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A Mahatma’s Family

12 August 2022

Swamiji’s address, interspersed with the loftiest principles of Vedanta, Bhakti, Kerala folklore, childhood stories, and fond reminiscences of past workers who were his faithful companions in the founding days of the Ashram, resounded deeply with everyone present.

Workers Day – July 11

Every year, just before the holy Gurupoornima Day, there is a special programme where Ashram assistants, workers and many others associated with Ashram activities – auto & taxi drivers, coconut-pluckers, electricians, plumbers, masons, fabricators, gas-burner repairer, et al – are invited and honoured. This eagerly anticipated programme originated more than 2 decades ago – Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma felt that the workers could not be looked after well during the crowed Gurupoornima Day function and must be specially invited on a separate day when they could be given full attention and served food lovingly. Poojya Swamiji addresses everyone in the Ashram Vijnana Bhavan and gives each a set of dress and packet of prasada. After this they are invited to Annakshetra with Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma remaining present and overseeing the serving till they have taken food.

The programme this year took place on July 11, with many devotees who had arrived in the Ashram for Gurupoornima, witnessing for the first time. In his address, Poojya Swamiji reminisced about the days in 1963 when he set foot on the Pandavagiri hill, bringing minimum belongings in a bullock cart, and started living in a small hut (Kutir) with coconut-fronds used as doors and windows. From thence the Ashram has grown to its present dimension with the participation and contribution of many, including the workers. Swamiji explained that the Ashram is an institution meant for the welfare of all. It cannot be possessed by anybody, and any work done for the Ashram is a service to the society.

Swamiji’s address, interspersed with the loftiest principles of Vedanta, Bhakti, Kerala folklore, childhood stories, and fond reminiscences of past workers who were his faithful companions in the founding days of the Ashram, resounded deeply with everyone present. Swamiji shared his heart that it is because of the workers that the Ashram runs, and they are to be appreciated for the cleanliness and systematic functioning of the Ashram. Some of the workers expressed their contentment and blessedness to be in the service of the Ashram, attributing their welfare to Swamiji’s close involvement and support in the ups and downs of their lives.

The most eagerly awaited part of the programme is when each of them receive a set of new dress from Swamiji. As they come forward, Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma start narrating the history of their association with the Ashram, their individual foibles, eccentricities, the growth of their children, how their families are now stable and settled. If any anecdote or update is missed, they themselves remind Swamiji or Ma !

Swamiji is particular to take out each set of dress from its cover and bless it with his Holy glance before giving it to the recipient along with a packet of prasada. Behind the scenes is the blessedness of those Ashramites and devotees associated with the purchase of the dresses for workers. They witness the deep love underlying what seems to be a simple, fairly straightforward purchase of clothing.

The purchase project usually starts during the busiest time period in the Ashram. In June 2000, when we witnessed it for the first time, Ma would go to Thrissur everyday after lunch accompanied by Thrissur devotees or an Ashramite. The master document was the list prepared by Ma, double-checked by Nutan Swamiji and others to ensure none of the workers was left out. The group would stand for hours in wholesale shops, carefully reviewing materials and colours, selecting items, ticking off each name and return to Ashram just in time to get ready for dinner and Satsang. Post Satsang, around 10.30 pm would start the process of tallying the bill and showing every single item to Poojya Swamiji and Nutan Swamiji. Some items would be taken back for exchange the next day and so the process would continue till a suitable set of dress was bought for each worker.

The dimension of purchases along with the number of Ashram workers has increased greatly over the years, yet the deep current of underlying love remains the same. This year, Ma was very sick just before the programme and could not participate as usual in selecting the dresses for individual workers. As she lay in the sick bed, the Brahmacharinis brought the dresses to her room and showed Ma what had been selected for each worker. Seeing the expression on her face, substitute options would be shown, till she was satisfied with the selection.  Later, when Swamiji and Nutan Swamiji were shown the selections, seeing Swamiji’s expression, Ma would immediately show other options, not resting till he seemed satisfied.

Will the recipients of these carefully selected dresses know that Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma have been so personally involved in the gift they have received? For those in Guru Sannidhi these moments of witnessing the pure love of Mahatmas in their daily activities become indelibly engraved in the mind. We can clearly understand what is the goal for us. Even if our minds are not always able to rise to their level, the blessedness of being involved even in a miniscule way in the mission of Mahatmas brings a fulfilment and joy not experienced before. Jai Guru.

– Vicharasethu 2022

“The most eagerly awaited part of the programme is when each of them receive a set of new dress from Swamiji. As they come forward, Poojya Swamiji, Nutan Swamiji and Ma start narrating the history of their association with the Ashram. ”

“For those in Guru Sannidhi these moments of witnessing the pure love of Mahatmas in their daily activities become indelibly engraved in the mind. We can clearly understand what is the goal for us. ”

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