Another Western Hindu Blog: Hilltop Anthology

The Hilltop Anthology blog (screenshot)

The Hilltop Anthology blog

The Hilltop Antholoy is  personal blog is the story of the spiritual journey of a woman in Kentucky. The blog conveys thoughts and ideas in a poetic style.

I have added this blog to my page listing blogs by Western followers of Sanātana Dharma.  I have also moved The Accidental Hindu blog from the “not yet classified” section to the Neo-Hinduism section. After clarification from T.A.H. I have moved The Accidental Hindu to the Smarta section.

31 responses to “Another Western Hindu Blog: Hilltop Anthology

  1. Hi Tandava,
    Thanks for all you do promoting our blogs on your Westerners Following Hinduism page. I don’t think I’d be under neo-Hinduism, though, as the lineage I follow is old and traditional. It is that of Swami Sivinanda of Rishikesh, who was himself born into a Shaivite family, but started The Divine Life Society to further the teachings of Yoga and Vedanta. We do indeed acknowledge the authority of the Vedas.

    • (yikes. sorry for my horrible spelling today — noisy kids, hectic household & not enough sleep: ‘Sivananda’ & ‘Saivite’ is how those should be spelled.)

      • Thanks,
        I have to admit that I was wondering whether it should go in the Neo-Hinduism or the Smarta section, which includes Vedanta. I will put it in the Smarta section for now, but if you think it should be moved elsewhere, or if I should have a separate vedanta section, please let me know.

        • Thanks. And Smarta is fine w/ me for now, because I know Swami Sivananda’s lineage has been labeled as part of the Smarta Sampradaya. And I had used the term myself for a couple of years, until someone informed me that in India no one really ever says ‘I am Smarta’ nowadays, as it sounds overly bookish or archaic or something-? Not sure really what they meant. And, to be fair, I’ve ever only heard my teacher say she is “a Hindu” or “a Vedantist”, never using the term Smarta (but not rejecting it either?) —- so, yes, maybe a separate Vedanta section might be a good idea. There are probably other teaching lineages, schools and traditions that might ‘fall between the lines’ of one of the 3 or 4 main traditions but would easily agree that they are Vedantists.

        • Smarta and Vedanta are different. Vedanta can be followd by Smarta, Saiva, Vaishnava or any other tradition.
          Because when it comes to Vedanta , we move from Deities to Brahman, without any form.

          • You are quite right, you can get followers of advaita vedanta in all traditions. Usually the advaita vedana philosophy is central to the smarta tradition – both smarta and advaita vedanta were expounded by adi shankara. In other traditions it tends to be more of an esoteric background philosophy. Certainly you are more likely to get people identifying themselves as vedantists from within the smarta tradition.

            If you included all the vedanta philosophies (dvaita vedanta, vishishtadvaita, advaita Ishvaravada, dvaitādvaita, Shuddhādvaita, and there are probably more) then probably all Hindus are vedantists! Of course usually unqualified vedanta is taken to mean advaita vedanta.

            Thank you for reminding me of this, it is a good reason not to have a separate vedanta section!

      • No problem TAH, you can spell it in both ways.
        Swami Sivananda of Risikesh , the great soul was the one who enlightened BALAKRISHNA MENON, who was an atheist, into World famous SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA.

  2. Oh, and I love the Hilltop Anthology — poetic and beautiful.

  3. You are so very kind, I am at your feet.

  4. Tandava,
    Congrats for your new colourful blog, I have also visited it just now. I am not a scholar on religion, philosophy or theology; nor am I a Sanskrit scholar. Being born in a hindu family of some denomination, I never practiced Hinduism as such. In fact I had an aversion over it as a Macaulay’s typical child. This is relevant but besides the point.

    Over last three-four years, somehow got drawn into this interesting chapter by accident. Now I enjoy it. I am pleased to say that I visited his Ashram in 1996 or so. Swami Sivananda, being a medical doctor like me but I am no where near him, was a great ascetic and I he will be remembered through His Divine Life Society forever.

    He was visited by Sri Satya Sai Baba in mid-1950s when Swami Sivananda was wheelchair bound from his severe arthrits. Baba said to him that it is due to some faulty Yoga practices and also instantly cured him of his very cripling malady. Please peruse the link:

    It is not my intention to divert your mind but why I have interrupted your discussion on this enlightened debate in Hinduism is that it is far more better to limit our limitless theory to tons of practice. This is exactly the difference between Swami Sivananda and the now formless Sri Satya Sai Baba, the very embodiment of “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”.

    I have heard of all the other words in Vedantic Hinduism but have just learnt one more new terminology – Smarta. However what we need to ask ourselves is to evolve ideologies which will promote “Unity in Diversity” instead of promoting more confusion by shear complex theoretical arguments of Saivism or Vaishnavism.

    I hope that ultimately all is one that merge into “That Highest Trinity” called Brahmam – the Formless of all the Forms. That are enough wariors fighting in the name of monotheism versus polytheism. It will only give such divisive brute forces another armament to ignite their hatred. Hinduism has been corrupted enough over the period and needs cleaning its rust but our such efforts will only
    increase the dross.

    All of you here are very enlightened scholarly souls and I apologise for my unwanted pedanticity. This blog being a public domain, we must also remember that it exposes us to the vast world derisive forces which are on the look out to divide us further. If you want to limit it to a mere hair spliting source without such common concerns, then I should be excused to be an unwanted element. But it will defeat the very purpose of enlightenment.

    With my all due respects to you all here,

    Let the Highest Soul in Shiva or Vishnu or any other name of the choice, bless us.

    • Thank you,
      You are right, practice is more important than hair splitting. I wrote previously about this, I do at times tend to get bogged down in understanding nuances and forget the real intent of the teaching.

    • Smarta is really mix of shaiva, vaishnava and shakta tradition.
      It worships
      Shiva, Vishnu, Ganpati, Sakti and Subrahmanya(kartikeya or Murugan).
      There is no split among learnd hindus nw unlike old days because it all leads to Brahman as you said.
      Comparing Shivananda swami and Sai bhaba or any other 2 is meaningless. Bhaba too , suffered many bodily ailments before leaving physical world.
      As you say of your story most of Hindus were nt attractd to their religion as they were unaware of its true teachng. Wot they saw was Caste, saiva- vaishnav split, etc .
      Brother Its happy to note that you have now become closer to it , realisd its true essence.
      May Lord almighty and Sai bhagavan bless you. Though he s nt in phy . He is present within me and you brother.
      HARI OM.

  5. Just a curiosity, Tandava; what is Smarta? I shall be happy to learn more on it.

    Regards and love,

  6. And also the classification here into Shaiva, Vaishnava etc are only to help the knowledge seeker in respective area and not to divide Hinduism, (as i believe).

  7. My dear Enlightened Brothers and Sisters if any,

    I hope that I have not been vindictive in any way to hurt individual self esteem.
    One comment by Syamukamath is a little disturbing on comparing Sai Baba and Sri Sivananda Sarswatiji. Please do not feel that I am trying to denigrate Sri Sivananda Swamiji in any respect. That is the last thing I can ever think of. I stand nowhere near to him. I already made my reference earlier that you might have overlooked. I had visited His Ashram in Rishikesh only because I had high respects for him. It is another long Divine tale beyond the scope of this comment.

    As regards your observation of Sri Satya Sai Baba’s ailments, I can’t claim an authority on Him but I certainly am well aware of all those, I assert here with my due respects to you, I would request you yourself to read a little more if you do not want to repeat your mistake again. Suffice to conclude that Swami Sivananda was a Great Yogi cum Saint undoubtedly but Sri Satya Sai Baba was an Avatar manifestation of the Sai Trinity. I should not be taken as a comparison to denigrate one over the other but a statement of observed facts with no malice. We should not let our Ego or hubris overwhelm us.

    Sri Satya Sai Baba used to say when asked about Him being a God, “You are also a God, but you don’t know it, whereas I know that I am God”? And I am sure, you will all agree that this is the beauty of Hinduism which proclaims that we all Divine Self and Sai Baba always addressed us “Divine Children” instead of Ladies and Gentlemen as the usual custome goes. Lastly with my unconditional apologies to all if I hurt sentiments. It is a sporting debate and should be taken in the same light. Syamukmath, I have to thank you also for your kind explanatory note on Smarta, I liked it but still, couldn’t understand the very purport of it in practical terms.

    With loving regards to you all, and hope to keep interacting more and more in future constructive debates like this, God bless

    • Sorry sir, i didn mean to denigrate Bhaba either .
      Smarta as i said see the 5 gods equally and you can liberally chose your ishta devta from it.
      It was put forward by Jagadguru Sankara , may be to stop fight between Vaishnava, Shakta and Shaivas ,those days. Smarta is a mix.

  8. What is disturbing today is that ‘Hate’ has overwhelmed the idelogy of ‘Love’ that is supposed to be the core message in Vedic scriptures. Dissent and disagreements has become so harsh and obtuse that the humanity has stooped down to so low level that love in brotherhood has replaced the hate in enmity.

    It has become worst after the origin of the desert cults. I say it
    meekly with respect but in an unadulterated voice. Someone has to dare speak the truth openly and it must either be accepted as such or debated openly publicly without a Damocles’ Sword hanging over the necks.

    You may have recently heard of the Catholic 86 yr so called Exorcist openly abusing Hinduism. I never expected it from a Vatican priest. It has followed an intense reaction worldwide in various communities, some condemning it while others supporting it. But it is a hate nontheless.

    I had been so far hearing the Islamists only preaching hate openly but their bandwagon has been now joined by the Vatican openly. I am aware of a one anti-Satya Sai industry promoted from some yet to be proved sources but the indicators point a finger at Vatican, which has been very ferocious because Sai movement has affected the Vatican industry adversely in their worldwide footfalls and donations. Unfortunately these desert cults are spiritually vacuous
    and are finding it difficult to compete against the Vedic philosophy, which has a very deep spiritual roots.

    Unfortunately these scriptural maxims – ‘Vasudev kutumbakam and Yogakshemam vahamyaham’ are loosing their import in this atmosphere of hate, intolerance, deciet, jealousy, anvy, hubris, anger, disrespect to human values as practiced since millennia in India and etc. Thus this realisation in the world community has to be hammered hard with impunity.

    How many Indians know that the word ‘Indian’ itself is a pejorative western construct for coloured skin as opposed to the western white skin. Yet they feel proud in calling themselves Indians despite British release from their slavery. It is a sign of continued mental slavery. One white woman had bewitched our first PM nehru who proclaimed himself as a Hindu by accident. I certainly can understand that he did not like himself to be identified as Hindu. His same mentality has continued in his dynasty but you can’t do anything against them.

    All this background calls for a more cohesive approach for Hindus if they have to survive themselves, which they will due to the deep spiritual roots and its message must be spread far and wide to the salvation of the world at large.
    God bless and with love to you all,

    • Ya. What all defamation campaigns! Baptists, jehadist none were bad in trying to work against Sai bhagavan. I dnt why they are against one who stood for universal brotherhood?!
      Sai bhaba also had respect for jesus.
      So they are against jesus himself.

  9. Hi Tandava,
    we have one more western Hindu.

  10. Thanks ‘S’,
    I will add it.

  11. About “Smartha’ : It is a tradition where the adherents follow the Smritis for their rituals.In time it came to be used as a distinctive to define the Non-Vaishnavas[followers of Ramanuja or Madhva traditions] & the Non-Shaivas [following the Tamil/Lingayat traditions] especially in the South.It was also used for the followers of Adi Shankara. I don’t know if this term was used in the North much.

  12. Earlier it was used as distinction from those who denounced the Vedas/smritis! ie. the Buddhist & Jaina Followers!

  13. Smarta word is not used in northern India and it is a news to me. Secondly I am also not much aware of using Smrities for rituals as such. Smrities are no different in essence from the Sruties; except that the former is just ‘supposed’ to be the transmitted unadulterated to the disciples by “Guru-Shishya” tradition we call it ‘paramparaa’. But it is possible that that might have got transmuted by the successive generations of the disciples and resulted into a ritual from a trajectory of Vedic knowledge.

    Buddhism and Jainism are born only a couple odd centuries before the so called controversial arrival of Jesus around two odd millennia. But the date/time of origin of Vedas is still a matter of indeterminate conjecture. We still do not know for sure about the origin of earth and its habitation by living beings. This five to six millennia old age of Vedas is Western construct to demean the indigenous culture to portray them as inferior. This theory will also crumble with more genuine and unbiased researches; just like the Indus Valley Civilisation theory of Aryan Invasion of this subcontinent and their culture prevailed over the local indigenous impoverished culture. Then we also have polluted brains like Justice Markandeya who thinks that all the people in current India belong to the imported alliens from Middle East or far away lands. Nobody is local person. Mind you, he was speaking at a Muslim function as an invited guest in the midst of Muslim elites. I heard him and patted his back while listening him on internet; his hosts must have patted him equally for his brilliant innovation theory. If this same theory, after five hundred years of history, will be quoted in the name of a luminary of the status of a Justice of a High Court. No body shall dare contradict it.

    That is why, I call the history a dead live subject, kept alive not by the events of history but by the mighty pen of a historian. Now, it depends upon the historian, “Who he is”? So will be the history. Thus the contradicting opinions and the market of thriving various theories. Everybody is either right or wrong, depending upon the intentional vision of the author.

    India in those days of Sruties was the sole nation with the birth of a world’s most enlightened and versatile culture when there was no other people on the earth. It is not just a jealous contention but the information coming out of the recent researchers’ pen. Unfortunately the currency of India or Hinduism is on its decline to the point of nihilism. Thus we don’t have many buyers of its culture. But it is not all over yet.
    I have a feeling that the world is yet to undergo another renaissance, just wait and see! God bless

  14. A word about the Sruti and Smriti tradition. Those were the days when, unlike today, they did not have any access to pen, ink and papers. Thus this tradition of Srutis and Smrities. Only about a century or so, the warfares were on surface wars fought on by foot walking or elephants, horses, camels with swords and shields. European colonials brought the guns with them.

    Same way the earliest writing scripts appear on dried leaves or wooden thin slivers
    with sandal paste. These are still supposed to be preserved in certain monasteries as a valid proof of those traditions in those days. Now of course this is irrelevant to the modern highly developped printing technology. Even the one time so popular electric type writers have become obsolete in front of the computerised printing technology.

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