Malaysia-Singapore Visit Report Part 3

Bodhinatha continues his report on his visit to Malaysia and Singapore (part 3). Bodhinatha attended a large Hindu Renaissance event, where he noticed how abstract and complicated Hinduism can be portrayed. In Gurudeva's beautiful style of presenting Hinduism in a simple and approachable manner, Bodhinatha describes three straightforward ways Hinduism can improve our lives. Hinduism teaches us how to 1) become a better person, 2) improve our behavior, and 3) live as spiritual beings on this Earth.

Unedited Transcript:

One more prepared response to the trip. Again, I don't know where we will use it, but a lot of lecturing on Hinduism. We attended this Hindu Renaissance event and I gave a talk and Swami Ghanananda from Africa gave a talk, and Swami Vigyyananda from India gave a talk. A Sivacharya, Muktukumara Gurukkal gave a talk and Dato Jagadeesan gave a talk as well. So five long talks on Hinduism. As I was thinking about it all, I said, "Boy, we sure can make Hinduism complicated!"

One of the beauties of Gurudeva's approach to Hinduism is it that Gurudeva can make it so simple, so pragmatic. I was thinking this morning along that line, this is in that spirit.

Have you ever tried to explain to another what the purpose of our Hindu practices was? Perhaps as a parent, your child asked you: Why are Hindus vegetarian? What is the purpose of going to the temple? Why do we meditate? Of course, we can opt for a philosophical answer such as, to resolve our karma, realize God and be liberated from reincarnation.

This, of course, is a technically perfect answer. However, it is so abstract it does not give the child a clue as to how in Hinduism we are expected to behave. Therefore, a simpler answer would be a more useful one. Here is a simple answer that focuses on behavior : Hinduism teaches us how to become a better person, improve our behavior, live as spiritual beings on this earth. Three ways of saying the same thing.

Man's nature can be described threefold - spiritual, intellectual and instinctive. It is the instinctive nature, the animal-like nature, which contains the tendency to become angry and harm others. The goal is to learn to control these animal instincts as well as the ramifications of the intellect and manifest one's spiritual nature.

This is nicely stated in Tirukural Verse 35. "Virtue is living in such a way that one does not fall into these four - envy, anger, greed and unsavory speech."

In fact, learning to control anger is such an important part of improving our behavior that the Tirukural devotes an entire chapter to this subject. The chapter points out through its ten verses that , "Anger gives rise to teeming troubles, kills the face's smile and the heart's joy. When it is uncontrolled will annihilate you, burns even friends and family who try to help and easily leads to injury of others."

Photo of  Gurudeva
Giving a gift begrudgingly in return for another gift is, of course, mere barter. Many families barter their way through life in this way, thinking they are giving. But such gifts are cold, the fulfillment is empty, and the law of karma pays discounted returns.