London, August 16
Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday that his Hindu faith guides him in every aspect of his life and gives him the courage to do the best as the Prime Minister of Britain.
During a visit to the ongoing ‘Ram Katha’ being conducted by spiritual leader Morari Bapu at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister highlighted the significance of the event coinciding with India’s Independence Day.
“Bapu, I am here today not as a Prime Minister, but as a Hindu,” said Sunak, opening his address at the gathering.
“For me, faith is very personal. It guides me in every aspect of my life. Being Prime Minister is a great honour, but it is not an easy job. There are difficult decisions to make, hard choices to confront and our faith gives me courage, strength, and resilience to do the best that I can for our country,” he said.
The 43-year-old leader shared the special moment when he first lit Diwali diyas outside No. 11 Downing Street as the first British Indian Chancellor in 2020.
Pointing to a large golden image of Lord Hanuman as the backdrop to Morari Bapu’s Ram Katha, the British prime minister said it reminded him of how a “golden Ganesha sits gleefully on my desk at 10 Downing Street”.
“It is a constant reminder to me about listening and reflecting on issues before acting,” he shared.
Sunak, just back from a family holiday in the US with his wife Akshata Murty and children Krishna and Anoushka, said he was proud to be British and Hindu as he reflected upon his childhood years in Southampton where he often visited his neighbourhood temple with family.
“Growing up, I have very fond memories of attending our local mandir in Southampton. My parents and family would organise havans, pujas, aartis; afterwards, I would help serve lunch and prasad with my brother and sister and cousins,” said Sunak.
“Our values and what I see Bapu does each day of his life are the values of selfless service, devotion and keeping faith. But perhaps the greatest value is duty or sewa, as we know it. These Hindu values are very much shared British values,” he noted.
Referencing his family’s immigrant history, Sunak noted how many among the hundreds gathered at the Katha had parents and grandparents who came to the UK with very little from India and East Africa and worked their way up to give his generation the greatest opportunities ever.
“Today, I want to say thank you to the generation who worked day and night for our education and our today… now is the time for our generation to give back,” he said.
“I leave here today remembering the ‘Ramayana’ that Bapu speaks on, but also the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. And for me, Lord Ram will always be an inspirational figure to face life’s challenges with courage, to govern with humility and to work selflessly,” he added.
He concluded his address with the words ‘Jai Siya Ram’ and went on to participate in an aarti on stage, with Morari Bapu invoking the blessings of Lord Hanuman, seeking “boundless strength” to facilitate his service to the people of Britain.
Earlier on Tuesday, the spiritual leader was joined by British Indian peer Lord Dolar Popat to celebrate India’s Independence Day with a flag hoisting at the University of Cambridge.
The spiritual leader commended Sunak’s gesture of offering food as prasad to 50-100 volunteers before attending the event, highlighting its alignment with intrinsic Indian traditions.
While the UK Prime Minister typically refrains from accepting gifts, Morari Bapu presented him with a consecrated Shivlinga from the Somnath temple as a sacred offering from the Jyotirlinga Ram Katha Yatra.
His nine-day Ram Katha at Cambridge University commenced last Saturday with a reception by Barbados-born Sonita Alleyne, the 41st Master and the first woman to lead Jesus College since its inception in 1496, and will run until this weekend.