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Sectarian Clashes in Myanmar Spell Threat for Buddhists in India


Sectarian clashes between Muslim-minorities and Buddhists in Myanmar have allegedly angered the Islamic militant group, the Indian Mujahideen, and the Buddhist population and monasteries in India are at risk, according to intelligence sources.

India’s National Investigation Agency on Monday alerted the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh about a possible terrorist attack on Buddhists and monasteries across the state, according to the Indian media.

After Bodhgaya in eastern India, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, was attacked by the terrorist group recently, the security at Dalai Lama temple in Dhramshala in north India has been noticeably tightened.

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The National Investigation Agency has reportedly sent a communiqué to the northern Indian state police, cautioning them about possible terrorist attack on monasteries, especially in Dharamshala, the exile seat of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Plans to attack the monasteries in North India were exposed by Obedu Rehman, an operative of the India based terrorist group, according to the Hindustan Times.

Earlier this month, a series of eight blasts occurred in and around the Buddhist shrine in Bodhgaya, injuring two monks- one Tibetan and one Myanmar.

The blasts took place a day after the birthday of the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan spiritual leader described the attacks as “very sad” while noting that it could be an act of “few individuals” and “shouldn’t be considered serious.”

Following the attacks upon the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan government in exile, visited the terrorist-attack sites and urged for calm.

“We are thankful to the Central Government and the Government of Bihar for the security provided at the Mahabodhi Temple and express our full faith in the ongoing investigation of the serial blasts,” said Lobsang Sangay.

The Dalai Lama has sent a letter to the Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi urging to find a way to end the sectarian clashes in the country.

Suu Kyi tlll date has taken no stance regarding the clashes. She recently expressed her wish to contest the 2015 presidential election.  Many people hope that If Suu Kyi wins the presidential election; she might be able to end the clashes in the country.

via Sectarian Clashes in Myanmar Spell Threat for Buddhists in India : News : Headlines & Global News.

What Lies Beneath the Robes -The Rape of Kalu Rinpoche- Buddhist Scandals


The Rape of Kalu Rinpoche

Kalu Rinpoche

In October 2011, a famous and highly-respected reincarnate Tibetan Buddhist master, Kalu Rinpoche, posted a Youtube video in which he reveals the abuse he suffered as a young monk at the hands of adult monks in his monastery. Rinpoche’s allegations caused shockwaves within the Tibetan Buddhist community (particularly his western students). Since that time, I have not heard any Tibetan Buddhist teacher (especially those connected with Kalu Rinpoche) publicly respond to his allegations, let alone suggest there be a formal investigation and those responsible brought to account. One can only hope Kalu Rinpoche’s video exposure of this serious issue has not gone to waste and been brushed under the carpet in the hope that people might forget about it. Rinpoche recently gave an interview in which he details the rape he suffered:

Kalu says that when he was in his early teens, he was sexually abused by a gang of older monks who would visit his room each week. When I bring up the concept of “inappropriate touching,” he laughs edgily. This was hard-core sex, he says, including penetration. “Most of the time, they just came alone,” he says. “They just banged the door harder, and I had to open. I knew what was going to happen, and after that you become more used to it.” It wasn’t until Kalu returned to the monastery after his three-year retreat that he realized how wrong this practice was. By then the cycle had begun again on a younger generation of victims, he says. Kalu’s claims of sexual abuse mirror those of Lodoe Senge, an ex-monk and 23-year-old tulku who now lives in Queens, New York. “When I saw the video,” Senge says of Kalu’s confessions, “I thought, ‘Shit, this guy has the balls to talk about it when I didn’t even have the courage to tell my girlfriend.’” Senge was abused, he says, as a 5-year-old by his own tutor, a man in his late twenties, at a monastery in India.

If that weren’t bad enough, Kalu Rinpoche’s former incarnation was himself accused of sexually exploiting June Campbell, his former female student and translator. Her story is just one in a number of cases of sexually predatory and exploitative conduct by male Tibetan Buddhist teachers towards their (mainly western) female students (see Mary Finnigan’s recent article “The Lamas who give Tibetan Buddhism a bad name”).

Putting aside the issue of sexual misconduct and abuse, much has also been said and written about on the everyday specter of violence as corporal punishment within Tibetan monasteries. Stories of excessive corporal punishment and violence in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are commonplace.

One Tibetan man I know very well (who was a monk for 15 years from the age of 12) told me that physical beating of young monks was the norm in his monastery. He related a story to me of how as a young adolescent he was held down on a bed by four adult monks and beaten with a heavy stick for the minor infraction of being late to morning puja. I can also personally verify that there was a violent incident at a respected Kagyu monastery in Nepal a few years ago, where a young monk used a meat cleaver to attack another young monk about the head and body, almost killing him in the process.

How was it dealt with by the monastery? Instead of handing him over to the police on an attempted murder charge, the monk was kicked out of the monastery and no more was said about it. Such conduct would have resulted in a criminal investigation in the UK.

via What Lies Beneath the Robes: Are Buddhist Monasteries Suitable Places for Children? ~ Adele Wilde-Blavatsky | elephant journal.

India’s transgenic cotton tragedy


Hopes of a genetically modified crop bonanza in India are fading fast. Maharastra state has banned the use of a particular type of transgenic cotton made by industrial giant Monsanto, saying it’s a threat to people’s lives and to other crops. images (9)

Ever since Monsanto introduced genetically modified (GM) cotton in India in 2002, the company has been hounded by a string of controversies. Over a decade later, there is still no consensus in the country on BT cotton, and more broadly on GM crops as a whole. Cotton is still the only GM crop in the country, and it’s so pervasive that nearly 90% of all cotton produced in India is genetically modified. For Monsanto though, the troubles are far from over. The company’s seeds have been banned in one Indian state, with anti-GM activists demanding a larger ban. Reports have linked BT cotton to the suicide of over 10,000 farmers in India’s cotton belt. But many states are demanding that the Indian government allow them to conduct field trials for not just BT cotton but other GM crops. In this report, we meet with various stakeholders on this issue to understand why BT cotton is such a divisive subject in India, and what role Monsanto plays in the matter.
via India’s transgenic cotton tragedy – FRANCE 24.

Of GM food crops, Bt cotton and an honest committee in India


The Lok Sabha (the 15th Lok Sabha) of the Parliament of India has released the report of the Committee on Agriculture (2011-2012) on ‘Cultivation Of Genetically Modified Food Crops – Prospects And Effects’.

Cover of the report. Click for the full report (pdf, 6.35 MB)

The report stands as a comprehensive indictment of the genetically modified food crops industry and its attempts to wrest control of India’s foodgrain and commercial crops production. The Committee sought views and suggestions on the subject from the various stakeholders and 467 memoranda, most of them signed by several stakeholders were received. In all, the Committee received documents running into 14,826 pages. The Committee also extensively interacted with various stakeholders including state governments, farmers organisations, NGOs, and also with farmers and their families during study visits during this period. Altogether, 50 individuals and organisations gave oral evidence before the Committee. Verbatim records of the proceedings of the oral evidence runs into 863 pages.

This small extract is from pages 24 to 29 of the 532-page Committee report:

GM crops are released in environment only after stringent evaluation of food/biosafety protocols/issues. To have a holistic and comprehensive view on the pros and cons of application of bio-technology on agricultural sector the Committee took on record IAASTD Report as it is an authentic research document prepared after painstaking effort of four years by 400 scientists from all over the world. India is a signatory to this Report which has been extensively quoted in a subsequent Chapter of the present Report of the Committee. Amongst various recommendations germane to all spheres of agriculture and allied activities and sectors, the following recommendations on bio-technology caught the attention of the Committee in all context of their present examination:

Conventional biotechnologies, such as breeding techniques, tissue culture, cultivation practices and fermentation are readily accepted and used. Between 1950 and 1980, prior to the development GMOs, modern varieties of wheat may have increased yields up to 33% even in the absence of fertilizer. Even modern biotechnologies used in containment have been widely adopted. For example, the industrial enzyme market reached US$1.5 billion in 2000. Biotechnologies in general have made profound contributions that continue to be relevant to both big and small farmers and are fundamental to capturing any advances derived from modern biotechnologies and related nanotechnologies. For example, plant breeding is fundamental to developing locally adapted plants whether or not they are GMOs. These biotechnologies continue to be widely practiced by farmers because they were developed at the local level of understanding and are supported by local research.

Much more controversial is the application of modern biotechnology outside containment, such as the use of GM crops. The controversy over modern biotechnology outside of containment includes technical, social, legal, cultural and economic arguments. The three most discussed issues on biotechnology in the IAASTD concerned:

o Lingering doubts about the adequacy of efficacy and safety testing, or regulatory frameworks for testing GMOs;
o Suitability of GMOs for addressing the needs of most farmers while not harming others, at least within some existing IPR and liability frameworks;
o Ability of modern biotechnology to make significant contributions to the resilience of small and subsistence agricultural systems.

The pool of evidence of the sustainability and productivity of GMOs in different settings is relatively anecdotal, and the findings from different contexts are variable, allowing proponents and critics to hold entrenched positions about their present and potential value. Some regions report increases in some crops and positive financial returns have been reported for GM cotton in studies including South Africa, Argentina, China, India and Mexico. In contrast, the US and Argentina may have slight yield declines in soybeans, and also for maize in the US. Studies on GMOs have also shown the potential for decreased insecticide use, while others show increasing herbicide use. It is unclear whether detected benefits will extend to most agroecosystems or be sustained in the long term as resistances develop to herbicides and insecticides.

Biotechnology in general, and modern biotechnology in particular, creates both costs and benefits, depending on how it is incorporated into societies and ecosystems and whether there is the will to fairly share benefits as well as costs. For example, the use of modern plant varieties has raised grain yields in most parts of the world, but sometimes at the expense of reducing biodiversity or access to traditional foods. Neither costs nor benefits are currently perceived to be equally shared, with the poor tending to receive more of the costs than the benefits.

The Committee note with great appreciation the fantastic achievements of India’s farmers and agriculture scientists leading to an almost five times growth in food grains production in the country during last six decades or so. From a paltry 50 million tonnes in 1950 the Country has produced a record 241 million tonnes in 2010-11. In spite of this spectacular achievement that has ensured the food security of the nation, things continue to be bleak on several fronts. Agriculture sector?s contribution to GDP has slid down from 50% in 1950 to a mere 13% now, though the sector continues to provide employment and subsistence to almost 70% of the workforce. The lot of the farmer has worsened with increasing indebtedness, high input costs, far less than remunerative prices for his produce, yield plateau, worsening soil health, continued neglect of the agriculture sector and the farmer by the Government, dependence on rain gods in 60% of cultivated area, even after six and a half decades of Country’s independence, to cite a few. All these factors and many more have aggravated the situation to such an extent that today a most severe agrarian crisis in the history is staring at us. The condition of the farming-Community in the absence of pro-farmer/pro-agriculture policies has become so pitiable that it now sounds unbelievable that the slogan Jai Jawan – Jai Kisan was coined in India.

There is, therefore, a pressing need for policies and strategies in agriculture and allied sectors which not only ensure food security of the nation, but are sustainable and have in built deliverable components for the growth and prosperity of the farming community. It is also imperative that while devising such policies and strategies the Government does not lose track of the fact that 70% of our farmers are small and marginal ones. As the second most populous Country in the world, with a growing economy ushering in its wake newer dietary habits and nutrition norms, a shrinking cultivable area, a predominantly rainfed agriculture, the task is indeed enormous.

In the considered opinion of the Committee biotechnology holds a lot of promise in fructification of the above-cited goals. Several of conventional bio-technologies viz. plant breeding techniques, tissue-culture, cultivation practices, fermentation, etc. have significantly contributed in making agriculture what it is today. The Committee note that for some years now transgenics or genetical engineering is being put forward as the appropriate technology for taking care of several ills besetting the agriculture sector and the farming community. It is also stated that this technology is environment friendly and, therefore, sustainable. Affordability is another parameter on which policy makers and farming communities world over are being convinced to go for this nascent technology.

The Committee further note that in India, transgenics in agriculture were introduced exactly a decade back with the commercial cultivation of Bt. Cotton which is a commercial crop. With the introduction of Bt. Cotton, farmers have taken to cotton cultivation in a big way. Accordingly, the area under cotton cultivation in the Country has gone up from 24000 ha in 2002 to 8.4 million ha at present. Apart from production, productivity has also increased with the cultivation of the transgenic cotton. The Committee also take note of the claim of the Government that input costs have also gone down due to cultivation of transgenic cotton as it requires less pesticides, etc.

Notwithstanding the claims of the Government, the policy makers and some other stakeholders about the various advantages of transgenics in agriculture sector, the Committee also take note of the various concerns voiced in the International Assessment of Agriculture, Science and Technology for Development Report commissioned by the United Nations about some of the shortcomings and negative aspects of use of transgenics/genetical engineering in the agriculture and allied sectors. The technical, social, legal, economic, cultural and performance related controversies surrounding transgenics in agriculture, as pointed out in IAASTD report, should not be completely overlooked, moreso, when India is a signatory to it.

The apprehensions expressed in the report about the sustainability and productivity of GMOs in different settings; the doubts about detected benefits of GMOs extending to most agro-eco systems or sustaining in long term; the conclusion that neither costs nor benefits are currently perceived to be equally shared, with the poor tending to receive more of the costs than benefits all point towards a need for a revisit to the decision of the Government to go for transgenics in agriculture sector. This is all the more necessary in the light of Prime Minister’s exhortion on 3 March, 2010 at the Indian Science Congress about full utilisation of modern biotechnology for ensuring food security but without compromising a bit on safety and regulatory aspects. The present examination of the Committee, as the succeeding chapters will bear out, is an objective assessment of the pros and cons of introduction of genetical modification/transgenics in our food crops which happened to be not only the mainstay of our agriculture sector but also the bedrock of our food security.

Monsanto, get out of India!


On 9th August 2011, which is 69 years since the Quit India movement was launched in India as part of the freedom struggle, marches will be held in major Indian cities to throw out GM crops, industrial agriculture, corporate land grabs, and the multinational companies who are profiting at the expense of millions of small farming families.

India’s kisan swaraj movement – farmers’ independent self-reliance – has said that the question of who controls our agriculture – our crores of farmers or a few big corporations – has deep ramifications for the whole society.

“We all have a big stake in whether unsafe genetically modified foods will be thrust on us, whether unsafe agri-chemicals would further damage our water, soil and health, whether 10 crore (100 million) farmer families will lose their livelihoods, whether our rural and urban areas will be sustainable and whether we would have safe, diverse and nutritious food to eat.”

The 9th of August 2011 is to be a day of action which aims to strengthen the broader struggle against corporate domination of agriculture by focusing on its most potent symbol. From Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and other towns and cities in India, a strong signal will be sent that citizens will not tolerate corporate domination of our food and farming systems.

This call is being put out by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), an all-India network of about 400 organisations of farmers, agricultural workers, consumers, social activists and academics, working to promote ecologically sustainable agriculture and secure livelihoods for farmers, and stop corporate domination of our agriculture and food system.

Monsanto’s Misdeeds and Growing Threat in India – A few indications about the dangers of Monsanto and the extent of its control [get the English pamphlet here /get the Hindi pamphlet here]:
1. Mahyco-Monsanto used its Bt cotton seed monopoly to set exorbitant prices. The Andhra Pradesh government had to use the MRTP Commission,  Essential Commodities Act and then a special Act to finally push its price from Rs.1800 per packet to Rs.750.
2. Monsanto actually sued Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat state governments that they have no right to control seed prices – with Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi as its lawyer! How can individual farmers protect themselves from its legal machine?

3. Monsanto entered into licensing agreements with most seed companies so that out of 225 lakh acres of GM cotton, 210 lakh acres is planted with its Bollgard. During 2002-2006, Monsanto earned Rs.1600 crores just in the form of royalties.
4. Monsanto is on the Board of US-India Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, under which bio-safety regime for GM crops was sought to be weakened; repeating its US strategy where its lawyers practically wrote the policies on GM seeds and patents.
5. Monsanto entered into hushed-up agreements with several states  (Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir) under which the states spend hundreds of crores of public funds every year to purchase Hybrid Maize seeds from Monsanto and distributing them free of cost to farmers, creating a ready market.
6. Monsanto is pushing the sales of its herbicide glyphosate which is known to cause reproductive problems. Approval for its herbicide-tolerant GM crops would skyrocket the use of this hazardous chemical in our fields.
7. Recently, gross violations were exposed in its GM maize field trials in Karnataka.

Street Artist Seth Globepainter


Global Street Artist Places Local People Next to His Murals

  1. French street artist Seth Globepainter travels around the world, creating large scale murals and placing local city dwellers next to them. Whether in India, China, Mexico, or other countries, this adds a human element to Globepainter’s artwork and gives us a peek inside the culture of these places. Especially impressive is how all of his pieces feel distinctly different, further showcasing the street artist’s impressive range and style.







Seth Globepainter’s website
via [Unurth], [Beautiful Decay], [Trendhunter]

Posted on January 19, 2013 at 1:00pm — 2 Comme

The “Green Nuclear” – Can Thorium Be The Clean, Cheap Energy Of The Future?


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Mankind currently uses three basic types of energy: fossil energy (coal, gas and oil), “sustainable” energy (wind-powered, solar, geothermal, hydraulic) and nuclear energy.

None of the above passes the test of being clean, abundant, cheap and secure all at the same time. Whatever solution that would comprise all of these elements would be considered our modern society’s philosopher’s stone!

As a matter of fact, in the 1960s, American physicist Alvin Martin Weinberg, managed to create a molten salt nuclear reactor capable of withholding temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius under ambient pressure — a discovery that ruled out the risks of explosions.

Alvin Martin Weinberg in 1967 – Photo: ornl.gov

These fourth-generation reactors use thorium as fuel. This component is as common on our planet as lead. Just like Swiss physicist Jean-Christophe de Mestral observed in his recent opus “L’Atome vert” (“The Green Atom”), if used inside a molten salt reactor, the thorium waste will disintegrate 1000 times faster than uranium. Its efficiency is remarkable: one kilogram of thorium can produce the same energy as 200 kilos of uranium.

If this technology has been an option since the 1960s, why haven’t we exploited it yet? At that time, uranium-based nuclear energy was the fuel-of-choice for military reasons.  Research on thorium-based reactors was no good for Cold War armies and therefore received no funding.

But today, thorium is back on the table. China and India have invested massively in it to develop their next-generation nuclear devices. NASA is also looking into it as a cheap option to create energy on the Moon or Mars. If researchers find encouraging results, they may turn the nuclear industry upside-down, for we could indeed end up with an energy that is clean, abundant, cheap and safe.

via The “Green Nuclear” – Can Thorium Be The Clean, Cheap Energy Of The Future? – All News Is Global |.

7 unknown facts about the place where Dalai Lama lived


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Potala Palace is a museum, located in Lhasa, which comes under Tibet Autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China.

It served as the residence of Dalai Lama, until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India.

We bring to you some very interesting facts about it.

Read on to find out.

-The highest palace in the world, Potala Palace stands on top of Red Hill, at over an amazing 3,500 meters above sea level.

-Potala Palace consists of White Palace and Red Palace. The Dalai lama lived in the White Palace. The Red Palace consists of temples.

-The Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 2000 and 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka were added to the list as extensions to the sites.

-The palace was recently named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” by the American television show Good Morning America and the newspaper USA Today.

-Potala Palace was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara.

-The site was used as a meditation retreat by King Songtsen Gampo, prior to his marriage.

-It was in 637 that King Songtsen Gampo built the first palace there, in order to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng, of Tang Dynasty of China.

Source:

via 7 unknown facts about the place where Dalai Lama lived – daily.bhaskar.com.

Why is Monsanto bad for humanity


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Monsanto is bad because their chemicals cause long-term damage to life on this planet – despite the short-term benefits such as higher yields. Would you eat a plant that cannot be killed by Round-Up – a weedkiller which kills or damages all natural plants? They have engineered plants that can be sprayed with huge doses of Round-Up and live (for us to eat) while the weeds around them die.

Monsanto is bad for humanity for several reasons:

1. They use genetically modified seeds with something called terminator technology. When a harvest happens, the seeds produced by the new crops are rendered useless. Although in 1999, Monsanto agreed to not commercialize terminator technology. This means farmers have to repeatedly purchase these seeds.

2. Most crops Monsanto grows are heavily fertilized. In essence your eating pesticides, fertilizer, antibiotics etc.

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3. They have uprooted countless agricultural traditions in places like India, Mongolia, Vietnam. For example in India sesame seed oil was once the way people made their money and cooked their food cheaper. Monsanto lobbied the Indian government to use soy bean oil (soy is their main product). This destroyed the economic stability of India’s subsistence farmers. It is awful for their economy, but also for their health. Immediate heavy intakes of soy can be extremely harmful for the body..I don’t know why, don’t ask. just Google it.

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4. Monsanto because of its recent growth by buying out its competitors is imposing a monopoly on the world grain trade…this largest agricultural market in the world. The grain trade feeds cows, pigs, chickens, us, everything we eat comes from grain food. Monsanto by having a monopoly kills smaller businesses, makes us unhealthy, uproots local agriculture etc.

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If you want to read more about where your food comes from, its economic effects, and the harmfulness of Monsanto read an AWESOME book called: Stolen Harvest .

via Why is Monsanto bad for humanity.

via Why is Monsanto bad for humanity.

The Caste System


Perhaps the most famous aspect of Hinduism is its most despicable – the caste system. The origin of this was a seemingly innocent idea that different kinds of people are suited to different things. Some to fighting, others to teaching, others to farming.

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However, a strong belief in reincarnation not withstanding, the holy books decreed that these callings were genetic so occupations should be handed down from father to son.

There used to be hundreds of complicated sub-castes but these days there are four worth mentioning. The Brahmins, who teach and have a monopoly on the rites of passage and temple ceremonies. The Kshatriyas, the warriors and landowners. The Vaishyas, the merchants and finally the Sudras who do the menial work. Beneath all of them are the Untouchables who do the real shit details.

It’s been argued that Hinduism should really be called Brahminism as it’s them that benefit out of this absurd hierarchy. Every time a child is born or you want to marry or ask a favour of the gods you have to cross a Brahmin’s palm with silver. Why? Because they’ve always been the only class allowed to study Sanskrit, the language of the gods. Mark Twain mentioned about funerals in India

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“To get to paradise from India is an expensive thing. Every detail connected with the matter costs something, and helps to fatten a priest”.

Life for the Sudras and the Untouchables is hell. Even their shadow is thought to be dirty and so in the villages they’re made to walk miles to collect their water so as not to dirty the village well. Should they try to rise above their station they may well have acid thrown in their face or end up in jail.

Life for women isn’t much better. With the exception of Kali and Durga, most of the female gods are pretty much doormats for their male counterparts. Women in India society have a pretty rough deal. In ancient times, wives were expected to be burned alive on their husband’s funeral pyre. Shamefully it still occurs every now and then that a woman is shamed into throwing herself on her husband’s burning body.

As famous as the caste system is the Holy Cow
. It’s a comic idea to nations of hamburger eaters and almost incomprehensible given how many go hungry in India. However, when you consider that 70% of India still lives in the country it becomes clearer. If you ate your cow then you would be unable to plough your fields before the rains came and then you’d starve to death for sure. This basic feature of rural life is almost certainly the root of the cow’s sacred status.

Hindus worship in front of little shrines in their own homes and in the temples. A temple is always dedicated to a particular god but any Hindu may worship there.

Hinduism has always had respected and revered saints and personages, Gandhi being a good example but there’s no clear-cut church as such. These days some politicians try to stir up the masses in a religious fervour against the Muslims but only for their own political gain. India could absorb just about everything but Islam proved indigestible. The two religions live side by side with incredibly violent outbursts and massacres from time to time.

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http://www.roadjunky.com/guide/679/world-hinduism-guide

Sacred and Profane Prostitution- The Catholic Church


Sacred and Profane Prostitution

In endeavoring to determine what is meant by the word “adultery” as used in this Commandment, much might be taken for granted as not coming within its scope, but no analysis would be complete if it did not take into consideration prostitution.

The transition from sacred to secular prostitution was so imperceptible that it is hardly possible to determine when the former ended and the latter began. The only marked difference was in the deviation of the revenue. It is notorious that the Church had a monopoly on prostitution for centuries and that it was one of the most fruitful sources of its wealth. Havelock Ellis states that “the origin of prostitution is to be found primarily in a religious custom….” [*36]

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St. Augustine said: “Suppress prostitution, and capricious lusts will overthrow society.” [*37] St. Jerome recognized prostitution and argued that, “as Mary Magdalene had been saved, so might any prostitute who repented….” In 1431, at the Council of Basle, a high Church dignitary presented a discourse on the subject of prostitution in which he implied that it was the only safeguard of good morals. [*38]

A brothel called the “Abbey” was instituted in the papal city of Avignon under the patronage of Queen Joanna of Naples. It was regulated by strict rules after the model of religious houses, and none but good Christians were admitted. Jews and Infidels were not permitted to enter; so sacred an institution was not to be “corrupted” or “contaminated.” To maintain its strictly religious air, it was closed on Good Friday and Easter. Its women were housed in cloister-like buildings, adjoining the churches, which are still commonly spoken of as “abbeys.” What a commentary on religion as a means of moral uplift, when the prostitute can ply her trade but not when it interferes with her religious duties!

Pope Julius II instituted a similar brothel in Rome, and the foundation prospered under the patronage of Leo X and Clement VII. Part of the proceeds were devoted to providing for the comfort of the Holy Sisters of the Order of St. Mary Magdalene. [*39] By the time of the Reformation it was estimated that there were more than 100,000 prostitutes in London, mainly supported by ecclesiastics. [*40]

When brothels were forbidden in the City of London, prostitution was carried on close to the palaces of the high bishops, who not only had jurisdiction over but profited substantially from them. So notorious were these enterprises that the women inmates were called “Winchester Geese.” In Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Humphrey, Duke of Gloster, reproached the Bishop of Winchester with “Thou that giv’st whores indulgences to sin.” [*41] In 1321, Edward II approved the sale of a lupinar to a cardinal who evidently considered it a profitable investment for sacerdotal funds. [*42] In Antwerp, even today, it is stated on excellent authority, the prostitutes of the regular brothels proceed in a body on certain feast days to the churches, carrying candles which they dedicate to the Holy Virgin, fervently praying to her for the success of their affairs. [*43]

In Eastern Islam, where there are more males than females, the young girls who remain unmarried and offer themselves to men are looked upon as public benefactors. [*44]

Sacred prostitution was incumbent upon all women and existed throughout Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. Religious prostitutes were called “servants of God,” and even as late as the second century sacred prostitution was still an honorable practice for women of good birth who felt the “call” to live the “divine life under the influence of divine inspiration.” [*45]

In India and elsewhere, women who failed to bear children by their husbands visited the temples to perform fertility “rites.” They remained overnight at the temples, where they were visited by priests who impersonated the terrible god. They returned home the following day, firmly convinced that a miracle had occurred — that the god had condescended to cohabit with them and that they would have a child. [*46]

The Eskimo women think themselves happy if one of their “holy” men cohabits with them.

In Phoenician temples, women prostituted themselves for hire in the belief that they thereby won the favor of the divinity. Among the Amorites it was a law that “she who was about to marry should sit in fornication seven days by the gate.” In Lydia all girls were obliged to act as prostitutes before marriage.

Cutting off the hair of girls who become nuns probably had its origin in the custom which prevailed in Byblos, where the surrender of a woman’s virginity to a “stranger” could be atoned for by shaving off her hair. When girls become Catholic nuns, they are mystically married to the Divine Bridegroom. [*47]

At the memorial shrine of Al-Uzza at Mecca, it is the practice for women to offer themselves to the holy pilgrims. Children born of such unions are looked on as divinely blessed. [*48]

Among the Yezidis, a semi-Christian sect in Armenia, the priests who travel in itinerant groups select a “wife,” if only for a day or two, at each place they stop at. The women who are chosen consider themselves lucky, because they are then regarded as having become holy.

In Egypt, the “holy” men go about naked. Women who desire to have children kneel before them. Not infrequently a priest will seize a woman and cohabit with her in the public street. No resentment is felt; indeed, the victim considers it a great blessing and her companions congratulate her on having been selected by the “representative of God.” In recent times, in Damascus, the activities of one of these “saints” were so outrageous that the pasha had to put him in prison. [*49]

Religious prostitution of the Babylonian type was supposed to have been nothing but ordinary immorality practiced under the cloak of religion. It has been represented as an act by which the worshiper sacrificed her most precious possession to the deity. [*50]

Among the Ewe-speaking people of the Slave Coast, the business of the priestess of the god to whom she is dedicated is that of prostitution. The best-looking girls between the ages of ten and twelve are put in an institution where they remain for three years, learning the chants and dances peculiar to the worship of the gods and submitting themselves to the priests and the inmates of the male seminaries. [*51] Children born of such unions belong to the gods. In India, dancing girls are attached to a great many temples. They feel honored when the priests in charge select them for sexual enjoyment. Among the Veddas, if an adult female cannot get anyone to marry her, she may be dedicated to a free life in the name of Yellamma, who is their patron deity. [*52] Among many Semitic tribes, girls were “consecrated” to a goddess of prostitution such as Ishtar. [*53]

If adultery is a sin, children should be prevented from being born of an adulterous union, and women who have been guilty of promiscuity should not be permitted to attain superior positions in life. Neither condition, however, prevails. On the contrary, the courtesans of Greece were noted for their intelligence and were by far the most important women of their time. They exercised more influence on the thought of their day than have women in any other age of the world. They were sought after not only for their physical charms and beauty, but also for their advice in worldly matters. Their salons sparkled with brilliant conversation, and social and political problems were first discussed with them.

Aspasia, who was as famous for her brilliance as for her beauty, was the passionate love of Pericles. She is said to have instructed him in eloquence and to have composed some of his famous orations. She was continually consulted on affairs of state, and Socrates, like other philosophers, attended her assemblies.

Socrates himself admitted his indebtedness to a courtesan named Diotimas. The gentle manners and disinterested affection of a courtesan named Bacchis were recalled and deeply mourned when her death was announced. [*54] She was the mistress of the orator Hyperides, and her fidelity has become a legend of a woman’s devotion to the man she loves.

Lais, whose matchless figure and lovely face had no equal except it be her remarkable wit and encyclopedic information, was extremely influential. She refused a fabulous sum from the orator Demosthenes for a sexual embrace, but willingly gave her charms to the ragged cynic Diogenes and the still more poverty-stricken philosopher Aristippus. [*55]

The courtesan Pythionice was sent by Alexander the Great to be the companion of his treasurer, Harpalus. She graced the palace and ruled Babylon with unusual ability. At her death, she was buried in a tomb that cost more than a king’s ransom.

Leontium, whose lover was the great philosopher Epicurus, was herself a woman of rare ability, and the author of several books. A Milesian prostitute named Thargelia accompanied Xerxes on his invasion of Greece. Thargelia married the king of Thessaly.

The Empress Theodore was a notorious prostitute, yet is credited with liberalizing the law of Justinian. Radadopis, who led the life of a prostitute in Egypt, became one of the leading citizens of her time, acquired wealth, and is even reputed to have had sufficient money and intelligence to build a pyramid. [*56]

WikiLeaks revelations on Bhopal gas tragedy: NGOs demand fresh probe


3747_bhopal

Bhopal: The social organisations fighting for justice to the surviving victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy have demanded a fresh probe into the tragedy and the delay in their settlement of claims based on a recent Wikileaks revelations here on Wednesday.

The whistleblower website has release controversial cables related to Indian government‘s communications with US and other countries some of which were related to Bhopal gas tragedy in December 1984.

Quoting from the whistleblower website’s releases, Satinath Sarangi, one of the activists said “it is clear that the Federal government was hand in glove with the Union Carbide Company and the Dow Chemicals under the pressure from the United States of America (USA) government”.

The unholy alliance, he said was there even before the world’s worst industrial disaster and thus, its victims were denied compensation and other basic facilities for a restarting their lives, he told media persons.

Citing from recently released documents from Wikileaks’ “Kissinger Cables,” leaders of the organisations said former Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia welcomed Dow investments in India and contradicted the Government of India’s stated position on Dow’s liabilities in India.

A cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi Steven J White on July 27, 2007 says “During the CEO forum event in October 2006, GOI officials including Commerce Minister Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated that they welcomed further Dow investment in India and did not believe that Dow was responsible for the disaster site clean-up.”

US Ambassador David Mulford is reported to be urging the Government of India to “drop its claims against Dow” in a cable sent on September 18, 2007. In reply Ahluwalia assures the Ambassador that the Government of India does not hold Dow responsible for the cleanup but is unable to withdraw its claims against Dow because of “active and vocal” NGOs.

According to the cable Ahluwalia then advised the Ambassador to discuss the issue of Dow Chemical’s Bhopal liabilities with Finance Minister Chidambaram.

These cables among many clearly indicated that the Federal government consistently betrayed the interests of the Indians and gas victim of Bhopal in particular and served the interests of Union Carbide Corporation, said another activist Rachna Dhingra.

According to her, as early as in the 1970s, the Federal government compromised on principles related to foreign exchange to help Union Carbide retain majority control over Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).

This was substantiated from a cable sent by Deputy Chief of Mission David T Schneider from the US Embassy in New Delhi on February 4, 1975 shows that the Federal government allowed Union Carbide, USA to bypass the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) and obtain loans from American Exim Bank instead of an Indian financing agency.

via WikiLeaks revelations on Bhopal gas tragedy: NGOs demand fresh probe – daily.bhaskar.com.

via WikiLeaks revelations on Bhopal gas tragedy: NGOs demand fresh probe – daily.bhaskar.com.

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