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What Happened Today at the Monastery?

Bodhinatha arrived home from Arkansas this afternoon with Senthilnathaswami.

Mission to Arkansas

Here we present some news of his activities in Arkansas

Bodhinatha was invited by the president of the Hindu Students Council at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Mr. Jiger Patel. The MILAAP Banquet: A Dialogue for Interreligious Friendship, was co-hosted by the Hindu Students Council and the Muslimas of Uark. Bodhinatha and a respected Muslim speaker spoke to an audience of about 150 about the relationship of Hindus and Muslims to people of other faiths, and answered questions from the group.

We arrived at the event early. Mr. and Mrs. Bhandari greeted Bodhinatha and asked him some questions about Kauai Aadheenam.

Here is Mr. Azam Nizamuddin, a Muslim American of Indian descent. He is an attorney in Chicago, and also a Muslim theologian, a professor of world religions and Islam. A very sharp, intelligent man, he and Bodhinatha enjoyed speaking with each other about the status of Muslims and Hindus in America before the event began.

Mr. Dan Coody, the honorable mayor of Fayetteville, was there to warmly welcome Bodhinatha and Mr. Nizamuddin. He was most interested in the dialog.

Jiger Patel, a graduate student at the university’s business school, introduced the event and its purpose: to clear misconceptions about Muslims and Hindus, and promote religious tolerance and peace amongst people of varying faiths.

Here is Amen Ismail, president of Muslimas of Uark and secretary of Hindu Students Council at Uark. She made the very strong point that bringing people closer together is important and that we shouldn’t base our relationships on what other people tell us. Muslims and Hindus don’t form relationships with each other because they’ve been told not to. This naturally breeds misunderstandings and contempt, and it need not at all be the case. When Hindus and Muslims, especially those from the same land, such as India, come together, they find that they have a lot in common culturally and socially, and that their differences in faith don’t have to be cause for dissociation. Since coming to the university, Amen has come in close contact with people of other religions. Today, Amen’s two best friends are Hindus.

Bodhinatha spoke to the group on a wide variety of topics. He quoted from Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, who spoke of the role that religion plays in the world, the universal values they hold dear, the darkness of religious extremism and the unfortunate role that religion sometimes plays in nationalism. Bodhinatha encouraged moderate voices to come forward more aggressively to counterbalance the extreme voices that advocate intolerance and violence. He spoke of the importance of intra-religious harmony as a prerequisite for inter-religious harmony, the success of interfaith dialogues around the world, the importance of dispelling misconceptions about our religions so that others may understand them correctly, the failures of the we-they perspective and the significance of developing a prejudice-free consciousness in young people. Mr. Nizamuddin also gave a wide-ranging talk. He encouraged Muslims to study a little about other faiths so that they can understand them in a positive light, One of his main points was that the conflicts between groups in India–and elsewhere around the world, for that matter–which are put forward as religious conflicts, are really political conflicts that have nothing to do with religious differences at all. Azam encapsulated Islam’s structure and basic beliefs and brought forward the words of Islamic scriptures and saints which have propounded character building, coming closer to God and resolving conflicts as essential tenets of the practice of his faith. He spoke cogently about how Islam has been distorted by political militants into appearing to be a religion that sanctions hate and retaliation.

After the main talks, Bodhinatha and Mr. Nizamuddin took the stage together to answer questions from the audience. Here, a young Christian cited Biblical verses that warrant violence and asks the two speakers to shed light on what scriptural references in their respective religions, if any, sanction violence.

All the questions were pointed, and the answers clear.

The agreement between our two speakers was abundantly evident. Certainly nobody in the audience had ever witnessed such a dialog. It was, for many, both educational and motivational. Hopefully this meeting will set an example for others to follow so that communities across the United States and the globe can come to understand the moderate perspectives within the faiths of Hinduism, Islam and others, and the respect and harmony that is possible between the faithful.

Right to left: Jiger Patel, Azam Nizamuddin, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami, Amen Ismail, Tanvi Chowdhary and additional members of the Hindu Students Council who helped organize the event.

Retreat Day Silpi Outing

ON the retreat we took our silpis on their monthly outing.

This time off to the North Shore with is many fantastic shoreline features….

The ocean is calm today…

Retreat Pilgrims and Visitors

Brahmacharini Shama Kumaran hosted some vistors over the retreat and brings us these photos and captions.

Ariaratnama Gopikrishna and his wife Uma are both originally from Sri Lanka. Ariaratnama lived close to Nallur Temple. His father, grandfather, and uncle all knew St. Yogaswami. Uma lived with her family in Jaffna. They both now live in New York where Ariaratman has a cardiology practice.

Scott Miller and Sharon Rose are members of Paramahamsa Yoganathaswami’s Self Realization Fellowship in California. They heard about our temple from relatives who follow Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Switzerland. Scott observed that he felt the sacredness of the temple here as soon as he stepped onto the property. “Its very powerful here” he said.

Our visitors from New York deliberately took a side trip to make a pilgrimage to the Kauai Aadheenam on their return journey home from a family wedding in Melbourne, Australia.

Here are Ariaratnama and Uma outside the Kadavul Siva Temple with Saravananathaswami following the morning puja.

Easan and Sundari Katir Teaching Sacremento

Sacramento, California. The Hindu Svayamsevak Sangh invited Kulapati Easan Katir and Kulamata Sundari Katir to discuss resources available for Hindu families: ( 1 ) Lord Ganesha in his temples, the great psychiatrist and healer for all Hindus; ( 2 ) the many online resources available through internet, email, podcast, YouTube, Skype, Twitter, AOL IM, and Yahoo IM; and ( 3 ) the greatest resource, even if there is no nearby temple or broadband access, that is the spiritual power within one’s spine where the soul discovers Divinity within. A lively Q & A session followed, centering around integrating Hindu Dharma with American life.

Innersearch Asian Odyssey 2008 Retrospective

Palaniswami gets his blessing at one of the 27 wells of Ramesvaram. The indepth series will continue tomorrow.

Fabulous Jade Ganeshas

Years ago Gurudeva commissioned the monks to set a retail outlet to sell his books and to help American Hindus have access to all the finest religious and cultural artifacts from to enhance their home, home shrine and spiritual life.

We normally don’t do marketing on TAKA but when something really incredible arrives from India we like to give our TAKA viewers “first buy option.” These these two semi-precious stone Ganeshas are for sale. Anyone interested should email [email protected] right away to get prices and “lock down” their order before these go before the public.

Here we have a Rose Quartz Ganesha from Anil Gupta in Haridwar India. This Ganesha is 10 inches tall and 6 inches wide and weighs about 14 pounds. Absolutely stunning!

Another view of the same….

Lapis Lazuli Ganesha from Anil in India. This one is about 12 inches tall and weighs 18 lbs.

A view from the left

A view from the right

A view from the back showing how detailed and amazing these Ganeshas are.

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