BAPS Hosts Balanced Living Conference for Women in Chicago

Bartlett, IL: Contributing to the worldwide commemoration of the 101st International Women’s Day, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha celebrated its fifth annual Women’s Conference in Bartlett, Illinois on Saturday, March 24th, 2012. This year’s focus was on the ancient Hindu teachings of the four purusharths (goals of life), for women within the Indian-American community who work hard to balance various aspects of their personal, career, and social lives. BAPS hosted an engaging conference with panelists who shared pragmatic applications of the purusharth teachings. Many Hindu scriptures, including the Bhagvad Gita and Upanishads, speak of discovering a point of equilibrium and balance while making progress through different phases of one’s life. The conference presented the perfect opportunity for Indian-American women to coalesce these ageless values with practical scenarios from the twenty-first century.

Following the theme of “Purusharth – Balanced Living,” experts ranging from college professors to healthcare professionals incorporated presentations discussing the four purusharths, namely Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Expressing her thoughts regarding the focus of the conference, event organizer Ms. Raina Barot noted, “This conference helped women attain balance in their life based on teachings of the four purusharths and aided them in the many roles they play in their lives.”

In presenting the Dharma purusharth, Mrs. Bhamini Makwana noted Dharma’s importance in providing duty, purpose, structure, and order in our lives. She presented the audience with key questions about our roles and responsibilities and highlighted the exploration of these questions in discovering and fulfilling our spiritual and material aspirations.

Mrs. Dipika Engineer’s talk focused on the Artha purusharth, noting that monetary achievement is not precluded by Hinduism, and that it is an innate human ambition. She highlighted, “Hinduism does not ostracize financial and monetary achievements. It encourages us to reach for the skies while providing guidance on maintaining equilibrium in other aspects of our lives.” She also expressed how impressed she was by the number of career-oriented women in attendance and by their amazing ability to maintain their commitment to their families as well as allocate time for community service.

Additionally, the audience learned about aspects of the Kama purusharth and to fulfill desires through the observance of self-control. The Moksha purusharth presentation focused on the true meaning behind liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth and how one can attain salvation through faith and absence of delusion. Overall, attendees learned how the four purusharths are essential steps in allowing us to not only reach all our life goals, but also maintain stability while doing so and ultimately attain true happiness. Ms. Urvashi Patel, an architect from Indiana, echoed the sentiment expressed by a number of professionals in attendance. In conveying her thoughts, she stated, “The conference was the single most enlightening experience in my life. I will remember the lessons I have learned here today, and will make a constant effort to implement them in all aspects of my life.”

Another conference attendee, Ms. Rucha Patel, appreciated the thought provoking questions presented during the talks. “Today’s topics were very applicable in my life and all the presenters were extremely engaging and educational. The theme was particularly important to me because sometimes I feel it’s so easy to get carried away in my desires and become distracted. But I need to continuously remember that my ultimate goal is to attain moksha and having learned more about the four purusharths here today will help me lead a more balanced life and achieve just that.”

With over 450 women in attendance, the conference brought together women from multiple generations. Younger generations realized the relevance and value of their rich heritage and gained great understanding and respect for the many traditions and values set before them throughout time. Older generations appreciated the challenges faced by young adults today in balancing their careers while cultivating family values. The conference also helped bridge generational gaps and reconcile differences between women raised in various cultures.
Ms. Nishi Jani, a nursing student from Cincinnati attending the conference, shared, “This conference was extremely relevant to all in attendance, both young and old alike, because it’s very important for all of us to learn from each other and reflect on the perfect balance between what we want and what we really need to attain happiness in life.”

The conference concluded with a traditional Hindu prayer for peace as well as an opportunity to network and socialize with one another during a post-conference reception. Attendees were impressed with the participation of young women in organizing the event and expressed the importance of regularly holding such forums to address issues impacting women. Many women also felt enriched and inspired by the talks and conveyed their motivation to share the message with their families and friends.

About BAPS
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace, and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families, and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots – their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically, and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.

About Pramukh Swami Maharaj
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service, and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom, and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders.

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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