Samvad with Bombay Jayashri Ramnath

It was a musical Holi morning with Padmashri Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath enthralling the audience with some beautiful compositions. She started with a Ganesh Bhajan.  During the course of the interaction, Thangamani Rathiname (from the Moonchild album) which Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath had dedicated to the children of Manjakkudi was played.  Manjakkudi is the Janmabhoomi of our Founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

AIM for Seva’s anthem, Bharata Desa Hitaya composed by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati and sung by Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath was also played. At the end of the programme, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramanth sang another composition of Pujya Swamiji on Goddess Sharada.

AIM for Seva USA organised a Samvad with Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath. In between the songs, the acclaimed musician spoke warmly of her association with the Founder of AIM for Seva and SDET (Swami Dayananda Educational Trust), Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, her musical journey and her experience of teaching music to the school and college students at Manjakkudi, the birth place of our Founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Sri. Srini Raman, Chief Operating Officer, AIM for Seva USA, began the proceedings of the virtual event by giving the audience a brief overview of the All India Movement for Seva that was founded in the year 2000 by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

In her introductory remarks, the Chairperson and Managing Trustee of AIM for Seva, Ms. Sheela Balaji gave an overview of the ongoing community development work at Manjakkudi. “Pujya Swamiji used to always say that Manjakkudi is an ideal village where everything is where it should be, in its place. The village has been as per Vaastu Shastra. It has been a privilege to be involved in this work and do seva for AIM for Seva and Manjakkudi. I thank each one of you for giving support.”

The Chairperson and Managing Trustee then shared briefly how Manjakkudi has transformed over a 15 year period. “After setting up a college, school and Vedapatashala to foster traditional learning, we felt it was necessary for the people and students in the region to know and appreciate classical music. After all, the Thanjavur belt is home to the Carnatic musical trinity (Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Sastri and Tyagaraja) and in the days of yore, the Kaveri delta was known for its fine arts and musical tradition which migrated to the cities.” In 2009, Ms. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath gave her first musical concert and in 2014, the Swami Dayananda School of Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam was started. “Over 300 students are benefiting from this every year,” Ms. Sheela Balaji said.

In her introduction, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath said she was blessed to be part of the AIM family. Recalling her musical journey, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath said that she would always wake up to her father’s Sadhana and go to sleep with music. “My journey was surrounded by people who fostered art.” Talking about her association with Pujya Swamiji, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath said she visited him in Anaikatti a few times. “He appreciated arts and I decided to be associated with this movement. I have received lot of knowledge from teachers and I wanted to share the same with others.”

Talking about her musical seva in Manjakkudi, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath said how this was a small and tiny village where everyone was warm, affectionate and showered hospitality. “As many of the parents are not exposed to the arts, the students come with a clean slate. There is eagerness in their eyes.”

Sharing an anecdote of a musical class, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath once asked the students what the word moon meant. “One child wrote it was a dot on my mother’s forehead.  Soon, the blackboard was filled with ideas. These are beautiful experiences and such treasures need to be opened up,” Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath said.

Last year, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath came forward and raised funds as ambassador for the upcoming Swami Dayananda Centre for Learning at Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu.  For this purpose, she had dedicated one song from her Moonchild album, Thangamai Rathiname to the children of Manjakkudi. The Bhoomi Puja for this facility was done a few days back and this centre is expected to be opened by the end of this year.

5th Aradhana

Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati attained Mahasamadhi on 23rd September 2015 on the banks of the Ganges at the Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. A world renowned authority on Advaita Vedanta, Swamiji’s empathy extended to all civilisations and all cultural forms.

As homage to our Founder, AIM for Seva was privileged to organise the 5th Aradhana function for five days, from 19th September to 23rd September 2020. As part of the tribute, AIM for Seva relayed one of Swamiji’s best talks ever—Living Versus Getting On– on YouTube. In addition,viewers also got a glimpse into the world of Seva—the many projects initiated by Pujya Swamiji in the fields of rural education, care for the differently-abled, integrated community development projects and publishing of Vedantic literature and dissemination of the same via Arsha Vidya Research  and Publication Trust.

At the time of writing this article, the cumulative viewership for the five day 5thAradhana programme stood over 7,560 and counting.

Day 1 –From Being a Survivor to Becoming a Contributor

The 5th Aradhana began with a 3 minute video on Chatralayams, AIM for Seva flagship project. The viewers got a peek into the Chatralayam eco-system and during last year (2019-2020), over 4,000 students from 16 states and 2,300 villages have been beneficiaries of the Chatralayam intervention.

This was followed by rendering of Bharata Desa Hitaya, AIM for Seva’s national anthem.  After this, part 1 of the five part series—Living Versus Getting on—began with Pujya Swamiji starting the session with a small prayer to Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.

In his talk, PujyaSwamiji got to the point without much ado. He said that a human being is not just a survivor. “Even a mushroom wants to survive but this plant only has a life of 2 to 4 days. It comes quickly and dies quickly!”

Pujya Swamiji said that survival meant a few things: air, water, food and shelter and everything beyond this was a plus, even clothing, unless it is necessary for protection from the elements. “But we cannot just live as survivors, to live beyonda survivor is to go beyond the survivor psyche, I need to become a contributor. When I contribute something, I move beyond the level of a survivor.”

The Founder of AIM for Seva said that are varieties of contribution. “Contribution is not in terms of money alone. Contribution is to convert another person from the level of a survivor to that of a contributor and Vedanta does exactly that.”

Pujya Swamiji then went on to say that among the many danams or contributions, Vidya Danam, the gift of knowledge is considered to be the greatest. “Whether you directly offer vidyä to another person by teaching a language, a discipline of science, or a skill, or indirectly provide a situation for such transference of knowledge to take place, it is a contribution.” By educating and caring for children, one ensures they also end up becoming contributors.

 

Pujya Swamiji concluded the Day 1 talk by saying that to live is to be a positive contributor. “All lifetime, one is a consumer. But then, if I have to live my life positively then I have to cross the line of a survivor, I need to act from a deeper level, a level which includes not just significant others, but that every other person becomes significant. I need to enjoy a depth within myself from where I respond to the world.”

 

The highlight of the 5 day talk was that it was peppered with humour and interesting anecdotes and references in daily living that people could easily relate to.

Day 2—A Contributor is Compassionate

The programme commenced with the viewers being given a virtual tour of Swami Dayananda Krupa Care, a residential facility for differently-abled men situated in the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Started in 2010, Swami Dayananda Krupa Care, seeks to provide an answer to the critical question—“Who afterme?” for parents of special children.

After offering prayers to Lord Ganesha, Pujya Swamiji got back to the topic at hand, contribution. “One has to have a settled level of self reckoning that I am not just a survivor.  A contributor is always a contributor because it is more a recognition about oneself than any given action. It implies a certain degree of compassion.”

Compassion is a dynamic word and in Sanskrit, it is referred as daya.  “This word is generally glossed over but no other word is as important as this one as it marks the inner growth of a person,” stressed Pujya Swamiji. He went on to add that compassion is human and religion should invoke human compassion and not disturb it.

An individual is required to have some amount of compassion as only compassionate people can contribute. “A compassionate person has a certain inner space that is not crowded, pressurised,” stressed Swamiji.

Among values,  ahimsa is most exalted, Ahimsa Paramo dharmah (non-injury is the foremost value). The hallmark of sannyasa is taking the vow of not causing hurt to any being (na himse). Pujya Swamiji then beautifully illustrated with examples how in competitive societies the goal is to hurt one another, but in non-competitive Vaidika society, the goal is only inner growth.

 Day 3—Compassion Evokes the Pleased Self

The third day’s programme began with a glimpse into Manjakkudi, Pujya Swamiji’s Janmabhoomi. Situated on the banks of river Kavery, Manjakkudi has transformed itself into a knowledge and educational hub over the last decade and half. This has been possible due to the efforts of our on ground implementation partner, SDET (Swami Dayananda Educational Trust).

Pujya Swamiji’s lecture on Day 3 began by invoking Lord Ganesha.  Pujya Swamiji told the audience that Ganesha is not confined to any particular form; rather he is Omkara and is an inspiration for every artist.

Pujya Swamiji explained to the audience that normally you don’t have compassion towards somebody when you perceive the person as a threat or a competitor to you, but then you cross those barriers and carry out an act of compassion.  It is then that you become a contributor. It is not what you do, but the level at which you operate that makes you a contributor.” He added that it takes honesty to be strong and to be compassionate.

Also, compassion starts with self-love and that one cannot be compassionate to the outside world unless one is compassionate to oneself. Here Pujya Swamiji highlighted the role of yoga and how compassion started with caring of one’s own body. “Yoga consisting of asanas initially, is good because you begin to care for the body, you have self-love.”

Pujya Swamiji urged the audience to begin with having self-love and self-compassion for the physical body. This self that is self-pleased, ananda svarupa, expresses itself as love when related to the world.

Day 4—Compassion is an Important Value to be Cultivated

On 22 September 2020 (Day 4 of 5th Aradhana), the audience  was first presented with a video on Arsha Vidya Research and Publication Trust, the single source of centre of Swamiji’s writings. Started on 21st February 2005, this non-profit charitable organisation is the single-source centre for teaching and publishing Pujya Swamiji’s teachings.

Beginning his four day talk, Pujya Swamiji highlighted the Four Human Ends—Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa, the four purusarthas. Here purusa means a ‘person’, implying both male and female. Pujya Swamiji stressed that these purusarthas need to be understood as the means to achieve various ends.

Pujya Swamiji again dwelt upon the importance of the attribute, ahimsa paramo dharmah. “When you follow ahimsa, daya is inevitable because you cannot follow ahimsa without being compassionate. He added that compassion is a dynamic form of ananda, and a compassionate person need not tell a lie, and does not need to prove himself or herself as a person.

The quality of compassion needs to be cultivated deliberately and consciously as it can evoke the bigness and wholeness in a person.

Day 5—Compassion Brings Caring

On the last day of the 5th Aradhana, 23rd September 2020, the day Pujya Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi, the viewers were first transported to the Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.The virtualprogramme began with homage (Puja and Mahabhisheka) at Pujya Swamiji’s Adhisthanam at the Ashram.  The puja was performed by Swami Sakshatkrtananda Saraswati ji, Vice Chairman, Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.

After the puja, there was a book release function with Swami Suddhananda Saraswati ji, Chairman, Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, releasing Sri Dakshinamurti Stotram. “There cannot be a better place for the release of this book than Pujya Swamiji’s Adhisthanam and there cannot be a better person to release the book than Swami Suddhananda ji who was associated with Pujya Swamiji for over 50 years. This book was a favourite of Pujya Swamiji. It has been printed very nicely and edited by Swami Sankarananda and we can see Pujya Swamiji all through the pages. The cover page has the stamp of Smt. Sheela Balaji (Chairperson and Managing Trustee, AVR and PT)”  Swami Sakshatkrtananda Saraswati ji said. The picture gallery in the Satsang Hall was then inaugurated by Swami Suddhananda Saraswati ji.

Onthe concluding day of the 5 day talk series—Living Versus Getting On—Pujya Swamiji dwelt on inner space. “If one has this space, one can accommodate people and their limitations. The intelligent way of relating is to discover space within, even while relating.”

“I never saw my mother and father discussing anything. The same is true with most Indians,“ joked Swamiji.  He said that it was important to relate to one’s father or mother, one’s son, brother, sister, spouse, children, employer, employee, co-workers and so on. Even though the same person has to relate to all these others, there is a relevant change in him as the related person changes.”

Swamiji added that I, aham is constant, but the related status ‘I’ assumes should be relevant to the relationship, or there is a problem. I am a son to my mother and a spouse to my husband and wife. This status totally changes with each role and there should be no hangover.

OBITUARY: Swami Pratyagbodhananda Saraswati

It is with great sadness that we share of Swami Pratyagbodhananda Saraswati attaining mahasamadhi on September 20, 2020 at USA at the age of 70. He had a massive heart attack.

Swamiji was born on October 20, 1950 at Gujarat. His purvasrama name was Nitin. He did the second long-term course at Sandeepany Sadanalaya, Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai, from 1976 to 1978. His Brahmachari diksha name was Nityabodha Chaitanya. He was given Sannyasa diksha on March 2, 1992, by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Swamiji taught Vedanta for the past 30 years at Surat, Gujarat, under the auspices of Viswa-Mangalam Trust. He was also Vice President of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Saylorsburg, USA. Swamiji gave lectures in many places in North America.

Swamiji was very simple and easy to approach. He was loved by everyone who came in contact with him. Swamiji was affectionate to everybody. He was very generous in his kindness.

The Arsha Vidya Research and Publication Trust offers shraddanjali to this great Vedanta Acharya. Swamiji had come to Manjakkudi in December 2019 to conduct a Vedanta camp at Jnana Pravaha. It was a week-long retreat for a group of 47 devotees from Surat. Swamiji also visited all seva activities in the village, recalled his memories with Pujya Swamiji and blessed everyone present. The classes took place at Jnana Pravaha lecture hall. The unique structure of the retreat was that the classes were as per a schedule wherein the day began with Pancaayatana Puja conducted by priests from Pathashala for the shrine which the Swamiji’s purva asrama sister Swamini Vibhavananda brought along. Before the puja, individual members had their own meditation at Pujya Swamiji’s shrine (attached to Jnana Pravaha meditation hall).

Just hours before his samadhi, Swamiji received the latest book on Pujya Swamiji’s talks on Sri Dakshinamurti Stotram at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam’s thirty-fourth anniversary function at Saylorsburg, USA. We feel blessed that he has carried our pranams to Pujya Swamiji with him.

Om shantih shantih shantih.

Swamiji taught in English, Gujarati and Hindi. He taught Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Panchadasi and other vedantic texts. He also gave lectures on Tulsi Ramayana and Bhagavata Purana, which were soaked in devotion. Swamiji had extensive satsang with Swami Akhandananda Saraswati of Brindavan, which made his Bhagavata lectures reflect great Krishna bakthi.

Healthy Living

With everyone anxiously awaiting a medicinal remedy to counteract Covid-19, prevention is better than cure and this aspect is the hallmark of traditional medicine systems such as Ayurveda.

Sometime back, AIM for Seva USA held a webinar on ‘Ayurveda and Immunity—For Good health at all Times.’ The speaker was Dr. Parthasarthy  R, Director and Chief Vaidya, Swami Dayananda Jayavarthanevelu Ayurvedalaya, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

Dr Parthasarthy dwelt on the three doshasVatha, Pitha and Kapa and how it was important to follow a diet and lifestyle pattern that did not disturb the three doshas. “To have the doshas in equilibrium, we need to have a proper daily routine as well as seasonal routine.

One should wake up 45 minutes before sun rise (Brahmamuhurtam), exercise in moderation and avoid heavy food at night.”

On matters relating to sleep, Ayurveda states that apart from the duration (7 to 8 hours), quality of sleep is also important.  As per the Ayurvedic texts, 10 pm to 2 pm denotes Kali Yama where melatonin production is at its highest which is crucial to the body repair mechanism.

Eat less is the latest fad and Ayurveda has propagated it much before. “You have to eat half stomach and reserve 25% of the organ for liquids,” said Dr Parthasarthy. Consumption of non-vegetarian food for nutritional purposes was permissible within the tenets of Ayurveda.

The webinar ended with a question and answer session.

Virtual Walkathon: All for a Cause

With the pandemic refusing to fade way, virtual and digital is the new way of life. Be it zoom calls, online classrooms or virtual concerts, e-meeting your colleagues, classmates and audience is the new normal.
And when people get together for a fitness initiative to support a cause like educating rural India, such fund raisers leave a deeper impact in the minds of all stakeholders.
AIM for Seva, USA team recently completed a Good Karma 5k (run/walk,) a few days back. This virtual walkathon saw participation of 1,357 people from across the country (See Box: AIM for Seva USA Chapter wise Participation). Participants registered online for a small fee ($25) and then ran/walked/jogged in their own treadmills and neighbouring parks.
Some of the participants made donations to AIM for Seva while some others (small companies) sponsored the event. The new entrants got an opportunity to witness the good work done by AIM for Seva on ground. What’s heartening is that some of the new members have expressed an interest in our existing projects.
“All our Chapter Sevaks had been working very hard for the past six weeks to turn this event into a success.  We could clearly see Pujya Swamiji’s smile and grace flowing through all of us, especially in his 90th Jayanthi and 20th year of Seva movement,” Srini Raman, Chief Operating Officer, AIM for Seva, USA said.

AIM for Seva was able to raise $ 25,000 through this event. “We met our goal of branding, awareness and fundraising and more importantly, continued with the Seva movement work,” Srini Raman said. He added that it was encouraging to see people wanting to do good and feel good amidst the pandemic situation and other disturbing events taking place in USA currently.

Another north American chapter, AIM for Seva Canada too raised $ 20,000 through a virtual walkathon fundraiser on 31st May.

Walk to Educate, AIM for Seva Canada’s annual walkathon went virtual this year. Each of the participating families were asked to raise $100 in pledges.

USA Chapter Wise Participation

Name of Chapter No of Participants
New Jersey 328
Detroit MI 229
Albany NY 216
San Diego CA 152
Hartford CT 65
Knoxville TN 50
Atlanta GA 48
Raleigh NC 47
Orlando FL 30
Dallas TX 26
Chicago IL 24
San Francisco CA 23
Little Rock AR 19
New York NY 19
Washington DC 16
Austin TX 15
Boston MA 14
Philadelphia PA 9
Dayton OH 8
Seattle WA 7
Pittsburgh PA 6
Fort Meyers FL 2
Elmira NY 1
Fort Lauderdale FL 1
Houston TX 1
Peoria IL 1

Education of a Different Kind: Prayer, Music and Exercise

The countrywide lockdown has resulted in online education occupying centrestage. At the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, not only have the school authorities embraced the virtual classroom mode but technology is also being harnessed to keep our students engaged in other ways.

Slokam, Ragam and Yogam has been a pioneering effort by the school management in this regard. As the name suggests, students are exposed to a prayer, a song and an exercise which is televised through YouTube. Each session is about 20 minutes each and so far, 44 episodes have been telecast. The average daily  viewership is 50.

“We started these sessions to remove fear about the disease (Covid-19) and increase the confidence to fight against the situation. Accordingly, we conceptualised Slokam (Apamarjana stotram —cleansing the body from the disease), Raagam (to relax the mind and heart) and Yogam (to relax the body with a focus on physical fitness),” says Smt. Padma Raghunathan, principal, Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu.

The target audience is the school staff, students and parents. “We plan to extend this to families and friends of our stakeholders,” says Smt. Raghunathan.

How to win over stress and anxiety in these times

Apart from Seva on the field, AIM for Seva is providing people access to timeless wisdom by making available free online titles written by Pujya Swamiji and spiritual webinars.

From 21 to 23 May, Swami Omkarananda Saraswati ji from Theni, Tamil Nadu, held a one hour webinar (6 pm to 7 pm) where he enlightened the audience on how to deal with stress, anxiety and insecurity arising out of Covid-19. More than 1000 participants saw the programme live.

Swamiji begun by comparing the current insecurity faced by all to that of Arjuna in the battlefield. When he realises that war is about killing his own kith and kin, he experiences psychological stress and surrenders to Krishna.

“We need inner leisure. And those who have full knowledge of Bhagvad Gita will be successful in life,” averred Swamiji.   Swamiji added that having Sraddha will ensure that we never have doubts or anxiety, deep sorrow or deep ecstasy, pleasure or happiness. A person who is ever doubting will never succeed in his or her material or spiritual pursuits. Swamiji also reminded the audience that happiness is a simple emotion but achieving that becomes tough because we attach many pre-conditions to it. Also, conflict is the result of too many choices. “Ultimately, we strive for PSH-peace, security and happiness,” said Swamiji.

Swamiji also said that if we continue to identify ourselves only with our body then we will only seek material pursuits. On the other hand, if we identify ourselves with Jiva then we will be accommodative of all life’s lessons.

In a lighter vein, Swamiji asked the audience that while everyone keenly follows Jyotish Shastra (astrology) and Vaastu Shashtra (traditional Indian system of architecture), but what about Dharma Shastra? He told the webinar participants that as per our scriptures, God is everywhere and does not reside in heavens alone. “The home is a temple and we worship water, fire, serpents, etc.”

Swamiji also good humouredly pointed out that we live in times where religious places of worship continue to remain shut for fear of Covid-19 spread but liquor shops continue to remain open. He reminded the audience of the ten verses in Thirukkural composed by the patron saint of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvalluvar extolling people to refrain from consuming alcohol.

According to Swamiji, the need of the hour was development of spiritual wealth. “Too much of greed leads to anxiety. Contentment is natural wealth, while luxury is artificial poverty.” Swamiji advocated cultivation of values such as contentment, contribution (Danam), patience, a clear vision (discerning ability), humility and appreciation.

For easy remembrance, Swamiji advocated 4 Ds—Discrimination (distinguishing between dharma and adharma), dispassion, discipline (values and attitudes) and discovery (of self and Ishvara). The 4Ds help us discover ultimate peace in life.”

The three days’ webinar concluded with a powerful message from Swamiji. “Whenever my eyes are open, I should think what I can do for society so that when I close my eyes, I feel peace with myself.”

The audience lapped every word and minute of the three day seminar as evidenced from the feedback. “I have no words to express – the  joy and appreciation we all listeners and viewers felt – when we listen to Swamiji’s powerful Prana packed voice, expert cross referencing in shastras to drive home a point and wonderful message and vision,” said one.

Another participant said the need for Karma yoga bent of mind came out well during the webinar.

Corona Virus Awareness Programme

With India reporting 112 cases of the novel Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19), awareness building assumes greater significance than ever before.

A Corona Virus Awareness Programme was conducted for all students and staff members of Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, On 12th March. Sri.M.G. Srinivasan, correspondent of the college presided over the function.

Smt.V.Hema, principal in-charge welcomed the gathering. Dr.K. Balakumaravelu, retired medical officer, Kodavasal,Tamil Nadu, and Dr. Sivagurunathan, medical officer, Primary Health Centre, Tiruvidachery, Tamil Nadu, spoke about the origin of the disease, causes, symptoms, transmission and precautions. The medical practitioners gave pointers on how to identify the disewipase early and how to protect oneself from it. The doctors listed out the ‘do’s and don’t’s with respect to CoronaVirus and indicated its symptoms, fever, cough and shortness of breath. Precautionary measures include hand, respiratory and surface hygiene. The medical professionals also demonstrated handwashing and mask donning.

Sri.M.R. Rajagopal, manager-Wipro and Dr.N. Kanakasabesan, Dean – Academics, Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, attended the programme.

On 11th March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. A pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations. There are now more than 153,648 confirmed Coronavirus cases across 146 countries.

Diwali Greetings

Sri. N. Jayakumar Ganapathi and Sri. N. Girish Kumar from Singapore, committed donors to our cause have heralded in a festive cheer.  On the occasion of Diwali, new dresses, sweets, savouries and crackers sponsored by Sri. N. Jayakumar Ganapathi  and Sri. N. Girish Kumar have been distributed to our students studying and living at our Chatralayams in Chinnasalem, Sriperumbudur, Thennampattu, Mulvoy in Tamil Nadu on 9th  November 2020.

Sri. N. Jayakumar Ganapathi and Sri. N. Girish Kumar have also sponsored a similar Diwali hamper for the girls at the Unnao Chatralayam in Uttar Pradesh this year.

Talk on Ishvara and Saraswati Antarvahani

On the auspicious occasion of Saraswati Puja (25th October 2020), AIM for Seva organised a virtual fund raiser for the girl child. Programme highlights included a talk on Ishvara by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati from the Hastamalakiyam camp, Rishikesh (April 2009) and Saraswati Antarvahini by Kalakshetra Foundation.

We have happy to share that till date, over 3,163 people have viewed this programme and counting.

The event began with Saraswati Antarvahini by the Kalakshetra repertory. In her introduction, Smt. Revathi Ramachandran, director, Kalakshetra Foundation explained to the audience that Saraswati is a river which is mentioned in the Rg Veda but lost her significance in the post Vedic period. “She came to be associated with knowledge, arts, literature, music, dance and so on. Saraswati is symbolic of intelligence, creativity, imagination and education.”

The dancers then mesmerised the audience with Saraswati Antarvahini. In their presentation, they brought to life the concept of ‘Saraswati’ – a timeless idea that cannot be captured in a given space. The ancients offered a naama and ruupa to this idea. They named it Saraswati. If it flowed through the terrain with a physical source, course and destination, it is called nadi Saraswati. If it is contained in a stone or wood through a ritualistic installation, it is called pratishta Saraswati. If it is manifested in words, it is kaavya Saraswati. If it is enacted through a dancer, it is called naatya Saraswati. In essence, Saraswati is a powerful catalyst of our civilisation.

The dance programme was followed by Pujya Swamiji’s talk on Ishvara. Pujya Swamiji begins the discourse with a powerful statement —Idam sarvam iisha vaasyam—all that is here, known and unknown are Ishvara and that is the truth.”

Pujya Swamiji then goes on to add that Ishvara in essence is limitless consciousness and stresses that Ishvara is always within us and can’t go away from us.

Pujya Swamiji makes his audience see that Ishvara is not a matter of belief, but a matter of understanding. He illumines the fact that Ishvara is manifest in the form of one mahā order which includes all orders. The infallible order is Ishvara. Pujya Swamiji says that we have to intimately recognise the order that is total—Ishvara in all its detailed manifestation in our life. We can’t gloss over with a general statement, ’all that is here is ishvara.’ “It is then that you are in touch with Ishvara.”

In the abiding presence of Ishvara as order of orders, the jīva’s thoughts and emotions are validated. As they occur, they have a place in the order. That understanding frees us from guilt and helps us do what is to be done. If we have that understanding, we can relax.  Pujya Swamiji makes us ask ourselves: Can you be away from Ishvara? The answer is that Ishvara, who is manifest in the form of order, pervades the jīva all the way – and we cannot be alienated from him at any level of our life.

We conclude the section by sharing some testimonials received from the audience who watched this programme.

*  “Educating a girl child is a noble cause and my request to all Pujya Swamiji’s devotees to sponsor at least one child.”

Sri. T.R. Mahalingam
* “Wonderful creation of Ishvara followed by what promises to be an engrossing talk on Him. We are thankful to AIM for Seva.”

–Sri. Pravat Kumar Mishra

  • “Since this year, I have stopped taking gurudakshina from students and asked all of them to support activities of AIM for Seva. Some had donated during Navaratri and others wish to do more regularly. Hoping that the pandemic will cease so that we can actively contribute much more. “

–Swamini Sumatmananda ji

  • “Great performance, very thankful for the premiere invite and wishing the team all the very best for many more wonderful performances.”

Sri. Jawahar Narayanan

Golu

Independence Day Celebrations

Independence Day was celebrated across the AIM for Seva network on 15th August 2020.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the celebrations were small scale in all places. At Manjakkudi, the birthplace of our Founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Independence Day was celebrated at the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School.

A select group of students, teachers and other senior officials from the Swami Dayananda Educational Trust (SDET) participated in the function by maintaining social distancing norms and donning masks. The tricolour was unfurled by Sri. M.G. Srinivasan, trustee, Swami Dayananda Educational Trust. He then addressed the gathering. The school choir sang Tamizh Thai Vazhthu followed by the flag song. The programme ended by playing of the National Anthem and sweets distribution.

Founder Day Celebrations

15th August is synonymous with Independence Day in India. For the AIM for Seva family, 15th August also symbolises the birth date of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. A globally renowned spiritual teacher and master, Pujya Swamiji’s influence on the world stage has been enormous.

Pujya Swamiji did not confine himself to just Vedanta and his benevolence and empathy extended to all civilisations and all cultural forms that helped bring positive change in the lives of thousands of people. He strove to preserve, nurture and appreciate the diversity of human culture.

This year also marks Pujya Swamiji’s 90 Jayanthi.  AIM for Seva hosted a two day virtual programme to commemorate Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s  90th Jayanthi. The programme held on 8 and 9 August 2020, was attended by devotees from across the globe.

The event saw an overwhelming response, with around 1,500 people registering for the event.

In addition Pujya Swamiji’s 90th Jayanthi was also commemorated across the AIM for Seva network. At the Emirates AIM for Seva Chatralayam, Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, the day commenced with a puja and homam. This was followed by distribution of food packets, bed sheets and Kabasura Kudineer to 100 senior citizen workers and Swachh Bharat santitation workers. In all, 500 masks and food packets were distributed to the people in the vicinity of the Chatralayam.

Kabasura Kudineer is a herbal concoction that is recommended as an anti-viral formulation by the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, for Siddha practitioners who are treating Covid-19 patients.

The programme was sponsored by Dr. Thiyagaseelan , Sri.  Sakthivel and Sri. Krishnan, all of whom are local supporters and well wishers.

Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati 90th Jayanti Programme

AIM for Seva hosted a two-day virtual programme to commemorate Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s 90th Jayanti. The programme, held on 8 and 9 August, 2020, was attended by devotees from across the globe.

The event saw an overwhelming response, with around 1,500 people registering for the event. Around 5,000 people (and counting) have viewed the first day’s programme (8 August) and 2,800 people (and counting) have viewed the second day’s programme (9 August) on YouTube (at the time of writing this article).

On August 8, the programme began with a special puja in Manjakkudi, Pujya Swamiji’s janmabhoomi. The puja was held at Jnana Pravaha, a living tribute to Pujya Swamiji’s memory and the continuing tradition of his teachings. At Jnana Pravaha, seekers may get immersed in Pujya Swamiji’s teachings, contemplate and meditate on them in their own time, and use the resources available to further their knowledge.

The puja was followed by rendering of Dayananda Pancakam by some young students. Devotees were also shown glimpses of the house where Pujya Swamiji was born. Then, the first part of the recording of “Personal Re-Engineering”, a talk given by Pujya Swamiji in New Delhi on July 17, 2010, was telecast. This was the first time that the recording of this talk was aired on a public forum. The talk was followed by a pictorial tribute that brought together glimpses from Pujya Swamiji’s life and times.

On August 9, the programme began with a special puja at the Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. The Swami Dayananda Ashram was established by Pujya Swamiji in the early 1960s, when he went and stayed in Rishikesh to study the Brahmasutras under a traditional teacher of Vedanta. In the Ashram is the majestic Gangadeeshwara Temple. The lingam in the temple was lifted by Pujya Swamiji from the banks of the Ganga and brought to the spot where the temple stands today. It was at the Swami Dayananda Ashram that Pujya Swamiji attained mahasamadhi, and where his adhishtanam is placed. The puja was conducted by Swami Sakshatkrtananda Saraswati ji, Vice Chairman of the Swami Dayananda Ashram. Swami Suddhananda Saraswati ji, Chairman, Swami Dayananda Ashram joined in the puja vandanam. The viewers were also treated to some glimpses of the majestic Ganga. The puja was followed by the second part of “Personal Re-Engineering”.

In “Personal Re-Engineering”, Pujya Swamiji touched on the importance of personal growth. In his characteristically good humoured style, Pujya Swamiji asked the audience if birthdays warranted celebrations? “If one deliberates inner growth, it calls for celebrations,” he said. Pujya Swamiji then went on to highlight the importance given to age in our tradition. “We respect age. Wrinkles are an indication that the person has seen many summer and winters. Older women never went in for face lifts as wrinkles were symbols of inner growth!”

Pujya Swamiji added that one way of a person becoming more objective was by reducing one’s own subjectivity. “One is objective when one addresses problems the way it has to be addressed. To become objective, we would first have to re-engineer ourselves.” He said that knowledge of Vedanta makes every person understand oneself, the core person playing different roles in life. Even father, mother, sister, brother, employer, employee are only roles played by the basic person. Taking the role of mother, Swamiji said even though she is the author of the child, she does not know anything about the anatomy. That is because all knowledge rests in Ishvara, and parents are only associates of Ishvara. Likewise, all other roles in life are roles played by the basic person. So, if we know all knowledge is Ishvara, and we are only playing various roles, we are being objective.

Pujya Swamiji then spoke of the next aspect where we can grow: Procrastination, or the tendancy to delay or postpone an action because it is difficult. “We all have this tendency to procrastinate. I have to do this. I will do it tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes,” he joked. He cautioned everyone that constant procrastination leads to an impairment of self-esteem. “It would lead to guilt as the person has not been able to live up to their own expectations.”

Swamiji said the only way to overcome this defect is to deal with the most difficult thing upfront. “When you go to office, take up the most difficult task first, priortise it. It will be a bit painful at first, but once you do it, you will feel a change and not feel guilty anymore.” Procrastination leads to hurt and guilt and many a good relationship is lost due to procrastination.

Swamiji then talked about one more effective way to grow in any area. He said if one wants to be a good swimmer, one has to practise swimming. If one wants to be a good driver, one has to practise driving. Likewise, if you want to be a giver, a contributor in life, you have to start giving. In this context, Pujya Swamiji quoted a beautiful verse from the Sama Veda. “Setuunshtara…..In order to get over adaanam, start giving. The act of giving is the bridge that will help you become a giver. What is difficult to cross is adaanam (incapacity to give is adaanam). By giving, you learn to give.”

Pujya Swamiji then talked about how to get over hurt and guilt from one’s life. In this area, Pujya Swamiji said that meditation would help. It is possible to keep away hurt and guilt away for the time being in meditation. At the end of the session, he conducted a Guided Meditation session for all participants (shared with all viewers of the programme). Pujya Swamiji told the audience that this type of Meditation should be followed every day, preferably when the day’s activities are over.

The two-day programme was well received by all participants, and many people took the time to write to us to share their feedback. We have shared some of these comments below:

“Gurubhyo namaha. Thank you for the two wonderful days of bringing the rich moments to us.”
Anuradha Mukundan

“Both the days are programmed in a nice way that was pleasing. It reflected the mission of Swamiji. Wonderful selection of speeches and the method of meditation. Thank You.”

Professor.Dr. R.Thiagarajan

 “Our pranams to the organisers of this Jayanti prayer. Our pranams to Pujiya Swamiji. We are where we are because of Swamiji’s blessing.”

Sathasivam Govindasamy

 “Thanks so much for organising this programme. May God please all for you with the best of life!”

Atmaprakash Bhaveja

“Hari Om. My salutations to all. Pada Namaskarams to all Swamijis and Swaminis. We get solace when we are under the umbrella of our Pujya Swamiji. My sincere gratitude to AIM for seva for bringing us all together. Wishing many more events.”

Narasimham Lakshmi Pingali

International Yoga Day

On 21 June, students across our Chatralayams got together and participated in International Yoga Day.

The students from the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Sembangudi, Tamil Nadu, displayed their yoga prowess in colourful attire. The boys from Bihar weren’t far behind. The students from the Sumitra Surma AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Bihar, did pranayamam and other exercises on the occasion of International Yoga Day.

Most of the students in our Chatralayams are safe back in their homes after the outbreak of Covid-19. We still have 250 students residing with us across 104 hostels. These students come from distant locations where transportation services have not fully resumed and they are being looked after by our wardens and coordinators.

Yoga is an important component of the value-based education model of AIM for Seva. Our 4,000 students across 104 Chatralayams do 30 minutes of yoga everyday.

Shiva Shakti and talk on Psychology and ContemporaryManagement

On 13th December 2020, AIM for Seva presented a virtual event in aid of Annadanam for the students living across our Chatralayas in India.

The programme began with a mesmerising performance Shiva Shakti in a dance theatre format by acclaimed Odissi exponent Sharmila Biswas. This was followed by a talk, ‘Psychology & Contemporary Management’ by our Founder, Pujya Swami DayanandaSaraswati.

Proceeds from the programme have been designated towards Annadanamof 250 students currently living across our Chatralayas in India. The number of people who have viewed this programme is over 1,000 and counting. Registrations were received from 19 countries that included Israel, Argentina, Japan, Reunion Islands and Luxembourg, to name a few.

Shiva Shakti has found its genesis at a time when we have all, as a world, been forced to introspect, cope and find expressions, anew. Shiva Shakti is a search to connect the animate and the inanimate world. One exists for the other. One shelters the other.Shiva Shakti – the inanimate and the animate. In the cosmic cycle they come together again and again, to bring universal harmony.

Pujya Swamiji’s talk followed the dance theatre. In his lecture, Swamiji touched upon a core aspectof our lives – desires. He begins by saying that we can deal with thetopic from different angles.

Pujya Swamiji delves into success or siddhi the way it was visualised by ancient rsis and the contemporary concept of the same. According to economists starting with Adam Smith, the human being is viewed as a consumer. “This comes from a concept, a theological concept that everyone is inadequate and imperfect and that each one is a desirer,” says Pujya Swamiji. In desiring for position, power, name and fame—there is a desire to become different from what I am now. “So the whole life is a process of becoming because one desires. This is a universal thing about a human being,” explains Pujya Swamiji.

He goes on to add that as per the Bhagavad Gita desires are of two types, a desire to acquire things and there is an equally powerful desire to avoid and also to get rid of. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad Gita that I am a desire in a human being and that is a privilege and life is lived by managing the desires.

As the Lord manifests in the form of desires, human beings have freedom in desiring and this sets the individual in motion. And while all of us experience varying degree of success in our lifetimes, the problem arises when we are not able to accept the results of our endeavour with equanimity.

Pujya Swamiji stresses that it is important to take results as they come. “While I have choice over my action, the result given to me is fourfold—equal to my expectation, more than expected, less than expected or fully opposite to what I expected.” So, when we approach our workplace activity or any desire fulfilling activity with this approach of being prepared to receive the outcomes with equanimity, then there is only success, no failure.

Moreover, the Indian culture stresses importance of duty rather than work or job per se. “If I am able to perform my duty, I will be able to take the results of action objectively by bringing in an attitude of prasada. So I start enjoying the job and once I start enjoying the process, there is no failure,” says Pujya Swamiji.

In a nutshell, Pujya Swamiji stressed that management of desires – ensuring you drive them, and that you are not driven by them – is success. This style of management by the individual converts a job into a duty to be done. Duty performed without being bound by desires is ‘success.’ Contemporary management is this type of self-management by employees rather than being managed by superiors.

 The Sound of Music, Chants and Stories at Sembangudi

AIM for Seva is happy to share and announce that evening classes on slokas and bhajans has commenced again from 14th April 2021 at the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Sembangudi, Tamil Nadu.

Classes begin with an arathi and prasadam distribution in the end. Students then play for half an hour in the evening in the vicinity of the Chatralayam campus. Yoga classes are conducted in the mornings.

Since last year, the coordinator of our girls Chatralayam in Sembangudi, Tamil Nadu, Swamini Swaminathapriya ji, has embarked on disseminating cultural and value-based education to students in the village.

Sembangudi which is in close vicinity to Manjakkudi, the birthplace of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, boasts of a hoary musical tradition. One of the doyens of Carnatic music, Semmangudi Srininvasa Iyer hailed from this village in Tiruvarur district in Tamil Nadu.

In addition to AIM for Seva’s Chatralayam, the Swami Dayananda Educational Trust (SDET), the implementing partner of AIM for Seva, runs two schools and a college in Sembangudi and Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu. SDET is keeping alive the tradition in the region by imparting value-based education and musical training to students from rural India.

“Value-based education is essential for the holistic development of a child. Value-based education develops a well-balanced individual with a strong character. Such pedagogy also promotes effective learning and underpins continuous improvement of the personal, social, moral and economic well being. It encourages children to stay connected to our deep cultural roots. By remaining connected to these roots, embedded in our identity is essential to our existence,” Swamini Swaminathapriya ji, the coordinator of the two girls Chatralayam in Sembangudi said.

The girls who are part of this programme are students of the Sembangudi (junior and senior) girls Chatralayam as well as others from the vicinity of the village.  The programme curriculum includes teaching of basic Sanskrit slokas, mantras and devotional prayer songs.

Our Founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati propagated an educational programme that he referred to as Sandhya Gurukulam. This was to be conducted in the evenings in villages, where children came together at a common place for learning. It was visualised as a wholesome concept which aimed at overall growth of a child. The idea was to shape young minds especially those who lived in rural and tribal lands. That’s because a child living in a far off mountain or a forested area is often left to fend for him or herself as parents grapple with issues relating to daily livelihood. Also, the impact of television has been strong in many rural areas that the child has barely time to cope with daily homework and studies, let alone imbibing good habits or knowing about one’s cultural heritage. The answer Pujya Swamiji felt was in the Sandhya Gurukulam model.

New Computer Lab Inaugurated AT Amreli Chatralayam

A computer laboratory with six computers has been inaugurated at the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Amreli, Gujarat, on 21st March 2021. This facility was inaugurated by Sri. Hasmuk Patel, campus director, Primary/Madhyamik/High School/Higher Secondary School and Engineering College of Vidyasabha Campus, Amreli, Gujarat.

Local people from the surrounding areas graced this computer lab inauguration event. The room bore a festive look with balloons and other floral décor. The programme commenced with lighting of the lamp by the hostel coordinator, Swami Nityasuddhananda Saraswati ji and a Chatralayam student. This was followed by a group prayer by the Chatralayam students.

Swami Nityasuddhananda Saraswati ji thanked the donor of the computer laboratory, Smt. Hitaishi R. Zaveri from (USA) and appreciated her association with the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Amreli, Gujarat.

Six new computers (central processing unit plus monitors) have been installed at the Chatralayam premises for the benefit of the students.

Donor : Smt. Hitaishi R. Zaveri  (USA) in the name of Pushpa Chttranjan Mehta.

Thank you for your noble endeavour.

A New Chapter

The Tiruvikrama Bala AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Gudivada, Andhra Pradesh, added a few feather to its cap recently. The Swami Dayananda Vanaprastha Ashramam at the Gudivada Chatralayam campus was inaugurated on the auspicious day of Ugadi (13th April). Ugadi marks the beginning of the Telugu New Year. On this occasion, a Lakshmi Ganapathi Homam was performed to mark the inauguration.

The coordinator of the Gudivada Chatralayam (Swami Sthairyananda Saraswati ji) said that a new form of seva has begun in the name of Vanaprastha Ashramam.

As per the Hindu tradition, the Vanaprastha stage is a transition phase from a householder with its greater emphasis on worldly things to one with greater emphasis on Moksha (spiritual liberation). Here in Vanaprastha, the idea is to advocate the journey to peaceful life with discipline, seva mind, satsangs and perfect dedication to Bhagavan.

The Gudivada Chatralayam houses boys in the age group of 9 to 22 years. They come from the neighbouring 23 villages. A kitchen garden, library and computer centre is located in the premises for the benefit of our students.

The alumni from the Gudivada Chatralyam continue to retain ties with the hostel. From finding employment as a lab technician to setting sights in the hospitality sector, entering the world of move making, the former students from the Gudivada Chatralayam continue to make AIM for Seva proud .

Art-science intersection on the banks of the Kaveri

On 6th March 2021, a small and quiet Bhoomi Puja was done to commence work for a new project– Swami Dayananda Centre for Learning. The programme saw participation of Sri. M.G. Srinivasan, Trustee, Swami Dayananda Educational Trust (SDET) as well as few students and teachers from the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu.

This upcoming art-science intervention is expected to be completed by October 2021. We thank Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath, ambassador, for spearheading this project. We also take this opportunity to thank the donors who have come forward and contributed to our endeavour to educate rural India.

DETAILS OF THE UPCOMING CENTRE ARE SHARED BELOW.

The Swami Dayananda Centre for Learning at Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu has been set up with a vision to provide holistic learning to children from rural India. Over the last 15 years, Manjakkudi has evolved into an educational and knowledge hub and soon this tiny village will have another feather in its cap in the form of an art-science centre for learning.

Numerous scientific studies have pointed that the formative years of an individual hold the building blocks to a fulfilling life. It is in the early years that a child showcases his or her creative and experimentative side to the world. But such potential can only be fully realised in a proper environmental setting.

The Swami Dayananda Centre for Learning proposes to be one such fulfilling environment for children from rural India. We are happy to share that 95% of the students who are set to benefit from this art -science intervention are first generation learners. Their home environment is not conducive to holistic learning.

As a mark of affection to the children of Manjakkudi, acclaimed Carnatic musician, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath came forward to raise awareness about this project. She partnered with Milaap, India’s largest crowd funding partner to bring in contributors for this cause. Smt.Bombay Jayashri dedicated a lullaby from the Moonchild album—Thangamani Rathiname— to the children of Manjakkudi.

For over seven years now, Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath has been teaching music in a creative way to the students studying in our schools and college in Manjakkudi and Sembangudi, Tamil Nadu.

“Children in India, especially in rural areas must be encouraged to imagine and dream, to listen to beautiful narratives, explore hands on and express, without restrictions. I firmly believe that a child’s emotional, social and intellectual development starts with the first lullaby heard. Just as how the lullaby soothes the child to drift into sleep, every child deserves a loving environment which nurtures and nourishes learning and opens up a world of beauty within,” she says.

The Swami Dayananda Centre for Learning will provide a space where teachers and educators will instill and motivate children to learn via the mediums of art, science, music and value education classes. At the Atal Tinkering Lab, they will have a space to think out of the box, explore and experiment.

In fact, history is rife with examples of scientists who were also artists and have contributed to both science and art in their own ways. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most celebrated artist –scientist of the Renaissance era. Back home, the daily morning ritual of kolam is also a reflection of an art-science confluence, intricate geometric designs decorated outside many homes.

The Swami Dayananda Centre for Learning hopes to be one such ideal centre of intersection of the two disciplines.

This cause is extremely dear to Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath’s heart. “I take this opportunity to thank the students at Manjakkudi. From the context of a rural child, my experience has shown that musical education can be a great equaliser. It gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to be deeply involved in this transformation process and witness the real change among the changemakers of tomorrow.”

Communication Lab Inaugurated at the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science

There is a new addition to the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu.The Communication Lab was inaugurated by the college correspondent, Sri. M.G. Srinivasan on 10th February 2021. This lab is located in the main block.

In his address, Sri. Srinivasan welcomed the faculty members and students and spoke on the importance of this facility for students. Sri. Srinivasan appreciated the efforts put in by Ms. Sheela Balaji, Chairperson and Managing Trustee, AIM for Seva towards this project that would enhance the communication skills of the students.

First and second year students have Communicative English and Professional English as part of their curriculum.

This lab would facilitate practicals for the same. Also, final year students can attend training sessions and take online exams in this research space.

The English Lab consists of 24 systems which are equipped with i3  10th generation processor, 4 GB RAM, 1 TB hard disk and a 10 KVA online UPS. The internet connection comes with upto 300 MBP speed while the software is Windows 10 operating system.

“An environment is being created where students can empower themselves by utilising the lab and enhance their communication skills,” V. Hema. principal, Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, said.

Spiritual Celebrations at Dighawat Chatralayam

To mark the first year of service to society, the coordinator of the Swami AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Dighawat, Uttar Pradesh, did a homam in the premises for the welfare of all.

Located in Aurai Taluk, Bhadohi District, Uttar Pradesh, the Dighawat Chatralayam is home to 83 in the age bracket of 7 to 17 years. The boys come from the 20 villages nearby. We thank the donors to this project, Dr Urmilla Khilanani and Dr. Prem Khilanani, for their endowment towards educating rural India.

Twinning for a Cause: Inauguration of Tailoring Classes and Sandhya Gurukulam at Bidar

The staff and coordinator of the Dr. Rangrao N Jadhav AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Bidar, Karnataka, recently unveiled an empowerment project for women from the surrounding villages.

Women from the neighbouring villages will be taught basics in tailoring everyday from 12 noon to 2 pm. Already, eight home makers have joined this course. The inauguration of this programme was held on 15th February 2021. Prominent dignitaries from the nearby areas graced the inaugural event.

When it comes to the girl child, AIM for Seva’s intervention goes beyond basic education. Through its community development projects, AIM for Seva equips women with vocational skills which will help give them a leg up on the road to progress.

The NGO is running three tailoring centres in Uttarakhand. Recently, an annual tailoring convocation was held at the three sewing centres located in Uttarakhand. A total of 27 students from Haripur Kalan, Shyampur Khadri and Bapugram graduated this year (2019-2020).

The coordinator of the Bidar Chatralayam also embarked on a Sandhya Gurukulam initiative in villages surrounding Bidar on the same day. The Founder of AIM for Seva, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati propagated a value-based educational outreach initiative that he referred to as Sandhya Gurukulam. This programme was to be conducted in the evenings in villages where children came to a common venue. It was visualised as a programme that aimed at overall growth of a child. The idea was to shape young minds especially those living in rural and tribal areas. That’s because a child living in a far off mountainous region or forested area is often left to fend for himself or herself as parents grapple with issues related to daily livelihood. Also, the deep penetration of television in rural areas coupled with gadgets has resulted in the child not paying attention to homework and daily studies, let alone imbibing good habits or knowing about one’s cultural heritage. The Sandhya Gurukulam model was an important step in culture validation for children in rural India.

Sandhya Gurukulam classes have commenced in three villages surrounding Bidar. Apart from daily tuitions, children are also being taught slokas in Kanada and art and craft activity are being conducted everyday.

At Rachappagondgaon village, Ms. Halamma. Is presently taking classes for nine students, while seven students have already enrolled at the Sandhya Gurukulam module at Morambi village while in Gorta village, 10 students have joined this programme.

New Beginnings

An expansion of the Seshachariar AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Cumbum, Tamil Nadu is currently underway. A Bhoomi Puja was performed to initiate construction of the first floor of the Chatralayam on 11th December 2020.

Spread over 3,150 square feet, the construction of the first floor at the Cumbum Chatralayam is being supported by AIM for Seva USA. This area will house an additional dormitory, a counselling room, a library / study room and an activity room along with five washrooms.

The boys residing and studying at the Cumbum Chatralayam are from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They come from 34 neighbouring villages spread across five districts.

Tailoring Convocation at Uttarakhand

While rural education is AIM for Seva’s mainstay, the NGO has also devised and rolled out other impactful programmes across India in the course of the last 20 years .

The charity that is focussed on rural India has impacted over 20 million lives via projects in healthcare, community development and sustainable living and day and residential care facilities for the differently-abled.

In terms of the flagship programme, Chatralayam, over one-fifth (21 out of 104) Chatralayams are for girl students. In addition, we run a K-12 school for girls in Khategaon district, Madhya Pradesh.

When it comes to the girl child, AIM for Seva’s intervention just doesn’t end with education. Through its community development projects, AIM for Seva ensures women empowerment enabling them to take their first steps towards economic independence.

Towards this end, we are happy to share that the annual tailoring convocation  at all the three sewing centres located in Uttarakhand was held  on  28th October 2020. A total of 27 students  from Haripur Kalan, Shyampur Khadri and  Bapugram graduated this year (2019-2020).  The one year basic course in tailoring follows the November-October calendar.

At this year’s tailoring convocation function, the students received the certificates and sewing machines from Swami Sakshatkrtananda Saraswati ji, Vice Chairman, Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.

The highlight of the event was an exhibition put up by the graduating students of their tailored ware stitched during the course of the year.

Personal Hygiene Gets a Boost

A new sanitation facility has been constructed at the Bapu-Buddh AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Indore, Madhya Pradesh.  United India Insurance spearheaded this initiative under their CSR (corporate social responsibility)  programme.

This facility was inaugurated on 10th November 2020 with senior officers from United India Insurance, Sri. Sanjay Kumar Khare, chief regional manager, Ms. Lipika Kalra, regional manager – regional office, Bhopal, CSR-United India Insurance, gracing the inaugural event along with their divisional managers from Indore. Supporters of AIM for Seva also participated in this function.

From the student standpoint, access to good sanitation facilities at all times will ensure they don’t fall sick at regular intervals. Furthermore, waterborne diseases that arise from inadequate restrooms are a key reason for the ill health of children not just in India but around the world. Access to clean and hygienic restroom facilities results in formation of good personal hygiene and cleanliness habits, early on in life.

Previously, United India Insurance lent support for construction of a sanitation facility at the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Dindori, Madhya Pradesh in 2018.

NEW AND HIGH

In this section, we present to you the latest updates of new projects from the field.

  • New Hostel for Boys

The formal inauguration of AIM for Seva’s Chatralayam for Boys in Tondikatti, Karnataka was held on 28 December 2019. Located in Belgaum district  this 4,595 square feet Chatralayam will support and provide value-based education to 100 boys from the neighbouring villages.

The Tondikatti hostel project is supported by LIC Housing Finance. Last April, a Bhoomi Pooja of the AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Tondikatti, Karnataka was held. Guest and dignitaries from the nearby villages such as Bijaguppi, Bundikhurd, Kunnal, Kamakeri, Guttugoli and Hosakoti attended the event.

We thank LIC Housing Finance for supporting our journey in educating rural India.

A glimpse into the Swami Dayananda Vedapatshala

Manjakkudi is the Janmabhoomi of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Pujya Swamiji was the foremost teacher in Vedanta in modern times. In keeping with his vision, the Swami Dayananda Educational Trust is committed to conserve, preserve and propagate Vedic studies through the Swami Dayananda Vedapatashala located in Kodavasal- near Manjakkudi–a place steeped in history.

  • Started in 2006, the Vedapatahala runs a 7 year course that teaches mantrams and yagnams, and is run by expert faculty members.

AIM for Seva is in Such Great Hands!

AIM for Seva is formally set to launch a new hostel building for girls in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. Once functional, this building will be able to accommodate 50 girls. In the first phase, 15 of our girls who are currently studying and living in a rented Chatralayam facility in Dehradun will move to the new building. One of AIM for Seva’s supporters recently visited the upcoming girls Chatralayam in Rishikesh and came back impressed with with our efforts to promote rural education. Here is his account:

“I had a great opportunity to visit Rishikesh recently and got to see some of AIM for Seva’s activities in the region. There is a girls’ hostel in the area that currently operates out of a rented space. Last year, a very generous donor from Seattle, Mr. Shyam Oberoi, decided to sponsor the building of a brand new hostel so that those girls can have a permanent space and more girl students can also join the facility. I was joined on this trip by Mr. Oberoi’s son, Rajat, and his daughter-in-law, Nidhi, plus some of our other family members from India.

The purpose of my visit was to interact with the girl students and also do the inaugural pooja of the new hostel building which is almost ready to move-in. As a bonus, I got to visit Pujya Swamiji’s ashram in Rishikesh and saw his mahasamadhi.

The current Chatralayam houses 15 girls who study in a local private English medium school located nearby. The girls greeted us all with a beautiful welcome song in English. The girl student ranging from 8 to 16 years are super excited about learning and studies, with maths being a favourite subject for many. Many of them dream to become doctors or teachers.

The new three story building sponsored by donors from Seattle and will become operational by mid-November

As part of the inaugural, we participated in a traditional pooja ceremony. The Ganesh pooja was followed by a navagraha homam.

On the whole, it was an emotional and eventful visit. After meeting the girls, we are even more convinced that by providing access to underprivileged children to benefit from good education, we can get them out of the poverty trap.

My faith in the efforts of AIM for Seva was enhanced further after meeting Swami Hamsananda Saraswati ji (the coordinator of AIM for Seva’s projects in Uttarakhand). He has dedicated his entire life’s work to AIM for Seva! He loves the children and he supports them as his own kids and the kids in turn adore and respect him tremendously.

His warmth and caring is infectious and after meeting him I felt so confident that AIM for Seva is in such great hands!”

‘Gau’s’ that! Dairy milk from the heartland

Located on the banks of Chozha Choodamani, a tributary of the Cauvery, is Manjakkudi, a small hamlet in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvarur district.

The Swami Dayananda Educational Trust (SDET), an implementation partner of AIM for Seva has embarked on an integrated community development initiative in this village since 2003. As part of societal transformation, one focus area has been the running of a unique dairy farm that supports sustainable farming.

The Swami Dayananda Goshala was set up in 2012. At the time of inception, the goshala housed 30 cows. Seven years down the line, this figure has almost quadrupled to 104 cows.  The project has provided the villagers a sustainable means of livelihood. The Trust has employed nine farmhands from in and around Manjakkudi to supervise and maintain the goshala 24*7.

We are happy to share that a simple dairy farm project has resulted in community participation across levels.

All the 104 cows are fed with high quality fodder. The primary feed is natural grass which is supplemented by healthy cattle feed that comprises sesame oil cake, wheat/rice husks, maize oil cake, molasses, and combo feed.

In addition, the Swami Dayananda Educational Trust has also appointed a veterinary doctor to oversee the health and well being of the animals round the clock. The Joint director, Animal Husbandry, Tiruvarur district, visits our Goshala thrice a month and gives us valuable suggestions regarding their maintenance.

And as the cow is venerated in our tradition, we have ensured that these animals are fed and looked after well at all times. Our cow-sheds are well ventilated and we follow the best hygienic practices and eco-friendly principles when it comes to day to day running of the goshala.

We prevent the older cows from entering the slaughter houses by buying them and housing and tending to them with love and care in our goshala.

Such efforts have borne fruits. As the fodder given by us is of superior quality, these local / domestic / home breed cows produce thicker milk which is of high quality. A daily yield of 85 litres of organic milk is sold to state-owned milk cooperatives in the region.

On a lighter note, our goshala imbibes the pluralistic Indian tradition – all under one small thatched roof! We have indigenous cows from the four corners of the country. There are local breeds from Haryana,Tharparkars from the deserts of Rajasthan, Gir from Rajkot and Amreli districts of Gujarat, Red Sindhi and Sahiwal from Punjab, the Punganur variety from Andhra Pradesh and Umblacherry from Tamil Nadu.