36.Memorandum submitted by the Swaminarayan
Further to your invitation to make representations
to the Home Affairs Committee in response to baseless allegations
made by Mr. Jagdeesh Singh, we would like to state the following:
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan
Sanstha (BAPS), also known as The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission (The
Mission), is a registered charity in the UK (number 273425). The
Mission runs the Hindu temple, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (widely
known as the "Neasden Temple"), situated at Brentfield
Road, Neasden NW10.
The Neasden Temple is exclusively used by the
Mission for its religious charitable purposes. It is one of the
most prominent Hindu temples in the United Kingdom and the focal
point of worship for Hindus in the UK and Europe. Its very existence
is a beautiful, living monument to the Hindu principles of peace
and harmony. The temple makes a major contribution to community
life, and the trustees and devotees are committed to peace, tolerance
and love of humankind; and they are respected by people of all
faiths and none.
The Neasden Temple is an independent Non-Governmental
Organisation (NGO) and has no political affiliations in any way,
shape or form and is exclusively religious. No other organisation
other than The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission and its associated bodies,
have ever organised, operated from, been based at or conducted
any activity from Neasden Temple, let alone the Vishwa Hindu Parishad
(VHP) or any other organisation whatsoever.
The Hindu community is one of the most peaceful
and law abiding in the country. We do not countenance violence
of any kind whatsoever. And it is a slur to suggest otherwise.
Therefore, the allegations by Mr Singh have caused profound offence
to the wider Hindu community in the UK and are irresponsible,
inflammatory and incorrect. It would be a tragic injustice that
your witness should have sought to use the committee as a vehicle
to undermine community relations in this way. You will no doubt
agree that these comments rather than helping inter-community
relations only serve to do the opposite. Left unchallenged, the
minutes of evidence, on the Committee's website could, albeit
erroneously, lend credence to such falsehood.
To begin to understand exactly how offensive
such baseless lies are to inter-community relations it is important
to note that recently the mother Temple of the Neasden Temple,
Akshardham in Gandhinagar, India was itself the target of an appalling
terrorist attack in which some 33 innocent lives were lost including
a sadhu and very young children. The Gujarat riots had just about
abated and a small spark was all that was needed to re-light the
fuse that could turn Gujarat into a burning inferno. However,
due to the composed and measured appeal by His Holiness Pramukh
Swami Maharaj, the Spiritual Master of the Neasden Temple, to
pray for peace and to do nothing that might incite retaliatory
violence or conflict in any way, this was averted. In fact, delegations
of Muslim elders came to His Holiness to pay their respects and
thank him for his message of peace, which resulted in peace throughout
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (also known as the
Swaminarayan Hindu Mission in the UK) is a socio-spiritual, charitable
organisation with an international network of over 8,100 centres,
700 learned sadhus, a million members and 55,000 volunteers performing
162 humanitarian activities. It is an NGO in Consultative Status
with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
BAPS promotes care for education, environment,
health, de-addiction, disaster management, family values, serving
the needy, tribal and rural welfare, transmission of traditional
and cultural awareness, Youth Development and curbing of social
ills like violence and crime. It creates a society with active
volunteers serving skilfully and selflessly and spreading the
message of socio-spiritual harmony.
The organisation opens up new horizons of a
meaningful better life, creating a climate of peace and purity,
harmony and understanding through cultural, moral and spiritual
values, that inspire to serve God and humanity.
These endeavours are a saga of sacrifice, of
selfless service and boundless dedication, of continuous combined
efforts of countless people; of people who have risen above the
narrow confines of caste, creed, colour, sex and nationality and
who live a life free from crime, aggression and addictions.
The organisation is the inspiration of His Holiness
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Lord Swaminarayan
and the present Spiritual Leader of BAPS.
His compassion for humanity, deep concern for
its problems and conscious efforts to alleviate them, cure conflicts
and promote peace in this world have touched many world religious
and national leaders. However, most important is his quiet, undisturbed
love for God, which rises beyond all borders of nation, religion
and race. This makes him universally revered and respected.
He has been honoured by the House of Commons
and the Canadian Parliament and has been given the Freedom of
the City by no less than 40 cities in the United States of America.
Additionally, he was named by the Guinness World Records 2001
as one of twenty most influential people in the world.
Various international leaders including HRH
The Prince of Wales, Rt Hon John Major (then Prime Minister),
Rt Hon Tony Blair (then Leader of HM Opposition) and Sir Richard
Branson have visited the Neasden Temple, and confirm the peaceful
nature of the Mission.
We would like to thank you for giving us this
opportunity to hopefully redress the utterly false and baseless
allegations by Mr Singh.
Mr Jitu Patel
The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission
6 December 2004