Hindu Students Council

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Hindu Students Council (also known as HSC) is an organization of Hindu students in the United States of America and Canada. According to its website, it serves as an "international forum that provides opportunities to learn about Hindu heritage through various activities, events and projects." [1] It is an independent non-profit organization under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3).

The HSC was set up in 1990 with support from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, a constituent member of the right-wing [2] Indian Sangh Parivar; its current association with that body is a matter of some debate,[3][4] though it says that it became fully independent in 2003.[4][5] Prior to its separation from its parent organization, it was considered to be the student-wing of the VHP.[4][6][7][8][9]

It maintains cordial relations with temples and organizations in America including the Chinmaya Mission, BAPS, Gayatri Parivar, Barsana Dham, Ramakrishna Mission, Art of Living, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Indian Temple and Cultural Society of North America, ISKCON, Arya Samaj, Hindu Students Association, www.hinduamericanseva.org etc. The organization also has good relations with many Buddhist, Jain and Sikh organizations. Besides relations with Hindu/Indian organizations in America, HSC also maintain relations with youth organizations in Europe, Malaysia, and South Africa.[5]

Vision and goals[edit]

HSC describes itself as deriving its inspiration from the Sanatana Dharma, quoting the Rigveda.

The vision of HSC emerges from great realizations like:
  • Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: The entire creation is one family.
  • "Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti": Truth is one, sages call it by various names.
  • Sarve Api Sukhina Santu Sarve Santu Niramayah: Let everybody be happy, healthy, and blessed.[10]

It describes its goals as:

1. Provide opportunities to learn about Hindu heritage and culture.

2. Foster awareness of issues affecting Hindus.

3. Provide SEVA (service) to the community.

Activities[edit]

Activities of Hindu Students Council consist of celebration of festivals, talks and discussions on Hindu philosophy, Poojas (prayers), Yoga Sessions, interfaith events as well as Seva (service) initiatives.

  • In May 2011, Hindu Students Council held its 21st Annual Camp at Vraj Bhoomi in Schuylkill Haven, PA. More than 50 students across HSC’s 50 plus chapters attended the camp traveling from as far as California. Camp activities focused on facets of Hindu dharma, tradition, culture, and philosophy. The weekend schedule consisted of a series of discussions, debates, competitive games, aarti (prayer), bhajans (devotional songs), yoga/meditation sessions, and even martial arts and dancing (raas/bhangra).Dr. Jeffrey Long, a professor from Elizabethtown College, shared his path to Hinduism and stressed the importance of matching personal values to those of a religious practice. His stories illustrated his path to becoming a Hindu as a non-Indian complementing them with his personal beliefs.[11]
  • In March 2011, Hindu Students Council Chapter at University of Florida held a Southeast Regional Retreat. Saturday evening took place at Clearwater Beach, 20 miles outside of Tampa, where the soft sands and scenic horizon made it a night to remember. USF chapter president Gopal Amin led the retreat in reciting the 40 verses of the Hanuman Chalisa, a mantra to praise Lord Hanuman. Amin explained the significance behind the mantra for it is said that when recited, one is able to overcome many of life’s obstacles.[12]
  • The list of past events at Boston University Chapter include, among other things, a Saraswati Puja held on May 7, 2011, a "Dharma Week" held from March 26, 2011 to March 29, 2011, a Diwali Dinner held on November 7, 2010, a session entitled "No More Drama: 5 Simple Ways To Be Happier While Living On Campus", etc.[13]
  • In October 2010, University of Maryland College Park Chapter organized a "Hinduism Jeopardy". According to Darsh Nand, a student at UMD, "The laid back, and fun atmosphere of the game made learning about Hinduism really easy and fun.". Similarly, Sriram Raja, another student commented that "As an avid jeopardy viewer, I felt the HSC jeopardy game exceeded all my expectations educationally and it was a lot of fun."[14]
  • In October 2010, University of Maryland Baltimore County Chapter organized a large Garba event attended by about 450 people. "Amazing, I met new people," said Julia Luke, a sophomore student at UMBC[15]
  • In August 2010, Hindu Students Council sent a delegation to the White House Session on Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College & University Campuses. The goal of the conference was to find ways to advance interfaith and community service on college and university campuses.[16]
  • In March 2010, Hindu Students Council Chapter at University of Pittsburgh hosted a conference on Eastern Religions. The event was designed to give students the opportunity to learn about Eastern religions, said Kunj Gala, the council’s president. Pitt student Caitlin Kempf who attended the Eastern Religions Conference for the third time last night, said, "It’s interesting to hear about religion from a different perspective. The event gives a more broad understanding than religious classes would."[17]
  • In February 2010, Members of the Hindu Students Council (HSC), Hindu American Seva Charities, Hindu Collective Initiative of North America as well as others joined members of the Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in a dialogue on America’s National Security and its impact on various religious groups, especially minorities. Organized by the Islamic Center of New York University, the event featured John Brennan, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Mr. Brennan thanked the community members on behalf of President Obama for engaging the White House Office of Public Engagement in this dialogue.[18]
  • In November 2007, The University of Arkansas Chapter organized a lecture to clarify misconceptions about Hinduism. [Ketan] Chawla, the treasurer of the Hindu Students Council, explained that the group decided to have this lecture to clear up "various misconceptions about Hinduism especially about multiple Gods" and also the fact that the "caste system is looked down upon." The goal, Chawla said, was to provide "basic clarifications about Hinduism" and answers to questions that he commonly hears, such as asking "if we worship cows." "India has one-fifth of the world's population, but Hinduism is not considered a religion," Bhat said. "It is just considered a way of life." Many students attended the lecture to learn more about the central beliefs of Hinduism, including freshman Kathryn Crabtree. "I like to learn about different world religions, and I thought that [the lecture] would be interesting and informative," Crabtree said. "[The speaker] covered a broad range of what Hinduism is," said Crabtree, a pre-nursing and Middle Eastern studies major. ""This is the first time I've ever gotten to hear about Hinduism," said Manuel Medina, a student who attended the lecture.[19]
  • The Cornell Chapter has an annual Holi celebration. In 2006 and 2007, it saw over 600 students of all ethnic and religious groups celebrate the event on campus.[20][21][22][23]
  • The Cornell Chapter is also the Cornell Hindu Chaplency.[24]
  • In April 2007, the Emory Chapter, at the request of the Inter-Religious Council at Emory held a mock-Hindu wedding with over 200 attendees to show the study body how Hindu weddings are conducted and explain what the different rituals mean.[25]
  • In December 2004, Hindu Students Council participated in the World Hindu Youth Summit in Bali, Indonesia. This event provided participants of different backgrounds and orientations with a common ground to exchange ideas and interact on specific issues affecting the global community. In spirit and numbers, Hindu youth from around the world were able to create a dynamic atmosphere of Hindu 'unity in diversity.' A large number of delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, India and United States participated in this vibrant cultural immersion.[26]
  • In July 2003, HSC along with other organizations organized the Global Dharma Conference 2003 which was attended by approximately 2000 people. Speakers at the conference included President of India Abdul Kalam, former Governor of NJ James McGreevey, Deepak Chopra, Shankaracharya of Kanchi Peetham, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Jain Spiritual Leader Mahapragyaji, Dr. Kiran Bedi and many others. Famous Tabla Maestro Zakir Hussain and Indian Reggae and Bhangra Star Apache Indian performed at the conference.[27][28][29][30][31]

Stephen Warner, of the University of Illinois at Chicago reports that many HSC members see the organisation as a method to "reaffirm their Hindu identity" and "link them to their families".[32]

Awards[edit]

In 2011, Hindu Students Council was awarded Best Hindu Organization by the popular online portal About.com, a part of the New York Times Company.[33]

Status of affiliation with Sangh Parivar[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hindu Students Council - Registration for Annual Camp now Open
  2. ^ Performative Politics And The Cultures Of Hinduism: Public Uses of Religion in Western India, Raminder Kaur, Permanent Black, London, 2003
  3. ^ "Contemporary American Religion", Wade Clark Roof, Macmillan, p305.
  4. ^ a b c Hinduism Today | University | September/October 2001
  5. ^ a b welcome to hsc
  6. ^ "Politics After Television: Religious Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Indian Public", Arvind Rajagopal, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 257,
  7. ^ 2003 Yearbook, the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics
  8. ^ "The Struggle for India's Soul", Mira Kamdar, World Policy Journal.
  9. ^ "Negotiating Hindu Identities in America", by Diana Eck, in The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States Raymond Brady Williams, Harold G. Coward, John Russell Hinnells eds., State University of New York Press, 2001, p.234.
  10. ^ HSC Website
  11. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=348:hindu-youth-explore-plurality-of-and-challenges-to-hindu-dharma-at-21st-annual-hindu-students-council-camp&catid=37:press-release&Itemid=98
  12. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=341:southeast-regional-retreat-&catid=37:press-release&Itemid=98
  13. ^ http://people.bu.edu/buhsc/events/past.shtml
  14. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=323:umd-presents-hinduism-jeopardy-at-gbm&catid=57:campus-news&Itemid=96
  15. ^ http://www.retrieverweekly.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=5873&format=html
  16. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=286:hsc-students-attend-the-white-house-session&catid=57:campus-news&Itemid=96
  17. ^ "Eastern Religions Conference aims to educate students on faith". http://pittnews.com/newsstory/eastern-religions-conference-aims-to-educate-students-on-faith/
  18. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=245:hindu-americans-join-other-faiths-in-a-dialogue-on-national-security&catid=57:campus-news&Itemid=96
  19. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=231:u-arkansas-hindu-lecture-clears-up-misconceptions-about-religion-&catid=59:archived-campus-news&Itemid=99
  20. ^ Students Throw Colors, Celebrate Holi Festival | The Cornell Daily Sun
  21. ^ Holi Festival Celebrates Beginning of Spring | The Cornell Daily Sun
  22. ^ C.U. Celebrates Holi | The Cornell Daily Sun
  23. ^ Hindu Students Celebrate Holi | The Cornell Daily Sun
  24. ^ Cornell United Religious Work
  25. ^ http://media.www.emorywheel.com/media/storage/paper919/news/2007/04/24/News/Student.Life.Tying.The.Knot.The.Hindu.Way-2876121.shtml
  26. ^ http://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=256:bali-conference-world-hindu-youth-summit&catid=60:archived-press-releases&Itemid=100
  27. ^ http://www.dharmaconference.org/index.html
  28. ^ Global Dharma Conference: Speakers / Guests
  29. ^ http://www.dharmaconference.org/news/global_dharma_coverage_india_newsweek.pdf
  30. ^ Global Dharma Conference 2003 - An About.com Hinduism Report
  31. ^ comm-1&2.qxd
  32. ^ Youth & Religion Project:Modules.4
  33. ^ "The Best in Hinduism - 2011 Readers' Choice Awards" http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/ss/The-Best-In-Hinduism-2011-Readers-Choice-Awards_2.htm