HAF Congratulates Winners of NextGen Essay Contest on Green Living

Washington, D.C. (October 27, 2014) - "Every human being is born into debt that we spend the rest of our lives repaying. Hinduism divides this debt, this pancha-maha-yagna, into a number of categories: debt to God, to ancestors and teachers, to guests, to mankind, and to nature," wrote Aanandh Chandrasekar, a contestant in the Hindu American Foundation's sixth annual NextGen Essay Contest. "We are indebted to nature for all the food, water, and resources it has provided us, and often, we don't do enough to give back to nature, to reduce our overwhelming dependence upon it."
Chandrasekar, along with dozens of young writers from across the nation responded to how recent trends of "Green Living" coupled with Hindu teachings inspired them to practice a more environmentally conscious life. The essay prompt, "How do Hindu traditions shape the way you live in relation to the environment? How can Hindu teachings guide activists to find solutions to broader green living issues such as GMOs, industrial agriculture, or animal farming?" garnered entries in two categories -- ages 18-22 and 23-27 years. Essays were judged on creativity, style, and focus by a five person panel consisting of HAF Executive Council members, staff, and volunteers. First and second prize winners were selected in each age group and were awarded a prized gift check from HAF.
Chandrasekhar, a first year chemical engineering student at the University of Texas - Austin, was awarded the first prize in the age 18-22 age group.
"Before living in the rainforest, I equated Ahimsa, non-violence, with being a vegetarian, and opposing warfare of any kind. However, I realized that this view was simplistic." expressed Nila Bala. "So many of our daily actions - using electricity, nonrenewable goods, and our transportation mechanisms were hurting Earth at a speed so rapid that our Earth could not recover."
Bala, 27, a resident of Baltimore, MD, was awarded the first prize in the 23-27 age category. An assistant public defender in Baltimore city, Bala expressed that her faith drives her work and is at the core of why she works for social justice and the needs of indigent people in her community.
Parth Parihar, 21, is a senior at Princeton University, received the second prize in the 18-22 age category. He thoughtfully reflected on his dharma to live responsibly, "...I constantly strive to remember my obligation for acting rather than the inconveniences it poses. In my view, engaging in real protest (satyagraha) is the most eloquent way in which I can contribute to the fulfillment of my dharma to do more for the environment, besides doing so much within the confines of my own personal life in small ways, such as adopting vegetarianism, cutting back on dairy consumption, striving to purchase organic and "recycled" clothing, among others. I must do this."
Manan Sampat, 27, a medical student at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the second prize winner of the 23-27 age category, wrote, "As each ice fracture widens, our fractured worldview and ingratitude for nature increasingly haunt us. But if we adopt and implement Vedic teachings, then we will preserve both Mother Geeta and Mother Earth."
Please click on the name of the winner to read the respective essay in its entirety.