NRI Yuva SHASHANK UDYAWER expresses his love and gratitude towards Parama Pujya Swamiji and our revered Shri Chitrapur Math ( March 2018 )
Born in an aamchi family and more so in Talmakiwadi, I was fortunate to have an early introduction to the Chitrapur Saraswat tradition and culture and more importantly, to the Math and our Beloved Parama Guru Parijnanashram Swamiji III. I have some prized memories of seeing Parijnanashram Swamiji when I was a little boy. Those moments are etched in my mind like videographic images.
In 1997, after Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji became our Mathadhipati, I went to Shirali with my parents. When we reached Shirali, I ran straight inside the Math and stood right in the centre of the pathway from where I could see this tall, awe- inspiring figure walking towards me. For the first time in my life, I experienced complete stillness all around. All I could hear was the sound of Swamiji’s paduka-s. The air was filled with a blissful aroma. Everything else ceased to exist at that moment. I was completely mesmerized. That was my first glimpse of our Beloved Guru Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji. Suddenly, I felt a heavy jerk on my arm, I looked to my left, and an annoyed Mam was frowning, telling me to move aside. At that moment it dawned on me that while everyone else had made way for H.H Swamiji to walk down the aisle, I was standing right in the middle. But, to tell you the truth instead of feeling embarrassed or guilty, I only remember feeling blissful about that Divine darshan!
Om Shri Gurubhyo Namaha !
My moonji was done in 1999. Then, in 2004, I was blessed with Mantra Diksha by Pujya Swamiji. In 2008, during the Tercentenary Celebrations of our Math, we received formal training on how to do pujan. I got to participate in the Guru Jyoti Padayatra. After the culmination of the Padayatra on February 15, 2008, Parama Pujya Swamiji invited all the
Yuva-s for a brief discussion and we could see how moved He was by the momentous experience of the Padayatra. He kept reiterating that Parama Pujya Parijnanshram Swamiji III had said He would forever be present to bless devotees and that all the progress achieved by our Math has only been possible because of the Grace and Blessings of Guru Swami. At that moment something shifted in me. It suddenly dawned on me that the core essence of the Guru is an awesome Shakti. The Guru is all- pervasive and is always there for us. That moment answered so many questions in my mind. Suddenly, all distinctions between Parijnanashram Swamiji and Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji vanished! Since that special moment, Pujya Swamiji’s teachings make even more sense to me. I am also beginning to understand that other than spiritual benefits, regular japa-sadhana helps increase attention span. Doing seva helps to tame the ego. Breathing and physical exercises help in handling stress better. Thus, I am able to function better in the everyday world while moving ahead on my spiritual journey.
Our International 'bank' of joyful Yuvas
I have been participating in seva at every given opportunity and always look forward to offering more. While involved in seva alongside other people, innumerable differences arise. It is a challenge to handle those differences by keeping one’s ego aside and trying to do one’s best.This is possible only ifseva is done keeping the Guru in mind, is what I am realizing slowly. I think this process is known as Anusmaran. Time and again I recollect the message of Pujya Swamiji that having the Guru’s Blessings in its true sense means- trying to see the world just as the Guru views it. All activities in life turn out to be incredibly blissful by doing Anusmaran. In any conflicting situation, in my personal or professional life, I pray to Him for Guidance. I contemplate on how my beloved Guru would handle a given situation and seek His Blessings before I proceed in dealing with the problem on hand. This helps me stay calm and tackle it with a much better approach.Doing Anusmaran helps me remain on the right path without getting rattled by any external forces. I pray to be able to immerse myself in constant Anusmaran of my beloved Guru.
We have regular Satsang-s, Prarthana Varg and cultural programs in New Jersey, USA. We do pujan along with recitation of Deepanamaskar and other Math prayers during Satsang-s. We teach children Math prayers and share information about our Math and Guru Parampara during Prarthana Varg, Yugadi and other festive occasions. Cultural programs are also organized here regularly..
In December 2016, I attended theSamskriti Prachaar Shibir held at Shirali Math in the holy Presence of Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji. It was very well organized specially for the NRIs. We got introduced to all different aspects of the Math, its projects, and many other activities. The volunteers who organized the Shibir worked really hard under Pujya Swamiji’s guidance. It was an eye opener for all of us who attended the Shibir for it showed us how to do seva in an unassuming manner.
After returning to USA post-Shibir, an online Sanskrit class for NRIs was initiated under the Guidance of Pujya Swamiji. We are learning ‘Beginners Level Conversational Sanskrit’. The course material and techniques used make it fun and easy to learn. I had never imagined I would be learning Sanskrit as it seemed very difficult, but this online class, held once a week, has helped me develop keen interest in learning more about ou r Deva-bhasha.
Gathering Food for thought!
I also attended the NRI Shibir in August 2017 at Karla. Going to Karla Math in itself is an amazing experience. It was a double-bonus for us as our beloved Pujya Shri Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji was observing Chaturmaas in Karla. This Shibir was planned around the Chaturmas commemoration. Although it was based on a similar theme (Samskriti Prachaar) like the one held at Shirali in December 2016, we got to learn a lot more about our Math and spirituality. We also got to meet some new NRIs from UK and Australia. Although it was a busy time for Pujya Swamiji due to Chaturmas, He still made sure all the NRIs had a comfortable stay and experienced another great Shibir with the help of committed Sanchalak-s.The highlights were – a guided meditation session and group interaction sessions with Pujya Swamiji and the experience of watching Pujya Swamiji perform poojan after Deepanamaskar every evening.
Pujya Swamiji explained that having attended Shibir-s, we become ambassadors of the Math. Thus we need to be very particular about firstly, understanding the working principles of the Math and then, about how we can spread the message of love to others who could not attend the Shibir. Pujya Swamiji also stressed on the fact that we need to build physical and mental fitness in order to achieve spiritual progress.These Shibir-s are great knowledge- sharing sessions. After attending these Shibir-s I have learnt a lot and at the same time realized that there is so much more to learn. They instill the seed of knowledge which can only be nurtured with regular sadhana and thus realizing the everlasting love of our Beloved Guru.
All this has helped me build a strong connection with our Math and beloved Swamiji. I love my Guru dearly and I will be forever grateful for the Love and Grace He showers on us. Jai Gurudev!