Ved-Putras and Acharyas bade us a fond good-bye after breakfast and we took off to the Siruvani CORD facility.
We met Dr. Meera Krishnan, who is the CORD coordinator there and her staff. We were impressed by their efficiency and what they have accomplished in a short time through medical facility, self-help-groups and empowerment programs.
They were quite adept in making handicraft items and pain balms. One successful ongoing project consists of teaching the residents to make paper bags out of used newspaper (among other products) to sell in the local stores, which helps reduce the use of and associated pollution issues of plastic bags. Dr. Krishnan, a gynecologist by training, has trained a team of dedicated health care workers who have been conducting screening exams coupled with education in hygiene and sanitation. CORD has helped the people it serves to construct toilets with their own involvement leading to improved habits and a fundamental change in their lives.
Next stop: CIF.
Established in 1989, Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF), is a research centre for advanced study in Sanskrit and Indology. It is a cross-cultural forum for the exchange of knowledge. Swami Chinmayananda visualized CIF as a bridge between the East and the West, past and present, science and spirituality, and the pundit and the public.
CIF is located at the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya at Veliyanad in Kerala, which is about 30 km from the city of Ernakulam. Originally known as the Melpazhur Mana, and named by Pujya Gurudev as Adi Sankara Nilayam, this is the home of Aryamba, the holy mother of Sri Sankara.
We were given a conducted tour by Mr. K.K. Rajan. The emotions we experienced while standing in the birth room of Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya with Pujya Guruji is very hard to explain.
In the evening, there was “Chuttuvilakku” and “Melam”. The “Chuttuvilakku” is the special pooja where the small lamps around the temple are individually lit by devotees in the name of the sponsor of the pooja. The first lamp was lit by Guruji. The temple and its premises glowed beautifully with from all the lamps lit. The “Melam”, with its intoxicating tune, soon overcame all the participants, and they all began dancing along to the beat.
After the special pooja was finished at the temple, we participated in the Gurudev Paduka Pooja and dinner. Guruji introduced the patrons and Acharyas of CIF.
Pujya Guruji narrated the little-known story of Father Anthony Ilanjimittam (Isha Bodhananda). Once, when he met Pujya Gurudev, Gurudev had suggested that he do something for CIF. The Father then forgot all about it and was not aware that Gurudev had attained Mahasamadhi. One day, well after Gurudev’s passing, he was reminded of this during his meditation and he came to meet Guruji. He described that he felt that a Mahatma had made a suggestion to him and he had not carried it out. He then made Rs. 10 lakhs donation and later gave even more. One of the residential blocks at CIF is named in Fr. IIlajimittam’s honor. It was quite inspiring to hear about Isha Bodhananda’s story.