Hindus in Croatia
We greatly appreciate HINDUISM TODAY, both for its efforts in preserving the Sanatana Dharma and in presenting it to the broader public. We felt it necessary to write this letter after having read the article “The Hindu Diaspora Within Continental Europe” that was published in the Jan/Feb/Mar, 2014 edition of the magazine. I would like to present you an additional Hindu religious society in continental Europe—The Hindu Society of Croatia, which has been active in the Republic of Croatia since 1984 and became registered and recognized by the Republic of Croatia as a religious society in 2003.
We are happy to admit that HINDUISM TODAY, and some of the famous books of yours, were our main inspiration for the construction of our Croatian web pages about the Sanatana Dharma. Over the last year we have held multiple lectures about different Hindu festivals, some of which have been visited by the broader public. For example, the lecture on Holi has become very popular, due to the similarities with traditional Croatian customs at that time of year. In this way we keep educating the public about Hindu culture being an ancient universal culture of humankind. We are hoping to keep in touch and looking forward to read from you soon.
SADHVI ANAND PURI
I regularly read HINDUISM TODAY magazine and admire the profound spiritual thoughts and articles. Gurudeva’s explanations are very nice and simple for common people. I wish this magazine could also come in other languages like Tamil, the language of ancient Saiva Siddhanta, for the benefit of Tamil-speaking people. This would help them better understand and appreciate the great culture they belong to. It would also help them realize their responsibility to support it in modern times.
BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA
My Eternal Gratitude
Each issue of HINDUISM TODAY carries an energy all its own, and this April issue was no different. It moved me so deeply that I had to take my thoughts to the keyboard. It started with some wonderful letters and continued with great clarity about Secular Humanism — Jai to Satguru Bodhinatha! That was followed by the amazing Agamic word-picture of Mt. Meru, wow! Malaysia’s Waterfall Temple of devotion was so inspiring, and so was the sweet simplicity of the Cham peoples. Thank you for that powerful reminder to manage anger, how could we forget! The sharpness of the lassi at Smithsonian yoga exhibition left a radiant afterglow. I loved the awesome story of the creation of the Swaminarayan Bhashyam and the feeling of Guruhari so much, that I am mentally saying “Guruhara.” The bright, bold, clear voices of the HAF youth are such great role models for us. And after the vivid review of Upanishad Ganga, I wish there was more! Thank you, thank you, thank you, dream team! How, oh how, do you do it every single time? I humbly bow to you. Infinite love and eternal gratitude.
CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, INDIA
Dear Hindu brothers from across the seas, I enjoyed your article very much and, like yourselves, I am concerned about pollution, especially in the river systems. I traveled to India for the first time in 2012. I found the Ganges River so beautiful, lovely and sacred. I believe in respecting Nature and planting trees. Education is the key. The Mahabharata says that even if there is only one tree full of flowers and fruits in a village, that place becomes worthy of worship and respect. I am not from a Hindu background, but I have a deep respect for your values and devotion to God. “Plants are mothers and Goddesses.” Rig Veda Samhita 10.97.4
CANNON HILL, QLD, AUSTRALIA
Vietnam’s Champa Kingdom
The article “Vietnam’s Champa Kingdom” by Sri Vrndavan Brannon Parker (Apr/May/Jun, 2014) was very informative. I wonder if Sri Parker can tell us how to get there? If so, many of your readers would be able to visit the ancient sites on their trips to Vietnam and Cambodia.
SABYASACHI GHOSH DASTIDAR
NEW YORK, USA
I read with interest Maria Wirth’s opinion piece: “Why not Hindu India?” (Jan/Feb/Mar, 2014). She has rightly pinpointed the problem with a Westernized Indian elite. Let us go back in history and see the truth: On August 15th, 1947, when India was in a broken state, the foundation of an independent India was wrongly placed on the basis of two religions. I believe Gandhi and Nehru failed the majority Hindu population by forcing India to remain without religion and be secular. We have seen that the secularism in India has been one of the most abused terms, and everybody defines it as it may please them. In India it seems like anything anti-Hindu is connected to “secularism.” I can see the change in India. People have realized we must declare India as Hindu India, and I hope that this will be a reality in a very near future.
SHRIHARSHA SHARMA NOTTINGHAM, UK
Hinduism’s Health Benefits?
I enjoyed reading your article, “Hinduism’s Biological Benefits” (April/May/June, 2014). Perhaps a whole book could be written about how Hinduism can benefit a person, not only physically, but also emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. The article already addresses how certain Hindu techniques can synchronize the right and the left hemispheres of the brain and how meditation can improve neural connections and lengthen one’s life. Non-violence and truth are the two cornerstones of Hinduism. Nonviolence at a physical level discourages Hindus from killing animals for food, and the vegetarian diet of Hindus makes them physically healthy. Nonviolence at the emotional level makes them loving and emotionally stable. Nonviolence at the intellectual level makes them peaceful by nature and enables them to think clearly, while nonviolence at the spiritual level makes them love every being, since they can see a spark of divinity in everything. Practicing Truth allows a Hindu to have a good conscience, helping him to get along with himself and others, and enabling him to sleep peacefully at night.
DETROIT, MICHIGAN, USA
The Waterfall Temple
First of all, I would like to say “thank you,” from the bottom of my heart, for making our beloved Penang Lord Balathandayuthabani better known to other parts of the world through your beautiful article. It is hard to find the words to say. It’s a great work and a great dedication from you and your team, in publishing HINDUISM TODAY. Not forgetting Rajiv for his wonderful write-up about SBYO. One thing is for sure, this article will surely touch the heart of every SBYO member. I want to thank our beloved Lord Balathandayuthabani for giving us this great honor through the wonderful team at HINDUISM TODAY. This was something we all never thought of. I just got my copy of HINDUISM TODAY and we have offered the first copy to the permanent president of SBYO, Lord Sri Balathandayuthabani. After being blessed by Him, we distributed the copies to the temple and temple priest. We have started to distribute some to our members as well. We will also distribute to the temple management committee and to the state Hindu Endowment Board chairman. It’s really nice getting to know great people like the HINDUISM TODAY staff. I really hope that you will someday make a visit to Penang and our Beloved Lord and Temple.
Letters with writer’s name, address and daytime phone number should be sent to:
Letters, Hinduism Today
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Letters may be edited for space and clarity and may appear in electronic versions of HINDUISM TODAY.
“All the Children Are Beautiful Souls”
Help your magazine spread joy and happiness
WHEN JENNIFER MET RON BURKE (top in both pictures) in 1980, she was 16 and dreaming of becoming an actress. Two years later, they married and started a business. But her longing for the stage would not be denied. One day she was invited to participate in a clowning act, and it all suddenly clicked: clowning blended her love of the stage with her love of children. She had found her life’s calling. She became Tickles the Clown, took a university course in the fine art of clowning and has been performing ever since.
But she does not perform alone. Husband Ron soon caught the bug, left his young business and joined the clown act. When children came—Sunny, Spring and Aubrey (pictured, middle row)—each joined the family troupe as soon as they could walk. And the three brought a new magical element into the show: music.
Today’s performances include interludes of a dozen different instruments, much to the delight of the youngsters. But music also has its serious side. Daughter Spring (on left in the photos), who has a Master of Arts in Violin Performance, teaches at several music schools in Vancouver, Canada, where they live.
Another magical element contributed by the second generation is two grandchildren. Luna, 8, and India, 6, who have now blended into the family tradition as naturally and enthusiastically as their forebears.
During all these years Ron was quietly nurturing another passion and sharing it with the family: spirituality. He met Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Gurudeva), the founder of HINDUISM TODAY, in 1973 and was instantly captured. “Everything Gurudeva said rang true and has grown within me—and us—all these years. It’s helped our family stay happily together, it’s inspired us and infused our clowning with depth of meaning and purpose. How fortunate we feel to have an occupation where we can all join together to create laughter and joy, leaving only happy memories as residue. It’s a blessing.”
“It takes a lot of intuition to read each group of kids and know what to do in the moment. Hinduism and HINDUISM TODAY have given us that ability. We see all the children as beautiful souls. We’ve learned to blend with their minds, see things as they do, become as they see us, and perform to their hearts’ content.”
Today Ganesha, Siva and Gurudeva preside in the family shrine room, where the gentle daily sadhanas include reading of scripture and HINDUISM TODAY, japa and bhajan. “We are Hindus at heart,” declares Ron. “The magazine has been our constant companion. It keeps us reminded of the subtleties we could easily forget, and in touch with like-minded people all around the planet, which gives us a lot of strength.”
The Burkes make an automatic monthly donation to the Hinduism Today Production Fund, which is a part of Hindu Heritage Endowment. “The magazine has helped us so much,” explains Jennifer, “we wanted to help back, so it can forever continue doing what it does best, which is actually the same as what we strive to do. Each new issue is like a new performance and a new opportunity to spread joy and happiness.”
You, too, can help spread the joy that leaves no residue by lending your support to the Production Fund. You can make a single, one-time gift or arrange for a monthly donation, as the Burkes do, at hheonline.org/donate_pf. Do it now, while you are thinking about it. You can also subscribe to our Production Fund newsletter at to get updates of the magazine and its all-important Production Fund. Contact us at or call 1-808-634-5407.
Laughter and spirituality: Top, the Burkes gather for their Hinduism Today family portrait. Below, transformed and ready for inspired performing. The photo on the wall in each picture is a portrait of Gurudeva from 1973, when Ron met him.