Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami's and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami's visit to New York included a courtesy call to our dear friend Swami Parameshananda, who participates each year at the Hindu Mandir Executives' Conference, and who participated in the Mauritius Innersearch last month.
Swamiji took us to Divya Dham Jalaram Mandir in Woodside, NY, opened in 1993 by Swami Jagdishwaranand when he brought by land and sea the flames from many of the holy centers of the North of India, combining them into a single flame that burns eternally here. After Swami passed away in 2005, the America Sevashram Sangh (branch of Bharat Sevashram Sangh) accepted his request to take over management of this large temple-museum in two conjoined warehouses in the heart of Queens.
The mandir is focused on Siva and Shakti. There is a giant black granite Sivalinga and many other Lingas, including a wall of 1,008 small Lingas--a curiously familiar concept. There is a Vaishno Devi cave, dozens upon dozens of murtis of all the popular Gods and Goddesses. Upstairs is a huge shrine to the Sakti Peeths, with 51 white marble murtis in individual shrinettes. There is also a scale model of the Himalayan range, including model trains, cars, bridges, temples, ashrams and hotels. Artifacts from across the North of India abound, and it's really quite a lot to take in.
After Divya Dham, Swami Parameshananda took us to his home, the America Sevashram Sangh Ashram in Jamaica, NY. And all along the way we saw mandir after mandir, ashram after ashram. We have known for a long time that Queens is home to many Hindu organizations, but to see them ourselves scattered here and there as we drove throughout the area was a revelation.
Thamilmani Visakan writes from Perth, Australia:
"Master Course student Sudha Vinadharan's daughter S. Thivaashenee got to know this song to Gurudeva during our Jaffna pilgrimage from the Malaysian members. She was so attracted to the song that she memorized it within couple of hours during their journey back from Jaffna to Colombo. Sudha, sent her voice clip about a month ago and I did the editing."
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.