Today we bring you Bodhinatha’s State of the Church Address, 2008 in the form of 2 YouTube Videos.
The sound file and transcript will be uploaded next phase.
~~~~~~~~~~~ END OF PHASE
Today is the last day of our phase.
This edition of TAKA will remain posted
over our coming two-day retreat,
until Dvitiya Tithi, Sun One, Tuesday, May 6th.
Today the Ganapati Kulam is working on the final touches of the July-August-September edition of Hinduism Today. In Bodhinatha’s Publisher’s Desk this issue he addresses the age-old issue of who is the greater among the Gods, Vishnu or Siva? His answer carries the wisdom of the ages, that they are a one Divine Perfection, not two that can be compared and argued over.
For this, artist S. Rajam in India crafted this art. This is Hari-Hara, the half-Vishnu, half-Siva murthi of ancient times. Siva with His mountains and bull, Vishnu with his eagle mount and the sea. Notice Rajam’s marvelous little hint of blessedness, the two disembodied hands at the bottom, as if the cosmos itself is reaching out to grant all gifts. Soon the files will be digitally couriered to the midwest for printing. Look for the full magazine in about a month.
When we were in India in February, we encountered a long wall, 15 feet high and 120 feet long, being painted by a muralist with hundreds of intricate, traditional Saiva panels. Here a woman worships the All in All, hands held above her head in the gesture of loftiest adulation. Siva smiles from the white Lingam.
Nearby many are gathered to praise their Loving Lord, not only from all castes, but Brahma Himself is there in the crowd.
Bodhinatha in Africa Part II
Sadhaka Haranandinatha brings us another great set of photos and the story from Bodhinatha’s recent trip to South Africa.
“On the evening of April 19th Bodhinatha heads for Pietermaritzburg, a city of about 350,000, located about 40 miles inland from the Durban coast. He gets an enthusiastic welcome at the local center of the Saiva Sithantha Sungum”
Just inside the door they’ve made a little shrine for Gurudeva which remembers his visit to this place in 1982. Newspaper photo clippings show Gurudeva blessing members of the center with vibhuti and an article entitles “Wives should remain in the home, Swami says”
Three of the leaders of the Pietermaritburg center keep Bodhinatha company til its time for him to enter the hall.
Swami Siva Yoga Nanda, head of the Sungum, introduces Bodhinatha.
Altar contains only light. Siva alone is worshiped. The Sungum follows the Meikandar Saiva Sithantha philosophy, using the Tirumurai,Tirukural and the Tamil songs of Sri Subramonia Swamigal.
Bodhinatha’s talks at all three Sungum centers that he’ll visit while in Durban are all focused on “spiritualizing daily life”. Pursuing the goals of artha and kama, wealth and love, through honest means (fulfilling the principles of dharma,) will bring us closer to realizing the final goal of moksha.
Several hundred people turned out to be with Bodhinatha this evening. Here’s a small portion waiting to receive vibhuti holy ash prasad. The center had prepared packets of vibhuti in advance with a sticker to commemorate Bodhinatha’s visit.
Sunday morning is a visit to the Sungum’s main center in the south Durban suburb of Chatsworth. This area is home to a large population of Indians who moved here in the late 60’s during South Afica’s infamous Apartheid era. From a single center founded in 1937 by Sri Siva Subramonia Guru Swamigal (1910-1953) the Sungum has expanded to include 22 branches.
Gurusubramonia gave outdoor lectures and “lantern services” at eight locations around Durban. His mission was to provide saintly leadership and combat religious conversion. He conducted classes on Devaramam, Thiruvasagam and lives of the Saiva Saints. He composed his own divine hymns in Tamil in order to give his spiritual message in a manner that all could understand.
Swami Yogananda leads the congregation in their worship ceremony which was written by the founder and followed strictly to this day. It consists of of the singing Subramonia’s Tamil songs in praise of Shiva in a prayer and response manner between the swami and the congregation, a short sermon, concluding prayers and arati before the altar to the Formless aspect of Shiva. A portrait of the Guru Subramonia is seen to the left of Swami Yogananda.
Here’s the Sungum’s prayer book. The first half contains the worship ceremony and the last half contains the Tamil hymns of Sri Siva Subramonia Guru. They are reminiscent of Yogaswami’s songs.
Hymns in Tamil, English transliteration and English translation. One called Summaa Irupathuveh Sugam-The Greatness of Silence- goes like this; “To remain in silence is joy and a pleasant happening. That joy is an expression of inner contentment, it is the mirror of your inner being. The celestials adore and praise Lord Sivaperumaan. We have to experience his Divine Vision and rejoice in the chamber of our hearts……..”
When Bodhinatha ended his talk, saying “I’ve used up all my time” they asked him to please continue!
Later that day Bodhinatha was in the Durban studios of Lotus FM. Lotus plays a mix of Indian music, news, interviews and other programs of interest to Indian youth. It can be heard in every part of the country where Indians are living. On Sundays there are religious programs. One of them will broadcast this interview.
In the early evening we go to the suburb called Phoenix on the north side of Durban. The rains and chill have come a little early this year.
Bodhinatha waits to share his talk.
A small but eager crowd has gathered to hear him speak. Our thanks to everyone at the Saiva Sithantha Sungum for their gracious welcome to Bodhinatha. Perhaps he’ll be able to visit again next year!
Thank you, Shren and Misha, for helping to arrange Bodhinatha’s first visit to Durban.
"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta