Kumbh Mela Under Siege
An article in the Nagaland Post urges a Naga contingent invited to the Kumbh Mela to showcase Naga culture to use the opportunity to spread the gospel. It considers it the Christians’ birthright to spread the message of Jesus and hopes that one day the Kumbh Mela will turn into a great mission center.
Several blog posts claim that as part of the evangelist project Joshua II, the First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee, has adopted towns where Kumbh Melas take place. It has been actively converting the locals so that pilgrims will face extreme hardship during their next visit. Hindus would provide services and supplies for pilgrims. Now that these towns are Christianized, pilgrims won’t have that support. They are making environmental groups raise their voice, too. It seems that a good section of media is also on their side, to such an extent that any group opposing their activity finds itself identified as a militant or extremist group by the Indian news media.
The Ugly Face of Christianity
This article by Madhu P. Kiswar is a very bold attempt to bring the ugly face of Christianity before us in India. Christianity, in the name of service and education, has destroyed the Hindu community, and this has been going on for centuries. I think the time has come for majority Hindus to kick out foreign Christian missionaries from India and freeze their assets and bank accounts, because they have a plan to Christianize the whole of India. The Muslims have a similar plan, too. Both these religions are 100% against everything attached to Hinduism. They destroyed the pre-Christian and pre-Islamic tradition, heritage, culture, languages, arts, fine arts, temples and religions wherever they have dominated, which can be seen all over the world.
DR. SHRIHARSHA SHARMA
Hinduism—Epitome of Religion!
Congratulations to the India Foundation’s Center for Soft Power, and all others involved, for the success of the first Conference on Soft Power. On listening to some of the speeches on YouTube, I was struck by how insistently one speaker distanced himself from Hinduism, even going so far as to deny its very existence as a religion—claiming it is simply a way of life. To him and to all who hold such a view, I would like to say, “What nonreligious ‘way of life’ builds great temples to its Gods and worships them with such exuberant love and devotion? Conversely, what religion does not aspire to be a way of life for its followers?” Hinduism’s unmatched success in accomplishing that goal does not disqualify it as a religion—quite the reverse!
I am reminded of the story of the four blind men, the elephant, and the sighted man. I’m hearing the blind man holding the tail: “No, no, that cannot be an elephant! An elephant must be shaped like a rope, just a few feet long and no more than a few inches in diameter!” The idea that a religion must have a human founder and a starting point in history is mere propaganda, coming from those religions that do have such restrictions. Let there be no more of this nonsense. Hinduism is the very epitome of religion!
On Steven Hawkings
In “Quotes & Quips” the late Stephen Hawking is quoted in an apparent defense of an argument for the necessary existence of God. (The rest of the famed quote continues, “Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”)
Of course, this argument begins with a premise that everything must have a raison d’étre, and cannot simply Be: essentially that for something to exist there must be a reason for its existence. Yet this ontological premise has been philosophically refuted by a broad range of philosophers and perspectives, from David Hume to Buddha to Carvaka’s empiricism, concluding it is quite possible there is either no need for such an answer, challenging the argument’s premise, or even that the question is language suspect (Wittgenstein). In Hawking’s final book (Brief Answers to Big Questions) he overturns his own earlier thinking: “Science has a more compelling explanation than a divine creator,” and “For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator….” Hawkings was a devout atheist.
KAILASH SIVAM DHAKSINAMURTHIA
Claiming Your Omnipresence?
Bodhinatha Veylanswami’s Publisher’s Desk “Claiming Your Omnipresence” in the 40th Anniversary edition of HT deserves special notice and praise for its lucidity. Satguru Bodhinatha, a true king of the Raja Yoga path, offers an illuminating account of the state of omnipresence, including a handful of practical exercises for one to discover this state of consciousness. I might add that the activities are also fun! At the core of the Yoga Sutras is the key teaching of disuniting awareness from what it is aware of, thus becoming the experiencer or free traveler within the mind, as Veylanswami would say. He is encouraging modern Hindus to experience for themselves one of the central teachings of the Sanatana Dharma—the essence of the soul is pure existence, consciousness and bliss.
Crimes Against India
I commend you for being bold enough to include the article “Why Do Christian Missionaries Dislike Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh?” I have personally gone on two lecture tours in India’s northeast, as organized by the RSS, and have seen and heard about the damage that such conversions have done in this area, and the resistance to them, as well as in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Your publication is one of the few that discusses this issue, which all Hindus should know about and understand from a realistic perspective. That is why I wrote my book, Crimes Against India, because it is time that Hindus give up their apathy and rise up to defend and protect their culture. Please continue to expand the awareness of Hindus everywhere on this issue.
The article on dance teacher Priyamvada Sankar of Montreal (Hinduism Today, April/May/June, 2019) was written by Nandini Ramani (the younger sister of Priyamvada Sankar), from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. This was perhaps unclear as the byline read, “Nandini Ramani, Canada”—indicating the author and the location of the story.
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The Status of Sanatana Dharma Today
Vamadeva Sastri discusses HINDUISM TODAY’S influence on the future
Pandit Vamadeva Sastri (Dr. David Frawley), author of thirty books on Sanatana Dharma, is the founder/director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies in the USA. In 2015, he received India’s prestigious Padma Bhushan award in recognition of his influential work. He is in touch with Hindu groups and leaders around the world and is considered a bridge between India and the West. We asked him to share his insights on India’s and Hinduism’s current evolution.
Q: Panditji, how are Hinduism and Mother India faring today?
The current election in India transcends ordinary politics because the result will deeply affect India, Hinduism and the world. The people will opt for one of two competing ideas: 1) that India didn’t really exist before 1947, and is without a previous identity; or 2) that India is an ancient dharmic civilization, continuous to this day, and that it needs to awaken to its unique Bharatiya identity, its ethos, gurus, values, teachings and practices. Will the people choose for India’s deeper self, or let it drift toward being just another modern place like China or the USA, the Middle East or Europe? India will, of course, remain its endlessly tolerant self, more diverse than probably any other culture or subcontinent in the world. The idea is not to exclude others, but to allow the Hindus a voice as to their destiny, one they are just beginning to claim. This will sound strange in the West, where it is assumed that India, being a Hindu country, is naturally run by Hindus. But in fact, India has been largely run by people who do not call themselves Hindus and often work against Hindu causes. For example, textbooks in India still follow the colonial narrative denigrating Hindus and Hinduism. A thriving Hindu India will be good also for the whole world, as it will share ever more generously of its wealth of values, yoga, ayurveda, mystical teachings, broad perspectives and wisdom. It will also generate rich and much-needed dialogs.
What forces are opposing Hinduism?
Because Hinduism is reviving to some extent, opposing forces are also rising. They see Hindu perspectives as a threat and rarely allow or recognize them. There’s still a lot of outside interference in India, vested interests, foreign NGOs, missionaries of all ilk creating havoc. With the rise of Islam, new anti-Hindu concepts have entered the fray such as “Hindu nationalism.” No Hindu group says, “We are Hindu nationalists.” It is a fabrication from the outside whose only apparent purpose is to cast a dark pall over Hinduism and all it stands for, including efforts to give Hindus a voice in their own country. Hinduism Today has taken on these distortions very well, including disentangling the confusion in many Hindus’ minds about all religions being the same. We need more of that sort of viveka. Indian and Western media have been harsh. New York Times or BBC coverage of anything Indian, for example, is consistently negative, sometimes even grotesque. They perpetuate the 19th-century British and missionary narrative of a backward India, as if no civilization existed before the arrival of Western conquerors. The academic world is often disingenuous, too, denigrating and demonizing all things Hindu. Hindu leaders who disavow the connection to their own roots also add to the confusion. I am thankful that Hinduism Today is taking a strong stand before these challenges in a way that is authentic, positive and protective of the higher tradition.
Pandit Vamadeva Shastri and Swami Avdheshanand at the 2019 Kumbh Mela.
How is HINDUISM TODAY magazine making a difference?
The magazine has provided excellent models and useful ideas that have had an important impact, your coverage of the textbook issue in the USA, for example. Hindu leaders I’ve met do examine what you say, how you say it and how you reshape the Hindu message from what it used to be, unifying it into a one solid vision. In India there are many useful magazines and groups, addressing history, politics, society and movements. But a voice on behalf of Hindu dharma as a whole is extremely rare. I think Hinduism Today excels in addressing the issues in depth while highlighting Hinduism’s universal aspect. It is great that Hinduism Today is articulating that message. Another aspect of its success is showing how to use an English idiom that avoids the distortions we find elsewhere. Most importantly, the magazine has upgraded Hinduism’s image at a media level, which plays an important role in the India context as well. The magazine is also influential in digital realms, making its impact truly global.
What can our readers do to help?
I wish more people would help so the message of Sanatana Dharma can have more currency and begin to affect academia and the media. It is not just Hinduism that is challenged today—so is the Earth, nature, indigenous peoples and cultures, health and peace in society. The best way to help all around is to support Hinduism. And the best way to support Hinduism is to support this magazine, one of its strongest and most effective voices. What we see about us today is an aberration. Our true humanity is found in the teachings of yogis and rishis. Yoga, Vedanta and ayurveda don’t exist of themselves. They arise out of Sanatana Dharma and are sustained by it. The magazine makes that point again and again, reconnecting each particular to its source and opening doors to vidya, the true knowledge we need to go forward into an age of consciousness. Here are the answers the Kali Yuga could not provide. I think what Hinduism Today teaches goes far in educating Hindus of all sampradayas as to what Hindu dharma really is, and how to talk about it so that today’s citizens can understand—the children, the youth especially, because they need to understand so clearly what their Hinduness means that they can never again be thrown by the distortions that will swirl about them for a long time to come.