Ashada Krishna7, Vik.Samvat 2074, Yugabda 5119: June 16, 2017


Ashada Krishna7, Vik.Samvat 2074, Yugabda 5119: June 16, 2017

5.  Gujarat’s Class XII topper to embrace life of a monk 6.  An inspiring experience
11.  Tree plantation on death anniversary of Shri Guruji 12. A slice of Santiniketan, coming up in Houston
13.     THE   YOGA   VASISHTA    PATH   TO     LIBERATION 14. Kailash Mansarovaryatra 2017
15.   HCL, TCS and Wipro among top 10 global engineering services firms 16. PRIME Minister Theresa May visits London Hindu Temple
17. Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Religious Fervor 18. UK election: 2 Sikh MPs add to record Bharatiyaset in House of Commons
19. VHP to work for making Bharat Untouchability Free 20.  Canadian City Gets a New Hindu Temple
21. IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IISc among world's top 200 universities, says report 22. BHARATIYA-American Ananya Vinay wins Spelling Bee title


1.  FESTIVALS: Guru Purnima is celebrated on Aashadha Poornima, the full moon day of the Hindu month of Ashadha falling on July 9 this year. Devotional worship of the Guru - the preceptor - is one of the most touching and elevating features of the Hindu cultural tradition. It is through the grace and guidance of Guru that one reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss. The preceptor for a whole society should be able to act as a perennial source of inspiration to the people, embodying the highest and the noblest national values and ethos. To the Hindu people, such a guru can be no other than the sacred BhagavaDhwaj. Real worship, for a Hindu, lies in becoming an image of the ideal himself. Shivobhutwashivamyajet - one has to become Shiva Himself if one has to worship Shiva. The annual function of Sri Guru Pooja presents a moment of introspection for us to check up how far we have progressed in this path over the last year, and take lessons from it and resolve to march faster in the current year. -goTop


2. ENABLING BHARAT FOR GOD- ASSIGNED MISSION: "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has shouldered the responsibility of enabling Bharat to fulfill its God-assigned mission for the entire world. RSS works for Bharat, but Bharat has a global responsibility and we have taken up this fundamental task to prepare Bharat to fulfill that mission of spreading the message of peace, brotherhood and progress in perfect coordination with the nature," said RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat while speaking at the concluding ceremony of 25-day third year Sangh Shiksha Varga at Nagpur on June 8. General Rukmangat Katwal, former Commander in Chief of Nepal Army was the chief guest. Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal, his Cabinet colleague Hemant Biswa Sarma, Rajya Sabha MPs RK Sinha, Amar Sable, industrialist Anand Mahindra, were among the special invitees.  RSS SahSarkryavahV Bhagaiah, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidy and Rashtra Sevika Samiti Pramukh Sanchalika Shantakka etc., graced the occasion.Shri Bhagwat said RSS works for Bharat and Bharat lives for the world. Therefore, it has to become strong not to bully the weak but to protect them. Bharat by tradition and nature is a 'sajjan' (noble) country because of the Hindu society. Hence, the RSS is organising the Hindus. (Excerpt from a report by Virag Pachpore in Organiser, June 18, 2017.) -goTop


3.  MATTER OF BREAD AND BUTTER: "Cow protection is not the matter of faith alone. It is directly related to the economy, as cow is the basis of economic development, agriculture and farmers in the country," said RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi while speaking at the concluding ceremony of first and second year Sangh ShikshaVarg in Pune on June 3. Bhanu Kale, editor of Marathi magazine Antarnaad was the chief guest. The function featured the spectacular demonstrations by 700 young swayamsevaks including Yogasana, Suryanmaskar and war manoeuvres. Local MPs, MLAs, retired army officers and citizens were also present.

Shri Joshi stressed that the RSS strength was growing and it in turn means that strength of Hindutva is increasing. Shri Bhanu Kale said that I am attending RSS programme for the first time and I am impressed by the display of discipline here. It is amazing for me that youngsters stay away from mobile for 21 days during the period of this camp. I congratulate the RSS, because in today's era this is nothing less than an achievement." -goTop


4.  RAMANUJACHARYA: THE PIONEER OF SOCIAL HARMONY:  "When the invaders attacked our temples, burnt the libraries, an urgent need was felt to motivate the demoralised society, Ramanujacharya prepared the people to face the challenge by explaining them our scriptures in Sanskrit, Tamil and many other languages," said RSS Sahsarkaryavah Dr Krishna Gopal while speaking at a function organised to celebrate 1,000th  birth anniversary year of the great saint Ramanujacharya at Srimad Andavan Arts & Science College, Srirangam, on May 28. The event 'Social Harmony, Equality and Co-existence' was organised by Tamil Nadu unit of Sri RamanujarAayiramvathu Jayanthi Vizhakkuzhu with the objective of taking every home the social messages of the Acharya. Seven more local organisations joined the programme. The 1,000th Jayanti year is being celebrated since May 2016. Dr Krishna Gopal further said Sri Ramanujacharya visited Badrinath, Mathura, Kashi and many other places to spread the message of Bhakti

Kendriya Samskriti aur Paryatan Mantri Dr Mahesh Sharma, who felicitated 12 eminent persons for their contribution in promotion of social harmony and equality, said Ramanujacharya taught us to deal with inequality and bring harmony and we should nurture the same. -goTop


5.  Gujarat’s Class XII topper to embrace life of a monk: Varshil Shah scored in the 99.99 percentile in the class 12 board examination, but he doesn't aim to be a chartered accountant or earn an MBA degree.

In fact, Varshil, 17, did not even collect his marksheet from school. He will not only renounce the rat race but also the world by embracing the life of a Jain monk. Varshil said. "Getting the top rank in board exams does not give happiness. I know that the material world does not give eternal happiness that millions seek. I chose to embrace Jain diksha because it makes it possible to experience eternal happiness without hurting anybody." -goTop


6.  An inspiring experience : Ven. Madhu Pandit Dasa Ji’s Akshaya Patra Foundation is the world's largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme daily serving wholesome school lunch to over 1.6 million (16 Lakh) children in 13,577 schools across 11 states in Bharat. During an interaction on the subject with this alumnus of Mumbai IIT and now a global figure, I asked him as to what did he think about people who did not get even a single square meal a day? He asked me where he could see such people! I immediately offered to show him such people.

We flew to Agartala (Tripura) on April 25, 2015, from where we drove 400 kms in mountainous terrain to North Kanchanpur (Tripura) to the IDP (Internally Displaced People) colony of 45-thousand Reang (Hindu Scheduled Tribe) people at Kasirampada, who were driven away by the Mizoram Government 18 years ago for not converting to Christianity. These IDPs do have no shelter, no clothing, no land, no education and not even a single square meal a day. Seeing such a pathetic condition, Shri Dasa-ji's eyes welled up. In the land of 'Jagannath' ('Lord of the Universe'), none could be 'Anaath' (forlorn/orphan), he thought. With blessings from Sri Bhagwan, he announced that his organization would soon open there a Langar/Pangat (community kitchen) for those people, a school for children, Weaving and Sewing centre for girls and a Motor Driving School for youngmen, a temple as the nucleus of all these projects and to oversee all these activities he would appoint a Daas/Servant of Sri Bhagwan from his organization.

He was very much true to his word. Immediately after returning, the Krishna Conscious Head, Krishna Bhakt Heart and Karma Yogi Hands of this decorated IITian, with great earnest and Purushaarth, mobilized his extensive contacts, manpower and resources and soon bought 2.50 acres of land at Kasirampada of Gachirampara, Tripura. The great temple and institution builder has now established a big Krishnaavataar Temple at the site. Its Praanpratishtha, consecration and opening ceremony took place on 29th March, 2017 (VarshPratipada Day) with the participation of over 5,000 people. As promised by Ven. MadhuPanditDasa, the Great India Talent School was also established at this site by the Great India Talent Foundation with the inspiration of the Akshyaypaatra Foundation. It was also inaugurated on March 29, 2017 with prayers and HawanYajna. It is for the marginalised families of Reang tribes of Tripura to recognise, nurture and build their talent on lines of the ancient Indian Gurukul philosophy.A total of 350 children have been admitted into the school at present. A Bhojanshala (Food Centre) under the auspices of the Akshyaypaatra Foundation was also inaugurated on the occasion by Ven. MadhupanditDasa and Ven. Swami JanardanDasa (N-E Incharge of ISKCON). The Bhojanshala will daily feed 20-thousand Reang children from the surrounding villages.

The said projects and programmes will run with the joint cooperation of the three bodies, viz., Great India Talent Foundation, the ISKCON Trust (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) and the "SadhakRatan Mani SevaSadan" (A Service Trust of Guwahati Vishva Hindu Parishad). The ISKCON Trust will provide teachers for the school. - By Y. Raghavulu, Joint General Secretary, Vishva Hindu Parishad -goTop


7. 'Baahubali' rocket GSLV Mk-III has perfect launch: After the rocket, nicknamed "Fat Boy", fired by a high-thrust indigenous cryogenic engine, lifted off at 5.28pm on June 5 from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a four tone communications satellite, GSAT 19, the country's heaviest, was placed in geosynchronous transfer orbit 15.53 minutes later, a few seconds earlier than scheduled. ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar said, "The GSLV Mk III needs just one more developmental flight, planned in a year, before it can be declared operational. "The launch demonstrated an indigenous cryogenic engine, in the works since 2002, a strong foundation for ambitious future projects, including Chandraayan II, scheduled for the first quarter of 2018, and a manned mission. It also showed the capability to make a next-generation satellite with a high reach. -goTop


8. PANDITS THRONG VALLEY TO ATTEND KHIR BHAWANI TEMPLE FESTIVAL: The Khir Bhawani temple, located at Tulmulla, 25 kilometers from Srinagar has become a major congregation of Pandits in Kashmir over the past several years. The authorities make special arrangements to ferry Pandits from Jammu to attend the festival.Mukhya Mantri Mehbooba Mufti received the devotees and asked them to pray for peace and welfare of the state.

Interacting with the devotees, Mehbooba Mufti said people in Kashmir eagerly await the return of their Kashmiri brethren. She said the socio cultural milieu of Valley is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits. A large number of Kashmiri Muslims had come to meet their Pandit brethren on the occasion. -goTop


9. Cow is like Ma, God: HC judge: A Hyderabad high court judge said on June 9, the cow is "sacred national wealth" and a "substitute to Mother and God." Justice B Siva Sankara Rao's observation comes days after a Rajasthan HC judge had said the cow should be declared the national animal. Rao also said it was a settled legal position that Muslims had no fundamental right to insist on the slaughter of healthy cows on Bakrid. -goTop


10.  LEO VARADKAR, BHARATIYA-ORIGIN DOCTOR, TAKES OVER AS IRELAND'S YOUNGEST PM: Leo Varadkar, a 38-year-old Bharatiya-origin doctor, scripted history on June 14 by becoming Ireland's youngest and the first openly gay prime minister of the Catholic-majority country, as he promised to build "a republic of opportunity".The former general physician, who is the son of an Irish nurse and a doctor from Bharat, won the Fine Gael party leadership earlier this month. Addressing the Dail (Irish parliament), after his election, Varadkar said, "I've been elected to lead but I promise to serve." -goTop


11.  Tree plantation on death anniversary of Shri Guruji: The 44th smriti divas anniversary of second RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Guruji was observed in Jaipur with a difference. This year the local workers planted 44 medicinal plants to pay tribute to the visionary Sangh leader on June 5. The plants were planted by 44 Sangh Pracharaks who were attending a meeting at Sanganer. They included Kshetra Pracharak Durgadas, senior Pracharak Dhanprakash and Manakchand, Samarasata Pramukh Tulsinarayan, Ghumantu Pariyojana Pramukh Hemant Kumar, etc. -goTop


12. A slice of Santiniketan, coming up in Houston: Rabindranath Tagore's abode of peace, Santiniketan, is being replicated some 14,200km away, in Texas's largest city of Houston.The Tagore Centre for Arts and Culture, expected to be ready by the middle of next year, has been conceived by alumni and faculty members of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and has the full support of the Texas administration.The centre will be completed with a Chhatimtala, commonly called the scholar tree, for which a sapling will be specially flown in from Visva-Bharati.

The design of Houston's Chhatimtala will keep the spirit of the original alive, promised Ashok De Sarkar and his wife Ruma Acharya De Sarkar, both IIT-Kgp alumni from the chemical engineering department. The Sarkars are bringing this dream alive with the help of IIT-Kharagpur's architecture faculty. Joy Sen, head of the Ranabir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design Management at IIT-Kgp, have designed the unique centre that is coming up on a 17-acre plot bought by the De Sarkars in a quiet residential neighbourhood. -goTop


13.     THE   YOGA   VASISHTA    PATH   TO     LIBERATION:  There comes a point in life when we find everything meaningless. Who we are and what we have done, suddenly appear to be inconsequential and worthless. When we look around, everyone else also seems to be confined in a similar 'futile' existence. In this context, we start losing hope and develop a gamut of psychological or physical disorders. Is this our destiny? Perhaps not, because, alongside the darkness, there exists abundant hope. This is because, since time immemorial, enlightened ones have grappled with gloom and realised the truth. We, too, can take the same route to transcend misery and reach salvation.

The one who we worship and venerate as Rama underwent a similar crisis wherein he figured out that both the mind and the external world are fraught with delusions. He concluded that under the spell of these falsehoods people go through multiple cycles of birth and death, without discovering happiness. Sage Vasishta dispelled all darkness that was engulfing the mind of Prince Rama, so that he could clearly see the path to liberation and break free of suffering.

This illuminating dialogue between Prince Rama and Vasishta has been narrated in the 'Yoga Vasishta'.

Vasishta reaffirms that because we are pure consciousness, we can choose to be free, by making an effort. The cornerstone of the path to salvation is this rigorous effort, which emerges from a deep knowledge of scriptures, instructions of a learned one and one's own determination. The only goal to live for is to be liberated and therefore we should try our best to realise it by working hard, every moment. This effort materialises, when the soul, mind and body are unified and we embrace whatever is pure and reject that which is impure.

The four crucial components of this effort are samo, quietude of mind; vichara, spirit of enquiry; santosa, contentment and satsang, company of realised ones. We can develop quietude by understanding that the reactions of pleasure and pain emerge from our cravings and bind the consciousness. Our true nature is beyond pleasure and pain and once we restrict our craving, we can be free from these baser reactions. Consequently, the mind becomes pure and is able to realise the truth.

The spirit of enquiry involves looking deeply into ourselves to understand who we really are and dismantling all falsehoods and conditionings. When the search is constant and serious, mental and karmic patterns of the current as well as past lives get destroyed, and the light manifests.

Contentment is cultivation of an attitude to accept whatever comes our way without depression or elation. We continue to work hard but our emotional calm is not disrupted by the returns. With this mental stance, there comes the realisation that whatever the world offers is trivial compared to the wisdom that is worth attaining; so one seeks only the truth. Vasishta said that keeping the company of realised ones and serving them wholeheartedly, is superior among all spiritual practices. When a person keeps such company, the veil of ignorance automatically lifts and the self gets anchored in Divine consciousness.

The crucial thing to realise is that happiness is a state that no one, including the Divine, can bestow upon us. It happens only when we assiduously work for it. If we are not getting there, it simply means that we need to enhance our effort. Therefore, one must leave all fatalism and cultivate rigorous self-effort.  - By Pulkit Sharma

(The writer is a clinical psychologist, Times of India, June 13, 2017) -goTop


14. Kailash Mansarovaryatra 2017: Videsh MantriSushma Swaraj on June 11 flagged off the first batch of pilgrims bound for the annual Kailash Mansarovaryatra for this year. "The reverence we have for Lord Shiva, we should have similar respect for his abode. Therefore, please do not sully the road that will lead you to Lord Shiva," she told the pilgrims.A total of 1,430 devotees will undertake the pilgrimage in 25 batches this year. Eighteen batches, each comprising around 60 pilgrims, will visit Kailash Mansoravar through the more arduous Lipulekh Pass route, while seven batches with 50 pilgrims each will take the newly-opened Nathu La route.The yatra will continue for the next four months. -goTop


15.   HCL, TCS and Wipro among top 10 global engineering services firms: Three Bharatiya firms - HCL, TCS and Wipro, continue to be among the 10 biggest engineering services firms in the world, and all three now have over a billion dollars in revenue from that stream, as per a study by US based HfS Research for 2016. In its study for 2015, HfS had estimated TCS and Wipro's revenues from engineering services at slightly less than a billion dollars. French firms Altran and Alten continue their firm grip on the top two spots. HCL, TCS and Wipro are at the fifth, seventh and eighth spots. Eight firms are in the over $1 billion club compared to six last year.TCS has moved up a notch to the seventh place, while Wipro slipped a notch down to the 8th spot. HfS estimates TCS's and Wipro's revenue in engineering services to be $1.10 billion and $1.05 billion in 2016. -goTop


16. PRIME Minister Theresa May visits London Hindu Temple: Prime Minister Theresa May visited BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden on June 3. Arriving to a warm but dignified reception and welcome from 3.500 devotees, the Prime Minister opened her address with "Jai Swaminarayan" and said, "British Hindus provide a shining example of how a community can integrate successfully and embrace British values whilst retaining their cultural heritage and identity.  British Indians provide inspiring role models across all walks of life, from business to medicine; finance to charities; and teaching to the creative industries." -goTop


17. Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Religious Fervor: The Hindu Temple and Community Center in Sunnyvale, US celebrated its Silver Jubilee, with the grand three-day celebration starting May 26 and culminating May 28. Each of the three days was packed with religious rituals, great food and cultural performances. The elaborate celebrations were kicked off with a Ganesh Havan in the morning followed by continuous religious rituals throughout day. In the evening, 108 ladies came together to worship Goddess Lalitha Devi by performing kumkumaarchana 100,000-times in a ceremony called LakshaKumkumarchana. The religious celebrations culminated with PanchaKalyanotsavam, which is a popular religious activity from the southern part of Bharat. -goTop


18. UK election: 2 Sikh MPs add to record Bharatiyaset in House of Commons: All 10 Bharatiya-origin lawmakers in the previous Parliament expectedly retained their seats, with Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) and Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham Edbaston) - both Labour - taking forward the "Bharatiya" participation in British politics. The dozen include seven from the Labour Party and five from the Conservative Party.There were more than 50 Bharatiya-origin candidates from various parties in the fray. Jasdev Singh Rai of the British Sikh Consultative Forum said: "We will now have a voice in Parliament. The two are well respected within the community, are in touch with gurdwaras sangats and Sikh youth.-goTop


19. VHP to work for making Bharat Untouchability Free: The three day Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal meeting of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has stressed the need to accelerate efforts of making Bharat untouchability-free. About 250 saints from different parts of the country participated in the meeting presided over by Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati. The resolution about social harmony was moved by Swami Govind Giri Maharaj. The resolution said every Hindu is equal and Hinduism has never recognized untouchabiltiy. The resolution expects the Hindu society to open the doors of all temples, water bodies and crematoriums for all without discrimination. -goTop


20.  Canadian City Gets a New Hindu Temple: On 22 April, members of the Hindu community flocked to Wyndham, Victoria, British Columbia for the opening ceremony of the city's newest temple. The Hindu temple in Wyndham is now the home of many sacred statues--called murtis--and their presence is already drawing devotees daily and in large numbers on the weekend."This is now a living, breathing house of God," said Pandit Radha Raman. The temple offers a community room free of cost to the people to have their special prayers, devotional functions, bhandaras, birthday havans etc, and even teaching Hindi. The temple is open to people from all walks of life and religion. The murtisthapana, which means placing of sacred murtis through religious ceremonies, was done over the course of two auspicious days. On the second day the murtis were made visible to public.-goTop


21. IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IISc among world’s top 200 universities, says report: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have found a place in the top 200 universities in the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. Bharat boasts of three of the top 200 universities in the world for the first time as IIT-Bombay grabbed the 179th rank this time from 219th last year, IIT-Delhi rose to 172nd from the 185th rank and IISc slipped by 38 places to 190.-goTop


22. BHARATIYA-American Ananya Vinay wins Spelling Bee title: Ananya Vinay, a 12-year-old Bharatiya-American girl, won the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee on 2nd June, taking home USD 40,000 cash prize after correctly spelling "marocain" to become the 13th consecutive winner from the community. A sixth-grader from Fresno, California, Ananya won the spelling competition after numerous rounds against Rohan Rajeev, another Bharatiya-American student, underscoring the overwhelming dominance of Bharatiya-Americans in the competition. Ananya and Rajeev were the last two standing of the initial 291 spellers. In a post-victory interview, Ananya told reporters she was able to recognise one of the final words as it had been mentioned in her social studies book. "You can find words in interesting places," she was quoted as saying by the USA Today. Ananya is the 13th consecutive Bharatiya-American winner of the competition and the 18th of the past 22 winners with Bharatiya heritage, a run that began in 1999 with Nupur Lala's victory, which was featured in the documentary "Spellbound." -goTop


23. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Ravikumar, sah samyojak Vishwa Vibhag is on a tour to Singapore. Dr Ram Vaidya, sah samyojak will return to UK after pravas of Canada and USA. Shri Shyam Parande, Secretary Sewa International will visit Bali and Laos. Visitors: Rajiv Bharadwaj - Japan

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: जीवने यावदादानं स्यात्प्रदानं ततोऽधिकम्। What ever has been given to us in our life by the Parameshwar, we should give away more than that to the society. - From the Prarthana of Vivekananda Kendra. -goTop




(Part II)

Understanding Cham is not only understanding the Champa Hindus but also understanding the Cham Bani or Cham Muslim. Cham Bani is important factor because the declining Champa power and the rising Islam in the South East Asia, with Majaphit Hindu King adopting Islam, influenced the whole of South East Asian countries. What happened then, in what we call Indonesia now, also happened in Champa Desh in 16-17th centuries. Major part of the population converted to Islam but this was a different version of Islam called Cham Bani, totally localised version of Islam. Everyone born in the Cham community is a Hindu, even if born in Bani family. One has to undergo a ritual to be a Cham Bani. Marriages are very common among the Cham Hindu and Cham Bani and this is a bit complicated as every Hindu boy or girl marrying a Bani, has to first become Bani before marriage. However, this being a matriarchal society, the cremation or burial of the person has to connect to Mother's way of life. A Cham Hindu girl who marries a Cham Bani boy will become Cham Bani but will be cremated according to Cham Hindu rites as her mother is a Cham Hindu.

I am glad that I visited a sacred cremation ground which looked like a Mandir rather than a crematorium. A Cham Hindu is cremated at the crematorium and 9pieces of bones (Asthee- अस्थी) are picked up and preserved at home for some specific time. These are then submersed in the family's crematorium where the elder's remains (अस्थी) are also buried on a specific time. Similarly, for Cham Bani, the body is first buried temporarily at a place and after a year it is removed and buried for permanent in a separate burial ground. Both the rituals have to follow the auspicious time 'the Muhurt' (मुहूर्त), whether Hindu or Bani.

Cham Bani has evolved in a different way because the Islam has travelled to these countries from Bharat, it is mentioned often. Cham Bani worships in a mosque while they also worship in Mandirs without a miss. They follow a version of Quran but do not miss to follow 'Git' (गीत) and also have many other scriptures unlike the Arabian Islam. They have no problem with idolatry, that being important part of life. Cham Bani do participate in the Mandir festivals where Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh, the Trinity and Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati, the other Trinity, are also worshiped, an amazing indigenization. Scholars or experts will have to assess the demographic consequences of this kind of shared religiosity. Modern Wahabi Islam is already influencing the Bani mind, a worrying development in the region.

I could also visit some Mandirs which are well known. Po KlongGarai, a 13th century Cham Mandir, hosts a Cham festival with dancing and music and appearances by the last Cham queen. Cham Hindus and Cham Bani participate in this festival in large numbers. The two major feasts - Bon Kate (कते) in September or October and Bon Chabur (चबूर) in January and February - blend elements of Hindu Dharma and Islam, and feature five days of celebrations and rites for ancestors. The faithful Cham Hindus and Cham Banis, respect the sentiments of each other so much so that both do not eat Beef or Pork, when they come together or during any celebration/ festival.

Now, the vegetarians need not worry while they visit this land as they can get a bowl full of vegetarian soup with lot of vegetables that fills the belly with mere size of the bowl. Just that they will have to be careful about the ingredients. Fruits are also in abundance and unlike many other countries, life in this country is not costly. An Indian Rupee equals Vietnamese Don 235, one can be a millionaire for a while and enjoy. I had just less than two days at my disposal to interact with the community leaders, the High Priest, Cham literary figures, Cham Pandits, and youth apart from visiting the Mandirs in ruins and the Museum, an uphill task. It would need at least a weekdays to perform that task, I realised. I missed many important aspects of Cham life, frankly speaking.

My host InraJaka (इनराचाका) responds only to the questions. Making him speak his mind is a challenge. There was no other way to make him speak out his mind but to keep questioning. InraJaka is educated in Saigon, the present Ho Chi Minh City and speaks English very well. But rest of the Cham land speaks Vietnamese and some Cham language, and no other language. Inra’s father is a famous poet, living in Ho Chi Minh that is located in South but Inra has left all that to be among the Cham population and lives in a village doing agriculture and part time jobs for his survival while his wife supports him, teaching in a village school. Jaka dresses in the traditional way including the 'Pagri' that is Cham and is seen distinctly different from the rest of the Cham population who have abandoned the traditional clothing.We discussed as many things as possible like Cham Calendar, the traditional agriculture, the irrigation system including the dam and canals built by famous King Po KlungGarai in 13th century and helps irrigate the land even now, the festivals, the rites & rituals and a whole lot of things, while we roamed around on a motorcycle. The luxury of living in a hut was quite comfortable for me.

This story will not be complete if I miss mentioning the visit to Patau Blah (पतउ ब्लाह) which is the largest and earliest stone inscription found in whole of South East Asia. The Sanskrit inscription in Brahmeescript dates back to 2-3 century. This is a huge stone carving but uncared for, exposed to nature without efforts to preserve this treasure.  

The parting comment from a famous Cham author& poet with whom I had lunch was eloquent. Shri TraViya (त्राविया), known for his Cham language poetry and novels, said, "In you, I see a soul that visited the ChampaDesh 1500 years earlier, visiting us again. I have great hope in you and your organization".

Pandurang province in Vietnam country? Hope you don't ask me anymore!

(Shri Shyam Parande is Secretary, Sewa International and Secretary General, Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad.  <>) -goTop