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To love and to be loved is the core purpose of life: ISKCON’s Radhanath Swami
11 Nov 2018

To love and to be loved is the core purpose of life: ISKCON’s Radhanath Swami

He set sail from the shores of America in search for the true purpose of life. He found his answers in Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON. Radhanath Swami is today a leading figure in helping others find harmony and also to build sustainable communities. A member of the Governing Body Commission, he is the brainchild behind ISKCON’s famous mid-day meal plan.

A Bhakti yoga practitioner, author and a spiritual teacher, he is soft-spoken and enjoys a good laugh at the slightest of occasions. Timesnownews.com spoke to him about facing modern-day challenges, his iconic autobiographical account and the eternal quest to get in touch with our inner peace.

 

Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami, the brainchild behind ISKCON’s famous mid-day meal plan  |  Photo Credit: Facebook
 

He set sail from the shores of America in search for the true purpose of life. He found his answers in Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON. Radhanath Swami is today a leading figure in helping others find harmony and also to build sustainable communities. A member of the Governing Body Commission, he is the brainchild behind ISKCON’s famous mid-day meal plan.

A Bhakti yoga practitioner, author and a spiritual teacher, he is soft-spoken and enjoys a good laugh at the slightest of occasions. Timesnownews.com spoke to him about facing modern-day challenges, his iconic autobiographical account and the eternal quest to get in touch with our inner peace.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Excerpts from the interview:

Akrita Reyar: What inspired you to write such an extraordinary book – ‘The Journey Home – Autobiography of an American Swami’? What all went inside you before it came out – pen on paper?

Radhanath Swami: My very dear friend, who was a Swami, was living in America but he had travelled the whole world. He was a mentor for Nelson Mandela and Mohammad Ali. He was an African American. He was on his deathbed and asked me to stay with him until he departs. So I was at his bedside for 8 weeks. Just before he left, he told me that I should write a book about my travels when I was young and searching for the truth. And I asked if it wouldn’t be it an act of arrogance if I were to write a whole book about myself; every page being just about I, me and mine! And he said that it’s not your story, it’s God’s story and this story can inspire and give hope to people from different walks of life. 

So, if you don’t write this book then that would be an act of arrogance. And then he held my hand and asked me to promise him on his deathbed that I will write this book. And I didn’t know what to say. So, I said I want to, though I was very reluctant. But I could not say no, as it was a dying man’s wish. So I said, I will. He squeezed my hand even harder and smiled, tears glimmered in his eyes and he said, “You cannot lie at my deathbed.” So, I wrote the book!

Akrita Reyar: When you were writing, what went through your mind? There would be a vast repository of information to pick from - did you make your own choices or did nature conspire?

Radhanath Swami: I just tried to be honest and wrote down what happened. And my life was one miracle after another. God holding me by the hand and taking me to places that were a complete mystery to me; to find deeper links to the truth. I prayed a lot. My parents kept all the letters that I wrote, so that was helpful and I also kept a little journal. I used all those things. I just tried to present the journey; how I left America when I was a teenager in search for a higher meaning and truth of life; the purpose of life. I wasn’t particularly spiritually religious - it was more about meaning and purpose. 

But as I travelled to different parts of Europe and the Middle East, I understood that to really be a change in the world, there has to be an inner transformation and that inner transformation is something spiritual. But there was a problem because there are many spiritual paths and in my experience, there is so much argumentation, condemnation and even hatred between the paths. So which one to choose? And in my travels and in my studies and meetings with all the holy people of different faiths, I found there is a common essence at the heart of all true spiritual paths and I wanted to connect to that.

Akrita Reyar: You say the purpose of all your travels was essentially a search for true purpose. What finally did you find is the purpose and meaning of life?

Radhanath Swami: To love and to be loved. And unless we find that love within ourselves as our inherent nature, we cannot fully love or recognise and understand how to be an instrument of God’s love. To perceive the presence of God in every living being and to perceive the presence of Him in the entire environment; which is God’s gift. When we find love within ourselves, it’s only then we can recognise the love that is all around us and we can actually share that which is of greatest value with everybody.

Akrita Reyar: At what moment did you feel your Guru Srila Prabhupada is going to be your spiritual mentor?

Radhanath Swami: I have met so many different spiritual teachers. Some of them were strange, but most of them I really loved. Then I came in contact with Srila Prabhupada and the path of bhakti which is based on Bhagavad Gita of Krishna, I was convinced. Bhakti is the love that is within us; it is eternal. It is the very constitutional nature of the soul; the lifeforce. And bhakti yoga is the path of the awakening of that love and it is expressed in this world through compassion. So the philosophy and the lifestyle of bhakti, it came across as all inclusive to me. It seemed to include everything else that I had learnt so far. And it felt something very very special and wonderful. And Srila Prabhupada is an example of that compassion and wisdom, and his love really overwhelmed me. And I was very unqualified, and I still am, to assist in his mission to try and help the world find out love.

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