Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American in the US Congress, spoke about Karma Yoga and the central message of the Bhagavad Gita while addressing a large gathering during the just concluded 5th annual World Hindu Economic Forum held at Los Angeles, USA.
Ms. Gabbard said that selflessly serving others is at the heart of Karma Yoga, and at the heart of the spiritual principle taught in the Bhagavad Gita which she called ‘the great gift Bharat has provided to the world – the words spoken by Bhagwan Krishna to Arjuna’.
She said that in the Bhagavad Gita we learn about the discovery of our real identity, our eternal function and the source of happiness – our true identity being that each one of us is spiritual in nature, part and parcel of God; our natural function is to engage in God’s loving service; and the service of all of mankind is where we find true happiness.
Watch her complete speech at the 5th World Hindu Economic Forum –
Expounding on Karma Yoga, she said ‘Karma’ means action and ‘Yoga’ is union with God – Karma Yoga is very relevant in our everyday lives no matter our profession. It guides us to make our actions an offering, using our skills, knowledge and resources in the service of God, and working towards the physical, spiritual and mental well being of others.
Sharing from her practice of Karma Yoga, she said it has motivated what she has done and what she continues to do in her life – it has taught her to view success differently from an average businessperson. Success is not just about getting rich; wealth, titles and social status are superficial. A misguided view of success by those in power can have dangerous consequences. She said that many of the social challenges we face are rooted in this lack of understanding of our true identity – and basic Hindu principles provide this understanding of our true purpose in life.
She urged leaders in every sector to be motivated by the desire to be of service to others. It is important to develop the attitude of a true Karma Yogi practitioner – to live to serve and not to be served. A CEO should be willing to sacrifice for the sake of his team, and a similar attitude is required of those in Government, health care, law enforcement, military etc. We cannot have a peaceful, prosperous society if people are greedy and envious.
Ms. Gabbard, who is a United States Representative from Hawaii, also explained the deeper meaning of ‘Aloha’ – a beautiful Hawaiian word often used to say hello and goodbye. Greeting someone ‘Aloha’ is saying, ‘I am coming to you with an open heart, with love’; it is recognition of our interconnectedness, that we are all eternal souls and part of one family. This spirit of Aloha is important at a time when we are seeing such divisiveness, bigotry, fear and persecution around the world, she said.
She asked everyone to question how could they, as individuals and collectively, contribute to the development of a compassionate, caring society and world? The answer lies in Karma Yoga, in Aloha, in respect & love – in the teachings we find in the Bhagavad Gita, that all of our actions in life are neutral, it is the motivation and purpose of those actions which turns them into good or bad actions. If we apply these principles of Karma Yoga, then we can begin to solve some of the most challenging issues we face today, she said, concluding her address with ‘Jai Sri Krishna’.
Pays Tribute to Bharatiya Americans, Pitches for Stronger US-Bharat Ties
Ms. Gabbard said that the World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF) brings together great minds and successful people in business from a wide variety of professions and industries around the world. She lauded the delegates of WHEF 2016 @ Los Angeles as examples of the great contributions and leadership that Bharatiya Americans had provided in the United States and around the world.
She placed a bid for a future World Hindu Economic Forum to be hosted in the state of Hawaii. Echoing US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Roye who addressed the forum before her, she said that, “Never more than now has there been such interest and opportunity and excitement around the great potential that exists between Bharat and America.”
Tulsi Gabbard also announced that a sister state partnership between her home state of Hawaii in US and the state of Goa in Bharat would soon be formalized.
She spoke about her visit to Bharat a couple of years ago at the prompting of PM Modi, and the warm welcome she received from everyone in the 7 different cities of Bharat she visited. She was struck by the sense of spirituality in the people of Bharat.
Ms. Gabbard said that we are gathered here at the WHEF conference as Hindus, but this is not about religion – it is about spirituality, compassion for others, tolerance, humility..things we find in each other no matter our race, religion, nationality.
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