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a small book on

Hinduism

by Jura Nanuk

A SMALL BOOK ON

HINDUISM Jura Nanuk

Š 2011 Jura Nanuk and Dharma Books Budapest. All rights deserved. All illustrations in this book are property of HINDUISM TODAY magazine and are benig used with the permission of its Editors. Texts A Call to be Vedic Ambassadors and BEING A VEDIC AMBASSADOR are writen by Stephen Knapp and are being used with his permission.

A SMALL BOOK ON

HINDUISM Jura Nanuk Text: Jura Nanuk Illustrations: Hinduism Today Magazine Design: Nanuk Design Studio Publisher: Dharma Books Budapest Printing: TEXT printing house, Budapest, Hungary

Dedicated to my daughter Tina for her 11th birthday

CONTENTS

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

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TO THE READER

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introduction

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SANATHANA DHARMA – THE ETERNAL LAW

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CONCEPTS OF KARMA AND REINCARNATION

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KARMA MANAGEMENT

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SAMSARA (Reincarnation)

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YOGA

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GOD OR GODS?

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CHRIST AND KRISHNA

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THE ROUTES OF KNOWLEDGE

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SCIENTIFIC ASPECTS OF VEDA

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CASTE SYSTEM IN HINDUISM

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A CALL TO BE VEDIC AMBASSADORS

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BEING A VEDIC AMBASSADOR

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BIBLIOGRAPHY/ RECOMANDED READING

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Aum or Om

a small book on Hinduism by Jura Nanuk

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

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Although I am signed as the author of this book, there were many people who contributed to it and without whom this book would have never been realized. Some of them contributed to it knowingly, some unknowingly, but to all of them I wish to express my deepest gratitude.

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Without meeting Mrs. Madhumita Hazarika Bhagat, First Secretary of Indian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, and having a conversation about religions over a cup of real Indian tea, my interest in Hinduism would heve never grow enough to seriously embrace on a research of this oldest religious philosophy on this planet.

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I am deeply gratefull to His Excelency G. S. Gupta, Indian Ambassador to Hungary, for his help and support in carrying this project.

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In moments when some karmic storms were seriously rocking my boat, Mr. Velimir Subert, Adventist Pastor and Secretary of Croatian Association for Religious Liberty, whom I have honor to call him

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a friend, presented me a copy of his personal Bible in the moment when I really needed it.

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A beautiful book titled What is Hinduism, published by Kauai’s Hindu Monastery gave me basic understanding of Sanathana Dharma and encouraged me to share my enthusisam with others. If you have a question about Hinduism which this book doesn’t answer, the question doesn’t exist. I sincerely recomand this book to everybody who wishes to deepen his or her understanding of this eternal religion. I am deeply grateful to its publisher for permission to use their illustrations.

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Last but now least, I am grateful to Lord Ganesha, The Remover of Obstacles, for help in overcoming all bariers in producing this book.

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Om Gam Ganapaye Namaha Jura Nanuk, author

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a small book on Hinduism by Jura Nanuk

a small book on Hinduism by Jura Nanuk

TO THE READER This humble volume you are holding in your hands is not attempting to offer you complete understanding of Hinduism, but rather to inspire you to research this vital religious philosophy for yourself and thus deepen your understanding of religions in general. Look for a book about Hinduism in your local library or in a book store near you. Type the word “Hinduism” in Yahoo” or Google search, check Wikipedia website. Find out if there is Hindu temple in your city and visit it. And I wish you this small book to be your first step into spiritual journey of discovering eternal truths of eternal wisdom of Vedic philosophy.

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INTRODUCTION Whether we like it or not, we do live in society which is less and less religious. The idea that one should “do good” was somehow replaced by “feel good”. In the lives of many people in the Western World today religion is brought down to mere ceremonial level – eating the right food for the right holidays – and ceased to be a guide in running our daily affairs. Moral foundations on which society was built are regarded as old fashioned and outdated. What was once considered a virtue, today is sometimes regarded as ridiculous, even wired. A bride who would today lose her virginity on her wedding night would be a subject of ridicule by her peers in many Western countries in the same way how, just a century ago, an unmarried girl who is not a virgin would be treated. In the Western world societies which are still sticking to their traditional values are regarded as “primitive”.

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Institution which was for thousands of years considered to be a basic building block of society – family – is less and less stable. Sexually liberal Sweden and USA have fifty times higher divorce rate than traditional India. And then some in the dare to say India is primitive and the West is progressive and advanced? What is so progressive about having tens of millions of broken families? It might be that we need religions to give us guidance in running our daily lives after all. Skeptics might argue that religions bear guilt for millions of lives lost in wars fought in the name of this or that God. But what would our world look like without religions? Chances are our history would be much bloodier and darker without hope and guidance religions were providing us since time immemorial. Having obvious power to influence our culture and our lives, learning more about religions and their origins might benefit us all.

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SANATANA DHARMA – THE ETERNAL LAW Hinduism is Vedic religious philosophy whose correct name is Sanatana Dharma, meaning Eternal Law or Eternal Knowledge. It represents the oldest living religion whose beginnings reach in some unknown point in the distant past. It is hard to correctly state the age of Vedas, on which Hinduism is based, as they were carried in oral tradition from generation to generation for thousands of years. They were written down between 3.500 and 4.000 years ago. According to Veda themselves they are trillions of years old and they existed from the beginning of time. It is said they were originally a pure spiritual vibration which existed before the creation of material universe. It can be speculated that some parts of Vedas were changed intentionally or unintentionally during the period of their verbal existence, and having them written down earlier might have given us better insight in what they originally were. It can also be assumed that some parts of this extremely valuable cultural heritage of

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the world were lost forever. But even in this possibly somewhat imperfect shape available to us today Vedas do not stop to surprise anybody who embarks on studying them. According to Max Müller, German philologist and Orientalist, the first translator of Rig Veda and one of the founders of the modern academic subjects of Indian studies and Comparative religions, Vedic culture and its knowledge is 8.000 - 9.000 years old. He noted in his works that “in the Rig-veda we shall have before us more real antiquity than in all the inscriptions of Egypt or Ninevah. The Veda is the oldest book in existence… The Veda fills a gap which no literary work in any other language could fill. It carries us back to times of which we have no records anywhere.” In his book The History of British India, Edward Thornton observed, “… when Greece and Italy, these cradles of modern civilization, housed only the tenants of the wilderness, India was the seat of wealth and grandeur.”

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None of the religions which go back some 5.000 years are still around. While great civilizations of ancient Egypt, the empires of Inca, Maya and Aztecs, are all gone, leaving us only their ruins to figure out what their real cultures were like, Hinduism is still alive and well and represents the third biggest religion in the world today. Its scriptures, customs, ceremonies and wisdom are still widely available to anybody who reaches for it. Although some say that Hinduism is still alive due to its adaptability and lack of one central authority which resulted in the lack of rigidity, it is more probable that the deep, universal truths it contains made it to endure all foreign influences and withstand the challenges of new times. Many agree that Hinduism is not only religion but a way of life that person can accept and follow regarding of his background and without the need to leave the religion in which he or she was raised. Author of many respected books on Hinduism and Vedic

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philosophy, Stephen Knapp, said that Hinduism is “a code of conduct which values peace and happiness and justice for all. Thus, it is a path open for all who want to be learn how be happy with simple living and high thinking, while engaged in proper conduct, a moral life, and selfless service to humanity and God.” The reason why Hinduism at first sight might seem hard to grasp probably lies in its diversity. As the Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, the founder of the magazine Hinduism Today, said “Hinduism is not a monolithic tradition. There isn’t a one Hindu opinion on things. And there is no single spiritual authority to define matters for the faith. There are several different denominations, the four largest being Vaishnavism, Saivism, Shaktism and Smartism. Further, there are numberless schools of thought expressed in tens of thousands of guru lineages. In a very real sense, this grand tradition can be defined and understood as ten thousand faiths gathered in harmony under a single umbrella called Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma.”

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CONCEPTS OF KARMA AND REINCARNATION The word “reincarnation” is composed of three Latin words – re again, in - in, and caro - meat. Its literal translation would mean “to enter the flesh again”. Since we are talking here about Vedas and Hinduism we should use original Sanskrit name for this concept which is Samsara. Samsara literally means “continuous flow”. Karma is a simple sanskrit word meaning “act” or “deed”. It represents the law of cause and effect by which each person creates his own destiny based on his thoughts, words and deeds. The path that the spiritual being (or soul or spirit, or whatever one likes to call it) in the next lifetime is shaped by our deeds in the past. Just those two Vedic concepts alone, Karma and Samsara, represent invaluable contribution to philosophy and religions on this planet. Similar concepts can be found in almost every religion known today. Most religions acknowledge the idea that the death is just the end of the life for the body. Although Christianity is usually considered

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very different and distant from Hinduism, the idea that after death one’s soul will suffer in hell or be blessed in heaven according to ones deeds in life, is nothing else but the form of Vedic concept of cause of effect – Karma. The concept of Karma is often misunderstood or oversimplified in the Western world. It is not something fatalistic, something that person must accept and cannot change or influence. Karma is not “submission to fate” which would actually be just another type of apathy, or as it is often called in this modern times – depression – a state in which one is withdrawing himself from life and action. Karma is positive, civilizing concept that teaches one the need to be responsible for ones acts. Karma is another way of saying “Hey, you cannot go around hurting people without ending up being hurt yourself”. One can, and one actually does, form and influence and change his Karma every day by his deeds, whether good or bed. Karma is actually a universal, divine justice system far above and much more perfect than any justice system created by man since

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the beginning of civilization. While the legal system of the country just penalizes misdeeds, Karma is penalizing misdeeds but at the same time it also rearwards good deeds. While one might escape being caught and thus avoid the legal penalty for the misdeeds he committed, he cannot escape the Karma he created.

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KARMA MANAGEMENT Although this humble book was intended to provide some basic understanding of Hinduism while attempting to be objective and impartial, I decided to include here few practical advices for those who might wish to influence, in positive way, their karma. Some of the most important principles for effective Karma Management are the following (the full list you can find in excellent book What is Hinduism, published by the Editors of Hindusim Today Magazine): 1. Abstain from retaliation 2. Accept responsibility 3. Forgive the offender 4. Consider the consequences 5. Create no negative karma 1. Abstain from retaliation. If one does something bad to you, it is natural to feel an impulse to do something bad to that person. While

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it might be a natural impulse, one can decide not to fight back and as this would just perpetuate the creation of new negative karma. “An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind”, said Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader who defeated powerful British Empire with application of Vedic principle of Ahimsa nonviolence. A nice example to follow. Mahatma Gandhi (Sanskrit: Mahatma – Great Soul) won an independence from British rule and freed India from colonialism by strictly adhering to non-violent methods. Not fighting back is not an act of cowardice. Quite the contrary, it is a heroic thing indeed. “Non-violence is the weapon of the strong”, said Mahatma. If you don’t believe it, try it yourself and you will see it is not easy. As I mentioned above one of the most contradictory statement from the Bible, “An eye for an eye”, I feel urged to remind on the wise words that Jesus Christ spoke in the Sermon on the Mount preaching nonviolence to his followers: “But I tell you who hear me:

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Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” Great advice, from a Great Master, fully aligned with the Vedic knowledge. To follow it, is a saintly thing to do. 2. Accept responsibility. Hinduism teaches that we are responsible for all things happening to us, those good ones as well as the bad ones. This kind of responsibility is easy to accept when something nice happens to us, but harder to confront when something bad happens. Whether our life is full of pleasure or pain, we have no one else to praise or blame then ourselves. As contemporary Hindu guru Subramuniyaswami, affectionately called Gurudeva by his followers, said: “As long as we externalize the source of our successes and failures, we perpetuate the cycles of karma, good or bad. There is no one out there making it all happen. Our actions, thoughts and attitudes make it all happen. We must accept and bear our karma cheerfully.”

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3. Forgive the offender. Great example of application of this principle is His Holiness Pope John Paul II who forgave to Mehmet Ali Agca who fired several shots at him seriously wounding him in an assassination attempt in 1981. While recovering from life threatening injuries, the Pope asked people to “pray for my brother Agca to whom I have sincerely forgiven”. In 1983 Pope John Paul II met and spoke privately at the Italian prison where Agca was being held. While Agca was serving a life sentence in jail, Pope visited his mother in 1987 and his brother ten years later. When Pope died in 2005, Agca’s brother Adnan gave an interview in which he said that Mehmet Ali and their whole family is grieving and that Pope was a great friend to them. Some question the Catholic belief that the Pope is a Holly Man. I believe that man should be judged based on his deeds. The conduct described above speaks for itself. 4. Consider the consequences. In short, think before you act. Don’t simply react to things, but take time to consider the repercussions of all actions before you take them.

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5. Create no negative karma. Now when you have basic understanding of what Karma is and how to manage it, the rest comes naturally – you can simply decide not to create negative karma. Great Indian Swami Vivekananda, who brought Hinduism to America preached about the great law of Karma. He said: “Any word, any action, any thought that produces an effect is called karma. Thus, the law of karma means the law of causation, of inevitable cause and effect. Whatever we see or feel or do, whatever action there is anywhere in the universe, while being the effect of past work on the one hand, becomes on the other, the cause in its turn and produces its own effect. Each one of us is the effect of an infinite past. The child is introduced into the world not as something flashing from the hands of nature, as poets delight so much to portray it, but he has the burden of an infinite past. For good or evil, he comes to work out his own past deeds…This is the law of karma. Each one of us is the maker of his own fate.”

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SAMSARA (Reincarnation) Hindus believe the self or soul – Atman – repeatedly takes on a physical body. Atman is a Sanskrit word used in Hindu philosophy to identify the soul. It is one’s true self, the observer being. In the sacred Hindu scriptures, Baghwad Gita, (Sanskrit for “Song of God”) Lord Krishna states: “Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A fully aware person is not confused by such a change” and, “Worn-out garments are shed by the body; Wornout bodies are shed by the dweller within the body. New bodies are donned by the dweller, like garments.” Surprisingly high percentage of Europeans believes in Samsara, or reincarnation as it is called in the West. According to the European Values Survey initiated by Prof. J. Kerkhofs at the University of

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Louvain in Belgium, reincarnation is belief commonly held by 22% of Europeans. In Russia one third of population believe in it. Highest percentage was recorded in Lithuania (44%) and Iceland (41%) and the least likely to believe in reincarnation are people living on the territory of ex-East Germany (12%). This low percentage of belief in reincarnation in East Germany might be ascribed to the fact that it was in the territory of East Germany that prof. Wielhel Wundt, founder of modern psychology, arrogantly concluded that since the existence of the soul cannot be proven in laboratory, it probably doesn’t exist. Thus Wundt created a paradox of a kind turning a psychology which originally meant a “study of the soul”, into a “study of the soul that negates the existence of the soul”. Carl Sagan, famous American astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist, once asked His Holiness Dalai Lama what would he do if a fundamental tenet of his religion (reincarnation) would be definitively disproved by science. The Dalai Lama answered:

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“If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation... but it’s going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation.” Hinduism teaches that spiritual being can reincarnate in any of the 8.4 million life forms, right from an amoeba up to human being or can spend indefinite periods of time without a body. Being born as human is a privilege as one can then work or resolving his karma through spiritual practice, called Sadhana (Sanskrit for “a means for accomplishing some goal”). Goal of the Vedic process is attainment of Moksha – liberation of all past karma accumulated in past lifetimes. Attaining it one is freed from Samsara, the endless cycle of births and rebirths. Sanskrit word Moksha literally means “release”. The means for attaining Moksha is Yoga which brings us to the next chapter.

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YOGA As Hinduism is rich in diversity it comes as natural that it will offer more ways to achieve its goal. Those four ways for attaining the ultimate goal are Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga. Four main types of Yoga are designed to suit different temperaments or attitudes toward life. The Sanskrit word Yoga has many meanings. The root of the word is “yuj,” meaning “to control,” “to unite.” Its translations include “joining,” “uniting,” “union,” “conjunction,” and “means.” It is said that all four types of Yoga lead ultimately to the same destination - freedom from endless cycle of birth and rebirth, to union with Brahman or God. It is necessary to mention that by Yoga we don’t mean the “Yoga classes” or certain Yoga exercises that are promoted in woman’s magazines. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong about practicing such kind of Yoga. Those exercises can definitely make your spine and joints more flexible, keep you physically in good shape, but this alone will not bring you much closer to the ultimate

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goal. Those exercises are called Asanas (Sanskrit asana – posture) and they are one part of Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation and uses physical asanas and breathing control. Parts of Raja Yoga which are commonly offered in Yoga classes in the West are Hatha, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram Yoga and the various forms of meditation. Since it is known that for clear mind, the body should also be in a good shape, or as Romans would say “Mens sana in corpore sano” (A healthy mind in a healthy body), this meditative type of Yoga contains Asanas for the purpose of making the body fit enough so that person could experience the full gains of meditation. Karma Yoga is the path of action, hard work and selfless service to others and focusing on honesty in everyday action. It could take many forms and be practiced in many ways. The selfless work of volunteers who are donating their time and effort to help people in

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disasters or protect the wildlife or the environment or any other valid cause are practicing Karma Yoga. World famous example of such type of selfless service is Mother Theresa (1910 – 1997), a catholic nun of Albanian origin and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India in 1950. For over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980 for her humanitarian work. At the time of her death it was operating 610 missions in 123 countries, including homes for people with AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, public kitchens, orphanages, and schools. Talking about selfless service, a quote from L. Ron Hubbard, American philosopher, writer and humanitarian, comes to my mind: “A being is only as valuable as he can serve others.”

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Jnana Yoga is the intellectual path, the path of knowledge, wisdom and contemplation. It involves deep exploration of the nature of our being and the use of our minds for achieving the higher states of consciousness. Jnana Yoga praises self-control, self-discipline and stability of mind. I am sure you can find many examples of this Yogic path. The one whom I would like to mention here as an example is Professor Stephen Hawking, British theoretical physicist and cosmologist, lifetime member of Pontifical Academy of Sciences (scientific academy of Vatican) and Honorary Fellow of Royal Society of Arts. While being physically disabled and almost completely paralyzed, professor Hawking is of truly brilliant mind. His scientific books and public lectures made him an academic celebrity. His cosmological research of the beginning of the Universe is on the edge between scientific and religious study. And if you ever heard that the universe is expanding but don’t know why is that said or what is the proof of it, I invite you to visit website of professor Hawking and read the

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transcripts of his public lectures. It helped me to really understand, for the first time in my life, the scientific evidence that universe does have a beginning. It is a very logical explanation which I fully accepted and felt richer for possessing such a piece of knowledge. I will not here go into explaining the theory of the expansion of the universe, but will share with you the answer of professor Hawking on the question if he believes in God. Hawking writes “One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could still believe that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang. But it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when He might have carried out his job.� Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God. All actions are done in the context of remembering

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and celebrating the Divine. Ministers of all religions are practicing this path regardless of the name they use to address the Supreme Being or the Divine. Members of International Society for Krishna Consciousnesses – ISKCON, better known as Hare Krishna movement, founded by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, emphasize the importance of Bhakti Yoga. Members of ISCKON are known by ecstatically chanting their Maha Mantra on the streets and squares of cities around the world. There are many types of mantras in Hinduism. The word “Mantra” literally means “the instrument of thought”. Mantra is a vibration, sound, word or group of words capable of creating a spiritual transformation. Followers of Srila Prabhupada preach total devotion to Lord Krishna, but now we are entering the subject of the next chapter – God or Gods?

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GOD OR GODS? Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Ganesha, Ganapati, Hanuman, are just some of the names of Hindu deities one will encounter shortly after opening any book or website on Hinduism. Thus it is fully justified to ask how many Gods there are in Hinduism. The answer is simple although it might disappoint those who would prefer to have more than one. The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one. The doctrine, one of the most important in the Christian faith, states that God exists as three persons but as one being. Thus, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving. Three, but one, not dissimilar to the Trinity found in Hinduism where it is called Thrimutri (Sanskrit – Three Forms).

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Hindus believe there is only one God who can manifest Himself in many forms. Three principle forms of God in Hinduism are Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Maintainer or Preserver) and Shiva (The Destroyer or Transformer). They together are called Trimurti. Although each of the three forms of God in Hinduism is assigned different roles, each one of them is able to perform any of those functions – creation, preservation, destruction – on his own. Different Hindu denominations worship different form of the Supreme Being. Vaishnavas (Vaishnavism) worship Lord Vishnu, Saivits (Saivism or Shaivism) – Lord Shiva, Shaktas (Shaktism) – Divine Mother, Shakti or Devi in her many forms, while Smarti (Smartism) followers can choose their preferred deity between Ganesha (also called Ganapati), Surya, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Kumara. Elephant-head God called Ganesha, also known as Ganapaty, is one of the best known and most worshiped deities in Hinduism. He is son of Shiva and Godess Parvati, the Divine Mother. Although

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generally known as the Lord of beginnings and Remover of Obstacles, he is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Ganesha is usually shown having only one tusk, as the legend said he used his tusk to write famous Indian epic Mahbaharata. In Hinduism, as well in some other religions as well, God can take a human form to come down from heavens to perform a divine mission or a task as he finds appropriate. Incarnation of God in human form is called Avatar, from Sanskrit word meaning “descent” (as in descent from heavens to Earth). It could be said that in Christianity Jesus Christ was an Avatar of God – God in human form. In Hinduism the God who had most avatars is the Lord Vishnu. His most famous Avatars are Rama and Krishna. Both Jesus and Krishna were Gods borne by mortal woman, but this just a beginning of the story about their similarities. Their lives and teachings have much more in common.

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CHRIST AND KRISHNA The Christmas story about the birth of Jesus Christ is famous all over the world. The gospels are telling us how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem shortly before the birth of Christ. They were poor and suffered many hardships, culminating in having to stay and give birth in a stable. After the birth, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt as the newborn’s life was threatened by the cruel king Herod. Afraid of the prophecy that he will lose his throne to new King of Jews, Herod was desperately trying to kill all newborn male children in the village of Bethlehem. In the case of Krishna, the King in question was not Herod but Kamsa. As legend says, Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, had already been in the dungeon of the tyrannical king Kamsa for several years when Krishna was born. Kamsa was holding them captive because of a prophecy that warned him that thee child of his cousin Devaki would destroy him. Just like Herod, Kamsa, too, committed the crime of infanticide, killing all of Devaki’s children

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as soon as they were born. But all his plans failed because the Lord Vishnu appeared to Devaki and her husband Vasudeva, announcing that he himself would soon be born as Devaki’s eighth child. Vishnu helped Vasudeva in miraculously escaping from jail and bringing newborn Lord Krishna to safety. Similarly, the infant Jesus also had to be saved from the wrath of the cruel emperor Herod, with the only difference that God warned Mary and Joseph by means of an angel, urging them to flee with the child to Egypt. The resemblance of the lives of Christ and Krishna doesn’t end here. Both grew up among simple people and continued to have special bonds to simple folks throughout their lives. Christ recruited his disciples from fishermen while Krishna grew up among cow shepherds. During all of Krishna’s life Radha, a shepherd girl, was to be the woman closest to his heart. Both Christ and Krishna were seen as embodiment of love, peace and understanding; both performed miracles of various kinds.

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The father of the Krishna Consciousness MovementAC Bhaktivedanta Swami Parbhupada once remarked: “When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says, Krsta. Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning attraction. So when we address God as Christ, Krsta, or Krishna we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. Hindus believe that Jesus, like Lord Krishna, is just another avatar of the Divine, who came down to show humanity in the righteous way of life. This is another point where Krishna resembles Christ, a figure who is both “fully human and fully divine.” Krishna and Jesus were both saviors of mankind and avatars of God who have returned to earth at an especially critical time in the lives of their people. They were the incarnates of the Divine Being Himself in human form to teach human beings divine love, divine power, divine wisdom. These two most admired of religious icons also claim to hold the completeness of their religions by themselves.

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At many places in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said about His oneness with God: “I am the way, come to Me. Neither the multitude of gods, nor great sages know my origin, for I am the source of all the gods and great sages.” In the Holy Bible, Jesus also utters the same in the Gospels: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well…” According to New Testament John the Baptist baptized Jesus in Jordan River and it marked a beginning in Jesus Christ’s public ministry. John the Baptist preached a baptism for the forgiveness of sins and in so doing he was preparing the way for the Lord. Baptizing that John the Baptist was performing might have its roots in old Hindu ceremony Khumba Mela. According to Hindu beliefs, submerging one’s body in the water of the Ghanges River have purifying effects on body and spirit. Each year tens of millions of Hindus gather on the banks of Ganges to take part in that holly ceremony.

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Both Christianity and Hinduism attribute miraculous powers to the consecrated water. Besides being used in Christianity in the sacrament of baptizing, the water sanctified by priest, known as Holly Water is used for blessing people, places, objects, as well as for repelling evil and protection from it. Hindus believe that water have spiritually cleansing powers. Small bottles with Ganges water taken during pilgrimage is kept near the pictures or statues of Gods in home altars or in the temples. Ganges water is used in ceremonies and if possible a sip of Ganges water is given to the dying person. Christians are holding their palms together in prayer in the same manner how Hindu perform their traditional gesture Namaste (Sanskrit for “I bow to you�), used both as a greeting and in prayer. The fact that some elements of Christianity might be derived from certain Hindu ceremonies, customs and legends does not necessarily undermine the value of Christianity and the hope of salvation it

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offered to many. The Rigveda says “The truth is One, but sages call it by different Names�.

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In reality, the parallels in the lives of these two great masters and their message probably stem from the fact that both of them were embodiments of great spiritual, universal truths contained in Veda. THE ROUTES OF KNOWLEDGE Watching the world from our 21st century perspective with intercontinental flights and bullet speed trains, we sometimes forget that people were traveling thousands of years before those inventions. Horse is strong and enduring animal and on its back it is possible to travel many miles a day. We all know of Marco Polo and his travels to India and China in 13th century. But Marco Polo was not the only one traveling so far. There were many other merchants from Europe doing the same – traveling far and wide to bring silk and spices from India and Far East. We know about Marco Polo because he was writer and he was writing books about his travels, and not because he was the only one traveling in those times.

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Through the same routes that silk and spices were traveling, knowledge, myths and legends traveled as well. And it went both ways. Not only Europeans were traveling, there were people traveling from the Orient to Europe. In 14th century Ibn Batuta, a Moroccan Berber Islamic scholar and traveler wrote about his journeys to different parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. Ibn Batuta also wrote about his travels and excursions and published his accounts of faraway countries he saw. Again, the same as in the case of Marco Polo, we know today about Ibn Batuta not because he was the only one, but because he was a writer so he left a written record of his journeys. Between Europe and Asia the exchange of knowledge and customs was greater than one might expect. Today cultures influence one another and so they did for thousands of years. Being aware that ancient people were traveling to far places makes the link between Christianity and Hinduism more clear. Keeping this in mind, it does not look so impossible that baptizing people by

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submerging them in the river Jordan and the Hindus Khumba Mela ceremony performed at the banks of Ganges might have the same origin, or that the Rosary prayer beads used by some Christian denominations were inspired by the Hindu prayer beads called Japa Mala. A NOTE ON BUDDHISM Both Hinduism and Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent and share a very long, relationship, which might be compared to that of Judaism and Christianity. In the same way how Jesus was born and raised as Jew, Buddha was born and raised as Hindu. In the case of Jesus it were the old people, the Jews, who didn’t understand his teachings, while in the case of Buddhism it were the new followers who didn’t understand that Buddha came to fulfill the teachings of Vedas. Many Hindus regarded Buddha as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, while Buddhists didn’t accept any Hindu deity either as superior or equal to Buddha.

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The main goal of both Hinduism and Buddhism is basically the same – attaining higher state of existence in which one is free from endless cycle of births and rebirths. This state is called Moksha in Hinduism and Nirvana in Buddhism. SCIENTIFIC ASPECTS OF VEDA First Western studies of Vedas were carried out by scholars who came to India as part of administrative machinery of the British empire. They wished to control and convert the followers of Vedic Culture, therefore they widely propagated that the Vedas were simply mythology. Max Muller, perhaps the most well known early sanskritist and indologist, although later in life he recognized the value of Vedas, initially wrote that the “Vedas were worse than savage” and “India must be conquered again by education... it’s religion is doomed”.

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Thomas Macaulay, who introduced English education into India wanted to make the residents into a race that was: “Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.” However, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer stated that the Sanskrit understanding of these Indologists was like that of young schoolboys. These early Indologists intentionally misinterpreted Sanskrit texts to make the Vedas look primitive and tried systematically to make Indians ashamed of their own culture. Thus it is obvious that the actions of early indologists were motivated by a racial bias. Despite their vilification of Vedas as primitive mythology, many of the world’s greatest thinkers admired the Vedas as great repositories of advanced knowledge and high thinking. Arthur Schopenhauer, the famed German philosopher and writer, wrote: “I encounter [in the Vedas] deep, original, lofty thoughts... suffused with a high and holy seriousness.”

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Early American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, read the Vedas daily. Emerson wrote: “I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita”. Henry David Thoreau, literal work contain many thoughts from Vedic philosophy, said: “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita... in comparison with which... our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.” Alfred North Whitehead, British mathematician, logician and philosopher, stated that Vedanta is the most impressive metaphysics the human mind has conceived. Voltaire, the famous French writer and philosopher) stated that “Pythagoras went to the Ganges to learn geometry.” Abraham Seidenberg, author of the authoritative “History of Mathematics,” credits the Sulba Sutras as inspiring all mathematics of the ancient world from Babylonia to Egypt to Greece.

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As Voltaire & Seidenberg have stated, many highly significant mathematical concepts have come from the Vedic culture, such as Pythagoras Theorem or Decimal system. The theorem bearing the name of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras is found in the Shatapatha Brahmana as well as the Sulba Sutra, the Indian mathematical treatise, written centuries before Pythagoras was born. The Decimal system, based on powers of ten, where the remainder is carried over to the next column, first mentioned in the Vedic scripture called Taittiriya Samhita. The Binary number system, essential for computers, was used in Vedic verse meters. The numbers we use today are usually called “Arabic numerals�, but they were just brought to Europe by Arabs, while their origin is in India. Together with the numerals we also inherited from Vedic scientists a symbol for zero as well as the concept of infinity.

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Beside its religious and philosophical aspects, Vedas contain many descriptions of advanced technology unknown to exist in ancient times. Julius Robert Oppenheimer, the principle developer of the atomic bomb, said that “The Vedas are the greatest privilege of this century”. During the test explosion of the first atomic bomb in New Mexico desert in July 1945, Oppenheimer quoted several Bhagavad Gita verses from the 11th chapter, such as: “Death I am, cause of destruction of the worlds...”. When Oppenheimer was asked if this is the first nuclear explosion, he significantly replied: “Yes, in modern times,” implying that ancient nuclear explosions may have previously occurred. Bhagavad Gita, to which Oppenheimer was referring to, is a part of a Indian epic Mahabharata, composed by sage. According to a legend Vyasa was incarnated Lord Vishnu and he asked Lord Ganesha to

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write down the recitation of Mahabharata. Lord Ganesha agreed under the condition that Vyasa never makes a pause in his recitation. Vyasa agreed, provided Ganesha took the time to understand what was said before writing it down. Mahabharata describes a mighty weapon whose explosion was “shinier than ten thousand suns” which “turned to dust two cities”. Until we started to experiment with radioactive substances, no person on earth could have described radiation sickness, for the simple reason that such a disease did not exist. But ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, gives very precise description the atomic explosion and describes in detail the radiation illness. “An iron thunderbolt contained the power of the universe” are the words by which a terrifying weapon was described in Mahabharata. “A column of smoke and flame, intensely glowing white withy heat,

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as bright as ten thousand suns, rose in its entire splendor. Clouds roared upward. Blood-colored clouds swept down onto the earth. Fierce winds began to blow. Elephant’s miles away were knocked off their feet. Never before have we seen such an awful weapon, and never before have we heard of such a weapon.” In further text Mahabharata says “Asses were born of cows, and elephants of mules. Cats were born of bitches, and mouse of the mongoose”. Perhaps, this could have been an indication of genetic disorders created through exposure to high level of nuclear radiation. “The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. Their hair and nails fell out” are very correct description of a symptoms of radiation disease. The King ordered that the “poisonous dust” that fell from the sky after the explosion, be washed out by water into the see. Today’s science knows that water is the best way for removal of

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radioactive dust particles. For example, all the vehicles coming out of Chernobyl area, a highly radioactive area due to disaster at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the 1980’s, are still being hosed, upon returning from that area, with water to remove the radioactive dust. It seems that this fact was well known to creators of Mahabharata whom ever they were. Mahabharata describes how survived soldiers from Kurukshtera war were washing themselves in the river after the battle. Were they trying to remove radioactive particles from their bodies? Could this be the reason for the Khumba Mela, ceremonial bath in the holly river Ganges? Although this whole story might sound more as science-fiction than religion, there are even archeological discoveries confirming that the event described in Mahabharata was an actual atomic explosion.

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Mohenjo Daro was a city in Indus river valley that flourished some 5.000 years ago. The site was discovered in 1920 on the territory of today’s Pakistan. Archeologists working on the site found parts of thick city walls turned into glass. The only thing that can produce heat high enough to turn a brick wall into glass is an atomic explosion. Despite rich archeological discoveries in Mohenjo Daro, excavations in the area were stopped in early 1970 as it was found out that the whole site is highly radioactive. India, from times immemorial knew the existence of atoms and the atomic energy. In Upanishad Vedic scriptures there is an evidence to the statement: “Smaller than the smallest life, larger than the infinite Vast�, indicates that the greatest of the great is hidden in the smallest of the small which is the basis of the atomic energy.

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CASTE SYSTEM IN HINDUISM There is a sort of taboo topic in Hinduism – caste system. Some people refer to it as something inhuman, calling it “India’s hidden apartheid”. In India the caste system officially does not exist, and Indian Constitution bans discrimination based on caste. But still in everyday life, especially in rural area, caste system is still alive. According to the caste system, there are four main castes: Brahmins (poets, clergy), Kshatriyas (nobility, warriors), Vaishyas (agriculturists, artisans and merchants) Shudras (laborers, serfs). Caste system is based on Vedic scriptures not as a discriminatory practice but as a division of society into specific functions. According to the oldest Vedic text, the Rig Veda, each class represented a body part. The Brahmans were to signify spiritual and intellectual values and were the head of society, Kshatryas – the warrior class – were arms for the defence, Vaishyas – farmers and

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merchants – were producing the food for society so they were its belly, and the Shudras – laborers, serfs – were the legs on which society was standing. Each of the classes had its role vital for the functioning of the society. Similar division exists in the West as well – some people are artists, some intellectuals, some are merchants, some manual laborers, etc. One cannot say in West all are equal, as they are obviously not – not everybody in USA or Europe have a big house with swimming pool, not everybody can buy BMW or Mercedes. They are performing different jobs and have different income and they obviously belong to different social classes. The difference is that in India separation between social groups (caste) is more rigid than in the West where it is very fashionable to preach some sort of egalitarianism – all people are equal. Although this might be considered as a noble idea, it is unfortunately not true. Some people are smarter, some people are stronger, some have IQ 75 and some have IQ 150. Some are born in rich families; some are

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born in poor families. Those born in rich families have much bigger chance of getting better education and better jobs and making more money. Even the Human Right No. 1 of International Declaration on Human Rights, does not say that all people are equal, as this is obviously not the case. It says “all people are born with equal rights”, but it does not say “all are born equal”. As it is obvious that division in the social classes is present in every society existing today, it is a question why people are so much fixed on saying caste system in India is unjust. What I consider very inhuman is Western idea that anybody can be Rockefellers or movie stars. Measure of success in life and carrier are viewed as amount of money one has on his bank account. Even the laborer who performs simple manual work is looking at the car of his boss hoping to have such one day. Or a low paid gardener is wishing to live in a house in whose garden he is working. But they

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never will. And they will be frustrated their whole life by seeing in latter life that they never reached their goals – to drive Porsche or to have house with swimming pool. Truth is that there are hundreds of millions of people in the West frustrated as their society is imposing on them, through the marketing agencies and media, the material goals as the only way to measure success and happiness in life. This is how the Western society lives. Western people and Western civilization have its own values. Weather it makes them more happy or not it is their problem. They have the right to establish whatever system they like. It is called democracy. It would also be nice that this same West, bragging about how democratic and tolerant it is, would allow the same right to other people and stop imposing their values on others. In India, people in some caste know their place in society. They are very aware of their limitations and their freedoms. They know that

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if they will do a good job this time they will have better life next lifetime. If they want to be happy they just need to perform the duty given to them by their caste or Karma and they will advance in their next life. They are aware of their position in society and know their limitations. They are also aware that they are spiritual beings and that they will be born again and again and again. They are also aware that there is more to life than amassing material wealth. You can be the richest person in the world but you will not be able to take your wealth to next life. Last people who tried to do that were Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. They were being buried with enormous wealth which didn’t help them much in “afterlife”. They were born again – whether as kings or servants depends on how they were conducting their affairs as Pharaohs. To all those complaining about caste system in India, I have a question: Why do you think that Western society is better or more humane?

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A CALL TO BE VEDIC AMBASSADORS by Stephen Knapp Now is the time when there is a growing need for what could be called Vedic Ambassadors, those who can represent and show the benefits of what the Vedic culture has to offer. In this age, when there is a concern for preserving, protecting, and disseminating Vedic culture and its vast knowledge on all aspects of life, there is a great need for those who follow Sanatana-dharma or Hinduism to be Vedic Ambassadors, or those who can fairly and accurately represent the Dharma. As we see society entering various states of confusion and anxiety over the circumstances that are happening

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all around the planet, the need for deeper spiritual understanding is obvious. Thus, there is a calling for Vedic Ambassadors who can assist in this way. But how can we be Vedic Ambassadors? What are the requirements? To be a Vedic Ambassador is very easy. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to be one. First of all, to be an Ambassador of Vedic culture, one must know the culture and realize how dynamic it remains in its ability to assist humanity. Therefore, one must be educated in understanding what it is and the reasons for the different avenues of study it contains, such as in Ayurveda, Jyotish (Vedic astrology), Vastu (the means of arranging the space of one’s home or office), the Vedic rituals and histories, and especially yoga and sadhana or spiritual practice and philosophy. There are a growing number of people in the West who are especially curious on the ways of making more personal spiritual development, and they often look to the Eastern philosophy for assistance. Thus, if you practice Hinduism or an aspect of Vedic culture, then as a Vedic Ambassador you should also be educated enough to assist others

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with proper advice when the opportunity arises. You should be able to explain what Vedic culture is and how it is a universal truth that anyone can utilize, and at least a little about what that truth contains. This leads to the next point on being a Vedic Ambassador. An Ambassador for Vedic culture is also one who can show others how he or she has benefited from Vedic culture, and what it has done for him or her. All it takes is to share from your own personal experience any of the ways that Vedic culture has improved or made a difference in your own life, both materially or spiritually. Everyone likes a story, so tell your story of how you started following the Vedic tradition and some of your experiences along the way. This means to show how the Vedic wisdom has assisted you in your search for truth, search or connection with God, in finding your spiritual identity, or to see the spiritual similarities we share with all other beings. Or how Vedic culture has helped you in finding where you fit into this universe and what is the aim of life. Or how it has helped improve your moral standards and view of compassion for others. These are just a few of the ways we can share the means

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by which following Vedic culture has improved our existence or made a difference in our approach to life. It does not take much to personally share with those we may meet these aspects of what Vedic knowledge has done for us. The next step in being an Ambassador of Vedic culture is that you should also assist those who are sincerely interested and want to further their investigation of the Dharma. There will naturally be some who will want to investigate Vedic culture for themselves, especially after being impressed or convinced by what you have shared with them about it. So, you should be able to share the Dharma with them and empower them to begin following it. This may include various ways of directing them so they can further their own education about it or begin their own practice of it. This may be nothing more than suggesting various books they may find useful or beneficial for them to read, or which web sites may be good to visit. Or you may include instructions on how they can find a temple so they can start understanding the temple practice of Vedic sadhana. Or how to begin their study of basic Vedic scriptures so they can increase their understanding of what it has to offer and

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how to apply it in their lives. Thus, they become empowered to continue their own practice of it in a natural way. The next step in being a Vedic Ambassador is to work together with other Dharmic friends who share the same concern for protecting and sharing the Dharma. This means to encourage others in their own practice and understanding of the Dharmic culture, or even to accept the idea of being a Vedic Ambassador. Then work together to develop a network in which everyone shares with others a greater understanding of what is actually Vedic culture and what it can do for society. This does not mean that it becomes a plan for converting those who may not be interested, but it is to assist society in the same way that Vedic culture has always tried to guide humanity for a better and improved understanding of life. This is also the way to help establish an ideal global Dharmic family who share mutual respect for all.

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BEING A VEDIC AMBASSADOR In this way, there is a need for what I call Vedic Ambassadors. This is similar to the term Intellectual Kshatriyas, meaning those who are strong enough to stand up for Vedic Dharma. Thus, in summary: 1) As Vedic Ambassadors we should be educated in our culture, 2) We show and share with others how it has improved our own lives, 3) We do not proselytize, but we are ready and willing to open our doors to all community members to let them see what we have and even how they may also participate, 4) Network with other Dharmists in these matters to devise plans to further this work to protect and preserve the Dharma and disseminate its benefits throughout society,

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5) Defend ourselves against the ignorance or simple misunderstanding of others, 6) Be pro-active both politically and socially. There are already organizations that are working in such ways in which we can participate. 7) We must also support our own community and its causes, and those programs that support and defend our culture. After all, we are here to pool our resources and channel them in a way for the upliftment of all people as well as for the protection of our own culture, Vedic Dharma. 8) We need to show the universal nature of the Vedic Dharma and how it is based on universal spiritual truths that are applicable to anyone from any background. It is such a dynamic culture that it is not only for a few Hindus, but for the spiritual progress of all humanity.

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Therefore, with the help of such simple yet bold Vedic Ambassadors working together, the culture will not only remain strong but will increase in its influence and the ways it can provide assistance to all humanity, which was the reason why it was originally given to society by the Supreme and passed along by the great Vedic rishis and seers. By engaging ourselves in this way, we also enter the line of great rishis by doing our part in assisting their endeavor to pass along this knowledge and culture for the benefit of everyone. We are a part of the hope for the future. We should have confidence in what we can do because history has shown that we have already made a difference. In this way, if we all become Vedic Ambassadors, then you will see a great coalition that brings a bright future wherein people respect all beings and all religions. You will see a freedom for all individuals to develop according to the spiritual level most suitable for him or her. At that time, we will see a spiritual and cultural freedom like we have never known before.

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Then the universal spiritual truths as found and presented in the Vedic tradition will gain respect and be accepted by many more millions of people across the planet. This could certainly change the course of history and begin to manifest the spiritual dimension in this world.

Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa) is reknown author of numerous valuable books about Vedic knowledge. More about him and his works you can find on www.stephen-knapp.com

BIBLIOGRAPHY recomanded rading, interesting links What is Hinduism? by Editors of Hinduism Today Magzine www.himalayanacademy.com Hinuism Today Magzine

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info Phoenix Lectures by L. Ron Hubbard available from www.newerapublications.com The Power of the Dharma by Stephen Knapp www.stephen-knapp.com The Secret Teachings of the Vedas by Stephen Knapp www.stephen-knapp.com

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The Essentials of Hinduism by Swami Bhaskarananda available from www.amazon.com Complete Vedic texts www.sacred-texts.com Scientific Verification of Vedic Knowledge by Swami Visnu www.archaeologyonline.net Essays on Hinduism by Martin Bohn www.suite101.com Hinduism Today Magazine www.hinduismtoday.com Essays on Hinduism by Sungamoy Das www.hinduism.about.com Vedanta Cultural Foundation www.vedantaworld.org Facebook group Vedic Ambassadors

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jura Nanuk is photographer, Vedic Ambassador and Universal Religious Philosopher who lives and works in Budapest, Hungary. If you wish to contact Jura you are welcome to write to jnanuk@ontheglobe.com

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