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Hinduism Today, Jan/Feb/Mar 2003

Hinduism Today, Jan/Feb/Mar 2003

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Hinduism Today, Jan/Feb/Mar 2003
Hinduism Today, Jan/Feb/Mar 2003

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January/February/March, 2003



Affirming Sanatana Dharma and Recording the Modern History of a Billion-Strong Global Religion in Renaissance

Dada J.P. Vaswani: Hindu of the Year 2002
indra sharma

January/February/March, 2003 • Hindu Year 5104 Chitrabhanu, the Year of Varied Splendors


Feature Story: Celebrating the Prominence of Hindus in the Multicultural United Kingdom 18 Television: It’s a Potent Trend: New TV Channels in India Showcase Religion 30 Transition: Swami Satchidananda Attains Mahasamadhi at Age 87 39 Hindu of the Year: Dada J.P. Vaswani Earns Our 2002 Hindu Renaissance Award 50 Sri Lanka: Nallur Temple Festival Draws Hundreds of Thousands as Peace Talks Begin 54 India Holds a Rare Renewal Ceremony 58 Marriage: How a Russian-born Jewish Woman and an Indian-American Immigrant Man Made it Work 62 Books: Scripture, Hindu Basics, Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and More 65

In My Opinion: Sheila Gayatri Evani’s Story of Two Months in Malaysia Helping 30 Orphans 9 Publisher’s Desk: In a World Where Men Are Labeled Good or Evil, the Hindu Vision Helps 10 From the Vedas: Sacred Verses on Freedom and Liberation 16 Letters 12

Insight: The Twelve Principal Beliefs of Saivism, Illustrated, with a Concise Glossary 42 Kerala: Meet the Champions of Kerala’s Waning Dramatic Art Forms 66 Temples: Famed Arunachaleswara Temple in South

Diaspora Quotes & Quips 6 Digital Dharma 14 86

Letters to the editor, subscription and editorial inquiries should be sent to Hinduism Today, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii 96746-9304 USA. E-mail: letters@hindu.org. HINDUISM TODAY (issn# 0896-0801), January/February/March, 2003, Volume 25, No. 1. Editorial: 1-808-822-7032 (ext. 234); subscriptions: 1-808-822-7032 (ext. 233) or (in USA) 1-888-464-1008, e-mail: subscribe@hindu.org; advertising: (USA) 1-888-464-1008, (overseas) 1808-822-7032 (ext. 233). All-department fax: 1-808-822-4351. HINDUISM TODAY is published quarterly by Himalayan Academy, a nonprofit educational institution; Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Founder; Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Publisher; Paramacharya Palaniswami, Editor-in-Chief. USA subscriptions: us$35/1 year, $65/2 years, $95/3 years, $155/5 years $1,001/lifetime. Write for international rates. Also distributed through major subscription agencies worldwide. Call 1-808-822-7032 for bulk orders (ext. 233) or permission to publish a HINDUISM TODAY article (ext. 227) or fax 1-808-822-4351. Printed in USA.

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Nallur Kandaswami Temple Festival
Nearly every Jaffna peninsula citizen attends at least part of Nallur Temple’s 25-day annual festival, Sri Lanka’s largest Hindu celebration. Tens of thousands outside the temple’s main entrance watch as the great ropes which will pull Lord Murugan’s giant chariot unfurl across the crowd. Everyone hopes to at least touch the rope, if they can’t find a spot to actually help pull. This year’s festival commenced on the opening day of long-awaited peace talks in Thailand working to end Sri Lanka’s 19-year-long civil war. . . . Page 54

b a b y p h o t o s j a f f na

am pleased to welcome you to the free digital edition of Hinduism Today magazine. It is the fulfillment of a vision held by my Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder of Hinduism Today, to bring the magazine’s profound Hindu teachings to the widest possible audience. The text of each issue has long been available on the Web, right back to 1979, but without the photographs and art. Now you have here the entire contents of the printed edition, with all photos and art. Plus, it is interactive—every link is live; click and you go to a web page. You can participate in the magazine in a number of ways, accessed through buttons on the right. And you can help support this free edition in two ways: make an online contribution (even a small one); patronize our specialized advertisers. Explore the resources here, enjoy our latest edition and e-mail us if you are inspired.

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An Audio Library Of Inspired Talks


Shoha Kirti Parekh treads new ground as she educates Miss America talent judges in the refinements of India dance

Gulf Coast Worship

Ganesha’s Big New York Party


t was ganesha chaturthi 2002 at New York’s famed Hindu Temple in Flushing. For nine days from September 7 through 15, thousands turned up from all around the world to join in this favorite festival of Hinduism’s wisest, friendliest, luckiest, most jovial and famous God. Ganesha was the star of the show. There was little doubt about that. For the entire nine days, a continuous homa (fire ceremony) was performed while a special mantra for the Deity was chanted 400,000 times. Highly

trained festival musicians were flown in from Singapore to perform. More than 35,000 food packets were distributed. During each of the nine days, the Ganesha murti (statue) was newly and creatively decorated: one day with peanuts, another with tomatoes. On the day the children helped, He was artistically adorned in popcorn (see photo below). The festival culminated with a grand procession of the Deity through the streets of Flushing.

t seems there is no place where the world’s most ancient faith is not practiced. Hindu women give sanctified food offerings into the ocean after ritual worship at a temporary banyan tree shrine in Panama City on June 24, 2002, during the Vath Purnima festival. (Below) Happy Hindus in Panama pray for the same husband for the next seven lives


Lord Siva dances in a carving from the Champa dynasty at one of the temples of My Son in Vietnam where Hinduism once flourished

The Indochina Connection kingdom of champa in which flourished from the second 15th centuries, was strongly influenced by Hinduism. The temples to theconstructed, vietnam,was used as a sacred language, Hindu were Sanskrit

Indian art was idolized and Hindu Deities, especially Siva, were worshiped. In fact, Lord Siva was regarded as the founder and protector of the Champa dynasties. After the fall of Champa, most Hindus became Muslim, yet continued the practice of some Hindu rituals and customs.

Miss Delaware’s Dance a possible Delaware put on quite a show in the final competition for A nticipatingbeauty honor.turn as miss america, miss America’s highest Although Shoha Kirti Parekh,
24, did not win, she was first to feature the classical Indian dance of bharata natyam in a major show of talent. Indian ladies have won six Miss Universe and Miss World crowns in the last seven years. No Indian-Americans have yet become Miss America.

Chinmaya Expands in West Indies


wami tejomayanda, leader of the chinmaya mission worldwide, personally opened another mission branch in Trinidad on October 2, 2002, with a lecture based on the Bhagavad Gita. The Chinmaya Mission has been especially active in Trinidad over the past four years, with primary concentration on the country’s youth. Currently they teach Sanskrit language, Vedic chanting and the traditional performance of puja (ritual worship), often organizing special youth camps for classes.

Mama cow and calf seek tender loving care in Pennsylvania

For the Care of the Cows hen dr. sankar from his professorship a few he established Cow Sanctuary Wheartfeltyears back, sastri retiredthe Lakshmihis 42 acres, he as a service to his Hindu faith. Today on
(Above) When Ganesha was decorated with popcorn by children during Chaturthi Celebrations, He looked like the God Himself bemedaled in jewels. (Inset) The same Deity redecorated in flowers. (Left) Ganesha being paraded through the suburbs of Flushing. provides a few cows—famously sacred to Hindus—a little solace and protection from slaughter. Anyone interested in helping Dr. Sankar can contact him at 1515 Ridge Road, Bangor, PA 18013. Phone: 610-599-8824. E-mail: sankar1@yahoo.com
clockwise from top left: richard vogel/associated press, alberto lowe, paras ramoutar, dr.sankar sastri

Chinmaya’s new Mission House at Calcutta No. 1 Road, McBean, Trinidad, will feature a variety of classes and activities for youth


clockwise from top left: laura farr/zuma press, dr. uma mysorekar

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Tamil Television Goes Global
he usa now has a 24-hour tv channel just for Tamils. It’s called TVI and is already well-established in Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, throughout Europe and elsewhere around the world wherever the Tamil diaspora has spread. With a satellite receiver, a dish antenna and a $20 monthly fee, anyone can get what TVI boldly proclaims to be “the best the Tamil-speaking world has to offer.” Whether it be movies, made-for-TV serials, world news, sports, medical education, computer instruction, beauty tips, cooking clues, family counseling or interviews with artists, movie stars and political leaders—even guided temple tours, complete with pilgrimage routes—TVI says it has it all. For more information please go to Tamil movies are now available in the USA for just 81 cents a day from TVI, a http://www.tviusa.net/ 24-hour television channel created just for Tamils

Who’s Teaching Whom?
How two months with 30 children changed my life
HINDUISM TODAY was founded January 5, 1979, by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. It is a nonprofit educational activity of Himalayan Academy with the following purposes: 1.To foster Hindu solidarity as a unity in diversity among all sects and lineages; 2. To inform and inspire Hindus worldwide and people interested in Hinduism; 3. To dispel myths, illusions and misinformation about Hinduism; 4. To protect, preserve and promote the sacred Vedas and the Hindu religion; 5. To nurture and monitor the ongoing spiritual Hindu renaissance; 6. To publish a resource for Hindu leaders and educators who promote Sanatana Dharma. Join this seva by sending letters, clippings, reports on events and encouraging others to subscribe.
Founder: Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami Publisher: Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami Editor-in-Chief: Paramacharya Palaniswami Publisher’s Aide: Paramacharya Ceyonswami Deputy Editor: Acharya Kumarswami Managing Editor: Sannyasin Arumugaswami Graphics Director: Sannyasin Natarajnathaswami Production Manager: Sannyasin Sivakatirswami Managing Ed’s Aide: Sadhaka Jivanandanatha Advertising and Subscriptions: Sadhaka Jothinatha Correspondents: Choodamani Sivaram, Bangalore; Rajiv Malik, Prabha Prabhakar Bhardwaj, Madhu Kishwar, Delhi; Mangala Prasad Mohanty, Orissa; V. S. Gopalakrishnan, Kerala; Basudeb Dhar, Bangladesh; Archana Dongre, Los Angeles; Lavina Melwani, New York; Dr. Hari Bansh Jha, Nepal; Anil Mahabir, Paras Ramoutar, Trinidad; Dr. Devananda Tandavan, Chicago; V. G. Julie Rajan, Philadelphia; Rajesh Jantilal, South Africa; Tara Katir, Hawaii. HPI Staff: Tara Katir, Janaka Param, Toshadeva Guhan, Vijay Pillai, Easan Katir, Adi Alahan, Chandra Sankara, Shama Kumaran, Lavanya Saravan, Rajkumar Manickam, Arjan Daswani. Sanskritist: Dr. P. Jayaraman, New York. Artists: A. Manivelu, S. Rajam. Cartoonists: M. Arumugam, Bob Thaves. Photo Contributors: Thomas L. Kelly, Stephen P. Huyler, Dinodia, Amit Kumar, Dev Raj Agarwal, Phal S. Girota, Tony Stone Images, Photobank, Gordon Wiltsie, Indivar Sivanathan. Web Masters: Nitya Nadesan, Sadhunathan Nadesan. Distribution: USA: Ingram Periodicals, New Leaf, EBSCO Subscription Services, OneSource, Ubiquity. Europe: SWETS Subscription Service. Malaysia and Singapore: Sanathana Dharma Publications. India: Central News Agency Limited, Delhi. Mauritius: CODIP. Trinidad: Pandit Narendra & Ashwinee Ragoonanan. Printer: Banta Publications Group, Kansas City, MO


Keeping the Faith in Style
urope’s largest hindu temple is finally open for business in Hamm, West Germany. Following much anticipation and two years of construction, the Sri Kamadchi Ampal Temple was inaugurated in grand ceremony on July 7, 2002. The temple priest-in-residence, Siva Sri Paskarakurukkal, says that 300 devotees visit the temple daily. Many of these are Tamils relocated in Germany as a result of Sri Lanka’s long ethnic strife. Saraswathy from Sri Lanka offers prayer before entering Europe’s largest Hindu temple mon efforts in and around the Kancheepuram district, just south of Chennai. The best news is they plan to keep performing this selfless service. CURCUMIN IS A KEY INGREDIENT in many Indian curries and is the compound that gives turmeric its yellow tone. Long known as an effective home remedy in fighting infection and improving digestion, it is now being tested for use in treating radiation burns and even colon cancer. Researchers claim evidence suggests that members of the Asian community who use the spice regularly in cooking are better able to resist colon cancer. MISS AMERICA GOT IN TROUBLE for publically advocating abstinence—but not for long. “I will not be bullied,” said 22-year-old Erika Harold, the winner of the 2003 crown, when pageant officials “strongly suggested” she keep quiet on the principle of sexual purity. The officials later backed down, withdrawing their suggestion. For years the pageant has tried to improve the image of Miss America to include brains as well as beauty. Now that they have succeeded, they must deal with the results.


THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT HAS approved spending us$88 million for the further preservation and development of India’s famous Ajanta Ellora Caves, already under renovation. The Japanese financial aid will also be used to improve other famous Indian monuments like the Elephanta Caves. THE WORLD’S LARGEST SOLAR cooking system was set up in September of 2002 at the popular Tirumala Tirupati temple in

Hyderabad, India. The system, which will save the temple an estimated us$35,000 a year, is designed to cook 30,000 meals a day with steam generated by solar energy. ONE COUPLE FROM CHENNAI HAS spent the past 15 years cleaning and renovating more than 50 South Indian temples. Inspired by the words of Adi Sankara, B. Rajesh, his wife Rajani, their family and friends have become famous for their uncom-

am an ordinary hindu girl, born and raised in Canada. I have been blessed with everything I ever really needed. My family is extraordinary, and they love me very much. They instilled in me positive values and a deep appreciation for our Hindu heritage. I also have good friends who have always supported me in my personal and academic pursuits. Last year, I entered law school on my way to the kind of career I have always dreamed of. Yet with all of this, I felt something was lacking. As a law student, I have chosen a career that is by definition adversarial. It is predicated on the principle of the survival of the fittest and can be emotionally and spiritually draining. Even in school, I have gotten a taste of what to expect. It scares me. I don’t want to become just another unfeeling lawyer in an unfeeling profession. No career is worth sacrificing your principles or your soul. For this reason, I felt this last summer would be better spent building character rather than a resume. So I spent two months working with thirty children at an ashram in Malaysia. Little did I know how much more I would learn from them than they would learn from me. The ashram is a foster home for underprivileged Hindu children. Its mandate is to not only provide for the material and physical needs of the children, but also to instill in them religious and spiritual values. I was asked to expect no luxuries and told I would live, sleep and eat with the children. I was also warned that, although the children were basically good-hearted, most of them came from backgrounds of neglect and abuse and had behavioral problems. Understandably, I was nervous when I first arrived in the North, not far from Thailand. I was prepared for the worst. Imagine my relief when I found myself in a spotless, modern building, featuring a well-lit worship hall with rooms for recreational classes and community religious functions. The two large bedrooms for the children—one for boys and another for girls—were well equipped with fans, mosquito netting, comfortable beds, inh i n d u i s m t o d ay

door plumbing and hot water. The children were a far cry from the ragged little delinquents I had expected. They were beautiful, healthy and well-dressed. In fact, many of them were wearing better clothing than I was. From the very beginning, I was touched by their generosity and warmth. It melted my heart that, although I was there to take care of them, they were very often the ones taking care of me. All at once, they were like friends, siblings, guardians and progeny. The biggest problem I had in the ashram was not being able to speak or understand Tamil and Malay, which were the languages most frequently used by the children. Because their facility with English was rudimentary at best, our initial communication was difficult. Yet this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Searching for a way to befriend without words, I recalled something I had read somewhere: “People are not remembered for what they say or do, but for how they make you feel.” This turned out to be a key for me. Slowly, I was able to transcend the language barrier by striving to give and receive feelings of affection. This is not to infer that these young ones were always little angels. They could be loud, rowdy, petulant, manipulative, irrational and impolite. In short, they were children. Yet, I came to understand that even in the worst of situations, they were only crying out for the love and attention that was their birthright but that they had never fully received. In so many ways, my return from Malaysia to Canada was the beginning, not the conclusion, of an incredible journey in mind and spirit. Daily, I discover that who we are is far more important than what we are. I will always be grateful to those 30 Malaysian children who taught me how to love, hope and communicate beyond words. Sheila Gayatri Evani, 24, lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where she studies law and serves the Student Legal Aid Society by helping the poor receive legal aid. In the photo above she is holding ashram resident Thenmali.


above: hinduism today; below: rolf vennenbernd

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Mistakes Are Part of The Spiritual Path
Blunders are, in truth, opportunities to improve our behavior and thereby make spiritual progress
ince septemer 11, there have been increased statements by Western leaders condemning some men as being evil and extolling others as being good. This, of course, is not the Hindu perspective. But since it is so common, it is good to take time to reflect on the Hindu point of view regarding good and evil. For those who are parents it is good to discuss the Hindu view with their children, to make sure our and our children’s thinking on the matter remains uninfluenced by Western thought. The Hindu viewpoint is that all of mankind is good, for we are all divine beings, souls created by God. In fact, we are all one family, “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam—the whole world is one family.” Each soul is emanated from God, as a spark from a fire, on a spiritual journey which eventually leads back to God. All human beings are on this journey, whether they realize it or not, and the journey spans many lives. If all are on the same journey, why is there such a disparity between men? Clearly, some act like saints and others act like sinners. Some take delight in helping their fellow men while others delight in harming them. The Hindu explanation is that each of us started the journey at a different time. Thus some are at the beginning of the spiritual path, while others are near the end. In other words, there are young souls and there are old souls. Our paramaguru, Jnanaguru Siva Yogaswami, in speaking to devotees, described life as a school, with some in the M.A. class and others in kindergarten, and to each he gave lessons according to the level of advancement. Man’s nature can be described as three-fold: spiritual, intellectual and instinctive. It is the instinctive nature, the animal-like nature, which contains the tendencies to harm others. Men who are expressing those tendencies are young souls who need to learn to harness this force. The Hindu approach to such a man is not to label him evil, but rather to focus on helping him learn to control his instincts and improve his behavior. Gurudeva, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, said insightfully: “People act in evil ways who are not yet in touch with their soul nature and live totally in the outer, instinctive mind. What the ignorant see as evil, the enlightened see as the actions of low-minded and immature individuals.” Important insights into the soul’s maturing process can be gained by looking at the three shaktis of God Siva—iccha, the power of desire; kriya, the power of action; and jnana, the power of wisdom—which are also the three powers of the soul. We first have a desire, and when the desire becomes strong enough we act. In young souls the action may be ill-conceived, even against dharma. For example, a man wants a computer, so he steals one. Money is needed, so he robs a bank. The soul is often caught up in repeating a cycle of similar experiences, moving back and forth from desire to action, desire to action, until the needed lesson is learned. In the case of the adharmic action of stealing, eventually he will learn the lesson that this is not the best way to acquire possessions. This learning is the jnana shakti, wisdom, causing his behavior to improve. This process is the same for dharmic actions. Say we are helping out as a volunteer at the temple, teaching children’s classes once a month. We like the feeling of helping others in a meaningful way and so decide to help out every week and even participate in regular meetings to plan the classes. We are doing a selfless action, and the reaction it has on us is to feel more inner joy. The jnana is to resolve to do even more service and thus feel more joyful. We have improved our behavior. A recent segment on television described an innovative prison in California. As we all know, the usual approach is to regard jail simply as a time punishment by confinement for a number of years. Under this approach, many of the prisoners released repeat the same crimes and return to jail again and again. Their behavior shows no improvement. In fact, they may learn the criminal’s craft while serving their sentence. In this innovative prison program, the warden had initiated a regimen that included counseling, yoga and other therapeutic activities to improve the behavior of prisoners so they would not repeat their crimes and return to jail. The program is showing an excellent success rate. For all of mankind, no matter where one is on the path, spiritual advancement comes from improving one’s behavior. Said another way, it comes from learning from one’s mistakes. Unfortunately, this process is often inhibited by the idea that somehow we are not
A. manivel

The soul’s effulgence: In a secluded forest grove this concentrated devotee worships a small stone image of God. Around him we see his aura—the soul’s natural radiance—glowing as a circle of golden yellow light as a result of his purity and earnest devotion. after another. Each experience can be looked at as a classroom in the big university of life if we only approach it that way. Who is going to these classrooms? Who is the member of this university of life? It’s not your instinctive mind. It’s not your intellectual mind. It’s the body of your soul, your superconscious self, that wonderful body of light. It’s maturing under the stress and strain.” Those who are parents can teach their children that making mistakes is not bad. Everyone makes mistakes. It is natural, and simply shows we do not understand something about the matter at hand, or we have been inattentive. It is important for parents to determine what understanding the child lacks and teach it to him without blame or shame. When parents discipline through natural and logical consequences, children are encouraged to learn to reflect on the possible effects of their behavior before acting. Such wisdom can be nurtured through encouraging self-reflection, asking the child to think about what he did and how he could avoid making that mistake again. A common first reaction to having made a mistake is to become upset, to become fretful or angry about it, or if it is a serious mistake to become deeply burdened and even depressed. That is a natural first reaction, but if it is our only reaction, it is not enough. To progress, we need to cope with the emotional reaction to the action and move on to the learning stage. A good second reaction to a mistake is to think clearly about what happened, why it occurred and find a way to not repeat the mistake in the future. Perhaps we were not being careful enough, and simply resolving to be more circumspect next time will prevent the problem from recurring. Perhaps we lacked some important knowledge, and now we have that knowledge, which we can simply resolve to use next time. Perhaps we created unintended consequences that caused significant problems to us or others. Now that we are aware of the consequences, we certainly won’t repeat the action. Those who are striving to live a spiritual life are self-reflective and learn quickly from their blunders. In fact, one way to tell a young soul from an old soul is to observe how quickly he cognizes his error and learns not to repeat the same mistake. A third remedy may be needed if the misstep involved other people. Perhaps we have hurt someone’s feelings or created a strain between us. A direct apology can fix this if we know them well. If we are not close enough to the individual to be able to apologize, a generous act toward them can often adjust the flow of feelings back into a harmonious condition. For example, hold a small dinner party and include them among the guests. A fourth remedy may be needed if one commits a major misdeed: for example, if we did something that was dishonest. Even if we have resolved to not repeat the misdeed and apologized to those involved, we may still feel guilty about the transgression. By performing some form of penance, prayaschitta, we can rid ourselves of the sense of feeling bad about ourself. Typical forms of penance are fasting, performing 108 prostrations before the Deity or walking prostrations up a sacred path or around a temple. All of this does not mean we don’t punish those who act in evil ways. Societies and nations must protect themselves with appropriate actions that restrain wrongful behaviors. But even while punishing those who act with malicious intent, let us remember they, too, are souls on the journey of spiritual maturity and discovery. Let the focus be not on categorizing men as good or evil but on encouraging all to improve their behavior, by applying the appropriate remedies and sanctions.

supposed to make mistakes, that mistakes are bad. We grow up being scolded for our mistakes by our parents. Teachers ridicule students when they make mistakes. Supervisors yell at workers when they make a mistake. No wonder many adults feel terrible when they make a mistake. To spiritually benefit from our mistakes, we need a new attitude toward them. Gurudeva described mistakes as “wonderful opportunities to learn.” He compared learning from life’s experiences to progressing through the classes at a university. He proclaimed: “Life is a series of experiences, one


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Wisdom Born of 9/11 Madness
as we strive to gather the intellectual significance and cause of 9/11, there is a subtle truth to be learned, however bitter the teacher, emerging from our reflections of depth. May the seed of belief in each of us allow the harmony of tolerance to grow, knowing every path to God is sacred. May there be no room for violence within civilized mankind, holding each life form on this planet sacred. Such is the dawn of wisdom’s need to learn from September 11th.
Narayani Nandhi Santa monica, USA ∫ AAnanda27@aol.com

liquor. Can any lawyers challenge these publications and make a law that all such articles or movies be approved by a Hindu governing body? It is so sad. They are not making fun of Islam, Muslim Imams, Churches or Fathers, but happily make a mockery of Hinduism. What respect can we instill in our children when they grow up seeing these?
Radhakrishna ∫ rk_me2@hotmail.com

Spare Us Deaths, Scandals!
please do not slip below the cnn level of scandalized news reporting, as you have done in your Amarnath report! (Amarnath Yatra Ends; Eleven Pilgrims Killed. Source: The Hindu, HPI, August 26, 2002) In the same span of days there were many more deaths in Africa, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, New York. Why concentrate on such secondary and bad things? Rather, select news on how many had the vision of the Lord, their bliss and brotherhood, etc. Your news is supporting British brand journalism. We are expecting real news from you and not death counting or scandals without end.
Shaasa A. Ruzicka ∫ amritasyaputra@excite.com

Priests’ Decline, Whose Fault?
regarding the trend of the decline of temple priests (Trends, Oct/Nov/Dec, 2002), the reasons are financial and social. We Hindus treat the priests like parasites, pay them a paltry sum and often insult them publicly and privately. I did some volunteer work as a priest and personally experienced contempt for the priests. Even some swamijis of various Hindu organizations poke fun at the priests. We forget their contributions. All of our Veda mantras, Agamas, Puranas and Smritis would have been forgotten but for the painstaking memorizations by generations of priests. Many temples refuse to sponsor immigration papers for the priests. So they work long hours for a pittance for a just a few months to support their family living in far-off places. Some priests change their vocation to survive. The work of a Hindu priest is tiring, both mentally and physically. Try doing simple archanas for an eight-hour shift. You will find how tiresome it is. My ancestors were priests, but none of the present generation descendants are priests. Curious, I inquired about the reason for the abandonment of the ancestral position. It is not just the money but the social outlook. Many would-be priests are turned off by the constant ill treatment and social attitude. We are all responsible for this decline and should do the needful to stop it.
Dr. Chittur V. Radhakrishnan ∫ cvrjaya@hotmail.com

for a redress of grievances. Every single time the Christian Right has tried to introduce any kind of “religious freedom amendment” in this country, the amendment introduced would have had the effect of watering down the First Amendment so that the Constitution will favor Christianity above all other faiths. The simple fact is, children already have the right to voluntary prayer in our schools. Occasionally they are harassed by school administrators or teachers who don’t know any better, particularly if they practice a minority religion. But there is legal redress for this. What is prohibited in our country is the state sponsorship of religious practice in the schools: i.e., teachers leading prayer before lunch, coaches leading prayer before a football game (coaches are teachers, too), or principals leading prayer over the PA system during morning announcements.
Dana Seilhan Bartlett, tenessee ∫ dana@kajunhippie.net

cording to the Vedas, it is not heredity that determines who is a brahmin, but rather, sattvic character and noble actions.
Mrs. Jumuna Vittal Ph.D. ∫ Mvittal@aol.com

behind the scene, and trust that peace will prevail forever in that war-torn country.
Thiru Satkunendran, Toronto,Canada ∫ thiru.satkunendran@sympatico.ca

are slowly losing Hinduism to conversion to other religions, such as Christianity and Islam. Before I read this magazine, I thought Hinduism was lost. Now I realize that the future of Hinduism is great.
Nickesh Rajandran ∫ rnickesh@yahoo.co

Working for Peace from Within
your article on the world council of Religious Leaders in Bangkok, (Diaspora, Oct/Nov/Dec 2002) reminded me that it was our Gurudeva, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, who first spoke of peace and was rightfully awarded for that at the U.N. He addressed the Buddhist monks present at U.N., from Sri Lanka, of the urgent importance of total peace in Sri Lanka. Two years later, in June, the World Council of Religious Leaders met in Thailand, and in September Norway initiated peace talks between the two warring factions of Sri Lanka, in no other place than Thailand! Personally knowing that Gurudeva was totally committed to seeing that peace is a permanent reality in Sri Lanka, I am humbled by his work

Resplendent, Bold, Triumphant!
the issue on gurudeva’s life is simply resplendant (In Remembrance, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami 1927-2001, Apr/May/ Jun 2002). Very bold and trumpetic in terms of information and visual imagery. Myself and my family do respectfully bow to all of those who have worked hard to create this issue. You have done a remarkable job. May God bless you in abundance.
kesav mallia, india ∫ jayaakesav@yahoo.com


✔ The correct date (People, Oct/Nov/Dec 2002) of Amba Caldwell’s Saiva initiation was March 31, 2002, and her initiation name is “Sadyojata” and not “Satyojata.”
Letters with writer’s name, address and daytime phone number, should be sent to: Letters, Hinduism Today 107 Kaholalele Road Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA or faxed to: (808) 822-4351 or e-mailed to: letters@hindu.org Letters may be edited for space and clarity and may appear in electronic versions of HINDUISM TODAY.

Great Future for Hinduism
i am an indian from malaysia and bought HINDUISM TODAY from a nearby Indian grocery shop. The magazine is very good and for the first time I saw Hinduism on a global scale. The Indians in Malaysia


Bali’s Gandhi Canti Dasa
the founder of bali’s gandhi canti Dasa Ashram (Spirited Gandhian Ashram Flourishes in Indonesia, June 1989, http:// www.hinduismtoday.com/1989/06/1989-0607.html), Ibu Gedong Bagoes Oka, is now bed-ridden with lung cancer at age 81. She has done so much very amazing and vitally important work in Indonesia, working for the women of Indonesia and spreading Gandhi’s message. The ashram is at risk of possibly being sold for its high value as beach-front property. We need help to make sure Ibu’s work continues after her body dies. Contact the many travelers whose lives the ashram changed. Alert followers of Gandhi or other groups whose work is in line with the ashram’s. We might be able to find a few skilled people (preferably women) who would desire working at the ashram.
Meghan Lewis ∫ meghan@livingwisdomschool.org

Help HINDUISM TODAY Serve Hindus Better
Ensure the growth and perpetuation of HT for tomorrow’s Hindus
atguru sivaya subramuniyaswami, our founder, at one of his last Publisher’s Desk meetings before his Mahasamadhi said to his swamis and the staff of Hinduism Today: “We need to think of the future. Hinduism Today is the best and it should be fully endowed, just like National Geographic. There are people out there who will help ensure that Hinduism Today lives forever. We can make a difference and present the Sanatana Dharma at the highest level. So we have started the Hinduism Today Editorial Trust Fund as one of the many funds in the Hindu Heritage Endowment. And you should tell people about this in Hinduism Today itself.” What Does It Take to Make a Magazine? Even though the editorial team of sannyasins produce the magazine as a service, without salaries, there are many costs involved. Writers, photographers, researchers, artists, Banta Press, Missouri: HT printed again, after much work and expense designers, computers, printers, scanners, air and train fare, Malik to Mumbai from Delhi to collect the TV story; we flew taxis, hotels, meals, film, books, software, Internet sites and Lavina Melwani to London. These were budget trips, to be servers, communications costs for global networking with assure, but a big step for us. Only in covering the last two Kumsociates—that is what it takes to make a well-crafted magabha Melas have we been able to send our reporters and phozine. Fortunately, Hinduism Today has been able, just barely, tographers on multi-day assignments to get what may have month-to-month, to stand on its own, with the loyal support of been the best Kumbha Mela reports in the world. We have the subscribers, advertisers who believe in the mission of Hinpeople at ready, but we need the funds. A two-million dollar duism Today and generous patron subsidies for technology. endowment safely invested will yield five percent a year, or us$25,000.00 per issue. That would be a good first step. One Let’s Make It the Best! Our ability to report the news is limited by budget constraints. generous man has already granted life insurance policies to If we had more money for our stories, we could send our rethe Hinduism Today Editorial Trust. If you believe in our porters and photographers to distant places to collect the most mission, donate today. Write us, email letters@hindu.org or go significant stories. For example, for this issue we sent Rajiv to http://www.hheonline.org/funds/htdf_htet.html.

✔ Good point. Next year we plan to send our own reporter. Still, we cannot be afraid to share the realities facing Hindus.

We Need Help in Europe
i’m very happy to see that there is a Hindu magazine for Hindus in the world. My name is Pirapa and I live in Denmark in Europe. I’m a 20-year-old Tamil Hindu from Sri Lanka. Here in Europe many Tamil Hindus are converting to other religions, like Jehova’s Witnesses, Jesus sects, etc., and I’m very unhappy about that. But many people like me like our religion very much, and there are also many temples here in Europe. I have a dream to make a Hindu magazine, where I can tell people about Hinduism, our traditions, horoscopes, articles, questions and answers, explanations about why we do things as we are doing, etc. But I need help.
Pirapa N., Denmark ∫ suriyan@sol.dk

Teach Non-Brahmins Vedas, Too
while it is encouraging to see that brahmin girls are being initiated into the upanayana ceremony, (Starting Vedic Studies Oct/Nov/Dec 2002), it is disheartening that non-brahmin boys and girls are still excluded. Though changes have been taking place and innumerable barriers of so-called “traditions” are breaking down within the privileged caste, why not initiate the nonbrahmin boys and girls into this upanayana ritual? In ancient times this ritual was open to all, as is stated in all the four Vedas. Later on the Smriti, like the Manu Smriti, confined it to a few, who became the privileged group, just by inheritance of their birth. Ac-

Take Some Action, Please!
can you do some organizing to renovate all the Hindu temples and palaces in India? We should wake up to the fact that our future children will only see ruins or pictures of these temples and once-upon-atime opulant Hindu kings’ palaces. Secondly, many books, magazines and papers are being printed, especially in Kerala, where missionary activities tarnish Hinduism and Hindu Gods and saints. TV programs, dramas and movies are made showing Hindu Gods smoking cigarettes as well as drinking

School Prayer Only by Choice
i read your piece about the proposed prayer-in-school amendment (Diaspora, Jan/ Feb/March 2002). I wanted to write to clear up a few misconceptions. Though not a lawyer, I take a special interest in American church-state issues. The First Amendment covers more than “free speech.” In truth it covers five areas: the right to free practice of religion, free speech, a free press, peaceful assembly and petitioning the government

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Frank and Ernest


T H AV E S , R E P R I N T E D W I T H P E R M I S S I O N

“What does God Do? He writes Poetry. What has He written? A single verse—the uni-verse.”
Swami Veda Bharati O foolish one, do not thank God for loving you: He cannot do otherwise. Thank Him for having ignited in your heart love for Him. Let it grow, from more to more, until it burns away all self, only God remains. Dada J.P. Vaswani, Hindu of the year for 2002 The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour. Japanese Proverb We live very close together. So, our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if we can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. Dalai Lama If one wants to abide in the thought-free state, a struggle is inevitable. One must fight one’s way through before regaining one’s original primal state. If one succeeds in the fight and reaches the goal, the enemy, namely the thoughts, will all subside in the Self and disappear entirely. Ramana Maharshi A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble. Their parents knew that if any mischief occurred in their village, their sons were probably involved. The boys’ mother heard that a pundit in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her sons. The pundit agreed, but asked to see them separately. So, the mother sent her eight-year-old first, in the morning. The pundit, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?” The boy’s mouth dropped open, but he made no response. So the pundit repeated the question in an even sterner tone, “Where is God!!?” Again the wide-eyed boy made no attempt to answer. The pundit raised his voice and bellowed, “WHERE IS GOD!?” The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dove into a closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him hiding, he asked, “What happened?” The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, “We are in BIG trouble this time, dude. God is missing, and they think WE did it!” Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself. All the wonders you seek are within yourself. Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) Physician and essayist Real charity doesn’t care if it’s deductible or not. As the sun, the eye of the whole world, is not sullied by the external faults of the eyes, so the one inner soul of all things is not sullied by the sorrow in the world, being external to it. Krishna Yajur Veda, Katha Upanishads 5.11
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A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Temper gets us into trouble; pride keeps us there. We seem always ready to pay the price for war. Almost gladly we give our time and our treasure—our limbs and even our

lives—for war. But we expect to get peace for nothing. Peace Pilgrim In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons. Herodotus Nothing has been left undone, either by man or Nature, to make India the most extraordinary country the Sun visits on his round. Nothing seems to have been forgot-

ten, nothing overlooked. Mark Twain Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself. Chief Tecumseh, (1768–1813), one of the greatest leaders of the Shawnee American Indians A small boy is trying very hard to pick up a heavy cabinet. His father comes into the room and asks, “Are you using all your strength?” “Yes, of course I am,” responds the boy impatiently. “You are not,” says the father, “You haven’t asked me to help you.” The mind is like milk. If you keep the mind in the world, which is like water, then the milk and water will get mixed. That is why people keep milk in a quiet place and let it set into curd, and then churn butter from it. Then that butter can easily be kept in the water. The mind will float detached on the water of the world. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa The Natha Sampradaya has revealed the search for the innermost divine Self, balanced by temple worship, fueled by kundalini yoga, charted by monistic theism, illumined by a potent guru-disciple system, guided by soul-stirring scriptures and awakened by sadhana and tapas. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927–2001)

Dread of Sinful Deeds
Tirukural 202: From evil springs forth more evil. Hence evil is to be feared even more than fire. Tirukural 203: To commit no wrong, even against one’s enemies, is said to be supreme wisdom. Tirukural 205: Do not commit wrongful deeds, claiming to be poor. Such deeds only cause one to be poorer still. Tirukural 207: One can escape from hate-filled enemies, but his own hateful acts will pursue and destroy him. Tirukural 208: As a man’s shadow follows his footsteps wherever he goes, even so will destruction pursue those who commit sinful deeds.


Masculine and Feminine Stones
ifferent stones are either male or female or even neuter, according to V. Ganapati Sthapati, the chief temple architect of San Marga Iraivan Temple being constructed in Hawaii. Male stones give a bell-like sound when struck. Female stones give a softer sound. To test a stone, a 6-inch by 6-inch by 3-feet or longer stone is placed on two wooden blocks and struck. Each quarry usually contains one gender, with few exceptions. In Deity carving, Gods are made with male stones and Goddesses with female stones. In temple construction all load bearing stones, such as beams and pillars, should be male for their strength and density. Each stone is a living entity with its own sound, said Sthapati, and sound is life.

Living your life is a task so difficult, it has never been attempted before. Patience means self-suffering. Mahatma Gandhi When a stone is quarried using dynamite, the molecular structure is shattered, making the stone weak and destroying its life and sound. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. Albert Einstein
a. manivel


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The Goal of Life…Moksha
Pannikar translates Vedic verses on Freedom—Liberation
HE ENTIRE PURPORT OF THE VEDAS IS LIBERation or freedom. Freedom may be interpreted in many ways. It is Brahman, it is atman, it is nirvana. Or it can be said to consist in Being, in Happiness, in Release from all bondage. More numerous still are the ways supposed to lead to it. Right action, true knowledge and real love are the classical ways. Our selection stresses only some features of moksha. The thrust of most of the texts is true to the basic meaning of the word, from the root muc- or moksh-, to loose, to free, release, let loose, let go, and thus also to spare, to let live, to allow to depart, to dispatch, to dismiss, and even to relax, to spend, bestow, give away, to open. There is a climate of simplification, of elimination, of utter freedom and even unconcern, which forms one of the fundamental features of the entire Vedic experience. Not by accumulation and increased concern, but by simplification and unconcern, will Man reach his final destination. The consequences of this attitude are a whole lifestyle.

Beyond the unmanifest, moreover, is the Person, all-pervading, uncharacterized. When a man knows Him, he attains liberation and proceeds to immortality. His form is not in the field of vision. No one is able to see Him with the eye. Apprehending Him by heart, by thought, and by mind, those who know him thus become immortal. When the five organs of perception are still, together with the mind, when the reason does not function—this they aver to be the highest state. This they deem to be yoga— the steady concentration of the senses. Man then becomes pure attention, for yoga is both origin and extinction. katha upanishad 6.4-11 In this great wheel of Brahman, the life and foundation of all, the soul wanders like a swan, thinking himself and the Inspirer to be separate. When grace comes from Him, he attains immortality. This has been praised as the supreme Brahman in which the three-fold reality is established and imperishable. Those who know Brahman within, realizing Brahman and absorbed in Brahman, are released from birth. The Lord encompasses this all, composed of things perishable and imperishable, formed and unformed. The self, a mere enjoyer, suffers without a Lord, but he who knows God is freed from all fetters. Two are unborn, the knower and the ignorant; the Lord and the not-Lord. The one, an enjoyer, is chained to enjoyments; the other, the atman, is infinite, of universal form, nonactive. By knowing the threefold, one also knows Brahman. Perishable is matter; immortal, imperishable the Lord, who, the One, controls the perishable and also the soul. Meditating on Him, uniting with Him, becoming more and more like Him, one is freed at the last from the world’s illusion. The Eternal which resides in the atman should be known. Beyond this there is nothing that needs to be known. The enjoyer, the object of enjoyment, the Inspirer—this has been declared to be the All, the threefold Brahman. As a mirror covered with dust, when cleaned, shines with fresh brightness, so the embodied self is unified on seeing the atman’s true nature, attains its goal and is released from sorrow. He who with the truth of the atman, unified, perceives the truth of Brahman, as with a lamp, who knows God, the unborn, the stable, the One free from all forms of being, is released from all fetters. svetasvatara upanishad 1.6-10,12; 2.14-14

I know that Primordial Man, golden as the sun, beyond darkness. Knowing him a man even now becomes immortal. This is the way to attain him; there is no other. shukla yajur veda 31.18 [Brahman] is grasped in a flash of awakening. Then it is thought that one attains immortality. By the atman one achieves spiritual strength, and by wisdom is found immortality. Wherever he is known, there is truth; wherever not known, ruination. Discerning him in every being, the wise, departing from this world, become immortal. kena upanishad 2.4-5 If here and now one knows him before the decay of the body, then one is prepared to receive a body in the worlds of creation. In the atman one sees as it were in a mirror, in the world of the Fathers one sees as in a dream, in the world of the spirits, as reflection in water, in the world of Brahman, as light and shade. When the wise man knows the sense perceptions—their rising and their setting, each one in separation—and the origin of each, then he grieves no more. Beyond the senses is the mind, beyond the mind, pure intellect, beyond the intellect, the great atman, beyond the great atman, the Unmanifest.


s. rajam

The Vedas are the divinely revealed and most revered scriptures, sruti, of Hinduism, likened to the Torah (1,200 bce), Bible New Testament (100 ce), Koran (630 ce) or Zend Avesta (600 bce). Four in number, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, the Vedas include over 100,000 verses. Oldest portions may date back as far as 6,000 BCE.

Raimundo Panikkar, 82, holds doctorates in science, philosophy and theology. His anthology of verses, The Vedic Experience, excerpted above, is the result of ten years spent in Banaras translating with the help of Vedic scholars.

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christine osborne pictures.

a p / a l i s ta i r g r a n t

How very British: (clockwise from left) Participants in the Hindu Youth Festival 2002 North parade through Preston’s Flagmarket with a small icon of Lord Krishna (on red tray); Prince Charles receives the traditional pottu, red forehead mark, upon his visit to the grand Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden; the youngest generation of this Gujarati family offer sacred lamps in worship at their family’s home shrine

basil sage

Hindus Make a Home In the United Kingdom
A million Hindus, now three and four generations deep, settle in as permanent and valued citizens within the homeland of their former colonial rulers
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B Y L AVINA M ELWANI , N EW Y ORK cores of british school children in maroon uniforms, their blonde and brunet hair shining in the sunshine, swarm through a Hindu temple in Neasden; out in the West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new play, “Bombay Dreams,” is drawing packed houses of Britons of every hue; and the very English House of Commons in the city of London is creating a special in-house curry restaurant so that members can get on with the business of governance—and still get their spicy meal fix, too. Welcome to the new multicultural Britain that seems to be undergoing a metamorphosis before one’s very eyes, its skyline

transformed with the silhouettes of temples, mosques and gurudwaras along with churches. Britain, long the colonizer, is now getting colonized by its former subjects who are bringing heat and color—and spirituality—to its shores. This is the England where Her Majesty the Queen, in her Golden Jubilee Year, has paid her respects at a Hindu temple, duly removing her shoes and proceeding in her stocking feet. Why, even the decorous Victoria and Albert Museum is displaying Bollywood film posters. This was a Britain one just had to see, and the summer of 2002 was reputed to be a real Indian summer in England: Indian films, music, food and fashion were all major influences in the UK and, commissioned by Hinduism Today, this writer hopped a

plane to London to ferret out the real story. Lift-off: It started the moment I boarded the Virgin Atlantic flight at JFK: There were so many Indians on board, it seemed like a mass exodus. When it came to lunchtime, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that a vegetarian meal was routinely offered. I opened the program guide and found there were several Indian films showing on flight, and among the TV programs was the highly popular “The Kumars at 42nd Street,” a popular British sitcom. Landing at Heathrow was another eye-opener—huge groups of Indians coming and going. Even among the airport personnel there were clusters of Indian women dressed in navy blue western uniforms but with flashing eyes and nose pins that recalled the mustard
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fields of the Punjab. Yes, the color of Britain is changing, and brown seems to be a prominent hue. Of course, just like in New York City, my taxi driver turned out to be an Asian and proprietarily pointed out the Desi (Indian) reference points as we drove toward the city. According to the UK Yearbook published by the Office of National Statistics, the Hindu community originates largely from India, although others have come from countries to which earlier generations had previously migrated, such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi. More recently, large numbers have immigrated from Sri Lanka. The population directly of Indian origin numbers 400,000 to 550,000, though some put this figure at close to a million. Census figures to be announced at the end of this year should give a clearer picture. Exploring temples: The very day I arrived, I descended into the London underground, the vast tube railway transport system that runs under the city, to explore. I journeyed to the Highgatehill Murugan Temple, the first Siva temple in London, and the temple visited by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip— their first in the UK. It is also one of the oldest temples in London, initiated in 1965 by a devotee named Sabapathipillai who would get together with friends in humble homes for bhajanas [religious songs]. They decided to start a movement for a Hindu temple in Britain. In 1971 Pillai rented the Black Memorial Hall where about 200 people used to gather on Fridays to pray. This was the beginning of the Britannia Hindu Temple Trust, and the members used to pay dues of us$3.20 a month. In 1979, they took over a dilapidated synagogue, brought in the icon from India and a Hindu priest from Sri Lanka—and created the first Murugan Temple. According to K. Nagarajah, Gurudeva Subramuniyaswami, founder of Hinduism Today, visited it in 1979 and performed puja there. Gurudeva also helped guide the temple in its formative stages. At that time there were just two other temples—the Wimbledon Ganapati Temple and the East Ham Murugan Temple. “So you can imagine how it’s all developed after that,” says Om Prakash Sharma, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples, UK and a trustee of the World Congress of Faiths. “We now have about 150 temples in Britain, and about 70 of them are affiliated to the National Council. The largest is the Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden.” Just like home: (top to bottom) Lord Hanuman gets a delicious offering of fresh vegetables and cooked food at the Hindu temple in Tooting Bec; a paan merchant in Southall does a brisk business; first-class mangoes from this Wembley fruit stall are a favorite with the local Indians

The Highgatehill Temple attracts many Hindus, especially the Tamil communities from India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa and Malaysia. Few Tamils live in the area, which is a very affluent one, but drive in from the suburbs, some coming from as far as 45 miles. According to Nagarajah, second-generation Hindus are attuned to their faith: “There is a revival in Hinduism at the moment because there are so many Tamil schools and cultural classes by various institutions so people will stay with their own culture and languages for the next generation.” Looking to the future, he adds, “We have bought a few properties here, so that even without support from the public, the income generated from the properties will be enough to maintain the temple for 20 years. I don’t know what will happen then.” Judging by the strong cultural and spiritual bonds that most Hindus maintain here with their religion and home country, he need not fear for the future. The temple scene is bustling, with more being built around the country. There is a Balaji temple being constructed near Birmingham, a $10.6 million project, half a government grant. Another temple in Preston has also received a grant from the government. Explains Sharma, “The grant is not given for the faith or religion but rather for the community center,” which is part of the temple. Sharma is convinced that Hinduism is in the ascendancy and that the Hindu way of life, philosophy and yoga are all gaining momentum in the West. Asked if any of the temples in the UK were connected to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, he replied, “Temples are mainly for the worship of the Lord, not for politics. Some of the temples are run by VHP. We will welcome anyone to our temples but we don’t discuss much of politics. Mainly it’s for the glory of the Lord.” Yet he admitted that the tensions in India are often mirrored so far from home. During the Ayodhya incident, 29 temples were firebombed and one temple was even razed to the ground by Muslim Britons. However, this time when Gujarat was inflamed, there were only minor incidents in Britain. Indeed, mostly the many faiths live in peace. The UK report statistics show that there are about 1.5 million Muslims, 40 million Christians, 500,000 Sikhs and 330,000 Jews. You can see these groups living side-byside in communities like East Ham, where temples and mosques and Sikh gurudwaras stand shoulder to shoulder. You pass crowded markets with halal meat shops and women in burkhas and Sikh grandmothers headed to the gurudwara and Hindu mothers pushing their children in strollers. Arriving at the East Ham station, I took a bus to the London Sri Murugan Temple, which is in Manor Park. The crowded bus

negotiated its way through streets full of a bustling Asian population. It was like being back in India as a South Indian woman on the bus pointed out the temple, and an elderly Punjabi lady explained that she and her friend were headed for their daily visit to the gurudwara. Passing cars all seemed to have Asians at the wheel, and young Indian and Pakistanis chatted on the street. It is in this bustling, humble neighborhood that the London Sri Murugan Temple stands, currently housed in a former pub while a grand new temple takes shape on the ground of the former temple that has been demolished. This temple had its beginnings in 1975 and many devotees, especially Tamils, have flocked to it. The new temple of black granite in the grand traditions of Southern temple architecture is being built in three phases, at an estimated cost of $5.6 million. It is in a residential area, so it took almost four years to get the building permissions. The first phase includes the construction of three principal shrines, dedicated to Lords Ganapati, Siva and Murugan. The temple—a bright maroon—looked dilapidated from outside. Once inside, it emanated peace and calm, as music played and incense filled the air. I had arrived at the time when the temple is closed to the public, so the crowds that gather for evening arati had not yet come. However, the temple has a deep connection with Gurudeva Subramuniyaswami, and the chief priest, R. Nagarantha Sivam, conducted a special puja for me, as a representative of Hinduism Today. It was wonderful to see the great esteem that Gurudeva is held in by the trustees of the temple. Even as the construction dust flies, the devotees flock to the makeshift temple which has made an oasis of calm, a sanctum, out of a pub. Here as the cymbals and drums make sweet music, hundreds of families gather to pray. Asha Darmassaalane, originally from South India, is one such devotee. Why is this temple important to her? “It is typical of temples back home, and so I come in every week. We are Lord Murugan worshipers and there are special pujas in the evenings and so it becomes an opportunity to share prasadam (blessed food) and also socialize with friends.” Darmassaalane is a physician and has three children. Her husband Bala, a materials manager with an American company, explains that there is a very strong Tamil community amongst the 70% Asian population in East Ham. About ten miles away there is a bustling Ford manufacturing plant that attracted Indian plantation workers from Singapore about 20 years ago. Since then, the South Asian element has increased in this area and also monopolized the corner shops. “There are three or four generations of Asians here, with a commitment to educa-

christine osborne pictures

christine osborne pictures

Pride of Neasden: (above) A Hindu lady and her daughter walk in front of the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. With 22,600 square feet, it is the largest Hindu temple in the UK. At the peak of its construction, 1,526 craftsmen were at work, aided by 1,000 volunteers. (right) A Jewish group has just completed a tour of the temple, including its highly informative teaching displays. (below) Flowers rain down upon devotees during a gathering in the huge audience hall.

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Bringing up children: (left to right) Gujarati girl worships the sacred tulsi tree in her home; BAPS Swaminarayan children stage a religious play; Hindu child unwillingly endures the head-shaving samskara, or rite of passage
tion, and they have built many temples. At this temple we have a chariot festival every year, and you can expect 8,000 people in August.” According to the head priest, parents are encouraged to bring their children so that they can grow up comfortable in two worlds. He said, “We give the children sweets and tell them mythological tales. There are cultural classes every Sunday and over 200 students turn up to learn bharata natyam, singing and the vina. At the temple we observe all the events of life from birth to death with rituals, and also celebrate all the festivals.” Later I shared a delicious prasadam lunch of sambar, vegetables and rice with the president, S. Sampath Kumar, and other trustees of the temple as they related to me how the temple has grown over the years. As Britain has been infiltrated by its former colonies, the immigrants are bringing their tastes and rhythms to the larger populace. There are about 1.2 to 1.3 million people of Indian origin in the UK, with about 450,000 in London, with large concentrations in towns like Bradford and Leicester. The Punjabis and the Gujaratis dominate the Indian population, with about 40 to 45 percent coming from each of these two communities. The Punjabis came from India largely as


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industrial workers, while the Gujaratis came in large numbers from Kenya and Uganda in the early 70s, with entrepreneurial skill, capital and education. Today Indians are in practically every field, with large numbers in the medical profession, and the services— railway, postal, and health care, and more recently, in financial services. While the first generation has, understandably, a deeper connection to their homeland, the second and third generation has integrated well into British life. There are many who have never been to India but the music and the foods—and of course, Bollywood—draws them. While for some the links to India are strong, for others the emotional attachment is kept through language, music and cinema. Faith and Art: The fervor of overseas Hindus for the rituals of their religion is strong. An example of the devotion is seen at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, which has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest traditional Hindu temple outside of India. Many people had told me how grand it was but I was still taken aback by its perfection when I saw it myself. Its carved white pinnacles and pristine marble pillars rise against London’s skyline, seeming a bit unreal and dreamlike. Over 2,820 tons of Bulgarian limestone and 2,000 tons of Italian Carrara marble were shipped to India where they were carved by 1,500 craftsmen and reshipped to London. In fact, 26,300 carved pieces were reassembled over three years. Everything here is on a grand scale, and festivals like Deepavali and Annakut attract 50,000 people. During my visit, I was particularly im-

pressed by the orderly crowds and the organized way in which everything is conducted at the temple. The parking lot was full of tour buses, many of them carrying young English students being given a view of the new multicultural England. When I visited, there were scores of Hindu devotees. For Sundar Patel and his wife, a retired couple that earlier lived in Kenya and are now residents in the Kingsbury area of London, a regular visit to the temple is a must, especially to show it to visiting family and friends. In addition to the Hindus, there were at least a hundred English schoolchildren from a Catholic school, intently watching all the ceremonies and taking notes. Said their teacher, “This is our way of teaching them about different faiths.” Indeed, the learning process for the mainstream has already begun, with so many Indians and Sri Lankans in the form of teachers, friends and neighbors. I entered Bharati Vidya Bhavan by a side door. It seemed like any other building, until I stepped into the main hall, when I realized it is a former church, still complete with pews. It was a strange feeling to see scores of Indian families sitting on the seats, chatting. This space is now used for performances, and on this day many people were there, waiting for various classes to begin. Indeed, one can see the vitality and energy in almost every corner of the Bhavan. As I followed Nandakumara, the director, on a tour of the rooms, I heard the strains of the sitar and tabla and the jingle of ghungroos from the classes. Everywhere I saw young people getting in touch with their culture and their religion, as they learned

languages and performed the classical dances. The Bhavan seemed to be a gathering spot for families with the cafeteria full of people enjoying samosas and idlis. All this in the heart of bustling London! At the Bharati Vidya Bhavan scores of Britishers come to learn, along with Indians, music, language and yoga. In fact, 90 percent of the students in the yoga classes are European, as are the teachers, who follow the Indian method of teaching yoga. What started out as a 10- by 10-foot rented room is today a dynamic 14,800 square-foot space in a converted church, with its own art gallery, classes and theater, with lectures on everything from the Bhagavad Gita to Ayurvedic medicine. Says Nandakumara, “When we started in 1972, the community was small, but it has now grown. Earlier they had very limited contact with the home country, but today they’ll be able to get anything, thanks to the open policy of the government wherein it welcomes, helps and encourages people to keep in touch with their culture. There are so many opportunities, so many government grants available that anyone who is doing genuine work will be recognized.” The Bhavan has 1,500 members. In 2001 there were 800 students enrolled in various classes in Indian languages, Carnatic music, Hindustani music, Kathak and Bharat Natyam, yoga and Gita and Vedic chanting. There are also outreach classes in Wembley, bringing Indian culture to where the majority of Asians live. The Bhavan is thriving and is again remaking itself—this time with a $1.7 million renovation and creation of a visual arts gallery. It has been allocated $836,000 by

the Millennium Commission, subject to raising the matching grants. The Arts Council has also promised $240,000 in matching grants for other renovations. The Nehru Center, India’s cultural nucleus in London, has stood through all the change. Purchased by the Indian High Commission in 1947, it has gone through many uses and was even a marvelous canteen for Desi food when there were no Indian restaurants in London. Noted actor and playwright Girish Karnad has been the director of Nehru Center for the past two years and has also had his plays performed in London, including his latest, “Bali—The Sacrifice.” Indeed, there has been a flowering of local British Indian talent including artists like dancer Shobana Jeysingh and Akram Singh and performers Tavleen Singh and Nitin Sawhney. The theater group Tamasha has toured the country with its English stage adaptation of the Bollywood film “Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun,” while Tara Arts is known for its innovative work. Observes Karnad, “A whole new generation of artists is coming and making itself felt, and that’s essentially because the arts council decided to encourage ethnic arts. Not so much traditional arts but what the local Indian generation is producing in terms of modern fusion. In that sense, if you see India as the source of this cultural activity, then really the modern interpretation of all that is happening here.” Fitting in: On my last day in London I attended Lord Swarj Paul’s annual reception in the London Zoo, a gathering for parents and their children, in memory of his daughter Ambika who died of leukemia. All

through her illness, the zoo had been her favorite place and after she passed away, he often used to visit it. When he heard that it was going to be closed down due to lack of funds, he donated $1.6 million. Ask him whether he considers himself British or Indian, and he says, “ I am hundred percent British, and I am hundred percent Indian—so I have no problem with identity. Those who have, I feel sorry for them.” Indeed, the Indian immigrants in Britain seem to have embraced the British Asian label more than Indians in America have accepted their hyphenated identity. Lord Paul says of the Indians in the UK, “They are a tremendous asset to this country, and all three political parties recognize that. As more education comes, I think they will feel even more comfortable. They’ve done a marvelous job at assimilating themselves— it’s a very successful community. The India craze is good—it’s more recognition of India, more recognition of Indian people and it’s partly because of the recognition of the contribution of the Indians living here.” Parents do not want their children to forget—and in many cases the second generation, a robust mix of Asian and British viewpoints, is finding its place in a continent far from home. They are going for arranged marriages as well as love unions and negotiating their identity [see next page]. Indeed, my brief ten days in Britain showed me many faces of Hinduism, of people living their own versions of the religion. And such is the elasticity and philosophy of Hinduism that people can live many different lifestyles and still call themselves Hindu. ∏π
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Action youth: (left) Seven members of Hindu Youth UK, standing, left to right, are Bhavit Mehta, Sunny Patel, Kamlesh Darji and Parathan Sivasubramanium; bottom row is Sonali Kantaria, Rina Sodha and Savan Shah
studied the Gita and the Upanishads. Others are devotion-based, and are into bhajanas (religious songs) and Hanuman chalisas (scriptural recitation). Still others perform yagnas, fire ceremonies. “But put them all together and they are still a very small minority. The majority of the Hindu youth— maybe 75 percent—don’t take an interest in their faith or culture,” says Mehta. “They often mistake the faith and culture as one— and that is the first problem. They look at India and think, ‘Well, that’s Hinduism’—and actually it’s not. They often misunderstand the basic, simple concepts of Hinduism as freakish or irrelevant to them. That’s what it boils down to—how relevant are all these things to them today in their lifestyle? If it’s seen as irrelevant, then they want nothing to do with it. That’s a major problem.” The various members of Hindu Youth UK spoke with me about the role of Hinduism in their lives. Jitesh Patel, 22, is a graphic designer who was born and raised in London. He recalls racial bias growing up: “I used to see kids being terrorized and bullied. And those kind of kids just get lost.” He had an experience during Navaratri when he had a darshan (vision) of Mataji (the Goddess). “That brought me closer to Hinduism, and I wanted to explore more. My aim is to understand more about it and also to educate the youngsters of today, for they are the future of tomorrow.” Rina Soda was raised in Kenya where her family was involved in their local Hindu temple. “Religion and culture were strong in my family, but I always tended to question it. I didn’t want to just follow things. I wanted answers.” Now a manager in London, she’s been in the UK for 12 years and has felt the pressure in the workplace to conform to the mainstream. She says, “It didn’t work, because if you try to fit in, you’re not being yourself. But now from all the work and study I’m doing with Hinduism, I’m actually finding out who I am.” Sonali Kantaria, 25, was born in London and studied in an English boarding school but did not lose her moorings: “I’ve been fortunate that my grandfather, Maruti Rambaba, is very religious. He is very devoted to Lord Hanuman. He has been given a title here as a saint and goes to the Kumbha Mela where he has his own camp. I even learned the Hanuman Chalisa [famous scripture on the exploits of Lord Hanuman]. But as a youth, when you get too much of it, you tend to move away from it, though not intentionally. When I went to boarding school, I found


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Mind if We Take Charge?
Hindu Youth UK embark on ambitious programs
B Y L AVINA M ELWANI , N EW Y ORK met with a committed group of young Hindus, the organizers of the Get Connected 2002 Festival, in Wembley. These were by no means somber, religious conservatives, but fun-loving, vital young professionals whose goal is to put the energy and magic back into religion for the younger generation. “There is this confusion of identity—it’s the biggest issue facing us,” says Bhavit Mehta, 24. “A lot of Indians are born here, and many are born in Africa. So how do we identify ourselves? People are very cynical. They question everything in this day and age. That’s why at last year’s event it was felt that there should be something that catered completely to the youth.” I was told that in the UK there are hundreds of Hindu organizations, including many which are just informal groups. Every temple has its own youth group active in spreading their message and philosophy. There are groups which are spiritualitybased like the Chinmaya Mission, Aurobindo Ashram, Vivekananda Society and the Ramakrishna-Vedanta Center. There are groups that are temple-based such as the Saiva Temple and the Swaminarayan group. Then there are groups which are community based—the young Gujaratis, Sindhis, brahmins and Patels, Lohanas and Kash-

miris. Other important players are the university-based groups such as the National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF), which provides a network for all the Hindu groups in various universities. “Last year we wanted to bring all these different groups together and make them aware of this larger network,” explains Mehta. “The youth had never worked together. The goal was to get them working together at an early age so that in ten years time, when they are heading their organizations, they are very good friends.” Asked if the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Sangh Parivar were active among the youth in the UK, Mehta said they were very active. NHSF was inspired by the VHP, while Shaka, another youth group, is connected to the UK Hindu Swayam Sangh, which is, in turn, connected to the RSS in India. He points out the VHP has a very different role in this country as compared to India: “They’re not the same, because the people running the VHP here are either of East African origin or are British-born, so there is that change in mentality. I think the role that they should play is a go-between, communicating what is happening in India to the Hindus in this country.” As individuals, the religious Hindu youth in the UK cover a wide spectrum. There are many who are knowledge-based, having

I missed my religion. I went to church a few times, but then found a temple close by and started going there on Sundays. I was the only girl from my school going to a Hindu temple. I’ve always been proud of who I am and thought it was quite nice to be different.” Jaytal Morjaria is a buyer for Laura Ashley, but on the Get Connected team he’s the coordinator of the design team. His goal was to make the design of their publications and events very funky and modern: “The kids we are targeting, their outlook is going to clubs, so we are trying to bring a club look, a High Street look, to Hinduism because I think it can be done. It’s using the colors and graphics to turn heads. As you walk in, you want to get a real experience of what’s going on.”

Monicka Patel, 23, born and raised in U.K., is in journalism. Since she started living on her own, she found she was drifting away from Hinduism, while her family remained involved. Getting involved with the Hindu Youth helped her to get a footing and allowed her to combine her journalism skills with volunteerism. She says, “As you get older, everyone wants to get back to their roots.” Jayes Vora has worked for the last five years in sales companies and is now working for himself. He was born in the UK but has lived an in isolated community in Yorkshire. “I had always received scrambled messages, and it never worked for me. I thought of myself as English and British. I see myself as an Indian and Hindu as well, and I think it’s my

Preston Festival: (left) The artsy souvenir program for Hindu Youth Festival 2002 North; (right) three Preston girls get the full India-style nail treatment
chance to learn about things. When people preach to me, I tend to switch off. There’s a message to be sent out to the wider world to the youth out there, and it has to be done in a way that they’ll understand.” As Bhavit Mehta says, “We are trying as a group of organizations to reach the youth and show them and the non-Hindu community what Hinduism is and how relevant it is today. Hinduism is relevant to the non-Hindus, too—we can offer a lot to the host nation, to this country, as a spiritual ideal.” ∏π

Will River Aire Be the UK’s Ganga?
Permission sought to create funeral area for ash immersion rites
radford’s hindu cultural society submitted a proposal in mid-2002 to the Bradford City Council to allow a small stretch of the River Aire at Apperley Bridge to be used for the scattering of ashes after a traditional Hindu funeral. A spokesman for the cultural society says, “Most of our community still travel to India for the purpose. But using the River Aire would allow those who can’t afford it to also scatter ashes.” Jane Glaister, director of arts, heritage and leisure for Bradford says, “We have been approached by the local Hindu and Sikh communities, and we are talking to the environmental agency.” A spokesperson for the City Council said officials had “been receiving a number of calls from concerned residents of the area.” Community relations are strained in Bradford, which last year experienced riots of Muslim youth. According the river relatively divine status poses no special theological difficulty for Hindus and would likely be done by pouring Ganga water in the Aire, as with a sacred lake in Mauritius some years ago.

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River consecration: Morani Gupta by the side of the River Aire in Bradford
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Churches for Sale or Rent
Christians find themselves with a surplus
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India’s ambassador: This enterprising Britisher has made a successful taxi business employing a series of Ambassador cars imported from India and outfitted with Indian themes Cardboard characters. Dialogue that would turned into an Indian dining experience by Taj chefs. In a nod to the dabbawallas [who test the patience of Mother Teresa.” The Daily Mail had a more generous deliver home-cooked lunches to Mumbai view: “It’s as subtle as a panto [a boisterous workers], tiffin boxes with curry and rice form of British stagecraft for children], but and other meals were also introduced. then so is Bollywood, which this show joy- There was a chaiwalla offering tea to the fully echoes. Great fun, great costumes, and thirsty visitors and, yes, the clay pot of mana refreshing change from every other West go kulfi [Indian ice cream] was available too. Bollywood was also the toast of the elite End show.” In reality, I personally found that though the story is a bit threadbare, the world with “Cinema India: The Art of Bolshow is extremely enjoyable with all the lywood”—a special exhibition of film posters at the prestigious Victoria grand excesses associated and Albert Museum. with Bollywood. Amazingly, the museum More, it was a wonderhad these in its collection ful feeling to see Indians for over 50 years. They tell dominate a West End the history of a nation reshow, especially an Anflected through its popudrew Lloyd Weber show. lar culture. Desis have been turning After a glittering openup in droves—making up ing party at the V&A, I half the audience the stepped out to the curb to night I attended. Likely see an unlikely sight—an few of them had ever venAmbassador car in Lontured to the West End don! It’s no ordinary vehitheatre district before. cle, but a tribute to BollyAnd this may actually wood, upholstered with make more India-related Bollywood posters, with a shows viable as a commerwhiff of incense and, yes, cial venture. there’s film music, too. ToAs the crowds bombard- Movies: 1957 movie poster on bias is the quirky British owned “Bombay Dreams,” display at the V&A Museum er of Karma Kars with severthey also headed to the Bollywood tamasha [an exhibition or fair] at al themed Ambassador taxis—Maharaja, Selfridges department store, its biggest and Sheesh Mahal, Kama Sutra, besides the Bolmost successful promotion ever. In a period lywood car, each available at $64/hour. “I of three weeks, over 1.5 million people vis- lived in India longer than most Indians!” ited the London and Manchester stores. De- brags Tobias, cool and very Desi in his white signer Nitin Desai, who’s designed the sets cotton kurta pajama. “Karma Kars is not a of such films as “Lagaan” and “Devdas,” had cab company—it’s a philosophy—and the phiturned the place into a colorful Bollywood losophy is that the journey is more important carnival, complete with a movie star’s bed- than the arrival. So enjoy the journey in life and don’t always think about the destination!” room. Selfridges’ food halls had been trans- And certainly a good number of Britishers, formed into a little corner of India, with native and imports, were making good use of ∏π street foods, while the main restaurant was India to enjoy their journey.

Salaam Bombay: Cast of Bombay Dreams performing the song “Salaam Bombay” in classic Bollywood style


Brits Go Bollywood Bananas
“Bombay Dreams” is cultural invasion reality
B Y L AVINA M ELWANI , N EW Y ORK s india colonizing her colonizer? Not at gunpoint, but by the force of ideas, by the seduction of her spices, her tantalizing web of music, dance and Bollywood cinema? Looking at the calendar of events in London, it did indeed look like a genuine Indian summer, with not only film, art and music events but also major promotions in department stores, malls, bookstores and museums, as well as on television—most of it revolving around Bollywood, India’s distinctive film industry. Among the entertainers at the celebrations in Buckingham Place last year the Queen invited a few Desis—actress Meera Syal and the hilarious Moti Roti group. Even as England lost the World Cup, the film making big news and big bucks was Gurinder Chadha’s “Bend it Like Beckham,” the story of a young British Asian girl’s passion for soccer. The film has made millions of dollars, been on the top ten lists and has attracted audiences irrespective of

age, gender or race. The title, for those ignorant of the world’s most popular sport, refers to the ability of a kicker to impart sidespin to the ball and thereby curve, or bend, its path, and to David Beckham, one of England’s top players, especially adept at the preceding. The words of London-based writers, including Sir V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, and Hanif Quereshi, have long enthralled British readers. Joining their league is British Indian writer Hari Kunzru whose debut novel, The Impressionist, has earned an incredible advance of us$2.4 million. The British seem to have an insatiable fascination with all things Indian. While books by Indian authors are flying off the shelves, tandoori (brick oven) fare is reputed to have overtaken fish and chips as the national favorite. In fact, there are today over 8,000 Indian restaurants in the U.K. Music created by British Asians is vitalizing the club scene with its funky sounds and Indian dance and theater is enriching the arts. “Kabhi Khushi

Kabhi Gham” became the first Hindi film to reach number three on national cinema charts. And finally, gaudy, bawdy, lovable, largerthan-life Bollywood is center stage in an amazing summer of movies, music and events. Descending into the netherworld of the London Underground, you see posters of “Bombay Dreams,” right next to those of “Les Miz,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “The Lion King,” and it strikes you, the strangeness of it all. As part of my trip to London, I was determined to see “Bombay Dreams.” “Dreams” is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of A. R. Rahman’s musical at the Apollo Victoria Theater. It was almost three years in the making, with a reported budget of $7.2 million. Among Webber’s other productions are “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats”—the longest running stage musical ever. Bollywood films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and neither was “Dreams.” In a scathing review, The Times wrote, “Consider the writing talent that Lloyd-Webber assembled for this show: the film director Shekhar Kapur; the veteran lyricist Don Black; the Goodness Gracious Me creator Meera Syal. Then consider the results. Scenes that lurch into each other like blind elephants. A plot that disintegrates into a ragbag of sitcom skits on Miss World, women’s lib and the like. The lamest ending in West End history. Trite lyrics.

indus in india are astounded when they hear that one or another temple in America or England has bought or rented an unused Christian church. The Church of England has so many unused facilities that they have a web site, http://england.anglican.org/rcsale/redch home.html, to solicit “successful and sympathetic conversions of and uses for redundant church buildings.” Since the 1960s, the Church has put to new use about 1,500 buildings, and has a fairly constant listing of 20 to 25 more available each year. While the site lists “places of worship for other Christian bodies” as the first “suitable new use,” several have been turned into Hindu temples. They include the Shri Sanatan Mandir in Leicester and the Sanatan Deevya Mandal in Bristol. In the US, the Ganesha Temple in Flushing, New York, was begun in a church, later torn down to build a traditional temple. Such conversions of use have a distinct advantage to Hindus because religious services are already an “established use” under zoning regulations, avoiding the often very lengthy process of obtaining new zoning permission. But—most of the buildings currently listed on the Church of England’s site have a distinct disadvantage for Hindus—they are surrounded by graveyards, something put as far from a temple as possible in India. ∏π

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It’s what?: Bharat Vidya Bhavan’s London center is a former church building
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Divine Artistry
Behold the lifetime work of award-winning artist Indra Sharma in an extraordinary collection of paintings of Gods and Goddesses
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By Tara Katir, Hawaii, USA ast year i was honored with a visit from Indra Sharma and his daughters. While we were chatting, his daughter Nimisha noticed a Ganesha print on the wall and casually remarked, “My father painted that.” Sharma’s dedicated pursuit of devotional art has had a greater impact on modern Hindu culture than he ever could have imagined. Most Hindu homes worldwide will have at least one poster made of his paintings, which has resulted in generations of Hindus being touched by Sharma’s artistic interpretations of the Divine. “Prayer through painting” perfectly describes Indra Sharma’s life and work. “I paint with my heart and through meditation,” he says, “I approach my work with a sense of devotion—bhakti. I study scriptures to understand the nature of the characters I paint, and then I use my imagination and recall any faces I have come across that match the scriptural description. It is difficult to convey how all this works, but basically I carry the feeling of Godliness. The main magic is to put soul into the painting to enliven it. And I have given all my life to it.” A retrospective of Sharma’s work, In a World of Gods and Goddesses, (194 pages, Mandala Publishers, USA, 2001, us$49.95) allows art

An artist’s strokes: (clockwise from far left) Mother Yashoda with baby Krishna; Lord Ganesha; Indra Sharma at his easel; Dancing Lord Siva; Goddess Saraswati lovers, Hindu or otherwise, to savor the richness of his gift. Winner of the 2001 prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award, in the metaphysics and spirituality category, this magnificent book is a tribute to the genius of Sharma, who currently lives in Mumbai, India. Following a short biography of his life by Dr. Yogesh Atal, a personal endorsement from Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and sweet words from Sharma’s daughter Nimisha, the remaining eight chapters provide a short history of Hindu art, mythology and the rich oral tradition of India, followed by individual chapters on the images of God. Ganesha, Siva, Devi, Vishnu, Krishna, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are gloriously personified in a bold and dramatic style. In one line-drawing, Ganesha appears so alive, it is easy to believe He is ready to dance off the page. Sharma’s artistic portrayals of the Hindu Gods show them with not only strength and inner power but filled with grace and beauty. Each chapter has a page devoted to the iconography of the Hindu pantheon. Throughout the book, the mystical drama of Hindu mythology, told through Puranic stories, is combined with Hindu philosophical beliefs such as karma, practices of yoga, the impermanence of all things and worship of the divine in all its many forms. This provides an informative and colorful textual accompaniment to Sharma’s work while a deeper significance of each painting is unfolded. This book would grace every Hindu home. Each oversize page of glossy, colorful photographs is a treasure trove of Hindu portraiture. You will find the soul of the divine in each of Indra Sharma’s works, and a precious remembrance of a life’s work from one of India’s premier modern painters. ∏π

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all photos: rajesh Sharma and hari mahidhar dinodia photo library

On the set in India, filming the television series Om Namah Shivai

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Less than 15 years ago, great movie makers like B. R. Chopra molded religion into blockbuster mega-drama and took the limelight of Indian TV by storm. It was a hard act to follow, but a new generation of independent producers are at it again.
By Rajiv Malik, New Delhi, India unita bagga is a 52-year-old New Delhi housewife who starts her day at five in the morning watching TV. Not what you might expect from a deeply religious person who, only a few years ago, might have strongly denounced television as a worldly distraction. Sunita didn’t change. Indian TV did. It got religious. The TV Sunita watches in that early morning time is Sanskar, one of India’s two new, full-time religious channels. This noteworthy transformation of Indian television, which has manifested most significantly within the past two years, began late in the 198os. Back then there were only two TV channels, and both were produced, owned and controlled by Doordarshan, the government television network. In 1987, Doordarshan broke away from secular business-as-usual and commissioned famed movie maker Ramanand Sagar to produce a television version of the famous Indian literary epic Ramayana. Sagar created a 70episode series that was so hugely successful the network followed a year later with another Indian magnum opus, the Mahabharata. This Mahabharata, produced in 94 episodes by B. R. Chopra (see sidebar), was technically superior to the Ramayana and even more popular. Far beyond even high expectations, this masterpiece completely mesmerized all of India during its showing in 1988 and 1989. The Ramayana, Mahabharata and their producers were showered with innumerable awards. A new age in Indian television was born. Yet, no one could have anticipated how this era would develop in the years that followed. When Hinduism Today asked me to take a peep into this world of religious TV, I thought it would be interesting. It turned out to be an adventure. First, I had to learn a little history. Doordarshan made a bold move in televising the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and knowledgeable sources credit then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for making it happen. With the dawn of the 1990s, the staggering popularity of these two lone epics had stimulated uncomfortable growing pains for Doordarshan. Higher standards had been set in technical production, and mind-boggling levels of viewership had to be matched. Through the years, Doordarshan tried and failed to repeat the miracle of those awesome late 80s. Slowly the media giant was forced to gravitate back toward its more reliable secular repertoire. Yet a taste for religious television in India had been acquired. If Doordarshan could not serve up more, somebody would. As I sat comfortably in my New Delhi office planning the pursuit of this story, it looked like it was going to be fun and easy. Almost immediately, however, I was challenged with some obstacles. It took me nearly two months just to set up interview appointments by phone with all of the necessary TV broadcasting elite in Mumbai. The two main religious channel owners were naturally suspicious of my requests for an in-depth account of how they operated internally. They were only further intimidated when I said I planned to fly down and pay them a visit. I found out later that they thought Hinduism Today might be considering the creation of some third, rival channel. I also later learned that each was miffed that the other was being given equal coverage. After much discussion, everyone was finally content to submit to what in the end turned out to be a most enjoyable and beneficial affair for all involved. Mumbai was drenched with rain during my week of interviews there—so much so that even the city’s daily life and business were greatly disturbed. Vehicles stood still in the streets, and getting from one place to another was almost impossible. It all had the makings of good television drama. My first two days were spent in the conservative office/studio complex of Aastha Television. Then I was off to visit the folks at Sanskar, Aastha’s competition. Following this, I had the good fortune of speaking with program executives at Zee Entertainment, a non-religious channel which nevertheless

The wisdom years: Although B. R. Chopra has accomplished much for Indian TV, his highest priority is being a good and honest man

B. R. Chopra Was There When It All Began
The “grand old man of Cinema” talks about life, movies, TV and religion
ythology is a part of life, particularly in India. Life in India still retains Hinduism and Hindu culture. For many, many years I have been performing havan every Sunday. I feel that time which I spend away from worldly activity is something good. It gives me some purification and alters my attitude toward life. I am a true Hindu, but I am also a modern man. Whether or not the youth watch religious TV programs depends on the attitude of the father and mother. Things are different these days. The atmosphere of Mumbai is different. It is heterogeneous. I know these people. They are religious minded. Being religious and being religious minded are not the same. I cannot say that I am a very religious man. But I am religious minded. I am very much aware of the importance of religion. The Rig Veda says to be a human being first. The film industry has its own ways, but it would be wrong to say that people drink because they follow the stars. I have been in this business for the last sixty years, and I do not drink. At my residence nobody drinks. But nobody is vegetarian in our house either. Things are changing very quickly now, but religion is never going to die. Even in the West this is true. My message for the Hindus of the world is to be a good Hindu. I have one principle in life. I strive to be good and honest. If I go out of station— even if only for one day—I go with my wife. I have never seen the face of another woman in all of my life, though I have worked with many actresses. And there were many who sought to befriend me. I have asked my son Ravi to adhere to this principle and he does. I want to be a good, honest man, and for this I seek the blessings of God. The blessings of God are very important.

A win-win situation: Famous devotional musicians like (left to right) Lalitya Munshaw, Anup Jalota and Sri Vinod Agarwal love being featured on the religious channels where they can enjoy some of the recognition that more commercial musicians take for granted


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has produced a highly regarded one-hour religious program every day for the past ten years. It was the people at Zee that introduced me to renowned film producer Ravi Chopra, who in turn was gracious enough to arrange some chat time for me with his father, Sri B. R. Chopra, Indian cinema’s “grand old man.” This latter interview, completely unplanned, turned out to be the high point of my journey. Aastha—nestled in Worli, an industrial suburb of Mumbai—is well equipped with hi-tech studios for recording, dubbing and video taping. When I was there, the whole complex was abuzz with the sights and sounds of Hinduism in action. Videotapes of bhajans and lectures were busily being edited and, before my very eyes, entire programs were being assembled. I even attended the taping of a numerology session being shot live in one of their twelve studios. The brain behind Aastha is Kirit C. Mehta, Chairman and Managing Director of CMM Broadcasting Network Limited, which owns and operates the Aastha Television Channel. Mehta, who is physically disabled due to polio, is a man with tremendous willpower. Talking with him (see sidebar), I could actually feel his will at work as he vivaciously described his vision of the aastha (faith) of Hinduism coming alive in the minds of his viewers. Mehta, a Jain, originally wanted to produce a channel featuring Jain programming exclusively. However, because he could not get the necessary financial support from the Jain community, he created Aastha, which is today 90% Hindu in content. In contrast to Aastha’s huge complex, Sanskar’s office/studio, near Nariman Point in

the heart of Mumbai, is modest, to say the least. I found brothers Dilip and Dinesh Kabra, Sanskar’s joint owners, to be practical and humble souls. I had met Dilip, the elder brother, in Allahabad during the Mahakumbha Mela. We were both there as journalists. Dilip even interviewed me at that time for Sanskar, asking me to tell their

Hanuman on Sanskar TV viewership about our magazine, Hinduism Today. So our rapport was instantaneous. “I interviewed you in Allahabad,” Dilip said as I walked into his office. “And now you are interviewing me. Wonderful are the ways of God in settling the affairs of men.” Dilip immediately organized interviews for me with two popular bhajan singers: Anup Jalota and Vinod Agarwal—both featured on Sanskar. He also arranged for me to attend an evening program of bhajans by Anup Jalota taking place that evening in a popular five-star Mumbai hotel. It was most touching to witness the deep, heartfelt devotion of a packed audience fully immersed in divine music and thoughts of God right in the middle of a city much more famous for

glitz, glamour, late-night parties and discotheques. I left the bhajan performance convinced that regardless of Western influence, Hinduism would never die. As might be expected, devotional musicians like Jalota love this swelling wave of interest in faith-based television. “These people who have dared to start these channels—I bow before them,” says Anup Jalota. “May God bestow upon them wisdom and strength so that they can keep doing this noble work.” Kirit Mehta and Dilip Kabra both maintain that religious channels in general, unlike entertainment channels, develop a deep and enduring relationship with viewers. It is a relationship based upon spiritual commitment. Both channel administrators lament that they suffer greatly from lack of funds and that their financial ambition right now is simply to break even. Dinesh Kabra, Dilip’s younger brother, in charge of marketing and promotion at Sanskar, says the first and largest challenge is always simply making contact with advertisers. “Today there are at least one hundred channels upon which media planners can advertise,” says Dinesh. “They must get the best possible value for their money and need to be convinced that advertising with us will fetch them good results. Naturally, they ask about our viewership. Since a rating system has not yet been devised for new entrants like us, we cannot give them solid figures. Obviously, this makes it tough getting accepted.” For Zee TV, the one religious hour they feature does not have to make money. The rest of their entertainment channel does that. Zee program director Prakash Menon

says, “The whole Zee TV family is very religious. We are telecasting our religious programming purely as a service to our viewership. We understand the importance of divinity. But being an entertainment channel, we have limitations.” For both Aastha and Sanskar, attracting youth and understanding their needs is a primary concern. Mehta asserts that any religious education given to the children is better than what they are getting now, which is nothing. And, he stresses, they are interested, contrary to public opinion. The programming for both channels has been criticized for poor content, lack of focus and low-grade technical presentation. Yet even the worst critics concede that what has transpired thus far is a laudable beginning. Advocates far outnumber faultfinders. Today, right now, any time, you can tune in to the best of India’s bhajans and discourses in the comfort and convenience of your own home on your own TV. What is lacking in creative originality and slick presentation is made up for by the “reality effect” of being present at a live event. Although both Aastha and Sanskar unabashedly draw most of their educational content from a grand wealth of ancient knowledge stemming from the Vedas, the central scripture of Hinduism, they both refrain from openly acknowledging this obvious Hindu source. When I questioned them about this directly, they explained that today’s industry insiders are loath to use the “H” word because they feel it diminishes viewership. If a station calls itself Hindu, they assert, all of India’s non-Hindu “isms” will be less inclined to watch. They also contend that reference to Hin-

duism will imply to many a more sectarian, “narrow-minded” or “old-fashioned” approach to religion in general. With the Indian economy striving to go global, as it is in today’s faster moving international society, the thrust in television broadcasting, as well as in other forms of communication, is to attract the more “open-minded, free-thinking

Morari bapu on Sanskar TV modern man,” both from within India’s borders and beyond. For these people, “spiritualism” is a more accessible and magnetic term to use in identifying television content. Further validating this perspective, advertisers—especially international advertisers—are making it abundantly clear that they prefer the secular rather than the Hindu identity. Finally, the television producers rationalize, Hindus watching these religious channels will know that their content is Hindu and will not have to be told. The producers of Aastha and Sanskar are swimming boldly upstream, against the tides of easy financial success. No one—not even their competitors—would deny their

courage. Though for the future they promise to broaden their presentation by including programs loosely classified in a category often termed “New Age” or “spiritual,” they are in their heart of hearts deeply Hindu and are doing this work for no other reason than to express, share and propagate the Hindu dharma. No one has asked them to do what they are doing, and the obstacles they face are formidable. Producing these channels at great cost, no profit and for very little thanks, they step courageously into an uncertain future, fueled only by boundless respect for Indian spiritual traditions and a tireless urge to serve. They are clearing a path for others to follow. Television and electronic media are taking on a new role in modern times. They are no longer just vehicles for news and entertainment with a little education thrown in to ease public conscience. Though this change is most evident in channels like Aastha and Sanskar, almost all of India’s television channels—even the most secular—now have at least one 60-minute, early-morning time slot dedicated to bhajans, discourses and yoga teaching sessions. It is a quiet revolution of a unique sort, taking place almost imperceptibly in mothers’ kitchens and family living rooms. It’s India’s own version of “reality TV”—religious reality—coming to life. I feel strongly that the day will come when being openly Hindu will increase and not decrease the viewership of an Indian religious channel. When Hinduism is more fully appreciated for its vast treasure of ancient wisdom, it won’t have to be sold. It will sell itself. For this, education is needed. And what better place to educate than on television. ∏π

Viewer’s Speak Out About Religious TV
“These channels are really a boon for our children. There have been so many attempts to divide Hinduism. No one has succeeded yet. These religious channels are doing their part during these modern times to help pass the Hindu heritage on to the next generation. These two channels, Aastha and Sanskar, are very appropriate. They are like healthy blood in the body. If Aastha and Sanskar are there, our life is bright.” Sri P.R. Dawar Naturopath

“On Sanskar and Aastha, I watch bhajans for two hours a day. I am a fan of Sri Anup Jalota. I also like the pujas of Mahalakshmi, Ganesh and Sai Baba. I want to learn new bhajans. My mother watches these channels with me in the evenings and encourages me to learn to sing.” Riya Purushottam Kalawant Ten-year-old student “Children will do what they see their parents doing. Because my husband and I watch these programs, my daughter has also developed an interest in them. My friends and their families also watch these channels, and we keep on telling others about the sadhus that give the lectures.” Mrs. Soniya Kalawant Housewife and mother of Riya

“Religious programming is successful in India because people here are interested in religion. More than anywhere else in the world, we are deeply inclined toward a religious way of life. Other religions say one thing is bad and another is good. Our religion says: ‘If you do this, this happens; if you do that, that happens. Now decide what you want to do.’ These new religious channels are rendering a service, but it could be better. Life is becoming busier these days, and we don’t have much time to tell our kids what to do. We are losing touch with our spirituality. This is obvious. These programs could most certainly fill that communication gap. But the problem is: they are not interesting. How can you grab the attention of someone if your presentation is not interesting? This was one of the reasons my father was so successful. He knew how to grab the attention of the masses. If these channels could show good programs and give new information, I would ask my children to watch them. But if they are not interesting, a child will sit for a few minutes and then run away, regardless of what we say. We as Hindus should first strive to understand Hinduism. It is not only a way of worshiping God. It is a way of living life. The problem with a lot of us today is that we want to look good, rather than really being good. I came into film-making at the age of 23 just after I finished college. I perform havan every Sunday with my father and our family. In our house our Hindu culture is very much alive. We have tried to maintain that. Our children are very close to us. My father started all of this years ago, and I am continuing it.” Ravi Chopra: Eminent film producer, son of veteran producer Sri B. R. Chopra


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Big Plans for a Big Future in “Spiritual” TV
Kirit C. Mehta and wife Neena discovered aastha, “faith,” and created a religious channel by the same name to prove it
Hinduism Today correspondent Rajiv Malik sat with Kirit and Neena Mehta at their office in Worli, an industrial suburb of Mumbai. During animated interviews, they enthusiastically shared their thoughts and plans for the future—only two percent of which, they say, have been realized so far. First, excerpts from Kirit’s comments: What is the aim of Aastha? Aastha means faith. The aim of Aastha is to increase faith—faith in our people, faith in our country, faith in our religion and faith in God. Faith is something which is not born. In Hindi we say that it pragats, which means it appears or happens. Anything that is born ultimately dies. This word aastha was put by God in my brain. Is Aastha primarily for Hindus? The biggest chunk of these programs is undoubtedly Hindu in content, because that is the major faith here in India. We are definitely propagating, telecasting and broadcasting Hinduism. We have no shame in admitting this. Absolutely not. We are also a multilingual channel, although the predominant language is Hindi. Our broader target is to reach all of the religions and spiritual movements that have come out of India: Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism—all the “isms” that were born in India, and more. Besides being religious, how is Aastha different from other more secular Indian TV channels? Normally a new channel becomes popular in the big cities, then proliferates out to the smaller areas. Aastha made it first in small towns; then it went to big cities. Also, people usually watch television from about eight in the morning until eleven at night. Aastha viewers watch from before dawn until after midnight. Forty million households are connected to cable TV in India today. But the number of people actually watching is much more. In villages, where Aastha is most popular, people congregate in community halls and homes to watch television together. Do you have any religious programs for the youth? The negative influence of the West on our youth is partly our fault. We have encouraged it. But at the same time, Western countries and their people are being influenced by the Indian way of life and the “exotic East.” Aastha tries to show both the East and the West from a positive point of view, so that people can judge for themselves what is good and what is bad. The problem is that, until now, the youth have not been getting any sort of religious education. Once you give them something—even a little bit—you will find that they want more. The youth have a lot of interest in religion.

What is drawing youth toward Aastha? They have problems. They have a lot more problems than older people do. Old people have fulfilled their worldly responsibilities. The children are just starting. We are making a great effort to produce yoga and meditation programs for the youth. In these programs we are trying to show how religion and science go together, hand in hand. Any presentation of religion that has a scientific approach will definitely attract the youth. They want to understand the meanings of the rituals they see others following blindly. Were not their parents the same way when they were young? There is a basic difference in the last three generations. The first generation had blind faith. The second generation were fence sitters—neither here nor there. They just did what their elders did. This new generation wants clear answers to their questions and logical solutions to their problems. In yoga, they want to know, straight away, how they can attain liberation. You have often referred to your TV channel as “spiritual” rather than “religious?” What does “spiritual” mean? India’s future religious programming will be socio-spiritual, and promoting it this way is our mission. The word religion will not be much used. Spiritualism will be our key word. The prevailing attitude will be: “We cannot change the world. We can only change ourselves.” This is not to say that we will be shy about promoting traditional Hinduism. We will not. But for various reasons—social, political and economical—we do not want to propagate it all the time. Rather than preaching the teachings of Hinduism as a religion, we will talk about its best practices, such as tolerance, charity and other such positive things. However, we must also teach basic Hinduism in simple terminology.

Do you have any competition? There is Doordarshan. But in the name of secularism, Doordarshan has never featured spiritualitybased programs. This niche has always been absolutely empty. Private players won’t enter this field either. For them, the whole issue of religion is just too sensitive and causes too many problems, besides the fact that it does not make money. It is true that this channel is not yet profitable. But it could be. I see “pay TV” as our ultimate revenue model. With a strong subscription base, we could make this channel a wholesome, well-financed platform of communication, completely free of commercial advertising. The worldwide Hindu and Indian population is vast. There should be no difficulty in raising revenue from subscriptions. Can you speculate on the future of Aastha? This work is at a nascent stage. We have not done even two percent of what we have envisioned ourselves doing. We are holding more than five thousand years of wisdom from hundreds and thousands of saints and sages, and we have not even begun to put a fraction of that forward. This channel will become a part of every Hindu household, just like water, electricity and gas. The cable operators say that we are a very different channel for them. They say that once they start providing Aastha to the viewer, it stays. Once it enters a home, it enters forever. Neena Metha, Kirit’s wife, fully supports Aastha with lofty thoughts and a positive attitude. Here are excerpts from her responses:

A man with a vision: Kirit C. Mehta is Chairman and Managing Director, CMM Broadcasting Network Limited, which owns the Aastha television channel

Can you share some of the inspiration that helped create Aastha? We wanted to utilize our money in a fine way. So we are doing this. Spiritual donations are of several types. There is anna daan, or the donation of food, which would be effective only until the food is digested. The punyam (good merit) from this You recently covered the Kumbha Mela. only lasts that much time. Then there is Can you tell us a little about that? We the donation of clothes, which is effechave covered a lot of religious festivals, including the Kumbha Mela. Before the Full Support: Neena Mehta, wife of Kirit Mehta, tive until the clothes wear out, earning punyam for a little bit more time, but Mela, we were there when the roads maintains a spiritual look on Aastha not much. Then there is the donation of were being built and the infrastructure of the special city was being planned. During the Mela, we provid- something big, like a house. The punyam connected to this might last for years but would finally be gone when the house fell down. ed partial coverage, live. We had four teams filming four hours The best donation of all is gyan daan, the donation of knowledge. It every day for two months. We were working right with the UP lasts not only one lifetime but many. So I asked my husband, “Why government on this, and it was very successful. Hundreds of peonot undertake this job of gyan daan?” He thought it was a wonderple told us that they had come to the Kumbha Mela only after ful idea. Now, there could have been several ways to perform gyan watching it on our channel. During the next Mela, we plan to prodaan. We could have distributed books, for instance, but not everyvide live broadcast of the whole thing right through. body can read books. The obvious option for us was to perform this service through the media. In two years time our dreams of doing Does Aastha face difficulties? For us, the biggest challenge is havthis have come true. I fully believe that if one’s intentions are good, ing enough money to go worldwide. As Bill Gates had a dream of then good happens. Even our karmas are created, based on our inputting a computer in every house on Earth, we have a dream that tentions. How Aastha has come up is truly a miracle. That is why we every house around the globe should be watching Aastha. But we have had so many stumbling blocks and so many problems: govern- continue to put our heart and soul into it. We have realized that due to faith—which is the meaning of aastha—much can be achieved. ment licenses, foreign companies, foreign transmission, Reserve The whole world should have faith, and the whole world should Bank of India permissions and more. Yet never has our work progress. Things may be difficult to achieve, but they are never abstopped. Where will the money come from? We do not know. But solutely impossible. Our story is like a dream story that you might it is coming and we are growing. In the beginning, I used to read see on television. all of the mail myself. Now it is just too much.
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Preserving a Heritage of Devotional Bliss
Against all odds, Dilip Kabra holds his own with TV media giants
Brothers Dilip and Dinesh Kabra own and operate Sanskar, which—like Aastha—is strongly disadvantaged on a playing field long dominated by well established, secular television giants. Dilip talks with Hinduism Today corespondent Rajiv Malik about the challenges, rewards and prospects of this difficult work. What is Sanskar trying to achieve with religious TV? We are a part of a civilization that is devotional by temperament. In our tradition we stress bhavananda, the bliss of devotion, and not bhogananda, the bliss of material life. From the influence of this attitude through the ages, barbarians have become civilized and civilized men have become saints. Yet today we are not fully following this path of bhavananda. More can be done. Religious media can help by being a sort of modern-day guru. To be more precise, TV stations like Sanskar can act as mediums between India’s great gurus and the masses. There is also here a wonderful example of time management for today’s rush-rush generation. While one person may spend years striving diligently to understand a certain scripture, we can—if we do our job intelligently—take the essence of that scripture, distill it down and provide it for him and others in one concise ten-minute TV segment. There is a great power here. Our duty is to select the correct material and present it in the right way. If the right message reaches the right people—which are primarily the youth—our job is done. And, of course, we do not have to create anything new. Our great rishis have given us more than we could ever possibly use. Who is your primary audience? Seventy percent of our audience consists of women. In rural areas and villages, after the husbands leave for work, the wives watch us. Even while working around the house. Bhajan is a big part of bhakti (devotion). Our perspective on life benefits from the discourses, but bhajan is important for devotion. When a circus comes to a village, music will be played first to gather a crowd. In the same way, we provide the best possible bhajan first to establish a bond with our viewers. Then the holy men will speak.


Working smarter: With intelligent programming and careful editing, Dilip Kabra makes a little money go a long way

How is Sanskar doing financially? Everything is going fairly well right now. I am convinced that if we present the right content with the right attitude, we will get the right support. On this channel, content is king. If we sacrifice content for money, then problems will arise. We are running this channel at a very low profile. A ten-

His ecumenical spirit: The logo of Swamiji’s Integral Yoga Institute reflects his emphasis on the oneness of all religions
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integral yoga institute

What do these holy men say? What is Sanskar’s message? We feature Hinduism. If you ask why we feature Hinduism, I say that it is because Hinduism is the fundamental civilization of man. Where culture, devotion and religion come into play, we must work very cautiously. We must know the subject which we are delivering. Only in this way can we be correct and successful in educating the people. Today our channel is considered to be a spiritual channel. This is some mark of our success.

second advertisement on a premium channel would cost perhaps $4,000. That same slot on Sanskar is only about $25. We are competing with these big commercial channels for everything: advertisement, viewership, even resources and employees. Of course, this makes it difficult. Do these difficulties cause a quality loss in your broadcasting? Our strongest point is that we carefully choose, analyze and edit what we present. Our viewers expect to see something that will touch their hearts and minds. If we become successful in establishing intelligent devotion, then we will be successful in making an impact. The impact will bring the viewers and hold them. With limited means, a lot can be done. A bhajan singer does not spend money on writing scripts or verses. A monk requires no overhead. We have lots of plans for the future. There are many surprises in store. Stay tuned.

He taught the world that Truth is One, Paths are Many

Sharing the stage: (above) Swamiji poses with a live bearded friend and (below) with his guru, Swami Sivananda

going to know what the American youth can do for humanity.” Many credit his presence and blessings for the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed throughout that festival. Swami became a US citizen in 1976. By then he had already established the Integral Yoga Institute (IYI), which today has ashrams and centers throughout the USA and around the world. At about this same time, he founded the Center for Spiritual Studies in collaboration with a Catholic monk, a Zen monk and a Jewish Rabbi. This affiliation featured an annual event called “The Swami and the Rabbi,” which was enormously popular in New York City. The famous Yoga Ecumenical Retreats which followed attracted thousands of aspirants from all religions, bringing Swami recognition even at the Vatican in Rome. In 1981, after establishing large residential centers in both California and Connecticut, he moved his international headquarters to a 750-acre plot of land near Buckingham, Virginia. There he formed Satchidananda Ashram, Yogaville. Although Yogaville was and is a completely self-contained town in every sense, its jewel is the

all photos: integral yoga institute

transcended my body and mind,” recalled Swami Satchidananda in describing the crowning achievement of his yoga practice. “I forgot my individuality. It is impossible to explain exactly what this is. I must have spent several hours in that state. Then I heard a humming sound coming from a long distance away. Slowly, slowly, it became louder. As it neared, I became aware again of my mind and body. I came out of the cave but could not see anything in the normal way. All over, I saw light, light, light. The whole world appeared to be a mass of light. There was only peace everywhere. After that, I had this experience often.” It was most appropriate that Swami Satchidananda should be named after that experience, defined in Sanskrit as savikalpa samadhi, or satchidananda, which literally means “existence-consciousness-bliss.” That samadhi experience occurred in 1949 at Palani Hills, South India, when Swami was

35. On August 19, 2002, in Chennai—just about 300 miles away—he attained Mahasamadhi, which means “a great soul’s conscious release from the physical body.” Although these two life-defining experiences occurred in Swami’s homeland of India, America was the stage upon which Swami Satchidananda played out the better part of his 40-year spiritual destiny. Sri Gurudev, as Swami was affectionally referred to by his devotees, first came to the United States in 1966 as the guest of artist Peter Max and filmmaker Conrad Rooks. Although these two men assisted him in becoming instantly popular as a messenger of peace during the turbulent 60s, it was in 1969 in an upstate New York cow pasture at the three-day Woodstock Music Festival that he gained the name and fame that would help cement him into American history. There he told 400,000 youth, “The whole world is watching you. The entire world is

Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS). From a beautifully crafted water world of ponds, lakes and fountains, LOTUS rises majestically in the form of a huge, surreal, pink and white lotus flower, its petals made of Italian, glass mosaic tile. Inside, a vast, vibrant circular room contains a central altar with a three-dimensional yantra (a geometric form designed to focus spiritual energies). Above this yantra rises a 22-foot column of blue light that feeds into a radiant pink hub at the temple’s highest point. From there, it splinters into twelve rays that arch gracefully to connect with twelve shrines equally spaced around the wall of the room. Each of these twelve shrines represents one of the world’s major faiths. LOTUS is dedicated to the one divine light which all religions share. This central concept of the basic oneness of all things has always been at the core of Swami’s teaching. In 1991, as a compliment to Swami’s beautiful LOTUS and in respect for his own Hindu heritage, a glass-walled Lord Nataraja shrine, sponsored by his friend Dr. Karan Singh, was built on the hilltop overlooking Yogaville. Born in South India not far from Coimbatore in the village of Chettipalayam, Swami enjoyed a contented childhood in a religious Hindu family. Before his conception, his mother prayed and performed penance for a spiritual child. Her desire was fulfilled in 1914 with the birth of Ramaswamy. It was after his wife’s sudden, early death that Ramaswamy undertook serious meditative disciplines. He was initiated into sannyas (monasticism) by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India. This occurred in 1949, the same year as his enlightenment. Henceforth, he was known as Swami Satchidananda.

Swami’s trademark method of teaching was to couch useful wisdom in practical, often humorous, examples. His devotees loved him for it and often called him “Papa.” “A mother feels great joy in bringing forth a child even though it causes her great pain,” he once told a small group of close devotees. “Because of her love, she accepts the pain.” Dr. Dean Ornish, nationally recognized as an authority on heart disease, is one of Swami’s close disciples. His health and nutrition programs are based on the principles and practices of Integral Yoga and are now revolutionizing the lifestyles of thousands of Americans including Bill and Hillary Clinton, who hired him during the Clinton administration to retrain the White House chefs in healthier food preparation. Among his other disciples are singer-composer Carole King, who donated 600 acres to his Virginia ashram; jazz pianist Alice Coltrane and actresses Diane Ladd, Laura Dern and Sally Kirkland. For more than 30 years, Swami enjoyed a deep and fruitful friendship with Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the late publisher of Hinduism Today. In 1994 he received from Hinduism Today the “Hindu of the Year” award in recognition for a lifetime of service to yoga and mankind. Swami will always be remembered as one of Hinduism’s most respected and loved international ambassadors. His teachings are followed by people of nearly every religious, social and cultural background. Active to the very end of his days, Swami attended the Global Peace Conference of South India as its keynote speaker right before his passing. His final interment ceremony took place following his wishes on August 28, 2002, back in America at the Chidambaram Samadhi Shrine near LOTUS. The physical cause of his death was a ruptured thoracic aneurysm. Swami appointed no successors. His Institute is run by a board of trustees. ∏π

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His people, his work, his temple: (Top left) Swamiji relaxes with the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, publisher of Hinduism Today; (bottom left) with his staff and children from his school; the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS)
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Devout followers bring abundant gifts, prayers and petitions in loving worship of Lord Siva

Saivite Creed: Twelve Potent Verses Expounding the Essence of Saivism
very religion has a creed of one form or another, an authoritative formulation of its beliefs. Historically, creeds have developed whenever religions migrate from their homelands. Until then, the beliefs are fully contained in the culture and taught to children as a natural part of growing up. A creed is the distillation of volumes of knowledge into a series of easy-to-remember beliefs. A creed is meant to summarize the explicit teachings or articles of faith, to imbed and thus protect and transmit the beliefs. Creeds give strength to individuals seeking to understand life and religion. Creeds also allow members of one faith to express, in elementary and consistent terms, their traditions to members of another. Though the vast array of doctrines within Hinduism has not always been articulated in summary form, from ancient times unto today we have the well-known creedal mahavakya, “great sayings,” of the Vedic Upanishads. Now, in this technological age in which village integrity is being replaced by worldwide mobility, the importance of a creed becomes apparent if religious identity is to be preserved. We need two kinds of strength—that which is found in diversity and individual freedom to inquire and that which derives from a union of minds in upholding the universal and shared principles of our faith. Saivism is truly ageless, for it has no beginning. It is the precursor of the many-faceted religion now termed Hinduism. Scholars trace the roots of Siva worship back more than 8,000 years to the advanced Indus Valley civilization. But sacred writings tell us there never was a time when Saivism did not exist. Modern history records six main schools: Saiva Siddhanta, Pasupatism, Kashmir Saivism, Vira Saivism, Siddha Siddhanta and Siva Advaita. Saivism’s grandeur and beauty are found in a practical culture, an enlightened view of man’s place in the universe and a profound system of temple mysticism and yoga. It provides knowledge of man’s evolution from God and back to God, of the soul’s unfoldment and awakening guided by enlightened sages. Like all the sects, its majority are families, headed by hundreds of orders of swamis and sadhus who follow the fiery, worldrenouncing path to moksha. The Vedas state, “By knowing Siva, who is hidden in all things, exceedingly fine, like film arising from clarified butter, the One embracer of the universe—by realizing God, one is released from all fetters.” The twelve beliefs on the following pages embody the centuries-old central convictions of Saivism, especially as postulated in Saiva Siddhanta, one of the six schools of Saivism. They cover the basic beliefs about God, soul and world, evil and love and more. On the last page is a glossary of words used in the twelve beliefs.

Belief One

Belief Four

Siva’s followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose Absolute Being, Parasiva, transcends time, form and space. The yogi silently exclaims, “It is not this. It is not that.” Yea, such an inscrutable God is God Siva. Aum.

Siva’s followers all believe in the Mahadeva Lord Ganesha, son of SivaShakti, to whom they must first supplicate before beginning any worship or task. His rule is compassionate. His law is just. Justice is His mind. Aum.

Belief Two

Belief Five

Siva’s followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature of love, Parashakti, is the substratum, primal substance or pure consciousness flowing through all form as energy, existence, knowledge and bliss. Aum.

Siva’s followers all believe in the Mahadeva Karttikeya, son of Siva-Shakti, whose vel of grace dissolves the bondages of ignorance. The yogi, locked in lotus, venerates Murugan. Thus restrained, his mind becomes calm. Aum.

Belief Three

Belief Six

Siva’s followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature is the Primal Soul, Supreme Mahadeva, Paramesvara, author of Vedas and Agamas, the creator, preserver and destroyer of all that exists. Aum.

Siva’s followers all believe that each soul is created by Lord Siva and is identical to Him, and that this identity will be fully realized by all souls when the bondage of anava, karma and maya is removed by His grace. Aum.


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Belief Seven

Belief Ten

Siva’s followers all believe in three worlds: the gross plane, where souls take on physical bodies; the subtle plane, where souls take on astral bodies; and the causal plane, where souls exist in their self-effulgent form. Aum.

Siva’s followers all believe there is no intrinsic evil. Evil has no source, unless the source of evil’s seeming be ignorance itself. They are truly compassionate, knowing that ultimately there is no good or bad. All is Siva’s will. Aum.

Belief Eight

Belief Eleven

Siva’s followers all believe in the law of karma—that one must reap the effects of all actions he has caused—and that each soul continues to reincarnate until all karmas are resolved and moksha, liberation, is attained. Aum.

Siva’s followers all believe that religion is the harmonious working together of the three worlds and that this harmony can be created through temple worship, wherein the beings of all three worlds can communicate. Aum.

Belief Nine

Belief Twelve

Siva’s followers all believe that the performance of charya, virtuous living, kriya, temple worship, and yoga, leading to Parasiva through the grace of the living satguru, is absolutely necessary to bring forth jnana, wisdom. Aum.

Siva’s followers all believe in the Panchakshara Mantra, the five sacred syllables “Namasivaya,” as Saivism’s foremost and essential mantra. The secret of Namasivaya is to hear it from the right lips at the right time. Aum.


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attending the temple, performing one’s duty to community and family, honoring holy men, respecting elders, atoning for misdeeds and fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas which are: noninjury, truthfulness, nonstealing, divine conduct, patience, steadfastness, compassion, honesty, moderate appetite and purity. It is the stage of overcoming basic instinctive patterns such as the tendencies to become angry and hurtful. Right behavior and self-sacrificing service are never outgrown. The keynote of charya, or karma yoga, is seva, religious service given without the least thought of reward, which has the magical effect of softening the ego and bringing forth the soul’s innate devotion. Kriya Pada Saivism demands deep devotion through bhakti yoga in the kriya pada, the softening of the intellect and unfolding love. In kriya, the second stage of religiousness, our sadhana, or regular spiritual discipline, which was mostly external in charya, is now also internal. Kriya, literally “action or rite,” is a stirring of the soul in awareness of the Divine, overcoming the instinctive-intellectual mind. We Vedas study: A father and his two sons chant Vedic mantras together outside their now look upon the Deity image not just as carved adobe dwelling during their daily practice sessions. stone, but as the living presence of the God. We perform ritual and puja not because we have to but because we want to. We are drawn to the temple to satisfy our longing. We sing joyfully. We absorb and intuit the wisdom of the Vedas and Agamas. We perform pilgrimage and fulfill the sacraments. We practice diligently the ten classical observances called niyamas which are: remorse, contentment, giving, faith, worship of the Lord, scriptural listening, cognition, sacred vows, recitation and austerity. Our The path of enlightenment is divided naturally into four stages or relationship with God in kriya is as a son to his parents. padas: charya, virtue and selfless service; kriya, worshipful sadhanas; yoga, meditation under a guru’s guidance; and jnana, the Yoga Pada state of enlightened wisdom reached toward the path’s end as a re- Yoga, “union,” is the process of uniting with God within oneself, a sult of Self Realization through the Guru’s grace. These four padas stage arrived at through perfecting charya and kriya. God is now are quite similar to the four yogas of Vedanta: karma yoga, bhakti like a friend to us. This system of inner discovery begins with yoga, raja yoga and jnana yoga. However, there is one key differ- asana—sitting quietly in yogic posture—and pranayama, breath ence. Whereas in Vedanta you can choose to follow just one of the control. Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, brings awareness into dhayogas, in the Saiva Siddhanta school of Saivism we need to pass rana, concentration, then into dhyana, meditation. Over the years, under ideal conditions, the kundalini fire of consciousness ascends through all four stages, or padas. Let’s say the path of life is rocks across a shallow stream. Vedanta to the higher chakras, burning the dross of ignorance and past kargives us four separate rock paths to choose from, one for each of the mas. Dhyana finally leads to enstasy—the contemplative experience four yogas, all of which lead across the river. Saiva Siddhanta gives of Satchidananda, God as energy-bliss, and ultimately to nirvikalpa us one path for crossing the river which consists of four stones: samadhi, the experience of God as Parasiva, timeless, formless, spaceless. Truly a living satguru is needed as a steady guide to tracharya, kriya, yoga and jnana. The four stages are not alternative ways, but progressive, cum- verse this path. When yoga is practiced by one perfected in kriya, ulative phases of a one path, much like the natural development of the Gods receive the yogi into their midst through his awakened, a butterfly from egg to caterpillar, from caterpillar to pupa, and then fiery kundalini, or cosmic energy within every individual. the final metamorphosis to butterfly. The four stages are what each human soul must pass through in many births to attain its final goal Jnana Pada of moksha, freedom from rebirth. In the beginning stages, we suffer Jnana is divine wisdom emanating from an enlightened being, a soul until we learn. Learning leads us to service; and selfless service is in its maturity, immersed in Sivaness, the blessed realization of God, the beginning of spiritual striving. Service leads us to understand- while living out earthly karma. Jnana is the fruition of yoga and ing. Understanding leads us to meditate deeply and without distrac- tapas, or intense spiritual discipline. Through yoga one bursts into tions. Finally meditation leads us to surrender in God. This is the the superconscious mind, experiencing bliss, all-knowingness and straight and certain path, the San Marga, leading to Self Realization, perfect silence. It is when the yogi’s intellect is shattered that he soars into Parasiva and comes out a jnani, a knower. Each time he the inmost purpose of life. enters that unspeakable nirvikalpa samadhi, he returns to consciousness more and more the knower. He is the liberated one, the jiCharya Pada Charya, literally “conduct,” is the first stage of religiousness and the vanmukta, the epitome of kaivalya—perfect freedom—far-seeing, foundation for the next three stages. It is also called the dasa mar- filled with light, filled with love. One does not become a jnani simga, meaning “path of servitude,” for here the soul relates to God as ply by reading and understanding philosophy. The state of jnana lies servant to master. The disciplines of charya include humble service, in the realm of intuition, beyond the intellect.

The Four Stages of Saivism

Siva. A great Mahadeva worshiped in all parts of India and the world. Also known as Murugan, Kumara, Skanda, Shanmukhanatha and Subramanya, He is the God who guides that part of evolution which is religion, the transformation of the instinctiveness into DiThe following definitions are simple descriptions of vinity through the practice of yoga. words used in the twelve preceding beliefs. kriya pada: The stage of worship and devotion, second of four progressive stages to God Realization. Absolute Reality: The timeless, formless, spaceless, unchanging and transcendent God Siva—Parasiva. It is the Self God, the essence of marga: “Path; way.” From marg, “to seek.” maya: The world of form, created by God, of God, through His man’s soul. grace as an arena for the soul’s evolution. One of the soul’s three Agama: An enormous collection of ancient Sanskrit scriptures. They bonds which must be overcome to attain God Realization. are sruti, or, revealed scriptures and have equal authority to the Vedas. The major Hindu sects—Saivism, Vaishnavism and Shak- moksha: “Liberation.” Release from the cycle of births and deaths, after karma has been resolved and God Realization attained. tism—each have their own Agamas. Agamas are the primary source for instructions on temple ritual and construction, philoso- Panchakshara Mantra: “Five-lettered chant.” Namasivaya. The foremost mantra for Saivites. It means “Praise to Siva,” and appears in phy and yoga. Yajur Veda. anava: Individualizing veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. One of the three malas or bonds, along with karma and maya, that bind Paramesvara: Name of Lord Siva as the Supreme Mahadeva, origin of the universe. Siva as a person—who has a body, with head, arms the soul. The effect of anava is to make us think we are separate and legs—who acts, wills, blesses, gives darsana, guides, creates, and distinct from God. After many lifetimes, we finally break this preserves, reabsorbs, obscures and enlightens. veil of ignorance and realize the Truth—that we are one with God. astral body: The subtle, nonphysical body in which the soul func- Parashakti: “Supreme power; primal energy.” God Siva as the energy and consciousness behind all creation. tions in the astral plane, or inner world also called Antarloka. The astral body includes the pranic sheath, the instinctive-intellectual Parasiva: The Supreme, Transcendent Siva, beyond time, form and space. The Self God—beyond the grasp of sheath and the cognitive sheath. The pranconsciousness. It defies description and can ic sheath is discarded at the death of the only be understood through direct experiphysical body. ence, God Realization. causal plane: The highest or most subtle Primal Soul: Siva, the uncreated, original, world of existence, Sivaloka. perfect God. The first soul, source of all charya: The first of the four stages we go other souls. See: Paramesvara. through to realize God. The stage of good Primal Substance: The subtle energy and conduct where one learns to live accordform from which the manifest world in its ing to dharma and serve selflessly. infinite diversity is derived. See: Parashakti. Ganesha: “Lord of Categories.” Ganesha is a Pure Consciousness: See: Parashakti. Mahadeva, the beloved elephant-faced Desamsara: “Flow.” The world, existence, ity honored by Hindus of every sect. He is fraught with change. The cycle of birth, the Lord of Obstacles, revered for His great death and rebirth; the total pattern of sucwisdom and invoked first before any uncessive earthly lives experienced by a soul. dertaking, for He knows all intricacies of self-effulgent: Producing its own light; radieach soul’s karma and the perfect path of ating light. dharma that makes action successful. soul: The innermost part of us, created by grace: A gift from God given out of His love. Lord Siva. Called atman in Sanskrit. The Lord Siva’s revealing grace is how souls soul never dies, but takes on one physical awaken to their true, Divine nature. body after another until we know God. The gross plane: The physical world. See: three essence or nucleus of the soul is eternally worlds identical and at one with God Siva. immanent: Indwelling; inherent and operatsubstratum: “Layer underneath.” In philosing within. Relating to God, immanent ophy, that which is “underneath,” not visimeans present in all things and through- Temple worship: With Siva watching, devoble, the substance or underlying force which out the universe, not aloof or distant. tees approach a temple traditionally with ofis the foundation of any and all creation. inscrutable: That which cannot be ana- ferings of flowers, fruits and water subtle plane: The unseen world of existence lyzed or understood. Mysterious; beyond between our physical world and the world of the Gods, Antarloka. examining or defining. Souls between birth live here as devas. We can also enter this intrinsic evil: Inherent, inborn badness or negativity. Hinduism world while we sleep. holds that there is no intrinsic evil, and the real nature of man is his supplicate: To ask for humbly. To pray for earnestly. divine, soul nature, which is goodness. jnana: The fourth of the four stages of religious development accord- three worlds: The three worlds of existence, the primary divisions of the cosmos. 1) Bhuloka: “Earth world,” the physical plane. 2) ing to Saiva Siddhanta (and many other schools of Hindu philosoAntarloka: “Inner or in-between world,” the subtle or astral plane phy). The mature state of the soul after God Realization. where souls go during sleep and after death. 3) Sivaloka: “World of karma: “Action,” “deed.” One of the most important principles in Siva,” and of the Gods and highly evolved souls; the causal plane. Hindu thought, karma refers to 1) any act or deed; 2) the principle of cause and effect; 3) a consequence, which sooner or later returns yoga: “Union.” The many practices, such as meditation, breathing, japa, postures of the body, that are used by yogis to reach divine upon the doer. What we sow, we shall reap in this or future lives. consciousness. Prominent among the many forms of yoga are hatha Selfish, hateful acts will bring suffering. Good actions will bring yoga (emphasizing bodily perfection in preparation for meditaloving reactions. Karma is a neutral, self-perpetuating law of the tion), kriya yoga (emphasizing breath control), as well as karma inner cosmos, much as gravity is an law of the outer cosmos. yoga (selfless service) and bhakti yoga (devotional practices). Karttikeya: Child of the Pleiades, from Krittika, “Pleiades.” A son of
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New Jersey address: After receiving the Hindu of the Year award, Dada addressed hundreds of devotees gathered to meet him


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Beloved Sindhi religious leader, 84, is honored as Hindu of the Year
B Y L AVINA M ELWANI N EW Y ORK f anyone has a blueprint for a better world, it is Dada J.P. Vaswani, the gentle and unassuming spiritual head of the Pune-based Sadhu Vaswani Mission. Hinduism Today is proud to honor him with the Hindu Renaissance Award as Hindu of the Year, 2002. His life is a synonym for peace, grace and compassion, and it is these qualities that he passes through word and action to thousands of people in countries as far apart as India, the US, England, Hong Kong and Australia. Starting in 1990, Hinduism Today has honored one eminent Hin-

Where the World’s One Billion Hindus Live
Hindus are one-sixth of the human family. While India is home to 93% of the world’s one billion Hindus, nearly 70 million are scattered widely across the globe.
Yugoslavia: 8,000 Netherlands 180,000 England: 1,300,000 Germany: 100,000 France: 150,000 Belgium: 6,000 Austria: 6,100 Spain: 12,500 Portugal: 8,000 Italy: 25,000 Bahrain: 24,000 Martinique and Egypt: 6,000 Guadaloupe Gulf States: 310,000 50,000 Ethiopia: 3,000 Jamaica Trinidad: 320,000 25,000 Guyana: 450,000 Surinam: 200,000 French Guiana: 5,000 Nigeria: 30,000 Uganda: 20,000 Zambia: 25,000 Malavi: 3,000 Botswana: 7,000 Zimbabwe: 6,000 Argentina 4,000 Denmark: 15,000 Norway: 11,000 Switzerland: 60,000 Russia: 15,000

Canada 470,000 United States 2,000,000 Kauai Aadheenam: 30 Hawaii: 700

Nepal: 23,500,000

Japan: 6,000 Bhutan: 300,000 Bangladesh: 12,100,000 Myanmar: 294,000 Hong Kong: 90,000 Vietnam: 5,500 Thailand: 7,000 Philippines:1,100 Indonesia: 5,900,000

Pakistan 1,200,000

India 900,000,000

Afghanistan Sri Lanka 130,000 2,200,000 S. Yemen: 7,000 Malaysia 1,290,000 Somalia: 6,000 Singapore Kenya: 75,000 171,000 Tanzania: 70,000 Mauritius: 700,000 Reunion: 290,000 Madagascar: 1,100 South Africa: 1,430,000

Fiji: 600,000

Australia 75,000 New Zealand 38,769

Algeria 500 Barbados 100 Brazil 50 Brunei 500 Cameroon 50 C. African Rep.20

Czech Republic and Slovakia 100 Chad 20 Chile 20 China 250 Congo 100

Columbia Cuba Ecuador Finland Gabon Ghana

50 100 500 100 100 500

Guinea Hungary Iceland Ireland Israel Italy

50 50 6 20 100 200

Ivory Coast 1,000 Zambia 500 Jordan 1,000 Lebanon 100 Liberia 500 Laos 500

Libya 500 Mexico 20 Morocco 50 Mozambique 500 Panama 500 Poland 100

Qatar Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone South Korea Sudan

500 100 500 500 50 1000

Syria 100 Tunisia 100 Turkey 100 Upper Volta 100 Yemen, North 100 Zaire 500

Presented by HINDUISM TODAY to Hindu of the Year, 2002, Dada Jashan P. Vaswani, spiritual head of the Sadhu Vasvani Mission in Pune, India, for a lifetime of exemplary preaching of Hindu dharma through his inspired and eloquent oratory, soul-stirring publications and a loving, saintly presence which envelops friend and total stranger alike, effortlessly transcending divisions of race, creed, politics and nationalities.


du each year who has most impacted the faith and spread its values, compassion and profundity across the globe. Past renaissance winners are: Swami Paramananda Bharati (’90), Swami Chidananda Saraswati, “Muniji” of Parmath Niketan (’91), Swami Chinmayananda (’92), Mata Amritanandamayi Ma (’93), Swami Satchidananda (’94), Pramukhswami Maharaj (’95), Sri Satya Sai Baba (’96), Sri Chinmoy (’97), Swami Bua (’98), Swami Chidananda Saraswati of Divine Life Society (’99), Ma Yoga Shakti (’00) and priest Sri T. S. Sambamurthy Sivachariar (’01). Dada Vaswami’s life is a life well lived, proof that even one person can make a difference in changing mind-

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Dada J. P. Vaswani

sets and changing the world. Born in 1918 in Hyderabad, he was drawn to the teachings of his uncle and mentor, the great spiritual leader Sadhu Vaswani. As a child, he remembers his uncle’s allowing him to win in a round of Scrabble, a game that in those days was called Word Making and Word Taking. When he asked his uncle why he did that, the master replied, “I always give—I never take.” Recalls Dada, “And that I remembered all my life. I thought I would be joining a great giver, and to do that I had to give up everything, and I was ready to do so.” A brilliant student, Dada received three double promotions in school and matriculated at the age of 13. In college he excelled in English and science, and his family hoped he would sit for the ICS exam. In spite of having received B.Sc and M.Sc degrees and having passed the LLB examination, he decided instead to follow in the spiritual footsteps of Sadhu Vaswani. As a child, he saw that Sadhu Vaswani not only gave his shirt to a beggar but even his cap when the man pointed to it. Says Dada, “His words are engraved on the tablet of my heart. He said, ‘This cap and this shirt and everything that I have is a loan given to me to be passed on to those whose need is greater than mine.’ ” “That was his teaching,” Dada explained, “Everything we have is a trust, a loan to be passed on to others: our time, our talent, our experience, our knowledge, our wisdom, our position and prestige in society, our bank accounts, our properties, our possessions; our life itself is a loan given to us to be passed on to those whose need is greater than ours. And that left such a stamp on me.” Sadhu Vaswani’s ideals have been translated into reality by Dada through the many humanitarian activities of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission (www.sadhuvaswani.org). The Saint Mira schools, named for Mirabai, the famed 15th century Hindu woman saint, include excellent schools and a college in Pune. They are character-building institutions which give children a first-rate education and also Indian ideals and a strong value system. The many institutions of the Sadhu Vaswani Medical Complex include state-of-theart hospitals, dispensaries and clinics providing services to the needy. Dada believes that, “Service of the poor is the worship of God.” The Mission is vital to the life of Pune, and its wonderful effects have spread into many Indian cities and states, as well as into the wider world outside. Dada has been a tireless traveler, reaching out to people across the world. Sadhu Vaswani centers have sprung up in many countries with a devoted following. His visits encompass talks, satsangs and sadhana camps, which are an exercise in spiritual fitness. An internationally acclaimed thinker and

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Dada’s honored: (clockwise from above) Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami greets Dada during his 2001 visit to Kauai Aadheenam; Dada offers the Hindu of the Year plaque to his guru’s picture; Hinduism Today correspondent Lavina Melwani, second from left, and Dr. Jayaraman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, present the award to Dada

philosopher, Dada has spoken at eminent venues including the House of Commons in London, the Global Forum of Spiritual Leaders in Oxford, the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago and the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the UN in New York. Dada has been the recipient of many awards, including the U Thant Peace Award, and has written over 75 books that have been translated into several languages. His many parables, his wisdom, his humor and his approachability make his message accessible to both the scholar and the man on the street. At 84, he maintains the optimism and

joy of a child and takes each day as a gift from God. Dada Vaswani spoke with Hinduism Today in New York. Here are excerpts: On the origins of Sadhu Vaswani Mission: It came to be known by that name only after Sadhu Vaswani dropped his physical body. Before that it was known as the Brotherhood Association and before that, while we were in Sind, it was known as the Sakhi Satsang Association. It started as a women’s organization. Sadhu Vaswani believed it was the woman’s soul that would lead us on. He used to say man has had his chance—man has bungled, man has blundered, man has
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built up a civilization of violence and war, of hatred and strife—the new civilization will be built by women. He told women, “The shaktis (powers) that are hidden within you—you must unfold them and spend them in the service of suffering humanity.” He started women’s stores, a school and college, but gradually the men folk joined in, too. On the Mission activities: They are based on the teachings of Sadhu Vaswani—service of the poor is the richest service that you can offer to God—so the aim of many of the institutions we have in Pune is to serve the people. We must take care of the children. The children of today are the builders of tomorrow. So we must give them the right training. We must have mothers of the true type and schools and colleges of the true type. So a humble attempt has been made in that direction. The emphasis continues to be on girls’ education. Sadhu Vaswani also believed that the noblest work is to cultivate the soul. Therefore, the basis of all our work is the satsang (gathering for religious instruction and singing). There are three satsangs a day at the Pune center, including one in the evening where hundreds attend. The last half an hour is a meditation at the sacred samadhi of Sadhu Vaswani. On what gives him satisfaction: That I’m doing my little bit to spread the message of the master. They want something from me because they think I am an agent of the master. I’m a servant, one of the many servants of the master. On stress: I think there would be no stress if we lived in harmony, in accordance with the will of God. It is because we have forgotten that and are self willed that there is stress. If only we can merge our will with the will of God, if only we can understand that what God wills for us is better than what we will for ourselves, that in everything the Lord wills for us is the meaning of his mercy, because God is all love, God is all wisdom. He is too loving to punish. He’s too wise to make a mistake. In our prayers we address Him as our parent, but in our daily

lives we do not bear witness to this great truth that we are the children of the Divine. If only we behaved as children! A child has no fear, has no worry, no anxiety because he knows his mother is near to take care of him. If only we lived like children, there would be no stress, no tension and no fear. On the Gujarat riots: I would not justify what happened. Muslim or Hindu, we are all human beings. We should try to come together and try to understand each other. Why did the Muslims do that? [Dada refers to the attack on the train in Godhra, killing 58 people, mostly women and children, the incident that sparked the March 2002 riots.] Has anyone gone into the problem and found out? That’s the way to solve the problem. Problems will keep multiplying. But this is all politics and it’s all vote catching. If that is the purpose, then there will be no solution. We were in Sind—Hindus and Muslims lived like brothers. So much so that if the father of a Hindu family had to travel, he would request his Muslim neighbors to take care of his family, and they would take greater care of them than of their own family. There were Hindus, prominent Hindus, wealthy Hindus who were disciples of Muslim murshids—Sufi murshids (teachers) who made no difference between Hindus and Muslims. To them, both were the same. On the Sufi touch in his teachings: It is because we are from Sind and Sind was a place of Sufis. Mystics who believed that there is only one God. Yes, but that has been lost sight of, because of the impact of politics. On the Ram Temple in Ayodhya: I think they did well when they had agreed to let the Supreme Court decide, and that they would abide by that decision. It is true that the Mughals came and razed the Hindu temples, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of them and built mosques in their place. But that was because the Hindus became weak. They could not protect their own properties, their own country. The Mughals came and sat like masters over them. But once the mosque was permitted to be built, you can’t

break and raze it to the ground. The mosque is as much a place of worship as a temple. We should have reverence for both. Whenever I pass a mosque, I bow down to it. Whenever I pass by a church, I bow down to it—because they are the places of worship of that one God whom I seek. It is true that the Hindus need to become a vital people— that is the positive aspect of this. The sin of Hinduism is weakness, and if they continue to be weak, then they will be overrun, because that is the law of life. So the Hindus need to become vital—but not vital in the sense that they go and kill innocent people, people who did nothing to them. His typical day: My day begins with spending time in silence. That is the time I get to myself. Around half past nine I open my doors. I must have a walk every day. My food is very simple, mostly fruit and biscuits and a cup of tea. I used to take raw salads at noon. Steamed vegetables, yogurt, one small chapatti. They give me two vegetables—but I’m happy with one. And a cup of dal. I now take soy milk instead of cow’s milk because the cows are very cruelly treated in factory farming. Ever since I learned about it nine or ten years ago, I gave up milk. I believe it’s the food of violence. The cows are confined to a small area. They can’t move and are just milk manufacturing machines. On vegetarianism: You don’t need to be a vegetarian to be a good human being, because I have seen many who are nonvegetarians and are very good people. But I regard the vegetarian diet as a sattvic (pure) diet, and it’s always better to take sattvic rather than tamasic (literally, “of darkness”) or rajasic (passionate). We observe November 25 worldwide as Meatless Day because of the cruelty involved. Hundreds of thousands of animals are being slaughtered every day; but they love life as much as you and I do, as much as those people do who eat them up. I believe it is injustice because creation is one family. The breath that animals take is the same breath that we take. They are our kindred, our kin. It is the duty of

man to protect his younger brothers and sisters in the one family of creation, from the cruel knife of the butcher. And I believe animals should be given their rights. Today wherever I go they talk of animal welfare. Animal welfare is not the answer—animal rights are needed. Men have their rights—do animals have no rights? Men have their rights. Do they not have duties toward animals who have befriended them since the dawn of creation? The dog, the horse and the cow—how much they have taken care of man, how much they have served man. Every animal has certain fundamental rights and the very first right of every animal is the right to live; for you cannot take that away what you cannot give. And since you cannot give life to a dead creature, you have no right to take away the life of a living one. The 18th century gave rights to man, the 19th century gave rights to slaves, and the 20th century has given rights to women. The 21st century, I verily believe, will give rights to animals, and that will be a glorious day in the history of humanity. I believe there will be no peace on Earth unless we stop all killing. On educating children: I think it is the duty of parents to educate their children and tell them of the rich heritage that belongs to them as the children of India. But both parents are often busy making money, with the result that the children are neglected. There are thinkers and philosophers the world over who say our hope is in India, India’s culture, India’s message. It is a sinking world civilization in which we live—the hope of this sinking civilization is India. If only our children were told of their rich heritage, I don’t think they will succumb to peer pressure. Now they have no roots, no foundation to stand on—therefore they easily succumb to peer pressure. On corporal punishment of children: It is a great crime. Never hit a child. You should love him so much that if he does something that he should not have done, you simply turn away from him, and that is the punish-

ment that will set him right. If we hit children, they become more obstinate and it creates a psychological complex within them. On making children proud of Hinduism: Every Hindu parent should train their child to be a good ambassador of India’s culture. Every child is an ambassador in the making if only he will bear witness in deeds of daily living to the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Ramayana. He can be a model. We are a minority here in America. We are a very, very small minority—but that is our opportunity. We can be an example to the rest of the world. On Sindhi culture: I’m afraid during the years that have gone by since Partition Sindhi culture is on the wane. [The Sind homeland became part of Pakistan at Partition, and nearly all Sindhi Hindus fled to India and elsewhere around the world.] But I can find, wherever I go, a new movement for the uplift of this culture. I believe Sindhi culture has so much to contribute to the life and thought of humanity, and I have no doubt that it will come up again. On conversion: Ram and Rahim [a Muslim term for God] are one, but we have to be true to Rama because we have been born in a Hindu family. We have to be true to our dharma. Each one has his own dharma. I don’t believe in converting other people from other religions to Hinduism. You teach those Christians to be better Christians; you teach those Muslims to be better Muslims because they are born in that faith—God’s will has sent them into that particular faith. Their evolution will be worked out only when they are true to their own faith. Likewise, we must see that we as Hindus become better Hindus. I should be a better Hindu today than I was yesterday. I should be a better Hindu tomorrow than I am today. On reincarnation: For an Indian it’s in his blood to believe in reincarnation and in life after death. But you say, “What is the scientific proof?” Each country has specialized in something or other—India specialized in spirituality. It carried out experiments in

Photos (left to right): On March 28, 2001, Dada Vaswani visited Kauai Aadheenam, home of Hinduism Today, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He first worshiped at the Nepalese Ganesha at the ashram’s entrance; then (photo 2) met with Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, presenting him a shawl. Then he toured the HINDUISM TODAY offices with the magazine’s staff.Dada addressed the assembled monks; and (right) was blessed by Gurudeva. atma vidya—the science of the spirit. But also modern research has been carried out. A group of twelve scientists went around the world looking at cases of reincarnation. They have given in detail their findings, which point to reincarnation and to life after death. Life doesn’t end. This is only one chapter in a huge volume of life, only one small chapter. We learn many lessons. We come to this Earth plane. We wear the human body to be tested whether we have actually learned those lessons or not. Because matter on this plane is gross, when we come into contact with physical matter that is when the test begins. In the astral world, the material is very plastic. It yields to thought. I think of something and it happens. Not so here. On meaning in life: The word of God and more than that, harmony with the will of God, gives meaning to my day. I rejoice in whatever happens. It comes as a prasadam (a blessed offering) out of the spotless hands of the Lord. By approaching life with this attitude, there is no conflict. You are always at peace. You are at peace with yourself. You are at peace with those around you. You’re at peace with God’s cosmic laws. I believe there’s no treasure richer than peace of mind. Accept everything that happens. Sadhu Vaswani said God is the Great Cosmic Spirit and humanity is His bride. He loves each one of us. Why can’t we trust him? ∏π
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Vel Muruga!
Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus–and some Singhalese Buddhists–turned out for Nallur Kandaswamy Temple’s biggest-ever annual festival as peace talks commenced in Thailand

Returning to the sanctum: Dressed in green for His return from circumambulating the great Nallur Temple in His ornate chariot, Lord Murugan is carried on this magnificent silver palanquin back into the sanctum. (inset) This bell was recovered recently during the destruction of the “Dutch Fort,” which was built with the stones and upon the site of the original Nallur Temple, destroyed in the 18th century by the Portuguese, the first Christian conquerors of Sri Lanka. The bell’s recovery and restoration to the temple was a significant emotional rite for Jaffna’s Hindus.

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Festival scenes—August 13 to September 7, 2002: (clockwise from above) ❶ Lord Murugan departs in His grand chariot to circumambulate the temple’s sanctum. The six-faced Arumugaswami parade icon is brought out from the temple just once a year. The rest of the time He occupies a place to the side of the central sanctum. On special occasions He is worshiped by six priests with six camphor lamps, one for each face. ❷ As penance, thousands of young men rolled around the temple in the hot sun. Here they pass the chariot. Some also had their cheeks and tongues pierced with small silver spears. They extended nearly a mile behind the chariot. At left in this photo, one sees some of the school children who provided crowd control in their white and blue uniforms. No armed soldiers were present on the temple grounds, unlike at previous festivals. ❸ The “Saparam” is a special chariot used before the main chariot. ❹ A feature of this year’s festival was dozens of young boys, such as this youth, carrying the traditional kavadi offering to the temple. š Aadheenakartar, head monk, of the Nallai Aadheenam, a monastery adjacent to Nallur. The highly respected Swami Sri La Sri Somasundara Paramacharya is the principle representative of Hinduism in Sri Lanka today. Fifteen years ago he was wounded when government troops attacked this area. He helped welcome the many swamis who came from India for this festival, including from the Ramakrishna Mission headquarters in Kolkata. ❻ The chief priest of Nallur Temple. Nallur has for many generations been privately managed by a family of the Mudaliar clan. For more information about this festival, visit the Nallur Temple website at www.nallur.org.



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all photos: sethu


New Life
A rare ceremony of renewal restores South India’s famed Arunachaleswarar temple
remember it vividly. it was 9:47 in the morning on June 27, 2002. That moment was perfectly still—like a calm before a storm. What followed was a devotional frenzy that all good Tamil Nadu temple-goers know only too well. Three hundred thousand devotees were packed around a 217-foot rajagopuram (one of four main outer temple towers) at the Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, South India. They had been there all morning—some since the night before. Suddenly, as if in response to some orchestrated cue, everyone roared, “Annamalaikku Haro Hara,” “Glory to the Lord of Annamalai.” Six eagles circled over the temple’s sanctum sanctorum and abhishekams (water ceremonies) were simultaneously performed in nine towers and nine shrines throughout the temple complex. The 1,300-year-old temple was experiencing its fifth known Maha Kumbhabhishekam. It was history in the making. The last such ceremony occurred in 1976. The two before that were in 1944 and 1903. A Maha Kumbhabhishekam is held either to formally consecrate a new temple or reconsecrate an old one, which usually occurs at twelve-year intervals, following renovation, extensive cleaning and renewal. The rites culminate with the priests’ pouring sanctified water over the temple spires, each of which resembles an inverted pot, or kumbha. Leading up to the consecration, a number of rituals are performed by the sthapati (main

It was the year 2002: (above) The Arunachaleswarar Siva Temple of Tiruvannamalai, as seen from atop Arunachala Hill, is the second largest temple in India; (right) Arunachaleswarar’s 2002 reconsecration ceremony was attended by 300,000 people temple architect) in charge of the construction or renovation. The temple at Arunachaleswarar is the second largest in India. Throughout its long history, it has enjoyed extraordinary popularity among wealthy patrons. This remains true today. Just before the Maha Kumbhabhishekam of 2002, more than a million dollars was spent on temple renovation and repair. Although a great deal of this money came from affluent donors, much was also solicited through pamphlets, posters and “door stickers”—as well as on television. All nine gopurams were repaired, renovated and repainted. The 1000-pillared mandapam (main temple hall) was completely cleaned and even outfitted with electricity. The temple’s entire collection of ceremonial utensils were scrubbed and polished. And much of the old ornamentation was refurbished with new, intricately designed carvings and designs—all gold-plated. During the ceremony itself, more than five thousand policemen were on hand to keep order. The water and fire rituals commenced in coordination with the conclusion of a nine-day annual festival featuring worj a n ua r y / f e b r ua r y / m a r c h , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay


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ship of the Hindu Goddesses Durga, Amman and Pitari. The inaugural puja was held in the newly constructed yagasala (a place of fire worship) on the evening of June 22. During the next six days, grand homas (fire ceremonies) were conducted at 102 agni kundams (fire pits) built in the yagasala just for this purpose. Each of these homas was dedicated to a God or Goddess. Thirty-three were for Annamalai (a form of Lord Siva), 25 for Amman (a form of Goddess Shakti), and five each for Gods Vinayagar, Murugan, Somaskander and Venugopal. The remaining 24 were committed to the parivara devathas (canonized saints devoted to Lord Siva). Three hundred Sivacharyas, 15 oduvars (traditional temple singers) and 120 Vedic scholars from all over India orchestrated the homas while 108 tavil players (temple drummers) and nadaswaram masters (tem-

ple horn players) provided appropriate festival music. The grand procession around the temple was led by Tyagaraja Gurukkal (69) and Alasyanatha Gurukkal (54), both long-time chief priests at Arunachaleswara Temple. Doordarshan, Jaya TV and a local television channel beamed the Kumbhabhishekam live as it occurred. All India Radio also broadcast a running commentary. Dina Malar, a renowned Tamil daily, hired seven photographers to cover the event. All in all it was a grand event in Tamil Nadu, a gracious gift of upliftment to its motherland of India, otherwise deeply troubled by the darker events of 2002. For hundreds of years, the town of Tiruvannamalai and the temple Arunachaleswara have stood foremost among South India’s most sought-after spiritual destinations. Successive South Indian kings always gave

great importance to them both. They dug ponds and wells—built gopurams, compound walls and prakarams (temple courtyards) and donated jewels and gold. Famous Indian kings down through history—like Rajaraja Chola, Rajendra Chola, Harihara Bukkar, Krishna Deva Rayar, as well as the kings of the Chera, Pallava, Pandya, Rashtrakotta, Hoysala and Naik dynasties—were proud to have Tiruvannamalai as part of their kingdom. Some of them even made it their capital. Even when caught in political crisis, they held onto Tiruvannamalai. Historical details about the Arunachaleswarar Temple are revealed in stone inscriptions on the prakara walls and copper plates of the temple itself. These inscriptions, which refer to a period of time spanning a thousand years starting from 750 ce, indicate that the greatness of Arunachaleswarar was made known to the kings of

the times primarily through important South Indian devotional literature like the Thevaram and Thiruvasagam. Aruna literally means “force” and achala means “that which cannot be moved.” So, Arunachaleswarar Temple represents Lord Siva as indomitable power. The Arunachaleswarar Siva Temple is located 125 miles from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. Its day-to-day administration is currently controlled by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department of the Tamil Nadu Government. Tiruvannamalai and its famous temple are attracting an increasing number of pilgrims every year. On a single festival day, it may accommodate as many as a million devotees. And that was before the million-dollar renovation and Maha Kumbhabhishekam of 2002. Certainly, the best is yet to come.∏π By Kesav Mallia, Chennai error of their ways. Lord Brahma, He proclaimed, would not be deified in temples, and the screw pine would never be used in worship. This has indeed come to pass. There are no Brahma temples (save one), and nobody ever worships with screw pine flowers. It goes without saying that Vishnu was judged superior to Brahma. So the story goes. Now, there is an epilogue to this which applies specifically to Arunachaleswara Hill. Apparently, Siva, who was really upset with

Repaired, cleaned, polished and ready for blessings: Six days before the Maha Kumbhahbishekam, the refurbished spires that crown the temple towers are made ready to rise Brahma and the flower over this lying incident, was scorching all three worlds with the roaring flames of His righteous indignation— so much so that the celestials were impelled to ask Him to stop. Siva obliged by cooling down and manifesting as Arunachaleswara Hill. Both Brahma and Vishnu prayed to Siva that He take the form of a Linga on the east side of the hill and, in remembrance of the blazing fire, appear as a light further up toward the top each year on the Hindu holy day of Karttikeya Dipam. According to the legend, Lord Siva granted this prayer. Today, the 2,668-foot-tall Arunachala Hill is regarded as Tejo Lingam, Lord Siva as a pillar of fire. Some even say that traditional worship of the Sivalingam as it is currently practiced commenced on Arunachala. The eight-mile circuit around the base of the hill is itself a pilgrimage destination. Along its way are more than 360 tirthams (holy tanks) and 400 Lingams. Ramana Maharishi’s ashram is situated here on this circuit, making it all the more famous. ∏π

The Legend of Endless Fire
A mythical story of three Gods

The Pillar of Fire: This illustration shows Lord Siva appearing before Brahma and Vishnu as an flaming column of light

he long-lived fame of the great Arunachaleswara Hill is inextricably connected to an ancient Hindu legend recorded in an important Hindu literary work entitled Skanda Puranam. According to this story, two Hindu Gods—Lord Brahma, the creator, and Lord Vishnu, the preserver—each claimed superiority over the other. Somewhat embarrassed that distinguished Gods of the celestial realm should be engaged in such a puerile altercation, Lord Siva, the Lord of the Universe, appeared before them as a pillar of fire, known as Sthanu or Lingodbhavamurti in Sanskrit. In an effort to somehow arbitrate or at least ameliorate their discord, He boomed forth in a deep voice, “Whosoever should find either the beginning or the end of this light of mine shall be considered, now and forever more, the superior of you two.” Upon hearing this, Vishnu took the form of a boar and dug into the depths of the Earth, seeking the beginning of the light. Alas, he returned disappointed. Brahma became a swan and flew up and up, seeking the light’s top. He too was about to give up in despair when, by chance, he happened upon a falling flower who embarked upon a conversation with him. The flower—which by name was a pandanus odoratissimus, more commonly known as a screw pine—asked the God what in the world he was doing flying so high. Brahma replied that he was just seeking the end of the light but had been thus far unsuccessful in finding it. Upon hearing this, the screw pine—not knowing the light had no beginning or end—delightedly struck upon a mischievous plan: They would tell Siva they found the end of the light and be each other’s witness to the fact. Brahma liked the idea and so they returned and reported their story. Siva, of course, was upset. He had no patience with liars. Hence, He decided and so decreed that Brahma and the flower should be provided a lesson in humility, by which they might learn the

The magic mountain: Arunachaleswara Hill is said to be catacombed with tunnels and caves where ageless rishis sit to this day in deep meditation

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Our Cultural Fusion
How I, a Russian-Jewish woman, moved to America, met and married an Indian-American and integrated three worlds into my experience
B Y J ANE S RIVASTAVA , G EORGIA was born in the former soviet Union, Republic of Lithuania, in a Jewish family and immigrated to the US when I was twenty-one. Six years ago I met and fell in love with a Hindu man from India and now am married to him. My family, like the majority of Soviet Jews, had to give up their religion and tradition, because practicing religion was against the ideology of the Soviet regime. No longer were the Jewish ways of life transferred to successive generations. The language and culture of the Russian majority prevailed in Jewish households. We spoke Russian, read Russian literature, listened to Russian music and even considered ourselves possessing the well-known “Russian soul.” With no religious and ethnic tradition to take away, besides the borrowed Russian, and, having left the anti-Semitic Soviet Union, my family was eager upon arrival to assimilate the American way of life. It was my mother who introduced me to my future husband. Introductions by elders are practically unheard of in my culture, but, I discovered, are common practice in Ravi’s tradition. Before our first date, I started recounting what I knew about India and Indian people. I remembered a slogan popular at some point in my Soviet history: “Hindu, Russi, bhai-bhai” (“Hindus and Russians are brothers”), but I did not know then what it meant. When I was a child, my younger cousin and I saw a movie, “Sita and Gita,” and were utterly impressed by the heroine who walked barefoot on broken glass to reach her beloved. As a little girl, I was fascinated with handsome Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his graceful, stylish Italian wife. I knew of the capital of India, Delhi, and a few major cities—Bombay, Calcutta and Madras—that sounded as exotic as India’s ancient past. I certainly had heard of the Kamasutra and the Taj Mahal. I knew that India was a vast and poor country. Like other Russians, I believed Hindus had many Gods and were generally “idol worshipers.” When informal dating suddenly grew into serious talks about marriage, Ravi explained to me that even though he wanted to marry me, I ought to consider his proposal very

Engagement, Indian style: Ravi and Jane after their engagement was formalized; Ravi’s extended family greet their daughter-in-law to be at Ravi’s parent’s home in Lucknow, India

carefully. Ravi explained that I would be ing in my future brother’s and sister’s-in-law ways in good supply in our household, and marrying his culture along with him. I did bedroom, with Ravi’s mom grinning and we watch them on average twice a week. not understand what this meant at first, be- reaching high to wrap a sari around her very When we visit relatives or friends, the latest cause I received very little exposure to his tall first Western daughter-in-law, her grins music and movies are being bought, disculture while we were dating. I was bewil- making me self-conscious and shy, trying to cussed, played and watched; the older songs dered. Ravi pleaded that he could not live understand what amused her. I wondered, and movies are never forgotten; and ghazals without listening to Indian music, watching “Am I too big and tall for Indian standards, are played when the mood is right. The turning point for me was visiting InIndian movies, speaking to his friends in his or is she just too happy to see her son getting native Hindi, celebrating Hindu festivities married?” Ravi’s mother performed a tradi- dia. It was a major shock and revelation at and eating the foods he grew up eating. That tional Hindu ceremony of engagement that the same time. The sights, sounds and smells is why I had to consider carefully whether I felt very special and auspicious. The next of Delhi stunned me. I looked at everything day we concluded the ceremony at a Hindu with my eyes wide open in shock and disbecould live with him doing all those things. lief. When a person from a developed counI, on the other hand, foresaw our future temple in the city. try, like the United States, comes union to be a sort of a cultural to India, he or she experiences middle ground with no one’s culvery different feelings than the ture prevailing in the household. ones I experienced. Most AmeriAfter all, we were both immicans grew up in comfort and overgrants from two different counall satiety. India will shock them, tries who now lived in America. I of course, and they will probably certainly did not imagine that feel guilty that so many people our household would be “Little around the world still go hungry. India” on American soil. But I experienced poverty myself, Before my fiancé expressed to certainly not to such an extent as me his need for retaining his train India, but my family often had dition, I had mistakenly believed no money to buy food or clothes. that anyone who immigrates to Coming to India was almost going America wants to leave their back in time; after all, I had come country behind and accept their to America in search of a better, new country’s culture as their more prosperous life. own. It was particularly true for I quickly realized, though, that my family, because we came to people of Indian origin keep comthe US as political refugees, vicing back to India not because they tims of ethnic and religious perenjoy the dirt, poverty and smells secution. When America acceptof India, or are immune to them, ed us and gave us the privilege to but because they long for the become citizens, we felt for the unique and cherished relationfirst time that we finally beships with family and friends, sublonged somewhere. As a result, stitutes for which they cannot find during the first few years in this in their comfortable, rich and macountry, I was eager to absorb terial lives abroad. Having spent my newly acquired American time with Ravi’s family and culture and become a part of it. friends, I observed those unique Thus, I had difficulty under- Maternal blessing: Ravi’s mother applies kumkum to Jane’s forerelationships with their late dinstanding why Ravi wanted to head as part of the traditional engagement ceremonies ners and long conversations where hold on to his culture. I was happy to be engaged, but new someone is always in the kitchen feeding the I accepted Ravi’s marriage proposal after all. I was pleasantly surprised when his fam- thoughts were nagging in the back of my nonstop array of relatives; with the all-night ily expressed no reservations about Ravi’s mind: “Would I lose my own individuality chatter and laughter; with puja every mornmarrying someone that was not their own. and culture by marrying Ravi? Have I come ing and visits to a temple; with firecrackers As Ravi told me later, his parents and siblings to America to suddenly be submerged into of Dipavali and the joyous dances and celewere content that he was about to marry a another foreign culture that I know nothing bration. I envied Ravi for having friends that non-Indian girl as long as it would make him about and that has nothing to do with the he had not seen for six years, but with whom he could still share everything, and who happy. Ravi’s father calculated our astrologi- land I have chosen to live in?” At our wedding, the disc jockeys played would always be there for him should he cal compatibility, concluded that we were a good match and presented us with the ap- Hindi, Punjabi and Jewish music, and we need any help. I observed Ravi’s large family propriate dates for the wedding. My family, danced bhangra and “Hava Nagila” well into and a special relationship he has with each however, with the exception of my mother, the night. Our Russian, Jewish and Indian of his brothers and sisters: the older ones are guests quickly united in their shared love of respected as elders, the younger ones are needed some time and persuasion. looked after, teased with and given orders. Ravi’s parents arrived from India to con- merry celebrations, music and dance. I felt that everyone in the household sinAnd so my real immersion into Ravi’s culduct our engagement. It was understood that I had to wear a sari for the ceremony. ture has begun. It starts on Sundays with lis- cerely and graciously accepted me. Ravi’s When I told Ravi’s mother through a trans- tening to Indian classical music (“morning mother, a small, slender woman, behaved lator that I did not know how to wear a sari, music,” as Ravi calls it) or devotional music shyly with me. She wanted to know me betshe said that my mom would show me. She and ends with a Hindi movie in the evening. ter but did not speak English. Often we assumed that moms of every culture knew It lingers into the week with playing a good would sit down with a designated translator how to wear a sari. So, there we were, stand- deal of Hindi music. Hindi movies are al- and talk to each other. She silently under-

“We discover every day that, notwithstanding our racial and geographical differences, our souls, ways of life, opinions and backgrounds are incredibly similar.”


p h o t o s c o u r t e s y j a n e s r i va s tava

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Baby Baruk at age one: Ravi and Jane with with their son at their Georgia home stood that I felt a bit out of place, that I was bothered by the surroundings: the dust and the dirt and very spicy food the family was accustomed to preparing. My mother-in-law tried to make my stay as pleasant as possible. She had been observing me and had started to like my quiet personality and shy and respectful manner of talking with people. Tradition and religion take an important part in Ravi’s parents’ house in Lucknow. When we first arrived, Ravi’s mother and the sisters-in-law performed the homecoming ceremony. The family would attend the Hanuman temple, and I would tag along. One morning Ravi’s mother performed Chitragupta puja. It was explained to me that my mother-in-law would like me to write a short note to Lord Ram, as was the tradition. Even though I did not practice Judaism, having been born Jewish, I thought that I could not actively participate in non-Jewish religious ceremonies. Mistakenly, I thought that maybe my mother-in-law was trying to convert me into a Hindu. Only later did I learn that Indian people do not try to convert anyone, unlike Christians, for example. In fact, respect and tolerance of other religions is one of the premises of Hinduism. And how could my mother-in-law understand my reservations when she equally participated in Muslim and Christian religious celebrations without giving up her own? Having now lived with my husband for four-and-a-half years, his culture is naturally becoming a part of me. My knowledge of Indian contemporary culture sometimes tops those of my fellow Indians. I participate in discussions about Indian movies and music, as well as viewing and listening sessions. I can show off my equal familiarity of the old movies, such as “Ram, Teri Ganga Meli,” and the newest release, like “Dil Chahta Hei.” I am familiar with the latest singers and musicians, stay on top of Bollywood gossips and enjoy watching Hritik Roshan and Salman Khan flex their muscles on the screen, like any other Indian woman. While my husband’s weekend music selection does not usually fit my morning mood, as I need something faster and livelier to wake me up, I have learned to enjoy most of the Indian music and movies. In fact, I would rather listen to Indian classical music than some Western classical music. I have discovered that if you are exposed to something new long enough you learn to appreciate it. And it has happened to me: all my senses have opened up, embraced, and started to like Indian things. My ears have become keener and have learned to listen to the music. My tastes have learned to use and combine the spices and even crave them. I have found socializing with Indian people more fulfilling than with Russians or people from my newly acquired American culture. I cook a russified version of the Indian food that entails liberal usage of most of the popular spices with minimal amounts of red

pepper. My husband says that he likes my cooking (but I say he simply does not have a choice in the matter). Our marriage presents more challenges than an average intercultural marriage, as we are not only working on improving it, learning to love and respect each other more every day, but constantly gaining knowledge of each other’s cultures, family relationships and ways of life. It is enriching and fun to be in an intercultural marriage: we study each other’s languages, read and discuss literature and history, familiarize each other with music and art. We laugh at each other’s English accents and occasional misunderstandings, cumbersome Hindi and Russian speech, and create our own code words when speaking English. We discover every day that, notwithstanding our racial and geographical differences, our souls, ways of life, opinions and backgrounds are incredibly similar. It seems that I have always known that I could never find the same closeness with an American man and, therefore, instinctively chose Ravi. My husband has also helped me reconnect with my own culture. Paradoxically, I am now more connected with my Russian culture while being married to my Indian husband than I was when I first came to America. When we were picking the name for our baby, we found many Hindu and Jewish names that sounded similar. We chose the name “Baruk” that means “blessed” in Hebrew (Baruch) and “responsible” or “lifting the load” in Hindi (Bharuka). More challenges await our intercultural household as we bring up our son. How do we raise our child in both Russian Jewish and Hindu traditions? How do we make him a citizen of the world, open to embrace other cultures and proud of his own heritage? Do we teach him either Hindu or Jewish religious tradition or both? Do we let him choose a religious teaching for himself? We look forward to facing these important questions. ∏π

ere are four sweet little books by Dr. Rama Pemmaraju Rao: Be “Self” Centered (not selfcentered); God is Simple, Everything Else is Complex; Beneath the Umbrella’s Edge: An Intimate Dialogue with the Divine Mother; and Raindrops Upon the Parched Fields of My Heart (1st Books Library publishers, USA, 2001 us$9.95 each). Each gives an intimate look inside one man’s personal spiritual journey. Written in a semidiary form, one almost feels like a voyager while reading Rao’s intimate thoughts, his personal reflections on life, dharma, good conduct and God. An engaging introduction for any spiritual seeker.
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The Basics of Hinduism
rom the vast library of the Idiot’s Guide series comes a well -done look at Hinduism. Pundit Vamadeva Shastri calls The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism by Linda Johnson (408 pages, Alpha Books publishers, USA, 2002, us$18.95) “The best introduction and overview of the Hindu religion available in English today.” This book is humorous, yet enormously informative (including references to Hinduism Today) and full of interesting factoids. Besides the excellent chapters on what Hindus believe, Hindu worship, lifestyle and Hinduism in today’s world,
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Sacred Poetry
By Tara Katir, Kapaa, Hawaii
he ancient practices of yoga and hindu philosophy, experiencing the summit of philosophical truths, that God and man are one, and one man’s personal reflections of a spiritual journey form a unique perspective on Hindu spirituality in the book, The Song of Ribhu (759 pages, Society of Abidance in Truth publishers, United States, 2000, us$39). This scripture is profoundly metaphysical, yet poetic, in the style of the Tirumantiram. It boldly says that God and man are one. An exposition on Advaita set in the midst of the epic Sivarahasya, The Song of Ribhu is an articulate interpretation of Sanatana Dharma’s deepest truths. The history of Sage Ribhu is obscure, but it is believed the teachings within this scripture date to Vedic times. “This makes it possible to say that Ribhu must have lived during very ancient times, but impossible to ascertain even an approximate date.” Ribhu expounds: “The world and beings and others seen in Consciousness are not apart from Brahman, which is of the nature consciousness. I am not apart from that Brahman. Likewise, Brahman is not apart from me.”
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there are four useful appendixes. A new word glossary, who’s who in Hinduism, additional reading and a good Hindu resource list provide seekers excellent information to explore. Encompassing the fact that “Hinduism is not a “one size fits all” religion, and there is something in it for everyone, Johnson’s book gives an excellent picture of a vast and seemingly contradictory religion. From the “new word alert” to quotes from sages, old and new, this book will make you chuckle while you learn.
the complete idiot’s guide to hinduism, alpha books, 201 west 103rd street, indianapolis, indiana 46290 usa. web: www.idiotsguides.com.

The Author
Jane Srivastava holds a bachelor’s degree from Vilnius State University, Lithuania and a law degree from the University of Albany, New York.
e-mail: janesrivastava@hotmail.com

Journey to Mount Kailash
he mystical mount kailash is the source of four of India’s mighty rivers—Karnali, Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej and is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists, Jains and Bompos (Tibet’s pre-Buddhist religion). The many monasteries around Kailash and the Lake Mansarovar are testimony to the continuity of religious passion that yet resides there. “For Hindus, Kailash is the Sumeru Parvat, the spiritual center of the world around which all the earthly powers revolve. Kailash/Mansarovar is the abode of Lord Siva, Parvati, Ganesha and Subramuniya,” notes Nilesh Nathwani, author of the delightful travelogue, Kailash Mansarovar, Diary of a Pilgrim (99 pages, New Age Books publishers, India, 2002, Rs. 195). What follows is an enthralling tale of not only the expected hardships, but the life-changing spiritual experiences one encounters on a journey to these divine lands. Nathwani’s openly personal account of the pilgrimage is accompanied by stunning photos of Kailash, Lake Mansarovar and Mount Everest.
kailash mansarovar, diary of a pilgrim, new age books, a-44 naraina phase i, new delhi 110 028 india. web: www.newagebooksindia.com.


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a l l p h o t o s c o u r t e s y nata na k a i r a l i


Dramatic Rescue in Kerala
No need for stage special effects when these versatile actors take over
n englishman, goes the story, is walking his dog in a Kerala village when he encounters a Kutiyattam actor. The dog snarls at the actor, then starts to chase him. The actor reaches down for an imaginary stone and hurls it at the dog. The dog collapses,
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howling in pain. Disbelieving what he has just seen, the Englishman demands a demonstration. The actor assumes the role of Ravana lifting Mount Kailash. Hoisting the imaginary mountain high over his head, the mime suddenly hurls it at the Englishman, who faints dead away of fright. Those
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who have seen Kutiyattam dance can attest to the mesmerizing impact of the actors, as would the Englishman, had he survived. Their art is the origin of Kerala’s better known, elaborate and colorful Kathakali. It was in 1975 that G. Venu, then an accomplished Kathakali performer, first saw
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Ammanur Madhava Chakyar perform Kutiyattam. “Imagine the impact he had on me at the height of his power,” Venu told the Sunday Express. “He was full of vigor, magnificent. I had only one thought drumming in my brain. Here is everything I want, the goal of my life, this is the ultimate thing.” Decades later, 85-year old Ammanur teaches at the research and training center, Natana Kairali, established in 1975 by Venu, age 57, and Venu’s wife, Nirmala. They have seven advanced students, including their daughter Kapila. At least one of them walked away from a promising business career for the dance. Venu’s work extends considerably beyond training students. The center’s team has rescued entire art forms from extinction, including Kerala’s various styles
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of puppetry—shadow or tholpavakoothu, glove or pavakathakali and stringed or nool pavakoothu. He is supported in his efforts by Sangeet Natak Akademi, World Theatre Project of Sweden, Japan Foundation, Sanskriti Pravah, and by foreign fans who outnumber the locals at the annual Kutiyattam festival in Natanakairali. He’s taken the troupe on tours of Europe and Southeast Asia, and consults for UNESCO. Nirmala Panicker, Venu’s wife, is a scholar and expert dancer of Mohiniyattam. She has researched and written several books, including Mudras in Kathakali, Production of a Play in Kutiyattam and Classical Dance Tradition in Nangiars. She and Venu have recorded in dance notation and on video the elaborate hand gestures and eye expressions

Thespian’s reality: (top left) G. Venu as Surpanakha in the play, Surpanakhankam; (top right) Ranjith Ramachandran being made up as Lakshmana of the dance forms, and researched their origins and interpretations in Vedic and Agamic literature. More recently, they’ve branched out to studies of comparative acting techniques, such as exploring the hand gestures of Chinese dance. Venu has appealed for funds to continue their video documentation of dance, as well as to microfilm and digitize the entire collection of palm-leaf manuscripts of Guru Ammannur’s family. ∏π
g. venu, director, natana kairali, ammannur chakyar madhom, irinjalakuda, 680 121, trichur district, kerala, india. e-mail: venuji@satyam.net.in





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The Song of Ribhu is an extensive poetic treatise upon SelfKnowledge and the Realization of highest Truth, rooted in the Advaita Vedanta and Saivite traditions of southern India. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, H.H. Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swamigal Sankaracharya (Kanchipuram) Srila Sri Tavathiru Nachiappa Gnanadesika Swami (Kovilur Math) and many more have enthiastically recommended this most powerful representation of every soul’s ultimate spiritual goal. It is the first complete English translation, by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy & Nome, of the original Tamil version of the Ribhu Gita • 44 chapters, comprising 1,924 verses of eight lines each • extensive glossary • introductory information • 808 pages / paper / ISBN: 0-9703667-0-1 / US$39 + s/h Published by the Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT) RETAIL, contact your local bookstore or: Books Beyond Words, 831-662-9457 WHOLESALE, contact the publisher (SAT): 831-425-7287 • sat@cruzio.com

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$ 207.50 104.58 2,401.63 300.00 6,504.27 9,517.98 300.00 40.00 30,000.00 30,340.00 0.76 0.76 3.03 2.69 3.76 2.61 2.61 0.79 0.79 0.79 4.00 4.00 26.59 6,336.10 Kumbhalavalai Ganesha Temple Indra Dhaksinamurthi Manoharan Navaratnarajah Satheesan Sudhakaran Total Hindu Orphanage Endowment Fund Anonymous Ajit S Adhopia Ashish Suresh Chitnis Lila Shakti Devi Ajit V. Gokhale Eric Jautee Gunasekaran Kandasamy Ramakumar & Sailaja Kosuru Mohana Das Krishnan Christian Langers Dev Mahadevan P. Kumar & Shanti Mehta Natraj Narayanswami Indra Pal Rama Pemmaraju Rao Ganesan & Rajalakshmi Ramalingam Alex Ruberto Rakesh Sood Rodney & Ilene Standen Matthew Wieczork K.D. & A.D. Williams Total Suntheram Family Trust Ramachandran Suntheram Loving Ganesha Distribution Christian Langers Manoharan Navaratnarajah Matthew Wieczork Total Saiva Agama Trust Matthew Wieczork Alaveddy Pasupatheeswarar Trust Fund Satheesan Sudhakaran Thank you Gurudeva Fund Anonymous Vel Alahan Maria Cristina Berisso Ashish Suresh Chitnis Shyamadeva Dandapani Amarnath Devarmanai Lila Shakti Devi Panshula Ganeshan Larry Gibson Ravichandran Krishnan Silvarajoo Muniandy Manoharan Navaratnarajah Satya Palani Shanta Devi Periasamy Deva Rajan Jiva Rajasankara Thomas J. Rowe Alex Ruberto Padmini Saravanapavan $ 45.00 75.00 15.00 135.00 54.00 112.47 1,405.00 50.00 101.00 25.00 104.58 40.00 13.00 150.00 17.00 300.00 51.00 100.00 24.50 25.00 45.00 50.00 30.00 135.00 375.00 3,207.55 1,000.00 150.00 75.00 35.00 260.00 51.00 12.50 51.00 51.00 150.00 1,008.00 101.00 324.00 51.00 72.00 100.00 51.00 21.00 150.00 30.00 345.00 1,001.00 51.00 80.00 45.00 25.00 Pazhassi Bala Endowment Ganesan & Rajalakshmi Ramalingam Theresa Sparks Total PIF Trust Gowri Nadesan Sadhunathan Nadesan Tejadeva Nataraja Satya Palani Chudikadevi Saravan Barathy Sockanathan Total Total Contributions 25.00 50.00 75.00 30.00 30,000.00 41.98 75.00 30.00 20.00 155.00 $88,938.13 Kapaleeshwara Temple Orphanage Fund Vasudevan Jayanthi Natraj Narayanswami Ganesan & Rajalakshmi Ramalingam Rakesh Sood Total Manjung Hindu Sabha Orphanage Fund Jutikadevi Sivaraja Satheesan Sudhakaran Total 200.00 51.00 100.00 50.00 401.00 108.00 12.50 120.50 Yatrikadevi Shivam Indivar Sivanathan Jutikadevi Sivaraja Sivadas Sivarajah Trent Smail Vignesh Sukumaran Thanaletchmi Umamaheswaran Vayudeva Varadan Saravan Veylan Total Mathavasi Travel Fund Kailash Sivam Dhaksinamurthi Udayan Care Endowment Fund Christian Langers Jutikadevi Sivaraja Richard Stocker Total $ 50.00 108.00 108.00 145.00 500.00 25.00 32.59 45.00 67.15 4,787.74 120.00 150.00 108.00 21.00 279.00

Hindu Heritage Endowment has established a perpetual fund for the rejuvenation and care of Puri's once-thriving monasteries. Use of the income from the fund will be supervised by Shankaracharya Sri Nischalanand Saraswati and his successors. This year, grants totalling Rs. 2,400 were given.

Kauai Aadheenam Monastic Endowment Stephanie Corgatelli Gunasekaran Kandasamy Arul Karttikeya P. Kumar & Shanti Mehta Other Donations Total Iraivan Temple Endowment P. Kumar & Shanti Mehta Sivadas Sivarajah Other Donations Total Kauai Aadheenam Annual Archana Fund Somasundaram Caremben Sukanta Caremben Yajataceyon Caremben Akileiswaran Samuthiran Jayasutha Samuthiran Devaladevi Sivaceyon Nutanaya Sivaceyon Hemavalli Sivalingam Kantha Ruben Sivalingam Rohini Sivalingam Javanya Skanda Subasene Skanda Total Hinduism Today Distribution Fund Total

Shubha and Kishore Pathial of Oregon, USA, started fund #50 (present balance of $ 1,783.21) to maintain temples in Kerala that are not under a government-managed temple trust. This year, the Trikkaikunnu Mahadeva Kshetra at Northern Kottayam received its second grant of Rs. 3,840.

Saivite Hindu Scriptural Fund for Visually Impaired Rohit M. Iyer 100.00 Sri Chandra Madhab Debnath Endowment Shyamal Chandra Debnath Manitha Neyam Trust Fun Bala Sivaceyon Kerala Temples Satheesan Sudhakaran 170.00 28.72 12.50

The famed Kapaleeshwara Temple of Chennai has under its auspices the nearby Kapaleeshwara Temple Orphanage, which gives religious training for its residents in addition to shelter and meals. HHE offers support to this noble institution with this fund, #52, initiated by Dr. Jayanthi Mukundan of Liverpool. It now has a balance of $1,267.51. This year the orphanage received Rs. 18,240 of grants.

Hindu Businessmen Association Trust Fund Vel Alahan 525.00 Paramaseeven Canagasaby 28.48 Vel Mahalingum 13.63 Manogaran Mardemootoo 45.45 Vishwanaden Moorooven 12.12 Easvan Param 617.40 Janaka Param 25.00 Total 1,267.08 Boys School for Iraivan Priesthood Indra Dhaksinamurthi Lloyd Wes Godley Bala Sivaceyon Total Kauai Aadheenam Mathavasi Medical Fund Gowri Nadason Thomas J. Rowe Vayudeva Varadan Matthew Wieczork Total Tirunavukkarasu Nayanar Gurukulam Padmini Saravanapavan Aran Sendan Total Sri Subramuniya Kottam Andrew Schoenbaum Satheesan Sudhakaran Total 45.00 20.00 32.39 97.39 90.00 80.00 27.00 90.00 287.00 25.00 51.00 76.00 20.00 12.50 32.50

U D AY A N C A R E , N E W D E L H I
Udayan Care is a New Delhi-based voluntary organisation committed to sustainable social development by running homes for abandoned or orphaned children. Udayan Care fund, #42, has a balance of $4,623.97 and gave Rs. 4,800 of grants this year in support of this noble institution. Additional information is available at www.udayancare.org.

PA Z H A S S I B A L A M A N D I R A M , K E R A L A
The Pazhassi Balamandiram in Nalloornadu, Mananthavady, which serves more than 30 residents and raises them in Hindu values and traditions, received a second annual grant of Rs. 10,560. The HHE staff is gratified to support this worthy orphanage. It is fund #54 with a balance of $5,193.04.

Funds at Market Value August 31, 2002 Total Endowment Funds $3,134,834.14 Total Pooled Income Funds $185,251.88 Grand Total $3,320,086.02

MISSION STATEMENT: Hindu Heritage Endowment is a publicly supported, charitable organiza-

Other endowments also received annual grants: 1) Rs. 11,040 to Abirami Amman Temple, Tirukadaiyur, which provides a monthly archana on each full moon day, 2) Rs. 11,040 to Iyarappan Temple, Thiruvaiyaru, which sponsors a monthly puja and feeding on Arudra nakshatra day, 3) Rs. 4,320 to the Tirumular Sannidhi in Thiruvavadhuthurai for shrine upkeep, and 4) Rs. 4,320 to Vishwamata Gayatri Trust, New Delhi, of Swami Pragyanand, for general support.

tion recognized as tax exempt by the IRS on April 22, 1994. Employer ID 99-0308924. Founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, its philanthropic mission is to provide secure, professionally managed financial support for institutions and religious leaders of all lineages of Sanatana Dharma.
PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS: Halbert, Hargrove/Russell, Investment Counsel; Alvin G. Buchi-

gnani, Esq., Legal Counsel; and Hirose, Kato and Co., CPA. HHE is a member of the Council on Foundations, an association of 1,931 foundations which interprets relevant law and management and investment principles.
I WANT TO PARTICIPATE. WHERE SHOULD I SEND MY DONATION? You can send your gift to an existing fund, create a new endowment or request information through the address below. Donations may be made online at www.hheonline.org or use the HHE tear-out card in this magazine to join our family of benefactors who are Strengthening Hinduism Worldwide. Thank you.

Normally, when a donor in the USA gives to Hindu institutions in India or another country, and does so directly, he does not qualify for an income tax charitable deduction. If you are in this situation, do consider HHE as an alternative which provides you with a tax deduction, while the institution of your choice still receives the same amount of gift. At the same time, an endowment at HHE would build, providing permanent support for the institution. Write or e-mail for further details. Our representatives in India are Tiru L. Nellaiappan, Chennai, for the South and Srimat Rajiv Malik, New Delhi, for the North. Grants to institutions in India are made through HHE's affiliate organization, Sanmarga Trust India, which provides additional documentation and oversight over the funds.


107 Kaholalele Road Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA Tel: 808-822-3012 Ext 228 • Fax: 808-822-4351 hhe@hindu.org • www.hheonline.org

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Come to the ultimate Hindu pilgrimage destination. Here you will find Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, home of Kadavul Hindu Temple, established in 1973 by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, and the site where San Marga Iraivan Temple is being constructed. It is already host to a constant flow of visitors and pilgrims. We invite you to visit this magical place which Hawaiians call Pihanakalani, “where Heaven touches the Earth,” and meet the mystic behind the magic, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami.
San Marga Iraivan Temple Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, 107 Kaholalele Road Kapaa, Hawaii 96746-9304 USA thondu@hindu.org G www.hindu.org/iraivan/ tel: 808-822-3012, ext. 237 G fax: 808-822-4351


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Temples / Temple Services
Sri Rajarajeshwari Peetham, Rochester, NY. Three pujas each weekday: 9:30, 12:30, 7 pm. Weekends: pancha sukta abhishekam, 10 am Saturdays, pujas at noon and 6 pm. Further details: www.srividya.org

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Raising Children in the USA
Guide to Indo-American Parenting covers all aspects of child-rearing and important cultural traditions.” (S. Parikh, MD). Author Kris D. Bhat, MD, noted pediatrician, raised 3 children in America. Lucid, concise, practical. 363 pg • US$26.95 +$2.55 shipg. Orders/information: 409-835-5382 www.indo-american.com Offer Hinduism Today subscriptions to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and most neighboring countries for only US$20 per year • 800-850-1008 subscribe@hindu.org.

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The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita
Swami Sri Atmananda’s course on the Bhagavad Gita. Inner meaning, commentary, glossary, chanting tape. Brochure: Satyachetana—USA, POB 20903, Reno, NV 895150903 USA • satyachetana@iname.com

Yoga for Beginners
18 exercises by Bharati Amin, Dallas’ experienced, certified yoga instructor. 65 min. US$23 inc. s/h• 972-235-1515 arun.amin@attbi.com

Bliss NOW!
Swami Ramananda tells his amazing spiritual journey with his Guru, Anandamayi Ma • 168 p. of devotional narrative & photos, various pathways to bliss, yoga postures, Sanskrit glossary US $1595 (+$2 shipg) • CDs of devotional hymns by Swami are also available! PO Box 2931, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 760-324-2598 • www.swamiji.us BlissSwami@aol.com Babaji's Kriya Yoga & Publications. See our e-commerce at www.babaji.ca Books, videos & seminars. In India: babajiindia@lycos.com Outside of India: Tel.1-888-252-9642 or babaji@generation.net

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Low-cost blood test for religious groups, Health Fair etc. Eg., cholesterol $2, glucose $1.50, PSA $10 and more. Call Dr. Siva 1-708-848-1556.

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Visit temples in India. Group or or individual. Great prices from New Delhi or your home town in USA. Contact or write to: INDIA INTERNATIONAL VOYAGES A-4 Mahipalpur Ext., New Delhi 110037, India • tel India: 91-11-6781640/ 6136516 tel USA: 713-668-2948 voyages@india.com • ww.indiavoyages.com Furnished Studio w. Kitchen/Lanai. Walking distance to Kadavul Hindu Temple & Hindu Monastery of Kauai (Hawaii). $60/night for 2. $15 per additional adult • tel: 808-625-1600 ammapua@aloha.net

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Singapore / Malaysia Yoga Classes
Yogi Balakrishnan, renowned expert of hatha- and rajayogas (see “Yoga Goes to the Temple,” —Hinduism Today, June 1999) offers classes in the Singapore and Malaysia temples listed below. Yoga is an ancient philosophy of living and a method of gaining mastery of the mind and expanding consciousness by actualizing one’s physical, vital, mental, and spiritual potentials. • Sri Holy Tree Balasubramaniar Temple (Yishun Ind. Pk.) • Sri Sivan Temple (Geylang East) • Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman Temple(Toa Payoh Lor. 8) • Sri Ruthira Kaliamman Temple (Depot Rd) • Sri Arasakesari Temple (Woodlands Rd) • Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple (Serangoon Rd) • Sri Ramar Temple (Changi Village) • Sri Krishnan Temple (Waterloo Street) • Sri Murugan Hill Temple (Upper Bukit Timah Rd) • Sri Rajamariamman Devasthanan (Johore Baru) • Sri Nagama Temple (Perak) No age limit—all are welcome. Contact: Bala Yoga Centre • Tel: 65-978-94467 Fax: 65-365-5744 • balayoga@singnet.com.sg 318 Woodlands St. 31, #12-150, Singapore 730318

American Institute of Vedic Studies
Expand your horizons in Vedic and Hindu Dharma. Practical teachings of Vamadeva Shastri (Dr. David Frawley). Authentic Vedic knowledge in a clear modern idiom. Books, courses, conferences and research information from the ancient Rig Veda to India in the Planetary Age. Dr. Frawley’s latest books: • Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations • Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness • The Rig Veda and the History of India • How I Became a Hindu: My Discovery of Vedic Dharma Courses from the Institute: • Ayurvedic Healing Correspondence Course for Health Care professionals • Astrology of the Seers Vedic Astrology Correspondence Course. American Institute of Vedic Studies PO Box 8357, Santa Fe, NM 87504-8357 USA Tel: 505-983-9385 • Fax: 505-982-5807 • vedanet@aol.com www.vedanet.com • Note our Vedanet resource guide and on-line books and information.+

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O My Son
by V. Maniam, Ipoh, Malaysia

O My Son You left your mother and me in pain So please let us see you in the plain; You gave us pride and fame when you were here. But left us too soon without any fear. O My Son Your action in silence was great; So give us the strength and peace which were nil of late. Your principles and dignity were of no match to any; If you could share with us for a penny O My Son You taught us the one that all souls should do, That is to pray and believe in what you do. Your eyes were sharp and clear and told us What thousands of words could not have said to us. O My Son Hope to see you as soon as we could; So, please be there when we see you as soon as we could. Please, O God give our son the place he deserves Because of all the qualities he conserves.


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Carnatic Music
h i n d u i s m t o d ay

hether you are an advanced CarWsinger in search of natic lyrics or simply a “Carnatic Dummy” with regard to this sophisticated Indian music system, you will find many of the answers you seek at www.karnatik.com. Start with the button “New Visitors: Click Here” at the top right of

Coriander seeds like this are given to worshipers

Blessings of Seed

the page for a tour that has understandable, well written descriptions of the nuances of Carnatic music, supplemented with audio clips. To complete your musical experience, venture to Bhajana Sampradaya, www.bhajanasamprada ya.com, and immerse yourself in the realms of the Bhagavathas, the composers of these religious songs. The site is filled with over a thousand lyrics and translations to add to your musical repertoire.


For the Kids
s a parent, you have probably been challenged with finding a how-to guide to instill good values in your children, but been unsuccessful. The website, www.balagokulam.org, has taken on this task, presenting a magical learning plan that is designed to ignite the spark of divinity and bring forth the God-like qualities within each child. Balagokulam was developed by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) as a source for parents and kids to learn about their cultural roots, Hindu values and to establish a sense of service to humankind. Highlights of the site are Hindu-oriented stories, games, arts and crafts, a children’s e-zine, Day Camp plans, and an excellent parents’ resource section.



evotees visiting siva temples in pune, India, are in for a special treat. Once a week, devotees get plant seeds as their prasad (blessed items) instead of the usual delicious food. The message is that God is omnipresent—in trees, flowers and leaves. The seeds are of plants for both food and decoration, such as drumsticks, tulsi, coriander, aster, zennia, dahlia, calendula and more. It is organized by the temple authorities and a city-based organization, Research and Action in Natural Wealth Administration (www.ranwa.org). School children and eco-sensitive people (most of them elderly) are volunteering to distribute the seeds while Ellora Medicals Four Eyes Foundation is extending their support to the rapidly expanding project. look at what is happening in the Motherland. Each story is verified for authenticity, with links and contact information at the bottom so you can look deeper. All of the articles are capable of capturing your heart, attention and admiration for hard-working people determined to survive and make the world a better place.

w w w. b h a j a na s a m p r a d aya . c o m

Click here for an in-depth study of Carnatic music


Good News
ave you ever wanted to sit down and read news that was—well—just good news? Forget the naysayers and dooms-dayers, and turn your attention to Good News India (www.goodnewsindia .com) for a refreshing

w w w. b a l a g o k u l a m . o r g


w w w. g o o d n e w s i n d i a . c o m

Finally, a site on the good news in India

Kids’ learning site

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