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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Vikram Masson

navyashastra@shastras.org

(www.shastras.org)

Hindu Group asks Religious Leaders to End Caste Discrimination and to Save the Vedas

Religious leaders should open traditions to all castes. Organization lobbying leaders at a Chennai conference. Hinduism has never had a significant reform movement.

Jersey City, New Jersey--November 27, 2003--Navya Shastra, a global Hindu organization which recently protested UNESCO's decision to name Vedic chanting a "Heritage of Humanity" along with twenty-seven other cultural expressions, has asked the Hindu religious leadership to end caste discrimination in their institutions and to open the Vedic chanting tradition to all.

UNESCO honored the Vedic chanting tradition in part because the tradition is in danger of disappearing. Brahmins, who have been historically been the guardians of the Vedas have abandoned the tradition and opted for more lucrative secular professions, resulting in a dwindling supply of Vedic experts."The only way to save the Vedic chanting tradition is to initiate sincere members of all castes, including previously marginalized groups," said Jaishree Gopal, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman.

The organization is lobbying all Hindu leaders to implement caste blind initiation policies at a conference to be held in Chennai in from November 29 through December 1. "Here we have an historic opportunity to declare to the world that Hinduism will reform itself forever of caste discrimination", said Vikram Masson, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman. Navya Shastra has gathered the support of scholars, activists, priests and community leaders throughout the world in its plea to the Hindu leadership.

"Hinduism, which is thousands of years old, has never had a significant reformist movement, said Dr. Arun Gandhi, Navya Shastra adviser and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, "I believe the new millennium now offers Hinduism an opportunity to change its ancient and orthodox ways to bring unity and harmony among its believers."