IN 1970 WHEN I WAS STILL IN COLLEGE doing graduate work in Illinois, I felt that as a person from India I was somehow expected to offer Americans some understanding of India and its spirituality. On campus, many yoga clubs had sprung up, and meditation groups were becoming popular. Words such as guru, incarnation, and of course yoga were becoming part of the daily vocabulary. Little did I realize then that I would myself become a dedicated student of the spirituality that my mother country, India, represents.
I soon found myself teaching yoga courses on campus and helping students deal with questions about yoga, meditation, and spirituality. I became a strict vegetarian, began meditation, and started seriously studying the Bhagavad-gita.
I began investigating the various teachers offering spiritual knowledge, both in India and overseas. I soon concluded that, amongst all these teachers, Srila Prabhupada was offering Indian, or Vedic, spirituality in its pure, unadulterated, and philosophically complete form.
I took great interest in what Srila Prabhupada was teaching, and for almost twenty years I've continued to do whatever I can to serve people in cultural and religious affairs, especially in our Asian Indian community.
Now I have taken on the work of helping the North American ISKCON temples coordinate their programs for the Indian community. This brings me in touch with many Indian temples and organizations, and I hope to be able to offer them my services toward bringing about greater understanding and unity and a common purpose for the benefit of all.
There are a multitude of Hindu temples and organizations all over the world, representing varied beliefs, practices, and goals. We sometimes wonder: What is Hin-duism, and who is a Hindu? Is it possible for the members of these diverse Hindu groups to find unity among themselves? I believe that it is.
I believe we can transcend those differences and find a true understanding of India and its spirituality. Indian culture has been misunderstood and mistreated for centuries, but I believe we can preserve the higher values of Indian life. More than this, we can find within ourselves the strength to offer people of all nations the gift of India's great spiritual culture.
From the Vedic scriptures we understand that in former ages the world was one unified kingdom, a kingdom of spiritual culture, with India as its capital. The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that even if spiritual culture declines, as it has in the present age, in India and amongst Indians it may at any time be quickly revived.
Srila Prabhupada and other great acaryas therefore dedicated great energy towards revitalizing India's spiritual culture. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly urged people from India to take advantage of their fortunate birth by making their lives perfect and then helping others perfect their lives too.
In talking with leaders of the Indian community in North America, I've found a broad range of topics that we as a community ought to deal with. And judging from what friends and devotees from other countries have told me, Indians in England and other parts of the world have similar concerns.
We are concerned not only for ourselves but also for the future of our younger generations. We are trying to transmit the Indian Vedic culture into the hearts of our young ones. But we all have our doubts. Will our descendants develop the deep understanding, commitment, and appreciation needed for the survival of a great culture? How should we train our children in these matters? If our children are losing their cultural values, are the children failing us, or are we failing them? And in either case, what should we do?
These are topics I'll be talking about in this column.
Navina Krsna Dasa (Naveen Khurana) was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1975. Originally from New Delhi, he holds an M.S. and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois You may write to him c/o BTG.