Recently an American TV channel broadcasted a one-hour
documentary on the killing of baby girls in India. It was
shocking to see this inhuman act committed by the parents
themselves. What happened to our time-honored dharma and duty
to our children? Illiteracy, poverty and the dowry system have
corrupted the society to the level of barbarianism. The man
blames the woman for bearing a female child while he himself
[i.e. the male's semen] is responsible for deciding the sex of
the baby. This fact ought to be taught first to the people.
Next comes the public education regarding the dowry system. It
is time that the women are bought with love and respect instead
of money. Those of us who have come away from such a conducive
atmosphere should not kill unborn female babies in the name of
abortion once the sex of the fetus is known. We have to set an
example and bring back the value of human life irrespective of
Sabapathy Siva, M.D.
Coquitlam, B.C., Canada
Is Paan Carcinogenic?
I am writing this letter to tell your readers of the potential
dangers of eating paan ("The Epicurean, Palliative Pleasures of
Paan," Feb. 1994). While paan has long been used in ayurveda
for its digestive properties, it is also a well-known
The danger of paan lies in the betel nut. An authoritative
pathology text speaks on the subject: "A regional predisposing
influence (to malignant squamous cell carcinoma of the oral
cavity) is the chewing of betel nuts of India and parts."
(Robbins, Pathologic Basis of Disease. R.S. Cotran, V. Kumar
and S.L. Robbins, 4th Ed., 1989, p. 820). The linkage between
chewing betel nuts and cancers of the oral cavity cannot be
disputed, and your readers should be forewarned of its danger.
New Brunswick, NJ, USA
Editor's reply: Medical research has implicated the areca
("betel") nut as a cancer-producing substance. Those who chew
the nut have a hundred times greater risk of developing oral
cancer. One study indicates that the risk is present regardless
of how much areca nut is consumed. The ayurvedic physicians
consulted by Hinduism Today felt that an occasional paan (one a
day) would be reasonably safe, and pointed out the
cancer-preventing properties of the betel leaf itself.
We wish to commend you and Dr. Tandavan on his wonderful
column. We are especially impressed with your courageous
commitment to inform your readers regarding AIDS and HIV.
Accurate information on this subject is of tremendous importance
to everyone capable of reading or otherwise learning about it.
Thank you for printing Dr. Tandavan's excellent six-part
Wells, Nevada, USA
Gloria J. Bettke's letter [March, 1994] contains a statement
that "...all cheese products in...supermarkets are made with
animal enzymes (rennet)." That is not correct, according to
What's in Your Cheese? (available for US$2 from the Vegetarian
Resource Group, Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, USA). That
booklet contains information provided by the Consumer Service
Department of Kraft General Foods, concerning Kraft's use of
rennet. They explain that there are three types of cheeses that
Kraft makes that are consistently free of rennet: 1) domestic
Swiss cheeses (any Kraft Swiss not labeled "imported"); 2)
Philadelphia Brand cream cheeses; and 3) Kraft Neufchatel
It is important that this refers to Kraft cheeses only. This
doesn't mean that all Swiss cheeses, all cream cheeses, etc.,
made by other manufacturers, are free of animal enzymes.
Michigan City, Indiana, USA
Reporting on the Yatra
Within India, there is wide coverage in the local press [of the
Sadbhavana Rail Yatra, Hinduism Today, Feb. 1994] and also
local radio and TV. But the national media have their own
priorities. News to them becomes important when people get
killed! That is where they have a lesson to learn from Hinduism
Today. It brings credit to journalism that you highlight news
and features that enhance human dignity and human excellence.
Please accept my congratulations for all that you are doing.
Your issue on religious harmony [Nov. 1993] was excellent.
I am sorry that unintentionally injustice has been done [by your
article] to two great cities: Kanpur and Ayodhya. Kanpur was
most hospitable. In more than one school, students of all
religions brought food packets for all of us, and what a feast
it was! All the three prayer meetings were well attended by all
The fact that the reception given to us by the Sikh Guru Sabha
of Ayodhya was one of the best anywhere in India does not bring
down the reception that our Ayodhya friends-Hindus, Muslims,
Sikhs-all gave us in that holy town, or any other place. Many
of our Ayodhya friends told me: "Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya
have no problems. We live as friends. It is outsiders who
clash here and bring a bad name to us."
There is wonderful response to the Sadbhavana Train from all
quarters. The hospitality being offered to us all over the
country far exceeds in terms of money which has been sanctioned
by the Government of India. We are grateful to these people and
S.N. Subba Rao
New Delhi, India
We are quite restricted in the amount of property we may have
[in jail], but I keep the middle insert out of each issue and
pass the paper along to the doctor here who also adheres to
spiritual ideals and practices in his life. The section on the
world's religions [April, 1993] I posted as the focal point of
the bulletin board in the chapel. I got many comments on it.
Most were all very favorable! As is so often the case with
human nature, it is merely our lack of knowledge and
unfamiliarity which breeds distrust and avoidance. Thus it is
the light of knowledge which dispells this false sense of
separatism from our fellow beings.
Ms. Jeri Becker
California Institution for Women
Frontera, California, USA
We received the article about our students titled "Yoga: Lifting
Spirits in ex-Yugoslavia" [Hinduism Today, Feb. 1993]. We
would like to thank you for the sensitivity and understanding
you have showed for those who do the work of education and
waking up the spirit in difficult social and political
conditions. We hope that we will have other opportunities for
collaboration in the future.
Pavlos K. Hassanagas and
Irena Edrovska, Athens, Greece
One of my principal activities is financial planning, and my
guess is that your editorial on endowments [March 1994] was
necessarily simplified for the general public.
Usually it is aggressive to assume that you can get more than 2%
over the inflation rate as an investment return, but let's say
the inflation rate is 5%. For the endowment to continue to
provide a monthly income that keeps pace with inflation it is
necessary to allow the fund to increase by the inflation rate.
If you are getting eight percent on your investments, it would
be necessary to live off three percent and leave the other five
percent in the endowment to keep up with inflation.
Generating $262,000 annually off of 3% of the endowment would
require an endowment of about $8,700,000. This would require
the ashram in your example to raise $287,000 a year for sixteen
years. Or, at $50,000 a year it would take about sixty-seven
years to accumulate enough money to live off of 3% of the
If inflation goes up, the ashram would be stuck with a portfolio
yielding seven percent while inflation could go to seven percent
or more itself. If the ashram then tries to unload the bonds,
it would take a loss as the value of government bonds in the
secondary market decreases as interest rates go up.
Concord, California, USA
In our February issue article "Mixed Marriages," Sudhir Vummide
was incorrectly identified as Sudhir Verghese.
Smt. Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani informs us that
Poojya Swamiji Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Ji
[March, 1994] was born to an Irish mother and a Sindhi, Amul
Brahmin father, who was an advocate in the High Court at Patna,
in Bihar, India. Born in a small village known as Maharajganj
in 1906, he went to England at the age of 16, at the behest of
his Guru, the Bengali tantric sage and saint, Sri Swami
Kanakananda Ji, and studied medicine. Most of his professional
life was spent in various countries of the West. He returned to
India in 1968 at the age of 60, and established his Ananda
Ashram there. He was, therefore, not born in Canada, as
reported in your article.