Seva With A Smile…

…was the motto of all the volunteers who contributed to the success of the Saraswat Shivir ( November7-10) and the Samvit Sammelanam ( November 17-22) in Shirali, in the Divine Presence of H.H. Samvit Narayan Giri Swamiji and our Beloved Mathadhipati- H.H. Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji, reports sanchalika ARCHANA KUMTA                  (February 2023)                                  

Shri Krishnanand Heblekar (Kutty mam), Dharmapracharaka Dr. Chaitanya Gulvady and Commodore Chaitanya Shiroor coordinated with the main volunteers of two events in November: the first, for the Northern Saraswats, who wanted to visit and know more about our Math, and the second, for the Samvit sadhaka-s. But all of them were drawn to Shirali by one spiritual ‘magnet’- our beloved Gurumauli – H.H. Shrimat Sadyojat Shankrashram Swamiji. Teams were formed to deal with accommodation, logistics, kitchen, housekeeping, guiding and registration for both, the Saraswat Shivir and the Samvit Sammelan, over three weeks. Outstation sanchalaka-s reached Shirali a couple of days in advance, while Shirali volunteers headed by Shri Sateesh Koppikar helped with all the local arrangements. Volunteer groups met to iron out all the details so that all our guests would feel “at home”.   

Train delays, drastic weather changes and more than 36 hours of travel did not dampen the spirits of the 89 Saraswat-s from Rajasthan and UP and 102 Samvit sadhaka-s from Jodhpur. Badges, along with blue and white sashes (specially made by Samvit Sudha) helped to identify the shivirarthi-s anytime, anywhere...

A colourful pandal was erected at Panchavati, where the two groups gathered for  swadhyaya-s, paramarsha-s, meditation and interactions with Pujya Swamiji and His mesmeric Ashirvachana-s in Hindi.  During the inaugural Ashirvachana at the Saraswat Shivir, H.H. Swamiji expressed that despite our cultural and regional differences, all Saraswats come from the same source. This, instantly, set the tone and pre-empted the possibility of ‘differences’ cropping up amongst the shivirarthi-s. The crux of Pujya Swamiji’s maiden Ashirvachana for the Samvit sadhaka-s was that the sammelanam had been organized to help to connect with the Guru –tattva and about how meeting all of them kindled memories of Sant Sarovar. 




Every day at 12 noon, everyone would eagerly assemble in the Math to await the Maha-arati when the rays of the sun are focused through a mirror into the garbhagudi!  An industrial roti -maker helped to dish out hot phulka-s and the shivirarthi-s greatly enjoyed some of our traditional, lip-smacking Amchi cuisine. The bhojanashala became centre-stage for many indoor sessions when it changed roles from being a dining hall to becoming an impromptu auditorium.  The outbound visits and indoor sessions gave participants a glimpse of the varied socio-economic uplift activities – from teaching spoken Sanskrit, to empowerment of rural women.  The lush green fields, coconut and areca nut palms at Kembre and the seaside became natural locations for photoshoots!   The shivirarthi-s were wonderstruck seeing the well-preserved and beautifully displayed artefacts and the magnificent Ratha at Shrimat Parijnanashram Vastu Sangrahalaya .  Pujya Swamiji offered arghya to the setting sun at Alvekodi after which everyone assembled at a clearing in the coconut grove for the much-awaited interaction.  The Saraswats came armed with a dholak and harmonium and filled the Alvekodi air with melodious bhajana-s and soul-stirring folk songs of Rajasthan.  After a little coaxing, the women too sang a bhajana in the presence of H.H. Swamiji.  
On Kartika Purnima - November 8, 2022, the Saraswats witnessed the unique celebration of Deva-Dipawali at Shri Chitrapur Math! They enthusiastically participated in the pujana  conducted by Swamiji at Dhatri Katto and sang bhajana-s in the Rajangana. In the evening, the yuva-s and the locals from Shirali decorated the Rajangana and Shivaganga Sarovar with colourful rangoli and oil lamps. Seven pm saw every shivirarthi video- calling the family back home!  Upon its return, the palakhi took several parikrama-s around the sarovara in Pujya Swamiji’s Presence with Lord Ganesha seated in a decorated boat and trying to keep pace with the palakhi (nauka -vihara).An amazing sight, indeed!  

Pujya Swamiji performed Shri Devi Pujana at both events.  Many women from Rajasthan performed the auspicious Shri Paduka Pujana for the first time and were totally overwhelmed.  Almost all of them had brought a shawl for their “Guruji” which they lovingly offered during the Phalasamarpana.  

H.H. Shrimat Narayan Giri Swamiji was welcomed with the traditional Purnakumbha swagata at Shri Chitrapur Math on the afternoon of November 16 by Narayan Mallapur mam. H.H. Swamiji welcomed Pujya Narayan Giri Swamiji with a garland.  The interaction, love, mutual respect and bonding of the two Swamijis greatly enhanced the ambience  of the  Samvit Sammelanam.

The Samvit sadhaka-s spent six days in the Divine Sannidhya of both the Swamijis. Pujya Narayan Giri Swamiji honoured Pujya Swamiji with Malyarpan and a shawl, expressed gratitude for His Udaarata, His Karuna and the wonderful arrangements made for all the Samvit sadhaka-s.  Pujya Swamiji conducted a swadhyaya on ‘Shri Guru Bhajana Stotram’ demystifying the 12 kala-s of the Guru.

An important event at the Sammelanam was the befitting name – Shrimat Pandurangashram Swami Marg -given to the road from the Mahadwar to the Math. This naamakaran was done by Pujya Narayan Giri ji Swami and our Beloved Mathadhipati.    

The concluding session of the Saraswat Shivir was on November 10 and of the Samvit Sammelanam on November 22, 2022 when Kutty mam gave a brief report and Dharmapracharaka Dr. Chaitanya Gulvady offered the kshamayachana.  Dr. Ram Saraswat and Shri Girish Saraswat spoke on behalf of their respective groups expressing their solidarity and oneness with the Chitrapur Math. Gunjan Purohit, a taru, led the bhajana ‘Ananda Loke’.  During Abhivyakti, she expressed her admiration for the women working at HMPP, Kembre and on behalf of all the shivirarthi-s she attested that they are now katibaddha to Pujya Swamiji to be in seva. Yuva Pavan Kapnadak expressed that learning from each other was what the sammelana was all about!  The Samvit sadhaka-s soaked up all the experiences and kept saying that the love and the “apnāpan” that they felt at Shri Chitrapur Math was like they were in their “naunihāl” (mother’s house)!  The taru-s performed their duties as upasanchalaka-s diligently.  Together, the taru-s and yuva-s put up a short skit based on the learnings from Pujya Swamiji’s Ashirvachana!  “Bahut Achche Dost” - a medley of old and new Hindi film songs set the tempo for the skit which depicted how backbiting affects our sadhana.Both groups bid a teary farewell, exchanging Whatsapp numbers with a promise to meet again soon.  They were all eager to plan Pujya Swamiji’s visit to the North in February 2023!  Such shivir-s and sammelanam-s help to melt differences and strengthen the growing bond that is turning Saraswats from various States into one big family devoted to Shri Chitrapur Math and its glorious Guruparampara !