Thursday, May 9, 2013

Winning Essays of Bal-Mukund Chhote Philosopher Contest-2013

GROUP 1 [Age 5 to 7]
Topics [Max 500 words]:
  1. Krishna as a cowherd boy.
  2. Your favorite festival of India

Suma Dendi- Rocky Hill, CT
Click to read his winning essay- Krishna as cowherd boy

Ria Trivedi-Cary, NC
Click to read her winning essay- Krishna

Manogna Tatpudi- Plymouth, MN
Click to read his winning essay-  My favorite festival

GROUP 2 [Age 8 to 11]
Topics [Max 800 words]: 
  1. Krishna and Sudama-a true friendship.
  2. An Indian Saint's contribution(s) to the society.

Ria Puri- Newbury Park, CA
Click to read her winning essay-An Indian saint's contribution(s) to the society

Camila Torok: Vanderbilt, PA
Click to read his winning essay-Krishna's relationship and friendship with Sudama

Akshat Sinha-Arilngton Heights, IL
Click to read his winning essay- Krishna and Sudama

GROUP 3 [Age 12 to 15]
Topics [Max 1200 words]:
  1. What does Rama's attitude towards friends signify?
  2. What does it mean to be a Hindu?

Shreeya Sati Singh- Raleigh, NC
Click to read her winning essay- What does it mean to be a Hindu?

Vaishnav Puri- Newbury Park, CA
Click to read her winning essay- What does it means to be Hindu?

Tannavee Kumar- Fremont, CA
Click to read his winning essay-The Essence of being Hindu

CONGRATULATIONS !! to all the winner

The Essence of Being a Hindu

Group 3 [Age 12-15 yrs]
Tannavee KumarFremont, CA

The Essence of Being a Hindu

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “…I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew.”  Hinduism is a religion that follows an idea, but does not require its followers to abide to any strict rules.  To be a Hindu does not mean to do a pilgrimage, or sing hymns, have pooja daily, or to even go to the temple all the time.  To be a Hindu, means to believe in the ultimate truth.  “Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of truth we have not known.”
In Hinduism, we are reminded again and again about where we once came from and where we are now.  This is both figurative and literal.  We must realize that the point in life we are in right now is from our past karma, but we are also reminded that we all came from one big force, and have reincarnated thousands and thousands of times to be standing where we are right now. 
We are constantly reminded that we determine our destiny.  Hinduism is not an excuse to leave all our problems to God.  The choices we make drive our destiny.  The situation we are in the present is all from our own doing.  Even when we are in the depths of despair, Hinduism is a religion that often puts an emphasis on redemption.  There is not a necessity of being locked up in Hell for all of eternity.  Whether it takes some people a million lives or only three, we always have a place to fall back on. 
As a human being we constantly chase a bountiful amount of happiness.  We can be closely resembled to cars; we run very well when we have just been “fueled up” with happiness, but as soon as we “run out” we need another dose.  To seek the happiness our soul desires we have to “face the truth”, which is, to reach the greater goal we wish to achieve, we must sacrifice the smaller pleasures in life.   
Sacrificing things does not mean that you must move out of your mansion and live in a forest and meditate for the rest of your life.  Giving back to a greater good, in the way of time or money is considered a service.  Anything that is done with the thought of mind that whatever you are currently doing is not for yourself but for others is also a service.  But often the biggest service of all is the one that you can do for yourself and that is losing all attachment towards materialistic things, but this one is probably by far the most difficult. 
When people think of themselves, they often think that they are the body.  But we are not the body, we are the soul.  From the time we are born to the time we are using a cane, our bodies change but the essence of who we are remains the same.  To be a Hindu means to think about something outside of the materialistic world, this includes us.  To be a Hindu does not mean that you should read the Bhagavad Gita daily, it means to have the values it portrays.  To be a Hindu is not to just believe in a religion, it means that you follow a way of living.    

My favorite festival

Group 1 [Age 5-7 yrs]
Manogna Tatpudi- Plymouth, MN
My favorite festival
My  favorite festival is  Rakhi. Rakhi is about love and protection. On this day brothers and sisters  meet. Lord Indra and his team were having a war against demons.Indra ask Bruhaspati for a solution. Bruhaspati replied  “Tie a string on my hand while I am meditating”. Lord Indra did as he said on the booked date.Bruhaspati got power, Lord Indra team won by simple string he tied.Rakhi is a festival that belongs primarily to northern and western regions in India. But some  other Indians celebrate Rakhi.This story relates to yamaraj and Yamuna. Yamuna tied a rakhi  to Yamaraj. Yamaraj was so moved by the serenity that he declared that who ever gets tied from their sister and promises their protection would be mortal. This other story demon king Bali was a great devotee of lord Vishnu. Shree Vishnu was enchanted by his devotion and had up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own abode in vaykutham. Lakshmi desired her lord to be back in his abode. She went to Bali disguised as a wife of a priest to seek until her husband came back. During the sravana poornima Lakshmi tied a rakhi to king Bali .Upon asked what she wanted she revealed who she was and why she was there. she came for. Having tied the thread on him, King felt obliged to help and requested Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he had for her and his devoted wife. This festival is also called that is Bali Raja’s devotion to the Lord. Since then, it has been a  tradition for brothers to invite shravan Poornima for the thread tying ceremony and offer them protection. The tradition, is,  sister on this day prepare the pooja thali with diya rongoli,rice and rakhi’s. They worship the god and tie to the brother, apply kumkum on their forehead and pray for their well being. The rakhi thread is a symbol of  love and affection of sister to their dearest brother.The brothers in turn give their gifts to their sisters and promise to be there with her all the times. This is the still put all siblings together. The festival Rakhi is about love and care between brothers and sisters. It is the way of expressing love for those there in dark days.

Krishna and Sudama

Group 2 [Age 8-11 yrs]
Akshat SinhaArlington Heights, IL

Krishna and Sudama
Sudama is the best friend of lord Krishna. Krishna and sudama studied at Guru Sandipan’s ashram. Once Krishna and Sudama went to the forest to pick brushwood. It happened that they stayed in the forest for a long time and Krishna got hungry. Sudama meanwhile, had some food. Though Krishna told many times that he was hungry, Sudama felt very shy to give his food to Krishna.  “How can I offer my food to the King’s son? He is from a very rich family and is not accustomed to such ordinary food”, he thought and when Krishna asked him once more “ Sudama you may be have at least something Sudama answered Krishna I have got nothing. Sudama was also hungry. And now when Krishna went aside for some time, he began to eat stealthily and Krishna noticed it, but he said nothing. Having finished with the brushwood, they went apart for their homes.  Time passed, studies came to the end. Sudama got married, and Krishna took up his king throne. Years passed,   Sudama became a poor Brahmin, he couldn’t even afford enough money to feed his children. Once his wife said sadly, “ If we don’t have enough food to eat we and our children will die.” Hearing this Sudama felt very sad and said,” I cannot do anything or ask favors from anybody.”Sudama’s  wife said “Why don’t you ask for help from Krishna? Maybe he can help.”Sudama said “That is a good idea.” He said “But what should I take with me?” His wife borrowed some tasty rice from the neighbor and Sudama took it with him. Krishna knew Sudama would come. All this time he was waiting that Sudama would stop being shy and venture to meet him. And here came Sudama. When he entered the palace Krishna was sitting with Rukomini and his court circle. On seeing Sudama he swiftly jumped out of the throne and dashed to him.”Sudama  came” Krishna shouted with joy.
All his wives, the court and guards were astonished by Krishna’s behavior. What happened? Who came? A common poor man came but Krishna is so glad to see him. They were at a loss. Krishna embraced Sudama and told full of emotion, “ Sudama  I am so glad to see you! How I was waiting for you! How I love you.” They were embracing each other and were both crying. Then Krishna took Sudama’s hand and held not releasing it. Krishna took Sudama forward, set him in his throne and he himself sat at his feet and asked to bring water. And all those around stood in full perplexity the way Krishna washed Sudama’s feet. Then Sudama had a rest and Krishna served at his feet.
When Sudama woke up .Krishna asked,” tell me Sudama didn’t your wife give anything for me?” And Sudama again felt embarrassed, but Krishna told “That’s all Sudama. If I took your hand into mine you shouldn’t be shy anymore.” Then Sudama offered rice cooked by his wife and Krishna though the most daintily dishes had been served up to his meals, took that rice and ate it. As soon as he took a bite in his mouth, the situation in Sudama’s home changed immediately. With each handful of rice something changed, as if the old life was finishing and the new one started. When Sudama returned home he could not find his hut instead his wife coming out from a magnificent palace. She told sudama, “Look at Krishna’s might, we have been rid of our poverty. Krishna ended all our miseries.” Sudama recollected Krishna’s pure love with tears of joy.  
Moral: True friendship does not depend on social status and material possessions. Like Krishna, we should love all and give them respect. That is why even thousands of years later the friendship of Krishna and Sudama is still remembered as a symbol of true love. 

What does it mean to be a Hindu by Vaishnav Puri

Group 3[Age 12-15 yrs]
Vaishnav Puri- Newbury Park, CA
What does it mean to be a Hindu?
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion (i.e. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism). In common use today, it refers to an adherent of Hinduism.

To be a Hindu is: Love truth, look upon the world as Ishwara. All forms of prayer are valid. You are responsible for your action, for your lot. You can change your destiny. You have a free will. God is love, God is everything. He is in the form of order. He is not partial to anybody. God is not judgmental. Don’t say there will be judgment day and God will sit in judgment and send you to Hell. God is not judgmental. He doesn’t make judgment. You ask for it; you get it.  There is no science, no thought, no possibility that Hindu thought does not embrace? So there is only one way to describe Hinduism for me – although it may mean many things to other people – is that Hinduism is a search, a yearning, to find that which is infinite within one’s own self, a yearning to experience that which is Eternal.
Over the centuries, many religious thinkers developed the Hindu way of life; therefore, today almost every Hindu is fond of saying that Hinduism is not only a religion but is also a way of life. Edmonds has tried to explain this in very simple, yet very effective words, “India is a beautiful country steeped in history, tradition, and art. “ For the 85 percent of the Indian population that follows Hinduism, religion is what makes life endurable. Hinduism teaches them that their plight in life has been caused by their actions in the life they lived before. But, regardless of the misery one may find in this life, Hinduism provides hope that the next life will be better. This brings us to an interesting Hindu ideology, and that is the theory of “Karma”. According to the theory of Karma, we are all part of a cycle of births and rebirths. This cycle has no beginning or end. We are simply experiencing the results of our own actions in our journey through this cycle. Our actions bind us to this world, and such bondage causing action is known as ‘Karma’. While good actions cause us to be reborn to experience the good effects, bad actions cause us to be reborn to undergo pain and suffering.
From ancient times, Hindus have believed in the idea of one “Supreme Spirit” that is everywhere (including in themselves and every creature), formless and everlasting. But people often find it impossible to understand a god that has no shape or form and is infinite. To understand and experience God, the wise men of the past created a form of worship called Upasana, which involves a combination of prayers, offerings of fruit, flowers, incense and light, and meditation. The images and idols are an aid to worship and not the object of worship. Hindus worship only one God, but they do so through many different forms.
Few winters ago I had asked my grandfather (who is among us in spirit now), “why Hindus’ worship so many gods and deities?” This was his reply (which I still remember), “My great-grandfather told me this, and now I will impart this knowledge to you: Hindus believe that all the gods are different aspects of the Supreme Being, a holy spirit who does not have any form. When they worship a god, they worship a particular aspect of the Supreme Being: for example, god the loving mother, god the caring father, god the guiding teacher, god the friend, and so on”. Hence, through the idols, and images Hindus worship a particular noble aspect of humanity.
Hinduism is a vast collection of institutions, customs, practices, belief- systems, philosophies, cults, deities, scriptures and so on which constitute it’s mind-boggling diversity.
The most revered Bal Gangadhar Tilak has described that the acceptance of the Vedas with reverence and recognition of the fact that the means or way to salvation and the realization of the ultimate truth are indeed the distinguishing features of HINDU religion. Thus Hinduism is the way of life. This is the only way which leads to the ultimate truth, supreme reality and the ultimate peace that’s what the people are looking for. Now we should think about the peace and its origin. We can feel that we are in peace when we have least thoughts in our mind. The more thought create conflict and that conflict is root cause of stress, the most common disease heard. Basically peace and the pleasure are the subject of our mind and the worldly thing that supposed to give the pleasure also depends upon the state of mind otherwise they can’t give us pleasure no matter how pleasurable acts they are. The urge for attaining peace and happiness is very natural in human’s heart and under that inspiration people do so many activity in the outer world but there is no end. Life comes to an end but we never come across the peace and happiness,
In ancient time under this inspiration the saints made a complete search for peace and express their well-considered opinion for its attainment in UPNISHAD the part of the VEDAS. Similar to these views saints like Kabir sahib, guru Nanak sahib, tulsidas ji, meera ji, Gyandev ji, Tukaram ji, Ramdas ji and lord budha etc. also have described the views in their contemporary languages. Once any aspirants would go over the literature of self-realized soul would find the same views have been described in Vedas.  The difference among the views of saints seems due to their appearance at different time and places and giving different names to each of such views according to their names by their followers due to excessive admiration of their spiritual preceptors. But ultimately it would be settled that there is an unbreakable unity in the spiritual views of all saints if the essential and the basic principle of all saint’s views are taken into account avoiding the sectarian sentiments separating exteriors from the interior of their thoughts. The ultimate state of all saints is one and the same has been described in the Vedas.
Now the person who is in search of the peace and happiness in their life and observing the rule and regulation for its attainment can be called as Hindu. As it was first described in the Veda; the most ancient book, proven by modern science and the saints who described it was Hindu so we all are by default HINDU when we are in search of peace according the process described in their literature. Because all saints have described the same state and process to attain the ultimate truth so there is no other and better way.
In Hinduism, there are no Sunday schools for religious instruction, but there is a family shrine in almost every Hindu home. Prayers are carried out at the shrine each morning and evening as a part of the family’s daily routine.
Family life plays a significant part in Hindus. For many Hindus, family life means being part of a large family with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and children all living under one roof. Children born into a Hindu family begin to learn about their religion at home. There is much that they can learn about Hindu beliefs and practices simply by living in a family and in a Hindu community. Respect for elders is an important Hindu culture; hence, an important part of the Hindu family values. Respect for elders is also shown in many small ways. For example, by touching their feet to show respect and then embracing them. At home, a woman, no matter how old she is, will usually cover her head when her husband’s father enters the room. A man does not smoke in front of his father or uncle or elder brother. Because of these reasons, “the old people’s homes” of Europe and America are shocking places in the eyes of Hindus. If our aging parents annoy, disappoint or frustrate us, the only way that this can ever be turned around is for us, as adult care-giving children, to absorb our reactions within ourselves. Our aging parents are teaching us how to be aging parents. It is a wonderful life lesson being taught right before our very own eyes.
Thus we see that Hinduism is intertwined in the lives of Hindus and to all those who believe in Hinduism or its teachings. In conclusion, “Hindus want to move beyond just believing in God to experiencing god for themselves” (Veylanswami). This can be achieved only by adopting Hinduism, which is not only a religion, but also a way of life. 

Krishna’s Relationship and Friendship with Sudama

Group 2 [Age 8-11 yrs]
Camila TorokVanderbilt, PA
Krishna’s Relationship and Friendship with Sudama
Krishna is very loving to Sudama.  When Krishna was with His Queens relaxing, one of Krishna’s guards told Krishna that someone named Sudama wanted to see Him.  When Krishna heard, he immediately got up to meet Sudama.

Krishna made Sudama stay for a long time, making sure Sudama got enough food.  Krishna also always kept him company. 
Krishna was really kind to Sudama and didn’t ask for anything in return.
Sudama didn’t need to say what he needed to Krishna, because Krishna knew and gave it to Sudama.
Actually Krishna gave Sudama a lot more than what he needed.
To be more clear, here is the story of how it all happened:
When Krishna and Balarama had gone to Ujjain to get education from Sage Sandipani, they also met a Brahmin boy named Sudama.  His wit, knowledge and noble heart made him Sri Krishna’s very dear friend.  When they returned to their respective places, they promised to remain very dear friends all through life.
Sudama was a poor Brahmin boy.  After getting education, he started teaching boys of his town, but he didn’t earn enough to live comfortably.  But since he was a content person, he didn’t care for money and never tried to unfairly get money. 
He was married to a young girl named Vasundhara.  She was a devoted and loyal wife.  But there was a big drought and they had hardly to eat and they were having difficulty with seeing their children go hungry.  Finally Sudama’s wife begged him to go see Sri Krishna for help.
Sudama was reluctant but ultimately went after his wife urged him.  He didn’t wish to ask Krishna for anything for he knew that it was best to surrender to the circumstances if the Lord so willed for him to go through this.
Sudama had no hidden reasons for loving Sri Krishna as his dear friend.  He didn’t ever want anything from him, in fact he always wished to be of help to Sri Krishna.
Sri Krishna, saw Sudama’s kind pure heart and how Sudama loved Him selflessly without any motives.  This made Sri Krishna melt in kindness and compassion and do anything for him.
Sudama was happy to give Krishna the little he had as a gift instead of ask for things and therefore Krishna couldn’t help but want to do anything and everything for this dear friend that he treasured.
So Sudama expected nothing but got a big palace and all that he needed to live without worry for food or money for his family.  Sri Krishna gave him this even though Sudama never asked.
You and I should be just like Sudama.  We shouldn’t ask our dear Lord for anything and we should be happy with our situation no matter what it is.  And when we do go and speak to Our Dear Lord, we should go offering what we have, out of unselfish pure love.
Then Sri Krishna will grace us with His Divine Love and Presence beyond our very imagination.

Krishna by Ria Trivedi

Group 1 [Age 5-7 yrs]
Ria Trivedi- Cary, NC

Krishna was born in Mathura. Krishna lived in a small town called Gokul. He had two mothers named Devaki and Yashoda. One who gave birth and the other who raised him. He has one brother named Balram. All the girls in Gokul are called Gopies and the boys are called Gopas. All the Gopies would make Krishna dance for butter. Krishna is called a Makhan chor(Butter). He would go around the town stealing butter from all the gopies houses. One day mother Yashoda saw the whole universe in Krishna's mouth. Krishna also carried the Govardhan mountain on his pinky finger.
Krishna's a chubby baby. Krishna always carried a flute. Everybody loved to listen him play. All the gopies use to make him dance for a little bit of makhan but Krishna always wanted more.  He is dark in complexion than Radha. He wears a peacock feather on his head. Krishna wears a lot of beautiful ornaments from head to toe. Radha also wears beautiful ornaments. They look very good together.
Krishnam Vande  Jagadguru.

Krishna as cowherd boy

Group 1 [Age 5-7 yrs]
Suma Dendi- Rocky Hill, CT
Krishna as cowherd boy
Once there was a little cow herd boy. He and his friends liked to eat butter. He was very naughty but all the village people liked him.  One day he was eating mud and his mother asked him to open mouth. When he opened his mouth, she was surprised all she saw was solar system (entire universe).  The boys name was Krishna. He was living in Nandgaam (Gokul).
Krishna used to steal butter from the villagers houses.  One day one woman tied Krishna to a supporting pillar when he was stealing butter.  The woman went to Krishna’s mom to complain but she also found Krishna there.  So she went back to home to check on Krishna and she found him at her home also.  She did not understand Krishna’s powers and fell down.
One day there was a big storm but Krishna lifted up a very big mountain, Govardhan.  So all of the village people and cattle went under the mountain and were very safe.  Every one in the village loved Krishna.
One day Krishna and his friends were playing near a lake. After some time a big big snake came into the lake. The snake was poisoning lake water and killing people and cattle.  Krishna jumped into the lake and tried to kill the snake. Then the snake left the lake. Krishna saved every one so many times and they all like him.

An Indian Saint’s contribution(s) to the society

Group 2 [Age 8-11 yrs]
Ria Puri- Newbury Park, CA

An Indian Saint’s contribution(s) to the society

The Saints and their works are living examples of tolerance, of patience, of tenacity and of faith, above all humility and service. Trying to talk on Saints of India is like choosing one flower in a garden in bloom. On the occasion of 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, I choose to write on his life teachings as my tribute to him.
Swami Vivekananda was the great awakener of the soul of India in modern times, whose magnificent personality and electrifying words infused faith and courage, love and sympathy, service and sacrifice in the hearts of millions of Indians.
Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion and strong character. A gifted boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practice meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.
One day, he came across Shree Ramakrishna, a great Saint and from there his journey of transformation of himself as well as the transformation of the Society started. He transformed from a restless, puzzled and impatient youth, to a mature man who was ready to renounce everything for the sake of God-realization. In time, Narendra accepted Ramakrishna as his guru, and surrendered completely with all his heart. Narendra Nath Dutta now became Swami Vivekananda.
Identity and Unity - One main contribution that Swami Vivekananda made to Hinduism was to give it a proper identity, a totality, wholeness. Swami Vivekananda gave Hinduism not only its identity but also unity. By going to America as the first Hindu missionary to West, by representing Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions in 1893, and by preaching Hinduism in the West, Swamiji himself became the symbol of unity of Hinduism.
Preservation of Hinduism’s rich diversity - Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda accepted the whole of Hinduism with all its diversity. By accepting and revitalizing all the diversities they helped to preserve them.
Universalization: In ancient time, Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Religion of Indian subcontinent was a universal religion, in a sense that it was open to all. But during Middle ages Hinduism became a narrow ethnic religion’. Swamiji took this task to make Hinduism once again a universal religion open to all people and races. He wanted that India’s message of spirituality should spread to all parts of the world and bring spiritual enlightenment to all people.
Hinduism’s rise to fame: At the end of the 19th century, people in the West had a poor opinion of India and Hindus. Hinduism was regarded as a religion of superstitions, and Hindus as people who worshipped idols, the cow and the snake. Swamiji changed this wrong view. According to Swamiji, religion has an essential inner core and a non-essential outer shell. The non-essential shell consists of myths, rituals, customs, festivals, etc. The essential core comprises spirituality.
Swamiji traveled India far and wide to understand the country and its people. He realized that this great country needed to be awakened to its great and glorious past. While he is widely credited with having uplifted his own nation, simultaneously he introduced Yoga and Vedanta to America and England. Vivekananda was the first known Hindu Sage to come to the West, where he introduced Eastern thought at the World's Parliament of Religions, in connection with the World's Fair in Chicago, in 1893. Here, his first lecture, which started with this line "Sisters and Brothers of America," made the audience clap for two minutes.
One important lesson he claimed to receive from Ramakrishna was that "Jiva is Shiva” (each individual is divinity itself). This became his Mantra, and he coined the concept of daridra Narayan seva - the service of God in and through (poor) human beings. According to him, all humans were pure spirits and hence shred an essential identity.
Swami Vivekananda spent the rest of his life in preaching the message of spirituality and universal goodwill. He inspired the thinking of several other national and international leaders and philosophers. He attained mahasamadhi in 1905 A.D. and passed away the young age of 39, thus fulfilling his own prophecy: 'I shall not live to be forty years old.'
For centuries to come people everywhere will be inspired by Swami Vivekananda's message: Oman! First realize that you are one with Brahman — aham Brahmasmi — and then realize that the whole universe is verily the same Brahman — sarvam khalvidam Brahma.

What does it mean to be a Hindu?

Group 3 [Age 12-15 yrs]
Shreeya Sati Singh- Raleigh, NC

What does it mean to be a Hindu?
To me, as a teenager growing up in the United States, it's an absolute BLESSING to be able to call myself Hindu. In times when religious dogma pre-dominates, and intolerance reigns supreme, the ancient Hindu scripture Rig Veda, proclaims Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (There is only one truth, only men describe it in different ways). To belong to Sanata Dharma that is universally accepting, and refuses to preach either 'our way, or the highway', one that doesn't judge the belief systems of others, and does not believe in 'conversion' to be 'saved', makes me believe that I am a liberated, pure, strong and happy soul. It gives me the assurance that I, the soul, am complete in myself, and on a beautiful journey to experience the love of the Supreme soul.
Often, Hinduism is targeted, and accused of having many Sampradayas. As a Hindu I know that this accusation holds no water because, as Maharajji says there are only 2 Sampradayas: 'Shreya' (the desire for Divine Bliss) and 'Preya' (desire for the material world). This, I feel is the only universal division in all of mankind today! We have just complicated it by thinking we are Christians, so are different, we are Muslims, so are different, we are Buddhists, so we are different! Those who pursue God realization through any religion, to me, fall in the category of 'Shreya', and others, 'Preya'. To belong to a philosophy that is so simplistic, loving and encompassing, is a blessing for me.

The innate concepts, or four main principles of Hinduism, also appeal to me greatly. The concepts of:
  • Dharma
  • Karma
  • Re-incarnation
  • God permeates everything

Knowing that Dharma requires I uphold and sustain the highest order of my duties, gives me clarity in life. It is easy for me to decide on what my responsibilities are as a teenager, my parent's child, a student, but most importantly a soul on a God realization journey. The philosophy of Karma makes complete logical sense to me and helps me remember that my thoughts, words and deeds today, will decide my destiny, tomorrow. Believing in rebirth, instills in me the faith that I am an eternal soul, that is birth less and deathless. It makes me courageous and allows me to not be overly attached to my body as that is only a temporary costume. The faith that God permeates everything, allows me to feel one with all that surrounds me; be it flora, fauna, gross objects or people. It helps me respect and understand idol worship. When Hindus are branded as idol worshippers, I acknowledge the shortsightedness of those who say so. I heard a saint once narrate an experience he had. He was visiting the west and was sarcastically asked by a pastor to speak about God, since Hinduism had 'so many'. The saint replied, "We don't have many Gods, we have ONLY God. Everything IS God." That being the case, seeing God in an idol makes absolute sense! Being aware that God is in everything and everyone, also increases love and patience for all around us. It makes it easy to respect all life; animate and inanimate. This awareness has made it very easy for me to be a vegetarian despite living in a country where we are still a rarity! When my friends ask about my vegetarian lifestyle choices, I tell them that I 'genuinely' love animals and "non-violence" is my motto.
Being a Hindu re-enforces in me that absolute and unflinching faith, and unconditional love is dearest to God. Having scriptural knowledge to further and uplift that faith and love is great, but without love and surrender, no amount of knowledge is helpful. Many saints who became God realized were illiterate - the one common thread though that bound them was their unshakable faith in God and a pure childlike love and desire for Him. I have often heard Maharajji in his discourses say that Hinduism is a very easy religion to follow. There aren't any strict dos and don’ts. Directing the mind towards Divine love is all that is needed to realize God. For me, this is easy to understand because it makes so much logical sense. Whatever I think about for long periods, I get more attached to (positive and negative). So if I decide to think about God more, then my mind will automatically detach a bit form the world, and attach more to divinity! The easiness of this approach appeals to me.
Another beautiful aspect of being Hindu to me, is being encouraged to find a Guru who will lead me through the ocean of life and death. When we need teachers and guides for every activity, subject, hobby we decide to try out, we can sure use the wisdom of a God realized saint to carry us through lifetimes of birth and death! I love having this option available:). There is no stigma attached to pursuing spiritual masters and surrendering ones intellect to one that we make our Guru. How easy life becomes! Our guru is like an encyclopedia of wisdom and knowledge and one who has all the answers! S/He can be approached with all questions that we may otherwise hesitate to ask. He is completely non-judgmental and constantly loving. He knows what's best for us and when we are ready for the answers, we are given them!
I love the fact that Hinduism make me fearless and encourages questions. I believe most of our scriptures are answers to questions! This to me is a very unique feature of Hinduism. Many a times when we discuss religious concepts, my friends belonging to various faiths believe, that "the word of God should not be questioned." This is a double edged sword because what is being referred to as 'word of God' are lines from holy books that are man written! Though it is impossible to understand God with a material mind, yet Hinduism allows for all questions to be asked and gives answers to all mans queries. Being Hindu, I feel happy that many belief systems flourished under its umbrella. People were not persecuted for voicing conflicting beliefs, but instead, were given a place in the vastness of Hinduism.
A truly amazing facet of Hinduism has been that it has withstood the slaughter of so many invaders who wanted to wipe it off the face of the earth. I feel blessed to belong to a religion that has constantly evolved and refused to die out! It is thousands of years old, yet as relevant in today's times, as in the past. So many questions and situations mankind is faced with today, can be answered by reading Hindu scriptures. Its resilience teaches me to be steadfast in my beliefs and uphold the highest values no matter how intense the storms that come at me.
Being Hindu makes me feel empowered. Since Devi shakti is revered in Hinduism as is Radha Rani, I feel being a girl, is a very special blessing. It allows me to associate with all the strengths of Ma Durga and Radha Rani and aspire to be as invincible and devotional like them. I feel I am made in their image and should always work towards the propagation of good, destruction of evil and aspire for the highest forms of devotion. If I am aware of my inner strengths and work on realizing them, then being a girl is a huge strength and not a weakness.
Being a Hindu to me, therefore, means being aware of, and realizing my potential, and having the faith that there is a Superior power always watching over me. He saturates my being with utmost love and care! I just need to be aware of His presence at all times.

Monday, May 6, 2013

WINNERS !! Chhote Philosopher Contest-2013

Bal-Mukund is proud to announce the winners of the "Chhote Philosopher Contest" conducted on 2013.

Age: 5-7 yrs
Age: 8-11 yrs
Age: 12-15 yrs
Suma Dendi Rocky Hill, CT
Ria Puri
Newbury Park, CA
Shreeya Sati Singh
Raleigh, NC
Ria Trivedi
Cary, NC
Camila Torok
Vanderbilt, PA
Vaishnav Puri
Newbury Park, CA
Manogna Tatpudi
Plymouth, MN
Akshat Sinha
Arlington Heights, IL
Tannavee Kumar
Fremont, CA

Thank you for participating in Chhote philosopher 2013 contest.  All entries were reviewed based on their originality, relevance of subject matter and expert writing skills. 
Looking forward for more participation in other Bal-Mukund activities.