Emerson – Worship

The concept of duty is explored exhaustively in the Gita as Svadharma and Svakarma. Bhagavan Krishna exhorts Arjuna and tells him that it is better to die doing your dharma than to commit a life to somebodyelse’s dharma. In our parlance these days, I see this as living a life that is true to oneself, reflected in service, compassio, love and finally good humor.

Emerson reflected deeply on life and its purpose. This is a quotation from his essay on ‘Worship’. We see the connection to Svadharma.

“I look on that man as happy, who, when there is question of success, looks into his work for a reply, not into the market, not into opinion, not into patronage. In every variety of human employment, in the mechanical and in the fine arts, in navigation, in farming, in legislating, there are, among the numbers who do their task perfunctorily, as we say, or just to pass, and as badly as they dare,- there are the working men, on whom the burden of the business falls; those who love work, and love to see it rightly done; who finish their task for its own sake;  and the state and the world is happy that has the most of such finishers. The world will always do justice at last to such finishers; it cannot be otherwisw. …. Work is victory. Wherever work is done, victory is obtained. There is no chance and no blanks. “


Life is Like a…. Reflections by Indian Senior Citizens
February 5, 2009, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center

Life is like a ………………………. 

Reflections by participants at the Senior Citizen Center of Hindu Temple, Bowne Street, Queens – Facilitated by Rathi Raja   Feb 4, 2009




Meena Mani


Life is like a Pencil

Your parents and teachers try to sharpen your brains while you are young.

You have falls and hardships and you become blunt.

Sometimes you think you are sharp and hurt other people’s feelings.

Other times you are blunt and ruffle feathers anyway.

Each experience sharpens you constantly and hopefully matures you.

But in the process your life expectancy is shortening and

Finally when you leave this world

Nothing is left of you but the shavings or your contacts with people.



Damini Mehta


Life is like Gujarati Pickle

Sweet and hot at the same time.

Sukha and Dukha go hand in hand.


Hira M. Modi


Life is like a Coconut

Outside it is a hard shell.

Inside it is a sweet fruit

All you have to do is break the hard shell.


Mira Vaswani


Life is like a Banana

Outer side is green and hard

Inner portion is soft

So we are like that.

When we are angry we are hard like the outer skin

And after sometime we become soft like the banana’s inner portion.

So life is hard and soft.

We must always think positive, not negative.

If you want your life to be soft, make others’ life soft.


Linda Izzo


Life is like a Plant

If you over water it, it will die.

If you under water it, it will die.

Therefore do not overdo anything.


Life is like a Cake

If you prepare it with love

It will taste delicious and look beautiful.




Life is like a Rose.

It look so beautiful in the beginning.

But when it continues to bloom

It goes through the hard and harsh waves of nature.

Helpless after some time it dies.

Its crushed leaves have the greatest fragrance

For the entire world.

So lets all live like a rose and leave fragrance all around

After our journey on the earth.


Nirmala Ramasubramanian


Life is like a Rosebush

The rose flower is attractive to look at.

When you go near the bush, the thorns hurt you.

Approach it carefully, avoid the thorns, then a bee stings you.

You still manage to pluck the rose.

You enjoy the beauty and offer it to your Lord.


Life is like Rasam

Drink the top part and enjoy the flavor, very soothing.

Get it from the bottom, the dhal portion is filling

You need a good stomach to digest the spices.

Mix it before using, it is both soothing and filling.

So life is a mixture of good and bad.

 Mix it and enjoy it.


Radha Sankar


Life is like a Car

We drive it.

First we get comfortable within.

And the best part is we are in control to steer.

In which ever way we want to go.

It can be in a safe path or the wrong path.

Which may lead up to a crash.

So we are in control of our life.


Urmila Gathoria


Life is like a Fruit

Which tastes sweet and times sour.

Life is a challenge which has to be taken.

Life is mystery.

You will never know what.

All you have to come through your life

Is to prepare yourself to solve it.


Nikhil Trivedi


Life is like a Sunflower

It starts blooming in the presence of  the sunrise of love.

And dies in the sunset of hatred.


Life is like Coffee Beans

It is hard of course.


When we put it in the boiling water of living honestly

It not only becomes soft

But also

Delicious and aromatic.


Kanchana Boyapati


Life is a Journey

Enjoy the ride as you go along.

We are living through history.

Making it happen as we go.


Mohini Gulhati


Life is like a Classroom

Every day a learning experience.

It is how you look at it.





The Raisin Meditation
February 3, 2009, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center, Vedic-Senior, YICG

The simplest of things can provide a deep insight into how powerful we can be in the present moment. The other day I tried to conduct a ‘Raisin meditation’ with my students. Each one was given 2 raisins. To start with, the first raisin was eaten the way one would do – automatically.

Quickly pop it in your mouth, maybe bite it once and a speedy swallow. And then look for the next one.Fpr the second raisin it will be different!!

Hold the  second raisin by the thumb and index finger. Look at it carefully. Note the creases. Rotate it and continue to look at it. Press it a little and feel the texture and transfer it to the other hand. Repeat the process. Now slowly bring to the mouth and place it on the tongue. Roll it around in the mouth and keep your self in the sensation. Move the raisin to the left, right and under the tongue. Repeat this process. All in slow motion. Now slowly take a bite – very very slowly. Feel the juice slowly coming out and relish it. Now a second bite – in slow motion. Continue this until it has been completely chewed and almost dissolved. Now slowly swallow it. Feel the emptiness in your mouth. Just close your eyes and savor this experience.

One student writes ‘This will help you get through a nervous breakdown’!!!! Om shanti shanti shanti.

Emerson and Chapter 10 of Gita – Vibhuti Yoga
January 23, 2009, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center | Tags: , , ,

As I slowly pierce through Emerson’s seminal piece called ‘Nature’, a pattern emerges. A grand scheme of Dharma and Isvara as non separate from each other – interpenetrating and inseparable. The vision of Chapter 10 of the Gita, which outlines the Vibhutis (Glories ) of the Lord, is equally charged with the grandeur of nature as presented to us. Wherever you see Nature in her resplendent form,  the patient, glorious  Ganga, the soaring peaks of the Himalayas, the sounds of saints chanting, the ever guiding Polestar, Dhruva, you can capture that Unity, that Brahman as the substratum of all.

Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 10 -Verse 8:

ahaḿ sarvasya prabhavo;  mattaḥ sarvaḿ pravartate;   iti matvā bhajante māḿ; budhā bhāvasamanvitāḥ

TRANSLATION: I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.

In Emerson’s words:

“All things are moral; and in their boundless changes have an unceasing reference to spiritual nature. …This ethical character so penetrates the bone and marrow of nature, as to seem the end for which it was made. Nothing in Nature is exhausted in its first use….. In God every end is converted into a new means. … Every natural process is a version of a moral sentence.”

“All the endless variety of things make an identical impression…..A leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time, is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole. Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world……. Thus architecture is ‘frozen music’….A church ‘petrified religion’…..The law of harmonic sounds reappears in the harmonic colors… So intimate is this Unity, that, it is easily seen, it lies under the undermost garment of Nature, and betrays its source in Universal Spirit.

“The central Unity is still more conspicuous in actions….A right action seems to fill the eye, and to be related to all nature. The wise man, in doing one thing he does rightly, he sees the likeness of all which is done rightly.”



Emerson for Now – 1
January 21, 2009, 7:36 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center
  • Emerson – A revolutionary mind. I see parallels between the Vedic seers who explored consciousness and the nature of Reality with such vigor, letting seemingly foundational pillars fall by the wayside, fearless yet compassionate. These seers helped us understand that not only is Reality not what we think it is, but also not a cause for fear. This they pursued with so much love that we can melt in that understanding, liberating our minds from the prison bars of stale thinking.
  • Some of Emerson’s thoughts on Nature:

1. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and   philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?

2. I have confidence in the laws of morals as of botany. I have planted maize in my field every June for seventeen years and I never knew it come up strychnine. My parsley, beet, turnip, carrot, buck-thorn, chestnut, acron, are as sure. I believe that justice produces justice, and injustice injustice.

3. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view.



January 21, 2009, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center, Uncategorized

Dedicated to all my friends who have suffered deep losses this year.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye (1904-2004)

Benjamin Button and the nature of change
January 15, 2009, 3:32 am
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center | Tags: , ,

Benjamin Button did strike me as an extraordinarily Wise Person, with no fear of death. He could make the ultimate sacrifice by walking away from someone he loved, for all the right reasons. Clearly his sense of dharma was very strong. Of course it is a fantasy, played out over 90 years. The movie has the sweep of a saga, yet catches you with so many human details, the ones that fill the minutae of our lives.  I got the feeling he was always the observer, who did not carry grudges, who empathized with the ‘other’ person of the moment and did not get swayed by the emotions hurtling towards him. Yet he lived intensely.

The movie ‘ The curious case of Benjamin Button’  provided a lot of food for thought.

Our Deepest Fear
January 8, 2008, 2:54 pm
Filed under: Arsha Vedanta Center
I wanted to share a poem by Marianne Williamson, popularized by Nelson Mandela
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
 It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Love Rathi

FaithHouse Manhattan
January 8, 2008, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Arsha Vedanta Center

I have had the opportunity to develop a relationship with this new organization through it’s dynamic and visionary leader, Samir Selmanovic. A recent entry in their blog has excerpts from my speech at the AFS World Peace Forum. You may find it interesting. Please visit


looking forward to your comments.


Gita Vicara – 2007 – Part 2
May 24, 2007, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Vedic-Senior, YICG

Every year  truly inspiring speeches are made by our graduating class. And every year I think I should get a copy. This time I persisted, snatching the copies from the speakers!!! And hounding them for the digital versions!  That is still a work in progress. Following are excerpts from their talks.  I could not get every one’s speeches but will update as I get them. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is my fan club!! The photograph is of the graduating class with the juniors. You can link to it through https://rathiraja.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/p5132435-2.jpg

Vedic Class of 2007:

Niyati Harneja:

 Coming to Vedic has had an impact on me. We’ve had many insightful class discussions on so many different things. I noticed I began to look at things differently. Sometimes I would stop and think “What would Arjuna do”? And then I would realize Arjuna doesn’t care what his hair looks like or if red and pink clash. Vedic put things into perspective for me. I realized how trivial and insignificant some of my problems were and I really matured from that… A topic that has stayed with me is Judgment – to be honest I am quick to judge, forming impressions of people that is hard to change. Freeing your mind from judgment is not easy but after that class I have made a conscious effort to try.

Even if I wanted to, I don’t think I’ll be able to forget my years here at Vedic. I have made so many of my closest friends here and I am really grateful for that.

Madhuri Indaram:

Arjuna’s feelings of apprehension and confusion as he faced his family on the other side of the battlefield are very similar to the way I felt about my culture and my Hindu roots before I started studying the Gita with Rathi Aunty at the Vedic classes. Growing up in a moderately traditional Hindu family, I was confused about my place in society. I remember sitting on the playground with my friends in fourth grade, and the topic of religion came up. One of my friends asked me if I were Christian or Jewish, and I had no idea what to answer. I wasn’t sure if I was Hindu, or even for that matter if Hinduism existed outside my house. It is situations like these, and of course more serious ones as we get older, that elicit the importance of knowing your roots and understanding your religion. Vedic class allowed me to ask questions that I had, ranging from Ayurvedic spa treatments to more menaingful ones about the Vedas. The discussions that we had in class every week are by far my most memorable experiences, because one question or comment would inspire many thoughts and comments from other people in the class, and debates and friendly arguments would ensue.  Rathi Aunty is an extremely valuable teacher –  she embraces our thoughts and comments, and thoroughtly discusses our questions with patience. Through our study of Karma Yoga, I began to more firmly grasp our Vedic tradition, and questions about who I was and what I should believe were answered.

Anjali Raja: 

When I entered high school, I moved into the “older” class.  This class was very different than what I was used to.  We didn’t talk about the greatness of the gods and goddesses.  We didn’t talk about how the devas fought the asuras.  We talked about the human being itself.  I was now being told a different story.  This was the story of the wise man.  A man, who might not be the best warrior, but a man of samatvam, or equanimity.  This wise man was a charioteer, but a he was a charioteer of his emotions.  He handles the ups and downs with composure.  I wanted to be this wise man.  I wanted to face adversity with a level head.  I wanted to be a contributor to society, just like him.  But then I looked back at my previous heros, Rama and Krishna. And I suddenly had a whole new perspective.  The only reason why I abandoned my ideals about them was because I expected everyone else to be like them.  I knew that I could not possibly meet a little boy like Krishna, or marry someone like Rama.  I had to look inside of myself and realize, that I had to be like them.  It is I that must love like Rama, and be brave like Krishna.  It is I that must have equanimity like the wise man.  I know now, that if I want to find the ideals and fantasies in this world, I must make them a reality in myself. 

Vidya Viswanathan:

I won’t stand here and fool you all into thinking that I have really been the best Vedic student. I have missed quite a lot of Saturdays this year, and I basically always run on a clock that is at least 15 minutes late. There is no way I could quote Sanskrit verse right now off the top of my head. But this doesn’t really worry me, or make me feel like I’ve failed in my Vedic experience. Because, when we’re all in college and looking back, maybe we won’t remember exactly what chapter six or chapter 17 says. Maybe we won’t remember any real concept beyond dharma or samatvam. Maybe we won’t remember any actual bit of verse except “Sri bhagavan uvaca.” But what we will remember, what we must take with us, is the perspective Vedic has given us. What we will remember are the discussions that have always pertained to our own lives—whether they are about our treatment of other people, making of judgments, controlling our emotions, our relationships with our friends and family, dealing with stress, our opinions on social issues, global politics, or, at the height of profundity, when to go to Ihop.

Anjali Vora: When I think of Vedic class, certain moments stick out in my mind. I remember things from 10 years ago to today – about judgment, Rathi auntie’s recurring example of the Sun producing an image in buckets of water, meditation and counting how many possible universes there were. There have been many times when a problem arises during the week and I think ‘Man I wish it were Saturday’, because directly or indirectly the class will shed some light on the issue and reveal a new point of view. I have learnt a lot by listening. As you hear everything, subconsciously or consciously, chances are that you will carry the thought into your everyday life.

Gita Vicara – 2007 Part 1
May 14, 2007, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Vedic-Senior, YICG

Vedic Class Vedic Class of 2007 - Gita Vicara2007 – Gita Vicara 

Vijay Gogia, Anjali Raja, Anjali Vora, Niyati Harneja, Vidya Viswanathan, Madhuri Indaram

Everytime I see our wonderful young adults graduate in our Gita Vicara ceremony, I do feel a sense of tremendous hope and optimism.  Some of you may have noticed that we Indians tend to be so hard on ourselves, as parents, as Culture keepers, as professionals and as comunity citizens. Where do we begin and when can we say that we have done enough? Can we ever say that, let alone actually feel it?

Letting go of my students, in an emotional sense, happens over many years. There is much I have learnt from them and that has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I wanted to share some of the treasures I have accumulated over the years from my students,  So here goes –

Its ok to sit clumsily on the chair if you ask a question on Hindu Dharma and and a woman’s right to choose.

It’s ok to chew gum and sneak a snack if you can chant perfectly.

It’s ok to dream and look out of the window on a beautiful spring day if you can explain the nature of Bhagavan.

It’s ok to ask me a question to which I confess my complete ignorance.

It’s ok to talk about Hindu Dharma and Racism, Role of the Family and Dietary restrictions and also completely disagree with me.

And finally it is ok to ask me a completely personal question like what’s up with my hair !! Or how my clothes are so behind times!

The name of this blog was inspired by the theme of this class – Equanimity; we have explored this topic in all its grandeur and I am sure we will continue to do so.

My fondest wishes to the Vedic Class of 2007. I hope you join my blog and track Nila’s  life. And some occasional news will be absolutely thrilling.

Love     Rathi Aunty

Coming to Our Senses
April 30, 2007, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Books

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book,  ‘Coming To Our Senses’, seems a little heavy in the beginning, and I was wondering where had the author gone, when the writing started to unfold like a lotus in bloom. I had thoroughly enjoyed the previous book ‘Wherever You Go There You Are’, his engaging handbook on Mindfulness.

To quote: “Thirty years ago it was virtually inconceivable that Meditation and Yoga would find a legitimate role, no less widespread acceptance, in academic medical centers and hospitals. Now it is considered normal…. Mindfulness meditation has come to be taught in law firms and is currently taught to law students at Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Missouri and elsewhere.

What on earth is going on? You might say that we are in the early stages of waking up as a culture to the potential of interiority, to the power of cultivating awareness and the intimacy of silence and stillness. We are beginning to realize the power of the present moment to bring us greater clarity and insight, greater emotional stability, and wisdom. In a word, meditation is no longer something foreign and exotic to our culture. It is now as American as anything else. It has arrived. and none too soon either, giving the state of the world and huge forces impinging on our lives”

The beauty of this book is that every chapter is just a couple of pages so there is a sense of having studied a topic very quickly. His writing his very poetic and the rhythm feels like a walk in the woods.

You can check it out at Amazon at


Love Rathi Raja

Virginia Tech and Hindu Dharma
April 19, 2007, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, hinduism

It is ironic that in last week’s class we talked about Sama Buddhi, a sameness towards different types of relationship in the study of Ch. 6, verse 9 – this included enemies, friends, benefactors and acquaintances. As I read and hear the sweep of information on the Virginia Tech tragedy I am struck by the range of emotions expressed by people. The words ‘Massacre’, ‘Mad Killer’, ‘Psychotic Murderer’ are some of the frequently used words on television. And I wonder how is one to recover from this. Innocent students, who could easily be our very own children, had an abrupt ending to their lives. I feel we have to summon from the depths of our heart a compassion for the mentally ill, who behave in ways so counter to dharma. We have to forgive this madness in our society that prevents us from knowing who our neighbour is. Is continued fear and anxiety the answer to this?? I do not think so. We still have to look for the answer in our capacity for compassion and love. That cannot be legislated by any amendment to the constitution. And no law can help us discover that.

Let us talk about our children, and how they suddenly face being called adults when they have not travelled the path of childhood.

Let us talk about the real problems of isolation and the pressures on immigrant families in a multicultural, competitive cauldron. It is not a pretty picture.

Let us talk and maybe we will find a path together to create a new vocabulary of compassion and love.

From Ian McFarlane ( VT Student) after the shooting:

While I was hesitant at first to release these plays (because I didn’t know if there are laws against it), I had to put myself in the shoes of the average person researching this situation. I’d want to know everything I could about the killer to figure out what could drive a person to do something like this and hopefully prevent it in the future. Also, I hope this might help people start caring about others more no matter how weird they might seem, because if this was some kind of cry for attention, then he should have gotten it a long time ago.”


Rathi Raja

My Dog Nila – Part 2
April 16, 2007, 2:13 am
Filed under: Personal

When a person contemplates celebrating the birthday of the family dog, it is a sure sign of some deep personal crisis. Do we not celebrate enough?? All kinds of anniversaries and birthdays and significant dates. So I thought about why I wanted to celebrate Nila’s birthday, on March 31, 2007. The two year point was significant, having crossed many rounds of eye infections, and surviving the constant first thought every morning of how her eye will look. It was a routine of grabbing my glasses and holding her head straight so I could take a close look at her eyes and inspect them for any suspicious squint. I have a feeling I held my breath too. And then I would go to brush my teeth. If the eyes looked good I had a lightness in my step, ready to face the day with ‘Equanimity’.

It is not surprising that I had the urge to celebrate her birthday, very like the crazy parties for our children. That she has made it to this point in time is cause to pause, marking the moment with fun and laughter. And with seriousness that comes with  any party planning, food, cake and guests. That last part was my daughter’s  responsibility, gladly taken as a great excuse to get together with her friends. Nila even got some unique gifts, including a nose ring for her very shapely nose.

I hope I get to celebrate her third birthday. A great vegan chocolate cake from Whole Foods -the absolute best in the world!!!

Tattvaloka – A great magazine
April 10, 2007, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Arsha Vedanta Center, hinduism, YICG

I remember this magazine growing up. It used to have a standard yellow cover, always brimming with stimulating articles. They have had a complete makeover, over the last five years. I find the article quality quite superior. Also the sponsoring organization, The Sringeri Matha, has released a five part series on ‘Sakti Darsana’, covering each goddess in depth. I am think ing of doing a series on them during our Navaratri festival season. We could include a workshop that involves storytelling, mantra and yantra, to cover the many aspects of our spiritual heritage.

Do visit www.tattvaloka.com.

A sampling of the June 2006 issue – Maneesha Panchakam, Bhagavatam, Famous Shrines, Puranas, Abodes of Kartikeya, Book Review and a Special Feature on ‘The Upanishads and the Gita”.

An excerpt from the last article:’What is Dharma? Dharma comes from the root dhr, that which supports. In the final analysis, what is it that  supports human consciousness? It is not wealth, it is not position, it is not political power. Ultimately it is the divine consciousness that suports our very existence. So Bhagavan Krishna urges us to give up all support and come to him. Speaking as the Divine, he says ‘I free you from all sins. Do not fear – ma suchah. How much love there is in those two words ‘Fear not‘ “.

Rathi Raja


My Dog Nila
March 29, 2007, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Personal

Nila was not my dog, initially.  She became my dog two days after she came into our lives, as part of an elaborate scheme hatched by my daughter. We had wanted to get a hypoallergenic dog so that all the members of our family would not have their various allergies act up. It turns out she is the one with the allergies. Within the past two years she has had a cataract surgery (genetic cause) and numerous eye infections. Between antibiotics and steroids and a zillion trips to the vet and specialists, I do reflect on the purpose of life. Is there a deep karmic connection?? Looking into Nila’s eyes, I cannot imagine life without her. She is a human in disguise.

My duty would be to take care of her the best I can. What have I learned from her – for the next installment on Nila!!

Asanas – Reeducating the Brain
March 28, 2007, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, YICG

Some interesting thoughts on the connection between body & mind:

Sthiram Sukham Asanam – Sage Patanjali

Stephen Cope in ‘Yoga and the Quest for the True Self’ writes:

Postures, have, in themselves, no magic power. Even the most advanced practice, if it is driven by fear, aggression, perfectionism, will not automatically create transformation. Postures provide a methodical way of training attention, so that movements and areas previously relegated to the ‘basement’ of the primitive brain can be brought into consciousness.

It is the quality of attention we bring to the movement that makes postures qualify as yoga. Yoga actually begins to change the body by reeducating the brain. There is a particular way of moving, characteristic of classical Yoga, that heightens our brain’s capacity to draw areas of the body’s unconscious up into consciousness.

Hindus in Kenya
March 27, 2007, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, hinduism, Trips

The Hindu heritage of Kenya
Minakshi Ajay

Click here to view gallery, ‘Hindu Kenya’:

Most visitors to Kenya want to experience the country’s world famous wildlife. A land of great contrasts such as mountain ranges, forests, lakes, desert as well as the coastal areas, Kenya’s wilderness areasare famous world wide. The name Kenya has become synonymous with the great wilds of Africa.

But there is also another side of Kenya unknown to most visitors and
that is its rich Hindu temples and Sikh Gurudwaras which form
well-known landmarks in each and every town and city in Kenya.

Kenya has a sizeable Hindu population [including Sikhs & Jains also] of approximately 2.5 million, most of them descendants of the East African Railways labourers who were brought over by the British during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the British colonialists also ruled Kenya and the rest of the East African region. Many of the labourers, rather than voyage back to the Indian subcontinent, simply settled in Kenya, and slowly brought with them a host of hopefuls willing to start afresh. Many Hindus took up Law as their profession and fought alongside the Kenyan Mau Mau Organisation, who committed themselves to lead a violent fight to drive out the British during the 1930s until 1963. Kenyan fighters such as Jomo Kenyatta had legal advisers who were Hindus as well as Sikhs.

The Kenya of today is very different to that of the early 1900s.
Indian businesses have been contributing to the Kenyan economy in a very substantial way over the years, and even today they are thriving with construction of roads and buildings being mainly handled by Hindus and Sikhs.

My recent trip to Kenya in January of this year was an absolute
eye-opener to the fact that Hinduism has gained immense strength in Kenya over the years. Nairobi, the capital city, alone has six Swaminarayan temples, five Shiva temples, two Ram & Jalaram temples, two temples dedicated to Mata Amba [Goddess Durga], one Gayatri temple, three Sanatan Dharma temples, one Murugan [Kartikeya] temple, one Hare Krishna temple and
many others belonging to different sects and communities, as well as the Raj Yoga Centre of the Brahma Kumaris.

Besides other Hindu organisations, the Hindu Council of Kenya which was initially formed by 80,000 Hindus associated with the Kenyan Government, works on projects aimed at furthering the cause of Sanatan Dharma within Kenya.

Nairobi’s suburb Parklands also has a Hindu shrine for shoppers to
walk in and pay their obeisance to the deities while out shopping in
the famous Diamond Plaza shopping complex. There are also several Sikh Gurudwaras built and run by the Ramgarhia Sikh community of Kenya, with the main Gurudwara that is in Makindu which is worshipped at by all Hindus and Sikhs along the ‘Mombasa – Nairobi highway’. Travellers to and from Mombasa often stop here to worship and admire the beautiful views of Mt. Kilimanjaro that can be seen from the top of this Gurudwara.

But out of all of them, perhaps my favourite temple in Nairobi has to be the Shree Sanatan Dharma Sabha Mandir where I got married. The temple was built in 1994 in a suburb of Nairobi called Spring Valley. Thirty-four beautiful Murtis of the Hindu Pantheon as well as that of Guru Nank were brought from Jaipur, India. Pran-Pratishtha or inauguration of these Murtis was done by 71 learned priests of Kenya during very colourful ceremonies held between 16th to 20th June 1994. On 20th June, 1994 the doors of the temple were opened to the devotees.

Outside within the complex, it has a large main hall at the far end
for functions such as Navratri & Diwali festivals as well as marriage
ceremonies, a Yagya Shala in the middle where my marriage ceremony was held, and immediately behind it is a typically styled temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara [Lord Vishnu] beautifully designed resembling the great architectures found in South India.

There is so much more to write about with regards to the fascinating
Hindu and Sikh heritage of Kenya, what I have written above is just a glimpse. To sum up, I would like to give a strong bit of advise to all
of you: if you visit Kenya, make sure it is not just for a wildlife
tour – also visit some of the great temples which have been built on
Kenyan soil. You won’t be disappointed.

Ayurveda-Information & Energy
March 26, 2007, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, Ayurveda, YICG

Over the past year we have spoken many times about the link between our body and mind; about emotional flow and its impact on our physiology. I wanted to share some notes from David Simon’s book – the Wisdom of Healing.

” The idea that something as subtle as our attention can influence something as concrete as our physical body may at first be difficult to accept. Yet, our whole concept of what is “real” is changing today. All the current technologies have evolved from one paradoxical idea: that the essential nature of the physical world is that it not ultimately physical: that the atom, for eg, which is the basic unit of matter, can also be seen as a network of information and energy.

A flower, for eg, is made up of information and energy. The energy is the raw electromagnetic, gravitational, and atomic forces that allow the flower to be perceived  by our senses: the color, shape, texture, and fragrance are the specific packages of information.

Ayurveda teaches that intelligence is information and energy that is self-referral. That means the ability to learn through experience to reinterpret and influence one’s choices. When, through our intelligence, we make different choices, we change the energy and information that enters our mind and body and by so doing, we TRANSFORM who we are.


Sun Salutation in Vedic Jr class
March 25, 2007, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Vedic-Junior

It is completely timely to explore the beauty and symbolism of the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskaar) in our ‘Aditya Hridayam’ class. We did the 12 step salutation with the appropriate mantras. You can recite one mantra for each step or each cycle. The mantras are below. Join me in class if you would like to learn this.

A interesting  website with animation :


The mantras for each step>>

1. Om Mitraaye Namah

Prostrations to Him who is friendly to all

2. Om Ravaye Namah

Prostrations to Him who is the cause for change

3. Om Suryaya Namah

Prostrations to Him who propels everyone into activity

4. Om Bhanave Namah

Prostrations to Him who is in the form of light

5. Om Khagaaya Namah

Prostrations to Him who moves in the sky

6. Om Pusne Namah

Prostrations to Him who nourishes all

7. Om Hiranyagharbaaya Namah

Prostrations to Him who contains everything

8. Om Mariciye Namah

Prostrations to Him who possesses rays

9. Om Adityaya Namah

Prostrations to Him who is the son of Aditi

10. Om Savitre Namah

Prostrations to Him who produces everything

11. Om Arkaaya Namah

Prostrations to Him who is fit to be worshipped

12. Om Bhaskaraya Namah

Prostrations to Him who is the cause of lustre

Definition of a ‘YOGI’
March 24, 2007, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class, YICG

Gita Ch. 6 Verse 8 has a beautiful definition of a Yogi – One who transcends Jnana to reach the state of Vijnana, an abiding, assimilated knowledge that is reflected in a life of compassion, giving and love.

One who is content with oneself, in that life. One who is a master of the senses. One who is objective about the different choices in life, that arise from our likes and dislikes. One who handles the ups and downs as an anvil the beating of the hammer. .

Bhagavan is setting the stage for ‘Dhyana Yoga’, a lifestyle based on self reflection, which in turn allows a steadier hand at managing ones desires and emotions. It allows us to work through our emotional drivers.

About India
March 24, 2007, 3:27 pm
Filed under: India, Movies/Slideshows

About India

Swami P’s Talk-Mundaka Upanishad
March 24, 2007, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Adult Scripture Class

Swami P’s talk on Mundaka Upanishad, peppered with his trademark humorous style, was a complete treat. He shared verse 1.1.6 and 1.1.7 with us. This was held on Friday, March 23 at the Hindu Temple.

1.1.6-Brahman is that which is not the object of sense perception or organs of action, which is unborn, which does not have any attributes, which does not have eyes and ears nor hands and legs, which is eternal, which becomes many(manifold creation), which is all-pervasive, the most subtle, that which is free from decline and disappearance, which is the cause of all beings and which the qualified people see very clearly.

1.1.7-Just as the spider creates and withdraws its web, just as the plants and trees come into being from the earth, just as the hair on the head and body grow from a living person, in the same manner, here, the creation(world) comes into being from the imperishable Brahman

Concept of Puja
March 23, 2007, 3:59 pm
Filed under: AVC Mantra Upadesha - Youth

We had a great class last week with the students exploring the concepts underlying a ‘Puja’. The 5 element model describes the relationship between the individual and the Universe. This relationship is one of Unity, consisting of the the same elements – Akash, Vayu, Agni, Apah, and Prithvi – Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. From the most subtle to the most gross. And we use 5 symbols to capture that understanding – Flowers, Incense, Lamp, Naivedya & Sandalwood.

Mantra Upadesha for Youth & Adults
March 22, 2007, 6:52 pm
Filed under: AVC Mantra Upadesha - Youth

Since Vedic times, there has been a tradition of receiving a mantra for one’s inner spiritual growth. The most famous mantra is the Gayatri, a prayer to Lord Savita (the Sun) for rendering illumination and enlightenment.  The Hindu samskara for receiving the Gayatri has been the Upanayana (the sacred thread). This can be performed by everyone, irrespective of background. In ancient times, both boys and girls received the Gayatri mantra, but during the course of history, the tradition was maintained for boys only. Nowadays there is a renewed commitment by families to reconnect with their samskaras as a way to bond with tradition. This provides a deep psychological anchoring along with a foundation for spiritual growth. This comes with study, a life of samskaras and satsang.  Arsha Vedanta Center is introducing a unique 8 week  program of scriptural study for youth, culminating in an optional Mantra Upadesha, where the student will receive a Mantra that is a prayer to the Ishta Devata of the family or youth. This is a sacred ceremony that will bless and protect  the youth. It is also an opportunity for the family to come together to celebrate the rich spiritual heritage of their ancestors.