Guru’s Wisdom


The painted hills of Mitchell, Oregon§



AS A SMALL GROUP OF RENUNCIATE HINDU MONKS AT KAUAI’S Hindu Monastery in Hawaii, we have produced the international magazine HINDUISM TODAY since 1979, tracking, monitoring and encouraging the current renaissance of the grandfather faith of the human race. Each quarterly issue of the magazine focuses on Hinduism as it is in today’s world by featuring profiles of important teachers, major institutions, historic trends, temples and pilgrimage sites and Hindu dance, music and crafts. The magazine is enriched by educational articles, timely opinion pieces and an ever-popular cartoon.§

In 2007 we were inspired to assemble forty-six of the magazine’s 16-page educational insight sections and publish them as a book called What Is Hinduism? Rare is the book that presents Hinduism in a comprehensive, contemporary, complimentary way—as a family of faiths and philosophies—that a modern, English-speaking audience can relate to, understand and appreciate. Rare, too, is the book that leaves Hindus feeling proud of the name. What Is Hinduism? is such a gem. Exploring it, readers stop now and then and sigh, “Ahh, now I get it. Now I understand this basic Hindu concept.” Of course, having this material in a single publication makes it far more accessible than having to Google forty-six issues of the magazine! §

Our very first anthology of talks and writings was called Satguru Speaks on Hindu Renaissance. It was produced by Jiwa Distributors of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and released on Mahasivaratri, February 19, 1993. It contains seventeen of Gurudeva’s inspired talks, all pertaining to the concept of Hindu renaissance, the resurgence of our religion that he saw taking place. The chapters include: Courage, Courage, Courage; Final Conclusions for all Mankind; The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World; Hinduism: Solidarity in Diversity; Stand Strong for Hinduism; and Love of the Gods. §

Guru’s Wisdom, the third anthology drawn from our repository of teachings, captures fifty-two of my Publisher’s Desk editorials. The topics vary widely—from the practical to the esoteric—but all have one element in common. They are based on my observations of what is happening at the present time in the lives of individuals, families, temple groups and Hindu society as a whole. These essays are being translated into eight languages: Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Italian, Russian and Spanish. Let me share how these topics evolved. §

One source is the private darshan meetings I have most weeks of the year with families visiting our Hawaii monastery. In 2003 an amazingly high number of families asked me the exact same question: “We are so busy with our professional and family life that we have little or no time to devote to religion. What can we do?” It was as if a being in the inner world wanted to make sure this topic was written about. The answers I gave provided the basis for the Publisher’s Desk entitled “Work Is Worship,” published in July 2004. It presented the Hindu perspective that career and family should not be viewed as separate from religious life; they are integral to fulfilling one’s dharma, and work can indeed be transformed into worship.§

Another question I hear year after year has to do with meditation: “Swami, when I sit down to meditate, my mind goes all over the place and I am unable to control it. What should I do?” The answers I gave over the years formed the Publisher’s Desk titled “Letting Go of Past and Future.” The article advises meditators to divide their thoughts into five categories and apply a different prescribed technique to quiet each category.§

Over the years, my interactions with young Hindus attending university or recently graduated have provided opportunities to observe historic trends in modern Hindu society. Many college students of all faiths, not just Hinduism, end up questioning their religious beliefs to the extent of adopting an atheist point of view accompanied by a new-found commitment to secular humanism. In talking to parents about this trend, almost none had ever heard of secular humanism. To address this issue, I wrote the Publisher’s Desk “Hinduism: the Original Humanism” which reveals that Hinduism has a strong humanist tradition within it, suggesting there is no need to give up Hinduism to be a humanist.§

A more recent trend coming out of universities is young adults’ declaring themselves “Spiritual But Not Religious”—SBNR for short. To these individuals, not religious refers to not identifying with any of the world’s major religions; and spiritual refers to striving for personal experience of their divine or soul nature. This is common among students of all religious affiliations. Parents I spoke with were unaware of the SBNR trend. My column in the magazine provided “Five Suggestions for SBNRs,” offering specific guidance to help these individuals, who have opted out of organized religion, to still make spiritual progress.§

The trend among young Hindu adults that surprised me the most was the lack of any daily practice. Traditionally, Hindu teens undergo a ceremony to mark the commencement of daily sadhana, such as sandhya vandana (morning and evening worship), Gayatri mantra, puja or a mantra japa to a Deity, such as Vishnu or Siva. I learned that most university students have no such practice and do not attend a Hindu temple. In other words, they are not at all engaged in worship, meditation or scriptural study for those four to eight years of school. This led to the Publisher’s Desk “A Ten-Minute Spiritual Workout.” It outlines a short, daily routine consisting of four types of practice and encourages parents to have their children take it up around the age of fifteen, with the hope they will create and maintain good habits during their university schooling. After that, the ideal is to lengthen the daily workout. The monks even developed an app to guide this practice.§

Today reading about Hinduism is more often done in digital, rather than printed, form. The Publisher’s Desk articles are available on the HINDUISM TODAY website in formats that can be read on a computer or mobile device. I have recorded many of them as videos, as well as produced graphically rich Powerpoint presentations that have been recorded as videos. These are available on the HINDUISM TODAY YouTube channel. I have found that the Powerpoint format, because of the engaging graphics, is most effective in holding the attention of children. When traveling, I present the Powerpoint slideshows at temples and other gatherings.§

We thank our Singapore devotees for inspiring us to assemble this book of essays in order to share them with the world. (For access to more writings, see:§


Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami§

Publisher of HINDUISM TODAY§

163rd Jagadacharya of the§

Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara§

Guru Mahasannidhanam, Kauai Aadheenam, Hawaii, USA§