British Hindus enrich the UK in every sense of the word

British Hindus enrich the UK in every sense of the word

In this special edition, iGlobal joins hands with the world-famous Neasden Temple in London to celebrate British Hindu contributions across different walks of life in the UK to commemorate the visit of Mahant Swami Maharaj to the UK. Here, Lord Jitesh Gadhia – Non-Executive Director of the Court, The Bank of England – summarises the many strands of sewa, public service, youth development and arts and culture covered by speakers at a recent event.

We have heard some brilliant accounts of how Hindus – now representing over 1 million of our citizens make an outsized impact in so many aspects of British life – ranging from arts and culture encapsulated so eloquently by one of India’s leading authors now turned diplomat – Amish Tripathi – to our increasing prominence in all fields of public service described by my friend Manoj Ladwa. We heard from Nilesh Solanki about the inspiring range of charitable activities carried out by so many Hindu and Dharmic organisations helping those most in need and it was reassuring to listen to Bhavya Shah’s summary of the all the effort and investment being made in developing the next generation.

The sheer breadth and depth of our contribution is clearly evident. We have enriched this nation in every sense of the word.  Not only would the UK be poorer without British Hindus – but in many areas of activity, such as the health service – our society would struggle to function without the exceptional talent and skills of the Hindu and wider Indian community.

But in keeping with our modest character – these accomplishments are not widely known or fully recognised. Ours is a quiet contribution, not a bombastic or attention-seeking one, anchored in the very best Dharmic traditions of duty and service.

Indeed, if there is one common theme binding together all the narratives we have heard then it is our core Hindu values of Dharma and Sewa. These are timeless and universal.

When former Prime Minister David Cameron spoke from this very podium during his visits to this Mandir – he always made a point of highlighting what he described as inspirational Hindu values and our role as model citizens. And he went on to draw a comparison with British values of respecting laws, tolerance and individual responsibility. This alignment between Hindu values and British values is exactly one of the key reasons why our community has integrated so well in the United Kingdom.

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British Hindus enrich the UK in every sense of the word
Rich tapestry of British Hindu contributions to public life are guided by Dharma

The essence of Hinduism is to be open, inclusive and tolerant of others. We don’t come from a theocratic tradition, but instead from a civilisation which accepts that there are many paths, respecting and embracing difference.  

Indeed, what could be more symbolic of this than the sight of our first British Indian Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – a practising Hindu – reading flawlessly from the Bible at the Coronation Service of His Majesty The King.

This plurality is also evident across every corner of India and the challenge for us all is to better explain our values and the ground reality – that we represent not only one of the oldest traditions in the world but one of the most peaceful and tolerant. The public understanding of the world’s third largest religion is surprisingly shallow and often dominated by images of rituals rather than an appreciation of a 5,000-year-old ancient civilisation from the Indus Valley. Now, more than ever, Hindus require a stronger voice and profile to counter an increasingly distorted representation.

In fact, I would say that in an era of increasing ideological competition and global fragmentation, Hinduism and Hindu values are more relevant than they have ever been.

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British Hindus enrich the UK in every sense of the word
Impact of sewa on the social fabric of Britain is profound

As torch bearers of the noble values of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world is one family – Hindus have a pivotal role to play in countering the forces which are making societies more inward, insular and intolerant. It is therefore a source of huge pride that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the rallying call from the Maha Upanishad of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and made into the central theme for India’s Presidency of the G20 emphasising: One Earth – One Family – One Future.

So, in concluding my friends, I would like to make two final points: firstly, to return to the importance of unity. By bringing us all together today – and for his visionary pursuit of the mission: “Samp nu circle motu karo” – we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj – and we pray for his continued good health, guidance and blessings.

And secondly, our collective experience in the UK has shown that by being better Hindus we also become better British citizens – and by being good British citizens we can help improve not only British society but can also shape a more peaceful, harmonious and prosperous world.

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British Hindus enrich the UK in every sense of the word
Our youth will pave the way to strengthening British Hindu identity

Thank you again for this opportunity and to BAPS for bringing us all together – Jai Swaminarayan!

iGlobal News
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