Archives for July 2018

Happy Guru Purnima 2018

By:Madya Lila. 

Happy Guru Purnima! Celebrated as the appearance day of Srila Vyasadeva, one of the most revered Gurus and the compiler of the Vedas, Guru Purnima is the auspicious day to honour our spiritual guides. 

Throughout India and in Hindu communities around the world, disciples offer Guru Puja (worship) and express their gratitude to their Guru. Special celebrations are held to recite the scriptures authored by Vyasadeva, accompanied by the singing of hymns, bhajans and kirtan. The system of Guru Sishya Parampara is also followed in the traditional schools of Indian classical music and dance. In India and Nepal, school students honour their teachers on this day, expressing their gratitude and presenting gifts.

Artwork by BG Sharma

In the Vedic system, accepting a guru is considered to be crucial for advancement in spiritual life. The human form of life is sometimes compared to a boat, and the guru is the expert captain who can guide the boat across the ocean of birth and death. It is not possible for a boat to cross the vast and treacherous ocean without a captain, and similarly, it is not possible for a person to solve the problems of life unless he takes shelter of a genuine guru. The word “guru” is composed from two words, gu and ru. The Sanskrit root gu means darkness or ignorance, and ru denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore, a Guru is one who removes the darkness of our ignorance.

Sri Guru Pranama
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya 
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah

I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who with the torchlight of knowledge has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

Artwork by BG Sharma

Kalyan Das The Hindu Temple of Compassion in Rawalpindi-2

Hindu Council in its 20th years

In 1998, five pioneer Hindus of Sydney came together, Dr Anand Lalchandani co-founder of Sri Mandir in Auburn, Dr A Balasubramaniam co-founder of Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh, Surinder Jain co-founder of Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, Bhagwat Chauhan of VHP Australia and Mr Jagdish Raniga of Braham Kumaris. Together they founded Hindu Council of Australia. Sanjeev Bhakri and his team pioneered the celebration of Diwali as a grand community festival under the banner of Hindu Council. Many more helped Hindu Council become the grand organisation of Hindus all over Australia, that it is today.

Hindu Council has over 40 temples and Hindu associations as its members and has become the voice of Australian Hindus.

We will be celebrating 20th Diwali this year in Sydney.

 

 

Gerald Barr – Interviews with non-Indian Hindus

I think Hinduism is an alive tradition that is not frozen in ancient times. It adjusts to the time and place. However, the source must always be preserved. 

I became immensely inspired by Indian Classical Music, and began learning from Ustad Zakir Hussain in 1995. He teaches not just tabla, but also how the music is connected to Hinduism. For example, he traces Indian percussion to Lord Ganesha. He once taught a tabla composition that ‘narrates’ a story of Radha and Krishna. Thus, the music and Hindu spirituality are directly linked.

Take a Poll on Dowry – Have your say

Hindus are the most employed group in Australia

Hindus have the highest overall workforce participation rate among all religious groups in Australia, according to RMIT-ABC Fact Check.

Sri Sitarama Kalyanam taking shape

A team of 40 volunteers has got together to plan Sri Bhadrachalam Sitaram Kalyanam Utsav being planned for 3rd and 4th of November to be celebrated as a part of Hindu Council of Australia’s annual Diwali festival. This year is a special occasion. It is the 20th year for celebrating Diwali in Australia.

Sri SItarama Kalyanam will have extensive decoration, cultural program and possibly a running commentary on the marriage of Rama and Sita being performed on the stage, as well. Temples want to have Rath-Yatra as a part of the marriage procession and it all depends on various permissions needed from the Police and road authorities.

After the procession comes into the Ground it is being proposed to have a huge “Kolla-attam” i.e. Dandiya style dance and to get a huge number of people of all ages to participate in it. During the 3 hours allocated to wedding there will be some performances with the dance schools and teachers if feasible. During the evening cultural time there will be a mix of other performers.

There is still a lot of detail to be worked out. so give the team some time to get back to you with more details. Rest assured it will be a packed program and evenly balanced program.
 
Would you like to help with decoration of this grand community event. If yes, then please express your interest by filling out the volunteer form here.
 
You can also express your interest to receive further information about the event by signing up here.

Jalaram Bapa a saint from Virpur

A once mighty civilization that India was, it continues to produce men and women of exceptional abilities from time to time and from place to place. The land of Punjab is Vir Bhumi, land of Kerala is Punuruthana Bhumi, land of UP and Utrakhand is Dev Bhumi, land of Bengal is Reform Bhumi, land of Bihar Jharkhand is Shanti Sandesh Bhumi, land of Tamilnadu is Kalaa Bhumi and so on. The land of Gujarat is famous as Sant Bhumi. Each Bhumi or land or state has produced many stars in its category.

Jalaram Bapa idol at a temple in Vadodara, dressed in colorful attire on occasion of Jalaram Jayanti holding a danda and wearing a turban.
Jethwarp – Own work

Gujarat has produced many saints. One such saint of Gujarat who lived mostly in 19th century affectionately known as Bapa (meaning great Dad) started a tradition of feeding the poor, the needy and everyone else who came to him. I had gone to Virpur where Bapa was born and witnessed his open kitchen, open to all, his earthen vessel that quenches the thirst of all and a place that does not accept donations. Even after 200 years, Bapa continues to shower his blessings and money has never been a problem to serve. 

The main shrine of Jalaram Bapa is located at Virpur. The shrine is actually the house complex where Jalaram lived during his lifetime. The shrine houses the belongings of Jalaram and the deities of Rama, Sita, Lakshamana and Hanuman worshipped by him. It also has on display the Jholi and Danda said to be given by God.[5] But the main attraction is the portrait of Jalaram Bapa. There is also an actual black and white photo of Jalaram Bapa, taken one year before his death.[7]

The temple is one of a kind in the world in a way that it has not been accepting any offerings since 9 February 2000.

Jalaram Bapa popularly known as Bapa was a Hindu saint from Gujarat, India. Bapa is revered by many people around the world for his saintly qualities and his ability to work miracles but most of all he is remembered for his selfless acts of charity.

Bapa was born on 14 November 1799 in the town of Virpur near Rajkot in India. He got married to Virbai at the age of sixteen. Virbai Maa, as she is popularly known, supported Bapa wholeheartedly in his saintly duties. Bapa’s feats of kindness, his devotion to God and his miracles are well documented.

At the age of 20, after obtaining his Guru’s blessings, Bapa started his Sadavrat (‘an oath forever’), providing free food to every person, at first to sadhus (monks) but later extended to anyone who dropped in. Inspired by his insatiable desire to feed the poor and needy, many became his devotees. True to Bapa’s desire and nearly 200 years later this tradition of feeding people continues to this day in Virpur.

For his devotees this meal is now a Prasad. Virpur has become an important Pilgrimage centre in India and attracts thousands of visitors daily.

Although Bapa origins were from the Lohana community his work and influence extended to all as he considered all castes and religions equally worthy of help and respect.

Bapa died in 1881 whilst praying. He was a divine soul who worked selflessly for humanity. His deeds are inspiring millions of people to follow the path of humanity and service. His birthday (Jayanti) each year is celebrated by many thousands of people across the world. His mandirs everywhere still serve the same Prasad of “Rotla, Khichdi, Kadhi and Shaak” and preach about the completely unselfish and kind deeds of Bapa.

Australian bishop sentenced to year’s detention for child sex abuse cover-up

The most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse has been sentenced in an Australian court to 12 months in detention. Newcastle Magistrate Robert Stone on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, ordered Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson to serve at least 6 months before he is eligible for parole.

Shakti initiative of Hindu American Foundation

Hindu American Foundation. www.hafsite.org. HAF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Namaste

WELCOME TO THE SHAKTI INITIATIVE!


Many years ago, I was invited to speak on a panel about women and religion. Armed with my senior thesis from undergrad — The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Will She Return? — I was able to quickly pull together a long list of stories and scriptural quotes to bolster my own experience of finding strength and inspiration in Hindu teachings as a Hindu woman.

After the panel, a number of intrigued audience members approached me for online sources that they could read to learn more.  

I promised I’d get back to them. The truth is, I never did.

After scouring the internet for hours, what I found left me seriously F R U S T R A T E D.

There were the websites that were politically or religiously motivated — brimming with stereotypes and outright lies. They took scriptural quotes out of context and juxtaposed them with social evils afflicting women of all backgrounds in India to paint the ugly picture they sought to promote.  

Others were academic in nature, plagued with the same exoticizing and eroticizing with which we’re sadly all too familiar.

And then there were the well meaning, but confused ones where social customs and even wives’ tales were being passed off as religious mandates.

Frustration, however, can be a pathway to one of two things — anger or innovation.  

At HAF we’re fans of the latter.

And so —  on these auspicious first days of Gupt Navaratri — we welcome you to the Shakti Initiative: An accessible, online exploration of Hindu teachings about and by women the contributions of Hindu women throughout history; and the role both women and men play in bringing to fruition solutions that are grounded in Hindu teachings to address critical contemporary issues.  

My deepest hope for the Shakti Initiative when it was only a seed of an idea was that the life stories and contributions of some of the most remarkable women history has ever seen would inspire both women and men to get reacquainted with and reassert, in many facets of life where we have fallen short, the balance and harmony our traditions advocate for between the feminine and masculine.  

In turn, women and men will renew their commitment to work together to alleviate the suffering that has uniquely and disproportionately affected women in our society, and support one another so that all have access to their highest potential.  

In a small way, my hope is already manifesting.  

When I first proposed the idea at our National Team meet several years ago, nearly every hand shot up, either in support of the project or to join the Shakti writing team. Not only that, we’ve gotten new volunteers — young and not as young — who upon hearing about the project, have contributed articles, and are working on new ones as I write this.  

We hope you enjoy the Shakti Initiative as much as we have been inspired by it.    

We’ve got a lot up already, and a lot more planned, so visitwww.shaktiinitiative.org often.

Jai Mata Di and Happy Navaratri!

Best,

Suhag Shukla

HAF Executive Director

P.S. Would you like us to write about a Hindu woman of note? Interview a swamini known to you? Uncover the reason behind a tradition centered around women? Send us your suggestions at shakti@hafsite.org.