The 109+ crore (1090+ million) Hindus of the world live in over 150 of the 196 countries. They form 1/6th of the 7 billion (700 crore) global population, i.e., every 6th person of the world is a Hindu. However, the ‘Omkar Parivar’ has an additional 193 crore population in the world and this Holistic (Saakalyavaadi; Poornataavaadi), Altruistic (Parahitavaadi, Paraarthavaadi; Paropakaarvaadi) and Syncretic (Samannwayvaadi) Holistic (Saakalyavaadi; Poornataavaadi), Altruistic (Parahitavaadi, Paraarthavaadi; Paropakaarvaadi) and Syncretic (Samannwayvaadi) ‘Cultural Commonwealth of the Himalayan Traditions’ adds up to 302 crore population and their togetherness in worldview and action would be a guarantee of Happiness, Health and Bliss for the world that is now under severe challenges from exclusivist forces. There are 53 officially declared Muslim countries and 20 officially declared and over 100 Christian-dominating countries in the world, whereas only three countries namely Bharat (pop. 123 crore/Hindus over 100 crore/81.3%), Nepal (pop. 299 Lakh/Hindus 235 Lakh/78.5%) and Mauritius (pop. 13 Lakh 50-thousand/Hindus 7 Lakh/51.8%) are Hindu-majority countries, but, unfortunately, they have no country to their name officially as Nepal is also no longer a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ officially as it has unduly been declared ‘secular’ even if it experienced no problem whatsoever in its history on grounds of religion. As the Hindus are responsible for safeguarding and upholding the Holistic Worldview and Paradigm for the welfare of the world, they, therefore, must unite and organize to protect, preserve and promote their Culture (Kulaachaar), people and surely their bedrock – their Divine Land between the Devataatmaa Himalayas and the Seas.
Vishva Hindu Parisad (meaning World Hindu Council) founded on August 29, 1964 (Sri Krishna Janmaashtami Day) in Mumbai by the Sant Shakti of Bharat is meant to be a platform of all Hindus of the world including all members of the ‘Omkar Parivar’ to come together, think together and work together to address various challenges being faced by them in Bharat and elsewhere in the world, i.e., to devise workable and tangible solutions that can be implemented, so that at the end of the day the Hindus and their Punya Bhumi can attain to the highest pinnacle of glory.
The birth of VHP was neither a reaction or response to a stimulus which would lose its vitality no sooner the stimulus is removed as it happens in many a case, nor was it a temporary outburst arising from any socio-political contingency, nor was it born out of a desire for self-aggrandizement! On the contrary it emerged out of a sense of history with Hindu unity & organization as its watchword for the progress and welfare of Bharat and by extension that of the world. VHP Karyakartas try to live the Chanakya quote: “Lead your life as if you are going to die tomorrow, but develop your society as if it’s never going to die”.
National Chapters of VHP exist in USA, U.K., Canada, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, &c., that are incorporated as per law in those countries as non-profit charities.
VHP has multi-dimensional activities. Here is a chronology of a few of its activities abroad and in Bharat:-
1966 – Bharat: First World Hindu Conference of VHP at Prayag Kumbh Mela – Delegates from South and East African countries, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji, U.K., USA, Thailand, Nepal, &c., participated.
1970 – USA: Vishva Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) established in New York
1972 – U.K.: VHP of U.K. started working. Has 14 provincial chapters and quite a number of Hindu institutions are affiliated to it.
1974 – USA: Children’s Book project started in New Hampshire
1974 – USA: VHPA incorporated in New York State. It has over 40 State Chapters. Every Chapter determines its own service projects and makes efforts to accomplish it. It has either family or institutional membership system. Organizational/Institutional affiliations with VHPA are encouraged. Youth programs receive special attention.
1974 – USA: VHPA offered the Bal Vihar program. It was a hit in Hindu circles. Other organizations took a leaf from the VHP book and started programmes to inculcate Hindu Sanskars in children. It is still one of the standard popular programs of VHPA.
1978 – USA: Seva projects started
1979 – Bharat: Second World Hindu Conference, Prayag, Bharat (After a gap of 13 years). Many delegates from abroad participated.
1979 – USA: First Hindu American Youth Conference and Camp in Rhode Island. It gave Hindu orientation to the youth and proved to be a great success. The VHPA and the Hindu community of USA got a sense of direction from it. The passouts from these camps are now in their prime and leading figures addressing the needs of the Hindu community. The Youth Camp was a big hit and a master strategy. Other organizations followed suit and adopted the idea and practice.
1982 – USA: Parishad Emporium established
1983 – USA: First Regional conference held in Florida
1983 – USA: Sanskar Bharti cultural services offered
1984 – Bharat: First Dharma Sansad (Parliament of Hindu Schools of Dharma; the cabinet being the Kendriya Margadarshak Mandal) held at New Delhi on April 7-8, 1984 with the participation of 558 Sant-Mahatmas and Dharmacharyas belonging to 76 Panths of Hindu Dharma. Its significant achievement was creation of public awareness about Sri Rama Janma Bhumi through the medium of Shriram-Janaki Rath Yatras. There are five main philosophical traditions in Hinduism: Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhwacharya, Nimbarkacharya and Vallabhacharya. All of them are to represent in future Dharma Sansads. Next in seniority are the Acharya Mahamandaleshwaras who head the nine Shaiva Akhadas (academies) and the Shrimahants who head the four Vaishnavite Akhadas. The Sansads would also comprise of leading lights of 1,100 sects. VHP Chapters abroad honoured the resolutions of the Dharma Sansad and accepted to do the needful.
1984 – Sri Lanka: World Hindu Conference
1984 – USA: Cultural Exhibition made available
1984 – USA: Second Youth conference in New York
1984 – USA: Tenth Hindu Conference, New York
1985 – Denmark: European Hindu Conference in Copenhagen
1985 – USA: Hindu University of America (HUA) project announced
1985 – USA: Support a Child Program started. VHPA started this program to extend financial support for the education of talented students from poor families in Bharat. Soon 700 students started getting this benefit. The scheme has since been in vogue. Over 800 children now benefit.
1987 – USA: Hindu Students Council (HSC) floated. About 100,000 students from Bharat go to America for studies. The HSC is one of the most successful programs of VHPA. Its network of chapters is now spread over 90 Universities of USA. It organised a big Dharma Conference in New Jersey in 2003 CE.
1987 – USA: USA Chapter of Sri Rama Janma Bhumi Mukti Andolan formed
1987 – VHP was invited to participate in the Second Interfaith Conference sponsored by the Council for the World’s Religions (CWR) held on August 20-24, 1987 at Vancouver, Canada. Vice-President of VHP Dr B. Rama Raju attended it.
1988 – Holland: Hindu Conference at The Hague (The Netherlands) in September
1988 – Kenya: Hindu Conference at Nairobi in January
1988 – Malaysia and Thailand: Hindu Conferences at Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok in April
1988 – Nepal: World Hindu Conference at Kathmandu in March
1988 – Seminar organized on 13th September in Delhi on “Danger to Religious Freedom in Fiji” presided over by Justice S.H. Seth and addressed by former GOI Foreign Secretary Sri A.P. Venkateswaran. (On other occasions protests were made to the Governments in Arab countries, Greece and Russia for discrimination against Hindus and ISKCON members.)
1988 – Singapore: Asia-Pacific Hindu Conference in April
1989 – U.K.: Virat Hindu Conference in August at Milton Keynes with the participation of 300 Hindu institutions and organizations of various profiles. 70,000 people participated.
1989 – USA: 10 Camps held with participation of 1,000 youth for leadership development.
1989 – USA: Hindu Unity Year Celebrations in 107 cities of the country
1989-90 – Ram Shilas (consecrated bricks made of ‘local earth/stones/metals’) were received from over 30 countries including Canada, USA, Suriname, UK, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Israel, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Nepal, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Sychelles, China, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Reunion, &c. for the construction of a magnificent temple dedicated to Sri Rama at His birthplace at Ayodhya. At that time in Bharat almost 300,000 of the 650,000 villages sent bricks, 300,000 pujas of the Ram Shilas were performed and altogether about 100 million people attended the various processions that carried the bricks to Ayodhya.
1990 – Protest demonstrations made before the US Embassy at New Delhi for the proposed actions by the US Government to take over and auction 5 Sri Krishna Temples in USA belonging to the ISKCON.
1992 – Canada: National Hindu Conference
1992 – Germany: Hindu Conference – Frankfurt
1993 – USA: Global Vision 2000 Conference, Washington, D.C. marked the 100th year of the famous speech of Swami Vivekananda delivered at the Parliament of Religions held at Chicago (1893).
1994 – Bharat: First Hindu-Buddhist Sammelan, Sarnath: With a view to establish World Peace, the First three-day International Sammelan was held under the auspices of World Buddhist Cultural Foundation (India) on 19-21 March 1994 at Sarnath near Varanasi, where Lord Buddha had delivered his first enlightening lecture over 2,500 years ago. Over 400 Dharmacharya delegates hailing from Bharat, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Tibet and Sri Lanka participated in the deliberations on the common elements in Hinduism and Buddhism. The important points of discussions were as follows: 01-Karma (action) and Punarjanma (rebirth), 02-Atma (soul) and Sadvivek (discrimination), 03-Moksha (liberation) and Nirvan (Salvation), 04-Brahma (totality) and Shoonya cypher), 05-Avatar (incarnation) and Lord Buddha. RSS Chief Ma. Shri K.S. Sudarshan, VHP Secretary General Dr. Pravinbhai Togadiya, HH Sadhvi Ritambhara Devi and several Sant-Mahatmas participated in the Sammelan.
1994: U.K.: 36,000 people including members of VHP of U.K. protested the government-sponsored closure of the ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple at Watford. The closure order was finally vacated and the temple allowed to run formally. A nearby road, which was earlier an unnamed track across a park, is now named Dharma Marg, which is Sanskrit for “the way of truth”. In 1972, the Beatles musician George Harrison had given the Manor as an offering of devotion to the founder of ISKCON, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
1995 – An updated book named ‘Focus Attention and Complete Truth’ (FACT) on Sri Rama Janma Bhumi was compiled and sent to Hindus abroad. VHP of America sent 30,000 signatures in support of the cause and the documents were submitted to the Dy. Prime Minister of Bharat.
1995 – Bharat: The first roundtable conference regarding Buddhism and Hinduism was organized by Vishva Bauddha Sanskriti Pratishthan at Scindia House, New Delhi on 30 March 1995.
1995 – South Africa held a world class conference in Durban and invited the World. 30,000 Hindus gathered for the World Hindu Conference to deliberate upon the theme “Hinduism Vision for the 21st Century” and affirm a place of pride in a post-apartheid society. His Excellency Dr. Nelson Mandela – the first black President of the Republic of South Africa also attended it. Addressing the Conference President Mandela said, “Our land is graced by temples and shrines built by indentured laborers who brought Hinduism to our shores some 135 years ago and sustained it under difficult circumstances.” He went on to credit our religion’s impact on the freedom movement. “Hinduism’s propagation of peace and tolerance had a profound influence on the liberation movement and my own thinking. The nurturing of Hinduism in South Africa has been woven into the struggle for freedom and justice. Our vision of a free and equal society is also to be found in the core values of Hinduism.” He concluded with a religious tolerance plea: “South Africa is a country of many religions. They should all be respected and play an equal part.” The Conference was a triumph for the South African Hindu community. It was arguably the largest single Hindu rally on the African continent, ever. Over forty independent organizations mobilized the money, manpower and mental force to pull off this massive international event which drew delegates from 20 countries. That collaboration alone was, organizers noted, epochal. Participants were beguiled. “It was equivalent to a journey to the transcendental realm,” exclaimed Ranjen Pillay, a university law student from Durban. The event was a political success too–accentuated by President Mandela’s address in which he acknowledged the contribution of Hindu thought to South Africa’s relatively peaceful transition from apartheid to equality.
1996 – Bharat: The second roundtable conference regarding Buddhism and Hinduism was held at India International Centre, New Delhi on 05th February, 1996. A delegation of 20 members from Japan under the leadership of Ven. Dr. D. S. Uchida participated in it. Thinkers, priests, saints, ideologues belonging to both Hinduism and Buddhism in large number pondered over the points of similarities in Buddhism and Hinduism.
1996 – Japan: Second Hindu-Buddhist Sammelan, Kyoto, Japan: The second 2-day Hindu-Buddhist International Sammelan was organised in the name of ‘Great Religions of Asia’ in Kyoto, Japan on 5-6 November 1996. Main theme of the Sammelan was a comparative study of ‘Ideology and Practice of Hindu-Buddhist and Shinto Religions’. More than 100 Saints, Intellectuals and Buddhist Dharmacharyas from all over the world took part in the Sammelan, apart from many thinkers and Dharmacharyas of Japan. The attending thinkers emphasised the need of Ahimsa (non-violence) for the world in today’s context.
1996 – USA: Hindu Heritage Center started
1997 – Bharat: Third Hindu-Buddhist Sammelan, Modipuram, U.P.: The third 2-day International Hindu-Buddhist Sammelan was held at Modipuram (Bharat) in the name of ‘The Great Religions of Asia’ on 21-22 November 1997. Discussions were held on ‘Truth — Principles and Practice’. More than 100 Saints and thinkers hailing from different countries of the world emphasised that Hinduism-Buddhism and other ancient religions should give greater stress on developing greater spirit of mutual goodwill amongst them. The speciality of this Sammelan was that it was attended and addressed by HH Jagadguru Sankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, HH Swami Divyanand Tirth of Bhanupura Shankaracharya Peeth, HH Swami Dayanand Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam – Coimbatore, and leading Sants from Haridwar and Mathura. Pujaniya Rajju Bhaiyya of the RSS, Shri Vishnu Hari Dalmiaji, VHP, Ma. Shri Ashok Singhalji, VHP, Ven. K G. Okamoto, Chief Priest of Gokoku-ji Temple, Secretary Taiko Kobayasi, Famous Buddhist Saint Johan Okayi of Sri Lanka, etc., also participated. Many representatives of the Shinto religion also attended the Sammelan.
1998 – Kenya: All Africa Hindu Conference – Nairobi
1998 – USA: Dharma Sansad in USA at Arsha Vidya Gurkulum (First Dharma Sansad in the Western Hemisphere)
1999 – Bharat: Trained Priests for Temples abroad: Hindus who have settled outside Bhaarat are acutely conscious of the growing need for properly trained priests who can perform poojaa [worship]. In Western countries, we need priests who are knowledgeable in spiritual as well as the practical aspects of Hindu dharma and who are able to speak in English. They need to be fluent in English so that they can communicate with Hindu children who have been brought up in the Western countries. In response to this demand, Hindu Heritage Pratishthan (Bharat) initiated the project of training Pujaris/Purohits [priests]. The candidates were required to be well-versed in Sanskrit and possesing a working knowledge of English. At Modipuram, U.P. they underwent a training programme for 9 months leading to a diploma. The training involved study of the scriptures, including the Vedas, the Upanishads, Bhagvad Gita and Ramayana. They were taught how to perform various rituals, and to correctly chant the shlokas – hymns and Mantras. The trainees were imparted a basic knowledge of other religions so that they could take part in debates with people of other faiths, to give a Hindu point of view on various issues and, if necessary, to speak in defence of Hinduism. It was expected that, particularly outside Bhaarat, such priests would contribute to correct understanding of Hindu Dharma. Thirty-three priests completed their training, and several of them got placements in USA, Singapore and Mauritius, U.K., etc.
1999 – Nepal: Fourth Hindu-Buddhist Sammelan, Lumbini: The 3-day Fourth Hindu-Buddhist International Sammelan in the name of ‘The Great Religions of Asia’ was held on 19-21 November 1999 at Lumbini – the birthplace of Bhagawan Buddha. The delegates of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism sat under one roof and discussed the issues with an open heart. 110 delegates from 20 countries of the world participated in the Sammelan.
1999 – The Pope John Paul II while visiting Delhi from Vatican declared on Bharatiya soil on Diwali Day (Sunday, November 7, 1999) that the “third millennium will witness a great harvest of faith” in Asia. He said: “Just as the first millennium saw the cross firmly planted in the soil of Europe, and the second in that of America and Africa, so may the third Christian millennium witness a great harvest of faith on this vast and vital continent.” VHP protested this direct affront for religious conversion of Hindus. There is a general impression that people change their religion because of poverty and enticement given by churches. But it is a fact that in spite of being much poorer than Hindus the Islamic people do not opt for Christianity. The only explanation could be the religious awareness constantly created, the close contact and continuous person to person dialogues are the only reason for a Muslim not becoming a Christian. The X’ian evangelization machinery worldwide has a strength of 410,000 wholetime preachers, 262,300 missionaries, 13,000 libraries, 22,000 magazines in different languages, 1,800 private TV and Radio Stations, 788 blueprints for global evangelisation and the Budget is Rs. 180,000,000,000. We Hindus have to make introspection in this regard. Prominent citizens also opposed the Papal visit. They met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and expressed concern over Pope John Paul II’s visit to Bharat, saying it was aimed at promoting conversions in the country. The delegation of citizens included noted artistes, writers, academicians, medical practitioners, jurists, religious scholars and social workers. Dr Vidya Niwas Mishra, former editor of the Hindi daily, Navbharat Times, and former vice-chancellor of Kashi Vidyapeeth, danseuse Sonal Mansingh, chairperson of Dharma Rakshana Sammelan Padma Subrahmanyam, former central minister Hari Kishore Singh and eminent ophthalmologist Dr S S Badrinath were some of the members of the delegation. During their half-hour meeting with the prime minister, the delegation stressed that “the government should deliberate upon the implications of the openly stated intention of the Vatican to undertake intensive and organised religious conversions in India.” The delegation impressed upon the prime minister “to look into the socio-political, cultural and demographic consequences of such organised conversions and the grave threat this poses to harmonious living, national character and the integrity and security of the nation, particularly in the wake of what happened in East Timor”. The team also submitted a memorandum signed by more than 100 prominent citizens, including former Madras high court judge N Krishnaswamy Reddiar, former Central Bureau of Investigation director C V Narasimhan, former Tamil Nadu director general of police K Ravindran, and writer Sultan Shaheen.
1999 – USA: Vishva Dharma Prasaar Yaatra, USA Leg
2000 – Bharat: International Conference of Roma Gypsies – the forgotten children of Maa Bhaarati: The Roma Research Foundation and Hindu Heritage Pratishthan organized it at New Delhi in November. The theme was: “Roma from Europe and their cultural ties with India”. The world knows, the Gypsies had left Bharat about a thousand years ago and continued their westward journey via Iran and Iraq. Most of them are now settled in Europe and America and many other countries, but a sizable number of them are still leading a nomadic life. Even today, while unhesitatingly trying to establish their linkage with Bharat, the Gypsies feel proud to call themselves as Sintis (Sindhis), Jotta (Jat), Badgoojar, Rajputs or Banjaras. Historical evidences testify that all the Romas were once Jindu (Hindu). Many of them have become Mohammedans and Christians, but conversion has not changed their outlook and even today they have not relinquished worshipping their Goddess Sattsaaraa (a form of Goddess Durga). The Romas have great love for Bharat, their Romany language is laced with a good number of Hindi-Punjabi words.
2000 – Trinidad & Tobago: World Hindu Conference
2000 – USA: Dharma Ganga held at the United Nations Plaza, New York
2000 – USA: Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the UNO, NY in August-2000 where Hindu Sants and Dharmacharyas also participated.
2001 – Bharat: A Hindu-Buddhist Meeting of Minds and Hearts was held on January 25, 2001 at the Camp of the World Buddhist Cultural Foundation at Purna Kumbh Mela, Prayagraj (Allahabad) with the august participation of Param Poojya Jagadguru Sankaracharya Kanchi Kamakoti Peethadhishwar Sri Jayendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, H.H. Jagadguru Sankaracharya Jyotishpeethadhiswar Swami Vasudevanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Badrinath), H.H. Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Ramabhadracharya Ji Maharaj (Chitrakoot), H.H. Mahamandaleshwar Swami Satyamitranand Giri Ji Maharaj (Haridwar), Ven. Siri Sumedha Thero Maharaj, Mahabodhi Society of India (Kolkata/Sarnath), H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Muniji, Rishikesh), Ven. Tsona Rinpoche Maharaj, Arunachal Pradesh, Ma. Shri Ashokji Singhal, Vishva Hindu Parishad, New Delhi, Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Modi, World Buddhist Cultural Foundation, New Delhi. The JOINT DECLARATION that emerged from this get-together is historic. It reads: “The age-old Vedic and Shraman traditions originated and flourished in Bharat are widely practised. Both these faiths preach, propagate and follow the principles of Tolerance, Pluralism, Compassion, Non-violence and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ -Universal Brotherhood. /Maryada Purushottam Bhagwan Sri Rama, Karunavatar Tathagat Lord Buddha and Ahimsa Avatar Bhagwan Rishabhdev share the distinguished lineage of Ikshvaku-kul and are thus closely related Brothers in Dharma. /We firmly reiterate that the acts of charity and help to the needy are basic values of both these traditions. /We oppose conversion by any religious tradition using various methods of enticement. /On the historic occasion of the Prayag Raj Maha Kumbha Mela 2001, we jointly reaffirm our faith in the noble path of Peace and Non-violence, and pledge to act together in maintaining World Peace and face the challenges of this millennium.”
2001 – Big delegation of Hindus from Indonesia visited the Kumbha Mela. They stayed at the Camp of World Buddhist Cultural Foundation.
2001 – USA: Ekal Foundation floated: The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation is a tax exempt, registered non-profit service organization dedicated to education and village development in rural Bharat. Ekal’s philosophy is to take a holistic approach to social and economic development. The Ekal movement is the largest, grassroots, non-government education movement in Bharat, operating in over 40,428 villages and educating over 11,28,255 children in rural Bharat.
2001 – Vishva Dharma Prasaar Yaatra (Aug-Sept, T&T, USA, Europe)
2002 – A history book titled “Glimpses of Bharatiya History” by Dr Kushwaha was well received by Hindus abroad.
2002 – An experienced Karyakarta toured Bangladesh and gave his report.
2002 – During Pravasi Bharatiya Divas programames were arranged to meet invited PIO and NRI Hindus.
2002 – During the visit of His Majesty the King of Nepal Sri 5 Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev for the Paad Puja of Kanchi Acharya, Ma. VH Dalmiyaji and Ma. Ashokji Singhal met the King and discussed matters of mutual interests.
2002 – In Ayodhya in May, 415 teachers of Ekal Vidyalaya of Nepal got their refresher course.
2002 – In South Africa programmes were arranged in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. During discussions with the office bearers of VHP South Africa it emerged that a wholetimer might be posted. Accordingly Shri Rohit Darji was nominated and posted there for sometime.
2002 – In Sri Lanka 3 youth camps were organised in which 400 youths took part.
2002 – In USA, Government appointed a Commission to inquire into the issue of religious Minorities in Bharat. VHP America was assisted with facts and figures for putting up the case of Hindus.
2002 – Ma. Acharya Giriraj Kishore toured some European countries, viz., France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia and U.K. in September 2002.
2002 – Ma. Acharya Giriraj Kishoreji visited France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia and UK in Sept. 2002 with the agenda to mobilize Karyakartas, propagate the Ekal cause, interface with leaders of society, etc.
2002 – Ma. Ashokji Singhal, Working President of VHP toured USA, Trinidad & Tobago and UK in November
2002 – Samannvay Manch: Under the auspicious of newly created Samannvay Manch, Seminars were held in Universities in Delhi, Patna, Pune, Nagpur and at Sambhaji Nagar (Aurangabad). The subject was “Bharatiya culture, challenges and possibilities”. Meetings with Chiefs of different social organizations were initiated in some provinces.
2002 – Shilanyas ceremony at the Bradford temple in which Swami Chinmayanandji, M.P. from Bharat addressed a gathering of 40 Hindu Organizations. Dr B. K. Modi participated in the Buddha Poornima function. A Pujari from Bharat was sent for the Durga Mandir in West Midlands.
2002 – Sri Shreegopal Vyas, Jt. Gen. Secy. (Int’L Coordination) toured Kenya and South Africa in September/October with Dr Yashwant Pathak of HSS. The work of Hindu Council of Kenya appeared to be well established. Combined tours of office bearers of HSS, H.C and VHP were undertaken and several meetings were addressed.
2002 – Sri Vyasji visits Trinidad and met office bearers of Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha. They sought help to fill the vacancy for Trinidad University’s Hindu Study Chair. English discourse on Ramayana, holy dip in Ganga Dhaaraa and visit to Sadhu Shivadas’ temple in the sea were the special experiences of Trinidad visit. Visited Divine Life Society and met HSS workers.
2002 – Swami Vigyananandji undertook organizational tours to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. In Malaysia he attended the Hindu Renaissance Rally organised by Malaysia Hindu Sangam and in Colombo he helped in the proposal of World Hindu Conference planned for May 2003.
2002 – The Mangolian Ambassador was honoured in a programme.
2002 – The Raj Guru of Thailand was honoured.
2002 – UK: COHO (Conference of Hindu Organisations): 78 delegates from various Hindu organisations from all over the UK attended a one day conference held on 22 September at Arya Samaj Vedic Mission, Birmingham. The delegates were office bearers and held position of responsibility in their respective organisations. VHP-UK President Dr Girdhari Lal Bhan welcomed the delegates and said that “following the success of the first Dharma Sansad held in August 2001 at Leicester, it had been agreed that Hindu organisations should meet again, to discuss the issues that are important to Hindus and seek their resolution. Since then, it has been decided to name the Dharma Sansad as the Conference of Hindu Organisations (COHO).” In reference to the term Hindu, he reminded the delegates of the landmark judgement of the Supreme Court of India, which clarified the terms Hindu and Hindutva. In that spirit, the COHO welcomed all Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist organisations.
2002 – VHP in UK was engaged in debating the conversion-related issues with the Christian Missionaries and in the later half after Godhra and subsequent events in Gujarat, they had to face outbursts of Muslim organizations.
2002 – VHP representatives participated in the 15th Executive Committee meeting of World Hindu Federation in Kathmandu on 9-11 September. The meeting was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of Nepal. A piece of land was obtained in Kathmandu for creation of Vishva Hindu Gram.
2002 – VHPO: In the coordination meeting held in 2001 the VHP-ICC (International Coordination Committee) was directed to work out details of a organization to deal with Overseas Hindus. Accordingly the VHP Overseas was formulated in July 2002 after considering various suggestions obtained. The first meeting of VHPO took place in Atlanta, USA on 8-10 November 2002 under the Presidentship of Dr B K Modi (Chairman) and was conducted by Dr Mahesh Mehta the Vice-Chairman.
2002 – World Buddhist Cultural Foundation: Bhante Gyan Jagatji Mahasthavir and Shri Balkrishna U. Naik visited Sikkim, Guwahati, Bomdilla and Tawang Monastery (Arunachal Pradesh). In Tawang there were 15,000 people in the Bouddh Mahotsav organised by the Ministry of Culture at our initiative. This included 700 Lamas and Bhikkhunees. Mahamahim President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam talked with Sr Lamas. At Lahoul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, Rev. Lochan Rinpoche organised a seminar in which WBCF participated. WBCF and HHP delegates visited the Central Insitute of Higher Tibetan Studies at Sarnath. Meetings were held with Boudh Saints at Shera Balig and Nungaon of HP.
2003 – Hindus from abroad attended the Dharma Sansad at New Delhi on 22-24 February and also the World Hindu Federation meet at Gorakhpur on 13-15 February.
2003 – Ma. Ashokji Singhal visited Singapore, Japan, USA and U.K. from January 02, 2003 to January 13-14, 2003 to boost organizational activities.
2003 – Sri Lanka: World Hindu Conference
2003 – USA: Dharma Conference organized by Hindu Students Council (HSC) at New Jersey
2003 – Ven. Bhante Gyan Jagatji Mahasthvir, Ven. Swami Vigyananandji, Dr B K Modi and Shri Balkrishna U Naik Ji attended the World Council of Elders of the Ancient Traditions and Cultures held in Bombay on 4-9 February 2003.
2003 – VHP Adhikaries and Karyakarts undertook tours covering all the 5 Int’L Zones. Ma. Ashokji toured Singapore, Japan, USA and England in January 2003.
2004 – Indonesia: VHP organised an International Hindu Youth Conference in Bali.
2004 – Ma. Acharya Giriraj Kishoreji, Senior Vice-President, VHP visited Copenhagen (Denmark) and London (UK) between 02nd and 09th September, 2004.
2004 – Ma. Ashokji visited UK in Sept. 2004 with the agenda to propagate the cause of Ekal Vidyalaya and mobilize Vanaprasthis to join VHP activities. At Hindu Council Brent in Wembley he addressed 50 Vanaprasthis from London area very appealingly on the necessity of devoting their valuable time of retired life to the sewa projects of VHP. The audience gave a spellbound attention to the address, which also covered the EV projects in Bharat and Nepal. Shri Nath Puriji, the head of Three Rs Foundation and Shri Guptaji, a Trustee of the same, specially came to meet Ma. Ashokji. A good meeting, lasting about one hour, gave Ma. Ashokji a great confidence in the UK yojana of which Shri Hasmukhji Shah was the convenor.
2004 – USA: Ma. Sri Ashokji visited Boston, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; Morristown, Edison, Watchung, New Jersey; Staten Island, Jamaica, New York; Honesdale, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles, Cerritos, San Jose, California; and Toronto, Canada during the months of September 15th to October 9th 2004. During his visit, he visited temples and discussed the importance of the temples and role of the Board of directors of the temples for our society. Temple has to be the center for all the activities for the Hindus. Another subject was the role of Vanprasthy. Today, in America, within coming five years there will be more than 200,000 Indian populations will become retired from their job. How can we utilize their talent, time and ability for the work of Hindus around the world? And, of course the third subject was meeting with VHP Karyakartas. He took the meeting with Karyakartas and talked in details about Temple organizations, which is need of the hour and discussed how to deal with temple and other organizations and work together for the Hindu Society.
2005 – Ma. Sri Ashokji Singhal, President, VHP visited UK from October 29, 2005 to November 07, 2005 to boost organizational activities.
2005 – VHP International Coordination Meet was held in December at Vadodara (Gujarat) with the participation of 68 delegates from 16 countries, viz., Australia, Canada, Kenya, USA, Norway, Holland, Nepal, Bangladesh, UK, Germany, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago. Most of them also joined the Fourth Vishva Sangh Shibir (held every 5 years) held at Prekshadham in Ahmedabad from Dec. 26, 2005 afternoon to Jan. 01, 2006 in which 510 Shibirarthis from 31 countries participated. The theme of the Shibir was “Vishva Dharma Prakashena, Vishva Shanti Pravartake” (World Peace through Universal Values of Hinduism).
2005 – Yatra of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal: The first leg of the Pilgrimage For Coordination Amongst Dhamma-Based Cultures covered Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal between May 07 and June 09, 2005. The four-member Hindu-Buddhist Joint Delegation was led by Ven. Bhadant Gyana Jagat Mahathero, President, World Buddhist Cultural Foundation. Other members of the delegation were Ven. Swami Vigyananand and Shri Balkrishna U. Naik of Vishva Hindu Parishad and Dr. Sandeepraj Mahind of Jnana Prabodhini.
2006 – A meeting of over 30 key Adhikaris representing VHP-Bharat, VHP-America, VHP-UK and RSS was held at New Delhi on September 28-29, 2006 to discuss the VHP and Sangh working relationship and roles in Bharat and abroad; review the plan and the status of preparations for the upcoming World Hindu Conference III at Prayag in February 2007, and to identify gaps in the plan and actions to fill these gaps; review the status of other important VHP programs such as Ekal Vidyaalaya movement.
2006 – Bharat: Dharma Saskriti Sangam – The Fifth Hindu-Buddhist Sammelan, Kashi (Nov.)
2006 – Ma. Ashokji visited USA (May 2006) with the agenda to mobilize Vaanaprasthi (retiree) Karyakartas and promote the OTS Cause (One-Teacher Schools/Ekal Vidyalayas). In New Jersey he addressed a meeting of Trustees of various Temples of NJ area. About 200 achiever Hindus from and around NJ got together at an NJ Hotel to have an interface with Ma. Ashokji and decided to spread the message of VHP and promote its cause. A meeting of important Trustees of the Ekal Vidyalay Foundation of America (OTSF) was held on May 28 at Ocean City. Some confusion was doing the rounds resulting in a few members opining to separate the OTS movement from VHP. Ma. Ashokji asserted that the OTS Brahmaashtra was one of the 34 Ayaams (Themes/Wings/Dimensions) of VHP movement. OTS promotes the cause of ‘3Rs’ that is essential for the protection, preservation, promotion and consolidation of the Hindu cause. With other strong realistic arguments he convinced the Karyakartas against all groundless objections.
2006 – UK: Ma. Ashokji reached UK from Boston on June 07. Met over sixty persons in the evening regarding the OTS movement. He was happy abount the accomplishments of the organization “3Rs” by name for the OTS literacy programme and the project “Saraswati Vidyalay”. Met about 80 people at Leicester and Birmingham on OTS. Wherever Ma. Ashokji went in the UK, people talked of adopting OTS Units. During his brief sojourn there, the hearty UK Hindus adopted 900 OTS Units. There were promises of adopting 3,000 OTS Units for the time being, though their target was 10,000. Among others who met him were Shri Neel Hari Ghimire – a Nepalese Swayamsevak and office-bearer of South-East Hindu Association, Shri Manoj Motwani, Karyavah of HSS-Hong Kong, Shri Shanti Lal P. Shah, Nairobi Nagar Karyavah, and Shri Ramen Bando, writer and member of the Campaign Against Atrocities on Minorities in Bangladesh (CAAMB), who presented copies of his books titled “Ethnic Cleansing in Bangladesh” and “Secularism Extraordinary” to the visiting President of VHP Int’L to draw his further attention to the plight of Bangladesh Hindus.
2006 – USA: First Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference (HMEC-I), Atlanta. There are about 1,600 Hindu temples of various profiles in USA to fill the spiritual void which will enable the 2.4 million Hindus of USA to sustain, promote and practice Hindu Dharma and Culture. An effort was made to mobilise their united strength through annual get-togethers and other programmes to further enhance this Hindu cause. The year 2006 saw the first conference of the Hindu Mandir Executives from across the USA in Atlanta. Executives from 56 temples put their heads, hearts and hands together and resolved to further promote the Hindu cause. This annual meet has ever since become a resounding success and its strength and scope are now growing every year.
2006 – Yatra of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka: The second leg of the Pilgrimage For Coordination Amongst Dhamma-Based Cultures covered Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka between March 07 and June 09, 2006. The delegation interfaced with quite a few venerable monks and respected scholars of Buddhist, Tao, Confucius and Hindu traditions. The exchange of views, inputs and notes in the context of various challenges being faced were quite positive.
2006 – The 2nd World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions & Cultures (“Sanskriti Sangam-II”) was held at Jaipur from 5-10th February, 2006 which attracted Elders from more than 40 countries covering all the continents. This was the first joint Conference held together with World Congress of Ethnic Religions – the European organization of Pagans, which held its 9th Conference – the first outside Europe. The theme of the Conference was “Spirituality Beyond Religion”. The conference was inaugurated by hoisting the flag of the Traditions by the Mayan Elder Cerrilo Perez and Swami Maheshwarananda Puri – a well-known saint from Rajasthan, now headquartered in Austria, Europe. 30 Elders representing the ancient Maya and Inca cultures of the Americas, the Pagans of Europe and those of the African traditions rendered their traditional prayers during the ceremonies. All the delegates enthusiastically participated in the programs and resolved in favour of togetherness and promotion of solidarity amongst these nature & life friendly traditions and cultures. Ven. Bhadant Gnan Jagat Mahathero, President of World Buddhist Cultural Foundation, and Ma. Ashokji Singhal, Shri Balkrishna U. Naik, Swami Vigyananand and Shreegopal Vyas from VHP joined the conference. Shri Balkrishnaji Naik requested all the elders at the conference for their eminent presence and active participation in the 3-day global program for the promotion of solidarity amongst ancient traditions and cultures to be organized preceding the Third World Hindu Conference (Feb. 11-13, 2007) at Prayagraj. He further requested them for their distinguished presence as honored guests in the 100,000 strong World Hindu Conference-III during February 11-13, 2007, where they would be requested to give their thoughtful views and blessings in the sessions discussing on ancient traditions around the world.
2007 – Bharat: World Hindu Conference-III, Prayag Ardh Kumbh (After a gap of 28 years). Delegates from Canada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guyana, USA, UK, Nepal, Suriname, Hong Kong, Holland, Grenada, South Africa, Malaysia, Guadeloupe, St. Vincent, St.Kitts, Martinique, Barbados, Japan, etc., participated. This Conference, inter-alia passed a resolution on the need for a Hindu Vote Bank for Bharat saying: “…Since times immemorial, Bharat has been a Hindu Rashtra on the bedrock of Hindu culture and eternal Hindu values. Bharat that is Hindusthan is the country of Hindus. Hindu society is past, present and also the future of Bharat. To create an Akhand (united) Bharat and for the total protection, preservation and promotion of Bharat and to bring the pinnacle of golden glory to Bharat, it is necessary to develop a powerful Hindu Vote Bank…”
2007 – Malaysia: Dharma Youth Conference was organized with the participation of followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sintoism, Taoism and Confucianism.
2007 – Malaysia: Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) organised a big demonstration of 20-thousand Hindus on 25th November, 2007 to protest discrimination against Hindus and their human rights violations by the Muslim majority. The Malaysian Government put it down in a barbaric manner and the government action attracted worldwide condemnation.
2007 – New Zealand: The 1st New Zealand Hindu Conference, May 12-13, 2007 in Auckland; Inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of New Zealand Ms. Helen Clarke. The Conference was a grand success. It was followed by several significant seminars.
2007 – New Zealand: VHP established Hindu Social Service Foundation, Hindu Youth Foundation, Hindu Elders Foundation.
2007 – USA: The Second Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference was held in New Jersey with the participation of executives from 99 Hindu temples.
2008 – Australia: VHP-Australia organized 1st Australian Hindu Youth Conference – HINDU YOUTH AUSTRALIA on April 19-20, 2008 on the theme “Contribution of Hindu community in Australia”.
2008 – Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony held Hindu-Jewish Meet and its first significant milestone in the achievments was the Jerusalem Declaration with the participation of HH Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji Maharaj, Chairman, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha. It read interalia: “It is recognised that One Supreme Being in its formless and manifest aspects has been worshipped by Hindus over the millennia. The Hindu relates to only the One Supreme Being when he/she prays to a particular manifestation. This does not mean that Hindus worship ‘gods’ and ‘idols’.” The Jewish leaders, in so many words, owned their perception of the Hindu tradition as erroneous and came up with the declaration which the Hindu delegation could happily accept. This establishes that honest and bold dialogue can completely reverse wrong views and erroneous perceptions held over millennia. It emphasises that leaders of every religion need to be informed about the basics, vision and beliefs of other religious traditions. Several other points were also discussed. Once the fundamental misconception was removed, the Rabbinate, not surprisingly, also affirmed the following declaration on the sensitive issue of the svastika, the sacred symbol for the Hindus: ‘The svastika is an ancient and auspicious symbol of the Hindu tradition. It is inscribed on Hindu temples, ritual altars, entrances and even account books. A distorted version of this sacred symbol was misappropriated by the Third Reich in Germany and abused as an emblem under which heinous crimes were perpetrated against humanity, particularly the Jewish people. The participants recognise that this symbol is, and has been for millennia, sacred to Hindus, long before its misappropriation.” The importance of this affirmation may be understood from the fact that a Hindu temple in Detroit was vandalised a few years ago by the Jewish community offended by a huge svastika rangoli at the entrance of the temple. Another critical element in the declaration is the acceptance that all faiths are sacred and inviolable and that religious conversion is in itself violence. If all faiths, particularly the Abrahamic family of faiths, accept this declaration the fundamental cause of religious disharmony will be gone for good. Several other and significant issues were discussed at the summit, leading to mutual understanding. Leaders of both religions came out of the mutually enriching meeting, wiser.
2008 – New Zealand: The 2nd New Zealand Hindu Conference, May 16-18, 2008 at Auckland Hindu Heritage Centre. It was inaugurated by the Maori King of New Zealand.
2008 – USA: Third Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, Romulus, MI, USA
2009 – Decision at the Interfaith Dialogue: HH Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal and the Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias addressed a Joint Press Conference in Mumbai on 12th June 2009 subsequent to a closed-door Interfaith Dialogue. They both spelt out the following decision taken at the Meeting: 1. That India should be declared a Spiritual Country, instead of a ‘secular’ country, 2. All the school text books should carry moral stories from all religious books and scriptures, 3. The Catholic Church is against forced conversion, and they will not support any forced conversion, 4. Moneys received from foreign countries for the purpose of serving the poor should be used only for that purpose (as seva is a religious duty), and not for converting the poor, 5. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) should not be allowed to visit our country. Both Hindus and Christians consider it as interfering in the internal affairs of our country, 6. Since, the Catholics say that conversion is done only by Protestants, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc., a comprehensive meeting comprising all denominations of Christians should be held in December 2009. While briefing about these decisions, they both also explained the rationale behind taking such decisions.
2009 – USA: Fourth Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, Linthicum, MD (USA)
2010 – Indonesia: A delegation of officials from Presidential Advisory Council on Religious Affairs, Republic of Indonesia visited VHP office at RKP, New Delhi on Nov. 09, 2010 to have a meeting with VHP officials to “study the dynamics of the interfaith and minority groups relations in India”. The seven-member Indonesian delegation was headed by Sri K.H. Ma’ruf Amin (Member of Presidential Advisory Council on Religious Affairs). The other members were Hj. Siti Hurriyah (spouse of K.H. Ma’ruf Amin), Prof. Dr. Masykuri Abdillah (Secretary to the Member of PACRA), Hasim Nasution, S.E. (Aide to the Member of PACRA), Hj. Haniatun Nisa (Private Secretary to the Member of PACRA), Ms Hendra Henny Andries (Minister Counsellor, Indonesian Embassy, New Delhi) and Safrigita Novianto (Third Secretary, Indonesian Embassy, New Delhi). Ma. Ashokji Singhal dilated upon the points raised by the delegates regarding majority – minority equation in India and VHP’s approach to conflict management between them. Ma. Ashokji informed that in Bharat and many other parts of the world when a person changes his/her way of worship and adopts the Islamic or the Christian worldview, he/she immediately disowns also his/her forefathers and refuses to identify with and aggressively undermines any sense of belonging to his/her roots, indigenous culture, civilization, religion, literature, history, national icons, personages, sites of pilgrimage and cultural and historical importance, etc., and asked from the delegates as to if it is the case in Indonesia also? The delegates replied it was not so in Indonesia. They also informed that out of the 237 million population of Indonesia, over 80% people follow the Islamic way of worship, 3% are Hindus (mostly concentrated in Bali), 1% is Buddhist and Christians are also in minority. Every city and town in the country has some Hindu place of worship and also episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are staged in educational institutions and socio-cultural events. Religious conversion is not effected through force, fraud or allurement. Ma. Shreegopalji Vyas wanted to take leave to attend his Parliament session. The delegates requested him to brief them about the approach of Indian Parliament on the interfaith dynamics and religious conflict resolution before leaving. He replied that constitutional framework with national interest at its core was the measuring rod and any extra-territorial or national loyalty and other similar propensities eventually fell into place and got addressed with it. Ma. Ashokji underlined that organized conversion was a crime and violence against humanity. He highlighted that the very concept of ‘minority’ will be meaningless when all respect one another and where there is no room for organized religious conversions. Ma. Ashokji Singhal and other office-bearers of VHP thanked the delegates for their visit and honoured them with garlands and Prasadi Chadar.
2010 – USA: Fifth Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, Houston, USA
2010 – VHP Int’L Coordination Meet was held on 26-28 December, 2010 in Mumbai with the participation of delegates from New Zealand, Australia, U.K., The Netherlands – GHRD, USA, Suriname, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Mauritius and some other countries. The ICM was inaugurated by P.P Sarsanghchalak Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Dr. Mohanrao Bhagwatji and Ma. Sri Ashokji Singhal, President, Vishva Hindu Parishad. Highlights from different countries were also conveyed via PowerPoint and multimedia presentations. The Youth Session discussed various challenges and opportunities for the Hindu youth and students in different countries and continents. A Sri Lankan delegate described the challenges faced by Hindu communities of Sri Lanka. Among other points he pointed out the lack of political support from government and Hindu political leaders as well. Text books and courses don’t include Hindu religion as a subject while texts from other religions are being taught. Hindu organizations and youth movements are seen with suspicion from the government. Another session discussed Hindu human rights violations in some countries and challenges before Hindu society. A global Hindu newsletter was also proposed during this session. The delegates also agreed that the Hindu festivals could facilitate the engagement point of local Hindu communities across the world. Individual projects based on these festivals can unite the local Hindu community across the globe. Such projects should be replicated across the globe. An introduction was given about ‘Hindu Emergency Aid and Relief Team’ (HEART), a Hindu volunteer organization dedicated to help the victims of disaster, natural calamity, etc. HEART undertook commendable relief & rehabilitation activities post Leh (Ladakh, Bharat) disaster and also in Fiji to give succour to the cyclone-hit people. Ma. Ashokji Singhal said that the plight of Hindus is pitiable in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and that the Hindu organizations have to address the needs of Hindu society in those countries. He appealed for more volunteers to come forward to serve Hindu Dharma. Sri Ashok Rao Chowgule, Central Vice-President VHP in his speech emphasised the need of promoting Hindu community as model immigrant community in the Western world. There was an introductory session about the 1st World Hindu Congress to be held at New Delhi during the year 2014. Swami Vigayananad and Dr. Manoj Motwani presented the idea of the congress, which was followed by the multimedia movie on the overview of WHC 2014. Idea about many Conferences such as Hindu Youth Conference, Hindu Economic Conference, Hindu Political Conference, Hindu Organizational Conference, Hindu Women Conference, Hindu Media Conference and Hindu Educational Conference was presented and accepted by all. A team for every conference was selected from amongst the members present and it was also decided that each individual Conference will have to be organised as a pre-congress meet before the WHC 2014 in different parts of the world. The proposed members from each forum came forward with a vision statement for their respective conferences at World Hindu Congress 2014.
2011 – Australia: 2nd National Hindu Youth Conference – Australia was organized by Hindu Youth Australia on 19th & 20th August 2011. 250 youth delegates attended the conference. ‘Hindu Students Australia’ launched during the conference.
2011 – Germany: Big Deepawali Festival, Frankfurt
2011 – New Zealand: 2nd National Hindu Youth Conference
2011 – New Zealand: Deepawali at Rotorua. 3000 people participated (Festival free from meat, alcohol, smoking, Bollywood)
2011 – New Zealand: Holi celebrated as a Youth Festival (Festival free from meat, alcohol, smoking, Bollywood)
2011 – New Zealand: Raksha Bandhan, Auckland. 800 people participated (Festival free from meat, alcohol, smoking, Bollywood)
2011 – New Zealand: Regional Hindu Conference, Wellington
2011 – Sri Lanka: Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav organized at many places in a big way with participation by thousands of devotees.
2011 – Suriname: Deepavali celebrated as a National Festival in Suriname, South America
2011 – Thailand: VHP-Thailand organized Saarvajanik Grand Ganesh Utsav at Ramindra, Bangkok and at Nakhon Nayak. Thousands of people participated in the procession
2011 – UK: National Hindu Students Forum organized its 20th Anniversary Conference – ‘Arise Arjuna’ on 19th & 20th November in London. 600 Youths participated.
2011 – USA: Conference of Coalition of Hindu Youth Network (August)
2011 – USA: Hindu American Vaanprasthi Network Conference (October)
2011 – USA: Hindu American Vanprasthi Network was launched in July and the conference took place in October.
2011 – USA: Sixth Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, Columbus, Ohio, USA. 110 Hindu Mandirs and Organizations participated in this conference organized by VHPA. Ma. Ashokji Singhal attended it.
2012 – Bharat: VHP demands immediate deportation of Rohingya Muslims: VHP Working President, Dr. Pravinbhai Togadiya wrote (May 14) to the Hon. Prime Minister of Bharat with copies to the UNO Secretary General, New York, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, New York, the UN HC for Refugees, New Delhi, Mahamahim President of Bharat, Hon. GOI Home Minister, Hon. GOI External Affairs Minister, HE President of Russia Russia, HE President of USA, Hon. Chief Justice of India with supporting papers, e.g., (1) Bin Laden & Rohingya Muslims – Weekly Blitz; (2) Paper – Suicide Jihadi Terrorism in Bangla Desh- by Shri B. Raman, Additional Secretary (Retd.),Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India & Director, Institute for Tropical Studies, Chennai; (3) Bangla Desh- Breeding Ground for Terror – Asia Times printed interview of American Govt & Military officials – CNN; (4) Rohingya Terrorism: Terrorism Monitor – Volume 6, Issue 10. VHP’s Urgent Demands were: “(1) Rohingya Muslims are known & proven Jehadi Terrorists condemned by & currently alerted about by the American & European Govts, Russian Govt & by the international terrorism research groups & institutions. Sheltering them in India means sheltering Jehadi Terror! We demand that the Govt of India immediately deport them from where they came without any further delay. (2) There should be a blanket ban on the entry of the Rohingya Muslims into India from any border or by any means. (3) Govt of India should write to the United Nations & to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in New York & in New Delhi NOT to give them any status (Refugee, Asylum Seeker or any such) ever. (4) As Rohingya Muslims are directly involved in the HUJI, IM, Pakistan’s ISI & other such Jehadi linked terror in Jammu & Kashmir as well as on the borders, those who helped them enter India, travel through various Indian states up till Delhi, gave them shelter & other help should immediately be prosecuted for Treason & under all prevailing anti Terror laws. (5) Once it is found out exactly who are the people & institutions have been helping Jehadi Terror Group Rohingya Muslims, in India, such institutions should be banned & people running them should be prosecuted. (6) India that is Bharat already has been facing various Jehadi terror threats. Despite international terror alert about Rohingya Muslims, if Govt of India does not take immediate actions against them, then this would clearly mean a political decision to support Jehadi terror group. This will put Bharat’s safety & security in danger. (7) Considering the relations of India with America & Russia, sheltering the Rohingya Muslims despite these countries warning about them will permanently spoil India’s diplomatic relations with them. Therefore, Govt of India should take help from America & Russia to prevail on the UN for not giving Refugee status to Rohingya Muslims. (8) This is an urgent matter as the Rohingya Muslims have been bragging that on May 15, 2012 they will get the Refugee status by the UN. Therefore, if the Govt of India is truly serious about the war against terror as it keeps on saying on various forums, then leaving aside the slow Govt processes, every step should be taken to stop the UN from giving Refugee status to the Rohingya Muslims as it will not only harm the majority of Bharat but will lead to the second partition as well as destruction of resources of Bharat with over 40 Lakh (4 Million) Rohingya Muslims putting their additional load on India with their Jehadi terror links!”
2012 – Hongkong Meet of the ‘WORLD HINDU ECONOMIC FORUM’ (WHEF) from 30th June to 1st July, 2012 with the vision and mission to make society prosperous through the generation and sharing of surplus wealth. It was attended by over 250 prominent business persons, industrialists, economists, bankers, international traders and business association leaders from different countries of Europe, Asia, Africa and Pacific region. In his message His Excellency Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam wrote: “Formation of World Hindu Economic Forum is indeed a laudable initiative and it creates one of the best platforms where we can share our experience for our mutual benefit.” The Meet was inaugurated by Hon. Sri Anil Kumar Bachoo (Vice-Prime Minister of Republic of Mauritius), Dr. Gautam Sen (Lecturer of Politics of the World Economy (retired), London School of Economics and Politics), Prof. (Dr.) R. Vaidyanathan (Chairman, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry), Dr. Subramanian Swamy (Former Union Minister, Government of Bharat, Alumnus, Harvard University), Dr. G. Madhavan Nair [Former ISRO Chairman – Indian Space Research Organization – and Head – Project Chandrayaan (Bharat’s Moon Mission)], Dr. Vijay Bhatkar (Chairman, IIT Board of Governors – Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and Inventor Param Super Computer, and former Executive Director, C-DAC), and Dr. Dilip N. Kulkarni (President, Agri-Food Division, Jain Irrigation Systems Limited). In his inaugural speech the Hon. Vice-Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius emphasized the need to develop new economic models which are sustainable and will generate wealth to eradicate poverty, create employment and reduce environmental degradation. There were also group sessions. The GROUP ‘A’ covered subjects, viz., Science and Technology, Engineering, Automobile, Computers & Information Technology, Electronics and Electricals, Telecommunication, Banking & Finance, Insurance and Stock Market. The GROUP ‘B’ covered subjects, viz., Steel and Metal, Minerals and Mining, Cement Industry, Infrastructure, Real Estate, Power and Electricity, Shipping and Transport, Petroleum and Petro-chemical Industries, Chemical and Fertilizer Industry. The GROUP ‘C’ covered subjects, viz., Pharmaceutical Industry and Medical Healthcare, Tourism and Travel, Hotel, Motel & Resorts, Diamond, Gems and Jewelry, Textile Industry and Fiber & filament, Food –Beverages and Food processing, Packaging Industry, Paper Industry, Agriculture & Agro based industries, Retail Trade.
2012 – Trinidad & Tobago: The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad & Tobago (Estd. 1952) steered by its dynamic leader Sri Sat Maharaj Ji organized a mammoth programme in the TnT capital Port-of-Spain in August to welcome and celebrate the visit of the Chief Patron of VHP Int’L Ma. Ashokji Singhal to meet the Hindus of the Caribbean World. Hindus of TnT call Sri Sat Maharaj Ji the “Ashok Singhal of Trinidad”. It is the major Hindu organisation in Trinidad & Tobago. South America would be having over 400 Hindu Temples including 150 being operated by the SDMS in Trinidad alone. The Hindu religio-cultural activities do have temples as their nucleus. The SDMS appreciates that the strength of Hindus will depend upon the strength of the institution of Hindu Temples. This is very much visible in Trinidad & Tobago where the overarching influence of the Hindu temples on Hindu consciousness is big enough to uphold their sense of unity, identity, dignity, glory and belonging in that Island country. The SDMS also runs 59 schools (including secondary and early childhood education centres). An affiliated group, the Pundits’ Parishad, has 200 affiliated Pundits.
2012 – USA: Seventh Annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference (HMEC) – 2012. Over 350 adult and youth delegates representing over 102 Mandirs (Temples) and Hindu organizations, from across the world, attended the 7th Annual HMEC from August 17 through 18, 2012 in San Jose, California. It was hosted by the Fremont Temple and 22 other co-host temples from around the Bay Area in California. Participants came from all across the United States, Canada, India, Trinidad and New Zealand. Addressing the participants by video-conference, Swami Dayananda Saraswati said, “This get-together is bound to create better bonds and good networking among the people connected to the Hindu Mandirs in America.” Ma. Ashokji Singhal, Chief Patron, VHP Int’L attended it.
2012 – USA: The first ever Hindu Women’s Network Conference was convened on June 24, 2012 in Staten Island, New York with the initiative of the Vishva Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA). Although open to women in general, the forum was meant to give voice to Hindu women on contemporary issues faced by them as the nucleus of the family in United States and develop, support structures for their holistic, physical, intellectual and emotional empowerment. As the director and convener of this unique gathering, Dr. Ila Sukhadia’s primary objective for the conference was to highlight the various challenges faced by women and create an interactive network to guide them as a support group in their moment of crisis. With this goal in mind, this daylong well-attended conference was divided into 10 different sessions, headlining various needs of the womanhood. The subject matters incorporated for various panel discussions and experts’ counseling sessions were – Family relations; Self-identity and connecting with your roots; Motivating children, caring for aging parents; Personal loss and loneliness, marital and conjugal conflicts; Fitness and health; Empowerment; Youth session; and Money management.
VHP IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES
AFRICA: KENYA (pop. 43,013,341): Most of the Hindus of Kenya are from Gujarat and Punjab. Hindu population here is around 5 to 10 thousands. The Hindu organizational work here is done under the banner of Hindu Council of Kenya. They organised a Hindu Conference in the year 1988.
AFRICA: MAURITIUS (pop. 13 Lakh 50-thousand/Hindus 7 Lakh/51.8%). Here are active many important Hindu associations, viz., Sanatan Dharma Mandir, Arya Samaj, Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission, etc. Their forefathers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, etc., were taken there over 150 years ago as indentured labour. VHP of Mauritius is a registered body. The political influence and equation of Hindus here is good. In Mauritius, except on one occasion, its Prime Minister has always been a Hindu. It is the only country in Africa, and one of only three countries worldwide, where Hinduism is the dominant way of life. One of the biggest festivals on the island is Mahasivaratri, “Siva’s Great Night.” During this annual celebration four to nine days of ceremony and fasting lead up to an all-night vigil of Siva worship and Ganesha worship. Other important Hindu festivals in Mauritius include: Thaipusam, honoring Lord Kartikeya (Lord Murugan). Although it is officially a Tamil holiday, thousands of non-Tamils join in to carry kavadi; Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival occurring on a public holiday assigned to the extensive Marathi-speaking community, celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha and just as readily attracts all the island’s Hindus, since Lord Ganesha is the patron of harmony and is worshiped first in all Hindu temples as the ‘Pratham Poojya Devata’; Diwali, “the Festival of Lights”. Diwali is so popular it is proclaimed a national public holiday in Mauritius. Not only does it cut across Hindu ethnic barriers, it crosses a few Christian ones as well; Ugadi/Gudi Padwa Hindu New Year; Holi The Festival of Colors; Makar Sankranti. People take holy dips in the Ganga Talao lake in Grand Bassin where Mangal Mahadev – the 108 feet statue of Bhagwan Shiva is the centre of attraction and celebration. The new statues of Lord Hanuman and Ganga Maiyya at the Ganga Talao now also attract the devout.
AFRICA: SOUTH AFRICA (pop. 52-million): The population of Hindus here is 11 lakhs. Their forefathers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, etc., were taken there over 150 years ago as indentured labour. In Durban alone there is a concentration of 7 lakh Hindus. VHP of South Africa is a registered organization. In 1995 a Hindu Conference was organised in Durban. Dr. Nelson Mandela also attended it.
AMERICA NORTH: CANADA (pop. 34 million): Vishva Hindu Parishad of Canada is an incorporated body with its Headquarters in Toronto. Canada’s Hindu presence accounts for about 10 lakh. The number of Sri Lankan Hindus is also considerable there. A National Hindu Conference was held in 1992.
AMERICA NORTH: USA (pop. 320 million) – VHP of America: The United States of America (USA) has about 2.4 million Hindus and 1,600 Mandirs and many long-standing incorporated Hindu bodies such as the Sanatan Dharma Sabha, Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Chinmaya Mission, etc., have been working there. Hindus are positioned in a considerable number of top posts as doctors, engineers, professors, scientists, technicians, IT professionals, businessmen, etc. The Vishva Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) was established in New York in 1970 and was incorporated in New York State in 1974. It has now 14 chapters. VHPA’s Bal Vihar programmes and Youth Programmes are great successes. The annual Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference started by VHPA is now a resounding success story and sooner than later it is slated to be a global movement mobilizing temples of Europe and elsewhere in the world. Currently Hindu-Americans hold the highest socio-economic levels in USA as they have the highest rates of educational attainment and household income and also tend to lower divorce rates, among all religious communities. 48% of American Hindus hold a post-graduate degree. According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life in 2012, 48% of American Hindus have a household income of $100,000 or more, and 70% make at least $75,000, which is highest among all religions in the United States. Many concepts of Hinduism such as law of karma, reincarnation and yoga have become prevalent among main-stream American population. For example, 24% of Americans believe in reincarnation, a core concept of Hinduism. In the last 42 years, VHPA has undertaken over 30 major initiatives and programs towards the fulfillment of its objectives. For example VHPA pioneered heritage camps & conferences and over the past thirty years thousands of youth have participated in these camps. Bal-Vihars were started by VHPA in 1974 to impart Hindu Samskaras and provide an opportunity for children to discover their cultural bond with India and develop pride in their Hindu identity. Hindu Mandir Executives’ Conference (HMEC) is a network Hindu mandirs of America to explore ways of anchoring Hindu Dharma’s eternal values in the hearts of coming generations and the role that mandirs can play to make that happen. We create awareness through VHPA Publications. Hindu Conference was the brainchild of VHP of America in 1984. Dharma Sansad in America followed by a Dharma Prasaar Yatra and a Vishva Dharma Praasar Yatra were major historical milestones in themselves. VHP of America has served as an incubator for many organizations: Hindu University of America, Hindu Student Council, HinduNET and literally gave birth to Hindu Activism on the Web in the form of AHAD. The Seva projects are many including Support a Child (SAC) program started in the 1980s that provides for the living and educational need of over 800 children in Bharat with $250 per child per year. Ekal Vidyalaya program of VHPA focuses on mass education and health care in Vanvasi areas. One teacher helps a village with just $365 per year. During Gujarat Earthquake VHPA rebuilt an entire village of Lodai, which was near the epicenter of the Earthquake. After the devastating Tsunami, VHPA built boats for fishermen so they could get back their means of livelihood. Seva in America comes in all shades and forms: Homeless Soup Kitchen; Adopt-a-Highway; Blanket distribution; Ashraya; Bhutanese Resettlement Project; Katrina, Haiti, Chile and Japan, disaster relief; providing priest services when none is available, helping raise funds to transport the bodies of tragic victims of unfortunate accidents or racists attacks. VHPA members believe: “We brought with us to this land, our value system, our family structure and our spiritual life style. These are the only treasures that our Rishis gave us to live by and to share with others leaving the world a better place than we found it.”
AMERICA SOUTH: GUYANA: Hindu communities are there in several countries of South America, but they are strongest in Guyana and Suriname. There are about 400,000 Hindus in South America, chiefly the descendants of Indian indentured labourers in the Guianas who went there from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, etc., over 150 years ago. There are over 270,000 Hindus in Guyana that has a population of 7-Lakh 57-thousand. In Guyana, Hindus form 35% of the population. The former President of the country was Shri Bharrat Jagdeo and the incumbent President is Sri Donald Ramotar.
AMERICA SOUTH: SURINAME (pop. 560,157): It is an important Caribbean country. 5 lakh people populate it and 1.25 lakh are Hindus of Indian Origin. The Western Hemisphere Kumbha Mela named as the “Surya Kumbha Parvaa” is now annually held from 14th January Makar Sankranti to 18th February on the banks of the river Suriname in Paramaribo – the capital of the country. In 2011 His Excellency the President of the Republic of Suriname Sri Desiré Delano “Dési” Bouterse inaugurated the Surya Kumbha Parvaa. In the 2010 VHP-ICC in Mumbai, Sri Ashwin Adhin, President VHP-Suriname – the youngest president in VHP – informed that in his country the celebration of Deepawali with a giant Diya was nicely presented which was graced by the active participation of Prime Minister and President of Suriname along with thousands of participants. That Deepawali Diya has became a national monument now and the Hindu community got Deepawali as a national Holiday.
AMERICA SOUTH: TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: This important country of islands forms part of the Caribbean Islands aka West Indies. Its total population is 13 lakh and 3 lakh of them are Hindus. Their forefathers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, etc., were taken there over 150 years ago as indentured labour. VHP organised a World Hindu Conference in 2000 CE. Under the auspices of VHP, the Hindus of Trinidad have built and consecrated Trinidadeshwar Mahadev Mandir. They consecrated a river with the holy Ganga Jal and holy waters from all the sacred rivers of Bharat and renamed it Ganga Dhaaraa. Thousands of Hindus of TnT and other areas of the West Indies gather every year at the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean beaches, river banks and other inland water bodies to celebrate the Kartic Nahan festival. Also annual Ganga Dashaharaa and Kartik Snaan celebrations are held on the banks of the holy Aripo Datta Ganga River in Trinidad & Tobago. The Vana Shiva Mandira in the Aripo Datta Shiva Linga Shetra on the banks of this river also has become a Teertha Kshetra for the Caribbean Hindus. Trinidad also hosts the 85-feet tall Lord Hanuman Murti now famous in the Western Hemisphere.
ASIA: BHUTAN (pop.): The total population of this landlocked Himalayan country is 716,896. 75% of them practice the state religion Drukpa Kagyu (Mahayana) Buddhism and 25% are Hindus known as Lhotshampa people that have been living in Bhutan for centuries. They speak a Nepali-Hindi assorted language. The Hindus of Bhutan living mainly in the south practice several schools of Hinduism, viz., the Shaivite, Vaishnavite, Shakta, Ganapati, Puranic, Vedic, etc. Hindu temples exist in southern Bhutan, and Hindus practice their religion in small-to medium-sized groups. The Government of Bhutan has donated a piece of land in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu for construction of a Hindu Temple. Unfortunately, over 1 lakh Hindus and 50 thousand Nigmapa Buddhists have become refugees since 1989 who are now living in pitiable conditions in the refugee camps in Nepal and elsewhere in Europe and USA. The Government of Nepal has also imposed various forms of restrictions on them. Proselytisers are also taking advantage of their misfortune. The Parishad has been conducting campaigns internationally to restore their human rights and their dignified return home to Bhutan. Also certain activity has been started in Nepal, amongst the people staying in the refugee camps in Nepal. Bharatiya businessmen working in Bhutan are now facing troubles there and VHP is in touch with the authorities in Bhutan in order that the problems could be addressed as soon as possible.
ASIA: INDONESIA (pop. 248,216,193): A Hindu country of the ancient Majapahit empire. The Muslim influence increased since 17th Century. It became free from the Dutch empire in 1946-47. The President of Indonesia Mr. Soekarno, who called himself ‘secular’, did not recognise Hindu Dharma. He gave recognition only to Christianity and Islam. Identity Cards were issued to all citizens that also compulsorily identified interalia their religious persuasion. Due to this governmnent decision, crores of Hindus were forced overnight to become disinclined Muslims converted by a misconceived and unlawful official decree. They are Hindus by name, Hindus by Dharma, Hindus by practice, but were recorded as ‘Muslims’ in their Identity Cards as Hindu Dharma was not accorded official recognition. The Hindus fought for long, and then in 1964, Hindu Dharma got recognition. Bali Islands remained Hindu majority. Excepting for Bali, however, openly practising Hindu Dharma became difficult in areas like East Java, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulavesi, Sumatra, etc., where the number of Hindu population was considerable, though in minority. Nobody could raise any voice as Indonesia was under military dictatorship for 30 years.After the advent of democratic rule, the Hindus are feeling themselves free from restrictions. About 10 lakhs of the people that were arbitrarily declared Muslims by the Soekarno regime, have now re-designated themselves as Hindus. Now the Hindu population in Indonesia is about 80-90 lakhs. The un-redesignated Hindus account for over a crore. The population of tribal Hindus would be a few crores. VHP organised an International Hindu Youth Conference in 2004 in Bali after the first Bali bombings. These days, Islamic fundamentalism has been speedily redoubling. Hindus are facing a crisis situation. The Islamic government of the country is making several laws in an effort to curtail the Dharmic rights of Hindus. The Hindus of Indonesia look up to Bharat for inspiration and organization. They ask for guidance and cooperation. Groups of Indonesian Hindu pilgrims pay visits to the Kumbha Melas in Bharat. In his presentation at the VHP-ICC held in Mumbai in 2010 Sri Ida Pedanda Gede Ketut Sebali Tianyar, Dharma Adyaksa, Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) informed about the united efforts of all Hindu organizations in Indonesia. The educational wing, Hindu Universities and Colleges were established. NYEPI day was observed thoughout the Bali Island. His presentation was followed by the success story of Hindu student organization, KMHDI which stands for Kesatuan Mahasiswa Hindu Dharma Indonesia or ‘The United Indonesia Hindu Dharma Students’. Gde Dharma Nugraha, president KMHDI presented the activities and programmes organized by KMHDI. He described the details of Hindu Value education among youth though KMHDI and other educational and social activities.
ASIA: MALAYSIA (pop. 29,179,952): There are about 20 lakh Hindus in this country. Most of them are Tamil speaking that were brought here from Bharat by the British 150 years ago. Many Hindu associations are active here. Malaysia is a Muslim majority country. Ever since its independence, here Hindus are being discriminated against. Fundamentalist Muslim movements have increased manifold during last some years. VHP is active here. VHP, in association with other Hindu organizations, had been conducting Hindu renaissance programmes for the past several years to awaken and organise the Hindus, and thousands of Hindus participated in the programme. Dharma Youth Conference was organised in 2007 with the participation of followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sintoism, Taoism and Confucianism. Its result was amazing. Those that were distant from one another, came to unite that had a far-reaching political influence. An organization named Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) was established in two years. It organised a big demonstration of 20 thousand Hindus on 25th November, 2007. The Malaysian Government put it down in a barbaric manner and the government reaction attracted worldwide condemnation. Far-reaching political consequences of this demonstration also came to the fore. This daring move by the Malaysian Hindus was commended everywhere. VHP took up their human rights violation cases at international fora and conducted a concerted campaign. In his presentation at the VHP-ICC held in Mumbai in 2010 Sri V.K. Regu informed about the struggles of Malaysian Hindus and their triumph against hostile Malaysian police, government and Muslim community. Sri Regu also informed about the illegal demolition of Hindu temples by Malaysian government and resistance by Hindus. In some of the places they have re-erected the temples after successful resistance.
ASIA: MYANMAR (pop. 54,584,650): About 10 lakh Hindus live here. Most of them are of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu origin. They enjoy complete Dharmic freedom here. In the wake of the military coup, Hindus in great numbers fled the country. Due to weak economy of the country, Hindus are also weak economically. Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh is one of the prominent organizations of Hindus.
ASIA: NEPAL: In Feb. 2002 it was reported: “Since 1988 the Vishva Hindu Maha Sangh is working in Nepal. The Ekal Vidyalaya scheme is functioning since last five years. At present 355 Vidyalayas are working with the assistance of VHP Europe. Under Arogya Sewa 1,35,000 patients have been treated. The Hindu population has been shown to be reduced in the census. To get the methodology of census changed protest meetings were organized at 800 places. It is regrettable that even though people are religious, the Hindutwa Swabhiman is lacking. It has been possible to restrict the Muslim and Christian activities through the Ekal Vidydalayas. But the residential schools had to be shut down due to the activities of the Maoist movement. There are 45 full timers.” Now, unfortunately, the country is no longer a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Shri Shreegopal Vyas, Rajya Sabha M.P. (New Delhi), batted for the status of Nepal as a “Hindu Rashtra” through the Opposition in both Houses of Bharatiya Parliament in the 3rd week of May, 2006. The Nepalese Parliament’s proclamation declaring the world’s only Hindu Kingdom, as a ‘secular’ State, was criticized. Our stand was: “While it is for the people of Nepal to decide on the kind of Government they want, what was the need to scrap the word Hindu from its name. Nepal’s Hindu identity has nothing to do with the monarchy. The Nepalese Parliament should not have omitted that word”. Asserting that Nepal’s Hindu population was the ‘guarantee’ for secularism, he held out, “We do not want Nepal to be a theocratic State, but at the same time, what is the harm in calling itself Hindu? There are over 50 countries in the world who proudly call themselves as Islamic Republic. India itself is secular because it is a Hindu-majority State. With 84 per cent Hindu population, it is also a Hindu state. Who can deny it?” The opposition party has been in favour of constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy in Nepal, while maintaining Nepal’s distinct Hindu identity.
ASIA: SINGAPORE (pop. 5.31 million): Three lakh Hindus live here most of whom are Tamil speaking. The president of Singapore is a Tamil speaking Hindu. There is a Hindu Endowment Board here sponsored by the Government of Singapore. The Board runs the temples.
ASIA: SRI LANKA (pop. 21,481,334): The Hindu population here is between 25 and 30 lakhs. 15 lakh of them are those that went there from Tamil Nadu (Bharat) 150 years ago. 15 lakh are Hindus of Sri Lankan origin that live in the North-Eastern and the Western parts of the country. After the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948, the majority Sinhala Government of Sri Lanka abrogated the citizenship rights of people of Indian origin and made them stateless. After that they started lingustic discriminations against the Tamils of Sri Lankan origin. The Tamils opposed it peacefully, but the Sri Lankan Government put it down with barbarity. Widespread government-sponsored anti-Tamil riots were organised in the years 1956, 1977 and 1983. A civil war went on there for over 30 years. The following are the fallouts of the civil war:- *1700 Hindu temples destroyed, *70 thousand people killed, *Over 1 lakh children orphaned, *Over 3 lakh people internally displaced, *Hindu businesses and economic stability weakened. The condition of Hindus has become pitiable in the fields of education and administration., *The people are living under a reign of fear and always feel unsafe for their life and property. More than a million people have migrated to different parts of the world. Due to terror and fear, Hindu social leadership fails to come up. The Governments of Sri Lanka and Bharat should see to it that a sincere devolution of power to the Tamil-majority areas of Sri Lanka along federal or quasi-federal lines within a united Sri Lanka is ensured at the earliest possible. VHP was reorganized in 2001 and its activities were given a boost. It was registered again. Many youth camps were organised on a continuous basis. Sunday Hindu schools are being run. Ganesh festivals at mass level are being organised, propagated and spread. “Bharatiya Hindu Association” has been established to consolidate the Hindus that have gone there for employments and business.
ASIA: THAILAND (pop. 67 million): About 5,000 Hindus live in Thailand. They are mostly located in the cities. In the past, the nation came under the influence of the Khmer Empire, which had strong Hindu roots. The epic, Ramakien, is based on the Ramayana. The city, Ayutthaya, is named after Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Rama. Numerous rituals derived from Hinduism are preserved in rituals, such as use of holy strings and pouring of lustral water from conch shells. Furthermore, Hindu deities are worshipped by many Thais alongside Buddhism, such as the famous Erawan shrine, and statues of Ganesh, Indra, and Shiva, as well as numerous symbols relating to Hindu deities are found, e.g., Garuda, a symbol of the monarchy. The famous Hindu rituals of The Giant Swing and the Triyampavai-Tripavai ceremony depict a legend about how the god created the world. The élite, and the royal household, often employ Hindu Priests to mark funerals and state ceremonies such as the ploughing ceremony to ensure a good harvest. They have syncretised Hindu and Bauddha rituals and worldview. We know Samudra Manthan or Ksheera Saagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas. The story appears in the Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana. Literal metamorphic meaning of manthan is deep contemplation, churning of facts, analysis aimed at solution or conclusion. The “Samudra Manthan” is depicted in the bas-relief at ancient Angkor Wat Vishnu Temple in Cambodia and it is now grandly depicted at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Unfortunately, such a depiction by Bharat Sarkar in an airport in Bharat is unthinkable as it would dub it ‘anti-secular’ under compulsions of the ‘Vote Bank Politics’ and the ‘Policy of Appeasement’. In his presentation at VHP-ICC held in Mumbai in 2010, Sri Susheel Saraff, President of VHP-Thailand (also President of India-Thai Chamber of Commerce and Chairman, Saraff Group) briefed about several activities of VHP Thailand which included organizing several Hindu festivals such as Holi, Deepwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc. Ganesh Puja is jointly organized together with Buddhist temple and monasteries. Organizing Ganesh Festival has become a landmark achievement of VHP Thailand and this festival has become an instrument of togetherness of both Hindu and Buddhist communities there.
EUROPE: DENMARK (pop. 5,580,413 ): The population of Hindus here is 5,000. VHP is a registered association here. In 1985, it hosted the Second European Hindu Conference.
EUROPE: GERMANY (pop. 81,903,000): The population of Hindus in Germany is about 1 lakh. Now the number of displaced Hindus from Sri Lanka is also considerable here who have constructed very beautiful Hindu temples here. VHP-Germany is a registered association. It has its Hindu Centre in Frankfurt. It has 5 chapters. VISHVA HINDU PARISHAD, e.V. of Germany hosted the 5th European Hindu Conference at Frankfurt on 28-30 August, 1992.
EUROPE: HOLLAND (THE NETHERLANDS)(pop. 16,847,007): The population of Hindus in the Netherlands is about 1.50 lakh. About 1 – 1.25 lakh of them are those that came from Suriname and the rest of them being Sri Lankan Hindu migrants. VHP is registered here as “Wereld Hindu Federatie Nederland” (World Hindu Federation of the Netherlands). It organised a Hindu Conference in 1988. This country houses the ideal village “Sidhadorp” founded by Maharshi Mahesh Yogiji where 400 households of indigenous people of the country follow the Hindu way of life. It has grown steadily and includes homes of different sizes, a beautiful meditation dome, a junior school, a vegetarian restaurant, business and office accommodation, a Maharishi Ayurveda clinic and much more. In his presentation at VHP-ICC-2010 in Mumbai, Sri Sradhananad Sital, Chairman, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD Headquartered in The Netherlands), mentioned about herculean efforts of GHRD to address human rights violations of Hindus in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. He informed about GHRD work to stop the trafficking of young girls from Nepal. He spoke deeply from his heart which inspired and motivated the audience. He informed about the Human Right Report published by GHRD on the conditions of Hindus in these countries. He further presented the work of partner organizations Centre of Socio-Economic Development and Hindu Student Forum Netherlands (HSFN).
EUROPE: NORWAY (pop. 613,285): The population of Hindus here is 8,000. VHP of Norway is a registered association. It has its own Hindu Centre. They organise Hindu festivals and youth camps.
EUROPE: UNITED KINGDOM (pop. 632 Lakh): VHP-UK enjoys good rapport with local administration. Forcefully articulated the problems of Fiji and Bangladesh Hindus with the Commonwealth, UNO, Amnesty International, Interfaith Organizations. The Hindu presence in UK accounts for about 12 lakh. Now the number of displaced Hindus from Sri Lanka is also considerable there. VHP-U.K. is a registered organization. It started working in 1972. It is recognised by the British Government as a representative body of Hindus. It has 12 chapters. Four chapters have their own temples, office buildings and centres. Main Activities of VHP-UK: Organises celebration of various Hindu festivals like Janmaashtami, Raama Navami, Navaraatri, Diwali, etc. The stress is on participation by families rather than individuals. Organises Bal Shibirs (Camps for Kids and Youngsters); Annual Welcome Ceremonies for students of Universities; Cooperation with National Hindu Students Forum; 1989 – Virat Hindu Conference at Milton Keynes with the participation of 300 Hindu institutions and organizations of various profiles. 70,000 people participated. Big movement protesting against closure of Bhakti Vedanta Manor (ISKCON Temple). The government-sponsored closure was finally vacated and the temple got opened. Marked the centenary year of the famous Chicago speech of Swami Vivekananda by organizing programmes and semninars in various cities and towns. Organised Sikh exhibition to mark the Tricentenary Year of the Khalsa movement. Organised grand Raksha Bandhan celebration in association with other organizations in the Millennium Dome on August 15, 2000. Hosted the UK leg of Vishva Dharma Prasar Yatra. 2001 – Conference of Hindu Organizations. Brought out the book “Explaining Hindu Dharma – A Teacher’s Guide” that is recognised by the British Government as a text book to teach Hindu Dharma in schools; Organized ‘Dharma Shiksha Varg 2009’. National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF), UK organizes National Conferences and Dynamic Spirit Conferences and undertakes other activities in UK. NHSF-UK has become one of the best organized and vibrant youth and student organizations.
PACIFIC REGION: AUSTRALIA (pop. 22,853,970): Hindus form a religious minority in Australia of 276,000 according to the 2011 census (up from 148,119 in the 2006 census). Hinduism is the fastest growing religion in Australia. VHP-Australia has been trying to shape Hindu identity and position Hindu community in Australia through various activities including National Hindu Conferences. VHP-Australia was invited to World Parliament of Religions held at Melbourne during December 2009 and it actively participated in it. VHP has license from government of Australia to teach Hindu Dharma (Hindu Scripture) in classes in public schools. At present, VHP volunteers are teaching in sixty schools in Australia and more than 2000 Hindu students are attending Hindu Dharma classes there. VHP Australia also runs three Veda Pathasalas (where more than 120 students attend classes regularly) named as Sydney Veda Pathashala, a unique project. Sydney Veda Pathasala was invited to inaugurate welcome ceremony programme and bless the Queen’s baton relay by chanting Ved mantras. VHP runs other important projects such as Bal Sanskar Kendra, Children Camps, Hindu Heritage camps, Hindu Social Service Foundation. Hindu Youth Australia (the youth wing of VHP) held the 1st Australian Hindu Youth Conference on April 19-20, 2008 on the theme “Contribution of Hindu community in Australia”. This conference was welcomed by the government of Australia and they reported at their official website: “Hindu Youth inspired the nation through leadership and cohesion”. The Hindu Youth Australia held its 2nd National Conference on Sunday, 7 August 2011, in Parramatta, in western Sydney. The conference was titled “Create, Connect, Commit”, a call to action to 250 young Hindu Australian attendees, to be proactive and visible in their contribution towards the greater Australian community. The conference was endorsed by the Prime Minister, Hon Julia Gillard MP, who in her message of support, highlighted the positive contributions of Hindu Australians, and encouraged young Hindus in Australia to do the same. This sentiment was echoed in the addresses given by Ms Julie Owens MP and Mr Laurie Ferguson MP, who were both present and have been regular attendees at various Hindu conferences. VHP here celebrates Varsha pratipada (Hindu New Year Day) and Sri Ram Navami. The Ekal Vidyalaya foundation is active here.
PACIFIC REGION: FIJI ISLANDS (pop. 890,057/July 2011 est.): 40% of its population (about 3-lakh 57-thousand) is Hindu. Many Hindu associations are active here. Their forefathers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, etc., were taken there over 150 years ago as indentured labour. Under the regimes of frequent coups, the political weight of Hindus there is lessening. Educated Hindus are fleeing the country. During the late 1990s, there were several riots against Hindus by radical elements in Fiji. In the spring of 2000, the democratically elected Fijian government led by Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was held hostage by a group headed by George Speight. They were demanding a segregated state exclusively for the native Fijians, thereby legally abolishing any rights the Hindu inhabitants have. Several dozen Hindu temples have been vandalized or destroyed by arson or looting. The Methodist Church of Fiji called for the creation of a Christian State and endorsed forceful conversion of Hindus after a coup d’état in 1987. The present military regime, however, is positive towards Hindus. Hindus there have established the University of Fiji. Hindu schools of religion such as Sanatan Dharma, Arya Samaj, Kabir Panthi, Saibaba, Sri Ramakrishna Mission, etc., are active in Fiji. Volunteers of Vishva Hindu Parishad-Fiji as HEART (Hindu Emergency Aid Relief Team) have also been active in relief and rehabilitation missions in the cyclone affected areas of Ba and Tavua in Fiji.
PACIFIC REGION: NEW ZEALAND (pop. 4.5 million): Total Hindu population here is 65 thousand. Since May 2006, Hindu Council of New Zealand (in ethnic language “Vishva Hindu Parishad – New Zealand) is a registered Incorporated Society, a not for profit charitable organization though it has been working for the community in NZ since 1996. It has a team of dedicated and committed volunteers with good understanding and clear vision inspired by eternal values of Dharma. Immediately after registration, they purchased the old campus of the New Zealand University in Auckland measuring an area of 8.5 acres of land including the buildings and other infrastructure and established Hindu Heritage Centre. The Governmental organizations now hold Vishva Hindu Parishad in high esteem. VHP as an organization is getting increasingly active and influential. The government has given it Charity Status. VHP-NZ has created a Hindu movement in New Zealand and has achieved many a milestone in building organizations and also shaping Hindu identity, strengthening and positioning Hindu community through organizing national and regional conferences, youth conferences, elder conference, seminars, children and youth camps, unique Deepawali festivals, transforming the Raksha Bandhan festival as an instrument in organizing Hindu community there. The first National Conference of HCNZ was inaugurated by Her Excellency the Prime Minister of New Zealand Ms. Helen Elizabeth Clark. In the past there were many ministers, M.Ps, and Government officials who attended various programmes and camps organized by VHP. There are some sister organizations under VHP-New Zealand such as Hindu Youth New Zealand, New Zealand Hindu Students Forum, Hindu Elders Foundation, AROGYA, Hindu Emergency Aid and Relief Team (HEART) and Hindu Heritage Centre, Hindu Social Services foundation, etc. The initiatives of VHP New Zealand by closely working with Maori communities, Dharma community, Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto Communities were well appreciated. VHP closely works with government agencies and Government also recognizes VHP as representative organization of Hindus. As usually happens elsewhere, when a Hindu Organization such as the VHP-NZ grew in strength and scope, anti-Hindu forces tried to attack it in public form and through media. They attacked it through media but VHP workers silenced it.
HINDU HERITAGE PRATISHTHAN
HHP – a wing of VHP Bharat – promoted Hindu Heritage among foreign students coming for study in Bharat (Universities in Delhi, Agra and elsewhere in Bharat) through organizing Annual Hindu Heritage Seminars, Heritage tours etc. The International Hindu Students Council established special contacts with the NRI & PIO Hindu students (who enthusiastically participated in it in good numbers) to cultivate them so that they could more deeply identify with the Bharatiya traditions, culture and global Hindu fraternity. HHP hoped that they would act as Bharat’s Cultural Ambassadors when they are back home or placed anywhere in the world. HHP also hoped that the other students would become connoisseurs of the Holistic Himalayan Tradition and transmit the experience amongst their compatriots back home for their understanding and appreciation of the Hindu Tradition. The annual seminars-cum-culturo-educational tours were held in Delhi, Rishikesh-Haridwar, Jaipur and other places. The first seminar was held at Rishikesh in 1998 in which 40 foreign students took part. During the subsequent years in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 students numbering 70 to 80 from countries such as Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Fiji, Georgia, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgizstan, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Russia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, etc., participated. In the years from 2003 to 2009 about 150 students took part in the seminars every year. They used to get blessings from HH Swami Dayanand Saraswatiji Maharaj of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and HH Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji) of Paramarth Niketan, Rishikesh. In the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 over 300 foreign students visited every year about 120 Hindu homes in Jaipur to enjoy traditional Rajasthani hospitality and celebrate Diwali, Holi, Saraswati Puja, Raksha Bandhan, etc., with the family member in a traditional community setting. HHP also promoted exchange programmes for foreign students. Now Hindu Heritage Foundation is planning similar programmes in future.