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Emory University in US welcomes the idea of establishing Hindu Center

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Atlanta, US: The well-known Emory University in Atlanta (Georgia) has given an affirmative nod to welcome the establishment of a Hindu Center on its campus with the Hindu community coming up with the funding.

The University was founded by Methodists in 1836 and is still formally affiliated with United Methodist Church. Emory Vice President Dr Gary S Hauk wrote in an email on February 23: “We certainly would welcome a similar arrangement in which the Hindu community of Atlanta would fund the purchase and operation of a center dedicated for use by the Emory Hindu population”.

Rajan Zed, the President of Universal Society of Hinduism requested for a permanent and dedicated ‘Hindu prayer room’ in the University. In a statement in Nevada, he urged the need for a designated Hindu Center at Emory where the Hindu students and staff population will worship, perform rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise.

Zed told how the Hindu students reportedly had to perform their weekly aarthi and prayers on Fridays at Canon Chapel Sanctuary, thus, feels the establishment of a Hindu prayer room would help in their personal growth.

For this, Zed urged the Hindu community in Atlanta and Georgia to raise funds along with working with the Emory authorities towards it.

Emphasizing the importance of meeting the spiritual needs of the staff and students, Zed urged Emory authorities to provide a designated “Hindu Prayer Room” in the meantime. There have been sightings of other universities/colleges in the USA who offer a Hindu prayer room.

Emory needed to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism, Zed added.

Rajan Zed further said that Dr. Hauk hinted at developing a Hindu center on the model of Catholic, Baptist and Chabad centers present on the campus. Further conversation on the issue “would have to be undertaken by local Hindu leaders with our business administrators and the dean of the chapel”.

Apart from Catholic, Baptist and Chabad centers in the premises, Emory boasts of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church and the Marcus Hillel Center which is “dedicated to Jewish life on campus”. Halal meals are served Fridays at Cannon Chapel.

About one billion adherents come under Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, where moksha (liberation) is the ultimate goal.

There are about three million Hindus residing in the USA.

With a $1.9 billion annual operating budget, Emory University serves to a population of around 14,724 students. The University is ranked among the top in the most beautiful campuses and happiest colleges. (Inputs from merinews.com)

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)