Two of our swamis, Paramacharya Sadasivanatha Palaniswami and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami, are attending the Sixth Annual Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference (HMEC) in Columbus, Ohio, today. This year, about 250 people are attending, representing Hindu organizations of all kinds from around North America, even one all the way from Australia. The messages here are more mature and relevant than in past conferences. Youth are more seriously engaged, telling us their uncles have been listening and are now giving them full responsibilities in their mandirs instead of orders. There are over 70 youth delegates at the conference this year!
Sadhavi Chaitanya of the Arsha Vijnana Pitham gave the keynote address on how to look at the temple during the opening session last night. It was rousing, delightful, so witty and deep.
In the plenary session before lunch, Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami gave a presentation on the “14 Questions People Ask About Hinduism,” our revised edition of “10 Questions” with four new questions and answers: “Is Yoga a Hindu Practice?,” “How do Hindus view other religions?,” “Why do some Hindu Gods have animal features?” and “Why do Hindus cremate the dead?” As Paramacharya controlled and read the graphic-rich presentation via wifi on his iPhone, everyone in the hall was captivated. The presentation was received well, with dozens of people coming up afterwards, thanking the monastery for providing these tools, especially “14 Questions.” One gentleman from Orlando, Florida, said he has purchased 3,000 so far and used them as the central element for youth study sessions he holds at his temple and for distribution in the local community. Our supply of 14 Questions pamphlets, just off the presses and shipped directly to the conference, was devoured within thirty minutes, some 500. Volunteers had put them along with a copy of the magazine on every station in the conference hall, and extras that were piled on a table outside disappeared within minutes after the session broke. The appreciation for what we do, the magazine, the resources of all kinds, is repeated again and again as we try to walk the halls–emphasis on try–stopping every 20 feet for another discussion with an inspired follower of Hinduism Today.
One of those hallway conversations was with Sadhavi Chaitanya. She told us about how they use so many resources from the monastery’s website at her ashram, from the panchangam to the yamas and niyamas booklets and just about everything else that can be downloaded. We asked her to write up her wonderful talk from last night for an “In My Opinion” piece in Hinduism Today.
Another wonderful meeting took place with Swami Nikhilanand from JKP Radha Madhav Dham in Austin, Texas, whom we met at last year’s HMEC in Houston.