Indian American entrepreneur Ramesh Bhutada donates $1M to Hindu University of America

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Ramesh Bhutada, an Indian American businessman, has donated $1 million to the Hindu University of America (HUA) in Florida. The university is the only institution in the US that offers education based on Hindu philosophy.

HUA in association with Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) hosted a Friends of HUA Gala evening on March 26, 2023, at VPSS Haveli, Houston. The gala, which was attended by about 500 community members, honored Kiran and Ramesh Bhutada and their family for their generous gift of $1 million to HUA.

Bhutada, CEO of Star Pipe Products, is a successful Houston-based businessman and philanthropist. He said that he made the donation so that the youth can gain knowledge and understanding of Hinduism much earlier in life, enabling them to live happy and productive lives. Bhutada was felicitated by HUA at an event in Houston.

Since it was established in 1989 and authorized by the Florida State Government in 1993, this is the highest donation to be received by the HUA.

The gala opened with the auspicious lighting of the lamp followed by a scintillating music performance by HUA faculty Dr Kanniks Kannikeswaran. His ensemble of Hindu classical singers accompanied by western music instrumentalists set the tone for the evening. His performance received a standing ovation.

This was followed by a short video on HUA’s courses and programs, as well as the experiences of students and faculty. Chairman of the HUA Board and Padma Bhushan awardee Ved Nanda and HUA President Kalyan Viswanathan spoke about the rejuvenation of HUA, its current state, and its future roadmap. Houston-based faculty members Dr. Raj Vedam and Chandra Raghu also shared their thoughts.

The evening’s highlight was Ramesh Bhutada’s address where he shared why he chose to support HUA. He confessed that despite being born and raised in a traditional Hindu family being and a member of several prominent Hindu organizations and traditions, he “did not really understand the essence of Hindu Dharma.” It took him 60 years to begin understanding the true essence of Hindu Dharma “which teaches us how to live in harmony within ourselves, with our family, friends, colleagues, and with the entire world. Other universities may impart knowledge for students to earn a livelihood. Only an institution like HUA can impart Hindu knowledge that teaches a student how to live their life.”

Bhutada said that he did not want the next generation of Hindus to take as long as he did to understand the essence and urged the attendees to support HUA so that the youth can gain knowledge and understanding of Hinduism much earlier in life, enabling them to live happy, productive lives for themselves and for the benefit of the entire world.

Drawing on his personal experiences as well as narratives from the Hindu American community, Bhutada noted that the traditional Hindu upbringing and teachings about Hinduism within the family and home environment alone are not sufficient. Knowledge, he underlined, imparted by established educational institutions in the modern academic setting is critical to ensure the younger generations understand and apply Hinduism in their lives.

HUA president Kalyan Viswanathan also called on all the attendees to “come together to build a Hindu university that lasts a 1000 years just like the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur which has stood strong for over 1000 years, or like the Nalanda University that was a beacon to the world for 1700 years before it was destroyed.” He further shared that “over the next five years, HUA aspired to become self-sustaining, and establish itself as a shared platform for all Hindu traditions and organizations to offer their teachings.”

Proclaiming that the institution belongs to the entire Hindu community, HUA chairman Ved Nanda stated that HUA “will seek to become an authoritative voice in the academic domain for all matters pertaining to Hindu Dharma, not only in the United States but also globally.” He invited members of all Hindu-American organizations, community leaders, and members to support HUA’s efforts in becoming a leading hub for Hindu knowledge and learning.

Houston-based Physicist and Yoga Instructor Robert Boustany also spoke at the event. He stated that the “awareness dinner of HUA highlighted the necessity of all our seva in developing an educational system true to the deepest history of India in order to preserve that wisdom and value for our children and grandchildren”.

Emcee Ahimsa Yukta, a freshman at the University of Texas, Dallas, said that HUA’s motto – “That is knowledge which liberates”, was so inspiring that he was motivated to take a course at the university.

 

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