In the Royal Military Chapel at the Wellington Barracks a stones throw away from the Buckingham Palace the Army Chaplains department celebrated the centenary of being bestowed the Royal Prefix in recognition of their outstanding service during the World War One, now a hundred years ago on 22 February 2018 by the Queen’s grandfather King George V.
In times of conflict the pastoral role the Chaplains play cannot be underestimated. Regardless of Faith denomination the soldiers need spiritual counsel and guidance to maintain an equanimity of the mind. Its important to reflect on prayer and meditation to connect to our core being or whatever one’s belief aspires to and even in case of non-belief to give strength to the mind.
In 2003 as General Secretary then of Hindu Council UK, I had approached the MoD for the need for a Hindu chaplain which then led to joint meetings with all Faiths and resulted in the appointments of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist civilian Chaplains. The Jewish Chaplain was there already with a large Christian Chaplain department. After couple of years I was appointed as the Hindu Religious Advisor to the MoD and our journey with all Faiths has been one of a very harmonious comradeship, so much so that we started discussions for a ‘World Faiths Chaplaincy’ unit where all major faiths, where Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh Chaplains could share pastoral roles to look after the soldiers with a more pastoral outlook, whilst respecting each Faith and the Soldier’s denomination.
We still need to work in this somewhat challenging idea but I believe Humankind’s future lies in meeting that challenge. I had the opportunity today to meet two of the retired Chaplain Generals Revd Stephen Robbins and Revd Jonathan Woodhouse, both lovely souls still doing God’s work who kept that ‘World Faiths Chaplaincy’ work ongoing in their tenure. Equally the present Chaplain General the Venerable Clinton Langston I spoke briefly to at the reception assured me would like to continue that work. The Army, being a huge institution in itself, takes time to implement change but I think I’d like to have the opportunity to move this work along to some sort of fruition.
Anil Bhanot OBE
Hindu Religious Advisor to the MoD