From 30 January 2008 to 02 February 2008, a group of members from the YPO, Young Presidents’ Organization, were in Mumbai for a seminar series hosted by industrialists Ajay Piramal and Swati Piramal. YPO is a body of young Presidents, CEOs and Managing Directors of big corporations from across the world. The Piramals had them visit Radhagopinath temple in groups of 20. In all, 60 members visited the temple in a span of two days.
One member, a lady executive from South America was especially overwhelmed. Firstly, upon the group’s arrival, Radhanath Swami addressed them, and that was impressive. Then, when the group proceeded to the temple hall, the mood there was one of celebration. The altar doors had just opened to reveal the gorgeously dressed forms of Radha and Krishna. From inside the altar, incense smoke wafted out into the cavernous temple hall where hundreds happily danced and chanted to live music played with drums and cymbals. But what was the celebration about? This celebration was called kirtan—they were informed—and this formed a part of the practices of bhakti yoga; and amazingly, this was an everyday affair! Gazing at the kirtan, some executives smiled gleefully, while some swayed in tune to the music. But this lady from South America was especially touched by the ambience. She visibly waged a battle to restrain her feeling, as her eyes brimmed with tears of joy. Breaking herself off from the group she moved about the temple hall snapping away photos of the kirtan from all possible angles.
At the end of the visit, Radhanath Swami, Ajay Piramal and a few others stood at the gate to bid the group farewell. The South American executive, wanting to express her joy, innocently stepped ahead to embrace Radhanath Swami. Quickly, Radhanath Swami hopped back and folded his palms in greeting, but smiled generously to avoid the lady any embarrassment. The executive perhaps understood that a Swami in Indian culture wouldn’t embrace a woman. She retreated, but it looked like she also sensed Radhanath Swami’s concern for avoiding her embarrassment; so she covered any mortification with a broad smile and folded her palms.
After the group left, Ajay Piramal told Radhanath Swami, “That executive from South America was really impressed. She was telling me that her life had changed.” Radhanath Swami quipped, “She was about to change my life too.”His body rocked with laughter.
I realized it required a lot of mature sensitivity to share the precious gifts of Vedic spirituality with people who have little or no idea of Vedic culture, even though they might be very pure in heart.
Mr. Prakash Nanjudiah