HINDU AMERICAN THOUGHTS ON THANKSGIVING DAY
(DISCOURSE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN, NASHVILLE, TN, USA. NOVEMBER 2013)
Thursday November 28, 2013 is Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Holiday is barely more than a one day big event of gathering, eating, ball game watching, and of course, giving thanks as some people think. This year Hanukah and Thanksgiving merge showing that secular and religious sentiments can merge. Hindu festivals are often religiously observed and socially celebrated. Religiously inclined some Hindu Americans also visit Hindu temples in distant towns as temples are kept open all day long on these National Holidays more as a holiday outing and sight-seeing than a day of dedication. They also conduct special poojas with no focus to please the holiday crowds and help temple funds. November is the American Religious Month of thanksgiving--Samhain, All Souls day, Veterans Day, Hanukah and Thanksgiving Day. This year both Deepavali and Karthigai, Hindu festivals of light were celebrated in November. Hanukah was celebrated along with Thanksgiving In 1888. It may do so after 79043 years as per Jewish estimate. Thanksgiving Day is a great charity day all over USA. Public kitchens are run to feed the poor with hot sumptuous holiday food. Food collection is done by many organizations all over the country.
People of Christian Faith are taught throughout the Old and New Testament of the Bible, Thanksgiving to God. But why this is earmarked for a particular day? Each and every day of our lives should be a day of thanksgiving. Some religiously devoted Christians do this every day at the dining table before taking meals. I have seen my Yoga teacher who is a Christian doing this at the end of every class seeking peace from external disturbances, peace within and gift of peace from God which passes all understandings. To quote from Bible: "Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving, and into His court with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name." (Psalm 100:4) "And when you offer a sacrifice of Thanksgiving to the Lord, offer it of your own free will" Leviticus (22:29). These quotes have prompted them to fix a day for Thanksgiving to focus their attention from their busy lives at least one day in a year and to remember the message given in the Bible. They thank the Natives for their accommodating spirit long after grabbing and driving them to remote corners and repenting for being cruel to them, a late realization. After Thanksgiving, they get back to the grind, and forget how the Lord blesses all of them in so many ways every day. This is true for all others too.
If we look back to the past cultures Peruvian, Mexican, Druid, Dravidian culture of Saraswati Valley, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro it was all one Eternal Tradition or Sanatana Dharma that prevailed with civilization at one time. It is perhaps because of this USA named the peaks of Grand Canyon as Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and Brahman driven by an unknown divine thought! May be because of this divine influence a magnificent spiritual project HASTINAPURA, started by Ida Albrecht is developing all over Argentina! This should have been the divine inspiration. What makes us think of California as Kapila-aranya, associated with Horse Island, Ash Island, Sagara's sons (Hindu Puranic story) and the Ocean and America as Aindrakanda in religious Sankalpas? Is it not our duty to spread the message of Sanatana Dharma, Viswa Shanti (universal peace) and Spirituality once again in this Ancient land? As a matter of fact we are not to join Western culture in thanking the Natives called Red Indians for vacating their possessions to make the Western migrants rich and famous. I am not at all surprised Columbus had identified them as Indians with red colour. Rajoguna is identified with red color and indicates Rajas or egoistic activity. They had to pay for moving away from Sattvaguna (noble character or pure thought) to Rajoguna. Gypsies of Europe are also of Rajoguna dominating Hindu origin stock. They have nothing in common with European culture even today. Americas could have been our land as well if not run over by Western invaders or Conquistadors. We can learn the lesson from Jews who recognized their land after millenniums. We were a cursed lot who became weak, got destroyed or moved out. Cultured and the wise survived and called themselves Aryan or cultured. Probably we too moved away to propagate or practice Dharma elsewhere! We are back here then again motivated by the divine force. May be we are sent back to remember our past with a mission to re-establish Spirituality and Universal Oneness of Eternal Tradition for world peace!
Upanishads say that God knows what is good for us and He keeps constant vigil on us. Only our thoughts should be focused on Him every day and every moment in all our actions. So we do not formally thank him as in believed faiths who ask for all sorts of favors at all times but surrender our will as being subservient to Him. We believe that Karmaphala or fruits of our own action will take its own course. We need peace of mind to face them boldly and act wisely. We have to pay our obeisance for the dawn of this wisdom in all of us. We therefore end our prayers everyday with the following:
"Kaayena waacha mansendriyairvaa |
buddhyaatmanaa vaa prakrite svabhaavat ||
karomi yadyat sakalm parasmai|
Narayanaya iti samarpayaami ||
Oh! Supreme Lord, Please forgive for any commission or omission on my part in all my actions, speeches and thoughts and whatever I do I surrender them at your feet". Yet another factor is the concluding prayer is not for the individual alone but a universal prayer:
"Sarve bhavantu sukhinah|
sarve santu niraa-mayaah |
sarve bhadraani pasyantu |
maa kaschit duklnaah bhavet ||
May all beings be happy! May all beings be free of disease! May people learn to see good things in others! May none suffer! This prayer is not only for humans but for all living beings, for all round peace and for keeping the balance of pristine beauty of flora and fauna as expressed in many other Shanti mantras. All prayers end with repeating the word peace three times, seeking peace from terrestrial disturbances, external disturbance and internal disturbances turning towards the Self (Aatman) within us!
Let us slow down, focus our Thoughts, Action and Speech towards the Supreme and thank Him for his mercy and seek his guidance for liberation. Let us concentrate on three D's He smilingly and silently passed on to us -- Dama, Dayaa and Daana--Self-control, Kindness and Charity (refer to the discourses “Da, Da, Da from Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad” (September 2012) and “Thanksgiving Day Celebrations in Hindu Temples of America” (November 2011 In Hindu Reflections:<nrsrini.blogspot.com>