"The highesf use of life is to live in the service of all beings."Sri Swami Sivananda, Founder of the Divine Life Society
As I write this foreword, the life's journey of Mr lshwar Ramlutchman MabhekaZulu spans little more than four decades. Yet the details of his life could fill severalvolumes, for lshwar has done the work of a lifetime in philanthropic service.For now, we will have to be content with one volume. But I have no doubt that the bookyou hold in your hands will become Volume One in a great series, for this story is stillbeing written.
Throughout my life I have pursued social cohesion and reconciliation. I have beenhumbled to be called a Zulu lndian, because of my close friendship with the lndiancommunity in South Africa. To me, it is essential to build bridges across cultures,bringing diverse people together.I am therefore quick to recognize a kindred spirit.
When I met a very young lshwarRamlutchman at the ashram of Sri Swami Sahajananda in Durban, some twenty yearsago, I saw in him a natural bridge-builder.He was already serving on the Board of the Divine Life Society and his commitmentto Swami Sahajananda Saraswati was remarkable.Swamiji and I shared a vision for educating South Africa's children and assisting themost vulnerable.
Through our friendship, and the ensuing partnership between theKwaZulu Government and the Divine Life Society, we built thousands of classrooms,clinics and care centres, crdches, skills training centres and homes for children andthe elderly. The Divine Life Society was a much-needed powerhouse of humanitarianaction.
lshwar and I became close because of the work of Swami Sahajananda, but ourfriendship continued based on the work of lshwar himself. He excelled at selflessservice, living out the injunction of Swami Sivananda to put life to its highest use.
What struck me most was that lshwar was not working just for the lndian community.He has done more for struggling black communities than many black philanthropiststhemselves.His lndian roots are clearly important to him.
He serves as Executive Vice Presidentof the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, as Honorary Patron of the DivineLife Society in Rishikesh, and through the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, whichhe leads as President, he arranges Diwali celebrations and supports the lnternationalDay of Yoga.
But as much as he encourages us to attend the functions of the lndian community, heidentifies completely with the Zulu people as well, joining us whenever we performtraditional rites and ceremonies. He has immersed himself in Zulu culture, learning ourtraditions and honouring our values, while still remaining fully lndian.
It is not difficult to see why His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation has embracedlshwar as a "son", giving him the name "Mabheka Zulu", and asking him to serve onthe lngonyama Trust Board. lt is not merely that lshwar walks so easily in two cultures,but that he does it with great dignity and wisdom.
It is out of love for the people of South Africa that he serves. The knowledge that he isserving his country is his only reward,Accordingly, he is known throughout South Africa, but particularly in KwaZulu Natal,for his philanthropy and devotion to peace. He is that rarest of human beings whowalks the talk. Rarer still, he knows both how to make money and how to give it away.
From a young age lshwar won awards for his entrepreneurial spirit and businessacumen. His capacity for creating success in business has enabled him to sowgenerously into projects that strengthen communities, empower the next generation,and meet the immediate needs of vulnerable families.He has built houses and education centres. He has sown into conservation, educationand community development.
He has, in fact, come to embody the spirit of ubuntubotho.I admire that he is an active citizen and an humanitarian. I also admire that he is aman of his word. Before the passing of Swami Sahajananda in 2007,lshwar made acommitment to Swamiji to erect eight Sivananda Peace Pillars across South Africa.
These Peace Pillars, found throughout the world , ate a tangible reminder of the needto build bridges between diverse people. They are inscribed with the teachings of amultitude of religions, chosen to reflect the universality of the ideal of peace.
I had the honour of unveiling the first of lshwar's Peace Pillars in 2009, together withthe King of the Zulu Nation and the Head of the Nazareth Baptist Church. Within threeyears all eight Peace Pillars had been unveiled.
But lshwar did not stop there. He wentbeyond his original commitment, erecting further Peace Pillars in many communities.ln Mitchell Park in Durban, one such Pillar is flanked by busts of former PresidentNelson Mandela and His Majesty the King of the Zulu Nation, exemplifying themessage of unity in diversity, peace and nation-building.
It has been a pleasure watching the growth of lshwar Ramlutchman, from a youthunder the mentorship of Swami Sahjananda, to a man who leads us by example. Iconsider him and his family a part of my own family.
I am therefore delighted to seehis life story being told.Mr Ishwar Ramlutchman Mabheka Zulu has taken charge of his destiny and is doingwhat he believes must be done. He has not waited for luck in business, or a calling tophilanthropy. lnstead, he has worked hard to become the man his faith calls him to be. I am proud to know him.
INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLANTRADITIONAL
PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
PRESIDENT EMERITUS OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY