Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Senthilnathaswami spent the weekend at the San Antonio Hindu Temple's 22nd anniversary festival. The temple, built in 1989, has been closely connected to Gurudeva from the beginning. The temple, with a facility covering several acres, sits at the top of a hill in Helotes, outside San Antonio. It is a beautiful, serene spot, perfect for a Venkateswara temple.
Bodhinatha's talk on Friday evening was on "The Spiritual Perspective of Work."
A few dozen people were in attendance.
Kailash Dhaksinamurthi from Boston flew out to be with Bodhinatha for the weekend and hear his talks.
In addition to the main Balaji shrine and the attending Ganesha, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi shrines, there is a Saiva shrine with Lingam, Bhavani Devi and Shanmukha. All the Deities are black granite. Just before Bodhinatha's talk on "The Basis of Temple Worship" on Saturday morning, the priests, who are from Tirupati, performed beautiful abhishekam to all three of the Saiva Deities. In honor of Bodhinatha's attendance, the priests were inspired to adorn the Lingam with rudraksha alankaram for the first time.
After the talk was the maha mangala arati. Then Bodhinatha and the temple trustees officially released the souvenir for the event.
Saturday afternoon Bodhinatha was asked to give a short presentation and lead a discussion about endowments for the temple trustees and other concerned devotees. Being the architect of our very own Hindu Heritage Endowment, with 83 funds benefiting worthy Hindu causes all over the world, Bodhinatha was adept at clarifying what exactly an endowment is, how to raise funds for an endowment, the importance of delegating the investment of the funds to professional investment counsel, the necessity to solicit planned gifts and other topics. The group was pleasantly shocked at Bodhinatha's expertise in this area. They asked lots of questions and gained great clarity for how to run their own foundation that they recently started to take care of the Hindu Temple of San Antonio.
Sunday morning we were the honored guests at the country estate of Drs. Rama Krishna and Kamala Rao. They are two of the founding members of the temple here in San Antonio.
The Raos have a small temple in their compound called the Mother Temple. It was here that the Deities for the San Antonio temple were housed and worshiped from 1984 to 1989 until the temple was built at the top of a nearby hill.
Rama Krishna has generously donated Ganesha murtis and other murtis for Bodhinatha to give to temple groups starting up around the US and Canada. This Ganapati is for a group that hopes to create a temple in Honolulu. Bodhinatha ceremonially received the murti and performed abhishekam to it.
The talk at the temple on Sunday morning was on "Prayer and Meditation" and was attended by many more devotees, including many youth.
Bodhinatha took the opportunity to show off our new Hindu Children's Modern Stories books, proudly announcing that the ebook editions are available now on the Amazon Kindle Store and the Apple iBookstore, months prior to the print editions becoming available for sale in the US.
After the talk, many people lined up to speak with Bodhinatha and get his advice. This young man was born in India and moved to the US when he was 2. He considers himself completely an American. He asked one of Bodhinatha's favorite questions: "If I have a Ganesha in my room at home, why should I ever come to the temple to worship?"
The priests asked everyone to sit for the final archana and maha mangala arati on Sunday. It was a poignantly devotional affair, with beautiful, powerful, lyrical chanting.
As you can see, like in Tirupati, the Balaji murti here is larger than life.
Our new brahmachari, Mayuran Sokkan, drove down from Killeen to be with Bodhinatha for the weekend. He had a wonderful, devotional time. Mayuran is on his way to Kauai to become a monk in our monastery. Once the temple board members got wind of this, a few of them took him under their wing and made sure he was blessed at all of the homas and pujas. One gave him a beautiful veshti and shawl and showered him with good advice. Mayuran will arrive at Kauai Aadheenam on April 10, a day before Bodhinatha and Senthilnathaswami return from their Texas-Louisiana-Arizona yatra. We look forward to welcoming you home, Brahmachariji!
A visit to San Antonio is never complete without darshan with Dr. Pemmaraju Narasimha Rao and his wife Suvarna Rani, founding members of the temple here and ongoing senior advisors to the temple board of trustees. They regaled us with wonderful stories about Gurudeva's visits to San Antonio in the 80s and 90s, especially one when Gurudeva's outbound flight was delayed and he invited them to have an impromptu satsang over coffee for an hour in the airport until his flight departed. Jai Gurudeva! Jai to the Lone Star State, a haven to Hindus in the 21st century.
2 Responses to “Bodhinatha's Visit to San Antonio”
"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