Yogi to the Stars Dies: Should Western Yoga Die Too

B.K.S. Iyengar died last week.  He was 95.He was the Hindu yogi who helped popularize yoga in the West. He taught some of the greatest stars of the 20th century, including  the writer Aldous Huxley, designer Donna Karan, actress Annette Benning,  and Bollywood star, Kareena Kapoor, to name just a few.According to the New York Times, "Mr. Iyengar’s practice is characterized by long asanas, or postures, that require extraordinary will and discipline. A reporter who watched daily practice in … [Read more...]

Sanskrit Tries to Make a Comeback But…

Schools across India recently spent a week learning Sanskrit, India's ancient language, with ties to early Indian culture and  Hinduism. But not all Indians are happy with this new focus on Sanskrit, mandated by the government elected this spring. Tamils are the most vocal opponents.  According to BBC News, "the Tamil language is not derived from Sanskrit and many ...see it as a move by Hindu nationalists to impose their culture on religious and linguistic minorities." The government denies th … [Read more...]

Hindu India: New Documentary

Teaching Hinduism?  The Himalayan Academy, which publishes Hinduism Today magazine, just released a new 23 minute documentary about the origins and features of Hinduism. It is ideal for both world history students and religion students. The documentary is engaging and includes great photography. It's divided into five short parts: origins, sacred texts, Hindu society,  beliefs and practices, and finally, festivals. One way the film engages students is by juxtaposing ancient beliefs and ritual w … [Read more...]

Searching for Spirituality in India: Gurus, Swamis, & Yogis

Studying Hinduism? Want to show your students a glimpse of the spiritual nature of India's holy cities?These cities are a colorful mix of seekers searching for meaning from gurus, astrologers, swamis, and yogis.CNN's Jessica Ravitz spent two weeks in the holy city of Rishikesh along the Ganges River on what she calls, "a personal mission: to write about this place and what it means to those who flock here."The result is a colorful and fascinating feature story called  Indian Aw … [Read more...]

Hinduism & the Aryan Invasion

Did Aryans invade the Indus River Valley and impose a rigid social hierarchy based on occupation, called the caste system?Murali Balaji, Director of Education and Curriculum Reform for the Hindu American Foundation, argues that they did not. In an essay for the Huffington Post, Balaji says that these claims are false, and says “that they've become so entrenched in textbook depictions that it could take years to revise and rectify the overall narrative on Hinduism.”Balaji believes tha … [Read more...]

The Ganges River: Soiled & Sacred, Now Political

Cleaning the sacred Ganges River is now at the center of the big Indian election campaign, the results of which will be announced on Friday, according to this fascinating story in the New York Times.  Hindus believe that they can escape the cycle of rebirth if their dead bodies are burned on the edges of the Ganges River. But now, the river itself is in need of rebirth. According to one environmental scientist, "the stench along the uneven cobblestone steps in parts of Varanasi is … [Read more...]

Varanasi: City of Light and Death

Here is a fascinating and touching story about Varanasi, the most sacred place for devout Hindus. One of the things that makes it so sacred is that it is a destination for many dying Hindus who believe that they can only reach moksha, or freedom from the cycle of rebirth, by taking God's name and dying in the holy city.Moni Basu, a practicing Hindu and a reporter for CNN, follows an 80 year old Hindu who wants to take his last breath in the city of Varanasi.  That city is what Basu calls the … [Read more...]