On Monday Stephen Timms hosted an event organised by London supporters of Santhigiri Ashram, in Kerala State, South India. Supporters gathered to launch the English version of the biography of the Ashram’s founder, Guru Navajothi Karunakara. Stephen spoke of the importance of embracing shared values.
Karunakara Guru is principally associated with the foundation of Santhigiri Ashram. The Ashram – today a popular tourist attraction in the city of Trivendrum - provides free meals to those who need them. It promotes an important social message of inclusiveness. The Guru opposed the caste system and made clear that his message was for all, with a particular emphasis on the downtrodden. He spoke out against conflict, social disadvantage and deprivation and his words are reported to have brought hope to many ordinary people.
Speaking after the launch, Stephen said, “These values of tolerance, peace and equality are as important and relevant now as they ever were and I welcome the opportunity provided by this book to promote them. This event, held today in the House of Commons, is a great example of different communities sharing ideas, learning from each other and forging new bonds of cohesion. I am delighted to have been asked to contribute a forward to the book’s second edition.”
The meeting was presided over by Cllr Jose Alexander from the London Borough of Newham, with Virendra Sharma MP also in attendance. Unmesh Desai from the Greater London Assembly, Cllr Manju Shahul Hameed from London Borough of Croydon, Rev. Dr George Nellikunneal from Kerala all spoke at the launch. Santhigiri Ashram was represented by Swami Gurumithran Njana Thapaswi, Swami Sneahatma Jnana Thapswi and Swami Janananma Njana Thapaswi.