July 26, 2008

Hindu Leader Coming to Dallas to Talk About ‘The Essence of Spirituality’

By Sam Hodges, The Dallas Morning News

Jul. 26--Swami Mukundananda gave a series of talks at the DFW Hindu Temple in 2001, and attendance grew from 200 to 700 through the week. He'll be back there from Aug. 3 to 10, lecturing (in English) on "The Essence of Spirituality," and leading classes in yoga and meditation.

After earning degrees in engineering and business from colleges in India, he turned to the spiritual life, becoming a student of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, according to his press materials. Swami Mukundananda has been lecturing around the world for almost two decades, and his current tour includes Lisbon, Portugal; Chicago; and Sunnyvale, Calif. He spoke by phone with Staff Writer Sam Hodges.

What's your impression of the level of interest in the United States in Hindu philosophy and practices, such as yoga and meditation?

Indians living in the U.S.A. are realizing the efficacy of yogic technique for maintaining health at the physical, mental and spiritual levels. I see tremendous interest.

There are many yoga classes offered across the U.S. now. Do you think there's an authentic way and inauthentic way to practice yoga?

The yoga schools around the world are utilizing the authentic physical techniques. However, the mind issues are not being tackled. This word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word "yog," which means union -- the union of the individual soul with the supreme soul. This union is through the mind. When we elevate our mind consciousness to the divine, we achieve that state of yog or yoga. This point is not being emphasized in 99 percent of yoga schools.

One of your listed topics is "Why be spiritual in the age of science?" What is your short answer?

Science has helped us in harnessing the tremendous forces of nature. However, it has no tools to harness our internal nature, the basic problems of the human mind: lust, anger, envy, greed, illusion. ... Spirituality is for enhancing the mind and intellect, and manifesting the inherent divinity within us.

What is the biggest misconception about Hindu philosophy?

People often ask why there are so many gods in Hinduism. The Vedas [sacred texts] state again and again that there is only one Supreme Creator. However, since that supreme being is all powerful and in possession of infinite energies, he's not restricted to one form. So in Hinduism are many forms of the one supreme God.

What's the most practical advice you can give on stress management?

The real cause for stress is the unlimited desire within us, desire for material advancement. With true knowledge we can understand that the happiness we are searching for is not just in the external objects. It is within us. When we learn to put in our best effort without being attached to the results, stress immediately vanishes.

Will your lectures benefit people outside the Hindu tradition?

I will not be presenting this knowledge as something sectarian. Instead, I will be presenting it as a very logical framework. From whatever background one comes, if they are willing to listen with an open mind, I'm sure they will find it appealing and stimulating.

Any specific memories of the last lectures you gave in Dallas?

People responded very well. The Indian community attending consisted of highly educated people -- scientists, engineers, MBAs. They have a natural belief in God, yet they have so many questions. Being an engineer myself, I know how people with a scientific background think. I was able to explain things in a manner that was convincing.

GO AND DO: Talks and classes

What: Talks and classes with Swami Mukundananda

When: Aug. 3-10

Where: DFW Hindu Temple, 1605 N. Britain Road, Irving


1-3 p.m. Aug. 3, 9 and 10

7-9 p.m. Aug 4-8

(concurrent programs for children ages 5-12)

Yoga and meditation classes:

10 a.m.-noon, Aug. 9 and 10

More information: Call the temple at 972-445-3111.


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