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Wisdom for all
By John Gutierrez-Mier
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 03/16/2002 12:00 AM
His age is debatable. Some say he's 110, but others speculate he's much older.
Swami Buaji, visiting from New York,
blows a conch shell at the beginning
of a discussion. Buaji helped the Hindu
Temple of San Antonio celebrate its 13th anniversary.
  What's important, followers of Swami Buaji agree, is that he's a holy man whose wisdom spans the ages.

On a visit last weekend, he shared his insight with devotees at the Hindu Temple of San Antonio in its 13th anniversary celebration.

"I ask you one thing: Which is the organ of breathing?" asked Buaji, a diminutive man with a snow-white beard and bright eyes.

He had other questions: "Can scientists make a man? Why do humans fall ill?"

For a few hours, the swami peppered the audience with still more questions and some quick answers to them that regularly drew chuckles from about 70 men, women and children who filled the temple to hear him speak about yoga and meditation.

Yoga is the Hindu discipline and belief that one can reach a union with the universal soul through meditation, deep breathing and certain physical movements.

Buaji, who said his age doesn't matter, founded the Indo-American Yoga-Vedanta Society in New York City in 1972.
He explained to the audience that the knowledge he has accumulated is based on the Bhagavad Gita, the holy writings of Hinduism.

Earlier in the evening, he was welcomed to the temple with the pomp and fanfare that Hindu holy men and women regularly receive when they're the honored guests. "Swami" is a Hindu title of respect for religious teachers.

Devotees presented Buaji with a garland that he quickly put around his neck. Other gifts were offered, including a variety of fruits and spices.

Buaji then joined worshippers in a purification ceremony that was already being conducted on the temple grounds.

The focal point of the ritual was a fire tended by two priests and several other temple members. Honey, spices, butter and herbs imported from India were sprinkled into the flames, releasing a fragrant, sweet smell.

Mahesh Kapadia, the temple's board chairman, said the herbs replenished the ozone.

The ceremony is an annual celebration that involves three days of religious rituals to "recharge all of the deities" that are housed in several buildings of the temple, board member Rama Kushwaha said.
Deevi Acharyulu, a priest at the temple,participates in a purification ceremony.Priests and other worshippers tended a fire as part of the ritual.
"The purification clears out the negative energy from the past year," he said.

As the chanting came to a close, a bell was rung and ashes from the herbs were placed on a gold dish, then dabbed on the foreheads of the faithful. Later, a metal urn with a flickering flame was passed around, and they ran their hands over it, blessing themselves with the purifying fire.

With the fire still roaring, the crowd made its way into the main building to hear Buaji speak.

Dr. Rao Pemmeraju, who had invited the swami to San Antonio and housed him during his visit, introduced him.

"I met him in New York several years ago when he was part of the ceremonies in the opening session of the United Nations," Pemmeraju said. "Swami Buaji is ageless and one of the greatest living yoga masters."

Sitting on a large sofa, Buaji blew a conch shell for several minutes. He blows the same shell each year at the opening session of the United Nations. Then the questions began.
Members of the Hindu Temple of San
Antonio participate in a purification
ceremony that involved sprinkling honey,
spices, butter and herbs into a fire.
  Earlier in the day, Buaji sat bare-chested in the den of his host's house and talked about world peace and his own long life.

"I am not old," Buaji said. "There are nine secrets in man's life. Age is one of them.

" As for the prospect of peace, Buaji said wars have always been waged, and people should focus on uniting instead of killing one another.

"Peace cannot be obtained unless countries of all the world stop making weapons and selling them to each other,
" said Buaji, who strongly recommends that all humans refrain from eating meat, including fish and fowl. " Many countries are starving. Many people are poor. Countries should help one another."
At one point, Buaji, who has traveled all over the world talking about yoga and Hinduism, leaned forward and blew air out of his eye sockets.

Temple members said that the swami can blow the conch shell for eight hours straight on a single breath.

"He's much older than what people say he is," said Rani Pemmeraju, Rao's wife and a local yoga instructor. "He's a wonderful man."
Karen L. Shaw/Express-News
After a purification rite outside, members
of the Hindu Temple of San Antonio rang a
bell and wiped ashes from the fire on
their foreheads.
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