Shanti, the Hindu organization at Dartmouth, held an event on Dec. 5 at Rollins Chapel to remember the victims of the November attacks in Mumbai, India. Titled "Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam," or "one global family," the event featured a prayer for peace, a lighting of the lamp, and a variety of readings and songs in the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Jewish, Native American, and Sikh traditions.
"We wanted to recognize the many precious lives lost," said Professor of Computer Science Prasad Jayanti, a practicing Hindu and the faculty advisor to Shanti. Jayanti said a Dartmouth graduate student in computer science lost his close friend of 14 years in the attacks. In Jayanti's remarks that evening, he asked that people strive "for a world in which we all understand that, even as we cherish our culture and our religion, we have a healthy respect for the next person who may have a different culture or religion." (read additional remarks below)
(l to r) Jyotsna Ghosh '12; Aparna Krishnan '12; Archana Murali, A&S graduate student; Karthik Sundararaman, Thayer '09; and Shreyan Poudyal '08, Thayer '09 at the Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (one global famiy) event to remember the victims of the Mumbai attacks. (Photo by Jeffrey Porter)
Shanti member Shreyan Poudal '08, Thayer '09, said it was heartwarming to see the turnout, especially the night before finals, and the audience was indicative of the diverse yet unified community at Dartmouth. "At a time where radicalism is becoming the face of religion, it was very consoling to see that everyone present at the event had common goals of peace and harmony, along with sympathy for the innocent victims, regardless of whatever faith they choose to follow."
Among the speakers of the evening included Rabbi Edward Boraz of the Dartmouth Hillel; Reverend Richard Crocker, Dean of the Tucker Foundation and Dartmouth College Chaplain; Sri Manohar Singh Grewal, a Sikh; Sri Abdul Majid, a Muslim; Gendo Allyn Field, a Zen Buddhist; Sri Rajneesh Jain, a Jain; and Sri Natarajan Sethuraman, a Hindu. Dartmouth's Occom Pond Singers performed an honor song in the Native American tradition.
Shanti has approximately 200 student members, both undergraduates and graduate students. Members gather for a Puja (prayer) every Friday night at the Hindu Temple in Rollins Chapel. Shanti's largest event of the year is the Diwali celebration, when 2500 lamps are lit on the Green to dispel the darkness of the darkest new moon day of the year.
Remarks from Professor Jayanti:
"The brutal acts of terror are increasingly perpetrated in the name of religion. But what is religion and what is spirituality? Science and spirituality are both our attempts to discover truth. While science seeks to discover the truth that governs the physical world, spirituality strives for the truth that transcends the physical world. Just as there cannot be different laws of gravity for men in different countries, the spiritual truth of this universe too has got to be the same regardless of how we label ourselves, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jain, Jew, or Sikh. Different religions are merely different vehicles to get us close to having a glimpse of the same spiritual truth. There is no reason to quibble that my methods, my culture, or my religion is the only way to realize that truth. So let us give up the temptation of wanting to convert everyone to our methods or our religion. This temptation is the sharp edge that gives rise to violence—physical, intellectual, and emotional. Let us blunt this sharp edge by striving for a world in which we all understand that, even as we cherish our culture and our religion, we have a healthy respect for the next person who may have a different culture or religion. Such understanding alone can lead to a harmonious global family, "Vasudhaika Kutumbam"—envisioned many thousands of years ago—and it is to express our commitment to work towards such a world, and to express our oneness with all the victims, their families and friends, that we have organized today's multi-faith prayer event."
Prayer from Reverend Richard Crocker:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226
By STEVEN J. SMITH
Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.
Last Updated: 1/6/09