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LETTERS

Results of Kavadi

I am enclosing a quote which appeared in an article on the financial page of the prestigious magazine The New Yorker, on July 25, 2016 (page 19):

“Dimitris Xygalatas, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut, who studied the effects of [extreme] rituals, ran a fascinating experiment with people who were undergoing kavadi—a Hindu ritual that commonly involves piercing the skin with sharp objects and then making a long procession while carrying heavy objects. Xygalatas found that people who did kavadi, and even people who just joined in the procession, donated more to charity than people in a control group. And those who gave the most painful descriptions of the experience donated the most.”

What I think Dr Xygalatas is attempting to show is that those who enter what he regards as “extreme” spiritual practices also develop a deeper sense of compassion and an ethic of responding to the needs of others.

CARL VADIVELLA BELLE

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Latest Issue

The article “Six Streams of Hindu Philosophy,” Jan/Feb/Mar, 2017, explains the six systems beautifully. It would help the readers if the Sanskrit words are printed in Sanskrit also. Those words written in English are difficult to read.

PRABHAKAR JOSHI

LIBERTYVILLE, ILLINOIS, US

Himalayanacademy.com

I find your website to be the ultimate unbiased true source of answers for all questions any one could have about Hinduism. The very nature of explanation and choice of words is simply outstanding. There were a lot of questions in my mind about life, karma, God, idol worship, Gods being married, etc, almost all of them have been answered. I thank you from the deepest corner of my heart for your effort in enlightening people like me.

Can you please add more content on places like Kashi, Rameshwaram, Tiruchendur and explain what they are special for. Why some temples are powerful and some not. If God is everywhere, why do we pilgrimage?

ANAND NATARAJAN

BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, INDIA

Missing Schools

I was most disappointed by the fact that you left out four of the most ancient schools of philosophy from the Indian subcontinent: Charvaka, Ajivika, Jain and Buddhist. Please consider presenting them in your next issue so that we do not get a one-sided view and neglect the vast richness of our heritage.

SALIL C. TIWARI

JACKSON, MISSOURI, US

Thank you for your note. As you may know, the Shad Darshanas all accept the Vedas as authoritative and are thus called Astika traditions. In conceiving the Insight, we did consider adding one spread to introduce the Nastika traditions, those you have mentioned, which do not accept the Vedas. The author felt that devoting just two pages to these important Indian philosophical traditions would not do them justice. Thus, we decided to focus only on the six classical Hindu streams and not delve into Buddhism, Jainism and the Charvaka and Ajivika schools. Perhaps we will present them in a future issue.

Hindu of the Year

I read with interest your article on Sri Morari Bapu as Hindu of the Year, Jan/Feb/Mar, 2017. There is no doubt about his immense contribution to propagate the teachings through the Ramayana. I do believe though that in the 21st century we also need a teacher who connects with the Hindu youth via logical and practical debates, which the youth may better relate to than the recitation and teaching through a drama like the Ramayana. Therefore my own nominee for the next Hindu of the Year would be Sri Jay Lakhani, of the Hinduacademy (hinduacademy.org) in London, UK. He is a teacher who promotes the teachings of Hinduism through schools, colleges and universities.

J. DAVE

SAN RAMON, CA, US

Numbering the Tattvas

I read with interest your article, “Understanding the Layers of Existence” (HINDUISM TODAY; Jan/Feb/Mar, 2017). However, the 36 tattvas of the soul that the author mentions have not been enumerated.

PRADEEP SRIVASTAVA

ALBANY, CALIFORNIA, US

Articulating our Religion

I recently moderated a roundtable where members of the Muslim faith explained their religion to members of a mix of other faiths. There were twelve tables with a dinner dialog format with two Muslims explaining their religion to the others at the table. The take-home from this experience was how consistent and simple the Muslim narrative was from the different tables.

I have been convinced for some time, and further reinforced by this experience, that we would be hard pressed to find two Hindus who can articulate their religious core beliefs in a manner that is cohesive, concise, consistent and simple to understand. It is so essential that we have a narrative that the non-Hindu community can relate to and not conveniently paint Hindu religion as paganistic.

Padma Kuppa’s article seems to share my view and I am sure others do. It seems the time has come for us to develop a simple, consistent, universal narrative of the big ideas of Hinduism that we can all use as the basis to explain our religion to others.

VASU RAYACHOTI

WOODLANDS, TX, US

Sharing your Work

The London’s Hindu Temple article in the Oct/Nov/Dec, 2015, issue is a very interesting read with beautiful photography. I like the tube map very much and have shared it with colleagues in the Tamils in Europe Research Network at bit.ly/TamilNetwork.

DEMELZA JONES

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

Biased Information

While researching astrology on Wikipedia, I stumbled across Hindu astrology. The writing is very biased and gives me a feeling that most Wikipedia authors are Indologists or Abrahamic subject matter experts who have a negative view of Vedas and ancient Bharath scriptures and traditions. This site lacks verification from a Veda expert who was born and brought up in Bharathiya traditions.

Is there an alternative site which is authored by Vedanta scholars and Sanskrit experts that can counter such sites to which people can go to for all matters Sanatana Dharma and can gradually become bigger and well known than Wikipedia and can challenge its biased views with real extracts from Vedas?

RAJESH KUMAR

We recommend you take a look at hindupedia.com/en/Jyotish

Left or Right Hand?

I am a left-handed Hindu. I was brought up in loving family and since they are observant Hindus, they tried to get me to learn to be right-handed; other than for religious rites when I use my right hand (if I remember to, otherwise the pandya/pujari corrects me), I use my left hand for most activities.

I was ridiculed by a fellow Hindu—a brahmin (by name, if not karmas), no less—for standing up to his mockery of left-handed people. His reference was to purity and to strict rules of leading a dharmic life. While I accept that as partly valid, my reference is to teachings of bhakti yoga sages and seers over the recent centuries, who reference passages in the Bhagavad Gita and elsewhere, and who have claimed that any prayer, any offering, made to God in true love and humility, is fully accepted by the Lord. To me, that makes innate sense, for unlike the Abrahamic nature of God, Hinduism as I practice it does not teach about a vengeful God, or a petty God.

How do modern Hindus learn to accept each other, left-handed or right-handed, of various varna/jati (caste)? How would the learned acharyas, monks of HINDUISM TODAY/Himalayan Academy address this issue?

HIMANSHU VYAS

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, US

The origin of this preference comes from using the left hand for personal hygiene. We are not aware, and our readers might be able to help, of any discussion of the issue in Hindu writings. Such cultural habits resist change. We know many left-handers who have learned to eat and pass things with the right hand.

Several Questions

I read your publications What Is Hinduism?, Loving Ganesha and Dancing with Siva and I liked all of these books so far.

I have some confusion regarding Hindu culture and tradition and whether they are superstitions or not. Could you please answer them? 1) In my hometown in India, it is considered that we should not cut our hair/nails on Tuesday or Friday, or at night. Do you know the reason behind it? 2) Some of my elders say that women should braid their hair. What is the reason behind this? What will happen if their hair is unbraided? 3) Elders also say that women should not cut their hair. Is this true? Or is this a superstitious belief as well? 4) I usually worship God in a dhoti without a shirt, but since I am not very comfortable wearing this attire; I feel distracted at times. Can you please suggest any other attire I can wear while worshipping?

SAI RAVI KIRAN

MALLAMPATI, INDIA

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Our Publisher’s Vision for HINDUISM TODAY Magazine

As interest in Hinduism grows, so does the need for a clear, objective and authoritative voice

WE THANK OUR GENEROUS READERS for having helped the HINDUISM TODAY Production Fund increase its principal by $100,000 over the past few years. “This has been a great step forward,” shared publisher Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. “The increase in grants is making it possible for the editors to produce fine articles more regularly, such as the ones on Assam and Varanasi in this and previous issues.”

As a next increment in developing the fund, he and the staff have now set a hefty new goal—to build up the principal so that grants can one day cover all of the magazine’s production costs.

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Publisher Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami at Hinduism Today headquarters in Hawaii: “The growing interest in Hinduism started among the youth and now permeates all age groups; it is also spreading to many countries”

“This is an important project, a serious project,” Satguru stresses. “Today, we see more and more Hindus searching for clear, unambiguous knowledge about their faith and looking to HINDUISM TODAY for answers. This is natural, for the magazine is unique, as far as we know, in that it gives friendly coverage to the immense variety of Hindu ways and traditions with objectivity and clarity, distinguishing each one from the others, so that there is no confusion. This makes a vast Hinduism approachable, understandable and, especially, usable to great advantage. It is vital to keep this information flowing. Over the next 50 years, I see that trend toward more interest in Hinduism continuing to grow, among Hindus everywhere and non-Hindus as well. I see a groundswell of enthusiasm that will parallel the growth of yoga over the past 50 years. HINDUISM TODAY needs to be there, fully endowed, fully functional and able to continue its important work.”

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