Monks Travels in India
Bodhinatha, Palaniswami and Sadhaka Dandapani have flown off from South India to New Delhi. Today we bring a series of brief reports from their stay in Tamil Nadu this past week:
Mon Feb 4th, evening was a talk by me for the Hindu Matha Mahamandalam at a place in Kerala about four hours drive from our hotel in Kovalam. The crowd was somewhere between 1-2000. Everyone was super attentive to my talk, seriously striving to understand that points being made.
Tue, Feb 5th, we visited an ancient Siva temple not far from the hotel. It was a swayambhu lingam that the priest said has always been there. Kerala priests do worship in what is called a “tantric style.” This means all the mantras are done mentally only and outwardly only the mudras are done. They also will not touch you when passing out prasadam but rather from a safe distance drop it into your hands. Short interview by the press after breakfast then a drive to Rajapalayam.
Reception in Rajapalayam including elephant garlanding. Are staying at one of the guest housing of Ramco, a large industrial group. The chairman Ram Subramanya Rajah is a friend of Pethu Raja. We visited some of Ramco charitable activities such as their meditation center and hostle for tribal children. Afterwards we went to the hall for the evening program which included a talk by Bodhinatha and Palaniswami, crowd probably more than 1,000. We also spent time with the chairman and had a chance to get acquainted. He now plans to visit Kauai in May for a weekend. Ramco has a foundation and through it supports many religious and educational projects.
Wed, Feb 6th, we visited Pethuraja family at his inlaws home for a padapuja. Then after waiting for rahu kala to end, we departed for the new home he is building which is still under construction. Off to a Veda Pathasala sponsored by Ramco, a Hindu library, and Chinamay school also sponsored by them. Included were visits to a few homes. Then we drove to Madurai for a free evening, staying at Sangam hotel.
Thu, Feb 7th, we visited Pillaiyarpatti for the day. Wonderful elaborate homa and abhishekam (Abhishekam done by Pitchai Gurukal himself) by about forty students and teachers. Quite powerful when you have so many well-trained priests chanting together. I gave a talk which was translated on the importance of temples clearly stating the nature of their tradition (see my pub desk on same) Pitchai Gurukual requested on the way back to Madurai we stop for half an hour at a nearby (one hour drive!) temple to bless the event. He toured us through the temple and the yagnasala personally.
Sat, Feb 9th, in the morning we drove to Swami Omkarananda’s ashram about an hour and a half from our hotel. He was introduced to us in 2004 by Pichai Gurukual and showed a keen interest in Hinduism Today. A young, quite knowledgeable and humble swami with a Dakshinamurti temple. He teaches Vedanta but draws heavily on Tirukural, uses Devarams, etc.
Evening flight Madurai to Delhi via Bangalore.
Palaniswami writes from the airport in Madurai while awaiting departure: “We are sitting patiently in the Madurai airport, waiting for a plane that is 3 hours late! The three of us had the most blessed time in the Deep South of India this past week. So many important connections with the Saiva priesthood, the mutts and a marvelous darshan at Meenakshi Temple.”
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What Happened Today at the Monastery?
Pillaiyar kulam’s Sadhaka Jothinatha has been a mainstay for Hinduism Today having served as the advertising manager for nearly 2 decades. His hard work keeps the magazine afloat financially and he does a lot of PR work through his network of communications with Hindu groups, businesses and organizations that appear in the magazine.
Today he shows a full-page ad he has just composed for the coming April-May-June 2008 issue of Hinduism Today.
He says, “This advertisement announces an event we are all delighted about–a breakthrough publication for Himalayan Academy, Twelve Shum Meditations.”
“Why breakthrough? Because it contains high teachings from Gurudeva, which for forty years were strictly reserved for his closest disciples. Now they have just been made available to all who meditate or wish to learn. “For his closest disciples?” some say, “then it must be too advanced for me!” No, no! Interest in meditation is the only requirement. No prior knowledge is necessary. All definitions, explanations and instructions are included. See more at http://www.minimela.com”
Sadhaka Jothinatha also produced this small promotional for Hinduism Today Production Fund (of Hindu Heritage Endowment).
He says, “This fund is yet humble, but we are expecting it will be a major engine driving the magazine’s development in the years and decades to come. ”
“Grants from it will subsidize production costs for the magazine, such as the hiring of more writers, photographers, artists, consultants for Bodhinatha’s grand vision of future Hinduism Today digital wonders, translators and much more. Please contact us if you would like to learn more: http://www.hheonline.org or email [email protected] or call 808-634-5407.”