Archives for August 2018

Book a stall for Deepavali

Wisdom for the Common Good – Multifaith forum

By:Kanti Jinna.

I was invited to speak on the topic of Wisdom for the Common Good as espoused in the Bhagavad Gita. I drew my inspiration from Chapter 6 on Jnanya Yoga.

This is an annual meeting organised by the Order of Australia Association and the Multi-faith aspect is led by Rev Bishop Stephen Pickard of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

It was held on Sunday 19th August and the other Faith Leaders were from Islam, Buddhist, Baha’i, Hinduism, Jewish and Christian faiths.

By:Kanti Jinna.

Happy Raksha Bandhan

By:Madya Lila.

Happy Raksha Bandhan! Also known as Rakhi, this is a special occasion to celebrate the love between brothers and sisters. On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie an amulet around their brother’s wrist and wish him a long and healthy life. In return, he gives her a small gift, pledging to always protect and care for her. “Raksha Bandhan” means bond of protection and it signifies the bond of love between brother and sister.

 

One of the most famous histories in connection with Raksha Bandhan is from the Mahabharata.  Once, Krishna cut His finger and Draupadi quickly tore a strip from her sari to bind it. Krishna was so grateful for this simple act of love,  that He promised He would take care of Draupadi forever. Throughout her life, whenever Draupadi was in danger, she would call Krishna and He would come to wherever she was and give her protection.   In the Mahabharata, Krishna said, “When I was away from Draupadī, she cried with the words, ‘Hey, Govinda!’ This call for Me has put Me in her debt, and that indebtedness is gradually increasing in My heart.”

 

Happy Varalakshmi Vrat

By:Madya Lila.

Best wishes on Varalakshmi Vrat, the festival honouring Srimati Varalakshmi the Goddess of Fortune and consort and shakti (potency) of Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva himself is said to have recommended the observance of Varalakshmi Vrat to his wife, Parvati. Commemorating Parvarti’s devotion and love for her consort, married women fast and worship Goddess Lakshmi, offering flowers and sweets and praying for Her blessings upon their family members.  Saints teach us that the best boon we can pray for is the blessing of love for the Lord. This divine love will fill our hearts with a deep inner happiness that goes far beyond any material benediction and brings the greatest benefit to our loved ones.

 

In the Bhagavat Purana we find this beautiful prayer to Lakshmidevi

 

viṣṇu-patni mahā-māye

mahāpuruṣa-lakṣaṇe

prīyethā me mahā-bhāge

loka-mātar namo ‘stu te

 

O wife of Lord Vishnu, O internal energy of Lord Vishnu, you are as good as Lord Vishnu Himself, for you have all of His qualities and opulences. O goddess of fortune, please be kind to me. O mother of the entire world, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you.

 

 

 Image by BG Sharma

Happy Onam

By:Madya Lila.

Happy Onam! The joyful festival of Onam originates in Kerala. It celebrates the auspicious appearance of the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of Mahabali and it also marks the Malayalam new year. Onam is enthusiastically celebrated with worship ceremonies, beautiful flower arrangements, boat races, traditional dance performances, martial arts, music and elaborate vegetarian feasts.

 

According to the Bhagavat Purana, Mahabali was the grandson of the saintly devotee Prahlad Maharaj. Mahabali was a mighty warrior who conquered the devas (demigods)  and ruled the three worlds. The devas sought help from Lord Vishnu who descended in the form of a gloriously effulgent dwarf brahmin boy, Vamana.

 

At an opportune time, Vamana approached Mahabali asking for alms. Mahabali promised to give Vamana anything He wished for – land, gold, jewels – but Vamana said that greed destroys a person and He would only take three paces of land from him.

 

After Mahabali had made the promise to give Him the three paces of land, Vamana expanded in size revealing His cosmic form. With His first step He covered all the lower planets up to the earth, and with His second step He reached all the way to the top of the universe. His toenail pierced the universal coverings and the water of the Causal Ocean surged in, washed the Lord’s lotus feet, and descended into our universe as the celestial Ganges. Mahabali then placed his head at the feet of the Lord and offered himself as the place for Vamana’s third step.

 

For this act, Mahabali has become renowned throughout the ages as the devotee who exemplifies full surrender to the Lord. Vamana was extremely pleased with Mahabali and gave him the celestial planet, Sutala, to live on. Vamana also resides there with him. Onam celebrates this glorious event and is also the time that Mahabali returns to visit Kerala.

 

The twelfth-century poet and devotee Jayadeva Goswami writes:

 

chalayasi vikramane balim adbhuta-vamana 

pada-nakha-nira-janita-jana-pavana 

keshava dhrita-vamana-rupa jaya jagadisha hare

 

“O Keshava! O Lord of the universe! O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of a dwarf-brahmana! All glories to You! O wonderful dwarf, by Your massive steps You deceive King Bali, and by the Ganges water that has emanated from the nails of Your lotus feet, You deliver all living beings within this world.”

Hindu businesses help drought stricken Australian farmers

After Hindu council and Hindu temples, now Hindu businesses have come forward to donate their profits to help drought stricken Australian farmers.

 

Vedic woman – Where is She?

The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Will She Return? After scouring the internet for hours, what I found left me seriously F R U S T R A T E D.

Vajpayee no more

A Hindu nationalist ex pm of India dies. He was a proud Hindu who like Gandhi lived by Vedic value of oneness of all beings and Vasudaiv kutumbakkam in a dirty landscape of politics.

During his tenure as prime minister, India carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Vajpayee sought to improve diplomatic relations with Pakistan, travelling to Lahore by bus to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. After the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, he sought to restore relations through engaging with President Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India for a summit at Agra.

He was conferred India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, by the President of IndiaPranab Mukherjee in 2015.[3] 

India reacted to Vajpayee’s death with grief and thousands of tributes poured in through social media platforms. Thousands of people payed their respects during his funeral procession.[159] A seven-day state mourning was announced by the central government.[160]

  •  Afghanistan: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was among several foreign dignitaries present at former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral in New Delhi. He recalled that the departed leader was “the first to offer us civilian planes, Airbuses at the time we were starting out”.[161]
  •  BangladeshBangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed “deep shock” at the demise of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said it is a day of great sadness for the people of Bangladesh. Paying tribute to Vajpayee, Hasina termed him as “one of the most famous sons of India” and a highly respected person in Bangladesh.[162]
  •  Bhutan: Bhutan king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck attended the funeral ceremony in New Delhi.[163]
  •  Japan: Remembering Vajpayee’s visit to Japan in 2001, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said, “On behalf of the Government and people of Japan, I would like to convey my sincerest condolences to the Government and people of India and the bereaved family. His Excellency Vajpayee visited Japan in 2001 as the then-Prime Minister and made significant contributions to the friendship between our two countries as a good friend of Japan. It is him who established the cornerstone of Japan-India relations today”. Terming Vajpayee as an eminent leader of India, Abe added, “I pray from the bottom of my heart that his soul may rest in peace”.[164]
  •  Mauritius: On 17 August, the government of Mauritius announced that both Mauritian and Indian flags would fly at half mast in the honour of Vajpayee.[165][166] During the World Hindi Conference in Mauritius, PM Pravind Jugnauth announced that the cyber tower towards which Vajpayee contributed to be set up in Mauritius would be henceforth named as Atal Bihari Vajpayee tower.[167]
  •  PakistanPakistan‘s interim Minister for Law and Information Syed Ali Zafar met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and extended Pakistan’s condolence on the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Zafar was among the foreign dignitaries who attended Vajpayee’s funeral in New Delhi.[168] Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf mourned the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, calling him a great man. He said that Vajpayee’s demise was a great loss for both India as well as Pakistan.[169]
  •  RussiaRussian President Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolences to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the demise of Vajpayee. Putin termed the former prime minister as “outstanding statesman”. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee rightly commanded great respect around the world. He will be remembered as a politician who made a major personal contribution to the friendly relations and privileged strategic partnership between our countries. “The President of Russia conveyed words of sincere sympathy and support to the family of the deceased, the Government and the people of India”, the message read.[170]
  •  Sri Lanka: Various Sri Lanka leaders paid rich tribute to the three-time PM, hailing him as a “friend of Sri Lanka”. In a tweetPresident Maithripala Sirisena said: “Today, we have lost a great humanist and a true friend of Sri Lanka. Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a visionary leader and an ardent defender of democracy. My condolences to his family and millions of his admirers around the world”. Leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan said India has lost one of its “most regarded intellectual and statesman”. “He served the great country of India with humility and honesty, and he was much loved and respected by millions of people across the world. Former three-time Prime Minister Vajpayee is also an exceptional orator and a leader with a great sense of humour, his speeches within the Indian parliament and outside will always be remembered”, he said in a statement, extending his condolences on behalf of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.[171]
  •  United StatesU.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Vajpayee recognised early on that the US-India partnership would contribute to the world’s economic prosperity and security and the two democracies continue to benefit from his vision. “On behalf of the people of the United States of America, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of India on the recent passing of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee”, Pompeo said in a statement yesterday. He recalled Vajpayee’s address to the Congress in 2000, when he had famously characterised US-India ties as a “natural partnership of shared endeavours”. “Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation”, Pompeo said. He said the American people stand with the people of India “as we mourn Prime Minister Vajpayee’s passing”

The Indian-Australian millennials

ABC’s religion and ethics unit have published a story on why Indian-Australian millennials are choosing to have arranged marriages. Read about it here.

Hindus in Victoria advise Premier on Multicultural issues

By: Makrand Bhagwat.

Hindu Council of Australia Victoria is a member of the Multifaith Advisory Group under the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) , which advises the Premier and the minister for multicutural affairs on faith related matters in the community.
Some of the issues MAG discussed in the recent times were the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, LGBTI inclusion in the broader community, Family Violence, Issues related to Islamic community and achieving social cohesion to name a few.
MAG Chair is Helen Kapalos, who is also the Chair for Victorian Multicultural Commission. Helen organised a meeting with the Premier and the Minister way back in Apr-May this year and scheduled it for 15th August, which was yesterday.
HCA was represented in this meeting. Although the meeting was short, some of the recent issues were discussed. The meeting started on the backdrop of the recent comments made in the Senate by Katter’s party Senator Fraser Annings about bringing back the white Australia policy and opposing to Islamic migration. The MAG unanimously condoned Senator’s comments.
The other issue which was discussed was about the South Sudanese youth violence in the recent past in Melbourne suburbs. Bishop Philip Huggins from the Anglican Church said that he is working with the Sudanese community on this issue. All the faith communities expressed their support and asked if they could help. The Premier also commented that steps are being taken to provide training and job opportunities to the South Sudanese youth to bring them into the mainstream.
The Premier announced financial assistance of $600,000 to MAG which was welcomed by all faith leaders.
HCA will work closely with the MAG in future to positively contribute on all emerging issues.
After the meeting I personally thanked the Premier on attending the Indian national flag hoisting ceremony over the week end at the Federation Square.
Thank you and regards
Makarand Bhagwat