"WANAM: AFRICA AND INDIA, A SPIRITUAL DIALOGUE"
By Swami Veda Bharati
Book Released in New Delhi, India, 22nd May 2009.
While the spiritual traditions of civilizations like those of India and China are well known, very few have gained access to equally rich spiritual traditions of the vast and ancient continent of Africa.
In recent decades a number of authors have arisen out of the wisdom traditions of Africa who have learnt to speak in western languages and have published highly readable, inspiring as well as instructive books on these traditions.
However, no one had previously compared the traditions of Africa and India. In the words of a past vice-chancellor of the prestigious Jamiya Millia Islamia University of Delhi: Swami Veda’s is a pioneering work.
It arose out of the efforts of Idriss Raua Ouedraogo, whom Swami Veda introduces as ‘my spiritual son’. He is at present posted as Charge d’Affaires of his country Burkina Faso, in New Delhi. Idriss has taught hundreds of yoga teachers back home. These teachers are now teaching yoga in different parts of Africa from Algeria to Tanzania to Congo. (Idriss’s great grandfather was akibg until the French colonisation).
The present book arose out of a conference organised by Idriss in 2001 in Ouadougou, his country’s capital; it was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of that country. The title of the conference was Bringing African and Indian Spirituality Together.
That occasion gave Swami Veda the opportunity to visit Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, the last three in West Africa. The book narrates Swami Veda’s experiences of that tour. It is an eye opener for the seekers of spirituality.
The book was finally released in New Delhi on 22nd May 2009. The function was held at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Egypt on invitation of the Embassy of Burkina Faso. Fifteen ambassadors were present and the book was released by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps of Delhi who is the Ambassador of Senegal. (Some readers of this news may remember that the first president of Senegal after independence, Dr. Senghor, was a scholar of Tamil --- one of the four major classical languages of India --- and researched the connections between Tamil and the languages of Senegal.)
The Vice-President of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations was also a guest of honour.
The book has also generated considerable interest in the academic and spiritual communities of the Caribbean, especially in Trinidad, with the efforts of our initiate there, Prof. Winthrop Harewood of the University of the West Indies. It is already being introduced as a University level reading in UWI from next semester. The reason for this interest is also based on the fact that in countries like Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad very sizable Indo-Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean communities co-exist and have often had, to put it mildly, considerable misunderstanding about each other. The book will help build bridges between the two communities at academic and leadership levels. The book release in Trinidad is planned for 12th September 2009. It is going to be a well attended inter-community affair.
The book is published from AHYMSIN Publishers at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh. The book is now available along with two DVDs (One is an interview of Swami Veda by Idriss on his connections in Africa, about the book, and about African and Indian spiritual traditions. The second one is the recordings of the function.)