Shravan Shukla 13, Vik.Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 16 August 2016

3. 70th Independence Day 4. Hinduism does not allow conversion by aggression: Mohan Bhagwat
5. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj of BAPS Passes Away  6.  8th Hindu Spiritual & Service Fair
7.  PRADHAN MANTRI says PoK is ours 8.  "Balasaheb was 'Deoras' in true sense"
9.   KANWAR FOR NATION 10. UK Armed Forces Celebrate Raksha Bandhan
11. Hinduism and science 12.  Georgetown - First Full Time Director for Hindu Life
13.  FIJI Third Hindu Conference 14.  Vedic science helps Rajastahn boy achieve memory feat
15. Manipuri Woman makes Naga Food a Rage in Belgium 16. RSS condemned violence against Dalits
17. Army to get steep-dive BrahMos missile regiment for China front 18. Stop baiting RSS, says BBC icon Mark Tully
19. Civilisation in Sunderbans traced to Mauryan era 20.  INDIA HEALTH LINE NOW IN KERALA TOO
21. First Ganga cargo transport trial begins 22. Bharat Appreciates Saudi Arabia's Action For bharatiya Workers
23. Kudankulum n-plant marks historic step in Bharat-Russia relations 24. SEWA BHARATI CONDUCTED Medical Camp for women-jail inmates


A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE: “Sanskriti Mahashibir”


Being a Hindu, Being an Ambassador for Hinduism

1.   FESTIVALS: Janmashtami, also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Bhagwan Sri Krishna. The festival is celebrated on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadrapad (25th August this year). Temples are decorated, Krishna's infancy "Laddu Gopal" is placed in swings and cradles. Devotees observe upavaas, perform bhajan-keertans. The celebration concludes in the mid-night with serving charnamrita & bhogprasad to all.

As the celebrations in Bharat and around the world, Fiji's Janmastami celebrations last for eight days leading up to the day Krishna was born. During these eight days, devotees gather at homes and at temples with their 'mandalis' at evenings and night, and recite the Bhagavat Purana, sing devotional songs and distribute Prasadam. -goTop


2. DEAL WITH DIVISIVE FORCES, INTOLERANCE FIRMLY: RASHTRAPATI JI: In his address to the nation on the eve of Bharat's 70th Independence Day, Rashtrapati Shri Pranab Mukherjee expressed hope that the country would collectively defeat polarising forces and march ahead on the path of progress. Expressing concerns over global terror activities and radicalisation and also about certain developments involving weaker sections of the country; he hoped that the collective wisdom of our society and our polity gives the confidence that such forces will remain marginalised and Bharat's remarkable growth story will continue uninterrupted. "In the just-concluded session of Parliament, the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill for the introduction of GST amidst non-partisan and quality parliamentary deliberations is enough to celebrate our democratic maturity," he added. -goTop


3. 70th Independence Day: Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi addressed the nation on the 70th Independence Day from the Red Fort on 15th August. Slamming recent terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said that the country will not yield to terrorism and extremism and youth should shun violence and return to mainstream. He especially thanked people of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoKwho have thanked him a lot in past few days. Evoking patriotism, Modi said we may not get an opportunity to die for the country but we have the opportunity to live for the country. Shri Modi thanked all political parties for supporting the Goods and Service Tax (GST) bill. On inflation Shri Modi said his government had brought down the annual inflation rate to below six percent from 10 percent earlier and are working with the RBI to bring down inflation to 4% levels.

While deliberating on various initiatives and achievements at length, Modi sought support for the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' initiative which focuses on the girl child. He said one healthy, educated and economically independent woman can pull a family out of poverty. -goTop


4. Hinduism does not allow conversion by aggression: Mohan Bhagwat: Hindu tradition does not allow conversion by means that amount to aggression on an individual's human rights, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat said.

He added that Hinduism is not a religion but is a tradition which believes in accepting and respecting all identities. He was addressing a seminar on 'Identity and Integration', organised to mark the 50th anniversary of UK-based charity Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), in London on 2 August.

Shri Bhagwat quoted verses from the Atharva Veda to prove that diversity existed even in ancient times and "unity in diversity" was the central mantra of Hinduism. The August 2nd seminar which concluded his UK tour included panelists like Dr Girdharilal Bhan, former national president of VHP, Samani Pratibha Pragya, head nun of Jain Vishva Bharati London, and Gauri Das, managing director of Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON UK. -goTop


5. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj of BAPS Passes Away: His holiness pramukh swami maharaj, the spiritual head of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS) passed away at Sarangpur, Gujarat, on 13th August at the age of 95; Swami ji was not keeping well since last two years.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born on December 7, 1921 to a humble farmer's family in the small village of Chansad, near Vadodara in Gujarat. In 1939, he received initiation into the sadhu-fold from his guru, Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj and was named Sadhu Narayanswarupdas. In 1950, at the age of 28, Shastriji Maharaj selected him as the President (Pramukh) of BAPS in his place. Since then, he had been fondly known as "Pramukh Swami." In 1971, after the departure of guru Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj succeeded him as the fifth spiritual guru of BAPS. Over the next 45 years, his unremitting satsang travels, selfless services to society, saintly virtues and profound devotion to God earned him the respect and reverence of countless worldwide.

He also created and consecrated over 1,100 mandirs worldwide and grand cultural complexes like Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and Gandhinagar to portray the cultural and spiritual heritage of Bharat.

Renowned spiritual masters and heads of state have been deeply touched by his humility, saintliness and noble works. These include His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Padhan Mantri Narendra Modi, President Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman al Khalifa of Bahrain, and many royals, heads of state and other dignitaries. -goTop


6.  8th Hindu Spiritual & Service Fair: Bharat must switch to swadeshi products to achieve economic independence, said Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev while inaugurating the 8th Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair (HSSF) held at AM Jain College grounds, Meenambakkam in Chennai. Jathedar of Patna Sahib Giani Iqbal Singh, Central University of Tibetan Studies Vice-Chancellor Geshe Ngawang and Dr. Veerendra Hegde of Dharmasthala Temple were also present in the inaguration ceremony of the fair.  

During the six day long festival over 1,000 competitions and 180 traditional games were conducted and it also inlcuded stalls of 400 organisations those sell handlooms, books, devotional items. The fair has different themes each day like, Protecting environment, Respecting parents, teachers, elders, cherishing womanhood, Protecting all living beings, Promoting patriotism, and Protecting forest, wildlife. -goTop


7.   PRADHAN MANTRI says PoK is ours: Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi has asserted that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is ours as much as Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. The Prime Minister asked the External Affairs Ministry to contact residents of PoK staying abroad and get information from them about the pathetic conditions in PoK and let the world know the facts. Addressing an all party meeting on August 13 in New Delhi on prevailing situation in Kashmir valley, Mr. Modi said, the main cause of unrest is cross-border terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country. -goTop


8.  "Balasaheb was 'Deoras' in true sense": "The late Balasaheb Deoras set an example of devoted life for the organisational cause and his thought process and commitment to social harmony has been the major contribution to the society which will always be remembered. Taking inspiration from RSS founder Dr Hedgewar and Shri Guruji, he tirelessly devoted 70 years of his life for the sole purpose of spreading the RSS across all walks of life. He was 'DEORAS' in true sense," said RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi, while delivering Rambhau Mhalgi Memorial Lecture recently in Pune. Making special reference of this year being the centenary year of the third Sarsanghchalak of RSS Shri Balasaheb Deoras, Shri Joshi mentioned that the year is also the centenary year of great organisers like the late Nanaji Deshmukh, Eknath Ranade and Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya.

 Presiding over the function, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sampark Pramukh Prof Aniruddha Deshpande recollected the association - Pune had with Balasaheb Deoras including the imprisonment at Yerwada Jail during the Emergency.  Ravindra Sathe briefed the audience about the activities of the Prabodhini and mentioned the international recognition that it received from the UN. -goTop


9.   KANWAR FOR NATION: It was a different Shiv Ratri (Shravan Krishna Triyodashi) in North-West Uttar Pradesh this year. The Dharm Jagran Samanvaya Vibhag (DJSV) of RSS, Merath  Prant, struck the novel idea to carry "Ek Kanwar Rashtra ke Nam". They got printed thousands of saffron T-shirts with these words and also arranged for thousands of national flags. They called upon the youth to make a 'sankalp' for the country along with their personal wishes while carrying the Gangajal to be offered on the Shivlingas. The idea proved a big hit among the youth.

Shri Ishwar Dayal, DJSV head West-UP and Uttarakhand, said, "Initially we planned for about 3000 Kanwariyas constituting 280 groups from as many places of Meerut Prant, but as it turned out more than 30,000 from about 350 places and this spirit widely adopted by other Kanwariyas and the number exceeded lakhs." This year hundreds of Kanwar service camps also displayed pictures of Bharat Mata and played patriotic songs. -goTop


10. UK Armed Forces Celebrate Raksha Bandhan:  Armed Forces personnel from across the United Kingdom celebrated Raksha Bandhan. The event was celebrated at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in London on August 12. Speaking at the event, minister of state in ministry of defence in the House of Lords, Earl Howe said the festival's "potent symbol" resonated to all servicemen of all kinds of faith.

"The tying of Rakhi to symbolise bonds of mutual protection is a potent symbol for all here today and one that resonates beyond the Hindu religion to all servicemen and women, whatever their beliefs," he said. The event was also "to celebrate the contribution of Hindus to the defence of the UK".

"There are currently around 2,500 Hindus serving in the armed forces and they continue the proud tradition of their predecessors in serving their country, upholding the values that we all hold dear," said Armed Forces Hindu Network Champion, Rear Admiral Graeme Mackay. -goTop


11. Hinduism and science: Hindu Conference in Australia in Adelaide (SA Chapter) recently organised its first Hindu Conference on the theme "Hinduism and Science".

The conference was started with presentation by three young Swamis of BAPS on contributions of Hindu rishi-scientists to science and mathematics. Several other topics like Aryabhatta and Bhaskaracharya, aeroplane construction in Bharadwaja's writings dating back to 400BC were presented by students and professionals. Prof. Himanshu Pota in his concluding remarks said that there is a need of good understanding of Hinduism through rigorous research and analysis. Dr Nihal Agar, Dr Dilip Chirmuley and Chirag Trivedi were among the organisers of the conference.  -goTop


12.  Georgetown - First Full Time Director for Hindu Life:Interim Vice President for Mission and Ministry Rev. Howard Gray, S.J. on August 8 appointed Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan as Georgetown's first full-time director for Hindu life starting this fall, making him the first Hindu priest chaplain in the United States. Before joining Georgetown, Sharan was honorary Hindu chaplain at the University of Edinburgh since 2010. Sharan, Ph.D. in Sanskrit from University of Edinburgh was initiated in 2003 at Shri Golok Dham Ashram where he is currently a senior monk. He also served as a lecturer of Asian religions at Cardiff University in Wales and as a senior teaching fellow in Sanskrit at the University of London in England. -goTop


13.  FIJI Third Hindu Conference: The third National Hindu Conference was held at Studio 6 in Suva on August 6. The conference was well atteneded by Government agencies, Hindu organizations, temples respresentatives, businessmen and volunteers which drew at least 200 delegates. National President of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Fiji, Jay Dayal said: "The conference provided a platform to address how successful Hindus have been serving their communities. This was in line with our conference theme 'Serving Community, Serving Fiji'." Dayal said the one of the major task undertaken by the VHP was the relief work for post Cyclone Winston. He added, "VHP exercised all due care to reach out to people irrespective of their race, religion or creed."  His Excellency Vishvas Sapkal the High Commissioner of Bharat, Kamlesh Arya of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha Fiji and Virendra Lal of Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha Fiji were also present in the conference. -goTop


14.  Vedic science helps Rajastahn boy achieve memory feat: A 19-year-old student of Shiksha Shastri at Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Rajasthan Sanskrit University, Sunil Kumar from Jaipur set a world record by memorising 5,710 post-decimal digits of the square root of two. He recently broke the 10-year-old record set by a US citizen who has held the record for 10 years. The achievement has been registered by Pi World Ranking List, a body which registers records of memorising the highest number of Pi and Sqrt(2) values. Sharma set the record by reciting post-decimal values of square root of two in one hour and 42 minutes. Sharma's life transformed after his father insisted that he study Rig Veda and Yajur Veda.  The Vedas taught Sharma to recall information by memorising them as pictures. -goTop


15. Manipuri Woman makes Naga Food a Rage in Belgium: It is surprising to see how Lulu Pheiga, a woman from the Rongmei Naga tribe of Manipur, has made Naga food a 'rage' in Genk, Belgium. Lulu's Tribal Kitchen serves simple North East Indian food, using authentic spices and condiments she imports from Imphal, Manipur. Lulu's food truck reads 'Back to the roots'. Lulu said, "I am trying out our recipes with right ingredients so I started import local northeastern herbs which would benefit people who want to explore the cuisine as well as help the farmers back home." -goTop


16. RSS condemned violence against Dalits: Deploring in strong terms the violence against the Dalits in different parts of Bharat, the RSS on August 8 condemned the tendency to take law in hands and inflict inhuman atrocities and exploitation on the Dalits. In a statement issued in New Delhi, RSS Sarkaryawah Suresh alias Bhayyaji Joshi described such acts as injustice and inhuman treatment meted out to a section of society.  "This disturbs the communal harmony and encourages confrontationist tendencies", he said.

Joshi also appealed to all the sections of the society to strive hard to create an atmosphere of trust and goodwill. At the same time, the RSS appealed to the admnistration to take stringent action against such anti-social elements without losing time. -goTop


17. Army to get steep-dive BrahMos missile regiment for China front: The Bharatiya government has given the final go-ahead for the Army to induct and deploy an advanced version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, with "trajectory manoeuvre and steep-dive capabilities" for mountain warfare, in the northeast as a conventional deterrent against China. The 290-km range BrahMos is a tactical or non-nuclear missile with "nine times more kinetic energy than sub-sonic missiles" for greater destructive potential. The Navy has already installed the missile on 10 frontline warships, including the latest stealth destroyers and frigates. -goTop


18. Stop baiting RSS, says BBC icon Mark Tully: The Media and critics should stop blind criticism of RSS, said former BBC stalwart Mark Tully on August 8 in New Delhi. He was speaking on the occasion of a book release titled "Modi & His Challenges" penned by Rajiv Kumar.   BBC icon Mark Tully has welcomed the book saying that critics should stop RSS baiting and instead engage with it, endorsing a view that Rajiv Kumar expresses in the book.

In an attempt to break the myths around Narendra Modi, the author  Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow at CPR (Center for Policy Research), attempts to take us through a journey of the leader's life. Energy Minister Piyush Goyal was also present at book launch. -goTop


19. Civilisation in Sunderbans traced to Mauryan era: A new archaeological find could rewrite the history of the Sunderbans and set the clock back by more than 20 centuries. Scientists have stumbled upon a cache of remains that indicates the existence of an ancient civilisation in the mangroves dating back to the Mauryan period (322-185 BC). The civilisation, significantly, lasted for the next 500-600 years. In folklore, the history of the Sunderbans area can be traced back to 200-300 AD. The forests have ivory gamesmen, miniature pots, pastel, semiprecious stone beads, net sinkers and pot shards and other antiquities. An analysis of the collections indicates that a wide variety of antiquities date back to the Mauryan era (3rd century BC) and the early centuries of the Christian era. -goTop


20.  INDIA HEALTH LINE NOW IN KERALA TOO: In order to offer free consultancy by specialist doctors like Cancer Surgeons, Cardiologists, Gynecologists, Nephrologists, Urologists and many other specialist to the needy patients, India Health Line (IHL) was officially launched by VHP working president  Dr Pravin Togadia at Kochi in Kerala on July 31. The number of the Call Centre is-18602333666.  -goTop


21. First Ganga cargo transport trial begins: The country's first national waterway, NW-1, from Haldia to Allahabad was notified in October 1986 and commercial transport of coal on HaldiaFarakka stretch started in 2013. Now NDA government launched its first trial of cargo transport from Varanasi to Kolkata. The government's blueprint to promote "pilgrimage through cruises" mainly focuses seven major identified hubs - Varanasi, Allahabad, Bhagalpur, Patna and Kolkata - that are located close to Ganga. "It will take a week for the two cargo vessels to reach Kolkata," said Prabir Pandey of Inland Waterways Authority of Bharat, which is responsible for developing the stretches. Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said that the holy river can become a stretch of major economic activities without harming the ecology and environment. -goTop


22. Bharat Appreciates Saudi Arabia's Action For bharatiya Workers: Bharat appreciated Saudi Arabia's prompt action to provide relief to Bharatiya workers who were retrenched by a Saudi Arabian company. Following reports of retrenchment of the workers by the Saudi Oger company, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh visited Saudi Arabia recently and met with Saudi Minister for Labour and Social Development Mufrel Al Haqbani. As a result of these meetings, the process of lodging claims and making arrangements for those Bharatiya workers wishing to come back to Bharat or relocate to another company has started. -goTop


23. Kudankulum n-plant marks historic step in Bharat-Russia relations: Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha jointly inaugurated the unit 1 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant on August 10. Speaking on the occasion through video conferencing, PM said that Kudankulum nuclear plant marks another historic step in Bharat-Russia relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin said it is a part of the privileged strategic partnership between the two. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha said the nuclear plant is a monument to the friendship between Bharat and Russia. -goTop


24. SEWA BHARATI CONDUCTED Medical Camp for women-jail inmates: Sewa Bharati organised a medical camp for the women jail inmates at a special women jail in Chanchalguda, Hyderabad. Prof of Gynecology at the Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad.  Dr Hari Anupama led the team of doctors from Gandhi Hospital. General and Gynecological check-ups of the inmates were carried out. Additional Director of GHMS Dr Padmaja provided free medicines. Diabetic and Thyoroid tests were carried out. Jail Superintendent The check up was carried out on 185 prisoners of the Jail. -goTop


25. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag is on a pravas to Mauritius, Seychelles and Kenya.  Visitors: Mahesh and Jaimini Popat UK

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Pleasure from the senses seems like nectar at first, but it is bitter as poison in the end. - Sri Krishna, SrimadBhagwatGita. -goTop




"Sanskriti Mahashibir"

Prerna Lau Sian

The Sanskriti Mahashibir - displayed the inspiring work undertaken by the HSS UK in its 50 years of existence in the country and their commitment to upholding the Hindu principles of equality and Sewa

From July 29 to 31, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh United Kingdom (HSS UK) celebrated their 50-year anniversary. The three-day Sanskriti Mahashibir celebration was concluded with a special Sanskriti Samarop in presence of over 2,200 people attend. The grand occasion illustrated the achievement of the Hindu community in unifying and preserving some of our ancient traditions and values.

Both children and adults from all Shakhas throughout the UK came together to display musical, yoga and martial arts performances. A huge exhibition had been put together by hundreds of volunteers that took visitors back in time through the history of HSS. The exhibition showed the success of setting up HSS in the UK, which attracted the attention of senior dignitaries such as the then serving Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1990. It illustrated how the organisation had since expanded and developed, whilst also inspiring other partner organisations such as the National Hindu Students Forum and Sewa UK to grow.

The exhibition highlighted the charitable projects undertaken by HSS members throughout the UK and globally, including the large funds raised to help natural disasters both in Bharat and outside. Recent examples of funds raised by HSS were for helping the victims of the earthquake in Nepal and the floods in Uttar Pradesh. Many walking through the exhibition felt a strong sense of pride and honour at the large amount of sewa activities undertaken by the Hindu community.

Chief Guest, Shri Mohan Bhagwat, the sixth and current Sarsanghachalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, addressed the captive audience at the Samarop closing ceremony. His inspirational speech reiterated the basic Hindu principle of equality. He stated that "Equality is our mantra and with equality we will progress together". This notion is already being practiced in India, which has long been a sanctuary for minorities persecuted in neighbouring countries. Shri Bhagwat also spoke about the beauty of Hinduism, which respects all other religions and doesn't impose or enforce traditions and beliefs on others.

In line with Hindu dharma and as stated in the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Mohan Bhagwat reminded Hindus to fulfill their civic duty. He said that, "Everyone in the Hindu society should bring together all activities and contributions for the good of society." This notion is already evident from the great charity and educational work not only being undertaken by the HSS, but also the RSS in India. He also reiterated that Hindu society is not about supremacy and that the "world is our family". Only by working together and respecting one another a society can progress and develop.

Overall, the Sanskriti Mahashibir displayed the inspiring work undertaken by the HSS UK in its 50 years of existence in the country and their commitment to upholding the Hindu principles of equality and sewa. It was a humbling experience for all to hear the respected Shri Bhagwat's speech on our ancient values which Hindu organisations in the UK and Bharat strive to uphold. - Organiser 14 August 2014. (The writer is a London based Barrister (NP), writer, broadcaster on Nusound Radio 92FM and is working in Investment Banking)  -goTop


Being a Hindu, Being an Ambassador for Hinduism

Padma Kuppa

We live amid challenging times, where ignorance about your neighbor can lead to not just "otherizing" someone you don't know, but also to violence -  violence that stems from fear and distrust of someone whose beliefs and practices seem alien and in opposition to your own. When I moved to Michigan nearly two decades ago, I was one of a handful of people "farmed out" to be a speaker when the meager office staff received a call asking for a Hindu representative, from schools, colleges and other groups actively seeking to meet and talk to a Hindu. In 2006, as a result of the increasing stream of requests that I personally received (I had co-founded an interfaith organization in 2005), the Temple formed the Outreach Committee with this mission:

"Take the lead to represent the Bharatiya Temple in Inter-faith and Intra-faith activities in the Metro Detroit area. The committee will accomplish this by working with many different wisdom traditions, groups, specific audiences or the general public."

Ten years later, the Committee continues to fulfill its mission, but the critical nature of its purpose has not engaged the consciousness of the broader Temple membership or the large Hindu community in the region.  I have also realized that we have a larger challenge: to ensure that the Hindu community is better prepared for the ever-increasing number of non-Hindu visitors. While the need for outreach efforts has multiplied, the basic challenge for Hindus in America still remains: outreach is not in our DNA, and we are not able to articulate our faith in a way that dispels stereotypes and reduces bullying of our children.

Hinduism is not a faith that requires propagation as a pillar of its practices, so telling people about Hinduism, or inviting others to become Hindu is not common. Thus the language needed to explain about one's faith to an outsider is typically not part of a Hindu's repertoire:  most Hindu Americans are either from India (as a result of immigration) or children of immigrants from India - a place where they usually also don't have to self-identify as Hindu because of its pluralistic, largely Hindu population and ethos. And due to the incidents beginning with 9/11/2011, in America, it has been our Muslim and Sikh friends who have had to bear the larger burden of the violence targeted towards the religious Other - although hate crimes against Hindus definitely happen. We are not forced to come out of our self-segregated worship, spiritual and cultural circles to explain, educate and advocate, to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes about our faith and its practices in the same way that Indian immigrants who are Muslim and Sikh do.

Our visitor groups don't necessarily know all this  and often expect the same organized efforts for outreach from the Hindu temple that a local mosque does. Visitors we host include teachers and students from local educational institutions, who reach out to the Temple, or those we invite - such as the local historical museum members wanting to learn about the temple and see its award winning architecture, or the broader community that we invite to the temple's annual fun-festival Anand Bazaar.  We also have local students who are often sent by their professors, to learn about Hindus and how Hindus worship who often pop in randomly.  While all these people may want to know who their Hindu neighbor is, walking into a Temple without a host to help navigate the customs and practices of this open-source faith could leave a visitor more confused, with stereotypes that are not dispelled, and a lack of understanding that can create more divisions between people of all faith communities. In additional, various temples have different practices and expectations of its membership - guidelines for attire, photography, etc. - which a young highschool or college student may not think of before walking in.  That a teacher of religion or sociology would send a student into a stranger's house of worship without respect for the sacred space and those who hold it sacred - or for putting that student into a potentially awkward situation - has always surprised me. When I am at the Temple and encounter such drop-in visitors, I usually drop my original intentions and engage them, explaining the history of the temple and the basic concepts of Hinduism. They have an opportunity for a more meaningful understanding of what Hindus have done to create sacred space, and hopefully come away with awareness of the complexity of this pluralistic faith -  but I lose the opportunity to engage the sacred per my original intention. I can easily reconcile myself to the change in plans, since Hindus believe in Athidhi Devo Bhava - that guest is God - and serving a visitor in this capacity becomes my act of worship for the day. And every once in awhile, in answering the question of a temple guest, I am often put in the position of questioning my own practices, and seeking answers which deepen my connection to the Divine.

This natural willingness to play "host" at the Bharatiya Temple or to be a Hindu voice in the larger metropolitan Detroit interfaith community, has further been enhanced by being a member of the Hindu American Foundation's national leadership team for the last six years. I have had an opportunity to work with HAF's Director of Education, Murali Balaji, and a team of stellar staff and academic advisors, as they create and develop materials for HAF's Hinduism 101 program:

An interactive, user-driven resource for learning how to teach about Hinduism according to your needs and at your own pace. We've partnered with educators and academics to create these free and accessible educational modules, so that everyone invested in teaching about Hinduism in an accurate and engaging way can do so easily and effectively.

This program is in partnership with other initiatives, such as the Teach India! workshop and Dharma Ambassador training, where we seek to encourage Hindus to become empowered to speak about their practices and precepts in a way that a predominantly Western, American audience can comprehend. Temples can be a place not only to help a person be a Hindu, they can also help a person learn about those who are Hindu.  At the end of the day, at the end of a visit - we create pluralism by promoting understanding between neighbors. --, July 31, 2016, (Writer is IT professional, Board of Directors 'Hindu American Foundation', USA) -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan


Shravan Krishna 14, Vik.Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 1 August 2016

1.   FESTIVALS: Ladakh celebrates Hemis Festival 2016

 2.  Implement Uniform Civil Code: Rashtra Sevika Samiti




6.  MBA chucks job, roots for environment



9.  Sureshrao Ketkar a role model of dedicated life: Dr. Bhagwat

10. Vishnu Mandir in Greater Toronto installs 50-feet Lord Hanuman statue



13. UNESCO world heritage tag to three more Bharatiya sites

14.  Another PIO becomes junior minister in May's cabinet


16. Two Bharatiyas among 2016 Ramon MagsaysayAward winners

17.  Hindus welcome yoga launch in Minnesota State Fair

18. Building 700 ft Vrindavan temple: A mix of faiths, expertise and nationalities

19.   Self-purification the ultimate solution to achieve social harmony: Indresh Kumar

20.  Australia announces $ 2, 50,000 for 'Festival of India'



23. Gujarati touch to South Asia festival

24. Foreign tourist arrivals grew by 7.3% in June 2016 over same period during last year





1.   FESTIVALS: Ladakh celebrates Hemis Festival 2016: Ladakh's famous two-day Hemis festival organized by the Drukpa Order- the most revered Buddhist lineage of the Himalayas concluded on July 18 at the Hemis Monastery in Leh. Tens of thousands of visitors andP devotees from across the globe participated in this event. The festival celebrates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, the 8th century Bharatiya saint who spread Vajrayana Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, one of the spiritual regents of the Drukpa Order, blessed the event and its participants.

To commemorate this event, participants dress in their traditional attire and don the town in symbols of Ladakhi culture and heritage. The first day of the festival featured the monks of the Drukpa Order performing 'Chams' - an ancient mask dance performed to the sounds of cymbals, drums and long horn  as they recite stories associated with the Drukpa Buddhism. On the second day, a 400 years old embroidered silkthangka (religious tapestry) depicting Guru Padmasambhava was revealed during the festival which is revealed once in 12 years in the early morning hours from dawn till noon.  Tucked in a hidden valley, about 45 kilometres from Leh, the Hemis Monastery is a 400 year old monastery of the Drukpa Order, which has become a focal point of Ladakhi tourism in the recent years. -goTop


2.  Implement Uniform Civil Code: Rashtra Sevika Samiti has passed a resolution demanding immediate implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the Samiti was attended by over 200 kaaryakartrees from all over the country to deliberate on various matters pertaining to the spread and strengthening of its activities. Addressing a press conference at Devi Ahalya Mandir, Nagpur on July 18, the last day of its three-day meeting, Samiti's Pramukh Karyawahika Annadanam Seetha Gayatri said that in all the developed countries all the citizens are treated at par without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, colour, regions or sex. The term civil code is used to cover the entire body of laws governing relating to property and otherwise in personal matters like marriages, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance. As things stand there are different laws governing these aspects for different communities in Bharat. The Samiti has an opinion that because of the different laws for different communities, there is a rise in separatism, terrorism and the exploitation of women, she said.  -goTop


3. HINDU WAY CAN PROVIDE ALTERNATIVE MODEL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: BHAGWAT: Describing Hinduism as an inclusive way of living, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat reiterated that Hinduism is more inclusive and not exclusive. He was speaking at the concluding programme of the 3-day mega residential Sanskriti Maha Shibir organised by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) in the UK as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations.

On the evening of 31st July at Hertfordshire County Show Ground, near Luton, London near about 2200 delegates from different parts of Europe participated in this unique camp.

Bhagwat spoke about the positive aspects of Hinduism which believed in the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). Further, he said that the world will flourish when all cultures in their diversity are respected. Expressing his concern over the ongoing conflict between environment and development, Dr Bhagwat said that Hinduism has the answer to mitigating this global conflict and provide an alternative for sustainable development on the values enshrined in Hindu philosophy.

Earlier, on July 29, Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat inaugurated the Sanskriti Mahashibir-2016. Sahsarakaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale, Dr Ram Vaidya of HSS UK Unit, other senior functionaries were present during the inaugural. During the three-day camp, there were discussions on 'Sanskaar' (values of life), 'Sewa' (selfless service) and 'Sangathan' (community spirit).

The Mahashibir was addressed among others by Swami Dayatmananda, Head, Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre UK, Swami Nirliptananda, Head, London Sewashram Sangh UK and Acharya Vidya Bhaskar, Omkarananda Ashram Switzerland.  -goTop


4. HRSC SETS UP LIBRARIES WORTH KSHS.2.5M IN FIFTEEN SCHOOLS: Hindu Religious & Service Centre (HRSC) committee members made a trip on 23rd July 2016 to Wamunyu, 120kms in Machakos District of Kenya.  A donation of Kenyan Shs. 2.5million was made to 14 schools of Educational Libraries, Metal Cupboards to store the Books, Fuel Efficient Jikos and 100 Mango Seedlings were planted in each of the 14 Schools.

A warm welcome was accorded by around 2500 students, parents, teachers, Wamunyu Area Chief and the Education Officer. Students from various schools entertained the guests with songs, dances and poems. The entertainment by the students conveyed a very good message to the public to refrain from stealing and corruption.  -goTop


5. COMPASSION OFFERS SOLUTION TO MANY PRESENT-DAY CONCERNS: BHAGWAT: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat pitched for spread of compassion as he said practising the value offers solution to many present-day concerns like extremism of all forms, materialism and self-centredness among people.

"We need to understand what is at the core of our religious traditions. Satya (truth) and shuchita (piousness) are at its core and both are not possible without compassion." Bhagwat said.

He was speaking during launch of a book titled "Compassion in 4 Dharmic Traditions" compiled by Prof Ved Nanda for Oberoi Foundation on 26th July at New Delhi. The event was attended by BJP veteran LK Advani and Union Minister for Science, Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan. Advani suggested that no religion permits criticism of the other and stressed that "one who does not perceive as wrong religion-based ideologies is the one who accepts other religions too".  -goTop


6.  MBA chucks job, roots for environment: Anil Satapathy, who belongs to the tribal area of Mayurbhanj in Odisha, studied MBA in Rajasthan and was hired by a pharmaceutical company in Ahmedabad. He never took up the job. In 2002, he started working with an NGO that dealt with water-related issues in Dahod.

Satapathy's work since 2012 has focused on select villages in Panchmahal and Chhota Udepur districts. It involves water conservation for which he encouraged tribals to repair four check dams. He has also spurred the tribal people to work on afforestation and has so far motivated them to plant around 15,000 trees - mostly medicinal - in eight villages. Satapathy drew like-minded people, including professionals and even retired government servants, to his campaign. "Environmental, social and economic development is interlinked. Education is a must for development," he said.  -goTop


7. BAL GOKULAM CHILDREN TO SHAPE FUTURE OF BHARAT: Bal Gokulam, a forum designed to enable children to rediscover Hindu cultural roots, learn ancient values in an enjoyable manner and to develop a sense of sewa as well as service to humankind, has emerged as a big children movement. In Hyderabad, 50 Bal Gokulams are run in various apartment complexes. One of such Bal Gokulams at RV Avaneendra Apartments in Miyapur celebrated its fifth annual function on July 17. The participating children demonstrated various cultural activities. It was attended by more than 250 parents and others in the nearby apartment areas

Retd DCP Shri S Satyanarayana highlighted the need of yoga and the important role it plays in everyone's life. He said these kinds of programmes are the need of the hour for the present generation, and they need to reach out to more localities. Shri Ayush Nadimpalli, RSS Prant Prachar Pramukh explained how the Bal Gokulam is shaping the future of Bharat through saving the culture and heritage and making children proud of their past and cultural roots. Bal Gokulam Mahanagar Pramukh Shri Vikrant Shah and RSS IT Milan Karyavah Shri Milind Shakhai were also present.  -goTop


8. REFORM & EQUITY IN CALIFORNIA TEXTBOOKS APPROVED: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on July 14 that the State Board of Education approve the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which will update and upgrade history and social science instruction in California.

Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation also announced that important progress had been made in the effort to ensure that Hinduism and Bharat are presented equitably and accurately in the aforementioned framework. Approved after a nearly two-year long process, the framework, with the input from multiple Hindu American community groups, parents and schoolchildren, now incorporates prominent mention of Hinduism's pluralistic ethos, Hindu sages of diverse backgrounds, and the importance of the Bhakti movement.  -goTop


9.  Sureshrao Ketkar a role model of dedicated life: Dr. Bhagwat: "Senior Pracharak and former Sharirik Pramukh Sureshrao Ketkar was a sparkling example of a perfectly dedicated life. He relentlessly worked for the nation and the society. He accepted, adopted and imbibed the RSS in his personality and lived for it all through his life to maintain a flow of its tradition.  A firm resolve to continue with that tradition will be the true tribute to this great soul", said RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat at Nagpur on 22nd July.

Bhagwat was speaking at a condolence meeting organised to mourn the loss of Sureshrao Ketkar who passed away recently at Latur after a prolonged illness. Tributes were paid to late Ketkar by a several organisations including Rashtra Sevika Smaiti, BJP, VHP, VKA, BKS, ABVP etc.  -goTop


10. Vishnu Mandir in Greater Toronto installs 50-feet Lord Hanuman statue: A 50 feet idol of Lord Hanuman was installed on July 2, in Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill in Greater Toronto area, which was established in 1979. Morari Bapu, a popular Hindu Kathakaar from Bharat, led the installation ceremony. This temple has a tagline "Institution that nurtures families from Cradle to Golden years". The Mandir also regulates a Canadian Museum of Bharatiya Civilization exhibiting Hinduism, Anand Bhavan Senior's Home, Academy of Learning & Montessori School for 2.5 to 6-year-old, Global Care Outreach Program in Guyana, Bal-Vihaar program for 5-16 years-old, toddler's program, sangeet Academy for encouraging Bharat's music and dance, and Lakshmi Sabha Women's Club for the enrichment of women-mentioned a report.

Lord Hanuman, the devotee of Lord Rama, is greatly worshipped in Hinduism and is known for his incredible strength and devotion towards Rama. Hinduism has about one billion supporters around the globe and it is the third largest religion.  -goTop


11.  FIGHTING AGAINST DROUGHT WITH A DIFFERENCE: RSS Jankalyan Samiti Maharashtra did a commendable job while dealing with the drought hit regions of the state. During the drought, the State Government made various efforts to supply drinking water to the affected people, but it proved inadequate, as there was no provision for storing such water. The Janakalyan Samiti, while taking timely initiatives provided water tanks with the capacity of 2,000 and 5,000 liters in about 200 villages, which proved to be as the great relief to the affected people. In addition to it, the Samiti provided water through tankers to 52 villages in Latur, Beed, Dharashiv, Solapur, Pune, Parabhani and Sambhajinagar Districts.

Apart from it, the Samiti organised cattle camps in 17 villages wherein the cattle were provided feed throughout the drought period. Four cattle camps in Latur, three in Beed, two in Dharashiv, two in Solapur, one in Sangali, one in Nagar, two in Nashik, two in Pune were organised. A total of 14,403 cattle were provided with feed in all these camps.

In order to provide drinking water, the Samiti made arrangements at 20 places in Latur city and also at famous temple in Tuljapur. As a part of the long term solution, the Samiti undertook massive escavation work at various ponds and small rivers in Latur, Dharashiv, Jalna, Sambhajinagar, Parbhani, Solapur, Nagar, Beed, Satara and Pune.

Apart from distributing water containers to 200 families of Latur city, the Samiti made food arrangements for 60 students from the drought his areas appearing for examinations of 11th and 12th standard.  -goTop


12. DATTATREYA HOSABALE PAID TRIBUTES TO BASAVESHWARA STATUE IN LONDON: RSS Sahsarakaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale paid tribute to Sri Basaveshwara statue in London on 28th July. The Former Mayor of Lambeth Dr Neeraj Patil had invited him on behalf of The Basaveshwara Foundation.

Dattatreya Hosabale expressed his tribute to Basaveshwara for contribution to democracy and social justice. He said, "I am extremely pleased to see the statue of an Indian philosopher in the backdrop of British Parliament overlooking the river Thames".  -goTop


13. UNESCO world heritage tag to three more Bharatiya sites: After the inclusion of Nalanda University of Bihar in the UNESCO list of world heritage, Capitol Complex in Chandigarh and Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP) in Sikkim also made up to the list on July 17.The decision was taken during the the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee at Istanbul in Turkey. The Khangchendzonga National Park is the first 'mixed' heritage site from Bharat to make it to the list. A 'mixed site' means the heritage has qualities of both natural and cultural significance. The development has made the list of Bharatiya sites at UNESCO' World heritage list to 35, which includes 27 cultural sites, seven natural sites and one mixed.

Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) was established in 450 CE under the patronage of the Gupta emperors, notably Kumara Gupta.  -goTop


14.  Another PIO becomes junior minister in May's cabinet: British lawmaker Alok Sharma has been named parliamentary under secretary of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), becoming the second Bharatiya-Origin minister in PM Theresa May's cabinet.The 48 year old MP who had previously served in a special role of infrastructure envoy for Bharat in the David Cameron led Government, was named in the latest set of junior ministerial posts announced by Downing Street on July 17. He was first elected to the British parliament in May 2010 and was re-elected in May 2015 from Reading West.In his new role in the FCO, Sharma will work closely with newly appointed foreign secretary Boris Johnson and is likely to be handed the charge of Bharatiya affairs.  -goTop


15. INDIAN FILM: SUPERSTAR RAJINI, INDIA'S DOUGHY, BALD MEGA HERO: Rajinikanth, a balding 65-year old doyen of Tamil cinema, has acted in over 200 films. In "Kabali" he is an ageing gangster, who serves 25 years in a Malayasian jail and returns home in search of his family. The flashback shows a young Rajini as a union leader fighting for the rights of the downtrodden Tamil minority in Malayasia.

Kabali raked in $16m on its opening weekend in India and another $12.6m overseas, smashing box-office records. On Friday July 22, tickets fetched 1,500-5,000 rupees ($23-$75 on the black market. A few companies in south India declared a holiday; Air-Asia, a low-cost carrier, flew fans in planes with a Kabali-themed livery (Rajini's face painted in super-size on the fuselage) for a special screening in Chennai. "It was like a carnival", says Arun V, a consultant who drove from Bangalore to Chennai to catch the film. (From 'The Economist',  July 30th 2016 issue).  -goTop


16. Two Bharatiyas among 2016 Ramon MagsaysayAward winners: Human rights activist Bezwada Wilson (50) and Carnatic musician Thodur Madabusi Krishna (40) are winners of the 2016 Magsaysay Award from Bharat. Other winners are Dompet Dhuafa from Indonesia, the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, Vientiane Rescue from Laos and Conchita CarpioMorales of the Philippines.

Born in a Dalit family involved in manual scavenging in Karnataka, Wilson has spent last 30 years fighting against the practice. Krishna, often referred to as the enfant terrible of Carnatic music, has constantly challenged the inherent non-inclusivity of the genre. He has won the award for showing that music can indeed be a deeply transformative force in personal lives and society.  -goTop


17.  Hindus welcome yoga launch in Minnesota State Fair: Hindus have commended Minnesota State Fair, claimed to be "one of the largest expositions in the world", for introducing yoga this year. Called "The Great Yoga Get-Together at Carousel Park" and asking fair-goers to "stop by to try different styles of yoga", it will offer experienced instructors leading a variety of classes and will also include activities, prize drawings and giveaways and sharing information about the benefits of yoga.  -goTop


18. Building 700 ft Vrindavan temple: A mix of faiths, expertise and nationalities - The Chandrodaya Temple being built in Vrindavan at 700 ft, will be three times the height of Delhi's Qutub Minar. But what is more unique about the project is that the temple is being constructed - both in terms of funding and logistical support - by people of several faiths and nationalities.

A project by Bengaluru devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON), the temple is being worked on by 25 specialist consultants from across the world. The core architectural team itself comprises of people from different faiths. Narsimha Dass, the senior vice-president and project director said Krishna had never meant the message of Bhagavad Gita only for Hindus, and was for everyone who believed. "This has been the driving spirit of ISKON... (which is why) even in the construction of the temple, people from all faith including Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Sikh are involved and this makes it a structure of international acceptance," he added.

"Planned at a cost Rs 700 crore, the temple will have four halls - one for Acharya Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKON, one for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, one for Radha Krishna and the Astha Sakhis, and one for Sri Krishna Balaram, Dass said, "Once constructed, it will be the tallest and largest religious structure inBharatcovering an area of 5 acres".  -goTop


19.   Self-purification the ultimate solution to achieve social harmony: Indresh Kumar: "To thwart the destruction of our culture and traditions the whole society needs to cleanse the internal dirt by rising above caste, religion and all kinds of discriminating tendencies", said Indresh Kumar, senior RSS functionary. 

He was addressing a gathering at Kurukshetra University on a seminar organised by Forum for Awareness of National Security (FANS) on the role of police, society, and panchayat in curbing drug abuse, female foeticide, unemployment and caste-based discrimination.

The seminar was addressed by Mahamandaleswar Yateendra Nath Giri, Indresh Kumar, Haryana Minister Ram Vilas Sharna, Air Marshall R C Bajpai, Dr Kamal Gupta, MLA, Kapil Agrawal, MLA, Reshma Singh, Subhash Yadav IG, Rajpal IG and others.

The speakers in the seminar debated on social evils such as drug abuse, corruption, murder, domestic violence, caste-based discrimination, community conflicts, riots and all other such things that have flourished due to an unethical and contaminated mindset of society.  -goTop


20.  Australia announces $ 2, 50,000 for 'Festival of India: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's coalition government has announced $ 2,50,000 to support the 'Confluence: Festival of India in Australia' this year. The Australian High Commission in New Delhi had in an official release said the festival will be held from August to November and will bring an exciting and diverse program of the finest classical and contemporary performing and visual arts from India to the audiences across six Australian cities. The festival will also include a number of community activities and collaborations with local artists.  -goTop


21. CENTRE PAYS TRIBUTE TO MISSILE MAN WITH LIFE-SIZE STATUE: A life-size statue of former President APJ Abdul Kalam was unveiled on 27th July at Pei Karumbu near Rameswaram as a tribute to the 'Missile Man' on his first death anniversary. The Modi Government also announced inclusion of his hometown Rameswaram under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) by relaxing the eligibility norms under the Central scheme.

Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu unveiled the statue of Bharat Ratna Kalam at an event at Pei Karumbu which was attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Pon Radhakrishnan among many other dignitaries.

Parrikar also laid a wreath as a tribute to the former president.   -goTop


22. HOMAGE TO SWAMI PURNANAND JI: Swami Purnannanda ji who had done yeomen service to the Hindu society in Mauritius for over 50 years breathed his last on 22nd July 2016. Born in 1926 in Gujrat, Swami ji migrated to Mauritius in 1962 and founded Sanatan Sarvodaya Sabha and constructed Sanatan Sarvodaya Ashram in 1972. Swami ji has performed hundreds of kathas in so many remote villages apart from the bigger ones and towns in Mauritius. His last rites were performed in Bharat near Jamnagar.

He was a well-wisher and strong supporter of Sangh. Several Sangh adhikaris have stayed at Sarvodaya Ashram, Triolet over the last four decades. While paying rich tributes to Swamiji, Dr Shankarrao Tatwawadi, former Vishwa Vibhag samyojak described the demise as great loss to Hindu society in Mauritius.  -goTop


23. Gujarati touch to South Asia festival: Tushar Unadkat, a Barodian settled in Canada, became the first Gujarati to direct the grand festival. Organized on July 16-17, the festival was organized by Gerrard India Bazaar BIA - a non-profit organization registered in Canada. "The unique feature of this year's fest was 'gully' that gave visitors an experience of rural areas in south Asian countries. From rangoli exhibitions, roadside tea-vendors and kite exhibition to an array of visual, literary and performing arts, the festival offered everything to the participants," Unadkat told from Canada.  -goTop


24. Foreign tourist arrivals grew by 7.3% in June 2016 over same period during last year: Drawing positive results in tourism in the country, the month of June 2016 saw 7.3% growth in Foreign Tourist arrivals over the same period in 2015. Also in a major highlight, Rs. 10,732 Crore rupees were collected in Foreign Exchange Earned (FEE) through Tourism in June 2016.  -goTop


25. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr Mohan Bhagwat RSS Sarsanghachalak and Dattatreya Hosabale sahsarkaryavaha returned to Bharat from UK while Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag returned to USA after the Sanskriti Mahashibir in UK. Dr Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak will start tour of Kenya, and East African countries, Mauritius, Seychelles and Nigeria.Visitors: Ma. Prof Ved Nanda, Surjit Deb, and Pravin Dhir - USA; Anil Nene - UK; Yashwant Sharma - Thailand; Ma. Jaiprakash Goel - Hong Kong; Sanjiv Bhakri - Australia; Ajay Singh - New Zealand.

FOOD FOR THOUHGT: He who has let go of hatred, who treats all beings with kindness and compassion, who is always serene, unmoved by pain or pleasure, free of the "I" and "mine, self-controlled, firm and patient, his whole mind focused on me --- that is the man I love best. -  The Bhagavad Gita  -goTop





Ramakant Tiwari

Today, Nalanda is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hopefully this tag will bring tourists from around the world to this ancient institution and compel the authorities to protect and preserve this important piece of our civilisational history

"Nalanda Mahavihara arya vikshu sanghasya", these words were inscribed on several plaques, discovered while excavating a huge mound covered with wild vegetation in Bargaon, an obscure village of Bihar in 1861. Thus was established, beyond doubt, the existence of an elite educational institution at Nalanda that had also been mentioned by Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang in his famous travelogues. The legendary British Director of the Archeological Survey of India, Sir Alexander Cunningham, had declared the travelogues as an authentic chronicle of history and not merely a figment of imagination.

Today, the historic site at Nalanda has been included as a World Heritage Site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It is a great honour and tribute for all that the site carries in itself.

'Nalanda' is syntax of 'Nalam' ie the lotus of wisdom and 'Da' ie the deliverer. True to its name, the fourth century Nalanda Mahavihara was the first major residential university in the world, financially and otherwise, supported not only by native monarchs but also by overseas patrons from place such as Java and Sumatra. After flourishing and disseminating world-class education for more than 600 years, it was finally burnt into ashes by Muslim barbarian-invaders who had no respect for other faiths, talent and achievements, in 1193. Sixth century monarch Kumargupta of the Gupta dynasty was the founder-patron of the Mahavihara. During the reign of King Harsa of Kannauj, in 606-647 AD, the university evolved into a dynamic, international institution, enjoying patronage from all over. The royal patronage ended with the Pal dynasty that ruled over Bengal and Bihar of today. Three more contemporaries viz Vikramsila and Odantapuri in Bihar and Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur (now in Bangladesh), were also supported by the Pal dynasty. Of these, Vikramsila posed tough competition for Nalanda with respect to academic excellence and research. Hindu and Buddhist monarchs were equally disposed towards these institutions in terms of financial support and patronage.

With 10,000 students on campus, 2,000 teachers from Bharatvarsa, China, Tibet, Siam, Persia, Korea, Java, Sri  Lanka, Japan, Sumatra, Nepal and Greece, Nalanda Mahavihara spread across a 50 square kilometre area had mind-boggling infrastructural facilities. Revenue collected from 200 villages underwrote all expenses, and campus education was completely free.

Nalanda also had an interesting admission procedure. With four gates on four sides, every student aspirant was required to outdo the learned gatekeepers with his intellectualism and answers at the gate itself, before being allowed to enter into the campus for admission. With one Nagarjuna being the first Principal-Master of the Mahavihara, it had very eminent scholars like Vasubandhu, Asanga, Silabhadra, Dharmakriti and Aryadeva as faculty teachers.

The entire Mahavihara was always pulsating with scholarly discussions, debates, intellectual arguments and intellectual rejoinders with advanced education offered in disciplines like theology, geography, logic, mathematics, philosophy, grammar, metallurgy, metaphysics, aviation, architecture, chemistry, cosmology, astrology and astronomy, tantra, medicine and surgery, ayurveda, and the languages. It produced scholars like Aryabhatta, Varahamihira, Kalidasa and Vatsayayana. Hiuen Tsang too taught for sometime after completing his education therein.

The Nalanda campus, the first residential university in the world, was equipped with 108 units with every unit having 30 well-furnished rooms, central assembly hall, various prayer halls and numerous stupas scattered around. Parks, pavements, rest-halls, water canal flowing through the campus, excellent drainage system and a gigantic central kitchen adorned the campus. Every student-room had a stone-bed, locker, book-shelves and a place to pursue meditation.

Ratna-Sagar, Ratna-Ranjika and Ratna-Uday were three huge libraries. The nine storied Ratna-Sagar central library was the largest of its kind in the world, had some of the finest manuscripts in the world and the collection of books was so huge that the marauders, when they attacked the place, had to spend a whole six months before they could burn down the whole place.

The campus was a marvel of architecture, and reflected the amalgamation of two different architectural schools ie the Gupta and the Pal. In its town planning too, Nalanda was marvellous. When other contemporary civilizations were struggling to become civilised human beings, Nalanda offered wisdom and lifestyle of the highest order.

The gradual decline of Nalanda began with the augmenting influence of Buddhist tantra, and the final nail in the coffin was struck by Bakhtiyar Khilji, one of the generals of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, in the year of 1193.

The Mughals destroyed Nalanda and Vikramsila Mahaviharas in one go, they beheaded and burnt alive most of the students and teachers, vandalised entire campus beyond wildest imagination, set the library building with invaluable manuscripts on fire - the ugly dance of destruction continued for days together. A glorious intellectual history of 700 years was destroyed in the most despicable and brutal manner.

Nalanda was re-discovered in the early 19th century. After the area was deserted, it became a dense jungle. A new village with the name Bargaon came up on the same location later. When British geographer Buchanan Hamilton wrote a study on several Hindu and Buddhist images scattered around the village, Sir Cunningham conducted a scientific excavation in 1861.

With the study of a large number of inscriptions, coins, copper plates, idols etc recovered from the site, the amazing splendour of Nalanda came to the fore. There were several subsequent rounds of excavations - in 1872, then from 1915 to 1936, and even between 1974 and 1982, which revealed artifacts like images, murals, plaques, the Mahavihara seal and the finest terracotta. Most of these are preserved in museums in Patna, Nalanda and Kolkata.

Today, Nalanda is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hopefully this tag will bring tourists from around the world to this ancient institution and compel the authorities to protect and preserve this important piece of our civilisational history. (Daily Pioneer, 25 July 2016 -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan