Sunday, November 17, 2013
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886)
Thursday, October 10, 2013
The Journey of Caribbean Hindus
The abolition of the slave trade created a labor shortage that threatened the survival of the Caribbean plantation economy, particularly in the larger European colonies like Trinidad and Guyana. Africans were not willing to subject themselves voluntarily to the oppressive conditions of life on the plantations, and experiments with workers from Madeira and China were unsuccessful. India proved to be the most reliable source of willing laborers with the required skills. It provided a steady stream of immigrants from 1838, the year the first group of 396 Indians arrived in Guyana, until 1917 when indentured Indian immigration was finally abolished. By that time, 238,909 Indians had migrated to Guyana and 143,939 to Trinidad. Most of them came from districts in the North Indian states of Bihar and the United Province. A significant proportion of these immigrants chose to return to India after completing the terms of their contracts. Seventy-one percent of those who made the arduous journey around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Atlantic chose to make their homes in the Caribbean. Their choice is the reason for our presence in New York City today.
Along with their physical skills and knowledge of sugar cultivation, Hindu immigrants introduced to the Caribbean the essential elements of one of the world's most ancient, culturally rich and philosophically sophisticated cultures. The insights and achievements of India found expression in the songs, dances, myths, stories and religious texts transported in the memories and meager belongings of the immigrants. Immigrants to the Caribbean, and specifically immigrants to Guyana, were the first to sow in the soil of the western world the seeds of Hindu consciousness and way of life that had evolved in Asia. Fifty-five years before Swami Vivekananda spoke at the Parliament of World Religions in 1893 in Chicago, Hinduism was being practiced in the Caribbean.
This remarkable story of the survival of the Hindu tradition remains to be narrated properly. It is the story of religious survival in the midst of abject poverty and no official support for their religious and cultural wellbeing. The broader community viewed them with suspicious and schizophrenic eyes. While they were required for their physical skills on the sugar plantations, their beliefs, ceremonies of worship, life-cycle rituals and sacred narratives were denounced as superstitious and unenlightened. The reasons for the perception and treatment of Hindu religion and culture as inferior and backward are many. The principal reason will be found in the fact that the dominant values of the Caribbean were those of western Christian Europe. Those who judged Hinduism by these values proclaimed it to be different and inferior.
They were correct about the fact that the Hindu traditions are different, but wrong in denouncing it as inferior because of being different. There are several important ways in which Hindu traditions differed from dominant religion of Christianity.
In contrast to most forms of Christianity, which are very exclusive in their understanding of revelation and salvation, the Hindu tradition understood revelation in pluralistic ways. Hinduism affirms the oneness of the divine, but does not limit divine revelation to one historical moment or person. It portrays the one divine in many forms and describes it with many names.
While introducing new sacred texts to the Caribbean, like the Vedas and the Ramayana, Hindu immigrants also brought with them ancient murti or iconographic representations of God. The use of these in rituals and festivals brought forth charges of idolatry and polytheism from a Christian-influenced culture that was hostile to the imaging of the divine in material forms.
In addition, the understanding of God as immanent in all things led to a reverence for nature that was wrongly perceived as pantheistic. All of these contrasts were accentuated further by differences in language, dress, and diet. In the midst of hostility and pressures to convert, the Hindu tradition endured and, in many cases, even flourished.
The Journey to America
In the mid-1960's Hindus from the Caribbean, embarked on another significant historical journey. Driven by political fears and economic uncertainties Hindus, especially from Guyana, migrated in significant numbers to North America. It is story of migration with empty pockets, long years of separation from family, relentless efforts to gain an education and untold hours of hard work. These Hindus from the Caribbean are among the first to construct places of Hindu worship and to establish the tradition on the soil of the United States and Canada.
The migration of Hindus from the Caribbean to North America brought new challenges and some old ones persisted. Many of these challenges are shared with Hindus whose roots are in other parts of the world, including India, Africa, Fiji, Mauritius and Afghanistan.
Three challenges for Hindus in America
Being a Religious Minority
While the number of Hindus in North America has been increasing, Hindus still constitute a small percentage of the total population of the United States and Canada. The preservation and transmission of religious values become increasingly difficult when these have to be done in a context where the norms of the dominant culture are different and in some instances in conflict with Hindu ideals. Our children are exposed to a variety of religious and cultural choices. Minorities wrestle, more than others, with issues of identity and carry a greater burden of self-explanation. The children of minorities often seek the acceptance and approval of the majority community and, for this reason, may be more willing to accept the values of this community, even when these contradict their own. Americans still know very little about Hinduism and many of the predominant images are negative.
The separation of religion and culture in America
Our historical context is also unique for another important reason. Historically, Hinduism has embraced both religion and culture and the disentanglement of one from the other is quite difficult. It is significant that there is no Sanskrit equivalent for the word, "religion," and the term, dharma, which is sometimes equated with "religion", is far more inclusive. The detachment of religion and culture, however, is rapidly becoming a reality in the experience of a new generation of Hindus born in the western world. The unity of religion and culture is being severed and the traditionally pervasive influence of Hinduism is relegated to fewer areas of life. Musical tastes, cuisine, recreational activities, and dress are increasingly influenced by sources outside of the Hindu tradition. This separation of religion and culture, presents us with challenges and questions. How will the Hindu tradition develop and thrive in a context in which it does not exert a pervasive cultural influence? What forms will it assume and what would it mean to be a Hindu? Will it be limited to ritualistic practices in the home and temple? What will be its public character, if any? This problem of the separation of religion and culture was less acute in the Caribbean.
The growing separation between religion and culture highlights a third feature and challenge of our new context. The unity of religion and culture, to which I have already referred, minimized the need for special agencies for the transmission of the tradition. It was correctly assumed that a child would receive the necessary religious exposure by the mere fact of growing up in a particular community where Hindu traditions were embedded in the culture. When I was a child attending an Arya Samaj primary school, we used to recite a series of questions and answers about Hinduism from a small text. One of the questions was, "Why are you a Hindu?" and the answer following was, "Because I was born a Hindu." It may have been a good answer in that time, but I am not sure that it will work for a new generation today. For the first time, increasing numbers of Hindus will be Hindus by choice and will have to be reconverted or converted to Hinduism.
Ten needs of Hindus in America
One of the imperatives for confronting our contemporary challenges is Hindu unity. Religious divisions that would hardly cause a ripple in a population of 800 million in India become major fractures when that population is a minority. There is an urgent need for a coming to together of the different traditions of Hinduism to reflect on and to affirm the common aspects of our Hindu heritage. This unity about which I speak is not one that requires the overlooking or elimination of differences of doctrine and practice that exist among us. Hindu unity, however, will certainly enable us to better utilize our limited resources and speak with a common voice on matters of shared concern.
The traditional feud between Sanatanists and Arya Samajists has taken its toll on Caribbean Hinduism. Hindu unity requires that these two traditions (sampradayas) be in dialogue with each other. It is sad that Hindus often find it easier to engage in dialogue with persons of other faiths than with fellow Hindus. Certainly our Arya Samaj brothers and sisters can appreciate the positive nature of many post-Vedic developments in Hinduism and the profound theology of grace that underlies the use of murtis (icons) in puja (worship). At the same time, Sanatanist Hindus can see Swami Dayananda Saraswati as one of the great reformers of our tradition who renewed the significance of the Vedas and sought to rejuvenate Hinduism. 19th century issues should not continue to divide us today, but a generosity of heart on both sides is necessary along with a renewed emphasis on what we share.
Greater focus on jñana (wisdom)
We must have a deeper focus on and appreciation for the wisdom or jñana dimension of our tradition. It is accurate to say that in the transmission of the tradition the emphasis, historically, has been on orthopraxis, with a focus on ritual worship. In the western world, however, Hindus are increasingly challenged to articulate and transmit their tradition in a manner that places more emphasis on its fundamental teachings. If we desire young Hindus to commit themselves to this tradition, we will have to convince them of its worth by a reasonable explanation of its teachings in relation to other competing views.
The number of dedicated Hindu educators are too few.
Traditionally, Hinduism distinguished between the function of the ritual specialist and the religious teacher or educator. The ritual specialist is the purohita or pujari who officiated in home and temple rituals and whose training consisted primarily in the recitation of mantras and the performance of ritual. The pujari did not function as a teacher.
Rambachan leading a Diwali (Festival of Lights" service. Photo illustration by A Journey through NYC religions/Khant Khant Kyaw
The guru or acharya is the teacher of wisdom. These teachers were, in many cases, though not all, monks (sannyasins) and their training was entirely different. They were trained in the authoritative Hindu texts such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita.
During the migration of Hindus from India to the Caribbean, many purohitas came, but few acharyas. Caribbean purohitas have done a remarkable job in developing the skills to be both ritual specialists and teachers and deserve much commendation. In many cases such skills were developed through individual initiative; in others cases by discipleship and study with a guru. The field of human knowledge, however, has grown and the wisdom and skills required to be an effective Hindu teacher are more than anyone can develop on his or her own initiative or through study with a single teacher. The Hindu teachers and educators who are needed today must be well-versed, not only in the traditions of Hinduism but also in the major trends of contemporary intellectual discourse in the various branches of human knowledge so that they could provide coherent, rational and articulate interpretations of Hinduism, We will need to work to establish institutions and design curricula where such training is afforded to students with the proper religious and intellectual aptitudes.
An expanded temple role
The new context and challenges require an expanded role for the traditional Hindu temple. The traditional Hindu temple is primarily a place of worship where the sacred murti is housed. We visit our temples for darshana (to see the murti), and to offer ritual worship (puja). Preserving this central purpose, our temples must increasingly become centers of teaching and learning about the Hindu tradition, ensuring the successful transmission of the tradition from one generation to another.
Since we cannot guarantee that a Hindu child will be Hindu by the fact of birth alone, temples must become the centers where age appropriate teaching is conducted. This is already happening in many temples and resources must be shared. The temple as a center of teaching must now complement the temple as a center of worship. Caribbean Hindus have strengthened the congregational forms of temple worship and these forms continue to serve the community well.
Monday, September 30, 2013
-- Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati (1912-1954), 34th pontiff of the Sarada Peetham
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
INDIA, September 2013,By Richard S Enrlich (RNS): A new public campaign in India uses powerful images of three Hindu goddesses with bruised faces to raise awareness about violence against women.
The ad campaign is titled "Abused Goddesses" and portrays the beaten faces of three Hindu female deities: Saraswati, Durga and Lakshmi [not with paintings, but with real models]. "Today more than 68 percent of women in India are victims of domestic violence," the caption reads. "Tomorrow it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to," the posters say. "Pray that we never see this day."
The ads were created to raise funds for Save Our Sisters, an initiative of Save the Children India that "works to prevent the trafficking of young girls and women for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation," according to the organization's website. "SOS also works as an advocacy group that sensitizes stakeholders such as the police, magistrates, tourism boards, and other government officials."
Very interesting article from the ever informative book, ''What is Hinduism''.
Be sincere, honest and ethical and truth will sit on your side.
''In Hinduism, believing in God is only a first step toward an ever-deepening personal experience of God.....'' (Click link to continue reading and to download the pdf file).
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
If you are ever feeling unease, please repeat a Shanti Mantra, even if its, ''Om Shanti Om'', feel it and be it.
The Shanti Mantras or "Peace Mantras" are Hindu prayers for Peace (Shanti) from the Vedas. Generally they are recited at the beginning and end of religious rituals and discourses.
Shanti Mantras always end with three utterances of word "Shanti" which means "Peace". The Reason for uttering three times is for calming and removing obstacles in three realms which are:
- "Physical" or Adhi-Bhautika,
- "Divine" or Adhi-Daivika and
- "Internal" or Adhyaatmika
According to the scriptures of Hinduism sources of obstacles and troubles are in these three realms.
- Physical or Adhi-Bhautika realm can be source of troubles/obstacles coming from external world, such as from wild animals, people, natural calamities etc.
- Divine or Adhi-Daivika realm can be source of troubles/obstacles coming from extra-sensory world of spirits, ghosts, deities, demigods/angels etc.
- Internal or Adhyaatmika realm is source of troubles/obstacles arising out of one's own body and mind, such as pain, diseases, laziness, absent-mindedness etc.
These are called "Tapa-Traya" or three classes of troubles. When Shanti mantras are recited, obstacles from these realms are believed to be pacified.
oṃ vāṅ me manasi pratiṣṭhitā mano me vāci pratiṣṭhita-māvīrāvīrma edhi | vedasya ma āṇisthaḥ śrutaṃ me mā prahāsīranenādhītenāhorātrān saṃdadhāmyṛtam vadiṣyāmi satyaṃ vadiṣyāmi tanmāmavatu tadvaktāramavatvavatu māmavatu vaktāramavatu vaktāram | oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ||
Om ! May my speech be based on (i.e. accord with) the mind; May my mind be based on speech. O Self-effulgent One, reveal Thyself to me. May you both (speech and mind) be the carriers of the Veda to me. May not all that I have heard depart from me. I shall join together (i.e. obliterate the difference of) day And night through this study. I shall utter what is verbally true; I shall utter what is mentally true. May that (Brahman) protect me; May That protect the speaker (i.e. the teacher), may That protect me; May that protect the speaker – may That protect the speaker. Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !
Monday, September 16, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
-- Sri Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Spiritual Guru of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886)
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
-- Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), founder of Self Realization Fellowship
Friday, March 29, 2013
The body is mortal, but he who dwells in the body is said to be immortal and immeasurable – Bhagavad Gita
When the senses contact sense objects, we experience cold or heat, pleasure or pain. These are fleeting; they come and go. Bear them patiently.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
Friday, March 22, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993), founder of Chinmaya Mission
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)
Friday, March 15, 2013
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Friday, March 8, 2013
Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Thursday, February 28, 2013
-- Ramana Maharshi, (1879-1950), South Indian mystic
Ramana Maharshi is widely acknowledged as being one of the outstanding Indian Gurus of modern times. He was born in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, named Venkataraman Iyer. At the age of sixteen, Venkataraman became enlightened.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Original Source: http://www.hindu-blog.com/2013/02/sadhu-vaswani-wise-words.html
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
Thursday, February 21, 2013
-- An old Hindu legend
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Monday, February 4, 2013
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Friday, February 1, 2013
-- Swami Chidananda (1916-2008), president of Divine Life Society
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Om Aim Saraswati Namaha.
Who is this elegant and pure site to behold? Why does she have a swan as her vehicle? What does she do in relations to the other forms of God within Hinduism? Where can I learn more?
Behold your quest for knowledge as an inclination of your inward journey. Below information will be fruitful for any spiritual aspirant as the details reflect our personal lives through personifications.
The best way to climb is always the simplest way, meditate on what you have read. read something, dont think about it, but rather close your eyes and look within.
Regarding Saraswati, you can read about her in various scriptures within Hinduism. For example the Srimad Devi Bhagvat talks about her various stories and how she came to be.
An even easier place to read about her is online of course;
I skimmed through wikipedia and its well written so its a good source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati.
http://hinduism.about.com/od/hindugoddesses/p/saraswati.htm this is also good.
There are many puranas that show her stories as well but you can also here some information from my side.
Growing up as a Hindu you were taught to pray and meditate upon Saraswati Mata, it was to do good in school as she is coined as the Goddess of learning. But we associate her with school and learning etc. But she also tames our mind, speech and intellect to become deeper thinkers. Her abilities control our very own thoughts, before a speech, writing a paper or something where I know speech can effect the outcome, I pray and meditate upon her.
Many artists pay homage to her before playing any instrument, even classical dancers like my wife.
She plays a major part in many of the ithihas (or history) of Hindu scriptures.
But when you are trying to tame your mind and speech, Saraswati Mata will help. But heed my great advice, do not approach her with wants or needs, do not ask for things (yes we tend to do this sometimes). God knows the past, present and future, what you may want may not be good for you or in a loving benefit towards your path. We must meditate upon the pure form of the Ishta Dev we are inclined too, but if you dont have one, no worries. You can meditate upon the Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmaa etc.).
Some more important information below;
I found this on yahoo as well regarding the Swan;
The sacred swan, if offered a mixture of milk and water, is said to be able to drink the milk alone. The swan thus symbolizes discrimination between the good and the bad or the eternal and the transient.
Sometimes she is shown riding a peacock. The peacock represents arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount, the goddess teaches not to be concerned with external appearance and to be wise regarding the eternal truth.
Hamsa, or Swan, is the vehicle of Hindu Goddess Saraswathi. In Hinduism, Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, learning and art. Interestingly, a Hindu saint who rises above the thoughts of death and birth and constantly meditates on Brahman is referred as Parama Hamsa.
A famous shloka on Hamsa talks about the symbolism and significance of this majestic bird.
'Oh! Hamsa! Being the auspicious vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi, you carry learning and art upon your shoulders. Give us that discriminating wisdom for which you are famous, such as your proverbial ability to separate the substance of milk from water.'
Swan can glide on water without getting its feathers wet. With the help of Brahman knowledge we can live in the materialistic world without accumulating dusts of materialism.
Swan can also soar up into the sky from the water body. This symbolizes the need to easily rise above earthly ties. A true yogi needs to perfect these two qualities.
But the greatest quality of Swan is its capacity to separate milk from water. With Brahman knowledge, a person is capable of adapting this quality of Swan and it will help him to swim across the ocean of 'Samsara.'
The white color of the swan is also the symbol of excellence. In Hindu mythology, the white colored Hamsa, the vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi, lives in the Manasarovar Lake near the Kailash Mountain. In mythology, the bird is mute and its diet consists of pearls.
Om Swaraswati Mata Namaha
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Friday, January 18, 2013
INDIA, December 11, 2012 (boldsky.com ):
In Hindu marriages, several cultures have different customs that vary from state to state. These rituals have been passed on through the ages and still carry forward to the next generation. In Hindu marriages, you can find a few things in common. For example, engagement, mehendi, wedding and reception are ceremonies that are commonly followed in most parts of the country.
Mehendi is a pre-wedding ceremony that is very popular in the Northern states of the country. However, the trend of applying mehendi on the hands and feet has become a common trend in the East, West and Southern states too. Earlier, mehendi was applied as nua (coloring fingertips and center of palm) but with the trend of drawing, it has become an art. Mehendi signifies the bond of matrimony. It is considered as a shagun (omen) in Hindu marriages. Mehendi was originally used only during weddings. But with the growing popularity and importance of mehendi, women have started applying it on special Hindu occasions and festivals like Karva Chauth, Navratri, Rakhi and Diwali.
Original Link: http://www.boldsky.com/yoga-spirituality/faith-mysticism/2012/significance-mehendi-hindu-marriages-031712.html
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Dont forget to check out the new Issue!
Please take a moment to visit HAF (Hindu American Foundation). We have spoken about HAF on this blog before but please note their great support and work through peace and determination. If you can also donate, will be great as well.
I like HAF for many reasons, but the main one is due to their promotion of Pluralism. Pluralism is tolerance and understanding for one and all.
Jai Shri Krishna,
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Namaste, Hari Om,
''201. Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. He who has given up both victory and defeat, he, the contented, is happy.'' -Dhammapadda
To often we are let down by some and fall into emotional states such as depression, anger, and even hatred.
Even expectations from food, objects and places can effect our emotions. If our emotions are affected we often lose sight of our true spiritual goals.
Before we allow our minds to fall into this state we need to calibrate or set our expectations in life.
How do you unlock this secret to happiness? How do we set our expectations so that no event can pull us to emotional extremes?
The answer is easy, its found in the Bhagvadgita as mentioned by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar below.
Be contented with whatever comes to you
Bangalore, March 03, 2012
Q: Guruji, please talk about gratitude. You have said that the more gratitude we have the more grace flows into our lives. How do I become more grateful every day?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all drop this more. More devotion, more gratitude, more joy, more happiness, we need to drop this, ‘I want more and more. First you are thinking, ‘I want more money, more joy, more happiness and more pleasure.’ Then you shifted your tendency to wanting more peace, more knowledge, more of this and more of that. As long as you are in the run for more, you are not going to settle. Unless you settle, there is neither peace nor grace. Got it?! So somewhere you should take this whole ‘I want more’ thing and dump it and say ‘okay, that is it! It is said in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Yadrccha-labha-santusto Dvandvatito Vimatsarah.’ Whatever is coming to you, you should have some level of contentment and with contentment comes gratitude. If you are discontent, how can you be grateful? If you are grumbling, you can’t be grateful, and if you are not grateful, how can there be grace? Do you see what I am saying? It all fits one into another. So now, don’t ask me how can one be more grateful? Just stop complaining! Know that this whole life is like a dream. It is all going to end and everything is going to finish one day. This very awareness will bring a shift in you. ‘This story is going to end someday and the curtains are going to fall’, knowing this suddenly a shift happens from the run to having more to contentment. It will come to that.
This is the answer to 99% of life's problems. Do not get effected by life's turns and bumps. Having single pointed faith will help you climb mountains. Always remain content.
More info and the source for the above picture at: http://phong.com/journal/dhammapada-on-contentment/
Friday, January 4, 2013
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Namaste, Hari Om,
What are the 108 names of Lord Ganesh?
Click here to find out click below:
Hindu-blog.com: Frustrations and nervous breakdowns are the end of a self-centered life – Swami Ranganathananda Sayings
The same person, after achievement is over, must begin to think of other higher things. Then he or she slowly withdraws one's mind from action and achievement. There is something I have missed, my own true nature.
Let me try to realize this truth. How can we find joy in work? By working for oneself? No; it is not possible to find that continuous joy in work through selfish motivations. Frustration and ennui are the end of all selfish motivations.
Frustrations and nervous breakdowns are the end of a self-centered life. It is from the human mind itself that both good and evil come. So, a little attention as to how the mind is behaving, in the context of work, is absolutely essential for all people today.
Otherwise, collective life will become difficult, group life will become difficult; life between husband and wife will become difficult, because both, or either of them, has not looked into the mind at all; they have been looking outside all the time.