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Celebrating Indian Religions with new hindu research institute

4 July 2022

Cardiff professor attends international inauguration of new UK centre focused on the scriptures of Hinduism in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit

BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute for UK & Europe was inaugurated on 29 May at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London – popularly known as Neasden Temple.

Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha – best known as BAPS - is a socio-spiritual Hindu organization with its roots in the Vedas.

Guests from the world of academia, included Mahamahopadhyay Bhadreshdas Swami from India and Professor James Hegarty from Cardiff University.

The inauguration marks the beginning of a programme of community research projects, with direction from the distinguished Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions.

Opening with a performance of devotional singing by children of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha from around the UK, the inauguration assembly continued with children singing Vedic peace prayers and reciting Sanskrit verses.

Witnessed by thousands online and in-person, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj inaugurated the Institute by lighting a lamp, symbolising the spreading of the light of knowledge throughout the world via video link from India, with guests worldwide following suit.

The assembly was part of the celebrations marking the birth centenary of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Addressing the assembly, Mahant Swami Maharaj said

“Yogiji Maharaj had envisioned such an institute and was passionate about youths learning and discoursing in Sanskrit. The Research Institute has fulfilled this vision. May students excel in their studies and work together to serve society, expanding the circle of unity across the world.”

In the institute’s first lecture noted scholar and author Mahamahopadhyay Bhadreshdas Swami reinforced messages of global harmony, public service and academic excellence.

Joining the proceedings, Professor Hegarty cited a Sanskrit verse from the Satsang Diksha, praying for unity, friendship, compassion, tolerance and love to flourish among all people of the world.

Addressing the assembly, he added:

“The new research centre will soon flourish here in the UK and Europe – and globally – under the sure and skilled guidance of the swamis assembled here today. Research and teaching based on research, if they are themselves based on true and compassionate mastery, can make a difference in the world. The new research institute we inaugurate today will show that.”

The new UK-based institute has its roots in the growing interest from younger and senior members of the community to learn Sanskrit and gain a deeper understanding of the scriptures of their faith.

Through its rigorous teaching of Sanskrit, classical Vedic literature and Hindu beliefs, values and practices in traditional Gurukul style, the institute aims to foster social harmony, interfaith dialogue, public engagement and academic discourse alongside opportunities for the highest level of value-based education, innovative research and creative expression.

Professor James Hegarty is Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions and Head of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University. His major research projects include History of Genealogy, Genealogy of History: Family and the Narrative Construction of the Significant Past in Early South Asia and The Story of Story in South Asia: Character and Genre across Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Narrative Traditions.

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