boundary walls, approach roads, and in most cases wood to fuel the funeral pyre. Even though the Municipal Corporation of Delhi runs 60 of the crematoria, only eight have acceptable standards. In residential areas over 210 are below sub-standard. The government appears to be making no effect to rectify the situation. However, according to New Delhi mayor, Mr. Shanti Desai, the goal of the MCD is to provide well-kept facilities across the Capital every three square kilometers. This would ensure that families do not have to pay exorbitant fees to have bodies transferred to an acceptable crematorium. Funding of US$391,000 was provided to the MCD for development of the crematoria in the year 2000.




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U.S. Advocates Resolution of Nepal-Bhutan Refugee Problem
Posted on 2000/12/1 22:46:02 ( 830 reads )


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KATHMANDU,NEPAL, December 1, 2000: Advocating a peaceful resolution for the refugee problem in Kathmandu Nepal, is a top U.S. envoy for Asia, Karl Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs. Since the early 1990's, Hindu refugees numbering over 98,000 have lived in UN-supervised camps in Nepal after fleeing Buddhist Bhutan. After several rounds of ministerial talks between Kathmandu, Nepal and Thimpu, Bhutan, neither country will verify the status of the refugees. Thimpu claims that non-Bhutanese live in the camps while Kathmandu insists Thimpu restore Bhutan citizenship to the displaced refugees. Inderfurth, scheduled to leave Bhutan on Monday, December 4th, would like to see a successful completion of this issue.




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The Cows Get Even in Europe
Posted on 2000/12/1 22:45:02 ( 839 reads )


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PARIS, FRANCE, November 30, 2000: It is not only the French who are in a frenzy about mad cow disease. A panic that began here in France several weeks ago has now spread throughout Europe.In Germany, a hot line set up to answer questions from the public about the disease collapsed because of too many calls. In Italy, celebrities have gone on television to offer their favorite vegetarian recipes. Governments are promising action. Many countries are banning one another's beef to reassure consumers that the meat they are buying is free of contamination. Europeans are not letting beef pass their lips and even inspecting their cosmetics and candy to check for a base of beef gelatin. Wholesalers report a drop of about 50 percent in beef sales. Butchers have seen their businesses devastated. "It's as if we were suddenly facing bubonic plague," said Pietro Stecchiotti, a quality butcher in Rome whose clients include the Italian presidential palace. "Is it the cows, or have we who have gone mad?" France's number of cases of mad cow disease remains minuscule compared with the epidemic that hit Britain in the mid-1980's. More than 100 cases have been reported this year against 31 last year, though expanded testing could have contributed to the higher numbers. Fears were heightened after Germany and Spain had discovered their first cases of mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Portugal and Switzerland have had hundreds of cases. Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have also had a few. "Mad cow disease knows no borders but is moving from one member state to another," Franz Fischler, the European Union's agricultural minister, said at a recent news conference.




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American Kids Go Vegetarian, Parents Try to Adjust
Posted on 2000/11/30 22:49:02 ( 892 reads )


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WASHINGTON, DC: When James Dusel, 16, announced that he was becoming a vegan -- shunning not only meat but dairy products--his father Jim Dusel, a Baltimore teacher was concerned whether he'd be getting adequate protein. In a past generation, parents might have refused to accommodate such pronouncements, but not in today's more tolerant times, according to this report in the Washington Post. Parents do fret about nutrition and meal preparation, but circumstances have made life easier for the mixed-diet family. "There's a lot more convenience foods," says Reed Mangels, nutrition adviser for the Baltimore-based Vegetarian Resource Group. Teenagers can just "put something in the microwave and zap it." Also parents and kids on different schedules may all be eating different things. Animal welfare is also drawing kids into vegetarianism at much younger ages, according to a recent Roper Poll. Two percent of American children ages 8 to 12 never eat beef, poultry or fish--the same percentage as kids ages 13 to 17. Six years ago, Elisa and Janna Schrank, then 8 and 10, announced that they weren't eating meat anymore (although they continued to eat chickens for awhile, since they think they're "ugly," according to their mother). But when the birds flew the coop too, the Bethesda family eats a lot of vegetable soups, as well as rice and bean dishes. "It's probably better for us," says Tom Schrank. "It's a comical household," says Vida Antolin of Alexandria, whose daughter, Christina Jenkins, 16, "was going to be a vegetarian who didn't eat vegetables." In the two years since Christina stopped eating beef and chicken, she has learned to like a lot more vegetables. Several teenagers said that their parents bought them books and required them to do research before embarking on their meatless regimes. Aside from nutritional concerns of their parents, local teens say their vegetarianism is generally socially accepted by their peers and considered "cool." As for how the meatless minority treats his carnivorous parents, father Jim Dusel says his son is extremely tolerant. At dinner, there's only "minor proselytizing," says the elder Dusel. "But nothing heavy handed."




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Hindu Youth Gathering
Posted on 2000/11/30 22:48:02 ( 887 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today, Shibani Khanna, December 1, 2000





HOUSTON, TEXAS: Endeavoring to promote Hindu Solidarity among the youth, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Student's Council, and NetOhm held a "Lock-in" at a Texas Rock Gym. A "Lock-in" is when a group of students (with chaperones) book a venue and stay up the entire night engaged in various activities, in this case ranging from sports, games, and movies to the highlight of the night, rockclimbing on the artificial cliffs. Hindu philosophy was touched on in a discussion group about the relationship between body and mind. However, the main focus of the night was socializing and creating bonds of friendship among the youth ranging in age from 8-18. Many of the young people had previously attended the Hindu Heritage Camp in July 2000, where the focus was primarily of a religious nature. Coordinators and participants look forward to holding the event annually.




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Ramayana Play Seeking Sponsors
Posted on 2000/11/30 22:47:02 ( 994 reads )


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A Ramayana play featuring actors from the popular TV serial, including Arun Govil are touring with "Glimpses of the Ramayana" during the summer of 2001. The organizers are looking for sponsors in various cities. Contact kbharrat@sympatico.ca for all additional information including show availability and sponsorship costs per program.




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Is Race an Issue in UK Politics?
Posted on 2000/11/29 22:49:02 ( 873 reads )


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NORTHAMPTON SOUTH, ENGLAND: In a crude and desperate attempt to sidetrack a political campaign, Mr. Tony Clarke, a Labour MP running for the seat of Northampton South, has been accused of bringing race issues into the election. His off-handed comments suggested that Mr. Vara, his Tory opponent, was an Ugandan Hindu who could not rely on the Muslim community for a vote. To make matters worse, Mr. Clarke continued by stating, "The 20% rural vote have shown themselves in the past to be quite racist in their voting." Mr. Shailesh Vara himself has never encountered racism in Northampton South. The Labour Party's chairman, Michael Ancram, requested that Mr. Clarke retract his statement and apologize to his Tory opponent and the voters of the constituency. On the evening of November 17th, Mr. Clarke condemned the use of racism in any election by individuals, parties, or the media. Endeavoring to redeem himself, he is quoted as saying, "If my remarks have caused offense to anyone, then I would be the first to apologize."




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Jain Temple Would Not Be Allowed To Come Up In Badrinath
Posted on 2000/11/29 22:48:02 ( 1147 reads )


Source: Punjab Kesari [Hindi], November 17, 2000





DEHRADUN, INDIA: Uttranchal's chief minister Nityananda Swami denied the possibility of the construction of a Jain Temple in Badrinath and said that the sanctity/purity of this religious place would be maintained. He said, "We cannot permit the construction of a Jain temple in Badrinath. By this the purity of this religious place would be destroyed." Swami said Badrinath is one of the four dhams and it has a special place in Hindu dharma.




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Madhya Pradesh Plan for Sanskrit Board
Posted on 2000/11/29 22:47:02 ( 919 reads )


Source: The Hindu, November 21, 2000





BHOPAL, INDIA: The Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Mr. Digvijay Singh, has announced the setting up of a Sanskrit Board by January, 2001, to promote the language. Mr Singh said this at a function organized by the Avdhesh Pratap Singh University in Rewa the other day. A task force, comprising Sanskrit scholars, would be set up to identify the existing resources of Sanskrit and to make recommendations for its development, the Chief Minister announced.




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