BERKELEY, CA - Dr. Ajay and Mira Shingal, a Bay area couple, have pledged $4.6 million to set up the Mira and Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) here. This huge endowment fund , will establish the Hindu Studies programs in the new Center for Dharma Studies,
The Shingals are residents of San Jose and are both successful entrepreneurs. Dr. Ajay Shingal, has been a Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a career spanning several brand name technology companies in the Bay Area, and is currently in the hospitality industry. He is on the DCF Board of Trustees. Explaining this act of philanthropy he said “I have two kids, they don’t go to the temple without us. I truly believe if we want these temples to survive, our kids have to be very grounded in their religion through education. To me the biggest contribution one can make is the gift of education; I truly believe that the institution we are forming at GTU will be transformative in its impact”.
Mira Shingal an entrepreneur in the fashion and financial services industries, is now also a partner in the hospitality industry with her husband, said “From childhood I have studied Hinduism; have read scriptures; have been immersed in it and I appreciate the beauty of this wonderful world of thought and philosophy. In the Hindu community we have not understood the importance of academically studying the faith that we belong to, and producing scholars who are also practitioners who understand the depth and meaning of this great and wonderful legacy that we have. We have not understood the need for accredited scholars that can speak about Hinduism with authority in this country”.
Welcoming the addition of the Center for Dharma studies to the consortium of schools and centers, GTU President Dr. Riess Potterveld said,“ This Gift from Mira and Ajay Shingal enables the Graduate Theological Union to expand the representation of the world’s great religious traditions at this consortium and create a robust and singular place for scholars, students, and the public to engage one another to build deep mutual understanding and promote the common good.” He added that the GTU was unique, in that most of the faculty are scholars and practitioners. I see Dharma studies adding a lot to what we currently have, for one thing, the sacred texts, the Vedic literature, the Upanishads. All the different philosophical materials are quite unique; their view of the human self is different, their view of the nature of the divine and sacred is quite different. As you think globally, and culturally, it is clear, here is a massive India with its ancient traditions, how could you study religion and not have them at the table, we were fortunate to find external partners in Dharma Civilization Foundation,”. he added “
Applauding this historic gift, Shiva Bajpai, a renowned historian and DCF President, observed , “Our philosophy is the concord, rather than the clash, of civilizations. The GTU is a perfect place for promoting this.We invite the Indo-American community to get engaged with this historic vision and contribute towards its fulfillment”.
Kalyan Viswanathan, Executive Vice President, DCF, who had been spear-heading this initiative , said it was his hope that this gift was a beginning and many more members of the wealthy Indian-American community would follow and make the Center for Dharma studies at GTU a great place for the creation of a community of scholar-practitioners, from many Dharma traditions.