Music is the true international language, and this song’s inspirational message resonates in my soul as the world endures the coronavirus pandemic in a way that is truly having a global impact on all of us. This crisis shows how people across the planet are in this moment together. John Lennon and The Beatles travelled to India for inspiration so many years ago, and as I self-quarantine, I find myself reflecting on my own enlightening journey to India where I connected as a teacher to incredible students at Veerayatan. I hope sharing my memories with the Veerayatan community resonates a message that being interconnected is how all of us can thrive and survive in this world.
I volunteered at Veerayatan Kutch in 2015 for what was initially a two-month trip. Upon interacting with the kids there, as well as just absorbing the atmosphere, I extended my stay to four months because I just didn’t want to leave students in the middle of their studies. What guy in his mid-20s, born and raised in the US, would do that? For me, the decision was made in part by the expressions of gratitude from the students. I went back to Veerayatan in 2017, and all of the students not only recognized me, they remembered me! I cannot begin to put in words how much it moved me to receive such an enthusiastic and warm welcome back, it felt like coming home.
One inspiring friend, Misty, who is like a sister to me, travelled to Bihar in the middle of her medical school studies and spent several months dedicated to helping patients at the eye hospital. Many of you may have heard her beautiful and talented voice because she produced 5 CDs of bhakti and bhajans and contributed all of the proceeds to Veerayatan.
Another wonderful person I met at Veerayatan is Shayna Parekh, who was very young when she first volunteered in Kutch immediately after the 2001 earthquake. She happily stayed in those adverse conditions, in order to help those in need and played a role in creating the Kutch center into what it is today.
My dear Punita Masi, an exceptional devotee and board member, put me in touch with several others that have expressed interest in volunteering at Veerayatan. I offered guidance and shared my experiences, in hope that others will be as amazed and touched as I am by the work going on at all of the Veerayatan’s centers.
I am in awe of the work, devotion, and dedication by Acharya Chandanaji, whom I most affectionately call ‘Maa’. Maa, the fellow sadhvijis, as well as each and every one of you, my Veerayatan family, have made this organization great.
Thank you so much, and I love you Maa! You met me as a new-born and have always showered me with affection. It is remarkable how you so generously give yourself to others, which continues to inspire me every day.
I myself, as well as many others of my generation, am not as religious as our elders before us. However, that is what draws me, and others like me to follow the path of seva that Veerayatan believes in, which I regard as my own faith and driving force in life.
As of today, there is no cure for the novel coronavirus. However, as Maa has taught us through her exemplary leadership, it is our collective humanity that will get us through this global pandemic as we work together through acts of service and kindness to one and all.