By Rekha Murali
Ammucare Charitable Trust has volunteers across the globe carrying out selfless service activities of various types to reach out to as many people as possible. Through each seva, volunteers have wonderful, transforming experiences. Two such experiences are given below.
Blanket distribution in Chennai
You are expressing your highest. Let that highest be compassion, selflessness, sharing and caring. Let those be your highest expressions on earth so that you have no regrets.” –Mohanji
These words by Mohanji are very precious as this is what I truly experienced as a volunteer of Ammucare. I have tried to put into words the actual incident which taught me so much.
With the onset of winter in early November, Ammucare India decided on a ‘blanket drive’ campaign to distribute blankets to the homeless. I dismissed the idea immediately in my mind, as I lived in Chennai: a place where it is hot, hotter and hottest! I spoke with my friend Kishore too and we decided that we would focus on annadhan (food seva) and not on distribution of blankets. While in a conversation with Soma Seal (President of Ammucare, India) for some other matter, I casually mentioned this to her and said that it was not feasible for the Chennai team to participate in this blanket distribution. She too agreed and asked us to continue with our other seva! I could not have been more wrong and so far from the truth of our Master’s plan!
During the first week of December, with gusto, Kishore, Murali (my husband) and I planned to execute our monthly annadhan. One pleasant and windy Sunday morning, we set off for our food seva for the homeless. We came across a group of nomadic people who had pitched a tent in an open area. They eagerly accepted the food served and in their strange dialect communicated to us that they wanted blankets for their entire group as it was very cold! Coincidentally, it was a cold, windy day and Chennai recorded the lowest temperature for the year 2018! Our hearts melted in spite of the cold weather outside and we decided immediately to procure some blankets.
This is how our blanket drive seva started. Promptly, we began making enquiries to procure cotton blankets which people could use throughout the year and not just for the few days in December. This had to be done immediately as it was the need of the hour! During the week, Kishore and I went around to different shops to buy blankets at a reasonable cost. Finally Kishore zoomed in on one shop and we were able to purchase 25 good quality blankets! Feeling very happy, we decided to distribute them the next day itself to complete the seva. The urgency was because this was the first time that the temperatures had dipped a little and people required them now!
Late in the evening, three of us (Kishore, Sreenivas and I) set out to distribute the blankets. We drove around for two hours and managed to distribute only 7-8 blankets! Some people even refused to accept the blankets. We also carefully looked for people who had no belongings including old women and men sleeping on the streets. As we did not make much progress, it was decided that I would distribute the remaining blankets during the week as the other two volunteers were travelling.
Contemplating on the turn of events, I realised there was a message and a huge learning through this seva activity. One thing I understood was to be completely devoid of doership and operate with detachment and compassion. The entire seva was ordained through the divine command of our Guru and Master Mohanji! I was however curious about the outcome of this whole exercise. In the meantime, during my Kriya practice, I saw a beautiful, green, single mountain peak and guessed that it was Thiruvannamalai (Arunachala). I understood that it was a call to visit this holy place soon!
During the third week, Murali and I drove around every alternate night in search of homeless people. Once we went around the entire length and breadth of Chennai and managed to find only one man who was settling into sleep in front of a shop with a towel and a water bottle. During this week again, we were able to distribute only five blankets.
I was not perturbed and felt that our destination was Arunachala! This was when the call of the Arunachala Mountain came true. During the last weekend of December 2018, Murali and I set out to the temple town of Thiruvannamalai. After a parikrama of the holy mountain (girivalam), we went around the town distributing the blankets late in the night. It was extremely cold and there were lots of sadhus sleeping on the platforms along the parikrama path. Initially, we could spot only a few without blankets but later on late at night, we located many more sadhus sleeping bare on the platform with just their dhoti as a cover. The sadhus graciously accepted our offer of blankets and blessed us. As we ventured further, we saw a few people covered head to toe in blue plastic sheets and in deep sleep. I was not aware of who these people were but I just covered them with a new blanket and moved from one person to another. My eyes filled with tears as I experienced non-doership and the person receiving it was also unaware! What we plan and what is executed are two different things! Thus the 10 days of activity ended as a blissful and heart-warming seva in Arunachala, the Kailash of the South!
The next day, while returning home, I did identify a couple of sadhus sitting on the pavement with the new blankets. One sadhu with matted hair had the blanket next to him and was noting down something in a diary. On the way, we stopped to give some fruits and biscuits to an old woman. Suddenly, out of the blue, she asked for a blanket. As I did not have a new one, I gave her the one I had for my personal use. It was such a beautiful and blissful experience that my heart overflowed with gratitude for having been able to complete this seva with Mohanji’s guidance. Thus ended the blanket saga!
This entire seva was an eye-opener and helped me understand the true meaning of giving back to the earth! Sitting in my comfort zone, I did not realise the actual need of the people on the streets. During the course of the seva, there were talks about giving only to people who ‘deserved.’ The question that came up in my mind immediately was: who are we to judge? Our duty is to give and those who need it will automatically receive. This was probably the reason why we were guided to the right people at the right time! It removed the remnants of doership completely and my heart was filled with only unconditional love.
Seva is an inner call with immense benefits to the volunteer. These were the few key points which each of us can contemplate on:
- Selflessness – Through this entire act, Mohanji showed me how the hand that gives and the hand that receives is the only connection. Doership falls away and the true joy of giving can be experienced.
- Promptness – Any seva has to be done immediately and effectively. Although we scouted around the same day for reasonably priced blankets, we could not give them to the people who asked for them as they left town the next morning. However, the seva was completed in a short time and delivered to people who were meant to receive them.
- Conviction – This was clearly brought out through my inner vision of the mountain and the annadhan experience changed my thought process within seconds, giving me that conviction that the blanket drive was a necessity at this point in time.
- Compassion – When the heart is open, compassion finds a place in it. All of us as volunteers are compassionate and that is what makes us swing into action immediately when required.
- Awareness – With unconditional love as the driving force, the entire seva was carried out with awareness and commitment.
- Gratitude – The gratitude that I felt at the culmination of the activity can only be experienced. This was a wonderful opportunity for self- growth and learning.
- Healing – It was a process of self-healing as with giving unconditionally, we shed a lot of our baggage and are on the path of spiritual progress
Needless to say, in all of the above, Mohanji’s loving hand gently steered us in the right direction, pointing us correctly to the people who were meant to benefit from this blanket drive. Not only that, Murali and I were blessed to visit a beautiful Vittal temple through Mohanji’s grace. It was an overwhelming and blissful experience where I felt one with the divine. This is how Mohanji showered His blessings on us.
Thank you Mohanji for the wonderful platform that you provide for these acts of giving!
Another Ammucare volunteer, Savitri also shared her experience of Blanket distribution at Shirdi.
Blankets for the special needs orphan children in Shirdi:
9th of November is celebrated as Ammucare day in India and as ACT day in other parts of the world. Ammucare volunteers across India were doing selfless activities according to the needs and capabilities in their areas.
For this special event, Savitri and her husband Jayasurya planned to distribute blankets at an orphanage of special needs children in Shirdi. When they went to procure suitable blankets, they realised that the cost was way beyond the budget! Immediately, Savitri prayed to Mohanji to help them and without any delay, Mohanji’s grace worked as a miracle! The shopkeeper gave them a discount of 50%! He reduced another 20% from the final bill, saying that it was his contribution towards the seva! The ultimate cost of the required number of blankets came well within the budget.
After procuring the blankets, Savitri, Jayasurya and their daughter (a young Ammucare volunteer) reached Shirdi a couple of days before the 9th. Selfless service with unconditional love is one of the main pillars of the Datta Tradition and the grace of Shirdi Sai Baba is always seen for people involved in any seva activity. It was evident this time too.
When Savitri and Jayasurya entered the Samadhi temple, they met Sulakhe Maharaj (the head priest of the temple). Upon their introduction as Mohanji’s devotees, Sulakhe Maharaj immediately gave Savitri a coconut and a flower. He also gave her a shawl and a flower and asked her to give them to Mohanji whenever she meets Him. Savitri felt Sai Baba’s blessings upon receiving these gifts for Mohanji and herself.
Coming out of the temple, she immediately noticed on the TV that Sulakhe Maharaj was not sitting at the Samadhi anymore. It was as if he had suddenly appeared to give this special gift to Mohanji on the auspicious day of Lakshmi puja. Savitri realised that this was a special blessing from Sai Baba!
On the following day, as planned, Savitri and her family along with other Ammucare volunteers distributed blankets to the boys at the orphanage. Not only did Savitri feel immense satisfaction for having met the needs of these underprivileged children, she also felt immense gratitude towards Mohanji and Sai Baba, and for the grace of the Guru Mandala!
Mohanji cleared the hurdle of high expenditure, enabling them to purchase the correct number of blankets at a reasonable price and facilitated smooth execution. In addition, Sai Baba’s blessings came through Sulakhe Maharaj, who gave them the gift of a coconut, which is now a rare prasad inside the temple.
The message is clear. Mohanji and Sai Baba have shown us how much they love people who do selfless service. Mohanji carries out every selfless ACT with compassion through devotees like Savitri.
Mohanji’s New Year message (2019) sums up the entire act of seva.
‘If we ADD VALUE to the society, we have value in this life. In this whole life, it’s all about how much we can give; it’s not how much we can take.” – Mohanji
||JAI BRAHMARISHI MOHANJI||
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