Dr. Abhaya Asthana
President – World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)
Namaste, Sri GurubhyoNamah.
It is an honor to speak to this wonderful audience today. 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.
As we stand at this crossroad, and behold the future, filled with aspirations and hope, we must also turn our gaze back on the amazing journey of 50 years, walking with Dharma in this land of America. There is much to learn about how Hindus have enriched and strengthened the strands of culture, knowledge, and community engagement, through their spirituality and enterprise.
It is not the case that Hindu thought was not there earlier. Emerson and Thoreau mused with it in the mid 1800’s and Swami Vivekanand, Swami Ram Tirth and ParamahansaYogananda whetted the curiosity of America further. But the earnest journey of Hindu thought in action, started with the Hindu immigrants in the 60’s and 70’s who actually lived and breathed the tradition. And it was to serve that nascent Hindu diaspora that VHPA was conceived by Dr. Mahesh Mehta and other founding members, with the blessings of Ma. Guru Golwalkarji.
Its founding vision was the all-embracing message of VasudhaivKutumbhakam – the whole world is a family, and its mission was to sustain Hindu Dharma as we struggled to build a home in America. Remarkably, that humble initiative of 1970 has blossomed into a formidable movement over five decades, with many Hindu organizations joining in partnership along the way. Every aspect of Hindu American life, for four generations, has been positively touched by VHPA through its visionary and transformational programs.
Today at Reflections, it is a day to gaze back into this journey with a vision for the future. As a community, how far have we travelled on this four-laned highway of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha? Where are we? Where do we want to be? And, what do we have to do, to get there?
To address these questions, we have chosen 8 important facets of our society as benchmarks. These are reflected in the 8 distinguished panels that we have organized:Women, Advocacy, Seva, Children, Youth, Elders, Dharmic Institutions, and Enterprise. In our midst we have inspiring Hindu leaders and visionaries, who seeded the Hindu movement.And as the conference unfolds over the next two days, we will have the opportunity to learn, on an array of topics, from many internationally renowned personalities, as keynote speakers and panelists.
Finally, as you know, the 50th anniversary event has been moved to next year Sept 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis. Today’s conference sets a solid foundation to deliver a memorable SJ 2021 event and signals the launch of that process.We are so delighted that you were able to join us today and we look forward to seeing you all, face to face, in the grand mega event at the Meadow Lands Expo Center next year, Sept 17-19, 2021.
Till then, Hari Om!
Abhaya Asthana, September 19, 2020