DARTMOUTH, MASSACHUCETES, USA, July 25, 2012: Dartmouth, MA, July 25, 2012 – The World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) held a successful Tenth International Conference at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth MA from July 13-15. This conference was co-sponsored by the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
After holding its first International conference in Atlanta, GA in 1996, WAVES has attracted scholars from all over the world to its ten conferences which are known to feature open discussions and scholarly presentations on topics generally related to the Vedas and Indology. Scholars present talks on related topics from historical, linguistic, anthropological, gender, archeological, astronomical, philosophical, and other perspectives. Scholars traveled from many parts of the world to participate and present at the conference, including from India, Spain, Canada, Russia, and Australia.
The conference started with an invocation and Vedic chanting, and a blowing of the conch which traditionally marks the auspicious beginning of an event in Vedic culture. “I have attended many past WAVES conferences, but this was by far the most attended, with a large number of scholars gathering at one place” said Dr. Madan Lal Goel, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Florida. About 250 people attended this three-day conference. There were over 160 scholarly presentations, in addition to Panel discussions, Keynote speeches, and the performance of a Havan according to Vedic guidelines. Sanjay Saxena of the Gayatri Pariwar gave a wonderful demonstration of Vedic havans that have been performed for thousands of years, while explaining the significance of the various mantras involved.
The main theme of the conference as envisioned by the general Chairman of the conference, Dr. Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus at California State University was “Vedic Cultures – Epic and Pauranic Phase”. Many scholars had their paper centered around this main theme. “This is the largest number of overseas presenters I have ever seen at any WAVES conference” observed Dhirendra Shah, a WAVES founding member and its current Treasurer. He added that with the help of current technology, some presenters were able to present their papers remotely via satellite, and were able to watch the proceedings of the conference via live streaming on their computers.
This conference was the second WAVES conference where a special track was designed for Youth presentations. Ravi Jaishankar and Sarika Persaud from the Hindu Students Council (HSC) remarked that “It was nice to see the younger generation presenting their views and findings on wide ranging topics within the Vedic Studies fold.” As part of the youth track, over a dozen young students from the American Vivekananda Academy, run by WAVES BOD member Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, participated in the conference and made heartfelt and thought-provoking presentations ranging in topic from the plight of Hindu Bhutanese refugees in Nepal to the challenges of practicing Dharma faced by youth in America.
Dr. Bina Gupta from the University of Missouri Columbia mentioned in her speech that most conferences have a large slant towards Eurocentric concepts, and that this conference was one of the few that presented ideas from an alternative perspective. She mentioned that most PhD granting departments do not introduce Indian Philosophy. The philosophy taught by most institutions is generally analytical, theoretical and logical, whereas Indian Philosophy additionally deals with the practical.