Guru Swami Vigyananand at WHEF Summit

The Hindu society always generated people that were determined and dedicated toward reaching success, but not forgetting to give something back to their community. Thus, today, it is easy to find a person belonging to the Hindu community that has an incredible professional life in a wide variety of domains and in many countries of the world, which is the most concluding evidence that Hindus have sufficient willpower to reach their goals. And when they do so, they will also embark on a mission to teach others to do the same and contribute this way to the prosperity of the society in which they live.

If we are to name two highly successful and influential Hindus, we have to mention Guru Swami Vigyananand, who is the founder and global chairman of the World Hindu Economic Forum or WHEF, and Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman with an incredible career. These two had the chance to meet for the second time in their entire lives at the annual WHEF that took place in Los Angeles last year, which was the 5th forum of this kind since the foundation of WHEF.

Hundreds of Indian American and NRI professionals attended the event at the Grand Ballroom of Orange County’s Hotel Irvine, between the 18th and 20th of November. This only shows just how important the forum is in the global Hindu society and how rapidly it managed to get their attention, bringing them together with the purpose of reaching one single goal.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard held an impressive and inspiring speech on “Finding Happiness and Success Through Karma Yoga”, using the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi to motivate people to become better at what they are doing and at providing their contribution to making the world a much better place. According to Gandhi, the best way for a person to find its true self is by losing oneself in servicing others.

Thus, reaching your true purpose and leading the life you dream for yourself is not a selfish mission. It involves other as well, others that should be enriched by your presence in their lives. As Tulsi said, “Like Gandhi, I believe that we cannot overcome the divisive challenges facing our communities, countries, and the world if we do not recognize and respect all others as children of God, despite our differences of nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, and so forth.”

She also did not miss the chance to talk about a topic that is very close to her heart and that is the subject of “servant-leadership”. Her words on this matter were “For you, as executives and renowned businessmen and women, and for me as a person in political life, it is especially important to make sure that we never forget that we are servants of God and the people, not the masters. Sometimes when people get into positions of power, they forget who they are.

But if every day you remember God and remember your relationship with Him, that you’re His servant and not the master, then you won’t get swept away by the trappings of power. This is the attitude of a karma yoga practitioner:  I live to serve—not be served.” True leaders are the ones that guide and help others to grow, develop, and exceed their limits, for the benefit of the entire community, and not the ones that send out commands and use power and intimidation to have their way. Power can be very tempting and it has its dark sides as well, this is why the presence of God in all this is necessary, so we can remain loyal to our mission and purpose in this world.

So, it is more than obvious that Tulsi did not choose her career in politics for the purpose of reaching power, but actually to put herself in the service of others. As a congresswoman, she listens to what the people have to say, respectfully and unbiased, so she can be their voice in the decisional process that concerns the well-being of their society. Her career was also something that did not come by chance. Tulsi Gabbard was always attracted by public service, manifesting this particular interest from a very early age.

Having Polynesian-Caucasian roots and living most of her life in Hawai’i, she was the daughter of State Senator Mike Gabbard, growing up in an environment where the priorities of others were more important. She also learned about what it means to start, develop, and maintain a small business the hard way, working long hours for the benefit of the family’s businesses. Her experiences in the business domain made her pursue a degree in International Business, which she acquired at the Hawai`i Pacific University. It is worth mentioning that Tulsi was the youngest person that was ever elected to the Hawai’i State Legislature, an event that happened in 2002 when she was only 21 years old.

She was efficient and hardworking, which made people appreciate and admire her, favoring this election without a precedent. In less than a year after her election, Tulsi joined the National Guard, being shipped to basic military training. In 2004, when her Brigade was called to serve in Iraq, she left her position in the State House of Representatives and volunteered to be deployed in this mission. Thus, in spite of the fact that she was the shiest child of the family, being afraid of picking up the phone and talking to a stranger, Tulsi understood that there is a bigger purpose out there and that she could contribute by putting herself in the service of others.

The speech offered by Guru Swami Vigyananand at the event was also highly important and highlighted some of the current issues connected with wealth. He talked about dismantling the many stereotypes related to wealth creation and the role of wealth in Hindu dharma, saying that “We must break free from the shackles of individual brilliantness and graduate to collective success.” In other words, those that managed to reach wealth and success should stop thinking about their individual wellbeing only and use their knowledge and experience toward the creation of a more prosperous and wealthy society.

He also mentioned the work done by WHEF in creating an ecosystem to help Hindu business flourish locally and globally by promoting a business networking platform. The truth is that the purpose behind WHEF is bigger than just offering support to those that wish to lead a more fruitful life, as it happens in the case of many organizations of the kind, using an approach based on the foundational wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita that states “Think in future, for the future”. In other words, it is about a step-by-step strategy towards creating “That, which sustains”.

What is the WHEF looking to obtain? The end goal of this organization is to generate surplus wealth and make the present society prosperous. The Bhagavad Gita is respected by many spiritual master, respected gurus and yoga masters around the world, so it makes sense for it to be seen as vital in the process of reaching the desired outcome. The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita directly come from God through a disciple line of self-realized bonafide spiritual master.

Without keeping God present in our minds, it would be hard to maintain a balance between our spirituality and the material world, especially when looking to achieve wealth. What WHEF does is to propagate the wisdom of their ancestors, who said: “Create wealth with 100 hands and share it with 1000 hands”. If we are to put this statement in another form, Hindus knew how to achieve wealth, also being willing to share their knowledge for free, so that everybody else could benefit from the same fortunate faith.

Just how much did the Hindus contribute to the improvement of the world’s economy? According to statistics, starting with the 1st century and until the 15th century, Hindus contributed in a proportion of 35 to 49% to the economy of the world, so yes, it is definitely worth listening to them. What happened with the wealth of the Hindu civilization after the 15th century? The Islamic invasion, colonial rule, and the Industrial Revolution, they all took a toll on the wealthy Hindu world.

But, today, the Hindus are more than ever determined to restore their former glory from an economic point of view. Yet again, they won’t do it for their benefit alone, but by joining forces to create a better tomorrow. Considering that the next WHEF event will take place between the 17th and 19th November in Nairobi, Kenya, we will have to see what the most financially successful Hindu persons have prepared for getting one step closer to this common goal.