It Has Changed My Life
Thank you for the blessing: at the beginning of the month I received the September issue of HINDUISM TODAY. I cannot put into words enough to justify how moving it has been, being able to read the articles. The magazine has changed my life. I have learned so much about Indian culture and Hinduism. I’ve learned how to deal with issues in my life as well as issues concerning my past. In many ways HINDUISM TODAY has made me think better, more clearly and it has made me strive to be a better me, and because of that I believe I can be a more successful person. I hope to be able to continue learning from the magazine and hope other can be uplifted by it too.
Ritual Is a Communication
It is unfortunate that so many modern Hindu youth apparently dismiss ritual as irrelevant and unnecessary (“Let’s Hear From Hindu Youth,” Jan/Feb/Mar 2019). A ritual is simply a method, a way of getting something done. Writing a computer program creates a ritual for the computer to follow. Keying in a telephone number or URL is a ritual for contacting another person or reaching a website. If not done, or not done correctly, the desired result will not occur. Similarly, Hindu worship rituals are proven methods of contacting the Deity being worshiped. Performing or attending the ritual, correctly invoked, with an open heart, one can feel the burst of shakti that is released from the Deity which uses the murti as a temporary physical-plane body. Of course, if one’s heart and mind are closed, or the attention is elsewhere, or one does not attend at all, the shakti is not felt.
Greatness of God in Hinduism
I enjoyed reading “A Search of Self-Inquiry” by Shivali Bhammer and “Claiming Your Omnipresence” by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswsami (HINDUISM TODAY, Jan/Feb/Mar 2019). The former states, “God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent,” whereas, the latter states, “God is Satchidananda (Sat-Chit-Ananda) or (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss).” Existence corresponds to the Omnipresence aspect of God; Consciousness corresponds to the Omniscience aspect of God; and Infinite corresponds to the Omnipotence and the Bliss aspect of God. As we can see, all the three characterizations of God are compatible with each other. Thus, while God is undefinable, it is still possible to have an understanding of God at the intuitive level and this understanding can be utilized to meditate on God, attain Self-Realization, and thereby achieve the Ultimate Goal of Moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).
Not a Religion. What Is it Then?
I enjoyed reading “A Search of Self-Inquiry” by Shivali Bhammer which is very well-written. But it accepts dharma as another religion. Following Sanatana Dharma or being Hindu is not following a religion or believing. It is not faith. Dharma is an endless search for truth: very simply doing yoga to achieve samadhi to free oneself from the cycle of birth and death, achieving liberation by becoming one with the creator and the creation.
Any religion must have a beginning, an originator and a following. Sanatana Dharma cannot and does not have any of these attributes. It is indeed unfortunate that many Hindus miss this point and so does HINDUISM TODAY in its articles. It’s a crying shame. It needs correction. As a result of this misunderstanding, many Hindus are converting or have converted to religions, be they alien or Indian, such as Buddhism or Sikhism, or going by a guru’s teachings, such as Shirdhi Sai Baba, or calling oneself an “Arya Samaji” or “Swaminarayana.” We Hindus or followers of Sanatana Dharma have no God. We are a godless culture. The word God is a Christian creation. To accept the word God is to confuse oneself as followers of diluted Christianity.
A Godless, Non-Religion?
Regarding the excellent article by Maria Wirth (“Identity: Be Proud to Call Yourself Hindutva!” Oct/Nov/Dec 2018), I wish to submit the following: Hinduism is described variously as “Sanatana Dharma,” a term used to denote the “eternal” or “absolute,” set of duties incumbent upon all Hindus. In general Sanatana Dharma consists of virtues such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, purity, goodwill, mercy, and asceticism, etc. (Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings. Throughout its extensive history, there have been many key figures teaching different philosophies and writing numerous holy books. For these reasons, writers often refer to Hinduism as “a way of life” or ‘“a family of religions” rather than a single religion.
√ Our publisher, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, addressed the issues raised in the last two letters in his April/May/June, 2013 Publisher’s Desk. Here are some pertinent excerpts:
“Isn’t Hinduism simply a way of life?” This is a question I am frequently asked at satsang gatherings. Years ago, Swami Chinmayananda, founder of Chinmaya Mission, gave a dramatic lecture on the subject (bit.ly/hinduism-a-way-of-life). Here are key excerpts: “‘Hinduism is not a religion. It is a way of life.’ You can today hear it in every drawing room wherever youngsters are sitting and discussing Hindu culture and India. This is a false statement! No thinking man will accept it or give it any credit at all. It is an empty, high-sounding statement.”
Hindus inquiring about the merits of this infamous statement are generally not immersed in the practice of Hinduism. They may have in mind that the sum total of Hinduism is to follow dharma, to live virtuously and fulfill one’s duty, and that there is no need to do more. Hinduism is a way of life, but it is a spiritual way of life, encompassing good conduct, worship, selfless service, scriptural study and meditation. And what is the definition of a spiritual way of life? Religion!
It is intellectual suicide and a global public relations disaster to deny that our faith is a religion. Standing together under the banner of Hinduism, we enjoy the many protections given to religions, and we have a respected, unified voice to the media, to government, to boards of education and planning departments. Hinduism’s finest future is to stand side-by-side with other religions, not other ways of life. Hindus who parrot the notion that Hinduism is not a religion are not serving Sanatana Dharma well. They have failed to see how wrong-headed this posturing looks in the eyes of the world.
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Hinduism Today Gets Two Key Votes of Confidence
IN THE COURSE OF THE REPORTING FOR THE CHAR DHAM PILGRIMAGE, our correspondent, Dev Raj Agarwal, interviewed Swami Ramdev and Swami Avdeshanand at the closing ceremonies of Badrinath Temple, November 20, 2018. During the interview, they gave spontaneous endorsements of our efforts.
Swami Avdheshanand offered: “I have known Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and the editors for a long time. I read HINDUISM TODAYfor the first time in the United States, during the 2000 World Peace Millennium Summit, and have been reading it since then. The magazine is striving hard to preserve Hindu sanskars, culture and consciousness, especially the sentiments of all the sampradayas(religious traditions) we have in this country. My best wishes to HINDUISM TODAY.”
Swami Ramdev said, “HINDUISM TODAY is working as a messenger, a representative, of Hinduism to conserve Indian knowledge, culture and Vedic civilization in the most authentic way. It is the torchbearer of Indian religion, philosophy and spirituality and showing the way to practice it as a ritual. Holding the sublimity of our Char Dhams and the great deeds of our ancestors in the highest esteem, the magazine compares and contrasts the Hindu religion and culture with other cultures, religions and civilizations of the world. The main objective of our life is to move forward and work hard for a bright tomorrow, always reminding ourselves of our history and rich cultural heritage. This is what HINDUISM TODAY is doing with absolute authenticity. Hinduism is a perfect blend of religion, science and spirituality. May you keep up the good work of promoting it. My blessings and best wishes!”
How Hinduism’s Brilliance Helps Light Our Way
YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN A BOON is about to come your way, Niraj Thaker of London, UK, reminisced with our staff recently. “One day in ‘98 or ‘99 I found HINDUISM TODAY online—a simple click that started a major download for me.”
Niraj was born in Mumbai in 1977 and came to the UK 12 years later. His family were devout Hindus. “They would take me to Ganesha puja and Siva festivals, which I enjoyed very much—I’ve always been spiritual. But the understanding was missing, a vacuum that became more troublesome as the years went on. I never imagined answers to my questions even existed—well, maybe deep in India, somewhere far away. Then my sample magazine arrived and within a few minutes my answers were flying off the page, about the Gods, us, me. So, here’s what life’s for… Practical and esoteric answers. Most amazing of all, I was suddenly confident I’d found a source I could really count on. Twenty years later, I still feel that way.”
For years, Niraj, a technical project manager in a London bank, has been ordering 20 to 40 copies of each issue that he distributes all around London to individuals, bookstores, grocery stores, temples and libraries. “One day BBC heard about my enthusiasm and interviewed me for a 20-minute spot on the basics of Hindu belief and practice. I had become that knowledgeable,” he laughs.
In 2014, Niraj introduced Thom Drinkwater of Manchester to the magazine. The moment was transforming for Thom, also. He, too, had long been spiritually inclined, but living with urgent, unanswered questions. Thom, 40, is a business development manager for a freight forwarder. “The job has me traveling a lot, which used to be grueling. Now it is my opportunity to listen to audios of Hindu teachings and practice Hindu mindfulness, trying to hold on to the Now, letting go of the irrelevant.” At home, Thom does daily sadhana under the guidance of his guru, attends Manchester’s Gita Bhavan temple weekly and occasionally dreams of God Siva. “I love Hinduism,” he confides. “It helps you become more who you want to be. I am grateful, which is why I like to support HINDUISMTODAY. I know from experience how much it helps people.” Niraj and Thom both donate generously to the Hinduism Today Production Fund via a monthly automatic donation.
You, too, can help people find a spiritual source they can count on. Can there be a greater cause? Donate to the Production Fund at hheonline.org/donate/pf
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