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Hindu/Indian Culture Outside India

A HP blog about Eastern religions being more science friendly than the Big 3

Vamsee Juluri on Mythology and Media.
Two things about this WP article. 1) The agenda - oh, the Hindus are reforming 2) Ria Sen (I assume Indic origin) contributed to this hit piece. <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/angry.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':angry:' />

Rightly, several commentators shred the article citing numerous instances of how commercial products had images of gods/goddesses.

Downward-Facing Dog for the Diaper Set



It isn't news that yoga has become mainstream in the U.S. Almost 15.8 million Americans chant "om" and move into positions like downward dog and warrior to balance their bodies and calm their minds, according to the magazine, Yoga Journal. But can this popular exercise help wriggling toddlers achieve inner peace?

A growing number of classes around the U.S. and DVD programs insist kids can reap all the benefits of yoga but in a less- structured format. They say that yoga is calming for children, teaches them more awareness about their bodies and even helps with their development.

But Punam Kashyap, a senior developmental and behavioral pediatrician at the Institute of Child Development at the Joseph Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, N.J., says there is very little evidence that the practice can have a positive effect on young children. "It's a theory, not a fact that yoga can calm babies," she says. "That said, as long as your child is having fun in a class, it's not going to harm them in any way."

As parents, we were curious if yoga would do anything to mellow out our small children. We tested three classes and a DVD for comparison.

The first place we visited was Yoga Village NYC, a two-month-old studio in Manhattan that caters primarily to kids and families. We took our 2-year-old daughter to Little Yogis, a 45-minute class for 2-to-4-year-olds that is supposed to make them less anxious and increase their strength and flexibility. We were immediately drawn in by the cheery space with sky-blue walls and painted clouds, and kid-friendly props such as stuffed animals dotted the room.

To start off, our baby and the other child participant were led through a series of animal postures by the friendly teacher. The kids squatted like a frog and made croaking sounds. They lay on their stomachs and reared their heads to hiss like a snake, and made cat and cow noises as they were directed into those positions. Every exercise worked a body part, like the legs, shoulders or back, in a fun way. The teacher helped the tykes work their core, for example, by having them lie down and hold an end of a stuffed snake while she held the other end and pulled them up.

The kids' version of the classic yoga-class ending of shavasana, or relaxation, was having them lie down with stuffed animals on their bellies and have them watch the animals rise and fall as they took deep breaths.

The class allowed for lots of movement and freedom. Our daughter was more excited, not calmer. Despite the best efforts of the teacher, our toddler spent most of the time running around and shrieking. Owner Carrin Stratford says this response is common for first timers and there are no expectations for young children to follow every exercise.

Next, we tried Karma Kids Yoga in New York with our year-old daughter. The hour-long class for parents and kids combines yoga for adults and yoga-like activities for babies up to crawling age. During the adult-focused first half of class, babies can play with the provided toys or just hang out. While we were practicing, our daughter was crawling around checking out the other babies.

The second part of class got the kids involved. Our daughter laughed and smiled when we helped her get into downward dog and the plank, and other postures while songs played. While she was reluctant to hold still for the poses, she was thrilled to play with the new toys.

We liked that there was no pressure to keep the children focused on the exercises. Parents float in and out of the studio as they took breaks to feed their children. The end had the traditional lie-down and calming period, which is nearly impossible for older babies like ours who are constantly moving. So we ducked out early and didn't get any stares because of it.

Our final visit was to Yoga Yoga, which has five locations in Austin, Texas. We took our 3-month-old son to a 75-minute postnatal class that is meant for moms to get a little yoga in and for babies to get some movement to help their development.

After a short breathing exercise, moms did some basic postures such as downward dog and sun salutations. Though some babies fussed and moms had to take breaks to nurse or soothe them, our son lay happily on the mat.

After about 20 minutes, we made a big circle and sang a few songs to our kids such as a funny New Age version of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" before we laid them down on the mats to stretch them out. Our son smiled and giggled as we moved his arms and legs in various directions. Our son was happy for most of the session and only got a little cranky during the final relaxation period. We've gone back several more times, but it's difficult to judge if the classes make him any calmer as he's a pretty mellow guy in general.

We then turned to a DVD with YogaKids, a three-disc series for kids ages 3 to 6. Our toddler daughter was instantly transfixed by the soothing voice that dictated the 35 minutes of poses that incorporate animals and nature. An image of lions roaring is followed by the lion pose where children are on their knees and stretch their arms up and roar like a lion. A bubbling volcano is followed by the same pose where children stretch their arms up with their legs apart.

Active exercises such as shaking their bodies like Jello are also part of the mix, and every pose is supposed to relax kids while strengthening and stretching their muscles.

Our daughter paid attention for at least half of the DVD before her attention started to waver. She attempted a few of the poses and was fascinated by the animal and nature sounds like a hissing snake and barking like a dog. We aren't sure if it made her any calmer, but she did have a good time and now keeps asking to "do yoga" to her disc.

While the children didn't seem noticeably more chilled out in the end, yoga did amuse them and introduce them to a practice they can use to de-stress when they're older. For us, that makes yoga for kids a keeper.

—Jennifer Merritt and Rachel Emma Silverman contributed to this article.
Gita in Samba land


[Image: 09KIMPGLORIA2_177720e.jpg]

The Bhagawad Gita in Portuguese? Well, why not? Gloria Arieira, a Brazilian and an authority in Sanskrit has translated the Bhagawad Gita and parts of the Vedas to Portuguese, enabling her students across Brazil and Portugal to access the depths of this great philosophy. So if you are seeking spirituality in the holiday resort of Copacabana, Rio, then you will find it at Vidya Mandir, a school of Vedanta studies founded and run by Gloria.

Gloria, who is visiting Kalady, with a group of 28 students, has been to Kerala before. A disciple of Swami Chinmayananda and of Swami Dayananda, Gloria's entry into the world of spirituality was after she heard Swami Chinmayananda's talk on Vedanta in Rio. That was in 1973. Gloria felt that her search for the greater meaning to lifewas answered. With her curiosity aroused she wished to delve deeper into the philosophy of the Vedas and found her way to an ashram in Mumbai (Powai). Here she studied the Vedas and lived the ashram way of life. “It was a simple life and I felt at ease,” recalls Gloria who began teaching the Vedas when she went back to Rio in 1979. It was five years later that she started Vidya Mandir on land donated by one of her students. From eight students to start with, the numbers kept increasing. Soon the school became a centre where people came seeking spirituality.

Raised in a western way of life, what exactly drew Gloria to this foreign philosophy and way of life? “I was looking for answers to life itself. I thought it could not be only for pleasure, nor could it be only for ‘dharma'. There had to be something else.”

Drawn to Vedic ways

Dissatisfied with her search in other philosophies she was drawn towards Vedic ways. Was this attraction to another completely new way of thought strange? Gloria believes that at the start of this journey itself she was able to identify with the food, people and life in the ashram.

Gloria learnt Sanskrit because it was the only way she could reach the depths of knowledge that she was seeking. The Bhagvad Gita and the Upanishads had to be read in the language they were written in. Once having mastered Sanskrit, Gloria translated the books into Portuguese so as to propagate the meaning of the text to her group of students. The number of her students increased as she could now reach out to them in Sanskrit, Portuguese and English.

“I could find a change in my students. They were all beginning to enjoy the goodness and greatness in these books. Vedanta studies had become popular,” she says. Her student group comprises office goers, married couples, twenty year olds and also people who are in their eighties. “There's this 80 year old gentleman who was my student once but comes daily to hear the talk on Vedanta.”

Gloria dresses like an Indian. Her teacher-mother-guru charm comes from her kind face, her thick neatly plaited salt and pepper hair, a gentle, slightly accented voice and a winning smile. She carries an aura of compassion and understanding of the complexities of life.

Commentaries on Gita

The course followed at the school is an initial study on Tatthva Boddha of Sree Sankara and then the Bhagwad Gita, with Gloria quoting high and low from the texts and explaining them to her enthusiastic students. She has done two commentaries on Gita in Portuguese.

Earlier in 1996 she had visited the char dhams, along with her group. Later in 2007 they took a pilgrimage to Gangotri, Gomukh and Badrinath. This time she plans to visit Kedarnath, Yamunothri, Kalady and Kanyakumari.

Gloria, 57, is married and has three children, a lawyer, an engineer and one studying social sciences. Her husband is a yoga teacher. Does her family practise her way of life? She says that there is no compulsion to change. “The Vedic dharma does not ask for conversion. But the understanding of the Vedas changes life completely.” Her children are proud of her work and value the Vedic tradition.

Has her Indian inspired spirituality taken her away from Brazil? “How can it? I am a Brazilian except that I see the logic, the higher order behind my learning Vedanta and teaching it to students in Brazil”, she says.

Gloria in a strange way belongs to the ‘parampara' or lineage of the women Vedic experts- the great lineage of Gargi, Ghosha, Lopamudra and Maitreyi.

Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s SoulThe article is about the "take back yoga" campaign by Hindu American Foundation.
Another round of celebrities using Hindu concepts/system.

Our friendly neighbor Deepak Chopra hits at HAF: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-cho...90078.html

Quote:Newspapers used to keep morgues of old clippings (I suppose the Web has largely replaced them), and I had the feeling of being dusted off, if not revived from the dead, when my name appeared in a New York Times article about the current kerfuffle over Yoga. The Hindu American Foundation is as mad about the "brand" running out as they were a year or two ago, and their claim is just as unfounded. There was bread and wine before the Last Supper, flies and frogs before the curses that Jehovah visited on Egypt and Yoga before Hinduism.

The text usually cited as the definitive source for Yoga is Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, but the familiar poses that are part of Hatha Yoga are generally traced to Shiva cults, the god Shiva being its founder. The problem that is being swept aside is that exact dates cannot be assigned to any of these texts. Nevertheless, what is certain is that ancient Vedic culture, which lays claim to being the first written spiritual tradition in the world, is much older than the loosely formed religion, Hinduism, that sprang from it. The spiritual practice of Yoga was part of Vedic culture long before Hinduism. In the interests of generosity, maybe we should refer to a famous Sanskrit aphorism, Vasudev Kutumbukam: "the world is my family." Yoga is India's gift to the world, and it would be a shame to bring back the phrase Indian giver, now banished from polite conversation, with a new meaning.

I don't know to what extent the "Take Back Yoga" campaign is an innocent attempt by the Indian diaspora to get some respect. I sympathize with them taking offense at the "caste, cows and curry" stereotype. Polish Americans want us to know that they are a group with dignity who are offended by Polish jokes; Italian Americans hate the Mafia stereotype. I suppose the price of a pluralistic society like America's is that it's an equal-opportunity offender. Indians would do well to lighten up. With a burgeoning economy at home and a return to importance on the world stage, Indian pride is getting more than its share of strokes.

Having written about spirituality for many years, I'd like to point out that the whole point of Yoga is to achieve enlightenment, and that the most revered practitioners, whether known as yogis, swamis or mahatmas, transcend religion. In fact, even if Yoga were granted a patent or copyright by the U.S. Patent Office, there is no denying that enlightenment has always been outside the bounds of religion. That's where the spiritual path leads, not into the arms of priests or Yoga instructors. Before Hindu Americans complain about Hatha Yoga being deracinated, they might want to promote the ideas that are the very essence of Indian spirituality, which preceded Shiva, Krishna, cows and castes. The nobility of Indian spirituality elevates Hinduism to a unique place in the world, something that religious partisans forget all too quickly.

Deepak Chopra is the author of "Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet" and more than 50 books translated into over 35 languages, including other numerous New York Times bestsellers in both the fiction and nonfiction categories.

Chopra's "Wellness Radio" airs weekly on Sirius/XM Stars, Channel 102 and 55, focusing on the areas of success, love, sexuality and relationships, well-being, and spirituality. He is founder of The Chopra Foundation.

Time magazine heralds Deepak Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century and credits him as "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine." Learn more at www.deepakchopra.com.
सरोज धूलिया

पिछले दिनों ऑनलाइन

सर्फिंग करते हुए मेरी नजर डगलस टाड के एक लेख पर पड़ी। दीवाली के आसपास लिखे इस लेख का शीर्षक है , ' जगमगाता हुआ वैंकूवर : क्या हम हिंदू बनते जा रहे हैं ?' मुझे याद आया कि पिछले साल टाइम मैगजीन में भी इसी तरह का एक लेख छपा था , जिसका शीर्षक था , ' हम सब हिंदू बन गए हैं। '

कनेडियन या अमेरिकी लेखकों के दिमाग में ऐसे सवाल क्यों उठ रहे हैं ? वहां की पत्रिकाओं में ऐसे लेख क्यों छप रहे हैं ? http://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/art...016102.cms

min translation: The authors in America and Canada have started feeling that they are getting closer to hinduism by celebrating Hindus' festivals.
Reports suggest that Jolie and Pitt will marry in the New Year and Guru Ram Lalji Siyag of Bikaner (Rajasthan, India) will perform the ceremony. http://news.oneindia.in/2010/12/13/hindu...+-+News%29

Siyag is also reportedly helping the couple find inner peace and harmony and strengthening their about five-year relationship by practicing Siddha yoga together. He is said to have given them a "mantra" (a divine word) which they repeatedly chant at the beginning and end of their day and it has positively transformed their relationship.

Well known Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that they were glad to know that Jolie and Pitt would tie the knot in an ancient Vedic ceremony and that yoga was helping them nourish their bonding.
Denver: The tales of wise told by Vishnu Sharma in beautiful animal fables has always reflected the moral value of ancient Indian culture. Now with a U.S. Indian to bring it to animation, Panchatantra will soon replace traditional TV fare of Sesame Street or Harry Potter as Colorado will ring in the new year of 2011 with a brand new telecast, reports India Tribune. http://www.siliconindia.com/shownews/US_...75479.html

The Rocky Mountain PBS station of Denver has announced that the animation classics of Manick Sorcar would be telecast across the state at all its affiliate stations on New Year's Day.
A comment by a HP member:

Quote:I think it's actually a compliment to Hinduism. In essence, it's treating Hindu imagery the same way Christian imagery is treated in what is still a predominan­tly Christian country. It's also got to do with the fact that so much of Hindu thought, especially Vedanta, has been soaked up into American culture that we think it belongs to us as well as to "the Hindus." In other words, our Christian culture is becoming a transrelig­ious culture, a Christian/­HIndu (Vedanta)/­Buddhist/T­aoist culture. (I don't mean to insult Islam by leaving it out, but I think we are still in the process of figuring out how to relate to Islam, and Islam is in the process of doing the same with the rest of the world. Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism have also become transcultu­ral whereas Islam is in a developmen­tal phase.)


Quote:I grew up hearing about three kinds of Jesus. To the Irish and Italian Catholics in my Brooklyn neighborhood he was the only begotten son of God, Savior of all Mankind. Among the Jews there were two versions: the laudable ethical teacher -- a nice Jewish boy who met with a terrible fate -- and the Jesus that never existed, a creature of mythology, like Apollo or Zeus. In my atheistic home, where religion was the opium of the people, Jesus was largely irrelevant, except as a proponent of the Golden Rule and as the founder of a religion that perpetrated horrors in his name.

Then came the 60s, and I was introduced to a different Jesus, by way of India. Like millions of my contemporaries, my hot pursuit of truth and personal fulfillment led me to the spiritual teachings of the East. I read the sacred texts of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as modern interpreters such as Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts and Huston Smith. It was called mysticism, but I found it, ironically, non-mysterious and eminently rational. I tracked down a yoga class -- not easy to do back then, believe it or not -- and learned to meditate. Throughout my explorations, the name of Jesus cropped up surprisingly often, and always with respect. In Paramahansa Yogananda's seminal memoir, Autobiography of a Yogi, the rabbi of Nazareth is treated with such reverence that I thought I must be missing something.

So I bought a New Testament, and it blew my mind. Because my spiritual reference point was more Hindu than Judeo-Christian, the Gospels seemed more like the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita than the churchy dogma I expected to find. The main character was a master teacher, a guru who prodded his disciples not just to better behavior but to union with the divine. His term for the Ground of Being was "Father," but it was easy to evoke the language of the Vedic seers and substitute Brahman or Self. When he tells the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount not to pray conspicuously like the hypocrites, but to "go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret," I saw a guru directing his disciples to meditate. This was a Jesus I could live with: exalted in a way that befits a giant of history, but without the grandiose, cosmos-altering triumphalism that relegates non-believers to either irrelevance or damnation.

I soon learned that Hindus in general, and the swamis and yoga masters who came to the West in particular, saw Jesus in much the same way, as a sadguru (true teacher) and a jivamukti (enlightened being) of the highest order. Some afforded him the status of avatar, placing him on the same level as Krishna, Rama, and other divine incarnations. In keeping with their pluralistic tradition, they considered the teachings of Christ, when followed properly, to be a legitimate pathway to the unified consciousness that is yoga's true aim.

In researching my book, American Veda, I discovered that this perspective has been filtering into America's bloodstream ever since Henry David Thoreau equated Jesus with Buddha and called himself a yogi in Walden. It gathered steam as a stately parade of gurus arrived on our shores and exploded after the Beatles' legendary sojourn on the Ganges in 1968. For a great many angry or alienated Christians, seeing Jesus in this way enabled them to reconcile with their religious heritage; many returned to active participation on terms they could live with, although their Christianity was often closer to that of mystics like Meister Eckhart or Thomas Merton than to the mainstream church. Even Christians whose spiritual lives were, for all practical purposes, more Hindu than anything else have been encouraged by their own gurus to remain connected to their Christian roots. This often entailed seeing Jesus as their ishta devata (preferred form of God). That these prodigal sons and daughters found their way back to the Jesus they love by way of a tradition that has been besieged by missionaries for centuries is one of the great ironies of religious history. And, in similar fashion, thousands of Jews who studied Hinduism and Buddhism have come to see Jesus as a mystical rabbi, a passionate religious reformer and a moral leader whose legacy was sadly corrupted.

The image of Jesus as a sage and sadguru may not sit well with clerics for whom Christ can only be the one true messiah and the hinge of human history. They ought to be glad that millions of people like me, who might otherwise view this season as merely a respite from work, or as humbug, will instead celebrate the birthday of a great holy man.

Quote:Julia Roberts shouldn’t be the icon conjured up when envisioning humanity’s oldest living religion.

And yet the star of Eat, Pray, Love, about a woman’s spiritual journey through India and other places, became just that when she revealed that she, her husband and their three children were Hindu.

Not since George Harrison introduced the world to Indian mysticism in the 1960s has the 6,000-year-old faith experienced such headlines.

Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, J.D Salinger, pop star Katy Perry and NFL running back Rickie Williams all practiced some form of Hinduism. Britney Spears had her 4-month-old son blessed in a Hindu temple.

It was Gandhi who transformed the Hindu ideal of ahimsa, nonviolence toward all living beings, into a political and social movement that later inspired Martin Luther King Jr.

Hinduism has a rich, though rather low-key, American history, but that’s starting to change thanks to such high-profile devotees as Julia Roberts.

“Popular stars talking about Hinduism only helps,” said Vandna Kashyap, a Hindu mother of three in Anniston. “Many people are interested in movie stars and their beliefs. They can identify more with what American movie stars describe about the religion and its practice than from a foreigner.”

Growing up in an area dominated by Christianity, Vandna Kashyap’s 17-year-old daughter, Nisha, got used to the questions: Do you believe in heaven? Do you go to church? As a child, being Hindu made Nisha feel “weird.” But now the Donoho High School senior has learned to embrace what once made her different.

“Soon I realized that I am unique,” she said. “I have a background and a story, a religion so different from those around me. I think it’s fun when people ask me about my culture and religion. I feel like I have something special to share.” 

Today, many of the philosophies, sacred practices and even some of the 33 million Hindu deities have achieved a pop-culture cachet.

It’s nothing to see a housewife practicing yoga on a Wii, to buy icons of Shiva the Destroyer at Pier 1 or a T-shirt from Target emblazoned with the “ohm” symbol, signifying the rounded wholeness of Brahman.  

Having aspects of Hinduism fall into the pop-culture vernacular is a blessing, said Sam Shah, president of the board of trustees for the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Birmingham.

“Hindu faith is known as sanatan faith,” he said. “This means it is a universal faith for all human beings without considering any color, cast, faith and origin. Hindu faith tells me that we are brothers and sisters under the fatherhood of God — it can be any Krishna, Ram, Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha.

“Let us all enjoy the heavenly earth.”

‘India is in the limelight’

While 76 percent of Americans continue to identify as Christian, the more than 2.2 million Hindu Americans — a fraction of the nearly 1 billion on Earth — are making their presence known, though largely under the religious radar.

“From the practical — yoga, meditation, vegetarianism — to the more esoteric — belief in karma and reincarnation … core concepts of Hinduism are not only being embraced by Americans, but are slowly being assimilated into the American collective consciousness just as Judeo-Christian values were a generation before,” said Suhag Shukla, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation.

But assimilation doesn’t necessarily translate into understanding. “Hinduism is often misunderstood or misrepresented,” said Vandna Kashyap. “It can be confusing. Hinduism is not a monotheistic religion, as most other religions are. Hinduism is just a way of life.”

While it might be fashionable to get a henna tattoo or practice yoga, these are merely glimpses into the culture of Hinduism and do not fully represent the depth of this ancient religion or its people … but it’s a start, Kashyap said.

“By the same token, India was only known for its snake charmers and cows roaming its streets,” she said. “India has a much deeper, more vast, very ancient culture. It’s immense dance forms, many spices, different cloths, vivid rich saris, amazing temples, incredible sculptures … the list goes on.

“I’m glad that people are becoming more and more aware of that, even if it stems from the fascination with the Bollywood stars or the fashion.

“India is in the limelight … more people are traveling (there) and learning about its rich culture and heritage. That’s nice to see.”

Conflicts with Christianity

In India, yoga was free, practiced in public parks and ashrams as part of the Hindu commitment to an austere life. It was led by yogis, holy men in loincloths who abstained from alcohol, prayed, meditated and chanted for hours a day.

Today, more than 30 million Americans practice some form of yoga, an industry that generates an estimated $6 billion.

Jill Timmons considers yoga a “godsend.”

Every morning, after dropping off her three kids at school and clearing away the breakfast dishes, the 41-year-old changes into her workout clothes and turns on the flat-screen TV in the family room.

Using her Wii Fit video game console, Timmons spends upwards of 45 minutes practicing yoga, crediting it for helping her lose 20 pounds and giving her “the flexibility of a teen-age cheerleader.”

But she won’t go so far as to call it a spiritual exercise. “It’s about what works for me,” she said. “I don’t necessarily feel closer to God because I practice yoga in front of the TV, but I do feel more in tune with my body. That helps to center my thoughts on other things.”

While yoga is not a religion in the traditional sense, it is considered a spiritual path designed to reach the divine, which could fundamentally put it at odds with Christianity, said Rajiv Malhorta, founder of Infinity Foundation, in a recent essay, “A Hindu View of Christian Yoga,” written for The Huffington Post.

“Yoga’s metaphysics center around the quest to attain liberation from one’s conditioning caused by past karma,” Malhorta wrote. “Karma includes the baggage from prior lives, underscoring the importance of reincarnation. While it is fashionable for many Westerners to say they believe in karma and reincarnation, they have seldom worked out the contradictions with core biblical doctrines.”

Yoga transcends creeds

But most who teach and practice yoga believe its benefits transcend individual pronouncements of faith.

“The practice of yoga is a philosophy or way of life, but not a religion,” said Mariya Bullock, founder of the Anniston Yoga Center. Bullock has been practicing yoga since she was 11 years old. But it was at the age of 26, after sustaining a lingering back injury following a marathon in Frankfurt, Germany, that she recommitted her life to yoga.

“There is no need to attach a religious label to yoga, anymore than there is a need to attach a religious label to penicillin,” said Bullock, who is a Christian. “Regardless of one’s religious affiliation, the medication will do its work without bias.”

But C.O. Grinstead, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Oxford, believes that there is only one path to inner peace.

“In the Christian society today, we are substituting various things for peace, tranquility, conformity,” Grinstead said. “Why do we need to go to ‘substitutes’ to find calmness and a peaceful spirit? What happens to us is that when we hear this new thing, solution or practice, then we quickly run after it rather than to the Lord, who is the Prince of Peace … Why do we need to use yoga when we have Jesus?”

Cheryl Moody has been practicing yoga for some 25 years, spending the last three years as an instructor at the Anniston YMCA. Most who come to learn from her are seeking not only to gain strength and flexibility but also a sense of community, which is fostered in yoga classes.

“Yoga is a mind/body/spirit practice done with intention, so you practice it in a more present way than other, more traditional forms of strength training,” Moody said. “Yoga means to yoke or unite your breath with movement; this clears the mind as well as strengthens the body.

“Yoga also offers the opportunity to quiet all that internal chatter.”

Read more: Anniston Star - From yoga to Julia Roberts Hinduism goes mainstream
Quote:Hinduism, in the course of its long history, has always adjusted itself to changing circumstances Today we live the evolutionary encounter of Hinduism and Western culture. Scholar Georg Feuerstein wrote, echoing Carl Jung and Arnold Toynbee: "The westward movement of Eastern teachings is a most decisive event in our time, one which has already transformed the West."

With regard to this westward flow of Hinduism, the key landmark is surely Swami Vivekananda's famous talk at the first Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893. Eastern influences were already making an impact by then: the Theosophical Society had been founded in 1875, and German and American transcendentalists had been reading the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita for nearly a century. However, Vivekananda's talk opened the floodgates of visits by Hindu gurus to the West, a movement which reached a peak around 1970 when major teachers began their ministry.

Sanatana Dharma holds that behind every religion there is an unseen essence: the Self, or Brahman.The highest understanding of Sanatana Dharma is that it implies non-dual awareness, as in "Aham Brahmasmi"--"I am Brahman." We know that as long as a person is alive the Self exists within them, even if they lose their way and wander in misery and ignorance. In the same way, the essence of every religion is always present, even when that religion goes through a less enlightened period. That very Self of religion is nothing but the Sanatana Dharma.

However, when most Western seekers look at the broad expanse of Hinduism, they find themselves absorbing it gradually. The West is generally interested in yoga, asanas, kirtan, meditation, gurus, non-dual philosophy and the concepts of karma, reincarnation and dharma. Therefore, Western Hinduism is interested in the aspects of Hinduism that are spiritual, yet logical for the intellectual mind.

In my own spiritual path a critical moment occurred when I discovered that great beings who realized Truth still exist in our time. Soon after I was off to India, where I met my guru, Baba Muktananda. Because of these great living souls, Hinduism has spread beyond India's borders and traveled around the world. Theirs was not a merely philosophical or intellectual influence. The great pioneering Indian masters actually gave an awakening to students. They gave shaktipat (mystical initiation), awakening the kundalini energy. As a result, there are thousands, maybe even millions, of Westerners who have been awakened, accepted a guru and are now doing sadhana, meditating, attending satsangs and reading Hindu scripture. Such is the influence of great Indian gurus.

In 1893, when Swami Vivekananda gave his talk, yoga and meditation were unknown in the West. Today, 118 years later, they are everywhere. There are yoga studios in every shopping center. Every other celebrity is meditating and lots of ordinary people are, too. Kirtan is spreading like wildfire. And now a remarkable percentage of Americans and Australians accept the notions of karma and reincarnation. In short, Hindu philosophy and practices are widespread in the West.

I believe Hinduism is the unacknowledged inspiration behind much of contemporary spirituality. Words like guru, aum, mantra, shanti, samadhi, yoga, karma, pandit, chakra, prana and shakti have become English words. There are sports gurus, business gurus, and even golf mantras. Not only have all these ideas penetrated the West, but, more importantly, people are actually doing sadhana. Practice, or sadhana, is the difference between belonging to a religion and being firmly on a path.

I observe the extraordinary fact that, for the first time in history, we have legitimate Western Hindu gurus from authentic lineages. This suggests that something new is emerging. When a religion meets a new culture, an alchemy happens. Because Western seekers have grown up in a different culture, they take a different eye to the Hindu traditions, valuing and adopting the elements of the Hindu dharma that speak to them. From the point of view of orthodoxy, this is a tragedy. But from the point of view of the Sanatana Dharma, it is an evolutionary necessity.

No one knows where the integration of East and West will lead, but it is a fascinating process. One thing is certain: the growth of Western Hinduism will continue. Overall, a new, worldwide Hinduism is emerging, but the inner core of the Sanatana Dharma can never change. It will continue to bring light to the world.

Hinduism has great freedom and flexibility. When a disciple reaches spiritual maturity, he attains a deep relationship with the Divine, becoming a sage who may blend traditional and innovative methods. Hinduism does not stifle independence. The Shiva Sutras say, "Siddha svatantra bhava," "A siddha is supremely free."

The genius of Hinduism is that it forever expresses the dynamism of Divine revelation. It does not get bogged down in dogma and limitation. Forms are created, sustained and destroyed; new forms arise, blazing with the shakti of revelation.

I urge all Hindus to accept this new international form of the same ancient Hinduism, with its many seekers from foreign lands. Hindus have every reason to be proud that the great teachings of the Hindu sages have spread around the world. This is not a distortion of Vedic culture but a tribute to the greatness and universality of these teachings. India is the spiritual mother of the world.

I belong to an ancient lineage of great masters. I revere my own tradition while respecting others. Hinduism is free enough to meet each new situation with courage and creativity. This new wave is an expression of the same force that manifested as the Vedas numberless years ago. It is the widest, broadest and most tolerant path. As such, it will not go wrong.

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shankarananda is an American-born guru in the lineage of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. An authority on the philosophy and practice of Kashmir Shaivism, he founded the Shiva Ashram near Melbourne, Australia, where he lives.

Is there someone who can educate me a little more on Kripaluji Maharaj and his philosophy - he claims himself to be a Jagadguru. One of his disciples is touring the US and someone has introduced some of their materials to me. Please let me know your thoughts on his teachings? Thanks.
[quote name='k.ram' date='06 August 2005 - 10:27 PM' timestamp='1123346954' post='37098']

The O'Odham: Native-Americans With Ancestors From India?


Indian culture is the best culture in the world.
[quote name='deepak patel' date='28 July 2011 - 04:12 PM' timestamp='1311849299' post='112304']

Indian culture is the best culture in the world.


Maybe it is but many people find indian culture(way of speaking,gesture,behaviour,art,ornamentation,colors,feelings and so one), too exagerated ,in one way or another.

For example ,if a movie or behaviour it is village,"is too villlage",if is cool "is too cool",if its modern,is "too modern".

Also it seems to lack the "coolness" of african culture.Jamaicans or africans are more "cool".

If cuteness is definitory of japanese culture,for me playfullness is the definitory caracteristic of indian culture.
[url="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/world/asia/borneo-tribe-practices-its-own-kind-of-hinduism.html?_r=1&ref=world&pagewanted=all"]Borneo Tribe Practices Its Own Kind of Hinduism[/url]
Must Watch.

Aesthetic Universals and the Neurology of Hindu Art - By Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

There are but a few people who can speak in such a lucid manner !

Ramachandrans early work was on visual perception but he is best known for his experiments in behavioral neurology which, despite their apparent simplicity, have had a profound impact on the way we think about the brain. He has been called The Marco Polo of neuroscience by Richard Dawkins and The modern Paul Broca by Eric Kandel.


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