Vedic Education as the Solution to International Water Crisis: ISKCON of Richmond Receives Special Guest
By Kelsey Watlington
On Saturday March 23, 2019, ISKCON of Richmond received an inspiring visit from National Convenor for National Ganga Mission, Dr. Snehal Donde, who gave a talk entitled “The Agony of Rivers”. Dr. Donde is the research officer at Bhaktivedanta Vidyapeeth Research Centre in Govardhan Eco Village in Mumbai. She works closely with His Holiness Radhanath Swami and His Grace Gauranga prabhu to advise in water conservation practices in the center. Dr. Donde has more than twenty-four years of experience in the fields of education, research, and administration. She holds two PhDs in the fields of Zoology and Management Studies, and is a senior associate of Rajendra Singh, a well-known water conservationist and recipient of the Stockholm Water Prize.
The primary issue Dr. Donde addressed is the increasing shortage of potable water as a result of increasing river siltation and severe erosions. In her presentation, she made It clear that these occurrences are not natural but are due to industrialization and unnecessary building of dams. These activities have resulted in groundwater aquifer depletion. Water scarcity has become a global crisis and source of international conflict, leading to forced migrations for those living in areas with no access to potable drinking water. Globally, urgent restoration is needed to restore our water aquifers, for which desilting of our rivers and water bodies is required.
While the problem was thoroughly explained, Dr. Donde did not stop there. Her talk also gave devotees a deeper understanding of “the special features of Ma Ganga” and the importance of mobilizing youth in mitigating ecological issues we face internationally. She then presented feasible solutions for the average person, arguing that the most effective way to combat the problem is through Vedic education. She agrees with the conclusion of the scriptures – that if we regard our rivers as mother and act responsibly, they can heal and our natural resources will ultimately be preserved.
Krishna confirms this in the Bhagavad Gita (6.29):
“A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me. Indeed, the self-realized person sees Me, the same Supreme Lord, everywhere.”
Dr. Donde argues that if we are educated spiritually, we can overcome these problems such as greed and ecological irresponsibility and start to see the world as Krishna has intended. She encourages us to still take it one step forward, reminding us that we can serve Krishna by becoming ambassadors for our most important natural resources. In order to continue her service through education, there is an upcoming opportunity for a PhD in Vedic Studies under Dr. Snehal and associates at Govardhan Eco Village.
There is no doubt that this seminar was incredibly special for devotees, and it has really inspired us to be more cognizant of our daily activities. We are working towards environmental service opportunities at the local level as prescribed by Dr. Donde. ISKCON of Richmond looks forward to inviting other prominent guest speakers in the near future.