Presented at the Vedanta Society of New York on October 20, 2019

Gandhi: Great Soul and Imperfect Human Being

Today, I would like to speak about Vedanta in the thought of Mahatma Gandhi. I feel that this is an especially appropriate topic to discuss at this time, given that this month marks Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary (which occurred on October 2nd).

I would like to begin my remarks by noting that I am aware that Gandhi is a controversial figure for many, even today, more than seventy years after his assassination on the 30th of January, 1948. He is widely…


Good afternoon, and Namaste! I am most grateful to be invited to speak at the United Nations to underscore the importance of the International Day of Peace. My topic for today is the yogic value of ahiṃsā, which is often translated as nonviolence, but which, as we shall see, has even more profound and far-reaching consequences than this humble translation suggests.

The centrality of ahiṃsāto the yogic traditions of India cannot be exaggerated. In at least three different systems of spiritual practice–Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist–it is listed first among the ethical virtues that a serious aspirant on the spiritual path…


Presented at the Vedanta Society of New York on June 16, 2019

Introduction

Good morning! Namaste, Namaskār, and, to use the traditional Jain greeting, Jai Jinendra! It is my great honor to speak once again here at the Vedanta Society of New York, established by Swami Vivekananda himself in 1894. I would also like to wish everyone a Happy Guru Pūrṇima and a Happy Father’s Day. On this auspicious occasion, Swami Sarvapriyananda has asked me to speak to you about Jainism, a tradition that is certainly distinct from Vedānta, but that also has a great deal in common with it.


Presented at the Greater DC Vedanta Society, December 9, 2018

Namaste, Namaskar, and good morning! Today, I would like to explore the idea of the avatar–the divine incarnation, or more literally, divine ‘descent,’ if we are to be true to the original Sanskrit meaning of this term.

To my knowledge, the first appearance of this concept in Sanskrit literature is in the seventh verse of the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā. In this verse, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, yadā yadā hi dharmasya glanir bhavati Bharata, abhyutanam adharmasya tadātmānaṃ sṛjāmyaham. “Whenever dharma, the moral order of the universe, declines, and…


The Role of Yogic Values in Promoting a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence (Presented at the United Nations, August 2nd, 2019)

Good afternoon, and Namaste! It is truly an honor and a privilege to be invited to speak at the United Nations on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Declarationand Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. It is a particular honor to speak about the role of Yogic values in promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence. …


Calling Tulsi Gabbard a ‘Fake Hindu’ is Offensive and Misinformed

Jeffery D. Long

Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Elizabethtown College

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the candidacy of Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American to run for President, has evoked a strong and rapid backlash of media attacks.[1] Of course, any person who runs for public office should, quite rightly, expect to be on the receiving end of extensive scrutiny. This is how we select our leaders in a democracy, at least ideally. It involves an extensive critical examination of the views and character of each candidate. …


The Journey Begins: An Inquiring Childhood

I was not born Hindu, unless one accepts the proposition that all of us are born within the Sanatana Dharma, the perennial and universal truth at the basis of all philosophies and religions, only gradually coming to identify with a particular culture and belief system as we grow up in a particular time and place.

I was born to a Christian family, of the Roman Catholic faith, and grew up in a very small town in Missouri. I had the privilege to be raised in a very loving family, free from abuse and full…


Few, if any, issues are as urgent as the ecological crisis currently facing not only humanity, but all life on this planet. Contrary to widespread perceptions, religious people are not uniformly in denial of the realities of climate change. Indeed, many are seizing the opportunity provided by the current moment of crisis to rediscover the ecological wisdom at the heart of their traditions.

The Hindu community is no exception to this trend. India, the land that the vast majority of the world’s Hindus call home, is both at the forefront of the movement to develop sustainable sources of energy and…


Who Cares?

No matter how many times I present it in various venues, either in talks or in articles in books or on the internet, I find that there is an ongoing fascination with the story of how I came to identify myself as Hindu, and to be an active, participating member of the Hindu community in North America. I suspect this is because my story, while it is certainly not unique, is unusual. I also suspect it is because American culture is often perceived to be diametrically opposed to Hindu values–a perception that is both true and false, depending…


Celebrity religion scholar Reza Aslan recently debuted his CNN series, ‘Believer’ with an episode focused on a fascinating group of Hindu yogis known as the Aghoris. With a name which means “Fearless,” the Aghoris are worshipers of the deity Śiva and are known for their unconventional practices, which include meditating in cremation grounds and eating substances regarded in mainstream Hindu society as impure. All of this is done in the name of the philosophical ideal of non-duality: that divinity is present everywhere, even in places that “polite” society shuns.

An episode on the Aghoris, and on CNN no less, would…

Jeffery D. Long

Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Elizabethtown College

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