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'The Sought' Clarifies - Ramarajya
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What was the purpose behind setting up a commune at Kelambakkam?

When we moved our Samratchana centre to Neelankarai from Besant Nagar, Baba used to stay at Neelankarai in a room upstairs. Four or five volunteer boys used to stay on the premises.

Other volunteers came on a daily basis to perform service and go back. Devotees who were employed elsewhere used to come in around 7:00 p.m., and return home after the sathsang was over after around midnight. They used to leave Samratchana premises only after Baba retired upstairs.

Many persons who identified themselves with the organization, shifted from their homes to occupying houses for rent in the Neelankarai area, to contribute their services better. Their priority was to be with Siva Shankar Baba, to be of service to Samratchana. This asserted the fact that there were so many persons with such involvement. This is the first reason. They accorded priority to Samratchana activities. That was the prime reason. Many volunteers participated with great enthusiasm till the conclusion of daily Sathsang. Full-time volunteers (but not employed elsewhere) served throughout the day without the least trace of tiredness. That set me (Baba) thinking on how good it would be if all of us could stay together as one family, a model of Vasudeiva kutumbakam.

One day I was travelling to Vengaleri (our rural development centre), a volunteer who accompanied me happened to mention that there was land measuring eight acres for sale en route, at Kelambakkam. We visited that place. It was overgrown with thorny bushes. Since the place was not suitable for Samratchana activities, I decided to set up a residential commune there. We commenced construction work here on the basis of making those who purchased apartments as the collective owners of this place.

On the 5th of June 1999, some miscreants, provoked by an envious "spiritualist", set fire to Neelankarai premises. Almost the entire ashram was reduced to ashes. By God's grace there was no casualty. In sathsang that very evening, I asked the assembled devotees to sing our traditional pre-Harathi song: 'Kurai Onrum Illai Kanna' ('we have no unfulfilled desires'). Everyone was in uncontrollable tears. I was the only one cool and composed. Months later, someone read a Nadi that stated, 'There will be an attempt on your life and your ashram will be burnt down; but you will build a castle'.

I was determined to carry on with Samratchana activities whatever be the obstruction . So the sathsangh was shifted temporarily to the premises at Kelambakkam and renovation work carried on at Neelankarai. Every day at 7:00 a.m., 200 volunteers arrived, eager to rebuild the place. They removed the debris. Even girls joined in the welding work. Every minute task of renovation was carried out only by my volunteer force. I am thankful to everyone who stood by the organization at that time. It is a momentous task. It is no big deal serving an organization when it is at its peak. When an organization is hobbled by negative elements, those who stand by it are the loyal ones.

We did not waste a single thing. We sold every salvageable item. The Pillaiyar idol we have today is made out of the silver that melted in the fire. In ten days, the place was refurbished. Those were the magnificient days of Samratchana. Every visitor to Samratchana was invited to tour that place. Persons would say in a choked voice, 'Baba, at least earlier, Samratchana had tailoring, typing, computer classes to tour. What is there to see now in these ashes?' I would reply, 'It is more important to tour the place now'. The visitors would be stunned to see the amount of labour going on; every one of my volunteers put his/her heart and soul into the task. His/her only aim was to see Samratchana up and functioning.

The intention of the offenders was to deal out a loss that we may not be able to bear. But I was determined that I would never retract from my work of God. True to Churchill's words 'In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity'. I stood my ground. I did not want to halt Samratchana proceedings whatever be the cost. During day, Samratchana renovation work went on. Evening we would have sathsangh at Kelambakkam.

Time and destiny ensured that we start a centre at Kelambakkam. We did not plan for it. It happened of its own accord. And it started developing at a God-decided rapid pace. I went on a pilgrimage to Kailash, by which time the Anjaneya garden was ready. That was a phase when everything picked up. We laid an earthen road and then a tar road. The compulsion for such an enormous growth of Kelambakkam was the fire incident. After 1996, Samratchana has seen growth of tremendous proportions. God planned it that way. Once the Poorana Brhamam temple at Kelambakkam was built and the idol was consecrated and kumbhabhishekam was performed, I devised a pattern of working - morning sathsangh at Neelankarai and evening sathsangh at Kelambakkam. And we decided to continue performing the homams and Pournami yagams at Kelambakkam (these were done at Neelankarai prior to Kumbabhishekam).

All these are beyond the realm of the human mind; there is a Divine Hand at play. Prior to our moving here, there was no proper road in Kelambakkam. The entire area developed so well only after we arrived here. The old Mahabalipuram road has now become an info-tech highway ! So many software units are on this road. Everything happens as per (God's) Master plans. My first reply to this question is: everything was decided by God, I did not plan anything.

The second motivating factor was: so many of our volunteers understanding the concept of Vasudeiva Kutumbakam, as in Andal's Thiruppavai 'Koodiyirundhu kulirndhelo' (mingle in confluent Bliss). Third was the fire incident. And the fourth factor was the stupendous success of this concept of commune.

Over the years, many individuals came to me for counselling. The problems persons have can be classified into issues related to dwelling, health, emotional disturbances pertaining to family and prosperity. I wanted to give them a single solution for all their grievances.

Everyone has a dream to own a home. If a person takes a loan of five lakh rupees to construct a house, he will land up paying a monthly loan interest of Rs.5000. And it will take years for him to pay up the principal amount.  As his family grows in size, he has to take care of his children's expenses - school fees, transport, medical expenses, marriage expenses and so on. He will find it very difficult to cope up with the loan repayment. He will take another loan to offset this loan. Ultimately, he will repay the loan by selling the house for which he underwent so much of mental turmoil. This is the major problem of middle class. Or, having been employed for 30 years, he would obtain voluntary retirement and invest all this money to safeguard his home. How will he meet his food expenses then?

I wished to provide a solution to these problems by constructing houses at an affordable budget for Samratchana volunteers. This is why, the Ramarajya commune has a common kitchen, common places of worship. In a typical middle class family where both parents work to make ends meet, children return from school in the early evening, they eat the food available in the kitchen and tend to themselves till the parents return home late in the evening. Children tend to start missing the parental love that is essential at that age. So also, elderly people cannot be left alone at home, and so the need for a social outing is not met. So I started this housing at an affordable price with many facilities. Parents need not worry about their children. The question of security problem is also solved, since it is a commune of like-minded individuals who consider themselves as part of an extended family (Vasudeiva Kutumbakam).

The next is to provide a solution to health problems. There are the concepts of prevention and of cure. Some ways of preventing health problems is good drinking water, exercises to ensure physical fitness. If a health problem sets in, there must be a doctor available nearby to take care. We have a state-of-the-art air-conditioned hospital on our campus, equipped with many medical facilities. 

The commune is a reflection of my wish to attend to the housing and other worldly problems of Samratchanites who have invested their faith in me across the years.

We became involved more with this project because of its success. Earlier when persons visited me, their relatives scorned them, 'Don't you have any other work? Why are you visiting that samiyar?' There was a time when visiting me was a discomfiting situation for many. But you are now reaping the benefits of the trust you reposed in me. Whoever believed me like the Azhwar, 'Even if the whole world derides me, my Lord, I will forever cling to You', have done well in life. They have acquired material comforts: car, air-conditioner, own house. And they are very peaceful too, in the company of like-minded persons during Sathsangh, worshipping idols of their choice. It is an all-in-all spirituality. A common kitchen managed by volunteers caters to the palate of the residents, at a nominal cost. There is a gym that helps the residents tune their physique. And mental harmony is nurtured by the free yoga classes and meditating in the serene meditation hall. In fact, the whole environment provides such blissful serenity not easily available in the external world. A library feeds those who are in quest of further knowledge. The commune has vegetable gardens, departmental store and post office. There is a transport facility to ply people to their offices, colleges. Hi-tech facilities include Internet, Video conferencing and telephone access. There is a Church, Mosque and Buddha Vihar apart from the temples for various deities. A Jain temple and a Gurudwara are under construction. 

There is nothing lacking here. We have a school, we have an air-conditioned hospital, such wonderful infrastructure. We live amidst nature's bountiful blessing.

Those who scorned my volunteers are now asking them to recommend to me (their need) for an apartment here. They have come to realize that I champion your cause always. Time has proved to them that we are wise, and we are treading the right path. This concept of living is our challenge to society and it has become our reply too to the society that scorned us.

God decides every step. All plans are His (Master) plans. He is the Grand Master. So everything that happens, happens well. In the coming times, more persons will be asking this question in rapid succession. They will wonder how we conceived this idea. It is our success that has brought forth this question. 

We have stabilized now. We have never needed, nor will ever need any external support. We have progressed well, and will continue to taste success.

Instead of creating individual infrastructure, I wanted to create common infrastructure. Since we are part of a metropolitan city, we are not constrained by the need to create accommodation for everyone who visits us. The place has well-connected transport, so persons can actually stay in nearby hotels and come to visit us.  

I have many plans for the colony. It will be a paradise in its own way. We are constantly improving its facilities. It will be a radically different concept. Those who stood by Samratchana during the fire incident, and all those volunteers who have served Samratchana in any way will be accorded priority over others. All facilities will be free for them. For others, there will be a nominal charge for food and accommodation. There will be no need to consult me on this. Everything will be automated, volunteers will be given an identity card and the facilities will be automatically arranged for you.

Everything has a cost attached to it. I do not want to drain the resources of volunteers who have sacrificed so much for this organization. So my future policy will be to provide facilities free of cost to volunteers and charge the others nominally. Those who invested their trust in me are the beneficiaries. We will be planning more excursions for our school children, more pilgrimages for the volunteers. We visited Kailash (Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas is considered the abode of Lord Siva); we will be visiting Kathirkamam (There is a temple for Lord Muruga in Kathirkamam, a pilgrim centre in Sri Lanka. Kathirkamam is hailed as 'Kailash of the South').

I have a lot of plans. And all those plans will materialize. I am waiting for the right time. No one individually gains anything by this, neither you nor me. But everyone is a beneficiary. So many of you serve so selflessly. One person's service is used for another's benefit. Volunteers serve as doctors, teachers, gardeners and the benefit is for all of us. Everyone's service is useful for everyone. In the near future, this will be recorded as a momentous achievement.

This is similar to Russian communism. But Russian communism did not attend to the soul, and so it withered away. I based my spirituality on the concept of communism. Do not worry about whether you offer your prayers to God or not. Render service. This is my working philosophy. Kunkuliya Kalinga Nayanar became one of the 63 nayanmars (Saivite saints) by offering incense (Oothuvathi) to the Lord. Amarneethi Nayanar washed the clothes of devotees and has a place in the list of Nayanmars. Appar Swami tended to the temple gardens. If you study the lives of Nayanmars, you will realize that by rendering such service, they got into the Lord's good books. So it is with Azhwars (Vaishnavite Saints). Thiruppanaazhwar sang the glory of the Lord. Andal helped her father Periyazhwar string garlands for the Lord. And they have secured a place among Azhwars. Whoever sings the Lord's praises is Thiruppanaazhwar. Whoever strings garlands for the Lord is Andal. This is what life is all about.

I am chiselling Azhwars and Nayanmars here. I am doing it very casually and silently. You can be what you are, wear any dress you please. I have not swerved from whatever our sastras have established. We have Suprabhatham (morning invocation) being sung to the Lord, Yagams (fire offering), cow worship, Neivedyam (food offering to the Lord), Vishnu Sahasranamam (a garland of Lord's thousand names), the Vedas, the Quran and the Bible, Bhajans and Sathsang. I have transformed your service into penance. Whatever you do, you are doing for your own temple, church, mosque. Simple, is it not?

I am motivating and moulding you without your being aware of it. You are elevated spiritually every day. Examine yourself and you will find that soon after you became a resident of our commune, you would have become healthier, overcome your depression, became more active. And this is happening in such a casual manner. Everyday, I ask the doctors who serve the colony's hospital how many patients they attended upon that day. Their reply has always been, 'We are waiting for patients. No one comes'. This proves that my philosophy has been right. There must be hospitals. But there should not be any patient, because residents live in a healthy, nature-blessed atmosphere.

I have chosen a radical system of working in everything I do.  I have novel ideas. We have emerged successful now. Why should we bother about anyone's testimonial? And now, the time has come when those who defamed us are coming round and according us recognition! Time is proof that we have been and are on the right path. I am doing good to everyone, including those who scorned us and they are gradually realizing their erroneous deeds. We are different in every aspect. We are following the paths shown by Vedanta, the Quran and the Bible. But we do not turn the limelight on us. I am so casually dressed but I am much more knowledgeable than many spiritual leaders, though I have not practised austerities like they have done. My knowledge is cached within me; it is the Lord who expresses Himself through me. Why must I then gorge down knowledge gleaned from books? I have attained the destination; I have achieved the result, so why would I waste my time on the means (i.e. acquiring knowledge)?

You have taken the right decision in coming to me. Everyone has progressed well and rapidly in life after coming here. We live in comfort, we are to ourselves; we do not give in to any confusion. We are very healthy. There is no dearth of facilities here, and we are also blessed with potable water, something that is rare everywhere else.  To reiterate, if you contemplate, with maturity of thought, on everything that has happened to you, you will understand how much efforts Baba has put in to mould you and how well he has expressed His care for you in tangible ways, by the facilities he has given you. My contribution to your personality has been phenomenal.

We are in nature's embrace, eating well, attending to our daily tasks, worshipping the Lord, excelling in arts and culture besides settling to well-deserved rest with minds not distracted by anything else. There is nothing else to seek of life. We are on the right track, our march is always onward; our march is always forward.