Many friends have asked me about my absence from social media (principally Facebook, Blog, Twitter) for some time. I had expected to return to it after my last post some time in January (after absence of more than two months) but somehow that did not happen.
I had assumed that all my contacts knew that I was visiting Bharat but apparently that is not the case. I have people telling me- “Oh, we didn’t know you were in Bharat. When did you come? When are you going back?” So I should let all know that I have been in Bharat since mid December and will be here till late April.
Unlike in the past, this time my travel is limited as the objective of this visit is different. This time my wife and I have decided to spend quality time with my mother who is 91 years old , in her own home. Here in Karnavati (i.e., Amdavad). As such she stays in USA with us brothers but obviously she loves to be here in the house where she has spent decades and has many sweet memories. Naturally, we couldn’t be traveling around leaving her alone at home, so our outings are limited to a few hours in and around Karnavati.
This is first time that we are spending extended time in Bharat and I had to learn a lot about how to get the house going- be it reconnection of phone line, gas line, finding a cooking lady, finding servant, getting Internet connection, doing all grocery shoppng, etc. It has been fun as well as a challenge.
In the new environment, I find that my attraction (or is it addiction?) to computer has lessened considerably. I do check my emails regularly and at times visit Facebook briefly but have not ventured to write blogs.
I am enjoying watching early morning stars, long morning walks (1.5 to 3 miles), sipping warm milk while reading Indian Express leisurely on the swing (Jhoola) in our compound , sweeping fallen leaves from trees, watching some TV, afternoon naps, sitting with my mother reminiscing of days gone by, reading whatever I fancy
(I am reading simultaneously Mahabharat’s Shanti Parva , Dilip Kumar’s autography and an engineering book) and doing a host of myriad other things, including finding a right contractor to repair our house.
It is strange that I have not remembered for a moment in this time my house in Edison, NJ where I have lived for 15 years.
There s a lot to write about and God willing I will have multiple blogs in near future.
These are the subjects floating in my mind:
- Township developed for followers of a particular Sampradaya
- Visit of villages with a doctor
- Jamnagar, and swachcha Bharat
- Rajkot, Visiting an Old Age Home
- Yeh Bambai Meri Jaan
- GIBV conference on Make in India
- Vibrant Gujarat?
- What a determined young lady could achieve- Innovative Quality Group (IQG)
- Inside the mind of a young volunteer engaged in village education
- Father Vallace, proud Gujarati, my professor of Calculus
- Observations on a morning walk- 1
- Observations on a morning walk- 2
- Obama and 26th January
- Kettle calling pot black
- Delhi Election
- Hindus at receiving end, again
- Million Rupees coat!
- Losing a loved one- de ja vu
- Slip between a cup and lips
There may be some additional ones. I do not know how many of these I will be able to write. Perhaps I will just make blogs using bullet points only.
In the mean time, naturally I would like to speak with and meet as many of my friends , contacts and relatives as possible. I could be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 98791-93725.
It is nice to get back in touch with you!
May 8, 2014 Dharana and Modiji at BJP election office in Varanasi
This was a memorable day. The day before District Magistrate (DM) had refused to give permission for Narendra Modi’s public meeting in Beniyabag, Varanasi, citing security concern (it is a different matter that two days later, same administration allowed Rahul Gandhi’s road show, though he has higher level of security!) Not one to take it lying down and known for turning every adversity in to an opportunity (starting with Maut Ka Sodagar epitaph in 2007 Gujarat election), Narendrabhai canceled all other programs (Ganga Aarati and a meet with intellectuals) except one rally in Rohaniya. This itself became a rallying point for Modi aficionados, who number in hundreds of thousands here in Varanasi. Modiji converted this into an opportunity to have an unannounced, unofficial roadshow- more about it later.
Also it was announced that Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and other leaders would sit on a Dharana in Lanka, a famous area in front of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) on 8th morning. Our team under leadership of Ramesh Shah (Houston) decided to halt campaigning and join Dharana to protest prejudiced and politically motivated decision of the EC. Our first stop was a busy road where we distributed NaMo for PM caps to people passing by. Then we proceeded to BHU campus. This is a huge campus with a big public hospital. Pandit Madanmohan Malaviyaji’s statue graces the gates of the campus. We reached there just before 10:00 AM. BJP leaders were expected at 11:00. There was a big crowd chanting slogans against the election commission and the DM. Trucks with satellite dishes were parked on both sides of the road. All major channels- Aaj Tak, India Times, NDTV, ETV, TV9, etc. were present as were a number of smaller and local channels. Umpteen reporters holding microphone in had with cameraman in tow were working the crowd to get sound bytes. Burkha Dutt, Rahul Kanwal and Anurag Kashyap were moving around. I saw and heard Anurag Kashyap spewing his anti-BJP, anti-Modi venom as his cameraman was recording him. He looked like an angry, frustrated man. A vein on his neck was literally throbbing and I though the guy was going to have a coronary. I had vicarious pleasure knowing that these scoundrels’ days were numbered now. Within an hour crowd was of unmanageable proportion. Police had not stopped or diverted traffic because Dharana is a public right and does not require police permission. Since no permission is sought, there is no legal need to stop the traffic. Hapless people on two wheelers and in cars were struggling to pass through human sea. Air was charged with Modi, Modi chants. Some local leaders were already sitting in the middle of the road for Dharana. Heat was so intense that it felt someone had put hot wires around our bodies. We were constantly downing cold water bottles but that gave only temporary respite. W waited till 12:30 Pm but Jaitleyji and company had not arrived yet. We decided that we were better off going to BJP election office and help with office work there. This we spent two and a half hour in the frenzied environment.
We had come to know that Modiji was going to come to the election office to do Ganga Pujan straight from his meeting at Rohaniya. I went to a cybercafé to get some work done as there was no Internet/Wi-Fi at the guesthouse where we had stayed (across from BJP election office in Rathyatra in Sigra area.) When I reached the BJP office gates at 5:30 PM, it was a virtual fortress, surrounded by CRP, RAF, police, etc. No one without an approved pass was allowed inside. They had issued passes to local workers, which was quite understandable. Inside also there were people in the compound who were not allowed to go inside the building. There were people in the building on upper floors who were not allowed to come down. Our friend, Ramesh Shah, who was helping with the office work was inside but rest of us were outside. I attempted to reason with the senior volunteer outside and after some persuasion, he allowed me to go inside the compound making it clear that I would not be able to go further, which was OK by me. With me was Meena Shah, a volunteer from Houston and Dr. Anjila Gupta, a professor from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi who had taken one month off to work on campaign in Varanasi. All three of us joined 60 or so people in the large compound. It was a hot day and all we had was water at normal temperature. We kept standing, sometimes finding a stoop to sit on. Modiji was expected around 6:00 PM. But wait was without an end. I did feel drawn out because morning Dharana and now standing on feet in the depressing heat had taken its toll but there was no question of backing out now. There were people in balconies of the building. The office is on the ground floor and this brand new building has 10 floors. We saw Laxmikant Bajpayee, president of BJP-UP, sitting outside. We also saw former CM, Kalyan Singh’s son and many other dignitaries. Modiji had arrived in Lanka (BHU) from Rohaniya by helicopter and from there he was coming in an SUV. He couldn’t stand in the vehicle as it would be against election law (that would be considered an official road show and would need permission, so he was greeting people on the side of the roads with folded hands. Crowd was so intense on his route that it took him five hours to cover a distant of 4 KM (2.5 miles)! Finally his car entered the gates at 9:30 PM. I had waited exactly four hours to have a glimpse of him.
As soon as he alighted from the flower bedecked SUV, security threw a cordon around him yet the crowed jostled to be near him. People almost broke the cordon and Modiji had hard time to walk barely 50 steps to heavily guarded front doors. I snapped some photos with iPad but it was impossible to get a clear shot. All you could hear was Modi, Modi, Modi and nothing else. He was hardly inside for 10 minutes where he performed Puja of Gangaji water that was specially brought there; Pandit Chhannuram, who had accompanied when he filed his nomination officiated for the Puja. Anjilabahen asked me if she could get one of the flower “malas” from Modiji’s vehicle. I was not too sure but asked one of the commandos. He OK’ed it so I picked up one mala from the bonnet of SUV and gave it to Anjinibahen, keeping one flower for myself. Such is the craze and Bhakti for Modiji, cutting against all barriers of age, position, social status, etc.
Very soon Modiji came out; this time the security was better prepared and whisked him into his car and sped off in no time. Within moments it was all over.
Modiji turned the rejection by the DM into an opportunity to attract more people than what a public meeting would have achieved. No wonder, all dirty tricks of Congress have failed.
This was an exciting, thrilling and exhausting day for all of us.
“The one God wears many masks. In no other religion does the Supreme Being wear so many masks and invite worship in so many different forms as the eternal religion of Hinduism. Mythologist Joseph Campbell.
“The Mandirs have to play a significant role in the growth of the Hindu community in terms of its capacity to uphold Hindu Dharma…” Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) and Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi (HDPS) have been started in 2006 with a mission to preserve, practice, propagate and protect Hindu Temples and Sanatana Dharma; and also to take necessary legal and appropriate action to remove all the Hindu Temples from the government control. As many of you are aware that all the Hindu temples earning Rupees 50,000 or more are taken over by the state governments in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In the North all major Temples such as Shiridi Saibaba Temple, Siddhi Vinayaka Temple, Jagannath Temple, Amarnath Temple, Kashi Vishwnath Temple, Vaishno Devi Temple and other money making temples are taken over the respective state governments. They are depleting the resources, selling the temple lands, allowing the temple lands encroached, allotting temple lands for government projects, appropriating huge sums of money for Christians and Muslims, neglecting the maintenance of the Temples, allowing the temples to be dilapidated, closing down thousands and thousand of temples, appointing non-Hindus to the positions in the sacred temples, abusing the devotees who visit these temples, totally ignoring the religious leaders’ input in the management of the Temples, failing to provide adequate facilities for visiting Hind pilgrims to the Temples, diverting funds for private trusts, allowing secular anti-Hindu politicians to inaugurate the facilities at these temples, imposing extra charges on Hindu pilgrims to visit the temples and diverting temple funds to the state treasury at will.
By controlling and siphoning of the Temple resources, the state governments have managed to legalize the rampant corruption. Even within this legalized corruption, different layers of illegal corruption exist in these temples.
Please remember that no Christian Churches or Moslem mosques are under government control. In fact state governments and central government donate huge sums of money for mosques and churches, spend as much as 700 crores of rupees as a subsidy for Moslems to undertake Hajj pilgrimage in 2010, built air conditioned Hajj houses in every state, built separate airport terminals for Hajj pilgrims, and the list goes on. In contrast, not only Hindu pilgrims pay extra charges to visit the temples, they “sleep like beasts” on the side walks to visit their sacred places.
Sri Kamal Kumar Swami conducted two padayatras in Andhra Pradesh covering all the districts in the state to make Hindus aware of their right to manage their temples, and informing them about the government control of the temples, neglect of the temples, rampant corruption in the Temples, and the need for repeal of the Endowment Act. During these padayatras, Sri Swami also talked about the Hindus responsibility to their religion and urging them to go to their village temples on a regular basis along with their family members, regularly conduct bhajans in the temples, celebrate all the festivals, and participate in the maintenance of the temple.
During these travels to thousands of villages, a number of people expressed their interest in having a Templein their own neighborhood so that they can continue to practice their religion, uphold the dharmic way of life, and take the responsibility of managing their temples. They requested our organizations to help build small temples for the convenience of the people. It is during that time the concept of “ONE VILLAGE, ONE TEMPLE, ONE LAKH RUPEES (Rs. 100,000)” was conceived. Since that one Sthapathi was requested to develop the blue prints and sketch of the actual Temple image. Villagers will provide the seva (labor) to build these Temples. In many Dali communities and tribal areas, missionaries are taking advantage of their situation, exploiting them and enticing them. Many of them resist these enticing hooks and want to remain within their traditional faith. But they want to have their own place of worship so that they can feel identified, feel proud, and practice their age-old faith.
Model Village Temple: Architecture and Floor plans
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) and Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi (HDPS) jointly sought the help of Sri Suresh Singh, who is a Diploma holder from TTD Shilpa Kalasala, Tirupati, to draw model Temple plan for villages. His CAD drawings are available on request.
The first project is sponsored by GHHF and HDPS. Anantarayudu Enni, a remote village in Nellore District, was selected to start the initial Project of constructing a Temple. In this remote village about one hundred families belonging to Scheduled Tribe are very religious and worship their Village Deity called Chentamma. Bhumi Pooja (Ground Breaking Ceremony) was conducted and the construction of the Temple has already been started. TTD was requested to donate the Goddess Chentamma to the village.
REQUEST: Sponsor One Hindu Temple for ONE Lakh (Rs. 100,000)
All concerned Hindus are requested to sponsor one Temple in your village or any other village so that we can provide the place of worship for people who are eager, waiting and hoping to practice their faith.
We should give the opportunity for these people to take their children, have darshan of the presiding Deity / Murthi, pray at their time, identify with their gods and goddesses, and make them feel proud of being a Hindu.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT:
Call V. V. Prakasa Rao at 601-918-7111 about this Project to have a Temple in your village.
We need your assistance to continue our mission of abolishing Endowment Act and free Temples from the government control. If we have to make an impact on our movement to bring changes to preserve our culture, we need you financial support. Your generous donations to continue our efforts to free Hindu Temples from government control, and also build Village Temples to awaken the Hindus about the plight of Hindu Temples and the impending danger of illegal conversion techniques are essential. We are requesting all the individuals and organizations to support financially to continue our movement to free Hindu Temples from the government control and stop these conversions also provide needed place of worship for the Villagers.
NOTE: GHHF is exempt from federal income tax in USA under section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue code. Our tax ID # 41-2258630. Please send your tax-deductible donations to:
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation
14726 Harmony Lane, Frisco, Texas 75035
You can go to savetemples.org and pay by PAYPAL
For more information, please visit our website: http://savetemples.org
V. V. Prakasa Rao, PhD, (601-918-7111 cell), (601-856-4783 home); Prasad Yalamanchi (630-832-2665;630-359-5041), D. Satya (732-939-2060): Vinay (248-842-6964): Dr. K. R. Venkatramaiah (Canada) (416-925-8167). Nemana Satya (732-762-7104), Sekhar Reddy (954-895-1947), Tulasichand Tummala (408-786-8357), Raju Polavaram (919-959-6141); Pavan Neti (630-338-9364); Srinivas Murthy (212-538-8716)