Monday, 20 June 2016

OUR JOURNEY THROUGH AIM FOR SEVA

Our Journey through AIM for Seva


Swami Aishwaryanand Sarasvati,

Regional Coordinator, Madhya Pradesh


I remember the day at Arsh Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti, when Pujya Swamiji called all of us disciples and said, "I have decided that we Sanyasis should also do some Seva work. So we will start an organisation which is more like a movement, and which will be an all India trust. For the past 40 years I have been teaching Vedanta and giving public talks all over the and created many teachers like you. All of you are teaching Vedanta in India and abroad. Now I want all of you who are willing to do Seva activities near your centre to come forward."


That day after lunch I thought over Pujya Swamiji's words and decided that since Pujya Swamiji himself desires that all of us, his deciples, should do some Seva, I should start some Seva activity in M.P. so with the help of my Vedants student, I started organizing medical camp for tribal people. It went on for more than two years.Then,one Shri Bhanu Pratapsingh Thakur came forward and donated a piece of land for me to build an ashram near Indore.Pujya Swamiji said,"Very good. Now you can build a small Ashram there".I returned to Indore and started talking to people to get their support tor the project.It was at this time that Swamini Tattvavidyanandaji from Lucknow and Dr. Terry Papneja from Toronto invited me to meet them in Jabalpur.Dr.Papneja was very happy to meet me and asked me,"Swamiji, why don't you start a hostel some where in M.P.? We will support you totally,don't worry." I consulted Pujya Swamiji about starting a hostel near Indore, and Swamiji immediately said that it was a good idea and asked ,me to go ahead. Finally,on10 June 2005 we started the work. On 20 December 2005, Pujya Swamiji and Shri Balaram Jaskad, the Governor of M.P.,inaugurated the building. That was first Free Student Home in M.P. and today, we have 10 of them running, with two more under construction.


In the early days, I used to wonder why I ever started this Seva work. The students created so many problems,and neither did the staff understand the vision of AIM for seva. Despite the initial difficulties, I continued my work. I also started visiting the tribal villages and met a number of people who were struggling with poverty and lack of basic amenities. Then I realized the truth of Pujya Swamiji's concern for Hindu Dharma. I Understood that if we,his disciples,did not take up this work as a priority,nobody would do it. And if we let time pass, it meight be too late. I resolved, then and there, that I would give my time & effort to AIM for Seva. Today, when I visit any village, there will be at least 100 people with me. The many ears of visiting & meeting with the tribal people taugh me one thing : that our traditional Indian culture is still vibrant & alive within them.


I would like to share an intresting incident. Onc I was in a tribal village iln Mandal Dist.M.P. We stayed overnight in that particular village. Next morning I wanted to take a bath and get refreshed, but there was no bathroom, so we went to a small river nearby to bathe. Later,we saw some of the people of the village preparing alcohol from flowers. I had never seen this before and was curious as to how they distilled liquor from the flowers. One of the three men who were working explained their process. He opened the lid from a drum where the liquor was stored and offered me a drink. They did not know that sadhus do not drink liquor but they wanted to a honour a guest. And their way of honoring a guest was to offer something they valued. This time it was liquor. The man said, "Whenever a guest comes we have to offer them something we have, whatever it may be." I was so impressed and touched by their attitude of honoring their guests, 'atithyasatkar'. However I declined their generous offer and explained that a sadhu does not drink,but that I would visit their homes and eat with them. They were very happy to share their hospitality,especially with a sadhu. Whenever a guest comes to their village, they are so happy and hospitable.


In the course my travels to the many villages, I learned that many of them had not gone to school or had any formal education. Most of them were daily wages earners, but they did not want theire childern to follow their lifestyle. They wanted to educat their children and give them a better future. Some of our students are from such backgrounds. When they return home to the villages during their vacation, our students teach the people of the village whatever they had learned at the Student Home. The children from the tribal villages are very bright,with a lot of potential. They are good in sports, studies, music amd arts. One very beautiful attitude they have is they are eager to help,to do Seva. They do not have opportunities in their homes to develop their talent, nor are their talents appreciated by their parents and elders.

Today, our students are doing very well in their studies and sports.This year,four of our students enrolled in thebest engineering college in Indore. In April,59 students appeared for the 10th standard board exams and all of them passed successfully. They are all so bright and hardworkong, regardless of the grade in which  they are studying. They are eager to succeed. Their parents are proud of their childrn's performance. They are also very appreciative and thank our  organisation for the Seva. 

I feel that AIM for Seva's focus is the people who need Seva the most. We reach the neediest people and that is the best anyone can do in one's life. It is so satisfying. I believe that there is no other organisation in our country that works so selflessly for people in need. I am very proud and happy to be a part of AIM for Seva.

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