In August 2004, I had gone to Kerala to visit my spiritual master Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha whose ashram is located at Trichur. It has beautiful surroundings and the entire area is lush green. The visit was planned soon after the Guru Poornima celebrations got over but one activity of ‘Daan-Satra’ still remained. This is a very sublime tradition in which the poor families of the nearby villages are provided some help in the form of cash, rice and clothes. Poor people of the area look forward to this occasion with a lot of fondness. For them, it is more of a blessing than help. Swamiji also ensures that this distribution ceremony is conducted with perfection and humility.
During my forementioned visit, Swamiji took me along with him for one such distribution function. Firstly, the drive through the Kerala villages was in itself a great joy. Soon, we reached the village where the function was arranged. People had already gathered there waiting eagerly for Swamiji’s arrival. Many of them were very poor but all were looking happy. In the whole gathering, there was hardly anyone who could communicate in a language other than Malayalam. Therefore, the only person I could communicate with was Swamiji. Still, I could read the body language of others and
my inference was that the proceedings were very sublime, making everyone happy.
As soon as the distribution part was over, it was time for chanting, Swamiji himself initiated the process by chanting ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare’. And to my surprise, everyone in the gathering joined in the chorus with correct pronunciation. This was something new to me and gave me a lot of pleasure. Earlier, I had noticed a similar thing in Andhra Pradesh as well as in Tamil Nadu, where I had been on election duties. This set me thinking about the efforts which must have gone into propagating the names of our Gods throughout the length and breadth of the country. This happened thousands of years back, when there were hardly any means of communication and travel. Today, despite all these means and a lot of investment, such campaigns are only short-lived and people soon forget all that is conveyed through such campaigns. On the contrary, what our great saints and seers spread in temples and pilgrimages, still remains in our memory. Surely, their message is directed to the heart rather than to the head. This is the difference between the spiritual and the secular.