Hindu TRAC Seminar Revives the Spirit of Hinduism
More than 300 members of the Atlanta community attended a two-day Seminar organized and coordinated by Hindu TRAC, Atlanta, at the Gujarati Samaj Hall, Tucker, Ga., on January 6th and 7th.
TRAC (Tradition, Religion, Aspiration, Culture) Program was created and led by Malaysia born Jagadeesan Jegathesan, or ‘Uncle Jega' as many affectionately call him.���
The two-day seminar was from 9:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with hour-long breaks for lunch. The program had a rich mix of uplifting soulful bhajans and chants of mantras, humor-laden but illuminating talks by Shri Jegathesan and Smt. Lalita, and brief addresses by local youth speakers.
A calm and composed Mahesh Patel emceed the seminar and thanked the Gujarati Samaj for offering free accommodation. Mahesh briefly explained the meaning of tradition, religion, aspirations and culture and said that the goal of TRAC is to bring the young generation back to a better understanding of Hindu traditions, religion and culture.
Dato (Malaysian Monarchy conferred title meaning ‘Sir') J. Jegathesan, born in Malaysia in 1943, holds a degree in Economics. Until the age of 33, he remained an agnostic because he did not comprehend the true meaning of religion. In 1976, he had a profound spiritual experience and he began to read about Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism. Today, he is a busy consultant with the U.N. International Development Organization and U. N. Council on Trade and Development. In his spare time, he conducts sadhna camps for youth.
"The reason for these free seminars," says Uncle Jega, "is because in my travels, I observed that in just one generation, over 7000 years of Hindu tradition is disappearing?uncared for by the young generation of Hindus! It is disappearing because Hindu parents do not understand their own religion and the reasons behind their own rituals. It is disappearing because their children falsely believe that Hinduism is an old religion of many Gods and confusing, weird looking deities. They are embarrassed by their own TRAC."
A group of singers and musicians kept the audience enthralled with their vast repertoire of choicest bhajans and mantras. With the lyrics displayed on the overhead screen, the audience too began to sing and chant with them.
Uncle Jega lamented that the young generation is moving away from Hinduism. They feel embarrassed and confused when their non-Hindu friends ask them about deities, various rituals, symbols, etc; and at some point in time they become disenchanted with Hinduism. Continuing his explanation of symbols, he showed a slide of Dancing Shiva (Nataraja). He said that Shiva is an embodiment of creation, preservation and destruction. The damru represents sound and creation, the trident and an upwardly pointing palm suggests blessings and protection, whereas the other palm pointing downwards towards his foot, crushing a dwarf demon (asura), represents destruction of human ego.
In a similar way, he explained symbols associated with Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu and Lord Murugan and the significance of vahanas (vehicles of the Gods). He then went on to talk about recitation of mantras. The full benefit of a mantra can only be realized by reciting it with a calm mind, utmost patience, devotion, unfailing faith and constant repetition. Uncle Jega explained the meaning of the Gayatri Mantra and led the audience in reciting it with correct pronunciation.
Sister Lalita, the author of Modern Hindus in Search of TRAC, spoke about ‘Mind Dynamics'. She showed how to experience inner joy and peace by listening to soul soothing music, which can transport the listener into a state of bliss.
Sejal Patel gave a succinct talk on respected grandfather-like Bheeshma from the Mahabharatha. Aditya spoke crisply about Royal Guru Dronacharya, one of the revered figures in Hindu mythology, and a basis for the tradition of respecting one's teacher as one would his parents. Purvi Patel spoke eloquently about Veer Hanuman's birth, his childhood adventures, and his role in the Ramayana. Nika Desai spoke about Swami Vivekananda.
Uncle Jega stressed to the youth to not neglect their mother tongues. "Why can we not have a bhajans with a full orchestra for a change? Let's name it Divine Wind!" He concluded by thanking the Gujarati Samaj, the attendees, and all the volunteers. With the inspirational guidance of and liaison with Uncle Jega, Hindu TRAC Atlanta is hoping to plan more innovative seminars in the future. More information can be availed at www.hindutracatl.org
~ Mahadev Desai
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