Maybe I’ll eventually get around to writing one of my own. For now, though, I really appreciate what Kaustubha does with his review. He looks at Sita Sings the Blues from a number of angles, maintains an open mind and gives her the benefit of the doubt, but politely articulates his own reservations and objections. He writes with humility and integrity, alternating between his feelings as objective critic, sympathetic viewer, and practicing devotee. I like Kaustubha’s delicate and measured appreciation of Paley’s art, even as he raises eyebrows at the theological implications of it.
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 shared at Princeton University’s Diwali celebration a few days ago — I described how the Ramayana is largely the story of reuniting Rama and Sita.
And that is precisely why the end of the Ramayana is so difficult to swallow.
Diwali celebrates the part of the story where Rama defeats Ravana, rescues his beloved Sita, and returns to rule over Ayodhya. Basically, the rest of the story goes like this: One day, years after Rama and Sita are happily living in Ayodhya, Rama hears a washerman doubting Sita’s faithfulness to Rama during her captivity in Lanka. Ostensibly to uphold dharma at any personal cost, Rama banishes Sita from the kingdom.
Say what? After pining for her, practically going mad missing her, and waging a war to free her, Rama sends Sita away? Why would Rama, glorified as the very personification of righteousness, behave so apparently cruelly and unreasonably?
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 opened the doors to our home. (That may not seem so extraordinary to some of you, but growing up in New York City it was!) The reason, I was told, was that so on this night, Laksmi the goddess of fortune could freely enter and bless our home with prosperity. In my childish way, I imagined Laksmi to be something like a more selfless version of the tooth fairy… leaving coins for us on the altar.
As I grew into an adult and embraced the path of Bhakti, Diwali became more focused on the narrative of Lord Ramachandra – the Divine in the form of an exemplary king – returning home to His kingdom of Ayodhya.
This evening’s celebration focuses on these two personalities, Laksmi and Rama. I’d like to invite you to reflect on the deep and esoteric connection between these two aspects of Diwali this evening.
Apologies for my hiatus from blogging on OSO. I have spent the last week busily engaged in hosting a special Diwali celebration at Princeton University (where, as my day job, I direct the University’s newly created Hindu Life Program). The event, held on Saturday November 14, was wonderful — a magical evening of shared devotion, learning, and celebration.
Lots of Hindu student groups at colleges and universities celebrate Diwali. What made Princeton’s celebration unique, though, was that this celebration was hosted by the institution’s Office of Religious Life and held right in University Chapel – “a truly ecumenical and inter-religious worship space” according to its website – which is home to Opening Exercises and Baccalaureate, and has hosted guest preachers like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Here’s an excerpt from the wire services about the event:
Princeton University will host its official celebration of the Hindu
festival of Diwali at the University Chapel on November 14, 2009. The
Diwali celebration is hosted by the University’s Office of Religious
Life (ORL) and spearheaded by the University’s recently created Hindu
Life Program. The program was launched last year as a pilot; this fall,
Princeton made the program a permanent part of the ORL and hired Vineet
Chander to be a full-time Coordinator for Hindu Life. The unique
appointment makes Chander the first Hindu chaplain in the more than two
hundred year history of the prestigious University.
[sic] said, “One of the aspects of the celebration that we’re most excited
about is the opportunity that it provides for guests to experience
something new and expand their horizons. Last year, I met guests who
regularly attend Hindu services at the Chapel, but who had never
witnessed Hindu worship. At the same time, I met members of the Indian
community who had lived in Princeton for decades but had never set foot
in the Chapel. To bring folks like this together under a common banner
was extremely gratifying.”
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.
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
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:
Indian State makes Yoga mandatory in grade school 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-maste