The immigration officials at Afghanistan offered Richard (now Radhanath Swami) a cordial welcome, quite different from the other border guards. At Herat Richard found the people friendly and charming. Although they were the poorest people Richard had seen in his travels yet, everyone he met offered a smile and no one asked him for anything. On the contrary they were eager to share whatever little they had. Each day the people invited Richard to their homes. Richard was amazed to see these simple people; they were humble and wise, living with dignity through the tribulations of their lives. The mixture of poverty and happiness was shocking to Richard; it was the communication of their heart that was especially satisfying to him. He even wrote a letter home appreciating the friendly and peaceful residents of Herat.
To be honest I was initially shocked on reading Radhanath Swami’s experience at Herat. To me Afghanistan is a bloody seat of Taliban and a hot bed of violence. However Radhanath Swami’s experience makes me feel it is a wonderful place. I remember an Indian friend who went to Australia to study. He wrote to me about his Pakistani friend in college. I was shocked then wondering how could a Pakistani and an Indian become good friends; after all the countries are always at loggerheads with each other. As if anticipating my concern, he wrote about how their common cultures, attracted them to each other in a foreign place. They both were from the same subcontinent; they shared the same language, music, and attraction for cricket. The common culture united the two, even thousands of miles away. I realized how narrow our view point of life is; we often hate for no reason, and form a prejudice that has hardly any resemblance to reality. Humans are the same everywhere; the soul is potentially divine even in a terror torn country. Once the external façade is removed, we can discover the natural love and camaraderie that can bind all humans together.
Once at a holy place called Ekachakra, in Bengal, India, Radhanath Swami was delivering a lecture on how God unites all of us on the spiritual platform. In that class were two of Radhanath Swami’s colleagues, one from Germany and the other from America. The former’s ancestors were Nazis and the latter’s family was Jew and their forefathers had fled Germany in fear of the Nazis. A few generations ago both families were sworn enemies of each other. Today both are spiritual teachers and lovers of God, sharing heart to heart friendship with each other and also helping millions of others discover their dormant love for God. Radhanath Swami thus practically demonstrated the power of love and how love for God can unite people of all religions and nations.
Today Radhanath Swami has students and fans in Russia, USA, Pakistan and India, besides other nations. All these men and women are from different cultural backgrounds, yet they all share the same affection and love for Radhanath Swami. His teachings and practise of recognizing the innate goodness in all and fanning the spark of spirituality in them has helped him unite people all over the world under one banner of love for God.