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Magazine Web Edition > April/May/June 2002 > Milestones of Ministry

BIOGRAPHICAL OVERVIEW

Milestones of Ministry

Enumerating a spiritual master's remarkable accomplishments



Emblazened by his illumination, his ordination as a satguru and the blessings of Gods and devas, Gurudeva contributed to the revival of Hinduism in immeasurable abundance. He was simultaneously a staunch defender of traditions as the tried and proven ways of the past and a fearless innovator and defender of the downtrodden, rivaling the rishis of Vedic times in instilling fresh understanding and setting new patterns for contemporary humanity. Here is a partial list of his trail-blazing efforts and accomplishments:


SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS

¥Bringing seekers new meaning to life through the Master Course as a path of self-transformation through sadhana, a self-initiated journey to bravely, cheerfully face the karma one has created in the past.

¥Pioneering the language Shum in 1968 to enhance seekers' yogic efforts and vigorously developing it from 1995-2001, as his inner gift to his monastics.

¥Bringing the Gods "out of exile" by explaining and writing about the mysteries of temple worship and the three worlds of existence from his own experience.

¥Unfolding theological summations for a religion in renaissance, such as "Four Facts of Hinduism," "Nine Beliefs," "Hinduism's Code of Conduct," the 365 Nandinatha Sutras, and a Hindu catechism and creed.

¥Bringing forth Lemurian Scrolls and other esoteric writings from inner-plane libraries to guide his monastic order and revive the centrality of celibacy and sexual transmutation.

¥Translating and publishing Tiruvalluvar's ethical masterpiece, the Tirukural, in modern, lucid English.


LEADING THE HINDU RENAISSANCE

¥Building Hindu pride; convincing Hindus everywhere to stand up and proclaim themselves Hindus and stop repeating equivocal slogans like, "I'm not really a Hindu. I am a universalistÑa Christian, a Jew, a Muslim and a Buddhist."

¥Proclaiming that Hinduism is a great, living religion, not a relic of the past as depicted by Western scholars, one that should be presented by Hindu writers, as he did in his peerless publications.

¥Teaching Hinduism to Hindus, awakening them to see themselves as a world community and as inheritors of a grand civilization and culture, indeed, the religion best suited to the new age.

¥Rescuing the word Hinduism from its fallen status as a dirty word and restoring it to its age-old glory.

¥Heralding sectarianism when the prevailing trend was bland uniformity, insisting that only if each denomination is strong and faithful to its unique traditions will Hinduism itself be strong.

¥Championing the centrality of temples, legitimizing their establishment, and authenticating their purpose.


THINGS HE CAMPAIGNED TO CORRECT

¥Dispelling myths and misinformation about Hinduism through HINDUISM TODAY for two decades.

¥Promoting the Vedas and Agamas as the holy bible of Hinduism rather than the mythological Puranas and the historical Bhagavad Gita.

¥Establishing rational-mystical explanations for Hindu practice to displace the Puranic "comic book" mentality.

¥Reinstating ahimsa, noninjury, as the cardinal ethic of Hinduism when militants were promoting righteous retaliation, often by citing the Bhagavad Gita,

¥Rejecting traditional stories that glorify violence, such as many found in the Periyapuranam.

¥Repopularizing Siva as a God of love to be worshiped by all devotees, not a fearsome being approached only by ascetics. Assuring Hindus it is alright, in fact necessary, to have Lord Siva in the home.

¥Speaking for the purity of Hindu monasticism and against the idea of "married swamis" and mixed-gender ashrams.

¥Campaigning against the use of illegal drugs by exposing the harmful effects and karmic consequences.

¥Combatting unethical Christian conversion by enhancing Hindu education, exposing the devious tactics of evangelists and the immaturity of faiths that consider theirs the only true path and aggressively seek to compel others to adopt it.

¥Debunking the notion that "All religions are one" and publishing a comparative summary of the major religions of the world, side by side with prominent secular philosophies.

¥Enjoining temple boards of trustees to get along with each other, to beware of detractors and to establish teaching programs for the youth.


RELIGIOUS STATESMANSHIP

¥Speaking out fearlessly at interfaith conferences and spiritual and political forums, objecting to Christian hegemony at such gatherings, calling for equal representation by other religions, including the indigenous peoples, and decrying the hypocrisy of scientists who would speak as potential saviors for Earth's problems when science itself had caused many of the predicaments.

¥Defending advaitic Saiva Siddhanta at international conferences and with pundits of South Indian aadheenams to successfully affirm the legitimacy and antiquity of the nondual theology which so perfectly reflected his own realizations.

¥Creating a method of ethical self-conversion for seekers to formally enter the Hindu religion, insisting that Hinduism has always accepted newcomers, countering the notion that "You must be born a Hindu to be a Hindu."

¥Encouraging people to practice their religion, whatever it may be, rather than nonreligious paths such as materialism, communism, existentialism and secular humanism.


PIONEERING NEW PATTERNS

¥Harnessing information technology to drive Hindu Dharma into the new millennium, including setting up the first Macintosh publishing network (1986) and founding the first major Hindu website (1994).

¥Calling for the establishment of schools, pathasalas, to train temple priests outside of India.

¥Promoting the idea of resident facilities for the elderly at temples in the West.

¥Gifting Deity icons to initiate the worship and remove obstacles at 39 temples globally.

¥Establishing perpetual funds to finance his own and others' religious endeavors through Hindu Heritage Endowment.

¥Finding ways for Hindus to meet cultural dilemmas in the modern age, such as devising a new festival, Pancha Ganapati, now celebrated for five days around the time of Christmas.

¥Supporting cross-national marriages within his congregation and the wider Hindu world.

¥Drawing from the American church system to make his organization, and other Hindu institutions, socially viable, legally strong and structurally effective.

¥Encouraging selfless, religious giving of one's time, resources and finances, and establishing tithing as a monthly practice within his global congregation.

¥Establishing Innersearch Travel Study as a means of self-discovery and spiritual renewal for devotees and students, with his last three journeys consecrating new temples in Alaska, Denmark and Trinidad.

¥Distinguishing outstanding leadership with his Hindu of the Year award.

¥Introducing to Kauai: Toggenberg goats, Jersey cows, the honey bee industry and various species of exotic flora.


REVIVING NOBLE TRADIOTIONS

¥Bringing sacraments, samskaras, back into vogue through his writings and by implementing them among his congregation with reverence and formal documentation.

¥Campaigning for priests' rights and fair treatment, demanding they receive the same respect enjoyed by the clergy of other religions.

¥Supporting and reviving the traditional arts, including South Indian painting, with which he illustrated his trilogy; Indian dance, which he and his followers learned and taught; temple architecture, which he embodied in Iraivan temple; Vedic astrology, which he used daily for its insights into character of people and timing of events; and ayurveda, which he promoted in his publications and encouraged as a natural healing system for all his followers.

¥Rescuing the home shrine from extinction "out of the closet into the most beautiful room of the home."


STRENGTHENING MONASTICISM

¥Garnering respect for Hindu monastics of every order when "swami bashing" was common, proclaiming that swamis and sadhus are the ministers of this noble faith and that genuine gurus should be venerated, obeyed and sought out for their wisdom.

¥Creating a global enclave of several hundred Hindu leaders and regularly calling on them for their wisdom on critical issues, from abortion, to cloning, to medical ethics and Hindu family life, publishing their collective views in HINDUISM TODAY.

¥Breathing new life into the aadheenams of South India (temple-monastery complexes), bringing new prominence to the Sankaracharya centers and to the seats of power of all monastic lineages.

¥Codifying in his Holy Orders of Sannyasa the ideals, vows and aspirations of Hindu monasticism in unprecedented clarity.


IMPROVING FAMILY LIFE

¥Upholding the integrity of the family, extolling the extended family, finding ways to keep families close and harmonious, declaring that divorce is never a happy solution to marital conflict.

¥Denouncing and taking action against wife abuse as a despicable act that no man has the right to perpetrate.

¥Insisting on "zero tolerance for disharmonious conditions" within his monasteries and the homes of followers.

¥Protecting children from abuse, standing up for their right to not be beaten by parents or teachers and debunking the notion that corporal punishment is a part of Hindu culture.

¥Helping parents raise children with love and respect through Positive Discipline classes taught by his family devotees.

¥Establishing a "women's liberation movement" of his own, reminding Hindus that family well-being lies in the hands of women, who have the power to raise their children well and make their husbands successful by not working in the world, but following the traditional role of wife and mother.


SETTING STANDARDS IN LEADERSHIP

¥Creating Kauai Aadheenam, a temple-monastery in Hawaii so traditional and spiritualÑreplete with two Siva temples, a large monastic order and a satguru pitha (seat of authority), all amid religious art, sculpture, traditional temple architecture and liturgyÑthat it stands as the most authoritative aadheenam in the West.

¥Manifesting Iraivan, the first all-stone Agamic temple in the West.

¥Initiating and nurturing a traditional order of two dozen celibate Saiva monastics, molding them into an effective, harmonious, traditional multi-national team.

¥Building two platforms: Hindu solidarity, which he promoted through HINDUISM TODAY, and monistic Saiva Siddhanta, which he elucidated in his peerless publications.

¥Being always available: personally greeting thousands of Hindu visitors to his aadheenam, speaking with them about their lives, concerns and aspirations.

¥Fulfilling the motto "Think globally, act locally," joining monthly with Kauai leaders in an island visioning group to help manifest an enhanced social and economic future.


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