On July 18, 2016, the microprocessor giant Intel Corporation invited Radhanath Swami to speak at their headquarters in Santa Clara, California. The event was organized and coordinated by the Intel India Association.
Speaking on the topic ‘Growing Through Adversity”, Radhanath Swami began the talk by quoting Winston Churchill, “Success means going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” He then narrated the story of Sindhutai Sapkal, an woman he had met who runs many orphanages around India and has nurtured over 1000 orphans. A village woman, she had been married at age ten to a 32-year-old man. When she was nine months pregnant, he beat her senseless and abandoned her, leaving her for dead. When she recovered, Sapkal was deeply depressed. Just as she was about to commit suicide, however, she spotted an orphan and took him under her wing. She had found her calling in life. She began an orphanage, and gradually opened much more, becoming a world-famous philanthropist. She won around 270 national and international awards. Her former husband, now eighty and having lost everything he had, came to her for shelter, and with no resentment, she took him in as her ‘oldest child.’
We have many choices in life, Radhanath Swami explained. But the best way to positively affect society is to use our lives to give love to others, find love within and transform ourselves, and ultimately love God.
He shared that Sapkal had told him, “My life was a path of thorns, but I made friends with those thorns.”
Quoting the Bhagavad-gita, Radhanath Swami said true fulfillment in life comes from within us. “When we don’t have internal fulfillment, nothing external can satisfy us,” he added. Swami stressed on building a strong internal foundation, which can withstand tumultuous storms in our life.
“A meaningful life is what we give not what we get, ” he said. Elucidating this further, he explained how the roots of red wood trees, which have lifespans of thousands of years, move horizontally, and intertwine with the roots of other redwoods and thus gain stability. As human our roots are our hearts.
Sriram Govindarajan, Hardware Design Engineer at Intel Corporation said “ After hearing the talk, I felt at ease to deal with situations around me. The key takeaway for me was having a strong connect with your inner self, makes you realize what is important in life and focus on them rather than the petty disturbances that are usually not in our control. Instead of regretting about things that we lack in life we could give to people who are less fortunate than we are.”