"Our philanthropic mission is to transcribe Saivite Hindu religious books and information into English Braille volumes and to distribute them world-wide as free matter for the blind."
The SHIVA Braille Foundation is a publicly supported, charitable organization.
Damara first became interested in helping the blind in 1993-1994 while visiting Sri Sri Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji's school for the blind in Karnataka, South India. After her second pilgrimage to India in 1995-1996, she worked as a volunteer in this school for 2 weeks. Now acutely aware of the needs of these dear children, she returned to the United States determined to learn Braille and do whatever necessary to provide them with much-needed materials, texts and encouragement.
Entirely self-taught, using the special braille program, EDIT-PC, her personal home computer, and a Romeo RB-25 portable embosser, she has, since 1996, created and operated The SHIVA Braille Foundation.
Damara Shanmugan is the only braille transcriber in the world who exclusively transcribes Saivite Hindu practice and philosophy into braille. Using the award winning books and magazines of her guru, Satguru Shivaya Subramuniyaswami, she carefully transcribes the essence of the mystical Saivite Hindu tradition.
The SHIVA Braille Foundation is strictly a volunteer organization.
e-mail [email protected]
Photo by Sadhunathan Nadesan: Damara Shanmugan and her oldest grand daughter, Vali Devi, with the very first braille transcription of Weaver's Wisdom, the Tirukural, by Saint Tiruvalluvar. Photo was taken April 9, 2001 and first published in the April-May-June 2004 issue of HINDUISM TODAY Magazine.
Saivite Hindu Scriptural Fund for the Visually Impaired
This fund, #43 with Hindu Heritage Endowment, has been created to provide funding to produce Braille scriptural materials by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami for visually assisted Hindus around the world.
These lessons are drawn from Satguru Shivaya Subramuniyaswami's "Saivite Hindu Religion, Book 1, Level 1 of the Master Course" and its teacher's guide. The print version of this book is currently being used all over the world as a teaching guide for children's classes on Hinduism. The Children's course teaches the love and worship of God Shiva in the context of traditional Hindu philosophy, culture, values and family life.
The Braille transcription contains 62 lessons that honor our Hindu heritage in India and often describe how Hinduism is flourishing in America and other countries around the world. In 1 braille volume, one may be ordered for every blind child in the classroom or family. Adults also love to read these children's lessons. Included in the back of each braille volume is a set of 48 questions for children and 48 deeper questions for adults.
One-On-One Companion Book - This book is a word-for-word, line-by-line print copy of the braille transcription above. For sighted parents, tutors, teachers and mentors of the blind. This can be especially helpful for those who cannot sight-read braille but wish to help a blind person who is reading the braille.
In 1 print volume.
Hinduism's Endearing Elephant-Faced God
An illustrated Resource on Dharma's's Benevolent Deity, Removed of Obstacles, Patron of Art and Science, Honored as First Among the Celestials.
Learn about Ganesha's powers, pastimes, mantras, miracles, nature, science, forms, sacred symbols and much more! There is no book about Ganesha that's more complete. The Lord of Dharma comes to life through the pages of this inspired masterpiece. Loving Ganesha makes approaching Ganesha easy and inspiring.
This braille transcription is contained in 15 braille volumes and includes a complete Ganesha puja, or home ceremony. Contains some Sanskrit words that have been transliterated into English, then transcribed into English braille. Easy reading for the adult reader who has heard Sanskrit words pronounced, a few parts difficult for readers who have not. An audio cassette of the Ganesha puja in Sanskrit is also available upon request with the braille transcription.
Hinduism's Contemporary Catechism
An illustrated sourcebook, timeline and lexicon exploring how to know the Divine, honor all creation and see God everywhere, in everyone.
This sourcebook answers all questions to quench the soul's thirst for God and Self-knowledge. Gurudeva spent 50 years in deep study, meditation and samadhi to create this masterpiece. Clearly written and lavishly woven with 600 verses from the Vedas and other holy texts. Contains a timeline of India and an extensive lexicon. A spiritual gem of great value. The Book One of the 2001 Master Course.
This book is transcribed into 20 volumes of Grade 2 English braille, American Edition. Each volume contains its own unique lexicon of Sanskrit words and is a complete book unto itself. Dancing with Shiva contains many Sanskrit words that have been transliterated into English and then transcribed into braille. These words may be difficult for a blind reader unless they grew up hearing them pronounced.
Hinduism's Contemporary Metaphysics
365 enlightenment lessons from a living master, revealing the depths of raja yoga, the clear white light and the ultimate destiny of every seeker.
Undoubtedly the richest book on meditation, realization and the inside of you ever written. A must-have for all wishing to transform their life. A treasury of Gurudeva's 50 years of yogic realizations and personal teaching, in 365 down-to-earth, easy-to-follow lessons. No one has ever produced a work like this.
This transcription has 1,800 pages contained in 20 volumes. Most of the Sanskrit words are defined within the same sentence or paragraph. Very encouraging, a must for every blind adult. Available upon request with each 20-volume set, a free audio cassette of Gurudeva's own voice, speaking out 13 key lessons from the book. Book Three of the 2001 Master Course.
All 52 chapters in Merging with Shiva have been previously published as separate little books. With special permission of the Publisher, each chapter is separately available in braille. Please contact The SHIVA Braille Foundation.
Hinduism's Nandinatha Sutras
Spiritual rules for the lion-hearted--365 verses on how Hindus approach God, family life, money, food, culture and more.
Anyone can pursue a spiritual path for a weekend, even a year or two. But for a lifetime of enlightened exploration, a strict lifestyle must be developed which sustains effort and minimizes distractions. Gurudeva offers a detailed and authentic way for his followers, based on the tantras or traditional methods which Hindus have observed for thousands of years. If you were ever uncertain about how rigorous to be with yourself, how to approach holy people or relate to members of the opposite sex, what to do about television, alcohol or your career, Living with Shiva is for you. Its terse guidelines and longer explanations provide time-tested practices and disciplines for serious seekers. Book Two of the 2001 Master Course.
Braille transcriptions will become available in 2002 as the new revised print edition is scheduled to be released late in 2001.
Brahmachariya, the Path to Perfection
This seven-week course on celibacy for youth speaks frankly on the metaphysics of sex and chastity to help young people understand, harness and transmute their energies, instincts and desires. It includes secrets from ancient shastras and numerous tantras, including pranayama and hatha yoga.
Although this book was designed for those in the student stage, age 12-24, it is most useful for anyone of any age who desires a deep understanding of the practice of celibacy. The study of this book will prove to be a big step forward on the spiritual path. Brahmachariya is in the broadest sense the harnessing of the instinctive mind, including the sexual nature. Arranged in 7 chapters, this book is part of a daily 45-minute period of worship, study and meditation. To be studied over and over again for several months. Brahmachariya is transmutation, the goal is not to repress the sexual energy, but to transmute it.
Contained in 3 volumes of braille. Includes detailed descriptions, in Braille, of the 24 hatha yoga poses specifically prescribed by Gurudeva, from an experienced yoga teacher of the blind.
365 Daily Lessons for Spiritual Transformation
Daily Excerpts from Dancing with Shiva, Living with Shiva
and Merging with Shiva
A fifty-two volume set of approximately 65 pages per volume.
Your Generous Contributions at Work!
The SHIVA Braille Foundation also supports other philanthropic programs and projects that benefit the blind. Programs such as:
Programs for the blind with correctable eye conditions.
Eye surgery and money for the necessary follow-up medications have been provided for various individuals since 1999. As of September, 2001 this program has benefitted 1 adult and 2 small children. Cost of is approximately US $600.00 per person.
Redistribution of used braille books to institutions in need.
This program has placed thousands of braille volumes considered too old for use in North America with institutions in Mexico, India and Africa that need these braille books as learning tools. Expenses are for packing and shipping materials.
Employing blind proofreaders in India.
This program insures that transcriptions are of the highest quality. Hundreds of volumes have been proofread. US $1.00 is paid for each volume reviewed.
Braille/Blind Catalyst for Saiva Siddhanta Church.
Damara will answer questions from correspondence by e-mail, print or braille. This service is for sincere students and/or official registered students of the Himalayan Academy Master Course Program. Email [email protected]
A new high-speed braille embosser.
With the increased requests for Saivite Hindu braille transcriptions, there is a great need for another embosser. The current embosser is over-worked and needs to be used as a back-up instead of the primary embosser. The SHIVA Braille Foundation is looking for an angel to sponsor the purchase of a new state-of-the-art embosser. Cost US $10,000.00
Permanent women's residence for un-married, orphaned blind women.
This project is much needed in rural Karnataka. If an orphan girl doesn't get married immediately after completing 10th standard, where is she to go, what is she to do? Many are reduced to begging at the railroad stations. Future plans are for a suitable location and for the creation of blind-industry projects to help sustain costs and raise self-esteem of the participants by encouraging self-sufficiency.
Programs that prevent blindness.
Although the SHIVA Braille Foundation is firmly dedicated to helping those already blind and correcting eye problems with surgery, there is a real need to prevent blindness from happening in the first place. Sometimes it is as simple as a single application of salve to the eyes of a newborn.
Free Medical Screening Clinics for the Blind.
The SHIVA Braille Foundation hopes to make arrangements with eye doctors and specialists in and near Bangalore, Karnataka, to set up free eye examinations. In this way candidates for eye surgery can be screened and assessed. If you are an eye doctor, or know of one, that would be interested, please contact us at [email protected]