2013 to 2014
In this Part 3 I proceed to recount significant programs in the years 2013 to 2014 without downplaying the significance and importance of the regular classes in the ashram. For the secret of spiritual progress is determined by one’s daily routine. So in her ongoing classes on Bhagavad Gītā for adults and children the message that Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati instills is the importance of practicing Pañca Maha Yajña in the daily lives of every student and which must be done with the right attitude. The attitude converts all actions into a prayer and produces clarity in the mind which in turn makes the us more receptive to receive knowledge. The knowledge once internalized makes us more of a contributor to the life given to us. We treat life as a gift and are joyous in our interactions.
- On the 30th of March 2013 the children and adult students at the ashram put up a drama based on stories taken from the Naalvar Thuthi, Mahabharata and stories about moral values. The drama was created by Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati and with the assistance of Bhaskara Chaitanya and her students. The costumes, props and sound system for the event was provided by Mr Iruthiyam Sabastiar of the Sebastiar School of Arts. The children showcased their talents whilst donning the wonderful costumes provided. Members of the public were invited to attend and a wonderful lunch was served to all.
- On the 16th of May 2013 the society welcomed Swamini Brahmaprakasananda Saraswati to the ashram. The students had the distinct privilege to listen to her discourses from the 17th of May to the 22nd of May 2013.
- On the 29th of May 2013 the society was doubly privileged for in the same month we welcomed another distinguished personage. Our distinguished guest was Swami Brahmavidyananda Saraswati. His visit was particularly significant as he is the revered Acarya of Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati. Swami Brahmavidyananda Saraswati held camps for both adults and children during his visit from the 29th May 2013 to the 5th of June 2013. The children were much taken by Swami Brahmavidyananda who established an unforgettable rapport and bond with them. The adults too greatly benefited from his measured talks and his satsangs in the evenings provided an important occasion for students to ask him questions which he answered with patience and wisdom.
- Swami Brahmavidyananda blessed us again that year when he visited the ashram for a second time that same year. His second visit took place from the 25th November 2013 to the 29th November 2013. On this visit he held a discourse on the text called Pañcadaśi. The children also benefited from his wonder stories and lessons which taught moral values. He also left them with a treasure trove of beautiful bhajans to sing and dedicate to the lord during prayer.
The classes run in 2013 were Bhagavad Gītā classes every Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Sanskṛt classes every Wednesday and Thursday evenings. There was a children and Yoga class every Sunday morning and a Vivekacūdāmani class on Sunday evenings.
The monthly activities at the ashram were Pradosham, which is held bi monthly, Dakṣiṇāmūrti pūjā on the 16th of every month in conjunction with the Ashram opening on the 16th of March 2010. Since that day the ashram has been performing Dakṣiṇāmūrti prayers in remembrance of that occasion every month.
Our Annual programs are celebratory prayers on Śaṅkara Jayanti, Guru Pūrṇima Day, Viṣṇu Sahasranāma on the Saturdays of the month of Puratasi, Saraswati Pūjā during the celebration of Navarātrī and the year closes with the Gītā Jayanti Pūjā with recitation of the chapters of the Bhagavad Gītā.
These classes also run on the commitment of many students and their teachers. Our sincere appreciation to all the teachers for their valuable time and willingness to pass on their knowledge to others.
It would remiss not to mention the contributions of various members of the society.
The running of the ashram also depends on the efficiency of the office bearers. Since its inception, the ashram is fortunate to have had two very industrious treasurers Mrs Mangala Devi Eliyathamby and Mrs Yogeswary Mutiah who have diligently maintained the ashram’s financial records in good order.
Also to be lauded are the members who have provided delicious home cooked meals to Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati as bhikṣa through the years. They have also full heartedly provided food for all attendees at many functions organized at the ashram. We thank the Annapooranis Mrs. Mangala Devi Elliyathamby, Mrs.Parameswari Arunasalam, Mrs Vijaya Varun, Mrs Yoges Mutiah, Mrs Rama Prasad, Mrs Eswari Subramaniam, Mrs Sheila Chowgule, Mrs Kanmani, Mrs Theivanai Das, Mrs Subathra Raman, Mrs Maniam, Mrs Sarala Devi, Mrs Suppulaksmi and numerous others for their generosity.
As we gather spiritual knowledge it is important also to practice the tenets of Sanātana Dharma. One of the primary tenets of Sanātana Dharma is that all dharmis should practice the all important Pañca Mahā Yajña. With this in mind the society has sought to put this into practice in various ways.
- On the 23rd of February 2014 the students from Arsha Vidya Sthalam,Taiping organized a program at a children and old folks home in Taiping. The students from the Ipoh ashram joined their guru bhais in this Seva endeavour. At the Taiping Children’s Home (Rumah Kebajikan Kanak Kanak Taiping) a motivational talk “Aim and Achievement” was given by Mr Chandra Mohan. The talk included a series of workshops for the children too. The Shri Dayanandaa Society donated RM 500 to the children’s home. This project was our humble effort to practice Manuṣya Yajña, one of the 5 pillars of Sanātana Dharma’s Pañca Mahā Yajña.
In the second half of the day the members of the society spent time at the Old Folks Home (Rumah Seri Kenangan Taiping). The home has 100 residents. The society provided the residents with a variety of food and drinks. It was an opportunity for the members of the society to spend time with people in their golden years who look forward to conversation and interaction. It was an awareness program for the members of the society to appreciate the elderly and the importance of showing them love and care always. It is the 5th important pillar in Sanātana Dharma’s Pañca Mahā Yajña – Pitṛ Yajña. Pitṛ Yajña is not only śraddha prayers for the deceased but importantly covers the care of the elderly in their lifetimes.
- In conjunction with the 4th Anniversary of the ashram on the 16th March 2014, the children under the instruction of Swamini Vinayananda presented a performance at the Thandayuthabany Temple in Ipoh dressed in glorious costumes of various deities. The performance was followed by a carnatic song recital by Mr Jayabalan and his group.
- On the 4th of August 2014, the Ashram welcomed Swami Sri Tatpurushanathan who gave us a talk on “Arivin Maanbu” for the adults. On the 5th August a children’s program was conducted by Swami Sri Tatpurushanathan. Needless to say the program benefited all attendees.
- The society also lent a hand to another organization which had organized a food fair on the 24th of August 2014 to raise funds. The Society set up a stall serving tomato rice and kurma gravy. All proceeds raised were given to Mr.Rajasegaran of The Shri Matam for whose benefit the food fair was organized.
- In line with the importance of Pañca Mahā Yajña, an expert in gardening, Mr.Lee was invited to give a talk to both children and adults on the importance of plant life. Mr Lee showed the adults how to successfully grow plants from seedlings and cuttings. The children and adults then had a hands on opportunity to dig and to plant a special variety of banana plant in the ashram’s garden. Mr Lee also brought sufficient plants and cuttings for the adults and children to try to cultivate and plant the same in their home gardens. The children had great fun learning this skill from the engaging expert. From this activity we hoped to instill the importance and a value of yet another important tenet of Pañca Mahā Yajña – Bhūta Yajña.
- The ashram also arranged for a well known art teacher in Ipoh Mrs Dolly Boey to teach the children some art and craft. The session was enjoyable and the children took back not only new emerging skills but also their creations to show their proud parents. Art not only allows us to be creative but the beauty in art creates a space and time for us to be with ourselves and in so doing being in harmony with the world and ourselves.
- The Sekolah Menengah Sri Ipoh has some children who have fallen into the cracks of the education system and were severely behind in their educational progress, lacking basic skills in reading and writing, even though they were already in secondary school. A project initiated by Ms.Grace,a dedicated and compassionate teacher, was greatly helping to improve the status of these children. She started a program on her own initiative,every morning before the regular school began, she privately taught these children on a one to one basis, basic reading and writing. The program was successful and soon the children were able to read out passages at the school assembly. It was a milestone step for them. Those who were now able to read, in turn started teaching other disadvantaged students to read. To support her noble endeavour the ashram contributed RM 700 worth of books to the school for this worthwhile program. The books were presented to the headmaster and Ms Grace by Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati. The headmaster and the teachers at SM Sri Ipoh were grateful for the society’s contribution. This is another pillar of Sanātana Dharma’s Pañca Mahā Yajña – Manuṣya Yajña, reaching out to others who are in need of assistance to progress.
- To reach out to the disadvantaged in our community the ashram has from the month of December 2014 started providing much needed provisions to needy families. Provisions like rice, sugar, milk, noodles, margarine and flour are being supplied to 5 families every month. Another program initiated in service of Manuṣya.
In the year 2014 Bhagavad Gītā classes were run by Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati every Monday and Tuesday evenings. Wednesday was Caitanya Bhaskara’s Sanskṛt class in the evenings. On Friday Swamini Vinanyanda held her class at her Taiping Arsha Vidya Sthalam for students there. On Sunday mornings the children’s class was held. In the evenings Swamini Vinayananda Saraswati continued her Vivekacūdāmani classes which had commenced the previous year.
As always we record our thanks to the Ācāryas and teachers who dedicated their time and efforts to share their knowledge. As in the previous years credit is extended to the office bearers and students for the contributions made to the smooth running of the ashram.