Launch of Encyclopedia of Hinduism – International Edition
Sunday evening the 25th August and Monday morning the 26th August marked a historic moment in the spiritual and cultural history of India: the official launch of the international edition of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism. The launch ceremony was organized and hosted by the University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA. A project of India Heritage Research Foundation, founded, guided, inspired and led by one of India’s most revered spiritual leaders, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, the Encyclopedia of Hinduism is a colossal product of more than 1000 esteemed scholars from around the world, totaling 11-volumes and approximately 7000 entries.
The Encyclopedia has been nearly twenty-five years in the making and it is the first time in history that the depth and breadth of India’s great spiritual culture is made available in authentic, academic and scholastic form. It is truly a compendium of thousands of years of history, science, art, architecture, polity, religion, philosophy and culture. Further, the Encyclopedia is not limited to Hinduism as a religion, but rather provides all inclusive treatment of India’s spiritual culture (including coverage of Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism traditions in India).
The official, launch of the international edition, published by Mandala Earth Publications, an esteemed published of California, USA, was on the 25th/26th August at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. It was organized, hosted and sponsored by the University and presided over by Dr. Harris Pastides, the President of the University. The Encyclopedia project was headquartered at the University of South Carolina for many years during its compilation and editorial stages, and it is a beautiful and fitting full-circle for the University to be the ones to host the official launch.
The launch was graced by the presence of:
• H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Founder/Chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation
• Hon. Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina
• Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina
• Shri Anna Hazare, renowned social leader from India
• Hon. Joe Wilson, Congressman for South Carolina
• Hon. Ajit Kumar, Consul General to India
• Dr. Meera Narasimhan, Vice Dean, School of Medicine, USC, organizer of the event
• Dr. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Managing Editor of the Encyclopedia
• Many esteemed scholars of the Encyclopedia and dignitaries
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji said: “The wisdom, truths, teachings and insights of Indian and Hindu culture are not limited to or applicable to only Hindus or Indians. Rather they belong to the world and can deeply benefit the world. It is, therefore, our aim that the richness of this ancient yet timeless culture and heritage should be made available to the entire world, in a way that is authentic, academic, comprehensive and illuminating.”
Dr. Harris Pastides said: “It is a deep honor to be participating in the American release of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism. This is a remarkable work of scholarship and research. I hope that many in academia and in everyday life will turn to it as a resource to better understand the characters, the tenets, and the impact that Hinduism has had, and is having, in the world.”
Shri Anna Hazare said: “I am so happy to be here this evening. Pujya Swami Chidanandji is carrying our Indian culture to the entire world. This is a historic event here tonight. Spreading the teachings of our great tradition is a wonderful task Pujya Swami Chidanandji has undertaken and completed successfully.”
Pujya Swamiji presented the first official set to the Governor of the State of South Carolina, for the State’s Library. Hon’ble Nikki Haley, the Governor said: “It is so beautiful, and such a great gift, this Encyclopedia of Hinduism. I am so honored to receive these beautiful 11 volumes on behalf of the State. I am so glad to be here tonight at this historic event.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said: “This is a great moment in history. The depth and breadth of the world’s oldest living culture, civilization, philosophy and theology has finally been encapsulated in encyclopedic form. To have the international edition launched by the University of South Carolina in USA demonstrates the universal applicability and universal appeal of the Hindu tradition. The launch is a great meeting of East and West. With Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Shri Anna Hazareji here from India joining hands with the President of the University, Dr. Harris Pastides and the state congressman Joe Wilson, shows that the Hindu and Indian culture truly have no boundaries and no borders.”
Congressman Joe Wilson and the Consul General Ajit Kumar were also full of praise for the Encyclopedia and the great accomplishment that Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji has achieved in conceiving of this project and then bringing it to fruition.
The Encyclopedia was previewed and blessed at a huge ceremony in India by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and hundreds of India’s most revered spiritual, social and national leaders.
The Encyclopedia was conceived, inspired and blessed by one of India’s most beloved and revered spiritual leaders, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji (the founder of the Hindu-Jain Temple in Pittsburgh, and an inspiration behind innumerable Hindu/Jain temples throughout America and the world). The Encyclopedia has been compiled and completed by India Heritage Research Foundation of which Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is the Founder/Chairman.
Pujya Swamiji is also the president and spiritual head of one of India’s largest spiritual institutions, Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. He is also the founder of the Ganga Action Parivar, a world-wide network of people committed to serving, preserving and protecting the sacred and life-giving Ganges river.