Hindu Resurgence in 21st Century
Hinduism Arrives on the Global Stage
Hinduism has captured the imagination of the world.
Hindus have reasons to feel proud when its ancient tradition of starting an event with chanting of Vedic hymns in Sanskrit was adopted at the kick-start of Commonwealth Games 2010 on 30 October 2009, in presence of Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and President Pratibha Patil of India at London in a spectacular ceremony. Chanting of Vedic hymns by British children in chorus for several minutes in fluent Sanskrit, that too without reading any script was indeed worth-appreciating.
Hindu priest Rajan Zed opened the US Senate on July 12, 2007 with a Hindu prayer arranged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Baptist church expressed its concern about the rise of Hinduism in USA. Hindu priests offered prayers at the legislative sessions in the Maryland, Iowa, New Jesey, Nevada and California House and Senates in USA. In October 2009 US President Barak Hussein Obama lit Diwali-lamp at White House amidst chanting of Vedic hymns seeking world peace. In January 2009, Obama in his presidential address mentioned that USA was a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers. He carries a key chain with an idol of 4 armed Hanuman.
Sri Sri Ravishankar of Art of Living, addressed the European Parliament of 11 nations at Brussels in May 2006. He also addressed parliamentarians in Argentina, United Nations, business leaders in Europe, World Economic Forum and so on. Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh Saha Sanyojaks Dr Yashwant Pathak and Ravi Kumar have addressed several leading universities of the world including Stanford and Berkley and the Royal Society of New Zealand. Mata Amritanand was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters in May 2010 by the State University of New York.
In October 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown lit the traditional diya and started the Diwali celebrations in British Parliament. Ram Nawami too was celebrated in No. 10 Downing Street. Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, added colour to the Diwali celebrations in Britain by visiting Shri Swaminarayan temple and participating in a symbolic ‘Laxmi Puja' ceremony. Diwali was similarly celebrated in the parliaments of Australia, (Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne), New Zealand (Wellington and Auckland) and Canada.
World leaders Admire Hinduism
On 6th Sept, 2003, President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, addressing the Durban university students, said, “Through our actions together, all the people of South Africa will be able to live up to the wise words from the Rig Veda ‘Sangachhdwam, Samvadadwam, ….’:
Come together, talk together, Let our minds be in harmony.
Common be our prayer, Common be our end,
Common be our purpose, Common be our deliberations,
Common be our desires, United be our hearts,
United be our intentions, Perfect be the union among us. (10 - 191:2)
Before China’s Premier Wen Jiabao left for India in April, 2005, China’s state-controlled media, such as the People’s Daily, had highlighted his terming of the impending visit to India “historic” and emphasised Wen’s recitation of a Sanskrit shloka from the Upanishads “Aum Sahana Vavatu …” to call for closer ties.
Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam visited Greece in April 2007. It was a pleasant surprise for him when his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias greeted him in Sanskrit at the banquet ceremony. "Rashtrapatm Mahabhaga, Sur Swagatam Yavana dishe (President, welcome to you)". "I wanted to welcome you in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language that is related to ancient Greek" the Greek President said.
When Western countries are realizing the importance of Vedic hymns in Sanskrit, it is time that Indian government may set up a separate ministry for development and research of Sanskrit to explore the hidden treasure of literature and medical science in the ancient language. (Taken from Madhu Agarwal's article in the internet).
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has joined the thousands of Russians eager to learn the ancient Indian art of yoga. "Little by little, I'm mastering yoga," Medvedev said in an April 2007 interview with Itogi, a weekly magazine. Yoga, he explained, helped him relax from the stress of work. It appears that after one year, Medvedev has made huge progress in developing his yoga skills, having mastered shirshasana, the headstand pose. "I can even stay on my head," he told the magazine Tainy Zvyozd in 2008.
Russia’s former First Lady Naina Yeltsin and her daughter Tatiyana practice Iyengar yoga regularly. So inspired is Mrs Yeltsin, that she now wants every home in the country to practice yoga for a healthy lifestyle.
Khatuna Kobiashvili, the publisher of Yoga Journal Russia, estimated that at least 100,000 people regularly practice yoga in Russia. The magazine - published by The Moscow Times' parent company, Independent Media Sanoma Magazines - sells 55,000 copies a month nationwide, she said. "If we sell this much, this means people are practicing yoga," Kobiashvili said.
The Lure of Hinduism
Lisa Miller in Newsweek August 2009 issue writes - 24 percent of Americans say they believe in reincarnation, according to a 2008 Harris poll. So agnostic are the Americans about the ultimate fates of their bodies that they are burning them after death like the Hindus. More than a third of Americans now choose cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America, up from 6 percent in 1975. She concluded her article “So let us all say "om."
The Oscar winning Hollywood luminary Julia Roberts embraces Hinduism. Roberts said she practiced Hinduism and added "Hinduism is something I am very interested in". Julia often visits temples to hymn, pray and venerate. She also added "Golly, I’ve been so spoiled with my friends and family in this life. Next time I want to be just something quiet and supporting." She has renamed her children as Ganesh, Krishna Balram and Mahalaxmi. Julia is involved with UNICEF charities and has visited many countries, including Haiti and India, in order to promote goodwill. Julia is one of the most popular and sought-after talents in Hollywood.
In the sixties George Harrison, the lead guitarist of the Beatles, embraced Hinduism, learnt Sitar and Indian music from Pandit Ravi Shankar and popularized these in the West. He visited several holy place and temples in India on a pilgrimage and learnt yoga and meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and became a vegetarian. After his cremation, his ashes were immersed in Holy Ganga river. George Harrison chanted the Hare Krishna mantra regularly, and produced the Radha Krishna Temple album making it accessible to people around the world, released spiritual themed songs such as "My Sweet Lord," funded the printing of the Krishna book and donated the Bhaktivedanta Manor to ISKCON.
Donovan, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame British singer-song wiriter and guitarist, all four Beatles as well as Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love and actress Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence developed a strong interest in Hinduism, yoga and meditation and stayed in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram in Rishikesh.
David Keith Lynch, the American filmmaker, visual artist and "the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking", advocates the use of meditation techniques in bringing peace to the world. In July 2005, he with the help of several eminent artists launched a Foundation to help finance scholarships for students in middle and high schools who are interested in learning the Transcendental Meditation technique.
The Lure of Yoga
Yehudi Menuhin commonly considered one of the twentieth century's greatest violin prodigies, practiced meditation and yoga to overcome considerable physical and artistic difficulties caused by overwork during the world war –II as well as unfocused and unstructured early training. He also popularized yoga in Europe by arranging BKS Iyengar’s yoga classes in London, Switzerland, Paris and elsewhere. This was the first time that many Westerners had been exposed to yoga.
US Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may be best known for his indefensible sky hook. But the Hall of Fame center believes his secret weapon was really yoga. "I believe that yoga is one of the reasons that I was able to play as long and as healthy as I did."
Legions of aging baby boomers, battered by decades of aerobics, are flocking to Bikram yoga studios in search of a less jarring way to stay healthy. A survey found 30 million Americans practice yoga at least once a week, a number that is increasing daily. The prestige of celebrity helps draw a growing number of them to Bikram Choudhury, guru to the stars, including George Harrison, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Shirley Maclaine, Raquel Welch, Quincy Jones, John McEnroe and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to name a few. Tennis star Andy Murry after defeating Roger Federer, credited yoga for his success.
Sting (Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner), the English musician, singer, songwriter, activist and recipient of sixteen Grammy Awards and Madonna world's top-selling female recording artist of all time (Guinness World Records) pose in yoga postures. But long before that stars such as Gloria Swanson, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe also went to various Yoga teachers.
The Lure of Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is part of the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, a vast ancient text that's more than 1.8 million (18 lacs) words long. For most Westerners the Bhagvad Gita is essentially the Hindu Bible, but many of them now realize that it is much more than that. It has a universal message. Of all the religious books, only Gita teaches ethical values. Hence most Management Institutions in the world have included Bhagvad Gita in their curricula to foster ethical values.
Hence in USA the nationwide Panchajanya Project has distributed more than 100,000 copies of the Bhagavad Gita, mostly through economy hotels and motels. Indian-Americans make up about 5 percent of the population but own about 40 percent of hotels and motels in the country, according to the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. A Christian Bible and the Bhagavad Gita share space in a nightstand at the Best Western Windsor Suites in Houston. The nationwide motel Gita project has a goal of distributing 1 million (10 lacs) copies of Gita text.
Many western philosophers and scholars like RW Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Hermen Hesse, Somerset Maugham, T.S.Eliot, W.B.Yeats, JD Salinger and scientists like Albert Einstein, Robert Openheimer, Erwin Schrodinger, Neil Bohr, Dr. Werner Heisenberg, Carl Sagan, Alfred North Whitehead, were inspired by Bhavad Gita.
Hindus Shine World Over
59 year old Kamla Persad Bessesar became the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago in Caribbean in May 2010. She is the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and is also the first female Commonwealth Chairperson-in-office.
President Obama has appointed Sonal R. Shah whose parents are active members of Ekal Vidyalay and Sewa International to serve as the Director of the new Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the White House. When USA faced severe trillion dollar financial crisis, President George Bush in Oct 2008 appointed Neel Kashkari, a Kashmiri Pandit as the head of the new office of Financial Stability.
Several Hindus are now walking the corridors of power in Washington DC. When Obama and Dr Manmohan Singh met one-on-one in Washington recently in Nov 2009, Singh’s principal assistant and note-taker was his private secretary Jaideep Sarkar, a young gun of the Indian Foreign Service. No surprise there. And aiding Obama? Anish Goel, a senior staffer of the National Security Council and a rising star of the US foreign service. Similarly, when the US side engaged New Delhi on Af-Pak issues, the Indians found, much to their surprise, that the Senior Defense Advisor to Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan was Vikram Singh. China and Pakistan are worried that 26 Indians are serving Obama administration including at least a dozen in senior positions. India now enjoys a better relationship with USA. There is a forward movement on almost all facets of defence cooperation. The US administration has removed the names of nine organisations, mostly ISRO and DRDO subsidiaries, from the entities list and opened the doors for the export of high technology to India. Joint patrolling of the sea lanes (SLOCs) in the Indian Ocean is already being undertaken under the garb of joint naval exercises.
In 2005, at a celebration honoring Alan Greenspan, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Raghuram Rajan, a University of Chicago economist and then-chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), delivered a controversial paper that was critical of the financial sector. Rajan "argued that disaster might loom." The response to Rajan's paper at the time was negative. For example, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and former Harvard President Lawrence Summers called the warnings “misguided.” He was proved correct in mid 2008. Today, one wonders if Rajan had a crystal ball back in 2005.
On 22 March 2007 the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced Chennai born S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan as the awardee of the Abel Prize for 2007. What is the Abel Prize? Established in 2002, in many ways the Abel Prize is the counterpart of the Nobel Prize for mathematics (this is reflected also in the amount of prize money). Varadhan is the first mathematician of Asian origin to have won this prize. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was awarded the 2009 Chemistry Nobel Prize.
Vikash Dhorasoo a French national of Indian and Mauritius origin was part of the French National Football team for the 2006 World Cup. He is the first Indian to play in the world cup. Though he has not been to the country of his forefathers, the French national team player is very clear about his love for Bharat. “I will come to India with the idea of helping the sport grow in the country.”
Sanskrit in the Modern World
Usage in modern times
Many of India's, Nepal's and Indonesia’s scientific and administrative terms are named in Sanskrit, as a counterpart of the western practice of naming scientific developments in Latin or Greek.
Republic of India
'सत्यमेव जयते' Satyameva Jayate "Truth alone triumphs"
'जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी' Janani Janmabhūmisca Svargādapi garīyasi "Mother and motherland are greater than heaven"
'जलेष्वेव जयामहे' Jalesveva Jayamahe "On the Sea We Are Glorious"
Aceh Province in Indonesia
'पञ्चचित' Pancacita "Five Goals"
The Indian guided missile program that was commenced in 1983 by DRDO has named the five missiles (ballistic and others) that it has developed as Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Nag and Trishul. India's first modern fighter aircraft is named HAL Tejas. Our mission to the moon was called Chandrayan. Recital of Sanskrit shlokas as background chorus in films, television advertisements and as slogans for corporate organizations has become a trend.
Sanskrit In the West
Recently, Sanskrit made an appearance in Western pop music in two recordings by Madonna- one, "Shanti/Ashtangi" and the second "Cyber-raga," released in 2000 is a Sanskrit-language ode of devotion to a higher power and a wish for peace on earth. The climactic battle theme of The Matrix Revolutions features a choir singing a Sanskrit prayer from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in the closing titles of the movie. Composer John Williams also featured a choir singing in Sanskrit for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The Sky1 version of the title sequence in season one of Battlestar Galactica 2004 features the Gayatri Mantra, taken from the Rig Veda (3.62.10).
There have been suggestions to use Sanskrit as a meta-language for knowledge representation in e.g. machine translation, and other areas of natural language processing because of its relatively high regular structure.
Interaction with other languages
Sa Ding Ding, a Chinese folk singer and song writer now sings in Mandarin, Tibetan and Sanskrit.
Many Sanskrit loanwords are also found in traditional Malay, Modern Thai, Sino-Tibetan, Indonesian, and numerous Philippine languages, Old Javanese language (nearly half) and to a lesser extent, Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese.
Bhagwat Gita Manages the Modern Managers
Mata Amritananda, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Swami Parthasarathy, CK Prahlad, Deepak Chopra, Ram Charan, Vijay Govindarajan are in great demand in the western corporate world because the path inculcated by them is the one presented in the Veads and the Bhagwad Gita. About 10% of the professors at places such as Harvard Business School, Northwestern's Kellogg School of Business, and the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business are of Indian descent -- a far higher percentage than other ethnic groups. When senior executives come here, they are exposed to Indian values and Teachings of Bhagwad Gita. The development of a management theory that replaces the shareholder-driven agenda with a more stakeholder-focused approach is now described as Karma capitalism or inclusive capitalism. Hindu Vedic culture has once again proved that corporations can simultaneously create value and social justice.
Britain backed by $19.5 million (Rs 100 Crores) in aid has started a State Funded Hindu school. Krishna-Avanti primary school has a space for 240 children. Pupils study the national curriculum but there is a strong emphasis on Hindu ethos and worship. USA takes up Hindi studies in its universities. India’s rapidly growing industry and business is attracting large Americans to Bharat.
In June 2010 Thailand released four stamps on Hindu deities Lord Ganesh, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Samudra Manthan or the churning of the ocean of milk is one of the most famous episodes in the puranas and is celebrated in a major way every twelve years as Kumbha Mela. An awesome display of this Samudra Manthan can be seen at the new Suarnabhumi airport, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. This new airport was opened for domestic and international flights in September 2006. The Brahma Statue at Grand Hyatt Erawan, Bangkok was damaged by a hammer-wielding fanatic Muslim, who was later beaten to death by an angry crowd. The figurine was later reinstated into the shrine in May 2006. The ceremony was presided over by the then Prime Minister of Thailand in the presence of a large crowd.
Hindus Around the World
There are about 7 crore Hindus in about 120 countries of the world. Of these Hindus are in good numbers in about 40 countries like USA, Canada, West Indies, UK, Holland, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc.
1. Saga of Trials & Triumph
In countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Fiji, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Caribbean countries of Trinidad, Guyana and Surinam, Indians were taken by the British rulers some 120 years back as contract laborers. These Indian were then sold to British Farm owners like sheep, cows or buffalos. Initial years were a sad saga of tears & fears, disease & death, torture, humiliations & hard labor. But it is also a tale of their struggle, determination, strong resolve and final Triumph. Most of these Indians hail from Eastern UP (Bhojpuri dialect) and from Tamil Nadu. Ramcharit Manas and Thevaram (ancient Tamil Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva) kept their faith and hopes alive. The literate among them would read and others listened with unmatched shraddha. Ramcharit Manas & Thevaram saved them from the aggressive conversion efforts of Christian missionaries and Indian Muslims.
Festivals unite Hindus
Celebration of Hindu festivals in large congregations strengthened their faith. Deepavali is the most popular festival and is both a religious and a social event. Hindus invite all their Hindu and non-Hindu friends. Deepavali is a national holiday in Malaysia and in Singapore when all government offices are closed. Nearly 5 lac Hindus gather at Lord Subramaniam Temple in Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the occasion of Thai Pusam; 5 lac Hindus gather at the Ganga Talav in Mauritius on the occasion of Shiv Ratri. Lacs of Hindu and Sri Lankan devotees make a pilgrimage on bare foot to Kadirgamam temple in South Sri Lanka to pay their obeisance to Lord Karthikeya. Thousands gather annually at the (Maha Mariamman) Devi Parvati Temple in Suva, Fiji.
Heads of State in many countries
Hindus came to these distant lands 100 years ago and underwent trials and tribulations like Lord Ram during his Vanavas. Today the Hindus are better off. Like Ram they too are celebrating Deepavali having won the battle of survival. Their proud sons, Sir Shivsagar Ramgulam & Aniruddha Jagannath, Dr Navin Ramgoolam (Mauritius), Mahendra Chowdhary (Fiji), Basdeo Pandey (Trinidad), Bharat Jagdev (Guyana), Devan Nair &, S.R.Nathan (Singapore) Dr Anand Satyanand (New Zealand) have risen to become the Prime Ministers and Presidents in their respective countries. V.S.Naipaul the proud son of Trinidad is a Noble Laureate.
2. Conquering Developed Nations like America, England
Professional Indians like doctors, engineers, IIT graduates, Managers, economists, Computer specialists, Information Technologists are in great demand in developed countries like USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore etc. Here too after some initial struggle, Hindu community has established itself as the most educated, influential and above all most law abiding community amongst various other races. By the dint of their hard and committed work, they have now become the richest community on the basis of per capita income. Even American politicians have started wooing the Indian community.
17 year old Murali Ambatti of New York University became the youngest doctor in US, 4 year old Rohit Puri of Bangkok, Thailand became the youngest child to work on many Microsoft products, several teenage boys and girls in US, UK, Australia and New Zealand have been winning national awards in English language tests, general knowledge and science talent competitions. Very recently C.K.Prahalad of University of Michigan is ranked third in “Thinkers 50” based on a survey of business people, consultants, academics and MBAs. He stands tall next only to strategy guru Michael Porter and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Business advisor Ram Charan,
Prof. V.Govindarajan and Prof. Rakesh Khurana also find a place among the “Thinkers 50” where Peter Drucker was ranked first before his demise.
Noble Laureates & Wealth Creators
Dr Hargobind Khorana, Dr Chandrasekhar, Dr Amartya Sen and Dr Venkat Ramakrishnan made Indians proud by bagging Noble Prizes in technical subjects.
On 22 March 2007 the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced Chennai born S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan as the awardee of the Abel Prize for 2007. What is the Abel Prize? Established in 2002, in many ways the Abel Prize is the counterpart of the Nobel Prize for mathematics (this is reflected also in the amount of prize money). Varadhan is the first mathematician of Asian origin to have won this prize.
In USA many Indians like Indira Nooyi, Vinod Khosla, Vinod Dahm, Sabeer Bhatia, Arun Netravalli, Rajeev Gupta, Sanjay Tejwrika, Rajat Gupta, Rana Talwar (only to mention a few) occupy topmost posts in well known Multinational companies like Pepsi-Cola, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Stanchart, Mckensey, Sun Microsystem, Intel etc. Dr Ajay Kumar who hails from Meerut is the Director of Aerodynamics in NASA credited with the successful testing of MACH-7 Scramjet engines that can make flight travel from Mumbai to Delhi a matter of few minutes. He is now heading the MACH-10 project. Ms Arti Prabhakar, Director National Institute of Standards, Ms. Preeta Bansal, councellor in White House, Astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Pandya have proven that Hindu women can accept any challenge in the western world. UK based Shri Laxmi Narayan Mittal CEO of M/S Arcelor-Mittal Group of industries is the largest steel producer in the world. Hindujas, Swaraj Paul, Jatania Brothers, Tom Singh, Bhikku & Vijay Patel, Jasminder Singh, Bharat & Ketan Mehta and Dinesh Dhamija have made UK financially strong.
Influencing West through Yoga, Gita & Hindu Family Values
West is facing a cultural crisis. Increasing rates of broken families, single parents, unwed teenage mothers, drug addicts, alcoholism, homicides, suicides and above all sex abuse by missionary preachers is a great concern to the community which is now studying the Hindu family system with greater attention. Millions of the liberal westerners find solace in yoga, meditation and Bhagwad Gita. All these are growing in the midst of heavy attacks by Christian missionaries which label yoga as devil’s work and Bhagwad Gita as devil’s literature.
Ever since Bhagwad Gita was translated into English in 1785 by Charles Wilkins, it has caught Europe and America like a wild fire. Governor Warren Hastings, Arthur Schopenhauer, Annie Beseant, Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita), Savitri Devi, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Max Muller, Aldous Huxley, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Will Durant, Jules Michelet, a French historian, Schlegel - History of Literature, Wheeler Wilcox, “India, the land of the Vedas”, Joseph Campbell (Sanskrit) and hundreds of scholars have found a new meaning in their life mission.
In recent times Divine Mother of Pondicherry, Shivaya Subramanya of Shaiva Siddhanta Church, David Frawley (Vamadev Muni), Koenrad Elst, Stephen Knapp, Michel Danino, Alan Ford, Francois Gautier have been very vocal in their appreciation of Hinduism and leave no stones unturned to defend Hinduism against unjust criticisms.
Noble Laureates like Niel Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger (Quantum Physics), Einstein (Theory of Relativity), W.Heisenberg (German Sub Atomic Physicist 1901-1976), other leading scientists like J.R.Oppenheimer (1943-44 Father of Atomic Explosion), Carl Segal (Cosmology), social thinkers of the present era like Emmelin Plunret, A.L. Basham - Australian Indologist, Burke (A German Historian of Maths), Hankel, Hu Shih, former Chinese Ambassador to USA have been inspired by the universal Vedic philosophy, Vedic Sciences and Vedic civilization.
The untiring efforts of Swami Vivekanand, Swami Ramatirth, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Yogi Aurobindo (Auroville), Mata Amritanandamayi, Swami Prabhupad, Swami Chinmayanand, Swami Tilak, Swami Muktanand, Acharya Rajnish, Swami Mahesh Yogi, Shri Shri Ravishankar Maharaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and the labors of organizations like Ramakrishna Ashram, Satya Sai Samaj, ISKCON, Saiva Siddhanta Church, Chinmaya Ashram, Divine Life Society, Raj Yoga Centre, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, Hindu Sevika Samiti and Vishwa Hindu Parishad have made Hinduism truly global. No wonder the Sultan of Bahrain, Royal family members of Buckingham palace, Benitto Craxi former prime minister of Italy, Mrs Anwar Sadat, Mrs Yeltsin, sisters of former Prime minister of Canada Max Mulrony also speak Hindu philosophy.
3. Gulf Countries
Many Indian engineers, accountants, managers and lacs of skilled and semi skilled workers are working in Gulf countries since the oil explorations in the sixties. They made the hot windy deserts of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman and Qatar rich and prosperous by their hard work under highly adverse conditions. Even before oil was found, Sindhi and Gujarati merchants made life bearable. Arabs including Sultans would eagerly await the arrival of ships from India which brought necessary and lifesaving objects like drinking waters, food items, medicines and garments from India. Some of the Indians are so influential that the Royal family members depended on them for financial help. The devote Khimjis had built a Shiva temple in Muscat, Sulatanate of Oman, one hundred fifty years ago. Khimjis contributed overwhelmingly to the development of Oman. In the bygone days they financed Oman crown prince’s travel and education in Bharat. When Indian president Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and later Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Oman, the sultan gave them highest order of honour with warm personal attention. Recently Prime Minister of Iraq requested Sri Sri Ravishankar Maharaj to teach Sudarshan Kriya to jail mates in Iraq. The Arab royal families depend heavily on Indian professionals like doctors, engineers, administrators, managers, clerks and workers not only for running the affairs of their sultanates but also for the administration and maintenance of the royal palaces. Over 30 lac (3 million) Indians are working in Gulf countries.
4. Shining as the Best Tax Paying Business Community
Indians with business acumen came to in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Dubai etc. Starting as small traders they have become the most successful community in the midst of world wide competitions. Unfortunately the Hindu especially Gujarati businessmen from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria had to flee from these countries and seek asylum in UK in the sixties and seventies and from Zimbabwe in recent years after local military regimes replaced the European colonial powers. They have enriched UK and are well respected business community there.
5. Problems of the Overseas Hindus & the Role of Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh
Hindus living in some 120 countries have varied problems. But some common problems need to be addressed in an organized way. In most countries except Bharat, Nepal and Mauritius Hindus are in minority. Preserving Indian languages, Hindu customs, traditions, culture, festivals is a big challenge especially among the youth and children. The influence of western music, dress, language, slang cannot be under estimated. It is here that Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh plays a leading role.
Shakhas and Training Camps
In most countries Hindus form a microscopically small minority in the midst of people belonging to other cultures. The parents therefore struggle to educate the children on Hindu values. The aggressive western culture has ruined the western society and is a threat to Hindu youth. The Indian parents are legitimately worried about the future of their children growing in such a volatile environment. In such places Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, Hindu Sevika Samiti and Vishwa Hindu Parishad running shakhas, training camps on basic Hinduism, and celebrating festivals and conferences has made a significant change in their attitude. Hindu children now feel proud to practice our ancient ethos and traditions. Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh is active in 40 countries. It runs 750 shakhas in 35 countries. Of these 140 are daily shakhas and the rest are weekly ones. 70 of these are run under Hindu Sevika Samiti for Hindu girls by our trained sisters. The eastern most country in the world is Fiji and the westernmost country is USA. We have shakhas in both these places. The northernmost country is Canada and the southernmost country is New Zealand. Shakhas are functioning here too. In the 1940s shakhas started in Mauritius, South Africa and Kenya. Adarneeya Jagdish Shastry ji held a shakha on the deck of a ship while sailing from Mumbai to Kenya in 1947. Now shakhas have encompassed the globe and is instrumental in uniting the Hindus.
Swargeeya Laxmanrao Bhide laid the foundation of this worldwide movement by his tireless travels to some 60 countries in a long span of 40 years. He was ably assisted in this arduous task by Swargeeya Chamalanlal ji. Now this mantle has fallen on the shoulders of Dr Shankar Tatwawadi ji who in spite of his age goes around the world tirelessly.
HSS shakhas are similar to those in Bharat in some respects and differ in a few details. For example the Bhagwa Dhwaj is same everywhere. The Sanskrit commands, shaririks, khel, utsavs, gatapadhati, Sangh Siksha vargas, shibirs etc are same. The differences are the name Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, Sangh Prarthana, the way we do dhwaj pranam, and the prarthana ends with the slogan Vishwa Dharma ki jai. Many a places the baudhiks are delivered in English to make it easy for the youth and children to comprehend. In spite of the differences the karyakarta nirmiti in these shakhas is as strong as in Bharat. Many committed karyakartas are from 2nd and 3rd generation Hindus who have never seen Bharat before coming here for sangh siksha vargas. Ten of them are now serving the Hindu cause as pracharaks (Full time celibate social workers). Once in Malaysia there was ghastly fire accident in a chemical factory late at night and most of the victims were of Indian origin. When some karyakartas rushed to Medical Hospital to donate blood, they were pleasantly surprised to see so many other swayamsewaks from other shakhas who had arrived there with the same concern. In most countries whenever there are floods, accidents or other natural calamities, swayamsewaks have readily risen to the occasion. Educationists in UK have observed that hooliganism, vandalism and drug abuse among UK children is seen less in those schools that have a good number sangh swayamsewak children. S/sewaks are seen excelling in academic studies and winning several awards and recognitions.
World Hindu Conferences
Vishwa Hindu Parishad in cooperation with hundreds of other Hindu organizations, has organized large world Hindu conferences in UK, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, Singapore, USA and Trinidad to forge a sense of unity amongst Hindus living in 120 countries. These conferences have been addressed by Heads of States of the host countries like Nelson Mandela, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, David Russel Lange, Jomo Kenyatta, Basedeo Pandey and Devan Nair. Dharma conference held last July in New Jesrey was the largest International gathering of Hindu youth. They assembled to discuss their problems and ways to solve them.
Over 15,000 Hindus gather at the Deepavali celebrations every year in Sydney. Senior federal and state ministers have been attending this festival regularly. Diwali last year was celebrated in London, Washington and Sydney parliaments by lighting the central halls. Hindu renaissance is bound to trigger many such events in future. Hindu resurgence is finding its echo all over the world.
Vishwa Sangh Shibirs
Sangh karyakartas with their family members assemble in Bharat once in five years to discuss their problems, growth and future course of action. The first shibir was held in Bangalore in 1990. The second, third and fourth were held at Vadodara, Mumbai and Karnavati in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The themes of the shibirs were Pradeepyem Jagat Sarvam at Bangalore, Sangha Shakti Vijetreeyam at Vadodara Vishwa Mangala Hetave at Mumbai and Vishwa Dharma Prakashena Vishwa Shanti Pravartake –world peace through universal values of Hinduismat Karnavati. The sankhyas in these shibirs were 250, 350, 450 and 550 respectively.
The fifth Vishwa Sangh Shibir will be held in Pune in December 2010. 600 shibirarthis from some 40 countries are expected to participate. The serene and holy atmosphere of Pune will witness many bustling activities of Hindu resurgence during this period. For many of the shibirarthis this will be their first visit to Bharat in several generations. For them every inch of Bharat is a pilgrim place. They will be spending a fortune as air tickets to reach the shibir. They will come with their own nostalgic ideas about Bharat.
PP Sarasanghachalak, Ma. Madandas ji, Ma. Suresh Soni, Dattatreya and mnay Sangh adhikaris will be present in the shibir.
Hindu Influence on the West
Ever since cholesterol, obesity, heart-attacks, blood pressures have become fatal diseases in the West, they are now turning in lacs and crores to vegetarianism, yogasanas, meditations and pranayams. At least 10% in USA, UK and Europe are now practicing Hinduism in their daily life in one way or the other. The spread of AIDS, pre-marital sex, unmarried mothers, homicides and suicides has emphasized the need for self-control and Hindu family values. Bhagwad Gita is the fastest selling religious book in the world. ISKCON, Saiva Sidhanta Church, Chinmaya Mission, Divine Life Mission, Ramakrishna Ashram, HH Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mata Amritanandmayi and scores of other Hindu missionaries and organizations are attracting large non-Indian devotees. Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh is a unique organization in the sense it unites Hindus of all language groups, sects, creeds and other denominations.
The educational and economic success of overseas Hindus, their rising political, social and spiritual influence across the globe and their practice of Hindu Family values is now catching the world by storm. The new century augurs well for Hindutva.
Some wonder how long it will take before a person of Indian-origin occupies White House, the most powerful post in the world!! Namrata Randhawa, the Governor (chief minister as in Bharat) of South Carolina State is just a heart-beat away from the presidency.
Karlo Duniya Mutheemain
Hindu Dhamo Vijayatam
(Victorious March of Hindu Dharma)