Prasannoऽstu Guruh Sadaa

Yuva Pavan Kapanadak’s moving account of the strength and inspiration he draws from his close association with the Math and H.H. Swamiji and his keen effort, at all times, to ensure        (April 2023)

Some of my earliest memories are those of Parama Pūjya Swāmījī and the Math… I must have been just over two years of age, but I vividly remember being hoisted by my Pappa onto his shoulders, to see Pūjya Swāmījī during the Pattābhisheka in 1997. I have been drawn to the Guru ever since. “Swāmī Dayyā Pāmpā’’ and pictures of our Gurus in the house shaped my formative years, and I grew around my Amma teaching me to chant the Bhagavat Gita and various shloka-s as a child, my Pappa teaching me to drape a veshti, and my Ajja diligently sitting with me through Sandhyavandanam sessions. As I look back upon those years, I cannot help but pause in awe, gratitude and vinamrata at the glory of that Guru-Shakti, which took ‘ownership’ of me early on and shaped me through the years. 

When I was four years old, our family was in Tiruvannamalai with Pujya Swamiji and Bade Swamiji, having got the rare opportunity to do the Girivallam (Pradakshina of the Arunachaleshwara Hill) in Their Presence. I remember being adamant about wanting to walk with Swamiji for the entire 14 kilometres. I walked a bit, but ended up completing part of the journey in Pappa’s arms, and by car to the next pitstop with Amma thereafter. When we walked up a section of the hill to where everyone had taken a break, I remember walking towards a low ledge, looking out at the vast expanse, when suddenly, I was swooped into the air and twirled around like an aeroplane. When my initial surprise and shock settled, as I was gently placed down, I heard the reassuring laugh of Parama Pujya Swamiji, for He was the one who had picked me off the ground! Through all these years, He has lifted me up at various levels, with that gentle smile always reassuring me that I belong… that I am held up by that very Guru Shakti… and that, even during times when I feel unsure of circumstances and myself, I am safe in His Hands.

Ever since I was a child, I have always wanted to do japa, after watching my parents doing it so diligently, every morning. Finally, when I turned seven, Pujya Swamiji blessed me with mantra deeksha. I have fond memories of that day in Bangalore, sitting with Swamiji, His very Presence invigorating beyond measure. Through all these years, regular japa has given me tremendous strength, and I have seen myself grow through every situation, with that constant guidance. During a busy day, a quick pause… a moment to observe the breath… and an assurance to witness the mantra- japa constantly reverberate… That is assurance enough of the constant Presence- that boundless love and grace of the Guru Shakti, ever present in a subtle, yet tangible form.

As a Chitrapur Saraswat Yuva, the opportunities to tangibly connect to the Math and Guru have been boundless too, with the activities of the Yuvadhara being very fundamental in this process. My first shivir was when the first Taru Sammelan was organised in Karla. Ever since then, sammelan-s, shivir-s, and Kara- seva have become a part of the year that I look forward to. I can never forget the experiences from my first Kara -seva in 2012- forming close bonds with Yuva-s from across the country, with whom we cleaned a pond, raked leaves in a forest, sat together for anushthan-s, and played wonderful games. Through all these interactions in the vatavarana, the sacred ambience of the Math, we get the full benefit of the kshetra, the Presence of the Guru, and a strengthening of our very being in ways that take time to comprehend fully. All these activities have also given insight into the vast amount of great work being done by the Math, through the Guru-Sankalpa, in so many fields- ranging from woman empowerment to education- which has instilled a sense of pride in the community and humility and awe in seeing the working of the Guru- Shakti in action.

Our Guru is Vatsalya-incarnate. Anyone who seeks is received, and we now have an extended Saraswat and Samvit family from across the country. I recently had the honour of donning the hat of a sanchalak in Shirali, for a shivir for Saraswats from the North, and a sammelan for Samvit sadhaka-s which was also graced by H.H. Narayan Giri Swamiji. From early morning sessions of stretches, pranayama and ninad, and Sanskrit sambhashan sessions, to interactions with Pujya Swamiji, and from tours of our Maths to witnessing the growth facilitated by our Math through the various projects in Srivalli, the sadhaka-s and shibirarthi-s who came, went back to their cities with their hearts full. As a sanchalak, being in the presence of so many experienced sanchalak-s who have put in years in seva, was an immense learning experience. It was awesome to see the ease with which an event of this scale is organised. Handling the logistics of receiving, and moving everyone to where they are needed on time, ensuring that everyone is well -fed, that maintenance and housekeeping is spot- on, that performance of seva-s and purchases in the Math happen with ease, and that every activity goes on well- every aspect handled to perfection. Every shibirarthi reciprocated with a lot of love as well, and it was beautiful to watch walls disintegrate and bonds deepen. When the Guru- Sankalpa exists, it is that very Shakti that courses through all and gets the work done. Such is the Grace of our Guru, for He takes us on at every level.

H.H.Swamiji has been a source of strength and inspiration. His limitless compassion, attention to detail, and concern for every sādhaka who seeks Him out, is unparalleled. He interacts with every sādhaka like the Divine Mother Herself- giving us the Āshvāsana, the Abhaya, to face every situation in life; blessing us in ways, small and large, tangible and intangible, while providing us multiple opportunities to connect with Him; gently pulling us closer through mantra-deeksha, Ashirvachana-s, bhajan-s; and prodding us on in the right path whenever we stray. Through all the ups and downs of life, that Guru Shakti has never forsaken; through every achievement and error alike, there has always been an abundance of grace and guidance. That karuna has been instrumental in shaping who I am today…

As Yuva-s under the wings of Shri Chitrapur Math, we represent the Math and the Guru Parampara by default, wherever we go. The more we discover our roots, the taller we can grow in every facet of our lives. I hope every Yuva will be able to attend more shivir-s, perform seva in any form possible, and strengthen that bond with the Guru- Shakti, for the way it can touch your life and that of those around you is beyond measure. We are all gifted children of Saraswati Herself, and have been presented with a beautiful sandbox to present and refine what we have through the Yuvadhara and the various activities of the Math. It is but fitting that we express our gratitude by offering all we have gained in seva, in any way possible- whether we excel at IT work, or have a passion for art; whether we love baking or have a penchant for organising events; there is scope to offer, and gain, in the grand missions that are happening through the Math. To be a part of the work guided by the Guru- Sankalpa, and to gain that Sparsha is a fortune beyond measure, and I sincerely wish every yuva will be able to partake of this.

Through all these years in seva, there are several fond memories associated with the Math, the most beautiful among them- being part of the Guru Jyoti Padayatra in 2008. I had heard about incidents from Parijnanashram Swamiji’s life from a young age, and have been blessed to be born in a household Guru Swami blessed with His Presence on multiple occasions. When the chance came to be a part of this grand commemoration and samuhika prayashchitta, I joined my father and a few other sadhaka-s from Chennai on daily walks to prepare for the Gokarn-Shirali padayatra. During this time though, I met with an accident that led to a fractured knee and I remember praying with all my heart that I should heal in time - intensifying my japa and working towards recovery. When the time finally came, it was surreal. Getting a chance to carry Parijnanashram Swamiji’s paduka-s on my head for a while, as we walked along with Pujya Swamiji amidst bhajan-s and chants- the entire community coming together in a profound act of seva. The organisation was impeccable and when we finally arrived into the Math, and were welcomed with a cloudburst that masked the tears of joy rolling down our eyes, it was a moment to savour forever. Our community has been blessed with a glorious Guru Parampara, and that cascading of Grace has brought such tremendous progress for sadhaka-s at so many levels. Even at a community level, our Math has several meaningful social projects that are impacting innumerable lives. At the helm of all this, is that Guru Shakti, constantly guiding with a gentle touch. These experiences now define my every action- for at every stage, the constant set of choices in front of me are never stressful, for my choice is always based on the only dictum that matters - Prasannoऽstu Guruh Sada!

MEMORIES : Priceless...Precious...Permanent