On October 10th, 2012, Radhanath Swami was invited to address the Oxford Union. The event was organized in conjunction with the Oxford University Hindu Society and the Hindu Chaplaincy to Oxford University. This was the first time in it’s 189 year history that a Swami had been invited to speak at the Oxford Union.
In 1823 the Oxford Union was created as a debating society in the city of Oxford. To this day the Union regularly hosts topical debates and speaker events. Past speakers have included the Dalai Lama, former President Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, and Malcolm X.
Before the address Radhanath Swami was invited to lunch at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) with faculty members, staff, and students. This was followed by a tour of the University with Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the OCHS and Hindu Chaplain to Oxford.
Later that evening over 80 students filled the famous Gladstone Room of the Oxford Union to hear Radhanath Swami speak. The topic of the evening was “Trust as the foundation of a good leadership.”
Citing examples from the lives of people whom he had admired or studied under, from Martin Luther King to yogis of the Himalayas and saintly devotees, he explained all were leaders due to the trust in which people placed in them. In an age of cynicism and mistrust, he spoke of the need for trustworthy leaders in the world. He encouraged the students to develop foundations of honesty and integrity in their lives as they make their way through university and into their chosen careers and professions.
Following the talk many appreciated Swami’s message and his personable character. They were thankful for him coming to address the Union and expressed their desire to hear from him again in the future.
The University of Oxford is the oldest University in the English-speaking world. It ranks in the top five universities internationally. Notable alumni include former President Bill Clinton, 26 British Prime Ministers, founder of the Internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee, scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, authors C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, and human-rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.