From Editor’s Desk
The idea of Sewa (service) has played a prominent role in evolution of Sikh religion. According to Sikkhism service should not be confined to fixed forms of sectarian charity but shall be freely varied according to the needs of those to whom it is rendered.
The cultivation and practice of self less service which is termed as Nishkam Sewa in Gurbani or Sikh scriptures attracts God’s grace and when He bestows His favour the Holy name comes to dwell in that person who performs such service. Guru Nanak says – “Practice Charity and worship the Lord and deal honestly with your fellow beings”.
Extending Sewa beyond Sri Gurudwaras and to the needy wins the followers of Sri Guru Nanak Devji the confidence of the fellow countrymen and even other societies. This would surely carry the holy message across.
Sikh Sangat To Organise Service Activities During
Kumbha Mela In Haridwar
The two-day national convention of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat was organised in Haridwar from November 29 - 30. About 150 delegates from different parts of the country participated in the convention. It decided to organise fifteen service acivities during the Kumbha Mela beginning from January 13 in Haridwar. About four crore devotees are expected to have a dip in the River Ganga during the Mela.
Following the rich Sikh traditions, the Sangat would organise langar, free medical camps, exhibition highlighting the great Sikh traditions, residential arrangements for the needy, Sarvadharma Sant Sammelan, Rashtra Raksha Sammelan, Keertan Darbar, etc. Sampark Pramukh of the Sangat Dr Avatar Singh Shastry would look after these service activities.
Apart from taking various decisions related to the organisation, the national executive was also reconstituted and Sardar Gurucharan Singh Gill was again elected national president for next two years.
Speaking at the concluding ceremony, former Union Minister Dr Subramaniam Swamy recalled the contribution of Sikh community in development of the nation and said that many great personalities of the community made sacrifices for the sake of Hindu society. RSS National Executive member Shri Indresh Kumar, founder of the Sikh Sangat Sardar Chiranjiv Singh, VHP vice president Shri Balkrishna Naik, general secretary of the Sikh Sangat Shri Avinash Jaiswal and many other distinguished social leaders also attended the convention.
Micro Finance – A Unique Experiment of Udyamita Vidyapeeth, Deendayal Research Institute (DRI), Chitrakoot
Thus, Udyamita Vidyapeeth realized that the funding requirement of the majority of villagers was the main concern. From donations received by the Institute, Udyamita Vidyapeeth opened a bank account in the name of ‘Swavalamban”, to make available the interest free micro loans to the needy.
The methodology to ensure repayment and ‘zero default’ was as follows:
1. Organising meetings in the village, attended by the villagers and Samaj Shilpi Dampati of a particular cluster, where the villagers themselves recommend the name of the candidate.
2. In some cases, the candidate contributes up to 50% of the capital requirement. His/her ability to raise funds is verified by the villagers themselves.
3. At the end of the meeting, selected candidates are asked to come to Udyamita Vidyapeeth to collect their cheques and complete other formalities on a particular date.
4. During their visit to Udyamita Vidyapeeth, the candidates are welcomed, shown around the campus, provided lunch, told about the sources of the funds and also introduced to senior DRI functionaries present there.
5. The candidates are photographed and have to sign a mortgage agreement on Rs. 10/- stamp paper that remains in force until the repayment of the total loan amount. After that, cheques are handed over to them.
6. The Samaj Shilpi Dampati ensures that the shop/enterprise is started within 2 working days from the date of receipt of the cheque, and on the 3rd day, the officials of Udyamita Vidyapeeth check that the loan has been properly utilized at the village level.
Since its inception in May 2004, a total of Rs. 6,00782.00 has been distributed to 207 beneficiaries. The loan recovery rate in clusters where Samaj Shipli Dampati works has been 100%. The loans have been made available to all – whether educated or uneducated; young or old; man or woman; farmer or landless worker. The sole criterion for providing loan to the villagers was their poor economic condition.
The main objective of this unique experiment was to support unemployed rural youths through micro finances so that migration to urban centres can be checked, and demand for training of employment generating skills can be increased.
Rashtriya Sikh Sangat was formed on 24th Nov, 1986 on the Guruprakash Purab of Jagatguru Nanak Sahibji Maharaj.
Gursikh Meet Chalo Gur Chali
Rashtriya Sikh Sangat is working for the cause of Gurmat and Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj’s “Marg of Sikhi”. Rashtriya Sikh Sangat thinks that the entire Hindu Society should also be made acknowledge of the high ideals of Sikhism, Sikh History throughout the world. Presently it is running 543 organisational units in India and 16 units abroad.
Different Dimensions of Area of Work
With the inspiration of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, Sangat Sansar Society (Regd). Is publishing a Magazine with name & style of “Sangat Sansar” in the same premises. “Sangat Sansar” Magazine basically writes about the Gurbani, history of Guru Sahiban, history of Sikhs & Guramat. The magazine also focuses on the ancient spiritual knowledge, nationalist ideals, Indian theosophical subjects. It also takes up the social and political issues related to the sikh masses.
Its new website is www.sangatsansar.org. For that, the organization has a well trained team and a well equipped computerized office. It is the first Punjabi (Gurumukhi), Hindi (Devnagari) & English website about the Sikh Gurus, Sikh history, Gurbani & Sikh Gurdwaras.
Newly acquired Office, Its Renovation and Expansion
Rashtriya Sikh Sangat has acquired a new office at Karol Bagh. The organization is at the same time planning the expansion of the premises. Under the guidance of the seniors of the organization, different Vibhags of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat function in the office.
Rashtriya Sikh Sangat has started a Library, which has books on the subjects of Gurbani, History of Guru Sahiban, Sikh scriptures of Punjab, Gurmat Philosophy & Ancient Spiritual Heritage of Bharat. The organization has also chalked out a plan for the expansion of this project. Starting of this kind of projects are also being considered, in which financial aspect is most important ingredient.
Sangat Vichar kaksh
A well computerized office with aim to design the website of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat and “Sangat Sansar” Magazine is under-progress. A group of young, intellectual workers of the organization has been formed to publish literary work with nationalist ideas in Sangat Vichar Kaksh.
Bibi Nanaki Rasoi (Langar)
Sikh Sangat and its workers come to central office and have Langar with the blessings of Shri Guru Maharaj. It wants to expand this sewa as a great tradition of Sikh Gurus. This Langar Sewa runs with the contributions of the Guru Ki Sangat.
Baba Deep Singh Ranjit Akhara
Rashtriya Sikh Sangat has been planning to start an institution to train the masses with traditional Khalsa Marshal Art – The Gatka; the seviour of the Sanatan Dharma. Rashtriya Sikh Sangat has crafted a plan with a road map to establish a consistent dialogue with the different sections of the Sikh Social Groups residing throughout the world.
Bhai Lakhi Shah Banjara Foundation
Rashtriya Sikh Sangat has started working among the great Banjara Community, which is spread all over the country including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarkhand. Bhai Lakhi Shah Banjara Foundation has started to construct a building to train the children of Banjara community in the field of Gurbani Kirtan or Raag Vidhya, Kathavachan, Gurbanivachan & other fields of Khalsa Traditions in village Qasimpura, Tehsil-Bhopa, Disst.- Muzaffarnagar (U.P.) as first step.
He didn't have to read rocket science to turn his residence into a "green" home. He is inspired by the simple, age-old chemical process that every housewife in India is familiar with. "If you leave a bowl of milk behind for five days, how will it smell when you come back? Rotten, right? But if you put a drop of buttermilk into it before you leave, you'll find fresh curd!" beams Indra Kumar (59), whose 1986-built house has now become a pilgrimage for those wanting to do their bit for the environment — be it farmers from Arakkonam or school students from Chennai.
"Here, smell it," says Indra Kumar, as he opens the lid of the septic tank in his garden. One instinctively recoils, but its contents look as harmless as accumulated rain water. "Is there smell?" No. "Do you see any mosquitoes?" No. "That's because I treat sewage with a certain bacteria," he declares. The bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, neutralise the sewage to turn waste into manure for plants in his garden.
Then, the earthworm takes care of the liquid waste from the kitchen. Under the drainage pipe, Kumar has buried some worms which not only digest the organic matter but also feed on mosquito eggs. And at the spot where water from the bathroom drains out, he grows cama plant, whose roots treat the soap water.
Solid waste from kitchen is collected in an earthen pot and dried cowdung sprinkled on it periodically. "Any smell?" Indra Kumar asks. No. "Any fly?" No. "In 60 days this will turn into beautiful compost," he exclaims. He treats leaves from the garden similarly: collects them in drums and sprinkles dried cowdung on them till they turn into compost. "This way, you give back to nature what it gives you. People often burn dry leaves, which only causes pollution."
Indra Kumar's fascination for composting is understandable because in 2004, he took voluntary retirement from Areva (formerly the English Electric Company, where he worked as a machine-man and then as a purchase supervisor) to take up vermi-composting. Today, as the president of Home Exnora, he is a sought-after man who is called by universities and citizens' group to speak on waste management. "If you control pollution at the micro-level, it doesn't require any money or the government's involvement. People only think about what they eat or what they drink. But what about the air that you breathe non-stop, right from the time you are born?" Kumar asks. — Times of India , 17 Nov 2009
Sreedhar takes all these unknown bodies to the cemetery, and gives them a decent burial after showering them with rice, flowers and milk with a prayer on his lips. They are buried because the names or religion of the dead are unknown. If the deceased are Hindu and from an old age home, he gives them a proper cremation according to Hindu rites.
Back home, Sreedhar, associate vice-president, IndiaInfoline, does not feel bad that his weekly holiday starts in a burial ground. On the contrary, he feels calm and blissful, having bidden farewell with dignity to some unknown souls. Sreedhar started this service of cremating the unknown 24 years ago in 1985 after he happened to read the book Daivathin Kural (God's voice) by Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, the Paramacharya or senior shankaracharya of the Kanchi Mutt.
"In the book, he says that a dead man should be given a decent farewell irrespective of the caste or religion the person belongs to. When the atma (soul)) leaves the body, it should be given a proper farewell. This is the belief of all Hindus." The observation made Sreedhar think of all those unknown and unclaimed bodies in the hospitals and the abandoned old people in old age homes. And when he expressed his desire to cremate the abandoned bodies to the Paramacharya, he blessed Sreedhar and asked him to go ahead.
Titbits: 1. On October 9, 2009, Nagendran made some purchases in the market of Kallakurichi in Villupuram district (Tamilnadu, Bharat). When he took out money from his pocket, he failed to notice a packet that fell down. It contained gold ornaments weighing 4 sovereigns valued at Rs. 50,000. A little later, Aruna Devi, Kalaiselvi and Chandralekha, poor women from nearby villages, noticed the unclaimed packet on the road. On finding ornaments in it, they wanted to hand it over to the police. As the police station was a fair distance way, they gave the packet to head constable Kannan who was regulating traffic nearby. He, in turn, gave to officials. Soon, the owner of the packet was traced and the ornaments restored to him. Amal Raj, the District Superintendent of police, praised the ladies for their honesty.
2. Dr. C.V.Raman, Nobel laureate and an ideal Guru, was invited by the then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad to Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi for the investiture ceremony for awarding `Bharat Ratna'. C.V.Raman wrote back, "As my student who has completed his Ph.D course under my supervision is to face his oral examination on that date, I will not be able to come to Delhi in person. My presence here will be a source of encouragement to my student". This anecdote was narrated by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam former President of India.
3. Thirukokarnam in Pudhukottai district is home to `gnanalaya', a library. With 25,000 books, it is sought after by M.Phil and Ph.D students. Scholars from other countries have stayed here and made use of the library, thanks to the hospitality of the `librarian' couple – Shri B.Krishnamoorthy and his wife Smt. Dorothy. They serve delicious meals for three days to book lovers free. Krishnamoorthy, 58, is a retired headmaster. Dorothy is a lecturer in a college. They have so far spent Rs 10 lakhs on books in addition to converting most parts of their house into a library. With the library growing, the couple built a separate block nearby at a cost of Rs 6 lakhs exclusively for books. Krishnamoorthy managed the money out of his retirement benefits.
Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work. — Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.