Bodhinatha with Devotees in Houston

Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Senthilnathaswami are on their way home as we write, arriving on Kauai in a few hours.

Bothinatha reports on yesterday’s events

“Sunday morning presentation at Meenakshi Temple to some 60-70 individuals. Afterwards they recalled fondly our participation in their 1999 youth retreat as well as Sadhaka Haranandinatha teaching young children there back in the 1980′s. They are opening a new building which is combination library and reception center. They want copies of our books for the library plus copies to sell in the reception center and will be contacting us with details.

“Our afternoon presentation at India House was also to a group of about sixty. It presented Hinduism Today, Hindu Unity and Media and Religion.”

Bodhinatha met with numerous devotees while in Houston.

Here are Gaurav, Ripla and little Arun Malhotra.

They flew down to Houston from Chicago just to see Bodhinatha and receive his blessings and give a special silver prasadam bowl for our temple.

Left to right: Pandit and Asha Sharma, and Asha Chaku. They have been connected with the monastery for many years and come to see Bodhinatha every time he visits Houston.

Here is Lakshmanan Panchacharam. His father lived in Nallur, Jaffna, just a short distance from the Kandaswamy Temple that is so important to our parampara. Lakshmanan was a tremendous help during our visit, driving us here, there and everywhere, all across the greater Houston area, which is quite spread out.

Houston's 20th Grand Annual Janmashtami

On August 29, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami attended as the chief guest the 20th Grand Annual Janmashtami Celebration organized by the Hindus of Greater Houston. After an excited and devotional parade, Bodhinatha was led up on the main stage to participate in an Agamic Vishnu puja.

The puja was performed by this traditional South Indian Vaishnava priest from the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, just outside of Houston.

As the program was getting started and the devotees were streaming in, one of the event organizers took the opportunity to interview Bodhinatha on camera to get a personal sense of what his talk would be about.

During one of the cultural programs, Mike Morris, a freelance journalist on assignment from the Houston Chronicle, interviewed Bodhinatha in a private side room of the convention center.

He asked questions on a wide variety of topics ranging from "Who is Lord Krishna?" to "What position do you hold as a Hindu leader in relationship to this group?" to "What is the most important concern that Hindus in America are facing today?" Bodhinatha gave detailed, practical, easy-to-understand answers, in his inimitable style.

Anup Jalota, a famous Hindustani bhajan and ghazal singer from India, was one of the main attractions of the program. He and his troupe (the tabla player was superb) led the group in lots of Vaishnavite bhajans, some very relaxed and contemplative, some wild enough to entice the group into an ecstatic singing and dancing rapture, especially at the climax.

The celebration was held in a gigantic section of the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. Some 6,000 people were said to have attended, but we think it may have been closer to 8,000 or more at its height.

Bodhinatha gave a 10-minute talk that was well-received.

Even after the excited bhajan finale, hundreds sat down and listened intently to Bodhinatha's talk, which focused on Hindu unity, the main objective of the Hindus of Greater Houston, the organization that has successfully organized this event for twenty years now.

Bodhinatha was brought front and center for the arati, as everyone sang together, "Jaya Jagadish Hare, Swami Jaya Jagadish Hare…," the famous Hindi arati song.

On our way out, we stopped at the prominent Hinduism Today booth, among a few dozen others. Vijay Pallod (right) was instrumental in organizing both the event itself and Bodhinatha's presence here, and Ravi Raghavan (between Vijay and Bodhinatha) was our primary man at the booth. Ravi estimated that some 400-500 families visited the booth, enthusiastically perusing Hinduism Today, What Is Hinduism, The Master Course Trilogy, and taking flyers home so that they could order them on the web. It was a most successful visit to Houston!

Tour Days This Phase

After Sadhu Paksha retreat there was a big demand for reservations to visit Kauai Aadheenam. We held two public tours this past week on August 24th. & the 28th.

Lord Ganesha, is the first inner plane Being the guests meet and learn about. Ringing the bell to notify Him of our presence has become a tradition for those entering the monastery grounds.

Walking the Tiruneri path, the guests’ next encounter the giant Banyan tree under which Gurudeva often sat and meditated.

Our first group was small enough to get to know each other quite well and came as far away as Europe. The lady in the blue (far right) is from Naples Botanical Garden in Florida. She was truly appreciative of the vast collection of plants and trees.

The second group on the 28th was such an inwardly quiet group. Two of the ladies approached us and said they had purchased and read the entire work “Dancing with Siva” before coming to Kauai specifically to come for the tour.

Every corner of the land seems to be so lovingly cared for.

Coming over the hill to the look out over Rishi Valley, we spotted Tandu Sivanathan, a volunteer karma yogi working quietly. Nothing is more unrequested than a standing ovation for someone so humble and transparent. The groups spontaneous action was a desire to show their appreciation for all those who are working to make the experience of the Kauai Aadheenam so beautiful.

Tandu brings his landscape crew once a week on Thursday to do some of the mowing. But today is not Thursday. He has slipped down to Rishi Valley after the Sun One Homa to do some quiet karma yoga.

Tandu has been working closely with Paramacharya Palaniswami to make Rishi Valley a spectacular garden. These are local sweet potatoes which are very delicious. You can also eat the greens as well.

How beautiful this area is becoming. Soon the Guru Paramapra will have life size shrines along this valley.

This loving mother with children spoke a Scandinavian dialect.

The little ones where so happy to find someone almost their own size.

On a bright sunny tour day nothing stands more inviting than the shade of giant Rudraksha trees standing on the West side of Iraivan. This is almost the last place we stop on the tour. A place to relax, ask questions, and talk about fundraising efforts to complete the temple.

With many rudraksha seeds still on the ground flower buds for the next crop are already beginning to show great potential.

This flower stops everyone in their tracks.

Guests are always surprised when they see the succulent gardens in such a tropical setting.

This refined family is from New York. The boys are Jacob and Zachery and the little girl is Julia. The father (not pictured) asked some very insightful questions.

This is Unipam and Sanjee. They came to Kauai specifically for the tour and were a constant support for us.

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