Sunday, January 31, 2010

GANDHIJI’S ASHES SCATTERED IN OCEAN

SOME OF MAHATMA GANDHI'S ASHES KEPT FOR
DECADES SCATTERED OFF SOUTH AFRICAN COAST

DURBAN (Reuters) - Some of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were scattered in the sea along South Africa’s east coast on Saturday, 62 years after his death. After his assassination on January 30, 1948, Gandhiji’s ashes were placed in several urns and distributed across India and other parts of the world. More than 200 people, including Gandhiji’s South African-born granddaughter Ela Gandhi, took part in the ceremony along the Indian Ocean coast at the city of Durban. Gandhi's 69-year-old granddaughter was helped by others during a ceremony to sprinkle the ashes of Bapu into the waters of Durban Harbour, South Africa. Flowers and candles were also placed in the water. A similar scattering of Gandhiji’s ashes took place in Mumbai in 2008. Gandhiji spent 21 years in South Africa, after first arriving as a young lawyer in 1893. This ceremony also highlightes the political ties between the two countries. Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 in New Delhi by a Hindu radical. "Today we commemorate his death anniversary and the important message of that is the intolerance that goes on in this world," said Ela Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi pioneered non-violent resistance to British rule in India and spent some of his early political years in South Africa, where he was involved in the struggle against racial discrimination and oppression.

His decades-long non-violent movement inspired leaders like Nelson Mandela who led the movement against apartheid in South Africa. U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King also looked up to Gandhi as his role model. India observes Gandhi's death anniversary as Martyrs' Day in memory of all its freedom fighters.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
When Mahaprabhu came back from Puri after five years of sannyasa, He first came here (the part of Navadwip called Kulia). At that time there was such a rush of people coming to see Mahaprabhu, from both sides of the Ganges, that the whole Ganges appeared “full of human heads”. One author has described the scene at the time of Mahaprabhu’s return to Navadwip in that way ... When I read this, at first, I thought: “Such a description must not be literal; it is a little hyperbolic”. But later, when in my own life I saw (Mahatma) Gandhi, when I experienced the crowds that used to follow him, then it came to my mind: “If Gandhi can draw so many men to see him, then what to speak of Mahaprabhu?”.

Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
Article: “Aparadha-banjana-patha”.
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBRSM/


Saturday, January 30, 2010

THE LARGEST MASS GRAVE IN COLOMBIA

COLOMBIA: FOUND A MASS GRAVE
WITH 2,000 UNIDENTIFIED BODIES
BOGOTA - The authorities of the municipality of La Macarena in Meta department complained of a pit with thousands of unidentified bodies which have been buried in the cemetery by army troops. Villagers, NGOs and international press reported this week that, behind the cemetery, there are about 2,000 unidentified bodies buried by the army. The town of La Macarena, 200 miles south of Bogota, could be the scene of one of the biggest mass graves in the history of the Colombian armed conflict, if there are 2000 confirmed dead there. A spokesman for the Attorney General in Bogota revealed that a mission of the Technical Investigation Corps of the agency, CTI, was in the cemetery and found the existence of a "large number" of bodies in the grave but it only made a few burials. According to the Colombian military spokesman, in that place there are "guerrillas killed in combat," while social organizations assert that among these dead bodies there are several leaders of human rights groups disappeared some years ago without leaving any trace. Human rights organizations claim that civilians lie buried there by the Colombian army.

These organizations claim that the bodies buried in that area are a case of so-called "false positives" or extrajudicial executions, which include murder of civilians falsely accused of being involved in subversive acts. These cases, which were denounced as state and political crimes by the political opposition and also by the social organizations, threw a large cloud of doubt on the policy of "democratic security" carried out by the Colombian president of that country. This terrible discovery has put the Colombian country in the spotlight of several international organizations of human rights. A lot of executions were registered during the Colombian armed conflict in different places of the country. So far only low-ranking soldiers were charged for these events, which come to more than 3000 cases. During the last weeks many of those army personnel, who has been involved in those violent actions against subversive groups, were released by expiration of the terms in the investigation.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
King Pariksit, in disciplining the Personification of Kali, submitted to his earnest plea and granted him five places for his residence, irreligion to flourish. These are namely gambling, liquor and all other stimulants, illicit sexual intercourse, violence (brutal killing of defenseless creatures) and gold (money used in the service of the Lord properly does not fall into this category). … Violence to living creatures leads to a temperament devoid of compassion all together. Thus all forms of irreligiousness spring up from these vices.


Śrīla Bhakti Promode Puri Mahārāja :
“Essence of Pure Devotion – Bhakti Siddhanta Sara”.
Part V – ‘Preaching and Self-Practice’.
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - http://bvml.org/SBPPG/index.htm

Friday, January 29, 2010

IRANIAN OPOSITION ACTIVISTS HANGED

TWO IRANIANS CONVICTED OF BEING "MOHAREB"
(ENEMIES OF GOD) WERE HANGED YESTERDAY
LONDON (Reuters) - Iran hanged two men convicted of being Mohareb (enemies of God), the first executions of dissidents since post-election protests, during the wake of the unrest that erupted after last year's disputed election. Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmani Pour were hanged on Thursday morning after their sentences were confirmed by a Tehran appeals court. Both were convicted of being "Mohareb" - enemies of God - and of trying to overthrow the "Islamic establishment". They were also convicted of belonging to armed opposition groups. Iran has tried more than 100 political activists and protesters since August. The opposition says that President Ahmadinejad only won because of massive electoral fraud. Hundreds of thousands have poured into the streets in Iran since then on various occasions to support Mr Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to the news, Rahmani Pour, 19, had been arrested before the election, however he was put before the same mass trial as opposition leaders and activists arrested amid the crackdown, and was hanged yesterday. The lawyer for Rahmani Pour said the charges were political and the verdict "illegal and unjust". "He was aged 19 at the time of his arrest, and he had anything to do with the post-poll riots. An execution with this speed and rush has only one explanation ... the government is trying to prevent the expansion of the opposition movement through the spread of fear and intimidation," the lawyer said.

The United States strongly condemned the hangings. The White House has condemned Iran for executing two men accused of involvement in an armed anti-government group. "We see this as a low point in the Islamic Republic's unjust and ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent. Murdering political prisoners exercising their universal rights will not bring the respect and legitimacy that Iran seeks," White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters on Thursday.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Recently newspapers are reporting that faith in a personal God is diminishing. This means that people are becoming more and more foolish. This is natural in Kali-yuga, for as the age of Kali progresses, bodily strength, memory and mercy diminish. We actually see that the present generation is not as strong as the previous. People also have short memories. We also understand that sometimes people are killed while other people pass by, not caring. Thus mercy is also diminishing. Because everything is diminishing, God consciousness is diminishing also.


Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahūti”
“Chapter 6 - Verse 9”.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TWO KOREAS EXCHANGE SHOTS NEAR BORDER

CROSSFIRE BETWEEN THE TWO KOREAS
TENSIONS FLARE IN WATERS LONG DISPUTED
WASHINGTON (AP) - North Korea raised the stakes Wednesday in the fight-talk contest for advantage in negotiations with live-fire artillery exercises that once again put tensions on edge between the two Koreas. Yesterday, North Korea fired artillery rounds towards its disputed sea border, which prompted a barrage of warning shots from the South's military and increasing tensions on the divided peninsula. The Washington Times reports that, "no casualties or damages were reported, and analysts said the volley - which the North announced was part of a military drill - was likely move by Pyongyang to highlight the need for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War." From its western coast, North Korea fired approximately 30 artillery rounds, and immediately, the South responded with 100 shots from a marine business on the island near the sea border, as claimed by an officer at the Joint Chiefs' of Staff in Seoul. North Korea earlier declared the area a no-sail zone, telling ships to stay away during test-firing, and explained that it would continue to fire rounds. The officer said that the North's artillery fire landed in it's own waters while the south fired into the air. Later Wednesday, North Korea issued a statement claiming it had fired artillery off its coast as part of an annual military drill and insists that it would continue to do so in the future. According to the Washington Times, "the western sea border - drawn by the American-led U.N. Command at the close of the 1950-53 Korean War - is a constant source of tension between the two Koreas, with the North insisting the line be moved further south."

On the other hand, the United States criticized North Korea as "provocative" and urged restraint after it fired artillery shells near its disputed maritime border with South Korea. "Although this is a bilateral issue between the North and the South, we clearly are discouraging of any further acts of aggression which would in any way increase the tensions along this historically disputed boundary area," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told a news conference.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
This world is full of suffering due to the deluding potency maya. … So we are mourning, we take birth, we die, take birth, “punar api janamam - punar api maranam”. Again and again we take birth. Again and again we die. It is told: if we surrender to the Supreme Lord Krishna, he is the Supreme Lord, and we surrender to him, then he will save us from suffering. He will save us. And how to surrender? Surrender is easy: “Oh Lord. You are the master of the universe. You are the creator of this universe. You are the protector of this universe. You are the savior of the universe.”.


Śrīla Bhakti Vaibhava Purī Mahārāj:
“Lecture in Novo Mesto, Slovenia 26.6.1999”
Śrī Krishna Chaitanya Mission.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TOURISTS STRANDED IN PERU MUDSLIDES

MUDSLIDES STRAND MACHU PICCHU TOURISTS
HUNDREDS TRAPPED AROUND INCA RUINS, 7 DEAD
LIMA (Reuters) - A mudslide on the famed Inca trail to Machu Picchu killed tourists as authorities evacuated dozens of tourists by helicopter from a flood zone where nearly 2,000 more were still stranded. Peru scrambled helicopters to evacuate some 2,000 tourists stranded in the Andes on Tuesday after torrential rains and mudslides killed 7 people and cut off access to Peru's ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Tourists became trapped at the World Heritage site in the jungle in eastern Peru after the heaviest rains in the area in 15 years flooded the zone over the weekend. The deaths raised to seven the number of people killed by heavy rains that have caused floods and landslides and collapsed homes. An Argentine tourist and a Peruvian guide were killed along the trail in separate mudslides, the government said, while two other deaths were reported over the weekend. The fifth person was killed when a hillside collapsed, and two more when their house collapsed. Authorities closed the Inca trail, a popular tourist trek that follows a stone path built by the ancient civilization from their capital, Cuzco, to the Machu Picchu citadel.

Machu Picchu, which was built in the mid-15th century and lies some 680 miles (1,100 km) southeast of Lima, is Peru's top tourist destination. Roughly a million people visit the site, which sits around 7,874 feet (2,400 metres) above sea-level, each year. The government declared a state of emergency and the company that runs trains between the Inca ruins and the nearby city of Cusco suspended services. Aside from the train, the only way to reach the ancient Incan site is to trek some 28 miles (45 km) through the mountains, a trip that takes on average 3 to 4 days. Authorities have evacuated hundreds of tourists by helicopter from the flood zone, and the airlifting operations are still performed today.


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The way of devotional service is neither sentimental nor mundane. It is the path of reality by which the living entity can attain the transcendental happiness of being freed from the three kinds of material miseries - miseries arising from the body and mind, from other living entities and from natural disturbances. ... His happiness is nothing but a hard struggle to get free from the miseries of conditional life. But there is only one way he can be rescued, and that is by accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam”
Purport in Canto 3 - Chapter 5 - Verse 40.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PLANE CRASHED INTO THE SEA: NO SURVIVORS

BEIRUT: 90 DEAD AS ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES JET
PLUNGES INTO MEDITERRANEAN OFF LEBANON
BEIRUT (AP) - All 90 passengers aboard an Ethiopian plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea are feared dead, with more than twenty dead bodies recovered so far. Officials with the rescue operation said that by Monday morning 23 corpses were recovered from the crash site, the state-run Lebanese National News Agency reported. The Boeing 737-800 which was en route to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, nose-dived into the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, just minutes after take-off from Beirut International Airport. Witnesses who live near Beirut's southern coast have reported seeing a ball of fire as the airliner plunged into the sea. Most of the 83 passengers aboard were Lebanese and Ethiopian nationals. The flight also had seven crew members. The cause of the crash remains unclear; however, Lebanon's president Michel Sleiman has ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack. "We don't believe that there is any indication for sabotage or foul play," Sleiman said. It appears that the stormy weather and technical problems combined with a fuel overload have triggered fire on the plane leading to its eventual crash, aviation sources told Press TV.

Rescue efforts are still ongoing in the southern coast of Beirut as helicopters and rescue ships surround the crash scene in search for survivors. Beirut has so far requested for help from the Lebanese navy and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced a day of mourning for the victims of the crash, ordering all government departments to close, the news agency added. He also praised security forces and the Red Cross for their efforts, while urging patience until the recovery of the jetliner's black box.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The living entity has been covered by illusion for a long time and have been suffering countless miseries but by receiving the mercy of the pure devotees, he takes to the devotional service of the Lord which frees him from the effects of the illusory energy. Seeing the bewilderment of the living entity, the compassionate Lord reveals the scriptures. Consequently, by this utility of scripture with the help of the external spiritual master and internal 'caitya-guru' (the Supreme Lord in the heart), he uncovers his real spiritual identity. This according to stages is the process of knowledge to Sri Krishna (sambandha), the devotional practice which is abhideya and finally devotion to the Supreme Lord.

Śrīla Bhakti Promode Puri Mahārāja :
“Essence of Pure Devotion”
Part VIII - ‘Yoga Maya and Maha Maya’
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - http://bvml.org/SBPPG/index.htm

Monday, January 25, 2010

ANTI-CHAVEZ CABLE STATIONS TAKEN OFF AIR

CHAVEZ FORCED OFF AIR MAIN OPPOSITION
TV STATION, RCTV, AND FIVE OTHER NETWORKS
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela’s telecommunications regulator ordered cable television providers to stop carrying Radio Caracas Television, the network whose broadcast rights President Hugo Chavez revoked in 2007, for allegedly violating rules including not televising the president’s speeches. Cable networks halted RCTV Internacional after the government said the station was not following broadcast regulations. The main opposition TV station in Venezuela along with five others were taken off the air early on Sunday for violating rules issued by President Hugo Chavez’s government. The new rules require stations to air Chavez’s speeches, among other mandates. The government last night called on cable providers to pull networks off the air that haven’t registered with the regulator and whose media classification has been changed to national from international. International networks, whose programming must be 70 percent foreign, don’t have to follow rules such as broadcasting Chavez’s speeches. The left-wing leader Chavez revoked the broadcast rights of RCTV, as the network is known, which supported demonstrations that led to a 2002 coup attempt. In addition to RCTV, the dropped channels include Ritmo Son, Momentum, America TV, American Network and TV Chile networks.

According to the RCTV authorities, Chavez wants to silence the voice of protest of the Venezuelan people in the face of the failure of his government's administration. President Chavez faces growing criticism over shortages of power and water and a sharp currency devaluation this month that could accelerate the country's soaring inflation. Residents of Caracas banged pots and pans at midnight to protest the measure, some of them held placards that read ''Chavez, you are striked out'' during a rally in the Venezuelan capital.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
When a Vaishnava king like Dhruva Mahārāja is the head of the government of the entire world, the world is so happy that it is not possible to imagine or describe. ... The youthful generation of the present day is very enthusiastic in trying to overthrow the government in different parts of the world. But unless people are Krishna conscious like Dhruva Mahārāja, there will be no appreciable changes in government because people who hanker to attain political position by hook or by crook cannot think of the welfare of the people. They are only busy to keep their position of prestige and monetary gain. They have very little time to think of the welfare of the citizens.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam”
Purport in Canto 9 - Chapter 9 - Verse 66.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

EXCESSIVE COLA DRIKNS CARRIES MUSCLE PROBLEMS

LOW POTASSIUM LEVELS BY DRINKING TOO MUCH COLA
A DAY INCREASE MUSCULAR WEAKNESS, WARN DOCTORS
NEW YORK (ScienceDaily) - Doctors have issued a warning about excessive cola consumption after noticing an increase in the number of patients suffering from muscle problems, according to the June issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice. “We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before and a number of health issues have already been identified including tooth problems, bone demineralisation and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes” says Dr Moses Elisaf from Greece. A research review carried out by Dr Elisaf and his colleagues has shown that symptoms can range from mild weakness to profound paralysis. “Evidence is increasing to suggest that excessive cola consumption can also lead to hypokalaemia, in which the blood potassium levels fall, causing an adverse effect on vital muscle functions.” It appears that hypokalaemia can be caused by excessive consumption of three of the most common ingredients in cola drinks – glucose, fructose and caffeine. On the other hand, caffeine free cola products can also cause hypokalaemia because the fructose they contain can cause diarrhoea.” In addition, excessive consumption of any kind of cola can lead to a range of health problems including fatigue, loss of productivity and muscular symptoms that vary from mild weakness to profound paralysis. Luckily all the patients studied made a rapid and full recovery after they stopped drinking cola and took oral or intravenous potassium.

In a commentary on the paper, Dr Clifford Packer from the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Centre in Ohio explains, “Cola drinks need to be added to the physician’s checklist of drugs and substances that can cause hypokalaemia.” “And the soft drink industry needs to promote safe and moderate use of its products for all age groups, reduce serving sizes and pay heed to the rising call for healthier drinks.”, says Dr Packer.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
“To improve the quality of your spiritual life, you should also avoid the use of intoxicants - drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, as well as soft drinks, coffee, and tea if they contain caffeine. Using these substances unnecessarily clouds the mind, which is already clouded with all kinds of material concepts of life.

LASSI: 3 parts youghurt to 1 part water; dry roasted cumin seed or sugar; black pepper; salt. Mix the yoghurt and water. For each 4 cups of yoghurt and water add ½ t. salt, ¼ t. black pepper and 1 t. roasted cumin seed. Mix well. Lassi can also be prepared by mixing yoghurt and water and adding 1/3 cup sugar for each 2 cups lassi.



“The Higher Taste” - “The Hare Krishna Cook Book”
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

Saturday, January 23, 2010

LIFE MIRACLES IN THE MIDST OF DEATH

INTERNATIONAL SEARCH TEAMS RESCUE MANY
ENTOMBED ALIVE UNDER RUBBLE A WHOLE WEEK
PORT-AU-PRINCE - The United Nations said that 132 people had been rescued from the debris of collapsed buildings in Haiti since the January 12 earthquake. Survivors were pulled from the rubble by international search teams, and many were really miraculous rescues. A 5-year-old boy was pulled alive from his collapsed Port-au-Prince home Wednesday, eight days after the 7-magnitude Haiti earthquake. His mother was killed in the disaster and his father is missing. Doctors attributed his survival to the resilience and strength of his young body. Colombian and French aid workers rescued a 22-day- old baby-girl, after she spent a week in the rubble of the devastating quake in Haiti, the Bogota Fire Department said Wednesday. He had been trapped under debris since the earthquake in Haiti during seven days. The firefighters from Bogota have been working for three days to save the child from the Haitian city of Jacmel. The survival of the 11-year-old, dug from the wreckage of her family’s home by neighbours, “truly is a miracle”, said doctors at a clinic run by French charities, adding that she “came back to life bit by bit”. Hoteline Losana, 25, was trapped in earthquake 'coffin', but it was not the end for her, because of an indomitable will to live, she was rescued after eight days. She sang quietly when at last rescuers lifted her to safety, then sang again with extraordinary force as they lowered her towards the cheering crowd. As she went over the edge, Ms Losana filled her lungs and sang loudly enough for those below to hear over the generators. She was still singing at the bottom. “It is a song of God,” one of the crowd said.

Yesterday, an 84-year-old Haitian woman has been pulled alive from the rubble of her Port-au-Prince home, 10 days after she was buried by the earthquake that devastated the capital and surrounding areas. Emergency workers say the woman, identified as Marie Carida Romain, was rescued from the ruins of her home. She was being treated at a local hospital and it was not clear whether she would survive. Today hopes of finding survivors have faded, so Haiti's government has made the "heartbreaking" decision to declare the search and rescue phase for survivors of the earthquake over.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
With regard to loving other people in the material world, this is inherent in loving Krishna. There is no meaning to Krishna consciousness that does not include within it a deep sense of love for humanity. Thākura Bhaktivinoda says it like this, “jīve dayā krsna nāma sarva dharma sāra,” and furthermore in his Tattva-sutra, “Those who think that devotion to God and kindness to others are mutually exclusive and conduct their life accordingly will not be able to properly cultivate devotional life. They are involved in only a semblance of real devotion.” In Krishna consciousness our capacity to actually love others is realized, not only some but all others, and not only for some time but forever.

Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“Fundamentalism and Unhealthy Dependence”
Śrī Caitanya Sanga - Vol. IV, No. 22 - Sept. 15, 2002
http://www.swami.org/pages/sanga/


Friday, January 22, 2010

20,000 DISPLACED IN NIGERIAN RELIGIOUS CLASHES

CURFEW EASED ON JOS CITY AFTER RELIGIOUS
CLASHES WHICH LEAVES HUNDREDS DEAD
JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian authorities have eased up on a 24-hour curfew in the city of Jos. Relative calm has been restored to the city after days of fighting between Muslims and Christians left hundreds dead, according to reports. The violence began on Sunday and spread to neighboring towns. Jos is no stranger to religious warfare and violence. Since Thursday's melee began both Christian and Muslim mobs torched and looted homes, churches, mosques and businesses. Nigerian officials sent in the army to help quell the violence. And at the onset of the violence the governor of Plateau State where Jos is the capital instituted a 24 hour curfew. Muslim-Christian clashes in Nigeria’s central city of Jos have displaced near 20,000 people in three days and caused water and food shortages in the city. Food, water and medicine supplies have been running low in the city amid a round-the-clock curfew authorities imposed Tuesday after Christian and Muslim gangs fought pitched street battles, leaving around 300 people dead. At one mosque alone, more than 200 bodies have been left for burial, while dozens of others have been taken to churches.

Fighting between the groups of youths began last weekend and quickly escalated into a massacre. Over 200 people were arrested during the crackdown on the clashes. It is unclear what sparked the clashes, which also forced around 18,000 people to flee their homes. The city of Jos lies in Nigeria's Middle Belt where the mainly Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south and has been a flashpoint for Nigeria's religious differences for the past decade. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates 18,000 people fled the violence during the days of fighting. They also report the army's presence was a strong factor in ending the violence. It remains unclear the exact number of casualties, but religious officials count the dead in the hundreds. Some of those injured and arrested reportedly had gunshot wounds, machete cuts and broken bones.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Conceptions of “your religion” and “my religion” are completely absent from bhāgavata-dharma. Bhāgavata-dharma means following the orders given by the Supreme Lord, Bhagavān, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam śaranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. God is one, and God is for everyone. Therefore everyone must surrender to God. That is the pure conception of religion. Whatever God orders constitutes religion (dharmam tu sākshād bhagavat-pranītam [SB 6.3.19]). In bhāgavata-dharma there is no question of “what you believe” and “what I believe.” Everyone must believe in the Supreme Lord and carry out His orders. That is dharma, religion.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam”
Purport in Canto 6 - Chapter 16 - Verse 41.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

STRONG AFTERSHOCK ADDS CHAOS IN HAITI

NEW QUAKE SPARKS TERROR IN PORT-AU-PRINCE
CREATING FEARS AMID SURVIVORS FOR MORE ORPHANS
PORT-AU-PRINCE (The Guardian) - A new earthquake jolted Port-au-Prince today, sending people fleeing on to the streets and complicating relief efforts as the United States appeared poised to dispatch another 4,000 troops to Haiti. A magnitude 6.1 quake, the most powerful aftershock since the 12 January cataclysm, rattled ruins in the capital and sowed panic but caused no serious reported damage or casualties. Seismologists said the epicentre was about 35 miles south-west of the city and the focus was six miles deep. They warned of possible stronger aftershocks to come as the earth adjusted to new stresses caused by the original quake. The new tremor hit just after 6am local time and lasted for 10 seconds, sending terrified residents running into the streets. It came just after the first glimmer of optimism that conditions might improve, with the arrival of more American troops and a ramped up aid effort. There are no immediate reports of anyone being killed or wounded by the strong aftershock, but some already severely damaged buildings came tumbling down. The lone surviving wall of the main cathedral, complete with a stained-glass window of Jesus, collapsed.

But still the delivery process is painfully slow and disorganised, and the people's patience is running out. Food and water is still desperately needed in many parts of the capital and beyond. The government is encouraging people to leave the centre of the city where most of the buildings lie in ruins. Some are heeding that call, but many more in the city and the outlying suburbs are waiting for life-saving aid that has yet to arrive. US Marines have secured an area in remote Haiti in the first of what is expected to be several staging positions for relief supplies. They are keeping hundreds of Haitians at bay while food and water are being offloaded. The supplies are going to the United Nations who are then distributing them through the town.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Vaisnavas are foremost merciful. They suffer when another person suffers. The people in Haiti have suffered a serious blow by the forces of nature. They live in a tropical island but so many things are tough on them. Are they more sinful then others who suffer less? I do not think so. I rather think that this degree of suffering is coming towards all of us if we keep violating the basic rules of compassion for animals, unborn children and other victims of abuse. Mother Nature shows that we are not doing things in a correct way. Today Haiti tomorrow some other place. World-wars, corruption and torture of animals for sport. Is there a connection? In a practical way Vaisnavas always try to extend their hands of help to the needy.

Śrīla Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti Mahārāja :
Comment posted on January 19, 2010 at

http://vedicviews-worldnews.blogspot.com/2010/01/

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

HAITI: PROTESTANT PASTOR MADE HARMFUL REMARKS

TELEVISION EVANGELIST SUGGESTS HAITI'S QUAKE IS
THE WRATH OF GOD DUE AN OLD ‘PACT WITH THE DEVIL'

Whashington (AP) - While campaigning for donations on television after the disastrous earthquakes that ended the lives of tens of thousands of people in Haiti, we feel frustration because relief efforts are too slow and that we personally can do so little to relieve the torment of our fellow human beings. In front of the quake hit Port-au-Prince with devastating 7.0 force, taking a toll estimated in the tens of thousands of lives, we are stricken with grief at the loss of life and the persistence of suffering. These sentiments are not shared by U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson, who's convinced that the hand of God is evident in this human tragedy. This leading conservative Protestant pastor, suggested that the islanders had it coming. After the quake Robertson said, "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it." In the Robertsonian view, the Haitians are being punished for a “pact with the devil” made by their ancestors two hundred years ago. "They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another," Robertson said. Although they got independence as a result of the contract, according to Robertson, they roused the wrath of God and have now been driven into a hell on earth. In other words, to help now the victims of the Haitian disaster is to thwart the Almighty's handiwork.

The uproar over his statements is growing, so a spokesman for Christian Broadcasting Network said that "Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God's wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson's compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them." However, the issue even came up at the White House. Asked about the concept, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "It never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that could be so utterly stupid. But it like clockwork happens with some regularity."


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
The Vrndavana conception of Krishna as the Supreme Entity is the highest because beauty is above all. Absolute good is absolute beauty, and that is the absolute controller. Mercy is above justice. Generally, we cannot conceive that anything could be greater than justice; we think that justice must be the highest principle. But we are told that mercy is above justice. And who can show mercy? Not an ordinary person, but only a king. One who can compensate for the loss in justice can give mercy. Such a realm exists. And there, the Lord is engaged in pastimes with his paraphernalia of equal quality. There is such a law, a provision beyond the sense of justice in our puppy brain.

Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“Śrī Guru and His Grace”
Chapter Fourteen: ‘The Line of Sri Rupa’

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

RELIGIOUS CLASHES IN NIGERIA, DOZENS DEAD

MUSLIMS ATTACKED CHRISTIANS LAST SUNDAY
IN THE NIGERIAN CITY OF JOS, DOZENS WERE KILLED
JOS, Nigeria (AHN) - Troops and riot police are patrolling the Nigerian city of Jos, after fighting between gangs of Muslim and Christian youths in the central city. The clashes at the weekend between Christians and Muslims left at least 26 dead and more than 300 wounded, according to a local imam. During the melée, houses, mosques, and churches were set on fire. Nigerian troops are now patroling the city trying to maintain order. Officials say 35 people have been arrested. In an attempt to curb escalating violence, the local government has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew. More than 3,000 people were meanwhile sheltering in mosques, churches and police barracks after being displaced from their homes, the Red Cross said. It remains unclear what sparked the violence, but there were warnings something like this could happen. Residents reportedly told officials the violence originated after an argument over the rebuilding of homes destroyed during 2008's civil unrest. In 2008; 200 people were killed, while in 2001 civil unrest resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people. Such clashes in Nigeria are often blamed on sectarianism, however poverty and access to resources such as land often lies at the root of the violence.

Jos, capital of Plateau state and home to 500,000 people, along with other central and northern areas in Nigeria have been plagued by religious violence in recent years. Both Christians and Muslims make up half the population respectively. Traditionally the two groups have lived peacefully, however bloody conflicts and uprisings in the past have resulted over political and economic influence. Poverty and access to precious resources usually are flash points for the region's instability and clashes. The city has a history of ethnic and religious tension - at least 200 people were killed in 2008 and 1,000 in 2001. Last month, at least 40 people were killed in clashes between security forces and members of an Islamist sect in the northern Bauchi State.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
If one advocates the Hindu religion, the Muslim religion, the Christian religion, this religion or that religion, there will be conflicts. History shows that the followers of religious systems without a clear conception of God have fought with one another. There are many instances of this in human history, but systems of religion that do not concentrate upon service to the Supreme are temporary and cannot last for long because they are full of envy. There are many activities directed against such religious systems, and therefore one must give up the idea of “my belief” and “your belief.” Everyone should believe in God and surrender unto Him. That is bhāgavata-dharma.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam”

Purport in Canto 6 - Chapter 16 - Verse 41.

Monday, January 18, 2010

AMID JEWISH ANGER, POPE VISITED ROME SYNAGOGUE

CATHOLIC-JEWISH RELATIONS: POPE CONFRONTED
BY JEWISH LEADERS OVER VATICAN'S HOLOCAUST 'SILENCE'
ROME (CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI is set to take one step forward in Catholic-Jewish relations Sunday when he becomes the first pope since 1986 to visit the main Jewish synagogue in Rome, Italy. A 500-strong press corps will record Benedict's third visit to a Jewish house of worship, which comes barely four weeks after he revived controversy over Pius XII, whom many Jews accuse of inaction over the Holocaust. Before entering the synagogue, the Pope paid homage to a plaque commemorating the deportation of Italian Jews by the Nazis in Oct 1943.The visit, announced in October, appeared at risk of being cancelled amid howls of protest over the papal decree bestowing the title “venerable” on the Nazi-era pope. Pius's “silence” at a time when hundreds of thousands of Jews were being rounded up across Europe and dispatched to death camps was still hurtful, Riccardo Pacifici, the president of Rome's Jewish community, said as Pope Benedict XVI visited the city's synagogue for the first time. The criticism was one of the bluntest comments made in public by a Jewish leader to a pope. “The silence of Pius XII before the Shoah (Holocaust) still hurts because something should have been done, ... maybe it would not have stopped the death trains, but it would have sent a signal, a word of extreme comfort, of human solidarity, towards those brothers of ours transported to the ovens of Auschwitz,” he said.

The Vatican had hoped that the synagogue visit would rebuild bridges with the Jewish world, after the German-born Benedict dismayed Jews by rehabilitating a Holocaust-denying British renegade bishop a year ago, and by advancing Pius further along the path to sainthood by recognising his “heroic virtues” last month. Benedict came to the defence of his predecessor during his visit to the synagogue and insists that Pope Pius XII feared that criticising Hitler more strongly would have provoked even more severe persecution of the Jews. The visit to Rome's synagogue is part of what should be an annual Catholic Day of Dialogue With Judaism, but it didn't happen last year. The Jewish community “believes that Benedict's desire to continue dialogue is sincere and the relationship is very important”, however the Jewish leaders have said the only way to settle the issue is for the Vatican to open up its archives relating to Pius's pontificate - a request that was reiterated to Benedict.


WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Wise men have conviction that the religion of humanity cannot be many. The eternal religion of mankind cannot be divided into extremely opposing factions. At root, eternal religion must be only one. Why have many religions then arisen? The correct answer is that the religion or dharma of man is one when the soul is in a pure condition. When the soul takes on material designation and consequently different place, time and body, due to variety in matter, conditional dharma makes its appearance in different countries and at different times. Conditional dharma takes on different forms and names in different countries. When the jivas reach the unconditioned state, they have only one dharma. Sri Caitanya taught this eternal dharma to the jivas of this world; it is called pure Vaisnava dharma.

Śrīla Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thākura :
“Mahaprabhura Siksa” - Chapter 1 - ‘Dasamula-tattva’
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBTP/

Sunday, January 17, 2010

VRINDAVAN TO BE RECOGNISED WORLD HERITAGE SITE

INDIA: SACRED FOREST IN DANGER, CIVIL ALLIANCE CLAIM VRINDAVAN BE LISTED AS A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
DELHI, India - Vrindavan or Vraj in Mathura district is a town which lies in the Braj region on the site of an ancient forest which is considered a place of pilgrimage. The town is about 15 km away from Mathura, near the Agra-Delhi highway. Vrindavan hosts hundreds of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna. For the devotees Vrindavan is one of the most wonderful place in the world because of its spiritual nature as the birthplace of Lord Sri Krishna. In the last 250 years, the extensive forests of Vrindavan have been subjected to urbanization, first by local Rajas and in recent decades by apartment developers. The local wildlife, including peacocks, cows, monkeys and a variety of bird species has been eliminated or are close to it. During the last decades, this town has become famous worldwide because a large number of pilgrims and tourists visit it year after year. The expansion of Vrindavan has caused total denudation of the forests and soil, leading to near extinction of the indigenous flora and fauna. Wildlife has been severely affected by light and noise pollution. There are many foreigners residing there long-term, and many Indians purchasing holiday residences and retirement homes, plus there are weekend tourists going there to visit the five thousand temples.

So many visitors has increased air pollution and there is insufficient solid waste disposal, drinking water, among others. Pilgrims also create a demand for supporting infrastructure, such as facilities for accommodation, which causes urban expansion often at the expense of natural beauty. Local authorities are incapable of handling the additional burden of the floating population due to lack of resources. In such a situation a group of people involved in the sustainable development of Vrindavan as a sacred site, has formed a civil volunteer alliance called "The Braj-Vrindavan Heritage Alliance" to further the interests and needs of the residents and visitors of this holy place. In order to preserve the spiritual and cultural magnificence of this area in risk, the BVHAlliance wants to get Braj Mandal or at least Vrindavan listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so by the means of a petition on line -
http://www.bvhalliance.org - they are requesting the authorities, the Prime Minister and the president of India to do everything possible so that this holy place will be preserved, protected and developed, because due to the heritage it represents to India and the whole world it deserves to be recognised as a world heritage site.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Prabhupada says, “Therefore I'm recommending a general program of clean-up, preservation, and restoration. True, the beautiful temples of the Goswamis - Madana Mohana, Govindaji, especially - are crumbling due to neglect. So, we must first protect them. Then restore them to first-class condition, install deities, and conduct daily āratis.” … “This Vrindavan that just happens to appear in India is as worshipable as Krishna. So we cannot offend his dhāma, his home. If we live in Vrindavan, we are living with Krishna, because Vrindavan is non-different from Krishna. There's no difference between the original Vrindavan and this Vrindavan. Vrindavan is so powerful.”

Howard Wheeler (Sripad Hayagriva Swami) :
“Vrindavan Days” - ‘Memories of an Indian Holy Town’
Palace Publishing. New Vrindavan, West Virginia. 1990


Saturday, January 16, 2010

HAITI FACE HUGE PUBLIC-HEALTH CHALLENGES

DISEASES AND OTHER HEALTH RISKS
COME AFTER THE QUAKE. CAN HAITI COPE?
PORT-AU-PRINCE (CNN) - The eventual death toll from the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 will be unbearable, hundreds of thousands of people could have died. But while emergency-response teams have already begun combing through the wreckage, searching for injured people who might still be saved and treating wounds to prevent infection, there are longer-term health risks that threaten the devastated island. With basic health care and sanitation all but destroyed, and millions of survivors likely left homeless, unchecked infectious disease and contamination will pose a threat to survivors. It doesn't help that even on its best day, Haiti is a public-health disaster. It is one of the poorest countries on earth, with only 1 in every 50 Haitians holding a steady job. No Haitian city has a public sewage system, and less than half the population has any access to drinking-water services. Malnutrition is rampant, nearly 200,000 people live with HIV or AIDS, and just half the childhood population is vaccinated against basic diseases like diphtheria. The quake will make it all unimaginably worse.

That vulnerability will be felt first in the water. In a major disaster, time is of the essence, and survivors will succumb to thirst and dehydration much faster than malnutrition. With destroyed drinking-water distribution systems - and survivors crammed into camps without much sanitation - water supplies could quickly become contaminated. That can lead to rapidly spreading water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery, which can sweep through refugee camps. The next danger will be existing infectious diseases that might attack survivors - especially in the cramped and less than hygienic conditions of a refugee camp. Measles and other childhood infections will be particularly worrying, especially since nearly half of Haiti's population is under the age of 18 and many are already in poor health.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Mercy is more beautiful than justice. We cannot think of blaming the spirit of justice, but at the same time we cannot deny that there is mercy over justice. But one who can extend mercy over justice must have such power that he is able to give due compensation. The Lord has such power of compensation. Krishna is such an aspect of the Lord. He can give mercy through love and affection, and by any means we want to live in that environment. Mahāprabhu came to show that to be the plane for which we should strive.


Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion - Volume Three”
Chapter 12: ‘Our Greatest Wealth’


Friday, January 15, 2010

RELIGIOUS LEADERS THREATENED TO DECLARE JIHAD

INFLUENTIAL CLERICS THREATEN TO DECLARE "JIHAD"
(HOLY WAR) IF FOREIGN TROOPS LAND ON YEMENI SOIL
SAN'A, Yemen (AP) - A group of prominent Muslim clerics warned Thursday they will call for jihad, or holy war, if foreign troops intervene to stem the spread of al-Qaeda in the country; in other words, if the U.S. sends troops to fight al-Qaida in Yemen, they will be ready to declare jihad. The edict is a clear warning to the United States as it plans to step up its military involvement in the country. The leaders said that a jihad would be called if foreign troops set up bases inside the country, or moved into its territorial waters. “If any party insists on aggression, or invades the country, then according to Islam, jihad becomes obligatory,” said a statement signed by 150 clerics and read out at a news conference in Sanaa, the capital. The stark threat came as Yemeni security officials declared that the country was openly now at war with the terrorists, who are trying to carve out a haven in a country riven by rebellion, secessionism, poverty and tribal loyalties. The warnings signalled growing tensions in the country, the statement by the Yemeni Clerics Association, which wields considerable influence in the conservative Muslim state, seemed to be a clear attempt to limit the role Western forces can play in combating the new menace of al-Qaeda.

The religious group includes Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, who was once the spiritual adviser to Osama bin Laden, and who is wanted by the US and UN on terrorism charges. The Yemeni Government has refused to arrest him, saying that no proof has been given linking him to terrorism. It is also fearful of going after so influential a figure. Sheikh al-Zindani has proclaimed publicly that the US is planning an invasion similar to that in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yemeni officials have insisted that their troops can handle al-Qaeda, given Western materiel, and are wary of putting a foreign face on their operations, fearing that it could incite a population already furious at previous US invasions of Muslim countries.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Pure love, or prema-bhakti, is focused upon the indivisible Personality of the Supreme Lord, Who is One without a second, Bhagavān Sri Krishna. If an individual does not perceive that the totality and oneness of God is the very center of his existence, then it is inevitable that love for the body, family, society, province and country will clash with the body, family, society, province and country of others. … If one loves the Whole, then one simultaneously loves all the parts of that Whole. However, that love which is not directed toward God should be understood to be only lust. This is the underlying cause of jealousy and violence of all kinds, including war.

Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Mahārāja :
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and International Peace”
Lecture at Balaji Bhavana in Hyderabad, India, 1961
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - www.bvml.org/SBDMM/.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

SMALL ASTEROID WHIZZED CLOSE BY EARTH

TINY ASTEROID ZOOMED CLOSE BY EARTH,
"IT WAS NOT PIECE OF SPACE JUNK", NASA SAID
WASHINGTON (AP) - Astronomers announced the discovery of the object, which they named 2010 AL30, on Monday. It is relatively small, about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, NASA researchers said. It made its closest approach yesterday at 12.48pm GMT, when it came within 80,000 miles (130,000 km) of our planet. That's nearly one-third the distance between the Earth the moon. If the asteroids had entered Earth’s orbit it would have likely burned-up in the atmosphere. At the beginning there was some early speculation that the object was a part of a derelict spacecraft, but NASA scientists have concluded that it is most likely a simple space rock flying near Earth. Experts were divided over whether the object is man-made or a small asteroid. Alan Harris at the US Space Science Institute said "Unlikely to be artificial, its orbit doesn't resemble any useful spacecraft trajectory". Paul Chodas, a scientist from NASA in Pasadena, Calif., said "the asteroid's trajectory is not the kind used to transfer spacecraft out of Earth's orbit, nor is the space rock followed by other objects that escaped from Earth or lunar space. The asteroid was also far from Earth during the Apollo lunar missions of the late 1960s and 1970s, when many spacecraft were launched into the space near the moon", Chodas said.

The asteroid was visible to seasoned amateur astronomers as it passed harmlessly by the planet. Expert astronomers were able to see it shining with a brightness of a 14th-magnitude star similar to that of Pluto. It appeared moving through the constellations of Orion, Taurus and Pisces, according to NASA's Solar System Dynamics website. The rock was not in danger of striking the planet and probably would have burned up in the atmosphere before hitting Earth’s surface, if it had headed our way. A team of astronomers from Italy captured images of the asteroid that passed by Earth Wednesday at a distance one-third that between the Earth and the Moon.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US?
Vedic Cosmology can be confirmed by modern scientific findings and this is acknowledged by well known scientists and authors, who recognized that the cosmology of the Vedas closely parallels modern scientific findings. Carl Sagan stated, “Vedic Cosmology is the only one in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology.” ... French astronomer Jean-Claude Bailly corroborated the antiquity and accuracy of the Vedic astronomical measurements as “more ancient than those of the Greeks or Egyptians.” And that, “the movements of the stars calculated 4,500 years ago, does not differ by a minute from the tables of today.”

Śrīpad Bhakti Bhāvana Vishnu Mahārāja :
“Science of the Sacred” (book) - Gosai Publishing - 2009
Chapter: “Scientific Verification of Vedic Knowledge”
http://www.vedicsciences.net/