Waves - Seventh International Hindu Conference
The three-day international conference with over 200 delegates at University of Central Florida, Orlando, that concluded on June 29, called for strong education and training of Hindu youth with many eternal values so that they can confront global problems and provide comprehensive solutions.
The concluding day’s session of 30 June 2008 of the seventh international conference of WAVES held in the University of Central Florida, Orlando, was highlighted by many notable contributions to advance the relevance of Vedic knowledge and traditions to resolve contemporary issues.
A unique feature of the conference this year was the participation of Hindu youth in day-long workshops jointly organized with Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Hindu Student Council (HSC) on June 30. These sessions were the most lively in the conference, and were very well attended. Hindu youth sitting on panels at the plenary session felt heard, empowered, and engaged in thoughts on their heritage and how it could shape their life and lives of future generations.
While the discussion was mostly for Indian American youth, young students who were born and raised in India pointed out that issues are similar for many youth growing up in cities or even otherwise, as there is no information available in the education system.
“We want to be listened to and heard by our parents so that together we can incorporate our heritage in our lives”, said Jaya Goswami, the past president of HSC Chapter at UCF, while commenting on the youth session.
“By being included in the WAVES Conference we feel empowered”, said Ruti Dwivedi, a junior at UCF.
Professor Madan Goel, General Secretary of WAVES and one of the organizers of the youth session said, “The attendance was great and the dialogue was lively and intense between the youth and the senior generation.”
Vajay Pallod, a young professional, and the other organizer of the youth session felt satisfied with the deliberations. “I am glad that the organizers gave plenty of time this time”, he said.
At the Intergeneration dialogue session, contemporary issues of the Hindus in America identified were: 1. Is there at all a need to establish one’s Hindu identity? While defining Hindu identity, measures have to be identified on how to deal with those who do not understand or appreciate the world-view of dharma, the global, eternal ethic.
Issues such as inter-religious marriage and Hindu value of all religions lead to the same God were discussed fiercely with many points and counterpoints. The interactive sessions among youth and Hindu Vedic scholars reiterated the imperative of detailing and disseminating sources of knowledge related to Hindu culture and heritage so that the younger generation Hindus living in America and other countries outside India can benefit by learning and practicing them.
During the audience participation, Shobana Daniel, a local media personality said, “being married to a non-Hindu, I can say that it is not easy when there is an attempt to convert you or your in laws think you are going to the hell.”
Participating in both youth sessions, Nikhil Joshi of HAF said, “I enjoyed my time at the conference”, and looked forward to such future conferences.
Another major topic of discussion included portrayal of Hinduism in the Western world. At the inauguration, Professor Francis Clooney of Harvard University presented a keynote address outlining a series of values, including intellectual tradition of Hindus that can benefit the religious life in America.
Professor T.S. Rukmani, who holds the position of Chair of Hindu Studies at Concordia University set the tone of the conference at the Inaugural session by outlining tremendous asset Hinduism brings to the world for social and environmental issues facing the world. Excited with the participation of young scholars, she said, “I am willing to mentor them to become strong scholars of Hindu philosophy.”
Aditi Banerjee, a young attorney practicing in Manhattan, discussed the contents of the book, Invading the Sacred, published recently, highlighting several issues of bias in academia such as the Hinduphobic works that resemble earlier American literature depicting non-whites as dangerous savages needing to be civilized by the West?
Prof. Nathan Katz of Florida International University, referred to the historic Hindu-Jewish Summit declaration issued in February 2008 by the Chief Rabbi of Israel and Swamy Dayananda Saraswati, Founder of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha.
Prof. Katz underscored that as diasporized religious communities, both Hindus and Jews strive preserve tradition while adapting to new circumstances.
Another aspect of Hindu portrayal was presented by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman who spoke on the ongoing attack on Hindu symbols: Sarasvati, Vedic language and cultural traditions.
Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation made a keynote presentation at the banquet session on the study of India by Europeans was dominated by Germans, British and French in the colonial era. Individual scholars came with positive as well as negative designs and agendas, and different European national interests played a key role.
Based on combination of a thorough research in history, literature, and politics, and a brilliant multivariate analysis, Malhotra has derived a new comprehensive theory for many of the ills facing the Indian Sub-continent, including today's Dravidianism, the Sri Lankan civil war, as well as US-based South Asian Studies are the legacies of this colonial Indology.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy, expounded in his valedictory address on the framework of Hindu religious thought and philosophy that has evolved as Sanatana Dharma, and encouraged scholars to continue scholarly deliberations at forums like WAVES to bring forward intellectual face and prowess of the tradition.
Prominent community leaders such as Braham Aggarwal, Anil Deshpande, and Subas Razdan actively participated in the conference, In his welcome address, Mr. Braham Aggarwal, one of the founders of the International Hindu University of America lauded the participation of the local communities in which Hindus were living in harmony.
John Bersia, Assistant to the President of University of Central Florida announced the India Studies Program started with the support of Anil Deshpande of Orlando at the University to foster a better understanding of Hindu traditions and India.
At the conference, there were plenary sessions/workshops on current practical problems. Yogi Amrit Desai presented a workshop on Amrit Yoga and demonstrated the effectiveness of Yoga to experience the reality of consciousness.
“This was so effective that I could experience how to feel no pain”, said exuberant Koyel Ghosal, a student attending the Conference.
A session on devising ways to use Hindu mandirs to disseminate Vedic values was chaired by Swamy Jyotirmayananda and Nachiketa Tiwari of Hindu Mandir Executive Conference in USA, and was attended by local Hindu temple committee members.
The session highlighted the importance of networking among temples, preparation of resource material for and training of the Hindu priests and education of the youth during the formative stages of their lives on the significance of symbols and metaphors of a Hindu temple.
Other prominent scholars at the conference included Professor Satya Prakash Agarwal, Dr. Kosal Vepa, Dr. Sannidhanam Sudarshan sharma, Dr. Vinod Deshmukh, Er. Himendra Thakur, Dr. Shashi Tiwari, Dr. Lothar Schaefer, Dr. Shivamurthy Shivacharya, and Mr. Jeffrey Armstrong.
There were some young scholars like Dr. Kundan Singh, Dr. Sunita Chandak, and Dr. Sampada Savardekar, Dr. Falguni Zaveri, Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan, amongst others who have taken up Vedic Studies for their careers.
WAVES President, Dr. Surendra Dwivedi, said ‘Dharmo rakshati rakshitah’, and felt relieved that a new generation of scholars are willing to promote these Vedic values.
The Conference was co-sponsored by University of Central Florida, University of Louisiana, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Mr. Dhiru Shah, treasurer of WAVES, thanks profusely the two local organizers, Mr. Abhinav Dwivedi and Dr. BVK Shastry of International Vedic Hindu University of America.
For further information, please contact Dr. Bal Ram Singh at 508-999-8588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your Comments
You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/
Lighting of the lamp by Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Mr. Braham Aggarwal, with the help Mr. Abhinav Dwivedi, as Dr. Donald Lyons, Mr. Anil Deshpande, Mr. Subhas Gupta look on.
Inaugural session – from left to right – Professor T.S. Rukmani, Yogi Amrit Desai, Dr. Subramanian Sway, Dr. Surendra Dwivedi, Mr. John Bersia, Prof. Francis Clooney, Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, and Mr. Anil Deshpande.
Conference delegates at the inaugural session
Youth session panel at WAVES Conference
Attendees of the Youth session
Jaya Goswami answering a question from the audience at the youth session
Organizers of youth conference Vijay Pallod and Dr. Madan Goel (from left) with panel members – Jaya Goswami, Jeffrey Armstrong (moderator), Swami Nirbhayananda Saraswathi, Nikhil Joshi, Ashwani Kaul, and Rajiv Malhotra
Some of the youth participants of the WAVES Conference 2008
Some of the delegates of the WAVES Conference 2008