Thursday, July 28, 2016


Hindus are most Suited to Promote Spirituality the World Needs Today
(Compilation for a discourse by N. R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, USA, July 2016)

Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves  and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all.

We come across people who are fed up with blind belief and faith of religion say "I am spiritual, but not religious" as a way of identifying their approach to the divine. Now-a-days in USA in Inter-faith meetings we come across more people referring to their spiritual practices.  We meet Spiritual leaders exposed to Jain, Sikh, Bud­dhist, Hindu, Kabbalistic, Gnostic, Native American, Druid, Mayan, and a host of other forms of spiritual­ity in such meets. All these cross currents of   spiritual thinking can easily confuse a person attending such meets to get to know about Spirituality.

Spirituality gives a general feeling that it is something like religion but for most people the meaning of the word is unclear. The ordinary view is that spiri­tual things are directed towards higher worlds removed from what is regarded as the "real world." in which we feel pain and pleasure.   Various definitions given in the dictionary do not help us either.  The dictionary defines "spiritual" as "incor­poreal," "affecting the soul of man," "pertaining to God," "sacred or religious," etc. While all of this gives different kinds of meaning, it does not lead us much to our own inner call and approach to our inner spirit.  We do not have an etymology for the word God.   But, the etymology of the word Spirit however gives us an idea. The root for the word "spirit" is spiritus, the Latin word for "breath." At the most basic physiological level the breath sustains life. In much religious sym­bolism it is the breath (spirit) that actually brings life into being. In the Bible God "breathed the breath of life" into Adam.

The word God is not based on any root or etymology in English.  It is coined after three English letters G, O and D. Here G stands from Generation or Creation which Hindu scriptures call as Srishthi or Creation. O stands for Operation which Hindu Sastras mention as Sthithi or Sustenance.  D stands for Dissolution which Hindu scriptures call as Laya or Destroyer. This meaning is given in the Webster Dictionary and is not my creation.  These are the three acts of Supreme Being in his emanation as Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer and Siva the Destroyer. Hinduism further says Srishti, Sthiti and Laya are of cyclic nature and perennial.  

Hindu pundits claim everything has a Hindu Origin and dig deep into the very rich and ancient Sanskrit language. The English term God was originally a Sanskrit word taken from Vedas and mentioned several times in Bhagavad Gita and also in Pranaahuti Mantra (MNU) as Hutam.  Hutam means smoke arising from an offering made into sacred fire ceremony, Homam.  Hutam became “Gutam” in German, Goot in Dutch and God in English from Got. Now the word GOD that stands for the One and only  stands for Supreme Reality in English. It does not have a special root meaning in English.

But how did Dharma concept was visualized by the civilized world then which resorted to Homa. The smoke arising from the Homa was a minor irritant. It needed to be set right by looking into the fagots. So this smoke is the one that drives or inspires to do things right. So they called the smoke as God (one that sets things right).  You know from MNU how Ghee was considered as Vyahriti (emanation) of Supreme Being.  This was considered as a large irritant for open air theological discourse (Aranyaka).  The smoke rises high and covers everything from sight as Maya.  God was called Yogamaya.  As the smoke is ever expanding it was visualized as brihat in Sanskrit that which is expanding and so they called the unknown as Brahman.  Svadha the word used in offerings stands for: Sva=one’s own and Dha=intention or offering.   Also Swaha: swa=self ha=yes. Therefore they searched this prompting from within.    Therefore they concluded Yagna is God and so called him Yajnapurusha (Tvam Yajnastvam Brahmastvam--MNU). So they called this Right Act (Truth or Sat) or Dharma is arising out of Consciousness (Chit) to bring Ananda (Happiness) and so they coined the word Sacchidananda (Truth-Conscientiousness--Bliss). So Hutam gave birth to God or the Yajna was the motivator to know the unknown. So the word God is Universal which the English has taken pride as their own and also talk of their own God as if all others  refer to different Gods--(Do not bow unto any other God--Ten Commandments)

The most convincing explanation for spirituality can be found in Upanishads which are often referred as Vedanta.  In Vedanta   universes are breathed out and breathed in. It is cyclic in nature.  Swami Vivekananda referred to it in his speech in Chicago a century back as Vedanta—Religion of the Future. It even gives a convincing explanation of what God is.

“Is there something beyond right and wrong?” Nachiketa, the teenager hero of Kathopanishad asks Lord Yama. As the third boon, he rejects countless material prospects and insists on getting spiritual wisdom. “Is there some truth that you behold,” he continues, “which defies time and causation?” This question is a fine example of the heights of philosophical contemplation that the Upanishads are known for. The webinar of Swami Chidanada Mission has examined the significance of this amazing query and has thrown light on the connection between Self-knowledge and the leap beyond virtue, time and causation.

I have often talked about how our worship should focus on Spirituality.  The progress from religious practices to spiritual concentration is progressive.  When I want to become religious, what do I really mean? The meaning is I have immediately differentiated between the kind of life that I wish to live, and the kind of life that I have been accustomed to. All that is necessary to enable us to perceive Truth behind the curtain is the discipline spoken of, as anything that will give us a temporary satisfaction through the sense organs and the body is that which has to be abandoned for the time being. When you are after something, you have to pursue it. When you are an investigating scientist in a laboratory and you are pursuing a course of tremendously important investigation into the structural pattern of certain subtle things, you will not remember whether it is lunchtime or breakfast time, or whether it is daytime or night time, or whether anybody is there around you at all. An automatic discrimination takes place in the laboratory because of the concentration of the mind on what is there before one’s aim, and all other things become redundant.

A few years ago Boyd Tim  of American Theosophical  Society  wrote  that  the word  Spirituality was being overused  and  predicted that at this rate  soon "spiritual" would become a marketing term. There would be spiri­tual clothing, spiritual gym shoes and spiritual spas.  He is not wrong.  You all know how YMCA has successfully uses this catch sentence as motto in its membership drive:  “A world-wide charitable fellowship united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ for the purpose of helping people grow in spirit, mind and Body”.  Yoga speaks of it in reverse order—“Grow in Body, Mind and Spirit”. You can turn around YMCA and see the signs for a local business in bold letters —"Spiritual Boutique" and similar names. This beats even the cluster of shops around Hindu temples in Pilgrimage centers  with no signs selling things for worship and prayer aids including books.
Boyd Tim explains what he means being spiritual as follows:   “In the human body there are an esti­mated 75-100 trillion cells. It is an astounding num­ber, beyond our comprehension. It is a number larger than the number of galaxies in the universe, and even greater than the amount of the U.S. national debt. The cell is the basic building block of all living organisms. From the perspective of biology, it is the smallest living thing. Although we think of these cells as being a part of that greater something we each call "me," to the individual cell that "me" is irrelevant. Each of these 100 trillion cells that make up our bod­ies has needs and activities of its own. The cell needs nutrition. It is looking to reproduce. It seeks an envi­ronment that will be hospitable to its growth. Whether I have a good day at work, or enjoy the movie I am watching, or I am mad at my daughter is of little conse­quence to the cell.

If somehow one of these cells began to sense that it was a part of something greater, and felt an urgency to connect with or more consciously participate in that greater something, that would be a cell with a dawning spiritual awareness. If the cell began to inquire into the workings of that greater something, this would be spiritual study. If from the information that the cell acquired, it developed a discipline that enhanced its awareness of the greater whole, this would be its spiri­tual practice. if the cell became aware of other cells who had this same awakening and who had pursued it to a point where they actually were in harmony with the energies and patterns of that greater some­thing—cells who could say, "I and the 'greater' are one" —those cells would be spiritual teachers. You get the idea. Unity is the basis of spirituality, and all move­ment in the direction of a deeper experience of one­ness can be called spiritual.
The cell example, although impossible, makes a point. We, like the cells, "live, move, and have our being" within a greater life. The various ways that we describe that life indicate both the extent and the limits of our perception. In Shakespeare's Hamlet the state­ment is made, "There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy." This applies as much to our individual musings as to con­temporary scientific opinion or the formulations of the world's religions. Each of these attempts at knowing has a certain merit to it, but is at best partial. It could not be any other way”.

Let us turn our thoughts from Science to Vedanta which also in a way is science of life. The capacity in us to distinguish between path what is redundant in this world and that which is essential for making ourselves fit to tread the of Truth is a discrimination called Viveka. When you know what is necessary and what is unnecessary, what is proper and what is improper through this exercise of Viveka, you also know what is to be rejected and what is to be caught hold of.  That which you reject as unnecessary, redundant, meaningless, an interference – that process of rejection is called Vairagya. The meaninglessness of certain things in the pursuit which we are after is that which will enable us to abandon it from our considerations in daily life. When we turn our thoughts of Viveka toward Vairagya, a process of rejection our thoughts are focused on spirituality. We try to get rid of Dushkarmas or bad actions of Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (infatuation), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride) and Maatsarya (Jealousy). With this you enter into the spiritual field educated by the religious field and start your spiritual exercise called Sadhana.

The initial steps of Sadhana are Viveka and Vairagya. While you discard what is to be rejected you are allured to   six virtues that you continue to practice –Dama, Sama, Uparti, Titiksha, Sraddha, and Samadhana.  Dama is restraint of sense organs. Sama is restraint of internal organs. Uparti is cessation of worldly longings. Titiksha is endurance and toleration. Sraddha is faith in which you seek God. Samadhana is concentration of mind.    With this you reach a stage of intense longing for Liberation called Mumukshatva to enjoy Eternal Bliss or Ananda.

Any action is bound by a purpose that it wants to accomplish. The spiritual practice is also a committed action driven by a purpose. Spiritual practice, traditionally called 'Sadhana' has a purpose of Liberation.

The word 'Liberation becomes meaningful only in context of Bondage. What is that Bondage from which an individual seeks to be freed? This desire to be free from this bondage is called 'Mumuksha'. By understanding, what the bondage is the necessary means to be free from the bondage can be adapted. Not knowing this, many of us are confused about the spiritual practices.

What is mistakenly called Hindu Religion (which Hindus do not want to correct even after knowing it is wrong but pride on it) refers to Vedic Sanatana Dharma culture reminding basically that they are involved with a body-Self learning which attempts to describe things that are always true. It is not just a book or rules, a blind faith club to join or aggressive conversation based.  Dharma the sages visualized as Right Act as we discussed in Easopanishad. What is not Dharma was also defined as Adharma, a pair of opposites.

With the growing thought of One Life to Live as many religions believe in, this responsiveness to the needs and suffering of the myriad individual lives also must grow rapidly.  This can be postponed in a Hindu Thought as a Hindu believes in repeated births and deaths and so a Hindu can move at a slow and steady speed to better himself after each birth without choosing the alternate. But a  rare few  among them decide to achieve the same in this very life.  Spirituality is not merely a balm for the individual soul or a feeling of peace and harmony but for all others as well.  It promotes all round peace and happiness. Spirituality exceeds the individual. This is a problem, but only in the sense that was expressed in the Holy Bible "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." A sense of responsibility for the suffering of others is the hallmark of spirituality.   
“Fortunately our level of control over this process is minimal. We are much like a gardener. Our role in all of this is not to manipulate the sunshine, or cause the sky to rain, but to nurture and provide the conditions for the seed to grow. As we wisely fulfill this role, within ourselves we witness the stirrings of new life. The seeds of compassion, kindness, and responsibility, which ultimately yield the fruits of the spiritual life, come alive and flourish. May this time soon arrive for all of us” says Boyd Tim.

Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic.  Within this diffused open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience of a Kshetrajna (field Controller).  It defines spiritual practice as one's journey towards Moksha awareness of self, the discovery of higher truths, true nature of reality, and a consciousness that is liberated and content called Bliss or Aananda.  Hinduism prescribes four paths of spirituality. These paths are called paths of Yoga—Jnaana Yoga, the way of Knowledge; Bhakti Yoga, the Way of Devotion; Karma Yoga, the Way of Selfless  Service and Raja Yoga, The Way of Contemplation and Meditation. According to Hinduism all people can be classified into four distinct groups: 1) The Emotional individual; 2) The Rational Person; 3) The Meditative Individual; 4) The Habitually Overactive Individual.  Bhakti Yoga is suitable for emotional person.  Jnaana Yoga is meant for the rational person.  Raja Yoga is suitable for   meditative person. Karma Yoga is suitable for the person naturally inclined towards activity.

In earlier scriptures we find the first three Yogas only being mentioned as three-fold path. But later in the 19th century Vivekananda in his Neo-Vedanta Synthesis of Hinduism added Raja Yoga as The King of all Yogas or “The Royal Path” ably supported by later saints like Aurobindo. Jnana Marga is a path often directed by a Guru who is a teacher followed by saints and men of wisdom.  It  resorts to austerities, sacrifices and penance.  Bhakti Marga is a path of devotion   which often resorts to Moorti Upaasana or worship of Deva, Devatas and Upadevatas or   various deities. Their spiritual approach here is through the worship of their Ishta Devata (Chosen   deity)  as well  as other deities assisted by  chanting hymns, singing Bhajans and Keertans in front of idols or images regarded  as devotional symbols.  Karma Yoga is the path of one’s own work, where diligent selfless service  become a spiritual practice and work in daily life perfected keeping  spiritual  liberation as the goal in mind and not focused on any  material  reward.  Raja Marga is the royal path of cultivating necessary virtues, self -discipline, penance, meditation, contemplation and self-reflection with seclusion and isolation of the world to reach a pinnacle state called Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

Chandogya Upanishad says those who engage in ritualistic worship of devatas guided by priests will fail in spiritual practice while those engaged in austerities and penance will succeed   in their objective of spiritual progress toward liberation.  Svetasvatara Upanishad says that a successful spiritual practice requires a longing for Truth (knowing Brahman), but warns of becoming 'false ascetic' who go through the mechanics of spiritual practice without meditating on the nature of Self and Supreme Spirit. Bhagavad Gita has the following advice for Spiritual Seekers (Jnaana Marga): Yaanti Devavrataa devaan  pitrun  yaanti pitruvrataah,     bhootaani yaanti  bhootejyaa  yaanti madyaajino api maam)--Worshippers of the celestial controllers go to  the devas, the worshippers the ancestors go to the ancestors, and the worshippers of the ghosts go to the ghosts, but my devotees come to me (and are not born again).  Modern Saints like Vivekananda leave the option to choose any one of these paths.   Others feel that these paths are not mutually exclusive but are overlapping and feel Karma directed by Jnaana should end in Bhakti and absolute surrender to the will of the Supreme. These four spiritual paths are also known to Hindus outside India for example Chatur Marga of Balinese Hinduism.

Different schools of Hinduism encourage different spiritual practices. In Taantric school for example, the spiritual practice has been referred to as  Saadhana. It involves initiation into the school, undergoing rituals, and achieving Moksha or liberation by experiencing union of cosmic polarities.   

Advaita school spiritual practice emphasizes on Jnaana yoga in progressive stages: Sanyasa (celibacy), Sravana (hearing or Adhyayana), Manana (turning inwards) and Dhyana (contemplation). We have discussed in detail on Jnaana yoga in the discourse on Meditation—Meditation is to go beyond Thinking into Higher Consciousness.   ISKCON Hare Krishna School of Thought and Bhakti Vedanta emphasize on Bhakti yoga as spiritual practice.  

It is worth going through the philosophical discussions in various chapters of Bhagavad Gita related to the subject matter of discussion:
vyavasayatmika buddhirekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-shaka hianantashcha buddhayo ‘vyavasayinaam  || 2-41 ||
Those on the path of spiritual advancement are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. The intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.”

We must focus our intelligence on definite aim in one direction   otherwise all of our endeavors will result in failure. One whose mind is diversified and   branched in many directions fails to concentrate on anything and is simply left in confusion.   Human mind is like a monkey and  its nature   is to drift. We must learn to control the mind with our spiritual knowledge   otherwise the mind will be the cause of our own bondage.

Mind can either be our best friend or our worst enemy says Gita sloka 6-6:
Bandhur atmaat manah  tasya  yena-atmaiva atmana aa  jitah |
anaatmanah tu satrutve vartet aatmaiva satru-vat || 6—6 ||
Mind alone is one’s friend as well as one’s enemy. The mind is friend of those who have control over it, and for those who do not control it, it is an enemy.

The mind is the repository of all sensual perception. Through our five   senses of perception we experience the world, and the resultant experience is transmitted to the mind, where it is classified as either delight or distress. The uncontrolled mind begins to dwell on the desires and fears created by these experiences. The result is a whirlpool of thoughts making it unable for us to think, concentrate, and focus our selves.
To control the mind, we need to utilize spiritual knowledge.  A controlled mind will keep the senses in check. When the senses are in check, the craving for lust and desire stop and we become peaceful. When there is peace, the natural happiness is restored and we focus on Self   and turn inwards. That leads to knowing the Unknown or Brahmajnaana.
Gita also guides us as to how to acquire this spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is possible only for those who wish to connect themselves with the Supreme Being.  Without a connection to Supreme Spirit (Paramaatman) one cannot  acquire spiritual knowledge—“naasti buddhir ayukatasya “  says Gita.
We need to focus on Supreme Spirit (Paramatman) in order to develop spiritual knowledge. With that spiritual knowledge we can control our mind. With a controlled mind all the ten   senses of perception and action can be kept in check.  When the senses are kept in check, we will experience peace. When we are peaceful, the happiness of the Self or inward peace will be realized automatically:
How then can we connect out thoughts to Paramaatman? Gita says here:
Tesham satata-yuktanambhajatam peeti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te    ||

The knowledge and understanding of the metaphysical science (Brahmajnnana) is given to those who are ever lovingly connected to the Supreme Spirit and united with it.  This is true to all religions that echo the same thought. The Holy Bible in John 1.12 says: “Those who receive Him and believe in Him (Jesus Christ), he makes them come to the Father in heaven. Again Luke 18.17 says: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter therein”
If a person sincerely worships the Lord with love and devotion, then Supreme Spirit from within his heart gives that  person instructions so that the individual may ultimately come to it without difficulty. This is   metaphysics and spiritual knowledge. Material knowledge may depend on many external factors, but spiritual knowledge is inherent in one’s Self. It is simply covered by Maaya (illusion) just like a mirror covered by dust. As we clean the mirror of the mind that is as we get rid of the clouds the shining reflection from within gradually becomes visible to us.

To accomplish this linking with the Paramatman we must take up a serious Sadhana, or daily spiritual practice of resorting to Yoga and meditation.  Those who follow Bhakti Marga resort to self-purification by murmuring the name of their Ishtadevata repeatedly getting rid of all other thoughts  and resort to meditation (Japayoga).
\All Religious Rivers end up in the Spiritual Ocean, losing their individual identity, that symbolizes Brahman.   Whatever may be our religious following it should all culminate in Spirituality to focus our thoughts on the Supreme! That is why Vedanta is called Universal Religion or unifying Spirituality.

Hinduism is blessed with learned Gurus to lead people through spirituality, though plagued with dogma,  priests and monastics  and influence from other religions with no spiritual focus where they are in minority.

India’s spiritual heritage is ancient and legendry. Over several Millenniums India has been blessed with more Gurus— holy   persons who during their lives on earth have merged their Self with God—than any other country in the world. I have conveyed to you well documented stories about them.  For over 2300 years travelers from the most powerful countries on earth have gone to India in search of her well defined spiritual wisdom guided by Vedas and Upanishads. When Alexander the Great returned to Persia after his unsuccessful invasion of India, the most valued treasure he took back with him was  not rich material bounties like gold, jewels, silk and spices but his Guru , the Yogi Kalyana, called Kalanos by Greeks.

Why there is so much dis-contentment and frustration among even Hindus today let alone others? It is because majority  have disconnected themselves with spirituality over long years.   They must Arise, Awake and Move Forward (Uttishthata  Jaagrata; Charaibeti  Charaibeti).  Dissatisfaction and the sense of incompleteness mark the life of everyone. Even the very accomplished people are not at peace with life, strictly speaking. Whether we like it or not, we have to accept the fact that humanity, by and large, is caught in some form of attachment or prejudice. Numerous dimensions of ‘egoism’ hijack us at different times. Spiritual awakening frees us from such a psychological bondage. The person who facilitates such a waking up in us is GURU. The Geeta (chapter 4, verse 34) advises us to reach men (or women) of wisdom, serve them, ask them our doubts. They will then surely open our eyes to the spiritual reality. That is enlightenment. If we are highly mature, ready to receive the highest knowledge, the journey to freedom takes no time. Otherwise we receive from the GURU such guidance that prepares us for the leap beyond d the shell of ego:

Tadviddhi pranipaatena pariprasnena sevayaa |
Upekshyanti tay Jnaanam jnaaniastattvadarsinah  ||

This wisdom (Brahmajnyaanam) is to be acquired by reverentially approaching the teachers, questioning with humility the learned masters and by offering service to the sages. The wise men that see things as they really are will no doubt instruct and enlighten.

 “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” says Karthikeyan from India.

Hindu Religion and indu Religion and HHinduism is a more recent nomenclature given to Sanatana Dharma, a way of life common to all mankind that was practiced during Vedic days.  The equivalent word to religion does not exist in Sanskrit language. It is   today a conglomeration of heterogeneous traditions and plurality of beliefs and worship with a long history of development from the Vedic sacrificial tradition and spirituality through the worship of epic and Puranic heroes and personal deities, cults and sects, as well as philosophical systems rather than to a monolithic tradition or a structure based on single system of beliefs and worship or single text as scripture. It has today become very complicated as practiced in India.  It is recognized as the third largest religion of the world whose nearly 95% followers live in India.  In India itself 80% of the total, population   are Hindus.  Unfortunately Hindu immigrants wherever they are settled only look to Hindu majority from India for their religious pursuits as is practiced today instead of going back to  the  wisdom of Vedas that promoted  Sanatana Dharama, Universal Oneness and Spirituality which Swami Vivekananda  marketed at the  World Religious  Congress in Chicago impressively as Vedanta, the  Religion of the Future. 

Hinduism does not consist in visiting temples, prostrating before idols, performing rituals and begging for fulfilment 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.  
 Among church goers in USA today more than 30%  whose number are increasing are bored with the belief based religion they are following and are uninterested in any religion at all. Many from them say they are spiritual and not religious not knowing what it is to be so or with no sense of direction. In a vast secular democratic country like America Hindu migrants from South East Asia, Africa, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago who have had lost  touch  with  India over centuries  have joined the main stream of Hindu migrants from India in Temple worship in USA where they have One temple for all Hindus drawn from  multi traditions and religious practices. Simultaneously we find lot of Gurus well settled in USA in spiritual Institutions like Ramakrishna Math, Dayananada Mission, Chinmaya Mission, ISHA Foundation, FOWAI Forum, VHP, HMEC etc. catering to the spiritual and religious needs of these global Hindu Migrants.  While this is happening there are many interfaith weddings taking place whose number is ever increasing which is mainly because of the love attraction between migrant Hindus and major culture Christianity with sporadic attraction from other religious groups.   

Because of the rich religious and Spiritual background of the Hindu partner of the two, their children are more attracted to Hindu Temples than others. Thus here is an opportunity for Hindu Americans to lead the country in religious following more focused on Spirituality. For that hey should be trained first and be prepared to lead by turning inwards. There are many Gurus, Neo-Hindus and Authors in USA born in Christianity who are totally attracted to Hinduism and are  dedicated to spread the message of Sanatana Dharma. There is an impressive Hindu Temple and Himalayan Academy in Hawaii under the spiritual and religious guidance of Velan Sami (adopted name of an American Saint), who has adopted Hinduism and dedicates his life to spread the message of Sanatana Dharma. To the contrary we find many commercially oriented Gurus and fake Gurus in India some of whom are even running International noodle business in India as was reported and made fun of in Economist, a reputed Journal. Here the wise advice from David Frawley  is worth considering. He is a practicing Hindu who has changed his name to Vamadeva Sastri.    He is totally engaged in spreading the message of Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Tradition) in USA.  It is worth recalling here his wise advice on “How Hindus can better promote their Religion in Non-Hindu Countries”. It is also worth going through my concluding remarks of my discourse, “Vedanta-Religion— Everlasting, Universal and Unifying Spirituality” in this context.

“First it is a matter of communication. Hindus must make it known who they are and what they really believe, so common negative stereotype about their religion—which breed so much misunderstanding and intolerance—are countered. They must organize themselves, not as a dogma but as a community with the common interest to promote a deeper spiritual knowledge in the world.
They must recognize the value of the Hindu Religion for World and its great treasure of spiritual and yogic knowledge that are very rare, and sometimes almost unknown in other religions. They must teach Hinduism, particularly Yoga and Vedanta to non-Hindus, whether such people want to become Hindus or not. Like the ancient Vedic sages said they should seek to make the entire world spiritual. They must become expansive, open-hearted, fearless, creative and compassionate, not in allegiance to a belief but out of contact with the Divine Self within that is greater than World.

Hindus need not try to remake Hinduism in the image of militant Islam, the Catholic Church or Evangelical Christianity. That will be a wrong approach. Hindus should create educational movements all over the world promoting Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda, Jyotisha, Sanskrit, Indian Fine Arts, and all aspects of the greater culture of Sanatana Dharma. They should set up teaching centers, schools and universities, retreat centers and service organizations.  While maintaining the diversity of Hindu groups should support one Another and also work with any group that accepts dharmic principles and is willing to live according to them”.

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.  Inter-culture marriages are good marketing promoters for Inter-faith 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.  Hindus   take pride in saying they are pioneers in following spirituality and always care for the world quoting conveniently from their concluding worship prayer in Hindu Temples.  They also say they are secular and firm believers in Unity in Diversity living in a multi-cultural society. They do not fail to quote from Vedas when Convenient to show how   they are promoters of Universal peace and Universal Oneness--Eko viprah bahuda vadanti; krinvanto Viswamaaryam; aatmavat sarvabhooteshu; Sarve janah sukhino bhavantu   sarve Santih etc   [The One Pundits call Many; Let us ennoble the World; Look upon all beings as Yourself: May all people live happily in the world; May there be all round Peace etc.]   We should not stop merely raising these slogans but also act accordingly and lead the world spiritually for all round Peace, Spiritual Progress and Prosperity in the disturbed world.

Here are few thought provoking quotes on Spirituality:

 1. Rumi
“Knock, And He'll open the door
Vanish, And He'll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He'll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He'll turn you into everything.”
2. Miguel Ruiz

a) Be Impeccable with Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
b) Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
c)  Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
d) Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

3. John Lennon
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong.”
4. Carl Sagan
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
 “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light
years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

5. T. D. Jakes
“No woman wants to be in submission to a man who isn't in submission to God!”
6. Mother Teresa
 “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

 “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness.

7. Francis Assisi
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

9. Amit Ray
“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters.”

10. Albert Einstein
“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

11. Dalai Lama
As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.

1) David Frawley, Hinduism, Voice of India, New Delhi.
2) Swami Bhaskarananda, Essentials of Hinduism, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
3) Karthikeyan S., Ancient Western Philosophy and The Hindu Wisdom, IndiaDivine.Org
4) Boyd Tim,  Problem with Spirituality, Theosophical Society of America, Ken Foundation.
5) Srinivasan N.R., Vedanta Religion--Everlasting, Universal and Unifying Spirituality.
6) Wikipedia and other Internet Sources.
7) Jahnava Nitai Das, Peace and Happiness and the Perplexities of Life, IndiaDivine.Org

[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 <> duly acknowledging  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--


(E-Mail sent to HR Participants in May 2017 by N .R. Srinivasan)
Please recall my two discourses on the subject of understanding Sanatana Dharma and its role as World religion.  In this connection it is also relevant to go through my discourse on Vedanta, the  Religion Everlasting and Universal as well as Why I am Called a Hindu. I often receive letters from various Hindu American organizations deeply concerned about only Hindus in India and anything happening to Hindus in America is always related to Indian context. But who takes care of other Hindu migrants from all parts of the globe who are one with Hindu Americans?  Even Canadian,   British and Australian Hindus want to come to USA and find it a better place to practice Hinduism  Some Hindus are even thinking of migrating to Latin America of late but citizenship is a problem if they are not Hindu Americans!
After having migrated from India to USA due to frustration and discrimination or seeking greener pastures to enjoy better life we have to focus on Hinduism   as the World Religion coming out of Ancient Tradition of Sanataana Dharma with its basic principles    “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam", Krinvanto viswamaaryam ; Aatmavat sarvabhooteshu ” etc. We should not be worried about what is happening to Hindus in India but should be focused on  what is going  on with Hindus in America drawn from all parts of the World—Viswa Hindus. If we are so concerned about our close relatives in India  after seeing what  is happening in Puri Jagannatha Temple restricting temple entry. We should either get them here or get back and share their miseries and fortune with them.  Indian Government is a secular government and they know what is best for them. Indian Government has not even granted dual citizenship to migrants and consider them as prodigals though recently recognized their origin to grant permanent Visas.
We should be able to welcome all cultures in USA to Hindu-fold and spread the message of Universal Oneness of our Ancient Tradition to spread Spirituality, Peace and Harmony unlike India where they say a Hindu is recognized only by birth.Did Vedas say it? In this context I draw your kind attention to the thought-provoking article by David Frawley (Vamadeva Sastri). It is  heartening to note  that  Jains,  Buddhists, Sikhs and Arya Samajists bound by common culture,  migrated from India though walked  out of Hinduism in the ancient past  are having a second thought and are aligning more with World Hindus in USA than any other religion of USA often compelled by  the universal binding force of love culminating in wedlock.  Of course there are also vested interest pockets who want to remain independent and boost their parent religion ill advised by their Gurus and politicians in India.  Hinduism is slowly gaining grounds in USA due to its universal appeal, added attraction of Yoga, Spirituality and religious freedom of worship attracting people from Western Religions including rare few from atheist Chinese, Buddhism  and Islam. Many Christians are fed up with their regimental faith and monotony looking for spiritual direction and progress and are influenced by Hindu Americans.

Many nations have changed the name of their country and consequently people who live in that country—Russia to Soviet Union  back to Russia; Ceylon to Sri Lanka; Burma to Myanmar; Siam to Thailand; Persia to Iran.  But India does not even want to correct   the wrongly pronounced word Hindu which should be Sindhu. Sindhu is a generic name for river and Sanatana Dharma is the Universal Spiritual Following that was developed on River Banks (Indus and Ganges) and forests (Aranyakas). Before English language coined the word Religion only Dharma existed to denote one’s following.  Modern Hinduism is a conglomeration of many walled beliefs, faiths and practices practiced over a long period influenced by Puranas and history though draws its basics  from Sanatana Dharma theoretically but practices as walled religions (shanmathas) differently. American Hindus lead a caste-less society attending one temple part-taking in all rituals and worships with inter-faith and inter-racial wedlock and so are more united than Hindus in India.  They should go back to  their correct name Sindhus and the religion to Sidhuttva (Sindhu Tattva) or Sanatana Dharma.  Words like Dharma, Pundit, Avatar etc. are now well-defined English words found in dictionary. Hindus in India being copy-cats of American culture will soon change their name also and even India to Sindhia. It is the Greeks that wrongly pronounced Sindhu to Indu and called the country India land of Indus. It also shows that in ancient past there were only Sindhus in India and so they called their country Bharat which name   was retained after gaining independence from British India. They only removed the word British, made the country secular theoretically like USA and did not declare any one religion as Religion of the State like Germany which is also democratic.

The Universal Relevance of Sanatana Dharma

Hinduism has always been a universal tradition and India has been its geographical center, not its limiting location.
As a western Hindu, I have sometimes been told that I can’t truly be a Hindu because I wasn’t born one. One encounters this opinion not only in India but throughout the world, where many non-Hindus think that being a Hindu is by birth only.
Recently, an Indian writer on mythology stated that Hindus should not look to the books of white Westerners for their study of Hinduism – even the books of Western Hindus – because they weren’t born Hindus. This kind of reverse racism, understandable to some degree because of biased anti-Hindu attitudes from the colonial era, is contrary to the deeper truth of Hindu Dharma that does not circumscribe its teachings in any historical, geographical or ethnic boundaries. That Hindus do not proselytize does not mean that Hindu Dharma is limited to a community of birth and is not of any universal relevance.
Ever since Swami Vivekananda brought the teachings of Yoga and Vedanta to the world in 1893, Hindu-based teachings have been spreading worldwide. This extends to all aspects of Yoga – not only asanas but also pranayama, mantra, and meditation, and now kirtan is a popular musical movement in the West. Ayurveda is similarly gaining a global following as a profound system of mind-body medicine. Sanskrit, Indian music and dance are expanding their influences as well. A global tradition now exists of numerous Hindu gurus travelling and teaching before millions of followers from all levels of society and relative to all aspects of life.
The Hindu diaspora is another important component of the new global Hindu movement. Hinduism is gaining respect owing to the success financially and educationally of immigrant Hindus, as well as their peaceful and tolerant nature. Beautiful Hindu temples can be found in the main cities of the West, which westerners are also visiting. The number of westerners formally becoming Hindus is slowly increasing through the efforts of organizations like Hinduism Today, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Arya Samaj.
Unfortunately, there has been considerable distortion and commercialization of Hindu teachings in the West, as with some Yoga groups downplaying or denying the Hindus basis of the practices they follow. This needs to be addressed by a proper presentation of the teachings, not by trying to limit these practices only to those born in India. The new globalization of Hindu Dharma should be promoted in an authentic manner for the benefit of all humanity.
Historical Spread of Dharmic Traditions
We should remember that Hindu, Vedic and Dharmic teachings have had a wide geographical influence for thousands of years. Their modern impact is only a new phase of the development of Hindu Dharma in its universal relevance.
It is well known that Buddhism spread throughout Asia over the past 2,500 years, but people forget that Hinduism also spread widely and from an earlier era. Hinduism was prominent in Indonesia, where Bali remains a pocket of its former influence, and in Indochina, where Cambodia’s Angkor Wat of a thousand years ago remains the largest Hindu temple in the world. Hinduism along with Buddhism spread into Central Asia along the Silk Route from China to Europe. The Hindu Ramayana remains the most popular story of Southeast Asia.
 Such Hindu groups outside India were clearly not born in the Indian subcontinent. The geographical idea of Hinduism as limited to India or Hindustan is a modern idea coming from western invaders, not the actual history of Hinduism. Hinduism has long shared its teachings with a wide variety of countries, cultures and ethnic groups.
 World Vedic Heritage
There is yet a greater world Vedic heritage extending through many cultures of the ancient world, East and West.
Vedic related teachings and traditions dominated Europe, West and Central Asia, as well as India going back 5,000 years, including various Indo-European groups like the ancient Germans, Slavs, Celts, Thracians, Greeks and Romans. The Hittites and Mittani dominated West Asia 4,000 years ago, with Mittani dynasties with Vedic names intermarrying with the pharaohs of Egypt.
Vedic teachings spread north and west from India through the Scythians and Iranians, who dominated West and Central Asia from the second millennium BCE to the later period of the Roman Empire. These groups followed similar traditions as the Vedas, with their sacred fire worship and honoring of the Sun. The Zoroastrians are only one such group with Vedic affinities.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had a religion that resembles Hinduism, with temples, iconic worship of deities, and similar traditions of philosophy, medicine and astrology. The ancient Middle East extending from Mesopotamia to Saudi Arabia had similar deities and forms of worship as the Hindu, with gods, goddesses, icons and temple worship in the pre-Islamic era, including an extensive trade with India.
Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma
We must remember that the term Hinduism is only a modern designation of a tradition properly known as “Sanatana Dharma”, the eternal or universal Dharma. Once we understand Hinduism as Santana Dharma, its relevance for all humanity becomes clear. We can easily set aside the misunderstanding that one must be born a Hindu, or that Hindu is merely a geographical term. Anyone who truly follows the principles and practices of Sanatana Dharma is a Hindu.
Hinduism has always been a universal tradition and India has been its geographical center, not its limiting location. Hinduism has shared the expansive nature of Indian civilization with its great tradition of travel and trade by sea and land, such as the terms Indonesia and Indochina reflect.
One must remember the ancient prayer of the most ancient Rigveda, Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam, “Make the Entire World noble”. Sanatana Dharma has the universal vision to link all humanity together in a recognition of the One Self or Paramaatman in all beings – the unitary consciousness behind and beyond all time, space, karma and manifestation, such as the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita proclaim.
[*David Frawley is an American Hindu teacher and author. He has written more than 30 books on the Vedas, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology.]