Letters to the Editor – April 2020

Priests Using Cell Phones

During my recent visit to numerous temples in India, I was stunned to see priests talking and texting using cell phones in between performing divine rituals. I was greatly disturbed by the sight. Cell phones do play a pivotal role in day-to-day life, but technology should not invade the sacred realm. Priests who are the facilitators of Divinity and devotion to folks should avoid cell phones and smartphones at least in temples. Temple authorities should restrict cell phones and other electronic gadgets inside the inner sanctum of the temples.

In India, it is good to hear that some temples have banned cell phones inside the temple, as devotees are distracted when folks talk and take selfies inside the temple. I hope all the temples in India and other countries ban the cell phones, and thereby help the devotees to focus only on God.

KUMUDHA VENKATESAN,
ATLANTA, GA, USA

Working for Pakistan Hindus

I appreciated the excellent coverage of Pakistani Hindus (HINDUISM TODAY, OCT/NOV/DEC, 2019) Their story is very important for every Hindu to know about. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has done some work for Pakistani Hindus as well. HAF has advocated for the rights of Pakistani Hindus through the publication of reports and policy briefs (hafsite.org/our-work/human-rights-issues), and statements and participation in events in the United States Congress (hafsite.org/human-rights-countries/pakistan). HAF has also spearheaded the Medical Health & Seva Initiative in conjunction with Sindhi organizations to provide grant funding for health care services, such as what you covered in Jodhpur (hafsite.org/whats-new/medical-seva-and-health-initiative-serving-pakistani-hindu-refugees). HAF’s YouTube video Victims of History: The Untold Story of Pakistani Hindu Refugees in India (youtu.be/RXEN2_qf7tg) interviews actual Hindu refugees from Pakistan and highlights their grim but hopeful plight. India has recently passed legislation that will expedite providing many of them with citizenship, and a pathway to integration within India’s pluralistic and syncretic society. HINDUISM TODAY does a great service to Hindus worldwide by connecting the diaspora, sharing stories of success and hardship, and suggesting ways for Hindus to help each other such as through HAF’s projects and the Hindu Heritage Endowment.

MIHIR MEGHAN, CO-FOUNDER, HAF
FREMONT, CA, USA

A Great Source of Inspiration

My husband and I have been reading and following Hinduism Today for many years. It is a great source of pride and inspiration for Hindus, as well as a valuable source of knowledge and information and we thank you.

CHANDRAKALA Y. KAMATH
PRINCETON, NJ, USA

The Real Story of Ghanashyam

The real story about Ghanashyam called as Swaminarayan is superb (HINDUISM TODAY, OCT/NOV/DEC, 2019). I attend their programs occasionally. I enjoy their bhajans and prasad. But I did not know at all how great Swaminarayan was. He was definitely a divine individual, because he walked barefooted across Bharat, Nepal, etc., at a young age and, at that age, he explained the difficult subject of philosophy to many crowds on his way. I learned a lot. Thanks to HINDUISM TODAY and its editors. I will be talking about this when I attend their programs. No wonder Swaminarayan sanstha has thousands of followers. I do not get much from their discourses because they are in Gujarathi language. I mentioned to one of the organizers to have an automatic English translator, if such is available. You have very well dealt with the subject Akshar Purshottam. Every reader will be happy to know about the tremendous intellectual work done by Shri Bhadreshdas Swami. Everyone can learn much from reading it. Thanks.

PRABHAKAR G. JOSHI
LIBERTYVILLE, IL, USA

Swaminarayan Vedanta

I want to thank you for this amazing article published by HINDUISM TODAY featuring Swaminarayan Vedanta. I am extremely amazed by the article. (HINDUISM TODAY, OCT/NOV/DEC, 2019) I am a part of the Swaminarayan sect, also known as BAPS. This article has many amazing key points and interesting justifications about the Swaminarayan Vedanta. I am amazed by the portrait of Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan and Shri Gunantitanand Swami on the cover. Thank you very much once again.

DHRUVIL PATEL
CHARLOTTE, NC, USA

God Exists as the X Factor

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sadguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami’s article, “Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist” (HINDUISM TODAY, JAN/FEB/MAR, 2020). It’s true that many young people, especially the college-goers, take pride in announcing to their parents that they are atheists. I suspect there are basically three reasons that contribute to their atheistic mindset: peer pressure, influence of secular-minded college professors, and folks like Bill Maher, an American comedian, political commentator, and television host, who is staunchly anti-religion but is hugely popular among the young folks.

As far as I am concerned, Nature is nothing but manifestation of God. It definitely doesn’t have human origin or any known origin. In algebra, if something is unknown, we assume it to be “X,” not non-existent. Likewise, since the creator of nature is unknown, we don’t assume that the creator is non-existent; we just give the creator a name, like God, Allah, Bhagwan, or simply, Brahman, an “X Factor.” Thus, nature is the circumstantial evidence of the presence of God, so where is any room for atheism? How can there be a clock if there is no clockmaker? Therefore, it’s totally illogical to assume that God doesn’t exist.

PRADEEP SRIVASTAVA,
ALBANY, CA, USA

Modi Ad: Religion and Politics

The Prime Minister of the largest democratic country in the world visiting Houston was a landmark event and a proud moment for all Houstonians. The Hindus of Greater Houston celebrated PM Modi’s visit as an added honor in relevance to the chosen words of Swami Vivekananda’s famous quote,” I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”

Hindus of Greater Houston was started in 1989 uniting Hindus together with the goal to bring out the core tenets of the Hindu faith and showcase it to all others. In a span of thirty years, we have grown from three temples to 32-plus temples in the Greater Houston area. The ad placed in HINDUISM TODAY magazine in the Oct/Nov/Dec 2019 issue does not reflect any political campaign, or rhetoric to be misconstrued as one. It was a momentous occasion for us to share with our Hindu community, our joy to celebrate our leader who firmly believes in Sanatan Dharma values. It is a reflection of our love and support for India, our motherland and US, our adopted country.

THARA NARASIMHAN
PRESIDENT, HINDUS OF GREATER HOUSTON, TX

Your Employer May Want to Support Hinduism Today, too!

How one family suddenly discovered their company had a matching gift program

“PLEASE INFORM EVERYONE YOU KNOW!” Anil and Devajoythi Kondapi urged our staff after discovering that the company Anil works for, Intel, has a matching gifts program, “For ten years, we had no idea the company was prepared to give an equal amount each time we donated to HINDUISM TODAY. If only we’d known! We’re now doing all we can to spread the word, so others don’t miss out as we did.”

A matching gift program is one where a company will donate to an eligible nonprofit organization in response to gifts made by employees to that organization. Most often, the gift is matched dollar for dollar, but some companies double, triple, or even quadruple it!

Devajyothi and Anil Kondapi: on pilgrimage at Hinduism Today’s international headquarters at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery in Hawaii

“We encourage your readers to check with the company they work for,” urges Anil again, “see if they have such a program and take full advantage of it if they do. The practice is more widespread than one might imagine. Sixty-five per cent of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gifts, for example. At doublethedonation.com/matching-gifts/intel-corporation, you can download a list of the 20 companies best known for their matching gifts and get a lot of other useful information. Or you can search “matching gifts“ on your own company’s website.

“Many companies such as ours, Intel, state that they will not match gifts made to religious organizations. At first, we were thrown. But looking deeper, we were overjoyed to find that Himalayan Academy was already registered as eligible with the company; therefore so was HINDUISM TODAY, the journal it publishes.”

Himalayan Academy was founded in 1957 as an educational institution dedicated to sharing the teachings of Sanatana Dharma as a public service. Your company may already have it registered as a qualified recipient. If not, ask them to do so. You can then donate to Himalayan Academy, have your company do the same, then send a note to to direct the gifts to HINDUISM TODAY, to other Academy publications or—most helpful of all—to the Hinduism Today Production Fund.

Devajyothi and Anil live in Portland, OR, USA, and have generously supported the magazine since they discovered it ten years ago. “It has reawakened in us the philosophy of our heritage. The world needs a sound philosophy, today perhaps more than ever. Support our magazine and have your company join in—they, too, want to give and uplift the world. Don’t deny them the opportunity.” Donate at hheonline.org/donate/pf • Contact us: 1-888-464-1008.