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Global Hindu Footprint - Spread Beyond India
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A Thai customer walks past Buddha statues at a shop in Bangkok July 9, 2006. Asanha Bucha Day, the anniversary of Buddha's first sermon, will be celebrated in Thailand on Monday. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND)

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A Buddhist monk from the Jade Buddha Temple reads a book on commercial law in the Shanghai Jiaotong University September 12, 2005. Shanghai's Jade Buddha Temple commissioned Jiaotong University to design a degree focusing on monastery management, to help its monks mix business with prayer. (China Newsphoto/Reuters)

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Ramayana Festival : Cambodian dancers perform a Hindu religious drama, Ramayana, during the International Ramayana Festival as a part of Bali Art Festival in Denpasar, on Bali island. (AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka)


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Bangladeshi Hindus carry a man who is posing as a dead body while protesting for equal rights for the minority during a 'coffin march' in Dhaka July 7, 2006. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman (BANGLADESH)

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Hindu pilgrims at the Amarnath cave.

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Sri Darbar Sahib : The Sri Darbar Sahib is pictured in Tran Taran, about 28 kms from Amritsar, the eve of the 400th Martyrdom Anniversary of the fifth Sikh Guru Arjun Dev. (AFP/Narinder Nanu)

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Controversy over for-harmony Hindu worship in Catholic shrine in Portugal</span>

To promote inter-faith harmony and understanding of other faiths in the community, the leaders of the 'Catholic Shrine to Mother Mary at Fatima' in Portugal, were inviting the people of other faith to visit the shrine and pray acording to their customs. In this series, a couple of years back, they had invited the Hindus of Lisbon too. Upon the invitation from Fatima Shrine Rector Guerra, and the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, D. Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva, Hindus from Lisbon went and prayed to Mother Mary as another manifestation of Universal God as per the Hindu customs.

However, this resulted in wide-spread outrage in the Catholic comunity.

reported news:

1) http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics...ma_Vennari.html
2) http://www.hinduismtoday.com/hpi/2004/6/15.shtml#6

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Catholic Family News has obtained a video copy of the SIC television broadcast of the Hindu ritual performed at Fatima. As reported last month, the sacrilege took place on May 5 with the blessing of Fatima Shrine Rector Guerra, and the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, D. Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva.

SIC, a national television station in Portugal, reported on the Hindu ritual at Fatima the same day it took place. The announcer called it an "uncommon ecumenical experience.”

The broadcast shows morning prayer at the Radha Krishna temple in Lisbon. “Light and water, energy and nature, mark the rhythm of the Arati, the morning prayer,” the announcer says. “Hinduism is the oldest of the great religions. It is characterized by multiple deities, worshiped through a triple dimension of life and sacredness: the creator god, the preserver god, and the god who has the power to destroy.”

Thus the <span style='color:red'>Hindus spent the morning worshiping their false gods, which are nothing more than demons. Saint Francis Xavier, the apostle to India, said of Hinduism: “All the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils.”</span>[1]

A young Hindu woman appears on screen with statues of gods in the background. She explains, “This is god Shiva and his wife Parvati. In the center we can see god Rama, to our right his wife Sita and to our left, his brother and companion Lakshmama. Now we can see Krishna Bhagwan and his consort Radha. The deities are always accompanied by their respective consorts or wives. As a rule, when we address the deities or want to ask for their graces, we address the feminine deity, who is very important to us.”

About 60 Hindus, said the broadcast, “leave Lisbon with the chandam, the sign on their foreheads which shows the wish for good fortune in a noble task. And this is the day dedicated to the greatest of all female deities. She is called the Most Holy Mother, the goddess Devi, the deity of Nature who many Portuguese Hindus also find in Fatima.”

Another young Hindu lady explains, “As a Hindu, who believes the whole world, or rather all human beings, are members of a global family, it would be natural for me to see any manifestation of God, including Our Lady of Fatima, as a manifestation of the same God.”

Here, this young lady speaks as a true Hindu, since <span style='color:red'>Hinduism regards the various false gods they worship as manifestations of “God”</span>. Thus, they are not honoring Our Lady as the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but worshiping Her as a manifestation of their pagan god.

The newscast then shows the Hindus bringing flowers to the statue of Our Lady inside the Capelinha, the little chapel built over the spot where Our Lady of Fatima appeared. The Hindu priest stands at the Catholic altar and recites a Hindu prayer. Meanwhile, the SIC announcer says, “This is a unique moment in the history of the Sanctuary and of devotion itself. The Hindu priest, the Shastri, recites at the altar the Shanti Pa, the prayer for peace.” (Pa = Path)
<img src='http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/FatimaPix/HindFtm09.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Pope Pius XI, in a liturgical prayer consecrating the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, <span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>prayed for the conversion of all who are not members of the Mystical Body</span>. He invoked Our Lord, “be Thou King of all those who are involved with the darkness of idolatry”. [2] <span style='color:red'>This idolatry is now practiced at the Fatima Shrine, desecrating the sacred site, making it necessary for the chapel to be re-consecrated.</span>

In another clip, the Hindu priest explains that he finds a “divine energy” at Fatima. “It is an energy that permeates the whole place,” he says. “ It has the power to be present here, around us. Whenever I come here, I feel this vibration ...”

SIC then explains that the display of this group of Hindus at Fatima “is not well-accepted by all Catholics”. The camera then shifts to Fatima Shrine Rector Guerra who defends Hindu worship at the Catholic Shrine.

“It is obvious” says Rector Guerra, “that these civilizations and religions are quite different. But I think that there is a common background to all religions. There is a common background that, how can I put it, is born from the common humanity we all possess. And it is very important that we recognize this common background, because, due to the clashes of the differences, we sometimes forget our equality. These meetings give us that occasion.”

The Hindus are then welcomed by the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima in a room containing a large model of the modernistic Fatima Shrine now under construction. “This time,” says the broadcast, “the Hindu pilgrims are received as if they were an embassy; an unheard of gesture which can be understood as an invitation for other visits.” This means that the pagan desecration of the Fatima Shrine is likely to happen again and again.
<img src='http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/FatimaPix/HindFtm14.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

The Bishop of Leiria- Fatima then says, “We don’t want to be fundamentalist, we don’t want that, but we want to be honest, sincere and want to communicate by osmosis the fruitfulness of our rituals, so that we may produce fruits. I am pleased to meet them.”

At this point, the Hindu priest places on the shoulders of the Bishop of Leiria- Fatima and Shrine Rector Guerra a shawl covered with vserse of the Bhagwad Gita, one of Hinduism’s sacred books.
<img src='http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/FatimaPix/HindFtm17.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

The report ends with a close-up of a guest book that includes the signatures of Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and a Hindu high priest. It goes on to say that Hindus intend to keep Fatima “on the road map of places where they claim they can find vibrations of holiness...”

Catholic Family News has reported on the interfaith orientation at Fatima since it was launched at the interreligious Congress held at Fatima in October 2003.[4] We warned repeatedly that this type of desecration was inevitable if Catholics did not resist the new ecumenical program.

Predictably, the enablers of the “New Fatima” such as Father Robert J. Fox ridiculed our efforts and tried to dissuade Catholics from taking us seriously. Father Fox, on an April 25 EWTN broadcast, claimed that the reports about the interfaith activity at Fatima were nothing but "fabrications,” that he knows Shrine Rector Guerra personally, and that Rector Guerra would never allow such interfaith activities to take place. Less than two weeks after this EWTN broadcast, the Fatima Shrine was desecrated by pagan worship, with the blessing of Rector Guerra and the Bishop of Leiria- Fatima.>

Pope Leo XIII, along with his predecessors taught “we are bound absolutely to worship God in the way which He has shown to be His will".[3] <span style='color:red'>Hinduism worships false gods who are demons. </span>It is sacrilegious for Rector Guerra and the Bishop of Fatima to permit these rituals in a Catholic sanctuary.

Pope Pius XI called it <span style='color:red'>“ignominious” to place the true religion of Jesus Christ “on the same level with false religions”.</span>[5] Pope Leo XIII likewise taught “it is contrary to reason that error and truth should have equal rights.”[6]  Thus the “equality” that Msgr. Guerra speaks of, and his <span style='color:red'>notion of various religions coming from a “common background,” defies Catholic truth</span>.

Rector Guerra and the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima are also guilty of grave scandal. Their actions tell <span style='color:red'>these poor Hindus, who are in bondage to a heathen religion, that they are pleasing to God as they are. This is contrary to the manifest will of Christ, Who said, “No one comes to the Father but through Me.” “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, He who does not believe will be condemned.”</span> Hindus reject Jesus Christ. They have no interest in baptism or in the truths revealed by God. Rector Guerra and the Bishop of Lierra of Fatima counsel and encourage this apostasy. By their bad example, they scandalize not only the Hindus, but others who observe their actions.

“Scandal” says Saint Thomas Aquinas, “is a word or act which gives occasion to the spiritual ruin of one’s neighbor.” Saint Leo calls the authors of scandal murderers who kill not the body but the soul. Saint Bernard says that, in speaking of sinners in general, the Scriptures hold out hope of amendment and pardon, but the Scriptures speak of those who give scandal, as persons separated from God, of whose salvation there is very little hope.[7]

Perhaps this is why we see a spiritual blindness in these men. They persist in their apostasy despite the outrage from concerned Catholics. Nonetheless, we must pray for them.

And what of the Hindus themselves? <span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>The Shastri comes to Fatima because he feels there a “divine energy,” “vibrations of holiness”. Members of all religions worship the same god and are part of the “global family”.

This is the language of paganism, not of our received Catholic tradition.</span> "Holy vibrations” is what Hindus call Shakti, and they go to various places to seek it. They will rush to be in the presence of the Dalai Lama or Pope John Paul II or Ghandi because this gives them Darshan, the good fortune that comes from being in the sight of a holy man. Each and every one of their terms is rooted in heathen superstition, not in the truths revealed by Christ.

In short, the Hindus did not go to the Fatima Shrine to be Catholicized. Rather, they Hinduized the Fatima Shrine, folding their pagan myths and superstitions into one of Catholicism’s most sacred sites.

This is not honoring the Mother of God, but a blasphemy against Her, since there is nothing honorable in placing Our Lady on the same level as one more goddess in their pantheon of demonic deities. “What concord hath Christ with Belial?”, says Saint Paul, “or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:15)

At the end of the visit, the Hindus presented Msgr. Guerra and the Bishop of Fatima with a shawl covered with verses of the Bhagwad Gita. This book contains a story which illustrates a central tenet of Hinduism.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Arjuna, a warrior, is on the eve of a great battle. He dreads the next day, because he knows he will have to kill his friends, relatives, teachers. Arjuna's charioteer, who turns out to be the god Krishna in disguise, tells Arjuna not to fear the coming battle because none of it is real. No one is going to die. All of it, and all of life, is illusion.

Arjuna then thrusts himself into the bloody conflict believing it to be his Dharma, his given path, to hack his friends and relatives to pieces. It is all illusion anyway. No one really dies. This is Hinduism in a nutshell. You are god, everything else is illusion.</span>[8]

Catholics who behold the Fatima Shrine Rector and the Bishop of Fatima draped in shawls laden with verses from a pagan mythology, certainly would wish that the Hindu desecration of Fatima was an illusion, that none of it was real.

But no, it really happened. And <span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Catholics must register their outrage to Rome and to Fatima, as they offer prayers of reparation for Catholic leaders who hand over the chapel of Our Lady of Fatima to a religion whose god is the devil.</span>

Reprinted from the July, 2004 edition of Catholic Family News,
MPO Box 743, Niagara Falls, NY 14302 (905-871-6292)

1. Saint Francis Xavier, James Brodrick, S.J., (New York: Wicklow Press, 1952), p.135.
2. Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Pius XI, published along with the Encyclical Quas Primas, “On the Kingship of Christ”, 1925.
3. Imortale Dei, 1885.
4. See J. Vennari: “Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There", (CFN, December, 2003), "More News on the Fatima Interfaith Program",  (CFN, Jan., 2004), "Shrine Rector Confirms New Interfaith Orientation at Fatima", (CFN, Feb., 2004), Hindu Ritual Performed at Fatima Shrine, (CFN, May, 2004).
5. Quas Primas, 1925.
6. Libertas, 1888.
7. Quotes taken from Sermons of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, “On Scandal,” (Rockford: Tan Books, reprinted 1982), pp. 168-181.
8. For more, see “The Dharma of Deception”, Edwin Faust, Catholic Family News, November, 1998.
Hindu scholar is a man on a mission
Friday, 18 August 2006
By Jasminee Sahoye

<img src='http://www.thecaribbeancamera.com/images/stories/balliramchadee.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Not often one hears about Caribbean person who obtained a Masters Degree in Hinduism. However, there are many Hindus who take on the role as pundits but never took the time to research Hinduism. Some pundits have basically learnt the art from attending mandirs and following the teachings of the elders, foreparents or 'guru'. But Balliram Chadee, originally from South Trinidad, who frankly said he is not a pundit, wanted to find out more about his religion and went in search of an institution to learn about Hinduism. After two years of researching, he stumbled upon the Hindu University of America, based in Orlando, Florida. And so he enrolled and pursued distance education studies.

"They have a branch in Bangalore, India, that's how I ended up registering for the program, so everything other than my astrology courses were done in Bangalore, everything else was done in Florida." It took him under two years to complete his studies of 10 courses ranging from the fundamentals of Hinduism to Sanskrit to astrology. "They would send me the course materials and I would do my lessons submit it to them, it would be marked and resubmitted to me for clarification…I would resubmit….Every course had a mid term and final exam and each course was graded."

Chadee, who describes himself as a self-taught Hindu, a Fundamentalist, Spiritualist and a Humanitarian, said he has already started writing his thesis for the doctoral degree titled "Hanumanji and Hinduism: Man, Monkey or Master." He hopes to complete it in time for his 45th birthday next April. He said he has spend quite a sum on books already, noting that he has some of the best Hindu experts available to him. He told The Camera that he has a special interest in the Hindu deity of Hanuman since he has witnessed the intervention of Hanuman in his life on several occasions but it became more evident around 1992-1993. In 1997 he started fasting every Tuesday and the next year he decided to attend functions in honour of Hanuman.

"As Hindus, especially Guyana, Trinidad, Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Holland outside of India in the Indian Hindu Diaspora, one of the greatest deities is Hanuman. Every single Hindu home, if is one puja they ever done in their live is Hanuman puja…no matter which deity …they belong to …one of the deities of Hinduism which carries the most recognition or adoration…is Hanuman." After six years of not committing himself to Hanuman's divine call, he committed his life in April 2002 for his 40th birthday. The desire to understand the power and capabilities of Hanuman led Chadee to single-handedly establish the only "Hanuman Mission", a registered charitable organization in the province of Ontario in December 2002.

He does not only perform puja on a daily basis to Hanuman but to other deities at his home and he made it quite clear that he does not perform rituals/pujas at as a job, noting that he is just a messenger of Hanuman. Chadee is involved with many organizations providing social, community and spiritual services. He has been awarded the Certificate of Multifaith Competency by Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care. He has been trained in Grief Counselling and Spiritual Counselling and is registered as the designated Hindu visitor with Toronto General, Princess Margaret and Western Hospitals, a Hindu Visitor with Scarborough General, Ajax/Pickering, Oshawa and Bowmanville General Hospitals and a Hindu Pastoral Visitor with SunnyBrook Hospital. He is also a registered Hindu Marriage Officer. Chadee has embarked on a project to have a Ramayan (Hindu Sacred Text) in every chapel facility in hospitals in Ontario by end of 2009 and already 10 hospital chapels in the Durham region and GTA have received Ramayan.
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Hanuman-Katha in Thailand</span>

<img src='http://www.tatnews.org/events/images/2006/july/khon/02.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

July 20 – December 30, 2006
At Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday
1600 Petchaburi Road, Makkasan, Rajatevee
Bangkok 10400 Thailand

Hanuman — the monkey god, is one of the legendary characters depicted in Ramakien, the famous Thai masked dance performance based on Ramayana, the great Indian epic.
Renowned for his courage, power, loyalty and selfless service, Hanuman is a noble hero and a great devotee of Phra Ram (Rama). These qualities are vividly portrayed in Hanuman the Mighty, the new Thai masked dance production currently playing at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre. The classic tale is retold in eight acts.

VTR: Introduction to the Khon performance on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s Accession to the Throne
(7 mins.)
Act 1 Birth of Hanuman, the Mighty
Act 2 The Cursed and Weak Monkey
Act 3 Chief Warrior to Navigate
Act 4 Rescue Sida — Eliminate Sahaskuman
Act 5 Causeway building — Catching the Mermaid Queen
Act 6 Deception to get the Heart of Tosakanth
Act 7 Hanuman Defeats Tosakanth
Act 8 Chief Warrior to Rule a City

Birth of Hanuman the Mighty
Sawaha is cursed and is destined to spend her days standing on one foot, with one hand clinging to a branch, until such time that she bears a son who is a monkey.
<img src='http://www.tatnews.org/events/images/2006/july/khon/001.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Phra Isuan (the Thai name for Shiva — the Hindu god of destruction and rebirth) takes pity on her and attempts to undo the curse. Phra Isuan wishes that Sawaha give birth to a son who can help Phra Ram (Rama). He orders Phra Pai, the wind god, to shoot his divine power and weapons into Sawaha’s mouth.

On Tuesday in the third month of the Year of Tiger, Sawaha gives birth to Hanuman – a white monkey with four faces and eight arms. With hair like dazzling diamonds and fangs of crystal, Hanuman magically yields stars, the moon and the sun from his mouth when he yawns.
<img src='http://www.tatnews.org/events/images/2006/july/khon/002.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Sawaha tells her son that one day he will come across one who values the ‘gems’ with which Hanuman has been bestowed. Sawaha orders her son to join the army of Phra Ram — an incarnation of Phra Narai (Vishnu).

The Cursed and Weak Monkey
While flying in the sky, Hanuman spots a garden owned by Phra Uma (Phra Isuan’s consort). There, he treats himself to a feast of fruits. Having had his fill, he recklessly plays with the rest of the fruits.

His misbehavior enrages Phra Uma, who curses him, reducing his power by half. She says the curse will be lifted only after he meets Phra Ram and he touches Hanuman’s back thrice.

Chief Warrior to Navigate
Once the chief warrior Hanuman volunteers to survey routes to Longka City, Phra Ram asks Hanuman to take a ring and breast cloth to Sida (Sita), Phra Ram’s consort.

When Hanuman meets Sida, he finds that she is about to hang herself, so he rescues her.

Rescue Sida — Eliminate SahaskumanHe asks her to sit on his palm so that he can carry her back to Phra Ram. However, Sida refuses for fear that such an act would be deemed conduct unbecoming.

Sida asks Hanuman to tell Phra Ram to rescue her. Hanuman gives her his promise.

Before leaving Longka City, he kills Sahaskuman, Tosakanth’s 1,000 offsprings.

Causeway building — Catching the Mermaid Queen

Deception: Plotting to get Tosakanth’s Heart
Hanuman volunteers to bring a box containing Tosakanth’s heart, which is kept by Kobut Richi, to Phra Ram, and asks the Richi to take him to Tosakanth, the demon king (Ravana in Ramayana).

By Hanuman’s spell, the Richi gives Hanuman the demon’s heart. Hanuman pretends to submit himself to Thosakanth, so the demon king adopts him as his son.

Hanuman Defeats Tosakanth
During the battle, Phra Ram shoots Prommas arrow to kill Tosakanth, and Hanuman destroys Tosakanth’s heart and ends his life.

Chief Warrior to Rule a City
Phra Ram wins the battle and appoints Hanuman “Phaya Anuchit Chakkrit Pipatpongsa” then sends him off to rule Nop Buri city.

<span style='color:red'>THE ORIGINS OF KHON AND RAMAKIEN </span>Khon, the Thai masked dance, is a classical art which combines three ‘schools’ of traditional performing arts — Chak Nak Duek Damban, Krabi Krabong (a form of martial arts) and Nang Yai shadow play. Khon is partly derived from Lakhon Nai (stage drama performed in the royal courts).

In the past, all Khon performers wore masks and thus needed narrators to project voices for their characters. Today, the narrators still retain their roles in Khon despite an adaptation that human and angel characters no longer wear masks. Only monkey or demon characters still wear masks on stage.

The most popular script is the Ramakien, which is based on India ’s Ramayana epic. Written by Valmiki, the epic narrates an episode of Phra Narai (Narayana or Vishnu) who is reborn to a human so as to save both humans and angels from the terror of Tosakanth (Ravana) — the demon king — in Longka (Lanka) City.

The most complete version of Ramakien was written by H.M. King Rama I (1782 - 1809). But the Ramakien which is most widely used in actual productions on account of its melodies verses was composed by King Rama II (1809 – 1824).

Khon was regarded as a royal court performance, continuing from the Ayutthaya Period into the Rattanakosin Period. During the reign of H.M. King Rama VI, Khon reached its golden age. His Majesty supported both Khon trainees and artists, and also had Khon performances staged throughout his reign.

In 1935, however, the royal Khon troupe was transferred to the Fine Arts Department and since then all official Khon artists have been part of this department.
(For Indians - Pali = Vali, Totsakan = Dashkandh/Ravana, Ramakien = Ramayana, Sida = Sita, Phra = Shri, Isuan = Shivan, Narai = Narayan,

<span style='color:red'>Thai Dance Khon - ARTS OF ILLUSION </span>
Philip Cornwel-Smith

The Grand Bangkok International Film Festival has a khon dance character as its mascot. As Philip Cornwel-Smith explains, film shares much with traditional Thai dance: both use illusion to create awareness.

Viewing a film requires suspension of disbelief. Performing on stage demands even greater illusion to beguile the senses. Thai culture goes further in recognising that in real life, too, our senses create illusions that Buddhists call ‘maya’.

Thais have a long theatrical tradition of utilising maya to convey lessons about life, whether through the artificial movements of puppets, the flickering chimera of shadow plays, or the ethereal costumes and postures of dance. The most sophisticated of all Thai dance-dramas, khon, involves masks. Its fixed expressions compel the viewer to interpret other, subtler signals in order to understand the full picture.

Such acknowledgement of life’s illusions continues in modern media. In soap operas, seemingly individual characters conform to khon-like moral roles. Thais nickname modern entertainment maya, and a celebrity magazine admits the illusory nature of fame by calling itself Maya Channel.

Being both performance and mere light, film is pure illusion, pure maya. Appropriately, the mascot of the Grand Bangkok International Film Festival (GBKIFF) symbolises maya. As this year’s festival honours the Diamond Jubilee of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, this mascot is a character from khon, a dance originally reserved for royal audiences.

Khon relates the Ramakien epic, the Thai version of the ancient Indian Ramayana in which each character is colour coded and has particular attributes. In the tale’s conflict between Dhamma (righteous knowledge) and evil, the green monkey character, Pali, adopted by GBKIFF embodies maya.

The leads are the noble prince Phra Rama (also green), his loyal brother Phra Lak (gold), his chaste bride Sida (white) and the jesting warrior monkey Hanuman (white). Their ten-faced opponent, the demon king Totsakan (green), frequently deploys illusions such as shape shifting and disguise.

Khon imagery and Thai film share a history of connections, from Hanuman studios and cinemas called Rama to various films of Ramakien tales. Now Thai animators are turning out cartoon versions of the epic. Two modern stagings of khon also utilise screen projections to transform public understanding of this multi-layered art.

In tribute to His Majesty the King’s Diamond Jubilee, Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre is staging khon performances throughout 2006. Built as Siam’s first sound-equipped cinema in 1933, the theatre has served two purposes: to project films using the latest technology; and to stage Thai dance for cultural preservation. For the Royal Masked Dance commemorative project, the marathon drama has been compacted into a 70-minute production with six acts repeated on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays until April 30. These will be followed by different khon productions until year’s end.

In the past, Thai dance has typically been presented with little introductory context for either foreign audiences or Thais under-acquainted with their heritage. Plot summaries help only partially if the audience is unaware of the visual language at play, so they often miss the nuances, wit and meanings that would aid their attention and enjoyment. This age of multi-media and rival entertainments calls for clear explanation of what’s going on in the postures and gestures, costumes and colour coding, props and set-pieces. In a major advance, the Royal Masked Dance production subtitles the partly-sung narration, which is accompanied by a phi phat musical ensemble beside the stage.

The production pleases purists through master performers and the quality of production, whilst brilliant lighting and fast-moving narrative entices young audiences. Using an innovation pioneered by contemporary companies like Patravadi Theatre, the setting is enhanced by other traditional arts such as nang yai shadow puppets. Nang yai (literally ‘large leather’) employs perforated buffalo hides depicting Ramakien characters. These are manipulated by a dancing puppeteer in front of an illuminated screen. The Thai word for film, nang, comes directly from shadow puppetry.

Khon uses many devices to create otherworldly impressions: gilded crowns and bangles, idealised faces, mural-esque compositions, vivid costumes embroidered with metal thread and set with glinting beads. But what if that distracting costume were removed to reveal a khon without illusions? Pichet Klunchun, Thailand’s leading contemporary dancer, does just that.

In two productions currently touring, Pichet employs his mastery of khonto deconstruct it. His cross-cultural collaboration Phichet Klunchun and Myself (aka Made in Thailand) explores khon’s form and how it tackles universal themes like love, truth and death. Dressed in rehearsal clothing, Pichet answers questions by French choreographer Jerome Bel by demonstrating excerpts with finesse and humour. Pichet then poses questions of Bel’s modern choreography to indicate parity between their respective genres.

Pichet’s solo piece, 'I am a Demon', reveals another hidden aspect: the sheer physicality needed for khon. Covered only in a loincloth and white powder, Pichet re-enacts daunting disciplines from his khon training. Video of instruction by his legendary late master projects onto Pichet’s body as it flexes, holds and leaps. The title derives from body shape dictating the character a pupil can study. Willowy frames evoke gods, and spry physiques suit monkey roles. The robust Pichet was fated to play a demon.

Now with pupils of his own, Pichet passes on his knowledge and commitment in order that khon may not just survive, but thrive and cross-fertilise. Worldwide, traditional arts face a dilemma: the impulse to preserve often confines them to ethnic contexts and inhibits further development, thus squandering potential and audiences. Today, khon risks languishing as masters pass away, young Thais reject it as old fashioned, and variety showcases fragment the epic into desultory snippets.

Like all traditions, khon was never fixed, but changed over time. It interchanged over centuries with ancient Khmer court dance. A century ago, masks were removed from some characters. Earlier khon costumes were looser, more varied and less ornate than the current tunics which are so tight and thick they must be sewn on to the dancers.

By loosening conventions and explaining the art clearly, Pichet places khon at an international level on a par with other important dance forms. His ‘unplugged’ way of presenting khon intrigues modern audiences. Curiously, developing an art often spurs demand for seeing the original version too. In Thailand’s increasingly cosmopolitan culture, khon needs both.

There are unprecedented opportunities to view khon in 2006. In between major festivals in Europe, 'I am a Demon' returns to Bangkok in March, followed by 'Made in Thailand' from June 30 to July 2. And once Sala Chalermkrung’s production finishes, perhaps khon might finally be staged on a regular schedule, both for audiences to predict and dancers to pursue their art as a career.

Runs until April 30, when a different Khon production takes over.

A 70 minute production summarising the epic into six acts:
Act I: Phra Ram is Cakravatar (Narai's avatar)
Act II: Phra Ram parts with Nang Sida
Act III: Phra Ram acquires an army
Act IV: Thotsakan in the garden
Act V: Phra Ram fights Thotsakan
Act VI: Phra Ram returns to Ayodhya
<span style='color:red'>South African Hindu Maha Sabha, 1912- to present</span>

<img src='http://scnc.ukzn.ac.za/doc/INDIAN/sabhas/SAHindu.JPG' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

The year 1860 marked the arrival of the first batch of Indians into South Africa under the scheme of indenture. As their numbers increased from year to year, they began erecting many temples on the estates, thereby they were able to maintain and adhere to their religious traditions, practices, customs and beliefs. It was not until 1912 that Hinduism was formally housed under one parent organisation.

Swami Shankaranandji came to South Africa in 1907 to continue with the missionary work done by Shri Bhai Parmanand. Since his arrival, he worked tirelessly for the cause of Hindu Dharma. He helped form Hindu organisations, revived Hindu festivals, resuscitated ancient Indian traditions and established vernacular schools. He inspired Hindus through his various lectures and discourses throughout the country. Under his dynamic leadership he convened the first South African Hindu Conference in May 1912. Three hundred delegates from forty-four Hindu institutions attended the conference. At this Conference the South African Hindu Maha Sabha was born with Swamiji as its first President. Swamiji's departure to India in 1913 left a vacuum resulting in a period of inactivity until the arrival of Mehta Jaimini, Swami Adhyanandji, Pandit Rishi Ram and other missionaries who rekindled the spirit of Hinduism.

The 1950's and 1960's saw the establishment, development and growth of Neo-Hindu Movements such as the Ramakrishna Centre and the Divine Life Society which advocated spirituality by means of prayer, worship, meditation and discourses.

Through its conference and related activities, the Maha Sabha has , through the years, provided a forum for all Hindus to meet and discuss their common problems and exchange their views and ideas. Today, in the forum of the Maha Sabha we find the Sanathanist, the Saivite, the Arya Samajist, the Vaishnavite, the Shakta, the Advaita, the Visisthadvaita, the Dwaita, the Mimansaka - all Hindus of similar and divergent social, cultural, educational and religious backgrounds.

While the Sabha has strived over the years to keep Hinduism alive, it needs to meet the challenges of transition. As part of a broader South African society, the Indian needs to fit into this fabric and the Hindu Sabha has therefore the continued task to convey the views, hopes and aspirations of the Hindus in South Africa to the various forums engaged in the transformation process. The Sabha must, of necessity, continue to serve the Hindu cause in this country for this group to survive.


South African Hindu Maha Sabha and its affiliates:

Andhra Maha Sabha
Arya Pratinidhi Sabha South Africa
Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre
Divine Life Society of South Africa
Gujarati Maha Parishad
Hindu Maha Sabha
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Kathiawad Hindu Seva Samaj
Merebank Saraswati Andhra Sabha
Natal Gujarati Parishad
Natal Tamil Vedic Society
National Hindu Youth Federation of South Africa
Pathmajuranni Andhra Sabha
Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa
Saiva Sithantha Sungum of South Africa
Sathya Sai Baba Foundation
Shree Emperumal Hindu Temple Society
Shree Sanathan Dharma Sabha of South Africa
South African Tamil Federation
Surat Hindu Association
Vedanta Mission
... and many more
In light of above background, do our South African Tamil friends don't know "united we win, divided we lose?" and "Vayam Panch-adhikam Shatam"??? or they have better ideas....

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><span style='color:red'>South Africa's Tamil community breaks from Hindu Maha Sabha</span>
Durban, Aug 23: South Africa's large Hindu community has been split down the middle between "north Indians" and "south Indians" following the Tamil Federation's decision to withdraw its membership of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha.

The Tamil Federation claimed the Sabha has become a "Hindi Sabha". Sivi Pather, vice-chairman of the Natal Tamil Vedic Society Trust, said for far too long the Sabha has chosen to talk about issues concerning the Tamil people in a "high-handed manner".

Pather said the Sabha mainly concerned itself with issues concerning "north India" and therefore was not suitable to represent the cultural and religious values of the Tamil people, who make up more than 50 per cent of South Africa's 1.2-million people of Indian origin.

"We have now decided that the South African Tamil Federation is the only and true representative of the Tamil people of South Africa," said Pather.

"The South African Hindu Maha Sabha doesn't represent the aspirations of the Tamil people. The South African Tamil Federation respects the traditions and methods of worship practised by all Tamils in South Africa.

"The Federation will seek to cooperate and have a working relationshop with all national organisations on matters of mutual interest," he said.  --- PTI
Google has an e-book dated 1852 India in Greece by E. Pococke. It is ~341 pages long and should be studied by all.
I want Kaushal, S. Kalyanram, Acharya and HH to take a look and give their opinion.
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Silent Beatle's Life transformation from super stardom to Vivekandanda, Yogananda, Maharishi and Sri Krishna </span>

<img src='http://www.genesis-publications.com/books/concert/home.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

By Joshua M. Greene, New York

In 1966, George Harrison, lead guitarist of the most popular rock group ever, the Beatles, said, "The people of India have a tremendous spiritual strength which I don't think is found elsewhere. The spirit of the people, the beauty, the goodness--that's what I've been trying to learn about."

In 1969, devotees from the London Radha Krishna temple invited me to take part in an album of mantras and prayers that George Harrison was producing at Apple Studios. Meeting him for the first time, I was struck by his humility, by his understated humor, and by his excitement over the music we had gathered to make. Recording these ancient songs was his way of letting people know "there's more to life than boogying, " as he put it. At that time, the Beatles were dissolving, but George's solo career was growing, thanks in large measure to his daily meditations and yoga practice.

It may be difficult for someone who didn't grow up in the sixties to understand the significance of a Beatle's committing to India's spiritual teachings. A large percentage of baby boomers, as the generation born after World War II were called, took their cues about beliefs, behavior and politics, as well as wardrobe and hairstyle, from what the Beatles did and sang. If Americans had any impression of Hinduism at all, it was usually distorted by British missionary prejudice. By publicly declaring his appreciation for yoga, meditation, karma, dharma, reincarnation and other concepts identified with India, George helped reverse nearly three hundred years of anti-Hindu ignorance and bias.

There was a trajectory to George's spiritual life, which began and ended with music. In 1966, he met maestro Ravi Shankar and thrilled to the sound of a sitar, to the lull of its sympathetic strings and the way it could stretch a single note to imitate the yearning of a heart in love. Later that year, George continued his sitar lessons in Srinagar, an extended village at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains surrounded by fields of golden saffron flowers. In this idyllic setting he practiced music and spent hours reading about India's ancient teachings. As a boy, George had been an indifferent student, but during that visit he was rarely without a book in his hands, including Swami Vivekananda's Raja Yoga and Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi.

What he learned of India's spiritual culture amazed him. Unlike institutional religions that barely tolerate one another, here was a world view that encompassed everyone and everything. All living beings are eternal souls, part and parcel of God, the texts declared. Our job is to manifest that divinity. This, the Hindu tradition said, is Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion, which dwells in all beings. "Through Hinduism I feel a better person, " he told a reporter. "I just get happier and happier."

John, Paul and Ringo were his closest friends, and in 1968 he induced his fellow Beatles and their partners to join him and his then wife, model Patty Boyd, on a retreat to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh. The Beatles' days in Rishikesh consisted of a casual breakfast, morning meditation classes until lunch, leisure time in the afternoons, and sometimes as many as three more hours of meditation in the evenings. George and his friends found their creative energies heightened in the peaceful atmosphere of the retreat. In Rishikesh, the Beatles composed more than forty songs. Many were recorded on the White Album, and others would appear on their final LP, Abbey Road. They all appreciated their time in India, but it was George who took away a lasting impression that this was his real life's work, to go deeper into India's millennial teachings and realize his eternal relationship with the Divine.

Returning to London, he met disciples of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. George identified with the American devotees, young people his own age, who had rejected materialism for higher ground. In their company, George began to chant the Hare Krishna mantra daily and to read the Bhagavad Gita.

Signs of George's devotion to yoga and meditation filled his home. Incense sweetened the air. A small altar sat on the mantle of the fireplace. Pictures of favorite teachers and paintings of Deities from India's scriptures decorated the walls: Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune; elephant-headed Ganesh; Krishna playing with his friends in the cowherd village of Vrindavan. George found Indian theology exciting and sensual, filled with meditative music, tasty food, fabulous stories of eternal worlds, and all the satisfactions a newcomer to the spiritual journey could ever hope to find.

Producing records with spiritual messages provided an ideal way for him to make use of his musical skills and his influence with the record industry. In 1970, he released "My Sweet Lord, " inspired by the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day, " a gospel classic that featured a chorus repeating the song's title over and over. George wrote a choral line using the word "Hallelujah " as the refrain, and then switched mid-way to the phrase "Hare Krishna."

George's spiritual journey was not an easy one. His wife Patty left him, in large measure because his commitment to God grew stronger than his commitment to their partnership. Fans derided him for taking his faith onstage and exhorting them to "Chant Krishna! Jesus! Buddha!" when it was rock and roll they wanted. The press was occasionally cruel in its judgment of his post-Beatles music. And for a while, some bad habits from his rocker days--in particular alcohol and drugs--returned to haunt him.

On visits to Los Angeles, George spent time at the Self-Realization Fellowship estate in Encinitas, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and only three miles from Ravi Shankar's home. Ravi had met SRF founder Yogananda in the 1930s and had given his first US concert at the Encinitas retreat in 1957. The organization strictly honored its members' privacy, a privilege George appreciated after the notoriety of his affiliation with Krishna devotees. The quiet ambience of the Encinitas estate and the organization's focus on achieving heightened awareness through Kriya Yoga had a calming effect.

In later years, George retreated from his pop celebrity into the life of a humble gardener. He took great pleasure in tilling the earth, in planting jasmine bushes, in freeing a magnolia tree from wild brambles, and bringing his neglected Friar Park grounds back to a state of beauty.

In April 1996, he flew to Madras, South India, to record an album of traditional Indian songs and mantras with Ravi Shankar. George considered "Chants of India " one of his most important works, as it allowed listeners to "listen to something that has its roots in the transcendental & beyond intellect. If you let yourself be free & it can have a positive effect."

George never stopped making music or trying to send a spiritual message out into the world. But these callings seemed less urgent to him in his later years than they had as a young man. He once described himself as someone who had climbed to the top of the material world, then looked over to find that there was much more on the other side. There, on the other side of the material mountain, was the call of his eternal self and his relationship with the Divine.

George's life started in music and ended in music. In Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends and the chanting of God's holy names, his soul left its body on November 29, 2001.

His son Dhani said, "You know, I read a letter from him to his mother that he wrote when he was twenty-four. He was on tour or someplace when he wrote it. It basically says, 'I want to be self-realized. I want to find God. I'm not interested in material things, this world, fame--I'm going for the real goal. And I hope you don't worry about me, mum.' He wrote that when he was twenty-four! And that was basically the philosophy that he had up until the day he died."

Joshua M. Greene is an author, filmmaker and communications consultant specializing in issues of faith. this article is drawn from his new book, here comes the sun: the spiritual and musical journey of George Harrison, www.herecomesthesunbook.com.
<span style='color:blue'>If Americans had any impression of Hinduism at all, it was usually distorted by British missionary prejudice. By publicly declaring his appreciation for yoga, meditation, karma, dharma, reincarnation and other concepts identified with India, George helped reverse nearly three hundred years of anti-Hindu ignorance and bias.

<span style='color:red'>Hindu Heads of Nations </span>
List updated to include New Zealand. Members see if I missed any names.

King GYANENDRA Bir Bikram Shah (since 4 June 2001)
Prime Minister Girija Prasad KOIRALA (since 30 April 2006)

Vice President Ram SARDJOE (since 3 August 2005)

President Bharrat JAGDEO (since 11 August 1999)

President Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH (since 7 October 2003)
Prime Minister Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM (since 5 July 2005)

King Bhumibol Adulyatej (since 9 June 1946)

President Sellapan RAMANATHAN (since 1 September 1999)
Deputy Prime Minister Shunmugan JAYAKUMAR (since 12 August 2004)

President A.P.J. Abdul KALAM (since 26 July 2002);
Vice President Bhairon Singh SHEKHAWAT (since 19 August 2002)
Prime Minister Manmohan SINGH (since 22 May 2004)
(I am counting Dr. Abdul Kalam and MMS as Hindus)

New Zealand
Governor General Anand Satyanand, represents official Head - Queen Elizabeth II (since August 2006)
<span style='color:red'>Global Patterns of Religious Following </span>
(Sensus of 2001)

India-based/originated faiths all around the globe:
Hindus total: 780,547,000 - 13.65% global
Vaishnavite Hindus: (70%) 546,383,000 (9.56% of world population)
Shaivite Hindus: (25%) 195,137,000 (3.41% of world population)
neo / reform Hindus: (2%) 15,611,000 (0.27% of world population)
Buddhism total: 323,894,000 - 5.67% global
Mahayana Buddhism: 56% 181,380,000 (3.17 % of world population)
Theravada Buddhism: 38% 123,080,000 (2.15 % of world population)
Tantrayana Buddhism: 6% 19,434,000 (0.35 % of world population)
Jain: 4,886,000 (0.09 % of world population)
Sikh: 19,161,000 (0.34% of world population)
Parsee (Zoroastrian): 189,000 (0.00 % of world population)

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>No religious group even comes close to enjoying a global majority.</span> The largest single group, comprising all the various Christian sects, is outnumbered two-to-one by non-Christians worldwide.

Christians vastly outnumber non-Christians in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. <span style='color:blue'>In Asia, however, where the majority of the world's population resides, non-Christians outnumber Christians more than ten-to-one.</span>

Muslims are the second-largest religious group, and Hindus the fourth-largest. <span style='color:blue'>The Muslim population is perhaps the most evenly distributed about the globe, whereas 99 percent of the world's Hindu population is concentrated in southern Asia.</span>

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>The third-largest group, making up almost one fifth of the world's population, comprises unbelievers and disbelievers.</span> Secularists make up about 1/3 of Asians, 1/5 of Europeans, 1/8 of the population of Oceania, and 1/10 of people in the U.S. and Canada. They are most outnumbered in Africa and Latin America.

Though a minority in the U.S., Roman Catholics account for fully half of all Christians worldwide, Protestants and Anglicans together for only about a quarter.
Roman Catholics are the world's largest individual religious sect, yet they are slightly outnumbered by secularists.

Spiritual non-theists — e.g., Buddhists, Confucians, spiritists, etc. — number about twice those who classify themselves as atheists. If this number is added to the number of secularists, we find that the number of people who do not believe in a god in the conventional sense of the term make up between one fourth and one third of the world's population. Spiritual and secular non-theists together number more than any single theistic group except Christians.
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Indra in Japan</span>

<img src='http://www.np.emb-japan.go.jp/graph/indra.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Taishakuten, a very popular deity in Japan, is a clear adoption of Indra. His vahana (vehicle), elephant Airavata, was reduced in size to a horse there, due to the fact that ancient Japanese never had an opportunity to see a real living elephant. There is a famous movie serial in Japan named Futen-no-Torasan (Mr. Tora, a hobo). Mr.Tora, the Protagonist in the movie, used to declare proudly that he was born and bred in Shibamata, Katsushika, which is a downtown area of Tokyo, and he received ablutions in the temple of Indra (Taishakuten) when he was born.
The magazine Hinduism Today gives some slightly different numbers:

Christians 2 Billion. (Roman catholics 1.4 Billion and Protestants 600 million)
Muslims 1.3 Billion
Hindus 1 Billion

The Hindu number seems a little high.

For example it says there are 470,000 Hindus in Canada, whereas the official census states there are 300,000 I think.

For USA it gives 2 million, of which half are converts to Hinduism.

For India it states there are 895 million.
<!--QuoteBegin-mitradena+Sep 16 2006, 06:29 PM-->QUOTE(mitradena @ Sep 16 2006, 06:29 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->For USA it gives 2 million, of which half are converts to Hinduism.

Mitradena, thanks for providing inputs. Yes there are differences in numbers. Not sure which source to trust.

By the way, as per the latest immigration records, as reported by India Abroad magazine few weeks back, there are 2.3 million people of Indian origin residing legally in USA. I am sure majority of these would be Hindus. So, even if we don't count the illegal immigrants, Hindus from other countries (South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Europe), Hindu converts etc., I think Hindu population of USA will still be much higher.

1 million Hindu converts in USA? Amazing if it is true. Do you have more information about that?

The only report I have is from the Hinduism Today group.
ISKCON alone is said to have 200,000 members.

This all heresay. No concrete stats to back it up.

Here are some more numbers for Hindus in other countries sorted by rank:

Nepal 21 million
Bangladesh 12.1 million
Indonesia 5.9 million
Sri Lanka 2.2 million
South Africa 1.43 million
UK 1.3 million
Malaysia 1.29 million
Pakistan 1.2 million

Mauritius 700,000
Fiji 600,000
Guyana 450,000
Trinidad 320,000
Gulf states 310,000
Bhutan 300,000
Myanmar 294,000
Reunion 290,000
Suriname 200,000

Netherlands 180,000
Singapore 171,000
France 150,000
Afghanistan 130,000
Germany 100,000
Australia 75,000

Martinique & Guadaloupe 50,000
New Zealand 47,000
Brazil 25,000

The big surprises were Brazil with 25,000 Hindus and Martinique with 50,000.

I was also surprised that Panama had only 600 Hindus.
I thought the number was much higher.



EAST OF INDIA Siva, Indochina and the geopolitics of peace
Amitav AcharyaPosted online: Friday, September 29, 2006 at 0000 hrs Print EmailThe history of Champa offers up lessons for a world where religious and political ideas are spread through violence

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Vietnam Airlines Flight 267 descended towards the airport over Cam Ranh Bay, a geopolitical relic of the Cold War where the Soviet Union built a major base for its Pacific Fleet. I, however, was flying into the area not to investigate Cold War history but in search of Siva and the relics of the ancient kingdom of Champa that flourished under his divine patronage.

Champa, which existed from the 2nd century to 15th century on the southern coast of today’s Vietnam, was an enterprising nation on the sea trade route between China and India. In 1471, it was defeated and absorbed by the Dai Viet, Vietnam’s majority ethnic group.

Champa was an Indianised kingdom but not an Indian colony. Indian traders visited in large numbers and Brahmans found profitable employment in the royal courts. But the people of Champa were Austronesians who arrived from the sea and spoke a Malay-Polynesian dialect.

The court language of Champa was indisputably Sanskrit, as numerous inscriptions found in the area attest. The people of Champa borrowed heavily from Indian language religion, art, and the system of law and government. Indian ideas arrived peacefully, not through conquest. Brahmanism had a huge following among the people. Although Buddhism at times found patronage in Champa and its rulers also worshipped Visnnu and Brahma, and Indra, Siva was the presiding deity of Champa courts.

The first ruler of Champa to have assumed a Sanskrit name was King Bhadravarman, who built a temple in My Son in central Vietnam dedicated to the god Bhadresvara. His successor, who rebuilt the temple after it was destroyed by a Javanese raid, posthumously assumed the name of Sambhuvarmana. Siva’s power and protection became Champa’s chief political ideology; its rulers claimed legitimacy by closely identifying with Siva.

A visit to the Cham towers in the southern coastal areas of Vietnam and the museums housing Champa artefacts attest to this. Made of brick, the Cham towers are not as imposing as the temple complexes of Angkor or Pagan. But they have a distinctive beauty and represent a high point of artistic achievement. The towers served as temple-mausoleums of Champa’s rulers. This is where the kings deified themselves as Siva, sometimes posthumously. The outer walls are decorated with images of Siva and Uma; inside are lingams, yonis and Nandis.

The 8th century vintage Po Nagar Cham Tower in Nha Trang (old name Kauthara) is named after the goddess Yang Ino Po Nagar, a Cham deity identified with the Hindu goddess Bhagawati). It has a richly decorated lingam, while the image of a dancing Uma adorns the entrance to the main shrine (known as kalan). At the Po Kloong Garai Tower in Phan Rang (formerly Panduranga), a bust of King Kloong Garai, with a clearly Malay-Polynesian face, is attached to a lingam which is placed within a yoni. At Po Rome, one of the last towers to be built before Champa disappeared, sits a stone relief of King Po Rome with eight arms, six of which hold objects symbolising his divinity.

As Champa civilisation waned under continuous pressure from the Dai Viet in the north and the Khmers to the west, so did lavishness of the Cham Towers.

Why did Champa fall? Although often at the receiving end of the expansionist policies of their larger and far more populous Dai Viet and Khmers, the Chams were not shy of instigating conflict. A Champa ruler sacked Angkor , the Khmer city, in 1177 AD, while another almost conquered Dai Viet in the 15th century. But these provocations cost Champa dearly, as it ultimately fell to Khmer and Dai Viet counter-attacks.

What was Siva’s role in Champa’s rise and fall? The cult of Siva, along with Indian ideas about statecraft, came to Champa through commerce rather than conquest. Once there, it helped a small number of seafaring people to survive and sometimes prosper for more than a thousand years and motivated them to produce magnificent monuments. Siva’s patronage gave the rulers of Champa their domestic legitimacy. Did it make Champa’s rulers overconfident and lose the sense of their vulnerability vis-a-vis the more numerous and powerful Dai Viets and Khmers? This question is yet to be answered by historians. If it did, it is certainly a lesson for today’s leaders who may be tempted to view external protection as a substitute for domestic frailties and geopolitical realities.

Although Champa’s rulers waged warfare against their neighbours, there is no evidence that these wars were fought mainly over religious motives or were justified in the name of religion. Unlike the Buddhist monarchs of Siam (Thailand) and Burma, wars between the Chams and the Khmers of Cambodia were certainly not over Siva’s patronage, even though Siva is more associated than Buddha with physical power and protection. The essentially peaceful nature of Siva’s geopolitics deserves to be highlighted in an era where nations and groups seem intent on spreading their religious or political ideas through the use of violence.

The writer is deputy director, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and a senior fellow, Asia-Pacific Foundation, Canada


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