Friday December 15, 2017
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Oprah Winfrey’s television series ‘Belief’ set to explore Hinduism

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New Delhi: Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming TV series Belief to showcase Reshma Thakkar, a young Indian-American Hindu woman from Chicago, who in search of answers, purpose, and self-discovery, quits her cushy healthcare IT job and embarks on a pilgrimage to India hoping to connect with others of her faith at the Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest spiritual congregation.

Thakkar’s story is among the many stories about faith and spiritual practices around the world that will be featured on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s television series titled, “Belief.”

The seven-part series, which premiered Feb 1 on Discovery Channel, will air every Monday.

The series will also bring to light the story of Anju, a young woman in central India who has committed to forgo all of life’s conveniences and permanently sever ties with her family in order to be initiated as a Jain nun. Anju must first pass three tests designed to challenge her commitment, according to the network.

This groundbreaking original series invites viewers to witness some of the world’s most fascinating spiritual journeys through the eyes of the believers. Traveling to the far reaches of world, and to places where cameras have rarely been, “Belief” searches the origins of diverse faiths and the heart of what really matters, added the network.

The series also touches upon India and one of the world’s largest religions, Hinduism, along with showcasing the Indian festival of Holi.

(The story was first published at India West. Picture Courtesy: xonecole.com)

 

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Ram Setu : Where Science meets Hindu religion, Science affirms but Congress Party denies

Science Channel affirms that Ram Setu was man made not natural, NASA released images

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Ram Setu
Ram Setu between India and Sri Lanka (Pic by NASA)
  • Science channel affirms that Ram Setu was man made not natural
  • In 2007 Congress Party submitted an affidavit in court saying Ram Setu is a myth

An American science channel on Tuesday affirmed on the existence of Ram Setu, saying that there exist evidence suggesting that the bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka was man-made not natural.

The Discovery Communications-produced show, “Ancient Land Bridge”, quotes American archaeologists to affirm that 30-mile line between India and Sri Lanka is made up of rocks that are 7,000 years old, older than the sandbar supporting them, which is approx 4,000 years old. The video claims that the structure is man made, not natural, citing images from a NASA satellite. Interestingly, the carbon dating of beaches near Dhanushkodi and Mannar Island sync with the date of Ramayana.

Ram Setu in Ramayana
Ram Setu (Satellite image by NASA)

The description of Ram Setu in Ramayana

In ‘Yuddha Kanda’ of the Ramayana, building of Ram Setu has been described. Rama Setu took 5 days to build by under the supervision of architects Neel and Nala. It is believed that Ram Setu is made of a chain of limestone shoals. It is 30 Km Long and 3 Km Wide. It Starts from Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island and ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island. Sea in these areas is very shallow. In Ramayana it is mentioned that the bridge was built by stones and these stone which floated on water by touch of Nala & Neel.

Ram Setu
Pic credit : Promo released by the US-based Science Channel

Politics on Ram Setu

Ram Setu is the historical and archeological evidence of Ramayana. The new findings by NASA have already sparked a political debate in the country with BJP leaders questioning the Congress’ previous stand where the party had told the Supreme Court that there was no historical proof that Lord Rama had ever existed. Congress party made u-turn and claimed they never questioned existence of Lora Ram. But In 2005, the UPA-1 government had proposed a shipping canal project that would have dredged the area and damaged the formation on sea, referred to as the Ram Setu by Hindus. The project was thus challenged by the BJP in the apex court.

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Responding on the new affirmations, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “This is what the BJP has been saying all along.” Firebrand BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “the US scientists said what was already know”. On Tuesday, Smriti Irani posted the trailer of the show on her Twitter account, saying, “Jai Shri Ram.”

Ram Setu is the national heritage of India and it must be preserved.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US

Gurbir S Grewal has been nominated to be the next attorney general of US and would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in United States

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US.
Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US. Facebook
  • Gurbir S Grewal is nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US
  • He would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position

In a historic first, a distinguished Sikh public prosecutor “who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand” has been nominated to be the next attorney general of the US state of New Jersey.

If Gurbir S. Grewal’s nomination by Democrat Governor-elect Phil Murphy is approved by the State Senate early next year, he will be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in the United States and the second Indian-American, after Kamala Harris, who held the position in California before her election to the US Senate.

Announcing the nomination in the state capital, Trenton, on Tuesday, Murphy said: “In light of all that is being thrown at us by the president, we need an attorney general unafraid to join our fellow states in using the law to protect all New Jersey residents.”

Grewal, 44, is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from New York city. He was appointed to by the current Republican Governor Chris Christie and that is likely to mute any opposition the senate.

Symbolic of the public acceptance of minorities despite scattered incidents of bigotry, two Sikhs were elected mayors last month, Ravi Bhalla in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Preet Didbal in Yuba City, California.

Vin Gopal, who became the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey State Senate last month, said that Grewal is someone “not only eminently qualified, but who will bring a perspective to the office that is diverse and long-overdue.”

After Murphy made the announcement, Grewal said: “I wanted to give back to a country that has given us and other immigrant families like us so much.”

Turning to his three daughters, Kyrpa, Mayher and Mahek, who were with him, he said: “As someone who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand throughout my life, I wanted to work to ensure we all live in and that the three of you grow up in a fair and just society.”

Grewal added: “I wanted to perhaps also show people that while I and others like me may look different or worship differently, that we, too, are committed to this country.”

Hailing Grewal’s nomination, Rajwant Singh, the co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign, said: “These are exactly the kind of role models our youngsters need to feel proud of being a Sikh and an American.”

“While America could be seen having a very polarized situation politically and yet there are some very shining moments to show that people of all backgrounds can aspire for top positions,” he added.

South Asian Bar Association President Rishi Bagga, said: “The decision to appoint a visible minority as the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey reflects the diversity of the state and of the US, and is especially important in a time where minorities and immigrants have often felt targeted by law enforcement.”

Attorney General is a very powerful position New Jersey heading the Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the state police.

Grewal has earlier served as an assistant federal prosecutor in New York and in New Jersey, where he was also the chief of the Economic Crimes Unit.

In the administration of former President Barack Obama, Indian Americans have held senior law positions. Neal Kumar Katyal was an Acting Solicitor General.

Sri Srinivasan, now a federal appeals court judge in Washington, did a stint as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General.

Vanita Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

US President Donald Trump has appointed Uttam Dhillon to be his special assistant and associate counsel. (IANS)

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Exclusive Interview of Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley

Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley in an interview with NewsGram talked about missionary-marxist-jehadi nexus and a lot more

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  • “Christians have formed a multinational conversion business, they have created giant corporations with international connections operating worldwide, with international funding. India is their prime target. Hindus should not be this naive, they must assert their rights and identity” – Dr. David Frawley

New Delhi – In an exclusive interview with NewsGram’s Sub-Editor Shaurya Ritwik, Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley talked about necessity of Yoga and Ayurveda for a healthy lifestyle, science of self realisation, essence of Hindu Dharma, Ram Mandir Ayodhya, marxist-missionary-jehadi nexus of breaking India forces and a lot more.

Dr. David Frawley, First of all I would like to thank you for all the literary contributions you made for Hinduism, for being so vocal about human rights of Hindus and for inspiring us in many ways.

Thank You very much, Shaurya.

Dr. Frawley, you have written many books on Ayurveda and Yoga. We are witnessing a growing inclination towards Yoga everywhere in world but somehow Ayurveda is still not widely accepted in medical use as compared to pharmaceutical medicines. How can Ayurveda be utilised in mainstream medical treatment and how much effective is it?

Well actually, I have seen the Ayurvedic situation improve over the last 34 years that I have known about it. As you know, the British closed the Ayurvedic schools in India, so it only became a private study. Then after independence the Ayurveda underwent modernisation and development in independent India, and that include developing basically BAMS Ayurveda which include a lot of modern medicine, which is helpful in some ways but also have eliminated traditional Ayurveda. It changed Ayurveda quite a bit, removing things like Yoga, spirituality from it, largely for social and political purposes. But in past few years Ayurveda in India is again bringing in more traditional elements, more pulse diagnosis, more connection with Yoga, that is happening slowly, but it still has a long way to go as BAMS syllabus is very restricted. At the same time we have seen the improvement in selling of Ayurvedic products, for example Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, Dabur, Himalayan etc. These Indian companies are producing better quality of products and broader range of Ayurvedic medicines. But the education system tends to looks down on Ayurveda, and the people who study modern medicine often give negative view of Ayurveda. And then people today often want quick pills to solve their problems whereas Ayurveda emphasises natural healing which requires us to change our behaviour, which means we have to change our diet, our patterns of sleeping, improve our exercise. Our state of well being is the product of our behaviour. Ayurveda is gaining respect in other parts of world. In the west people are more concerned with rejuvenation, improving their health and the positive way of promoting longevity. In terms of treating chronic elements and improving lifestyle Ayurveda has a lot to offer. You must understand that your health is the product of how you live, you can take a pill once in a while but in a long term you should have a healthy lifestyle and Ayurveda teaches that.

Dr. Frawley, in today’s corporate setting life is very fast, people have no time to look beyond materialistic world. In such chaos how can we get connected to our roots and dharma? How to move ahead in spiritual path of self realisation?

This is again a problem all over the world as people don’t have time. People have lots of money but they don’t have time. We have to understand that our time does matter. Unfortunately, there is no solution to healthy and happy life other than quality time to improve your life. There is no pill you can take. Young people are taking pills before they turn 40, they are depressed, they are unhappy, they are disturbed. So we have to change the lifestyle and we have to put pressure on the businesses to give time to people to renew their productivity. when you are young you need to create a foundation of positive habits for the future. So, this is a challenge, there is no easy way out. There are yoga practices, pranayama which you must devote an hour everyday, not just for physical health but also for spiritual well being. You need to empty the mind, do some meditation, do some chanting, because otherwise we carry the stress, over and over from one day to another. This is a suicidal problem.

Interview of Dr. Frawley
Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley aka Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Photo Credit : Shaurya Ritwik)

Dr. Frawley, you have been very vocal about missionary-marxist-jehadi nexus in India which no politician can ever say out of vote bank fear or political correctness. We want to know how severely we are affected by this toxic breaking India nexus, and how we should resist to these forces?

This was the problem I recently witnessed in Kerala, it was a major problem there. Infact when I was driving down the roads I saw posters for communist gatherings with pictures of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, perhaps only place on Earth where you see such pics nowadays. In Kerala we also found out that the missionaries are aligned with communists, which they never do in United States or other countries, they are poles apart otherwise. And also this Marxist-Jehadi alliance is strong in South India. So as Hindu forces are getting stronger, the opposition is now forced to unite. Just for example we saw in elections the anti-BJP parties all got together even though they were fighting among each other, have different ideologies. In Kerala this is a big problem, karnataka also has this problem, Tamil Nadu also, to some extent everywhere. The main thing is that Hindu society is to be united, they should be ready to protest and take a stand. You can’t always be nice and say we are all good, we are all the same. Well, the point is hindus accept all religions but the other religions are still trying to convert Hindus. If communal harmony depends upon letting hindus being converted and loose their religion, that’s not communal harmony. Its a continuation of colonialism and religious extremism. So unity in Hindu society is most important. And also voting. If you vote for these guys you can’t complain them being in power. India is a country where Muslims and Christians are encouraged to vote their religion but Hindus are not. In this world today power is with those who are in power so you have to have a political paradigm. It is a long battle because India has been under siege by missionaries, marxist, colonial and Islamist forces for many centuries. After independence the control of british army and administration was gone but the marxist influence continued, the missionaries actually grew more power and the congress party was promoting the christian and muslim vote banks, so even after the independence of India the siege against Hindus at a cultural level has not ended so that need to be challenged.

Dr. Frawley, when we see communists of China and Russia, they are at least nationalist. But in India communists are very much anti-national, anti-hindu. We generally find in India that Hindus are against Hindutva cause in name of secularism. Why is this amnesia among Hindus regarding our past?

Well, Russia is now a Christian country, Russians have thrown out communist history, China is communist in name only, Chinese have confucian schools all across country promoted by government, you don’t have vedic schools by government in India. And you are right, Indian left is anti national, even Congress party is anti national, someone like Kapil Sibal arguing the case against Ram Mandir shows they are anti-hindu too. These people are putting their own privilege above all. India has been run by a dynasty, and they want their power to retain. This needs to be exposed. Now the fact is that thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed  and after independence we got only one back. How can a free India not have a temple for Lord Ram? Ram is your national image. It wasn’t just muslims, but Jawaharlal Nehru who stopped Ram Mandir Ayodhya. And even today, it is these leftist, marxist and Congress who are trying to stop Ram Mandir nirmaan in Ayodhya. Rahul Gandhi is visiting Somnath temple but it is just hypocrisy. You go to Kashi Vishwanath and you will see that the back part of temple is still a mosque, even in Krishna Janambhoomi. But again, Hindus must unite, you can’t just let go. Hindus need to recognise their political and social power.

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Dr. Frawley, We generally see that Islamists and Christians use religion as a political force, they tend to recognise political power whereas most of the Hindus believe that religion and politics should not be mixed up. Hindus also believe that secularism and inherent inclusiveness of Hinduism makes it special. Some people argue that even after centuries of foreign rule we survived because of this soft nature but they forget that once Afghanistan, Indonesia, Myanmar etc were also Hindu. Do you believe this soft nature of Hindus make them easy target for civilisational jihad? Do you feel somehow Hindus are also responsible if they are letting their poor section of society being converted by missionaries?

Even Mongolia was traditionally buddhist, now its getting christianised. There was big Buddhist and Hindu influences in Central Asia. Hindus are tolerant and they allow muslims and christians to convert them. Hindus say all religions are same, Muslims don’t, Christians don’t so it is clearly a one way street. And Muslims and Christians are giving bad image of Hindus. They are constantly making an attempt to take you over. As you asked, of course Hindus are also responsible. Hindus have to challenge missionaries. And they have to be willing to pay for things, to take care of underprivileged section of their society, to help them overcome poverty. Hindus have to be stronger in their expression, their assertion, their identity. In few decades Christain-Islamic alliance will eliminate you, don’t be naive. Christians have formed a multinational conversion business, they have created giant corporations with international connections, with international funding. India is a main country in world which allow missionaries in, China does not. Islamic countries do not. Yet the missionaries are criticizing India and not China or Islamic countries because they have some levarage here. Like in Gujarat the bishop can ask christians to vote, that does’t occur in other countries. That’s a blatant interference in public affairs. These groups are surviving in India because Hindus are tolerant. Hindu society must introspect and resist such forces.

Dr. David Frawley, In India the education system has been long controlled by leftists, most of the history taught to us was distorted, for last 60 years leftist mindset was imposed in academics. When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister it was expected that some course correction will follow. But we can not see any drastic changes yet. The moment government tries to rectify previously committed blunders in academia, national and international media start screaming the song of intolerance. Government is also concerned about its secular image (pseudo-secular) worldwide and this is taken as a leverage by breaking India forces. Will it ever be possible for government to course correct hundreds of years of distortion?

Yeah, but that takes a little bit of time. And when this govt came in power, the previous Congress government bankrupted all the institutions. There was no money to run the country. There was corruption everywhere. So even keeping the country afloat was difficult. Then they have ruined all the international status, economically and politically. So naturally it takes time, which is going to take good 10 years at least. So its important that Hindus continue to apply pressure but the first thing is you have to stay in power. And secondly you have to workout things bit by bit, and many of these problems have various related complications. Make sure to increase the political power. For example when Yogi Adityanath took charge in Uttar Pradesh that radically changed the situation in U.P. So changes are going on, for example in Madhya Pradesh they are starting Adi Shankara Yatra. Also, Hindus have to educate their own children, you can’t wait for schools to tell your child what Hinduism is. For Christians and for Muslims religion is simplistic, believe in Jesus and Bible and you are a Christian, believe in Mohammad and Quran and you are Muslim, the Hindu tradition is one of Sadhana and practice, its about becoming a better person, so that requires more effort. We must understand that Hindu Dharma has a much broader view of life. Islam is growing by reproduction, not by thoughts. Christianity is declining in Europe and united States, churches have to import priests from India to give sermons.

People say India is the first home of Dr. David Frawley. You have been coming to India for so many years, writing about Hinduism, Ayurveda & Yoga and Indian culture & civilisation. What was your transition point towards Hinduism and how your love for India grew over time?

Well you see there was several transition points, not just one. As I grew up in late 60s, in my later teen, we already had Gurus from India, teachings were available of Paramhansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Aurobindo, Raman Maharishi. I was fortunate enough to coming in contact with those teachings during formative stage of my thoughts. So they were part of my growing up. So the main background was Yoga Vedanta. In studying Shri. Aurobindo’s work I also came in contact with vedas and that gave me an interest in Indian history. While studying Rigveda I found a very advanced civilisation. I realised that ancient history of India has been distorted. And then when I came to India, I was surprised to see the anti Hindu sentiments. I saw Indians were not interested in Aurobindo and Vivekananda but they were interested in Karl Marx. In Rotary club of Mumbai, I criticised Marx and people were up an arms against me. I said Marx had a very small mind, you can put entire brain of Marx in one corner of Aurobindo or Vivekanand thoughts. The vedantic view, Karma, Moksha, self realisation made perfect sense to me. Other things seemed to be very superficial. And over time I gained the greater understanding, the broader feel of Sanatan Dharma.

Padma Bhushan Dr. David Frawley interviewed by Shaurya Ritwik in New Delhi, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik