Monday, March 28, 2011


Dubai ( - People queue in tens of thousands each week to pray at the Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai’s Old Souk.  They must pass through an alleyway so narrow, one could almost put a hand on either wall. Once inside they have to proceed quickly through their rites, supervised by hired security guards.  There is no time - or space - for them to linger.  The Shiva and Krishna Mandir temple complex in Al Bastakiya was built in 1958, but its community has long outgrown it.  The Hindus share the overcrowded space with the Sikh community, but that group is set to move on.  They have already been granted a plot of land from the Dubai Government and are opening a new center in the coming months.

There are 1.7 million Indians in the Emirates and although the number of Hindus is unknown, the Indian Consulate in Dubai estimates about 50 per cent of the Indian population is Hindu.  The temple is the only gathering point for Hindus in the UAE and one of just a few in the Gulf, making it a sought-after spiritual lifeline.  Things get even busier during religious holidays.  The two-day Maha Shivaratri festival last year drew around 125,000 people. Their queues stretched for several kilometres.   The Hindu temple’s management has also put in a request with the Dubai Government for more land, but has yet to hear back.  Every day of the week is devoted to an individual god; morning prayers start at 6am and run until 1pm; evening prayers run from 4.30pm to 10pm.

The Hindus and Sikh communities share the Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai's Old Souk for their rituals.  Near the entrance of the overcrowded temple there are a handful of traders selling Prasad, or offerings to God.  Each plastic bag contains flower petals, an apple, a small bottle of milk and a piece of cloth.  “We believe that if you give something to God, you will get something in return,” said Prajhant Divecha, a devotee at the temple.  Divine faith or sraddha is original and fundamental.  The mind cannot be pure, so it cannot produce sraddha.  When the Supreme Lord appears in the heart, the mind vanishes.

Vaikuntha is Infinite, and if we wish to draw the attention of the Infinite to ourselves, the only way is sraddha.  By sraddha we can attract the Infinite and nothing else.  And when faith gets a definite form through bhava, it comes to be prema, love divine.  After crossing Vaikuntha we may find the cosmos, the spiritual cosmos and sraddha, the light in the darkness. ... Sraddha will keep our heart enlivened, hopeful.  Sraddha sabde-krsne bhakti kaile sarva karma: no risk, no gain; more risk, more gain.  Sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja:  “I am everywhere, no room to be afraid at all.  Only come to that plane.  I am your friend; I am everywhere; I am the all in all, and you are My own.”  This is our only fare for the journey.

Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Mahārāja :
“Follow the Angels - The Path of Dedication”
Part One: “Acquired Taste - Sraddha is More than Calculation” - Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library

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