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.
San Antonio, Texas, is home to some of the first Hindu families to have arrived in the US. Dr. Pemmaraju Narasimha Rao and his wife Rani migrated in 1958, when there was not another Hindu to be found for hundreds of miles in every direction. He was a prominent physician and professor in biomedical research, and she was a yoga instructor. They raised two sons and a daughter and generously cared for every other Hindu family that came to the area, a pattern that picked up pace in the 1970s. Meeting Swami Satchidananda and Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami numerous times in the 1970s and 80s, they received much encouragement to build a Hindu temple here. The Hindu Temple of San Antonio was founded by the Raos and several other families in the late 1980s. Gurudeva visited on several occasions, and Rani loves to tell stories about meeting him in the airport and mystical happenings that always seemed to take place around him. Bodhinatha has come to speak at the San Antonio temple several times in the last few years at the invitation of the group here.
After stopping briefly in San Francisco to meet with our IT consultants, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami are in Texas for the next couple of weeks.
First stop: Houston.
Beginning in the north, we visited The Woodlands on Friday and Bodhinatha gave his first talk on the trip to a group of 60-70 at the new Hindu temple there. Following that we moved to Stafford on Saturday, where Bodhinatha was the honored guest at the first official meeting of the Board of Advisors for the Hindus of Greater Houston, a group that brings together the 30+ Hindu groups in the area to share knowledge, help solve the problems of Houston's 100,000+ Hindu community together and collaborate on projects such as their signature annual Grand Janmashtami event held downtown. The advisors were eager to hear Bodhinatha's thoughts on a number of important subjects, including a few touchy ones. On Sunday the Meenakshi Temple Society in Pearland, down in the South, hosted Bodhinatha for worship and a talk to about 80 devotees. Founded in 1979, this temple is the oldest in the Houston area and one of the oldest traditional Hindu temples in the US. Seeking guidance first from Gurudeva and then from Bodhinatha over the decades, we have always been close. It was a big family reunion of sorts.
Before driving west to San Antonio, we met with the mayor of Stafford, Leonard Scarcella, who is perhaps the best non-Hindu spokesman for Hindus that we have met. We invited him to collaborate with us a little bit on an article for Hinduism Today about the contributions of Hindus to America, and he agreed to write a short op-ed sharing some of his rather profound insights into the wonderful way in which the Hindus in the US have worked to blend with American culture and society in the past three decades.
Our archives are in the process of being migrated from the old site. Please check back later.