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Hinduism 101 Archives

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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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 […]

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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

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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, […]

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 – […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Hey Hey We’re the Monks Now (and People Say We’re Monkin’ Around)

posted by Vineet Chander

Ever wondered what its like to be a monk? Hinduism celebrates both asceticism and pragmatism; enlightenment can be attained, the wise explain, both by renouncing the worldly and (properly) engaging with it. Hindus revere the monk — whether a student […]

Holi!

posted by Vineet Chander

HAPPY HOLI! Holi ( ???? in Sanskrit; pronounced almost like the English word holy), sometimes called Hinduism’s “Festival of Colors,” is about as joyous as a religious holiday can be. Although other rituals mark the observance, the highlight is throwing […]

In Praise of Shiva

posted by Vineet Chander

Today marks the day of Maha Shivaratri, a night of celebration in praise of Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity that is largely understood to be the aspect of the Divine that oversees the inevitable annihilation or destruction of all things. […]

Beck, Bath, and Bizarre

posted by Vineet Chander

Oops, he did it again. Conservative mega-mouth Glenn Beck went on a xenophobic rant against those who choose to journey to India for health-care. He analogized Indian doctors to counterfeit Gucci purses, and mocked India for (what he perceived to […]

Review: Avatar

posted by Vineet Chander

What does the new James Cameron film have to do with Hinduism? Quite a lot, hoped many Hindus, anticipating the next Matrix. But would the film denigrate Hinduism’s sacred teachings about the descent of the Divine? At least that was […]

When the Prince is the Pauper

posted by Vineet Chander

England’s Prince William spent a cold winter’s night  on the streets of central London last week. Along with others from the homelessness charity Centrepoint (which William is a patron and spokesperson of), the dashing young heir-to-the-throne slept in an old […]

The Fundamentals

posted by Vineet Chander

I fashion myself a pretty tolerant and accepting guy, but there is one “religion,” I must admit, that I simply can’t stand.  Its doctrines and practices make my blood boil. Its champions bug me, its devotees test my patience. So […]

Less Krupa, More Kripa

posted by Vineet Chander

Well, those wacky folks at PETA have done it again. In their new ad campaign, model Joanna Krupa bares it all (well, almost all) to raise awareness about adopting abandoned pets companion animals. The big deal? The object used to […]

In the Water, Not of It

posted by Vineet Chander

“Black Friday” — the day after Thanksgiving, which officially kicks-off the Christmas shopping season — doesn’t always bring out the best in humanbeings. Adults start to behave like unruly children, shoving and fighting one another over that last flat screen […]

Sita’s Separation

posted by Vineet Chander

Many Hindus consider Lord Rama and his wife Sita Devi to be incarnations of the Divine in personal form, the God and Goddess that together constitute the Supreme. In my blog post yesterday — based  on a reflection that I […]

Reuniting Rama and Laksmi

posted by Vineet Chander

Reuniting Rama and Laksmi:What can two Diwali narratives tell us about living our lives today? When I was a child, every Diwali night before going to bed, our family did something which I thought was extraordinary. We unlocked and slightly […]

Namaste! (Now can I get an Amen?)

posted by Vineet Chander

I blogged the other day about the concept of holy envy, and the broader idea of learning from one another’s spiritual traditions. So you can imagine how pleased I was when I came across this little gem, in which Pastor […]

The Ocean

posted by Vineet Chander

“Imagine there is a puddle. When it rains, the puddle is filled with water. When it doesn’t, the puddle dries up. Now compare that to the ocean. The ocean is so deep, it doesn’t matter if it rains above or […]

Ahimsa for the Earth? Pass the Veggies.

posted by Vineet Chander

Thanks to Chris at the Yoga of Ecology blog for the heads up on this fascinating Times Online piece about UK Climate Chief Lord Stern of Brentford proclaiming that “People will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to […]

3 Times a Day

posted by Vineet Chander

I like the idea that one should be able to look at another faith and think  There is something in this other religious tradition that I really value and I wish we had it. I can learn something here.  The […]

Celebrating the Paradoxes

posted by Vineet Chander

Today marks the last day of the lunar month of Kartika (???????), a sacred time of year chock full of holidays on the Hindu calendar. Some of these, like Diwali, are well-known and celebrated widely. Others — days like Karva […]

Welcome Om…

posted by Vineet Chander

Jai Sri Ganesh Sri Ganesh (also spelled Ganesa) is considered the lord of new beginnings. From the homemaker beginning her day, to the business owner commencing his account ledger, to the Bollywood director beginning the first scene of a movie […]

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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