January - March 2008 - Yugaabd 5109
Home2Rome Banger Rally
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Editorial Published tri-monthly by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK). For any contributions, comments and correspondence please write to: Sangh Sandesh, 46-48 Loughborough Road, Leicester, LE4 5LD, UK email: email@example.com website: www.hssuk.org For private circulation only. Editorial team: Raveendra Surange, Poonam Mistry, Gaurav Prinja and Harshita Deolia Design: Amit Patel and Anisha Patel The editors reserve the right to edit the material submitted for publication. The opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of HSS (UK).
News from around the world
Namaste! As we head into the new year you’ll notice we’ve made a few exciting changes to Sangh Sandesh. In this issue you can expect most of our regular sections but we’ve also introduced a new feature – Chintan. This is your opportunity as our readers to send us your thoughts on things you’d like to discuss – from current affairs to movies, health, religion, sport, well… just about anything! As always, it’s great to see people sending in photos and reports of what they’ve been doing – not just in their local shakhas but in their spare time too. One small article from you may generate ideas for others, so we look forward to receiving many more contributions in the year ahead. Harshita Deolia
This Issue Contents
January - March 2008
Chintan & Utsav 14
Hindu Vishwa 3
Ekatmata Stotra 18
Mera Anubhav 10
Hindu Genius 2007 Bharatiya Swayamsevak Sangh, Kenya Hindu Genius 2007 was a unique quiz competition organised around the theme of Hindu Dharma. The event aimed to give young Hindu parents the opportunity to learn about their glorious heritage and culture. This has become a necessity today so that they as parents can pass on their cultural roots to their children and the younger generation alike. Karyakartas received around 48 entries for the competition. The quiz was based on the information given in Gyan Sagar, a book produced by BSS, Kenya. It is based upon various topics and is in a question-answer format for easy reading. Six preliminary rounds took place at Deendayal Bhavan in November. Enthusiasm was plentiful; we saw the eagerness to learn not only among the participants but also in the audience. At the end of all preliminaries, 12 couples had qualified for the final round. The chief guest for the preliminaries, Shri Shantibhai Variya, Chairman of Jalaram Satsangh Mandal, was so impressed that he offered the organisation the premises for the final free of charge. He also donated 100 copies of Gyan Sagar to be distributed amongst children. On Sunday 2nd December came the most awaited day since the conception of the idea six months before - the FINAL!
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Participants, organisers and contributors of the Hindu Genius 2007 unique quiz competition
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On the evening of the FINAL more than 700 spectators were enthusiastically rolling in, while the tense finalists were busy revising. The chief guest, Shri Vanraj Sarvaiya, Chairman of Hindu Council of Kenya, accompanied by Shri Muljibhai Pindolia, Chairman of Hindu Council of Africa and our three Sanghchalaks, Shri Chunibhai, Shri Narendrabhai and Shri Navinbhai, lit a diya to begin the event. This was followed by a geet “Hindu Jage To Vishwa Jagega”. The first round consisted of five questions asked to all the couples. The second round was a ‘Quick Fire’ round, where couples were given a minute to answer a maximum of 12 questions. After a great deal of anticipation, the end of the second round saw two couples eliminated from the competition.
"Enthusiasm was plentiful; we saw the eagerness to learn not only among the participants but also in the audience..." The third round was ‘Spin the Wheel’. The wheel covered all the topics in Gyan Sagar. At the end of this round, two more couples were eliminated. Then came the fourth round, the ‘Buzzer’ round, in which 15 questions were asked. This was the most exciting round as the tension was building up. At the end of the evening everyone participated in the Aarti which was followed by dinner. A vote of thanks was given to the Jalaram Temple, the audience, the sponsors who gave donations and whole heartedly supported this programme and to all those whose effort made this event a success. Lastly, today we have made a beginning to understand our heritage and culture- let's continue to learn more and pass on this knowledge to our younger generation.
Scandinavian Shibir 2007 This year’s Scandinavian Shibir was held in Oslo, Norway from 5th – 7th October 2007. The sankhya was 66; 38 sevikas and 28 swayemsevaks, of which three came from Denmark, two from Sweden and myself and Bhavesh Mistry from the UK. The shibir took place in a local mandir and began with Ganesh Puja. 4
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This was my first shibir outside the UK and it was an experience that will always be remembered. It gave me the opportunity to meet active karyakartas in Norway and to interact with other people part of the shibir. The timetable included shareerik activities such as Yogasana, Niyuddh, and Khel which were enjoyed by all. The MahaKhel which combined learning with fun and was based upon scenes from the Ramayan. The bauddhiks were on Hindu Dharma and one of the discussions was based upon the question ‘Who do you think you are?’. Many of those participating spoke very good Hindi and this was a good opportunity for me to improve my Hindi speaking skills. It also made me realise how important it is to learn our national language. Overall, I felt that the shibir was very well organised and full of dedicated karyakartas/karyakartinis all of whom had contributed greatly in their efforts of making the shibir a success.
The shibir group in action at a local mandir in Oslo, Norway. The sankhya was 66; 38 sevikas and 28 swayamsevaks.
Sarasvati Bhanderi (Woolwich)
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UKSamachar News from the UK
Destroying history for economy? In the Ramayana, there is a well-known account of Shri Rama and his army building a bridge between Bharat (India) and Sri Lanka. Although sceptical historians have dismissed this as folklore, satellite pictures clearly show a bridge just under the surface of the sea. This was even noted by Sunitha Williams, a NASA astronaut of Indian origin, who had the opportunity to view the bridge from space. Recently the Government of India has started a project to destroy this bridge. This is to allow ships to pass around India, as they are currently unable to due to the intervening bridge. At present, ships must travel around Sri Lanka and this adds a significant amount of time to their journey. There has been opposition to this project (The Sethusamudram Project) for a number of reasons, including religious sentiments. This was a bridge built by Shri Rama and forms a part of our heritage. Can we destroy this for economic reasons? A campaign has been set up by the bauddhik vibhag to save the Sethusamudram. Contributions have started to trickle in on our blog at: http://savesethusamudram.blogspot.com/
Please do go and have a look, and feel free to leave comments. Yogish Joshi
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An Epic Weekend: Have we found tomorrow’s heroes? In modern society we are so akin to hearing about the disillusionment of youth, the struggles of living between two cultures and young people’s separation from the community at large. From Friday 2nd - Sunday 4th November, the National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF) celebrated their 15th anniversary by hosting an innovative conference: “Dynamic Spirit 2007: A Meeting With Yourself”, held at Imperial College, London. The event was officially launched on Friday evening and began with a small theatrical presentation on the aims and functioning of NHSF, followed by short addresses from Hasmukh Shah, advisor to the NHSF National Committee; Nilesh Solanki, NHSF alumni; Vibhuti Patel, current President of NHSF (UK) and Jeffrey Armstrong, keynote speaker and chief guest of Dynamic Spirit 2007. Saturday focused on interactive activities for our current student members on the theme of ‘unleashing your inner superhero’ - finding your strengths and talents and using them to their full potential. Other sessions were broken down into three sections: ‘Dynamic Personal Spirit’, ‘Dynamic Community Spirit’ and ‘Dynamic Future Spirit’ . These spheres gave space for the delegates to discuss how we use our skills and abilities to contribute to the communities around us and to look at what sort of future we are building for ourselves. Workshop leaders included prominent figures such as Dr Atul Shah from Diverse ethics, Harriet Crabtree from the Inter faith network, Rishi Saha from the Conservative Party to name a few. Saturday evening was host to an inspiring performance by rising composer, producer and musician, Niraj Chag. The performance included a combination of sounds from vocal, guitar, violin and tabla. January - March 2008
The event’s chief guest, Jeffrey Armstrong, a celebrated Vedic scholar, astrologer and author, provided the motivation needed to kick-start the final day of the conference. Also known as Kavindra Rishi, he had flown over from Canada especially for Dynamic Spirit, and we at NHSF were honoured to have his presence at the event. Kavindraji delivered his keynote address to a room packed with an enraptured audience, under the title ‘The Hindu Epic Continues: You Are The New Heroes’. The weekend was rounded off with a Ganesh puja, conducted by London based GP, Dr. Milen Shah. Milenji is involved with the Chinmaya Mission and holds a long-standing relationship with NHSF, being former President of UCL Hindu Society. Milenji pointed out that this was more than just the end of a weekend. Instead it was about marking beginnings: the beginning of the next 15 years of NHSF, the beginning for delegates to use new-found inspiration, and the beginning of a new era for the Hindu samaj as a new generation of dynamic individuals. Vibhuti Patel and Shivani Pala, NHSF (UK) National Committee. To find out more about NHSF (UK), please visit
Diwali Play On November 4th, 2007, Vikram Shakha Hounslow and Balagokulam Hounslow organised a small play to emphasise the Diwali story to all present. The story was narrated by Shri Subodh Thaker and Shri Haresh Vyas, with help from swayamsevaks and sevikas who were dressed up as Ram, Lakshman, Sita, Hanumanji and various other characters. Without re-iterating the story of Diwali, the narration of the play was planned such that it linked the story elements of the Ramayan to ideals that we should aspire towards, proving that bauddhiks with a little more thought and effort put in them have a greater impact on the audience. The play was well received by all present and some parents who do not usually attend shakha came in to see what was going on. This provided a good sampark opportunity which was gladly taken. Rahul Deolia
Shakha Khel Pratiyogita 2007 Yet another sports competition went by without incident! Swayamsevaks from across the country descended upon Loughborough University on Sunday 9th December 2007. In total there were 639 participants from 24 different nagars fiercely contesting against each other in the usual khel: Football, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Ring. Dodgeball, a recent addition to the competition, was also played in vibhaag teams. The 215 different matches which were played on the day ensured that the shikshak team was left just as tired and exhausted as the rest of the participants by the end! The under-11 football competition was won by Warrington nagar. The 12-16 football competition, being held on rubber-crumb pitches for the first time, was won by Leicester nagar. Dodgeball was won by East Vibhag. Kabaddi was played with a lot of passion with Woolwich and Birmingham nagars ultimately reaching the final. Ring, once again, saw Birmingham nagar dominate. Finally in Kho-Kho there was a repeat of last year’s final, this time with the opposite result – Woolwich ultimately triumphing over Finchley nagar. Jayesh Mistry
See the gallery on
Samiti Khel Pratiyogita 2007 Samiti’s first national Khel Pratiyogita at Loughborough University on 9th December 2007, with 160 participants (and 45 supporters) representing 15 towns across the UK, saw the coming together of great skill, energy, determination and sportsmanship. Leicester narrowly beat the ‘Bolton, Manchester, Warrington’ team in Kho Kho; Woolwich emerged victorious against Birmingham in the final of Ring by merely 1 goal; Woolwich again came out on top in Kabaddi against Ashton-under-Lyne, whose Kabaddi team will definitely be one to watch out for next year. This successful day was made even more memorable by the enthusiasm of all who attended and undoubtedly, the competition will be eagerly anticipated in 2008. Poonam Mistry
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Home2Rome Banger Rally On September 21st, 2007 Nayan Mistry, Kedar Shukla, Tejas Mistry and Ashraf Mohamed (aka the Sagdiyev Brothers - named after the Kazakhstani legend Borat Sagdiyev) embarked on the roadtrip of a lifetime. We took part in the Home2Rome banger rally, a 1500 mile, four day drive from Calais in Northern France to Rome the capital of Italy. The catch was that our mode of transport was to be a car bought for no more than £100... they don’t call it a banger rally for nothing. Our motivation was to raise money for Sewa International UK. The challenge started a day before the event as we drove our 1987 Mercedes 190 (198,000 miles on the clock, a little bit of rust, but otherwise a fine example of German engineering) to Dover to catch our ferry to Calais. We registered by the midnight deadline in Calais, signed away our rights to sue the organisers in the event of crashing/dying/hurting ourselves/ ending up in jail etc, and set off on the mammoth journey ahead! Some highlights of our trip include: Day One - A 590 mile, 12-hour slog through much of France on the motorways. We passed Dijon, Lyon and Grenoble at the edge of the Alps. We learnt the lesson that shortcuts aren’t necessarily as short as they would seem on a map. Day Two - A truly incredible drive off the beaten track and onto the mountain passes. The highlight was the Gorge Du Verdon where Jeremy Clarkson raced a mountain climber (unsuccessfully) in an Audi RS4 on Top Gear. Truly stunning views and a real test on the engine and brakes of our Merc which held up well. We decided against Sat Nav and opted for Prat Nav (i.e. us and a map) which worked very well. 10
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Day Three - Out of France and into Italy, where ‘mercis’ became ‘gracias’. We passed Genoa and Brecia on our way to Venice. The organisers had set a challenge to take our spare tyre by boat to the centre of Venice and take a picture with it in the Piazza, St. Marco… in fancy dress as St. Tejas Mistry, Trinians schoolgirl!. Unfortunately we didn’t have costumes, Ashraf Mohamed Nayan Mistry but we did drag the heavy, dirty tyre to the square, which and Kedar Shukla amused passing tourists. Day Four - A massive water pistol fight on the beach with w what you've the sister rally of Home2Rome, Staples2Naples. After much Let us kno been upto: email@example.com saltwater in the eyes we set off for the final day of driving. Heading out to Rome a few rally cars were involved in a crash with a lorry - thankfully no one was hurt but it served a timely reminder of the dangers of driving on foreign roads. The Merc saw us through our journey (despite our best efforts to destroy the engine with land speed record attempts - within
"After 4 days, 1,500 miles, the best views in Europe, one broken pipe, a few quarts of oil and innumerable laughs - we finally made it to Rome." speed limit of course). After 4 days, 1500 miles, the best views in Europe, one broken pipe in the engine, a few quarts of oil and innumerable laughs - we finally made it to Rome. We couldn’t bring the car back so she has been sent to the big garage in the sky at a scrapyard in Rome, but we are forever grateful for the great drive and reliability she gave us. We would highly recommend this sort of rally for any group looking to raise money for Sewa International and for the adventure of a lifetime. We managed to raise £1000 which has been donated to Sewa International’s Asia Floods Appeal. January - March 2008
Story The Big Lion and the Peacock Once upon a time, there lived a big lion in a jungle. Every day he hunted and killed many animals to satisfy his hunger. The animals were worried that one day none of them would be left alive. They all decided to go to the lion and find a solution to this problem. When the lion saw all the animals approaching, he was very happy as he thought that he would not have to take the trouble to hunt. He thought he could just kill all the animals together once and for all. One of the animals stopped him and pleaded that he listen to what they had to say first. He went on to explain that as the lion was King of the jungle, and all the other animals were his subjects, the lion would not be a King at all if he killed all his subjects. He would have no one left to rule over. He suggested that if the lion stayed home, one animal would surrender itself each day as food for the lion. The lion agreed to this offer on the condition that if they ever failed to send him an animal, he would go on a killing spree and finish all of them off. From then on, each day an animal was sent to the lion and this made the lion very pleased. One day it was the turn of a peacock to sacrifice his life to provide food for the lion. This peacock did not want to be the lion's meal. He thought of a plan that would save his life as well as the lives of all the other animals in the jungle. The peacock slowly made his way to the lion's den. The lion was pacing up and down, extremely hungry. He wanted to kill all the animals in a rage. The peacock timidly explained that the animals had actually sent him six peacocks, but five of them were killed and devoured by another lion. 12
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03 04 05
What type of animal needs oil? What animal has two humps and is at the North Pole? What kind of star is dangerous? How do trees get on the Internet? When is the moon heaviest?
Quiz! 01 02
03 04 05
Answers 1. A mouse, because it squeaks! 2. A lost Camel! 3. A shooting star! 4. They log in. 5. When it is full!
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Name the 4 vedas. Each veda is divided into 4 parts. What are they? What are the 7 sacred rivers? Name the 4 ashramas in life. Give the meaning of "asato ma sat gamaya"?
Answers 1. Rig veda, Yajur veda, Sama Veda & Atharva Veda 2. Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka & Upanishad 3. Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu & Kaveri 4. Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha & Sanyasa 5. Lead me from untruth to truth.
The lion roared in anger. He wanted to know who this other lion was who dared to steal his food. The peacock stuttered and said that it was a very big lion. He had warned the other lion not to eat him as his King would be very angry and definitely come to fight him. The peacock went on to say that the other lion had called His Majesty an impostor and had challenged him to prove who was actually the 'King of the Jungle'. The lion was furious. He asked the peacock to take him to the other lion as he wanted to kill him. The little peacock led the lion to a well and told him that the other lion was in there. The lion peered into the well and saw his own reflection. He thought it was the other lion. He let out a huge roar which echoed back at him. He immediately jumped into the well to attack what he thought was the other lion. The lion banged his head against the rocks and drowned. The jubilant peacock returned to al the other animals and spread the good news amongst them.
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The Golden Compass: Anti-God, Anti-Religion or Pro-Dharma? Having been a fan of previous Christmas movies such as The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series, I was pleasantly surprised to see another of my favourite books adapted to the big screen – 'The Golden Compass'. The film is based on Philip Pullman’s book 'Northern Lights', part one of His Dark Materials trilogy. The story follows an orphaned girl called Lyra, living in a parallel universe. In this world every human has their own demon, a talking animal that accompanies them, acting like a guardian angel and representing their spirit or soul. The villains in this story are members of the Magesterium, a secret organisation that aims to rule the world and control people’s minds. It is led by ‘the Authority’, a senile leader symbolising God. During Lyra’s adventures she discovers that the Magesterium has been experimenting on children by separating them from their demons, a horrifying and inhumane procedure. It seems that several religious groups, mainly Christian, have raised concerns about the author’s views towards religion and the deeper meaning behind the books. One such group, The Catholic League for example, has recommended that Christians, particularly those with children, should stay away from the movie. Despite being a watered down version of the book, with many of the controversial themes removed to improve box office ratings, these groups are still concerned that the film will encourage more children to read the books. So what is all the fuss about? Religious groups argue that these books are 14
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a direct attack on religion and that the symbolic reference to children killing God is a subversive attempt to kill God in the minds of children. Pullman himself is a well-known atheist and has never hidden his scepticism about God or his rejection of organised religion. When interviewed about his books, he said, “My books are about killing God” and “trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief”. He does not just single out Christianity. “I don’t profess any religion, I don’t think its possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality’” he said. The release of this film comes at a time when it seems anti-religious sentiment is on the rise. Books such as Richard Dawkins’, 'The God Delusion' and Christopher Hitchens’, 'God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything', push the scientist-atheist view that religion does more harm than good and has no place in a modern world that can be explained more rationally through science and logic. So I find myself left asking several questions. Where do we stand in this debate as Hindus? Should we be concerned with the anti-God sentiment in Pullman’s books and should we add our voice to those discouraging others from seeing the film? Should we be concerned that an increasing number of people are turning away from any form of spiritual belief and are opting for atheism as a more credible alternative? The answer I believe is no. I think that Pullman and the like are against the more dogmatic and fundamentalist interpretations of religion and their aggressive methods of propagation, rather than the more harmonious philosophies contained within Hinduism. If anything, atheism has its place in Hinduism and is probably a far better starting point to show people just how unique, natural and logical Hinduism is. An often forgotten point is that Hinduism is not really an ‘-ism’, or a religion in the traditional January - March 2008
sense at all. Hinduism started out as a set of philosophies contained in books such as the Vedas and Upanishads. Hence we use the term Sanatan Dharma, or â€˜eternal knowledgeâ€™ when describing the true meaning of Hinduism. Dharma has no direct translation into English, resulting in the less than satisfactory term of religion instead. Dharma encapsulates the concept of a set of eternal laws and truths, which if adhered to, lead to the preservation and betterment of life in all its forms throughout the universe. We therefore have no rigid set of rules and no claim to be the one true religion or final word of God. Instead we believe there are many ways to reach God and each man must choose his own path within the bounds of Dharma. This presents a far more tolerant and peaceful approach to spiritual enlightenment. One of the main criticisms levelled at organised religion is that rigid beliefs and dogma have led to great bloodshed and violence in the world - however this has little application to Hinduism as a result of this flexibility.
"How can we as Hindus engage in this debate and promote Sanatan Dharma as an alternative way of life for the betterment of mankind?" The conflict between the discoveries of science and the blind faith required by religion is also criticised. Again Hinduism is an exception, with much of the knowledge contained in the Vedas and Upanishads being deeply rooted in science. Knowledge and the search for truth is given the highest importance and as a result there is a surprising synergy between many scientific discoveries and the laws of Dharma. It would seem that some of the criticisms of the anti-religious lobby have little or no relevance to Hinduism. In fact many of these criticisms seem to point to a desire for a worldview based more on the harmonious concepts of Dharma rather than the draconian oppression of organised religion. All of which makes me wonder whether the likes of Pullman and Dawkins have even considered Hinduism in their attacks against God and religion. And if not, then how can we as Hindus engage in this debate and promote Sanatan Dharma as an alternative way of life for the betterment of mankind? In the meantime, rather than boycotting The Golden Compass, I will 16
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certainly be supporting works that highlight the dangers of dogmatic and fundamentalist religion, whether that be through reading more controversial childrenâ€™s books or going to the cinema. Nayan Mistry
Holi (also called Holaka or Phagwa) is an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It celebrates spring, and commemorates various events in Hindu mythology. During Holi, Hindus attend a public bonfire, they spray friends and family with coloured powders and water. Celebrated all over India since ancient times, Holi's precise form and purpose display great variety. Originally, Holi was an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring. It is a time when man and nature alike throw off the gloom of winter and rejoice in the colours and liveliness that spring. The legend commemorated by the festival of Holi involves an evil king named Hiranyakashipu. He forbade his son Prahlad from worshipping Vishnu, but Radhu continued to offer prayers to the god. Getting angry with his son, Hiranyakashipu challenged Prahlad to sit on a pyre with his wicked aunt Holika who was believed to be immune to fire. Prahlad accepted Hiranyakashipu's challenge and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the blazing fire commenced, everyone watched in amazement as Holika was burnt to death, while Prahlad survived without a scar to show Holi is for it. celebrated The burning of Holika is with much joy and laughter celebrated as Holi. January - March 2008
EkãtmatãStotra Buddha Jinendra Goraksah Paninisca Patanjalih Sankaro Madhvanimbarkau Sriramanujavallabhau
In accordance with the Buddhist view, there have been many people who became enlightened or ‘Buddha’ by attaining true knowledge. The progenitor of Buddhism was Siddhartha, who later became known as Gautam Buddha. Moved by people’s suffering, at the age of 28 Siddartha left his wife Yashodhara, newly born son Rahul and the luxuries of his kingly palace in search of peace and a way to remove suffering.
In Jainism, it is accepted that there are 24 ‘Tirthankaras’ or worshipful free souls. Tirthankaras are known as ‘Jina’ or ‘Jinendra’ meaning one who is victorious over his senses. Adinatha Rsabhadeva was the first and Vardhaman Mahavira is regarded as the last.
Guru Gorakhanatha had been a disciple of the famous Yogi Matsyendranath. In the various provinces of India there are monasteries of Guru Gorakhnath. He preached about Hathayoga-Sadhana, stressed the control of the mind and influenced the method of studying Yoga and Indian literature.
Great grammarian and linguist, Panini is famous for writing a book on grammar around 700 B.C named Astadhyayi; the foundational work on current Sanskrit grammar. The science of sound in the articulation of the words revealed in Panini’s grammar is so precise that even the scientits studying sound today are thoroughly surprised to find it so.
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Great grammarian, professor of life-science and professor of Yoga philosophy. Patanjali produced his works on grammar for the sake of purifying speech ‘Vani-suddhi’, on life-science for the sake of purifying the body ‘Sarira-suddhi’ and on Yoga for the sake of purifying consciousness ‘Cittasuddhi'.
Sankaracarya was a great philosopher, who accomplished great works at a young age. He wrote commentaries of very high order on the Brahma-sutra, Gita and the Upanishads. He propounded the ‘Advaita’ philosophy which regarded Brahma to be the sole reality and the world ‘Maya’, or an illusion.
Born in13th century A.D, Madhvacharya was a famous philosopher who propounded the ‘Dvaita’ (Dualistic) school of Vedanta which preached the Vaisnava point of view. Madhvacharya’s thinking influenced devotional literature of various Indian languages during a period known as 'middle times'.
Born in southern India, Nimbarkacharya lived by establishing an ashrama in the area known as Dhruva-Ksetra near Mathura. He accepted the Upanishads, Brahma-Sutra, Bhagavad-Gita and Shrimadbhagavata Purana as the sources of the Vedanta thought.
The propounder of Visistadvaitavada, Ramanujacharya was born in the village Tirukunnura in southern India as the son of Keshava Bhatta. He was initiated into Vaishnavism and in accordance with his Vishishtadvaitavad he wrote commentaries on Prasthanatrayi (Upanishads, Brahma-Sutra, and Bhagavad-Gita). He also devoted himself to the task of removing social inequality.
Vallabhacarya A famous Vedantist whose philosophic school is known as Suddhadvaita (pure non-dualism) and the devotional way advocated by him is known as Pustimarga (firm-faith in God’s grace of strengthening and confirming one’s devotion).
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SewaNews Charity News
The 2007 Indus Insight On Sunday 2nd December, renowned investment banker, strategist, and best-selling author Ketan Patel delivered the keynote address at ‘The 2007 Indus Insight’, an event organised by Sewa International. The event was attended by 150 people, including politicians, and prominent figures within the industry and Indian community. With a powerful social network, he has been able to discuss fundamental questions, in particular, the strategies for creating peace, prosperity and freedom. He also discussed ways in which charities can bring about a change in values in our consumer society.
"A shift in values will only take place if we rise above our individual aspirations to take into account what’s good for our society as a whole..." “The presence of the world’s richest, such as Gates and Buffett, willing to donate their billions to solve the world’s most important issues combined with the breakthroughs in medicine, electronics and materials gives us the opportunity to make a historic shift in seemingly structural
Ketan Patel pictured delivering the keynote address
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Guests at 'The 2007 Indus Insight' event organised by Sewa International
poverty. However, this will not happen unless we have master strategists to change minds and behaviours and re-architect our values”, said Patel. On behalf of Sewa International, Abhay Chopada said: “We agree with his analysis that if we are to address the key challenges facing the world or even in our very own local communities, we will need to change the way we view the world. In particular, we believe that a shift in values will only take place if we rise above our individual aspirations to take into account what’s good for our society as a whole.” Ketan Patel spoke of the need for charities like Sewa International to embrace an agenda that promotes a fundamental change in values. He said: “The rate of growth of our need to consume everything the world has, can only lead to a deadly conflict for resources. All our measures of prosperity and progress demand that we keep consuming. Historically this was called ‘greed’. Today we use words such as ‘consumer society’. Science may make the breakthroughs that enable us to continue this pattern of behaviour by creating plenty. Only a fundamental change in values can really save us.”
Sewa Skydivers Raise £35,000 for UK Charities On 7th November 2007, leading British charity Sewa International pledged £35,000* to Macmillan Cancer Support and Refuge. 35 volunteers participated in a charity skydive to raise funds for these two causes. Arup Ganguly, spokesman for the ‘Sewa Skydive’ said: “We are delighted to have raised such a large amount of money for these two causes. We are grateful to the 35 participants for their fundraising efforts and hope that the two beneficiaries are able to maintain the high level of services that they are associated with.” Importantly, he added: “We recognised that by developing a volunteer network, ‘SewaVolunteers’, we would be in a far stronger position to make a meaningful contribution to those who are less fortunate. The mobilisation of funds through the SewaVolunteers network, organised by Sewa International, serves to emphasise that a charitable organisation, dependent wholly on volunteers can contribute in a significant manner.” January - March 2008
Sandra Horley, OBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said: “Domestic violence is a serious crime that destroys lives. One in four women experiences domestic violence at some point in their life and two women are killed every week in England and Wales. Sewa International’s amazing physical and fundraising efforts will help support Refuge’s life saving and life-changing work. Ciaran Devane, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “I am delighted that Sewa International have chosen to improve the lives of people affected by cancer by donating this fantastic amount of money that they have raised to Macmillan Cancer Support.” She added, "The money will go towards a specialist Macmillan Pharmacist at the North West London Hospitals Trust. “The pharmacist will make a real difference to the lives of cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy treatment by providing reliable support and information about patients’ vital chemotherapy medication”. * £35,000 has been pledged by the participants of the skydive. The funds will be disbursed on a 60/40 basis in favour of Macmillan Cancer Support
Up on cloud 9!
A rush of air at 120 mph takes your breath away!
The plane journey up to 13,000ft felt like forever (which did nothing to ease the nerves!) but it was only till I was actually sitting on the edge of the aircraft with my legs dangling out that the reality of what I was about to do hit me! Before I knew it I heard from behind me “3-2--” and we jumped!! The first few seconds of freefall were exhilarating and such an incredible feeling. As the g-force built up and the wind rushed up at me I could feel my stomach tightening. However, everything after this point was totally not unimaginable. Even though we were falling at approximately 120mph, there was nothing else around us and it didn’t feel particularly fast- it wasn’t scary at all. At this point I looked up and saw blue sky on the horizon ahead of me and a wispy sea of clouds below me - it was the most sensational feeling! Then, the parachute opened and we slowed down quite considerably. After a few twists and turns we drifted ever so slowly back down to earth - no pun intended! One dodgy landing later and I was back on the ground, still pumped from the adrenaline rush!
After waiting two hours on the ground at the airfield and after ten minutes of anticipation as the aircraft climbs, the door opens. Your heart beats faster. The instructor shuffles you to the door... Before you know it, you’re looking down onto the earth with your legs out... “Ready.... Set... Put your head back” shouts the instructor. You can barely hear him. As you give him the sign that you’re ready, you begin freefalling from 10,000 feet. The rush of air distorts your face as you travel faster than 170 feet per second - truely amazing. The ground gets closer and closer and suddenly your instructor opens the parachute. The rush of air suddenly stops and you glide back down to earth in serene silence, doing a few twists and turns, almost like a roller coaster, as you get back to earth. The landing was fantastic, no broken legs! I can honestly say it was one of the best, most exhilarating experiences I have ever had.
January - March 2008
The brave Sewa Skydivers smiling for the camera before the jump.
See the gallery on
January - March 2008
Baiju's Vistaar Blog Last week I had the opportunity to meet several people who were originally from Kenya in East Africa, but who are now living here in the UK. The first person I spoke to rarely went to shakha himself, but had a nephew who was heavily involved in Kenya. On numerous occasions this person mentioned the immense level of commitment his nephew had for shakha and how, at times, he would even prioritise going to shakha above any family events! He spoke in total admiration at such a high level of commitment and dedication.
"Hindu customs, rituals and culture, this will naturally permeate into you without any conscious effort on the part of the individual." The second person who I spoke to was the father of one of the teenage swayamsevaks in Coventry. We spoke about his experiences growing up as a swayamsevak in Mombasa. Even though he hadn't been to shakha for about 16 years (since coming to this country!) he spoke with so much passion, enthusiasm and fondness, recalling events and incidents as if they just happened yesterday. That evening I began thinking about these two conversations. What was it that made all these swayamsevaks, who originated from East Africa, have such commitment and dedication towards shakha? What has influenced them such that, many years on, they still speak with passion in their eyes and fire in their hearts? As I stood there listening to the joys of Mombasa life, the 24
January - March 2008
answer came to me - having daily shakhas. By having shakha every day it became a part of their daily lives, rather than just a mere hobby or passing interest. This revelation reminded me of something which I had recently read in P.P. Guruji's "Bunch of Thoughts": "This is the unique feature of the Sangh work, wherein the 'means' and the 'end' have coalesced. The 'end', i.e. the ideal of an organised society, is being gradually realised day after day in practice by the 'means' - the day-to-day process of bringing together and moulding persons for an organised life." Furthermore, I also recalled something said by Jeffrey Armstrong, the chief guest at NHSF's (National Hindu Students Forum) recent Dynamic Spirit conference. Jeffreyji suggested that "in India you become a Hindu by 'osmosis' " - because you are permanently in a Hindu environment, following Hindu customs, rituals and culture, this will naturally permeate into you without any conscious effort on the part of the individual. In contrast, here in this country, we are not "on campus" and thus, by being so passive and making little conscious attempt to preserve and practice our dharma, our 'Hinduness' will naturally permeate out of us. Thus, the conclusion is that we need to stop relying solely on a single weekly shakha session if we are to achieve our aims. Because we do not have the luxury of having daily shakhas, we need to hold other events and visit swayamsevaks on a regular basis; because we do not have the luxury of being in an environment that is conducive to our goals we must work twice as hard and be proactive rather than passive; because we are not able to combine the 'means' with the 'end', we have to pay even more care and attention, devote even more time and effort and work with even more passion and commitment! www.baijushah.blogspot.com
January - March 2008
1. Delegates take part in Ganesh Puja at Dynamic Spirit 2007
2. Delegates conduct Bhajan session at the conclusion of Dynamic Spirit
3. Over 600 swayamsevaks pack the sports hall at Loughbrough
4. Action from a kabbaddi game at Khel Pratiyogita
5. Vikram Shakha Hounslow present the Diwali Play
6,7,8. Sevikas play various khel with grit and determination
9,10. Skydivers on the plane up and in action for the Sewa Skydive
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK)
46-48 Loughborough Road, Leicester, LE4 5LD, UK firstname.lastname@example.org â€˘ www.hssuk.org
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