[HPI note: As requested by readers who contacted us, HPI today brings you extensive coverage of the succession at Madurai Aadheenam.]
RAMANAGARA, INDIA, April 27, 2012 (One India): Disgraced religious leader Nityananda, who is facing criminal cases, was declared 293rd pontiff of "Madurai Aadheenam", an ancient Hindu religious organisation. He was declared the 293rd pontiff by Arunagirinatha Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal, the 292nd pontiff of the Aadheenam.
"We hereby coronate him with the title His Holiness the 293rd Guru Maha Sannidhanam Srila Sri Paramahamsa Nityananda Sri Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal", he told reporters.
He also declared Nityananda as his lawful successor to deal with all movable and immovable properties of the Adheenam, which includes over 1250 acres of land, several temples and properties in India and abroad.
The Madurai Aadheenam has existed since time immemorial. However, it was revived around 1500 years ago by Tirujnana Sambandar, one of the four visionary saints of South Indian Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy. The Aadheenam's history dates to the Tamil Sangam period. The presiding deities of Madurai are Shiva and Devi in their incarnations as Chokkanathar and Meenakshi, enshrined in the famous Madurai Meenakshi-Sundareshwara temple.
Nityananda vowed to fulfill all responsibilities of the Aadheenam, revive the Shaiva tradition and also make the Aadheenam an international religious organisation.
Nityananda had landed in controversy after a video footage showing him in intimate contact with an actress was telecast by local TV channels in March 2010. He was arrested on April 21, 2010 from Solan in Himachal Pradesh, under other charges. He was granted bail on June 11, 2010 by Karnataka High Court, and fled to America.
MADURAI, INDIA, April 30, 2012 (Times of India): Pontiff of the millennium-old Madurai Adheenam, Arunagirinatha Desikar has defended the nomination of Nityananda as the 293rd pontiff of the ancient mutt in Madurai, stating that it was a well thought out decision for the welfare and growth of the mutt.
"The charges against Nityananda are false and those levelling allegations against him are ignorant," said the pontiff at a press conference here on Sunday even as an angry group of activists from Hindu outfits staged a protest outside the mutt against Nityananda. Desikar also brushed aside protests against the nomination of Nityananda as the successor stating that neither the government nor Hindu outfits could interfere in the appointment of a successor.
"I was looking out for a successor for the Adheenam for the past eight years. In this backdrop I visited the Nityananda Dhyanapeedam in Bidadi near Bangalore. The moment I saw Nityananda, a divine voice told me that Nityananda was the right person. I spoke to Nityananda in this regard. He hesitated due to the allegations levelled against him. But I convinced him as the Adheenam needs an individual with spiritual and administrative skills as well as a fighting spirit," Desikar told reporters.
MADURAI, INDIA, April 30, 2012 (Indian Express): Tension prevailed at Madurai Adheenam (Mutt) here, one of the oldest Saivite mutts in the country, as Hindu outfits staged a protest against the appointment of self-styled godman Nityananda as its 293rd pontiff.
Hindu Makkal Katchi said the police allowed only six persons in to see the mutt heads.Though they wanted to meet the senior pontiff alone, they were denied permission and told to talk to them in the presence of 200 disciples, HMK state president Arjun Sampath said.
Sampath said the mutt had set a wrong precedent by announcing the new head without consulting disciples and heads of other mutts. Nityananda should have been appointed after being cleared of the charges against him, he said. Hindu Munnani said the present pointiff was appointed after being trained in religious rituals for four years.
VHP leader P Somasundaram said it was for the senior pontiff to establish if he had taken the correct decision. Nityananda,who formally took over on Sunday, later alleged that those using "defamatory terms" against him were out to "destroy" him. On the agitations by Hindu outfits, he said they had not understood him properly. The senior pontiff defended his decision, saying it was his prerogative to choose his successor. Nityanandha is the first person outside Saiva Velalar community to be appointed Mutt chief.
HPI and The New York Times
USA, April 30, 2012 (HPI note): Earlier this month, The New York Times challenged the readers with a question: can you make a compelling case for the ethics of eating meat?
A panel of judges at the newspaper chose the best 6 options, and readers were then invited to vote on the most persuasive one.
It is striking (though perhaps not surprising) that the answer considered most convincing is from a man who does not eat meat at all, and has tasted no animal in more than forty years. But he says he is "about to," because in-vitro meat is just around the corner.
The bottomline from HPI's team? The very best defense for eating meat, it seems, is the hope that, one day, it will not imply in the killing of animals--a feeble and unconvincing argument by any measure.
See the answers here
WASHINGTON DC, April 22, 2012: On April 20, 2012, Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) again made history, co-hosting with The White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Agencies and the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships an historic conference, Community Building in the 21st Century with Strengthened Dharmic Faith-Based Institutions for the Dharmic (defined as ,Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh) Religious Leaders. HASC partnered with many organizations, including the Council of Hindu Temples, Federation of Jain Associations of North America, Soka Gakkai International-USA Buddhist Association and others to create a coalition that can reach deliver collaborative solutions and services to benefit the communities around us while promoting better understanding of our beliefs, cultures and values.
In his opening remarks, Paul Monteiro, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement observed that the Dharmic-American community is interested in all the same issues that everyone is interested in - healthcare, security, education, etc.
"In America, our collective faith infrastructures (temples, ashrams, and meditation and yoga studios) are in early stages of development. The Dharmic Americans, mostly post 1964 immigrants, are just becoming part of the mosaic of the pluralistic landscape of America. ...As we see it, in America, the seva movement is a tool for social justice, a way to deal with community issues. The eastern Dharmic traditions share many commonalities and have infrastructure gaps. We are trying to understand how can we engage with each other collectively, what are our issues? How can more of us engage with the administration?" said Anju Bhargava of HASC, lead organizer of the event.
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-- Ram Swarup (1920-1998), Indian writer and scholar
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