NetFlix’s controversial portrayal of Rajneesh

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NetFlix has made a six part documentary on Osho (Bhagwan Rajneesh) called  Wild Wild Country, and is streaming it now. The six-part series tells the story of the Rajneshees, calling him an Indian “sex cult” whose 2000-odd members moved en masse from India to rural Oregon in the 1980s.   


Almost immediately the movement ran into conflict with county residents and the state government, and a succession of legal battles concerning the ashram’s construction and continued development curtailed its success.

Photo By Samvado Gunnar Kossatz, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3001538 

 

Swami Vivekananda – an intuitive scientist

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This is a brief summary of the book written by T.G.K.Murty in 2012 on 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami ji. (Vijai Singhal)

Swami Vivekananda was a multifaceted genius. While his spiritual eminence is well known, his insights in physical sciences are lesser known. He was well acquainted with the scientific thoughts of his time and was remarkably accurate in his observations and conclusions with regards to many scientific notions.

Swami Vivekananda was born on 12th January, 1863 in Kolkata. His pre-monastic name was Narendranath Datta. His father, Vishwanath Datta was a successful attorney. Early is his life he came under the influence of Sri Ramakrishna, a mystic and priest of the Kali Temple. He made lot of spiritual progress under his guidance. After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami jiwent on a long pilgrimage to explore the length and breadth of India. In 1893 he decided to attend the World Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago, USA to represent the Hindu faith. He became an instant celebrity after his talk. He gained lot of popularity and attracted lot of followers. He spent 3 years in America and England giving talks and organising spiritual retreats. On his return back to India he established the Ramakrishna Mission and Math in 1897. He went for his second trip to the West in 1899. He passed away on 4th July, 1902. The Ramakrishna Mission has centres all over the globe spreading the teachings of Vedanta.

The power of intuition is an important ingredient of creative thinking which leads to innovative discoveries – Eureka moment. Our sages did possess the intuitive power through concentration of mind doing meditation and have made lots of very significant contributions in science and mathematics. The concept of zero, infinity and the decimal number system were developed in India. Swamiji saw interrelationships among Sankhya philosophy, cosmology, gravity and relativity. He also pronounced that energy and matter are interchangeable in space and time domain. On his suggestion, Nikola Tesla, the mathematician and physicist tried to formulate a theory on the above.During his tour of the United States and Europe, Swamiji met many of the well-known scientists of the time. He met in New York Sir William Thompson, Lord Kelvin and Professor Helmholtz – leading representatives of science in the West. The mathematical proof of the principle that Swamiji was looking for did not come until about 10 years later, when Albert Einstein published his paper on relativity and his famous equation E=mc2. This is what Swamiji was looking to get from Tesla.

On biological sciences, Swamiji did not fully support the Darwin’s theory of evolution which emphasised survival of the fittest. Swamiji said: “Taking for granted that Darwin is right, I cannot yet admit that it is the final conclusion about the causes of evolution.” He further said: ..”in my opinion, struggle and competition sometimes stand in the way of a being’s attaining its perfection. If the evolution of an animal is effected by the destruction of a thousand others, then one must confess that this evolution is doing very little good to the world.” In animal kingdom instinct prevails; but the more a man advances, the more he manifests rationality. A number of modern biologists do not support Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. The Nobel Laureate Brian Goodwin declares that struggle and competition have no special status in biological dynamics where what is important is the pattern of relationships and interactions that exist and how they constitute the behaviour of the system’s integrated whole.

In the interest of brevity, I cannot describe some other aspects of Swami ji’s contributions, which this small book gives a good account of.

– Vijai Singhal

Hinduism Today Releases Documentary: “The History of Hindu India”

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KAUAI, HAWAII: The editorial team of Hinduism Today is pleased to announce the release of its professional documentary film, “The History of Hindu India” (Part 1), developed in collaboration with Dr. Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus of History, California State University Northridge. More than a year in the making, the movie (http://bit.ly/HinduHistory) provides an authentic presentation of the history of India and Hinduism to non-Hindus for use in American 6th grade social study classes. It is equally useful for Hindu temple study groups and to introduce the Hindu religion to general audiences.

 

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At a mere 7 per cent, Bangladesh Hindus under threat, says US rights activist

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By Express News Service 

The minority Hindus in Bangladesh are facing the threat of ethnic cleansing, US rights activist Richard L Benkin has said.  Benkin said he is carrying out an indepth research on the Hindu population’s dwindling numbers which now stand at a mere 7 per cent  as per the 2016 figures. Compared to this, the Hindus accounted for 35 per cent of the population in the then Eastern Pakistan in 1947 which slumped to 20 per cent following the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Dr. Richard Benkin is an American Jewish human rights activist, co-founder of ‘Interfaith Strength‘, journalist, writer and lecturer. He’s also a member of Folks Magazine’s Editorial Board since August 2011.[1]

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SBS TV records growth of Hinduism in Australia

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SBS (State Broadcasting Services) is an Australian TV and radio network supported by Australian government and specializes in ethnic community news. Decades ago when there were very few Hindus in Australia and Internet had not been invented yet, SBS was a major (and sometimes the only) source of news and entertainment for new migrants to Australia.

In the age of Internet and beaming of TV from all over the world, SBS has reinvented itself as a channel for multicultural Australia. As part of recording religions in Australia, Abbey from SBS has produced a TV program on the growth of Hinduism in Australia. The program was aired on SBS TV and a link to the article is provided below. 

Hindu Council of Australia has recorded the growth of Hinduism in Australia on its website as a part of its eLearing course on Hinduism. A link to that internet based course lesson is also provided below.

Link to SBS program

Link to eLearn Article on Hinduism in Australia

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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Christians students to visit India to learn how Hindus and Christians coexist in relative harmony

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Students of George Fox University, a Christian college in USA plan to to visit various countries of the world including Sri Lanka/India to learn how Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Christians coexist in relative harmony in India.

George Fox University (GFU) is a Christian university of liberal arts and sciences and professional studies in NewbergOregon. Founded as a school for Quakers in 1885, the private school has more than 3,900 students combined between its main campus in Newberg and its centers in PortlandSalem and Redmond. Graduate studies include psychology, social work, business, education, counseling, physical therapy and seminary.

Wood-Mar Hall GFU.JPG
By M.O. StevensOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The trips are part of the university’s Juniors Abroad program, which, since 1987, has annually sent third- and fourth-year students on overseas study trips led by professors. George Fox pays transportation and program costs; students pay room and board. Each trip holds preparation classes during the spring semester.

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Meet the Indian housewives studying to become Hindu priests in their ‘second innings’

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At 72, Sailja Joshi has found her calling rather late in life. After a lifetime spent caring for others at home, this grandmother wants to join the workforce.  She is studying to become a Hindu priest. Female priests are a relatively new phenomenon in India, and they’re still vastly outnumbered by men. Scholars say that unlike in the Catholic church or Islamic tradition, there’s nothing in Hindu holy books that bans women from becoming religious leaders.

Sydney in Australia has a female priest Dr Meenakshi Srinivasan who has recently been awarded “Gargi Woman Award 2018” for her life long services to the Hindu community and to Sanskrit language.

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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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