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Pakistan Prime Minister Reaches Out to Minorities


Posted on 2017/1/14 19:39:45 ( 470 reads )

Source

PAKISTAN, January 12, 2017 (by Drazen Jorgic, Reuters): Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the restoration of an ancient Hindu temple complex in Punjab, a symbolic gesture that may appeal to the Muslim nation's minority communities and soften the country's image abroad. However, the visit and other recent overtures to minority faiths and women, including the passing of pro-women legislation, could also alienate powerful religious hardliners opposed to social change. Sharif's visit to the 900-year-old Katas Raj temples (begun by Lord Krishna Himself), one of the holiest sites in South Asia for Hindus, comes at a time when relations with Pakistan's Hindu-majority neighbor India are at a low ebb and show few signs of improving. "In my personal view, we are all are equal - Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians -- and people belonging to other religions; we are all one," Sharif told Reuters after a Hindu ritual was performed at the temples, located in the village of Katas some 110 km (70 miles) south of the capital Islamabad. At the ceremony, attended by senior Christian, Sikh and Hindu leaders, Sharif chastised hardline Muslim scholars who use "strange interpretations" of Islam to preach hate against other religions. "I believe this is not lawful. No one should try to teach this sort of lesson, nor should anyone heed such lessons," Sharif said.

Critics say Sharif's government has not done enough to tackle hardline religious groups inside Pakistan, including some with militant links, and accuse members of the ruling PML-N party of maintaining links with sectarian hardliners. Pakistani officials want to improve the country's image, marred by religious violence and the persecution of minorities, in a bid to lure Western investors who are reluctant to come despite healthy economic growth and improving security. "Pakistan's image, economy, foreign investment, security -- they are all interlinked," said an aide to the prime minister.



Asian Scene: Dance Style That Extols the Deities


Posted on 2017/1/14 19:39:34 ( 274 reads )

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NAIROBI, AFRICA, January 7, 2017 (Daily Nation, by Allaudin Qureshi): While relaxing with family and friends at the coast during the Christmas and New Year break, I had the opportunity to watch a recording of Manipuri, a classical and ritualistic dance style. It brought back fond memories of watching a troupe from India perform the dance in Nairobi a decade or so ago.

Manipuri is an inherent part of the rituals of the daily life of communities in the mountainous region of North East India, Manipur. The main attraction of the dance is the beautiful costumes. The long flared embroidered skirts, translucent veils and peacock feather crowns are breathtaking.

Manipuri is a sophisticated story telling art form that glorifies the feats of religious or mythological characters. The style banks heavily on Hindu deities like Krishna and his favorite Gopi Radhika. During a performance, the dancer offers prayers to the Deity that he or she is glorifying. Manipuri was initially performed in temples and made its way to the stage only during the last century after receiving encouragement from poet, playwright, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Guru Rabindranath Tagore.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/1/14 19:39:24 ( 184 reads )

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He is the inner Self of all, hidden like a little flame in the heart. Only by the stilled mind can He be known. Those who realize Him become immortal. He has thousands of heads, thousands of eyes, thousands of feet; He surrounds the cosmos on every side. This infinite being is ever present in the hearts of all. He has become the cosmos. He is what was, and what will be. Yet He is unchanging, the Lord of immortality.
-- Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.13-15



Pongal, the Harvest Festival of Tamil Nadu


Posted on 2017/1/12 16:53:42 ( 550 reads )

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NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 10, 2017 (The Statesman): Pongal is a four-day harvest festival of Tamil Nadu which commences from the last day of Tamil month Margazhi. Crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric, etc are harvested during this month. The term Pongal in Tamil means "to boil" and it is the only Hindu festival which follows a solar calendar. In this four-day festival, special offerings are made to the sun God, Indra, to bestow good harvest.

People also regard Pongal as highly auspicious as it marks the beginning of Uttarayan - the journey of the sun towards northwards. During this festival, families get together and exchange gifts. In the northern part of India, the harvest festival is known as Makar Sankranti which also takes place around the same time. In Punjab, the harvest festival is known as Lohri.

The first day of Pongal is known as Bhogi Pongal. It is celebrated to worship Lord Indra who bestows good harvest. On this day, people discard their old clothes and wear new clothes. The second day of the Pongal festival is known Thai Pongal. This day is dedicated to honor the sun God, Surya. The third day of Pongal is known as Mattu Pongal. On this day, animals that are used for agricultural purposes are honored. The final day of Pongal is known as Kaanum Pongal. On this day the family members visit each other and exchange gifts.



Russian Yoga Instructor Becomes Unlikely Spiritual Warrior as He Fights Counterterrorism Law


Posted on 2017/1/12 16:53:32 ( 0 reads )

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MOSCOW, RUSSIA, January 10, 2017 (Radio Free Europe): A Russian yoga teacher has been forced into the role of spiritual warrior in the face of charges he was missionizing in violation of a controversial new law. Computer programmer Dmitry Ugay was detained by police in St. Petersburg on October 22 while giving a talk at a festival about the philosophies behind yoga, a discipline for achieving physical and spiritual well-being.

The 44-year-old faces a fine for allegedly conducting illegal missionary activity, an administrative offense under the new Yarovaya Law, a package of legal amendments intended to fight terrorism that is named after its author, lawmaker Irina Yarovaya. Signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, the amendments include restrictions on religious groups and missionary activity that could potentially put pressure on followers outside what the government considers "traditional" religions.

The charges against Ugay are not criminal, but observers fear that a guilty verdict in the misdemeanor case against him would set a precedent for the harassment of even yoga instructors. Yoga has a strong following in Russia, underscored by Dmitry Medvedev's professed love for the practice. In 2007, during his first stint as prime minister, Medvedev was quoted as saying that "little by little, I'm mastering yoga." His advocacy of the practice gained him a group of supporters described as "Medvedev's Girls" who performed exercises on Red Square to promote yoga.

More at "source" above.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/1/12 16:53:21 ( 255 reads )

Source

There is no greater Truth than the Guru, no greater penance than the Guru, no knowledge greater than the Guru



Meet the Father and Son Sculptors of India's Giant Shivaji Statue


Posted on 2017/1/10 19:19:42 ( 466 reads )

Source

NOIDA, INDIA, January 9, 2017 (The National): Outside their workshop, a raucous debate rages on whether India should spend half-a-billion dollars on a statue to honor a 17th century Hindu warrior. Inside, the two men sculpting the bronze figure work in silence in their vast, high-ceilinged studio outside New Delhi. "Is there a controversy about it?" asks Anil Sutar, 59, sitting in the adjoining office, looking surprised. "We don't pay any attention to politics. We just get on with our work."

Anil and his father Ram are the sculptors in the eye of the storm. Ram is the famous one. At 92, he still works eight hours a day, is totally alert, and has a face that looks 15 years younger. Apart from a recent knee replacement, he is in great physical condition. His son Anil returned from his studies in architecture and urban design in the US in 1994 to join his father who is the sculptor to whom state governments and politicians turn when they want to build a larger-than-life statue to honor a figure in the Indian pantheon.

The father and son are thrilled by the Shivaji project. At 688 feet, the Shivaji statue off the Mumbai coast will be twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. The statue will sit atop a 22-story building housing a museum, library, auditorium, cafes and shops. Six lifts will take visitors through the body of a horse up to Shivaji's chest where there will be viewing windows for them to look across the Arabian Sea and the Mumbai skyline. Another monumental statue which they are halfway to completing is that of Vallabhbhai Patel, an important figure in the Indian freedom movement and India's first home minister after Independence. That statue will be just a few metres smaller than Shivaji.



Pakistan's Religious Minorities Lose Confidence on Refusal to Ratify Forced Conversion Bill


Posted on 2017/1/10 19:19:32 ( 323 reads )

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KARACHI, PAKISTAN, January 7, 2017 (Pakistan Christian Post): The Governor of Sindh, Saeeduzzaman Siddique, refuses to ratify the forced conversion bill passed by Sindh Assembly in November 2016 following protests by MQM, JI and other Muslim religious parties. Religious minorities here say they have lost confidence in so-called moderate Muslim political groups also.

The Forced Conversion Bill was presented in Sindh Assembly by Hindu MPA Annand Kumar of Pakistan Muslim League Functional Group PML (F) and unanimously adopted by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party PPP, Muthidda Quomi Movement MQM, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf PTI and other in November 2016. The Forced Conversion Bill was passed and sent to Governor of Sindh to sign, but the governor has refused to do so.

The said bill was first criticized by Jamaat Islami Pakistan Ameer Senator Siraj Ul Haq who termed it un-Islamic as it was set in bill that conversion of any one to Islam will be not legal if the age of converted individual is not 18 years and conversion to Islam will be supervised for 120 days to confirm. The Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities in Pakistan view this bill as protection of minorities' bill as it will prevent forced conversion of their women to Islam who were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/1/10 19:19:21 ( 332 reads )

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When we encounter wickedness in others, let us be compassionate, for truly there is no intrinsic evil.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001)



Fourteen Temple Murthis Recovered


Posted on 2017/1/8 20:24:20 ( 495 reads )

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KATMANDU, NEPAL, January 4, 2017 (Kathmandu Post): Fourteen statues and two conch shells which were stolen from the Chandannath Temple in Jumla district headquarters Khalanga on November 26 were found at Depalgaun-2 in the district on Tuesday. Local women had spotted the statues at Rokayawada while they were going to the forest to collect firewood. One of them immediately telephoned her relative in Khalanga who informed the police about the statues.

A statue of the main Deity Dattatreya was among the 21 centuries-old images and other valuables that were stolen from the temple. The Chandannath-Bhairavnath Guthi Management Committee said the statues of Dattatreya, Buddha, Krishna, Mahakaal and a gold-plated steeple, footprints of the Deities and a rare conch were among the valuables stolen.

The security personnel and Chandannath-Bhairavnath Guthi Management Committee members gathered the statues that were scattered about in the stream and the foot trail. They were brought to Khalanga in a procession attended by hundreds of people. According to Gaurinanda Acharya, former chief of the Guthi Management Committee, the statues were reinstalled in the temple. Police mobilised a search team suspecting that other statues and valuables could be hidden in the area.



Youth Outreach with the Kauai Adheenam


Posted on 2017/1/8 20:24:10 ( 392 reads )

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KAUAI, HAWAII, January 6, 2017 (Wordpress by Manu): My parents and I are spending the first two weeks of 2017 in Kauai, Hawaii. A large part of my identity which is masked in my daily life is visible here--my Hindu identity, that is. Each time my family returns to the island, it's a pilgrimage of sorts. The Kauai Aadheenam, or the Kauai Hindu Monastery [home of Hinduism Today and Hindu Press International], is located in the hills of Kapaa, and it is absolutely a different world. Perhaps my favorite part is the ability to sing each morning following the 9 am puja; this incredible opportunity gives me a chance to feel the immensity of the atmosphere, to gain some peace, and to rejuvenate--all of which are difficult to come by in the bustle of our daily lives.

However, outside this bubble, it's not that I hide this identity, but that there's no place or reason for it to come up. My childhood was sectioned--I was Indian and Hindu at home, but these identities rarely meshed with my school life. In high school, we learned about religions, with little to no discussion on Hinduism outside of the caste system. Because of this narrow-minded view of Hinduism, I've received a number of ill-informed questions about my religion, comments that I practice paganism and that my religion isn't real, and furthermore, my Hindu peers are unable to explain the tenets of Hinduism in order to fix these misconceptions.

The swamis of the Kauai Monastery are hoping to address this problem and to find mediums through which to teach and attract younger generations. They have written a number of books to share Hindu teachings with all ages, made movies on the history of Hinduism (http://www.himalayanacademy.com/readlearn/hindu-history), and created mobile applications such as Spiritual Workout (http://www.himalayanacademy.com/readlearn/hindu-history) for us to engage with daily practice. Still, this application requires a basic understanding of Hinduism and also need to be advertised in order to gain popularity.

More at "source" above.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/1/8 20:23:59 ( 267 reads )

Source

When we think about someone, we're sending a thought form to that person, and that thought form is affecting them. If it is a positive, uplifting thought, it affects them in a positive, uplifting way. If it is a critical thought, it affects them in a negative way.
-- Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, publisher of Hinduism Today



Hindus Gain Ground in New US Congress: Pew Research


Posted on 2017/1/7 19:16:04 ( 477 reads )

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WASHINGTON, Jan 5, 2017 (Daily Excelsior): Hindus and Jews have gained ground in the new US Congress, even as the latest research suggests that the members of the legislative body remain overwhelmingly Christians despite significant change in the religious demographic profile of the country in less than five decades.This is for the first time in American history that the Congress has three Hindus members -- Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna. After Jews, who have 30 members in the new US Congress, Hindus and Buddhists with three members each jointly share the third spot in terms of religious ranking of US Congress members, according to Pew Research Center analysis.

Among the lawmakers who declined to state their religious affiliations include Indian-American Pramila Jayapal who has been for the first time been elected to the House of Representatives. Hindus who are about one per cent of the US population are now 0.6 per cent in the US Congress.



Introductory Sanskrit Webinar to Launch in February


Posted on 2017/1/7 19:15:54 ( 656 reads )

Source

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA (HPI): Varun Khanna, assistant professor of Sanskrit Grammar (Vyakarana) at the new Chinmaya University at Adi Sankara Nilayam in Veliyanad, Ernakulum, Kerala, is offering a Sanskrit course by Webinar tentatively to start February 5, 2017.

He writes: "This Webinar is for people who want an introduction from scratch to Sanskrit in an easy and systematic way (in English medium). It is not a spoken Sanskrit class, but will be covering Sanskrit grammar from absolute basics until the point of being able to read basic Sanskrit. We will also discuss how to progress further on your Sanskrit learning path. The purpose of this class is to remove the fear of Sanskrit and to expose students to Sanskrit taught through real Shastra methods, to help us understand the minds of the ancient Rishis."

Classes will start tentatively at 9AM IST on Sunday 5 February, 2017, which is Saturday evening for USA/Canada and Sunday morning/daytime for Australia/New Zealand, and will run for 20 classes, leading into the next course. The Webinar will also be available to view on relay at a time that the student chooses (but only at that time), so they can take the class regularly as well. The course will be free, but donations are welcome at the end.

There is as yet no official signup, but interested persons are requested to fill out the form at "source" above. They will then be informed directly of developments regarding the class.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2017/1/7 19:15:43 ( 316 reads )

Source

Japa, austerities, observances, pilgrimage, sacrifice, charity--all these become a mere waste without understanding the guru tattva.
-- Kularnava Tantra 24

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