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
My dear Maya and Ravi:
On an invitation from your grandparents Dr. Dilip Doctor and Dr. Dipika Doctor, Swami Chidananda Saraswati, found-er and president of Parmath Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India, addressed Internation-al Vedic Vision at Maya Auditorium in Sands Point, (Long Island) New York on August 8. I was a moderator for the event. International Vedic Vision Foundation publishes Vedic Science quarterly, and has published more than 10 books. Dr. Dilip Doctor is the founder president and Dr. Dipika Doctor is secretary-treasurer of this tax-free foundation formed in 1988 to make people aware of India’s contribution to world civilization by inviting scholars at seminars, especially for younger generations, and to establish peace and harmony between followers of different faiths.
Pramarth Niketan Ashram at Rishikesh, India, is a spiritual haven, lying on the holy banks of the Ganga, in the lap of the lush Himalayas. It provides thousands of pilgrims with a clean, pure and sacred atmosphere as well as abundant, beautiful gardens. Pilgrims come here from all corners of the world. With over 1,000 rooms, the facilities are a perfect blend of modern amenities and traditional, spiritual simplicity. True to its name, Parmarth Niketan is dedicated to the welfare of all. Everything is open to all and free to all.
Swami Chidananda Saraswati is the founder and chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation, also, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to humanitarian and cultural projects. Founded in 1987, IHRF is committed to preserving the timeless wisdom and ageless grandeur of India’s culture. By weaving together ancient tradition, cultural history, a wide range of non-discriminatory charitable services, and inspiring youth programs, IHRF has created a tapestry of true, universal beauty.
IHRF is currently completing a revolutionary project of compiling the first Encyclo-pedia of Hinduism in history. The Encyclopedia will mark for the first time that the urgent need is met for an authentic, objective and insightful well of information, capturing both the staples and spices of Indian tradition and culture. The Encyclopedia of Hinduism will be a significant landmark, encompassing the entire spectrum of India. The Encyclopedia will encompass, for the first time in history, the depth and breadth of Hindu history, civilization, culture, art, architecture, spirituality and much more.
My problem is with the use of word Hindu and Hinduism. Dr. Samina Quareshi writes in Legacy of Indus on page 25: “The longest of the three great sub-continental rivers is the Indus, in Pakistan. The river has given its name to a country and a religion — ironically, not the country through which it flows nor the religion of the people, who live by its waters.” It is not that Persians could not speak “s” or “sh.” How do the Persians pronounce words like Shia, Sunni and Shariat? In Punjabi there are many words of Persian origin, which start with “s” and “sh.” For example, sardar or sirdar (leader), shaheed (martyr), shahadat (martyrdom) sher (lion), shaher (town), shayar (poet). There should be another origin and meaning of word “Hindu.” Explanation given by British historians that Persians used “h” for “s” and that is how “Sindhu”became “Hindu” is not convincing. Persians did speak “s.” Anyway, the word “Hindu” was a geographic term and should not be used for religion. Hinduism is not a religion, but a culture of certain geographic region. Until recently, Muslims going to Haj were being recorded as Hindu Muslims, meaning Muslims from India. Many famous authors have used word “Hindu” for Indians. Founders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad included Jain, Buddhist and Sikh leaders.
— Grandpa’s blessing