Jain, Hindu and Gandhi symposium explores practice of inner peace in a turbulent world

Silhouette illustration of Gandhi, dressed in a white robe with a walking stick on an orange background. Artwork by Albert Haro.

The M.K. Gandhi Center: Inner Peace and Sarvodaya, along with the Jain and Hindu Dharma initiative, present “HighWay to Healing: Understanding the Ocean of Oneness.” The symposium featuring keynote speaker Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace.org, will take place on Oct. 3 and 4 in the University Business Center in coordination with additional events on the Fresno State campus.

The symposium explores practical pathways to inner and outer peace and harmony through the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi and Jain and Hindu dharma traditions. Presenters examine the interconnection of all living beings and how contemplative practices such as yoga, meditation, shared creativity and acts of service have the power to cultivate joy, harmony and good health in turbulent times.

Mehta will share stories of yesterday’s social change giants, today’s everyday heroes and tomorrow’s leaders to rekindle our capacity to respond to suffering with acts of compassion. He will also hold a workshop on how small acts of kindness enable a deeper connection to life around us.

“This two-day symposium focuses on providing tools for finding joy in these turbulent times and building trusting friendships,” said Dr. Veena Howard, director of the Gandhi Center and endowed chair of Jain and Hindu Dharma. “It is also an opportunity for our students to engage with prominent scholars from Jain and Hindu philosophical and religious traditions.” 

Following the symposium, the community is invited to the Peace Garden to commemorate Gandhi’s birthday in a sunset event organized by Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus. The calming sounds of classical Indian music will fill the Music Building as master sitarists and a tabla maestro perform their craft.

“The concert will offer students and the community an opportunity to learn about this rich artistic and cultural tradition that goes back more than 3,000 years,” said Professor Joan Sharma. “I’m also excited that the artists will hold a workshop for Fresno State students before that concert, giving them a unique experience to learn a diverse form of music not easily found in this part of the world.”

All the events are free for the public. 

Nipun Mehta sits on the ground with crossed legs and folded hands in a forest near smooth river rocks.
Nipun Mehta

Symposium Schedule

Monday, Oct. 3 

Tuesday, Oct. 4

The “M.K. Gandhi Center: Inner Peace and Sarvodaya” at Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, was established and is supported by the Ravi and Naina Patel Foundation. The Gandhi Center advances the comprehension and hands-on learning of Gandhi’s Sarvodaya and inner peace philosophies centered on the holistic development of each individual and creating a just, peaceful and nonviolent community. 

The symposium is sponsored by the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, the JP and Renu Sethi Foundation, Alegría Mental Health Task Force, and the Associated Students, Inc. It is partnered with the College of Arts and Humanities, the Philosophy Department, and the Asian American Studies Program.

College of Arts and Humanities Communications Specialist Benjamin Kirk contributed to this story.

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