ISKCON Organizes “ENVIRO 2011” Conference
By Gopal Gaura Guru Das
Coimbatore (India), March 11, 2011: The Bhaktivedanta Academy, the educational wing of ISKCON Coimbatore organized “ENVIRO 2011” – a Conference on Youth and Environment at GRD auditorium, PSG College of Arts & Science as a pioneering effort in bringing the attention of youth and people in general to one of the most critical issue we face today – the rapid changes in climate and its consequences.
The Conference had 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winning IPCC Chairman Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri as Chief Guest. Bhakti Vinoda Swami, Director of Bhaktivedanta Academy & President ISKCON Coimbatore, Dr N Krishnakumar, Director and Chief Conservator of Forests IFGTB, Coimbatore, Shri Shankar Vanavarayar, National Chairman of CII Young Indians were present. Shri. G.Rangaswamy, Managing Trustee of PSG Institutions warmly welcomed Dr.Pachauri on his arrival.
Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri in his keynote address “Youth as Recipients of the Legacy of Environmental Crisis” brought out clear insights to the climatic concerns faced today such as food insecurity and global warming. With elaborate statistics supporting various viewpoints, Dr Rajendra Pachauri inspired youth to bring alternate lifestyle techniques to make the world a better place to live in. He reminded the audience that a tangible external change in climate is directly dependent on our readiness to simplify our needs. He urged the youth be the change like Gandhiji mentioned and asked them to initiate the process as vanguards of the future. He concluded by reading a verse from the Bhagavad Gita.
Bhakti Vinoda Swami in his presentation “Intelligent Living – The Lost Art of Simple Living & High Thinking – Indian Ethos” impressively brought out the ancient Indian culture and its time-tested principles of living in close harmony with nature. Expanding on Dr.Pachauri’s words, Maharaja traced the underlying cause of all environmental issues to today’s misguided, materialistic system of education where economic benefit alone is deified as the goal of all human activity. In contrast, the traditional Vedic model of education is aimed at solving the problems of life and becoming happy through “simple living and high thinking”.
Extensive quotes of ISKCON Founder-acharya Srila Prabhupada were used by Maharaja with the Bhagavad Gita as reference in understanding the tripartite dynamic relation- ship of Man, God and Nature. In a letter to his disciples at Bhaktivedanta Manor, UK (dated July 27,1973) Srila Prabhupada had stated that all external problems are manifestations of a deeper, more fundamental problem:
“Therefore our conclusion was that the real problem is not over-population or pollution, malnutrition etc., but the actual problem is Godlessness.”
(Unbeknownst to most participants at the Conference, a massive earthquake and tsunami were wreaking havoc in another part of the world during the same time, further confirming Srila Prabhupada’s statement that without being truly God-centered, humanity will face certain trouble.)
Following Srila Prabhupada’s clear conclusion, Maharaja emphatically stated that a life lived on nature’s gifts in God consciousness is the real need of the hour.
Explaining the story of Prithu Maharaja from the Bhagavata Purana, he delineated a special understanding of finite and infinite resources. He concluded that there shall be no scarcity or want of resources if people would only agree to obey God’s laws.
This was followed by student presentations on the subject.
The Conference included an interesting panel discussion with active participation from over 900 enthusiastic students from 33 colleges from various parts of Tamil-nadu and Kerala. Dr Krishnakumar answered queries on forest preservation while Shankar Vanavarayar answered questions pertaining to the future of business and industry in the light of the environmental crisis. Students got to see a series of short films on the ills of modern day living that has over-consumption and wastefulness as its hallmarks.
The winners of essay writing and poster design competitions were also congratulated. Video shows, gifts, and a sumptuous organic prasadam lunch added to the attraction. ENVIRO 2011 mementos and gifts of Srila Prabhupada’s books were offered to the dignitaries on stage.
The event was covered prominently in all the Newspapers and local TV channels.
The organizing team consisted of Bhakta Krishnakumar, Gopal Gaura Guru Das and Achyuta Gopinatha Das, Madhu Gopal Das, Shyama Gopa Das, Sankarshana Gaura Das, Sangini Visakha Das & team, Madhupati Das, Bhakta Dilip Rajkumar and Bhakta Purnakumar.
Dr. Pachauri appreciated the role of the Bhaktivedanta Academy in bringing cultural and ecological awareness among the younger generation. In a post event note to Bhakti Vinoda Maharaja he wrote:
“It was a great privilege to be part of the event that you had organized on “Youth as recipients of the legacy of environmental crisis”. I was greatly impressed and deeply moved by all that I saw on the occasion, and it was a privilege to spend time with you.”
The Academy is looking forward to organize ENVIRO 2012 based on a different theme within the umbrella issue of the Environmental crisis. Devotees interested in this conference can contact Bhakti Vinoda Swami at email@example.com, or visit www.enviroconference.info
The Bhaktivedanta Academy was set up in 2001 at Coimbatore to systematically educate devotees and people in general of the timeless teachings of Vedic knowledge as explained in the texts of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
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