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Leadership essence – ‘Seeking unity in diversity’

 Unity in Diversity “Let our family expand to millions and billions, but let’s never compromise on the love and care for each person…” – Radhanath Swami (Address to the Radha Gopinath community leaders on his 62nd birthday, in Mumbai, on December 7, 2012)

 

What does it take for a spiritual community to sustain through the thick and thins, the ups and downs, of this material world? In an age characterized by rampant quarrel and hypocrisy, it’s a veritable challenge to establish and maintain a community based on spiritual principles. The Shri Shri Radha Gopinath mandir community in downtown Mumbai was established with a group of fifty to hundred devotees in 1986, and since the last twenty six years, the community has grown to more than eight thousand, including the satellite centres that have expanded in Maharashtra.

The interesting and heartening feature of this growth is that more than ninety per cent of the original members of the community are still actively practising spiritual life, and rendering services through various outreach projects initiated by the community.

 

Tolerance and appreciation brings unity

For relationships, both at the individual and community level, to be maintained in the long run, lot of emphasis is placed on tolerance; each member is different and emphasis is often placed on the need to tolerate and respect each other. However the most critical factor for healthy relationships is that not only we tolerate but also appreciate our differences; this appreciation brings unity in diversity.

When Radhanath Swami began the community, there was practically a war amongst the householders and the renunciants. Lot of misunderstanding and hatred was fuelled by some political elements. However, by the grace of Lord, these people moved away, unable to stand against the strong culture of community-based spiritual practises, where members lived by common commitment to spiritual sadhana, discipline and services.

 

Need to abandon pride

A spiritual leader works diligently to abandon pride; the process of spiritual leadership gives paramount importance to being humble. During the initial struggles of the Mumbai community what gave members hope was to see the materially wealthy Hrishikesh Mafatlal, and his driver chanting and praying together in the temple, holding hands in kirtan. This is significant because many Indians are status conscious, and Mafatlal in the late 1980s was a household name in India. Such treatment of a menial driver as one’s own friend and brother by Mafatlal filled many people’s hearts with hope; Radhanath Swami says this convinced him then that spiritual leadership has future here because the principle of humility and unity is the foundation.

Amongst the brahmacharis, the renounced order, there are many scholars and PhDs staying at the Mumbai ashram; yet, all of them respect their leader who is a simple man from the small Indian town of Belgaum. Although he isn’t a great scholar, his goodness as a practising spiritualist, his love and compassion, has been recognized and he has emerged as a natural leader of the community.

 

Institution v/s family

At Bhaktivedanta Hospital, one of the outreach projects of the community, the director was requested to step down and be the head of the ailing spiritual care department. Without any hesitation, he immediately relinquished his high post, and this natural humility of the leader shocked many sceptics. The highly qualified doctors serving in the hospital take lunch with the housekeepers, and thus they maintain the spirit of simplicity and unity.

The principle for any spiritual community is ‘we are not an institution but a family’; the institution is important but it has the essential service of facilitating love and trust because ultimately, we are a family. This has always been the appeal, hope and prayer of Radhanath Swami.

 

Harmonizing our differences to protect each other

The Mumbai community has seen so much magic in terms of projects and success, yet the foundation of all of this has been the unifying principle of humility and cooperation. Radhanath Swami often quotes the fifteenth century apostle of love of God, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who taught that all wealth of the whole universe is not as valuable as one sincere spiritual practitioner. Spiritual leadership implores all to not lose sight of this vision.

Radhanath Swami offers invaluable wisdom, “Material life with all its glamour has no substance. As long as we allow false ego to rise in our hearts, we stand alone in this world and the temptations and fears of this world are beyond us. Therefore we need each other and we really need to harmonize our differences; only then nothing can break us.

“In the path of spirituality alone there is beauty, for it’s real. Let our family expand to millions and billions, but let’s never compromise on the love and care for each person as a soul, part and parcel, dear to God. In this mood let’s aspire to be the servant of servant of all.”

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About the Author

About the Author: A senior monk and a leader at the Radhagopinath Ashram, a monastery in Mumbai guided by Radhanath Swami, Vrajabihari Das is a board member of the CSV, a Council that provides spiritual vision to the Ashram. Also a prolific writer, he is a regular contributor to Back To Godhead, an international magazine on spirituality. And on the web, he blogs on krishnayoga.info and radhanath-swami.net Venugopal topped Mumbai University in International Finance during his Masters. He then did his MBA. Though a flourishing career awaited him, he chose to become a monk, so as to dedicate his life for the welfare of society. And sure enough, Venugopal today serves as a lifestyle counselor for hundreds in India. His spiritual wisdom and genuine compassion flows freely, irrespective of whether he is counseling, discoursing or writing. .

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There Are 15 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Jitendra Pardeshi says:

    Thank you Radhanath Swami Maharaj for such valuable lessons through practical illustrations from the flourishing community you have built on the principles of humility, tolerance & appreciation.

  2. Charusheela says:

    Practicing spiritual life actively and rendering services selflessly is the only thing by which we can get a growth from this material life to the spiritual planet.Thank you so much HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj to cultivate such an environment in which all are living as a family.

  3. kedar says:

    The principle for any spiritual community is ‘we are not an institution but a family’ Yes this is the dream of Prabhupad about Iskcon family and H.H.Radhanath Maharaj is fullfilling the same providing the great care & love to all.

  4. Arjun K Ramachandra says:

    Very heartening to note that more than ninety per cent of the original members of Sri Radha Gopinath community are still actively practicing spiritual life, and rendering services through various outreach projects initiated by the community. This is the real success of this project.

  5. Udisha says:

    It is indeed a miracle that such a big community is flourishing with love friendship and unity. It is a rare phenomena which goes to show that tolerance, appreciation and intensity of forgiveness that people possess for each other. We see nuclear families fighting over issues and separating in a fraction of time but this is a beautiful irony where we see over 8000 devotees living together as a family and executing their duties with clear purpose, peace and contentment.

  6. Vidya Patham says:

    This kind of humility and dedication is unheard of in most spiritual societies! Thank you for setting this kind of unprecedented example for all of us to follow.

  7. SAP Expert says:

    I really like the phrase ‘Harmonizing our differences to protect each other’. This phrase shows opposite natures coming together for a higher purpose. I really appreciate all your articles Vraj Vihari Prabhu under the guidance of Radhanath Swami.

    • venugopal acharya says:

      Dear SAP Expert
      i have noted all your comments carefully. i feel very encouraged… thanks a billion

  8. Ankit Patel says:

    Nice Article, giving the very foundation of humility, love, cooperation on which the success of the project depends

  9. vrushali says:

    “In the path of spirituality alone there is beauty, for its real. Let our family expand to millions and billions, but let’s never compromise on the love and care for each person as a soul, part and parcel, dear to God. In this mood let’s aspire to be the servant of servant of all.” Thank you for sharing these profound words by Radhanath swami!

  10. Piyush Singh says:

    HH Radhanath Swami shares the Wonderful and Essential leadership principles, which are so practical and equally important for any growing team or community. Many thanks for the post.

  11. Kalpana Kulkarni says:

    Very inspiring article. The success of any institution, be it spiritual or otherwise is based on humility, unity and cooperation.

  12. Kalpana Kulkarni says:

    Very interesting & inspiring! In the path of spirituality alone there is beauty, for it’s real – wonderful words!

  13. anna says:

    Many heartfelt thanks to Radhanath swami for building such a wonderful community.

  14. Meet Manik says:

    Simply Wonderful…..these things when actually applied can have a huge impact in

    our lives……

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