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, National Hindu Students’ Forum (NSHF) UK President Bhavya Shah reflects upon the topic of youth development and Hindu identity.
The British Hindu identity is a tough one and definitely for children and youth alike, this experience is delicately balanced between two things. On the one side we must pay respects and seek inspiration from our Punyabhumi Bharat. We must understand that our Dharma and values come from that land. And on the other side we must actively contribute to our Karmabhumi the UK. So, whether it means cheering for England in the World Cup or cheering for [Virat] Kohli when he hits the next century, the British Hindu youth have to balance this.
And as you know, the British Hindu youth are dynamic. They're strong, they're powerful, but they display certain qualities that we can all learn from. From a young age in the UK, lots of us and our youth understand and begin to understand the Hindu identity. What does it mean to be a Hindu? How can I live a dharmic life?
So some schools such as the Swaminarayan School, inspired by Prahmukh Swami Maharaj, that has educated thousands of students in its lifetime of 20 years, whether it's the exemplary Avanti Trust, which has started 15 Hindu schools in the last 10 years, bringing Hindu schools to the mainstream. You see, all of these schools teach our students from a young age our core the Dharmic principles. Whether it's respect, cohesion or even duty and responsibility, from a young age, we begin to understand what it means to be a Hindu.
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Now, whether you send your children to BAPS Youth, Shakhas across the country, Balgokulam, Chinmaya Youth, Swadhyay. Shishkunjan, many, many more. All of these organisations play a pivotal role in shaping this understanding, shaping the core and the bedrock of our belief system, but also how we carry ourselves in society. Because when our children go off to universities, most often it's the first time away from home. Universities are a tough time for many, but you see our Hindu youth. Our Hindu youth choose to start Hindu societies at universities.
The National Hindu Students’ Forum, founded over 30 years ago, stands as a strong pillar for any Hindu youth going to university in the UK, providing a safe space. A space that feels like home away from home, but more importantly, a space to strengthen this Hindu identity, this British Hindu identity. All of these things come together to shape the youth of today.
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The youth of today are able to vocalise and articulate what it means to be a British Hindu. We face a lot of discrimination, whether it be in our workplaces, at university or in schools. Hindu hate is on the rise, but our youth have been at the forefront of fighting this, leading campaigns online, on social media or in person. What our youth are doing is making sure that there is a pride in being a British Hindu, that we can stand tall and say I'm a British Hindu, and the values I contribute to society make this society better.
We all know about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the whole world is one family and the youth have really taken up this mantra, making sure wherever we go we take our Hindu identity with us and we make sure that we positively impact those around us. To my elders, none of this could have been possible without you. It is because of your sheer perseverance, guidance, sacrifice and dedication that we are able to stand today. So please, I urge you to continue giving your support ashirvad and let us achieve greater heights. And to my fellow youth, continue to respect our elders. Listen to them. Seek their guidance. Their experience is so rich and immense.
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There's one final thing. A lot of people say, ‘The youth are the leaders of tomorrow’, but actually the youth are the leaders of today. The youth and the British Hindu youth will pave the way and the understanding and the strengthening and the vocalising of the British Hindu identity. For we must make Britain more dharmic now. Namaste.
*Info: Neasden Temple