Monthly Archives: August 2013

Never give up


How many times to we lose sight of our heart’s true desire and give into our need for immediate gratification?  Oh my gosh, it happens to me all the time.  This fabulous quote is now the background on my computer screen to remind me to keep my eye on the big picture of my dreams.

Does it inspire you too?

The Hindu Trinity

Shiva Parvati Ganesh

Shiva, Parvati, and Ganesh

Saraswati and Brahma

Saraswati and Brahma








Vishnu and Lakshmi

Vishnu and Lakshmi

Any study of Hindu gods and goddesses must begin with the basic Hindu trinity.  The Hindu trinity is said to represent God or the divine spirit in its threefold nature and function.  This is much like the Christian trinity of God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Hindu trinity includes Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.  Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer of the universe.

Each of the Gods in the trinity has a goddess as his partner.  Brahma’s companion is Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge.  Vishnu’s partner is Lakshmi, the Goddess of love, beauty and delight.  And Shiva’s wife is Kali (Parvati), the Goddess of power, destruction and transformation.  The Goddesses are often worshipped in their own right in addition to with their spouses.

These are the three main forms of the Gods and Goddesses.  All other Hindu Gods and Goddesses are derived from them.


Step by Step


All of us have dreams.  Some of those dreams are big and overwhelming.  They fill us with passion, but we don’t even know where to begin.  But if we don’t begin, nothing will ever happen.  That’s why I love this quote.  It reminds us that the fulfillment of any dream begins with the first step we take towards it.

Does this quote touch you?  Tell us how.

Lord Ganesha

An introductory video about Ganesha


Even those of you who are not very familiar with Hinduism have probably seen pictures of, or heard about “The Elephant God.”  His name is Ganesha.

In the Hindu tradition, all worship must begin with the invocation of Lord Ganesha (also called Lord Ganesh).  The story goes that Ganesha became the lord of all existing beings because he won a race around the universe against his brother Kartikay.  When they were told to start the race Ganesha simply walked around Shiva and Parvati, his father and mother, the source of all existence.  All the other deities applauded his spiritual insight and named him the winner.

The acceptance of the unusual elephant-headed man as a divine force quiets the rational mind and it’s doubts, forcing one to look beyond outer appearances.  This is how Ganesha creates the faith to remove all obstacles.  He forces one to look beyond form and to see the spiritual side of everything.  Therefore Ganesha is often worshipped to remove obstacles.




An Introduction to Hindu God and Goddesses


There is a remarkable religious tolerance embedded within the pantheon of endless Hindu gods and goddesses, which allows everyone to experience the divine in a way that suits him or her best at any particular time.  This explains how it is possible for different gods and goddesses to be worshipped by different members of the same family; and also by the same person at different times of his or her life.

For those of you that are new to Hinduism, this may seem strange.  Most of you are more familiar with religions that are less obviously tolerant towards other points of views.  But if you were to ask a Hindu how their gods and goddesses relate to each other, you would invariably get a response that goes something like this:

“Well of course there is only one supreme God, nameless and without form.  All the gods and goddess are simply representations of this one god or divine energy.  But this is the particular form I like to pray to God in best.”

It’s because of this acceptance that God can take many forms that Hindus are so willing to accept the religious beliefs and practices of other religions so readily.  Would you like to know more about some of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses?  I will write about several of them in blogs to come.  Stay tuned.

We are the change we’ve been waiting for


This is so true.  So many of us want so much in the world.  We want more kindness, more joy,  less war, no poor people suffering.  What we don’t realize is how much our little acts of kindness can make an impact towards these goals.  Doing a little bit is better than doing nothing at all.  We need to stop waiting for someone else to fix the problems in the world, and make the contributions we can to affect the change we want.

What do you think?

Take a look at what we’ve been up to…

Several years ago, to help educate people about his project in India, Swamiji put together a short video.  I was excited to find a copy of it on YouTube, so I decided to post it here.  They mention Badarikashrama Vidyashala several times in the video.  Vidyashala simply means “school.”  Enjoy!


Namaste. Welcome to the Badarikashrama Vidyashala presentation.  The Badarikashrama India Center is situated in the picturesque farming village called Madihalli, about 77 miles from Bangalore.  The founder and president of Badarikashrama is Swami Omkarananda.

The ashrama provides children with education, mid-day meals, and health and wellness care.  It also provides bus service to pick up the children from surrounding villages.  Some children are brought in from as far as 50 miles away.

The school was supposed to have been completed in 2010.  When the school is completed it should accommodate 1000 students from pre-school to middle school, with 36 classrooms, a library, computer room, playground, sports room, and offices.

We greatly appreciate your generous donations to continue this project.  It was not able to be completed in 2010, but continues ahead as funds become available.  We need your help.  Please join us with your generous support to help the betterment of humanity at large. We thank you.

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What is Puja?



A Puja is a ceremony showing reverence to God or a divine spirit.  The ceremony can include invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals.  Performing a puja allows one to make a spiritual connection with the Devine.  This contact is often facilitated through an object such as an element of nature, a sculpture, a painting, or a print.

The object chosen by the devotee is not considered the deity itself, but rather is believed to be filled with the essence of the deity and all that he represents to the devotee himself.  It is a focal point for communicating with and honoring God.   Each deity represents a different aspect of human nature and also the gift human’s value and would pray for.  For instance, there are specific Gods one would pray to for health, wealth, peace, protection, etc.  As one focuses on the chosen object, the consciousness mind of the devotee focuses single-mindedly on the benefit he hopes to achieve.   Praying in this manner is a powerful attractant for the desired outcome.  This is why we have so many “gods” in the Hindu religion.

Our first Gurus

“Parents are one’s first gurus. They teach by example, explanation, giving advice and direction.”  by SATGURU BODHINATHA VEYLANSWAMI

What kind of advice do we give those that look up to us?  Is our advice base on our own selfish biases, or do we consider what is the actual best advise for the person asking for help?  Do we live our lives in a way that demonstrates our beliefs and values by example?

What are your thoughts?  Please post comments below.


Swami Mangalananda’s Om Sweet Om


(This article was written by Anneli Rufus of the East Bay Express, Arts & Culture Section, Dec 2010)

One day 22 years ago, a former hippie threw her shorn hair into the Ganges, said her final monastic vows, and never looked back. Swami Mangalananda describes herself as “a WASP from Wisconsin,” but she’s also a Hindu nun and the secretary of Badarikashrama (15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro).

“My interest in non-Western philosophies began in high school and continued through the Sixties,” she said. “I became a vegetarian. I listened to Indian music. By dressing in Madras clothes and Indian jewelry and living communally, a lot of us in those days were imitating the people of Eastern cultures without completely realizing it. I went through a very strong Christian phase, then an agnostic phase. I was disenchanted with religion, yet I had spiritual longings and altered states of consciousness and a lot of spiritual experiences — not just from drugs.”

A devoted peace activist and civil-rights campaigner, “I developed a very strong attachment for Mahatma Gandhi, and that attachment stayed with me,” Mangalananda said. “I didn’t become a yuppie. Sometimes I actually chose poverty.”

While living in San Leandro and studying health education at San Francisco State University, she wandered into Badarikashrama one day. It was the first Hindu temple she’d ever visited. Immediately inspired by its founder, Swami Omkarananda, she began working at the ashram, taking classes, and becoming first a student monk, then a full nun. She stuck with it. In 1997, Omkarananda transferred her to Badarikashrama’s fifty-acre sister ashram in Madihalli, India.