Following the Rules
I am saddened that UC Irvine has rejected the generous gift offered by the Thakkar family and the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) for the creation of an endowed chair focused on Vedic and Indian Civilization Studies. Apparently the rejection was considered necessary because no chair donor is allowed to require that the chair holder be of a certain religion—while the DCF’s proposed qualifications were deemed by the university to ensure that only a Hindu would qualify.
To be sure, many religions are represented in modern Indian civilization—though India is and always has been predominantly Hindu. Perhaps the DCF erred in not using the term Hindu Studies, which would have put it on a par with the many university departments in Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, etc. Surely a chair of Jewish Studies must be deeply familiar with Jewish tradition, including the Hebrew language! Surely a chair of Islamic Studies must be deeply familiar with Islamic tradition and the language of the Koran! Yet when Hinduism is taught at all in US schools and universities, it is generally presented by non-Hindus. Can anyone imagine a Catholic chairing a department in Muslim Studies—or vice versa? Hindus want and deserve the same respectful treatment that is routinely granted by American universities to every other religious group in America. In a nation founded on the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state, a public university—if it is to teach about religions at all—must surely treat all with equal respect.
I believe UC Irvine’s decision was made in good faith; they had to follow the rules. If the university were offered an endowed chair in Hindu Studies, I am confident the response would be more positive, and the qualifications proposed by the DCF would be judged fully appropriate in that context. But should UC Irvine still refuse such a gift, I hope the DCF will turn their attention to other universities. Rutgers University’s website, for instance, advertises an “18-chair challenge,” in which an anonymous donor has pledged $27 million, intended to match others’ donations for the endowment of 18 chairs.
I should think the offer of an endowed chair in Hindu Studies would be irresistible. The recipient would join Oxford as one of only three universities outside India with such a department, so far as I can tell from a Google search (English language only).
Kauai, Hawaii, us
Teaching the Next Generation
I’m a devout Hindu. Every morning when I read the news, I ask myself, “Where is our society heading?” “Why so much decay?” When I see so many of our kids and youngsters becoming victims of an increasing number of social ills, I ask myself if we could have avoided all this or at least minimized its impact had we set our kids on the path of spirituality and religion right from the start.
Everyone asks what my country or community can do for me. But when I ask myself what can I do for my community and especially the younger generation, I strongly believe that if we can set up the right structure and impart the extraordinary treasures of Hinduism at a young age, we can surely guide our kids not only to become good Hindus, but also to become role models for society at large.
As such, I would like to start formal classes to teach Hinduism to kids, ideally from the age of six. However, given the complexity of the various Hindu scriptures, I know the task is quite challenging. On this very auspicious day of Mahasivaratri, I humbly request your assistance in setting up a proper structure with a formal syllabus of teaching.
The Cambell Plan Book Review
Thank you so much for publishing the review of the amazing book, The Campbell Plan. The moment I read the review I ordered and read it. The Campbell Plan is an amazing book about food and our health.
In the modern world, with an array of diets and health issues, what we eat every day has become complicated. Author Dr. Thomas Campbell clearly explains everything from plant-based foods to nutrition and the effects of eating animal products to wholesome plant-based recipes. Many Hindu vegetarians assume their diet is nourishing and healthy.
The majority of Hindu vegetarians thrive on white rice, breads made with refined flour, and season vegetable and lentils with lots of refined oil. Milk in India is brimming with chemicals and harmful hormones. According to numerous studies, lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, are caused by a diet rich in animal products, such as meat, processed food items, and refined products such as, all-purpose flour, sugar and cooking oil.
Today, India is the diabetes capital of the world. Study after study has shown that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits will reduce the risk of chronic diseases. According to Healthy Eating Plate, created by Harvard School of Public Health, half of our meals should consist of vegetables and fruits.
With some minor changes, Hindu vegetarians can lead a healthy lifestyle by substituting brown or red rice for white rice, substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, and reducing cooking oil. Meditating, pranayama (breath control) and doing some yoga every day is also great for a healthy body and mind.
Atlanta, Georgia, us
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece, “Hindu Philosophies” in the April/May/June, 2016, issue. The reason we have so many philosophies is because of the declaration thundered by the Rig Veda, “Truth is one; sages express it variously,” in Sanskrit, “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti.” However, if truth is one, then there cannot be three entities, namely, God, soul, and world. Thus monism, advaita, which perceives a unity of God, soul, and world, is the only philosophy that sounds logical and rational. Advaita teaches, “All this is Brahman” or “Sarvam khilvidam Brahman,” which means that God, soul and world are nothing but manifestations of Brahman, just as the waves, bubbles and foams of an ocean are nothing but manifestations of the ocean.
Albany, California, us
What Hinduism Means to Me
I like Hinduism Today magazine. I want to clarify that the word Hinduism represents all faiths and religions of a geographical area of southeast Asia known as India or Bharat, or earlier also known as Hindustan.
Hinduism represents all minority or majority believers of different faiths. Hinduism is an ocean where rivers of all faiths comes to commingle with it. It stands for unity in diversity of different faiths. The majority of believers in India are sanatanis which emerged from the Vedas. Also this path is known as Vedic Dharma. Swami Vivekananda preferred to call it Vedantic. Therefore, my humble request to all is that we must clearly understand this and not confuse Sanatan Dharma with Hinduism.
Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Connecting Past and Future
Embracing our millennia-old faith with contemporary wisdom, Hinduism Today is unique in capturing the hearts of many generations during this global renaissance of the eternal truths. Nandri, Hinduism Today team!
On March 5, 2016, all roads in northwestern Austin led to one place: the Brushy Creek Community Center. It is here we celebrated the International Women’s Festival. From the impressive turnout, there is no doubt in our Indian community that every event organized by our beloved local trio, Rasna, Kalyani and Bhavani (Memories and Events, Austin) is an evolving thread that binds together the hearts of us all.
There’s nothing quite like returning back to our nostalgic memories of silk kurtis, dangling earrings and embroidered tops. This event was an adventuresome expression of honoring our shared sisterhood in a foreign land. One of the main parts of the event was the mother-daughter dances (photo at right) done to the remixes of our local DJ Nish. The bonds of mother and daughter and of friendship were an essential feature highlighting the day.
The exhibition stalls held their own with displays of jewelry, baked goods, handicrafts and ethnic Indian garments. We flocked there to buy Punjabi suits, breezy skirts, tops and colorful saris. The aromatic food enticed the crowds, offering stiff competition to the cultural offerings on stage. As the sun began to set on the beautiful community center, the crowds eagerly settled down to dinner, relishing the vast variety of culinary delights. Everyone left with the feeling of having been treated as a beloved guest.
Austin, Texas, us
✔ Readers have asked for the address of the Sita Ram Bank in Ayodhya. It is:
Antarrashtriy Sri Sitaram Naam Bank,
Opposite Sri Maniram Das Chhavani Sewa Trust,
Uttar Pradesh: 224 123 India
Dispensing Scriptures’ Gold
How to help light find its way to people’s hearts
I had the good fortune to grow up surrounded by holy books and by people who loved them,” Mr. Asan Tejwani recalls of his early life in Sindh. His fondness for scripture has remained with him and given him a passion for gyan daan, the giving of holy books and sharing of words of wisdom.
Asan moved to the USA in 1964, worked in structural engineering, then in financial services, and is retired today. When he is not traveling, which he does a great deal of, he participates in charitable activities, maintains an email list to whom he sends daily inspired messages and—as ever—gives away lots and lots of books.
“I have given thousands of them to libraries and individuals,” he explains, “including hundreds of books by Gurudeva (founder of Hinduism Today), and thousands of Hinduism Today‘s history lessons. It is my constant and blessed sacrifice. You never know when a holy word will find its way to someone’s heart.”
In Hinduism Today, Asan has found a fellow dispenser of teachings. “The magazine has picked up the spirit of Swami Vivekananda, articulating the Hindu renaissance in a way that welcomes, includes and uplifts everyone, showing the divine essence of us all. It is inclusivist, not exclusivist. This is gold.”
Mr. Tejwani is especially passionate in holding that, because their teachings on ahimsa, love, acceptance and tolerance are so clear, the Hindu people themselves inherit a special responsibility to be outstanding examples of those qualities.
“Ancient scripture tells us, dharmo rakshati rakshitaha, dharma protects those who protect it. We protect ourselves and our progeny when we promote and live dharma. Hinduism Today is a constant supporter of this concept, and that is why I support it.”
Mr. Tejwani has given generously to the Hinduism Today Production Fund, which is a part of Hindu Heritage Endowment. Recently, he has also made it a beneficiary in his estate plan.
“I want to do all I can to help the magazine reach as many people as possible for as long as possible. It is our generation’s duty to fortify this fund so Hinduism Today stays strong for 1,000 years, no matter what the world goes through. We can all make that effort and give whatever we can, even if it’s only one dollar a day. Let’s do it!”
If, like Mr. Tejwani, you are enthusiastic to help Hinduism Today dispense the gold it contains, please consider donating to the Hinduism Today Production Fund or including in your estate plan.
Read about the fund at hheonline.org/productionfund. Subscribe to the Production Fund newsletter at: gurudeva.org/email-news. Ask for our Planned Giving Toolkit by contacting one of our monastic staff at 1-888-464-1008 or email@example.com.