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Faith & Worship

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FESTIVALS THIS MONTH:

NOVEMBER 1: DIWALI

NOVEMBER 4: ID-UL-FITR (END OF RAMADAN)

NOVEMBER 15: GURU NANAK’S BIRTHDAY

NOVEMBER 24: GURU TEGH BAHADUR’S MARTYRDOM DAY


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.

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 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.

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


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.



RELIGION: EID
EID AL-FITR TO BE CELEBRATED THIS MONTH
By NAEEM ABRAHANI

Muslims have two major celebrations in the year. Both are called Eid (meaning celebration). Eid Al-Fitr, or the Celebration of Breaking Fast, marks the end of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month of fasting, every day from dawn until sunset. The Islamic Calendar follows the moon and so each year; the dates are shifted forward by about 11 days. In the normal calendar. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year.

What it is

Eid Al-Fitr is all about celebrating the good things that we have received, God's (Allah's) bounty and our family and friends. Every household who can afford it must pay a form of tax in the days leading up to Eid. It is a very small amount, and is paid for each person in the family. Traditionally the tax was in the form of food, although most people now give the equivalent in money. The money or food is given to poor people, so that they can celebrate Eid, as well.

The Celebration

Many people decorate their houses for Eid. This is rather an odd thing, since no-one is sure when Eid is, until the appearance of the new moon, and so decorations are put up very late on the last days of the month.

On the morning of Eid, everyone gets up very early to go to the prayers. People are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new if possible, and to attend a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation at mosques. Children are normally given gifts or money. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconciliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid.



HINDU UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA SPONSORS 16TH VEDANTA CONGRESS IN ORLANDO


The Vedanta Congress at the Hindu University of America in Orlando was well-attended.
STORY PROVIDED BY HINDU UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA

Philosophers from around the world gathered October 13-15 in Orlando for the 16th Vedanta Congress sponsored by the Hindu University of America. This was the first time the conference on Vedanta Philosophy was held outside of its traditional setting in Oxford, Ohio. Not to be deterred by recent hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the presenters from the U.S., Canada, India, Guam, South Africa and Europe provided a diversity of presentations and papers during the three-day event.

The brainchild of S.S. Rama Rao Pappu, Miami University, Ohio, the conference raised eyebrows and debate on such intriguing topics as “Freewill and Moral Agency in Hinduism: Prolegomena,” “Monotheism: The Unsurpassed Scourge and Scandal,” “A Dilemma of Transcendence in Advaita Vedanta,” and “Contemporary Social Imagination of Vedanta,” just to name a few.

“It was an exceptionally stimulating and edifying conference,” said Hope Fitz, Eastern Connecticut State University. “The group interaction with multiple scholars proved a dynamic catalyst for greater personal insight into the study of the Vedas.”

Professor Sarada Purna Sonty of the PS Telugu University at Chicago’s Outreach Center said, “The seminar opened up so many possibilities for interactions among different disciplines putting forth the most ordinary and extraordinary dimensions of thoughts. It brought together specialists of many domains and cultures compressing complex issues in to meaningful wholes.”

Arthur Herman, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was honored for his lifelong contributions to Indian Thought. The author of numerous books and countless papers presented a paper on “How Early Hinduism has Influenced Early Christianity.”

Also that evening, the Indological Research Foundation based in Bangalore, presented a Certificate of Global Honor and Deep Appreciation to Braham R. Aggarwal, chairman, board of directors of Hindu University of America, and to Professor Pappu.

Aggarwal was recognized for his dedicated and selfless service to the cause of Hinduism and education (both primary and higher education) at the global level. Professor Pappu was honored for having recognized his remarkable service in propagating and promoting the Vedanta Philosophy at the global level in the last three decades.

The Hindu University of America arranged several cultural programs during the weekend, including a musical performance by artists Pandit Nandkishor Muley, M. Harre Harren and Ram Krishnan, a visit to the Hindu Society of Central Florida’s Casselberry Temple, and viewing of the soul-stirring movie “Mystic India.” For details of the program, contact The Hindu University of America at 407-275-0013 or jadeine@hindu-university.edu or click on www.hindu-university.edu



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



Swami Suryadevananda
THE STORY OF SUKA We have now entered the second section or book in the Yoga Vasistha. After Lord Rama has expressed the doubts in his understanding, Rishi Vishvamitra commended Rama for his observations. However, the beloved sage believed that his wisdom needed clarity and confirmation just as did Suka, the born sage and son of the great sage Vyasa did a long time ago.

Suka was a sage from birth since he was born with discriminative understanding and wisdom. Still at a tender age, he happened to see his father by himself one day and asked some questions regarding the commotion in the world, how it had arisen, how it may subside, the cause of the world, how far it extended and where it was to end. Sage Vyasa answered the questions in detail.

Suka was not quite satisfied as he felt that these things he already knew. His wise father understood Suka’s feelings. He suggested that Suka visit King Janaka who was the wisest among the wise, who knew all that was to know and lived in a nearby city called Videha.

King Janaka immediately understood that Suka had come seeking knowledge but also was aware that there was nothing that he could teach Suka, who knew everything from birth. He did not respond to the guard’s repeated informing till the seventh day, when he ordered Suka to be taken to the outer compound where he was kept for seven more days. Next, Janaka had Suka moved to the inner quarters for another week without seeing him.

In these inner quarters, Janaka ensured that Suka was provided with abundant good food, delicacies of every kind, dancing girls for entertainment and every extravagance that could be given to a royal guest.

Suka was unmoved by any of this and simply stood where he was brought to with one and only one thought in his mind -- that he had come to have audience with King Janaka who was renowned for his wisdom and to know what had to be known. He was oblivious to all the temptations and distractions that were being poured upon him lavishly and was in a state of contentment, affixed on the purpose that brought him to Videha.

Janaka realized that Suka was unalterable and of steady disposition. Suka was sent for and Janaka asked Suka the purpose of his visit. Suka posed the same questions that he had asked to his father earlier. The wise King Janaka answered all the questions with the same answers that sage Vyasa had provided earlier.

Suka informed Janaka that these he already knew from his own intuition and that the very same answers were provided by his father earlier. He had come a long way to learnt more to which Janaka, a former student of sage Vyasa, replied that there was nothing more to be known from what he realized intuitively.

Suka listened to all this with modesty and humility and stood there for some time, letting the words of Janaka soak in. Thanking King Janaka, he took his leave and left for a peaceful summit to achieve final absorption. There, he spent many years in deep meditation till he attained to the Highest and sank into the Supreme Being as waters merge into the ocean.

There are many valuable lessons to be learned in this story.

It is hard to teach those who are close to you or related to you in some way. This is especially true in the imparting of education of the Highest, where a relationship is needed between the one imparting the knowledge and the one receiving the knowledge so the flow of this knowledge is possible. This is the reason that in the old days, students stayed with the teacher as soon as they were ready for learning and were first made prepared for this transfer of knowledge by a complete external and internal adjustment.

Even if one feels that something is known intuitively, there is still a need for confirmation of this knowledge by others. Here, I am not talking about getting the back slapped with bravos but in hearing from others who also are authority in the field that what you seem to know is on track with what is sought to be known. The mind plays wonderful tricks and it can confirm errors also quite expertly.

The seeking confirmation from experts and those established in the field is good prevention against the blind axe of the mind’s confirming authority.

The determination and fixity in the mind of Suka is a lesson for all spiritual seekers as the spiritual path is just like the treatment that he was subject to. First, he was made to stand outside for seven days but he was not shaken by this treatment. Then, there were the temptations that were poured upon him to which he remained indifferent with his mind set focused on the purpose of the visit. There were no lines of fallback that he drew in his mind if what he was seeking was not seen as tenable.

This is a valuable lesson in the leach like tenacity which is an absolute requirement for success in spiritual life as also with any endeavor undertaken if success is desired. We must be clear about what it is that we are seeking, the end state and never let that image fade from the crosshairs of our mind.

Ultimately, to know is to be, say the Upanishads. Living is knowing and your life is a testimony to that which you know. The ideas you may be familiar with mean little if how you live is contrary to all that you may claim to know intellectually.

Knowledge is living and breathing and we have to become that which is known for the cycle to be complete and to really ‘know.’ Just as food becomes your body when eaten and digested, what we know as to become us. Assimilating is the learning process and then there is absorption, becoming one with that which we know and only knowledge remains.

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 suryadevananda@gmail.com.





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