Saturday, December 31, 2011


Shanghai (Reuters) - Chinese food safety regulators in the southern city of Shenzhen have found carcinogenic mildew in peanuts and cooking oil, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.  The cancer-causing substance, called aflatoxin, triggered public concern this week after milk giant Mengniu Dairy said last weekend its Sichuan plant had destroyed products found by a government quality watchdog to contain it.  Aflatoxin occurs naturally in the environment and is produced by certain common types of fungi. It can cause severe liver damage, including liver cancer.  Fungi and the aflatoxin they produce can infect crops before harvest or during harvesting and storage. The tainted crops then enter the foodchain either directly, or indirectly via animal feed, so milk, eggs, and meat can sometimes be contaminated with aflatoxins.

Xinhua reported that the Shenzhen market supervision bureau had said it found up to 4.3 times of the permitted level of aflatoxin in peanuts sold in two supermarkets and one frozen food store, and up to four times the allowed level of aflatoxin in cooking oil in four restaurants.  On Thursday, food safety officials recalled cooking oil produced by three companies in the southern Guangdong province because they may contain excessive levels of aflatoxin.  These incidents are the latest in a string of safety scandals to hit China’s food industry in recent years. In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300 000 became ill in China from drinking powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial chemical added to low-quality or diluted milk to give misleadingly high protein readings.

Chinese authorities have detected a cancer-causing toxin in peanuts and cooking oil that was only recently discovered in milk, in China’s latest food safety scandal.  Fungi and the aflatoxin they produce can infect crops before harvest or storage. Aflatoxin can enter the foodchain via animal feed; so after animal consumption of tainted crops, milk, eggs, and meat can be contaminated with it.  Despite so many risks, there are still people who wonder why it is not advisable to eat eggs and meat.

The Gaudiya Vaisnava object to meat eating because they consider animal slaughter a merciless act. ... To the extent that one is involved in merciless acts, one will be checked from making significant spiritual progress. ... Eat simply. Eat to live; don’t live to eat.  Bhagavad-gita teaches that a sattvic diet is best for spiritual life in general. Sattva refers to the quality of goodness, which is said to be illuminating. A sattvic diet is vegetarian, one that avoids overly spicy foods as well as onions and garlic, because these foods are said to excite passion (rajas). Meat, fish, and eggs are products of unnecessary violence and are considered unclean. Above all, one should eat in gratitude and service to God.

Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“When Invaders Destroy the Deity”
Śrī Caitanya Sanga - Vol. V, No. 24 - October 30, 2003
“Guru-Pranali and the Current of Spirituality”
Śrī Caitanya Sanga - Vol. V, No. 27 - December 7, 2003  -

Friday, December 30, 2011


Seoul (Reuters) - North Korea sounded a bellicose note in its first communication with the outside world since the death of leader Kim Jong-il, saying its confrontational stance against South Korea would not change and labeling its opponents “foolish.”  Since Kim Jong-il died on December 17, the outside world has been watching to see whether his son Kim Jong-un, aged in his 20s, would stick to its hardline “military first” policies that have seen the isolated nation move closer to nuclear weapons capacity.  “On this occasion, we solemnly declare with confidence that foolish politicians around the world, including the puppet forces in South Korea, should not expect any changes from us,” a broadcaster on state television said.

She was reading a statement from the National Defense Commission, the top body in the militarized and impoverished state under Kim Jong-il.In a break from the black mourning clothing worn since Kim Jong-il’s death, the broadcaster wore dark red clothes and almost shouted her defiant message.  North Korea has a long history of using bellicose phrases against the South, especially since the conservative government of Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008 and ended a policy of engagement with the North.  It has threatened to turn the South’s capital Seoul into a “sea of fire” on numerous occasions and repeated that rhetoric again on Friday.  South Korea’s government did not formally respond to the comments from the North.

Many had hoped that North Korea would change their foreign policy with the rise of Kim Jong Un, but this message from North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission show no flexibility: “The sea of bloody tears from our military and people will follow the puppet regime (South Korea’s government )until the end. The tears will turn into a sea of revengeful fire that burns everything.” Revenge and hatred are the kind of emotions that affect our present and future.

The last thoughts determine the conditions and nature of the next birth. This is what the sages have said about the phenomenon of death.  The last dominant thought in our mind at the time when we just drop off to sleep can often be the thought that dominates our mind the next morning.  It is for this reason that we are advised to sing the Divine Names of God or hymns at the time of death in order to focus the attention of the dying person on holy and noble thoughts.  It is needless to add that if the soul departs from the body with thoughts of anger, hatred, jealousy, worry and fear, or in a state of great mental turmoil, then such thoughts and agitation will be carried over and immediately experienced in that realm also.

Dr Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“Curing Depression with Spirituality”

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Moscow (TOI) - A Russian court yesterday rejected a petition, described by India as “patently absurd”, which had sought a ban on a translated version of Bhagvad Gita, bringing cheers to followers here as well as those across the world.  “We have won the case. The judge has rejected the petition,” Sadhu Priya Das of ISKCON, Moscow, who is also Chairman of newly formed Hindu Council of Russia, told PTI.  External Affairs Minister S M Krishna welcomed the judgement and thanked the Russian government for its support.  ISKCON members have alleged that the Russian Orthodox Church was behind the court case as it wanted to limit their activities.  Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had argued that the Russian translation of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” promotes “social discord” and hatred towards non-believers.

The text is a combination of the Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest scriptures, and commentary by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, that is commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON.  The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the Russian Federal List of Extremist Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts including Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and books distributed by the Jehovah’s Witness and Scientology movements.  Speaking in Parliament, Krishna had said the lawsuit was the work of “ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals.” He also called the complaint “patently absurd”.  The judge, after reviewing the petition from the state prosecutors and the responses against it, dismissed the plea.

A Russian court on Wednesday rejected prosecutors’ calls to ban a translated version of Bhagavad Gita written by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada entitled “As It Is”.  This case had created a diplomatic stress point for India and Russia and provoked protests all over the world.  Instead of the Bhagavad Gita, it should ban smoking, liquor, drugs, abortion, gambling and consumption of meat that does so much damage, not only to animals but to the environment.
Contrary to what the Russian government’s spokesperson has to say, what the court is objecting to is not Prabhupada’s commentary but the Bhagavad Gita itself. I do agree that there is a difference in the Christian and ISKCON conception of God, I understand the court has a problem with terms such as ‘demons’ for asuras and ‘fools’ for mudhas but Russians are philosophical by nature, with a high level of receptivity. They seek answers to what is the meaning of life after death and why we are born. Many Christians have told me that their understanding of the Bible has become deeper after reading the Gita. The contention is that we differ at a theological level, but a normal court is not the place to debate these differences. The core teachings of both Christianity and ISKCON are the same - love thy neighbour, love God.

Śrīpad Bhakti Vigyan Mahārāja (nee Vadim Touneev) :
Head of ISKCON, Russia
“Tomorrow is a critical day. Krishna please Protect!”
“Moscow Courts had dismissed Gita cases”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


HEALTH CARE IN SOME HOSPITALS - Spiritual Care Services at West Virginia University Hospitals-East’s Jefferson Memorial Hospital provides emotional and spiritual support to patients, their families, hospital staff and volunteers.  An integral part of the health care team, volunteer chaplain associates representing many faiths are available to offer spiritual and emotional support, and listen with openness and understanding.  “We believe that spirituality is important for the health and well-being of our patients and staff,” said Arlene Fernandez-Anderson, executive resident at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.  This hospital has also established a Spiritual Worship Service at 1 p.m. every Sunday.  The service is held in the chapel and is open to patients, visitors, family members, staff and the community.

 However, this trend to establish Spiritual Care Services at hospitals is not shared or followed around the world; for example in the town of Ambato, Ecuador, the editor of the newspaper El Heraldo reported that although the religious sentiment and spirituality is intrinsic to the individual and collective personality of the South American peoples, the Ecuadorian government has an attitude incompatible with these principles and has begun to close the small chapels in hospitals, attacking the spiritual feeling of the people.  “The hospital chapel has always been a spiritual haven in which people find consolation for their physical and moral ailments, and that hospitals are places that focus on the overall health of humans,” the editor says.

To give emotional and spiritual support to those dealing with critical illness in time of need or when requested it is very important because religious rituals may promote healthful behaviours.  Spiritual care boosts emotions and enables individuals to recover from illness. Physicians should not ignore the growing number of studies that show prayer and spiritual cares promotes health.  They should consider the needs of the 'whole person' not just the body and mind.

The organization of Conscious Doctors is one of friendship and the inter-exchange of medical experiences between doctors with the purpose of purifying professional medical activities by supporting spiritual consciousness. ... A conscious doctor is a person who knows that we are not the body but the living soul.  S/he knows the body is a gift from God, a divine instrument apt for spiritual progress and to become a first-class human being. ... S/he is a person who knows the valuable contribution of the Vedas, of the process of yoga, and the need to associate with natural energy (clean water, healthy breathing, natural spaces, etc,) ... defends the environment, advising the avoidance of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically-modified organisms.

Śrīla Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti Mahārāja :
The Vedic Wisdom Collection
“Conscious Doctors”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


DURING CHRISTMAS PRAYERS - A series of bomb attacks in Nigeria, including two on Christmas Day church services, have left almost 40 people dead and many injured. The Islamist group Boko Haram said it carried out the attacks, including one on St Theresa’s Church in Madalla, near the capital Abuja, that killed 35, and another explosion hit a church in the central city of Jos.  Yobe state has been the epicentre of violence between security forces and Boko Haram militants.  Three attacks in Yobe left four people dead. Two hit the town of Damaturu, and a third struck Gadaka.  President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Christian, said the attacks were an “unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom”. The White House condemned what it described as “senseless violence” and pledged to assist Nigeria in restoring peace.

Boko Haram - whose name means “Western education is forbidden” - often targets security forces and state institutions.  The group carried out an August 2011 suicide attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja, in which more than 20 people were killed.  Nearly 70 people have died this week in fighting between Nigerian forces and Boko Haram gunmen in the country’s north-east.  National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) spokesman Yushau Shuaibu told the BBC that the latest Abuja explosion had happened in the street outside the church.  He said the church - which can hold up to 1,000 people - had been badly affected by the blast.  Officials at the local hospital said the condition of many of the injured was serious.

Islamist extremists brought Christmas carnage to churches across Nigeria and have threatened more bloodshed in the days to come.  In all there were five bomb blasts. The most deadly was at St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla on the outskirts of the capital Abuja.  The radical religious sect Boko Haram - which wants sharia law in Nigeria - has claimed all the explosions.  Despite the words of peace, if there is no interfaith acceptance, there will be more fights between religious groups.

Interfaith is directing devotees of different faiths to know and understand the philosophies, rituals, and teachings of each other. By this, the people become more friendly and cooperative, instead of being hostile and antagonistic. Indeed, they soon realize how, in essence, all religions have more in common. The basic teachings are remarkably similar. They also complement the knowledge of their own religion to make it more broad-based and complete.  Indeed, each religion has a special spiritual value of its own, which is not to be found in any other. ... For Hindus, interfaith is a sacred heritage.  In fact, it is incorporated in the ancient teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads: Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vidanti - there is only one truth; sages call it by different names.

Dr. Hiro Badlani:
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 55: “Hinduism and Interfaith
The Future Trends in Our World”

Monday, December 26, 2011


The State Column - The commander of the International Space Station (ISS), peering out the multi-windowed Cupola observatory, has captured what is sure to be one of the most iconic images ever taken aboard the low-earth orbit science lab. The amazing images show Comet Lovejoy, which survived a trip through the sun’s atmosphere last week. 
The comet, which made its first appearance this year before plunging into the Sun, is being dubbed as a “Christmas comet” or even as the “Christmas star,” making reference to the star that greeted Jesus’ birth in the Nativity story.  It was discovered on 27 November by the Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy and was classified as a “Kreutz sungrazer”, with its orbit taking it very close to the Sun.

Here’s another seasonally appropriate find – perfect for the end of Christmas: The image - taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) - of a nebula about 1,000 light-years away, which definitely has some seasonally appropriate colors.  The nebula bears a strong resemblance to a Christmas wreath, right down to the colors.  The stars that look like little silver bells decorating the “wreath” are in fact located either in front of or behind the nebula from Earth’s perspective. The nebula itself is lit by a particularly bright star in the middle, and the ‘red’ dust cloud contains magnetic particles, while the ‘greenish’ parts of the cloud are the hotter portions where stars are being born.  The colors represent what WISE is seeing in different wavelengths in the infrared spectrum, which humans can’t see, NASA says.

In the spirit of the Christmas holidays, the International Space Station released an image of the Comet Lovejoy which truly becomes this year’s “Star of Wonder”.  NASA has also released a new image from its WISE space telescope of a nebula that seems to resemble a wreath: A ring of evergreens donned with a festive red bow, a jaunty sprig of holly, and silver bells throughout.  Just in time for the holidays, both interstellar pictures may be considered as God’s gifts to people of faith in this world.

When we consider the story of how baby Jesus appeared in the heart of his mother Mary by immaculate conception, as well as the bright star appearing in the night sky, we can discern a direct parallel to Lord Krishna’s birth three thousand years earlier in Vrindavana, India, as recorded in the Vedic literature. It is described in the ancient Vedic texts how Krishna appeared in the mind of Vasudeva, Krishna’s father, and was then transferred into the heart of His mother, Devaki. During Krishna’s birth, the bright star Rohini was high in the sky, and the king at the time, Kamsa, actually ordered the killing of all the infants in an attempt to kill Krishna, similar to the way Herod was supposed to have done as described in the gospel of Matthew. ... There are many other parallels that we could refer to that are disclosed in the Vedas, which were written many hundreds of years before the Bible.

Dr Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“Christianity and the Vedic Teachings Within It”

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the victims of famine, floods and conflict around the world in his traditional Christmas message on Sunday, following a deadly explosion near a church in Nigeria.  “Let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace,” he told thousands of pilgrims in the Vatican.  The pope urged the international community to aid those suffering from hunger in the Horn of Africa, called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and said he hoped this year’s Arab revolts would aid the “common good”. He also prayed for the victims of recent flooding in Thailand and the Philippines which he said were enduring “grave hardships” and said he hoped for increased dialogue in Myanmar “in the pursuit of shared solutions.”

The pope’s strongest words were against wars and in favor of reconciliation, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land but also in the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the new nation of South Sudan.  “May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood... May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed,” he said.  “May he grant renewed vigor to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good,” he added, following the revolts in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.  Peace was also a central theme in Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal’s Christmas Eve homily delivered in Bethlehem, where hotels and guesthouses were packed to capacity with pilgrims.

At Christmas Eve mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the pope lamented the consumerism surrounding a holiday “whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turns calls us to humility and simplicity.  Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light,” the pope said. The increasingly commercial celebration obscures the simplicity of the message of Christ's birth.

We are approaching a very significant date for most people in this world, Christmas. This is a special moment for meetings, joys, gifts, so many feelings that may not commonly occur at other times of year.  Try to really celebrate Christmas, try - despite the risk of being the party pooper of the family reunion :) - of giving to others the true “Christmas spirit”, a spirit full of giving, where instead of thinking of receive we can want to give; but not to material elements, but to what Christ and all the great teachers have given us - and they still continue giving - a message and example of how to mold our lives according to the will of the Supreme.  To the extent that we can assimilate and share these valuable insights, we can strictly say that we are truly celebrating Christmas.

Śrīpad Bhakti Vedanta Padmanabha Mahārāja :
Cierra Tus Ojos y Mira - “Christmas Meditation”

Saturday, December 24, 2011


CHIEF WANTED BY INTERPOL - Interpol is seeking the arrest of Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of a French company whose breast implants are at the centre of a global health scare.  The international police agency has issued a so-called red notice for Mas.  His firm Poly Implant Protheses (PIP), which went into administration last year, supplied implants to tens of thousands of women in Europe and South America.  Interpol’s website says the 72-year-old is wanted by Costa Rican authorities for crimes involving “life and health” but gives no further details.  France has offered to pay for an estimated 30,000 women in the country to have their PIP implants removed because of risks the products could rupture and leak industrial-grade silicone.  Faulty breast implants made by PIP could rupture dangerously.

They are filled with an unapproved non-medical grade material - believed to be made for mattresses - and there have been reports that the protective barriers are faulty.  At least 40,000 British women are believed to have the implants.  But the Department of Health said it was not echoing the French advice and that there was “no evidence” of a safety concern.  Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said: “Women with PIP implants should not be unduly worried. We have no evidence of a link to cancer or an increased risk of rupture.  “If women are concerned, they should speak to their surgeon. I will be writing to GPs so that they are aware of the concerns women may have and can talk them through with their patients.  More than 270 women in the UK reportedly intend to sue the clinics where they were fitted with PIP implants.  The use of PIP implants are now banned.

Jean-Claude Mas is the founder of PIP whose breast implants are at the centre of a global health scare.  Women around the world have PIP's implants. The silicone inside the implants is not medical grade, it was intended for use in mattresses, and implant covers have high risk of rupturing. It is good that women like to look good, but images in the public space and magazines that push fantasy bodies make them almost despise their own bodies, and then some turn to the knife to increase their self-esteem.
Self-esteem is the proper validation that we have of our identity and our potentials, which permits us to progress positively in our familiar social surroundings.  Many people suffer from low self-esteem, from an absence of happiness, and from a failure to find meaning in their lives.  Consider the competitive and consumeristic life style of modern society that has created false principles and values in determining the success of a person.  In reality, the importance of a human being is relative to the quality and generosity of the objectives that they pursue. ... The study of the philosophy of the Vedas permits us to find in our own reality the main justification to have permanent self-esteem.  Having the consciousness that a Creator, a Superior being exists it is what gives real value to our existence.

Friday, December 23, 2011


DANGEROUS IF MIXED WITH ALCOHOL - Breathable caffeine dispensed from canisters that fit in jean pockets and are allowed in carry-on luggage is a ‘club drug’ that may be dangerous to teenagers, a New York senator said.  Democrat Charles Schumer wrote Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg today asking her to review the safety and legality of the AeroShot Pure Energy caffeine inhaler, a yellow and gray canister of caffeine powder and B vitamins resembling a tube of lipstick. The inhaler is set to hit store shelves in New York and Boston next month.  AeroShot will be sold over the counter with no age restrictions and is touted for its convenience and zero calories. If taken with alcohol, the mixture may have effects similar to caffeinated alcohol drinks tied to hospitalizations in the past, Schumer said. Doctors say it may carry neurological and cardiovascular risks.

“The product is nothing more than a club drug designed to give users the ability to drink until they drop,” Schumer said. Last year, at Schumer’s urging, the FDA stopped sales of caffeinated alcoholic beverages after they were linked to hospitalizations and deaths.  The inhaler is sold online by Cambridge, Massachusetts- based Breathable Foods Inc. and The Lab Store, in Paris. AeroShot advertising in Europe focuses on drinking and partying, Schumer said in a statement, adding that he’s concerned it could be a health hazard to teens.  AeroShot delivers 100 milligrams of caffeine, the same amount in a large cup of coffee. The caffeine is absorbed in the mouth and digestive tract, not through the lungs, according to a fact sheet from Breathable Foods. AeroShot is priced at $2.99 and is not intended for anyone younger than 12, according to the product’s website.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer say  a breathable caffeine product that is about to hit stores in New York and Boston could be dangerous to young people.  The AeroShot is a Chapstick-sized canister that lets users inhale caffeine in powdered form. The new product is a potential health hazard if mixed with alcohol, particularly for adolescents.  This can be a new way to keep people addicted and victimized by self-destructive behavioral patterns.
The Supreme Person Krishna being omnipotent is fully present in His Holy Names. Chanting of the Holy Names therefore connects one immediately with Krishna, who is the supreme pleasure principle. Regular meditation on the Holy Names enables one to experience happiness streaming down from the spiritual dimension. This spiritual pleasure is so satisfying that it soon frees one from the craving for perverted mundane pleasure like drugs, alcohol etc.  Millions of people all over the world have experienced the purifying potency of the Holy Names of God.  Srila Prabhupada propagated the congregational chanting of the Holy Names and saved thousands of young people from a condemned life of drug addiction.

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011


New Delhi (hinduexistence) - Parliamentarians across the political spectrum on Monday asked the government to ensure that the religious rights of Hindus in Russia are protected after a member pointed out an IANS report about the Bhagvad Gita facing a ban and the prospect of it being branded as “extremist” literature there.  Angry MPs forced the adjournment of the Lok Sabha till 2pm after Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab raised the issue in the house and asked the government to intervene immediately to ensure the religious freedom of Hindus in Russia.  He said a court in Siberia’s Tomsk city was set to deliver its final verdict on Monday in a case filed by state prosecutors, as was reported by IANS on Saturday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on an official visit to Moscow.

“I want to know from the government what it is doing. The religious rights of Hindus in Russia should be protected. The government should impress upon the Russian authorities through diplomatic channels,” he said.  The case, which has been going on in the Tomsk court since June, seeks a ban on a Russian translation of the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” written by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).  It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia, declared as literature spreading “social discord”, and its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal.  Smt. Sushma Swaraj, the BJP MP and the leader of the opposition demanded that Gita should be declared as the National Book of Indian Nation so that nobody can ban it anyway.

Gita ban in Russia generates Global Hindu Protest and causes Parliamentary chaos.  Indians in Moscow and followers of ISKCON in Russia have appealed to the Indian government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue in favour of the scripture, an important part of Indian epic Mahabharata written by sage Veda Vyasa.  This is not new, many times Hare Krishna devotees around the world have started campaigns of protest against religious persecution in Russia.

But by 1980, under Brezhnev’s rule, several devotees were thrown into prison, initiating a tense and often traumatic relationship between ISKCON and the Soviet Union. By the mid-1980s Yuri Andropov was in power, and he intensified the campaign already underway against the Hare Krishna movement. He saw devotees as representing all things religious and was determined to wipe them out. Because of Ananta-shanti’s contagious enthusiasm and the staggering results of the book fairs, Semyon Tsvigun, the deputy chief of the KGB under Andropov, said that three main threats to the Soviet Union were “pop music, Western culture, and Hare Krishna.”  Such pronouncements, and the sentiments that fueled them, led to intense persecution of Hare Krishna devotees.

ŚBack to Godhead Magazine - March/April 2008 :
“Checkmate: ISKCON's Victory in Russia”
By Satyaraja Dasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


FESTIVAL OF LIGHT CELEBRATED - Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated Dec. 20-28, 2011. On the Jewish calendar, the Hebrew dates for Hanukkah are from sundown on the 25th of Kislev to sundown on the 2nd of Tevet in the year 5772.  The Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration, marks the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E. during the Maccabean revolt against oppressive Greek rulers. It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays - perhaps due to its proximity to Christmas on the Gregorian calendar - and is celebrated by lighting a nine-branch candelabrum commonly called a menorah.  The story of Hanukkah is one of revolution and miracles: Greek influence over the Jews in the Land of Israel was getting out of hand. Hellenism was spreading, an affront to Jewish culture and religious practice.

When the Greek ruler of the time, Antiochus, forbade Jewish religious practice, a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, revolted. The Maccabees were successful and restored the desecrated Holy Temple. The menorah in the Temple needed to be lit. Traditionally, the candelabrum burned continuously. The Temple liberators searched but could find only one vial of olive oil, enough for just one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, which was just enough time to receive a new shipment. To celebrate the miracle, Hanukkah was instituted.  Today, Jews everywhere light menorahs on each night of Hanukkah; one candle is lit for each night until the eighth night, when all eight lights shine together. Gift giving is now a common practice on Hanukkah, and it is therefore a beloved time for Jewish children.

Hanukkah, or the Jewish festival of lights has started. The holiday is celebrated over eight days by lighting candles on a menorah.  The menorah has a ninth “helper” flame - known as the shamash - used to light the other candles.  Technically, the candelabrum is called a hanukkiah to distinguish itself from the seven-branch menorah used in the Temple. A spiritually advanced person sees every religion as different aspects of Divinity and wishes that everyone to go back to God.

We are not religious sect. We are cultural sect. We are giving the highest culture to the human society, to awaken his lost consciousness. So I am very happy to see you all, American boys, Indians. This is wanted. We want to unite the whole world under this Krishna consciousness movement. And actually that is happening. In our society we have got devotees from all section of people - from Christian, from Jews, from Hindus, from Muhammadan, from black, from white. ... So it is a very serious movement. You can take. Every one of you can take advantage of it. It is not very difficult to practice, because our process is very simple. You come and chant with us Hare Krishna. Everyone can chant. And actually it is happening.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“Complete Works of Srila Prabhupada”
General Lectures
Lecture at Detroit, on July 16, 1971
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Pyongyang (Associated Press) - The body of North Korea’s long-time ruler Kim Jong Il was laid out in a memorial palace Tuesday as weeping mourners filled public plazas and state media fed a budding personality cult around his third son, hailing him as “born of heaven.”  Indicating the leadership transition in the world’s only communist dynasty is on track, Kim Jong Un - Kim’s youngest known son and successor - visited the body with top military and Workers’ Party officials and held what state media called a “solemn ceremony” in the capital, Pyongyang, as the country mourned.  Kim Jong Il died of a massive heart attack on Saturday caused by overwork and stress, according to the North’s media. He was 69.  North Korean state media have given clear indications that Kim Jong Un will succeed his father.

Pyongyang urged people to rally behind Kim’s youngest son Jong-Un, describing him as “great successor” to the leader who presided over a famine that saw hundreds of thousands die, but still built an atomic arms arsenal.  Swiss-educated Kim Jong-Un, who is in his late 20s and was last year made a four-star general and given top ruling party posts despite having had no public profile.  Although there were no signs of unrest or discord in Pyongyang’s somber streets, Kim’s death and the possibility of a power struggle in a country pursuing nuclear weapons and known for its secrecy and unpredictability have heightened tensions in the region.  South Korea put its military on emergency alert but urged its people to stay calm, and swiftly closed ranks with its close ally the United States.  North and South Korea have remained technically at war since their three-year conflict ended only in an armistice in 1953.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has died aged 69 of a heart attack brought about by overwork and stress, plunging the nuclear-armed and deeply isolated nation into a second dynastic succession.  Like the Russian communists, the North Koreans sought to expunge any trace of Christianity or other religious faiths.  We must surrender to God and not waste the invaluable opportunity of this life worshiping another human being, even though he is the supreme leader.

There is a wide gulf between mind and spirit that can only be bridged by spiritual cultivation.  There are so-called great men or rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit. ... When theism is forced to give way to pantheism, atheism, scepticism and agnosticism, then irreligion, unscrupulousness and duplicity bring about chaos on earth. Sin and its consequences surge around us, tumultuously clamouring to have their way against our wishes, and we find ourselves in the midst of a whirlpool. ... With all His paraphernalia, majesty, might, glory, beauty, wisdom and supremacy, He reigns eternally in the spiritual world and exists simultaneously in every created object and place in His complete fullness.

Śrīla Bhakti Saranga Mahārāja :
“Omnipotent God Beyond Error”
Rays of the Harmonist – Nº 13 Karttika, 2003

Monday, December 19, 2011


New York - As Toni Kelly battled lymphoma she worried obsessively that her four-year struggle would destroy her family’s finances. She knew that after she died, which she did on Sept. 29, there was one way she could keep from adding to the $200,000 in medical debt she would leave behind. Like a growing proportion of Americans, she said she wanted her body to be cremated.  All but taboo in the United States 50 years ago, cremation is now chosen over burial in 41 % of American deaths, up from 15 % in 1985, according to the Cremation Association of North America. The association projects it will pass 50 % by 2017 (still lagging behind Canada and much of Europe and Asia). Economics is clearly one of the factors driving that change.

The percentage of bodies that are cremated has risen steadily for years, for reasons ranging from spiritual to environmental. But a recent study shows that the increase has accelerated during the downturn, and many funeral home directors say they believe the economy is leading people to look for less expensive options.  The disposition of Ms. Kelly’s remains cost about $1,600, and that total included a death notice, a death certificate and an urn bought online. It was a fraction of the $10,000 to $16,000 that is typically spent on a traditional funeral and burial.  Most mainstream religions have relaxed objections to cremation, which were tied to biblically based views of the body as a vessel for the soul and of a heaven populated by human forms.

“America is becoming Hinduized in this way,” says Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and the author of “Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America.” “We’re increasingly seeing the human as essentially spiritual and gradually giving up on the Judeo-Christian idea of the person in the afterlife.”  Because of ignorance about life after death, man laments for the dead body and wants to preserve it; nevertheless it is recommended to burn the lifeless body.

Apparently the queens continued lamenting for the dead body, the lump of matter, and would not allow it to be taken away for burning. This illustrates the strong grip of illusion among foolish persons who consider the body the self. ... Because of ignorance only, the queens thought of the dead body as their husband and somehow or other thought that if the body were kept their husband would remain with them. ... Thus the bodily concept of life is extremely strong among foolish persons, who are compared to cows and asses. Nowadays, great scientists are trying to freeze dead bodies so that in the future these frozen bodies may again be brought to life.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam - Canto 7: The Science of God  
Chapter 2: Hiranyakaśipu, King of the Demons
Verse 35 - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase