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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.

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 Avenue, 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

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.

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

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


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

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


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

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


We are beginning a series of articles on the “Wisdom of the Yoga Vasistha.” We attempt to bring to the surface the embedded wisdom, which can be applied to one’s everyday life. The expressions of the writer will be contemporary, truths are eternal but the method of _expression will be conversational. We will move in and out of the story to bring subtle points to the forefront. It is not a scholarly approach but will be shared as a story and discussion in the hopes of involving the readers in the joint venture of mutual exploration.

Swami Suryadevananda
The Yoga Vasistha is an ancient scripture, which expounds the highest truths as a series of dialogues between Rishi Vasistha and Rama, his disciple. What is most unusual in this setting is that Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is on the questioning end and, Rishi Vasistha, the mind-born son of the creator, Brahma, is the one expounding the wisdom by answering all the questions posed by Rama in regards to reconciling what he had learnt, seen and experienced.

This wonderful scripture contains timeless wisdom and is very much applicable to our daily and practical lives. It is not quite as popular as some of the other scriptures such as the “Srimad Bhagavad Gita,” the “Ramayana” or other more prominent scriptures as it takes from the beginning the highest angle of vision in stating that what we call creation is but an appearance behind which is a reality. This reality can only be known if we successfully abandon our notions, concepts and limited angle of vision and reflect deeply on the truths contained within.

This also is the oldest scripture on Vedantic wisdom and one of the largest, consisting of 32,000 couplets in six sections, starting with Rama’s state and his _expression of dispassion based on wisdom, to liberation.

The scripture is full of wisdom woven with many stories, which are very intricate and descriptive in their exposition. Readers are urged not to intellectualize the story or the words used, but to look deeper for the wisdom that the stories are trying to impart. Verbosity is limited and fails to do much justice to the timeless and eternal; the stories can only suggestively point the way.

The Yoga Vasistha begins with a question put by Rishi Sutiksana to Rishi Agastya where he asks what is more conducive to liberation, work or knowledge. To this, Rishi Agastya replies that just as birds are able to fly with both wings, so also, both work and knowledge are essential for liberation.

Rishi Agastya then goes on to tell Rishi Sutiksana about an earlier dialogue on similar questions between Rama and Rishi Vasistha. This was expounded by the Rishi Valmiki who had chronicled the discussion between Rama and Rishi Vasistha for the benefit of sincere seekers aspiring after the truth.

We will continue what happened in the second part of this series.

Swami Suryadevananda, presently residing in St. Petersburg, is with the Divine Life Society founded by Sri Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh, India. He can be reached via e-mail at


American Hindus come from all parts of India and follow a wide variety of Hindu religious practices and traditions. Hence, when building a Hindu temple in the USA, it is important to blend, as much as possible, the different requirements of the Hindu communities and their styles of worship.

This is wholly in keeping with the development of Hinduism, which has embraced all forms of deities, traditions and customs. It is common to find several deities in a temple built to honor a primary (presiding) deity. The different deities represent faculties of Supreme Lord Brahman.

When a temple is built in the U.S., a whole lot of questions need to be asked: What architectural style? Which will be the primary deity? What should be the form of worship? Can we accommodate the different customs and special needs of our vast variety of members?

That was exactly what the Hindu Society (Temple) of Central Florida set out to accomplish in 2001 – build a temple based on unifying principles. “The Hindu religion believes in all different traditions and, affirmed the diversity in styles of worship, Hinduism believes in the oneness of many versions of the Divine,” said Aravind Pillai, chairman of the temple Board of Trustees. “Here in Casselberry, we have tried to bring the different Hindus and forms of Hindu worship together and form a universal place of prayer and reflection.”

Now four years later, the most impressive silhouette of the temple tells the unifying core of the design. The mixed styles of gopurams combine the different elements of Hindu temples. It is a huge complex with ornate carvings and a massive central area for worship. Different deities in the Hindu pantheon Gods are to be housed in the central portion. The Temple is ready for the Maha Kubhabhishekam – the consecration pujas based on the Vedic rituals of sanctifying the temple.

There will be several sponsorship opportunities for people to participate in pujas. They range from a “havan” for $51 to “Pradhana Kalasam” of $10,001.

The opening ceremony of our temple will be an elaborate affair involving many rituals and pujas prescribed by Vedas. Together, these rituals are called “Prathisthapana” or installation of a deity. The “Kumbabhishekam” ceremony is central to the Prathisthapana, marking the transfer of power into the idol. The idols thus prepared give a focus for prayers to the common people.

These ceremonies will be held from June 15-19 inside a huge “yagna shala,” near the temple’s north tower. We also have arranged talks by notable Swamijis, cultural programs and lots more.

About the Orlando Hindu temple

It will be 13,000 square feet. Twenty-two shilpis (artisans) have worked towards “Indianization” of the temple since November 2003. About $3.1 million are going toward the completion of the temple.

The deities will include Lord Ganesh, Balaji (with Bhudevi and Sridevi), Durga Mata, Krishna with Radha, Ram Parivar, the Navagrahas, and Shiva Linga. The gopurams above the shrines are in “Naga” (Northern Indian) style. The gopurams above the entrances and Balaji shrine are in basic “Chola” (Southern Indian) style. Some stone statues and certain carvings were brought from India.

The project mangers for the temple construction are Anil Deshpande and Dev Sharma. Muthiah Sthapati, temple architect from India, is supervising the Indianization work done by shilpis. Subhash Nadkarni of Chicago and Kishore Pathare of Orlando are the designers and architects.

For more information on the temple at 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, visit or call the temple at 407-699-5277, Aravind Pillai at 407-718-8733 or Mala Karkharnis at 407-658-6528.

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