Gandhi’s Birthday celebration on Oct. 2nd. at the Greater Baltimore Temple was a great success.The program started with a prayer and then a spritual dance by a High School student. The next part of the program was a very interesting one. Three students from one Middle School and two H.S. shared their experiences of nonviolence in past and present. Our keynote speaker was Dr. George Wolfe, Coordinator of Outreach Programs for the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Ball State University. Dr. Wolfe is also chair of the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship Cooperation Circle of URI North America.
His speech was on Gandhi’s philosophy and how it is practiced. This was explained in four parts:
1) Ahimsa (nonviolence) – Gandhi saw the concepts of ahimsa, truth and love as virtually inseparable. Ahimsa should be defined in the positive, that is, as reverence for life, and acting for the collective good as an act of love.
2) Satyagraha (truthful effort) – Sacrifical action whereby one allows oneself to become a public victim of an injustice to make the injustice visible to the public.
3) Tapasya (austerity) – A practice whereby one conserves one’s anger. As a form of meditation, one reflects on the anger that has arisen due to a conflict. This allows time for the anger to transform itself into a positive energy that enables a person to take a constructive reconciling course of action.
4) Swaraj - meaning “home rule,” but it also implies both personal and collective self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Gandhi called for the extensive use of non-cooperation in the forms of tax resistance, boycotts and acts of civil disobedience in an effort to strengthen local economies and cottage industries.
The Q/A period was equally enjoyable and was very informative. The program was concluded by Dr. Wolfe playing the composition by Japanese composer Ryo Noda entitled “Phoenix” (also known as Sun Bird in Hindu Veda). Professor Wolfe, a classical saxophonist, performed this unaccompanied solo on the alto saxophone.
What a fun afternoon!
Reported by Kali Mallik, URI in N.Am. Leadership Council Member, photos credit Dr. Raj.
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