Guest In Your Pulpit - Raj Nigam

Guest in Your Pulpit

Raj Nigam has led Sunday Services at several UU churches and congregations. He grew up in India and has now been in US for more than 55 years. He did his graduate work in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and worked for RCA Corporation and Merrill Lynch before retiring in 2004. He enjoys writing, gardening, photography, traveling, tutoring, and support of social action. He and his wife Elaine continue to be and have been very active in The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, New Jersey for forty five years, including serving as Presidents of the Congregation. Elaine was instrumental in establishing and continues to be still active in UU Faith Action NJ – a network that provides coordinated advocacy and legislative leadership on issues of equality and justice. They have two children and four grandchildren who they visit often.

Service Descriptions

  • Bucket List - The term bucket list refers to a list of experiences one would like to have or of accomplishments one aspires to in one’s lifetime. As we form our own bucket list, we notice that while the things to choose from are essentially limitless in quantity and variety, we have limited time, resources and energy. How do we deal with so many choices? How do we determine what is valuable? I will borrow some from my own transitions, and, more importantly, from Stephen Covey, David Brooks, Book of Genesis, and other serious sources to try and shed some light on these questions.
  • Noblesse Oblige – Journey Beyond the Self - I was introduced to Noblesse Oblige by Mataji – my mother – when I was 12 years old. It has stuck with me. In this talk I will explore different ways (including a mathematical equation!) to define it. And also address: What is Nobility? Who is noble? What are Obligations? How to act on them? How can we enhance these actions? And what happens if we adopt a more deliberate, holistic approach?
  • Hinduism: Core Beliefs and Way of Life—Hinduism rests on the core beliefs of Karma (not what you may think), Dharma (duty), Evaluation (personal accountability), Reincarnation (try again till you succeed), and Divine Spark (unique concept of divinity and its implications). We will explore how these beliefs influence morals and ethics (way of life), and compare it with Unitarian Universalism on a couple of aspects.
  • Unitarian Universalism in One Word—We live in a world of executive summaries, elevator speeches, one-liners and even sound-bites. Well, let’s take it to the extreme. If we were forced to choose just one word to characterize our Unitarian Universalism, what would that be? I will disclose my choice, and, hopefully, it will stimulate us to think what we are all about.
  • Kindness—Kindness is an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself. It is about doing good acts, small or large, for others without expecting anything in return. It is the opposite of transactional; it is one-sided. And it encompasses many forms, as there are no set formulae or procedures for it. From my Hinduism background, I will present my own version of kindness’s hierarchical framework, and take a look at its multi-dimensionality. It is critical that we stay grounded in, and act in, kindness – in whatever shape or form or dimension that reflects our self.
  • Forgiveness - I had never thought much of forgiveness, but a chance encounter, early in 2017, with a Buddhist Abbot and monks led me to think about it. In this complex issue, I explore transgressions from the perspective of an individual who has been wronged – the victim. And focus on three questions: Why should a victim forgive? Who does a victim forgive? and How does a victim act to forgive? Don’t expect definitive answers, but maybe you’ll run into a chance encounter of your own.
  • Gita and the Art of Winning - Gita is part of a Hindu scripture written about 500 BC. In this story about two warring families, Krishna teaches Arjun about self-worth, meaning of action, individual responsibility and interdependence. He reveals what to do when faced with a conflict between duty and love – the art of winning. Learn about these Hindu teachings and how they relate to our Unitarian Universalist principles.
  • Toward a More Just Society—This sermon is first an exploration of what we mean by a just society. What do we mean by justice, What is the purpose of a society, and What is honored in a just society? And how these notions tie in with our Unitarian Universalist values? I will then shift focus to poverty, including abject poverty, here in US, and talk about how our notions of a just society and UU principles urge us to take personal action to lessen it.

Availability: In-person: within 40-50 miles of Pennington, NJ. Virtual (through Zoom): Anywhere.

Contact: Email Raj Nigam at prof19645@gmail.com