NAMASTE FROM ITALY
We’ve had the pleasure to read in HINDUISM TODAY (April/May/June, 2013) the article about the recognition of the Italian Hindu Union (Sanatana Dharma Sangha) by the Italian Government. To us, the achievement of this ententes (diplomatic resolution) represents a great success. It is an attainment which we and others have worked for over a period of seventeen years. In a nation that hosts the Vatican State, and where religious freedom has been in practice for only a few decades, this ententes with Buddhism and Hinduism is really an historic victory. We hope you are all prosperous and joyful. Thank you.
SWAMI GITANANDA ASHRAM
The April, 2013, issue of HINDUISM TODAY was exceptionally fine. I loved the article on the worship of Lord Siva; in fact, I love that whole feature, “From the Agamas.” Wonderful! And the article on animals was a treat. The piece about the universality across all traditions of food blessings was lovely, too. Every page, even “Quotes and Quips,” was the best ever. Thank you all so very much. Touching your feet with love and gratitude.
CANYON, CALIFORNIA, USA
OUR GREAT RELIGION
Hinduism is the oldest religion, a most scientific and powerful way of life. It is based in the sacred scriptures, the Vedas and Upanishads. These sacred scriptures were the first to speak about God, before any other modern religion came into existence. Hinduism is the only religion which teaches respect for every creature of the Universe. Other religions often go the other way, thinking that seeing God in the highest and lowest of beings is blasphemy. This is absolutely wrong. Our respect towards such beings is our divinity.
We as Hindus should not forget that the greatest worship is to the Supreme God. Deities too, are beings who live through the cycles of being and nonbeing. The greatest difficulty we Hindus face is the existence of the caste system, which is a very strong point for other religions to criticize. The Vedas do not support today’s caste system, but only speak of the different ashramas (stages of life) and varga (astrological divisions). Hindu priests know rites and rituals which alone do not satisfy the spiritual cravings of the individual. True gurus must come forward and give the pure teachings of our scriptures to the general public so that we may understand the importance of our religion. If they do so, then the dharma will be protected and the dharma will protect us.
PAN BAHADUR KSHETRY
IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE
Christian channels and websites proudly announce that millions of Hindus are converting to Christianity. Most of the Hindu rituals and practices are adopted by Christian churches and followers, so much so that a person might have a Hindu name and wear Hindu attire, but not really be one. I don’t think that by simply condoning Church evangelism, India will be able to retain its predominantly Hindu identity.
What Hindus need to do is reach out to the poor who are looking for better opportunities in life. These Hindus will no longer tolerate being treated as Untouchables or Dalits while being maligned without fault. Such a person will often prefer to take up a new religion, however superficial, to escape his identity as a low-caste Hindu. Through this he is able to get support for his children’s education—but only after conversion, of course. I am not shocked but deeply saddened by these events.
I’m surprised that few of our Hindu spiritual leaders openly condemn caste discrimination. Why are the gurus silent on this issue? Why don’t they invoke the masses, whom they routinely address, to give up this subtle violence and adopt healthier and loving lives. I think Hindu priests should begin to play a role similar to that of a priest in a Christian church. He should be able to empathise with the needy and give necessary suggestions and even help in trying times. For this, the temples themselves need to be more than just a place of worship.
I am told that the Christian church “cares for the smallest needs of the believers.” Those that are enticed to convert are often convinced that they are doing the right thing. Can they be blamed? Most importantly we must ask, what can our religion offer to the poorest of the poor?
HINDUISM TODAY is the only magazine I subscribe to. So well done, right down to the photos, typesetting, jokes and comprehensive diversity of topics. I think it would be advantageous to have a dictionary of terms as I tend to forget over the months some of the meanings for key Sanskrit words. Have you considered it? Much obliged.
JAMES ROY TOMPKINS III
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, USA
The article on the first quake-ready stone temple (July/Aug/Sept 2013) is really inspiring. The devotion of the members and the spirit of guru bhakti to complete the temple against all odds is really an example to cherish. Iraivan Temple on Kauai started the technology of fly ash cement, which was new to the world. Here, this temple has used a new technology to counter the effects of an earthquake. Today’s Hindu temples are setting new standards in the building industry.
BENGALURU, KARNATAKA, INDIA
FASCINATING TO READ
While searching your archives online, I came across an article on Goa (Oct/Nov/Dec 2011). It was fascinating to read and I’ve learned a lot. It was new information for me that Goa has a majority of 65% Hindu population despite such savage methods used by Portuguese Christian and Muslim proselytizers. We Hindus never believe in forced conversions and the attempts by Islam and Christianity have little effect on India’s Hindus. It speaks for the truth of the Hindu faith and the resilience of its followers.
GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
TRAVERSING OUR PERSONAL PATHS
This is in response to the letter, “Guidance Needed” (July/Aug/Sept, 2013). Like the author, I am an admirer of HINDUISM TODAY magazine and also a gay Hindu. However, unlike the author, I disagree that the modern gay Hindus’ only options are to live dishonestly, become a monk or resign to drugs and promiscuity. This sad letter indicates someone who is, as he admits, lost. For that my heart goes out to him.
I am an American, gay, male, Hindu, hardly out of my twenties, and I live a dharmic life that is satisfying. My work in this life has meant owning my personal karmas and making great effort to direct those karma’s responsibly, while personally monitoring my sadhana as best I am able. None of us is truly lost, but until we choose our own path and actively begin our journey with dharma, we’re likely to feel lost. You must begin moving on your own to get going anywhere. Waiting for someone to support you in the way you expect will likely mean much wasted time.
Many of my Indian friends have parents who are very traditional and believe that anything gay is a creation of Western culture. Knowing this isn’t true, and knowing that some of Hinduism’s own myths and scriptures affirm non-hetero-normative unions, it’s my sincere hope for all Hindus, not just the author and those like him, that a respected and widely read beacon like HINDUISM TODAY will recognize the need of our gay Hindu brothers and sisters, and respond with compassion and support.
FISHERS, INDIANA, USA
The issue on Kumbh Mela (April/May/June) has been stunningly spectacular. Your editorial team did a remarkable job.
SECUNDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA
CELEBRATIONS OF VIVEKANANDA
Revered Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj, the Spiritual Head of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, was invited to visit Gaborone, Botswana, in July this year as part of the community’s celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birth Anniversary. He was accompanied by 13 devotees from South Africa and warmly welcomed at the Sri Balaji Temple on the 18th with puja, bhajan and prasadam. The next day he gave a talk to 400 students at the Lagae Academy on the importance of education, and in the evening spoke at the Sai Centre on Swami Vivekananda’s life and the importance of harmony of religion. On the 20th, the main function of his visit was held at the Botswana Hindu Society Hall in Maru-a-Pula with government officials and the High Commissioner of India present. The highlight of the evening was a rendition of Vivekananda’s first address to the Parliament of the World’s Religion in Chicago in 1893. It was followed by a performance by students of the Indian School for Dance and Music. The evening closed with Vimokshananda’s address on the hardships Vivekananda encountered when first in America, and his emphasis on serving God in man. The visit concluded the next day with a one-on-one interaction between Vimokshananda and 16 local Hindu youth. Swami’s love, guidance and holy company left an indelible mark on the devotees of Gaborone.
PRAYER TO THE US HOUSE
I just saw the speech delivered by our satguru to the US congress (see p. 50). Please convey my regards and congratulations to the satguru. Certainly it is a significant achievement for the satguru to be called to deliver a prayer at the US Congress. His prayer will resound throughout the world like the sound of Aum in the cosmos.
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Your articles on Hinduism are great sources of inspiration for every Hindu. I am grateful to you for the great services you are rendering for spiritual reawakening. Namaste.
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Toward a secure Hinduism: Above, the Production Fund e-newsletter head; below, the Hindu Heritage Endowment e-newsletter head; right, the special, comprehensive Vivekananda issue made possible by a grant from the Production Fund.
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