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Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2010/2/15 8:00:01 ( 988 reads )

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

Whenever I have read any part of the Vedas, I have felt that some unearthly and unknown light illuminated me. In the greatest teachings of the Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climes and nationalities and the royal road for the attainment of the Great Knowledge.
   Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American naturalist, philosopher and writer

UK Justice Allows for Open-Air Pyre

Posted on 2010/2/14 8:03:01 ( 885 reads )

Source: www.timesonline.co.uk

UNITED KINGDOM, February 10, 2010: Hindus and Sikhs in Britain won a landmark court victory yesterday that will allow mourners to cremate their dead on funeral pyres. The Court of Appeal ruling follows a lengthy battle waged by a devout 71-year-old Hindu for the right to be cremated by "sacred fire" according to the ancient diktats of his religion.

Davender Kumar Ghai's attempt to establish the first approved site in Britain for the 4,000-year-old spiritual ceremony was blocked four years ago by Newcastle City Council, which ruled that human pyres were unlawful. The local authority's decision was upheld by the High Court last year.

That ruling has been overturned by a panel of three Appeal Court judges headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, who said that existing cremation laws did not prohibit the burning of human remains on a wooden pyre open to natural air and sunlight. To comply with the Cremation Act 1902, the judges said that the ceremonies would merely need to take place within a building, which, to meet Hindu spiritual requirements, could be a roof supported by pillars or a walled structure with no roof.

Lord Neuberger said: "Contrary to what everyone seems to have assumed, it seems to us that Mr Ghai's religious and personal beliefs as to how his remains should be cremated can be accommodated within current cremation legislation."

The decision is a triumph for Kenyan-born Mr Ghai, who has lived in Britain since 1958 and is the founding president of the Anglo Asian Friendship Society. He has described British cremation facilities as "a mechanized humiliation of dignity -- a waste-disposal process devoid of spiritual significance". He argued that to deny him the funeral for which he yearned was discriminatory and violated his human rights.

5 Million Take Holy Dip In Ganga On Mahashivaratri

Posted on 2010/2/14 8:02:01 ( 1139 reads )

Source: www.hindu.com

HARIDWAR, INDIA, February 13, 2010: Over 5 million devotees, along with sages and ash-smeared Naga sadhus, took a holy dip in the Ganga here on Friday on the first 'shahi snan' (royal bath) of the Maha Kumbh on Mahashivaratri. The day was marked by a grand procession of the 'akharas' or religious orders.

The procession, which witnessed thousands of Naga sadhus displaying their acrobatic and martial skills, added color to the Kumbh Mela which started on January 14.

Elsewhere across the country, the faithful thronged temples to offer prayers and observed dawn-to-dusk fasts as Mahashivaratri was celebrated. Devotees waited in long, serpentine queues to offer milk and 'Gangajal' to the Shivlingams at the temples.

They turned up in droves at the famous Somnath temple in Gujarat's Junagadh district and in Delhi, Shiva temples were beautifully decorated. The festival was also observed in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, and across the country with traditional fervor.

New Zealand Welcomes Hindu Festival Of Colors

Posted on 2010/2/14 8:01:01 ( 972 reads )

Source: www.voxy.co.nz

NEW ZEALAND, February 11, 2010: The Hindu Council of New Zealand is now introducing the Festival of Colors (Holi) to the public for the first time on Sunday, 28 February 2010. After Deepawali, Holi is the second most important festival of India. Observed since ancient times, Holi festival - a spring festival in India - glorifies good harvest and fertility of the land.

Holi is also a festival of fun accompanied by folk songs and dances. People celebrate it by covering each other with colored powder, and drenching with colored water. The colorful festival bridges social gaps and differences, bringing people and communities together. Immigrant Indian communities all over the world including New Zealand celebrate Hol.

The Hindu Council of New Zealand and Te Papaiouru Marae, Ohinemutu Village are working together to organize a family fun day and share this Hindu festival with Rotorua public. This festival is one more step forward in Hindu-Maori relations (whakawhanaungatanga).

"It was the support, participation and positive feedback from the public during Rotorua Deepawali Festival that encouraged us to introduce this new festival to Rotorua" said Dr. Guna Magesan, General Secretary of Hindu Council of New Zealand and one of the coordinators of this festival.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2010/2/14 8:00:01 ( 1121 reads )

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

Just as, when we touch a live wire, the electric force infuses itself into our body, when we deeply meditate on God the power of the whole universe seeks entry into our personality.
   Swami Krishnananda, General Secretary, Divine Life Society

Panel to Decide Who Manages Pashupatinath Temple

Posted on 2010/2/13 8:03:01 ( 838 reads )

Source: www.thehimalayantimes.com

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, February 10, 2010: The Nepalese Supreme Court today directed the government to set up a panel to decide whether the Pashupatinath Temple should be run by the state since the country has turned secular. The bench has given three months for the committee to prepare the report.

"The panel will deal with the priest appointment and management of offerings made by the devotees in the temple," the bench observed, responding to a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocates Binod Phuyal and Lokdhoj Thapa, seeking an apex court order to appoint priests at the Hindu shrine and to manage offerings made to it. The petitioners also sought to set up an independent and autonomous commission to decide all matters related to the Hindu temple.

Yogathon Aims To Boost Physical And Spiritual Health

Posted on 2010/2/13 8:02:01 ( 930 reads )

Source: www.pjstar.com

PEORIA, ILLINOIS, January 30, 2010: Yoga is touted for its benefits, physical and mental, by celebrities, doctors and fitness experts alike. But for Dr. Mandar Pattekar, director of the Hindu Temple of Central Illinois, it's also a spiritual experience.

Pattekar and the temple participated in Health for Humanity, a two-week national event that ends Sunday, sponsored by U.S.-based Hindu organization Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. During the two-week period, yoga centers and community organizations such as the temple work to complete 1 million Surya Namaskars, or Sun Salutations, to increase nationwide awareness of yoga and its advantages in achieving physical, mental and spiritual health. Last year, participants across the country completed 800,000 repetitions.

The Surya Namaskar has been practiced for thousands of years and consists of a set of 10 movements. Practitioners complete 13 sets each day. "This has been done by ancient Hindus, but we want to share it with everyone," Pattekar said. "We feel we are a trustee of a wealth of knowledge."

Pattekar said traditional practitioners perform the Surya Namaskar in the morning to greet the sun because Hindus view the sun as a manifestation of God. The movements also produce benefits that last the entire day.

Church of England Withdraws its Investment in Orissa Mine

Posted on 2010/2/13 8:01:01 ( 1232 reads )

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

LONDON, ENGLAND, February 11, 2010: In a statement released on Friday, the Church of England said that it was withdrawing its investments from the Vedanta mineration company, in India, after several protests. The decision has been welcomed by campaigning groups including Survival International which has been lobbying the church to disinvest from Vedanta for more than a year. Survival International says that the bauxite mine will destroy a large part of the Niyamgiri Mountain in Orissa, damaging the lives of tribal Hindus, the Kondh tribes' people who live in the area.

The Church of England has a US$4.1m stake in Vedanta, which runs an alumina refinery in Lanjigarh, Orissa, and is planning a bauxite mine in the nearby Niyamgiri hills.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2010/2/13 8:00:01 ( 1031 reads )

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

Spirituality is neither the privilege of the poor nor the luxury of the rich. It is the choice of the wise man.
   Swami Chinmayananda

Re-Writing History, Changing America's Young Minds

Posted on 2010/2/10 8:02:01 ( 934 reads )

Source: www.nytimes.com

[HPI note: Hinduism Today cannot overemphasize the importance of this article's subject. Summarized below is the most comprehensive summary of what lies ahead of America's young minds today and the forces that will help shape this country's future. We highly recommend reading the original, not just for parents, but for citizens of any faith (including Christianity) who believe in the virtues of a separation between church and state.]

Last week, members of what is the most influential state board of education in the country, and one of the most politically conservative, submitted their own proposed changes to the new social-studies curriculum guidelines -- guidelines that will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years. But seven of the 15 members of the Texas state board of education are quite open about the fact that they vote in concert to advance a Christian agenda.

Texas' curriculum guidelines are clear, broad and inclusive enough that many other states used them as a model in devising their own. Textbooks -- printed or online -- are still the backbone of education. "Texas was and still is the most important and most influential state in the country." James Kracht, a professor at Texas A&M's college of education and a longtime player in the state's textbook process, said flatly, "Texas governs 46 or 47 states."

The people who decide what America's children will learn in years to come are Texas board members like Don McLeroy, a dentist by profession, who proposed amendment after amendment on social issues. "I'm a dentist, not a historian," he said. Indeed, dentistry is only a job for McLeroy; his real passions are his faith and the state board of education. He has been a member of the board since 1999 and served as its chairman from 2007 until he was demoted from that role by the State Senate last May because of concerns over his religious views. For McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. "I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist," he announced almost as soon as we sat down. He also identifies himself as a young-earth creationist who believes that the earth was created in six days, as the book of Genesis has it, less than 10,000 years ago. He went on to explain how his Christian perspective both governs his work on the state board and guides him in the current effort to adjust American-history textbooks to highlight the role of Christianity.

In a book she wrote two years ago, Cynthia Dunbar, another board member, could not have been more explicit about this being the reason for the Mayflower Compact's inclusion in textbooks; she quoted the document and then said, "This is undeniably our past, and it clearly delineates us as a nation intended to be emphatically Christian."

The process in Texas required that writing teams, made up mostly of teachers, do the actual work of revising the curriculum, with the aid of six appointed experts. One of them, the Rev. Peter Marshall, says that his work is "dedicated to helping to restore America to its Bible-based foundations through preaching, teaching and writing on America's Christian heritage and on Christian discipleship and revival." He proposes, for example, that children be taught that the separation-of-powers notion is "rooted in the Founding Fathers' clear understanding of the sinfulness of man." Another nonacademic expert, David Barton, has written and lectured on the First Amendment and against separation of church and state. When the U.S. Senate invited a Hindu leader to open a 2007 session with a prayer, he objected, saying: "In Hindu [sic], you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods. And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration when they talked about Creator."

[HPI note: You can read more about this controversy and see Hinduism Today's efforts at https://www.hinduismtoday.com/education/ . In the next issue of the magazine, you will also find the fifth installment of our History Lesson.]

Kumbha Mela Photos

Posted on 2010/2/10 8:01:01 ( 1170 reads )

Source: www.sfgate.com

SAN FRANCISCO, USA, February 10, 2010: The San Francisco Chronicle published a beautiful 13-photo slideshow of the Maha Kumbha Mela that is happening in Haridwar, India. It focuses on the Mela's sadhus. You can see it at the source above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2010/2/10 8:00:01 ( 1158 reads )

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

You may turn your bones to fuel, your flesh to meat, letting them roast and sizzle in the gold-red blaze of severe austerities. But unless your heart melts in love's sweet ecstasy, you never can possess my Lord Siva, my treasure-trove.
   Tirumantiram Verse 272

Sivaratri In Bali

Posted on 2010/2/9 8:05:01 ( 1045 reads )

Source: blog.baliwww.com

(HPI notes: Sivaratri was celebrated in Bali on January 14th, 2010, but it will be celebrated in most places tomorrow. For more information, see the two articles below.)

BALI, January 14, 2010: Tonight, on the seventh month's fourteenth day of waxing moon, Balinese celebrate Sivaratri or the Night of Siva. Balinese believes that on this day, God Siva meditates for the welfare of the world, and He bestows a pardon for all sin to someone if he accompanies Him in His meditation by observing some self restriction on the night of Sivaratri.

The vrata (self-restriction) of Sivaratri includes Jagra (staying awake all night long), Upawasa (fasting), and Monabrata (silence). There are three major level of self- restriction, Balinese can choose a level of self-restriction according to his capability.

The celebrations of Sivaratri light up the night all over Bali. On this night, temples are full with their congregations. They stay awake all night long, recite prayers or old religious stories, and fight sleepy eyes as hard as possible. Then, Balinese devotees traditionally flock to the beach to take a purification ceremony simply by praying on the beach and taking a quick bath in the chill seawater.

Two Calculations for Mahasivaratri

Posted on 2010/2/9 8:04:01 ( 887 reads )

Source: HPI

KAPAA, HI, USA, February 10, 2010: The monks at the headquarters of Hinduism Today magazine have been contacting specialists on Hindu scripture and tradition to clarify the date when Mahasivaratri is celebrated.

Apart from regional variations, such as is the case in Bali, there are two basic ways to calculate Sivaratri, according to the lunar month or solar month. Those who follow the lunar month celebrate it in the month of Magha, or February 11/12 this year, a calculation most popular in North India. Those who follow the South Indian solar month are celebrating it on Masi, March 12.

Usually the two calendars overlap and there is no difference in date, but this year Sivaratri will be celebrated both months, depending on one's locality and tradition, because Masi begins on February 12 but that is still the lunar month of Magha.

[HPI note: This year, Kauai's Hindu Monastery will celebrate Mahasivaratri on February 11, tomorrow.]

Hindu Community Hopes For Temple Approval From Chino Hills

Posted on 2010/2/9 8:03:01 ( 1211 reads )

Source: www.contracostatimes.com

CHINO HILLS, CALIFORNIA, February 5, 2010: A Hindu community here is closer to completing its religious center, but still has to overcome a city height restriction for the towers it wants to build as part of the temple. The BAPS -- Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanastha -- Hindu community of Chino Hills wants to begin construction on the temple, at the complex on Fairfield Ranch Road near the 71 Freeway, which is nearing completion.

The obstacle that has remained for the past few years has been the city construction height limit of 42 feet for the high-density residential zone where the temple would be located. Plans call for spires at a height of 78 feet, and the community has asked the city to change the height restriction on the zone.

Developers last week submitted an application for building the centerpiece of the complex, a 10,000-square-foot temple, or mandir - the term for a Hindu place of worship and prayer.

A hearing is expected within three to six months, said Kal Mistry, spokesman and volunteer for the BAPS community of Chino Hills.

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