The last stop on Bodhinatha's recent trip was West Texas, in the Permian Basin popular for its abundant fossil fuel resources.
First on the agenda was the third in a series of interfaith panels that Dr. Padmaja Patel has arranged so that members of the local community in the twin cities of Midland and Odessa can learn more about how various faiths look at modern issues. This year the event (video here) was hosted by St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church in Midland, with their retired Bishop Rev. Sam Hulsey speaking on the panel with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami (Hindu), Dr. Randel Everett (Baptist), Rabbi Holly Cohn (Jewish), Mr. Jerry Zant (Mormon) and Imam Wazir Ali (Muslim).
Just prior to the weekend, the Patel family was joined by Chellappa and Banu Devi Deva from Phoenix in taking Bodhinatha and Senthilnathaswami on an overnight outing to Big Bend National Park on the Mexican border. Oh, what a beautiful piece of the Old West! Hikes and much needed relaxation after a couple weeks on the road were in order. On the way back, a stop at the famous art town of Marfa for a look at the galleries, followed by the Monahans Sand Dunes, then we were back in Midland-Odessa for a full weekend program of satsangs and talks before heading home to Kauai. Enjoy the photos and captions for details.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami's next stop was Fort Worth, to visit the site of the new Hindu temple being built there. Soil and gravel compaction was set to begin the next day in preparation for the sinking of 30-foot pilings on which the temple foundation will rest. We also had the opportunity to visit the temporary temple, which is located in a shopping complex. As it was Monday, the priest invited Senthilnathaswami to help with the Siva abhishekam. The opportunities to perform worship oneself while traveling are few, so this was a cherished moment.
Driving all the way across the metroplex to Plano, the next event was at the Sri Ganesha Temple, another of the many new temples coming up in the area. This temple also recently had its groundbreaking ceremony and plans to begin building soon. Bodhinatha gave a talk in a temporary classroom located on their land.
A month back the monastery received a call, inviting Bodhinatha to attend and bless their 25th-Year Anniversary puja on April 21, today. With Bodhinatha in Texas, Sadasivanathaswami and Yoginathaswami flew to Oahu for the special event.
It is closing a circle, since it was in 1988 that Savitri Kumaran, then working as a nurse at a local hospital, first saw an article on the Haawaiian Healing Stone, and visited it. Seeing that it was so akin to a Sivalingam, she invited others to come and see, and soon it attracted Gurudeva's attention.
He saw it was being neglected and flew over to begin monthly pujas, and for a long time the monks did this each month until the local community was able to take it on. They have done it regularly since then under the name of LOTUS.
The specialty of this site is that it is a small 10-foot cube right on the sidewalk in a small community. Yoginatha did a great abhishekam and Sadasivanathaswami held a short satsang afterwards, answering the question,"What is the future of Hinduism in America?"
A wonderful meal followed in an elementary school cafeteria, with lots of animated conversation.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami's third stop in Texas was the greater Austin area. Our first activity here was meeting with Sushma Khadepaun-Parmar of Cutting Chai Productions, who made the monastery's introductory video for this website. She shot an interview with Bodhinatha for a future introductory video on the Hindu Heritage Endowment.
Next, Bodhinatha spoke at the Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Austin in the suburb of Cedar Park, delivering his three-part Keynote presentation on character, the four yogas and the four progressive stages of life to an audience of about 50. The temple has a beautiful new auditorium facility, and Bodhinatha was the first swami to give a discourse there.
The main activity during our visit to Austin was the Hindu Students Association's Senior Leadership Spiritual Weekend. We have conducted this retreat with the organization's national officers and members of their board of directors twice before. It is a much-needed time of personal knowledge development in Hinduism for these young leaders and an opportunity for them to get their many questions answered by Bodhinatha and his accompanying swami. Some still in college and some in the first years of their professional lives, they come from diverse backgrounds, a few with a lot but many with very little knowledge of their faith imparted by their parents when they were growing up. The organization itself is only three years old, and Bodhinatha and the monastery have been supporting it with guidance and leadership retreats like this, support that the leaders genuinely need and sincerely appreciate.
The last activity on the way out of town was a talk at the Hindu Temple of Central Texas in a town called Temple. People throughout the state affectionately refer to this beautiful, powerful Ganapati temple simply as "Temple Texas." The families that started this temple are predominantly from Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Andhra Pradesha and Kerala.
Our archives are in the process of being migrated from the old site. Please check back later.