Hinduism Today Jul-Aug-Sep 2016

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Our feature story follows the burgeoning popularity of the modern saint, Shirdi Sai Baba, whose fellowship and centers grow apace around the world. His shrines are now found far from his home in Maharastra, and his miracle-filled life has become an inspiration to millions.

Lakshmi Chandrashekar Subramanian gives us the Insight section which follows the life and teachings of another saint, Kabir, who lived in the fifteenth century yet continues to move Hindus through his mystical poems and devotional music. Our journalist and photographer team collaborates to take you inside the Kabir Chaura Math, an unusual ashram-like center that preserves the saint’s life and work. There are life-size bronze statues and portraits of Kabir and his devotees, some telling the stories of his work on behalf of the downtrodden and his amazing survival against the ferocious attacks of enemies. Throughout his life Kabir sang to Ram and urged those who gathered near him to give up base emotions and embrace a more spiritual lifestyle. This beloved rascal and iconoclast can still move the most stone-hearted to a love of God, and we share some of his best poems in the article.

Our publisher gets creative with a look at dance and its disciplines, reflecting on how the dedication of an accomplished dancer is much like that of a spiritual aspirant. Using five examples he compares the two, and in the process gives us sound advice on just how to strengthen our weaknesses and make real-life progress on the inner path.

Rajiv Malik and Phal Girota visited the Indian Art Festival in New Delhi, and bring us a panoply of the event which showcased some of the nation’s finest artists, both contemporary and traditional. Interviews with eight of these gifted souls point to the essence of art in India, a nation which, partially because of it 750,000 villages, retains an astonishing number of artists and artisans.

From India we take you to Berkeley, California, where we discovered an institution that may well be a future ally in bringing authentic Hinduism into the American academic world. The Graduate Theological Union, which seeks to represent studies of all faiths, is presented by its president, Riess Pottervield. Last December the University announced the addition of a Dharma Studies program to augment its already broad religious platforms. The institution offers its graduate students cross-registration privileges with the famed University of California, Berkeley, Mills College and others. GTU’s education style contrasts with previous religious educational approaches in that its instructors provide a transparent admission of their own spiritual beliefs and practices, rather than withholding their religious identity from the students. Come take a look at this dynamic faith based educational institution.

An assortment of fascinating articles follows. In one, Ganesha hits the road and travels across the United States. An anthropologist from Maine tells the tale of creating a vibrant Ganesha-themed vehicle. His wildly decorated car, with its brass Ganesha murthi on the hood, brings cheers from Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Author Stepher Huyler offers that it also opens parking spaces. In another we unpack the world-class Patanjali food and herb conglomerate that has been made famous in India by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna.

There is a story of how one woman finds solace in worship of the Goddess Kali, another on the battle to preserve Sanskrit from Western academic incursions which seek to curtail its sacred place in Hinduism and make it a matter of the past rather than the future. There are stories about herbs and vegetarian DNA (really!) and a young man’s shadow art that went viral on social media.

More is there, much more. Global Dharma explores the Hindu-inspired deities of Japan, a religion course of study in Sydney, Australia, is shared, the growing Hindu presence in Argentina is examined and we take note of a change in the marriage laws in Pakistan. You’ll find our cartoon surrounded by inspiring and witty remarks on our “Quotes and Quips” page.

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