With the bright lights from the London skyline seeping into the ninth floor room at EY, one of the “big four” international professional services firms, Radhanath Swami spoke at their Diwali cultural showcase, “Life Beyond Borders”. As is tradition, he began with the chanting of ancient mantras, which created a mood of serenity. Regardless of background, when the Swami folds his hands, and bursts the pin-drop silence with his elongated “Aum,” you sense that something special is about to happen. Yeohan Kim, an actor with MTV, thought the same: “I heard about the Swami and his incredible story through Russell Brand and he didn’t disappoint. His words were refreshing and were like nuggets of wisdom.”
Martin Pollard, a postgraduate journalism student, said “The moment he stepped onto the stage, his energy was infectious. He changes the room just by his presence and I was inspired how conscientiously he answered my questions.” Martin added “I get quite nervous seeing men of the cloth and I’m definitely in the non-religious camp, but the principles he spoke of, I could relate to. He was just a really compassionate, wise man to be honest!”
Although this event was commemorating Diwali, a traditionally Hindu celebration, over half of the audience were agnostic, reflecting the rising popularity of do-it-yourself spirituality, yoga and meditation in the West.
“What I enjoyed about his talk were the personal anecdotes he gave. They were filled with universal truth that I could relate too,” said Sophie, who works with UNESCO. Radhanath Swami focused on the truths of inner-transformation: “Diwali takes place on the new moon — the darkest, most inauspicious night of the year — but Diwali is the time of the brightest lights. That is transformation. Diwali is a time when we really focus on bringing light into our own hearts.” He continued by shedding light on the ancient classic, the Ramayana, stressing how all citizens from that era were described to have lived with compassion. Why? Because their leaders lived with compassion.
Sandhiya Indurjith, a Tech Consultant from Accenture, expressed a liking to similar principles in an interview after the event. “I loved his point on earning with integrity, spend with compassion” she said. “He brought my awareness, my consciousness to another level.” When asked what she would like to hear him speak on in the future, she passionately interjected, “His life stories! When he was talking about his adventures and the lessons he had learned, that really resonated with me. What an exciting life.”
“He has a serious message to share with the world, about leadership and values, but he’s so humble, endearing and entertaining that his ideals become easier to fathom and implement.” said Bijal Majithia, the organiser of the event hosted by the EY Hindu Network, Veda London and the Assistant Director for Global Diversity & Inclusiveness at EY. “He has a way of connecting with everyone!” she exclaimed.
Radhanath Swami was delighted with the event. He personally congratulated the Veda London team for their commitment to presenting ancient wisdom from the Vedas to a contemporary city audience.