How does HSC impact our youth and provide them space for a positive and confident Hindu identity? Rutgers HSC co-president Maithreyi Ravula shares her thoughts below on how she was inspired to join HSC in her sophomore year and become an active part of the organization.
When explaining the concept of God, Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami elucidates this: “When therefore we, the individual souls, are endowed with little knowledge, limited capacity, and are unhappy, what benefit can we possibly derive from knowing that there is an Entity called God who is omniscient and omnipotent, infinite and blissful?” After artfully proving the relationship between God and living beings, he concludes that “as a God who is seated somewhere at an approachable distance has no intimate relationship with us but is enjoying unlimited bliss can be of no practical use to us, it is certainly wiser to conceive of Him as being ever with us wherever we may be, ever loving us and ever prepared to help us.”
As with all spiritual truths, this is reflected faintly in worldly life; in particular, the idea of inspiration. Human inspiration is a microcosm of the manner in which one connects to God. Just as it is difficult to feel inspired or encouraged by an entity that is distant and disconnected, people find it difficult or impossible to gain inspiration from those who they share no similarities with. This phenomenon is the reason why HSC is a shining wellspring of inspiration to Hindus, and people of all faiths, across America. At any HSC event, one is bound to meet someone with deeply shared passions, who is willing not only to maintain a lovely friendship, but also prepared to help one in many areas of one’s life. This has been my personal experience since my first HSC event, a Drishti Conference at the University of Maryland.
Although I had only met Nikunj ji, the chairman of HSC once before, he offered to drive a few students, including myself, to the conference (which was no small feat, since we were starting from New Jersey). In addition to being inspirational through his charity, he was quick to engage us in deeply involved conversations about the mystical and beautiful experiences he had while travelling to different Mathas in India. In fact, I quickly found out in the conference itself that all the board members of HSC were inspirational through their high degree of relatability and what they choose to do with their influence. Parth ji, the current president of HSC, uses his platform to teach, young Hindus how to logically dissect and stand up against media bias towards Hindus. Sohini ji, the treasurer of HSC, unites a confused and questioning youth with her powerful experiences with being Hindu, and the charity work that she regularly advocates. It is no surprise that a high inspirational board, therefore, would attract highly inspirational guest speakers and members.
In my first ever HSC event itself, I met youth of different backgrounds, describing their love of the inclusivity and freedom Hinduism offers. Magically, I also met and spoke with mentors who directly inspired me – for example, an ex-chemistry professor from my university, which, being a chemistry student, was thrilling. Moreover, I met fellow student speakers, who broadened my answer to the question, “What does it mean to be Hindu in America?” and most importantly, what it means to be a true Hindu. The conversations I had were inspirational to say the least, but more accurately described as life-changing. After one day with HSC, I walked out with faith in God, strong friendships, a changed perspective on how to be conscious of my thoughts, words, and actions, and a soulmate, although I didn’t realize it for a few weeks afterward.
It is a common saying that a group is only as strong as their weakest link. This applies to HSC beautifully – since everyone derives their inspirational strength from diversity, there is no weak link, and HSC continues to be a stronghold of Hindu values, and a beacon of inspiration for youth across America.
It is my privilege to be a part of such a group.