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Published: 2008/2/22 6:32:25
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(The Story of Hinduism Today Continued)

Mark Twain Meets HT: Few know that the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn spent time in India, and fewer still that he was karmically connected to Hinduism Today. That story begins decades ago. Starting life as a black-and-white newsletter about the doings of Gurudeva's worldwide fellowship on January 5, 1979, its founder's 53rd birthday, Hinduism Today has evolved over the years to embrace everything of interest to a Hindu. Before the newspaper appeared, Himalayan Academy was publishing books on Hindu-related metaphysical topics as early as 1957, laying the groundwork for Hinduism Today. Recalls Palaniswami, "We've gone from trudging through 30-foot snowdrifts in our Nevada monastery in the 1960s to walking under rainbow skies in Hawaii in the 21st century, so that's a good step forward." Interestingly enough, the Academy's earliest books on yoga and meditation were hand set by the young monks on the same wooden type Mark Twain used as editor of the Territorial Enterprise, a Nevada newspaper. There was a symbolic meaning for the editors of HT in this, and by coincidence the Hawaiian island they settled on many years later was the very one, Kauai, Mark Twain had visited on his way to India, a hundred years earlier.

Editor in Chief Palaniswami notes: "Mark Twain was the author of "Following the Equator," which he considered his finest work, the pinnacle of his career. He had visited India for three months, on the lecture circuit, giving a one-man show called "An Evening with Mark Twain." While in India he observed that all the world's religions are really paupers and beggars, but India's Hinduism is the only millionnaire, because of its pantheon of Gods compared to other religions which have to make do with just one God! Of the home of Hinduism Today, the island of Kauai, Mark Twain had this to say: "It was the most beautiful in the world." From the hand-made wooden type sorts that Mark Twain used to set his headlines, to the computer-generated fonts called Quantum Leap and Relato customized by the mathavasis on their ubiquitous Macs, Hinduism Today has come a long way. It was an unsung pioneer in the desktop publishing revolution, embracing the microchip revolution early and with gusto, presenting the ancient wisdom of Vedic Dharma in a contemporary way. In fact, three decades ago Apple Computer was so impressed by their efforts it sent a video team for three days to the Hinduism Today ashram to capture the production of the journal by monks on Apple's Macintosh computers. This film was later shown to Apple's 8,000 employees to demonstrate how a small group of monks had constructed the world's first desktop publishing network.

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