SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1998                                                  THE BLADE                                                                           PAGE 12


Swami form India known for ability to make religion relevant to

 contemporary life

Hindu holy man gives down-to- earth advice




            Hinduism’s roots may be 5,000 years deep, but for a monk who visited the Hindu Temple here last week and this week, the religion has a rich relevance to modern life with benefits for the business world, the home, and society.

             Swami Adhyatmanandaji Maharaj, who was at the Hindu Temple and Heritage Hall on King Road for a series of classes and discourses that ended Sunday, is known for his ability to make Hinduism, a religion that teaches there is one God in many forms, practical and down-to-earth, said Dr. Bharat Naik of the Chicago-based Spiritual Life Foundation, a non­profit organization formed by devotees of Swami Adhyatmanandaji to facili­tate his visits to the U.S. and Canada. Toledo is the second stop on his latest North American tour, which includes appearances in Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto, Detroit, and Chica­go.

             “He talks about daily living more than abstract ideas and gives you something you can use immediately,” Dr. Naik said. In India, Swami Adhyatmanandaji, whose title means “Lord” and reflects honor and education, is credited with bringing about a spiritual awakening through his teachings. Although he is highly regarded as a Hindu holy man to whom miracles have been attrib­uted, his expertise is demonstrating that the Hindu scriptures, yoga, and ancient Indian wisdom are not theo­retical and archaic, but practical and relevant for every aspect of daily activ­ity.

             In August, Swami Adhyatmanandaji addressed more than 1,500 executives, industrialists, and professionals from all over India at the Ahmedabad  Management Association, in Ahmedabad, India. He also is said to have helped salvage many young people from drug addic­tion by helping them find a higher meaning and purpose in their lives. He speaks on topics as diverse as “Management Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita”; how Krishna, an in-carnation of the central Hindu God, Vishnu, can be a role model for leader­ship and crisis management; how Yoga can be used to attain peace, power, and prosperity, and how prac­ticing kaizen, the principle of continu­ous incremental progress, can help one achieve excellence in the workplace and in the family.

         During a session at the Hindu Tem­ple last Saturday morning for children and a second one for adults on raising a family, Swami Adhyatmanandaji employed­ simple songs, humor, and seri­ous instruction drawn from common-sense principles to advance his ideas. Perched on a large cushion and with 14 children seated in front of him on the floor of the temple, Swami Adhyat­manandaji sang a song that might have been heard in a Christian Sunday school: “Wise man build him house upon a rock, rains come down and floods come up, house upon the rock stand strong.”

         His directives to the children, also reinforced with song, were simple and sensible: get up early, take a shower, go to school, study well, concentrate, read good books. He began his teaching to the adults with a song that outlined more than a dozen “ities” that he said comprise the gist of Hindu teaching and, with prac­tice, will lead to the attainment of immortality. Among them were sereni­ty, regularity, absence of vanity, sincer­ity, simplicity, equanimity, adaptability, humility, tenacity, integrity, nobility, magnanimity, charity, and generosity.

         The 54-year-old teacher, who has no wife, children, or home of his own, mentioned many of those later as he discussed what leads to harmony in family life. For instance, he said, the three ob­stacles to raising a good family are desire or lust, anger, and greed. To raise a family, he went on, self-disci­pline, social discipline, and discipline of the senses and mind are required.

         Referring to an article he had read in an airline magazine on his way to Toledo about a teenage boy who killed three people and injured others in a school shooting, he asked, “Why is this happening? Why are teen boys holding guns in their hands? What is the cause?”  He said he believes many children are leaving empty houses when they go to school and returning to empty houses when the come home. “They can’t talk to a wall,” he said. “...They want a kind word.”

         Swami Adhyatmanandaji said mod­ern parents have given many things to their children, “but we have not given life to our children.”  Raising a family, he said, is not having good carpeting or a TV in every room. “This is not raising a family Raising a family is how much love we are having for each other.” Swami Adhyatmananda also said ego is a barrier to raising a family. “Each person makes a family, makes a nation, each nation makes the world.”  Thus, he said, an individual person can destroy the world with his or her ego. “Empty thyself,” he said, “Be liberal in giving, not taking. The more you give to the world, the more it gives to you. Happiness cannot come unless you give happiness and you cannot give unless you sacrifice.”

         “Swami Adhyatmanandaji, who rises at 4 a.m. daily, said the head of the family should lead a disciplined life, getting up early each day to meditate. This will model the proper behavior for the younger members of the household, he said. And, he went on, the head of the family should constantly check his habits, his behavior, how he moves, what he does, and how he speaks and behaves. “You can’t raise a family in an easy, vagabond way.” Although Swami Adhyatmanandaji advocates order and discipline in the household, he cautioned against condemning children and said they always should be corrected privately. He also reminded adults that they can learn a lot from children. And, he urged them to take an interest in their children’s lives. “Don’t just say hello to them. Sit next to them. Find out who are their friends, where they are going, what they are reading.” Parents also should know, he said, what their children are accessing on the computer. “Have confidence in them and let them have confidence in you. When they feel you exist for them, they will consult with you.”