Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some deep background on Sudeshna Sarkar's smear campaign against Nepali Buddhism

Three new articles have appeared (relatively) recently about the tragic case of a 21 year old Nepali Buddhist nun who was savagely raped by five men on the night of June 24:
Unfortunately, each of these articles reiterates the false allegation that some Nepali Buddhists have been calling for the nun to be expelled, since, as a rape victim, she is no longer a virgin.

Anyone who tries to get to the bottom of that scurrilous attack on the Buddhadharma will find that all roads lead back to an article that appeared in the July 11 issue the Times of India: Gangraped nun now faces expulsion from nunnery.

That article was written by Kathmandu based journalist Sudeshna Sarkar. It would be impossible to exaggerate the central role Sarkar has played in fomenting outraged condemnations around the world directed against Nepali Buddhism, often coming from well-meaning Buddhists, based solely on an uncritical acceptance of her slanderous accusations.

There is no question about the validity of Sudeshna Sarkar's claims: they are false. Sarkar herself has made it abundantly clear that she fabricated the story about the nun's "expulsion", for even though she has written several follow-up pieces, she steadfastly refuses to present even a shred of evidence to substantiate her allegations.

Various possibilities exist for what is motivating Sarkar's one-woman smear campaign against the Dharma. She could be carrying water for the Maoists, who are now the dominant political force in Nepal, and whose hatred for Buddhism and Hinduism is well known. Or she could be motivated by a Jihadist agenda, a possibility suggested by the fact that articles by Sarkar frequently appear in Islamic news outlets. Then again she could just be a typical scumbag journalist who knows that the more outrageous and salacious a story is, regardless of its veracity, the better it sells, and that the best-selling controversies are always the ones that involve both religion and sex.

But the preponderance of circumstantial evidence is on the side of the possibility that Sudeshna Sarkar has sold her journalistic soul to Jesus. In support of that explanation I now present brief snapshots of some of Sarkar's closest colleagues. Those described below are other reporters who, like Sarkar, work for a rabidly fundamentalist Christian "news" service called Compass Direct. This is a very straightforward propaganda shop specializing in the Orwellian narrative that the world's largest, wealthiest, most powerful, and most intolerant religion is actually the poor oppressed victim of worldwide "persecution". (It is also worth mentioning that in addition to Compass Direct, Sarkar also frequently writes for another Christian "news" service called "Ecumenical News International", which is supported by a coalition of Christian groups including the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the World Student Christian Federation.)

It should also be mentioned that Compass Direct stories often appear without providing the name(s) of whoever it was that actually wrote the story, and also that the Compass Direct website provides vanishingly little information about the reporters who work for them, and no information whatsoever about who actually runs Compass Direct. But a little googling yielded information on the following list of Christian soldier/journalists:

David Miller was described as a "senior correspondent" for Compass Direct in this 2005 "profile" at the Sun Sentinel; his job title is given as "managing editor" according to this 2004 piece from The Free Republic, and the same title is found also in this piece from 2003 in the Sun Sentinel. In the 2003 piece Miller is quoted as follows: "Ministry groups interested in religious freedom need to know what's going on in the world, but we've also found that some officials in the U.S. government are interested." Miller studied at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Here is Asbury's Mission Statement: "Asbury Theological Seminary is a community called to prepare theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled men and women to evangelize and to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world through the love of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father."

Richard Nyberg, was at the time "a correspondent for Compass Direct news service" according to the byline here (2004). For the most part, Nyberg plays his cards fairly close to his chest, as far as speaking publicly about his personal religious views, but in 1999 he wrote a sympathetic, indeed openly enthusiastic, article on "Church Planting" (link). That piece was written clearly from an insider's perspective, and it was produced exclusively for "World Pulse" an organization dedicated to "Providing Evangelism & Mission News, Information and Analysis." Nyberg currently works for USAID in Vietnam. Despite being a US government agency, USAID has extremely close ties with Christian missionary groups, especially World Vision, Catholic Charities, and Samaritan's Purse, as well as with the US military and the CIA.

Barbara G. Baker is a "correspondent for Compass Direct" according to the byline here (2001); and also this 2006 byline (Turkey). Her LinkedIn profile describes her as "Middle East Bureau Chief of Compass Direct." It also lists her alma mater as George Fox University, about which one can read, on their website: "In keeping with our mission of Christian higher education, all employees – faculty, administration and staff – are committed Christians."

Peter Lamprecht is described as a "Compass Direct correspondent" in this piece (2006). He is listed on the "Who We Are" page of the Continental News website, where it is stated that "The mission of Continental News is to spread the Christian News [that is, the Gospel] through contemporary means of communication .... to pursue this mission, Continental News collaborates with many journalists in United States newspapers and with others around the world."

Alex Buchan 1997 byline (Vietnam). An ardent Christian: see his Where Revival Ends (1997), in which Buchan writes unambiguously as a Christian whose cup of missionary zeal clearly overfloweth, especially when the subject is "outpourings of the Holy Spirit".

Sarah Page The Christian Post 2010 byline, here's another, two from 2009 here, and one from July 2011 here, and one from August 2011 here. She is a missionary in Laos working with The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), along with her husband James Zwier: link. Also, here is a page about James and Sarah and their missionary activities in Laos, hosted at the CRWRC website.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barbara O'Brien joins in the smear campaign against Nepali Buddhism

Barbara O'Brien, a Buddhist blogger for About.Com, is now fully on board with the ongoing international internet smear campaign against Nepali Buddhism. This smear campaign consists of simply repeating over and over again the baseless allegation that a Nepali Buddhist nun "faced expulsion" after she was raped. (Here is a link to O'Brien's recent contribution to the smear campaign.)

The most important thing to know is that nothing of the sort ever happened. Sadly it is true that a young Nepali nun was savagely raped by five men on the night of June 24, and that this nun is still struggling to recover emotionally and physically from the assault. But not one Buddhist organization or Buddhist official in Nepal (or anywhere else in the world) has ever said that this rape victim should be expelled from the nunnery in which she has trained for many years. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. Both the nunnery and the Nepal Buddhist Federation have stated unambiguously that she will be returned to the nunnery as soon as she is sufficiently recovered, and that her status as a nun has never been in doubt.

O'Brien claims that she believes these allegations because "a number of different reporters working for different media and independently of each other give pretty much the same version of what happened," and, therefore, according to O'Brien, "that’s probably about what happened."

But when I challenged O'Brien in the comments section of her blog to name three different journalist from three different media organizations who had all independently supported the allegation about the expulsion of the nun, O'Brien suddenly decided to close the comments section!

She could name only one "journalist", it turned out. And who might that be? None other than Sudeshna Sarkar, of course!

If you want to know more about the truth behind this smear campaign, look at these recent posts:

This blog has moved back to blogspot and will most likely remain here. That is all.

The bottom line is that I was somewhat hesitant about moving EGREGORES to wordpress, but I now have no reservations whatsoever about moving it back to blogspot. Issues include (1) they way wordpress fucked up old posts that were migrated, especially images and blockquotes, (2) wordpress' editor is even worse than blogspot's, which I didn't think was possible, (3) lack of flexibility (for instance you can't even look at, let alone edit, the html unless you pay $$$ for the priviledge), (4) more and better widgets are easily available on blogspot, etc.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Who is Sudeshna Sarkar? Is there a right-wing Christian agenda behind the smear campaign against Nepali Buddhism?

An interesting pattern emerges when one looks into the journalistic oeuvre of Sudeshna Sarkar. Please recall that Sarkar is the Kathmandu based reporter who first broke the story that a Nepali Buddhist nun was "facing expulsion" after having been raped. In her original story, Sarkar had claimed that "15 Buddhist organisations" in Nepal had issued a joint statement declaring that as a result of having been raped, the victim "had lost 'her religion' and could be no longer regarded as fit to be a nun." There was no truth to this claim, but Sarkar did not let that small matter stand in the way of her smear campaign to malign Nepali Buddhism. (For background, please refer to Chronology of a Smear Campaign, and also Sudeshna Sarkar's Journalistic Jihad Against Nepali Buddhism.)

Which raises the question: why? Part of the answer might lie in the fact that Sarkar, as it turns out, has been a frequent contributor to a right-wing Christian "news" service called "Compass Direct". Instead of trying to describe this propaganda outfit, I'll let them describe themselves:
Compass Direct: News from the Frontlines of Persecution
Compass Direct News is a news service dedicated to providing exclusive news, penetrating reports, moving interviews and insightful analyses of situations and events facing Christians persecuted for their faith .... As Christian persecution continues to intensify worldwide, you need a source that can provide the most accurate, up-to-date information available, and Compass Direct News is that source."
In addition, Sarkar has also written at least a half-dozen stories since the Spring of 2010 for another Christian "news" service, "ENI News", based in China.

There is no direct evidence, that I know of, that Sarkar is herself a Christian. But for whatever reason, her writings have proven quite popular with, and apparently useful to, the Christian "missionaries" who are committed to the eradication of all religions other than their own.

CompassDirect.Org articles by Sudeshna Sarkar:

(a Christian news service based in China) articles by Sudeshna Sarkar:

Other articles of interest by Sudeshna Sarkar:

Sudeshna Sarkar articles from last few days:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Koenraad Elst on "Hindu Activism Outside the Sangh"

I really cannot adequately express my admiration for this essay by Koenraad Elst: Hindu Activism Outside the Sangh Parivar

Hindus today make up, by far, the largest religious community on earth to have successfully resisted the combined agression of Islam, Christianity, and Communism. We must include Communism in that list, because had it not been for the Communist takeovers in China, North Korea, and Southeast Asia, our world would be home to hundreds of millions of additional Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, and practitioners of even more ancient shamanic/animist/polytheistic religious traditions (and also home to that many fewer atheists, agnostics, and other people with "no religion" or who are "non-religious"). Meanwhile, in India itself, Communism's enfeebled South Asian cousin, Nehruism, has done all it can (which is fortunately very little) to bring about the eradication of Sanatana Dharma.

The people of Bharat (one of the ancient names for "India") first encountered the Sword of Allah well over a thousand years ago, and by the 18th century, the Islamic Mughal Empire ruled nearly all of the Indian sub-continent. European Christians were also on the scene by the 16th century. The Portuguese used their artillery to destroy Buddhist and Hindu temples, and in the year 1600, the Holy Father in Rome approved (after years of lobbying by the Jesuits) the establishment of a branch office of the Inquisition in the Indian city of Goa.

But despite the worst that the monotheists (and their Nehruite allies) have been able to do, the percentage of people who identify their religion as "Hindu" in India today is higher than the percentage of people who identify as "Christian" in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain!

And yet when we look away from the abstractions of history and demographics and instead cast our gaze upon Hinduism "on the ground" as a social/political force in contemporary India (and the wider world), the story is not quite so inspiring. Fortunately, Koenraad Elst has done us all a favor by looking deeply into the matter and as a result he has provided us with a clear-eyed and unsparing analysis of both (1) "the RSS man" , that is, "the Sangh" (the public "organized" face of Hindu activism, especially RSS/Sangh Parivar), and (2) as per the title, "Hindu activism outside the Sangh" as well.

Despite pulling no punches about the modern state, and recent history, of Hindu activism, Elst is able to convincingly argue for an uplifting and optimistic perspective. He even speculates that a very likely scenario is for "the Sangh" itself to gradually and organically be transformed into a movement that lives up to the proud heritage of Hindu resilience and resistance, and, more importantly, that builds upon that heritage to ensure that Sanatana Dharma will not merely survive, but thrive and grow.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sannion shows us once again why he is so brilliant like that

Surprise! It has something to do with cock:

Theology of the cock

"If the worst thing you can say about Zeus
is that he’s got a perpetual hard-on –
well, so fucking what?!?"

"Detentions reflect growing Chinese influence in Nepal"

Hey kids, remember back in '08 when Nepal became all free and equal and democratic and stuff because the poor benighted masses had finally risen up and thrown off the yoke of Asiatic Despotism? You know, just like the Chinese masses had done back in '49?

Oh. Wait. Did someone say China?

"Detentions reflect growing Chinese influence in Nepal"

According to the above report by Radio Free Asia and Mikel Dunham (the link goes to the full story at Dunham's website), Nepalese security forces have recently implemented a major crackdown on the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal. This crackdown was directly related to the recently concluded visit of a high-level 60-member delegation from the People's Republic of China, to check in and see how things are going in their new vassal-state.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sudeshna Sarkar's Journalistic Jihad Against Nepali Buddhism

Sudeshna Sarkar is the Kathmandu based journalist who grabbed the world's attention last month by "reporting" that a 21 year old Nepali Buddhist nun was "facing expulsion" because, due to her having just been brutally raped by five men, she was no longer a virgin. Obviously, if such a thing were true it would be a genuine outrage.

The only problem is that there is no evidence to substantiate Sudeshna Sarkar's allegations. And it seems that now, finally, Sarkar has at least tacitly admitted to making it all up.

Sarkar's latest redaction of the story appeared yesterday (August 16) in a piece, under the title "Gangraped Buddhist nun faces new ordeal in Nepal". This was picked up by several news outlets, sometimes with Sarkar's name attached to it, sometimes only being credited to the Indo-Asian News Service, IANS. Her name is given on the byline for the piece as it appears at MSN India, at IndiaNews.Com, at Yahoo News, at GreaterKashmir.Com , at KeralaNext.Com, and at TwoCircles.Net. But Sarkar's name is not found attached to the same article at the Asian Age, the Deccan Chronicle, and the Gulf Times.

And isn't it odd that the story does not appear at all in the Times of India, which so prominently published Sarkar's original allegations?

Recall that when Sudeshna Sarkar first "broke" the phony story about the nun's purportedly impending expulsion, the headline was brutal and direct: "Gangraped Nepal nun now faces expulsion from nunnery". In the body of that story, Sarkar claimed that "15 Buddhist organisations said that as a result [of being raped], she had lost 'her religion' and could be no longer regarded as fit to be a nun." Sarkar also "quoted" an official of the Nepal Buddhist Federation, Norbu Sherpa claiming that Sherpa referred to the raped nun as a "damaged vessel", and that she "can no longer be considered ordained."

There followed (see Chronology of a Smear Campaign) a steady barrage of other articles rehashing and elaborating on the same allegations. Some of these were by Sarkar, many appeared with no byline other than a wire service acronym, and some were by other "journalists" who simply regurgitated Sarkar's lies. Some stories claimed that there was a raging "debate" among Nepali Buddhists over the fate of the nun. Other stories claimed that the raped nun had already been "expelled", but that now Nepali Buddhists were "debating" whether or not to "reinstate" her. Another bogus story line told the harrowing tale of brave Nepali Buddhists who "supported" and were "rallying around" the nun against the evil Buddhist establishment who wanted to expel her, or possibly had already done so. None of it was true. Not one word.

Now, over a month after first making those false allegations, Sarkar is still writing about the nun, but she has become strangely silent on the matter of the supposed "expulsion" (the expulsion that never happened and that was never "debated"). And she also makes no mention of any statement by "15 Buddhist organizations" (a statement that never existed, issued by organizations that Sarkar, in true McCarthyite style, never named). And Norbu Sherpa's name, the one name that Sarkar did name, is now nowhere to be found.

Instead, in her August 16 article, Sarkar buries what is left of her smear campaign in the final paragraphs of the story. And even then all she will allow herself is a feeble passive-voiced vague-to-the-point-of-meaningless insinuation that "there was a debate over whether the raped nun was still eligible to remain a nun and her future became uncertain." Who debated? What did they say? When did they say it? How, when, and where was the debate settled? And: What is it that is supposedly "uncertain" about the nun's "future"? For that matter, is anyone's future ever "certain"?

Since Sarkar took it upon herself to cynically transform an unimaginably heartbreaking personal tragedy into a propaganda war against Buddhism, it is only fair to wonder what her motivation might be, and, in particular, what her own views on religion are. I have no way of knowing whether or not she is a Muslim, but her writings often appear in news outlets owned and run by Muslims and/or targeted at Muslim readers, such Al Jazeera, Greater Kashmir, Two Circles, Gulf Times, and The Muslim World Review. Her stories often focus on various social causes, and she takes a special interest in purported instances of "abuse" and/or "oppression" perpetrated in the name of Hinduism and Buddhism. But despite frequently writing for a Muslim audience, and frequently writing about what she views as religious injustices, one never encounters anything written by her concerning social problems, abuses, or oppression associated with Islamic societies. Or, wait a minute, maybe that is precisely why her writing is popular with Muslim publications? Hmmmm. At any rate, she certainly has a special hatred for the Dharma, and has no qualms about fabricating outrageous falsehoods in order to further her anti-Buddhist Jihad.

And for all I know Sarkar might be a Maoist, or a fellow traveler, engaged in the glorious struggle against the opiate of the people. And if she isn't already on the Maoist payroll, she should seriously consider sending them a bill. And if you honestly think Maoism has nothing to do with this, check out this latest bit of news from today's People's Daily: Nepal Reaffirms Support for China.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chronology of a Smear Campaign (Updated and Expanded)

"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, from idle chatter: This is called right speech."
[Samyutta Nikaya, 45.8]

On the night of June 24, a 21 year old Nepalese Buddhist nun was raped by five men. Over two weeks after the rape occurred, allegations appeared that a number of Buddhist organizations in Nepal had called for the rape victim to be expelled from her nunnery because she was no longer a virgin. Although no evidence has ever been presented that any such call for expulsion was ever made by any Nepalese Buddhist organization, this false allegation spread quickly on the Internet arousing outrage around the world.

Below is a list of 29 links (significantly expanded from this earlier list) to news stories and other material related to the rape of the Nepali nun and the subsequent outrage over the false claims about her "expulsion". If one reads through all of the following, one will not find one shred of evidence that at any time was any attempt made to "expel" the rape victim from the Sangha of Buddhist nuns in Nepal. It looks, sadly, as if the world failed to learn anything from "the smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud", and "we will be greeted as liberators". The more a falsehood is mindlessly repeated, it seems, the more it is believed.

It is interesting to note that the most recent version of the story, found in the Asian Age article published just today (August 16, see the last item on the list below), does not claim that the nun was expelled, but does still claim that there was a "debate" about expelling her, and that her future as a nun is "uncertain", although both of those claims are directly contradicted by the public position taken (nearly a month ago) by both the nunnery in question and by the Nepal Buddhist Federation (see their statement of July 19 below, and also the July 22 Nepali Times article also listed below).
  1. Times of India (TOI), Sudeshna Sarkar June 27:
    Buddhist nun gangraped in Nepal bus

  2. My Republica (English language website based in Nepal), Prem Dhakal, July 6:
    Gang-raped nun's family seeks justice

  3. TOI, Sudeshna Sarkar, July 11:
    Gangraped Nepal nun now faces expulsion from nunnery

  4. Sujato's Blog (a blog from Australian Buddhist monk Anthony Best), July 12:
    Gangraped Nepal nun now faces expulsion from nunnery

  5. TOI, Times News Network (TNN), July 16:
    Debate grows in Nepal about gangraped nun (reprinted at Buddhist Channel website here)

  6. My Republica, Prem Dhakal, July 17:
    TUTH refused to treat raped nun

  7. Nepal Blogs, Matthew Frazer, July 18:
    In Support of Raped Nepali Nun

  8. Sujato (Anthony Best) again, July 18:
    Nuns and Rape: some links and a message

  9. Nepal Buddhist Federation, July 19:
    Official Press Release

  10. Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, July 19:
    Letter to Nepal Buddhist Federation

  11. TOI, TNN, July 21:
    Gangraped Nepal nun likely to get re-admission in nunnery

  12. The Times of Iran, Bismillah News Agency, July 21:
    Gangraped Nepal nun likely to get readmission to nunnery

  13. Gulf Times, IANS (Indo-Asian News Service), July 22:
    Support grows for raped nun

  14. GlobalPost.Com, Jason Overdorf, July 22:
    Gang-raped Buddhist nun likely to be reinstated

  15. Nepali Times, Dewan Rai, July 22:
    "I wanted to murder whoever did this to my daughter"

  16. Aid Netherlands, Shreedeep Rayamajhi, July 22:
    A national level hospital denies admission to a rape victim

  17. Syracuse Buddhism Examiner, Harold Mandel, July 24:
    Gang raped Buddhist nun may come back to nunnery

  18. Inter Press Service, Sudeshna Sarkar, July 28:
  19. Religious Practices Oppress Women

  20. OneWorld South Asia, Sudeshna Sarkar, Aug 2:
    Nepal: Oppressing women in the name of religion

  21. GreaterKashmir.Com, Sudeshna Sarkar, Aug 3:
    Nepal's Buddhist nuns rally behind rape victim

  22. My Republica, Prem Dhakal, Aug 3:
    Ani Choying takes gang-raped nun under her wing

  23. TOI, TNN, Aug 3:
    Nepal's 'singing nun' comes to gangraped nun's rescue

  24. News Today (Bangladesh), [no byline given], Aug 4:
    Religious practices oppress women

  25. UK Independent, Andrew Buncombe, Aug 5:
    Nepalese chant star gives refuge to nun shunned after gang rape

  26. My Republica, Surendra Phuyal, Aug 8:
    Where even a Buddhist nun isn't spared (reprinted at the Buddhist Channel website here)

  27. Salt Lake City Deseret News, Michael De Groote, Aug. 9:
    Raped Buddhist nun's lost virginity might mean she no longer can serve (Also reprinted at the Buddhist Channel website here)

  28. Twin Cities Star Tribune, Susan Hogan, Aug 10:
    Buddhist Nunsense: East vs. West over gang rape

  29. The Interdependence Project, Lawrence Grecco, Aug 15:
    The Importance of Following a Noble Path Over a Narrow One

  30. The Asian Age, IANS (Indo-Asian News Service), Aug 16:
    Gangraped Buddhist nun faces new ordeal in Nepal

Wherever possible in the above list, the author is given by name. In some cases the only attribution available is to a wire service, such as TNN or IANS, and in other cases the proper attribution is to an organization.

It is clear that a single "journalist", Sudeshna Sarkar, has been the main source of the endlessly repeated and baseless "vituperative attacks" (a term found in the Reuters Handbook of Journalism) against Nepalese Buddhism. But this smear campaign would not have been nearly so effective without the enthusiastic support of the Buddhist Channel and two Western Buddhist bloggers: Matthew Frazer and Anthony Best (aka, Sujato).

There is a great deal of repetition in what one finds at the 29 different links listed above. But that repetition (and especially what gets repeated and what doesn't) is essential to how propaganda works. We choose what we want to hear, what we want to believe, and what we repeat to others. The truth is in there, but it is invisible to those who only look on the surface.

"I wanted to murder whoever did this to my daughter." (Nepali Times story on raped Buddhist nun)

"I wanted to murder whoever did this to my daughter."

(Follow this link to the original story at the Nepali Times website)

FROM ISSUE #563 (22 JULY 2011 - 28 JULY 2011)

[BY HER SIDE: Krishna Tamang tends to his daughter at the Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. She hasn't spoken to anyone since the rape a month ago. Photo by BIKRAM RAI.]

Krishna Tamang had taken his cattle out to graze on a meadow near his farm in Bhojpur in eastern Nepal. Dark clouds were gathering over the mountains beyond, and he had a sense of foreboding. At 2 pm, a neighbour ran up to tell him his daughter had fallen sick in Chainpur. Krishna borrowed some money and headed off with his brother.

Krishna says he felt like he had fallen off a cliff when police in Chainpur told him what had happened to his daughter. A 21-year-old apprentice at the Laligurans Rimthen Chholing Boudha Gumba in Dilkharka, the nun had been raped repeatedly by the driver and crew of a bus she was travelling in. They also stole the Rs 130,000 she was carrying that her sister Kabita Tamang, who lives in India, had sent home for constructing a new house in the village.

She was travelling from Khandbari to Dharan on 24 June, but a flooded river on the way forced the bus to make an unscheduled night stop. All the lodges in the village were full because of stranded passengers.

Although some passengers offered to share their room, the crew convinced her to spend the night in the bus. At 11pm, Drona Rai, sleeping in a bus parked nearby heard a scream and went to help. He was beaten up by the rapists.

The next morning there was commotion as word spread about what had happened. Members of the Limbuwan Volunteers were alerted, they caught the culprits in a place called Kharang and handed them over to Chainpur police.

By the time Krishna reached Chainpur the next day his daughter had been taken by relatives to Paramount Hospital in Siliguri in India after initial treatment at a local health centre. It took Krishna two more days to reach Siliguri and be by his daughter's side.

"She was in a terrible state," Krishna recalls, "she was still unconscious in the ICU. I wanted to murder whoever did this to my daughter."

When her family couldn't pay and the bills had exceeded INR 200,000, the Siliguri hospital evicted her. The family flew her back to Kathmandu on 15 July, but the Teaching Hospital refused to admit her despite request from members of National Women's Commission.

"We were told that the government hospital does not take this kind of case," recalls the nun's uncle, Surya Tamang. "We returned got to a relative's house at 9pm after waiting at the hospital all day."

After much lobbying with politicians, Teaching Hospital finally took the nun in the next day. Doctors told us she is suffering from extreme post-traumatic stress disorder. "She needs psychological and social support at this time more than medical treatment," Vidya Dev Sharma of the hospital's psychiatry wing, said.

The nun's sister, Kabita, watches as she tosses and turns in bed, moaning. Her bed is near the door of a large ward full of patients. She covers her face with her blanket every time someone walks past. Kabita says her sister hasn't spoken a word to her family, or to the doctors. She says: "Look at what those demons did to her, a young woman who has devoted her life to god."

The family is now worried about her future. Although there were initial reports that the nunnery where she studied in Pharping had excommunicated her, the Nepal Buddhist Federation (NBF) has denied this. "I was misquoted in the Indian media, she was never expelled, there is no provision in Buddhism for excommunication," said the NBF's Norbu Sherpa.

The Nepal Tamang Lama Ghedung, an organisation of Tamang Lamas, has said it will reinstate the nun in the local Gumba in Sankhuwasabha once she gets well. Palden Lama of the Ghedung said: "Her celibacy was broken against her will, Buddhist philosophy is about protecting, rescuing and rehabilitating the victim instead of adding to the pain."

The Sankhuwasabha District Court has sent all five accused to jail for further investigation. In Khandbari, government lawyer Krishna Bhandari says the court has recommended compensation and medical expenses for the victim. "The court will give its verdict once the legal procedures are complete. All we need now is statement of the victim," Bhandari told Nepali Times.

Two members of the bus crew, bus driver Raj Limbu and conductor Bhuwan Gurung have already confessed to the crime, while the rest have pleaded not guilty. The maximum punishment is a jail term for up to 10 years, but since there is also a robbery charge, they could get an additional six year sentence.

However, the bus syndicates in Sankhuwasabha are lobbying with the local administration to have the accused released. They brought transportation to a halt in four districts in eastern Nepal this week to put pressure on the administration.

Donation inquiries should be sent to:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chronology of a Smear Campaign

If one reads through all of the following, one will not find one shred of evidence that at any time was any attempt made to "expel" Ani Karma Lhamu from the Sangha of Buddhist nuns in Nepal. Nevertheless this baseless allegation has been swallowed whole by a number of people around the world, including many Buddhists.

Didn't we learn anything from "the smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud", and "we will be greeted as liberators"??
  1. Times of India (TOI), June 27:
    Buddhist nun gangraped in Nepal bus

  2. TOI, July 11:
    Gangraped Nepal nun now faces expulsion from nunnery

  3. Sujato's Blog (a Buddhist blog from Australia), July 12:
    Gangraped Nepal nun now faces expulsion from nunnery

  4. TOI, July 16:
    Debate grows in Nepal about gangraped nun (reprinted at Buddhist Channel website here)

  5. Sujato again, July 18:
    Nuns and Rape: some links and a message

  6. Nepal Buddhist Federation, July 19:
    Official Press Release

  7. Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, July 19:
    Letter to Nepal Buddhist Federation

  8. TOI, July 21:
    Gangraped Nepal nun likely to get re-admission in nunnery

  9. UK Independent, Aug 5:
    Nepalese chant star gives refuge to nun shunned after gang rape

  10. My Republica (English language website based in Nepal), Aug 8:
    Where even a Buddhist nun isn't spared (reprinted at the Buddhist Channel website here)

  11. Salt Lake City Deseret News, Aug. 9:
    Raped Buddhist nun's lost virginity might mean she no longer can serve (Also reprinted at the Buddhist Channel website here)

  12. Twin Cities Star Tribune, Aug 10:
    Buddhist Nunsense: East vs. West over gang rape

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don't Believe The Lies About The Raped Nepali Nun

On July 19th, the Nepal Buddhist Federation issued a press release concerning the horrifying case of a Buddhist nun from Nepal who was gang raped while traveling in India. The Press Release was in response to claims made in the Times of India that the rape victim was to be expelled from her nunnery because of the attack.

The Nepal Buddhist Federation statement makes it absolutely clear that the rape victim is still a nun and will be returned to her nunnery as soon as she is physically able to do so (she is hospitalized and still recovering from the attack).

The following are three direct quotes from the NBF statement (full text here):

1. "Nepal Buddhist Federation has never said that she is expelled from the nunnery."

2. "The members of the NBF personally met her and her relatives in the hospital where her condition is still very unstable. NBF also met the authorities of the Karma Samtenling Nunnery at Pharbing, which she left a year ago when she went to India to pursue further studies. She is not expelled from the nunnery."

3. "NBF in collaboration with our allied Association Tamang Lama Gedung Sangh and the concerned nunnery is taking steps to accommodate her back into the nunnery when she recovers and discharged from the hospital. NBF will do everything in its power to help restore the dignity of the nun and continue to fight for justice."

A number of Buddhist bloggers have seized upon this story with a great deal of hysterical self-righteous outrage, but without stopping to look into the facts. What is it about some Buddhists that they are so eager to believe the worst about the Dharma and the Sangha?

The original story in the Times of India (link) claims that "15 Buddhist organisations said that as a result [of being raped], she had lost 'her religion' and could be no longer regarded as fit to be a nun."

The article, does not provide any official statement from even a single Buddhist organization, let alone 15! There are quotes from one official of the NBF (the only "Buddhist Organization" actually named in the article), and if one looks at what he says, it is clear that he at no point says that the victim will be expelled from her nunnery. And in the official statement from the NBF it is made clear that the official quoted in the article was not speaking on behalf of the NBF (nor is it stated directly in the article that he was speaking in an official capacity: this was merely insinuated by the Times of India "journalist").

Although the Times of India "journalist" could not be bothered to substantiate his false allegations against Nepalese Buddhists with proper sourcing, he (surprise!) did mange to get a proper quote from a Catholic priest who was only too happy to comment on this non-story.

Anyone with a modicum of critical reading and thinking skills should have seen through this transparent smear campaign instantly. Instead, Buddhist themselves have moronically repeated these lies over and over again on blogs and online discussion forums.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011



The incidence of muckers continues to maintain its high: one in Outer Brooklyn yesterday accounted for 21 victims before the fuzzy-wuzzies fused him, and another is still at large in Evanston, Ill., with a total of eleven and three injured. Across the sea in London a woman mucker took out four as well as her own three-month baby before a mind-present standerby clobbered her. Reports also from Rangoon, Lima and Auckland notch up the day’s toll to 69.
[The Hipcrime Vocab, by Chad C. Mulligan]


Background: ‘mucker’ is an Anglicisation of ‘amok’. Don’t believe anyone who says it’s a shifted pronunication of ‘mugger’. You can survive a mugger, but if you want to survive a mucker the best way is not to be there when it happens.
[You're an Ignorant Idiot, by Chad C. Mulligan]


Out there: all those millions of people . . . Like looking up at the sky and wondering which of those suns shine on beings like ourselves. Christ: when did I last look up at the night sky?

He was suddenly appalled These days, a great many people never left their homes at night except for some specific purpose, when they could call a cab to the door and expose themselves for no longer than it took to cross a sidewalk. It wasn’t inevitably dangerous to wander the night streets of the city – the hundreds of thousands who did still do so were proof enough of that. In a country of four hundred millions there were two or three muckers per day, yet some people acted as though they couldn’t get past the next corner without being attacked.
[Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner, pp. 128-129]


“In my country,” Jogajong said, “a man who thinks like you goes voluntarily to join his ancestors. Or used to in the old days. Now, the usurper Solukarta has copied your Christian habits and closed that way of escape. Which is a reason why we have so many muckers, I think.”
[Stand On Zanzibar, p. 576]

Mencius, Mencius, Mencius (Three posts on the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius)

I decided to take these three posts from my wordpress blog (don't ask) and move them over here (that is, to my blogspot blog) combined into a single post:

1. Mencius on the debt ceiling crisis
(originally posted at wordpress on August 1, 2011: link)

Mencius had an audience with King Hui of Liang.
The king said, “Sir, you did not consider a thousand li too far to come. You must have some ideas about how to benefit my state.”

Mencius replied, ”Why must Your Majesty use the word ‘benefit’? All I am concerned with are the benevolent and the right.

“If Your Majesty says, ‘How can I benefit my state?’
your officials will say, ‘How can I benefit my family,’ and officers and common people will say, ‘How can I benefit myself.’

“Once superiors and inferiors are competing for benefit, the state will be in danger.

“When the head of a state of ten thousand chariots is murdered, the assassin is invariably a noble with a fief of a thousand chariots, When the head of a fief of a thousand chariots is murdered, the assassin is invariably head of a subfief of a hundred chariots. Those with a thousand out of ten thousand, or a hundred out of a thousand, had quite a bit. But when benefit is put before what is right, they are not satisfied without wanting it all.

“By contrast there has never been a benevolent person who neglected his parents or a righteous person who put his lord last.

“Your Majesty perhaps will now also say, ‘All I am concerned with are the benevolent and the right.’ Why mention ‘benefit?’ “

From: Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2d ed. (New York: Free Press, 1993), pp. 22-23. (online here:


2. Mencius, Jerry Coyne, and Chögyam Trungpa on Basic Goodness
(originally posted at wordpress on August 1, 2011: link)

Mencius said, ”Everyone has a heart that is sensitive to the sufferings of others. The great kings of the past had this sort of sensitive heart and thus adopted compassionate policies. Bringing order to the realm is as easy as moving an object in your palm when you have a sensitive heart and put into practice compassionate policies. Let me give an example of what I mean when I say everyone has a heart that is sensitive to the sufferings of others. Anyone today who suddenly saw a baby about to fall into a well would feel alarmed and concerned. It would not be because he wanted to improve his relations with the child’s parents, nor because he wanted a good reputation among his friends and neighbors, nor because he disliked hearing the child cry. From this it follows that anyone who lacks feelings of commiseration, shame, and courtesy or a sense of right and wrong is not a human being. From the feeling of commiseration benevolence grows; from the feeling of shame righteousness grows; from the feeling of courtesy ritual grows; from a sense of right and wrong wisdom grows. People have these four germs, just as they have four limbs For someone with these four potentials to claim incompetence is to cripple himself; to say his ruler is incapable of them is to cripple his ruler. Those who know how to develop the four potentials within themselves will take off like a fire or burst forth like a spring. Those who can fully develop them can protect the entire land while those unable to develop them cannot even take care of their parents.
[From: Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, 2d ed. (New York: Free Press, 1993), pp. 22-23. (online here:]

Jerry Coyne said (more recently): “One cold Chicago day last February, I watched a Federal Express delivery man carry an armful of boxes to his truck. In the middle of the icy street, he slipped, scattering the boxes and exposing himself to traffic. Without thinking, I ran into the street, stopped cars, hoisted the man up and helped him recover his load. Pondering this afterward, I realized that my tiny act of altruism had been completely instinctive; there was no time for calculation.

“We see the instinctive nature of moral acts and judgments in many ways: in the automatic repugnance we feel when someone such as Bernie Madoff bilks the gullible and trusting, in our disapproval of the person who steals food from the office refrigerator, in our admiration for someone who risks his life to save a drowning child. And although some morality comes from reason and persuasion — we must learn, for example, to share our toys — much of it seems intuitive and inborn.”

Chögyam Trungpa said: “Buddhist psychology is based on the notion that human beings are fundamentally good. Their most basic qualities are positive ones: openness, intelligence and warmth. Of course this viewpoint has its philosophical and psychological expressions in concepts such as bodhichitta (awakened mind), and tathagatagarbha (birthplace of the enlightened ones). But this idea is ultimately rooted in experience-the experience of goodness and worthiness in oneself and others. This understanding is very fundamental and is the basic inspiration for Buddhist practice and Buddhist psychology.

“Coming from a tradition that stresses human goodness, it was something of a shock for me to encounter the Western tradition of original sin. It seems that this notion of original sin does not just pervade western religious ideas. It actually seems to run throughout Western thought as well, especially psychological thought. Among patients, theoreticians and therapists alike there seems to be great concern with the idea of some original mistake, which causes later suffering-a kind of punishment for that mistake. One finds that a sense of guilt or being wounded is quite pervasive. Whether or not such people actually believe in the idea of original sin, or in God for that matter, they seem to feel that they have done something wrong in the past and are now being punished for it.”

As is so often the case with Atheists these days, Jerry Coyne makes the glaringly ignorant ethnocentric mistake of believing that he is arguing against all religions, when in fact he is arguing against Christianity. Mencius, a Confucianist scholar who lived well over two millennia ago, and Chögyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who died in 1987, both affirm that “basic goodness”, to use Trungpa’s term, is inherent in human nature. So we don’t “need God” to be good according to the deeply religious views of Mencius and Trungpa.

[For even more on Chögyam Trungpa, and others, on Basic Goodness, see this old post: Wonderful World, or, the Pagan Value of Basic Goodness.]


3. So who is this Mencius fellow?
(originally posted at wordpress on August 2, 2011: link)

Anyone familiar with the great Chinese philosopher Mencius could not help but think of him if they happened to read Jerry Coyne’s July 31 USA Today piece As atheists know, you can be good without God. That’s because Coyne opens his essay with a personal anecdote illustrating “the instinctive nature of moral acts and judgments,” which was the defining theme of Mencius’ philosophy (and which Mencius famously illustrated in a way highly reminiscent of Coyne’s anecdote).

For those not familiar with Mencius, and/or those who know a little and wish to learn more (a category in which I place myself) a very handy resource is the article on Mencius in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (the entry is by Kwong-Loi Shun, Chair Professor of Philosophy at Chinese University of Hong Kong, and he is also author of Mencius and Early Chinese Thought). And for anyone not familiar with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it is to wikipedia as Buffalo mozzarella is to Cheese Whiz.

Here is how Professor Shun begins his article:

Mencius (fourth century B.C.E.) sought to defend the teachings of Confucius (sixth to fifth century B.C.E.) against other influential movements of thought, especially those associated with Mozi (fifth century B.C.E.) and Yang Zhu (fifth to fourth century B.C.E.). He is probably best known for the view that “human nature is good”, a view of human nature on the basis of which he defended the Confucian ideal and developed an account of the self-cultivation process. His view was subsequently challenged by Xunzi (third century B.C.E.), another major Confucian thinker, who defended the alternative view that “human nature is evil”.

Confucian thinkers of the Han (206 B.C – 220 C.E.) were influenced by the teachings of both, but by the late Tang (618–907), influential intellectuals such as Han Yu (768–824) came to regard Mencius as the true transmitter of Confucius’ teachings. This view was shared by Confucian thinkers of the early Song (960–1279), and Zhu Xi (1130–1200) included the Mengzi (Mencius) as one of the Four Books, which became canonical texts of the Confucian tradition. Mencius came to be regarded as the greatest Confucian thinker after Confucius himself, and his teachings have been very influential on the development of Confucian thought in the Song, Ming (1368–1644), Qing (1644–1912), and up to modern times.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rajan Zed: Some Negative Reviews

Here is a list of Zed-skeptic material that I have been able to track down on teh interwebs (if you know of any others, please send them my way, or post your own list, but please let me know!):

*Please note that I almost didn't post the item from Sepia Mutiny (thus the asterisk) because the author, "amardeep", inexplicably insinuates some comparison between Rajan Zed and Aseem Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation. But see Shukla's very polite and substantive response in the comments section here.

And now here are excerpts from two of the above listed sources:

(1) The first excerpt is from "Senate opens with its first Hindu prayer", an article from the February 22, 2008 Seattle Post Intelligencer, reporting on a Zed performance before the the Washington State Senate. This article is linked to and quoted in "Rajan Zed on a promotional spree", linked to in the above list.

Rajan Zed, who calls himself "a prominent Hindu chaplain and Indo-American leader" from Reno, Nev., sought and received permission to deliver the traditional opening prayer.

Wearing saffron-colored clothes and displaying the tilak, a traditional religious mark, on his forehead, Zed spoke in Sanskrit and English and uttered "om," regarded by Hindus as "the mystical syllable containing the universe."

Washington was the latest of six Western state senates that Zed has opened in Hindu prayer, each reportedly for the first time, in the past eight months. He also was the first Hindu to open the U.S. Senate in prayer, which drew protests from the gallery and has been viewed nearly 300,000 times on YouTube.

His appearance in Olympia did not result from an invitation from Washington's Hindu population, a community of at least 25,000 by some estimates. Leaders of three Seattle-area temples said they knew of Zed from news accounts or not at all.

"I don't know how he advertises himself or how he gets access to these things," said Shyam Oberoi, secretary of the board of trustees of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell.

Swami Bhaskarananda of the Vedanta Society of Western Washington in Seattle said Zed sounds like "someone ambitious" whose appearance might be "politically motivated -- he wants to be known."

(2) This next one is from "Is Rajan Zed Promoting Hinduism Or Damaging Hinduism?", linked to in the above list:

According to Rajan Zed’s website “Rajan is an acclaimed Indo-American and Hindu statesman who has taken up Hindu, interfaith, religion, environment, Roma and other causes all over the world”. I have lived in the United States for a very long time and I have never met any Indian who would consider Rajan Zed as an “acclaimed Indo-American and Hindu statesman”. The Universal Society of Hinduism that he leads is virtually unknown and till date very little information is available on what this society has achieved since its inception.

His website has a lot of photographs of him with some politicians and minor celebrities. It reminded me of the photographs you will see behind the cashier of many Indian restaurants and grocery stores in the United States. In the last few years he has made a lot of statements on behalf of Hindus and Hinduism that are way off base and portrays the religion as one that cannot be criticized, made fun of or subject to any sort of interpretation.