After a pleasant drive south along the Texas-Louisiana border down to Houston, our first event was with 50-60 invited guests of the Hindus of Greater Houston at their "Keshav Smruti" facility. Bodhinatha gave a great presentation about affirmations, his recent work with the Hindu Students Association and how to interact positively and proactively with the local media.
After the presentation there was plenty of time for interactive discussion with this key group of Houstonian Hindu leaders.
The discussion was lively. The Hindu community in Houston is enormous, one of the largest in the US, and so well established, with at least 25 temples and community centers throughout the area. These representatives were eager to draw on Bodhinatha's wisdom and experience regarding matters from teaching children about Hinduism to dealing with negative media portrayals to taking care of 60,000 Bhutanese Hindu refugees who have arrived in the area in the past couple of years and who are being targeted by strong, local Christian conversion efforts.
On Saturday morning we drove up to The Woodlands, a beautiful, wooded area north of Houston, where a new Hindu temple is being built. Here Bodhinatha stands in the currently-under-construction facility with one of the founders, Dr. Urmil Shukla, while a crane operates nearby.
Beth Kulkarni (far left) is another of the founders of this temple. She is a shining light in the Houstonian Hindu community for the past several decades.
After visiting the temple, Bodhinatha gave a presentation and had some intimate discussion with a small group of ten at Dr. Shukla's home. Attendance was low because of the cricket match between India and Sri Lanka this morning. Mrs. Kulkarni said that many, many more people RSVP'd, but that was before India rose to the cricket World Cup final game position.
A visit to Houston is never complete without seeing Pandit Rajendra Sharma and his wife Asha (left) and their dear friend Asha Chaku (center), who came to Bodhinatha's hotel room for darshan.
"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