World Hindu Congress in New Delhi

Back in October, just days before Yoginathaswami and I were to leave for India, the Vishva Hindu Parishad urged us to stay an extra week in India for the most important Hindu congress ever, offering to pay our expenses and also give us a Keynote speech in the Media Conference. With Bodhinatha's blessings, we said yes and during the days before the Congress were able to go to Rishikesh, and have critical meetings in New Delhi.

The World Hindu Congress 2014 proved to be an amazing gathering, held at the prestigious Ashoka Hotel. Swami and I were deeply moved by the spirit of the Congress, replete with calls for cooperation, optimism for Hinduism's future and a palpable sense of hope and good will. Many business men and entertainers came forward to express their love of Hinduism and Indian culture and history, many who had before hidden their Hinduness for many complex reasons.

In fact, one of the fascinating subtexts was what I called the Nomenclature Wars, rousing (I mean really forceful) demands that the word Hindu never be used, the women's group calling for the use of "Indian civilization" in its place. On the other side, our own sharing of Gurudeva's attitude about this, a call for taking possession of the "H" word with pride and purpose. We tried (probably with little effect) to explain how this renunciation of the name of our religion looks to observers outside of India, and how much of a fairytale it is to hope to change the name of our religion in Webster's dictionary. Of course, some argued, as we knew they would, that it is not a religion at all, but a culture and lifestyle. Hmmm! Our term, "the 'H' word," went a bit viral and was repeated in other sessions including the concluding plenary. Hindus are really conflicted about the name.

The presence of the Dalai Lama at the opening ceremonies was a highlight. The spiritual leader of the Tibetian Buddhists said some interesting things: "I regard Buddhists as the chelas of India's ancient gurus, who were among the greatest philosophical minds of humanity. In fact, Buddhists are reliable chelas, and modern-day Hindus may wish to return to the study of scripture and a non-consumerism way of life. I can say, honestly, that I am a good Hindu." This group loved such commendations from an eminent world leader, and it set the pace for the many sessions to follow.

The mood of the moment was one of promise, and it was noted that now, for the first time in 800 years, India has as its leader a Hindu, and a devoted, bold and disciplined Hindu at that. The election of Narendra Modi some months back has set the entire nation on a new arc toward a future that many Hindus had lost hope of ever seeing. Now that hope has been rekindled, and speech after speech spoke of the possibilities ahead.

The room was filled, every seat taken and people standing in the aisles and hallways, something rarely seen at any conference. After to opening plenary, the delegates broke up into seven parallel conferences which sought to embrace the fullness of Hindu dharma: economics, politics, media, women, youth, education and human rights.

The Congress is the brainchild of the 50-year-old and infinitely dynamic Swami Vigyananand, who gave a rousing opening speech. Swami has spent years working toward this day.

Two reports follow, one from Yoginathaswami and another from Rahul Chandra of World Hindu News.

Yoginathaswami: "You could not enter the giant hall secured by armed guards unless you were registered participant. This is because of the security for Dalai Lama who is one of the guests for the inauguration. An interesting point in Dalai Lama's speech was that he openly admitted that Buddhism is the chela of Hinduism. He then added, the chela is doing fine to keep the tradition going but the Guru is not. Hindus need to work harder to keep the Sanatana Dharma tradition and religion intact."

World Hindu News: "World Hindu Congress 2014 was completed successfully with more than 1600 Hindu leaders from 50 countries participating. The mammoth congress had seven conference agendas, 45 sessions, 1500 delegates and 200 speakers from 50 countries. The conference reverberated the Hindu resurgence globally and enabled Hindu leaders and representatives from across the globe to share solution models for Hindu social, political, youth, women, business and media requirements. "

Recent Siddhidatta Kulam Projects

The Siddhidatta Kulam has been making great deals of progress with the extra assistance they've had over the last month. Many large and small projects are being completed. Following are photos of a small amount of what they've been doing.

Bodhinatha’s Travels

A few photos from Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Shanmuganathaswami of their travels in Singapore.

Media Studio Wainscoting and Lava Rocks

With the bulk of the Media Studio having been completed, a few final detailed projects remain. Though the list is short, these to-do's require ample time and skill to come to fruition. Two such projects are now wrapping up, and they happen to be some of most noteworthy additions to the building's near-finished look and feel: the mango wainscoting on the north wall and the entryway's lava rock.

With help from master-carpenter Jeff, the wainscoting on the north wall was fully created, assembled and finished in the woodshop, before being carried over the the building for a quick and easy installation. This is the mango wood from the tree that had to be cut down outside the Media Studio. It will live on as one the the space's most stunning features.

It has been a long process to properly prepare the entryway walls for the placement of lava rock. The two massive doors on either side had to be engineered to hold hundreds of pounds of weight. The left-side door leads to Arumuganathaswami's office and the right-side door leads to the building's restroom. Both doors are designed to blend into the lava rock walls. Brad, a master stoneworker, has been hired to fit the stones to perfection. He is creating beautiful seams in the doors and a balanced look around the two wooden shrines of both Gurudeva and Ganesha.

New Delhi Projects

The map shows a summary of our weeks in Bharat, from North to South and back north again. After Rishikesh and our bath in the holy waters--the glacially cold holy waters--we returned to New Delhi for two days of meetings with teams and individuals who are collaborating with us on projects. We settled into the Ibis Hotel, a new one built in a section near the airport called Aerocity.

Artists and distributors, swamis and IT experts all came to visit. We were also taken to Golak Dham by the disciples of Sri Gopal Sharan whose generosity brought us to India, our Hindu of the Year in 2009 and a dynamic force here and abroad. Golak Dham is his primary ashram here in New Delhi, and we took great joy in being with him and his shishyas, an unusually devout team of sadhaks. The ashram is a veritable park in the midst of the city, with peacocks and fruit trees, meditation paths and a perfectly delightful cow-dung kutir where Swami resides (temporarily we are told).

As with many ashrams in India Golak Dham is building-blossoming one could say. His current project is a goshala. Swami has made it a central feature of the ashram and built it in granite and stainless steel, so it is perfectly clean. He's make it two stories with a long ramp that allows the cows access to the upper level where they are fed and curried each day.

Almost everywhere we went this past month, the presence and protection of the cow was there. It seems to us, unverified but anecdotal, that the consciousness of cow care and propagation is reaching new heights here in India. Over the decades we have encountered many expressions of it, but not on this scale and not with this intensity. Today someone stopped us in the halls of the Congress at the Ashoka Hotel (story yet to be told) to share about a goshala in Virginia which we need to research for our article.

All the meetings in New Delhi proved fruitful, as you will see in the slideshow. So much more effective to have discussions in person, the old-fashioned way.

What follows is optional reading, a cute poem by a 14-year-old girl about her experiences milking a cow, composed in the manner of Edgar Allan Poe's Raven poem (monks who milk daily may find the following difficult to read to the end).

Once upon an evening balmy, with a book that did enthrall me, Lo! I heard my mother call me, call me from the lower stair. And with soft impatient moaning, then I laid my book down, groaning. And, since there was no postponing, ran to see what waited there.
Said my mother (small, but sturdy), "See, the clock now says 6:30. Go put on your barn clothes dirty, and your boots so big and strong, for the cows are nicely waiting, and their cuds they're masticating, and their milk's accumulating in the udders, all along."
Thought I, "Mother, so deluded, from this happy task excluded, your ideas may be disputed by the ones that truly know. True, the task may be quite pleasing, warm milk from the udder squeezing, listening to the rhythmic wheezing, and the chewing soft and low.
"True, some cows may come politely, with their long tails moving lightly. Coming calmly, daily, nightly, steps so dignified, so sure. But the other has to vent her anger on the one who's pent her... If she does decide to enter, coverall things with manure."
From the green and tender pasture, she runs fast and then runs faster, fleeing from her irate master, jumping fences, dodging trees, plunging deep in mud and water to escape from those who sought her, and when you have finally caught her, thick with mud up to her knees.
Finally to the barn you lead her, and you truly want to beat her, but to quiet down you need her, so the milk will gently flow. So you pat her and you stroke her (though you greatly want to choke her) and to peaceful calm provoke her, speaking quiet, speaking slow.
All to failure come your ruses. She to settle down refuses and inflicts upon you bruises with her hard and filthy hoof... With her tail so wet and muddy, sharply swats at everybody till your stinging face is ruddy and you want to hit the roof...
Wildly panting, wildly glaring, from her hot eyes madly staring till it takes an act of daring to draw close and wash her off. With warm water then you flood her, gently cleanse the miry udder, hose the dirt into the gutter, dry her with a downy cloth.
All at last is calm and quiet. She licks up her grainy diet, so you settle down to try it with the milk pail 'twixt her knees, milking quickly, leftly, rightly. She is standing quite politely with her long tail moving lightly, quite as calmly as you please.
And the milk comes smoothly, surely. She is standing quite demurely, with her tail so long and curly swatting gently at the flies. Suddenly you feel a shudder . . . hoof moves swiftly past the udder, tips the pail into the gutter, leaves you blinking in surprise.
Then with rage your heart is seething and your lungs have trouble breathing, but her sides are calmly heaving, calmly swishing is her tail. Try to milk with hands aflutter, but you squeeze an empty udder, for the milk is in the gutter, so you set aside the pail.
So you step up then to loose her, to departure to induce her, but disdaining thoughts of truce, her foot is planted on your toe. Frantically you pound her, screaming . . . quite unmoved she rests there, dreaming. Finally, pain enough it deeming, placidly she turns to go.  
Trudging home in evening's hour, longing vainly for a shower, feeling tired, sore, and sour from the fracas you've been in, though you know you should not borrow trouble from the unknown morrow, yet you know, with certain sorrow, you must do it all again.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

September 2014
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