There are some commanalities among world religions - Dr.Yashwant Pathak
Dr. Yashwant Pathak obtained his B.S. in Pharmacy (1975), M.S. in Pharmacy (1977), and Ph.D. in Pharmacy (1989) from the Nagpur University in Nagpur, India. Dr. Pathak was a Visiting Fellow with the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine at the University of London in England in 1987. He was also a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1989 and an American Heart Association of Michigan fellow at the University of Michigan in 1990. Dr. Pathak was also a Visiting Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Paris in Paris, France in 1991. He has received numerous appointments in academia as well as the research arena. He has 65 publications, including 2 books, and has completed 24 research projects.
Apart from his academic interests, he has worked in over 45 countries throughout the world, studying the ancient traditions and cultures of Native Americans, Africans, Maoris, Australian aboriginals, Hindus and others. He has been associated with the International Center for Cultural Studies and the World Council of Elders of The Ancient Traditions and Cultures. We recently had him in Denver, and DesiShades could get some time to talk to him. It was a bit late in the evening, and he was very active, despite of his tight schedule since morning.
DesiShades asked about his current project International Center for Cultural Studies, and he explained -
"ICCS was started in 1993 in India with a goal to provide vital and innovative scholarship and training to young people, and to conduct research in ancient traditions around the world. In 1999 this has been registered as a non-profit organization in USA. We are organizing conferences in collaboration with World Congress of Ethnic religions and The National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna of Guatemala and many other organizations. With the collaboration, ICCS has stated a forum called World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures (WCATC)".
"We organized the first international conference and gathering of elders in Bombay attended by 200 delegates from 31 countries with a theme "We all are related". People from all pre-Christian traditions such as African, Native American, Australian aborigines, Mavurian have attended the conference. They performed ceremonies like fire, water, havan etc. We were all working in revival and renaissance of the Indian traditions of Native Americans".
"The second conference was held in Jaipur in 2006 with a theme of ‘Spirituality beyond Religion’. Nearly 41 countries participated in this conference that went on for 6 days. We served them vegetarian food and they were all so impressed with it. I met an African elderly person in Guyana. When I was referring to him about the discussion topic his wife was reading bible and he pointed the context to the Bible. He also said "books came later and the spirituality and humanity were from the beginning". That is how they understand the religion".
"During the Jaipur conference, the 257 delegates who attended the conference took their traditions to 30,000 students. They discussed about their own religion, traditions, cultures and their country. They went to different schools to have 3-hour long discussions with the school students. The kids were introduced to 17 different religions. All these people were singing in their own languages".
"We organize these conferences once in 3 years. The third conference is going to be held in Nagpur from Jan 31st to Feb 5th 2009. The theme we have decided for the third conference is "Renaissance of the Ancient traditions: Challenges and Solutions".
"We have planned such that all the delegates will pray in their own language. If a person attends this conference for that 2hrs, one will see 30-35 different languages of the world. We are having two things in the conferences. One is prayer which is applicable to total humanity, such as "Sarvejana Sukhino Bhavanthu", that is applicable to total humanity. We, in India, had so many saints, scriptures, traditions who spoke in 3000 different languages. But none of them imposed any one to follow their own path. All these philosophies spoke in different languages is for the total humanity and human beings in totality".
"It was noticed that Africans follow a tradition to invite the spirits of their parents and grand parents, and great grand parents during ceremony, similar to what we have. This shows some connectivity between different traditions. The purpose of ICCS is to bring all the commonalities between different traditions and the good things from all of them".
Dr. Pathak was explaining his role in Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh -
"I was associated with HSS since its inception in USA in 1989. I came here as a Post Doctoral and I started a Shakha before HSS was registered. First Shakha was started in early 60's by Dr. Mishra in Houston. Dr. Shinde, Dr. Mehta and all other senior people used to meet in a house of young people in New York".
"When HSS was registered in 1989, I was made responsible for the Africa Shakha and in 1997 I was appointed as a Joint Co-ordinator for all over the world. I have traveled almost all the sates in USA. I am glad to see the Shakhas growing form 4-5 Shakhas with no pracharaks to 110 Shakhas today, with 7 full-time pracharaks in USA. It is a significant growth is Sangha for the past 10-15 years. We are also doing different projects like KBRE, Surya Namaskara Yagna every year. Earlier we used to have only one common Hindu camp for all over USA, and today we have individually organized camps for every region. These timely projects brought many young karyakartas to the shakhas. Two kids born and raised in US became karyakartas this year".
It was a very short conversation with Dr.Pathak, but very much interesting and knowledgeable.
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