Photos by Bhishmadeva Dasa.
In preparing for the Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies’ Consciousness in Science 2019 conference opening ceremony at the University of Florida’s Harn Museum on Friday 18th January, so much interest arose that it was necessary for the organisers to curtail advertising efforts. The 225 capacity auditorium would not suffice. Spilling out into an overflow room that was streaming the event live, a total of 400 consciousness and science enthusiasts, scholars and students enjoyed an inauguration by Lauren Poe the Mayor of Gainesville, followed by keynote talks from eminent scientists, Professor Stuart Hameroff and Brenda Dunne.
The Mayor of Gainesville Lauren Poe opens the conference.
After a remarkable start to the event, the conference retreated to the tranquil and historic Thomas Centre for two days of lively talks and breakout discussion groups. 20+ countries were represented from six continents, with some travelling from as far away as Australia, India and Russia. The atmosphere was electric, with a broad array of highly esteemed guests, including 50 devotee scholars holding a PhD or MSc qualification.
Prof. Stuart Hameroff (left) and the conference’s main orgainzer Brahmatirtha Das.
The primary objective of this conference was to gather together as many devotee scientists as possible from around the world, and to provide them with a platform to share their research ideas, as well as to connect with fellow devotee scholars. In a letter to Rupanuga dasa on February 14 1976, Srila Prabhupada stated that, “…we require many PhDs for our Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Study (BIHS).“
Professor Brenda Dunne and Akhandadhi Das.
The the next stage for the BIHS will be to create a platform through which devotee scholars may associate with one another in order to produce devotional offerings in the form of science, wherever they may be in the world.
Conference attendees from all over the world gathered at the Thomas Center.
The range of specialties presented by the devotee scholars at the conference was encouraging, providing aspiring Vaishnavas with a renewed enthusiasm to go deeper in connecting with sastra and science. Scientists, philosophers of science and Vedic scholars brought to the participants’ attention topics ranging from the gunas and consciousness research, to quantum physics and metallurgy, all the way to DNA, medicine, psychiatry and astrophysics. Tears, laughter and synergy abounded as they heard touching contributions from those devotees who were in close relationship with the late bedrocks of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, and Sadaputa dasa.
On the side, a filmmaking team records interviews with the key speakers. Hridayananda Goswami (left) is being interviewed by Yogeshvara Das.
One senior professor of religion said of the conference; “I only planned on coming for half an hour, but I was so mesmerised that I ended up staying for the whole program!” A leading MD endocrinologist noted, “I have never been to a more fascinating conference.”
The conference’s great success was mainly due to the visionary leadership of the Director of the BIHS – Brahmatirtha das – along with Akhnadadhi Das, the hard-working BIHS team, as well as the Gainesville & Alachua ISKCON centers and communities.
Hard-working volunteers provide delicious Krishna Lunch prasadam to the conference attendees.
However, this only the beginning of this chapter of the BIHS. Anyone who is interested in viewing the conference proceedings could visit https://www.consci19.org/, which will be continously updated with news, and opportunities to connect and get involved.