Each quarter our photographers and journalists take us on great journeys to Hinduism’s cultural and religious centers. In this issue, our feature article unravels the complex city of Varanasi, Siva’s Citadel. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth, to which pilgrims flock for a glimpse of God on the River Ganga. It is also the holiest of places to die, and many spend their final days here in prayer and meditation. Come with us to Varanasi and hear the voices of the priests, the mourners, the Sanskrit scholars and common residents.
Food. Who is there who doesn’t like food? And so we take you to the Royal Vega restaurant in Chennai’s ITC Grand Chola Hotel for a vegetarian cuisine that is lavish enough for real-life royals. This high-end eatery redefines the vegetarian restaurant, drawing on India’s courtly history and architecture and on Chef Manjit Gill’s astounding knowledge of Indian gastronomy. Finally, a place where you can feel a little guilty while enjoying healthy foods.
Our 16-page Insight Section tells the story, and shares the profound philosophy, of Sri Ramanuja, a theological genius revered as one of India’s five most important philosophical sages. He lived from 1017 to 1137 and changed the course of Indian spiritual life, redefining Vedanta to include bhakti and love of God as lofty sadhanas. Nainee Shaw illustrates the crucial events of his life, his struggle with his teacher and his bold message, which lives on today.
In Publisher’s Desk, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami gives us a relevant explication of the Art of Listening, taking us through the morass of modern digital distractions and showing proven techniques to make us mindful of our conversations and our communications. A richer life and learning experience awaits those who have the tools.
Commentary and opinion are in abundance in this magazine. Swami Aksharananda of Guyana focuses on highschool youth in his nation. Justice C.V. Wigneswaran of Sri Lanka offers an interpretation of dispassion, tethered to faith and humility in service. Dr. Rita Sherma unravels the status of Hindu Dharma at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. Plus, our book reviewer delves into that ever-so-popular-in schools book, India Unveiled.
You’ll always find a cartoon surrounded by inspiring and witty remarks in our “Quotes and Quips,” many good reader responses in our “Letters” section and an array of diaspora stories from around the world in “Global Dharma.”