“In a cultured society, people love people and use things. But unfortunately, in this world people love things and they use people to get them and keep them.” Radhanath Swami made this poignant remark in his talk entitled, “What to Learn After you Know Everything About Everything,” given to hundreds of prominent entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and business men of Mumbai during the Artha conference. The conference was held in Chowpatty, Mumbai, on the 20th of July, 2013. Amongst the participants were Mr. Sunil Shanghai, Managing Director of HSBC Bank, Mr. Ajay Piramal, Chairman of Piramal Group, and Mr Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital. A host of other investment bankers, authors and political leaders also attended the presentation.
The event was similar to the Artha Forum Silicon Valley event held last month in Santa Clara, California, where Radhanath Swami addressed entrepreneurs and investors from all over the United States.
Artha Forum is an online community dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs, professionals and business leaders and bringing to them the relevance of ancient wisdom and literature in modern business. One of the objectives of Artha is to create awareness amongst business leaders to share the profits of business for helping society. Artha also emphasizes the importance of doing business without greed or pride.
Rajeev Srivastava, one of the founders of Basil Partners and with 20 years of experience in investing in the U.S., Europe and India, shared the wisdom he learned from Radhanath Swami: “The turning point in my life was in 1996 when Radhanath Swami guided me, ‘Make sure that whatever you do, there is no greed or pride.’” Rajeev expressed that since then, he and his friends Kushal and Sanjiv have pledged 50% of the profits to social initiatives of Radhanath Swami. Rajesh Talwar, former CEO of a nonprofit hospital and presently a trainer and coach for corporate professionals, shared his realization: “I have been lucky in life to be guided by Radhanath Swami for over thirty years.” Rajesh has more than 25 years of experience in the field of healthcare administration.
Mr. Hrishikesh Mafatlal recollected Radhanath Swami’s wisdom he heard years ago: “God does not see what you give; He sees what you hold back.” Mr. Mafatlal has known Radhanath Swami for over 28 years, and he explained how over the years his understanding of charity underwent a substantial change: “Thanks to Radhanath Swami’s friendship, I now realize that charity does not include only money. It’s a matter of awareness, our thinking, our time, all our efforts, and certainly whatever privileges and background we have.” He confessed, “Our goal since then has been to carry out projects in such a way that after taking care of our minimum needs, we can do the maximum for society.”
Nupur Desai then briefed the participants about the activities of Annamrita, a food-relief program initiated by the students of Radhanath Swami. Through 20 kitchen centers across eight Indian states, Annamrita is presently catering over 1.2 million wholesome meals of prasadam (spiritually sanctified vegetarian meals) to needy schoolchildren every day.
In his address, Radhanath Swami contrasted sensual gratification with the experience of real fulfillment earned from service. “The nature of flickering gratifications on the bodily, sensual or mental level is that the more you have, the more you need. It’s like fire; the more fuel you put on, the hotter, bigger, and hungrier it gets. And that’s the way with wealth, power, prestige and all sensual pleasure.” He explained how these things can’t touch the heart, whereas a rich inner life – in which we find the treasure of love within ourselves – naturally manifests as heartfelt compassion towards other living entities. “Whether we are little swamis traveling all over, without any resources, or we are farmers, businesspersons, politicians or billionaires, all are wonderful when we are united with the right, fulfilling motivation behind our activities.”
Radhanath Swami presented a spiritual perspective to our occupations: “When we connect with God’s love, we recognize the sacredness of our lives. And that is our natural state. When we tune in to that divinity, then we’ll naturally feel genuine compassion for others. And then our fulfillment in life is not simply in what we can get, but in what we can give.”
He appealed that if we are motivated by compassion and see the needs of the suffering world, we’ll truly understand that we are all one family and are God’s children. Then we’ll be motivated to make a difference in this world through our character, integrity and our efforts.