04:02 pm Prayagraj: With barely five days left for the Magh Mela to wrap up, devotees are now rushing with donations to various 'akharas' and camps. The unusual thing about giving 'dakshina' (donations), this year, is that a large section of devotees are making cashless payments, most of them through the BHIM app. Sarthak Upadhayaya, a devotee, said, "I have spent about a fortnight at the Magh Mela and I have been served food thrice a day at my Guru's ashram. It is my duty to offer whatever I can to the ashram. Since cash is in short supply, I have made a cashless transaction this year. Some other ashrams have even got the POS (point of sale) machine for those who do not have apps." The Aum Waheguru Rishi ashram has been operating its 'Annakshetra' where around 40,000 devotees are served food thrice a day. The members at the ashram offer 'dakshina' either directly to the account of the ashram through BHIM app or in cash. The ashram has been encouraging its members to make online donations during prominent religious events. According to office-bearers, the ashram does not receive donations from devotees visiting their camp but only from members of the ashram. Swami Satyanand Saraswati Satyam, who manages the Annakshetra of the ashram, said, "We have been coming to Teerthraj Prayag for last 35-40 years to attend Kumbh, Ardh Kumbh and Magh Mela. We have also been attending Kumbh Melas in Ujjain, Trimbakeshwar in Nashik and Haridwar along with Surya Grahan Mela at Kurukshetra. Donations are an integral part of the camp. We introduced cashless donations after demonetization in 2017."
02:07 pm Haryana Police filed an FIR against self-styled religious leader Radhe Maa and her followers after being attacked "for asking questions" by a journalist in her presence. While Radhe Maa was booked for allegedly threatening the journalist, a group of followers have been charged with assualt. The incident occurred on Sunday evening when Radhe Maa went to a Kanwar Shivir in Panipat to attend a Shivir
04:07 pm Dharamsala, Inspired by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's philosophy of compassion as a source of happiness, billionaire philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has donated $100 million to the University of California San Diego for the scientific research on empathy and compassion and to cultivate these qualities in doctors and healthcare professionals. "I have been inspired by the work and teachings of the Dalai Lama, whose interest in the intersection where science and faith meet is deep and profound," Sanford said in a statement. "Doctors work in a world where compassion is essential, but it is often lost in the harsh realities of modern medicine. If we can help medical professionals preserve and promote their compassion, based on the findings of hard science, the world can be a happier, healthier place. This gift extends that vision," the statement added. Officials in the Dalai Lama's office told IANS that philanthropist Sanford had a private meeting with the Dalai Lama when he visited the University of California San Diego in 2017. Earlier in 2012, the Dalai Lama had visited the University on his "Compassion Without Border" tours. His Holiness' message of global compassion with an emphasis on education and scientific inquiry in the realms of ancient wisdom made an impression on Sanford and scientists and scholars at the university. And now, the message has inspired Sanford to make a donation. Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences David Brenner said in May 2017 he had led a delegation of university physician-scientists to India, where they met with His Holiness to discuss effective ways to cultivate empathy and compassion in healthcare. The meeting helped Brenner iron out the final details of Sanford's new $100 million gift to the university. Then in June 2017, his Holiness gave the University of California San Diego commencement keynote address on "The value of education, ethics and compassion for the well-being of self and others." "The Dalai Lama said that we must show that there is a scientific basis to empathy and compassion," Brenner said. "That's what Denny's gift will help scientists do," he added. With the landmark funding, the university has launched the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion which conducts innovative research into the neurological basis of compassion, establishing the empirical evidence required to design a compassion-focused curriculum for training new generations of medical professionals and developing new methods to protect and promote the well-being of current clinicians and their patients. Officials of the Dalai Lama's office, which is based here, say the spiritual leader visits places only on invitation. And he prefers visiting universities and educational institutions to speak on peace, non-violence, environment, promoting human values and Buddhism. Ever since he fled Tibet in 1959, the Tibetan spiritual leader has travelled to more than 50 countries and met with presidents, prime ministers and crown rulers of major nations, said his aides. In the past five years, the Dalai Lama's preferred foreign destinations have included Japan, the US, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France. source:ians
09:07 am Jammu:After closing suspended due to terrible weather for a day, the Amarnath Yatra resumed on Saturday as round 4000 pilgrims set out for the holy Himalayan cave, police stated. Of the entire 3,926 pilgrims, who left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas -- one escorted convoys of 1,608 pilgrims headed to Baltal, while 2,318 to Pahalgam. because the pilgrimage started out on July 1, a complete of 3,14,584 pilgrims have paid their obeisance before the ice stalagmite shape stated own the mythical power of Lord Shiva. The footfalls on the cave have broken several previous records. On Friday, five,745 pilgrims had "darshan" at the cave shrine, an professional stated, at the same time as further boost of devotees in the direction of the shrine from Jammu changed into checked following inclement weather along the Jammu-Srinagar dual carriageway. situated at a top of 3,888 metres above the sea-stage within the Himalayan levels in Kashmir, the ice shape waxes and wanes with the levels of the moon. so far, 26 pilgrims have died all through the yatra. similarly to this, volunteers and two protection men also lost their lives. The yatra will finish on August 15 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima pageant.
08:07 am Chandigarh: On Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh published the first volume of a coffee table novel from the state government on Guru Nanak Dev's 550th Prakash Purb festivities. The coffee table book, published in the presence of the ministerial committee, comprises of 70 pages that illustrate vividly the unique ##s that took place as part of the festivities from November 2018 to June 2019. The events mentioned include the laying of the Kartarpur Corridor Foundation, as well as numerous other works devoted to the historic occasion. The publication outlined various initiatives initiated by the state government. Various projects launched by the state government have been highlighted in the publication. In addition to rare manuscripts, the coffee table book also provides an account of book exhibitions on Guru Nanak Dev ji's life and philosophy.
10:07 am Jammu, Over 2.70 lakh pilgrims have performed the ongoing Amarnath Yatra during the last 21 days as another batch of 3,178 pilgrims on Monday left Jammu for Kashmir Valley, officials said. Officials of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said since the Yatra started on July 1, a total of 2,72,004 pilgrims had 'darshan' inside the cave shrine. Police said another batch of 3,178 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in two escorted convoys. "Of these, 1,544 are going to Baltal base camp while 1m634 are going t o Pahalgam base camp," a police officer said. Situated 3,888 metres above the sea level in Kashmir's Himalayas, the cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva according to the devotees. The ice structure waxes and wanes with the phases of the Moon. Pilgrims approach the cave shrine either through the longer 45 km long Pahalgam route or the shorter 14 km long Baltal route. Those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after performing the Yatra. Helicopter services are available for the pilgrims at both the base camps. Local Muslims are lending a helping hand to ensure that their Hindu brethren can perform the Yatra with ease and convenience to uphold the centuries-old tradition of Kashmir, abode of saints and Sufis. The cave shrine was discovered in 1850 by a Muslim shepherd named Buta Malik. To reward the shepherd, a saint gave him a bag of charcoal that turned out to be gold, says the local folklore. Symbolically, the lore turned out to b e true. The descendants of the shepherd have shared a portion of the offerings at the cave shrine for over 150 years. This year's Amarnath Yatra will conclude on August 15 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival. source:ians
10:07 am Amritsar, An outpost of the Border Security Force (BSF) on the Pakistan frontier here is thronged by scores of devotees daily. They visit the Viewers' Gallery at the outpost to have a glimpse, using binoculars, of a white-coloured gurdwara located in Pakistan. The shrine is Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara, situated in Narowal area of Pakistan's Punjab Province. The gurdwara building is visible on clear days from the elevated Viewers' Gallery. "Suddenly, the flow of people has increased here. On weekends and holidays, there is a huge rush and sometimes it is difficult to manage," a BSF official posted at the gallery told IANS. Enthusiasm among the devotees is growing against the backdrop of a corridor being built to enable pilgrims to visit the highly revered Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara where Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place. "For us, the upcoming corridor is a link that takes our faith and devotion closer to the God," said octogenarian Mahinder Pal Singh, one the visitors to the Viewers' Gallery. Devotees, especially the Sikhs, have been demanding for over 70 years a visa-free "khule darshan" (free obeisance facility) at the gurdwara for all faiths, from India and overseas, all seven days a week. Work on the project is at an advance stage and the corridor is targeted to be ready by October 31, a week before the celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
05:07 pm New Delhi: Watching the art of Seema Kohli is like a walkthrough of the pictorial Jataka tales of Ajanta caves, defined by intricacy, rich hues, storytelling and imbued with a deeply spiritual flavour. Over 200 of her artworks are currently being exhibited in the Museum of Sacred Art (MOSA) in Belgium in a six-month long show. Titled "The Celestial Revelations", the extensive exhibition opened in the European country on June 15. It shows the vast oeuvre of Kohli -- who works out of her studio in Delhi's Rajinder Nagar locality -- collected by the museum over seven years. Known for using golden and silver leaves on her canvases, the highly-collected artist paints celestial beings, floating forms and meditating feminine figures surrounded by natural and celestial motifs. Delving into the origins of her work, 1960-born Kohli says that right from her childhood, she was in an atmosphere congenial to spirituality. "It was not possible to be away from it (spirituality). The whole ambience was charged with questions, even of death. My mother's grandmother passed away, we were taken to the cremation as 2-3-year olds. We were told that from today, ï¿½chaiji' is not there. She has gone, it's only the body which we're going to cremate. It was all logically explained," the 2008 Lalit Kala Akademi award recipient told IANS in an interview here. Growing up only led to deeper questions and contemplation, causing thoughts of giving everything up. "When I was 18, I thought renunciation is the path. I wanted to leave everything and move on. I went to my family guru in Haridwar, but my father got me back. "As you grow, you realise that wherever you are, you make a difference. If I just made a spiritual enquiry in the usual way, I would've lost a lot. I continued with my artistic journey in a much better way than what I would've been able to in the form of a renunciate," she said. One of India's most visible contemporary artists on the world stage, Kohli's thematic engagements also include that of ï¿½Hiranyagarbha' or the golden womb, which celebrates the feminine and procreation. Despite layering her paintings with spirituality, the multi-arts practitioner -- she paints, sculpts and makes prints -- sees spirituality as transcendent of religion. "As an Indian, you don't see just one thing but many. You're thrown open to the beauty of it. Everything starts from faith, then a belief consolidates into a religion. I am very open to other faiths and philosophies. I see spirituality as transcendent of religion. "Because of the family I was born in, it was much easier to understand other religions," she explains, her hands on a table strewn with many colours. Her works will also be exhibited at the India pavilion of the Jerusalem Biennale in Delhi in October this year.
04:07 pm Goverdhan (Mathura district): Lakhs of pilgrims from different parts of India, including NRIs, are part of the the sea of humanity that has deluged the holy Goverdhan 'Parbat', or hill, that little Lord Krishna is believed to have lifted on his finger to protect inhabitants of Braj from the wrath of Lord Indra. The five-day annual Mudiya Poonau festival will conclude on Tuesday, on full moon, with a procession of saints and members of the Gaudiya sect. Locals say the total number of pilgrims this year could easily cross five million. Goverdhan, a tehsil 20 km from Mathura, is connected by rail and road with Rajasthan, Haryana and other parts of Uttar Pradesh. "Most people from Haryana, Punjab and Delhi are taking the Yamuna Expressway. They can come via Vrindavan, Chatikara, Radhakund. The bypass and newly-laid roads all around, with adequate parking slots, have made it convenient for visitors to reach Goverdhan this year," a district official said. The divisional railway headquarters at Agra has started a set of two passenger trains, while the state roadways has operationalised a fleet of more than 1,500 buses to ferry pilgrims from Agra and neighbouring districts. As many as 42 parking sites have been developed for vehicles coming in from all parts. The police have put up barriers at 92 points to regulate movement of people and vehicles. "Least bothered by the intense heat with monsoon clouds taking a break, lakhs of pilgrims are in full 'josh' (enthusiasm), joining 'keertan mandlis' and singing and dancing all through the 'parikrama' (circumambulation) route," a local priest, Keshav, said. "It's a never-ending procession right now, as faith quotient is running high. The devotees are crowding the Mansi Ganga pond for a holy bath. The administration has provided fountains along the periphery of the pond for the convenience of pilgrims and to ensure cleanliness," he added. Mathura District Magistrate (DM) Sarvagyaram Mishra said that by Saturday more than 15 lakh devotees had already performed the 21 km long 'parikrama' of Mount Goverdhan. "After the Kumbh, this is the second biggest 'mela' (festival) in the state," another local priest, Hari Kishan, said. After Vrindavan, Goverdhan, is now becoming a round-the-year spiritual hub of Krishna devotees. With increasing influx of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and high income group pilgrims from the metros, the town, which once had night stay facilities run only by temples and religious institutions, is now home to smaller hotels and a row of roadside 'dhabaas' (restaurants). High-profile visitors have, however taken a fancy to the Sri Radha Brij Vasundhara resort spread over 25 acres of lush green offering a panoramic view of the holy Goverdhan hill. The Brij Vashundhara resort along the circumambulation route near Aanyaur village, looks an oasis amidst dry parched desert sand. "From the outside, you cannot even make out what's in store inside the campus. But once you are in, it's a treat all the way. The cottages are sited in green clusters that echo with constant chirping of birds," a pilgrim from Gujarat staying in the resort, said. Goverdhan is perhaps the only pilgrim centre that records the highest number of devotees in India round the year for 'parikrama," said Ravi Baba, a priest. "They keep coming, whatever be the season or time of day, from thousands to lakhs daily. A rough estimate of the pilgrims would be over ten crore annually. For the five-day annual Mudiya Poonau fair, we have over ten million visitors," said shopowner Madhu Mangal. Goverdhan is high on the priority list of the Uttar Pradesh government which has embarked on a massive construction spree, building by-passes, new roads, adding pilgrim shelters and providing street lighting along the parikrama route. A number of NGOs, including Braj Ujjwala, Yamuna Mission and Braj Foundation are busy renovating local ponds and groves. The newly-constituted Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad, has drawn up ambitious plans for development of the area at the initiative of the local MP Hema Malini. This year, an additional facility in the form of Heli-Yatra is available for pilgrims who are short of time. A seven-seater helicopter circles the holy hill, providing a panoramic view at a fare of Rs 3,000.
03:07 pm Hyderabad: Tucked away from the hustle bustle of city life is a sprawling 1,400 acre campus with people craving for internal peace flocking to the global headquarters of Heartfulness system of meditation. Located in Chegur village of Ranga Reddy district, about 50 km from Hyderabad, a drought-prone landscape for several decades is now transforming into a lush green eco-system with environmentally self-sustained world-class facility. Home to variety of trees, many of which are almost extinct, Kanha Shativanam, as the area is called, offers a perfect setting for those practicing Heartfulness, an approach to the Raja Yoga system of meditation called Sahaj Marg. Heartfulness meditation is a set of practices for self-development that helps a person find inner calm and stillness. Offered at no cost and without any dogma, it is the ancient art of yogic transmission or 'pranahuti'. "The effect of Heartfulness meditation with pranahuti on brainwave patterns, heart rate and blood pressure, vagus nerve activity and telomere length on chromosomes, amongst other things, are being supported by research. Many feel the effects of transmission in their first few Heartfulness meditation sessions and are often surprised at their own ability to plunge into an absorbed meditative state," says the Heartfulness Institute. Heading the institute is Kamlesh D. Patel, the fourth global guide of Heartfulness. Daaji, as he affectionately known, has touched the lives of millions at home and abroad. "Heartfulness is all about living by the heart. Mind, body and the heart form beautiful rhythmic triangle. The voice of heart always dominates over the mind. Though feeble but it always dominate in the end. Mind may tell you something but heart will always guide you in right direction. I don't say mind always misguides. It can also be in sync with the heart. This is a rarity," Daaji told IANS as people from various walks of life sat in pin-drop silence waiting for a meditation session with the guru. According to him, people who are egoists and obsessed with desires can't listen to the heart. "Through meditation we sensitise the awareness. We sensitise in a conscience that little voice. It is one part of Heartfulness method. Most of us listen to heart but very few follow it. It needs little bit of commitment, wisdom and some courage. "Most people come here is to find peace. Some sort of calmness. That is also very small goal. If we approach god with peace of mind, of course he is benevolent and generous he will grant you peace. But if you ask Himself, then peace will automatically come. One has to be wiser in asking. We narrow down our vision and say I want only peace. The ultimate goal should be to one with Him," he added. According to Daaji, even to have a minimum thing like peace of mind one needs to meditate. Heartfulness is offering 'Dhyanotsav' a free of cost three-day master class wellness fest focusing on teaching techniques of Heartfulness relaxation, meditation and cleaning. It will be held in cities all over India. For students and teachers of yoga, he recently launched Heartfulness Yoga that integrates body, mind and soul in the true spirit of Ashtanga Yoga. It not only teaches classical yoga asanas but also the ultimate goal of Yoga, which is oneness through meditation. Heartfulness Institute, which had its headquarters in Chennai, shifted to Hyderabad because of its central location. Daaji laid special emphasis on developing green cover as he believes plants have a much greater capacity to retain the subtle vibrations of yogic transmission compared to human beings. In less than four years, the barren area has undergone transformation with the plantation of two lakh tress. A six lakh sapling nursery is acting as a supply for the plantation in the region, while 1,000 trees saved and translocated from faraway places resurrected here. Buoyed by the success, Heartfulness Institute is now working to develop rain forest. Daaji said that every year they want to plant one lakh trees and once this space runs out they will take up plantation in villages, ponds and forests. People voluntarily contribute in terms of work, time and funds. People working at Amazon, Google, Apple, Cisco and other corporate giants voluntarily participate in plantation. The facility will unveil its meditation hall next year. It promises to be one of the largest in the world by accommodating one lakh 'Abhyasis '(practitioners of Heartfulness) at one go. The entire facility is completely self-sustaining with solar energy systems meeting the power needs. The facility is equipped with temporary and permanent living spaces to support housing of large gathering often in excess of 35,000 practitioners who travel from across the globe to take part in mass meditation sessions while staying over three to five days.