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Press Release of Michigan program on Saturday

Over one hundred-fifty students packed the Kuenzel Rm at the 
Michigan Union of the University of Michigan (UMich), Ann 
Arbor to attend the 1st Conference on Spirituality.  The 
theme of the one day program was TRUTH IS ONE, PATHS ARE 
MANY. The conference, held on Saturday March 19, 1994, was 
organized by the Hindu Students Council (HSC) chapter at 
UMich, and was supported by many organizations and university 
The conference began with an invocation.  Vipul Parikh, a 
second year premedical student at UMich presented the vision 
and mission of HSC and the relevance of the program towards 
achieving them.  Viraj Parikh, a senior biology and 
anthropology major was the MC for the morning session.  The 
MC for the afternoon session was Naresh Vyas, a 1st year 
engineering student.
Shri Tom Patel an active community member, welcomed the 
students and the dignitaries.  He commended the students for 
maintaining their Hindu heritage and urged everyone to work 
towards the Vedic ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - the whole 
universe is one family.
Prof. Ralph Williams of the English Department gave the 
keynote address, which set the tone for the conference.  He 
remarked how various cultures gave different names to God and 
spoke at length about the ancient Greek philosophy regarding 
Dr. David Frawley of the American Institute for Vedic Studies 
spoke on the spiritual nature of God.  He said, "Giving a 
name to God puts a limitation on God."  He added that the 
power of God is infinite and that we hardly know God.  He 
emphasized the Hindu view of the presence of God in all 
beings and form. 
Speaking on spirituality and nature, Mr. George Martin, an 
Elder and Spiritual Leader of the Native American Ojibwa 
tribe said, "The Creator put people on earth to live in 
harmony with nature."
The first speaker, Rabbi Stacie Schiff, also a professor in 
the Near Eastern Studies Dept, said, "through everyday life 
we experience spirituality.  Judaism develops a communal 
spirituality, and gives an experience of oneness."  She spoke 
on Judaism's idea of divinity in all and stressed the 
importance given to charity, reflection on the self, and 
prayer in Judaism. Students joined her in singing spiritual 
songs during her presentation.
Vedanta contains the essence of the Vedas, the holy Hindu 
scriptures which contain ideas that represent the farthest 
flight of human thought.  In his speech, Swami Kalikananda 
explained some of the ideas expressed in Vedanta.  He 
emphasized the importance of harmonizing oneself.  He added 
that self-examination is essential for achieving this. He 
also expressed the idea that each individual is an integral 
part of God and one can realize this truth through self-
examination. He said, "You have to put some efforts to get 
some results out of religion."
The next speaker Paramita Nathaniel Needle of the Zen 
Buddhist Temple of Ann Arbor, began his presentation with a 
five minute meditation, in which the students also 
participated.  He also spoke on the importance of self-
examination.  He further said, "OneUs mind is always flipping 
around, practice to control it.  Practice letting go.  You 
should be able to develop a space around an idea in your 
Discussion sessions were also held throughout the day.  Each 
discussion sessions featured one or two speakers and a 
student moderator.  Conference attendees were able to attend 
2 discussions.  The 4 discussion were:
Morning:        Science & Spirituality -- Dr. David Frawley & Prof
                        Ralph Williams, moderated by Saloni Raval,
                        1st year student from Trinidad in actuarial
                Nature, Environment, & Spirituality -- Elder George
                        Martin, moderated by Usha Govindarajulu,
                        graduate student in natural resources
Afternoon: Spirituality & Happiness, Paramita Nathaniel
                        Needle & Rabbi Stacie Schiff, moderated by
                        Samir Gupta, a 1st year premedical student
                Vedanta & Human Potential -- Swami Kalikananda,
                                    of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society,
                                     Ganges, MI
                        moderated by Michelle Vallabhanath, 1st
                        year student in engineering
Punam Sachdev, a 1st year student thanked all the 
participants on behalf of HSC, for making the seminar a 
fruitful one.  The program concluded with closing remarks and 
prayer by Deepa Prahalad, a 3rd year Political Science and 
economics major.
After the event, Alpa Soni, a graduate student in pharmacy 
and active worker of HSC, said RThe conference was excellent. 
I learned a lot and liked the speeches, discussions, 
everything a lot.  The turnout was also very good.S  Radha 
Rao, a graduate student in nursing and an active worker 
exclaimed R...this was a great program.  Everyone worked hard 
to put this together.S  Siva Hota, a civil engineering 
graduate student said, RThis program is significant because 
it shows that Hindus are taking the lead in bringing together 
people from various religions that want a more tolerant, 
peaceful, and harmonious existence for all.S
Many people worked hard to put this together.  We had to make food
and housing arrangements for the speakers and our brothers and sisters 
from out of town.  We had to make airport runs.  A lot of material was
distributed at the conference about HSC.  Books were sold.  Also, we took
many pictures that will be used for publicity and press releases.

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