The latest magazine (Oct/Nov/Dec, 2013) is wonderful. The Srouta Saiva article is excellent. The print and the pictures are very expressive. We thank you at HINDUISM TODAY magazine. As it is correctly mentioned, the days of Srouta Saivism being hidden are gone. Lord Siva chose the right place to reveal Himself. Excellent work. We appreciate all of your effort to portray this ageless sampradaya. Thank you all.
ANDRHA PRADESH, INDIA
A heartfelt thank-you for a wonderful resource—I am an avid reader of your magazine for many years and have learned much from it Thank you.
GRANITE BAY, CALIFORIA, USA
A Past Letter
I applaud this letter to the editor written by Grimulfr Laugrsson at in July 2002, “The Roots of Euro-Americans.” I would wish to see it run again.
SUGAR LAND, TEXAS, USA
✔ Hinduism Today's editors have agreed to Mr. Mishra's unusual request, and have included the following reprint of Grimulfr Laugrsson's letter, as it relates directly to this issue's feature article about Hinduism in Europe.
“I hear that many Hindus have wondered why many Americans and Europeans are rejecting Christianity in order to convert to Hinduism. ‘Why would someone reject their own culture to embrace someone else’s?’ There are very specific reasons why this is the case. At one time, the people of the European countries did not practice Christianity. They practiced religions that were very similar to Hinduism. Hinduism and the various forms of Paganism that were practiced in Europe have a common root, hence the terminology ‘Indo-European.’ If you were to compare the Elder Edda (the sacred text of the ancient Northern Europeans) to the Rig Veda, you would find striking similarities.
“Christianity, on the other hand, is not really a Western religion. It was directly spawned from Judaism. Later on, it was embraced by power hungry Caesars and popes of Rome who in turn used this religion as a means of spiritual, mental and physical domination. All who did not agree with their viewpoints were murdered, burned, raped and destroyed. Missionaries were sent to other countries outside of Rome as a means to spy on other religions as well as seduce leaders into giving up their native religions (usually with bribes of gold and land) and to join the Romans in their unholy mission of destroying other cultures—which they perceived as ‘helping.’
“I would like to address a few points made by Sri Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamigal in his interview for your March/April, 2001, article ‘On Dharma, the Pope, Kids, and More...’ He said, ‘When foreigners approach my guru’s guru seeking conversion to Hinduism, he advises them to “become better Christians.” That is the essence of Hinduism. If you cannot find solace in your religion, you will never be able to find it in any other religion.’
“I agree with his statement to a certain extent. True, folks should seek out their own roots first and foremost. However, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati may not realize that there is no solace or substance in Christianity for such seekers, as it does not truly resonate in the soul of the American or European, because it has roots outside of our blood and soul. If Euro-Americans or Europeans are ever to find solace and substance in anything, it will be found in the pre-Christian European religions. The reason for foreigners being attracted to Hinduism is based on the fact that it is more in line with their blood/soul than Christianity is (which has Semitic/Middle-Eastern roots).
“If you wish to direct non-Indians away from Hinduism towards something that is of their own blood and soul, then direct them towards the elder ways of Europe, which capture the same spirit of polytheism, animism, mysticism and philosophical thought that is found in Hinduism.”
How Can Hindus Unite?
I read with interest Srinivas Sudhindra’s opinion, “How Can Hindus Unite?” I am shocked to read his criticisms of “Shankaran Advaita” and Swami Vivekananda. Advaita (non-dualism) is what unites all the diverse streams of Hinduism and is rooted in Rig Veda, which thunders, Ekam sat; viprah bahuda vadanti—“Truth is One; the sages have described It variously.” The Upanishads are replete with references where the concept of advaita has been reinforced. The author seems to have a preference for the philosophy of dualism in which man is devoted to God. Actually, the three interpretations of Vedanta, namely, dualism, qualified non-dualism and non-dualism are not in contradiction with each other. Instead, they complement each other.
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, USA
I enjoyed reading Mr. Sudhindra’s thoughts about “How Can Hindus Unite?” (Oct/Nov/Dec, 2013). However, it also left some unanswered questions. He stated: “Swami Vivekananda was selling advaita not as advaita but as Hinduism. He mostly ignores the other diverse Hindu streams, such as the Vaishnavite, Saivite and Shakta sampradayas.” This to me is a wrong interpretation of Swamiji’s preaching. First, he was not “selling” anything. Yes, he was preaching Sanatana Dharma. Second, he did not ignore any of diverse Hindu streams, including Vaishnavite, Saivite or Shakta—as you would know, he was a chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who himself practiced all of these disciplines.
NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, USA
Teaching Our Youth
I am one of the many Indian Hindus settled in the USA holding to my religion as much as possible while living an American life. My greatest concern has been passing Hinduism onto my children. I began researching online and was impressed the amount of information available. When young, my children would listen enthusiastically to the Ramayana, Mahabharata and others, but after a few years of school they begin to question nearly every aspect of their culture and religion.
I am a born Hindu and will practice what I know and believe all my life. I feel sorry for children growing up outside strong Hindu communities. The recent article by Aneesh Bairavasundaram (“In My Opinion,” Oct/Nov/Dec, 2013) is eye catching, and accurately describes the situation my children and many others all share. Until now, I felt that my children’s difficulties were because of our remote location. But after reading this article, I understand that all Hindu children, even the sons of priests, are equally affected.
Children require different approaches to teaching, throughout different stages of their lives. We need to educate our children about our great religion by continuously explaining the depths behind its many parts. We need to show them the connections between scriptures and real life. We need to bridge their temple life with their lives as Americans. All the important aspects of our faith must be elaborated upon, including meditation, reincarnation, karma, ahimsa, annaprasana, samskaras, Surya namaskara, pranayama and festivals. They must learn of the Gods, and of the great yugas of time. They must hear the Vedas and know of our ancient heritage. They can be taught the balance of ayurveda and modern day medicine, and learn of the subtle beauties in Sanskrit.
Many Americans are not fully aware of the differences between many Eastern peoples. Even after repeated correction, people still think I am a Muslim. Any child born here is as much an American as any other. But they’re often made to feel different if they’re not Christian. We need to equip our children with ways to defend our religion through education, for their own understanding and for that of their peers. This was excellently portrayed by Mr. Bairavasundaram’s article.
IRON MOUNTAIN, MICHIGAN, USA
Chattampi Swami Disciple?
I was reading the article on “Chattampi Swami’s Long Shadow” (Oct/Nov/Dec, 2013). The claim of the author, G.K. Nair, that Sree Narayana Guru was a disciple of Chattampi Swami is a false story. They were classmates. Chattampi Swami was two years senior in age and thus, even though very good friends, Sree Narayana Guru considered Chattampi Swamikal an elder brother. None of Narayana Guru’s biographies (I have eleven of them) ever said that he was Chattampi Swami’s disciple.
Some of the elders in my family and village met both of them. They told them that the two were very close, moving around Kerala like brothers Balarama and Sree Krishna.
The statement of the author, “While the Ezhava community has reverently accepted his disciple Narayana Guru as their spiritual preceptor, the Nair community did not follow suit with Chattampi Swami,” is not the full fact either. Narayana Guru was accepted as spiritual preceptor by many people. A number of his disciples were from the Nair and brahmin communities. Muslims and Christians also revered him as a spiritual master.
The difference between the two was that while Chattampi Swami remained a jnana yogi, Narayana Guru ventured into bhakti and karma yoga along with jnana yoga. Narayana Guru’s spiritual writings are real gems of Indian spirituality which are as good as any Upanishad. The author did a disservice to both these rishis as he tried to project them as the representations of two communities, contrary to the fact that they both were rishis of advaita. To me they were complimentary to each other and should be revered by all. They both are my inspiration and my guiding lights. Please do not separate them based on which community they were born into or one as the teacher of the other.
✔ Correspondent G.K. Nair replies, "This question arose during the life of Chattampi Swami itself. In 1916, V. Narayana Menon asked him if Narayana Guru was his disciple. Chattampi Swami replied, “Let people say like that, that is not going to affect us. I don't want to become anybody's guru. I wish to be everyone's disciple. For both of us, these arguments are meaningless. The only thing is I transmitted the knowledge that my guru gave me to Nanu (as he affectionately called Sree Narayana Guru). He has given it to his disciples. It is a rare mantra which is used only by very few. In my knowledge, except in our line, no one has got that."
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Responding to Hinduism’s Greatest Need
How to let Dharma’s voice be heard for generations
YES, I’M ENCOURAGED BY THE VITALITY OF OUR FAITH TODAY,” Dr. B. P. Lathi explained, “But when I see the array of powerful forces working hard to undo Hinduism, and the mass of misinformation circulating, I worry. If we want our grandchildren to resist the onslaught, we’ve got to react ! We need intellectual clarity as never before. It is not enough to build temples. We need to understand their function and value, then inspire our children with that knowledge—not just a youth here and there, but a majority of each generation. That is what it will take. It’s a big job and, as I see it, time is short.”
To do his part, Dr. Lathi, a retired professor of electrical engineering living in California, generously supports HINDUISM TODAY. “We must make sure this pure voice of dharma is heard as widely as possible. I know of no other publication like it. It proudly declares itself to be Hindu and ceaselessly works to rectify misconceptions and abuse frankly and courageously. And especially, it is doing pioneering work to present our faith in a way that is intellectually satisfying and spiritually inspiring. Here is our chance; let’s make the most of it!”
Dr. Lathi established a charitable remainder trust which, when it matures in 13 years, will grant $300,000 to the Hinduism Today Production Fund, a part of Hindu Heritage Endowment (HHE). Earnings from this gift will enable the editors to produce an ever more potent magazine. Happily, Dr. and Mrs. Lathi also benefit from their gift in a number of ways. Find out more about Dr. Lathi’s charitable remainder trust at hheonline.org/lathi.html.
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Dr. and Mrs. B. P. Lathi at home in California: “The world needs Hinduism as exemplar. Here is a faith evolved out of meditation, not conflict.”