Longest Solar Eclipse of 21st Century to Pass Over India, China

Full Eclipse

Full Eclipse

Longest Solar Eclipse of 21st Century to Pass Over India, China

July 21 (Bloomberg) — The longest full solar eclipse this century, lasting 6 minutes and 39 seconds in some areas, will plunge cities, including Shanghai, into darkness as it passes over India and China tomorrow.

Shanghai, China’s wealthiest city, will experience 5 minutes of darkness when the moon blocks out the sun at about 9:39 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s orbit moves between the Earth and the sun so that the sun is fully or partially obstructed.

“It’s certainly a buzz because it’s quite beautiful,” said David Thurley, 62, a retired environmental and waste water engineer who traveled from Albury in southeastern Australia to watch the event in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. “It’s through this demonstration that we know how the solar system works and it’s there for all to see.” Thurley has seen two previous eclipses in Australia and Libya.

Tomorrow’s eclipse is benefiting the tourism industries in China and India that have had fewer visitors because of the global recession and swine flu. The Park Hyatt Hotel on the 91st floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center, China’s tallest building, has fully booked its 2,830 yuan ($414) package for watching the eclipse that includes a night’s stay and champagne breakfast for two.

China posted a 4.8 percent decline in visitor arrivals from a year earlier during the first five months of 2009, according to the China National Tourism Administration. India’s tourist arrivals fell 9.2 percent in the first six months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Indian Coast
The eclipse will first be visible at about 5:28 a.m. local time on the western coast of India, before the shadow crosses the eastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. It will pass over the cities of Surat, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi and Patna, according to NASA.

Residents of Mumbai won’t get a view of a full eclipse as the path will move just north of the city, according to the U.S. space agency. A full eclipse will also be visible in parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar before crossing into China, according to NASA.

During an eclipse, Hindus offer prayers by visiting temples and turn containers of food and water upside down. Food left uncovered during the event is thrown out or given to beggars. Some Hindus don’t eat or drink during the eclipse and bar pregnant women from stepping outdoors, sewing or using knives. Many immerse themselves in water for cleansing.

Scientific Basis
“There is no scientific basis for the Indian belief that an eclipse is inauspicious,” said Harish Bhatt, dean of the Faculty of Academic Sciences of the Bangalore-based Institute of Astrophysics. “It is just the moon’s shadow on the Earth.”

Such an event enables scientists to study the temperature of the sun’s gases and chemicals, Bhatt said.

In China, the cities of Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hefei, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai will experience a full eclipse, according to NASA.

The ancient Chinese text, Records of the Grand Historian, written more than 2,000 years ago, describes eclipses as indicators of change. China’s State Council, the nation’s cabinet, issued a statement on July 18 calling on local governments to ensure social stability during the eclipse and to prevent the spread of superstition.

The Park Hyatt Hotel in Shanghai has booked rooms for guests coming to view the event, as well as business travelers who have extended stays or are arriving early for the eclipse, said Lillian Zhang, the hotel’s public relations manager.

Eclipses are “stunning and genuinely beautiful,” said Don Rankin, 47, who traveled from London to view the eclipse from Hangzhou with his 14-year-old son. “Whenever you see one, you just wonder when the next one is going to be.” Rankin began planning his trip to China nine months ago. It’ll be the fourth eclipse he’s witnessed.

Bloomberg Reference

Smear campaigns against Hindu Gurus: Presumed guilty until proven innocent?

Smear campaigns against Hindu Gurus: Presumed guilty until proven innocent?
Hindu Voice UK, July 2009

Is it not strange that for many Guru’s, Rishi’s or Seer’s that have emerged from India, there has always been attacks on them. These have come in the guise of slander, misquotes, false allegations and smear campaigns. Why is it the vast majority of these have been orchestrated by westerners? Why do we as Hindus read, hear, accept or turn a blind eye these?

The fact that we are born in the west or we are raised to admire the west may be a reason. There are many who give a lot of credit to anyone from the west, and there are many who believe in the old statement “Where there is fire there is smoke”. Let us start with the historical case of Vivekananda the great philosopher & teacher.

When Vivekananda went to Chicago in 1893 to speak at the parliament of the worlds religions in Chicago, he was ridiculed by members of other faiths. This was not because of what he said, but because of everyone’s lack of knowledge of Hinduism and their preconceptions of a faith based in mythology with worshipping of animals and nature. Indeed when the Gita was placed on the table, members of the other faiths starting placing their holy books on top of the Gita with each stating the Gita is nothing compared with their book. This resulted in a Vivekananda showing that the Gita is the foundation the ocean of knowledge. Remove this and all other texts will collapse. This incident and subsequent attempts to frame Vivekananda by the church during his maiden US voyage because of his mass appeal; showed the anti Hindu guru stance was taken by many over 100 years ago. This approach was also accepted by many and not challenged.

Let us now take the current case with Sathya Sai Baba. Many have heard of Sai Baba as the guru or Avatar who has performed untold miracles from childhood. Indeed you will find many who have seen or benefited from the miracles throughout the world. To be sceptic is in our nature, we must all enquire & experience. However, if allegations are proclaimed by people with ulterior motives, then the sceptics will often believe the rumours.

Over 90% of anti Sai allegations can be attributed to Tal Brook (Robert Taliaferro Brooke), who as a westerner was often seen at Sai Baba’s ashram in the 1970s. He proclaimed he was Sai Baba’s number one western follower. He started the sexual allegations campaign, which initiated from him talking to an unidentified man Surya Das who was told by another unidentified man ‘Patrick’ who had apparently had physical relations with Sai Baba. No one else has met these individuals.

Why did Tal Brooke go to India? He stated that spirit guides, and belief in “psychic stuff” brought him to India and to Sai Baba. Why did he suddenly stop his pro Sai Baba work whilst at the Ashram titled “The Amazing Advent”? Which Incidentally Sai Baba refused to bless. Why did he leave the ashram & circulate his anti Sai Baba rumours soon afterwards? Because he stated he had demonic encounters, hearing voices of spirits, out of body experiences, but acknowledged that Sai Baba had Christ like powers that baffled top scientists. In 1976 Tal Brook published an anti Sai book titled “Lord of the Air”*. In the book and in subsequent years he has attacked Sai Baba & Hinduism, suggesting that enlightenment is an evil path to Satan and that God-Men and Gurus are in a state of perfect demon possession. He believes that Sai Baba embodies a “timeless, demonic presence“. What does this say about the integrity and objectivity of his claims against Sai Baba?

What is also missing is the story of his constant high usage of drugs while at university & India, and his drug induced hallucinations of being self-realized. Other Americans recognised him as a fanatic Christian at the ashram, which is contrary to his claim of becoming a Christian post Sai Baba. He was a member of the Neo-American Church founded by Arthur Kleps (a follower of LSD guru Timothy Leary). Kleps was alleged to be anti-Semitic by the Dutch police who expelled him from Holland. Tal Brooke has denounced Hollywood as being anti Christ, and his smear campaign has lasted 30 years with multiple books and now with expensive internet ad campaigns.

Tal Brooke’s rumours and books led to many copy cat accusers, most of whom who had had a dubious past, but not once has there been any proof. The recent most famous example is of Alaya Rahm who in the 1990s as a young man told he had sexual encounters with Sai Baba. The western media jumped on this, and even the BBC produced a programme which effectively made Sathya Sai Baba appear guilty. However Alaya Rahm (and others) had many opportunities to file a police or court case anywhere in India, this has never occurred. A lawsuit was created in the Superior Court of California on January 6, 2005 (Case No. 05cc01931). But realising expose was high he refused to go to court. No other alleged victim came forward to testify in support of his allegations, though anti-Sai activists claimed there were many alleged US victims. Amazing some eminent western Hindus have often joined the anti-Sai crusade with enthusiasm, which has often led to more people accepting the false accusations.

Such examples and more (e.g. on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Maharishi Mahesh) show that when anti Guru Statements are made, everyone takes notice. On an international stage, as Hindus we have never done our own research on to try and prove that the Gurus may well be innocent. Worse, when the allegations are proved to be incorrect, we have not been able to use that opportunity to publicise that nationally or internationally.

*Republished in 1979 as “Sai Baba, Lord Of The Air”, renamed “Avatar of Night” in 1982 with a reprint in 1984, was renamed “Lord Of The Air: Tales of a Modern Antichrist” in 1990 and reprinted again as “Avatar of Night” in 1999.

Hindu Voice Reference