Tuesday, April 12, 2016


(pancha is five in samskritam; amritam is nectar)
Amavaasya / Kali Yugabda 5117 / Manmatha Panguni 25 (April 7, 2016)


26 infants were evacuated safely after a fire broke out at a district general hospital in Kalaburagi (Karnataka, Bharat) March 23, 2016. The fire was triggered by a short-circuit in an air-conditioner in the infants emergency ward (NICU) of the district hospital. Thanks to presence of mind shown by employees at the hospital, no lives were lost. One of the hospital employees, Fakirappa, immediately broke open the glass door and windows with his bare hands, and with the support of nurses, parents, and other people present, immediately brought all the 26 newborn infants out of the emergency ward. The children would have otherwise faced high risk of getting suffocated. The incident took place during the lunch break, it is said. The presence of mind of the two male nurses and a medical attendant in the Dental wing in the hospital saved the day for the authorities. The trio did not wait for instructions, rushed to the ward and started breaking the windows in the air-tight NICU ward, allowing the smoke, which had engulfed the room to escape and saved the lives of the infants. (Based on media reports including one by THE HINDU, March 24, 2016).

I tried making sense of it (RSS role) walking the familiar old Brahmaputra promenade, the river on the left and on the right the zone that formed the epicentre of the Assam movement. I retraced my steps to the tiny Shukreshwar Temple astride the embankment. Like other reporters then, I would climb these steps often to meet a single man with a mysterious half-smile. Kumud Narayan Sarma, whose family had hereditary control of the temple, was dean of the law faculty at Gauhati University (Assam, Bharat) and lived in its one-room outhouse. His fame came not from his scholarship but from the power of his favourite “students”, the leaders of AASU, to whom he was formally an advisor. Everybody agreed there was something intriguing about AASU’s key interlocutor, who left Home Minister Zail Singh infuriated with his talk-talk/fight-fight approach. I could never say so conclusively, but there was much to him that suggested a deep RSS connection, beginning with his utterly spartan lifestyle in the compound of his little old temple, and the understated suppleness with which he handled his enormous power. He, along with his wards, was also incorruptible, which Zail Singh and his spooks complained about most of all. From a column by Shri Shekhar Gupta in BUSINESS STANDARD April 8, 2016 (http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/shekhar-gupta-assam-s-35-year-saffronisation-116040800961_1.html).


Meet Shri Natarajan, a retired bank official. Unlike most retirees, he travels 50 kilometres to attend to  his ‘Samajam’ work early in the day. Probably ‘Chennapuri Annadaana Samajam’ is the only organisation in India involved uninterruptedly for over 125 years in annadaanam. Mugalur Kannaiya Chetty born in a poor family in 1863 was saddened at the sight of numerous people starving as he walked to his school. After he was employed, he set aside four ‘annas’ (25 paise) from his first salary. Some of his colleagues too pitched in with contributions ranging from quarter of an anna to one anna and it all added up to three rupees. He deposited the amount with a hotel owner with a request to provide one time meal for 12 adults and 6 kids among the poor for one month – preference was to be shown to the disabled and the blind. The first meal was served on March 11, 1889.  Later Kannaiya Chetty arranged for twice a day feeding. In the course of one year, the number of beneficiaries grew to 300. A philanthropist by name Krishnadas donated his two storey building on Nainiappa Naicken Street in Park Town of Chennai (Tamilnadu, Bharat) for those poor to sit and take food. It is this building that witnessed the annadaanam for over 125 years. When Swami Vivekananda visited Chennai, he said that it was the place where he must have his food. He came to the samajam, sat with the poor, partook of the meal served there and blessed the Samajam team. Shri Udayshankar, the present secretary of the Samajam, is a retired bank official like Natarajan (Mobile: 9884186834.), one of the directors there. (Based on a report by Shri L. Murugaraj in DINAMALAR, September 9, 2015).


In 2008, a farmer in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra committed suicide. He was survived by his wife, four children, and his very old father. Three of the four children were girls. The eldest daughter, Deepa, was 14 at the time. Sapna was 11, and Swati was about 7 years old. The family was thoroughly shaken by their loss. Today, Deepa is 22 years old and is working in a hospital after finishing her diploma in nursing. Sapna recently completed the same and Swati is in the second year of a BSc Yoga Education course in Bengaluru. They are educated, confident, and completely aware of how they want to plan their futures. The one person who made it all possible for them is Shri Ajeet Saxena, who is currently posted as the Chief Commercial Manager of Southern Railways in Chennai (Tamilnadu, Bharat) – a man who refers to these three girls and 200 other children from the region as his own.   He took 10 days of leave from work and headed to Vidarbha. There, with the help of some volunteers of the Sarvodaya Movement in Sevagram village, he met 29 families of farmers in about 15 villages.  “After seeing these girls for the first time, I sat inside their hut and cried, thinking of what would happen to them. They had nothing to look forward to,” he says. Ajeet returned to Chennai after giving the farmers his phone number and asking them to call him in case they felt depressed. Being a regular speaker on spirituality, he addressed many people in a Rotary Club in Chennai, a few days after he returned. Many came forward asking what they could do to help. He opened bank accounts in the villages for some of these children (Based on a report by Smt Tanaya Singh in http://www.thebetterindia.com/50248/ajeet-saxena,  April 4, 2016).


Today, Srikanth Bolla is the CEO of Hyderabad-based Bollant Industries, a company with a turnover of around Rs 10 crore that employs uneducated and physically challenged people to manufacture eco-friendly, disposable consumer packaging solutions out of natural leaf and recycled paper. 24 years ago Bolla was born sightless in a remote village (Andhra Pradesh, Bharat). In 2012, after graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he launched Bollant Industries. The company now has around 450 employees, 60 per cent of whom are differently-abled. Life, he says, has taught him many lessons. Compassion is one of them. “Compassion,” he says, “is not about giving a coin to a beggar at the traffic signal. It’s showing somebody the way to live and giving them the opportunity to thrive.” The world looked at him and said you can do nothing, says Bolla. “But I look up at the world and say I can do anything." (Based on a report by Shri T E Narasimhan and Shri Gireesh Babu  in BUSINESS STANDARD, April 2, 2016).

If you want your friend or someone to receive PANCHAAMRITAM in the inbox regularly, please ask the person to send an email to

It is FREE!