• Thursday, March 23, 2023

Tribute to Prince Philip

Praise for Prince Philip’s ‘service and duty’

Prince Philip being welcomed by Pujya Atmaswarup Swami at the Neasden Temple in July 1996.

By: Radhakrishna N S

SWAMIS at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, popularly known as the Neasden Temple, as well as devotees across the UK were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

We fondly recollect the Duke of Ed­inburgh’s visit to the Mandir on July 23, 1996. He was impressed with the devo­tion, the architecture and the volun­teers who had contributed to the mak­ing of the mandir, as well as His Holi­ness Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj, its founder and creator.

A year later, on October 15, 1997, during a visit to India, the Duke of Ed­inburgh visited the Swaminarayan Ak­shardham temple in Gandhinagar, Gu­jarat, and expressed a wish to meet HH Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

When HH Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited the UK later that year, he accepted an invitation from the Duke of Edinburgh to visit Buckingham Pal­ace. A meeting between them duly took place on November 10, 1997.

This special bond illustrates Prince Philip’s profound impact on interfaith dialogue, described by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Jus­tin Welby, as well as chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis in their respective trib­utes following the Prince’s passing.

In 1986, Prince Philip, then interna­tional president of the WWF [World Wide Fund], invited leaders of five of the major religions of the world – Bud­dhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism – to discuss how their faiths could help save the natural world. This historic meeting formulat­ed key statements by the five faiths outlining their distinctive traditions and approach to the care of nature.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark and Na­rendra Waghela, co-chairs of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, also under­lined Prince Philip’s profound impact on interfaith harmony: “Among Prince Philip’s many achievements through the years have been the consistent en­couragement of inter-faith dialogue. We express our great gratitude for the significant contribution of Prince Philip to the development of interfaith under­standing and cooperation for the com­mon good, one that is of ever-greater importance in our increasingly diverse society and interconnected world.”

The head swami at Neasden Temple, Yogvivekdas Swami, said, “On behalf of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and everyone here at BAPS Swamina­rayan Sanstha in the United Kingdom, we offer our deepest condolences and prayers to the royal family of the Unit­ed Kingdom. We shared and deeply valued his commitment to interfaith harmony and care for the environ­ment, and our special friendship will serve to further his noble work.

“His invaluable contribution in bringing religions together will leave a lasting legacy across the world. Our heartfelt prayers are with the royal family at this time.”

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