Hindu University of America’s Gala in Houston Honors Bhutada Family

Ramesh Bhutada speaking at the Friends of HUA Gala. Photos by Bijay Dixitt.

HOUSTON: Hindu University of America (HUA), in association with Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH), hosted a Friends of HUA Gala evening on March 26, 2023, at VPSS Haveli, Houston. The gala, which was attended by about 500 community members, honored Kiran and Ramesh Bhutada and their family for their generous gift of $1 million dollars to HUA. Ramesh Bhutada, CEO of Star Pipe Products, is a successful Houston-based businessman and philanthropist.

The gala opened with the auspicious lighting of the lamp followed by a musical performance by HUA faculty’s Dr Kanniks Kannikeswaran. His ensemble of Hindu classical singers accompanied by Western music instrumentalists set the tone for the evening. He engaged the audience by having them hum along as well as sing some of the lyrics. His performance received a standing ovation.

This was followed by a short video on HUA’s courses and programs, as well as the experiences of students and faculty. Chairman of the HUA Board and Padma Bhushan awardee Ved Nanda and HUA President Kalyan Viswanathan spoke about the rejuvenation of HUA, its current state, and its future roadmap. Houston-based faculty members Dr. Raj Vedam and Chandra Raghu shared their thoughts as well.

HUA Board members from L to R: Dr. Yelloji Mirajkar, Member of the Board of Overseers Dr. Jashwant Patel, Trustee, and Chair, Finance Committee, Mr. Suresh Gupta, Trustee, Prof. Ved Nanda, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Ramesh Bhutada, Donor and Guest of honor Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan, President, HUA, Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Trustee, Mr. Narsimha Koppula, Trustee, Dr. Gopi Vasudevan, Member, Fundraising Committee

The evening’s highlight was Ramesh Bhutada’s address, where he shared why he chose to support HUA.  Despite being born and raised in a traditional Hindu family and being a member of several prominent Hindu organizations and traditions, he stated that he “did not really understand the essence of Hindu Dharma.” It took him 60 years to recognize the silver spoon that he was born with, that is, to understand the true essence of Hindu Dharma, “which teaches us how to live in harmony within ourselves, with our family, friends, colleagues, and with the entire world. Other universities may impart knowledge for students to earn a livelihood. Only an institution like HUA can impart Hindu knowledge that teaches a student how to live their life.”

Stressing the fact that he did not want the next generation of Hindus to take as long as he did, Ramesh Bhutada urged the attendees to support HUA so that the youth of today and tomorrow can gain the knowledge and understanding of Hinduism much earlier in life, enabling them to live happy, productive lives for themselves and for the benefit of the entire world.

Chairman of the HUA Board and Padma Bhushan awardee Ved Nanda, Ramesh Bhutada, Kiran Bhutada, and HGH President Thara Narsimhan

Drawing on his personal experiences as well as narratives from the Hindu American community, Ramesh Bhutada noted that the traditional Hindu upbringing and teachings about Hinduism within the family and home environment alone is not sufficient. Knowledge, he underlined, imparted by established educational institutions in the modern academic setting is critical to ensure the younger generations understand and apply Hinduism in their lives.

HUA President Kalyan Viswanathan also called on all the attendees to “come together to build a Hindu university that lasts a 1,000 years just like the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur which has stood strong for over 1,000 years, or like the Nalanda University that was a beacon to the world for 1,700 years before it was destroyed.” He further shared that “over the next five years, HUA aspired to become self-sustaining, and establish itself as a shared platform for all Hindu traditions and organizations to offer their teachings.”

Proclaiming that the institution belongs to the entire Hindu community, HUA Chairman Ved Nanda stated that HUA “will seek to become an authoritative voice in the academic domain for all matters pertaining to Hindu Dharma, not only in the United States, but also globally.” He invited friends and well-wishers from all Hindu-American organizations, community leaders, and members to support HUA’s efforts in becoming a leading hub for Hindu knowledge and learning.

Dr Kanniks Kannikeswaran & his musical ensemble delivered a scintillating performance at HUA Houston Gala

Other remarks included well-known Houston-based Physicist and Yoga Instructor Robert Boustany, who stated that the “awareness dinner of HUA highlighted the necessity of all our seva in developing an educational system true to the deepest history of India in order to preserve that wisdom and value for our children and grandchildren” Chairman of HGH Board of Advisors Rasesh Dalal said, “Hindus can work wonders when they work diligently with unity. The success of the HUA event is a live example!” Emcee Ahimsa Yukta, a freshman at the University of Texas, Dallas, said that HUA’s motto – “That is knowledge which liberates”, was so inspiring that he was motivated to take a course at the university.

Volunteer support was provided by members of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Houston.

About Hindu University of America (HUA)

The Hindu University of America was founded with the vision of promoting dialogue across disciplines, cultures, and civilizations while enabling self-discovery, conscious evolution, and harmony. Its mission is to provide education in knowledge systems based on Hindu thought involving critical inquiry, ethics, and self-reflection. Committed to fostering the culture and traditions of Hindu Dharma in an atmosphere of academic excellence and freedom, it prepares students for service, leadership, and global engagement.

Since Oct 2019, more than 2600 students have taken courses at HUA, and close to 75 students are currently enrolled in Masters’ and Doctoral programs. HUA offers 15 different continuing education programs with over 150 courses taught by more than 70 faculty members. The motto of HUA is that Vidya, or true Knowledge is that which liberates.

Established in 1989 and authorized by the Govt of Florida in 1993, HUA has been offering online courses since 2019 in various aspects of Hindu Dharma, tradition, and culture. For more information, please visit www.hua.edu or contact +1-407-205-2118 or email  info@hua.edu . You may support and participate in HUA’s mission by going to: http://hua.edu/Houston