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A daily news summary for news media, educators, researchers, writers and religious leaders worldwide.
Updated: 3 years 20 weeks ago

Indian Elephant Receives National Heritage Animal Status

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 08:03

Source: www.thehindu.com

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 26, 2010: The declaration of the elephant as the National Heritage Animal of India on Thursday by the Union government has received hearty welcome from animal lovers. The decision has special significance in Kerala because the State has a large number of captive elephants and the manner in which they are kept has been constantly questioned by animal lovers.

The National Heritage Animal status for the elephant was one of the important recommendations of 12-member Elephant Task Force which submitted its report to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on August 31. The government accorded the prestigious status for the elephant following the approval of the Elephant Task Force recommendation by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife at its meeting on October 13.

US Hindu Temple Certified Under Green Building Council Program

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 08:02

Source: www2.timesdispatch.com

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, October 22, 2010: Finishing touches are being put on a building in western Henrico County that is a soon-to-be Hindu temple, one of the first religious buildings in the U.S. that will be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s environmental program.

The style is eighth-century. The techniques are green and modern. “We felt it was the socially responsible thing to do,” said Vijay Ramnarain, an architectural consultant on the project. Energy efficiency ties into the Hinduism, said Neil Bhatt, the architect on the project. “We worship the mother earth just as we worship other Deities.”

Berlin’s Hindu Community Has Faith in a Grand Temple For Ganesha

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 08:01

Source: www.spiegel.de

BERLIN, GERMANY, September 24, 2010: The Sri Ganesha Temple in Berlin is currently located in a drafty barn-like building with a leaky roof. But the Hindu community dreams of building a suitably grand temple.

Construction work has officially begun, even though believing that there will be enough money to finish it requires faith. After years of planning, fund-raising and setbacks, the groundbreaking ceremony took place on the first day of the 10-day festival to Lord Ganesha.

The temple congregation is made up of about 90 active members, and has big plans. It plans to build what they say will be Germany’s largest Hindu temple, with an ornamented, 17-meter (56-foot) royal tower (gopuram) at the gateway.

Daily Inspiration

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 08:00

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

The smallest good deed is better than the greatest intention.

Ayodhya’s “Independent Experts” Criticized by Allahabad High Court

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 08:03

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

ALLAHABAD, INDIA, October 9, 2010: The role played by “independent experts” — historians and archaeologists who appeared on behalf of the Waqf Board to support its claim — has come in for criticism by one of the Allahabad High Court judges in the Ayodhya verdict. While the special bench of three judges unanimously dismissed objections raised by the experts to the presence of a temple, it was Justice Sudhir Agarwal who put their claims to extended judicial scrutiny.

During lengthy cross-examination spread over several pages and recorded by Justice Agarwal, the historians and experts were subjected to pointed queries about their expertise, background and basis for their opinions. To the court’s astonishment, some who had written signed articles and issued pamphlets, found themselves withering under scrutiny.

Some instances underlined by the judge are: Suvira Jaiswal deposed “whatever knowledge I gained with respect to disputed site is based on newspaper reports or what others told me.” She said she prepared a report on the Babri dispute “after reading newspaper reports and on basis of discussions with medieval history expert in my department.”

Supriya Verma, another expert who challenged the ASI excavations, had not read the ground penetration radar survey report that led the court to order an excavation. The judge pointed out how the independent witnesses were all connected — one had done a PhD under the other, another had contributed an article to a book penned by a witness.

Justice Aggarwal emphasized the need for thorough original research before concurring with what someone else has claimed.

Hindu Temples in Bangkok

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 08:02

Source: thestar.com.my

BANGKOK, THAILAND, September 18, 2010: Bangkok is often synonymous with Buddhism, but the savvy traveler and the devout know that the city also has five other Hindu shrines the size of Thailand’s ubiquitous Buddhist Temples.These six shrines honor the Hindu Deities Brahman, Indra, Narayana, Lakshmi, Trimurti Ishvara and Ganesha.

It is easy to visit and pray at all six is easy because they are all within walking distance of one another. All six life-sized Deities are located on relatively small spaces, and worshippers pray in the open air. It’s customary to start at the famous Erawan Shrine, also called Brahman Shrine or Phra Phrom by the Thais–every taxi driver in Bangkok knows this most revered and famous of shrines in Ratchaprasong, the city’s pre-eminent shopping and entertainment district. Millions, including Malaysians, visit annually, to worship the four-faced Brahma.

Televangelism, the Missionary’s New Tactic

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 08:01

Source: www.organiser.org

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 10, 2010: Televangelism has come to India with a number of evangelical television channels competing for viewers. In addition to aiding missionaries send their message of conversion, televangelism greatly increases the revenues of the global Christian groups. A research publication “McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics: Televangelism in Contemporary India” by Jonathan D. James looks at some of these issues, unraveling how the global networks operate in India and how they are culturally alien to the Indian ethos. The book is based on field research, interactions with pastors at various levels and some Hindu leaders.

Explaining the term McDonaldisation, the author says “McDonalds turns its customers into involuntary unpaid labor, where they must queue to give their orders, carry their food, eat most of their food with hands and clear away their own rubbish. Likewise, global televangelism is turning their audiences into their labor force as fellow evangelists.”

Daily Inspiration

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 08:00

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

The body of Ben Franklin, Printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here food for worms, but the Work shall not be lost, for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the author.
   Epitaph of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), written by the inventor and politician when he was only 22, expressing his belief in reincarnation.

Canadian Hindu Community Develops Guidelines for Spreading Ashes on Public Waterways

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 08:05

Source: www.thestar.com

TORONTO, CANADA, October 14, 2010: Final rites for a loved one are a serious enough business without the added fear of breaking the law to follow custom. So Canada’s Hindu community has begun releasing a set of guidelines that allow the ancient practice of spreading ashes on water without running afoul of modern environmental concerns. “There was so much guilt that I experienced myself 14 years ago, when I spread my father’s ashes in Lake Ontario,” recalls Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, 58, who is leading the effort. “I didn’t know if it was legal. I was uncomfortable. People are always looking over their shoulder.”

The Canadian Hindu Federation, of which Sharma is president, has worked on the guidelines to educate its community, in co-operation with municipalities and the province. The first phase of those guidelines encourages mourners to pick a spot at least half a kilometre from shore. Other rules will be released in coming weeks and posted on the federation’s website and at temples, Sharma said.

The province has clarified its position on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website. Approval isn’t needed to spread ashes on Crown land, such as provincial parks and conservation areas, the website says. But it’s not legal to do it on private land, or private waterways, without the owner’s consent. And “only a handful of leaves and flowers” should accompany the ashes.

Madame Tussaud Celebrated First Ever Diwali Weekend

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 08:04

Source: menmedia.co.uk

UNITED KINGDOM, September 22, 2010: World famous Madame Tussauds has announced it will be marking one of South Asia’s most colorful and popular festivals, as it launched its first ever Diwali weekend in October. Guests at Madame Tussauds enjoyed some of the authentic musical traditions of India, including sitar, flute and tabla players as well as traditional dance performed by accomplished classical musicians. And to make the Diwali celebration even more complete, there will be a wide range of delicious Indian mithai’s being sold at the Indian sweets hut. The one-weekend-only event took place between 16 and 17 October, was hosted in the popular World Stage area and joined Indian wax figures of Bollywood superstars Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachan and Salman Khan.

PR manager, Liz Edwards said: “Celebrating Diwali at Madame Tussauds is a tribute to the growing number of South Asian visitors from the UK and abroad who enjoy the attraction and come back year after year to experience it. We also look forward to all our other international guests experiencing a snapshot of multicultural Britain.”

Bangalore to Host Global Sanskrit Book Fair

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 08:03

Source: sify.com

BANGALORE, INDIA, September 20, 2010: “Scholars from about 20 countries, including Britain and Germany, are expected to participate in the four-day World Sanskrit Book Fair beginning January 7, 2011″, said M.N. Venkatachalaiah, former chief justice of India and president of the fair’s Advisory Board. Though titled World Sanskrit Book Fair, it will have books in all Indian languages on Sanskrit literature. “People are longing to go back to the roots and access primary sources of knowledge. Hence the fair is being held to make Sanskrit literature available in all Indian languages to the public. The popularity of Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta ancient Hindu religious texts and the Bhagavad Gita has brought about renewed interest the world over to learn Sanskrit,” said Venkatachalaiah.

Participants will include The Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Sanskrit universities, oriental research institutes and Sanskrit academies. About 100 publishers from India will display their books and they are expecting 10,000 delegates from India and abroad. Additionally, there will be a three-day national conference of Sanskrit scholars and an exhibition entitled “Knowledge Heritage of India.”

Insidious Conversion Tactics

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 08:02

Source: www.missionfrontiers.org

USA, October 23, 2010: For those interested in the strategy of “inculturation” presently being used by Christian missionaries in India, read this issue of Mission Frontier, the bulletin of the U.S. Center for World Mission here. It details the inculturation strategy of the missionaries with the native American Indian tribes.

Indians Need to Work Harder at Staying Healthy Compared to Westerners

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 08:01

Source: www.hindustantimes.com

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 20, 2010: New physical activity guidelines for Indians say they need almost twice the amount of exercise Westerners need to keep fit because we are genetically at higher risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease and metabolic complications. While the American Diabetic Association prescribes 45 minutes of physical exercise 3-4 times a week, Indians should put in one hour a day, seven days a week. This was part of the Consensus Physical Activity Guidelines for Asian Indians released on Saturday, and reached following discussions among 130 scientists from India, Britain, the US and Australia. “A majority of Indians lead a sedentary lifestyle, thanks to the rapid economic and demographic transformation of India. Exercise should become top of the agenda for every Indian,” said Dr Anoop Misra, director of the National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation, which brought out the guidelines along with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

“While there are several reference points for physical activity in the developed world, so far we had nothing in India. The guidelines will show the correct way of doing exercise and in right intensity and amount,” said Dr Misra.

Daily Inspiration

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 08:00

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

There are only two things you can really depend on: one is the changeableness of life, and the other is the unchanging Self within you.
   Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001)

Brihadisvara Temple Marks 1,000 Birthday, Still Going Strong

Thu, 10/21/2010 - 08:04

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11406440“>www.bbc.co.uk

THANJAVUR, INDIA, September 25, 2010: Official celebrations are taking place in southern India for the 1,000th birthday of one of the grandest temples ever built on the subcontinent. The Brihadisvara temple in the town of Thanjavur, 350km (220 miles) south-west of Chennai, is considered the finest example of southern Indian architecture. R. Nagasami, the state of Tamil Nadu government’s retired director of archaeology, says “We can definitely say the temple was complete by the year 1010. We made this conclusion from stone inscriptions.” Unlike other Hindu temples built during that period, this one was made using granite. Dedicated to Lord Shiva it consists of 13 tiers, and its main tower soars majestically to a height of 60m (200ft). The master designers built the hollow tower by interlocking stones without using any binding material.

Considered one of the tallest structures in India at that time, the temple was built on the orders of the King Raja Raja Chola, the most prominent sovereign of the Chola dynasty. The Cholas reached their zenith during the 11th Century, subduing smaller kingdoms and bringing most of southern India under their rule. They were also pioneers in naval warfare, carrying out hostile waterborne expeditions to Sri Lanka and the Far East. Raja Raja Chola, who ruled from 985 AD to 1014, was a Saivite. His capital was the town of Thanjavur, situated on the banks of the River Cauvery, which is considered sacred by Hindus. “King Raja Raja was also known as Sivapada Sundaran [which means a man devoted to the feet of Shiva],” says Mr Nagasami.

The temple is 240m long and 120m wide. There were no rock formations near the temple, so it had to be transported from quarries 50km away. It is believed the rock was brought to the building site by river boat. P.S. Sriraman, assistant superintendant archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India, says: “If you compare the Brihadisvara Temple with other temples of that time, it is at least 40 times bigger. “This is a dramatic scaling up. It shows their confidence and imagination. It has a very unique design. It is the first Hindu temple to be built on such a grand scale.” Interestingly, the temple also has number of statues and stone carvings depicting the life of Buddha.

V. Ganapati Sthapati, a well-known temple architect, says: “The temple tower incorporates the same building principles used in the construction of great pyramids. “They designed the temple using traditional knowledge which is held as family secrets, and passed down from father to son. They carved out rocks using hand-held tools.” The inscriptions found in the temple have helped scholars understand the Chola empire.

The temple, which also has fresco paintings, has survived the ravages of countless monsoons, six recorded earthquakes and a major fire. Its superintendant archaeologist, Sathyabama Badrinath, says: “The temple is in excellent condition. It has no structural problems. “The weight load is evenly distributed among pillars and beams. It needs very little maintenance.”

None of the forts and palaces built by the Cholas survives today. But the remaining temples stand testimony to their achievements and are a major tourist attraction for both local and foreign visitors.

Punishment Can Have Lasting Psychological Impact on Children

Thu, 10/21/2010 - 08:03

Source: www.sciencedaily.com

MONTREAL, CANADA, September 22, 2010: Grabbing a child firmly by the arm, yelling and repeatedly punishing him or her may not be without long-terms risks, according to researchers from the University of Montreal. They are studying how this harsh parenting can impair the emotional development of a child, possibly leading to anxiety disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety and panic attacks. “Several studies have shown that coercive parenting practices are linked to anxiety,” says Francoise Maheu a professor at the University de Montreal’s Department of Psychiatry and lead investigator of the study. “We know that common practices such as spanking or excessive punishment do not instill a strong discipline. Quite the opposite, they have a lasting psychological impact on children.”

“My hypothesis is that two specialized structures, the amygdala and the anterior congulate cortex, which form the neural fear circuit, play a role in mediating the anxiety associated with harsh parenting. We are investigating these structures because they are strongly associated with the processing of threat cues” says Maheu.”Investigating the links among harsh parenting, fear circuitry and anxiety in youths will provide key insights on the developmental neurobiology of harsh parenting and anxiety,” adds Maheu. “Understanding this while individuals are young is crucial as it could lead to early interventions that would effectively interrupt a development trajectory early in its course, before anxiety becomes chronic.”

Tamil Immigrants in Switzerland Excel

Thu, 10/21/2010 - 08:02

Source: immigrazione.aduc.it

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, September 21, 2010: In Switzerland, the Tamil and Portuguese communities have almost the same social position. However, if you compare the academic success of their children, the two groups are located at the extremes. The children of the Sri Lankan community are among the larger foreign communities in Zurich, and the students have the best results, while the Portuguese students occupy last place. The report is from the Council for Migrants, which supplies information for residents who are foreign nationals.

A majority of the Portuguese, 63%, plan to return home, compared to 70% of the Tamils who want to settle in Switzerland.

Hindu Community Honors Canadian Soldiers

Thu, 10/21/2010 - 08:01

Source: www.yorkregion.com

RICHMOND HILL, CANADA, September 29, 2010: It’s solid granite, weighs 15 tons and stands 12 feet tall. The “monument to the fallen soldier” is being unveiled this weekend by the Indo-Canadian community this weekend. The memorial will stand outside the Canadian Museum of Hindu Civilization on the property of Vishnu Mandir Temple.

“This monument is to celebrate the sacrifices Canadian soldiers have made, with a particular emphasis on Afghanistan, so that we as Canadians can enjoy peaceful days,” said Vishnu Mandir spiritual leader Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay. Shylee Someshwar, CMHOC chairperson said the monument is something that not only that the Indo-Canadian community can take pride in, but all of Canada’s ethnic communities. “Yes, we are Indo-Canadians, but we are all Canadian first,” stated Ms Someshwar. “Like other communities we are an integral part of the Canadian mosaic. This is our way of saying that we care and that we appreciate what these brave Canadians do for us each day,” she added.

Daily Inspiration

Thu, 10/21/2010 - 08:00

Source: www.hinduismtoday.com

We owe a lot to Indians, who taught us to count, without which no worthwhile discovery could have been made.
   Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

US Pastor Says Yoga Is “Demonic,” Sparking Protests and Debate

Wed, 10/20/2010 - 08:04

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

SEATTLE, WA, USA, October 18, 2010: Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll’s statement that yoga is an agent of Hinduism, and hence demonic, has many yoga gurus and practitioners confused.

Adding fuel to the fire, The Seattle Times newspaper last week quoted R Albert Mohler Jr, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, as saying that yoga was against Christianity. Some see the statements as acknowledgement of the popularity of yoga, which has been growing as rapidly as mainstream religions once did.

Those who flock to yoga studios feel that the pastor’s statement is an attempt by the church to interference in their lifestyle. “The church has nothing to do with my choice of exercise,” says April Mallery, 32, a yoga practitioner and a regular church-goer at Renton, Seattle. “The benefits of yoga are great and never in contradiction to one’s practicing religion,” she said.

What irked people like Mallery was a recent question and answer session of Driscoll with church members. “Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its “demonic” roots?” Driscoll asked, before replying: “Totally. You sign up for a little yoga class, and you are signing up for a little demon class.”

Contesting the idea of yoga seeking to “connect to the universe through meditation” and not “connecting to God through the mediation of Jesus”, Driscoll dubbed yoga “a form of pantheism and absolute paganism”.

[HPI recommendation: For a comprehensive series of opinions from miniesters and scholars on this subject, click here to visit the Dallas News religion blog.]