– Veelayudan Nair
[Note: Veelayudan Nair is Secretary of SIRD Malaysia and was appointed overall coordinator for this social welfare programme.]
Call to Action
Poojya Swamiji on 13th September made a clarion call to SIRD members to embark on some social welfare initiatives, in addition to the ongoing mind and intelligence-related societal work being done.
Swamiji said there should be some societal welfare assistance related to upkeep of body, as well as education, for underprivileged members of society in Malaysia. He said, “Any society’s prosperity is built on the joint efforts and contributions of its members. Its mental and moral welfare rests always on the austerity and dedication of those few, whose thoughts and inspiration permeate the rest.
“It is for the benefit of others that trees produce fruits, rivers flow, and cows shed milk. Likewise, this body (which is also a product of Nature) is meant for serving others (from Paropakāra shlokas).”
Swamiji and Ma emphasized that this initiative should be done with love, within the capacity and affordability of SIRD. On the evening of September 15, a meeting was held between Swamiji and Ma, and devotees who have interest in participating in such activities. Several suggestions were made including food, educational, and medical assistance. It was agreed that the first activity would be distribution of dry food baskets to the needy before Swamiji leaves for India.
Swinging into Action
Parimala, Chairperson of the Residents Association of our neighbourhood, provided inputs from her experience in distributing dry food to the needy in this area. She said there were at least 50 families in the nearby flats who were very poor. It was decided that in the beginning, around 30 needy families would be given assistance in a simple ceremony. Two per family would be invited to the event and it would be held in SIRD.
Thirteen items were selected for distribution including rice, wheat flour, sugar, milk, tea leaves, dal, curry powder, rice vermicelli and biscuits. SIRD members immediately got to work procuring the items.
Three bundles of items were packed for every recipient each weighing about 10kg. The items were packed in the presence of Swamiji and Ma by SIRD volunteers after Ma’s discourse on 20th and 21st evening. Many youngsters as well as elderly devotees joyfully joined hands to do the packing lovingly, creating a festive, yet sublime mood.
Blessedness of Giving and Receiving
On September 22nd evening, 30 of the participants were picked up by the SIRD volunteers while the rest found their way on their own to SIRD. While the recipients appeared poor and neglected, all came in a respectful cheerful manner, clean and neatly-dressed. After a hearty meal at SIRD, they were lovingly ushered into the satsang hall. There was a lot of enthusiasm among the recipients and they appeared delighted when Swamiji and Maji arrived at the hall.
Paropakāra shlokas were chanted and Ma did ārati to them. Recipients were all Tamil-speaking. Sithalakshmiji explained in Tamil that the ārati was to honour them with gratitude for having accepted the invitation to be the recipients of the dāna.
Poojya Swamiji also addressed them in Tamil. After 3 times Omkara chanting, Swamiji expressed appreciation for their willingness to accept the dāna. He said, other forms of assistance will also be given from time to time depending on the capacity of SIRD. Swamiji read out the list of dāna items and blessed all the participants, and also thanked Parimala for her effort.
Parimala then called recipients one by one to receive the dāna. Swamiji personally handed the three heavy items while the prasada was given by Ma. Young and old volunteers helped recipients carry the grocery kits to their vehicles or to their homes. The recipients were elated and expressed utmost gratitude to Swamiji for having considered them for this dāna. There was also a great deal of contentment and happiness among devotees for having participated in the event. This was a memorable occasion, the first dāna-satram, for SIRD devotees – the first of many more to come with Poojya Swamiji’s blessings.
“It is for the benefit of others that trees produce fruits, rivers flow, and cows shed milk. Likewise, this body (which is also a product of Nature) is meant for serving others (from Paropakāra shlokas)”
“The recipients were elated and expressed utmost gratitude to Swamiji for having considered them for this dāna. There was also a great deal of contentment and happiness among devotees for having participated in the event. ”