On Nov. 14th, 2009, they celebrated the life and work of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder of the Kauai Hindu Monastery and the wonderful magazine and resource HinduismToday. Almost two years ago, I wrote a reflection on this interfaith hero who speaks to me through the legacy he left this world. While I have received so much from my father and my Uncle Ralph, I rely also on the teachings of this guru, and recently discovered yet another of piece of his wisdom: http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/lws/lws_ch-41.html. (I was preparing for a Forgiveness Symposium at University of MI Dearborn).
"To stop the wars in the world, our best long-term solution is to stop the war in the home. It is here that hatred begins, that animosities with those who are different from us are nurtured, that battered children learn to solve their problems with violence." So said Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, when he addressed the UN's Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual Leaders in 2000.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami founded the first Hindu Temple in the USA and a magazine, Hinduism Today, which seeks to unite all Hindus, regardless of nationality or sect, and inspire and educate seekers everywhere. As an American (and Caucasian) Hindu leader, he ministered for 52 years around the world, strengthening ties within the Hindu community, while helping his local community in Hawaii, engaging in activities such as the futuring process, Vision Kauai. He was an articulate spokesperson for Hinduism in the West:
in 1988 in Oxford, England, he was at the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival, joining hundreds of religious, political and scientific leaders from all countries to discuss privately, for the first time, the future of human life on this planet;
in 1990 and 1992, he was at the Global Forums of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival; and
in 1993, in Chicago, at the centenary Parliament of the World's Religions, he was elected one of three presidents to represent Hinduism at the Presidents' Assembly, a core group of 25 men and women voicing the needs of world faiths.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's legacy includes precepts such as "Ethics must be established among all the religionists of the world. They must nurture an appreciation for each other, not merely a tolerance. Religious leaders, above all, must remain fair, despite their enthusiasm," and "It is our past that colors and conditions, actually creates, the future. We purge the past in the present, and we fashion the future in the present."
My involvement in interfaith activism is relatively recent, although I have "lived interfaith" all my life, growing up in university communities in the Northeast and as a young adult and college student in India. Gurudeva's teachings and spirit are an inspiration, as I seek to be a Hindu voice in the interfaith dialogue that we must nurture to work together in our current war-torn world. As a founding member of the Troy Interfaith Group, whose mission is "to invite all faith communities to gather, grow and give for the sake of promoting the common values of love, peace and justice among all religions locally and globally. We believe that peace among peoples and nations requires peace among the religions," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniya Swami is my interfaith hero.
A Life of thinking globally, acting locally, and seeking peace internally.