On October 1, the Vedic Friends Association (VFA) hosted their 2.0 Launch Event, “Tools for Human Empowerment – a Yogic Perspective”. It was a first of its kind virtual presentation via Zoom and Facebook Live, highlighting their continued commitment “to present, preserve, protect and promote the principles and practices of Universal Dharma”. The event was well attended globally as renowned scholars shared the mission behind VFA and their vision for the future.
The event was co-hosted by Anjali Nagrani, the Joint Secretary of VFA, and the current President, Benny Tillman (Balabhadra Bhattacharya Dasa) who gave the opening remarks, expressing his delight to the panelists for their participation and to the audience for their anticipation of the upcoming discovery of spiritual tools everyone could avail themselves of to empower them for facing the future.
VFA’s founding President and current Co-Chairman, Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana Dasa) was the first speaker. He shared a brief historical overview of VFA and its progress to the present day, stressing the fact that adopting a Vedic culture could help individuals to develop their highest potential towards leading a fulfilling life. Initially, VFA’s focus was on western audiences but he soon discovered on visits to India, that Indian audiences too, needed guidance in how to preserve their own culture; particularly given the threats from political and religious elements and the influence of western materialism on younger generations.
Our second speaker was Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishi), Co-Founder and the current Co-Chairman of VFA. He eloquently mentioned how much Vedic wisdom emerging from India has relevance and importance in present day world order. He shared a fitting analogy comparing and contrasting the current bug, COVID-19, to another bug – the “Vedic bug”, which is rapidly spreading across the world. And unlike its counterpart, this particular bug is actually helping us! Especially in the current global pandemic environment, in simplistic ways by encouraging us to adopt ‘Namaste’ instead of shaking hands as a way to greet fellow human beings. Namaste means I respect you as my fellow time travelers, who like me, are also on a beautiful, divine journey of learning, a learning to respect others as divine beings.
Jeffrey Armstrong also described a project he has been working for the past 10 years. He believes that many ideas explained in Vedic culture (in Sanskrit) do not have corresponding words in English and that becomes a barrier in understanding Vedic wisdom for the present generation. So he has taken it as a mission to write Bhagawad Gita verses in English, with Sanskrit words embedded wherever applicable, so the concept presented by that verse does not get convoluted. Those Sanskrit words will then be described in the glossary to explain their meanings in the best possible way. He concluded with the message that if we are able to explain the tenets, principles and tools of the Vedic wisdom to new generations in their own languages, without losing the real essence of it, this would be our biggest service (sewa) to humanity. One should promote Vedic culture with calmness, respect and an open mind. There is a greater need to preach ‘Dharm-ocracy’ – the principle foundation of Vedic Culture, where we honor the thought leaders of every civilization, we honor all religions and we have harmonious relationships with everyone on the planet.
Padma Bhushan, Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) was the final speaker. A Vedic teacher and renowned author, Dr. Frawley spoke of his extensive travels to India, which he described as the “Land of Vedic culture”. He has witnessed the revival of Vedic culture in India and worldwide as a positive development. There are Indian communities across the world making a significant difference in the development of their resident nations. Not only are more temples being built, but there is also increased awareness of yoga, Ayurveda, and other Vedic practices globally. He concluded by explaining that one could raise their consciousness with the aid of Vedic practices, driving the use of technology for the benefit of mankind, thereby improving the quality of our lives.
Vijai Ganapa, the current Global Coordinator of VFA, thanked the organizations who work with and support VFA, in its various projects and programs around the world. Notably mentioned are AOL, ISKCON, Sewa International, VFPA, Hindu Service Foundation and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS). Prakash Srivastava provided technical support for the live event. The event was concluded by Balabhadra Dasa thanking the guest speakers and audience for their participation and hinted at more such events being hosted in the near future.
VFA is a Non-Profit Organization with 501C3 and tax exempt status. It’s a Cultural organization based on Socio-Spiritual-Scientific understanding. The essence is Always Being Conscious of Dharma. Accept and Respect all Vedic traditions and paths. It’s open to all, with focus on Yoga Practitioners and Vedic Followers. Having open door policy, where all ideas are welcome. We offer services like Educational Access, Cultural Celebrations and Social Outreach.
“Our Mission is to Present, Preserve, Protect and Promote the Principles and Practices of the Universal Dharma, in all its dimensions”. “We are a group of people, who are individually working in various ways to spread a greater understanding of what the Vedic Dharma culture and philosophy is and what it has to offer. We have been doing this for years separately but have now joined together. We invite everyone else to join us and become Dharma Ambassadors to the world”