2nd Annual Interfaith Conference Organized By Kriya Vedanta Gurukulam -Temple Of Harmony


Chicago, IL: ‘Kriya Vendanta Gurukulam-Temple Of Harmony’, a nonprofit organization located in Joliet, IL and dedicated to spiritual growth and service to humanity, organized its 2nd Annual Interfaith Conference on Saturday, June 30th in the midst verdant campus grounds and its tranquil chapel. Despite of very hot temperature outside the event attracted over 115 citizens from various local and neighboring communities. Surely the topic of the conference says it all for this successful gathering of serene hearts and minds.

The theme of this year dialogue was “Sustaining Our Faith In Everyday Life.” This unique concept of interfaith dialogue is the inspiration from the current beloved spiritual leader of Kriya Yoga International, Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, who couldn’t attend in person but under his guidance various panelist were invited to participate and encourage keen spiritual curiosity in a peaceful abode.
Center stage at this event was an extraordinary panel of eight spiritual and religious leaders from diverse faiths – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The event was kicked-off by standing oblation of universal prayer. The panel was eloquently introduced to the audience and elegantly moderated by Swami Atmavidyananda Giri, the Director of Kriya Vedanta Gurukulam, who also introduced and explained Kriya Yoga during Q&A. “Kriya Yoga is non-religious and non-sectarian, and a path of integrated growth – spiritual, physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual – through yoga, meditation, prayer, study, and services,” Swami Atmavidyananda said.

“Modern life has become more and more fast-paced, stressful, and mechanical. Taking the time to explore our own essential nature and values has taken a back seat in daily life due to pressure and emphasis on material achievements and prosperity. We often forget to connect and be guided by our inner faith. In the same token, technology and the explosion of social networking has brought the world closer than ever, along with a great need for cultural understanding,” explained Swami Atmavidyananda Giri.

Anchored by the rich panel of spiritual and religious leaders, this year’s Interfaith Conference addressed issues of tolerance, harmony, and respect among religions. Attendees submitted questions to panelists and engaged in deep and profound discussions. Each of the panelists drew from their remarkable experiences to highlight themes that resonated deeply with attendees.

Ms. Mazher Ahmed, Vice President of the Batavia Islamic Center, spoke passionately about the shared principals of Islam with other religions and the unique and powerful role of women within Islam. Also explained how the entire credibility of virtue goes to her friend, a non-islam lady, who is no longer among us but helped her in difficult times by maintaining the Islamic center to sustain the practice of group prayers she initiated.

Rev. Mark Winters from the First Congregational United Church of Christ, discussed being loyal to ones core religion while being open to understanding and sharing common beliefs with people of all faiths. On a related note, Dinesh Jain of Naperville, IL who teaches at the Chicago Jain Temple reiterated the need to be self-disciplined to sustain the values of faith, described some of the little understood practices of Jainism, a minority religion in many parts of the world. Mr. Jain also shared how challenging were those days to find vegetarian diet during extensive travel across oceans for business. Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher of The Unitarian Universalist Church highlighted the need for communities to be spiritually vigilant. Dr. Amarjit Singh, a member of the Sikh community and recipient of India’s highest civilian honor, Padma Bhushan, spoke of simplicity and clarity in one’s own spiritual practice. The concept of meditation being a central aspect of spiritual growth was discussed by multiple panelists – Dr. Boonshoo Sriburin of the Vispassana Meditation Center of Chicago, Swami Vedantananda of the Bharat Sevashram Sangh of Chicago, and by host and moderator Swami Atmavidyananda Giri of Kriya Yoga International.

Panelists shared many of their own understanding, insightful experience to sustain and practice of “faith” and participated in a questions & answers session with the attendees. The annual conference promotes interreligious awareness, tolerance, and respect while encouraging ongoing goodwill dialogue and cooperation among peoples of all cultures and religious traditions.

The conference concluded with Swami Atmavidyananda reciting the universal prayer… “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina:…” “May All Become Happy, May All Be Healthy, May All See Only Auspicious Sights, May No One Have A Share in Sorrow. Peace, only peace, nothing but peace.” Then a vegetarian dinner prepared and served by many volunteers. This annual event was offered free and open invitation to all people. More information can be found at http://www.kriya.org/midwest/interfaith/

Kriya Vedanta Gurukulam teaches Kriya Yoga as taught by lineage of masters from Mahavatar Babaji, Shri Lahiri Mahasaya to Paramahamsa Hariharananda and Paramahamsa Prajnanananda to sincere seekers. Kriya Vedanta Gurukulam- Temple of Harmony, is located at 3400 Earl Drive, Joliet, IL 60431, www.kriyavedanta.org Ph:(815) 267-8977 and welcomes spiritual seekers from all faiths to this non-sectarian place for yoga, meditation, retreat, contemplation, spiritual study, interfaith activities, and selfless community service for their personal growth and spiritual practice in daily life.

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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