Message from Balabhadra Prabhu:
Message from our own 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐘𝐨𝐠𝐢 - 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐲 𝐉 𝐓𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐦𝐚𝐧 (𝐁𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐫𝐚 𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐲𝐚 𝐃𝐚𝐬𝐚) - 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐀𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐇𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮/𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫
𝐇𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐊𝐫𝐬𝐧𝐚 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐣𝐢, 𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐡𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬,
𝐻𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑙𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑒 𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑒ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑓 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑉𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑐 𝐹𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝐴𝑠𝑠𝑜𝑐𝑖𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑏𝑢𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑣𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑎.
𝐵𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑏ℎ𝑎𝑑𝑟𝑎 𝐵ℎ𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑦𝑎 𝑑𝑎𝑠𝑎
I grew up in the South during the 1950s and 60s. Those were troublesome times for the 𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲. During those times they identified us as Negroes. As an ethnic minority, it was very difficult to understand what our place in the world was. Honestly, there was an element of shame associated with being black.
During the late sixties, I became involved in the "𝐇𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐲 𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞" which exposed me to the concept of "𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞." I was not familiar with this 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐇𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮/𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞.
My first exposure to this culture was through my association in 1971, with 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐌𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐢 𝐌𝐚𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐡 𝐘𝐨𝐠𝐢. I was a performing artist in the Atlanta and surrounding areas and heavily involved with the culture of "Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll."
Eventually around 1972, I came in contact with disciples of 𝐇𝐢𝐬 𝐃𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐀.𝐂. 𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐤𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚 𝐒𝐰𝐚𝐦𝐢 𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐡𝐮𝐩𝐚𝐝𝐚, the founder Acharya of the 𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐊𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐧𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐜𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬. They then introduced me was then to the 𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐝 𝐆𝐢𝐭𝐚, which is the most well known of all Vedic texts. This holy book is very dear and sacred to all Hindus and Westerners who have adopted these teaching and practices. I became an initiated disciple of 𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐤𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚 𝐒𝐰𝐚𝐦𝐢 𝐏𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐡𝐮𝐩𝐚𝐝𝐚 in July 1974 during his visit to Chicago for a major Hindu/Vedic festival, Ratha Yatra.
Interestingly, around 1974 I was fortunate to meet one of Swami Prabhupada's very first disciples, 𝐑𝐮𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐠𝐚 𝐃𝐚𝐬𝐚. He encouraged to join the local 𝐀𝐭𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚 𝐇𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐊𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐧𝐚 𝐓𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞 and that they would train me as a leader and then I should go back and help the 𝐁𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲. This instruction has constantly inspired me to expose this great 𝐇𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮/𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 and philosophy to the urban communities.
During the present time of racial tensions in America, I along with other Hindu/Vedic leaders are considering what we can do to impact and help to change this painful and distressful situation.
𝐶𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐻𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑢/𝑉𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑐 𝑝ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑜𝑝ℎ𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑝𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑏𝑜𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑛 𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑝𝑖𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔, 𝑡𝑒𝑚𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑙𝑦 𝑖𝑛ℎ𝑎𝑏𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑏𝑜𝑑𝑖𝑒𝑠.
𝑺𝒐 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒘𝒆 𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒇𝒚 𝒂𝒔 𝒂𝒏 𝑨𝒇𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏, 𝑯𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒖 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏, 𝑨𝒔𝒊𝒂𝒏 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏, 𝑾𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒆 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏, 𝒐𝒓 𝒂𝒏 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒐𝒓, 𝒘𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒍 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒆𝒒𝒖𝒂𝒍 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒚𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑺𝒖𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒎𝒆 𝑳𝒐𝒓𝒅.
One thing that I have learned during my several efforts to share Hindu/Vedic principles in the primarily African American community, is that these communities are not looking for a handout. They are desperately in need of help in building up their communities, especially in the areas of affordable housing not just gentrification. Jobs and other meaningful social activities for their youth and young adults are also a major concern along with educational help.
Some years ago I partnered with a young African American community activist who was working in my hometown of East Point Georgia and during that time some local people who knew about my association with the Hindu community, said to me "𝑀𝑟. 𝑇𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑎𝑠𝑘 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝐻𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑢 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑡𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ 𝑢𝑠 ℎ𝑜𝑤 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑜 𝑏𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔." One reason for this question is that many of the small businesses in their communities are owned by Hindu community members.
I am serving as the 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐀𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, an organization focused on preserving and presenting the various aspects of the Hindu/Vedic culture, in a manner suitable for the present environment which is plagued by such issues as racism. This is the first time to my knowledge that they have elected an 𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐣𝐨𝐫 𝐇𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. I am honored to serve in this capacity and the support and encouragement have been tremendous.
So I am confident that with the vast resources of our Hindu/Vedic community, we can have a positive and powerful impact on developing our communities of color.
𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐲 𝐉 𝐓𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐦𝐚𝐧 (𝐁𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐫𝐚 𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐲𝐚 𝐃𝐚𝐬𝐚)
𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐕𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐜 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐀𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧