Thursday, 2nd June Visit: Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford University

Bhaishri and Trustees of Sanskruti Foundation UK visited the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, the only academic institution in the UK teaching Hinduism at Graduate and Post-Gradate levels. Shaunaka Rishi Das, the Director of the Centre, and other students and research staff gave a small tour of the building and spent some time discussing their current projects. In 2001, Bhaishri had conducted Shrimad Bhagavat Katha in London to raise awareness of the Centre.

Discourse: Milton Keynes Hindu Association

Bhaishri visited the Milton Keynes Hindu Association (MKHA) to bless the newly proposed Hindu Community Centre and Elders Scheme. The MKHA have successfully secured a large plot of land and been granted full planning permission for the development. Bhaishri performed a Pushpa Vrishti blessing ceremony by planting a special tree.

In his discourse, Bhaishri spoke to an audience of over 1,000 people:

· Why did God take an incarnation as Shri Ram. Some people believe it was to kill Ravan. Ram could have killed Ravan without having to come to earth in human form. However His true intention was to teach humans how to live as a true human beings, by example. God became man so that Man can learn to become worthy of being called a human. However, the question arises, are we fit to be called humans.

· We should be wary of three authorities. The first of these is God, secondly society and its laws and regulations, and thirdly the ruler/governor of the country in which we live. There are three different categories of people in the world. Vishayi (materialistic) people are scared of punishment from the government; they do not fear God or the society. A sadhak (a spiritual aspirant) fears society and God, and a sidhha (God-realised person) does not fear anybody.

· We perform sins under the influence of lust, anger or greed. To be free of sin we need to carry out our actions in the following way:

o Tadartham karma – before performing any action, we should think whether it will be pleasing to God or not.
o Mukta-sanga – we should perform actions without the attachment to their fruits
o Samachara – we should carry out actions wholeheartedly and to the best of our abilities. When our actions are free from attachment, then they are said to be Karma-Yoga (uniting us with God).

Discourse: Wellingborough District Hindu Association

In the evening, Bhaishri went Wellingborough and spoke to an audience of over 1,000 people:

· What are the differences between humans and animals? There are a lot of things in common between us. We all have or require ahar (nutrition), nidra (sleep), maithun (reproductive desires) and bhay (fear). These are the common factors. The distinguishing factor between animals and humans is dharma. Dharma enables us to discriminate between right and wrong.

· We all require nutrition, sleep and the ability to work. We need to do all of these things within their limits to stay healthy. We need to sleep so that we can remain awake for 16 hours a day. If we did not sleep, we could not function very well. If we sleep too little or sleep too much then we will not remain healthy. Our scriptures, particularly the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita states that if we eat, sleep and work within limits then all of these actions will become Yoga (ie. a tool which will help us achieve God).

Friday, 3rd June Discourse: Shree Krishna Mandir, Coventry

In Coventry, Bhaishri said that all of our actions should have God incorporated in them. Our words should become prayers and worship to God, all our actions should become puja and our sleep should become samadhi. When all of our actions become centred on God, then only can we experience God.

Discourse: Hindu Youth UK, Leicester

The Leicester wing of Hindu Youth UK hosted the evening discourse at the Prajapati Hall. Over 2,500 people attended the discourse, which had been organised totally by a dedicated team of youth. Bhaishri spoke in Gujarati with many words and phrases in English. The topic chosen was the five principles that distinguish Hinduism from other faiths. These are:

· (1) Yagna (Sacrifice): We are required to perform five types of yagnas to free ourselves from attachment to action. The word ‘yagna’ does not just mean fire sacrifice. There are five types of yagna, which are brahma yagna, dev yagna, pitru yagna, bhoot yagna and manushya yagna. Brahma yagna is carried out by studying the scriptures. Dev yagna is performed by making efforts to preserve nature. Pitru yagna is performed by having respect and carrying on the good work of our elders and predecessors. Bhoot yagna and manushya yagna are performed by performing service to all living beings.

· (2) Sanskars (sacred sacraments): There are 16 sanskars in the Hindu faith, from birth to death. The word ‘sanskar‘ means culture. These ceremonies are aimed at making us cultured and closer to God.

· (3) Varna vyavastha (division of labour): There is a division of labour in society according to out nature and actions (varna). Many misconceptions have arisen as people believe varna is decided from birth. This is not so. Varna is classified according to out nature and actions.

· (4) Punarjanma (Reincarnation): Hindus believe in re-incarnation. Humans have to take birth according to their actions karma. God also takes avatars, but only due to His grace and compassion for us, not due to any force or consequence.

· (5) Purusharths: Hinduism has four purusharths: dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kam (legitimate desires) and moksha (salvation). Hindu philosophy states that we should aim to earn wealth and achieve out legitimate desires within the boundaries of dharma with the aim of achieving moksha.

Saturday, 4th June

Visits: Shree Hindu Mandir, Shree Ram Mandir & Shrinathji Haveli

Bhaishri began the day by visiting some of the temples in Leicester. All each place there was a small congregation of people who had come to meet Bhaishri. The trustees and committee members of each temple told Bhaishri of the work they had been doing and plans for future projects. Bhaishri placed great emphasis on encouraging youth to also take an active role in the management and decision policies in the temples and requested the elders to support youth activities financially as well as morally.

Discourse: Shree Sanatan Mandir, Leicester

In the evening, Bhaishri visited the Shree Sanatan Mandir, one of the most popular and biggest temples in Leicester. Here, Bhaishri first conducted a special ‘Rudra Abhishek‘. In his discourse to an audience of over 1,200 people, Bhaishri spoke of importance of conducting pujas at sandhya times:

· Dawn and dusk (sandhya) are very important times of the day. At dusk, it is believed that Shivji and Parvati are present in the skies as witnesses to our actions. This time should therefore be used for prayers or worship rather than for pleasure. People often use their evenings to go to the cinema, restaurant etc. This is not a productive use of this time.

· At Sandhya time, it is said that our mind and intellect are weak. This is because the deities that control the mind and intellect, namely Chandra (Moon) and Surya (Sun) are not at full strength at these times. These times of the day should therefore be used to worship God and to focus the mind and intellect. If our actions become centred on God, then each and every action we perform will be worship of God.

Discourse: Shree Jalaram Mandir, Leicester

After a full day of visits, Bhaishri gave a final discourse at the Shree Jalaram Mandir. Bhaishri commented on the beauty and architecture of the temple and chose to speak on the topic of Jalaram Bapa’s paghadi (turban) and lakadi (stick).

· Tulsidasji states in the Ramcharitmanas:

ek ghadi adhi ghadi adhi me puni aadh, tulsi sangat sadhu ki, katai koti apraadh

This means that even if we dedicate a very small amount of time daily for God, that we can be successful in realising God. If we do not have a ‘ghadi’ (24 minutes), then we should dedicate ‘adhi-ghadi’ (12 minutes), and even if this isn’t possible then we should devote ‘pa-ghadi‘ (6 minutes) each day. Tulsidasji states that even if we spend 6 minutes every day in worship of God, then our sins can be destroyed. Jalaram Bapa’s paghadi (turban) should constantly remind us of the ‘pa-ghadi‘ (6 minutes) we should dedicate to God.

· Jalaram Bapa also has a lakadi (stick) in his hand to prod us, prevent us from falling asleep and to stop us from straying from the path of spirituality. This is the job of a guru. A guru is someone who will give us the directions and means by which we can reach God. A sadguru is far superior in that He will take us to our destination and place our hand directly in God’s hand.


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