All about the Hanuman Chalisa
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All about the Hanuman Chalisa

By April 14, 2022 March 28th, 2023 No Comments

“Basdeo Panday, Trinidad’s first Hindu Prime Minister, charmed the massive 50,000 person crowd at January’s ‘Puja 2000,’ when he burst into a popular Hindu song to Lord Hanuman… Never before has a Prime Minister even attempted to pray with the Hindu community in such a real and emotional manner. By the second verse the crowd joined in. As the Prime Minister shouted at the end ‘Prem se bolo, Hanuman Ki Jai’ [‘Sing with love, Hail to Hanuman’] the crowd of thousands joined with him in a single voice that would have been heard for miles away…”

Over the centuries, Hindu saints have produced a multitude of devotional compositions, all of which have brought some level of love and joy to the hearts of countless who have basked in the stirring strains of their divine lyrics.

Yet, there’s something about the 40-verse ode to Hanuman that especially resonates with devotees, as so vividly conveyed in Hinduism Today’s account of Trinidad and Tobago’s elated crowd of chanters.

Echoing the voices of their ancestors, who found solace in the Chalisa when they were first brought to the island to toil in subhuman conditions under an oppressive system of indentureship, you can imagine how they must have sounded in that moment, a moment that can only be described as a most unique and powerful expression of Hindu spirituality.

To fully understand the depth of this moment, one must understand the Chalisa, and to properly understand the Chalisa, one must learn of its author — the famed Hindu poet, Tulsidas — and how he came to write it.

Born roughly 500 years ago in India’s Gangetic plains, Tulsidas himself was no stranger to hardship. While he is said to have miraculously uttered the words “Rama, Rama!,” at the time of his birth, as if declaring to the world the auspiciousness of his ultimate life’s purpose, his parents abandoned him anyway, when his horoscope revealed he would be a harbinger of misfortune.

Though raised thereafter by a family nurse, she died when he was just a child, an event that spurred him to look for his parents with hopes they would take him back. Discovering, however, that they too had already died, he was left to fend for himself, and so began living as a wandering beggar.

Noticing Tulsidas’ cleverness and impressed by his natural talent for language, Naraharidas, a devotee of the Ramananda tradition, took the young boy under his wing, initiating him as his disciple, and narrating to him his first ever hearing of the Ramayana.

Thus cultivating the seed of devotion to Rama that seemed to inherently exist in the young boy, Naraharidas bestowed his blessings on Tulsidas, who later went to the sacred city of Varanasi, where he received an education in philosophy, Sanskrit grammar, and the regional language, Awadhi.

Despite such erudition, several accounts say that after Tulsidas got married, he became so fond of his wife Ratnavali, that he was actually unhinged in his passion for her.

Once, when he returned home from a trip, he wanted nothing more than her amorous embrace, but could not fulfill his desire because of a violent storm that made it unsafe for her to cross the river from her mother’s house, where she was staying while he was away.

Unwilling to wait until the next day, Tulsidas, in the middle of the night, dove into the river, grabbing a floating log to help him against the turbulent waters. Barely making it to the other side, he swiftly jumped onto the banks and ran to his mother-in-law’s house in an uncontrolled frenzy.

When Ratnavali saw Tulsidas in his maddened condition and discovered what he had done, rather than share his amorous enthusiasm, she became horrified and embarrassed by his actions.

Concerned not only for his reputation, but his overall spiritual welfare, she immediately scolded him, exclaiming that if he had even half the amount of devotion for Rama that he had for her body, he would be a fully realized saint by now.

Stricken by her chastisement, Tulsidas left the home in a pensive state, and began making his way back to the river. Upon reaching the bank from which he came, he suddenly understood, to his horror, that the log he used to help him cross the stormy waters was actually a corpse.

At that instance, as the first light of dawn appeared in the sky, revealing in stark fashion how truly blinded by lust he was, a new kind of light emerged from within Tulsidas, revealing, more clearly than ever before, the real spiritual purpose of his life.

Resolving there and then to re-dedicate his life to Rama, Tulsidas began living as an ascetic, traveling from one place to the next, yearning for the sight of his beloved deity, just as he once yearned for his wife’s.

One day, while offering water to a tree, a ghost occupying the space appeared before Tulsidas, wanting to give him a boon for having quenched his thirst. With only one goal in mind, Tulsidas instantly stated his desire to see Rama, to which the ghost responded that only Hanuman, Rama’s most loyal servant, could fulfill such a wish.

It just so happened, the ghost told Tulsidas, that Hanuman, disguised as a leper, attended the public narrations of Rama regularly given in Varanasi. If Tulsidas could somehow gain his favor, then perhaps the famed vanara (the race of intelligent monkey warriors Hanuman belonged to) would be willing to help.

Losing no time in heeding the ghost’s advice, the next day Tulsidas went to the purported spot of the narrations, and immediately took notice of an old leper listening attentively near the back of the audience.

As the narrations came to a close, Tulsidas quietly followed the leper into the woods, after which he made himself known and fell at his feet, begging for the chance to see Rama. 

First feigning ignorance, the leper was eventually won over by Tulsidas’ persistence, and subsequently revealed his true form as Hanuman. Pleased by Tulsidas’ devotion, Hanuman told him to go to the city of Chitrakuta, where he would be able to see Rama with his own eyes.

Following Hanuman’s instructions, Tulsidas moved to Chitrakuta, where he indeed had two visions of Rama — one of him and his brother Lakshman on horseback, and another in which Rama appeared to him as a young boy.

Enraptured by these visions, Tulsidas became inspired to compose his own telling of the Ramayana, and became even more inspired when Shiva and Parvati came to him in a dream, ordering him to write it in the local Awadhi language, so that the story could be easily accessible to all sections of society, not just those who were adept in Sanskrit.

Taking on the challenge with enthusiasm and vigor, his version, known as the Ramacharitmanas (“Lake of the Deeds of Rama”), was an enormous success. As the years rolled by and its popularity grew, so did the reputation of his own spiritual potency, with many claiming he could even bring the dead back to life through the mere sound of his poetry.

Hearing of such tales, Mughal emperor Akbar ordered Tulsidas to appear at his court in Agra. Though, by this time, the saint had grown quite old and had been suffering a myriad of health problems, including joint pains and boils on his body, he could not refuse the call of the emperor, and so reluctantly made the trip.

At court, Akbar demanded Tulsidas show him some of the miracles he had been hearing about. The saint, however, said he was no sorcerer, but a simple poet and devotee of Rama, who was the true worker of miracles. Falsely perceiving Tulsidas’ humility as an outright act of defiance, the emperor had him thrown in jail.

It was in this jail that the culmination of Tulsidas’ spiritual evolution manifested in a most amazing way. Rather than appeal to any sort of external forces for the solution to what was perhaps his most vulnerable moment, as he once would have done, he turned inward, composing the Hanuman Chalisa.

And why did he, a self-proclaimed devotee of Rama, pray to Hanuman during possibly his darkest hour, rather than Rama himself?

On a personal level, it was Hanuman who enabled him to see Rama. By Hanuman’s compassion, Tulsidas was able to deepen his relationship with Rama to a point he could not have imagined, so it was through his gratitude to Hanuman he felt most intimately connected to his cherished deity.

On a more general level, however, Hanuman, as Rama’s most loyal devotee, is his most empowered servant, described as being the perfect combination of bal (strength), buddhi (intelligence), and vidya (wisdom), who can remove obstructions to success in any endeavor.

And for those endeavoring to turn inward and deepen their connection to his beloved Rama, he helps them all the more, especially when they call to him with a sincerity that often only manifests when a person feels particularly helpless.

Akbar laid witness to this truth himself, for after Tulsidas completed 40 days of praise to Hanuman from the prison, an army of monkeys descended on the city, wreaking havoc in the palace, the bazaar, and people’s homes, forcing the emperor to apologize profusely to the saint and set him free.

Though an army of monkeys may not come to the rescue of those who recite the devotional poem today, the Chalisa still contains the ability to set any person free.

This freedom is experienced in a most unique and powerful moment of Hindu spirituality, when we reach out to the Divine in our darkest hour, and experience the intelligence, wisdom, and strength of a higher power that assures us we are of a spiritual nature that is beyond the struggles of this world.

This is the true miracle Akbar should have been looking for, a miracle Tulsidas displayed through the journey of his own life, and a miracle that can be perceived by any who recite the Chalisa with the right intention.

Hanuman Chalisa provided by

Hanuman Chalisa

Having polished the mirror of my heart with the dust of my Guru’s lotus feet, I recite the divine fame of the greatest king of Raghukul dynasty, which bestows us with the fruit of all the four efforts.

Knowing that this mind of mine has less intelligence, I remember the “Son of Wind” who, granting me strength, wisdom and all kinds of knowledge, removes all my suffering and shortcomings.

Victory to Lord Hanuman, the ocean of wisdom and virtue. Victory to the Lord who is supreme among the monkeys, illuminator of the three worlds.

You are Lord Rama’s emissary,‌ the abode of matchless power, Mother Anjani’s son and also popular as the “Son of the Wind.”

Great hero, you are as mighty as a thunderbolt. you remove evil intellect and are the companion of those having good ones.

Your skin is golden in color and you are adorned with beautiful clothes. you have adorning earrings in your ears and your hair is curly and thick.

In your hands, shine a mace and a flag of righteousness. A sacred thread adorns your right shoulder.

You are the embodiment of Lord Shiva and vanar-raj Kesari’s son. There is no limit or end to your glory, your magnificence. The whole universe worships you.

You are the wisest of the wise, virtuous and (morally) clever. You are always eager to do Lord Rama’s works.

You feel extremely delighted in listening to Lord Rama’s doings and conduct. Lord Rama, Mother Sita, and Lord Laxmana dwell forever in your heart.

Taking the subtle form, you appeared in front of Mother Sita. And, taking the formidable form, you burnt the Lanka (Ravana’s kingdom).

Taking the massive form (like that of Bheema), you slaughtered the demons. This is how, you completed Lord Rama’s tasks, successfully.

Bringing the magic-herb (sanjivani), you revived Lord Laxmana.

Raghupati, Lord Rama praised you greatly and overflowing in gratitude, said that you are a dear brother to him just as Bharat is.

Saying this, Lord Rama drew you to himself and embraced you. Sages like Sanaka, Gods like Brahma and sages like Narada and even the thousand-mouthed serpent sing your fame!

Sanak, Sanandan and the other Rishis and great saints; Brahma – the god, Narada, Saraswati – the Mother Divine and the King of serpents sing your glory.

Yama, Kubera and the guardians of the four quarters; poets and scholars – none can express your glory.

You helped Sugriva by introducing him to Lord Rama and regaining his crown. Therefore, you gave him the Kingship (the dignity of being called a king).

Likewise, complying with your preachings, even Vibhishana became the King of Lanka.

You swallowed the sun, located thousands of miles away, mistaking it to be a sweet, red fruit!

Keeping the ring in your mouth, which was given to you by Lord Rama, you crossed over the ocean, to no astonishment, whatsoever.

All difficult tasks of this world become easy, with your grace.

You are the guardian at Lord Rama’s door. Nobody can move forward without your permission which means that Lord Rama’s darshans (to get the sight of) are possible only with your blessings.

Those who take refuge in you, find all the comforts and happiness. When we have a protector like you, we do not need to get scared of anybody or anything.

You alone can withstand your magnificence. All the three worlds start trembling at one roar of yours.

O Mahaveer! No ghosts or evil spirits come near the ones who remember your name. Therefore, just remembering your name does everything!

O Hanuman! All diseases and all kinds of pain get eradicated when one recites or chants your name. Therefore, chanting your name regularly is considered to be very significant.

Whoever meditates upon or worships you with thought, word, and deed, gets freedom from all kinds of crisis and affliction.

Lord Rama is the greatest ascetic amongst all the kings. But, it’s only you who carried out all the tasks of Lord Sri Rama.

One who comes to you with any longing or a sincere desire obtains the abundance of the manifested fruit, which remains undying throughout life.

Your splendor fills all the four ages. And, your glory is renowned throughout the world.

You are the guardian of saints and sages; the destroyer of demons and adored by Lord Rama.

You have been blessed by Mother Janaki to give boon further, to the deserving ones, wherein you can grant the siddhis (eight different powers) and the nidhis (nine different kinds of wealth).

You have the essence of Ram bhakti, may you always remain the humble and devoted servant of Raghupati.

When one sings your praise, your name, he gets to meet Lord Rama and finds relief from the sorrows of many lifetimes.

By your grace, one will go to the immortal abode of Lord Rama after death and remain devoted to him.

It is not needed to serve any other deity or god. Service to Lord Hanuman gives all the comforts.

All troubles cease for the one who remembers the powerful lord, Lord Hanuman and all his pains also come to an end.

O Lord Hanuman! Praises and glory to you O mighty lord, please bestow your grace as our supreme guru.

One who recites this Chalisa a hundred times is released from all bondages and will attain great bliss.

One who reads and recites this Hanuman Chalisa, all his works get accomplished. Lord Shiva, himself, is the witness to it.

O Lord Hanuman, may I always remain a servant, a devotee to Lord Sri Ram, says Tulsidas. And, may you always reside in my heart.

O the Son of Wind, you are the destroyer of all sorrows. you are the embodiment of fortune and prosperity.
With Lord Rama, Laxmana and Mother Sita, dwell in my heart, always.

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10/30/22Sanatana Dharma in the Movies

Hinduism is often referred to as Sanatana Dharma (the ‘eternal way’), indicating the religion’s emphasis on eternal truths that are applicable to all of humanity. Thus, it makes sense that a medley of mainstream movies could convey Hindu ideals that resonate strongly with audiences, while not actually talking directly about anything understood by the public as Hindu.

In Groundhog Day, for example, when cynical TV weatherman Phil Collins discovers he is trapped in a time loop, living the same day over and over, only to be released after transforming his character from an egocentric narcissist to a thoughtful and kindhearted philanthropist, it’s hard not to be reminded of the Hindu notion of samsara, a cycle of reincarnation from which a soul attains liberation by realizing its divine nature after lifetimes of spiritual practice. 

Or in The Matrix when Neo chooses the red pill of knowledge over the blue pill of ignorance, and is subsequently unplugged from an illusory world and cast into the truth of reality, the film seems to be conveying a foundational Vedic teaching: that we must transcend our own ignorance — a product of maya, literally meaning “illusion” in Sanskrit — to uncover our true nature. Hindu concepts appear to be further exhibited in Neo’s relationship with Morpheus, which starkly reflects that of a disciple and guru, as the latter reveals to the former the knowledge he needs in order to understand this “true nature.” As Neo’s faith in Morpheus’ words develops, so does his capacity to see past the illusion of the matrix, garnering him the ability to manipulate the laws of this false reality, similar to the Jedi and yogis described earlier.

What do the Matrix, Avatar, Groundhog Day, and Star Wars have to do with Hinduism?

10/29/22Hinduism and American Thought

Hindu Americans and the Vedanta philosophy have significantly influenced notable intellectuals such as Henry  David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, J.D. Salinger, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, and Joseph Campbell just to name a few. Some feel that it started back In 1812, when Thomas Jefferson recommended to John Adams the writings of Joseph Priestley, a Unitarian minister who had published works that compared Christianity to other religions — Hinduism in particular — Adam’s interest was piqued.

Going through Priestley’s writings, Adams became riveted by Hindu thought, as he launched into a five-year exploration of Eastern philosophy. As his knowledge of Hinduism and ancient Indian civilization grew, so did his respect for it. This legacy took shape in the 1830s as Transcendentalism, a philosophical, social, and literary movement that emphasized the spiritual goodness inherent in all people despite the corruption imposed on an individual by society and its institutions. Espousing that divinity pervades all of nature and humanity, Transcendentalists believed divine experience existed in the everyday, and held progressive views on women’s rights, abolition, and education. At the heart of this movement were three of America’s most influential authors: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.

How Hinduism Influenced Some of Americans Greatest Thinkers

10/27/22The Hindu Diaspora in Afghanistan

Before becoming an Islamic state, Afghanistan was once home to a medley of religious practices, the oldest being Hinduism. A long time ago, much of Afghanistan was part of an ancient kingdom known as Gandhara, which also covered parts of northern Pakistan.Today, many of Afghanistan’s province names, though slightly altered, are clearly Sanskrit in origin, hinting at the region’s ancient past. To cite a few examples, Balkh comes from the Sanskrit Bhalika, Nangarhar from Nagarahara, and Kabul from Kubha. Though Gandhara’s earliest mention can be found in the Vedas, it is better known for its connections to the Hindu epics the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There is also the historic Asamai temple in Kabul located on a hill named after the Hindu Goddess of hope, Asha. The temple has survived numerous conflicts and attacks but it still stands. The temple is a remnant from Hindu Shahi Kings, who ruled from the Kabul Valley as far back as 850 CE. However, Hindus are indigenous but endangered minorities in Afghanistan, numbering approximately 700 out of a community that recently included over 8,000 members. Many have left for new homes, include in New York which is home to a large Afghani Hindu population.

5 Things to Know about Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan 

Hinduism Beyond India: Afghanistan

10/26/22Dogs and Diwali

According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households (90.5 million homes) owned a pet as of 2022, with 69 million U.S. households having a pet dog. Recognized for their loyalty, service, companionship, and the special relationship they have with humans, Hinduism’s reverence for dogs is expansive, as they are worshiped in festivals and appreciated in connection to a number of Hindu gods and stories. Observed in Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal, Kukar Tihar (the 2nd day of Tihar) honors dogs as messengers that help guide spirits of the deceased across the River of Death. In the Mahabharata, Yudhisthira, his brothers, and the queen Draupadi renounced their kingdom to ascend to the heavens. However, Yudhisthira was the only one that survived along with a dog that had joined them. Yudhisthira refused to go to heaven without the dog, who turned out to be Yamaraj, the God of Death. Sarama, the “female dog of the gods,” was famously asked by Indra to retrieve a herd of cows that were stolen. When the thieves were caught, they tried to bribe Sarama but she refused and now represents those who do not wish to possess but instead find what has been lost. The symbolic import of dogs is further driven in connection with Dattatreya, as he is commonly depicted with four of them to represent the Vedas, the Yugas, the stages of sound, and the inner forces of a human being (will, faculty, hope, and desire).

Dogs and Diwali? 5 Things to Know about Hinduism and hu(man)’s Best Friend

10/25/22Black Panther

In 2018, the long-running Marvel comic series Black Panther, was brought to the big screen. A more prominent scene is when M’baku, a character vying for the throne of the fictional country of Wakanda, challenges T’Challa/Black Panther, and yells, “Glory to Hanuman.” However, despite dharma as an unsaid aspect of the characters’ interactions, Black Panther relies slightly more on Hindu symbolism than philosophy. But the significance of Hanuman as a transcendent deity cannot be overlooked, especially at a time when dialogues about global migration, the right to worship, and access to natural resources are becoming more overtly racialized. The film provides more than just an entertainment escape: it reimagines a world in which the current racial and theological paradigms are challenged forcefully. With the film expected to have at least several sequels, there will be more opportunities to reference Hinduism and Hindu iconography.

Why Black Panther’s References to Hinduism are Significant in Hollywood


One of the most celebrated Hindu festivals, Diwali (dee-VAH-lee) or Deepavali (dee-PAH-va-lee) commemorates the victory of good over evil during the course of five days. The word refers to rows of diyas — or clay lamps — which are put all around homes and places of worship. The light from these lamps symbolizes the illumination within all of us, which can overcome ignorance, represented by darkness. Devotees gather in local temples, homes, or community centers, to spend time with loved ones, make positive goals, and appreciate life.

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar 

Diwali Toolkit


On this day, because Diwali is a time for dana (charitable giving) and seva (selfless service), Hindus traditionally perform a deep cleaning of their homes and surroundings, as cleanliness is believed to invoke the presence and blessings of Goddess Lakshmi who, as mentioned earlier, is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many will also make rangoli or kolum (colored patterns of flowers, powder, rice, or sand made on the floor), which are also said to invite auspiciousness. Observers thus begin Diwali by cultivating a spirit of generosity, doing things like giving money to charities, feeding the hungry, and endeavoring to help those in need.

5 Things to Know About Diwali

10/22/22The Hindu Diaspora in Bali

The spread of Hinduism to Southeast Asia established powerful Hindu kingdoms in the region, most notably the Khmer Empire that encompassed modern Cambodia and Thailand, and influential kingdoms in the Indonesia archipelago. Though Buddhism and Hinduism co-existed in the region for several centuries, Buddhism (and Islam in Indonesia) eventually replaced Hinduism as a primary religion. Today, there are approximately five million Hindus in Indonesia, primarily in Bali. As Bali is roughly 90 percent Hindu, this makes it a religious enclave in a country that contains the world’s largest Muslim population. There are also roughly 60,000 Cham Hindus in Vietnam, and smaller numbers in Thailand. Hinduism in Fiji, Malaysia, and Singapore is a much more recent phenomenon, with Hindus arriving in the 19th and early 20th centuries as indentured laborers. Today, Hindus are prominent in politics and business in all three countries, though they continue to experience discrimination as religious minorities.

Hinduism Beyond India: Bali

Hinduism Around the World

10/21/22Smithsonian/American History Exhibit - American Indian experience

In 2014, the first Smithsonian exhibition chronicling the experiences of Indian Americans, many of whom are Hindus,  in the US was unveiled at their National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. This exhibit was one of the largest ever produced by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, occupying 5,000 square feet and reaching millions of visitors. The message behind “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation,” aimed to dispel stereotypes and myths that have followed Indian immigrants since they first arrived in the U.S. in 1790. The exhibit explored the heritage, daily experiences, and the many diverse contributions that immigrants and Indian Americans have made to the United States. The exhibition at the Museum of Natural History includes historical and contemporary images and artifacts, including those that document histories of discrimination and resistance, convey daily experiences, and symbolize achievements across the professions. Music and visual artworks provide commentary on the Indian American experience and form an important component of the exhibition. In 2017, this exhibit went on the road, traveling from city to city so that all could see the impact of Indians on American culture.

All About Hindu Heritage Month

10/20/22Swami Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda was a Hindu monk and yogi who came to the United States in 1920 and lived here for the last 32 years of his life. He is considered to be the first major Hindu Guru to settle in the United States. When Swami Yogananda arrived in the US, he made his first speech, made to the International Congress of Religious Liberals, on “The Science of Religion,” and was enthusiastically received. It was soon after that he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (also known as Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India) and introduced millions of Americans to the ancient science and philosophy of meditation and Kriya yoga (path of attainment). In 1927, he was invited to the White House by President Calvin Coolidge, making Swami Yogananda the first prominent Indian and Hindu to be hosted in the White House.

Hinduism: Short Answers to Real Questions

Countless Americans Have Been Influenced by Swami Viveknanda


For those of us who are Hindu, we have noticed that some of the biggest Hollywood films produced in the last several decades have mirrored many of Hinduism's most fundamental philosophical ideas. One example is Avatar, a film named for the Sanskrit word avatāra (‘descent’), in which the protagonist, Jake Sully, enters and explores an alien world called Pandora by inhabiting the body of an indigenous 10-foot, blue-skinned being, an idea taken from Hinduism’s depictions of the various avatars of the blue god Vishnu, who are said to descend into our world for upholding dharma. Instead of aligning with the interests of the humans, who merely want to mine Pandora for the valuable mineral unobtanium, Sully fights alongside the alien humanoids native to the world, called Na’vi, who live in harmony with nature, believe all life is sacred, and that all life is connected by a divine force — teachings synonymous with Hinduism. Thus, similar to the avatars of Vishnu, Sully defends and preserves a spiritual culture by defeating those who would destroy it for materialistic pursuit. While this film doesn’t indicate in any direct way that they have anything to do with Hinduism, it’s clear they are communicating Hindu ideas that everyone relates to and understands on a profound level.

What do the Matrix, Avatar, Groundhog Day, and Star Wars have to do with Hinduism?

10/18/22Swami Prabhupada

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, was founded in 1966 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a highly respected Vaishnava  (devotion to the god Vishnu and his incarnations avatars) scholar and monk. At the age of 70, Swami Prabhupada traveled from India to New York City to bring the Bhakti tradition, or Krishna Consciousness, to the west. In the 11 years before his passing in 1977, Srila Prabhupada translated, with elaborate commentaries, 60 volumes of Vaishnava literature; established more than 100 temples on six continents; and initiated 5,000 disciples. Today, his writings are studied in universities around the globe and are translated into nearly 100 languages. To date, ISKCON has over 400 temples,  dozens of rural communities and eco-sustainable projects, and nearly 100 vegetarian restaurants world-wide with 56 of them in the US. 

Statement Against Caste Based Discrimination: ISKCON

Who was that Hare Krishna at the start of “Get Back”?

10/17/22The Hindu Diaspora in Africa

Hinduism came in waves to Africa, with Southern Africa getting Hindu workers during the early years of British colonization, while East and West Africa experienced Hindu migration during the 20th century. Hinduism’s roughly 0.2% presence in Africa is seen as so inconsequential, most data organizations don’t even bother explicitly mentioning it in their census reports. But Hinduism is Ghana's fastest growing religion and one in which there are steady populations in both Northern and Southern African states. Durban is now home to most of South Africa’s 1.3 million Indians, making it, according to some sources, the largest Indian city outside of India, and thus a most powerful hub of Hindu practice. In the US, there are both communities of African Hindus who have migrated, as well as Black Hindus, who according to the 2019 Pew Survey, make up 2% of the Hindu population in the US.

Hinduism Beyond Africa

Hinduism Around the World

10/16/22Star Wars

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, drew much of the inspiration for this major cultural phenomenon from the teachings of his mentor who was a lifelong student of Vedanta. In these films, many aspects of Hinduism are interwoven with the story. Some include Hanuman (Chewbaca and Ewoks), Shakti (force,energy), Yodha (Yoda), Brahman (infinite being). Besides the many philosophical parallels that can be highlighted between Star Wars and Hinduism, Star Wars also exhibits similarities in story structure and character roles to one of India’s famous epics, the Ramayana. Never seen the movie? Now might be the time to see how universally relatable Hindu thought can truly be.

What do the Matrix, Avatar, Groundhog Day, and Star Wars have to do with Hinduism?


The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge), translation to the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science, originating in 1000 BCE. Based on the five elements that comprise the universe (space, air, fire, water, and earth), they combine and permutate to create three health principles  that govern the functioning and interplay of a person’s body, mind, and consciousness. These energies are referred to as doshas in Sanskrit. Ayurveda can be used in conjunction with Western medicine and Ayurvedic schools have gained approval as educational institutions in several states.

5 Things to Know About Ayurveda

In Hinduism, What is the Relationship Between Spirituality and Health?


While it’s synonymous to meditation, and seen simply as a doorway to tranquility for yogic practitioners, the true meaning of Om is deeply embedded in Hindu philosophy.

The word Om is defined by Hindu scripture as being the original vibration of the universe, which all other vibrations are able to manifest. Within Hinduism, the meaning and connotations of Om is perceived in a variety of ways. Though heard and often written as “om,” due to the way it sounds when it is repeatedly chanted, the sacred syllable is originally and more accurately spelled as “aum.” Broken down, the three letters of A – U – M represent a number of sacred trinities such as different conditions of consciousness (waking state, dreaming state, and deep sleep state), the deities in charge of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe ( Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), aspects of time (past, present, and future), among many others. 

5 Things to Know About Om

Religious Symbols

10/28/22Dr. Anandibai Joshi

Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi is credited with being the first woman from India to study medicine in the United States. Born in Bombay in 1865, she was married at the age of ten to an older man who had been her teacher. Dr. Joshi had a child at the age of 13, but the child died when only 10 days old. She believed that with better medical care, the child would have lived, and she frequently cited this as motivation for her desire to attend medical school. Her husband encouraged her in her academic pursuits and in 1883, Joshee joined the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now known as the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She graduated in 1886 with her degree in medicine; her M.D. thesis focused on Hindu obstetrics. Unfortunately,  Dr. Joshi was only able to practice medicine for a few months before passing away from tuberculosis.

Science in Hinduism

10/13/22The Hindu Diaspora in Guyana

Hinduism is the religion of almost 25% of Guyana’s population, making it the country with the highest percentage of Hindus in the Western Hemisphere. But from British professional recruiting agents targeting rural and uneducated Indians, to the aggressiveness of Christian proselytization of Hindus with a promise of a better life, Hinduism has been in a steady decline for many decades with many escaping to the United States for better opportunities and to practice their religion freely. Today, over 80% of Guyanese Americans live in the Northeastern United States with heavy concentrations in New Jersey and in New York, where a “Little Guyana”  helps these immigrants stay connected to their Guyanese roots.

Hinduism beyond India: Guyana

Hinduism Around the World

10/12/22Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth or Karva Chauth (kuhr-vah-CHOATH) is a North Indian holiday in which wives fast for the longevity and health of their husbands, however, many unmarried women celebrate in hopes of meeting their ideal life partner. Typically, wives spend the day preparing gifts to exchange, and fasting until the moon is visible. It is believed that its light symbolizes love and blessings of a happy life. While there are varying legends behind this holiday’s traditions and meaning, the message of honoring the relationships women form with their family and community prevails.

Karwa Chauth

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar

10/11/22Hinduism and Music

As sound vibration can affect the most subtle element of creation, it is interpreted in Hindu scriptures that spiritual sound vibrations can affect the atman (soul) in a particularly potent way. Such spiritual sound vibrations are said to have the ability to awaken our original spiritual consciousness and help us remember that we are beyond the ambivalence of life, and actually originate from the Divine. As such, the main goal of many types of Hindu musical expression is to help stir us out of our spiritual slumber by evoking feelings of love and connection that help us to better perceive the presence of the Divine within all. Some of the more popular examples of musical expressions within Hinduism include shlokas (verse, or poem), mantras (sacred syllables repeated in prayer), kirtans (congregational singing of mantras), and bhajans (devotional songs). You can find musical spiritual expressions through the US in temples,  Mandirs, and community centers.

The Power of Music According to Hinduism

What is Kirtan?


Yoga is considered Hinduism’s gift to humanity. At its broadest, yoga, from the root word “yuj” in Sanskrit, means to unite. Most Hindu texts discuss yoga as a practice to control the senses and ultimately, the mind. The most famous is the Bhagavad Gita (dating back to 6th-3rd Century BCE), in which Krishna speaks of four types of yoga – bhakti, or devotion; jnana, or knowledge; karma, or action; and dhyana, or concentration (often referred to as raja yoga, though not all sources agree on the term) – as paths to achieve moksha (enlightenment), the ultimate goal according to Hindu understanding. According to a 2016 study,  in the United States there are an estimated 36.7 million people currently practicing yoga in the United States.


The Hindu Roots of Yoga

10/9/22Swami Vivekananda

According to Vedic cosmology, 108 is the basis of creation, representing the universe and all our existence. As the soul is encased in two types of bodies: the physical body (made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and the subtle body (composed of intelligence, mind and ego), Swami Viveknanda is often attributed with bringing Hindu teachings and practices — such as yoga and transcendental meditation — to Western audiences. In 1893, he was officially introduced to the United States at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where in his speech he called for religious tolerance and described Hinduism as “a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.” The day that Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech at the Parliament of Religions is now known as ‘World Brotherhood Day.’ And his birthday, known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti, is honored on January 12th each year. On this day he is commemorated and recognized for his contributions as a modern Hindu monk and respected guru of the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. In 1900, Swami Viveknanda founded the Vedanta Society in California and to date there are 36 Vedanta Society Centers in the United States.

Swami Vivekananda Influenced Countless Americans

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar


According to Vedic cosmology, 108 is the basis of creation, representing the universe and all our existence. As the soul is encased in two types of bodies: the physical body (made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and the subtle body (composed of intelligence, mind and ego), 108 plays a significant role in keeping these two bodies healthily connected. Hindus believe the body holds seven chakras, or pools of energy, which begin at the bottom of the spine and go all the way down to the top of the head and it is believed there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra. Ayurveda says there are 108 hidden spots in the body called marma points, where various tissues like muscles, veins, and ligaments meet. These are vital points of life force, and when they are out of balance, energy cannot properly flow throughout the body. Sun salutations, yogic asanas that honor the sun god Surya, are generally completed in nine rounds of 12 postures, totaling 108. Mantra meditation is usually chanted on a set of 108 beads.   In Hinduism there are 108 Upanishads, the sacred texts of wisdom from ancient sages. Additionally, in the Sanskrit alphabet, there are 54 letters. Each letter has a feminine, or Shakti, and masculine, or Shiva, quality. 54 multiplied by 2 equals 108. Ultimately, breathwork, chanting, studying scripture, and asana’s help harmonize one’s energy with the energy of the supreme spiritual source. These processes become especially effective when they are performed in connection with the number 108. Hindu scriptures strive to remind people of this divine commonality by continuously highlighting the innumerable threads connecting everything in existence. One of these threads is the number 108.

5 Things to know about 108

Here's How the Number 108 Binds Us to the Universe

10/7/22The Hindu Diaspora in Trinidad/Tobago

A decade after slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government began importing indentured labor from India to work on their estates in other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago.  From 1845 to 1917, the ships would continue to arrive, carrying over 140,000 Indians to the island, facilitating Trinidad's population growth from Indian laborers. Today, there are roughly 240,000 declared Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, comprising about 18% of the island’s population. There are a total of about 300 temples on the island, welcoming all who wish to enter and where many beloved Hindu festivals take place. But for some, the migration journey doesn’t end as New York and Florida have seen the development of large Indo-Caribbean communities.

Hinduism beyond India: Trinidad and Tobago


From ancient tribes to present-day devotees, tattoos have held a special place in Hinduism for centuries. In the Indian states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the Ramnaami community invoked Rama’s protection with tattoos of the name “Rama” in Sanskrit on every inch of their skin, including the tongue and inside the lips.The Mahabharata tells the story of the Pandavas that were exiled to the Kutch district of Gujarat. Today, their descendants - members of the Ribari tribe - live as their ancestors did, with women covered in tattoos that symbolize their people’s strong spirit for survival. Some Hindus consider tattoos as protective emblems,such as tattoos of Hanuman are often used to relieve physical or mental pain. People will often get tattoos of other deities to invoke their blessings. Mehndi, a plant-based temporary tattoo, is commonly done at weddings and religious ceremonies as a form of celebration of love and spirituality. While tattoos have been in Hindu communities for centuries, tattoos as symbols of honor, devotion, and even fashion are incredibly popular today. Hindus and non Hindus alike adorn themselves with Hindu emblems and tattoos that reflect Hindu teachings.

Guidelines for Commercial Use of Hindu Images


Navaratri (nuhv-uh-RA-three) is a nine night celebration of the feminine divine that occurs four times a year — the spring and fall celebrations being amongst the more widely celebrated. Some traditions honor the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga, while others celebrate the three goddesses (Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati) with three days dedicated to each. This is a time to recognize the role in which the loving, compassionate, and gentle — yet sometimes powerful and fierce — feminine energy plays in our lives.

Nine Things to Know About Navaratri

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar


Dussehra (duh-sheh-RAH) or Vijayadashmi (vi-juhyuh-dushuh-mee) celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the ten-headed demon King Ravana. This also marks the end of Ramalila — a brief retelling of the Ramayana and the story of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman in the form of dramatic reading or dance. It also signifies the end of negativity and evil within us (vices, biases, prejudices) for a fresh new beginning. Dussehra often coincides with the end of Navratri and Duga Puja, and celebrations can last ten days, with huge figures of Ravana set ablaze as a reminder that good always prevails over evil.

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar

Hinduism 101 & Women

10/3/22Ahimsa + Cow sanctuaries

Many Hindus hold reverence for the cow as a representation of mother earth, fertility, and Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and non-harming. Though not all Hindus are vegetarian, for this reason many traditionally abstain from eating beef. This is often linked with the concept of ahimsa (non-violence), which can be applied to diet choices and our interactions with the environment, and potentially determine our next birth, according to the doctrine of karma. This is part of the reason that some Hindus may choose a vegetarian lifestyle as an expression of ahimsa as well as explains the growing number of cow protection projects that are led by individuals who have felt compelled to put their Hindu values into practice. The US is home to several cow protection projects and sanctuaries

Dairy Is Traditionally Sattvic Food, but the Way We Treat Cows Today Can Be Tamasic

Cultured Meat and Animal-Free Dairy Upends the Plant-Based Food Discussion

10/1/2022First Hindu temple in US

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 facilitated the journey of many Indian immigrants to the United States. In this new land, many created home shrines and community temples to practice and hold pujas (services). As Hindu American populations grew in metropolitan and rural areas, so did the need to find a permanent temple site for worship. In 1906, the Vedanta Society built the Old Temple in San Francisco, California but as this was not considered a formal temple, many don’t credit this with being the first. Others believe it is the Shiva Murugan Temple built in 1957 in Concord, California, whereas others believe it is the Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devanstanam in New York that should be considered the first. Today, there are nearly 1,000 temples in the United States . Regardless of where you live, you have the right to practice your faith.

A Guide To Temple Safety and Security

5 Things to Know About Visiting a Hindu Temple