Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji is the founder and chairman of the India Heritage Research Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to humanitarian and cultural projects.
Founded in 1987, IHRF is committed to preserving the timeless wisdom and ageless grandeur of Indian culture. By weaving together ancient tradition, cultural history, a wide range of nondiscriminatory charitable services, and inspiring youth programs, IHRF has created a tapestry of true, universal beauty.The best way to honor God in our lives is through serving humanity.
IHRF is dedicated to youth, education, spirituality, culture, interfaith harmony, health care and ecology. To this end, it sponsors medical care programs, schools, gurukuls/orphanages, training centers, large-scale spiritual and cultural events, tree-plantation and clean-up programs, conferences geared toward interfaith harmony, summer camps, and international youth awareness programs.
Following are examples of only a few of the numerous ways that IHRF’s arms embrace humanity:
The Encyclopedia of Hinduism is a significant landmark, encompassing the entire spectrum of the land called Bharat.
These children need not only to be fed and sheltered. Rather, they also need to be educated and trained so they can become productive members of society. They need to be inculcated with values, ethics and spirituality which will make them torchbearers of Indian culture.
Our three Gurukuls/Orphanages serve as places where nearly 500 children are housed as well as educated, cultured and filled with crucial values such as non-violence, truth, and seva. Their days are filled with academic and computer studies, yoga, meditation, Vedic chanting, reading of scriptures, seva and special programs, such as the performance of dramas based on Indian spiritual history, designed to instill in them essential sanskaras.
Renamed rishikumars, the children travel on yatra to the Himalayas and perform yagna and prayers every night on the banks of Mother Ganga.
Looks of hopelessness have become looks of optimism and hope. Lightless eyes have become bright, shining eyes. Feelings of destitution and despair have become feelings of pride, faith and enthusiasm.
Prior to this project, there were no indoor lodging facilities nor medical facilities for hundreds of kilometers. People frequently suffered from basic, treatable ailments due to lack of medical attention. Therefore, after undertaking a yatra to the sacred land in 1998, Pujya Swamiji took a vow that – by the grace of God – He would do something for the local people (who don’t even have running water) and for all the pilgrims who travel there.
The ashram (tourist rest house) and clinic on the banks of Lake Mansarovar were officially inaugurated in July 2003. We have also built two halls there where satsang, meditation and many other divine activities can take place.
Additionally, we have built an ashram in Paryang, Tibet, on the way to Mansarovar, the place where every yatri stays one day prior to reaching Mansarovar. This ashram was inaugurated in June 2006.
A third ashram has been built in Dirapuk, on the sacred Mt. Kailash Parikrama route, at the unprecedented altitude of 17,000 feet, and was inaugurated in September 2009. Dirapuk is the place where all pilgrims spend the first night of the two-night, fifty-two kilometer, treacherous parikrama. At this location, the darshan of Mt. Kailash is the clearest, closest, and most spectacular.
Additionally, we have pledged our support and assistance to the local villagers of Mansarovar.
The project is truly the grace of God and is a divine gift to this holy land, to all Tibetans who live there, and to all the pious pilgrims who cross oceans and continents in order to have a glimpse of the abode of Lord Shiva.
The following are components of the rural development program:
- Water facilities – Although the town lies on the banks of the Ganga River, most people had no running water or water for their farms. We dug a boring well and have brought running water to this village.
- Tree plantation program
- Construction of a proper road in the village
- Organic Gardening program – We have started a special organic farming program as well. We have brought in trained organic farmers and scientists to teach the local farmers alternative, chemical-free methods of farming. Further, we will have a special “buy back” program with them where we will buy back from them all of their crops. In addition, the ashram at Veerpur has its own organic farm.
- Sewage Control and Sanitation programs – We have laid sewage lines in the village and constructed toilets for the villagers so that no pollution goes into Ganga.
- Spirituality and Culture – We have started an evening devotional ceremony there on the banks of the Ganges, called Aarti. It is a way for the villagers to come together in a spirit of peace, culture & piety.
- Gurukul/orphanage – The second of the three gurukuls/orphanages is here in Veerpur, and we have plans to open an orphanage for girls here as well.