Tirukural, Chapter 7-8, BAPS, London Visit

Bodhinatha continues his series on the Tirukural chapter 7-8 synopsis summary. Also includes the presentation of the talk he planned to give while visiting London to the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, expressing the various similarities and stating Hinduism Today's Magazine first purpose: "To foster Hindu solidarity as a unity in diversity among all sects and lineages."

Unedited Transcript:

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Good Morning Everyone.

Two more Tirukural synopsis chapters.

Chapter Seven

The Blessings of Children

In "The Blessings of Children" Tiruvalluvar begins by describing the benefits of having children and states that an intelligent child is the greatest blessing to the family and is indeed the family's real wealth.

In two verses Valluvar shows that the karma of the child and parents is interrelated. He first says that if the children are of blameless character those who bear them have the good karma to not be touched by evil for seven births. Next he adds that the nature of the child reflects the deeds of the parents.

The poet then describes what every parent knows so well andyacute; that simple actions when done by one's own children become so much more. Boiled rice stirred by the child is far sweeter than divine nectar. Their touch is a delight to the body and their chatter is a joy to the ear, sweeter than even the sounds of the flute and lute.

He then states that it is the father's duty to train the son to sit at the forefront of learned councils and in return it is the

son's duty to make the world ask by what great austerities did he merit such a son? The poet here is stressing the relationship between the merit or good karma of the parents and the nature of the child born to them and gives an important key for conceiving high-souled children andyacute;performing penance.

Tiruvalluvar also describes the great joy that mother and father have when they know their children surpass them in intelligence as well as when the world acknowledges the children as good and learned individuals.

Chapter Eight

Possessing Love

In "Possessing Love" Tiruvalluvar emphasizes the importance of experiencing or uniting with love by saying that it is the very reason the soul has taken birth, or united with the body. Why is this? Valluvar answers by saying that love transforms us from a selfish person concerned only about ourselves into a kind person who is affectionate toward all and fully dedicated, to the bone, to helping others.

What are the benefits of such a love? Tiruvalluvar lists them as the priceless treasure of friendship, worldly happiness here and heavenly bliss hereafter. The poet also says it is impossible to successfully contain and hide from others such a love because its presence inside is shown to others by our heart felt tears on the outside. He also states that the power to love exists in everyone, those who are act virtuously as well as those who are prone to vice.

What is life like without love? The poet describes a life without love in the heart as a sapless tree in a barren desert and further states that a loveless being will be scorched by virtue like a boneless worm in the blazing sun.

Tiruvalluvar concludes by saying that a body that is free of outer imperfections is of no value if it is inwardly impaired by a lack of love and that without love the body is but bones encased in skin but with love enshrined in the heart one truly lives.

We're getting ready to go to London. We're praying for warm weather, the weather there is fickled like the weather here you never know today if it's going to be cold here in Kauai and put on your shawl or if it's going to be hot. So London is the same way, it snowed a week and a half ago and now it's warm so we're hoping it stays warm.

We're giving a number of talks and one of them is to the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission of the UK and I thought I'd share that with you, it's interesting. We're talking about them but of course in talking about them we're talking about ourselves. So you have to look at it from that point of view

Our namaskars to His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for allowing us to speak to the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission satsang. We also wish to acknowledge Sadhu Atmaswarupdas and all the other dedicated sadhus present this evening.

Our relationship with the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha began some nine years ago in 1995 when our founder and Guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, affectionately known as Gurudeva, attended the 75th Jayanthi of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mumbai. Also at that time he visited Akshardam and your monastic training center in Sarangpur where he spoke to the young sadhus there on the importance of obeying the Guru.

In 1995 we chose His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj as the recipient of our Hindu Renaissance Award. This award honors one eminent Hindu each year who has most impacted the faith and spread its values, compassion and profundity across the globe.

In July 2004, we had the privilege of being present at the opening of the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston, Texas and I thought you would enjoy hearing the short talk I was honored to give on that occasion. The various points made in the talk, of course, are all equally applicable to your Mandir here in Neasden. (Which by the way is quite fantastic looking.)

Here's the talk for Houston:

"We are very pleased to be participating in these historic inauguration ceremonies for the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir of Greater Houston. The outer architecture of this temple is exquisite and indeed a rare accomplishment worthy of wide recognition and praise and will certainly elevate the opinion of many about the greatness and sophistication of Hindu traditions. However, more important is the inner, spiritual significance of the temple to the devotees who will worship here for generations to come.

This inner significance is captured quite profoundly in the words of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj when he says that a mandir (which is there word for temple):

is a center for realizing God

is where the mind becomes still

is a place of paramount peace

inspires a higher way of life

teaches us to respect one another

preserves our cultural values

and sustains our unique identity

In today's troubled world, many thoughtful individuals are concerned about bringing greater peace into the world. A temple such as the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir helps individuals find more peace within themselves, which in turn brings greater harmony into their homes, which in turn creates greater tolerance and unity within the community.

Another important aspect of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir is how it will influence this and future generations of children. With most schools focusing solely on secular studies, there is a need for children to learn traditional values in a religious setting such as this. In other words, it is not enough to simply learn to read and write, children also need to learn what to read and write. And the concept of what it means to be a successful adult needs to include not only wealth and family but also the principles of a pious life of virtuous conduct, fulfillment of duty to family, community and country and regular worship of God and Guru at the mandir and in the home shrine."

That's the end of our Houston talk.

In Houston we enjoined meeting a number of the devotees. One father had an interesting story. He described how his two sons were devoting their entire summer to helping in the construction of the Houston Mandir. They would rise early every morning and leave for the Mandir and only return home about midnight to sleep for a few hours. Then the next morning they would leave early to go back to the Mandir to continue with the construction efforts. The father was rightfully proud of the strong religious spirit of service in his sons, and we were quite impressed as well at the extent of their dedication.

Though our Order of sadhus is less than sixty years old, small and of course worshippers of Lord Siva, still we feel there are number of strong similarities between our sangam of devotees and yours. Let me mention a few of them.

The first similarity is that both sangams have a living satguru and a tradition for perpetuating the guru lineage for future generations. Truly the divine blessings of a living satguru help us to make much greater spiritual progress in our lifetime than is otherwise possible. Of course this acceleration of spiritual progress is not automaticand#151;rather it happens because we are obedient. That is we follow the general principles taught by the Guru as well asand#151;if we are fortunate enoughand#151;any personal advise the Guru has given to us. Obedience is indeed the key.

Our founder and Guru, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, affectionately known as Gurudeva, attained Mahasamadhi in November, 2001. On that occasion, His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj sent us a message we would like to share which contains insights into the continuity of the spiritual power of a guru lineage. Swamishri (that's another name for Pramukh Swami) said:

"The first duty of all the disciples and monks of Gurudeva would be to follow every command of Gurudeva and keep on doing the great work he has been doing in letter and spirit. In Hinduism's tradition the body dies but the spirit and consciousness of the person who has left the body will continue to guide. I will do special prayers personally for Gurudeva who has done great work. Gurudeva's spirit will continue to guide his successor. Gurudeva's saintliness and spiritual values will continue to guide the whole lineage. This has been the tradition of Hinduism." That's a nice statement.

A second similarity between our sangams is that in your and our mandirs the ceremonies are conducted by the sadhus (that's their word for monks) themselves and not by a married priest or priests. Therefore, in the mandir you are joining the sadhus in their worship. This provides a distinct kind of experience. Your sadhus are wonderful examples of purity and devotion and you are quite fortunate to be able to worship with them. Be ever grateful and appreciative for their holy presence.

A third similarity is that your and our mandir have active teaching programs in which the sadhus systematically present the teachings of the lineage. There is no lack of teachings or confusion as to what teachings are that the organization believes. It is all crystal clear thanks again to the presence of the sadhus.

Let me take a minute to express a few thoughts from our guru on the stability provided by communities of sadhus."Families are blessed who share in and support the renunciation of their sons born through them to perform a greater dharma than the grihastha life could ever offer. It is the monastic communities worldwide, of all religions, that sustain sanity on this planet. It is the monks living up to their vows who sustain the vibration of law and order in the communities and nations of the world. This is how the inner worlds see each monastic community worldwide. This is how it is and should always be. This is how humanity balances out its experiential karmas and avoids destroying itself as it passes through the darkness of the Kali Yuga. The monastic communities that surround the planet, fulfilling their dharma, compensate for the adharma that is so prevalent, thus ensuring that humanity does not self-destruct in these trying times."

The forth and last similarity between our sangams that I would like to point out is a respect and tolerance for each otherand#146;s traditions. Unfortunately such respect and tolerance does not always exist between Vaishnatives and Saivites, between worshippers of Vishnu and worshippers of Siva.

In the Shikshapatri, Bhagwan Swaminarayan states:"The Vedas proclaim Narayan and Shiv (means Shiva) as one and as Brahmaswarup, Godand#146;s true nature, and, therefore, they should be known accordingly. Bhagwan Swaminarayan also enjoins his devotees:"In the month of Shravan, they shall worship or engage the services of pious Brahmin devotees to worship Shiv with Bilva-patras and the like." And finally he indicates his devotees shall fast on Shivratri and celebrate this festival with great reverence." And of course, on the physical and visible side there is also a side shrine to Shiv in your Mandir.

Our Gurudevaand#146;s statement on religious tolerance is"Saivites profoundly know that God Siva is the same Supreme Being in whom peoples of all faiths find solace, peace and liberation." He also says,"Sivaand#146;s devotees, with hearts as big as the sky, love and accept Smarta, Sakta and Vaishnava Hindus as brothers and sisters, even if not accepted by them, and keep harmony by not discussing differences." In our mandir we have a side shrine with the image of Shankaranarayana, half Shiva, half Vishnu, which of course symbolizes the unity of Siva and Vishnu.

As a result of our July 2004 attendance at the opening of your mandir in Houston, Texas we were able to produce a major article on BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and your Houston Mandir in the January 2005 issue of our magazine Hinduism Today. An important part of our mission is promoting all the major Hindu denominations and organizations and we utilize our magazine Hinduism Today for that purpose.

His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj after being shown the article and hearing it translated into Gujarati, asked one of his sadhus to convey a special word of appreciation and prayers for the encouraging and inspiring works Hinduism Today is doing in promoting Sanatan Dharma. The message from Swamishree states:"The various articles, tidbits of relevant information and news are inspiring and gladdening. It infuses and strengthens pride in all Hindus. The glory of Hindu Dharma and its universal appeal is elegantly displayed through Hinduism Today."

Many Hindus around the world feel there is a need to stand together as a united group to advance the image of Hinduism and protect the rights of Hindus in their country. However, often times those involved feel this can only be achieved if Hindus adopt a unified set of beliefs and practices. Our approach as formulated by Gurudeva is that Hindus can be unified and achieve the benefits of standing strong together for Hinduism while maintaining our multiplicity of great traditions. We express this in our magazines first purpose:"To foster Hindu solidarity as a unity in diversity among all sects and lineages."

We are pleased to be able to be here today and have this opportunity to speak to you all, and look forward to our relationship with the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha continuing to be a close one over the years to come. Thank you. Om Shanti.

It felt like you were there? Travel in the mind, it's so much cheaper. Anyway we're looking forward to a great trip. Arumuganathaswami leave on the 22nd, three days.

We have some other activities, this isn't our main activity. The main activities are we're going in conjunction with the annual Mahasamadhi of Yogaswami, it's actually on the 21st but as is common it's being celebrated on the weekend. It's interesting, it just so happens the weekend is a four day holiday because of Easter, not only Saturday and Sunday but also Friday and Monday are public holidays. So it works our very well for us to have events and see people, it's very unusual to have a four day weekend.

First event is for Yogaswami, I think it's at the Wimbleton Ganesha Temple. Then the next day we have an event for the hosts father, the hosts are Indra and Sabapati Sivayogam, it's her father and he's a former Justice in the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka. It's his 100th birthday celebration so we're giving a talk there.

Then we have a half day seminar, 9:00am to 1:00pm. There's a youth group which was the reason we conceived the seminar idea, they're studying Dancing with Siva, Easan Katir is working with them since he still has strong connections in London having lived there a few year. We created a half day seminar and there's lots of other people also joining even some adults joining in the group. Arumugaswami and I will be sharing that. The seminar is called "Understanding Saivism."

Then we're going to BAPS satsang. When they have satsang it's like a few thousand people. This Houston talk was very interesting, there were thousands of people in the audience there, plus television. Certainly the biggest group I've ever spoken to, a good experience. But this one won't be that big but it could be a few thousand people. That's Sunday night, this short talk is part of that satsang.

Then Monday morning we're meeting with them again to discuss their youth programs, including their school. They have formal school that teaches all the secular subjects as well as their youth programs which are strictly religious. We're meeting with the leaders there, they seem to have a good knack for it as you can see from the story of the two boys spending their entire summer, except the four hours at night that they slept, working at the Mandir. That shows lots of inspiration among youth to be able to track that and that's just one family. They have lots of youth there and seem to have a real knack in their youth programs to inspire, lots of service.

And we're visiting a few other temples for short stops and seeing some of our members and a few devotees. Some of the members are coming from Germany and some other key figures in the UK Hindu community will be meeting for interviews.

That's our program.

Aum Namah Sivaya.