“When my grandchildren ask me about the mysteries of the sky, I open the window and point to the Sun or the stars,” says Dr. Rama Krishna Rao as he begins his speech about the essence of Hindu philosophy, mythology and religion, held at the Central Library of San Antonio to commemorate Asian-Pacific American heritage month.
Founder of the Hindu Temple of San Antonio, Dr. Rao is a well known and highly respected obstetrician, who is humbled by having overseen the births of nearly 8,000 babies from all different cultures—my own boys included. But his passion goes far beyond the care of precious newborn babies and their mothers. He takes every opportunity to inspire families to embrace a wholesome upbringing: “Keep your baby on your lap, hold his hand, read to him, listen, and have meaningful conversations with him,” he recommends. Dr. Rao explains that religion must do the same for its people and touch every aspect of everyday life: “If religion does not grow with the population, it becomes obsolete, and society will go in its own direction.”
As a Catholic, I find myself reflecting on the spiritual practice of Sanatana Dharma, meaning “very old and very new”, or as stated by eternal law: “the truth that will exist forever.” Archeological findings in the western part of India dating back to 9000 B.C. are proof that this philosophy has clearly evolved through time, while remaining the same in its essence. With no single prophet, messenger, or book to go by, the secret may lie in the scriptures based on day-to-day life, inspired by a close proximity to nature.
Regardless of the religion you practice, it undoubtedly makes sense. Many beautiful rhythmic names of Hindu gods and goddesses may seem overwhelming, but they are all one and the same; a reminder that God is in everything and everyone; an entity which has no beginning, middle or end. “God is a power that has been kind enough to flow its energy through us,” says Dr. Rao.
The book “Growing Up Hindu” by Satguru Bodhinatha, illustrates concepts such as virtue, positive self-image, respect, and righteousness through kid-friendly stories. Dr. Rao tells a story about the wisdom of nature that I will be telling my children:
“Who is your teacher?” asks an emperor to a blissful sage. “My teachers are all around in nature,” the sage answers. “Look at this flowing river. It starts at the top of the mountain, takes its passage through the jungle, faces the rocks, tries to stay pure, feeds the trees, and becomes one with the ocean.” The sage continues: “The Earth is patient, forgiving, and giving. Let her be your guru.”
It might make for a long Sunday to try to expose two little boys to all different religions, but listening attentively among the audience, I quickly come to the conclusion that I definitely want my children to grow as part of the microcosmos, to see the big picture, and become one with the Universe—don’t you?