While Bodhinatha and the two swamis are in Chicago, Sadasivanathaswami and Senthilnathaswami are in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their work began with a day at the Dharma & Yoga Fest, a somewhat historic event sponsored by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and the two major local temples in Livermore and Sunnyvale.
Our swamis gave several Keynote presentations during the day, first in Pleasanton at the Alameda County Fair Grounds and then hours later in Santa Clara.
Sadasivanathaswami spoke in both places on "Yoga: Promise & Peril," taking those present through an information-rich tour of yoga's evolution in America and a section on some issues, including the premature awakening of the kundalini. Turns out highly uninformed yoga teachers across America are working to arouse the kundalini, without knowing the consequences. Senthilnathaswami spoke on bhakti yoga as a true and profound sadhana, something quite different from the kindergarten view of worship that is sometimes described.
The Fest in Santa Clara was much bigger, taking place at Mission College (a nice community college with a bunch of wonderful, new facilities). The Indian population in the South Bay has skyrocketed in the past 10-15 years because of IT worker immigration to jobs at Silicon Valley companies.
Then back to the VIP room which had been transformed for a press junket, at which we sat at the table with a bunch of TV cameras pointed at us. Mostly the organizers spoke. The local mayor and his wife were there. .
Next, all of the dignitaries gathered on the main stage in front of 4,000-5,000 people, a big crowd. The swamis spoke briefly with Tulsi Gabbard who gave a rousing speech which began with "Jai Sri Krishna!" She has a great presence and is a gifted public speaker. She was very happy to see the swamis from her native Hawaii there, and her right-hand man pulled Sadasivanathaswami aside at one point and bubbled over with praise for the monastery's work for Hinduism and contributions to the island, which they are well aware of and highly appreciative of in DC.
The swami then joined the HAF 10th anniversary dinner at the beautiful, new, modern Indian Cultural Center in one of the ubiquitous business parks of Milpitas, 15 minutes away. Tulsi Gabbard had gotten a head start and was the star of the show there too. There were some great talks by California and Federal senators and congressmen, who really understand and support what HAF is doing, which is nothing short of amazing. Tulsi gave a lengthy, heartfelt, highly insightful talk. It was both informative and touching. Thus ended the first day on the road.
I, too, bubble over with positive feelings and comments on the work you all do. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing it and for posting it all so it can be shared in such a timely manner. Aum Namasivaya!