Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Arvind Kejriwal wants to emulate Akshaya Patra in Delhi

Times Of India: BENGALURU: Away from the controversies his party was embroiled in and distant from polluted New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal not only detoxified his body during his 12-day stay in Bengaluru, but also found time for some introspection and planning.
The Delhi chief minister, on Monday said that the time in Bengaluru was of introspection and that he has been able to think and plan several things that will help serve people better.
In his second term in Delhi in quick succession, Kejriwal says that education system and public distribution system (PDS) needs some overhauling so as to help people.
"A lot of thought went into what should be done in the two areas and I've even made some proposals, announcements of which will be made soon," he said just hours before leaving for Delhi, on Monday.
Following a quiet visit to Iskcon Temple here along with his mother on Sunday, Kejriwal said: "I even visited the Akshaya Patra facility here, which runs the mid-day meal scheme at schools. And, contrary to reports that it is not executed in a hygienic way, I found the kitchen to be extremely clean."
"...I've also spoken to a lot of people associated with the programme and want to emulate this in Delhi," he said.
Thanking the doctors at the Jindal Nature cure Institute, where he was admitted on March 5, he said: "I am feeling better and my blood pressure is under control." He was admitted following a prolonged chronic cough problem and high blood pressure and hypertension issues. Education department sources in Delhi said that a plan to introduce the Akshaya Patra scheme in their schools was afoot a few years ago but did not see the light given the lack of consensus over pricing.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Women's Day Special: Supporting Women Through Food And Employment

Women working in akshaya patra
Today is Women’s Day and we have taken a moment to reflect on how we, at Akshaya Patra, work to support the young girls and women of India. Equal opportunity in employment or sustenance, regardless of gender, has always been a core value of Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme. The Foundation has worked to support women in three major ways.
  1. Feeding the girl child – In many parts of India, the girl child is still considered a burden on the household. While sons are encouraged to study (if income permits it), often the girls have to stay at home to help with household chores or look after their younger siblings. But with Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme parents gladly send their daughters to school too since it gives them one less mouth to feed for the day. Through this programme all children – both boys and girls – get the benefit of regular healthy food, and education too.
  2. Permanent employment – Akshaya Patra offers equal opportunities to both men and women in the kitchens. The Foundation employs nearly 800 women in the centralised kitchens across India, and over 1400 women in the decentralised kitchens run in Baran and Nayagarh. These decentralised kitchens are run by women Self-Help Groups in the region. The employment of women not only provides the women and their families with economic independence, it also boosts their self-esteem and local standing. They serve as role models to other young girls encouraging them to study hard and earn a good living.
  3. Support at Anganwadis – Akshaya Patra serves food to infants, pregnant women and lactating mothers at local Anganwadis. This is to ensure that at this time of their lives where adequate nutrition is vital, Akshaya Patra provides them with all the support they require.
This is our way of ensuring we celebrate women, not only on one day, but all year round. Help us give more education and employment to the young girls and ladies of India. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

US woman found battered and bruised in Vrindavan, alleges sexual assault by sadhu

Times Of India: VRINDAVAN: A US national from California, believed to be in her early 40s and found badly battered and bruised, has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by one of the sadhus in Vrindavan.

The woman, who was visiting Vrindavan for the Holi celebrations, had arrived in the city on February 26 and was living in a guest house, from where she had reportedly gone missing a day later. On Tuesday morning, she was found by the police with injury marks all over her body.

Officers probing the case said she was in an inebriated state when they met her and that on regaining consciousness she said that she had been sexually assaulted by a sadhu. A police complaint has been lodged and officials from the US embassy were in Vrindavan on Wednesday to take down details about the case.

Sources told TOI that the woman, a Krishna devotee, was found lying on the road in a state of shock with bruises all over her body. She later alleged that she had been kept captive by a "sadhu wearing a tulsi garland" who allegedly sexually assaulted her. Police officials escorted her to the Mathura district hospital on Tuesday evening, although her medical examination could be done only on Wednesday morning. Hospital sources said that she was in a state of extreme shock and looked "extremely frightened."

Police officials, meanwhile, said that there was little conclusive proof to confirm her accusations. "The medical tests conducted so far have not suggested sexual abuse. However, we have sent her to Agra for further tests," said Manjil Saini, SSP, Mathura. Another police official added that so far the woman has not identified anyone and is "very vague about the sequence of events."

The woman's story went viral on social media soon after her case came to light on Tuesday, with many commentators expressing doubt on the way the police was handling the investigations. Prominent city residents also expressed shock at the manner in which the foreign visitor was allegedly treated. Jagan Nath Poddar, convener of the NGO Friends of Vrindavan, said, "Vrindavan is now an international tourist destination but we neither have a tourist police nor women cops. To make matters worse, the policemen here don't know much English either as a result of which precious time is lost due to communication gap. This incident shows that there is an urgent need to improve policing to make the city safe for women."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sri Gaura Purnima Special: Scriptures that Reveal Lord Chaitanya’s Identity as Lord Krishna

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dancing
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the pioneer of the modern Hare Krishna movement, appeared in Mayapur, West Bengal over 500 years ago. He is Krishna Himself, who appeared to inaugurate the yuga-dharma – the Harinama Sankirtana (congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord). He never disclosed Himself as the incarnation of the Lord and exemplified the life of a perfect devotee, so that others can follow in His footsteps. However, this fact is corroborated in many authorized scriptures and also confirmed by great spiritual masters of our sampradaya. The descriptions of Lord Chaitanya in terms of His appearance, bodily features, characteristics and pastimes as found in the several works of His celebrated associates and great devotees completely conform to those predicted in the Vedic literatures. In this article we present certain important verses from some of the well-known Vedic literatures to substantiate the identity of Lord Chaitanya as the Supreme Lord Krishna.

(1) Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32)

krishna-varnam tvishakrishnam sangopangastra-parshadam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah
In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the holy name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions. 
krsna-varnam: This word denotes that Lord Chaitanya belongs to the category of Krishna or in other words He is Krishna Himself. krsna-varnam also means one who constantly chants the name of Lord Krishna.
tvisa akrsnam: His bodily complexion is not black. He appeared in golden-like yellow complexion.
sangopangastra-parsadam: Lord Chaitanya is always accompanied by His confidential associates like Lord Nityananda, Advaita Acharya, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Srivasa Acharya, Haridasa Thakura, etc. In other incarnations, the Lord sometimes made use of His weapons to defeat or kill the demons, but in this age the Lord subdues the demonic mentality with His all-attractive figure of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who freely distributes Krishna-prema, pure love of Krishna. That is His weapon.

(2)Vishnu-sahasra-nama stotra from Mahabharata

Each of the 1000 names contained in the Vishnu-sahasra-nama stotra that is found in the Mahabharata, glorifies one or more aspects of the Supreme Lord’s transcendental forms, qualities, pastimes etc.  

The following names indicate the bodily features of Lord Chaitanya.
suvarna-varno hemango varangas candanangadi
suvarna-varna: He has a golden complexion. hemanga: He has the appearance of molten gold. varanga: He is exquisitely beautiful. candanangadi: The Lord’s body is smeared with sandalwood pulp.
Lord Chaitanya’s qualities and activities are described in the following names.
sannyasa-krc chamah santo nistha-santi-parayanah
sannyasa-krt: He accepts the renounced order of life. (Lord Chaitanya accepted sannyasa at the age of 24.)
sama: He is fully sense-controlled or equipoised.
santa: He is completely peaceful.
nistha: He is rigidly fixed in the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna.
santi-parayana: He is the highest abode of devotion and peace. He silences the impersonalist philosophers. (Lord Chaitanya defeated many eminent mayavadis in philosophical debates and converted them to Vaishnavism.)
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Blanket
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Blanket

(3) Garuda Purana

The Supreme Lord says,
aham purno bhavisyami yuga-sandhyau visesatah
mayapure navadvipe bhavisyami saci-sutah
In the first part of Kali-yuga, I will appear in my complete spiritual form in Mayapura, Navadvipa and become the son of Shachi. 
Sri Chaitanya was born in Mayapura (a subsection of the holy town of Navadvipa, West Bengal) as the son of Srimati Shachi devi in the year 1486, about 4,500 years after the beginning of the Kali-yuga. 

It is also stated in this purana,
kaleh prathama-sandhyayam laksmi-kanto bhavisyati
daru-brahma-samipa-sthah sannyasi gaura-vigrahah
In the first part of Kali-yuga, the Supreme Lord in the golden complexion will become the husband of Lakshmi. Then He will become a sannyasi and reside near Lord Jagannatha.
Sri Chaitanya married His eternal consort Srimati Lakshmipriya and later took sannyasa at the age of 24. After the acceptance of sannyasa, He left Navadvipa and resided in Puri, the holy city of Lord Jagannatha in Orissa. Lord Jagannatha in Puri is also referred to as daru-brahma in the Puranas as the Deities here are made from Neem wood. The word daru means wood in Sanskrit. 

yo reme saha-ballavi ramayate vrndavane 'har-nisam
yah kamsam ni jaghana kaurava-rane yah pandavanam sakha
so 'yam vainava-danda-mandita-bhujah sannyasa-vesah svayam
nihsandeham upagatah ksiti-tale caitanya-rupah prabhuh
The Supreme Lord who took delight in His pastimes with the gopis, who filled the residents of Vrindavana with joy day and night, who slew Kamsa, and who made friends with the Pandavas in the battle between the Kauravas, will without any doubt, come again to the earth. He will be a sannyasi with the name Chaitanya whose arm will be decorated with a bamboo stick.
It is clear from this verse that Lord Krishna Himself appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. According to the custom, a sannyasi is supposed to carry a bamboo stick (danda). Lord Chaitanya carried a single bamboo stick as He was an eka-danda sannyasi.   

(4) Nrsimha Purana

satye daitya-kuladhi-nasa-samaye
simhordhva-martyakrtis
tretayam dasa-kandharam
paribhavan rameti namakrtih
gopalan paripalayan vraja-pure
bharam haran dvapare
gaurangah priya-kirtanah
kali-yuge caitanya-nama-prabhuh
The Supreme Lord who assumed the form of a half-man, half-lion in the Satya-yuga to cure a dreadful disease that had devastated the Daityas, and who appearing as Rama conquered the ten-headed Ravana in the Treta-yuga, and who removed the burden of the earth in the Dvapara-yuga and protected the cowherd men of Vraja-pura, will be the Lord by name Chaitanya in the Kali-yuga. He will have a golden form and He will take pleasure in chanting the Lord's holy names.

(5) Padma Purana

The Supreme Lord states: 
kaleh prathama-sandhyayam gaurangotham mahi-tale
bhagirathi-tate ramie bhavisyami saci-sutah
I shall take birth as the son of Shachi assuming a golden form in a beautiful place on the bank of the Bhagirathi (Ganges) on the earth in the first part of Kali-yuga.
Mayapura, the birth place of Sri Chaitanya is on the banks of the Ganges. There is a similar verse in the Brahma Purana predicting the appearance of Lord Chaitanya.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Foot Print
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Foot Print

(6) Narada Purana

The Supreme Personality of Godhead says,
aham eva kalau vipra nityam pracchanna-vigrahah
bhagavad-bhakta-rupena lokan raksami sarvada
O brahmana, I will deliver all the worlds, concealing myself in the form of a devotee of the Lord in Kali-yuga.
divija bhuvi jayadhvam jayadhvam bhakta-rupinah
kalau sankirtanarambhe bhavisyami saci-sutah
O demigods, please advent on the earth as devotees in Kali-yuga. To inaugurate sankirtana, I will incarnate as the son of Shachi.

(7) Bhavishya Purana

The Supreme Lord states:
anandasru-kala-roma-harsa-purnam tapo-dhana
sarve mama eva draksyanti kalau sannyasa-rupinam
O austere sage, everyone will see My transcendental form as a sannyasi in the age of Kali. I will be displaying symptoms like shedding tears of bliss and hairs standing on end out of ecstasy. 
Lord Chaitanya was always merged in the ocean of transcendental ecstasy while chanting the names of Krishna and dancing during sankirtana. He felt intense separation from the Lord and due to those devotional feelings displayed various ecstatic symptoms of pure love for Krishna, such as incessant tears, voice choking up, hairs on the body standing on end etc.     

(8) Vayu Purana

The Supreme Lord says,
paurnamasyam phalgunasya phalguni-rksa-yogatah
bhavisye gaura-rupena saci-garbhe purandarat
On the full moon day of the month of Phalguna, conjoined with the star Phalguni, I will appear in a golden form begotten by Purandara in the womb of Shachi.
Lord Chaitanya was born on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna. His father was known by the names Jagannatha Mishra and Purandara Mishra.
svarnadi-tiram asthaya navadvipe janasraye
tatra dvija-kulam prapto bhavisyami janalaye 
I will appear in a brahmana family in Navadvipa, by the shore of the Ganges.


bhakti-yoga-pradanaya lokasyanugrahaya ca
sannyasa-rupam asthaya krsna-caitanya-nama-dhrk 
In order to engage the people in devotional service and bestow mercy upon them, I will take sannyasa, accepting the name Krishna Chaitanya.

(9) Matsya Purana

The following statement is made by the Lord:
mundo gaurah su-dirghangas tri-srotas-tira-sambhavah
dayaluh kirtana-grahi bhavisyami kalau yuge
In the age of Kali, I will be golden colour. I will be tall and will have a shaven head. The place where I take birth will be a meeting point of three rivers. I will be very merciful and I will keenly engage in chanting the holy names.
Lord Chaitanya, being an eka-danda sannyasi had a completely shaven head as was the custom for such sannyasis. Three rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati (which is currently in her hidden form) – flow at Navadvipa.

(10) Skanda Purana

The Supreme Lord states
antah krsnah bahir gaurah sangopangastra-parsadah
saci-garbhe samapnuyam maya-manusa-karma-krt
Inwardly Krishna but outwardly of golden form, I will be accompanied by My associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions. Taking My birth in the womb of Shachi, I will accept the role of a human being. 
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Original Hand Writings
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Original Hand Writings

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rupees 51 crore ISKCON temple coming up in Patna

Times Of India: PATNA: International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is building Radha Banke Bihariji temple in the city at a cost of Rs 51 crore. The work on the temple has already been started and almost half of the amount has already been spent for the purpose.

This was revealed by Radha Mohan Das, who came from America, to attend a grand function organized at S K Memorial hall here on Saturday to chalk out a plan to celebrate golden jubilee function of ISKCON in 2016.

Addressing the conference, Das, the main speaker, urged every one to come together and help in the construction of the temple which will actually be an institution. "Patna is my birth place, and I am very much attached to it. I am here to share my spiritual worth, which I have earned through ISKCON. I still go to workplace wear dhoti and all my children are pure vegetarian. They do kirtan every day," he said. He also informed that ISKCON is building the largest Hindu temple at Mayapur, West Bengal, at an estimated cost of Rs500 crore. The initial Rs200 crore has been donated by Alfred Bush Ford, owner of Ford Motors, a vaishnavite and chairman of the new temple project.

Talking in detail about the Patna temple under construction, ISKCON secretary Krishna Kripa Das said the temple would be ready by November next year and will have 84 pillars like Lord Krishna's palace in Vrindavan. "It will cover the area of two acre to accommodate 2,500 people and an auditorium with the capacity of 1,500 people. It will have sixty rooms for worshippers. It will also have a hall where 'Prasad' to thousand people could be served at a time," he said.

He further said the ISKCON members would work to fulfil the dreams the society's founder Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "They would build temples, organize religious rituals and go on foot march to every corner of Bihar. Their aim is to inspire the youth and inform them about sanatan Vedic tradition and method to bring peace in society. They would also hold health camps and make gates, ghats and parks in the name of their founder," he said.

A large number of life members of ISKCON from Bihar and Jharkhand participated at the function on Saturday. Mishra Bandhu from Vrindavan performed 'kirtan' and 'Prasad' was served to all who were present.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Another ISKCON Food Relief Foundation Mishap, School head stops stale midday meal

Times Of India: GURGAON: A government school in-charge in Sector 31 refused to serve midday meal to students on Thursday, as it allegedly consisted of half-cooked chapattis and stale kadhi.

"I always eat the food first and then serve it to the children. Today, the food was so bad that I refused to serve it to the kids," said Sunita Sharma, school in-charge, Government Primary School.

This was not the first time when students were served uncooked and stale food. According to teachers, several complaints have been lodged in the past on the same issue. "Despite bringing it to the notice of the concerned agency, there has been no difference. Many children come to school just for the food. These are children of rickshaw-pullers, labourers and maids," said Vinod, a teacher.

Accepting the claim, Sharma told TOI, "Around two months ago, insects were found in the food served at the school. It was not served to the children, as teachers had inspected the food first."

A complaint has been lodged with a senior manager at ISKCON, the voluntary organization that supplies the food. "We accept the curry was not thick. But we always ensure that high quality certified ingredients are used to prepare the food. We will, make sure this is not repeated," said Dhananjay Krishna of ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (Haryana).

The voluntary organization supplies mid-day meals to over 600 government schools in the district, with due permission from the government.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ISKCON Bangalore Temple’s Tryst With IT

ISKCON Bangalore picture taken by Amith Nag ©
The Bangalore based Sri Radha Krishna Temple, one of the largest ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness ) temples in the world, is built on sprawling ground and has impressive Information Technology assets.
According to Ayyappa Dasika, Project Manager IT, at the Bangalore centre, the temple has a data center within it’s complex that hosts around 36 servers. Their storage requirement is met by a Unified storage box, a NAS box and a tape drive for archival and back up.
The network is spread over four acres of land and has about 1000 endpoints with 13 zones and 36 sub-zones. According to Dasika this is a Cisco network over fibre backbone. They also have about 400 computers at the complex, Dasika informs.
Like any IT environment, ISKCON’s Bangalore centre needed to be monitored for keeping track of network availability, responsiveness and performance. But for achieving this objective they did not have the right solutions and tools till about two years ago. The centre also needed an efficient service help desk solution to handle their IT service tickets.
Then there was the requirement for an effective patch manager who could help them manage the various software upgrades in a secure and efficient manner. ?fter evaluating various solutions available in the market, we shortlisted offerings from Sapphire and ManageEngine. Initially we decided to use trial versions of solutions from both these companies to make ourselves sure about what we were buying,Dasika says.

Drilling down the feature set

Finally the centre decided to use three solutions from ManageEngine DesktopCentral for Desktop and Mobile Device Management for the patch management; ServiceDesk Plus Enterprise Edition, a help desk software; OpManager for Server and Networking Monitoring.
Dasika says that as they were using Windows Severs 2012 edition and Windows machines, the systems needed to be updated. Initially they were able to take care of only Windows patch upgrades and not the other third party tools. So they decided to deploy DesktopCentral for Desktop & Mobile Device Management to deal with this challenge.
Sridhar Iyengar, Vice President – Product Management, ManageEngine, explains that Desktop Central is an integrated desktop and mobile device management software.
“It automates regular desktop management routines like installing patches, distributing software, managing IT assets, managing software licenses, monitoring software usage statistics, managing USB device usage and taking control of remote desktops, and more,he says. The centre, however, at present, is not using the solution for mobile devices.
He says that the solution has helped them set up right usage policies. For instance, they do not allow the users to download updates for third party tools on their own and also manage the users’ USB access points.

Benefits of the new system

In the past, the centre was using a traditional way of service reporting. A web-based self-service portal not only helps in effectively dealing with service requirements, it also helps by providing a complete picture of the problem and the status of the issue. All this in a single console.
Dasika points out that after using the ServiceDesk Plus solution, they realised that they had a bigger IT service team than they needed. They reduced the headcount of service engineers from five to three and at the same time they handled calls more effectively.
“Our service desk now has a greater clarity on call logs and there are no chances of a ticket being repeated or missed,he adds
To monitor and manage its network, server and virtual machines, the centre deployed the ManageEngine OpManager.
Due to synergy between the three solutions, Dasika, says the processes have become very smooth. In an event of any threat either on the network, server or desktop side, the OpManager is capable of raising alert and at the same time it logs in a service ticket at the help desk.
“I believe the decision to deploy ManageEngine has worked to our advantage. ManageEngine is more relevant to our needs and at least 40% more cost effective. The solutions do not require different database connectivity like MySQL,says Dasika

The way ahead

Content with the existing ManageEngine solutions, the temple has now started using the trial version of ManageEngine’s ADManager Plus, which is Windows Active Directory Management and Reporting Solution that helps AD Administrators and desk technicians with their daily activities.
“We are still trying the solution, so far, it is working well. I plan to deploy the solution in the next financial year,Dasika concluded.

Source: Financial Express (Express Computer)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Iskcon Vrindavan devotee held for assaulting kids

Times Of India: A devotee of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) temple in Vrindavan was arrested on Friday for allegedly assaulting children studying at the society-run Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and International school.

The devotee, Devanand Das Pandit alias Devashish, a son of Harishankar Das resident of Kishori Kunj in Chaitanya Vihar of Vrindavan, has been charged with assaulting children between 8  years and 12 years of age and has been book under Protection of Children against Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act. Mathura police said the accused used to lure children to his house by offering them toffees and then assaulted them. Pandit also took children on car rides and then abused them. He thrashed children when they resisted, police said.

The matter came to light after a boy complained to his parents. The parents then approached the school principal, who went to the police. 


An FIR under sections 323 (voluntarily causes hurt), 295 (Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) has been lodged against the man who is a regular visitor to the Iskcon temple.

The accused has also been charged with ¾ POCSO Act. The FIR has been lodged by Lokesh Kumar B, principal of the school. 

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