Kiran Kara

A family’s journey of self discovery

About 2 years ago my Mum and I visited India. We had been told of a spiritual teacher, a Self-Realised man of our times, living in Gujarat. Neither of us are easily led or quick to follow a trend, nonetheless we went out there with an open mind to meet Pujya Muktanandji Bapu.

We went to an Ashram in Chaparda, a small village near Junagadh, a place of true peace and tranquillity. Bapu himself lived at the Ashram. We discovered that here was a humble self-realised man who was uneducated but spoke the highest class of Gujarati you have ever heard. We could see from the fact that so much had been achieved in such a short space of time, that Bapu really was a wonderful man. He had managed to construct and introduce an educational system into a little Gujarati village that would send its students on to University and into professional working environments. Previously, those children who could afford to go to school would generally only go up to certain grade and then go back to their homes and work on the farms. Where this may have been right for some, others would never have been able to discover their higher potential.

By building a school he had allowed approximately 900 boys from all creeds and castes to be educated aged 5 to 18. We were informed that those boys who could afford to pay fees would do so or make a contribution. However, what about the others, who made up a majority of the students? What about teachers salaries, construction of buildings, boarding for all students and staff?

And, in addition to this school, was an old people’s home, a dairy farm and the ashram we were staying at. There were and still are increasing construction works to accommodate the rising number of students and visitors. We were informed that all operations were being funded by donations. It was also very noticeable, the speed at which all projects were progressing upon the funds reaching Gujarat.

My mum went back a year later, this time, my Dad went as well. He was initially very sceptical. You hear about spiritual gurus all the time, and not all of the stories are good. But my Dad saw for himself what Bapu had managed to accomplish. My Dad admires the business man in everyone, but I don’t think he had seen anything on this scale and in such unconventional and humble surroundings, where effectively the Managing Director didn’t reap the profits. He was taken by the way the system ran, and also the ambitions of a holy man to now build a hostel for girls who wished to go to university. Upon spending a few days with him Dad realised that Bapu was not looking for followers or for people to fall at his feet in awe. He was only looking to further educate the people of this world academically and spiritually if they were willing to listen. This is what made Dad and the rest of our family so comfortable. Not being told that this was the correct way of doing things but being allowed the opportunity to decide for ourselves what was right for us.

My Dad was so affected by what Bapu had single-handedly achieved that on the last day of his trip he spoke to Bapu and told him he wished to sponsor the construction of a girls hostel. This would allow 320 girls from not only underprivileged backgrounds, but those from the poorest families to proceed to higher education. Parents could feel comfortable that their daughters are being supported whilst away from their village homes.

My brother went with my mum in summer 2005. Being a typical scientist and although only there for a short while, he too felt that he should be supporting this kind of work.

I do not wish to preach about this holy man and his teachings but just to inform you that such people exist, who help without selfish gain, are not profiteers and are able to guide us into a new spiritual understanding. I know it may sound too good to be true but that is exactly how it has been.

We chose to respond to what we had seen by helping to raise money for much needed projects. However this was not the only aim. We also wanted to work in service of humanity, because to do so makes us realise and raise our consciousness to a greater level. Only then are we able to rise above the nonsense that tends to overtake our lives. The more we do this kind of work, the easier the path to spirituality comes.

You may ask why this charity? The reality is that we should support all real charities doing good work, but regular commitment to one, means directing our energies towards something for the sustainable future. People often donate money to charities and then forget about them when the urgency has passed. Most of us can afford to give a one-off donation but that can only go so far in solving the poverty and deprivation that charities in general are trying to eliminate. We have chosen this charity because we saw where our money was going and how greatly our contribution affected the outcome. You likewise I am sure will want to see the same in any charity you support.

Kiran Kara is a solicitor working in London.

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