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April/May/June, 2003 $5.95

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

gilles flament
COVER: The saffron-colored flag, a symbol of dharma, is the traditional banner of the Hindu religion. (Above) Devotees offer
water in Grand Basin, a mountaintop lake in Mauritius where tens of thousands pilgrimage during the annual Sivaratri festival.

April/May/June, 2003 • Hindu Year 5105
Subhanu, the Year of Beautiful Radiance
Kerala: Unraveling the Meanings Locked in
Feature Story: Mauritius Hindus Harness Religion the Priest’s Mystical Pavithra Ring 54
and Willpower to Develop Their Island Nation 18 Music: Meet Virtuoso Vocalist Shweta Jhaveri,
Books: Savoring Photographer Lindsay Hebberd’s Gifted Protege of Pundit Jasraj 55
Non-Fattening Photo Feast on India 26 Influence: Five Great Leaders of the 20th Century
Society: Facing up to the Caste System and the Who Follow Mahatma Gandhi’s Teachings 56
Inequality of Untouchability 30 Pilgrimage: Take a Pilgrimage to Deoghar’s
Nepal & Bihar: It’s the Chaat Festival, a Unique Crowded Siva Temple—Make That 22 Temples 60
Annual Worship of the Setting Sun 36 Awards: India’s New President Honors Ten Skilled
Peace: Hundreds of Women Leaders Gather Artisans of Varied Indian Traditional Crafts 61
at the UN in Switzerland to Call for Peace 62
Healing: Balinese Hindus Conduct Ceremony
to Purify the Site of an Horrific Bombing 64 OPINION
In My Opinion: Moothoosamy Devaraj Shankara,
18, Pleads for More Religious Teaching 9
Dhvaja, Symbol of LIFESTYLE
Meditation: Persistence! It’s a Must for Meditators,
Publisher’s Desk: Want Your Kids to Be Good
Hindus? Introduce Them to Lord Ganesha. 10
Explains 115-Year-Old Swami Bua 40 From the Vedas: Meditation on the Sacred Aum 16

Sanatana Dharma Insight: An Illustrated Guide to Dozens of Sacred
Symbols, Artfully Rendered and Explained
Education: In South India One Man Is Passing on
Letters 12

the Faith to Youth of All Castes and Nations 50 DIGESTS
Update: How the Thiruvavudhuthurai Aadheenam Diaspora 6 Digital Dharma 86
Abbot Survived Attempts on His Life 53 Quotes & Quips 14

Letters to the editor, subscription and editorial inquiries may be sent to Hinduism Today, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii 96746-9304 USA, HINDUISM TODAY (issn# 0896-0801), April/May/June, 2003, Volume 25, No. 2. Editorial: 1-808-822-7032 (ext. 227);
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(e-mail) Daily News Summary

USA carried their holy scriptures, the New Home
In Punjab, Guru Granth Sahib. The trail of
decorated tractors and trucks re-
vealed the farming roots of
In Canada
California these land-savvy Punjabis who
originally came to help build the G anesha will soon have
a new home in multi-eth-

T he sikhs of yuba city,
California, form the oldest
surviving Indian community in
transcontinental railroad. The
Yuba City Sikhs are steadfast in
their faith and practice, while
nic Vancouver. The Sri Gane-
sha Society of British Colum-
bia, comprised of 100 Sri
America and their November Indians who once populated the Lankan families, holds weekly
3rd, 2002, 23rd annual parade California town dubbed “Delhi” satsangs and monthly chaturthi
drew 40,000 from all parts of are nowhere to be found, having pujas. Their future looks bright.
western USA. It is the largest been completely integrated into They received an icon of Lord
gathering of Punjabis outside of the Mexican Catholic culture Ganesha from the late Satguru
India. Starting and ending at lo- many decades ago. Jai Guru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, and
cal gurudwaras, the main float Gobind Singh! last year prominent artists from
Recently discovered 40,000-year-old cave paintings in Banda, India, indicate equine domestication India and Chicago helped with
a successful fund raiser.
ANCIENT INDIA ing hypothesis is that horses

40M-Year-Old Indian Horses were introduced to India via a
migration from the northwest
only 1,500 years ago. But recent

T he recent startling
discovery of a cave paint-
ing in Banda, 800 kilometers
Aryan invasion theory which is
universally taught in today’s
textbooks. Etched on the walls
digs have uncovered bones of
horses from earlier civilizations.
Still, the Aryan invasion theory
southeast of New Delhi, strikes of a white silica sandstone rock is deeply rooted and accepted
yet another blow against the shelter we see new intimations as fact in the Western academic
idea that all things good in In- that Indians domesticated hors- world. Adherents assert, “Oh, it
dia must have arrived from be- es 40,000 years ago. One cor- could be some other kind of
Famed French glassworks house of Baccarat made 500, 12- yond its borders, as per the nerstone of academia’s prevail- horse, not the modern horse.” Ms. Ahalya Satcunaratnam
pound, 26-inch-tall crystal Ganeshas at US$7,500 each

BR I TA I N / F R A NCE ried. So send your NEW ZEALAND outsiders. But with huge num-
daughter to be his bers of people also leaving New
Ganesha’s Glass Icon Queen.” She sailed from
India, taking a stone
Hot and Cold Zealand every year, there are
concerns that the country’s

ritish-based art dealers, rajni seth and jyoti thaker
of Ranvir Ltd. and Narr International, recently commis-
pagoda (left) to what is
now Kimhae city. South
New Zealand economy, minus new immi-
grants, may suffer.
exquisite limited edition crystal Ganeshas, made by
France’s finest crystal houses, Baccarat and Lalique. Baccarat’s
blurb, “Beauty without Reason,” could become “Beauty Encom-
Korea’s 72nd generation
descendents of King
Suro believe they are re-
W ith a population of
less than 4 million, one
could hardly call New Zealand
On a slightly different note,
archeologists have proved that
people have been coming and
passing All Reason.” India’s 18th-century royalty once proudly lated to India’s present overpopulated. But think twice going from New Zealand for
displayed Baccarat’s ostentatious occidental dining china. Proof day Raja Bimlendra Mo- before planning to migrate ages, among them Phoene-
again that Ganesha’s presence makes dharma’s path crystal clear. Five Sikh Khalsa’s guard the holy book: Guru Granth Sahib Pagoda went from Ayodhya to Korea han Prasad Mishra, there. After letting in 120,000 ciansm , circa 600 bce, and
whose ancestors ruled during the years 2001-2002, Tamils, circa 1170 ce, as evi-
Ayodhya. (Both families have there is fresh fear of people denced by this old Chola era

Iranians Resist Name Change Indian Princess two fishes as their insignia.)
They sent delegations to India
to built a monument in Ayodhya
pressure from outside. In New
Zealand’s Weekend Herald, Ge-
off Cumming wrote in Novem-
Went to Korea to commemorate the relation- ber, 2002, referring to appli-

I n november, 2002, hindus in sunnyvale, california,
withdrew their proposal to their city council to rename “Persian
Drive,” which runs in front of their temple and community center to D id you know that a 16-
year-old princess from
ship. Though Mishra is unable
to trace his ancestry back more
than 300 years, he is happy to
cants who had made life plans
to move, “Suddenly, New
Zealand no longer wants them.
“Mandir.” Local Iranians objected to losing representation of their Ayuta (Ayodhya) went to Korea accept the Koreans’ belief and Three times since June, the
ancient Persian heritage and culture on this small two-lane road. But in 48 ce? A 13th-century Kore- their initiative to invest $2 bil- pass mark for general skills ap-
the Hindus are pursuing the matter. “We are 11 percent of the popu- an text recounts Princess Heo lion to make Ayodhya a sister plicants has been rachetted up,
lation of Sunnyvale, and this is one of the largest community centers Hwang-ok explaining that her city of Kimhae. “It will lead to ruling out our biggest migration
in Northern California,” said Naranji Patel, president of the temple parents: “dreamt a God came the progress of Ayodhya and I category for all but the most
that serves 5,300 families. “We thought we could get recognition who said, ‘I have sent down am happy, “ he said. “The fact highly skilled who already have
from the city for this, and that might bring more people to the tem- Suro to be king of Kaya. Suro is that it is associated with my a job to come to.” The climate
Hindus hope to change “Persian Drive” to “Mandir Drive” ple, and we could leave a legacy for our children.” a holy man and is not yet mar- family makes it special.” makes resident Asians feel like Old NZ bell has Tamil script

clockwise from top left: narr international, clockwise from top: shekhar srivastava; sri ganesha society of british columbia;
6 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 zuma press/branimir kvartuc,krt/karen t borchers; a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 7
Britian: Racial Tensions Simmer
du-controlled government has IN MY OPINION
UK population by ethnic group (1990-2000)
Hindu Rights proposed to replace religious
with socio-economic criteria in

to Higher the admissions process for the
schools. Catholic Vicar General
Jean-Maurice Labour called the
We Are the Hindu Future
Others: (7.5%) 4 million
Education proposal a trap, and the
Catholic Church has demanded
White: 53.1 million 0.5 Youth should understand their responsibility
0.3 0.3 0.1 M auritian hindus with
academically high-achiev-
ing children feel awkwardly
a stay of execution. A common
Hindu front, including the Arya
Samaj and the Sanatana Dhar- M O O T H O O S A M Y D E VA R A J S H A N K A R A
i n an hi ck ese ers trapped. On the one hand, what ma Temple Federation, told the H I N DU R E NA I S SA NCE T E A M
an n a s la in th
di sta be ric e staunch Hindu wants her child government not to give in to
United Kingdom In aki rib k Af lad er B Ch O to be conditioned by Christian any form of “blackmail.” Trade HINDUISM TODAY was founded January 5, 1979, t is a fact that we Youngsters should take the
P Ca ac ng th
ck B Ba O belief structure in a Catholic Union leader Suttyhudeo Ten- by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. It is a youngsters are greatly influ- responsibility to read or some-
Bla Bradford Area school? But in Mauritius, the gur said, “Any stay of execution nonprofit educational activity of Himalayan enced by Western ideas. how instruct themselves in mat-
July 7, 2001 Academy with the following purposes: 1.To fos-
(1998 statistics) best education seats leading to will be perceived as if the Because of this, many of us ters concerning our religion and
Race Riots Others: ter Hindu solidarity as a unity in diversity
future university placement are Supreme Court was condoning are becoming less involved with culture. Temple societies should
(25%) “Asian” in Catholic secondary schools, unconstitutional discrimination among all sects and lineages; 2. To inform and our religion and culture. Often organize lectures and activities
71,000 which are partially subsidized against non-Catholic children.” inspire Hindus worldwide and people interest- we even stop attending temples. designed for youngsters. Soci-

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
by the government. Thus arises Mr. Leckraj Seereekissoon ed in Hinduism; 3. To dispel myths, illusions Is this right? Should we let go of eties should create youth clubs.
White: 389,000 the current anomaly of Hindus (president of the Parent Teach- and misinformation about Hinduism; 4. To pro- our heritage like this? In this way we will become
tect, preserve and promote the sacred Vedas
26,000 challenging the right of ers’ Association of the Pandit Hinduism is the oldest living interested and get involved with
London and the Hindu religion; 5. To nurture and mon-
Catholic secondary schools to Cashinath Kistoe Aryan Vedic religion in the world. At the temples and religious organiza-
Source: Labor Force Survey, CNS itor the ongoing spiritual Hindu renaissance;
reserve 50 percent of their seats Aided Primary School) had 6. To publish a resource for Hindu leaders and basis of its elaborate mythology, tions.
The relative nonwhite populations of the UK through 2000. Indian for Catholic students. The Hin- even stronger words, “The Bu- educators who promote Sanatana Dharma. Join there is a profound philosophy revealing There is something else which puts dis-
Hindus have not been part of riots instigated by “Asians” reau of Catholic Education this seva by sending letters, clippings, reports on the realities of our existence. Actually, tance between youngsters and temples.
bosses can agree to operate events and encouraging others to subscribe. mythology was only set up by ancient sages Very often we do not find religious activi-
UNITED KINGDOM without discrimination and to help explain the very complicated Hindu ties and functions organized by the temples
be applauded, or pursue the Founder: Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami philosophy in an unphilosophical way. to be very interesting. More precisely, they
“Asian” Label Turns Slanderous philosophy of discrimina-
tion against non-Catholics,
Publisher: Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Editor-in-Chief: Paramacharya Palaniswami
God revealed Himself to our great sages.
They saw that, indeed, man was created in
are boring. It could be argued here that a
temple is not supposed to be interesting.

T he media in britain is causing consternation among
the benign Indian Hindu population by lumping them with
Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims under the label “Asian.” The
certainly non-Whites, and
defeat national solidarity....
A ploy to ensure that in
Publisher’s Aide: Paramacharya Ceyonswami
Deputy Editor: Acharya Kumarswami
Managing Editor: Sannyasin Arumugaswami
the image of God, meaning that man looks
a lot like God and vice versa. This makes it
easy to relate to God in the temples, be-
But youngsters are still in the process of
learning, and they have not yet reached a
point where they can forget the world and
term rightly includes them, plus Chinese, Malays, Japanese etc., but three to five years time the Graphics Director: Sannyasin Natarajnathaswami cause we can see, from the way that He plunge into the deep stillness of a temple.
the UK media labels only Indian subcontinent immigrants as Church exerts full control Production Manager: Sannyasin Sivakatirswami looks, that he is not so different from us. Of course, we do pray, but our manner of
“Asian.” After Bradford’s riots between whites and the Pakistani and on all star secondary Contributing Editor: Yogi Japendranatha Temples were built to enshrine these praying differs from that of our elders.
Bangladeshi underclass two years ago, the press referred to riots schools. The Church would Advertising and Subscriptions: Sadhaka Jothinatha images of the Almighty and give devotees a Prayers and rituals could be better orga-
between “whites and Asians,” even though Hindu and Sikh shops have, in the long term, con- Correspondents: Choodamani Sivaram, Bangalore; Ra- place to worship. The very structure of nized in ways that would inspire youngsters
had been burned and looted in the fray. Hindus walking on the ditioned most of the best jiv Malik, Prabha Prabhakar Bhardwaj, Madhu Kish- these temples inspires discipline, respect, more. For example, the duration of the
streets are still stared down by Brits as villains, though they were, in students to its influence.” At war, Delhi; Mangala Prasad Mohanty, Orissa; V. S. humility and all of the moral ethics that pujas could be reduced. Also, youngsters
fact, as much the victims. The problem intensified after 9/11. UK press time the issue was still Gopalakrishnan, Kerala; Basudeb Dhar, Bangladesh; promote good living. should be given things to do during the
Hindus are now pleading for designation at least as “Indians.” Union leader Suttyhudeo Tengur unsettled. Archana Dongre, Los Angeles; Lavina Melwani, New Even though all of this is true, youngsters activities and worship, like receiving or
York; Dr. Hari Bansh Jha, Nepal; Anil Mahabir, Paras are just not that interested in going to tem- welcoming people attending the pujas or
Ramoutar, Trinidad; Dr. Devananda Tandavan, Chica- ples and becoming involved in religious taking care of people’s requests. There are
Two of the Muslim Personal NASIK KUMBHA MELA 2003 go; V. G. Julie Rajan, Philadelphia; Rajesh Jantilal, activities. Why is this? What can be done many other ways through which temple
Law [Shariat] Application Act auspicious dates at Trimbakesh- South Africa; Tara Katir, Hawaii. HPI Staff: Tara Katir, to fix this? societies can attract a greater participation
of 1937 does not come under war are set. Shahi snan (royal Janaka Param, Toshadeva Guhan, Vijay Pillai, Easan One of the main factors youngsters are of youngsters in religious activities.
the Constitution’s purview. bath) will take place on August Katir, Adi Alahan, Chandra Sankara, Shama Kumaran, missing is knowledge. They just don’t un- I urge all my Hindu brothers and sisters
ANDRA STATE GOVERNMENT HAS better to lose control over these 12. The auspicious dates for the Lavanya Saravan, Rajkumar Manickam, Arjan derstand the point of temple worship. A out there not to let go of their religion and
pulled out of “loss-making” temples rather than pay the MAHARISHI’S SAMHITA YOGA second and third bathing are Daswani. Sanskritist: Dr. P. Jayaraman, New York. bigger problem is that parents usually do culture. Doing so could mean putting an
temples. The priests of at least priests’ salaries. In the long run, institute in Germany registered August 27 and September 7. An Artists: A. Manivelu, S. Rajam. Cartoonists: M. Aru- not understand either. If such is the case, end to a very fine religion and way of life
24,000 temples earning below temples may benefit from such the trademark “Vastu” five estimated 1.1 million pilgrims mugam, Bob Thaves. Photo Contributors: Thomas L. how and what are these adults going to that is more than 5,000 years old and should
US$500 annually must now autonomy. years ago. They later took Mar- are expected. Kelly, Stephen P. Huyler, Dinodia, Amit Kumar, Dev teach their children? This is a common not perish. Just remember! One day we will
search for new income. The cus Schmieke to court for using Raj Agarwal, Phal S. Girota, Tony Stone Images, Pho- problem we face here in Mauritius. And I no longer be the youngsters. We will be the
Supreme Court had allowed the THE CHENNAI HIGH COURT DENIED “Vastu Academy,” forcing him BRITISH MINISTER, REV. RICHARD tobank, Gordon Wiltsie, Indivar Sivanathan. Web Mas- am sure that it exists elsewhere as well. adults, trying to get our children to go to the
State government to take away a petition by Parveen Akhtar, a to change his academy’s name Farr has banned yoga from his ters: Nitya Nadesan, Sadhunathan Nadesan. Distribu- According to dharma, or divine law, tem- temple.
priest controlled endowment Muslim divorcee, to void the to “Vasati.” Ashwini Bansal, di- church. “We are here to tell tion: USA: Ingram Periodicals, New Leaf, EBSCO ple worship is important because it focuses
lands and instead pay them Muslim law under which a hus- rector of the Delhi-based Vastu people about Jesus and his ex- Subscription Services, OneSource, Ubiquity. Europe: our concentration on God. This concentra-
salaries on a pay scale. But the band can decree a divorce by Shastra Institute said, “We are clusive claims. It seems com- SWETS Subscription Service. Malaysia and Singapore: tion toward God helps us purge our wor- Moothoosamy Devaraj Shankara
State government’s Endow- merely pronouncing talaq (“di- planning to fight the registra- pletely inappropriate that we Sanathana Dharma Publications. India: Central News ries and absorb the shakti (divine force, is 18 and finishing his last year of high
ments Department is now un- vorce”) in the presence of two tion and will examine what le- should give someone a platform Agency Limited, Delhi. Mauritius: CODIP. Trinidad: scientifically defined as psychic energy) school in Mauritius. He is deeply interested
willing to bear those expendi- witnesses. Solicitor General B. gal recourse we can take under who is advocating different Pandit Narendra & Ashwinee Ragoonanan. Printer: emanating from the murti, or statue repre- in Hinduism and would like to propagate
tures, deciding it would be G. Gopalan argued that Section the German trademark law.” spiritualities.” Banta Publications Group, Kansas City, MO senting the God. its values to better future generations.

clockwise from top left: newscom, rajen manick,
8 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 9
A living being: Artist’s depiction
PUBLISHER’S DESK of Lord Ganesha surrounded by 

Turning Point—
loving devotees. Temple worship
becomes meaningful for youth,
as well as adults, when a person-
al relationship is established

The ird Generation
with the Deity as a real, con-
scious, highly evolved soul who
can help us in our daily life.

lower states of mind and keep
awareness permanently lifted
Will the grandchildren of Indian Emigrants worship in above the animal instincts of fear
and anger through the regular
the temples they built around the world? That’s up to us. worship of Lord Ganesha.

Good Timing: Games are also an
B Y S AT G U R U B O D H I N AT H A V E Y L A N S W A M I effective way to engage young
children in Hinduism and, with
few months ago we were honored at the Hindu temple when they some creativity, interesting
to participate in a symposium on Hin- are young so that when they games can be developed to
duism at the Sri Venkateswara Temple are adults temple worship will demonstrate good timing. Lord
(S.V. Temple) in Penn Hills, an eastern be a strong habit treasured as Ganesha’s worship can enable us
suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its an important part of their life. to tune in to the natural flow of
website shares the history of the temple. It was Many of the great saints and events that allows us to be in the
one of the earliest Hindu temples in the United sages of Hinduism have had right place at the right time. For
States, constructed at an approximate cost of visions of the Gods and shared example, in giving advice to
$925,000 with donations raised from six thou- them with their devotees, thus someone who had been looking
sand devotees from around the country. Most strengthening the devotees’ for a job for a few weeks without
donors were first-generation Indian immigrants faith and understanding of success we suggested he worship
seeking to maintain ties with their mother cul- these Divine Beings. In his Lord Ganesha at the temple
ture. There is no doubt Hindu first-generation book, Loving Ganesha, Satguru before looking further. He did,
immigrants to North America love to participate Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and the first business they visit-
in the temples they build and often bring their (Gurudeva), founder of this ed that day hired him on the

s. rajam
children, the second generation, with them. But a question to pon- magazine, shared some of his mystical spot.
der is: will we find the third generation present in those same holy perspectives and experiences: “There Young Moothoosamy Devaraj
sanctuaries? Why does this question arise? It arises because so are a great many liberal Hindus and/or Shankara’s “In My Opinion”
many first-generation Hindus have shared with us their surprise Western-influenced Hindus who don’t piece on page nine of this issue
and concern that their children have no interest whatsoever in the think of Ganesha as a real being. To them He is a symbol, a super- of benefits to focus on, and some approaches for teaching children observes: “Very often we do not find religious activities and func-
temple once they reach adulthood. And if they have no interest, stition, a way of explaining philosophy to children and the unedu- that you can try for yourself. tions organized by the temples to be very interesting. More pre-
certainly they will not encourage their children to participate in cated. But this has not been my experience of our loving Lord. I cisely, they are boring... Youngers should be given things to do
temple worship. have seen Him with my own eye. He has come to me in visions Intellectual Control: When you start each day’s study, or come during the activities and worship, like receiving or welcoming
Passing on Hindu traditions to the younger generation has al- several times and convinced my lower mind of His reality.” upon a difficult subject, pray for Ganesha’s clear mind. See and people attending the pujas or taking care of people’s requests.
ways been a duty of parents. However, that duty seems to be more Teaching children that the Gods are real beings and that the feel a bright yellow light around your head. Feel smart. Strongly There are many other ways through which temple societies can
difficult to fulfill in today’s world. A hundred years ago in India purpose of going to the temple is to experience Their blessings is desire to understand. When you have a problem in life, at school, attract a greater participation of youngsters in religious activities.”
the temple hosted the most interesting activities in the village: what transforms the temple from a cultural hall to a truly sacred home or work, Lord Ganesha will help you. Ganesha knows every- In our fellowship, we have found that cultural events are an ef-
dramas, dances, musical concerts and the pageantry of regular place. For a child, going to the temple can then be like visiting the thing about you and everybody you know, from the past into the fective way for children of all ages to participate in temple activi-
festivals all drew significant crowds, as the events had no competi- home of a grandfather or grandmother whose compassion and future. But you must ask for His help. See Ganesha’s majestic face ties. The children sing, play musical instruments, dance and
tion. In our modern world, competition abounds. There are movies wisdom the child really enjoys. The child is happy to go to be with and with mental force ask for help and explain the problem. Lord perform a drama or skit. And there are the many rehearsals at the
filled with stunning special effects, television, the Internet with its someone he or she delights in spending time with. Ganesha will send you ideas and thought power, introduce you to temple as well. This is great fun and very satisfying to all. For old-
endless ramifications and computer games—all of which fill hours Gurudeva continues: “Among all the wonderful Hindu Deities, new attitudes, help you to understand other people, help you use er children, forming one or more youth committees empowers
of many children’s daily life, significantly influencing their values, Lord Ganesha is the closest to the material plane of consciousness, wisdom and not emotions to face life’s many experiences. them to take on certain responsibilities, such as organizing a festi-
beliefs and attitudes. Another factor is that many children are most easily contacted and most able to assist us in our day-to-day val, arranging for decorations and prasadam. This builds a strong
growing up in communities where Hindus are a small minority, so life and concerns.” Focusing on education, he says, “We must teach Emotional Control: Through the worship of Lord Ganesha, we feel sense that it is their temple, too, not just their parents’ temple. All
these children tend to take on the interests of their non-Hindu the world’s Hindu youth the greatness of their Hinduism. We must better about life, rising above the lower emotions of insecurity, in all, it is crucial to not take for granted the interest of children in
peers. Parents are also faced with an unprecedented number of teach them that they need not leave their ancestral faith to enter fear, anger and jealousy and instead experience peace and content- the temple but to carefully develop it over the years through a
questions about Hinduism. The younger generation, especially into science, politics or any kind of intellectual pursuit. We must ment. Tuning in to His shakti variety of interesting and fun,
those educated in Western style schools, are taught to question and teach them to seek the able assistance of Lord Ganesha in all and being, through attending educational and cultural activities
challenge, “Why do we do this? What does this mean?” Many of things. He is the first Ishta Devata, the chosen God, of all Hindus, puja at the temple or even just BENEFITS OF WORSHIP • improve our character and responsibilities. The focus
their parents were raised in the Eastern education system, in regardless of their sectarian position. Worship of Lord Ganesha visualizing Him in your mind, • strengthen memory • experience good timing always needs to be on how temple
which questions are discouraged. Therefore, when asked why this leads the devotee most naturally to the other great Gods.” helps raise you up into the • stimulate intelligence • increase domestic harmony worship benefits their life, help-
and why that by their children, they often find themselves Clearly, teaching children to worship Lord Ganesha is a natural muladhara chakra and there- • solve problems easier • increase self control ing them become happier, more
unequipped to supply the answers. They never asked the questions place to start in introducing them to the Gods. This is most effec- fore out of anger and fear into • study well in school • remove obstacles in our path successful and more cultured
of their parents, so they simply do not know. Clearly there is a tively done by showing how worshiping Him can help us, as Gu- a calm state of mind. In fact, • stabilize emotions • be more successful in life adults who value the temple as an
heightened need to teach children the benefits of regular worship rudeva stresses, in day-to day life and concerns. Here is a short list you can slowly seal off these indispensible part of their life.

10 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 200 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 11
LETTERS motives, while many Christians have relief
of human suffering as their main goal. Once
a channel for sharing the hundreds of re-
ports we have been getting for many years.
the veil of ignorance, shedding light in the
darkened world of today. The birth of HIN-
Devotees Don’t Hit Children main difference between, say, Superman du in a Western world, the ridicule that their relief efforts have been successful, That was his goal. As for missionaries’ moti- DUISM TODAY was a spiritual event, dispel-
hinduism today’s last two issues talk and Hanuman? I am not asking for love of comes with being so open of our faith. they are happy to tell people about their vations, in more than thirty years of re- ling gloom and bringing spiritual advance-
a lot about abolition of corporal punishment. Rama or God, just the simple human at- Sailaja A. Ganti faith, but do not coerce anyone into embrac- search into these issues, we have yet to find a ment to humanity. It is getting more and
These articles give an impression that this tributes of Hanuman for youth to emulate! ∫ ing it. I understand that the Hindu world is single Christian missionary effort where more beautiful with the charming pho-
[movement to stop hitting children] is a These are three. He represents bala, strength. under incredible pressures from Muslim and conversion was not a central item on its tographs and religious topics. You have
Western concept. I believe it is an Eastern Whatever we do, we have to do it with full Priests Decline Christian prejudice. But over-reacting to agenda, albeit perhaps cloaked to its West- brought the universe to our door. There is no
concept, lost under Western influences. The vigor, give our best. Invoke strength, without the decline in priests is a feature of all every perceived slight is only making the sit- ern sources of funding. Nor have we any necessity to wing our way to places of inter-
Tamil saint of yore, Abhirami Bhattar, sang: which we cannot achieve anything, spiritu- religions today, since the salaries of full time uation worse and does not give a balanced record of any Christian missionary publicly est, for HINDUISM TODAY is taking us all over,
“Devotees with such soft feet that they are al or even secular. He represents buddhi. If priests will never match other jobs (“Mega- or favorable impression of Sanatana Dhar- declaring that conversion was not among his to all the best of all the holy temples.
frightened even to tread on cotton blossoms something does not agree with common trends,” Jan-Mar 2003). Solutions include: ma. I am afraid this tendency has been in- intentions. nageswari nadarajah
do not hit their own children.” sense (let alone laws of induction and de- 1) permit part-time priests and enlarge the creasing since your founder’s Mahasamadhi. surrey, england
Dr. A. Somasundarampillai duction), then reject it, even if it comes in pool of recruitment to all communities, in- ted czukor, ted’s gentle yoga Best in the World
Jaffna, Sri Lanka the name of religion. The third aspect, not cluding non-Brahmins. The true test should phoenix, arizona, usa circumstances kept me in the u.k. for Letters, with writer’s name, address and daytime
emphasized by modern Hindu teachers, is be motivation, not pedigree or caste. Hered- some time, far from my Australian home. phone number, should be sent to:
Survival Through Tolerance perhaps Hanuman’s most important—brah- itary Brahmin priests are a relatively recent ✔ Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in- During that time, I eagerly looked forward Letters, Hinduism Today
my gratitude to all at Hinduism To- macharya, celibacy. No namby-pamby occurrence in Hinduism’s five millennia of cluded in his editorial mandate for Hindu- to reading HINDUISM TODAY, that treasure 107 Kaholalele Road
day for the sheer pleasure your articles pro- “sense management,” pure and simple, existence. The earlier we get rid of this prac- ism Today, a nonviolent, “holding the Hindu house of knowledge. While you sit comfort- Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA
or faxed to: (808) 822-4351
vide with their insightfulness. Most impres- celibacy, absolute celibacy, even in our tice, the better it is for the survival and front line.” A review of past issues since ably in an armchair, it takes you around the
or e-mailed to:
sive was your cover (Jan-Mar 2003) figure of dreams. Someone said, “Then the Hindu spread of Hinduism. 2) He/she must be will- 1979 shows that we have always highlight- globe. I wish HINDUISM TODAY greater suc-
Shri Dada J.P. Vaswani. His embodiment of youth will go away from religion!” So be it. ing to work for less money, because the per- ed Christian incursion on Hinduism. Our cess and popularity. It is the best religious Letters may be edited for space and clarity and may
tolerance and love of God in whatever form, Religion is not a fashion accessory! The rea- son likes the job and considers it a calling. daily news service, Hindu Press Internation- and spiritual magazine in the world, a hap- appear in electronic versions of HINDUISM TODAY.
while knowing the depth of truth to be the son Hanuman is greater than Superman is 3) Worship in local language, using the al, which he himself instituted, simply opens py blend of East and West. It has removed ∫ INDICATES LETTERS RECEIVED VIA E-MAIL
lofty principles of Hinduism, is the very rea- because if “Lois Lane” flutters her eyelashes mother tongue is legitimate and necessary.
son why Hinduism survived all the years of at Superman he turns to jelly. If a beautiful My children (US born) complain that they
onslaught from religions which are insen- lady flutters her eyelashes at Hanuman, he do not understand the services. If people do
sitive or intolerant to others. In spite of our
constant exposure, on a daily basis, to rabid
evangelical propaganda in India and Islam’s
would say, “Mother, you have something in
your eye…let me clear it!”
Dilip Lakhani
not understand the service, they should not
be blamed for converting to another reli-
gion, where the mother tongue is used. The
We Have a Great Past, a Greater Future
absolute intolerance of any other religion, is Vivekananda Centre London best way is to use Sanskrit, Tamil and the
it not surprising that we Hindus still consti- ∫ mother tongue so that Sanskrit and Tamil Your planned giving can help this magazine strengthen Hinduism worldwide
tute the majority population in India? May texts are understood by the devotee.
Sanatana Dharma usher in the New Age as More Souls Come From Where? Mrs. Jumuna Vittal Ph.D.
civilization seeks for greater ideals through regarding mr. thomas drew’s query and ∫ hen sagely kings of the past sought to
its lofty eternal principles! the reply by Sashi H. Dave on the origin of preserve the culture and institutions of their day,
narayani nandhi souls (“Letters,” Jul/Sep, Oct/Dec, 2002 ), Big Help for Pandit’s Sermons they established endowments that would endure be-
∫ [postulating a limited number of souls.] may the light of our gurudeva be yond their reign. Witness the ancient monasteries and
When the wave rises on the surface of the with us forever. I am getting Hinduism To- temples of South India. Even today, many hundreds of years
Yoga Is a Hindu Practice! ocean, does it rise only after the one before day quarterly. It plays a very important role after their patrons lived, these institutions are benefitting.
recently you stated that “the excep- it dies down! Does the number of waves re- in the delivery of my Sunday morning ser- How? The kings gave lands in perpetuity. The crops and rent
tion is hatha yoga which, as a stand-alone main the same! If not, who or what creates mon at our Edinburgh Hindu Temple. earned by those lands continues to support these institutions.
practice divorced from religion, has in- the additional ones! The concept of soul in Pundit Tiwari Madurai, called the Athens of India, has at its heart a sprawl-
creased in popularity.” (“Megatrends,” Hindu thought is pure energy, a speck of the Edinburgh, Trinidad ing temple, surrounded by shops of every kind, whose rents
Jan/Mar 2003) This is a very damaging universal energy, usually referred to as the support the temple. Similarly, Tiruvavaduthurai Aadheenam
statement. No form of yoga can be honestly “Absolute.” The Bhagavad Gita says, “By a Child Labor Can Be Honorable! was given farmlands, and each year those who grow crops
separated from Hinduism. The modern un- speck of my energy I have pervaded the en- in our present-day system of life, every- bring a share to the monastery. We have seen the halls filled
ethical trend to divorce hatha yoga (simply tire universe.” “This cosmos is but a partial one must do something to earn and live with with rice, to be sold and the income directed to many projects
called “yoga,” only adding to the confusion) revelation of the Infinite,” explains Dr. S. honor. But if in our India a child wants to of the complex. In this spirit, you can help ensure that in the Rock solid: Planned giving can provide permanent support
from Hinduism is religious bigotry. Radhakrishnan. “Whatever aspect of the keep his morale high and works, it is called year 2500, Hinduism Today still carries on its mission as a
Jyothi Kumar Absolute could be brought under enumera- “child labor.” I do not understand this mod- unifying instrument of global dharma. Here’s how. you today and throughout your lifetime. If you establish a trust
∫ tion is but a small fraction of what remains ern thinkers’ double standard. East or West, today, your donation will be tax-deductible this year, and the
of the Absolute beyond the power of enu- the rule of honor must be the same. It is a Bequests and Revocable Living Trusts income from the trust will come to you for the duration of
✔ Agreed. The knowing separation of hatha meration,” explains Nataraja Guru. matter of honor for the child to work if the In your will or revocable living trust, designate as one of the your life. Upon your passing, the principle, or some portion of
yoga from Hinduism is deceptive. But, to- K. R. Parvathi family is financially in trouble. charitable beneficiaries either Hindu Heritage Endowment it, is assigned to Hinduism Today.
day, many teachers are simply unaware of ∫ Varun Gupta, India Fund #4, Hinduism Today Distribution Fund, which will
yoga’s Hindu roots and spiritual goals. ∫ provide the funds for broad free distribution of the magazine; Contact Us/See What Others Are Doing
Western Youth Voice Needed or Hindu Heritage Endowment Fund #20, Hinduism Today To learn more about the fund, for details on planned giving
my name is sailaja ganti, a young amer- Too Down on Christians? Endowment Trust, to support editorial costs. Hindu Heritage and to see what other people are doing, go to:
Emphasize Brahmacharya ican Hindu. First, I would like to thank you i am an american yogi and a devotee of Endowment (HHE) is a charitable trust whose Federal Em-
in a recent talk i gave at king’s col- for writing some amazing articles about our of many Hindu Deities. I admire the Hindu ployer Identification Number is #99-0808924, located at 107
lege, London, on Hinduism’s relationship to religion. You have given me new insight into tradition which, except for recent comments Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304, USA.
modern sciences, one youngster asked about my religion as well as answered numerous by some of the more radical groups, respects You may also write a letter or phone our editor at 808-822-
Hanuman. This topic brought into focus a questions. I think the magazine needs a and tolerates people of every faith. But Establish a Charitable Remainder Trust 7032 ext 223 if you would like assistance in arranging to make
serious flaw in the portrayal of Hinduism to young voice from someone who is dealing many of your reporters revel in exposing This is a useful tool for making large grants that can benefit a contribution, or email us at
Hindu youth in the West. I asked what is the with the concerns and issues of being Hin- Christian groups and their dark and sinister

12 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 13
Frank and Ernest ©1999 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

“Only the ignorant man expects perfection
and lasting fulfillment from this Earth.”
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), founder of Self-Realization Fellowship

Hinduism gave itself no name, because it Dharma is the cause of happiness. If today instructive materials in the history of man
set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no we do not have the mental peace and hap- are treasured up in India only.
universal adhesion, asserted no sole infalli- piness of our ancestors, it is due to our Mark Twain (1835-1910), American writer
ble dogma, set up no single narrow path or gross neglect of dharma. When the prac-
gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult tice of dharma declined, suffering began. Whenever possible, it is always good to act
than a continuously enlarging tradition of Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati in kindness. It is always possible.
the Godward endeavor of the human spirit. Mahaswamigal (1912-1954), 34th pontiff The Dalai Lama
An immense, many-sided and many staged of the Sarada Peetham have sought and found how to serve. blood and baking flesh which permeates in the right direction, carefully guided on
provision for a spiritual self-building and A man asked Mata Amritanandamayi Ma Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) the granules of every brick of every wall, I the San Marga, the straight path to our
self-finding, it had some right to speak of The moralists may condemn them or praise when he would achieve liberation. Amma feel the stain of death upon that house and supreme God. After grace has been
itself by the only name it knew, the eternal them, the Goddess of Wealth may come or described two kinds of buses: The express There are innumerable opinions and innu- know it cannot be a place where I will rest. received, our thoughts are enlivened, our
religion, Sanatana Dharma. go as She pleases, death may occur today bus, which goes straight to the final desti- merable paths leading to God... You must Swami Bua Ji Maharaj, age 113, Yoga life is inspired with enthusiasm and energy,
Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) or after ages—no matter what, the wise nation, and the local bus that stops often. stick to one path with all your strength. A Vedanta Center of New York and we live daily in the joyous knowledge
don’t deviate from the path of justice. She said that since the man was not on the man can reach the roof of a house by stone that everything is all right, everything is
The man who is kind and practices right- Bhartrihari’s Nitishatakam express bus, it was hard to say when he stairs or a ladder or a rope ladder or a rope After receiving grace of a God, the devotee happening around us in accord with our
eousness, who remains passive in the af- would reach the destination. or even by a bamboo pole. But he cannot can never be the same again, never look at karma, our dharma and God’s gracious
fairs of the world, who considers creatures India is the cradle of the human race, the reach the roof if he sets foot now on one life again in the old way. By grace we are will. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
of the world as his own self, he attains the mother of history, the grandmother of leg- I don’t know what your destiny will be, but and now on another. directed deeper into spiritual life, pointed (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today
immortal Being; the true God is ever with end and the great grandmother of tradi- one thing I know: the only ones among you Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886)
him. Saint Kabir (1440-1518) tion. The most valuable and the most who will really be happy are those who
Everything is perfect, with much room for Understanding One’s
improvement. Shunryu Suzuki-roshi (1905- Duty to Give
DI D YOU K NOW ? 1971), Japanese Soto Zen master
Tirukural 215: The wealth of a
Malaysia’s Largest Recorded Pongal Cooking Event Youth are blamed for being careless and community-loving wise man
useless, but in reality I feel that they are may be likened to a well-filled
he sri veerakathy vinayagar cared for less and are used less, and as a village water tank.
Alayam in Rawang, Malaysia, result the costliest resources of the society
holds the record for “The Largest are getting wasted. Brahmachari Atma Tirukural 216: Riches retained
Pongal Cooking Event,” endorsed Chaitanya of Chinmaya Mission, Kerala by the big-hearted resemble
by the Malaysia Book of Records. Called fruits ripening on a tree
“People’s Pongal 2003,” the record-break- The old religions said that he was an athe- in the heart of a village.
ing event occured on Thai Pongal, Janu- ist who did not believe in God. The new
ary 14, a festival Tamil Hindus have held religion says he is an atheist who does not Tirukural 217: In the hands of a
for thousands of years to celebrate the believe in himself. generous man, wealth is like
rice harvest and give thanks annually to Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) a medicinal tree whose
God Surya, the Sun, at the beginning of healing gifts help all.
the Tamil month of Thai. Over 2,000 If I enter a home where meat (flesh) is
people attended as families simultane- served, my heart is seized with sadness Tirukural 218: Those who know
ously boiled a total of 320 ceremonial when I realize that once-living creatures duty deeply never neglect giving,
pots of sweet rice, called pongal. are now silently frozen in a coffin of ice. even in their own unprosperous

a. manivelu
Frigid carcasses cruelly denied the cour- season.
A record: More than 300 families took tesy of cremation await to fill new burial
part in the Pongal ceremony grounds in the warmth of human stomachs.
And when I smell the odor of animals’

14 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 15

Meditating on A-U-M
Rishi Pippalada shares secrets about the Primal Sound
atyakama, the son of sibi, asked gradual stages. The Supreme Brahman, also called the
Pippalada: “Sir, if among men someone Higher Brahman, is devoid of all characteristics and can-
should here meditate on the syllable Aum not be known through words or thought. Aparabrahman,
until death, which world, verily, would he or the lower, “other” Brahman, is the first manifestation of
win thereby?” Pippalada replied: “O the Absolute, or Pure Consciousness, in maya.
Satyakama, the syllable Aum is the Supreme Brahman, being transcendental in nature, cannot be di-
Brahman and also the other Brahman. Therefore he who rectly comprehended by the mind. Therefore, many indi-
knows it attains, with its support, the one or the other. rect meditations on Brahman are laid down in the scrip-
“If he meditates on one letter (matri), then, being en- tures. One such is meditation through a symbol, or
lightened by that alone, he quickly comes back to Earth pratika, which means meditation on one aspect of an all-
after death. The Rig verses lead him to the world of pervading entity, or on something associated with it, as the
men. By practicing austerity, chastity and faith, he en- thing itself. Aum is the most immediate symbol of Brah-
joys greatness. man. It is much more effective than any other symbol. By
“If, again, he meditates on the second letter, he attains contemplating the Supreme Brahman through Aum, one
the mind and is led up by the Yajur verses to the inter- realizes the highest plane, and by using Aum as a symbol
mediate space, to the Plane of the Moon. Having en- of the Lower Brahman, one attains a lower plane.
joyed greatness in the Plane of the Moon, he returns Plane of the Moon: The second syllable, U, is the symbol
hither again. of the verses of the Yajur Veda leading up to the Somaloka,
“Again, he who meditates on the Highest Person through Plane of the Moon, located in the space between Heaven
this syllable Aum consisting of three letters, becomes unit- and Earth where dwellers experience various supernatural
ed with the effulgent Sun. As a snake is freed from its glories (“greatness”). The mind is controlled by the Deity
skin, even so he is freed from sin. who governs the moon. It is associated with dreams, since
“The three letters of Aum [used separately] are mortal; dreams are creations of the mind. Dream experiences are
but when joined together in meditation on the total Reali- projections of the mind. The after-death experiences in
ty and used properly on the activities of the external, in- the Plane of the Moon are of the same nature as ideas and
ternal and intermediate states, the knower trembles not. are therefore compared to dreams.
“The wise man, meditating on Aum, attains this world Sama Verses: He is led up, by the Sama Veda verses, of
by means of the Rig verses; the intermediate world by which M is the symbol, to the World of Brahma. From
means of the Yajur verses; and that which is known to the this, which is the aggregate of all lives, he beholds the
seers by means of the Sama verses. And also through the Supreme Purusha, higher than the High and pervading all
syllable Aum he realizes that which is tranquil, free from bodies. This exalted plane is known also as Satyaloka.
decay, death and fear, and which is the Highest.” But When Joined Together: If the aspirant meditates sep-
atharva veda, prasna upanishad 5.1–7 arately on each of the three letters constituting Aum, he is
translation by swami nikhilananda born again in this world. This is because A, U, and M, tak-
en separately, do not indicate Saguna Brahman, the real-
Commentary by Swami Nikhilananda ization of which alone enables one to transcend death.
Meditate: Meditation means the continuous flow of the When the three letters are joined together to form the syl-
mind toward Atman through the total exclusion of all ideas lable Aum, that syllable should be used as the symbol of
“He who meditates on the Highest Person through foreign to It. The aspirant should meditate on Aum with
great love, regarding it as the symbol of Brahman, as a life-
Brahman, or the Cosmic Reality.
Trembles Not: As a result of meditation on Brahman, the
long vow (“until death”). aspirant realizes his oneness with Saguna Brahman, or the
this syllable Aum, consisting of three letters, Which World: Many are the worlds that spiritual seekers World Soul. Therefore, he has no reason to be afraid of
may attain after death. Aum is the symbol of both the anything. Attaining Brahmaloka, he overcomes death and
becomes united with the effulgent sun. Lower Brahman and the Higher Brahman. Brahman may
be worshiped by the aspirant in both aspects. From the
rebirth. He who meditates on the entire syllable Aum,
bearing in mind his identity with Brahman, attains Brah-
Lower Brahman he can attain the Higher Brahman by maloka and ultimately final Liberation.
As a snake is freed from its skin,
Swami Nikhilananda (1895–1973), was founder and
even so he is freed from sin.” 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
spiritual leader of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of
in number, Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, the Vedas include over New York from 1933 to his Mahasamadhi in 1973. His
atharva veda, prasna upanishad 5.5 four-volume Upanishad translation was completed in 1959.
100,000 verses. Oldest portions may date back as far as 6,000 BCE.

16 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 17
beachcomber resorts, vel kadressen, rajen manick
Hindus of Mauritius have come a long way since the days of indentured
servitude less than 200 years ago. Can they face the challenges of tomorrow?

By Rajiv Malik, New Delhi, India its population is mainly of French descent. disparity of their origins, they found them-
have always heard it said that Yet 60 percent of the island is Hindu, even selves united in hardship, for life as an in-
India is the ancestral home of Hin- though only 40 percent originally came from dentured servant was extremely difficult,
duism. This seems almost too obvious India. The rest of the Mauritian people are humiliating and sometimes even cruel. To-
to mention. However, with the diaspo- primarily Christian or Muslim. Although a day, this bond of inherited mutual compas-
ra of Hindus around the globe—first number of dialects are spoken among the sion remains with them regardless of the
as indentured servants from 1835 to various ethnic groups, English is the official fact that their ethnic groups have been po-
1910 and later after 1960 as fleeing wartime language, and French Creole has become litically separated due to particular festivals
refugees and adventurous fortune seekers— the common vernacular. being officially proclaimed public holidays
the larger picture of this oldest of world re- Mauritius was probably known to Arab according to ethnic origin. First and fore-
ligions has changed considerably. India still seafarers during the tenth century, or per- most, however, the Mauritian Hindu is over-
holds its place as Hinduism’s throne of ori- haps even earlier. The Portuguese visited whelmingly religious. He simply cannot
gin, but changing times have given birth to the island in the early 16th century but did bear to miss a festival—regardless of whom
offspring outposts now burgeoning all over not settle there. Although the Dutch formal- it has been assigned to. All Mauritian Hin-
the planet. Thriving with the enthusiasm of ly claimed possession of it in 1598 and dus participate in all festivals.
new life, many of these outposts are One of the biggest festivals on the
often better examples of Hinduism in island is Mahasivaratri, “Siva’s Great
practice than even Mother India her- Night.” During this annual Hindu
self. Mauritius is one such place. celebration, which takes place in the
India’s prime minister Sri Atal Bi- months of February and March, four
hari Vajpayee said, “The sea between to nine days of ceremony and fasting
India and Mauritius does not divide lead up to an all-night vigil of Siva
them. It unites them.” I certainly worship. I was told boldly and proud-
found this to be true when I traveled ly that, although this festival is offi-
to that small island for two weeks in cially designated as a public holiday

vel kadressen
September, 2002, on assignment for for the North Indian Hindi-speaking
Hinduism Today. The Mauritian community, every single Mauritian
Hindus welcomed me right in the Hindu participates by making a pil-
streets saying, “Ram Ram” or “Aum grimage to Grand Bassin, which they
Namasivaya.” They invited me into also call “Ganga Talao” after the sa-
their homes, fed me and introduced cred Ganges river in India. Many of A land of extremes: (Above) Thriving Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius and its only metropolitan city. (Below) Pilgrims encircle
h i n d u i s m t o d ay

me to their families. The whole time I these devotees walk the full distance, Grand Bassin—also known as Ganga Talao—during annual Sivaratri celebrations. The island in the middle of the lake is where “the
was there I never felt homesick, be- some barefooted, visiting roadside angels rest and wash their hair.” (Inset above) Map showing Mauritius in relationship to South Africa. (Inset below) Pilgrims pulling and
cause I never felt like I was away from shrines and singing devotional songs carrying colorful kanwars to Ganga Talao often walk the two-day journey barefooted.
home. Even the physical characteris- along the way. Hindus living near the
tics of these people—their features, pilgrimage route consider it a privi-
their expressions, their styles of Sacred worship: Bathing the Siva Lingam with milk lege to rush forward and offer water
dress—were all just like back in Delhi. during high ceremony on Mahasivaratri in one of several or juice to the tired travelers who
Just my being Hindu seemed reason Siva temples at Grand Bassin usually carry no food or water.
enough for them to shower me with As penance for past misdeeds,
their abundant love and affection. The re- named it “Mauritius,” the island remained many of these pilgrims pull or carry kan-
marks of taxi driver Ramesh Seeboruth were unoccupied except for renegade pirates. Fi- wars, chariots or shoulder arches decorated
both touching and typical. “People from In- nally, the French took it under aggressive with flowers and colored paper. These kan-
dia are not tourists,” he said. “They are fam- control in 1767 and planted sugar. For the wars can be simple or complex—sometimes
ily. Hindus are very good people. I have a first time, a prospering colony was estab- even humorous. On one occasion a kanwar
desire in my heart that I will visit India some lished. Although the British captured Mau- was constructed to look like a Boeing 747
day.” Dozens of pictures of Hindu Gods and ritius in 1810 and their occupation was con- airplane, 25 feet wide and 40 feet long. Elab-
Goddesses were artistically placed in Ram- firmed by the Treaty of Paris, the customs, orate kanwars can cost up to us$2,000 to
esh’s taxi around the steering wheel. laws and language remained French. Slav- create.
ery was abolished in 1835, and slaves were
The Island replaced with indentured servants from In- The Legend of the Lake
Formed by a volcano and shaped like an dia. These indentured servants from the My new Mauritian friends most happily in-
oyster, Mauritius is a small island country lo- holy land of Bharat brought Hinduism to formed me that any good Hindu visiting
cated in the Indian Ocean 500 miles east of Mauritius less than two centuries back. Mauritius absolutely had to make the “Gan-
Madagascar. Its 788 square miles of land These first Hindus of Mauritius were a ga Talao pilgrimage.” Although I had already
h i n d u i s m t o d ay

mass form a plain in the North that rises to heterogeneous lot. They arrived in great planned to go, it would have been impossible
a grand plateau in the central region before waves from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the not to. As I walked around that magical lake
descending to a girdle of beaches known the North of India and from Tamil Nadu and enjoying its indescribable beauty, I chanced
world over for their uncommon scenic beau- Andhra Pradesh in the South. Others came upon a distinguished gentleman named Sri
ty. Because Mauritius was settled by France, from Maharashtra and Gujarat. Despite the Satish Dayal who was, as it turned out, a re-

20 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 21
tired member of parliament. Dayal ex- speaking community, celebrates the birth of bridegroom. At such times, relatives, friends, “I have served as a priest within the Arya Samaj for the last 50 years. We have more than eight
plained to me that his family had built and Lord Ganesha and just as readily attracts all neighbors and acquaintances forget all dif- thousand Arya Samaj centers all over the world. Yet, if I tell you that Mauritius is the soul of the
now maintains a popular Siva temple on the the island’s Hindus, since this God is the Pa- ferences for the sake of simple rejoicing. Arya Samaj, you might be surprised. But it is true. The Arya Samaj in Mauritius is more active
banks of Ganga Talao called the Lord Mau- tron of Harmony and is worshiped in all Hin- Ethnicity is of no concern. Today in Mauri- and lively than the Arya Samaj in India. For the 125th Anniversary of Arya Samaj in March of
rishwernath Temple. He took me to this tem- du temples. Finally, there is Divali, “the Fes- tius, more and more cross-ethnic and cross- 2000, we arranged for 125 havans (fire ceremonies) to take place here. Immediately, all these ha-
ple and conducted a puja for me there. I was tival of Lights,” also known as Dipavali. cultural marriages are occurring among vans were fully booked. Some families came to me and said that they also wanted to participate.
deeply impressed by his devotion and his Divali is so popular it is pro- Hindus. This is a new development and por- When we told them that there was just no more room, they arranged for their own havans. Dur-
chanting of Sanskrit, which was claimed a national public hol- tends well for the future. ing the anniversary celebrations, there were a total of 165 havans. I have never seen so much
flawless. After the ceremony, he iday in Mauritius. Not dedication anywhere. However, I must say that many of the youth are not coming to Arya Samaj
told me the mystical legend of only does it cut across Organizations of Note meetings, and this is a major concern of ours. I feel that we have not tried hard enough to com-
Ganga Talao. Hindu ethnic barri- There are many important Hindu religious municate with the youth. We must change with the changing times and try to win them over.

rajiv malik
“Usually a lake is formed organizations in Mauritius. They are our future.”
at the bottom of a valley,” The first to arrive: This nameless The famous Ramakrishna Dr. Swami Satyam—Chairman, Vedic Dharma Prachar Samiti of
Satish said softly, leaning couple was among the first and Chinmayananda Mis- Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha
forward with widened Indian immigrants to arrive in sions both have centers on
eyes as if to tell a secret. Mauritius around 1835 to work the island which are exten-
“But, as you can see, this as indentured servants sions of their networks al- “Here in Mauritius equal opportunity is given to all religions. We are the only country in the
lake is on top of a moun- ready very well established world where government provides subsidy to run temples. Unfortunately, we do have a problem.
tain. This is very unusu- worldwide (See sidebars). As a result of a strong political influence, Hinduism has become compartmentalized. This is oc-
al. According to legend, The Arya Samaj and the curring because religion is getting linked to language. I want to bridge this gap created by the
this is where the angels Swami Lakshmanacharya politicians. Yes, I am a politician. That is how I can help. I chair a committee which oversees the
came to bathe and rest. Vishwa Santi Foundation solving of problems faced by religious organizations in this country. We also try to anticipate any
They would dry their hair also have ashrams in Mau- threat to their existence. The idea is that everybody should be given the liberty to grow and
on a small island in the ritius where they provide flourish. Our greatest promise is our youth. In India, the heads of religious institutions and tem-
middle of the lake. First, great service. But it is ples are old. Here, they are young. Here, we have new life. Wherever I go, I see organizations
Grand Bassin became known Krishnanand Ashram run by the youngsters. And for them language is not an issue. Our youngsters are taking over,
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as ‘Pari Talao’ (a lake for an- that warms the very and this is good. The elders are still there, but the youngsters are leading the way. Modern ideas
gels). This was 100 years ago. heart of Mauritian spir- are coming in. We cannot stop them. It is our children who are molding these modern ideas in
Then, when devotees started having itual life. positive ways to help our religion. We are in safe hands.”
visions of Lord Siva there, it became as- In an antiquated Anil Kumar Bachoo, Minister, Public Infrastructure,
sociated with the Ganges in India. A lot of building in Calebasses Land Transport and Shipping, Mauritius Government
rituals were performed. A lot of Ganga water ers, it crosses a originally constructed
from India was poured into this lake. Finally, few Christian ones as an Infirmary in 1888,
people began to call it ‘Ganga Talao.’ From as well. During this Swami Krishnanand himself never touched money, he inspired Santi Foundation (SLVF) is another impor- The Spiritual Park and Ganesha Chaturthi
‘Grand Bassin,’ it became ‘Pari Talao,’ and special time, all tem- founded the Krishnanand the financing of hugely expensive, service- tant Hindu institution in Mauritius. Under On the northeastern coast of Mauritius
from ‘Pari Talao,’ it became ‘Ganga Talao.’ ples and some church- Seva Ashram and the Hu- oriented projects in Mauritius as well as in the direction of its charismatic founder, there is a remarkable Hindu pilgrimage des-
That was when a statue of Goddess Ganga es light lamps with man Service Trust in 1983. many other countries, including Kenya, Swami Sri Lakshmanacharyulu, many Mau- tination called the “Spiritual Park—Where
was put there. It is the biggest statue of Gan- wicks dipped in oil, and Today, this ashram supports Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and ritian Hindus have become vegetarian and River Meets the Sea.” Founded by Satguru
ga anywhere in the world. Another distinc- true religious solidarity is 200 needy people in residence Zimbabve. Swami Krishnanand is consid- learned to worship regularly. The SLVF also Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the late publish-
tion of this lake is that no one knows its felt in an all-encompassing and maintains a fully equipped ered by many to be the most eloquent cul- provides free medicine, meals and lodging— er of Hinduism Today, the Park officially
depth, despite scientific investigation. Even mood of cheerfulness and joy. Live ayurvedic health care center that treats tural ambassador of immigrant Indians as well as yoga classes for the youth. The opened to pilgrims and the public on Sep-
in extreme drought, it never dries up.” cultural shows are organized in strategic ar- some 400 outside patients each week. Swa- Mauritius ever had. Among his accom- swami is credited with bringing many of the tember 14, 1999. Although the property is
eas, and during the evening hours many ele- mi Krishnanand, who was born in Rajasthan plishments, two important social contribu- island’s Hindu converts to Christianity and exquisitely landscaped around a number of
Other Hindu Festivals gantly dressed Hindus amble about the in 1900 and died in Mauritius in 1992, spent tions stand out. First, he stressed character Islam back into Hinduism. open-air buildings established for worship,
Other important Hindu festivals in Mauritius streets enjoying houses beautifully decorated a long, fruitful life as a spiritual teacher and development in his training of the island’s meditation, music, education and religious
include Thai Pusam, honoring the South In- with multi-colored lights and earthen lamps. mentor to literally thousands of Mauritian Indian youth. Then he encouraged Indian activities, the rare treasures of the Park are
dian God Muruga. Although it is officially a Aside from religious festivals, Hindu wed- families. Famous for freely and abundantly families to send their children to India for the three eight-foot-tall stone murtis, icons
Tamil holiday, thousands of non-Tamils join dings draw different Hindus groups togeth- giving away clothes, food, money and reli- higher education. Today there are 9,000 of Hindu Deities, that were hand-carved in
in to carry kavadi (like kanwar). Ganesha er. On the eve of a typical wedding, a vege- gious literature everywhere he went, he tru- graduates from India living in Mauritius. Mahabalipuram, India. A five-faced Gane-
Chaturthi, a festival occurring on a public tarian meal is customarily served in a huge ly lived a life of service. His motto was: “Ser- The Arya Samaj is active in Mauritius. sha is enshrined in the Kerala-style “Gane-
holiday assigned to the extensive Marathi- tent erected near the home of the bride or vice to man is service to God.” Although he Loosely affiliated worldwide under a super- sha Pavilion” at the center of the Park. Dak-
visory organization called the Arya Sabha, shinamurti, a form of God Siva, sits
the Arya Samaj is reported to have 100,000 majestically in a nearby grove of Konrai
“Our Hindu forefathers suffered greatly here—some were even killed. But they never allowed active priests around the globe. Yet it is in (Golden Shower) trees. And a six-faced,
themselves to be converted. They had no access to education. Yet they survived and rose in dig- Mauritius that many insiders consider the or- twelve-armed Lord Murugan faces the
nity and respect. They got their children educated. They built temples. These were great peo- ganization to be most vibrant and effective. ocean where the river and the sea meet.

h i n d u i s i m t o d ay
ple and we should follow their example. Now we are facing difficult times, but our saints tell us On March 5, 2000, when the 125th anniver- During my short visit, I had the good for-
that when there is adharma, dharma gets established. Education is important. We must answer sary of the Arya Samaj was cerebrated on the tune to attend the Ganesha Chaturthi festi-
the questions that today’s Hindu youth are asking: ‘Why do we light the lamp? Why do we ring island, more than 165 havans (fire rituals) val at the Spiritual Park. Thousands of Hin-
the bell? What happens during puja? Why do we prostrate?’ Knowledge is power. If we can bring were performed. Six thousand people were du men, women and children dressed in the
forward the knowledge of our great tradition, we will be more like our forefathers—strong and expected. Fifteen thousand showed up. With most elegant Hindu attire attended the col-
united in the face of opposition. Today’s youth can be divided into two groups. One is going away at least 450 branches—and each of those di- orful function. Hundreds of women carry-
from Hindu culture and the other is coming toward it. Those who are going away are complain- vided into more districts—the Arya Samaj A memorable meeting: Swami Krishnanan- ing little wooden baskets filled with flowers
ing that they are not getting proper answers to their questions. They are smart. When they ask seeks to unite Hindus primarily through the da (right) at age 92 chats with the late Sat- and offerings moved quietly and patiently in
questions, they expect intelligent answers. We need to pay attention to this.” performance of havan. guru Subramuniyaswami, publisher of queue towards the havan platform. Even in
Sarita Boodhoo, Managing Director of Jan Vani, a Hindi weekly published in Mauritius The Swami Lakshmanacharya Vishwa Hinduism Today, in Mauritius in 1992 India such disciplined worship is not often

22 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 23
seen. The whole Park was tastefully this amorphous fascination, but— on his brakes, he greeted me most enthusi- economy is booming like never before, and nalized enjoyments. Politicians seeking per-
decorated with flowers. The air was more often than their parents—ex- astically. “Ram Ram,” he blurted out with al- life in general for all Mauritians has unques- sonal gain often purposely complicate the
full of Indian fragrances. And dur- press an intelligent thirst for a most childlike joy. “My name is Sri Darshan tionably never been better. innately benign purity of the island’s Hindu
ing the culmination of the main greater knowledge of their Hindu Dukhi.” He wanted to show me his Hindi Outward appearances would seem to in- worship by aggravating ethnic divisions.
Ganesha ceremony, thousands stood heritage. In this interesting juxta- Pathshala (school) just across the way. It was dicate that all is also well with the island’s And a handful of fanatical Hindus deliber-
with eyes closed and hands palm to position of two very different gener- a small, humble building with very little fur- Hindus. The elderly still recall how their an- ately antagonize the fabric of Hindu unity
palm in worship, fervently striving ations forced to coexist amid such niture and poor lighting. Inside a class was cestors, living as indentured servants in very by stressing vernacular language rather than
to merge their minds with the one- rapidly changing times, I could not in progress. Small children were reciting the hard times, were not even allowed to wor- religious practice as being the essence of
ness of all. It was a breathtaking and help but wonder about the future of Gayatri Mantra and other Sanskrit verses ship. Now, such worship is a source of great Hindu life.
mesmerizing scene. this faith of ours so apparently inde- sacred to Hindus. Somehow in that moment pride and inspiration for the entire island. Yet none of this is specific to Mauritius
h i n d u i s m t o d ay structible. I knew the future of our children and our Certainly, this is more than a modest im- alone. Hinduism in India faces these same
The Youth and Our Future It was with such thoughts that I religion was secure. provement. challenges and more. Hinduism in history
For the older Hindus of Mauritius, was leisurely strolling down a lovely On this magic island of elegant resorts and Yet, it must be acknowledged that today’s has survived far worse. For the world’s old-
India and its timeless mystic allure lane in the most picturesque village idyllic beaches, the rich and famous from Mauritian Hindus must deal with challenges est religion, often described as a vast ocean,
has a sort of indefinable charm, a of Triolet one sunny afternoon around the world lounge in luxury at hotels their great, great grandparents never such difficulties seem as but shoreline
“something” which they cannot The Spiritual Park: A pilgrimage destination center on the when suddenly I was hailed by a like the Marina Village, Villas Pointe aux dreamed of. Western culture continues to tides—sometimes high, sometimes low, but
seem to easily explain—or want to. northeastern coast of Mauritius features a nine-foot, five young Hindi school teacher just Roches, Domaine du Chasseur, Le Touess- entice the youth away from principled living never deep or devastating. ∏π
Their children do not seem to share faced Ganesha Deity in a wooden Kerala-style pavilion gliding by on his bicycle. Slamming rok, Lapirogue and Le Grand Gaube. The with mind-boggling technology and exter- With Rajen Manick in Mauritius

Everyone is Religious How does Hinduism in Mauritius compare with Hinduism in India?
The Hindus of Mauritius are more devoted. You see temples every-
where. Here at this center we perform worship ceremonies, teach
Knowing the Self Swami Pranavananda Saraswati. Swami talked with HINDUISM TO-
DAYrecently about the Self, the world and the work to be done.

meditation and provide discourses. During Sivaratri 14 to 15 thou- What do you do at this center?
And the youth are leading the way sand people will visit us over a period of seven days. All the people
There is only one problem: Ignorance Our activities here continue to focus upon imparting the knowl-
of all the faiths here in Mauritius are constantly striving to learn edge of Vedanta. I give lectures based on religious scripture, but
and grow according to their capacity. And what they learn, they my main focus is on the children. All festivals are celebrated here
For sixty years the Ramakrishna Mission of Vacoas, Mauritius, has practice. Hindus go to temple on Thursdays. Marriages take place as well. Our temple is called the Vidya Nilayam, which means the
inspired local Hindus with tireless service and the teachings of Sri on weekends. Fridays are for Muslims to visit their mosques. The work and mission of Swami Temple of Wisdom. Our last function was attended by over 2,000
Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Swami Ghanananda pio- Christians go to church on Sundays. Everyone is religious. Chinmayananda, which has contin- people. We also have branches that operate from within the homes
neered the Mission on the island in 1939. Striving to integrate so- ued to grow worldwide since his pass- of our devotees.
cial service and religious teaching, he set up an orphanage in Va- Are the Hindu youth interested in learning more about Hinduism? ing in 1993, has had a significant ef-
coas and a free medical dispensary in Port Louis at a time when It is very inspiring to see just how much they want to learn. They fect throughout Mauritius. Swami How have these changing times effecting the stability of Hinduism
such facilities were almost nonexistent. He also gave clothes and have such a great respect for the temple Deities. Ramakrishna and originally founded the Chinmaya In- in Mauritius and what can people like you do to help?
money to the needy, helped victims of cyclones rebuild their homes Vivekananda would be most pleased. A wonderful group of about ternational Foundation [CIF] to fos- Hinduism is fine in Mauritius because of the temples and the
and established secular education for all age groups. 25 young people come here on Sundays to clean the ashram. This ter the study of the Sanskrit language, swamis here and there. As far as “changing times” are concerned,

vel kadressen
In more recent times such intensive relief work has not been as place looks beautiful because of them. The biggest problem today’s ancient Hindu scripture and compar- times change. People change. We sadhus accept this. It must be.
necessary, enabling the Ramakrishna Mission of Mauritius to focus youth have here in Mauritius is choosing where to go. There are so ative religion and philosophy. His All of these “world problems” are never coming from outside, as it
more intently upon spiritual teaching. Today, scriptural classes and many centers. For the youth that come to us, we provide Sanskrit many centers around the world are may seem. They are coming from within us, for there is really only
worship services are conducted weekly, satsangs occur monthly, and yoga classes, as well as essay and debate competition. We get also famous for their community ser- one problem. That one problem is ignorance—not knowing the true
well attended spiritual retreats are organized several times a year six to seven hundred young people coming in for all of this. There vice. In Vacoas, Mauritius, the Chin- Self. We all know a lot about what is going on outside, and we say
and religious discourses are constantly being given by the ashram’s is such a great demand that we have to restrict the number. Resident swami: Swami maya Mission is currently under the almost without thinking, “It’s going from bad to worse.” But we
resident swami all over the island. Swami Krishnaroopananda, cur- Pranavananda Saraswati able leadership of highly respected don’t know the true Self.
rently in charge, talked with Hinduism Today on the work of the What do you see for the future of Hinduism in Mauritius?
Mission, the youth and realizing God. When one becomes happy and content, development stops. I cannot What is your message to the
say we are happy or content, and this is Hindus of the world?
good. We are developing. Throughout the The Hindus of the world should not
world, we are witnessing the growth of sci- forget their heritage. They should
ence and technology. From this we are get- not forget their dharma. True
ting many things. Yet along with all of this peace can only come from the
getting, there is some losing too. We fear eradication of ignorance. This is not
the loss of our purity. This is not just a just a problem for Hindus. It is a
Hindu problem. All sensible people are problem for everyone. This problem
concerned about this. of ignorance is universal.
I would like to add one other
What might Ramakrishna’s advice be thing. There is nothing wrong with
during these turbulent times? Hindus speaking different lan-
He would say now as he has always said, guages and worshiping different
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that the aim of human life is to realize Deities. In India, if you go to Tamil
h i n d u i s m t o d ay

God. The Vedas and Upanishads say this, Nadu, they speak Tamil. In Bom-
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too. But for this realization to occur, there bay, English. In Sitamarhi they
must be culture. We must preserve our Visionary and his mission: The temple at the Chinmayananda speak Hindi. Let it be. In all of our
culture and values so that we can contin- Mission in Mauritius is called the “Vidya Nilayam,” which means ashrams, all our swamis and brah-
The Ramakrishna legacy: (Left) Resident R.K. Mission monk, Swami Krishnaroopananda. ue to grow toward the realization of God. the Temple of Wisdom. (Inset) Founder Swami Chinmayananda. macharis speak only one language,
(Right) The exquisitely maintained Ramakrishna ashram and grounds in Vacoas. the language of Vedanta.

24 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 25

Luminous Lens
A stunning book of photographs focuses
on India’s diversity and bares its soul
By Tara Katir, Kauai, Hawaii
oday’s india is a mesmerizing blend of modern-day city excitement,
ancient village equanimity and multicultural tension. For those who have not
spent enough time in the “holy land of Bharat” to take it for granted, the country’s
kaleidoscopic diversity can be overwhelming. Lindsay Hebberd, an international-
ly acclaimed photographer and producer of educational photographic exhibitions,
helps synthesize India’s mishmash magic in her comprehensive book, Cultural Portraits
of India, (205 pages, Cultural Portraits Productions, Inc., USA 1998, us$65.00).
Originally assembled to commemorate India’s fiftieth anniversary of independence in
1998, the photos of Portraits, which represent over ten years of Hebberd’s life and pho-
tography in India, take the viewer on a extensive journey throughout the country while
focusing on seven themes—Independence, Landscapes, People, Daily Life, Religion, The
Arts and Architecture. Essays by Mira Kamdar provide descriptive commentary.
In India there are seven major religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Bud-
dhism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism—as well as a multitude of village faiths. There are 17
official languages and nearly 900 dialects. By the year 2020, Hebberd speculates, India will
surpass China as the most populated nation on Earth. Even now among its very dissimilar
population, every possible body height and shape, every conceivable skin and eye color can
be found represented somewhere. Certainly, the term “multicultural” was never more apt-
ly applied than to the people of India.
Capturing all this on film would be a challenge for any professional photographer, but
Hebberd does well even while including a visual feast of India’s environmental and geo-
graphical vastness. But it is her stunning photographs of ordinary people that allow us an
unguarded, intimate peek into the soul of Bharat. Marigold vendors standing knee deep
in flowers, a dignified Rajput gentleman proudly wearing his colorful turban, a laughing
girl decorating her family’s house for Dipavali—all these sweetly capture the sense of In-
dia’s timeless existence. From a simple
banyan tree adorned with flags and bells to
the lavish Golden Temple of Amritsar, the
lens of Hebberd captures, as a fact of life, In-
dia’s ingrained perspective that God is every-
where. Here in the holy land, it is difficult if
not impossible to separate the sacred from the
profane when such a deep spirituality so per-
meates even ordinary life. This is the elusive
spirit that Hebberd’s book so successfully em-
braces. More than a tribute, it is a sacramen-
tal testimony. Cultural Portraits of India is
available for sale only on line. Visit: www.cul-

A subject diverse: (left to right) Gadaba
women typically wear large hoop earrings;
17th century Dravidian architecture; a dou-
ble marriage in Maharashtra; Bonda woman
of Orissa wearing glass beads signifying sta-
tus; Hebberd’s book cover. (background) a
seventh century frieze in Mahabalipuram
showing the “descent of the Ganges.”

a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 27
People and places: (from left to right) Sixty yards of wall painting in Rajasthan; a girl enjoys hand painting on a wall in
Gujarat; a Toda couple from Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu; a Bhil woman from Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh wearing orna-
ments for spiritual protection, a Vaishnavite head priest reading the archaic Hasti Vidyanava script written on ancient
agar palm slates; a tomato vendor during a midday break in Mumbai (Bombay); the Amritsar “Golden temple” in Punjab;
a woman of the Gaddi tribe from Palampur in Himachal Pradesh; a cow painted red during the “festival of the cow” in
Karnataka; a man from the Bhil tribe in Western Madhya Pradesh

a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 29
sunil malhotra

First Dalit president: In 1997 K. R. Narayanan (right) became India’s tenth president
and the first “untouchable,” succeeding Shankar Dayal Sharma (left), a brahmin


Education, economics and protest drive changes
and reform to India’s ancient societal divisions

Caste in
agence france press

aste is not a pleasant topic
unity to Hindu believers worldwide.
Origins: The standard explanations of In-
of Hinduism Today, wrote, “The original
caste system had these four divisions. The
happens all over the world—that’s the shu-
dra caste. We have the merchants, who are
there are thousands of them, segregated ac-
cording to occupational, sectarian, regional
Marching as one: Women of various castes
carry offerings for a 12-day religious cere-
for Hindus, and in the internation- dia’s caste system are based on the now dis- divisions were all based on the ability of the self-motivated. That’s the vaishya caste. We and linguistic distinctions. “The operative mony for world peace in Bhopal, India,
al arena today, it has elicited a credited “Aryan Invasion” theory of ancient individual to manage his body, his mind and have the politicians and the lawmakers and unit even today for social and marriage pur- November 11, 2002
shame upon the Hindu religion. I India. We await new speculations from the his emotions properly. If he stopped fulfill- the law-enforcement people. That’s the poses is not caste but jati. You talk of brah-
have written this article to initiate historians and anthropologists. Suffice it to ing the dharma of his caste, society would kshatriya caste. And then you have the mins as a caste, which is pan-Indian, but the Kishwar points out the advantages of the
dialogue within our community. say that many ancient societies had heredi- recognize that he had moved from one caste priests, the ministers, the missionaries. fact is that a Tamilian brahmin would rarely jati system: “It allows even the most disad-
The negative issues associated tary classes of people, eventually lost in so- and was now in another. The original caste That’s the brahmin caste. Every society has have a marriage alliance with a Punjabi vantaged and impoverished groups to identi-
with caste will not go away, but will only cial upheaval. The modern term caste is de- system was based on self-discipline through these four castes working within it in one brahmin,” stated Madhu Kishwar, editor of fy themselves and a political assertion based
tear at the credibility of the religion. I am rived from the Portuguese casta, alluding to education and through personal sadhana. way or another.” Manushi magazine and one of India’s fore- on their numerical strength. It has kept
not suggesting the abolishment of Hinduism family, tribe or race, and was introduced The original caste system was based on the Jati and its advantages: Today, most Hin- most women’s rights advocates. “They are as democracy not just alive, but has given it
or of Hindu texts or the defamation of those into Indian society in the late 16th century. unfoldment of the consciousness within dus do not abide by the chatur varna (four far apart from each other culturally as could very deep roots. I think all these modernists
in the upper castes. Rather, I write out of The Hindu religious texts describe varna each individual through the chakras. People caste) system but classify themselves accord- possibly be. It’s really not the operative and, attacking caste can’t understand the survival
reverence for Hinduism itself, to initiate ashrama dharma, the religious/social law everywhere naturally divide themselves up ing to the more specific colloquial form of yet, we have the whole notion of brahmin strategy of the subcontinent. For example, it
change, to affirm the positive aspects of delineating duties of four castes. Gurudeva, into castes. We have the workers. You go to caste known as the jati system. Jati are hori- domination, brahmins as a caste, whereas has provided social security for a rural mi-
Hinduism and to bring a spiritual sense of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder work, you work under somebody else—that zontal divisions within the four castes, and the regional differences matter much more.” grant when he or she comes to the city as an

30 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 31
selves as politically empowered and mobi- rights or the return of land that had been of documented cases, for example, the rape
lized nationwide. “The word itself implies taken from them, punishment would be of a 12-year-old Dalit girl by a man of the
the need to revolt, the need to identify one’s meted out against their entire community,” Thevar caste in Tamil Nadu was covered up
oppressions, and then the need to act Narula said. “Or if somebody drew water by the Thevar community via blackmail and
against it,” said Narula. Today, Dalits repre- from an upper-caste well, that they were not kickbacks.
sent over 16 percent of India’s population of supposed to touch even though it was a pub- Origin of untouchability: In a religion that
over 160 million. lic well, their entire village would be burned preaches the all-pervasiveness of God, how
After being approached over several years down.” did untouchability even come to be? Mahat-
to monitor the issue, Human Rights Watch Protective legislation has been enacted, ma Gandhi called it a product of “sheer ig-
embarked on a deep investigation of the sys- but is slow to be enforced. For example, the norance and cruelty.” “The scheduled tribes
temic human rights abuses against the Dalit 1989 Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and scheduled castes in India—this is the
community across six different states of In- (Prevention of Atrocities Act), offered pro- biggest problem that we have,” said Swami
dia. “We realized that we needed to look not tection for untouchables and allowed for re- Brahmavidyananda. “This is man’s creation.”
only at the outward manifestations of vio- muneration in cases of violent acts against Explanations also include the “unclean” oc-
lence but also at the roots of why things them. But police corruption, lack of strong cupations of the untouchables and the eating
were happening, and the roots were both law enforcement and political unwillingness of meat.
large-scale segregation and economic ex- have rendered the law almost useless. Swami Tathagatananda of the Vedanta
ploitation,” Narula said. The Dalit human rights movements have Center of New York believes that the devel-
Social stratification has forced the physi- been subjected to a variety of violent acts, as opment of untouchability through Hindu
cal separation of untouchables from the rest stated in Broken People, the published cul- history is a result of some basic human ten-
of Hindu society in much the same way mination of Human Rights Watch’s investi- dency, and has nothing to do with Hinduism
kamal kishore

Blacks were forceably kept apart in America gations (available at itself. “America is a democratic country, but
40 years ago or in South Africa ten years 1999/india/). It is the most comprehensive democracy is not practiced all of the time,”
back. They are not allowed to live within the NGO documentation of human rights viola- he points out. “Good Hindus, like Mahatma
boundary lines of casted Hindu society and, tions against Dalits. In addition to several Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and others,
instead, subsist on separate lands, drinking massacres of Dalits in the 1990s, upper did not believe in untouchability, but re-
Demanding their rights: A Dalit, or “untouchable,” shouts slogans at a Dalit rally in Delhi, November 4, 2001. Thousands of Dalit Hindus from separate wells. “We found that in cases, caste men are accused of ongoing cases of gardless of their beliefs or convictions or vo-
embraced Buddhism during that huge mass conversion ceremony in the heart of the city. Dalit literally means “ broken people.” for example, when Dalits demanded land rape against dalit women. Out of hundreds cations against it, they were not able to re-

impoverished economic refugee.” people and poor people, superior people economically based and, therefore, have the
Kishwar’s points are valid. There are cer- and inferior people,” states Swami Brah- capacity to change as culture changes
tain advantages to the caste system with re- mavidyananda of the Institute of Holistic [though slowly—see sidebar, page 33]. The
gard to communal pride and access to polit- Yoga of North America.
ical power. But what about those at the
inequalities associated with the Hindu caste
According to Smita Narula, Director of system are more complex, mainly with re-
bottom, the untouchable Dalits? On Novem- the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, gard to its undeniable roots in scripture and
Untouchability, American Style
ber 4, 2001, the conversion of several thou- the difference between class and caste is to the shameful existence of the untouch- merica’s version of the population, make up 50
sand Dalits to Buddhism gained worldwide “that being born into a particular caste in- ables. Other religions receive bad press due untouchability is the percent of the prison inmates,
attention. “I am walking out of Hinduism vites a certain amount of restrictions on to patriarchal constraints of women, for ex- still-existent racial dis- and get stiffer sentences.
because the 3,000-year-old caste system will your basic freedoms, your basic rights. So it ample, but Hinduism is the only religion to crimination against While overall segregation has
never allow me any respect or dignity,” stat- is the combination of work and descent- be bombarded with issues of race, intolera- African-Americans. The decreased in America, it re-
ed the organizer of the event, Ram Raj, who based discrimination that makes caste dif- ble human rights violations among its own slaves were freed by Abraham mains very high in the major
dropped his first name upon conversion. ferent from the class system. There’s very lit- believers and inequality on such a grand Lincoln in 1863 and made cities, such as New York, De-
Caste and class discrimination: As a Hin- tle mobility.” scale. citizens of the US in 1868. troit and Chicago. There
du, you might wonder: Is this really a fair Class divisions are mostly culturally and The untouchables: Although untouchabil- But upon the reconstruction white people have fled to the
portrayal of Hinduism? Is the ity was abolished under Article 17 of the former Southern slave suburbs, leaving Black and
caste system so unique to Hindu of the Indian Constitution in states by 1877, local govern- now Hispanic students in

© bettmann/corbis
society? And is it really that bad? 1950, it is still widely practiced all ment policies of segregation typically inferior schools. The
It cannot be denied that all coun- over India today. The untouch- went into full effect. Blacks interracial marriage rate is a
tries have experienced, or are ex- ables or “scheduled castes and lived in certain areas of town, mere four percent.
periencing, some form of caste. scheduled tribes” (as they are list- had different schools, hotels, On the plus side, President
For example, modern-day Britain ed by name on government sched- beauty salons, drinking foun- Bush has the most racially
supports strong class divisions on ules) are not associated with any tains and public toilets. The diverse cabinet in history.
the basis of economics. Recently caste mentioned in the original US military had separate Both his Secretary of State
Laura Spence, a student of the chatur varna Hindu system. units for Black soldiers. There Segregation, America: Through the 1950s, whites and coloreds and National Security Advi-
lower social economic class, was Rather, untouchables are outcastes were no Black baseball or drank from separate drinking fountains throughout the South sor are Black. Most Ameri-
not admitted into upper-crust Ox- placed below the sudra caste. The basketball players in the ma- cans don’t tolerate racist atti-
ford, despite her extraordinary untouchable sect of Hinduism is jor leagues. Some of the great- equal” on the issue of segre- come? Still today, Blacks are tudes too well anymore. Just
academic qualifications. Harvard relegated to labor that no other est athletes of the time were gated schooling. Desegrega- twice as likely to be unem- ask Senator Trent Lott. He
University gladly admitted her, caste will perform, such as the relegated to the American tion of the South began in ployed, and when they do was unceremoniously
on a full scholarship. cleaning of latrines, scavenging Negro league. earnest with the civil rights have a job, they earn 70 cents dumped by his own party as
a r k o d at ta

Hierarchical divisions on the dead animals and funeral duties. The military led the way in movement led by Martin to the white man’s one dollar Senate Majority Leader, one
basis of race and economics are In the 1970s with the revolu- integration, beginning in Luther King, employing the for the same work. The typi- of the nation’s most powerful
part and parcel of the American tionary activities of the Dalit Pan- 1940. In 1954, the US Su- methods of Mahatma Gandhi cal Black family’s net worth is positions, for informal
experience as well. “In America, thers in Maharastra, untouchables preme Court ruled “separate [see page 56]. an eighth of the typical white remarks taken as an endorse-
we have caste. There are black Segregation, India: High-caste and low-caste Hindus take water assumed the name Dalit, or “bro- but equal was inherently un- How far has America family’s. Blacks, 14 percent of ment of racial segregation.
people and white people, rich from separate ghats in Bawarala in Rajasthan State ken people,” to represent them-

32 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 33
Education: Dalits Abishek and Sanjay are no longer meek and subdued. They have discovered their self
welcomed by their 75-year-old grandmoth-
er Dhanvati as they return from a private
school in Seer, Uttar Pradesh. Their educa-
Caste as a Fact of respect and prestige, and had a small taste of political clout.
Mayawati, of the Dalit community, is the current Chief Minister of
Uttar Pradesh, one of the biggest states of India. She projects her-
tion may alleviate many disadvantages of
their caste status.

that God belongs to everyone, God does not
Life in India self as a leader from the lower caste, proud of her roots and identi-
ty. Then there are national leaders, such as Ram Vilas Paswan, who
have also helped the Dalits to be proud of their community. We
had a Dalit president, which enormously boosted the morale of the
feel color or sex, or whether you are white or lower castes in this country.
black.” Economics bends the ancient system The second significant factor is the reservation policy of the
Most activists fighting for Dalits are not government. The reservation policy is India’s version of affirmative
fighting to dismantle Hinduism—though action, providing education and employment opportunities for
some are—but to demand accountability BY RAJIV MALIK disadvantaged communities. A government job is a matter of pres-
from the Indian government to uphold exist- tige. In India, jobs are reserved, even promotions are given, to
ing laws, such as the constitutional abolish- s deeply embedded in the psyche of hindus as those of lower castes on a preferential basis. Government jobs and
ment of untouchability and the Prevention caste is, there has been a revolutionary change in the situa- high government posts have boosted the morale and prestige of the
of Atrocities Act (1989). Narula states: “The tion at the grassroot level in the past few decades. This lower caste masses. Lower caste people who thus became success-
Dalit movement is also asking for the inter- positive development is more visible and has taken place in ful economically have been welcomed by the middle class Hindus
national community to work hand in hand a big way in India’s metropolitan cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai and in matrimonial alliances. Times have truly changed in India when
with the Indian government and with Kolkata. These cities have developed a unique culture and charac- affluence trumps caste affiliation.
NGOs in India to insure enforcement of the ter of their own in which the question of caste is generally relegat- Unfortunately, the situation has not changed much in the vil-
laws that are already in place to take care of ed to the background. The fast lifestyle, materialism and pressure lages, where long-practiced caste-based system and infrastructure
issues such as violence, rape, scavenging, of living in big cities are factors which leave little patience for peo- flourish. There is a little improvement being made in the villages

reuters photo archive
bonded labor and other issues.” Higher gov- ple to watch the whole scenario through the glasses of caste. In and small towns, but they are far behind the big cities. Caste in
ernment representation for Dalits is needed these cosmopolitan cities there is a free intermingling and interac- the village continues to play an major role in arranging marriages.
to bring visibility to their issues. tion between the masses of different castes and religions which Now in the cities, and increasingly in the villages, if the choice is
Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s highest ranking fe- allows people to think and live beyond the barriers of caste. Eco- between a high-caste poor groom and a low-caste rich groom, the
male police officer, said, “The largest deter- nomic interests, not castism, reign supreme in these cities. father of the bride, and the bride herself, will consider the well
rents are the local politicians who use and My personal assessment is that in the cities it is the upper and settled, economically well-off lower-caste person very seriously.
abuse the situations for narrow political lower economic strata of the Hindu society who are most caste Similarly, if the choice is between a higher caste girl who is not
gain.” Bedi points out that Dalit leaders conscious. The upper stratum is so because they can choose to live likely to work outside the home and a lower caste girl working as a
themselves need to unite in their views. the way they want. The lower stratum is entangled in the caste government official who has status and money both, the boy and
move it. Suppose the American government the jati system, more specifically, is perva- Swami Brahmavidyananda said, “India to- system because they have to live in the slum areas where caste his father definitely consider the proposal of the lower caste girl
wants to abolish drugs. Just because we sive, cutting across religions, cultures and day is not the India of 50 years ago. People consciousness remains stronger. The real revolution has come in very seriously.
make a law, you cannot abolish drugs. There national identities both in South Asia and its want to change. In order to protect our reli- the middle class of India where there is a phenomenal change in I am not an expert on the extremely complex caste system, but
are many laws, but who is obeying the laws? diaspora, according to Kishwar. All of the re- gion, our system, we should reorganize prop- the outlook towards the caste system. It is the middle class which is offer my views as an engaged observer within India’s middle class.
The division of all society is always based on ligions practiced within the South Asian erly and slowly. We should pass out right in- intermingling with all sections and castes of the society, working
color, on gender and on money or educa- subcontinent reflect this very same caste formation and correct these issues.” The rise together in offices, industries, business and government. It is the Rajiv Malik is Hinduism Today’s Delhi correspondent
tion.” system, especially with regard to untoucha- in interfaith and intercaste marriages has girls and boys of the Hindu middle class who take part in inter-
Gurudeva noted boldly, “Caste—or at least bility. Those who convert from Hinduism forced families to overlook issues of caste, to caste and interreligious marriages in a big way. Four castes: (left to right) The four traditional castes, or classes, of
discrimination on the basis of caste—has into Christianity, Buddhism and Islam still learn to live with one another equally. Two other factors are noteworthy in the context of caste-ridden Hindu society are: workers, who are employed by others; business-
been thrown out of the laws of India, but face discrimination on the basis of caste. Gurudeva summarized: “We can see Hindu society in India. One is that lately—in the past two decades men, who work for themselves and hire employees; soldiers, police-
people still hang on to it as an ego structure. There are separate churches in South India around us the deterioration of the system or so—the political system has produced over two dozen well- men and all who guard and protect neighborhoods and the nation
The high caste people love to hurt the low for brahmin converts and Dalit converts. which has been abused beyond the point of known national and scores of state level leaders from the lower with mind or bodies; and priests, who conduct worship, teach and
caste people, so to speak, by ignoring them, The Dalits are also rendered more vulnera- recognition. Members of the brahmin caste castes. Due to these leaders, the lower castes and Dalits are now are advisors to the political leaders
treating them roughly. That’s not the way it ble to violence from the upper castes, as are now beating their children, abusing
should be. If you find the high caste people they lose their right to protection under the their wives. Members of the kshatriya caste
in your society ignoring and not wanting to 1989 Scheduled Castes and Scheduled disrespect the laws of the land. Members of
speak with and associate with the lower Tribes Act when they change religion. the business caste are deceptive and dishon-
castes, those are nasty people, and those are Caste proves to be a troubling factor for est. All are confused, living in anger and in
people you should avoid. Spiritual people, the younger generation of Hindus in the di- jealousy. No wonder their families break
even ordinary kindly people, would never aspora. An anonymous contributor from the apart and their businesses fail. In the eyes of

dinodia picture agency/milind a ketkar
think of behaving that way.” US notes: “I am not a brahmin but have the Gods, most of those who adhere to the
Swami Tathagatananda concurs, “What brahmin friends who do, from time to time, caste system that exists today are low caste.
you are seeing today is the hardened sys- bring up their spiritual and intellectual su- This is because they live in lower conscious-
tem which has misinterpreted the main periority to me, in very subtle ways. This re- ness. These undeveloped humans are strug-
points of division of labor. This hereditary ally undercuts our friendships and is pretty gling through the lower chakras, trying to
business was not there originally. Hindu ridiculous, since I have demonstrated equal- get out of the dark worlds of the mind. Let
dinodia picture agency

dinodia picture agency
people have perpetuated this system in or- ly, if not more, spiritual and intellectual su- us not be deluded about what the sapta
der to enjoy the benefit of the status.” Swami periority than they have.” rishis [the “seven sages”] had in mind when
Brahmavidyananda said, “The caste system Toward a solution: Swami Brahmavidya- they casted humans according to the soul’s
is in one way good, but in another way nanda suggests, “We have to reinterpret spiritual unfoldment. We should totally ig-

mike brygider
harmful. When the ego bonds with igno- problematic texts and set a good example in nore the Hindu caste system as lived in In-
rance, then it brings harm to society.” our society. We should not disrespect our dia today and, through example, show a bet-
Other religions and regions: Caste is by no culture, but we should condemn those who ter and more wholesome path for modern
means only a Hindu issue. Today, caste, or are not properly versed in the philosophy society.” ∏π

34 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 35
p h o t o s © t h o m a s l . k e l ly
N E PA L A N D B I H A R festival when I lived at Janakpur. Last year, her sons can pass their examinations. A Thanking the Sun: (left to right) Elaborate
2001, after living in Kathmandu for thirty fourth, Kalabati, said, “I pray to the Sun God offerings for the Sun are gathered by each
years, I went to Janakpur for the express to cure my skin disease.” family and set along the lake bank while

Cherishing the Sun purpose of attending the festival, for the first
time since I left.
“At Janakpur, with its small lakes, Chaith
festival is celebrated in the most magnificent
way. My wife, Usha, and I agreed to pay
homage to the Sun God in the evening. But
“At the time I was interviewing the above
devotees,” Dr. Jha reminisced, “I remem-
bered how I was once made to go for beg-
ging in some families during my childhood
before the Chaith. Alms collected by me
were offered to Chaith Parmeshwori, the
women standing in the cold water worship
the setting Sun; this man is bringing the of-
ferings back to shore after his wife (in back)
has presented them to the Sun; children
light lamps and offer them to Rama and
Sita as part of an all-night vigil until the fi-
Hindus of Nepal and Northeast India every fall honor the setting and rising we chose different routes to cover these Shakti, or power, of the Sun God. The reason nal worship of the rising Sun on the festi-
ponds. Since my ancestral house is close to I was made to beg was that my parents val’s last day.
Sun with fasts, devotion and celebration during the four-day Chaith festival Rukminisar, I first went there. The scene prayed to the Sun God before my birth that
was most delightful. I met many of my they would offer Him the alms collected by davas, was blessed with her first son, Karna,
neighbors celebrating the festival. Then, I me if they had a son. So after I was born as after worshiping the Sun God. The Agni
B Y D R . H ARI B ANSH J HA , N EPAL after Deepavali, the Festival of Lights. Sita, wife of Lord Rama. Dr. Jha reports, “As moved to Birrahi. And from there I moved eleventh child of my parents, I was made to Purana states that the Pandavas observed
A ND G ITANJALI C HAK , I NDIA In Terai, Chaith is celebrated with great I hail from the Terai region of Nepal and es- onwards to Argaja and Dhanushsagar. At the fulfill the promise. Likewise, my eldest sister Chaith when they returned from their four-
here is hardly any family in any enthusiasm at Janakpur, Birgunj, Rajbiraj pecially from Janakpur, I have had occasions end, I visited Gangasagar where the festival offers blessed food to the Sun God each year, teen-year exile. The Ramayana recounts the
village in the Terai region of Nepal and Biratnagar. It is also celebrated in Kath- to see this festival ever since my childhood. decorations were most colorful. Having as she pledged to do so if she had a brother.” festival’s observance by Queen Kaushalya,
and the adjacent Indian state of Bihar mandu along the banks of the Bagmati and The Hindus, irrespective of castes and reached Gangasagar, I made circumambula- Devotees believe that the setting Sun mother of Lord Rama.
which does not observe the Chaith fes- Manahara rivers. But among all these places creeds, celebrate the Chaith festival. Each tion to the pond and prayed to the Sun God symbolizes the outgoing forces, while the In the Chaith festival, devotees take extra
tival in honor of the setting Sun. Ex- in Nepal, it is in Janakpur, the capital city of family, from brahmins to Doms (“untouch- for my prosperity.” rising Sun is the harbinger of incoming ones. precaution to see that all items used in the
tending over four days, the festival is an oc- the ancient Mithila State, where Chaith is ables”), observes this function. As an excep- Dr. Jha asked one devotee, Rupkala, why The festival is quite ancient, with references worship of the Sun God are pure. Every ef-
casion to express gratitude to the Sun for observed most fervently. In India, especial- tion, this festival is not celebrated in my she celebrates the Chaith festival. She said found to it in the Rig Veda. It is mentioned fort is made to keep the food, utensils and
bestowing the bounties of life on Earth, and ly at Patna, the capital city of Bihar, tens of family. I do not know why, but there is a cus- she did it for curing the disease of her hus- in the Surya Purana that Anusuya, the wife other objects used in the worship pure and
also for fulfilling individual’s wishes. The thousands turn out each year to make offer- tom here that if something inauspicious hap- band who has paralysis. Another devotee, of Atri, performed the Chaith festival on the sacred. It is believed that any leniency might
word chaith means “six,” as the festival be- ings along the banks of the Ganga. pens to a family on a particular festival day, Sita, said she attended the festival desiring sixth day of the lunar calendar in Katrik. invite misfortune.
gins on the sixth day (shasthi) of the lunar Janakpur, located about 400 kilometers thenceforth the family does not observe that to get a son. A third devotee, Bhagirathi, The festival possibly figures in the Maha- Chaith is special for women. Those who
month of Kartik, October/November, shortly southeast of Kathmandu, is the birthplace of day. Even so, I never missed watching this replied that she worships the Sun God so bharata when Kunti, the mother of the Pan- wish to make the offering to the Sun God on

36 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 37
Women’s offerings: (left) Dressed in elegant
new saris, standing waist-deep in a lake, a
large trident drawn in vermillion on their
foreheads, several vratis, “vow takers,” of-
fer their abundant gifts to the Sun God,

the evening of the sixth day of Kartik and
morning of the seventh prepare themselves
with rigorous penance. They begin two days
earlier by going to the river, lake or well to
take a holy bath. They eat only pure, sattvic,
food. The next day, called kharna, the
women fast during the day and in the
evening have some rice pudding which has
been offered to the Sun God. This sanctified
dish is also distributed among the family
members, particularly to those who do not
follow this festival. On the sixth day, the
women devotees observe total fast during
the day and night. They don’t even take wa-
ter, let alone fruits or any other item. They
engage themselves in preparing naivedyam,
food offerings, for the Sun God comprised of

p h o t o s © t h o m a s l . k e l ly
ripe banana, sugarcane, bhuswa (a prepara-
tion of rice flour and ghee), and thaku-
wa/khajuri (a fried sweet made of wheat
flour). Also offered to the Sun God are co-
conut, radish, ginger and cereal grains, in-
cluding gram. Devotees of means prepare
lavish offerings, while the poor may even go
to the extent of begging to collect funds to
perform the festival in a proper style.
All these items prepared for the Sun God
are taken to the riverside or the lake before
sunset on the sixth day on new bamboo
trays. The sites where the offerings are
made are cleaned before the family mem-
bers go to worship. Women sing devotional
songs on this special occasion in praise of Fraiser, Ram Naresh Tripathi and Krishna earthen lamps and containers full of offer- Janaki Temple: (above) This palace-like
the Sun God. Devotees who make the offer- Deo Upadyay all refer to Chaith songs.” ings are placed under a canopy of sugar temple marks the birthplace of Sita, wife of
ings enter the water in new clothes and then The first days of observance in Bihar are cane stalks, after which Agni, the Fire God, Lord Rama; (below) the temple’s central
present the naivedyam to the setting Sun much the same as in Nepal, with the second is worshiped. On the final day of the festivi- sanctum contains the icons of Sita and
first. After the offerings are made, most day’s fast being broken late evening after ties, devotees move to the riverbank where Lord Rama, plus other Gods and sages
families take all the offerings back to their performing worship at home. The
homes for safekeeping, others stay and offerings, araghya, typically rice, seventeen Sun temples in Bihar, Deo
guard them on the river bank or lakeside. thekua (deep-fried puffs of wheat in Aurangabad and Baragaon near Na-
Following the final offering to the Sun God flour), grapefruit, bananas, co- landa are the ones that are most active
in the morning, the naivedyam is distrib- conuts and grains of lentils, are during Chaith.
uted among as many people as possible. distributed among family and vis- “In Nepal,” concludes Dr. Jha, “the
The festival is much the same in Bihar, re- iting friends and relatives. These Chaith festival is important to main-
ports Gitanjali Chak, “The popular belief is items are contained in small, semi- tain social harmony. People from all
that all the desires of the devotees are ful- circular pans woven out of bam- walks of life and of all ages flock to-
filled during Chaith. There is also a strong boo strips, called dalas. The third gether to celebrate this festival. The
belief that any misdeed performed during day of the festival (that is, the sixth haves celebrate the festival with great
Chaith will be severely punished. Thus day of Kartik) is spent preparing pomp and show; but it is not so diffi-
peace generally prevails during this time, as the offerings at home during the cult even for the have-nots to cele-
even the criminals prefer to abstain from day. In the evening the devotees brate. During my tour to Janakpur last
evil doings. Every year loud devotional mu- move to the bank of the Ganga in year I saw a lot of change in the man-
sic heralds the festival’s arrival. These spe- large milling crowds. All streets ner people celebrated from my child-
cial songs for the festival are an integral part leading to the holy river are deco- hood. One difference is the population
of the celebrations and have attracted study rated with colorful festoons and banners.” offerings are made to the rising Sun this pressure. Earlier, comparatively few families
by classical scholars of India and abroad. “Once there,” she continues, “the offerings time. As this ritual draws to a close, there is celebrated the festival, and there was no
Even in the pre-Independence era, Euro- are made to the setting Sun. At nightfall, the joyous celebration, with merry-making all rush on this occasion. Increased decorations
pean linguists and literary critics praised devotees, along with family and friends, re- around. The devotees then break their fast and the use of firecrackers is much in evi-
these songs. The literary works of Sir turn home where another colorful celebra- and the rich offerings are given out to all the dence. It was my feeling that the people’s de-
George Grierson, William Crooke, Huge tion is held. Clay elephants containing people around.” Though there are a total of votion to the Sun God has increased.” ∏π

38 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 39
Time Tested Tips that such pursuits are just not for
them. Others claim there is some-
thing wrong with their mantra or
the body—like breathing and digestion—
must keep going. Although this can be dis-
concerting for a beginner, the experienced

On Meditation their method. Still others finally as-
sert that meditation is just not a wor-
thy activity. But if questioned they
meditator sits unwavering. After much prac-
tice, he finally begins to master concentra-
would all admit one thing: It’s not The mind in its natural state is steady.
After more than a century of easy! This natural state is not so far away. Look at
After sitting for some time in the little babies who with very little effort
practicing yoga, Swami Bua first attempts at meditation, young steady their attention on objects of attrac-
enthusiasts find that their minds be- tion for long periods of time. Animals do
affirms that contemplative gin to wander and they become dis- this, too. It is natural. However, modern-day
success is a result of tracted. Perhaps they fall sleep. man lives a very complicated life. His con-

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
When this seems to become a pat- centration does not become easily fixed on
consistent effort tern that may not improve, they be-
gin worrying and wondering, “Is this
any one thing for any length of time. He is
just too busy. Yet, there are moments when
working? Will it ever work? Am I he is completely absorbed. Perhaps a busi-
making progress?” They start talking ness problem demands his full attention—or
to friends who are trying to do the a family tragedy, or a crisis with a friend. At
same thing. “Do you still meditate?” they but a part. If such is the case, the obvious some point everyone in every stratum of life
An example for us all: Swami Bua ask. “Are you able to concentrate?” They purpose of meditation is to achieve the goal experiences a steady mind resulting from
(115), seated here at his Yoga conclude that although they were given of discovering this Master Mind. This is, in- focused attention. This focus of attention is
Vedanta Center in New York, some sort of technique—perhaps they spent deed, the purpose and goal of meditation the central theme of the Hindu religious dis-
attributes his long and healthy life a significant amount of money for it—they generally advocated by those who know. cipline called sadhana. Sadhana is the road
to the daily practice of yoga. needed something more. There is a saying in my native Tamil lan- to the discovery of the Master Mind.
Those that arrive at this point might be guage which translates roughly as follows: Well-trained yogis experience meditation
surprised to learn that they have actually “Without concentrated practice, nothing as a state of being. This state of being can
gotten off to a good start. They have realized tangible can be achieved.” Meditation is a only rise up of its own accord and in its own
that being still requires effort. This knowl- long-term practice. Stillness of mind in the timing—never by force. After we have made
edge is a distinct gain. Most ordinary people oneness of all is its crowning achievement. the effort of focusing our concentration in
would never have the opportunity to discov- We are less inclined to worry about the the consistent practice of sadhana, the deep
er even this much. unsteadiness of our concentration when we stillness of perfect meditation will be diffi-
Hundreds of years ago, one of India’s great realize that it is the nature of concentration cult to resist. No one can claim to teach
Tamil saints said, “It is easy to tame the to be unsteady. It might even seem at times meditation and certainly no one should sell
rogue elephant. It is easy to tie the mouth of that we do not possess a mind at all, but it like a commodity. It is not transferable in
a bear. It is easy to mount the back of a lion. rather that a mind possesses us. The mind, it this way. It is each individual’s personal state
It is easy to charm poisonous snakes. It is seems, has a mind of its own. Certain expe- of being himself. ∏π
easy to conquer the celestial and the nonce- riences just continue simultaneously
lestial realms. It is easy to trek the worlds in- without even asking our permission. Always respectful: (above) Swami Bua with Sat-
visible. It is easy to command the angelic A slight stomach ache. A small itch on guru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and (below) pro-
heavens. It is easy to retain youth eternally. It the forehead or near the armpit. A viding informal yoga instruction during a July,
is easy to enter the body of others. It is easy burp. Obviously, the life processes of 2002, travel/study program in Kauai, Hawaii
to walk on water and sit in burning
fire. It is easy to attain all of the sid-
dhis (yoga powers). But to remain

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
still is very, very difficult indeed.”
To those earnest souls seeking
the great stillness of yoga, I would
ask, “What is the purpose and goal
of meditation?” Without purpose
and goal, there can be no medita-
By Swami Bua, New York concentration and living in a calm state of tion, Chakra Meditation, Yantra Meditation, tion—or even concentration. Cer-
ven happy people often look mind while not dwelling on past or future. Tantra Meditation, Vajra Meditation. Even tainly, there is a deep soulful urge
for change in the ordinary routines One practice commonly advised to achieve as I am writing this article, the list keeps spurring us on, but that urge is
of their lives. Although they are du- this rare tranquility of mind and body is the growing with more and more innovative ti- usually so vague, so blurred in its
tifully consumed in the daily chal- daily repetition of mantras. But there are a tles. Some of these meditation techniques outline, so difficult to confine
lenges of earning a living, they ad- great many other practices as well. even have “patent” labels and trademarks. within the four corners of a defin-
mittedly fall prey to moments of Western aspirants of the contemplative This is unheard of in India. Such yoga ition, that even its existence cannot
introspection—even during the busiest of arts are not unfamiliar with a variety of “products” carry a price tag, depending on be easily acknowledged. It is no
schedules—when they feel that deep, soulful meditation techniques now available on the the extent of the spiritual empire built up wonder the mind succeeds in es-
urge to try something new. A few come to market. There’s Transcendental Meditation, around them and investments made into caping all attempts at its mastery

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
know of great powers lying latent within Super Conscious Meditation, Sub Conscious their advertisement. by a method so ill-defined.
and fancy they might cultivate some of that Meditation, Raja Yoga Meditation, Bhakti In moments of inspiration, would-be med- The wise ones of ancient times
potential themselves. Yoga Meditation, Karma Yoga Meditation, itators dive into one or more of these prac- can help us here. They assert that
Typical advice for invoking these inherent Initial Meditation, Intensive Meditation, tices with great enthusiasm. Many, however, there is a one great Master Mind of
powers stresses the need for sitting in still Kundalini Meditation, Candlelight Medita- give up almost immediately. Some conclude which our individual minds are

40 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 41

Sacred Symbols
Endearing images embodying intuitions of the spirit—
icons of mythology, mysticism and devotion—adorn
Hindu art, architecture and culture

ymbols adorn our world at every turn, in our spiritual, social
and political experience. A ring or gold pendant silently strengthen and at-
test to wedded love. On mountain roads in any country, a sign with a truck Vata, the banyan tree,
silhouette on an angled line warns drivers of steep grades ahead. The red Ficus indicus, symbolizes
cross signifies aid in crises. Golden arches tell the vegan to beware. The
Hinduism, which branches out
best known symbols are simple numerals: 0 through 9, which originated in India
in the ancient Brahmi script. Now and then, historic images are etched in the in all directions, draws from
mass mind: the awesome mushroom cloud of the atom bomb will forever repre- many roots, spreads shade far
sent the specter of nuclear destruction. It is our sacred symbols, icons of Divinity
and higher reality, that wield the greatest power to inform and transform con- and wide, yet stems from one
sciousness. Taoists gazing upon a yin-yang symbol, Navajo Indians “pouring” a great trunk. Siva as Silent Sage
feather symbol in a sand painting, Muslims embroidering the crescent moon and
sits beneath it. Aum.
star, Buddhists contemplating a mandala, Christians kneeling before the cross,
Hindus meditating upon the Aum, Pagans parading the ankh at Stonehenge—all
these are potent meditations on cosmic symbols that function as gateways to in-
ner truths. To societies of prehistory, living fully in the raw splendor and power
of nature, symbols and icons represented supernatural states and beings—as they
still can for us today. A stylized image of a snake coiled round a clay vase, for ex-
ample, stood for cosmic life force and regeneration. Wielded by mystic priests, or

symbols art by a. maivel
shamans, symbols are psychic tools for shaping the forces of nature and invoking
invisible astral beings. To conjure power, a medieval alchemist would enclose
himself in a magic circle filled with geometric pictograms symbolizing inner re-
alities. Today, as in olden times, religious symbols derive from the world around
us. The sun appears in a spectrum of motifs across cultures from Mexico to Mon-
golia. Hinduism developed dozens of solar symbols, including the swastika and
the wheel of the sun, honored by Buddhists as the eight-spoked dharma wheel.
Hinduism has amassed a vast range of icons from thousands of years back. Coins
found in the Indus Valley carry emblems of the cow and of the meditating yogi svafistak[
across a 6,000-year corridor of time. Images from the Vedic age are popular mo-
tifs in Kashmiri carpets and Chidambaram saris. These often serve to identify Swastika is the symbol of
and distinguish members of a sect or community. The simple red dot worn on auspiciousness and good
the forehead is both the mark of our dharmic heritage and the personal reminder
A deva holds above his that we must see the world not only with our physical eyes, but with the mind’s fortune—literally, “It is well.”
head a golden vajra (a eye, the third eye, the eye of the soul. India’s adepts and seers have excelled at The right-angled arms of this
“thunderbolt” represent- symbolic imagery, transforming mudras (hand gestures) into instantly recognized
ing indestructibility), a ancient sun-sign denote the
celestial weapon wielded emblems and transmitters of a Deity’s power or a particular frequency of ener-
by the Vedic God Indra gy. Each accoutrement of the dozens of Deities in the Hindu pantheon conveys a indirect way that Divinity is
kamal kishore

and other Deities. Other cosmic function or force. Today this ancient magic is with us everywhere, from apprehended: by intuition
symbols, clockwise: shakti the temple priest’s invocation to the Indian housewife’s drawing of multi-colored
vel, cudgel, sword, noose,
designs, called kolams or rangoli, on the ground as auspicious auguries, household and not by intellect. Aum.
flag, mace, chakra with
four flames, an umbrella blessings and greetings.
and trishula.
a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 43
pa=Nava ‹ ibalva
Pranava, Aum, is the root mantra and Bilva is the bael tree. Its fruit,
primal sound from which all creation flowers and leaves are all sacred to
issues forth. It is associated with Lord Siva, liberation’s summit. Planting Aegle
Ganesha. Its three syllables stand at the marmelos trees around home or temple
beginning and end of every sacred is sanctifying, as is worshiping a Linga
verse, every human act. Aum. with bilva leaves and water. Aum.

kapy; A˝ila
paº Anjali, the gesture of two
gaNaexa Mayil, “peacock,” is Lord
Murugan’s mount, swift and Padma is the lotus flower, Nelumbo hands brought together near
Ganesha is the Lord of Obstacles
beautiful like Karttikeya Him- nucifera, perfection of beauty, associ- the heart, means to “honor or
and Ruler of Dharma. Seated upon His
self. The proud display of the ated with Deities and the chakras, espe- celebrate.” It is our Hindu
throne, He guides our karmas through
dancing peacock symbolizes cially the 1,000-petaled sahasrara. Root- greeting, two joined as one,
creating and removing obstacles from
religion in full, unfolded glory. ed in the mud, its blossom is a promise the bringing together of mat-
our path. We seek His permission and
His shrill cry warns of of purity and unfoldment. Aum. ter and spirit, the self meeting
blessings in every undertaking. Aum.
approaching harm. Aum. the Self in all. Aum.

i}apauNz+ mahak[ala
Tripundra is a Saivite’s great mark, Mahakala, “Great Time,” presides
three stripes of white vibhuti on the above creation’s golden arch. Devour-
brow. This holy ash signifies purity and ing instants and eons, with a ferocious
the burning away of anava, karma and face, He is Time beyond time,
maya. The bindu, or dot, at the third reminder of this world’s transitoriness,
eye quickens spiritual insight. Aum. that sin and suffering will pass. Aum.

naind gaaee
Nandi is Lord Siva’s Go, the cow, is a symbol
naqraja mount, or vahana. This huge A\ku[xa of the Earth, the nourisher,
Nataraja is Siva as “King of Dance.” white bull with a black tail, Ankusha, the goad held in Lord the ever-giving, undemanding
Carved in stone or cast in bronze, His whose name means “joyful,” Ganesha’s right hand, is used to provider. To the Hindu, all
ananda tandava, the fierce ballet of disciplined animality kneeling remove obstacles from dharma’s path. animals are sacred, and we
bliss, dances the cosmos into and out at Siva’s feet, is the ideal It is the force by which all wrongful acknowledge this reverence of
of existence within a fiery arch of devotee, the pure joy and things are repelled from us, the sharp life in our special affection
flames denoting consciousness. Aum. strength of Saiva prod which spurs the dullards for the gentle cow. Aum.
Dharma. Aum. onward. Aum.

44 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 45
kh';nfhyk; gaaepaur
Mankolam, the pleasing paisley design, Gopuras are the towering stone
is modeled after a mango and associat- gateways through which pilgrims enter
ed with Lord Ganesha. Mangos are the the South Indian temple. Richly orna-
sweetest of fruits, symbolizing auspi- mented with myriad sculptures of the
ciousness and the happy fulfillment of divine pantheon, their tiers symbolize
legitimate worldly desires. Aum. the several planes of existence. Aum.

haemaku[Nz jpUto
Tiruvadi, the sacred
Sa˜k[aeNa Homakunda, the fire altar, is k[laxa sandals worn by saints, sages
Shatkona, “six-pointed star,” is two the symbol of ancient Vedic Kalasha, a husked coconut circled by
and satgurus, symbolize the
interlocking triangles; the upper stands rites. It is through the fire ele- mango leaves on a pot, is used in puja
preceptor’s holy feet, which
for Siva, purusha and fire, the lower for ment, denoting divine con- to represent any God, especially Lord
are the source of his grace.
Shakti, prakriti and water. Their union sciousness, that we make Ganesha. Breaking a coconut before
Prostrating before him, we
gives birth to Sanatkumara, whose offerings to the Gods. Hindu His shrine is the ego’s shattering to
humbly touch his feet for
sacred number is six. Aum. sacraments are solemnized reveal the sweet fruit inside. Aum.
release from worldliness. Aum.
before the homa fire. Aum.

mauiSak[ Fj;Jtpsf;F
Mushika is Lord Ganesha’s mount, the Kuttuvilaku, the standing oil lamp,
mouse, traditionally associated with symbolizes the dispelling of ignorance
abundance in family life. Under cover and awakening of the divine light
of darkness, seldom visible yet always within us. Its soft glow illumines the
at work, Mushika is like God’s unseen temple or shrine room, keeping the
grace in our lives. Aum. atmosphere pure and serene. Aum.

GaNqa i}ak[aeNa
Ghanta is the bell used in Trikona, the triangle, is a
bfhd;iw ritual puja, which engages all k[maNzlau symbol of God Siva which,
Konrai, Golden Shower, blossoms are Kamandalu, the water vessel, is car-
senses, including hearing. Its like the Sivalinga, denotes His
the flowering symbol of Siva’s honeyed ried by the Hindu monastic. It sym-
ringing summons the Gods, Absolute Being. It represents
grace in our life. Associated with His bolizes his simple, self-contained life,
stimulates the inner ear and the element fire and portrays
shrines and temples throughout India, his freedom from worldly needs, his
reminds us that, like sound, the process of spiritual ascent
the Cassia fistula is lauded in number- constant sadhana and tapas, and his
the world may be perceived and liberation spoken of in
less Tirumurai hymns. Aum. oath to seek God everywhere. Aum.
but not possessed. Aum. scripture. Aum.

46 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 47
nrty; Dvaja
Seval is the noble red rooster who Dhvaja, “flag,” is the orange or red
heralds each dawn, calling all to awake banner flown above temples, at festi-
and arise. He is a symbol of the im- vals and in processions. It is a symbol
minence of spiritual unfoldment and of victory, signal to all that “Sanatana
wisdom. As a fighting cock, he crows Dharma shall prevail.” Its color beto-
from Lord Skanda’s battle flag. Aum. kens the sun’s life-giving glow. Aum.

i}axaUla paaxa
Trishula, Siva’s trident k[alacak=[ Pasha, tether or noose,
carried by Himalayan yogis, is Kalachakra, “wheel, or circle, represents the soul’s three-fold
Rudraksha seeds, Eleocarpus ganitrus,
the royal scepter of the Saiva of time,” is the symbol of perfect bondage of anava, karma and
are prized as the compassionate tears
Dharma. Its triple prongs creation, of the cycles of existence. maya. Pasha is the all-impor-
Lord Siva shed for mankind’s suffering.
betoken desire, action and Time and space are interwoven, and tant force or fetter by which
Saivites wear malas of them always as a
wisdom; ida, pingala and eight spokes mark the directions, each God (Pati, envisioned as a
symbol of God’s love, chanting on each
sushumna; and the gunas— ruled by a Deity and having a cowherd) brings souls (pashu,
bead, “Aum Namah Sivaya.”
sattva, rajas and tamas. Aum. unique quality. Aum. or cows) along the path to
Truth. Aum.

canø saUya* ixavaila•
Chandra is the moon, ruler of the Sivalinga is the ancient mark or
watery realms and of emotion, testing symbol of God. This elliptical stone is
place of migrating souls. Surya is the a formless form betokening Parasiva,
sun, ruler of intellect, source of truth. That which can never be described or
One is pingala and lights the day; the portrayed. The pitha, pedestal, repre-
other is ida and lights the night. Aum. sents Siva’s manifest Parashakti. Aum.

naaga h\sa
Naga, the cobra, is a symbol Hamsa, vehicle of Brahma, is
nty; of kundalini power, cosmic maaedk[ the swan (more accurately, the
Vel, the holy lance, is Lord Modaka, a round, lemon-sized wild goose Aser indicus). It is
energy coiled and slumbering
Murugan’s protective power, sweet made of rice, coconut, sugar and a noble symbol for the soul,
within man. It inspires seekers
our safeguard in adversity. Its spices, is a favorite treat of Ganesha. and for adept renunciates,
to overcome misdeeds and
tip is wide, long and sharp, signifying Esoterically, it corresponds to siddhi Paramahamsa, winging high
suffering by lifting the serpent
incisive discrimination and spiritual (attainment or fulfillment), the glad- above the mundane and diving
power up the spine into God
knowledge, which must be broad, dening contentment of pure joy. Aum. straight to the goal. Aum.
Realization. Aum.
deep and penetrating. Aum.

48 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 49
By Kesav Mallia, Chennai
or every ancient hindu spiritual
practice that survived the test of time,
E D U C AT I O N there was at least one person like
Pichai Sivacharyar who helped make it

Keeping the Faith happen. Today, at the turn of yet another
century in Hinduism’s near-infinite history,
this 53-year-old Hindu priest lives his life
for the perpetuation of tradition through
One of South India’s finest priest schools the propagation of the Vedas and Agamas.
Such work seems simple enough. What else
rekindles the fires of devotion would one expect a good priest to do? Yet
Pichai does it well. He does it so well he in-
spires others to do the same. Pichai is be-
coming a legend because of the exceptional
quality of his work. During my preparation
of this story for Hinduism Today, I had the
good fortune to make the acquaintance of
this fine man. I will never forget it.
In 1980 with only five students and no
place but the open air to gather for class,
Pichai formed the Sri Karpaga Vinayagar
Vedaagama Vidyalaya (SKVVV) to teach
young men the meaning of the Vedas, espe-
cially the Yajur Veda, and the performance
of Agamic temple ceremony. Today the
SKVVV is one of South India’s most suc-
cessful priest training schools.
Five years later, in 1985, Pichai formed
the Siva Neri Kalagam (SNK), another facil-
ity on different property, to provide more
housing for the young men and a few more
programs for the general public. These insti-
tutes together comprise Pichai’s padasala, a
priest’s training center for young boys, locat-
ed in Pichai’s home town Pillaiyarpatti,
Sivagangai, in Tamil Nadu.
Many of Pichai’s students are the sons of
priests. Just as lawyers send their children to
Harvard to study law, many priests send
their sons to Pichai to learn their craft from
a priest of priests.
Pichai’s program is unique in that it ac-
cepts nonbrahmins, most of whom come
from Malaysia and Singapore. As I write this
article, 70 nonbrahmin students from over-
seas have passed Pichai’s course and 35
more are studying. All together, more than a
thousand priests have graduated from the
padasala. Many currently serve in temples
in Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom,
Canada, Sri Lanka, USA, Germany, Switzer-
land, South Africa, Mauritius and France—
as well as in India.
Although Pichai’s students receive food,
lodging, books and training free of charge,
they pay for their education in a most inter-
esting way. Working closely together as a
mighty band of apprentice pujaris, they as-
sist their teacher and his staff in performing
all photos: sethu

Putting it into practice: Pichai’s students join his staff in the grand ensemble pujas, abhishekams and
Priest’s priest: Dr. K. Pichai performance of the Ganapati Homa at the Karpaga Vinayagar Tem- homas for local Hindu temples and homes.
Sivacharya is famous ple in Pichai’s home town of Pillaiyarpatti. Such ensemble ceremony is less For these uniquely thespian presentations
throughout Tamil Nadu for common these days, though it is prescribed in scripture. they sometimes receive great sums of mon-
his exemplary priest school. ey. Although according to the tradition they
so meticulously strive to preserve, they nev-

50 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 51
er formally charge for their services, they do of mantra repetitions stipulated in scripture about 60 hours of real ceremony time if the the Yajur Veda comprises the primary study,
accept dakshina (donations). And dakshina for that ceremony. For instance, the Vedas 121 priests are chanting for five and a half as it contains most of the important mantras
flows freely and abundantly when well de- say that the proper performance of a tradi- hours a day. By comparison, it would take required for temple puja and homa. At the
served, which it always is with Pichai and tional Ganapati Homa (See photo pages 50 one person about 4,393 hours to complete conclusion of the study, students must per-
crew. All funds earned in this way go toward and 51), requires 21 people—16 to recite the the same number of repetitions by himself. form a number of intricate ceremonies in
the training of the children, as well as the correct number of mantras and five to per- At five and a half hours a day, this would the presence and to the satisfaction of qual-
continued development and maintenance of form the intricate ceremony around the take a little over two years. ified scholars. This is quite an ordeal, but
the padasala. homa kundam (fire pit). There is at least one The padasala functions in two locations; one which must be endured successfully for
It’s a win-win situation from every angle. very practical reason for this: Time! With one at the Pillaiyarpatti Temple where there the completion of training with Pichai.
The students and the teachers are all work- many to intone the myriad mantras, the cer- are 70 students, the other 50 yards away at The students dress according to ancient
ing—even the youngest among them—and emony can be finished in a single morning. the Siva Neri Kalagam, a one-acre, dormito- tradition, wearing a single rudraksha bead
being paid well for it in a most traditional Here is another example. For the proper ry/school complex that houses 150 students. on a thread, a cotton veshti (a wrap-around
way. Everyone is learning. The patrons are execution of the famous Ati Rudra Maha Ya- Six highly qualified teachers work at both waist robe) and a shawl to cover the upper
delightfully happy to be blessed by a sacred jna, in accordance with strict Vedic injunc- centers. Ganesa Ganapadigal and Vydhya- torso. Their given names are not used while
chorus. And the tradition they all vow to per- tion, there should be eleven priests around natha Ganapadigal teach the ancient Yajur they are being trained. Instead, they are
petuate continues in a manner befitting its each of eleven homa pits chanting the sa- Veda. Jayakumar gives instruction in basic called by the name of the place from which
prestigious heritage. cred Sri Rudram mantra eleven times daily Sanskrit grammar and literature. Thiru- they have come. They are not allowed to
This practice is a living validation of scrip- for eleven days to complete the necessary moolanatha Gurukkal teaches astrology and watch TV and are taught cooking, which in-
tural procedure. According to the Vedas, cer- 14,641 mantra repetitions. Since Sri Rudram the performance of Agamic ceremony. Odu- cludes cutting vegetables, dish washing and
emonial worship can be done in grand style. takes 30 minutes to chant once, this is only var Kannayiram and Tamil Scholar Aru- serving food with grace and humility. Aus-
The number of priests required for any giv- mugam lead devotional terity is a fundamental part of their training.
en ceremony is determined by the number singing classes. Pichai Gu- “[Pichai] has taught us that we should be
rukkal himself spends as ready even to starve,” says Tiruppuvanam
The students and the teachers: much time as possible with Rajesh, a graduate of the program.
(Below) Pichai’s youngest students under the the young men in all areas All ceremonies at the very popular local
age of 12. (Inset) The staff from left to right: of study. Pillaiyarpatti Temple are exclusively per-
Ananda Gurukkal, Somasundara Gurukkal, Many of the foreign stu- formed by Pichai, his staff and students.
Pichai, Sridhar (Pichai’s son) and Thiru- dents can only get two- Ganapati Homa, which I personally wit-
moolanatha Gurukkal. year visas into India. To nessed and will never forget, is a greatly fa-
accommodate this restric- vored ceremony there.
tion, Pichai has designed When he was 12, Pichai began serving as
his teaching program so a priest’s assistant. His father, Krishna Gu-
that one certificate of rukkal, was his teacher. Although he found-
completion may be re- ed his padasala at the age of 30, he spent
ceived after two years of much time serving as a priest in England,
intensive study while an- Malaysia, Mauritius, Canada, Germany and
other may be obtained for France. To date he has performed Kum-
further accomplishment bhabhishekams, a ceremony which takes
after the five-year course several days to complete, in over 1,300 tem-
has been completed. ples around the world.

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
The first four years of Pichai’s Pichai and his wife, Saroja, have three
five-year program are dedicated children. Sridhar, their son, helps with the
to detail. During this time, stu- school. Sudha, the oldest daughter, lives in
dents learn the building blocks London with her husband Ganesa Guruk-
of their craft. These are auspi- kal, who was one of Pichai’s students. Gane-
ciously impressionable years sa serves as a priest in the Mariamman tem- The survivor: The elder pontiff, Siva Prakasa Swamigal, during happier days
when young minds are fresh ple there. Karpagam, the other daughter, is a

Living to Tell the Tale
and open. It is now that great computer science student.
priests are built from the Although Pichai Gurukkal is relatively
ground up. Quickly, thoroughly young in a sage’s world of slowly earned re-
and easily they comprehend spect, his reputation is saintlike. I found this
and commit to memory great to be true, even after deep investigation for
volumes of information to be as- this article. Not one person I talked to had Pontiff survives murder attempt—twice
sembled and used later. The an unkind word to say about him. Certainly,
fifth year is spent putting all of as I sat in his presence, I could feel what
these details together in prac- others felt—that he is special. He lives in be- t was the stuff of tv drama. in On July 9, the junior pontiff tried to kill
tice and learning the flawless nign peace, proceeding day by day into a fu- July of 2002, Kasi Viswanathan, the ju- himself—and failed again. On July 13 Ku-
execution of the ceremonies ture apparently untainted by even the nior pontiff of Thiruvavuduthurai Aad- maresan, as he is now called, was arrested
they will be performing the rest faintest thought of failure. Even his greatest heenam, one of the oldest and richest for murder along with 10 others involved in
of their lives. Those who finish adversary, that so frequently denounced ma- monasteries in South India, tried to murder the scheme. The apparent motive was sim-
h i n d u i s m t o d ay

two years are given the title terialism of our technological age, seems to the ashram’s abbot, Siva Prakasa Swamigal. ple greed.
Sivachariyar. Those who finish step aside as he passes by. ∏π Actually, he tried twice. Both attempts For weeks after the startling events the
the five-year course are called failed. On July 2, he poisoned the elder man, aadheenam was inundated with prestigious
Siva Agama Ratnam. For further information write: which only made him sick. On July 7 he sent religous leaders from all over Tamil Nadu
Training occurs ten months Dr. K. Pichai Sivachariyar, Pillaiyarpatti, four paid assassins to kill him in his sleep. who came to show their support. ∏π
out of a year. Of the four Vedas, Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu, India This was foiled by the ashram security man. By Kesav Mallia

52 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 53
ta and yoga traditions, the kundalini, or MUSIC out introducing innovation. This is good, she
spiritual force, lays dormant in the first says, for such tradition should evolve slowly,
chakra, the muladhara, at the base of the
spine. For the kundalini to be released and
move upward through the chakras, a psy-
On a Positive Note and then only from within itself under the
expert leadership of those who have mas-
tered that tradition. “To bring something
chic “knot” or seal called the brahma grand- new,” she says, “you have to know what was
hi must be untied through the practice of
spiritual disciplines. It is this brahma gran-
Super singer Shweta Jhaveri perfects the classics, there before.”
Jhaveri comes from Ahmedabad in the
dhi which is represented in the ring, and then brings dignity to East/West fusion state of Gujarat. As she was growing up, her
corresponds to the risen spiritual force of family encouraged her musical studies. At
the priest necessary for him to correctly the age of six, she began her formal voice
perform the rituals and invoke the Gods. By Yatrika Shah-Rais Shivam Jhaveri likes the concept of merging training with the famous Pandit Vilas Khan-
Wearing of the pavithra ring implies an ef- ven the fussiest music critics khayal and jazz, but admits there are limita- dekar. At nine, she gave her first public
fort to achieve the inner purity for activat- would have to love singer Shweta tions. “I am always looking for something performance. She received a BA in English
ing the kundalini energy to pierce the brah- Jhaveri. Who would dare find fault different,” Jhaveri says. “As much as I enjoy Literature from St. Xavier’s college in Ah-
ma grandhi, which brings a new dimension with such an obvious talent? The ques- performing Indian classical music, I also like medabad and a Masters degree in Music
of harmony to human life. tion that time will have to answer is: Will nontraditional music and experimenting Composition from Ghandarva University in
Other explanations are given for the intri- Shweta Jhaveri—already an exemplary mas- with other musicians. It is a progressive step. New Delhi. Even while in college, she was
cate design. One is that the interwoven gold ter of several classical Hindustani musical Jazz and Indian music have similarities. Jazz performing throughout India.
strands represent the interwoven planes of styles—go down in history as a stalwart is very open. My love of jazz comes from my Some time after Pandit Vilas Khandekar
c . v. m a n o j

existence or the infinite complex intertwin- guard of established tradition? Or will passed away in 1993, Jhaveri began
ings of existence; another that they serve to she bring something slightly or even studying with master vocalist Pandit
ward off malevolent influences. radically new to the field of music, be Jasraj. She also traveled with him as
In Tamil Nadu, the Sivachariyar priests it Eastern, Western or its fusion in be- his accompanist both in India and
Kundalini unleashed: The raised portion in the knot in the center of the top ring represents prefer to make the pavithra ring in its origi- tween? Current indications are that abroad. This brought her some degree
the brahma grandhi, knot of brahma, which must be released for the kundalini force to rise nal form, from woven darbha grass. Only she is willing to tread wisely and cau- of fame and helped establish her as
occasionally is it made from silver or gold in tiously into the no-man’s-land of…, an international performer.
KERALA their tradition. The ring is worn only by the well, it really has not been definitive- Jhaveri also feels indebted to master
chief priest of the ceremony, one who is ly named yet—“High-Class East-West sarod performer Ustad Ali Akbar
qualified to do a Mahakumbhabhishekam Fusion?” “World Music” is probably Khan, whom she counts as one of her

Mystical and Magical [temple rededication, the most complex of
all ceremonies]. The chief priest must be
married, and his wife must be living. Nei-
the best current classification for her
innovative work. This relatively new
category defines music which aspires
mentors. Although she did not study
with him, he helped open doors for
her to perform and teach.

Priest’s Ring ther an unmarried priest nor a widower will
wear the ring.
The pavithra ring is to be worn on the
ring finger of the right hand. In most of the
to synthesize different traditions from
around the world.
With nine recordings to her credit,
including the soundtrack for the movie
Through her music, Jhaveri feels
that she can have a positive but limit-
ed effect on Indian youth. “Youngsters
don’t listen to one kind of music,” she
Vedic and Tantric rituals the right hand, “Dance of the Wind,” Jhaveri has just says. “There have been efforts to make
Intricate design symbolizes spiritual awakening with which the yajnas, homas and pujas are released Anahita which features her classical Indian music more popular,
performed, is purified by wearing a pavi- compositions and her voice to the ac- but youth mostly listen to pop. If I can
thra ring on the ring finger. companiment of tambura, autoharp, present khayals in a more contempo-
By C. V. Manoj, Kerala, India thattan that the Thanthri completed all the In the Kerala tradition, we believe that violin, guitar, bass and Western per- rary way, I might be able to spark their
rom time immemorial it has rituals. Thereafter, it became a convention holy devices like the pavithra ring, gems, cussion. Although all of the instrumen- interest. But this does not mean they
been a tradition in India to make the to make the ring in gold, and the successors rudraksha, etc., are catalysts that help us in- talists on the CD are fine, highly will suddenly go listen to the more tra-
pavithra ring out of the holy darbha of Sri Kelappan Perunthattan became tradi- tensify our efforts to bring ourselves into trained Western professionals, the mu- ditional classical music.”
grass and wear it during auspicious tional experts in its making. communion with our spiritual dimension, sic they are playing is composed by Jhaveri sees music and religion in
occasions and the performance of reli- For the fabrication of the ring in gold, the into atunement with divine harmony. Jhaveri in traditional North Indian close relationship. “Our music comes
gious rites. There are references to the ring craftsman first converts gold into thin wires Today in Kerala this ring is made to order ragams and talams (melodies and from the Vedas and the Upanishads,”
in the Mahabharatha and the Agni Purana. and then winds and twines them to form for anyone willing to pay the price. A web- rhythms). More importantly, Jhaveri is she says. “That connects it to Hindu-
According to our tradition in Kerala, the the patterns on a circular base. The special site ( not diluting the Eastern side of this ism. Much of the classical repertoire
pavithra ring was made in gold for the first and precise manner of weaving the complex for the Payyanur town, home to the Sri Sub- musical equation. Her compositions consists of prayers and invocations.
time during the Naveekarana-kalasam (De- knot (as can be seen in the picture above) is rahmanya Swami Temple associated with are purely classical in form. Such strict This is true even in the semi-classical

g o pa l
ity reinstallation ceremony) in the famed Sri its most important feature. It takes three the ring, states, “According to tradition, the adherence to established method has forms. The work itself becomes a spir-
Subrahmanya Swami Temple of Payyanur days’ work to make a pavithra ring. The pavithra, before handed over to the cus- not been the usual approach in other itual practice. Music is truly my devo-
after the reconstruction of the ancient tem- makers are always pure vegetarians and tee- tomer, is taken to Payyanur Perumal Temple modern-day “fusion” experiments that A true virtuoso: Great skill and talent bring Shweta tion; it is like religion for me.”
ple two centuries ago. It was the Thanthri totalers. During the creation of the ring, for special pujas [worship], and a part of the have typically set far fewer rules. Jhaveri well-earned respect at the dawn of her career Now in her mid thirties, Jhaveri
(the chief authority on matters related to they observe certain spiritual disciplines. cost of the ring will be given to the temple Jhaveri specializes in the classical splits her time between India and the
temples) of the temple, inspired by the Di- After the completion of the work, the crafts- as an offering. Payyanur pavithra rings are Hindustani style of music called khayal, training in khayal and its emphasis on im- US. She has a home in the Bay Area and
vine, who entrusted Sri Kelappan Perun- man takes the ring to Sri Subrahmanya Swa- exhibited in many of the museums of India which literally means “imagination.” Khayal provisation. Sometimes “fusion” does not maintains a busy schedule, composing,
thattan of the Chovvattavalappil family to mi temple of Payyanur for worship. With as well as abroad.” Among the priests, how- features improvisation and is a demanding, work. For me, it can only really be success- recording, performing and teaching.
make the ring in gold and gave him the nec- the performance of the worship, its spiritu- ever, the ring is held in very high regard, a well-established musical tradition. “I was in- ful when two different styles are connected According to the lyrics of a song yet to
essary guidance. The adept craftsman ac- al potency is activated and it becomes vi- symbol of the spiritual attainment they troduced to khayal when I was seven years through a common concept.” be written: “History is holding a place for
cordingly grasped the structural nuances of brant with divine energy. must achieve inside themselves to correctly old,” she says in an interview with Hin- Concerning the current evolution of Hin- Shweta. She’s stepped upon the stage. How
the ring which made it potent with spiritu- The structure of the ring is based on the invoke God and the Gods in ceremony. ∏π duism Today. “I really love it because of the dustani classical music, Jhaveri feels that will she change the map of music? Time will
al power. It was by wearing this pavithra yogic knowledge of the subtle energies in contact: c. v. manoj, integral books,
“ayodhya,” payyanur, kerala 670 307 india..
openness that it provides compared to other even the best performers are mostly con- tell with age.” Stay tuned at www.shweta-
ring in gold made by Sri Kelappan Perun- the human body. According to certain Shak- email: styles.” cerned with maintaining the tradition with- ∏π

54 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 55
INFLUENCE Washington, D.C.: Martin Luther King de-
livers his “I have a dream” speech, August
28, 1963, in the nation’s capital

Champions of survival of Tibetans and the country’s
unique heritage, the Dalai Lama has not
called for the outright independence of Ti-
bet or its separation from China. His “Mid-
dle Way Approach” seeks genuine autono-

Nonviolence my for Tibet, eliminating direct rule from
Beijing and giving it the right to maintain
its culture, language and religions while re-
maining part of China.
The Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach
and lifelong dedication to nonviolence were
How men and women committed to Gandhian recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize in
1989. In his speech to the Nobel commit-
tactics changed our world for the better tee, the Dalai Lama said, “I accept the
prize as a tribute to the man who founded
the modern tradition of nonviolent action
B Y M ARK H AWTHORNE , C ALIFORNIA young Black minister rose to prominence for change—Mahatma Gandhi—whose life
here are in the world many in America during the civil rights move- taught and inspired me.”
people who have fought great ment in the 1950s, when racial tensions Mandela: The Dalai Lama acknowledges

h u lt o n g e t t y p h o t o a r c h i v e
battles for social or political justice had escalated and demonstrations swelled Gandhi as his mentor but calls fellow Nobel
using the principles of Mahatma for voting rights and school integration. Laureate Nelson Mandela of South Africa
Gandhi. Five amongst them stand America was segregated, with African the Mahatma’s successor as a savior of hu-
out strongly: Martin Luther King, Americans and other groups of color sub- manity through his struggle for peaceful
leader of the American civil rights jected to political and economic disenfran- change. “The [21st century] should be one
movement in the 1950s and 1960s; Nelson chisement. Violence against them was of dialogue and peace,” he said after meet-
Mandela, who brought an end to apartheid commonplace, especially in the South. ing Mandela. “In the past Mahatma Gan-
in South Africa; the Dalai Lama, who seeks In the 1940s, King was a seminary stu- dhi was a very good example of this and
a peaceful resolution on Tibet; Aung San dent who despaired that love could ever be now you [Nelson Mandela] are a great suc-
Suu Kyi, fighting for democracy in her na- an effective tool for social reform. Then cessor of that person.”
tive Myanmar (Burma); and César Chávez, Gandhi’s writings changed his thinking. Nelson Mandela, then a young and suc-
who struggled to reduce exploitation of He learned how Gandhi had used ahimsa Delhi the following day. He told reporters During his time in India, King felt very the faith that it is better to be the recipient cessful lawyer, became active in the anti-
farm workers in California. Three of to help India gain independence from its at the airport: “To other countries I may go much at home. Their overlapping experi- of violence than the inflicter of it, since the apartheid movement in the 1940s. Mandela
these—Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Suu British oppressors. Why, King thought, as a tourist, but to India I come as a pil- ences with racism and common philosophy latter only multiplies the existence of vio- warned demonstrators of the difficulties
Kyi—have been awarded the Nobel Peace couldn’t this same policy work for the grim.” of liberation sparked numerous conversa- lence and bitterness in the universe, while they would face and urged them to refrain
Prize. All proudly acknowledge their debt African American in his struggle to abolish At a state dinner with India’s Prime Min- tions between King and the Indians he the former may develop a sense of shame from violence. When Mandela and anoth-
to Gandhi. segregation and be treated as an equal ister Jawaharlal Nehru, King was full of met. He spoke before university groups in the opponent, and thereby bring about a er lawyer opened their own practice in
To be equated with Mahatma Gandhi is among whites? King was able to put his questions about Gandhi’s philosophy and and at public gatherings, which were al- transformation and change of heart.” 1952, the first black legal firm in the coun-
to be instantly aligned with a distinct set of newfound philosophy to the test in 1955 adherence to ahimsa. Nehru’s answers fo- ways well attended. “We were looked upon It had taken India almost half a century try, they were inundated with African
ideals, for the name resonates for anyone when he was elected president of the cused on Gandhi’s political acumen, leav- as brothers, with the color of our skins as to gain independence, and therefore it was clients, many of them victims of the apar-
who believes in truth, independence and Montgomery Improvement Association ing King to seek out Gandhi’s spiritual suc- something of an asset,” he later said. “But unrealistic to expect immediate gains in the theid system. Mandela used the courts to
nonviolence. Although ahimsa literally and began leading the city’s bus boycott cessor, Vinoba Bhave, an ardent Gandhi the strongest bond of fraternity was the US. King returned to America with an good advantage, challenging white author-
means “noninjury,” Gandhi’s use of the against segregated buses where the Blacks follower who carried on the Mahatma’s ef- common cause of minority and colonial appreciation for Gandhi’s patience and a ity and building his reputation in the fight
word encompassed universal love. Accord- had to sit in the back. As the nonviolent forts for a just and equitable society. Born peoples in America, Africa and Asia strug- greater determination to achieve freedom against discrimination.
ing to the Mahatma, to follow the doctrine protest took root, and bus ridership in the into a devout brahmin family, Vinoba ap- gling to throw off racism and imperialism.” for African Americans through nonviolent As the 1960s approached and South
of ahimsa means you may not offend any- city dropped 90 percent, King’s home was preciated the spiritual dimension of Gan- Indian papers had carried news of the means. From the pulpit in Atlanta, King cit- African authorities used more and more vi-
one; you may not harbor an uncharitable bombed and he suffered many of the same dhi’s vision. He understood that Gandhi Montgomery bus boycott, and Gandhians ed Gandhi’s denouncing the practice of un- olence to crack down on the anti-apartheid
thought, even of your enemy. Indeed, the abuses Gandhi had. King rallied the pro- aimed at more than independence from praised King for his adherence to ahimsa. touchability to illustrate it is better to criti- movement, Mandela shifted his approach
man who follows ahimsa has no enemies. testers with the words of Mahatma Gand- Britain—he envisioned a wider goal: Sar- To them, as to King, it suggested that non- cize ourselves than our enemies. Martin from civil disobedience to sabotage. “I fol-
“A man cannot then practice ahimsa and hi: “Rivers of blood may have to flow be- vodaya, a nonviolent society dedicated to violent resistance could effectively work Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace lowed the Gandhian strategy for as long as I
be a coward at the same time,” he wrote. fore we gain our freedom, but it must be “the welfare of all.” In 1940, Gandhi select- even under a totalitarian regime, such as in Prize in 1964 and continued his nonviolent could,” he later wrote, “but then there came
“The practice of ahimsa calls forth the our blood.” The eleven-month struggle led ed Vinoba to initiate a great campaign of South Africa. King and a group of Gandhi- struggle until 1968 when, at 39 years old, like a point in our struggle when the brute force
greatest courage.” all the way to the US Supreme Court, civil disobedience in his struggle against ans even found themselves arguing this Gandhi, he was shot dead by an assassin. of the oppressor could no longer be coun-
Gandhi died at the hand of an assassin in which declared segregation on buses un- the British. He was arrested and spent five point with a group of African students who Dalai Lama: The same year King went to tered through passive resistance alone.
1948, the year after India gained its inde- constitutional. years in prison. When King caught up with were studying in India. The students be- India, 1959, a Tibetan uprising was brutal- Even then, we chose sabotage because it
pendence from Britain. His achievements King’s victory brought him international him in 1959, Vinoba was engaged in a cam- lieved that nonviolent resistance could only ly suppressed by the Chinese, and Tenzin did not involve the loss of life, and it offered
had become known around the globe, en- recognition, and he was called “the Amer- paign he called the Bhoodan (gift of land) work if the opponent had a conscience. Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled to India. the best hope for future race relations.”
couraging world leaders that, yes, nonvio- ican Gandhi.” Now filled with hope, the movement, traversing India on foot, asking King, along with others, explained the dif- The Dalai Lama had been to India three Mandela was arrested in 1962 and later
lence could indeed be effective in creating reverend made a pilgrimage to India in rich landowners to donate one-fifth of their ferences between passive resistance and years earlier to celebrate the Buddha’s sentenced to life imprisonment for sabo-
change, if you had the courage and forti- 1959 to speak with those who knew and land to the poor. By 1954 the donations had nonresistance. “True nonviolent resistance 2,500th birthday. Like Martin Luther King tage, making him an international symbol
tude to follow such a path. worked with Gandhi. King, his wife Coret- grown to 2.5 million acres, far exceeding is not unrealistic submission to evil power,” Jr., he had sought out Gandhians to learn of struggle against apartheid. After 27
King: One leader to heed that call was ta and educator Lawrence Reddick, landed any land reform achieved by the govern- King said. “It is rather a courageous con- how India had achieved independence years, he was released from prison in 1990,
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. This in Bombay on February 9, arriving in New ment. frontation of evil by the power of love, in through nonviolence. Concerned about the received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

56 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 57
and became the first president of post- such a feat. Born in Arizona in 1927 to a in California: “If someone commits vio- boycott losing ground. He would fast for 36 Gandhi’s example transcended color and
apartheid South Africa the following year. family of migrant farm workers, Chávez lence against us, it is much better—if we days in 1988. Sympathetic to Chávez and politics. Dedicated to human rights and not
Aung San Suu Kyi: About the time that saw firsthand how Mexican Americans can—not to react against the violence but the union’s cause, religious leaders, public willing to debase themselves through vio-
South African politicians were transform- were segregated and treated differently to react in such a way as to get closer to our officials and others from across America lence, leaders like King, the Dalai Lama,
ing racial discrimination into apartheid, from whites. Chávez read Gandhi’s autobi- goal. People don’t like to see a nonviolent traveled to California to march in support Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and César
Burma, part of British India for a century, ography, The Story of My Experiments with movement subjected to violence, and of the farm workers. After five years of Chávez saw that ahimsa is more powerful
was granted independence. But the transi- Truth. Chávez went on to read everything there’s a lot of support across the country protests, some grape growers signed agree- than armed protests. In a tribute to his men-
tion proved violent, and in a short time he could find about Gandhi, whose belief in for nonviolence. That’s the key point we ments with the union, and they lifted the tor in a recent issue of Asiaweek, the Dalai
Burma (now Myanmar) was ruled by a self-sacrifice and self-discipline were values have going for us. We can change the world grape boycott. Lama eloquently characterized Gandhi’s
military junta. Chávez could understand. He was especial- if we can do it nonviolently.” By the early 1980s, the tens of gift to the world. “If we are to think of the
Aung San Suu Kyi, a graceful and slight ly impressed by Gandhi’s commitment to In 1962, Chávez established the Nation- thousands of farm laborers working 20th century as one of Asian liberation,” he
woman of 56, has become the symbol of ahimsa. al Farm Workers Association, which later under UFW contracts enjoyed high- wrote, “Mahatma Gandhi naturally stands
nonviolent protest in Myanmar. Struggling Chávez found in Gandhi’s life hope and became the United Farm Workers (UFW). er pay, family health coverage, pen- out as a beacon of inspiration. Drawing on
against a tide of brutal suppression of pro- encouragement for his own struggle against Chávez traveled from camp to camp orga- sion benefits and other contract pro- the thoughts of India’s great teachers of the
democracy campaigns, she has remained the exploitation of Mexican, Mexican- nizing the workers. Chávez felt the grow- tections. Chávez died in his sleep in past, he employed the ancient but powerful
true to the ideals of Gandhi who, she said, American, Filipino and African-American ers’ use of pesticides was one of his April, 1993. Having never earned more idea of ahimsa or nonviolence in a fresh, dy-
“demonstrated to the world the supremacy migrant agricultural workers, who com- strongest and most critical platforms, and than $6,000 a year and never owning a namic and effective way. A great man with a
of moral force over force based on the prised the majority of farm laborers in the one that would also concern the consumer. house, Chávez could only leave behind his deep understanding of human nature, Ma-
might of arms or empire.” United States. Performing backbreaking The union began a boycott of table grapes legacy of nonviolence and commitment to hatma Gandhi made every effort to encour-
Born in Burma, Suu Kyi is the child of as- work in harsh conditions, these workers in 1965, picketing farms and disseminating human rights. As he put it: “Once people age the full development of the positive as-
sassinated Myanmar independence hero were sometimes thought of—and treated— information about pesticide use. The grow- understand the strength of nonviolence— pects of our human potential and to reduce
General Aung San, who led the struggle for as slaves by growers. ers hired illegal workers and brought in the force it generates, the love it cre- or restrain the negative. Consequently, he
the country’s independence. Suu Kyi spent With Gandhi as his guide, Chávez began strikebreakers to beat up the strikers. ates, the response it brings from the showed by example that personal liberation
much of her youth in New Delhi, where a workers’ rights movement that used Union members, Chávez included, were total community—they will not easi- is integral to the successful achievement of
her mother was serving as Burma’s Ambas- marches, boycotts, strikes and civil disobe- jailed repeatedly. Again taking a cue from ly abandon it.” national liberation.” ∏π
sador to India. It was there that Suu Kyi dience to bring attention to farm-work con- Gandhi, Chávez went on fasts to gain at-
learned about Mahatma Gandhi. In 1964 ditions. Chávez told volunteers and pick- tention for the cause, going without food Ahimsa’s champion: Mohandas K. Gandhi during the Salt March of
she went to Oxford University, where she eters during a strike against grape growers for 25 days in 1968 when he saw the grape January, 1930, in protest of British restrictions on salt production
studied philosophy, politics and
When she returned to Bur-

Gandhians on Gandhi

h u lt o n g e t t y p h o t o a r c h i v e
ma in 1988, she spoke out In the April 17, 1930, issue of César Chávez, founder of
against the military rule, but as Young India he wrote: ‘We United Farm Workers: “Gan-
the daughter of a national hero may not use compulsion even dhi is an example. He showed
and an ambassador, she was in the matter of doing a good us not by talking, not by what
not someone the junta could thing. Any compulsion will he wrote as much as by his ac-
simply lock away in prison. She
Five leaders who prevailed with the spirit of nonviolence ruin the cause.’ Gandhiji fur- tions, his own willingness to
was put under house arrest un- live by truth and by respect
til 1995. for mankind and accepting
Aung San Suu Kyi has built a simultaneously great sadness that it usurps this right. the sacrifices. You see, nonvio-
platform on four fundamental at not being able to meet Large-scale machinery, he lence exacts a very high price
themes: 1) The restoration of Gandhi in person and great holds, concentrates wealth in from one who practices it. But
human rights, 2) Nonviolent joy at the magnificent exam- the hands of one man who his flute. Above all, he seeks to Martin Luther King Jr:, minis- once you are able to meet that
office of the dalai lama

means to achieve these rights, ple of his life. To me, he was— tyrannizes the rest. He favors liberate the individual from ter and civil rights activist: demand then you can do most
3) The problem of human and is—the consummate the small machine; he seeks to his alienation to the machine “Gandhi was inevitable. If hu- things, provided you have the
rights has arisen because the politician, a man who put his and restore morality to the manity is to progress, Gandhi time. Gandhi showed how a
military usurped power from belief in altruism above any productive process.” is inescapable. He lived, whole nation could be liberat-
the government, and 4) All op- personal considerations. I was thought and acted, inspired by ed without an army. This is
ponents of the military dicta- convinced, too, that his devo- the vision of humanity evolv- the first time in the history of
torship must not actively pro- tion to the cause of nonvio- ing toward a world of peace the world when a huge nation,
voke the military to do lence was the only way to and harmony. We may ignore occupied for over a century,

no credit
anything except lay down its conduct politics.” him at our own risk.” achieved independence by
arms. The military still rules nonviolence. It was a long
with an iron fist, but she is to- His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Nelson Mandela, first presi- Aung San Suu Kyi, founder of struggle, and it takes time.”
day free to pursue her political Lama of Tibet: “The place of dent of post-apartheid South Burma’s National League for
activities as leader of the Na- Gandhi’s cremation was a Africa: “Gandhi remains to- Democracy: “The life and ther wrote in the December
no credit

c é s a r e . c h á v e z f o u n d at i o n
tional League for Democracy. calm and beautiful spot. I felt day the only complete critique works of Gandhiji, as I was 20, 1931, issue of the same
Chávez: The most unlikely of very grateful to be there, the of advanced industrial society. taught to refer to him even as publication, ‘We cannot learn
our Gandhians is César Chá- guest of a people who, like Others have criticized its to- a child, are both thought-pro- discipline by compulsion.’
vez. At age 21, he watched the me, had endured foreign dom- talitarianism, but not its pro- voking and inspiring for those These simple statements reach
newsreels announcing that ination, grateful also to be in ductive apparatus. He is not keep the individual in control who wish to reach a righteous to the very heart of our at-
Gandhi had defeated the Bri- the country that had adopted against science and technolo- of his tools, to maintain an in- goal by righteous means. I tempts to build a strong and
no credit

tish Empire without the use of ahimsa, the Mahatma’s doc- gy, but he places priority on terdependent love relation be- would like to focus on two united Burma based on the
force. He wondered how Gan- trine of nonviolence. As I the right to work and opposes tween the two, as a cricketer short comments by Gandhiji consent and goodwill of the
dhi could have accomplished stood praying, I experienced mechanization to the extent with his bat or Krishna with on compulsion and discipline. people.”

58 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 59

Pilgrims Throng Deoghar Siva Temple India’s
Each bathes, anoints and reverently touches the ancient Jyotir Lingam
President lauds

photos: amit kumar
leading artists
en of india’s top craftsmen
were honored November 16, 2002,
by the President of India as Shilp Gu-
rus, “Master Craftsmen,” which in- duction of Blue Pottery for everyday use; C. chief architect of the 133-foot high statue of
cluded one Craftswoman. Dr. A. P. J. Parameshwaracharya, whose family graced Tiruvalluvar placed in the sea off Kanyaku-
Abdul Kalam Azad made the awards the court of the Vijayanagar Empire, an ex- mari next to the Vivekananda Rock Memor-
at the inauguration of the “Craft, Craftsper- pert in stone, bronze and wood; 80-year-old ial, Valluvar Kottam in Chennai and dozens
son and Sustainable Development” seminar Sonabai Rajwar, a housewife of the Sarguja of temples in India, America, Europe, Fiji,
held here in Delhi to highlight the impor- community, Madhya Pradesh, who has won Australia and elsewhere.
tance of artistry for India. International spe- country-wide recognition for her skill in In a wide-ranging discussion, he ex-
cialists connected to the arts participated in Rajwara clay sculpting; Vinayak Salvi, a plained how he had fought for years for a
p h o t o s : g i ta n j a l i c h a k

the three-day event. Azad said, “I am very weaver of the famed Patola silks; Nawang higher status for the indigenous arts and
proud to see this initiative to revive crafts- Tsering, master sculptor and painter of the crafts, as had his father before him. He was
manship in India.” Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist tradition of encouraged that India’s new president is a
Among the Shilp Gurus were: J. Guappa Ladakh; Jagdev Baghel, expert in brass man of science (a physicist, key figure of In-
Chetty, a painter in the Kalamkari style who casting; Jagdish Lal Raj Soni, master of the dia’s nuclear program), who would under-
also resurrected the production of high Thewa art form using etched gold on glass stand the value of the ancient arts and sci-
quality Indigo dye; Jivya Soma Mashe, a surfaces; and Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, In- ences. “If the government comes forward to
painter both on paper and on mud walls in dia’s foremost temple architect. give special attention to this scientific aspect
Saffron tide: Some of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims wait their turn in the temple courtyard to personally worship the Lingam the style of the Warli community of Maha- Hinduism Today interviewed Sthapati of our culture, then it will grow fast. Other-
rashtra; Padam Shri Kirpal Singh Shekha- after the event. He is the architect of Iraivan wise, I will have to do this independently.
By Gitanjali Chak, Lucknow physically challenged, had assembled at the oghar in just twelve hours. Innumerable wat, a painter of the Rajasthan school of Temple, being built at Kauai Aadheenam, The biggest threat to our stone-working tra-
n every monday in the hindu main temple at Deoghar. Chants of “Bol pandas and pujaris (priests) await the pil- Shekhawati who also resurrected the pro- home of Hinduism Today, not to mention dition today is the scarcity and high price of
month of Shravan (July/August), Bam” and “Har Har, Mahadev” filled the air. grims to help them with their worship. They high-quality granite. Many of the best
Deoghar turns into a saffron city, The barefoot devotees braved inclement maintain such a complete database that they stones are being used in road work and oth-
with hundreds of thousands of weather and a tough terrain. They started can tell you if and when any of your ances- er purposes inferior to what we can do.”
devotees clad in orange-shaded the previous day at Sultanganj, 108 kilome- tors visited Babadham. “The success of the school of traditional
robes offering worship to Lord Siva by ters away. There they collected Uttarvahini Each pilgrim is allowed but a few mo- architecture in Mahabalipuram is my great-
bathing the Siva Lingam with water. Ganga water in kanwars, decorated sticks ments to pour his water over the Siva Lin- est achievement,” he said, “because it has
This year a record number pilgrimaged to with pots on each end, and rushed to De- gam and offer sandal paste and rice. They produced knowledgeable people. My father
the temple, one of the famed Jyotir Lingam complete their worship by touch- started the school in 1957, but then passed
Siva temples of India, located 150 miles ing the Lingam, by which they away. I was selected in an open competition
northwest of Kolkata in the newly created hope to have their desires fulfilled. to fill his post. I was principal to 1988. After
state of Jharkhand. By the second Monday, There are 22 temples within the my 54 years as a sthapati, our tradition is
598,000 devotees, including 448,000 men, walled complex, dedicated to dif- now found not only in the streets of Tamil
150,000 women and 60,300 Dak Bams, had ferent Deities, with Lord Siva Nadu, India, but in New York and Washing-
offered the holy water. The Kanwarias, or considered to be the Supreme. ton, D.C. You take it from me that this sci-
pilgrims, are classified into two categories: The top of the Siva Lingam is ence is going to live for another ten thou-
the ordinary ones and the Dak Bams. The slightly broken, that damage as- sand years.” ∏π
Dak Bams are those that reach the Baba cribed to attempts by Ravana, the
Vaidyanath (Siva as “Lord of Physicians”) king of Sri Lanka, to uproot it. Ac- India’s top craftspersons: (above) Dr. A. P.
Mandir without taking any break or eating cording to the story, when Ravana J. Abdul Kalam Azad, President of India,
anything en route, yet radiating an enigmat- was given the Lingam by Lord hands the award to Sri V. Ganapati Stha-
ic inner joy. Siva, he was told not to set it down pati; (left) Sthapati explains his projects to
When the doors of the temple were until he reached Lanka. He did the president—on the poster in the back-
thrown open at 3:15am on the very first not heed this advice, and after ground is the 133-foot tall, 7,000-ton stone
Monday, an eight-kilometer-long queue of Temple complex: Decorative ropes tie the masonry setting it down in Deoghar, was statue of Saint Tiruvalluvar designed and
devotees, including foreigners and even the towers together during the festival days unable to move it again. ∏π built by Sthapati at Kanyakumari

60 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 61
MINISTER’S MESSAGE alize the qualities of motherhood within
themselves. This is the only way to realize

Amma on the Power of our dream of peace and harmony in the
world, and to further progress in life.
No genuine religion will look down upon

Motherhood and Love women. For those who have realized God,
there is no difference between male and fe-
male. If anywhere in the world there exist
rules that prevent women from enjoying
“Women should fulfill their goals in life” their rightful freedom, rules that obstruct
their progress in society, then those are nei-
ther God’s commandments nor the teach-
After presenting the Gandhi-King Award ciety by developing their universal mother- ings of great masters, but are born out of
for Nonviolence to Sri Mata Amritanan- hood, as well as their “masculine” qualities. the selfishness of men. Rather than becom-
damayi Devi on October 7, 2002, Mrs. Jane In one way, it is woman herself who is re- ing rusty, living out their lives inside the
Goodall said, “Amma, the Universal Moth- sponsible for narrowing her own world. four walls of the kitchen, women should
er, has been able to provide love and com- Amma feels that the forthcoming age come out and share with others what they
passion for people throughout the length should be dedicated to awakening universal have to give, and fulfill their goals in life.
and breadth of the world through her lov- motherhood. This is crucially important. Let the coming era be dedicated to the
ing embrace. For the last three decades, The future of humanity lies in the hands of resurrection and awakening of universal
over 21 million people were transformed women. Women everywhere have to actu- motherhood.
into angels by [her] touching their hearts.”
Amma gave the following address to the
g l o b a l p e a c e i n i t i at i v e

Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious
and Spiritual Leaders.

his award is in the name of two great
beings who fearlessly devoted their
lives towards the cause of peace, har-
mony and equality. Amma accepts this
award on behalf of all those who pray and
Spelling it out: Participants gather outside the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to form the letters “P E A C E” work for peace the world over. May this be
an inspiration for people everywhere to re-
CONFLICT RESOLUTION ed Nations) said, “We must find double their efforts in bringing peace to our
ways to ensure that women lead- planet. Gandhiji and Martin Luther King,

Women Launch Peace Initiative ers who play an active role in the
pursuit of peace become the rule
rather than the exception.”
Jr. were able to fulfill their mission in life
not only due to the support they received
from people but because they were pure at
“Even at a three-day confer- heart.
“Politics without spirituality will always fail” ence, progress was made and Women are the power and very founda-
creative ideas emerged to break tion of our existence in the world. When
down barriers and build bridges women lose touch with their real selves,
ive hundred women religious conflict to initiate women-to-women diplo- between peoples in conflict,” says Rev. Joan the harmony of the world ceases to exist,
and spiritual leaders met in Geneva, macy. The Corps will engage in fact finding Brown Campbell, Director of the Depart- and destruction sets in. It is therefore cru-
Switzerland, from October 7 to 9, 2002, that can provide political leaders with dif- ment of Religion of Chautauqua Institution. cial that women everywhere make every
in the first-ever gathering of women ferent insights into everyday realities, cat- The ideas included exchange of religious effort to rediscover their fundamental na-
from all the major religions and faith tradi- alyze women’s peace building initiatives on leaders between countries, protests of ture, for only then can we save this world.
tions from all regions of the world. They an- the ground and open new channels to sup- weapons of mass destruction, development Through their willpower and spiritual
nounced peace-building strategies designed port official diplomacy. funds for women and incorporation of practices, women should overcome their
to ensure that women play a greater role in For example, the women will travel to “peace education” in school curriculums. weaknesses. In the process of striving to
the peace process in regions of conflict. Afghanistan to work with the Ministry of The women agreed that politics without regain their rightful position in society,
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Bud- Women’s Affairs to support women’s educa- spirituality will always fail, thus they called women should never loose their essential

g l o b a l p e a c e i n i t i at i v e
dhist, Sikh, Bahai, Zoroastrian and Indige- tion, training and economic viability to for use of united prayer. nature. This tendency can be seen in many
nous leaders from 75 countries designed five strengthen women’s roles in the rebuilding The Global Peace Initiative of Women is a countries, and will never help women to
actions to focus women’s joint efforts on and healing of Afghanistan. Participants at direct outcome of the Millennium World achieve true freedom. It is impossible to at-
peace. Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, one the Peace Initiative agreed that women are Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual tain real freedom by imitating men. If
of Hinduism’s foremost religious leaders, the force that can reduce the use of religion Leaders that brought over 2,000 pre-eminent women themselves turn their backs on the
was prominent at the meeting [see facing to promote violence. They stressed that religious leaders and their delegations to the feminine principle, this will culminate in
page]. “Women have been silent for too women are natural mediators and concilia- United Nations in New York in August, 2000. the utter failure of women and society.
long, and now we are preparing a united call tors and, indeed, they must play that role be- Less than 15% were women. This led to a Then the problems of the world will not be
for peace, ” says Dena Merriam, Convener, cause armed conflicts now impact women commitment to build a network of accom- resolved, but only aggravated. If women re-
The Global Peace Initiative of Women the most. plished women religious and spiritual leaders, ject their feminine qualities and cultivate Geneva presentation: Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi receives the Gandhi-King Award
( Reinforcing that message, H.E. Sergio along with their counterparts from business only masculine qualities, the imbalance in for Nonviolence at the United Nations General Assembly Hall. The award was presented
The Global Peace Initiative created a Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Com- and government, who can support United the world will only become greater. This is by Jane Goodall, the 2001 winner. On Amma’s left is Sergio Vleeira De Mello, UN High
Women’s Negotiation Corps, a group of in- missioner for Human Rights, in addressing Nations activities aimed at eliminating the not the need of the age. The real need is Commissioner for Human Rights, and to his left is Bawa Jain, Secretary-General of the
ternational women who will visit zones of the meeting at the Palais des Nations (Unit- causes that lead to conflict. ∏π for women to contribute all they can to so- Millennium World Peace Summit.

62 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 63

Thousands gather at “Ground Zero” for rare
purification ceremony after terrorist attack

Purification rites: Balinese women bring offerings to the various
platforms erected at Ground Zero for the ritual of Pemarisudha
Karipubhaya to purify the area after a disaster. The huge explo-
sion took place behind the cameraman’s position, and still de-
murdani usman

stroyed the buildings hundreds of feet away.
murdani usman

ust a little over a month after sion crews.
the bombing of a Bali nightclub which Witnessing the event were over fifty Aus-

daniel mcguire
left 190 from fourteen nations dead, tralians who lost family members in the
“Ground Zero” at Kuta beach is crowd- blast, their airfare and lodgings paid for by
ed elbow to elbow with thousands of the Indonesian government. There were
mourners, here to witness and participate in also a number of Indonesian Muslim victims
a unique Hindu purification ceremony. with their families. At least 1,000 police of-
The throngs of visitors—both native Bali- ficers were on hand to guard the area, with
nese and foreign guests—have come to wit- another 2,800 nearby.
ness a ritual that has not been performed in Nengah Cipta, the secretary general of
Bali in living memory. The ritual is called the organizing committee, told AFP wire
the Pemarisudha Karipubhaya. Its purpose service the ceremony sought the Gods’
is to cleanse and purify the area of malevo- blessing so that life in Bali can return to nor-
lent spirits and toxic energies—and release mal. He said the ceremony would also in-
the survivors from any remaining psycho- volve the symbolic collection of dirt from
logical trauma. the scene of the blast which would be
The Pemarisudha Karipubhaya is held thrown in the sea. “Factually, we will throw
when an area suffers a large number of vio- the dirt into the sea. Philosophically, we will
lent deaths, usually from enemy attack—an throw away feelings of fear, anxiety, etc. The
event absent in the recent history of this va- ocean is believed to be a neutralizer,” Cipta
cation paradise. The car bomb detonated on said before the observations began. The pu-
October 12 by a Muslim extremist, who may rification blessed the souls of the victims of
have links to Al-Qaeda, fits that description. the blasts, “so that they can continue their
The November 15, full-moon ritual spon- journey to another life,” he said.
sored by the Bali Provincial Government in- Balinese hope that, along with cleansing
volved the orchestration of thousands of lo- Ground Zero, a harmonious balance be-
cal Balinese from a dozen villages in and tween sekala (the physical realm) and
around Kuta beach. A number of high stag- niskala (the spiritual realm) will be re-es-
ing platforms were erected to support the tablished. While the purpose of this cere-
weight of offerings brought by pilgrims. One mony is clearly religious in nature, Balinese Ground Zero: (clockwise from
ornate 12-foot-high platform was for the are hoping that it will help jump-start the top left) a foreign tourist kneels
Gods to take their seats as they attend the devastated tourist industry. An event of this in prayer at a shrine; the cere-
ceremony. Balinese gamelan music rang in size, costing over us$70,000 and attended monial grounds surround the
the air, and a dozen dance groups per- by thousands of foreign guests, may indeed crater left by the huge car
formed. Ten high priests were called upon help to restore some faith in Indonesia’s in- bomb; priests conduct rites for
to recite the proper mantras and preside ternal security. It represents a spiritual show purification; many wore this

murdani usman
murdani usman

over the ceremonies. Thousands of temples of force for Bali’s three million Hindus—a bilingual t-shirt saying, “Bali
across the island performed smaller cleans- small percentage of Indonesia’s population loves peace” in English and
ing rituals simultaneously. The ancient of 230 million citizens, 88 percent of whom Bahasa Indonesia
blessings were relayed across the globe by are Muslim. ∏π
scores of international and national televi- B Y D ANIEL M C G UIRE , B ALI

66 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 3 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 67
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Born into a traditional Hindu lineage of astrologers in
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GLOBAL DHARMA CONFERENCE and enjoyed associations with many of India’s most revered
and celebrated saints and sages. With over 45 years of experi- Paintings ● A gallery of heart-melting
July 25-27, 2003 ence, his depth of knowledge and unique understanding
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What is the Goal of the Conference? Tel: 310-476-9942 • Fax: 310-471-3205
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● to introduce the concept and meaning of Dharma to the modern world Om Namah Shivaya
● to bring together students from ancient and modern cultures to deliver the message of Dharma
● to educate the world about our philosophical and cultural heritage based on Dharma
● to establish a network of organizations, institutions and individuals who subscribe to the
concept of Dharma and contribute towards global peace, harmony and progress

To Live Dharma is to achieve Ultimate Human Potential

What is the program like?
A unique event featuring talks and presentations by various leaders/scholars and workshops, demos,
About ants
skits, debates, discussions, songs, social, cultural activities and exhibitions.
● The program starts on Friday, July 25th and ends on Sunday, July 27th. Large group sessions and events
will be held at the Convention Center, while small breakout sessions will be held in the surrounding hotels.
partic ver 20
from o ies are
count ed to
TOUR 2003
ex p e Inner peace for world peace
● The entire event will be an “experiential” fair! this
attend event!
gr a n d Be the change you want to see
Dharma—Path for the New Millenium
● Spiritual leaders of various Indic traditions (including mainstream Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh) such as:
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Sri Sri Ravi Sankar.

● Leaders from many groups practicing different aspects of Dharma such as Yoga, Vegetarianism, Animal Rights,
Environmentalism, Human Rights, etc., such as: Bikram Choudhury, Vandana Shiva.
● Renowned scientists, literary figures, leaders from various fields such as Economics, Health, Politics, Arts & Literature, Mathematics
etc., such as: Deepak Chopra, Fritjof Capra, V.S.Naipaul, S.Gurumurthy.
● Various leaders from ‘Native’ and ‘Elder’ traditions around the world which are rooted in the realm of consciousness and also deeply
connected with nature and earth, such as Native American, Mayan, Pagan, Aboriginal and African Elders, such as: Brother Reuben Sri Mahamandaleshwar Paramahans Swami Maheshwarananda
Theku, Roberto Mucarto Borrero. ● ● tel: 617-698-1106
1308 Centennial Ave, Suite 193, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA
This event is brought to you by Dharma Conference Committee, Inc., primarily organized by Hindu Students Council (HSC)
and Network of Hindu Minds (NetOHM). It is co-sponsored by various independent organizations of young people from Jain,
Buddhist, Sikh, Native American, Mayan, Roma, Pagan, ‘Elders’ and other Nature- and Consciousness-oriented traditions. USA • Canada • Australia • New Zealand
PHONE USA and Canada 703-299-8946
Australia and New Zealand (02) 9518-7788

74 75
Kauai Aadheenam Monastic Endowment Hindu Businessmen's Association Trust Thank You Gurudeva Fund
Gunasekaran Kandasamy 104.57 Hotranatha Ajaya 1,000.00 Mahaletchmy Bungaru 130.55
Arul Karttikeya 497.02 Vel Alahan 395.00 Amarnath Devarmanai 324.00
Mani & Surya Nallasivan 100.00 Paramaseeven Canagasaby 34.08 Kaleinani Larsen 41.00
Nigel Subramaniam Siva 250.00 Vel Mahalingum 14.13 Nitya Nadesan 108.00
Sara K. Sivasurier 79.06 Manogaran Mardemootoo 47.12 Manoharan Navaratnarajah 150.00

Vishwanaden Moorooven
Easvan Param
Michael Nolan
Gassa Patten
Shanta Devi Periasamy
Iraivan Temple Endowment Puvaneswary Roberts 500.00
Marty Fernandes 250.00 Boys School for Iraivan Priesthood Alex Ruberto 30.00
Thirunavukarasu Nayanar Gurukulam—orphanage Murali Krishnaswamy
Mani & Surya Nallasivan
Bala Sivaceyon
Sivadas Sivarajah
Thanaletchmi Umamaheswaran
Rudiren Carpenen Pillay 50.00 Vayudeva Varadan 51.00
This Hindu orphanage is located in Batticaloa of northeastern Sri Lanka. The orphage is known for its Sivadas Sivarajah 20.00 Kauai Aadheenam Matavasi Medical Fund Total 2,152.15
Niraj Thaker 54.00 Gowri Nadason 90.00
outreach programs to surrounding Hindus. In December, 2002, the Gurukulam organized—along with Jeremiah Umakanthan 50.00 Vayudeva Varadan 65.00 Udayan Care Endowment Fund
Other Contributions 30,000.00 Matthew Wieczork 95.00 Christian Langers 150.00
the World Hindu Organization—a Youth Training Religious Camp. The camp spanned six days with 150 Total 30,774.00 Total 250.00 Jutikadevi Sivaraja 108.00
Total 258.00
youth attending. In January, 2003, grants totalling Rs. 182,360 went to this uncommonly active orphan- Kauai Aadheenam Annual Archana Fund Tirunavukkarasu Nayanar Gurukulam
Priya Alahan 58.00 Aran Sendan 51.00 Saivite Hindu Scriptural Fund for the Visually Impaired
age from HHE Fund #12 . Its current balance is $19,918.04. Ashish Suresh Chitnis 108.00 Total 51.00 Mani & Surya Nallasivan 500.00
Banu Devi Deva 129.00 Total 500.00
Ravindra Doorgiat 53.93 Kauai Aadheenam Renovation Endowment
Annapoorani Ganesan 212.54 Mani & Surya Nallasivan 100.00 Sri Chandra Madhab Debnath Endowment
Isanah Kameni 52.60 Total 100.00 Shyamal Chandra Debnath 100.00
Gunasekaran Kandasamy 250.00 Total 100.00
Egilen Koothan 26.97 Sri Subramuniya Kottam Fund
Amravadee Kownden 23.57 Andrew Schoenbaum 40.00 Manitha Neyam Trust Fund
Ravichandran Krishnan 270.00 Total 40.00 Bala Sivaceyon 41.76
Sivakumaran Kurunathan 33.75 Total 41.76
Saroja Devi Manickam 14.00 Kumbhalavalai Ganesha Temple Endowment
Gunalan Nagarajan 209.14 Manoharan Navaratnarajah 75.00 Taos Hanuman Fund
Gunalan Ponniah 104.58 Total 75.00 Kathleen A. Knight 500.00
Chandra Shekharan 224.00 Total 500.00
Yatrikadevi Shivam 250.00 Hindu Orphanage Endowment Fund
Devaladevi Sivaceyon 10.44 Anonymous 6.00 Kapaleeshwara Temple Orphanage
Patudeva Sivaceyon 10.44 Ashish Suresh Chitnis 500.00 Vasudevan Jayanthi 300.00
Potriyan Sivanathan 10.44 Lila Shakti Devi 75.00 Mani & Surya Nallasivan 500.00
Ganesammal Supiah 210.47 Gunasekaran Kandasamy 104.57 Total 800.00
K. S. Thamilarasi 178.92 Ramakumar & Sailaja Kosuru 40.00
Sudha Vinadharan 161.32 Murali Krishnaswamy 250.00 Pazhassi Bala Endowment
Total 2,631.91 Christian Langers 150.00 Niraj Thaker 15.00
Mani & Surya Nallasivan 200.00 Total 15.00
Hinduism Today Distribution Fund Rama Pemmaraju Rao 18.00
Anita Bhattacharjee 78.00 Ganesan & Rajalakshmi Ramalingam 100.00 PIF Trust
Stephanie Corgatelli 259.00 Alex Ruberto 30.00 Gowri Nadason 30.00
Rohit & Bisram Deocharan 99.00 Aran Sendan 51.00 Satya Palani 50.00
Mary Rose Gallagher 132.00 Rodney & Ilene Standen 30.00 Barathy Sockanathan 20.00
From upper left: orphans participating in a bha- Bharti Israni 58.00 Matthew Wieczork 140.00 Total 100.00
Tejaswi S. Kompala 936.00 K.D. & A.D. Williams 1,136.36
jan; enjoying blessed food from a satguru puja; Bina Mehta 756.00 Total 2,830.93
Aaran Mohann 241.50 Total Contributions $51,405.85
worshipping at the mahasamadhi anniversary Govind Nadkarni 1,001.00 Loving Ganesha Distribution Fund
Sagar Kanti Patel 1,001.00 Christian Langers 150.00
altar of Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. Rama Pemmaraju Rao 18.00 Manoharan Navaratnarajah 75.00 Funds at Market Value November 30, 2002
Vijaya Ramakrishna 150.00 Gassa Patten 633.83 Total Endowment Funds $3,198,490.66
Syam P. Reddy 126.00 Sherri Potts & Bruce Ten 20.00 Total Pooled Income Funds $185,202.43
Marilyn Reid 189.00 Total 878.83
Dinesh Sadhwani 198.00 Grand Total $3,383,693.09
Nutanaya Sivaceyon 10.44 Saiva Agamas Trust
Satheesan Sudhakaran 209.00 Matthew Wieczork 60.00
Total 5,463.45 Total 60.00

MISSION STATEMENT: Hindu Heritage Endowment is a publicly supported, charitable organiza-
M a n i t h a N e y a m Tr u s t F u n d tion recognized as tax exempt by the IRS on April 22, 1994. Employer ID 99-0308924. Founded by
During the year 2002, grants totalling Rs. 62,357 were given to the Manitha Neyam Trust for their Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, its philanthropic mission is to provide secure, professionally
project of supporting the Yogar Swamigal Thiruvadi Nilayam in Killinochi. This is a home for the managed financial support for institutions and religious leaders of all lineages of Sanatana Dharma.
elderly founded in 1997 in northern Sri Lanka. The institution originally housed 59 elderly resi- PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS: Halbert, Hargrove/Russell, Investment Counsel; Alvin G. Buchi-
dents. With the escalation of hostilities at Kaithadi in the Thenmarachy area, more elderly citizens gnani, Esq., Legal Counsel; and Hirose, Kato and Co., CPA. HHE is a member of the Council on
were displaced. Most of those uprooted from Kaithadi were taken into the Yogar Swamigal home, Foundations, an association of 1,931 foundations which interprets relevant law and management
increasing the number of residents to 89. The home needs Rs. 250,000 (US$ 2,700) per month to and investment principles.
maintain its present level of services, including medical attention and medicine for the residents. It
also requires approximately Rs. 900,000 (US$ 9,700) for urgent repairs. This is HHE fund #47 with I WANT TO PARTICIPATE. WHERE SHOULD I SEND MY DONATION? You can send your gift to
a balance of $13,621.17. an existing fund, create a new endowment or request information through the address below. Do-
nations may be made online at or use the HHE tear-out card in this magazine
to join our family of benefactors who are Strengthening Hinduism Worldwide. Thank you.

In January 2003 three other Sri Lankan institutions received their first grants from smaller endow- HINDU HERITAGE ENDOWMENT
ments: Sri Subramuniya Kottam of Kopay (Rs. 8,245), Kumbhalavalai Ganesha Temple of Alaved- KAUAI’S HINDU MONASTERY
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82 83
Hawaii’s Pilgrimage Destination
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
tel: 808-822-3012, ext. 237 ● fax: 808-822-4351 TO ORDER: by phone, call (808) 822-3012, X 237 Charge: ❏ Master Card ❏ Visa ❏ Amex ❏ My check is enclosed.
E-mail: / fax (808) 822-4351
Card No. Exp.
OR complete and mail this form to the address below
a POSTERS- $15 USD each, ✱ 2 or more $12.50 each Your Signature:
If contributing by credit card, enter your name below as it appears on card
Aum: (QTY) with message, (QTY) no message
Monks: (QTY) with message, (QTY) no message
Total Posters Total Contribution: $
GREETING CARDS- $24 USD per dz, ✱ 2 or more $20 dz MAILING ADDRESS
Aum: (QTY) with message, (QTY) no message
Monks: (QTY) with message, (QTY) no message
Total Greeting card sets Total Contribution: $
*Please contact us Subtotal $
for International USA & Canada* Shipping add 10% $ MAKE checks in name of and mail to:
shipping fees Total amount enclosed $ Iraivan Hindu Temple, 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, HI 96746 USA
pg 86 DigitDh Apr03 § 1/29/03 3:28 PM Page 86


w w w. at r i b u t e t o h i n d u i s m . c o m
Font Tools! www.omkarananda- Go to the
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PILGRIMAGE pati, Sri Sailam and Live in India for a while!

Magical scores more sacred sites,
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home.html presents all
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Though it is a religious dia’s most beautiful reli- lies as the best part of
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