last updated 1st March 2011

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11th October 2010

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

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

Read HERE how the original issue began in Kazakstan

Read HERE what the previous articles from November 2006 were

Iskcon Kazakstan



Russia allocates land for construction of Krishna temple

MOSCOW: Russian authorities have allocated land for the construction of a Krishna temple in the northern suburb of the capital amid strong demands for it by the Hindu community for many years.

"Last week Moscow's acting mayor Vladimir Resin has signed the government decision to allocate the plot of land measuring 2 hectares on the Novoskhdnenskoye Highway in village Vereskino to Moscow Society of Krishna Conscious (MOSKCON) for building the temple," an unnamed City Hall source was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Under the government resolution the MOSKON is to finalise the project and obtain permission for building the Krishna temple in 2011.

Followers of Lord Krishna and growing Hindu community for many years had been seeking the plot for building a temple and a plot already allocated was taken away due to protest by the Orthodox Christian Church, which objected to the plans to build a Krishna temple higher than the Kremlin churches.

Read more: Russia allocates land for construction of Krishna temple - The Times
of India

Gods and Goddesses of Vedic Culture, By Stephen Knapp

A Quick Guide to the Primary Divinities of Sanatana-Dharma

One of the most confusing topics to people who are new or unfamiliar with the Vedic tradition is the number of Gods there seems to be within it. This is not really so difficult to understand. So here is a quick guide with brief descriptions that may help to bring some clarity to how they fit into the scheme of things.

One point to understand is that some sages think the Absolute is an impersonal force, the great effulgent Brahman, and that all the Gods are but different manifestations of that Brahman. In this case, all the Vedic Gods are equal in that they are but various aspects of the same Brahman. Other sages see that the Absolute is indeed a personal but unfathomable Supreme Being who reigns above all, the source of all, and from whom everything else manifests. (For further insights into this you can read the article God is Both Personal (Bhagavan) and Impersonal (Brahman) on this website.)

In the latter case, all the Vedic Gods have specific positions and purposes in the administration and maintenance of the material creation, in which case they hold various powers from the Supreme and fulfill certain functions on behalf of the Supreme Being, similar to the way assorted executives in a company carry out the orders of the Chief Executive Officer. Thus, these demigods are worshiped for attaining particular results or facilities while we live and progress in this life. Thus, one can worship the Supreme Being, knowing full well that everything and all blessings ultimately come from Him, as well as respect the other demigods for assistance in living in this world. Therefore, here are the descriptions of the purposes and functions of the primary Divinities of the Dharmic tradition.

The descriptions are short excerpts from articles on this website, and from the book by Stephen Knapp called The Heart of Hinduism, which has a full elaboration on the pantheon of Divinities of the Vedic tradition.

Lord Sri Krishna

Lord Krishna is one of the most revered and honored of all the Dharmic Gods. As it is explained and concluded in a variety of Vedic texts, Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In other words, as it is said in Sanskrit, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28) Krishna is the source of all other incarnations and forms of God. He is the ultimate and end of all Truth and philosophical enquiry, the goal or end result of Vedanta. He is the all-attractive personality and source of all pleasure for which we are always hankering. He is the origin from which everything else manifests. He is the unlimited source of all power, wealth, fame, beauty, wisdom, and renunciation. Thus, no one is greater than Him. Since Krishna is the source of all living beings, He is also considered the Supreme Father and source of all worlds. He is shown with a blue or blackish complexion. This represents absolute, pure consciousness, which also is unconditional love. Krishna is the embodiment of love. He is also sat-chit-ananda vigraha, which means the form of eternal knowledge and bliss. Thus, Krishna devotees make Him, along with His consort Srimati Radharani, their life and soul. [Much more can be learned about Lord Krishna in the ebook "Sri Krishna" on this website.

Lord Sri Vishnu

Lord Vishnu is the all-pervasive Lord who expands into everything. He is the maintainer of the universe and the complete cosmic creation. He is called Vishnu because He overcomes all. He represents sattva-guna, or the mode of goodness by which everything is sustained. He is also called Narayana, which means the shelter, resting place, or ultimate goal of all living entities. It also means the one whose abode is the causal waters (Karana Ocean), and one who lives in the hearts of all living beings. It is this sattva nature which gives the living beings the tendency to grow toward a higher truth, the light, a more cohesive and intense reality. In this sense, Lord Vishnu is also called Hari, or one who removes the darkness of illusion. This illusion ultimately means the idea that the living beings live separate from, or without connection to the Lord. Though many consider Vishnu the direct source of all avataras of the Lord who appear in this world, He is considered an expansion from Lord Krishna, and the doorway through whom all of the Lord's avataras appear in this material world. More can be understood about Him in the article "Lord Vishnu" on this website. You can also read about the various avataras of the Lord in our article The Avataras of God.

Lord Satyanarayan

Lord Satyanarayana is Lord Vishnu Himself as the avatara of Satya (truth). He is worshiped especially by householders and friends in numerous temples, particularly on the full moon night of the month, and during the holy day known as Lakshmipuja, the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu's divine consort.

Lord Rama

Lord Rama, also known as Ramachandra, is one of the most popular of the Vedic Gods, and the central figure of the classic Ramayana. He is the 7th avatara and also known as Raghava, Rajarama, Raghupati, etc. The Ramayana has played a most significant part of the Vedic culture, and relates the story of Lord Rama and His wife Sita. You can read a shortened version of this in the article on our website, called The Ramayana Summarized.

Srila Vyasadeva

Srila Vyasadeva is an example of one of the expansions of the Lord, an avatara, who appeared as the great sage, also known as VedaVyasa, who divided the four Vedas into its many parts and divisions for the benefit of the people so they could study and understand it. You can read more about Him in the article Srila Vyasadeva on this website.

Lord Brahma

Lord Brahma is the secondary engineer of the universe. He appeared from the expansion of Lord Vishnu who first appeared within this universe, known as Karanadakashayi Vishnu, Vishnu who rests on the Karana Ocean within this universe. Brahma is also known as Svyambhu, or the self-manifested one, He has four heads which represent the four Vedas, the four Yugas of time, and the four directions. He is also part of the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are the Gods of creation, maintenance and destruction.

Lord Shiva

We can find characteristics of Lord Shiva described in numerous texts. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.2.2), for example, states that Lord Shiva is the spiritual master of the entire world. He is a peaceful personality, free from enmity, always satisfied in himself. He is the greatest among all the demigods. He is the spiritual master of the world by showing how to worship the Supreme. He is considered the best of all devotees. Therefore, he has his own spiritual line or sampradaya called the Rudra-sampradaya that comes directly from him. These days it is also found in the Vishnusvami-sampradaya, or the Vallabha-sampradaya.

Shiva is also described as the most powerful, second only to Lord Vishnu. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.22-28) In this way, he is not the Supreme, but is almost as powerful. Although he has nothing to attain in this material world, he is always engaged for the benefit of everyone in this universe, and is accompanied by his material and dangerous energies like goddess Kali and goddess Durga. Sometimes we see pictures of a fierce form of Kali standing with one foot on the body of Shiva. This is because Shiva sometimes has to lie down in front of her to pacify her from killing all the demoniac people in the world. In this way, Shiva controls the material energy. Lord Shiva is also in control of the destructive energy, tamo-guna, the mode of darkness, and is assisted by Kali and Durga in this purpose.

It is also said that Shiva’s drum represents srishti, the creation; the abhaya hand (giving blessings) represents sthiti, or preservation; his foot that presses down symbolizes tirobhava, or the veiling effect; and the uplifted foot means blessings (anugraha), especially toward seeing through the veil of illusion caused by ego. When he is shown with an axe, it represents samhara, destruction. Shiva worshipers are Shaivites. Much more can be learned about Lord Shiva in our ebook on this website called, Shiva and Durga: Their Real Identity.

Goddess Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi is the consort and shakti, or potency, of Lord Vishnu. Lakshmi, or Sri when she is especially known as the goddess of beauty (though sometimes considered to be separate entities), is the Goddess of fortune, wealth, power, and loveliness. Wealth means not only money, but also the higher values and qualities of life. The power of the mind and intellect is also a must if one wants to be truly wealthy, which includes spiritual wealth. These are prerequisites to attaining spiritual knowledge. This is why Lakshmi is worshiped in the second set of three days during the Navaratri festival before the worship of Sarasvati.

As the spouse of Lord Vishnu, she appears whenever He does in each of His appearances, such as Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, or Krishna. In each of these appearances, she appeared as Padma or Kamala, Dharani, Sita, and Rukmini respectively. They are inseparable.

Lakshmi is also known in Her other eight forms as Veera, Adhi, Gaja, Vijaya, Dhana, Aiswarya, Santhan, and Dhanya. The Goddess known as MahaLakshmi is actually an aspect of Durga and not Lakshmi. More can be learned about Lakshmidevi in our article Lakshmi, The Goddess of Fortune.

Goddess Sarasvati

The literal meaning of the name Sarasvati is the one who gives the essential knowledge (Sara) of our own Self (Sva). The goddess Sarasvati is also considered the Goddess of Learning, or of education, intelligence, crafts, arts, and skills. As she is the consort of Brahma, who is considered the source of all knowledge, Sarasvati is knowledge itself. Thus, many students or even scholars may worship her for her blessings. She is, therefore, depicted as white in complexion, and quite beautiful and graceful. She is also called Savitri (daughter of the Sun), Brahmi (wife of Bramha), Sharada (giver of essence), Vagishvari (mistress of speech), Mahavidya (knowledge supreme), and Vach. You can learn more about Goddess Sarasvati in our article Sarasvati, The Goddess of Learning.

Goddess Durga

Worship of the Goddess goes back at least 4000 years in India, and further back to the Vedic times. Durga is the Goddess of the universe, and Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva, is a form of Durga. She is the power of knowledge, wisdom and memory. She has up to 64 different forms, with different names for each form. Each form represents a different pastime, power, or aspect of the Goddess. Some of the names of these forms of Durga are Amba or Ambika, Bhadra, Bhadrakali, Aryadurga, Vedagarbha, Kshemakshemakari, Naikabahu, Bhagavati, Katyayani, Meenakshi, Rajarajeshvari, Kali, Devi, and others, such as Sati, which means chastity. Thus, these are all different aspects of the same goddess. In her gentle aspects she is worshiped as Kanya, Kamakshi, or Mukamba. Uma (Parvati) is the maiden name for the consort of Lord Shiva. She represents matter (prakriti). Shiva is the god of destruction, which has no meaning without objects to destroy. Thus, he is paired with Uma.

Durga is often pictured as a beautiful woman in red cloth. She has either four, eight, ten, eighteen or twenty hands and three eyes. Items in her hands can include a conch, disc, trident, bow, arrow, sword, dagger, shield, rosary, wine cup, and bell, all of which represent her various powers. She may also be standing on a lotus or riding a lion. The lion represents power, but also the animal tendency of greed for food and other sensual objects. Her riding on the lion represents that she keeps all such tendencies under complete control. You can learn more about Durga and Parvati in the ebook Shiva and Durga: Their Real Identity.

Goddess Parvati

Parvati is also the wife of Lord Shiva, known as the daughter of Himavan and Mena. Durga is a different aspect of Parvati. She is also known as Lord Vishnu's sister. She was Daksayani in her first incarnation as the daughter of the great sage Daksha and Prasuti. She is also called Haimavati, Girija, Rudrani (connected with Shiva as Rudra), Aparna, Sharvani, Uma, Mridani, and Gauri.

Lord Ganesh

Ganesh is known as the Lord of thresholds or entrances into new dimensions. So it is not unusual, especially in India, that as we enter a new space or house we may see an image of Ganesh above the door or nearby to give blessings to those who enter. Thus, he is also the guardian of the doorways. This is the case in many Vedic temples. As we enter the temple, we first see a deity of Ganesh to whom we pray for blessings and the removal of obstacles in our devotion or the rituals that we do inside the temple.

Ganesh is also considered the Lord of astrology. He is said to know the language of the stars and the destinies of every living being. Thus, astrologers also petition Ganesh to pen such knowledge to them.

Ganesh is also said to be the writer of the scriptures. (Mahabharata 1.1.77) He accepted the position of being Vyasadeva’s scribe and wrote the Mahabharata and Srimad-Bhagavatam as it was dictated by Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of the major portions of the Vedic texts. You can see the cave where this is said to have happened at Mana, near the holy place of Badrinatha (Badarikashrama). For this reason the ancient Brahmana texts also describe him as the god of learning.

His other names include Ganesh (related to the word gana), Vinayaka (a name familiar in South India, meaning great leader), Vighneshvara (the remover of obstacles), Gajanana (elephant-faced), Gajadhipa (lord of elephants), and Jyeshtha-raja (King of the elders).

Ganesh is said to have two wives or Shaktis named Siddhi (success) and Riddhi (prosperity). Thus, if anyone pleases Lord Ganesh with nice prayers or worship, the person also attains the company or blessings of the wives of Lord Ganesh. However, if used improperly, success and prosperity can be distractions on the path toward the goal of spiritual wisdom.

The most prominent characteristic of Lord Ganesh is that he has the head of an elephant. How Lord Ganesh got an elephant’s head is related in several places in the Vedic texts. There may be a few different versions, but the general way in which it is accepted relates as follows: Once when Lord Shiva’s wife, Parvati, was going to bathe in the forest, she wanted someone to guard the area. Some references say she was going to bathe in her house. She then rubbed her skin so she was able to gather the substance from which she could form and cause the birth of a son. When he came to life, she ordered him to let no one into the area while she was bathing. However, Lord Shiva came after a long absence and wanted in, but was blocked by Ganesh. Lord Shiva did not recognize the boy as his son, nor did Ganesh realize Shiva was his father, and they began to fight. Ganesh lost the battle with his head being cut off. When Parvati entered the scene and saw what had happened, she was so upset that Shiva, after understanding the situation, devised the means to revive his son. He went to find the nearest living entity he saw, which happened to be an elephant. He took the head and attached it to his son’s body, after which he was revived. Thus, Ganesh has the head of an elephant. (Much more information is supplied in the book The Heart of Hinduism.)

Lord Subrahmaniya (Murugan)

Lord Murugan is usually portrayed sitting on his carrier, which is a peacock called Paravani, with one head and two arms, or sometimes as Subramaniya with six heads and twelve arms. Dressed in red, he also holds his brilliant lance, which represents wisdom and intelligence, and destroys the darkness of ignorance, symbolized by the demons he kills. His additional hands hold a bow, arrows, a sword, thunderbolt, and ax, all which indicate his powers. His emblem is the fowl or rooster and his fiery banner flames high above his chariot. He is another son of Shiva and Parvati, and, thus, the brother of Ganesh.

The esoteric meaning behind the image of Murugan is that he represents the complete yogic control of preserving the semen. If this control is not attained, then the mind is always stifled by sensual desires, which means that the child, or the power of youth in the form of Kumara, is never born, and thus the demons take control over the gods. This signifies that only by allowing the seed to rise up through the yogic sushumna channel into the vani-mukha or fire center in the sixth chakra, can the yogi become master of his tendencies and impulses. (There is also an old Egyptian saying that only by preserving one’s semen can one communicate with the gods.) Only then can Skanda, or the inner strength or power, be born. Such a master can use his sexual powers for mental clarity, discernment, stamina, and spiritual progress. Lasting youth is also connected with the practice of preserving one’s seed, which is represented by Murugan’s peacock, which is his carrier.

Subrahmaniya is also known as Skanda, Guha, Saktidhara, Tarakari, Kumara, Sanatkumara, Gangeya, Shanmukha, Shivakumara, and Karttikeya. His two consorts or Shaktis are Valli (power of Will) and Devasena. (Much more information is supplied in the book The Heart of Hinduism.)

Lord Buddha

Buddha is considered the 9th avatara of Vishnu. His name means the enlightened one. He was Prince Siddhartha of the Shakya clan, born in Lumbini, now in Nepal. He is also known as Shakyamuni Buddha, Gautama, Buddha and Tathgata. You can read more about him in the article Buddhism and Its Vedic Connections.


Hanuman is not necessarily one of the Vedic gods, but is honored like one for having been the most dedicated devotee of Lord Rama. He is the son of the wind god, Vayu, and, thus, has superhuman powers which he uses for good and in his service to Lord Rama and Sita. He is also known as Maruti and Anjaneya after his mother, Anjana. Devotees pray to Hanuman for the blessings of increased devotion to the Lord. You can read more about him in The Ramayana Summarized.

Goddess Gayatri

Gayatri is the goddess that is the personification of the sacred Gayatri mantra, which is chanted three times a day. She shares that with the goddesses Savitri and Sarasvati. Gayatri has four or five faces, and four or ten arms and rides a swan. She presides over the morning chanting of the prayer, and also over the Rig-veda and the sacred fires called the Garhapatya. These were the sacred fires that the three varnas known as the brahmanas, kshatriyas, and vaishyas were meant to keep in their homes for the performance of sacred rituals. Then Goddess Savitri presides over the noon chanting of the prayer. She has four faces with twelve eyes, four arms, and has a bull for a carrier. She also rules over the Yajur-veda and the Dakshina fire, while Sarasvati rules over the evening rendition of the prayer and the Sama-veda.

Gayatri is also known as Veda-Mata, or the mother of all the Vedas. She is also another consort of Lord Brahma, being given to him in the form of the mantra by Lord Vishnu to attain the wisdom he needed to understand how to begin his portion of the creation of the universe.

Other Divinities
The Adityas are the personifications or the embodiment of the universal laws. They regulate the behavior of humans among themselves in conjunction with the natural forces. The Adityas are the twelve sons of Aditi, wife of Kashyapa. Their dynasty is described in the Bhagavata Purana, which includes descendants that were great personalities and additional minor demigods.

There are twelve Adityas listed in the later Vedic literature, such as the Shatapatha Brahmana, while the Rig-veda lists six, and eight are listed in other Brahmanas. The names are: Amsha (one who is munificent), Aryaman (one who eliminates foes), Bhaga (one who bestows), Daksha (one who is skilled in ritual and magic), Mitra (friend), Pushan (one who nurtures), Savitri (one who activates), Shakra (the forceful), Tvashtri (one who designs), Varuna (he who surrounds or restrains), Vishnu (the omniscient maintainer) and Vivasvat (or Vivsvan, the brilliant, or the sun, Surya). In the same order, these also refer to the universal principles known as: the share given by the gods, chivalry and honor, that which is inherited, skill in ritual, solidarity in friendship, prosperity, the potency in language, courage, skill in crafts, laws of providence as directed by the gods, universal law, and morality and social order.

The name Aditya also refers to the sun. And the Adityas together are considered the eternal gods of light, or the beings that manifest luminous life throughout the universe. They are also connected to the aspects of the sun divided into the annual twelve months, or the twelve spokes of the wheel of time.

Agni is the fire-god, referred in the Rig-veda. He is the god who accepts the offerings in the ancient fire yajnas, or rituals, and carries them to the appropriate gods. His two consorts, Svaha and Svadha, accompany him at his sides. The ram is his carrier, while smoke is his flag. At times he is viewed riding a chariot, in which case it is drawn by red horses, and the seven winds are the wheels. He is also called other names according to his qualities, such as: Jvalana (burning), Pavaka (purifier), Vibhavasu (abundant in light), Chitrabhanu (multicolored), Bhuritejas (resplendent), Shikhin (flaming), Plavanga (flickering), and others.

Indra is known as the King of Heaven, and thus the king of the celestial gods. Along with Agni, he is the main deity of the Rig-veda and is described in many exploits. Indra is considered the controller of rain and lightning, and is also worshiped when there is a need for such. Indra is the power of the thunderbolt, and is a friend to Vayu, the wind god. They work together. Also, it is Agni, Indra and Surya who represent the three forms of fire in its earthly state, its electrical charge, and the sun globe.

Varuna is an ancient Vedic deity. He is associated with the rivers and ocean, as well as the clouds and water in general. He is the lord of the oceans and aquatics. He rules over the rivers and their spirit beings, as well as the serpent gods called the nagas. It is considered that those who drown go to him. He also can ward off any bad effects related to water.

Vayu is known as the wind-god and is connected with the Prana (the life airs in the body). He is also considered a lord of the sky (antariksha). The name Vayu comes from the root, va, which means to blow. He is seen as riding a chariot, which roars as he travels, announcing his presence.

Yama, or Yamaraja, is the god of death and the spirits of the departed. The word yama means to arrest or restrain. He is also called Dharmaraja, or the king of Dharma, the principles of duty and law upon which the world is supported. This law is what gives balance to society. Within the hall of judgment (kalchi) he sits on his throne (vicharabhu) and gives the judgment of rewards or punishments to all who have died, and sends them to the appropriate abodes for the results of their life’s actions.

The Navagrahas are the nine planets. They are viewed as astrological influences that can be understood and even stifled or amplified with proper rituals, amulets, yantras, gemstones, etc. They are divided into two parts, the auspicious and inauspicious. The first group consists of Ravi or Surya (the sun), Soma or Chandra (moon), Budha (Mercury), Shukra (Venus), Mangala, Kuja or Angaraka (Mars), and Brihashpati or Guru (Jupiter). The inauspicious planets are Shani (Saturn), Rahu (the ascending node of the moon), and Ketu (the descending node of the moon). Planet Earth is called Bhumi.

Surya the sun-god. Among all the Navagrahas, Surya is the most important. He is always placed in the center of the other planets since he is like the center of creation. He is the nearest and most easily recognized form of divinity, the visible source and cause of life, and thus accepted as a form or representation of the Supreme God. He is also accepted as the all-seeing eye of the Supreme. It is through his rays that he puts life into all beings. However, he also gives death. He perpetually creates, supports and then destroys all life. He is also called Aditya since he is a source of the world. He has many other names that relate to his abilities and character. A few are Aharpati (lord of the day), Jagatchakshus (eye of the universe), Karmasakshin (witness of actions), Graharajan (king of planets), Sahasrakirana (one with a thousand rays), Dyumani (jewel of the sky), and others.

In addition to the above information, to understand the various avataras of the Supreme Lord, read the article The Avataras of God.

Prints and paintings of the various Divinities can also be seen on the website:, and more complete explanations can be read in the book "The Heart of Hinduism" by Stephen Knapp.

Indian Courts Uphold that Deities Are Legal Entities


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 2010: It may have come as a surprise to many when a God, Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman, fought litigation for the last 21 years before the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court through his representative, Deoki Nandan Agarwal and has now won ownership rights over the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Can a Deity, like a normal human being, fight a legal battle? The HC replied in the affirmative. This court is of the view that place of birth, that is Ram Janmabhoomi, is a juristic person.

In the Indian judicial system, deities have always been regarded as legal entities who can fight their case through the trustees or managing board in charge of the temple in which they are worshiped.

[HPI note: The ancient Indian system of law recognized Gods as legal entities. Many of the lands around Chidambaram temple, for example, were registered as property of "Nataraja." Alas, under the British, many men named Nataraja successfully claimed vast swaths of land as their own.]

The Supreme Court, in Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, vs State of UP [1997 (4) SCC 606 recognized, though not for the first time, the right of a Deity to move court and said, Properties of endowment vest in the Deity, Lord Sri Vishwanath. It dismissed the claim of the priests that they alone had the right to manage the temple on behalf of the Deity and said management of the temple by mahant/pandas/archakas did not mean it became their property. It upheld the Act saying it was merely for better management of the temple.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

A New Ancient Language

INDIA, October 11, 2010: Two years ago, a team of linguists plunged into the remote hill country of northeastern India to study little-known languages, many of them unwritten and in danger of falling out of use. On average, every two weeks one of the world’s recorded 7,000 languages becomes extinct, and the expedition was seeking to document and help preserve the endangered ones in these isolated villages.

At a rushing mountain river, the linguists crossed on a bamboo raft and entered the tiny village of Kichang. They expected to hear the people speaking Aka, a fairly common tongue in that district. Instead, they heard a language, the linguists said, that sounded as different from Aka as English does from Japanese. After further investigation, leaders of the research announced last week the discovery of a “hidden” language, known locally as Koro, completely new to the world outside these rural communities. While the number of spoken languages continues to decline, at least one new one has been added to the inventory, though Koro too is on the brink of extinction.

In “The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages,” published last month by National Geographic Books, researcher Dr. David Harrison noted that Koro speakers “are thoroughly mixed in with other local peoples and number perhaps no more than 800.”

Moreover, linguists are not sure how Koro has survived this long as a viable language. Dr. Harrison wrote: “The Koro do not dominate a single village or even an extended family. This leads to curious speech patterns not commonly found in a stable state elsewhere.” In the case of Koro speakers, Dr. Harrison wrote in his book, “even though they seem to be gradually giving up their language, it remains the most powerful trait that identifies them as a distinct people.”

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Pumpkins, Cucumbers Replace Animal Sacrifice in Puja

PATNA, INDIA, October 14, 2010: Isn’t it a heartening news that Durga Puja committees have been sensitized against animal sacrifice? Ranjit Bhattacharya, a purohit (priest) of a Barowari Puja Committee said, “Sacrifice is an essential aspect of the Puja, for `bali’ is the symbol of power. Bali invokes power. And since we are worshipping Durga, who is the embodiment of shakti (power), it is essential to incorporate bali in puja. But it does not have to be an animal. Now most of the Puja committees prefer to use vegetables or fruits,” added the purohit.

Incidentally, even Bengali pandals here do not offer animal sacrifice to the Goddess. Bali made of white pumpkin, sugarcane and cucumber is offered specially on Mahaashtami day during sandhi pujan. An integral and important part of Durga Puja, sandhi puja is performed at the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar days. Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Navami.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Inspired by Other Billionaires, Indian Pledges To Gear Up Philantropy

NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 29, 2010: : For a few months now, Bill and Melinda Gates and have been wining and dining with the world’s richest, gently persuading over 40 US billionaires to pledge at least half of their wealth to fix the world’s ills. But no one from has yet been able to match that generosity. Very few have even shown an inclination to do so.

At least one Indian billionaire, Shiv Nadar, has taken a first step and is now daring others of his ilk to start making a meaningful contribution to society. The technology czar has committed to put aside well over 10% of his wealth for philanthropic ventures. These ventures, under the Shiv Nadar Foundation, span building and running free schools, a proposed university and a museum of art.

Mr. Nadar has been influenced by the deep philanthropic resolve of the Gates couple and Buffett, the world’s richest people, both of whom have pledged almost their entire wealth for charity. “My wife and I spent a whole evening with them (Bill and Melinda) and we talked about this,” he says. “When Buffett dies, there will only be a stone. It shows a very different aspect of life, about people and how they care.”

courtesy of Hinduism Today

When Western Stars Say ‘I Do’ The Indian Way

RANTHAMBORE, INDIA, October 23, 2010: British comedian Russell Brand and American pop star Katy Perry today exchanged wedding vows according to Hindu traditions at a luxury resort. Decked in traditional style, the duo said ‘I Do’ in the presence of select guests at the Aman-i-Khas resort near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary as a priest chanted mantras around the traditional fire.

Brand led the marriage procession on a horse, flanked by elephants and camels. To make the wedding a memorable affair, the couple had invited folk musicians and snake charmers to entertain the high profile guests. Trees and flower garlands festooned the luxury tents at the resort illuminated by lamps and colorful lights.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

SAUDI ARABIA: Women threaten to breastfeed drivers if they aren't allowed to drive

June 22, 2010 |  8:24 am

Article-0-05D8277A0000044D-971_468x360Many were stunned when Saudi cleric Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan recently issued afatwa, or Islamic ruling, calling on women to give breast milk to their male colleagues or men they come into regular contact with so as to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes.

But a group of Saudi women has taken the controversial decree a step further in a new campaign to gain the right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom, media reports say.

If they're not granted the right to drive, the women are threatening to breastfeed their drivers to establish a symbolic maternal bond.

"Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?" a Saudi woman named Fatima Shammary was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Obeikan argued in his decree that if the women give their drivers their breast milk, the chauffeurs would be able to mingle with all members of the family without having to worry about violating Islamic law. Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women. Islamic tradition, or hadith, stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a maternal bond, even if a woman breastfeeds a child who is not her own.

Drawing from the cleric's advocacy, the women have reportedly chosen a slogan for their campaign that translates to, "We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners."
The current driving ban applies to all women in Saudi Arabia, regardless of their nationality, and it's been a topic of heated public debate in recent years.

The ban on driving was unofficial at first but was introduced as official legislation after 47 Saudi women drove cars through the streets of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in 1990 in an attempt to challenge authorities.

The incident brought harsh consequences for the women, who were jailed for a day and had their passports confiscated. Many of them were said to have been forced to leave their jobs after the driving protest.

Still, every now and then, reports of Saudi women driving in defiance of the ban emerge in the media.

Two years ago, 125 women in Saudi Arabia signed a petition that called on the Saudi interior minister to lift the ban.

One of the Saudi female signatories, Wajeha Huwaider, posted a video of herself driving on YouTube in a direct appeal to the Saudi authorities to allow women to drive.

"For women to drive is not a political issue," Wajeha said as she sat behind the wheel. "It is not a religious issue. It is a social issue, and we know that many women of our society are capable of driving cars. We also know that many families will allow their women to drive."

-- Alexandra Sandels, in Beirut

Photo: Saudi women look under the hood of a new car at a showroom in Riyadh, where women sell cars to female buyers. Women can still own cars in Saudi Arabia, but they are banned from driving them. Credit: Associated Press

A New Understanding of Our Galaxy

USA, November 8, 2010: There was something hiding in plain sight inside our own galaxy. A group of scientists working with data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope said Tuesday that they had discovered two bubbles of energy erupting from the center of the Milky Way. They are not exactly small, either, extending 25,000 light years up and down from each side of the galaxy and contain the energy equivalent to 100,000 supernova explosions.

“Wow,” said David Spergel, an astrophysicist at Princeton. “And we think we know a lot about our own galaxy,” Dr. Spergel added, noting that the bubbles were almost as big as the galaxy itself and yet unsuspected until now.

Jon Morse, head of astrophysics at NASA headquarters, said, “This shows again that the universe is full of surprises.”

The source of the bubbles is a mystery. One possibility is that they are fueled by a wave of star births and deaths at the center of the galaxy. Another option is a gigantic belch from the black hole known to reside at the center of the Milky Way. What it is apparently not is dark matter, the mysterious something that astronomers say makes up a quarter of the universe and holds galaxies together.

Cosmos may show echoes of events before Big Bang

By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News

 The variation in the background shifts sharply within the rings Continue reading the main story Related stories

Evidence of events that happened before the Big Bang can be seen in the glow of microwave radiation that fills the Universe, scientists have asserted.

Renowned cosmologist Roger Penrose said that analysis of this cosmic microwave background showed echoes of previous Big Bang-like events.

The events appear as "rings" around galaxy clusters in which the variation in the background is unusually low.

The unpublished research has been posted on the Arxiv website.

The ideas within it support a theory developed by Professor Penrose - knighted in 1994 for his services to science - that upends the widely-held "inflationary theory".

That theory holds that the Universe was shaped by an unthinkably large and fast expansion from a single point.

Much of high-energy physics research aims to elucidate how the laws of nature evolved during the fleeting first instants of the Universe's being.

"I was never in favour of it, even from the start," said Professor Penrose.

"But if you're not accepting inflation, you've got to have something else which does what inflation does," he explained to BBC News.

"In the scheme that I'm proposing, you have an exponential expansion but it's not in our aeon - I use the term to describe [the period] from our Big Bang until the remote future.

"I claim that this aeon is one of a succession of such things, where the remote future of the previous aeons somehow becomes the Big Bang of our aeon."

This "conformal cyclic cosmology" (CCC) that Professor Penrose advocates allows that the laws of nature may evolve with time, but precludes the need to institute a theoretical beginning to the Universe.

Supermassive find Professor Penrose, of Oxford University, and his collegue Vahe Gurzadyan of Yerevan State University in Armenia, have now found what they believe is evidence of events that predate the Big Bang, and that support CCC.

They looked at data from vast surveys of the cosmic microwave background - the constant, nearly uniform low-temperature glow that fills the Universe we see.

They surveyed nearly 11,000 locations, looking for directions in the sky where, at some point in the past, vast galaxies circling one another may have collided.

The supermassive black holes at their centres would have merged, turning some of their mass into tremendous bursts of energy.

 The microwave background has, on average, only minor variations The CCC theory holds that the same object may have undergone the same processes more than once in history, and each would have sent a "shockwave" of energy propagating outward.

The search turned up 12 candidates that showed concentric circles consistent with the idea - some with as many as five rings, representing five massive events coming from the same object through the course of history.

The suggestion is that the rings - representing unexpected order in a vast sky of disorder - represent pre-Big Bang events, toward the end of the last "aeon".

"Inflation [theory] is supposed to have ironed all of these irregularities out," said Professor Penrose.

"How do you suddenly get something that is making these whacking big explosions just before inflation turns off? To my way of thinking that's pretty hard to make sense of."

Shaun Cole of the University of Durham's computational cosmology group, called the research "impressive".

"It's a revolutionary theory and here there appears to be some data that supports it," he told BBC News.

"In the standard Big Bang model, there's nothing cyclic; it has a beginning and it has no end.

"The philosophical question that's sensible to ask is 'what came before the Big Bang?'; and what they're striving for here is to do away with that 'there's nothing before' answer by making it cyclical."

Professor Cole said he was surprised that the statistical variation in the microwave background data was the most obvious signature of what could be such a revolutionary idea, however.

"It's not clear from their theory that they have a complete model of the fluctuations, but is that the only thing that should be going on?

"There are other things that could be going on in the last part of the previous aeon; why don't they show even greater imprints?"

Professors Penrose and Cole both say that the idea should be shored up by further analyses of this type, in particular with data that will soon be available from the Planck telescope, designed to study the microwave background with unprecedented precision.

More on Science HERE

Scientists Probe Brushes With The Afterlife
Religion News Service

UNITED STATES, January 2011: Wanda Colie vividly remembers what she saw in 1984 when, at age 28, a condition that produced blood in her lungs nearly killed her. The pain vanished and a crowd of familiar faces came to welcome her in a light-drenched valley. For more than two decades, Colie kept her experience secret. But she's recently joined hundreds of others who've started going public with their near-death experiences, or NDEs.

Once dismissed as mere hallucinations, NDEs are being taken more seriously than in the past. Studies published in The Lancet, a respected British medical journal, and the Journal of the American Medical Association have reframed NDEs as phenomena worthy of scientific research.  Last year, three medical doctors published books on new NDE research, including what it suggests about consciousness beyond the brain and even the possibility of afterlife.

The Louisiana-based Near Death Experience Research Foundation, whose database of more than 1,600 NDEs is the world's largest, added a record 280 new accounts last year -- up 35 percent from 2009. The North Carolina-based International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) has amassed more than 900 accounts at its website and now tracks 46 support groups for people who've had NDEs. More NDE accounts means more data to examine and more reliable inferences, according to researchers such as Dr. Jeffrey Long, a Louisiana oncologist whose study of 613 NDEs forms the basis of his 2010 book, "Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences." As more accounts come to light, researchers are identifying patterns that transcend differences based on age, culture and religious (or nonreligious) backgrounds.

Hinduism today

See more on Near Death Experiences here

More HERE - Reincarnation pages

Subject: FW: Srila Prabhupada in Newsweek - in case you missed this


In a recent issue of Newsweek magazine, there was an article on famous people who made their mark late in life. Srila Prabhupada, is the fifth personality listed, with a very nice description of the significant work he did after age 69 founding one of the most popular new religious movements. Gandhi is listed 6th!

The link is:

Yours in service,  Atmananda dasa  (thanks to Vasudeva prabhu)

Indian Divorce Rate Doubles

NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 31, 2010: It is wedding season in India, the time of year when astrologers say the omens are best for a long and successful marriage. Traditionally these were arranged by the two families and the weight of social pressure ensured divorces hardly ever happened. But as it grows wealthier, so India's old taboos are being challenged, and the chances of this year's newly-weds staying together for the rest of their lives are slimmer than ever.

"There has been a huge change, a drastic change and divorce rates are increasing," Dr. Geetanjali Sharma, a marriage counsellor working in Gurgaon, a wealthy Delhi satellite city, told the BBC. "There's been a 100% increase in divorce rates in the past five years alone." Most of those splitting up are members of India's thriving, urban middle class whose lives have been transformed by India's boom, and whose aspirations are radically different to those of their parents and grandparents.

The pressures of the modern workplace make a bigger difference, Sharma thinks, than whether it was a traditional arranged marriage, or a so-called "love marriage". "I feel people are concentrating more on the careers and less on their personal lives," she said. "I also feel they lack patience and tolerance. They don't want to put more efforts into a relationship to fix the issues, and they feel that escapism is the solution."

India still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, with about one in 1,000 marriages collapsing, according to recent studies. But the courts are now seeing so many new cases that the government has proposed making divorce easier and faster, in line with other countries. As things stand, contested divorces can drag on for years. (Hinduism today)

Not so happily ever after as Indian divorce rate doubles

By Mark DummettBBC News, Delhi

It is wedding season in India, the time of year when astrologers say the omens are best for a long and successful marriage.

Traditionally these were arranged by the two families and the weight of social pressure ensured divorces hardly ever happened.

But as it grows wealthier, so India's old taboos are being challenged, and the chances of this year's newly-weds staying together for the rest of their lives are slimmer than ever.

"There has been a huge change, a drastic change and divorce rates are increasing," Dr Geetanjali Sharma, a marriage counsellor working in Gurgaon, a wealthy Delhi satellite city, told the BBC.

"There's been a 100% increase in divorce rates in the past five years alone."

Most of those splitting up are members of India's thriving, urban middle class whose lives have been transformed by India's boom, and whose aspirations are radically different to those of their parents and grandparents.

Nowhere represents those changes better than Gurgaon, which only two decades ago was little more than a village.

Its buffalos and mustard fields have now made way for shopping malls, coffee shops and multi-national IT companies. A state-of-the-art metro line connecting Gurgaon with Delhi, 25km (16 miles) away, was only recently opened.

And while millions of Indians might aspire to live in Gurgaon's high-rise apartment blocks, they are, according to Dr Sharma, populated by many unhappy couples.

The pressures of the modern workplace make a bigger difference, she thinks, than whether it was a traditional arranged marriage, or a so-called "love marriage".

"I feel people are concentrating more on the careers and less on their personal lives," she said.

"I also feel they lack patience and tolerance. They don't want to put more efforts into a relationship to fix the issues, and they feel that escapism is the solution."

India still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, with about one in 1,000 marriages collapsing, according to recent studies.

But the courts are now seeing so many new cases that the government has proposed making divorce easier and faster, in line with other countries.

As things stand, contested divorces can drag on for years.

Delhi High Court is the only place where Mohit, who works for a successful IT firm, now gets to meet his wife.

They fell in love as teenagers, married in their early 20s and separated three years ago when she walked out.
Honeymoon's over

While he awaits a final court settlement, Mohit (who did not want his surname to be made public) has been left contemplating what went wrong and why.

"I was way too young to realise that being in love and being married are slightly different - in fact humongously different," he told me.

"We used to fight about pretty much everything, you know. Let's say that the first fight we had was pretty early, as in just after we got back from our honeymoon."

Mohit puts the failure down to a culture clash between the old India and the new.

For a start, he says, his mother-in-law disapproved of their marriage, and his family also interfered.

He admits that sometimes he too found it hard to accept that his wife had her own career.

"Today the Indian male, as opposed to earlier, is a very complex entity. We want our wives to be really progressive, modern, so to say, which is why we married them in the first place," he said.

"But at the same time we still want our wives to cook food for us. We want our wives to be there when we get back home."

Swarupa (who also did not want her full name revealed) finalised her divorce in December.

She too left her husband - which she says is only possible for women who are financially independent or who have the support of their parents. In the past this would have been more or less unthinkable.

Swarupa believes that divorce has certainly become more socially acceptable in India, but there are still problems.

"Personally, I don't feel scared to tell people that I am a divorced person but stigmas are still there and it comes out in very odd places," she said.

"I've been house-hunting near my ex-husband's [home], but you know it is very difficult to get a house because people are very sceptical about giving it to a single woman."

It seems inevitable that the divorce rate is going to continue to rise - which is good news for some.

Vivek Pahwa, for example, runs a Mumbai-based matchmaking website for divorcees called

He claims to get as many as 4,000 new customers every month.

"Ours is a relatively young website, but in the three years since we have started, I have seen a remarkable shift in people's perceptions about divorce," he says. "It is not only limited to metros like Delhi and Mumbai. Business is good."

India's Family Life Revolution

NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 7, 2011: India's tradition of one giant extended family living under the same roof is breaking down, with 90 per cent of people in the capital now living in western-style nuclear families. The large 'joint family' of brothers living together with children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren is splitting up, according to a government survey in New Delhi.

The findings reflect a revolution in family life and the growing independence of the country's emerging middle class. More young professionals are moving away to new jobs and new lives in India's booming cities, and the survey found that only 10 per cent of the capital's population now lived in large family groups. The study showed only 8.4 per cent of homes housed two related married couples, and just 1.7 per cent had three related couples or more living together.

The breakdown of traditional patterns mirrors that of postwar Britain, but the impact is likely to be more keenly felt, as the 'Hindu Undivided Family' is recognized in law and is the basic unit of many of the country's leading business conglomerates.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Principle of astrology proven to be scientific: planetary position imprints biological clocks of mammals

(NaturalNews) Mention the word "astrology" and skeptics go into an epileptic fit. The idea that someone's personality could be imprinted at birth according to the position of the sun, moon and planets has long been derided as "quackery" by the so-called "scientific" community which resists any notion based on holistic connections between individuals and the cosmos.

According to the conventional view, your genes and your parenting determine your personality, and the position of planet Earth at the time of yourbirthhas nothing to do with it.

Then again, conventional scientists don't believe the position of the moon has anything to do withlifeon Earth, either. They dismiss the wisdom that farmers have known for ages -- that plantingseedsor transplanting living plants in harmony with the moon cyclesresultsin higher crop yields. Even the seeds inside humans are strongly influenced by the moon, as menstruation cycles and moon cycles are closely synchronized (28 days, roughly).

Researchers demonstrate scientific principle of astrology

Skeptics must be further bewildered by the newresearchpublished inNature Neuroscienceand conducted atVanderbilt Universitywhich unintentionally provides scientific support for the fundamental principle of astrology -- namely, thatthe position of the planets at your time of birth influences your personality.

In this study, not only did the birth month impact personality; it also resulted inmeasurable functionalchangesin the brain.

This study, conducted on mice, showed that mice born in the winter showed a "consistent slowing" of their daytime activity. They were also more susceptible to symptoms that we might call "Seasonal Affective Disorder."

The study was carried out by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two additional undergraduate students, none of whom believe in astrology, apparently. They do, of course, believe inscience, which is why all their studyfindingshave been draped in the language of science even though the findings are essentially supporting principles of astrology.

"What is particularly striking about our results is the fact that the imprinting affects both the animal'sbehaviorand the cycling of the neurons in the master biological clock in their brains," said Ciarleglio. This is one of the core principles of astrology: That the position of the planets at the time of your birth (which might be called the "season" of your birth) can actually result in changes in yourbrainphysiology which impact lifelong behavior.

Once again, such an idea sounds preposterous to the scientifically trained, unless of course they discover it for themselves, at which point it's all suddenly very "scientific." Instead of calling it "astrology," they're now referring to it as "seasonal biology."

How to discredit real science

It all reminds me of the discovery ofcold fusionin 1989 by Fleishmann and Pons, who were widely ridiculed by the arrogant hot fusion researchers who tried to destroy the credibility (and careers) of cold fusion researchers ( After the very idea of "cold fusion" was attacked and demolished by these arrogant scientists, it soon returned under a new name:Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions(LENR).

LENR has now been verified as true by none other than the U.S. Navy -- along with hundreds of other researchers around the world (see link above). And yet, even today, the conventional scientificcommunitystill insists cold fusion doesn't exist and cold fusion researchers are frauds.

Just as there is a solid scientific basis for LENR, there is a scientific basis for astrology, too. The relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun naturally alter light exposure, temperature, gravitational pull and other conditions that may be sensed by living organisms. To believe in astrology, all that's really required is to grasp the basic concepts of the interrelationships between all living things. Does the position of the sun or moon influence life on Earth? Of course it does: Life as we know it wouldn't even exist without the moon tugging on Earth and preventing its rotational axis from shifting around to the point where radical changes in seasonal temperatures would make life far more challenging. (The moon, in other words, is one of the key "stabilizers" of life onplanet Earthbecause it tends to stabilize the seasons and keep the Earth on a steady rotational plane.)

None of this, of course, means that the position of Saturn today is going to make you win thelotteryor find a new love. That's the tabloid version of astrology, not real astrology.

Don't confuse tabloid astrology with real astrology

Evenastronomyhas its tabloid versions, too, which are entirely non-scientific. For example, every model of our solar system that I've ever seen is a wildly inaccurate tabloid version of reality, with planet sizes ridiculously exaggerated and planet distances not depicted to scale. These silly, non-scientific solar system models imprint a kind ofsolar systemmythologyinto the minds of schoolchildren and even school teachers. Virtually no one outside the communities of astrophysics and astronomy has any real grasp of the enormity of not merely our solar system, but of our galaxy and the space between neighboring galaxies.

To show a giant sun the size of a basketball, with a depiction of the Earth as a marble-sized planet three inches away is the astronomical equivalent of a gimmicky horoscope claiming you're going to win the lottery today because you were born under the sign of Pisces. Both are fictions. And both are an insult to real science.

In fact, even the whole idea that an "electron" is a piece of physical matter, made up of other "particles" is an insult to real science. The sobering truth of the matter is that "particle physics" doesn't have much to do with actual particles at all. It's all about energies that might, on occasion, vibrate in just the right way so that they momentarily appear to take on the illusion of a particle as measured by our observers -- observers who inevitably alter the outcome of the entire experiment, by the way, once again proving the interrelatednatureof things in our universe, including observer and experiment.

The horoscope predictions in the Sunday paper -- as well as much of the hilarious mythology found in the modern description of an atom -- are both simplified, comic-book versions of a larger truth -- the truth thatwe live in a holistic universewhere every bit of physical matter, every bit ofenergyand every conscious mind impacts the rest of the universe in subtle ways. There is no such thing as an individual who is isolated from the cosmos, because we areof the cosmosand we exist as the physical manifestations of energies that, for our lifetimes, are momentarily organized as beings.

We are made of star stuff, says Carl Sagan. He he's right: We are not only made of star stuff, we are influenced by that stuff, too. And finally, modern science is beginning to catch up to this greater truth that astrologers have known since the dawn of human existence on our tiny planet.

Learn more:

A Wife’s Sacrifice and Devotion in the Indian Tradition

NEW YORK, USA, October 17, 2010 (By Shivani Vora): Of course I want my husband to have good health and a long life, but it took me seven years to give up food and water in hopes of it.

Every autumn, many women ­ particularly those from northern India ­ observe Karwa Chauth, a daylong Hindu fast on behalf of their husbands’ prosperity. It falls on Oct. 25 this year. Traditions vary, but most rise before the sun for a meal, known as sargi, often sent by their mothers-in-law, and spend the day dressed in their finest Indian garb, skipping their usual household duties.

Women gather in the afternoon for a prayer circle, where they pass around thalis ­ trays, with sweets, flowers or candles, and a glass of water five times while singing a song that explains the holiday’s origins. Then, come evening, they look at the moon through a sieve ­ never directly ­ and perform a prayer before their husbands, who give them their first sip of water and bite of food from their thalis.

I grew up ­ in India, New Jersey and Cleveland ­ watching these rituals. When I became a mother two-and-a-half years ago, I had an urge to ingrain in my daughter all things Indian. So last year I went to my parents’ home in Ridgewood, N.J., and did a modified fast ­ I drank some water and ate a piece of fruit ­ sitting in that married-women’s circle, with my daughter looking on.

See a slideshow of Karwa Chauth in America here

Uncle Pai Passes, but his Amar Katha Lives On

MUMBAI, February 25, 2011: It is time to bring out a comic book on the man who started it all. Anant Pai, a visionary who helped millions of children delve into the fascinating treasure trove of Indian sacred stories, mythology, history and legends through comics, died on Thursday at the age of 81 after a massive heart attack.

The shy but affectionate man-- who signed handwritten letters to his young fans as 'Uncle Pai' -- left an indelible mark on Indian popular culture by launching the Amar Chitra Katha series in 1967, after a stint with The Times of India. He was motivated by a TV quiz in which contestants rattled off answers related to Greek myths but didn't know the name of Rama's mother.

Most publishers were skeptical but Pai persisted and the series finally began with the launch of the first title, 'Krishna'. He lent it the auspicious Indian touch by titling it number 11 instead of one. The early years were tough -- there are anecdotes of Pai personally setting up display racks in restaurants. But today, Amar Chitra Katha sells about three million comic books a year in more than 20 languages, and has sold over 100 million copies since its inception.

Pai is survived by his wife Lalitha. The couple did not have any children, though Pai was adored by millions of young readers.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Sharing space, sharing faith
7,000 copies of Hindu text join Christian Bibles in area hotel rooms

Nov. 18, 2010, 5:06PM

James Nielsen Chronicle
A Christian Bible and the Bhagavad Gita share space in a nightstand at the Best Western Windsor Suites in Houston. The nationwide motel Gita project has a goal of distributing 1 million copies of the text.

"In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial."
"When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day."
"The marvel of the Bhagavad Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life's wisdom, which enables philosophy to blossom into religion."
"I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence, which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us."
Pull open a drawer in some Houston hotel rooms, and beside your room-service menu and Gideons Bible, you might find a copy of the Bhagavad Gita.
The sacred Hindu text is making its way into nightstands across the country through a campaign to spread the scripture and awareness about Lord Krishna, the deity believed to have spoken the philosophical teachings millennia ago.
A local Hare Krishna temple has placed about 7,000 copies of the Bhagavad Gita in more than 100 hotels and motels in the area.
The project has been successful because of the number of Indian hotel owners who are familiar with the text and happy to place copies in their rooms as a way to share the universal truths of their faith.
Indian-Americans make up about 5 percent of the population but own about 40 percent of hotels and motels in the country, according to the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
The Best Western at Interstate 290 and FM 1960 was one of the first local properties to provide the Bhagavad Gita to visitors. According to owner Alex Patel, the project has worked well in his 57-room motel so far.
"People get to read a different kind of holy book, and they like it," Patel said. Guests ask him questions about the story from time to time, and he assures them they can take the text with them.
Across Houston and its suburbs, the Bible is about as familiar and accessible as a phone book, but most people haven't heard of the Bhagavad Gita and probably can't even pronounce it.
"It probably will surprise people to see a Gita. We're new enough that we haven't gotten a whole lot of feedback," said Sarvabhauma Dasa, a spiritual leader at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness temple in Garden Oaks, which is helping sponsor the Bhagavad Gita distribution locally. "Some Americans might be less open-minded to some scriptures, but I think Americans are becoming much more broad, and acceptance has really grown. Maybe 20 years ago, the acceptance wouldn't allow it."
Even the Gideons International, a group that's been placing religious texts in travelers' rooms for more than 100 years, doesn't look down at its bedside competition and continues to see growing demand for Bibles, though they may not be the only spiritual reading material available. "We as Gideons have no exclusive rights to hotels," spokesman Mac Arvin said.
The Marriott hotel chain, founded by a Mormon, often slips copies of the Book of Mormon into nightstands, and the nationwide Panchajanya Project has distributed more than 100,000 copies of the Bhagavad Gita, mostly through economy hotels and motels.
The Bhagavad Gita is part of the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, a vast ancient text that's more than 1.8 million words long. It's well known and well read across India's regions and religions but holds a special significance for followers of Krishna, who believe it establishes him as the lord of lords, above other divine forms.
"The main interpretation is that the Gita is promoting a monotheistic message of devotion to Krishna as the Supreme Absolute Being, God the Father," said Edwin Bryant, a professor at Rutgers University who also teaches workshops about the Bhagavad Gita. "But there are differences as to whether Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, or Vishnu of Krishna between the sects."
The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes spiritual duty and refuge in Krishna while introducing concepts including a personal god, reincarnation, and the difference between the body and soul. Each Sanskrit line is transliterated and then written in English, with a discussion of the nuanced meaning of the text.
"For me, it reassures my faith. Every time I read it, I have a deeper understanding. Krishna is slowly revealing the knowledge to me," said Manish Puri, who has organized the Gita distribution across Houston. "This is essentially the Hindu Bible, but it's also much more than that. It is a universal message."
Puri has to keep up with demand for the scripture, raising money to buy more copies to replace the ones that get taken. He recounts stories of people who have become devoted to Krishna after reading the books, whether just in the personal spiritual practice or through temple worship.
"Anybody can take up this message and live a life like that. It's not like you have to become a Hindu. You can just follow the teaching at home," Puri said.
The Hare Krishnas are considered one of the main outreach wings of Hinduism, according to Bryant. They are known for donning bright-orange robes to distribute their texts and talk about their faith in public places, from bookstores and concerts to street corners.
The guru who founded the Hare Krishna temple in Houston, Swami Prabhupada, emphasized the distribution of the Gita, calling it "the most important task in our society," a way to share the knowledge and consciousness of Krishna, their god.

Abduction of Spiritual Leader Is the Latest Event In Pakistan Hindus' Woes

PAKISTAN: December 23, 2010: An octogenarian Hindu spiritual leader was abducted along with his companions in Pakistan's Balochistan province, sparking angry protests from the community members across the state. Maharaja Luckmi Chand Garji, 82, was abducted with four companions late on Tuesday night on RCD Highway near Surab in Kalat district, the Daily Times newspaper reported. The abductors later released three of the men at a deserted spot.

Hindu community leaders said incidents of kidnapping had become a routine and it appeared as if highwaymen and kidnappers had been given a "free hand".

The minority Hindu community organized protests in Khuzdar, Kalat, Naushki and provincial capital Quetta and blocked the National Highway and RCD Highway yesterday. Addressing protesters at the Khuzdar Press Club, Hindu leaders said the government had failed to protect the life and property of the people, particularly the minorities. The Hindu Panchayat organized a protest outside the Quetta Press Club and demanded the recovery of the kidnapped spiritual leader.

Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has taken notice of the kidnapping and asked authorities to ensure the safe recovery of Garji, who is yet to be found.

 According to this report at The Hindu, twenty-seven Hindu families from Pakistan's Balochistan province have approached the Indian High Commission for political asylum, mentioning violence and killings against the Hindu minority. Saeed Ahmed Khan, a regional director for the federal Human Rights Ministry, made the revelation while addressing a seminar on the unrest in Balochistan in provincial capital Quetta on Sunday. “As many as 27 Hindu families from Balochistan have sent applications to the Indian [High Commission] for asylum in India,” Mr. Khan said.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

32-Lb. Golden Crown Donated To Lord Venkateswara

INDIA, October 2010: Lord Venkateswara, the presiding Deity at the Tirumala temple, received two more precious donations. Reckoned as the richest temple in the world next to the Vatican Church, the Lord of the Seven Hills received a dazzling golden crown weighing 32 lbs (14.55kgs). The exquisitely chiseled stone-studded tiara was offered by a Mumbai-based business tycoon who however preferred to remain anonymous.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

In Shopping Spree, Michelle Obama Buys Ganesha Murtis for her Daughters

NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 9, 2010: Michelle Obama just couldn’t stop buying Indian fabrics and products the capitals sun-dappled crafts museum.

At the museum on a scheduled stop of one hour, she lingered on for almost two hours, stopping only when she ran out of money after splurging an estimated US$2,000 on bedspreads, paintings and other items, many to give away as Christmas gifts.

The First Lady purchased four Bengal kantha bedspreads, greeting cards with Madhubani motifs from Bihar, colorful wooden key chains and Ganesha icons from Karnataka and a crochet dining table cover from Andhra Pradesh. She then picked Kutchi embroidered cloth and textiles from the Northeast. She also purchased 15 mobile covers, 15 rag Gujarati dolls and five yogi thailas (embroidered bags). For her daughters, Malia and Natasha, Michelle got a wooden train, spinning tops and Lord Ganesh statues.

Michelle also picked up cloth dolls made by a young girl from Rajasthan, small leather purses shaped like owls, frogs, teddy bears and cats. Michelle said she would have bought more if she hadn’t run out of cash, those at the museum said.

[For Hinduism Today's article about Delhi's outstanding shops, click ]

Yoga For Beating The Blues

BOSTON, MA, USA December 15, 2010 : Scientists are now giving serious attention to an idea that yogis have known for centuries: that yoga has a positive effect on your mood. Although it's an ancient mind-body practice, the future of yoga may be in treating mood disorders. For this small study, scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine measured yoga's effect on depression and anxiety versus walking with a brain imaging study. They found that compared to walking, yoga provides a greater improvement in mood, as well as a decrease in anxiety.

Read more on Chanting Hare Krishna HERE:

Diwali Celebrations at the House of Commons

UNITED KINGDOM, October 27, 2010: The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) in hosting the annual Diwali celebrations at the House of Commons. With traditional Hindu prayers and an annukut (Hindu holy offering of food), the program includes traditional Bharatanatyam dances and musical performances. Special guests were Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband, newly appointed Lord Popat of Harrow, Lord Dholakia and many others.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

The Obama’s Diwali in India

MUMBAI, INDIA, November 7, 2010: Obama was dancing around questions in India– figuratively speaking ­ on Sunday, he also participated in some literal dancing, showing off some moves that, to the delight of photographers traveling with him, are likely to provide iconic images of his trip. President Obama danced with students during a Diwali Candle Lighting and Performance, after student dancers doing a show for him implored him to join in.

Earlier, Michelle Obama enthusiastically swayed to Bollywood tunes, to the delight of the Indian media. Her husband, in contrast, gamely joined in.

Indians seemed to have affection and reverence toward Mr. Obama. In interviews, students and faculty members here uniformly spoke kindly of him, praising everything including his respect for “Gandhian principles.” On the question of how he applies those principles, Mr. Obama sounded a note of humility.

“I’m often frustrated by how far I fall short of their example,” he said, referring to Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, all of whom he said he was studying. “But I do think that at my best what I’m trying to do is to apply principles that fundamentally come down to something shared in all the world’s religions, which is to see yourself in other people.”

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Julia Roberts: “The World Should Celebrate Diwali”

INDIA, November 5, 2010: Julia Roberts thinks the world should celebrate Diwali. The ‘Eat Pray Love’ actress believes the Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’ should be celebrated throughout the world because it celebrates “humanity, peace and prosperity.”

She said: “Diwali should be celebrated unanimously throughout the world as a gesture of goodwill. It not only belongs to Hinduism but is universal in nature and in its essence too. Diwali ignites the values of self-confidence, love for humanity, peace, prosperity and above all eternity which goes beyond all mortal factors.”

The 43-year-old beauty, who recently revealed she was a convert to Hinduism, confesses she has become interested in the spirituality of the faith because it is more than a “mere religion.” She told The Times of India: “Ever since I developed my liking and fondness for Hinduism, I have been attracted and deeply fascinated by many facets of the multi dimensional Hinduism… spirituality in it transcends many barriers of mere religion.”

New Zealand Hindus and their Maori Friends

NEW ZEALAND, June 17, 2010: Hindus and Maori find much to share at Matariki. Bowls of rice, plates of naan bread and dishes of vegetarian cuisine fill the table. Taking turns to help themselves are a group of Hindu elders, who are discussing plans to celebrate Matariki, the “Maori New Year”. Also joining them at their table are two Maori elders, who are working with the Indian community to bring greater understanding between the two cultures.

At its national conference this year, the Hindu Council called on members to embrace Maori culture in New Zealand.

Hindu elder Pravin Patel says there are many similarities between the two cultures, and both groups can learn from each other. “In Maori, mana means respect. In Hindi, mana means a respectful person. There are many similarities in our languages that surprise us.” Mr. Patel says the Hindu community wants to celebrate Matariki to give thanks to where they live. “New Zealand is our home, and we have a great respect for the people of this land.”

Read more about Maori Origins HERE

Remains of Twenty-One 1300-year-old-plus Temples Found Near Bhopal

BHOPAL, INDIA, October 16, 2010: The Archaeological Survey of India has found the remains of 1300-year-old temples at Ashapuri village, 36km from Bhopal. The remains of the temples are massive. Of the 21 temples, the one dedicated to Bhoothnath was the biggest. The archaeologists have named the excavation project Bhootnath Temple series.

“We have found ruins of temples dating back 1300 years, even before the Parmar dynasty,” said Ashok Das, Madhya Pradesh commissioner of the Archaeological Survey. “Pratihar dynasty rulers in this area constructed temples with steeple-shaped structure. These temples were large and beautiful. The 21 temples you can see here were made during the Pratihar rule.”

The excavators have found over 400 remains of murtis of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The state government has taken the responsibility of preserving these relics of Indian history.

Locals claimed that the Mughal rulers had razed these temples.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Colgate Accused of Stealing Thousand-Year-Old Toothpaste

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 21, 2010: A legal dispute between the U.S. and India over an herbal toothpaste was leaving a bitter aftertaste between the two countries Thursday, with Colgate Palmolive accused of filing a bogus patent. Colgate, the world’s largest producer of toothpaste, patented a tooth cleaning powder in the hope that it would take the multibillion-dollar Indian oral hygiene market by storm. However, Indian activists claim that the patent is bogus because the ingredients ­ including clove oil, camphor, black pepper and spearmint ­ have been used for the same purpose for hundreds, “if not thousands,” of years on the subcontinent. The dispute is likely to become a test case for who owns India’s folk medicines ­ a repository potentially worth billions.

The American household goods giant was granted the patent in the U.S. in June for what it claimed was a groundbreaking “red herbal dentifrice.” The patent, the Indian activists allege, is the latest act of “biopiracy” ­ whereby Western corporations plunder techniques, plants or genes used in the emerging world for centuries, for commercial profit.

“This toothpowder is classical in origin,” said Devender Triguna, the president of the Association of Manufactures of Ayurvedic Medicines, an Indian body that promotes traditional remedies. It is demanding that the Indian government take legal action against Colgate. “The ingredients date back to antiquity. They have been used by the common Indian man for thousands of years. So how can it possibly be patented?” Triguna asked. The case is the latest to anger India as it becomes increasingly vocal over the alleged pillaging of its ancient knowledge for commercial gain. It is one of 17 nations to form the Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries, an alliance that has accused richer countries of tapping the emerging world’s natural resources for medicines and cosmetics without paying royalties. India is in the process of creating 34 million web pages to document its ancient medicinal techniques to stop them from being claimed by foreign profiteers.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

India’s Holy Export: the Gods of Japan

TOKYO, JAPAN, October 26, 2010: A few hundred Japanese congregate in the courtyard of the Asakusa Shrine in central Tokyo. The five-story pagoda is ornate and immaculate, not least because it was rebuilt in the 1970s. This is the Shoten-cho part of the Japanese capital, famous for its many temples and shrines. Less known is that Shoten, the Noble God, is the Hindu Deity Ganapati. And there are temples to Sarasvati and Shiva to be found amid these crowded streets. In the 1830s, say scholars, over 100 Ganapati temples could be found here.

Few Japanese and fewer Indians realize most Deities worshipped in Japan are of Indian origin. “A majority of Japanese Gods are actually Indian Gods,” was a common line of the former Japanese Ambassador to India, Yasukuni Enoki. Hindu Deities were imported wholesale from the 6th century onwards. “These Indian Deities were introduced from China into Japan as Buddhist Deities with Chinese names,” writes Sengaku Mayeda of Japan’s Eastern Institute. Thanks to the centuries and translation hurdles, the names and appearances of the Gods have become localized to the point of anonymity.

An example is Shichifukujin, the popular Japanese sect of the Seven Deities of Fortune. This pantheon includes Sarasvati, Shiva and Vaisravana - under their Japanese names of, respectively, Benzaiten, Daikokuten and Bishamonten. Some names are direct Japanese translations. Daikokuten means “great head God”, a direct translation of one of Shiva’s names, Mahakala.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Artifact in Sanskrit Found in the Philippines

THE PHILIPPINES, October 29, 2010: In 1989, a man in the concrete business was dredging sand at the mouth of the Lumbang River near Laguna de Bay when he uncovered a blackened roll of metal. He unfurled the roll he saw that it was a sheet of copper with strange writing on it, about the size of a magazine. He offered the copper sheet to one of the antiques dealers in the area who bought it for next to nothing. The dealer, in turn, tried to sell it for a profit but when he found no buyers, he eventually sold it to the Philippine National Museum. In 1990, Antoon Postma, a Dutch expert in ancient Philippine scripts and Mangyan writing, and a long-time resident of the Philippines, translated the document that came to be known as the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI). When he saw that the writing looked similar to the ancient Indonesian script called Kavi, and that the document bore a date from the ancient Sanskrit calendar, he enlisted the help of fellow Dutchman, Dr Johann de Casparis, whose area of expertise was ancient Indonesia. In 1996, a Filipino history buff in California, Hector Santos, precisely converted the Sanskrit date over to our calendar by using astronomical software and some historical detective work. He determined that the Sanskrit date written on the plate was exactly Monday, April 21, 900 CE.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Vedic World Heritage links:

See our pages supporting these views HERE: (Vedik World Heritage)
Western Indologists been exposed page:
How British Misguided the World on Vedic History

Puri's Jagannath Temple Hidden Treasure Is Discovered

PURI, February 27, 2011: Thousands would have passed a dilapidated building on their way to Puri's Jagannath temple, called Emar Math, not sparing a glance at the 200-year-old structure that on Saturday turned out to be a treasure trove worth US$ 20 million.

Cops, probing a burglary, went into the Math only to find slabs of silver weighing more than 17 tonnes. There were 522 silver slabs, each weighing between 35kg and 40kg. These had been stashed in four wooden treasuries in a sealed room. Emar Math is situated right in front of the Jagannath temple.

'We came to know about the silver here after the arrest of Barun Baral, who was trying to sell a silver slab in Dhenkanal on Friday. During interrogation he told us that he had stolen it from Emar Math,' said Puri superintendent Sanjay Kumar.

The superintendent said Baral worked as a labourer in the Math that is spread over four acres. 'During renovation work, he stumbled upon the treasury. He might have stolen some pieces with the help of others,' Kumar said. When a stone fell off during renovation, the laborers caught a glimpse of the silver.

'Baral's revelation led to the stunning recovery of stacks of silver slabs from the room that was sealed. We broke down the walls to enter the room,' Kumar added.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Breastfeeding Tied To Lower Obesity Risk

NEW YORK, February 8, 2011: Breastfeeding decreases the baby's risk of becoming obese by the toddler years, a new study shows. Babies that were fed with 'baby formula' processed milk were six times more likely to become obese.

Researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School studied the eating patterns of 847 children enrolled in Project Viva. About two-thirds of the mothers breast-fed their babies for at least four months, while the remaining mothers gave their babies formula.

Among breast-fed infants, the timing of solid food introduction was not associated with obesity. But formula-fed babies who had been introduced to solid foods before 4 months of age were six times more likely to be obese by age 3.

It's not clear why the timing of solid food was linked with obesity risk among the formula-fed babies in the study. It may be that mothers who use formula are less tuned in to their baby's hunger and satiety cues. Or early feeding of solid food could be a sign of other unhealthy behaviors that influence a child's weight. For instance, mothers who use formula and offer solid food before four months may have a tendency to use food to soothe a fussy child or be more prone to less healthful eating themselves.

hinduism today

Food Inc.

What are the Benefits of Kirtan?

Note from Sri Prahlada

January has been a wonderful month for kirtan in Sydney. On the 22nd and 23rd, we had a 40 hour kirtan celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Hare Krishna community in Sydney and Australia. One of the highlights was a performance by Swamis from Satyananda Yoga at Mangrove Mountain. Another highlight was the kirtans performed by Gaura Vani and his USA based group As Kindred Spirits. They are currently on tour in Australia and I had the fortune of attending each of the group's six concerts in Sydney. I have a particular affection for these kirtan musicians as lead singer Gaura Vani and bass player Shree Shyam and I all went to school together in 1980s at an ashram in Vrindavan India.

In January we also had the opportunity to share kirtan on the Lily World stage for each of the two days of the "Big Day Out"™ in Sydney. It was a different environment to that of a peaceful Yoga School, so we kept the tempo more upbeat. Despite the 40+ degree heat, hundreds of people danced in front of the stage. After the second day, I asked two girls who had been dancing ecstatically in front of the stage how they liked the kirtan. They replied they had never experienced anything so wonderful and blissful as kirtan. They said that although it was over 40 degrees, they had goose bumps all over the bodies from the chanting!

So, just what happens to people in kirtan? This is the focus of this issue of Kirtan Magic, covered in our feature article entitled "What are the Benefits of Kirtan?"?. Please enjoy and feel free to get involved by commenting below, and of course I hope to meet you soon at one of our upcoming kirtan events!

With affection,
Om & Prem
Sri Prahlada

What are the Benefits of Kirtan?

Recently, I was asked to explain the benefits of kirtan to the owner of a yoga school who was considering organizing a kirtan concert. My response was that in kirtan people experience:

•Inner peace
•Happiness <
•Opening of the heart with feelings of love andd compassion
•Connection with the Divine and oother kirtan participants
•On occasioon, goose bumps and tears as the heart jumps with joy

I then offered that there were three authorities from which to understand the benefits of kirtan:

1.Personal experience
2.Academic research findings
3.The authority of Vedic-yoga texts.

Personal experience

Most kirtan authorities share that the benefits of kirtan cannot be explained in words, it has to be experienced in order to be understood. How do you explain the taste of a mango to someone who has never tasted these fruits? You can intellectualise over the taste by saying its something like a cross between a peach, pineapple, and an orange, but until a person tastes a mango, they can never really know it’s flavour. The same is with the experience of kirtan – you have to expperience it to know what it is. Sacinandana Swami put it eloquently when he wrote: "Words can show us the direction in which to look for the kirtan-experience, but only when you sit down, move towards your inner space, and then sing out, will you start to know what kirtan really is. Because at that time your soul will rise up and start to dance…"?
Another thing is that different people will experience kirtan differently. Some people might immediately love it, like meeting a long lost friend or returning home after a long time away. Others might take a little while to get used to an unfamiliar experience. Additionally, kirtan can often sound raw and unpolished. Hence, some might find the mango a little green – immature and therefore unpalatable. But inn India, people love green mangos (eaten with salt and chilli powder pickled) as much as they love ripe mangos. They can also discern between different varieties of mangos – some are sweeter and others have a slighttly bitter taste, others stringy, and others are more or less firm. Similarly, a kirtan connoisseur can discern and appreciate different varieties and flavours of kirtan.

My personal experience of kirtan is that when the lead chanter and the group participants are sincere and sing from the heart with devotion – there is nothing in the world that has the power to move and uplift me like kirtan. When I look back on my life, my happiest, most blissful moments, were all in kirtan.

Academic research findings

In the past several years, with the increasing awareness and appreciation of kirtan in the Western yoga community, it has also come to attract the attention of academic researchers. In the USA, Black and Vaugn made kirtan the focus of their Masters theses (respectively in music and psychology), while Cooke made it the focus of her PhD in music. Each of these qualitative studies involved interviews with kirtan participants. Interestingly, three similar themes emerged relating to the benefits of kirtan. In each study it was found that kirtan:

1.Induces a powerful sense of connection with the Divine.
2.Induces trance like meditative states of altered consciousness, including feeling of spiritual upliftment that last long after the kirtan event has concluded.
3.Opens the heart, allowing greater connection and community amongst other kirtan participants, even those of diverse backgrounds and traditions.

The teachings of the Vedic-yoga texts

Interestingly, study of the Vedic-yoga texts reveals similar themes, but describes the benefits of kirtan at a deeper level. This is a level that is not consciously perceptible to the senses. My analysis of the Vedic-yoga texts unveils five themes:

1.The first benefit is that kirtan chanting destroys negativity. The Yoga Sutras (1.27-31) state that chanting om destroys "disease, procrastination, laziness, doubt, pain, nervousness, and lamentation"?. According to the Vedic-yoga tradition, such negative conditions as disease, and mental distress are the result of deeper negative psychological impressions from unwholesome actions performed even in previous lifetimes – bad karma. Therefore, the more important benefit of kirtan is that it destroys the seeds of negativity waiting to sprout as the result of negative karma from previous lifetimes. In this regard, the Brhad-vishnu Purana goes as far as saying that chanting one holy name destroys more negative karma than a person is able to commit. It is natural that when a person is free from the burden of negativity they will be peaceful and happy. This leads us to¦

2.The second benefit is that it awakens blissfulness or natural joy within the heart. Arjuna declares in the Bhakgavad-gita (11.36), "the world becomes joyful upon hearing your name"?.

3.The third benefit of kirtan is that it is easy to perform. The Skanda Purana states that chanting the name of Hari (a name of the Divine which means one who takes away all distress) just once, guarantees liberation. Because it is easy, it is also described as the most practical method for attaining spiritual perfection, particularly in this age, hence…

4.The fourthh benefit is that it is described as the topmost spiritual process. The Srimad Bhagavatam describes kirtan as the "ultimate spiritual practice"? (6.3.22) and as the "doubtless and fearless way of success"? (2.1.11) in any endeavour – spiritual or material. Similarly, Bhagavad-gita (10.25) describes it as the topmost form of sacrifice.

5.Finally, the fifth benefit of kirtan is that it creates Divine connection, which is the greatest of all benefits. This connection transpires both as the experience of Divine presence and as the awakening loving affection. Regarding the experience of Divine presence, Krishna tells Narada in the Padma Purana; “My dear Narada, actually I do not reside in my abode, Vaikuntha, nor do I reside in the heart of the yogis, but I reside in that place where devotees sing my holy names�.

The loving affection that awakens in the heart during kirtan is mutual both for the chanter and the Divine. The chanter comes to love the Divine, as Arjuna tells Krishna in in the Bhagavad-gita (10.25) that when people hear Your name “everyone becomes attached to you�. Likewise, the Divine comes to loves the chanter ever more. In this regard Krishna declares in the Adi Purana, "When a person chants My name, whether out of devotion or indifference, then the chanters name will remain forever in My heart. I will never forget such a soul"?.

So you can see, the benefits of kirtan described in the Vedic-yoga texts is similar to those people explain from their personal experience, but it goes further by describing benefits at a level that is beyond the purview of our limited sensory perception.

For example, while people describe that kirtan relieves distress and induces a state of peace. The Vedic-yoga texts reveal, however, that the effects of kirtan destroy negative karma even from previous lives that is yet un-manifest.

Similarly, while people describe a felt sense of spiritual connection. The yoga texts reveal that this connection is mutual and reciprocated by the Divine, who “will never forget” the name of the person who chants the holy name.

The teachings of Chaitanya

Chaitanya is the personality who 500 years ago, revolutionised spirituality in India by promoting kirtan as the easiest and most practical path to enlightenment. He wrote eight stanzas of spiritual instruction called the Shikshastakam. The first of these stanzas summarises the teachings of the Vedic-yoga texts by describing seven benefits to chanting similar those described above. These are that kirtan:

1.Cleanses the heart of all sinful impressions and desires
2.Destroys all suffering by ending the cycle of birth and death
3.Awakens all auspiciousness and good fortune
4.Reveals knowledge of ones true spiritual nature and relationship with the Divine
5.Awakens the highest bliss
6.Delivers the nectar of immortality
7.Allows one to share the highest Divine love by purifying one of all selfish desires for personal pleasure.


In conclusion, analysis of people's personal experience as well as the Vedic-yoga teachings reveals that kirtan offers wonderful material, emotional, and spiritual benefits – forr body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes kirtan is compared to India's legendary kalpa-vrksa "wish-tree"?, which can grant wishes. So why limit our comparison of kirtan to a mango which must be experienced to know its flavour? A wish-tree can deliver pineapples, coconuts, and anything else you might desire.

What benefits have you gained from kirtan? What are your most memorable kirtan moments? Please visit our blog to share your experiences!

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India thieves call police during botched Delhi burglary

Three thieves trapped in a house they were burgling in the Indian capital Delhi asked police for help when the owner of the house returned.

The thieves panicked when a huge crowd gathered outside the house, in west Delhi's Tilak Vihar area, fearing they would be lynched, police said.

The three men were arrested and remanded in custody.

Police say this could be the first incident where criminals have called them for assistance.

Home owner Charanjeet Singh had gone to attend a wedding with his family, the police added.

When he returned home at 0200 local time (2030 GMT on Tuesday), he saw that the lights in his house were switched on and the doors were locked from inside.

"So he called us to say that there were burglars in his house," senior police officer V Ranganathan told the BBC.

Mr Singh also woke up his neighbours and soon a crowd gathered outside the house. They padlocked the door from the outside.

"One of the thieves called up the police from his cell phone and said: 'We are thieves and we're locked up in this house.' The police responded quickly and rescued them," Mr Ranganathan said.

He said two of the thieves were Mr Singh's neighbours.

Police say that they recovered 10,000 rupees ($220), jewellery and documents from them.

School Field Trip Tour of Slaughterhouse Traumatizes Children

Posted on 21 November 2010.

OMAHA, Neb. ( Exclusive) ­ Eighteen grade 5 students of Mavis Beacon Elementary School are undergoing counseling after a school field trip visit to a beef slaughterhouse. The children reportedly were horrified to see how cows were processed into beef. Some of the students vomited, and most cried.

Their teacher, Maxwell Barnes, faces disciplinary action for organizing the school field trip. “I didn’t see anything wrong with it.” Barnes stated. “Earlier this year we had a field trip to a chocolate factory. Kids have a curiosity about where their food comes from. I don’t think there should be anything wrong with showing them where meat comes from.”

The children were escorted through the facility from the loading bay, where cattle enter the building, through to the stunning process where the animals receive a pneumatic bolt to the brain, rendering them brain dead. “Some of the kids started crying then.” said slaughterhouse foreman Dan Smith. “We told them it was all a natural part of how beef is made and ends up in yummy hamburgers, but that didn’t seem to help much.”

The field trip then went awry after the brain dead animals were chained up by their back legs and then cut into to be bled to death. “I saw one little boy throw up.” Smith said. “And then after that there was screaming and running and all these other kids throwing up all over the place. We tried to calm them down but it was out of control by then. These kids were just freaked out, they didn’t even finish the tour.”

Ignoring the Planet Won’t Fix It

USA, October 27, 2010: Remember climate change? It used to be a hot topic.

It’s hardly surprising that a new study released the other day by a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research didn’t register on any political radar screens, amid America’s political wars. But it predicted the future of America’s agriculture with wide implications.

The study, by Aiguo Dai, concluded that most of the western two-thirds of the United States will be significantly drier by the 2030s, and that large parts of the nation face an increasing risk of extreme drought. This is not about melting ice caps; it’s about Dust Bowl-style drought within two decades. “If the projections in this study come even close to being realized, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous,” Dr. Dai said.

When Barack Obama won the nomination, he said his election to the presidency would be historic on two issues: health care and climate change, a point when “the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Two years later, you can barely find the phrase “climate change” on the Web sites of Democrats running for office, and for Republicans it has become an item of faith to be a skeptic.

Despite debate, informed and less so, the scientific consensus has not changed. We can tune in 50 years from now and find out who was right ­ at which point it will be too late.

Food and Faith: Agriculture as a Theological Act

By Kent Hayden, M.Div. for The Huffington Post on 2 Aug 2010

Wendell Berry has said that eating is an agricultural act. I have always suspected that agriculture is a theological act. The way we produce and consume something as basic as our food not only determines our physical and environmental health but is a reflection of our social health and a contributing factor of our spiritual health. This is an idea that should disturb and excite us. If eating is agricultural and agriculture is theological, then right eating is a sign of faith, and unjust, aesthetically bankrupt eating endangers the soul.

I have suspected this connection since my grandfather washed his farm-calloused hands in holy water to baptize my infant head. My memories of the rattling of
Grandpa's tractor are mixed with those of the booming of his preaching. I always imagined there was a link between the strength of his faith and the strength of his milker's grip. But for the first 25 years of my life, these loosely held notions remained in the background of my thinking and living. I was discontented with both the fast food and fast religion of our society. I gave up both, but was only rewarded with the occasional surge of self-righteousness as I passed by a burger joint hungry or turned off a radio sermon pessimistic. I knew that the easy food and easy religion that I had used to fuel my body and my soul for most of my life were bad for me. But I thought fasting was the only solution.

By the time I graduated from seminary, I was beginning to see signs of hope in our public discourse. People were talking about food and farming in meaningful ways. People were raising their voices in support of a religion that got its hands dirty. I came to possess the dangerous combination of optimism, conviction, and discontent that sometimes leads to an adventure. I was craving a meaningful way of life, which neither my years of consuming nor fasting had provided, and

I suspected that the best place to look was in the very garden from which our food choices had excluded us long ago. I applied for an internship on a little organic farm in Washington state, packed up some clothes, a tent, and my dog, and hit the road.

For the past three weeks, I have been living, working, and eating with dirty hands. In those three weeks, I have showered a total of six times, blistered my hands five, watched 21 sunsets and 15 sunrises, lain under a garden sprinkler twice, floated down the Yakima river three times, and sunburned my neck too often to mention. I have been stopped short by beauty every day, and I have fallen asleep contented every night.

The spiritual abundance I have enjoyed while living with a sore back and blistered hands cannot be explained by the food I have eaten. I have eaten well before.
It is not due to the awe I have experienced. I have been immersed in beauty before. It grows from the blisters and the aches themselves, earned in pursuit of a simple good thing. It is the result of reordering my understanding of "the good" to include struggling against and overcoming the benevolent afflictions of early mornings and long, hot days. The solution to the discontent of a fast food culture and a fast food religion is not just a rejection of the fruit of these societal trends. It is a total metanoia; a mind-turning towards a theological and culinary aesthetic that includes both difficulty and satisfaction as parts of the good. Our preachers must proclaim the complex mix of the painful and sublime that constitutes the true beauty of creation. Our faith communities must invite us into this beauty, by tearing down the white picket fences we have built between our self-referential good and evil. We must open up new fields for working and growing, and put ourselves to the difficult task of relationship building. Likewise, our food system must reclaim the value and dignity of hard work by connecting consumers to producers through community gardens, CSAs, and local, seasonal eating. We must demand that "fair trade" ceases to be a luxury, so that when we meet the men and women whose hands have given us our daily bread, we might look them in the eye and smile. We must relearn the bent-backed posture of farming, and with it, the bent-backed posture of prayer.

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More on ISKCON Vs McDonalds

In the coming week, ISKCON's panel of lawyers will be filing a case in court to protest against the opening of the big American franchise in the Jumbo Commercial Centre.

"ISKCON is an international organisation which respects and reveres the cow. Any harm to a cow is not tolerated, and certainly not its slaughter. McDonald's, on the other hand, promotes cow slaughter and together with its prominent visual representation directly opposite the ISKCON temple, the restaurant will show disrespect to Lord Krishna, who will be worshipped within the close proximity of 100 metres," said Ajay Chaitanya, President of ISKCON, Mauritius, during a peaceful demonstration next to McDonald's at 5pm to 7pm, on Wednesday.

He added that Hare Krishna Land hosts a number of important facilities for the Mauritian public and that it is also a site for a new temple and spiritual village.

"It is not the smell, as some people may think, that disturbs us. It is the close proximity of McDonald's. Moreover, when we are talking of proximity, we are not referring to the temple which already exists in Phoenix but the land on the opposite side of Jumbo Commercial Centre on which we are planning to develop a spiritual village," said the President.

Ten years ago, McDonald's applied for a licence from the Municipality of Quatres-Bornes to open its doors at Toys R Us. On grounds of religious sensitivity, ISKCON had objected and McDonald's was refused a permit. ISKCON deplores the fact that this time, without informing it, Mc Donald's had obtained a permit from the Municipality of Vacoas-Phoenix to operate right in front of its shrine.

Srinjaya Das, the secretary of ISKCON, confirmed that the movement has filed a case at the CCID on Wednesday and the Independent Broadcasting Association against a private radio for its disturbing remarks which they feel would incite racial hatred. He also revealed that a panel of voluntary lawyers is working on filing a case against McDonald's by the end of this week. Moreover, ISCKON has already contacted the head office of McDonald's to protest at the opening of one of its franchise next to the Hare Krishna Land.

Discover The Health Benefits of Bananas
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By Shona Botes forNatural Newson12 Feb 2011

So often, the humble banana is often overlooked when it comes to providing nutritional and medicinal value. Bananas in fact have a lot to offer us, both nutritionally, as well as in relieving the symptoms of a myriad of physical complaints.

Bananas are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. They also provide us with a source of energy. They contain a lot of iron, which is extremely helpful to those suffering from anaemia, as it stimulates the growth of haemoglobin in the body. They contain a lot of potassium; this helps to alleviate high blood pressure and prevent bone loss by countering the damage done by a diet high in sodium/salt. Potassium is also excellent for relieving menstrual cramps and is also excellent for fluid retention, making bananas a sure winner for women who suffer with these symptoms. It also helps minimize the risk of kidney stones. Vitamin B6 also helps to balance blood-glucose levels, thereby alleviating mood swings often associated with PMS.

Bananas are an excellent food source for those suffering with ulcers, as they lower gastric juice levels and build a protective coating in the stomach. Therefore, they are also excellent for helping to alleviate heartburn symptoms. Simply rubbing the inside of a banana skin on a mosquito bite can help to alleviate the itching and irritation caused by the bite. They are also known to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. They also contain pectin, which is known to alleviate constipation naturally.

Bananas contain tryptophan, serotonin and norepinephrine, which help alleviate depression and also help one to relax. The B vitamins found in them also help to calm and soothe the nervous system. Vitamin B6 also alleviates the symptoms of irritability and sleeplessness. They are a good first food to introduce to infants, as they are easily digestible and non-allergic.

Because of their sweet taste, bananas also help to curb cravings for sugar and other unhealthy sweet snacks. They are also helpful in preventing age-related macular degeneration and strokes. Even the peels serve a few useful purposes. They make an amazing fertilizer in the garden, especially for roses. Simply bury a few peels near the plant or bush, and they will normally cause the roses to thrive. Pimples are able to be dried out naturally by rubbing the inside of the banana peel on the affected spot on the skin.

Learn more:

American Food With An Indian Accent

WASHINGTON, U.S., January 24, 2011: In New Delhi a group of hungry college students crowded around the newest food stall in an upscale market: the American Hotdog Factory. Its sign proudly announced 'real American hotdogs for the first time in India.' But these 'hawdawgs' - the Indian pronunciation - aren't exactly what they would find on the streets of New York or at ballpark concession stands across America. The top-selling item at this stand is the 'American Desi,' a mushy, green log of spicy potatoes, soybeans, peas, garlic, peppers and onions held together by a fat hot-dog bun and topped with raw onions and thick mayo chutney. No cows or pigs were harmed in the making of this sandwich.

For generations, Americans have tweaked Indian recipes to better suit their taste buds. Now it's India's turn to play with American food, as more U.S. restaurants open here. Americans already doing business here have quickly learned that 'America' is itself a brand. To many Indians, that brand symbolizes affluence, aspiration and good hygiene. But while Indians might love the idea of eating at an American eatery, they aren't looking for authentic American cuisine.

Teach A child to Cook, And He Will Eat Well For LIfe

UNITED STATES, January 17, 2011, (by Kim Painter): Many teens and young adults are clueless in the kitchen. 'A lot of them grew up in really busy households, with people relying on frozen and fast foods and not doing a lot of cooking,' says Maris Callahan, 26, a writer whose website, , features recipes for novices. Too many otherwise well-educated young people end up like many of her friends, she says, with refrigerators 'that are empty except for some beer and takeout leftovers.'

It doesn't have to be that way. If you are the parent of a teen or a young adult living at home, you still have time to pass on one of life's most useful and rewarding skills. Teaching your kids to cook is like teaching them to balance a checkbook or keep enough gas in the car, says Sandy Smith, a food writer and pastry chef in Saugerties, N.Y. 'It's a survival skill.'

It's a basic health tool, too, says Ed Bruske, a personal chef, kids' cooking teacher and food activist (blogging at in Washington, D.C. 'When you cook, you learn about real food' that doesn't come in a box or through a take-out window, he says. 'Anything you cook is bound to be healthier.'

Kids who leave home as cooks also will save money, especially if they've also learned to shop for groceries and stick to a budget, says Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

Dalai Lama Gives Up Political Role
NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 10, 2011: The Dalai Lama announced Thursday that he would formally relinquish his political leadership role in the Tibetan exile government, a decision intended to strengthen the democratic structure of the Tibetan movement on the eve of elections to choose a new generation of political leaders.
For years, the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, has spoken of his desire to cede political authority, or "retire," as he has sometimes put it. But in Thursday's speech he made it official, announcing that he would propose the change during the session of the Tibetan Parliament in exile that begins next week in Dharamsala, India.
"My desire to devolve authority has nothing to do with a wish to shirk responsibility," he said, according to a prepared text of his speech. "It is to benefit Tibetans in the long run."
Analysts who study Tibet said the announcement did not mean the Dalai Lama would cease to be recognized as the overall leader of the Tibetan cause. He is regarded as the lone figure capable of uniting and mobilizing Tibetans inside and outside of China.
But the analysts said that by formally giving up political power, the Dalai Lama, 75, was trying to deepen the authority of the movement's democratic government, which is based in Dharamsala. This month, Tibetan exiles are expected to elect a new prime minister.
"This is designed to give more credibility to whoever is elected," said Tim Johnson, the author of "Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World but Lost the Battle With China.
New Website To Help Visitors of Mayapur

By Gopijana Vallabha Das for ISKCON News on 30 Jun 2011

ISKCON Mayapur has launched the new Mayapur Tourism website .

The new website is geared toward all people whether they are practicing devotees or not. The site will be able to provide general information regarding Mayapur's places to visit, festival information and calendar, tour packages, accommodations, and transportation options. There is online booking available for tour packages, cars, and accommodations. There are still more pages that will are being added to the site.

High IQ link to being vegetarian

Intelligent children are more likely to become vegetarians later in life, a study says.

A Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10.

Researchers said it could explain why people with higher IQ were healthier as a vegetarian diet was linked to lower heart disease and obesity rates.

The study of 8,179 was reported in the British Medical Journal.

Twenty years after the IQ tests were carried out in 1970, 366 of the participants said they were vegetarian - although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken.

Men who were vegetarian had an IQ score of 106, compared with 101 for non-vegetarians; while female vegetarians averaged 104, compared with 99 for non-vegetarians.

[] We've always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment []
Liz O'Neill, of The Vegetarian Society

There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who reported eating fish or chicken.

Researchers said the findings were partly related to better education and higher occupational social class, but it remained statistically significant after adjusting for these factors.

Vegetarians were more likely to be female, to be of higher occupational social class and to have higher academic or vocational qualifications than non-vegetarians.

However, these differences were not reflected in their annual income, which was similar to that of non-vegetarians.

Lead researcher Catharine Gale said: "The finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, together with the evidence on the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet on heart health, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life."


However, she added the link may be merely an example of many other lifestyle preferences that might be expected to vary with intelligence, such as choice of newspaper, but which may or may not have implications for health.

Liz O'Neill, of the Vegetarian Society, said: "We've always known that vegetarianism is an intelligent, compassionate choice benefiting animals, people and the environment.

"Now we've got the scientific evidence to prove it. Maybe that explains why many meat-reducers are keen to call themselves vegetarians when even they must know that vegetarians don't eat chicken, turkey or fish."

But Dr Frankie Phillips, of the British Dietetic Association, said: "It is like the chicken and the egg. Do people become vegetarian because they have a very high IQ or is it just that they tend to be more aware of health issues?"

When Kids Go Vegetarian

UNITED STATES, December 4, 2010: A small but growing number of children and adolescents are consciously opting for a vegetarian diet. Earlier this year, a nationwide survey of 1,258 8- to 18-year-olds found that 3 percent never eat meat, poultry or seafood, up from 1.4 percent in 1995. That's an estimated 1.4 million young vegetarians today, says Reed Mangels, nutrition advisor for the Vegetarian Resource Group.

Mangels points out that two-thirds of these meatless kids are vegan, meaning that they also forgo animal products such as dairy and eggs. Vegetarianism "is definitely a more mainstream choice than ever before," says Mangels.

"'Vegetarian' is not synonymous with 'healthy'; you have to be making good, healthy food choices and avoiding junk food," says Hemant Sharma, a pediatrician at Children's National Medical Center. In fact, he points out, parents of a young vegetarian often need to be vigilant in monitoring their offspring's diet: "It's important to pay special attention and to plan different factors of a plant-based diet out carefully, to ensure that growing children get all of the nutrients they need."

Research on adult vegetarians suggests that a plant-based diet provides many ongoing health benefits. A small sampling published this summer in the peer-reviewed Nutrition Journal, suggests that vegetarians may be less depressed and have better mood profiles than meat-eaters. Lalita Kaul, a nutrition professor at Howard University College of Medicine and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says eating a well-planned, well-balanced vegetarian diet "can be healthful and appropriate at any age."

courtesy of Hinduism Today

American Fast Food Chains In India Discover the Appeal of Vegetarian Food

BANGALORE/DELHI, December 21, 2010: Cashing in on the rising fitness awareness among Indian consumers, players such as McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and Domino's are seeing over 50 per cent of their sales coming from their vegetarian spread.

In contrast, the global average of sales split for Domino's is 95 per cent from non-vegetarian offerings.

"Consumers are making smarter and healthier choices these days and are looking for leaner food, trying to avoid red meats and fats as much as possible. This is a growing trend not only in India but also globally," said Anup Jain, marketing director of Pizza Hut. For Pizza Hut, which at present operates a total of 120 restaurants across India, the vegetarian menu contributes about 70 per cent to its overall sales. The company is famous for its classic margherita and its signature 'kadai paneer' pizzas.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

A tale of two herds

What's the future for dairy farming? Juliette Jowit reports on new plans for an enormous super-dairy, home to 8,000 cows. John Vidal, meanwhile, visits a tiny herd of 44 in Hertfordshire – all have names and are cherished from birth to death
Juliette Jowit
The Guardian,Saturday 13 November 2010
Article history

"Cows do not belong in fields," said Peter Willes. And with those six words the dairy farmer ignited what could become the defining battle between the decades-old push for cheaper food and the campaign against the factory farming which produces it.

Willes is one of two directors of a company about to announce plans for what would be by far the UK's biggest milk-producing farm: several thousand cows kept, hundreds at a time, inside large barns for the vast majority of the year. Conservative MP and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith has called the proposals "squalid" and warned the project would "take farming to a new low".

The application, expected as soon as next week, is a second attempt: the first proposal for building a dairy for 8,100 cows in rural Lincolnshire and keeping them indoors around the clock, throughout the year, was withdrawn in April following public outcry when the vast scale of the Nocton dairy made it a national symbol of and rallying point for critics of the sort of intensive farming which has almost totally separated food and nature.

This week Willes told BBC radio's Farming Today programme the latest plan would be for fewer cows, and they would be allowed outside as a concession to objectors, while other environmental concerns, such as smell from the slurry and traffic through nearby villages, have also been dealt with.

However, documents shown to the Guardian by the developers a week ago still suggest numbers of up to 8,100 cows, which would make it without doubt the biggest dairy farm in the UK – where a typical herd has about 100 – if not in western Europe. The briefing, which could change by the time of the application, also says access to outdoor "loafing areas" will be restricted to 4.5 acres for each "mini herd" of 450 cows, for six to seven hours a day in summer, if the weather is good enough. These areas will not be for grazing and Willes and his co-director David Barnes "don't think many of the cows will want to go out," it adds. For the rest of the time, the mini-herds will be kept in large barns with 8.3 sq metres of concrete and sand for each animal – less than five times the space taken up by an average Holstein-Friesian dairy cow, or, relative to their sizes, roughly equivalent to a human in a standard toilet cubicle.

In these conditions the cows will be milked three times a day – about the rhythm cows choose on farms with on-demand feeding – and are expected to each produce 33 litres a day for 10 months a year. The current national average is 28 litres a day, which is itself nearly double what it was 30 years ago.

Despite the improvements, campaigners have warned they are still unhappy. "The issue really for us isn't so much that big is bad, the issue is the type of cows being used in these very large intensive dairies," said Pat Thomas, director of Compassion in World Farming's anti-Nocton campaign, named "Cows Belong in Fields" in honour of Willes's statement. "When you breed into cows this propensity for high yields you also breed in metabolic problems, and a tendency for mastitis, lameness and infertility, and also early death.

"Nocton is being heralded by its directors as the future of dairy farming. It's a rallying point for us because we don't believe this is the future of British diary farming; we don't believe it benefits the animals, the land, or the farmers." CIWF claims 100 small UK dairy farmers will be put out of business by Nocton, something the developers deny because of huge UK milk imports.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council has said Nocton's plans can provide "satisfactory welfare" (defined by the council as "the legal minimum standard" of welfare) if it is well managed, but there is concern about two previous convictions Willes received at other farms he owns. In 2008 he was fined for polluting a stream in north Devon after a case was brought by the Environment Agency, and in 2005 he had a 12-month conditional discharge after pleading guilty to having four types of antibiotics for cows which are illegal in the UK.

Defending their plans, Nocton's developers argue the super-dairy is big enough to allow them to invest in modern buildings and round-the-clock veterinary care, and by keeping cows indoors they can give them a better diet than they would get from grazing. They also point out no soy protein (associated with cutting down rainforests) will be fed to the cows, while surrounding arable land can be used to grow food for the cows, and benefit from the fertiliser they produce. The digester, used to transform cow slurry into fertiliser, will be different to US designs, so no pollution can escape. Willes said of his previous convictions that the spill was accidental and procedures were changed immediately; the drugs, he said, were prescribed by a vet and imported from Ireland to save money.

Explaining his statement to BBC Radio Humberside that "cows do not belong in fields", Willes compared intensive farming to the progress of humans from caves to cities. "Dairy cows throughout the UK spend at least five to six months of the year in buildings because during the winter months it's too wet to go out into the fields and there's no crops growing for them," continued Willes. "By bringing our cows in for longer, more of the year, we can invest in a system that's far better for the cows."

Standing in the centre ground of this debate are people such as Jon Huxley, associate professor of farm animal medicine at the University of Nottingham. Writing in the October Veterinary Record journal, Huxley and his colleague Martin Green said it is "simplistic and naive to blame the industry" or supermarkets for responding to the huge consumer pressure for cheaper milk. "If … future developments such as higher individual yield, total confinement and the super-dairy are not what we as a society want, we have to vote with our wallet and our feet."

Thomas responds: "If people saw the conditions the cows are in, how unnatural the intensive environment is, they'd know it wasn't right. A five-year-old knows cows belong in fields."

John Vidal

It is an picture of unmitigated bliss. Tulsi and Radika, a pair of beautiful dairy shorthorns, shuffle quietly in knee-deep straw; Gopi chomps a carrot offered by a visitor and Sarasavati and Padmavato murmur beside two calves born a few weeks ago. The Hare Krishna herd of 44 cows and oxen at George Harrison's old mansion in Hertfordshire is as calm as a temple.

Last week the 200 people who live and work in what is now called Bhaktivedanta Manor opened their £2.5m "protected cow" complex. It's been called a "Hilton for cows" and a blueprint for sustainable dairy farming, but the 3,000 sq metre building which is the herd's winter home, is a cross between a nursery, a workhouse and an old cows' home. The cradle-to-grave philosophy of the Hindu group known for its bells and chants ensures that any bovine on the 100-acre farm will not just be treated with respect while it lives, but will not be slaughtered if it is born male, if it falls ill or when it dries up – as happens in most commercial dairy farming.

Tulsi, Radika and co may be the most loved cows in Britain, says farm manager Shyamasundara – birth name Stuart Coyle. There are only four farms he knows that have similar no-kill policies. All the animals have names, they have all the space they want and they live on grass most of the year. The 11 that are lactating are hand-milked while listening to traditional Sanskrit music, the calves get their mothers' milk for their first five months and only then are separated. Only four of the 11 are made pregnant each year; the others are expected to pull ploughs and turn a wheel.

But if any society can be judged by how it treats its old, then the Hare Krishna cows appear to live in the ultimate nanny state. The animals all retire at around 15 – about 60 in human years – after which they are only expected to leave urine and dung on the fields to enrich the soil. And when one dies it can expect flowers and a farewell ceremony.

"It's the best a cow can get," says Shyamasundara. "They are part of our community. They give us their lifeblood in the form of milk and we care for them all their life. Of all the animals in the world the cow is the most important to humans. The cow replaces the role of the mother. You wouldn't bump your mum off if she stopped giving milk."

The 11 cows provide about 1,000 litres of "ahimsa milk" (milk produced without harm to any living being) a week, much of which is used by the group, but the plan is to sell it to the general public next year at £3 a litre. It will be the most expensive cows' milk in Britain but so many people have asked for it, they may increase the size of the herd. "Once the new dairy is working we may build it up. We can see ourselves growing it to 200 cows," he says.

According to Hindu philosophy, man and cow were created side by side; the animals are sentient beings and the relationship between them and people is spiritual not economic. Shyamasundara is not too bothered if the cows are a trifle overweight or don't have a "scientifically balanced" diet because they are being fed "for happiness not profit", he says. For him, the very idea of turning them into milk machines, as proposed by the Nocton dairies for Lincolnshire, is abhorrent.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with 8,000 cows. It's how they live and are cared for that is important. But what is proposed [for Lincolnshire] is the most remote system conceivable, the furthest away from nature that you can go. It's factory farming at its most efficient, where a cow is just a number, a chemical-based machine; not loved, but milked robotically and overseen by computers. It's not how life is meant to be. Life should be happy. The nature of cows is peaceful and living near them is relaxing. The automated callousness of that kind of environment must go into the milk," says Shyamasundara.

It is not at all naive or simplistic to farm the Hare Krishna way, he says, because intensive dairy farming has many hidden costs that are not reflected in the price of milk and is heavily subsidised.

"The £3-a-litre cost is the real price of producing the best milk and caring for animals.

This kind of farming is highly efficient in that it employs people and animals, cares for the land and does not pollute. It can provide food for the masses."

The milk taste test: Can our experts tell the difference?

We asked our panel of experts to compare the Hare Krishna milk with the supermarket version

Sam Clark (chef, Moro restaurant, north London)

Looking at both of these, the colour is hugely different, and tells a big story without even tasting them. You can also see that one of the milks has a much better viscosity. One tastes like a very ordinary low-grade milk; you can feel that the cow didn't go to a lot of effort for that, it's probably over-milked.

The other one tastes like a meal in itself. You really feel it's got a lot of goodness, it tastes three times more concentrated, there's not just a marginal difference here. The flavour lasts for a long time, it doesn't just disappear. People are so used to drinking thin, high-volume milk that they might find it difficult to drink this, they might find it too strong. It's sad that we're so used to a watered-down version.

We make all our own cheese and yoghurt here at Moro, and of course I'd love to use milk like this to produce it. You can tell it'd make a great cheese or yoghurt. I wish my kids could drink this. It tastes like you're on a farm. The flavour is very complex and really stays with you. There's no comparison. This is the real thing.

Rosie Sykes (chef and author)

Number two [the Hare Krishna milk] was much richer and more delicious and generally lovelier. It had an amazing silky texture. I've never drunk milk like that before. It even moved in a different way; it seemed very rich. I could imagine that making anything with it would improve it so much. If you made a white sauce or a custard with that it would be incredible. It was almost like cream, it was so rich. When I first opened it I actually wondered if it was all right, because it almost smelt like it was raw; not cheesy but more smelly than ordinary milk. You can't really smell shop-bought milk unless it's gone bad, but this had a definite smell. Once I tried it I realised it was fine, and instantly thought, my god, it's incredible.

I knew the other milk was normal milk as it seemed thin and lighter and bubbly.

John Vidal (Guardian environment editor)

Oooh it's creamy! It's rich! Mmmmmm! It's delicious! The other one is beige and bland. It's like a Stilton compared with Dairylea.

Interviews by Kate Abbott


locavore or localvore

noun [countable]

a person who only eats food which is grown or produced locally

'Since eating locally was all the rage in 2007, forage for an edible basket of Ontario (or at least Canadian) goodies for the locavore in your life …'
Toronto Star 20th December 2007

You're in the UK, sitting down to what looks like a conventional meal of fish and steamed vegetables. But take a minute to consider the collective distance the component parts might have travelled before reaching your plate. New potatoes from Ireland, organic carrots from Spain, green beans from Kenya, and salmon fillet from … Scotland? Well, no, Norway, actually. If you're suddenly consumed by guilt because the resulting number of food miles equates to a round-the-world ticket, then maybe you should consider becoming a locavore.

arguing that fresh, locally-produced food is more nutritious and tastes better, the locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers' markets or even grow their own food

The new noun locavore (also sometimes localvore), refers to a person who prefers to eat food which is grown or produced locally. By 'locally', a locavore usually means very close to home or within a particular distance of where they live, generally no more than a 100-mile radius. Arguing that fresh, locally-produced food is more nutritious and tastes better, the locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers' markets or even grow their own food. Locavores are also keen to emphasize the environmental benefits of sourcing food locally, i.e. cutting or eliminating the cost of transportation and its related use of fuels, packaging and other non-renewable resources.

Fellow locavores can share tips and provide inspiration to one another on a dedicated website

Closely associated with the word locavore is the expression 100-Mile Diet, which similarly refers to the buying and eating of food grown or produced strictly within a 100-mile radius of the consumer. This expression is based on an experiment undertaken by Canadian authors Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, who for one year sourced all their food and drink within a 100-mile radius of their apartment in Vancouver.

Background – locavore

In connection with World Environment Day, the noun locavore was coined in 2005 by Jessica Prentice, a professional chef and author from San Francisco.

The term is of course a blend of local and -vore, modelled on nouns such as carnivore (a human/animal that eats meat) and herbivore (an animal that only eats plants). The productive suffix -vore is derived from related adjectival suffix -vorous meaning 'feeding on a specified food'. Following the model of carnivorous, there is already some evidence for a related adjective locavorous. The noun locavorism is also sometimes used to describe the practice itself.

Though locavore has only been around for a couple of years, it has gained some exposure in a climate of growing concern about healthy eating and eco-sensitive lifestyles. It follows in the footsteps of related expressions such as slow food and food miles, and at the end of 2007 was chosen as word of the year by editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Paul McCartney Concert Goes From Vegetarian to Krishnatarian

By Jayadhvaja Das for ISKCON News on 30 Jul 2010

It is well known that Paul McCartney’s” Up and Coming Tour” was declared 100% vegetarian, and meat-free meals are being served to his musicians and crew. What only a few people know is that the Miami stop of the tour went from vegetarian to Krishnatarian, since a devotee and his assistant were hired to cook for the crew: a local Executive Chef Jasodananda Das, disciple of Hanumatpresaka Swami and Sous Chef Prema Das. A company from Chicago named ”All Access Hospitality” contacted the devotees and after a few interviews they were selected to cook for the Miami show for eight days, from 5 am to 6 pm, serving 3 meals a day.

In Jasodananda’s own words “It was a lot of hard work that we enjoyed doing, cooking for 200 to 280 people. We had a huge tent attached to the stadium with a huge 55 ft long cooler. At the beginning the crew didn’t know what was going on during the offering time. We had Srila Prabhupada singing all the time; I told them that the food had to be offered to Krishna before we can eat it. They were little uneasy, but after a while they got used to it and I was asked frequently: “Is the food offered yet?” It became a regular thing and the band used to eat with us, Paul had our food on regular basis because he likes to supervise how the crew is being served, many special guest including Eric Clapton and Tina Turner took Krishna Prasadam. One day Paul was eating halavah and he liked it so much that his personal chef asked Jasodananda for this recipe and others. Paul was happy to eat that halavah and offered it to other members of the band .Most of the crew became familiar with the bhajans played on the altar; everybody knew that we were Hare Krishnas”.

Jayadhvaja Prabhu says: “I went around the stadium and met PETA’s people, Paul McCartney had them all over the stadium with flyers and passing on the message “Become a vegetarian”. They were very happy to see devotees in the show, we exchanged books, I gave them “The Higher Taste” and they gave me their flyers and a DVD of Paul McCartney preaching vegetarianism.

When the show was over Paul McCartney’s team including the personal chef invited Jasodananda to come to England, they would like to see them again on the next tour. “All Access Hospitality”, the company from Chicago has made an offer to the devotees to cook for future shows where a vegetarian diet is requested. The company’s manager Jeff Schmel was impressed with the varieties of the food put together by the devotees, they were expecting a few preparations and they found 184 different preparations altogether, a feast of International Gourmet Prasadam: American, Italian, Chinese, South American, Jewish, Spaniard, Asian including Indian, Thai, Korean. During the Miami stop of the tour the crew became addicted to prasadam. As Jasodananda says: “ Krishna is the Supreme Controller, the recipes came from Krishna, He is the expert cook and he directed the whole show.”

Note: There were no pictures taken due to working agreements.

Read more:

Why It Is Important To Drink Lots Of Water

By Cindy Jones-Shoeman for Natural News on 4 Nov 2010

More than fifty percent of the human body is made of water. Knowing that, it's not hard to realize how important staying hydrated is to a person's well-being. In fact, dehydration can cause confusion, dizziness, and sluggishness in addition to other more serious symptoms. And while people can go for weeks without eating, a person can't live more than a few days without water. Water is a precious, valuable resource for the human body.

Knowing this, people still persist in drinking beverages that don't truly hydrate and cleanse the body. In the modern day, it's so much easier to grab a sugary soda or a grande latte than it is to pour a simple, clean cup of water. But if a person can drink the water instead, she will reap so many benefits! Here are just a few of them:

Detoxification: Randa Khalil says on Disabled World's website that water is "the most ancient and potent natural detox aid ever known to mankind." Unlike other fluids people can put in their bodies, water is clean and pure, and it helps the body remove toxins from their diet. The kidneys have a daunting task, but water can help them.

As a diet aid: It might sound funny, but lots of people on the Standard American Diet confuse thirst for hunger, so instead of drinking a glass of water, they eat! While many foods have water in them, there might not be enough to satisfy a person's thirst. If a person is trying to watch his weight, he might try drinking a glass of water first. His body will thank him.

Rehydration: People need to rehydrate during the day. As people lose water simply by living - through urination and breathing, people lose water every day, so it's important to fill back up. People also need to rehydrate when they have been exercising or if they are ill; in fact, water is even more important during these times.

Water is important in so many ways, but people today are worried about their water sources. Fortunately, there are good filtration systems to cleanse water before a person drinks it. People on a budget can purchase water pitchers with replaceable carbon filters. These filters can remove many impurities in water, toxins like lead, mercury, copper, and cadmium. Some filters can even remove a majority of chlorine and fluoride.

There's no excuse not to drink plenty of water. After all, doesn't it make sense to replenish the body's most important element?

Read more:

A Vegetarian Nutrition Pioneer

UNITED STATES, September 24, 2010: Dr. Mervyn Hardinge, born in 1914 in Calcutta, India, died in September 2010 at age 96. He was a pioneer in the field of vegetarian nutrition, providing evidence of the benefits of a vegetarian diet during the 1940s. He was a medical doctor and professor, who held doctoral degrees from both Harvard and Stanford universities, and later founded the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University.

His research confirmed that there are adequate amounts of protein in a vegetarian diet and that animal-fat intake is linked to serum cholesterol concentrations. His data was used for many years by researchers evaluating fatty acid content of diets. He wrote more than 60 peer-review journal articles.

[HPI notes: Dr. Mervyn Hardinge, was a member of the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian group which advocates vegetarianism. His research was instrumental in providing proof to the western medical establishment that a vegetarian diet is healthy -- actually, more healthy.]

UK Scientists Suggest Giving Up Certain Foods to Save the Planet

EAST ANGLIA, UNITED KINGDOM: October 26, 2010: Scientists from the University of East Anglia analyzed existing data on the nutritional and environmental effects of different kinds of foods and recommended eating less beef, sugar, and cheese, as well as drinking less tea and coffee. The report was commissioned by the Food Standards Agency to try to change the way people cook and eat.

The report suggests that schools, hospitals and other public bodies should be expected to lead a change in national behavior by putting food on their menus which has contributed little to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report noted: “The highest GHG emissions are associated with beef, cheese, coffee, tea and cocoa consumption.”

Red meat linked to cancer

Red meat lovers may have a greater likelihood of developing certain cancers of the throat and stomach than people who limit their intake of steaks and hamburgers, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 500,000 older US adults followed for a decade, only a small number developed cancers of the esophagus or stomach. However, the risks were relatively greater among those who ate a lot of red meat, or certain compounds generated from cooking meat.

Overall, study participants in the top 20 percent for red meat intake were 79 percent more likely than those in the bottom 20 percent to develop esophageal squamous cell carcinoma - a cancer that arises in the lining of the upper part of the esophagus.

Meanwhile, the risk of a type of cancer in the upper portion of the stomach near the esophagus (gastric cardia) was elevated among men and women with the highest estimated intake of one form of heterocyclic amine (HCA). HCAs are compounds that form when meat is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as grilling over an open flame; they have been found to cause cancer in lab animals.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, do not prove that red meat promotes the two cancers, the researchers emphasise.

Dr Amanda J Cross of the US National Cancer Institute said further large, prospective studies are needed to see whether the relationship between red meat and the two cancers is real. She pointed out, though, that many health authorities already recommend that people limit their consumption of red and processed meats for the sake of their overall health.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 21,000 cases of stomach cancer and 16,640 cases of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in 2010.

Future Demands For Meat Alone Are a Threat to Climate

October 12th, 2010


NOVA SCOTIA, October 2010: If demand for meat, poultry, eggs and dairy keeps pace with projections, by 2050 the environmental consequences of livestock production could be responsible for 70 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions considered a safe threshold for the planet, new research says.

By comparison, a UN report estimated that livestock production in 2000 produced about 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This leaves little room for all of the other sources of greenhouse gases, such as transportation and electricity, which now account for more than 80 percent of emissions.

courtesy of Hinduism Today

No Meat for the Former President

USA, October 13, 2010: After undergoing a quadruple bypass five years ago, former President Bill Clinton was hospitalized in February with a clogged artery. Two stents placed inside the artery took care of the problem at the time, but Clinton decided he didn’t want it to happen again.

So he reportedly did some research himself and found 82 percent of heart attack patients since 1986 who had gone on a plant-based diet could heal themselves. Not only is he healing his heart, but in the process Clinton has lost 24 pounds.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons a person can have not only to fight heart disease, but a laundry list of other ailments. Just ask a dietician. “About 15 percent of my patients are prediabetic, 15 percent overweight or obese children, 15 percent high cholesterol, 2 percent eating disorders and the remaining population is diabetes,” said Angelica Gronke, a registered dietician at ThedaCare’s Appleton Medical Center.

Warts and All
By Antony Brennan on 15 Oct 2010

Amongst the things the animal flesh industry would prefer you didn’t know about are viral infections contracted by workers in the meat industry. Fresh meat is so laden with viruses that there is a well-defined medical condition colloquially known as “butcher’s warts,” affecting the hands of those who handle the flesh of dead cows, poultry and fish. Not only do the people who handle the flesh of dead creatures contract a virus that causes warts, but so also do those who work with them, and their families.

According to a paper called Treatment of Warts by Steven and Joshua Pray, although warts can affect anyone, people who work with raw meat are at “particularly high risk of butcher's warts.”

The International Journal of Epidemiology published an article called: The Aetiology and Risk Factors for Warts among Poultry Processing Workers. Researchers conducted an investigation at a poultry processing plant in New Zealand to study the prevalence of warts among workers and the risk of developing warts. The study found that “Almost half had developed wart-like lesions on their arms or hands after they began working at the plant.” People working in areas where they often handled dead, raw, unfrozen chickens were three times more likely to have developed warts.

Another report published by the Journal of Clinical Microbiology reveals that even the wives of butchers seem to be “at higher risk of cervical cancer,” which is associated with exposure to the wart virus. The report also says “concerns about viral infection have led to recommendations that pregnant women and people with AIDS not work on the slaughter lines.”

The report “Mortality in the Baltimore Union Poultry Cohort: Non-Malignant Diseases,” paints a darker picture by concluding that “Poultry workers may have excess occurrence of disease affecting several organs and systems, probably originating from widespread infection with a variety of micro-organisms.” The report also concludes, “Poultry workers as a group had an overall excess of deaths” from a variety of diseases.

An update to the union poultry cohort report says, “Compared to the US general population, an excess of cancers of the buccal and nasal cavities and pharynx, esophagus, recto-sigmoid/rectum/anus, liver and intrabiliary system, myelofibrosis, lymphoid leukemia and multiple myeloma was observed in particular subgroups or in the entire poultry cohort.”

There is already a great deal of clinical evidence that eating the flesh of dead creatures causes disease amongst humans. Now we know that even touching the flesh of dead creatures may not only cause warts, but increased mortality. The weight of evidence for vegetarianism continues to grow.

In his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4, chapter 25, verse 8, Srila Prabhupada tells us “When animals are killed in a slaughterhouse, six people connected with the killing are responsible for the murder. The person who gives permission for the killing, the person who kills, the person who helps, the person who purchases the meat, the person who cooks the flesh and the person who eats it, all become entangled in the killing.” Scientists and researchers are continuing to provide the evidence to support the karmic consequences of the desire to kill and eat other creatures. Tell your friends.

Does Eating Meat Mean Living in Denial?

by Brandon Bosworth

It's the great Meat Paradox: How is it that people who would never consider hurting animals have no problem eating them? A recent study from the University of Kent points to a possible answer.

The study's abstract notes that many people "enjoy eating meat but disapprove of harming animals." How do they resolve this dilemma?  According to researchers, "One resolution to this conflict is to withdraw moral concern from animals and deny their capacity to suffer."  To test this possibility, subjects in the study were instructed to "eat dried beef or dried nuts and then indicate their moral concern for animals and judge the moral status and mental states of a cow." The result?

"Eating meat reduced the perceived obligation to show moral concern for animals in general and the perceived moral status of the cow. It also indirectly reduced the ascription of mental states necessary to experience suffering. People may escape the conflict between enjoying meat and concern for animal welfare by perceiving animals as unworthy and unfeeling."

The study was conducted by Dr. Steve Loughnan, Research Associate at the University’s School of Psychology. According to Dr. Loughnan, "Some people do choose to stop eating meat when they learn that animals suffer for its production. An overwhelming majority do not. Our research shows that one way people are able to keep eating meat is by dampening their moral consideration of animals when sitting at the dinner table."

Essentially, meat-eaters want to avoid the cognitive dissonance of both caring about animal suffering while simultaneously contributing to that suffering. To accomplish this they rely on that old standby known as denial. People and the societies they create are great deniers. It makes cruelty and injustice so much easier, especially when it comes to animals. The livestock industry denies that farm animals are anything more than protein sources. Whalers deny whales are really mammals. Scientists experimenting on animals deny that their subjects feel pain. Pretty much anyone involved with the exploitation of non-human animals makes denial a lifestyle.

I have to admit I lived the bulk of my life engaging in the kind of denial revealed in the University of Kent study. My feelings of squeamishness about eating meat went out the window if someone placed, say, a hamburger in front of me.  I forced myself into a state of moral ignorance, allowing myself to forget that I was consuming something that was formerly a living, breathing animal with an individual personality and feelings. Yet, for me at least, this couldn't go on forever, and I could fool myself no longer. So I became a vegetarian, negating the Meat Paradox once and for all.

Giving up meat can be hard, but is it better to give up your morals?

House of Parliament to go meat free?

The Meat Free Monday campaign has been gaining more and more support and this week there was a very interesting development when Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington John Leech submitted a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for all catering authorities at the Houses of Parliament to go meat free every Monday.

On hearing about the EDM Paul said, “This may seem like an unusual idea for Parliament to adopt but it would be good to see them giving a positive lead by at least trying it. Many schools, restaurants and businesses across both the US and UK have implemented Meat Free Mondays successfully, as well as tens of thousands of individuals.” Instead of why would they do it, Paul asked, why, when so many people are making such an effort to do their bit for the environment, wouldn’t Parliament do it?

MP John Leech along with campaign supporters believes that Parliament should set an example by supporting Meat Free Mondays. He has called for MPs to acknowledge that current UN figures suggest that meat production is responsible for approximately 18% of global carbon emissions and something needs to be done in order to fight against climate change. A less meat-orientated diet would help promote this.

The McCartney family publicly launched their Meat Free Monday campaign in June 2009 after Paul had read the UN report ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’. It outlined the serious impact that the livestock industry has on the environment. Supporting Meat Free Monday is an easy way of helping with environmental problems as well as tackling diet related problems.

To date the campaign has attracted a long list of impressive supporters including Vice President Al Gore, Chris Martin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sir Richard Branson, Joanna Lumley, Leona Lewis, Ricky Gervais, Bryan Adams, David Walliams, Kevin Spacey, Sheryl Crow to name just a few. This year has also seen the Meat Free Monday campaign supported by the Hard Rock Café, which has a special meat-free menu it promotes every Monday.

Speaking about the campaign Paul said, “I think many of us feel helpless in the face of environmental challenges, and it can be hard to know how to sort through the advice about what we can do to make a meaningful contribution to a cleaner, more sustainable, healthier world. Having one designated meat free day a week is actually a meaningful change that everyone can easily make, that goes to the heart of several important political, environmental and ethical issues all at once.”

See similar articles at Vegetarianism & Beyond:


Once when a saintly person was passing on his way, he met a prince, the son of a king, and he blessed him, saying, "Raja putra ciram jiva:  You are a king's son, a prince.  May you live forever."  Eventually the sage met a brahmacari devotee, and he blessed him, saying, "Muni-putra ma jiva:  My dear devotee, you may die immediately."  The sage next met a saintly person and said to him, "jiva va maro va:  You may either live or die."  Finally the sage met a hunter, and he blessed him, saying, "Ma jiva ma mara:  Neither live nor die."

MORAL:  Those who are very sensual and are engaged in sense gratification do not wish to die.  Generally a prince has enough money to enjoy his senses, therefore the great sage said that he should live forever, for as long as he lived he could enjoy life, but after death he would go to hell.  Since the brahmacari devotee led a life of severe austerities and penances in order to be promoted back to Godhead, the sage said that he should die immediately so he would not have to keep labouring hard but could instead go back to Godhead.  Since the hunter leads a very ghastly life due to killing animals, and since he will go to hell when he dies, he is advised to neither live nor die.   And a saintly person may either live or die, because during life he is serving the Lord, and after death he also serves the Lord.  Thus this life and the next are the same for the saintly devotee, for in both he serves the Lord.  Raja-putra ciram jiva muni-putra ma jiva / jiva ma maro va ma jiva ma mara.

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?

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