Raising Good Hindus
Sadar Pranam! I am Shri Vyaghra Yogi of the Vidya Yoga Ashram in Brazil. I want to congratulate all of you once again for the wonderful work being done by Hinduism Today magazine. I want to transmit my puja to dear Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and all the other brothers. I revere the beloved Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. Here in Brazil, we have persistently spread and propagated Hinduism with a lot of love. I want to thank you for on the article “Raising Children As Good Hindus” (April/May/June 2021). It is very good. I would like to ask permission to republish that article and other important texts for our members here. Please receive our big and affectionate hug with Shiva’s blessings.
Shri Swami Vyaghra Yogi
Director of Vidya Ayurvedic
Clinic and Vidya Yoga Ashram Brazil
On the Meaning of Yoga
I read with interest Kurt Matthys’ letter, “Two Clarifications on Yoga” (July/August/September, 2021). However, I disagree with him when he states, “the meaning of yoga in Patanjali’s work has nothing to do with joining.” I have read several authoritative articles and books on Patanjali Yoga that state that the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means to connect, join or balance. Yoga is usually defined as union: union between the limited self and the Divine Self. Yes, the aim of yoga is not really to unite us with anything, for we are already united. It is to help us realize our identity with the Divine Self, to make us know and tune into our intrinsic nature. So, even though this identity is always there, one doesn’t realize it because of spiritual ignorance. Yoga provides us a means to remove that ignorance. I do agree with Matthys that Divine Self (atman or soul or pure consciousness) is different from the limited, individual self, identified as body and mind; and that yoga helps us to discriminate between the limited self and the Divine Self and enables us to realize our Divine Self, which is our True Self.
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Trinity and Trimurti
In his piece on John Adams (July/August/September, 2021), Rutvij Holay writes that John Adams (1735–1826), the second US president “states that the Christian concept of the Trinity—the commonly held idea that one God is split into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—comes from the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshvara. This idea, along with the general idea of “not one, but not multiple,” addressed by Shankaracharya, has been in Vedic thought for longer than Christianity has existed. Furthermore, seeing how the idea of the Trinity runs directly contradictory to Abrahamic monotheism, it makes sense that there may be a foreign origin to this conception.”
I’m afraid none of this is correct. First, the Hindu Trimurti is very different from the Christian Trinity, if for no other reason than that Hindus do not worship Brahma but rather only the other two members. Second, Brahma is said to die and reincarnate every so often and so is not similar to the members of the Christian Trinity. Even the most “heretical” of Christians never held that a member of the Trinity could die, let alone reincarnate only to be replaced by another jiva (soul), as is the case with Brahma.
The “general idea of ‘not one, but not multiple’” is also not a description of the Christian Trinity, since, as the name implies, there is one God in three persons: both one and multiple or one in three. This is the exact opposite of the idea of “not one but not multiple.”
The Trimurti seems less like a “trinity” and more like three separate deities, one of whom is not even worshiped, brought together to form a faux-trinity by those who wish to correlate the two religions. Further, unless you belong to the Smarta sect or a sect influenced by it, no Hindu thinks all three members of the Trimurti are equal. Vaishnavas, for instance, think only Vishnu is the Supreme Being, etc. That is the opposite of the Orthodox understanding of the Trinity, where all three persons are co-equal.
The Vedas make no mention of such a “trimurti” nor is there any evidence that it influenced the Christian Trinity. I also fail to see how the Trinity runs “counter to Abrahamic Monotheism,” since the Trinity is not three separate Gods but one God that is three ontologically distinct persons.
Suffice to say that while the overall article was good, its claims about the Christian Trinity are mistaken. I invite the author to read John 1:1 for a more concise statement on the Trinity.
Methodist Theological School, Ohio
Thank you for publishing such an excellent magazine. I have been reading Hinduism Today since Gurudev, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, started it in San Francisco long ago. It has excellent informative articles and beautiful artwork. I found the article “So, You Call Yourself a ‘Woke’ Hindu?” by Ms. Anu Singh (January/February/March 2021) very interesting and timely. A lot of young Hindus are misinformed about their heritage because of biased reporting in the news media, middle-school and university textbooks and teachers. At the other end of the life spectrum (86 years old) compared to Ms. Singh, I have written a brief article to continue the discussion started by her. I will be most grateful if you will kindly consider printing it in a future issue of the magazine. With best wishes to all at Hinduism Today.
Arun J. Mehta
Vancouver, BC, V6P 6Y4, Canada
Author of Vedic Dharma and
Non-Violent Civil Disobedience
Let’s Talk About Skin Color
I found your article “Are We Ready to Have a Real Conversation about Dark Skin?” fascinating. When I first read the headline, I thought, maybe we aren’t ready! What words do we use? It’s difficult for most people, I’m sure. Thankfully, the author, Anu Kumar, gave us lots of words to use and many ideas to discuss. The thing that struck me hardest is the perception of what beauty is. I was saddened to learn that young women in India believe the lie that lighter skin color determines beauty. That’s just not true. All women, all people, are beautiful, and all skin tones are beautiful. With more openness about the subject, we can reassure young women of their worth. There’s no logic in trying to conform with conventional images of beauty. It’s better to be ourselves.
I often ask myself, wouldn’t life be boring if we all looked the same? We can take a lesson from Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American Miss America, as discussed in the article. She has been confronting the issue of skin color in her COMPLEXion Series. Check out her videos on Facebook. If more of us learn to talk about skin tone in a positive and helpful way, it will be a big step toward a better future.
Hatha Yoga’s Hinduness
Having spent the last year persistently advocating for religious rights in the face of what I observe to be covert efforts to colonize the minds and hearts of our youth with a Godless ideology that is disenfranchising the younger generation from the Sanatana Dharma, I can appreciate why Alabama voted to keep yoga classes out of schools. It was an attempt to prevent their children from being guided by, what is to them, an alien ideology. My opinion is that the idea of hatha yoga not being a Hindu religious practice is inaccurate, and that promoting that idea will in time erode the protections of the religious freedoms we have under constitutions worldwide. In fact, yoga is integral to the Hindu religion. At this time, I observe a desire among many Hindus in my part of America to blend in and not ruffle feathers. But harmony is not attained by divesting ourselves of our religious heritage and culture for convenience or acceptance, and certainly not to assuage the challenges of ardha-Hindus. At the end of day, if you want children to know yoga, then teach them yoga as part of our Hindu religious heritage and culture, and they will inevitably share it with their friends.
Tejasinha Sivalingam, MA
Ashland, New Hampshire
I was pleasantly surprised to see four thoughtful articles by Hindu youth in the most recent issue of Hinduism Today. I am excited to see how each of them grow and discover even more about the facets of Hinduism as they continue on life’s journey and use the power of the pen along the way.
Shaina’s recognition of the difference between believing and praying is astute. I think that we as Hindus are often using language that isn’t suited to describe what it means to be Hindu, or to practice Hinduism. At a young age she recognizes that our practice of Hinduism can look different. For example, I may not join a satsang, go to the temple, or even do puja; it’s through karma yoga that I keep myself rooted in dharma.
I am so glad to know that young Santhanaa has discovered the importance of meditation, and that her Bharatanatyam practice is fueled by the stillness that only dhyana provides. I find I am most effective and rooted in dharma when am able to make time to meditate.
Sanjeevani’s story about her father coming into the classroom to teach about Hinduism reminded me of when my daughter did a presentation to counter misinformation in 9th grade World Studies class. While my daughter met with some criticism from her Hindu classmates whose families may not have been able to articulate and provide a positive Hindu identity for them, I am encouraged that other young Hindus are lifting up their voices and correcting the narrative, reaching out proactively and creating a positive self identity.
It is great that Rutvij is developing an understanding of how important context is to one’s connection to our Indian ethnic culture, linguistic roots and especially one’s practice of Hinduism.
As the first and only Hindu elected to the Michigan state legislature, I look forward to seeing more Hindus in America become engaged in civic issues, pursue public service and seek elected office. I always dedicated some of my time to volunteering and activism, alongside my work, family and community responsibilities. In fact, this commitment to seva and wanting to help others is why I quit my job to run for political office.
I encourage young people to be rooted in dharma, and be aware of the allies and the foes they will face. We adults should pave the way and reduce those barriers. Enabling them to share their stories and letting them know they are heard is a great way to empower them.
State Legislator, Michigan, USA
A Poet Discovers that Ganesha Is a Poet, Too
How to bring Hinduism to life in one’s life, and grow closer to the Gods
On this page in our last issue, we introduced Dr. Arjunan Subramaniam, reputed as Malaysia’s pre-eminent revenue lawyer. “But I would rather be known as a poet and a lover of God,” he pleads. Readers know him as the author of the poems on the inside back cover in every issue.
The life of this devout poet suddenly turned topsy-turvy one day in 1992 when his wife and two sons converted to Christianity. Separation soon followed and Dr. Arjunan’s life became that of a “hermit,” as he puts it. “I have lived alone ever since, or rather, lived only with our Gods and devas—and poetry.
“This trying event did have a positive effect. It drove me to know my own religion better. I pored over books, went on pilgrimage to Kailas, to Shivling mountain, Kashmir, and especially to the Prambanan Siva temple in Indonesia, which I found powerful and most transformative.” (See p. 85 of this issue.)
“My quest led me to the divine book, Loving Ganesha, by Gurudeva (Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder of Hinduism Today). In it, I found poems that Lord Ganesha Himself dictated into the satguru’s inner ear, “I am the mother who cares for you….I am the now that makes you ready for the then…. I wait for your return….” I was instantly captured. From that moment, an ever finer understanding of Hinduism started unfolding within me. Then, I found Hinduism Today magazine, the mother lode of life’s promise, a moving temple and our point of contact with all things higher. I have not seen its equal anywhere, in English at least. Each issue is like a mother feeding her children. “Here, have some more,” she says, “there’s no end to this endlessly rich tradition, just turn the page and see.”
“My love of God and poetry, my finding Ganesha’s poems, then Hinduism Today and Hinduism’s bottomless depths all merged into one effervescence that has blessed my existence. I found this journal vital for holding onto our Hindu faith, or recapturing it, or bringing it to life in our life. We need it. Youth need it.
“I like to place my poems in every issue to support the magazine materially and with all my heart as well. I encourage all who have found inspiration in it to lend their support in the way that means most to them. Do it as an offering to God. It will bring you closer to Him; then the world will be yours.”