A Hindu Textbook Controversy in USA

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The basic complaint by Hindus, including the American Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) is that previous textbooks have given an inaccurate and disparaging portrayal of their religion. While there are many individual complaints the big three are: the emphasis on the caste system, making the Indo-Aryan Migration Theory seem undisputed, and changing ancient India to Southwest Asia.

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Chardham Yatra

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The Chardham Yatra can be easily called as one of the most popular pilgrimage circuits of India. Every year, around the same time, the routes to the Chardham, the four most sacred places of the Indian Himalayas, are opened for the pilgrims to trek to. 

The Char Dham (“four abodes”) are four places which the Hindus believed will help them achieve Moksha. Char Dham are the names of four pilgrimage sites in India that are widely revered by Hindus. It comprises BadrinathDwarkaPuri and Rameswaram. It is considered highly sacred by Hindus and one must have a visit to ‘char dham during one’s lifetime. The Char Dham defined by Adi Shankaracharya consists of four Vaishnavite pilgrimages.[1]

The ancient pilgrimages sites in the Indian state of Uttarakhand   viz.  Yamunotri,  GangotriKedarnath, and Badrinath were known as Chota Char Dham to differentiate them from the bigger circuit of Char Dham sites. Chota Chardhams shrines get closed for winters due to heavy snowfall and reopen for pilgrims in advent of summer.[2][3][4][5]

According to Hindu Dharma, Badrinath became prominent when Nar-Narayan, an avatar of Vishnu, did Tapasya there. At that time that place was filled with berry trees. In Sanskrit language berries are called “badri”, so the place was named Badrika-Van, i.e. the forest of berries. The particular spot where the Nar-Narayan did Tapasya, a large berry tree formed covering Him to save Him from the rain and the sun. Local people believe that Mata Lakshmi became the berry tree to save Lord Narayan. Post-Tapasya, Narayan said, people will always take Her Name before His Name, hence Hindus always refer “Lakshmi-Narayan “. It was therefore called Badri-Nath i.e. the Lord of Berry forest. This all happened in the Sathya/Sath-Yuga. So Badrinath came to be known as the first Dham.

The second place, Rameswaram got its importance in the Tretha-Yuga when Lord Rama built a Shiva-Lingam here and worshiped it to get the blessings of Lord Shiva. The Name Rameswaram means “Rama’s Lord”.

The third Dhaam Dwarka got its importance in the Dwapara Yuga when Lord Krishna made Dwarka His residence instead of Mathura, His birthplace.[7]

The Four Shankaracharya Peeth (Seats) at the Chaar Dham school of Hinduism, created at least four Hindu monastic institutions. He organised the Hindu practitioners under four Maṭhas (Sanskrit: मठ) (institutions/monasteries), with the headquarters at Dvārakā in the West, Jagannatha Puri in the East, Sringeri Sharada Peetham in the South and Badrikashrama in the North.[8]

In the Puranas, Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiv) are referred as eternal friends. It is said wherever Lord Vishnu resides, Lord Shiva resides nearby. The Chaar Dhaams follow this rule. So Kedarnath is considered as the pair of Badrinath, Rangnath Swami is considered the pair of Rameswaram. Somnath is considered as the pair of Dwarka. However one thing is also to be noted here that according to some traditions the Char Dham are Badrinath, Rangnath-Swami, Dwarka and Jagannath-Puri all the four of which are Vaishnav sites and their associated places are KedarnathRameswaramSomnath and Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneswar (or maybe Gupteshwar) respectively.

 

Researchers Find 6000 Years old Rama and Hanuman carvings in Silemania, Iraq

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One of the major triumphs of modern archaeology was the hair-raising discoveries of Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur. Amidst the ruins of Ur, he unearthed a Ram-chapel but totally missed its relevance in world history. This crucial finding not only bridges the wide gaps between Indian tradition and archaeology but also unfolds the historic bonds that once united ancient India, Iran and Sumer.

Ram-Sin of (Larsa) to whose memory this chapel was dedicated must have been Rama of Valmiki. The name Ararama of Larsa may be an echo of Rama. This Ram-Chapel of Ur is the earliest known memorial to the great Rama and may have been erected by Dilmun merchants who resided nearby. Dilmun was always mentioned in the Sumerian texts together with Magan and Melukkha and it is possible that these three states were somehow allied to each other.

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Fasting Can Improve the Regenerating Ability of Intestinal Cells

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Fasting is an integral part of Hinduism spiritual as well as many Yoga practices. Various types of fasts for periods varying from a few hours to several days are prescribed. Now US biologists  have found that a 24-hour fast can reverse the age-related loss of intestinal stem cell function that can regenerate new intestinal cells. An earlier scientific study had shown that a 72 hour fast helps in replenishing infection fighting cells in our body.

130715-M-EV637-081 (9294499637).jpg
By Aaron Hostutler – 130715-M-EV637-081, Public Domain, Link

So, lets not go slow on a fast, it has benefits in this world and in the next too.

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Negative stereotypes about Hindus

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In any country or region, media plays a powerful role in influencing people’s beliefs and world views on a topic. If someone controls the message in the media, they have a disproportionate level of influence on what is generally believed as truth.

Unfortunately, the broadcast media in the US has been unintentionally or carelessly used to paint a bleak, negative portrayal of Hindus and their religion. I will get to the specifics in a bit, but first let me share some background information to set the context.

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Art telling Ramayana, Hindu story, at Carlos Museum

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An exhibit of art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University is highlighting events told in the Ramayana, a sacred text of Hinduism.

The exhibit opened in January, and Coweta residents have been among the visitors viewing the paintings filled with bright colors and elaborate detail. The paintings date from the 17th-19th centuries.

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Study: Meditation Improves Anxiety and Cardiovascular Health

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ONE HOUR OF MEDITATION can ease anxiety and improve cardiovascular health, a study from Michigan Technological University found. 

After meditating for 60 minutes, researchers observed the participants had lowered heart rates and a reduction in aortic pulsatile load. Additionally, participants reported their anxiety levels were still lower a week later.

 
 
 

The most sacred Hindu places of worship in Bali

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Pura Lempuyang Luhur is one of the oldest and the most revered temple in BaliIndonesia. The temple is actually a collection of several temples along the hiking path to the summit. The main temple also the highest, the Pura Lempuyang Luhur, lies at 1,175m above sea level, up on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang.[1]

The temple is located on Mount Lempuyang or Gamongan Hill, Bunutan village, Abang subdistrict, Karangasem, east Bali, around 10 kilometres north from Amlapura, the capital of Karangasem. The temple complex is dedicated to Ida Betara Hyang Iswara, the guardian of the east.[2] It is one of Sad Kahyangan Jagad or the “six sanctuaries of the world” which are the six holiest places of worship on Bali.

The most popular temple among visitors is the Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang. With its towering white candi bentar split gate, three dragon stairs and three kori agung gates, this compound has a spectacular view to the west overlooking Mount Agung, the highest volcano in Bali.

The temple consists of several temples along the hiking path to the summit of Mount Lempuyang or also known as Gamongan Hill in eastern Bali. The temples along the hiking track among others areː

  • Pura Puncak Bisbis
  • Pura Pasar Agung
  • Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur, the highest temple, is the crown jewel of the complex (and also its namesake). It sits atop the mountain’s peak, which is believed to be its most sacred spot. Those who make it to the top are rewarded with a peaceful sanctuary and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

 

The establishment of places of worship around Mount Lempuyang is believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island of Bali.[1] The puras of Mount Lempuyang, represented by Pura Lempuyang Luhur, the highest temple in the area, is grouped one complex of pura which represents the Pura Sad Kahyangan Luhur Lempuyang. The temple groups are considered as part of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, or the “six sanctuaries of the world”, the six holiest places of worship on Bali. According to Balinese beliefs, they are the pivotal points of the island and are meant to provide spiritual balance to Bali.[2] The temple groups of Mount Lempuyang is also one of the group of temples in Bali known as Pura Kahyangan Padma Bhuwana. Each of the temple in the Pura Kahyangan Padma Bhuwana marked each of the eight cardinal directions. Pura Lempuyang Luhur represents the direction of east (purwa) and the color white. This direction is associated with the domain of Balinese the god Iswara.[3]

Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang was restored in 2001.

The piodalan or puja wali festival (pura’s anniversary) of Pura Penataran Agung is held once every 6 months every Waraspati (Thursday) or one day after the Galungan festival.[7]

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Shashi Tharoor – Why I am a Hindu

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Dr Shashi Tharoor’s latest book was apparently meant to take on the Hindutva narrative, and demolish it. Sadly, it seems it will be one of those books celebrated at literary festivals, obsessed over in high society conversations as validation of pre-conceived notions, create a placebo of having captured the narrative, but then, in all probability, end up handing the elections to the BJP. 

Yezidis and Bangladeshi Hindus: A modern day Exodus story

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By: Rachel Avraham, Israel National News.

In the spirit of this time of year, we should recall the plight of the Yezidi and Bangladeshi Hindu people, who are experiencing a modern day form of slavery and flight as we speak.

Bangladesh has now been independent for 48 years but during this period of time, Shipan Kumer Basu, the President of the World Hindu Struggle, reported that only the Muslims obtained their freedom: “The 25 million minorities in the country are freedom fighters due to their perseverance in the face of adversity.  During the War of Bangladeshi Independence, the minorities suffered unspeakable atrocities.   In 1971, Hindus were massacred and raped by the Pakistanis and their Muslim Bengali allies.  100 million Hindus fled to India in order to save their lives.”

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(Record your comments on Israel National News website to denounce)