May 30, 2012
-- Fremont, CA. Over 125 Hindus from the San Francisco Bay area attended the Hinduism Summit (Dharmajagruti Sabha) held in Fremont Hindu Temple on Saturday, 12th May. The audience listened raptly as the speakers highlighted the scientific basis of Hindu concepts, emphasized the importance of maintaining a Hindu identity in America and addressed issues, such as denigration of Hinduism and genocide of Hindus. Many attendees commended the organizers, Fremont Hindu Temple and Forum for Hindu Awakening, on the event’s quality and educational value. Inspired by the event, several attendees want to join hands to understand, live and preserve Hinduism.
The Hinduism Summit commenced in a traditional Hindu way, with blowing of a conch, Vedic recitations and the speakers lighting a wick oil lamp. During the presentations, Hindu activist and avid reader of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti website, Nilesh Shirodkar warned about the adverse impacts of denigration that most people are unaware of. He appealed, “Do not condone the spiritual pollution caused by denigration in the name of freedom of expression, just as you do not condone noise or air pollution!”
The next speaker, a seeker from Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF), Amey Ranade presented SSRF’s research findings on vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian diet, wax vs. ghee lamp flame, cremation vs. burial, efficacy of Agnihotra sacrificial fire against nuclear fallout, etc. It showed the scientific nature of Hindu spiritual concepts and the advancement of Hindu Sages in spiritual research.
Linda Johnsen, an award winning author on Hinduism and the main speaker at this Summit, spoke passionately on ‘maintaining a Hindu identity in America – what every Hindu should know’. While sharing her observations about the issues faced by Hindus as a community, she cited the lack of Hindu Dharma education as the primary reason for the lack of identity for the community. She cited examples from her decades of studying and practicing Hinduism, such as at yoga camps, people of Hindu origin often know less about the spiritual importance of Hinduism and India than do the other yoga practitioners. She urged the audience to gain awareness about the glorious history of Hindus to successfully negotiate challenges like ridicule, bias and misconceptions about Hinduism, if they wish to raise their future generations to preserve a Hindu identity in a non-Hindu country like America.
Bhavna Shinde Hurley, spokesperson of Forum for Hindu Awakening, concluded the presentations with the topic, ‘Understanding, living and preserving Hinduism’. She shared some of the issues observed in North America concerning Hindus, such as distortion of Hinduism and Hindu History in academic textbooks, anti-Hindu bias in the media and physical attacks on Hindu temples. She explained that being a Hindu is the attitude of being sattva (spiritual purity) predominant. Hence, learning about Hindu concepts to increase the spiritual purity in and around oneself via Dharmik practices and promoting such education is the lasting way to understand, live and preserve Hinduism. Bhavna urged the audience to offer some time daily towards learning about the issues faced by Hindus, and to do some saadhana daily for greater success in overcoming the issues.
This event, 15th in the series of Hinduism Summits held in North America, Europe and Australia since mid-2009, concluded with near unanimous passing of resolutions of concern to the local Hindu community. The resolutions, namely offering Sanskrit - the language of ancient Hindu Scriptures - as a foreign language for public school students and investigating the human rights abuses by the Bangladeshi government against Bangladeshi Hindus, were signed by the attendees and will be duly mailed to the authorities. This was followed by a lively half hour of the Summit speakers answering questions by the attendees. They addressed practical questions like, ‘When we go to the temple do we have to pray to every Deity in the temple?’ ‘Is there physical evidence for spiritual research findings or spiritual concepts?’ ‘Should we stop protesting some denigration of Hindu Dharma if the perpetrator of the denigration like M. F. Husain do not withdraw the denigrating object/painting?’
The attendees spent the rest of the evening over the exhibition of posters and books on Hindu spirituality, history and Hinduism’s unique science.