The State of the Church

The State of the Church 2009-2010: Seminars, Positive Discipline, Parenting with Love, Church Memberships and Vratas, You Tube and Web sites, Digital Innovations, Publications, Travel, Iraivan Temple Construction Update, Himalayan Acres.

Unedited Transcript:

Our talk today is called: The State of the Church and outlines some of the major activities we're planning to do for the coming year. Previously we gave this talk on January 5th but this is third year now we've moved it to mid-April, our Tamil New Year. So we're doing the year from mid-April to mid-April and listing major activities that will be coming up during these twelve months.

And one of the topics we included was "Positive Discipline." As you know we printed a new version of that recently in Hinduism Today. It was called "Parenting with Love" because positive discipline isn't self-evident what it means. If you say "Parenting with Love" the title is self-explanatory. So we created a French version and printed it in Mauritius for distribution there to help popularize it and of course, it was one of our, the main topic we focused at at the different satsangs. We had satsangs in different parts of the island, four of them in all, so we presented it at the four satsangs as well as a little bit to the Master Course students. There was a very large group of Master Course students there so we had a separate satsang just for them.

Created a simple way of bringing older youth into Arul Sishiya status. And I think it was six or seven of them chose to move forward in that way when we were there so we had ceremonies for that at the satsang and some Brahmacharya Vrata was given. We've updated the material so that it's actually understandable by a twelve year old. Previously you had to be about 22 to understand it. And as usual when we write we write for adults. So we stepped the material down and also gave the parents some instructions on what to cover in terms of preparing children for Brahmacharya Vrata so that it was meaningful to them. So we did that as well.

We found that a number of members are keen on moving forward into Samaya Diksha or Vishesha Diksha so we planned to get them through the study for that over the next year then we can have the ceremonies when we go back next year for that. So that was nice to see.

We also had an event in the middle of the week in Singapore, Singapore Hindu Center there was anxious that we do something even though it was the middle of the week. So we had a gathering at a small temple auditorium there which was fairly well attended for midweek and focused on the talk: "Hindu Tools for Success." It's a very nice practical talk. The idea is lots of concern about the economy and jobs and success and the future. So, seemed to be a natural topic for a broad group that wasn't that close to us. So we also plan to reuse the material again in Malaysia later in the year when we go there in September. So our Ganapati Kulam has been busy this last year with our digital side of our work, producing on a regular basis videos for us and they keep getting more and more popular. We're doing each issue of Hinduism Today so that each quarter we come out with Hinduism Today and after it's been out there about 6 months it has 3-4,000 views which is pretty good. So we're reaching some people we don't reach with the other versions.

We put a five-part "Introduction to Hinduism" fairly formidable on and it's starting to build up a good viewing audience.

Some of the most popular are still Kadavul Temple Sivalingam Abhishekam for some reason. Guess there aren't that many Sivalingam Abhishekams on You Tube and the Parampara one. So they each have about 7,000 views. And our all time favorite is one we did in a professional way. The Thai Pusam Malaysia Part One has over 17,000 views.

Our major effort in the digital world hasn't yet gone live but it will soon, it's the Hinduism Today web site. And one of the reasons it's a bit slow is we have to reformat all of the many past issues into the new structure. So that's taking a while. Soon as that's done we should be live in a few weeks to a few months and that's going to be a more attractive format and increase our readership as well.

Our publications aren't the only digital activity; we've managed to replace the Master Course study, self-evaluation worksheets are all now digital. So we're sending out to foreign countries -- most of the students are in foreign countries -- 13 worksheets and then they're sending them back and sorting them and putting them on my desk, filling up my desk with papers. It's all digital so it never leaves the realm of the computer. I'm just, I'm told the worksheets are in a file, so I go there, there's 13 PDF worksheets, I read through them, copy questions or statements into an e-mail and answer them and it's all very very efficient. Similarly, our Guru Purnima re-dedications are all digital now so I can do the same thing. Just copy any questions or points that are right in the text into an e-mail and answer it. So it's a lot easier. Keeps the paperwork down.

As I'm sure all of you know here we created a Facebook institutional page for Kauai's Hindu Monastery recently which is getting popular. And it's a way of reaching our to individuals that otherwise might not find our material on the web.

In a similar spirit we're working on a private social networking web site just for Church members. Church members will be able to log into their own web site, post information for one another, show activities, different things all being done through pass code. So that'll be fun. There's a lot of activities going on and they don't end up on the TAKA web site. But, for example, a lot of youth classes in Mauritius starting up and they don't, none of them end up on the web. It'll be fun to see what's going on there. I'm sure with this web site that kind of material will be posted more regularly.

In our printed publication area our main thrust continues to be the same, the stories of the gurus, getting close to finishing. Just in the last few more years of Gurudeva's life to write and then be able to pull the book together and send it off to the printer in the near future. So we're particularly interested in the timing of getting it in the hands of Yogaswami devotees; there's a need there which isn't obvious unless you've worked with them. Yogaswami devotees all over the world where Sri Lankans have moved. Recently we went to Australia and met quite a few of them there and if you go to their gatherings, they have some Yogaswami Guru Puja gatherings, you'll notice that they're over 60 years old -- everybody there. So they haven't been able to interest their children in the tradition. They haven't been able to explain it in a clear way. They know, they can tell stories about what happened when they met Yogaswami, what he said to him, what Yogaswami said to them but they haven't conveyed the, enough about Yogaswami to interest those who didn't meet him. So that's one of the tasks of this book is to get it into their hands so they can get it into the hands of their children and their grandchildren and use it as a tool to interest them in Yogaswami and better explain the parampara.

Another popular item that's doing good service is our history lessons, Children History Lessons and we're starting on, we have Parts One and Two out there now being used in some schools as well as certain Hindu Institutions are using them in their Hindu classes as well. India's the only country where the accomplishments are underplayed. Usually accomplishments of a country are exaggerated. You go to school and you learn an exaggerated version of what you country accomplished. But in India it's still understated. All the great accomplishments, many of them aren't even mentioned still in the schools. This has to do with the British education system. So we're doing our small part to set the record straight in terms of the accomplishments in Indian history which also serves to show accomplishments in Hinduism.

Lots of interesting travels coming up. In June we're heading off to Seattle and Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, Canada. Timing is mainly coinciding with the Maha Ganapati Temple in Edmonton's annual festival. We're trying to go there every three years or so. It's about three years since we were there last time. That's on a Saturday. We're planned a trip to Maryland, there's a Murugan Temple there, festival, Sri Lanka Festival on second saturday in August and also a few days in Europe in August. And Texas, we're going to Houston and Midland in August. End of October is our donor appreciation reception in Northern California and we have a few other trips we're still pinning down.

So on the Aadheenam property, of course, our main construction activity continues to be Iraivan Temple. Takes a lot of manpower to keep it all going and it seems to be the year of the roof. Roof has got a lot of attention so far. More to come. You've probably seen on TAKA, but what we call the sub room, which is made out of concrete, is finished now and on top of that is the actually roof which is asphalt with copper coating I'm told. And that will be installed soon. Also, have the gilders from New York coming, they're scheduled to come the month of June and will leaf the towers. Well once the towers are gold-leafed and the roof is in place, we will be able to take down the wooden scaffolding in the front which is blocking the view right now. If that wasn't there the temple would look so much nicer. So that will come down later this year. And the silpis themselves are focused on two tasks which are moving ahead slowly, steadily. One is the red granite flooring and the other is the white granite hand rail. They've almost finished one more section of the standard handrail. The handrail is in the Chinna Gopuram, those three sections is different than the rest, so there's only one completed section of the regular handrail which is in the north east corner. And then we have one coming this way almost done, we'll have two sections of regular handrail done soon. Has so many pieces it's amazing. Really intricate number of pieces that get assembled in each gopuram. In Bangalore there's a pretty simple focus. They're focused on the Nandi Mandapam carving and trying to push that forward at a faster rate.

Our secondary construction project of course is unavoidable, new minimela, library and visitor reception center. Those are the words that are in our use permit. Can't have a store. We have a library and visitor reception center. So that's scheduled to finish in a few months. It's going to, of course, provide opportunities for a lot more people to come in and browse the books and other items and also, will serve as a place that those on pilgrimage can go during other times of the day and they'll have a place there they can watch videos. So, convenient indoor place for our pilgrims.

And we're continuing across the river. The parcel shrunk a little bit. An alternative energy company ended up getting some of it to grow renewable wood for electricity. And the rest we're still developing. Our noni fruits are the first product to be fully functioning and we will be starting to sell some of that to a local noni processor in a few months from now. Otherwise, we're going to plant additional acreage of mahogany trees this year. Later in the year continue that project.

So that gives everyone a sense of some the major activities. It's very similar to previous years.

Thank you very much.

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