Karan Singh, a member of India’s Parliament and a world-renowned author, scholar, philanthropist and former ambassador to the United States, will receive the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award during a two-day conference on Vedānta and Vedantic philosophy at Loyola Marymount University this weekend (June 15-16).
He will accept the award and deliver the keynote address via video at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, June 15.
LMU Professor Christopher Key Chapple described Singh as deserving of the Bridgebuilder award for numerous reasons, singling out two – his work for the protection of animals and efforts to build bridges for inter-religious understanding.
“Dr. Singh is on the steering committee of Project Tiger, one of the world’s great ecological restoration success stories,” said Chapple, who teaches theology. “He also has been an active board member of the Temple of Enlightenment in New York City and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, first founded in 1893. These organizations have advanced the cause of world peace through interfaith dialogue.”
The conference on Vedānta focuses on a philosophy that has been a key force in every aspect of Indian thought and culture for nearly 3,000 years. In the 21st century it continues to influence leading movements that seek to expand the boundaries of human self-conception through interpersonal study, meditation, as well as trans-religious theologies.
Singh was born heir apparent in 1931 to the throne of Kashmir and Jammu. At 18, however, he was appointed regent of the new state following its accession to India in 1949. Singh was subsequently elected Kashmir and Jammu governor, serving until 1967.
He became a national Indian political leader when he was appointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1967. He served as ambassador to the United States during her administration.
In 1969, Singh converted his father’s fortune to a charitable trust named after his parents, the Maharaja Hari Singh and Maharini Tara Dev. Singh has had a lifelong interest in education and has served as chancellor of several leading Indian universities. The trust supports a museum and library with rare collections of art, paintings, photographs, books, art and other historical materials.
The two-day conference will explore the various dimensions of Vedānta, its relationship to later text-based philosophies that took its name, and other schools of Indian thought and practice, including Sāṃkhya-Yoga, Tantra and medieval Bhakti. Leading experts will speak about its influence in the West and its international and transcultural potentials.
The Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award, which comes with a $10,000 stipend, is given annually to honor an individual or organization dedicated to fostering understanding between cultures, peoples and disciplines. The award ceremony is a celebration of culture and diversity and is sponsored by the Navin and Pratima Doshi Professorship of Indic and Comparative Theology, which is held by Chapple. The endowed professorship and award were established in 2005-2006.
Previous distinguished recipients include: Vandana Shiva (eco-feminist and scholar of biodiversity and bioethics), Deepak Chopra (physician, philosopher, author), Zubin Mehta (world-renowned conductor), Thich Nhat Hanh (Zen master, peace advocate), Greg Mortenson (author, educator) and Huston Smith (religious scholar, author).