A quick post to say a big ‘thank you’ to the students who gave me such a great candle for helping them to welcome his Holiness Radhanath Swami last month.It was such a great evening with Radhanath – as he told those inspiring stories about love, truth, reconciliation and genuine service of others.
So a week later we placed the candle in the centre of our table when we had our Easter Day meal with friends and family.
Thanks to you all – Anesh, Janaki, Nikhita,Varun, Aman, Ishani, Nandita, the rest of the crowd!
It was a great pleasure to welcome His Holiness Radhanath Swami to Imperial just before Easter. Around 150 students came to hear him speak at an event hosted by Sachi Kishore the Chaplaincy’s Hindu Chaplain. Sachi was working with
the students who come to his regular Bhagavad Gita study group. The event also had great support from Imperial’s Hindu Society. They have impressive skills and experience at putting on large events.
So the event was also a satisfying moment to look back on three years work developing Chaplaincy provision for the Hindu communities at Imperial. Thanks to the students for making the event happen. And also to Professor Debra Humphris, the Pro-Rector – Education, who kindly offered an official welcome to Radhanath on behalf of the College.
This was my second meeting with Radhanath. For me as a Christian it was inspiring to hear this great Hindu teacher talk about finding ways to allow ourselves to be motivated and prompted by love of God and by God’s love for us. Radhanath used stories from his own life alongside stories and sayings from Hindu and Christian scriptures. He grasped the issues facing this generation of students – pressures to get jobs, repaying their student debts, starting a career in a time of austerity, and coping with the anxiety and hopes of parents.
I felt honoured as a Christian to sit in the presence of a great itinerant spiritual teacher. Especially then during the next week when I listened again to all the Easter stories of Jesus the wandering teacher going up to Jerusalem with his disciples.
Interfaith encounters can take us deeper into another person’s faith and at the same time deeper into our own – in surprising ways.
Here is a link to Radhanath’s website
One of my other colleagues left this summer. Gopal Das worked for the Chaplaincy for the last two years as one of our student Chaplains. Gopal made a great contribution to Chaplaincy communications – re-designing our website and our other digital and printed publicity. He developed our network to stay in touch with staff and students across three Colleges. Above all he turned Chaplaincy towards the Dharmic religions in a way we had never achieved before. So we had Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist groups regularly meeting in the Chaplaincy mainly as a result of Gopal’s work.
I wrote recently about Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Triangle for developing good relationships between people of different religions. So he says that knowing a person of a different religion increases knowledge which increases a positive attitude to their religion.Which, of course, makes possible deeper level conversations with other people of that religion which then sets off another positive trip around the triangle. Working with Gopal helped me complete many circuits of the interfaith triangle. As a Christian I learnt a great deal about Hinduism and especially Krishna Consciousness – I am so grateful for the personal contact and being able to work as part of a team.
Gopal is working for the Bhumi Project connected to the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He is now in India working with others to model good care of the environment at major Hindu Pilgrimage sites and to spread the environmental message back into Hindu communities around the world. There is more info about this at http://blog.bhumiproject.org/ and you can follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/BhumiGopalPatel
We had a great evening of Indian food. Sachi Kishore our Hindu Faith Advisor started his cookery classes in Indian vegetarian food for students and staff. Twenty two people from different parts of the College came together to learn to make Kitcheri – a dish with rice, lentils, vegetables and spices.
And afterwards everyone pushed all the tables together and sat down to eat the food they had prepared. Chaplaincy, as we say is about ‘hospitality’ and ‘dialogue’ (the other two key words we use frequently are ‘support’ and ‘reflection’ and they may apply here too!).