Wednesday, June 30, 2010


AS THEY JOIN GARMENT WORKERS' STRIKES - Police in Bangladesh using bamboo staves, teargas and water cannon fought with textile workers demanding back pay and an immediate rise in monthly wages on the streets of Dhaka today. Witnesses said at least 30 people, mainly workers producing garments for global brands, were injured. Pictures showed children apparently being beaten. Ten policemen were also hurt. Although there has been violence for several weeks, today saw workers erecting barricades, pelting police with stones and attacking cars. Police described the fighting as the worst yet seen. Children under the age of 14 are banned by law from working, but campaigners say many can still be found in the sprawling factories. Hundreds of teenagers took part in running battles with police today. Many of the rioting workers are employed by plants which make ready-to-wear garments for sale in western high street stores.

An estimated three million workers, mostly women, are employed in the Bangladeshi garments industry. The lower paid workers earn a minimum monthly salary of 1,660 taka, equivalent to less than £18. They have demanded an increase to 5,000 taka. Low levels of unionisation and organisation have meant protests that are chaotic but difficult for the police to predict or break up. Raids by protesters on well-known factories are frequent occurrences. Owners have hired their own gangs to protect their production lines. Dozens of people were hurt in several days of unrest last week in the Ashulia industrial zone, 20 miles outside Dhaka, where nearly 300 textile factories were closed temporarily. Workers said that their employers had imposed lock-outs in an attempt to break their strike. The Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association expressed that the violent protests have created "panic and anarchy". Factory owners argue that the unrest risks frightening away western clients who need reliable deliveries.

A global report from the International Trade Union Confederation in Vienna said Bangladeshi garment workers were the "world's most poorly paid" and that their exploitation was "on the rise". Factory owners do not pay overtime and take advantage of the workers who go through much suffering without any hope of changing their way of life.

At the present moment human society is overly influenced by the mode of passion, and consequently people are engaged in working in big factories. They forget how distressful it is to live in such places. In Bhagavad-gītā such activities are described as ugra-karma, that is, distressful activities. Those who utilize the energies of the worker are called capitalists, and those who actually perform the work are called laborers. In actuality they are both capitalists, and the workers are in the modes of passion and ignorance. The result is that there is always a distressful situation. In contrast to these men are those influenced by the mode of goodness - the karmīs and jñānīs. ... In this way all classes of living entities in various species of life are existing within this material world.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam”
Purport in Canto 4 - Chapter 29 - Verse 28.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010



HealthDay News - American teenage girls may be more receptive to using alcohol and taking drugs than in years past, a new report says. Girls appear more inclined than ever to reach for drugs and booze to help them emotionally, according to a survey by the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug Free America. For example, the 2009 survey of high school students found 53 percent of girls agreeing with the notion that drugs “help you forget your troubles,” up from 48 percent in 2008. The survey, which examines changes in substance use and attitudes, found the use of alcohol and marijuana jumped considerably more among girls than boys between 2008-2009. Also, fewer teen girls than a year earlier frowned on illegal drug use by their friends, and fewer considered the “party” drug ecstasy addictive, the study found. According to the research, use of alcohol by girls increased 11 percent but not significantly among boys. Among the nearly 3,300 teens from private, public and parochial high schools included in the survey, 81 percent of girls reported seeing drugs as a way to handle school stress, versus 75 percent of boys.

Only 33 percent of teen girls said they don't want to hang around drug users - a drop from 38 percent in 2008. Steve Pasierb, the Partnership's president and CEO, believes that drug use is rising, in part, because schools have fallen down on drug education as a result of budget cuts and a focus on testing. Also, he said parents have not been keeping up with shifts in teens' attitudes. To head off drug abuse, parents need to foster an “open relationship with their kids, to talk with them and find out what they're doing” because kids whose parents talk to them about drug use are more likely to resist it, said Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse at Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Today's teen drug abusers are not just the slacker teens, but also the university students. Drug use now stems more from a pursuit of life-management strategies rather than the rebelliousness of the past. Instead of intoxicating to overcome the stress at school, they should adopt the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra to purify their lives.

Millions of people all over the world have experienced the purifying potency of the Holy Names of God. During the period of the counterculture in the US in 1960s and 1970s, Srila Prabhupada propagated the congregational chanting of the Holy Names and saved thousands of young people from a condemned life of drug addiction. All over the globe ISKCON devotees who practice mantra meditation - chanting of the maha mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare - everyday for two hours are easily able to eschew intoxication (of all forms), gambling, meat-eating and illicit sex, which are the primary self-destructive activities impelled by lust.

Śrīpad Caitanya Caran das (BE E&TC) :
“The Tragedy of Self-Destruction”
“The Spiritual Scientist” - Vol. 1 Issue 16.
Bhaktivedanta Academy for Culture and Education (BACE), Pune

Monday, June 28, 2010


Paris, France (ESA) - These days, Earth and Venus seem completely different. Earth is a lush, clement world teeming with life, whilst Venus is hellish, its surface roasting at temperatures higher than those of a kitchen oven. But underneath it all the two planets share a number of striking similarities. They are nearly identical in size and now, thanks to ESA's Venus Express orbiter, planetary scientists are seeing other similarities too. If Venus once had oceans, it may even have begun its existence as a habitable planet similar to Earth. “The basic composition of Venus and Earth is very similar, ” says Hakan Svedhem, ESA Venus Express Project Scientist. Just how similar planetary scientists from around the world will be discussing in Aussois, France, where they are gathering this week for a conference. One difference stands out: Venus has very little water. However, billions of years ago, Venus probably had much more water.

Venus Express has certainly confirmed that the planet has lost a large quantity of water into space. It happens because ultraviolet radiation from the Sun streams into Venus' atmosphere and breaks up the water molecules into atoms: two hydrogens and one oxygen. These then escape to space. Venus Express has measured the rate of this escape and confirmed that roughly twice as much hydrogen is escaping as oxygen. It is therefore believed that water is the source of these escaping ions. “Everything points to there being large amounts of water on Venus in the past, ” says Colin Wilson, Oxford University, UK. However, not all scientists agree with this opinion; for example, Eric Chassefiere, Universite Paris-Sud, France, has developed a computer model that suggests the water was largely atmospheric and existed only during the very earliest times, when the surface of the planet was completely molten. In other words: there were no oceans in Venus, according to this researcher.

Some scientists think there was no enough water to sustain life; others think there was a lot of it. Both groups of researchers have complete confidence in the data provided by Venus Express. Why don't they trust in the Vedic knowledge? According to it, life is everywhere and each planetary system is composed of a different sound uttered by Lord Brahma.

When four-headed Brahma creates the universe, the seed ingredient is sound: “OM”. And from that “Om” the Gayatri mantra is born: In this sound, the fourteen planetary galaxies sprout like whorls of spiraling stars and planets, with the sun situated in the very center of the universe. ... Each galaxy provides the infinite jivas with their particular spheres of karma (action), dhama (religion), artha (economic development), kama (sensual enjoyment and its resultant suffering), and moksa (facility of liberation). ... Lord Brahma utters a different sound for each planetary system and his engineer, Sri Visvakarma creates the planets according to those sounds. ... In our planet, the predominating elements are earth and water. In other worlds, only water is found. On the sun, fire is the prominent element.

Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“The Descent of the Holy Name”
“A Gaudiya Vaisnava Perspective”
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library

Sunday, June 27, 2010


ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan and India go a step closer as both countries agreed that terrorism is the dominant issue in the region. The conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held in Pakistan's capital Islamabad issued a joint declaration on Saturday revealing that the member countries, especially Pakistan and India, agreed over cooperation against terrorism. In the joint declaration the South Asian countries vowed that none of the member country's soil should be used against other state. India pressed Pakistan to put more suspects on trial for alleged links to the 2008 Mumbai attacks in a sign of persistent tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals, who are trying to resume peace talks. But in an indication that relations might be beginning to thaw, the two countries ended the day by vowing to work together to bring those who planned the assault to justice.

Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said he had raised the issue with Pakistan's interior minister during meetings of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Islamabad. “We must ensure that terrorists have no free run either in Pakistan or India, and both countries must work together,” he said. Chidambaram did not say whom New Delhi wants to see prosecuted in Pakistan, but Indian authorities had earlier pointed to hard-line cleric Hafiz Sayeed. Sayeed is a founder of Lashkar-i-Taiba, a banned Pakistani militant group blamed in the attacks that killed 166 people in India's financial capital. Pakistan has arrested at least seven other people in connection with the attacks, but its courts have ruled that there is not enough evidence to detain Sayeed. In a sign of the cooperation the rivals committed to Saturday, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said his country had received additional information from India about the attacks.

These two countries are at odds due to longstanding problems and their four wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999. The dialogue was suspended after Mumbai attacks. It is necessary to achieve universal brotherhood and fraternity based on Spiritual Understanding. Otherwise, all the political speeches are just words that sound pretty good.

Where is peace? The United Nations Organisation (UNO) has taken responsibility for our welfare, but has it brought any peace to the world? When everything is driven by politics, can we ever hope to gain anything? The world today is divided into two camps, each willing to help anyone who submits to it. When such politics prevail, how can we ever offer the real recipe for peace? We will be unable to find it. ... We can never attain it simply by shouting, in various assemblies, “Peace! Peace!” However, our sanātana-risis, or great sages on the path of sanātana-dharma, have given us a clue by which we may attain peace: if we love Bhagavān, the Supreme Controller, and place our faith in Him, all human beings will come to see themselves as part of a single race.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Mahārāja :
“Sanātana-dharma: The Solution to World Conflict”
“The Secret to World Unity and Peace”
Śrī Meghalaya Gaudīya Matha, Tura, India - Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library

Saturday, June 26, 2010


WORLD CELEBRATES DAY AGAINST DRUG - This Saturday, 26 June, the world commemorates the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, instituted by the United Nations with aim of helping and sensitizing people to be conscious about the harmful effects of using drugs. In today’s world a great deal of youths are in danger due to the abuse of drugs and their illicit traffic, often caused by people who do not care about the harm they cause on others, thinking only about getting rich. On a message in the ambit of this date, which is being commemorated under the motto “Think about Health Not Drugs”, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, recognizes that the abuse and traffic of drugs represent a serious obstacle to human development. Ban Ki-Moon writes that the illicit trade of drugs also threatens governance, institutions and social cohesion. On the other hand, he continues, drugs related criminality increases the vulnerability to instability and poverty. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), in the world, about 200 million people use illegal drugs, which represent 4.7 per cent of the world’s inhabitants aged over 14.

The WHO says that these figures are quite alarming, but the effects of drugs use go beyond the harm on users, causing incalculable damages to society. For this reason, the UN Secretary-General calls on all states to be part of the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. He said that drug abuse poses significant health challenges and most popular means using Injecting drug is a leading cause of the spread of HIV-AIDS, while in some parts of the world, heroin is be used as a drug means and HIV have reached epidemic proportions. Moon added that drug control including prevention and measures to reduce the harmful effects of drug use, is therefore an important part of the battle to combat HIV/AIDS.

The UN wants to break this vicious circle, but in many places, the number of consumers has increased in recent years. Some factors that contribute to drug use are: accessibility, the influence of peer groups, poor family communication, problems of adolescence and what is worse, misinformation about the serious spiritual consequences of drug use.

Once located in the body, the living entity is affected by one of the modes of material nature and he is caught or conditioned. The influences of these modes are: (1) A person in the mode of goodness is happy because their development in knowledge and purity, due to the fact he is more or less free from sinful reactions. (2) A person whose existence is in the form of passion, is subject to feel attachments, unlimited desires and longings. (3) And when the soul becomes conditioned by the mode of ignorance, he can not understand the why of things happen, neither perceive something at all in proper perspective. Usually this person is addicted to drugs or drink and sleep more than necessary. He is covered by inertia, by the illusion, folly and madness ... so, instead of progressing this person is going to degrade.

Gangamata Goswamini dasi
“Studying The Bhagavad Gita”
“Thre Three Modes of Material Nature”

Friday, June 25, 2010


AND WEAKEN YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSE - Botox injections may do more than smooth your wrinkles and limit your facial expressions. These popular injections may also dampen your ability to feel emotions. The study findings appear in the journal Emotions. Botox injections were the No. 1 nonsurgical cosmetic procedure performed in 2009, according to statistics by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “For at least some emotions, if you take away some part of the facial expression, you take away some of the emotional experience,” says study researcher Joshua Ian Davis, PhD, a term assistant professor in the department of psychology at Barnard College in New York City. “Whether this is a benefit or a detriment depends on your goals,” he says. Botox injections smooth wrinkles by paralyzing the underlying muscles that cause the wrinkles.

A side effect of the popular cosmetic injection is frozen muscles, meaning the face doesn’t as readily display emotion. But scientists have long thought it also works the other way, in other words, that facial expressions can also influence the brain about how we feel. “It’s like a continuous feedback loop,” explains Davis. In the new study, participants who received Botox injections self-reported less emotional response to some emotional video clips, and as a result, did not feel their emotions quite as deeply as their counterparts who received treatment with a wrinkle filler called Restylane, which does not paralyze muscles. Instead, Restylane restores volume to facial folds and wrinkles. Davis explained that “with Botox, a person can respond otherwise normally to an emotional event, e.g., a sad movie scene, but will have less movement in the facial muscles that have been injected, and therefore less feedback to the brain about such facial expressivity. It thus allows for a test of whether facial expressions and the sensory feedback from them to the brain can influence our emotions.”

The popular Botox injections that bestow beauty on you may actually rob you of your emotions. This new study reveals that this muscle-paralyzing treatment to smooth your wrinkles, may also deprive your face of its ability to show sentiment and reduce your ability to feel emotions. People live a life of shallowness and they ignore what is the true beauty.

The concept of beauty in the world clearly refers to the physical and it is consistent with an aesthetic which is product of a mind that tends only to the enjoyment. … What do we know about beauty? When beauty is separated from the Divine Being, the source and Creator, is temporary. Herein lays the problem. Even Miss Universe will look like a raisin when the old age arrives, and no one will remember what she was like in his youth. ... We can not know anything about the true beauty without a connection with the Divine, nor satisfy our hearts with the appearances of the body. We discover a deep beauty in people when we see with the eyes of the heart. By contrast, if the eyes of lust are the means to value someone, then the opinion will depend on the mere satisfaction of the senses. How small is this concept of beauty, and how cruel!

Śrīla Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti Mahārāja :
“The True Beauty” - “Vedic Wisdom Collection”

Thursday, June 24, 2010


STUDENT IMAGING PROGRAM FOUND A “NEW PIT” - A group of seventh-graders in California has discovered a mysterious cave on Mars as part of a research project to study images taken by a NASA spacecraft orbiting the red planet. The 16 students from teacher Dennis Mitchell's 7th-grade science class at Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, Calif., found what looks to be a Martian skylight - a hole in the roof of a cave on Mars. “The students developed a research project focused on finding the most common locations of lava tubes on Mars,” Mitchell said. “Do they occur most often near the summit of a volcano, on its flanks, or the plains surrounding it?” The class commissioned a main photo and a backup image of Mars' Pavonis Monsvolcano, targeted on a region that hadn't been imaged up close. Both pictures were taken by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter using its Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) instrument. Both images showed lava tubes, as the students had hoped. But the backup photo provided another surprise: a small, round black spot. It was a hole on Mars leading into the buried cave, researchers said.

Glen Cushing, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist, said that "this pit is certainly new to us" and that these anomalous pit craters are like skylights - places where a small part of the roof of a cave or a lava tube had collapsed, opening the area below the surface to the sky. The caves are thought to result from volcanic activity on the red planet. At some point lava channels likely carved out caverns in the rock, and then left behind tunnel, or “lava tubes,” when the eruptions were over. They would have been covered when a solid ceiling of cooled material settled on top, and then sections of the ceiling likely collapsed at some point to form the “skylight entrances”. Scientists aren't sure what type of materials or deposits could be stored inside.

7th graders students have discovered a Martian pit while participating in a program that enables them to use the camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. Scientists say that more than one half of all stars are multiple star systems, so there are billions of things to examine through our telescopes; however, they won't see the remotest layer of this universe.

When the senses are extended by microscopes and telescopes, these instruments have more range, but are still limited to the material sphere. The telescope cannot penetrate the outermost covering of the universe; the microscope lens is composed of atoms and therefore cannot see the atom or anything smaller than the atom. Likewise, the system of mental speculation is also inefficient to perceive the spiritual elements. Mind is a material element whose density is very slight. (Bhagavad-gita VII:4) Higher abstractions are no more spiritual than hard rocks. There is a common belief that by extending the potency of the mind we can conceive of the infinite, but this process is defective. If the infinite can be confined in a limited mind, then it is not infinite. I don't even know how many hairs are on my head.

Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“The Descent of the Holy Name”
“A Gaudiya Vaisnava Perspective”
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


ABOUT SPIRITUALITY. HOW DO THEY DEFINE IT? - Youth describe spirituality with regards to positive expressions, feelings and relationships says an American study. The study revealed the results of the analysis of the differences between spirituality and religion in adolescents. Anthony James, a graduate student in the University of Missouri Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), who is undertaking the research said: “Ultimately, we want to determine the impact of spirituality on positive youth development, including self-esteem and pro-social behaviour, and if it buffers against negative or risky behaviour.” The study, was presented at the 2010 Northwestern Black Graduate Student Association Conference. “To begin that research, we first need to identify how youth define and practice spirituality.” James examined the responses of adolescents to the question, “What does it mean to be a spiritual young person?”

The answers of youth revealed the fact that they described their spiritual behaviour in terms of seven categories with regards to personal and social developments. They were categorized as: to have purpose; to have the bond of connections, including those to a higher power (typically God), people and nature; to have a foundation of well-being, including joy and fulfillment, energy and peace; to have conviction; to have self-confidence, and to have an impetus for virtue. The study found many youths who called themselves “spiritual”, but there is a disconnect between calling oneself as spiritual and defining what that entails. James said: “Although the assumption is that many people are “spiritual”, the term “spirituality” is not something that is easy to articulate and define. People have a hard time separating spirituality from religion, but the differences are important to understanding behaviour and development.”

People know very little of the spiritual and transcendental world, and they usually confuse spirituality with material joy and happiness. We have to learn knowledge about Krishna from Vaishnavas intensely dedicated, those where the Bhakti is lit in their hearts and are absorbed in the seva; everything they do is in service to Krishna and they run to serve Him.

Śrīla Prabhupada says “when a devotee is making progress in spiritual realization, his only goal is to serve the Personality of God”, if you have more desire to serve Krishna that means that you are progressing spiritually; perhaps you are not feeling any ecstasy, no pleasure, you may not feel any happiness, it does not matter, are two things really matter, that you feel more disinterest to this world and are more inclined to serve God. The enjoyment side decreases and the dedication side increases ... our school is to serve Krishna, we have come to enjoy Krishna, we are here to serve Krishna, we really have enjoyed ourselves and the external energy of Krishna, we are bored of abusing Krishna, and now we want to serve Him. ... If I want to see Krishna that is not a pure desire, if I want to serve Krishna that is a pure desire.

Śrīla Atulananda Ācārya :
“Paradharma, Duties of the Soul”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


CHANGES INSIDE THE BODY When a person gets angry it is often possible to see them physically tense up, but now researchers have found out what else is going on inside the body. The new study analyzed the biochemical reactions that occur in a person's body when they are angry, right down to the cellular level. Anger not only boosts the heart rate, makes arteries tense up and increases the production of the hormone testosterone, it actually causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to fall, the researchers report. For the study, Neus Herrero, a researcher at the University of Valencia in Spain, and colleagues made 30 men angry through the use of 50 first-person phrases known to provoke the emotion. Herrero's team measured the men's biochemical activity before and after they became upset. Interestingly, the study authors found that anger tends to stimulate the left hemisphere of the brain, the side associated with positive emotions related to closeness. Increased activity in that part of the brain generally results in a desire for closeness rather than the withdrawal triggered by negative emotions.

The positive emotions, like happiness, are usually associated to a motivation of closeness, and the negative ones, like fear and sadness, are characterized by a motivation of withdrawal. However, not all emotions behave in accordance with this connection. “The case of anger is unique because it is experienced as negative but, often, it evokes a motivation of closeness”, the expert explains. In other words, when we get angry, our asymmetric cerebral response is measured by the motivation of closeness to the stimulus that causes us to be angry and not so much by the fact we consider this stimulus as negative: “When we get angry we show a natural tendency to get closer to what made us angry to try to eliminate it”, Neus Herrero concludes.

The study reveals that anger provokes profound changes in the state of mind and in psychobiological parameters: heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone, etc. It is clear that we are tied hand and foot in this material world, and that only a Vaishnava can save us from the ever-increasing insatiable lusts, anger, covetousness, illusion and egotism.

Souls under the thralldom of Maya are the slaves of sixfold passions. Those who can effectively succeed in conquering all these six passions can master the whole world. These impulses are (1) an uncontrollable tendency for idle gossip, (2) various undesirable speculations of the wavering mind, (3) proneness to uncontrollable anger, (4) unusual desire for satisfying the tongue with delicious varieties of food, (5) longing for excessive eating, and (6) sexual appetite. These six impulses are highly detrimental to the development of devotion. Hence, with utmost patience, they are to be abandoned in the daily life of one aspiring after Bhakti. As long as the human body continues to exist till death, a sincere aspirant should make all earnest efforts to check the inimical incitements by engaging them in the service of the Lord.

Śrīla Bhakti Vaibhava Purī Mahārāj :
“Guru and Atma Nivedan”
‘Activities Favourable to Devotional Progress’
Bhakti Vigyan Nityananda Book Trust
Śrī Krishna Chaitanya Mission.