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Last updated: December 23, 2013

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Bodhgayanews 2012
September 9, 2012 My interests continue to wander away from Bodhgaya, currently to how the Hindi press covers world news and this site currently reflects this.

Bodhgayanews in 2010-11
January 17, 2010. Peter Friedlander. Just a note to readers of this website to say that I am sorry to say I am not getting much time to update the site these days. However, I intend to keep the site running and add materials to it as and when it is possible. Thanks for visiting.

Bomb Blasts in Bodhgaya
9 July 2013. Its a sad day when the Mahabodhi temple becomes the target for bombs. Perhaps that nobody was killed and nothing seriously damaged can be a small consolation. For the full story there are lots of reports on the web. Such as at the Indian Express Web site: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/threetofour-terrorists-planted-bombs-in-bodhgaya-investigators/1139180/

CRPF jawans guard Mahabodhi Temple premises in Bodhgaya on Monday, a day after serial blasts rocked the temple
CRPF jawans guard Mahabodhi Temple premises in Bodhgaya on Monday, a day after serial blasts rocked the temple. PTI

CCTV coverage also caught images of the bomb blasts which can be seen on this Hindi news story on IBN Khabar. http://khabar.ibnlive.in.com/news/102804/1


Hindi students speak on SBS Hindi service Radio
5 December 2012, Melbourne. Recently I had an opportunity to take a group of Hindi students to SBS radio and they got a chance to talk about why they are learning Hindi with the presenter of the show. Its in Hindi, and available online. http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/highlight/page/id/244733/t/Who-is-learning-Hindi-/

There is also a Facebook page for the Hindi program which has lots of interesting Hindi things related to Australia: https://www.facebook.com/SBSHindi


World Hindi Conference, South Africa 22-24 September 2012  
vishva hindi sammelan


The 9th World Hindi conference was held in Johannesburg South Africa from the 22-24 September 2012.It was attended by around 800 delegates from South Africa and around the world including, India, Mauritiaus, Suriname, Trinidad, UK etc. A regular part of the conference is honouring scholars who have contributed to Hindi in one way or another, at this conference, twenty Indian and twenty foreign scholars were honoured. The Indian scholars included authors, poets and academics and the foreign scholars were Hindi lecturers and writers. Those that I met included two Japanese, a Russian, a Ukranian, an Italian, a Sri Lankan and a Thai. I was the only Australian at the conference as far as I know and from what I have seen of a list of previous recepients of this honour I was the first Australian to recieve this honour. I am also one of a handful of receptients who have come from Western backgrounds and was pleased to see amongst those names those of several of my own former Hindi teachers and colleagues from universities in the UK where I was born.

delegates at the conference
Myself and some other award recipients at the conference, including (from left to right) Prof. Hideaki Ishida (Japan), Dr Bumroong Kham-Ek (Thailand), Dr Tomorcho Kikuchi (Japan), Prof Sergei Serebriany (Russia), an award recepient from Nagaland, myself, Prof Upul Ranhith Hewatangamage (Sri Lanka)  
For more on the conference see: http://www.vishwahindisammelan.gov.in/  

Insight Meditation in Australia
Melbourne 7 October. I gave a talk at the Australasian Buddhist Societies Conference in Sydney on Saturday the 29th of September. The abstract suggested that I would talk about the following, which I largely did, but also tried to argue that what was striking was the way that meditation groups are not simply related to individual practice but also ways in which people form group identities.Unfortunately I came down sick after all the flying involved in going to South Africa and Sydney and so am only getting round to updating this website today.
This paper looks at the development of Buddhist Insight meditation traditions in Australia. Insight meditation is a distinctive Buddhist meditation tradition which has developed in popularity amongst lay Buddhists in Asia and the West since the early twentieth century. The focus of this paper is not on the Vipassana movement founded by S. N. Goenka, but rather on the broader development of Insight meditation traditions. The research includes a study of
relevant literature on the development of Insight meditation traditions, field research carried out at a 20 range of meditation retreats over the last twenty five years, and interviews with meditation teachers and practitioners. The fundamental question posed is should the development of Insight meditation traditions in Australia be seen as a separate phenomena from the global rise of interest in Insight meditation during the last two decades or more? In
order to examine this issue I compare meditation retreats, and the profile of participants and meditation teachers, in Australia, India, Singapore and the UK since the mid nineteen eighties. On the basis of the research, I argue that whilst developments in Australia are shaped by global movements they have developed a distinctive identity due to the multicultural nature of Australian society.


This Chinese Company is going to sue Iphone 5 for patent theft!
[9 September 2012. (Dainik Bhaskar). A nice example of a China related story where China is the hero, suing Apple over Patent issues, the source is CNET according to the article.]
The GooPhone I5 is pretty much identical to the Apple Iphone 5 and is being sold in China whilst the new Iphone's release is yet to happen. According to a report on CNET the makers of the GooPhone are of a mind to drag Apple into court along with the release of the Iphone5. This Chinese phone has already got a patent in its own country and this means that there the Iphone 5 is considered to be an imitation for its design and looks. On this basis the company is considering suing Apple. So Chinese phone makers are set on doing to Apple what it is doing to Samsung these days….

Introduced to Japanese language and culture
17 August 2012 (Dainik Jagran)
(The following is a good example of the kind of story appearing in Hindi papers which is clearly generated from local sources, in this case in Kurukshetra in Harayana, pointing to India's growing interest in Asia and the world.)
Jagran Report Centre, Kurukshetra. In 'Wisdom World' school in sector 8 on Friday a workshop was organised on Japanese language and culture in which students were informed about Japanese language and culture. The students were introduced to Japanese language and culture through the latest technology by language and culture experts from Japan Atsuhashi Funahashi and Akaya Suzuki. Twenty nine children from the school took part. Astuhashi Funahashi who is from a High School in Boston America where he is teaching students about Japanese culture and he gave a detailed account of Japanese culture to the students. The school principal Anita Rawal said on this occasion that it was an important objective of the school to inform children as part of their education about the civilisations and cultures of the country and the world.

Dyeing Pets to look like Wild Animals


'Dog dyed to look like tiger. Nowadays a strange mental state is overwhelming the Chinese' (Hindi caption to picture)

10 August 2012. My recent interest in Hindi news coverage of China stories has led me to this story. The Hindi in the story is just basically a description of the pictures. Its an example of the tabloid trend in Hindi papers perhaps, picking up on stories taht appear in Tabloid papers such as the Daily Mail elsewhere in the world.

Don't get confused looking at the picture, this is China, brother!
Dainikbhaskar.com, Aug 9 2012.
There is a new trend appearing amongst rich Chinese people these days. Here people are shaping the colours and forms of their pet animals (pet dogs) into that of other species of animals. Several people have also dyed their dogs in fluorescent colours, due to which the appear different. Some appear to be Pandas, some to be tigers.
Colouring and grooming dogs in this way in China has become an industry. There shops for hair cuts and spas for dogs are opening. The pet owners are not holding back in their spending.
In the following pictures see the various different shapes and colours of pets... For full story see: Dainik Bhaskar.com
NB this website, that of a major Hindi paper, produces a minefield of mad pop up windows.  
For more English language coverage of this story visit sites like globalpost.com and papers like the British Daily Mail (and the Melbourne Age on 19 August 2012)  

Indian media coverage under scrutiny: Connect Asia Radio Interview
August 3, 2012. I had a very brief interview with Richard Ewart on Radio Australia's Connect Asia program. It was I thought going to be about my studies of Hindi coverage of China, but it actually turned out to be mostly questions about the Indian press's role in the attacks on Indian students in Melbourne. Here’s a link to the audio http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/connect-asia/indian-media-coverage-under-scrutiny/992702. After the interview I remember thinking that actually what I could have also said though is that its remarkable how much more news there is now about Australia since the attacks in the Hindi media. So alongside the continued reporting of racism and violence in Australia there are now stories about all sorts of aspects of life here in Australia.

Bye Bye to Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai?
August 2, 2012. I gave a talk at the Australia India Institute last week on Hindi coverage of world news, and especially China news (link to an abstract). They said there would be a podcast, but I can't see where to find it yet. From the discussion I came to realise that one of the most interesting things that is happening is that Hindi newspapers are starting to cover China stories not just stories from English sources, but ones that rely on local Hindi sources. Notable amongst these are reports on stories like International Beach Kabaddi tournaments being held in China and the Indian participants in them, or reports about Indian school teachers who have been to China and come back and told people about their experiences of progress in China and in India.
Update: link to a podcast of the talk: http://www.aii.unimelb.edu.au/events/tiffin-talk-bye-bye-hindi-chini-bhai-bhai

Chinese, Asian and World News - in Hindi Newspapers
23 July 2012. I gave a talk at the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) 19th Biennial Conference 2012 'Knowing Asia: Asian Studies in an Asian Century' which was held in University of Western Sydney on the 13 July 2012. Sadly I got muddled at one point in the talk and I think said that 200 million people read the Dainik Jagran every day, much as Jagran might like that what I should have said was 20 million. As its about 200 million who read a Hindi paper every day. I also just learned how, slightly imperfectly, to upload my slides and audio into YouTube. You can listen to the presentation on YouTube by following the link below.
URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNNCbkfH9cw&feature=youtu.be

Hindi Summer School (January 30th to February 10th 2012)
January 22, 2012, Melbourne. This year La Trobe is trialing the idea of a beginners Hindi summer school here in Melbourne. It will run over ten days from ten to five each weekday. For more information see Hindi summer school.

Kabir and Ravidas
January 22, 2012, Melbourne. Yet again I am not working on Bodhgaya, but I have been working for the last few weeks on papers about Kabir and Ravidas. Hopefully later in the year these will come out in different journals and publications. The papers are about the following topics.

Kabir and the Print Sphere
January 22, 2012, Melbourne. This paper looks at how the development of printed versions of texts related to Kabir affected understandings of the Indian poet saint Kabir (ca. 1398-1519). It shows how during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries Kabir works were transmitted through oral and manuscript based traditions within largely independent networks of sites related to Kabir. The arrival of print culture in the mid nineteenth century in Northern India heralded a new development in which the previously independent networks of sites had to negotiate new identities in relation to the emerging nation state. I trace two developments in publications of Kabir works, publications by the followers of Kabir and publications by the Hindu reform movement the Radhasoami Satsang. I demonstrate that the development of the print sphere profoundly altered the network of earlier perceptions of Kabir centred on local traditions and forced Kabir to fit into new regional and national conceptions of Kabir.

Mirabai in the life story of Ravidas
January 22, 2012, Melbourne. This paper is about the untouchable poet saint Ravidas (ca 1500-1550) and the roles played in his life story by goddesses, queens and Mirabai, the Rajasthani queen and devotee of Krsna (ca. 1500-1550). I trace how in stories about Ravidas's life from the sixteenth century onwards there has been a tension about the identity of the Rajasthani queen in the story. In some versions she is called Jhali or Yogavati, in some she is called Mirabai and in some both Mirabai and Jhali/Yogavati appear alongside each other. Does this represents the appropriation of Mirabai by Ravidas traditions or the incorporation of Mirabai traditions into Ravidas story telling traditions? I argue that the key factor was that local stories about Mirabai and Ravidas were incorporated via the visits of devotees on pilgrimage to different sites into an emerging construction of a narrative of Ravidas as a national figure.

"Spend Rs 32 a day? Govt says you can't be poor"
SEP 21 2011. Fascinating story in the Times of India on how "The Planning Commission told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that anyone spending more than Rs 965 per month in urban India and Rs 781 in rural India will be deemed not to be poor." for the full article see the TOI website.

Tagore's Travels
Melbourne, 3 August 2011. The Asian Studies Association of Australia July 'Asian Currents' Newsletter has an article by me about Tagore's travels in Europe, America, Japan and China which discusses the different receptions his ideas got depending on the audiences he was addressing. For more read the article "Tagore: travels
and translations" online at: http://asaa.asn.au/publications/ac/2011/asian-currents-11-07.pdf

Tagore and Underhill
Melbourne, 3 August 2011. Seminar magazine from Delhi has an essay in its July edition which I wrote on Tagore and how he collaborated with Evelyn Underhill on translations of Kabir's verses. For more read the article "TAGORE, KABIR AND UNDERHILL" which is online at http://www.india-seminar.com/semframe.html

Melbourne, 3 August 2011. I have been a bit distracted from updating this website for a while now, caught up in other things. However, I have decided to update it from time to time with materials related to my current activities, which are not particularly Bodhgaya focused at the moment.

Government schemes to be made available to people by NGOs: Commissioner
July 31 2010.
Bodhgaya (Jagran Yahoo! India). Magadh circle Commissioner Dr. Kara Parshu Ramayya said that NGOs running in Bodhgaya should be the first to be made aware of goverment schemes and then they should make people in villages aware of them so that all sections of society could benefit from them. The NGOs have a good reach into the remote villages. Commissioner Dr Ramayya was addressing a meeting held in the Birla Dharmshala on Saturday in Bodhgaya organised by the 'Global NGO association of Bodhgaya' on the theme of 'the role of the NGO in the development of deprived comunities'. He said that in the villages India [bharat] could be glimpsed and in the cities India ['indiya'] could be glimpsed. [A pun on two words for India that does not work in English]. In the changing times the needs of all classes were increasing and people's incomes were not increasing in proportion. He said that the deprived sections of society were not able to take advantage of the government schemes due to being uneducated and agitated. In such a circumstance the responsibilities of NGOs increased. The secretary Shankar Yadav cast light on the role of NGOs in the gathering by saying that after the formation of the association the influence of the NGOs would spread from village to village. Assistant secretary Rajesh Kumar said that NGOs were giving various types of trainings in remote villages such as education, health, technical training and means to make women self-reliant. The positive outcomes of which could be seen. Dr Varma gave information about the health program activities at the health centre and appealed for people to take advantage of them. He said that NGOs had become an essential part of society today. [followed by a list of people who took part in the inaugural lamp lighting ceremony and the organisers.] Full story on Jagran Yahoo! India.

Myanmar General Visits Bodhgaya
28 July 2010. Peter Friedlander. There are lots of stories about the visit of senior delegation from Myanmar, including its leader General Than Shwe, to Bodhgaya and other sacred Buddhist sites in the Hindi and English press. Meanwhile other local stories reported in the Dainik Jagran included items like a head on crash between two motor cycles on the river road between Gaya and Bodhgaya on the 21st July in which two were injured. There is also a lot of election campaigning going on such as a speech by former central minister Shah Navaz saying that tourism should be developed and declared an industry but that the central government is not interested in this.

Cash payments if re-elected: Lalu
24 June 2010. Peter Friedlander, Melbourne. Jagran reported on June 19th that in a speech made by Lalu Prasad, former chief minister of Bihar, to an assembly in a village near Bodhgaya he promised that he would give regular employment to teachers without contracts in the state and make cash payments in place of providing housing under the 'Indira Dwellings' scheme. He was addressing a meeting which sought to create unity between extreme Dalit groups and other groups in society. He claimed that the present government was falsely asserting that it was creating progress when the funds were actually coming from the central government. For more on the story, in Hindi, visit Jagran - Yahoo! India.

Solstice Scenes in Yarra Valley
24 June 2010. Peter Friedlander, Melbourne. Back in Melbourne again in mid winter, click on images for more.

Melbourne From Ferny Creek
Near Woori Yallock and Millgrove
Melbourne From Ferny Creek
Near Woori Yallock and Millgrove


Life Imprisonment for three convicted of gang rape, two still absconding
1 June 2010. Peter Friedlander. There are reports in various Hindi papers, such as Dainik Bhaskar, that three of the accused in the case of Japanese woman who was raped in April on her way to Gaya station have been sentenced to life imprisonment and that two others are still absconding but their possessions have been seized. This is an instance of how remarkably quick justice can be in India when there is a need for it to be, and when a special court is set up to deal with a case. See this coverage of the story on Zeenews and the Judge's highlighting of the harm the case had done to Bihar's reputation and on Nitish Kumar's directions to the police see this story on the India Today website.

Yogyakarta skyline
31 May 2010. Peter Friedlander. A sketch from a recent trip to Yogyakarta, more images on May Sketch page.

PaintedWorlds: Pictures by Peter Friedlander
19 May 2010. Peter Friedlander. Only very tangentally related to Bodhgaya I am afraid, but I recently gave a talk about my painting and sketching activities over the years which does include mentions of Bodhgaya and India so I thought I would post a link to it here. The presentation is here in the form of six YouTube clips.

image of desert
image of banaras
image of woman and galaxy
Overland to India in 1977
Part 1
From Cambridge to Varanasi

Part 2
Singapore and beyond

image of jain goddess
image of lake in Madison
image of science lab
Part 3
Q&A part 1
Part 4
Q&A part 2

Awareness of Road impovements delayed and a sad story
18 April 2010. Peter Friedlander. There is a recent (27 March) article on the BBC Hindi website by Vinod Varma about the improvements to the roads to Bodhgaya going on a the moment. Apparently now the previous trip time of ten to twelve hours on a single lane road to Varanasi has been reduced to two or three hours due to the new road. He reports mixed receptions to this in some quarters though. In particular local taxi drivers have found their business harmed as people no longer fly, or catch the train, to Bodhaya and then hire taxis there. There is a also a suggestion that this may lead to more traffic reaching Bodhgaya due to people prefering to come by car rather than having to make railway bookings. What this will do for the traffic situation in Bodhgaya I am not sure. For more read the Hindi article on the BBC Hindi website. The reputation of the local taxi services is also not helped by events such as the recent case (17 April 2010) of a Japanese woman who hired a taxi to the station from Bodhgaya and was then gangraped by the a group of five men en route, for more on this see a report in Dainik Bhaskar.

551,000,000 Hindi speakers vs 125,000,000 English speakers: 2001 census data
14 March 2010. Peter Friedlander. A report in the Times of India gives a break down of the 2001 census of India data on people's second and third languages. After almost a decade ago now this data has been released that shows how knowledge of English as a second, or third, language has been growing in India. It also shows how the number of those who know Hindi as a second or third language keeps growing.

Hindi 551.4
English 125
Bengali 91
Telegu 85
Marathi 84.2
Tamil 66.7
Urdu 59
Kannada 50.8
Gujarati 50.3
Oriya 36.6
Malayalam 33.3
Punjabi 31.4
Assamese 18.9

For more details read the report on the Times of India website

Attacks on Indians in Australia not just Racism: Australian born Peter speaks?
Tuesday 23 February. Below is the text, and translation, of an article based on on an interview published in Hindustan, a major Hindi daily paper, with me in Varanasi recently when I was visiting the Kabir Panth monastery. Surojeet, the reporter, and his editor(s) manage to report what I said in a way which is quite pleasing, but in which they connect what I said in a rather odd way which at times obscures, or slightly 'pinches' the meaning of what I said by the way things get put together. Its a great example of how journalism works, I can recognise in it what I said, but there is also much that comes from the paper's way of approaching what I said. Here is my rough translation of what they said, I said.

Attacks on Indians in Australia not just Racism: Australian born Peter speaks of believing in the Kabir Panth as a religion Surojeet Chaterjee, Hindustan, Monday 15 February, Varanasi, page seven.
Doctor Peter Gerard Friedlander, who abandoned an aetheist life to become a Buddhist says that the Kabir Panth can be regarded as a religion. This is important in the context of Indian relgion as Kabir is relevant in every age. He taught that rather than looking at outward appearances we should look within. "Everybody knows, there are drops in the ocean; but few realise, there are oceans in every drop". On another front due to the ongoing racism in Australia there is an atmosphere of consumerism [I said that consumerism was a factor contributing to crime]. Also during the last twenty years there has been an economic downtown. In addition there are factional and political Indian organisations which are raising their voices for the Indians which may be a factor [which then misses out - a factor in highlighting publicity about the attacks]. Moreover, everybody is afraid to travel on public transport in Melbourne [then missed out - at night]. London born National University of Singapore Hindi lecturer Peter came to Banaras in 1977. Recently for a number of years he has been working on a study of the translations of Kabir's poems done by Rabindranath Tagore as 'One Hundred Poems of Kabir'. He wants to know what were the factors which led to Tagore adding elements of his own words to the translation. Speaking in the Kabir Chaura Monastery on Sunday to Hindustan he said - Tagore made his translation based on a work made by Kshitimohan Sen. Through this in in the 19th century [should be early 20th] the works of Kabir become well established throughout the world. I am not interested in determining fault [misses out in the sense of whether there there are faults in the translations]. Furthermore, nobody knows the sources for some of the verses in the collection made by Baleshwar Prasad Agrawal [misses out that these are the basis for Kshitimohan Sen's collection]. The translations always change, but the message remains the same.

Chief Minister to visit various religious sites
Jan 25, 2010 (Jagran Yahoo!).
Gaya. The Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is coming on Tuesday for a four trip to Gaya and will pay honour (literally 'bow') at various religious sites. The district administration officers have notified the ordinary people at these sites after site inspections that he may be coming knocking on their doors at the possible locations. Whilst the start may be in Bodhgaya there is also the possibility of visiting, Vishnupad, Mangalagauri, Pita Maheshwar, Peer Mansur etc. etc. At an official level during his trip (techically described here as a pravas a 'journey away from home' perhaps here in the sense of 'leave') there will be no notification of his tours of inspection during this period. The reasons for this include his security and other possible reasons. It is possible that where and when he will go anywhere will be decided everyday during the night watches and information given to the officers. So the district administration of Gaya district is watching out over all the archeological and historical sites in the district where the CM might go.
There has been cleaning work going on for two days at Vishnupad. Amongst the Gayawal priests there is considerable talk that the CM is coming to the Vishnupad temple. On the way he will also have darshan at Mangalagauri. This is because when he was about to become CM he had darshan at Mangalagauri. (the implication is perhaps that he might have made some sort of pledge, manauti, to the deity there that if he became CM he would return and make offerings in thanks for the goddess's aid). It is also said that it is possible he will visit the grave of Peer Mansur (i.e. a Muslim sacred site) which is situated near to Pita Maheshvar temple. The administration has also started cleaning and painting works at various other sacred sites as well as Vishnupad. Because the CM knows that Hindus as well as making offering at Vishnupad do so at dozens of other sites for making offerings to the ancestors (vedi). Finally, work is also in progress to clean up at the river Phalgu, it is also possible that the CM may take a glimpse of this (seasonally) dried up river. (Note: this story was then followed up by two more, first that the All India Monks Federation have announced that they will demonstrate during his visit in support of their demand that the temple management be handed over to only Buddhists, and second that the Temple Management Committee will roll our the red carpet in honour of the CM's visit.)

Third Cultural Evening of Buddhist Festival cancelled
Jan 17 2010, (Jagran - Yahoo! India). Bodhgaya. On the news of the passing away of the former chief minister and senior CPM leader Jyoti Basu the program for the third cultural evening at the third Buddhist cultural festival was cancelled. Meanwhile after the concluding ceremony of the Buddhist festival at the Kalacakra field there was a memorial ceremony organised by the DM Mr Singh along with other officials, along with the Secretary of the BTMC N. Dorje and the member Radha Krishna Mishra and a two minute silence as an expression of faith.


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