Vasudev Kutumbakam

September 2009 International Day of Peace the General Assembly decided that 21 September would be observed annually as a “day of global ceasefire and non-violence” and invited all Member States, organizations and individuals to commemorate the day, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of a global ceasefire. Disarmament and Non-Proliferation T he International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence.

This year the Secretary-General is calling on governments and citizens to focus on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. On 13 June 2009, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a multiplatform campaign under the slogan WMD—“We Must Disarm” to mark the 100-day countdown leading up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September. During the 100 days of the campaign, the United Nations raised awareness of the dangers and costs of nuclear weapons by issuing a reason a day on why nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are so crucial, via Twitter and the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.

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The Secretary-General had been joined in the campaign by United Nations Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas, who has championed the cause of disarmament for the United Nations since 1998, and American actor Rainn Wilson, featured in the TV series The Office. Everyone can take action by signing a Declaration to support the Secretary-General’s drive to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and by submitting their own reasons why “We Must Disarm”. The International Day of Peace was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people. Twenty years later, www. un. org Sydney’s Celebrations for UN International Day of Peace M artin Place played host to a 14 hour peace vigil as Sydneysiders, city workers, school children and tourists came together to celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, Monday 21 September 2009. Coordinated by the Ministry for Peace for the fourth year in a row, the vigil marked the United Nations’ global call for ceasefire and non-violence, with Sydney displaying the city’s desire for a peaceful existence on the day.

The event was telecast for the first time to the city of Assisi, known worldwide as the ‘city of peace. ’ Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia presented a Peace Concert at 9:30 am. The peace concert featured various artists of diverse heritages living in Australia. Peace Concert performed by Mahmood Khan and band presented by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia 22 September 2009, Martin Place, Sydney 2 7. 3 September 2009 President’s Page September the Month for Peace Nine Eleven

While in the recent times September eleven is remembered for the dreadful and ghastly New York attacks we remember it as day of hope for the long lasting peace. It was 11 September 1893 when Swami Vivekananda delivered his famous speech at the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago invoking the inherent unity in the messages of all the religions of the world: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all ead to Thee. ” Mahatma Gandhi taught that non-violence was inseparable from all other aspects of living. His argument about the unity of all things emphasized that opportunities to explore principles of non-violence existed even in the smallest details of life, from the practice of one’s own religion to the tolerance of religious differences, from due courtesy to one’s opponents to careful attention to hygiene and sanitation. It was September 11, 1906 when Satyagraha was launched by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi).

Nearly three thousand persons filled the Imperial Theatre in Johannesburg. The big hall throbbed with the din of voices which spoke the Tamil and Telugu languages of southern India, Gujarati and Hindi. The few women wore saris. The men wore European and Indian clothes; some had Hindu turbans and caps, some Moslem headgear. Among them were rich merchants, miners, lawyers, indentured labourers, waiters, rickshaw boys, domestic servants, hucksters and poor shopkeepers.

Many were delegates representing the eighteen thousand Indians of the Transvaal, now a British colony; they were meeting to decide what to do about pending discriminatory enactments against Indians. Abdul Gani, Chairman of the Transvaal British-Indian Association and Manager of a big business firm, presided. Sheth Haji Habib delivered the main address. Mohandas K. Gandhi sat on the platform. Gandhi had convened the meeting. On returning from service to the Zulus, and after acquainting Kasturba with his celibacy vow, he had rushed off to Johannesburg in answer to summons from the Indian community.

The Transvaal Government Gazette of August 22nd, 1906, had printed the draft of an ordinance to be submitted to the legislature. If adopted, Gandhi decided, it would spell absolute ruin for the Indians of South Africa. ‘… Better die than submit to such a law’. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness arrived in New York on 11 September 1965 with his mission of Peace on earth through spirituality. Prabhupada sailed to USA.

His trip to the United States was not sponsored by any religious organization, nor was he met upon arrival by a group of loyal followers. As he neared his destination on the ship, the Indian freighter Jaladuta, the enormity of his intended task weighed on him. On September 13 he wrote in his diary, “Today I have disclosed my mind to my companion, Lord Sri Krishna. ” On this occasion and on the number of other, Prabhupada, called on Krishna for help in his native Bengali. September

Twenty One—International Day of Peace The International Day of Peace was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people. ” Twenty years later, the General Assembly decided that 21 September would be observed annually as a “day of global ceasefire and nonviolence” and invited all Member States, organizations and individuals to commemorate the day, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of a global ceasefire.

According to Mahatma Gandhi fortunate people who have amassed wealth are trustees of the wealth in their possession which they must utilise for the benefit of the underprivileged people. The practice codes of the various religious scriptures also encourage keeping aside a proportion of one’s income for charitable causes. Gambhir Watts President, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia 3 Editorial Page Publisher & General Editor: Gambhir Watts [email protected] org Editorial Committee: J Rao Palagummi Parveen Dahiya [email protected] rg Designing Team: Utkarsh Doshi J Rao Palagummi Advertising: [email protected] org Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia Suite 100 / 515 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000 * The views of contributors to Bhavan Australia are not necessarily the views of Bhavan Australia or the Editor. 7. 3 September 2009 Board of Directors of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia Office Bearers: President Chairman Emeritus Company Secretary Gambhir Watts Surendralal Mehta President, Bhavan Worldwide Sridhar Kumar Kondepudi Other Directors:

Abbas Raza Alvi, Catherine Knox, Sridhar Kumar Kondepudi, Moksha Watts, Homi Navroji Dastur, Executive Secretary and Director General Jagannathan Veeraraghavan, Executive Director, Delhi Mathoor Krishnamurti, Executive Director, Bangaluru Palladam Narayana Sathanagopal, Joint Director, Mumbai Patron: Her Excellency Mrs Sujatha Singh High Commissioner of India in Australia Honorary Life Patron: His Excellency M Ganapathi, Currently Ambassador to Mauritius (Founder Member/Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia) Bhavan Australia reserves the right to edit any contributed articles and letters submitted for publication. Copyright: all advertisements and original editorial material appearing remain the property of Bhavan Australia and may not be reproduced except with the written consent of the owner of the copyright. Bhavan Australia: – ISSN 1449 – 3551 Cover Page: Swami Vivekananda Articles & Focus Themes Swami Vivekananda at World Parliament of Religions Sydney Peace Prize 2009 Festivals of India A Tribute to A Teacher India’s Rise demands more than just watching Bollywood Films Hindi Divas 2009 Is America Hinduised? 7 8 14 16 18 21 4 English – Hindi Chart Saraswati: Goddess of Learning Science and Vedanta Religion or Secularism? Multicultural Poetry: Australia Purdah in Hinduism Buddhist Philosopht “The Doctrine of Anatma (No-Self) 22 24 30 35 37 39 41 Swami Vivekananda at World Parliament of Religions Welcome Address Chicago, Sept 11, 1893 Sisters and Brothers of America t fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us.

I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.

I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny.

I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee. The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me. ” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair.

Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal. 5 7. 3 September 2009 Concluding Address—Chicago, Sept 27, 1893

The World’s Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labor. My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions.

A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter. Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope. ” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian?

God forbid. The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: “Help and not fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension. I Swami Vivekananda 7. 3 September 2009 Charter of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Bhavan) is a non-profit, non-religious, non-political Non Gover nment Organisation (NGO). Bhavan has been playing a cr ucial role in educational and cultural interactions in the world, holding aloft the best of Indian traditions and at the same time meeting the needs of moder nity and multiculturalism. Bhavan’s ideal ‘is the whole world is but one family’ and its motto: ‘let noble thoughts come to us from all sides’.

Like Bhavan’s other centres around the world, Bhavan Australia facilitates intercultural activities and provides a for um for tr ue understanding of Indian culture, multiculturalism and foster closer cultural ties among individuals, Gover nments and cultural institutions in Australia. Bhavan Australia Char ter derived from its constitution is: To advance the education of the public in: a) the cultures (both spiritual and temporal) of the world, b) literature, music, the dance, c) the ar ts, d) languages of the world, e) philosophies of the world.

To foster awareness of the contribution of a diversity of cultures to the continuing development of multicultural society of Australia. To foster understanding and acceptance of the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity of the Australian people of widely diverse heritages. To edit, publish and issue books, jour nals and periodicals, documentaries in Sanskrit, English and other languages, to promote the objects of the Bhavan or to impar t or fur ther education as authorized.

To foster and under take research studies in the areas of interest to Bhavan and to print and publish the results of any research which is under taken. www. bhavanaustralia. org Bhavan Australia’s —Upcoming Events: • • • Mahatma Gandhi Birth Anniversary & International Day of Non-Violence – 2 October 2009 Musical Concert by Debpriya Adhikari and Samanvaya visiting artists from India 4 October 2009 – North Ryde Community Centre. Indian Cultural Awards – 14 November 2009 For details visit www. bhavanaustralia. org 6 Sydney Peace Prize 2009 . 3 September 2009 J ohn Richard Pilger (born 9 October 1939) is an Australian journalist and documentary maker. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received academy awards in Britain and the US. This world renowned journalist, author and film-maker been awarded the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize. The jury’s citation reads: “For work as an author, film-maker and journalist as well as for courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard.

For commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form. ’ Sydney Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees comments, “The jury was impressed by John’s courage as well as by his skills and creativity. His commitment to uncovering human rights abuses shines through his numerous books, films and articles. His work inspires all those who value peace with justice. Speaking from London about news of this award, John Pilger responded: “Coming from my homeland and the city where I was born and grew up, this is an honour I shall cherish, with the hope that it encourages young Australian journalists, writers and film-makers to break the silences that perpetuate injustice both faraway and close to home. ” Examples of his work include an account of the British and American governments’ secret ‘mass kidnappings’ of a whole population of the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean to make way for an American military base.

His 1979 film, Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia depicted the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and the plight of the Khmer people. In 1994, Death of a Nation, shot under cover in East Timor, galvanized world wide support for the East Timorese people. His re-making of the film, Palestine is Still the Issue reminds the world of a continuing occupation and cruel injustice. On Wednesday 4th November John Pilger will receive the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize at a gala ceremony in the Maclaurin Hall at the University of Sydney.

On Thursday November 5th he will give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House. On the morning of Friday November 6th, he will be the guest of 1500 high school students at a peace festival hosted by Cabramatta High School. For further information contact the Sydney Peace Foundation: Dr. Hannah Middleton 9351 4468 Professor Stuart Rees on 9351 4763 Source: Sydney Peace Foundation Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia proudly supports this Annual Peace Project. I am standing for peace and non-violence.

Why world is fighting fighting Why all people of world Are not following Mahatma Gandhi I am simply not understanding – The first verse of the poem ‘The Patriot’ by the Indian Poet Nissim Ezekiel making tribute to Mahatma Gandhi – as quoted by Stuart Rees in his book Pasion for Peace 7 7. 3 September 2009 Festivals of India Navratri: Festival of Nine Nights -Parveen* N (September 19–September 27, 2009) avratri is a festival of Hindus celebrated with devotion, love and fervour all over India. It is also called as Navratras. The mood of Navratri is very colourful and unique.

It incorporates veneration along with commemoration by means of song and dance. Navratri basically means “Nine Nights” (“Nav” meaning nine and “Ratri” meaning nights). These nights are devoted to the reverence of Goddess Durga (Maa Durga) who exists in many forms and is the manifestation of the absolute energy that pervades the Universe. During these days and nights prayers are offered to Mother Goddess. For the devout these days are the sacrosanct for it is during these days when Goddess Durga takes a stock of her devotees and grants all blessings, removes ills and evils and ensures unproblematic life for her devotees.

Maa Brahmachaarini, who gives the message of pure love to the world; Maa Chandraghanta, who establishes Justice and wears crescent moon on Her head; Maa Kushmaanda, who provides the basic necessities to the world; Skand Maa, who gives the gift of differentiation of right from wrong to the world; Maa Kaatyayini, who persistently battles against the evil and deceitful entities; Maa Kaalratri, who killed Raktabeej (a demon who produce a demon from every drop of blood that fell from his body.

Goddess eventually licked the blood before it could reach the ground and hence conquered him); Maa Chaamunda, who killed two demons—Chanda and Munda and restored tranquility; Maa Mahagauri who also liberate the world of evil forces; Mata Sidhidaarti, who is a treasure house of Mystic Powers (Yantra Tantra) and Knowledge (Gyaan). Some are of the opinion that the nine days are divided and devoted to the Trinity of God worshipped in a female form in which for three days Maa Durga (Goddess of valor) is worshipped, for three days Maa Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and three days for Maa Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Art).

On the fifth day, that is, Lalita Panchami books are gathered, lamp is lighted to invoke Saraswati. The eighth and ninth day, Yagna (sacrifice offered to the fire) is performed to honour heavenly Goddess and bid her farewell. Navratras are celebrated with great vehemence especially in West Bengal where it is known 8 The Motherhood of God Navaratri is a festival in which God is adored as Mother. Hinduism is the only religion in the world which has emphasised to such an extent the motherhood of God.

To celebrate a good harvest and to propitiate the nine planets, women also plant nine different kinds of food grain seeds in small containers during these nine days and then offer the young saplings to the Goddess. Celebration First Navratas are celebrated in the bright twoweek period of Shukla Paksha of the lunar month of Ashwani, corresponding to September/October) from the 1st to the 9th date of the two week period. Second Navratras are celebrated during the first nine days of the bright two-week period of Shukla Paksha of the lunar month of Chaitra, corresponding to midMarch to mid-April.

The timing of these Navratras relate to the autumnal and vernal equinox that is also the time when seasons change and we harvest crops which adds to the glory of these revelry. Navratri’s each night is dedicated to one form of Goddess Durga. That is every ratri of the Navratri corresponds to worship of different forms of Maa Durga. This embraces Maa Shailputri, who was the daughter of Parvatraj Himalaya (King of the Mountain), wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha and Kartikeya; 7. 3 September 2009 as “Durga Pooja”. The Hindus in Gujarat celebrate it with nine days of Garba dance.

During this period most of the Hindus go to Temples for prayers. At some places, clay idols of Goddess Durga are adorned with different weapons in her eight arms, riding a lion, with demon Maheshasur lying dead at her feet. For eight days these idols are worshipped and then immersed in river or sea-shore on the ninth day with great fanfare. This period of Navratri also allows for recitation of sacred scriptures such as Durga Sapshudi from Markanday Puran. This narrates how Goddess Durga was blessed and provided with weapons by our Trinity of Gods to annihilate Maheshasur, the demon who had forced Gods to leave heaven and take refuge on earth.

Musical recitations (Kirtans) by famous musicians are offered for the benefit of the Goddess and devotees. Dussehra ussehra is a popular festival celebrated by Hindus all over India, albeit with different names. It is also known as Vijayadashmi (‘Vijay’ meaning ‘victory’ and ‘Dashmi’ meaning ‘tenth day’), as it is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed the demon-king, Ravana and rescued his abducted wife—Sita. In other words, it signifies the triumph of good over evil. The legendary triumph is reenacted to the day.

In the northern parts of India, huge effigies of Ravana, his giant brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnath are placed in vast open grounds. Fireworks and crackers are placed inside the effigies. Actors dressed as Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana enact the final moments of the battle, at the Ramlila ground. After the enactment of the climax of the war with Ravana, the character playing Rama shoots an arrow with a flaming tip at the effigies from a safe distance and the crowd bursts up in cheer, as the crackers catch fire. The enthusiasm and the cheers sometimes even drown the deafening blast.

Merriment ensues, as people indulge themselves games, dance and music that are held at the fair. Bengalis celebrate Dussehra as a part of their main festival—Durga Puja. This day marks the end of Durga Pooja celebrations, the preceding nine days being collectively referred to as ‘Navratri’. Vijayadashmi is dedicated to Mother Goddess Shakti, who incarnated in the form of Goddess Durga, a combined manifestation of the divine energies of the Holy Trinity—Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and all the other devatas, when they summoned her to kill the mighty demon known as Mahishasura and freed the world from his terror.

On Vijayadashmi, the idols of Goddess Durga are immersed into water, after the nine days of festivities. D (September 28, 2009) It is said that the people of the earth in the eastern state of West Bengal adopted Durga as their daughter and thus, she visits the home of her parents every year, during the last four days of Navratri, along with her sons Ganesha and Kartikeya, and daughters Lakshmi and Saraswati. She finally leaves for her husband’s place on Vijayadashmi. Similar customs are seen in Orissa and Assam.

In the North-Eastern state of Tripura, huge fairs are conducted and effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarna are burnts at Ramlila maidans. In the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Vijayadashmi holds special significance. The day is considered auspicious for starting education or any form of art, such as dance and music. Saraswati Puja is conducted on the day, when the formal commencement of education of small kids takes place. It is called ‘Vidya Aarambham’ (the beginning of Vidya, meaning education). In Karnataka (especially Mysore) and Andhra Pradesh, Dussehra is celebrated with fanfare.

Huge processions can be witnessed in both the States. Although Dussehra is celebrated in different ways across India, the motive remains the same—to spread good cheer and celebrate the victory of good over the evil. Diwali D 9 (October 17, 2009) iwali is the time to enjoy the delicious sweets, light the bright lamps and have a sparkling celebration. The festival has been celebrated for ages in India. We rarely think as when did it first originate? The history of Diwali celebrations is nearly as old as the history of India.

It is since ancient times that Diwali has been celebrated. There are different 7. 3 September 2009 reasons popularly believed by different sections of Indian people as the causes behind the origin of the Diwali tradition. Some of these have their roots in the different kinds of legends and mythical tales that can be found in the ancient Hindu scriptures called Puranas. It is not easy to say now what really was the reason behind its origin. There are many mythical and historical reasons that are possibly behind the Diwali (Deepavali) celebrations.

The most well known story behind Diwali is in the Ramayana, According to Ramayana, the great Hindu epic, Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, returned after back after killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. He returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were very happy to hear of their beloved prince’s homecoming. To celebrate Rama’s return to Ayodhya, they lit up their houses with earthen lamps (diyas), burst crackers and decorated the entire city in the grandest manner. This is believed to have started the tradition of Diwali.

Year after year this homecoming of Lord Rama is commemorated on Diwali with lights, fireworks, bursting of crackers and merriment. The festival got its name Deepawali, or Diwali, from the rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that the people of Ayodhya lit to welcome their King. According to another great Hindu epic, Mahabharata, the Pandavas, the five royal brothers suffered a defeat in the hands of their brothers, the Kauravas, in a game of dice (gambling). As a rule imposed on them, the Pandavas had to serve a term of 13 years in exile.

When the period was over, they returned to their birthplace Hastinapura on ‘Kartik Amavashya’ (the new moon day of the Kartik month). The five Pandava brothers, their mother and their wife Draupadi were honest, kind, gentle and caring in their ways and were loved by all their subjects. To celebrate the joyous occassion of their return to Hastinapura and to welcome back the Pandavas, the common people illuminated their state by lighting bright earthen lamps everywhere. The tradition is believed to have been kept alive through the festival of Diwali, which many believe, is held in remembrance of the Pandava brothers’ homecoming.

It is also believed that on this very Diwali day, the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi rose up from the ocean. The Hindu scriptures tell us that long long ago both Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) were mortal. They had to die sometime or other, like us. But they wanted to live forever. So they churned the ocean to seek Amrita, the nectar of immortality (an event mentioned in the Hindu scriptures as “Samudra-manthan”, during which many divine objects came up. Prime among these was Goddess Lakshmi, the daughter of the king of the milky ocean, who arose on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month.

That very night, Lord Vishnu married her. Brilliant lamps were illuminated and placed in rows to mark this holy occassion. This event is supposed to have given rise to an annual celebration at the same time each year. Even today, Hindus celebrate the birth of the goddess Lakshmi and her marriage to Lord Vishnu on Diwali and seek her blessings for the coming year. The origin of Diwali also refers to the stories narrated in the Hindu Puranas, the primary source of Hindu religious texts. According to the Bhagavata Purana (the most sacred Hindu text), it as on a Kartik day that Lord Vishnu, took on the form of a dwarf (Vamanavtaara) and defeated King Bali. Bali, or rather King Mahabali, was a powerful demon king who ruled the earth. Once Bali got a boon from Lord Brahma that made him unconquerable. Even gods failed to defeat him in battles. Although a wise and good king otherwise, Mahabali was cruel to the Devas (gods). Finding no way to defeat Bali, the Devas went to Lord Vishnu and insisted him to find a way to stop Bali. Lord Vishnu made a plan. He disguised himself as a short Brahmin and approached Bali for some charity.

A large-hearted king, Mahabali tried to help the Brahmin. But the whole thing was a trick by Lord Vishnu and ultimately the King had to give up all his kingship and wealth. Diwali celebrates this defeating of Mahabali by Lord Vishnu. The Bhagavata Purana also tells us about Narakasura, an evil demon king who somehow got great powers and conquered both the heavens and earth. Narakasura was very cruel and was a terrible ruler. It is believed that Lord Vishnu killed Narakasura on the day before Diwali and rescued many women whom the demon had locked in his palace.

The people of heaven and earth were greatly relieved to have got freedom from the hands of the terrible Narakasura. They celebrated the occassion with much grandeur, a tradition that is believed to be alive through the annual observance of Diwali. 10 7. 3 September 2009 According to another legend, long ago after the gods lost in a battle with the demons, Goddess Kali took birth from the forehead of Goddess Durga to save heaven and earth from the growing cruelty of the demons.

After killing all the devils, Kali lost her control and started killing anyone who came her way which stopped only when Lord Shiva intervened. You all must have seen the well-known picture of Ma Kali, with her tongue hanging out? That actually depicts the moment when she steps on Lord Shiva and stops in horror and repentance. This memorable event has been commemorated ever since by celebrating Kali Puja, which is observed in several parts of India in about the same time as Diwali. of colorful joy, happiness and brotherhood. Prayers are held at all mosques.

It creates the scene of a fair: festivities, games and shops or stalls for children and adults. Eid-ul-Fitr brings a message of peace, friendship and brotherhood, which is displayed by ‘Eid-Milan’, literally meaning, ‘embracing and celebrating together’. This is done after Eid prayers when all embrace each other at the mosque. Friends and business acquaintances of all faiths and communities are invited home for Eid-Milan and are served festive food including ‘Sewaiyaan’ (vermicelli/ noodles cooked in ghee and milk with sugar), also known as ‘Paisam’ in Southern India.

The last 10 days of Ramzan are more important as the faithful watch for Lailathul Qadr (the Night of Power) during which the revelation of the book to the Prophet was completed. In a way it is considered the climax of Ramzan and Muslims keep awake all night praying or listening to sermons by Ulema or the high priest. Eid-ul-Fitr or the ‘festival of fast breaking’ is most celebratory of all Muslim festivals. The term ‘Eid’ has been derived from the Arabic word ‘oud’, which means ‘the return’ and signifies the return of the festival each year. The festival is significant as much for its timing, as for its religious implications.

It is celebrated after the fasting month of Ramzan (the ninth month of the Muslim year), on the first day of the Shavval month of the Hijri year (Muslim year). Legend says that the Koran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the last ten days of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is historically associated with two important victories of Prophet Muhammad—the battle of Badr and the conquest of Makkah. Fasting on Eid, according to Islamic beliefs, helps in developing self-control and is a way of getting closer to Allah. The festival marks the beginning of celebrations and merriment for a period extending to three days.

Women prepare sweets at home and all Muslims are seen adorned with new dresses on this day. Eid ul Fitr is synonymous with joy and thanksgiving. Eid-ul-Fitr/Ramzan R (September 21, 2009) amzan is also known as Ramadaan. Ramazan is the holy month of the Islamic calender. During this month Muslim around the world observe fast for the whole month. Fasting during the day means abstenance from food ane even water. The fasting period starts from an hour before daybreak till after sunset. The months end with the siting of the new moon which signifies the day for Eid known as Eid-ul-Fitr. Importance

This month holds importance because it was during this month that the Holy Quran, the word of Allah for mankind, was revealed through the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). So during this month recitation of the Quran is also done. The whole month becomes auspicious with everybody observing Roza and namaaz and all are filled with the spirit of piety and reverence. Celebration The Muslims are ordained to observe fast for 29 or 30 days (depending on the sighting of the moon) starting with the sighting of the new moon and end it after seeing the new moon, the next month.

This Fasting is called ‘Roza’. It is the month for self-introspection and self-restraint, penance and prayers. The roza is broken at the end of the day eating food or snacks. This meal or snacks called the iftaar and everybody share the meal with family members, relatives and dear ones. Celebrated all over India, Eid-ul-Fitr is a very happy festival, especially for children who get gifts and money called ‘Eidy’ after having joined the elders at mass prayers and paying their respects to them. The bazaars are decked out and people go to Eid prayers in new clothes and accessories creating an atmosphere 1 7. 3 September 2009 (September 2, 2009) nam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.

Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam. Onam is a very vibrant and colorful festival. India now promotes Onam internationally in a big way and celebrates ‘Tourist Week’ for Kerala during Onam celebrations.

Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam. Onam O Celebrations Rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the ten day long festival. It is indeed a treat to be a part of the grand carnival. People of Kerala make elaborate preparations to celebrate it in the best possible manner. The most impressive part of Onam celebration is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes.

Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to have the meal. Another enchanting feature of Onam is Vallamkali, the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators. There is also a tradition to play games, collectively called Onakalikal, on Onam. Men go in for rigorous sports like Talappanthukali (played with ball), Ambeyyal (Archery), Kutukutu and combats called Kayyankali and Attakalam. Women indulge in cultural activities.

They make intricately designed flower mats called, Pookalam in the front courtyard of house to welcome King Mahabali. Kaikotti Kali and Thumbi Thullal are two graceful dances performed by women on Onam. Folk performances like Kummatti Kali and Pulikali add to the zest of celebrations. The Legend Story goes that during the reign of mighty asura (demon) king, Mahabali, Kerala witnessed its golden era. Every body in the state was happy and prosperous and king was highly regarded by his subjects. Apart from all his virtues, Mahabali had one shortcoming.

He was egoistic. This weakness in Mahabali’s character was utilized by Gods to bring an end to his reign as they felt challenged by Mahabali’s growing popularity. However, for all the good deed done by Mahabali, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so attached. It is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. People make all efforts to celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress upon their dear King that they are happy and wish him well. Source: www. truthstar. com, www. festivals. loveindia. com, www. kidsgen. com, www. onamfestival. org * Parveen, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia 12 Runway For Hope 2009 With just over one month to prepare a charity fashion show at Cargo Bar that had over 420 attendees, sure, the team at Party4Poverty were a little apprehensive! (Did I mention it was our first foray into the realms of fashion? ) Believe me, if we could have sweat blood, I’m sure we’d all be red. So let me paint you the portrait. There is the Miss World Australia 2009 Sophie Lavers striking a pose with the elegance of a dancer.

There is the group of achingly glamorous models frantically shimmying out of dresses and fumbling into tops and jeans. There is the frenetic hype from time poor designers and there are the streaks of white flashing from the media across the dark velvety surrounds of Cargo Bar. The show certainly rejoiced in diversity. Kylie Hawkes of her eponymous label Kylie Hawkes, showcased floaty fabric dresses while Lioness 28 designer Wendy Lin celebrated spring with some vibrant flirtatious dresses. 7. 3 September 2009 -Jie Jun Ling | Photography by Jie Jun Ling & Kitty Law s an art canvas, perfectly accompanied by the Van der Sloan face value collection, designed by Gregor Wilson, featuring snow white t-shirts with intimate portraits drawn from the well of music and literary inspirations. Of course by the end of the night, the Runway for Hope crowd was buzzing with raw energy and charged excitement. But this probably has you thinking. Perhaps this picture seems like the very last thing that could change the lives of handicapped and underprivileged children in the Rajnandgaon province. It is unusual, isn’t it, the exploration of emerging designers and the theme of alleviating poverty together?

But here at Party4Poverty we love to unite the diametrically opposed, after all, our motto is that if university student life ‘is one big party while the other lives in absolute poverty, why not bring the two together and make a difference’? While Amy Lea Taylor dressed her models in the Amy Taylor Collection, a few fun flowing dresses in vivid prints, Emily Fleming of mackenzie mode sought structure with dresses of heavy cotton and fine silks decorated with graphic designs, a homage to the Australian landscape and US celebrity culture accompanied by Ellen Bartels’ contemporary accessories.

If Anastasia Suyanti’s Waste to Waist & The Dark Carnival aimed to delight, she more than electrified the night with her mix of cultural influences, royal blue silks and metal grey, a union of Indian saris and classic corset designs a representation of a fused east and west. Her masks oozed dark mystery in the children’s playground of superficial fun while De Vere Designs by Nerida De Vere sought to bring the fresh chic of the Spring races with her assortment of hats and fascinators.

While Mok Theorem’s experimental and unpredictable vision was complimented by teaming tailored blazers with high shine three tone figure hugging dresses, the men were not to be outdone. Serene Aguirre showcased Nouveau Spring/Summer 2009, born in the stylist art movement in late 19th century Europe, a menswear collection of blue fluid lines and stylised graphics fused with the contemporary. The Illyrian Jeans collection by Olliver Ranck used brooding blue and faded grey denim jeans Miss World Australia 2009, Sophie Lavers

We’re supporting The Abhilasha Project, which means ‘hope’ in Hindi and we combined their aim of giving hope to the underprivileged children of Rajnandgaon, India with our desire to extend this hope to emerging talent in the cutthroat fashion industry, hence the name, Runway for Hope. With the Abhilasha Project’s firm belief in education as the catalyst for socio-economic change and progress to ultimately foster the independence of these underprivileged, handicapped children, we felt drawn to collaborate with an organisation that echoed our ideals of change, awareness and commitment to alleviating poverty.

So what can we say? After raising more than $8 500 on the night, we are proud to announce that we might be able to do just that! Many thanks to the dedicated and devoted team from Party4Poverty and our sponsors, including Bhavan Australia, who in sponsoring us for our event, helped our collaboration with The Abhilasha Project and to make Runway for Hope such a success! 13 *Vice President of India (1952–1962, President of India (1962–1967) Like any other day, we begin our day after a night of good sleep invariably thinking about the people who have made an impact in our lives.

Impact may be too a strong a word, rephrasing would be correct. Pedestrians who must have made us walk on the footpath of our life. Today is a special day. Why? It’s Teacher’s Day (September 5, 2009). It is the day we celebrate the people who have transformed our lives for the better through the medium of education. The people who significantly contributed in promising a life of education, erudition and learning. It’s our teacher. The custodian of learning who thought us the facts of learning and existence. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

That’s exactly what a teacher has done for us and we celebrate this joyous occasion in remembrance of the greatest teachers of India on his birthday—Dr S. Radhakrishnan. Teachers have an influencing role in the life of every student. They are like beacons of light, guiding us in the formative years of our life. Teachers mould us and in the process and shape our future. What we learn from our teachers remains with us, throughout our life. However, very often, we fail to show our appreciation and gratitude for their altruistic devotion.

Teachers do need encouragement and support from the community to feel that their efforts are being recognized. To serve the purpose, Teacher’s Day is celebrated throughout the world, year by year. By celebrating National Teacher’s Day, we thank our teachers for providing us their invaluable guidance. In India, Teacher’s Day (also called Teachers’ Appreciation Day or National Teacher’s Day) is celebrated on 5th of September, every year. The date was selected, because it is the birthday of a timeless teacher and the former President of India— Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

When some of his students and friends approached him and requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday, he said, “instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege, if September 5th is observed as Teacher’s day”. From then onwards, the 5th of September has been observed as Teachers Day, in India. To celebrate Teacher’s day cultural programs are held, which include singing competitions, dance A Tribute to A Teacher: Dr S. Radhakrishnan* 7. 3 September 2009 and play performances. The students offer flowers, greeting cards and gifts as the token of affection, to the teachers.

The latest trend is to organize Teacher’s Day party. Students are keen about throwing a lavish party for their teachers, to show how much they care and respect them. Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan was born on 5 September, 1888 in Tirutani, a well-known religious center in the Madras State. He was the second son of Veera Samayya, a tehsildar in a Zamindari hailing from a middle-class, respectable Hindu Brahmin family. Radhakrishnan was married in 1906, at the tender age of 18 and while still a student, to Sivakamamma, and spent a happy married ife with her for fifty years before she died in 1956. Bright and precocious, with a scholarly disposition and a serene demeanor, from the very beginning, Radhakrishnan spent the first eight years of his life happily and fruitfully in his home town with his parents. The tranquil and challenging atmosphere of that famous and well-loved place, as well as the benign influence of his parents who, as was common in the South, were intensely religious in the traditional sense, went far in molding his character and sowing a lively seed of religiousness in him. 4 7. 3 September 2009 The far-sightedness and broad-mindedness of his revered parents to send their son to well-disciplined Christian educational institutions—held him in good stead throughout, making it possible for him to acquire specially Occidental vices like a sense of revered Rabindranath, is one of the few who could accomplish this apparently impossible feat. That is why his philosophical writings are not ordinary scholarly dissertations, but also melodious poetical perfections of great and permanent value.

Dynamic in personality, quiet in demeanor, austere in habits, unostentatious in behaviour, just in decision, prompt in action, simple in his dress, sympathetic in his dealings—such is our revered Dr Radhakrishnan. He is a living, loving symbol and lovely emblem of our age-old Indian culture and civilization. Nothing much need be said here regarding his ideas and attitude towards different issues. For, the central refrain of his Life’s Music reverberates through every walk of his blessed life. That is why he is a Monist in Philosophy, believing in one Reality, viz. Spirit; a Monotheist in Religion, believing in one God; an Eudemonist or Perfectionist in Ethics, believing in inner perfection as the summum bonum or the highest end of life; a Socialist in Politics, believing in mass or universal uplift. Teachers mould us and in the process and shape our future. What we learn from our teachers remains with us, throughout our life. duty, punctuality, discipline and the like, together with specially Oriental qualities of religiosity, calmness, patience, faith in God and men. He studied Sanskrit and Hindi also and garnered a good deal of interest in the traditional languages of India.

He also read the Vedas and the Upanishads with great care and reverence. In fact, Radhakrishnan was, and is, still today, a reader in the true sense of the word. For, what he read—and he read widely and lovingly all kinds of good books— did not remain an external acquisition, an ornamental decoration, with him; but blossomed forth in him in fullest glory and grandeur. For, all throughout his brilliant career, honor after honor was showered on him. Radhakrishnan was, and still is, one of the most celebrated writers of the present generation.

His works are many and varied on philosophical, theological, ethical, educational, social and cultural subjects. He contributed also numerous articles to different well-known journals, which too, will prove to be of immense value to generations to come. His articles are not merely outer expressions of his inner thoughts, but, what is more, infinitely more, emblems and embodiments of his very life—life that merrily dances forth in the fortuitous, zig-zag way of the world, removing all its obstacles in its own inner irresistible urge and boundless boldness.

Hence, it is that his works, written in an incredibly simple, sublime, soft and serene way, are so very enchanting, enlivening, exhilarating to all. As a matter of fact, as is well known, it is very difficult to express very abstract and abstruse philosophical thoughts in easily intelligible and enchantingly sweet language. But Dr Radhakrishnan, like the great and … what he read—and he read widely and lovingly all kinds of good books Radhakrishnan is considered as the greatest living philosopher of India, and one of the greatest living philosophers of the world.

This proves beyond doubt that he is universally considered to be one amongst the most notable of modern philosophical luminaries. According to our Indian view, the highest aim of human life is to be, step by step, a ‘Brahmachari’ (or one who lives and moves about and believes in Brahman), a ‘Brahmajnani’ (or one who knows Brahman or the Absolute) and finally, a ‘Brahmavadin’ (or one who speaks or writes about Brahman or the Absolute). Dr Radhakrishnan—himself a real ‘Brahmachari’, a real ‘Brahmajnani’—subscribed to this theory all along his life.

Dr Radhakrishnan is, indeed, a versatile genius—a great scholar, philosopher,seer, writer, orator, statesman, administrator and above all, a great man. Source: www. living. oneindia. in 15 India’ s Rise demands more than just watching Bollywood Films A new institute is set to revive serious study of this important country. 7. 3 September 2009 -Kama Maclean* I ’ve sat in on several speeches about the nature of the Australia-India relationship in the past few years. Invariably, speakers pounce on a mutual love of cricket as the basis for a strong bilateral relationship.

However, the highly competitive and too often controversial nature of the game is an unstable matrix to build upon—consider India’s 2007–08 tour of Australia. The problem is that cricketers (and their fans) are not natural diplomats. There are notable exceptions— Brett Lee has attained demigod status in India not as a result of his pace bowling but for his Bollywood appearances, charity work and attempts to learn Hindi. It was a relief then that the visit of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to India last week showed a positive turn in the relationship.

Gillard assured Indian audiences that students coming to Australia would be safe and could be confident that the education programs they undertake will be of good quality. On Wednesday she launched the Australia India Institute, an initiative led by the University of Melbourne in partnership with UNSW and La Trobe universities. The institute promises to revive in Australia a long-standing tradition of intellectual and public engagement with India, which, deprived of funding for more than a decade, has almost collapsed. I first went to India in 1987, and I was hooked. I wanted to learn more, and I turned to the university sector.

In 1987, there was still a rich and broad range of courses on offer in Australian universities. In Melbourne alone, Hindi was taught in three universities: Melbourne, Monash and La Trobe. These programs were supported and enriched by a range of cultural, political, historical and economic courses on offer to undergraduates like me, who were fascinated by India’s rich and vibrant culture and its long history. Australian students in the generations before me were taught by some of the world’s greatest minds and specialists on India, whose scholarship left an enduring mark.

The Subaltern Studies Collective, a landmark development in historical practice in India—which had important consequences for historiography globally—was formed under the leadership of Ranajit Guha at the ANU with the critical input of Indians such as Dipesh Chakrabarty, who made Australia their home. But a range of developments in the early 1990s served to undermine this tradition. The end of the Cold War led to a decline in emphasis on “area studies” in which many Indian teaching programs found a home.

The steady contraction of funding to higher education in the 1990s meant that when esteemed Indianists retired, they were not replaced. Increasingly, scholars completing PhD programs were employed in positions in which their India expertise was tangential to their teaching programs, as entire courses on Indian history, culture and civilisations were replaced with more generic courses on globalisation and world history. But while this was happening, governments failed to see and respond to critical developments in India and on our own shores.

While language and humanities programs were being cut back, India was in the process of liberalising its economy in preparation for closer global engagement with the world. Australian schools were changing demographically as a vibrant and highly skilled community of Indians came to settle here and contribute to the highest levels of public life. Hindi has been introduced as a year 12 subject, but students completing it find that there is now only one university in Australia where they can pursue it at the undergraduate level.

As Hamish MacDonald noted in his recent Asialink essay, the support to Indian studies in Australia has 16 7. 3 September 2009 been “woeful” despite the best efforts and lobbying of scholars across the country. The Australia India Institute will bring together an array of scholars, teachers and researchers who have expertise on India in a wide range of disciplines and faculties, working collaboratively with many other partners in universities and institutes across Australia. India will increasingly define our world in the next 20 years.

With few Indian specialists left in the humanities and social sciences in this country, we urgently need to work together to reinvigorate the study of the subcontinent. While the Institute promises to make a positive impact through the tertiary sector, as well as engage the community through outreach programs, the government needs to implement policies to involve school students in Indian studies as well. For a start, India must be added to the list of four countries (China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea) eligible to receive funds from the Government’s National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP).

Additionally, early drafts of the new National Curriculum simply do not deliver on expectations that Asia literacy will be a part of the educational experience of students growing up in a world in which China and India are rising powers. This is not simply about economics, but speaks to more vital issues such as environmental change. Changing our approach to the study of India is essential if we are to resuscitate a long-standing and important relationship. Dr Kama Maclean is professorial research fellow at UAE University and is senior lecturer in South Asian and world history at the University of NSW. Note: The article was first published in the Newspaper, The Age, on September 07 2009. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia Supported Cultural Night 2009 An Extraordinary Talent Showcase @ Cultural Night 2009—Hills Center, Castle Hill on 19 September, 2009 Cultural Night has been a longstanding premier community charity event that has been held annually since 1994.

The event is produced by the combined effort of representatives from five major universities in Sydney which include: The University of Sydney, University of Technology, University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and University of Western Sydney. With crowds of over 1500 people, Cultural Night has escalated to be of enormous significance amongst Sydney’s Student Community and is renowned for being the most anticipated event of the universities calendar each year and it was no different this year!

A massive audience of over 1500 sat back to watch an extraordinary showcase of talent brought on stage by over 200 performers in 18 various acts on the night ranging from hip-hop/bollywood/bhangra dancing to live bands on stage and spectacular fashion parades, not to mention the magnificent dance spectacular presented by UNSW Vishwaas and the long awaited and EXCLUSIVE Michael Jackson Tribute performed by the most skilled dancers in Sydney. Cultural Night 2009 easily exceeded expectations and has taken the level of entertainment at such an event to a whole new level.

This beautiful event has brought out the Indian culture within the community encouraging the youth to continue to explore this beautiful culture and tradition within their local communities. Anchal Saxena Cultural Night Committe 17 H Hindi Divas: International Hindi Divas (Day) Celebrations 7. 3 September 2009 indi was adopted as the official language of India by the Indian Constituent Assembly on September 14, 1949. To celebrate and promote Hindi Language across a large community, the event was celebrated as Hindi Divas in Sydney.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia, the esteemed Indian Organisation in Sydney celebrated the event at Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, Sydney on 14 September 2009. Top representatives of the various organisations dedicated to the promotion of Hindi language, Indo Australian Bal Bharatiya Vidyalaya (IABBV) Hindi School, Hindi Samaaj, Australian Hindi-Indian Association Inc graced the event. Hindi poets and story writers were at the heart of the proceedings of the day. The program was a good success.

This year Thirty two (last year twenty eight) awards were given to people for their contribution towards Hindi promotion. They were given “Certificates of Appreciation” for their constant and striving efforts towards the promotion of Hindi in Australia with a determination to work more sternly towards the spread of Hindi in Australia. These included 17 in NSW, 6 in VIC, 3 in ACT, 1 in SA, 4 in WA and 1 in QLD. The program started with a welcoming speech by President, Gambhir Watts, acknowledging the contribution of these persons towards Hindi promotion in Australia.

Dr Albert Vella, President, NSW Federation of Community Language Schools, emphasized the greater role of Hindi towards the integration of Hindi speaking community into main stream for overall progress and harmony in the Australia. He greatly pressed the need for spread of Hindi by suggesting opening of Hindi learning and teaching centres and more indulgence of people for the promotion of Hindi language in Australia. Dilip Chopra, Councillor, Hornsby Shire Council and Srikanta Bandyopadhyay (affectionately called singing professor), Prof.

Nihal Agar, President Hindu Council of Australia graced the event with their presence. Abbas with his active supervision and coordination made the program a wonderful and enjoyable event, relished by all. There were poets, authors, amateur Hindi enthusiasts, professionals from varied fields who enthralled the audience with their literary, satirical, social awakening creativities. There were hilarious moments with light hilarious comical poetic recitations and satirical comments, accompanied with mind churning and thought provoking social setbacks about the communities and political weaknesses of the system.

There were remarkable performances by Anil Verma, Anita Barar, Asha Gupta, Dhan Raj Chaudhary, Hari Krishan Julka, Jagdeep Johar, Jaya Aruna Didugu, Narendra Tripathi, Neena Badhwar, Nihal Singh Agar, Om 18 7. 3 September 2009 Kishan Rahat, Rekhalok Rajvanshi, Sant Ram Bajaj, Saurabh Anand, Shailaja Chaturvedi, Vimla Luthra and Vinod Rajput. The program concluded with the Hindi songs performance by Mahmood Khan, a renowned international singer and song writer. Celebration of Organisations Hindi Divas by other

Hindi Divas Award recipients from Various States of Australia Pauline Egbert Sharad Gupta NSW Anil Verma Rakesh Mathur Nalin Kant Asha Gupta Rekha Rajvanshi Radhey Shyam Gupta Dhan Raj Chaudhary Richa Srivastava Ratan Mulchandani Ekta Chanana Sunita Anand Subhash Sharma Savita Gupta Taran Sahdeva SA Gargi Sharma Rai Kookana ACT Gunjan Tripathi Kishore Nangarani WA Kailash Bhatnagar Manish Raj Dr Tanveer Nasir Khan Kulvinder Kaur Santosh Gupta Rajyashree Malaviya Renu Sharma Kusum Chaudhry VIC Neena Bhadwar Hari Kishan Julka Sudesh Aggarwal Harihar Jha Hindi Samaj celebrated the Hindi Nirupama Verma QLD Divas with their annual Cruise Umesh Chandra Indo Australian Bal Bharatiya Vidyalaya (IABBV) Hindi School celebrated Hindi Divas on 13th September from 11 am to 1 pm at Thornleigh West Public School with the children of all ages from the school. An exhibition, Mahatma Gandhi “My life is My Message”, produced by National Gandhi Museum and Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs Government of India was on display. Students of the Hindi School showcased their projects artistic projects on Mahatma Gandhi. from 3–6 pm, Napean River in Western Sydney. Over 200 Hindi lovers and their family members celebrated the day with Hindi poetry, music and songs by people of all ages—5 to 60+.

India Club celebrated Hindi Day at Castle Hill in a unique way wherein every one had to speak only Hindi words. There was cash penalty for every English word spoken. The collection went to charity. IABBV Hindi Divas Celebrations 19 7. 3 September 2009 H Hindi Divas and Aknowledgement Awards of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia in Melbourne indi Divas was celebrated in Melbourne with enthusiasm. The Master of Ceremony (MC) of the program was Dr Sharad Gupta, Secretary Hindi Niketan. The function was very successful. Certificates and Awards were presented by the Consul of Culture Indian Consulate Melbourne, Mr Anil Gupta. The function was started with performance by young children.

A Bollywood dance was presented by Ms Gaur followed by a quiz by Ms Trivedi. Mr Harihar Jha presented a humorous poem “Bikhara Padaa Hai” and advised tricks how to avoid house chores. Mr Chopra presented a beautiful satire on treatment of parents by their children when they visit them overseas. Subhash Sharma presented a Hindi poem full of emotion and devotion for mother and another poem on Sahitya Sandhya and its activities. Nalin Sharda recited a poem on Hindi and its virtues. A Message from the President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan was read by the MC. Awards and “Certificates of Appreciation” from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan were distributed to the people for their services in promoting Hindi in Australia.

At the end Mrs Manjeet Thethi a well-known Hindi teacher informed about the Hindi education in Victoria. Dr Dinesh Shrivastva highlighted the importance of Hindi and suggested a few methods to make Hindi more popular. The President of Hindi Niketan, Chaudhary Shamsher Singh distributed the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Certificates and Trophies to students who passed the Hindi Exam 2008 and gave special awards to students who stood first, second and third in the 2008 exams. The program ended with a vote of thanks by the Vice President of Hindi Niketan, Dr Naunihal Singh. Photo Exhibition in Hyderabad, India—Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr.

Daisaku Ikeda A Photo Exhibition in Hyderabad: “Nostalgic with the memories of the great leaders—Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, a photo exhibition was inaugurated on Tuesday at the Raj Bhavan by his Excellency N. D. Tiwari,” reports the National Daily. “The exhibition is a platform for creating awareness of peace as well as the power of one as practiced by three leaders, who selflessly worked to transform the society of their time… Seen there [at the opening ceremony] were US Consul-General Cornelius M. Keur, Vice Chancellor University of Hyderabad Prof. Seyed E. Husnain, Veteran Freedom Fighter M. S. Rajalingam amongst other dignitaries. Times of India/August 20, 2009 Daisaku Ikeda’s 2009 Peace Proposal launched in New Delhi India New Delhi, India: Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) co-organized a seminar on SGI President Ikeda’s 2009 Peace Proposal, “Towards Humanitarian Competition: A New Current in History,” on September 8. The seminar, which drew an audience of more than 250 people, opened with a 10-minute highlight of the key points of the peace proposal. The event’s keynote speaker was Justice J. S. Verma, former Chief Justice of India, who called for a “renaissance of values” and a transformation of “our thoughts from the negative… to the positive. ” Other speakers included IGNCA Joint-Secretary Aditi Mehta, who said: “Dr.

Ikeda urges us to recover our human wholeness by focusing on the inner universality and that our approach to universal perspectives and principles should not be external and transcendent, but immanent and in-dwelling. ” Nalanda University Rector Designate Dr. Gopa Sabharwal, meanwhile, offered her thoughts on the proposal, saying she was “struck by its depth, the sweep of ideas, the accessibility of the theme and how it was set up. ” The seminar was held on the anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons issued in 1957. [Report by Naveena Reddi of BSG] 20 I Is America Hinduised? 7. 3 September 2009 n a perceptive article, America’s largest circulated newsmagazine, Newsweek (Aug. 1 issue), says that “America is not a Christian nation” and has titled the article “We are all Hindus now”. In our own country, we are gradually disowning all the wisdom and practices held sacred by our religion going by the geographically outdated name of Hinduism, but the world at large is increasingly accepting the beliefs and conclusions of our ancient seers and sages on life, death, afterlife, eternity and reincarnation. The article, written by Lisa Miller, cites a recent nationwide poll in the USA, to say that “conceptually, at least, we (Americans) are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, ourselves, each other, and eternity”.

The writer invokes the Rig Vedic dictum—Ekam sat, Vipra Bahuda Vadanti—(Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names) to aver that a Hindu believes “there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur’an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal”. The most traditional, conservative Christians have not been taught to think like this. They learn in Sunday school that their religion is true, and others are false. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me”. Resurrection. You need both, in other words, and you need them forever. Hindus believe no such thing. At death, the body burns on a pyre, while the spirit— where identity resides—escapes.

In reincarnation, central to Hinduism, selves come back to earth again and again in different bodies. So here is another way in which Americans are becoming more Hindu: 24 per cent of Americans say they believe in reincarnation, Americans are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, ourselves, each other, and eternity. according to a 2008 Harris poll. So agnostic are we about the ultimate fates of our bodies that we are burning them—like Hindus—after death. More than a third of Americans now choose cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America, up from 6 per cent in 1975. The global mass following for Sri Satya Sai Baba testifies to this trend of acceptance of ancient Hindu faith-based principles and practices in many countries of the world cutting across religious denominations and national barriers. Bhagwan Baba has made it easy for his followers by making it clear that one need not have to forsake one’s own religion to accept Him as God-incarnate. Faith, particularly good faith, transcends religion. The Newsweek article concludes with a call: “So, Let us all say OM”. Culturally Americanised Indians can join us and say “Amen”. More than a third of Americans now choose cremation According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 per cent of Americans believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life”—including 37 per cent of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone.

Also, the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside the church is growing. Thirty per cent of Americans call themselves “spiritual, not religious,” according to a 2009 Newsweek Poll. “Then there’s the question of what happens when you die. Christians traditionally believe that bodies and souls are sacred, that together they comprise the ‘self’, and that at the end of time, they will be reunited in the Source: Bhavan’s Journal, September 15 2009 21 7. 3 September 2009 22 7. 3 September 2009 – Contributed by Lajpatrai Sardana 23 7. 3 September 2009 Saraswati: Goddess of Learning ‘Avirvabhuva tatpashchanmukhatah Paramatmanah’, that is, one who has her origin direct from the mouth of God is Saraswati.

One of the aspects of Vishwadevah—a collective name for a group of deities with various names, their more widely accepted number being twelve, Saraswati manifests as Vak—speech, wherein reveals the world of name and form—material or abstract, present or past, celestial or terrestrial… all that is known or shall ever become known. The goddess of learning and intellect ‘jyotiswarupa’— lustrous, Saraswati is the light within that illuminates beyond. As the supreme light, she imparts to the sun its power to reveal a form, and to man, his desire to discover the formless. Never ruthless, and hardly ever inclining to punish, the benign one bestows bliss and delight—always and on all, and if at all, eliminates maladies and ignorance or other forms of darkness.

She operates as man’s creative faculty and is thus the root-source of literature, art, music and all—ever thought, conceived or created. Far from a passive boon-conferring divinity, Saraswati has always represented operative aspect of cosmic existence. A long course of evolution shaped her image in the devotional mind, the purity of her being, lustre of her form, benignity of her mind, and ability to nourish have, however, been the same as ever. They discover Saraswati’s parallel in Iranian river Haraihvati, which in contemporary Iranian rituals and literature was similarly lauded for being benign, humid, heroic, and immaculate. They argue that the term Saraswati, a combination of ‘sara’ or ‘svara’, meaning ‘to go’, and ‘swati’, meaning ‘tending’ or

She operates as man’s creative faculty and is thus the root-source of literature, art, music ‘inclining’, that is, one that has the tendency of going or moving, is more characteristic of a river. They emphatically hold that like the root ‘gam’, meaning ‘to go’, from which developed the name of river Ganga, in the Rig-Veda ‘sara’ is another root from which developed several terms that denote a river or an entity that has river-like moving character. They quote as examples Sarayu, Saranyu, sarita, sansara… first two, the names of two rivers, third, a river in general, and fourth, the transient world. They however concede that the Rig-Vedic Saraswati, with its origin in Heaven, could have been a celestial flood, not a terrestrial stream.

Invoked by sages to redeem them from drought it descended on the earth across vast aerial region pervading it, and hence its all-pervasive character. In similar vein they interpret Saraswati’s other Rig-Vedic attributions. Her long arms by which Saraswati carves her path are interpreted as her long banks through which she had her course. To them, Saraswati’s form as the deity is a mere apotheosis of the river of that name. Other group of scholars is little convinced with the logic. They feel that motion that ‘sara’ or ‘svara’ denoted is the first requisite also of sound. Apart, ‘sara’ also meant praise, and ‘svara’, utterance. So interpreted, the two terms stood for a goddess who 24

Saraswati in Vedic Literature As regards her status in the Vedas, Saraswati has priority over Mahadevi and Mahalakshmi—other two deities of the Puranic Trio manifesting Divine Female. Saraswati apart, the two deities of the RigVedic Trio were Ila and Bharti, not Mahadevi and Mahalakshmi. Both, Ila and Bharti merged into the all-pervading personality of Saraswati during the later Vedic period—substantially in Brahmans. Though Vishwadevah is the primary object of the prayers that the Rig-Vedic richas—usually four-line verses offer, at least eighty of these richas laud and pray Saraswati. Saraswati, along with Illa and Bharti, is one of the twelve components of Vishwadevah.

These collective richas apart, three of the suktas—conceptual hymns, are also devoted to Saraswati, which elevates her to the status of a sukta-bhak deity—a deity of higher order with a distinct and independent identity, one that is the subject of conceptual verses. Its mysticism apart, the Rig-Veda seems to have a dual perception of Saraswati, one as the sacred river, and the other, as the deity pervading all three worlds. Most scholars assert that it is only as river that the RigVeda has alluded to Saraswati and what of it seems to pervade all three worlds is its celestial character. 7. 3 September 2009 was possessed of sound, utterance and praise, or was one who has been praised.

They often perceive Saraswati as another form of Vak. Prayed and lauded with Vishwadevah Saraswati is one of the Akashadevatas—aerial deities that commands atmosphere, thunder and lightening, ie, sound, light, humidity, rain, and other atmospheric elements. They assert that under the Rig-Vedic standards two essentials defined a deity. Firstly, it had to be benign, and secondly, valorous performing acts requiring prowess. The RigVeda has lauded Saraswati as being ‘pavaka’, the one who purifies and causes rainfall. ‘Pavaka’ could be the attribute of a deity as also of the river but a valorous act—such as eliminating a demon, could be attributed to a deity, not river.

The Rig-Veda lauds Saraswati for eliminating Vratra, or Bala—demon of drought and the son of Brasaya, something which a deity alone could accomplish. Both suggestions are substantial. In most of its verses, or in most part of these verses, the Rig-Vedic attribution to Saraswati as the river is unambiguous. So interpreted, the demon Vratra could be a RigVedic metaphor for drought—a usual Rig-Vedic idiom. But, the emphasis with which the Rig-Veda has personalised Vratra—giving his father’s name and other things, speaks of the same super-sensibility with which the Rig-Veda has conceived its most deities— Indra, Varuna, Agni, Sun among others that otherwise represented an aspect of nature.

It is difficult to say as to when the Vedic seers—the great mystics endowed with unique power to see beyond material frame, perceived a divine entity containing an aspect of phenomenal nature, and when to them an aspect of phenomenal nature rose to divine heights and deified necessitating them to revere it as part of Vishwadevah and offer to it their prayers. Thus whatever it stood for, Vratra might not completely dilute into a mere verbal metaphor nor its elimination might be treated just as an act of a river redeeming from drought. The Rig-Veda does not perceive Saraswati as an aspect of Vak as claim those seeing in her only a deity. It was rather Vak that later—in Atharva-Veda and Yajura-Veda, merged with Saraswati.

The RigVeda personalises Saraswati independently and also straight, not metaphorically as it does Ushas or some other deities. When talking of Ushas the Rig-Veda alludes to her as one who unveils herself to the sun as does a bride before her groom. The Rig-Veda perceives in Saraswati a mother, spouse, sister and daughter—a complete woman. Virapatni—consort of the heroic, is her more often used epithet. The substantial part of the two of the three suktas that laud Saraswati is devoted to her consort Saraswata. Saraswata has been identified variedly as Vayu, Surya, Prajapati and Indra. A greater unanimity prevails in regard to Vira as an epithet of Prajapati. Later, in Puranas, Saraswata appears as the name of her son by sage Dadhicha—her consort.

Apart that the Rig-Veda lauds and prays Saraswati as Ambitama, Sindhumata and Mata—terms denotative of ‘mother’, her form that it elaborates in one of its richas is essentially a mother’s: “Yas te stanah shasayo yo mayo bhur yena vishva pushyasi varyani/Yo ratnadha vasuvid yah sudatrah Saraswati tam iha dhatave kah”—Saraswati, may we drain that breast of your, which is exhaustless, source of pleasure, by which you feed all choicest things, which is wealth giver, treasure finder and free bestower. The Rig-Veda has also used for Saraswati the term ‘kanya’ usually interpreted to mean an unmarried daughter of tender age, and a couple of other terms interpreted variedly to mean a sister, both of other rivers, as also of Ila and Bharti—other deities of the Rig-Vedic Trio. Saraswati’s Attributes in the Vedas Not so much her physiognomy or anthropomorphic appearance, the Rig-Veda liberally elaborates her personality, spiritual in particular—something it has not sought to do in case of most other deities.

In regard to her appearance and basic temperament the Vedic seers have used three terms ‘suyama’, sometimes considered to be ‘suvigraha’; ‘shubhra’; and ‘supeshas’, which some scholars take as ‘swarupa’, and others, as ‘supish’. ‘Suyama’ meant easily led, as by prayer or laudation. Its identical term ‘suvigraha’ meant a beautiful figure with an accomplished anatomy. The repeatedly used ‘shubhra’—meant white, obviously denoting her costume and adornment. ‘Supeshas’ could either be ‘swarupa’ meaning beautiful, or beauteous, or ‘supish’ meaning well adorned. The Rig-Veda is more elaborate in its depiction of her benignity, prowess, vigor and spiritualism. It uses for her terms like ‘dhiyavasu’— one who has exception wisdom and ability to act, interpreted sometimes as ‘dhinam avitri’ meaning one who perfects or bestows dhi’—wisdom; ‘subhaga’, fortunate and beautiful; ‘vajinivati’, one possessed of abundant food, water, strength, vigor, energy, wealth, power of speech…; ‘pavaka’, rain-giver, purifying, fire and lightening; ‘paravataghni’, destroyer of Paravatas—a non-Aryan tribe, or mountains falling on its way; ‘chitrayuh’, unique, bright, versatile, wonderful; ‘hiranyavartanih’, one who abounds in gold; ‘asurya’, one who has ceaseless life, breath, water or spiritualism; ‘dharunamayasi puh’, one who is firm as a city made of iron; and, ‘akavari’, one who is liberal even to her enemies. The Rig-Veda alludes to her also as destroyer of Vratra, and ‘ghora’—fierce, but in low tone. Saraswati in Post-Rig-Vedic Literature In the Post-Rig-Vedic literature Saraswati, the deity, begins gaining prominence over Saraswati, the river. In her merges Vak, and her two counterparts in the 25 7. 3 September 2009 One day, one of the Gandharvas Vishvavasu stole it and hid it in waters where Gandharvas Svan and Bhraji guarded it.

To help gods, who were unable to win back Soma from Gandharvas, Saraswati as Vak turned of her own into a woman, went to Gandharvas and brought back from them the divine drink. It was from this episode that Saraswati got her ‘Anshumati’—full of the Soma. Saraswati, Goddess or River: Puranic Solution to the Enigma The Puranas, too, take up the issue as to whether Saraswati was a river or a goddess and also seek to settle it finally. As have the Puranas, Saraswati was a goddess in Vaikuntha—Heaven, born on the earth as a river under a curse and was thus both, a river and a goddess and in both cases alike sacred. The Devi Bhagavata acclaims that Saraswati was one of Mahavishnu’s three wives, other two being Lakshmi and Ganga.

One day when all three and Mahavishnu were engaged in delightful conversation, Ganga was secretly casting her lustful eyes at Mahavishnu and as secretly Mahavishnu responded her. When unable to bear it any longer Saraswati got up and hit Ganga. Lakshmi sought to intervene, which Saraswati did not like and cursed her to be born on the earth. Ganga pronounced a similar curse against Saraswati, and Saraswati against Ganga. Aggrieved by this unrestrained behaviour of his wives Mahavishnu ordained how the curses would work and each of them would be born on the earth. As for Saraswati, he ordained that she would be born on the earth as a river but her divine form would ultimately return back to Vaikuntha and then she would become Brahma’s consort.

Rig-Vedic Trio, Ila and Bharti, begin merging into her. At one place in the Atharva-Veda, a ‘mantra’— divine hymn, mentions Saraswati with Ila and Bharti but at another, uses a term ‘tisrah Saraswatih’ that early Vedic commentators like Sayan and many other subsequent scholars interpret as three forms of Saraswati or her three aspects. In the Mahabharata Ila reduces into a mere linguistic term denoting intellect, and Bharti, into another name for Saraswati, or an abstraction denoting pursuit of learning. In their use of terms like ‘Saraswati Vakam’ or ‘Vak-Saraswati’, Atharva-Veda and Yajur-Veda perceive the synthesis of the two deities as final.

Sayan holds that it is in her synthesis with Saraswati that vak, ordinary speech, undergoes her apotheosis into Vak, the goddess. The attribute of Vak being first born from the mouth of Brahaspati also merges with Saraswati. In Atharva-Veda, Yajur-Veda and their organs— Brahmans, Aranyakas and Upanishadas, she emerges as a regular operative deity invoked for destroying a number of diseases, bestowing offspring, affluence, money and food, and for the attainment of other ends—winning love of a woman, or a man, harming a rival in love, or destroying enemies. The YajurVeda treats her almost like a physician. First in YajurVeda and then in Aitareya and Shatapatha-Brahmana Saraswati begins assuming legendary form and role.

As Vak she transforms herself into a woman and goes to Gandharvas, who had a weakness for women, for restoring from them the Soma—divine drink, which they had stolen. As is the legend, Gandharvas guarded Soma—drink of Indra and other gods, in the heaven. Saraswati in Puranas The Puranic conception of Saraswati, though extremely diversified, takes off from where the Rig-Veda had left it. She emerges as one of the three deities of the Puranic Trio of the Divine Female as she was in the Rig-Veda, though her counterparts are now Mahadevi and Mahalakshmi, she herself being Mahasaraswati. As in the Rig-Veda where she had several attributes in common with other deities of Vishwadevah, in Puranas too, at least initially, she had a form largely identical with Mahadevi and Mahalakshmi.

She is benign and kind-hearted but also a fierce warrior and demonslayer carrying same weapons as carried Mahadevi or Mahalakshmi. In popular worship tradition this demon-slayer form of Saraswati was known as Sharda. If anything distinguished this form of her from those of Mahadevi and Mahalakshmi it was her ‘subhravasana’—white attire, again what the Rig-Veda had prescribed. The Rig-Veda perceived Vak as born from the face of Brahaspati and hence his daughter, and 26 7. 3 September 2009 Saraswati, as Virapatni and hence Brahma’s spouse. Much before Puranas Vak and Saraswati merged into one entity and so did largely Brahaspati and Prajapati, in most contexts Brahma being their name.

Thus, on one hand, Saraswati as Vak was Brahma’s daughter and on the other, his consort. Puranas like the Brahmanda Purana allude to her straight as Brahma’s daughter born from his face. As the Brahmanda Purana has it, while meditating on creation before its process was begun, ‘sattvaguna’—sublime nature, began swelling up in Brahma’s mind. First to be born from it was a girl. Brahma asked her who she was. She answered that she was born of him and asked him to fix for her a seat and duties. Brahma named the girl Saraswati and ordained that she should stay on the tip of everybody’s tongue. He instructed her to dance especially on the tongues of learned ones.

He desired that in her another form she should descend on the earth as a river and in yet another form reside in him. As unanimously Puranas acclaim Saraswati to be Brahma’s consort. Usually Puranas allude to Saraswati, Savitri and Gayatri as Brahma’s three consorts. The Matsya Purana, however, opines that these are only the three names of one person. As the Matsya Purana has it, Brahma created a woman out of his own effulgence. The woman—a daughter born from him, became known by four names—Satarupa, Savitri, Gayatri and Brahmani. Her enchanting beauty he first created Vak, his medium, and then using it rendered the universe of form and name manifest.

Saraswati who represented speech was, thus, born of Brahma and was hence his creation, and by her he made the universe manifest and hence was his partner in the act of creation—one way his daughter and other way, his consort. In later Puranas and visual arts— sculpture in particular, she is hardly ever treated as Brahma’s daughter. She appears mostly as his consort and quite often has her name as Brahmani, though unlike Shiva and Parvati who are often in ‘mithuna’— an aspect of love, and invoked jointly sometimes as Uma-Maheshvara and at other times as Shiva-Parvati, Brahma and Saraswati have very rarely a ‘mithuna’ form and far rarely a joint name. Other Exploits of Saraswati

Puranas attribute to Saraswati several exploits involving unique wisdom and prowess. After great austerities Kumbhakarana, Ravana’s elder brother, came to Brahma for a boon. Brahma learned by foresight that he wanted him (Brahma) to grant him ‘Nirdevatva’—absence of gods. Brahma sought Saraswati’s help. Saraswati, already staying at the tip of Kumbhakarana’s tongue, made it utter ‘Nidratva’—sleep, which was granted. Padma Purana credits Saraswati to have saved the world and all from ‘Badavagni’—fire ensued as the result of the great austerities of Aurva, great grandfather of Parasurama. For obtaining ability to avenge the killing of his ancestors by Kshatris Aurva took to great penance.

By the power of austerities his sublime wrath transformed into cosmic flames that began engulfing the world. The horrified gods rushed to Brahma for rescue. They told him that Saraswati alone could save the world by conducting ‘Badavagni’ into the western sea. On instructions from Brahma Saraswati conducted Badavagni into the sea, with which the oceans still boil and occasionally send back its flames. On her way to the western sea Saraswati had a brief halt at Pushkara and redeemed people’s sins, something that waters of Pushkara are believed to yet do. in Puranas too, at least initially, she had a form largely identical with Mahadevi and Mahalakshmi. esmerised even Brahma who falling in love with her looked at her with lustful eyes. Noticing it she turned to his right to evade his glance but Brahma created a face on the right side of his head and continued to gaze at her. She likewise turned from one direction to other but Brahma created a face on each of his four sides and kept his gaze fixed on her. The helpless woman rose into the sky but Brahma created a fifth sky-wards looking face. Finding escape impossible she yielded to his desire and the two were then onwards husband and wife honeymooning for a hundred years. To them was born a son named Swayambhuva or Virat. Thus, Puranas perceive Saraswati dually as Brahma’s daughter and consort.

Whatever the myth in regard to duality of relationship between Brahma and Saraswati, the Vedic mysticism, which the Puranas often seek to unfold using fiction, seems to reveal a different cosmic truth. The universe, as it is revealed to the knowing mind, is the universe of ‘form’ and ‘name’, and it is through Vak—speech or syllable, that it becomes known. Brahma, the Creator, could not reveal his creation to the knowing mind unless he had Vak to be his medium. Hence, 27 Saraswati’s Imagery The Vedas conceived her as both black and white but essentially effulgent and lustrous—‘jyotiswarupa’, in body-colour, and as abounding in gold— ‘hiranyavartaniya’, in her adornment.

Other attributes used for her in Vedas are ‘chitrayus’—well shaped and elegantly modeled like a picture, ‘suvigraha’— having a beautiful figure, ‘swarupa’—endowed with great aesthetic beauty, ‘supish’—well-adorned, ‘subhra’—clad in white, and several others reflecting benignity, spiritualism and energy in her being. The Vedic perception of Saraswati’s personality and appearance continues in Puranas as well but they also add some new features which immensely strengthen 7. 3 September 2009 her deity form. Her figures brim with unique vigour and timeless youth. She is now four-armed. In her initial stage as demon-slayer Sharda, she carried in them attributes of annihilation but later Agni Purana type subsequent exts represent her as carrying in her three hands a string of beads, book and vina— lyre, more characteristic of the deity of learning, arts, music and creativeness, and the fourth, held in a posture of ‘varada’—boon-conferring, ‘abhaya’— imparting fearlessness, or as interpreting. In one of her hands she sometimes carried a pot, perhaps to denote her water-carrying distinction—a feature of the river-goddess. In view of her Shaivite links she sometimes carried attributes of Shiva, and sometimes a lotus suggestive of her prior links with Vishnu. Saraswati has far many forms in Jain and Buddhist pantheons. Saraswati as a Jain deity essentially carries a Tirthankara idol in her coiffure, and as the Buddhist, a number of Buddhist attributes, various bodycolours and postures Some of Saraswati’s early idols are also two-armed.

In contemporary art, too, she is sometimes represented with normal two arms Puranas assign to her a lotus seat and a swan as her vehicle— symbolising purity, chastity and detachment which Saraswati represents in her being. Her votive images are often defined with an elaborate ‘prabhavali’—firearch. Her most forms reveal rhythm but not dance. However, a few of her early dancing images are also reported, one from Udeshvara temple, Udayapur in Madhya Pradesh. As deity, river Saraswati has the same imagery as has Saraswati the goddess except that corresponding to her moving character she is more often conceived as swan-riding, not as lotusseated or seated. edicated to her in the southern part of the country, Saraswati as Sharda has been since ages the presiding deity of the entire Kashmir region and was widely worshipped in the north and Central India. Even Kashmir’s classical script is named as Sharda after her name. In Bengal, too, she has great significance. Not in her Vedic form, or as the river goddess, or even as the consort of Brahma who himself is no longer in worship, Saraswati enshrines every Indian mind, if not many sanctums, as the goddess of learning representing supreme wisdom, all-knowing intellect, and as nurturer of creative faculties—literature, arts, music, dance… and occupies pedestals and shelves of lacs of institutions devoted to pursuit of learning.

Not only a sanctum-deity, Saraswati is an auspicious presence that elevates the mind and promotes right knowledge. When with Ganesh, she assures right perspective and accomplishment of the goal, while Ganesh, the detriment-free auspicious beginning. Since ancient times and all across medieval days, on Vasantotsava—Spring festival, which is celebrated on Vasanta-panchami—the fifth day of Phalguna, the last of the twelve months of Indian calendar, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. Vasanta-panchami marks the beginning of man’s pursuit of learning and Saraswati, who represents it, presides over the occasion. As the tradition has it, with Vasanta-panchami is begun a new educational session and a child writes on the day his ever first alphabet.

Educational institutions and private persons hold special rites to hail and worship the goddess and believing minds place their books and pens around her image so that they reveal to them more learning and greater wisdom. Worship of Saraswati Like Lakshmi, who, as Padmavati, has many shrines Source: www. 4to40. com Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary and International Day of Non Violence Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia in association with Soka Gakkai International Australia is ogranising an event to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary and International Day of Non Violence. The Program / Activities will include prayer songs, brief speeches and a Gandhi Kind Ikeda Exhibition on World Peace. Date & Time: October 2009, 7:00 for 7:30 pm start finishing at 9:00 pm Venue: Soka Gakkai International Australia, 3 Parkview Drive, Sydney Olympic Park Gandhi Centre in association with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Australia and Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) will commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary and International Day of Non Violence in Church Street Mall in front of Parramatta Town Hall from 12:00 – 3:00 pm. Activities include lectures by dignitaries and religious leaders, exhibition of books on Mahatma Gandhi, demonstration of Vegetarian Cooking. 28 7. 3 September 2009 President of Bosnia & Herzegovina receives Founder of Yoga in Daily Life, H. H.

Swamiji Bosnia & Herzegovina President Chairman Zeljko Komsic welcomed this distinguished saint and humanist, and expressed appreciation and gratefulness about his efforts in promoting peace. His Holiness Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, had an extensive and amicable talk with the President. They exchanged in particular their views of a multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-confessional environment as it exists in Bosnia & Herzegovina as well as in India. Tolerance, respect and understanding are the base of a peaceful living together in every community, and especially in such a multi-ethnic situation. “For me it is a blessing to be in this wonderful country and this beautiful city, among people who really have a great heart and where I have many friends”, Swamiji emphasized.

His Holiness Swamiji pointed out in particular that it is essential for the children and young people to learn how to harmoniously and benevolently co-exist and communicate with people of different believes and cultures. Today’s youth does not accept dictatorial behavior and commands, but still they need and want to be guided by true authority and competence. It is the responsibility of the political and religious leaders—and in general of every adult to give a good example to the youth, to economize our needs, share our resources, give chances and meet each other with good-will and understanding. The President stated: “You are an example of how one person can direct a lot of people in a positive direction and I believe that your visit to Bosnia & Herzegovina will generate positive energy in all citizens of this country. He added that Bosnia has always been a place of coexistence of different religions and respect for diversity where people have always lived with each other, not next to each other, and that the visit of such a prominent spiritual teacher is another important contribution to the understanding of Eastern philosophy and way of life in Bosnia & Herzegovina. To us in Bosnia & Herzegovina your work and message means a lot because you promote a noble idea throughout the whole world, and we in Bosnia & Herzegovina require noble men and noble ideas. As the highest sign of respect, gratitude and recognition of Swamiji’s efforts and outstanding achievements, he handed a gift to this distinguished spiritual master. At the end of the meeting, the President expressed his appreciation about Swamiji’s visit to Bosnia & Herzegovina and granted to His Holiness his heartfelt acknowledgement, friendship and hospitality: “Feel free to come to Bosnia at any time because here you have true friends. ” H. H.

Swamiji, the author of the worldwide renowned scientific system “Yoga in Daily Life”, has been recognized as one of the foremost spiritual teachers and humanitarian workers, UN Ambassador of Peace, who since nearly forty years tirelessly has promoted the idea of living for the benefit of others. Swamiji dedicated his whole life to humanitarian, spiritual and environmental work and his untiring efforts for tolerance and world peace was awarded by social, political and medical dignitaries around the world. Swamiji has initiated many inter-faith dialogues, prayers for world peace and peace conferences, and has actively participated in many international congresses and conferences.

His activities have expanded in many socially beneficial projects, such as drug addiction prevention, care and education for poor children, building hospitals and shelters for abandoned animals, preservation of cultural and archaeological values, and many others. He said, in the present moment, his first concern is the pathway to world peace, in cooperation with counterparts and humanists from all over the world. 13th September, 2009 Source: www. yogaindailylife. org. au 29 7. 3 September 2009 Science and Vedanta I -Russell Atkins* n the early 19th century, the great hope was that science would bring health, happiness and prosperity to all. Two hundred years later, most people hold the opinion that the scientific method and scientific rationalization has been of unequivocal benefit to humankind. There is now much evidence to the contrary.

Taking a wide view that embraces the whole of modern life, the supposed benefits are certainly not unequivocal. Nothing can exist in isolation from the culture in which it occurs, and while the early scientists applied their intelligence to discovering facts and sifting truth from old errors, their discoveries were soon exploited by another sort of entrepreneur. Pure science gave way to an acceleration of technologies which made even more exploitable discoveries possible. An uncontrolled escalation of change has been the result as science and technology continued their random developments divorced from moral, ecological, and spiritual values and considerations.

Apart from comforts and some conveniences, there has been little of real unequivocal benefit to balance the breadth of the problems that have followed in the wake of it all. Life has certainly become easier in many ways, though not necessarily better. For every problem science has been lauded for solving, two and more have been created, some taking decades to manifest. Two hundred years later, the world has been brought to the brink of annihilation more than once and ecological, social, economic, health, personal and moral problems increase each day. For this reason, the down-side of science and technological exploitation must be affirmed, and that with emphasis. satellites. The real cause of the down-side, is not climate change, but the attitudes of people who won’t.

Sociologists, a c a d e m i c s and others have written about the selfcentred attitudes in vogue as the result of s c i e n c e — induced loss of religious faith and the resultant rampant materialism, causing the slavery to machines, the unbalanced worship of the intellect, the idealization of sexual and sensory gratifications, moral and ethical decay lauded as self-expression and freedom, social and personal maladjustments, consumerism promoted by manufacturers of unessential possessions and junk foods, ecological disasters and the constant threat of mass destruction. All these maladies are not due to the application of the scientific method of enquiry into nature, but its misuse, unthinking application and greedy exploitation. Corruption by commerce is rife. The genesis of the problem is also due to the attitudes of the culture that has pplauded and funded it all. Sciences is the product of the Christian ethos that sees nature as a thing to be dominated, exploited and used in any way we wish. Its pride in itself and its methods, refusing to give any attention, let alone credence, to other methods of knowledge or the more spiritual interpretations of nature, is simply another form of the blind prejudice and dogmatic attitudes that once went under the name of Christianity. The Causes of the Down-Side That the excesses of technological development have produced the crisis of climate change is now little argued about, though its involvement in cataclysms is not mentioned as yet.

To draw billions of litres of oil and gas out of the mantle and not expect it to result in an increase of catastrophes while over-weighting it with masses of huge buildings is altogether unreal. World-wide climate changes in the past have been rare and slow, a part of geological evolution or balances. Man-made ones are fast and against the order nature always seeks—even through upheavals. Natural world-wide climate changes give time for creatures to move or adapt. The one now threatening all life on the planet doesn’t. It is the product of pollution, which now extends beyond the earth, as the space above the polluted biosphere has become a junk yard of old Myths and Legends

Yet science has as many myths and legends as any religion. So much of scientific doctrine is supposition taken as facts. According to the opinions of orthodox scientists, life began on earth as an accident, by the chance catalysis of gases and developed to greater complexity by chance. It then evolved under its own steam through further chance happenings called mutations and adapt ions until the series of accidents 30 7. 3 September 2009 resulted in Homo Sapiens. The sapiens of homo, we are told, is a product of matter, the brain excreting consciousness as the stomach excretes hydrochloric acid. Humans are merely superior apes, activated by instincts,

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