“KOTI KOTI SHATA PRANAAMA TUMKO!”
In this soulfully expressed piece reflecting immense gratitude and devotion ADITYA CHANDAVARKAR, Chief Co-ordinator of Yuvadhara describes his own journey as a sadhaka and why our Yuva-s love their Friend, Guide, Counsellor and Mathadhipati- Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shankarasram Swamiji ( April 2021 )
My journey as a sadhaka began, almost without my knowledge, in December 1998, when Parama Pujya Swamiji first visited Matunga. As a volunteer, I was part of the group that was given the responsibility of holding the danda-chamar during Swamiji’s arrival and whenever He would come for a program to the venue. There was this sense of awe when we first saw Swamiji - fit, young Guru with an aura of divinity around Him. It was a sense of pride and excitement for all of us, to know that we would be accompanying Swamiji wherever He went during the course of the camp. There was always the added thrill of receiving a smile or nod of acknowledgement from Pujya Swamiji. Subconsciously, the seva-bhav was being cultivated and the connection taking root.
In the next few years holding the danda-chamar, participating in other volunteering activities during Swamiji’s visit in Mumbai was a must. A fond memory I have, is of Swamiji Blessing me on my birthday which falls in December, during Swamiji’s annual visit to Mumbai for Dattajayanti celebrations.
A specific incident which strengthened my bond and the connection happened during the Shirali Chaturmas in August 2003. It was during a week in which very few sadhaka -s were visiting Shirali and a few Yuva-s including me who were present at that moment were called for an interaction with Swamiji. We got an amazing opportunity to try our hands at archery with Swamiji teaching us Himself. It was an experience of a lifetime, which I will cherish forever. I was completely in awe of how Swamiji interacted with us as a friend and guide while actually being the Mathadhipati. A couple of years later in 2005, I took my mantra-deeksha in Hubli, just before setting out for higher studies to the UK. This mantra-japa became my constant connection with the Guru in that foreign land and this helped me sail smoothly through all the ups and downs I faced there.
Participating in the Guru Jyoti Pada Yatra in the year 2008 was a surreal experience which also marked the beginning of the tercentenary celebrations. This year was also special for me as it was my first experience as a shibhirarthi at the Kar Seva Shivir in Shirali. The activities in the fields of Shirali, the valuable Interactions with Swamiji, visits to Panchavati, bonding with fellow Yuva-s and experiencing the fun in seva have all contributed in moulding me into the person I am today. For me, it was a year of re-connection as I had just returned from UK. One realises the real importance of something only when one is deprived of it. For my spiritiually deprived mind, body and soul this shivir was like a feast !
In the following years, new responsilbilities came my way – both on the professional and personal fronts. However, with Swamiji’s Blessings, I was always able to make time for Yuvadhara activities and offer seva whenever opportunities presented themselves. With Ankita also equally devoted to the Math, it was an even greater pleasure to offer seva together.
I was privileged to be a part of the Vantiga Collection and Monitoring (VCM) Cell project, which was initiated in 2014 with the Blessings of Parama Pujya Swamiji with the objective of spreading the importance of Vantiga via presentations to all the sabhas. It was a great opportunity for us Yuva-s (Maithili Padukone, Kartik Kadle, Navin Bijur, Vaidehi Savnal, Ankita Chandavarkar and myself) to understand more about our Math and also connect with the laity across sabhas. With Swamiji’s Blessings we were able to do more than 40 presentations across various sabhas effortlessly even as we honoured our other commitments.
I was also fortunate to be a part of a memorable experience along with 14 other Yuva-s in offering a Musical Tribute video at the Lotus Feet of Parama Pujya Swamiji during the Kanakanjali Utsav. This tribute was spontaneously initiated by Maithili Padukone and Nishad Mishra. Reminiscing the memories of Swamiji’s great delight, gives me goosebumps.
We were on a hoilday in June 2016, when I got a call from a sadhaka in Swamiji’s core team asking me if I would like to take up the responsibility of becoming the Chief Coordinator for Chitrapur Yuvadhara. It was a moment of exhilaration and nervousness for me. I accepted the opportunity without blinking an eyelid. When the Guru assigns you a duty or a responsibility, He knows that you have the capability to fulfill it. It was a great opportunity for me to continue the great work done by Sharayu Haldipurpachi and Gautam Padukone mam in nurturing the future of the Chitrapur Saraswat samaja.
Working as part of the Chitrapur Yuvadhara office and interacting with Yuva-s, I have experienced, how Pujya Swamiji through Actions, Guidance, Instructions and Ashirvachan-s has groomed us Yuva-s to be better human beings and sadhaka-s. Over the years, there has been a change I have seen in myself and other Yuva-s. The list is endless of how Pujya Swamiji’s Sannidhya has impacted us positively. However, to enumerate a few –developing the mindset of doing seva with full responsibility and attention to detail, understanding quickly what the Guru expects of you or is asking you to do, humbly accepting your mistakes, making a course correction to ensure the same mistake is not repeated and whenever you offer seva or, for that matter, any work, doing it with constant Anusmaran. Once the assigned work is done, offer it at the Lotus Feet of the Guruparampara. It is also amazing to see that Swamiji always makes time for us Yuva-s, listens intently when we tell Him about our problems, achievements, new ventures and our ideas. This bond with the Guru has been our personal support system.
This support system is what helped us tide over the pandemic with confidence and positivity. Yuva-s from across all sabhas participated in Anushthana-s, Manthan sessions where Yuvas shared their understanding of Swamiji’s Navaspandan videos, interacted digitally via Avakaash sessions and even offered an online bhajan seva for Navaratri. Samparka, for me and for the entire samaj came as a beacon in a turbulent ocean of the pandemic. With so much uncertainty around us with work, health and safety, the one thing constant for all of us was and is our connection with our Guru.
We are very fortunate to have a Guru and a Guruparampara, that is always there for us, whether we are facing a challenge, or celebrating our achievements. I feel so privileged when Swamiji mentions that He has seen us grow up into responsible adults, then parents and that He now feels like a grandparent to our child. There is no greater happiness than this for me !
This year marks the beginning of a very special year for the entire Chitrapur Saraswat Samaj , as it flags off the 25th year anniversary of Pujya Swamiji’s Pithaarohan and the 75th year of our Guru Swami –Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji’s Janma Divas. The unconditional Love, Blessings and Affection that have been and continue to be showered upon us by our Guru and Guruparampara are something very special which we must cherish. We as a samaj must give our total assurance and promise that we will always offer our seva to the Math, Guru and Guruparampara.
Swamiji, we are forever grateful to You and I place my Sashtang Pranam-s at Your Lotus Feet for Your constant Guidance and Support.
Koti Koti Shata Pranaama Tumko Guruvara Muda Mangal Data.