Profile: Lobsang Sangay, elected head of Tibet Government in Exile

Lobsang Sangay(42), international law expert, has been elected as the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile on Wednesday, 27th April 2011.

Lobsang Sangay was born at Lamhatta in a Tibetan refugee settlement in the eastern Indian hill town of Darjeeling. His parents had fled Tibet in 1959, following the Dalai Lama as the Chinese clamped down on an uprising against their occupation. He went to the Central School for Tibetans in nearby Sonada. He had a humble beginning and he lugged wood to light kitchen fire at home as a youngster. He had a spartan childhood, and has often in interviews mentioned his enduring debt towards a cow that was sold to fund his education.

Lobsang Sangay greets a woman on the street during his election campaign in Dharamsala

He did his Plus Two at St Joseph’s College (North Point) in Darjeeling before graduating from Delhi University, where he also completed his LL.B, and moving to the US. There, he won the Fulbright Fellowship and earned his LL.M and doctorate from the Harvard Law School. In April 2008, he testified as an expert before the US Senate Foreign Relations Sub- committee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

He was associated with Tibetan Youth Congress. Participated in pro Tibetan movements . He spent few days in Tihar jail in the late 1990s after being picked up during a Chinese government demonstration while he was a student in Delhi. China dubbed him as a terrorist for his views and associations for the Tibet cause. He was also involved in Track II talks with Chinese scholars.

He has never visited his ancestral homeland, but he dreams of freedom in Tibet. He regards India a second home. Lobsang Sangay despises the Dalai Lama’s middle way, and calls for self determination, a term often used by young radicals pressing for Tibet independence.

Sathya Sai Baba – Obituary

Hindu Spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba (85years) passed away on  Sunday, 24th April 2011 at 7.40 am.  Sathya Sai Baba born as Sathyanarayana Raju, on 23 November 1926, is described by his devotees as an Avatar, Godman, Spiritual teacher and Social Reformer. Sathya Sai Baba has claimed to be the reincarnation of the great spiritual guru, Sai Baba of Shirdi. He also has proclaimed that He will reincarnate in Karnataka as Prem Sai in the future.

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba established many organizations supporting a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in India and abroad. More than 6 million devotees follow him in about 178 countries. There are an estimated 1,200 Sathya Sai Baba Centers in 114 countries worldwide. A cultural icon in his home country, Sai Baba has attracted presidents and prime ministers from India and beyond who have become his devotees. He was also known as a singer, having released several CDs of bhajans (devotional songs).

Sathyanarayana Raju was born to Eswaramma and Peddavenkama Raju Ratnakaram in the village of Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India. His birth, which his mother Eswaramma asserted was by miraculous conception, was also said to be heralded by miracles. As a child, he was unusually intelligent and charitable. He was exceptionally talented in drama, music, dance and writing, and was an avid composer of poems and plays. He was said to be capable of materialising objects such as food and sweets out of thin air. On 8 March 1940, while living with his elder brother Seshama Raju in Uravakonda, Sathya was apparently stung by a scorpion.He lost consciousness for several hours. Within the next few days there was a noticeable change in Sathya’s behavior. There were symptoms of laughing and weeping, eloquence and silence. He began to sing Sanskrit verses, a language of which he had no prior knowledge.

On 23 May 1940, Sathya announced calmly and firmly “I am Sai Baba,” a reference to Sai Baba of Shirdi. He proclaimed himself to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi—a saint who became famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Maharashtra, and who had died eight years before Sathya was born. Later that year, Sathya Sai Baba declared that he had no worldly relationship with anyone and around this time, devotees began to gather to him. In 1940, Sathya Sai Baba began to travel to Madras and elsewhere in South India and soon had a large regional following.

In 1944, a mandir (temple) for Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees was built near the village. It is now referred to as the old mandir. The construction of Prashanthi Nilayam, the current ashram, began in 1948 and after 2 years, was completed in 1950. In 1954, Sathya Sai Baba established a small free General Hospital in the village of Puttaparthi. In 1963, Sathya Sai Baba suffered a stroke and four severe heart attacks. It is believed by some that he healed himself of these, and on recovering announced that he would be reborn as Prema Sai Baba in the state of Karnataka. He stated, “I am Siva-Sakthi, born in the gothra (lineage) of Bharadwaja, according to a boon won by that sage from Siva and Sakthi. Siva was born in the gothra of that sage as Sai Baba of Shirdi; Siva and Sakthi have incarnated as Myself in his gothra now; Sakthi alone will incarnate as the third Sai (Prema Sai Baba) in the same gothra in Mysore State.”

In 1968, he established Dharmakshetra or Sathyam Mandir in Mumbai. In 1973, he established Shivam Mandir in Hyderabad. On 19 January 1981, in Chennai he inaugurated the Sundaram Mandir. Sathya Sai Baba’s assertion of divine status is expressed in the first person; he states it boldly and repeatedly. “I am beyond the reach of the most intensive enquiry and the most meticulous measurement. Only those who have recognized my love and experienced that love can assert that they have glimpsed my reality. Do not attempt to know me through the external eyes.”

Sathya Sai Baba supported a variety of free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in over 166 countries. Sri Sathya Sai University in Prashanthi Nilayam has received an “A++” rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission). Sri Sathya Sai University for which Baba was the Chancellor, has three campuses, one at Puttaparthi for men, one at Whitefield, Bangalore for men and one at Anantapur for women. His charity supports an institute for Indian Classical Music called the Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music. Baba’s educational institutions aim to impart Character Education along with Excellence in academics with emphasis on Human Values and Ethics.

Sathya Sai Baba chaired the Muddenahalli-Sathya Sai Loka Seva School and Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Trust Educational Institutions in Muddenahalli-Kanivenarayanapura regions. In addition, a Sathya Sai Baba University and Medical School as well as a world class Hospital and Research Institute are being constructed on over 200 acres (0.81 km2) to serve the destitute population. Baba has said that the campus will be modeled after Puttaparthi and will infuse spirituality with academics.

Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital, Whitefield (suburb of Bangalore), Karnataka, IndiaThe Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi is a 220 bed facility that provides free surgical and medical care and was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao on 22 November 1991.The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Bangalore is a 333 bed hospital meant to benefit the poor. The hospital was inaugurated on 19 January 2001 by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.The hospital has provided free medical care to over 250,000 patients. The Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital was opened in Whitefield, Bangalore, in 1977 and provides complex surgeries, food and medicines free of cost. The hospital has treated over 2 million patients. In April 1999 he inaugurated the Ananda Nilayam Mandir in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust runs several general hospitals, two specialty hospitals, eye hospitals and mobile dispensaries and conducts medical camps in rural and slum areas in India. The Trust has also funded several major drinking water projects. One project completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Rayalaseema region of Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. The second drinking water project, completed in 2004, supplies water to Chennai through a rebuilt waterway named “Sathya Sai Ganga Canal”. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi praised the Chennai water project and Sai Baba’s involvement. Other completed water projects include the Medak District Project benefiting 450,000 people in 179 villages and the Mahbubnagar District Project benefitting 350,000 people in 141 villages. In January 2007, the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust said it would start a drinking water project in Latur, Maharashtra. In 2008, 2 million people in the state of Orissa, India were effected due to floods. As a after relief measure, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, has built 699 houses as a part of their first phase in 16 villages by March 2009.

Sathya Sai Baba’s Educare program seeks to found schools throughout the world with the goal of educating children in the five human values. According to the Sai Educare site, schools have been founded in 33 countries, including Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Peru. The Times of Zambia states, “The positive influence of Sathya Sai is unprecedented in the annals of education in Zambia. Sai Baba’s education ideals as embodied in his human values-based approach in education are an eye opener to educationists in Zambia.” In Canada, the Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, ranked the Sathya Sai School of Canada as one of the top 37 elementary schools in Ontario. The Sathya Sai School scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in the Institute’s overall rating for academic performance. Internationally, Sathya Sai Baba devotees gather daily or weekly on Sundays (and/or Thursdays) for group devotional singing (bhajans), prayer, spiritual meditation, service to the community (Seva), and to participate in “Education in Human Values” (SSEHV) known as “Bal Vikas” (meaning Blossoming of the Child), that can also be described as Sai Sunday School.

On 23 November 1999, the Department of Posts, Government of India, released a postage stamp and a postal cover in recognition of the service rendered by Sathya Sai Baba in addressing the problem of providing safe drinking water to the rural masses. On 23 November 2001, the digital radio network Radio Sai Global Harmony was launched through the World Space Organization, United States. Dr Michael Oleinikof Nobel (distant relative to Alfred Nobel and one of the patrons for the radio network) said that the radio network would spread Sathya Sai Baba’s message of global harmony and peace. In January 2007, an event was held in Chennai Nehru stadium organised by the Chennai Citizens Conclave to thank Sathya Sai Baba for the 200 crore water project which brought water from the River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai city. Four chief ministers attended the function.

Sathya Sai Baba has said that “My objective is the establishment of sanatana dharma”. In a 2000 public discourse, Sathya Sai Baba said, “These teachings (the Vedas) are highly sacred. Today people are ready to believe all that they see on television and internet but do not repose their faith in the Vedic declarations. Internet is like a waste paper basket. Follow the ‘innernet,’ not the internet.” High ranking Indian politicians, like the former President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Andhra Pradesh former Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah and Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa have been official guests at the ashram in Puttaparthi. On Sathya Sai Baba’s 80th birthday celebration, it was reported that well over a million people attended, including 13,000 delegates from India and 180 other countries.

A primary aspect of Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings is the spiritual benefit of darshan for his disciples. At that time, Sai Baba may interact with people, accept letters, materialize and distribute vibhuti (sacred ash) or call groups or individuals for interviews. Devotees consider it a great privilege to have an interview and sometimes a single person, group or family will be invited for a private interview. Devotees say they have observed Sathya Sai Baba manifesting vibuthi (holy ash), and sometimes food and “small objects” such as rings, necklaces and watches. In some books, magazines, filmed interviews and articles, Sathya Sai Baba’s followers report miracles of various kinds that they attribute to him. The first ever record of Baba’s miracles by a foreigner was made by Howard Murphet in his book, Sai Baba – Man Of Miracles. Devotees have said that objects have appeared spontaneously in connection with pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees believe that he relieves his devotees by transferring their pain to himself. Internationally, devotees report that vibuthi, kumkum, turmeric powder, holy water, Shiva lingams, statues of deities (brass and gold), sugar candy, fruits, herbs, amrita (a fragrant, nectar-like honey), gems, colored string, writings in ash and various other substances spontaneously manifest and materialize on the walls, furniture, pictures and altars of Sathya Sai Baba.

Sathya Sai Baba has explained the phenomenon of manifestation as being an act of divine creation. In a 1974 discourse, he stated, “The optical sense cannot visualize the truth. It gives only false and fogged information. For example, there are many who observe my actions and start declaring that my nature is such and such.” Sathya Sai Baba says of “miracles”, “those who profess to have understood me, the scholars, the yogis, the pundits, the jnanis, all of them are aware only of the least important, the casual external manifestation of an infinitesimal part of that power, namely, the “miracles”! This has been the case in all ages. People may be very near (physically) to the Avathar, but they live out their lives unaware of their fortune; they exaggerate the role of miracles, which are as trivial, when compared to my glory and majesty, as a mosquito is in size and strength to the elephant upon which it squats. Therefore, when you speak about these ‘miracles,’ I laugh within myself out of pity that you allow yourself so easily to lose the precious awareness of my reality.”

The miracles of SathyaSaiBaba generated controversies and attracted criticisms. Skeptics viewed these simple conjuring tricks, while devotees consider them evidence of divinity. Some critics also hurled various other allegations against SaiBaba like sexual abuse, financial irregularities and promoting blind beliefs. They also criticized Baba for allegedly refusing to to have his materializations investigated under experimental conditions. He was always defended by his devotees and also prominent people in many walks of life.

One of such instance, in December 2001, A.B. Vajpayee (then Prime Minister of India), P.N. Bhagawati (Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Ranganath Misra (Chair Person, National Human Rights Commissioner of India and Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India), Najma Heptulla (President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; UNDP Distinguished Human Development Ambassador) and Shivraj Patil (Member of Parliament, India; Formerly of the Lok Sabha & Union Minister) all signed a letter which stated as follows “We are deeply pained and anguished by the wild, reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. We would normally expect that responsible media would ascertain the true facts before printing such calumny – especially when the person is revered globally as an embodiment of love and selfless service to humanity. Since this professional ethic has not been observed by a section of the media, we have elected to go public with this signed statement.”

Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga at Sringeri

Several Yagas and Homas were conducted in a grand manner at Sringeri beginning from 4th April 2011 – 16th April 2011. Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga, Ati Rudra Mahayaga, Rik-Samhita Yaga, Yajus-Samhita Yaga and Sama-Samhita Yagas were performed as part of the Shashtyabdapurti Vardhanti Mahotsava celebrating the (completion of) 60 years of the Jagadguru Shankaracharya, Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji. Along with Yagas, Mrityunjaya Homa, Lakshamodaka Ganapati Homa, Ugra-ratha homa, Ayushya Homa and Navagraha Homas were also performed during this period. All these Dharmic activities were performed in accordance with the scriptural injunctions.

The Shastras have prescribed parayana of this Durga Saptashati one, ten, hundred or thousand times known as Chandi, Nava-Chandi, Shata Chandi and Sahasra Chandi respectively for the fulfilment of various wishes. Ayuta means ten thousand in Sanskrit. Ten thousand parayanas of Durga Saptashati will be performed in Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga.

Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga was conducted by the Math for the welfare of the world as resolved by Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji. This great Yajna was conducted perhaps for the first time in the known History of Sringeri or even South India. In this Yagna,, over one thousand Ritwijas performed a total of ten thousand parayanas of Durga Saptashati, one crore japas of Chandi-Navakshari Mantra throughout the five days. Kalpokta Avarana Puja, was performed by the Pradhana Acharya to the newly made murti and yantra of Sri Chandika Parameshwari as a part of Purashcharana. Sahasranamarchana, Mahamangalarati and Ashtavadhana Seva and other ceremonies were performed in the evening throughout the five days.

Coconut by Jagadguru Shankaracharya to Chief officiating

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji graced the Yagashala for the Sankalpa ceremony at around 9:00 A.M on 5th April 2011, and offered Diksha-Vastram, Rudraksha-mala and other atrefacts required for the performance of the Yajna to the officiating preists in the Varunam ceremony.

As a part of the ceremony, the chief priest of the Yajna, Sri-Vidya-Upasana Dhurandhara Veda Brahmasri Narahari Subrahmanya Bhatt, Asthana Archaka of the Math at the temple of Sri Sharadamba performed Kalpokta Avarana Pujas to the newly made murti and yantra of Devi Chandika throught the five days.

Yagas were performed at a specially built Chandi Yagashala at Narasimhavanam. Oblations of Payasa were offered by the thousand officiating priests in one hundred Homa-Kundas blazing with the sacrificial fire on the final sixth day. The Yaga was concluded with the Purnahuti ceremony conducted by the Pradhana-Acharya or the chief officiating priest in the august presence of the Jagadguru Shankaracharya, on completion of the Homa.

Chief priest of the Yagas led the 1,200 odd priests in performing the Yajna and also conducted the Purnahuti ceremony in the august presence of the Jagadguru on the 11th of April 2011.

Ati-Rudra Mahayaga commenced on 5th of April 2011 at around 8:30 AM. 121 ritwijas who have come from all the four states of South India and from Maharashtra to participate in the event, chanted Rudra mantras of the Yajur Veda eleven times every day in the morning followed by Mangalarati at noon for ten days. Rudra-Kramapatha and archana were conducted every evening followed by Mahamangalarati, throughout the ten days. The eleven day long event concluded on the 16th of April 2011 with the Purnahuti ceremony at noon which was also be conducted in the august presence of the Jagadguru.

Samhita Yajna of the three Vedas namely Rigveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda were conducted in three seperately constructed Yagashalas opposite Sri Sacchidananda Vilas in Narasimhavanam.

Officiating priests from South India, the Yajus-Samhita Yaga was performed for three days while the Sama and Rik Samhita Yagas were conducted for five days. In the Rik-samhita Yaga, Mantras comprising the 64 adhyayas of the Samhita of the Shakala school of Rigveda were chanted and oblations of clarified butter (ghee) were poured in the sacrificial fire to the chanting while Mantras of the Taittiriya Samhita belonging to the Krishna Yajur Veda were chanted and oblations of clarified butter were poured to the chanting in the Yajus Samhita Yaga. Mantras of the Kauthuma school of Samaveda were chanted while pouring oblations of ghee in the Scrificial fire.

Purnahuti of the Rik-Samhita yaga and Sama-Samhita yaga were conducted on the 15th of April 2011 while that of the Yajus-Samhita Yaga was conducted on the 12th of April 2011 at noon in the august presence of the Jagadguru.
Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji, worshipped Lord Malahanikareshwara at the hill-top shrine located at the centre of Sringeri on the 8th of April 2011.

It is customary for the Jagadguru Shankaracharya to propitiate Lord Shiva at the hoary shrine of Lord Sri Malahanikareshwara on the eve of Vardhanti. In continuation of this practice, the Jagadguru arrived at the hill top to the accompaniment of Vadya Ghosha at around 11:00 A.M. after having darshanam of Goddess Sri Sharadamba and performing Sankalpa for the Ugra-ratha shanti and other homas conducted in conjunction with the Vardhanti festivities.

The Jagadguru first propitiated Lord Ganesha at the shrine of Sri Stambha Ganapati to the accompaniment of Sri Ganapati Atharvashirsha, Ganapati Sukta and other Vedic Mantras chanted by the Math pandits and students of Sadvidya Sanjeevini Samskrita Mahapathashala. Lord Ganapati was worshipped with Panchamrita ahisheka, archana, Modaka Naivedya and deeparadhana. Thence, the Jagadguru entered the age old shrine of Lord Malahanikareshwara and propiatiated Lord Shiva by offerings of Milk, Panchamrita and Udaka Abhisheka, to the accompaniment of Rudradhyaya and other Vedic mantras by Pandits – of Math and those who had gathered to officiate in various ceremonies from the four corners of the country and students of the Sadvidya Sanjeevini Samskrita Maha-Pathashala. The Jagadguru performed Mahamangalarati to Lord Shiva upon completion of the Puja and thereafter worshipped Goddess Bhavani at the shrine adjacent to the Lord.

The event concluded at around 3:00 P.M. with the distribution of Prasadam to all devotees who had gathered at the temple by the Math authorities.

Shastric basis for Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga
The Shastras proclaim that such happiness can be begotten by worship of the Divine Godhead.

By propitiating Devi, the mother of all creation all misery can be overcome and happiness can be derived. Puja, Japa, Parayana, Homa are aspects of worshipping the Divine mother. The greatness of the Divine mother has been extolled in the Devi Bhagavata, Brahmanda Purana, Skanda Mahapurana, Mahabharata and other scriptures. However the Durga-Saptashati or Devi-Mahatmya occuring in the Markandeya Purana is of paramount importance. The greatness of this text, Sri Durga Saptashati as occuring in the Markandeya Purana has been extolled in Damara Tantra and other tantrik texts. By the parayana of this sacred text, difficulties are over come, diseases are cured and wishes fulfilled.
The Durga Saptashati is comprised of three Charitras, namely Prathama, Madhyama and Uttama in thirteen chapters.

The Prathama Charitra describes the glories of the Divine mother as revealed by a Rishi to a Vaishya and Raja Suratha who prayed to the Rishi to alleviate his problems while roaming about the forest after being abandoned by his kith and kin.

In the second Charitra, the Avatara of Goddess Mahalakshmi, the slaying of Mahishasura along with his entire army of warriors, Eulogy of the Divine mother by the Gods, and granting of boons to Indra and other Gods by the Divine Mother have been described vividly.

The third Charitra describes

  • the slaying of Chanda-Munda and other demons by the Divine mother through her Fiery eye as an answer to the prayer by the Gods who were aggrieved by the pains inflicted by Shumba and other wicked demons
  •  the Avatara of Brahmi, Maheshwari and other divine goddesses from the body of the Divine Mother
  •  the slaying of Raktabija, Nishumbha and Shumba by the Divine Mother
  •  Eulogy of the Divine Mother by the Gods and her granting wishes to them
  •  worship of the Divine Mother by Suratha and Samadhi, and vision of the pleased Divine mother granted to them
  • granting of Kingdom to King Suratha and Divine knowledge to the Vaishya