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The Right Way to Honor Pongal

Posted on 2019/1/16 11:02:10 ( 701 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, January 15, 2019 (Free Malaysia Today): Hindu monk Simheswara Dasa, like many of his co-religionists, looks forward every year to the four-day Thai Pongal, the Tamil celebration of the rice harvest as a mark of gratitude to Surya, the Sun God. Hindu scriptures say that on Pongal, the day when the sun enters Capricorn, the charioted Surya begins his journey north to bring heat to the northern hemisphere after heating the south for six months. The main ritual of Pongal is the boiling of the first rice of the season in milk. Added to the rice are cane sugar, raisins, lentils and cashews and other nuts. Pongal is also the name of the dish. The word means "boiling over" or "overflow" and it signifies the gradual heating of the earth. The dish is cooked in clay pots on the first day of the festival in the open air after sunrise. It is offered to Surya and devotees partake in the feasting.

On the day before Pongal, Hindus discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions. They light a bonfire to burn the discards as they anticipate what some in India refer to as the Tamil New Year. On Pongal day itself, houses are decorated with mango leaves and pongal is served with savories and sweets. There is a ritual in which the year's harvest is symbolically offered back to God. On the third day, cattle are given items of worship as gratitude for their work in the fields. Their horns are painted and their bodies decorated with turmeric-infused water and a red dye. On the last day, families hold reunions and brothers pay tribute to their married sisters by giving gifts, clothes or money, signifying their love for one another.

Ambushing Hinduism: Attacking Hinduism from Diverse Powerful Enemies

Posted on 2019/1/16 11:01:57 ( 874 reads )


UNITED STATES, January 16, 2019 (Save Temples): "Ambushing Hinduism" (a forthcoming book) consists of 24 articles that were written over 8-9 years addressing the issues prevalent at the time. Since they are written at different times, readers may some material repeated depending on the issue that was addressed. Some articles are written in reaction to a single incident such as cancelling the appointment of Dr. Subramanian Swamy from Harvard University, some are written to rebut the book, some are written to government officials suggesting course of action to abstain from granting favors based on either religion or caste, some are written about the deceptive practices of Christians and terrorist activities of Muslims, while others are written on the trampling of Hindus by denying their fundamental right to speech and assembly.

The first section on Secular Threat has three articles. The first chapter dealt with the dangers of secularism and how it is chipping away the fundamental rights of Hindus and secular elements are piercing the very existence of Hinduism. Secular meaning of separation of religion and government has been distorted to mean granting unlimited freedom to Christians and Muslims. In section two on Academic Irrationality, three articles were written about the ludicrous steps taken by Harvard University and Wharton College to infringe on the academic freedom, deny the freedom of speech, and embrace the terrorist activities espoused by Muslims. The Fourth article focused on the decision of Harvard University to remove the two courses he (Dr. Swamy) teaches so that he would have no contract to teach at the university. In the section on Media Madness, three articles are written about the bias, hatred and prejudice of both Indian and Western media with a sole mission to discredit Hindu leaders both spiritual and political.

A summary of the remaining articles in this lengthy book can be read at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/1/16 11:01:43 ( 461 reads )


The outer worship is approaching God properly, presenting ourselves acceptably. It is to offer our love, our adoration and then to speak out our prayer, our petition. The inner worship is to enjoy God's presence and not rush away, to stay, to sit, to meditate awhile and bask in the shakti, endeavoring to realize the Self within.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Hindu Rice Farmers Celebrate Pongal for Bountiful Harvest

Posted on 2019/1/15 10:17:37 ( 490 reads )


TANJUNG KARANG, MALAYSIA, January 14, 2019 (The Star): The Pongal festival which is a thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest by rice farmers is among the important celebrations of the Tamil community throughout the world. Hindu rice farmers in Malaysia await with excitement to celebrate the festival tomorrow following the harvest. V.R. Arumugam, 68, who owns a rice farm in Parit Empat in Sekinchan, said the Pongal festival is a much-awaited celebration by Hindu farmers as it is very special for them. "We celebrate Pongal in conjunction with the end of the harvest season, where the harvest is dedicated to Surya Bhagawan (the Sun God). The festival is also to signify thanksgiving for the harvest," he said.

In conjunction with the celebration, each family will gather around a claypot to look at the milk boiling over, signifying happiness and bountiful harvest for the family. "Rice from the first harvest will be cooked with milk and brown sugar and a portion of the sweet rice will be offered to Surya Bhagawan," said Arumugam who has been a rice farmer for 45 years. Pongal is celebrated in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar called Thai Matham in conjunction with the harvest month in India.

See also: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation ... iety-says-health-officer/

Pandit Ved Gopee: "Mauritius Is the Only Country in the World to Offer Religious Subsidies"

Posted on 2019/1/15 10:17:24 ( 464 reads )


MAURITIUS, December 14, 2018 (Inside News translated from French): Mauritius is perhaps the only country in the world where the state offers religious subsidies for the preservation of places of worship and also for the propagation of religious and spiritual values. Pandit Ved Gopee, who spoke at the 18th graduation ceremony of the "Akhil Bharatiya Vidvat Parishad" in Varanasi, India, declared on December 2nd. The president of the Sanatan Holistic Vidhya Academy who also holds the position of Vice President of the Council of Religions has been honored by the All India Council of Eminent Scholars for his contribution in promoting religious values in Mauritius.

In his speech, he emphasized the contribution of religions in nation-building. He painted our country as a mosaic of culture where fraternity between different beliefs is not a myth. "Our democracy offers space for all religions to flourish side by side and the various religious holidays are also celebrated at the national level," he said. Pandit Ved Gopee pointed out that Mauritius is considered a paradise on earth. This is thanks to the hard work of our ancestors who, about 180 years ago, came from different parts of the world. "They fed the earth with their blood and sweat," he said.

You Should Meditate Every Day

Posted on 2019/1/15 10:17:11 ( 475 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, January 9, 2019 (New York Times by Farhad Manjoo): Because I live in Northern California, where this sort of thing is required by local ordinance, I spent New Year's Day at a meditation center, surrounded by hundreds of wealthy, well-meaning, Patagonia-clad white people seeking to restore order and balance to their tech-besotted lives. In the past, I might have mocked such proceedings, but lately I've grown fond of performative sincerity in the service of digital balance. It's the people who haven't resigned themselves to meditation retreats who now make me most nervous, actually. Which brings me to my point: It's 2019. Why haven't you started meditating, already? Why hasn't everyone?

I've been a technology journalist for nearly 20 years and a tech devotee even longer. Over that time, I've been obsessed with how the digital experience scrambles how we make sense of the real world. Technology may have liberated us from the old gatekeepers, but it also created a culture of choose-your-own-fact niches, elevated conspiracy thinking to the center of public consciousness and brought the incessant nightmare of high-school-clique drama to every human endeavor. You've heard about the benefits of mindfulness before. It's the subject of countless books, podcasts, conferences, a million-dollar app war. It's extolled by C.E.O.s and entertainers and even taught in my kids' elementary school (again, it's Northern California). The fad is backed by reams of scientific research showing the benefits of mindfulness for your physical and mental health -- how even short-term stints improve your attention span and your ability to focus, your memory, and other cognitive functions.

More at "source".

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/1/15 10:16:57 ( 427 reads )


A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches and thoughts, the consequences of even the least of them is far-reaching.
-- Swami Sivananda, (1887-1963) founder of the Divine Life Society

Hindus Most Educated Religious Group in the US, Says New Report

Posted on 2019/1/9 10:06:53 ( 646 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., January 7, 2019 (Hindustan Times): Hindus are the most educated -- based on college degrees -- among US religious groups, followed by Unitarians Universalists, Jews, Anglicans and congregants of the Episcopal Church, according to a new study. They are ahead also of atheists and agnostics. The study by Pew used the four-year college degree as the marker, saying it is generally regarded as the key asset for economic success. Hindus accounted for the largest share of those with college degrees, with 77%. Unitarians, a religious group that says it has no creed and draws inspiration from a range of sacred scriptures -- Indian American lawmaker Ami Bera is one -- came second with 67%.

The United States doesn't keep an official count of its population based on religion, but an estimated 0.7% of America's 325 million population could be Hindus, according to a 2014 study by Pew. There are other estimates that put the number between 2 million and 3 million. While a large number of Hindus in the United States are of Indian descent, coming here from India or diasporas in Africa and the Caribbeans, there other such as Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the US House of Representatives from Hawaii. As the larger Indian American community has made a mark as the wealthiest in the United States and the most educated, so have its largest cohort, the Hindus.

A Spanish Dancer's Triumph in India

Posted on 2019/1/9 10:06:39 ( 570 reads )


SPAIN, January 9, 2019 (El Periodico Mediterraneo, translated from Spanish): A Castellon resident settled for four years in Benicassim, Miriam Arias, has triumphed in India with her particular dance, a fusion of flamenco and kathak, one of the nine classical dances of that country. The dancer participated in the prestigious Visakha Utsav festival, which was celebrated, as every year end, on the beach in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, in the south of India. And she showed her art to the 35,000 attendees who came to the event, from different parts of India, who enjoyed the different performances of artists of great renown.

Flamenco took special prominence in the billboard of the event, along with the usual Bollywood performances and typical rhythms there, with prestigious singers and musicians. Arias danced a duet, showing her Andalusian flamenco soul next to Hemant Devara dancing kathak, which fascinated the audience. Arias travels to India regularly for work reasons. Her passion for dancing aroused her curiosity to know the origins of flamenco (traced to the Roma or Gypsies of Europe who originated in India), which she has been practicing since she was three years old.

View short video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYM5VMpYJ60

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/1/9 9:33:30 ( 600 reads )


The mind cannot know what is beyond itself; but the mind is known by what is beyond, that essence of timelessness and spacelessness which makes everything perceivable, yet itself is beyond perception.
-- Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981), Hindu sage

These Rohingya Refugees Actually Want to Return to Myanmar. The Difference Is They're Hindus

Posted on 2019/1/7 10:50:00 ( 599 reads )


BANGLADESH, January 6, 2019 (LA Times): In the world's largest refugee camp, where 1.1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees reside, 105 families have been stranded -- caught in a war that was not theirs. Unlike the rest of the refugees, these families are Rohingya Hindus -- a small minority within a minority that had lived peacefully for generations in Myanmar's western Rakhine state alongside Muslims and members of the Buddhist majority. In the violence that engulfed Rakhine beginning in August 2017 -- when Rohingya Muslim militants attacked police checkpoints and the army responded by killing or maiming thousands of Muslim civilians -- 99 Hindus were killed and burned in mass graves. The Hindu villages were attacked by members of a militant group called the Arakhan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, that was also responsible for the attacks against the police. Hindus who survived fled in the only direction they could: across the Naf River and into Bangladesh's sprawling refugee camps meant for Rohingya Muslims, the very people they blame for the violence against them.

Fifteen months into the crisis, the Hindus' minority status has sharpened: While Rohingya Muslims have categorically rejected a plan that would repatriate the refugees, Hindus are ready to return to Myanmar, a view that has placed them at odds with the vast majority of people in the camps [where Hindus have even been attacked]. In May 2018, the United Nations struck a deal with the Myanmar government under which refugees would be allowed to return to Rakhine, although not necessarily to their original villages. The deal was widely criticized for not meeting the Rohingya Muslims' main demands: a restoration of citizenship rights that they have been denied for decades, freedom of movement and guarantees of safety. Within hours, the Hindu families were packed and ready to go. But many Muslim refugees protested the terms. Human rights group assailed the plan as unworkable. The United Nations refugee agency has shelved the plan -- a welcome move for the majority of refugees, but one that has pushed the Hindus to the edge of their endurance.

More at "source".

Gov. Jerry Brown Makes Plant-Based Meals the Law in California Hospitals

Posted on 2019/1/7 10:41:34 ( 595 reads )


SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, September 19, 2018 (AP News): The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine--a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members--applauds California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing into law a landmark bill that guarantees patients a healthful plant-based option at every meal. Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) authored Senate Bill 1138, which was co-sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Social Compassion in Legislation. "Whether to protect animals, our climate or our health, those of us who choose to eat a vegan diet can celebrate today with Gov. Brown's signing of SB 1138," says Sen. Skinner. "SB 1138 ensures that people in hospitals, healthcare facilities, or prison have access to plant-based meals."

SB 1138 will require licensed California health care facilities and state prisons to make available plant-based meal options containing no animal products or by-products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, or eggs. "Thanks to Sen. Nancy Skinner and Gov. Jerry Brown for passing this historic law that will provide plant-based options to hospital patients looking to fight heart disease, diabetes, and obesity--or who simply want a more healthful meal," says Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C. "Now, it's time for California hospitals to start putting into practice the plant-based meals recommended by the American Medical Association and the American College of Cardiology."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/1/7 10:41:20 ( 494 reads )


All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.
-- Swami Vivekananda, (1863-1902) founder Ramakrishna Mission

How Christians Use Education Programs to Convert Poor Hindus

Posted on 2019/1/6 9:44:01 ( 706 reads )


INDIA, February 9, 2018 (Swarajyamag by M. Kishwar and S. Kishwar): In recent years, the issue of conversions from Hinduism and ghar wapsi (reconversion to Hinduism) has evoked a great deal of controversy. Hindu groups allege that Christian missionaries use force, fraud and all kinds of illicit means in order to "harvest souls" for Christianity. Therefore, they seek a ban on conversions. In their defence, Christian missionaries say that they have never used unfair means and that their proselytization activities are merely an exercise of religious freedom, which is guaranteed under the Constitution of India. While on a recent visit to villages in Rohtas district in Bihar, during the course of my field research into the living conditions of ghumantoo jatis (itinerant communities) like the Nats, I got revealing glimpses of the methods being used by Christian missionaries to win converts. People of the Nat community today constitute among the poorest of the poor in India. Despite their precarious existence, most Nat parents today desire to see their children get good education so that they are able to land decent jobs. And this is exactly where some Christian missions have sensed a lucrative market for proselytization.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that even the Colorado Springs, US-based evangelist movement, the Joshua Project, lists the Nat community and its various sub-groups in its database of nearly 10,000 "unreached peoples" globally. About 100 children of Bishrampur Nat Tola village go to GEMS (Gospel Echoing Missionary Society), which also has a hostel with amenities like free food, clothing and toiletry. One's first spontaneous impression could well be to feel a sense of gratitude towards Christian missionaries for having come to the rescue of these vulnerable communities. But, perchance, we heard from the children and parents of Bishrampur Nat Tola the price they had to pay for these free tuitions and meals. For instance, Shankar Kumar, a parent, told us that the missionaries indulged in unethical pressure tactics, including violence on children, to force them to convert to Christianity. Many children were summarily expelled from GEMS because they refused to give up their ancestral faith. Ranjan Kumar, a student of Class VII, told us that he was beaten brutally with a stick because the priests got to know that he had accompanied his parents to the temple of Goddess Mandeshwari.

Much more of this report on the Joshua Project's use of unethical means at "source" above.

Was India's Knowledge Elitist?

Posted on 2019/1/6 9:43:48 ( 582 reads )


INDIA, December 32, 2018 (New Indian Express by Michel Danino): Indian civilization's obsession with knowledge was our last "master idea," with endless and still poorly explored contributions in nearly every field ("India as a Knowledge Creator", The New Indian Express, 29 November). But there is another side to the story, which in many ways characterizes the paradox of Indian culture. No Indian university, IIT or IIM has a regular, comprehensive course on Indian knowledge systems (IKS) (though IIT Gandhinagar made a beginning a few years ago). There are, no doubt, a few scattered courses on systems of ancient science (IIT Bombay and Kharagpur), and a few universities teach courses on Indian philosophical systems or even "Indology," whatever that means. By and large, however, indifference, neglect, or hostility to IKS is the rule. All three are part of India's colonial legacy. Many Indian academics and intellectuals have implicitly or explicitly accepted that knowledge from the West is the "real" thing.

In 1920, Sri Aurobindo wrote to his younger brother, "I believe that the main cause of India's weakness is not subjection, nor poverty, nor a lack of spirituality or Dharma, but a diminution of thought-power, the spread of ignorance in the motherland of Knowledge. Everywhere I see an inability or unwillingness to think--incapacity of thought or thought-phobia." The last term perfectly applies to our cultural negationists of the day. Indian knowledge systems were not "elitist" or exclusivist, even if specialized fields did exist for the various castes. Overall, while they invoked lofty concepts, they were often remarkably pragmatic. No, they did not tell us how to construct vimanas or nuclear weapons; instead, they sought to equip the society with all the tools it needed for a complete development in the material, aesthetic, intellectual, ethical and spiritual fields.

More at "source" above.

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