In advance of their annual Leading Figure award to a religious figure who has
done the most to advance the cause of humanism and peace, the Geneva-based
International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality
(ICARUS) has chosen to bestow a special award this year on the Buddhist
Community. “We typically prefer an under-the-radar approach for the
organization, as we try to embody the spirit of modesty found in the greatest
traditions,” said ICARUS director Hans Groehlichen in a phone conference
Monday. “But with organized religion increasingly used as a tool to
separate and inflame rather than bring together, we felt we had to take the
unusual step of creating a “Best Religion in the World” award and
making a bit of a stir, to inspire other religious leaders to see what is
possible when you practice compassion.”
Groehlichen said the award was voted on by an international roundtable of more
than 200 religious leaders from every part of the spiritual spectrum. “It
was interesting to note that once we supplied the criteria, many religious
leaders voted for Buddhism rather than their own religion,” said
Groehlichen. “Buddhists actually make up a tiny minority of our
membership, so it was fascinating but quite exciting that they won.”
Criteria included factors such as promoting personal and community peace,
increasing compassion and a sense of connection, and encouraging preservation
of the natural environment. Groehlichen continued “The biggest factor for
us is that ICARUS was founded by spiritual and religious people to bring the
concepts of non-violence to prominence in society. One of the key questions in
our voting process was which religion actually practices non-violence.”
When presenting the information to the voting members, ICARUS researched each
of the 38 religions on the ballot extensively, offering background, philosophy,
and the religions role in government and warfare. Jonna Hult, Director of
Research for ICARUS said “It wasn’t a surprise to me that Buddhism won
Best Religion in the World, because we could find literally not one single
instance of a war fought in the name of Buddhism, in contrast to every other
religion that seems to keep a gun in the closet just in case God makes a
mistake. We were hard pressed to even find a Buddhist that had ever been in an
army. These people practice what they preach to an extent we simply could not
document with any other spiritual tradition.”
At least one Catholic priest spoke out on behalf of Buddhism. Father Ted
O’Shaughnessy said from Belfast, “As much as I love the Catholic Church,
it has always bothered me to no end that we preach love in our scripture yet
then claim to know God’s will when it comes to killing other humans. For that
reason, I did have to cast my vote for the Buddhists.” And Muslim Cleric
Tal Bin Wassad agreed from
via his translator. “While I am a devout Muslim, I can see how much anger
and bloodshed is channeled into religious expression rather than dealt with on
a personal level. The Buddhists have that figured out.” Bin Wassad, the
ICARUS voting member for
Muslim community continued, “In fact, some of my best friends are
Buddhist.” And Rabbi Shmuel Wasserstein said from
and I think it’s the greatest religion in the world. But to be honest, I’ve
been practicing Vipassana meditation every day before minyan (daily Jewish
prayer) since 1993. So I get it.”
Groehlichen said that the plan was for the award to Buddhism for “Best
Religion in the World” to be given to leaders from the various lineages in
the Buddhist community. However, there was one snag. “Basically we can’t
find anyone to give it to,” said Groehlichen in a followup call late
Tuesday. “All the Buddhists we call keep saying they don’t want the
award.” Groehlichen explained the strange behavior, saying “Basically
they are all saying they are a philosophical tradition, not a religion. But
that doesn’t change the fact that with this award we acknowledge their philosophy
of personal responsibility and personal transformation to be the best in the
world and the most important for the challenges facing every individual and all
living beings in the coming centuries.”
When asked why the Burmese Buddhist community refused the award, Buddhist monk
Bhante Ghurata Hanta said from
“We are grateful for the acknowledgement, but we give this award to all
humanity, for Buddha nature lies within each of us.” Groehlichen went on
to say “We’re going to keep calling around until we find a Buddhist who
will accept it. We’ll let you know when we do.”
Chief Minister Mayawati has now been in shades of divinity. A 25-year-old
painter has projected Mayawati as a goddess
in several on display at Lalit Kala Akademi here.
Mahesh Tripathi, who is pursuing
post-graduation in fine arts, said: “I feel that she (Mayawati) in the
last few years has done a lot for the poor and downtrodden, that in turn would
enable her to acquire the status of a ‘devi’ ( ) in
In one such painting titled
Aboriginal Inhabitant of Jambudvipa; that is, the Great Prabudha Bharath
(Scheduled Caste) Devi, Mayawati has been depicted as a goddess
with a halo in her background, her hand held out as if she is blessing the
“Like Guru Nanak and Jesus
Christ, she has been devoted to the cause of downtrodden. Considering this
fact, I depicted her as a Aboriginal Inhabitant of Jambudvipa; that is, the
Great Prabudha Bharath (Scheduled Caste) goddess,”
Tripathi, a resident of Siddharthnagar district, told IANS.
In another painting, the artist has
corelated Mayawati with Hindu goddess of
wealth Laxmi. In the painting, Mayawati is shown with tresses, standing atop a
lotus with two elephants near her feet.
“The painting projects Mayawati
as the goddess
of wealth, knowledge and peace. In the painting she (Mayawati) holds a
kamandal, which symbolizes that she leads a simple life,” said the artist.
Tripathi clarified that he has no
plans to join the politics.
“Many would think that I have
tried to appease Mayawati by depicting her in divine forms. I want to make it
clear that I have no intention to join politics. I made such paintings
as I got impressed by the chief minister, who rose to power after facing
hardships and several problems.”
In other paintings,
Tripathi has shown the trio of Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshiram
and Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar.
university after the mother of her blue-eyed party general secretary Satish
Chandra Misra, who has shot to fame as the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Brahmin
after Misra’s mother, late Shakuntala Misra, a homeopathic physician, the
university is described as the first of its kind in
to be devoted exclusively to the physically challenged.
Mayawati was earlier slated to
inaugurate the university, located on the outskirts of the city, at a formal
function. A special helipad had been set up to facilitate her landing. However,
the chief minister declared the university ‘open’ at a low-key function at her
official residence here instead.
Addressing the small gathering, which
included a handful of ministers and officials, Mayawati said her government had
taken several decisions with a view to providing better educational
opportunities for physically-challenged students at all levels, and these
decisions were implemented in record time.
She said: “While carrying out various
works for the betterment of the physically-challenged persons, it was felt that
there was no special institute for providing higher education to the disabled
children according to their requirements.”
The foundation of the
was laid on Oct 9, 2008 - the second death anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi
Spread across 175 acres, the
university has received financial allocation of Rs.397 crore in the first
phase. Fifty percent seats in various courses are reserved for
physically-challenged children. Of these, half the seats are reserved for
visually challenged people, for whom Satish Misra had already been undertaking certain
activities through his NGO.
During the current session of the
university, six courses were introduced, including B.Ed. and two diploma level
Separate departments related to four
types of disabilities have been set up. Courses recognised by the Indian
Rehabilitation Council would be conducted through these departments.
Emphasising that the state government
was sensitive towards the welfare of physically-challenged people, the chief
minister described the setting up of the university as a major step towards
making them self-reliant.
She said, “When I came to power for
the first time in 1995, my government set up a separate Disabled Welfare
Department, which was the first of its kind in the country. And during my
second stint in 1997, I decided to give three percent reservation to
physically-challenged persons in all government jobs. And when I became chief
minister for the third time in 2002, my government set up an intermediate
college for visually impaired students.”
She said now on coming to power for
the fourth time in May 2007, she enhanced the monthly pension of disabled
people from Rs.150 to Rs.300.
Received messg. Please read…
70, 00,000 Crore Rupees in Swiss Bank
Latest update after Swiss Bank has agreed to disclose the funds….
Our Indians’ Money - 70, 00,000 Crores Rupees In Swiss Bank
1) Yes, 70 lakhs crores rupees of India are lying in Switzerland
banks. This is the highest amount lying outside any country, from
amongst 180 countries of the world, as if India is the champion of
2) German Government has officially written to Indian Government that
they (German Government) are willing to inform the details of holders
of 70 lakh crore rupees in their Banks, if Indian Government officially
3) On 22-5-08, this news has already been published in The Times of
India and other Newspapers based on German Government’s official letter
to Indian Government.
4) But the Indian Government has not
sent any official enquiry to Germany for details of money which has
been sent outside India between 1947 to 2008.. The opposition party is
also equally not interested in doing so because most of the amount is
owned by politicians and it is every Indian’s money.
5) This money belongs to our country. From these funds we can repay
13 times of our country’s foreign debt. The interest alone can take
care of the Center’s yearly budget. People need not pay any taxes and
we can pay Rs. 1 lakh to each of 45 crore poor families.
6) Let us imagine, if Swiss Bank is holding Rs. 70 lakh crores,
then how much money is lying in other 69 Banks? How much they have
deprived the Indian people? Just think, if the Account holder dies, the
bank becomes the owner of the funds in his account.
7) Are these people totally ignorant about the philosophy of Karma?
What will this ill-gotten wealth do to them and their families when
they own/use such money, generated out of corruption and exploitation?
Indian people have read and have known about these facts. But the
helpless people have neither time nor inclination to do anything in the
matter. This is like “a new freedom struggle” and we will have to fight
9) This money is the result of our sweat and blood… The wealth
generated and earned after putting in lots of mental and physical
efforts by Indian people must be brought back to our country.
10) As a service to our motherland and you contribution to this struggle, please circulate at least 10 copies of this note amongst your friends and relatives and convert it into a mass movement.