The four speakers, Vyomesh Joshi, CEO, 3D Systems; Vandana Tilak, CEO & Director, Akshaya Patra USA; Dr. Raj Vedam, scholar in Indian history and Benny Tillman, President, Vedic Friends Association, narrated their pioneering efforts and accomplishments, based on the ancient Hindu philosophy and how it paved the way for their fruitful journey.
Vyomesh Joshi, one of the biggest names in the printing industry and an influential Indian American, presently helms 3D systems, a leading manufacturing solutions company, as President and CEO.
Interweaving references from the Bhagavad Gita, Vyomesh spoke on “Authentic Leadership” and how Hindu scriptures guided him in leading global companies as well as dealing with triumphs and setbacks.
Citing a Gallup poll, he noted that followers look for four attributes in a leader, namely – Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope.
Trust, he said, comes from Trustworthiness which in turn comes from competence and character. Humility is equally important and there’s no room for ego. Stability is the third attribute in an authentic leader.
Referring to the Second Chapter in the Gita, Verse 54, Arjuna asks for help in understanding “Sthitaprajna” or a stable intellect to control the senses, mind and desires. Stability is about the present but what is needed for the future is Hope – the fourth attribute of an authentic leader: Arjuna did not want to fight but Bhagwan Krishna explains that only the body perishes, the atma or the soul never dies. Every leader must offer hope in difficult times.
Vandana Tilak, CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, called “children who have to go hungry an injustice.”
In her keynote address on “Seva – the First and Last Frontier,” she dwelt on her philosophy of looking beyond
Oneself and her service through a leading non-profit organization – Akshaya Patra. Akshaya Patra serves 1.8 million vegetarian meals in 19,500 government schools in India in 15 states every single day. It has also served 8.2 million meals to date to stranded migrant workers since the lockdown on March 26.
Seva, for Vandana, is an unconditional exchange of love, thoughts, words and action. Whether it is a person, animal or this planet – each one is a living breathing organism and they all “deserve the respect and dignity of seva.” We are just mechanisms and the universe conspires to do good through us, the “divinity in each of us is fulfilling the destiny of those we meet,” according to Vandana Tilak.
Continuing in the same vein, she noted that the Universe ensures that 1.8 million children are fed every day through Akshaya Patra. This one single thought connects her to what she does.
This is an opportunity for us, she said, not the beneficiaries. More importantly, sevadoesn’t tolerate an ego. The minute you put yourself on a pedestal, the Universe will find a way to bring you down to earth, she said.
A student of Ayurveda, she said one of the first things that is taught is the nature of hunger.
“When we are hungry, we eat healthy food and exercise. This is Prakriti or the natural flow. When we are not hungry and overeat, it’svikrutti. But when you keep a little bit aside knowing that someone else needs it and both of you are happy and fed, that is sanskriti.”