Panvel: The International Society of Krishna Consciousness, Kharghar in Panvel, Shri Bhagawati Sai Sansthan, Panvel, Sanathan Sanstha and Shri Sathya Sai Central Trust have taken recourse to online worship, preaching and service in a big way, in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. The churches too have resorted to online mass on a very large scale. However, Muslims offer Namaz in their homes and Sikh priests are doing Ardaas in the Gurudwaras for the community, who offer prayers individually in their homes.
While COVID 19 has certainly altered the worship mode of all religions, the unity of Godhood is evident in the fact that all places of worship, without any discrimination were compelled to close its doors for devotees at the same time, stresses Shahid Khan, a You Tube journalist based in Ulwe, here.
R.J. Rathnakar, managing trustee of Shri Sathya Sai Central Trust, termed the present crisis as a great equalizer of humanity. He blames ‘human beings for taking things for granted, when we are only tenants on the planet that belongs to God, which we are duty-bound to keep it as it was given to us.’ Referring to a social media message, where a son informs about his father who breathed the fresh air free of cost for 73 years and is now hospitalized and paying US$ 5000 daily for the same air, he remarked that ‘we never thought we will see such a situation in the 21st century. It is a wake-up call from God. We have to reflect on it, we have to introspect. Only divine love will protect.’
Padma Bhushan awardee, Late Satya Narayan Goenka, a Burmese-Indian teacher of the Vipassana Meditation, expressed at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations on August 29, 2000, that Religion is only Religion when it Unites Humanity. He advocated conversions, not conversion from one organized religion to other organized religion, but, conversion from misery to happiness, bondage to liberation, cruelty to compassion, which meant from impurity to purity of mind. He called it a science, not a miracle, that an observing mind understands the law of nature that when you generate negativity you become miserable and when you generate positivity, you attain peace and happiness.
Sadguru Shri Sai Narayan Baba, founder saint of Shri Bhagawati Sai Sansthan, Panvel referred to the generation of the very same positivity in his appeal to his devotees to follow the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to unitedly light the lamp for 9 minutes as a nation. This 86-years young seer continues to keep his devotees engaged in spiritual bliss everyday through his online satsangh from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., which the Baba refers to as a spiritual shield that protects his devotees. Shri Sai Narayan Baba’s untiring efforts to spread the life and teachings of Shri Saibaba of Shirdi, is reflected in the SBS Sansthan’s services to the poor and needy in the community. Even during the lockdown, one month’s ration that included rice, flour, pulses, oil, tea, sugar and salt were distributed to 140 needy widows and destitute women, by strictly maintaining social distance, masks and sanitizers for police personnel, food packets to 300 municipal workers and other needy people, apart from a contribution of Rs. 11 lakhs to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
Shri Govind R. Dabholkar (Hemadpant), author of Shri Sai Satcharitha, who was blessed to serve Saibaba of Shirdi in his lifetime from 1910 to 1918, in verse 10, chapter 45 of the holy book of Sai devotees states, ‘……. The concentration that the mind gains on listening to His stories, the peace emerging therefrom, cannot be described in mere words.’ Devotees listening to the stories in the online satsanghs have the same experience and eagerly await the satsangh the following day, demolishing the negative effects of the lockdown.
R. J. Rathnakar, who was one of the 15 to 16 social organizations invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a video conference meeting for alleviating the woes of the COVID 19 crisis, announced, on behalf of the SSS Central Trust, renowned worldwide for its service and humanitarian activities, an assistance of nearly Rs. 12-15 crores, that included Rs. 5 crores to the PM-CARES Fund, Rs. 5 crores to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, as also started a quarantine and isolation centre at the trust’s hospital and provided huge quantities of sanitizers, rubber gloves, masks, ventilators, etc. Thus, becoming a part of the solution in this medical emergency. Thanking Bhagwan Sathya Sai for creating a platform to participate in this Sadhana of a divine cause, Rathankar stated that the Trust was keen to welcome all the devotees at the Sai Kulwant Hall at the Trust’s headquarters in Puttaparthi after this crisis is over to sing His glories at the feet of Swamiji Shri Satya Sai.
Sanathan Sanstha, committed to teaching spirituality comprehensively, conducts daily, online Naam-japa satsangh (10.30 a.m. to 11.15 a.m. which is repeated from 4 p.m. to 4.45 p.m.), Bal Sanskar Class (from 11.15 a.m. to 12 noon), Bhavsatsangh (from 2.30 p.m. to 3.15 p.m.) and Dharmasamvad – Adhyatma vishesh (from 6 p.m. to 6.45 p.m., which is repeated from 10 p.m. to 10.45 p.m.). Vijay Bhor, a journalist and active member of the Sansthan stressed that the online satsanghs for every member of the family through the day keeps the positivity in the home vibrant during the lockdown, warding off fear and anxiety through being focussed on Godliness – the right way to think, the right way to perform daily activities and duties and the right behaviour with fellow beings.
ISKCON Kharghar is conducting the online discourse on Shrimad Bhagavatam, every day from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to usher in spiritual auspiciousness, by listening to 100 stories at the outset, followed by reading and studying and then contemplating on the same and adding devotion to it and be elevated to eternal bliss – Krishna consciousness.
Most of the devotees of spiritual organizations are fortunate to have access to the discourse, teachings, messages of the spiritual masters on social media like You Tube, particularly Sathya Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Chinmaya Mission’s Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Tejomayananda and Swami Swaroopananda, Swami Avdeshanand Giri Maharaj, Anandmurti Gurumaa, Swami Sukhabodhananda of Prasanna Trust, ISKCON’s Surdas Prabhu, Sant Rajindar Singhji Maharaj of the Science of Spirituality – Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission, Murari Bapu, Brahma Kumari Shivani and a galaxy of other enlightened Gurus, Acharyas and Masters. The lockdown has truly facilitated the reconnect and deeper indulgence of the devotees with their beloved Teachers.
Dr. Elis Jaykar, general secretary of the National Christian Council and publisher of a privately circulated newspaper ‘The Christian Observer’ informed that All the churches have closed and everyone was attending the Sunday mass, online, which has seen a spurt on You Tube after the lockdown, with several pastors and brothers conducting the online mass. He also informed that this was the most auspicious week for Christians the world over as last Sunday was the Palm Sunday, coming Friday is Good Friday, the day of Jesus’s crucifixion and coming Sunday is Easter, the day of Jesus’s resurrection, and there will be no public church services for the first time ever.
M.S. Randhawa, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Gurudwaras of Navi Mumbai and Panvel, informed that only a priest did Ardaas (prayers) for all the people, who had to pray in their homes only. Even the bhandara (free feeding) has stopped completely, except at some places as per requirement, like circus artistes and workers in Vashi were stranded without food due to the sudden lockdown and so also some drivers of vehicles on long routes, who were served by Gurudwara sevadars by maintaining social distance, Randhawa added.
This is also an auspicious week for the Muslims worldwide as Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, referred to as Shab-e-Baraat falls during this week and is celebrated on April 8 this year by the Dawoodi Bohras and on April 10 by the other Muslims. ‘Since all the mosques have been shut down, the Muslims do their Namaaz (prayers) at home, which is not much of a disruption for them. The Dawoodi Bohras have started listening to an online discourse by their spiritual head, which is termed as ‘majalis’ for about half an hour every day’, informed Nafisa Colombowalla, a social activist hailing from the community. A special discourse of His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (R.A.), the 52nd Dai of Dawoodi Bohra followers, was aired on the eve of Shab-e-Baraat on April 7, informed Hutaib Adib of Hutaibs Bakes and Scoobs in Kharghar.
Acuhealer Mariyam Taizoon Mithi of Kharghar, informs that by the Grace of the present head of the Dawoodi Bohra community His Holiness Dr. Syedna Aaliqadar Mufaddal Saifuddin (T.U.S.), the 53rd Dai of Dawoodi Bohra followers, food packets are distributed to the needy community people by the special people called B.G.M. (Burhani Guards Mumbai), who include M. Huzaifabhai Gittham, M. Firozbhai Shikora, Yusufbhai Kapadia, Moizbhai Cycle and many more. However, since the kitchens are non-functional due to the lockdown, packets of rice, flour, sugar, oil, pulses, spices and tea are delivered at the homes of the needy in the community, informed Hutaib Adib. He further informed that the youth brigade of the Thane Jamaat of Dawoodi Bohras will be providing tea and snacks to the police personnel and traffic police in Thane on the Prophet’s birthday. Ismail Malwawala of Matheran Jamaat informed that the Matheran Jamaat will also distribute tea, snacks and sanitizers and masks to police personnel in Matheran on Prophet Mohammad’s birth anniversary.
H.H. Dr. Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin deposited Rs. 53 crores in the PM’s Relief fund and urged people to stay at home and spend productive time in prayers. H.H. made every house a mosque for his followers. The lockdown has certainly scaled up prayer time at home and spiritual listening online, acknowledged Mariyam Taizoon Mithi.