I came across a certain article from Reuters and was immediately moved to write Hinduism Today. “Nepal sexual minorities back panel’s call for legal same-sex marriage” (reut.rs/1EkN7TP). After reading the article, it got me thinking. Nepal, demographically the most Hindu nation on earth, has taken up the issue of LGBT civil rights, and at the same time India—to the shock and dismay of many in the West—has actually re-criminalized homosexual relations. Gay sex is now punishable by up to ten years in jail, a severity of law that has drawn the censure of the UN. Meantime, around the world, from the United States to Ireland, Italy, Japan, Australia, Vietnam and others, the issue of same-sex marriage and civil union has come to the forefront of public consideration. The question of LGBT civil rights is an issue that is bound to remain contentious among Hindus. Nevertheless, the topic deserves significant and ongoing exploration. Beginning this year, or at least next year, I hope to see recurring Hinduism Today articles on a subject that now refuses to be swept under the carpet.
A Master Carver
I commend Mr. Kesav Mallia for the article “Bringing Gods to Earth Through Stone—the story of Perumal Sthapati” (Jan/Feb/Mar, 2015). There is no doubt Mr. Perumal Sthapati has a gift for intricate stone carving. All the stone vigrahas for the Hindu Temple of St. Louis were carved by Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati and associates. Our temple was inaugurated on July 6, 1998, when Dr. Ganapati Sthapati and his assistant Mathu Selvanathan were present during the Kumbhabhishekam and Pranaprathistha celebrations. In the article it is mentioned that Mr. Perumal Sthapati carved all 20 vigrahas for the Hindu Temple of St. Louis. To my knowledge, multiple carvers were involved in the preparation of the vigrahas. It would be difficult for one person to carve all the vigrahas, as it takes an enormous amount of time. It is stated by the author that it may take three months to carve one three foot murti. I was the chairman of the temple at that time and I visited Mamallapuram to see the progress of the vigrahas. Many people were working on the different murtis under the direction of Ganapati Sthapati, who was a strict disciplinarian.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
The article did use the word “created” rather than “carved,” but still the implication can be taken that Perumal Sthapati did all the work himself. We do believe it correct that Perumal oversaw the carving of the 20 murtis, as he was Ganapathi Sthapati’s chief sthapati for murtis.
Facts for Future Readers
With reference to your article “Bringing Gods to Earth Through Stone,” and specifically in reference to the sidebar “India’s Statue of Liberation,” I would like to state that the master builders of the two monuments at Kanyakumari—Vivekananda Memorial and Saint Tiruvalluvar statue—were sthapatis S.K. Acharya and Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati respectively. Since I was closely associated with both of these chief sthapatis from the inception to completion of these two projects, I feel it is my duty to inform the editor of Hinduism Today and its readers of this fact.
Temples and Community
I am deeply touched by the efforts of your magazine to create a positive impression about Hinduism. As a practicing Hindu, I believe we do little good for our communities, unlike other religions. I hope that temples across the country are more kind and sympathetic to the poor. I see construction workers who are laying roads in front of the temple in my area working every day in the sun. But believe me, temple authorities have never offered food or any kind of comfort to the these workers. Is it not the duty of the house of God to treat everyone with kindness? Wouldn’t it be appropriate on the part of temples to do something to benefit these workers toiling in the sun? Can we not have charity associated with temples? I sometimes admire the way a church takes care of its believers, how it makes them feel important and cared for. Is it not to be expected that the temple priests, too, be more empathetic to the sorrows and troubles of the temple-goer? It’s time the temples changed and became more broad minded in their dealings with those around. I realize that only pointing fingers will not help. It’s something we all have to work together to improve.
BANGALURU, KARNATAKA, INDIA
A New Line of Priests
I have met several temple priests whose children do not plan to be priests. I do not know how many hereditary priestly lines there are, perhaps plenty; nor do I know the traditions and standards of selecting and training priests. However, I am concerned that our hereditary priest lines may dissipate and reach an insufficient number to meet the needs of our temple communities. If this is a concern to the community, are we able to broaden our selection and training of priests and priestesses to additional ethnic and family origins?
WHITTIER, CA, US
Religion, Way of Life?
I am always puzzled when I hear someone say that Hinduism is a way of life, not a religion.
Is there any religion on earth which does not aspire to be a way of life for its adherents? Most, however, only achieve this goal in a small percentage of their followers. Hinduism actually succeeds in this—but that does not mean it can be dismissed as only a way of life.
Like any religion, Hinduism consists of not only practices and lifestyles but a belief structure. Beliefs vary widely from one religion to another. No other religion, for instance, recognizes the four great truths held in common by all Hindu sects—karma, dharma, reincarnation and the all-pervasiveness of Divinity. (In fact, for some religions these beliefs are considered heretical or even blasphemous). And because Hinduism sees Divinity as all-pervasive, it has no affinity for such beliefs as “intrinsic evil,” “mortal sin” or “hell everlasting.”
KAPAA, HI, US
St. Lucian Hindus
Thank you so much for this lovely historical walk of Hinduism in St. Lucia. My grandmother was Hindu, and I’m essentially a “Dougla” as you mentioned in your article. I long to know more about my grandmother’s religious practices before she was forced into Christianity. Thank you again for this lovely article. Wonderful.
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
Truth Is One
I want to thank you for your excellent summary of World Religions (Oct/Nov/Dec 2014). In particular, millions of people practicing the transcendental meditation technique will appreciate your brief acknowledgement of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s teaching the universal nature of Adhyatma. Maharishi’s Vedic Science embodies the Rig Veda’s declaration: Ekam Sad, Bahu Vadanti—Truth is one, but expressed in many ways. As well as Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra: Yogaschitta Vritti Nirodhah—Yoga is the most settled state of awareness. This supremely silent, settled experience is available to anyone, regardless of the religious beliefs they may (or may not) cherish. Many thanks for all of your efforts to promote Adhyatma and Adhideva.
UTTAR KASHI, UTTARAKHAND, INDIA
Hindu of the Year
Our family received the latest issue of HINDUISM TODAY yesterday, and we were astounded to read that Prime Minister Modi has been selected as Hindu of the Year. Wow, that was a bold, out-of-the-box and amazing move the editors made; something only those who hold truth in the palm of their hands could do! I am delighted with the choice.
CARLSBAD, CA, US
As a Hindu woman, for years I have used Shingar liquid kumkum and a variety of brands of sticker bindis. However, lately I have begun to worry about the ingredients in the Shingar liquid and the adhesives used on the sticker bindis. I Google searched but could find no list of the ingredients. I am worried that possibly carcinogenic or teratogenic ingredients could be used. If so, constant application every day over a lifetime could lead to cancers on the forehead. If any of your readers have any information about the ingredients in popular bindi brands like Shingar, Shilpa, etc, I request that they write to you with that information. Likewise, if anyone knows of any non-toxic, safe bindi brands and where to buy them, please come forward.
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CA
Out of 389 licensed news channels in India, only Doordarshan news has 5 minutes for Sanskrit. The article source can be found at ow.ly/LoATH
NEW DELHI, INDIA
I read with interest the Special Feature, “Behold Bharat’s Blessed Bovine” (April/May/June, 2015.) It is gratifying that a Hindu tradition, unlike any other religion, honors cows. However, this tradition has misled many Hindus into believing that a cow is the only animal that is prohibited from being killed and that there is no harm in killing other animals. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A spark of divinity manifests in every living being. Killing any living being that is capable of feeling pain for the self-centered needs of humans is totally unconscionable. Animals are not subhuman species created by God for our benefit.
ALBANY, CA, US
In the article “Behold Bharat’s Blessed Bovine” (Apr/May/June, 2015) the word ka–thak was accidentally used instead of katha. Katha means discourse and kathak is the name of a famous Indian classical dance performance.
On page 30 of (Apr/May/June, 2015), the photo of Swami Gopal Sharan Das is given the wrong credit. Golokdham.org/Rajat Goyal is the correct source.
To donate to the Padmetha Godham cow shelter please visit pathmedagodham.org
Letters with writer’s name, address and daytime phone number should be sent to:
Letters, Hinduism Today
107 Kaholalele Road
Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA
or faxed to: (808) 822-4351
or visit: www.hinduismtoday.com/letters
Letters may be edited for space and clarity and may appear in electronic versions of HINDUISM TODAY.
Looking After Whom and What Matters Most
If giving gives happiness, then giving through an estate plan gives great happiness
MANY HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS TO generously support Hinduism Today magazine. But when the thought of responsibilities comes rushing back, the voice of restraint will often have the last word—understandably so.
But it need not be the end of the conversation. You can give and give generously, while sacrificing nothing of family budgets, plans and dreams. Simply make your gifts in the future, even in the far, far future, via your estate plan. Thus you and your family can be the philanthropes you yearn to be—without putting yourselves at a disadvantage.
If your beneficiary is a forward looking body with a clear and a long-range sacred mission, like HINDUISM TODAY, its trustees will be especially grateful for the gift you have placed in its future.
An estate plan is also full of advantages for those who create it, many of them financial. Besides being an opportunity to give, an estate plan has another spiritual dimension: it can become a testament to oneself, to one’s family and ultimately to the world. “This is who I am/who we are,” it declares. “And this is what we stand for.” It is a life mission statement that can be continually reviewed, adjusted and amended through the years. This aspect of estate planning is satisfying to many and it is one reason we encourage the practice, even for young people.
A family with an estate plan can: rest content that they are taking care of those they love and the institutions they deem most worthy of their support.
Please consider including the HINDUISM TODAY Production Fund in your esteemed estate plan. It is your best opportunity to help the magazine fulfill its mission of developing ever finer ways to disseminate Hinduism’s golden teachings.
There are many ways to make planned gifts, some of which are quite advantageous to you, the giver. Find out more about these opportunities on our website, hheonline.org and subscribe to our Hindu Heritage Endowment and Production Fund newsletters at gurudeva.org/email-news.
Contact us at or give us a call: 1-888-464-1008.