The Week magazine published in India recently published a cover page series on the many faces of ‘Indian’ Spirituality. A brief summary of the interesting articles that covers the entire gamut of modern spirituality and interviews with some Gurus:
India would lead the world spiritually – Swami Suvirananda was chosen as general secretary of Ramakrishna Mission and Belur Math in May. An educationist, Suvirananda worked in Arunachal Pradesh for 17 years, and taught in Ramakrishna Mission schools in Kolkata. Union Minister Kirren Rijiju, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Jangipur MP Abhijit Mukherjee were his students. In an interview with THE WEEK, Suvirananda talks about the relevance of the Ramakrishna Mission today.
Science of yoga does not demand any kind of belief system or philosophy: Sadhguru – In spite of all its problems and contradictions, if the world is looking to a rapidly resurgent India today and an India that is about to join the ranks of developed nations, the silent and subtle contribution of the rich spiritual process inherent in the land and its people is undeniable. Though obscured by hundreds of years of foreign occupation and distorted by the aggressors, the relative peace, contentment, and harmony of the Indian people and the society are clearly the fruits of the carefully crafted spiritual process.
Mystic catcher of souls – Recently, in a television conversation, filmmaker Karan Johar asked Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev if there should be a limit to one’s love and emotions. “Love is a certain quality, not quantity,” the Sadhguru replied. “Love is not something that will get over. The more you experience it, the more it is available to you.” This is true of the Isha Yoga Centre, the Sadhguru’s ashram, as well: the more you experience it, the more it is available to you. Located on the foothills of Velliangiri Hills, on the outskirts of Coimbatore, the Isha Yoga Centre has dedicated itself to the well-being of the individual and the world.
Easterly wind bloweth – The nature of spirituality is undergoing a radical shift in the United States, with the temples furthering social change. On March 19 this year, Shaanti Bhavan Mandir in New York became the first Hindu temple to join the National Sanctuary Movement—a coalition of places of worship for sheltering undocumented immigrants. The temple was founded in 2013, by Indo-Caribbeans hailing from Guyana and Trinidad. “A mandir is not just a place we come to pray,” said temple leader Pandit Manoj Jadubans to the devotees. “We can give them shelter, a place where they feel secure.”
Old monk, new companion – The Ramakrishna Mission hopes to take its message of universal brotherhood to the Middle East – On August 14, 1897, three months after establishing the Ramakrishna Mission at Belur near Calcutta, Swami Vivekananda was travelling in a train with freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had first met Tilak on a Pune-bound train in 1892. The following year, he addressed the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. After he returned from America, Vivekananda was in touch with Tilak and other freedom fighters. So when they met again, Tilak asked him when and how India would achieve freedom. “India would attain freedom 50 years from now,” said Vivekananda. “But no one would believe how it would come. It would come surprisingly and suddenly.”
Peace in poise – The Sivananda Yoga Centre is a partner of Toronto school board – The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre at 77 Harbord Street in Toronto has been teaching people to “spread peace, health and joy through yoga”. Noahora Sierra, 57, who is from Colombia and has settled in Canada, has been doing yoga asanas five days a week and meditation twice a week since 2012, and it has made a world of difference for her. Doing yoga gives her a positive feeling, said Sierra. She and her daughter are regular visitors at the centre, established in 1962.
Taking a look at our philosophies – A FEW YEARS ago, a relative of mine philosophically said, “At any point in life, there is always someone thinner than you, and someone richer.” I could not resist taking a dig: “I am surprised it took you so long to realise that.” Jokes apart, I have always felt that this ‘Who is thinner/richer/prettier?’ game is quite unproductive. Writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry sums it up in one line: “Grown-ups love figures.” I think he meant both figures—numbers and the human form. In The Little Prince, he writes: “When you tell [grown-ups] you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you ‘What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?’ Instead they demand, ‘How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?’”
Trikonasana in Trafalgar Square – Religious activities, community service and yoga go hand in hand for Hindus in the UK. Religion in the UK has become an intrinsic part of the Hindu identity, especially in the last few decades. It is perhaps a symbol of their migration pattern after World War II or during the expulsion by Idi Amin. With time, they have established temples of their faith in the UK, as well as many community organisations and umbrella bodies to represent their ideologies. But what was exclusive to the people from that particular faith before, is now available to the wider society—and Britain stands as one of the best examples of a successful multicultural country.
Ministry of Heartful Happiness – Meditation for health and well-being matters to the UAE government- On a warm May morning, as my taxi pulls up at the entrance of an elegant office building in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers business district, I know I’m at the right place. Small groups of Indians have just arrived and are greeting each other as they enter the building. Instead of rummaging through my handbag to find the address, I simply follow them into the elevator. I’m sure we are all heading to the same place. The elevator stops at the first floor and I follow them out, down a short corridor, and into a large hall. Within minutes, the cacophony of 300 people exchanging pleasantries dies down and everyone is seated with their eyes closed; the lights are switched off and the hall descends into pin-drop silence. This is how members of the Heartfulness Meditation Centre at the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation begin each morning; with an hour-long meditation session.
Individuals can be transformed through love and compassion: Mata Amritanandamayi – When you talk to the Americans, what is it that they like the most about you? Do they come to know more about India through you? Are they keen on visiting India or, may be, even settling here close to their ‘Amma’? Not just Americans, but all people in general are longing to experience true love. There is an inner thirst to find someone who will lend a compassionate ear, so that they can pour out their heart. I don’t speak any language other than my mother tongue, Malayalam. But through love there is perfect communication, no matter what language we speak.
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