Niranjan Shah, a civil engineer, who pioneered famous high-rise buildings in Baroda, is a broadcaster in India and the USA and a prolific writer. Under “A Letter from Grandpa.” he has been writing since 2002 on India’s historical, philosophical, and literary heritage. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Niranjan Shah
Dear Nikita and Sanjna:
About two weeks ago, India Community Center Building Committee, Board of Trusties and Executive Committee announced opening of the Center, located at 1595 NYS Route 26, Vestal, New York on the morning of Sunday, September 26, 2010. New York State Senator Thomas Libous will declare the building open. County Executive Barbara Fiala, Donna Lu-pardo, 126th District Repre-sentative, and Supervisor Pete Andreasen will be the guests of honor. While talking to Dr. Ramesh Bhandari, he mentioned about the opening of India Cultural Center. Whether it is termed India Community Center or India Cultural Center, the building is going to be used for cultural activities. Even religious temples declare themselves as temples and cultural centers. Sri Venkateswara Temple (Balaji Mandir) at 1075 Route 202/206 at Bridgewater, New Jersey, is known as Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of USA, Inc. Similarly, Anoopam Mission has built Swami-narayan Temple at Coplay near Allentown in Pennsylvania known as “Shree Swami-narayan Spiritual and Cultural Center.”
At present, 192 countries of the world are members of the United Nations. Two recognized independent countries, the Vatican City and Kosovo, are not members of the United Nations. People from India have settled in 101 countries, out of these 192 countries. After British gov-ernment moved immigrants from India to different regions of the world, for its need of workers on farms and factories, about 24 million Indians have spread across the world. They have assimilated with local people maintaining traditional values, and yet adapting to the customs of the local people. They have blended themselves into local mainstream. Many Indians hold high political and social positions and ranks like lords, justices, members of parliaments, governors, and even as high as prime ministers and presidents of the countries. They lived in isolation in the beginning, but have never developed isolated residential towns, like “India Towns” anywhere. India has never attacked any country in history, when it was super-power.
India has never engaged in economic or political exploitation of the host culture or society, when it was capable of doing so. India has proved that settlements can take place without colonial excesses and that way of living can transport culture. Recently Lisa Miller wrote in Newsweek an article whether Americans are becoming Hindus! Similarly we have read Julia Roberts accepting some Hindu ways of living. Several countries of Southeast even today are centers of Indian culture. Indians went there, settled there and local people found Indian culture good and accepted it.
Ancient Indians, goaded by impulses higher than the spur of necessity had swarmed the world. They built cultural or community centers known now as temples as is being done now around the world. These cultural centers should be great enough to draw attention of local people either by their activities or greatness of structures. They built great temples at Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia, which even today provide great history of India. Similarly temples, community centers and cultural centers being built today in other adopted countries will provide history to future generations. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha has built great temples and cultural centers in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and Toronto, and is now ready to build Akshardham, depicting 10,000 years of cultural history of India and the world.
Mark Twain wrote in Following The Equator: “This is India! Cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition.” French historian Monsieur Delbos writes: “The influence of that (India’s) civilization worked out thousands of years ago in India is around and about us every day of our lives. It pervades every corner of the civilized world. Go to America and you find there, as in Europe, the influence of that civilization which came originally from the banks of the Ganges.”
— Grandpa’s blessing