Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, known affectionately as Gurudeva, was one of the best-known teachers of Hinduism in the world for the last five decades of the 20th Century. He established an ashram in Hawaii that became the base for his global travels promoting the Saivite Hindu tradition. He taught a spiritual path of inner effort, yogic striving and personal transformation.
Gurudeva was especially concerned to reach the Hindu diaspora, so in his travels he supported the establishment of many temples for immigrant communities. He wrote more than 30 books and established the influential magazine Hinduism Today. The magazine alone was an innovative approach to interfaith relations, because Gurudeva shaped the magazine’s content to provide well-written, colorful overviews of various Hindu beliefs and traditions so that non-Hindus would enjoy reading each issue. His leadership in teaching and media played a significant role in a late-20th-Century renaissance of Hinduism.
Though he labored to strengthen and expand the Hindu community, Gurudeva was also a leader in the global interfaith movement. He was the Hindu representative for the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival. He joined with other religious, scientific and political leaders to work together on proposals for what they described as a common human future. Such efforts were one way that he worked out his teaching that people should live every moment in harmony and love for all peoples. He was such a significant leader in this field that he was elected one of the three presidents at the centenary Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993.
Within his campaign to establish new Hindu temples, he welcomed the participation of people from other faiths. When he established the first Hindu temple in Alaska, he invited native people in the region to participate in the event.
People in the political community appreciated his involvement in peacemaking efforts in the wider human family, culminating in his receiving the United Nations U Thant Peace Award in 2000. With his death in 2001 he left a rich heritage for his monks and other followers to continue.