Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot

National Seminar : Synopsis

Seminar On Indian Culture & Philosophy

National Seminar on ‘Indian Culture & Philosophy’

In commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Abhedananda

Organised by Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot

On 3rd & 4th February, 2018



A two day long National Seminar was organized in the VIVEC Hall of Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot on 3rd & 4th February, 2018 to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Abhedanandaji, one of the Direct Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. About 800 delegates from 10 states of India mainly comprising of the youth participated in the seminar. Special invitees were also present in the seminar. The entire proceedings of the seminar were telecasted live in Youtube for all who could not attend the seminar. The Ashrama took this special initiative as a lot of people interested to participate in the seminar had to be refused as the space in the VIVEC hall was full to its capacity even after arranging for extra sitting space in the foyer of the VIVEC hall and also in the hall in the basement of the Temple with LED screen. Amplifiers were put in various places in the Ashrama campus so that the visitors too can benefit by listening to the proceedings of the seminar.

It was very encouraging to find almost all the delegates being seated on time quite before the programmes started after completing the due process of registration, collection of the folders with a brochure introducing the speakers, details of the programme and stationeries required to note down the salient points of the seminar, etc. All the delegates were given tea and snacks before they were guided by the volunteers of the Ashrama towards the VIVEC hall.  A Hindi film on Swami Vivekananda ‘Vivekananda Ki Atmakatha’ ( Vivekananda by Vivekananda) was shown to the delegates as a prelude to the seminar, which was watched by all in complete silence. The atmosphere of the hall was already prepared with the words of Swami Vivekananda reverberating in the air and the minds of the listeners.

The inaugural session of the seminar started at 10 a.m on 3rd February, 2018, Saturday. Prof. Dr. Jayarama Reddy, Chancellor, Shri Chandrsekharendra Saraswati Viswa Mahavidyalaya, Kanchipuram was the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour was Dr. Kamlesh Joshipura, former Vice-Chancellor, Saurashtra University. The speakers of the seminar and Swami Nikhileswaranandaji, Adhyaksha, Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot were also present on the dais in the inaugural session. The session started with vedic invocation by the sannyasins and brahmacharins of the Ramakrishna Order. The dignitaries present on the dais then lit the lamp in the traditional way. Swami Prabhusevanandaji felicitated the dignitaries on the dais by presenting flower bouquet. Swami Nikhileswaranandaji gave the welcome address and introduced the speakers to the delegates.

In his speech, Dr. Kamlesh Joshipura mentioned that as per the recent initiatives of the Government of India, values education has been included in the educational activities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the Nation. He was very glad to note that this seminar is contributing to achieve that goal of nation-building.

Dr. Jayarama Reddy summarised the spirit of the entire seminar in his speech. He remembered the words of Shri Ramakrishna that “As long do we live, so long do we learn”. Divinity is potential in all souls and that proves the oneness of all creatures. Philosophy is the eternal search to understand this truth. India is the meeting point of this search for time immemorial. So, the cultivation of Indian culture & philosophy is necessary in the present times to enhance peace and brotherhood between all. The teachings of the Buddha, Shankaracharya and other great spiritual teachers of ancient India have made Indian culture & philosophy the guiding light of modern civilization. Swami Vivekananda has added lustre to that light by emphasising the real aspects of Hinduism and the practical manifestation of the Upanishadic truths through his preaching work in the West. This Indian culture is still visible in our various festivals, puranas, scriptures, folklores, classical dances, music, folkdances, folksongs, food habits, dresses and many other matters of the day to day life. The culture of India is not only traditional but also rational in being able to prove their necessity and utility in human lives. There lies no doubt that the search of the modern world for peace with prosperity will end in connecting with the Indian culture. The session ended at 11 a.m with the presentation of gifts and mementos by Swami Nikhileswaranandaji to the dignitaries on the dais.

The first speaker of the first session was Dr. Omprakash Verma, Swami Vivekananda Chair Professor of Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He spoke in Hindi on the topic – ‘Swami Vivekananda – The True Ambassador of Indian Culture’. He shared with the delegates Swami Vivekananda’s historic contribution as the first Hindu monk to preach Indian Culture & Philosophy in the West in its true spirit based on the divinity of human life.

Dr. R Balasubramanium, Founder and Director, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, Mysore was the next speaker who delivered his address in English on the topic – ‘Indian Culture and Global Citizenship’. He drew the attention of the audience towards the differences that have been created in mankind by the influence of the so called modern civilization mainly based on technological advances. The idea of true global citizenship lies embedded in the feeling on ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ of Indian culture that teaches us to think of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ in every aspect of our lives.

Swami Muktidanandaji, Adhyaksha, Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Uttarakhand, Himalayas was the last speaker of the session who spoke in English on the topic – ‘The Unique Philosophy of Shri Ramakrishna Deva’. He shared about Shri Ramakrishna’s contribution to the world by harmonising the various religions on the basis of his own experience of their truth and propounding the utter practicality of the Upanishadic idea of oneness of all through the teaching of ‘Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva’.

All the delegates were greatly surprised in a special session after the lunch break that consisted of a presentation by a very talented boy of only 10 years, Shri Hemang Vellore from Hyderabad who shared his various achievements mainly in the field of robotics.

The second session started after a tea break.

Dr. Bikas Sanyal, former special advisor to Director General, UNESCO, Paris spoke in English on the topic – ‘Global Impact of Indian Culture’ as the first speaker of the second session. He narrated in brief about the various influences of the spiritual and cultural heritage of India in the entire world like yoga, meditation, ayurveda, music, etc.

Dr. Jayesh Shah, Ambassador, the Parliament of World’s Religions, Vadodara delivered his speech in Hindi on the topic – ‘Indian Culture & Inter-faith Harmony’. He quoted the vedic verse ‘Sahanau Avatu….’ and ‘Svam Gachhchhaddham…’ and explained that harmony has been always the message of India in the past and should also be the attitude of India in the future as a true representation of her culture.

The session ended at 5.00 p.m with a speech in Gujarati by Ms. Jyotiben Thanki, former Advisor, Children’s University, Gandhinagar on the topic – ‘Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi – an Epitome of Indian Culture’. Through various anecdotes from the life on Holy Mother, the speaker explained to the audience how Sri Ma Sarada Devi has expressed the highest manifestation of Indian culture and has put a model in front of all of us to follow and make our lives blessed.

Dr. Subhadra Desai, eminent classical vocalist, New Delhi presented a vocal recital in the VIVEC hall from 7.00 p.m to 8.30 p.m as a part of the National Seminar. After the rendition of a few ragas, she sang the ‘Prakritim Paramam’ stotram composed by Swami Abhedanandaji on the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi which was joined in chorus by the audience present in the Hall.

The programme of the second day of the seminar started on 4th February, 2018 at 9 a.m by vedic invocation and bhajans sung by the sannyasins and brahmacharins of the Ashrama with the entire hall being packed with the on timely presence of the delegates.

Swami Sarvasthanandji, Minister In-charge (Designate), Ramakrishna Vedanta Society, Bourne End, U.K was the first speaker in the third session of the seminar which started at 9.30 a.m . He delivered his speech in English on the topic – ‘The Uniqueness of Indian Culture’ by highlighting the various aspects like the divinity of human beings, motherhood of God, etc.

Padmashree Ms. Nivedita Bhide, Vice President, Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari was the next speaker of the session. She spoke in Hindi on the topic – ‘Ancient Indian Culture for Modern Women’. She shared a few real life incidents depicting the dilemma being faced by women under the influence of the modern social thoughts and also shared the solutions to those problems that are found in our ancient Indian culture.

Prof.N Ravichandran of IIM Ahmedabad gave the last speech of the session on the topic ‘Conflict Management through Indian Culture’ in a humourous way. Through two stories of Panchatantra, he shared a few teachings of Indian culture that can always guide one and all in the face of day to day conflicts.

The next session started after a tea break. It was an interactive session in which the speakers sat together on the dais and answered the various questions already submitted by the delegates.

There was also a session after lunch which included short presentations by two delegates from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. Swami Nikhileswaranandaji answered the questions addressed to him by the delegates.

The valedictory session started at 3.30 p.m. Representatives of the delegates, including two from UK shared their feedback regarding the seminar. Others also submitted their written feedbacks. It was a great satisfaction for the Ashrama to know that the seminar was appreciated by one and all.

Dr. Pratapsinh Chauhan, Vice Chancellor, Saurashtra University was the Chief Guest of the session. He expressed his interest to prepare a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the Saurashtra University and Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot so that such programmes for the students of the university can be organized regularly.

Swami Nikhileswaranandaji presented a follow up action plan to all the delegates followed by his vote of thanks.

Books on and by Swami Vivekananda were presented to all the delegates.

The seminar ended with the singing of the National Anthem followed by salutations to Bharatmata, Shri Ramakrishna Deva, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Abhedananda.

You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.- Swami Vivekananda

A few heart-whole, sincere, and energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob in a century.- Swami Vivekananda

Arise ! Awake ! And Stop Not Till the Goal is Reached.- Swami Vivekananda

All power is within you, you can do anything & everything !- Swami Vivekananda

To be good & to do good, that is the whole of religion.- Swami Vivekananda

Purity, Patience & Perseverance are the three essentials to success, and above all Love !- Swami Vivekananda

Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny !- Swami Vivekananda

We are what our thoughts have made us, so take care about what you think.- Swami Vivekananda