Religion as a divisive force
The Taliban gets tough on non-Muslims.
The ruling Taliban in Afghanistan has issued a decree asking the Hindus in the country to identify themselves by wearing yellow cloth and follow the Shariat or face prosecution.
As per the latest decree, Hindus will be required also to tie their houses with a piece yellow cloth measuring two metres and Hindus and Muslims cannot live in the same house.
The decree has barred the Hindus from constructing new places of worship. The places of worship once destroyed cannot be built again. Hindus and Sikhs constitute a tiny part of Afghanistan`s religious minority and many of their establishments have been pulled down in the past.
Many Hindus and Sikhs have fled Afghanistan after the coming of the hardline Taliban regime.Religion as a cohesive force.
China invites Kanchi seer on a tour.
China has invited the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Sri Jayendra Saraswati, on a tour of China from October 10-17th of this year. The Shankaracharya is among a handful of major religious leaders worldwide who have ever been invited by officially atheist China. Sri Jayendra Saraswati will meet Li Peng, the second-most important leader in all China as well as Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji. He will also meet Buddhist and Taoist leaders in Shanghai.
The Shankaracharya`s trip is being described as a "civilisational journey", in the manner of the ancient travellers who travelled from India to the Middle Kingdom and back. The Shankaracharya and his 15-member team will travel across China to the old cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Significantly, during the week the Shankaracharya will visit, Beijing will also throw open the gates of the formerly forbidden city to Hindu devotees from the rest of the world, Kanchi sources said.
Mangalsutra incident is false.
The TTD went blue in the face denying that the infamous `mangalsutra` incident took place.
In early January, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams sought to reassure the public that the rumour about the reported `falling down` of the holy Mangalsutra of Goddess Padmavati was false.
According to a rumour that was circulating in the temple town, the deity`s Mangalsutra `fell` down. This is regarded as an extremely inauspicious omen for married women. This set off mass hysteria among the devotees. They rushed off to buy new Mangalsutras which is regarded as a way of warding off any evil calamity.
However the TTD refuted such reports in a press release. They stated such rumours to be baseless and urged the pilgrims not to pay heed to such rumours floated by `vested interests`. A patriot preacher.
"To preach unto men their Divinity and how to make It manifest in every movement of life". This is how Swami Vivekananda expressed his ideal. This patriot saint of modern India was the one who stirred up the dormant national consciousness of his countrymen and became India`s spiritual ambassador to the West.
Born in 1863 in Calcutta as Narendra Nath Datta, he was deeply spiritual from an early age. (For more information on his early days.The search for the mystery of creation took him to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who eventually became his guru. His mind, like his guru`s had a natural tendency to soar above the world and forget itself in the contemplation of the Absolute. But his heart also bled for the suffering millions of the world. He was a lover of mankind and yearned for human brotherhood and peace.
For information on the Vedanta philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekanada,The Parliament of Religions
At the Parliament of Religions held at Chicago in 1893 Swami Vivekananda represented Hinduism. At a time when the West regarded India as a land of barbarians, he proclaimed the greatness of Indian culture and Hinduism. He made a lasting impression on all those present with his deep spiritual insight, knowledge of the cultures of the East and the West and brilliant eloquence. He made an impassioned plea for better understanding between India and the New World in order to create a healthy synthesis of East and West, of religion and science.He tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the West through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy and in the process won many followers all over the world.
Swami Vivekananda preached that the gist of all worship is to be pure and do good to all. "See God in all"- he said. "Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within, by controlling nature, internal and external. Do this by work or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy - by one or more, or all of these - and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or temples, or books, or forms are but secondary details".
Swami Vivekananda spent a mere ten years of his life of thirty-nine years in the service of mankind. In this short time he wrote four outstanding treatises on Hindu Philosophy - Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga. Besides this, he delivered innumerable lectures all over the world, wrote inspired letters in his own hand to his friends and disciples and composed poetry. for a collection of his poems). He also acted as a spiritual guide for those who came to him for instruction. He also organized the Ramakrishna Order of monks, which is devoted to the propagation of the Hindu spiritual culture not only in India, but also in America and in other parts of the world.
William James, the Harvard philosopher, called Swami Vivekananda the "paragon of Vedanta". Romain Rolland writes " His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years` distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero"! The life and teachings of Swami Viv