for ISKCON News on June 21, 2013
Hindu Vaishnava priest Juan Carlos Ramchandani (Krishna Kripa Dasa), of ISKCON Ceuta, participated in the first meeting of Hindus of Spain on June 8 and 9 in Madrid.
The meeting of the various schools of Hinduism took place in Jhulelal Temple, which selflessly lent its facilities for the two-day event.
A commemorative poster with text both in Spanish and Sanskrit was created for the event by the artist Hari Chaitanya.
The program began with a puja (ritual) to welcome the participants. Then Juan Carlos Ramchandani opened the meeting with a presentation on the state of Hinduism in Spain, and called on other groups to seek unity in diversity.
Among the speakers was writer and editor Alvaro Enterría, resident of Varanasi (India) for 30 years. The monk and scholar Swami Satyananda spoke about the challenges of presenting the Hindu tradition in a world that doesn't value spiritual life.
In his presentation, philosopher and yoga teacher Oscar Montero analyzed the problems of modern society from the point of view of Hinduism.
Swami Omkarananda, from the Sivananda Mandir Hindu Temple of Valencia, spoke about Yoga: Indian asceticism, stressing the need to recognize ourselves as spiritual beings and defending the true Yoga teaching against the unscrupulous marketing of this ancient Hindu practice.
The last presentation was given by the doctor of philosophy and writer Javier Ruiz Calderon, who spoke about times when Hinduism was at its peak, and emphasized the adaptability of the religion to modern times, without losing its vital essence.
The conference participants
A round table discussion was held after each presentation, which gave the opportunity to engage the audience of Hindu practitioners. Among many others the following topics were discussed: What is Hinduism?, Who is a Hindu?, Hinduism and the media, Hinduism and interreligious dialogue and Hinduism and academia.
There was also time for silent meditation, arati (worship ceremony) and kirtan (devotional music).
Attendance at this meeting was by invitation only, and was limited to a small group of those who are very committed to Hinduism in Spain. Plans are now being made for a Hindu congress which will be open to the general public the next year.
"It's been a challenge for many years to create a joint meeting with the participation of different Hindu traditions in Spain. It was a humble gathering, but with first class people. We seek official government recognition and aim to create a bridge between Asian Indian Hindus and Western Hindus "said Ramchandani.