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Famous American band produces groundbreaking album on Vedas and presents to Hindu leader Zed

The only Sanskrit rock band of the world, “Shanti Shanti”, has come up with a groundbreaking new album on the oldest scripture of the world Vedas, and they presented the first copy to the acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed in Nevada (USA) today.

This CD titled “Veda”, produced by Ganesha Publishing BMI, contains shlokas (hymns) from all four Vedas-Rig-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda, some as old as 1,500 BCE. With extensive research and selection process, it took one year to complete this CD, which is their sixth album.

“Shanti Shanti” consists of American sisters Andrea Devi Forman and Sara Anjuli Forman, their younger brother Micah Mahdev Forman and father Robert Henry Forman. The Formans have never been to India, never had a Sanskrit teacher, and still Andrea and Sara can spontaneously chant, read, write, and translate Sanskrit since they were nine and seven years old respectively.

Devoted Catholics, Andrea and Sara have also translated and chanted Ave Maria, a traditional Christian prayer, in Sanskrit. They have toured various countries and various states of USA giving packed Sanskrit musical performances. They have been in various television shows, mentioned in various publications, and extensively written about. 

“We fell in love with the overwhelming stillness, exuberance, clarity and amplified sensory awareness of Sanskrit poetry which we have attempted to share with you in this record,” Andrea and Sara stress.

Youth, specially of India and those living in foreign countries coming from India background, need to learn from the example of Forman sisters who have mastered ancient language Sanskrit (also known as “the language of the gods”) and are promoting it in a big way on their own inspiration, living in a non-Sanskrit environment and coming from a heritage with no Sanskrit background, Zed points out.

Andrea and Sara thanked Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, for blessings, encouragement and guidance, while presenting him with the first copy of the new album.

Details of the picture attached: Andrea (left) and Sara Forman (right), lead singers of Shanti Shanti rock band, presenting the first copy of their new album “Veda” to acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed (center) in Nevada (USA).

Picture by: Roger Bowen Weld


Featured Comment – H. H. Swami Ramakrishnananda on The Love Guru

Photo: B Balaji

Photo: B Balaji

Dear Respected Producers, Directors and Distributors of the The Love Guru:

Please accept my humble reverences. As the founder of the Ramakrishnananda Yoga Vedanta Mission and as a minister and preacher within the Sanatana Dharma religion, I wish to express my most vehement repudiation of your film The Love Guru.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to see the trailer for this movie and found that it offends the most intimate religious feelings of millions of Hindus in the United States and in the world. It is a clear expression of a colonialist mindset, complete with an unfounded superiority complex that considers religions to be true only if they are based on the Holy Bible, a practice that marginalizes religions such as the sacred Sanatana Dharma as a sect or cult. Portraying rabbis, priests and pastors as the only authentic religious leaders demeans the holy preachers of Hinduism. This movie is another offense against our religion, a clear expression of anti-Hinduism, which grow more common and acceptable in the media and on the internet.

I wish to express my denunciation of anti-Hindu attitudes wherever they may appear.

Your ever well wisher
H.H. Swami Ramakrishnananda

Founder of The Ramakrishnananda Yoga Vedanta Mission
headquarters 96 Ave. B, New York, USA

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Christians-Muslims-Hindus-Jews to pray together at Nevada hilltop at sunset to honor Gandhi

Peace by Cayusa / Bart

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October has been designated as “Gandhi Month” by a team of Nevadans in USA who want to celebrate his 139th birth-month to highlight his message regarding human and spiritual rights.

Lead by Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., bishop of International Community of Christ, and Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu leader, this team will culminate the “Gandhi Month” celebrations with prayers from major world faiths by religious leaders of Nevada on a 5,000 foot high hilltop at Red Rock Consecrated Sanctuary north of Reno at sunset on October 12.

At this unique first-of-its-kind celebration, the recitations at the sunset to honor the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi will include Christian prayers in English, Muslim prayers in Arabic, Hindu shlokas in Sanskrit, Buddhist prayers in Pali, Jewish prayers in Hebrew, a Baha’i prayer in Persian, and a Native American chant in the Sioux tradition. All attendees will do mass recitation of one of the Gandhi’s favorite songs, “Raghupati raghav rajaram,” on the occasion.

A ringing of bells ritual, with bells collected worldwide, will be held exactly at sunset during this ceremony in memory of Gandhi as a promoter of global peace. Representatives of different faiths will garland a picture of Gandhi, and tributes will be paid to him in an interfaith dance. According to Zed and Savoy, they would like to make “Gandhi Month” an annual feature in Nevada. The two are also pushing for Gandhi monument around the state capitol in Carson City and Gandhi statues in Las Vegas and Reno.

A Nevada-wide essay competition will be held in October on the topics of non-violence, peace, conflict resolution, etc., to promote Gandhi’s teachings.

“This special sunset service is being held in recognition that every member of human family, equally and without distinction, is invested in God with a spiritual nature. Gandhi acknowledged this and was a champion of religious freedom as a fundamental human right,” Reverend Savoy said.

“There is a renewed interest world over in Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas, who is universally venerated as one of the paramount moral, political, and social leaders of the recent history,” Rajan Zed adds.

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Unique Gandhi festival in America

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A unique first of its kind eco-friendly festival celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s life and message will be held in Nevada (USA) on Jul 26.

According to Tom Stille and Doug Keeney, coordinators of this Gandhi Fest; drummers, fire spinners, artists, healthy and organic food chefs, yoga teachers, DJs, and sustainable living advocates will join hands to celebrate peace, love, freedom, non-violence, self-power and conscious living as promoted by Gandhi.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Indo-American leader, will be the keynote speaker who will talk about Gandhi’s life, philosophy, and experiments, and answer questions of the participants during this festival.

To be held at River School Reno, this festival will continue till two am, and will include folk dancing, musical performances, sustainable goods displays, nature tours, fire spinning, kite flying, yoga shows, organic food demonstrations, etc. Each festival participant will artistically contribute to a “Gandhi collage”, to be created on the occasion. A competition will be held to make Gandhi sketches. Plans are being formed to make this Gandhi Fest an annual feature.

There is a renewed interest world over in Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas, who is universally venerated as one of the paramount moral, political, and social leaders of the recent history, Rajan Zed adds.

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Catholics to have serious dialogue with Hindus and others

Autumnal Faith

by paulbence photography (CCL)

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Catholics will have a serious dialogue with Hindus and other religions during the Annual Diocesan Conference of Reno (Nevada, USA) Catholic Diocese in January next.

According to Father Charles T. Durante, Pastor of Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church of Carson City, it will include dialogue among leaders of Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, and Jewish faiths besides Catholic. The Conference will be held on January ninth and tenth.

Invited religious figures include acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed, Reverend V. James Jeffrey, Rabbi Myra Soifer and Imam Abdul Rahim Barghouthi, besides Durante.

Catholic Diocese of Reno, established in 1931, covers 70,852 square miles spread in eleven Nevada counties in addition to Carson City. Before 1840, this area was under the Diocese of Sonora in Mexico, when it came under the jurisdiction of Bishop Moreno of California. Current Bishop is Most Reverend Randolph R. Calvo.

Rajan Zed has congratulated the Catholic Diocese efforts in reaching out to other religions for a dialogue. “Religion is a complex component of human life. Dialogue helps us to see interconnections and interdependencies between religions and even similarities in doctrines,” Zed adds.

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Demand of public apology by Paramount and Viacom gathering storm

             Hindu Leader Rajan Zed

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Calls for public apology by Paramount Pictures and its parent Viacom on issues surrounding “The Love Guru” movie, started by acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed, are gathering strength.

Now Nevada Clergy Association (NCA); which is composed of Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Bahai, Native American, etc., clergy; has joined others in asking for Paramount/Viacom apology.

In a statement issued in Nevada (USA) today, Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., NCA President, said, “We urge Paramount and Viacom to issue a general public apology over this issue, which will help heal the wounds of seemingly perturbed one-billion-strong Hindu community”.

Rev. Savoy, who is himself a well-respected Head Bishop of International Community of Christ, said in this statement, “We are dismayed at Paramount Pictures, presenter of this movie, for backtracking on their promise to protesting Hindu brothers-sisters, which we consider an unethical business practice. We are also appalled at Paramount and its parent Viacom for utter disregard of the protesters and making no efforts to have an open civilized dialogue with protesters and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, who have been stressing that this movie denigrates Hinduism and Hindu concepts.”

He congratulated Rajan Zed “for his successful campaign” against the Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” and thanked him for “effectively creating this debate and awakening the future filmmakers to be more sensitive to the feelings of devotees when dealing with faith related issues”.

Rev. Savoy further said, “We at NCA are for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at debasing it hurt the adherents. Hollywood should be more conscious while handling faith related subjects, as cinema is a very mighty medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences. We are concerned that today it is Hinduism; tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to mock another denomination/religion, which can be very painful to the faithful.”

Sometime back, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu religious leaders, in a joint signed statement, described Paramount’s backtracking on their promise to protesting Hindus as “un-Christian, un-Hindu, un-Buddhist, un-Jewish, etc., besides being unethical.”

Meanwhile, various other organizations, including Universal Society of Hinduism, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Hindu Alliance of India, Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha, Sanatan Sanstha, India Heritage Panel, have also demanded public apology from Paramount and Viacom.

Rajan Zed launched the protest movement against “The Love Guru” in March, saying that it appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously.


After watching, Hindu leader calls for worldwide boycott of “The Love Guru” by Hindus and other religious people

Hindu Leader Rajan Zed

Special to

Rajan Zed, prominent Hindu leader, has given a worldwide boycott call for Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” by Hindus and other religious people because it lampoons Hinduism and Hindu concepts and uses Hindu terms frivolously.

After seeing the film, which was released in USA and Canada today, Zed said that “The Love Guru” was even much more denigrating than they earlier perceived from the information gathered from trailers, website and other sources. Urging other people of faith (besides Hindus) also to boycott the movie, Zed said, “Today it is Hinduism, tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to denigrate another religion/denomination.”

The antics of Guru Pitka of “The Love Guru” are a mockery of the esteemed institution of guru, who is a highly revered spiritual teacher/master/preceptor in Hinduism and who helps remove the ignorance of the seeker and who leads one from darkness to light. The guru-sishya (teacher-disciple) relationship lies at the heart of traditional Hinduism. Guru is often allied with the divine. Guru bestows spiritual knowledge totally free from selfish objectives, Zed stressed.

On the other hand, guru in “The Love Guru” instigates a bar fight, repeatedly narrates penis jokes, mocks yoga (one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy), wears female jewelry, mocks the concept of third eye, makes disciples drink tea passed through his nose, orders alligator soup, induces elephant copulation in front of the crowd, introduces himself as “His Holiness”, lives in a lavish ashram staffed with scantily clad maids, and whose goal in life seems to appear on Oprah Winfrey show, Zed said.

When did Hindu gurus become available “for hire”? When and who started rating them? When did shishyas (disciples) started joining ashram for the sole purpose to make girls like them? Which Hindu ashram organizes fights of disciples with mops soaked in guru’s urine? Which guru urinates in the midst of disciples? Rajan Zed asked.

This is pure and blatant ridiculing and Paramount and its parent Viacom should immediately issue a general public apology for denigration of Hinduism and Hindu concepts, utter disregard of the protesters, backtracking on promise to pre-screen the movie for Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders, making no efforts to have an open civilized dialogue with protesters to arrive at an mutually acceptable solution, Zed said.

A prominent Jewish Rabbi, Elizabeth W. Beyer of Nevada, has already called for boycott of “The Love Guru” because it “…lampoons Hinduism, mocks Ashram life and Hindu philosophy…”

Hindus are for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Filmmakers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as cinema is a very powerful medium, Zed argued.

Of course a small movie, which will be forgotten in few months, would not destroy the great tradition of Hinduism which has been around longer than any other established religion and has faced lot of onslaughts and came out stronger. But Hinduism is often misunderstood and wrongly portrayed outside India. Movies like this bring more confusion and create stereotypes in the minds of audience, many of whom may not have had any other exposure to its tenets, Zed stressed.

Humor is a part and parcel of Hindu society and our folk festivals, plays, stories, etc., are full of parody, satire, mimicry, buffoonery, etc. We are strong enough to take jokes. But there are certain convictions in every tradition, which are venerable and not meant to be mocked at, Zed argued.

People associated with the film claim that it has nothing to do with Hinduism and portrays “completely made up system of teachings”. But terms such as guru, ashram, yoga, karma, etc., –all clearly point to Hinduism. Some people who have vested interest in the movie are unsuccessfully trying to defend this apparent mockery and in the process creating more confusion, Zed said.

The broader aim of worldwide boycott against this movie is to protect the interests of various minorities and ethnicities of the world and save them from future ridicule. Everyone is a minority in some place and in some sense in this world and deserves to be respected. As fellow humans, is it not everybody’s duty to stand for the rights of minorities and speak for them when attempts are made at ridiculing them? Somebody has to make sacrifices so that others can live honorably, Rajan Zed stressed.

He said that what would have been a small public relations exercise blew out of proportion because of stubbornness of Paramount or incompetence of their public relations team or something else in their minds that we do not know. Backtracking on the promise of pre-screening for Hindu leaders by Paramount was described by the diverse clergy as “un-Christian, un-Hindu, un-Buddhist, un-Jewish, etc., besides being unethical.”

Our doors are still open for Paramount/Viacom for dialogue, Zed said.

Rajan Zed further said that comedy should make everybody smile and should not come at the expense of ridiculing others’ faith and spreading misinformation. Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed at.

“The Love Guru” (88 minutes), a comedy starring Mike Myers (of Austin Powers fame), opened today nationwide and will be released in different parts of the world in the near future. Viacom’s family of brands includes MTV, Paramount, DreamWorks, etc. Paramount Pictures Corporation is a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.

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