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High Commissioner of India Mr. Ranjan Mathai's remarks at BAPS Swaminarayan Temple, Neasden on 2 September 2015

  

 

Pujya Mahant Swamiji, Pujya Swamis and Sadhus from India and from the worldwide BAPS community, and from here in Neasden,

Greetings to you and good wishes as we all jointly celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir at Neasden.    After that wonderful introduction we seem all, today to be Bochasanwasis.

We are today honoured to  hear the words of Pramukh Swamiji whose inspiration and dedication led to the creation of this great jewel of Indian tradition and culture on British soil.  I was honoured to be able to meet Pramukh Swamiji about 16 years ago in Israel when I served as India’s Ambassador there.   

We are also recalling today the special experiences that India’s great President and scientist Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had with Pramukh Swamiji and the Swami Narayan family.  Dr. Kalam in his book “Transcendence” describing his spiritual experiences with Pramukh Swamiji recalls that the roots of the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission in London can be traced back to the early 1950s.   A small group of devotees began to meet occasionally for Satsang in London with the blessings of Shastriji Maharaj.   Later the devotees acquired a church and converted it into a BAPS Mandir.  Within a few years it grew and as there was an ever growing Satsang the need for a new Mandir was felt.   In 1991, Pramukh Swamiji laid the foundation stone for a new Mandir in Neasden.   The work began in November 1992 and was completed three years later when the Mandir was inaugurated by the Pramukh Swamiji on 20th August 1995.   At the same time, in 1992 work began on the Swami Narayan Independent Day School. 

Dr. Kalam describes the Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden as an incredible combination of heaven on earth.  It is not just beautiful and spiritual but is also socially and environmentally friendly.   It has won awards for environment friendly design and for the quality of its artistic creation.   It has inspired thousands to transform their lives and lifestyles.   As Pramukh Swamiji explained:

“Every religion believes in the importance of a place of prayer.   If a person visits a temple with faith in his heart, he will experience a peaceful mind.   The scriptures say that peace is to be found by going to God, listening to the holy teachings of sadhus and by praying.   Every religion in its own tradition builds temples and monumental worshipping places.   These houses of worship inspire the people.”

This is my 4th visit here in the months that I have been in London.   I have been here as a tourist, as an awe struck visitor, and also one who has participated in devotion and celebrations, for example, during Diwali.   But today, I am here particularly in my capacity as the High Commissioner of India.  

As the High Commissioner of India I am here today to pay tribute to what you have done through this extraordinary work of spiritual creativity.   You have provided a shining example of the greatness of India’s highest spiritual traditions in this foreign land.  Your dedicated volunteers and staff make sure that Hindu tradition is properly understood in the context of India’s culture and civilization.  The great work of architecture and sculpture which we all see has profound spiritual motivation – and which is translated into the reality by the dedicated work of human hands.  Through such marvels India’s cultural legacy has spread worldwide and enhanced India’s image.   At the same time, this extraordinary artistic achievement is a contribution to British and indeed to world culture.

 

Your commitment to social causes, to betterment of lives and to encouraging the young has made you a living centre for the wider Indian community in the UK.   To a great extent, your example has helped to build the image of Indians in this country.   Today, Indians are seen as a distinct and adaptive community and successfully integrated into the UK.   And much credit goes to you for being open to both Indian and the UK traditions.  This is illustrated perfectly by the many distinguished visitors you have hosted here including HRH the Prince of Wales, and Prime Minister Cameron.   It symbolises the fact that our two countries, India and UK have a long history and have developed strong and mutually beneficial ties. 

Later this year the Prime Minister of India will be in UK and this will be another occasion to build the close relations between UK and India.   I am sure all of your devotees would play a big role in making the PM’s visit a memorable one.

The last 20 years have been a work of dedication and achievement.  For now let us look to the 20 years that lie ahead.   As our relations grow and as India’s global importance gets enhanced, this magnificient Mandir will have an even greater role in projecting true India – the land where the spirit, the mind and body can be brought together in harmony and where 1/6th of humanity is able to live with peace and coexistence.   

 

Congratulations and felicitations to all of you.   And my gratitude to the Pujya Swamiji for coming back today to this masterpiece.  And for your contribution to the life and work of our great country India and to the achievements of Indians in UK.  Jai Hind.

 

Sep 4, 2015
 
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