last updated 30th May 2008

Kazakhstani online petition

Kazakhstani online petition

By Radha Mohan Dasa

Please visit NOW and click the link to the new petition, or go straight to the petition webpage:

Please sign it soon as you can, and please tell as many people as you can about it.

Background: Workers and police arrived on 15th June at the village near Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the embattled Hare Krishna commune is based to demolish twelve more Hare Krishna-owned homes. “The houses were literally crushed into dust. By ten o’clock it was all over,” said ISKCON spokesperson Maksim Varfolomeyev.

The temple, which the devotees have been ordered to destroy, has not been touched but the devotees fear it could be the next target. Human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis is outraged at the continuing destruction. “The authorities are showing that they will do what they want, despite the international outrage at the earlier demolitions of Hare Krishna-owned homes.” He believes the local administration chief “doesn’t care about the political damage to Kazakhstan’s reputation – or to its desire to chair the OSCE.”

ys Radha Mohan das

Kazak Edition of Bhagavad-gita presented to Srila Prabhupada.
This is now the 55th language in which Bhagavad-gita has been printed.

KAZAKHSTAN: Growing Threat to Religious Properties
By Mushfig Bayram for Forum 18 News Service on 25 Apr 2008

The following was excerpted from an article by the religious freedom news service Forum 18. The full article can be read in its original context here.

In attempts to intimidate the Hare Krishna devotees to give up the land, the local authorities [Almaty, Kazakhstan] in the past demolished some of the houses on the land where the devotees used to live.

Maxim Varfolomeev of the Hare Krishna Community told Forum 18 on 18 April that the Regional Akimat has given them an ultimatum to vacate the place as soon as possible. "Otherwise the authorities pledge to pull down our temple and other buildings including living residences in our presence," Varfolomeev told Forum 18.

Serik Umbetov, the Akim of the region, gathered officials of Akimats of local districts around Karasai region, and the leaders of the Hare Krishna commune on 25 March to offer an alternative site for the commune. "The authorities through the court stripped our property rights to 49 hectares of fertile lands next to a beautiful lake which is also within an hour of Almaty city," complained Varfolomeev. "But now they won't give us a minimum of two hectares needed for building of the temple, the housing of the devotees and the shed for the cows."

At the meeting the Hare Krishna community was offered four places in different districts but found none of them appropriate, Varfolomeev reported. "One site is next to a rubbish dump, another is next to a cemetery, and the best is on a hill that would need to be levelled out," he said. All these sites are too remote and cannot be reached by public transport, which would make it very difficult for members to attend the meetings, he complained.

The new head of the Justice Ministry's Religious Affairs Committee, Ardak Doszhan, received the leaders of the Hare Krishna commune at his office in Astana on 28 March and promised to give his support to the commune, Varfolomeev told Forum 18. The authorities have not taken steps to demolish the buildings yet. "This shows us that the Akimat is trying to talk us into signing papers that we agree to the plans to move us out of the current location, so they can have a legal basis for the demolition," he said. The Commune is resolute in its decision not to give in to pressure and sign any papers. "We just want two hectares of land on even ground in an appropriate surrounding not far from the city," reiterated Varfolomeev.

Gazizat Shtabaeva of Karasai Akimat, who now oversees the land dispute, was reached by Forum 18 on 25 April but she declined to talk about the issue.

"Ryskul Zhunisbaeva who used to oversee this dispute has now resigned from her position, and I have just taken over this issue," she said. "I don't know much about it at the moment."

Ardak Zholtaev, the Assistant to the Akim, declined to talk about the issue over the phone to Forum 18 on 25 April. The telephone of the deputy Akim, Edil Kaliev, went unanswered. Kayrat Tulesov, the deputy chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee, also declined to discuss the case with Forum 18 by telephone on 25 April.

Among other religious communities, Jehovah's Witnesses, independent Muslims and Protestant churches continue to suffer in Kazakhstan. Recently a group of 15 independent Muslims were given heavy prison sentences for belonging to a terrorist organisation. 14 of the 15 Muslims were given prison sentences of between 14 and 19 and a half years at a closed trial. The fifteenth received a three-year corrective labour sentence. The terrorist allegations by the authorities were not proven, according to independent legal experts in Kazakhstan.

Read HERE how the original issue began in Kazakstan

Read HERE what the previous articles from November 2006 were

Iskcon Kazakstan



Chinese Government Refuses Visas for Kailash Pilgrimage

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 21, 2008: The Chinese government is refusing to issue visas to Hindus trying to make the traditional summer pilgrimage to what they hold to be the home of Lord Shiva in Tibet, forcing thousands to delay or cancel the trip. Starting in June, Hindus from Nepal and India embark on a multi-week journey to the 22,000-foot Mount Kailash in the Himalayas and nearby Lake Mapam Yutso, known in India as Lake Mansarovar. The trip, a once-in-a-lifetime event for most who make it, includes treacherous off-road drives and several days of arduous trekking.

This year, though, the Chinese government is refusing to grant any visas for travel to the Tibetan sites from Nepal, tour operators in Nepal say. India’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the Chinese government had cited unspecified “domestic reasons.” At the same time, Beijing has retracted permission previously granted to Indian pilgrims who were planning to make the trip in early June (HPI note: via the extremely arduous route from India).

“I was planning for the last 10 years for this trip,” said Rajendra Goyal, 48, a Mumbai-based hardware trader whose trip has been canceled. Mr. Goyal said he was on a rigorous diet and exercise schedule for the last two months to make sure he was fit for the mountain hiking involved. “A pilgrim is a pilgrim, not an activist or a politician,” he said. “I am going there for religious faith, not to do any violence.”

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Hanuman Temple in Karachi Set for Facelift

KARACHI, PAKISTAN, APril 17, 2008: One of Pakistan’s most revered Hindu shrines, a centuries-old Hanuman temple in this southern port city, is set to be renovated thanks to the efforts of the community. The aesthetically designed Shri Panch Mukhi Hanuman temple is a heritage landmark of Karachi with to its unique five-headed statue of Lord Hanuman, an ancient murti.

The government has not extended help for the renovation, and representatives of the temple’s management said the work will be done with contributions made by the Hindu community. “Over the past few years, the number of devotees has increased and so we need to expand the temple. Moreover, the structure of the temple is becoming weaker” said Pawan Kumar Perchani, the advisor to the priest.

According to Hindu belief, Lord Hanuman evolved a form with five heads and ten arms to combat powerful evil forces and rescue Lord Ram and Lord Laxman from the clutches of demons during the Ramayana war.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Proud Vegetarians, in Costume, Take to the Streets
By Cara Buckley for The New York Times on 21 May 2008

There was a parade on Sunday that brought all manner of people who love flora and defend fauna to the city’s streets. It took place in downtown Manhattan and organizers called it Veggie Pride.

The festivities began at noon in the meatpacking district — get it? — and drew about 600 people and at least one vegan dog — Simba, a tofu-fed black Labrador retriever. Some people dressed up as bananas, or heads of broccoli, or pigs or bloodied cows. A police officer, Jim Alberici, who was helping with crowd control, said he did not expect any violence. “Not unless someone shows up dressed as a meat processor,” he said.

No one did.

The parade’s participants wended their way peacefully through Greenwich Village to Washington Square Park, led by a seven-foot-tall pea pod and an outsize carrot, who would later marry onstage in a faux ceremony. A giant pink replica of a human colon, replete with polyps and a sullied colostomy bag, brought up the rear.

“The worst part was Googling images of colons on the Internet,” said the colon’s maker, Dan Piraro, who is also a nationally syndicated cartoonist. He made the colon out of pink netting, plastic ties, bamboo sticks, cardboard, packing material, paint and hot glue, and three people were needed to hold it aloft. Mr. Piraro’s point, of course, was that meat can be harsh on the large intestine.

The parade was the brainchild of Pamela Rice, the author of a widely distributed pamphlet, “101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian.” She was inspired by a similar parade held annually in Paris, and was also driven by the sense that the time for vegetarian pride was nigh. After all, she said, awareness about animal cruelty and the environmental perils of factory farming is spreading, as is the widening realization of the health hazards of meat.

Too often, Ms. Rice said, vegetarianism had been overshadowed by other causes.

“Today’s our day; we wanted to stand apart,” Ms. Rice said. “Apart from the yoga people. Apart from the New Age people. It’s just us today. We usually get the short shrift.”

The parade drew advocates from the United Poultry Concerns (“Dedicated to the Compassionate and Respectful Treatment Of Domestic Fowl”) and the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and members of the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Organization, a spiritual and avowedly vegetarian group. It drew Roni Shapiro, who runs a vegan meal delivery service in Woodstock, N.Y. Ms. Shapiro dressed up as a pig and carried a sign that read, “No I don’t have any spare ribs.” And it drew Rick Panson, who grows “sprouted foods” and showed up wearing a large thatch of wheat grass on his head.

“I’ll juice it later,” Mr. Panson said.

Also in attendance was Bernard Goetz, who embraced vegetarianism around 20 years ago, after he became known as a vigilante for shooting four youths he believed were intent on robbing him on a Seventh Avenue express train in 1984.

Mr. Goetz said he lamented people’s “distant, shallow and bad” attitudes toward animals. “The world is a deader place because of mankind’s relationship with animals,” he said.

Though it was a parade for vegetarians and vegans, some meat eaters quietly joined the ranks. Victoria and Edward Feltz of Hamilton, N.J., walked in the parade with their children, Noah, 1, and Autumn, 3, who were in a double stroller that was strewn with pro-vegetarian signs. “Be kind to little critters,” read one. But while Ms. Feltz is a devout vegetarian, Mr. Feltz is not, and the children eat meat, too. “We fight about it every day,” Ms. Feltz said sadly. Mr. Feltz conceded that he struggled with the animal cruelty issues involved in eating meat. “I’ve given it up for Lent,” he said, a hangdog expression on his face.

Another couple, Lisa Melian and Matt Belluardo, dressed up as bloodied cows, and carried signs that read, “We all bleed red.” Secretly, however, Mr. Belluardo is an omnivore.

“I’m vegan,” said Ms. Melian. “He’s here for support.”

The parade arrived at Washington Square Park about 1 p.m. Vegan jerky sticks were passed about, and a costume competition was held. One of the winners was Bex Vargas, an artist who lives in Queens and was dressed as a head of broccoli. Ms. Vargas, 26, had brought the costume in a bag. Once offstage, she admitted that she was exhausted and yearned to go home, but feared that her costume would invite harassment on the subway. “I don’t know if I’ll even fit through the turnstile,” she said.

Rain began to fall and the crowd started to disperse, yet through the drizzle a long line stretched from Thiru Kumar’s dosa cart, a vegetarian stand that won an award for best street food last year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, business was decidedly thin at Salem Atwah’s hot-dog stand, on the southwest corner or Washington Square South and LaGuardia Place. Rarely, Mr. Atwah said, had he sold so few hot dogs.

“It’s because of the vegetarians,” he said. “It’s one of my worst days in four years.”

“Om Namah Jesus” Resounds in India’s Catholic Churches

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 8, 2008: Om Namah Jesus could well reverberate inside hundreds of Catholic churches in India very soon, if the changing physical face of these places of worship is anything to go by. The Vatican-blessed process of enculturation being implemented by the 168 Catholic dioceses in India has already seen Jesus acquiring the form of a Hindu sage, St John the Baptist with a kamandalu, grottos in the shape of conch shells, and a church in Bangalore that can easily be mistaken for a temple. Enculturation, broadly speaking, is the indigenization of the Church through the process of assimilating local culture and symbols in construction, layout, interior design, furniture and religious fixtures. So far, around 45 churches across the country have been wholly or partially inculturated.

“Initially, there was a lot of opposition to this from conservative elements in the Church. For them, any dilution of the European element in church construction, or in the murals depicting scenes from the Bible where all the people look European, or in statues or church articles, was totally unacceptable. That has slowly changed with the growing realization that the Church has to incarnate the Gospel in the culture in which it is being preached,” a senior priest from the Archdiocese of Calcutta told Outlook on condition of anonymity.

HPI note: Inculturation dates back to the Jesuit Roberto de Nobili who arrived in Goa in 1605 and proceeded to present himself as some kind of brahmin priest, complete with sacred thread, white dhoti and hair tuft. He claimed the three-strand thread represented the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Bede Griffiths continued this deceptive approach when he came to India in the 1950s, presenting himself in the orange robes of a Hindu sannyasin or monk, constructing a church that looked like a temple and performing a mass in the manner of a puja.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Music Lowers Blood Pressure, Researchers Say

HOUSTON, TEXAS, May 16, 2008: Just breathe slowly, turn on some quiet, slow rhythmic music and watch your blood pressure tumble drastically. According to researchers at the American Society of Hypertension’s 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition (ASH 2008), patients with mild hypertension who listened to just half an hour of classical, Celtic or raga music a day for four weeks experienced significant reductions in 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (ABP).

“Listening to music is soothing and has often been associated with controlling patient-reported pain or anxiety and acutely reducing blood pressure,” said study investigator, Prof Pietro A Modesti, Professor of Internal Medicine in the University of Florence in Italy. “But for the first time, today’s results clearly illustrate the impact daily music listening has on ABP. We are excited about the positive implications for both patients and physicians, who can now confidently explore music listening as a safe, effective, non-pharmacological treatment option or a complement to therapy.”

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Watch What You’re Buying…
May 21st, 2008 Editor

 An NHS hospital is handing over new mothers’ placentas for use in the development of anti-wrinkle skin creams and luxury shampoo.

The trade, which brought in £5,000 for Poole Hospital in Dorset last year, was condemned by politicians and health experts who said they were worried about the ethics involved.

And yesterday one woman, 39-year-old Donna Norman, told of her outrage when she realised that, following the arrival of her daughter Milly, the afterbirth was given to a biochemical company.

“I was under the impression that my placenta would only be used for vital medical research - not that it may help make some skin cream or shampoo,” she said.

“I feel violated by what I have been through. It feels like they stole it because it was all done on false pretences. It’s from my body. It’s my DNA and I feel like they tricked it from me.”

Mrs Norman, who works in publishing, said she was given a complicated medical consent form to sign after giving birth.

“They said my placenta would be used to help cure cancer research,” she recalled. “They didn’t mention anything else. I was elated having just given birth and just signed it.”

Mrs Norman, who also has three boys, feels betrayed by the hospital’s actions. “I would never have signed had I known the truth of what was happening,” she said.

The hospital has harvested mothers’ placentas and sold them to Sigma-Aldrich, a nearby biochemical company, for five years. Sigma-Aldrich extracts the placentas’ valuable proteins, which it sells on to cosmetic scientists.

Its customers include some of the world’s biggest cosmetic companies, but it is impossible to tell exactly which products were developed with material from Poole mothers.

However, the Daily Mail has established that placentas from Poole were used in American research to find a new “anti-ageing” skin cream.

In 2005, biochemist Zoltan Kiss registered a U.S. patent for a chemical compound which he claims “restores and maintains the strength and thickness of ageing skin”.

Professor Kiss says he used Sigma-Aldrich’s human alkaline phosphatase in his work.

A Sigma-Aldrich salesman confirmed that the chemical was “of UK biological origin.”

Once a week, a van makes the four-mile round trip from Sigma-Aldrich’s high-security plant to the hospital to collect up to 70 frozen placentas, all of which have been delivered over the previous seven days.

Poole Hospital: It made £5,000 selling placentas

For the company’s scientists, the placenta is a rich raw material as it contains especially high levels of proteins and enzymes. They are able to extract these and turn them into a total of seven chemical compounds which it offers for sale to laboratories around the world.

Among them are alkaline phosphatase and collagen - a substance widely used to stimulate skin growth and in some cosmetics to combat wrinkles. It is also used in shampoos and conditioners to strengthen hair.

Sigma-Aldrich advertises its human collagen at £1,215 for just half a gram and the placenta plant at Poole last year helped it post global pre-tax profits of £195million.

The practice, which has chilling echoes of the Alder Hey organ removal scandal, led Conservative MP Nadine Dorries to call for stronger regulation.

“It amazes me that a hospital is doing this - I do not think the products of pregnancy should be bought and sold.”

The Royal College of Midwives claimed the practice is “deeply concerning in terms of ethics and morals”.

And Colin Sibley, a foetal development expert, described the hospital’s ethical behaviour as “not good enough”. Professor Sibley, of the University of Manchester, said: “The molecules could be used for cancer research, yes, but they could also be used in any sort of research. The ethics of this, as they are described to me, appear to be inadequate.”

European legislation bans the sale inside Europe of any cosmetic containing human biological elements. But the law does not cover their use in cosmetic research.

Sigma-Aldrich strongly denies that its human placental byproducts are used in the manufacture of any cosmetic products.

But a spokesman conceded the chemicals may be used in the development and testing of cosmetics.

Malcolm Shaw, the firm’s regulatory affairs manager, said: “We sell products purely for research and analytical use. However, they could be used in cosmetic research.”

Yesterday Poole Hospital insisted that the £5,000 it received for its placentas was a “donation” rather than a payment, and the money was used to buy medical equipment.

A spokesman also pointed out that the mothers had signed a special consent form.

However, the form states only that the placentas will be used for “research into…cancer, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease and HIV/AIDS”.

No mention is made of their potential use in cosmetic research - nor are mothers told that both the hospital and Sigma-Aldrich will profit from the trade.

The hospital said it was unaware the placentas could be used for cosmetic reasons.

It added that Sigma-Aldrich had been asked to revise the information on the consent form “and be much more explicit about what the placentas are used for and mention the donation”.

Read more on Reincarnation HERE:

Yudhistira's Wisdom

It is such an amazing phenomenon that it has been immortalized in the Mahabharata. There it is described that while in the forest four of the Pandava brothers died after drinking poisonous water in a lake. When Yudhistira found them he was devastated. Then suddenly a voice came from the sky. It was Yamaraja, who said that if Yudhistira could answer thirteen questions correctly he would bring Yudhistira’s brothers back to life. They were:

Q: Who is the best companion?

A: Steady intelligence is a very good friend who can save one from all dangers.

Q: How can one acquire something very great?

A: By the performance of austerity

Q: What is amrta?

A: Milk is nectar.

Q: What friend is bestowed upon a man by the demigods?

A: The wife.

Q: What is the best of all possessions?

A: Knowledge is one’s most valuable asset.

Q: What is the best happiness?

A: Satisfaction.

Q: When is a sacrifice considered to be dead?

A: A sacrifice is devoid of merit when there are no gifts given in charity to the brahmanas.

Q: Where does one obtain the best of all food?

A: From the cow, because the milk she gives is made into ghee. Ghee is necessary for the performance of sacrifices, and it is sacrifice alone that produces the clouds that make rain fall. It is from rain that the seeds sprout and thus all foods are produced. Therefore, it should be understood that the cow is the root cause of all food.

Q: What is the king of knowledge?

A: The king of education is the attainment of knowledge pertaining to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Q: What is the best bath?

A: The true bath is to wash the mind of all impurities.

Q: Who is condemned to an everlasting hell?

A: When a person calls a poor brahmana promising to give him charity but upon his arrival tells him that he has nothing to offer, such a person goes to an everlasting hell.

Q: Who is truly happy?

A: One who cooks his own food, who is not a debtor, and who does not have to leave home in order to earn his livelihood is actually happy.

Finally Yamaraja asked: What is the most wonderful thing?

Yudhistira reflected for a moment and replied:

ahany ahani bhutani
  gacchantiha yamalayam
sesah sthavaram icchanti
  kim ascaryam atah param

“Every day hundreds of millions of living entities go to the kingdom of death. Still, those who are remaining aspire for a permanent situation.What could be more wonderful than this?”

Bangladeshi Illegal Immigrants Implicated in Jaipur Bomb Attacks
Outraged India set to expel migrants,25197,23718469-25837,00.html

JAIPUR, INDIA, May 19, 2008: Tens of thousands of Bangladeshi migrants were last night earmarked for expulsion from India following the terror bomb blasts in the tourist city of Jaipur, while startling new evidence emerged about the motives behind the jihadi attack. Details of a five-page “manifesto for jihad” were attached to an email from a previously little-known organization calling itself Indian Mujahideen - which claimed responsibility for the Jaipur blasts. Intelligence experts said the email provided unprecedented insight into the motives and objectives of jihadi terrorists who have caused almost 4000 deaths across India in the past four years.

The document that has emerged since the Jaipur bombings chillingly spells out the intention of its authors to “demolish the faith” of the “infidels of India.” It echoes the rhetoric used frequently by Osama bin Laden about India. Significantly, given that the “Pink City” of Jaipur ranks with the Taj Mahal as a magnet for tourists from across the world, the document says that in addition to seeking to “demolish your faith in the dirty mud (Hinduism),” the bombings were carried out to “blow apart your tourism structure.” It warns that Western visitors to India “will be welcomed by our suicide attackers.”

Indian intelligence officials believe the document is authentic. Attached to the document was a photograph with a clearly identifiable serial number, of one of the pushbikes primed with a bomb taken before last Tuesday’s synchronized attacks in which more than 60 people were killed and almost 200 injured.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Meditation Associated With Increased Grey Matter In The Brain

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2005)— Meditation is known to alter resting brain pattterns, suggesting long lasting brain changes, but a new study by researchers from Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows meditation also is associated with increased cortical thickness.

The structural changes were found in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing, the researchers report in the November issue of NeuroReport.

Although the study included only 20 participants, all with extensive training in Buddhist Insight meditation, the results are significant, said Jeremy Gray, assistant professor of psychology at Yale and co-author of the study led by Sara Lazar, assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“What is most fascinating to me is the suggestion that meditation practice can change anyone’s grey matter,” Gray said. “The study participants were people with jobs and families. They just meditated on average 40 minutes each day, you don’t have to be a monk.”

Magnetic resonance imaging showed that regular practice of meditation is associated with increased thickness in a subset of cortical regions related to sensory, auditory, visual and internal perception, such as heart rate or breathing. The researchers also found that regular meditation practice may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex.

“Most of the regions identified in this study were found in the right hemisphere,” the researchers said. “The right hemisphere is essential for sustaining attention, which is a central practice of Insight meditation.”

They said other forms of yoga and meditation likely have a similar impact on cortical structure, although each tradition would be expected to have a slightly different pattern of cortical thickening based on the specific mental exercises involved.

Read more on Chanting Hare Krishna HERE:

Food Vs. Fuel
Ethar Elkatatney
May 06, 2008

Thirty seven countries are facing food crises right now. 21 are in Africa, 10 are in Asia, 5 are in Latin America, and 1 is in Europe. In Egypt, at least 11 people have died queuing for bread. True, it is not the country hit hardest by the food crises, but for Egyptians, bread may just be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Many a smaller issue has acted as a catalyst to a population's smoldering discontent.

Global food prices have risen 73% since 2006. Wheat prices have more than tripled in the past year. Rising oil prices, population growth, a series of droughts and floods, changing eating habits in Asia, and poor agricultural policies are all partially to blame for the price surges. But the biggest scapegoat is ultimately the one with which we have the most control over: biofuels. Billions of dollars have been invested into transforming corn, sugar and soy beans into biofuels to help wean the United States and similar economies from their addiction to fossil fuels.

In 2005, the US passed the Energy Policy Act, which seeks to increase the amount of biofuel that has to be mixed with petrol to 7.5 billion gallons by 2012. The UK has said that by 2010, 5% all UK fuel should come from biofuels. The EU went a step further, setting a target of 10% by 2020.

But are biofuels really the solution? Or are they, as numerous critics have warned, simply usurping arable lands, driving up food prices, and making global warming worse?

Two days ago, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations food adviser, called for a halt on biofuel investment, stating in an interview that "the ambitious goals for biofuel production set by the US and the EU are irresponsible." His predecesser Jean Ziegler was even harsher, saying that transforming wheat and maize crops into biofuel was "absolutely catastrophic," and using arable land for that purpose a "crime against humanity." The resulting rise in food prices has been termed a "silent tsunami" by UN officials, with the World Bank warning that the doubling of food prices over the past three years threatens 100 million of the world's poorest people.

It´s true that in Canada—with oil at $120/ barrel—a savings factor of three on heating costs can be possible if a house is heated by burning grain than by using oil-derived fuel. It´s also true that Americans are concerned with the recession, mortgage payments and the availability of student loans, which no doubt are legitimate concerns.

But wheat prices impact the poor so much more than oil prices impact Americans. If you spend 50% of your income on food and prices double, you are in big trouble. If prices double, the aid you get is halved, and you are in even bigger trouble. The World Food Programme is appealing to donors for an extra $755 million just so it can purchase enough food to meet its global commitment.

Egypt is the only country that calls its bread 'aish, which literally translates as life. Egypt's army is now literally making bread, not war to help solve the crisis, but how sustainable is it to have a nation's army working as bakers?

The U.S. ethanol industry says ethanol — made from wheat and sugar cane — and other biofuels account for just 4% of the price surges. But just one week ago, President Bush said that 15% of world food prices were caused by ethanol, and the US Agriculture Department puts the figure at around 20%.

Regardless of the correct figure, there is no denying that biofuels add fuel to the fire of food prices, though they are not the only reason behind them. The question is, are they really worth it?

Biofuels are touted as a remedy for global warming. But clearing forests for ethanol releases 50-70% more greenhouse gases than the production and use of the equivalent amount of gasoline. 3-5 liters of irrigation water are needed to produce a liter of ethanol, which produces up to 13 liters of waste water. The energy equivalent of 113 liters of natural gas is then needed to treat this waste.

At a press conference on April 29, 2008 Bush admitted that "the truth of the matter is it's in our national interests that our farmers grow energy, as opposed to us purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us."

But the United States supplies 70% of world corn exports; do they not have a responsibility towards the countries they export to?

The food required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a whole year. The food needed to fill that same tank every two weeks for a year will feed 26 people. Approximately 100 million tons of grain—enough to feed 450 million people at a subsistence level—was turned into fuel last year. If the same trend continues, 1.2 billion people could be chronically hungry by 2025—600 million more than predicted.

Feeding people and filling stomachs is more important that feeding cars and filling gas tanks. It´s that simple.

Just some food for thought.

Hindu Council of New Zealand Holds Conference on Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda

WHAKAREWAREWA, ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND, May 23, 2006: His Highness Te Arikinui King Tuheitia, the Maori King, inaugurated the 2nd New Zealand Hindu Conference on 16 May 2008 at the Hindu Heritage Centre, Auckland by lighting the lamp in the traditional Hindu way for the auspicious beginning of the conference. This is an important event for the Hindu community in New Zealand, and also for race relations. King Tuheitia received a traditional Hindu welcome when a young girl, Deepika Magesan, garlanded the distinguished dignitaries. Mr. Haare Williams, the Kaumatua (Maori elder), blessed the occasion with a Maori traditional prayer. This was followed by a Hindu prayer from Swami Vigyananand.

Mr. Rahui Papa, who spoke on behalf of King Tuheitia and his entourage, mentioned the similarities between Maori and Hindu communities. He said, “We are the same family but speak two different languages.” He also spoke about common words such as ‘mana’ which have the same meaning in Maori and Sanskrit. He said this is a good beginning and we need to take it forward, and assured the delegates that all cooperation will be extended to foster inter-community cultural relations. He appreciated the work of the Hindu Council of New Zealand and also congratulated the organization for celebrating Matariki (Maori New Year). He was impressed by the welcome by the Hindu community and told the audience that he felt at home.

The theme of the Conference was “Sustaining New Zealand communities through health benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda.” Mr. Vinod Kumar, the President of the Hindu Council of New Zealand, welcomed all the delegates and enlightened the audience on the work carried out by the organization - strengthening the bond between New Zealand communities; developing the creativity of the youth; and understanding and experiencing the Maori culture. He also briefed delegates about the outcomes of the 1st NZ Hindu conference: Hindu Social Services Foundation, Hindu Elders Foundation and Hindu Youth Foundation. He also explained the purpose of Hindu Heritage Centre and the future plans of the organization.  For more information, e-mail

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Namaste everyone.
Please find attached the conference report, some photos and comments from participants. The theme of the Conference was "Sustaining New Zealand communities through health benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda". We are pleased to inform you that the conference was inaugurated by Maori King Tuheitia.

(See attached file: 2nd NZ Hindu conference_2008 Report.pdf)(See attached file: 2nd NZ Hindu conference_2008 Report photos.pdf)(See attached file: 2nd NZ Hindu conference_Comments by participants.pdf)

With kind regards
Dr Guna Magesan
Conference Coordinator
General Secretary, Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc.

Punjab’s Poisoned Harvests

PUNJAB, INDIA, May 1, 2008: The governments of many poor nations are alarmed at the rise in food prices. There are even problems in the Indian region of Punjab, where science once seemed to have found answers for a hungry world and perhaps India’s immense population. The new strains of seed and chemical pesticides and fertilizers certainly brought high yields. They called it the Green Revolution of India.

But the problem is that the benefit of high yields from new seed types was not long-lasting, and the pests kept ahead of the pesticides. They also have boosted cancer cases.

The cause of cancer is always a contentious issue, but a new study from the Punjabi University at Patiala ruled out other potential factors, concluding that the way the sprays are used is increasingly causing cancer. The local farmers said that they wanted the same agricultural scientists who had given them the high yields of the 1970s to come up with something else. They say that what they are doing now is unsustainable, because they are getting lower yields despite using more spray and paying more for fertilizer due to high oil prices.

READ MORE on Environmental Issues HERE

Vegetarian is the New Prius

USA, May 7, 2008: Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” It turns out that raising animals for food is a primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and not least of all, global warming. It seems that when you step outside and wonder what happened to winter, you might want to think about what you had for dinner last night. The U.N. report says almost a fifth of global warming emissions come from livestock.

It sounds like a lot of bad news, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. It means we have a powerful new weapon to use in addressing the most serious environmental crisis ever to face humanity. Now that we know a greener diet is even more effective than a greener car, we can make a difference at every single meal.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Giant Wrestler Finds Fame in India

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 8, 2008: A giant former laborer from India who has become an international wrestling sensation is now a star in his homeland too. The Atlanta-based Dalip Singh Rana, who is from Himachal Pradesh, stands over 7ft tall and weighs nearly 200kg. Nicknamed the “Great Khali”, Rana is a top draw at the hugely popular World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). With some Hollywood work under his belt, he is now looking at offers from Bollywood.

He is the first Indian to be signed up by WWE, and enjoys top billing in the famous American showbiz circus alongside fighters such as Hulk Hogan and The Rock. “Americans could not imagine someone from India in WWE. They are now actually having a lot of fun,” he says. He briefly wrested the world champion’s mantle in 2007 with a series of superlative performances at WWE.

Rana says he is a vegetarian and abhors alcohol and tobacco. He says he lives a “simple life” with his homemaker wife Harminder Kaur . “I have no fancy villa or cars. I live in a simple home and do not have the money to order a customized car that would fit my size,” he says.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Beef Off the Menu To Avoid Offending Hindus, Says British Airways

LONDON, UK, May 9, 2008: British Airways has taken beef off the menu for economy passengers amid concerns about its “religious restrictions”. BA’s second-biggest long-haul market is to India, where the majority Hindu population do not eat beef because of their beliefs.

The decision to scrap the nation’s favorite fare was described as a “great shame” by the English Beef and Lamb Executive, formerly part of the Meat and Livestock Commission. A spokesman said: “It is regrettable that Britain’s flag carrier is not proposing to serve Britain’s national dish.

The Hindu Council UK said: “The Hindu community will welcome this decision and the news it has been made partly because Hindus don’t eat beef. “Hindus have a great deal of respect for British culture. That said, Hindus are tolerant of the beliefs of others and do not expect everyone to stop eating a food because they do not eat it.”

BA also said that cost is not a reason for the decision to stop serving beef.

Per Capita Income of Brahmins in Karnataka Lowest of All Groups

BANGALORE, INDIA, May 2, 2008: Koota Samaja Organizations Federation, a conglomerate of six associations representing Brahmins from Udupi district and living all over the country has come out with an agenda to help poor Brahmin children with scholarships for pursuing their education.

Mr. Herleru said the per capita income of Christians was US$38.52, Vokkaligas $22.54, Muslims $19.57, Scheduled Castes $16.76, but that of Brahmins was the lowest with $13.23 in the State. [HPI note: Though the original article does not specify, these figures likely refer to monthly income.] He said that 50 per cent of the rickshaw pullers in Patel Nagar of Delhi were Brahmins and 44 per cent of the children from the caste were dropouts at the primary school level and 36 per cent at the high school level.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Vedic World Heritage links:

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How British Misguided the World on Vedic History

The Home Front Diet

During World War II the UK underwent rationing, but the key wasn't the restriction of food but that the aim was to get the country healthy.

However one source of food was not rationed Vegetables.

It is noted that during the war years although there was less of everything the country was at it's healthiest something that is little noted or appreciated, even today with our access to many food products we are considered not to be as healthy as during these years of austerity.

The aim of the government to make the citizens healthy was summed up by Woolton Pie a simple vegetable dish

The Recipe:

1Ib each of diced potatoes, cauliflower, Swedes and carrots; Three or Four spring onions;
One teaspoonful of vegetable extract
One teaspoonful of oatmeal.


Cook all together for ten minutes with just enough water to cover.

Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.

Allow to cool; put into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover with a crust of potatoes or whole meal pastry.

Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely brown

Taking out the onions it actually makes a tasty meal.

Another interesting fact is this that during the war it was illegal to throw away or waste food, this was punishable by a prison term, now look at the unhealthy and wasteful diet we have today. Interesting historical fact that we could learn from.

Finding the Best Way to Cook All Those Vegetables
By Tara Parker-Pope for The New York Times on 21 May 2008

By now, most people know they should be eating more vegetables. But are there ways to get more from the vegetables you already eat?

A growing body of research shows that when it comes to vegetables, it’s not only how much we eat, but how we prepare them, that influences the amount of phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients that enter our body.

The benefits are significant. Numerous studies show that people who consume lots of vegetables have lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, eye problems and even cancer. The latest dietary guidelines call for 5 to 13 servings — that is two and a half to six and a half cups a day. For a person who maintains her weight on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this translates into nine servings, or four and a half cups a day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. But how should they be served?

Surprisingly, raw and plain vegetables are not always best. In The British Journal of Nutrition next month, researchers will report a study involving 198 Germans who strictly adhered to a raw food diet, meaning that 95 percent of their total food intake came from raw food. They had normal levels of vitamin A and relatively high levels of beta carotene.

But they fell short when it came to lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red-pigmented vegetables that is one of the most potent antioxidants. Nearly 80 percent of them had plasma lycopene levels below average.

“There is a misperception that raw foods are always going to be better,” says Steven K. Clinton, a nutrition researcher and professor of internal medicine in the medical oncology division at Ohio State University. “For fruits and vegetables, a lot of times a little bit of cooking and a little bit of processing actually can be helpful.”

The amount and type of nutrients that eventually end up in the vegetables are affected by a number of factors before they reach the plate, including where and how they were grown, processed and stored before being bought. Then, it’s up to you. No single cooking or preparation method is best. Water-soluble nutrients like vitamins C and B and a group of nutrients called polyphenolics are often lost in processing. For instance, studies show that after six months, frozen cherries have lost as much as 50 percent of anthocyanins, the healthful compounds found in the pigment of red and blue fruits and vegetables. Fresh spinach loses 64 percent of its vitamin C after cooking. Canned peas and carrots lose 85 percent to 95 percent of their vitamin C, according to data compiled by the University of California, Davis.

Fat-soluble compounds like vitamins A, D, E and K and the antioxidant compounds called carotenoids are less likely to leach out in water. Cooking also breaks down the thick cell walls of plants, releasing the contents for the body to use. That is why processed tomato products have higher lycopene content than fresh tomatoes.

In January, a report in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry concluded that over all, boiling was better for carrots, zucchini and broccoli than steaming, frying or serving them raw. Frying was by far the worst..

Still, there were tradeoffs. Boiling carrots, for instance, significantly increased measurable carotenoid levels, but resulted in the complete loss of polyphenols compared with raw carrots.

That report did not look at the effects of microwaving, but a March 2007 study in The Journal of Food Science looked at the effects of boiling, steaming, microwaving and pressure cooking on the nutrients in broccoli. Steaming and boiling caused a 22 percent to 34 percent loss of vitamin C. Microwaved and pressure-cooked vegetables retained 90 percent of their vitamin C.

What accompanies the vegetables can also be important. Studies at Ohio State measured blood levels of subjects who ate servings of salsa and salads. When the salsa or salad was served with fat-rich avocados or full-fat salad dressing, the diners absorbed as much as 4 times more lycopene, 7 times more lutein and 18 times the beta carotene than those who had their vegetables plain or with low-fat dressing.

Fat can also improve the taste of vegetables, meaning that people will eat more of them. This month, The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported on 1,500 teenagers interviewed in high school and about four years later on their eating habits. In the teenage years, many factors influenced the intake of fruits and vegetables. By the time the study subjects were 20, the sole factor that influenced fruit and vegetable consumption was taste. Young adults were not eating vegetables simply because they didn’t like the taste.

“Putting on things that make it taste better — spices, a little salt — can enhance your eating experience and make the food taste better, so you’re more likely to eat vegetables more often,” Dr. Clinton said.

Because nutrient content and taste can vary so widely depending on the cooking method and how a vegetable is prepared, the main lesson is to eat a variety of vegetables prepared in a variety of ways.

As Susan B. Roberts, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition, put it, “Eating a variety of veggies is especially important so you like them enough to eat more.”

See our World Vegetarian Day Newsletters 2004 - 2005 - World Vege Day

See similar articles at Vegetarianism & beyond:


There is a story told by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur called the nengti pancho.  In a village, there was a very prominent village leader.  But naturally, because of village politics there were a few people who were envious of him.  These envious people would always find some reason to criticize him.  This leader had a son whose name was Panchanan.  When Panchanan was a little child, about four years old, he loved to run around the village naked, so he had the nickname nengti pancho, which means naked Pancho, because he would run around naked with just a thread around his waist.  Everyone called, "Nengti Pancho, come here, come here!"  He grew up and later he got into the secondary school and he stood number one in his whole class.  And people said, "Oh, this is Panchanan, he is a very good student, he is number one in the state wide examination!"  But the village anti-party leaders said, Ah, how can he be number one?  He was in our village, nengti pancho, naked kid running around.  You are telling us the kid is number one?"  Then he went to university, and got high grades.  Then he got his law degree and became established in the bar as a first class advocate.  Then some people said, "Look at this!  Panchanan has become a first class advocate.  He is a barrister."  And the envious said, "Ah, how can he get such a degree?  He must have cheated in his exams."  Then finally he got promoted to the bench and he became the Chief Justice of the High Court.  Some people said, "Look!  It's that Panchanan, now he is the Chief Justice!"  And the envious said, "Him?  Oh!  He was running around naked in our village, nengti pancho!  How can he be a Chief Justice?
Even if he is, he may not be getting his monthly salary.  He is not qualified!"  So it became so ridiculous that the envious people still remembered the four year old naked boy playing in the mud.

MORAL:  In the Vedas this is called nagna-martrka-nyaya, naked mother logic.

See similar inspirational snippets HERE:

The phaomnneil pweor of the hmuan mnid: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig!
Mybae the I can sotp slpel ckchenig?


Written by HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami

Dear Maharaj/ Prabujis/ Matajis,

It is my great pleasure to inform all the devotees of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that a great service opportunity has been offered by the temple authorities of Gambhira, in Puri dham, where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent the final years of His manifested pastimes on this earthly planet. Kasi Mishra's house, also known as Gambhira, and the Radha Kanta math, were both under the care of the Orissa government due to 20 years of litigation. Finally, this litigation problem has been resolved and the management of the institution has been returned to the temple mahanta.

The temple has sustained much damage over the years due to lack of proper maintenance. The whole place is very dirty and the roofs and walls are falling down. The temple roof is also cracking. Additionally, the temple has a lack of proper income for the maintenance of the devotees and for deity puja—and, of course, the more the Gambhira is allowed to deteriorate, the fewer visitors it will have.

At this crucial point, the mahanta of Gambhira has requested ISKCON to extend kind assistence to him in order to protect and maintain this most holy place. Devotees from all over the world come to offer their prayers and obeisances at Gambhira. This is one of the most important places for the followers of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and must be maintained nicely.

Thus, this is a golden opportunity for devotees to render service to this most sacred cause. I request all devotees to kindly donate towards this purpose. There are many things to be fixed at the place. For the time being we have prepared a rough budget, for whatever the most urgent needs are, just to bring the situation up to  survival position. Later on, we will let you know about further opportunities for service in the development of the Gambhira.

For further information contact

Bhakti Purusottama Swami

Phone: ++ 91 9434506434

E mail:

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