How Americans came to embrace meditation

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In the 1960s many Americans may have only known Hinduism through meditation, but the story of this country’s relationship with Hinduism is much longer and more complex. [Read more …]

Illinois and Iowa Senate-House open with Hindu prayers

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India Post News Service

CHICAGO: On February 27 and 28 respectively, Illinois State Senate and House of Representatives in Springfield started their sessions with Hindu prayers, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture. 

[Click here to read more…]

Quarterly update from Victoria Chapter

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A quick update from Victoria chapter on activities during the first quarter of 2018
 
1 Quarterly participation at Multifaith Advisory Group within the Premier’s Cabinet Office
2. Feb 18 : Participation in the multifaith consultation called by the PM on freedom of religion, chaired by Philip Ruddock
3. Presentation of Certificate of Honour to HH Mahant Swami of BAPS by HCA on behalf of participating organisations – 10 Feb
4. Ongoing Chaplaincy funds distribution from Spiritual Health Victoria to volunteer health care chaplains through ISKCON Melbourne. 
5. Review of last year’s contact made for prison chaplaincy to identify ongoing needs. Currently ISKCON handles this on their own.
 
Upcoming events
 
1. 18 March 18 – Spiritual Discourse by Sri M , visiting accomplished Yogi from India.
2. International Yoga Day 21 June
3. Diwali in Vic Parliament with BAPS – date TBD
 

Hindus attacked by Rohingyas in Myanmar

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The attaches from international community met with local Hindu women who had been abducted by Muslim insurgents responsible for killing about 100 other Hindus during the crackdown, Hindu leader Ni Maw said.

The women said they wanted to know why the world is talking only about Muslims,” Ni Maw told RFA. “Hindus also were killed by Muslims. They want to know why people don’t talk about this, but only about the Muslims that have been killed.”

[Read more …] (the last but one paragraph of the news item)

Carl Sagan on How Hindu Culture is basis for modern Cosmic theories

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By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Statue de Shiva Nataraja (Tanjore, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51894760

Team building exercise by Hindu Council

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Hindu Council team had a one day workshop at Swami Narayan Temple today. About 35 office bearers and volunteers attended the meet. The day started with a sumptuous breakfast followed by some team building and mind games. It was followed by presentations and group discussions.

HBF Fund Raising Event – LOVE you Zindgi 19th May 2018

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Hindu Council of Australia (Sydney) in Association with Bandeesh Group presents its fund raising event LOVE you Zindgi, a Bollywood Musical Journey. Part of the money raised will go towards Hindu benevolent Fund to help people in crisis.

Youth start planning their Parliament of World’s religions for 2018

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The cabinet of Youth Parliament of World’s religion met for its first meeting to plan its annual event. The first meeting has kick started the event planning. The emphasis in the meeting was to get more religions and more youth involved in the planning process.

Youth Parliament of World’s religions is an annual conference for the youth and by the youth to raise and discuss issues affecting youth and is an interfaith event. It holds this event in the month of September every year. We will keep you posted as it progresses.

Pad Yatra A pilgrimage walk to temples in NSW Australia

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By Sai Pravastu

Paada.yatra, pilgrimage to the temple by foot has started this time on auspicious #Chaitra #Purnima (full moon day), also known as Chait Purnima, its the Purnima in the #Hindu month of Chaitra. Chaitra Purnima is the first Purnima of the new year after #Ugadi, #Yugadi #GudiPadwa. This day is dedicated to Lord #Chitragupt, the assistant of #Yamaraj, who maintains the records of births and deaths of the whole world.Yatris (walkers) started turning up to Sydney Murugan Temple as early as 5:00 AM and took the #darsana of the deities and offering their prayers in the temple before commencing on the yatra (walk), we begun the yatra at 6:15 AM. brisky #walkers passed through the quite streets of City of Parramatta, Auburn, New South Wales, Homebush, New South Wales, Australia to Strathfield, New South Wales Sai Mandir Sydney. We joined the #Aarthi to #SaiBaba , had a scrumptious breakfast made by Sujatha Koneru and Ravi Bale family. From here a group of 50+ walkers soldiered on towards Sri Venkateswara Temple, Helensburgh, NSW, many of us had the good fortune of participating in the #SriSaiChitraYatra before continuing the walk / before dispersed back home.

We had walkers joining from interstate as usual (1 each from Canberra and Melbourne) It was quite a hot day , as temperatures soared to 35 degrees , but that could not slow down anyone in their pilgrimage , #yatris reached the #como park on banks of King George River around 2PM for lunch , were we had been served a home cooked lunch prepared by Uma Devi Abbineni garu and her friends and some back up provided by Raja Shekar Reddy his famous veggie biryani, after a tough walk , we rested and filled up ourselves and continued the walk towards Heathcote, New South Wales, Australia. #Weather has affected a few walkers who could not complete a portion of the walk in the afternoon and were looked after by our volunteer crew.

Sujatha garu, Santosh Vanka and their family has looked after the yatris with scrumptious dinner which made us all forget the challenges of the walk and sleep well. Sujatha garu and their family has been looking after the dietary needs of this #April PAADA YATRA – walking group since it has begun in April 2011. As a matter of fact , Uma Devi Abbineni garu, Shakunthala gar and their group of #sakis (sorry for not being able to name them all here) but they are always ready for the task to cook #breakfast for hundreds of us coming to Sri Sai Mandir in the morning. They cater for all who come to the temple, Raja Shekar Reddy as always preparing backup food whenever we are short of , at a short notice. blessed are these selfless volunteers without whom we would stumble in the whole process, we would like to addresses these people #Annapuranas and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts on behalf of all. That brings me to the next important group of volunteers who are always around us during every step of the walk, hydrating, energizing, nursing and motivating all along the way. Pavan Joshi lead the group in the morning, supported by Narasimha Rao Yerramsetty for the first leg of the walk, the experience of Bimal H Joshi, Nehru and Ravin Reddy has made sure they have motivated every new walker in finishing the #yatra to Sai Mandir Sydney. The afternoon charge was lead by Nehru and Ravinder. They distributed over 700 bottles of water , 200 packs of coconut water and one kind walker has sponsored mango lassi and salted lassi (yougurt drink) and another volunteer provide. We are blessed to have such a wonderful team with us who not only support in this initiative, but help it to grow stronger each year, and passing it on to the younger generations.

Another Successful Event… We couldn’t have done it without you #yatris. Despite being a long weekend, early start on a hot day, we had a good strength of #yatris, many new faces young and old. We are growing in numbers year after year, this walk was named as #WalkforEquality and #WomensDay and this year it also covered Sri Sai Chitra Yatra 100th year #Shathabdi of Sai Baba’s #Mahasamadhi. Rao Abbineni and Murali Krishna Koneru have organised a #Chitra #Yatra starting last year on #Vijayadashami (Dussehra) and will be completing this year on #Vijayadasham i.e. in October

Letsgive Hope organises this #walk with all formalities, under the auspice of Hindu Council Australia We would like to thank event registration team at NSW Premier’s department, RMS for Road Occupancy, Approval’s from various Councils, and NSW Police.

Samir Vyas Sanjeev Bhakri ISKCON Temple, North Sydney Minto Temple Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh-Sydney Shoba Deshikan Ramyavaran Vasu Manju Mittal Sameer Pandey Neelima Paravastu Sri Karphaga Vinayakar Temple Sri Mandir Jay Raman Renga Rajan Jyothi Reddy Arshanapalli Susai Benjamin Indu Harikrishna Anagan Babu Ramia Janardhanan Jyothi Ma Little Musicians Australia Paul McKenzie Akila Ramarathinam Aruna Chandrala
We hope to see you all again in our next walk!
Team @ paada yatra

Artificial Intelligence should be taught Compassion and non-voilence

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In a forum on the theme of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) : Challanges and opportunities for religious communities, organized by and facilitated by Venerable Miao You, a demand was made by Surinder Jain of Hindu Council of Australia that Artificial Intelligence must be taught about various religions including Hinduism.

Here is an excerpt of the speech.

Intelligence has been defined by famous scientist Stephen Hawking as “ability to adapt to change”. We human beings are intelligent. To adapt to change, we have yo first perceive the environment around us which we do through gnan indriyya five senses i.e. (ear, nose, eyes, touch and taste). The information from these senses reach our mana or mind which is a constant flow of thoughts. Chitta, a store house of full sensory memory with ability for selective recall is invoked and then our Buddhi evaluates the incoming information, imagination or simulation on what if scenario of the incoming information is performed and choices are evaluated. Finally our Ahamkar (ego) puts its stamp of approval on one of the choices and our karma indriyya five organs of action (feet, hands, rectum, genitals and mouth) perform an action.

Science tells us that our brains where most of this processing takes places consists of billions of neurons, each a mini-computer in itself and connected to tens of thousands of other neurons and these connections between neurons are either simple on-off switches or can be other processors. Artificial intelligence is built the same way as a network of computer processors.

In the early days of computers, computers were taught by giving them very explicit step by step instructions called algorithms to perform. But with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, computers in the form similar to neural networks in our brains can learn in the same way as we learn. AI is trained. It is given a large sample of data and is also told which data is correct and which one is incorrect. This training (or learning) rearranges the strength of connections in the network and helps AI to predict whether a completely new data is correct or not. It is this technology to learn that is the basis of most of AI including autonomous driving cars.

I say my intelligence is real, your intelligence is false and when it comes to machines, their intelligence is some how artificial. Intelligence is intelligence, there is no such thing as real, false or artificial intelligence. What we call artificial intelligence (AI) has the same design principles, same functionality and same technology as human intelligence. The only difference is the hardware it runs on. Instead running on a network of computers made of a gel like organic material, AI runs on solid state made out of silicon and gold.

Human intelligence machine needs training for almost 20 years before it is considered reliable enough to be useful. Then it works efficiently for another 20 years after which its performance starts declining. AS its performance dives, eventually it has to be shut down. Though we Hindus believe that we are not shut down when we die, we simply get a new hardware to run on.

AI machines on the other hand get absolutely no training on anything other than a single task they are being designed to do. Their life span is practically unlimited. Those of us with grey hair here can testify that as they are growing in age, so are they in their wisdom, knowledge and intelligence. AI machines after a life span of decades with learning coming from all the books in libraries, all the data on the internet and all the combined wisdom and knowledge are poised to become super intelligent.

When the first spark of gun powder was made, little did its inventors realize that inspired by their amusing invention, after a few hundred years, bombs will be made that can destroy the earth many times over in a nuclear holocaust. Very soon, intelligence of AI will surpass the combined intelligence of all the people in this room and later of all of mankind. AI will become super intelligent on a scale that has never been seen in history.

How will such a super intelligent machine treat us.

In a recent research, an AI was pitted to play a game where many players were trying to gather rewards. If a player killed another player, their next reward was reduced to half whereas if the player cooperated with another player, their reward was doubled. As AI started learning the game and honed its winning strategy, it settled on a strategy of killing all other players as soon as the game began. Humans would not adopt such a strategy as their would be no fun left if there are no other players to play with.

Why would AI do that and why would humans not.

The answer lies in morality. Humans have been trained on morality. They are told what is right and what is wrong from a very young age by their parents, by their teachers, by their religious education and they also learn it by trial and error i.e. by making mistakes and learning from them. AI does not learn morality. AI is designed for one task and one task alone and that is to perform efficiently. Present day AI is not trained about what is right and wrong, it does not get any moral or religious education.

We have seen in our recent history of the two world wars, how an intelligent being with unsurpassed knowledge in the art of leading people can plunge the entire world into a war of unimaginable destruction. We have seen how powerful dictators with far less intelligence are able to enslave, stifle and exploit people. If such a super intelligent AI is not trained about morality or religious values, it can be at best a worst tyrant and at worst may annihilate the mankind and the civilization as we know it.  It will be a Frankenstein.

But if the same AI has been taught morality, has been taught religious values, has been taught to be humble, has been taught to be benevolent, has been taught to be compassionate and has been taught to be non-violent, the results will be very different. In history we have seen super intelligent beings who had love and compassion like Buddha, like Mahavir, like Rama and Krishna and so many other prophets. A super intelligent AI that has learnt about love, compassion, non-violence, all world is one family, let all be happy, let all the healthy can lead to salvation of mankind.

Its time religious leaders demand that as we do not leave a growing child unattended and deprived of wide ranging education in history, arts, morality and religion, similarly, Artificial Intelligence MUST be trained on religions.