Allegra contacted me and told me about her blog, volara. She is a student at Princeton University and a follower of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Gaudiya Vaishnavism is usually associated with ISKCON, and Allegra’s path has taken that direction so far, though there are other linages within this tradition. She writes about both about her studies and her personal spiritual journey.
She also feels sympathy for Muslims in America and writes about Islam. I know that this is likely to be controversial, but it seems to me that even if Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims victimise Hindus, it does not mean that it is right for Hindus in America not to be treated equally.
I have added her blog to my list of blogs by Western followers of Hinduism.
Sparks from a fire
Yesterday on the way to work, I listened to the “Thought for the day” on Radio 4. This program allows people with a variety of beliefs to give a three or four minute talk on a subject of their choosing. This particular talk was by the Rabbi Lionel Blue, and he talked about what a Kabbalist had told him about his view of God. The image he used was of God being nothing in the beginning, then withdrawing part of himself to leave a void. Into this void he sent divine sparks of himself.
According to the Kabbalist, the purpose of our creation is to allow these divine sparks to find their way back to God, to make him whole again.
It struck me how similar this is to the symbolism of the Mundaka Upanishad: Continue reading
I’m not doing a long post today, so here is a leaflet about MahaShivratri:
Mahasivaratri, Shiva’s Great Night
I read a facebook post which is an excerpt from a story by Babu Rampuri. In this story Sohan Giri jokingly accuses the narrator of taking ancient knowledge and give nothing in return. The narrator sees that despite being a joke, this is actually true:
Although this was just a joke, which the other young sadhus around the dhuni were enjoying, I had to admit that he was right. I just walk in, and because I’m a white boy, and logic and experience dictate that probably there is some money somewhere, the streets of Am-rika are paved with gold (or at least gold-plated), and because of my privilege, I presume that ten thousand years of secret knowledge should simply be handed over to me just for the asking.
This made me think, we should never cease to be grateful that the tens of thousands of years of wisdom which is encompassed in Hinduism is not secret, and for the most part is handed over just for the asking.
It also made me think about how we repay this. For the most part it is with thanks and respect, but unfortunately it is not always so.
Yoga instructors have been allowed to claim copyright on yoga postures that are thousands of years old. Similarly ayurvedic medicines have been patented. This is not just being ungrateful for what has been given freely, but turning round and using the legal system and international patent agreements to say “now you have to pay us to use it”. Continue reading
Rolling With Vishnu blog
I previously mentioned treadmarkz, and his blog about disability “Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe“. Well, treadmarkz has now started a blog about his spiritual journey in Sanatana Dharma, “Rolling with Vishnu“.
Treadmarkz is a paraplegic devotee of Vishnu. He writes:
My Wheelchair is my chariot and Lord Vishnu is my charioteer as I fight the battles of life.
Treadmarkz is inspired by Swami Vidyadhishananda Giri and Paramahansa Yogananda. I believe that Treadmarkz is doing a service to Hinduism by blogging as a disabled blogger, as many non-Hindus misunderstand karma as blaming people with disabilities for their condition. Nobody should see someone’s condition in this life as a punishment or reward for past karmas. Who is to say that ultimately someone living a life without struggle, when they concentrate on superficial pleasures, isn’t the disadvantaged one.
I have added his blog to my “Westerners Following Hinduism” page, which lists blogs by Western converts to Hinduism.
Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe blog
I have some updates about some blogs, but first I want to mention a blog that is not specifically related to Hinduism. The blogger, “treadmarkz”, left a comment here, saying that my story also described happened to him when he “searched for something and found Hinduism“. Thradmarkz was born with spina bifida, and his blog talks about his experiences, to help others with disability. I was particularly interested in his posting about when the British football coach Glenn Hoddel was sacked for expressing a belief in reincarnation. I remember being outraged by that at the time, even though it was long before I became a Hindu. Maybe something from my past lives was shaping my opinions even then. I think that a lot of people misunderstand what Hinduism says about disability, we can never simplistically say “that person must have led a bad life previously”. Treadmarkz has done us great service by discussing this issue openly to an audience of people with disabilities. If you read this treadmarz, thank you.
Other Blog News
The Mahaprana Blog
A commenter has just informed me about the blog “Mahaprana: Sanskrit, Yoga Philosophy & Transpersonal Counseling“. The blog is by Joshua Michaell a Saiva Hindu who teaches Sanskrit, Yoga, Philosophy, and Meditation. He writes about his travels, tea and a wide variety of subjects with a spiritual connection.
I have added this blog to my page listing blogs by Western Hindus. I have also marked some blogs on the page which have not had recent activity as inactive.
Typical Teasdale cottage
I was thinking about a story I heard in Teasdale, about why the cottages there are painted white. There are several versions of this story, but this is the one that I was told to me by a Teasdale sheep farmer.
The Baron of Teasdale was out hunting and he got lost when the weather closed in. Even today Teasdale is wild and remote, its possible to walk miles from the nearest sign of human habitation. In those times it must have been a frighting place to be lost in. The Baron wandered in the rain and thick cold fog, until darkness fell, and he could go no further. He came to a dry stone wall, lay down to shelter the best he could from the wind and the rain, and spent a very cold and uncomfortable night.
When daylight arrived the fog had lifted and he saw that he was sheltering against the garden wall of a farmer’s cottage, one which he actually owned. He sought help from the Tenant farmer, and was welcomed in to get warm and dry near the fire. and he was given a warming meal.
Later he rewarded the farmer and his family, and decreed that all his properties should be painted white, so that if anyone was caught out in a storm they would be able to see nearby cottages and find refuge more easily.
That story may or may not be true; there are different versions of it on the internet. It struck me though that the Barron thinking that he was lost, then discovering that he was close to shelter is very like the feelings of people who convert to Hinduism. Continue reading
A site for gay and lesbian Hindus
I recently received a comment which said :
“.. But at least some youngsters move to hindu , coz they arent acceptd in Christianity coz they are Gay/bi etc.
Hindu spirituality has nothng to do with it. But Being a hindu or hindutva ,the way of life of a hindu is against such acts as christianity is.
‘Vivekabhudi’ or power to differentiate right-wrong is what which makes human different from animals. And hinduism is for those who have this viveka. So people who dnt even have the diligence of animals are not suited for hinduism.
Such people who misuse of Unorganised structure of hinduism really make us hindus ashamed.
In a second comment the commenter adds:
But I have seen a trend that when people bi/gay nt get acceptd by Catholicism they turn hindu. This is not a place for going when you have no way. Secondly hinduism is clearly in line with nature that female-male equation.
I was going to write a response to the comment, but I realised that the response would be fairly long, and I had a feeling that I should write it as a post. Part of me did not want to write on this controversial subject, some readers are bound to disagree me. I have a feeling that it is not a subject that I should just leave alone though.
Points of Agreement
First of all, I will discuss the areas where I agree wholeheartedly with the commenter. Continue reading
Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
Today i visited our mandir for the first time in over three weeks. I usually try to attend weekly, but a combination of having the flu, being away for a work related conference, and visiting my father kept me away. I can see why Gurudeva says we should visit the temple on a regular basis. I felt that I was being welcomed by the devas, and spiritually refreshed.
Image is a low resolution copy of image on the Mandir’s site, and considered fair use.
ridiculously reverent blog
Thanks to the commenter ‘S’ for letting me know about this blog.
The Ridiculously Reverent blog is by kāmya, an American woman living in Canada. she is a vedic Hindu, a devout devotee of Indra. She writes as a devotee to share her love of Indra and her ideas. She is currently blogging about a pilgrimage to India and Nepal, I will be interested to see the itinerary and what she gains from it spiritually.
I have added this blog to my page listing blogs by Western followers of Sanātana Dharma.
Sons of Gods: The Mahabharata blog
The author of this blog, Aruna Sharan, left a comment om my post “Not all Western Hindus are white Hindus”, telling me about her blog.
She is a is a black Hindu who grew up in Guyana, South America, and a follower of path is Vedanta Advaita, as taught by Ramana Maharshi. The blog is mainly about her monumental effort to produce an English version of the Mahābhārata story. She is aiming to produce a version which will be “a book the length of an average novel, a continuous story distilled down to its vital essence but dramatised so as to captivate the reader, with living, breathing characters, spiritually alive and written in an accessible style yet retaining the powerful spirit of the original”. Continue reading