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a personal remembrance

Anand's far-ranging and key contributions to interfaith understanding might be suggested by the fact that he is the “Hindu” in the Donna Ziegenhorn play, The Hindu and the Cowboy. He was tireless in promoting not only the better understanding of his own faith by sharing it in many ways with the larger community, but by supporting efforts to bring faiths together in mutuality and trust. He wrote for The Kansas City Star and often advised me on my column through its weekly appearance for 18 years. An engineer by profession, he was a spiritual scholar, teacher and servant of the divine, a man of integrity and joy. 

Anand was the first Hindu member of the Kansas City Interfaith Council 1989 (last image); and he and Dipti offered me, along with so many others, great friendship and all kinds of help. So many memories! including bhumi puja ground-breaking at the site of what became the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center when he was president, to his being honored by CRES at the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Sunday Family Ritual Meal in 1999 (image 1) to his participation in the press conference September 11, 2001 (image 2), and the day of observance September 11, 2002 (image 3) , to his welcoming guests from here and abroad at the nation's first Interfaith Academies for professionals and students when the participants visited the Temple in 2007 (image 4) . . . and so many other public and private ways he enriched our lives. 

We honored him at this years interfaith Candlemas.

We are blessed in so many ways by knowing Anand, and those who never met him still benefit in ways they may never know from his time with us.

And may I mention a couple other, rather personal, things. 
     At one Thanksgving Ritual Meal, I complimented him on his tie. He happened to have another one just like it, which he gave to me; and it sorta became a tradition that we would wear those matching ties at this annual interfaith gathering; thus were we tied together. 
     When the Interfaith Academies visited the Hindu Temple, he presented me with a shawl. I have given away all my albs and robes and retain this shawl for when I am called for sacerdotal duties, and always think of him and his generous spirit. It is like a mantle with which he is blessing me.


The Rev David E Nelson, a past Council convener, knew  Anand from the Council's first meeting in 1989. “Anand embodied the vision of the Interfaith Council. He lived his faith and spirituality in his primary relationships, his vocation, and in his relationships with others. I always appreciated his wisdom and his warm hospitality.”


From the Kansas City Vedanta Society, uma wrote:
     “It is sad news that dear Anand Bhattacharyya passed away on Sunday morning, about 10 a.m.  He and Dipti had been staying with their son and family in St Louis since late Fall.
     “Anand often took part in programs at the Vedanta Society, particularly those honoring Swami Vivekananda.  He worked hard on his talks, often coming to the Society to borrow books on Vedanta in preparation for his talk.  He came humbly, I would say, since he himself was a Vedanta scholar.  Anand also helped the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, being one of its first members, representing the Hindu community. In recent years, he served on the Interfaith Council's Faith Advisory Board.  He and Dipti were devoted to interfaith spirit in Kansas City, and always welcomed others to events at the Hindu Temple and Interfaith gatherings. 
       “We shall miss Anand very much.”


From the Rev Kara Hawkins: Even as the embodied Self passes, in this body, through the stages of childhood, youth, and old age, so does It pass into another body. Calm souls are not bewildered by this. The Bhagavad Gita “O dear sweet Anand, your shining light comforts me. I shall not be bewildered and will remain calm through all earthly illusions, as I think of you and your many blessings to me, the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, and to all the interfaith community.  I look forward to your continued guidance.” With love and appreciation, Kara Hawkins


From the Rev Kelly Isola, who leads the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, we learned January 14 of the death of beloved Hindu leader Anand Bhattacharyya. Her message included the following:
    “Mr. Ananda Bhattacharyya had been active with the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, with Vern Barnet and many others, since it’s beginnings in 1989, and most recently serving as a Faith Advisor for the Council. His contribution to the interfaith work within the Hindu community, Kansas City and beyond will not be forgotten or lost. He indeed helped create a world that works for all.
    “We send our condolences, thoughts and prayers to his friends and family.  Rev. Kelly Isola”


Ananda Bhattacharyya

Ananda Bhattacharyya passed away due to pancreatic cancer on Sunday, January 14th about 10 a. m. He and his wife Dipti had been staying with their son and  family in St Louis since late Fall. 

Ananda ji was the First President of the  Hindu Temple and Cultural Center for five years from 1983 to 1988. During his  tenure he designed the entire electrical lines for the temple. Ananda ji was  instrumental in getting Ma Durga” murthi so that it appeals to the Bengali community. 

He was the President for IAKC in the year 1977. He has been involved in various activities of the community. His scholarly works include presentations on spiritual and religious aspects of Hinduism and  also a coiurnnist for Kansas City Star on religion and philosophy. He was a  member of Vedanta Society. Anand ji also heiped the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Councii being one of its first  members, representing the Hindu  community. In recent years, he served on the interfaith Council's Faith Advisory Board. He and his wife Dipti ji were devoted to interfaith spirit in Kansas City; and aiways welcomed others to events at the Hindu Temple and interfaith  gatherings. 

We shall miss Anand ji very much. 

For the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council's newsletter:
I came to cherish the radiant spirit I knew as Anand Bhattacharyya as soon as I met him, which must have been before the galaxies were formed because he seemed always to be both in the field of time and in the expanse of eternity. I felt this even when, as we were getting acquainted, he brought me to his office at Black and Veatch and told me of his work with the engineering firm.
     To be invited to join him and others for the the ground-breaking for the building of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center October 27, 1985, and to participate in bhumi puja then, was a demonstration of the universal embrace of his love. His explanations of Hindu stories and rituals, and welcoming to various celebrations, enlarged my spiritual vision.
     Indeed, at the 1987 Interfaith Thanksgiving Ritual Meal, according to my organization's newsletter, "Hindu Anand Bhattacharyya spoke in the context of a tradition 5,000 years old. He said that thanksgiving is not a once-a-year activity, but rather a regular event of the religious life." With his encouragement, on May 11, 1989, the Interfaith Council was created, and he was the first Hindu member, acknowledged with a special award at the dinner ten years later, also recognizing his columns in The Kansas City Star.
    Although we shared activities throughout the passing seasons and the flow of many years, it was the annual Thanksgivings that literally "tied" us together, because one year I admired the tie he was wearing. He had a second one just like it, and gave it to me, and it became our custom to wear these identical ties together at these yearly interfaith gatherings.
     He played a key role in the press conference on 9/11 and its anniversary observance, and in the 2001 Gifts of Pluralism Conference. Anand is the Hindu (along with his wife Dipti) in Donna Ziegenhorn's play, "The Hindu and the Cowboy," which resulted from that conference. When Harvard's Pluralism Project and Religions for Peace at the UN Plaza asked if Kansas City could host the first national "Interfaith Academies" for religious professionals and students, I went to Anand for assistance, and his encouragement helped bring Kansas City that honor in 2007.
     Anand was remembered in the program for this year's Interfaith Candlemas, and photos and tributes appear at Now he is with the light that pervades the cosmos; and for knowing him in this life, I give profound thanks.
Vern Barnet


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The three arenas of the sacred: nature, personhood, community

Share the wisdom of the world's spiritual traditions 
in our overwhelmingly secularistic and fragmented age, to reverse
the endangered environment,
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and the sacred found afresh.

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