Book Review – Hinduism and Nature

By : www.arc.org.

Penguin India publishes important new book on Hinduism and Nature

 

We have just received our copy of Penguin India on Hinduism and Nature by historian, environmentalist (and good friend of ARC) Dr Nanditha Krishna.

The book, published by Penguin India, is about the mythical stories and religious significance of many forests and mountains, lakes, rivers (and a few flat bits) of India’s varied landscapes. And how those stories and significances are one of the things that can and might protect India’s animals and places from the bulldozers of progress.

The basis of Hinduism is righteousness, or dharma, she argues, and the great epic texts of Hinduism show a clear appreciation of the natural world by people in India 5,000 years go. Even then, writers and thinkers wanted to urge people to manage natural resources and protect animals.

“I fell in love with sacred groves attached to Hindu temples,” Dr Krishna said to explain how she came to write the book. They were places “where not a twig may be broken and which are the remnants of ancient forests where sages lived in harmony with nature.”

She also was inspired by “rivers that gush from the hills and meander through the land; with the sacred tanks attached to each temple, the sacred plants and the animals respected by my religion; with the awe-inspiring mountains which reach up to the skies and where the Gods live.”.

In her long career as an environmentalist, the Chennai-based author of Sacred Plants of India and Sacred Animals of India has explored the divine relationship between human beings, plants and animals, “which are an essential part of every Hindu prayer.”

In her long career as an environmentalist, the author of Sacred Plants of India and Sacred Animals of India Dr Krishna has explored the divine relationship between human beings, plants and animals, “which are an essential part of every Hindu prayer.”

“The Earth is my mother and I am her child,” says the hymn to the Earth in the Atharva Veda. The human ability to merge with nature was the measure of cultural evolution. Hinduism believes that the earth and all life forms – human, animal and plant – are a part of Divinity, each dependant on the other for sustenance and survival. All of nature must be treated with reverence and respect. If the forests, clean water and fresh air disappear, so will all life as we know it on earth.

An Excerpt

“Forests have always been central to Indian civilization, representing the feminine principle in prakriti. They are the primary source of life and fertility, a refuge for the wanderer and a home for the seeker, and have always been viewed as a model for societal and civilizational evolution.

“Forests were places of retreat, a source of inspiration, for all Vedic literature was revealed to the sages here. Rama’s entire journey from Ayodhya to Lanka was through forests. In the Mahabharata, the big war is for urbanization and to capture the cities of Mathura, Hastinapur and Indraprastha. Yet the Pandavas spent their years of exile in the forest and made marriage alliances with forest tribes, a move that would help them later in the Kurukshetra war. They also learnt several important lessons from living in the forest, which became a source of knowledge and a place for learning higher truths. There were several classifications of the forest.

“The ancient forests have survived as the sacred groves of modern India. The seals of the Indus civilization contain figures of wild animals such as the elephant, water buffalo, rhinoceros, deer, gazelle, antelope, wild sheep and goat and ibex and tiger, which means that the area was once covered with dense forests. Rhino habitat ranges from open savannah to dense forest, while tigers live in swamps, grasslands and among trees, bushes and tall grass which camouflage them. Elephants are found in savannah and forests, where they can find fresh water to cool their thick dark skins. The large number of such seals suggests that the Indus–Sarasvati region was once a thick forest, not the agricultural fields or deserts we see today.

 

Hindu Environment week is one of the eco initiatives by Hindus today, inspired by the insights of their faith

The Vedas were composed in the Indus–Sarasvati region. In these texts, there is a fundamental sense of harmony with nature, which, in turn, nurtured a civilizational value. Forests were the primary source of life and inspiration, not a wilderness to be feared or conquered. The Vedas were written by sages living in the forest who saw it as a home and a source of revelation, exaltation and creativity. Some of the greatest verses of philosophy were written in forests. People drew intellectual, emotional and spiritual sustenance from the twin concepts of srishti and prakriti.

‘So may the mountains, the waters, the liberal (wives of the gods), the plants, also heaven and earth, consentient with the Forest Lord (Vanaspati) and both the heaven and earth preserve for us those riches’

One of the most beautiful hymns of the Rig Veda is dedicated to Aranyani, the goddess of the forest. She is an elusive spirit, fond of solitude, and fearless. The poet asks her to explain how she can wander so far from civilization without fear or loneliness. He creates a beautiful image of the village at sunset, with the sounds of the grasshopper and the cicada and the cowherd calling his cattle. She is a mysterious sprite, never seen, but her presence is felt by the tinkling of her anklets and her generosity in feeding both man and animal:

Aranyani Aranyani, who are, as it were, perishing there, why
do you not ask of the village? Does not fear assail you?
When the chichchika (bird) replies to the crying grasshopper,
Aranyani is exalted, resonant, as with cymbals.
It is as if cows were grazing, and it looks like a dwelling, and
Aranyani, at eventide, as it were, dismissed the wagons.
This man calls his cow, another cuts down the timber,
tarrying in the forest at eventide, one thinks there is a cry.
But Aranyani injures no one unless some other assails;
feeding upon the sweet fruit, she penetrates at will.
I praise the musk-scented, fragrant, fertile, uncultivated
Aranyani, the mother of wild animals
(Rig Veda, X.146. 1–6)

LINKS

Find Hinduism and Nature on Good Reads.

Penguin India on Hinduism and Nature

The Hindu Newspaper features vital work on green pilgrimage by ARC’s partner organisation in India

ARC’s partner organisation in India, ATREE

Building Stewardship in the buffer zone to protect biodiversity – Clean KMTR Campaign

(Source : www.arc.org)

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Dalai Lama endorses Hinduism as most tolerant

Muslim nations must learn about religion from India : Dalai Lama

There are various religions and traditions in India having population of over 125 crore. Muslim countries should learn from India. so that there is peace. There is coordination among all the religions here and due to non-violence principle, modern India is developing,” the Dalai Lama said.

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Christian missionaries who won’t take no for an answer

By Robert Burton-Bradley. ABC.

Christians who won’t take no for an answer — touched by God or ‘white saviour complex’? According to the Centre for the Global Study of Christianity, there are 440,000 long term missionaries in foreign countries. There are more than 1.6 million young Americans going abroad on short missions for weeks or months every year.

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Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti

Guru Nanak Dev Jyanti.
Karthik Poornima, 23 Nov 2018
Hindu Council of Australia wishes happiness and peace with the blessings of Guru Nanak dev ji to all on the auspicious occasion of His Birthday, Gurpurab.

Press Release - Guru NanakDev 550th Birth anniversary year

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Commemorating the Centenary of Armistice – Cenotaph at Cherrybrook NSW

By: Bhagwat Chauhan.

We were working on some time to create a history, a small team of Ashwani Jain, Sanjeev Bhakri, Ashwani Sharma and Parveen Gupta were working tirelessly to build a cenotaph to recognise servicemen of Indian origin, who made ultimate sacrifice during WW I. We had special contribution of Mr Rajeev Maini (Architect) and Mr Vijay Badhwar (Engineer).

It is a lesser known fact that servicemen of Indian origin were part of Anzac forces. This cenotaph will remember 12 servicemen identified from Anzac Archives and other unidentified sources,  who have fought in Anzac forces. 

 The memorial has been constructed with armistice centenary grant from department of veteran affairs by Hindu council of Australia with support of federal member of Berowra Mr Julian lesser, Hornsby Shire Council, Hornsby RSL

It will be the first memorial of its kind in Australia  to remember the active contributions of Indian community during World War I. It will give an opportunity to Indian Australian now and in the future to connect with Anzac history. 

You are invited to attend and be part of unveiling of the cenotaph dedicated to Anzac Servicemen of Indian origin as part of Armistice centenary commemoration 2018. 

Event Details

Date : Saturday, 10 November 2018

Time : 9.30 am for 10.00 am start 

Venue: Park opposite to Carlile Swimming ming Cherrybrook

33 Shepherds Lane, Cherrybrook NSW 2126

It’s my humble request to you, that we should join together to commemorate the centenary of armistice 2018 @ Cherrybrook.

Pp

 

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Lord from Bhadrachalam arrived in Sydney for Kalyanam and Coronation

By : Sai Pravastu.

A historic moment for Australia –  Bhagwan Sri Rama along with Sita  Devi, Lakshmana and Anjaneya Swamy from Bhadrachalam Temple, have left from Bharat and are arriving today evening in Sydney. There will be a warm welcome by our local priests and Andal group with Purna Kumbam at the host’s residence. 

On this festive occasion, we have two big events planned to mark the 20th anniversary of HCA Deepavali celebration. ABC Bullion in partnership with HCA has minted a special limited edition Sri Rama Parivar coins in Silver and Gold.

 

Lord boarding from Hyderabad bound for Sydney

 

On Saturday the 3rd November 2018  Sri Sita  Rama Kalyana Mahotsavam (celestial wedding) of Lord Sri Rama and Goddess Sita from Bhadrachalam will take place in Parramatta Park, there will be a palki procession for Sri Rama and Sita Devi from Parramatta Townhall, alongside Parramatta river (Phillip street), wedding will be performed by priests from Bhadrachalam. I will stop here and let you all come and enjoy the full schedule of the day.

 Look at the coincidence – Bhadrachalam temple is on the ghats of Godavari river and we are performing the wedding on the ghats of Parramatta River. We are blessed to see this occasion on Vilambi-Samvatsara (Lord Sri Rama’s incarnation year). Traditional dances from various states of India (kollatam) will be performed along the way to the wedding mandap.

On Sudnay 4th November 2018 Coronation of Sri Rama, Pattabhishekam (Coronation) is generally performed the day following Sri Rama Navami (Celestial wedding). This is also known as Sri Rama Samrajya Pattabhisheka Mahotsavam starting with a procession from the Queen’s road entrance into the parramatta park.

There is be Maha aarathi on both days and an evening palki procession to burn the effigy of 40 Feet Ravana followed by fireworks.

Loads of traditional and cultural performances, rides for children, competitions such as rangoli, ethnic wear, various stalls to list a few, it’s a fully packed day weekend celebrations to Deepavali.

These events are part of the Deepavali celebrations, don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity along with your family and your friends, praise, pray, sing and dance in the name of Sri Sita Rama and get filled with joy and happiness.

Spread the word around the town and be part of this historic event.

 

 

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Dowry abuse submission by Hindu Council of Australia

On 26 June 2018, the Senate of Australia (Upper house of Parliament) referred the practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 6 December 2018. The committee’s focus is on the broad issues raised in the terms of reference of the inquiry with a focus on explore the nature of dowry as a cultural practice, and the adequacy of current Australian policy settings and legal frameworks regarding dowry and dowry abuse.

Hindu Council of Australia has made a submission to the Committee.

A large number of submissions have been made and all of them can be viewed at

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/DowryAbuse/Submissions

HINDU COUNCIL SUBMISSION

www w.hinducouncil.com.au | Phone: 1300 HINDUS Fax: (02) 8208 9810| ACN 082 437 670
Head office: 17 The Crescent, Homebush, NSW 2140, AUSTRALIA
Hindu Council of Australia
Submission to Senate Inquiry into Dowry Abuse in Australia

Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) is a peak body organisation founded in 1998 with an aim to
preserve, promote and share Hindu religious values and culture in Australia. Since HCA was
founded, it has been acting as a representative of the Hindu community in Australia in dealing with
the federal, state and local governments, apart from reaching out to other Hindu organisations
and institutions.

Currently Hindu Council of Australia has established chapters in all the mainland states of Australia
and forty-two Hindu associations located in all states, are member of the HCA.
HCA is pleased to provide submission to this inquiry as follows:

1. The single largest cause of spouse mistreatment is due to the Australian immigration
processes. The processes are opaque and totally controlled by the sponsoring spouse. Admittedly
all the information is available online but as can be clearly seen it is not adequate for the spouses
who get trapped between a mistreating spouse and immigration procedures.

Our first strong submission is that once a marriage is verified to be legal:

(a) the migrating spouse
gets full and complete information about the sponsoring spouse,

(b) the migrating spouse is given
an option (probably for a small fee) to have a one-on-one consultation with a representative of
the High Commission or the Embassy about their legal rights, and

(c) the rights of the migrating spouse should be the same as the sponsoring spouse.

We again reiterate that the opacity, behaviour, and the processes of the department of
immigration is the single most important factor in the mistreatment of migrating spouses.

2. Unfortunately some Australian media have displayed a propensity towards Hindu bashing. In
the past HCA had to pursue several misreporting by the SBS with the tribunal. Dowry is not a part
of core Hindu beliefs and does not find any mention in the authentic Scriptures. The practice of
dowry is further confined to only a few communities in India. All the reform movements in India,
including HCA, are against the practice of dowry and no one will be more pleased than us if this
ugly practice disappears.

Our second strong submission is that please don’t make this Senate Enquiry a Hindu bashing
exercise. We say this because the setting of the enquiry draws heavily from ABC and SBS reporting
and please let that not colour the proceedings of the enquiry.

3. The role of the Hindu clergy is limited to performing rituals. If the clergy has any influence it is
due to their personal relationship with the community and not as clergy. A Hindu priest in general
has no role in family matters and especially in these complex matters that involve immigration
processes and family history.
 
Our third submission is that the Hindu Clergy be considered for what it is: responsible for rituals
and worship and not for any role within the family.

4. The frequent reference to Manu Smriti is baffling for us. Independent India made its own laws
with scant regard to Manu Smriti. Most of us hear about Manu Smriti the first time from the news
reports that have an anti-Hindu agenda. We say this because all the journalists know well that the
parts of Manu Smriti they quote are obsolete and find no connection with the present Hindu
society.

Our fourth submission is that the Hindu community in Australia is fully committed to the lawmaking
process in Australia and we will assist in whatsoever manner to make laws that prevent
spouse abuse. Please don’t get distracted by the journalists and “social” scientist with anti-Hindu
agenda. Hindus are fully committed to the laws of the land, no exceptions. We are confident of
pursuing our religion and culture and thriving in every society that makes its laws in a democratic
manner.

5. Male domination in any society is due to the poor education of women. In the Indian state of
Kerala, with almost hundred per cent education, there is a complete gender equality in the society.
In the regions with poor women education, the situation is the opposite. Indian women are taking
up education at a record rate, more than fifty per cent of students in professional courses in India
are now women.

Our fifth and final submission is that let the male domination theme be not used to run down our
culture and religion. We are working extremely hard to overcome our historical deficiencies. Hindu
bashing will be detrimental to this effort. The best way to correct gender power imbalance is to
encourage educated women to help other women and yet preserve the wonderful family structure
that the Indian society has created.

We look forward to cooperating with the Australian Parliament in making laws and establishing
processes which prevent the abuse of one human by another.

Thanks for giving us this opportunity to make our submission. We will be happy to make an inperson
presentation to the committee.

Kind Regards
Prakash Mehta
National President
Hindu Council of Australia, Email:
Mobile number: 17 August,
2018
Page 2 of 2
The practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia
Submission 57

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Neeraj Gupta’s sculpture awarded by Australia

Sydney, Australia: The Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize, presented by Woollahra Council, today
announced 48 emerging and established artists as finalists for the 18th annual Prize and exhibition. The
finalist group was today from 666 entries this year including artists from Australia, India and the
United Kingdom highlighting the Prize’s growing international reputation.

Delhi, India based artist Neeraj Gupta’s work, titled Drifter – III (2018) challenges what he suggests is
the de-humanisation of art in a modern world of super-technology. Using pigment in white cement to
create a stylised bust, Gupta seeks to reject art as information or reduction and return to art as
emotion, harnessing its mysterious power of transcending history and horizontal time to allow his
viewers to see things acutely.

EXHIBITION DETAILS: A free exhibition of all the finalist sculptures will be presented from Saturday
20th until Sunday 11 November 2018 at Woollahra Council. The winners will be announced at the
launch of the exhibition on 19 October with further details to be provided closer to the time. A series
of Artists’ Talks and Community Workshops will be presented as part of the program.

BACKGROUND ON THE WOOLLAHRA SMALL SCULPTURE PRIZE: The Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize is
a national prize for sculptures of smaller dimensions and has attracted strong support from artists,
collectors, benefactors, critics, as well as the local community. The Prize was initiated in 2001 by
Council to support, promote and celebrate artistic excellence, but also to encourage the local
community to access the then, newly renovated Woollahra Council Chambers. The Prize attracts local,
national and international entries each year.

MEDIA CONTACT: To request artist biographies, interviews, imagery and information in relation to the
Prize, please contact Megan Bentley, megan@articulatepr.com.au or Kym Elphinstone,
kym@articulatepr.com.au, 0421 106 139.

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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”

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Happy Independence Day India

15th August 2018, Happy Independence day India, home and birthplace of Hindus.

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