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Country: United States Language: English, Sanskrit
Organizations: Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam
Expertise: Education, Counselling Focus area: Religious Religious affiliation: Hinduism

Teacher, Organiser, Student, Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam

Janani Chaitanya, whose spiritual name is Jananisri, has studied Vedanta since 2007. She has completed a three and a half year intensive Vedanta and Sanskrit course in India with Pujya Swamiji Dayananda, the foremost scholar of Sanskrit and Vedanta alive today. Pujya Swamiji blessed her with the name Jananisri, meaning Divine Mother, at the end of her study in India. Jananisri teaches beginning Sanskrit, Vedanta and Vedic chanting. She also assists her teacher, Swamini Svatmavidyanandaji, editing and publishing teachings of Vedanta. Through her study of Vedanta, Jananisri has embraced the Hindu way of life. She was educated at a convent school and, until her emigration to the U.S. in 1983, regularly attended Church of England services at her local village church. This background gives her a unique insight into interreligious dialogue, born of resolving conflicting issues within oneself. She has used this ability to engage in non-confrontational discussions with those from differing religious backgrounds. In her professional capacity, Jananisri worked at a cognitive behavioral research center, where federally-funded behavioural scientists focused on developing interventions to help families in crisis. Following graduation from law school, she worked as a mediator in a court-mandated program for parents in transition, helping them develop appropriate parenting plans. Currently she works as an advocate for people who have been impacted by crimes committed by youth. She lives her life simply, following her Guru’s words: “one must grow from being a consumer, to being a contributor.”

Fellows Project: Two Women, Two Religions, Two Cultures: A Dialogue

During their participation in the KAICIID International Fellows Programme 2015, Nourah Alhasawi and Janani Chaitanya, two women from diverse religious backgrounds, committed to working together as a team in a project to produce a book – a book about dialogue. Their book is an attempt to capture their personal experiences and show the innate

challenges of dialogue across cultures and religions and to promote the use of the methodologies of interreligious dialogue. This book was a unique way to bring the two practitioners together to address and evaluate their own stereotypes. This project will produce learning material that will serve student trainers and facilitators of dialogue who wish to obtain a deeper understanding of the values and power of dialogue, as a resource and tool of conflict reconciliation. “We have incorporated the valuable interreligious dialogue training that we have received from our professors at KAICIID. Given their own expertise in the field of interreligious dialogue and working within different cultures, we hope to understand and further highlight how various difficulties can be approached and successfully resolved.”

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