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FESTIVALS THIS MONTH:

DEC. 25: CHRISTMAS


TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER

HINDU TEMPLE OF FLORIDA: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; 5509 Lynn Road, Tampa, FL 33624; (813) 962-6890.

SHIV MANDIR: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday; officiating priests are Pandit Balraj Maharaj and Ram Maharaj; 2001 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33607; (813) 907-6311.

DADA BHAGWAN’S GROUP OF TAMPA BAY: Satsang every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.; everyone is invited; call Ramesh Patel at (813) 926-1143 or Mukesh Patel at (813) 969-1740.

JAIN SOCIETY OF TAMPA BAY: Monthly bhavna from 3 to 5 p.m. every fourth Sunday; also, non-Jains can take Dev Darshan of statues made of marbles by sculpture-artist from Rajasthan; 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.; both events at Days Inn hotel at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75; call Kini Shah at (813) 503-0715 or Pradeep Bavishi at (727) 525-5400.

VISHNU MANDIR: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday only, discourse by Pandit Vishnu Sharma; 5303 Lynn Road, Tampa, FL 33624; (813) 654-2551.

SANATAN MANDIR: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday; 311 East Palm Ave., Tampa, FL 33602; (813) 221-4482.

SHRI SARASWATI DEVI MANDIR: 9:30 a.m. to noon Sunday only; officiating priest is Pandit Purnanan Sharma; 16220 Livingston Avenue, Lutz, FL 33559; (813) 264-1539.

SHRI RADHA-KRISHNA MANDIR: daily morning arotik at 7 followed by Srimad-Bhavatavam class; 6 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday Bhagavad-Gita class followed by prasadam; 14610 N. 17th St., Tampa; (813) 971-6474 or click on www.iskcontampa.com

BAPS SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; darshan is closed between noon and 4 p.m. but reopens at 4 p.m.; 9226 E. Fowler Ave. (between Interstate 75 and U.S. 301); (813) 986-5473.

MANAV DHARMA ASHRAM: sumiran is from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. first Thursday of every month; satsang is 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, followed by dinner; yoga classes begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday; bhajans are 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every third Sunday; 7520 Caron Road, Tampa, FL 33615; call the ashram at (813) 889-7155, Himatlal Parekh at (813) 969-1661 or Ashok Modh at (813) 935-3439.

SHREE YAMUNA PREETI SEVA SAMAJ: Pushtimargiya Satsang Mandal invites Vaishnavs of Tampa Bay area to weekend Satsang sabhas and kirtans; 1340 Robin Road S., St. Petersburg, FL 33707; call Smitabein Patel at (813) 961-3816 or Himatlal Parekh at (813) 969-1661.

ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF TAMPA BAY AREA MOSQUE: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; 7326 E. Sligh Ave., Tampa, FL 33601; Tel: (813) 628-0007.

GURDWARA: 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. daily; 15302 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa, FL 33592; (813) 986-6205.

ORLANDO AREA

HINDU SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: 8:30 a.m. to noon and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707; (407) 699-5277.

GURDWARA, SIKH SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: 11:30 A.M. to 1 p.m. Sunday; 2527 W. Aloma Ave. (west State Road 426), Oviedo; (407) 805-0404.

MASJID AL-RAHIM, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA, WEST ORLANDO: five times daily prayers and pray on Friday; 4962 Old Winter Garden Road, Orlando, FL 32811; (407) 523-7882.

SARASWATI DEVI MANDIR/INDO CARIBBEAN CENTER: Sunday service is from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; all special days observed with worship; 1453 N. Pine Hills Road, Orlando, FL 32808; for information, call (407) 522-1988 or click on www.saraswatidevimandir.com

SHRI SHIVDHAM HINDU TEMPLE AND BRAHMRISHI YOGASHRAM: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily; 460 O’Berry Hoover Road, Orlando, FL 32825; (407) 380-2661 or e-mail ymcco@yahoo.com

SANTOSHI MA TEMPLE: bhajan and aarti first Friday of every month; 10900 Park Ridge Gotha Road, Windermere, FL 34786; (407) 996-2830.

SHRI DEVI BHAVAN: 9 A.M. TO 11:30 a.m. every Sunday; Pandit is Eshwar Persaud; 6206 W. Amelia St., Orlando, FL 32835; (407) 822-8057.

SHRI LAXMINARAYAN MANDIR: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday; 269 N. Klondike Ave., Pine Hills, FL 32811; (407) 877-7916.

SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR (BAPS): 1325 W. Oak Ridge Road, Orlando, FL 32809; (407) 857-0091.

POINCIANA HINDU MANDIR INC.: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each Sunday and on special festivals; 3999 Monterey Road, Kissimmee, FL 34758; (407) 873-2679.

LAKELAND(POLK COUNTY)

SHRI SWAMINARAYAN TEMPLE: 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, FL 33815; (863) 682-8260.

ALACHUA (ALACHUA COUNTY)

ISKCON OF ALACHUA (International Society for Krishna Consciousness): founder is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, P.O. Box 819, Alachua, FL 32616; (386) 462-2017.

INVERNESS (CITRUS COUNTY)

SHIRDI SAI CENTER: 4707 Pleasant Grove Road, Inverness, FL 34452; for timings of the center and any other information, call (352) 860-2181 or e-mail shirdi@gowebco.com

JACKSONVILLE/ORANGE PARK

HINDU SOCIETY OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA (HSNEF): 714 Park Ave., Orange Park; for information, call (904) 269-1155 or click on www.jaxhindutemple.org

SOUTH FLORIDA (MIAMI AREA)

SOUTH FLORIDA HINDU TEMPLE: 13010 W. Griffin Road, Southwest Ranches, FL 33330; for timings and classes at the temple, call (954) 438-3675 or e-mail info@sfht.org

SHIVA VISHNU TEMPLE OF SOUTH FLORIDA: 5661 Dykes Road, Southwest Ranches, FL 33331; 9 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays; call (954) 689-0471 or click on www.shivavishnu.org

SHIVA MANDIR: 3000 N.W. 29TH Ave., Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309; for information, call (954) 735-3560 or click on www.fhosm.com

ISLAMIC CENTER OF BOCA RATON: 3100 N.W. FIFTH AVE., Boca Raton, FL 33431; for information, call (561) 395-7221 or click on www.icbr.org

SIKH GURUDWARA: 1600 S.W. 60th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33331; for information, call (954) 680-0221.


Send information on upcoming events to Nitish S. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647
or e-mail editor@khaasbaat.com
Deadline for submissions is the 18th of each month to be included in the next issue.





Kaaba in center of Mecca. About 2 million Muslims are preparing to attend Hajj in Mecca this month.
HAJJ : A PILGRIMAGE IN A LIFETIME OF A MUSLIM
By HUSAIN NAGAMIA, M.D.

There are five tenets of Islamic belief, which are fundamental to the religious belief of a Muslim. The first is assertion of Faith. This assertion by a believer is that there is no God but one God (Allah) who controls all that is in the Universe and also controls our entire destiny. The second is the belief in after life and a day of reckoning and judgment when we will all face our creator and be judged for our actions in this life. The third is Salat or daily obligatory prayer. A Muslim should remember God at least five times a day when one stops one’s daily routine and turns his/her thoughts to Him (God) in prayer. Prayer also called Namaz does not take more than a few minutes. The fourth is Saum or fasting. A Muslim has to fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan .The fifth tenet is Zakat or compulsory donation to the poor and deserving in the community. This amounts to about 2½ percent of one’s savings each year. The last tenet is Hajj or Pilgrimage to Mecca, which every able Muslim is encouraged to fulfill at least once in his or her lifetime when one has the resources to do it.

These tenets were laid down by orders of Allah but were conveyed to humanity by the Prophet of Islam Mohammed (Peace be Unto him) who is considered as the last of the prophets along a long line of them that came to this world to spread God’s word and His message to Humans. The message was to do good in this world, be kind and benevolent to each other, do good deeds and stay away from bad deeds, in order to earn His reward in the hereafter. Among the Prophets, the one’s that have been named in Quran (the Holy Book of the Muslims include Prophet Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Solomon, David Moses and Jesus. (Peace be unto them)


Dr. Husain Nagamia of Tampa remembers his Hajj visit back in 1970.

Hajj is celebrated every year in Mecca. It is celebrated in Mecca because that is where the first house of Allah (the One and only God) was built by Prophet Abraham. This house is called the Kaaba, which was built by Abraham for the worship of one God. The rituals of prayer laid by him have been reiterated and reenacted over the centuries. Presently, about 2 million Muslims attend Hajj every year.

A Muslim goes to Hajj with the idea of seeking for forgiveness from the Almighty for all the sins he/she may have committed during his or her lifetime. The entire pilgrimage is a ritual beset with spirituality, humility and submission. It serves to cleanse one’s soul of all human cravings and desires of power, wealth and progeny and promotes the path of submission to the Divine Will of God.

There are certain requirements for a Muslim to go to Hajj. He or she has had to fulfill all worldly obligations such as one’s duties and obligations to parents, children, relatives and friends before one can go. Also, you can only go if your means allow you to travel without having to take on loans or need to have to borrow money for the journey.

I was privileged to perform Hajj together with my wife and my parents in 1970. It was an exhilarating and, at the same time, a humbling experience. That year, about 1 million Muslims performed Hajj. We started preparations early. We were accompanied by some local friends who were to serve as our guides. It was an experience that I will never forget. We entered the holy enclave about midmorning. The holy enclave is a land area surrounding Mecca. Only Muslims are allowed to enter this area. At each entry point in this enclave, there are facilities for shower and ablution – a must for every Hajee to make himself or herself physically pure before entering the Holy City to perform the Hajj. After showering, every Hajee dawns a simple white garment, which dresses everyone alike. Thus, all rich and poor alike don one single uniform leaving behind pompous and ostentatious garments that may distinguish one from another by dignity, rank or riches. It also is a reminder that no matter who you are, you are the same in the eyes of your creator. This sense of equality immediately renders you a sense of submission and brings you down from your rank in human hierarchy.

Next, you travel to Kaaba in center of Mecca. This essentially is a big mosque (the largest in the world) with a “Cube”(Kaaba) in the center. The Cube was built by Prophet Abraham, later destroyed but restored by Prophet Mohammed. It also has a black stone embedded in one corner called the “Sange Aswad.” This is a meteorite but has the connotation of Unity among the followers. While circling the Kaaba, a Muslim recites prayers. This is called “Tawaaf.” The follower seeks forgiveness for his/her past misdeeds and misgivings and seeks health, happiness for himself, his relatives, friends, neighbors, community and country.

Adjacent to the same building are two stations about a quarter of miles apart. Historically, these were peeks of two hilltops Safa and Marwa. Hajra (also called Hagger in the Bible) is Abraham’s second wife. She ran between these two peeks to seek water for her infant son Ismail (also called “Ishmael” in the Bible) praying to God for his mercy upon her infant who was dying of thirst. She was rewarded when her prayers were answered and a stream gushed forth from the ground giving her and her infant life sustaining fresh water in the acrid desert. This fountain of fresh water is a miracle, as it still continues to flow despite millions using it during Hajj. This fountain is called “Zam Zam.” The Muslims reenact Hajra’s journey by walking the two peeks and thanking God for his benevolence and mercy. This ritual is called “Saiee.”

Later, the Muslims will travel to a place called Mina and Muzdalifa and symbolically throw stones at three pillars built to represent Devils or Sataans, this to humiliate him for constantly trying to misguide humanity.

The final culmination of the Hajj occurs in the plains of “Arafaat.” The ground is considered sacred because the Prophet preached his last sermon to humanity and extolled them to a virtuous life – a life of kindness and consideration to fellow human being; a life of avoiding extremes and following the “straight path.”

A Muslim also will offer sacrifice in remembrance of the sacrifice that Prophet Abraham made on command of Allah to sacrifice his most beloved possession, which was his only son “Ishmael”. His son was miraculously replaced by a lamb, which was sacrificed instead marking the beginning of Eid of sacrifice or Eid-ul-Adha, which is celebrated by Muslims all over the world, the day after the celebration of Hajj.

At the end of this experience, I came back humble, well aware of my limitations as a human being, aware that race, color, ethnicity, richness or poverty was a man-made division among us; that in the eyes of God we are all equal and will be brought before Him and judged for what we did or did not do in our life on earth.

Dr. Husain Nagamia of Tampa can be reached at hnagamia@hotmail.com


RELIGION: IN A SERIES
WISDOM OF THE ‘YOGA VASISTHA’
By SWAMI SURYADEVANANDA



Swami Suryadevananda
FIFTH SECTION ON CREATION

Seeing things as they are

Rama asks the Sage Vasistha where God is, and how He can be reached. The great Sage Vasistha replies that God is not at any distance from us at all. His presence can be felt within as ‘pure intelligence’ and, externally speaking, as the world, or creation. The world, or creation, is the ‘Presence of God’ as pure intelligence that somehow appears fragmented as external objects and persons because of an error in perception.

We have come to give names for appearances that are perceived, but this does not alter the oneness of substance, which is the reality rising as forms. The activity in forms strengthens the perception of spatial separation to which we attach names and qualities for reference. But the power with which the differences are presented vehemently to the senses and mind insist on them being accepted as realities, and not as the processes that they are. They are processes because they have a beginning and an end, having arisen for a specific purpose. This purpose, when fulfilled, will cause the form to subside in their previous form, or to evolve into another form for another purpose, which seeks _expression through the play of forms.

This play of the waves on the ocean becomes the focus of our attention, and we see only the waves — completely forgetting that they are ocean only. The ocean does not change in form or substance of being just ‘water’ with the rise and subsidence of waves which are nothing but the movement of energy through the substance of water. If this is broken down further, it is atoms of hydrogen and oxygen that unite to present the substance we call water, and then the same energy or intelligence that brings about this substance of water moves through its own self and presents myriads of forms within its own being. Cosmic intelligence pervades all of what is seen as matter as the bonding force and still presents diversity in appearance by localized points of vision as perception.

The Supreme Soul

Rama raises a question about the form of the Supreme Soul, the knowing of which one attains to liberation. The Sage Vasistha replies that this Supreme Soul is not an object of perception as we perceive external objects, and he gives an analogy of how we can be conscious of our mind, even while moving about. This analogy, and others used throughout the scripture, are not to be taken literally but as examples that point to something subtle — a subtlety that cannot be expressed through verbal _expression. The truth, pointed to, is to be realized — each for one’s self — in one’s meditation.

Rama asks how the Absolute and Infinite Reality also can be present in everything and still remain Absolute. The Supreme Soul is devoid of any visible form, says the Sage Vasistha, and the best course is to know the Supreme Being as Truth who is the only Being, and in whom all this seems to take place as a real experience. God is, at the same time, transcendent and immanent, and this the mind cannot accept because of its limitations. Here comes the need for empowering the higher mind with conviction, which arises through logic and inference; a conviction arrived at that can stand over the doubts and limitations of the lower mind!

Tremendous self-effort is called for in this lofty attainment of abidance in the Truth of All, as externality consciousness is vehemently presented externally through perception and erupts internally through the grooves formed in the mind by our own likes and dislikes. The battle seems to be external and internal but what is calling our attention is the recognition and acceptance of God as the multiplicity which our senses and mind insist is diversity only. We see the world and have dealings in the world; how can this not be real? This is what we are faced with but just as when we are driving a car on a rainy day, we have to be extra careful even with the wind-shield wipers working as we just do not get the clarity and we somehow compensate for this in many ways. We slow down, keep a bigger distance between cars and have all the lights on; in the same way we will need ‘all-round protection’ of great love for the ideal, unflinching adherence to truth and relentless self-effort in our journey.

This is the reason sincerity in approach and great ardor is called for in spiritual life. It is like shifting the capital of a country; great turmoil is created. There is resentment felt at all levels as some feel that they have something to loose and the benefits of the new location are not felt for a while. There is much opposition, even within the ranks of the party that felt it was a good idea initially. It is not till the implementation gains momentum that the murmur and grumbling of the disgruntled turns into dissatisfaction and even resentment. One has to be prepared for this right in the beginning itself, and to enter into the life spiritual thinking it is an activity like many that we are engaged in, it is not like this. Spiritual life is the harmonizing of all aspects of our existence; seen and unseen; known and unknown and living in the principle of the spirit that pervades all of these.

Swami Suryadevananda is with The Divine Life Society, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, India. He can be reached at suryadevananda@gmail.com by email.





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