The two-day conference was hosted at the premises of the Sri Venkateswara College in South Campus of Delhi University on 5th and 6th of November, 2011. The initiative for the conference was taken by the Institute for Science and Spirituality (ISS), the scientific study wing of ISKCON Delhi, which got full organizational and intellectual support of the Sri Venkateswara College administration. This was the third conference in the series of ongoing dialogues between Science and Spirituality spearheaded by ISS.
The conference was inaugurated with the recital of auspicious prayers from Sri Brahma-Samhita by school children, accompanying lamp-lighting by the eminent guests, Prof. R.R. Gaur, NRCVEE, IIT Delhi; Prof. Hemalatha P. Reddy, Principal, SVC; Prof. LaxmidharBehera, EED, IIT Kanpur and Prof. Rajender Kumar, Vice Principal, SVC. The Chief Guest for the conference, Prof. R.R. Gaur, in his inaugural address stressed on the need for incorporating values and ethical education in the higher scientific and technological institutions. Later in the day, he went on to describe in detail the principle, procedures and methodology for implementing ethics and human values in professional science and technology education, and also his vital experience in this regard at IIT Delhi, UPTU and Punjab Technical University.
The Guest of Honor, Prof. Behera, gave a highly appraised talk on “Cognitive AI – Naturalization of Intelligence”, wherein he very critically examined the role of human intelligence in designing “artificial” intelligence, and gave very wonderful insights on how the driving force behind all AI, human intelligence, must also have an intelligent designer, by the extension of the principles of AI.Prof. Reddy, in her Welcome Address, shared her heart felt conviction regarding the imminent need for infusing spirituality in the youth of the country. Prof. Rajender Kumar gave a hearty vote of thanks, while simultaneously appealing the organizers to add “Commerce” to the title of the conference. He went on to very emphatically describe the vicious effects of “bad-commerce”.
In all there were two sessions on the first day and three sessions on the second day. The theme for each session was unique and there were a total of twelve invited lectures by reputed academicians on diverse topics. Apart from this, there were two very special workshops on “Understanding your Personality”, and “Art of Meditation” by Prof. Laxmidhar Behera from IIT Kanpur and Mr. Rishi Kumara Das from ISKCON Delhi, respectively. Rishi Kumara Das, who is an MBA in Marketing and has over 13 years’ Corporate experience in Media, Human Resources and Training, is currently the Director English Media and Corporate Training for ISKCON at Delhi. He conducts Training programs for corporate sector on Stress Management, Mind Control and Assertiveness. The workshops proved to be a much sought-after faucet for the budding stream of spiritual-seeking hidden latent in the dignified academicians and the neophyte students alike. The participants were not only acquainted with the efficacy of Mantra Meditation, but were also introduced to its practical application. Everyone keenly absorbed the lessons on personality and meditation, with a view to imbibing and enriching their lives.
Dr. Puneeta Sharma from SVC gave a very eloquent and well charted speech in pristine Hindi on “Thinking” as the centre of the world as well as spirituality, on Day1 of the conference. Other major attractions of Day1 included a highly technical and impressive presentation from Dr. G.N. Jha from JNU on the latest developments in the field of reviving the Vedic S&T by researchers at JNU and their foreign collaborators.
The only presentation by a non-faculty on Day1 was by Mr. Rhythm Singh, a Doctoral fellow at IIT Delhi. Mr. Singh went on to describe in a very eloquent and statistically enriched presentation how Science and Spirituality need to imbibe each other’s best points and work in a cooperative way towards attaining world peace. He also suggested an Alternative Spiritual Worldview for filling-in the loopholes in the modern scientific paradigm, thus paving the way for a saner and more ethical approach to S&T.
Day2 began with a highly ambitious presentation from Prof. A.K. Mukhopadhyay from AIIMS, in which he very critically examined the possibilities for human future; and went on to conclude that the only viable future for Homo Sapiens, is to evolve into Homo Spiritualis.
There was a very conclusive, fact-enriched and critical study of Darwinism, presented by Mr. Parveen Kumar, an Assistant Manager at Honda Motors and the Overall Coordinator and one of the leading inspirations behind ISS. He very critically analyzed the shortcomings of Darwin’s Theory from the point of view of complex modern science and pure logic. Further he went on to very diligently show that how only by imbibing some essential truths from Vedic texts and by thoroughly understanding the concept of “Spiritual Evolution”, as given in the Vedas and the allied texts, can the loopholes of Darwinian model be plugged. Thus he presented a very vital Vedic Alternative to Darwinism.
Later in the day, Prof. PMV Subbaraofrom IIT Delhi gave a presentation, “Spiritual and Scientific Description of Holiness of Gomatha”, which was itself a masterpiece of the convergence of his spiritual and technical persona. Prof. Subbarao went on length to prove the point that actually the term “Convergence of Science and Spirituality” is a misnomer of the true fact; and that rather one should rightly say “Emergence of Science from Spirituality”. With inputs from his years of research in Energy Technologies and his spiritual background he proved the prime position of cow as the pivot of Vedic civilization – whose protection is the only viable way of human prosperity.
In the final session of the conference there were diverse inputs from Dr. C. UpenderRao from JNU, who very vividly described the intricate concept of mind, as given in the ancient Indian literature. Prof. Sunita Singh Sengupta from FMS, Delhi added yet another facet to this intellectually enriching meeting. From her years of experience and expertise in Management Studies, she described the “Neuropsychological Bases of Tri Gunas”. The last talk of the day was by Dr. Mukul Sharma from SVC, which was a heartfelt effusion on the essential and non-avoidable marriage of science and spirituality in order to have the progeny of lasting and durable peace for one and all. Finally the two day conference came to an end with a Vote of Thanks from Dr. Niyati Joshi, who is a Deputy Secretary in the Government of India and was invited as a Special Invitee for the conference.
The author is the spokesperson for the Institute for Science and Spirituality (ISS), the scientific preaching wing of ISKCON Delhi, and could be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
(From L to R:) Prof. Rajender Kumar, Prof. Hemlatha P. Reddy, Prof. R.R.Gaur, Prof. Laxmidhar Behera
Lighting of lamp by dignitaries