for dandavat.com on Dec. 2, 2010
Thursday 11th November 2010 saw history in the making with its first corporate sponsored event in the financial industry to host a Gaudiya Vaisnava sannyasi. In the heart of UK’s financial district of Canary Wharf, over 200 bankers and traders assembled 512 feet high in Barclays skyscraper for an evening event to celebrate the message of Diwali with Bhakti Charu Swami.
Over the past year bankers and traders from Directors to analysts have been gathering fortnightly to investigate the Vedic view from fellow banker Radharamana Das on investment banking and topics of economics. The lunch & learn sessions are committed to providing genuine information from the ancient classical Vedic texts to help spiritually direct one of the most powerful bodies and group of individuals in corporate responsibilities. Free from religious motivations, the sessions have sparked demand across all cultures and faiths due to the emphasis on philosophy and spirituality.
Session organiser Ashika Patel comments: “the success of our objectives can be gleaned from the fact that most of our attendees are from non-Indian origins or affiliations. By providing spiritual concepts from the Vedas, our European, American, Afro Caribbean and wide range of western attendees highly appreciate the thought provoking Vedic versions for both inside banking and in their own lives too.” With the grand success of last years annual Diwali event, this years event was geared towards providing a finale of the lunch sessions by hosting Bhakti Charu Swami.
As the clock struck six, bankers slowly but surely escaped from desks to travel high into the tower that was magically transformed to depict the festival of lights.
With a full house, the director of sales and trading welcomed the event and handed the festival to the MC for the evening, Sri Radharamana Das. Having welcomed another years festival, the MC began with explaining the roots of Diwali and how cultures and faiths around the world commemorate Diwali. The festival was then inaugurated by the magical classical singing of fellow banker Priya Parkash who vocalised the ancient Thumri which puts to note in Brajabhasha the sentiments of separation between the Sakhis of Vrindavana and Lord Krishna. The second piece seemed to shatter the floor through an esoteric bhajan by medieval poet Kabir who asks the mind to focus on singing the names of Govinda, Rama and Hari. The solo performance was accompanied by tabla maestro Hanif Khan.
With the ethos of the room brought to a standstill, the MC elaborately introduced His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami both from his spiritual affiliation to the worlds oldest monastical tradition but also through his versatile community projects. With special gratitude expressed for travelling all the way from India to join the festival, Bhakti Charu Swami began with an invocation to the previous acaryas and ushered into the panca tattva and mahamantra. From the very start, Maharaja captured the assembly with his devotional gestures and sweet words that vibrated the glories of Sri Rama. As he smiled on, he described the purpose of Sri Rama’s advent and moved on to technically define the concept of an avatara. With great compassion and understanding Bhakticaru Swami discussed the weaknesses of modern day misunderstandings of God and described how one can and should properly probe the subject matter of Gods existence. The discourse concluded with the advantages of accepting spiritual culture and the results of experiencing the nature of transcendence.
Following a few more speeches and cultural items the event closed with prasadam. During this time however, while Bhakticaru Swami was seated, individuals one by one requested the MC for audiences with Maharaja with questions and to share appreciation. It seemed that the entire assembly consisting of people from a wide range of races and nativities were queuing to meet with him. A number of senior banker colleagues commented that they have finally experienced the concept of a genuine spiritual master and guide in him and are planning to visit him in Ujjain. A sense of profound respect for Maharaja was established unintentionally with each and every individual who had an interaction. Some walked away marvelled with his humble attitude saying that they have never met someone more pure in everyway than he.
As Maharaja was leaving, the marble floor and walls all reflected his radiant saffron robes in all four corners to light up the bank. His entrance was as startling as his departure. The added difference this time was that he left with giving the beauty (caru) of bhakti to bankers of all walks of life. By being true to his name, one can at least begin to understand the purport of his name ordained by his spiritual master, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada through this episode. Only an empowered representative of Srila Prabhupada would be able to move the hearts of many such influential and academically proficient bankers. In fact, may be one such in a million. Bhakti certainly hit the bankers!