If you stick to your principles, life becomes meaningful. Otherwise you become a rudderless vessel that is at the mercy of the winds.
Swami Tejomayananda, spiritual head of Chinmaya Mission
Do you realize the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the guru’s role in the evolution of man? It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of guru-tattva. It is therefore not without reason that India, year after year, age after age, commemorates anew this ancient concept of the guru, adores it and pays homage to it again and again, and thereby reaffirms its belief and allegiance to it. Swami Sivananda (1887-1963), founder of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
Hinduism is not a definite dogmatic creed, but a vast, complex and subtly unified mass of spiritual thought and realization. Its tradition of the Godward endeavor of the human spirit has been continuously enlarging through the ages. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), philosopher, statesmen and second President of India
Late I learned that when reason died, then wisdom was born; before that liberation, I had only knowledge. Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), Indian yogi, guru and poet
The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Indian poet and Nobel laureate
We belong to a moment in history when Hinduism is beginning to wake up, if not from a long slumber, then at least a long silence. Bloggers and readers are daring to challenge canonized academics about Hinduphobia. Vamsee Juluri, author
Hinduism has proven much more open to new ideas than any other religion, scientific thought and social experimentation. Many concepts, like reincarnation, meditation, yoga and others, have found worldwide acceptance. It would not be surprising to find Hinduism the dominant religion of the 21st-century. Klaus L. Klostermaier, professor of religious studies at the University of Manitoba
In centuries to come, he will be remembered as one of the main molders of the modern world. Arthur Llewellyn Basham (1914-1986), historian and indologist, speaking about Swami Vivekananda
What are you going to do with the money you accumulate? Can you increase your lifespan even for a day? Give generously when you can. Satguru Siva Yogaswami (1872-1964), renowned Sri Lankan guru
To attain stillness of speech and thought at once is mauna. Mauna with speech alone is but a state of dumbness. Only when speech and thought are alike in mauna are you in a state of perfection. Tirumantiram 1896
Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th US President
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968), leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement
All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really one. Black Elk (1863-1950), medicine man of the Oglala Lakota tribe
The Hindu mind represents humanity’s oldest and most continuous stream of conscious intelligence on the planet. Hindu sages, seers, saints, yogis and jnanis have maintained an unbroken current of awareness linking humanity with the Divine since the dawn of history, and as carried over from earlier cycles of civilization in previous humanities unknown to our present spiritually limited culture. Vamadeva Shastri, Western-born Vedic scholar
Keep working to accept everything in life, including accepting that it’s hard to accept some things. Anonymous
If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us. Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), German novelist
If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both. Bodhidharma, fifth-century Buddhist monk
If we get angry now and then, let’s try and eliminate anger altogether. If we get impatient with people who seem to explain things at great length when it could be explained in a short way, let’s learn how not to get impatient. Let us learn how to accept that it is their nature. Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, publisher of HINDUISM TODAY
It is the unique and all-encompassing nature of Hinduism that one devotee may be worshiping Ganesha while his friend worships Subramaniam or Vishnu, and yet both honor the other’s choice and feel no sense of conflict. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of HINDUISM TODAY
D I D Y O U K N O W ?
SAID TO BE FOUNDED BY AGASTHYA BUT of unknown antiquity, Siddha is a traditional system of Tamil medicine that in many ways parallels ayurveda. This mystical system was verbally handed down through history, from master to disciple, throughout the ages.
It is believed the clarified intellect and heightened intuition of the Siddha practitioners resulted from their yogic practices. This enhanced their observations of the natural world, enabling them to use the many resources around them for medical treatments. Their findings on the characteristics of plants, metals, minerals and animal products, along with their knowledge of the properties of drugs and their purification, processing, dosages, toxicity, antidotes and clinical applications, were preserved for future generations in the form of oral verses.
Eventually this spoken tradition was transcribed on palm leaf manuscripts that still serve as the major repository of Siddha knowledge.
According to the Siddha system, the human body consists of the five primordial elements (earth, water, fire, air and space), the three humors (vata, pitta and kapha), and seven physical constituents. Food, the foundational material of the human body, gets processed into bodily humors (blood, bile, etc.), tissues and wastes. An equilibrium of the humors brings good health and their imbalance leads to disease. The five senses are said to correspond with the five elements. Ether is responsible for hearing, air for sense of touch, fire for sight, water for taste and earth for the sense of smell.
Siddha prescriptions are drawn from herbs, inorganic substances and animal products. One example of an herbal remedy, taken for stress and fatigue, is ingesting the leaves and fruit of arogyapacha (Trichopus zeylanicus), literally “The green that gives strength.” Known for its ability to improve stamina, boost the immune system and metabolism, arogyapacha is also prescribed for liver disease and stomach ulcers.
Current research of palm-leaf manuscripts by the Indian government may bring to light new methods for preparation of medicines, promising valuable contributions to the modern medical world.
B A S I C S
GIVING GARLANDS TO GOD
AROMATIC, COLORFUL, AWE-INSPIRING—a murti adorned with garlands publicly acknowledges the Deity’s importance and creates a pleasing atmosphere for worship. In Hinduism, where flowers have a pivotal and traditional role in puja, the Gods are decorated with vestments, garlands made from fragrant and non-fragrant flowers, as well as religiously significant leaves, grasses, fruit and money.
Garlands can be classified by style depending on the pattern and materials used. In Tamil language, the two main types are thodutha and kortha. Thodutha maalai “garlands of fiber”—are usually made with banana tree fibers. Kortha maalai, using Jasmine, lotus and other species, are made with needle and thread.
Historically, Hindu temples have had their own flower gardens, where plants and trees are grown specifically for garlands. Madurai Meenakshi, Tiruchendur and Akshardham temples still preserve such gardens for everyday rituals. The garlands for Srirangam Ranganathar temple, a massive Vishnu temple in Tamil Nadu, are made only by temple sattharars—people who surrender their life to service and never marry.
Traditional rules for garland-making include not smelling the flowers, picking them only after bathing, performing japa or devotional singing while harvesting and never using flowers that have fallen to the ground.
When devotees see a garland-bedecked Deity, they are brought into a state of wonderment, allowing the Deity’s vibration to energize and uplift their aura. Put your prana (vital energy) into what you offer. Prana exudes from your hands as you work creatively. Buying a garland is good, but making one is even better. When the priest puts your handmade garland on the murti, it’s almost as if you are touching the Deity yourself.