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Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami at Santiago de Compostela
on August 23, 2012
Religion Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Hinduism
Order Sannyasa
Born Richard Slavin
(1950-12-07) 7 December 1950
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Senior posting
Predecessor A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Religious career
Initiation Diksa–1973, Sannyasa–1982
Post GBC–1994
Radhanath Swami singing kirtan at Radha Gopinath Temple.

Radhanath Swami (born December 7, 1950)[1] is a guide, community builder, activist, and acclaimed author. He has been a Bhakti Yoga practitioner and spiritual teacher for more than 40 years.[2] He is the inspiration behind ISKCON's free mid-day meal for 1.2 million school kids across India,[3] and he has been instrumental in founding the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai.[4] He works largely from Mumbai in India, and travels extensively throughout Europe and America.[4][5] In the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), he serves as a member of the Governing Body Commission. Steven J. Rosen described Radhanath Swami as a "saintly person respected by the mass of ISKCON devotees today."[6]


  • Biography 1
  • Projects 2
    • Radha Gopinath Temple 2.1
    • Devotee Care and Relations Program 2.2
    • Annamrita 2.3
    • Bhaktivedanta Hospital 2.4
    • Govardhan Ecovillage 2.5
  • Writings 3
    • The Journey Home 3.1
    • Other Books 3.2
  • Global Outreach 4
  • See also 5
  • Footnotes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Born as Richard Slavin in a Jewish family,[7] he studied a number of religious paths such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. At the age of 19, he began traveling through Europe and the Middle-East, aiming for India and eventually settling for over a year in the Himalayas. He was living as a sannyasi (monk) in India when he first met with Krishna devotees near Delhi. Through contact with the devotees in Vrindavan, and after receiving the name Ratim Krishna from Swami Bon, Radhanath Swami began to focus exclusively on his spiritual path in Krishna Consciousness. In 1971, Radhanath Swami observed A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada during the Cross Maidan festival in Mumbai. After leaving India, Radhanath Swami returned to the United States, where he joined the New Vrindaban ISKCON farm community in West Virginia during July 1972. There he accepted initiation from Prabhupada in February 1973 receiving the name Radhanath das, later to receive the name Radhanath Swami, when he received sannyasa initiation from Kirtananda Swami in 1981.


Radha Gopinath Temple

Radha Gopinath Temple in Nov. 2004

Radhanath Swami has been instrumental in establishing the Radha Gopinath Temple,[8] which "expanded beyond anyone's wildest dreams"[9] and is particularly renowned for its "empowered preaching and teaching".[10] Also known as Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Mandir, the temple was founded in 1986 and joined ISKCON in 1994.[11][12] The temple is situated in the elite area of Bombay – Chowpatty Beach – and enjoys great popularity.[13] The congregation comprises several thousands of Bombay's elite.[14] A prerequisite for those wishing to become monks and live in the temple is completion of university education and at least one year of work experience.[13] The monks from the temple of Radha-Gopinath regularly conduct more than 30 cultural programs in University of Bombay.[15] Under Radhanath Swami's initiative, the temple and its congregation has been breeding ground for many successful projects.[16] The temple has in-house design studio and embroidery unit, where artisans meticulously work with clockwork precision, following briefs by designers, to dress up the deities in the choicest of regal attires.[17]

Devotee Care and Relations Program

Based on the Hare Krishna ideology, Radhanath Swami designed the Devotee Care Program in Radha Gopinath Temple, which eventually led ISKCON to emphasize the need for such a program globally.[18] In Radha Gopinath Temple at Mumbai, the program spans diverse aspects such as cultural education and school for children, an orphanage, youth preaching, marriage board, care for monks as well as the elderly, counselling for the householders, credit organization, hospital, farm, annual pilgrimages, drama festivals and ISKCON Food Relief Foundation.[19]


Launched in 2004, [30] Lifebuoy National Child Health Award 2012 for "Exemplary work in promoting Nutrition",[31] PP Mohan Shahani Trophy for the "Best Club Partner NGO" by Rotary Club,[32] and Indian Development Foundation's 2012 "Best Partner Award".[33]

Bhaktivedanta Hospital

Emerging from the Radha Gopinath Temple congregation, the Bhaktivedanta Hospital has become a flagship center for holistic health and spiritual care in Mumbai.[16] What started as a dream to provide quality healthcare at affordable cost by a few fresh medical graduates way back in 1986, transformed in the present-day state-of-the-art 150-bed multi-speciality hospital by Sri Chaitanya Welfare Charitable Trust.[34] As a tribute to ISKCON founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and by the inspiration of Radhanath Swami, it essentially functions as a "not-for-profit" institution with the motto of "Serving in Devotion".[35][36]

In the early days, the doctors conducted medical camps in various areas in and around Maharashtra. These served the medically deprived and needy.[35] Years of dedicated service to thousands of patients led to the launch of 7-bed ‘Sri Chaitanya Clinic’ (or Bhaktivedanta Clinic) in Mira Road, Mumbai in 1992,[35][37] which eventually led to establishing the 60-bed Bhaktivedanta Hospital in 1998.[38]

Though closed in 2003 due to a labour dispute, it reopened in August 2004 under a different trust.[39][40] As of 2014, it also includes four ultramodern operation theaters, a 16-bed ICU,[34] 120 consulting specialists and 360 medical and paramedical staff – about half of which are initiated Hare Krishna followers.[14]

The hospital also houses an Ayurveda, Yoga and Rehabilitation Center as well as an exclusive department on Spiritual Care.[38] On the educational front, it includes Institute of Nursing Education, Institute of Paramedical Science and a Certificate Course for Spiritual Care in Nursing.[41] The Bhaktivedanta Cancer Institute, Eye Care/Vision Center, Urology Center and Center of excellence in Heart Care enhance the breadth of services offered.[38] The hospital also has a special team for counselling patients and an impressive palliative care unit.[42]

Community services form one of the core pillars of the hospital, which it extensively pursues. It has medically-equipped mobile vans to attend to eye care, cancer and maternity issues in remote sections of society;[38] on the same lines, it also established the Hamrapur Community Healthcare Center in Wada Taluka, Maharashtra in association with Lions Club.[43] In addition to social initiatives such as the Green Paper Forum, the hospital conducts regular free medical camps such as the Barsana Eye and Dental Camp, Pandharpur Camp, Senior Citizen Camp, School Camp, Cancer Camp and Dialysis Camp.[38][43]

The annual Barsana Camp, in particular, has been highly successful in that the doctors perform 600-700 free cataract surgeries annually and have even attracted doctors from far-off lands like the US and Britain.[44][45] Consequently, the efforts led to the founding of the Barsana Health Care Center in Uttar Pradesh.[46]

In addition, the Bhaktivedanta Hospice Center serves those who desire to spend their last days in the holy site of Vrindavan with good medical care.[47] The hospital is also proactive in disaster relief activities such as the Gujarat earthquake relief (2001), Tsunami relief (2004), Mumbai flood relief (2005), Mumbai bomb-blasts (2006) and Uttarakhand floods (2013).[48][49][50]

In 2014, AmeriCares India awarded Bhaktivedanta Hospital the "Spirit of Humanity Awards" for their work in the category of Oncology,[51] while it also won "Best Multi Specialty Hospital", "Best Hospital for Wellness & Healthcare", "Excellence in Hospice & Palliative Medicine" and "Best Teacher" awards in Indo-Global Healthcare Summit & Expo 2014.[52] The Times of India, in association with New India Assurance Co. Ltd., recognized the hospital's persistent efforts and designated them as "Trendsetter in Quality Patient Care and Safety" in the Healthcare Achievers Awards 2014.[53]

Govardhan Ecovillage

Children from Lady Northcote Hindu Orphanage singing bhajans
Tool used to make CSEB in GEV

Spread over 75 acres of pristine farmland at the foothills of the Sahyadri mountain in the Wada district of Maharashtra, Govardhan Ecovillage (GEV) is a "model farm community and retreat center highlighting the importance of spiritual ecology: the need for us [humans] to live in harmony with ourselves, nature and the sacred".[54][55] Inspired by Radhanath Swami, with its humble beginnings in 2003, GEV was officially inaugurated in 2011, in the presence of Nana Saheb Patil, Ex-secretary of the Agricultural Ministry for the Government of Maharashtra.[56][57] To bring about holistic, sustainable ecological changes, GEV puts great emphasis on community initiatives such as integrated water conservation and protection, Wadi program, women empowerment, rural health care, food for life, biodiversity park, Vedic culture and educational center and animal shelters.[58] GEV specializes in symbiotic recycling and strives to offer sustainable solutions for community living in issues related to food, water, energy and waste management.[59] GEV is also home to the Lady Northcote Hindu Orphanage.[60]

GEV's achievements in the area of integrated water conservation and protection were honored with the Skoch 2013 Platinum Award and Order-of-Merit.[61][62] Its initiative to build houses with Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB), Rammed Earth technique, Cob houses (Adobe bricks) with traditional thatched roofs was awarded 5-star rating by GRIHA (an indigenous rating system for green buildings in India).[63] In recognition of its continued efforts towards environmental sustainability, a Special Jury Award was conferred upon GEV by the India Chapter of the International Advertising Association's Olive Crown Awards 2013.[64]


The Journey Home

On the request of his friend and godbrother Bhakti Tirtha Swami, who was on his deathbed, Radhanath Swami agreed to share his story and wrote his memoir "The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami".[65] It is the story of how he grew up in a Jewish family in Chicago, Illinois and through his journey of prayer was led through the 1960s counter-culture movement in America into Europe, walking and hitch-hiking all the way through Europe to the Middle East and into India. Along the way, he met many people, who would share their wisdom with him, encouraging him on his search for the truth. He stayed with Yogis in Himalayan caves, in Buddhist Monasteries, Jewish Synagogues, and Christian Churches. He met many teachers and practitioners of spirituality and learned from them, such as the 14th Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, to name a few. The book chronicles his spiritual quest.[66]

The book launch of the Gujarati edition was held in November 2011, and was attended by the then chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi (in 2014, he became the Prime Minister of India).[67] In his speech at the book launch, Modi emphasized spirituality as the true identity of India and contrasted Radhanath Swami's spiritual journey with that of personalities such as Mirabai and Vivekananda.[67][68]

A sequel to Journey Home, The Journey Within, was scheduled to launch in October 2014.[69]

Other Books

Radhanath Swami's lectures have also been thematically published in the form of books, which includes those based on his quotations, such as Nectar Drops and Nectar Stream,[70] and those based on his lectures and teachings such as Evolve,[71] Six Goswamis of Vrindavan,[72] The Wisdom Tree,[73] and The Real You.[74] The book "Soul Wise" (later renamed to "The Real You") was reviewed on Spirit Sundae, SABC1, South Africa.[75]

Global Outreach

Radhanath Swami has a strong global influence and has been globally honored for his humanitarian deeds.[76][77] He is one of the few members of ISKCON who influenced the movement globally and remains one of the most inspirational and respected spiritual leaders in ISKCON today.[76][78] He is on the advisory panel of I-Foundation,[79] which is credited with launching the first government-funded Hindu faith school in London.[80][81]

Radhanath Swami’s interfaith discussion with Cornel West resulted in “greater possibilities for both interfaith and intrafaith dialog [...] on Princeton’s campus”.[82] The event is regarded as a model for meaningful exchanges between followers of different beliefs,[82] and was awarded the 2011 Santos-Dumont Prize for Innovation that recognizes "a unique and creative program, event, initiative, or project [on Princeton's campus] [...] which has had wide-reaching impact and visibility".[83] His interfaith discussions with Francis X. Clooney were also very well received.[84]

Radhanath Swami presented ancient spiritual solutions to modern subjugation at esteemed debating society, Oxford Union.[86] The Union’s event, dubbed Malcolm X’s Speech in Oxford — 50 years later, marked the anniversary of X's acclaimed Oxford address.[87] The event's aim: to rouse modern thought and contention on a radical approach to preserving liberty.[88] Radhanath Swami put forth ecumenical spiritual truths as means of harmonizing society.[89] Prominent participants included Angela Davis, Dr.Cornel West, Prof. Stephen Tuck and Ben Okri.[88][90]

Radhanath Swami appeared as the main speaker at a corporate workshop held by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).[91] The exclusive interactive session, deemed Spirituality: Leadership and Management, hosted over 150 of India's top corporate executives.[92] Radhanath Swami conveyed the value of integrity, humility and simplicity in daily business affairs.[92] Prominent speakers included Piramal Group chairman, Ajay Piramal and Future Group CEO, Kishore Biyani.[93]

Many famous and influential people interacted with Radhanath Swami and expressed their appreciation of his character and work. Among them are Ajay Piramal,[94] Anil Agarwal,[95] Yash Birla[96] and Chetan Bhagat.[97][98] Renowned yoga teacher, B. K. S. Iyengar and Madhva sect spiritual leader Vishvesha Teertha of Pejavara matha also met him and appreciated his work.[99][100] Steven J. Rosen described Radhanath Swami as a "saintly person respected by the mass of ISKCON devotees today".[101]

See also


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  14. ^ a b Rosen 2007, p. 25.
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  • Dwyer, Graham; Cole, Richard J. (2007), The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change,  
  • Rochford, E. Burke; Bailey, Kendra (2006), "Almost Heaven Leadership, Decline and the Transformation of New Vrindaban", Nova Religio 9 (3): 6–23,  
  • Lokanāth Swami (2001), Festivals: Śrīla Prabhupāda at the Māyāpur-Vr̥ndāvana festivals, Padayātrā Press,  
  • Ramanujan, Sweta (March 17, 2003), "Joining a peace jamboree",  
  • Ujjayini Das (December 7, 2004), "When Gen Y becomes Gen Why: Hundreds of young single men turn to ISKCON for spiritual guidance",  
  • Mane, Anuradha (December 8, 2006), "An abode for Krishna",  
  • India News (September 12, 2007), "Britain's first Hindu school gets planning permission", 
  • Indian Express (January 29, 2008), "ISKCON rath yatra evokes big response in Nigdi",  
  • Spines, Christine (September 5, 2008), "Russell Brand: VMA Host Brings Anarchy From the U.K.",  
  • Times (October 16, 2008), "Russell Brand: I'm a spiritual gent with a crazed lust for glamour",  
  • Van Dril, E. (October 17, 2008), "Russell Brand Seeing a Swami",  
  • Vaishnavi, Deepa (January 18, 2010), "Kannada version of swamiji’s book released", Citizen Matters 
  • Now magazine (October 18, 2008), "Russell Brand seeking guidance from guru",  
  • Virmani, Ashish (August 24, 2009), "An awakening to love",  
  • Lama, Nishal (January 13, 2010), "Story of an American Swami, Radhanath Swami", My Bangalore 
  • Web Newswire (January 18, 2010), "‘The Journey Home’ unveiled", Web Newswire 
  • (January 12, 2010), "Cracks seen in Indian Value System: Radhanath Swami", 
  • Nadkarni, Vithal C (October 10, 2009), "It is faith that ultimately matters",  
  • Raote, Rrishi (October 24, 2009), "Monk's quest",  
  • Chatterjee, Madhusree (August 31, 2009), "Business in spiritual books booms as people look for peace", Bombay News.Net 
  • Iskcon Toronto (November 12, 2011), The Journey Home" has inspired thousands of readers. 
  • Radhanath Swami Videos (November 23, 2011), Radhanath Swami inspires at House of Commons 
  • Express News Service (February 1, 2014), "Radhanath Swami's Punitha Payanam launched",  
  • Prabhat Khabar (December 27, 2013), "Dharma ka prayojan hriday ko shudda karna(purification of heart is the purpose of religion)",  
  • Prabhat Khabar (December 25, 2013), "Bhakti ke raste me hi jivan(Bhakti and Life)",  

External links

  • Radhanath Swami Official Website
  • Radhanath Swami's Disciple Website
  • Official Website for The Journey Home – Autobiography of an American Swami
  • Talks by Radhanath Swami
  • Books by Radhanath Swami
  • Video Lecture by Radhanath Swami
  • Radhagopinath Temple - An Offering of Love by Radhanath Swami
  • Radhanath Swami's Letters
  • Articles in The Huffington Post by Radhanath Swami
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