With great enthusiasm, the monastery welcomed the two-day visit of Swami Aksharananda of Guyana. Swami has mixed with us at the annual HMEC meetings in the US and recently at the World Hindu Congress in New Delhi.
Swami came with a mission, to help the 500 students in his school. He is eager to engage them more in Hindu studies and finds the Himalayan Academy books and resources the best out there for this work. Swami also has formally invited Bodhinatha to come to Guyana, meet his teachers and students, give talks and uplift the 300,000 Hindus in the nation.
Swami told the monks during lunch that they probably do not know how deeply their work and life here affects the wider world. He said Gurudeva's ashram is unique in all the world, both for keeping the H-word in its vocabulary and for genuinely embracing and supporting all of the sampradayas in a truly universal spirit. We could add that Swami's own heart is of that same spirit.
Swami Aksharananda is a key figure in the Hindu community of Guyana. As a Hindu scholar and Prinicipal of the Saraswati Vidya Niketan (SVN) High School, he was honored by Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra and Keshav-Srishti on Friday January 4, 2008 during a ceremony at the Alkesh Mody Auditorium, Kalina Campus, Mumbai. Swami was honored for his work in the areas of education and social service in Guyana. He has an MA in Sanskrit from Banaras Hindu University and PhD in Hindu Studies from the University of Madison, Wisconsin.
Over the three day retreat, Senthilnathaswami and Nilakanthanatha took our three taskforcers Adi, Vel and Roshan, and our upakurvana, Sivarathna, on an outing to the other side of Kauai. While the east side of the island is lush and green, the west side is much dryer. The group traveled to the town of Waimea, where they took the road up the mountain to see Waimea Canyon. They enjoyed lunch together in Kokee park, visited the Kalalau lookout--which was unfortunately cloudy--and then went for a hike through the mountain forests.
Yesterday, three of the monks made a short visit to Kauai's annual farm fair. It is one of the largest events held on the island each year. The fair draws thousands of people from around the island to enjoy the food, carnival rides, animals, crafts, booths and the vegetable, orchid and bonsai competitions.
Recently the monastery was visited by the Kawakini kindergarden class. Just a few months ago a Kawakini middle school class also visited. It is a unique school in that until 5th grade, the only language used is Hawaiian.
The class offered a chant to Ganesha at the entrance, had a short tour, posed for a photo at the flagpole and met Kashi, our new bull calf.
Unless kundalini is active, the deepest meditative states are not available to us. But to activate kundalini, Gurudeva tells us we must invoke the grace of Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan. "Yoga is internalized worship which leads to union with God." Experience the inside of you in a profound way. This requires dispassion. The popular term "kriya yoga" usual refers to a form of pranayama, but the original kriya yoga is defined by Sage Patanajli as the practice of three of the niyamas: tapas, svadhyaya and Isvarapranidhana. To achieve samadhi we practice yoga, steady restraint of mental activities, austerity, meditation, detachment, self study and worship of God. Communion with the Ishta Devata, the chosen God is a key and also Gurudeva tells us: the Deity chooses you.
Master Course, Dancing with Siva, Lesson 39
Master Course, Merging with Siva, Lesson 5
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras