By Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Megatrends is a term coined by futurist John Naisbitt in 1982 to name the major underlying forces, both positive and negative, that are transforming society and shaping the future. Naisbitt’s best-selling book, Megatrends, was enormously influential at the time in helping individuals, communities and nations understand and adapt to the changing times. In 1989 HINDUISM TODAY formulated ten Hindu megatrends to help Hindus worldwide understand the complex interaction of a rapidly advancing world with our ancient Sanatana Dharma. Our editors, at the behest of the magazine’s founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, solicited the insights of prominent Hindu religious leaders, scholars, priests and business people. The resulting ten trends proved useful to the global Hindu community and, in retrospect, were reasonably accurate.
So much has transpired since our first exposition of Hindu megatrends thirteen years ago that an update is in order. The 1990s and the opening few years of the new millennium have seen momentous events and advances, including the development of the Internet, the fall of communism, the emergence of India as a center for information technology and the financial boom of the 90s, which increased many a Hindu fortune. There has been a dramatic increase in migration of Hindus to America and Europe not only from India and Sri Lanka, but from countries of the 19th century diaspora, including Trinidad, Suriname, Mauritius and Fiji. This migration has reached the point where Hinduism has become a significant minority faith in many Western countries. And September 11 brought to the world’s sympathetic attention the unconscionable terrorism which India has suffered for more than a decade, a fact of life that will unfold in the years ahead as the issues in Kashmir are addressed.
Our editorial team formulated the original ten trends using the input of twelve Hindu leaders and our own knowledge of the Hindu world. This update is based on our own observations, the past 13 years of reports in Hinduism Today and input from several globally connected Hindus.
1-From Hindu Meekness To Hindu Pride
Though Swami Vivekananda began this trend a hundred years ago, even up to recent times Hindus were afraid to identify themselves as Hindus, or as members of a particular Hindu sect. Through the effort of many people and organizations, Hindu pride and self-confidence have replaced the self-doubt and timidness instilled during centuries of foreign rule. Native dress becomes fashionable.
A greater knowledge among Hindus of our traditions continues to contribute to the trend of increasing Hindu pride, as does the building of magnificent Hindu temples, such as the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, called the eighth wonder of the world by Reader’s Digest. It attracts over half-a-million visitors annually and is described by Bochasanwasi Shree Akshatar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha as representing the sacred faith and beliefs of a people that date back over 8,500 years. India has seen a decline in the popularity of communist doctrine and an unprecedented rise in Hindu identity and purpose. Suddenly in India it is almost faddish to be a good Hindu, and people who were once silent about their faith now speak openly and frequently about it. Easy Internet access to clear and unbiased information on Hinduism is offsetting the generally negative presentation of our religion common in Western and Indian media and sourcebooks. On the other hand, the generation born to Hindu parents outside of India and Sri Lanka is not strongly religious. Many of these children of the diaspora in the West, like their counterparts in other religions, are following the prevailing trend away from religion.
2-Village Awareness to Global Awareness
Hindus have lived outside India in countries such as South Africa or Fiji for over a century, but only now are we reaching beyond a limited village worldview, achieving a global consciousness and establishing worldwide communication. Among other results of this trend, Hindus are taking a prominent place among world religions in every forum.
Realizing that significant populations of Hindus have decided to permanently live in Europe and North America, organizations formerly found only in India are establishing new centers in these countries to be of service to a specific lineage or to the general Hindu community. The 300,000 Tamil Hindus now settled in and around Toronto, where they have created a traditional community and added measurably to Canada’s human resources, is an example of the trend. A greater global awareness also comes from families still in India having children living abroad in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere and regularly traveling to spend time with them.
The Internet, and especially e-mail, is allowing Hindus to create a global village of friendly contacts and information sharing.
A notable example of Hinduism’s finding its rightful place in the world was the massive presence of Hindu spiritual leaders at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations in New York in August, 2000. Hindu leaders are traveling and lecturing extensively, something uncommon fifty years ago.
3-From East Only to Both East and West
Not only have our people movedfrom East to West, but our Hindu truths have found welcome homes in many corners of Western life. The civil rights movement, the health/ vegetarian movement, the ecumenical movement, the “New Age” movement and the concern for the environment are all deeply affected by Hindu thinking. Subtle Hindu ideas find their way into mainstream world thought.
This trend continues as strongly as ever, seen, for example, in the common and accurate use of the word karma in movies and on television, both of which are adopting Hindu philosophy more and more. Hinduism’s tolerance for a wide variety of belief is setting a needed example in a world full of intolerance. Twenty-five percent of Americans believe in reincarnation, and the percentage increases each year. This trend has also been enhanced by the ready availability of clearer and less biased presentations of Hindu belief and practice. Ayurveda has become a household word in the past 10 years. Its sophisticated understanding of the causes and treatment of disease is welcomed by many seeking an alternative to the drugs and surgery style of Western allopathic medicine. Hinduism continues to get stronger in most countries of the old diasporaÑFiji, Guyana, Trinidad, Mauritius, Malaysia, whereas one might have thought fifty years ago that it would decline. The communities into which they have migrated, by the hundreds of thousands, such as the Suriname Hindus to Holland and the Guyanese to New York, are maintaining their unique Hindu identity there. Another trend is the increase of bringing Westerners into Hinduism as well as their receiving diksha, traditional initiation. One of our Chennai correspondents recently reported that in April of this year the respected elder of the Sivachariya priesthood of Chennai gave samaya diksha to an American lady, a professor at Harvard University,who adopted the name “Amba.” In recent times the scientific community, especially physicists and cosmologists, has looked to Hinduism for insights and answers to the most profound inquiries. There is a broader interest in Hinduism’s teachings of tolerance and nonviolence after the September 11 terrorist attacks including the need for domestic nonviolenceÑa home free of spousal and child abuse. This trend is highlighted by the presence of scholars like Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) at major Hindu events, by the presence of major ashrams in Europe, by Western pujaris actively performing regular Hindu rites at the Devi temple in Rochester, New York, and by our own Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order, which has Hindu monks from seven nations.
4-From Men Only to Men and Women
Reflecting a global trend among all nations, Hindu women are rapidly becoming more involved at all levels of Hindu religion. Some are influential religious leaders; others are instrumental in running large Hindu organizations. Hindu women are joining the work force and confronting “feminist” issues from an Eastern point of view. They no longer tolerate unfair treatment, such as forced marriages, abuse by their husbands or economic disadvantage.
For many decades it was the male swamis from India who were the most well-known exponents of Hinduism touring in the Western countries. However, recently it seems to be the women’s turn, as Mata Amritanandamayi Devi and Karunamayi Bhagavati Sri Sri Sri Vijayeswari Devi are the ones in the headlines. Tens of thousands have attended their gatherings during world tours, and the media reception has been warm. When our founder addressed 1,200 world spiritual leaders at the UN in New York in 2000, Hinduism and the other Indian-born religions were the only ones to have their women leaders speak from that prestigious podium. The number of women priests has dramatically increased since 1989, and they’ve found acceptance from the general population. Based on traditions followed in Vedic times, women are being given the sacred thread ceremony, especially in and around Pune. Today it is somewhat easier for women to get justice when faced with domestic violence or dowry abuse. This is especially helped by numerous women’s groups created to protect them from violence. The media voice of women is also growing with magazines such as the outspoken Manushi, published by Madhu Kishwar. On the other side, the advent of working mothers is leaving children without the stable home life of past generations, and a small but telling increase in divorce among Hindus is adding to the instability.
5-Temple Decline to Temple Renovation
Ever since the last Hindu kings lost power, Hindu temples and our priesthood have deteriorated. Right now, we are rediscovering their intrinsic value and religious necessity. Not only are new temples being built in many places outside of India, old temples in India are being renovated and the problems of the priesthood addressed. Likewise, other traditional family observances, e.g., samskaras, are being revitalized.
The wealth among Hindu families living in the West has increased significantly in the 90s. It is even postulated that nonresident Indians outside of India earn more money than all the people in India. As a result, generous donations are being sent to Hindu institutions in India by Hindus and non-Hindus in the West. The impact of this flow of money back to India appears to be increasing, and may be one of the most important happenings of the next few decades. Many ashrams and temples have been renovated and are expanding and building new facilities such asthe temple in Neasden, England, Tirupati temple in India and Sabarimala where 50 million make their pilgrimage each year. So many temples in Malaysia are being renovated, often with government monetary support, that there is kumbhabhishekam, rededication ceremony, every two to three months. The renovations in India are more often in private institutions than in those overseen by a state government. State governments in India are tending to invest money in those temples which are popular, while neglecting the many smaller ones. Contrary to our expectations in 1989, the problems of the Hindu priesthood continue without resolution (see sidebar page 23).
Responding to internal pressure and outside threats, Hindus creatively reach out to help and serve others. Various forms of institutionalization and ministry reflect stronger Hindu social consciousness. Our introverted village awareness has extroverted, leading to aggressive (and occasionally violent) solutions to our challenges and difficulties.
The massive response of Hindu groups to the January, 2001, earthquake in Gujarat proved the strength of this trend. In that disaster, Hindu religious organizations were second only to the Indian army in providing an immediate and effective response, eclipsing the Red Cross and other large relief groups. Later they were instrumental in both consoling survivors and rebuilding towns. In the spring of 2002 we saw shocking Hindu riots in Gujarat State. Though currently a minority, certain groups crying “we’ve suffered enough in meekness,” are aggressively condoning the use of violence in the name ofHindu pride and protection. Even the Prime Minister of India said he was “ashamed” of his fellow Hindus. Some defend the deadly riots as a justified reaction to the horrific Godhra massacre, while others question the wisdom of any such retaliatory violence. To the dismay of many peace-loving Hindus, friends and neighbors are increasingly crying out, “We have taken enough and will endure no more suffering in silence.” This vindictive attitude is growing, as outspoken Hindu aggressors call for revenge whenever Hindus are attacked. Hopefully, Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful ways will not be forgotten.
7-From Limited ToolstoAbundant Resources
Increased literacy in India and the need to teach Hinduism in multi-religious environments in other countries all lead to the development of sophisticated teaching toolsÑchildrens’ courses, Hindu schools and universities, academies for art, dance and music, Hindu encyclopedias, Sanskrit studies and more. Talented Western scholars provide unexpected resources with unbiased and in-depth studies of Hinduism.
Hinduism is benefitting immensely from the Internet. Although India’s phone network is still substandard, e-mail allows us to bypass the phone and fax era and have efficient and quality communications globally. Many Hindu leaders and institutions in India have found they are able to communicate easily via e-mail with devotees worldwide. The Ramakrishna Mission, for example, stepped into the information age when its young monks inspired it to adopt e-mail communication between its globally distributed centers. Additionally, Internet websites provide ease of access to information on Hinduism, from on-line dictionariesto real-time videos of temple events, easily located through the major search engines. Several Hindu encyclopedias have been published and there is a burgeoning demand for Indian books, multimedia CDs and websites. There are better teaching tools, but still not enough good material for children, for whom Indian comic books remain a primary and sorely inadequate source of information on Hinduism. A new part of this trend is the movement for Hindus to claim the scholarship of Hinduism and Indian history, rather than allow it to remain in the hands of Western scholars and universities. Just one aspect of this trend is the attempt to rid textbooks of incorrect Eurocentric interpretations of Indian history, including the discredited “Aryan Invasion” theory, which is the source of dozens, if not hundreds, of erroneous explanations and interpretations of Hindu beliefs and customs. Archeological discoveries are revealing that Indian spawned some of the highest cultures of the ancient world. Recently universities’ and schools’ have started offering courses in Sanskrit, Vedic astrology and temple ritual. Religious television channels in India are a new phenomenon. Some programs are little better than the comic books, but others are bringing India’s living saints and sages right into the living room. These shows are immensely popular, as the saints are giving talks on practical Hinduism and how it applies to daily life. Presentations of gifted, charismatic preachers, such as Morari Bapu, are now broadcast all over India. Newspapers and magazines are now running regular articles on Hindu concepts in simple, easy-to-understand ways.
8-From Colony to Superpower
India is emerging as the world’s newest superpower. This augments Hinduism’s newfound strength and unity, just as the material success of Western countries lent strength and authority to Christianity in the past.
The world’s view of India, its national strength and rich heritage, continues to improve. India is now an acknowledged nuclear power. The new sensitivity the world has to terrorism, following recent disclosures that Pakistan is harboring terrorists while India is a victim of terrorism, has shifted world moral support away from Pakistan and toward India. This has lead to more sympathetic and frequent Western news coverage of events in India which used to be totally ignored by the press. By extension, the Hindu faith is gaining respect in the Western press, examples being the supportive reports on Mata Amritanandamayi Devi in the New York Times and respectful articles about Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami’s passing in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the wire services.
9-Agricultural Era to Technological Era
Rapid technological advancement in Asia permanently transforms India and thus Hinduism. India’s mastery of nuclear power, space and computers will bring modern conveniences into even remote areas of India with unprecedented speed, bypassing some stages of development experienced in other parts of the world. The broadcasting of the Ramayana throughout India is just one example of how this affects Hinduism.
The continuing increase of India’s information technology expertise and the global recognition of it are improving India’s position in the world. The city of Bangalore alone has 1,000 software firms and 80,000 engineers. India exports us$6.2 billion in software annually. Technology in India is advancing at an accelerated pace due to a return of money and talent from abroad. There is a growing recognition of the need for appropriate technology, rather than energy- and resource-wasting methods. Thousands of highly educated Hindus have returned to India, bringing with them their global technological expertise. For example, Dr. Anil Rajvanshi, engineer-inventor, left a successful career in America to return to India where he focused on appropriate technology, developing an improved lantern and cycle rickshaw. The move from agricultural to technological is also a move out of villages into cities. Some of the consequences of this on the family unit are that the extended family support of the village is no longer there, leaving husband, wife and children on their own as a nuclear family. The move into cities is creating a growing middle class whose knowledge of Hinduism in some families is greater than their parents’ and who in general stand apart from Hinduism’s militant faction.
10-Major Blows to Fewer Setbacks
Sporadic abandonment of Hindu ideals causes localized setbacks, but nothing such as we’ve suffered in the past. The occasional adoption of violence to achieve some ends is the most obvious compromise of our ideals. Other negative trends include: the neglected religious education of children in the West (which has possibly caused the loss of an entire generation); the failure toencompass the inevitable intermarriages outside Hinduism; and the tendency to give up the vegetarian ideal. External hazards may continue along the lines of the failed attacks upon us by “anti-cult” movements and the worldwide confusion caused by non-Hindu Rajneesh.
The Hindu retaliatory attacks upon Muslims in Gujarat are an alarming development, which brings into question the wisdom of provocatively advocating the rebuilding of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which creates a volatile situation periodically erupting into significant Hindu-Muslim clashes. For major setbacks, Kashmir can hardly be equaled it has become the biggest challenge of the last decade from an outside military force, requiring the presence at the Pakistan border of nearly half-a-million Indian soldiers and raising the specter of nuclear confrontation. Its resolution will surely be on our list of trends for the next decade, unless something unanticipated comes from the fallout of September 11.
A consequence of the Hindu diaspora is an increased number of Hindus marrying outside their community, as subsequent generations become more and more identified with their new country. Cross-cultural marriages are more common among Hindu girls than boys. An unverified statistic we were given for the Houston, Texas, area is that ninety percent of Hindu girls and fifty percent of Hindu boys marry a non-Hindu. The question then is will the non-Hindu spouse be accepted into the Hindu community and be allowed to convert to Hinduism, or will the Hindu convert to the religion of the spouse, which leads to the Hindu community’s disappearance into mainstream America?
In England, many parents get brides for their sons from India, leaving fewer Hindu boys for the UK-born girls. There is, however, a trend for matches to be between Hindu boys and girls born in the country. As in Houston, more girls than boys marry outside the Hindu community.
Religious education of children is improving in some locales around the world, Malaysia being a notable example, though in other places the duty of passing our faith on to the children remains seriously neglected. Fortunately, the “cult” issue has declined as Indian Hindus have established hundreds of traditional temples in the West. Also, the general mood of the non-Hindu population in the West has shifted toward self-help and health-improvement interests and away from meditation, which is identified with Buddhism and Hinduism. The exception is hatha yoga which, as a stand-alone practice divorced from religion, has increased in popularity.
For some communities language is a problem in educating youth. Hindu leaders in England noted that most youth can’t understand the lectures given by the priests because they only speak in high Hindi. This discourages youth from going to the temple as well as from listening to lectures and learning the philosophy. This is less of a problem in the Tamil community, as most of their priests speak English.
One measure of how well the youth absorb Hindu values can be seen in the emergence of old-folks’ homes in England just for people from Southeast Asia. Aging parents are sent to such homes instead of living with their children, a break in tradition.
Malaysian youth are characterized by at least one religious leader as more interested in Western entertainment and ideas than in temples or Hinduism. He blames the trend on a lack of education on the basics of the religion. Hindu leaders in England do see a religious revival among the youth in the last few years as a result of several major youth festivals and Hindu youth groups. A very positive sign is the six UK-born young men who took sannyas, the lifetime vows of Hindu monasticism, in the BAPS Swaminarayan order of monks.
Focusing on the megatrends of Hinduism gives us a good sense of how Hinduism will develop over the next decade. It also allows us to influence this development by consciously taking advantage of the positive trends as well as focusing on finding and implementing solutions to the major problems. We were told that, as an important part of each Kumbha Mela gathering, Hindu spiritual leaders, the swamis and sadhus used to discuss such issues and present a consensus to guide the populace, but that this tradition of common agreement, known as vyavastha, has waned. Perhaps it can be revived, or at least supplemented, by making such discussion a central part of all Hindu symposiums and conferences. Your comments and suggestions on any of these trends is welcome. E-mail them email@example.com.
Nonviolence and Tolerance, Post 9/11
Hinduism’s Critical Strengths
The trend for the western world to draw on the spiritual practices of Hinduism such as hatha yoga and meditation has been significant for many years. However, since September 11 there is an increased interest in another aspect of Hinduism its teachings of nonviolence and tolerance. One of the consequences of the September 11 terrorist attacks was media coverage depicting people in a number of countries who strongly hate the United States, some to the point of wishing violence upon it. Watching these disturbing reports on television, we cannot help but be impressed by the extent and seriousness of the problem of prejudice. Attitudes of prejudice toward those of a different race, nation or religion can start simply as distrust, can then deepen into dislike and further fester into hatred, which can turn into a compulsion to inflict injury.
One measure of this strengthened interest in the Hindu teachings of nonviolence is the work of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence founded by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Dr. Arun Gandhi, and his wife Sunanda. Dr. Gandhi and his wife visited Hawaii in March, 2002, as part of the Season for Peace and Nonviolence, and we were able to hear them speak. Dr. Gandhi explained that he and his wife conceived the idea of a Season for Peace and Nonviolence as a way that every person can move the world in the direction of peace through daily choice and action based on compassion. The Season was first held in 1998 to honor the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Gandhi indicated that the response was much greater than anticipated, that in fact 400 major peace organizations, religious, business, arts and learning institutions became official co-sponsors of the Season, which drew massive media coverage, proclamations by half of all U.S. Governors, and spawned more than 300 ongoing programs in nonviolence in communities across the nation. What surprised Dr. Gandhi most was that interest in the Season has continued, and the event has been held every year since. Another measure of the increased interest in nonviolence is the high attendance at Dr. Gandhi’s lectures, which are not free. Since September 11, invitations to speak have increased significantly, to the point where he is regretfully unable to fill many of them. He is just one of the hundreds of spokesmen and women spreading the Hindu ideal of ahimsa, noninjury to others, whether by thought, word or deed.
There is a growing movement in India as well as in Hindu communities elsewhere against corporal punishment of children. A few major institutions in India, including the Ramakrishna Mission, Parmath Niketan, Omkarananda Ashram schools and Udayan Care orphanage, have formally adopted policies banning physical punishment of children under their care. Enforcement of the policy and education of teachers in alternative methods is not yet satisfactory, but the momentum of a trend is there. Udayan Care requires their entire staff to sign a written statement called the “Peaceful Parenting Pledge.” This is a good example of nonhurtfulness being taught, by example, to the next generation of Hindus. Such initiatives were encouraged by the landmark judgment from the Delhi High Court striking down the provision for corporal punishment provided under the Delhi School Education Act. The judge said it “violated the constitutional right guaranteeing equality and protection of life and personal liberty.” This precedent-setting ruling came in the wake of a petition filed by the Parents Forum for Meaningful Education, an organization helped and guided by New Delhi lawyer P.S. Sharda.
A Decline of Temple Priests
Can We Reverse this Regression?
Overall, the Hindu priesthood is in decline. Priests, both in India and in the West, are seriously underpaid. In some temples this motivates priests to aggressively approach devotees for money, often in a demanding and rude manner. Many brahmins whose fathers or grandfathers were priests have chosen other professions in which they can garner respect and earn a reasonable salary to provide their family a decent standard of living.
The amount of Sanskrit study and priestly training undergone is much less now than in the past. In some temples, pujas are being conducted in local languages, such as Tamil, rather in than the traditional Sanskrit. In some cases this is at the request of temple management or devotees and in others because the priest received only a simple training, and that in the local language.
Not being able to fully support themselves as priests, some are taking on a second job, such as teaching at a university. The temples they serve are neglected as a result. Our founder advocated one solution to this decline, at least in the West: priest-owned temples. A few priests have, in fact, started their own temples, including several in Toronto, Canada. With a far greater say in the management of the temple, these few priests are receiving the salary and the respect they deserve. In the West, a minister or priest is regarded as a professional, receiving a salary equal to a mid-level manager. Entire clans of priests, such as the Sivachariyas of South India, are exploring ways to open their own temples in the West. They know that fine temples require skilled, knowledgeable, dedicated priests to run them well and that well-run temples benefit and uplift entire communities.
The solution is much more complicated in India, where nearly all the temples are run by the state governments. The temple manager is a government employee, who may not even be religious. This unfortunate situation would have to be changed by a shift in governmental policy. One hopeful trend is the emergence of new schools, pathasalas, for priests in certain areas and a general increase in support for established schools. Another is that priests at some small local temples in India are actually gaining respect and being better taken care of by their community. On the other hand, complaints continue about greedy priests at large temples and famous pilgrimage sites.
Youth Religious Education
How Kids Carry on the Faith
Passing on Hindu traditions to the younger generation has always been a duty of parents. However, that duty is more difficult to fulfill in today’s world. Television, the Internet and computer games fill hours of many children’s daily life, significantly influencing their values, beliefs and attitudes. Some children are growing up in communities where Hindus are a small minority, and these children tend to take on the interests of their non-Hindu peers. Parents are also faced with an unprecedented number of questions about Hinduism. The younger generation, especially those educated in a Western style school, are taught to question and challenge, “Why do we do this?” Many of their parents were raised in the Eastern education system in which questions are discouraged. Therefore, when asked why this and why that by their children, parents find themselves ill-equipped to provide the answers. They never asked the questions of their parents, so they simply do not know. Clearly there is a heightened need to not only teach children the basics of Hinduism but to do so in a practical way, showing how their religion can benefit their life, bringing greater peace of mind, harmony, self-control and success.
There is a wide disparity between what various Hindu institutions offer to children. Have you ever visited a Hindu temple and found the adults inside attending puja while their children are running around outside playing? In such a situation, the children are obviously not learning much about Hinduism. They have been brought to the temple by their parents. When they are adults, how many will choose to attend? Many temples were built by devout first-generation Indian immigrants. Will the third generation, born in America, still be devout Hindus? That is the question and the challenge. On the positive side, there is a significant growth in the number of Hindu summer camps worldwide, which must be having a good influence. Wise temple managers have even given serious responsibilities, such as festival organizing, to their youth groups, and youth have responded well to these grown-up challenges, becoming more interested in Hinduism and engaged in the temple as a result. Another positive sign was seen in March, 2002, when the Tamil Nadu state government began Sunday spiritual classes in 63 Hindu shrines in which children are being taught sacred songs by the temple singers, and scriptures by the priests.
Contributors to the original Ten Hindu Megatrends in 1989:
Swami Bhasyananda, Vivekananda Vedanta Society, Illinois; Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Pitham, Pennsylvania; Swami Parvati Devyashram, Sri Rajarajeshwari Peetham, Pennsylvania; H.H. Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Institute, Virginia; Pundit R. Ravichandran, priest, California; Mr. Vidyasagar Anand, chairman, European Council of Hindu Organizations, UK; Dr. Mahesh Mehta, president, VHP of America, Massachusetts; Dr. S.M. Ponniah, advisor, Malaysia Hindu Sangam; Dr. David Knipe, Professor of South Asian Studies, Univ. Wisconsin; Dr. Seshagiri Rao, Professor of Hindu Religion, Univ. Virginia; Dr. H. Daniel Smith, Professor of Religion, Syracuse Univ., New York; Mr. Srikumar Poddar, businessman, Michigan.
Swami Guhabhaktananda, Divine Life Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Swami Shuddhananada Brahmachari of Lokenath Divine Life Mission, Kolkata; Om Prakash Sharma, president of the National Assoc. of Hindu Temples, UK.; Dr. V. P. Narayan Rao, trustee of Highgate Murugan Temple, London; Yogesh Patel of the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple, Neasden; Rajiv Malik, Hinduism Today correspondent, New Delhi; Professor M.G. Prasad.