29 November, 2010

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar speaks on President Obama 's religion dilemma

The president's religion dilemma
The Washington Post, 15th November, 2010

President Obama's 10-day Asia trip includes visits to India and Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.

The president chose not to visit the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar during his time in India because it required a head covering that his advisers feared would fuel speculation about his faith. A Pew study showed that nearly 20% of Americans believe falsely that the president is a Muslim.

The more Obama reaches out to Muslims, the more his critics are likely to slander him, implying that he is not a Christian.

An example is his April 2009 speech in Turkey, in which he said, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation, we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." The president's critics have seized on that statement, insisting that he rejects the Christian foundations of America.

Is Obama stuck between a rock and a hard place? If you were the president, how would you handle this dilemma?

Sri Sri: President Barack Obama's tour of Asia seems to have brought up questions about his religious affiliations, his identification with one faith or another and his own belief system. During his tour, President Obama has visited the world's largest democracy - Hindu majority India, and the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia.

During his last trip to Turkey, President Obama had said, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation, we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." While the head of state of any country cannot afford to identify with any one religion, so as not to alienate people of other religions, he/she must be all-inclusive and accommodating. One way to do this is to deny one's identity and the other way is to include the identity of others as well. Perhaps, Obama's approach could have been: "I am Christian and I believe in Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist thoughts as well." Could that have silenced his critics to some extent?

One could take a cue from an inspirational figure such as Mahatma Gandhi who said that he was a devout Hindu who believed in Hindu philosophy, yet he also learnt from the teachings of Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. It is important that we bear in mind that there will always be some people who criticize anything one does or says - especially those toeing the line of fanaticism. One can never please everybody.

In some ways because of his background, President Obama seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. It may be wise to state that America is a country that belongs to people of every religion and they all have equal opportunity to practice and profess their religion, while not negating America's roots. Anytime one negates a religion or one's religious identity/roots, it stokes the passions of people, whereas inclusivity is a binding factor. Instead of saying, "not Christian or Muslim", we are better and wiser placed to state, "also Christian, Hindu, Buddhist." Perhaps if he had taken this kind of a positive approach, it would have been a very different story. In such a scenario, nobody would feel offended as no one can claim to hold an exclusive right to Heaven or the Earth.


06 November, 2010

13 October, 2010

Rama Rajya & its components

D.K. Hari

In the Indian context ‘Rama Rajya’ is considered as the epitome of ideal rule.

Mahatma Gandhi in his days extolled the virtues of ‘Rama Rajya’ as the form of ideal rule in the governance and development of India. Many thinkers and speakers from then on and even to this day speak of Rama Rajya as the ideal rule.

If it is a form of good rule, then what are the components of it? Can it be applied to modern day governance, business management and administration?

This lead me to the search of the factors and components that make good governance of Rama Rajya. While Mahatma Gandhi or none of the other speakers list out the detailed points of Rama Rajya, my search led me to the original text of Ramayana, where I found the answers, to my search, in the words of Rama himself.

When Rama left for exile, Bharatha his younger brother who was asked to rule the kingdom instead, came in search of his elder brother Rama, to the forests, to request Rama to come back to Ayodhya and rule the country. Rama firmly refused the offer of returning to Ayodhya but advised Bharatha, on how to rule the country by asking him 56 questions.

These, 56 questions form the part called Kacchit Sarga, in Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana epic.

Instead of sermonizing to Bharatha on how to rule, Rama uses the technique of guiding Bharatha by asking him specific questions.


Babri Masjid Built Against the Tenets of Islam: Allahabad High Court

Above: Issues For Briefing, Allahabad High Court Verdict on Ayodhya, 30th September, 2010

18 September, 2010

Muslim Persecution of Hindus In India

Phyllis Chesler, Fox News

The Story You Won't See In the Western Mainstream Media

They are crossing the border illegally and violently displacing the indigenous population whose homes and possessions they either destroy or occupy. They are attacking the young, the elderly, and especially the girls and women, whom they kidnap, forcibly convert, or traffic into brothels. The locals are terrified of them. The police rarely come to their aid, nor do the politically correct media or government. Both are terrified by the criminals and terrorists who are riding these immigrant waves.

I am not talking about illegal immigrants to Europe or North America. I am describing Muslims who are penetrating India’s West Bengal region. These Bangladeshi immigrants are becoming conduits for criminal activities (arms, drugs, and sexual slavery) which also fund global jihad.

You won’t read about this in the Western mainstream media - or even in the Indian media, which has turned a blind eye to this ongoing tragedy because they are afraid to be labeled “politically incorrect” or “Islamophobic.” They are also afraid of reprisals. When Islamic zealots ransacked the office of the renowned newspaper, ‘The Statesman’ in Kolkata, in retaliation for a mere reproduction of an article condemning Islamic extremism, the Indian press remained silent. The editor and publisher of the newspaper were arrested for offending Muslim sentiments and no action was taken against the rioters.

Fortunately, there are a few very brave Hindus who are taking a stand against the Muslim terror campaign in India. One of them is Tapan Ghosh, whom I had the privilege of meeting recently when he came to New York City to talk about anti-Hindu persecution in his homeland. In 2008, Ghosh founded “Hindu Samhati” (Hindu Solidarity Movement), which serves persecuted Hindu communities in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.

As Ghosh emphasized in our interview, the Muslim persecution of Hindus in India is nothing new. Over a period of 800 years, millions of Hindus were slaughtered by Muslims as infidels or converted by the sword. In 1946-1947, when British India was divided into India and Pakistan, Muslims massacred many thousands of Hindus in Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal, and all along the fault line which separated India and Pakistan. Anti-Hindu riots and massacres continued during the 1950s and 1960s, but it was in 1971, when East Pakistan broke away to form the country of Bangladesh, that things worsened for Hindus in the area.

As Ghosh explained to me, “The liberation movement for Bangladesh was characterized by an escalation of atrocities against the Hindus and pro-liberation Muslims. Hindus were specifically singled out because they were considered a hindrance to the Islamisation of East Pakistan. In March 1971, the government of Pakistan and its supporters in Bangladesh launched a violent operation, codenamed “Operation Searchlight,” to crush all pro-liberation activities. Bangladeshi government figures put the death toll at 300,000, though nearly 3 million Hindus were never accounted for and are presumed dead.” U.S. officials in both India and Washington used the word “genocide” to describe what took place.

According to Ghosh, there has recently been a sharp increase in incidents of “Muslim rioting during Hindu festivals, destruction of Temples, desecration of Deities, and large-scale, provocative cow slaughter.” Worse: “Hundreds, thousands, of Hindu girls have been kidnapped, trafficked into sexual slavery, or taken as second or third wives for wealthy Muslim men. In recent years, Ghosh’s organization has rescued nearly 100 such girls, and one of his main missions has been to help reintegrate those survivors into their families and societies.

Ghosh wants the Indian government to stop the illegal immigration from Bangladesh and to force the return of undocumented Muslims; to ban madrassas and polygamy; to enforce a single standard of law and education; and to arrest and prosecute known Muslim mafia kingpins and terrorists. He challenges the media to report on the anti-Hindu atrocities and to address the issue of religious apartheid.

Ghosh is not optimistic. “The establishment of massive Saudi-funded Madrasas across rural Bengal is only contributing to the growing religious extremism among Muslims, [and] implementation of Sharia laws by [Islamic] courts is quite prevalent in many villages.” His greatest fear, he tells me, is that one day shouts of “Allahu Akbar” will ring out across the land and that Muslim zealots will demand that Hindus either convert or leave West Bangal - or die.

Ghosh came to America not just to appeal to Indian-Americans with family and historical ties in West Bengal and Bangladesh but to appeal to all Americans for their support. As he sees it, the battle against Muslim persecution in India is just one front in a much larger battle against Islamic expansionism and terror throughout the world.

All Americans must realize, he told me, “that the war on Islamic terrorism cannot be won without curbing religious extremism amongst the Muslim masses, be it in the suburbs of Detroit or Delhi or villages in rural Bengal. And this will require the active support and cooperation with each other, ranging from cooperation at the highest level to those who work at the grassroots level. We hope that Americans and Westerners will come out and support the Hindus in Bengal in raising resources and creating awareness about our on-the-ground realities.”

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. is professor emerita of psychology and the author of thirteen books including "Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman" and "The New Anti-Semitism." She has written extensively about Islamic gender apartheid and about honor killings. She once lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. She may be reached through her website: www.phyllis-chesler.com.


26 August, 2010

Only Jain temple in Kashmir destroyed

The Times of India, 21st August, 2010

Two years ago, a family from Mumbai built a temple in the lap of snow-capped mountains miles away in Srinagar. The derasar (temple), carved out of teak, decked with marigolds and installed with three idols of Jain tirthankars, was set up for the thousands of Jains who streamed into the volatile region every holiday season.

But last Saturday, the only Jain temple in the Kashmir Valley was burnt down by a mob. ‘‘It is now ground zero. There is nothing left, nothing to go back to,’’ says Jyotin Doshi, chairman of Gem, a travel agency in south Mumbai whose family built the temple. A shaken-up Doshi recalls speaking to the priest, the lone caretaker of the temple, on the night the violence errupted. ‘‘There was curfew in the valley but he noticed people gathering outside the temple,’’ he says.

The priest, who is disturbed and has now returned to his village near Lucknow, quickly gathered the three idols, which were sculpted out of panchdhatu (an alloy of gold, silver, copper, iron and zinc), and hid them in a hotel room. ‘‘And exactly three hours later, the mob struck and destroyed whatever we had built,’’ says Doshi.

Two members of Doshi’s team from Mumbai, Apurva Bhansali and Jiten Dharod, flew to Srinagar the next day when the curfew was lifted. They packed the idols in cardboard boxes and flew to Sabarmati in Gujarat. ‘‘Before the two had reached, the news had spread in Sabarmati. When the idols were installed in Chintamani Parshwanath derasar there, there were more than 14,000 people who came for darshan,’’ he says.

The idols, that has been taken to safety, were built in Kalikund in Dholka, Gujarat. Doshi says that his family set up the temple to realize his 68-year-old mother’s dream.

20 August, 2010

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar blesses book on Hinduism

The Timeless Faith - Dialogues on Hinduism
by Deepam Chatterjee

"It is my hope that this book will clear the many misconceptions that currently exist about Hinduism and bring clarity to those millions who are confused about this most ancient path." - Poojya Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji

Written as a lucid dialogue between a seeker and a master, in the manner of teacher-student conversations of the Upanishads, The Timeless Faith gives the reader a profound understanding of Hindu thought using simple language.

Buy Online

18 June, 2010

Zakir Naik banned from entering UK

Reuters, 18th June, 2010

Britain on Friday banned from entering the country an Indian preacher who has expressed radical views about Islam, including some that appear to justify acts of terrorism.

Conservative Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May said she had barred Zakir Naik, a 44-year-old television preacher based in Mumbai, for inflammatory remarks he was known to have made in the past.

Naik had been due to give a series of lectures in London and the city of Sheffield in northern England.

"Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behavior," May said in a statement, without elaborating.

The Daily Telegraph on Friday reported Interior Ministry sources saying that 2006 website footage had shown Naik telling Muslims it was acceptable to embrace terrorism in certain instances.

According to the paper, Naik said Muslims should beware of people saying Osama bin Laden was right or wrong, adding: "If you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him.

"If he is terrorizing the terrorists, if he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist."

He is also reported by the paper to have suggested Western women make themselves "more susceptible to rape" by wearing revealing clothing.

"Western society has actually degraded (women) to the status of concubines, mistresses and social butterflies, who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers," the paper quoted him as saying.

May said: "Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter."

The minister made it clear she had not banned him simply because of his views, which is prohibited under the law.

A Home Office spokesman said the powers were used if an individual expressed views that "foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs" or "seek to provoke others to terrorist acts."

He declined to elaborate on the exact nature of his comments, or when they were made.


08 April, 2010

Spirituality transforms Naxalites

H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says "Maoists are good human beings with a lot of dedication and commitment for the country. If they could do a little bit of understanding of spirituality, they could do what others cannot."

06 April, 2010

Extract from Hindutva, Sex and Adventure


…. The next morning, Andrew took the fast train to Lucknow. As the boring Uttar Pradesh landscape unfolded in front of his unseeing eyes, he recalled a conversation he had had earlier with Imla about the Babri Masjid.

Ayodhya had been a pilgrimage site for Hindus as far as they can remember, he told her and Hindus are pretty sure that the mosque was built by Babur,

What proof do they have, she retorted?

Well, he went on, there seems to be an inscription on one of the walls that has recorded his name. It has been vouched by several reliable historians.

Hindutva historians, she mocked?

No my dear, British and German. Hindus are absolutely certain, he added, that the Masjid stands on an ancient Hindu temple, as the Archeological Survey of India had found many Hindu columns, broken idols and frescoes, when they had made some digging, before the Government stopped them.

She looked less than convinced…

So he added:

I have seen the order passed on 18th March 1886 by the Faizabad British District Judge, Col. F.E.A. Chamier, in which he wrote: "I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found that the Masjid built by Emperor Babar stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the west and south. It is clear of habitants. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to agree with the grievances."

Ok, ok, she conceded, but don’t you know that the Babri Mosque had been taken over in 1949 by Hindus and that they have refused to hand it back to the Muslims ? Why should they want more than that? The have the status quo…

But Andrew was unfazed:

I was also shown by a colleague another court ruling of March 3, 1951 by the then Civil Judge of Faizabad, which stated: “it further appears from a number of affidavits of certain Muslim residents of Ayodhya that at least from 1936 onwards the Muslims have neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there... Nothing has been pointed to discredit these affidavits. Of the 26 mosques in the region, only half of them were used for offering namaz in the early 1990s. It is also noted that there are about born - Rubbish, she said.

But, he shot back:

These are authentic court documents,

she shouted at him :

You saffron import from England; you let us deal with our own internal problems.

He checked in the hotel and booked a separate room for Imla, who was reaching later by air from Mumbai and went out to see for himself Ayodhya, which is a few kilometres from Faizabad. Andrew had felt that the whole matter was pretty simple, but as he entered Ayodhya, thinking of finding a mixed town, such as one generally sees in India, Hindu of course, but with its Muslim localities, their mosques, their women in burqa. he was surprised to find that, even more than Varanasi which he had visited recently, Ayodhya was a completely Hindu town, with scores of small temples scattered about everywhere, narrow streets and thousands of typically Hindu houses, whose teak pillars enclosed small central courtyards. Down below, he discovered a sacred river with its ghats; and then, high up on the hill, there were those two incongruous domes of this abandoned mosque.

He met Harsh Vyas, a local journalist, who confirmed that Ayodhya, like Varanasi, was one of the most sacred towns of the Hindus since five thousand years.

Our town is that of Ram, one of our most revered gods, he said.

Andrew of course knew that Ram, the hero of the Ramayana, represents the perfect virtues of Hinduism: courage, self sacrifice, righteousness, highest spirituality, humility…With his consort Sita, who also is venerated by millions of Hindus for having faithfully followed her husband in exile in the jungle. He also knew that millions of sadhus, wise men and simple folk tirelessly repeat his name all day long. When Gandhi was assassinated, his last words were: “Hey Ram”.

"When the Muslims invaded India between the seventh and the eighteenth centuries," Mani continued, they razed thousands upon thousand of temples to the ground. The temple at Ayodhya was one of them. But we Hindus never forget some shrines; they have been worshipped for too many generations so that collective memory cannot easily be erased.

He concluded:

Through the ages, the Hindus have silently passed the word on:

Remember Ayodhya.

He went back to the hotel in Faizabad, a little confused and thinking that journalists have always strong opinions, but that nothing is really black and white. Imla had already checked in her room and she was talking animatedly with other journalists:

Thousands members of the RSS have arrived from all over India to start the construction of the Ram temple, she told Andrew, without even greeting him. The RSS has given a commitment not to touch the mosque and to restrict construction to a religious ceremony symbolising the laying of the first bricks. But many of us think there is going to be trouble.

One of the other journalists added that an army of civilian and paramilitary police had been sent to Ayodhya and that the prime minister's security advisers had assured the Supreme Court that the mosque was safe. They had dinner with many of the other journalists and talked late of the night as more and more reports came that activists (karsevaks) of the VHP and other associated groups were also arriving in Ayodhya and that it could spell trouble tomorrow. At some point, Andrew went to sleep, laving Imla still talking politics with her fellow scribes and vehemently accusing the VHP and the RSS of ‘communalism’.

Next morning, which was December 6th 1992, he woke-up early, knocked on Imla’s door, who was still sleeping and shouted for her to come downstairs for breakfast. She sat at his table, ten minutes later, bleary-eyed

I slept at 3 she said, but nevertheless excited by what might lay in store for them. They quickly left for Ayodhya with their taxi, but at some point they had to abandon the car and walk on foot amongst a dense and excited crowd, which often looked at them with open hostility.

I am scared, said Imla, holding him by the elbow as a sadhu shouted some curse in a Hindi that Andrew could not understand.

As they came near the Babri Masjid, they saw firebrand Uma Bharati of the Bharatiya Janata Party, along with two top associates, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Achraya Dharmendra. Bharati shouting in a microphone two slogans to the crowds, 'Ram nam satya hai, Babri Masjid dhvasth hai,' (True is the name of Ram; the Babri Masjid has been demolished) and 'Ek dhakka aur do, Babri masjid tod do' (Give one more push, and break the Babri Masjid).

It was getting very tense and some activists were actually threatening journalists. Andrew and Imla thus took up a position on the roof of a building overlooking the mosque, a building with a telephone so that Andrew could report back to London. They were watching the elaborate Hindu ceremonies when they saw the barriers below collapse and young men wearing yellow headbands charge into the space where the ceremony was to be held. Television crews were their target. They attacked them with staves, knocked them down, and trampled on their equipment. This seemed to be the signal for a mass assault on the mosque. The police, who had strict instructions not to open fire, were swamped by wave after wave of slogan-shouting Hindus surging towards the mosque. In almost no time Andrew and Imla saw two young men scramble on top of a dome and start to break it down with hammers and crowbars. Soon they were followed by hundreds of frenzied kar-sevaks. In almost no time, half of the twin domes were gone.

Andrew and Imla rushed back to Faizabad to file their stories as the crowds had torn down the phone lines. It took a hell of a long time: most journalists had also come back to do the same and the telephone lines were constantly busy. When they returned to Ayodhya, they met groups of ecstatic Hindu militants chanting slogans in the narrow lanes. But as they got out of the car, they were surrounded by an angry crowd who recognized Andrew as a well-known British radio journalist. They locked them in one of the many temples. They probably thought Imla was not Indian, because she heard a huge argument as to whether they should kill them. Some people were arguing in favour of that. Then, others said

nai nai nai, mashhoor aadmi hai. It will be dangerous for us.

Andrew understood most of it and he became even whiter. He started talking to them in Hindi then, pleaded for the life of Imla and said he understood their frustration and anger. They were extremely surprised, debated within themselves in hushed tones, and after some time, reached a compromise : they were shoved into a temple room and put under house arrest. Later the kar sevaks decided to release them. When Andrew and Imla came out, they realized that the mosque had been totally razed to the ground.

They went back to their hotel, totally zapped and drained. Andrew got a line and did another long broadcast which he left to his London office to edit. He recounted all that happened, leaving out their imprisonment and while condemning the Hindu militants, commented that nobody had been killed and that the mosque had been disused for quite some time. Imla typed furiously on her laptop, concluding that this was:

The Blackest Day in India since her independence.

One thing for sure: whatever little sympathy she might have had for Hindu groups, through Andrew’s influence, had totally evaporated and henceforth this would become a subject of bitter dispute with him.

Today secularism has been killed in our country, she told Andrew, who kept quiet. They both went to have a shower….

(An extract from Hindutva, Sex and Adventure by John MacLithon)

21 March, 2010

Barkha Dutt & Zakir Naik

Dear Barkha,

We were shocked to see Zakir Naik sits in NDTV studios and says Osama Bin Laden & Taliban are not terrorists. And you all just sit there. Taliban has recently massacred two Sikhs in Pakistan, not even reacting to it is shocking. Millions of Hindus idolize Shahrukh Khan and we were shocked that you did not even say something. I am a secular Hindu but was shocked to see Shahrukh Khan say not even a single word. What happened to Khan? Karan Johar - not even one word uttered - it was disgusting!

09 March, 2010

Sri Sri on MF Husain

Above: Poojya Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji comments on the controversy surrounding MF Hussain

28 February, 2010

Non-Muslims targeted in 26/11

Above: Testimony of the Turkish couple who were spared by the Muslim Terrorists during 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Complete Documentry Dispatches - Terror in Mumbai

22 February, 2010

Jamia Millia Islamia holds conference with Vice President of India & Fake Shankaracharya

Above: Vice President Hamid Ansari, Maulana Arshad Madani & (Fake Shankaracharya) Jagatguru Shankaracharya Onkaranand Saraswati

Above: Jamia Millia Islamia holds conference with Vice President Hamid Ansari & (Fake Shankaracharya) Jagatguru Shankaracharya Onkaranand Saraswati

The Conference was organized by Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor of Milli Gazette

Sikhs asked to pay Jizya to live in Pakistan

Above: Sikhs asked to pay Jizya to live in Pakistan

09 February, 2010

Wanton killings wrong

Hindustan Times, 9th February, 2010

WHAT WAR? Founding fathers of Naxal movement denounce today's Maoists, say 'revolt' will fail

Three living legends of the Naxalite movement from the sixties and early seventies have denounced the ideology, tactics and the cult of violence practiced by today's Maoists.

"We do not know who these Maoists are," a visibly disenchanted Kanu Sanyal (81) told HT, in his thatched hut in Hathigada village, 450 km north of Kolkata. "They are indulging in wanton killings of innocent villagers. Communism does not approve of this."

"They will not win. They will not be able to achieve their goal," said Santosh Rana (66).

Sanyal, Rana and Asim Chatterjee (67) were household names during the birth and first flush of the Naxalite movement (1967-72) when they let loose a wave of wanton killings that killed thousands in West Bengal.

Now, all three have abandoned the ideology of violence that they gave birth to.

HT spent three months chasing these former rebels to learn their views on the current Naxalite movement.

Sanyal, one of the founding fathers, along with Charu Majumdar, of the Naxalite movement, had spent three months in the 1960s with Mao Tse Tung, whose ideology he followed.

"It's the Congress, CPI and CPM line to engage in personal assassinations," said the reclusive Naxal veteran, whose movements are impaired following a recent paralytic stroke.

The CPI (Maoist) rebellion in Lalgarh, about 160 km south west of Kolkata, which Sanyal has been tracking, has claimed over 300 lives since June 2008.

A son of Lalgarh's soil, Rana led the failed peasant uprising in Gopiballabhpur in West Midnapore, around 160 km south west of Kolkata, in 1969.

He felt Maoists have damaged the Lalgarh peasant uprising. "Initially, the uprising was so strong that the government was forced to withdraw forces," he said. "The formation of Maoist hit squads, their occupation of villages and declaration of free zones have invited state repression."

Rana, who now believes in democracy, criticised Maoists for not allowing people the right to differ with them.

The youngest central committee member of the unified CPI (ML), the original Naxalite party formed by Majumdar, Chatterjee differs with his modern day ideological successors.

"Their struggle is based on underdevelopment, not economic exploitation, as was the case during Naxalbari revolt," said the man who turned Kolkata's Presidency College into a Naxalite hub in the early '70s. "The Maoists are targeting the state machinery; this is not the way to develop a people's war.

"Political struggles cannot be launched with guns. The way Maoists are killing poor people in the name of fighting CPM is suicidal," he said.

27 January, 2010

8 crore people seek ban on cow slaughter

The Times of India, 31st January, 2010

A delegation of religious & spiritual leaders from all faiths on Sunday presented a memorandum - signed by over eight crore people - to President Pratibha Patil, demanding complete ban on Cow slaughter in India and creation of a separate Ministry for protection and promotion of Indian cow breeds.

Matter of urgency to save the Cow - Sri Sri

Above: Its a matter of urgency to save the Indian Cow say Poojya Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji & other prominent Saints

16 January, 2010

Kumbh: What it means to take a holy dip

Raman Nanda, Global Post

The Kumbh festival along the sacred Ganges river means something different to each of the millions of pilgrims who attend.

Sixty million pilgrims can’t be wrong. But even so, I questioned the point of dousing myself with holy water from the Ganges that looked muddy and uninviting.

It was 2001, and I was living at the Mahakumbh grounds in the north Indian town of Prayag as part of the U.K.-based Channel 4 television team covering the year’s kumbh festival, which is an ancient Hindu gathering featuring holy bathing, prayer and devotional music along the banks of sacred rivers.

The Kumbh festival, which begins again this week, is held every third year. It rotates among four cities: Prayag (near modern day Allahabad), Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. This week, an estimated 30 million pilgrims - or three times the population of Los Angeles - will gather in Haridwar, for a “small” three-month kumbh. The duration of the festival, which has been called the largest gathering of humanity in the world, is dictated by planetary alignment and varies from one kumbh to the other.

The full or Purna Kumbh, which occurs every 12 years in Prayag at the confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers, attracted 60 million the last time it was held in 2001.

Then, a tent city stretched for miles. The food was strictly vegetarian. Alcohol was taboo. Marijuana, though not legal, wasn’t exactly frowned upon. You could smoke a joint with the myriad holy men scattered about. The whole affair had the relaxed ambience of a village festival attended by the poor of India.

Peering over the river’s edge, the water looked dirty. I could imagine it was freezing, though each and every pilgrim who emerged from the opaque waters had a glow of happiness and contentment. One is told that the Ganges, originating in the Himalayas and flowing all the way to the Bay of Bengal beyond Calcutta, is a sacred river.

Back at the Prayag campsite, I asked a priest about the ritual associated with this so-called holy dip.

I was told to stand in the river. Collect some water with joined palms and throw it back over my head as an offering to my ancestors, he said. The priest told me to think about my loved ones as I dunked my head beneath the water. It all seemed simple enough.

On one particularly auspicious January morning, I decided to join the stream of humanity headed for the river. Wedged between bodies on all sides, I was carried like a leaf atop the current to the river where I managed to find standing space in the ice-cold water.

I made the symbolic offering of Ganges water to my ancestors. I cupped water in my hands and threw it back over my head. Then, I dunked myself in the river wondering if my soul would be cleansed of sins.

I thought about my mother who had died many years ago. I had accompanied my father to Haridwar soon after her death to immerse her ashes in the Ganges. Warmth surged in my heart as I recalled my mother’s smiling face.

I took another dip, this time for my grandfather. I recalled how as a child I used to snuggle in his bed to hear his enthralling stories based in ancient Hindu scriptures that he blended with the rural landscape of the Punjab, which is now in Pakistan and is where he migrated from. His ashes too had been immersed in this river about 40 years ago. The water no longer felt cold or dirty.

More dips, and my thoughts turned to friends and loved ones: my father, children and wife. I thought about my very first crush. One day, my father will die and I’ll bring his ashes to this river, I thought. As my son will one day bring my ashes here. My teenage son too, it struck me, will die one day; his children will bring his ashes.

Every time I raised my head above water, I noticed hundreds of thousands taking dips. I felt like a speck in the story of the Earth. I wondered if everyone around me was thinking the same thing? I felt small, but not vulnerable. I was comfortable with thoughts of death. My body felt light.

The experience of being a part of a mass of humanity is surely a subjective one. Mark Twain, after attending the kumbh in 1895, said: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination.”


14 January, 2010

Over 1,00,000 sing Vande Mataram together

Above: Inspired by H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, 2750 Hindustani Classical vocalists & over 1,00,000 strong audience sing India's National Song 'Vande Mataram'

07 January, 2010

Global Warming & Vegetarian Food

Global warming has reached alarmingly dangerous proportions and governments all over the world now are taking measures to contain it. It is our collective responsibility to join in these efforts in all our capacities to save our precious planet.

A 2006 United Nations report summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry by calling it "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."(1) Everybody today is aware that the environmental cost for producing a meat-based diet is monumentally higher than a vegetarian one.(2,3) These costs have escalated to enormous proportions and now pose as very disturbing details.(4,5,6)

Additionally, more and more people are increasingly becoming aware of the unhygienic and cruel practises involved in producing meat. Apart from the horrible treatment given to animals reared for meat, they are also injected with harmful chemicals and hormones to add bulk to their bodies(7), which show strong signs of being poisonous for human consumption(8,9). Consequently, health agencies are also recommending people to reduce meat consumption(10).

It has been established that if a small fraction of the population brings down the meat consumption, by even a little bit, it will do wonders for the environment. Leading researchers all over the world have started recommending a vegetarian diet.(11,12)


(1) Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Options is a United Nations report, released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on 29 November 2006 that "aims to assess the full impact of the livestock sector on environmental problems, along with potential technical and policy approaches to mitigation".

(2) New Scientist, 18 July 2007 by Daniele Fanelli. Magazine Issue 2613. The article summarises the conclusions of a study by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and colleagues. Their analysis showed that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide. It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy. In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

(3) Water Inputs in California Food Production by Marcia Kreith Davis, CA, September 27, 1991.

(4) Livestock and Climate Change by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, November 2009. According to earlier estimates, 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions were attributed to livestock. But in this report, analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

(5) Deforestation in the Amazon by Rhett A. Butler, www.mongabay.com. Between May 2000 and August 2006, Brazil has lost nearly 150,000 square kilometers of forest - an area larger than Greece - of which 80% is used to raise livestock.

(6) Livestock’s Long Shadow, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006 In all, livestock production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of the land surface of the planet.

(7) "Meet your meat" is a film, available at www.meat.org that, graphically, documents the inhumane and unhygienic treatment that animals are put through before being slaughtered.

(8) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that 70 percent of food poisoning is caused by contaminated animal flesh. Amy Ellis Nutt, “In the Soil, Water, Food, Air,” The [Newark] Star-Ledger, 8 Dec. 2003.

(9) USDA researchers have found that “eating 2 ounces of chicken per day - the equivalent of a third to a half of a boneless breast - exposes a consumer to 3 to 5 micrograms of inorganic arsenic, the element’s most toxic form.” Dennis O’Brien, “Arsenic Used in Chicken Feed May Pose Threat,” The Baltimore Sun, 4 May 2004.

(10) Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, also known as the Expert Report, was an expert report published by the World Cancer Research Fund global network in 2007. The report recommends avoiding processed meat for reducing cancer risk.

(11) Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, predicts that eating meat could in the future become as socially unacceptable as drink driving. The Telegraph, 27 Oct 2009.

(12) Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which earned a joint share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, said people should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change. The Observer, 7 Sep 2008


06 January, 2010

Youths rally in Kashmir for return of Pandits

Naseer Ganai, India Today

For the first time since insurgency began in Jammu and Kashmir, a rally was held on Saturday demanding the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.

Kashmiri youth having no political background assembled at Pratab Park in Srinagar Lal Chowk, carrying placards that called for the return of the Pandits.

"There is a widespread sentiment among Kashmiri Muslims that Pandits should return. We have decided to give voice to the popular sentiment," said Jehangir Raina, a software engineer.

He said the campaign didn't have links with any political group. "Pain is pain, whether it is of Muslims, Jews or Hindus. We want to show solidarity with the Pandits who have suffered for years," Raina said.

The youths have named their organisation Restructuring Economic Assets and Social Obligations of the Nation, or REASON. The REASON, Raina said, was an advocacy group of young professionals and would take up various causes in public interest.

The group said a 30 minute sit-in would be organised on the first Saturday of each month to show solidarity with the Pandits. The group, however, opposed the demand of a separate homeland for the Pandits.

The state government, too, seems to be gearing up to facilitate the return of the Pandits. On Wednesday, chief minister Omar Abdullah approved the creation of 3,000 posts for unemployed migrants.