The North American Hindu Association is the only organization approved by both the Boys Scouts of American and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. for awarding Hindu religious awards to scouts.
The very first recipient of the Dharma Award in 1984. He took over as President of NAHA in 2015.
Nayan is the owner of Chikli Consulting. A Lean/Agile Coach with over 15 years of hands-on experience delivering software, he has significant programming experience and is a deep technologist always exploring new languages and ideas. His specialties include training software teams to increase their productivity and decrease their time-to-market while improving the quality of their product.
Nayan has been involved in the organizing committees for the Agile & Beyond conferences since 2009 and is a speaker at many user groups and conferences internationally.
Nayan currently lives in Saline, Michigan with his wife Meaghan and three daughters (Zoë, Ava & Téa).
Bhupendra R. Hajratwala, Ph.D.
Dr. Hajratwala founded the North American Hindu Association in 1983 in order to create a merit badge that Scouts could earn for Hinduism, parallel to the awards offered by various Christian denominations. Dr. Hajratwala wrote a booklet to teach children the basic tenets of Hinduism through simple lessons and activities, and designed a badge that has been awarded to more than a thousand children since being officially approved by both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA. His son, Nayan, then a Cub Scout, was the first recipient of the Dharma Award and now runs the organization.
He was born in Navsari, Gujarat, India, on April 8, 1942. He was the sixth child, and the fourth son, of Ratanji and Kashi Narsey. He was one of the first youths in his family to attend university, earning a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Gujarat University in Ahmedabad in 1962. In 1963, he continued his studies in the United States, earning a master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1965 and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Iowa in 1970. Dr. Hajratwala started his career as director of research at a laboratory in San Francisco, then migrated with his young family to New Zealand in 1971 to take a position as a professor at the University of Otago. Upon their return to the United States, he became a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, in 1979. He authored more than 100 scientific research and review papers and two laboratory workbooks. In 1987 he received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, one of the university’s highest honors.
In 1988 Dr. Hajratwala underwent a triple bypass surgery and subsequently retired from the university, taking up a second career as a Certified Financial Planner. He started a business, American Educational & Financial Services, in Canton, Michigan.
While in Michigan he was active in many community organizations, founding an Indo-American community newspaper, The Indian Horizon, and taking a leadership role in the Hindu Temple of Canton. During his term as Chairman of the Board, the temple systematized its finances, raised more than $100,000 to fund a new building, and hired its first full-time priest from India. Dr. and Mrs. Hajratwala were major donors to the temple, funding a new commercial-grade kitchen that was dedicated to the memory of his parents.
In 1998, he and his wife retired and moved to Pleasanton, California. In retirement Dr. Hajratwala enjoyed many creative pursuits, including calligraphy; traveled widely; and co-founded a social organization, the Tri-Valley Gujarati Seniors group. He wrote frequent articles, including a column in India Currents magazine, and presented talks and discourses on Hindu texts such as the Upanishads and Bhagawad Geeta. He authored and, with the North American Hindu Association, self-published several books, including a well-regarded translation of the Eeshopanishad, books on Hinduism for children, and a series of instructional booklets detailing his community’s rituals for births, marriages, and deaths.
He passed away on October 27, 2016 and leaves behind a beautiful legacy.
The Little Boy who Started It All
The following is a note that my father wrote before he passed away:
I often get asked, “How did you get started in this Dharma Award?” The answer is simple. It is the curiosity and tenacity of my (then 9 years old) son Nayan.
I did get an opportunity to chronicle the little segment of this history in the Indian Magazine called India Current in March 2008. I am happy to provide a link to that article. INDIA CURRENTS – MARCH 2008, P. 106
Originally approved by the Boy Scouts of America in 1983, it has since been approved by the Girl Scouts of the USA as well. With continuing demand for older children and adults, the Karma program was approved in 2001.
Nayan was the first student to receive the Dharma Award on May 1, 1984. Since then, well over a thousand children have completed these award programs.
Nayan graduated with a Computer Science degree from Cornell University, and has his own consulting company (Chikli Consulting). He hosts this website and is our ‘in-house’ consultant. He has three beautiful daughters, Zoë, Ava, and Téa. The girls, like their dad, are equally curious and have been a great source of inspiration for several of my books – which I wrote just for them – and are now available to all children through this website. Thank you Nayan for making this all happen.
Bhupendra Hajratwala, Founder, North American Hindu Association