A school in the San Diego, California, area recently implemented a yoga program for their students. Several Christian parents banded together to attempt to stop the teaching of yoga in the school on the basis that yoga is religious in nature. The judge who gave the ruling stated, in summary, yoga as it is taught in the USA is distinctly American and not religious in nature. Do Hindus believe that yoga is religious in nature? If so, do they think this case may set a precedent of publicly separating their religious heritage, yoga, from their religion? If “yoga” as it is taught in the USA is distinctly American, is it truly yoga any longer? I wonder if there is any benefit in the larger Hindu community stepping forward, affirming that yoga is religious and establishing Sanatana Dharma’s claim upon yoga in this modern commercial era?
WHITTIER, CALIFORNIA, US
I am writing in response to the September 25, 2014, article in Hindu Press International titled, “Did you Study Indian History and Hinduism in California During 6th Grade?”
I live in London and have two children—one in 3rd grade and one in 1st grade. Although I may not be able to help directly with your question, I would like to raise some important issues for you to consider during this project.
My daughter has also come home on a few occasions and said “Mom, I do not want to be Indian or Hindu!” Through the last couple of years they have studied the Victorian era, the Viking period and British slave trade. All of which included far more inhumane acts than the caste system has ever or will ever bring about.
The Victorian era included the pathetic conditions that children worked and died in and the corporal punishment they suffered. However no British child felt ashamed or apologetic to be British. Another class taught that the Vikings brutally cut off arms and fingers. One of the girls in the class, who’s family are descendants of Vikings, proudly stood up and said “ I am a Viking!”
History is history and cannot be changed. While I am all for teaching the positives that came and come from India, my feeling is that we need to look deeper into the fact as to why we feel ashamed of being called “Indian.” Why does a question about our past make us feel ashamed or apologetic, as though we represent those things, and yet a Western child feels proud of his or her heritage, however brutal? Is it that parents somehow pass this shame on to their kids? Is it the parents themselves who don’t feel proud of their heritage and culture? Why do we inherently feel apologetic for who we are? Why are we not able to study the caste system objectively and academically?
Thank you so much for the wonderful magazine HINDUISM TODAY. My family and I are learning so much about our religion and culture from this amazing publication. I’m a Indian-American Hindu, and I strive to follow the path of ahimsa (nonviolence) every day. I live by the sacred phrase, “ahimsa parama dharma,” which means, “nonviolence is the supreme way.” According to the Bhagavad Gita, God resides in every creature, so I try my best not to harm animals. According to the Bhagavata Purana, “Deer, camels, donkeys, monkeys, rats, creeping animals, birds and flies should be considered no different than one’s own children.” I strongly feel that animals should be respected and that it is my responsible to do so. I have no right to use animals for my personal use.
The United States may be a majority meat-eating society, but its people are becoming more compassionate every day. Thanks to blogs, YouTube, Internet forums, Facebook and Twitter, the cruel conditions of animals in the meat and leather industries have been exposed and people are becoming inspired to help stop the suffering of innocent animals. Whenever I tell my friends and family in India, that I’m thriving on a vegetarian diet in US, they find it hard to believe. People generally have the notion that it’s hard to be a vegetarian in Western countries.
Many decades ago it was considered weird to be a vegetarian in the US, but these days it’s trending. Libraries and bookstores are awash with vegetarian cookbooks and the Internet is brimming with numerous food blogs containing healthy and nutritious recipes. These days you can get vegetarian food at airports, hospitals and in school cafeterias. Before visiting a new city or a country, I make it a point to visit happycow.com and search for information on the area’s vegetarian restaurants and health food stores. In short, the United States is a paradise for vegetarians, despite what people may think. Even everyday items that once contained animal products can now be found in animal friendly versions. These days many companies are going animal-friendly by also not doing animal testing. The website leapingbunny.org is a great resource for cruelty-free companies and products. Sometimes, cruelty-free products are a bit expensive, but I take comfort in the fact that I’m not involved in harming animals.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, US
Annual Statement of Ownership
Statement of ownership, management, and circulation (required by USPS DMM 707.8.3) of Hinduism Today, published four times a year at 107 Kaholalele RD, Kapaa, HI 96746-9304, for October 1, 2014. General business offices of the publisher are located at 107 Kaholalele RD, Kapaa, HI 96746-9304. Name and address of publisher is Swami Bodhinatha Veylan, 107 Kaholalele RD, Kapaa, HI 96746-9304. Name and address of editor is Swami Sadasivanatha Palani, 107 Kaholalele RD, Kapaa, HI 96746-9304. Name and address of managing editor is Swami Arumugam Katir, 107 Kaholalele RD, Kapaa, HI 96746-9304. Owner is Himalayan Academy, 107 Kaholalele RD, Kapaa, HI 96746-9304. There are no known bondholders, mortgagees, or other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities. The average number of copies of each issue during the preceding 12 months is: (a) Total number of copies printed: 12,153; (b) Paid circulation: (1) Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, and counter sales: 5,575; (2) Paid or requested mail subscriptions: 3,822; (c) Total paid and/or requested circulation: 9,397; (d) Free distribution by mail: 694; (e) Free distribution outside the mail: 1,368; (f) Total free distribution: 2,062; (g) Total distribution: 11,459 (h) Copies not distributed: (1) Office use, leftovers, spoiled: 694; (2) Return from news agents: not applicable; (i) Total: 12,153; Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 82.01%. The actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date is: (a) Total number of copies printed: 11,873; (b) Paid circulation: (1) Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, and counter sales: 5,529; (2) Paid or requested mail subscriptions: 3,827; (c) Total paid and/or requested circulation: 9,356; (d) Free distribution by mail: 664; (e) Free distribution outside the mail: 1,178; (f) Total free distribution: 1,842; (g) Total distribution: 11,198; (h) Copies not distributed: (1) Office use, leftovers, spoiled: 675; (2) Return from news agents: not applicable; (i) Total: 11,873; Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 83.55%. I certify that all information furnished above is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this statement or who omits material or information requested on the statement may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including multiple damages and civil penalties).
Swami Durganatha Shanmuga, Administrator.
I have been enjoying your informative magazine for years, but I sometimes wince when I read its references to Christianity. The most recent edition, it is asserted that Christians believe that “only good Christians will be saved and accepted into heaven.” Certainly there are Christian sects teaching this, but the major denominations, comprising the vast majority of Christians, do not. We all believe that Christ is the Savior, but we do not limit His saving activity to the confines of the Church. I suspect there are Hindu fundamentalist sects with perspectives not shared by mainstream Hindus. There are also Christian fundamentalist sects with perspectives not shared by mainstream Christians.
REV. DR. KEVIN HOLSAPPLE
I am unable to put in words my appreciation of your laudable work through this magazine and letting the world know the happenings and awakening taking place regarding the only True Dharma—i.e. Sanatana Dharma which is presently known as Hindu Dharma—has evolved. We have reached the philosophical pinnacle in the principle of Advaita while permanently laying down the proper and best way to lead this life in conformity with nature and surroundings—the basis of which is love of everyone and everything.
In the last century the exploitation of nature and the pollution of all natural resources came to light. Now all the world is scared of this, but has no solution to this problem engulfing humanity and Mother Earth itself. All the wise persons are busy pondering this, which will at least delay the end.
According to His Most Divine Rishidev Narendranji, the founder mentor of Shakthiveda Research Foundation, the world is living in Sat Yuga, the Golden Age of Truth, since September 9, 2006. There is no need of a new name for the New Age.
Mental and elemental cleansing shall be the cardinal plan of action for human beings in this Sat Yuga. If the mind is not contaminated, noble thoughts will flow inwards incessantly. Cleansing has to be done in psychospiritual and physical levels through the procedures bestowed by the Supreme Creator. Purity of mind, body and soul will be thus attained. By purification of thoughts, worries will be mitigated. Subsequently, Truth will be accepted and established through noble activities.
By traditional dating, mankind is now experiencing the Kali Yuga, which began at midnight, February 18, 3102 bce and will end in approximately 427,000 years. However, according to Hinduism Today’s founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, in his book, Lemurian Scrolls, we are actually in the Sat Yuga. It began when man learned to light the night by his own devices, marked by the inventions of Thomas Edison and others in 1879.
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When Spirituality Hits You over the Head
How you can help disseminate Hinduism’s treasures and help souls find their way
AFTER HAVING LIVED CHALLENGING and spirited lives in Alaska, Peshani and Shyamadeva Dandapani recently retired to a warmer Oregon, where they now enjoy a quiet spiritual retreat.
Since she was 15, Peshani has flown airplanes for sport and as a profession. For 20 years, she taught and trained pilots while also flying air taxis to all parts of Alaska.
Shyamadeva grew up in the wild, wild wilderness of Alaska, “beyond the end of the road,” he explains. “Our family lived off the land, without electricity or modern amenities. There were no people around; our neighbors were bears, moose, caribou, wolves and dozens of other critters. And there was lots of silence.” To attend school, he canoed two miles downriver in the summer, and skated the same route in the winter. He eventually emerged from the wilds to join the military which, by comparison, struck him as the soft and easy life.
In 1994, while on the island of Kauai, they happened upon the book Dancing with Siva by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder of HINDUISM TODAY. “We were stunned, as if the book had hit us over the head. In just a few words, it answered our most urgent life-questions. Then, incredibly, we learned the author and guru was living just a few miles from where we were. We rushed to meet him, and the rest is history. One year later, we were proud and happy Hindus. We read and reread the guru’s works and his magazine, we set up a home shrine and began daily sadhana. What we’ve learned and become since, nothing else in life can compare.”
Peshani and Shyamadeva have supported HINDUISM TODAY generously for 20 years. “And we’ll support it for the rest of our lives,” they pledge. “We visualize the Hinduism Today Production Fund [which is a part of Hindu Heritage Endowment] one day growing strong enough to allow the magazine to publish more often, so that more souls may be ‘hit over the head’ as we were, and find their way.”
Testimony: “Hinduism Today helps free us from the bonds of ordinary thinking.”
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