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Three U.S. citizens held in Laos last month for handing out religious tracts were “treated well” during questioning by police, but Lao Christians still face persecution at the hands of state authorities, the missionary group to which the three belong said this week.
“Yes, they were treated well, and we appreciate that,” Eric Blievernicht, operations manager for the Wyoming-based group Vision Beyond Borders, told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday in a brief telephone interview.
“They‘re home safe now, and they’re looking forward to continuing their ministry,” Blievernicht said.
The three volunteers—identified by their given names, Wayne, Autumn, and Joseph—were picked up by police in a scenic corner of northern Laos’ Luang Namtha province on April 8 after handing out religious materials to villagers, a policeman and a witness told RFA in an earlier report.
Authorities then seized their passports and took them to a guesthouse in the provincial capital, about 60 kms (36 miles) from where they had been arrested, but allowed them free movement of their quarters and the surrounding village, and the three were deported to Thailand 10 days later.
Throughout their period of detention, “the team was treated relatively well,” Vision Beyond Borders said in a recent statement.
“They were never hollered at, the officials never laid a hand on them, and they even provided bottled water when the team was at the [police] station,” the missionary group, which distributes bibles and recordings of religious messages around the world, said.
Speaking to RFA, Blievernight said however that Lao Christians themselves face greater difficulties every day, with Lao authorities “harassing Christians and breaking up meetings and making it difficult for them to gather.”
“So we’re continuing to pray for Laos and want to do whatever we can to support the churches there,” he said.
‘Continuing serious abuses’
In a report released April 29, the bipartisan U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) placed Laos on its Tier 2 Watch List for what it called continuing serious abuses of religious freedoms.
Though the one-party communist state’s constitution “ostensibly protects its people’s inherent right to religious freedom,” regulations controlling religious observance in Laos are vaguely worded and open to interpretation by local authorities, USCIRF said.
“Some Lao authorities remained deeply suspicious of Christians, sometimes resulting in social exclusion, harassment, and arbitrary detention by law enforcement officials,” the rights group said, adding that it had received reports throughout 2018 of persecution of Christians in Savannakhet, “a province known for its religious intolerance.” (RFA)
By Maria Wirth
Things are finally changing for the better for Hindu Dharma. For too long, many educated Indians, including the first Prime Minister Jawahar Nehru, had accepted the biased view of the British that Hinduism is inferior to the Abrahamic religions, without realizing, that this was a clever strategy to hide the fact that Christianity and Islam are based on a ‘must-belief’ story and Hinduism in contrast, is based on verifiable insights of the Vedas and a genuine enquiry into the truth.
For the first time in independent India, now a postgraduate course in Hindu Dharma is included at the Benares Hindu University. It reminded me that already almost one year ago, a centre to study the practice and philosophy of Nath Panth was established at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University by Yogi Adityanath, who himself is a Nath Yogi and the Mahant of Gorakhpur Mutt, apart from being the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. A conference was held in March 2021, to which I contributed the following thoughts:
Western theories dominate in Indian universities
Indians generally are highly intelligent. But unfortunately, the education system does not bring out the full potential of students and is very tough on them.
Firstly, due to teaching in English medium, in which the majority of students are not fluent.
Secondly, mainly Western theories are taught. This may have advantages in science departments but not in humanities. Western academics may have good intentions to create an equal and just society, but wisdom is lacking and the outcome is a rather unhappy and divided society, which does not see any meaning in life. Young Indians, who study humanities through a Western lens, are in danger to become self-righteous atheists who look down on their Dharma, without knowing anything about it. They are made to believe that they are ‘modern’ and not ‘superstitious like the masses’. And they can easily be used by forces who want to harm India.
It is incredible that the profound wisdom, which Indians have inherited, was so far not taught to students.
But why Hindu Dharma was not taught?
The British realized that there was valuable knowledge in Indian heritage; otherwise, they would not have shipped thousands of manuscripts to Britain. In fact, ancient Indian texts are all over the world, in Germany, in the Vatican, in Russia, USA, China… Many of those texts were taken to the West by missionaries.
It is incredible that the profound wisdom, which Indians have inherited, was so far not taught to students. |Unsplash
The British did not want to let Indians know that they had far greater scientific knowledge, and also tools for inner empowerment and self-realization. They introduced English education and labeled Sanskrit texts as “religious”, and “primitive”. Incidentally, several education ministers after Independence were Muslims who, too, dismissed the Indian tradition as worthless.
This was unfortunate, because several generations of students went through higher education without getting connected to their roots. However, outside of the English education, these roots were still strong in the society and the trust in a Supreme Being was still deep. Wandering Sadhus and villagers generally know more about the meaning of life and how to be happy and compassionate, than many Oxford, Harvard or JNU professors.
The crucial role of Nath Yogis
The Yogis and Siddhas of Nath Sampradaya played a crucial role in keeping Indians connected to their roots and were a great solace for the masses during the difficult times when Hindus were under oppressive Muslim and British rule. Their intense tapas and the resultant supernatural powers inspired faith and devotion in common people. The incredible miracles which Nath yogis like Mast Nath, performed, gave confidence to people that they were not forsaken, that great saints were among them, that Mahayogi Gorakhnath was again among them. The tradition of Nath Panth is vibrant and alive. Its influence spreads over the whole of India, Nepal, Tibet. I feel a great affinity with Nath/ Kanphata yogis, as I had a guru from the Nath Sampradaya. I met Nath Yogis from Mangalore till Kedarnath. These Yogis contribute much more to the well-being, prosperity and uplifting of Indian society, than western academia.
The wisdom of Nath Panth
The wisdom of Nath Panth, is about the ultimate truth. It is about cosmology, metaphysics, philosophy, psychology, physiology and also about religion, provided religion is defined as the acknowledgement, worship and devotion for the Highest, from whom all emanates.
Mahayogi Goraknath explains in great detail in the Siddha Siddhanti Paddhati, how the universe came into being, or rather APPEARS to have come into being, and what our place in it is. It explains that we are not a small person in a big world, but one with Shiva, who is ultimately unmanifest, but has, due to the stirring of his innate Shakti, manifested as all these separate forms, who have forgotten their true nature, their Shiva nature.
From this follows that the goal of life is to re-discover that we are one with Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahma, with blissful awareness. If we get even a little in touch with this Divine Essence, it improves greatly the quality of our life. And if we could do the intense tapas and full control of senses of dedicated yogis, I can only guess how amazing life would be.
To get in touch with our essence, sadhana and a guru are necessary. It is not only a mental or intellectual exercise. It involves one’s full being – body, prana, mind, intellect and Atma, all the five koshas. It is not about ‘knowing’ something separate from us, but it is about becoming what we always already are.
Our essence is hidden under thoughts. Thoughts are the content of our awareness or consciousness. Pure awareness is always present underneath and we need to give it space to shine through. We need to focus and explore the inner realm. It is worth it. In contrast, the West focuses exclusively outside. Even ‘consciousness’ is something for them ‘outside’.
Forces which try to eliminate Hindu Dharma
Hindus need to be aware that their mere existence is a problem for those who have already destroyed all other ancient civilizations, like Inkas, Mayas, Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Greece. In fact, all these ancient cultures may have been connected in earlier times. The Puranas speak of kings who ruled over the whole earth. Yet today, only the Indian civilization is still standing. It has lost a lot of knowledge and a lot of influence over the last 1000 years, but it is still here and those who have successfully destroyed all other cultures, work hard to destroy the Indian culture, too.
Which are those destructive forces?
Christianity and Islam say it openly that the world needs to get rid of Hinduism. The far Left is supporting them. Many communists in Western and Indian universities work towards the destruction of Hinduism by giving their bias against Hinduism an academic cover. It is an agenda which has many players, and a lot of money is involved. Not only media, but also social media is part of it. The attacks on Hinduism, Hindus and especially Brahmins are unrelenting. Even ISIS gets better media coverage than Hindu groups like RSS.
Why this opposition and even extreme hatred for Hinduism?
The reason may be that India’s wisdom endangers those three ideologies, because it is empowering the individual and makes sense.
Three important points in favour of Hindu Dharma
If people of other religions come to know about the Hindu concept of One Consciousness as the essence of all, they might realize that the concept of a separate and vengeful God in Christianity and Islam is a distortion and cannot be true.
If they hear of karma and rebirth, it probably would make more sense to them, than the claim by Christianity and Islam that we all have only one life, which decides if we go to heaven or hell.
If they hear that the one consciousness permeates also animals and nature, they might stop this massive daily bloodbath of slaughtering our younger brothers, the animals and respect nature.
True and not so true revelations
However, Christianity and Islam don’t allow any debate about their doctrine. They insist that only their religion is the direct, divine revelation, and they declare Hinduism and Hindus as wrong and their gods as devils.
Strangely, Hindus don’t question this claim about their ‘revelation’. They don’t question that the so-called revelation of those two religions includes the claim that unbelievers, like Hindus, will suffer for all eternity in hellfire. Imagine, for all eternity. Can this be true? Can the Almighty be so cruel to his creation?
But when I once wrote on Twitter that the Vedas are the original, divine revelation, several Hindus objected. They felt, we expose ourselves to ridicule by claiming that the Vedas are apaurusheya. They prefer to say that the Vedas have been “composed” and not revealed long, long ago.
But why this diffidence? Have the ancient Rishis ever been proven wrong?
Let us reflect: is it possible for human beings to come to the conclusion that the separate persons and objects in this world are Maya and only APPEAR as real but ultimately are in essence one with pure Consciousness? Or does this knowledge need a revelation from a higher Intelligence?
Modern physics has meanwhile come to the conclusion that all is one energy. Several physicists, like Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Einstein acknowledged that they were inspired by Indian knowledge. Yet even today’s scientists still don’t know how to deal with consciousness, because they tend to see it as an object, which it is not. It is the one and only subject.
Not only scientists, Western philosophers also built their theories on India’s wisdom and came up with the theory of “idealism”, which considers only ideas in the mind as real and not the objects. But their understanding of Consciousness is Kindergarten level, because sadhana is lacking and therefore a deeper understanding through the experience of pure consciousness.
To be scientific does NOT mean that human intelligence must be seen as the ultimate Intelligence in the universe. | Unsplash
Indians have a better understanding because they do not see the origin from where all emanates as an abstract, theoretical concept like the Big Bang, but as a living Presence, as the great Brahman or Shiva. In India there are still yogis who are connected to this wisdom. They can guide how to realize that ‘Yatha Pinde, tatha Brahmande’ (as the microcosm, so the macrocosm) and that indeed ‘Jiva is Shiva’ (Atman is Brahman).
Scientists need to be Yogis.
Now a question: does it disqualify a scientist when he or she is devoted to that Great Intelligence from whom all, including the many Devas emanate? The fact that Hindus worship many divine powers in this universe certainly does NOT disqualify them from being scientific. To be scientific does NOT mean that human intelligence must be seen as the ultimate Intelligence in the universe. Human intelligence is NOT the Ultimate intelligence. Yes, the Ultimate Intelligence is hidden within the human being. Sparks of genius can get through to the human mind. For example, the mathematical insights of Srinivasa Ramanujan were such sparks of genius.
Will ‘modern’ Hindus and mainstream media stand by this insight that devotion for that Supreme Brahman or Shiva is not unscientific but rather helps to have clearer scientific understanding? Or do they believe they need to be irreverent atheists, if they want to be modern?
Albert Einstein once said that the scientist of the future needs to be a man of enhanced awareness. In other words: scientists need to be Yogis. If Hindu society stands by its ancient wisdom which is the foundation of modern science, India will again shine bright in the world.
(Keywords: Hindus, Education, Gorakhpur University, Devas, Science, Scientists, Christianity, Islam, Muslim, Britishers, Vedas, Yogi)
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He was 18 years old when he went missing from his home in the Mahmadpur village in Farrukhabad district. Brajpal returned to his house on Friday after more than ten years and his overjoyed parents could not believe their eyes. But a rival family informed the police as Brajpal's family had filed a kidnapping case against them. The police soon came and took away Brajpal for questioning.
According to the family, the boy went missing in 2012. His parents looked for him for nearly two years, and later approached the local police. It was when the local police allegedly refused to register their FIR, they went to the court and got an FIR registered at the Merapur police station against their neighbours, accusing them of kidnapping their son, following a land dispute.
Brajpal returned to his house on Friday after more than ten years | Unsplash
Anil Pal, the main accused in the kidnapping of the youth, died of illness last month, while his father had also spent one year in jail. Police are interrogating the man, who has not yet revealed anything before the investigators. According to police, Ganga Sahai Baheliya, the father of the missing youth, on the order of the court, had filed a case of kidnapping of his son Brajpal against his neighbour Anil Pal and his father Veere Pal and other aides, Rajkumar, Jaiveer, Shishram and Nanhe Lal, all natives of the village itself.
In his complaint, Baheliya alleged that the said people were having enmity with him over a piece of lease land. "Anil Pal, in connivance with other accused, took his 18-year-old son Brajpal on the pretext of getting a job on March 15, 2012. After that Brajpal could not be traced. When the then circle officer Kayamganj Ashok Kumar Rawat started the investigation, except Anil Pal and his father Veere Pal, the names of other accused were removed from the FIR.
Baheliya alleged that the said people were having enmity with him over a piece of lease land. | Wikimedia Commons
When the main accused Anil was found to be absconding, the police had sent his father, Veere Pal, to jail. After nearly a year in prison, Veere Pal was released on bail," said a police official. Later, the main accused Anil Pal died of illness. The case is pending in the court. Circle officer Kayamganj, Sohrab Alam, who is questioning Brajpal, said that the latter will be presented in the court with all possible details. Further action will be taken by the court. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: missing youth, brajpal, court, rival family, kidnapping, home, lease land, father, return home)
By Quaid Najmi
Junking an empty chips packet, a water bottle or a juice can make Haribaabu Naatesan scowl and perhaps even pick it up carefully -- for, it could be a future piece of 'artwork' in his creative mind. The Mumbai-based artist specialises in recycling all kinds of 'kabaad' (junk) -- organic, inorganic, metal, wood, plastic, e-wastes and even bird feathers -- to create some eye-popping masterpieces of artworks, stupefying the beholder.
Naatesan, 46, collects a staggering 6 tonnes -- or 500 kgs per month -- of all types of oddments as his cheap or virtually free raw material and then deploys his creative juices to convert them to treasured and coveted showpieces. The weird passion for the rejects came out of a dire need -- to secure admission to the prestigious NID, Ahmedabad, for a postgraduate course (2000 batch).
"I had no money for purchasing expensive raw materials to make an attractive art project, a prerequisite for the NID seat... So I just picked up some trash lying around, created a daddy long-legs (spider) and other creatures as my 'offering' for admission," chuckled Naatesan. Needless to say, the selectors were zapped - and 'wasted' no time in awarding a prized seat to the new-found genius on the campus - who promised to be a valuable future asset for 'Save the Planet' efforts.
Naatesan, 46, collects a staggering 6 tonnes -- or 500 kgs per month. | IANS
From January 25, Naatesan will unveil a major public exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, of a dozen stunning designs made entirely from e-waste -- already ranked as a major global nuisance. Titled "Irreversible 2.0 - Obsoleteness is Mukti" there are innovations, with certain interactive surprises in store for the unsuspecting visitors. "When any viewer approaches it, one or other static component springs alive and moves... Some have light sensors that glow when someone is close. In others, discarded CPU fans start rotating, and huge antique tape-recorder cassette wheels start churning if someone goes near," explained Naatesan with a glint.
The dozen arts to go on display are entirely created from e-scrap like motherboards, CPU cooling fans, CDs, floppy discs, laptop keyboards, tape-recorder cassettes, speakers, etc., 6x6 feet dimensions, around 50-60 kgs each, and took up to six months' tough labour to fructify. Some of his other mega-creations include a 800-kg Lord Ganesh idol made from alum, a Volkswagen's Think Blue campaign resulting in a Beetle car made totally from e-scrap.
From January 25, Naatesan will unveil a major public exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. | IANS
Then, there's the magnificent 'Make In India' logo of a 3-dimensional Lion -- commissioned by the Bombay Iron Merchant Association -- which stands on a pedestal at P.D'Mello Road, and a Golden Spiral for the Raheja Groups at Bandra Kurla Complex. There's his biggest creation from waste till date -- a stupendous 17-metre long, 6-metre-tall whale, born from 10 tonnes of automobile junk -- standing on the Gujarat Science City campus.
Fortunately for Naatesan, his wife, Dahlea H. -- a graphic designer -- did not 'junk' him after his love for the junkyard came to the fore, and now their 10-year-old daughter Neinyaa H. has taken the first steps to save the Earth by carefully disposing off even choco-wrappers -- as her Papa beams with pride. Contrary to perception that he goes hunting for 'kabaad', it's the reverse now, given his reputation for hoarding it -- all junk comes to him, even from his housing society, and he recycles it all into unrecognisable art-forms.
'Make In India' logo of a 3-dimensional Lion -- commissioned by the Bombay Iron Merchant Association. | IANS
"Once, the TV remote at home went missing... My wife suspiciously asked me whether I had 'junked' it... Well... I admitted the truth..." laughed Naatesan, explaining his obsession for any unwanted things lying around at home, garden, roadside, etc., and he devises ways to give it 'mukti' (salvation). "When I recycle any unloved junk into art, it ends the recycling and 'liberates' them in the sense that those pieces now find an eternal place for themselves," said Naatesan, summing up his cranky but eco-friendly and money-spinner profession. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Crores , Kabaad, Artworks , Creator, haribaabu-naatesan, junk, salvation eco-friendly, profession, make in india)