Review of Reflections @ 50: Legacy of Hindus in North America

By Thara Narasimhan

REFLECTIONS@50: WALKING IN DHARMA held on Sept. 20th, 2020 included the # 6 Panel discussion on Hindu American Vanaprasti Network (HAVAN) with a chosen topic “ The Legacy of the Hindus in North America.” The panelists consisted of diverse background of professionals to share their views about the contribution of Hindus in America in the past five decades and their legacy to the younger generation. The overall coordinators were Kumar Dave and Vinod Gupta from World Hindu Council-VHPA. Kumar informed that there are about 100,000 retirees since the past 10 years and another100,000 expected to retire in the next 10 years.

The Moderator Dr. Yash Lakra described the theme of the panel and introduced the four Panelists,Dr. Prasad Jayanti, Thara Narasimhan, Dr. Jai Bansal and Dr. Rewati Teeparti.

Dr. Yash Lakra, in his opening remarks quoted the verse” Na Saa Sabhaa Yatra Na Santi Vriddhaa” Meaning:  It is not an Assembly or Conference, where wise old men are not included. He said that the older generation should not be considered as a dispensable generation as their wealth of knowledge is a treasure for all. The panel was very well planned to present each Panelist in the order they were preassigned and discussion on topics addressed to each Panelist.

Dr. Prasad Jayanthi, Professor of computer science at Dartmouth College favorite interest of synthesizing spiritual (not religious) education and secular or mainstream education. He highlighted that essentially “Jnana”, Spiritual Knowledge and Vijnana, Scientific Knowledge is Vijnana. From the 1960s onwards Indian Americans were the most highly educated immigrants in the United States. He shared that Dartmouth College is the first and only University in the USA to have Saraswati Mandir inside the College campus. “Shanti,” Tucker’s Hindu student organization, was founded in 2002 by student and community members in the Dartmouth area interested in practicing, learning about, and representing the Hindu faith.

Mrs. Thara Narasimhan, President of Hindus of Greater Houston hosts a weekly radio program on Sanatan Dharma and related subjects. Her talk included, “Prachar” on the Radio and “Prasar “Reaching out to the community. She made America her home for 40 yrs. and her husband arrived in 53 years ago. They have now retired and enjoying their “Vanaprasti Status”.  Prachar- On Broadcast Media,”On Air” was started by Padmakant Khambhati,  the Voice of Sanatan Hindusim Radio program nearly 30 years ago. His idea was to share the Sanatan Vedic Dharma that emphasizes on many aspects of its core principles and publicize special announcements. “Prasar,” reaching out to the Community she referred to Raj Syal, another visionary who started the Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH), bringing together “Unity among Hindus”, a concept made possible in Houston for last 30 years. When responding to question about negative press in Western Media, she said we need to check for credible facts, and to push the positives rather than being defensive. As Hindu Parents and Grandparents we hold the torch to explain lofty ideals and values of our Eternal Dharma.

Dr. Jai Bansal was a last-minute addition to the Panel as Panelist Dhiru Shah could not join due to health reasons. Dr. Bansal retired in 2014 as the Chief Scientific Officer and Global Technology Advisor from a global petrochemical company, after a 38-year long career in variety of leadership roles. Following his retirement, he is an active member World Hindu Council and VHPA. He is also the convener of Reflections@50 conference. His talk centered around “Vanaprasti” definition and reflected how the Golden Years of the early immigrants can be a huge asset for the Hindu community. In the age of technological progress, he said “if 2 machines can talk, 2 generations can come together that will engage and benefit both generations. He suggested that “A Match Making” facility be provided between the young and the old, where the young seek expert advice on their relevant topics.

Dr. Rewati Teeparti, is a Medical Practitioner and Hospitalist specializing in Geriatrics, a medical specialty of taking care of older population. She discussed the “Purusharthas,” the four aims of a human life and how it relates to health. Use of Turmeric for instance has become a global treatment to develop immunity. Yoga and Meditation have its roots from our Ancient Hindu practices is a gift given to the world that we can take pride of our accomplishment. She suggested to all the use of the “Grandmother Effect”, that has a huge impact when it comes to building a strong society, culture when they bond together.

In conclusion Dr. Yash Lakra summed up the talks with quotes in both Hindi and Urdu. He said that not to ignore the invaluable assets built by the first-generation immigrants were the pioneers who lead the way to develop and nurture the greatness of Sanatan Dharma. Vinod Gupta thanked the Moderator, Panelists and all those who attended and sent feedback on this session. He concluded saying that our message is well served when all are inspired by the legacy of the pioneering generation of Hindu Americans.