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 <<CityNews Main Send Flowers to India!

 We invite associations, organizations and clubs from cities around the US to send in press releases accompanied with high resolution photos for publication in City News. Contributions may be sent to editor@NRIPulse.com.

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Atlanta

"Dharma a Manifestation, not a Mandate of God"

BY RAVI R. PONANGI
Ravi R Ponangi is the Atlanta correspondent for India Tribune Newspaper. 

(Top) Swami Dayananda releasing a commemorative volume that was  published on the occassion of the Swamiji's visit to Atlanta.
(Bottom) Ms.Sneha Mehta, President of VHP Atlanta welcoming and introducing Swami Dayananda.

While addressing a well-attended gathering at Impact conference center of Global Mall Swami Dayananda founder of Arsha Vidya gurukulam said Dharma is the matrix of norms that all human beings know by common sense and it is the basis for human interaction with the world. ďIt is a manifestation, not a mandate of Isvara. The more we assimilate Dharma, the more we are in harmony with the world, with Isvara,Ē he said. 

Swami Dayananda was in Atlanta on March 29 & 30 as a part of his Southern USA tour. Swamiji had a hectic schedule in these two days. He visited the Hindu temple at Riverdale, opened the SEVYA store in Decatur. Itís a store of Indian handicrafts etc., set up with a view to help artisans. Sevya is a part of AIM seva, a movement of people and caring for people started by swamiji. Various items made by artisans from all regions of India are brought here and marketed. The store is a mall alternative where every one finds an item from their state. Swamiji also interacted with Hindu community activists besides meeting a cross section of the society. On Thursday, March 30th evening swamiji addressed a large gathering on ďWhat is Dharma?Ē at a meeting organized by the Atlanta chapter of Viswa Hindu parishad at Impact Conference Center in Global Mall. Mainstream Americans, local Indian community, people from neighboring states and even from far of eastern states came to the meeting to hear swamiji.

Swami Dayananda has presented the subject matter dharma in simple and clear terms quoting Sanskrit slokas from various texts and related them to the happenings in our day-to-day life. Swamijiís wit and tidbits sent the audience to frequent laughter. In his address, swami Dayananda said the word dharma has a basic meaning and there are many derivatives. Some times an adjective. It connotes lot of things. The basic meaning is that which is holds every thing together. On the planet there are many forms of life. In all those life forms one who enjoys, the faculty of choice is a human being. He can make judgment himself. He can make conclusion himself. A conclusion may be right or wrong. We have means of knowledge to shed the ignorance of the world. The basic problem of human being is self-nonacceptance. Self-conscious itself is the problem. The Vedanta tells us the problem is basic ignorance. If self is known there is no problem. So not knowing is the problem. There is no other problem. To know I have given the faculty of knowledge and have the teaching also. This self-conscious being having self-image of being totally acceptable. Enjoying the freedom to entertain ambition, desires. These ambitions and desires are like, to acquire what I donít have and desire to retain what I value and what I have. That I have desires to acquire, experience what I am not experiencing. I need to place my self in a situation where I can experience. I have to retain what I am having; I have to retain my memory etc., so lot of big things I want to win. I have to what I have not. Then I have to avoid lot of things. Like decease, ulcer aging etc., we want to get rid off. We will pay for get rid off of them. 

These are all covered by two simple words called raga dwesha. This raga, dwesha are human privileges. Itís freedom that makes you to desire. People desire for heavens also. We see most religions are heaven-promoting religions. Some kind of tourism. This is totally non verifiable. That I survive death non verifiable. Survive death to go to heaven is non verifiable, that there is a heaven is non verifiable. Having gone there whether I like it is non verifiable.

Following this fellow I go is non verifiable. All are non verifiable. In this context swamiji said how these people are trying to convert Indians to their religions.

People have freedom to desire. So desire for heaven, desire for retired life here. We have desires, ambitions nothing wrong. We should not say you should not have desires. Lord Krishna said in Bhagavad-Gita you can have desires but you need to have them under control. If you go one step further these desires are my own manifestations, he said. I am manifest in the form of desire in your head. If you have desire, you have disappointment. You will have frustration, you will be sad. May not one come under that spell of desires? Raaga and dwesha, one acquires and retain and the other avoid and get rid off. Hence Krishna says donít come under the spell because they have natural capacity to generate pressure. A wanting person in terms of security being insecured in terms of adequacy. Being always inadequate and in terms of safety and so on. Naturally a human being is investing all his hopes infulfilment of raga dwesha. So I want all that I want. I canít have any way. What I want avoid I canít avoid. What I get hold of I canít avoid. Desire produces pressure. Pressure make the man goes against dharma that he knows. 

Dharma is a manifestation of Iswara (God) like gravitation. No body has seen gravitation. Monkeys sense gravitation. We wonít see gravitation. Itís not an object. But we canít miss it. Itís a brick system on our head. Dharma we all commonly sense is always there. It is tangible and existing. That is Iswara. For us dharma is not a mandate of God. For us dharma is Iswara himself. Swamiji said this is the difference of all religions and Hindu dharma. Hindu dharma recognizes dharma as another critical manifestation and not one of those manifestations. When you conform to dharma you feel happy. When you do what is to be done that is called dharma. Swamiji listed many dharmas like swadharma, samanya dharma, vishesa dharma, pati dharma, kula dharma, national dharma, kala dharma and explained their relevance to our life. These are all looked into dharma. You need to play the role properly. To live a life righteously. That is dharma. Dharma is such a profound term. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita says human being achieves success in life only when that person is able to conform to dharma doing what is to be done in the given situation.

Pressure builds up what I want to do. I donít feel like doing. What I should not do I feel like doing. I know what is right but I cannot do. I know what is wrong. But what I feel like doing. Itís like eating. You know what you should not eat. But that you like to eat.

Swamiji advised audience to get away from desires, raga dwesha and pressure by invoking the Lord for help to give strength so that we can conform to Iswara who is manifested in the form of dharma. You are not obliging God, he said. Please understand you are obliging your self. Your growth lies only in the capacity to conform to dharma. You become complete person only conforming to dharma not by wearing a Raymond suit. In this context when swamiji drawn the attention of audience to a commercial in India, the hall burst into laughs. Living in harmony with Iswara there is joy. There is absence of conflict. There is wholeness in it. That is why dharma is called purushardha. We say Ramah vigrahavan dharmah. No culture, no religion that says perhaps some indigenous religions has this and they are all destroyed. They have respect, reverence for nature. 

Earlier, Ms. Sneha Mehta, president of VHP, Atlanta chapter welcomed the gathering and swami Dayananda. While introducing swamiji, Ms. Mehta said swamiji is a leading scholar in the field of Vedanta and Sanskrit in the contemporary world. Over the past 4 decades swamiji has not only taught but has also established several institutions for higher learning in India and abroad. Swamiji is involved in many projects in India and abroad. Swamiji convened Hindu dharma acharya sabha first time in the history of modern India. Swamiji also started AIM (All India Movement) for seva, a movement to transform and unite Indian society through seva. Indian caring fellow Indians. In 2005 swamiji convened a conference of all Hindu spiritual and religious institutions in North America to develop a plan of action to nourish Hindu Dharma and address issues that require collective commitment. Swamiji was also a keynote speaker at world youth conference that was held in Nairobi. Swamiji was also present at global initiative of women spiritual and religious leaders. Swamiji is also one of hundred participants in six-part television series that will be telecasted where humanity might live next hundred years.

Swami Dayanandajiís visit to Atlanta coincided with the dawn of Ugadi on 30th, which is a new year for Telugus, Maharastrians, Canadians and Parsees. Swamiji released a commemorative volume, Hindu almanac of 2006-2007 based on Atlanta timings published on the occasion of swamijiís visit to Atlanta. Dr. P.V. Rao explained the salient features of the swamijiís teachings.

 

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