African Lotus Productions expresses its sincere gratitude to Ramalingam Moodley for all the efforts he has taken in highlighting Sadhana—The Inward Path on the global scale in the April/May/June, 2017, issue. Thank you for the beautiful story, which covered the essence of the show and its promotion of Hinduism in South Africa. May you continue to serve our Hindu Dharma.
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
Tradition and Culture
In the last issue of the magazine, Mr. Himanshu Vyas, being a left-handed Hindu, raised a question on handling things. While I am not learned or an acharya or monk, I thought I’d reply since it’s an intriguing question.
Hinduism’s broader aspects, along with our puja practice, are governed by rituals, traditions and culture. Rituals are derived from the Agamas and are therefore not compromised. Traditions differ from place to place. Culture is a smaller version of tradition and also differs.
For example, in the Tirupati temple, devotees are not allowed to enter wearing headgear; in Pashupati Nath temple, Kathmandu and Nepal, only Hindus can enter the temple. In the Kanyakumari temple and Anant Padmanabha temple, a devotee will not be allowed to enter unless wearing a dhoti or sari. These are temple traditions that differ from one to another.
As far as my knowledge extends, the use of right hand over left is an ancient tradition that is honored in every temple. When a priest gives tirtha or prasadam, he extends his right hand and devotees accept with the right palm, or right palm over left palm. It is also the right hand of the devotee that gives dakshina to the priest. I am 75 years old, brahmin, and I have never seen a priest performing such functions with the left hand.
HIRISAVE K. RANGNATH
NEW YORK, US
Great Reads for Young Minds
Great articles as usual. The April/May/June article on consciousness and mind bridging inner science and modern science is a great read for young minds. The subheading Yoga in the Waking State should be highlighted to spread the knowledge of living fruitfully in this busy world. The statement by Acharya Vamadeva Shastri, “There is nothing the world can offer that can compare to the depth of awareness, perception and insight within us,” is profound! In addition to describing what it is to be in the present moment, the article also gives the tools to help us abide in that fruitful state. Also, I wish more would take advantage of your low rate for the lifetime subscription.
GAINESVILLE, FL, US
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article “Science and the Mind” (April/May/June, 2017). I agree with the author that mind and consciousness are not produced by the brain. Rather, the brain is an instrument of the mind, and mind is an instrument of consciousness, our true eternal Self, Atman, which transcends body, mind, action, time and space. Nothing explains this concept better than the third valli of Katha Upanishad, which presents the parable of the chariot to highlight how Atman, body, mind, senses and empirical reality relate to a human being: “Know the Atman to be the master of the chariot; the body is the chariot; the intellect is the charioteer, and the mind is the reins. The senses, they say, are the horses. The objects of the senses are their paths. The wise call the atman—united with the body, the senses and the mind—the enjoyer” 1.3.3-1.3.4
ALBNAY, CA, US
Thank you for the most glorious, balanced and thought-provoking magazine. I look forward to it each quarter and read and devour it from cover to cover. I collect the magazines, share with interested colleagues and use aspects of the articles in my discussions on Hinduism. HINDUISM TODAY is the best source of information, filled with detailed and in-depth study of various aspects of Hinduism. The magazine has answers to almost any subject and vigorously places our Dharma on the highest and well-deserved platform. I am proud and honored to have a life membership for your esteemed and respected magazine. Please keep up the good work and may Lord Siva continue to guide you towards Dharmic intellect.
GAUTENG, SOUTH AFRICA
Remember the Truth
I have been a subscriber to HINDUISM TODAY since 1997 and enjoy reading its uplifting articles. India has been an independent nation since 1947. Yet its media still follow the humiliating terms of the English colonizers and their Christian missionary allies. Hindu DVDs and movies are still classified as mythology. For example, search for a Ramayana, Mahabharata, or Shiva Mahapuran set from Indian businesses. Why are Hindu literary works about things which happened in the past called mythology, while the Christian Bible is called factual history? Why do we Hindus still accept the colonialist derogatory terms for our civilization?
Professional Yoga Teachers
I read with interest your article Do Britain’s Yoga Teachers Really Need Regulating? I have been a member of The British Wheel of Yoga almost since its foundation and I hold a BWY Teachers Diploma (1974). I feel that we should perhaps differentiate between professional (paid) teachers of the practice and theory of yoga, and those for whom there is no monetary or in-kind reward.
It was certainly a rule of conduct which I was given by my guru Swami Pranavananda Brahmendra Avadhuta, in Tamil Nadu, that I should not seek or accept financial or other reward in exchange for my yoga teaching. Perhaps here we need to recognize the difference between a spiritual practice and goal, and the search for health and well-being physically and mentally.
Western developments in the practice of yoga over the past 100 years have increasingly focused on yoga as a fitness and health practice. In a world where material and financial stability are a daily concern, it is little wonder that yoga has come to be seen as a business and a well-paid profession. As a yoga teacher I would not dream of employing someone if I felt they were not fully trained and qualified, backed by professional organizations and comprehensively insured.
However, I also hold dear the spiritual sadhana of yoga. I accept that in the modern, Westernized world it is not practical for sadhus and yogis to live in forests and caves and rely on the gifting of food for sustenance. What all yoga teachers should be able to realize is that they do have the option of leading unpaid classes or workshops, providing tuition for the needy at reduced fees based on ability to pay, and to make themselves available for satsang for students to discuss the true meaning of yoga. It is not valid to claim that just because we teach yoga, we are absolved from our duty and care towards our students and therefore require no formal protection.
The alternative is to offer our skill and spiritual development to individual students at no cost—and just try telling that to the thousands of “yoga” teachers worldwide.
The Hard Problem Solved
This letter is in response to the series of insightful articles published under the title A New Science of Consciousness? in HINDUISM TODAY, April/May/June 2017.
Science, being primarily physical and spatial in approach, views the body as physical and spatial and the mind as non-physical and non-spatial. Consciousness, a yet unresolved phenomenon, transcends both the mind and the body. Thus, the soul or consciousness is implicitly more than the “physical and non-physical” and “the spatial and non-spatial” dimensions of our reality. Until and unless we (as philosophers, scientists or laymen) acknowledge that consciousness or the soul lies beyond our current paradigms and world-views, we will not be any closer to resolving the “hard problem of consciousness”—what it means to be conscious—nor the “easy problem of consciousness”—the nature of the mind-body interaction.
In addition, Western philosophy and science generally tend to view “consciousness” (or the soul) as an emergent property of the mind, and the mind emergent of the body. Eastern (Upanishadic) philosophy inverts this view: mind and matter are the emergent properties of consciousness.
KINGSTON, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA
Real vs Fake Yogis
When I was in India in the summer of 1994, I got up at 4am (Brahma Muhurta) and heard an unidentifiable sound. Proceeding out of the front gate of my guest house at Sivananda Ashram in Muni-ki-Reti, I walked down to the Ganges River and discovered yogis waist deep in the water performing pranayama breathing exercises, prior to everyone gathering at 5am in the samadhi hall for morning meditation. The Indian yogis possess the kind of dedication that is required for success on the spiritual path of the Sanatana Dharma—as opposed to seeing how much weight one might lose in a “hot box” hatha yoga class dressed in zebra-patterned leotards in headstand, simultaneously chanting OM plus concentrating on the third eye chakra, gazing out the front window to make certain the anarchists don’t steal the mauve-colored Bentley automobile full of purchases from the earlier stroll down Rodeo Drive, enjoyed whilst sucking on a peppermint latte to remove the hangover from the Oscar party that lasted until 4am (Brahma Muhurta).
CRAIG LOUIS STEHR
SAN FRANCISCO, US
In the Bali Usaba article, April/May/June, 2017, the photos were incorrectly attributed to Putu Eka Prayastiti Kefani but were, in fact, the work of Mr. Putu Sukmana Ghita
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