Thursday, March 31, 2011

ROMANTIC BREAKUPS CAUSE REAL PAIN

PAIN: BRAIN DOESN’T DIFFERENTIATE
BETWEEN EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL PAIN
www.foxnews.com - Rejection quite literally hurts - the experience and the memory of getting dumped by a loved one trigger brain regions linked with physical sensations of pain, scientists find.  Around the world, people for centuries have used the same language - words like “hurt” and “pain” - to describe mental suffering as well as physical suffering, leading researchers to wonder if the sensations weren’t activating the same parts of the brain.  Speculatively, it makes sense that getting your heart broken could feel like something literally breaking. During the course of human evolution, rejection from a group could leave one extraordinarily vulnerable, researcher Edward Smith, a cognitive neuroscientist at Columbia University in New York, told LiveScience, “so that might be why this link evolved between rejection and pain, to make us want to avoid rejection.”

As the brains of the 40 volunteers were scanned through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), half the time they looked at photos of their ex, and half the time they looked at photos of a friend.  The scientists found that parts of the brain linked with physical pain also lit up when individuals were remembering bad breakups.  “Rejection literally hurts,” Smith said.  The researchers are now looking at possible techniques for easing such mental suffering, including methods that therapists already use. “For instance, one piece of advice when thinking about rejection is to view experiences with an ex-partner as an outside person from a distance,” Smith said. “We want to see if this really does help at the level of the brain.”

Romantic heartbreak hurts, and researchers now have a better understanding of why.  The same regions of the brain that are activated when people experience pain in their bodies also become active when people feel rejected by someone they love.  Many stories of breakups which led to intense feelings of rejection and pain are found in Vedic literature.  After being rejected by King Salwa, Princess Amba went to the forest alone.  In her wanderings, Amba told Parashurama the events of her abduction by Bhishma and her rejection by King Salwa and requested the great sage to kill Bhisma.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Maharaja Bhishma abducted Princess Amba along with her sisters.  After receiving consent from him, Amba left the city of Hastinapura, and traveled to the province where King Salwa ruled.  She pleaded, “I have come to take shelter of your mighty arms, O brave King. Please accept me as your queen.”  King Salwa laughed to hear Amba’s request and informed her, “I no longer desire you for my queen, for you have been touched by another. It is Bhishma only who can marry you.  I cannot accept you as my queen.” Amba was aggrieved by King Salwa’s rejection and left the kingdom of Salwa, lamenting her destiny.  Amba decided to inhabit the forest and practice austerities and penances for the rest of her life.  When Amba narrated Parashurama the events, the great rishi felt sorry for the girl.  Parashurama reproved Bhishma, “O King, it is not proper for her to be humiliated in this way.”

“Mahabharata Summation” – “Adi Parva” :
Chapter four: “Bhishma Battles Parashurama”
New Vrindavana, June 3, 1985
http://philosophy.ru/library/asiatica/indica/itihasa/mahabharata/eng/

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

RELIGIONS UNITE AGAINST UMP DEBATE

FRANCE: UMP RELIGION DEBATE UNITES
SIX MAJOR RELIGIONS IN OPPOSITION
www.connexionfrance.com - Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists have united in opposition to the UMP’s debate on the separation of Church and State.  A declaration written by the Conférence des responsables de culte en France said that, while debate was usually a healthy sign, it questioned the wisdom of the governing UMP discussing it solely among their ranks.  Behind the declaration are France’s chief rabbi Gilles Bernheim, the heads of the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches of France, the president of the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman, Mohammed Moussaoui, and the head of the Buddhists’ union of France, Olivier Wang-Genh.  The Conférence des responsables de culte en France , established last November, asked the UMP not to add confusion during a difficult period, saying this was likely to lead to more stigmatization. 

It draws attention to different aspects of the relationship between the public, religion and the government.  It praises the principle of the separation of Church and State. “Laïcité is one of the pillars of our Republican contract, one of the supports of our democracy and a foundation for our wish to live together,” it said.  The UMP itself is split over the debate, which will also look at the role of Islam in France and is due to take place at a party conference on April 5.  Party members are divided on both their tactics to deal with the growing support for the Front National and the usefulness of the debate. 

Today, the leaders of the major religions criticized the debate on Islam and secularism in France, organized by the party of President Nicolas Sarkozy for next week, at the risk of stigmatizing the Muslim population during this period before the French presidential elections of 2012.  The secular state is a way of compromising religious and irreligious systems, but because of this citizens are generally becoming uninterested in spiritual advancement. In such a state, people cannot be happy, despite all economic development.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Nowadays there is propaganda everywhere, all over the world, for a secular state, a state interested only in mundane activities.  But if the citizens of the state are not educated in the above-mentioned good qualities (SB 7.11.8-12), how can there be happiness?  Therefore, without consideration of one’s belonging to a sectarian religion, whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or any other sect, everyone should be taught to become truthful. ... There is no question of a secular state or an ecclesiastical state.  Unless one is educated in the above-mentioned thirty qualities, there cannot be any peace.   Everyone should become a devotee of the Lord, because by becoming a devotee of the Lord one automatically acquires the other qualities.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Purport to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam - Canto 7: “The Science of God”
Chapter 11: “The Perfect Society: Four Social Classes”
Verses 8-12 - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NUCLEAR CRISIS SHIFTS GERMAN POLITICS

GREENS TOOK POWER IN BADEN WÜRTTEMBERG
A BULWARK OF RULING PARTY FOR 58 YEARS
www.csmonitor.com - When Germany’s left-leaning Green party was born 30 years ago, former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt dismissed them outright. “They’re just environmental idiots who will have disappeared again soon,” he said.  They didn’t. In fact, in a turn of events reverberating across the nation, the Greens on Sunday ended six decades of conservative rule in one of Germany’s wealthiest states, completing their transformation from a radical protest party to a mainstream force shaking the traditional political order.  For the first time ever in Germany, and only the second time in European history, a Green will be prime minister of a major regional state. “It’s a new political era,” says German Green party leader Claudia Roth.  Capitalizing on nuclear aversion, the Greens stole power from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU). 

Green leader Winfried Kretschmann, 62, described the result as “an historic victory” and pledged an immediate push to “change things”. Germany’s antinuclear, environmentalist tradition has deep roots.  In the 1970s, Freiburg became the cradle of Germany’s anti-nuclear movement after local activists killed plans for a nuclear power station nearby. The battle brought energy-policy issues closer to the people.  Freiburg also revolutionized behavior by making its medieval center more pedestrian-friendly, laying down a lattice of bike paths and introducing a flat rate for tramways and buses.  Environmental research became a backbone of the region’s economy, with some solar-research and renewable energy centers.

The German Green party was born in the late 1960s with young, rebellious students trying to shake the political establishment.  In the 1970s, the Greens became a platform for antinuclear protests.  In the 1980s, they embraced the antiwar movement.  Over the years, they won mayoral battles in significant German cities and returned politicians to parliament.  Long before, the ecological value system reflected in the life and message of Mahatma Gandhi and the provisions of the Republican Constitution of India of 1950 had derived their spiritual and moral inspiration from the ancient Vedic culture.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Long before ecology became the refrain of the global song at Stockholm and Rio, the ancient Indic heritage had already provided a spacious spiritual home for the environmental ethos. In the West, the term ‘ecology’ was coined only in the latter half of the 19th century from the Greek word Oikos, meaning ‘home’. But India has, throughout trackless centuries, provided an ample expanse of friendly space for an open and ongoing discourse of ideas. The Jain, Vedic and Buddhist traditions established the principles of ecological harmony centuries ago - not because the world was perceived as heading for an imminent environmental disaster or destruction, nor because of any immediate utilitarian exigency, but through its quest for spiritual and physical symbiosis, synthesized in a system of ethical awareness and moral responsibility.
 
H. E. Dr Laxmi Mall Singhvi
Former President of the World Congress on Human Rights
“The East is green” - August 1996.
http://www.ourplanet.com/imgversn/82/singhvi.html
http://www.hinduwisdom.info/Nature_Worship.htm
 

Monday, March 28, 2011

HINDUS, SIKHS CROWD UAE’S LONE TEMPLE

DEVOTION CROWDS
UAE’S LONE TEMPLE
Dubai (www.thenational.ae) - People queue in tens of thousands each week to pray at the Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai’s Old Souk.  They must pass through an alleyway so narrow, one could almost put a hand on either wall. Once inside they have to proceed quickly through their rites, supervised by hired security guards.  There is no time - or space - for them to linger.  The Shiva and Krishna Mandir temple complex in Al Bastakiya was built in 1958, but its community has long outgrown it.  The Hindus share the overcrowded space with the Sikh community, but that group is set to move on.  They have already been granted a plot of land from the Dubai Government and are opening a new center in the coming months.

There are 1.7 million Indians in the Emirates and although the number of Hindus is unknown, the Indian Consulate in Dubai estimates about 50 per cent of the Indian population is Hindu.  The temple is the only gathering point for Hindus in the UAE and one of just a few in the Gulf, making it a sought-after spiritual lifeline.  Things get even busier during religious holidays.  The two-day Maha Shivaratri festival last year drew around 125,000 people. Their queues stretched for several kilometres.   The Hindu temple’s management has also put in a request with the Dubai Government for more land, but has yet to hear back.  Every day of the week is devoted to an individual god; morning prayers start at 6am and run until 1pm; evening prayers run from 4.30pm to 10pm.

The Hindus and Sikh communities share the Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai's Old Souk for their rituals.  Near the entrance of the overcrowded temple there are a handful of traders selling Prasad, or offerings to God.  Each plastic bag contains flower petals, an apple, a small bottle of milk and a piece of cloth.  “We believe that if you give something to God, you will get something in return,” said Prajhant Divecha, a devotee at the temple.  Divine faith or sraddha is original and fundamental.  The mind cannot be pure, so it cannot produce sraddha.  When the Supreme Lord appears in the heart, the mind vanishes.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Vaikuntha is Infinite, and if we wish to draw the attention of the Infinite to ourselves, the only way is sraddha.  By sraddha we can attract the Infinite and nothing else.  And when faith gets a definite form through bhava, it comes to be prema, love divine.  After crossing Vaikuntha we may find the cosmos, the spiritual cosmos and sraddha, the light in the darkness. ... Sraddha will keep our heart enlivened, hopeful.  Sraddha sabde-krsne bhakti kaile sarva karma: no risk, no gain; more risk, more gain.  Sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja:  “I am everywhere, no room to be afraid at all.  Only come to that plane.  I am your friend; I am everywhere; I am the all in all, and you are My own.”  This is our only fare for the journey.

Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“Follow the Angels - The Path of Dedication”
Part One: “Acquired Taste - Sraddha is More than Calculation”
http://bvml.org/SBRSM/FtA.html - Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library

Sunday, March 27, 2011

FIRST FEMALE VP CANDIDATE FERRARO DIES AT 75

GERALDINE FERRARO: 1935-2011
A TRAILBLAZER FOR WOMEN IN POLITICS
BOSTON - Geraldine Ferraro’s selection as Walter Mondale’s Democratic running mate in the 1984 presidential election made her a winner as far as history was concerned, despite an unsuccessful campaign that proved to be a tough political slog against a popular incumbent.  Her vice presidential bid, the first for a woman on a major party ticket, emboldened women across the country to seek public office and helped lay the groundwork for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential candidacy in 2008 and John McCain’s choice of his running mate, Sarah Palin, that year.   
Mondale’s campaign had struggled to gain traction and his selection of Ferraro, at least momentarily, revived his momentum and energized millions of women who were thrilled to see one of their own on a national ticket.
 
The blunt, feisty Ferraro charmed audiences initially, and for a time polls showed the Democratic ticket gaining ground on President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush.  But her candidacy ultimately proved rocky as she fought ethics charges and traded barbs with Bush over accusations of sexism and class warfare.  Ferraro later told an interviewer, “I don’t think I’d run again for vice president,” then added, “Next time I’d run for president.”  Reagan won 49 of 50 states in 1984, the largest landslide since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first re-election over Alf Landon in 1936.  
But Ferraro had forever sealed her place as trailblazer for women in politics.  Ferraro died Saturday in Boston, where the 75-year-old was being treated for complications of blood cancer.


Yesterday at 75 died Democrat Geraldine Ferraro who ran with Walter Mondale against President Ronald Reagan and George Bush in 1984.  “By choosing a woman to run, you send a powerful signal to all Americans: There are no doors we cannot unlock,” Ferraro said in her acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic convention.  In Hindu society, a woman’s place was very high from the earliest time, for example we always remember the two women seekers of the spiritual truth, Maitreyi and Gargi, who asked very searching questions.  They were two strong and forceful women Rishis of the ancient Vedic period.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
In Hindu society, a woman’s position and status also have undergone many changes. In the early Vedic period, women were barred from reading the Holy Scriptures. They were considered unhygienic and polluted during their menstrual periods and not even allowed to perform their normal domestic activities during this time. Views and attitudes, however, later changed. Perhaps the early prehistoric Indus-Saraswati culture showed the way, and women earned their rightful place. Along with male gods, there appeared many female goddesses, some of them even more powerful and more revered than their male counterparts. The male dominance of the Vedic era soon met its first challenge. In the Upanishads we encounter two very fierce female scholars, Maitreyi and Gargi, who pose most arduous and demanding questions to the learned sages.

Dr. Hiro Badlani:
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 9: “Vedas through the Passage of Time”
http://hinduismpath.com/  -  http://hinduismpath.com/book-contents/chapter-9/

Saturday, March 26, 2011

‘EARTH HOUR’ TO BE MARKED TODAY BY TURNING OFF LIGHTS

EARTH HOUR 2011: GLOBAL LIGHTS-OUT EVENT
TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
www.slate.com - Are you ready for Earth Hour? The fifth annual global green event, hosted by the World Wildlife Fund, asks citizens around the world to shut off lights for one hour today Saturday, March 26, at 8:30 p.m. local time, to raise awareness about climate change.  Students, corporates and environmental activists in many cities around the world are all set to switch off lights from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm on Saturday to observe Earth Hour.  The global movement in climate change, started by WWF, tries to create awareness of energy use and global warming by switching off non-essential lights for an hour.  Back in 2007, Sydney, Australia was the first city to darken its skies. In the years since, hundreds of millions of people in more than 100 countries have taken part.   

And famous attractions around the world will go dark to support the cause.  Times Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, Niagara Falls, the Opera House in Sydney, and many more landmarks around the world plan to douse the lights, according to Earth Hour’s website.  The annual initiative, organised by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is aimed at combating global warming and preserving the environment.  “Earth Hour calls for collective and individual action from all walks of life.  
Earth Hour 2011 also calls for actions to sustain commitments and responsible actions beyond the hour.  This year’s mantra is Switch off for one hour and switch on a low carbon lifestyle” said Rachel Pearlin, state director, WWF-India.  


Earth Hour 2011 is to be observed today between 8:30pm to 9:30pm local time - no matter what time zone you are in - by switching off lights to depict concern for climate change and global warming.  In order to create awareness about climate change millions of people around the world join a global call for direct action on climate change today.  It's of utmost importance to recuperate our capacity to value a way of life that is simple, healthful, and natural. It is also the only way to obtain health, beauty, youth, harmony, and prosperity.  The proposal of the wise is: “Simple Life with Elevated Thinking”.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Please, no more pain for Mother Earth!  We are part of the earth, and she is part of us.  The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the cow, horse, and great snake are our brothers. The rivers are our brothers and quench our thirst.  The air has priceless value.  We all share the same breath - the beast, the tree, man; all breathe the same air, and it shares its essence with the life that it sustains.  The freshness of the air, the force of the waters, the mighty pine tree, every grain of sand at the beach, every drop of dew in the forest, the sap that runs through the trees, even the sound of the insects sustain and soothe the lives of humankind on this planet.  The biological wellbeing of our earth, and the future of mankind are being ruined by the materialistic vision of society.
 

Friday, March 25, 2011

US SOLDIER SENT TO JAIL FOR MURDERING CIVILIANS

US SOLDIER SENTENCED TO 24 YEARS
IN PRISON IN AFGHAN MURDER CASE
Voice of America - The first of five US soldiers accused of posing for "trophy" photos with dead Afghans was sentenced to 24 years in prison Wednesday.  ‘Trophy’ pictures show US soldiers posing with corpses of Afghan civilians they are accused of killing for sport.  A U.S. soldier accused of being part of a squad that deliberately killed Afghan civilians pleaded guilty to murder and other charges Wednesday and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.  Morlock was the first of five soldiers to be court-martialed for murdering three civilians in southern Kandahar province last year. He is expected to testify against the other soldiers. He told the judge “the plan was to kill people.”  Morlock was charged with three counts of murder, and one count each of conspiracy to commit assault and battery, obstructing justice, and illegal drug use.  The victims were also allegedly mutilated and photographed.  The judge presiding over the case accepted a plea agreement, which spared Morlock a possible sentence of life in prison.

As part of the deal, Morlock must cooperate in the pending cases.  In court Wednesday, he apologized to the Afghan people and the families of the victims, and said that his actions not only broke the law but violated the US Army’s fundamental principles.  The German magazine Der Spiegel published photos this week of the soldiers and the dead victims.  The photographs show the results of a five-member group of soldiers who took to killing for sport.  Morlock was shown with another charged soldier, Private First-Class Andrew Holmes, holding up the head of one of the slain young victims, in the manner of victorious hunters with their kill.

‘Trophy’ pictures show US soldiers posing with corpses of Afghan civilians.  The court martial, in which these soldiers are accused of killing for sport, came days after the German news magazine Der Spiegel published photos showing American soldiers smiling over the bodies of dead Afghan civilians.  This reveals horrific evidence of the field of battle.  We constantly wander in the material worlds; by performing pious deeds, we enjoy, and by performing sins, we suffer.  Undoubtedly, cruelty or suffering inflicted on any living being certainly will cause harm to ourselves.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
The soul imprisoned by Maya travels on the wheel of karma.  Day after day he struggles to enjoy material pleasures and he tastes the fruits of his actions. ... Caught in a trap of many needs, the soul in a gross material body suffers.  To drive away these sufferings, he acts in many ways.  To drive away hunger and thirst, he struggles to get food and drink.  So these things may come easily, he labours to collect money. ... Tossed about by the six waves - lust, anger, greed, bewilderment, pride and envy - he engages in fighting, argument, violence to others, tormenting others, robbing others’ wealth, cruelty, senseless pride, and a host of other evil deeds.  So he can live independently, he builds his own house and performs other deeds.  In this way the soul in Maya’s prison struggles day and night to attain pleasure and stop distress.
 

Śrīla Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thākura :
“Mahaprabhura Siksa - Caitanya Siksamrta”
Chapter 11 - “Prayojana: The Ultimate Goal”

http://bvml.org/SBTP/MS/siksa-11.html 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

JERUSALEM BOMB: VICTIMS COVERED IN BLOOD’

NETANYAHU: ISRAEL WILL REACT FIRMLY
TO PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE IN JERUSALEM
www.indiaeveryday.in - Eyewitnesses give accounts of the scene moments after bomb explodes in central Jerusalem; paramedic who rushed to scene of the blast says he saw two women unconscious and covered in blood. Emergency services were still scrambling Wednesday to deal with the aftermath of a bomb that exploded at a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem.  A 59-year-old woman was killed and more than 30 people were wounded in the incident, three of them seriously. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel will react firmly, responsibly and wisely to a recent wave of Palestinian violence.

“The government, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Israeli public has an iron will to defend the country and its citizens,” Netanyahu said before boarding a flight to Russia.  “Israel will act firmly, responsibly and wisely to preserve the quiet and security that prevailed here over the past two years,” he assured.  “We have established a clear policy regarding security issues - a resolute reaction to every attempt to hurt our citizens,” he said.  Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in reaction to the bombing, threatened retaliation against Hamas.  “We will not tolerate the harming of Israeli citizens, not in the south and not in Jerusalem,” Barak said. “Hamas is responsible for the firing of rockets toward Be’er Sheva today and this responsibility has a price.”


One woman was killed and more than 30 others were injured after the blast at a crowded bus stop in central Jerusalem.  Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has pledged to act “aggressively and responsibly” to restore security after the bombing attack.  The Islamic attack was a “natural response” to this week’s Israeli strikes in Gaza, and now Israel is going to respond aggressively against Palestinian militants as a revenge for the bomb blast ... this is a story that never ends, because the desire for revenge - born of the modes of passion and ignorance - only creates more and more violence.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Indian saints have classified the nature of human beings in three broad groups - ‘Sattvika’, ‘Rajasika’ and ‘Tamasika’.  ‘Sattvika’ people are wise, sincere, generous and non violent.  As such they have an altruistic mentality and render disinterested (non-motivated) service.  ‘Rajasika’ people are egoists. However they are active and do good to others with the motive of getting a return of their actions for self-aggrandizement.  They won’t tolerate harm to themselves.  They have got the spirit of taking revenge.  ‘Tamasika’ people are indolent, out and out egoists and of violent temper.  They are indiscriminate in their pursuit of enjoyment; they completely disregard the interest of others and will do anything to fulfill their selfish desires.
 

Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Madhava Mahārāja :
“Realistic Solution for Diverse Humanity”
Speech at a ‘Spiritual Summit Conference’ - 1968 Calcutta.
Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math - http://www.sreecgmath.org/scgmtimes/scgmsbdm.php
 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE ERUPTS IN TRIPOLI

INTERNATIONAL AIRSTRIKES ON LIBYA
CONTINUE FOR A FOURTH NIGHT
 
www.voanews.com - Anti-aircraft fire rings out over the capital, Tripoli, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi try to ward off coalition airstrikes.  But there is no let up in the U.N.-backed mission, with British, French, U.S. and Dutch warplanes taking off from Italian soil, and plans in place to expand the coalition to 13 nations.  The aim is to control the airspace across northern Libya.  Left unclear - who will take charge after the U.S military relinquishes operational control.  Britain and Italy want NATO in command. France favors a committee of coalition nations and Arab partners.  The U.S. State Department downplayed the split.   Meanwhile, America’s military role in Libya faces objections among U.S. lawmakers.  Some object to President Barack Obama’s ordering military action without congressional consent.

Others, the added cost of involvement in another war.  Analyst Graeme Bannerman, with the Middle East Institute, says such criticism could affect Mr. Obama's legislative efforts.  Meanwhile, anti-aircraft crews began firing shortly after nightfall in the capital on Tuesday, four nights after an international military coalition launched an operation enforce a no-fly zone over the country.  The coalition air campaign suffered its first loss late Monday, with the crash of an American warplane in Libya. The U.S. Navy says both crewmembers ejected safely, after the aircraft encountered mechanical problems.  Despite the strikes, Gaddafi has remained defiant. The Libyan leader in televised remarks said Libya was “ready for battle, be it long or short”.

A U.N.-backed coalition is increasing its efforts to expand a no-fly zone over Libya and halt attacks on civilians by troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.  Gunfire and explosions shake the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for a fourth night as fighting rages on around the country between pro-democracy fighters and forces loyal to the Libyan leader.  In view of these current conflicts, we may wonder if the violence is justified and how we should apply the Gita's wisdom to this international fight.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Qualified violence is an unavoidable reality of this world, even when we view the world from a religious perspective.  Everyone embraces the principle of qualified violence on some level. ... The Gita opines that, should diplomacy fail, violent means are justifiable.  The Gita, however, speaks only in principle on the issue of qualified violence.  The current world crisis is far too complex to expect the Gita to provide a specific answer on how to proceed, militarily or otherwise.  Scripture does not provide pat answers for every human circumstance.  It provides revealed knowledge-as to the nature of God, the self, and its material predicament-that can help individuals make decisions about every aspect of human existence by considering the nature of ultimate reality.

Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“To Fight or Not Fight?  The Bhagavad-Gita and theIraq War”
Sri Caitanya Sanga - April 7, 2003, Vol. V, No. 8
http://www.swami.org/pages/sanga/2003/2003_8.php

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TODAY IS WORLD WATER DAY

WORLD WATER DAY 2011
OBSERVED TODAY THE WORLD OVER
www.voanews.com - The United Nations has designated March 22nd World Water Day, to focus attention on the importance of safe drinking water and to advocate for the sustainable management of water resources.  This year’s theme is “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge”.  The U.N. urges all - governments, policymakers, NGOs and citizens - to think about and take action on this most precious of natural resource.  It is the first time in human history that more of the world’s population are in cities than otherwise and that the urban population continues to grow.  Many of the population also occupy spaces of deprivation and live in slums.  Access to clean water and sanitation is an impossibility for these people and has therefore a tremendous consequence on morbidity and mortality.

Safe drinking water is fundamental to healthy lives and prosperous communities.  Every person needs at least twenty liters of water per day for drinking and sanitation needs alone.  Yet nearly a billion people world-wide do not have access to drinking water from an improved source, and more than 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation for adequate disposal of human waste.  This leads to greater illness and lives cut short.  
According to the WHO, each year, an estimated four billion people get sick with diarrhea as a result of drinking unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene.  Nearly two million people die from diarrhea each year, and many of them children under the age of five, poor, and living in the developing world.


The ONU wants to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth.  Half of humanity now lives in cities and this creates unprecedented challenges.  As populations and industry expand, they contribute new sources of pollution and increased demand for clean water.  Safe drinking water is fundamental to healthy lives and prosperous communities, but a lack of safe drinking water and sanitation results in faecal-oral diseases such as diarrhoea and outbreaks of malaria and cholera.  The Vedic style of living always kept an ecological balance, which was achieved through the harmonic relationship between human settlements, forests and water resources.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Vrajbhumi, the region around Vrindavan, always had a very good environmental balance, following the traditional pattern of Hindu India. ... Another essential part of the traditional ecology of the villages is the water tank, or reservoir of rainwater. These tanks vary in size from small ponds to large lakes of up to four acres excavated to a depth of twenty feet or more, with steps built into their sides for access. They are situated in the natural depressions in the ground, where they can best receive the surface rainwater. Most tanks contain one to four bore-holes, depending on the tank’s size, to feed surplus rainwater down to the underlying ground water. In this way every year the abundance of monsoon rain is captured and the ground water replenished to ensure a constant supply of sweet water.

Ranchor Prime (Śrīpad Ranchor Dasa) :
“Hinduism & Ecology - Seeds of Truth”  
Chapter 3 : “Forest Splendour”
Friends of Vrindavan (FOV) - WWF  
http://www.fov.org.uk/hinduism/hinduism.html

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 MEATOUT

GREAT AMERICAN MEATOUT
PROMOTES NONVIOLENT DIET
www.meatout.org - On (or around) March 20, thousands of caring people in all 50 U.S. states and two dozen other countries get active to host educational events for Meatout- the world’s largest grassroots diet education campaign.  Activists distribute free food, educate their communities, and ask their friends, families, and neighbors to “kick the meat habit” and explore a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Meatout is an international observance helping individuals evolve to a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains. The purpose is to expose the public to the joys and benefits of a plant-based diet, while promoting the availability alternatives to meat and dairy in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations.
 
Meatout has grown explosively since its inception in 1985 to become the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education campaign.  Meatout’s supporters include animal, environmental, public interest and consumer protection advocates; health care providers, educators, meat-free food manufacturers and retailers; mass media, public officials and celebrity entertainers.  Thousands of caring people in all 50 U.S. states and a host of other countries welcome Spring with colorful educational events.  Meatout was launched in 1985 and is coordinated each year by FARM, a national nonprofit, public interest organization, which advocates plant-based (vegan) diets to save animals, protect the environment, and improve health.


Metout in USA and AnimaNaturalis in Spain organize events around the world which range from simple information tables, exhibits, and cooking demonstrations to big festivals.  Supporters are deeply concerned about the devastation to consumer and environmental health wrought by intensive meat production and consumption. These organizations not only promote better food choices, but also support a positive future for the planet.  Apart from bringing severe sinful reactions, meat-eating also dulls the human intellect thus rendering it incapable of understanding the higher dimensions of life.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
Eating of cow flesh or the flesh of any other animal, the motivation behind slaughter, is detrimental to the health of human beings. For example, ... non-nutritive substances tend to be irritants and therefore carcinogenic. ... Many studies in cancer research reveal that areas in which meat-eating is highest tend to have the highest cancer rate, while vegetarian areas generally have a far lower rate. ... The smells from dead animal carcasses and dead fish are horrible and can only be tolerated by intoxication or other dulling of the senses. Most children have to be forced to eat the first portions of meat or fish. Vegetarian foods, on the other hand, are colourful, pleasing to the eyesight, to the sense of smell and to the palate.

VEDA - Vedic Knowledge Online :
Spiritual Practice: “Hidden Price of Meat.”
http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz
http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/bhaktiyoga/change.htm

Sunday, March 20, 2011

HOLI: PLAYFUL CELEBRATION OF DIVINE LOVE

SPRING FESTIVAL OF HOLI AND
GAURA PURNIMA CELEBRATION
www.chron.com - There’s a divine message amid the messy, playful and intensely colorful Hindu spring festival of Holi.  And it’s the same theme that’s lived out through much of the religion’s worship and practice: the joy of divine love.  Without restrictions, Hindus toss powders, squirt water and joke around, just as the divinities of Lord Krishna and his lover Radha gleefully exchange colors.  The festival has its origins in the story of Prahlad, whose devotion to Lord Vishnu allowed him to survive a burning pyre while his evil aunt Holika died.  Holi takes its name from Holika and honors the triumph of love over evil.  For Hare Krishna devotees, Holi also falls on the day of Gaura Purnima, the anniversary of the appearance of Lord Chaitanya, who’s believed to be a contemporary incarnation of Krishna that lived 500 years ago as a social reformer in India.

In honor of him, thousands will gather at the local temple for one of their biggest celebrations of the year.  “It’s like a birthday, but it’s called the “appearance day” because we don’t believe God is birthed. He just appears and reappears to us,” Advaita Chandra Das said.  The Hare Krishna mantra of reciting the divine names of God dates to Chaitanya.  “He was able to teach by his own example on how to love God,” he said. “Different people have different opinions on how to surrender to God … and Lord Chaitanya emphasized chanting, singing and dancing,” which was part of yesterday’s festival celebration.


A classic Hindu celebration of renewal in nature: the spring festival of Holi came as a welcome respite this weekend.  Holi festival also falls on the Gaura Purnima day, which marks the appearance of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534), who is Radha and Krishna combined; the Golden Avatar who inaugurated the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, which is the remedy for all the ills of Kaliyuga.  He is known as mahā-vadānyāvatāra, the most magnanimous and merciful incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for He does not consider the offenses of the fallen souls.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the full-moon evening in the month of Phālguna, an auspicious time full of auspicious symptoms, when Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advented Himself with the chanting of the holy name, Hare Krishna.  On the full-moon evening of the month of Phālguna when the Lord took birth, coincidentally there was also a lunar eclipse.  In jubilation everyone was chanting the holy name of the Lord - “Hari! Hari!” - and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then appeared, after first causing the appearance of the holy name.  At His birth, in His childhood and in His early and later boyhood, as well as in His youth, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, under different pleas, induced people to chant the holy name of Hari [the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra].

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Śrī Caitanya Caritāmrita - Ādi-līlā - Chapter 13
“The Advent of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu”
Verses 19, 20, 21 and 22 - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase


Saturday, March 19, 2011

IMPRESSIVE ‘SUPERMOON’ TO SHINE SATURDAY

TODAY ‘SUPERMOON’ LUNACY:
DOES THE MOON MAKE US CRAZY?
http://news.yahoo.com - With the so-called “supermoon” upon us, as our only natural satellite makes its largest appearance Saturday (March 19) in more than 18 years, should we expect any lunacy?  The moon will be more than 221,960 miles away- the closest it has been to earth since March 1993.  For centuries legend has held that full moons make people go crazy.  Full moons have been linked in popular culture with a rise in suicides and even epileptic seizures, but there’s little to no scientific evidence backing these ideas up.  However, the moon is a powerful body, its gravity tugging on our oceans to control tides, and its light thought to impact ancient animal behaviors.

 
Before modern lighting, the moon played a larger role in people’s sleep-wake cycles, and so the light of a full moon may have kept people up at night, leading to sleep deprivation that could have caused other psychological issues.  In nature, the moon is nothing to scoff at.  Animals time routine activities around the light, and the oceans’ tides depend on it.  The moon and the sun combine to create tides in Earth’s oceans (the gravitational effect is so strong that our planet’s crust gets stretched daily by these tidal effects).  But tides are large-scale events.  They occur because of the difference in the gravitational pull felt on the side of the Earth closest to the moon, compared to the side of the Earth farthest.  Astronomers, astrologists and amateur scientists are abuzz on Internet chat sites this week about Saturday's “supermoon”.

A bigger and brighter “supermoon” will appear today Saturday.  This big full moon makes its closest approach to Earth in nearly 20 years.  Apart from this scientific aspect, today is the celebration of Gaura Purnima, to honor the day when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took His birth under the full moon, purnima.  The full moon of the vernal season is compared with Lord Sri Krishna.  He has not been compared with any full moon of every month in any season, but the full moon of the spring which shines in all its excellence, as the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna shines in all His glories.

WHAT DO THE VEDIC TEACHINGS TELL US? 
According to Mukta-pragraha Nyaya, Krsna alone has been described as Vidhuh, i.e. “One who cuts at the very root of all miseries and transcends all”, or, “One who gives the highest and every possible felicity and happiness to one and all without any distinction”.  So also, the mundane moon is called Vidhuh as it removes miseries of all, caused by the darkness of the night or the heat of the day, and gives happiness and pleasure to all without any distinction.  Again, as Krsna alone has been described as Vidhuh and not any of His other Manifestations or Divine Descents or Avataras, so also in the mundane comparison the Full Moon alone should here be called Vidhuh and not any part of the moon, because the full moon alone is most powerful in dispelling the intensity of the darkness of the night.

Śrīla Bhakti Hridaya Bon (Vana) Mahārāja :
“Sri Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh”
Comments to Eastern Division of the Ocean:  First Wave, Text 1.
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library - http://bvml.org/SHBM/index.htm