The Nepal Digest - Aug 26, 1994 (13 Bhadra 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Friday 26 Aug 94: Bhadra 13 2051 BkSm Volume 30 Issue 5

       This issue is dedicated to Rabi Shrestha who survived the random
       violence against him. TND wishes you a healthy recovery.

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********************************************************************** Date: Mon, 15 Aug 1994 12:22 EST From: Subject: Review of the latest "Himal" May/June 1994 Issue

Mainstreaming Neo-Marxism in "Himal"

The Himalyan Magazine "Himal" of May/June 1994 must be congratulated for mainstreaming Neo-Marxism in the intellectual debate about development and change in Nepal.

The lead paper of this issue is Dipak Gyawali's "A Fate other than Marginalisation" as is the cover page. "Himal" has a reputation for being an
"alternative" magazine and indeed started with that subtitle in its infancy until it did not know what they were talking about. So it is now stuck with more modest, to some still presumptious, self-description as a "Himalayan Magazine".

It is important that "himal" has mainstreamed a marginalized view of development because "Himal" considers itself as the highest impact readership. This translates into the English speaking elite corps in Nepal, the local and expatriate serious development and change wallahs. Yu will see the magazine discreetly displayed in the offices of Ngos and mega agencies as World Bank and anybody who is anybody in Nepal claims to have read everything on this page and this includes Vice-Chancellor of Universities and Forest Ministers. Indeed, "Himal" is given credit for bringing some new debates to light including those on "ethnicity". This is why "Himal" deserves credit for mainstreaming a marginalized view on development, namely the political economy approach.

This is not to say, political economic perspective on Nepal is very original. In the early eighties, there was Pier's Blaikie and his colleagues in University of East Anglia who wrote "Nepal in Crisis" a book that was reportedly banned by the Pancha government for revealing connection between the gvoernment and the State role including the castes and castes that controlled the State in bringing underdevelopment. Since the nepal government has been merrily constructing a reality in which Nepal's problem or constraint to development has been its land-locked nature and its lack of natural resources and infrastructure, an explanation that takes attention from the role of the king and the government in surplus extraction process that began with Prithvi narayan and his nation-building.

Mahesh Chandra Regmi's treatises on economic history of nineteenth century nepal has documented this process of surplus extraction, a Marxist critique of capitalism, and Richard Tucker has extended the surplus extraction process to regional and global level by documenting forest exploitation in the Himalayas by the British using neo-Marxist concepts of core-periphery, world-systems, development-underdevelopment, metropolis and satellite frameworks of exploitation. These are all theoretical frameworks developed since the late 1950s through the 1980s to explain why underdevelopment still exists despite such a explicit committment to development and progress made by the least and developed countries. At the risk of simplification, the fundamental thesis is that capitalism and the spread of markets requires the under development and exploitatin of the marginalised groups.

In the field of political economy and ecology, called regional political ecology we have Blaikie and Brookfield write a seminal book on "Land Degradation and Society" which is considered a major reference on political ecology and yet we find it being "marginalised" in an intellectual/academic conspiracy of exclusion by the pundits of nepal's community forestry the Nepal Australian Forestry Project who, believe it or not worked under one academic roof, the Australian national University. This is ironic because Nepal's environmental and development problem is discussed both as an exemplar case study.

We have Nepali serious scholars too like Nanda Raj Shrestha using neo-marxist theoretical framework to explore the connection between population, migration and landlessness for encroachers of Nawalparasi, as have Krishna Ghimire who problematized the links between forestry and farms.

All of these theoretical frameworks consider the State and inequitable power relations as the prime problem but the more they pinch the more they are ignored or vehemently condemned or dismisssed as a useless theory (Marxism) or screwed up research (Fatalism and Development). When the villain of underdevelopment is painted in suffeciently vague categories as the "plains agenda " or the elite of Nepal as Dipak Gywali has done in his article, everybody can afford to rationalize that THEY are not real crooks.

Gyawali has embellished his article with some interesting snippets from secret British documents to buttress his political economic process at work. he is helped by the pretty substantial body of literature establishing the workings of political economy by other development theorists and critiques.

I sincerely hope that both Gyawali and Himal succeed in bringing political economy to the front burner of Nepali debate on what paths to take in post-Pancha Nepal.

It might be pertinent to point out however that there are "newer", not necessarily better theoretical and political and philosohpical perspectives in the horizon of development crique. They are broadly grouped as post modern challenges to the notion of modernization. Here is the modernization is understood as the broad flow of civilizational change in which development and progress are just two important strands. Both Marxism and Capitalism and for that matter democracy and one-party rule promise development by way of increase of "production". One questions if the ideal democratic state, super capitalist USA already consumes 35 times as much energy as an Indian child and we already have so much environmental problems is it sensible that all nations on earth that are committed to "development' also strive towards consuming as much as the US what sort of the world can you expect. Scholars have continued to link development with persistent poverty, social inequities, desperation. Is this the progress we want?

Given that "development" is the greatest dharma of contemporary Nepal, one must blashpheme with the heresies of questioning development, progress, modernization. This is not to be reactionary or hark back to the dark ages but to question who is getting all the benefits who is suffering in the name of
"development". Like all great religions, a lot of human suffering and violence have been committed by religions who think they are doing good to the human population and the "development dharma" is just one such religion sweeping intolerance, hiding suffering, killing children in Ason, polluting Bagmati, transferring wealth to |Nepali elite who siphon their wealth to US for sending their children to school here.

************************************************************* Date: 15 Aug 94 17:37:25 EDT From: Rajendra.P.Shrestha@Dartmouth.EDU (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: News 8/13-14 To:

SOURCE: Xinhua

HEADLINE: five more indian policemen held in nepal DATELINE: kathmandu, august 13; ITEM NO: 0813096
   five more indian policemen including one police superintendent were arrested in nepalgunj in mid-western nepal, the second such arrest within a week to bring the number of the arrested indian police to reach 10 altogether. five armed indian policemen were caught by nepali customs officials on august 6 evening when they tried forcibly to enter nepal through nepalgunj. they were later handed over to nepali police by the customs office. according to today's english daily "the kathmandu post", the indian policemen, believed to be of the indian central bureau of investigation were arrested from hotel orient in nepalgunj. it was not immediately clear why they had entered nepal, the reports said. among the five, two came here from butwal and baharaich (india) respectively, the hotel records show. however, local police administration refused to talk to the press regarding the arrests.
                          SOURCE: Xinhua

HEADLINE: indian policemen raid in kathmandu again DATELINE: kathmandu, august 13; ITEM NO: 0813113
   three indian intelligence officers raided a place in downtown here when they tried to look for an indian national working as a teacher at a local school. director of the school g.n. thapa said the three men coming on friday was led by cid inspector g.r. shishupal who claimed to belong to the indian maharashtra police, "the kathmandu post" reported today. "they entered our premises at 3:30 p.m. and said they were looking for paul thomas (the indian national)," thapa said. thomas, however, refused to give himself up to the intruders and instead asked the school staff to hand him over to nepal police upon which he was taken to the kalimati police station, thapa said. the raiding team had already left the scene when the nepali police arrived there, police sources said, adding that they are now on the look out for the raiders. however, one home ministry spokesman said he is unaware of any such incident when contacted by "the kathmandu post". a similar raid was conducted by indian police on march 27 this year at new baneshwar in kathmandu, exactly the same place in this raid, which led to severe criticism by the nepali government. later, india expressed its deep regret over the case and indian prime minister narasimha rao assured nepal that similar cases will not occur in nepal in the future.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- SOURCE: DPA

HEADLINE: Nepal brought to standstill as communists step up pressure DATELINE: Kathmandu, Aug 14
    A general strike brought Nepal to a standstill Sunday as left-wing parties stepped up their demands for an all-party government to guide the country through general elections due to be held in three months.
    The strike was called by the United Marxist-Leninists (UML) group, which wants a cross-party government to oversee the November 13 elections in place of the current government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.
    Normal life was disrupted in almost all Nepali towns Sunday, with markets remaining closed and transport staying off the roads, Radio Nepal, quoting the RSS news agency, reported.
    Up to 400 arrests were made in various parts of the country, media reports said. In isolated disturbances that marred an otherwise peaceful day of protests, strikers stoned buses and police charged protestors with canes in the Kathmandu valley and other regions.
    The most serious incident occurred when leftists and supporters of Koirala clashed in the western town of Dhangadi. More than 50 people were arrested in the town. The disturbances erupted as leftists were asking shopowners to close down for the day.
    Public transport was worst affected in the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. Numerous industrial establishments and schools were closed and people walked to their offices in monsoon rains.
    All shops in the main streets of the three valley cities were closed and riot police were patrolling the streets in strength. There was little tension in the capital, although leftists held rallies.
    Tourists and others were taken to the airport from the centre of the city in special buses under police escort. The United Peoples Front (Bhattarai group) are calling for another general strike for Wednesday.
    Business, industry and tourist sectors had asked the leftists, including the United Marxist-Leninists (UML), to call off the strike as it would cost the country an estimated loss of 500 million rupees
(a little over 10 million dollars).
    The leftists rejected the appeal, saying the continuation in power of the Koirala government was far worse than the loss brought about by the strike. dpa jp


*********************************************************************************************** From: (Madhav Bhatta) Subject: And you thought Panchayat was Bad To: (Nepal Digest) Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 12:49:30 -0400 (EDT)

 Corruption & Abuse of Power by Girija and Koirala Family

In the popular movement of 1990 hundreds of people sacrified their lives to bring about democracy in Nepal. And we thought we got democracy, but the last three years of Koirala rule has been the primal example of abuse of power. Nepali people had great expectations, and we had every reason to do so. After all we brought the democracy, we deserve a break from hundreds of years of autocratic despotism. Alas, we were wrong! It seems Girija thinks he and his family alone brought about the change of 1990, so they deserve every post and privilages. Why didn't we think of this before? May be we would have peacefully persuaded the Shah family to share power with the Koirala family, rather than sacrificing the lives of ordinary Nepalis' to restore so called democracy.

Here is the list of some of the Koirala appointees, an example of his understanding of democracy.

Sushil Koirala (Brother)- M.P.(Banke District),Personal Advisor & Member Central Committee(NC) Nona Koirala (Sister-in-law)- Member Central Committee(NC) Jyoti Koirala (Nephew)- Advisor, Karmachari Pajani Bibhag(Sorry couldn't find an appropriate translation) Prakash Koirala (Nephew)- M.P. (Sunsari District) Nitya Raj Koirala (Nephew)- G.M.( Bhaktapur Brick & Tile Factory) Dirgha Raj Koirala (Uncle)- Advisor Madan Koirala (Nephew)- GM ( Lumbini Sugar Factory) Bijay Koirala (Nephew)- Chief(Arun Barun Makalu Project) Ashok Koirala (Brother)- Mayor(Biratnagar Nagar Palika) Sasank Koirala(Nephew)- Chief( B.P. Koirala Cancer Institute) Shekhar Koirala(Nephew)- Chief(B.P. Medical College) Sushil Koirala (Nephew)- Special Advisor( Radio Nepal) Pradip Koirala (Nephew)- Chief(Tea Development Board) Sriharsha Koirala(Nephew)- Chief( B.P. Planetoriumm) Dharmanath Koirala (relative)- G.M.(Krishi Samagri Sasthan) Sujata Koirala (Daughter)- Chief(Sushma Trust) Niranjan Koirala(Nephew)- Advisor Shiva Kumar Koirala(Nephew)- Chief(Kosi Dam) Minachi Nepal (Niece)- Secretary( Purbanchal University) Lila Koirala (daughter-in-law)- M.P.(Dhanusa District), President( Greater Janakpurdhan Development Program)

Source: Punargagaran Weekely Asar 28, 2051

-Dil Basnet, Alliance for Nepal

-Madhav Bhatta, University of Pennsylvania

**************************************************************** Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 18:37:38 EST From: To: Subject: HINDUISM


     Hinduism believes that God showers compassion on to the universe at all times and in all places, in different ways or forms according to the need and the situation. That is, it sees different religions as different paths to the same goal. The term Hinduism actually is a geographical term meaning the spiritual teachings collected in Indian subcontinent. Hinduism is a blend of all ethical teachings and inquiry in to the universal truths. It is not started by a certain individual, or at certain historical time, or does not espouse only a certain doctrine. Hinduism contains all the spiritual development taken place in all the humanity, from the time immemorial, from all the races - black, semitic, caucasian or oriental. It is the collection of divine revelations throughout the human development. Like genepool or ecology of a virgin forest, Hinduism contains roots of all divine revelation. For example, the laws of king Hammurabi (1728-1686 B.C.) contains all the 'Ten commandments', and these laws themselves are based on the Hindu
'Rig Veda', which had already existed for millenia. It comprises all and dynamically changes with time and situation. Hinduism does not straightjackets an individual in to a certain world view or moral standard. Hinduism is the coexistence of different world views, and there is no inquisition in any form or practice. It merely shows different ways of cultivating individual conscience toward the same goal of realizing God.

     God : Hinduism defines God as 'Neti'; or 'not that'. Hinduism believes that God is unlimited but we are limited. So whatever be the human concept of the God - 'not that'. God is attributeless, formless, genderless, colorless. God creates all these attributes and is beyond these attributes. Upanishad states 'God' is whom
'eye' cannot see, but who makes 'eye' see; whom 'mind' cannot understand, but who makes 'mind' understand.

     Soul : Soul is eternal, sinless, immortal and divine. Soul is a part of God and eventually every soul will return to God. An individual soul may not realize temporarily its true nature, because of illusion/maya of this creation. But eventually, every soul will be free of the illusion or the karmic cycle and realize the self and thus achieving Salvation or Nirvan.

     Karma : The law of karma simply states that the law of cause and effect, or action and reaction holds true both in physical and spiritual world. Hinduism considers the observation of the law of cause and effect in physics, as an example of the operation of the law at much larger scale of the spiritual world. This is as simple as saying 'you reap what you sow'. Hinduism believes, a person's action determines the consequences that person has to face in the future. The ripening of the consequences may take place in different time lag and forms. Thus a person has to face all the consequences of all the person's actions, good for good, and bad for bad; more for more, and less for less. The cycle of karma keeps on acting endlessly. Hinduism defines Salvation (Nirvana) as the freedom from this cycle of karma and realizing God.

     There are many ways to spiritual advancement or cultivating conscience or achieving salvation. It is up to individual to choose any or practice as much as the individual wants. A few of the ways
(Yoga) are mentioned here.

     1. Bhakti Yoga : The way of devotion. In this way you practice only the love for God through prayer. No arguements or doctrines are considered. The method of prayer is entirely up to the individuals. Most of time, the method depends upon the family tradition or culture where the individual is brought up. Thus a christian may go to a church, as a moslem might go to a mosque. A hindu might go to any place or temple and pray any which way.

     2. Karma Yoga : The way of duty. In this way you perform your duty as the situation and conscience demands, but without asking for reward or without being involved with the case. That is to see one's action as a sacrifice on to God, not as an effort for self promotion; so as to gain freedom from karmic law.

     3. Raj Yoga. The way of meditation. In this way you get rid of all the mental aberrations like anger, passion, greed, pride etc. The Hinduism looks at human being as a shelled body, with the divine soul at center, which is expressed externally by the conscience, then by the mind, then by the sense perception, and then by the physical body. The mind with its aberrations acts like a colored glass through which soul is not clearly visible. Hence if a person can get rid off such mental aberrations then the person can see the divine soul and realize God. There are many anti brain conditioning systems exist in the Raj Yoga.

     4. Gnan Yoga. The way of knowledge. In this way you depend on pure truth only. Only reason and logic is considered, and no mental blockade or brain washing or belief system is allowed. There are many philosophical ways of looking at the truth exist. All of these ways are considered to contain partial truth. A student is encouraged to learn all of them and any other ways, but will be advised to avoid getting attached to any of them. Then a student is encouraged to find the truth by its own personal effort. In this system any philosophical questions are valid and encouraged to persue. For example, 'does God really exist ?' is a perfectly valid question. A few of the philosophic system is mentioned below.

          a. Materialism/Atheism, b. Buddhism,
          c. Brahmanism/Ritualism, d. Monotheism,
          e. Dualism, f. Nondualism/Vedant.

     Model of truth : Hinduism sees God as the only ultimate truth. As the different individuals are brought up differently, their reasoning, experiences and learning necessarily has to differ. Thus in personal level the truth can be seen as a combination of first direct observation, then reason, analogy, and belief system. That is, different individual will have different sense of truth and Hinduism provides ways to improve on it.

************************************************************* Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 18:38:56 EST From: To: Subject: Women in Hinduism

Dear editor,

     Please allow me to continue my thoughts on Mr. Mishra's article 'Women in Hinduism'. Since it is very difficult to see the consistency of pattern in Mr. Mishra's account, I take liberty to break it down to a few headings to keep the debate simple. Let me begin with caste/brahmanism and hinduism.

     It is in fact true that the caste system did not exist in ancient hindu society. The caste system has evolved as a specialization in division of labor. In those days most of people in Indian subcontinent were farmers. (Even today in Nepal the farmers makes about 90 % of the population. By the way, when a farmer go to work and sweat in the farm to feed his family, does that sounds like he is furthering his career at the expense of his wife's dreams and career). The brahmans specialized into up keeping of knowledge base of the society. Most of the knowledge were transmitted verbally in a specialized cultural setting, in terse sutras and then were explained in the master/desciple manner. These knowledge, whether it is on the subject of theology, or kitchen recipe, or medical science, or social ethics, or engineering, were transmitted and stored in memory. Thus brahmans were to specialize from childhood in memorizing and up keep of the knowledge base of the society. Same principle applies to farmers or cobblers, who would pass on their knowledge of farming or shoe making to the younger generation. However brahmans specializes in more abstract and economically less productive part of the knowledge base. The ancient society could not have supported large numbers of brahmans (Compare the number of Professors in USA today). In those days many kingdoms, large and small, mushroomed all over the India; and as well as went out of business. In such setting of reoccurring warfare, it became very important to protect and honor the brahmans which may be compared to a library today. As a matter of practicality also, the kingdoms which protected and able to use the knowledge base survived longer than those who did not. This principle applies even today. In other hand brahmans were also to follow certain guide lines. They were to live strictly a nonviolent life. They were not to live life of luxury, eat meat or drink intoxicant. You might have heard traditional stories of fabulous palaces of Ranas or wealth of Newar merchants, but you would not have heard of wealthy or militarily powerful brahmans. Brahmans makes mostly living out of dan/daxinas, basically on charity. There is always a limit in getting rich out of charity in any society.

     However a number of abuses of this Brahmanism have evolved. The structural problem is the keeping the knowledge base as monopoly of a particular brahman family and passing down strictly to its offsprings, and jealously excluding others. It may have a certain practical value of training a person from the beginning, who was born in the right environment. However it is a brahmanic swindling of epic proportion. It has passed many ignorant brahmans as a scholars and in the same time denying knowledge to other members of the society. It also fostered the myth of superior brahman caste, casteism and related ills. Many bright minds could not get opportunity to bloom, and so on. However to keep a proper perspectives, we also have to notice that a king would like to make his son next king, and a rich person lives his wealth to his own children. Another problem which cropped out of brahmanism is the evolution of ritualism. Instead of philosophical base of the religion and the simple fire ceremony
(Yagna) practiced by each household in ancient India, gaudy and elaborate rituals - a display of power and wealth, were proped up as the religion. Here Brahman priest will put a show with complicated rituals, postures, and sounds. A vain jajaman and a greedy purohit will be satisfied at the expense of the spiritual values. The success of Islam in India is directly related to this brahmanic degeneration. However such degenaration did not go unchallenged. Upanishads denies the value of such rituals, instead advocates the permanence of soul/god and meditation. Krishna, Buddha, Mahabir, etc. in the ancient times and Nanak, Kabir, Surdas, etc. in medieval times stood against. There are many sects like Buddhist, Jains, Sikhs, Tantrics, Hare Krishnas, Yogis, where every body is welcome. Again the brahmans were not the custodian of all the knowledge base. There are many shastras open to all, notably Agamas, Buddhist sutras, and others. Presently any body can go and read any shatras or vedas, nor does brahmans command same special treatments (check your brahman friends).

     One more development evolved out of brahmanism. In ancient time brahmans were teachers where every body would go to study. Would be merchants, doctors, soldiers, engineers, or philosophers would go and study their subjects under the teachers specialized in those fields. They were called gurus and the place is called gurukulas (schools). The gurukulas are open to all, however the brahmans would decide who learns what and Vedas are taught only to brahmans. Later many brahmans instead of specializing in their field specialized in going out to jajamans and telling stories, legends with ethical overtones, to the popular audiences. The contemplative philosophical part slowly replaced by this mesmerizing yarns in general public and became solace only to a select few. Such stories and legends has its own role to play, but one particular negative effect was to eclipse the teachings of Upanishads, Gita and even Buddhist doctrines. This development is simply because of popular demand (more daxinas) for such activities. Brahmans were not able to ( or would not) teach the higher themes of Sanatana dharma to the public at large. This sadly led to the ignorance of considering Hinduism merely a collection of idol worships and myths.

     Thus it is a profound ignorance to define hinduism as brahmanism. Brahmanism has played some positive and some negative role within Hindu society, but it is not hinduism. If you would, Hinduism is like democracy within which brahmanism (like many political parties) exist. It will be wise to recognize the particular negative attitude and treat them as a doctor would treat a boil. However it will be a mistake to eat a rotten apple and condemn all the apples and go on to condemn all the fruits.

     As per Mr. Mishra's contention that a higher caste men can go around and chase skirts of lower caste women, it is pure nonsense. In case Mr. Mishra happens to be from so called 'high caste', I would advice him not to follow his fancy. Perhaps it may be wise to meet Mr. John Bobbitt.

     Rest for next. Regards - Tilak B. Shrestha.

********************************************************************** From: (Gopal Shah) Subject: Gun shooting To: Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 13:22:48 -0400 (EDT)

Nepalese student,Rabi Shrestha, was shot five times in Gadsden,AL. When he was waiting for his friend outside a grocery store,two black guys approached him and asked for a ride.They told him that their car was out of gas and they need to go a gas station nearby.After driving a block away they asked him to stop the car.They rubbed his $30 and told him to runaway.When he was running they shot him five times. Luckily, he survived from this horrible shooting.He was just discharged from Riverside Medical Center,Gadsden,AL on Aug 15.
                                          Bachan K.C.

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