Navigating Tough Times
The article “Navigating Challenging Times” means the world to me, because this is one of the most difficult times of my life. I am incarcerated; my release is soon. However, I am exiting prison and entering an outside pandemic world filled with fear and anxiety in which I must become a productive member of society. I must remember to “face issues of today... rather than dwell on history and the past” and rely on the infinite God, Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahman! I stay in today, and await my next copy of HINDUISM TODAY .
A NGELIQUE M ATHIS , #86158
B OISE , I DAHO , USA
Ambassadors of Dharma
Namaste Bijay bhai! What an inspirational OpEd (“Why I Became a Dharma Ambassador”) in the Jan. 2021 issue of H INDUISM T ODAY ! You led the reader from youth in Bharat to early confusion in America, all the way to your successes today, a journey that thousands of others are also undertaking. Your article in this international magazine, combined with Zoom technology, will help and inspire so many more to also become Dharma Ambassadors around the world.
E ASAN KATIR
C ALIFORNIA A DVOCACY D IRECTOR
H INDU A MERICAN F OUNDATION
Diwali for the World
Because of this pandemic, in Trinidad and Tobago we have had to cancel several major cultural and religious programs—namely Divali Nagar, Carnival, Panorama—and even political assemblies. The populace has taken it with great ease and cooperation. This is a commendable sacrifice for which we must applaud ourselves.
Still, it is disheartening to undergo these traumatic times. Let all peoples, regardless of social, economic, cultural or ethnic stock, use the message of Divali to usher the world into order and respect, so that the lights of Divali would become infinite.
We in Trinidad and Tobago must respect and imbibe the teachings that Divali provides, and take a serious look at its message of truth, honesty and integrity as a lesson for a peaceful society and world, devoid of false values, violence and convulsions which take us nowhere.
P ARAS R AMOUTAR , F ORMER C OUNCILLOR
T RINIDAD & T OBAGO
Faith and Reason
I read with confusion and disappointment Pradeep Srivastava’s letter to the editor in response to Dakshinamurthy’s response to his previous LTE. Mr. Srivastava makes the claim that “Belief in God is thus indeed a matter of faith. But unlike Abrahamic religions, which rely on blind faith, Hinduism encourages and emphasizes faith stemming from intuition and direct experience that can be felt but cannot be described.”
Is this true? Natural theology, as taught in the Christian faith [distinct from the more mainstream “revealed theology”], relies on no authorities, including the Church or Scripture, but rather natural reason coupled with science. That is not to say that natural theology necessarily contradicts the Church or the Bible , but that the proofs for God’s existence and goodness may be found solely within the bounds of reason and science. The God of Western theism does not contradict or “transcend” the laws of logic. God, according to the Western tradition, cannot do anything logically contradictory, such as squaring a circle. By contrast, the Upanishadic or Vedantic Deity seems to flout the laws of nature by being unknowable through the intellect, and yet one must rely on the intellect of a human guru to gain realization of Brahman. If Brahman is beyond thought, words, etc. then it is literally meaningless to speak of Brahman, as Wittgenstein and the Logical Positivists would say. By contrast, Hindu thinkers such as Sriharsha and Bhartrihari believe that reason is inherently unreliable and that one should simply have faith in the religious authorities who composed the shastras. Even Shankaracharya said that while reason and logic may serve as aides to help one understand scripture, they are not (contra the natural theologians of the Christian tradition) independent means to knowing God. Of course, Chaitanya and Swaminarayan tried to rescue Brahman from absurdity by bifurcating Brahman into Parabrahman (Personal Deity) and Brahman (impersonal effulgent light emanating from God’s personal being, similar to the light emanating from the Holy Spirit). However, there are problems with these Vaishnava interpretations that would take a longer letter to respond to in full.
W. K ENNEDY
D ELEWARE , O HIO , USA
Barred from Entering Temples
It is with great dismay, though not surprise, that I read of the pathetic and vulgar behavior of so-called custodians of Hindu shrines, be they in Nepal or India or anywhere in the world, who would allow entry to an Indian of the Abrahamic faith but not an African or white person who is more dedicated to his Hindu belief than most Hindus of Indian origin. This is not racism; it is something worse, and certainly not a behavior endorsed by any Hindu anywhere in the world.
M ANSUKH M. C HHIBA
E LDORAIGNE , C ENTURION S OUTH A FRICA
I am looking for information on Telugu poets as part of my research on the Bhakti movement. Your article on Tamil, Kannada and Malayala poet-saints has helped me greatly in getting an insight into their times and works. Can you kindly share a link to articles on Telugu poets, please?
S INDHU Y ALAMANCHILI
A NDHRA P RADESH , I NDIA
Numerous Telugu poets contributed abundantly to the Bhakti Movement, such as Bammera Pothana (15th c.), who authored the Potana Bhagavatam, a translation of the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana into Telugu. Telugu Bhakti saints are especially prevalent in the Carnatic music world. Prominent examples include saint-composers Thyagaraja, Annamacharya and Bhadrachala Ramadasu, whose kritis (compositions) form a major part of any Carnatic musician’s repertoire. A wonderful book of English translations of Annamacharya’s poems is God on the Hill ( amazon.com/God-Hill-Temple-Poems-Tirupati/dp/0195182847) . Thanks for your interest!
Lakshmi Chandrashekar Subramanian
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Letters may be edited for space and clarity and may appear in electronic versions of H INDUISM T ODAY .