As mentioned here last month, On Saturday afternoon, 7 July, H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje and his entourage from the East and West, including representatives of of Diamond Way Buddhism UK and Dechen, participated in an important interfaith event. They were received in BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple, located in Neasden, north London. It is dedicated to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, whose fifth spiritual successor, H.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj, is also the Mandir’s creator.
Gyalwa Karmapa was given a traditional welcome by two of the resident sadhus, Sadhu Satyavratdas and Sadhu Paramtattvadas. This involved the chanting of the shanti path – a traditional Vedic prayer in Sanskrit for World Peace, the tying of a nada chadhi to the right wrist – a symbol of friendship, and the applying of a vermilion red mark to the forehead.
H.H. Karmapa, Lama Tsultrim Namgyal and Lama Trinley then proceeded with Sadhu Paramtattvadas for a tour of the Mandir. H.H. Karmapa’s entourage followed closely, guided by highly knowledgeable representatives of the Mandir. The Mandir is a masterpiece of Indian stonework and craftsmanship, replete with its towering white pinnacles, smooth domes and intricate marble pillars, all based on ancient Vedic principles of art and architecture.
After touring the Mandir, H.H. Karmapa proceeded to the Abhishek Mandap to perform an abhishek. The abhishek is the ritual bathing of the sacred image of Bhagwan Swaminarayan with sanctified water to the chanting of prayers for world peace. This was followed by a viewing of the exhibition entitled Understanding Hinduism, after which members of the group proceeded to the monks residential area via the Haveli Prayer Hall for a meeting.
H.H. Karmapa and members of his entourage including representatives of Diamond Way Buddhism UK and Dechen then met with Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami, a senior sadhu from India, as well as a group of sadhus from the Mandir and entered into interfaith dialogue. The meeting was a wonderful exchange in which the sadhus and Gyalwa Karmapa discussed many issues such as how to engage with youth and ensure spiritual values are passed on, as well as the profound understanding of the word “guru” in ancient Indian traditions. Finally, Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami and Gyalwa Karmapa exchanged gifts, and Gyalwa Karmapa and his entourage departed having made new friends, and looking forward to further enriching exchanges in future.