By Sri Radharamana dasa
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami continued to engulf Headquarter corporations in London with the spiritual wisdom of Lord Rama in commemoration of Diwali. On 26th October, 2016, HSBC invited His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami to join over 200 Bankers and Executives at its Headquarters in Canary Wharf, London to make relevant the teachings of Lord Rama for one of the largest corporations on the planet.
Even after 150 years, HSBC continues to provide multinational banking and financial services to over 60 million customers. With total assets of USD 2.67 trillion, HSBC has approximately 6,000 offices serviced by over 266,000 employees in 71 countries and territories across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America. As of 2014, HSBC was the world’s sixth-largest corporation according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine.
The central question explored at the event revolved around what wisdom from the Vedic philosophical tradition can be used to provoke thought in the workplace to positively impact the life of millions. In doing so, the event focused on the topic ‘Being At Our Best.’ While lamps are used in the festival to encourage one on a journey of darkness to light, ‘Being At Your Best’ is central to achieving this virtue. The story of Diwali illustrates the need to be inwardly and outwardly balanced to enable satisfaction of the self. While Diwali is an epic of trials and tribulations, the pastimes of Sita & Rama demonstrates how to remain peaceful amidst the volatility of life, and in doing so become healthy, wealthy and wise. Diwali prompts respect and responsibility towards both others and oneself in carrying out prescribed duties at work and in wider life.
Following a traditional Bharat Natyam performance by Aiswarya Iswari devi dasi, the event opened with an HSBC Executive, Nick Winsor who shared insights on the years he spent working in India. In striving to be ‘At Our Best’ for customers and colleagues, Mr Winsor explained how it can be easy to overlook our own needs, and especially spiritual needs. To help colleagues achieve their professional and personal ambitions, Mr Winsor introduced a well-being programme that focused on health, wellness, finances, lifestyle, progression, values and culture. Mr Winsor shared his realisation on the above so that employees can learn how to be at their best for themselves, their family and the wider community.
Ramesh Parmar, Chief Financial Officer for HBC Global FX & Commodities joined His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami for a panel discussion. His Holiness detailed what bankers can learn from the story of Lord Rama in viewing challenges; how to remain ‘At Your Best’ in volatile environments; why its important to be healthy, wealthy and wise in order to achieve satisfaction and peace; what spiritual yogic principles can be used to be more meditative as we carry out our duties and how to remediate and establish a culture within to cultivate an attitude of holistic responsibility by including the Supreme Personality of Godhead in our lives.
His Holiness expressed how the message of Diwali is relevant to the religious, non-religious, culturally diverse and even financial markets through the example of avoiding immoral monetary exploitation. Despite the number of conflicts Rama faced before successfully returning home to initiate Diwali, he never focused on his triumphs and victories. But rather, Rama, the hero of Diwali, asks us to focus on the inherent goodness in all and through his pastimes illustrates the honour of words, ethics to family, loyalty to his partner, equality to friend and enemy, dispassion from greed and love to all walks of life regardless of man or animal. He never allowed anger and revenge to take control but rather through stability of mind and attachment to love gained affection from all. His wife Sita represented the beauty of the world, simplicity, chastity and strength despite being in the most awkward circumstances kidnapped far from her beloved. She also illustrated compassion, forgiveness and patience for liberation depicting the highest qualities of strength. Diwali clearly celebrates the equality of strengths in both man and woman. Sita never once developed hatred for Ravana but felt pity for his lust. She set an example on how to despise the sin and not the sinner.
The representation of irresponsible wealth management through the greed and unethical means of Ravana illustrates the unfortunate impacts on the world. While personifying anger, greed, lust, envy and violence, Ravana eventually succumbed to the overpowering virtues of Rama. After his defeat, Rama did not usurp the wealth of Ravana but let it remain with the people of Sri Lanka after coronating a local inhabitant as the successor. Rama returned home to only manage the ancestral state treasury for his subjects. He himself always lived simply and equally shared the suffering of his subjects. Any concerns from his people were his concern and their resolutions were always his prime duty. Many sites visited by Rama remain to this day as places of pilgrimage for aspirants.
His Holiness concluded the event by scientifically explaining how the soul encaged within the temporary body can develop a relationship with God residing in the core of our hearts. Through surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, described also as the King of Kings, one can learn how to recognise their superior devotional nature and connect with the Lord of our hearts. Through the performance of devotional service, the living entity gradually awakens the dormant propensity to surrender whole heartedly to God and realise the spiritual reality far beyond the material condition of life. The very name Rama signifies ever-lasting bliss experienced by one who acknowledges and surrenders their independence to be an instrument in the hands of God, and thereby help to improve the world around us in whatever we do.
Event organiser and HSBC host Surinder Shandilya commented: “The story of Lord Rama’s journey is not just a ritualistic annual festival. The pastimes recorded in the Ramayana, one of the largest and oldest Sanskrit literatures, contain ancient principles of righteous conduct to raise one’s consciousness beyond the material. Lord Rama laid the path of righteousness for all people in all times and place by His lifelong example, and to this day through His dedicated followers. Amongst us here tonight, we have a resplendent custodian of those much needed teachings made relevant to one of the largest corporations in the world. His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami has enlightened and paved the way for unlimited people to act in such a way so as to create prosperity and peace in all that we do now, and that too for a spiritual destination. It has been an absolute honour to host a guest speaker who lives by the teachings which we all aspire to follow.”