Monday, November 30, 2009

TIES BETWEEN US-INDIA STRONGER BY STATE DINNER

OBAMA STRIKES HINDI CHORD WITH 'NAMASTE' AND
'SWAGAT',
LAST MONTH SOUGHT LIGHT FROM "DIWALI"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seeking to strike a chord with Indians, US President Barack Obama twice turned to Hindi as he hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The 48-year-old American leader set the mood for the day when he greeted everyone at the beginning of a joint press conference with Singh with a traditional Indian "Namaste". He went on to describe India as a "rising and responsible" power and voiced confidence that it will assume its rightful place as a global leader in this century. In the evening, as he raised the toast along with Singh at the high-profile state dinner, the first black American President reached out to India by greeting the audience in Hindi with "Aapka Swagat Hai" (you are welcome). While Singh wished the Americans -"a happy Thanksgiving," marked on the fourth Thursday of November in the US, Obama pointed out that the White House had celebrated both Diwali and the birthday of Guru Nanak for the first time this year. He said the bond between India and the US includes more than two million Indian-Americans who enrich every corner of the US.

As regards Diwali, last October 14th, Barack Obama lit a ceremonial Diwali lamp in the East Room of the White House to ’’symbolize victory of light over darkness. He became the first American President that officially observed the auspicious occasion of the Festival of Lights. While the President lit the White House diya to ''symbolize victory of light over darkness", Sri Narayanachar Digalakote, a Sanskrit scholar and ordained Hindu priest of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lantham, Maryland chanted 'Asatoma Sadgamaya' from the 'Brhadaranyaka Upanishad':
Lead me from Untruth to Truth. Lead me from Darkness to Light. Lead me from Death to Immortality.



In his Diwali message the American President said, ''This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting Diyas, or lamps, which symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance,'' and that the significance of Diwali in Hinduism is "to celebrate the return of Lord Rama from his exile", Obama briefly explained.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Following in the footsteps of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, we are trying to broadcast His message throughout the world. By His mercy, people are taking this movement very seriously. Indeed, our books are extensively distributed in the Western countries, especially in America and Europe. Even the ecclesiastical orders in these countries are appreciating the value of the Krishna consciousness movement and are ready to unite for the highest benefit of human society. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu may therefore take this movement seriously and broadcast it throughout the world, from village to village and from town to town, just as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself did.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Purport in "Śrī Caitanya Caritāmrita - Madhya-līlā: 25.264
"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

DOZENS KILLED IN WRECK OF LUXURY EXPRESS TRAIN

HOMEMADE BOMB CAUSED DEADLY DERAILMENT
OF A MOSCOW-TO-ST. PETERSBURG PASSENGER TRAIN
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) - Investigators say an improvised explosive device caused the express train to derail on Friday night, killing at least 26 people and injuring about 100 others. "Elements of an explosive device" have been found at the site, authorities said, and the explosion made a small crater. A total of 681 people were on the Nevsky Express as it traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Friday night. This is Russia's fastest train, equivalent to a bullet train. The crash happened when the train was 280 kilometers (174 miles) from St. Petersburg.

"One can say with certainty that that was indeed an act of terror," the Russian prosecutor's office, said.
A Federal Security officer said "criminology experts have come to a preliminary conclusion that there was an explosion on Friday night of an improvised explosive device equivalent to seven kilograms of TNT. The explosion caused at least two cars to go off the tracks and damaged several others. Late Saturday afternoon, as the cleanup and restoration work was in progress, a smaller explosion occurred nearby. There was no immediate word on who or what group might have been behind the action. However, confirmation that the carriages were blown off the tracks by a bomb has turned the site into a crime scene. There are fears of a terrorist upsurge in Russia’s heartland as speculation grows over who planted the bomb. Analysts specialising in political terrorism believe a recent escalation in violence in Ingushetia and Chechnya could point to the culprits.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
When there is some obstruction in fulfilling a plan we become angry in life, but if there is no plan of life then we are always open to serve the present and in that way we are clear - free from debt and obligation. Whatever comes in the present we do as our duty. But when there is a plan we become angry if any disturbance will come in carrying that out. … In order to conquer fear we are to cultivate understanding of the real nature of this plane: it all runs by the Lord’s will but we are throwing in our separate interest which comes back to us as reaction.
Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja:
"Focused to Sri Guru"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBRSM

Saturday, November 28, 2009

STUDY: MEDITATION KEEPS HEART HEALTHY

MEDITATION CUTS STRESS, LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
AND REDUCES RISKS OF HEART ATTACKS AND DEATHS
WISCONSIN (BBC Science) - A study presented last week at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Fla., suggests that trascendental meditation reduce blood pressure and risks of heart attacks, strokes and deaths. The paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association revealed that Meditation helped heart disease patients lower risks of heart attack, stroke, and death by nearly 50 percent. Researchers followed about 200 high-risk patients for nine years. The meditators tended to remain disease-free longer and also reduced their systolic blood pressure. “We found reduced blood pressure that was significant — that was probably one important mediator,” said Dr. Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, who presented the findings. The study was conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

The participants found transcendental meditation easy to learn and practice, Dr. Schneider said. He suggested that the stress reduction produced by the trascendental meditation could cause changes in the brain that cut stress hormones like cortisol and dampen the inflammatory processes associated with atherosclerosis. Robert Schneider MD, FACC, specialist in clinical hypertension and co-author of the study stated, “This well-controlled clinical trial found that blood pressure can be effectively lowered in students with a stress-reducing intervention. This has major implications for the prevention of hypertension, heart attacks and strokes in adulthood.” The study was sponsored by a Specialized Center of Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and by the Abramson Family Foundation, David Lynch Foundation, and other private donors. Researchers have found that transcendental meditation provides deep relaxation and reduces anxiety, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse, increases longevity and improve cognitive performance and overall psychological health and well-being.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
If we want to control the mind we should first understand why it is that the mind continues to wander here and there. The principle reasons are two, anarthas and aparadha [impure qualities and offenses to the Holy Name]. This being the root cause of mental instability, the mind will again return to its wanderings when the artificial means of control [yoga] are withdrawn. The chanting of the Holy Name itself is the principle means of bringing the mind under control while chanting japa. Only the process of self-purification, by the chanting of the Holy Name, will remove anarthas from the heart and release us from offenses.

Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja
“Meditation Techniques and the Holy Name”
www.gosai.com/krishna-talk/63-meditation-techniques.html

Friday, November 27, 2009

MUSLIMS BEGAN THEIR ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE, THE HAJJ

MILLIONS ATTENDING THE HAJJ PILGRIMAGE FROM
PORT OF JEDDAH TO THE MUSLIM HOLY CITY OF MECCA
MOUNT ARAFAT (BBC News) - Two million or more Muslim pilgrims braved scorching heat outside Mecca today to pray for forgiveness in the final stage of the annual hajj pilgrimage - the world's largest religious gathering. This year 1.6 million of the faithful have come from abroad. The biggest foreign contingent is from Indonesia 200,000 while India is sending 164,000 and Pakistan 140,000. Saudi officials reported that heavy rains and flooding killed at least 48 people in Saudi Arabia, adding to this year's worries about swine flu and the permanent threat of deadly stampedes.

Security is paramount, with 100,000 police and troops deployed in and around Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. Mecca's Grand Mosque alone is monitored by 1,850 CCTV cameras.
At Muzdalifa, the pilgrims collect pebbles to throw at walls at the Jamarat Bridge on three occasions over the next three days in an act that symbolizes the rejection of the devil's temptations. The haj marks sites that Islamic tradition says Prophet Ibrahim - biblical patriarch Abraham - visited in Mecca and that Prophet Mohammad established as a pilgrim route 14 centuries ago after removing pagan idols from Mecca. Mount Arafat, at the centre of the plains of Mina, was the scene of the Prophet Muhammad's final sermon 1,377 years ago. The day of Arafat is considered one of the most sacred days of the Islamic calendar. The hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and it is the duty of every able-bodied Muslim to perform it at least once in a lifetime. Pilgrims spend the day at Mount Arafat, the mountain of mercy, in prayer, chanting: "Here I am in answer to Thy call, Lord, here I am. There is no other God but Thee. Praise be unto Thee.", this is the high point of the four-day ritualt. Meanwhile, Iran has been angered by warnings that demonstrations will not be tolerated, however Iranians were left alone to chant "death to America, death to Israel" without intervention during hajj.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Needless to say, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was one of the greatest humanists. His boundless love had no barriers of religion and sect. Śrī Haridāsa Thākura, originally a Muslim by birth, was one of his earliest disciples. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī were two of his most famous disciples, who were originally under the service of Hussain Shah, the then Muslim Ruler of Bengal. ... Although he is held in high esteem as religious leader of the Hindu faith, he embraced into his fold, men and women of all religions and sects. In middle ages, his Bhakti movement spread far and wide, covering a large portion of India. As forecasted by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu himself, today, this movement is out to conquer the heart of every individual, throughout the world, by its unfailing message of love and compassion.
Śrīla Bhakti Bibudha Bodhayan Maharaja
Lecture: Śrī Gopinath Gaudiya Math
"Our Organization, Its Aims and Objectives"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBBBM/

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CHIEF TORTURER EXPRESSES 'EXCRUCIATING REMORSE'

40-YEAR SENTENCE DEMANDED FOR 'COMRADE DUCH'
THE KHMER ROUGE'S CHIEF TORTURER AND JAILER
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (Reuters) - The Khmer Rouge's chief torturer and jailer has expressed "excruciating remorse" for more than 14,000 people killed under his watch. Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, was in charge at a notorious prison during Cambodia's ultra-Maoist revolution of the 1970s. Kaing Guek Eav, was head of the S-21 prison where almost 16,000 people were tortured to death during the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule. Addressing the court , Duch said that he wanted to share the sorrow of the Cambodian people.

The 67-year-old former math teacher is accused of "crimes against humanity, enslavement, torture, sexual abuses and other inhumane acts" as commander of S-21 jail. Under Duch's direction, 1,7000 men, women and children who had been accused of disloyalty were taken to Tuol Sleng – known as S-21 – to be interrogated until they implicated friends, relatives and even people they had never met in fantastical "plots" against the regime. Then they were killed. There was no reprieve; of the thousands who passed through the gates of S-21 between 1977 and 1979, only 15 emerged alive. Duch encouraged the jail's interrogation teams to apply ever harsher torture techniques to their victims, including cutting off their fingers and toes, bludgeoned to death by beatings with metal pipes, electrocution, near-starvation, violent rape and forcing some prisoners to eat their own excrement. In a final appeal to his war crimes tribunal, Duch has apologised for his role in the torture and murder of thousands of Cambodians, he denies personally murdering or torturing prisoners and insists he was following orders out of fear for his own life. He admits being liable for the killings but insists he was serving a mafia-type group "I could not withdraw from", and now he "express my most excruciating remorse", Duch told the court.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The soul may soar so high as to become a divine being fully conscious of his own true nature as an eternal servant of the Supreme Lord in the spiritual kingdom, or it may descend so low as to appear no better than sticks and stones. The destiny of each individual soul is thus made or marred by himself. As spiritual beings, all individual souls possess the faculty of free will divinely bestowed upon them. They can abuse this gift of God or they can make the best use of it. The Supreme Lord does not interfere with His gift, viz., the soul’s freedom of choice.

Śrīla Bhakti Saranga Maharaj

"Gaudiya Vaishnava Theologhy"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBSGM/

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST GENDER VIOLENCE

NOVEMBER 25, IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR
THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Kenya (Daily Nation) - The 16-Days of Action for the Elimination of Violence against Women run from the November 25 to the December 10, which is International Human Rights Day recognising that women’s rights are human rights. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations formal recognition of November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The date also commemorates the anniversary of the brutal murder of three sisters, named Mirabel, who in 1960, were killed in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo, for their political activism and outspoken resistance to the regime at that time.

United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon notes that violence against women continues to persist as one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world. He said it is a threat to all women, and an obstacle to all of the UN’s efforts for development, peace and gender equality in all societies. According to the BBC News, the latest Home Office figures suggest that in one year, 106 people were killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Domestic violence is not the only crime or type of attack where women and girls become the usual target because of their gender. According to the Home Office, around 10,000 women are sexually assaulted and 2,000 women are raped every week. Forced marriage, "honour" killings, trafficking for sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation are all crimes exclusively or mainly perpetrated against women. An opinion poll commissioned by the Home Office in February this year, revealed that it is thought that a woman should be held fully or partly responsible if she worked as a prostitute and was sexually assaulted or raped, if she was drunk and was sexually assaulted or raped and that it is acceptable in certain circumstances for a man to hit or slap his wife or girlfriend in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothing in public. These attitudes can create cultures where offenders feel justified - and where women and girls feel they may in some way "deserve" to be attacked or abused.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
“It is certain, O Partha, that those who take refuge in me, even the lowborn, women, merchants, as well as the working class, attain the highest goal.” (Bg. 9.32) - This is the translation and here the commentary I use in my upcoming book Bhagavad-gita: "Its Feeling and Philosophy": “Women are mentioned in this verse because of the social impediment to their study of the Vedas in times gone by, as well as the fact that a woman's birth can subject one to the kind of repression they have suffered from over the centuries.” The spiritual position is that everyone - men and women - should be submissive to Krishna. If, for example, in a married relationship, the wife is more submissive to Krishna, her husband should follow her. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu found that Mukunda's son, Raghunandana, was more Krishna conscious than his father, he considered Raghunandana the father and Mukunda the son.
Śrīla B.V. Tripurari Maharaja :
"Women, Lower Birth, Highest Goal" - Sangas Vol. II, No. 25
Sri Caitanya Sanga - http://www.swami.org/

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

MAN IN 'COMA' FOR 23 YEARS WAS AWAKE ALL ALONG

PATIENT TRAPPED IN 23-YEAR “COMA” HEARD
EVERYTHING AND WAS CONSCIOUS ALL ALONG
BELGIUM (AP) - A man presumed to have been in a deep coma for 23 years has spoken of his "second birth" after doctors realised that he had been fully conscious all along but unable to communicate. Rom Houben, 46, was paralysed in a car accident that left him in what doctors thought was a persistent vegetative state. In fact he remained aware of his surroundings and could hear medical staff gradually give up hope on him. Researchers using new scanning techniques discovered that his brain was still active, and functioning almost normally.
Doctors trained him to use his right forefinger to express himself on a specially adapted keyboard. His case is being highlighted in Belgium by doctors who are pioneering new ways of understanding coma victims, hundreds of whom around the world could be conscious but locked in paralysis – and, unlike a true coma patient, able to feel pain. "I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me – it was my second birth," Mr Houben tapped out on his custom-built keyboard at the nursing home east of Brussels where he is given constant care. "All that time I just literally dreamt of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt." Mr Houben recalled the terrifying realisation after he came round from his accident when he knew that he had lost complete control of his body – but no one knew that he was fully conscious. "I screamed, but there was nothing to hear," he told the German magazine Der Speigel. "I became a witness to my own suffering as doctors and nurses tried to speak with me until they gave up all hope." Asked how he passed the time for 23 years, he said: "I meditated – I dreamt myself away." Now his bed has been equipped with a book holder above his face so that he can read while lying down.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
To err is human. However learned and intelligent a man may be, he is prone to error and evil. The greatest philosopher should always remember that human nature is apt to make various errors at every moment, especially when we try to judge that which is spiritual and eternal using our empiric knowledge. ... In fact the soul is the proprietor of both the mind and the body. When, by good fortune, the sleeping soul is made to turn back to hear, think of or move towards its original position, the mind and body follow suit till the final objective of spiritual existence is attained. ... There is a wide gulf between mind and spirit that can only be bridged by spiritual cultivation.

Śrīla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Maharaja :
Lecture: "God-realization"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www. bvml.org/SBKSM/


Monday, November 23, 2009

RAIN OF ‘BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS' SOAKED BRITAIN

HEAVY RAIN DURING THE PAST FEW DAYS HAS LEFT
HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE SHELTERING IN RESCUE CENTRES
England (Reuters) - Amount expected during the entire month of November has fallen in 24 hours across northern England and southern Scotland. Torrential rain of “biblical proportions” caused serious flooding across northern England and southern Scotland. Flood defences in Cumbrian towns were overwhelmed by unprecedented downpours that officials said could be expected only once in 1,000 years. The unprecedented deluge destroyed flood defences in northern England that had been built only four years ago.

The Meteorological Office said the amount of rain expected during the entire month of November had fallen in 24 hours, with the Environment Agency reporting 314 millimetres had fallen in one area that it said was a record for England. Lifeboats and Royal Air Force helicopters were used to rescue hundreds of people from their homes in towns and villages across the picturesque Lake District. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited flood-hit Cumbria in north west England on Saturday to see the damage caused by record rainfall and pay tribute to a policeman who died when a bridge collapsed. Brown paid tribute to Police Constable Bill Barker, 44, who died after being swept down river when a bridge he had been directing motorists away from the crumbling structure on the River Derwent when the bridge collapsed underneath him. "I'm sorry about the loss of PC Bill Barker, and I know he was a very brave and heroic man," he said. Britain has been hit by severe flooding in recent years, raising questions about the impact of global warming. Last year Britain saw its wettest summer since records began in 1914 while floods in 2007 affected 55,000 homes and businesses.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
By the order and wrath of Indra, the master of all the higher subtle elements, heavy rain began to fall. ... So the helpless - the women, children, and animals of Vrndavana - had no alternative but to take refuge of Krishna. They all came to Krishna for relief. They cried, "O Krishna! Now what are we to do? … Seeing this, Krishna had much pity for them. … At that time, with only one hand Krishna lifted up the Govardhana mountain. For Him, it was a very easy thing; with only one hand, He uprooted the hill and lifted it up as a child lifts a toy ball. And holding up that great mountain, Krishna gave protection to all those who were living in Gokula. The men, women, and children of Vrndavana brought the cows and all their worldly goods and took shelter beneath Govardhana Hill.
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaja
“The Loving Search for the Lost Servant “
Fourth Chapter: ‘Lord of the Cows‘

Sunday, November 22, 2009

TOP MODEL DAUL KIM HANGS HERSELF IN PARIS

20-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN SUPERMODEL DAUL KIM
WAS FOUND HANGED IN HER PARIS APARTMENT
PARIS (Reuters) - South Korean model Daul Kim was found hanged in her Paris apartment on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor's office said. Police were investigating the cause of the 20-year-old's death and said it was most likely that she committed suicide . Kim's body was found on Thursday morning in her apartment in Paris by a male friend, who alerted the police. "We are in shock and profoundly sad to learn of the death of Daul Kim," said Patrick Lemire, booking director at Marilyn Agency, which had worked with Kim. "She was a real artist, a model with character, she wasn't a weak woman at all," he told Reuters Television. Kim, who modelled for Chanel, Dries Van Noten and Maison Martin Margiela, made her debut at Paris Fashion Week in 2007, according to fashion magazine Vogue's website, www.vogue.com. She had modelled for leading designers, including Chanel, Dries van Noten and Alexander McQueen. Despite her professional success, she had hinted at her desire to end her life in her popular internet blog – a series of poems, photos and thoughts called "I like to Fork Myself".

On November 5, she wrote: “I already accepted that I relate to nothing. The more I gain the more lonely it is... I know I'm like a ghost.” In one blog post she quotes the American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose ideas are “considered a reaction to a commercial identity; he calls for a return to individual identity”. And in a final comment on November 18, she posted an entry entitled "Say hi to forever". Kim's blog (iliketoforkmyself.blogspot.com) was last updated on Wednesday, with a YouTube video of the song "I Go Deep" by Jim Rivers. Bloggers in South Korea mourned her death online with many speculating that she had succumbed to the pressure of high-fashion modelling and a loss of identity.


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Simply by committing suicide, how you'll be happy? Because "tathā dehāntara-prāptir" (Bg 2.13), you'll have to accept another body. Either you commit suicide or die naturally, you have to accept. But if you accept natural death and natural body, then your karma “ksaya”, you annihilate your karma, but if you commit suicide, then you become ghost. Because nature's punishment. You got a body and you neglected it, so you now you become, remain without body. That is ghost. Ghost means who does not possess this material body, but he has got the subtle body. That is ghost.
Śrīla A.C. BV Swami Prabhupada:
Class on Śrī Caitanya Caritāmrita, Ādi-līlā : 7.8.
Vrindavana, March 15, 1974.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

CHINA GAS BLAST KILLS DOZENS

CHINA SAYS AT LEAST 42 DEAD AND
66 TRAPPED IN COAL-MINE EXPLOSION
BEIJING (EP - BBC) - A coal-mine explosion in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang happened when a total of 528 people were working in the Xinxing mine, the State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement. It said 389 escaped after the blast. China Central Television reported that 42 were dead, 31 rescued and the others trapped about a third of a mile (500 meters) underground. The report said the explosion was caused by a gas buildup. More than 70 others were trapped in the mine nearly a third of a mile under ground. The explosion shattered windows within 20 yards (meters) of the mine shaft, Chinese media report.

Most of the workers managed to escape the pit, but many were still trapped about a third of a mile (500m) underground. Many of the injured were being treated at the Hegang Mining Bureau Hospital, which said all 800 of its medical workers had joined the rescue operation. China depends heavily on coal to generate about three-quarters of its electricity needs. China's mines are the world's deadliest, and the blast shows the difficulties the government faces in trying to boost safety in an industry where large state-owned coal mines are considered safer than smaller, private ones. Most accidents are blamed on failures to follow safety rules, including a lack of required ventilation or fire control equipment.


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Unless a man gains sufficient experience in course of his worldly sojourn, and is thoroughly convinced of his utter helplessness and the futility of his dependence on earthly objects, his pitiable condition continues to remain so for ever. As such, an inborn conviction that no other person except the Supreme Lord, is capable of saving him from the endless sufferings, he is at every moment subject to, is a favourable disposition in attaining this virtue.

Śrīla Bhakti Vaibhava Purī Mahārāj:
"Guru and Atma Nivedan" - 'Submission and Total Self-Surrender'
Śrī Krishna Chaitanya Mission.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WOMEN HARDEST HIT BY CLIMATE CHANGE

CLIMATE CHANGE IS WORSE FOR POOR WOMEN
THEY ARE HARDEST HIT BY EXTREME WEATHER
LONDON (BBC News) - Women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, bearing the disproportionate burden of a warming planet, according to a report released by the United Nations Population Fund. "Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, even though they contributed the least to it," said Executive Director of the Population Fund (UNFPA), Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. They are the most likely to be affected by problems associated with rising seas, droughts, melting glaciers and extreme weather, they have been largely overlooked in the debates surrounding how to address these problems - an issue that needs to be rectified, Obaid said. As the most affected, women should be taken into account by policies, programs and treaties organised in the global fight against climate change. The report has also shown that women are more likely than men to die in natural disasters - including those related to extreme weather - with this gap most pronounced where incomes are low and status differences between men and women are high.

The poor are more likely to depend on agriculture for a living, and therefore risk going hungry or losing their livelihoods when droughts strike, rains become unpredictable and hurricanes move with unprecedented force. The poor also tend to live in marginal areas, vulnerable to floods, rising seas and storms. The UNFA report also shows investments that empower women and girls - particularly education and health - bolster economic development and reduce poverty and have a beneficial impact on climate change. Girls with more education, tend to have smaller and healthier families as adults. Women with access to reproductive health services and family planning, have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Who is a woman here may not be a woman there in that higher realm; who is a man here may not be a man there. The body is only a dress. The soul has its mental dress, and according to that, we wear this physical dress, the flesh dress. Sexual identity means the flesh and the mind. In the soul, who will represent which type of sexual identity there, is uncertain at present here in this plane. But women there in the higher realm have a higher prospect, a brighter prospect in the spiritual world. In the spiritual realm, those souls that are female - who have attained that formation of the soul's realization - hold a better and higher position than men. Here in the plane of exploitation, men hold the better position. But there, in the plane of submission and surrender, the female form of mind is more rewarding than the male's form of mind.
Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
“Subjective Evolution of Consciousness”
Chapter Nine: ‘Spiritual Evolution‘

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ANTI-ABORTION FIGHT MOVES TO FEDERAL LEVEL IN MEXICO

MEXICO'S STATES DEFINED FERTILIZED HUMAN EGG
AS A PERSON WITH A RIGHT TO LEGAL PROTECTION
MEXICO CITY (AP) - In the capital of the world's second-largest Roman Catholic country, abortions are now legal up to 12 weeks' gestation. However, they remain a crime in the rest of the country where a woman risks jail time if caught interrupting her pregnancy. A majority of the country's 32 states have now enacted anti-abortion measures in response to Mexico City's legislature permitting abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers in Veracruz made it Mexico's 17th state to pass legislation declaring life begins at conception, then adopted a proposal that requires Congress to consider amending the constitution to outlaw abortion.

Mexican states currently set their own laws on abortion, but the constitutional proposal adopted by the Veracruz lawmakers late Tuesday is likely to make the issue a federal one. Under the constitution, a single state legislature can propose an amendment that must be considered by Congress.
The Veracruz law also includes exceptions for rape, congenital deformation of a fetus or danger to the mother's life. The liberalizing move in Mexico City sparked wide condemnation from the Catholic Church and sent both pro-life and pro-choice supporters into the streets. The debate has also raised concerns about the estimated 200,000 illegal abortions that are performed here each year, which result in nearly 1,500 women dying during botched operations in unhygienic backstreet clinics.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
According to Hindu scripture, human life begins when the male semen fertilizes the female egg. “By divine arrangement in accordance with the principle of karma, the living entity enters into the womb of a woman through the particle of male semen to assume a particular type of body.” (SB. 3.31.1).
Hindus consider that the soul enters the womb at the time of conception. Thus it does not condone abortion. However, modern times being what they are call for a thoughtful evaluation of circumstances. Adoption is a viable alternative, but education in spiritual values is the solution. Regarding the karma involved, both the soul incoming and the one aborting are implicated in reaping karmic reaction (fruit) and initiating karmic reaction (seed) respectively.
Srila B.V. Tripurari Maharaja
"Sanga Vol. III, No. 8 - 2001 & Sanga Vol. IV, No. 8 - 2002"
Sri Caitanya Sanga - http://www.swami.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

OBAMA'S GESTURE SPARKS CRITICISM

WAS PRESIDENT OBAMA'S DEFERENTIAL BOW TO
JAPANESE EMPEROR AKIHITO TOO LOW FOR US PRIDE?
WASHINGTON (AP - ANSA) - President Barack Obama greeted Emperor Akihito, whose father ruled when Japan bombed a US naval base at Pearl Harbour in 1941, with a simultaneous handshake and nearly 90- degree bow, sparking negative commentary. Obama's deferential bow to Japanese emperor Akihito has set off a firestorm of debate in the US about everything from diplomatic protocol to the decline of American power and prestige to the African-American President's own loyalty to the country. The controversial bow took place earlier on Saturday when Obama met Japanese emperor Akihito. Pictures of the meeting showed a tall Obama bowing deeply before a much shorter Akihito.

Some American conservative commentators are accusing the US commander in chief of grovelling to a foreign leader. Many conservatives accused Obama of everything from being apologetic, to diminishing the US and the presidency, to even acting treasonous.
However, US officials insisted Obama's gesture was nothing more than a sign of respect. US presidents from both political parties often have been criticised for attempts at culturally sensitive greetings to high-ranking foreigners. Former President Richard Nixon, a Republican, can be seen in a Life magazine photo from 1971 bowing to Akihito's father, Emperor Hirohito. In 1994, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was criticised for almost bowing to Akihito. The resulting image, The New York Times wrote, was of "an obsequent president and the emperor of Japan".

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The tarka-panthās (who believe in the process of gross dialectic to acquire knowledge) can display their pride, but they cannot touch even the doorstep of the realm of bhakti. By instructing his own mind in Śrī Manah-śiksā, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī humbly teaches us to renounce all pride and quickly develop sublime and incessant rati for Śrī Gurudeva; for Śrī Vraja; for the residents of Vraja; for the Vaisnavas; for the brāhmanas, who are like the demigods of this Earth; for our dīksā-mantras; for the holy names of the Lord; and for the topmost shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, the eternally youthful couple of Vraja. As long as the false pride that stems from one’s wealth, scholarship, beauty and birth in a high class family remains in one’s heart, it is impossible to practice devotional service even slightly.
Śrīla Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaja
"Śrī Śrī Rādhāstamī" - 'Humility and Service: Not Pride and Erudition'
Year 16, Issue 8 (1976) Rays of The Harmonist 48.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

AUSTRALIA: APOLOGY FOR FORGOTTEN VICTIMS

AUSTRALIAN AND BRITISH GOVERMENT APOLOGISED TO SURVIVING BRITISH CHILDREN TREATED LIKE SALVES
CAMBERRA (ABC News) - PM Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull yesterday offered a historic apology to "forgotten Australians" and former child migrants who suffered abuse, exploitation and neglect in institutions and foster homes. Thousands of child immigrants were shipped from Britain to Australia up until the 1960s in the belief they were off to a better life, but when they arrived many found themselves the subject of sexual abuse and treated like slaves. Children were cut off from families and some falsely told they were orphans.

Parents were told the children had gone to a better life, but many of them ended up in institutions or were sent to work unpaid on farms, with many facing abuse.
The child migrants programme ended 40 years ago and it sent 150,000 abroad between 1920 and 1967 . Rudd's statement came after the British government announced that Gordon Brown would offer an apology to the displaced children. A Downing Street spokeswoman said Brown would apologise in the new year, following consultation with charities representing former child migrants and their families. Mr Rudd apologised for an "ugly chapter" in the nation's history: "Sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused. Sorry for the tragedy, the absolute tragedy, of childhoods lost. We look back with shame that many of these little ones who were entrusted to institutions and foster homes instead were abused physically, humiliated cruelly, violated sexually. And we look back with shame at how those with power were allowed to abuse those who had none", said Mr. Rudd.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
In the tenth chapter of the Madhya-khanda, Vrindavan Das Thakur writes that while Hari Das was being cruelly beaten, Mahaprabhu descended with his discus, intending to destroy the demons, but was unable to do so on account of Hari Das’s prayers. So he shielded Hari Das’s body with his own. Then he revealed to Hari Das the cane marks on his back. The main reason for the Lord’s appearance is his devotee. When such an outrage was being perpetrated on his devotee Hari Das, he immediately appeared to protect him. When Hari Das heard the Lord recount this story, he immediately fainted. The Lord then showed him his divine form. He glorified Hari Das himself: “Anyone who even sees Hari Das becomes free from all bondage. Even great gods like Brahma and Shiva desire Hari Das’s company. Even the Ganges desires his touch.”
Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja :“Srila Namacharya Hari Das Thakur”Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math - (Sreecgmath - 19.Sep.2002)

Monday, November 16, 2009

SERBIAN PATRIARCH PAVLE DIES AT 95

HEAD OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH,
PATRIARCH PAVLE, HAS DIED IN BELGRADE
BELGRADE, Serbia (UPI) - Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Pavle died Sunday in Belgrade at age 95, officials said. The spiritual leader of Serbian orthodox Christians died at Belgrade's military clinic VMA, where he had been been hospitalized since November 2007, the Serbian news Web site B92 reported. Patriarch Pavle's passing was being marked by the tolling of church bells at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael the Archangel each hour, the Web site said. His body was reportedly taken to the Patriarchy building Sunday where the Holy Synod members were set to hold a memorial service. Pavle was elected patriarch in 1990 after spending 33 years as a bishop in Kosovo. During his time there, he spoke openly of hardships faced by minority Serbs in the majority-Albanian province, B92 said. Pavle was a respected theologian and linguist, known for personal humility and modesty. After the fall of communism and rise of Serb nationalism, the Church regained a leading role during his rule.

"The death of Patriarch Pavle is a huge loss for Serbia," President Boris Tadic said in a statement. "There are people who bond entire nations and Pavle was such a person." He visited Australia, United States, Canada and West Europe. He was also guest at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and at the White House. Patriarch Pavle was the oldest among all living Patriarchs.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Every individual has his peculiar nature distinct form any other. So, obviously individuals will vary in their opinions and tastes and this is quite natural. It is an unnatural thing to attempt forcibly to encage individuals into one fold, faith or particular ideology. Accordingly cultivation of tolerance of others' views is essential for world-peace and unity. ... the primary point to be noted here is that there should be tolerance amongst sponsors of different religious views and respect for other's views, … another point to be noted here is that we should have the patience to understand the underlying spirit of different religious faiths and not merely indulge in disputes in regard to the ritualistic aspects of religions which will certainly vary in different parts of the world in accordance with the change of climate conditions and environments.
Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaj :
"Realistic Solution for Diverse Humanity"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBDMM
/

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MILLIONS OF AMERICANS DON'T GET ENOUGH SLEEP

50 TO 70 MILLION AMERICAN ADULTS SUFFER FROM
CHRONIC SLEEP AND WAKEFULNESS DISORDERS
ATLANTA, USA (AP) - West Virginia is where people are really staying awake, according to the first government study to monitor state-by-state differences in sleeplessness. West Virginians' lack of sleep was about double the national rate, perhaps a side effect of health problems such as obesity, experts said. Nearly 1 in 5 West Virginians said they did not get a single good night's sleep in the previous month. The national average was about 1 in 10, according to a federal health survey conducted last year and released last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 11.1 percent of the US population has not been getting enough sleep for the past nine months. 12.4 percent of women are not getting enough sleep and 9.9 percent of men. Tennessee, Kentucky and Oklahoma also were notably above average in their reported lack of sleep.

Health officials do not know the exact reasons for the differences. But experts noted several possible explanations: obesity, smoking, heart disease and the proportion of adults with disabilities. Studies have increasingly found sleeping problems in people with certain health problems, including obesity. "There's growing evidence sleep deprivation promotes obesity," said Dr. Ronald Chervin, a University of Michigan sleep disorders expert. Financial stress and odd-hour work shifts can play roles in sleeplessness, too, Chervin added. Some experts believe sleep-deprived people are more inclined to eat fatty foods during the day. Also, sleep disorders have been linked to mental distress, depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, as well as other illnesses.


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The sacred literature has divided human consciousness into four stages: ordinary waking consciousness (jagara), dreaming consciousness (svapna), deep sleep (sushupti), and total awareness (turiya). The first three dimensions of consciousness are material, but the fourth, turiya, represents consciousness unencumbered by material influence. … The fourth dimension of consciousness (turiya) is the goal of all transcendentalists, except for the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. The Gaudiyas are interested in something more: turyatitah gopala. This is the fifth dimension, in which one comes face to face with Gopal Krsna in Vraja Dhama, from adhoksaja to aprakrta, from God consciousness to Krsna consciousness.
Srila B.V. Tripurari Maharaja
“The Fifth Dimension: From Adhoksaja to Aprakrta”
Sri Caitanya Sanga - Vol. II, No. 34 - www.swami.org

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"LOTS OF WATER" FOUND ON MOON

NASA SPACECRAFT HAVE DISCOVERED "SIGNIFICANT
AMOUNTS OF WATER" ON THE LUNAR SURFACE
LOS ANGELES - (AP) It turns out there's lots of water on the moon - at least near the lunar south pole. The discovery announced Friday comes from an analysis of data from a spacecraft NASA intentionally crashed into the moon last month. There is water on the Moon, scientists stated unequivocally on Friday, and considerable amounts of it. “Indeed yes, we found water,” Anthony Colaprete, the principal investigator for NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, said in a news conference. The lunar impact kicked up at least 25 gallons of water and that's only what scientists can see, Colaprete said. NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, last month slammed into one of moon's permanently shadowed craters near the south pole to study whether ice was buried underneath. The mission actually involved two moon shots. First, an empty rocket hull slammed into the Cabeus crater. A shepherding spacecraft recorded the drama live before it also crashed into the same spot four minutes later.

NASA scientists had predicted the twin impacts would spew six miles of dust into space. Instead, images revealed just a mile-high plume. Scientists spent a month analyzing data from the spacecraft's spectrometers, instruments that can detect strong signals of water molecules in the plume. The latest finding is further evidence that the moon is not the dry, barren place it appears and could reinvigorate scientific interest. "This is not your father's moon," said Greg Delory of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not part of the research. "Rather than a dead and unchanging world, it could in fact be a very dynamic and interesting one."


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Modern scientists attempt excursions to other planets, but they have no information of how many different types of oceans and seas there are within the universe. According to their experience, the moon is full of dust, but this does not explain how it gives us soothing rays from a distance of millions of miles. As far as we are concerned, we follow the authority of Vyāsadeva and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who have described the universal situation according to the Vedic literature. These authorities differ from modern scientists who conclude from their imperfect sensual experience that only this planet is inhabited by living beings whereas the other planets are all vacant or full of dust.

Srila A.C. BV Swami Prabhupada:
"
The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam - Purport in Canto 7 - Chapter 4 - Verse 17"

Friday, November 13, 2009

ARTIFICIAL SNOW WREAKS HAVOC IN NORTH CHINA

CHINA'S WEATHER MANIPULATION
BRINGS CRIPPLING SNOWSTORM TO BEIJING

BEIJING (AFP) — Heavy snows in northern China wreaked havoc for the third day running on Thursday, killing at least eight people, stranding thousands of motorists and disrupting air travel, state media reported. In The People's Republic of China, it's no secret that the Party controls just about everything. When Beijing suffers through its second major snowstorm this season, it came just as a ugly surprise to residents, but the government has caused it. The purpose behind weather modification has a motive, Beijing has been mired in a drought for nearly a decade, and the party leadership would like to reverse that trend for both practical reasons and to show the Chinese people exactly who is in charge.

To do so, they've turned to cloud seeding, a controversial practice that involves launching (or dropping) chemicals into the atmosphere - silver iodide in China, though dry ice and liquid propane also work - that cause water vapor in the air to crystallize at temperatures it otherwise would not. China prefers to deliver its silver iodide to the sky via rockets or artillery. For the residents of Beijing, those armaments deliver all the headaches that go along with big snowstorms: traffic problems, flight delays, cancelled classes and various transportation issues. As of last night, highways in and around Beijing were closed and many roads were blocked, bringing day-to-day commerce to a grinding halt.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The living entity’s plight, which arises from his natural affinity for sense enjoyment, is like that of a man tirelessly pursuing a mirage he has come to cherish deeply. Such living entities who chase the objects of the senses cannot judge whether the mirage they are pursuing will actually fulfill them or merely end up deceiving them. In this world, everyone is actively furthering his own selfish motives. But the society of intellectuals should ask itself whether or not perfect happiness can in fact be found when both they who seek it and they who claim to be able to offer it are themselves unfulfilled. By seeking mutual sense gratification in this world, people only suffer misery.

Srila Bhakti Kumuda Santa Maharaja :
"The Impetus for Sense Gratification"
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBKSM/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

STUDY: DIETING CAN AFFECT MOODS AND HAPPINESS

THE TYPE OF DIET A PERSON IS ON CAN DETERMINE THEIR
MOOD AND JOYFULNESS ACCORDING TO AUSTRALIAN STUDY
SIDNEY (Reuters) - The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Association in Adelaide, Australia conducted a study on low fat versus low carb diets and found that both diets work equally well in helping the participant lose weight. However, those on the low carb diet suffered negative mood swings, according to CNN Health. The study involved 106 overweight participants who were looking to lose weight. They were randomly assigned either a low far or a low carb diet plan to follow. Initially, the results seemed similar; eight weeks into the experiment, all dieters reported significant increases in their feelings of happiness. The results of this study are very interesting as many people don’t consider emotional side effects of diets when taking them on. The real difference came one year later when the researchers followed up with those in the study.

Only those who were on the low fat plan retained were still seeing an improvement in their moods while those on the low carb plan had the opposite happen and their moods deteriorated as time went on. Everyone’s biological make up is different and people should use the diet or health plan that works best for them and their specific needs. Virtually cutting out whole groups of food like carbohydrates or fat may be good for a quick fix to drop a few pounds but it’s not possible for most people to keep that up long term. Weight loss should be looked at as a lifestyle change; people should focus on just trying to eat healthy and exercise, that will produce the best long term results.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Whatever you do, whether in dress or in food, you are to act according to what is sanctioned by Him – following in His footsteps. We shall always perform everything in that consciousness – in God consciousness or Krsna consciousness. God is Beauty and He is the Autocrat. Whatever our engagement, we shall perform with the help of Krsna consciousness in our heart and divine help will come to us beyond our wildest expectations. … We shall do according to His will, the will of the autocrat, Sri Krsna. This is the sum and substance. We are to go on with Krsna Consciousness following at every step in this way. We are to go on eating, sleeping and doing all our duties, but always in the association of Krsna. Whatever we do must be done in Krsna consciousness, otherwise all activities are futile.
Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja:
“Beauty is the Autocrat, Sweetness is the Autocrat, Love is the Autocrat".
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBRSM

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BOLIVIA CELEBRATED DAY OF THE SKULLS

THE DAY OF THE SKULLS IS A COLOURFUL COLLISION OF
PRE-INCA RITUALS FOR DEATH WITH CATHOLIC BELIEF
LA PAZ (CNN - AFP) - Bolivia's Catholic church has called on the faithful to stop using human skulls at special Mass celebrations, a practice they link to occult powers. The Bolivian Episcopal Conference asked the overwhelmingly Catholic nation to cast aside the growing trend of seeking protection from bad luck by making offerings of coca, cigars or drinks to human crania. As much of the world celebrated Halloween and Mexico held its Day of the Dead at the weekend, Bolivian bishops had another festival on their minds, the Day of Skulls. This Día de los Ñatitas reaches its high point each year in early November - just a week after the Catholic All Saints Day, and this year it has fallen on November 8.

Known locally as Ñatitas, the festival, which is believed to be pre-Colombian; the "ñatitas" - or "flat noses" in the local Aymara indigenous language - are human skulls that are revered by thousands of Catholic indigenous Bolivians who believe they protect them from evil, help them attain goals and even work miracles. All of the "ñatitas" have names - but they do not necessarily correspond to those of the people they originally belonged to, because these skulls - which are not necessarily from relatives or loved-ones - are sometimes exhumed and sometimes passed from hand to hand. They spend most of their time indoors but are paraded in the city's main public cemetery every year at this time. The rite is now a blend of Catholic and indigenous beliefs, but has its roots in ancient rituals for the death practised by the country's Indian groups such as the pre-Inca Aymara and Quechua, but the Roman Catholic Church does not feel comfortable with such a collision of beliefs. La Paz's Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor warned that many of the skulls in fact belonged to unknown people, obtained by grave robbing and later conserved, donated or even sold. Archbishop Abastaflor urged practitioners of the Andean ritual to let the dead rest in peace.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
yajante sāttvikā devān / yaksha-rakshāmsi rājasāh
pretān bhūta-ganāmś cānye / yajante tāmasā janāh

Men in the mode of goodness worship the demigods; those in the mode of passion worship the demons; and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits.
"Bhagavad-gītā As It Is : 17.4"


... and those who are in the mode of ignorance, in darkness, worship dead spirits. Sometimes people worship at the tomb of some dead man. Sexual service is also considered to be in the mode of darkness. Similarly, in remote villages in India there are worshipers of ghosts. We have seen that in India the lower-class people sometimes go to the forest, and if they have knowledge that a ghost lives in a tree, they worship that tree and offer sacrifices. These different kinds of worship are not actually God worship. God worship is for persons who are transcendentally situated in pure goodness.


"Bhagavad-gītā As It Is
- Purport in Chapter 17 - Verse 4"