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Britain's Youngest Indian Parliamentarian Jitesh Gadhia Takes Rig Veda to the House of Lords

Posted on 2016/9/14 19:53:17 ( 1156 reads )


UNITED KINGDOM, September 14, 2016 (by Arjit Barman, Economics Times): Britain's newest peer swore his oath of allegiance on an ancient book--the Rig Veda. At 46, Jitesh Gadhia is currently the youngest Briton of Indian origin in the House of Lords, where the average age of 800 peers is about 69. An investment banker of repute, Gadhia has been part of some of the largest investment flows between the UK and India and also helped craft Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech last November to a full house at Wembley Stadium.

A rainmaker with storied European franchises like ABN and Barclays and private equity giant Blackstone, Gadhia has also been responsible for several headline-grabbing, cross-border deals during the buyout boom years of 2000-7, including the biggest involving an Indian business-Tata Steel's acquisition of Corus.

Now the banker and businessman of Gujarati descent has made history by pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II using the ancient Vedic text of the Rig Veda, considered the world's oldest religious scripture in continuous use and dating back to 1500 BC. For some years now, new members have been permitted to choose a religious text other than the Bible, but no one has used the Rig Veda before. In the US, Keith Ellison became the first Muslim in Congress in 2007, taking his oath with a Quran that had been once owned by Thomas Jefferson, according to the Washington Post. (Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took her oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita.)

The 167-year-old first edition copy of the Rig Veda that Gadhia will also be gifting to the Parliament has special significance. It was edited and published in 1849 by Max Mueller, the German academic and Indophile who lived and studied for most of his life in Oxford and was one of the pioneers of Sanskrit and Vedic studies in Europe. His compilation of the Rig Veda, in the traditional Devanagari script, was published under the patronage of the East India Company which paid Rs 900,000 to support the effort.

"I wanted a copy of the original Sanskrit text but my research took me to Max Mueller and finally my intense search bore fruit and I managed to source it from a rare books specialist," Gadhia told ET from London, soon after the ceremony that was attended by his extended family, friends and fellow parliamentarians cutting across party lines.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/14 19:53:07 ( 365 reads )


We who have come from the East here have been told day after day in a patronizing way that we ought to accept Christianity because Christian nations are the most prosperous. We look about us and see England as the most prosperous nation in the world, with her foot on the neck of 250 million Asiatics. We look back in history and see Christian Spain's wealth beginning with the invasion of Mexico. Such prosperity comes from cutting the throats of fellow men. At such a price the Hindu will not have prosperity.
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, at the Parliament of the World's Religions, 1893

Celebrating Lord Ganesha's Birthday

Posted on 2016/9/12 19:34:47 ( 635 reads )


BRICKFIELDS, MALAYSIA, September 10, 2016 (The Star): Decked out in finery with devotees at his side, Lord Ganesha strolled through the streets of Brickfields on a silver chariot to mark his birthday, the Vinayagar Chathurthi festival. Hindus converged at the Sri Sakthi Karpaga Vinayagar Temple in Jalan Berhala in Brickfields to celebrate the birth of the elephant God, Vinayagar, or Ganesha, as He is commonly known.

For over 50 years, the temple has led the chariot procession on the streets in Brickfields as devotees throng the place to catch a glimpse of Lord Ganesha as it is considered highly auspicious. Celebrations at the temple started as early as 3.30am with a special Homam prayer followed by lunch at the temple grounds as well as the chariot procession that began at 7.30pm. Temple president S.K.K. Naidu said more than 10,000 devotees participated in the day-long festival.

"Lord Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and we usually pray to him before we begin anything special," he added. The Brickfields Karpaga Vinayagar temple however is considered special because of its rarity. Karpaga Vinayagar is the 33rd form of Lord Ganapathy and his trunk is curled towards his right, a rare depiction. In his hand is the Shiva Linga, a form of Lord Shiva. Naidu said most believe that they are praying to both Gods at once when paying homage to the Karpaga Vinayagar.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/12 19:34:37 ( 326 reads )


As long as someone cries out "O God! O God!" be sure that he has not found God, for whoever has found Him becomes still.
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886)

An App to Guide You Through Meenakshi Temple

Posted on 2016/9/7 18:51:03 ( 1115 reads )


MADURAI, INDIA, August 23, 2016 (The Hindu): When you travel to Madurai next time, there will be no need to research through online and offline material to know about the world famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. Your mobile phone will be a virtual guide to take you on a tour of the temple, besides providing a peek into the ancient city's history.

A free-to-download app developed by Chennai-based Aseuro Technologies provides information on the background of the temple, stories and miracles associated with it, its architectural marvels, history of Madurai, hours of worship, dos and don'ts, not to mention where to park, or find a restaurant. In 23 audio sections, it describes the important places in the temple in Tamil, English and Hindi.

Temple official Karumuttu T. Kannan launched the app on Monday, said it was the first of its kind for a temple in the country and very user-friendly. Srikanth Iyer of Aseuro Technologies said it took 18 months for them to develop the app after intensive research and review by temple authorities. It had become necessary as authentic information was not available for visitors to many places of tourist importance. "We have made a beginning with the Madurai temple and will soon come out with apps for Belur temple and Mahabalipuram," he said.

For information on downloading the app, see "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/7 18:50:52 ( 583 reads )


The fragrance of the flower is never borne against the breeze, but the fragrance of human virtues diffuses itself everywhere.
-- Ramayana

Trinidad Observes Ganesha Festival

Posted on 2016/9/6 20:42:05 ( 844 reads )


TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, September 6, 2016 (by Paras Ramoutar): Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago are well-poised to celebrate the annual festival of Lord Ganesh Ustav from Sunday September 4 to 15 following weeks of abstinence, meditation and rituals. Hindus will flock to 300-plus temples, along with private and other public places, to seek Lord Ganesh's blessings and guidance in all their spiritual and material undertakings. This Lord Ganesh Ustav has taken a new initiative and it is only second to Divali, Hindu's flagship observance. For the past weeks, there have been literally hundreds of Lord Ganesh Yagnas spread across the nation. Several East Indian television and radio frequencies have been airing special programs to mark the occasion, and this is duplicated in the print media.

Devotees chant and sing while parading Lord Ganesha Murtis, constructed from clay or mud, which are worshipped and submerged in the ocean at the end of the celebrations. This is accompanied by music trucks and microphones belting out exclusive Lord Ganesh bhajans and kirtans, and rituals and holy prayers. The East Indian puja stores have reported brisk sales to mark the occasion, and scores of life-sized murtis have been specially-imported from India. Additionally, these murtis are environment friendly.

There has been upsurge of young people participating in the observance which, Pundit Seereeram Maharaj of the Shiv Kailash Temple, Santa Phillipa Road, Caparo, said, "augurs well for the future of Hinduism in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean." Trinidad and Tobago is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society with 44 per cent of the 1.3 million population are of East Indian extraction.

Hindu Clergy Show Support for Marriage Equality

Posted on 2016/9/6 20:41:55 ( 934 reads )


AUSTRALIA, September 5, 2016 (Gay News Network): The Australian Council of Hindu Clergy has proclaimed its support for marriage equality. Whilst the council acknowledges that marriage, (vivaha) as defined by Hindu Dharma Shastras is between a man and a woman for the purpose it acknowledges that in Australian secular law, marriage is not a sacrament (samskara). In a statement online the society writes:

"[Marriage] is about the legal union of two persons and involves social security, inheritance of property, legal and human rights and social privileges. It has nothing to do with vivaha as interpreted by Shastra -- the two concepts are separate -- the religious vs the secular.

"We affirm that the samskara (religious sacrament) of vivaha (Hindu Marriage) is technically between a Hindu man and woman and not applicable to same sex couples -- the traditional Vedic mantras are very specific and cannot be modified.

"[But] We totally support human rights and equality of gender within the secular Australian society in which we live, and have no opposition whatsoever to any changes in the law and the legal definition of marriage that the democratic society deems necessary for the well-being and happiness of all citizens whatever be their gender."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/6 20:41:44 ( 520 reads )


This body of mine brought seeds with it. Illness is one of them. Activity passes on and so does the body. Of what concern is it to us? All this was settled long ago. Don't be afraid of anything.
-- Satguru Siva Yogaswami (1872-1964), Sri Lankan mystic, speaking near the end of his life

UK Government Launches Three-Month "Public Consulation" on the Caste and Equality Act of 2010

Posted on 2016/9/3 18:56:20 ( 1167 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, September 2, 2016 (Press Release, by Satish K. Sharma): The National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) is delighted to inform you that this evening Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Government announced that it is to hold a 12-week Public Consultation on the subject of Caste and the Equality Act 2010. The announcement read: "A key aim of the consultation will be to obtain the views of the public on whether additional measures are needed to ensure victims of caste discrimination have appropriate legal protection and effective remedies under the 2010 Equality Act."

This is wonderful news for the British Hindu community, who will now have an opportunity to present reliable and comprehensive evidence to a process which should at long last be independent. The last process was deeply flawed, driven through the House of Lords on a wave of emotional manipulation, with evidence being misrepresented and with statistics which were later found to be inflated 48 fold! Peer after Peer accused an entirely innocent British Hindu community and Baroness Flather linked us with "female foetus infanticide" and "dowry killings," all without evidence, merely hate speech.

One of the most unpleasant aspects of the last "Parliamentary process" was the deliberate fanning of anti-Hindu religious hatred by those allegedly fighting for equality. The repetitive and quite deliberate association of the phrase "Caste discrimination" with the word "Hindu" has made such reprehensible discrimination an assumed truth that "Caste is a Hindu problem" despite the fact that it was forced upon Hindus and India by the tyrants of the British Colonial Raj... who were pursuing the most aggressive pogram of religious conversion ever conceived....

Prime Minister Cameron's government courageously resisted the whirlwind of emotional manipulation whipped up by those extremist groups who would see a tranquil integrated Hindu community denigrated, disrupted and fragmented for political gain, and it would appear that Prime Minister May's government is also equally concerned with piercing the dust cloud of hype, spin and untruths in the pursuit of genuine equality and justice. We look forward to participating fully in the forthcoming consultation.

India Leading in Coconut Production and Productivity in the World

Posted on 2016/9/3 18:56:10 ( 967 reads )


INDIA, September 2, 2016, (Press Information Bureau): Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh today addressed the farmers on World Coconut Day and National Award presentation ceremony in Bhubaneswar. On the occasion the Minister said that India is a leading country in coconut production and productivity in the world. Its annual coconut production is 306 million coconut from 4.9 million acre area and the productivity per 2.5 acres is 10,345 coconuts. The contribution of coconut in country's GDP is about US$3 billion. In 2015-16 coconut products of $217 million value have been exported. He also said that over ten million people are dependent on coconut crop for their livelihood.

Agriculture Minister said the Coconut Development Board has established 402 coconut processing units in India which process 2.42 billion coconut per year.

Once You Watch How Gummy Candy Is Made, You'll Never Eat It Again

Posted on 2016/9/3 18:55:59 ( 1161 reads )


BELGIUM, September 1, 2016 (Huffington Post): If gummy bears, peach rings and gummy worms are a few of your favorite sweet treats, you may want to stop reading now. The way most gum-based candy is made might scar you forever. If you've ever had a vegetarian friend turn down a fruit snack or cup of jello, you know it's because many of those products are made with gelatin. Gelatin is a gelling agent made from animal skin and bones. But knowing what gelatin is can't prepare you for seeing how it's made. Belgian filmmaker Alina Kneepkens created the horror movie short film that shows in grim detail the way many gummy candies are made. Kneepkens unrolls the footage in reverse, starting with the finished candy before revealing its gory inception.

The disturbing film is at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/3 18:55:49 ( 846 reads )


Go beyond science, into the region of metaphysics. Real religion is beyond argument. It can only be lived simultaneously inwardly and outwardly.
-- Swami Sivananda (1887-1963), founder of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

All-Women Army Protecting Rare Bird in India

Posted on 2016/9/2 18:36:47 ( 1058 reads )


DADARA, INDIA, August 15, 2016 (National Geographic): On a cloudy day in July, in a remote village in northeastern India, Charu Das excitedly imitates the awkward movements of a stork with her hands. In a few months, the greater adjutant stork--called hargilla, which means "swallower of bones" in Sanskrit--will descend on this hamlet, situated in Assam's Brahmaputra Valley, to breed in large numbers. Garuda, Lord Vishnu's mount, is a hargilla. They are a member of the stork family, but scavengers like the vulture.

Dadara and two nearby villages, Pasariya, and Singimari, are flanked by food-rich wetlands and brimming with tall trees perfect for nesting. The region has become a major stronghold for this homely creature: Due mostly to deforestation and widespread development of wetlands, only between 800 and 1,200 greater adjutant storks remain in India and Cambodia, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

But thanks to the efforts of the Hargilla Army, a conservation brigade of 70 local women, the region is now "the biggest greater adjutant nesting colony in the world," says Purnima Devi Barman, a wildlife biologist with Aaranyak, a conservation nonprofit in Assam. Backed by the district administration and local conservation groups, the Hargilla Army has been so successful in reducing threats and protecting the habitat of the stork that the group won the United Nations Development Program India's 2016 Biodiversity Award.

Not too long ago, however, the bird wasn't quite as welcome. Many villagers considered the birds "filthy" because of their smelly droppings; harsh calls; and tendency to litter their food, sometimes collected from garbage dumps, Barman says. She organized small, informal meetings to talk about the bird's role in the environment, such as scavenging and disposing of dead animals and its essential link in the food chain of the surroundings wetlands.

More of this very interesting report at "source' above.

Religious Hate Material Fills Pakistani Kids' Textbooks

Posted on 2016/9/2 18:36:36 ( 911 reads )


PAKISTAN, August 28, 2016 (One News Now): Pakistan's National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) published a report announcing that the Islamic nation's government has broken its promise to purge the religious "hate material" from school textbooks, which are plagued with rhetoric used to incite children with rage toward non-Muslims. World Watch Monitor says that the plan to clean up the biased instruction materials was launched as a result of the Pakistani school massacre that took place two years ago.

"When a Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in Dec. 2014 led to the loss of least 141 lives, including 132 students, it brought about a policy change in Pakistan," World Watch Monitor reports. "The government introduced a 20-point National Action Plan to discourage religious extremism and to provide a counter-narrative to promote religious harmony in the country, saying an 'end to religious extremism and [the] protection of minorities will be ensured.'" Despite assurances that the anti-discrimination plan would be implemented, the "Freedom from Suffocating Education" report issued by NCJP alleges that no adoption of curriculum reforms at the school level has taken place, except for a few booklets that were produced.

The NCJP report cited some other examples of contentious or inflammatory passages in school textbooks: The Class VII Baluchistan Textbook Board book on Urdu says: "The British ... feared the Muslims, being the true inheritors of the rule of India, could become a danger for them anytime." "Another book shows that the accusations against [Mughal Emperor of India] Aurangzeb of bias towards Hindus are purely a fabrication of the narrow-minded Hindus and treacherous British," says the Punjab Board's Urdu textbook for "matriculates" (ages 15-16).

The Class V book on Islamic Studies by the Punjab Board states: "The Muslims ruled the Indian subcontinent for about thousand years with magnificence, but they did not forcibly convert a single Hindu. If they had willed, then today there wouldn't even be a trace of them in the subcontinent. But Muslims showed great tolerance and even raised Hindus to high positions."

The Punjab Board's Class VI History book reads: "Most of the population of Delhi consisted of Hindus who considered Muslims strangers. They ... were always busy in thinking about getting free from the rule of Muslims. Hindu landlords used various excuses to not pay land revenue and even sometimes descended into revolt. The Hindus were so much encouraged by [Emperor] Akbar's pro-Hindu policies that they started demolishing mosques and shrines and started building their temples in their place. Wherever Hindus were in majority, they brutalized Muslims."

Much more of this detailed report at "source" above.

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