Untuk mencari kepastian, mencari kesejatian, mengapa jiwa kembali dan kembali lagi ke dunia materi yang dipenuhi dengan ketidakpastian ini? Dunia materi ini adalah tempat ketidakpastian. Kita tidak pernah tahu apa yang akan terjadi selanjutnya. Di saat kita menikmati hal-hal yang sangat menyenangkan bisa tiba-tiba dikacaukan oleh musibah yang sangat menyedihkan. Jika kita ingin mendapatkan kedamaian dan kebahagiaan yang sesungguhnya, kita harus selalu berserah diri kepada Tuhan. Para bijak meyakinkan kita bahwa, hanya ketika kita berserah diri kepada-Nya, yang merupakan sumber dari semua keberadaan, kita dapat menemukan kepastian dalam dunia yang penuh ketidakpastian ini. Tuhan adalah pengendali tertinggi dari semua keberadaan, penuh kasih. Dia mengasihi kita dalam berbagai cara yang mungkin tak terbayangkan sebelum kita menyadarinya. Kita harus berserah diri kepada-Nya di setiap waktu, tempat, dan keadaan. Kebahagiaan dalam kasih Tuhan adalah pasti, abadi. Kepastian di dunia ketidakpastian. Mahatma Gandhi mengatakan, “Kebahagiaan akan menjauh dari kita jika kita mengejarnya. Sesungguhnya, kebahagiaan hanya datang dari dalam. Ini bukan komoditas yang diterima dari luar.” Karenanya, mereka yang mendambakan kebahagiaan sejati akan sepenuhnya mengabdikan hidupnya untuk kehidupan ini dan melakukan dharmasadhana secara konsisten untuk membangkitkan kesadaran jiwanya, dan mencapai kedamaian dan kebahagiaan itu. Jika kita menemukan kedamaian yang ada di dalam, kita akan bisa berdamai dengan semua yang ada di luar. Dari banyak kelahiran, jiwa kita menanggung beban tumpukan dosa karena masih diselimuti oleh avidya, kegelapan dalam ketidaktahuan. Tumpukan sanchita karma membuat jiwa harus kembali dan kembali lagi ke dunia material ini untuk menjalani penderitaan, memetik satu demi satu buah dari tumpukan karma masa lalu kita. Jika kita ingin mencapai tujuan tertinggi, kembali ke Ketuhanan, kita harus menyempurnakan kesadaran jiwa kita. Selama bhakti kita tercampur spekulasi mental, berkegiatan untuk membuahkan hasil yang dapat memuaskan indriya, kita akan diwajibkan untuk mengambil kelahiran kembali di dunia materi ini dalam rangka untuk memurnikan bhakti kita. Keinginan egois seperti itu tidak layak untuk diperjuangkan, karena mereka tidak akan pernah benar-benar memuaskan kita. Para bijak memetik pelajaran dari karma, menuntaskan dengan ikhlas sebagai jalan pembebasan karunia kasih Tuhan.
The way to freedom is a way of silence–of silent resolve and silent service.
– Sadhu Vaswani, (1879-1966) founder the Sadhu Vaswani Mission
BARBADOS, March 17, 2014 (Nation News):
Dashes of blue, red and white powder painted a kaleidoscope of celebration, as Hindus and people of Indian descent in Barbados marked Phagwa yesterday. The festival of many colors signalled the beginning of a new year on the Hindu calendar, as well as the victory of good over evil, Pandit Thakoor Prashad explained to the Daily Nation at the Welches temple where the event was held. “Barriers are broken and all enmity is gone and everyone becomes friends,” he continued.
Prashad reported that local celebrations were growing. Fifteen undergraduate cultural studies students from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, curious onlookers and supporters came out to the event, which started late in the afternoon, despite the scattered showers.
INDIA, March 1, 2014 (Global Post):
Female sadhus, or holy Hindu women, have broken away from tradition and formed a new all-female group in India that they hope will end male domination of spiritual practices. In the northern city of Allahabad a group of women sadhus formally established their group or akhada, holding ceremonies on the banks of the River Ganges which is considered sacred by Hindus. Mahant Trikal Bhavanta, a leading woman sadhu, told AFP late Friday that the all-women akhada was believed to be the first in the history of Hinduism in India.
An akhada is a group of sadhus — reclusive ascetics or wandering monks who renounce normal life and are often widely respected for their holiness. India has more than a dozen such groups, all male-dominated. According to some Hindu lore, it is believed the first akhada was formed by Hindu philosopher Adi Shankaracharya in the eighth century with the aim of safeguarding the religion’s interests.
Bhavanta said the all-women group was facing criticism from male sadhus, who claim the move goes against age-old customs. “Nowhere in the Hindu scriptures is it mentioned that women cannot have an akhada of their own,” she told AFP.
AUSTRALIA, March 1, 2014 (The Indian Sun):
Inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the current spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the newly reconstructed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Rosehill, Sydney was officially inaugurated with Vedic rituals by Sadguru Sant Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, a senior BAPS sadhu, and the State Premier of New South Wales, the Honorable Barry O’Farrell, on Sunday, 9 February 2014.
The murti-pratishtha ceremony marked the climax of the four-day Mandir Mahotsav. The murtis, previously sanctified and consecrated by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj during his visit in 2002, were reinstalled in the new mandir amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras. This was followed by a traditional folk dance performed by children and the first arti of the murtis in the new mandir.
Another BAPS mandir was inaugurated in Brisbane the following week with a two-day celebrations on 14 and 15 February. With this two mandir openings, BAPS now holds four mandirs in Australia, specifically in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane with Adelaide to go next as well as Perth renovations in the pipeline.
INDIA, April 15, 2014 (BBC):
India’s Supreme Court has recognized transgender people as a third gender, in a landmark ruling. “It is the right of every human being to choose their gender,” it said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female. It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities.
According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people. Campaigners say they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracized because of their gender identity. Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution.
Members of the third gender have played a prominent role in Indian culture and were once treated with great respect. They find mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures and were written about in the greatest epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. In medieval India too, they played a prominent role in the royal courts of the Mughal emperors and some Hindu rulers. Many of them rose to powerful positions.
Their fall from grace started in the 18th Century during the British colonial rule when the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 categorized the entire transgender community as “criminals” who were “addicted” to committing serious crimes. After Independence, the law was repealed in 1949, but mistrust of the transgender community has continued. It is hoped that the landmark court ruling will help bring them into the mainstream and improve their lot.
On the pathway of spiritual excellence, words that discourage and those that publicize faults of others are lethal poisons.
– Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual head of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha
MILTON, CANADA, March 17, 2014 (Weekly Voice):
This small city west of Mississauga is the latest to approve Diwali fireworks as its council unanimously voted to amend a town fireworks bylaw, granting the fall celebration equal status with Victoria Day and Canada Day. The five-day festival, scheduled for October 23 this year, is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and other South Asian religions. Also known as the festival of lights, Diwali holds spiritual significance in the lighting of lamps, candles and fireworks.
Under the previous bylaw, a $47 permit was required for those wanting to discharge family fireworks. That fee is waived for Victoria Day, Canada Day, and now Diwali. The by-law will stipulate that Diwali celebrant still have to go through a permit process and clear safety concerns.
Niraj Thakkar of non-profit group Halton Gujarati Samaj told the council “without the fireworks, Diwali is not complete.” Thakkar says that the Halton Gujarati Samaj members worked tirelessly to approve the above amendment of bylaw by constantly calling each councilor and flooding the town hall on the day voting for amendment was to happen.
NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, THAILAND, April 15, 2014 (Thai News):
Thousands of Thai and foreign tourists have participated in the Nang Dan Parade during the Songkran Festival in southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province. The Nang Dan Parade is influenced by Hindu religious rituals, which are a part of the Hindu Swinging Ceremony or Tri Yampawai.
The intention of the ceremony is to engage three of the Hindu subordinate Gods to greet Shiva (Phra Isuan) when he pays a visit to the Earth in the second month of every year, in order to bless the town. The Nang Dan (Dan or Kradan means a plank) is made from three planks, the first one crafted as the Sun and the Moon, the second as the Vasudhara (Phra Mae Thorani), and the last one as the Ganga (Phra Mae Kongka). The parade is designed to welcome Shiva.
Chaowas Sanepong, Mayor of Nakhon City Municipality, presided over the Shiva worshiping ceremony at the PraSayom Base–the oldest Hindu construction that remains in the city.
LOS ANGELES, April 03,2014 (by Grace Lim, SCPR):
Aerospace engineer Dileep Bhat doesn’t consider the science of his day job and his study of astrology as mutually exclusive. Growing up in India, Bhat learned about the ancient practice of Vedic astrology from his grandfather and uncle. The older men taught him to read and interpret astrological charts through the teachings in the Vedas, 6,000-year-old Sanskrit texts. Later, when Bhat moved to the U.S., some of his engineering colleagues questioned how he could work in science and believe in something so unscientific. “There are certain things in science, like gravity; … you can’t see it, but we all experience it. Astrology has the same kind of principle,” Bhat said.
Vedic astrology, also known as Jyotish, has been part of Indian culture for thousands of years, but its followers have grown in the last few decades. As Western interest in zodiac astrology increased, so did interest in other types of astrology and fortune telling. Of course, not everyone buys into astrology’s claims, Vedic or otherwise. But those who believe in Vedic astrology see an alternative to traditional Western, so-called zodiacal astrology.
A typical zodiac horoscope reading is based solely on the date of birth. But with Vedic astrology, three different factors — the place and time of birth as well as the date are needed for a reading. Bhat uses computer software to turn the three factors into an astrological chart that is interpreted for an individual’s personality traits, physical condition and life events.