A few weeks back the organizers of a Hindu History Conference reached out to bring two of our swamis to a conference in San Jose, California, near San Francisco. Since we have been involved in the US history textbooks for sixth grade, and since we had just finished a movie on those lessons, Bodhinatha felt it was useful to respond.
Off flew Sadasivanathaswami and Arumuganathaswami, who has been the pointman for these projects and was eager to show the 22-minute film to an audience who could understand its merits.
The two-day event focused on a dual agenda: Hindu historiography, with scholars from India, Canada, Europe and the US present. It had the potential to be less than scintillating, but in fact turned out to be amazingly informative for the swamis.
Sadasivanathaswami gave a 10-minute Keynote introducing the main event, an annual lecture in honor of the life and writings of Indian scholar Sita Ram Goel, whom Gurudeva knew well and visited often in India. Sita Ram came to the monastery in 1986. He also blessed two book releases with Rudraksha malas from Kauai.
Acharya Arumuganathaswami gave the most fascinating and graphically-rich of all presentations, the movie preceded by a history of the California textbook controversy. Both got high praise and abundant applause.
Then the swamis were taken to Freemont to the home of Sivaram and Devika Eswaran for a delightful satsang with members and a gourmet (15-course) dinner.
A traditional welcoming arathi at the doorway, was followed by pradakshina of the home and the Gods within. An arati was followed by Natchintanai singing lead by Amma Bhavani Param and Yatrika. The home's pure and perfectly clear Siva Linga was passed to Paramacharya to carry and place it on the special shrine set in the living room for the Siva puja. Sivaram and his son, Arunesh, then conducted a splendid, Deity-invoking Siva puja. After more singing to the Gods and a short "Ganesha sloka" by Arunesh, a Carnatic song "Devathi Deva SadaSiva – composition of Sage Thyagaraja" by Devika & Yatrika, all joined to sing the famed "Money Bags Song."
Paramacharya's was asked to speak and he talked of the conference, of the science of rituals and the new science of consciousness, then expounded on Gurudeva's teaching that everything is energy, and that even negative energies, if responded to with wisdom and trust, can turn out to be a blessing in life. "We are not in full control of all that comes our way in life, but we are in control of how we react and respond to what comes." He gave some great stories about how Gurudeva taught this lesson to the monks when real challenges came to the monastery over the years.
Acharya then spoke of the conference and the movie and the work he has been doing with the textbook controversy. He shared that the conference was in part about the Hindu-Christion nexus, and how that went.
Paramacharya offered vibuthi prasadam to all present. A grand confluence of perfect souls, reminding us of the days when devotees gathered in the evening at Yogaswami's humble hut, to sing, to hear Swami's words of wisdom, to sit in silence and enjoy Siva's presence in all things. Aum Namasivaya!
Focus on being a soul, not the body, mind and emotions. When we think of ourselves as a soul we're able to move forward and get closer and closer to Siva. That's the whole idea of Saiva Siddhanta. A negative self-concept is an obstacle. We can change our self-concept through applying Gurudeva's teachings, affirming every day that we are a divine being. Vasana daha tantra: Going back and understanding experiences; clearing up the reactions to the past.