It was a meeting between two people who complemented each other with their life story, hitchhiking adventures, desire to serve society and their love for India. Dominique Lapierre, author of ‘City of Joy’ and Radhanath Swami were invited by Ajay Piramal, Chairman – Piramal India Ltd. and his wife Swati Piramal, Director – Strategic Alliances & Communications, for a family event that at their residence in Mumbai. The hosts requested them to share some words of wisdom on the theme of ‘Happiness, Love & Forgiveness’.
Dominique Lapierre spoke first. He shared that he values Happiness as one of the biggest virtues in life. “I have been coming to this great country since the last 50 years and I think there is a highest density of smile per capita. Smile in India is really a thing that we have enjoyed and learned during all these years.” He mentioned about his social work to uplift the people of Sunderbans, in Kolkata, India. Further, he reflected on the work of Mahatma Gandhi and the values of love, tolerance, and non-violence which he promoted and with those values only he managed to break the chains of British Empire to get freedom for India. He shared the background of his other books like ‘Is Paris burning?’ and ‘Freedom at Midnight’.
Then, he narrated his meeting with Mother Teresa and how she engaged him in helping leper children in Kolkata. It was during this service he was inspired to write his best seller, “City of Joy”. The book went on to sell twelve million copies, in forty five languages. Also, it inspired a sixty million dollar movie, and with the help of the royalties from these extraordinary successes Dominique started charity services for people in Kolkata and now in Sundarbans. He ended with an appeal to people to help him in his cause.
Radhanath Swami thanked Dominique for his inspiring speech before he started. He began by sharing a principle for engaging in any relationship or commitment is society. “If we base our relationships on a higher principle then we can overcome the inevitable daily uncertainties we are bound to encounter in this world.” He narrated his own meeting with Mother Teresa when he visited her in 1971 and she told him, “The problem of the world is hunger – not hunger of the belly but the hunger of the heart. The only thing that could give satisfaction to the heart is love, God’s love. Real love arises from the heart and that’s where happiness lies and unless you have that love you cannot give that love and in giving that love is how we receive the love.”
Radhanath Swami added, “That love for God is within the heart of every living being. By following our spiritual practices, by chanting God’s names we could awaken that love. As we awaken that love being an instrument in giving God’s love to the world we tap into the source of all love giving us the greatest happiness.”
He then shared his realizations on the principle of forgiveness which has prominent importance in all great spiritual traditions. “When we forgive we are actually liberated. In a family or a social situation it’s forgiveness that acts as a medicine to keeps us together. In a spiritual society, if we can’t learn to be instruments of love and if we cannot forgive, it’s not really spiritual at all and it’s just something very external and superficial.” He marked the closure with a beautiful definition of happiness, “Real happiness is wherever we are; we should see the opportunity to be an instrument of love and to serve.”