This year, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America hosted a few porminent Indian-Americans to greet the global community
Today, I was deeply honored to be joined by so many administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community – to celebrate Diwali — the Hindu Festival of Lights.
As we do so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy. I greatly value my very strong relationship with Prime Minister Modi. Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion. A time of peace and prosperity for the New Year, it is a tradition that is held dear by more than 1 billion Hindus worldwide and more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world.
Our Indian-American neighbors and friends have made incredible contributions to our country – and to the world. You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land.
The Lighting of the Diya is typically celebrated by families in their homes. Today, we proudly celebrate this holiday in THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE. In so doing, we reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American FAMILY.
We wish all of America’s Hindus and everyone who celebrates Diwali a joyous holiday and blessings of light, goodness, and prosperity throughout the New Year. And now we will light the Diya.
Brother Vishwananda, a member of the Board of Directors of Self-Realization Fellowship, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, takes part in the dedication ceremonies for the SRF Phoenix Temple’s new community hall. Photo credit: Allen Patrou
PHOENIX, AZ – On Sunday September 10, hundreds of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) members and friends of the SRF Phoenix Temple gathered to celebrate the opening of a new two-story community hall and outdoor plaza, adjoining the temple at 6111 North Central Avenue.
The SRF Phoenix Temple, dedicated in 1973, is one of eight temples established by Self-Realization Fellowship, the international nonprofit organization founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda (author of the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi), with worldwide headquarters located in Los Angeles, CA. The SRF Phoenix Temple is an outgrowth of the Self-Realization Fellowship Center established in Phoenix by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1948.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Brother Balananda, minister-in-charge of the SRF Phoenix Temple, addressed the celebrants, remarking on yoga meditation’s increasing popularity, including in the Phoenix area: “Since the arrival of our founder, Paramahansa Yogananda, to the U.S. in 1920, the interest in yoga and meditation has increased exponentially, just as he had predicted would happen. Today we are experiencing that growth as we welcome more and more truth seekers to the Phoenix Temple of SRF. The new community hall has been developed to accommodate our ever expanding spiritual family here in Phoenix.”
He explained that the SRF Phoenix Temple’s expansion project takes into consideration not only the needs of current members but also those of “spiritual seekers who are expected to find their way to this peaceful haven for the practice of Kriya Yoga in the coming years.”
Brother Balananda quoted the words of SRF founder Paramahansa Yogananda: “I have sowed the seeds of my prayers into the ether of Phoenix, and some day devotees will water them with the water of devotion and divine seeking, and they will sprout into the creation of a divine center.”
Kriya Yoga is the specific yoga meditation science that Yogananda introduced to Westerners beginning in 1920 when he came to the U.S. as the Indian delegate to an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston. Widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West, Yogananda established his society to disseminate his yoga meditation teachings and to promote the underlying harmony of all the world’s true religions.
The vitally needed expansion for the SRF Phoenix Temple, which took approximately eight months to build, will be used for Sunday School classes, special events and meetings, and includes a commercial kitchen, bookroom, parent-infant room and lending library. Five Sunday School rooms provide a centralized meeting space for SRF’s growing youth program. Paul Ladensack of CCBG Architects led the design project, and the general contractor was Concord Construction.
The SRF Phoenix Temple offers public lecture services Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and Thursdays from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Meditation services are conducted weekly. All are welcome. For more information about the Phoenix Temple of Self-Realization Fellowship, please visit http://www.phoenixtemple.org. For more information about Self-Realization Fellowship and the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, visithttp://www.yogananda-srf.org.
History of the Phoenix Temple of Self-Realization Fellowship
In 1948, Paramahansa Yogananda dedicated the first SRF Center in Phoenix, located two blocks from the State Capitol. The Center moved to 7th Street during the mid-1960s, and again in 1969 to 6111 North Central to accommodate the growing congregation. Shortly thereafter plans were developed for the construction of an SRF Temple in Phoenix, marking the first SRF Temple outside of California as well as the first SRF temple built from the ground up. It was officially opened on February 11, 1973 and included an ashram center with two resident monks to lead weekly services as well as provide spiritual guidance to local members. Sri Daya Mata, the third president of SRF/YSS, broke ground for the temple in 1972. In order to provide facilities for the church’s expanding membership, the Phoenix Temple has just opened a new two-story community hall to host fellowship events, provide adequate space for Sunday school children and increased parking, among other needs.
The Hindu festival season is upon us and Janmashtami, invoking the birth of lord Krishna will be celebrated by Hindus all around the world. Here is a recent poster from Pushti Margiya Vaishnav Samaj temple in Florida, US of one such celebration.
LOS ANGELES— Several thousand Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) members and friends from 51 states and 41 other countries will convene at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, August 6-12 for the 2017 SRF World Convocation. The annual event is a weeklong immersion in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda—widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West, author of the celebrated spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda established SRF in 1920 to disseminate his teachings on the ancient science and philosophy of Kriya Yoga, and its sacred tradition of meditation.
The SRF Convocation provides a unique opportunity for spiritual communion and practical instruction for attendees hailing from New Zealand to Nepal to Botswana to Peru. The program includes group meditations, “How-to-Live” classes based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, kirtans (devotional chanting), fellowship, and spiritual counsel from SRF monastics.
The teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda have inspired many through the years to approach life with a sense of calm and peace, helping them to achieve their goals – personally, professionally, and spiritually. At the heart of the SRF teachings is the science of Kriya Yoga, which includes a sacred technique of meditation that serves to quiet both body and mind, making it possible to withdraw one’s energy and attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one’s true self.
Among the evening talks that will be presented by SRF monks and nuns at this year’s Convocation are:
“Transforming Your Life by the Power of Consciousness and Positive Thought”
“Make Your Meditations Come Alive”
“Cultivating the Power of a Devotional Heart”
“Calmness: Spiritual Strategy for Overcoming Life’s Tests”
“Prayer: Embracing Our World With Compassion and Understanding”
While some of the program activities are open only to students of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, the evening talks are available to the public ($35 per class).
Attendees who have traveled from outside of the local region to attend Convocation are given the opportunity to participate in pilgrimage tours to several of the temples and sanctuaries established by Yogananda in Southern California, including the Encinitas Retreat and Hermitage, where Yogananda wrote most of his spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.
For more information about the 2017 SRF World Convocation in Los Angeles, please visit Yogananda-SRF.org and “Highlights from Past Convocations”
or call Self-Realization Fellowship’s headquarters in Los Angeles at (323) 225-2471.
Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is the international nonprofit spiritual organization founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda to introduce to people of all races, cultures, and creeds the ancient science and philosophy of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. Through its spiritual and humanitarian service, the society seeks to foster greater harmony and goodwill among the diverse peoples and nations of the world, and a deeper understanding of the underlying unity of all religions. Together with its sister organization Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), SRF has grown to include 800 temples, retreats and meditation centers throughout the world.
Paramahansa Yogananda first arrived in America in 1920 from his native India, the invited delegate at an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston, Massachusetts, where he delivered a speech on the science of religion. It marked the beginnings of his profound impact on Western spiritual seekers and of the growing recognition of his role as the father of yoga in the West. Five years later, a transcontinental speaking tour brought him to Los Angeles, where he established the headquarters for his worldwide spiritual and humanitarian work atop Mount Washington. Interest in his teachings has grown steadily over the years, with readers of his numerous books (including the best-selling classic Autobiography of a Yogi) numbering in the millions. The highly acclaimed documentary, AWAKE: The life of Yogananda, was released in 2014.
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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