The 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda is being celebrated all over the world during 2013-14. Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre (Auckland) in association with The University of Auckland organized a workshop on “Women’s Role in Human Society” on 1st September 2013, in order to commemorate this important event. Distinguished scholars of the Ramakrishna Order from Germany, USA and India participated in this workshop. Besides them, eminent speakers from The University of Auckland and Massey University participated in the program.

The program started at 10:30 am and ended at 4:30 pm. The president of Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, Auckland, Mr. Harish Kumar Sundarji, welcomed the gathering. Member of Parliament Mr. Kanwaljit Sing Bakshi also addressed the gathering.

Swami Baneshananda, Head of the Vedanta - Gessellschatt, Germany, talked on “Women’s Role in the Modern Society: an analysis based on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.” He brought out social issues regarding women and how they could be reduced or eliminated following the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Tyagananda, Head of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Boston, USA and the Hindu chaplain at MIT and Harvard University, spoke on “Swami Vivekananda and Women: Mutual Influences.” He explained how the swami was influenced by women, namely his mother, Bhubaneshwari Devi, Sri Sarada Devi and his disciple, sister Nivedita. He also informed the audience about the influences he had on Mrs. Ole Bull, Mrs. Seviers and other women he encountered.

Swami Sarvapriyananda, Educationist and teacher at Ramakrishna Math and Mission in Belur, Kolkata, India, spoke about “Women’s role in modern society – a Vedantic Approach to Identity and the Philosophy of Feminism.” He has brought out different aspects of feminism with the help of stories told by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

Dr. Debasis Bandopadhyay of The University of Auckland presented a paper on “Violence against Women and Economic Wellbeing of a society”. He spoke on the reasons for violence against women and how to avoid it by empowering women in different cultures.

Professor Manying Ip of The University of Auckland presented a paper on “Taoism: the tenets of a Chinese Philosophy and some of its modern implications – Echoes in Vedanta Philosophy.”

Professor Srikanta Chatterjee of Massey University presented a paper on “Bengali Renaissance, Women’s Emancipation and Swami Vivekananda”. He informed the audience about Swami Vivekananda’s influence on the women of Bengal.

After each talk the audience put forth their questions to the speakers and the speakers answered them. There was also a panel discussion. Many important points were discussed based on the talks given by the speakers.
Professor Debesh Bhattacharyya, Vice President of the organization and main organiser of the workshop, proposed a vote of thanks.

The workshop was conducted by Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, Auckland, in conjunction with The University of Auckland. Started as a small group in late 1980s the organization has grown since then. At present, its activities are based at 27 Arawa Street, New Lynn, Auckland.