On August 18th 2019, twenty Counselors of Hindu Tradition (CHT) lined up to receive their certificates and begin serving families and institutions. They were graduates of Hindu Community Institute’s (HCI) inaugural course of one-year long Sunday classes.
HCI, founded in May 2018 by a group of senior professionals and executives of the Silicon Valley, provides world-class service learning and quality of life education. The students are working or retired professionals who want to “give back” and “learn to serve” the community. The course, taught by world class faculty, combines contemporary counseling knowledge, technologies and Hindu wisdom.
The morning started with the recitation of Gayatri Mantra and Maha Mrityunjaya Jaap in Sanskrit, Hindi and English by children of Yoga Bharati and the Gayatri Pariwar Sunday schools. This is the first time I have heard these powerful mantras recited in Hindi and English. This pure energy set the tone for the rest of the morning. Scholars walked on to the stage to receive their CHT certification. Pride shone in the eyes of the spouses, children and friends of the new graduates who additionally also received framed a Certificate of Congressional Recognition signed by Congressman Ro Khanna and a Certificate of Recognition by Assembly member Ash Kalra as well.
A spirit of seva and happiness pervaded the room.
“Doing things for others gives great satisfaction,” said Gaurav Rastogi, Academic Dean- Hindu Community Institute. There is a huge latent desire in us to serve. We come with the desire to serve and at HCI, scholars learn the knowhow of serving. In the Jewish tradition when a child is born the Rabbi shows up at the door with books and explains the traditions of the faith to the family. It is this knowhow of the highest quality that HCI has developed.
“In the Hindu system the clergy and seva have been separate,” explained Mr. Kailash Joshi, founder and President of HCI. “Traditionally clergy was devoted to divine affairs and extended- family stepped in to meet the traditional needs and support for the individual. For the diaspora HCI is creating a community- mechanism that generation after generation can carry forward and use, as trusted and well-trained resource, to meet those needs of the individual through informed seva.”
“We follow the cycle of Learn- Serve- Serve,” said Naras Bhat, Dean of Academic Affairs. Course Valedictorian Mangala Kumar, spoke of her transformative experience while doing the course. She was later invited to serve on the Board of HCI.
We learned that the mission of HCI is to marry contemporary knowledge and technology with Hindu wisdom. They have a multi-prong approach for this:
Service Learning via the CHT Certification Course. Register here.
In parallel, they are developing a Service Corps to serve the community . For this the CHT’s will receive additional practical training with realistic field experience. For this HCI will partner with institutions such as Stanford Hospital and Livermore temple.
Social Infrastructure: The Samskara Guidance System or SGS is currently being tested and will help members analyze incoming calls on the toll free number, assess the request and respond with accurate and compassionate help.
Process Excellence: The Field Operations Manual or FOM , a living document, will be the go-to manual for service corps members. The goal is to professionalize the delivery of community services through open-source processes and collaborations between Hindu-Vedic and interfaith organizations.
Speakers stressed the need for raising US Dollar donations to create a vital long-term infrastructure. HCI operates at a 9x leverage, for every $1 received in donations, HCI volunteers contribute Nine “Om Dollars” worth of actual value.These “Om Dollars” bless the giver and the receiver.
As the Hindu diaspora becomes mainstream, it needs institutions like HCI to support the rich traditions and serve the wider society. There is an opportunity to join in on this very exciting journey.