VSGH Youth Convention Sparks Interest in Swami Vivekananda (Swamiji)

VSGH 1in

Judges from left: Dr. Chitra Divakaruni, Dr. Amrit Achari, Swami Sarvapriyananda.

By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: What better way to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s birthday than to organize a Youth Convention in his honor. That is what the Vedanta Society of Greater Houston (VSGH) devotees arranged to be staged on January 24 at the VSGH Center on Lindita Drive. What made it even more special was the presence of Swami Sarvapriyananda, who was invited by the VSGH specifically to grace this occasion. Having served already in the capacity of a Vice Principal, Principal and Registrar of different Ramakrishna Mission Institutions, he was an obvious choice to oversee the Youth Convention program at VSGH.

The afternoon was kicked off by a powerful talk by Sw. Sarvapriyananda on “Education and the Power of Mind” targeted towards the youth and the young at heart. He explained the limits of cognition and the capacity of the brain to process a maximum of 126 bits/second. He took the help of  Csíkszentmihályi’s flow graph to draw similarities between Yoga and Flow and stressed the importance of attention, focus and concentration by alluding to Winifred Gallagher’s book “Rapt”. At the end of the talk, the audience was divided up into 4 groups, group leaders were identified and were asked to answer the questions, “What are three advantages of concentration?”, and, “How does one apply flow in work study and play?” Enthusiastic group discussions followed and brought out several interesting points. A short guided meditation led by the Swami wrapped up the first half of the convention.

VSGH 2in

Contestants from left: Prathiba Duvuuri, Ananya Dhar, Alolika Sarkar, Gaurav Agrawal, Sagarika Roychoudhury, Milan Mitra and Girisa Sai Yaddanapudi.
Photos: Sanchali Basu

The second half was a multimedia presentation contest for the youth in 2 groups. Judges, Swami Sarvapriyananda, Dr. Amrit Achari and Dr. Chitra Divakaruni were introduced by emcee Dolon Das. The younger group dealt with the topic, “Swami Vivekananda’s Spirituality in childhood.” There were 3 speakers and each one, considering their tender age had delved deep into the topic and presented anecdotes from Swamiji’s life so well that one could listen to them over and over again.

The older group of 4 contestants dealt with, “Swamiji’s Accomplishments in the West.” Being more mature, their extensive research brought out some very interesting facts about Swamiji’s various trips to the west and the impact that he’d created starting off with his address at the Parliament of World Religions of, “Sisters and Brothers of America.” They felt that his teachings and messages are still valid to this day and they draw inspiration from them. Each presenter did ample justice to the topic and handled the questions asked by the judges very well. The presentations were followed by a summing up speech by Sw. Sarvapriyananda on Swamiji. He touched on Swamiji’s principles of universality and harmony of religions which are even more relevant in these modern days of global religious strife. The concept of each soul being potentially divine and the 4 paths of Yoga, Jnana, Bhakti, Raja and Karma stressed by Swamiji were also mentioned.

The convention ended with the award distribution ceremony, vote of thanks and a sumptuous meal catered by Gourmet India. It was heartening to see the interest in Swamiji amongst the youngsters. For information on future programs at VSGH please visit www.houstonvedanta.org.