30TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF
THE SRI SRI RADHA RADHANATH TEMPLE OF UNDERSTANDING
MESSAGE OF SUPPORT
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
AND TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
DELIVERED ON HIS BEHALF
THE HON. MR NAREND SINGH MP
TREASURER GENERAL OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Chatsworth, Durban: 24 October 2015
President of the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple, Vibhu Caitanya dasa, and the Temple Management Board; Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness; esteemed guests and friends.
Let me immediately apologise for not being present this afternoon to celebrate with you the opening of the 30th anniversary festival of this Temple. Unfortunately, the date coincided with the elective conference of the IFP Women’s Brigade in KwaZulu Natal, where I was scheduled to speak. This is a tremendous pity, for I would have enjoyed sharing this moment as you look down memory lane, and celebrate all that lies ahead.
In my absence, however, I feel it appropriate that my support be conveyed by the Honourable Mr Narend Singh MP, for he was with me thirty years ago, on the 18th of October 1985, as we witnessed the opening of this Temple. He will know how profoundly affected I was by the beauty of this place, and how privileged I felt to speak as the guest of honour.
I was serving at that time as Chief Minister of the KwaZulu Government, President of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, and traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation. Already I had travelled extensively throughout the world and had enjoyed the privilege of visiting many temples, cathedrals and places of worship. But nothing had prepared me for the extravagant beauty of this, the largest Radha-Krishna temple in the southern hemisphere. I understood then why it had taken ten years for the devotees of Śrīla Prabhupāda to fulfil his request in building this Temple.
As beautiful as it is, however, this Temple was never intended to be a purely aesthetic expression of Krishna Consciousness. It was intended to be a place that drew people together, a place from which practical helps sprang from spiritual focus. In my experience, that has always been the character of the Hare Krishna Movement. Spirituality is expressed in educating, feeding and assisting those in need.
Our province benefitted from this tremendously during the most trying times of apartheid. Through a close collaboration between the Divine Life Society and my administration, for instance, we built many classrooms and educated South Africa’s most vulnerable children. I enjoyed a close friendship with Sri Swami Sahajananda, who was commended by Śrīla Prabhupāda for working conjointly to propagate Krishna Consciousness. Thus I have seen how spirituality is linked to practical service.
This same passion for serving is evident at the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple, where the Food For Life programme has provided sustenance for millions of impoverished people over the course of thirty years. In addition, the temple outreach programme has supported many individuals, and this has become a place of sanctuary, hope and learning.
I thank you for all that has been achieved and all that you are still doing for South Africa.
As we celebrate thirty years of this Temple, it is good to know that the focus of the Management Board is on spirituality as a catalyst for social cohesion. I fear that in the present political and economic climate, people are increasingly being divided by ideologies and separated by the lack of resources and opportunities.
Even when one looks at the intractable issue of fee increases at institutions of higher education, social division is clearly being exacerbated. All too easily the debate moves from the substance of the issue to become an ‘us-versus-them’ confrontation. We may not even choose sides, but are allocated a side by default depending on the colour of our skin or the size of our bank balance.
This is a tragedy in a democratic country that fought so fiercely to create a unified nation. As the challenges mount, we must take heed of the threat of social division and seek by all means a way towards cohesion. Spirituality may indeed be one of those ways, for when we refocus our minds away from our own rights and needs to consider something outside of ourselves, something greater than our own minds, we open the space to consider others. The basic human need for relationship will naturally lead us to harmony.
With these few thoughts, I wish you a wonderful celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple.
I thank you.