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July/August/September, 2007 US$5.


Affirming .Sanatana .Dharma .and .Recording .the .Modern .History .of .a .Billion-Strong .Global .Religion .in .Renaissance


p r a s a n na k u m a r
Festival Draws
1.4 Million COVER: .Young .men .depart .the .Sungei .Batu .River .with .blessed .pots .of .milk .they .will .offer .to .Lord .Murugan .after .climbing .the .
272 .steps .of .Batu .Caves .Temple .for .Thai .Pusam .festival; .(above) .a .traditional .patti .painter .at .work .in .an .Orissa .village

July/august/september, 2007 • Hindu year 5109

sarvajit, the all-Conquering year

In t er nat Iona l Books: .New .Titles .on .Lord .Hanuman, .Vedic .Marriage, .
Feature: .Malaysians .Flock .to .Thai .Pusam .Murugan . a .Children’s .Primer .and .Hinduism .in .Posters . 63
Festival .at .Batu .Caves .in .Kuala .Lumpur . 18 Health: .This .Kerala .Ayurvedic .Hospital .Specializes .
Pilgrimage: Young .UK .Hindus .Pilgrimage .to .the . . in .the .Treatment .of .Eyes . . 64
Ancient .Abodes .of .Our .Himalayan .Saints . 34
Crafts: .Orissa .Village .of .Artists .Struggle .to .Preserve . opInIon
and .Adapt .Their .Hereditary .Craftsmanship . . 54 In My Opinion: .Professor .Hari .Chand .Sharma .Talks .
Youth: .An .American-Born .Brahmin .Teenager .Meets . about .the .Wisdom .of .Esteeming .the .Wise . 9
Her .“Untouchable” .Pen .Pal . 60 Publisher’s Desk: Inviting .Success .Into .Your .Life . 10
Sacred Craft: .Six .Traditional .Stone .Carvers .Help . .
Letters . 12
Build .America’s .First .All-Stone .Hindu .Temple . . 66 From the Vedas: Scripture .Speaks .of .the .Restraints . .
and .Observances .at .Yoga’s .Foundation . . 17
lIfest yle
Insight: .The .Hindu .Understanding .of .God, .Soul .and . dIgests
World .and .the .Ways .to .Liberation . 38 Diaspora 6 Digital Dharma 86
Ayurveda: .Part .1 .of .a .Series .by .Dr . .Sodhi .Addressing . Quotes & Quips 14
Teenage .Depression .and .its .Treatments . . 62

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Thai Pusam 2007
Batu Caves, Malaysia

Thai Pusam Day: On February 1, 2007, a million

devotees gathered at Batu Caves outside Kuala
Lumpur. We see them here streaming past the
140-foot-tall statue of Lord Murugan and up
272 steps to the cave temple .

photo: k.shanmugam
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An Audio Library
To the Editor Press International, a
Of Inspired Talks
(e-mail) Daily News Summary
i n t e r nat i o na l camp commenced with 70
First Global youth doing Maha Vishnu
pooja in early morning on

Dutt, “He is the most popular Chinmaya the first day of the year 2007.”
Held during the last week of
Young Swami man in India!”
In April, 2006, Swami held Youth Camp
2006 and January 1, 2007, the
Chinmaya Youth camp in Co-
a conference in Kankhal and imbatore brought together 70
Envisions New announced plans for a 150-acre
site 15 miles from Haridwar, to P rithiviraj from the uk
reports, “Soft morning
young people from all over the
world. Prithiviraj says, “It was
World Health include a hospital, dispensary,
university, library, accommoda-
sunshine and the warmth of
the 1,008 names of Prabhu wel-
an unforgettable week of pure
devotion and deepest inspira-

S wami ramdev maharaj has

an ambitious and laudable
mission to bring the health
tions for 4,000 and the largest
kitchen in the world. Swami
plans to fund the project with
comed our hearts to a new day,
a new year and a new begin-
ning. Seven days, seven powers,
tion. Each day Swami Swaroo-
pananda, assisted by Br. Rishi
Chaitanya, spoke to us about a
Blessings: 30-foot tall Ganesha in downtown San Franscisco

principles of yoga and ayurveda workshops abroad. He com- one full week of contentment, different Deity. The intensive
to the Indian masses and to the
world at large. After years of
pleted a six-week tour in the UK
in July/August 2006, presenting
love, devotion and understand-
ing. Our first global Chinmaya
camp was truly inspirational, an
amazing way to end 2006 and Lord Ganesha at Macy’s
sadhana, Swami established the his teachings simultaneously in Yuva Kendra (Chyk) intensive welcome the new year, 2007.”

Yoga for all: Swami Ramdev connects easily with the common man.
His charm, sense of humor and clear, simple teachings on yoga are a
Patanjali Yog Peeth and Divya
Yog Mandir complex in Kankhal
(near Haridwar, India). His rise
English and Hindustani to huge
crowds. The message is simple
“To lead a happy life it is impor-
F rom march 30 to april 14, 2007, macy’s put on its
61st Annual Flower Show, “inviting visitors to ‘Imagine India’
and celebrate the county’s vibrant colors, distinctive style, seduc-
big hit. At this UK workshop, he raises funds for his India projects in popularity has been spectac- tant to maintain good health,” tive sounds, delicious food and amazing flowers. From the opu-
ular; his open-air classes draw through asanas and pranayama. lence and grandeur of India’s golden palaces, to the excitement of
thousands. According to UK For more see: Mumbai’s nightlife, to the intoxicating beauty of the spice mar-
their religion’s rules correspondent Krishana Gopal kets, India is a country on the cutting edge that has maintained
for conduct into ac- a strong connection to its rich history. In a salute to India’s rich
tion in the workplace. spiritual heritage, visitors are greeted by a 30-foot tall statue of
Target Stores has acco- Ganesh above the Geary Street entrance. A 75-foot curtain of
modated Muslims’ re- lights serves as the backdrop to the beloved figure and puts on an
fusal to check out pork impressive five-minute light show of color and blooms.”
products, by giving
them another job in
the store. Walgreens is
honoring some phar- Deity worship: Hands-on puja, visualizations, festival enactments
macists’ refusal to
dispense such drugs
as the “morning after” genetics inherited from the Basques of
pill on the grounds northern Spain, who followed
that they are opposed
to abortion. This latter
The Basque the receding glaciers north
some 15,000 years ago to be-
issue is a sticky point
of law; some states are
Ram Sethu: Google Earth image of the limestone shoal between
South India and Sri Lanka, now threatened with breach
Connection come the first inhabitants of the
thawing polar desert. He states
requiring pharmacists
to fill any prescription, india/sri lanka and ecologists are concerned O xford university re- that the subsequent immigra-
searcher Dr. Stephen Op- tions of Celts, Romans, Anglo-
while others are not.
Another large re- Controversy that the loss of Ram Sethu,
which has provided a powerful
penheimer claims that three- Saxons, Vikings and Normans
quarters of Britons’ genes were “contributed no more than five
tailer, whose policy dampening effect on tsunamis, percent to the gene pool.” Elegant design: Lord Ayyappa’s new home in Pretoria, South Africa

Nose ring: Wear it if you want to

strictly limits jewelry
and makeup worn by
Rages Over will endanger India’s coastline
and that the enormous mineral
Ireland If his findings are true, anoth-
er popular belief becomes myth south africa spiritual library, auditorium,

employees, allowed a
Hindu woman to wear
Rama’s Bridge and marine resources of the
area will also be negatively af-
overnight, as Celts, Scots, Irish,
Cornish and English are virtu- Saranam conference facilities and a cre-
P r o f e s s o r 

Rights in the
a nose ring but did not permit
another employee to wear a
tongue ring as part of her
T he land bridge between
India and Sri Lanka, now
underwater, is scheduled to be
fected. Others point out that an
arbitrary border between India
and Sri Lanka will impact lo-
c l a i m s 
B r i t i s h   a r e 
d e s c e n d e d 
ally all the same blood—and it’s
not Anglo-Saxon.
Some researchers contend
Ayyappa! In 2001, Dr. R. Kolapan, D.
Dherman, K. M. Pillay and
Njaanasagren Govender vis-
f r o m   t h e 

Workplace religion’s requirement of daily

breached in the us$50 billion Se-
thusamudram dredging opera-
cal maritime communities on
both sides who have heretofore
Basques that the genes of Europeans
are too similar to make such a I n 1997, the pretoria bha-
janai Mandram dedicated
ited India and presented the
plans to the Shankaracharya
In another precedent-set- tion to create a continuous navi- moved freely in those waters. Basque postulation. But one person has itself to building South Africa’s of Kanchi for His blessing and

H indu women in the us

who wish to wear their
nose ring to work probably have
ting case, a Jehovah’s Witness,
whose faith forbids weapons,
was awarded unemployment
gational channel between East
and West India and eliminate
the 30 hours’ sail time needed
Navy and Coast Guard control
will be much more difficult.
The project was initiated by

pointed out that Basque and
Welsh, two of the oldest living
languages, have marked linguis-
first Ayyappan Temple. Devo-
tees purchased 15.1 hectares of
land and developed a prodigi-
had them reviewed by world-fa-
mous temple architect Muthiah
Sthapati. The temple is to be
the right to do so, on religious benefits after quitting his job to go around Sri Lanka. the Indian government without tic similarities. uos plan for a traditional Hin- completed in July, 2007. The
grounds. In recent times Chris- because he was assigned to Hindus are protesting that scientific studies or public hear- DNA research has similarly du temple, along with a clinic, official opening for the Shree
tians and Muslims in America work on tank turrets. the bridge is a sacred historical ings. For more, google “Save The first post-ice age UK resi- rewritten the history of India’s sports facilities, a youth center, Ayyappaa Kshetram is planned
have been successfully putting religious monument. Scientists Ramsetu.” dents may have been Basque peoples. a residence for the elderly, a for early 2008.

c l o c k w i s e f r o m t o p : k r i s h na g o pa l d u t t ; clockwise from top: prithiviraj bahadursingh;

  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 google earth; indra sharma m a c y ’ s ; m . k o l a p e n ; h i n d u i s m t o d ay h i n d u i s m t o d ay 
space formation—extends about 40
miles down into the clouds. The In my opInIon
A Hexagon six-sided shape is in stark con-
trast to the swirling, hurricane-
On Saturn like vortex at Saturn’s opposite
pole. Kevin Baines of NASA’s Jet Respecting our Wise Men
N asa’s cassini orbiter
cameras have captured
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasa-
dena, California, said: “This is a
images of a mysterious gi-
ant hexagon above Saturn’s
very strange feature, lying in a
precise geometric fashion with
India’s village pandits deserve our highest esteem
north pole. Spanning 15,500
miles—equivalent to the width
six nearly equally straight sides.
We’ve never seen anything like rather than the typical, unwarranted criticism
of two planet Earths—the this on any other planet. In- hindu renaissance team
bizarre geometric feature ap- deed, Saturn’s thick atmosphere, Hinduism Today was founded January 5, 1979, By HARI CHAnD SHARmA
pears to remain virtually still in where circularly-shaped waves by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. It is a
the atmosphere as clouds swirl and convective cells dominate, nonprofit educational activity of Himalayan lthough i have lived away from of spirituality and his bhajans are practi-
around it. The infra-red images is perhaps the last place you’d an aware generation: More and younger children are refusing meat Academy with the following purposes: 1. To my home in rural Himachal pradesh cal. Hearing a pandit chant Sanskrit by rote,
show that the hexagon—which expect to see such a six-sided foster Hindu solidarity as a unity in diversity for 30 years, I have returned fre- schoolchildren are encouraged to memorize
contains a smaller six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is.” usa percent of 13- to 15-year-old among all sects and lineages; 2. To inform and quently for visits. on these trips I their lessons.
“No Meat for females are vegetarian. Among
those over 18, 2.3 percent say
inspire Hindus worldwide and people interested
in Hinduism; 3. To dispel myths, illusions and
misinformation about Hinduism; 4. To protect,
have worked with at least a dozen pandits
who performed religious ceremonies at our
Besides Vedic prayers for peace, progeny
and prosperity, a pandit helps villagers by
they never eat meat. By the end home and the homes of other relatives or performing house blessings, weddings and
Me, Dad” of 2007 the number of vegetar-
ians in the US will top 7 million.
preserve and promote the sacred Vedas and the
Hindu religion; 5. To nurture and monitor the
villagers. I found them very sweet, cordial
and accessible, deserving praise and higher
death ceremonies. He speaks respectfully
as he walks through a village. If someone
ongoing spiritual Hindu renaissance; 6. To pub-
D ean winters told his
family when he was just
six that he did not want to eat
Whether the reason is com-
passion for animals, awareness
of the health dangers of meat
lish a resource for Hindu leaders and educators
who promote Sanatana Dharma. Join this seva
wages and certainly not criticism.
I feel that there is much unfair criticism of
pandits for accepting money for their servic-
touches his feet or greets him, he responds
reverentially. He performs pujas in villagers’
homes for the benefit of the elderly who
by sending letters, clippings, reports on events
meat: “I love animals a whole eating or concern about the and encouraging others. es, among many other issues. I have attend- can’t travel to distant temples.
lot, and I really don’t care for ecological impact of meat rear- ed kirtans where the musicians insulted the By talking to a pandit, village folk are able
meat that much.” His father, ing, kids are in the know, and Founder: Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami pandits for being hungry for money—but at to spiritualize their problems. He draws
Harold, said, “At first, I kind of stand their ground in debates Publisher: Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami the end of the session, those same men kept from ancient scriptures and great epics to
fought it and tried to get him with mom and friends. It’s also Editor-in-Chief: paramacharya palaniswami their eyes intently on the harmonium where encourage them. He freely sits in shops and
to eat meat. But he was pretty “totally cool” to be a veggy. Publisher’s Aide: paramacharya Ceyonswami people offered them money. homes to answer their questions and gives
solid about his convictions.” Parents are learning to cope. Deputy Editor: Acharya Kumarswami With little experience outside their own time for them to seek his advice. He quietly
Now, when mom and dad eat Professionals advise: Make sure Managing Editor: Sannyasin Arumugaswami villages, people think that only their own lo- leaves if the talk turns to violence, meat, li-
steak, Dean is served a protein your child gets her protein and Production Manager: Sannyasin Sivakatirswami cal priests take money for religious services. quor, adultery, theft or inappropriate jokes.
substitute. calcium, keep the quantity of Subscription and Distribution Manager:
Salaried officials take bribes and shirk work. pandits are instrumental in arranging
In its 2005 poll of young peo- fat intake down, and your child We pay a fee toward teachers’ salaries and marriages between boys and girls of differ-
Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami
ple, the Vegetarian Resource will be just fine. Remember, a pensions. The benefit of going to school goes ent villages. I witnessed one marriage that
Assistant Editor: yogi Japendranatha
Group ( in Balti- bad diet is a bad diet, whether to the student, and that of a religious cer- occurred even after the pandit who was
Assistant Editor: Sadhaka Satyanatha
more reported that 3 percent of it is burgers and fries or veggie emony to the host. pandits, too, have their consulted counseled against it upon seeing
8- to 18-year-olds are vegetarian pizza, potato chips and salad Advertising Manager: Sadhaka Jothinatha families to support; yet it is the pandit—who the horoscopes of the boy and girl. It was a
(that is, they do not eat meat, drenched in saturated fatty Correspondents: Choodamani Sivaram, Bangalore; typically does not even contract how much failure from day one. perhaps if pandits are
Sani’s mystery: The hexagon above the north pole of Saturn poultry or fish/seafood.) Eleven dressings. Rajiv malik, prabha prabhakar Bhardwaj, madhu he will be paid, but rather helps villagers sidelined, more marriages will be in trouble.
Kishwar, Delhi; mangala prasad mohanty, orissa; V. unconditionally—who is insulted for accept- I have never seen a pandit terminate
S. Gopalakrishnan, Kerala; Archana Dongre, Los An- ing his genuine, charitable income. a ceremony and go home murmuring for
ernment-approved proposal New Delhi RK Mission Center, geles; Lavina melwani, new york; Dr. Hari Bansh Jha, India lives in her villages, and pandits want of money. Though they have known
to slash 17,000 acres of the he was a much beloved and nepal; paras Ramoutar, Trinidad; Anantha Krishan, epitomize the ideals of village culture. Vil- that I’m a nonresident Indian, not one has
Mabira rainforest preserves to widely respected spiritual Chennai; Tara Katir, Hawaii. Copy Editor: Chamundi lagers know their pandit from his childhood. ever asked for any especially high donations.
expand sugar cane plantations. leader throughout India. Sabanathan. HPI Staff: Janaka param, Toshadeva Gu- He has served as a model human to earn most of them did not even look at what was
PRIEStS aRE aDmINIStERINg religious workers to the coun- han, Easan Katir, Adi Alahan, Chandra Sankara, Sha- his honored position. The consistency in offered, but continued with the mantras. It
polio drops to children in the try. See www.hinduismtoday. KaShmIR’S 00-YEaR-olD  thE ISo 9001:2000 cERtIFIcatE ma Vinayaga. Sanskritist: Dr. p. Jayaraman, new york. his character and behavior is awe-inspiring. would be interesting to calculate the total
state of Bihar, India, where new com/hpi/2007/4/21.shtml#1. Mangleshwar Siva Temple was awarded to Malaysia’s Artists: A. manivelu, S. Rajam. Cartoonists: m. Aru- Throughout the functions I’ve attended in expense of a wedding and the proportion
cases of polio are being report- at Baba Demb was reopened 100-year-old Sundararaja mugam, Tom Thaves. Photo Contributors: Thomas L.
homes, if anyone became angry, the pandit paid to the priest—yet when our daughter
ed. “We are keen to wipe out a FINE NEw hINDU tEmPlE after 18 years of closure. The Perumal Temple in Klang, Kelly, Stephen p. Huyler, Dinodia, Dev Raj Agarwal,
remained calm. His tolerance disseminates was married, instead of taking the grains
polio, and we thought involving opened in Florida in March. event was the culmination of Malaysia, in recognition of among villagers. His sermons and advice that were offered, the priest requested that
Gilles Flament, Vel Kadressen, mu Devarayan, Indivar
temple priests would be a good Jacksonville’s first Hindu tem- joint efforts between Pandits quality of its religious, cul- help keep stress and tension under control, we donate them to a kitchen for orphans.
Sivanathan. Web Masters: nitya nadesan, Sadhunathan
idea, as people trust and listen ple, it will serve a congregation and Muslims in the area. tural and social services. cultivating a sense of brotherhood and ame- I have found India’s village pandits simple,
to them,” said Gopal Krishna, of 4,000 Hindus in the area. nadesan. Distribution: USA: Ingram periodicals, new liorating potential burdens on law enforce- sharing and caring. We must learn to appre-
a senior Bihar health official. SwamI goKUlaNaNDajI,   vENtRIa BIoScIENcE, Leaf, EBSCo Subscription Services, oneSource, Ubiq- ment. His presence is a strong deterrent ciate our priests and treat them with respect,
aFRIcaN RIotERS IN UgaNDa  a senior monk of the Ra- a California-based firm has uity. Europe: SWETS Subscription Service. malaysia against drinking in the villages. to strengthen them, not weaken them.
thE US ImmIgRatIoN SERvIcE targeted Indians in April in makrishna Mission, attained received preliminary ap- and Singapore: Sanathana Dharma publications. India: The pandit’s arrival at a home models
is proposing changes to the R-1 Uganda, stoning one man to Mahasamadhi on the morning proval from the USDA to Central news Agency Limited, Delhi. mauritius: Co- religious discipline. Children observe how hari chand sharma lives in Indiana. He
religious worker visa which death after an Indian firm, the of March 31, 2007. He was begin cultivation of rice DIp. Trinidad: pandit narendra & Ashwinee Ragoon- the pandit removes his shoes, washes his has a Ph.D. in genetics and is a retired pro-
make it more difficult to bring Mehta Group, revealed a gov- 79. Long-time head of the containing human genes. anan. Printer: RR Donnelley, Kansas City, missouri hands, chants the mantra Aum. His words fessor of agronomy at Purdue University.

na s a ; k r t / c h u c k fa d e ly
  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 20 07 h i n d u i s m t o d ay    
PuBLISHER’S DESK Don’t blame the building: This businessman is being
warned that recent downturns in his company can be

Planning: the Key to Success

traced to the inauspicious engineering of his office,
there in the background, which should be rebuilt to
assure success. He explains his own solution, exhibiting
his detailed business plan for a better future.

When problems arise, rather than restructuring your the strategy to accomplish them, including financial
A business develops goals for its various departments,
buildings, look to your business and family planning play
such as production, sales, marketing and finance. For
our personal plan, it is useful to divide life into its
major departments. My guru designated a five-fold
B Y S A T G u R u B O D H I n A T H A V E Y L A n S WA M I division that encompasses all aspects of life—spiritual,
social, cultural, economic and educational—to which
new trend in hindu communities Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal we have added a sixth: physiological.
around the world is the widespread, one without a plan is just a wish.” Our first step is to list our goals or objectives in
could even say faddish, application of the each of the six areas. Ask six questions and write
principles of the ancient Hindu science Planning in Business down the answers to each. What are the family’s
of vastu to the design of businesses and Let me share a story. A young (or individual’s): 1) spiritual goals? 2) social goals? 3)
homes. Vastu has always been used in the construc- couple who had pilgrimaged to our cultural goals? 4) economic goals? 5) educational goals?
tion of Hindu temples and in village home design. Kauai monastery told me of their 6) physical and health goals?
In theory, the widened use of vastu in the Hindu ambition to give up their current As you begin this process, the question will sooner
community and beyond is a positive development. employment and open an ice cream or later arise of how many years ahead to plan: one,
Vastu unfolds the scientific principles and shop in Florida. I encouraged them two, three, six, ten? Gurudeva recommended a six-year
models of spiritual art and architecture to yield to develop a solid business plan time frame as ideal, then each year adding one more
a harmonious flow of energy in the physical before starting and suggested work- year to the plan to keep it always six years into the
environment, giving rise to good health, wealth, ing with their local Small Business future. However, if six years seems a bit daunting at
intelligence, happiness and attunment with the Administration (SBA), a government first, a good minimum period to start with is three
wider universe. agency that gives sound advice years. Here are some sample goals in each area.
Renowned Indian architect and Vastu Shastra to small businesses for free. They Spiritual: Yearly pilgrimage to a temple or holy
expert Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati explains: “In literal terms, vastu opened the shop soon after but never took the time place, even if it’s just a few hundred miles away. For
means ‘to dwell’ or ‘to exist’ and shastra means science. The to develop a business plan. A few months later they example, Singapore devotees enjoy group pilgrimages
main aim of vastu science is to create building spaces to live in e-mailed me lamenting that the new business was to temples in neighboring Malaysia. 
harmony with subtle nature.” not doing well. Little wonder, I thought. Social: Extended-family gatherings. Special family
Following vastu principles of design can certainly make busi- My guru strongly counseled devotees on outings. When is the last time your family went
nesses more successful and homes more harmonious. However, the importance of planning. He wrote a sutra horseback riding?
the problematic trend is to emphasize it above all else—thinking expressing the relationship of planning to success: Cultural: Children taking dance and music lessons.
that the sole cause of obstacles and lack of success is the flawed “Siva’s devotees approach each enterprise with Attending cultural performances as a family. Adults
layout of one’s home or office. For example, the sales of a deliberate thoughtfulness, and act only after taking time to paint, play music and sing.
business drop precipitously, and a vastu expert is consulted. He careful consideration. They succeed in every Economic: Saving for the children’s education. Saving
asserts that the cause is the poor layout of the space and advises: undertaking by having a clear purpose, a wise for retirement.
“Rebuild the structure according to my vastu design and your plan, persistence and push.” Educational: Children’s secular education. Adults
problems will quickly disappear!” The quality and comprehensiveness of our plan acquiring new skills. Training to advance career.
We know of many Hindus who received such advice over the is a major factor in our ultimate success. Thus Learning about herbs, healing, making preserves; arts
last few years, some who inadvisedly spent large sums of money it is wise to draw on all the planning resources and crafts.
taking down and rebuilding parts of their home or office—or available to us. There are many good books Physiological: All health goals, diets, pancha karma
moving to a new location—in anticipation that this would solve and software programs on business planning. and other therapies and fasting regimens, exercise and
all their problems. The truth is that in most cases it did not. However, it is essential to also seek out first-hand care of one’s physical environment, including clothing
s. rajam

Designing one’s home and business spaces according to vastu advice from experts in the field. Ask them key and hobbies, can be included in this category.
principles is an excellent goal. When asked, we encourage questions about the opportunities and challenges. As with a business plan, it is necessary to revise your
Hindus to have their new home or business designed in this In large ventures, it is advisable to hire a profes- personal plan periodically to adjust to major changes
way. The traditional, all-granite hand-carved Iraivan Temple sional consultant. Creating a plan when starting a business is diately apparent, having an up-to-date personal plan is quite in circumstances, such as moving to a new community, job
we are building here in Hawaii follows the guidelines of vastu crucial. That plan must then be updated every few years to keep helpful for our spiritual advancement, as it helps us maintain a change, retirement, caring for an elderly parent, children leaving
as interpreted by Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, whom we quoted up with our rapidly changing world. balanced approach to living. home when they marry or go off to college, large inheritances,
above. Regarding vastu remodeling, he observes, “Modifications Once your plan is complete, inaugurate it through prayer. Go To help you create a business plan, there are scores of and severe illness or accident.
of a building lead to a disturbance of energy inside the enclosed to the temple on an auspicious day and worship Lord Ganesha resources available. You can find web listings of specialized When challenges arise, it is important to act swiftly, tactically
space. Hence the shastras do not recommend any post-construc- through attending puja, having an archana or a special abhi­ software for business plans. Search engines give you hundreds and responsibly to find the cause and apply the proper remedy.
tion alterations.… As our modern age has created a lifestyle shekam or homa beseeching His blessings for a grand success. to choose from. But if you google “Personal Plan Software” or Don’t listen to those who would solve your problems, and build
crisis, many architects and designers are now turning to the “Family Plan Software,” how many do you find? Zero. A search their own business, by rebuilding or rearranging your house
ancient traditions of vastu for inspiration. Sadly, this has led to a Personal and Family Planning for books to buy on the subject? Again: countless titles on busi- or offices. It’s not, in my experience, an effective solution. Work
lot of exploitation and misinterpretation.” Of course, the benefits of planning are not limited to the busi- ness planning but none on personal planning. instead on your plan. Who knows, you may become so successful
Common sense tells us that there are many causes for not ness or financial side of life. Personal life can also benefit, for a It is clear we have to create our own approach in this area. We that, as your plan manifests your aspirations, five years from
being successful. In my experience, the most common one is lack plan keeps us focused and motivated toward specific goals in life’s can, however, draw a few important points from business plan now you can put up a new building designed according to the
of proper planning. In the words of French author and aviator various departments. Though the connection may not be imme- resources. They all start by listing the objectives, then outlining venerable wisdom of vastu!

10  h i n du i s m t o day j u ly /aug u s t /s e p t e m be r , 2 0 0 7 c l i c k t h e p l ay b u t t o n at t h e t o p o f t h e pa g e

t o h e a r h i n d u i s m t o d ay p u b l i s h e r s at g u r u
j u ly /aug u s t /s e p t e m be r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   11
b o d h i nat h a v e y l a n s wa m i r e a d h i s a r t i c l e
letters cians and scholars are given far less berth
to rectify erroneous information about their
book publishers take a sincere interest in
presenting Hinduism in a factual manner.
ground on that often misused and misun-
derstood phrase. It comes from the Jewish
Hindu History Lesson the supplement prepared by hinduism in practice really means. It is indeed a sig- culture. It is a breath of fresh air to see this this is the most comprehensive summary Torah, which is also the first five books of
hinduism today’s 16-page hindu his- Today for sixth grade students is a most nificant contribution to creating awareness ancient culture of harmony and nonviolence of Hinduism’s multi-faceted tradition that I the Christian Bible, specifically from three
tory lesson (“Hinduism from Ancient valuable and worthwhile publication. It of Hinduism here in the West. thank you portrayed in accurate light, rather than wit- have seen to date. I wholeheartedly and un- different places: exodus 21:24, leviticus
times,” Apr/May/Jun, 2007) is both correct provides a simple and concise summary of for all that you do to spread Hindu wisdom. ness more of the general bias perpetrated for equivocally recommend its use in all official 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. this phrase
and authentic, and definitely better than Hinduism that is both correct and authentic. Dr. Ved Nanda too many centuries against it. textbooks for students. does not mean that one should exact re-
I have seen in any school textbook. the It is definitely better than any sixth grade President, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh; Vice As we begin to address the disparaging Swami Chidanand Saraswati venge for a wrong. It does mean that res-
Hinduism Today editorial staff deserves school textbook portrayal of Hinduism cur- Provost, University of Denver, CO, USA light to which Hinduism is subjected by the Founder and Chairman, India Heritage titution should be just and fair. If someone
our sincere appreciation and gratitude for rently in use in the UsA. many misinformed and misguided, we must Research Foundation, Rishikesh, India causes another person harm, be it physical
producing this positive and constructive Ved Prakash Chaudhary, Ph.D hinduism today has performed an all take part in undoing, rectifying and heal- or monetary, he should only be responsible
account for sixth grade students anywhere President, Educators Society for the important public service by providing a ing the crimes of the past. specifically, let i have been aware for some years of for returning the value of what was harmed.
in the world. In fact, if each Hindu were Heritage of India, Morganville, NJ, USA clear and accessible text which presents us not turn our backs on the humongous di- the poor presentation of Hinduism in our Prior to this concept, a man might take an-
to learn and remember this narrative, the Hinduism from a Hindu perspective. this lemma now pandemic within Hindu culture: public schools. Both parents and children other man’s life as revenge for a broken arm,
Hindu community would be better off in for too long, school children be- presentation provides a needed counter- the caste system. Apparently, this system is have complained to me about it. the Hindu for example. Justice is very important in the
this increasingly pluralistic society. the cru- ginning their first encounter with the most balance to textbooks on Hinduism which securely tied to the intricately engineered religion is inadequately explained, and in un- Jewish faith. the concept of “an eye for an
cial problem with Hindus has been our in- ancient of living religious traditions in the are sometimes inaccurate or fail to give a political missile programmed to perennially flattering terms in the elementary and mid- eye, a tooth for a tooth” was designed to pro-
ability to succinctly describe Hinduism as a world have been subjected to inaccurate, perspective that would be recognizable to generate and inflict hurt, damage and de- dle school social studies and history books. tect both the rich and the poor, the weak
whole, or even to briefly explain it properly. incomplete and simplistic depictions of most Hindus, and which emphasize nega- struction on Hinduism. In many places, we notice mutilation of facts and the strong.
Hinduism Today’s narrative will go a long Hinduism. Presenting Hinduism from the tives such as untouchability, a practice to Factions against Hinduism can be found in about Hinduism, and often these are getting Jennifer Plunk
way in redressing this prevailing disability. I perspective of its practitioners to those who which many Hindus object. And yet it does many shapes and forms: among India’s poli- quoted. I congratulate Hinduism Today for Ellerslie, GA, USA
endorse it wholeheartedly and without res- are being introduced to it for the first time so in a way which does not whitewash or ticians and religious leaders, european his- addressing this situation with its sixth-grade ∫
ervations. It should be required reading for seems a simple enough concept. Yet, too ignore the problematic nature of caste. the torians and “experts” (who write their own history lesson in Hinduism. this lesson cor-
every Hindu. many Hindu children to date have faced a particular strength of Hinduism Today’s version of Hinduism’s history), and Western rects many of the errors in the current chap- Corrections
Shiva G. Bajpai, Ph.D perplexing disconnect as the religion they presentation is that not only does it not Indologists and academicians—all motivated ters on Hinduism, presents the religion in a ✔ In Diaspora, “Wiccan Wife Wins Cause,”
Director, Center for Asian read about in school bears no resemblance give a monolithic depiction of Hinduism, by one or the other ingredient of the illusion- sympathetic light and describes the religion Apr/May/Jun, 2007, it was indicated that of-
Studies, California State to that which they practice at home. In con- it distinguishes among the various Hindu ary mix of power, fame, wealth, race and in the way Hindus understand and practice ficials approved the pentacle’s placement on
University, Northridge, CA, USA trast, Christian, Jewish and Muslim children traditions—Vaishnava, saiva, shakta and prejudice. it. the lesson is a commendable attempt to Sgt. Stewart’s grave marker after his wife
do not face such a lack of association about smarta—with a degree of detail not typical- Whatever is the motivation for the ongo- produce a simple history of Hinduism that threatened a lawsuit. The grave marker in
coming from an organization which their faith. With this document, the publish- ly found in basic introductions to Hinduism. ing epidemic of misinformation, we have got is acceptable to nearly all in our religion. fact does display the Wiccan pentacle, but
practices, teaches and spreads the message ers of Hinduism Today fill a critical void in though designed for sixth-graders, I to dig deep within ourselves to find the col- C.K. Hiranya Gowda, M.D. its presence is due to the memorial site’s be-
of the most ancient but most adoptive Hin- the educational syllabus for Hindu and non- could imagine myself recommending these lective solution. to do so, we must come to Former President, Hindu Temple ing state-owned, not under the authority of
du faith, naturally this lesson is well written, Hindu students alike. Hinduism Today is sections as review material for my col- terms with the most pertinent question of of Nashville, TN, USA the VA, and Nevada’s having deemed the
factual and clear in presentation for pre- recognized globally as the premier periodi- lege students. the section on the origins of our time: How did Hinduism come to find pentacle an acceptable faith symbol. Ad-
teens to understand, learn and enjoy. read- cal documenting the experience of the Hin- Hinduism is likely to be the most controver- itself mired in the irreverent and inhumane Greatness of Hinduism ditionally, in a settlement with Americans
ing this material not only makes any Hindu du community worldwide. Celebrated for its sial, given the ongoing debates about the state that is the caste system? thank you for gurudeva’s most pro- United for Separation of Church and State
child proud of his/her heritage, but it also commitment to accuracy and professional- Aryan migration theory. But I like the way the greatest contributor to the hurt and found and enlightening article (“Hinduism, on April 23, 2007, the VA finally approved
gives the right facts on one of the major re- ism, Hinduism Today has once again ap- this presentation emphasizes areas in which confusion within Hinduism is the perver- the Greatest religion in the World,” Oct/ the Wiccan pentacle symbol for deceased
ligions in the world. I strongly recommend plied its high standards of rigorous editing our knowledge is still lacking, rather than sion of its harmonious community concept Nov/Dec, 2006). I was not only moved by veterans’ grave markers in VA cemetaries.
“Hinduism from Ancient times” as teaching and artistry to this latest production. While strongly affirming a counter-theory of indig- of varnas, which refers to our inner divinity, his home truths, but his divine greatness
material on Hinduism for ten-year-olds in no document can possibly encompass fully enous Aryan origins as a Hindu nationalist the light of consciousness. A primary mean- is apparent in the lofty philosophy which ✔ In “Canada’s Hindu Youth,” Apr/May/
schools in all states. the breadth, complexity and plurality of Hin- history would do. All in all, excellent work! ing of the word varna is “luster; light of leaves sanatana Dharma without any peer Jun, 2007, the interviewees are from the
G.V. Raghu, M.D. du practice and belief, the Hindu American I am happy to endorse this presentation of dawn,” which reveals the core intention of and, I must add, the only true living religion Hindu Temple in Richmond Hill, not the
President, Chinmaya Mission of Atlanta; Foundation finds that “Hinduism from An- Hinduism. the varna community constitution that has that will survive for all time. I am also mind- Varasiddhi Vinayagar Temple; the correct
Former Chairman, Education Committee, cient times” compromises little in describ- been erroneously and deviously retooled as ful of the oft quoted saying, “What you can- website address is;
Jeffery D. Long, Ph.D.
Hindu Temple of Atlanta, GA, USA ing the universal ideals of Hinduism that the “caste system.” this retooling was de- not find in Hinduism, you will find nowhere the photo of Sivakami Loganathan appears
Chair, Department of Religious
have emerged from its wondrous diversity. Studies, Elizabethtown College, liberately performed by the endless foreign else.” the quest for a perfect life for every on page 53, not page 61, and the musical
Elizabethtown, PA, USA invaders and incursions upon the body and Hindu is intrinsically interwoven in the law
this is a very clear introduction to Hindu American Foundation teacher’s name is Bhuma Krishnan, not
Hinduism. It is in line with the require- Kensington, MD, USA spirit of Hinduism. these incursions served of karma, which can be easily interpreted in Uma Krishnan.
ments of a history lesson and yet manages we are deeply grateful to hinduism to seal the fate of the perverted caste sys- the quotation, “All the good deeds of a life-
to put across some of the more subtle ideas on behalf of the hindu swayamsevak Today for its extraordinary work in present- tem within India. But as the Hindu people time are washed away in the flood caused ✔ The number of saints who authored the
inherent in Hinduism in an eloquent and sangh (Hss), I express our heartfelt con- ing Hinduism in its appropriate historical know, the karma of fate is never sealed. In by a single sin.” the relentless pursuit to Panniru-Thirumurai is given as as 64 in “In
effective manner. the lesson allows us to gratulations and deep gratitude to the entire light, with tangible facts gleaned from Hindu this case, it can and must be changed. transform into the most perfect and eventu- Praise of Siva’s Singers,” Apr/May/Jun, 2007.
picture life in ancient times and manages staff of Hinduism Today for the Hindu experts and scholars to support and broadcast Sri Swamini Mayatitananda ally liberated soul harkens every Hindu on The correct number is 27. Photos in the ar-
to interweave history with the key beliefs history lesson. Your “response to the contro- the intrinsic values of the Hindu tradition. Spiritual Head, Wise Earth Monastery his spiritual journey back to God. ticle are by the author, Anantha Krishnan.
and practices of Hinduism. the correct versy in California over the way Hinduism It is distressing to see Hinduism’s vast Candler, NC, USA Loggienathan Naidoo
historic perspective on the development of is taught in public-school history books” is history belittled and whittled down by the Durban, South Africa
Hinduism is useful, as it allows Hinduism to timely and compelling, and you have ar- hands of those whose personal agendas are the lesson on hinduism presents a ∫ Letters with writer’s name, address and daytime
phone number should be sent to:
take a lead role in directing how spirituality ticulated the message so thoughtfully and ambitious and prejudiced, evidenced by the lucid, authentic and easily-understandable Letters, Hinduism Today
unfolds on the contemporary scene. Con- eloquently. On difficult or controversial is- inured spate of fictitious theories, such as the picture of Hindu history, tradition and An Eye for an Eye 107 Kaholalele Road
gratulations for publishing such a wonderful sues, such as the Aryan invasion theory, your Aryan Invasion/Migration theory once more practices. I hear so many complaints from i saw the phrase “an eye for an eye” Kapaa, Hawaii, 96746-9304 USA
article to address the needs of Hindu youth simple statement that “all the evidence for being resurrected by Western Indologists, Hindu parents and students in the UsA used in the letters section and “Hinduism or faxed to: (808) 822-4351
in the West. it is questionable,” says it all so effectively. Christian theologians and academicians. Un- and europe regarding the incorrect, and and Modern life” in the Apr/May/Jun, or e-mailed to:
Jay Lakhani the lesson provides an exemplary guide to like any other spiritual tradition in America, even frequently demeaning, presentation 2007, issue. I am a Jewish woman who regu- letters may be edited for space and clarity and may
Vivekananda Centre, London, UK the student to understand Hindu beliefs and with the inalienable right to have their cul- of Hinduism in world religions classes. It is larly reads and enjoys your magazine, and I appear in electronic versions of Hinduism Today.
scriptures and to appreciate what Hinduism ture portrayed accurately, Hindu academi- time that the educational boards and text- would like to give your readers some back- ∫ indicates letters received via e-mail

12  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   13 
Frank and Ernest © 2006 thaves. reprinted with permission.

You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s
creatures, be they human, animal or any living thing.
Sukla Yajur Veda, 12.32

You are here to eat mangoes; not to count Meet life as it comes, with or without but vibrations of love. We are sustained
the number of leaves in the mango tree. the things that your mind is demanding by love, and in the end we merge back
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836- from it. Swami Chinmayananda (1916- into love. Baba Muktananda (1908-1982)
1886), guru of Swami Vivekananda 1993), founder of Chinmaya Mission
I don’t have a problem with willpower.
The intellect in its capacity to con- Respect, don’t suspect. Swami Tejoma- It’s won’t power I have a problem with.
tain Truth is a very limited tool, while yananda, head of Chinmaya Mission world to liberate the ignorant and bound are alike. Yet it is one life that throbs in Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-
faith is very broad, accommodating Go beyond science, into the region of souls. Shirdi Sai Baba (1838-1915) every particle of the tree. So, it is the esteem and respect so high that the rest
and embracing faculty. The mystery The best way to cheer yourself up: metaphysics. Real religion is beyond argu- same atman everywhere. Sri Anandamayi of the world can’t poke enough holes to
of life and beyond life, of Siva, is re- Cheer everybody else up. Mark Twain ment. It can only be lived, both inwardly All this universe is in the glory of God, Ma (1896-1982), Bengali mystic make it dry. Alvin Price, American teacher
ally better understood through faith (1835-1910), American author and outwardly. Swami Sivananda (1887- of Siva, the God of love. The heads
than through intellectual understand- 1963), founder of the Divine Life Society and faces of men are His own, and He It is already becoming clear that a chap- The more we thank God for what we
ing. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami Here is a test to find out whether your is in the hearts of all. Krishna Yajur ter which had a Western beginning will have, the more we have to thank God for.
(1927-2001), founder of hinduism today mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, The moment I have realized God sitting Veda, Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.11 have to have an Indian ending if it is not
it isn’t. Richard Bach, American writer in the temple of every human body, the to end in self-destruction of the human The arrow that is shot should penetrate so
It is not in books, you fool. Satguru Siva moment I stand in reverence before every Help wanted: Psychic. You know race. At this supremely dangerous mo- deeply, that even the feathers do not show.
Yogaswami (1872-1964), Sri Lanka’s most Happiness eludes us if we run after it. In human being and see God in him—that where to apply. ment in human history, the only way of Hug the body of the Lord so tightly that
renowned contemporary spiritual master fact, happiness comes only from within. moment I am free from bondage, ev- salvation is the ancient Hindu way. Here the bones must be crushed to a crumble.
It is not a commodity to be bought from erything that binds vanishes, and I am One must be patient like the Earth. we have the attitude and spirit that can Weld to the divine until the very welding
Keep me away from the wisdom which outside. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) free. Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) What iniquities are being perpetuated make it possible for the human race to disappears. Mahadeviyakkha, 12th Cen-
does not cry, the philosophy which does on her! Yet she quietly endures them grow together in to a single family. So tury South Indian saint
not laugh, and the greatness which does It is not surprising that we keep looking You are the only person on this all. Mother Sarada Devi (1853-1920) now we turn to India: this spiritual gift,
not bow before children. Kahlil Gibran for love, because we are all born of love. earth who can use your ability. that makes a man human, is still alive in Wanting to reform the world without
(1883-1931), mystic, poet and artist We come out of love. All of us are nothing Enquire: ‘Who am I?’ and you will find Indian souls. Go on giving it to the world. discovering one's true self is like trying
The Vedas are not only true, but they the answer. Look at a tree: from one Nothing else can do so much to help man- to cover the world with wool to avoid the
contain all truth, including the ideas seed arises a huge tree; from it comes kind to save itself from destruction. pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is
DID YOu KNOW? of modern science. Swami Dayananda numerous seeds, each one of which in Dr. Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975),  much simpler to wear shoes. Ramana Ma-
Saraswati (1825-1883), Hindu reformer its turn grows into a tree. No two fruits British historian harishi (1879-1950), South Indian mystic
India’s Share of the World’s People
One must seek the shortest way and
rom ancient times, about one- Year India World Percent the fastest means to get back home—to
fifth of the world’s people have
lived in India. Today an unparti
 2000 bce 
 500 bce  
turn the spark within into a blaze, to be
merged in and to identify with that great-
tioned India (i.e., plus Pakistan and Ban-   10  35  170  21% er fire which ignited the spark. Swami arma literally means “deed”
arma totality of our actions and their concom-
gladesh) would still account for 22% of   500   50  190  26% Nityananda of Ganeshpuri (1885-1961), or “act” and more broadly names itant reactions in this and previous lives,
the world’s population.   1000   79  265  30% South Indian Mystic the universal principle of cause all of which determines our future. It is
  1500  105  425  25% and effect, action and reaction which the interplay between our experience
  1700  165  610  27% If you lose all differentiation between governs all life. Karma is a natural law and how we respond to it that makes
  1900  290  1,600  18% yourselves and others, fit to serve others of the mind, just as gravity is a law of karma devastating or helpfully invigo-
  1992  895  5,300  17% you will be. Milarepa (1052-1135), matter. Karma is not fate, for man acts rating. The conquest of karma lies in
  2007  1,125  6,585  17% Buddhist saint with free will, creating his own destiny. intelligent action and dispassionate
(population numbers are in millions) The Vedas tell us, if we sow goodness, reaction. Not all karmas rebound imme-

a. manivel
We do not know the various kinds of we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, diately. Some accumulate and return

Source: Atlas of World Population saints, how they behave, what they do we will reap evil. Karma refers to the unexpectedly in this or other births.
History; 2007 from US Census Bureau and eat, etc. We only know that by God’s
grace they manifest themselves in this

14  h i n d u i s m   t o d ay    j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r ,   2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r ,   2 0 0 7    h i n d u i s m   t o d ay   15
Finally, a Fair
and Accurate Hinduism’s Restraints and Observances
Presentation of
Hindu History Sandilya Upanishad expounds upon the twenty yamas and niyamas
for Children andilya is the 103rd of the 108 upanishads and is
attached to the Atharva Veda. It is part of a set of scriptures
called the Yoga Upanishads which deal mostly with ashtanga,
A 16-page sixth-grade social or eight-limbed, yoga. This excerpt from chapter one is im-im
portant for its listing of the ten yamas and ten niyamas. These re-
studies lesson from the straints and observances constitute the first two of the eight limbs
of classical yoga—establishing a foundation of good conduct and
editors of Hinduism Today This young priest
fire ceremony just
anci ent time s.
is conducting a
as was done in
piety so that hatha yoga and meditation can be successful.
believe them to
presenting the Hind
u religion because we
’s own general Om! O Devas, may we hear with our ears what is auspicious, may
Teachers contrary to the State

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
s and and
Note to Studen ts, Par ent
induism Today
magazine’s be
deep ly flaw ed
that teaching material
must: 1) be historical
ly accurate,
or her heritage”
we see with our eyes what is auspicious, O ye worthy of worship!
the way prid e in his
response to the cont rove rsy in California over
ry books. It is a 2) “inst ill in each child a sense of
erse reflection” on a
religion. It is our in- May we enjoy the term of life allotted by the Devas, praising them
in public-school histo for and 3) avoid “adv el for US textbooks,
Hinduism is taught ry, beliefs and practices with our body and limbs steady! May the glorious Indra bless us!
Hinduism Today’s 16-page Hindu history lesson 16-page lesso n on Hind u histo
from the Hindu poin
t of view. It is his- tent that this lesso n will serve as a mod
c depiction of the emin
ent history
sixth graders written providing an authenti 10-year-old Hindu May the all-knowing Sun bless us! May Garuda, the thunderbolt for
is both correct and authentic, and definitely torically soun d and acce ptab le in content and
tone to the
and trad ition s of the faith whil e givin g
r religion.
ns of the Hindu com justifiable pride in thei lement the evil, bless us! May Brihaspati grant us well-being! Om! Let there be
this grade students
better than I have seen in any school textbook. various denominatio
The problem with ever
y existing textbook for In most states teachers
are allowed to supp
erial. This lesson may
be of
is pres ente d neg ative ly, incompletely
textbooks with addi tion al mat
room study of Peace in me! Let there be Peace in my environment! Let there be
If each Hindu were to learn and remember level is that Hinduism
and inac cura tely. This lesso n is patterne d after a typic
e books. It delib
- fered as a mor e accurate basi s for the
in anci ent India .
Peace in the forces that act on me!
ish faith in these sam and development of
this narrative, the Hindu community would be chapter on the Jew
erately doe s not follo w the specific California stan
dards for the origins
a p r i l / m ay / j u n e ,
2007 hinduism to
d ay I-1
NEXT PAGE Sage Sandilya questioned Atharvan thus: “Please tell me about the
better off in this increasingly pluralistic society. CONT ENTS
eight angas (parts or limbs) of yoga which are the means of attain-

Shiva G. Bajpai, Ph.D Director, Center for ing to Atman.”

Asian Studies, California State University Atharvan replied: “The eight angas of yoga are yama, niyama,
asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Of
This lesson corrects many of the errors in the This is the most comprehensive summary of Hin- these, yama (restraints) is of ten kinds; and so is niyama (obser-
current chapters on Hinduism, presents the duism’s multi-faceted tradition that I have seen to vances). There are eight asanas (yoga postures). Pranayama (breath
religion in a sympathetic light and describes date. I wholeheartedly and unequivocally recom- control) is of three kinds; pratyahara (sense withdrawal) is of five
the religion in the way Hindus understand and mend its use in all official textbooks for students. kinds; so also is dharana (concentration). Dhyana (contemplation) is
of two kinds and samadhi (Realization) is of one kind only.
practice it. The lesson is a commendable attempt Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Founder & Chairman, “Under yama are ten: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, daya, Key disciplines: Three of the ten niyamas, or religious observances:
that is acceptable to nearly all in our religion. India Heritage Research Foundation, Rishikesh arjava, kshama, dhriti, mitahara and saucha. Of these, ahimsa is worship of God; scriptural study and japa
C.K. Hiranya Gowda, M.D., Former President, the not causing of any pain to any living being at any time through
Hindu Temple of Nashville, TN, USA This presentation provides a needed counterbalance the actions of one’s mind, speech or body. Satya is the speaking of etc. Ishvarapujana is the worshiping of Vishnu, Rudra, etc., with
to textbooks on Hinduism which are sometimes the truth that conduces to the well-being of creatures, through the pure mind according to one’s ability. Siddhanta-sravana is the inqui-
While no document can possibly encompass inaccurate or fail to give a perspective that would be actions of one’s mind, speech, or body. Asteya is not coveting of ry into the significance of Vedanta. Hri is being ashamed if one’s be-
fully the breadth, complexity and plurality of recognizable to most Hindus. Though designed for sixth- another’s property through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body. havior violates the rules of the Vedas and of society. Mati is faith in
Hindu practice and belief, the Hindu American graders, I could imagine myself recommending these Brahmacharya is the refraining from sexual intercourse in all places the paths laid down by the Vedas. Japa is the practicing of the man-
Foundation finds that this work compromises little sections as review material for my college students. and in all states in mind, speech or body. Daya is kindliness towards tras into which one is duly initiated by his spiritual instructor and
in describing the universal ideals of Hinduism all creatures in all places. Arjava is the preserving of equanimity which is not against (the rules of) the Vedas. It is of two kinds—the
Jeffery D. Long, Ph.D, Chair, Department of Religious
of mind, speech or body in the performance (or non-performance) spoken and the mental. The mental is associated with contemplation
that have emerged from its wondrous diversity. Studies, Elizabethtown College, PA, USA
of the actions ordained (or forbidden) to be done. Kshama is the by the mind. The spoken is of two kinds—the loud and the low. The
Hindu American Foundation, USA bearing patiently of all pleasant or unpleasant things, such as praise loud pronunciation gives the reward as stated in the Vedas, while
or physical aggression. Dhriti is the preserving of firmness of mind the low one gives a reward thousand times that. The mental gives a
during the period of gain or loss of wealth or relatives. Mitahara reward ten millions times that. Vrata is the regular observance of (or
1 Origins of A Þgurine of a married woman shows a red
powder called sindur in the part of her hair.
mountains to the ocean. Therefore, the holy
texts had to be composed well before 2000
2 Hindu Beliefs the physical universe. As immanent, His di-
vine form pervades all nature and humanity.
angels and archangels in Western religions.
Some Hindus consider the Gods and God-

from the
is the taking of nutritious food, leaving one-fourth of the stomach refraining from) the actions enjoined (or prohibited) by the Vedas.
Hinduism andScriptures
Hindu women today follow this same cus- bceÑby which time the river had dried up.

and empty. Saucha is of two kinds, external and internal. Of these, the
In Hinduism, the soul is called atman. desses as alternative forms of the Supreme
tom as a sign of their married status. The The Vedas describe a powerful and spiri- God exists within each soul. The Chando- God, and not as individual divine beings.

pipal tree and banyan tree are depicted of- tual people, their clans, kings and emperors. gya Upanishad explains it like this: ÒWhat Each God and Goddess has particular
ten. These remain sacred to Hindus to this Their society was complex. The economy you see when you look into another personÕs powers and areas of responsibility. For ex-
day. included agriculture, industry, trade, com- eyes, that is atman, immortal, beyond fear; ample, Ganesha is the Lord of Obstacles.
What You Will Learn... If YOU lived then... merce and cattle raising. The Vedas contain What You Will Learn... If YOU lived then...

external is the cleansing of the body by earth and water; the inter-
The banyan tree is a
that is God.Ó Before beginning a new project, a Hindu
Your house is built on a wide, waterless riverbed. Your father tells you it The Vedas thousands of hymns in praise of God and symbol of Hindu- A kalasha is a husked
Main Ideas ism because it gives Main Ideas The king has passed a new law increasing the taxes on farmers. The Hinduism has different branches with may pray to Ganesha to remove any obsta- coconut set in a brass
was once the giant Sarasvati River, five kilometers across. There is not The central holy books of Hinduism are the the Gods. They describe a form of Þre wor- shelter to all who varying beliefs and practices. The four ma- cles blocking his way. pot with mango
1. Many Hindu religious 1. Hindus believe in a one farmers in your village have not had a good year. The harvest is smaller
practices are seen in the four Vedas. Hindus regard them as spoken ship, yajna, around a specially-built brick approach
jor branches are Saiva, Shakta, Vaishnava In the Vaishnava tradition, Lord Vishnu
leaves. It is used in The sacred sound
enough rain to provide for the family’s crops and cattle. Travelers tell Supreme God and also many than usual. The new tax may mean people will go hungry. Some in the worship to represent aum is chanted at
Translated by Swami Prabhavananda
archeological remains of the by God. They are in Sanskrit. The Vedas Þre altar. In several Indus-Sarasvati cities Gods and Goddesses. and Smarta. Saivas and Shaktas call the appears on Earth as a divine personality, or
of another great river, the Ganga, hundreds of miles away. Your father the Supreme God or the beginning and and Frederick Manchester

nal is the cleansing of the mind. This (i.e., internal cleansing) is to K. Narayanasvami Aiyar published this translation of Sandilya
Indus-Sarasvati civilization. were not written down but memorized. archeologists have unearthed what look like 2. Dharma, karma and rein- village want to attack the tax collectors. Others want to lie about the

Supreme God Siva, though Shaktas worship avatar, from time to time to restore morally any of the Gods or end of most prayers
2. The sacred texts of Hinduism and other villagers decide they must move. Students might spend twelve years learning Þre altars. carnation are central Hindu Goddesses.
are in the Sanskrit language
amount of harvest. Still others say a peaceful protest will cause the the female aspect of God. Vaishnavas call right living. Of VishnuÕs ten avatars, Lord
these scriptures. Some would memorize one beliefs. There is a special academic
and were originally memo- How would you feel about the long journey? emphasis on nonviolence. king to change his mind on the tax increase. Him Vishnu. Smartas may choose one of Rama and Lord Krishna are the most im- The Upanishads are the part of the Vedas that teach philoso- spirit said to him: ÒWho The Vedas and Upanishads are written in Sanskrit,
rized but unwritten. Veda, others all four. Even today there are The Aryan Invasion Theory VOcabulary phy. The word upanishad means Òsitting by devotedly,Ó as a are you?Ó a language that is thousands of years old
3. Vedas are the primary Hindu six Deities to worship as the Supreme. By portant. Rama and Krishna are not separate
3. Ancient Indian art and sci- priests who can chant an entire VedaÑas Many school books present an ÒAryan Inva- How would you respond to the tax increase? Why? subordinate
scriptures. There are other whichever name or form, He is the same, Gods. They are two forms of the one Su- student sits near his guru to learn. This excerpt is taken from ÒI am the God of wind.

be attained by means of the Adhyatma-Vidya (Science of Self). Upanishad (slightly edited here) in 1914 along with the Adyar Li-
tHe impact
ence were highly developed. many as 10,500 versesÑfrom memory. sionÓ of India. It is the theory that Aryan important scriptures as well. lower in rank,
BUILDING BACKGROUND India’s known history begins with the Indus- Today one Supreme God. The Rig Veda says, ÒThe preme God. the Kena Upanishad.. It explains the nature of the Supreme As a matter of fact, I am very widely known. I ßy swiftly
Sarasvati civilization, 5,500 years ago. We know from archeology that The relationship between the people of invaders came from central Asia in 1500 seers call in many ways that which is One.Ó In temples and shrines, the Supreme
less important Guided ReadinG
The disputed Building Background From its beginnings, Hinduism has been an pervade God, called Brahman in Sanskrit. through the heavens.Ó
The Big Idea the Indus-Sarasvati civilization and those bce and conquered the indigenous Indus- Aryan Invasion Hindus may also worship Gods and God- God and the Gods and Goddesses are
this culture shows many features of later Hindu practice. open-minded religion. It is a basic Hindu belief that there are many to be present Word Help ÒAnd what power do you wield?Ó
Hinduism developed over
who composed the Vedas is not clearly Sarasvati civilization. It was these foreign- theory is still
The Big Idea desses, called devas, such as Ganesha and worshiped in a ritual called puja. Puja is as You Read Try to sum up the meaning of each sentence
taught as fact in ways to approach God. Hinduism does not dictate one way as the only throughout philosophy ÒI can blow away anything on Earth.Ó
understood. We know that the Rig Veda ers, the theory states, who wrote the Rig

“Under niyama (religious observances), are ten: tapas, santosha, brary as part of his book, Thirty Minor Upanishads. The transla-
thousands of years in India. most books on Hindus believe every soul will Sarasvati. In Sanskrit, deva means Òshining a ceremony in which the ringing of bells, a theory or attitude that in your own words. Guided ReadinG
describes the Sarasvati as the Òmost mighty Veda in Sanskrit. The theory was proposed way. Hindus believe “Truth is one, paths are many” and that every per-
per encompass ÒBlow this away,Ó said the spirit, placing a straw before him.
Understanding Ancient Indian History India ultimately achieve
son eventually finds spiritual salvation.
one.Ó In some ways, these divine beings passing of ßames, chanting and present- to surround and guides behavior
The God of wind fell upon it with all his might, but was unable Word Help
Key Terms of riversÓ ßowing from the Himalayan in the 19th century by scholars in Europe, God Realization. who live in the heaven worlds are like the ing of ßowers, incense and other offerings hold within Once the Gods won a victory over the demons, and though
The early cities of India developed along the Indus and Sarasvati vain
Indus and Sarasvati rivers, p. 2; to move it. So he ran back to the other Gods and said, ÒI cannot adorned
rivers starting around 3500 bce. They are called the Indus-Sarasvati Key Terms excessively proud they had done so only through the power of Brahman, they
Vedas, p. 3; Sanskrit, p. 3 Religion Permeates the Hindu’s Daily Life One Supreme GOd and many GOdS and GOddeSSeS mysterious were exceedingly vain. They thought to themselves, ÒIt was we
discover who this mysterious spirit is.Ó beautifully dressed
civilization or, sometimes, the Harappan culture. It was the largest From indus-sarasvati to modern times

tions had previously appeared in the monthly journal, The Theoso-

Sanatana Dharma, p. 6

astikya, dana, ishvarapujana, siddhanta-shravana, hri, mati, japa

unknown Then said the other Gods to Indra, greatest of them all, ÒO beholding
and most advanced civilization in the ancient world. But the mighty Brahman, p. 6 Hindus base their way of life upon their religion. The Hindu culture who beat our enemies, and the glory is ours.Ó
HINDUISM TODAY’S Hindus believe in a one supreme and loving God. At the same respected one, Þnd out for us, we pray you, who he is.Ó looking at something
TEACHING STANDARDS Sarasvati River dried up, and what was once a fertile area became a Indus-Sarasvati sculptures, deva, p. 7 comes from Hindu beliefs. The key beliefs are in a one Supreme time, they believe in Gods and Goddesses, great spiritual beings consume Brahman saw their vanity and appeared before them as a remarkable
seals and artifacts to destroy completely, ÒYes,Ó said Indra and humbly approached the spirit. But the 2
desert. The people of the region moved to other parts of India and more than 5,000 years
puja, p. 8 God, subordinate Gods and Goddesses, heaven worlds, the divinity who help us.
nature spirit. But they did not recognize Him. 1 attained
This column in each of the three karma, p. 8 of the soul, dharma, karma, reincarnation, God Realization and lib- as by fire spirit vanished, and in his place stood Goddess Uma, well
beyond. By 2000 bce the civilization had entered a period of decline. old display features of Then the other Gods said to the God of Þre, ÒFire, Þnd out won; achieved
sections presents our outline modern Hinduism reincarnation, p. 8 Sarasvati is the Goddess of adorned and of exceeding beauty. Beholding her, Indra asked:
eration from rebirth. God Realization means the direct and personal

and vrata. Of these, tapas is the emancipation of the body through phist. He collaborated in the work with Sundara Sastri.
for Hinduism in 6th grade learning and music. Below, for us who this mysterious nature spirit is.Ó
history books. It is intended to The Religion of the Indus-Sarasvati People experience of the Divine within oneself. The original Sanskrit name She sits on a lotus flower play- ÒWho was the spirit that appeared to us?Ó
Lord Siva in meditation is
1 This verse says that the Gods
ÒYes,Ó said the God of Þre, and approached the spirit. The
replace existing lists of required A great many artifacts have been discovered from the Indus-Saras- found on the Indus seals Hinduism today’s for Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma, meaning Òeternal religion.Ó ing the multi-stringed vina. ÒThat,Ó answered Uma, Òwas Brahman. Through Him it was,
were vain. spirit said to him: ÒWho are you?Ó 2 Indra took a different
topics, such as those found in
vati cities. These include pottery, seals, statues, beads, jewelry, tools, teacHing standards not of yourselves, that you attained your victory and your glory.Ó approach to finding out
the California Standards. Belief in God and the Gods and Goddesses What test did the Supreme God ÒI am the God of Þre. As a matter of fact, I am very widely
games, such as dice, and childrenÕs toys, such as miniature carts. 5. Explain the basic Hindu beliefs Thus did Indra, and the God of Þre, and the God of wind,
all art: indra sharma

put them through? who the spirit was.

observance of such penances as krichchhra, chandrayana (both are

1. Explain the similarities be- regarding God, the Gods and Hindus believe in and worship a one Supreme God. In the scrip- known.Ó
The ßat, stone seals have pictures and writing on them. Scholars come to recognize Brahman, the Supreme God. Why did he succeed when
tween Indus-Sarasvati civiliza- Goddesses, dharma, karma tures, the Supreme God is called Brahman or Bhagavan, worshiped ÒAnd what power do you wield?Ó the others failed?
have not yet agreed on what the mysterious script on the seals means.

tion and later Hindu culture. and reincarnation. Describe

as both male and female. Brahman is all-powerful, all-knowing, ÒI can burn anything on Earth.Ó
2. Discuss why the Aryan Inva- They show deities, ceremonies, symbols, people, plants and animals. basic Hindu practices.
all-loving and present in all things. God created everything in the ÒBurn this,Ó said the spirit, placing a straw before him. The Understanding Sacred Texts
We learn from them that people at that time followed practices iden-

sion theory has been disputed

The Vedas are the divinely revealed and most revered scriptures, shruti,
6. Discuss the Hindu principles
by many scholars. universe out of Himself. This creation is not separate from Him. God of Þre fell upon it with all his might, but could not con-

types of fasts), etc., according to rules. Santosha is being satisfied

tical to those followed by Hindus today. One seal shows a meditating of nonviolence and religious
3. Discuss the social and political He guides the evolution of everything over vast spans of time. Ul- sume it. So he ran back to the other Gods and said, ÒI cannot 1. Analyzing Hindus believe that the Supreme God is 2. Comparing What is the difference between Brahman,
Þgure that scholars link to Lord Siva, while others show the lotus tolerance. Ganesha is the God prayed to
At left is a clay figure showing the timately, He absorbs the universe back into Himself. This cycle of immanent. That means He exists everywhere in the the Supreme God, and the other Gods introduced
system and advancement of
posture used by todayÕs meditators. The swastika, a sacred symbol of This clay figure of a woman has red sindur 7. Describe the Vedas and before beginning any task or In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna shows
discover who this mysterious spirit is.Ó
science and culture. typical Hindu greeting of “namaste” in the hair part—a custom followed by universe, in everyone and everything. How does this here—Indra, the God of fire and the God of wind?
their Upanishads, Ramayana, creation, preservation and absorption repeats without end. worship. His elephant head Then said the other Gods to the God of wind: ÒWind, can

of hinduism, likened to the Torah (1,200 bce), Bible New Testament (100
good luck used throughout Hindu history, is common. married Hindu women to this day
Arjuna His universal form as the Supreme belief appear in the story?
4. Explain the development of Mahabharata (including the The Supreme God is both transcendent and immanent. These are makes Him easy to recognize. God encompassing all the other Gods
religion in India between 1000 There are statues, including a small clay Þgure with its hands Bhagavad Gita) and other
you Þnd out for us who he is?Ó

with whatever comes to us of its own accord. Astikya is the belief in

bce and 500 ce. pressed together in the traditional Hindu greeting of Ònamaste.Ó important Hindu scriptures.
two key philosophical concepts. As transcendent, God exists beyond ÒYes,Ó said the God of wind, and approached the spirit. The
a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay I-3 aapprriill//m
ay/ j u n e , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay I-7

ce), Koran (630 ce) or Zend Avesta (600 bce). four in number, Rig, Yajur,
I-2 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2007 I-6 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2007 I-10 h i n d u i s m t o d ay a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2007 a p r i l / m ay / j u n e , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay I-11

the merits or demerits of actions as stated in the Vedas. Dana is the Sama and Atharva, the Vedas include over 100,000 verses. Oldest portions
faithful giving to deserving persons of lawfully earned money, grains, may date back as far as 6,000 bce.
Available at
j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 17
$1.50 each, or $99 for a box of 300
Downtown K.L.: At
just past midnight on
February 1, the 21-foot
tall, 20-ton silver-clad
chariot began its 13

kilometer journey from
the Maha Mariamman
temple in downtown
Kuala Lumpur to Batu
Caves Murugan Temple


s p e c i a l f e at u r e

all photos: k.shanmugam

One million devotees celebrate Thai Pusam Murugan festival

ore than half the population of kuala reverence by tamil Hindus around the world, but in
lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, turn out to honor Malaysia, North indians, sikhs and chinese Buddhists
the day when lord Murugan received the holy join in. Our story covers the celebrations at Batu caves
vel, or spear of wisdom and power, from His Mother, Murugan temple outside Kuala lumpur which was
Goddess parvati. the festival is observed with deep attended this year by an estimated 1.3 million people.
18  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   19
Our correspondent, Rajiv Malik of Delhi, of all ages climb the 272 steps chanting “Vel, christians and sikhs, people of all communi- siderable. the structure is decorated with
arrived in Malaysia on January 26, a week Vel” and “Vetri Vel Murugan.” the Deity ties, participate. My whole family came last ribbons, flowers and peacock feathers. such
before the official beginning of Thai Pusam here is famous for granting devotees’ prayers year and offered milk to lord Murugan for kavadis tower above the crowds as carriers
on February 1 and stayed on for one week for success in exams and business, healing good academic results for my children. and make their way from the nearby riverbank
afterward. He attended the festival and and the conception of a long-desired baby. they fared well as a result. two years ago up the steps to the temple. Of this year’s 1.3
interviewed organizers, participants and i had a bad dengue fever attack. i feared i million worshipers, about 22,000 carried
prominent Hindus. An key resource for this The Festival and Its Devotees was on my deathbed. My wife and daughter kavadi and pal kudam.
story was the unpublished thesis on the fes- thai pusam falls on the full moon day in the came here at 3 am on thai pusam, walked as a North indian, i was not familiar with
tival by Dr. Carl Vadivel Belle of Australia, tamil month of thai (January/february) up the stairs and prayed for me. lying in kavadi or pal kudam. in North india, kava-
who participates each year by carrying a each year, when the moon moves through bed at the hospital, i also prayed to lord dis are taken for lord siva to Neel Kanth
large kavadi. See URL at end of story to ac- the zodiac period of capricorn in the in- Murugan for help. suddenly, i realized that temple in rishikesh, but those are simple
cess a short video documentary produced by dian calendar. it is on this day, according to God was there. i quickly improved and was compared to the works of art i saw here.
Hinduism Today to accompany this article. some Hindu scriptures, that Goddess par- moved out of the critical care ward.” stories according to carl Belle’s thesis, the
vati presented the holy vel, or spear, to Her such as his i would hear time and again. practice of kavadi is based on the story of
B y R ajiv M alik , N ew D elhi son, lord Murugan (in other scriptures, the idumban. in the story, lord siva gave sage
atu caves was already swarm- event took place at skanda shashti). also Kavadi Worship agasthya two Himalayan hills, sivagiri and
ing with devotees four days before known as Karttikeya and subramaniam, some devotees carry pal kudam or kavadi saktigiri, requesting him to take them to
thai pusam officially began. as we lord Murugan is greatly adored by tamil up to the temple and offer it to Murugan—as south india. agasthya enlisted the help of
approached the area, i was awe- Hindus around the world. in Malaysia, fiji, penance, in fulfillment of a particular vow idumban, a reformed asura (demon), for the
struck by the majestic 142-foot golden statue south africa and other countries with large they have taken, or in petition for something task. idumban made a shoulder sling from
of lord Murugan [see inside cover of this is- tamil communities, thai pusam is the fes- they want to happen. One devotee carries the staff of lord Brahma and tied each hill
sue]. Dedicated at last year’s thai pusam, it tival of choice and is celebrated on a larger kavadi to offset the bad things he has done to it with a divine serpent. this, Belle states,
has already gained international fame. the scale than in south india itself. Here in Ma- during the year; another for success in ex- was the prototypical kavadi.
intricately detailed concrete statue with a laysia, in addition to the million-plus who cel- ams; yet another for the trouble-free birth idumban carried the hills to south india.
40-foot deep foundation, stands dominantly ebrate the festival at Batu caves, hundreds of his sister’s baby. Most devotees, however, When he reached the area of palani Hills,
at the base of a limestone cliff. Behind it is of thousands more celebrate it across Malay- just come to Batu caves to worship and he set the hills down to rest; but when he at-
the long, wide and steep staircase leading sia, including crowds of 200,000 in penang. do not perform these special observances. tempted to resume his journey, he could not
to a huge natural cave that houses a small Pal kudam, more common than kavadi, is lift the hills. a youth clad only in a loincloth,
temple to this beloved God. at the base are Prayers Answered a pot of milk carried on the head. Kavadis holding a staff and “shining like a thousand
additional temples, permanent exhibit halls as i was taking in the sights and sounds, a range from the simple pal kavadi—two pots suns”—lord Murugan, had claimed the
and—during the festival—a mini-city of re- man named Balbir singh, recognizing my of milk on a wooden pole surmounted by hills for His own. attempting to fight the
ligious shops, stalls for various organizations, punjabi dialect, greeted me as a brother. an arch—to extremely big, alagu (beautiful; youth, idumban was killed, but was restored
music stores, free feeding venues and even Our ancestors had came from the same area, ornate) kavadis. the latter is a sort of por- to life to serve as a guardian of Murugan’s
all photos: k.shanmugam

an amusement fair, complete with ferris which is now part of pakistan. His grand- table temple in which the Deity is support- palani Hills shrine. today’s devotees carry
wheels and other entertainment. Many dev- father had immigrated here from punjab as ed over the devotee’s head by an aluminum kavadi to place their psychic burdens at
otees have come early to avoid the crush on part of the British army. He said there are framework secured to a metal belt around the feet of Murugan and obtain the kind of
thai pusam day, when over a million people 100,000 punjabis in Malaysia. “thai pusam his waist. shoulder pads help ease the bur- spiritual transformation that was bestowed
will assemble in this compound. Devotees is a great festival,” he exclaimed. “Hindus, den of the weight, which is sometimes con- upon idumban.

The Chariot of Lord Murugan

(from upper left) The chariot with Murugan
mounted inside passing through Kuala Lum-
pur at dawn, February 1; Chinese Buddhists
and Hindus await the chariot with their of-
ferings; the silver chariot is polished in the
days before the festival; at every stop, babies
are handed up for blessing before Murugan;
despite the fact it is moving from midnight
through the early morning hours, the streets
are packed all along the way with people of all
faiths waiting to greet the Deity

r o h i n i k u m a r na i r

20  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   21 
Penance and Austerity Nataraja gave a brief summary of the ing them up to Batu Caves,” he related. “I
Those carrying the big kavadi prepare for festival’s financial situation: “Out of the 1.3 like to show mine to Murugan. Through this,
a full month, observing purification dis- million people who participated in Thai I release whatever my tension, sadness or
ciplines including eating only one meal a Pusam this year, 22,000 carried kavadi or happiness is at His feet. My guru says that
day. Those taking pal kavadi or pal kudam pal kudam and 50,000 people had archana we should carry kavadi, because we make
fast for a few days prior to the festival, as done in the main shrine. Only these 72,000 many mistakes in our daily lives, such as be-
do many other worshipers. As added pen- people paid money directly to the temple, ing insulting toward others. We feel these
ance, carriers of pal kudam, pal kavadi or for a total of about us$235,000. The reve- mistakes can be rectified by piercing and
big kavadi may have a priest pierce their nue from the temporary marketplace is far suffering pain. Three years ago, when I was


g e r au lt g r e g o r y / g a m m a
bodies with small spears, replicas of Lord greater than that. The festival largely funds 25, I was in a car accident that destroyed my
Murugan’s vel, for their climb from the river all our activities for the rest of the year.” car, but I was unharmed. I believe that Lord
to the cave. Murugan saved me. I saw Him in a vision
Body piercing—a distinctive feature of Sri R. Nataraja Preparing for Kavadi just before the crash.”
this festival—naturally attracts a lot of at- In Kuala Lumpur, we visited the Shri We visited a home where devotees were
tention from the foreign press. Of the Thai 60, he has been associated with the temple— Krishna Temple in Brickfields, where a working on 25 big kavadis. Dashman, 19,
Pusam photos taken by big news agencies, the largest in the country—since becoming group of youth attached to the temple were the youngest of the group, was preparing a
three-quarters are generally of devotees secretary at age 22 and has served as presi- putting the final touches on their big kava- kavadi that he would carry weighing 60 ki-
pierced with vels or hooks, and accounts dent for 17 years. It was his idea to build dis. They belong to a kavadi-carrying group los, slightly more than his own weight of 55
rarely include any knowledgeable explana- the colossal Murugan statue, and he was formed some 25 years ago. We spoke with kilos. His prayer this year was for the safe
tion of the practice. The rigorous prepara- instrumental in getting it funded. “Manag- Sri Guna Selan, 28, a marketing executive in delivery of his sister’s baby. “The prepara-
tion, devotion and serious intent of these ing this festival is quite a challenge,” he ob- tion is the tough part,” he confided. “I re-
kavadi carriers is all ignored, as is sincerity served. “We are trying to improve the crowd main vegetarian for 48 days, sleep on the
of the conclave of one million worshipers. control, but every year there are more and floor and go to the temple as often as possible.
I am reminded of the Kumbha Mela, more people. We have had to expedite the Three years of carrying kavadi have made
where foreign journalists obsess over the worship at the Cave Temple. You have seen me realize that God is certainly there. It has
naga babas, naked sadhus—as if they were at Tirupati, because of the huge number of made me go deep into Hinduism. To get the
a carnival sideshow, oblivious to the disci- devotees, they allow you to have darshan of best from kavadis, one has to fast and keep
pline and asceticism they follow, enduring the main Deity only while you are on the a very clean heart. And we have to see that
even the coldest season of North India un- move. In past years we had trouble control- we do not make a show or a mockery out
clad. And, like here, the press at the Mela ling those who wanted to bring big kavadis of carrying kavadis. Some people do kavadi

is equally oblivious to the tens of millions and pierce themselves with long vels. Once to show off and don’t undertake the fasting
of fully clad devotees who travel long dis- we became strict in enforcement, the devo- properly. It has to be just between you and
tances to attend and worship with intense tees adjusted.” the Lord Murugan to be effective. We are
devotion. “This is basically a religious festival,” he Dashman very gifted that we have such a unique kind
explained, “but we have to see that it has of festival. You cannot find something like
Meeting the Temple President a commercial angle as well. All who attend a private firm who has been carrying a big this anywhere else in the world. We must
I was able to interview Sri R. Nataraja, also love to go to the marketplace to shop kavadi for eight years. “I find this group to ensure that it is kept on the right track and
president of the Maha Mariamman Temple, and to avail themselves of the free food dis- be very loving, a brotherly kind of relation. does not get lost in trivialities.”
which manages Batu Caves Temple. Now tribution.” We enjoy decorating the kavadis and bring-

Processions, Penance & Prayer

(counter-clockwise from left) Kavadi and pal

kudam carriers get started at the riverside; the
traditional and very loud tavil drum is heard
throughout the festival; a child with shaven
head is carried by his father to the Cave Tem-
ple; a young woman carries pal kudam for her
worship—the silver spear through her tongue
is part of her penance and vow of silence; a
priest at the Murugan Cave temple passes the
camphor flame amongst the devotees after it
has been offered to Murugan’s vel.
reuters/bazuki muhammad

g e r au lt g r e g o r y / g a m m a

afp/tengku bahar

23 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 24
The Temple Priests riers must be processed. Originally they
shri shakti Vel, just 27 years old, is one of 20 Sri Shakti Vel took their preparatory bath in the river; but
full-time priests attached to Batu caves. for uncontrolled development has left it pol-
thai pusam the temple management brings luted, so open banks of showers have been
in an additional 50 priests from india and set up for bathing. a dozen priests are busy
130 from elsewhere in Malaysia, for a total of performing pujas for the penitents, and—for
200. five of the Malaysian priests, and all of those who request it—piercing vels through
the indian priests, are brahmins; the others, the tongue and cheeks, and placing hooks
including shakti Vel, are pandarams, an an- in the body. it is controlled chaos as devo-

cient non-brahmin priesthood who do not tees shower and are rushed through the
wear the sacred thread. Pandaram priests pujas and hurried out. Many kavadi carri-
are often involved in the worship of lord ers complete their riverside blessing a day
Murugan, such as at the palani Hills tem- Sri Jayagobi in advance so they can proceed straight to

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ple in india. Pandarams range from simple the cave temple and avoid the crush. But
village priests who know a few mantras to personal offerings which Dr. K. Pichai Sivachariyar no amount of crowding and commotion can
highly trained professionals, like shakti Vel, are theirs to keep, and they dampen the vibrant spiritual atmosphere
whose father and grandfather were panda- also do pujas outside of the here, which rivals the fervor along the huge
rams. at Batu caves, the pandarams are re- temple. i am very happy with the privilege proprietors, pari Devar, employs 30 experi- riverside bathing ghats of the Ganga during
sponsible for the pujas at the cave temple, of being close to lord Murugan and serv- enced barbers who shave 2,000 heads in the Kumbha Mela.
though some of the brahmin priests help ing Him. Multimillionaires come and go but course of the festival, charging $4.41 for an (above) Kolattam dancers perform with sticks
also, out of devotion to lord Murugan. do not get the chance to serve the lord the adult and $2.94 for a child. Many parents Riverside Priests in the chariot procession; (below) a woman
shakti Vel said that the puja pace dur- way i do. i am grateful to the lord because choose thai pusam as an auspicious day to Jayagobi, age 37, is one of the pandarams offers camphor to a sacred fire
ing festival days is intensely hectic. “With He is giving me this opportunity to serve shave the hair of young children, an essen- who prepare the kavadi and pal kudam
the installation of the huge statue of lord Him due to the punya, good karma, i have tial rite of infancy performed to purify the carriers at the river’s edge. He serves here
Murugan at Batu caves the attendance at accumulated from many past lives.” child. Devar’s father started the business with four helpers twelve hours a day. By the
thai pusam has gone up tremendously.” years ago, when they charged just 30 cents time it is over, he will have performed puja
each puja takes 30 minutes, with at least a Sungai Batu for an adult and 15 cents for a child. Nearby, for 7,000 people. His is one of 18 groups
hundred devotees attending. One hundred On sunday the Batu caves area was again dozens of shops sell puja provisions—fresh of priests working at the river’s edge, ten
priests at a time manage the pujas in two swarming with devotees. We walked to the milk, sweet-smelling flowers and multicol- from Malaysia and eight from india. He ex-
twelve-hour shifts each day. each priest is sungai Batu, or Batu river, where kavadi ored garlands—which devotees purchase on plained that devotees come to him to have
paid about us$147 for the ten days of wor- and pal kudam carriers were beginning their way to the river. their kavadi or pal kudam blessed in puja
ship surrounding thai pusam. “We are hap- their journey. along the way, we encoun- the riverside is crowed, bustling place invoking Ganesha and Murugan—and Mu-
py with it;” he said, “there are no complaints. tered a large number of temporary barber- just 100 feet long and 80 feet wide, through niswaram, who is a protector. “We pray to
Besides, the priests also receive dakshina, shops on both sides of the road. One of the which all 22,000 kavadi and pal kudam car- these Gods so that the person taking the ka-

afp/tengku bahar
Deep Impressions

Sri A.P. Muthuku- babies hung on sugarcanes. they are going thai pusam by the devotee of lord Murugan, and thai pusam “there are perhaps 50
maara Sivachariyar, up with milk pots. We have seen other reli- media is not fair. a very special religious festival. after this, groups like ours in Kuala
59, a priest: “i think gious events, but nothing like this. My wife sensational things my three sisters were born.” lumpur, which play not only
the youth are car- is completely obsessed with the festival. in are highlighted at thai pusam, but also at
rying forward the the past fifty years, i have been to penang and the real mean- Ramdas, leader of the musical group port cultural events and festivals.
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tradition very well. six times, but had never seen the festivi- ing is lost. i feel Klang urumee Melam Khandan, which ac- We have learned everything
sixty percent of ties here at Batu caves. it is the first time the media should companies the big kavadis: “i started this ourselves, as there are no
those who carry ka- i have seen this and so find it very special. explain what the group two years ago. there are ten players. gurus here to teach us music.
vadi are youth. the We have been here for the past four hours devotees are doing three of us are students, and the rest work We have created our own
people who walk after having been in flight all night, but still and how it is all at regular jobs. We perform for nine ka- songs and lyrics, and also
with the chariot and who carry pal kudam we are thoroughly enjoying it.” linked to Hinduism.” vadis during the festival, and charge $162 modified and modernized
are mainly young people. Ours is a living each. More would like us to accompany some traditional songs with
heritage. swami Vivekananda rightly said Esther Tina and Kystle Linda, born chris- Shri Rajendran, 49, university professor them, but this is as many as we can man- rhythmic additions. Our
that if our youth get spiritual guidance and tians who converted back to Hinduism who teaches education and psychology: age in the time available. We have a large three singers have all learned
attain spiritual power, Hinduism will al- under the influence of their Hindu father. “My own connection to thai pusam is very number of instruments and four different on their own. We do these
ways be a winner.” esther, 28, said, “i have carried pal kudam special. i was the third child in my family, types of dresses which are changed for performances for the sake of

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for the past six years, and attribute my and both my siblings elder to me had died. each kavadi in sequence. in preparation for the preservation of culture
Simon Kooman, a success in education and business to lord in the 1950s when my mother underwent thai pusam, our team fasts for three days. and art, not for money. Our
restaurant owner Murugan’s blessings. Now, i am praying for a womb operation, the doctors said she Most of us carry pal kudam, also. During future plans include perform-
from Netherlands: a suitable husband.” would not be able to conceive. But after the last three days of the festival, we get ing outside Malaysia. We
“i find thai pusam five years of my parents praying every year only two hours sleep a night. Here at Batu have an offer from someone songs to Murugan, Ganesha and amman
something very spe- Hema Lata, journalist: “i have carried pal to lord Murugan, i was born. they carried caves there is a continuous flow of energy in iceland who heard of us. the money we which has sold a thousand copies and is
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cial. the whole scene kundam every year for the past many me to lord Murugan in a sugarcane kavadi, through us. even after performing many make goes into the bank and is used for turning a profit. this income will be used
is amazing. people years, but not this year as i am reporting just as you see parents doing today. i am times each day and walking up the stairs buying instruments and other expenses, to promote character building among the
are going up with on the event. i feel the coverage given to sure, because of this, i became a staunch repeatedly, we do not feel tired. such as travel. We’ve produced a cD with youth.”

24  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   25 
vadi is able to fulfill his or her vow,” he said. rest to the temple. Donations range, he said, pusam is very important. it is a very strong percent, about 1.5 million, are saivites. for
as i watched, he deftly pierced the tongues from a few cents to $30. Jayagobi is himself Hindu festival that is respected and well these saivites, Murugan is an important De-
of three sisters with six-inch silver vels. it a veteran kavadi carrier: “i started taking received by the people of other religions. ity. at Batu caves thai pusam this year, he
dawned on me that this form of penance pal kudam to lord Murugan when i was although they do not pray, they come and estimates, one million saivites and 500,000
naturally prevents talking on the way up to just nine years old. for seven years, i had see our worship. in my over forty years in non-Hindus participated. “some are chi-
the cave. my head shaved as my offering to the lord. nese. they buy a joss stick incense, kneel
“i learned the art of piercing when i was When i was ten years old, i had a dream and pray silently. You see many worshiping
just nine years old,” Jayagobi recalled. “i have in which i was worshiping a Deity in puja. at the festival in penang, also.”
been doing it for the past ten years here at When i poured the milk over the Deity, i “the youth participate in a big way,” he
thai pusam, independently and with a lot could see lord Murugan, and in His chest said proudly. “they are, in fact, necessary
of confidence. all this comes from the heart. was a siva lingam. even today, when i re- for its success, as a lot of physical work goes
if you do not put your heart and soul in this member this dream and talk about it, my into the festival. the youth today understand
job, you will not succeed. people come to hair stands on end.” thai pusam better than the youth of twenty
me for advice on how to carry kavadi and years ago, but there definitely remains a
do their prayers.” Minister Dato Sri Samy Velu need for improving their understanding.”
“the state of trance is attained through the festival serves as a political platform another group now coming to the festival
very deep devotion,” he went on, “though it for the Malaysian indian congress party, are indians from india, Dato said. “they
is not essential that a person be in trance for whose members give speeches during the have the six big lord Murugan temples
the piercing. sometimes the demigods come opening ceremonies. Dato sri samy Velu, in south india, and now they regard Batu
into the body of the person. they are posi- 70, the leading indian political figure in caves, with the tallest Murugan statue in
tive spirits, such as Muniandi, Munisveeran Malaysia, is the chief speaker at the festi- the world, as the seventh.”
or Maduraveeran. they are like servants val. His insights: “lord Murugan’s message On the issue of big kavadis, he comment-
of the God. if the puja is performed in the is the message of strength. He offers the ed, “there got to be this internal competi-

correct manner and the devotee has done power of His vel. strength provides the will tion as to who could carry the largest, so the
his fasting and prayers well, the good spirits and ability for us to be truthful and honest temples instituted rules that none should
usually come and help the person. ” and to coexist harmoniously with others in Dato Sri Vaithilingam be larger than six feet wide. But i saw re-
“You just observed the puja i did for the this multicultural society and country. i feel cently at Batu caves 500 people arrive from
three sisters. the bhakti, or devotion, of the that wherever i am in this life is due to the a single village with a ten-foot-wide, highly
first two was one hundred percent. in case blessings of lord Murugan and the support politics i have seen that the love for religion decorated kavadi to be carried by one of
of the third girl, the bhakti was fifty percent. of the people.” is something that keeps on growing. there them. they just pushed their way passed
i can discern this, but it is not something i i asked him about the criticism of the is nothing that can stop this growth.” the guards. the guards are volunteers,
tell the person.” piercing of many spears by kavadi carriers trained only to reason with people and not
Once a factory worker, Jayagobi lost his and the breaking of hundreds of coconuts. Dato Sri Vaithilingam use force.”
job and began working during the day as He answered, “some people say, ‘You’ve got Dato sri Vaithilingam, age 72, a highly re- “ten years ago,” he said, “there were a lot
a priest at a Madhuraveeran temple and to ban this and stop that.’ But if you ask me, spected and influential community leader of discipline problems. Youngsters would
driving a taxi in the evening. He is the only i would say that there are different ways and president of the Malaysia Hindu san- come and create problems, but now things
priest in his family. During this thai pusam in which people want to fulfill their vows. gam, explained that there are over two mil- have improved. the discipline is much bet-
his group were paid $1,470 in donations, of We cannot deny an individual his right of lion Malaysians of indian origin, of whom ter. the youth today go singing hymns of
which they took $588 as salary and gave the praying in the manner he would like. thai 85 percent are Hindus and of those, 85 lord Murugan and carry kavadi.”

Processions Serving the Devotees


Swami Guhabhaktananda and rebirth.

president, Divine life society “people are breaking the coconuts without
Malaysia Main Branch understanding the meaning behind it. the
coconut represents the head. When the husk
“the main role of the Divine life society is removed, it is like removing the impurities
during thai pusam is feeding the thousands of the mind. the shell represents the ego. it
of devotees, which we do free of charge. We is said that this shell should be crushed at
also help devotees who want to take kavadi, the feet of the lord, so that the ego goes
and teach them to do so in a very orderly away and only the purity of the soul is left.
way, without inflicting any pain to the body so if a man breaks a thousand coconuts, is he
through piercing. We tell them that the aim breaking a thousand egos in him? if he really
of taking a kavadi is to carry the items which understood the significance of breaking the
are to be used for abhishekam, that is poured coconut, then he would break only one. But
over the Deity. We do a preliminary puja he does not know this.”
g e r au lt g r e g o r y / g a m m a

blessing for 150 devotees carrying kavadi,

and all move out together at 6 am on thai (photos, left to right, top to bottom) A kavadi
pusam day. carrier climbs the stairs to the cave temple;
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“the vel represents jnana, knowledge or a devotee with the alagu or large kavadi and
wisdom. When parvati Herself gave Muru-

his accompanying friends and family a girl

gan the vel, she gave him the wisdom to with pal kudan offering of milk; Swami Gu-
cross the ocean of samsara, the cycle of birth habhatananda, Divine Life Society

j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   27 
touching on another sensitive area, he kavadi until my knees can no longer walk.” Preparing the Chariot teers at the top walkie-talkie their comrades
explained that there are big businessmen i asked how a sikh came to be worshiping at the Maha Mariamman i found a team of on the steps to reverse the flow on one side
who vow to break ten thousand coconuts if Murugan, and he replied, “We believe that six men swarming over the large ornate sil- until the caves clear, which usually takes
they get a certain contract. then, to fulfill God is one. therefore we come here and ver chariot, polishing, cleaning and check- about 30 minutes.
the vow, they employ immigrant laborers, the gurudwara also. My brother-in-law, shri ing the electrical system of the famous ve- shri ravichandran perumal, 41, chief
who are not even Hindu, to do the break- Balakrishnan Nayar, whose family is from hicle that carries the Deity and His vel to electrician and part of the crowd control
ing, without any prayer or sense of the sig- Kerala, carries kavadi. Our whole families Batu caves. shri Kalaiarasu, age 42, a safety team, shared, “On a normal day when i walk

g e r au lt g r e g o r y / g a m m a
nificance. “Our stand on the matter is that join us in this as well. i have the dream one officer at a construction company in amer- up the stairs of Batu caves, i feel pain in
if you have taken a vow, then you yourself day to carry kavadi in india.” ica, had come back to Malaysia just for the my knees and legs. But during thai pusam
should be the person who makes a prayer Balakrishnanan told me, “i have been tak- festival. two dozen in all work for a month i run up and down the stairs hundreds of
and breaks the coconuts, and one coconut ing kavadi since i was 15 years old. Origi- preparing the chariot. they are part of the times with absolutely no fatigue and no pain.
is enough.” nally i carried pal kavadi, but for the last ten temple’s 1008 Volunteers Youth Organisa- Definitely lord Murugan gives us very high
years i have carried the big kavadis. thai tion. arasu observed, “i used to see almost levels of energy. We are almost without
Meeting a Family Group pusam is an opportunity to do penance and all old people in the temple. But today there sleep for three days, yet still feel fresh. i
from the riverside we made our way to the fulfill vows. i fast for one month, taking just are more and more youngsters coming. the think all this is quite a miracle.”
area near the Murugan statue, which was one meal a day, and my wife joins me. thus, new generation is definitely getting associ- ravi said the chariot weighs 20,000 kilos
packed with devotees and onlookers gazing out of each year’s twelve months, we sacri- ated with the festival.” and is illumined by 500 bulbs drawing 30,000
at the beautifully made kavadis carried by fice one for God. i think it is quite fair. You During the festival, the VYO assists with watts of power. the accompanying vehicles
men dancing with divine intoxication. an enjoy eleven months and then dedicate one crowd control, monitoring the flow of peo- have a sound system for bhajans that can be
unending row of devotees carrying big and month to God. i feel very, good, clean and ple up and down the steps so that the caves heard a kilometer away. His job during the
small kavadis and pal kudams marched to- nice.” asked how it feels to carry the kavadi never become overcrowded. a volunteer is long procession to the caves is to instantly
wards the cliff face. i encountered Gurucha- and be pierced, he replied, “i get into trance posted at every other step to assist people replace any burnt-out lights. He says: “the
ran singh, age 56, and his extended family and feel no pain when my tongue is pierced. who are having difficulty with the climb. most beautiful scene during the procession
and friends [see photo p. 31] who had just Only at the cave temple, when the vel is Normally people go up the left side and is of the chariot at sunrise. With the char-
returned from carrying kavadi to the cave removed, do i feel some pain; but the piec- down the right, and kavadi carriers go up iot decked with yellow colored flowers, the
temple. singh is a retired engineer and, like ing leave no mark.” the middle. But if the caves are full, volun- whole thing turns golden when the rays of
Balbir singh, a Malaysian-born sikh. He
told me proudly that this was his 30th year

Babies in Sugar Cane Cradles

of carrying kavadi. “i started taking kavadi
due to the 1981 economic setback, during
which i lost my job. i came here for thai
pusam and prayed to Murugan for help. the
economy rebounded, i was given my job
back and i was able to meet all my financial Correspondent Rajiv Malik
obligations. i told Murugan that i will carry interviewed Kamala, a teacher,
and Ravindran, an insurance

Golden Moments
agent, as they carried their new-
born to the cave shrine (pictures
above and right). Hundreds of
grateful parents likewise carry
their sought-for children to the
shrine each year.

amala: “after many years,
in 2006 i came here for
thai pusam. i went to
lord Murugan and cried be-

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fore Him and prayed for Him
to bless me with a child. i was
longing to have the darshan, the
divine sight, of lord Murugan
for a long time. i repeatedly
told Him to bestow and shower pain. We were standing for such also vowed to go to tirupati
g e r au lt g r e g o r y / g a m m a

His grace on me so that i could a long time, but i did not feel and palani in india. in fact, she
have a baby i longed for. When tired at all. i believe this is due vowed that in 1995. We will i would also like to state here
i prayed to Him, i said that if i to some kind of vibration which be going soon to tirupati and that the iVf treatment given
am blessed with a baby i will makes you feel that the divine palani, and i will have my head to Kamala was sponsored by
have the baby’s head shaved is there.” shaved there. the royal family of Malaysia
and carry the baby in the sugar- Ravindran: “We have wanted “Before we came to Batu through the tunku aziza fertil-
cane kavadi. this year, lord a child for 18 years. My wife caves in 2006, we had done ity foundation. We were one of
blessed me with a baby. it has Kamala took this vow that if invitro fertilization (iVf) twice the fifty couples they sponsor
come with His grace. You ask we have a child we will carry for conceiving the child, but it every year. they had sponsored

(left) Looking back from the top of the stairs past the huge Murugan statue and over me whether carrying the kavadi a sugar-cane kavadi. i am also did not work. the third time we us all the three times for this
the festival grounds; (above top) view from the top-most level of the cave—the Muru- was painful or not. My reply is very happy. though it is she got it done in february, shortly treatment. so it was divine
gan Cave Temple is at the lower right, the cave entrance is the dim light just to right that when God’s grace is there, who took the vow, i am sup- after worshiping lord Murugan grace and the foundation’s sup-
of center; a couple prays inside the Batu Cave; then you do not experience any porting her fulfilling it. she has at thai pusam, and it worked. port that brought this miracle.

28  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   29 
the morning sun fall on it. it is breathtaking.” my back, since just a year ago i was hospital- Festival Officially Begins gin its journey. i could not even budge from with sticks in a circle. Groups of musicians to unobtrusively leave the procession to seek
ized for ten days with back pain. Definitely Nothing i had seen or heard could have where i was standing. But when the clock summon devotees to the street and intensify a few hours’ rest, knowing i would be spend-
Puja at the Cave Temple my prayer was answered, as i twice climbed prepared me for the actual beginning of the struck 12:20 am, the pilot car started up, the sense of anticipation by conducting bha- ing the afternoon and evening at Batu caves.
in the cool of the evening, i joined the up to the cave temple, plus spent a hectic festival. By midnight on January 31st, the the chariot began to move and the crowed jans several blocks ahead of the chariot, then However, thousands of devotees followed
throngs climbing the 272 steps to offer wor- ten days running about the city reporting on street outside the Maha Mariamman tem- swiftly parted and the bhajanas abruptly move further ahead when the chariot comes the chariot all the way to its destination.
ship at the cave temple. it was an experi- the festival—all with no back pain. ple was packed with a crowd of 150,000 stopped. strategically-placed volunteers po- into view. i am reminded of joyous scenes
ence i will never forget, climbing along with devotees. the silver-clad chariot, brightly litely directed people to make way. trailing on the streets of Delhi when thousands of Arriving at Batu Caves 
hundreds of others chanting, “Vel, Vel.” A Kavadi Maker lit and covered with yellow flowers, was behind was a large generator that powered marriages take place on certain nights due Moving at a snail’s pace, the chariot arrived at
Briefly distracted from my destination by Back on the ground, at the Batu caves shop- ready for its divine passenger. With a shrill the multitude of lights. Next came the po- to the auspicious configuration of planets. Batu caves at 11:30 am, covering the seven
an urge to take in the spectacular view from ping complex, we visit amba store and meet blast from the south indian nadaswaram lice and ambulance service. security was Devotees line the entire route, holding miles from the temple in twelve hours. With
the top of the stairs, i turned around to see the proprietor, shrimati saroja Maniam. sa- horn—the loudest non-brass instrument strong, i was told, to avoid any interference trays of bananas, coconuts, camphor, joss horns and conches blaring, bells ringing,
the entire festival compound below packed roja has been making kavadis for 25 years. in the world—and the staccato beat of the by trouble-makers. a dozen or more police stick incense and clothing they will offer to chants resounding and arati lamps raised in
with devotees and the marketplace doing a she attributes the birth of her daughter to tavil drum, the priests emerged from the walked directly behind the chariot to keep lord Murugan. Many break a coconut, then fervent puja, the Murugan Deity was cere-
brisk business. thousands of families are the blessings of lord Murugan. in 1982, a temple carrying lord Murugan. the Deity, devotees back a few feet. until a few years put camphor on one half and hand it up to moniously installed in the New swami Man-
camped out on the lawns of the large com- week after going to Batu caves, she recalls, opulently dressed in gold and jewels, was ago, the chariot was pulled by the devotees the priests to wave as light before the De- dapam at the foot of the hill. His golden vel
pound, having arrived from outlying areas “i had a magnificent dream in which i saw ceremoniously lifted up into the chariot. for with the help of oxen; but this practice was ity. parents hand up babies to be blessed—at was carried to the cave temple by the head
by chartered buses and special trains. lord Murugan coming down the stairs from the thai pusam festival, He and His vel are discontinued in favor of a vehicle. some stops, by the dozen. those manag- priest. the festival officially began with the
the temperature drops noticeable as i en- the caves. i was holding a small Ganesha brought to Batu caves, seven miles away, for ing the chariot allow time for everyone to flag raising, which was scheduled for 4 pm,
ter the cave, a spacious awe-inspiring natu- in my hand. the following month i was ex- three days. On the Chariot’s Route worship at each stop. at several locations, but actually occurred at 5:30. at this auspi-
ral limestone chamber at least a hundred pecting and ultimately blessed with a baby the moment the vast sea of people—wait- preceding the pilot car a large crane truck groups of people break hundreds of coco- cious even, i had the honor of briefly meet-
feet in height. there were a large number daughter.” ing quietly until now—heard the nadas- operated by the electrical supply company nuts on the street—something i have never ing Dr. K. pichai sivachariyar, Hinduism
of youth present. Off to one side, a priest she sells kavadis for as little as $1, or as waram and saw the Deity, they loudly lifts overhead wires out of the way of the 21- seen in india. With devotees in a long queue today’s Hindu of the Year for 2004 (www.
is removing the piercing vels of a devotee much as $60 for an ornate one with pea- chanted “Vel, Vel Murugan,” “Murugan Ke foot-tall chariot; others are cut outright and for archana and holding their babies to be
and bringing him out of trance by applying cock feathers. Most are $10. people come Haro Hara,” and “Vetri Vel Murugan,” the reconnected after the chariot has passed— blessed, suddenly a resounding “crack!” is 40_honor.shtml) and one of the foremost
vibhuti, sacred ash, to his forehead. Devo- here from india and australia just to buy roar reached a crescendo when the Deity leaving the surrounding area in temporary heard as a dozen people threw coconuts priests of south india. He was there with a
tees who have made their offerings to lord from her shop. “i don’t just design and sell was placed in the chariot. Devotees choked darkness. Overpasses (“flyovers,” as they down on the concrete road simultaneously. contingent of indian brahmins brought in to
Murugan are concluding their worship with kavadis; i also teach people the art of carry- with emotion and divine love. tears rolled are called here) enroute have been built piles of broken coconuts come up in a mat- help with the festival.
a prayer to idumban as they prepared to ing kavadis a chinese lady who was always down the cheeks of many; others fell into high. One flyover is engineered to be raised ter of minutes. this is a controversial prac- During thai pusam, the wide concrete
leave the cave. fighting with her husband came to me learn trance. Most stood in blissful revery, hands when the chariot comes through. tice, i learned, that some devotees are quite path to the cave is divided into two sections,
for our puja, we purchase milk at the stall to carry kavadi. Her prayers completely folded and eyes closed. i was amazed that as the chariot presses forward, the crowd taken aback by. i was told that at least the one for those entering and one for those
right there in the cave and offer it to lord transformed her husband. Now he under- this was taking place not in india, but in a swells with people coming in from all direc- coconuts do not go to waste, but are used in leaving. the flag-hoisting ceremony takes
Murugan at the small shrine against the wall stands her better and even comes with her country where Hindus are just eight percent tions. in the procession behind, a powerful oil production. place on the exit side, next to the holy spear
on the main floor, along with hundreds of to worship.” of the population. rhythm is kept by bhajan groups, musicians i took it as a blessing from lord Muru- of lord Murugan—which nearly matches
other devotees. My fervent prayer is simply the crowd was packed so tightly that i and kolattam dancers. Kolattam, akin to the gan Himself that the chariot passed right in the height of the His golden statue.
that climbing the 272 stairs will not strain wondered how the chariot could possibly be- North indian garba dance, is performed front of my hotel at about 3 am, allowing me every inch of the compound was packed

Music, Fellowship & Free Food

(left to right) one of the music groups accom-

panying the chariot on the back of a flat-bed
truck; devotees worshipping at the Cave
Temple; passing out banana leaves in a free-
feeding hall; the group of family and friends
led by Gurucharan Singh after having offered
kavadi and pal kudam at the Cave Temple pose
in front of the Murugan statue.


rajiv malik
rajiv malik

30  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   31
with worshipers. Musicians, drummers and Tourism of devotees were there to have puja done In Conclusion
dancing groups accompanied many of the this year the first day, thursday, february for themselves and their families. to as- i have covered all four Maha Kumbha Me-
big kavadi carriers, who were blissfully 1, was a holiday in Kuala lumpur, creating a sist them a man was effortlessly breaking las as a journalist for Hinduism Today,
dancing to the beat of the music, as were four-day weekend that brought a much big- the coconuts in half with a big knife. the but this thai pusam assignment has been
their accompanying friends and relatives. ger turnout than usual, all the way through passing up of the babies for lord Murugan’s very special. the Kumbha Melas are at-
the noise level in the whole area was quite sunday. increasing the attendance still fur- blessings resumed outside the main gates. tended by tens of millions of Hindus of all
high. chanting of “Vel, Vel” was nearly con- ther was a big promotional program by the the chariot’s departure did not diminish classes, castes, regions and communities;
stant. the music seemed to help people enter government tourism department. Despite the stream of kavadi and pal kudam carri- the allahabad Mela is the largest religious
into trance. i saw some suddenly shrieking the government’s laudable efforts to discour- ers flowing towards the main shrine. gathering in the world. thai pusam is
and then going into a blissful state, all sur- age tourism companies from promoting the more specific, revolving around the saivite
rounded by a sea of humanity flowing har- festival as a “gape and wonder” spectacle, i tamils’ most beloved Deity, lord Murugan
all photos: k.shanmugam

moniously toward lord Murugan’s cave home. certainly saw tourists there for that purpose. and His vel. they look to Him not just for
uK’s channel four tV network, noted for spiritual upliftment, peace and blissfulness,
Unending Procession sensationalist reporting, was there to record but also for worldly things like success in
thousands of devotees—men, women and the experience of two brothers from eng- exams, material prosperity and the blessing
children in their best traditional Hindu cloth- land who were doing an “experiment” with of much-wanted sons and daughters. the
ing, as well as foreign tourists—were lined up kavadi, in which one had fasted for a month fact that thousands and thousands of people

reuters/tim chong
on both sides of the road along which the beforehand and the other had not. Dato continue to carry kavadis and pal kudams
unending procession of kavadi and pal ku- Vaithilingam and others were aware of the every year is proof that whatever boons are
dam carriers. Other devotees were perform- project and refused to cooperate with the sought are being granted.
ing different forms of penance, some rolling journalists. Back in Delhi, the golden statue of Muru-
to the cave steps and others prostrating by gan at Batu caves appears in my dreams.
“measuring their length.” the latter would lay The Chariot’s Return My wife and children have heard me mur-
flat face down, rise, walk two steps, prostrate On the third and final day of the festival, be- A unique penance: walking on “nailed shoes” muring “Vel, Vel” to myself many times
again, and thus reverently make their way tween 8 and 9 am, the golden vel was removed while working on this article, and even
toward the shrine. Many parents carry their from the hill shrine, carried down the stairs On the way to Kuala lumpur, the chariot asleep. as i mentioned earlier, on my ar-
newborn babies in cradles strapped to sugar and returned to the Murugan Deity, which halts for several hours in the sentul area— rival at Batu caves, i prayed to Murugan to
cane stalks—another form of kavadi [see was then placed back in the chariot for the partly from tradition, as there was once a take care of my back injury, which had left
sidebar, page 28]. return trip to Maha Mariamman temple. large indian population here, and partly for me laid up for a month earlier in the year.
On the morning of february 1, lord Muru- Before the procession started, an elabo- traffic considerations. Big crowds turn out Despite a hectic schedule and two trips up
gan was taken to the nearby river for ritual rate puja was performed by the priests at to greet the chariot as it leaves again in late 272 steps to the main shrine, i remained
bathing, but most of the focus was on the the flag pole. the flag was solemnly brought afternoon. the workday is over, and stu- quite fit. this experience has made me a
worship by devotees. everyone is drawn to down to mark the end of the festival, though dents are out of school. stops are made every staunch devotee of lord Murugan. ∏ π
watch the thousands of beautifully decorated it would be several more days before the few hundred yards, with crowds of Hindus, to view a short video documentary of the festival
kavadis that tower over the crowd as they ap- crowds would fully disperse. chinese and others seeking a last chance produced by hinduism today, go to www.hinduism
proach the caves. people watch not only to this journey was as well attended as the for blessings. the chariot finally reaches the ht_2007-07-01_thai-pusam.shtml.
enjoy the colorful display, but to admire the midnight trip to the caves. coconut break- temple at about 1:00 am, and the Deity and to download carl belle’s thai pusam thesis, go to
devotion and penance of the bearers. ing began again in a big way. Hundreds His vel are returned to the sanctum. approved/adt-vdu20050705.110706/public/.

Fun and Shopping! Safety & Order

From the top: The popular carnival section

includes a modern Ferris wheel and the an-
cient Indian version (front). The marketplace
stalls range from sweets sellers such as this
one to organization information booths, free
feeding halls for the devotees, bookstores and
more. This stall (left) offers ornate hard-wood
home shrines. (right) Members of Saint John’s
Ambulance Malaysia muster near the Muru-
gan statue. Nine doctors and a hundred nurse
assistants are stationed around the compound
during the festival. Dehydration, blisters and
cramps are the common problems, but they
can deal with any emergency. A police force
drawn from all of Malaysia’s ethnic and reli-
gious communities keeps order at the festival.
Years ago unruly elements would descend on
the festival and annoy devotees, but temple
authories and police cracked down on the
misbehavior through increased uniformed
police presence and plainclothes agents.

32  h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   33

Saints’ Abodes
My sojourn to the Himalaya’s remote temples and cave ashrams
convinced me of the spiritual power of our rishis, saints and sages

By Prithiviraj Bahadursingh,
London, England
he himalayas are said to be the
abode of the Gods. Their mighty, in in-
domitable presence alone is enough to
lift our hearts to sublime heights. Over
the centuries they have been fertile ground,
producing many Self-Realized saints and
sages. I count myself lucky to have been
able to visit the magnificent Himalayas and
offer my humble salutations to these rishis.
We set off as a group of seven from Chin-
maya Mission, London, on a quest to visit all
four of the Himalayan pilgrimage destina-
tions known as the Chardham: Yamunotri
and Gangotri, both sacred to Devi; Badri-
nath, sacred to Lord Vishnu; and Kedarnath,
sacred to Lord Siva. Against prevailing ad-
vice, we began in July, 2005, after the mon-
soon rains had started, which meant hazard-
ous road conditions and landslides. But it
also meant clean air, minus dust and smoke,
which allowed for spectacular sights.
We were probably seeking to do the im-
possible, but we set out with faith and a
vibrant spirit. Although we did not reach
Yamunotri, which would have required a
six-kilometer hike, we were far from being
disappointed: our pilgrimage to Gangotri,
Badrinath and Kedarnath will inspire us
forever. Our very entry into the Himalayas
was a pilgrimage in itself: we stopped at
Haridwar and Rishikesh, where the evening
arati worship to Mother Ganga is an experi-
ence not to be missed.
I always knew that certain places have
spiritual vibrations, but on our trip I became
overwhelmingly convinced of the power of

a l l p h o t o s : b . k . pat e l a n d n . nat h wa n i
our ancient rishis and saints. Temples such
as Kedarnath and Badrinath have their own
powerful vibrations, but there was some-
thing remarkable and uplifting about the
dwelling places of our saints. We were for-
tunate enough to visit three such places in

In the sacred mountains: (upper left) The

Ma Saravati River; (lower left) the tiny
Sarasvati Temple next to the river; (right)
Swami Sundaranananda with Brahmacha­
ri Satwick Chaitanya of Chinmaya Mission
at Swami Tapovan’s ashram near Gangotri

34 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 35
addition to the temples. Ganesha, who wrote it down with His bro-
A short drive from Badrinath is the ken tusk. Vyasa Cave and Ganesh Cave are
small village of Mana. A brief walk in the actual places where this writing took
the thin air through the mountain village place. One may believe that this is a myth,
took us to Shri Vyasa Cave and Shri Ga- but on entering the cave of Shri Ved Vyasa,
nesha Cave. Then another short walk and who lived thousands of years ago, one is
we all stood in awe at the origin of the totally overcome by the spiritual power of
mighty Sarasvati River. Next to the river this abode. One can feel his divine presence.
is a small Ma Sarasvati temple where I remembered the praise to Ved Vyasa in
we made offerings. Ma Sarasvati is the the Gita Dhyanam, and I thought to myself,
Goddess of Learning. It is no surprise “How true those verses really are.” In the
that Shri Ved Vyasa lived so close to Her. cave is a consecrated statue of Ved Vyasa
Ved Vyasa is one of the greatest saints and, quite appropriately, there is a resident
of our tradition. The volume of his con- brahmachari who daily recites Sanskrit
tribution to our culture and civilization verses.
is unparalleled. He composed the great I learned from my friends that countless
Mahabaharata, Bhagavad Gita and the saints have visited Ved Vyasa Cave over the
Shrimad Bhagavatam. As the story goes, centuries. Swami Tapovan (1888-1957), the
b . k . pat e l a n d n . nat h wa n i

he dictated the Mahabharata to Lord Satguru of Swami Chinmayananda, often

visited Ved Vyasa Cave to meditate as a re-
God’s land: (left) Pilgrims arrive at Shri spite from his wanderings in the Himalayas.
Vyasa Cave; (below) Google Earth pro­ I was so humbled to know this and to have
vides this spectacular view of Rishikesh. been able to visit this divine place.
Ram Jula bridge is just above the center We also visited Swami Tapovan’s retreat.
of the satellite photo; the 450­foot Laksh­ He had a small hut in Uttarkashi, on the
man Jula bridge is upstream around the banks of the Ganga, just a short walk from
river’s bend. the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. A Chinmaya
ashram has been built around it, but the
original hut is still preserved. The hut is

b . k . pat e l a n d n . nat h wa n i
normally closed; but for Guru Purnima in
July, when devotees honor their guru, it was
opened up for worship, and we were able to
see the inside. The feeling of his dwelling
place is the same as at Ved Vyasa Cave, one of
subtle, calm and deeply spiritual vibrations.
At Gangotri we visited Swami Tapovanji’s
ashram, where Swami Chinmayananda
studied with him. At present Swami Sun-
darananda, a direct student of Swami Ta-
povanji, lives there. Swamiji is famous for his
outstanding photographs of the Himalayas.
During our visit, he opened up the inner
apartment where Swami Tapovanji lived
and meditated. This was the third time that
I experienced that same overwhelming spir-
itual feeling. It convinced me of the power
of our saints.
We are deeply indebted to our great saints
for the contributions they have made for our
growth and spiritual evolution. It is a bless-
ing to be able to visit the places where they
lived and even greater is to be in their di-
vine presence. I hope that everyone in some
way may experience and be inspired by
their greatness and divinity. ∏π
prithiviraj bahadursingh (
is from trinidad where he studied medicine. he is
now in london specializing in pediatrics.

b . k . pat e l a n d n . nat h wa n i
Saintly home: (top) The inner apartment
of Swami Tapovan’s retreat near Gangotri;
(bottom) Pilgrims in the land of saints—(left
google earth

to right) Devi Khakhria, Nikhil Tanna, Nee­

raj Nathwani, Prithiviraj Bahadursingh (the
author), Balakrishna Patel; other members
of the expedition, Neha Tanna and Shayur
Shah, are not seen here.
36 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 37
corbis t h o m a s k e l ly t h o m a s k e l ly

h i n d u i s m t o d ay t h o m a s k e l ly c o u r t e s y s h a r a n ya m u k h o pa d h yay

t h o m a s k e l ly j a n g a m awa d i m at h d av e t r o p f
Hindu Views on the Nature of Existence

t h o m a s k e l ly d av e t r o p f m a r c h av e l i

t h o m a s k e l ly a na n d a m ay i a s h r a m a r c h i v e s t h o m a s k e l ly

t h o m a s k e l ly t h o m a s k e l ly jason and zac tropf

the Self, realize God and understand our purpose in the world
and communion, are windows on the eternal human quest to know
The images here, capturing moments of wonder, introspection, bliss
ever have there been so many people living on the planet wondering, “What is the real

  goal, the final purpose, of life?” However, man is blinded by his ignorance and his concern
with the externalities of the world. He is caught, enthralled, bound by karma. The ultimate
realizations available are beyond his understanding and remain to him obscure, even intellectually.
Man’s ultimate quest, the final evolutionary frontier, is within man himself. It is the Truth spoken
by Vedic rishis as the Self within man, attainable through devotion, purification and control of the
mind. On the following pages, we explore the nature of the soul, God and the world. Offered here
is a broad perspective that Hindus of most lineages would find agreement with, though in such
matters there naturally arise myriad differences of perspective. To highlight the most important of
these we offer a comparison of Hinduism’s four major denominations. Next we explore the views
of these four denominations on liberation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Finally, we
present a chart of Hindu cosmology that seeks to connect the microcosm and the macrocosm and
is a lifetime meditation in itself.
c o r b i s d i g i ta l s t o c k

n a very real sense, we are like the spaceman in the photo above, totally dependent on

 I our body, mind, emotions and personal identity to persist in life, just as he depends on
his space suit and its supply of oxygen to enable him to exist in space. Take away our
body, remove our emotions, erase our identity and what is left? Do we cease to exist? What
are we really? Rishis assure us that we are immortal souls on a journey of spiritual evolution.
We will take on many bodies, many lives, many different identities through the repetitive
cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Each advent into a new birth is like an astronaut’s voyage
into the great unknown. The soul’s underlying joy throughout this adventure is to commune
with and realize God, learning of its true nature in the great classroom of experience, known
as the world, or maya. The three realities of existence, God, soul and world, constitute the
fundamentals of Hindu theology, known as tattva-trayi in Sanskrit, describing a view in which
Divinity, self and cosmos are a profound, integrated unity. Each and every soul is on the same
journey, spanning many lifetimes. The path has been made clear by those who have gone
before. The answers to life’s ultimate questions have been given time and time again, but still
must be asked and answered by each soul in its own time: “Who am I?” “Where did I come
from?” “Where am I going?”

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
Subtlest of the subtle, greatest of the great, the atman is hidden in the
cave of the heart of all beings. He who, free from all urges, beholds Him
overcomes sorrow, seeing by grace of the Creator, the Lord and His glory.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.20

40 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 41
Who Am I? Where Did I Come From? Where Am I Going? What Is My Path?
ishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or e are all growing toward God, and experience

  emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous
journey. We came from God, live in God and
are evolving into oneness with God. We are, in truth, the
  is the path. Through experience we mature
out of fear into fearlessness, out of anger into
love, out of conflict into peace, out of darkness into light
Truth we seek. ¶We are immortal souls living and grow- and union in God. ¶We have taken birth in a physical
ing in the great school of earthly experience in which we body to grow and evolve into our divine potential. We
have lived many lives. Vedic rishis have given us cour- are inwardly already one with God. Our religion contains
age by uttering the simple truth, “God is the Life of our the knowledge of how to realize this oneness and not
life.” A great sage carried it further by saying there is one create unwanted experiences along the way. The peer-
thing God cannot do: God cannot separate Himself from less path is following the way of our spiritual forefathers,
us. This is because God is our life. God is the life in the discovering the mystical meaning of the scriptures. The
birds. God is the life in the fish. God is the life in the ani- peerless path is commitment, study, discipline, practice
mals. Becoming aware of this Life energy in all that lives and the maturing of yoga into wisdom. In the beginning
is becoming aware of God’s loving presence within us. stages, we suffer until we learn. Learning leads us to
We are the undying consciousness and energy flowing service; and selfless service is the beginning of spiritual
through all things. Deep inside we are perfect this very striving. Service leads us to understanding. Understand-
moment, and we have only to discover and live up to this ing leads us to meditate deeply and without distractions.
perfection to be whole. Our energy and God’s energy are Finally, meditation leads us to surrender in God. This is
the same, ever coming out of the void. We are all beauti- the straight and certain path, the San Marga, leading to
ful children of God. Each day we should try to see the life Self Realization—the inmost purpose of life—and sub-
energy in trees, birds, animals and people. When we do, sequently to moksha, freedom from rebirth. The Vedas
s. rajam

s. rajam
we are seeing God in action. The Vedas affirm, “He who wisely affirm, “By austerity, goodness is obtained. From
knows God as the Life of life, the Eye of the eye, the Ear of goodness, understanding is reached. From understand-
Above: Seated by a lotus pond, Above, an aspirant climbs the highest
the ear, the Mind of the mind—he indeed comprehends symbol of his quieted mind, a seeker ing, the Self is obtained, and he who obtains the Self is
peak of all, the summit of consciousness.
fully the Cause of all causes.” performs japa and contemplates his Though the higher reaches of this path freed from the cycle of birth and death.”
destiny, which blooms as naturally as the are arduous, solitary, even severe, he
flower he holds. Behind are depicted the remains undaunted, impervious to
past lives that brought him to his maturity. distraction, his eyes fixed firmly on
the goal—Self Realization.

Different Views of God, Soul & World… from Hinduism’s Four Denominations
There is a wide spectrum of religious belief within Hinduism’s four major sects or denomina- loving and beautiful Lord pleased by service and surrender, and His incarnations, especially Rama
tions: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. While they share far more similarities than and Krishna. Among the foremost means of communion is chanting His holy names. In most schools
differences, they naturally hold unique perspectives on God, soul and the world. In Saivism, of Vaishnavism, God and soul are eternally distinct, with the soul’s destiny being to revel in God’s
the personal God and primary temple Deity is Siva. He is pure love and compassion, both im- loving presence. ¶In Smartism, the Deity is Ishvara. Devotees choose their Deity from among six
manent and transcendent, pleased by devotees’ purity and striving. Philosophically, God Siva Gods, yet worship the other five as well: Vishnu, Siva, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda. Ishvara
is one with the soul, a mystic truth that is ultimately realized through His grace. ¶In Saktism appears as a human-like Deity according to devotees’ loving worship. Both God and man are, in real-
the personal Goddess is Shri Devi or Shakti, the Divine Mother, worshiped as Kali, Durga, Raja- ity, the Absolute, Brahman; though under the spell of maya, they appear as two. Jnana, enlightened
rajeshvari and Her other aspects. Both compassionate and terrifying, pleasing and wrathful, She wisdom, dispels the illusion. ¶In this Insight, along the lower section of the next four pages, you
is assuaged by sacrifice and submission. Emphasis is on bhakti and tantra to achieve advaitic will find verses from the writings of seers of these four denominations that offer a glimpse of their
union. ¶For Vaishnavism the personal God and temple Deity is Vishnu, or Venkateshwara, a perspectives on the nature of things ultimate.

42 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 43
What Is the Nature of God? How Do We Worship the Supreme Being?


od is all and in all, One without a second, the Supreme Being and only
Absolute Reality. God, the great Lord hailed in the Upanishads and
adored by all denominations of Hinduism, is a one being, worshiped
in many forms and understood in three perfections, with each denomination
having its unique perspectives: Absolute Reality, Pure Consciousness and Pri-

s a family of faiths, Hinduism upholds a wide array of per-
spectives on the Divine, yet all worship the one Supreme
Being, adoring that Divinity as our Father-Mother God
who protects, nurtures and guides us. We beseech God’s grace
in our lives while also knowing that He/She is the essence of our
mal Soul. As Absolute Reality, God is unmanifest, unchanging and transcen- soul, the life of our life, closer to us than our breath, nearer than
dent, the Self God, timeless, formless and spaceless. As Pure Consciousness, hands and feet. We commune with the Divine through silent prayer,

h i n d u i s m t o d ay
God is the manifest primal substance, pure love and light flowing through meditation, exaltation through singing and chanting, traditional
all form, existing everywhere in time and space as infinite intelligence and music and dance. We invoke blessings and grace through puja—
power. As Primal Soul, God is our personal Lord, source of all three worlds. ritual offering of lights, water and flowers to a sacred image of the
Extolling God’s first Perfection, the Vedas explain, “Self-resplendent, form- Lord—and through homa, or fire ceremony. At least once a year we
less, unoriginated and pure, that all-pervading being is both within and without. He transcends make a pilgrimage to a distant temple or holy site, devoting
even the transcendent, unmanifest, causal state of the universe” (Manduka Upanishad 2.1.2). heart and mind fully to God. Annual festivals are joyous
Describing the second Perfection, the Vedas reveal, “He is God, hidden in all beings, their observances. ¶The four major denominations worship
inmost soul who is in all. He watches the works of creation, lives in all things, watches all God in their own way. To the Saivite, God is Siva. To

marc halevi
things. He is pure consciousness, beyond the three conditions of nature” (Shvetashvatara the Shakta, Devi, the Goddess, is the Supreme One.
Upanishad 6.11). Praising the third Perfection, the Vedas recount, “He is the one God, the The Vaishnava Hindu adores God as Vishnu and His
Creator. He enters into all wombs. The One Absolute, impersonal Existence, together incarnations, and the Smarta worships his chosen
with His inscrutable maya, appears as the Divine Lord, endowed with manifold glories. Deity as the Supreme. Each denomination also venerates its own pantheon of Divinities,
With His Divine Power He holds dominion over all the worlds” (Shvetashvatara Upani- Mahadevas, or “great angels,” who were created by the Supreme Lord and who serve and
shad 3.1). In summary, we know God in His three perfections, two of form and one form- adore Him. The elephant-faced Lord Ganesha, worshiped by Hindus of all denominations,
less. We worship His manifest form as Pure Love and Consciousness. We worship Him is the most popular Mahadeva. Other Deities include Gods and Goddesses of strength,
as our Personal Lord, the Primal Soul who tenderly loves and cares for His devotees—a yoga, learning, art, music, wealth and culture.
being whose resplendent body may be seen in mystic vision. And we worship and ulti-
mately realize Him as the formless Absolute, which is beyond qualities and description. Left, the face of Lord Siva, worshiped as the Supreme God by millions of Hindus
around the world. Right, a priest offers ghee into the sacred fire during a homa ritual
prescribed in the Vedas that has been performed for thousands of years.

Verses from Sages of Diverse Traditions The intrinsic form of the individual soul consists of intuitive knowledge; it is dependent on God, capable of union

Vaishnava Hinduism
with and separation from the body; it is subtle and infinitesimal; it is different and distinct in each body. ¶There
I bow to Govinda, whose nature is bliss supreme, who is the satguru, who can be known only from the import of all are various types of individual souls, such as liberated, devoted and bound. The intrinsic form of the individual
Smarta Hinduism

Vedanta, and who is beyond the reach of speech and mind. ¶Let people quote the scriptures and sacrifice to the Gods, self is covered by the mirific power of Krishna. This covering can only be removed by Krishna’s grace. ¶Krishna
let them perform rituals and worship the Deities, but there is no liberation without the realization of one’s identity with is the Absolute, the Brahman, whose nature excludes all imperfection and is one mass of all noble qualities. He
the atman; no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put together. ¶It is verily through the touch of ignorance embodies the Theophanies and is identical with Vishnu himself. Radha, Krishna’s consort, is all radiant with joy, and
that thou who art the Supreme Self findest thyself under the bondage of the non-Self, whence alone proceeds the round is endowed with a loveliness that reflects His nature. She is always surrounded by thousands of attendant maids,
of births and deaths. The fire of knowledge, kindled by the discrimination between these two, burns up the effects of symbolizing finite souls. She also grants every desire. Krishna is to be worshiped by all who seek salvation, so that
ignorance together with their root. ¶As a treasure hidden underground requires [for its extraction] competent instruction, the influx of the darkness of ignorance may cease. This is the teachings of the Four Youths to Narada, witness to
excavation, the removal of stones and other such things lying above it and [finally] grasping, but never comes out by all truth.
being [merely] called out by name, so the transparent Truth of the Self, which is hidden by maya and its effects, is to Sri Nimbarka, Dashashloki, 2, 4, 5, 8, translated by Geeta Khurana, Ph.D.
be attained through the instructions of a knower of Brahman, followed by reflection, meditation and so forth, but not
through perverted arguments.
Adi Shankaracharya, Vivekachudamani, verses 1.1, 6, 47 & 65, translated by Swami Madhavananda

44 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 45
Is the World Also Divine? Should Worldly Involvement Be Avoided?
es, the world is divine. God created the world and all he world is the bountiful creation of a benevolent God, who means for us to live posi-

  things in it. He creates and sustains from moment to
moment every atom of the seen physical and unseen
spiritual universe. Everything is within Him. He is within every-
  tively in it, facing karma and fulfilling dharma. We must not despise or fear the world.
Life is meant to be lived joyously. ¶The world is the place where our destiny is shaped,
our desires fulfilled and our soul matured. In the world, we grow from ignorance into wisdom,
thing. God created us. He created the Earth and all things upon from darkness into light and from a consciousness of death to immortality. The whole world
it, animate and inanimate. He created time and gravity, the is an ashrama in which all are doing sannyasin. We must love the world, which is God’s cre-
vast spaces and the uncounted stars. He created night and day, ation. Those who despise, hate and fear the world do not understand the intrinsic goodness
joy and sorrow, love and hate, birth and death. He created the of all. The world is a glorious place, not to be feared. It is a gracious gift from God Himself, a
gross and the subtle, this world and the other worlds. There playground for His children in which to interre-
are three worlds of existence: the physical, subtle and causal, late young souls with the old—the young expe-
termed Bhuloka, Antarloka and Brahmaloka. The Creator of all, riencing their karma while the old hold firmly to
God Himself, is uncreated. He wills into manifestation all souls their dharma. The young grow; the old know. Not
and all form, issuing them from Himself like light from a fire or fearing the world does not give us permission to
waves from an ocean. Rishis describe this perpetual process become immersed in worldliness. To the contrary,
as the unfoldment of thirty-six tattvas, stages of manifesta- it means remaining affectionately detached, like
tion, from the Siva tattva—Parashakti and nada—to the five a drop of water on a lotus leaf, being in the world

tho m as kelly
elements. Creation is not the making of a separate thing, but but not of it, walking in the rain without getting
an emanation of Himself. God creates, constantly sustains the wet. The Vedas warn, “Behold the universe in the
form of His creations and absorbs them back into Himself. The glory of God: and all that lives and moves on Earth.
Vedas elucidate, “As a spider spins and withdraws its web, as Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal. Set
herbs grow on the earth, as hair grows on the head and body not your heart on another’s possession.”
of a person, so also from the Imperishable arises this universe.”

Right, the sleek towers of Singapore’s famous Raffles Place

exemplify our contemporary high-tech world. Above, an ancient
co rel
stone carving of Lord Ganesha in Tirupati, is worshiped each
day by hundreds of devotees for help and guidance.

Siva, having freely taken limitations of body upon Himself, is the soul. As He frees Himself from these, He is Paramasiva The Lord created the world, the dwelling place of man. How shall I sing His majesty? He is as mighty as Mount
(supreme consciousness). Self realization is the aim of human life. Through the realization of unity of guru, mantra,
Shakta Hinduism

Meru, whence He holds sway over the three worlds; and He is the four paths of Saivam here below. ¶Those who

Saivite Hinduism
Goddess, the Self and powers of kundalini, inwardly manifested as faculties of consciousness and outwardly as women, tread the path of Shuddha Saivam stand aloft, their hearts intent on Eternal Para, transcending worlds of pure
the knowledge of the subjective Self is acquired. Bliss is the form of the absolute consciousness manifested in body. The and impure maya, where pure intelligence consorts not with base ignorance and the lines that divide Real, unreal
five makaras reveal that Bliss. By the power of bhavana [intention, resolve] everything is achieved. and real-unreal are sharply discerned.
Parashurama-kalpasutra, Prathama-khanda, 5-6, 11-13 Tirumantiram 1419 & 1420

The real nature is realized by dwelling in the great spontaneity. A firm stay in the universal consciousness is brought This Lord of Maya-world that has its rise in the mind, He knows all our thoughts, but we do not think of Him. Some
about by the absorption of duality. The great union arises from the unification of male and female [principles], and the be who groan, “God is not favorable to me,” but surely God seeks those who seek, their souls to save. ¶“How is it
perceiver with the perceived. Upon the enjoyment of the triple bliss, the unfettered supreme consciousness involuntarily they received God Siva’s grace?” you ask. In the battle of life, their bewildered thoughts wandered. They trained
and suddenly [reveals itself]. With the immersion into the great wisdom comes freedom from merit and demerit. their course and, freed of darkness, sought the Lord and adored His precious, holy feet.
Vatulanatha-sutra, 1, 4, 5, 8, 12 Tirumantiram 22 & 599
Translations by Arjuna Taranandanatha Kaulavadhuta Translations by Dr. B. Natarajan

46 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 47
What Is Liberation? Bliss: Left, in a mountain cave, a worshiper of God as
the Absolute Reality (Sivalinga) transcends the mind
and completely realizes his oneness with all of cre-
ation. His samadhi is so deep that his outer identity dis-
aving lived many lives, each soul eventually seeks release from mortality, expe- solves, shown by the starry sky pervading his body

   riences the Divine directly through Self Realization and ultimately attains lib-
eration from the round of births and deaths. All Hindus know this to be their
eventual goal, but the means of attainment and understanding of the ultimate state vary
greatly. The point in evolution at which the individual earns release and exactly what Having realized the Self, the rishis, perfected
happens afterwards is described differently in each of the Hindu denominations. Within souls, satisfied with their knowledge, passion-free,
each sect there are also distinct schools of thought. These are the subtle, profound and tranquil—those wise beings, having attained the
Ominipresent on all sides—enter into the All itself.
compelling perspectives we explore below.
Atharva Veda, Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.5

he dawn of freedom from the cycle of reincarnation is called all powers except creatorship, which belongs to Ish- Summary

T moksha (liberation), and one who has attained the state of

liberation is called a jivanmukta (liberated soul). While some
schools of Hinduism teach that liberation comes only upon death,
vara alone (IV.4.17). Generally, the view that the soul
attains the Absolute only is more represented by the
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, while the Chandogya
All schools are agreed that liberation is the ultimate fulfilment of
human life, whose purpose is spiritual growth, not mere worldly
enjoyment (bhoga). Having lived many lives and having learned
most recognize the condition of jivanmukti, a state of liberation Upanishad mentions liberation along with the attain- many lessons, each conscious being seeks release from mortality,
in which the spiritually advanced being continues to unfold its in- ment of lordly powers. Most later ideas of moksha are which then leads to glimpses of our divine origin and finally Self
herent perfection while in the embodied state. It is said of such variations on these same Vedic views. Realization. This consists in discovering our true nature, beyond
a great one that “he died before he died,” indicating the totally At one end of this metaphysical spectrum are the body and mind, our identity in the incomprehensibly vast ulti-
real, not merely symbolic, demise of the ego, or limited self-sense. jnanis who follow the yoga of knowledge and who as- mate Being. Upon this discovery, we are released from the round
Some schools hold the view that liberated beings may voluntarily cribe to the view that the Ultimate Reality is formless of births and deaths and realize eternal freedom, untold bliss and
return to the physical universe in order to help those who are as and unqualified (nirguna). At the other end are the supreme consciousness.
yet unliberated. bhaktas who follow the yoga of devotion and com-
Views on the Nature of Soul and God
The Sanskrit word moksha derives from the root muk, which monly believe that the individual being (jiva) remains
has many connotations: to loosen, to free, release, let loose, let go in communion with its beloved (Bhagavan). Thus,
and thus also to spare, to let live, to allow to depart, to dispatch, to devotees believe that they will come to inhabit the di- The concept of moksha for every Hindu school of thought is in-
dismiss and even to relax, to spend, bestow, give away and to open. vine realm, or loka, of their chosen Deity, Siva, Vishnu, formed and modified by its understanding of the individual and
Philosophically, moksha means “release from worldly existence or Kali, etc. Each metaphysical view has given rise to a its relationship to God. Most Hindus believe that after release from
transmigration; final or eternal emancipation.” But moksha is not distinct practical approach to reaching Oneness and birth and death the innermost being will exist in the higher regions
a state of extinction of the conscious being. Nor is it mere uncon- Liberation. of the subtle worlds, where the Deities and spiritually mature be-
sciousness. Rather it is perfect freedom, an indescribable state of Later Advaita Vedantins, such as Shankaracharya, ings abide. Some schools contend that the soul continues to evolve
nondifferentiation, a proximity to, or a oneness with, the Divine. spoke of two types of liberation. The first is complete in these realms until it attains perfect union and merger with God.
Moksha marks an end to the earthly sojourn, but it may also be or direct liberation, which they regarded as the high- Others teach that the highest end is to abide eternally and sepa-
understood as a beginning, not unlike graduation from university. est state. The second is a gradual liberation that occurs rately in God’s glorious presence. Four distinct views, reflected in
Apavarga and kaivalya are other apt terms for this ineffable condi- wherein the individual being goes, after death, first to the primary Hindu denominations, are explored below.
tion of perfect detachment, freedom and oneness. the heaven of Brahma and then gains liberation from
Hinduism is a pluralistic tradition. On any given subject it offers a there without having to return to the physical world. Smarta Hinduism: All is Brahman
variety of views that reflect different human temperaments and dif- Ramana Maharshi, the great sage of South India, ob- Smartism (the teaching following smriti, or tradition) is an ancient
ferent levels of emotional, intellectual, moral and spiritual develop- served that three types of liberation are mentioned in brahmanical tradition reformed by Adi Shankara in the ninth cen-
ment. So, too, on the subject of liberation, various learned opinions Hinduism: without form, with form, and both with tury. This liberal Hindu path, which revolves around the worship
exist. Since liberation involves transcending time and space, and yet and without form. He considered true liberation as of six fundamental forms of the Divine, is monistic, nonsectarian,
is a state that can be achieved while in a body, it defies precise defi- transcending all such concepts (Saddarshana 42). meditative and philosophical. Ishvara and the human being are
a . m a niv e l

nition. For this reason, some have argued that different views of lib- The Natha Saivite perspective is as follows. To at- in reality the singular absolute Brahman. Within maya, the soul
eration simply reflect the built-in limitations of language and reason. tain liberation while living, the realization of the Self and Ishvara appear as two. Jnana, spiritual wisdom, dispels that
has to be brought through into every aspect of life, illusion.
Many Paths every atom of one’s body. This occurs after many ex- Most Smartas believe that moksha is achieved through jnana yoga
The Vedas themselves present a number of approaches to libera- periences of nirvikalpa samadhi. Through harnessing alone. This approach is defined as an intellectual and meditative
tion. Some of these are agnostic; others involve various monistic the power of sannyasin and tapas, the adept advances his or her What distinguishes the mukta from the nonliberated individual but non-kundalini yoga path. Yet, many Advaitins also recognize
and theistic views. The main classical text on Self Realization evolution. Only great tapasvins achieve jivanmukti, for one must is his total freedom from all selfishness and attachments, his per- the kundalini as the power of consciousness. Ramana Maharshi
within the Vedanta tradition, the Brahma Sutra of Badarayana, be proficient in brahmacharya, yoga, pranayama and the varied manent abidance in the all-pervading Divine Presence, his lucid, and Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh did, and Shankara wrote on
mentions a number of then current views: that upon liberation sadhanas. It is a grace made possible by guidance of a living sat- witnessing consciousness and his wisdom (jnana), revealed in tantra and kundalini as in the Saundarya-Lahiri. Guided by a re-
the soul (jiva) attains nondifference from Brahman (IV.4.4); that it guru and attained by single-minded and strong-willed discipline, spontaneous utterances. alized guru and avowed to the unreality of the world, the initiate
gains the attributes of Brahman (IV.4.5); that it exists only as pure worship, detachment and purification. Even after attaining perfect liberation, a being may, after passing meditates on himself as Brahman to break through the illusion of
consciousness (IV.4.6); that even though it is pure consciousness Thus, it is possible to realize the Self—as in nirvikalpa samadhi— into the inner worlds, consciously choose to be reborn to help oth- maya. The ultimate goal of Smartas is to realize oneself as Brah-
from the relative standpoint, it can still gain the attributes of Brah- and still not reach the emancipated state. If this happens, the being ers on the path. Such a one is called an upadeshi—exemplified by man, the Absolute and only Reality. For this, one must conquer
man (IV.4.7); that through pure will alone it can gain whatever it reincarnates in the physical world after death and in his new body the benevolent satguru—as distinguished from a nirvani, or silent the state of avidya, ignorance, which causes the world to appear
wishes (IV.4.8); that it transcends any body or mind (IV.4.10); that has the opportunity to build upon past virtues and realizations ascetic who abides at the pinnacle of consciousness, whether in as real.
it possesses a divine body and mind (IV.4.11); and that it attains until finally becoming a jivanmukta in that or a future birth. this world or the next, shunning all worldly involvement. For the realized being, jivanmukta, all illusion has vanished,

48 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 49
even as he lives out life in the physical body. If the sun were cold Shakta Hinduism: Refuge in the Mother Union: Every soul’s ultimate goal, in this life or another, is to real-
or the moon hot or fire burned downward, he would show no won- Shaktas believe that the soul is one with the Divine. ize its oneness with God. That union is depicted here as Lord Siva
der. The jivanmukta teaches, blesses and sets an example for the Emphasis is given to the feminine aspect of the ul- and a mature soul merging in oneness. Siva sits beneath a banyan
welfare of the world. At death, his inner and outer bodies are extin- timate reality—Shakti. The Divine Mother or God- tree, bestowing His Grace by touching the third eye of the seeker,
guished. Brahman alone exists and he is That forever, all in All. dess Power, Shakti, is the mediatrix bestowing this who reaches up to embrace Divinity.
For Smartism, liberation depends on spiritual insight (jnana). advaitic moksha on those who worship Her. Moksha
It does not come from recitation of hymns, sacrificial worship is complete identification with the transcendental the Brahma Sutras.
or a hundred fasts. The human being is liberated not by effort, Divine, which is achieved when the kundalini shak- The sixth, Saiva Siddhanta, has two subsects. Meykandar’s
not by yogic practices, not by any self-transformation, but only ti—the individuated form of the divine power—is pluralistic realism teaches that God, soul and world are eter-
by the knowledge gained from scripture and self-reflection that raised through the sushumna current of the spine to nally coexistent. Liberation leads to a state of oneness with Siva
at its core the being is in fact Brahman. However, all such prac- the top of the head where it merges with Siva. in which the soul retains its individuality, as salt added to water.
tices do help purify the body and mind and create the aptitude The spiritual practices in Shaktism, which is also Tirumular’s monistic theism, or Advaita Ishvaravada, the older of
(adhikara) without which jnana remains mere theory or fantasy. known as tantra or tantrism, are similar to those in the two schools, holds that evolution continues after earthly births
Jnana yoga’s progressive stages are scriptural study (shravana), Saivism, though there is more emphasis in Shaktism until jiva becomes Siva; the soul merges in perfect oneness with
reflection (manana) and sustained meditation (nididhyasana or on God’s power as opposed to mere Being or Con- God, like a drop of water returning to the sea. Scriptures teach,
dhyana). Practitioners may also choose from three other nonsuc- sciousness. Shakta practices include visualization “Having realized the Self, the rishis, perfected souls, satisfied with
cessive paths in order to cultivate devotion, accrue good karma, and rituals involving mantras, hand gestures (mu- their knowledge, passion-free, tranquil—those wise beings, hav-
and purify the mind. These are bhakti yoga, karma yoga and raja dras), and geometric designs (yantras). The body is ing attained the Omnipresent on all sides—enter into the All it-
yoga, which some believe can also bring enlightenment, as they viewed as a temple of the Divine, and thus there are self” (Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.5). The primary goal of this form of
lead to jnana. also numerous prescribed techniques for purifying monistic Saiva Siddhanta is realizing one’s identity with God Siva,
Scripture teaches that “for the great-souled, the surest way to lib- and transforming the body. Philosophically, Shak- in perfect union and nondifferentiation. This is termed nirvikalpa
eration is the conviction that ‘I am Brahman’ ” (Shukla Yajur Veda, tism’s yogic world view embraces all opposites: male- samadhi, Self Realization, and may be attained in this life, granting
Paingala Upanishad 4.19). Sri Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi Peed- female, absolute-relative, pleasure-pain, cause-effect, moksha, permanent liberation from the cycles of birth and death.
am, Tamil Nadu, India, affirms, “That state where one transcends mind-body. Shamanistic Shaktism employs magic, A secondary goal is savikalpa samadhi, the realization of Satchi-
all feelings is liberation. Nothing affects this state of being. You may trance mediumship, firewalking and animal sacrifice dananda, a unitive experience within superconsciousness in which
call it transcendental bliss, purified intuition that enables one to for healing, fertility, prophecy and power. In “left- perfect Truth, Consciousness and Bliss are known.
see the Supreme as one’s own Self. One attains to Brahman, utterly hand” tantric circles an antinomianism is evident,
liberated.” which seeks to transcend traditional moral codes. A Monistic Natha Saivite Conclusion
The state of jivanmukti in Shaktism is called ku- According to the Saiva Siddhanta philosophy of South India, to
Vaishnava Hinduism: Forever at God’s Feet lachara or “the divine way of life,” which is attained reach emancipation, beyond all pleasure and pain, all difference
The primary goal of Vaishnavites is videhamukti, disembodied lib- through sadhana and grace. The liberated soul is and decay, the being must successively remove the three fetters:
eration, attainable only after death when the “small self” realizes known as a kaula-siddha, to whom wood and gold, life karma, “the power of cause and effect, action and reaction;” maya,
union with God Vishnu’s infinite body as a part of Him, yet main- and death are the same. The kaula-siddha can move “the power of manifestation;” and anava, “the power of egoity or veil
tains its pure individual personality. God’s transcendental Being is about in the world at will, even returning to earthly of duality.” Once freed by God’s grace from these bonds (which do
a celestial form residing in the city of Vaikuntha, the home of all duties such as kingship, yet remaining liberated not cease to exist altogether, but no longer have the power to bind),
eternal values and perfection, where the inner being joins Him from rebirth, as his actions can no longer bind him. the being is in the permanent state of sahaja samadhi, or “natu-
when liberated. Beings, however, do not share in God’s all-perva- The Goddess, Devi, gives both mukti and bhuk- ral, spontaneous ecstasy,” the living illumination called jivanmukti.
siveness or power to create. ti—liberation and worldly enjoyment. Dr. Sarvepalli This is the realization of the timeless, spaceless and formless Real-
Most Vaishnavites believe that dharma is the performance of Radhakrishnan explained, “The jiva under the influ- ity beyond all change or diversity. Simultaneously it is the realiza-
various devotional disciplines (bhakti sannyasins), and that the hu- ence of maya looks upon itself as an independent tion that all forms, whether internal or external, are also aspects of
man being can communicate with and receive the grace of Lord agent and enjoyer until release is gained. Knowledge this Ultimate Reality.
Vishnu, who manifests through the temple Deity, or icon. The of Shakti is the road to salvation, which is dissolu- Moksha does not mean death, as some misunderstand it. It
paths of karma yoga and jnana yoga are thought to lead to bhakti tion in the bliss effulgence of the Supreme.” Shri means freedom from rebirth, before or at the point of death, after
yoga. Through total self-surrender, called prapatti, to Lord Vishnu, Shri Shivaratnapuri Swami of Kailas Ashram, Ban- which souls continue evolving in the inner worlds, the Antarloka
one attains liberation from the world of change (samsara). Vaish- galore, India, declares, “My message to mankind is and Sivaloka, and finally merge with Lord Siva as does river wa-
navites consider the moksha of the Advaita philosophies a lesser right thought, right living and unremitting devotion ter when returning to the ocean. Moksha comes when all earthly
attainment, extolling instead the bliss of eternal devotion. There to the Divine Mother. Faith is the most important karmas have been fully resolved. Finally, at the end of each soul’s
are differing categories of souls that attain to four different lev- thing that you should cultivate. By faith does one evolution comes vishvagrasa, total absorption in Siva. The Vedas
els of permanent release: salokya, or “sharing the world” of God; obtain knowledge.” promise, “If here one is able to realize Him before the death of the
samipya, or “nearness” to God; sarupya, or “likeness” to God; and body, he will be liberated from the bondage of the world.”
a . m a niv e l

sayujya, or “union” with God. Jivanmukti exists only in the case Saiva Hinduism: Soul and Siva Are One All embodied souls—whatever be their faith or convictions, Hin-
of great souls who leave their place in the divine abode to take a The path for Saivites is divided into four progres- du or not—are destined to achieve moksha, but not necessarily in
human birth for the benefit of others and return to God as soon as sive stages of belief and practice called charya, this life. Hindus know this and do not delude themselves that this
their task is done. kriya, yoga and jnana. The soul evolves through identity of Siva and soul, called Linga and anga. The soul ulti- life is the last. Old souls renounce worldly ambitions and take up
There is one school of Vaishnavism, founded by Vallabhacharya, karma and reincarnation from the instinctive-intellectual sphere mately merges in a state of Shunya, or Nothingness, which is not sannyasa, renunciation, in quest of Self Realization even at a young
which takes an entirely different view of moksha. It teaches that into virtuous and moral living, then into temple worship and devo- an empty void. 3) Kashmir Shaivism teaches that liberation comes age. Younger souls desire to seek lessons from the experiences of
upon liberation the soul, through its insight into truth revealed by tion, followed by internalized worship or yoga and its meditative through a sustained recognition, called pratyabhijna, of one’s true worldly life, which is rewarded by many, many births on Earth. In
virtue of perfect devotion, recovers divine qualities suppressed disciplines. Union with God, Siva, comes through the grace of the Self as nothing but Siva. After liberation, the soul has no merger in between, souls seek to fulfil their dharma while resolving karma
previously and becomes one with God, in identical essence, though satguru and culminates in the soul’s maturity into jnana, wisdom. God, as God and soul are eternally nondifferent. 4) In Gorakhnath and accruing merit through good deeds. After moksha has been
the soul remains a part, and God the whole. This relationship is de- Saivism values both bhakti and yoga, devotional and contemplative Saivism, or Siddha Siddhanta, moksha leads to a complete same- attained—and it is an attainment resulting from much sadhana,
scribed by the analogy of sparks issuing from a fire. sadhanas. ness of Siva and soul, described as “bubbles arising and returning self-reflection and realization—subtle karmas are made and swiftly
Swami Prakashanand Saraswati of the International Society of Moksha is defined differently in Saivism’s six schools. 1) Pashu- to water.” 5) In Siva Advaita, liberation leads to the “akasha within resolved, like writing on water. “The Self cannot be attained by the
Divine Love, Texas, offers a Vaishnava view, “Liberation from pata Saivism emphasizes Siva as supreme cause and personal ruler the heart.” Upon death, the soul goes to Siva along the path of the weak, nor by the careless, nor through aimless disciplines. But if
maya and the karmas is only possible after the divine vision of of the soul and world. It teaches that the liberated soul retains its Gods, continuing to exist on the spiritual plane, enjoying the bliss one who knows strives by right means, his soul enters the abode of
God. Thus, sincere longing for His vision is the only way to receive individuality in a state of complete union with Siva. 2) Vira Saivism of knowing all as Siva, and attaining all powers except creation. God” (Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.4).
His grace and liberation.” holds that after liberation the soul experiences a true union and This is a similar view to the Upanishads like the Chandogya and

50 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 51

T his chart assembles and cor-

relates four essential elements
Chart of Hindu Cosmology: the Inner and Outer Universe corresponds to the muladhara chakra.
Below it is depicted the part of the
of Hindu cosmology: the planes astral plane called the Narakaloka—
of existence and consciousness; the realm of lower consciousness,

3 ƒËé 14 ƒËé 5 郟 Paraßiva (atattva, “beyond existence”)
the tattvas; the chakras; and the 3 À¿¤¿  5 éËÀ  fear, anger, jealousy, etc. Looking
bodies of man. ¶It is organized 3 Worlds 14 Planes (loka) 5 sPheres (kalÅ) 36 ™^∆ 36 eVolutes (tattVa) 3 bodIes 5 sheaths back to column one, the dotted path
(ÍarÈra) (koÍa)
with the highest consciousness, or indicates that regions two, three and
subtlest level of manifestation, at thIrd World 7. satyaloka, “plane of 5. ÍÅntyatItakalÅ Íuddha mÅyÅ: Pure sPIrItual energy four of the Antarloka are the domain

vißvagrâsa: final merger of
the top, and the lowest, or gross- Íivaloka, “plane reality,” also called Brahma- Íivânanda, superconsciousness 1) Íiva tattva: Parâßakti-nâda, from which souls are reborn. Column
the golden ânandamaya koßa
est, at the bottom. In studying the of God” and the loka, region of sahasrâra expanded into endless inner Satchidânanda, pure consciousness three provides a view of the kalas,
(svar∫aßarîra) in Parameßvara
chart, it is important to remember Gods, also called chakra space. 2) Íakti tattva: Parameßvara-bindu, Personal God which emphasize the states of mind
that each level includes within kâra∫aloka, the or levels of consciousness associated
itself all the levels above it. Thus, “causal plane” 4. ÍÅntIkalÅ 3) Sadâßiva tattva: power of revealment with these strata.
6. taPoloka, “plane of

kÅraıa ÍarÈra, “causal body” or

soul body
the element earth, the grossest or austerity,” âjñâ chakra kâra∫a chitta, 4) Èßvara tattva: power of concealment Ånandamaya koÍa, “sheath of Column four of the chart lists the 36
outermost aspect of manifestation, superconscious forms made of 5) Íuddhavidyâ tattva: dharma, pure knowing, bliss”—the body of the soul, tattvas. Tattvas (literally “that-ness”)
5. janaloka, “creative inner sounds and colors the powers of dissolution, preservation and

contains all the tattvas above it on also called the actinic causal body are the primary principles, elements,
plane,”vißuddha chakra creation—Rudra, Vish∫u and Brahmâ
the chart. They are its inner struc- • lIberated souls • states or categories of existence, the
ture. Similarly, the soul encased •bound souls • building blocks of the universe. God
4. maharloka  3. VIdyÅkalÅ ÍuddhÅÍuddha mÅyÅ VIjñÅnamaya
in a physical body also has all the constantly creates, sustains the form
hIgher astral Plane

second “plane of greatness,” also koÍa

refIned astral body

anukâra∫a chitta, sPIrItual/magnetIc energy

sheaths named above—pranic, World called Devaloka, “angelic the “sheath of of and absorbs back into Himself His
• subsuperconscious awareness of 6) mâyâ tattva: mirific energy
instinctive-intellectual, cognitive antarloka, world,” anâhata chakra forms in their totality in progres- 7) kâla tattva: time cognition,” creations. Rishis describe this emana-
the subtle, or

and causal. sive states of manifestation 8) niyati tattva: karma the mental or tional process as the unfoldment of
astral, plane
The three columns on the left • subsuperconscious cognition of 9) kalâ tattva: creativity, aptitude actinodic causal tattvas, stages or evolutes of mani-
side of the chart depict the inner the interrelated forces of the spiri- 10) vidyâ tattva: knowledge sËkshma sheath festation, descending from subtle to
and outer universe. Column one tual and magnetic energies 11) râga tattva: attachment, desire ÍarÈrathe gross. This column of the chart sub-
12) purusha tattva: shrouded soul “subtle
shows the three worlds: the causal, divides the tattvas into three levels of
superconscious realm of the Gods; maya, manifest creation, as follows:
einca called the as-

the astral realm of dreams, abode fr 3. sVarloka, “celestial 2. PratIshÊhÅkalÅ aÍuddha mÅyÅ: magnetIc/gross energy manomaya koÍa shuddha maya (correlating to the

 gross astral body

tral body

plane,” ma∫ipûra chakra the intellectual

cycle o

of non-embodied souls; and the buddhi chitta and manas chitta, Third World in column one); shud-

saµsâra (odic-causal)
physical world of the five senses. realm of intellect and instinct 13) prak®iti tattva: primal nature dhashuddha maya (corresponding to
and instinctive
Column two gives a more the Maharloka); and ashuddha maya
2. bhuVarloka, “plane of (odic-astral)

detailed division in 14 planes and 14–16) anta˙kara∫a: mental faculties (corresponding to the mid-astral,
atmosphere,” svâdhish†hâna sheath
correlates these to the chakras, chakra — PitÂiloka, lower astral and physical planes).

17–21) jñânendriyas: organs of perception

the force centers of consciousness “world of ancestors” Column five lists the three bodies of
loWer astral

resident within each soul. It shows the soul: causal, subtle and physical
22–26) karmendriyas: organs of action
three levels in the third world, PRetaloka, “world of 1. nIVÂIttIkalÅ:jâgrat chitta, saµskâra PrÅıamaya koÍa (which correspond directly to the

corresponding to the sahasrara, the departed,” of earth- chitta and vâsanâ chitta—the conscious, the “sheath of vitality” three worlds); and the five sheaths
27–31) tanmâtras: elements of perception
ajna and vishuddha chakras; and bound souls. the astral subconscious and subsubconscious mind, which enlivens the (anandamaya, vijnanamaya, mano-
three levels of the second world, duplicate of Bhûloka. the interrelated magnetic forces between physical body maya, pranamaya and annamaya).
32–36) âkâßa tattva (ether), vâyu tattva (air),
or astral plane, corresponding to people, people and their possessions Note the correlation of these and the
the anahata, manipura and svad- tejas tattva (fire), âpas tattva (water), worlds by reading across the chart to
1. bhËloka, “earth plane,” sthËla ÍarÈra, “gross body,” or
hishthana chakras. Note that the the left to the two columns named

fIrst World mûlâdhâra chakra annamaya koÍa, “food-made sheath”

grossest of these planes, the Bhu- p®ithivî tattva (earth) “3 worlds” and “14 planes.” For more
bhûloka —the physical body or odic body
varloka or Pitriloka, has a second- details on the subjects and terms in
ary realm, called the Pretakoka, the chart, you can search for defini-
where abide earth-bound astral tions at: www.himalayanacademy.
entities. The first world, or Bhuloka, com/resources/lexicon/
narakaloka (7 hellish planes of lower consciousness):

netherworld: -1) Put (atala chakra), -2) avîchi (vitala chakra), -3)Saµhâta (sutala
naraka chakra), -4) tâmisra (talâtala chakra), -5) Âijîsha (rasâtala chakra), 
-6) ku∂mala (mahâtala chakra), -7) kâkola (pâtâla chakra)

52 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 53

A place of inspiration: Painting intricate

designs on a homemade canvas (left) or leaving
terracotta figurines to dry in the warm sun,
artists are found everywhere in Raghurajpur

a l l p h o t o s : p r a s a n na k u m a r
astrologers and the artists, or he would work to shake off the sleepiness awards nationally, and he received the Na­
chitrakars. Even today these of their artistic souls. Mopatra devoted his tional Honor in Arts in 1965. Because of his
sets of instructions survive life to it, becoming a spokesperson for their relentless efforts, the artists’ village once
here, etched in dusty stacks arts in the world. He created a Gurukula again became a place where traditional arts
of palm leaves, stored in the Ashram, or training center, to train students flourish.
house of a famous astrologer to become chitrakars. He traveled to Rus­ Today, an artists’ community and cooper­

Living, Painting, Worshiping Art

called Banamber Nayak. His knowledge is sia, Japan and Indonesia, exhibiting works ative society organizes the production and
still sought, and to this day he trains people from Raghurajpur. Four of his pupils won creates the necessary infrastructure. Since
in some of the ancient ways of the kingdom this small settlement became a National
of Puri. Crafts Village, funds from the government
Such a powerful heritage is fuel for the and revenues from sales began to come. A
This village’s only activity is producing precious devotional marvels artistry of the villagers of this serene place,
where women worship on kolams drawn
charitable initiative from the government
of distant Norway has been creating work­
on the streets, children draw sitting on the shops for artisans in various parts of Orissa.
doorsteps of the houses and a gentle breath The state government is funding basic im­
By Dr. M. P. Mohanty, Orissa, India turesque ponds. In the middle of the street, proud of his art and of the detailed, ritual­ of creativity is felt in the air. But tradition provements on roads, sanitation and potable
ndia is a land of marvels.
marvels when five old temples show that here worship is istic techniques that have been passed from alone was not enough to keep Raghurajpur water. In a very simple way, using humble
traveling the dusty, bumpy, sinuous the center of people’s lives, their inspiration father to son for generations. In this village, alive: fifty years ago, it was all very different. buildings and modest planning, the commu­
roads of the countryside, one can and passion. every single family is involved in producing As with many other aspects of Indian nity has established a crafts center, a library
expect the unexpected: a ragged Raghurajpur is recognized as a National some form of art. culture, the artists’ village had been victim that also functions as a documentation fa­
saint with realizations too deep to Crafts Village by the state of Orissa, a title Scholars claim that the origins of Raghu­ to the conflict between the rajas and the cility, a theater and even a visitor’s center
fathom; a humble musician with tal tal­ given to the few places where traditional rajpur can be traced back to the twelfth British rule. As the power of kings declined with a restaurant. Much of what is produced
ent and skills far beyond his simple methods and designs have not been overrun century, when the vast Jagannath temple and religion stopped being an affair of the is sold by a cooperative society created for
self; or even, perhaps, a village made by modern production techniques and the was built not far away. Following the tradi­ state, communities like Raghurajpur were marketing it, making commerce possible in
up entirely of artists, where every home is demands of tourist trade. For centuries, Ra­ tion of many Indian kingdoms, everything orphaned, losing their very purpose for ways that would be beyond the reach or the
decorated with intricate wall paintings and ghurajpur has been home to artisans and art­ revolved around the king and the temples. existence. Even though Puri still had (and knowledge of Raghurajpur’s artists. Tour­
people of all ages are versed in crafts almost ists who supplied the kingdom of Puri with In those days a monarch would build mag­ has) its own king, still holding a ceremonial ism is now a part of life, even though this
forgotten in time. art—from special adornments for people’s nificent temples to the Gods as a symbol of post, the ways of the past had changed, and is still a very idyllic place. The elders have
In the state of Orissa, not far from the homes to the high honor of decorating the his power and as a way of bringing bless­ the artists were not ready to adapt. Slowly expressed concern that income from tourist
capital, lies Raghurajpur, a small village murtis of Lord Jagannath and his siblings ings and prosperity. For Jagannath temple, the village went to agriculture for survival, sales might spoil the youth, who might be
by the sacred Bhargabi river. A betel grove for the amazing procession of their famous, old instructions list 36 communities, niyo- and the cause seemed to be lost. Then, in Master craftsman: Mukunda Maharana’s more interested in the money than in the re­
and coconut trees adorn its single road, the immense chariots. With such noble artistic gis, that are necessary for the temple and the 1950s, a remarkable son of the land, son and grandson follow his steps in all but ligious aspects of the sacred art. But the five
heart of the village, dotted by several pic­ heritage, every inhabitant of Raghurajpur is the royal court: metal workers, weavers, Jagannath Mopatra (1919–1988), decided his love for ganjapa matches temples of the Raghurajpur are very much

54 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 55
a l l p h o t o s : p r a s a n na k u m a r

It runs in the families: Talent flows in the

genes of the village’s 120 families. (clock-
wise from left) A patti cloth depicting a
ancient story; unfinished murtis of the
traditional smiling form of Lord Jagannath;
a painting class; patti on dried coconuts; a
card of the fabled ganjapa game
alive, including one for Gramadevati, the as if to duplicate, in the world of art and all over the subcontinent. There was an
village patron Deity; and in them the sound creativity, what is happening in the lives of exchange of art between these newly con­ ing exchange of cultures is displayed in full
of bells and incense smells of daily worship the chitrakars. Horoscopes and protective verted Buddhist artists in India and estab­ glory in the arts of Raghurajpur.
show no sign of religious indifference. mandalas are also common. The absolute lished communities in places like Bhutan
favorite, though, is a patti cloth painting of and Mongolia, where the doctrine was more The Fading Ganjapa Game
Beyond Simple Art Lord Ganesha, hung on the front door of ev­ settled and Buddhism thrives until today. Mukunda Maharana, 83, is the village el­
The art produced in Raghurajpur has a ery house in the village, giving out blessings Patterns, forms and mandalas went back der of Raghurajpur. When he was a young
steady clientele, especially in the artistically to everyone. The painting acts as a murti, and forth, and over the course of hundreds boy, he learned patti painting from his fa­
oriented state of Orissa. Local handicrafts receiving vibhuti and sandalwood offerings of years the art practiced by simple peo­ ther, Gopinath, who insisted that the fam­
are famous internationally for the antiquity applied by the families. “Lord Ganesha is ple—these artisans’ ancestors—influenced ily legacy should survive, no matter what.
of their style, the precision of details, the very popular. He is the destroyer of all ob­ and changed art in such faraway places Those were difficult days for art, before the
skill necessary to make them and the reli­ stacles,” explains Jayakrushna Das, one of as far as Burma, Thailand and Indonesia, spark had been rekindled by Mukunda’s
gion and spirituality that inspires them. The the few stone carvers in Raghurajpur. where that influence can still be seen. But uncle, Jagannath Maharana, who would
patti painting style is an example. “The phi­ The inhabitants of Raghurajpur see their in India itself, as Buddhist art and teachings later make their work internationally ad­
losophy and the themes of patti paintings has art as something eternal, and take great pride came into contact with the simple ways of mired and acclaimed in festivals and exhib­
not changed,” according to Lingaraj Maha­ in this. “Why should it die?” asks Jayakrush­ village people, something interesting started its. But Mukunda learned it even so, in the
rana, one of the most respected artists of the na Swain, a artisan of talapatra kodhei, palm­ to happen. The accepting and all­embrac­ most traditional ways, and was initiated into
village, whose family has been painting for leaf engravings, like his father and grandfa­ ing traits of Hinduism began to change the the chitrakar’s ritualistic procedures and
generations. “We paint just religious themes, ther before him. “As long as God, temples Buddhist religion: Hindu Gods and stories techniques. Among those ancient teachings
Gods and Godesses only. We do this with and faith are alive, the tradition will con­ re­arose in the paintings and the sculp­ that were imparted to him, knowledge that
all sincerity and devotion. This is a sacred tinue. We are but humble servants of God.” tures—side by side with Buddhist bodhisat­ he can today teach to others in the village,
service. We purify ourselves in many ways Though the styles and themes have tvas at first. Yoga, pranayama and many there was a very unusual one: the knowl­
before painting. We fast and worship. Only stayed the same for as long as the Hindu concepts became part of edge of how to play the game of ganjapa.
then one can paint the eyes of the Divinities: village memory can recall, the teachings, in a merger that The beautifully drawn, circular ganjapa
the eyes are the life, jivanyas, of the icons.” scholars see traces of a fas­
fas later be known as Vajrayana cards are sought as desirable pieces of art.
The protocol and devotion involved in cinating history weaved Buddhism. Even the Bud­Bud Exotic, hand­made and unique, they make
these works make them special items, used in these works. Many dha came to be thought a fine souvenir for tourists or for export.
in specific religious ceremonies. During a centuries ago, until 800 as a manifestation, or The cards have paintings of Gods—Rama,
marriage, a special painting is made, a por­ ce, Buddhism was in a avatar, of Vishnu. Over Ganesha, Sarasvati, a North­Indian style
trait of the families with the couple, bring­ crescendo in its expan­ time, Hinduism fully depiction of Siva with a mustache—and of
ing blessings and celebrating the new union sion throughout India. embraced and absorbed their divine mounts; painting of kings and
in a work of art. In such ceremonies, even Fueled by the conver­ Indian Buddhism until courtiers, of Puranic characters and heroes.
traditional items like banana leaves and the sion of King Ashoka, its there was nothing left but The game was mentioned in the memoirs
kumbha have also their individual paintings, influence slowly spread Hinduism. This enrich­
enrich of Emperor Babur, the first ruler of the Mo­

56 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 57
a l l p h o t o s : p r a s a n na k u m a r

ghul empire of India, in 1527. The complex Life in many colors: (clockwise from far ings can hide or show unexpected images be the center of everyone’s attention, the
rules demand knowledge of religion, culture left) Paramanand Biswal carves the palm that are often a surprise to the uninitiated. focus of everyone’s eyes, until the curtain fi­
and folklore. Card sets can have 46, 96, 120 leaves to the right; village women worship nally opens at the height of the festival amid
or 144 cards, with specific ways of playing on the street during the holy month of Kart­ Patti Cloths for Lord Jagannath a uproar of devotional frenzy.
each, and the rules can also vary depend­ tika; the diligence of an apprentice; young The simple, unadorned, hand­woven cotton During the festival, home Deities are also
ing on how many colors were used to make Odissi dancers exemplify the blooming cul- cloth carried on the shoulders of the chitra- covered, using custom paintings ordered to
the card set. It is a game for the initiated tural life at the community theather kar will serve a noble purpose. Purchased exactly portray a family’s home shrine.
and the knowledgeable, which may soon in large quantities, it looks scant and raw as The colors on the patti style are true to
become extinct, its cards a mere relic. Only he takes it down Raghurajpur’s only road; these moments and traditions. Bright, flat
four people play it in Raghurajpur. rying on the family tradition, has become a but the man who holds it knows that soon primary colors and clean lines flare with in­
Even though some other people, mostly el­ master in patti paintings. His young grand­ a magical transformation will take place, as tensity and can be seen from far away. The
ders, play it around Orissa, each village has son, proud to carry on the wisdom of the age­old lore and skills taught by his ances­ canvas is specially made: a cotton cloth is
its own variations and house rules, and the art techniques, is becoming a skilled artisan. tors will transform it through his hands. This treated with a paste of tamarind seeds with
craft’s village is no exception. Like bridge or The elder is enthusiastic about the present humble fabric will soon become a beautiful powdered chalk and brushed delicately un­
whist, all four players are necessary for each and expects a beautiful future for his fam­ painting, a channel through which the Gods til it becomes a smooth, parchment­thick
game, and if they cannot come there are no ily and the chitrakars: “Our works used to will shine their blessings on people. surface. Natural paints are made using tra­
possible substitutes. be demanded only for temples and religious Patti paintings are the specialty and the ditional materials, such as ground conches
Preparing the cards is a time­consuming uses, but now many people want them. pride of Raghurajpur. It all began in ancient for white. But not all adhere to this strict
task. Artisans such as Mukunda create a Nowadays patti paintings have become times, with the worship of Lord Jagan­ code; in our changing times, the lure of
special glue made of tamarind seeds, used smaller, except for the big festival pieces, nath, a form of Vishnu whose name literally commerce and the availability of synthetic
to harden smooth, flat cloth. Pieces are then and are more refined.” But even though his means “Lord of the Universe.” The temple materials have seduced some chitrakars.
trimmed perfectly round and pasted togeth­ skill and knowledge are highly sought after, in nearby Puri is home to the original, gigan­ “The use of traditional colors has given
er to form the cards; a fine layer of liquid there is one piece of lore for which he has tic murtis of Lord Jagannath and his siblings way to synthetic paint,” confirms Lingaraj
chalk is applied to make them white. Only never found an interested pupil. Baladeva and Subhadra. Once a year, on the Maharana. “It is also acceptable to paint
then can the artist begin to paint the many “I play ganjapa cards,” says the vener­ full moon day of May­June, the Deities are on silk because it is easy to export.” Para­
traditional cards, using paints he makes able Mukunda. “I make the cards and paint paper. When the scribes, sponsored by cul­ most still use the old, proven natural dyes to taken in a ritual procession that lasts for fif­ manand Bismal, a more conservative artist,
himself with colorful minerals and herbs them. My hands are shaking, so I don’t do ture­loving kings, began to illustrate liter­ paint the Hindu Gods that adorn the works. teen days. Millions celebrate with fervor as disagrees. “Some of us have started using
and, in the case of black, burnt lamp wicks. much. After my death the game would not ary works, another form of art was created. Lord Siva is very common on these paintings, majestic chariots decorated by artists from pre­made materials, but you can see the
Each Deity has a special color that must be be played anymore.” Eventually, this became the craft of talapat- where he appears as the lord of yogis. Krish­ this and other villages take the Gods to a difference. Art lovers would not want them;
used in the decorations of his card, accord­ tra khodei, engraved illustrations on leaves na and his wives are also a common theme, special bathing platform where abhishekam they are not original.”
ing to the traditional rules, to aid identifica­ A Canvas of Palm Leaves sewn to form a long, larger piece of art. specially suited for the two­fold nature of an is performed. When the curtain closes as Divergent opinions signal the dynamism
tion. Since the card sets are hand­made, they Palm­leaf writing has been a way of pre­ The leaves can be folded in many ways, art where spirituality and sensuality often the priests attend to the murtis, it is none of Raghurajpur’s art today. The only real
all vary slightly; and their meaning could be serving Indian culture for thousands of creating a canvas, a small book or often a blend. True to the tradition of Orissa, where other than a colossal, ornate patti cloth certainties are the artists’ wonderful talent
lost if not for this standard coloring system. years. The richness of Hindu philosophy combination of both. Any renowned jyotish traces of Tibetan and Buddhist influence in­ made by the people of Raghurajpur that and deep­rooted devotion. “We are gifted
Lord Rama, for example, is always painted and religion has produced uncountable (astrologer) in Orissa will only draw a horo­ tertwine Hindu themes, the palm leaves are gives the Gods some privacy. by the Lord to perform this service,” says
in green against a red background. manuscripts, meticulously re­copied by cal­ scope on a hand­sewn spread of these leaves. often decorated with mandalas surrounding For days, devotees attending will see and Kailash Maharana. Indeed they are. ∏π
Mukunda Maharana has given to the vil­ ligraphers every few centuries to preserve Each drawing is made using a very sharp, scenes from the Puranas, Itihasas and even pray to Jagannath gazing at His image paint­ raghurajpur’s handicrafts are distributed by:
lage much of what he could share, teaching their lore. In many South Asian languages pointed stylus on a dry leaf. Recently some the Kama Sutra. In the beautiful leaves ed on this patti cloth curtain, with increas­ utkalika store, state handicrafts museum
eastern tower, market building, ashok nagar,
the chitrakar craft. His son, Lingaraj, car­ the word for palm leaf is synonymous with artists begun using synthetic colors, but of talapattra khodei, the different fold­ ing fervor as expectations build up. It will unit ii, bhubaneswar, orissa, india

58 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 59
“As friends, the upper castes treat me
fine. When we are together in a religious
space, we see their true colors.”
term did not receive the welcome “the families won’t eat with them or per-
he had expected. “Gandhiji sepa- form religious ceremonies with them. I’ve
rated us when he called us Hari- even seen them put up a string which they
jans,” explained neighbor Mohan cannot cross. They know better, and on an
Ram. Kishori’s father and her individual level, they won’t feel discrimina-
grandfather nodded in agreement. tion, but at a social level, they will.” Kishori
Another grouping, ranked spoke up to reinforce this point: “As friends,
slightly higher by the British, was the upper castes treat me fine. When we are
called “Other Backward Castes,” together in a religious space, we see their
or OBCs. Although both were true colors.”
derided equally by the still higher Bhagwati Uncle’s two sons entered the
castes, the OBCs were determined room, bowing to their relatives and my fa-

ramdas lamb
to maintain their traditional social ther with a polite smile and touching the
superiority over the SCs, based feet of my mother, Kishori and me. I looked
solely on their higher ranking in inquisitively about for someone to explain
the 1935 act, Dadaji explained. He what was going on. “We touch the feet of
Pen pals: Ramya Gopal and Kishori met for the first mused, “OBCs eat meat and drink the niece and nephew as respect for Kaus-
time in Bilasur after corresponding for two years alcohol, while we are pure vegetar- lya and Ram,” Monu helpfully clarified with
ians, but are still considered lower.” a smile. “All castes except brahmins do this,
penings, exchanging our thoughts on cul- Dadaji is a friendly, bespectacled grand- but especially us since we are Satnamis.”
tural novelties. Her letters were always very father who speaks patiently, as if he has Satnami is a sect of Hinduism, found mostly
ramdas lamb

sweet. Within a few months we became come to terms with his life. “In my time,” in the scheduled caste areas of Chattisgarh,
close friends, and I began to call her “my he began, “there was much discrimination. which was founded by the Ram bhaktar,
sister.” Although she continually invited me I stayed in a hostel in college. We SCs were Guru Ghasidas (
to visit her in Chattisgarh, time had not per- forced to sleep and eat separately from all Guru_Ghasidas). “Ramya didi (sister), deep
Bilaspur friends: Ramya, in yellow blouse, with the Bhatpare clan and friends—pen-pal Kishore is in purple, left of her father, Gajanan mitted me to accept her invitation until now. the other castes. Even when we were work- down I wonder why I should be considered
“Kishori! Kishori!” her mother called sev- ing, we would sit separately from them be- lower than others. It’s not something I’m
YOUTH eral times. A few minutes passed, then a cause we had grown to be scared of them. happy with,” he said with a pained expres-

My Encounter with Caste

young woman briskly walked out with her The officers would look at me as if I were sion. “But I’m happy to be a Satnami.”
head bowed shyly and came to sit on the cot beneath them. Even today, all the houses in Sonu agreed with his brother’s senti-
beside me. There was an awkward silence, each area of the village are for people be- ments. “Indirectly, discrimination happens.
followed by a melee medley of Hindi and longing to the same caste.” He pointed to the The minute they find out that we might be
English, and then silence again. “Kishori, I fork in the road that separated the houses of reservation students, their attitude changes
am so happy to see you,” I started in English. the SCs from the houses of the OBCs. completely. When someone asks me if I am
An American-born brahmin girl, 17, meets her “untouchable” pen pal She smiled and nodded. I said, “How are Kishori’s father, Professor Gajanan Bhat- an untouchable, I feel very sad. Papa feels
you? How do you like school?” I asked many pare, explained that Kishori wasn’t always sad, too.”
questions, not knowing where to begin. spared the whiplash of discrimination. “She “We try to do things for our people, but it’s
B y R amya G opal , T Roy , m ichiGan mother sought to dispel my naiveté by tak- me. They were shortly introduced as my Kishori explained—in Hindi, again trans- usually receives very good grades. But her not enough,” Bhagwati Uncle told us sadly.
y head bobbed on my mother’s ing me to the heart of a country that some- friend’s grandfather, her father and their lated into English by my mother—that she schoolmates sometimes become jealous that “It really hurts. Sometimes, we just want to
shoulder as our car rattled down times still follows regressive discriminatory neighbor. A homely woman rushed out from was in the second year of college, but she she is from a lower caste, yet she gets higher run away from here.” Professor Ramdas
the street. The pavement steadily practices based on caste. What began as a a room and hugged me tightly as if I was had spent most of the first year of college scores than they do. The upper caste stu- Lamb commented with a worn expression,
worsened the farther away we written correspondence between me and a her favorite niece. “Kishori will be here in at home. “I learned better studying at home. dents taunt her behind her back, but they “This isn’t going to change for another few
drove from Bilaspur, in Chattisgurh State girl of the “untouchable” caste escalated un- a minute,” she said in Hindi, translated by The teachers hardly taught us anything,” she keep their jealousy inside more, because generations.”
in middle India. Our only competing traf- til a damp July morning when I found my- my mother, and went back into the room. I said. I learned that her favorite subject was we are a respectable, educated family. The These words, their story, was my intro-
fic were herds of cows. Two previous days self at the train platform in Bilaspur, waiting fidgeted with my glasses and managed a self- geography, that she was an English major upper castes pick more on other families.” duction to a turbulent world that had never
of riding in a train and very few hours of for a car to arrive. conscious smile. who had read the works of Keats and Ten- Kishori’s father is a professor of political converged with mine before. I was dumb-
sleep had worn me out. We were heading Although the sun had brightened consid- Kishori, age 19, and I had been pen pals nyson and studied in a government college science at her college; his brother, Bhag- founded. Caste discrimination is an idea
to a small village called Mathiya to visit a erably since four in the morning when we for almost two years, but had never met. predominantly for the Scheduled Castes. wati Uncle, is a geography teacher at a high that seems simplistically backwards, but
family who belonged to the group of people departed the station, the skies were still We were introduced by Dr. Ramdas Lamb, Scheduled Caste (pronounced as “shed- school. the people of Mathiya, a microcosm of the
once called the “untouchable” caste. Since partially overcast with monsoon clouds. I professor of religion at the University of Ha- uled”) was a term resulting from the Brit- Professor Lamb arrived midway through larger SC communities, gave it reality and
being born into a brahmin family has little felt like I had lost my bearings when our waii. He’s an advisor to my mother’s Hindu ish government in The Government Act of the conversation, having come from Hawaii immediacy through the telling of their pain-
significance in America, I was brought up car eventually stopped in front of a house. reform organization, Navya Shastra, and 1935. It formally abolished untouchability to Bilaspur to teach as a visiting profes- ful stories. Although I realized that I could
blind to the idea that caste had any modern Bhagwati Uncle led the procession by en- has been associated with Kishori’s village and reclassified the lower-castes in lists, or sor. In this way he has been helping this never completely understand the trauma of
relevance. Although this helped broaden my tering through the doorway where several for many years. She would write letters in schedules, hence Scheduled Castes. Gandhi- village for the last thirty years. “Gajanan,” their experiences and the bleak despair of
perspectives in some ways (I never assumed people were standing just beyond. The only Hindi, which my mother would translate ji introduced the word Harijans (children of he started, “is the ideal teacher. Everyone the future, this encounter took me one step
that I could have greater privileges because light came from the open courtyard. I sat for me; I would write back in English, and God) to describe them, believing that the looks up to him and his family, and all the forward. ∏π
of my caste), it also made the idea of caste apprehensively on the bed, blinking at these someone would translate for her. We wrote connotation of the word was more uplift- students come to his house. The families ramya gopal, 17, is a freshman at
swarthmore college in pennsylvania.
discrimination incomprehensible to me. My unfamiliar faces who were smiling kindly at about our personal lives and day-to-day hap- ing than merely “Scheduled Caste;” but this trust Bhatpare Sir.” “Yet,” he continued,

60 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 61
AYURvEDA vitamins, and the omega-3 fatty acids.
What are the standard treatments  Hindu Posters from various sacred and religious scripture.
By the grace of Hanumanji, I have been able

Teenage Depression
for depression? Most people are treated to compile the storehouse of information
with counseling, or psychotherapy, which and knowledge of these websites into a col-
is talking about feelings with a trained o give an accurate lection of articles in this book.”
psychologist who can help one change the portrayal of the rich Hin- The result is a marvelous vol-
relationships, thoughts or behaviors that du cultural heritage, Hin
Hin- ume that guides readers through
are causing the depression. Your child du Swayamsevak Sangh the long and complicated details
Beware the causes and the drawbacks of standard may feel depressed because she thinks her USA created a popular exhibi- of Lord Hanuman’s life and rela-
life is bad. What if she is wrong? What if tion presenting Hindu dharma tionship with Lord Rama.
treatments for this unfortunately common ailment her future holds a lot more promise than and culture through a series of In 2004, Suneel Gomber estab-
she thinks? When someone is depressed, 30 posters (example at right), lished the Museum of Hanumat
they are in a rut, and they can’t see any- which have now been com- Sangrahalaya, “a vast collection
BY DR. vIRENDER SODHI thing positive. They need to talk to some- piled into Hindu Culture and of rare books, paintings, Deities
one who can help them get out of that Dharmic Traditions from India. and murals depicting Lord Ha-
our out of 100 teenagers become seriously rut. Young people should seek help from The posters illustrate the firm numan in various divine forms.”
depressed each year. Everybody feels sad now and then; parents or their school counselor. Parents BooKS roots of our ancient dharma The Visual Encyclopedia of Lord
but if they’re sad most of the time, and it’s causing prob- need to take a very active role by first rec- in the archeological past and show how Hanuman is a 247-page compilation of the

The Vedic
lems in school and with relationships with family and ognizing that their child is depressed and Hinduism’s lofty cosmological laws are find- many sketches, paintings and photographs
friends, they may be clinically depressed. then providing all the help they can. ing themselves accepted by some modern belonging to the Hanuman Museum. The
What is depression? Clinical depression is a serious illness
What Some people are helped with coun- astronomers and physicists. Hindu dharma, art is presented in brilliant full color when-
that can affect anybody, including teenagers. It can affect seling and medicine. Doctors routinely way of living and temple worship, the exhi- ever possible; a caption under each picture
their thoughts, feelings, behavior and overall health. Com-
mon symptoms are poor appetite, insomnia or excessive sleep
habits, hyperactivity or inactivity, loss of interest or pleasure
prescribe a number of different antide-
pressant medications. These differ in their
side effects and levels of effectiveness.
Wedding bition points out, have found a welcoming
home in America after influencing Cam-
bodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and various Ca-
details its origin. Whether you are a devotee
of Lord Hanuman or just love the Ramaya-
na and Indian art, these two books are great
in usual activities, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or self-re- The most common drugs prescribed today ribbean countries over the centuries. Yoga additions to your personal library.
proach, diminished ability to think or concentrate, and recur- for depression are the selective serotonin Understanding what it and ayurveda, once the privied province the world of lord hanuman by suneel gomber and
prashant gupta, 188 pages, rs 350. the visual ency-
rent thoughts of death or suicide. Intense bouts of depression reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including of ancient Hindu India, are now the rage
all means, step by step
clopedia of lord hanuman, suneel gomber, english
text by dr. n.s.r. sastry, hindi translation by dr.
that last for weeks at a time are called major depression. A less fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil) and throughout the West. Teachers and parents yogesh praveen, 247 pages, rs 695. both published by
severe form can linger at a low level for years. A third form is a sertraline (Zoloft). Other similar drugs are venlafaxine (Effexor), should bring this book to the attention of j.b. charitable trust (regd.), 14/1192, indira nagar,
lucknow 226 016, u.p., india.
depressive reaction to a specific life event, such as a death, divorce nefazodone (Serzone), clomipramine (Anafranil) and bupropion school curriculum directors. It is a creative
or other loss, when the adjustment to the loss takes longer than (Wellbutrin). All of these drugs correct decreased levels of specific By Tara Katir, Washington teaching tool to help counter the misinfor-
normal or is more severe than expected and interferes with the neurotransmitters in the blood that can cause or contribute to he ritual of circumambulating mation published in textbooks regarding In-
person’s daily activities. And there is another condition, bipolar
disorder (also called manic depressive illness), in which periods of
Do these drugs pose risks to children and teens? In 2003 the
the sacred fire binds a Hindu couple
together in a tradition that has been
dian religious practices and history.
hindu culture and dharmic traditions from india,
Hinduism for
publisher hss, usa, 121 hawthorne court, rockaway,
major depression alternate with periods of abnormally high mood British Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency banned the followed in India for thousands of years. nj 07866 (30 pages) $15.
and extreme bursts of unusual activity, called mania. pediatric use of all SSRIs except Prozac due to evidence from To sustain these customs outside India is Dr.
What causes depression? Depression can be the result of psy- clinical trials showing that children taking SSRIs were driven to A.V. Srinivasan’s stated intention in his new
chological as well as physiological factors. The predominant psy- acute emotional distress, leading some of them to become suicidal book, The Vedic Wedding: Origins, Tradi-
chological theory asserts that depression is the result of habitual and homicidal. In December, 2003, after reviewing 22 clinical tion and Practice (Periplus Line LLC, 268 ivekananda centre london
feelings of pessimism and hopelessness. The chief physiological trials showing that children using nine SSRIs were on average al- pages). Srinivasan explains, “The inspiration has published a new book by Seeta
theory points to imbalances of monoamine neurotransmitters such most twice as likely to become suicidal, senior US Food and Drug came from the young Indians in the United Lakhani, Primary Hinduism, as part
as serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Serotonin deficien- Administration epidemiologist Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder recom- States who sought my advice in the past of a series of textbooks (including
cy is the most common biochemical cause. mended a ban on pediatric use of the drugs. The FDA barred three decades and asked me to officiate at Hinduism for Schools for older children)
It is important to screen for the various simple, organic factors him from presenting his conclusions publicly and commissioned their weddings. I have been impressed by designed to ensure that Hinduism taught in
which are known to contribute to depression. These include nutri- researchers at Columbia University to re-examine the data. Their their genuine interest in understanding Ve- the West is “both comprehensive and com-
ent deficiency, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hypothyroidism findings were virtually the same. In September, 2004, the FDA dic wedding practices and philosophy.” prehensible.”
(low thyroid function) and drugs—not only prescription and illicit released a long-awaited analysis concluding that young patients Srinivasan’s book is a solution for contem- Utilizing appealing narratives and color-
drugs, but also alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, etc. Although it is un-
common to perform lab tests in the diagnosis of depression, I run a
taking antidepressants could be at increased risk for self-harm.
They directed manufacturers to add black-box warnings (the most
porary Hindu couples in the West who wish
to fully comprehend their marriage cere- Hanuman Twice! ful images to make Hinduism interesting
and exciting for the very young, this new
thorough blood and urine test for these factors to determine if any serious kind of warning) on doctor labeling to describe the in- mony. Chapters on the Hindu philosophy of book is designed for use by 6- to 13-year
of them is causing a chemical imbalance. creased risk of suicidality in young people being treated with anti- marriage, the origins of the ceremony in the olds (“key stages” 1 to 3 in the UK school
The brain requires a constant supply of blood sugar to function depressants. The label wording includes a reminder that Prozac is Vedas, Shastras, Grihya Sutras and popular uneel gomber, devotee of lord system). In simple language and informative
properly, so hypoglycemia must be avoided. Symptoms of hypo- currently the only medication approved to treat depression in chil- traditions and customs, provide good prepa- Hanuman and founder of J. B. Chari- illustrations, it presents easy-to-understand
glycemia can range from mild to severe and can include depres- dren and adolescents. The FDA also planned to develop a patient ration for understanding the ritualistic cer- table Trust, has compiled two lovely explanations of Hindu
sion, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, headache, blurred vision, mental medication guide to be given along with prescriptions. emony, which is covered in chapter four. In books on Lord Hanuman: The World beliefs and practices.
confusion, incoherent speech and convulsions. Several studies have Although increased risk of suicidal behavior in youth may be the addition, readers will find detailed instruc- of Lord Hanuman and The Visual Encyclo- A companion website,
shown that hypoglycemia is common in depressed individuals. Sim- worst side effect of antidepressant drugs, there are many others. tions for required accoutrements, music pedia of Lord Hanuman (J.B. Charitable www.hinduism.fsnet.
ply eliminating from the diet refined carbohydrates and caffeine, In my article in the coming October/November/December, 2007, selection, rehearsal, bridal attire and cos- Trust, 188 and 247 pages respectively). For, offers supporting
which can aggravate hypoglycemia, is sometimes sufficient treat- issue of Hinduism Today I will offer natural remedies from metics, special pujas done by the bride and The World of Lord Hanuman, Gomber col- resources for the books.
ment for those whose depression results from hypoglycemia. the ayurveda tradition that I have found to be effective in the groom and a bevy of additional ceremonies lected material from 51 websites devoted to hinduism for schools by
seeta lakhani, publisher
Food allergy is a causative factor in other cases of depression. treatment of depression. one may choose to include. There is even a Hanuman and compiled it into 31 articles. vivekananda centre london,
6 lea gardens, wembley,
Eliminating offending foods can bring about tremendous relief. practical section on homa fire safety. The Gomber states, “These sites, which are middlesex ha9 7s3, 133 pages,
A deficiency of any single nutrient can alter brain function and dr. virender sodhi holds an M.D. (Ayurveda) from India and a book is well researched and a welcome help. maintained by highly learned international £12. for uk and interna-
tional order from www.
lead to depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Particularly N.D. from Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine, USA. E-mail: the vedic wedding, origins, tradition and practice
by a.v. srinivasan, periplus line llc, p.o. box 56, east
scholars, provide a wonderful insight into in usa,
essential in this context are vitamin B12, folic acid and other B Web: glastonbury, ct 06025-0056, 2006. 268 pages. the references on Lord Hanuman drawn

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well­equipped 500­bed eye hospital, which ing out that skilled practitioners of Bharata­
treats 200 to 300 patients daily. The rural natyam and other traditional dance forms,
setting, overlooking a lush green expanse with their intense patterns of eye movement,
of paddy fields, provides the clean and have the lowest incidence of eye diseases.
serene atmosphere required for convales­ The ancient ayurvedic scriptures describe
cence. The hospital maintains its own cow the treatment of many illnesses for which
and goat dairy, as well as a large garden to “modern” medicine has found no remedies,
grow rare species of medicinal plants and such as retinitis pigmentosa. The Shalakya
other required herbs. It is equipped with Tantra, for instance, contains descriptions
a l l p h o t o s : v r i n d ava na m s . g o pa l a k r i s h na n

modern diagnostic tools, and maintains six of some 76 eye diseases, 28 ear diseases and
private cottages for the convenience of pa­ 31 nose diseases.
tients. All medicines and formulations used Dr. Namboothiri told Hinduism To-
in eye treatment are manufactured in their day, “Urdhwanga Chikita, or Shalakya
own certified factory under the supervision Tantra, is one of the eight branches of ay­
of Dr. Namboothiri according to the tradi­ urveda. It offers a detailed study of the eti­
tional formulas. ology, diagnosis, prognosis, prevention and
“We could provide this with the grace treatment of diseases affecting the organs
of our family Deity, Bhadrakali,” says Dr. in the head and neck—the ears, nose, eyes,
Namboothiri. throat, etc. Of the three main classic texts of
For Mr. N. P. Narayanan Namboothiri, ayurveda, Susrutha Samhitha provides the
chairman of Sreedhareeyam, it is not medi­ most profound knowledge on this branch of
cine alone that cures disease. Divine inter­ treatment. Acharya Susrutha was the great­
vention should always be sought. Therefore, est proponent of this science. He could be
all the drugs manufactured are taken to the hailed as the pioneer surgeon in medical
Treatment: Warmed oil, infused with the essence of medicinal plants, is poured in the eyes Deity at the temple in the hospital complex history who systematically and elaborately
to be blessed by the Goddess. When treat­ dealt with the anatomical structure of the
H E A LT H ment is begun, the patient is brought to the eye. The prognoses made by him on aveitis
entrance of the traditional home, where and glaucoma are regarded as exceptional.”

Curing Incurable Eyes the first dose of medicine is administered

in front of the sacred lamp after offering
prayers. Patients participate in this tradition
Dr. Sharat Menon, a professor from Tex­
as, USA, who has undergone treatment at
Sreedhareeyam, told Hinduism Today that
regardless of their different religious beliefs. based on his experience with other such in­
Kerala’s Sreedhareeyam eye hospital brings Many eye diseases are treated here, includ­
ing retinitis pigmentosa caused by diabetes.
stitutions in recent years, Sreedhareeyam is
unparalleled in the ayurvedic treatment of
Ayurveda’s wisdom to bear on eye diseases This disease is most often seen in children eye ailments.
born from blood­related parents, and West­ Another enthusiastic Sreedhareeyam pa­
ern allopathic medicine offers no treatment tient is Dr. James Lunney, an experienced
By Vrindavanam S. Gopalakrishnan dhareeyam. He has also served for three for it. Other conditions treated here include physician from Canada. He says, “ayurveda
rom all over india and far be- decades as the chief medical officer of the macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract is the ancient medical system of India which
yond her borders, people come to Kerala government’s state­owned ayurvedic and detached retina. Each is approached encompasses the healing of body, mind and
Sreedhareeyam Ayurvedic Eye Hos Hos­ hospital. His family, owners of a precious with a customized regimen of ayurvedic spirit.” This is accomplished through diet,
pital and Research Center in Kerala. collection of old medical manuscripts in­ medicines, eye exercises and diet. lifestyle and rejuvenation, along with the
Many come to cure ailments unhealed by scribed on ola leaves, have for four genera­ Attributing the ever­increasing incidence use of cleansing programs and medicinal
modern medicine, such as rheumatoid ar­ tions been ayurvedic physicians specializing of eye ailments among children to the fast herbs. Instead of focusing narrowly on the
thritis. But this hospital, set in the village of in treating eye disease. life, fast food and continuous viewing of patient’s current disorder, ayurvedic medi­
Kizhkombu, near the city of Kochi, is best The research­oriented approach of the television, Dr. N. P. P. Namboothiri said that cine targets the root cause of disease—not Healing and teaching: Above, mixing a hot oil infusion of medicinal herbs; below, left
known for treating diseases of the eye. present generation of the physicians, com­ absence of eye exercise is a major reason only treating the disorder itself but also to right, eye exercise class; Dr. N.P.P. Namboothiri, Managing Director and Chief
Dr. N. P. P. Namboothiri is the managing bined with the availability of modern fa­ for some of the ailments. He states that eye eliminating problems before they arise. Medical officer; Dr. Namboothiri reads ola leaf medical texts to students and staff; a
director and chief medical officer of Sree­ cilities, has culminated in the birth of this exercise is of paramount importance, point­ See ¬ child’s eye examination; grinding plant materials into pastes and powders

64 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / a u g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay   65
A rock-solid squad: The silpi team at the explained the drastic difference between
entrance of Iraivan Temple working on a typical temple project in India
and Kauai’s temple, “We credit Gurudeva,
work, added, “for this birth and perhaps the founder of the temple, for making the
many to come, they feel this is a unique and working experience be a spiritual experi-
wonderful opportunity.” ence. At other jobs, you arrive in the morn-
The tradition of carving in India is re- ing and work all day. If you make a mistake,
garded differently depending on what it is you are fired on the spot. Gurudeva felt that
one is carving. Temple carvers, silpis, hold this work should be peaceful and joyful.
a higher respect among Indian society than We begin each day with communal worship
craftsman who make tools or everyday and prayer. This unites us in our cause and
items. While three of Kauai’s visiting artists work, and the mood is carried throughout
came to the profession because their fathers the day. No matter what our individual be-
or grandfathers also did the work, the other liefs, we are united when it comes to this
three came to it on their own, out of interest project. Gurudeva insisted that we carve ev-
and desire. The training of the craft costs erything by hand in the tradition of Hindu
time and determination—it takes a mini- temples in India—this has greatly improved
mum of six years to begin a professional ca- our skills as silpis.”
reer as a carver. Working one’s way through The building of the temple begins on a
apprenticeship in tools and labor eventually large construction site in Bangalore, India,
allows the aspiring carver time to practice where the sthapati oversees many carvers
a l l p h o t o s h i n d u i s m t o d ay

on scraps lying about at the work site. Prac- who flesh out the pillars in rough form. As
ticing chipping away at solid stone is done each of the 3,000 pieces of stone is complet-
over lunch breaks and free time. Once the ed, it makes its journey by sea to Nawiliwili
apprentice feels he is able to make rough Harbor on Kauai and up to the Wailua prop-
forms, he approaches the construction co- erty to slowly be placed and then finished
ordinator out of his own volition to apply for by the resident artisans. The details that the
a position. Several years are spent learning carvers are fashioning are so intricate and
how to smooth surfaces and carve general expansive that it is difficult to fathom this
pictorial forms, yet the exquisite details of is all being done with rough chisels held by
Hindu temples are left only to the very ex- 12 hands.
SACr e D Cr A F T perienced master silpis. On monthly outings over the past 20
The temple structure is not erected simply months, the artisans have visited every

Kauai’s Stone Artisans

by standing pillars and stone to form several tourist site on the island—from the famous
chambers and entry ways. There is a sacred Waimea Canyon to the wild jungles of Na-
science that informs the architectural engi- pali Coast. But when asked what their fa-
neering of such a special space. vorite spot to visit is, they sheepishly said,
The temple architect, called a sthapati, is “Wal-Mart.” The spectacle of “having every-
An American reporter marvels at the meeting of a trained engineer and designer who is flu- thing from 100 stores in one single store is
skill and devotion in Iraivan Temple’s carving team ently versed in the sacred mathematical for-
mulas that are used to plan all temple struc-
fascinating to them.” Yoginathaswami said.
“We have also taken them for coffee at the
tures. One of the silpis said, “For every 100 Grand Hyatt and Princeville Hotel—this is Profile in carving: (left to right, top to
We at Hinduism Today were pleased when 2001, also founder of hinduism today), is silpis, there are only two sthapati in India.” something they could never arrange to do in bottom) M. Karupaiah with the stone
our local Kauai newspaper, “The Garden Is- responsible for having chosen the site of the While many silpis may aim toward one day their own country.” Tourist resorts are care- carver’s tools, A. Manikandan, A. Vella-
land,” took an interest in the Iraivan Temple monastery as well as envisioning the cultur- becoming a sthapati, the “sacred knowledge fully guarded in India and non-guests are isamy, S. Rajendran, side view of Iraivan
being constructed at our headquarters. It is al exchange that is now being carried out in of spiritual mathematics is dearly coveted,” not allowed on the premises. Temple in early 2007, S. Pandi, Kumar
the first Chola-style stone temple built out- order to build the permanent structure. said Yoginathaswami. The Iraivan Temple The two years the artists have spent work- Subban and V. Chellaiya. They bring a
side of India. On March 2, 2007, they ran Added together, the six artists working on in Wailua is constructed based on an 11- ing on Kauai seem short in the lifetime of wonderful religious spirit to their work,
this story of these remarkable craftsmen, the this place of worship have 98 years’ expe- foot, 7-1/4 inch pattern that was derived the structure they are building. The silpis worshipping in the Hindu way every
first of their clan to leave India and build a rience—several began as young as 13 years from calculations of astrological positioning, expressed their gratitude for the opportu- morning before beginning, and observ-
temple far from their home. old. This commission is called, by those in- the temple’s honored Deity, Siva, and the nity and experience, but the temple will last ing the annual Ayudha Puja festival
volved, a unique and honorable work, as it founding Gurudeva’s name. This spiritual far beyond the years of any current resident when workers, the work site and all tools
B y K eira K eita , K auai , H awaii is the first time that a Hindu temple is be- architectural calculation is meant to connect or worker. Chipping away at time is the task are blessed.
igh above an emerald green ing fabricated with the identical traditional the divine and the material. of these master craftsmen.
valley, dripping with tropical vines methods used in India over 1,000 years ago. “From their perspective, even after years Yoginathaswami recounted a story from a
and ancient trees, a gentle tapping The artisans work six days a week, for two of professional expertise, the silpis have the recent visitor: “After touring the construc-
of iron and stone fills sunlit hours. years, before returning to their home. When technical knowledge, but they lack the theo- tion site, the visitor remarked how we often
Six master stone carvers from Karakudi in asked if this time away is a terrible hardship, retical wisdom used in the actual design of look at great world monuments, temples and
Southern India are patiently carving the in- they say, “It is a typical aspect of the stone the space,” Yoginathaswami said. ancient structures and wonder what it was
tricate details on pillars of granite, one chip carver’s job to be away from home working The extensive meaning in each and every like when they were building them. This is
at a time. The gentle tapping of the iron and on a site for several months per year. In ad- aspect of the temple, pictorially defining a one we can all be witness to.” Long after the
stone is reflected in the hand-made monu- dition, we are so pleased to be working on complex theology, hints at the depth of how temple is finished, the echoes of the “chip,
ment that many would believe was carved this project in Kauai and we see it as a once- this structure is already a place of divinity chip, chip” of these silpi artisans will eter-
from deafening machines and electric tools. in-a-lifetime experience.” and worship. The visiting artists feel that nally be housed in the stone, and visitors
The founding guru of this temple, Satguru The translator for the Tamil-speaking arti- their experience working here has been from all over the world will marvel at who
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Gurudeva, 1927- sans, Yoginathaswami, who coordinates their “life-transforming and illuminating.” They could have done this, and how. ∏π

66 h i n d u i s m t o d ay j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 j u ly / au g u s t / s e p t e m b e r , 2 0 0 7 h i n d u i s m t o d ay 67

Earthen Building
Makes a Big Return
F orty percent of the world’s pop-
ulation live in earthen dwellings. the
most enduring earth building, egypt’s ado-
be Ramasseum, still stands (though dam-
aged) after 3,300 years. in china’s Fujian
Province there are 30,000 earth buildings, rick e. martin, mct

c o u r t e s y, w w w. e a r t h - au r o v i l l e . c o m
dating mostly from the Ming (1368-1644)
and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. india’s
oldest earthen building, the tabo Mon-
astery in spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh,
built in 996, is still in use, having withstood
Himalayan winters for a thousand years.
With the 20th century came the use Earth dwellings, ancient and new: clo­ckwise, Auro­-
of concrete, steel, treated lumber and all ville Dhyanalinga Meditatio­n Center do­me when
manner of synthetic materials, with seri- under co­nstructio­n; the finished do­me; 9th century
ous consequences. our rapacious thirst for Tabo­ Mo­nastery; 13th century Chuxi circular
lumber is stripping forests. And for every co­mmunity dwellings, China; 4-sto­ry Vikas Apart-
ton of concrete we produce, we generate ments, Auro­ville; ramming earth wall co­rners in
one ton of greenhouse gas emissions. More India; mo­dern ho­me in Palo­ Alto­, Califo­rnia
pollution is caused by the need to transport
these materials and to heat and air-condi- able economy and pays for itself over time. “mud hut” notions. People are
tion the poorly designed buildings. Fur- Want to know more? the best starting building exquisitely beautiful
thermore, many modern building materials place is Here homes as well as huge struc-
continuously outgas toxic chemicals into is a wealth of history, international links tures that will last a millennia
the home or workplace for the inhabitants and marvelous photos. you can find out all and withstand hurricanes and
to breathe. concerned builders are go- about soil classifications, dry or solid, hu- earthquakes long after modern
ing “green” and turning back to the oldest mid, plastic, liquid and the 12 different ba- buildings have turned to rubble.
building material: earth. sic earth building methods, such as earth Google “earth builders” to
imagine a healthy home, heated by the dug out, cut blocks, rammed earth, poured find builders in your area, and
sun, cool in the summer without the noise earth, stacked earth, “cob,” adobe and its see,
of loud furnaces and air-conditioners. such modern descendent, compressed earth
a home supports a non-polluting, sustain- blocks. Be ready to toss out preconceived and

cess to the wealth of Hin-

Window on Our du scriptural literature.

With 300 links to english
translations of scriptures
Ocean of Hymns on the home page itself
at, you

C elextel’s online spiritual

Library, based in chennai, is a re-
freshingly simple site. it contains no clutter,
have instant access to the
Bhagavad Gita, Brahma
Sutras, 108 Upanishads, 45 works by Adi and articles. it is a simple but huge treasure
no advertisements—nothing to detract from sankara, various Vedanta works, ashto­ttaras chest, all in a single location and all in ex-
its one purpose: to provide unfettered ac- to various Deities and a few Vedic hymns cellent, readable modern english.
JaNuary to marcH eNdowme Nt coNtributio Ns

Kauai Aadheenam Monastic Endowment K. Lakshmi Kantha Reddy 245.00 Thank You Bodhinatha Fund Total 119.00
Ishani Chowdhury 121.00 Niraj Thaker 25.25 Hotranatha Ajaya 11.00
Gunasekaran Kandasamy 339.27 Vayudeva Varadan 72.00 Asha Chaku 1,000.00 Yogaswami Hindu Girls’ Home

New FuNd eNsures spiritual Future oF usa temple Sheela Rahavendran

K. Lakshmi Kantha Reddy
Other Donations
Amarnath & Latha Devarmanai
Trond Liland
of Sittandy Endowment
Anonymous 7.00
Darmaguhan Satgunasingam 50.00 Kamalasundri Ashoka Natarajan 57.84 Nikole Castillo 20.00
Other Donations 47,720.50 Tirunavukkarasu Nayanar Gurukulam Manoharan Navaratnarajah 150.00 Maruthu Pandian Darmalingam 27.50
Devotees of the Murugan Temple in Lanham, Maryland have enlisted the services of the Hindu Total 48,517.77 Rajkumar Alagesan 75.00 Sheela Rahavendran 101.00 Lila Shakti Devi 85.00
Muthu Kumar 39.00 Alex Ruberto 30.00 Prasad Krishnan 1.50
Heritage Endowment to ensure the ceremonial and spiritual future of their temple. Pooling their Iraivan Temple Endowment Trond Liland 20.00 Pathmini Saravanapavan 25.00 Muthu Kumar 71.00
contributions, they created the Murugan Temple of North America Puja Fund, (fund #70.) “Some Roger & Rosemary Brown
Chris Gendron
Ananthakumar Renganathan
Niraj Thaker
Jeremiah Umakanthan
Kapil Mhaiskar
Krish & Devika Muruga
of us want to support the temple even after we leave this world,” said temple board member Dr. Victoria Lynne Johnson 33.00 Vayudeva Varadan 84.00 Natraj Narayanswami 110.00
Muthu Kumar 20.00 Sri Subramuniya Kottam Fund Total 1,930.59 Ananthakumar Renganathan 50.00
Nigel Subramaniam Siva. “We’re initially aiming to build the fund to $300,000.” At five percent, Trond Liland 85.00 Muthu Kumar 14.00 Jutikadevi Sivaraja 216.00
S.V. Ravi Rahavendran 1,503.00 Saivite Hindu Scriptural Fund Kimberly Wyckham 6.00
he estimates the fund would provide $15,000 annually for puja supplies. As the fund grows, any Sheela Rahavendran 202.00 Malaysian Hindu Youth Education Trust for the Visually Impaired Karen Yang 1,008.00
income in excess of the supplies budget will be applied to priest salaries and benefits. Jnana Sivananda
Devananda Tandavan Estate
Muthu Kumar
Anbananthan Muniandy
Alex Ruberto 30.00 Silas H. Zirkle
Niraj Thaker 25.25 Total 265.00 Sri Chandra Madhab Debnath Endowment
“It’s very simple,” adds Atchuthan Sriskandarajah. Jeremiah Umakanthan 63.50 Shyamal Chandra Debnath 150.00 Siva Poomi School Trust
Padminidevi Umakanthan 200.00 Kumbhalavalai Ganesha Temple Endowment Muthu Kumar 20.00
“I thought that the fund should be created so that Other Donations 243,516.75 Manoharan Navaratnarajah 75.00 Murugan Temple Yalpanam Festival Fund
Total 734,120.94 Pathmini Saravanapavan 100.00 Yogaswami Hindu Boys’ Home Fund
we can further insure that the pujas are done well Malaysia Hindu Renaissance Fund Maruthu Pandian Darmalingam 27.50
for the community at large now and in the future.” Kauai Aadheenam Annual Archana Fund
Yatrika Ajaya 153.34
Muthu Kumar 44.00 Manitha Neyam Trust Fund
Bala Sivaceyon 22.45
Muthu Kumar
Kapil Mhaiskar
Gunavadee Caremben 1.50 Hinduism Today Production Fund Natraj Narayanswami 25.00
“My contribution to the Puja Fund is an expression Somasundaram Caremben 1.50 Muthu Kumar 4.00 Kerala Temple Trust Ananthakumar Renganathan 50.00
Sukanta Caremben 1.50 Dr. Shun Sunder 5,000.00 Ishani Chowdhury 125.00 Raj K. Sharma 201.00
of my devotion to Lord Muruga,” explained Dr. Victoria Lynne Johnson 11.00 Total 5,004.00 Prasad Krishnan 1.50 Dharmalingam Siddhan 150.00
Ken Kanagalingam, “It gives me great satisfaction Amooda Koothan
Saravan Koothan
1.50 Hindu Orphanage Endowment Fund
Total 126.50 Total 527.13

that our Puja Fund at HHE will help our children, Sakuntalai Krishnan
Kirtideva Peruman
Anil Anand Badhwar
Aparna Balakrishnan
Kapaleeshwara Temple Orphanage
Rajkumar Alagesan 25.00
Maha Ganapati Temple of
Arizona Endowment
born into a different culture and perspective, con- Niroshnee Peruman 8.99 Chris Gendron 135.00 Aparna Balakrishnan 10.00 Neville Bilimoria 2,000.00
Akileiswaran Samuthiran 10.75 Gunasekaran Kandasamy 339.27 Prasad Krishnan 1.50 Chowdary & Radhikadevi Koripella 2,000.00
tinue our cherished Hindu traditions. It ensures Jayasutha Samuthiran 15.82 Prasad Krishnan 1.50 Muthu Kumar 70.00 Total 4,000.00

Puja Fund Creators at Murugan Temple that the temple will receive the resources needed Janakan Saravanapavan
Sivan Saravanapavan
Muthu Kumar
Krishnakumar Manoharan
Auslin Mangal Lawrence
Jayanthi Vasudevan Naiker
200.00 India Hindu Tribals Endowment
to support the priests and their continued perfor- Devaladevi Sivaceyon
Nutanaya Sivaceyon
Kapil Mhaiskar
Natraj Narayanswami
Bharath Ramaswamy
Ishani Chowdhury
Kapil Mhaiskar
mance of daily temple rituals in an uninterrupted and proper manner.” Kanagasabai Loganathan Patudeva Sivaceyon 5.61 Bharath Ramaswamy 51.00 Bharath Ramaswamy 51.00
Hemavalli Sivalingam 1.73 Alex Ruberto 50.00 Manjung Hindu Sabha Orphanage Fund Total 188.63
co-created the Puja Fund at HHE to encourage the next generation to preserve their Hindu heri- Kantaruban Sivalingam 1.73 Rodney & Ilene Standen 30.00 Aparna Balakrishnan 10.00
Rohini Sivalingam 1.73 Niraj Thaker 25.25 Muthu Kumar 356.00 Murugan Temple of North
tage. “We asked our three adult children to contribute to the fund with us,” he said. “We wanted Potriyan Sivanathan 8.53 Raja Vishnu 125.00 Bharath Ramaswamy 51.00 America Puja Fund

to help them develop the habit of supporting the temple. We found the Puja Fund a safe, satisfy- Siven Veerasamy
Total 974.84 Simon Wesley
Venkatt Guhesan
Ken Kanagalingam
ing, sustainable vehicle by which we can support our temple. We hope we will be able to give to Hinduism Today Lifetime Subscription Fund
Hindu Education Endowment
Kapil Mhaiskar 12.62 Pazhassi Balamandiram Orphanage Fund
Saba Kulathungam
Nagulambikai Loganathan
the fund regularly.” Sujeet Akula 160.00 Hasu N. & Hansa H. Patel 100.00 Muthu Kumar 20.00 Pathmini Saravanapavan 1,100.00
Brian Breiling 240.00 Total 112.62 Tirunilayi S. Seshadri 101.00
“My late husband Arumukham Saravanapavan visited Kauai in 1982,” recalls Pathmini Sarava- Ravichandran Ceyon
Maruthu Pandian Darmalingam
220.00 Suntheram Family Trust Fund
Karnataka Temple Development Fund
Hiranya & Saraswathi Gowda 303.00
Nigel Subramaniam Siva
T. & Sundarakumari Sriskandarajah
napavan. “He told Gurudeva that our community wanted to build a temple, and Gurudeva sent Umaiyal Devasegayam Family
Anil D. Halappa
Suntheram Family Trust Fund 1,500.00
Swami Vipulananta Children’s
Atchuthan Sriskandarajah
Vayudeva Varadan
a Ganesha to our home in Bethesda, telling us, ‘Pray to him and slowly he will help you build a Carmel V. Hawn 525.00 Hindu Press International Endowment Fund Home Endowment Simon Wesley 1.00
David Jaffe 800.00 Hiranya & Saraswathi Gowda 63.00 Muthu Kumar 20.00 Total 7,106.00
temple.’ He said our temple would ‘last more than a thousand years.’ It gave me great joy to hear Isanah Kameni 28.56 David & Margaret Myers 100.00 Kapil Mhaiskar 12.62
T. Iswarah Kumar 35.50 Panna Nagarsenker 100.00 Total 32.62 Pooled Income Fund (PIF)
that. In my small way, I want to make sure this happens because of my love for Muruga and my Bose & Parvathi Mandava 1,001.00 Total 263.00 Savitri Palani 100.00
belief in Gurudeva’s words.” In 2003 Pathmini opened two Murugan Temple funds with HHE. Arundhati Mehta
Jaipal Panwar
800.00 Loving Ganesha Distribution Fund
Hindu Literature Fund
Hotranatha Ajaya 13.00
Mogan Ramasamy 652.00 Manoharan Navaratnarajah 75.00 Som Sharma 251.00 Total Contributions $830,202.65
Dr. Sabapathippillai Kulathungam feels the Puja Fund at HHE links his Murugan temple in Mary- Sothinathan Sabesan 160.00 Gassa Patten 1,500.00 Nigel Subramaniam Siva 600.00
Kulamani (Roselia) Simon 50.00 Total 1,575.00 Prabha S. Verma 5,001.00 Funds at Market Value, March 31, 2007
land with the Iraivan Temple in Kauai and, through it, with Hindu temples worldwide. “Like Rakesh Vaidyanathan 160.00 Total 5,865.00 Total Endowment Funds $8,585,126.00
many tributaries join to form a single river, all divisions of Hinduism merge within the single Total 6,137.04 Spiritual Park of Mauritius Endowment
Kapil Mhaiskar 12.62 Hinduism Today Complimentary
Total Pooled Income Funds $218,205.90

Iraivan,” he said. Temple trustee Vayudeva Varadan shared his hope for the future of the temple. Boys School for Iraivan Priesthood
Kapil Mhaiskar 12.63 Kauai Aadheenam Religious
Subscription Fund
Hiranya & Saraswathi Gowda 153.00 Grand Total $8,803,331.90
“I believe Murugan Temple’s priests and the pujas they deliver bring unique light and life to the Bala Sivaceyon 22.45 Art and Artifacts Fund Narendran Siddan 20.00
Total 35.08 Rajadeva Alahan 102.00 Total 173.00
temple. As the years pass, I expect the feeling to build and grow. Even now, people travel to our
Kauai Aadheenam Matavasi Medical Fund Murugan Temple Pillaiayar Shrine Fund Kauai Aadheenam Yagam Fund
Nallur Festival from all over the US and Canada. I suspect it is the same feeling that motivates Maruthu Pandian Darmalingam 27.50 Pathmini Saravanapavan 100.00 Victoria Lynne Johnson 11.00
thousands of people to walk barefoot for days to reach the great temples in India.” Gowri Nadason 101.94 K. Lakshmi Kantha Reddy 108.00

Dr. Siva hopes others will contribute to the Puja Fund both to ensure the temple’s future and MissiOn sTaTEMEnT: Hindu Heritage Endowment is a publicly supported, charitable organization rec-
to honor their loved ones as he has done for his parents. Siva, who holds a Doctorate in Water ognized as tax exempt by the IRS on April 22, 1994. Employer ID 99-0308924. Founded by Satguru Sivaya
Resources Engineering, credits his parents for much of his professional success, as well as his Subramuniyaswami, its philanthropic mission is to provide secure, professionally managed financial sup-
religious formation. Devotees purchased land for the temple in 1987. The temple was finished in port for institutions and religious leaders of all lineages of Sanatana Dharma.
1999, with Gurudeva attending the Kumbhabishekam. “My personal experiences at the Temple
have convinced me that the high spiritual presence of the divine is there,” Dr. Siva said. “I want PROFEssiOnaL adVisORs: Halbert, Hargrove/Russell, Investment Counsel; Alvin G. Buchignani, Esq.,
to make sure this divine presence continues to grow there so that others will benefit spiritually.” Legal Counsel; and Sonoda & Isara, LLP, CPA; Phil Murphy, Planned Giving Specialist. HHE is a member
Please visit the temple at