Second Chicago Hinduism Summit concludes successfully !

via Press Release published on June 7, 2010

Passionate speeches, a rapt audience, reverberations of an auspicious conch, the sound of ancient Sanskrit verses, a unique idol of Lord Ganesh on display and an exhibition of objects attacked by ghosts were just some of the highlights of the second Hinduism Summit held in Chicago on Nija Vaishakh Krushna Ashtami 5112 (5 June 2010) ! The Summit was held by the Forum for Hindu Awakening (FHA) and the Lake County Hindu Temple. Around 100 attendees in person and 200 attendees online took the benefit of this event.

Shri. Dileep Thatte, an ardent student of Hindu philosophy, has presented his “Seven Stars approach towards learning Hinduism” at various universities, groups and also at the recent World Parliament of Religions. Shri. Thatte spoke on ‘Learn the basics of Hinduism to counter misconceptions’. His lively speech spoke about how to get the youth of today interested in Hinduism. In his experience young people, around the age of 16-17 start asking fundamental questions about Hinduism, which often parents cannot answer. He feels that if those questions are answered clearly, the youth today will stay interested in Hinduism and identify themselves as Hindus. He shared a simplified version of the basics of Hinduism like non-duality, soul, Law of Karma, etc., to understand Hinduism and dispel common misconceptions about it.

Shri. Shrinarayan Chandak spoke about the anti-Hindu bias in the media. Shri. Chandak, a graduate of IIT Madras and IIT Chicago, and a long-time professional in the fields of Technology and Management Consulting, is a founding board member of Sewa International that is serving the needy through healthcare and education. Shri. Chandak’s presentation clearly illustrated the anti-Hindu bias in the media, its reasons and what can be done about it. The solutions he presented were based on Sree Krishna’s teachings and resonated with the audience. He shared examples of media coverage, of how he has worked with the media to present Hinduism accurately and in a positive light. He asked all organisations to work together in this cause and share media contacts.

Smt. Kalpana Sharma, a volunteer of the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF), spoke with conviction about the spiritual dimension underlying Hinduism concepts and Hindu issues. She presented SSRF’s spiritual research that shows that subtle negative energies breed unrighteousness (adharma) and so we have to learn about them and how to combat them if we are to be successful in preserving Hinduism. Her speech and videos provoked thought about the need to consider the spiritual dimension to effectively stop denigration and misconceptions about Hinduism, or anti-Hindu bias. The SSRF video demonstrated the power of Saints and the need for Their blessings in any mission.

Shri Hakumat Shroff of Lake County Hindu Mandir was felicitated for his efforts towards Hinduism. He welcomed everyone on behalf of the Hindu Mandir and urged them to share with others interested in Hinduism what they have learned at this Hindusm Summit. He reminded everyone that the Hindu temple is a place for Hindu worship, but also Hinduism education.

Shri. Dewang Gadoya, an avid reader of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti website, who had come for the Hinduism Summit all the way from Canada, spoke on ‘Know denigration and preserve Hinduism’. Shri. Gadoya spoke about what is Hinduism (Dharma) and how the denigration of Dharma today has resulted in the deteriorating condition of society. He shared the true impact of denigration at the psychological and subtle level. At the subtle level the kind of distressing vibrations the denigratory object creates affect us subtly, at the level of our thinking. It reduces the purity and clarity of our thinking, and consequentially, our actions. It sets the wrong precedent for initiates into Hindu Dharma, including the youth/children, as they feel then that it is ok to trivialize the sacred. “If one does not have reverence for the divine, how can one attain the devotion that is essential to worship and experience the divine?” he asked. He shared things that any person can do towards this cause, things within the reach of the common man, like protesting some denigration we come across, peacefully, but surely.

Dr. Richard Benkin spoke about the current situation of ethnic cleansing and religious persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. Dr. Benkin is a human rights activist, author and speaker. During his fiery speech, Dr. Benkin not only made all the attendees aware of the plight of Bangladeshi Hindus clearly, but also shared practical things for everyone to do toward this cause. He shared how 9 million Jews had stopped the might of the Russian government. How all Jewish people had got together and collected donations, started protests, held rallies, etc. If 9 million Jews can do that, there are 900 million Hindus! We should be able to do much more. It is our responsibility, no one else will do it. His practical tips included contacting our elected representatives regarding this situation; supporting his organization in whatever way we can; awakening the Hindu community to the plight of Hindus everywhere; holding any protests we can, however small, in front of the Bangladeshi consulate, etc. He shared that he had recently received 3 emails from Anti-Hindus asking him not to attend this Summit so whatever we were doing there must be working. He received spontaneous applause from the audience several times during his speech.

The final speaker, Smt. Bhavna had the audience spellbound as she spoke about the current challenges the Hindu community is facing. She emphasized that the main reason for the conversion and other problems faced by Hindus today is the lack of Hinduism Education. She said that such is the state of Dharma that the so-called scholars and educators of Hinduism today are either non-Hindu and often anti-Hindu, like Wendy Doniger, a professor of Hinduism at the University of Chicago. The solution is to take and impart education about Hinduism that shows its unique spiritual scientific basis. Once anyone knows that, including the youth, like Hindus apply vermillion (kumkum) for its spiritually pure properties that aid concentration, they will be inspired to understand, live and preserve Hinduism. Smt. Shinde also shared how to be a Hindu by promoting spiritual purity in oneself and in the surroundings. How the quickest way to attain the aim of Hinduism, God realisation, is through the grace of the Guru. She ended the speech with a saying that in the current age of Kaliyug there is strength in unity and urged Hindus to make concerted efforts to preserve Hinduism. She shared a success story of how just a few Hindus protesting denigrating books in the academia have been able to stop the books from being given awards or circulated further. The audience applauded section after section of her speech.

The summit concluded with unanimous passing of the following resolutions (some of them will be submitted to our policy makers) :

   1. The Bangladeshi government should be pressured to stop the persecution of Bangladeshi Hindus!
   2. We shall create awareness about the plight of our Bangladeshi Hindu brethren !
   3. Hinduism should be recognized as a major religion as are others like Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism !
   4. We shall protest every denigration of Hinduism peacefully but surely !
   5. We shall not support any art, product, academic textbook or media that denigrate Hindu concepts and practices !
   6. We shall take Dharma Education ourselves and impart it to our children and others, who are interested in Hinduism !

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