NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013

NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013
Shri Ramapir Mandir/Temple in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Graveyard purified for the Muslims by removing buried Hindu girl in Pakistan

By Mohammad S.Solanki (Managing Editor )
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
RAWALPINDI : ‘Peace’ returned to Ratta Amral graveyard on Tuesday night after the body of a little Hindu girl buried there a year ago was exhumed by her family and reburied in the adjacent Christian graveyard.

Their act of assuaging ‘Muslim sensitivities’ took place in the dark of the night and under tight security.

“When we buried our Summan Prem there on October 1, 2009, we mistakenly thought it was the Christian graveyard,” an uncle of the girl told Dawn, tears rolling down his cheeks in memory of his niece who would have been 10 this year.

“We did not want to cause any controversy, or annoy anyone. If the (graveyard management) committee does not want us Hindus to bury their dead here, we won’t,” he said.

Summan’s father, Prem Kishan, was spared the pain of shifting his daughter’s remains from, so to say, Muslim to Christian grounds, as he was away in Sukkur on the day for the funeral of his nephew.

Her family, living on The Mall, Saddar, is Balmeki Hindu, some of whom bury their dead instead of cremating.

Summan’s Hindu ancestry became known only after the family put a tombstone on her grave, bearing her name and Hindu Mantras.

Tongues started wagging at this ‘sacrilege’ and agitated Muslim clerics and visitors to the Ratta Amral graveyard raised ‘the issue’ with the graveyard’s managing committee.

They accused the management of negligence and threatened to stop burying their dead in the graveyard unless it was ‘purified’ by removing the non-Muslim’s body.

Alarmed by the anger that the dead Summan was causing, the management committee requested her family to move her out of the Muslim graveyard — which it did.

“We were not aware of the Hindu burial. Clerics and people of the area brought it to our notice and their reaction made us request the family to remove it to the adjacent Christian graveyard,” said Ratta Amral Graveyard Management Committee chairman Mohammad Mohsin Mir.

There are many graves of lower caste Hindus in the Christian graveyard which had been separated from the Muslim cemetery, he said.

“It was a mistake for the grave digger to assume that Summan was a Muslim. Otherwise the management committee is well aware that non-Muslims could not be buried in our graveyard,” said Mr Mir. His fear of the angry Muslim sentiments was understandable.

Hafiz Iqbal Rizvi, Rawalpindi District Khateeb, holds that Shariat does not allow burying non-Muslims in Muslim graveyards.

Chairman of the District Peace Committee Maulana Izhar Hussain Shah Bukhari blamed the burial of the non-Muslim girl in Ratta Amral graveyard on the management committee and the grave digger who did not register the names of the dead brought to the graveyard.

Six Hindu temples nominated for World Heritage List

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
(Photo : Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee)
Six Hindu temples in Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal have been nominated to be certified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Sukuh Hindu Temple and Penataran Hindu Temple Complex in Indonesia, Temples of Phanomroong and Muangtam in Thailand, and Rishikesh Complex of Ruru Kshetra and Ram Janaki Temple in Nepal are currently on the "Tentative List" of UNESCO World Heritage Convention nominated by their respective countries waiting to be inscribed on World Heritage List.

Currently, the World Heritage List is made up of 911 properties "having outstanding universal value", which includes only three Hindu temples: Hampi and Pattadakal temples in Karnataka (India) and Prambanan Temples in Indonesia.

Well known Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged the Convention to include more Hindu temple complexes in the World Heritage List as many of those were a wonderful example of exceptional architecture and design, represented a rich and unique civilization and culture, and were of outstanding universal significance.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also asked India, Nepal, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh, and other countries to nominate more Hindu temples for inclusion, as many of those were highly suitable for inscription on World Heritage List.

Mai Bint Muhammad Al Khalifa of Bahrain is the Chairperson of Bureau of the World Heritage Committee, while Ould Sidi Ali of Mali is the Rapporteur. The 21 States Parties of the current Committee are: Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Jordan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Russian Federation, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates. World Heritage Centre is headquartered in Paris (France) with Francesco Bandarin as Director and Kishore Rao as Deputy Director.

Navy conducts a Hindu religious ceremony in view of its 60th Anniversary, Sri Lanka

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sri Lanka Navy conducted a Hindu religious ceremony at Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar Kovil in Kotahena on 1st December 2010 in view of its 60th Anniversary. Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, senior naval officers at the Naval Headquarters and a cross section of the naval personnel participated.

Naval war heroes were remembered and their souls were blessed with merits during the Pooja held with offerings dedicated to the Gods. Commander of the Navy, the naval fleet, officers and sailors were also blessed for the efficient functioning of the Navy.

Sri Lanka Navy celebrates its 60th anniversary on 09th December 2010, giving prominence to religious activities of all faiths, in order to invoke blessings on heroic naval personnel who sacrificed their life, limb and liberty for the honour of the Navy while safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the motherland. Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic religious ceremonies are conducted accordingly with the participation of naval personnel representing cross sections of the Navy.

The Navy, which is a composite complement of personnel from all faiths, is mindful of the importance of promoting religious harmony. The Priests, highly impressed by the Navy’s religious fervour, offered counsel of religious wisdom and extended their whole-hearted blessings to its personnel wishing them strength and long life to continue their noble service for the benefit of the motherland.

Landmark Report Confronts Caste-based Discrimination in Indian Subcontinent

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Washington, D.C.  Caste-based discrimination is an ongoing human rights problem in India that must be eradicated, according to a landmark report released today by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a prominent U.S. based advocacy group. In its report, Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste - Seeking an End to Caste-based Discrimination, the Foundation analyzes the explosive subject of caste in the Indian sub-continent while rejecting the notion that caste is intrinsic to Hinduism. The discrimination represents a failure of Hindu society to live up to the essential spiritual teachings of the tradition, according to the authors, and the solution lies in proper application of Hindu teachings as well as the enforcement of existing Indian laws.
The report comes as a culmination of five years of research and documentation by the Foundation’s Board and Executive Council members, staff, supporters, and advisors. Today's release of Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste coincides with the observation of U.N. designated International Human Rights Day.
“This report is the Foundation’s sincere effort to join the many Hindus, both past and present, who have courageously fought caste-based discrimination, birth-based hierarchy, and other injustices against humanity,” said Swaminathan Venkataraman, HAF Board Member and editor of the report. “By creating a fairly comprehensive report on the caste system, and the present day challenges to eliminating caste-based discrimination, the Foundation hopes to empower those continuing their struggles, while affirming that the solution to this problem is in the adherence to Hinduism’s inherent principle of recognizing divinity in all beings.”
The 172-page report presents details of atrocities perpetrated against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (as designated by the Government of India) who constitute 22 percent of the Hindu population. Many members of these groups not only face discrimination in India, but also throughout South Asia. According to the report 33,165 crimes against members of Scheduled Caste (SC's) and Scheduled Tribes (ST's) were recorded in India in 2008 alone.
“The Hindu American Foundation’s pivotal report is an important contribution to that process [of eradication],” said Professor Ramdas Lamb, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Hawaii and President of the Sahayog Foundation, a U.S. based non-profit supporting educational and health needs of rural poor and Dalits in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh.  “It is the first major study to be done by a Hindu organization to try to understand the problems of caste prejudice from within and attempt to take concrete steps to help ameliorate them.”
The groundbreaking report highlights the historical efforts by Hindu groups as well as that of the Dalit movement in modern India to eliminate caste-based discrimination.  While much remains to be done for SC's and ST's, Venkataraman adds, the report acknowledges the significant progress in the six decades since India’s independence.
“Our report covers the complexities of the dynamics of caste today, but strongly asserts that Hindus must take responsibility for perversions of the caste system," stated Venkataraman reflecting on the potential impact of the document.  "We urge Hindus to look at the situation objectively, realistically, and compassionately, in spite of the exploitative roles of foreign rulers, predatory proselytizers, and current Indian politicians that have also contributed to the complexity and persistence of caste.”
Many Hindu leaders are working to eliminate the vestiges of caste-discrimination, according to the report, and statements from several such religious and spiritual leaders denouncing this discrimination are included.
“Unfortunately, as a practicing Hindu, there are aspects of my cultural heritage that must be dealt with as they have harmed others,” said Pawan Deshpande, HAF Executive Council member and key contributor to the report. “But I firmly believe that birth-based caste discrimination is a social ill. I am proud that one of Hinduism’s sustaining strengths is the ability of its followers to recognize evils within their own society and reform these problems through the teachings found in Hindu scriptures as well as through the guidance of Hinduism’s spiritual luminaries.”

Task force building national database of Hindu temples, Malaysia

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
(Photo : Malaysia-overview-map)
KUALA LUMPUR : Several Hindu non-governmental organisations have started a task force to carry out the ambitious task of building a database of Hindu temples across the nation.

The Task Force on Hindu Places of Worship is a joint effort between the MyNadi Foundation, Malaysia Hindu Council, Malaysian Hindudharma Mamandram and the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam.

These NGOs are carrying out a national survey of Hindu temples to build up the database and come up with a guidebook on removal and relocation of temples for the use of governmental agencies.

"So far, we have about 20 to 30 temples in our database," MyNadi Foundation chairman Datuk Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said at a press conference today.

He said the database will be provided to the Federal and state governments as well as local authorities for dealing with issues pertaining to Hindu temples.

Jeyaindran said among the problems faced by Hindu temples are lack of funding, illegal land ownership, relocation and removal.

"The government does not know how to handle issues pertaining to these places of worship because there is no proper database of the temples," he said.

The data sought from these temples includes history, management committee, special features such as primary deities in the temple, religious activities, land status, future plans and the expectations from local authorities and the federal government.

Jeyaindran said the temples will be categorised according to grades determined by ownership of land and the committee or organisation’s registration.

The grades are:

>A-temple has an organisation registered with the Registrar of Societies and owns land,

>B-temple has registered organisation but land might not be owned by them,

>C-temple owned by a certain group of people or run by a family, and;

>D-shrines along roadside whose ownership is unknown.

He said the task force will work with the relevant authorities to relocate illegal temples.

Malaysian Hindudharma Mamandram president Professor Dr. N.S. Rajendran, who is heading the research team, said the database is expected to be completed in a year.

He said the task force will deploy field officers to identify temples in isolated places, post the registration forms to temples, create an online registration form and engage with other NGOs at the state level to document these places of worship.

Rajendran said the funding for the survey, from the MyNadi Foundation, was initially estimated to cost RM700,000.

"But, we are trying to cut it down by reducing the number of field officers and focusing on sending out the registration forms via post,

"We also hope the temple committees can come forward to register themselves," he said.

For more information and forms, please contact Rajendran at 019-210 1702.

In Bali, Concern for the Fate of Hindu Temples , Indonesia

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
(Photo : Map of Bali island of Indonesia)
Denpasar :  Dozens of Hindu activists demonstrated outside the Bali legislative council on Wednesday against attempts by a handful of district heads to amend a key article in a bylaw on zoning that forbids commercial development within a five-kilometer radius of any large temple. The article concerned is in keeping with a bhisama, or Hindu edict.

The bhisama, issued in 1994 by Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, Balinese Hinduism’s highest authority, was initially not legally binding and served more as a religious guideline.

Following its inclusion in the 2009 bylaw, the bhisama did have limited legal effect, but the PHDI has pointed out that district heads are now trying to amend the zoning bylaw to allow for commercial development within the five-kilometer radius.

PHDI chief Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar said on Wednesday that any violations of the bhisama could eventually lead to the “destruction of Balinese culture.”

“We cannot allow the interests of a handful of investors to wreck the future of Balinese culture,” he said.

“We demand that Bali’s legislators reject a request filed by investors with the Supreme Court [on the matter] as well as attempts by district heads in Bali to amend the 2009 bylaw.”

He said the heads of Badung, Gianyar, Karangasem, Tabanan, Klungkung and Bangli districts had officially forwarded the request to amend the bylaw to the legislative council.

A member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) from Bali, I Wayan Sudirta, said he was aware of the effort.

“I am very aware of the workings of these district heads,” he aid. “During the election campaigns it was clear that investors were backing them. Now, apparently, it’s payback time and investors are demanding that the district heads make good on their promises.”

Gianyar district head Tjok Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati said the request was not a direct rejection of the bhisama.

“It basically lists out our concerns as heads of districts, and that we feel we may not be able to follow through or comply with the zoning bylaw,” Ardana Sukawati said.

The protesters against the bylaw amendment also demanded that the Balinese provincial administration provide incentives — such as waiving property taxes — for families living near temples, to encourage them not to sell their land to developers.

Speaking separately, the head of Bali’s Customary Village Council, Jero Gede Putu Suwena, said the bylaw should be strengthened to protect Bali from being overrun by project developers.

Sri Daya Mata, Guiding Light for U.S. Hindus, Dies at 96 in USA

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
(Photo : Sri Daya Mata, right, in 1939 with Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles, USA)
Los Angeles : Sri Daya Mata, who for more than five decades was the leader of one of the most influential Hindu groups in the United States and an ardent advocate of the healing power of meditation, died on Tuesday at the group’s retreat for nuns in Los Angeles. She was 96.

Her death was confirmed by Lauren Landress, a spokeswoman for the group, the Self-Realization Fellowship/Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, which is based in what once was an elegant hotel on Mount Washington in Los Angeles.

From 1955 until her death, Sri Daya Mata — her name means “true mother of compassion” in Sanskrit — was the society’s president and spiritual leader. In her flowing ocher sari, she presided over an organization that now has more than 600 temples, centers and retreats in 60 countries, about half of them in the United States. Ms. Landress estimated that the society had “hundreds of thousands” of followers, but said she could not be more specific.

The society, whose monks and nuns adopt Indian names, teaches that there is a unifying truth behind all religious experience, and the group encourages its members to honor their roots in other faiths. Most members follow a vegetarian diet, practice yoga, chant and meditate.

Meditation, Sri Daya Mata said, is a universal balm: “If we turn our consciousness within, in deep meditation, communing with God even a little bit every day, we begin gradually to experience that love which is our real nature.

“Feeling love within ourselves, it is very easy to give it to others.”

The Self-Realization Fellowship was founded in 1920 by the Indian yoga master Paramahansa Yogananda soon after he arrived in the United States as a delegate to the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston. He became well known as the author of “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which was first published in 1946.

Catherine Wessinger, a professor of the history of religions at Loyola University New Orleans, said on Thursday that Sri Yogananda was “the most significant teacher to popularize Hindu ideas and practices in the United States after the initial one, Swami Vivekananda,” who came to the United States in 1893.

“Of course, in the 1960s, numerous gurus immigrated to the United States,” Dr. Wessinger said, “but the S.R.F. remains influential.”

Sri Daya Mata, who was born Faye Wright in Salt Lake City on Jan. 31, 1914, was a daughter of Clarence and Rachel Wright, who were Mormons. Her grandfather Abraham Reister Wright was an architect of the Mormon Tabernacle.

Faye was 15 when she picked up a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture. Two years later, in 1931, she attended a lecture by Sri Yogananda in Salt Lake City.

Soon after, with her mother’s blessing, she moved to Los Angeles and joined the society. She took her vows in 1932, becoming one of the first nuns of the Self-Realization Fellowship order. Her mother, sister and two brothers later became members of the society as well.

For more than 20 years, Sri Daya Mata was one of Sri Yogananda’s closest disciples, serving as his secretary and helping compile the detailed instructions on yoga meditation that the society distributed by mail order.

In 1955, three years after Sri Yogananda died, she succeeded the Rajarsi Janakananda as president of the society. As a spiritual successor to Sri Yogananda, she supervised the training of disciples who resided in ashrams around the world and the administration of the society’s humanitarian services.

Besides its headquarters, the society owns a 10-acre sanctuary in the Pacific Palisades, near Malibu, Calif., where a temple crowned by a golden lotus was built in 1966 under Sri Daya Mata’s guidance. Followers come from around the country to meditate.

J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif., who has compiled a census of Hindu groups in the United States, said that while the Self-Realization Fellowship’s “strength still is in Southern California, Daya Mata built a following that it is now a much more substantial national movement.”

India : Ruins of Shiva temple located in MP

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
(Photo : Idol of Lord Shiv at Samasgarh in MP, India)
Madhya Pradesh : Ruins of a Shiva temple and 10 other temples belonging to the Parmar era have been located in Samasgarh, some 22 km from here. Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma has directed officials to ensure the maintenance of these remains.

Shambles of almost one dozen temples have been located, in which symbols of Shiva temples, Vishnu temples and other temples could be easily identified at the location where the remains of Jain temples were discovered earlier.

Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma has directed officials to take action for the conservation of these temples.

A survey team traced all these ruins in the leadership of Commissioner Archeology Ashok Shah on the day.

The ruins suggest that these temples would be of the Parmara-era that may have been destroyed by some reason. At a place, a jalahari and Shivling in the ruins of a rectangular temple were located.

In surveys performed earlier, only marks of Jain temples were located, which are exhibited at the Birla Museum and State Museum, here.

Historians believe that areas around the State capital were ruled by the Parmara King Bhoj and these ruins would definitely have been under his protection. Apart from Hindu, temples, ruins of Jain temples could also be easily identified.

Shah said the department was working on the plan to maintain these temples. He also informed Divisional Commissioner Manoj Shrivastava about the discovery over phone. The survey team included Vedprakash Nagayach, Deputy-Director Excavation OP Mishra, Archeologist Nagendra Verma and some photographers.