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

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 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.

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.
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