Gandhi Smriti Peace and Nonviolence Lecture Series


Invest in the energy of empathy love and kindness: Gaur Gopal Das
“Decide to help someone. Don't they say everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about? Be kind, be helpful. Invest in the energy of empathy, love and kindness and people around you and you'll receive the same back when you need it the most”. This was international motivational speaker and author of several books representing the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, Swami Gaur Gopal Das, delivering the ‘Gandhi Smriti Peace and Nonviolence Lecture’ on June 21, 2021 on ‘Essence of Human Interconnectedness and Empathy’.
Organized in virtual mode by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mohatsav, celebrating the 75th year of India’s Independence, Swami Gaur Gopal Das sent a note of advice when he said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful . . . that’s what matters to me.’
Speaking about change that has to come from within, he said, “We want to change the world outside, but, we don’t want to change inside. Unless we change from inside, we cannot change anything outside. For the world to change, we have to change our inside world. Unless the change is brought inside, it is extremely difficult or impossible to change the world outside”.
He further advised: “Watch your thoughts, they turn into words. Watch your words, they turn into actions. Watch your actions, they turn into habits. Watch your habits, they turn into character. Watch your character; it turns into your destiny. But it all begins with a thought. It all begins inside, with our values and belief system. Therefore, it is so important to work on our thoughts, our values that are required to bring peace empathy and interconnectedness around us and the human society today”.
“If you have to change the condition of the world today we have to change the direction of our thinking, our value and belief systems and this is precisely what Gandhiji had said: ‘Be the change…’. If we are the catalyst, we change ourselves. And for this we have to change our inside”.
Through various examples, he went on to describe the necessity of developing interconnectedness and peace. “The world, as well as the society is made up of individuals and human beings and only when human beings are in place, will the world be in place. Only if human beings are together will the world be together. Only if the human beings have the right values, right thought, right beliefs, can we bring in peace, human interconnectedness and empathy.”
He further added, “We are called the humankind. And the problem today is both are missing in the world sometimes. From the word ‘humankind’, people don’t behave like human, and there’s no kindness. We must be human and act like human. That is when there is interconnectedness. Also when there is kindness, there is a possibility of empathy”.
He continued, “We are human first before being anything else. We are humans first – man or woman later. Our first identity is that we are human beings. Every other identification in terms of our race, religion, gender, etc., comes later. For us to have interconnectedness and unite all diverse sections, it his humanity which is born and which can transcends every other identification and connects all of us vasudaiva kutumbhakam (world is one family)”.
He also shared his concept of religion which is supposed to bring people closer to one another, but was concerned of such diversions and thus emphasized the need for spiritual understanding. He said, “When we are on a higher level of spiritual understanding, we all unite together as one force. Then we are all interconnected. That is called humanity. Moreover when we understand that we are human beings first, we melt away all boundaries and start connecting on the platform of humanity”.
“We are happy to celebrate different faith, diversity, different cultures; happy to celebrate differences. We are happy to celebrate different opinions; we are happy to celebrate the richness, the depth and the beauty of variety of culture and traditions that exists around us. We are then what the ancient scriptures have said Amritasya Putraha. We are all the sons and daughters and children of the same one source. And, therefore, I really do not think there is any need to fight, divide and create probable walls. For, we are meant to build bridges, and relive by the principles of Mahatma Gandhi who said that ‘the best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others’ ”.
Speaking about the pain, struggle and hardships that people in general go through, Swami Gaur Gopal Das emphasized on developing a feeling of empathy towards others. “Empathy is about feeling the pain of others. It is about trying to understand the struggles that they go through. It is about trying to put ourselves in their shoes and find what the current situation is doing to them”.
Singing the hymn Vaishnava Jana Tau, Swami Gaur Gopal Das reiterated the message of service which Mahatma Gandhi exemplified when he who stood along with the sufferings of others and comforted and healed the grieving soul. “A Vaisnava is para-dukha-dukhi. In other words, he has no personal troubles, but he is very unhappy to see others in trouble”, he said.
He also underlined:, “Often, people can display selflessness outside their home. People may help out in their community, or at temples or schools, and some may even make sure that they get a selfie to announce to the world that they have helped. But at home, they may not express the same service mentality. I believe that selflessness starts at home; with the ones we love the most. Are we doing what we can to help them? Are we there for them to help them physically as well as emotionally? A genuine act of service unites everybody”.
The spiritual enlightener while talking on selflessness in the world today shared his ideas that, “We find the world is filled with takers who simply think about themselves, about their way of living; about how we can make it and simply think about ‘my life’ ‘my way’, ‘my stuff’. They call the takers. But men across the globe from different communities that I travel all over the world to are slowly turning from being takers to givers. For, takers can eat well, but givers can sleep well. Takers can have a great time; givers can have a great life, because there is satisfaction and you can multiply contentment. For in the art of giving, there's something incredible with somehow nothing in the world, can buy satisfaction”.
“We must find positivity in the bleakest situations and live by the principle of gratitude”, he emphasized, adding, “We need to live our life by design gratitude. Gratitude, for what we have received and thereby sharing with those who are unfortunate and sharing with those who need that touch is incredible because that brings tremendous satisfaction. There is a need to go beyond the world of me and I in the centre”, he concluded.
Earlier, Shri Laxmi Dass, Vice President Harijan Sevak Sangh and Executive Member GSDS delivered the welcome address in which he underlined the need for peace and nonviolence and said that it cannot be achieved in one goal. “Small or big, effort for peace, kindness and empathy has to be a continuous process”.
Shri Dipanker Shri Gyan, Director GSDS proposed the vote of thanks. The lecture was attended by people from different sections of the society, students and youth. Also attending the lecture were Gandhian scholars and thinkers. Some of them included: Dr. B P Singh, former Governor of Sikkim; Dr. A K Merchant, Trustee, Sarvodaya International Chapter, Delhi, Dr. Rita Chauhan, Associate Professor from IGNOU and others.
A poem entitled “Hug the Moment” written by Smt. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, former V.C. GSDS and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi was also read out on the occasion by Rajdeep Pathak, the coordinator of the programme.
The programme concluded with the recitation of Shanti Mantra (prayer for universal peace) by Swami Gaur Gopal Das.