Saturday, April 5, 2014
CHRISTIANITY STUDY: The Vatican's differences with the British monarchy go back five centuries (Henry VIII and all that). Besides being the head of state, the queen also is the head of the Church of England, but she's done more than any of her predecessors to repair relations. Differences with Argentina are much more recent. The pope is on the record as saying the Malvinas, as the Argentines call the islands in the South Atlantic, belong to Argentina. He recently met with the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, who wants him to intercede in the continuing tension with Britain over the islands. The queen says what her governments tell her to say about war and politics, and the British continue to insist the Falklands are theirs and that's the end of it.
Queen Elizabeth II met Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican today, in her fifth meeting with a pontiff in the Holy See and one of the last foreign trips for the soon-to-be 88-year-old monarch.http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/04/03/queen-elizabeth-ii-meets-pope-francis-in-the-vatican/7251869/
ISLAM STUDY: Three Arab countries have banned the Hollywood film "Noah" on religious grounds even before its worldwide premiere and several others are expected to follow suit, a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters on Saturday. Islam frowns upon representing holy figures in art and depictions of Mohammad in European and North American media have repeatedly sparked deadly protests in Islamic countries over the last decade, fanning cultural tensions with the West. "Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries," a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125 million film starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins, told Reuters. "The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because 'it contradicts the teachings of Islam'," the representative said, adding the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait. The film will premiere in the United States on March 28. Noah, who in the Bible's Book of Genesis built the ark that saved his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood, is revered by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An entire chapter in the Koran is devoted to him. Cairo's Al-Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam and a main centre of Islamic teaching for over a millennium, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film on Thursday. "Al-Azhar ... renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet (Mohammad), peace be upon him," it announced in a statement. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_05/Malaysia-bans-Noah-film-as-anti-Islamic-7613/
They "provoke the feelings of believers ... and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law," the fatwa added. Mel Gibson's 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ" on Jesus's crucifixion was widely screened in the Arab World, despite a flurry of objections by Muslim clerics. A 2012 Arab miniseries "Omar" on the exploits of a seventh century Muslim ruler and companion of the Prophet Mohammad also managed to defy clerics' objections and air on a Gulf-based satellite television channel. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_05/Malaysia-bans-Noah-film-as-anti-Islamic-7613/
BUDDHISM STUDY: “Ethnocentric Buddhism” is a term I have begun to use to describe a particular phenomenon in the history of Buddhism, although I suspect it is not a recent one. The term points to the notion that Buddhist identity is intrinsically linked to national identity. It also denotes the idea that other factors will be apparent in creating Buddhist and national identity in different Buddhist cultures. For example, in Thailand there is the idea of “nation, religion and monarch” (chat-sasana-phramahakasat) and in Burma “nation, language and religion” (amyo-barthar-tharthanar). In both of these examples the idea of the Buddhist religion (sasana/tharthanar) is linked to other factors in the formation of national and cultural identity. Further, in both cases the defence of one’s religion is linked to these other themes of national identity — to defend one is to defend the other. There are a number of possible factors and ideas that could shape the formation of an ethnocentric type of Buddhism in a given country. Not all of these ideas are available in each cultural context. Some are available across Buddhist Asia, some confined to a particular area, or would have been used during different historical periods. There is the idea of the “true dharma” existing in one particular place and of that location preserving this true version of the Buddha’s teachings. For example, in Sri Lanka after the transmission of Buddhism, some aspects of the Pali Canon would be considered to preserve the essential word of the Buddha. Later, national identity could be built around this idea together with other texts being used and composed together with Buddhist symbols, the tooth relic for example, creating the notion of a direct lineage to the Buddha.
This is clearly linked to the idea of a particular text containing the essential teaching of the Buddha. The so called “Lotus-sutra (Saddharma-Pundarika-sutra) is the best know example, but there are many others. The Abhidhamma could be said to serve a similar purpose in South and Southeast Asian Buddhism. The notion of the decline of the Dharma in its various manifestations (mappō, for example) is clear — the teachings last a set period of time and this lends itself to an urgency for a given people to preserve and defend the teachings of the Buddha. There is the idea that Buddhism is threatened and that there is a very real need to uphold Buddhism because of this threat. The teachings can be corrupted. The idea that the teachings can be corrupted is written into the Buddhist narrative DNA. This in turn gives rise to a natural sense of “Buddhist nationalism”. What is essential to the tradition is emphasized and “Buddhist fundamentalism” comes to the fore when the “other” is polarised as a threat to the future of Buddhism. In turn Buddhism is linked to ethnicity — a particular ethnic group is under threat and have the need and the necessity to preserve the teachings of the Buddha. Other ethnic groups, unless they come under the control of the dominant Buddhist group are a threat. Movements like the so-called 969 movement in Burma and the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) in Sri Lanka exemplify some of these ideas. please click link to read full article: https://www.dvb.no/news/ethnocentric-buddhism-a-new-theme-in-burmese-buddhism-burma-myanmar/39275
HINDUISM STUDY: Celebrating Chaitra Navratri - Navratri or the nine days` festival celebrating the nine forms of Goddess Durga comes twice in a year. The one that`s celebrated in the month of March-April which is the first month of the Hindu Lunar Calendar year (Vikram Samvat) is known as Chaitra Navratri named after the Hindu month. Sharad Navratri is celebrated in the month of October-November. Chaitra or Vasant Navratri also marks the beginning of the spring season. This nine day celebration ends with Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama. This year, Chaitra Navratri began on 31st March, 2014 and it will end on 8th April, 2014.
The nine forms of Goddess Durga are as follows: Shailputri Brahmacharini Chandraghanta Kushmanda Skandamata Katyayani Kalratri Mahagauri Siddhidatri The nine days are devoted to worshipping these nine forms of Durga. It is the most auspicious festival which is celebrated in the Northern part of India. It is followed by religious rituals for nine days. Devotees observe fast to seek the blessings of Goddess Durga. The atmosphere is filled with religious songs and dance. Navratri food is special in its own way and the stress is on satvik food. Delicacies especially made from sabudaana and kuttu ka aata are served during this time. On the first day of Navratri, barley seeds are sown in a mud pot in the pooja room and on the eighth or nine day these seedlings are offered to the Goddess. Navratri ends with the kanya-poojan or worshipping young girls on the eighth or the ninth day. On this day, nine young girls are worshipped, fed halwa, puri and black chana apart from giving gifts. Onion and garlic are strictly prohibited during this time and those who observe fast have a meal only once in a day. During this time, worshippers of Goddess durga throng temples to seek her blessings and fulfill their wishes. Jagrans take place during the night time in which all night religious songs are sung in praise of Maa Durga. Durga suktam is chanted both in the morning and evening in the worship of Maa Durga. It is very auspicious to worship Durga Suktam yantra during this time. Reciting Gayatri Mantra every day during this period is also considered to be very auspicious. The nine days are divided into three parts in which the first three days celebrate the valour and power of Maa Durga, which is invoked to destroy all the impurities, the mid three days celebrate the wealth and prosperity bestowed upon by Goddess Lakshmi and the last three days commemorates the wisdom of Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Durga is often referred to as Shakti and bestows power on her devotees. Happy Navratri 2014!! https://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/celebrating-chaitra-navratri-045208419.html