Mumbai: The Bhakti Centre (TBC), located in the heart of Manhattan, an educational and cultural centre centered on the Vedic values, recently hosted a unique confluence of academicians, diplomats, researchers, monks and in general enthusiasts concerned with the topic of sustainability according to a release issue here.
“Sustainability from the Inside Out”, as the conference was named, was hosted conjointly by Govardhan Eco Village, Mumbai and the Sacred Ecology Forum at TBC yesterday, to explore the profound connection between the practice of yoga and the sustainability of the Earth and its resources ahead of the International Yoga Day.
The conference began with Gauranga Das, Director, GEV and Vice-President, ISKCON Chowpatty explaining the inspiration and history behind the conception of the event – as a follow up to the conference on “Hinduism and Ecology” which was held last year in GEV, as a unique way to commemorate International Yoga Day, and as an offering to His Holiness Radhanath Swami, who has remained the spiritual powerhouse behind both these projects, GEV and TBC, which started coincidently around the same time, 2003.
The discussion was around the broad theme of the role of spirituality in providing a narrative to the question of sustainability. Mr. Sandeep Chakravorty, the current Consul General of India, stressed the human role and the need of inner change to address the question of climate change. He mentioned about the role of austerity and frugality in abating the blazing fires of consumerism – quoting Gandhi, “There is enough for everybody's need and not for anybody's greed.”
The academia was represented by Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker and Dr. John Grim who are the Co-Directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, and Dr. David Haberman who is the Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. Mary and John stressed the need of shared future for a better future – where religious values can assist science and technology for a sustainable future. They quoted and lauded GEV as an example of a fine “engaged project” – which shows the confluence of spiritual values and a working ground model where the values have been duly applied.
Professor Haberman made his presentation on explaining how practically all aspects of nature, be it stones, trees and rivers are all considered sacred in Vedic fold – focusing much on the example of Govardhan worship. He stressed how Krishna, Himself taught by His example when he advocated the worship of the hill Govardhan.
HH Radhanath Swami explained that the crisis of environment is actually the crisis of human spirit – the state of environment is actually an external manifestation of the ecology of the heart. His Holiness quoted examples from the life of his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada how he personally cared for Krihsna creation – be it being upset on a severed tree in an ISKCON property, instructing disciples about a leaking faucet in a farm or shedding tears for a struggling insect on the floor – and these all amidst his busy schedule of translating Shrimad Bhagavatam and preaching worldwide.
Among other dignitaries, Anita Patiala, Agricultural Counselor, US Embassy Costa Rica and Dr. Peter Whitehouse, President, Intergenerational Schools International shared their personal journeys in the field of religion and sustainability. The program was also decorated with a beautiful musical rendition of Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Sri Yamunastakam by Jahnavi Jivana Devi Dasi.