Ahimsa Center Hosts Lectures, Dialogue on Nonviolence

Ahimsa Center Hosts Lectures, Dialogue on Nonviolence
Anthony J. Parel
Srimati Kamala
Mark Juergensmeyer

The Ahimsa Center in the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences is hosting a series of public events this month that focus on the center's dedication to the teaching and learning of nonviolence and its practical applications in daily life.

The events are part of an intensive two-week fellowship program for K-12 teachers. Forty teachers from across the country will study and live at the university all expenses paid by the center. The fellowship program aims to help K-12 teachers develop educational materials about nonviolence.

“We wanted to open up these events to the public because they are wonderful opportunities to hear from leading nonviolence scholars,” says Tara Sethia, director of the Ahimsa Center and a professor of history.

On Sunday, July 15, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., renowned Mahatma Gandhi scholar and author Srimati Kamala will give a lecture titled “Teaching Truth and Ahimsa: The Gandhian Initiatives.” The event is free and will be held at the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Minor room.

For 35 years, Kamala has dedicated herself to the interpretation of the spiritual heritage of India and the life of Gandhi. Formerly she served as the director of the Gandhi Memorial Center, and currently is president of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Foundation, Inc.

In 1995 she received the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for promoting Gandhian values outside India. This prestigious award was presented to her by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1980 she received an award as Ambassador of Indian Philosophy and the Ideals of Mahatma Gandhi in the U.S.A. from the Association of Indians in America.

In 1978 she was consecrated as a swami by Swami Premananda, the founder of the Gandhi Memorial Foundation and the Self-Revelation Church of Absolute Monism which follows the spiritual tradition of Advaita Vedanta with a non-sectarian philosophy.

Her books include Mahatma Gandhi: An American Profile and Yours Faithfully, M. K. Gandhi.

On Saturday, July 21, there will be a bhajan recital, a lecture titled “Gandhi: A Man of Action and Prayer,” and buffet dinner. The event will be from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center, Ursa Major room. Tickets are $10 for Ahimsa Center members and $15 for nonmembers.

Anthony J. Parel, who will give the lecture, is a political philosopher among the world's leading scholars on Gandhi. For nearly four decades he was professor of political science at the University of Calgary, Canada. Born in Kerala, India, and educated there and the United States, he received his Ph. D. from Harvard University.

His major books include Gandhi's Philosophy and the Quest for Harmony; Gandhi, Freedom and Self-Rule; Gandhi: Hind Swaraj and Other Writings; The Machiavellian Cosmos; and Comparative Political Philosophy.

The bhajan recital will be by Sarika Ravindran and Prasad Upasani accompanied by Abhiman Kaushal on tabla and Hiren Majmudar on harmonium. This highly talented group of artists will present a selection of bhajans from Asharam Bhajanavali, a collection of devotional songs that formed part of the morning and evening prayers at Gandhi's ashrams.

On Thursday, July 26, Mark Juergensmeyer, a noted scholar and commentator, will lead a dialogue title “Nonviolence in a Time of Terror.” The event is free and will take place from 7:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center, Centaurus room.

Juergensmeyer is director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, professor of sociology, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the UC Santa Barbara. He writes on global culture, religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics.

He has published more than 200 articles and 20 books, including most recently A Handbook of Global Religions and Religion in Global Civil Society. A new edition of his handbook of conflict resolution, Gandhi's Way, includes a case study of nonviolent responses to terrorism. His widely-read Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence is based on interviews with religious activists around the world and was listed by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times as one of the best nonfiction books of the year. A previous book, The New Cold War: Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, was cited as a notable book of the year by the New York Times.

He is the 2003 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for contributions to the study of religion, and is the 2004 recipient of the Silver Award of Spain's Queen Sofia Center for the Study of Violence.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Juergensmeyer has been a frequent commentator in the news media, including CNN, NBC, CBS, BBC, NPR, Fox News, ABC's Politically Incorrect, and CNBC's Dennis Miller Show.

Preregistration is required for these events. For further details call (909) 869-3868 or visit https://www.cpp.edu/~ahimsacenter/home.html.