Friday, 14 November 2014

Om Muruga

Vetrivel Muruganukku Arohara

We get what we deserve not what we desire: Even if our desires are spiritual or divine. My in-laws wanted to have a tour of the 6 sacred places of muruga along with my brother-in-law as soon as they came down to India.  Sundar and I planned that we would join only to Pazhani and Thiruchendur as kids could not miss school. It was a much awaited trip which my in-laws and specially my brother-in-law looked forward to. During the fag end of their US stay, Air India goofed up with the travel dates.

There was  big confusion regarding their return to Bangalore via Mumbai. The tickets from New Jersey to Mumbai were booked. Unfortunately, the air India officials booked the Mumbai to Bangalore trip on the very same day as the New-Jersey to Mumbai flight. This is how efficiently our officials work!!!!. When inquired, they expressed helplessness and with great difficulty, the New-Jersey to Mumbai trip was preponed by a day. It turned out that my brother-in-law could not travel on that day and had to cancel his entire India trip. It was a big disappointment for us that he could not join us for the trip. 

We however, planned to visit Pazhani and Thiruchendur if not all. My in-laws also joined us for the curtailed trip.Why it all happennded is left to the lord’s own discretion. Yes, quite disappointing to note that though our want was spiritual and divine, it was rejected by HIM. Well, HIS ways are mysterious. There may be better reasons that my brother-in-law missed the trip. All is for Good. 

Though Vishnu took several avatarams, Shiva is the official destroyer, Muruga is the favourite GOD for most of the tamilians.  Muruga has 6 important places commonly called as “Aru Padai Veedu”. They are Palanai, Swami malai, Thiruchendur, Pazhamudir cholai, Thirupara kundram and Thiruthhani. All these places are extremely sacred to Muruga.  One can find a treasure of information on these, I am giving a glimpse of the same.

Pazhani: Here is where Murugan chose to reside after he had a rift with his brother over a fruit. Murugan is called Dandayudhapani. He holds a dandam (stick) in his hand and hence the name. Standing as a young boy, this idol was made by a siddar named Bhogar. It is made of nava pashanas and has high medicinal value. The raja alankaram for the lord in indeed a treat to watch. His twinkling eyes, the majestic posture and the crown on his head is a picture that will stay in our hearts for a long, long time.

Pazhamudircholai: Muruga, here is along with two consorts – Valli and devayani. The vibhuti smeared on his face with red smiling lips increases our love and faith in him. He truly says.” Yamirakka Bayam Yen” (Why fear when I am here).

Thirupara Kundram. This is the place where Skanda married Devasena here. He gives his darshan along with his parents, brother, and maama (Lord Narayana).

Thiruchendur: Here is where Lord killed the demon called soorapadman. The temple is a magnificent one with huge pillars and pleasing architecture. This temple in located on the sea shore. As the waves hit the shore and recede, it reminds us that happiness and sadness, success and failure are like waves which keep coming to us and recede. We must be unaffected by them like the ocean.   

We could not visit swamimalai and thiruthani as they were too far for us and could not make it. One striking aspect that I noticed is that all temples I visited were very clean. Though all temples were flooded with people, there were volunteers constantly sweeping and cleaning the place. This was something I have not seen in Tamilnadu temples, earlier. This indeed is a good and welcome change.

The two day trip was coming to an end. I had the opportunity to sing thirupugazh in all the temples we visited. This was a big blessing for me.  Just like how I saw changes outside, I noticed a change within too. Generally, I have always wanted to see more and more, wait to re-visit the temples, crib about the regular grind we would get back to. But this time, I was welcoming the return. I was ready to get back to the Monday blues. No cribs, No complaints. And NO applications of favour too, only thanksgiving. All because of GURU anugraham and Murugan’s grace


Monday, 26 May 2014

Satyagalam and madhyarangam

Temples Less Known To Me

As we were sipping a hot cup of coffee, we saw two temple highlight that were close to shivana samudram. As summer was coming to an end and te grind was to begin, we thought it would be a divine beginning for children and for us.

We decided to have lunch and leave at around 1.30p.m. Satyagalam is around 140 kms from Bangalore. One has to take a right turn at the Maddur circle. A drive into the Kollegal road will take you direct to the temple. As you near Kollegal, you can ask the local people. It is around 50 kms from the Maddur junction.

The deity is the varadarajar perumal along with his consort Perundevi thayar. The specialty of this temple is the presence of Vedanta Desikan sannidhi. He has several compositions to his credit of which the "sri stuti" is very popular.

Legend says that when the muslims were creating atrocities against Hindus in Tamilandu, Vedanta Desikan escaped to this place to sought refuge. Here he found kaveri flowing in full serenity and decided that this was the right place for him. He stayed here for 12.5 years and composed several hymns in praise of the lord. everyday Everyday, a turtle followed him diligently from the river bed,and requested him to take a seat on its back. Desikan refused, but the turtle did not give up. It pleaded with him and when he gave consent, the next day, it turned into a hard shell on which he sat and did penance. In 1936, this turtle rock was brought to the temple and desikan's statue was installed on this stone. This utsava murthi of desikan was installed by his son. There is a beautiful idol of lakshmi narasimhar, and lakshmi hayagriva. This temple is maintained by parakala mutt.

The purohit was extremely courteous. He explained about the temple at length, offered us coffee and made it a refreshing evening. An extremely contented man who boasts of a salary of Rs.6000 per month with accommodation and other facilities. He seemed to be very happy with his job of service, something which most of us crib about. The temple provides a big room where one can stay and go around other temples nearby. But there are no beds or special accommodation. All you get is a room which is spacious and clean. The name of the purohit is Bagavan Battar: 9741617905. You can contact him in advance and inform of your travel plans.

We then drove to madya rangam, where Lord Vishnu is is sleeping posture just like as in shriranga patna. Lord manifested to Gautama rishi in shriranga patna,called adhi ranga, to Indra in Satyagalam, called madyaranga and to vibheeshana in shrirangam, trichy, called as antya ranga. All these places are along the river kaveri. The name of the goddess is ranganayaki thayar. The temple is big and well maintained. There is a beautiful description of the sthala puram of the temple.

There is a temple nearby called someshwara temple where adi sankara has installed the shri chakra. We could not go to this temple as it was too late.

Few tips: One can take the kanapura road too to reach kollegal. But there are no good restaurants in this route. An early departure can help one to cover many temples. The ideal would be to leave in the morning.


Monday, 28 April 2014

Go to Goravanahalli

Travel To Tumkur

It was a long pending trip to goravanahalli mahalakshmi temple. This temple is around 60 kms from Bangalore near Tumkur in otagere taluk. If one leaves at around 2 pm, we can first cover the devarayan durga temple of Lakshmi narasimha and then proceed to goravanahalli.

The road is quite good. One has to take deviation from tumkur road towards otagere road. It was almost 4 pm when we took the otagere road. And one of my friends had told me that the narasimha temple would get closed by 5.30 pm. So, it was like an indo-pak match. "will we make it or not".

We started to chant the vishnu sahasranama with the hope that HE will give us the darshan. Unfortunately, we took a wrong route and had to retrace the path. It was when we reached the foot of the hillock. We hurried up the hill. It is a steep climb of around 150 steps. We could hear the final bell indicating that the temple would be closed soon. With great enthusiasm and hope, we reached the top. It was 5.16 pm when we had the darshan of the Yoga Lakshmi Narasimha. The idol is small . Thayar is seated on Perumal's lap comfortably. He has his had on her shoulders and the other hand is a blessing. Though neivedyam was done, it was not distributed. We were happy athat we finally made. Sorry, a msitake..We didnt make it...HE made it possible.

The entire hill has an army of monkeys freely jumping and enjoying forest life. We drove down to the bhoga lakshmi narasimha swami temple. The posture here is similar to the one we saw atop the hill except that the lord was more relaxed posture. We had a nice kosumari prasadam followed by sweet panakam. There are many small temples around but we didn't have enough time to cover all of them.

We then drove to goravanahalli mahalaksmi temple where thayar sit and attracts huge crowd from all places. I have heard that she is very powerful and any prayer offered will be gratified in 40 days. The Lakshmi is a swayambu murthi installed by Smt. Kamalamma. This lady established the temple after having a series of divine experiences. The utsava murthi is very beautiful and is very well decorated. We had the great opportunity to have the darshan of maha mangalarathi. The temple is open the whole day on tuesdays, fridays, sundays and general holidays. They have anna danam arranged for devotees.

An early depature like 2pm would be sufficient to cover these two temples. If, you want to cover other small temples, you may have to leave early. We returned to bangalore after having a  decent dinner at kamat upachar. It was a great end to the week. Looking forward to the next trip.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ramana Calling

A Revisit to the GURU's abode

A 100 thoughts hover around me!! There seems to be a competition among them. “Write me, Write me “ compete my thoughts. I finally took a deep breath and calmed myself. I slowed down my thought process and just forgot that I am going to blog my travelogue. After controlling my thoughts, and streamlining them, I sat down to pen a few lines.

Bharath , a land of brahma Jnanis is probably the most holy land on the earth. No other country has such a huge number of saints who have stepped onto this holy land and made it a spiritual destinations for millions of people irrespective of caste and creed. The contribution that our country has given to this world in a big way is her GURUS and their philosophies.

Lord shiva has 5 mains temples where he manifested as the 5 elements of creation. He represented agni in Thirruvannamalai as Arunachala, vayu in kalahasti as Vayu lingam , Space in Chidambaram as lord nataraja, Water in Trichy as Jambulingeswara and earth in kanchipuram as Ekambareswara. All these places are must see at least once in a lifetime.

Thiruvannamalai is one such place which has given a great GEM in the form of Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi. Not only him, Seshadri swamial, Yogi ramsuratkumar are also from this holy place who have tried to preach love and brotherhood among fellow humans. They have elaborated about Amta Jnana and its importance to a great extent. The world only knows a few but there are several unknown saints and siddars in this place.  When we went to the ramana ashram, it was a wonderful feeling of being one with the lord. 

The main hall in the ashram where Shiva and Shakti are worshiped is a treat to watch. The dedication of the gurukal who does the puja is worth a mention. The garlands that adorn the lord are specially made and are of different lengths so that they can be arranged in a specific way. This gives a majestic look to the lord. The peacocks, the monkeys and the dogs that roam freely in this ashram are indeed blessed that they get to be in the company of satsang always.

The blessing bestowed on Ramana was instantaneous. He had a turning point in his life by which he transformed himself completely. I was just wondering, there are many such saints who have had such turning points in their lives, some incidences which changed their outlook and life drastically. I have read that even some non-believers are initiated and they go on to become great saints or bhaktas. Our lives seem to be going always in a straight line. There doesn't seem to be any turning point. Looks like the wait will be for long. This, was of course in a lighter vein that I was discussing with Sundar. A turning point for us is asking for too much. We must have done a million tons of punyam to feel realised which I am sure is not in our books of deeds. And this is possible by that one omnipresent alone. He must pick us to be so blessed. We must atleast start now so that after a few 100 births, we will feel realised.

The book shop and the library are adorned with numerous books. When we sit to read, the passage of time for a few hours seem to be a few minutes. It does not restrict to Ramana’s teaching alone but has a wide range of books on different philosophies and paths. The Anna danam or free food offered is extremely tasty. One noteworthy act is that anna danam is done everyday. Generally, we have food to our heart full and then give the remaining to the beggars. But here, destitute and beggars are first fed. It is only after them, we are given food. No one is high or low in HIS court.

The Arunachala temple with all its grandeur is a must see. Tamilnadu is known to have big temples. The prakaram, the deities, the gopuram, the temple tank are all huge and gives a sense of fullness when you see them. It also reflects the patronage that spirituality and religion were receiving from the kings who built these temples.

It was time to visit thirukoilur where we had been to the ashram of one more saint: Gnanananda. The ashram is quiet and serene. They too have a lot of rooms which are free. One must stay and spend time in the serenity of the GURU’s teachings.

The Arakandanallur Shiva temple is on a hillock with a cool breeze that beats the summer heat. The name of the swami is Athulanatheswarar and the name of the goddess is Soundaryakamalabikai. One of the popular nayanmars: Sundarar sang in praise of Lord Shiva in this temple. He had a darshan of the Thiruvannamalai hill from this place. Ramana also had been to this temple before venturing to thiruvannamalai.

The Ulagalanda perumal temple in the heart of the town in Thirukoilur is a again a testimony of the support that temples and religion received by the kings of pre independence period. We could not see the main deity as the kumbhabhshekam is scheduled for July 4th. We could see only the presiding deities. This temple is one of the divya desams. The three alwars : Poigi alwar, Boothat Alwar. And Pei Alwar experienced the divine presence in this place and started to sing the divya prabandam. The divya prabandam is a collection of 4000 songs sung by the 12 alwars of the sri vaishnava sect in praise of Lord Vishnu. Time and again we are re-iterated with this tamil saying" katradu kai man alavu, Kallaadadu, Ulagau Alavu.". What is known is only a handful, what is yet to be knows is as big as the world."

It was 10.30pm when we reached the ashram hotel. The next day, we had just planned to spend time in the silence of the ashram. Though the ashram has a continuous stream of visitors, there is always silence. The meditation hall is absolutely calm. You feel totally disconnected with the world. A few minutes of meditation and concentration gives an untold happiness and bliss. “Pin drop silence” is a crude word. I would say “Feather drop silence”. The quietness and the positive vibrations felt at this place is immense and cannot be explained by words.

We left to Bangalore after having a sumptuous and tasty meal. The road from thiruvannamalai to Krishnagiri is pathetic and very badly maintained. It was the positive mood which kept us driving without cribbing.

Few Tips: If you want to avoid the bad road between thiruvannamali and Krishnagiri, you can take the more round path through katpadi. But this add anotehr 90kms t your distance.

If you wish to stay at the ashram and enjoy the serenity, you can write to them one month before your planned date. Write to The stay, food is absolutely free. But I am sure none of us would like to come back without offering anything. The donation that we make is very small compared to the bliss and blessings that we take back.

Of late, I have had the kripa of visiting a number of guru sthalams. It started off with Shirdi last year. I then started reading the teachings of Kanchi MahaPeriva. Then to Ramanashram, Yogi ramsuratkumar’s ashram, visit to the ashram of sheshadri swamigal and to thapovanam, abode of Gnanananda. I hope this anugraham continues. Thus begins the wait for the next call!!!


Monday, 4 November 2013

A much awaited travel to THE ASHRAM

Sundar and I were very excited with the fact that we were going to make it to the ashram this time by HIS will. This was our third trial to visit the ashram. The first one was cancelled because of cheeru’s health. The second time, we were unfortunate not to make it as I had official commitments. As Vedanta and sastras point out, getting guru’s anugraham is extremely difficult. One can get the darshan of the LORD, but to get a GURU’s blessings and approval, one should have a sense of total surrender. Probably if we had opted to stay outside the ashram, we would have seen Lord Arunachala sooner. The blessings of Ramana got a little delayed, hitting out on our ego and lack of absolute surrender.

The hospitality in the ashram is very good. People are pious, polite and helpful. The stay was very pleasant with neat and well furnished rooms. Food is sumptuous and tasty (On the lighter side, if one wants to get away from the kitchen cookeries for a day or two, then this is an ideal placeJ).

The Ashram
The ashram with the serene atmosphere has a constant flow of people for all walks of life that defies tradition, culture, race, colour, religion. All that speaks in the ashram is silence and faith. To add to the beauty are the majestic peacocks. You never get so close to them anywhere else. They also seem to have got greatly influenced by the Ramana way – absolutely peaceful and calm. As I get a closer look at their necks and feathers, I really feel that there can be no greater engineer than GOD. Even the best artist with all his creative brain cannot add up to the colours of the peacock’s neck and feathers.
The Narayana seva at 10.30a.m everyday is a part of the ashram program where the poor and hungry are fed. The food is of good taste and quality with chips, sambar rice, and others being served. This is a very noble act of feeding the needy. But sometimes I fear if it initiates people into laziness?? What if it does? How can one differentiate if a person eats free food because he is lazy to work or he is really forced into begging. Looks like we have to give the benefit of doubt to the other side!!.
The book shop inside the ashram premises has a decent collection of Shri. Ramana’s life, short stories as told by HIM and also philosophy in varied languages.


We also went for girivalam in our car. There are eight lingams around the hill which represent the 8 directions. However, we could visit only 6 of them as the road beyond was diverted and we had to bypass the remaining 2 temples.

The Skandaashram

The trek to skandashramam was another eventful journey. Though it was painful, as a great man quoted, there was no suffering. The entire path was rocky and narrow. Nature was at its best with rich flora and fauna. Trekking after so many years was giving me an elated feeling. I was so over whelmed at the beauty of the Arunachala temple from atop the skandashramam. The temple looked so grand with its 4 raja gopurams, and 5 inner gopurams. It was a typical photographic picture and it was difficult for one to lift eyes off the divine sight.
The ashram was in absolute silence with a small but constant stream of visitors coming there for mediation. Bhagavan ramana lived here for around 20 years and did a lot of meditation here. His mother served him here as a devotee and attained Samadhi. Words fail me to describe the ashram to its befitting nature. At one point, I felt, how great is ramana’s mother to having given birth to such a great and renounced saint. As you enter the small rooms where ramana lived, your hairs stand up giving you a feeling of divinity within you. You feel one with the Lord, in absolute calmness and can feel the peaceful nature of the self. Just imagine, if we, who, as mere mortals feel so ecstasy after experiencing the inner self for a moment or two, given the right environment, imagine a person who is in this ever blissful state irrespective of the environment for a whole lifetime. I wondered - “Will ever attain this state??, Will I ever be in paramanandam ?? - Probably after a few tens or hundred births

The Virupaksha cave

The virupaksha cave which is slightly away from the skandashrama is also very enthralling. Ramana meditated here in the dark rooms of the cave. It is so dark inside that you cannot make out if anyone is sitting inside or not. What a place to meditate and attain siddhi!!! Each and every place where he lived is so appealing and heartening that any atheist would be initiated into meditation.
Coming down was inevitable. We trekked down with a heavy heart. The body alone was going dowhill, but the heart and mind was still with ramana – wondering, curios and waiting to be one
Come to think of it, a visit to such places gives a feeling of where you actually belong. A sense of true knowledge engraves you, though for a short period. The spiritual vibrations are so strong in such places that it makes you think and introspect more about life and its goal.
But where is the starting point – Well, I guess for people like me, the starting point is Karma Yoga. I have duty calling me now and got to go!!!..

Monday, 19 August 2013

Refreshing Rendezvous with a Renounced Recluse

The Shirdi Retreat

India – A land of great saints and acharyas. A land which is the birthplace of many religions. A land wherereligion and spiritual practices bind people together.  Saints born in this land are innumerable. Every part ofthe country has saints to boast of. They have poured their vibrations into this soil making this a spiritual destination to millions across the world.

The saints of the previous yugas gave us the rich teachings of the Vedas and Vedanta – Valimik, Vyasa bagavan, patanjali, agastya, bharadwaja, vasista, vishwamitra, parashurama etc etc the list is endless. In this kali yuga itself, we have seen many saints making their presence felt. They have strived for human welfare and have always been a torchbearer of reforms. Adi Shankara, Ramanujacharya, madhwacharya, raghavendra, gyaneshwara, mukta bai, meera bai, namadev, eknath, tukaram, the alwars and nayanmars of the south – oh..This is another endless list. Among the recent years, we have Vivekananda, Ramakrishna paramanhamsa, Shirdi baba.

We were looking forward for this trip for a long time and it happened today. It had to be a long journey in the lokamanya Tilak express from Cantonment to Daund and another 3 hour travel from Daund Jn to Kopergaun, our final destination. Shiridi is around 20Kms from Kopergaon. Since we went during the monsoon season, the land was fertile and green.

After checking into the hotel room, and refreshing ourselves, we left for the dhoop arathi that we had booked online.  He sure is a crowd puller. People for different parts of the country were there to have a glimpse of their sad guru. The arathi takes around 25 minutes with soulful arthi songs being rendered by the priest there. After having darshan of sai, we went to visit the museum, dwarakamai, chavadi, the dhuni and the neem tree. All these places have always been with sai. He is one of those souls who never travelled outside shirdi. He drew large crowd from where he was. His teachings spread far and wide and so do his blessings, When we see the utensils used by him, the cot he slept, the robes he wore, the place he made prasadam for all, it gives us a feeling of belongingness. Were we also a part of this in some birth of ours? Wouldn’t it have been nice if we were one of those simple, innocent and devoted people during his times? 

The shirdi temple

Out the dwarakamai

The next day was supposed to be super exciting as we were going to panchavati in Nashik where we would be seeing few places which are important to Rama and Ramayanam. We began with a quick visit to the Birla temple (Ram kund) which houses all the GODs and important places like the 12 jyotir lingams, the Himalaya dharshan, the vaikunta dharshan.

The next stop was at the Godavari ghat which was flowing with full happiness. Though it looks serene, it was a bit polluted given the fact that it was flowing in the heart of the city. The triveni sangam i.e. the confluence of godavari, aruna and varuna takes places here. The Kumbh mela (held at Ujjain, nashik, Allahabad and dwaraka once a year) takes place once a year at this place and lakhs of people come here to take a holy dip. It was here when Ram performed the last rites for his father when in exile.

We then went to kapalesshwara temple. North India has a different way of worship in that devotees can enter the garbha gudi and perform abhishek for Lord Shiva unlike south India where we are not supposed to enter the sanctum Santorum.

We then proceeded to Sita Gupha. When surpanaka’s nose was cut off by lakshmana, she complained to her bothers khara and dhushan. The brothers along with 14000 rakshasas came to fight Rama. Rama then made a cave for Sita and kept her here in hiding. This entire region was the dankaranya forest mentioned in the Ramayana where Rama stayed for the last 2.5 years of his exile. The name Nashik is evolved from nasikah meaning nose. Since surpanaka's nose was cut off here, this place came to be known as Nasik. The cave initially is a very narrow one but then as we proceed down, it opens up to three beautiful idols of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita along with Hanuman. Children had fun time going into the cave a couple of times while I read the sankshepa Ramayana at this place.

We then went to Goraram temple and the Kalaram temple. The ram idol installed in the kalaram temle is a swayambu. Here Ram holds his right hand on his chest and his left hand downwards. If we surrender to his feat, he promises us full protection and happiness. The temple is very beautiful and is well maintained.

 The Kalaram temple

When then proceeded to the tryambakeshwar to see one of the jyotir lingams. The crowd was huge with heavy rain too. We thought that we may have to come back without the darshan of the lord but a priest helped us at an extra cost. We were taken into the temple without any hassle and had a good darshan. The linga is quite unusual here that the mound is not seen outside but is dipped inside like a grinding stone. It was humbling to see that inspite of heavy rain, people didn’t lose hope or walked away, they were all patiently waiting to have a glimpse of the lord. The brahma giri hils at the backdrop with Godavari taking birth as small streams is a pleasant sight to the eyes. The entire belt between shirdi and nashik is green and green. We could see many sugarcane fields which seem to be the main produce here. All along the way, we could see small shops which have put adhoc swings for children to lay and have a nice natural cane juice. No maxhines are used to make the juice. Cows are used to trun a gear box which crushes the sugarcane to make juicy juice. It was a very nice experience to have a fresh breath of village life.

The next day was the visit to shani shignapur. This temple was not very crowded. Here Lord Shani is in the form of a huge stone. None of the shops have doors and the claim is that even houses don’t have doors. People believe that everything is taken care by Lord shani. Amazing!!!!
The next day was our return trip to Bangalore. Children thoroughly enjoyed this trip and want to come back to shirdi. What we want is a dream but what happens to us reality. I have always wanted to be under the guidance of a guru. I have heard people telling that having a guru is absolute bliss. You need not worry for anything. Everything is taken care of. But I still haven’t had the benevolence of a guru. How is my guru, how do I choose my guru? How do I know that I need to trust this person as my guru? Well, we are not elated souls to choose our  guru. It is the guru instead who chooses us. I am still waiting for that moment when my guru will spot me and give me that absolute blissful experience.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Dwarakamai Vruddhashram

We will also be old one day!!!

Thayagaraja Aaradhana - A yearly tribture to the trimurthis (Shri Thyagaraja swamigal, shri muthuswami dikshitar and shri shyama shastri) and also to the  father of carnatic music shri purandara dasar. If we today we enjoy music at its best , it is because of the ragam, thanam, bhavam filled songs of these great saints of carnatic music.

Like every year, shriram's mrudangam teacher, Vidwan. Shri gopalakrishnan, also celebrated this festival but in a different way. People generally celebrate this in temples, big halls and other places but this man did it in his very own old age ashram called "Dwarakamai Vruddhashram" in chikkaballapur. It was attended by an elite group of people having a sound musical knowledge and lead by mrudanga vidwan Shri. T.S. mani and his wife Vidushi. Smt. Rama Mani

Now, this post is not to elaborate on the arrangements or grandeur with which it was celebrated. Neither it is meant to talk about the songs sang or about the vidwans who sang. It is about the people and the kind of care that they are given.

This ashram is entirely and solely run by Shri. Gopalakrishnan's son murali and his wife. Shri gopalakrishnan also is very much a part of it. This is around 14 years old (i think). Old people who are abandoned by children resort to this place and are taken care like children. There are actually two wings. One wing has all old people whose children have left them to be totally forgotten. Even if they were to die, it would be the ashram inmates who would perform their last rites. According the Shri. Gopalakrishna, in the last 10 years, he has performed rites to around 800+ people. We saw people who have no legs, some who were totally bed ridden, one who could neither hear, see or speak and was being fed by one of the volunteers. It nearly brought tears to our eyes. Time and again, we are reminded of how gifted we are and what we need to give back society.

The other wing is a more decent one where people live by paying some meager amount. So, this ashram is entirely run by donations. Money is not asked but flows -little by little. There is a shirdi temple within the ashram and everyone here believes that it is Baba who takes care of them and their needs. We could actually not spend time with the old people as the celebrations were ongoing and had to leave to our far destinations. But the underlying point is that this man single handedly runs the show with the help of family members. It is pure selfless service.

Many a times, parents are hurt by harsh words. Their advice is unwanted. They become people of boring speech as they grow old. They become a burden. But little do we realize that it were these same mother and father who taught us to face world, who held our hands when we were down, who patted our backs and lifted us when we failed, who rejoice more than us when we found small success in life. They lifted all our burden and made us what we are today and we when we are independent, we find them to be a burden. We don't even realize that we will also travel the same boat few years from now. We will also have to undergo the same treatment from our children because we set an example to our children. We plan so much for he future and claim to be so foresighted but ignore such human values and relationships which will reap the same harvest in future.

Through this blog post, I would like to tell people that if you are interested in donating to this sai ashram, you may do so. You can contact Shri. Gopalakrishna. (Mob: 9886275899). By the way, you do get a 80G IT exemption for your donations.

For many, this post will definitely be a matter of non-attachment and a casual read/comment. It would be like any other NGO who are doing yeomen service. I am not trying to promote this ashram or try to associate myself. This is only to create an awareness in people about this home, their selfless work and their commitment. Out of your many whole hearted charity that you do for varying NGOs, this can atleast be at the end of your wish list.