Our feature story this issue is an in-depth look at the Hindu communities in the mostly Buddhist country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The story came at a key time in the nation’s history, with elections following that have the potential to change the course of the nation. Follow our intrepid team, journalist Rajiv Malick and photographer Thomas Kelly, as they go from region to region visiting temples and interviewing the movers and shakers.
History, as a field of knowledge, is not as objective as we might think. In fact, there are wildly differing views of the history of India and of Hinduism, so it is refreshing to read the review of B.B. Lal’s latest book, “The Rig Vedic People.” Lal is one of India’s legendary historians, and his works and words are compelling, both inside academia and in wider circles. So it is fascinating to watch him quash the enduring myth that marauding foreigners brought language and civilization to India. Not so, he argues with powerful effect. India is her own source of culture, language and spirituality.
Our publisher, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, travels a lot and frequently gets questions about the Gods in Hinduism, whether they are real or symbols of cosmic powers. In this issue he addresses that question, and goes on to provide ways to draw nearer to God and the Gods, especially Lord Ganesha. If you ever wanted to bring the Gods more into your awareness, into your daily life, you will find answers here.
Have you ever heard of India’s forgotten stepwells? No? You are not alone. These architectural wonders, once crucial in providing drinking water to millions, have gone into disrepair and neglect. When Chicago resident Victoria Lautman first encountered one such well in Rajasthan, she was flabbergasted. That moment changed her life and the wells became her mission and her love. Read her story and see the amazing photos of stepwells. Happily, there are initiatives afoot to renovate some wells and even to build new ones in the old style.
Karma yoga. You have heard of it all your life, but like us you probably are not aware of its profuse expressions. Our highly illustrated 16-page Educational Insight explores the many faces of this important Hindu practice, both for social improvement and personal evolution. Learn how communities in India and abroad practice karma yoga in diverse ways, discover its impact on mental health and social justice, and the simple joys karma yogis experience in the process.
Same-Sex marriage. LTBG. Now there’s a phrase and an acronym not often uttered in polite Hindu society. But the change in attitude toward the lesbian-transgender-bi-sexual-gay community is quickening worldwide and conversations that were once muted are now animated and shared on the web. If science is right, some 7 to 10 percent of all humans fall in this category, which for Hinduism is an astounding 70-100 million people. No wonder the Hinduism Today team thought we should explore it in detail. Read the story to discover the laws, the weddings, the biographies, the antagonists and the history of this evolving Hindu experience.
There is more, much more. Global Dharma reveals Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s love of India and the amazing Google Global Art project. Bharathwaj Nandakumar, a USC leader, offers his take on how Hindu thought can empower the interfaith movement. Our reviewers assess The Campbell Plan, Thomas Campbell’s book that tries to transition people to a plant-based diet and all the health benefits it brings. You’ll find our cartoon (and a crossword puzzle) surrounded by inspiring and witty remarks on our “Quotes and Quips” page.