Kauai's Hindu Monastery
November 2017 Newsletter
In September, my publisher’s desk for the January issue of Hinduism Today magazine, “Five Suggestions for SBNRs,” received its final editing. SBNR (Spiritual But Not religious) is a strong tend in the USA, especially among youth. The article offers five suggestions to SBNRs who are seeking spiritual progress following the Hindu approach. This was the major topic of my September 30th webinar, in which I spoke on the impact of this trend on Hinduism and how Hindu education needs to include discussions of the Hindu view of spirituality and its relationship to religion. From October 15 to 18 we held our sixteenth annual Mahasamadhi observance, with many devotees coming from off-island, including some from distant England, Malaysia and Canada. Activities included the opening ceremony for the Temple Builders’ Pavilion—which displays life-size figures of Gurudeva and the sthapatis and silpis—and a grand parade of Gurudeva’s sandals out to Iraivan Temple with pujas at shrines along the way. On the final day, Kumar Gurukal performed a powerful homa and abhishekam to Gurudeva. Two days later Sannyasins Shanmuganathaswami and Siddhanathaswami and I left for a short trip to Southern California, Texas and North Carolina. The journey included five satsangs/keynote presentations in homes and temples. In North Carolina we attended morning puja at Somesvara Siva Temple, a 448-acre Vedic community in the Blue Ridge Mountains. General contributions for the two-month period of September and October totaled $181,259, which is more than our minimum two-month goal of $130,000. Special project contributions totaled an additional $745. We are grateful to our global family of temple builders for your continued and generous support. Om Namasivaya, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami.
Click here to see Bodhinatha's extended travel schedule. Bookmark the link and return for updates.
Founder of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Gurudeva), holds the Karma Award he received for his life’s work
Evil has no source, unless the source of evil’s seeming be ignorance itself. Still, it is good to fear unrighteousness. The ignorant complain, justify, fear and criticize “sinful deeds,” setting themselves apart as lofty puritans. When the outer, or lower, instinctive nature dominates, one is prone to anger, fear, greed, jealousy, hatred and backbiting. When the intellect is prominent, arrogance and analytical thinking preside. When the superconscious soul comes forth the refined qualities are born—compassion, insight, modesty and the others. The animal instincts of the young soul are strong. The intellect, yet to be developed, is nonexistent to control these strong instinctive impulses. When the intellect is developed, the instinctive nature subsides. When the soul unfolds and overshadows the well-developed intellect, this mental harness is loosened and removed. When we encounter wickedness in others, let us be compassionate, for truly there is no intrinsic evil. The Vedas say, “Mind is in deed the source of bondage and also the source of liberation. To be bound to things of this world: this is bondage. To be free from them: this is liberation.”
Explore Gurudeva's Wisdom
Following the formal inauguration of the Temple Builders’ Pavilion, conducted by Kumar Gurukal, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and attendees pose in front of Gurudeva’s bronze statue.
On October 25 Surabhi Bharadwaj dances for Siva in the main mandapam of Iraivan Temple, offering her art in the traditional way.
Top to bottom: Tiya Thielamay takes vows to become a Saivite Hindu and an Arul Sishya of Bodhinatha; Lord Murugan sends forth blessings following the Skanda Shashti puja; after morning homa during Mahasamadhi celebrations Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami carries Gurudeva’s holy sandals in procession from Kadavul Temple for a blessing inside the sanctum of Iraivan Temple; Sanjiva and Tiya Thielamay enjoy darshan with Satguru; devotees tour the new high-tech hydroponic greenhouse
Iraivan Temple Progress
The stone carvers in Bengaluru are trimming each of the six dozen finished perimeter wall pieces so that they fit together (almost) perfectly. To do this, the wall is temporarily assembled on the ground at the worksite. The final fitting will be done as the stones are installed in Hawaii. Here on Kauai the complicated process of procuring US visas for the team of six silpis is complete. This team will be coming from India early next year to assemble the final stones of the temple.
Satguru Bodhinatha’s Activities
In his weekly early morning talk to the monks and devotees, Satguru is focusing on the 68 lessons of Path to Siva. Each week he reads one lesson and adds his spiritual insights. This book, targeted at teenagers, is now being used for adult classes in Malaysia. His latest presentations include What Is Dharma? What Is Reincarnation? and How Do We Prepare for Death? He also recorded a new Publisher’s Desk editorial, entitled One God, Many Divinities, inspired by his recent visit to London. These talks can all be enjoyed on the Kauai’s Hindu Monastery YouTube channel.
Innersearch Sri Lanka Travel-Study Program
Rishi Thondunatha, a veteran of the church and dynamic Sivathondar, flew to the monastery in October for in-depth discussions with the monks on the upcoming Innersearches—2018 and 2019—to Sri Lanka. There are still several seats available for the February 2018 program, and many openings for 2019. See the Innersearch Travel-Study page (under the “Live Spiritually” tab) on our website.
Seven resident guests served at the monastery during the last two months helping with a variety of karma yoga projects. Easvan Param, a professional electrician from California, spent a week installing the electrical system in our new commercial kitchen being constructed to process and store the noni juice from our Himalayan Acres farm. Kanda Alahan, a professional cabinet maker, also from California, spent a week helping with the creation and installation of elegant redwood post-and-beam trim around the glass wall in the Media Studio. Roshan Sivayogam, Aravindraj Chandrasekaran and his 12-year-old son Jagatheeshwar flew from Malaysia for three weeks to attend Skanda Shasthi and Gurudeva’s 16th annual Mahasamadhi observances and to help with garden and landscaping projects. Adi Srikantha, from Utah, and Trey Defauw, from Iowa, are here for an extended stay to help the Siddhidata Kulam with landscaping duties and the Ganapati Kulam monks in the Media Studio. Thanks to them all for their invaluable service!
Publications and Other Activities
On October 15, the monks and devotees celebrated Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami’s 75th jayanti. Also in October, the Media Studio team compiled, wrote and edited the January-February-March issue of Hinduism Today magazine. Satguru’s book, A Character Building Workbook and Gurudeva’s Twelve Shum Meditations have been reprinted in Malaysia. The annual Digital Dharma Drive fund-raising appeal was announced on our website, appealing for funding for our various free websites and mobile apps. Thanks to everyone for generously supporting this vital initiative. Gurudeva’s writings continue to be translated into other languages. See www.hindouisme.org to read his works in French. Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Yogi Rajanatha undertook a five-week journey, flying coast to coast and up to Canada. They attended satsangs with devotees, visited Hindu organizations and met with creative people—playwrights, writers, artists and sculptors—who are helping us with various projects. At the satsang in Victoria, Canada, Paramacharya gave a presentation on how enlightened beings die that can be seen on our YouTube channel. Here on the monastery farm, the dairy herd continues to thrive, with Kali (6 months old) and Teta (19 months) becoming accomplished pasture-escape-artists.
(left) Toshadevi Nataraj, daughter Lily and daughter-in-law Bhavani greet the Aadheenam cows; three silpis build a protective crate for one of the many sculpted stones of Iraivan’s perimeter wall, preparing for containers to be shipped in December to Kauai.
(Below) On a retreat outing to Kokee: Natyam Jayanatha; Roshan, Trey, Jagatheeshwar, Siddhanathaswami, Aravindraj and Natyam Mayuranatha
Bodhinatha's Newest Teachings Online
Satguru Bodhinatha is now turning his 15-minute Keynote presentations into movies which can be used for our personal benefit or shared at a satsang of friends. See them here. Thanks to a vibrant team of transcribers we can hear Bodhinatha's recent talks and read the transcriptions here. Read the transcriptions on line. Click here for all of Bodhinatha's talks.
Bodhinatha's weekly talks can be heard on our website: His recent commentaries on the chapters in our new book 'The Path to Siva' are marvelous!
Click here for a complete index of both Bodhinatha's and Gurudeva's talks on line
Karma, Fate, Destiny
What is Dharma?
What is Reincarnation?
How Do We Prepare For Death?
Click here to see Bodhinatha's extended travel schedule. Bookmark the link and return for updates.
Follow our daily activities at Today at Kauai's Hindu Monastery (blog)
California’s New Textbooks
Portray Hinduism More Accurately
Major breakthrough for Hinduism in Schools: (above) Pearson's next textbook in Indian Civilizations for 6th and 7th grades gives a much more positive portrayal of Hinduism.
The monastery’s 24 years of engagement with the California textbook controversy explains how it ends up in our newsletter today. We were warned in 1993—when we first touched on the treatment of Hindu religion and the history of India in American schools—that it would take decades to change the books in a meaningful way. We didn’t believe it then, but we certainly do now, in 2017. Recently and remarkably, the State Board of Education adopted a set of significantly improved History-Social Science programs for California’s public schools. Up until now, India’s history and Hindu religious practice and belief could be summarized in a single word: caste. No other religion or culture covered in the schools was reduced to such a negative, one-dimensional portrayal.
Hindus tried to change this in 2005-2006 in the previous round of textbook adoption for California. Only minor improvements were made. The problems persisted and millions of sixth grade kids were still taught a degrading view of Hinduism. In 2008, the state set out to revise its History-Social Science Framework, the set of guidelines that state what should be covered in the textbooks and how. The process halted abruptly in 2009 due to budget issues, then resumed again in 2014 under the auspices of the Board’s Instructional Quality Commission. The revision was a years-long process involving more than a dozen difficult meetings at the Board of Education’s building in Sacramento. The monks flew to California to attend many of these.
At the beginning, Hinduism Today was one of the few Hindu bodies that sensed the vital importance of the Framework revision. Jumping in, we created an academic paper on the issues with the renowned historian of India, Dr. Shiva Bajpai. Our editors spoke to thousands of California Hindus at meetings arranged by the Chinmaya Mission, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu Education Foundation and BAPS Swaminarayan. By the last meetings of the IQC in early 2017, Hindus—parents and students alike—were attending and testifying by the hundreds. The collective input resulted in a greatly improved Framework.
Then came the crucial part of the process. Major publishers scrambled to revise their textbooks and web-based programs to encompass the revised Framework, which expanded on a wide range of topics, not just India. For example, it mandated fair coverage of LGBT people throughout history, and coverage of the Sikh religion was required for the first time.
Nine books and programs were submitted for the 6th and 7th grades that address India. Hindu organizations (the Hindu Education Foundation in particular) were able to work closely with two publishers, Pearson (above, thumbs up) and Teacher’s Curriculum Institute, yielding welcome improvements. Caste is discussed but is far from the sole focus. Crucial symbolic changes were incorporated, such as using a capital G to refer to our God, Gods, Goddess and Goddesses—all previously relegated to lower case for Hinduism. One text remains a disaster, that from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (left; thumbs down) who in 2006 held 30% of the California history-social science textbook market. It was rejected for a multitude of reasons by the Board at their final meeting on November 11, 2017, attended by more than 1,000 Hindus. All other programs were approved. We expect this costly rejection will be a heads up for all publishers. The next step is for individual school districts to adopt one or another of the approved teaching programs (they are also free to adopt others). These are set to be used in the 2018-2019 school year. Hindus will likely recommend that their local schools adopt either Pearson or TCI, which provide excellent coverage, not only of Hinduism but all religions, as well as LGBT history. California sets the pace for textbooks nationwide, so we expect similar improvements in other states in the years ahead.
Hindu Heritage Endowment
How a Will Can Keep Giving After You’re Gone
A will or living trust allows you to protect your loved ones long after your lifetime. These documents can also give you the power to provide the causes you care deeply about with the vital resources they need to thrive. Here are a few basics about using your will or trust to make a lasting connection to Hindu Heritage Endowment.
How to Make Your Gift
Including HHE in your will or trust is easy. Start by contacting us to request official wording for your gift or download the pdf file at www.hheonline.org/tool-kit.shtml. Then ask your estate planning attorney to use this language when you create your will or trust. If you already have a will or trust, simply ask your attorney to update the existing document.
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We’re Here to Help
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Strengthen your family’s future and continue your support of Hindu Heritage Endowment by downloading the pdf file at www.hheonline.org/tool-kit.shtml.
© The Stelter Company: The information in this publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.
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