During my London visit, I stayed for nearly ten days at the house of Sunderanand P who is a powerhouse of energy. He is one of UK’s leading surgeons in his area of specialization and had operated HH Radhanath Maharaj – that’s how he became introduced seriously to Krishna consciousness. He is one of the mentors and managers of the Bhaktivedanta Manor and he uses my writings and talks in his outreach. We bonded very well during my stay as he drove me to and fro for most of my evening programs.
His son Shyam Gopal P is one of the pioneers of the Pandava Sena and he efficiently coordinated my various programs in London. His daughter Neha Mataji, a Cambridge post-graduate in Economics, is the engine powering the RISE app that gives contemporary presentations of bhakti wisdom. For that app, I recorded a course on “Science, Spirituality and Life’s Big Questions,” focusing primarily on the question of identity with the related questions of emotions and free will.
At the College of Vedic Studies, Bhaktivedanta Manor, London, I gave two seminars:
Although I have spoken on Karna many times and within the devotee community I received much appreciation, many of those same answers when posted on public forums such as quora.com elicited much anger, animosity and even abuse. So, rather than continue with a presentation that alienated many, I decided to take a more sympathetic approach, acknowledging that Karna was grievously hurt, and then stressing that in instigating the public dishonouring of Draupadi, he had lost all sense of proportion and let his vengefulness become indefensibly excessive. I found the response to this angle so much more positive that if I ever write on Karna and the Mahabharata, I will be taking this angle.
- Destiny – Do we make it or does it make us?
This seminar attracted so many last moment registrations that the space in the seminar hall proved to be inadequate and devotees ended up sitting on the floor. I explained diagrammatically the various kinds of karma – prarabdha (manifest), aprarabdha (about to be manifested) sanchita (accumulated) and kriyaman (ongoing) as well as the various levels of causation – immediate, intermediate and ultimate. The point of how material knowledge and spiritual knowledge address these different levels of causation in different ways resonated with the audience. After the session, we had some of the deepest and the most practical questions of my whole tour, with questions ranging from the idea of a pre-ordained marital partner to the interplay of medicine and science with destiny.
This article is part of a series of articles about the recent Western tour. Full article can be read here.