HINDUISM AUSTRALIA

A Hindu Council of Australia Newsletter issue: April 2017

Om Shri Ganesaya Namah
It gives us great pleasure to bring this first issue of Hinduism Australia during the auspicious period of Chaitra Navratri. We worship for nine days various manifestations of the aadi Shakti “Durga maa” culminating into Ram Navami -appearance day of Bhagwan Sri Ramji embodiment of cosmic love, highest human ideals and supreme righteousness.
Hindu Dharmic and cultural values that we inherited from Rishis, Munis and our ancestors have played a great role in our lives. It is our duty to share and pass these spiritual values and traditions to the wider community and coming generations. The concept of cosmic consciousness, Vasudeva Kutambakam and setting up the main goal of human life to evolve from human consciousness to Holiness and then to Godliness is an integral part of Hindu Dharma. Our attempt to worship Bhagawan - God (Eternal Being – non-dual and also in various manifestations) and move towards Him is an ongoing evolving spiritual process. The goal of our life is to live as an upward ascent to God-experience. May Durga maa and the Eternal Reality Bhagwan Sita Ram ji’s Grace be upon all! We wish you a Blissful Ram Navami now and always! Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram!

Regards,

HCA Editorial Board

 

Editorial Policy ‎

The significance of Ganesha

Vedas refer to Ganesha as Gana Natha, the group leader. Vedic civilisation is based on mass cultivation and group living. A variety of rice known as ShaliPrasta was cultivated seasonally. The paddy saplings would be placed in a field to season. When seasoned it used to turn yellow in colour and this was known as Gaura Varna, referring to its colour. The group leader, Gana Natha, after prayers to all five elements, prithivi, vauyu, akasha, tejo, ap, would distribute the saplings to all groups based on their need and capability. Each group would replant their sapling. This is how concept of Gananatha or Ganesha came into existence.

Ganesha is also known as Shivas Son, an embodiment of auspiciousness. Ganesha has been described to have various roles in various yugas. He is creator in Sathya Yuga as called by Atharva rishi, Sustainer in Treta yuga, compiler of Mahabharatha in Dwapara yuga and remover of obstacles in present Kali yuga, as we know Him today.

As water is a significant resource for a civilisation based on cultivation the arrival of rain and rainy season is celebrated parallelly with measures taken for environmental and economic sustainability. Rain water brings with it fresh silt. This earth or clay was used to create murthy, offer prayers and oblations and be offered back to the water or river. This also serves as a means to cleanse the slit in water beds.

Symbolically Ganesha, has a big belly representing the fourteen universes, hiranya garbha, source of creation, good listener with a sharp vision and strength (tusk) to foresee and remove obstacles. The concept of holding one’s earlobes with both hand and squatting and standing-up a number of times was considered to plea to the Lord.  Considered to be an admonishing way for errant children it is now marketed as “super brain yoga”, a method to rejuvenate brain wellness.

Shubam Astu

Hindu Council of Australia (Victoria) organised multi-faith event

Melbourne 28th March. 

Hindu Council of Australia (Victoria) organised a multi-faith event on the occasion of Hindu New Year which commenced on 28th March 2017. This event was held on 2 Apr 2017 at the Brighton Town Hall.

The theme of the event was based on the New Year and representatives from different faiths were invited to speak about the concept and significance of the New Year they follow in their faith. It was an interesting forum where a lot of commonalities were found in this concept amongst all the faiths.

 

The keynote Hindu speaker was Dr Jayant Bapat, OAM, who is one of the oldest Hindu migrants in the recent times in Australia. Jayant Bapat comes from Maharashtra State in India and migrated to Australia in 1965. He holds doctorates in Organic Chemistry and in Social Anthropology. Dr Bapat retired as a Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at Monash University, Melbourne, in 1998.

Since then, he has been an ‘Adjunct Research Fellow’ at the Monash Asia Institute, Monash University to this date. His current research interests are Indology, Hinduism, Goddess cults, Jainism and sociology of religion. He has published research papers on temple priests, the fisher community of Mumbai and goddess cults and has contributed to Encyclopaedias of Anthropology, Sociology and Culture. He is the Co-Editor of The Iconic Female: Goddesses of India, Nepal and Tibet (Monash University Press, 2008 ) He is the Co-Author of The Indian Diaspora: 150 Years of Hindus and Sikhs in Australia (D.K. Printworld 2015).

 

After the keynote speech from Dr Bapat, various other faith representatives enlightened the audience with their views on the New Year.

After Dr Bapat , the next person to speak was Dr Helen Light. Dr Helen Light AM was inaugural Director of the Jewish Museum of Australia having worked there from 1983 – 2010. She now works as a consultant in museums, exhibitions and with collections, specifically with multicultural heritage and interfaith issues. Helen was President of Museums Australia (Victoria), an Executive Member of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV); and on the Boards of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association, the Faith Communities Council of Victoria and on the Advisory Boards for the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University. She is currently a Board Member of the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria and is on the Advisory Board for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Art Gallery. She is an honorary associate of Museum Victoria. She is currently president of the Jewish Christian Museum Association.

The Jewish talk was then followed by Susanne Haake, a representative of the Bahaii faith. Susanne was born in a Bahaii family and she is a Director of Academic Development at St Leonard’s College in Brighton.

The next one to speak was the Sikh faith and was represented by Mr Jasbir Singh Suropada from the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria. Jasbir is also a member of the Spiritual Health Victoria (SHV), Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV), Multi-faith Advisory Group Victorian Multicultural Commission (MAG), Casey, Cardinia and Dandenong Interfaith Network. He has participated in several interfaith forums sharing about the Sikh faith. He is also the Director of the Sikh Australian Support for Family Violence Inc. (SASFV) He works as a Senior Practitioner at Anglicare, Parentzone running group parenting programs.

The Sikh faith was followed by the Buddhist faith and the speaker was Peggy Page. Peggy is a retiree after having spent time working in the IT industry, Age care and Counselling and Psychotherapy she is a volunteer for the Buddhist Council of Victoria for 10 years having had roles of Special Religious Instructions convenor, President, secretary and is now the Interfaith convenor. Beside the BCV she is also volunteer for the Melbourne Thai Buddhist Temple.

After the Buddhist faith there were 3 Christian leaders to speak on behalf of their faith.

The first one was Rev Sharon Hollis. Rev Sharon Hollis was installed as the Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania in June 2016.  Sharon was ordained in 1994 and has served in congregational ministry in suburban Melbourne and as an adult educator developing and leading continuing education programs for ministers. Prior to ordination Sharon worked in public housing.

Sharon is a member of the Victorian Council of Churches Executive and a Fellow of Queen’s College, University of Melbourne

After Rev Sharon Hollis there was a brief talk by Bishop Paul Barker. Bishop Paul Barker is an Assistant Bishop for the south and eastern suburbs (Jumbunna Episcopate) of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Formerly he was the Senior Minister at Doncaster. For seven years he was based in Malaysia, teaching in Bible colleges through Asia and training preachers. He has been Adjunct Professor at South Asian Institute of Advanced Christian Studies in Bangalore, India, and was a faculty member at Malaysian Theological Seminary. His PhD was on the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

The faith talks were concluded by Rev Ian Smith of the Victorian Council of Churches. Ian has been in pastoral ministry with Churches of Christ for over 30 years. All of their ministries have been in the Northern and Western suburbs of Melbourne and Ian has thirty years of experience in cross-cultural dialogue and Inter-Faith collaboration. Since 1991 Ian has been a delegate for Churches of Christ to the Victorian Council of Churches. Holding a number of positions; Commission member, Commission chair, a member of the Executive, Vice President and served a term as President.

Many of the Buddhist and Sikh faith presentations showed a huge amount of similarity with the Hindu New Year and so did from the Jewish faith.

The event was very well anchored by Mr Jitarth Bharadwaj from SBS Melbourne.

Mr Chidambaram Srinivasan, Chairman of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, presented a summary of the event concluding the presentation of various speakers. The event was followed by vegetarian snacks kindly sponsored by ISKCON Melbourne.

 

 

Dharma Is Not The Same As Religion

Author: Rajiv Malhotra                

The word “dharma” has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These include: conduct, duty, right, justice, virtue, morality, religion, religious merit, good work according to a right or rule, etc. Many others meanings have been suggested, such as law or “torah” (in the Judaic sense), “logos” (Greek), “way” (Christian) and even ‘tao” (Chinese). None of these is entirely accurate and none conveys the full force of the term in Sanskrit. Dharma has no equivalent in the Western lexicon.

Dharma has the Sanskrit root dhri, which means “that which upholds” or “that without which nothing can stand” or “that which maintains the stability and harmony of the universe.” Dharma encompasses the natural, innate behavior of things, duty, law, ethics, virtue, etc. Every entity in the cosmos has its particular dharma — from the electron, which has the dharma to move in a certain manner, to the clouds, galaxies, plants, insects, and of course, man. Man’s understanding of the dharma of inanimate things is what we now call physics.

British colonialists endeavored to map Indian traditions onto their ideas of religion so as to be able to comprehend and govern their subjects; yet the notion of dharma remained elusive. The common translation into religion is misleading since, to most Westerners, a genuine religion must:

1) be based on a single canon of scripture given by God in a precisely defined historical event;
2) involve worship of the divine who is distinct from ourselves and the cosmos;
3) be governed by some human authority such as the church;
4) consist of formal members;
5) be presided over by an ordained clergyman; and
6) use a standard set of rituals.

But dharma is not limited to a particular creed or specific form of worship. To the Westerner, an “atheistic religion” would be a contradiction in terms, but in Buddhism, Jainism and Carvaka dharma, there is no place for God as conventionally defined. In some Hindu systems the exact status of God is debatable. Nor is there only a single standard deity, and one may worship one’s own ishta-devata, or chosen deity.

Dharma provides the principles for the harmonious fulfillment of all aspects of life, namely, the acquisition of wealth and power (artha), fulfillment of desires (kama), and liberation (moksha). Religion, then, is only one subset of dharma’s scope.

Religion applies only to human beings and not to the entire cosmos; there is no religion of electrons, monkeys, plants and galaxies, whereas all of them have their dharma even if they carry it out without intention.

Since the essence of humanity is divinity, it is possible for them to know their dharma through direct experience without any external intervention or recourse to history. In Western religions, the central law of the world and its peoples is singular and unified, and revealed and governed from above.

In dharmic traditions, the word a-dharma applies to humans who fail to perform righteously; it does not mean refusal to embrace a given set of propositions as a belief system or disobedience to a set of commandments or canons.

Dharma is also often translated as “law,” but to become a law, a set of rules has to be present which must: (i) be promulgated and decreed by an authority that enjoys political sovereignty over a given territory, (ii) be obligatory, (iii) be interpreted, adjudicated and enforced by courts, and (iv) carry penalties when it is breached. No such description of dharma is found within the traditions.

The Roman Emperor Constantine began the system of “canon laws,” which were determined and enforced by the Church. The ultimate source of Jewish law is the God of Israel. The Western religions agree that the laws of God must be obeyed just as if they were commandments from a sovereign. It is therefore critical that “false gods” be denounced and defeated, for they might issue illegitimate laws in order to undermine the “true laws.” If multiple deities were allowed, then there would be confusion as to which laws were true.

In contrast with this, there is no record of any sovereign promulgating the various dharma-shastras (texts of dharma for society) for any specific territory at any specific time, nor any claim that God revealed such “social laws,” or that they should be enforced by a ruler. None of the compilers of the famous texts of social dharma were appointed by kings, served in law enforcement, or had any official capacity in the state machinery. They were more akin to modern academic social theorists than jurists. The famous Yajnavalkya Smriti is introduced in the remote sanctuary of an ascetic. The well-known Manusmriti begins by stating its setting as the humble abode of Manu, who answered questions posed to him in a state of samadhi (higher consciousness). Manu tells the sages that every epoch has its own distinct social and behavioral dharma.

Similarly, none of the Vedas and Upanishads was sponsored by a king, court or administrator, or by an institution with the status of a church. In this respect, dharma is closer to the sense of “law” we find in the Hebrew scriptures, where torah, the Hebrew equivalent, is also given in direct spiritual experience. The difference is that Jewish torah quickly became enforced by the institutions of ancient Israel.

The dharma-shastras did not create an enforced practice but recorded existing practices. Many traditional smritis (codified social dharma) were documenting prevailing localized customs of particular communities. An important principle was self-governance by a community from within. The smritis do not claim to prescribe an orthodox view from the pulpit, as it were, and it was not until the 19th century, under British colonial rule, that the smritis were turned into “law” enforced by the state.

The reduction of dharma to concepts such as religion and law has harmful consequences: it places the study of dharma in Western frameworks, moving it away from the authority of its own exemplars. Moreover, it creates the false impression that dharma is similar to Christian ecclesiastical law-making and the related struggles for state power.

The result of equating dharma with religion in India has been disastrous: in the name of secularism, dharma has been subjected to the same limits as Christianity in Europe. A non-religious society may still be ethical without belief in God, but an a-dharmic society loses its ethical compass and falls into corruption and decadence.

Source: Rajiv Marhotra’s blog

The Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre 30th Birth Anniversary Celebration

 Saturday 25 March 2017 – Sunday 14 May 2017   

SRI SWAMI CHIDANANDAJI MAHARAJ PRESIDENT OF THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY FROM INDIA OFFICIALLY OPENS THE HINDU TEMPLE AND CULTURAL CENTRE AT FLOREY.

To celebrate HTCC 30th Birth anniversary, a number of divine activities are planned to share Hindu values and traditions by way of various rituals, spiritual and cultural programs and a focus on Japa Yoga for the manifestations of Divinity enshrined in the Divya Mandir – HTCC. It would bring more community awareness about Hinduism and for our own self unfoldment. The divine program consists of Navratri Chandi Yagna, Japa Yoga, Walking on Fire ( Mariamman Pooja), Ramayana Sammelan, Girimit Day, Srimad Bhagwat Saptah,  Hanuman Jayanti, Sri Mahavir Jayanti celebrations, Yoga Day, Divya Mandir Pran Pritishtha ceremony, Open Day etc.  It is expected that all the current daily programs in the Temple will be a part of this celebrations along with additional programs and collective chanting of various Mantras for specific deities – Japa Yoga.

Japa Yoga  is an important and easy way of self-unfoldment in Kaliyuga. Mantra is a divine sound reverberating in each and everything in this universe. It is easy to experience God by repeating the mantra. Bhagwan Sri Krishna ji says in Holy Gita “yagyanaam japa yagyah asmi”. The great saint Parma Pujya Tukaram ji said “ With the name of God on your lips, the bliss of liberation is right in your hand”.   

Following Mantra are compiled for  manifestations of Divinity enshrined in the Divya Mandir- HTCC. 

  • Om Sri Ganeshaaya Namah Om Sri Saraswatyai Namah Om Namo Naraayanaya Om Namah Sivaaya Om Sri Raamaaya Namah Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaaya  Om Sri Hanumateh Namah Om Sri Swami Ayappaye  Namah Om Sri Gurave Namah Om Sri Durgai Namah Om Sri Mahaviraaya Namah Buddham Sarnam Gacchaami
  • Gaytri Mantra – Om Bhur Bhuvah Swah, Tat Svitur Varenyam, Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi,  Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayaat   Paalani Muruga Vel Muruga, Sharanam Sharnam Vel Muruga Maha Mantra – Hare Raam Hare Raam Raam Raam Raam Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
  • Navagrah Mantra- Brahmaa Muraaris-Tripurantakaari, Bhaanuh Shashi Bhuumisuto Budhas-ch  Gurush-ch  Shukrah Shani-Rahu- Ketvah,  Sarve Graha Shantikara Bhavnatu

Likhita Japa Yoga

Devotees are requested to  start writing one or more of these Mantra or any Mantra of their choice in a paper bound copy of 64  pages or A4 paper whatever convenient in their divine homes at their leisure.  A minimum of 125,000 or more  Likhit Mantra are targeted to be put in the capsule in the foundation of the new divine building – Shantiniketan,  as we did for the Divya Mandir.  Likhit Japa can be done in your own home, choose one or more mantras of your choice and  be a part of this Yagna. Please contact Panditji 0420264578 or Tarunji 0421336640 to register your divine interest, blank copies and pen can be collected from Panditji if required. Please join for Mantra Chanting – Japa from your home through the Facebook (Shree Tarun Agasti)   from 6.00-6.30 PM everyday .  For more information please visit www.htcc.org.au

Interfaith Forum Adelaide

 
An Interfaith Forum on Education and Religion was held on Sunday February 19, 2017 at the Payneham Library, 2 Turner Street, Felixtow. Over 60 people attended the Forum .

 

The Forum started with a Puja of Maa Saraswati – the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, music, and art, followed by a brief presentation by Snehal Thaker who explained the significance of various aspects of Maa Saraswati depicted in the symbolic picture used in the worship

 

MC of the event, Sunaina Sharma, made the event very interactive and encouraged the children by having a Quiz and giving them prizes for the winners.

 

After the Quiz, there was a Bharatnatyam dance by Geetha Sadagopan , the current president of Shruthi Adelaide.

 

The dance was followed by the Interfaith Forum. The speakers representing different faiths were Dr Dilip Chirmuley  ( Hinduism ), Jeff Boyce ( Christianity ), Sylvia Barnes  (Jewish ), Nasir Zia  (Islam,)  Shantha Sooriyabandara ( Buddhism )and Harvinder Singh Garcha –(Sikh).

The presentations of all the speakers were of high quality .. They emphasized the importance of religious education along with academic education. The speakers were also of the view that religious education gives us ability to be more tolerant, compassionate, calm, truthful and respectful to each other.

 

One speaker spoke about the significance and need of a teacher (Guru) in attaining knowledge, and then using that knowledge for realizing the “inner-self” or “higher-self”.  Interestingly, some of the speakers thought that there has been a gradual loss of interest and overall dilution of religious education over time. Was it due to unavailability of great teachers or simply change in our priorities – perhaps influenced by free and fast communication in modern times .

The event was concluded by a vote of thanks by Dr Gaurang Prajapati followed by lunch. Some Hindu religious books were given as a token of thanks to the public.