The World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), a non-profit organization based in Natick, MA, setup a 2-day virtual conference – ‘REFLECTIONS@50: WALKING IN DHARMA’ on September 19-20 to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Organizers said more than 3,200 people from this country as well as internationally, attended the event where panelists reflected on the Hindu socio-cultural-spiritual movement in the US.
Four keynote speakers Vyomesh Joshi, CEO, 3D Systems; Vandana Tilak, CEO & Director, Akshaya Patra USA; Dr. Raj Vedam, scholar in Indian history, and Benny Tillman, president, Vedic Friends Association. They narrated their struggles and accomplishments upholding the ancient Hindu philosophy in America.
Joshi cited from the Bhagavad Gita, and spoke on how Hindu scriptures guided him in leading global companies as well as dealing with triumphs and setbacks.
Tilak reflected on the philanthropic work of Akshay Patra, a leading non-profit. “Children who have to go hungry is an injustice. Akshaya Patra serves 1.8 million vegetarian meals in 19,500 government schools in India in 15 states every single day. It has also served 8.2 million meals to date to stranded migrant workers since the lockdown on March 26. Seva is an unconditional exchange of love, thoughts, words and action,” Tilak noted.
Vedam, who is also the co-founder of the think-tank, Indian History Awareness & Research, based in Houston, contended, “There are growing attacks on the Hindu identity by organized groups with huge funding from abroad and within the country.”
He also alleged that “The media and universities have also turned into hotbeds of Hinduphobia. Hindu student groups face enormous backlash and anti-Hindu pressure by hate based organizations.”
One way to reclaim the Hindu identity, Vedam said, “is by becoming ambassadors to exemplify Dharma as a logical, rational, responsible system with solutions for global problems, living a dharmic lifestyle, learning about Hinduism, celebrating festivals, visiting temples, supporting scholars, institutions and organizing outreach talks and conferences.”
Tillman, also known as Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dasa, is the first African American Hindu President of the Vedic Friends Association based in Atlanta, GA. He said, “The uncertain situation in the world today presents an opportunity for Hindu leaders to offer practical solutions derived from the Vedas. The need of the hour is to create a more accessible process to introduce Hindu culture and philosophy to the public and reaching out to communities. I applaud the Hindu youth in Houston for their support in the Black Lives Matter movement.”
In the two-day webinar, other panels like “Hindu Youth – Being the Change Today for Better Tomorrow” and “Evolving Nature of Seva (service) in North America” were dedicated to youth and volunteerism to focusing on their current relevance.
“2020 is a landmark year for Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America. Established in 1970, we have completed 50 years of leading and serving the Hindu community,” Dr. Abhaya Asthana, president, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America said.