Humility Is The Key…

Most of us have seen Aruna Bankeshwar diligently playing the harmonium while Ganesh Bankeshwar is on the tabla , during the bhajan or Ashtavadhan seva in Shri Chitrapur Math. We present, in their own words, a glimpse of their spiritual journey in our ‘Couple-in-seva’ series…     (February 2024)

Aruna pachi says:

In the year 1997, our Chitrapur Saraswat samaj was blessed with Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji as our 11th Mathadipati. That was when my association with Shri Chitrapur Math began.  We had just shifted to Malleswaram, Bengaluru and luckily, Pujya Swamiji’s  Chaturmas in 1998 was in the Bengaluru Math. I attended the Guru Pujan, Devi Pujan and Shiv Pujan performed by P.P. Swamiji. Slowly, I started getting involved in other activities of the Math and also attending bhajan classes run by Mullerpattan Sharada pachi. We had a really nice group.

In 1999, Madiman Malinipachi wrote a Sangeetika based on the life of Sant Appayya Samarth. Our bhajan group travelled to many places like Chennai, Mumbai, Ramnagar, Vittal, Bailur (sthana of his Guru Vimalananda) and performed the Sangeetika. I had learnt light classical vocal music whenever there was an opportunity during my husband’s postings to different places. That has been of great help to me, till date… 

Going down memory lane, when we were newly married, we stayed with Shiroor Shankar maam (my husband’s maternal uncle) for a few years. At that time we got the golden opportunity of being blessed by Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji III whenever Guru Swami used to break his journey at Dharwad and stay in Shankarmaam’s place en route to and from Mumbai. 

In 2001, we shifted to Shirali and took a rented house close to the plot we had bought from Nagarkatti Mohan maam and started construction of our house. By God’s and Guru’s Grace, the construction was over in August 2002 and we moved into our home…My first one-on-one interaction with Pujya Swamiji was in the year 2002 when I took mantradiksha. I experienced many positive changes in my life thereafter…

During the early years,I visited the Math occasionally. In 2008, P.P. Swamiji introduced Prarthana varga for children under 15 years of age to familiarise them with our Math and Guru Parampara and also to expose them to the Bhagavad Gita and other stotra-s, bhajan-s, and more. Under the guidance of Sorab Keshav maam, I started conducting Prarthana varga.I also did voluntary work in the Math’s women empowerment scheme, Samvit Sudha. Since January 2022, I have been offering my seva in the museum. Doing japa, anushthana, pujan, pathan, under Pujya Swamiji’s Guidance has enhanced concentration and helped greatly in my personal sadhana. 

During Chaturmas 2023, Convenor Satish Tonse maam planned everything meticulously and ensured that Pujya Swamiji’s Chaturmasya vrata went off very well. Local devotees actively participated in all the activities of the Math. Many out-station devotees also came and offered various forms of seva like bhajan, Yakshagana, kirtan, talks and so on… 

My participation in our Math’s spiritual activity happens every day. We attend the Ashtavadhan seva regularly and although I have not learnt to play the harmonium formally, I started playing after coming to Shirali. The practice of playing the harmonium at the Math during the Ashthavadhan seva and bhajan seva has greatly helped in enhancing this skill. 

Seva, according to me , is voluntary work done in the Math, or for it, with total humility, like worship, without expecting anything in return My pranam-s at the Lotus Feet of Parama Pujya Swamiji for giving me all these wonderful opportunities!


Ganesh maam says:

In 1956, when I was around 10 years old, I visited our Math for the first time with my father  and had Darshan of  our 9th Guru - Parama Pujya Anandashram Swamiji.

Later, I met Swamiji once more at Baindoor (my native place) in  the Ugrankar family home, where He stopped on his way from Udupi to Shirali. We attended the Deepa - Namaskar (which used to be called  Divatige Salam at the time). Swamiji travelled in a grey-coloured Dodge which had a soft purr. Later too, I  visited our Math from Baindur during Anandashram Swamiji’s tenure.

In the early ‘70s, I met Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji  III at Saraswatpur Dharwad a few times during my stay with my maternal uncle Shri Shankar Rao A Shiroor who was the president of the Dharwad local sabha. At that time, Swamiji used to stay in the right wing of the same house during His visits. We used to eagerly clean up and decorate the rooms reserved for Swamiji before His arrival. We would also organize bhajan and music programmes before deepanamaskar. 

In the first week of January 2000, we performed Maharudraabhishek seva for five days at our Math. At that time the possibility of settling down in Shirali arose to my mind. We searched and finally zeroed down on a plot of agricultural land owned by the Nagarkattis in Bandikashi. I was working in Karwar and began visiting Shirali over weekends to develop the land. During one of my visits, I met our Mathadhipati Parama Pujya Sadyojat  Shankarashram Swamiji who blessed my desire to settle in Shirali. Thereafter, we completed our present home - ‘Shivaranjani’ and we moved in, in September 2001. I received mantradiksha from Our Beloved Swamiji in 2002.

I was appointed President of the Chaturmas Committee in 2003. Since then, I have been actively involved in Math activities like vantiga collection, participating in weekly bhajan programmes and leading samoohik Gayatri anushthan-s. In 2004, I did seva as warden in Anandashraya for some time and later  served as Hon. Secretary of Guruprasad Highschool, Mallapur. I have also worked as secretary and treasurer of our local Shirali sabha.

I also played an active role in the formation of the Saraswat Colony of 34 plots in the name of Chitrapur Saraswat House Owners’ Association for the benefit of  Amchi-s wishing to come and settle down in Shirali. We purchased 6 1/2 acres of agricultural land from four private owners converted the same into non-agricultural land, constructed a compound wall around the whole plot, dug two borewells, constructed an office room ,a meeting hall, overhead water tank in each building, got approval of plots with proper road, water and electricity connection for each and registered in the individual names of association members. We were able to complete this huge task after overcoming many hurdles at each stage.

It has become our daily routine to visit our Math in the evenings for maha-mangalarati and Ashtavadhana seva during which, I play the tabla and my wife, the harmonium.

 I have seen significant changes in the life of our community members and other residents of Shirali in the last two decades under the Mathadhipatya of Pujya Swamiji…

We have learnt bhajan-s, pujan, pranayam, and the importance of nama- japa and anushthan-s from our Swamiji. Local women have become independent through Pujya Swamiji’s initiatives like Samvit Sudh and HMPP. The average standard of living has gone up through the unique self-help scheme-Parimochana and needy children get free education and excellent facilities at Srivali High School and thereby, the hope of a better future.In Kembre farm, rice, coconuts, vegetables and flowers are grown and this helps our Math to attain self -sufficiency to a great extent.

I would like to conclude by repeating that our community is extremely fortunate to have Parama Pujya Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji as our Mathadhipati, for He is a friend, a philosopher and a guide for each one of us in our journey towards self- realisation!