Bhutanese Hindu priests, volunteers and followers of Hindu faith from various states in the US and Canada attended the 2nd Bhutanese Hindu National Conference at Columbus, Ohio on August 9, 2015.
‘The oldest religion on planet Earth, Hinduism is better termed as ‘way of life’ that believes in philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning the world is one family, has guided our lives and shaped our way of living wherever we lived till now from the time unknown. The shared concepts and the spiritual values taught to the mankind by our pristine Vedas and Upanishads are but a vast science. It has become our prime responsibility to educate our children in this modern era to know the preserved values and beauties of the richest culture’, said Bhim Bastola one keynote speaker during his inaugural speech to the conference.
Speaking on one of the topics of the conference-need of a national level organization, Kashi Adhikari, Chairman of the Vedic Welfare Society of Columbus, Ohio, said- ‘By birth our ancestors are the family members of the Sanataan Dharma,the eternal law and the very legacy entrenched based on our faith, belief, the way of performing rituals is inherited onto us. Depending on where we lived, availability of the resources, type of governance we were ruled by and the level of education we achieved have prepared us and taught the way of following the principles of the Sanatan Dharma. Thus, people may see some disparity, inequality, and superstitious sounding culture among us, but the true essence of our culture is so pure and pious’.
‘We should not understand that sense of disparity and inequality is the spirit of Sanatan Hindu Dharma. No epics or our holy Upanishads carry any such clauses that encourages or patronizes inequality. The problems we are with are the outcome of the myopic views designed by the political rulers of the past. It will be a blunder to blame the philosophy. Philosophy is being misinterpreted and becoming cheaper’, Kashi further said.
Speaking to BNS, on behalf of the organizing committee Bhuwan Pakurel said, ‘We had our own way of practicing religions while in Bhutan. We practiced the same in the refugee camps too. While performing some practices we have adopted modified ways little differently. In the refugee camps, situation taught us differently to cope with then existing environment. Now we are practicing the same in a new and advanced place. We are in the advanced place, but our way of thinking requires timely refinement or rectification. The calendar that reads our important festivals and occasions is confusing us. Basically, the calendar we use is prepared based on the planetary positions calculated by the astrologers based on Nepal’s time zone and celestial positions. One of the efforts is to have uniformity in observing our festivals and special occasions. We should not confuse our younger generation any further. So had there been an organization of ours in the US that determines the appropriate dates and days- would lessen the confusion’.
So, we have gathered here on realizing the need of organizing a discussion among our Pundits (Gurus) and stakeholders to simplify or adopt some changes while performing some of the rituals and pujas. An individual or a selective group of people cannot make such decision. For an appropriate, long lasting and reasonable amendments on some of the important aspects of our practices we young generation seek guidance, suggestions and education from our reverent Gurus and Swamis. So we have regarded this conference- a warm-up session’.
Pundit Acharya Shree Bedhanidhi Subedi, Pundit Shree Bhim Prashad Timsina, Pundit Shree Ghana Shyam Regmi and Shree Ganga Ram Lamitaray applauded the initiative undertaken by the young generation in the quest of preserving the ancient Sanatan Dharma and its practices and divine values. They stressed in educating younger generation starting from home, festivals, pujas and ceremonies. Education is foremost for any types of developments. ‘The path to belief systems and practices our ancestors adopted is the foundation of all the sciences. Everything we practice has a scientific basis. Superficially, our practices may seem superstitious and many people see it so but are scientifically appropriate. Thus, the vast philosophy of the science is the Sanatan Dharma and timely simplification on modus operandi cannot be ignored and should always be par with our Upanishads’, they said.
Arjun Rasaily, a member of the ad hoc committee and one of the noted artists in the diaspora speaking during question-answer session said, ‘I am glad to see the needed discussions taking place. We have some problems. We all have seen and endured. We all are witnessing. Yes, we have some areas in practices requiring changes. And, this type of healthy discussions, interactions, conferences and broader consensus will definitely minimize or bring to an end those issues anticipating amendments. Let us work together, think together and give a better and stronger foundation to our richest culture respecting the broad spectrum of Sanatan Dharma. Beauty lies there- where respect, discipline and values is given due care. Our esteemed Upanishads have directed us for what to do and what not. Let us follow the principles.’
Arjun Pandit, another speaker of the conference expressed his happiness, ‘something had to start for better and has now begun. Working and thinking together brings a good and lasting result. The three Pra(s) Prayash, Pratickshya,and Prarthana of thousands for decades is now in the course to its fruition. It will be always easy to find a middle path for any difficulties or problems and we can. Realization is the best remedy to real healing. We should learn to respect everyone’s wishes and move ahead collectively to take our already rich culture to its new height, I am thrilled to see this thing happening.’
One of the key persons of organizing committee, Kamal Subedi, presented the structure, mission and vision of the proposed organization. ‘Without a goal we cannot move ahead. The goal we have envisioned today may be replaced entirely by a new one or may deserve some changes. Something well pondered structure should come before us and that shall guide us to the defined tracks, so that our younger generation can easily cope with what our prime vision teaches us. Flexibility should be adopted while addressing the issues and shaping the vision to make everyone feel that no one is excluded and has something to be proud of, but not at the cost of losing the divine thread that guided us spiritually to date and that is the true essence of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, Kamal Subedi said.
The conference ended by declaring an eleven membered ad hoc committee comprising of representatives from various states. The conference decided to assign Kamal Dhimal from North Carolina the coordinator of the committee.
Kamal Dhimal, the coordinator of the ad hoc committee said, ‘ the main work of this committee shall be -to organize series of interactions involving Pundits, priests, scholars- to identifying areas of discussions and specific practices and problems,-to include people from diverse groups in the discussion,-to compile and document the outcomes and present during the third conference.
One of the main objectives of the third conference shall be to constitute a formal representative body in the National level and start working for addressing the issues documented from different states. The date and venue of the third conference shall be discussed and made public’.
The first conference was held at Charlotte, North Carolina in 2013 coinciding with a community organized Saptaha Puran (seven days long recitation and oration of Shrimadh Bhagawad, a sacred epic of the Hindu Philosophy).