Young, Hindu, Oxonion – what it means to be Defender of the Faith

For my speech at Balliol College Oxford 29th January 1800 for Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies on Leadership:

You are young, at Oxford and Hindus – three privileges which bring immense responsibilities. Your University has produced more Prime Ministers and Presidents than any other single educational institution in the world. It has produced more Nobel Prize winners than most countries. Your faith is the oldest in the world. Men and women of your faith have given birth to the world’s largest democracy, seen the destruction of history’s largest Empire and of one of them, Einstein said, ‘Generations to come will scarcely believe one such as this of flesh and blood walked this earth.’

This heritage, together with your youth obliges you to lead lives of extraordinary achievement. Not for you the well trodden path, the 9 to 5. For you beckons sleepless nights, tireless toil, ambition beyond measure, a restless mind and a firey heart. But to what end? Not for its own sake.

You are the last line of defence of a faith that has lasted 5,000 years. Now, on your watch, what shall be its legacy? Earn this. Earn to be called an Oxonion. To be called a Hindu. Ensure, of all those left behind, in the land of your ancestors, none are ever more deserving than you of the honour.

There is a documentary. It is called ‘The Day My God Died’. It is filmed in Mumbai by the Hollywood actor, Tim Robbins. It is about child sex slavery. ‘The day my God died’. It is called this because the children believe their God is dead. You have to prove to them He is not dead. By your deeds you can prove the very existence of God. Imagine that. Imagine you can manifest God almighty himself. You are Oxonions – nothing less would be worthy of you. You are Hindus – nothing more can be more fulfilling. If we do not look after the souls of our people, be not surprised if their souls are lost to our faith as they lose their faith in us. We will only have ourselves to blame for the demise of our religion if we cannot do our duty. You are the last line. Do not let down your heritage, your ancestors. It’s your watch now. And we are all watching you.

There is in Oxford, the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Sadly unlike the other Oxford centres it lives week by week. I want you to see merit in help raise funds for it as once we lose this – then links to Oxford and a noble seat of learning will be gone forever. And Indian Universities are not doing this work. It’s difficult explaining the importance of academia – the vedas and the scriptures – of culture and why it goes hand in hand with the political and all other agendas. Without our foundations and underpinnings, without our philosophy – there may as well not be an India for she will then join the list of ordinary nations. She exists not as a home for people, she exists because of her heritage. Her ancestors only existed so her heritage may be preserved. This too is now is your burden, your duty. Your time, your place. And we are all watching you.

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