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Om Sweet Om

Om Sweet Om

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Is Asana Religious?

posted by sheetal

Last week, I received an inquiry from a Christian theologian interested in showing that “the postures of Yoga” (asana) are directly tied to Hinduism and thus, cannot be easily incorporated into daily life by Christians.  While the origin of yoga […]

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India’s Holy Men by Joey L.

posted by sheetal

I just ran across these stunning images of Holy Men by photographer Joey L. The initial set of images are of Indian sadhus living in the holy city of Varanasi…and they are absolutely breathtaking. http://www.joeyl.com/personal-galleries/holy-men-2/

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The Idea of a Constructed Hindu Identity

posted by sheetal

The following piece was written by my friend Raman Khanna, who is also a member of the Hindu American Foundation’s Executive Council. “Hinduism was invented recently.” “The word Hindu is problematic.” “It’s not accurate to speak of Hinduism, only Hinduisms.” […]

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Coalition Against Reality: Deconstructing an Attack on the Hindu American Foundation

posted by sheetal

Principled opposition is expected when litigating issues in the public square, and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) , for which I serve as the Senior Director, has at times faced stiff opposition from the right and left of the ideological […]

Advice on kindness

posted by sheetal

My yoga teacher sent me the below link to George Saunders’ convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013. It’s worth a read: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

Indian State makes Yoga mandatory in grade school

posted by sheetal

Last week, the Times of India reported that the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is making yoga mandatory for school children in grades 1 – 5.   What a great idea! The article can be found online at http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-31/news/40914078_1_yoga-teachers-chouhan-master-trainers.

Thoughts from Kumbha Mela

posted by sheetal

My good friend and colleague at the Hindu American Foundation, Swaminathan Venkataraman, recently had the amazing opportunity to attend the Hindu festival of Kumbha Mela.  Below are a few lovely thoughts he shared with the team: Today, Feb 10, 2013, a larger […]

Happy Diwali: Being like the wick

posted by sheetal

Today, Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which symbolizes the light of knowledge over the darkness of ignorance.  It’s a day for children to light small firecrackers, family and friends to exchange mithai, and celebrants to […]

An exciting night for Hindu Americans

posted by sheetal

History was made on Nov. 6, for a number of reasons.  But the reason I’m talking about is the election of the first Hindu American.  Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic contender from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, will be the first Hindu […]

The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Why We Need Her Back

posted by sheetal

This past Saturday, my friend and colleague at HAF, Suhag Shukla, delivered an amazing talk at the Marg Foundation on women, their role in Hinduism, and their roles in society today.  The text of her awesome speech, “The Vedic woman: […]

10/11/12 Day of the Girl

posted by sheetal

I just learned that today, in addition to being 10/11/12, is also Day of the Girl. This initiative, established through the United Nations, is about “highlighting, celebrating, discussing, and advancing girls lives and opportunities across the globe.” In light of […]

Wise words from Gurcharan Das

posted by sheetal

Gurcharan Das is the author of one my favorite books, The Difficulty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma. A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a great blog post by Das. It’s worth a quick […]

Eleven years…

posted by sheetal

On this crisp morning, I am staring at the partially constructed Freedom Tower.  In fact, I look out at that tower every morning from my office window and every night from my bedroom window.  Some days, it’s easier to not […]

Decline in Pakistan’s Hindu Population Due to “Better” Family Planning

posted by sheetal

If you have any interest in minority human rights in Pakistan and have the patience to sit through 30 minutes of mayhem, this news segment on Hindus in Pakistan is worth a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06cUS2IcN7I&feature=share. As most of us who stay […]

Sharing in Grief with Sikh Americans

posted by sheetal

In the wake of the horrific attack at the Sikh gurudwara yesterday, I share my deepest condolences with the families of the victims and the Sikh community at large.  Last night, the Hindu American Foundation – of which I am a part […]

NY yoga studios exempt from sale tax

posted by sheetal

Looks like the NY yoga community successfully battled its case. Tax department officials ruled that yoga is not a “true exercise.” Read more here: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/yoga-ruled-true-exercise-state-tax-department-article-1.1123779

Ashta siddhis are recipes for success without stress

posted by sheetal

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend an amazing talk by Swami Swaroopananda of the Chinmaya Mission.  Swamiji has a lovely way of seamlessly integrating various stories into his talk as he makes his point.  His talk was entitled […]

Advocacy as a tool for unity

posted by sheetal

This past Saturday was Hindu Unity Day, and I was invited to speak at the celebration at the Ganesh Temple in Flushing.  I was honored and humbled to share the stage with a number of eloquent and well-respected speakers, including […]

Guest blog: All Refugees are Created Equal

posted by sheetal

In honor of World Refugee Day, the following blog has been written by Samir Kalra, Esq., one of my coworkers at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).  Samir is our Senior Human Rights Fellow based in the Bay Area, CA.  He […]

Columbia’s Hindu Chaplain on TEDx

posted by sheetal

My friend, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, the Hindu Chaplain at Columbia University was invited to speak at TEDx.  In his talk, Pandit shares with us his riches to rags life story, which eventually led him to the Bhagavad Gita and to […]

Hinduism: Its Own Interfaith Party

posted by sheetal

Yesterday, one of my team members at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) noticed a rather curious omission on Wikipedia’s “Interfaith dialog” page.  All the major religions have a section on the page, except for Hinduism!  Of course, the beauty of […]

Kidnapped, converted, married: Growing up Hindu in Pakistan

posted by sheetal

Over the past few weeks, the news from Pakistan has been dominated by the case of Rinkel Kumari, a Hindu teenage girl who was kidnapped from home. Rinkel eventually turned up…but converted to Islam, supposedly of her own free will, […]

NPR: To Some Hindus, Modern Yoga Has Lost Its Way

posted by sheetal

Almost one year later, NPR invited me back to their studio here in NYC to record another segment on the ongoing debate over yoga’s Hindu roots.  The piece, by Margot Adler, was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition today.  It also […]

Hinduism and Homosexuality

posted by sheetal

I ran across a great piece by Prof. Anant Rambachan on Hinduism and homosexuality and thought it is worthwhile sharing. In particular, my favorite lines from his piece are as follows: There are important teachings in the Hindu tradition that […]

Twisting the Yoga Debate

posted by sheetal

The Huffington Post is currently featuring a debate entitled “Is Yoga a Hindu Practice?”  On one side, it features Suhag Shukla, Managing Director/Legal Counsel of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), who argues that yoga is absolutely rooted in Hindu philosophy. […]

Competition Beats Yoga Down

posted by sheetal

Ahh, the Choudhury’s are still at it.  First, Bikram wanted to patent “his” sequence of asanas.  And now, his wife, Rajashree, is out to make yoga a competitive sport.  Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that an organization […]

Hindus worldwide celebrate Shivaratri

posted by sheetal

Hindus around the world just celebrated Shivaratri, a night dedicated to the worship and celebration of Lord Shiva.  The festivities and worship go on all night, as this is the night – according to some – that Lord Shiva performed […]

Practicing Yoga in Prison Cell

posted by sheetal

By now, we’ve all read about the benefits of teaching yoga to children.  And despite the ongoing separation-of-church-and-state debate,  some schools do offer yoga classes to their students. Another group finding the benefits of yoga are prison inmates.  I ran […]

The Rubin Museum screens The Bhagavad Gita

posted by sheetal

Yesterday, I attended a screening of a documentary entitled The Bhagavad Gita at the Rubin Museum in NYC.  Perhaps it’s the years of reading distorted descriptions about Hinduism and its texts that tend to make me weary of these types […]

Comments from India on yoga in the West

posted by sheetal

Acknowledging the “outpouring of criticism” the Broad yoga piece received, the New York Times’ India blog published a nice blurb earlier today, taking stock of some of the reactions in India to yoga in the West.  The last quote by […]

How Poor Analysis Can Wreck Your Yoga

posted by sheetal

I’d like to thank the The New York Times for continuing to fuel the relevancy of the Hindu American Foundation’s Take Back Yoga campaign.  The latest piece in the Times Magazine, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” by William Broad, […]

Hindus, bindis, and cows in a car in Buenos Aires

posted by sheetal

I recently returned from an amazing five days in sunny Buenos Aires.  Both the city and its denizens are charming, warm, and welcoming.  As my husband and I strolled through the various neighborhoods, we found that Buenos Aires magically blended […]

CNN rings in 2012 with faith-based predictions

posted by sheetal

The belief blog on CNN rang in the new year with 15 concise, faith-based predictions for 2012.  My prediction for Hindu Americans is #12 on the list: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/01/12-faith-based-predictions-for-2012/.  Enjoy!

Leaving Lululemon behind

posted by sheetal

I never bought into the Lululemon fan club.  Granted, they do have some rather stylish workout and yoga attire.  But by the end of my seven mile run, hour training session, or 90 minute Ashtanga class, no amount of Lululemon […]

Yoga teachers and trainers: Essential, but not interchangeable

posted by sheetal

Just before Thanksgiving – and barely one year shy of its front page story on the Hindu American Foundation’s Take Back Yoga campaign – the New York Times ran a piece, “Yoga Addict’s New Mantra: ‘Mix it Up’” by Deborah Schoeneman, […]

Karma: Beyond “bad things happening to good people”

posted by sheetal

Karma is a concept that has always fascinated me.  It’s complex, thought-provoking, and essential to Hinduism.   Yet it is a term that has been “dumbed” down over the years as it has entered everyday jargon.  And more recently, “karma, […]

Diwali and Dessert

posted by sheetal

Hindus around the world are in the midst of celebrating Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights.  I began receiving “Happy Diwali” emails and messages two days ago from friends and family members across the globe.  The message of […]

Fat, drunk yogis: The continued confusion behind yoga

posted by sheetal

I’m a fan of Maureen Dowd’s column in the New York Times – her writing is pleasingly quirky and relevant.  Needless to say, I was intrigued when a friend forwarded her latest piece, which was provocatively titled “How Garbo Learned […]

Fun Hinduism Quiz

posted by sheetal

Huffington Post has a fun 15 question Hinduism quiz online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/06/hinduism-quiz_n_986328.html#quiz_1532.  There are some great questions in it, so check it out.  I actually got the one on bindis wrong, but I take issue with their answer.  I’ll leave it at […]

Impressive images of festivals, unimpressive use of “idol”

posted by sheetal

Just recently, the Atlantic published some amazing photographs of Hindu festivals that demonstrate the colorfulness, diversity, and inclusiveness of Hinduism.  The pictures are stunning and have been taken not only in India, but also in England, Nepal, and Bali – […]

Hindu Sunni or Hindu Shia: The need for advocacy

posted by sheetal

“Are you Hindu Sunni or Hindu Shia?” Seven years ago, this was the shocking question that greeted the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) delegation during a visit to a Congressional office.  More perplexing than the question itself was the dilemma of […]

Swami Vivekananda and Yoga

posted by sheetal

Growing up in a Hindu household, I’ve heard about Swami Vivekananda, and his guru Ramakrishna Paramahansa, for as long as I can remember.  At the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), we remember Vivekananda for his famous speech in 1893 at the […]

Sorry Bachmann, but government spending didn’t cause Irene

posted by sheetal

Manhattan is one lucky island.  Irene came and went this past weekend and largely left us unscathed.  The residents in my building, which is in lower Manhattan and rather close to Battery Park, were told to evacuate, and many of […]

Celebrating the life and many meanings of Krishna

posted by sheetal

Today, Hindus around the world celebrate Krishna Janmashtami, the birth of Krishna, avatar of Lord Vishnu.  Like so many, I have a particular fondness for Lord Krishna, which largely stems from my love of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata.  Krishna […]

The Economist and its phallic “lump of ice”

posted by sheetal

As a school child, I often found myself embarrassed by the exoticized description of my faith.  With those days long behind me and being far more confident, as an adult, I often find myself forced to face descriptions in magazines […]

What caste are you?

posted by sheetal

As a child, I always dreaded the world’s religions portion of social studies.  In particular, it was the section on Hinduism that made me shudder, because it was always portrayed as weird, exotic, and discriminatory.  There I was, the only […]

Dumbledore, the guru, and Harry Potter, the shishya

posted by sheetal

Continuing the guru-shishya discussion is my friend and HAF Executive Council member, Padma Kuppa, who wrote a fabulous and timely piece on the relationship between Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore.  The relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is one of the […]

Dharma sankata: dharma vs dharma

posted by sheetal

My last blog that cited from the Mahabharata drew upon the actions of Dronacharya, the childhood guru of the Pandava and Kaurava princes.  As expected, I received a handful of interesting comments about the great guru.  The reason that I […]

Four minutes for the four yogas

posted by sheetal

Just a few weeks ago, the Hindu Students Association (HSA) released a beautifully animated short film on the four yogas of Hinduism:  bhakti yoga, karma yoga, jnana yoga, and raja yoga.   The four minute film concisely and effectively highlights the […]

Guru Purnima: Celebrating the bond between guru and shishya

posted by sheetal

Today, Hindus celebrate Guru Purnima, a festival in which one pays homage and respect to her guru, or teacher. Traditionally in India, when a child reached an appropriate age, he would move out of his parents’ home to commence his […]

The music of breathing

posted by sheetal

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve taken yoga classes at a handful of different studios taught by countless different instructors.  Naturally, each one has her own style of teaching, and with that style comes a particular type […]

Yoga: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

posted by sheetal

Over the past week, I’ve been reviewing the comments in response to my last blog which continued to bring to light the Hindu roots of yoga.  It seems like the main issue many yoga practitioners have is that “yoga is […]

Hinduism: Cows, Karma, and Yoga

posted by sheetal

Over the course of the last year, as the Hindu American Foundation’s Take Back Yoga campaign has grown in prominence, I’ve been asked many times why we felt compelled to address this issue.  Why not just appreciate the fact that […]

Australia’s Fashion Faux Pas and its Fallout

posted by sheetal

Here we go again.  First it was images of Ganesh on toilet seats.  Then we had Ram and Sita on flip flops.  And now we have Laxmi on a swimsuit.  Yes, I’m referring to the Lisa Blue one-piece swimsuit that […]

Yoga: A Trendy Way of Life

posted by sheetal

A few days ago, as I picked at the lonely avocado on my plate, I overheard a group of girls discussing how much they loved their outdoor yoga session.  I glanced over and noted that they were like countless women […]

The Difficulty of Dharma

posted by sheetal

In the midst of many celebrating the demise of Osama bin Laden, there has been an ongoing debate amongst many of us at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) around whether it is right to rejoice over the death of another, […]

USCIRF’s Circus Act

posted by sheetal

The White House released President Obama’s birth certificate.  Kate wore McQueen.  Apple released a white iPhone.  And the cherry on top of this week’s circus…USCIRF put India on its “watch list” again.  Yesterday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom […]

A Hindu Haven in the Big Apple

posted by sheetal

I’ve never been a regular temple goer, but having spent a decade growing up in Atlanta, I always had access to a number of Hindu temples. As a child, my parents took me to the temple, or mandir, on the […]

Hinduism and Mother Earth

posted by sheetal

As we celebrate Earth Day, I am reminded of a story from the Hindu epic, Mahabharat, that has always touched me.  Five just princes were banished from their kingdom and forced to dwell in the forest for many years.  One […]

Previous Posts

Is Asana Religious?
Last week, I received an inquiry from a Christian theologian interested in showing that “the postures of Yoga” (asana) are directly tied to Hinduism and thus, cannot be easily incorporated into daily life by Christians.  While the origin of yoga is undoubtedly tied to the Hindu sacred texts, th

posted 2:48:02pm Jul. 17, 2014 | read full post »

India's Holy Men by Joey L.
I just ran across these stunning images of Holy Men by photographer Joey L. The initial set of images are of Indian sadhus living in the holy city of Varanasi...and they are absolutely breathtaking. http://www.joeyl.com/personal-galleries/holy-men-2/

posted 11:54:40am Mar. 03, 2014 | read full post »

The Idea of a Constructed Hindu Identity
The following piece was written by my friend Raman Khanna, who is also a member of the Hindu American Foundation's Executive Council. “Hinduism was invented recently.” “The word Hindu is problematic.” “It’s not accurate to speak of Hinduism, only Hinduisms.” More than a decade has

posted 5:21:42pm Jan. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Coalition Against Reality: Deconstructing an Attack on the Hindu American Foundation
Principled opposition is expected when litigating issues in the public square, and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) , for which I serve as the Senior Director, has at times faced stiff opposition from the right and left of the ideological spectrum in response to various positions, reports, and st

posted 5:38:10pm Jan. 06, 2014 | read full post »

Advice on kindness
My yoga teacher sent me the below link to George Saunders' convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013. It's worth a read: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

posted 10:24:26am Aug. 08, 2013 | read full post »

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