Separatists in Kashmir offer to help rebuild temples

5 04 2009

Karachi News.Net
Wednesday 1st April, 2009 (ANI)

Srinagar, Apr 1 : Separatists in Kashmir have offered to help rebuild and renovate temples damaged during the near two decades militancy. asin Malik, chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Muhammad, said that a committee could be formed for the purpose, stressing that it should be “apolitical”.

“We have asked them to initiate a non-political committee. We will provide them with whatever help they need to renovate the temples. The committee will comprise people related to civil societies, intellectuals, students, Kashmiri pandits and it must be non-political,” Malik said during a visit to a photo exhibition here on the deteriorating state of temples.

Kashmiri Hindus, or Pandits as they are locally called, say that soon after their mass exodus when an armed insurgency broke in 1989, successive State Governments have neglected their places of worship.

With some of the temples burnt by the separatist in early nineties, the rest of these historical temples are in shambles as there are no caretakers.

“It took us two years to collect these photographs. We wanted to show these pictures to the Kashmiri society before approaching the State Government or the Central Government,” said Sanjay Tikoo, President, Pandit Sangharsh Samiti.

More than 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus were earlier present in the state, but now only 3,000 have been left behind.

The Kashmiri Hindus say that there are more than 565 temples in Kashmir valley and some of them are more than 3,000 years old.

Ahilyabai Holkar:A Magnificent Ruler, Saintly Administrator

30 05 2008

Courtesy: Manushi

India has had many female rulers, warrior women and poet queens, but Ahilyabai Holkar commands more affection and respect for her accomplishments during her 30-year-long reign than any other does. She was noted for her piety, for her administrative ability, for her keen interest in all her people and for an extraordinary amount of building at holy sites all over the country. Her rule of Malwa in the 18th century is still cited as a model of benevolent and effective government. Ahilyabai was born in 1725 in the village of Chondi, in Bhid district, Maharashtra. Her father, Mankoji Shinde, was the patil of the village, a member of the proud Dhangar community. Women then did not go to school, but Ahilyabai’s father taught her to read and write. Her mother also seems to have been a well-read and pious woman. Her entrance on to the stage of history was something of an accident: Malhar Rao Holkar, a commander in the service of the Peshwa Bajirao and lord of the Malwa territory, stopped in Chondi on his way to Pune and, according to legend, saw the eight-year-old Ahilyabai at the temple service in the village. Recognising her piety and her character, he brought the girl to the Holkar territory as a bride for his weak son, Khande Rao. Ahilyabai’s husband was killed in battle in 1754. Twelve years later, her father-in-law, Malhar Rao died. From 1766 until her death in 1795, she ruled Malwa, trained in both administrative and military matters by Malhar Rao. A letter to her from Malhar Rao in 1765 illustrates the trust he had in her ability during the tempestuous battle for power in the 18th century: “Proceed to Gwalior after crossing the Chambal. You may halt there for four or five days. You should keep your big artillery and arrangeforits ammunition as much as possible….On the march you should arrange for military posts being located for protection of the road.” Already trained to be a ruler, Ahilyabai petitioned the Peshwa after Malhar’s death, and the death of her son, to take over the administration herself. Some in Malwa objected to her assumption of rule, but the army of Holkar was enthusiastic about her leadership. She had led them in person, with four bows and quivers of arrows fitted to the corners of the howdah of her favourite elephant. The Peshwa granted permission, and, with Tukoji Holkar (not a relative) as the head of military matters, she proceeded to rule Malwa in a most enlightened manner, even reinstating a Brahmin who had opposed her. Ahilyabai never observed purdah but held daily public audience and was always accessible to anyone who needed her ear. The administrator and historian, Sir John Malcolm wrote most enthusiastically about her abilities some 40 years after her death: “Her first principle of government appears to have been moderate assessment, and an almost sacred respect for the native rights of village officers and proprietors of land. She heard every complaint in person; and although she continually referred cases to courts of equity and arbitration, and to her ministers for settlement, she was always accessible. So strong was her sense of duty on all points connected with the distribution of justice, that she is represented as not only patient but unwearied in the investigation of the most insignificant cases, when appeals were made to her decision.” A contemporary American historian, Stewart Gordon, adds that a definite proof of her ability as a ruler was that her territories in Malwa were not attacked or disrupted by local battles during her reign, in spite of wars all around. According to Gordon, “Ahilyabai had one of the most stable reigns of the 18th century.” And Malcolm adds that she kept, almost to the man, the same set of ministers and administrators throughout her reign. Among Ahilyabai’s accomplishments was the development of Indore from a small village to a prosperous and beautiful city; her own capital, however, was in nearby Maheshwar, a town on the banks of the Narmada river. She also built forts and roads in Malwa, sponsored festivals and gave donations for regular worship in many Hindu temples. Outside Malwa, she built dozens of temples, ghats, wells, tanks and rest-houses across an area stretching from the Himalayas to pilgrimage centres in South India. The Bharatiya Sanskritikosh lists as sites she embellished, Kashi, Gaya, Somnath, Ayodhya, Mathura, Hardwar, Kanchi, Avanti, Dwarka, Badrinarayan, Rameshwar and Jaganathpuri. Ahilyabai also rejoiced when she saw bankers, merchants, farmers and cultivators rise to levels of affluence, but did not consider that she had any legitimate claim to any of that wealth, be it through taxes or feudal right. She must, in fact, have financed all her activities with the lawful gains obtained from a happy and prosperous land. There are many stories of her care for her people. She helped widows retain their husbands’ wealth. She made sure that a widow was allowed to adopt a son; in fact, in one instance, when her minister refused to allow the adoption unless he was suitably bribed, she is said to have sponsored the child herself, and given him clothes and jewels as part of the ritual. To honour the memory of Ahilyabai Holkar, in 1996 leading citizens of Indore instituted an award in her name to be bestowed annually on an outstanding public figure. The then prime minister of India gave away the first award to Nanaji Deshmukh. The only time Ahilyabai seems not to have been able to settle a conflict peacefully and easily was in the case of the Bhils and Gonds, “plunderers” on her borders; but she granted them waste hilly lands and the right to a small duty on goods passing through their territories. Even in this case, according to Malcolm, she did give “considerate attention to their habits”. Ahilyabai’s capital at Maheshwar was the scene of literary, musical, artistic and industrial enterprise. She entertained the famous Marathi poet, Moropant and the shahir, Anantaphandi from Maharashtra, and also patronised the Sanskrit scholar, Khushali Ram. Craftsmen, sculptors and artists received salaries and honours at her capital, and she even established a textile industry in the city of Maheshwar. One of her old retainers told Malcolm the facts of her daily life: She rose an hour before daybreak to say prayers. Then she had scriptures read to her, distributed alms and gave food to a number of Brahmins. Her breakfast, as indeed all her meals, was vegetarian. After breakfast, she prayed again, and then took a short rest. From two to six she was in her durbar; after religious exercises and a light meal, she again attended to business from nine to eleven. Her life was marked by prayer, abstinence and work, with religious fasts, festivals and public emergencies affording the only change in this routine. Her devotion was to Shiva, although she respected all religions. “Shri Shankara” appeared on all royal proclamations along with her signature. In spite of all that is known about the warrior queen and all that she has left behind—timeless testimonies of her imagination and beneficence—she has not, in my opinion, been given the recognition that she rightfully deserves. Visitors to Varanasi know of the golden domed temple of Vishvanath, Lord of the World, in the heart of the city. Pilgrims headed for Pandharpur, a major sacred site in Maharashtra, go a little further along the same route to Mangalvadhe, to a place called Gopalpur, a large endowment for religious travellers. Both are part of Ahilyabai’s building and charitable legacy. It is said that she even repaired the road from Varanasi to Calcutta, as well as other routes to sites of pilgrimage. Historians of the 19th and 20th centuries—Indian, English and American—agree that the reputation of Ahilyabai Holkar in Malwa and Maharashtra was then, and is, even now, that of a saint. Nothing has ever been discovered by any researcher to discredit that. She was truly a magnificent woman, an able ruler and a great queen.

Eleanor Zelliott
Manushi, Issue 124 (May-June 2001)

Hindu Collective Initiative of North America and FACT

5 01 2008

Courtesy : India Post News Service

December 14, 15, 16 at the University of Central Florida

ORLANDO: A conference of Hindu leaders was held recently at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando by the Hindu Collective Initiative of North America, a collaborative body of Hindu organizations and temples across North America. The conference brought together more than one hundred eminent religious scholars, academicians, authors, intellectual thought leaders and activists from across the US and a number of delegates from the UK, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago.

The conference was hosted by the Hindu University of America The conference opened with a thought provoking discussion on the current situation in India where the central government, and state governments, while loudly proclaiming themselves as secular, exercises total control on Hindu temples, as though they are government properties.

This is even more egregious where the heads of the states and majority of legislators are Christians, communists, atheists, and/or avowed anti-Hindus. While almost universally unknown to the rest of the world, the Government of India ruthlessly tramples on the fundamental principles of separation of church and state, which is the corner stone of the secular form of government in every democratic nation in the world.

Even in non-democratic nations, for example, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, no government controls the religious organizations or the places of worship the way Government of India controls Hindu temples.It was decided that a group of religious leaders, retired Supreme Court judges, as well as academic and legal experts, will hold a conference on the correct relationship between government and religion, in New Delhi next year, following which a petition will be filed against the Indian government for their illegal and immoral control over the management of Hindu temples and the illegal appropriation of their funds.

Alternative models of management were discussed including the option of a Hindu Devalaya Prabandhak Committee in every state that would manage the temples, just as Sikh Gurudwaras are managed by the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committees in Punjab. The HCINA general secretary, Dr Ved Prakash Chaudhary, asked, “What kind of secularism is this? Why are they taking control of only Hindu temples and siphoning off the money to the treasury?

Why they do not take over the management of a gurudwara, a mosque or a church? What kind of separation of church and state is that? We are unanimous that this is a most egregious situation that must be changed as soon as possible,” Chaudhary said. The Hindu community in the US has been protesting against the takeover of several temples in Andhra Pradesh. During the recent visit to the US, of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Reddy, protests were held at several major cities he visited.

It is well known that corrupt government officials and politicians abuse the funds collected in temples for their own personal use and that this is the main reason why government controls the management of wealthy Hindu temples.There was also extensive discussion and grave concern expressed about human rights abuses of Hindus all over the world, including in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Malaysia. A graphic exhibition on Hindu human rights violations in Bangladesh and Kashmir, prepared by FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) and organized by Utsav Chakrabarti, was inaugurated by well-known Hindu philanthropist, Braham Aggarwal.

It was decided that Hindu watch dog organizations will monitor the situation very closely, disseminate information rapidly, seek alliances with human rights groups to keep pressure on the governments of these countries and keep this issue in the contemporary media spotlight.The Summit leaders expressed a sense of urgency that the Government of India should pay more attention to the human rights issues in Kashmir, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Malaysia – where the lives of hundreds of thousands of Hindus are involved.

“We will soon be approaching the Government of India with a proposal to protect these endangered Hindus,” Chaudhary said.The Summit also discussed issues affecting Hindus living in North America. A committee of academic experts will be formed to prepare supplementary materials for schools in the United States. The supplementary materials will be distributed to teachers, libraries and schools all over the US so that correct information is presented to students about Hinduism and Indian culture.

An important session on ‘Community Building and Infrastructure Development within Hindu organizations’ highlighted the need to develop sustainable social services connected with the temples, in a culturally and religiously sensitive manner. The temple support is essential as it is a sacred sanctuary and most secure place for a minority group.

The additional social services will bring completeness and affirm that God is with them.The need for a degree program integrating Vedic/holistic healthcare paradigm with the modern healthcare systems and setting standards for Hindu Chaplaincy was also discussed. A Masters program is needed on par with the Board Certified Chaplains of other religions already operative in schools, prisons, military, hospice and modern hospital facilities.

This would take the Vedic traditions beyond temples to reach out to the individuals and families who need support for their physical, mental and spiritual health.A session relating to youth issues such as inter-faith marriages, effects on family, progeny and culture and accepting western (non-born Hindus) as Hindus drew much interest. Another session focused on the USCIS proposed changes to the religious worker visas (the so called R1 visa) and the need for Hindu community maintaining liaison with government and elected officials.

The conference was attended by Paramacharya Palaniswami, editor-in-chief of Hinduism Today, Stephen Knapp, author of more than a dozen books on Hindus and Hinduism, Satnarayan Maharaj, secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago, Chandresh Sharma, Member of Parliament, Trinidad and Tobago, Abhinav Dwivedi, Vice President of Hindu University of America, Janeshwari Devi, Director Public Relations, Barsana Dham, Frank Morales, a scholar in Hindu philosophy and Hindu Temple Acharya, and Jeffrey Armstrong, a Hindu Spiritual teacher, Vedic Astrologer and award-winning author from Canada.Prominent among others who attended the three-day meet were Bawa Jain, secretary general, World Council of Religious Leaders, Mihir Meghani, President of the Hindu American Foundation, Anju Bhargava, President of Asian Indian Women of America and a Community Builder Fellow (President Clinton’s White House initiative), Anuja Prashar, founder of “Transnational Indian Identity” from UK, Dr Piyush Agrawal, national co-coordinator USA of GOPIO; Hindu Students Council president Harsh Vellanki, and executive director Varun Mehta and professors Dr Balram Singh, Dr TS Rukmani, and Dr Siva Bajpai.

The mission of HCINA is to serve as a collective body of Hindu organizations in North America; to facilitate networking and collaboration to address issues of common concern and benefits and to coordinate collective initiatives to promote the understanding, practice and propagation of Hindu Dharma and culture through proper education and public policy. HCINA was formed more than two years ago in August 2005 at the first Dharma Summit held at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Malaysian Hindus rally and the govt asks Media to self censor on Ethnic Indian crackdown

6 12 2007


Agitating Indians have LTTE links: Malaysia
From Rediff
Jaishree Balasubramanian in Kuala Lumpur

December 07, 2007 19:10 IST
In a new twist to the ongoing spat between Malaysian authorities and agitating ethnic Indians, the government has accused protesters of seeking help from “terrorists and local gangsters” including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a charge the campaigners said was an attempt to put them in jail under an archaic internal security law.
Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan said recent investigations have revealed that the campaign group, Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), “has been actively canvassing for support and assistance from terrorist groups”.
The links were discovered following intense police investigations in the past six months into Hindraf’s activities, reports said.

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Repression of Malaysian Hindus unacceptable: Anwar Ibrahim
From The Hindu

Mumbai (PTI): Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, on Saturday condemned Kuala Lumpur’s crackdown on protests by ethnic Hindu citizens last week describing it as “unacceptable”.
Talking to the media at the Islamic Peace Conference here, Ibrahim also defended reactions in India, saying that “every country has a right to express its views diplomatically.”
“In this age, you can’t say that any repression should not be condemned because its country’s internal affair…to say `lay off’ does not work…,” Ibrahim said while referring to the remarks by Malaysian Minister Nazri Aziz against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi who had raised concerns over the “marginalisation” of ethnic Indians in that country.
“Malaysia supports Palestinians…what if Israelis says `lay off’?” he asked.

From The Hindu Newspaper for a complete piece of the news Click here

Malaysian PM hits back
12/2/2007 8:48:46 PM

Malaysia hits back, tells India not to interfere
Malaysia has told India not to meddle in its internal affairs after New Delhi expressed concerns over the treatment of ethnic Indians in Muslim-majority Malaysia. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the government would deal with citizens according to its own laws and no other country should interfere.

On November 30, more than 10,000 Malaysian Indians staged the community’s biggest anti-government protest, sparked by anger over policies they say prevent them from getting decent jobs or a good education for their children. Police used tear gas and water canons to disperse the protesters, many of them Tamils with their roots in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, sparking outrage and demands from Tamil politicians that New Delhi intervene.

“If they break any law, it is our right to deal with them in accordance with Malaysian laws,” Syed Hamid was quoted as saying. India said that it was concerned about the treatment of ethnic Indians in Malaysia and had taken up with Kuala Lumpur accusations that protesters from the community had been harassed. “The government remains deeply solicitous for the welfare of people of Indian origin living abroad,” Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Parliament.

From Times Now TV complete article click here

Malaysian opposition seeks task force on ethnic Indians’ problems

Submitted by Mudassir Rizwan on Thu, 12/06/2007 – 06:47.

Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia’s parliamentary opposition has urged Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi to head a task force to study problems facing ethnic Indians, citing a fall in the number of government jobs they hold.

The demand came on Wednesday even as a lawmaker belonging to the Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition, disapproved of use of force by the police against a rally of Tamils on November 25.
Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, who represents Ipoh Timur in parliament, told the media in the parliament lobby that the cabinet should set up a special task force headed by the Prime Minister to resolve the problems faced by the Indians, The Star newspaper said.
“The cabinet should come out with a new policy for a new deal to end this,” he said.
“The number of Indians in the civil service has also plunged in the past 34 years, from 17.4 percent in 1971 to 5.12 percent in 2005,” he added.

From the Indian Muslim for a complete article click here

Malaysia’s ‘Tectonic Shift’
By Rose Ismail

From the Wall street journal

It’s rally season in Kuala Lumpur. Last month, around 40,000 opposition parties, trade unions and non-governmental organizations braved thunderstorms and roadblocks to demand clean and fair elections. Two weeks ago, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) demonstrated, demanding fair treatment for Malaysian Indians. A fracas broke out and some 200 people were arrested.
These rallies are clearly not for the faint-hearted, as each one has been preceded by stern statements from the government, which included warnings about invoking the Internal Security Act. But they have a deeper import, beyond the threat of jail: These protests indicate a tectonic shift in …….. For a complete article subscribe here


Malaysian Hindus protest genocide, temple demolitionHindu civil disobedience movement launched

“Malaysian Indians have never gathered in such large numbers in this way…,” said organiser P. Uthaya Kumar of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf). “They are frustrated and have no job opportunities in the government or the private sector. They are not given business licences or places in university,” he said, adding that Indians were also incensed by some recent demolitions of Hindu temples.

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Malaysian media told to self-censor reports on ethnic Indian crackdown

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia’s government has told the mainstream media not to sensationalize a crackdown on ethnic Indians following an unprecedented rally against racial discrimination in Muslim-majority Malaysia, officials said.
Che Din Yusoh, a senior official with the Internal Security Ministry, said newspaper editors had been given “verbal advice” not to highlight sensitive issues related to the Nov. 25 rally by at least 20,000 ethnic Indians that police broke up by force.

“Don’t sensationalize what police are doing. Don’t give a very negative picture … We have guidelines on publication, and they have to implement (self) censorship,” he told The Associated Press late Wednesday.

Malaysiakini, an independent Internet news portal, reported Wednesday that top editors of all dailies were summoned by the government for a meeting, and were told not to give prominence to Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, the group that is leading the Indian unrest.
An editor of a Tamil-language daily, catering to Indians, confirmed the meeting took place Tuesday. He told the AP that the government advised all chief editors to be “very careful” about “sharp wordings,” especially in headlines. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

From the International Herald Tribune for a complete article please click here