In His Grace-Gananjali
“I do not reside in Vaikuntha, or in the hearts of ascetics.
In thinking of it, I knew that they would not last until Monday for Rudrabishekam so I decided I would use them for Gananjali. Not knowing whether there would be any small murthies, it crossed my mind to make them for my hair, as I seen women do at other concerts in the past. In the car on the way, with our driver driving faster than the speed of light, I discussed options with Bhadra, who was sitting next to me. Marvelling at my own ability to stitch in such speedy conditions, I then made one small mala, using all of the blooms. I put it in my purse, still not knowing what it would adorn. The program had not yet started when we arrived and I looked around for Sreedeviji and Sundara Narayana. The room was bustling with activity, microphones still being set up and people coming into the room to be seated, chatting to each other as they waited for the signal that the program was about to start.
I turned to Bhadra and asked her what she thought I should do with the mala I had made and she told me to do what I thought was right. Here we were at the Bridgewater Temple, where I had never been before and so a part of my mind told me that I should offer the mala to a deity in the temple if we went there later for darshan (we never made it); another part, the part that won, told me that I was here for the Gananjali book release and that the mala was for here.
At the same time this thought ruled the day, I looked up onto the stage and saw the woman who I knew must be Sreedevi auntie standing there with some others near the pujya. I rose from my seat and went up to the front of the stage. Since we only knew each other from the Guruvayur group and had never met, as I looked up and she looked down I asked the silly question…”Do you recognize me?” She laughed and told me that of course she did. I handed her the mala, trusting that it would find its way to where it belonged.
I went back to my seat and began chatting with Bhadra. When I looked up I saw that Sreedeviji had walked across the stage with the mala hanging from her wrist. I wondered what she would do with it!
Swami Siddhanandaji was kind enough to offer the blessings for the book release and Sundara Narayana received those blessings with bowed head and overflowing heart. What he could not say in words, limited now by the effects of his recent strokes, emanated from his eyes, speaking volumes, alive with all the things he could not say. There is a certain look someone has when Grace is flowing and he had this look.
And then there was Sundara Narayana Uncle, who spoke a few words, quite an achievement in light of his recent stroke. As Sreedevi Aunty told me: “These were his own sentences, which Emily, the speech therapist printed out and he read from there.” He said, ” Hari Om. Welcome to you all. Lots of things have happened in the last few months, some of it good, some of it bad. All according to God’s will. All are prasadam to me. My wife and two wonderful kids, I have are given to me by God. I am blessed with wonderful family and friends. I am also blessed to know my wonderful speech therapist, Emily Sweet and her husband Eric.”
To honor his accomplishment and to support his efforts, Emily and her husband came to the event and, although unfamiliar with the traditions and carnatic music, stayed the entire time, surely experiencing the benefit of this exposure to culture and Grace!
The afternoon was filled with devotional music, all written by Sundara Narayana, krithis rendered by local musicians as well as a concert by performing artist Sankaran Namboothiri. The versatility of carnatic music was evidenct in the spontaneity of the performances, accompanied by accomplished violinist Smitha Krishnan and mridangam player Akshay Ananth.
By the end of the program two more garlands had fallen, the Lord’s blessings upon the offering and an expression of His love.