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December 21, 2004
  1. Hindu American Foundation Files Amicus Brief with US Supreme Court in Ten Commandments Case
  2. Dates for Kumbha Melas: 2007 in Prayag; 2010 in Haridwar
  3. Chinmaya Society Organizes Talk in Bharain
  4. "Seven Wonders" Vote Costs Money

1. Hindu American Foundation Files Amicus Brief with US Supreme Court in Ten Commandments Case

USA, December 21, 2004: The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) spearheaded the filing of an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the United States Supreme Court in a case involving the placement of a permanent monument of the Ten Commandments on government property. The brief, filed December 13, 2004, in one of the most widely anticipated cases being heard by the Supreme Court this year, supports the position that the monument violates the separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. HAF garnered the support of nine cosignatories to file the brief on behalf of the millions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains in the United States. The HAF brief is perhaps the first to provide a non-Judeo-Christian perspective to this issue.

The case originally brought by Thomas Van Orden against Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, in 2003, asks for the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from Texas State Capitol grounds. The Supreme Court decided to hear the case after the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled that the monument could remain in place.

The 34-page brief was signed by HAF, Arsha Vidya Pitham, Arya Samaj of Michigan, Hindu International Council Against Defamation, Hindu University of America, Navya Shastra, Saiva Siddhanta Church (publisher through its teaching wing, Himalayan Academy, of Hinduism Today and HPI), Federation of Jain Associations in North America, Interfaith Freedom Foundation and prominent Buddhist scholar and Director of Tibet House, Professor Robert Thurman.

"The brief makes it clear that the cosignatories regard the Ten Commandments with utmost respect," said Suhag Shukla, Esq., Legal Counsel for HAF. "But the overtly religious monument is a blow to pluralism, and its prominent presence on Texas capitol grounds implies political and social exclusion of Hindus, Jains and Buddhists alike. The district and appellate courts failed to consider the effect of the monument on those adhering to non-Judeo-Christian faiths."

A team of attorneys from Goodwin Procter LLP prepared the amicus brief on a pro bono (no charge) basis working hand in hand with HAF and the other organizations who participated. HAF's contact at Goodwin Procter was Aseem Mehta, Esq. Mr. Mehta has worked with HAF in the past on matters related to intellectual property.

"The Supreme Court's decision in the Van Orden case will directly impact Hindus and others," said Nikhil Joshi, Esq., a member of the HAF Board of Directors. "A permanent display of the Ten Commandments on the State Capitol grounds implies an unconstitutional preference for those precepts etched on the monument."

The Ten Commandments are a cornerstone of Judeo-Christian theology, the brief argues. "The courts below [Federal Court of Appeals] completely ignored the effect of the Ten Commandments monument on non-Judeo-Christians, whose beliefs regarding the nature of God and the relationship between man and God differ greatly from those enshrined in the monument and for whom the monument is clearly and unavoidably 'sectarian.' "

In separate sections, the brief elaborates how the Hindu concepts of panentheistic monotheism, the omnipotence and omnipresence of God and the use of consecrated images in worship directly conflict with specific Commandments. Similarly the Jain and Buddhist concept that there is no creator/controller God is shown to be irreconcilable with the premise of the Commandments, "...that a separate divine entity has handed down Commandments as a king might set rules for his subjects."

The full amicus curiae (friend of the court brief) may be viewed here.

HAF is a non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.

2. Dates for Kumbha Melas: 2007 in Prayag; 2010 in Haridwar

DELHI, INDIA, December 21, 2004: Hinduism Today correspondent Rajiv Malik provides the following information on upcoming Kumbha Melas. This is from the well known, Ujjain-based Vedic pundit and astrologer, Pandit Ananda Shankar Vyas. Pandit said, "The next Ardha Kumbha ("Half Mela," midway in the 12-year cycle) is scheduled to take place in Prayag (Allahabad) in the year 2007. Though the Ardha Kumbha is to begin on January 3, 2007, one of the main bathing days will be that of Mauni Amavasya falling on January 19, 2007. The next full Kumbha is scheduled to take place in Haridwar in the year 2010. Though the full Kumbha will begin in February, 2010, one of the main bathing dates would be April 14, 2010."

3. Chinmaya Society Organizes Talk in Bharain

BHARAIN, December 21, 2004: The Chinmaya Society is organizing a two-hour audio-visual presentation and a lecture on Thursday, September 23, at 7pm. It will be held at the Thattai Hindu Mercantile Community Hall (THMC) at the Manama Temple. The event is entitled "Himalayas in Vedic Concepts" and will be delivered in English by visiting New Delhi-based Hindu scholar C. V. Gopinath. General secretary Vijay Kumar said the event would take people on a virtual journey to the sacred places of the Himalayas. For more information, contact Mr Kumar on 39660841 or Ravi Kumar on 39874149.

4. "Seven Wonders" Vote Costs Money

KAUAI, HAWAII, December 22, 2004: It's come to our attention that there is a charge to vote for one of the new "Seven Wonders" of the world as reported in yesterday's HPI. The web site requests one to call a number, which is in Estonia, and states that the organizers somehow receive a payment as a result of the phone call. The phone call gets a recorded message which gives a code number one then uses to vote on the web site. From Hawaii, the call costs US$1.18. We asked our phone company if there could be any additional charge, like a 900 number, and were told they didn't think so, but were "not certain." While the project still appears legitimate, at this point we'd recommend you participate in this voting "at your own risk."

Some source URLs cited in HPI articles are only valid on the date the article was issued. In such cases, go to the top level of the source's website and search for the article.

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