Hindu Council activities report for 2018

Annual General Meeting of Hindu Council was held in Blacktown on 15th December 2018 and was attended by about 40 members. A report of activities for the year 2018 was presented and can be downloaded below :

Download the report (15MB)

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Invitation to conduct further research about ANZAC Jawans

By : Prakash Mehta.

Hindu Council of Australia has erected a cenotaph dedicated to all servicemen of Indian origin who have enrolled or served the Australian forces in World Wars. It was inaugurated with the joint efforts and support of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Hornsby Shire Council, Hornsby RSL, Hindu Council of Australia, local  Indian community and local MP Julian Leeser.

Cadets guarding the memorial at Cherry Brook Park, NSW

The memorial in NSW is a first of its kind in the state that recognises the contributions and connections of people of Indian origin. It is about the contributions made by the servicemen of Indian origin in Australia, by enlisting at the time of need. The plaque commemorates the service and sacrifice made by Australian Soldiers and Military Personnel of Indian heritage who served in the Australian Imperial Force in World War I.

It also remembers and recognises up to 15,000 Indian Soldiers who fought with allied troops at Gallipoli where almost 1,400 Indians Soldiers died at Gallipoli and up to 3,500 were wounded. It also remembers and recognises the Indian Soldiers who have participated alongside the Australian Soldiers in various Military Campaigns and Peace Missions. ”

The first effort to find out about such service men came to Hindu Council’s attention by an article written by journalist Manpreet K Singh and published by SBS dated 9 June 2017.

https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/punjabi/en/article/2017/06/09/12-indian-anzacs-who-enlisted-australian-imperial-force-during-wwi

These names were further confirmed with research center of Australian War Memorial Canberra service records about the accuracy and authenticity.

The President of Hindu Council has called upon people to come forward and do further research and said that

We hope this Cenotaph also encourages more research and publications to connect larger Australian Indian community with Anzac history.

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Bioethics – a Hindu Perspective

By : Dr Raj Maheshwari.

(The following is an abstract of the talk delivered by the author at the conference on “Core Ethical Teachings” at NSW Parliament House on 4 March 2011).

Dr Raj Maheshwari
Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist at St John of God Health Care
Sydney, Australia

Bioethics addresses specific ethical issues relating to science and medicine. With the advancement in technology, we are constantly faced with new scientific scenarios where ethical decisions need to be made. The principals of ethical decision making in Hinduism is informed by some of the ancient texts, namely Vedas, Upanishads, and two main epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Core Philosophy

Cycle of rebirth is one of the core concepts in Hinduism, based on the belief that the body is just a carrier for the soul, which passes on through the repeated cycles of birth-life-death-rebirth until the soul has been purified and can ultimately join the divine cosmic consciousness, also called as Moksha.

Hindu View of Life and Suffering

Contrary to the western view of health, Hinduism doesn’t view health as mere absence of disability; instead it is assessed as a product of sound mind and body, which off course is one of the goals of a Dharmic life. Likewise illness is accepted as part of ordinary life experience, which is instigated as a consequence of a bad past karma or a test from god to assess your commitment to a dharmic life.

Hindu views death as not opposite to life, rather, it is opposite to birth, and life is a journey between birth and death. Hinduism accepts suffering as inevitable even in death, so discomfort is accepted over drugs, while a conscious dying process is seen as a good death that would determine the properties of your rebirth. Thus death is seen as just another step in this cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.

Hindu View on Organ Transplant

Cremation in Hinduism is considered as both a destructive process and a course of creation; physical body and mind reunites with the earth, while atman wanders for about 12 days before continuing again the cycle of rebirth. Although in short no religious law prohibits organ transplant or donation in Hinduism, however there are contrary views. Some argue it to be a charitable act which is likely to attract karmic benefits; while others argue that if the body is incomplete during reuniting with the earth, the atman of the dead is suspended in a “state of animation” risking a karmic burden for family members. However, it is commonly insisted that the permission should be explicit.

Hindu view on contraception and abortion

Hindu bioethics agrees that there are two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning that brings husband and wife together, and the procreative meaning that capacitates them for the generation of new lives; and each and every sexual act need not be valued for its procreativity.

On abortion, the Hindu ethical decision making is based on the belief that the foetus is not just a foetus but a complete soul advancing into the next cycle of rebirth, so abortion is akin to murder; however, if mother’s welfare is in danger then the dharmic principle of duty to oneself takes precedence and abortion is permissible.

Hindu View on Biotechnology

Hinduism supports the idea of somatic cell genetic engineering which can address issues like sickle cell anaemia, haemophilia, or AIDS, on the principle of obligation to ensure survival of the present and future generations. However, it does not supports the idea of using genetic engineering for mere achieving perfection in body or bodily functions, again because Hinduism’s focus is on perfection of the soul rather the carrier body.

Regarding Cloning there are complex arguments in absence of any direct scriptural reference. The decision-making is guided by the principles of nonmaleficence (anyone’s well-being must not be sacrificed on some high altar of promoting a greater social and scientific good), beneficence (someone with leukaemia needing a compatible source of bone marrow), and autonomy (procreative or recreative rights along with rights to self-replicate).

Hindu View on Fertility Related Matters  

In ordinary cases, Hindu bioethics would want to limit IVF to married couples, using their own gametes in order to maximize the chance of both physical and emotional success for the child. However, there is provision for use of other person’s sperm in exceptional circumstances. One of the UpanishadsNiyoga, supports it if its purpose was the impregnation of a wife of an impotent or dead man so that his family may be preserved, and he may have sons to offer oblations for the welfare of his soul in the next world.

In summary, Hindu bioethics is philosophically pluralistic and ethically contextual, giving it the conceptual flexibility demanded by today’s complex moral problems. It is based on a multi-legged ethical decision making model involving the laws of Karma (good and bad actions), Dharma (righteousness), life after death, and Moksha (eternal freedom).

References and Advanced Readings

– Crawford, S. C. Hindu bioethics for the Twenty-first Century 2003; Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

– Lakhan, S. E. Hinduism: life and death. Student BMJ2008;16:294-336

– Coward, H. and Sidhu, T. Bioethics for clinicians: Hinduism and Sikhism. CMAJ, October 31, 2000; 163 (9)

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Addressing Global Warming through reducing meat consumption

By : Vijai Singhal.

An Open letter to MPs and Senators.

3rd December, 2018

Dear Senators and MPs,

As you already know, addressing Climate Change is the most important issue for humanity.The recent results of the Victorian State elections have clearly proved that Australian people want positive action on climate change. It has already resulted in the dethroning of the past four Prime Ministers in Australia.

Hindu Council of Australia has been very actively involved in addressing this issue mainly from the point of view of reducing meat consumption, which is the most effective things people can do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and ensure food availability for the poor, as well as extending the values of respect and compassion for animals and is good for our own health. Hindu Councilhad launched its “Meat Free Day” campaign on 2nd October, 2008 – on Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday. We are now celebrating its 10th anniversary and Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th year of his birthday.

You know that as per UN FAO report: “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, animal-farming contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than of all forms of transportation worldwide (18% vs. 13.5%). Under a business as usual scenario, the number of animals farmed worldwide is projected to double by 2050. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions would negate reductions from other positive changes (e.g. increasing automobile fuel efficiencies, switching to renewable energy etc). It is therefore necessary to take positive action to reduce meat consumption. This aspect of the problem is not getting the attention it deserves. At long last the recent IPCC report did emphasise the need to move to plant-based diet, improved farming practices and reduction in food wastage as being necessary to limit the GHG emissions.

It is also a big health issue, as you know WHO had released a report on 26 Oct 2015 that says that if you eat as much as 50 grams of processed meat (the equivalent of a few slices of bacon) every day – or a total of 350 grams a week – your risk of colon cancer goes up by 18 percent. Our average consumption is far too high. The resulting increase in health budget is becoming a big problem for the national government to balance its books as well. Moderating our consumption of meat and dairy products will lower the incidence of obesity, ischaemic heart disease and stroke, while cutting consumption of processed meat will reduce the incidence of colorectal cancers, resulting in the saving of billions of dollars in health budget.

We look forward to the support from Greens to highlight this issue as it effects so many aspects of our living.

Vijai Singhal

Director, Hindu Council of Australia

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Cumberland Holi Festival on 24th March 2019

Holi will be celebrated at Civic Park on 24th March 2019.

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Diwali celebrated in Strathfield

By : Rajeev Bhandula.

Hindu Council of Australia celebrated Deepawali in Strathfield on 18th November 2018 at Strathfield Park. The event was supported by Strathfield Council.

Diwali in Strathfield 2018

Over 1500 people attended from different communities including Australians and korean community. Jody Mckay Member of Parliament of state from strathfield and Gulian Vacari Mayor of Strathfield attended the event and welcomed by Mr.Jay Raman NSW President Hindu Council of Australia NSW.

There were 12 stalls which include Food, Real Estate, Indian dresses,Yoga stall and Ekal Youth stall. There were Free Rides and Free Mehndi which was attraction for children and Ladies.

Cultural Programme started from 11am and went through till 4.30pm. There were classical dances, Bollywood Dances and songs which were sung by Mr Vijay Jogia well known singer in Australia.

Nice Weather helped the event as well. Overall event was well recieved and enjoyed
by attendees.

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SRE Teacher Training 2019 starting in a big way

By : Madya Lila.

It’s great to see Hindu Council of Australia has finally been added to the Department of Education’s web page https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/religion-and-ethics/approved-sre-providers#letterH as a provider of Hinduism teachers to state schools for teaching Hinduism.

We held a very successful training day on Saturday and 15 new volunteer teachers are now trained and ready to go into schools to teach SRE next year.  

 

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Interfaith in Action at Religions for Peace

By : Surinder Jain.

What is RfP

Religions for Peace (RfP) is an organization representing religious leaders of different faiths in Australia and includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Bahai faith. Hindu Council of Australia has been a member, represented by its director Vijai Singhal for over a decade now.

According to RfP founder, this Interfaith forum is different from others. Apart from meetings and speeches, it tries to connect individual faith leaders together in a bond of friendship which is best manifested by leaders of different faiths become personal friends. She cited as an example of a christian member whose daughter’s wedding was attended by and blessed by Muslims, Jews and from other faiths.

RfP held a meeting on 19th November 2018 to discuss various issues.

Anti-Hate laws in NSW

High on its agenda was an anti-hate and anti-discrimination law being considered by the state of NSW. Phillip Ruddock, former Attorney General of Australia and now Mayor of Hornsby shire has held wide consultations with community and submitted a report. Ian Lacey, a lawyer explained to members that Australian constitution in 1901 has included a clause on freedom of religions which means that :

  1. Government can not establish a religion
  2. Government can not enforce a religion
  3. Government can not stop a religion and
  4. Government can not ask for a religious qualifications for a job

This, he explained, provides freedom of religion to all Australians.

Various states like Victoria and Queensland have enacted Vilification or anti-hate laws which are not working very well. He feared that NSW should not follow their path and instead enact a robust law like that in Britain which

  1. Allows people to criticize a religion but
  2. Does not allow adherents of a religion to be discriminated

He further explained that stopping people from criticizing religions can have the opposite effect of becoming a blasphemy law.  We all know how some fundamentalists regimes have enacted blasphemy laws and have used them to prosecute and impose a certain religion.

Jatayu earth centre

Robert from Vedanta society explained his recent visit to India and a “Jatayu earth centre” being established there.

Parliament of World’s Religions

Father Patrick and Rachelle Kahn who recently returned from Parliament of World’s Religions held in Toronto briefed about their impressions of the visit.  The first Parliament was held in 1893 where Swami Vivekanand had given his first now world famous address starting with “Brothers and Sisters” instead of the usual “Ladies and Gentlemen” salutation of the time.

Parliament of World’s Religions 1893 – courtesy Wikipedia

The next Parliament was held a 100 years later in 1993 and is now an annual affair. The representation was very wide spread with 7,500 people, from 80 countries, 222 religions and over 500 workshops. However, the depth of religious fervor was very shallow.

Eat Less Meat

Mr Vijai Singhal explained to everyone about Eat Less Meat project in which Hindu Council has joined with ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change).

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Survey of school going children’s parents on SRE

Hindu Council of Australia is conducting an SRE survey pf parents who have school going children and live in NSW.

Name of the school where your children are studying?


Suburb of the school where your children are studying?


Year in which your children are studying?

Does the school offer Hinduism SRE classes?

YesNoNot Sure

Does your child attend the SRE class?

YesNoNot Sure

If your child does not attend SRE, why?

I dont want my child to attend any SREI want my child to attend but school said NoI dont know that SRE is being taughtThe school never told me about SREMy child does not like SRE classesAlternative to SRE is more attractiveOther

Would you like to be informed when Hinduism SRE is offered at your school?

YesNo

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Anglican Retirement Village in Sydney celebrates Diwali

The Ponds is a new suburb of Sydney situated in the North West growth corridor, where the first stage of a major shopping centre and commercial space have opened. The new suburb was designed to make the estate a new community. The first lots of land were released on 31 March 2007.

There are a number of churches, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Every Nation Christian Church, Blessed John XXIII Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Rosary, Rouse Hill Anglican Church, The Salvation Army – Rouse Hill Region , Hillsong Church, NewHope Baptist Church and Life Anglican Church Quakers Hill.

The residents of Anglican Retirement Village celebrating Diwali

Anglican Retirement Villages, Diocese of Sydney (ARV) was a not-for-profit public benevolent institution formed in 1959. ARV retained its distinctive Christian and social credentials, and served some 6000 people across community care, independent living and assisted living services.

Anglican retirement village in The Ponds celebrated Diwali for its residents, most of them Christians. Mr Tara Chand Sharma, Director, Hindu Council of Australia attended the retirement village Diwali celebration and explained to them the significance of Diwali.

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