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Dr. Mahesh Mehta Talks To Lokvani

Ranjani Saigal

Dr. Mahesh Mehta is a prominent Hindu leader in the United States of America. He has relentlessly pursued over 30 years the interests of Hindus around the world while continuing to perform as a senior corporate executive in development of membrane technology and membrane products. He is the founder of World Hindu Council of America and served the organization in the capacity of General Secretary, President and Chairman of the Advisory Board. During his thirty years of active community life, Dr. Mehta has been instrumental in establishing various institutions in USA. Among the many institutions he has been involved in founding and developing the following are very significant: Hindu University of America, Orlando, Florida, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America, Houston, Texas, Hindu Heritage Foundation of America, Boston, India Quality Group Inc, Boston, Hindu Students Council, Friends of India Society International. He serves as Director on the Board of these organizations. He is the Vice Chairman of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Overseas, looking after global Hindu interests.

Dr. Mehta is an accomplished writer. He has written many articles on Hindu Dharma, Science and Spirituality and Indian issues. His recent book “ Hindu Philosophy in Action” deals with thirty years of networking in USA. Dr. Mehta is an inspiring orator and has inspired many Hindus to work for social transformation. Dr. Mehta’s favorite subjects include Indian History, Hindu Philosophy, Science and Spirituality, Education and technical development.

Dr. Mehta has to his credit a track record of organizing and directing major community events during his long involvement in community service.

Some major events conducted under his leadership in USA:

  • Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual Leaders at United Nations in 2000. Over 1000 leaders from all over the world participated in this major event. Dr. Mehta was the Chairman of the Programs committees coordinating and supporting over 108 delegates from India.
  • Global Vision 2000 In 1993 Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America organized a mega event to commemorate the centenary of Swami Vivekanand’s Chicago Address. This event attracted over 10,000 delegates from all over the world and also first time over 2,000 youths had their Youth Conference. The conference was addressed by many eminent personalities form many religious faiths, science, political leaders, social workers, artists and supported by hundreds of volunteers.
  • Vishwa Dharma Prassar Yaatra The message of Hindu Dharma, “ Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” The world is One Family was spread by Dharma Gurus under the guidance of World Hindu Council. These programs covered five continents, forty countries and fifty cities. Over a couple of thousand people participated in these programs. In each country the program committee recognized eminent leaders conferring on them Hindu Vibhushan Award.

Lokvani:What brought you to America?

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: Like many other Indians I came her to go to graduate school. I did my Ph.D in Polymer Science from Ohio State Universoty. I have been working in the field of membrane technology for many years.

Lokvani:What prompted you to make the interest of the Hindus the central focus of your life?

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: I felt in the seventies that many Hindus did not comfortable with their Hindu identity. The root cause of the problem was a lack of understanding of Hinduism amongst both Hindus and non Hindus. So I decided to focus my energy on educating everyone about Hinduism. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America was born to address this need. It is distinctly different from VHP India. Service projects are also a big part of VHP of America

Lokvani:You have established several organizations which work on two distinct areas – 1) At the grassroots level to help the needy 2) Trying to influence the politicians at the highest levels. What is the mission that prompted this?

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: My mission is to bring about social transformation in the Hindu society. In order to eliminate the ills of the society we must provide help to the downtrodden while influencing policies on the top. Organizations like the Ekal Vidyalaya foundation work on providing education to tribal children, where no schools exist. VHP service projects reach many children in need. It supports organizations dedicated to helping women. During the Gujarat earthquake we built a village in Kutch.

But in order to bring significant change we have to be in touch with and influence the leaders at the top as well to bring support for the right kind of initiatives.

Lokvani:You were part of the UN Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual Leaders at United Nations. Could you tell us a little about the millennium peace summit?

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: The millennium peace summit was very interesting. If you look around the world today the greatest problem is terrorism. This is caused by the belief that is held by many that there is only one right way of doing things and that is “their” way. They belive they have divine support and all those who do not believe in the religion is going to hell and deserves to be punished. This is caused by a lack of understanding of others beliefs. I think the UN summit offered opportunities for people to come together and talk. A very interesting fact surfaced at the meeting. The leaders of well established Christian groups from various countries were in complete agreement with me when it came to the topic of using bribes and other corrupt techniques for proselytizing. They felt such means of conversion violated fundamental human rights – the right to your own way of thought rather than the thought of the service provider.

Lokvani:You are presenting a seminar titled Vanaprastha. Is this old Hindu idea relevant in today’s context?

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: The beauty of Hinduism is that it is a flexible system that is valid at all times. We have two types of Dharmas in Hinduism – 1) Sanathana Dharma and the 2)Yuga Dharma. Sanathana Dharma is unchanging. Examples of this is “respect for all living beings”. This remains unchanged. But then there is Yuga Dharma – which is the Dharma that is decided by the demands of the time. For example “Sangatan” or organization is a Yuga Dharma a need of today. When we live in a global society, coming together is very essential.

The “Varnashram” concept is extremely relevant today. During the Bhramcharya we focus on individual growth. We get all the tools needed to make us a good citizen. We focus on taking care of ourselves. When we enter “Grahastha” we expand our work to include the good of the family. When the children leave home, you can now expand your work to include the good of the whole world. This is Vanaprastha. You do not have responsibility for your children and you and your spouse can dedicate time and resources to making a difference in the world. In America there will about 200,000 Indian America retirees. Instead of going to Florida and serving time , they need to explore opportunities to serve the society. The service may be provided next door or in the next country or perhaps in a country on the other side of the globe. I think these 200,000 people with amazing talent and resources can make a significant impact on issues around the world.

Lokvani:Any parting words of wisdom to the readers?

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: I request everyone to focus on the positives rather than negatives especially when it comes to the Indian culture and heritage. I am sure there are flaws in every system, but by focusing on the positive, which in the case of Hinduism and Indian culture far outweigh the negative you can gain from that heritage and make a significant impact on the world around you.

Lokvani: Thankyou for time.

Dr. Mahesh Mehta: Thank you.

To Learn more about the vanaprast seminar click here

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Mahesh Mehta, with Rita , Ramesh Advani and Ragini Mehta at the recent Hindu Heritage Festival

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