An Exemplary Balvikas Guru- Tribute to my mum on her 18th anniversary

Our family has been blessed to be in Lord Sai’s fold for more than 3 decades now. My mother, Smt Anandi Parameswaran, started her first Bal vikas (Moral values and Prayer for children) class at our home in Mumbai with me and my brother as her first 2 students, way back in 1977. Some of the neighboring children on knowing about this class started attending the same. Within a year of starting the class, the number of students increased to more than fifty. Bhajans (Songs in praise of the Lord) and stories were the main attraction for the kids. Parents found that these value based classes really helped their children to develop good moral values as well as to gain confidence by participating in the bhajans , dances, skits and many such other competitions where all the children were given some or the other opportunity to participate. Parents were astonished that they could see a visible difference in their children. The children insisted on lighting the lamps at their homes and chanting prayers. They persuaded their parents to help out with food, clothing etc whenever a Narayan Seva (serving/feeding of the poor) was organized. Many parents, who did not know about Swami then, came to appreciate HIS teachings and message. One of the parents, a scientist and an atheist became a transformed person after he experienced Swami’s miracle in his family. Swami had chosen mother as an instrument to draw this person into HIS fold.
My mother was not in her best of health, but her faith and dedication to Swami was so great that, despite being a heart patient she sincerely took the class week after week, inspiring the little children with value based stories, skits, prayers, service activities etc. She trained the children to sing beautifully and with full devotion. With Swami’s grace our Bal-Vikas students got opportunities to perform bhajans on various festivals organized both in our colony and surrounding area. We were given opportunity to hold exhibitions displaying Swami’s messages at our school as well as other public venues during Swami’s birthday.

Eshwaramma day and Swami’s birthday celebrations were the biggest highlights for us, the Balvikas kids. We would get chance to perform at a public venue where many centers would have a combined celebration. Our house would have a festive look during the preparation sessions. It would be filled with the children practicing the dances, the skits and the bhajans. Our house was dedicated completely for the Lord’s activities.

The children loved mother very much and had named her “Sairam Aunty”. They had developed so much faith and love for her that they would come in huge numbers each day of their examinations to seek her blessings and take the vibhuti prasadam (sacred ash). She would be eagerly awaiting their arrival as well. The students shared such a loving relationship with the teacher. The children had a strong faith in her and believed that if they receive their guru’s blessings; they would pass the exams with flying colors, which they did with Swami’s grace.

One memorable occasion of how Swami blessed us, the BV students, was when one of my father’s friends, informed us that some Bal-Vikas students and gurus from South Mumbai had planned a spiritual retreat to a famous Ganesha temple near our place of residence. He sought my parents’ help to organize a lunch for all of them .My parents considered this as an opportunity given by Swami to train the Bal-Vikas students to do some service by playing host to the guests. My mother selected a few grown up children both boys and girls to play this role. She remained in the background, overseeing the bhajan preparations, the exhibition displays, the reception, arrangement of the food etc. She explained the students the meaning of “Aththi Devo Bhava” as to how the guests should be treated, with love and respect. The hall was nicely decorated with festoons and flowers, carpet was spread and all necessary arrangements including Swami’s chair was arranged.

When the guests arrived, we, students dressed in white uniform received them with folded hands and greeted them. The guests were very much surprised to see so many “students in white” in action. They didn’t expect this grand reception, bhajan arrangements and meticulous organization by the children under the guidance of just 2 adults namely my parents. The State Convener of Bal Vikas was full of praise for the arrangements and insisted that we children should join in the bhajans as well. During singing of bhajan “Subramaniam Subramaniam” by one of our BV students, there was a sudden spray of vibhuti in the chair kept for Swami. One elderly devotee accompanying the group stood up and started shedding tears. He told us that he could see Swami sitting on the chair, taking kerchief in His hand and wiping His face. Later, we found the kerchief kept on the arm of the chair had wrinkles confirming Swami’s presence. We were thrilled beyond words that Swami had acknowledged the work done by us. Mother was very happy that her students received Swami’s abundant grace.

The most cherished moment for my mother as a BV guru was when Swami had visited Thane (near Mumbai) and her students were given the golden opportunity to receive Swami with the chanting of veda mantras. Mother trained the students very well and ensured that they practiced it thoroughly before reciting in presence of the Lord. On the day of Swami’s visit, as soon as Swami alighted from the car, these children backed by my mother were in the Divine presence receiving the Lord with the soulful, heartfelt renditions of the mantras. Swami was very happy with the 4 boys who chanted the mantras so beautifully and blessed them and my mother. It was a pleasant surprise in those days, to see such small children chant the Purusha suktam and the other vedic prayers so clearly and confidently. It was even more amazing to know that among the lead chanting boys, one was a Catholic Christian boy named Joseph, who chanted the mantras perfectly. It was evident at that time itself; how Swami’s universal teaching brought children of different communities together.

It was purely due to mother’s full faith in Swami and her setting an ideal example, that the children loved and respected her. The children who learnt under her later went on to become doctors, engineers and other great professionals and still remember her for instilling the right values which benefited them all the way along.

Later when my parents moved to the South of India in 1994, mother ensured that the Mumbai classes were continued by an able teacher and she again set off to start the BV classes in the South and managed to get a good number of students. My mother left her mortal coil in 1995, and till almost the last breath of her life she conducted the BV class. She wouldn’t give up what she thought was the best possible service she could render to Swami. When mother was in the hospital her students were praying to Swami to save the life of their guru. Later the children told us that, when they were praying at the time of mother’s passing away, a bird flew over the terrace and stayed on till the end of bhajan. Till this day we are unable to understand the significance of this happening. The guru could win over the tender heart of these children within a very short time. It was a difficult task for my father to console the BV students on the loss of their beloved guru.

After her passing away, most of the condolence letters received were from her old students who had so much love and respect for her. They had so much good to write about her that she had made them a good human being and had made a difference in their lives. (In this context I would like to mention about a student of hers whom I met 17 years after her passing on and I was overwhelmed to hear what he had to say about his guru, ie my mum, “I have the best of everything in my life and I have given the best to my daughter here abroad, but I always tell her that she will never be able to find an exemplary guru like his (ie my mum) who made such an impact on him and many other students through her dedication and commitment in imparting moral values to the children.” Mum was in a mission to put into practice her master’s (Swami) message, “The End of Education is Character” and “Education is for life and not mere living”.

I am very fortunate to be born to such a noble soul and I as her student and daughter, try to follow the values taught to me by her and am guiding some children in the same path. I hope to make some difference in my students’ life just as my mother did. A small step forward in this path is my blog https://saibalsanskaar.wordpress.com. (Compilation of moral value stories and students experiences practicing the same).

There couldn’t be a better tribute for my mother today (7th March) ie her 18th anniversary from me.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. parameswaran
    Mar 07, 2013 @ 12:29:58

    The real feeings flown from the heart is present in this tribute . May you and your class students be blessed by his noble soul and may Swami shower HIS grace and love on all of you

    Reply

  2. parameswaran
    Mar 07, 2013 @ 12:31:36

    like

    Reply

  3. Latika
    Mar 07, 2013 @ 21:26:13

    Dear Nandu-I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been nurtured by my beloved ‘perimai’ and thankful for her abundant warmth. love and blessings…

    Reply

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