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A daily news summary for news media, educators, researchers, writers,
religious leaders worldwide courtesy of Hinduism Today editorial staff
Today's Stories
1. Prime Minister Says Nepal To Become a Secular State
2. BAPS Swaminarayan Organization Proposes Huge Complex for New Jersey
3. Amarnath Yatra To Commence June 11
4. Dolphins Can Communicate With Each Other

1. Prime Minister Says Nepal To Become a Secular State

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, May 15, 2006: Nepal's prime minister announced
Monday that the government would change from a Hindu kingdom to a
secular state, with equal rights for all. Prime Minister Girija
Prasad Koirala said Monday that the declaration, to be proclaimed by
the House of Representatives later, would protect the rights of the
nation's indigenous people and minorities. Hundreds of indigenous
people were protesting in front of the prime minister's home to
demand a secular state, the Himalayan Times reported. The prime
minister made his comments in response to their demands. The
declaration drafted by the House was scheduled to be announced
Monday, but was postponed as the seven-party alliance failed to come
up with a final draft. Limiting the powers of the king, changing the
name of the country and placing the army under the control of the
parliament were other issues expected to be included in the final

2. BAPS Swaminarayan Organization Proposes Huge Complex for New Jersey

EAST WINDSOR, NEW JERSEY, USA, May 12, 2006: A proposed US$142
million spiritual and commercial complex planned by a Hindu sect on
152 undeveloped acres near the New Jersey Turnpike will get a public
airing later this month. The complex, in development for more than
two years, could prove a powerful draw for central New Jersey's
Indian population if plans suggested by the B.A.P.S. sect --
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha -- are well
received during the public meeting May 25. Preliminary plans call for
a house of worship, assembly hall, shopping center, food court,
restaurant, library, research facility and monument as well as
centers for conferences and exhibitions, youth, yoga and
meditation. "This is the first proposal of its kind in New Jersey,"
said Anthony "Skip" Cimino of the Manalapan-based Schoor DePalma
Engineering, a firm hired by B.A.P.
S. "The organization has deep roots in India and wants to be a good
community citizen," said Cimino, who is a former Hamilton school
board member, Mercer County freeholder, state assemblyman and state
personnel director. Before plans for the complex on land near
Turnpike Exit 8 are submitted to the township government, the
B.A.P.S. sect wants township residents to ask questions, express
concerns and learn what the project will involve. According to the
proposal, the complex would be open to the public, and more than half
its land would be preserved as open space. At the May 25
presentation, representatives of the Indian socio-spiritual
organization, with 1 million members worldwide, will detail what is
proposed for the farmland tract west of Milford Road along the
Turnpike and the Rocky Brook.
Access would be from Milford Road. B.A.P.S. bought the land two
years ago and now leases it to farmers. Last year, the group
approached the township with its intentions, and Mayor Janice S.
Mironov suggested a public presentation before plans are
offered. "They approached the township with some informal
discussions," Mironov said. "At this point, they haven't even
finalized enough of a concept to make a public presentation."

Mironov said the complex would be "much more than a house of worship"
but the buildings would cover "only 20 of the 152 acres." Currently
zoned industrial, the project would require a zoning change. The
Conair Corp. is to the south of the property, which is at the edge of
the township's business park. "We have a significant presence of
Indians and Asians in the township," Mironov said.

"This is a large project in its very initial stages," Cimino
said. "We agree with the mayor that it's important to receive public
input regarding our concept from the initial stages." He said the
site near the Turnpike makes for easy access without disrupting the
community. Cimino said it was "too premature" to "roll out a time
line" on the project. He said representatives of B.A.P.S. and lawyers
Mark Citron and Henry Kent Smith will "detail the benefits to the
community." The proposed cultural center campus would include
landscaped areas with ponds, fountain and gardens, with various
facilities available for public use.

An announcement by BAPS,
June 6, 2004, mentions the project: "Continuing the legacy of
Akshardham monuments of Gandhinagar and New Delhi, Pramukh Swami
Maharaj had done a divine sankalp seven years ago in 1997 to build an
Akshardham monument and cultural complex in New Jersey. Just
recently, land was purchased for this very purpose, and the
traditional Hindu rite of Bhoomi Poojan took place on Sunday, June 6,
Devotees gathered early in the morning on this auspicious occasion
at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center. Although devotees
were unable to go physically to the future site to perform the
poojan, a bit of land from the site was given to everyone to perform
all the rites. In addition to the poojan of the land, a traditional
mahapooja was conducted by saints as well. Senior saints spoke about
the importance of such a complex, and Swamishri mentioned in his
blessings that such a complex would be open to all, and lead to
preserve our cultural values."

3. Amarnath Yatra To Commence June 11

JAMMU, INDIA, May 13, 2006: The annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan
cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir will start from the Baltal
and Pahalgham routes simultaneously on June 11 subject to clearance
of tracks and weather conditions. Hot water supply, 40 insulated pre-
fabricated huts at Panjtarni and Sheshnag in addition to 329 toilets
at Sheshnag and 167 at Panjtarni, traditional halting stations en
route to the cave shrine situated at an altitude of 3880 metres are
some arrangements for the pilgrims being given final touches. Jammu
and Kashmir Governor S K Sinha, who is Chairman of Amarnathji Shrine
Board, announced the date of the yatra while addressing a meeting at
Pahalgam on Friday to take stock of the arrangements. He appreciated
the measures for setting up eco-friendly pre-fab portable toilets
with leach pits instead of deep trench latrines.
He asked the Anantnag district administration to ban use of
polyethylene on the entire track and base camps and prevent effluents
from toilets or 'langars' (community kitchens) from being dumped into
the Lider river. The Governor also stressed on coordinated efforts
between agencies and the shrine board for an incident-free yatra like
in the past three years. Terming Amarnath yatra as a symbol
of "Kashmir's composite culture," he said it would be incomplete
without the active support of the local people and both pilgrim and
traditional tourism had proved a boon to the state's economy.

4. Dolphins Can Communicate With Each Other

BRITAIN, May 7, 2006: The results of a study by Vincent Janik of Sea
Mammal Research Unit at St. Andrews University has proven that
dolphins actually communicate with each other. Data for Janik's work
was based on observations done with a group of bottlenose dolphins in
Sarasota Bay, Florida over a period of 30 years. The news release
explains, "They have made extensive recordings of the noises made by
individual dolphins and isolated the sounds thought to be
their 'signature whistles' or names. In the study some of the
Sarasota Bay animals were corralled in a net.
The researchers then played synthetic versions of the signature
whistles of other dolphins through underwater loudspeakers to see if
they would evoke a response in the captive animals. The use of
synthetic whistles ruled out the possibility that the animals might
simply be recognizing the sound of each other's voices. They found
that dolphins responded strongly to the whistles of their relatives
and associates while generally ignoring those of dolphins to whom
they had no link." Janik says, "Bottlenose dolphins are the only
animals other than humans to have been shown to transmit identity
information independent of the caller's voice."

Denise Herzing, research director at the Wild Dolphin Project at
Florida Atlantic University, said, "It was already clear that many of
the 77 known cetacean (whale and dolphin) species had rudimentary
languages. We know that dolphins' brains are nearly as large and
complex, relative to body size, as those of humans. They have evolved
to be intelligent and that implies being able to communicate."

The article mentions that other research has found parrots, crows and
primates to have highly developed language skills. For example,
chimpanzees at Georgia State University have been taught to
communicate in English using computer keyboards and Prairie Dogs have
been found to share a language of 100 words. Donald Broom, professor
of animal welfare at Cambridge University, sums it up, "Species
living in large groups all have advanced communication skills. They
have a complex social structure where they have to live with others,
negotiate friendships and find mates. If dolphins are using names, I
expect we will find the same in other species with similar

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It is easy to play with a cobra. It is easy to walk over the fire. It
is easy to uproot the Himalayas. But it is difficult to eradicate
lust. Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj, founder of the Divine Life
Society in India

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