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
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
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
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
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
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
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.