Friday, May 20, 2016

VEDANTA RELIGION---EVERLASTING, UNIVERSAL AND UNIFYING SPIRITUALITY



Vedanta Religion- Everlasting, Universal and Unifying Spirituality
(Compilation for a Discourse by N. R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, May 2016)
A century ago, in 1893, Swami Vivekananda impressed the Parliament of Religions in Chicago with his speech “Vedanta, the Future Religion”.  Vedanta can neither fit by definition into the class of modern Religion nor the way it is practiced. Religion is understood as cause, principle or systems of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. Vedanta is focused on Maanava Dharma (human Values) and Tapas in Sanskrit that is roughly translated   as austerity.
Any religious or Spiritual discipline is tapah (tapas). We set for ourselves certain regimens and then go by them; living up to the self-discipline that we thoughtfully design for ourselves helps us achieve the preparedness for Self-knowledge. Such self-discipline (well-chosen and properly implemented) paves the way to Self-knowledge.
Upanishads elaborate what this tapas means. It is not the usual thinking of standing in tree pose of Yoga and meditating for years together till  you get the enlightenment.  That is for   recluses who renounce the world and strive for liberation at the end of this very birth. But   Vedanta speaks of austerity for all to blend with human activity in the daily life of normal individuals who are focused on spirituality. The following Veda mantra (MNU) defines what Tapas means contributing to human Values:
Ritam Tapah satyam tapah srutam tapah saantam tapah damastapah  samas-tapoe daanam tapoe yajnam tapoe bhurbhuvah suvar brahmaitadupaasvaitattpah ||(MNU)
Right is austerity. Truth is austerity. Understanding of the scriptures is austerity. Subduing one’s senses is austerity. Restraint of the body through such means like fasting is austerity. Cultivation of peaceful disposition is austerity. Giving charity (Daana) without selfish motives is austerity. Worship is austerity. The Supreme Spirit has manifested himself as Bhuh (Earth) Bhuvah (Mid-region) and Suvah (heaven or Svarga). Meditate upon Him. This is austerity par excellence. [Implies God is within you in this very Life and on this very Earth.]
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad stresses specifically on Dama (self-restraint or control of senses) Daana (selfless charity) and Daya (kindness) as austerity measures of which I have talked about in detail. 
The term tapas similar to manas, namas and vachas is derived from the root tap literally   means to give heat and light.  Primarily therefore tapa implies an activity of mind or body which demands keen concentration of thought or an effort requiring unusual and continuous physical strain and heat. Tapas is often praised in scriptures as the highest and best means for securing what is hard of attainment in this world and in the next. Even birth on this earth in situations which yields the highest and best pleasures is attributed to the previous performance of Tapas. All physical, mental, moral intellectual perfections are traced to this one source, namely devotion to a single purpose. We hear about graded definitions of tapas and their merits  in religious texts, such as observance of fast, sexual asceticism (celibacy), restriction of enjoyment, forswearing of pleasures, fortitude in the face of difficulties that arise in the discharge of one’s duties in one’s station and order of life  and one-pointedness of mind and senses in the pursuit of spiritual ends.           
Unlike religion which goes to seek Divinity as an Out-source or Out-reach, Vedanta tries to see the Divinity within oneself turning inwards and see that it influences every action of the individual internally and externally to live in peace and harmony with the outside world while focused on elevating oneself spiritually from Man-stone (jada) or Man-plant (sthaavara) or Man-animal (mriga) state to Man-Super-head (jnaani).  We will talk about these states in detail later.  Yet the world which is so fully engrossed in politics and its powerful tool religion today does not understand what Vedanta is; we can call it as the most ancient religion of the world which is the loadstar or spear-head of all modern religions today including Hinduism as is practiced today. Sanatana Dharma as it started was not restricted to  only people from whom present Hindus  came   at that time,  but  meant for whole Humanity (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam—the whole world is one family), as the word Hindu never existed then but later given to a group of people who practiced Sanatana Dharma on sindhu (river) banks. Even in modern religion there is constant conflict between religions which are distinguished with the ending –ism and the other that end with –ity or one that avoids both--Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc.;  Christianity;  and  Islam. Christianity and Islam both branched out of Judaism.  In their contempt for the religion from which they branched out they both added –ism to followers of Yaweh or YHWH and called it Judaism also. The suffix -ism is added in the sense of cult and in derogatory sense while suffix --ity is addend in the sacred sense of purity and sanctity. Islam means submission. It eliminated all earlier reference to Muhammedanism when it came to power.  Similarly Bible has deleted all reference to Jehovah in the New Testament. The meaning of the word Jehovah is "the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God,"  "I am that I am," a covenant-keeping God--Exodus (3:14).  This is exactly the translation of “Tad Brahma” or “Aham Brahmasmi”.  Judaism and Hinduism being the most ancient religions think alike or perhaps Judaism followed closely Hinduism; they perhaps believe in the same Supreme Spirit. The suffix “anta” in Vedanta indicates it is the Ultimate answer to all beliefs and faiths though translated as end. You find often the letters INRI in churches associated with Jesus Christ. What does that signify? Here is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of Jews--Iesus; Nazarenus; Rex; Iudaeorum. At the time Jesus was crucified there was no religion called Christianity.  Jesus died as a Jew. Jesus did not start Christianity. His followers did much later; Similarly Buddhism.
What is Vedanta Religion? Here it would be appropriate to read the speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda in San Francisco on April 8, 1900, 116 years ago which still  holds good for the present context. I have summarized his long speech as follows with my observations here and   there enclosed within [ ]:
“What is it that makes a religion according to modern definition? The religions that are thriving   at present day as world leaders 1&2 as well as others are having a book to guide them. The second requisite to make a religion is veneration for some person. The third requisite seems to be that a religion, to be strong and sure of itself, must believe that it alone is the Truth; otherwise it cannot exist. So it is bent on destruction of all others who do not believe in that Truth or forceful conversion using its muscle or power. All existent religions that are spreading are tremendously fanatic and are fighting for their leadership.  The more a sect hates other sects, the greater is its success and the more people it can draw into its fold.   [Hinduism as is practiced today is often drawn into these sectarian conflicts and so justifies its being called Hinduism and a competing Religion designated so by others though it started as Sindhu Tattva (river valley Philosophy) on which I have talked a lot before.] Looking at the conditions prevailing in the world today, the present state of things is going to continue, in spite of much talk of Universal Brotherhood, Interfaith and Out-reach.  The world’s leading two religions Christianity and Islam are promoted by politicians and political muscle to that status and not by any spiritual leader or religious leader.  Most of those who have worked in the field of religion all over the world have really been political workers. That has been the history of human beings. They have rarely tried to live up uncompromisingly to the truth. They have always worshiped the god called society; they have been mostly concerned with upholding way masses believe—their superstitions, their weaknesses. Even philanthropists have been influenced by such thoughts.
Vedanta does not believe any of these teachings. Vedanta is not antagonistic to anything, though it does not compromise or give up the truths which it considers as fundamental. First of all, it does not believe in a book; it denies authority of any book or any other book. It denies emphatically that any one book can contain all the truths about God, soul and the Ultimate Reality. [Upanishads often say That One (Tadekam--the Self) cannot be realized   by reading any book. Gita also says beyond a point even Vedas are useless.] It goes by the wisdom contained in all of them or wherever it can be found. Vedanta finds veneration for some particular person is still more difficult to uphold.   Through Upanishads we understand Vedanta is the only religion that does not cling to any one person. Not one man or woman has ever become the object of worship among the Vedanta scholars.  A man is no more worthy of worship than any plant, any bird or any worm.  Hindus often worship all of these sometimes.
The most difficult part of Vedanta is in understanding its concept of God. We all want to be democratic in USA as well as in India from which Hindus migrated. Vedanta teaches only about the Democratic God. [Brahman rules the world with his 33 controllers as seen in Vedic culture.] The real power is in the unseen and impersonal—The Nobody. As a mere person separated from others we are nothing, but as an impersonal unit of the nation we are tremendous. We are all in the government—we are tremendous power.  But where is that power? Each of us is the power.  [It is like the Swiss Government]. There is no king.  We need not have to bow down to anyone. Everybody is equally the same. Vedanta says the unknown having created the world has entered into each one of us to make us all equal. Thus there is tremendous power in each man.  God is not a monarch sitting on the throne. Religions often fear God and propitiate. They want the king to rule them. [Jews inscribed the title King when Jesus died on the Cross.]   They believe king in heaven to rule them all. The king has gone from the country now!  Many whom we call atheists are growing in number who have started asking now “Where is the King in Heaven?”. We are all kings in this country or hope to be one. So it is with   the religion of Vedanta. We are all Gods, says Vedanta. Vedanta teaches the God that is in everyone, has become everyone and everything.
The way India worships politicians today shows that India cannot give up its majesty the King of Earth.  [Jayalalita is worshiped as Devi by Tamils! May be Modi in due course worshiped more as God!] So Vedanta has not become the religion of India. [India says it is secular but observes religious holidays of all religions.  There is a chance Vedanta becoming the religion of Hindu Americans in the country they live in because of its true democracy. There should be no religious public Holidays. Secular Government should keep 6 or12 days as paid holidays in a year for religious observers leaving the option to them.]  But, it can become so only if we can understand it, if we become spiritually oriented real men and women, not people with vague ideas and superstitions in our brains copying present practices of Hinduism in India—Vedanta is concerned only with Spirituality.
Materialism is the motivation behind the idea of God in Heaven--Someone sitting to grant us our everyday small wishes, whenever we are in trouble and pray.  The Vedanta idea is the infinite principle of God embodied in every one of us. God is Spirit and that should be worshiped in spirit and in truth.  We are all spirit. Spirit does not live in heaven or hell. It is with you all the time. What makes one different from the other? It is the body and nothing else. If we forget the body, it is all spirit, the same spirit abiding in all!
Vedanta proposes no sin or sinner. No God to be afraid of.  We can all become one with God and merge with that Supreme Spirit by individual effort alone. It is only the question of time and effort. Everyone can be saved without exception. There is no one time hell or heaven.  Lord Buddha once said that the whole human race is lunatic. Vedanta says everybody is ignorant and need to come out of that ignorance. Condemn the Sinner not the Sin. [There is no saint without a past; no sinner without a future. Meaning even a sinner has a chance to reform himself and so it is not good to condemn him. We have seen that in Valmiki, Ajamila and many others as Hindu Puranas tell.]
Vedanta says all the present and future are here in the present life of ours. When you think that you   know the past, you only imagine the past in the present as in hallucination.  To see the future, you would have to bring it down to the present, which is the only reality—the rest is imagination. All that is there is only in the present. There is only the ONE. All that is and was and will be is here in the present. One moment in infinite time is quite as complete and all-inclusive as every other moment.
With five senses we look upon this world and find it gross, having color, form, sound and the like. Suppose we develop electric sense all this will change. If my senses go finer we will all appear changed. If I change you will also change.  If I go beyond the power of senses, you will appear as spirit with God. Things are not what they seem. This is what Vedanta calls as Maya roughly translated as Illusion. We live in an illusory world.    All the heavens--everything   are here now and they are nothing but appearances on the   Divine Presence.   This   Presence   is much greater than all the Earth and Heaven. This world is God   alone if we know it and act that way. It is hard thing even to understand, harder than to believe.
Therefore Vedanta speaks of Universal Oneness and not Universal Brotherhood. It promotes the concept I am the same as any other person, as animal—good, bad, anything. It is one body, one mind one soul throughout. Spirit never dies. There is no death anywhere.  The universe is my body. See how it continues. One leaf may fall. Does the tree die?  All minds are mine. With all feet I walk. Through all mouths I speak. In everybody I reside—that is the Self that abides in me.  Vedanta does not say “Give it up, but transcend it”
There is no need for going ascetic. When you enjoy through the whole universe, the whole universe is yours. 
The God of Vedanta is principle, not person. All of us are personal gods.   Absolute God of the Universe, the creator, preserver and destroyer is impersonal principle. God is the Infinite, impersonal being, ever existent, unchanging, immortal and fearless and we are all his incarnations, his embodiments.  Worship everything as god—every form is His temple. All else is delusion. Always look within, never without. Such is the God that Vedanta preaches and such is his worship. Naturally there is no sect, no creed, no caste no race in Vedanta.
[Vedanta God is a Symbol OM not any person. Om consists of three letters A, U and M. AUM is a word that represents to our ears that sound of the Energy of the Universe of which all things are manifestations as Einstein discovered. You start in the back of the mouth “aah” and then “ooh”. You fill the mouth and the sound “mmm” closes the mouth. When you pronounce this properly, all vowel sounds are included in the pronunciation of “AUM”. AUM is symbolic sound that puts you in touch with resounding being that is the Universe.  Aum represents the power behind creation, sustenance and dissolution. Please go through my detailed discourse on the subject for better understanding.
Holy Bible starts saying “In the beginning there was WORD and the word was GOD”. Again GOD is a word coined by joining three concepts G for Generation, O for Operation and D for Dissolution which in Sanskrit stands for Srishthi (creation) Sthiti (Sustenance) and Laya (Dissolution). May be Sanskrit Om is English Amen or Arabic Amin.
Om tad Brahma tad Vaayu tad Aaatmaa tat satyam  tat  sarvam tat purornamah—thus describes a Rigveda mantra, the Vedanta God--The Supreme Being  is  that Sound or word  Om; That is   Spirit, all-pervasive and circulating air within the body as well as the outside world; That  is the inner Self; That is Truth;  That  is Everything; It is what That  was before all  the present creations implying That  is what it will be in the future too.
Hindu Scriptures say: “Agnir devoe dwijaateenaam muneenaam hridi deivataam; Pratimaa svalpabuddheenaam sarvatra viditaatmanaam”

Those who indulge in rituals have their Gods in the fire; but the wise folks find Him in their own hearts. It is the dull-witted one that seeks God in an icon (temple). Those who have higher understanding see God in everything.  Same or similar thought is reflected in the Holy Bible which is of recent origin compared to Vedas. Throughout the Gospel of John the Holy Spirit is spoken of as an abiding, inner presence. In John 14:17, Jesus says that this Spirit of Truth will abide with his followers and be in them. As Islam is also part of Abrahamic religion Allah is also said to be the same Spirit of Truth which is also ascribed to Prophet Muhammad in Quran. John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Nicholas of Cusa, and Martin Luther—have seen Muhammad not as a “Spirit of Truth” but as a “Spirit of Error,” a false prophet or heretic….. You see how all religions conflate in visualizing or perceiving God as Spirit of Truth!    But unfortunately Abrahamic Religions are prejudiced and identify Hinduism as idolatry.]
Veda means knowledge. No knowledge is ever created. It is only discovered. That means what was covered up is being uncovered. It is always here for everybody. Past, present and future knowledge exists in all of us.  We have to discover it--that is all.  All this knowledge is God   Himself.  When you discover that knowledge you discover God.
The whole Universe is one existence. There cannot be anything else. Out of diversities we are all going towards this universal existence--Families into tribes, tribes into races, races into nations, and nations into humanity—how many wills going to the One! It is all knowledge, all science—the realization of this Unity. Unity is knowledge and Diversity is ignorance.
We have seemingly been divided, limited, because of our ignorance.  Vedanta is everywhere and not confined to India. Foolish beliefs and superstitions hinder us in our progress. Let us throw them off and understand that God is Spirit to be worshiped in spirit and truth. The conception of God must be truly spiritual. All the different ideas are more or less materialistic and must go. If Vedanta, that is Conscious Knowledge that all is One Spirit, spreads the whole humanity, it will be spiritual from being religious held captive within four walls and guarded by vested interests. There are family brothers, caste brothers, race brothers and national brothers all these are barriers to the realization of Vedanta Religion.  Conventional Religion has been religion to limited numbers but Vedanta Religion is for all.
We should learn from our childhood that God is the Spirit and should be worshiped in spirit and in truth. Everyone must be looked upon as Spirit. That is the ideal.  No doubt Religions teach the dualistic method of God.  If someone wants to show polar star he first points to him bright star, then a less bright star, then a dim star, and then a polar star.  This is our Puranic approach also. This process makes it easy for him to see it. But these are rudiments of religion, the kindergartens of religion   with which we end up even in our retired life. How long will the world have to wait to reach the Truth if it follows this slow, gradual process? And where is the surety that it will ever succeed to any appreciable degree? History has shown that it has not so far succeeded. Are not all the prevalent religious practices often weak links and therefore wrong? In America we are used to fast life! Although Vedanta is the oldest philosophy in the world and Hinduism mainly carved out of it, it has always become mixed up with superstitions and everything else.   For millions of years all over the world people have been taught to worship the Lord of the world, his Incarnations, the saviors and prophets. They have been taught to consider themselves helpless, miserable creatures and to depend    upon the mercy of the Lord or some persons for salvation.  It has worked in the case of some to prove that point but not the majority. But even at their best, they are but kindergartens of religion and they have helped but little the Society as a whole”.
Recently philosopher-saints  like   Vivekanada,  Sivananda, Dayananda and Chinmayananda etc., have arisen  to  cast  off the Kindergartens of  Religion  and  show the path for vivid and powerful True Religion, the worship of the Spirit by  the Spiritual  that contributes to universal Peace and Harmony  besides taking us to the path of  Liberation.
Swami Vivekananda speaks of Religion as kindergarten schooling. In that concept Vedanta takes its lesson to High School level for all and to some college and research levels. It is therefore more suited to the Hindu American crowd which is a crowd with high education standards of Aparavidya.  Besides Hindu Americans are also time, effort and value conscious. To them Kindergarten level of education is thought to be wasteful and not appealing. Let me give an example. We celebrate with all fanfare Ramayan Path and Hanuman Chalisa with parrot chanting over and over again. This is to promote the meditation technique of RAMA Taraka mantra which includes both Om Namo Narayanaya and Namah Sivaaya mentioned in Upanishads.  The kindergarten approach of Ramayana path focuses only on the historic figure Rama and the benefit that   is derived in reading Ramayana as exaggerated by Valmiki to make its reading popular, a blind belief.  A Vedanta follower knows that this technique of worship has been designed to promote the meditation of the Taraka mantra RAMA which was administered by Narada long before the birth of Rama to Valmiki to meditate as Guru Anusaasana (Commandment).  Upanishads mention a mantra has to be properly taught and administered to a worthy student. While reading Ramayana of Tulsidas or Valmiki   no doubt one repeats the word   RAMA several thousand times like in meditation but not as mantra but name of a historic person Rama. It is a wasteful exercise substituting for meditation. A Vedanta follower of High school level therefore starts with meditation on RAMA mantra straight instead of going to Kindergarten level. Therefore Hindu Americans need Vedanta approach and not the long and winding process of Religious approach starting everybody at kindergarten level, thinking everybody to be ignorant, sparing no time for high school level in this life. As is wisely said in VSN he will go more by meditating on RAMA instead of all the 1000 and odd names of Vishnu without understanding: rama rama rameti-sahsranam tattulyam. A lazy religious follower also tries to chant this without understanding as easy means to achieve the benefits with his focus on the carrot Phalasruti. An advanced student the Vedanta follower deletes Phalasruti as he knows that he has to improve his balance sheet of Karmas by Aaachamana,   Dhyana and Nyasa—Purification, Meditation and focus on the Supreme Consciousness, that is submission. Again we embarrass Hanuman by chanting 40 times Hanuman Chalisa on Hanuman Jayanti Day. Hanuman would be more pleased if you join him on that day meditating on Rama Taraka Mantra 1008 times rather than praising him. Valmiki understanding his shy nature of Hanuman avoided to name the chapter that describes the achievements of Hanuman as Hanumat Kaanda,  but called it Sundara Kaanda!
For the minority Hindu American community, bringing up a kid in USA amidst conflicting cultures struggling hard to preserve Hindu Culture and Heritage   amidst constant plagiarism and misguided faculties of South East Asian Studies as projected by Rajiv Gupta and others needs deep thinking among Hindus who are striving for the cause to preserve Hindu Dharma and Culture in the countries they have migrated. Otherwise it will have the same fate as European Culture which never could hold on even though majority and dominating population come from that culture.  Trying to establish its own culture called American Culture the country is generating more and more atheists every day which ultimately may become American  culture even though democratic, more like Communists of China today.  Atheism has almost reached 50% in Scotland, once a very religious land.  What happened to European culture in USA will happen to Spanish culture too whose numbers are increasing and who are highly religious and are Catholics.
For Hindu Americans  answer does not lie in building more temples  or running Sunday Schools chanting few hymns or enacting  Puranic stories but in  influencing young Hindu American mind and convincing  as to “Why we do many things the  Hindu way”  and how it is all covered under the wisdom of Vedas  Eko viprah bahuda vadanti, Krinavanto viswamaryam, sarve janah sukhino bhavantu, aatmavat sarvabhooteshu,  Uttishthata Jaagrata, Charaibeti etc with Universal appeal for Oneness and Spiritual progress as a necessary adjunct to Material Prosperity. I have somewhat focused on these things in all my discourses but I wonder how effective I had been catering to a handful of people who are disinterested mostly if not uninterested and are too busy.  I find very few react to my unconventional renderings.
 
Exploration of this terrain needs a handful of books and teachings to popularize mainly focusing on these problems and interpreting all our current Hindu practices with suitable modification   and proper explanation for Hindu Americans to be taught in Sunday schools and influence young minds. The orthodox approach will not work. Hindu American kids will not accept anything unconvincing.  For example, we can have few meaningful festivals and rituals suiting all traditions in temples instead of having a sectarian approach. Somehow in spite of high IQ as selective migrants controlled by immigration laws and while we in turn are striving hard to keep that high IQ image, we are still conservative   and sectarian in our religious approach looking for guidance from orthodox and sectarian Hindus in India and are satisfied we are preserving the old culture which is an endangered species! This is because our main focus had been on Aparavidya (secular education) and we have no time to think about Paravidya (spiritual education).
My own feeling is, if one Vivekananda could influence the world gathering, why we as a small devoted group can’t lead the Nation in Spirituality. No one else is better trained or focused on it with that kind of back-ground as ours. “India’s spiritual heritage is legendary.  Through the millenniums, India has been blessed with more masters—persons who during their lives on earth have merged their souls with God—than any other country in the world. There are many well-documented stories of their miracles” says Robert Arnett in his book, India Unveiled.  Hindu Americans are therefore the ideal group to lead the country in Spirituality that is Vedic Religion though an insignificant minority.   It looks as though Buddhism is more serious in spirituality than Hinduism though not well equipped and are trying to influence Western Culture more than Hinduism. This calls for setting our own house in order.   There is a wide gap between theory and practice in leading Hindu Way of Life in foreign soil among Hindu Americans with unconvincing justification forced  on the  young mind growing amidst multi-cultures.  It is time for us to act.  As Vivekananda said “Uttishthata, jagrata” arise and awake and move forward “Charaibeti Charaibeti”.  

 EPILOGUE


"Hinduism is not a bunch of ancient mythological concoctions extraneous to rational thought. It is true that just like any other ancient philosophy  Hinduism also presents its thoughts with some mythological coating, rather than resorting to outright deliverance, despite the fact that these thoughts are rational in essence. Those with credulous or antagonistic dispositions take the coatings as the essence and get themselves deceived. Hinduism is not a collection of myths, superstitions, rituals, observances and expiations  as assumed by both the types of people. Hindu scriptures, especially the Principal Upaniṣhads and Bhagavad Gīta, offer a rational philosophy concerning the ultimate cause of existence of the universe and of life therein. Hinduism does not demand blind faith for its acceptance, since it expresses itself through pure rational thinking and coherence. It is also the most ancient rational philosophy of the world and therefore ancestral to all such philosophies ever dawned in history. Hinduism does not consist in visiting temples, prostrating before idols, performing rituals and begging for fulfillment of desires. It consists in visualizing and realizing the unity existing among apparent diversities in the world. A Hindu worth that name should therefore endeavor to practice equality among themselves and also towards other religious identities.  

The more the Hindus practice discrimination among themselves, the more they alienate their own fellow beings by straying them away to other religious holds. India’s history is the prime testimony to this simple fact says Dr. Kartikeyan in his article Ancient Western  Philosophy and Hindu  Wisdom in IndiaDivine.Org.




Hindu American Temples do not need Explosion of Faiths (as it happened on Diwali Celebrations in Kerala Temples) or Noisy and dangerous Celebrations as in Kumbhamela or Ratha Yatra or stampede while visiting holy shrines. This all goes with the fanfare and showmanship that goes on in the name of religion.  They need to promote spirituality of Vedic Religion, Yoga and deep meditation. Upanishads says Brahman is the Ear of all ears, Eye of all eyes and Mouth of all mouths and He is watching all of us! So there is no need for such an exhibition of human emotions as is promoted in Hindu Temple worship and showmanship. These are perhaps needed at Kindergarten level but not beyond that. Instead raising the voice to heaven and beyond with  Venkatrmana, Jaimathe, Ganapati Bappa, Harahara Mahadev we should bring down our raised  voice from the first Shanti to second one to moderation and the third one to turn inwards after the concluding Santi Mantras.

There are over a thousand full-time humanities scholars in the US specializing in some aspect of India. Hindu Way of Life is so integrated with religion and spirituality that such studies   invariably get focus on Hindu scriptures and religion at the hands of those who have not studied Hindu scriptures and their commentaries in Sanskrit by Vedic scholars who are experts in Vedic language and Vedic Culture.  They largely depend on Western scholars and Western educated Indian Scholars who are also not proficient in Sanskrit Language. The India Studies industry consists of the development of knowledge about India, as well as its distribution and retailing. It includes India-related academic research, school and college education about India and its culture, media portrayals of India, independent think tanks' work on India, government policy making on India and corporate strategic planning on India. The impact of India Studies also includes the diffusion of ideas about India to Indians, many of whom are ignorant and/or even suffer from cultural shame.  These are often funded by rich and affluent Hindu Americans too who do not often find time to see how the funds are utilized to promote true culture. Unfortunately these faculties do not promote Vedic culture and wisdom of Vedas mostly but present a wrong picture of Indian History and culture as firmly established in Indian History in India and taught the same way today as in Mughal and British period of rulings that is still being promoted by Western educated Indian Historians and Religious scholars.  

The focus on  our  religious  practices and  religious education  as well as Hindu culture promotional activities  should be on pre -Puranic Vedic Culture  and not post-Puranic  Hindu culture  that are  often wrongly  misunderstood and practiced today but should  bring back the glory  of Vedic Religion and Culture of Universal Oneness, peace, prosperity  and happiness for all.

What we need here in USA for a limited Hindu population, an Ashram type of Hindu Temple with more spiritual direction. To support us, our conventional worships and rituals are loaded with Veda Mantras which if properly explained and routed will divert the attention from blind belief and faith to spirituality. Here at least one priest should be trained in an institution like Arshavidya Gurukula, Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Math etc. who have their base in USA. These priests should  be  further educated how to  make  mechanical Agama/Tantra worship done in hurry as routine more effective spiritually to elevate ourselves and make it convincing and attractive enough to younger generation.  They should be run with spiritual profit focus than material profit focus. Each Ashram type Temples should focus on Sanskrit studies, Veda Studies, Yoga and Meditation. In India in big cities such infra-structural facilities are available at different venues but unfortunately most of them run as spiritual business venture like temples. Perhaps you have recently read the article in the popular magazine Economics   “Why Spiritual Gurus in India run Noodle Business”.  With small Hindu population overseas they should all be integrated at one place to run under the guidance of Spiritual Pundit or Guru or Spiritual Guidance Counselor directing other priests and instructors and devotees.
Hindu Americans can successfully lead the country towards Spiritualism with their background and culture if they plan well.  The multi-cultured country like USA is moving towards atheism having been fed up with walled religions, beliefs and pagan practices. Here the major religious group of Christianity leads all others, almost one third among them being atheists. Hindus’ Inter-Racial attraction in wed-locks is to this major religion which number is alarmingly increasing.  Iner-culture marriages are good promoters for Interfaith propagation that are steadily increasing in USA. This is a very interesting turn which gives scope for Hindu Americans to lead the country to Spirituality having got an entry into the major religion by physical relationship.    Otherwise progressively Hindu Americans too are more likely to join this group and turn atheists.   Original caste system (VARNA) was   society welfare oriented and faith in wise men called Gotra-Patis to guide the society irrespective of sex, caste or race.  They served the society voluntarily. There were no kings or political systems to rule then!  When Alexander the Great made an unsuccessful expedition to loot India he took back only a Spiritual Guru as his bounty.  Look today what has befallen the oldest people on earth in India! We can't even keep track of Castes and the number of Castes brought under scheduled and backward castes for political gains today against which there is a mild protest! We pride being secular and firm believers in Unity in Diversity.  We have   found a good phrase to harp on and say we are happy!

Mother tongue or language of Hindus is part of their personal, social and cultural identity. It is the language of one’s ethnic group regardless of actual proficiency. English language was accepted as the only language in USA by the founding fathers to bring unity among fighting factions. Also the European migrants were lazy to focus on languages without compulsion, unlike Asians who had natural instinct to preserve their mother tongue. With no opportunity to learn their mother tongue at schools the earliest European settlers lost touch with their mother tongue and with that lost their social and cultural identity. It is of prime importance for Hindu Americans to learn their mother tongue, besides acquiring proficiency in English for their existence and success. In Hindu worships the language used is Sanskrit. Sanskrit is also the mother of all languages and Vedas. If American Hindus want to preserve their cultural, social and ethnic identity and spiritually lead the country they have to necessarily learn Mother tongue at home from their parents and Sanskrit in their Religious Sunday Schools.  Sanskrit helps in improving their mother tongue unlike English. They have to revive Sanskrit form its dead-status and make it spoken language too! Hindus in India are accustomed to learn four languages--their Mother Tongue, Hindi, English and Regional Language. People in Hindi belt are required to learn only three languages. In my younger days in Colonial Rule run schools I learnt English, regional language and Sanskrit at school and Mother tongue from my parents.  If you want to benefit from the wisdom of Vedas and Upanishads you have to learn Sanskrit.


We, Hindu Americans live in a proudly non-secular Non-Asian country. Here, our religion may not be an integral part of our identity. We need not have to declare it in college applications or job applications Though in India it is a MUST.  It is something people would bring up in a casual conversation, something your future employer would ask you during an interview indirectly as to your ethnic background, and something you may have to indicate on your college application form to take advantage of minority preferences. Under no circumstances should you forget it, for it should dictate many your choices in life: your life-style, what you wear, whom you date (and marry).  
Here, you have the right to choose your own religion, and it’s a right protected by the constitution. Most of us have one since birth, of course. Our parents chose a religion for us, and we follow what they teach us until we are old enough to question them or convert into another for the sake of love.  But however hard the world tries to bind us into one, we would always live with two. The alternative best choice is to follow Vedanta Religion which is everlasting, universal and unifying Spirituality  for the couples drawn from two  different faiths who want to live in peace and harmony and also guide the children to develop spiritually serving the society.


My thoughts on the subject are further elaborated in the following discourse as posted on the Blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com>
1.      Multi Traditional Hindu Complexes  in USA Need Focus on Spirituality and Deities to Suit All (July 2015)
2.      One Hindu Temple Complex for Many Traditions Overseas (June 2012)
3.      Why I am Called Hindu  and My Following Hinduism (December 2015)
4.      Uncommon Understanding of the Unknown—His controllers and Worship (April 2016)
5.       Sravan Purnima is Ideal for Mass Worship by All Traditions like Diwali (August 2015)
6.       Festival of Lights—Ancient Tradition of Universal Appeal (December 2011)
7.      Sanskrit Language is Divine, Is Tamil Too (September 2014)

It is worth recollecting what Swami Bhaskarananda of Ramakrishna Math said about Vedic Religion: “Infinite Bliss is one of the principal aspects of Divinity.   Even when man pursues Kaama or Artha (the present goals of Migrant Hindus in fact all Migrants) focused on desires, ambitions and prosperity, he is unconsciously trying to reach his Divine Self—which is Infinite Bliss. Eternity, perfection, Absolute knowledge, Absolute Auspiciousness and beauty are included in this Divinity.  No matter how much pleasure or money one gets, it is human to crave for more. But he cannot find satisfaction through them. Because the joy that he gets from such pleasures or money is finite. Eventually he realizes that searching the Infinite Bliss through such finite external means will lead him nowhere.

This awareness inspires him to turn around and consciously search for that fountain of Infinite Bliss within himself. When he arrives at this personal source of Infinite Bliss, all his wants and cravings disappear. He then experiences God--the all-pervading Divinity—both within himself and without. He experiences God as the essence of everything and every being. He transcends all suffering, fear and sorrow. In this state any interaction with the world is a most joyous and rewarding experience, because it is no other than directly interacting with God. He sees   himself as a part of Divine play where God is playing all the roles, including his own. He can no longer identify with his body-mind-complex which is subject to birth, change, decay and death. He gains the unshakable conviction that he is the eternal Divine Spirit—deathless and birth-free”.

To quote Swami Vivekananda: “No longer will religion remain a bundle of ideas or theories, an intellectual assent; it will enter into our very self.  By means of intellectual assent we may today subscribe to many foolish things, and change our minds altogether tomorrow. But true religion never changes. Religion is realization; not talk, nor doctrine, nor theories, however beautiful they may be! It is being and becoming changed into what it believes. That is Vedanta Religion”.

One of my Eulogist Philosophic and Philanthropic Participants has beautifully summarized my  above thought as follows: “Let us focus our thoughts about Hinduism on its present state and its survival for future and what one should do with dedication and commitment so that it will thrive survive and grow and grow for generations to come.  And for that we have to inspire the hearts and minds of younger generation with simple lessons of instructions and to make them involved in cultural activities at home and in temples and in society.  We have to guide and teach them how to incorporate culture of Vedanta Religion in deeds thoughts in actions and in everything that they do. This should reflect in Hindu culture, customs and rituals, subtly incorporated in everything, subconsciously and consciously in their act, in their talk, in their walk, when awake, when asleep and state in between, becoming a mirror reflections about Hinduism and Hindu culture in their words they choose to speak even in silence and they should reflect Hindu culture in every breath they take; in every heartbeat they hear should resound Hinduism and Hindu culture”.

He did not stop with his summary but has sent his Eulogy on Hindu scriptures and Sanatana Dharma, what can be called an Introduction to Hindu American Vedanta   similar to  the work of Dr. Phil Goldberg   the author of American  Veda, brief and crisp though not exhaustive as American Veda. This ballad will inspire Hindu Americans to go deep into Gita, Vedas, Upanishads and Sanatana Dharma. It will be an excellent idea to include this as necessary part of curricula for the students of Sunday School Vedic Heritage classes and make it the main subject for their final year studies and discussions.  Much time and thought has been spent on it.  They are Sindhu Tattva Bodha to the young mind, nay to busy Hindu American mind. These are much more assimilative and impressive to busy Hindu Americans practicing Sindhu Tattva than my long and tiring research based discourses.  

[Hinduism today is neither the exclusive religion of India nor Christianity of USA.  Both of them   have not declared any one religion as the State Religion like Germany. Hinduism and Christianity are world religions though their followers often exist in small pockets in many countries. All Hindus living in USA are not born in India. Hindu Americans include all who practice Hinduism emigrated from many parts of the world including those who are inter-racially married as well as otherwise practicing Sindhu Tattava. Those who migrated from India have the right to call themselves as Indian Americans to keep their secular political identity. USA and India both believe in keeping religion out of their political identity. My Identity of Hindu American does not indicate I am a native of India. Should I therefore disclose my identity as Indian American for even Asian American does not seem to be appropriate! Our  race  is very difficult to identify.]


Highlights of Hindu Plentitude and Perception

SONG OF DIVINE (BHAGAVAD GITA)

Song of divine showers sunshine/
Essence of Vedas in every grain/
Brings euphoria like drinking wine/
Spreads joy even in drops of rain/

 Glory of Gita is beyond description/
 Esoteric doctrines reverberates loud /
 Spoken word of God in transcription/
 Sweet and simple with truth endowed/

Each word in itself is profound without end/
Reveals glorious virtues of mysterious God/
Showing the mortal souls a spiritual wend/
Shares new facets of truth and more to prod/

Emanated from God's lips is song of divine/
Embodies melody of heaven in plain verse/
Encrypted with secrets guiding us to refine/
Engages thoughts about cosmic law in terse/

Basics to explore the song of divine is reverence/
Don't matter what color creed gender or doctrine/
All it needs is full devotion to God with deference/
Show he will to his devotees the way to his shrine/

Being aware God is pervasive begins the journey/
Embodiment of truth, bliss, consciousness is God/
Knowing everything belongs to God brings harmony/
Working and surrendering self to him will bring a nod/

Bow to Narayana the supreme deity of universe/
Who is extolled by all other deities with hymns/              
By Bhakti Jnana Dhyana invoke him singing praise/
Bestow he will whole life with Moksha to the brim/

 Surrender the soul to Narayana in every breath/
 Find you will the secret to the ultimate liberation /
 Worship him in sincerity to see the sanctified truth/
 Wake up you will in the world of bliss of salvation/

 Become devotee of Sriman Narayana with devotion/
 Sail you will on the smooth waves of the life's ocean/
 Utter his name with love he will calm your commotion/
 Ecstasy will be in your reach in the path that's chosen/

 OH BENEVOLENT LORD

 Oh Benevolent Lord/
I entreat to be heard/
Seeking your guidance/
Offering I am obeisance/

Fill our hearts with devotion/
Fill our souls with illumination/
Lead us to our salvation/
Show your benediction/

Oh benevolent Lord/
Bless us with accord/
Sanctify divine chord/
Shower us sacrosanct word/

Take away our ignorance/
We seek your providence/
Omnipresence is your presence/
Divine light of our conscience/

Oh benevolent Lord/
Be our eternal guard/
Sing we will your praise/
Beginning every sunrise/

Take away our temptations/
Instill in us your divinations/
Share your myriad of forms/
We chant your divine name/

Oh benevolent Lord/
Bless us life’s concord/
Accept our salutations/
Offer we will prostrations/


Almighty instill your values/
Fill our minds with virtues/
Take away our weakness/
Lead us from our darkness/

SANATANA DHARMA 
Sacred Sanatana Dharma is truly Monolithic it is epic/
Grown from the divine's kernel it is perpetually vernal/
Quilted with wisdom of sages has been scripted for ages/
Over the time has been reformed structured and affirmed/

Enduring changes redeeming it's essence is still blooming/
Whelped on valleys of Indus river with singular shimmer/
Amassing rituals and customs starting from the bottom/
Becoming lifestyle of millions showcasing distinct vision/

Sacred Sanatana Dharma is ingrained divinely ordained/
Disseminating way yonder beyond borders with wonder/
Believing in celestial beliefs rites scattering ambrosial light/
Spreading the theology with scriptures of sacred mythology/

Based on teachings of intellects in many different contexts/
Passed on from learned teachers and written scriptures/
Contemplating about life's beginnings living and practicing/
Discussing different views wiling to modify along the course/

Sacred Sanatana Dharma is sanctified, values re magnified/
Based it is on contrary philosophy and diverse theosophy/
No single doctrine or dogma based it is purely on Dharma/
Diverse in its opinions free to choose assorted ideas to muse/

Oldest religious traditions practiced for many generations/
Source it is of many other religions with eternal divine visions/
Inscribed by sage's spiritual experience of God's omnipresence/
Vaidika --Dharma based on Vedas grace religion for soul's solace/

Religion without restrictions free to pursue any individual way/
Another sacred path to follow to dwell to embrace to think to pray /
Encompasses all questions of universe with attempts to answer/
Shares respect all other existing faith beliefs hope and prayer/

Does not Impose any one doctrine to anyone to find salvation/
Philosophy is of Vedantha Sankya Yoga Panchatattva tradition/

Another means to search for ultimate joy with innate insights/
Various practices is conformed with harmonious unifying thoughts/

Tolerance it shows for other mode of religious discipline in sincerity /
Principles are mountain high sublime singular with texture of serenity/
Showers peace joy in practice of Yoga uniting mind body and soul/
Lodestar for seekers of Moksha showing way to make life whole/

HINDUISM

Sculpted is Hinduism in stone with basic principles/
Humanity as a whole stands on its divine morals/
Splice it anyway heavenly truth is inner essence/
Necessity is not there to glorify with special reverence/

Evolved by Srutis it is religion of divine revelation/
Absence of any one author it is intuitional instruction/
Vedaa Amanyaas are scriptures of almighty divine/
Source of solace for all times like rain and sunshine/

Eternal truth of God revealed to Rishis by thought/
Sprinkled all over earth by Seers of spiritual hearts/
Spiritual experience of Rishis of yore is Hinduism/
It is not just an embodiment of any kind of idealism/

Scriptures of Hinduism is revelations from beyond/
Teachings of the creator celestial it is to withstand/
Preaching it is not of any one Messiah or Prophet/
Lasting truth of divine for every moment every context/

Embodiment of divine are Vedas eternal knowledge/
No beginning no end always alive on life's every page/
Hinduism is script to learn to experience life on earth/
Defining designing paths deliberately for life after death/

Hinduism has no ISM it is purely collection of divine laws/
Free to choose to practice to experience to live to engross/
Description of multitude of views, opinions of life as a whole/
Showing diverse ways to realize Brahman in one's inner soul/

Evolved over years through spirituality of saints and Sages/
Built is Hindu Philosophy on texture of sacred knowledge/
Unbiased fundamentals resists all other idealistic influence/
Gospel it is of oneness with invisible Brahman's radiance/


Religion of freedom embracing diverse paths to salvation/
Another philosophical means to end in soul's emancipation/
Not based on   any one set of dogmas or any one teaching/
Scriptures are many to choose from searching life's meaning/

Judge it will not other religious beliefs and other sects of faiths/
Engages in discussion of honoring appreciating diverse truths/
Hindu sects are myriads but exists side by side in just harmony/
Sowing the seeds of perpetual peace in life's mortal journey /

Smritis are guidance for living are volumes of books of laws/
Essence is same meanings are many for individuals to draw/
Changes to modify on context of time to suit the Moment/
Rules to follow in every breath unto uphold Dharma's intent/

Four Ithihasas are expanse of all Vedas inner essence/
Explained are universal truths in stories of reverence/
Gospel of Yoga BHAGAVAD Gita emblem of divinity/
Spiritual guide for bliss of Moksha for all humanity/

Puranas Agamas Darsanas adds to Hindu philosophy/
Sutras Bhasyas Vritis Vartikas Upanishads confers legacy/
Shubhashithas Kavyas Natakas Alankars holy literatures/
Entirety of writings enlightening Hindu cultural scriptures/

Scriptures to melt darkness ignorance of human mind/
Source to attain perfection of immortality of eternal kind/
Resource to become one with Brahman Parabrahman/
Divine ways means methods to nurture individual Atman/

Dharma holds the whole world in harmonious unity/
Divine law weaved in unique cosmic love of divinity/
Observed it should be in deeds in creeds in reality/
Refuge it is for all for peace happiness and serenity/

Dharma brings closer to oneness with God almighty/
Paves purity path for attainment of spirituality/
Ways and means it is to build world of lasting peace/
Steps to climb to the highest mantle of eternal bliss/

Sanatana dharma is truth based on Sruti's theme/
Depth it has of various imagination of God supreme/
Composed it is in the words of divine consciousness/
Bring it will in every breath love of divine's awareness/

Blessed is Hinduism with countless spiritual souls /
Each adding virtues showing ways to divine goals/
Instilling source of communion with Supreme Being/
Opening minds hearts souls to hear divine calling/

  
REFERENCES:
1.      Swami Vivekananda, Vedanta the Future Religion, Advaita Ashram, Kolkata, India.
2.      Swami Vimalananda, MNU, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
3.      Anbil Ramaswamy, A Critical Study of Hinduism, Sri Ranga Sri, USA.
4.      N.R. Srinivasan, Why I am A Hindu & Uncommon Understanding of The Unknown, Hindu Reflections, <nrsrini.blogspot.com>
5.      http://nrsrini.blogspot.com/2012/09/da-da-dadama-daya-and-daana.html
6.      Private Communication, Dr. Ram Prasad, HTE Participant, Hindu Reflections.
7.      Robert Arnett, India Unveiled, Atmen Press, Georgia, USA.
8.      Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
9.      Huff Post, Did Jesus Predict Muhammad? A Biblical Portal between Christianity and Islam








APPENDIX-I


Basis for Positive Life through Yoga and Vedanta
Posted by The Editor | Sep 27, 2011 | IndiaDivine.Org
Meaning: (Rath nabhi ara iva) means similar to the spokes of a wheel, (yasmin rucha) which has Rigveda, knowledge, (Sam) means Samveda, worship (Yasmin Prajanam) which is for the public, for the humans, (Sarva chittam) all the souls (Otam) is felt, (tat se manah) that is my mind (shiv sankalpamastu) should be having auspicious resolutions.
Prose meaning: Oh supreme intellectual God! Bless me that Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharveda should be present in my mind just like the spokes of the wheel and which should contain the pure conscious having the feelings for the public and humans, it should remove my ignorance and always filled with knowledge.
Definition: God is being worshipped to fill the individual’s mind with auspicious thoughts. What does it mean? The mind is filled with resolutions and alternatives. It is very unstable and does not get peace even for a second. Arjuna’s words narrate the difficulty in controlling it and stabilizing it.
The mind travels in all corners. Auspicious and inauspicious resolutions arise in the mind. Everybody knows that inauspicious resolutions are harmful for the interest of the society, nation and the entire mankind. Therefore it is necessary to restrict the flow of such desires, resolutions and bring in only pure and clean thoughts. The first three stages of the mantra describ  the qualities of the human mind:
1. Our mind is filled with all the Vedas (knowledge) just like a wheel, which is filled with spokes. Our mind possesses complete knowledge of this world, Supreme world, materialistic world, spiritualistic world, soul and the Supreme Soul. In other words, whatever is associated with the human world.
2. The consciousness of every individual is in the mind. These two qualities of mind may generate doubts. The biggest query that strikes in our mind is that if our mind has the knowledge of entire world, then what is the necessity for education and training? The second doubt is that spiritual knowledge is considered to give salvation to the soul. A person who has the collective knowledge of soul and supreme soul gets salvation. If human mind possesses this knowledge, then why does he experience happy and sorrow things? Why does he undergo so much of pain and agony? Why does he overcome struggle in life? The biggest question is that why does he has to pray to develop auspicious resolutions in his mind? We have to fulfill the purpose for which the God has created us and find answers to our queries. We have to first understand the human mind. What is mind? Indian spiritual Gurus have described it as a part of our inner soul. Inner soul is collection of intelligence, soul and ego. Mind is the strength, which our mind thinks off. The soul is the power, which thinks. The capacity to differentiate between right and wrong is intelligence. Ego experiences all these things. This is a very broad classification of inner soul. We should understand that all these four powers are not different from each other. Truth is that they are four different names of consciousness. When our soul performs different tasks, it is known with different names. Few examples will clarify this point.
When the highest official of the district fulfills the duties towards public governance, he is called district administrator. When he gives judicial decision he is called district magistrate. The same person, sitting on the same chair plays two different roles.
Another example, highest judge of district is known with two different names. When he deals with civil matters he is civil judge and when he hears the criminal cases he is known as session judge. Same judge, occupying the same chair is known with two different names. Yet another example, will clarify the point in a better way. Every individual is called with different names, A person can be a professor in the college , he may be a businessman at other time , a traveller while traveling in a plane, car or train, when he is purchasing, he is a customer, he fulfills multiple roles in the family and therefore known with different names. He may be a son, husband, brother, uncle, father, grandfather etc. A person’s name changes with the change in place, position, time relation, and action. The same can be said with relation to the four parts of our inner soul -mind, intelligence, consciousness and ego. However, all the names apply to the consciousness. When the function differs, the name of the consciousness differs. Hence in the above verse, the word ‘mind’ is not used for ordinary mind, it used to represent human consciousness. This human consciousness is a part of world consciousness, which is omnipresent, omnipotent, permanent, immortal and extremely minute in form. It is the treasure trove of all knowledge and science. These streams connect him to the life in the same way as the spokes connect the wheel to its center. The entire knowledge and science of this world rests in the consciousness, which is experienced every moment.
Consciousness of life is expressed, whereas consciousness of the world is hidden. Goswami Tulsidas has expressed this fact in the following way.
The basic consciousness is hidden, present in all directions, simple, happy, it has the knowledge,  and it bears the knowledge and provides it. Life consciousness is the confused state of mind. This confused state of mind is illusion and the basic consciousness takes the form of life from this illusion. Our religion and spiritual texts, express the same fact in different ways. Illusion, lack of understanding, anger and ignorance (due to excessive darkness of mind) are different names of the confused state of mind. These are basically false, but appear to be true due to ignorance and confusion. Goswami Tulsidas has termed them “Keet” and “Markat” which means insect and spider respectively. The hunter who catches the parrot uses a particular kind of stick, which is straight and has a long stick attached to it. He ties a fruit on its end. When the parrot sits on the stick to eat the fruit the stick turns upside down and the parrot also turns upside down. The parrot thinks that the stick has caught hold of it whereas the fact is that it has caught the stick. In this confusion the parrot comes into the trap of hunter.
A similar story about a monkey is also very interesting. There was a monkey, who was very enthusiastic. One day the owner wanted to teach him a lesson. He kept a pot with a small opening in the backyard. He showed a laddu to the monkey and put it inside the pot. Monkey looked here and there, did not find anybody and thought of taking away the sweet. He put his hand inside the pot and caught hold of laddu and tried to take out his hand form the pot. His hand got stuck inside the pot. If he would leave the laddu he could have removed his hand from the pot. But he did not leave the sweet and thought that the pot had caught hold of his hand. The owner came with a stick and the monkey ran sway with the pot. The situation was very serious. The monkey was still believing that the pot had caught its hand.
Tulsidas has tried to explain these two instances. He says that the consciousness mind has the illusion of false and truth also. He suffers because of this illusion.
Ignorance and illusion is the root cause. We believe that it has combined with the consciousness. Though this knot is not true but it appears to be true. This is illusion. Due to this illusion the human mind fails to understand the knowledge and the man does not experience science. The illusion can be overcome with the knowledge and training of a Guru and can understand the form of knowledge and science. In another instance – take out a burning coal from the fire and keep it aside. After sometime you will see that it is covered with ash and the fire will submerge in the ash. Where did the ash come from? Has it come from somewhere outside? The ash has not come from outside, it is the transformed form of the fire, in which it has submerged. But the ash has covered its basic form of fire. We cannot say that there is no fire at that place, it is there but it is covered with ash. We are able to see only the ash.
Knowledge and science are within the human mind, but it is covered with ignorance and darkness just like the fire, which is covered with ash. We need the proximity of a guru to wash out this ignorance. As soon as the ash is removed we can see the fire within it. Unless the disillusion does not get removed from human mind, the brighter side will not be visible. We need yoga, devotion, (guru’s guidance, knowledge and understanding to remove this cover of illusion. What is the difference between distilled water and sewage water?  Both are of same form, both are water. The only difference is the filth. Distilled water is pure, clean and the sewage water is dirty, filthy and impure. We have to sieve the dirty water to make it clean, we have to carry several water purification processes to clean it. In the same way we have to remove the confusion and filth from our mind to bring life conscious-ness parallel to the basic consciousness. For this purpose we need a Guru, study classical texts and scriptures and take the shelter of yoga and devotion.
As far as the second doubt is concerned i.e., how can the souls of all live forms be present in the mind? The above example has clarified this point also. The world consciousness is one and cannot be divided. There is no difference between the people that only appears to be there. When a thorn hurts us we feel the pain, similar pain is experience by the animals. There can be difference in the intensity of the pain, but the pain is same. There is no difference in the happiness-unhappiness, sorrow-joy, fear-terror at the level of our lives, all the animals from an insect to an elephant there is no difference in experiences.
Therefore it has been said in the mantra that the soul lies in the mind, consciousness and in all the creatures. This is our soul, which contains knowledge-science in the form of spokes of the wheel. The soul should be filled with beneficial resolutions.
Let the soul be removed of all the filth and illusion from the mind So that we can meet the soul in the way the fire becomes visible when the ash is removed. We should be able to remove our ignorance and submerge in the world consciousness. Let us all pray the Supreme God that he fills our mind with auspicious resolutions."
APPENDIX II
Swami Chidananda on Yogi
A yoga practitioner is a Yogi. But who is a Yogi?
You are you a yogi when your daily life has no fragmentation. In Geeta 6.46, Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to become a yogi.  "Tasmaad yogi bhava Arjuna! तस्माद् योगी भव अर्जुन !

"If we say one thing but do something else, our life is fragmented. If we show an image of ours but we are something else inside, that is a division. Our values are pointed towards A but our actions move in the direction of B; then we are divided. To remove these contradictions - by alert living supported by energy optimization - can make us yogis." To sum up,   when body, mind and spirit are in unison one becomes a Yogi

APPENDIX III



Does South Asian Studies  Undermine India?
(By Rajiv Gupta)
 
'You have to be as careful giving away your money as you were in making it'
-- Bill Gates
The Clinton administration made an official policy concerning India which the Bush administration has continued even further, namely, to decouple India from Pakistan, and to reposition India as a major geopolitical player in its own right. Likewise, the US corporate world has started to re-imagine India in this new light, seeing it as a positive force on the world stage.
However, many social sciences and liberal arts scholars are still entrenched in the rhetoric of 'South Asia' that emerged during the Cold War, in which India is lumped as one of eight problematic countries whose nuisance value is to be contained. While India's accomplishments are nowadays being used to boost the image of its neighboring South Asian countries, in return, India gets associated with South Asian terrorism, violence, human rights problems and backwardness. Ironically, India's culture gets blamed, and a rejection of Indian-ness by Indian students is encouraged as a marker of progressiveness.
American business schools report that India has become the most important country that students wish to study, in order to understand the future world economy and technological opportunities. Yet, the humanities departments run by scholars alienated from India are escalating their exaggerated and one-sided portrayals of India as dysfunctional and as a human rights cesspool.
There are over a thousand full-time humanities scholars in the US specializing in some aspect of India. The India Studies industry consists of the development of knowledge about India, as well as its distribution and retailing. It includes India-related academic research, school and college education about India and its culture, media portrayals of India, independent think tanks' work on India, government policy making on India and corporate strategic planning on India. The impact of India Studies also includes the diffusion of ideas about India to Indians, many of whom are ignorant and/or even suffer from cultural shame.
This article explores how India Studies directly or indirectly informs American perceptions of India, its products and services, and of the Indian-American minority. Secondly, this article suggests practical strategic directions to bring balance and objectivity into India Studies.
It is important for Indian-Americans to participate in academic funding along the same lines as Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Arab-Americans and others already do. However, unlike these other communities, Indian-Americans have not yet done enough systematic research before strategizing and investing in the academic system.
Meanwhile, affluent Indian-Americans' pocketbooks have been targeted by many US industries, and now university fundraisers have established aggressive goals to solicit donations from them. When I recently learned that many Indian-American corporate executives had become active in India-related causes, I was, indeed, hopeful that high management standards of due diligence and strategic planning would be applied prior to their donations. However, many donors have not addressed critical questions before funding India Studies programs.
There has been an aggressive campaign across American campuses to construct an artificial new identity for Indian students, known as 'South Asian,' by denigrating 'Indian' as being inferior and/or less politically correct. Aditi Banerjee, a law student at Yale University, is one of the courageous whistleblowers challenging the legitimacy of the category of 'South Asian' identity.
Many eminent Indian-American donors are being led down the garden path by Indian professors who, ironically, assemble a team of scholars to undermine Indian culture. Rather than an Indian perspective on itself and the world, these scholars promote a perspective on India using worldviews which are hostile to India's interests. Sophisticated terms are used which appear very scholarly, such as highlighting the plight of the 'sub-nationals,' by which they mean Indian minorities repositioned by the scholars as not being Indian and whose human rights are championed via separatist movements.
What the donors must appreciate is that the Indians on the faculties have their career loyalties to the universities and the larger funding system that sustains the academy today. Furthermore, in many cases, the ideologies of the humanities scholars run counter to the Indian-American donors' vision of India as a free-market oriented, unified and pluralistic, economic power.
India Studies Distribution Channels
Serious academic scholarship about India is rarely in the hands of scholars with loyalty to India. On the other hand, China Studies is now largely under the control of China. China's universities produce China Studies scholars for domestic academic positions and for export to the universities worldwide. Its government organizes prestigious academic conferences in China and funds journals so that academic careers do not depend on impressing Western institutions.
To use a business metaphor, what is at stake is analogous to brand management. Unlike China, India is abandoning its brand management, and, by default, leaving it in the hands of third parties, inclusive of competitors.
One Indian-American complained that my brand management metaphor was 'amusing and offensive.' But just last week, there is an article in The New York Times precisely on the importance of nations building brands and managing them professionally. Titled, 'When Nations Need a Little Marketing,' it mentions how Germany, Britain, New Zealand, among others, have been doing this.
The following diagram shows the structure of the knowledge industry concerning countries like India and China, and its relationship to Western frameworks and controls. China controls the production and distribution of knowledge about it, whereas Indians are largely consumers of knowledge about India. Many Indians who are producers/distributors serve non-Indian institutions and ideologies.
An academic chair is a knowledge production center of very high leverage, and has the potential to do a lot of good or a lot of harm. Therefore, any donor should scrutinize the outputs from a given department (dissertations, research papers, books, conferences and campus events), because funding a chair would be a force multiplier for whatever ideological tilts lie entrenched there. This concentration of power is exacerbated by the fact that humanities scholars within a given discipline typically have an inner circle or cabal that closes ranks, vitiating the process of peer reviews. Ideologies and political agendas often drive the direction and interpretation of research, producing vastly distorted images of the subject. There is a strong case for independent external audits by the funding sources to monitor standards of rigor, objectivity and quality.
Role of US Universities in India's Brand Positioning
Universities have a high leverage in influencing American foreign policy and domestic attitudes towards minority cultures, for the following reasons:
1. Media: Universities influence the media by educating the next generation of journalists, and professors are often quoted and interviewed as 'experts.'
2. Government: The government is influenced because i. think tanks are usually linked to universities, ii. Government staff is trained in universities' International Studies departments, iii. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom uses professors to help determine which countries must be red-flagged for sanctions for violating religious freedom, and iv. the US Congress has hearings on human rights. Furthermore, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the International Court, institutions of the European Union and United Nations, and other transnational groups call upon academic scholars to testify and help formulate policy.
3. Business: Business schools' degree programs and executive seminars inform corporate strategies on international activities, and professors influence globalization and investment directions.
4. Education: Colleges train schoolteachers. Many textbooks and reference works are written by professors.
5. Indian-American identities: Indian students' identities are shaped in their formative years in colleges, because this is when they first leave home. Young Indian intellectuals often follow the footsteps of Western scholars.
To illustrate this, consider a major issue today where academic scholars could be helping India. This is the outsourcing controversy in the USA -- as to whether it is good or bad for the US. The deafening silence of most scholars of South Asian Studies is noteworthy. Yet, the very same scholars have lobbied against India's human rights record at various public and policymaking forums and in campus seminars. This is to be contrasted with the pro-Pakistan appearances on US television and in media interviews by a predictable set of scholars, both Pakistanis and their Indian colleagues. (Note that the business schools have supported India's case for outsourcing, but not the South Asian Studies departments.)
The study of India is spread across several disciplines. Each discipline has its own standard filters, often built on postcolonial Marxism, which determine the scholars selected, what topics and methods they use, and the meta-narratives they apply. The disciplines in which India Studies are found are:
1. Anthropology that uses the lens of caste, cows and curry exotica, often based on unscientific dogmas about class conflicts.
2. History that continues to be based on recycling colonial and/or Marxist frameworks in many cases.
3. South Asian Studies (often an umbrella for all disciplines to be brought together) which is shaped by US foreign policy and focuses on nukes, Kashmir, terrorism, internal conflicts and divide-and-rule ideas.
4. Religious Studies which is based on the use of mainly non-Indian categories. This discipline is witnessing a recent trend to interpret Indian culture using Freudian theories to eroticize, denigrate and trivialize Indian spirituality. For a recent major flare-up concerning the academic denigration of Ganesha, and the Diaspora response to it, see: http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=305890
5. Media and Journalism perpetuates many stereotypes created by the other disciplines.
6. Literature and English project the narratives of English language authors from India, whose often self-alienated identities are hardly positive or genuine representations of Indian culture. Unfortunately, many intellectuals in Indian are emulating these standards.
Each discipline has its own conferences, journals, chairs, 'insiders' and 'gatekeepers,' and established funding sources. India Studies is largely funded and controlled by the following institutions: 1. Western (mainly US) universities, 2. US foundations (both religious and secular), 3. various Western academic associations for the humanities, 4. US State Department and National Endowment for Humanities, 5. Christian seminaries,  6. Democratic and Republican thinktanks, and 7. Western human rights institutions.
It is normal, and expected, that the US would fund vast amounts of study pertaining to every region of the world from its own perspective. In fact, there is a recent bill in the US Congress that would further strengthen the federal government's grip on South Asian Studies in order to make it reflect US foreign policy interests. This is natural, and merely formalizes and publicly acknowledges what was always the case. The problem is not that others study India (which is, in fact, healthy input from the outside); the problem is lack of support for India-centric studies from institutions that have India's best interests and image in mind. Chinese, Arabs, Pakistanis, Japanese and Koreans have far greater control over the discourse concerning their respective brands.
The last two centuries of Indological studies have focused on the themes of divisiveness among Indians.This is today accomplished by constructing identities of victimhood with other Indians depicted as culprits: i. Western feminists are telling Indian women that they are victims of Indian culture. ii. Dalit activists are being sponsored to blame Brahmins.   The divisive Aryan theory is being used as 'fact' to construct a separate Dravidian identity and to 'Aryanize' North Indians as foreign culprits. And iv. India's English language media is sometimes subverting traditions by glorifying everything Western and denigrating or ignoring everything indigenous.
The ultimate game plan of such scholarship is to facilitate the conceptual breakup of India, by encouraging the paradigms that oppose its unity and integrity. Many humanities scholars blatantly promote smaller nation states instead of one India.
South Asian Studies
The activities of scholars in each relevant discipline need to be studied. For example, there are over 500 scholars formally associated with South Asian Studies in American universities, and over half of them are of Indian origin, having been carefully groomed to fit the intellectual mold.
Yet, no Indian institution has systematically tracked the topics that the South Asian Studies scholars select and why, who funds this work, and the trends that underlie the theses of the past 25 years. Professional managers in corporate America would never justify investment in a field without first having answered such basic questions. They would be alert and suspicious to the keen interest shown in them by other players in the industry. Indian-American donors need to be more vigilant.
India, like China, deserves to be studied in its own right. It is one of the five or so great civilizations of humankind and world centers of the future. 'South Asian' studies often limit India by bracketing it with 'Pakistan' -- as mirror-images and/or as opposites -- and naturally gravitate to conflict rather than studying India in its own right. (Pakistan also deserves to be given a chance to develop a stand-alone identity that is not dependent upon India, positively or negatively.)
The very grouping known as 'South Asia' is a US State Department construction under a foreign policy initiative known as 'area studies' started during the Cold War. However, Indians may prefer to identify with Southeast Asia rather than South Asia. Shouldn't Indians make this critical choice of classification and framework rather than being dictated to by foreign think tanks and academics? In this regard, China controls its brand management, while India is simply being led.
SAJA (South Asian Journalists Association) illustrates how some institutions with the 'South Asian' nomenclature are compromising India's interests. SAJA consistently placates Pakistan. Its 5 percent Pakistani members leverage the collective power of SAJA to neutralize the 95 percent Indian members. Hence, it cannot write critically of Pakistan, leave alone assert a pro-India stance on Kashmir and other issues. But Pakistanis have a separate Pakistani Journalists Association in parallel, and, are also proud leaders of Pan-Islamic movements on campuses. They, clearly, do not suffer from cultural or identity shame. The Pakistani government is a silent but active force in these situations.
Are NRI donors being hoodwinked?
Now that many Indian-Americans are joining the bandwagon to establish chairs of South Asian Studies in the USA, one wonders whether they have thought through and contractually ensured that their funding would not be usurped by Pakistani interest groups (including Indians with this agenda). Pakistanis demand equal power in South Asian organizations. Even though they are numerically smaller and contribute much less funding, they usually end up getting an equal say in such organizations.
Therefore, it is critical that we do not blindly assume that Indian scholars are always honest trustees of the Indian-American donors' sentiments. Many Indian scholars are weak in the pro-India leadership and assertiveness traits that come only from strongly identifying with an Indian Grand Narrative.
They regard the power of Grand Narrative (other than their own) as a cause of human rights problems internally, failing to see it as an asset in global competition externally. Hence, there is the huge difference between the ideology of many Indian professors and the ideology espoused by most successful Indian-American corporate leaders. These Indian professors have a track record that shows a strong ideological stance against a unified India, often formulated using the latest literary theories that are grounded in Marxism, the very anti-thesis of the meritocracy that most successful Indian-American corporate leaders stand for. It is ironical that donors are naively funding such South Asian chairs.

[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above    as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other  discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further.  These  lectures are  posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done. ]