Sunday Times (South Africa)
July 9, 1995
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The international Society for Krishna Consiousness (Iskcon) has appointed its only Afro-American guru as commissioner for South Africa.

His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami, vice-chairman of Iskcon, arrived this week in Durban in time to attend the World Hindu Conference. He will be based at the Hare Krishna Temple in Chatsworth.

The conference which began in Durban on Thursday will end tomorrow at the University of Durban-Westville.

The swami is a spritual master, author and a specialist in international relations and conflict resolution.

He was president of student council groups of several universities in the US, including Princeton.

He is a scholar of international law and chairman of the Third World Coalition.

While in South Africa he will hold talks with government heads and religious leaders converning the seriousness of South Africa’s social, economic and welfare problems.

The Swami intends speaking to academics and politicains about the need for nation-building to be based on spiritualism.

“Iskcon wants to make people more aware of spiritual technologies. What has gone wrong in South Africa is something we find in other parts of the global community.

“One of the biggest problems is the intense involvement and absorption in materialism. Absorption in materialism as a priority creates greed and exploitation.”

He said the issue of basing things on race, religion and tribe caused fragmentation and everybody suffered.

“The other problem is crisis in leadership. All over the world there is a crisis in leadership.

“Leaders sometimes have self interest and are motived by a desire for money which becomes power. It is a situation here and the world over,” said the swami.

During his visit to South Africa last year, he spoke to President Mandela about the problems and corruption in Africa.

“I cautioned him of the fears of people after what they have seen in the rest of Africa,” said the swami.