Annual Experts Meetings


During its first year of operation, in October of 2008, the Uberoi Foundation hosted in Denver, Colorado, more than a dozen renowned scholars of Dharmic traditions. The scholars used their time together to sketch out the contours of the Foundation's work. Representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism were on hand in person, and a representative of Sikhism was present by conference call. Remarkably, the scholars noted how unusual it was for them to be together to reflect on the common threads that bind these Dharmic traditions and that, as scholars, they rarely, if ever, have that opportunity. It was a wonderful and meaningful beginning to the work that the Foundation had launched.



Over two days in late October of 2009, the Foundation organized a second opportunity to meet with scholars. To participate in its "Uberoi Foundation Experts Meeting," on location in Orlando, Florida, the Foundation invited twenty academicians to collaborate with its five-member board of trustees in three joint sessions. In the months leading up to the sessions, the Foundation announced its intention at the Experts Meeting to delve deeply into the commonalities of the four Indic Dharmic traditions as well as into the ways in which those traditions contribute to society. For the Experts Meeting, Shiva Bajpai prepared a paper on Theism: The Ultimate Reality and Arvind-Pal Mandair and Bal Ram Singh prepared a paper on Karma.



The Foundation's Experts gathered in Denver in October of 2010 at the Iliff School of Theology. Over two full days of fast-paced discourse, the Experts revealed their considerable talents and scope. In so doing, they demonstrated an exceptionally high level of academic rigor in their presentations and conversations. Deliberations at the Experts' Meeting and the lively exchanges among the scholars very successfully met the lofty charge set by the organizer, Dr. Arvind Sharma, who selected the topic of "Decolonizing Indic Studies."


At the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado: Participants in the 2010 Experts Meeting of the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, October 9, 2010.


In the beginning of October in 2011, the Foundation's Experts had the pleasure of meeting over two days in Los Angeles, California, with the significant assistance of co-sponsors Loyola Marymount University and Nalanda International. The 2011 Uberoi Foundation Experts Meeting, entitled "In Our Own Voices: Dharma Education in North America," sought to facilitate the emergence of innovative and creative theories, approaches, and methods to education and scholarship in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh Dharma traditions. "In Our Own Voices" drew attention to the fact that Dharma traditions are not at the center of the dominant global discourse on contemporary issues and challenges. The voices (wisdom and discernment) of the Dharma traditions are currently on the margins. Yet they are of great significance and relevance to the crises that face humanity. The on-going goal is to position the insights of Dharma as integral to addressing these challenges. The term "In Our Own Voices" does not refer to who is talking or writing but rather refers to which lens is being used to define and understand the Dharma traditions.



In mid-October of 2012, the Experts of the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies once again had the opportunity to meet together over a period of two days. Gathering in Denver, Colorado, the Experts began with reflections on the tragic attack brought upon the Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin earlier that year. The Experts then turned their attention to practical, in-depth discussions on the two programmatic priorities of the Uberoi Foundation – namely, training U.S. school teachers in Dharmic traditions and correcting distortions and inadequacies of Dharmic traditions in North American textbooks. The Experts concluded their time together by sharing brief presentations of pivotal work underway on each of these two programmatic priorities by likeminded organizations and experts.


Participants in the 2012 Experts Meeting of the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, in Denver, Colorado.


In the summer of 2013, the vitality of one of the Uberoi Foundation's primary grant-making programs served as the centerpiece of the Foundation's annual Experts Meeting. Assembling in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, the trustees gathered together a smaller, core group of Experts for reflection on the Foundation's strategy and participation in the annual teacher training program held at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Twenty Experts began their time together on July 31 with a mini-symposium in recognition of the 150th birthday anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and, specifically, on the impact of his travels to the western world in 1893. The mini-symposium's discussion included the participation of Uberoi Foundation chair Ved Nanda and Uberoi trustees Yashwant Pathak, Shiva Bajpai, and Bal Ram Singh. Witnessing the detail of the training provided to the teachers, the trustees took part mid-week in a focus placed on Jain beliefs, lifestyle, and culture, as well as an evening dance demonstration by UMass Dartmouth student Anuradha Tata. In a strategy session held in the afternoon of August 1, the Uberoi trustees brainstormed on how best to implement the intended mission of Professor Mahinder Uberoi, especially with regard to the Foundation's two fundamental priorities for the next several years – the training of U.S. teachers in the Dharmic traditions and the correcting of distortions about the Dharmic traditions in U.S. textbooks.



As Fall colors descended upon the valley of Boulder, Colorado, the Uberoi Foundation gathered in mid-September on the historic campus of Naropa University. The Foundation's annual Expert Meeting began with a special Friday evening event organized by the University of Colorado and Naropa University called the Chogyam Trungpa Lecture, sponsored by Uberoi. Dr. John Makransky, professor of Buddhism at Boston University, served passionately and inspirationally as the keynote speaker. On the Saturday and Sunday which followed, the Foundation then focused exclusively on its theme for the Experts Meeting in 2014 – Compassion in the Four Dharmic Traditions. A total of 21 speakers participated in the featured sessions, along with keynote speeches offered during meal times. Following the Experts Meeting, the Uberoi Foundation assembled and edited the papers delivered over the weekend into a book for subsequent publishing and dissemination.



In the beginning of October of 2015, the Uberoi Foundation gathered once again for its annual Experts Meeting, this time in Tampa, Florida, on the campus of the University of South Florida. The Jijnyasa Foundation co-sponsored the meeting, represented by its executive director, Dr. Gururaj Mutalik, among others from its network. Uberoi Foundation Advisory Committee Chairman Dr. Yashwant Pathak was a most gracious host, as were Uberoi Vice Chairman Shri Parveen Setia and his wife, Smt. Mini Setia, who reside in southern Florida. Dharma Education in the United States – Challenges and Opportunities served as the focus of the 2015 Experts Meeting, with many first-time participants taking part, and in so doing, adding tremendous value. Those individuals included Dr. Vishwa Adluri from Hunter College in New York; Dr. Narinjan Kaur Khalsa from Loyola Marymount University; Dr. A.S. Pandya at Florida Atlantic University; Prof. Andrew Schelling from Naropa University; Mr. Matthew Spurlin, a PhD student at the University of Denver; Dr. Darshan Thakkar from Boston; Dr. Lavanya Vemsani from Shawnee State University; and Dr. Alice Wood from Bethune-Cookman University.



On September 15, the Uberoi Foundation assembled in Montreal for its annual Expert Meeting in order to attend a special program of an Uberoi grantee, McGill University. Professor Arvind Sharma, faculty member of Religious Studies at McGill and a regular expert of the Uberoi Foundation, served as the lead organizer of the “Third Global Conference on World’s Religions since September 11: From Faith to Interfaith.” Co-sponsored by the Uberoi Foundation, the Conference called upon many prominent keynote speakers, including Deepak Chopra and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Following the Conference, members of the Uberoi Advisory Committee and of the Uberoi Grants Committee met in strategic planning sessions in order to review the programmatic priorities of the Uberoi Foundation and the implementation of those priorities through the Foundation’s grantmaking process. A renewed commitment resulted with regard to the Foundation’s focus on teacher training and textbook reform.



Between September 29 and October 1, the Uberoi Foundation met in Denver in association with the Ved Nanda Center and the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver to focus on The Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability from the Perspectives of the Four Dharmic Traditions. Professors Rita Sherma, Veena Howard, Ramdas Lamb, Mugdha Yeolekar, Bal Ram Singh, Lavanya Vemsani, Subhash Kak, Haragopal Parsa, and Appachanda Thimmaiah provided the Hindu perspective; Professors Claude D’Estree, Joan Policastri, and Matt Spurlin the Buddhist perspective; Professor Nirinjan Kaur Khlas and Mr. Dilpreet Singh Jammu the Sikh perspective; and Professor Chris Chapple, Dr. Sulekh Jain, and Professor Yashwant Malaiya the Jain perspective. A most interesting dimension of the 2017 Experts Meeting was the offering of a perspective on the topic from the U.S. indigenous tradition, led by Lakota elder Grandmother Regina Brave, Lakota leader Doug Good Feather, Professor Andrew Reid, and Professor Yashwant Pathak.


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