Tribute to Jay Lakhani: British Hindus reflect on his enduring legacy that will live on for generations

Tribute to Jay Lakhani: British Hindus reflect on his enduring legacy that will live on for generations

Theoretical physicist and global speaker Shri (Dilip) Jay Lakhani passed away peacefully at home on December 4, aged 72. It was a sad day for the British Hindu community as they bade farewell to the adored and well-respected scholar and pioneer of Hindu studies in the UK.

Author of 'Hinduism for Schools' (2005), 'Primary Hinduism' (2006), 'Special Times: Hinduism' (2009) and 'A Journey Through Life in Hinduism' (2010), Lakhani was the first Hindu tutor at Eton College and was known for his popular GCSE and A-Level Hinduism classes, which he ran up and down the country.

Jay’s unique style of delivering lectures accumulated avid interest online and across the world. Many students will fondly remember him in his tiger orange blazer, holding a fist in the air with a lion-like expression of passion on his face, speaking with great enthusiasm about “religious pluralism” and a term he coined “spiritual humanism”.

With a Masters in Quantum Physics from Imperial College London, Lakhani was an astute thinker with a scientific mind and a spiritual outlook on life. He was a very devoted disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda and promoted the Advaita Vedanta stream of Hindu Dharma. He committed his life to the education of the youth through two institutions that he founded: Vivekananda Centre and Hindu Academy. He developed many tools to promote Hinduism in a modern context, including viral videos, social media campaigns and creating his own school curriculum.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic and UK government restrictions, Lakhani’s final rites will be conducted behind closed doors. His family, including wife Meena Lakhani and daughter Seeta Sunchak, have kindly requested all family and friends to refrain from visiting the house and to conduct their own prayers in the safety of their homes.

The community has come together on social media to share their condolences and to commemorate his life with their favourite memories of him.

Here's a collection of messages from community leaders and lifelong followers of Lakhani’s work:

"The sudden passing of Jay Lakhani has come as an immense shock for all those many whose lives he touched with his wisdom, wit and infectious passion for teaching Hinduism. Jay bhai as he was affectionately known in the community was a reservoir of knowledge, which he was always willing to share in his most charismatic style. He made the learning of Hinduism both accessible and fun for people of all ages. He will be deeply missed. But his legacy and positive affirmation of Hindu values in a modern and global context will live on for generations to come."

- Manoj Ladwa, CEO & Chairman, India Inc. Group

"There has been a genuine outpouring of sadness amongst British Hindus at the passing away of a unique personality – Mr Jay Lakhani – last week. The following tribute aired on BBC Radio captures his powerful contribution and legacy. I had the great honour of knowing him (aka Dilip Masa) for over 40 years from our regular childhood trips to Birmingham to visit my maternal family (Pravinbhai and Sarlaben Sangani) for whom he was both brother-in-law and spiritual companion. He was one of kind and will be sorely missed. Our prayers and thoughts are with all his extended family and friends. RIP 🙏🏻”

- Lord Jitesh Gadhia

"A great loss to our samaj. An intellectual Kshatriya with tremendous energy and fearlessness in promoting Hindu Dharma, a very devout disciple of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. Known him since 70s very closely. Lived in B'ham and then moved to London. 🕉️ शांति शांति शांति 🕉️"

- Dhiraj D. Shah, President of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK

“Jayji brought DharmaVidya into the British vernacular, coining a fresh vocabulary and bringing credibility and restoring dignity to our Dharmic British community, a displaced community only just recovering from the trauma of colonisation. He poured energy and dynamism into his teaching, an infectious passion and an obvious delight in sharing the vision and continuing the works of his master and his parampara, permeated his work, and how could we not acknowledge his unique choice of blazing blazers which proclaimed his arrival at every InterFaith event.

If there was a lesson any of us could take from his life, one which perhaps he might even endorse, I feel it would be the understanding that knowing is not being and being is not doing and until we engage in dynamic acts of Dharma, our knowing is of little value.

The best way in which we can honour his memory might be to follow his example and act, act, act in service of Sanatan Dharma and who knows, we too may be blessed with a glimpse of the darshan which ignited his passion and became a light for many who knew him and even more who were touched by his life’s work.”

- Pt Satish K. Sharma, British Board of Dharmic Scholars

"A dark cloud over the British Hindu community. We have lost an icon, scholar, advisor, friend and most of all a limb of the community. He helped thousands if not millions navigate the complexities of the world's oldest religion. There is an irreplaceable emptiness and unfillable void. Some may call him a modern day #swamivivekananda. You will be missed Jay Lakhani."

- Parish Councillor Pranav Bhanot

"Having become so active with our Hindu community over the pandemic and being involved in our Samaj through various organisations, I was thinking a lot about my time studying under Him and Seeta ji. How for two years every Sunday afternoon we would attend his classes and listen in to his teaching of what Hindu Dharma is. A time I remember fondly, full of questioning and debates. That is exactly what He wanted to achieve. He knew that the world has conditioned us to perceive Hindu traditions as superstitious, as backwards, as regressive. And his mission was to awaken us. To teach the Hindu youth that we are inheritors of a great civilisation of questioning and rationality; he wanted us to bring the millennia-age philosophy to the forefront of every discussion about Hindus. I had the privilege of completing the GCSE and the A level course in Hinduism with the Hindu Academy, and I don't think I can really put to words the impact he had on me.

“If it weren't for Him, I'm not sure I'd be this passionate about Vedanta or working for my community. Millions around the world will remain forever indebted to Dr Lakhani. He was the first point of contact many Hindus and non-Hindus had with the greatness of his Dharma, and his passing away leaves a legacy that our youth must uphold, the greatest thing we can do to honour him. Dr Lakhani never claimed he said anything new. He always said he is bringing out the true message of our Vedas and our ancestors to the modern age, because the world will benefit from our truths. The truth of free thinking and of religious pluralism. As he said it, Spiritual Humanism. Om Shanti."

- Samyak Pandey, National Hindu Students' Forum UK

*To express your condolences to Shri Jay Lakhani’s family, email jay@hinduacademy.org

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