Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Celebrate Holi - the Festival of Equality - with Colors in Motion 5k run


Holi is just around the corner on March 17th.  It is not only a fun festival filled with colors, but is also a celebration of equality. The colors equalize all and serve as a reminder that no one should be perceived as higher or lower.  Let us celebrate Holi by serving all in need equally. 

 HASC is partnering with Colors in Motion 5k run in Washington DC on April 19th to celebrate HoliFest. The Color in Motion 5k run is inspired by the festival of Holi. We invite you to participate. Use the promo-code  to get a discount; a portion of the proceeds will be donated for seva and social justice causes.  UtsavSeva (Festivals of Seva) invokes the underlying value, the spirit of equality of the Holi festival - HoliFest - to serve all.  

All donations collected for this event will be used for the following Dharmic causes: Feed the Homeless; Promote Wellness and Nutrition; Empower Women and Youth; Promote energy conservation and environment protection. Please donate generously.

Register for the event and serve the community: http://www.hinduamericanseva.org/events/color-in-motion-holifest.  Please share this announcement with your friends and family.


Contact HASC at holifest@hinduamericanseva.org with any questions you may have and with your feedback. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Utsavseva

What would our life be like without the caring love of our friends and families, the opportunity to have learned from and be loved by those who are with us or no longer with us, the support of our friends and co-workers, the freedom we enjoy because of the sacrifices of others and the beauty of nature. So many reasons to be grateful for as we celebrate the national Thanksgiving Day. So many ways to express the gratitude through seva.
As a wise Indian American guru is teaching, "For many of us, when we think of seva (service), we envision great feats, sacrifices, large philanthropic donations, and other grand gestures. While seva (service) can be all those things, seva can be much more accessible in our daily lives. Giving to others through service is simply recognizing what you do best in any given moment and offering that as a gift to someone else." We believe that this process transforms ourselves, our families and our communities and our country.

The Dharmic Hindu American community continues to work with various stakeholders on the national stage not only as an equal participant, but a veritable host to them. The community's collective hard work brought the Dharma voice and values to the forefront and shows we are successfully weaving our traditions and culture in the pluralistic tapestry of America. As New Americans we are showing our willingness to take responsibility in building our country. Seva is becoming an increasing prominent public aspect of the expression of our values.

Thanksgiving is a national Utsav. This year it adds an interfaith element as our Jewish friends and neighbors celebrate Hanukkah. Let today be another important day to share random acts of kindness and interfaith seva with generosity and joy. UtsavSeva promoted by our Dharmic American communities across the country, invokes the underlying value of the festivals through Community Service throughout the year. This month we celebrate Dhan Seva in November. Click here for seva details.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah.

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." Anne Frank

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Count My Seva! I Pledge to Vote...


Today polls are open in many states. Get your seva voice heard.  Go out and vote. If you are not registered to vote, click here to register to vote in your state.

 

Transform your seva values into action at the polls. 

You can apply your seva values of ethics, spirituality and pluralism to the political process and bring a positive social,  political, economic, health, education, geo-political change. But only if you get involved and vote.

Voting is our right to influence the direction of our country and the way political seva is conducted. We must get our vote counted and voice heard! In our tradition, seva (service as awareness of self transformation) is a key expression of our spiritual practice (sadhana). Our actions prepare us for our salvation, moksha, through inner transformation.

Our seva, for decades, has influenced the many communities we live in, work and raise our families. We have been feeding the homeless, conducting blood drives, teaching the inner city children, hosting langars, healthcamps….. positively impacting our communities in seva centers in temples, gurudwaras, satsangs, yoga studios, meditation centers, many seva organizations (not-for-profits) and interfaith destinations .
But we have not fully engaged in the civic and political process. We have not brought our transformative seva awareness, the voice of social justice to the forefront.  Pledge to Vote today.

Many of us who do seva (service as a self realization process), find we are applying the principles of our spiritual practice (sadhana) in many spheres of our lives and are transforming.  Our namaste honors Divinity within each of us.  We serve understanding the whole world is one single family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). We find our seva affecting our inner self, and see its experience of ethics in the way we work and play, what we buy, the way we treat people, and how we engage in relationships. Let’s extend that transformative awareness to the decisions we make for our schools, communities and our country.

We urge you to go and vote. Your Dharma and Values Based voting matters.  Read more at SevaVotes.org

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy Diwali: Let's Transform Ourselves, Our Communities and Our Country through UtsavSeva

This Diwali, with a grateful heart, I am rejoicing and celebrating a paradigm shift. I am jubilant that the word Seva, starting from the first conference we co-hosted, now is a prominent part of the President's vocabulary.
President Obama's 2013 Diwali message conveyed, "....Contemplation and prayer remind us that that people of all faiths have an obligation to perform seva, or service to others. And the flame of the diya, or lamp, reminds us that light will ultimately triumph over darkness..."
Together we've come a long way sevaks! In April 2009, when I joined the President's Inaugural Advisory Council, the words - Dharma and Seva - were new terms for the White House officials.
2013-11-02-homeless.pngToday we can proudly state that in a very short time, we have brought the Dharmic Seva voice of the community to the highest levels in the country - the White House. Collectively, we have succeeded in creating a national seva and social justice voice where there was none. We have demonstrated how we, Dharmic and Hindu Americans and our Traditions, strengthen America domestically and globally. The commitment to serve the people in need, as exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda, especially during festive times, comes across as UtsavSeva.
This year the message of seva was amplified at the Capitol Hill where Diwali was celebrated for the first time and our SevaVotes.org ambassador Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Ami Bera lit the lamp. Our collective Seva Voices prove we are effective Dharmic problem solvers, ready to tackle difficult tasks facing our country every step of the way.
"Service which is given without consideration of anything in return, at the right place and time to one that is qualified, with the feeling that it is one's duty, is regarded as the nature of goodness." (Bhagavad Gita 17.20)
The four White House Conferences have become a Springboard to Action to solve problems facing America. We have seen the Dharmic and Hindu community in America join other religious communities on the national stage, not only as an equal participant, but a veritable host to them.
The community's 2009 seva response to the President's "Call to Serve", resulted in the first ever community assessment report (2010) leading to obtaining the service of the first Hindu AmeriCorps VISTAs. The collective seva efforts lead to four historic Dharmic American Seva conferences at the White House.
Alluding to the first conference, in 2011, President Obama said, "This summer the White House hosted its first ever convening to promote community partnerships around seva and we have a service supporter here. Diwali, it is a time for reflection and remembrance of those in need. With so many Americans facing challenge it is important for us to remember our obligation to humanity and to one another."
UtsavSeva promoted by our Dharmic American communities across the country, invokes the spiritual values of the festivals through Community Service throughout the year. During Deepavali we celebrate Dhan Seva in November. Click here for seva details.
The very foundation of Indian civilization is based on the pluralistic acceptance embodied in the ancient perennial Vedic saying: "Ekam Sat Vipra, Bahudha Vadanti," meaning, "The Truth is One. The Realized Ones describe the One Truth in several ways". Diwali shares a special connection with American values as it exemplifies the ideals of "E Pluribus Unum," or, "out of many, one."
While the story behind Diwali varies from region to region, the essence is the same: to rejoice in the Inner Light and understand the underlying reality of all things. The spiritual meaning of Diwali is "the awareness of the inner light." At the heart, Hindu philosophy emphasizes the presence of that which is pure, infinite and eternal, which is something beyond the physical and the mind. Diwali is the celebration of the awakening and awareness of the Inner Light.
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The strength of the Dharmic culture is the multitude of ways in which the Puranic (ancient traditional) stories and epics are brought to life through colorful festivals and selfless service (seva). These stories and epics bring to surface the deep philosophical truths of the ancient Hindu scriptures, known as the Vedas. The Festivals often express the common Vedic tenets of Hinduism, and of other Dharmic cultures, making them accessible to people from all walks of life.
A festival is a joyful synthesis and expression of spirituality, religion, philosophy, culture, service and social values. The spiritual aspect is founded on the human instincts of joy and happiness. The philosophical aspect is grounded in the struggle between the forces of good and evil with the ultimate triumph of the former. This struggle and ensuing victory of good is to be celebrated and used as a reminder to us, and future generations, that selfless service and giving are an interwoven part of the traditions.
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Festivals form a lifeline that binds the Hindu and Dharmic cultures to family, the community and to the country where they reside. Festivals connect and bring people together in camaraderie and service. Hindu festivals also reflect and sustain the underlying pluralistic values for diverse people to co-exist harmoniously.
Festivals are also a time to donate and help those in need. Seva during Diwali means bringing in light, especially in the life of those less fortunate than us. Diwali unifies every religion, every home and every heart, and India transcends into a land of myriad lamps. Here in America, we are continuing this celebration marking it as a unifying pluralistic festival advancing community service and sharing of common values of pluralism and collaboration.
We hope as you celebrate and share the message of Diwali, the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, with your friends, family and neighbors, you will be inspired to help those who need. You will bring UtsavSeva to action!
We wish you a very Happy Diwali and a New Year filled with health, happiness, peace, prosperity and seva this festive utsav. With grateful hearts we thank you for your support and blessings.
Namaste and Shubh Kamnaye

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Strengthening Shakti Through Ganesha Principles

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anju-bhargava/shakti-ganesha_b_3896819.html
Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Founder, Hindu American Seva Communities

Strengthening Shakti Through Ganesha Principles

Posted: 09/11/2013 9:34 am


The Vedic Hindu statement -- Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah states Non-violence is the foremost duty to the extent that it supersedes all other duties. On this 9/11 national day of remembrance let us pray that obstacles to the path of peace and social justice dissolve in thelight of knowledge. Let our service projects bring awareness of all the myriad issues we are dealing with.
This week, I along with millions of Hindus, observed Ganesh Chaturthi, through prayers, as a day of birth and renewed remembrance of Ganapati principles, the remover of obstacles. In this iconic image, the divine is seen as the leader of senses and the message is that by controlling our mind we transform ourselves. As the inner self gets strengthened obstacles in the outer realm melt away.
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Holding those ideals I prepare to face an obstacle in front of me, as today, I saw ignorance in full display. I saw my sacred feminine icons of strength, icons whose stories inspire nobler aspects in me "artistically" shown as victims of domestic violence. To me it seemed someone had abused my own inner archetype as these are images that I relate to and identify with. I felt defiled.
I wondered how are these mutilated images making Hindus in India or abroad, stronger in dealing with abusive behaviour? These images project powerlessness of Hindu psyche. Instead of learning about the strength that these images portray, they are projecting victimization.
For me, the Shakti principle is the the innate strength of a woman, not an image of victimization. Nor an object or deitification nor perverse desire.
As an empowered Hindu American I asked myself what can I do transform this into apositive action? How can I reduce the social injustices impacting women not only in the Hindu community, but almost all communities across globe?
As I have understood, Hindus see the divine in everyone. Perpetuating domestic violence certainly is not in Vedic Hindu philosophy.
I want to believe that the organizers of that negative campaign had good intentions and a desire to bring change and an awareness of the problem. I am curious why focus only on the Hindu community, when India is a secular country with all faiths represented?
From a Hindu viewpoint, I can understand the dichotomy that they must feel. Here are the Hindus who have a culture in which women are honored, they are treated as goddesses, they are feminine icons of wealth (Lakshmi), tremendous strength and courage (Durga), and sustenance and knowledge (Saraswati), but in the society we see a social injustice gap.
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So the question arises. How can people, including Hindus who come from a culture of such noble thoughts, treat women in this lowly and baser fashion? Why is society not reflecting Dharmic values? How do we change behavior?
I believe change comes from within our communities and Hindus, people of Dharmic traditions, are united against domestic violence. I see this unity cutting across all practicing Hindus, whether they are the most orthodox and conservative or the most progressive or even the "secular" Hindus.
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We don't need images denigrating our sacred icons to remind us that domestic violence and other aspects of social injustice are adharmic (against our religion).
What we need is to understand the strength of our culture. We need to educate and empower ourselves - to not only understand the innate divinity in each other - but also the true inner meaning of our own sacred icons. We need to imbibe the meaning and live up to the higher nobler values. We then transform ourselves and are empowered to bring a change in the external behavior.
We need to bring education of higher values into the education system globally. Here in America, the Dharmic community will address ways of dealing with social injustice issues such as domestic violence and human trafficking at our 4th annual Seva conference cohosted with the White House - Transforming Ourselves, Our Communities, Our Country.
As we celebrate the interfaith social justice message of Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary across the globe, including the White House, let us contemplate on his message ...
2013-09-10-swamivivekananda.jpg Swami Vivekananda said: "...On The Basis Of Being Right and Doing Right - The Whole World Can Unite...Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them..."
To bring change I feel we should take a pledge to augment the festivals with a call to action against social injustice. Festivals of Service (UtsavSeva) is community service augmenting the spirit of Hindu festivals through seva events organized during this time and connecting them with the cultural heritage.
Let us educate ourselves and see our goddesses as our ancient rishis intended them to be seen - as icons of strength not of victimization, as symbols bringing the ancient Vedic teaching to life.
This festival season, as part of 9/11 day of service and especially during Navatri, let us invoke the Shakti consciousness and during Diwali enlighten the world through knowledge and right action.
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Follow Anju Bhargava on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hindusevausa

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What great leaders and sayings have inspired you?

As we prepare for our next National Seva Conference with the White House and celebrate Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary we wondered what great leaders and sayings have inspired you, the Next Generation Seva Leader? As Rg Veda says let good thoughts come from all directions. The following are 9 notable quotes which have inspired us:
·         “When an idea exclusively occupies the mind, it is transformed into an actual physical or mental state. Swami Vivekananda 
·         “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie
·         "There are only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is." – Albert Einstein
·         "Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best." – Andrew Carnegie
·         "The true measure of a person is how they treat someone who can do him absolutely no good." – Samuel Johnson
·         "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there." – Yogi Berra
·         “Expect more than others think possible.” – Howard Schultz
·         "If people aren't calling you crazy, you aren't thinking big enough." – Richard Branson
·         “Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill
What great leaders and sayings have inspired you?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Application open for National Seva Conference co-hosted with the White House on September 27, 2013

Announcement                                                                                                                                            August 18, 2012
Media Contact: Dr.Ved Chaudhary  ved@hinduamericanseva.org (732-853-2666)
 Dr.Siva Subramanian siva@hinduamericanseva.org (301-983-9699)

White House and Hindu American Seva Communities cohost 2013 National Seva Conference
Dharmic Seva: Transforming Our Self, Our Community, Our Country*
Application open now until September 6th 2013.  Conference Date -September 27th 2013

Washington, D.C. August 20, 2013. On this auspicious week of Rakshbandhan where we tie bonds of friendship and protection, Hindu American Seva Communities (HASC) announces it is open to accepting application for the fourth annual conference, “Dharmic Seva: Transforming Our Self, Our Community, Our Country*”, in the nation’s capital on Septmber 27th to promote seva and civic engagement to address social justice issues.  Join us this September and be a part of our transformative journey! 

HASC is co-hosting the conference and the briefing with the White House Office of Public Engagement on September 27th, 2013 celebrating an inside-out approach to development through seva and tradition.  *The conference theme is inspired by Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) on his 150th birth anniversary; the first Hindu monk who came to America in 1893.

 “Even the Least Work Done for Others Awakens the Power Within, Gradually Instills Into the Heart the Strength of a Lion…….Arise, Awake, and Stop Not Until the Goal is Achieved…” Swami Vivekananda
Seva is an important part of our Dharma and sadhana (spiritual practice).  We hope with this understanding, the participants will use seva to alleviate current social justice issues.  Faith plays a significant role in the political landscape and moral values provide a common ground for diverse communities to come together to develop solutions.

The inspired conference will focus on self-transformation leadership, youth, women, environment, strengthening of our community, places of worship and country through global Diaspora engagement:

Swami Vivekananda said: “…On The Basis Of Being Right and Doing Right - The Whole World Can Unite…
…It Is Our Privilege To Be Allowed To Be Charitable, For Only So Can We Grow…
..My Faith Is In the Younger Generation, Out Of Them Will Come My Workers. They Will Work Out The Whole Problem…
…The Earth is enjoyed by Heroes...
...
Come Out Into The Universe Of Light. Everything In The Universe Is Yours, Stretch Out Your Arms And Embrace It With Love...
..The Uplift Of The Women, The Awakening Of Masses Must Come First, And Then Only Can Real Good Come About...
...Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them…”
-

HASC invites the community to participate in the conference and the briefing.  We request you to send your statement of interest (500 - 750 words).  We will give priority to students and invite them to be part of the Next Generation Seva Leaders (NGSL) program.   With your ideas, you can be a change maker, be part of growing the seva movement and play a role in America valuing the talents of its diverse faiths and pluralistic, multicultural communities.


We invite you to visit HASC website for details, and click here to complete your statement of interest by Sept 6th, 2012.  This program is open to all. Contact us at seva2013@hinduamericanseva.orgwith any questions you may have.