Sunday Service: Me and Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare mob

Week of Jan 3 – 9, 2016

The American Vedanta Tour continues. Tomorrow we head to Manila, where among other things we’ll be meeting with the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of the Philippines. Then it is on to India, where we’ll be visiting the home of the Ramakrishna movement, Belur Math in Calcutta, before visiting Vedanta monasteries in Delhi and elsewhere.

Please check out our calendar and reach out to us if you are in one of the cities we visit. And while American Vedanta does not keep a travel blog, per se, I do write about my travel experiences on my personal blog, So if you’re interested in following our journey across Asia, consider subscribing to my twice-monthly email newsletter.

All this travel reminds me of a trip to India that I took several years ago, back in 2011. At the time, I was visiting Delhi to spend several months living at the Ramakrishna Mission monastery there. On my way, I stumbled upon an Indian celebrity! This led to a tension between wanting to meet the celebrity, and sticking to my spiritual practices. I wrote about the experience at the time, and this week we feature this story as our spiritual talk of the week.


Peter Kowalke


Anna HazareThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Flying with Celebrity

by Peter Kowalke

The in-flight entertainment was quite extraordinary during my Kingfisher flight from Pune to Delhi. As me and my fellow passengers scrambled to our seats, all very Indian rush-rush, we were halted by the discovery that Anna Hazare was on our plane.

Anna Hazare.

I had never heard of the man, but clearly everyone else on the plane knew him. Driving home the idea that I had stumbled upon celebrity, three national news crews were camped out around Mr. Hazare and his entourage, filming the historic flight. While we were in the air, they took turns interviewing passengers and attempting to talk with Mr. Hazare.

My original plan for the flight was a relaxed two hours reading the letters of Swami Vivekananda, founder of the Ramakrishna Mission where I’d be staying in Delhi. This was a historic event and a brush with celebrity, though, s0 no time for reading; it felt like I had wandered into a scene from Rumble in the Jungle, the movie about the historic boxing match between Mohammad Ali and George Foreman. The Peter still attached to this world wanted in on the action so he could collect an experience and say he had chatted with Mr. Hazare.

(Read more)


Video of the Week

The Hidden Influence of Vedanta on the West

This talk traces the Western exploration of Vedanta scriptures and Philosophy from the earliest translations in the 1700s to our founding fathers, Jefferson and Adams, to the Transcendentalists, to the explosion of religious pluralism in the 19th century, to modern times through great thinkers such as Carl Jung, William James, Aldous Huxley, J.D. Salinger, Joseph Campbell, Christopher Isherwood, and Huston Smith. All this led up to the explosion of interest in Eastern Religion in the 60s – which continues today.

Finding lasting happiness. Applying the Bhagavad Gita to daily life. Learning about the history of Vedanta in the U.S. These are some of the topics covered at American Vedanta’s YouTube channel. We curate a list of spiritual videos that will help advance your spirituality and expand your mind. When wanting spiritual videos, give our YouTube channel a look.

We also recommend other resources such as Booksaudio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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