Dr. Ranjan Ravaliya
I was born in a small village named Gomta, near Gondal in the state of Gujarat but also spent some of my youth in Africa as my parents lived there for 20 years before the Idi Amin crisis in the early 1970’s. I completed my early education at a Gurukul (a boarding school for girls) in Porbandar Gujarat, which is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. Here, I gathered an early understanding of the Vedic teachings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati who believed men and women to be equal. I also received my Yagyopaveet (sacred thread that generally only men are allowed to wear) while studying at Gurukul. This is where the seeds were planted in my mind to understand the Vedic philosophy and Karmakand.
My desire to learn about the Hindu Vedic philosophy was reignited once more by the constant struggle and confusion I was confronted with when my children, nieces and nephews asked me “Why do we do this ceremony?", “What does it mean?”, during religious events at the temple and at home. Inevitably, these questions were followed by statements such as "I don't believe in that..." or "That sounds outdated...", so I was determined to answer their questions in a scientific and logical manner. I decided to go to Haridwar, India (one of the religious epicenters of India) for a month to live in and study at ShantiKunj Ashram and immerse myself in the Hindu teachings. There, I focused on learning and understanding the meaning behind Vedic rituals and ceremonies to address these common questions with grounded knowledge and understanding.
I am a mother of two wonderful daughters and a grandmother of one. I had taught Gujarati in the greater Boston area at Shishu Baharti for 10 years. I teach Indian cooking at a vocational school in the area. I am an alumni of Sardar Patel University at undergraduate level, M. S. University of Vadodara at graduate and postgraduate level and Harvard University at another graduate level. By profession, I am an Environmental Scientist and a consultant in Sustainable Development, for over thirty years. I have a PhD in Chemistry from M. S. University in Vadodara, Gujarat, and an ALM in Sustainable Development from Harvard University. I have formal education in Hindi and Sanskrit from India’s National Board for these languages which allow me to understand and recite slokas with ease and clarity.