One more thing !

A wonderful community!

|| om tat sat ||

A wonderful community !

Passing away of a near one is always heart wrenching. It is even more so, if it is that of one who is younger than you or say the youngest of the family.

As we rushed to meet the bereaved children at a far away place, there were lingering thoughts on that death. Meeting the children did not lessen the grief and for a moment it seemed to overflow, except for the constraint that we were there as elders and we needed to present a coherent braver front . At home the death enveloped silently all-around us making it impossible to search a way to crawl out of that sadness.

Then it happened.

We along with the son of my deceased brother whom we call Babu, were to meet Pujari of the local temple to talk about the ceremonies associated with the cremation etc.

We were to meet outside the temple at a nearby place.

As we waited, the Pujari and another gentleman came and were duly recognized by Babu. The gentleman was from the temple committee. We were quickly introduced and we quickly moved into the conversation. The details of the conversation are not the subject of this piece as much as the spirit of the conversation.

The person accompanying the Pujari was the Chairman of the Temple committee. He said he  knew my brother for the last twenty years. He talked about him and his service to the temple and the community. He said my brother found his calling in the community service. They were doing everything for the family as he was part of the temple family. They made the preferred Temple Pujari available for the intended Pujas.

The tenor of the conversation was not as though they were doing the family any favor. They were not businesslike. They were talking with the children elaborating the details of the cremation ceremony as though they were guiding them through unchartered waters, which is also true. I was a silent listener.

They spoke with sincerity. A sincerity that was visible. Silently listening to them, as they spoke about my brother with words ringing true, filled my eyes with tears.

That sincerity, their sincerity, told me more about the sincerity of my brother selfless service. At that moment I forgot all about the ever present grief at that moment. I was elated in a way difficult to describe. Suffice to say I was proud of my younger brother. After hearing about my brother's community service, I was left with a great feeling of purpose in what he did without fanfare or  without much ado. That was at that moment.

But as things continued to unfold and meeting different members of the community who came to help with food, transport etc there was a subtle change in my perspective. Apart from admiration for my brother there was new strand. My admiration for that community rose.

The arrangements were worked out and we had a gathering for the cremation. At the cremation ceremony the senior member of the community was sitting with Babu virtually guiding him through the steps even as the Pujari was performing the ceremonial rites reciting the mantras. The hall was full with nearly two hundred people. It was as though the whole community was present. Whoever we met talked about my brothers self less service. My brother lived a very simple unostentatious life. That he found his calling in service there was no doubt. But here was a community that recognized his services. And they rose as one in participating in the final rites.

At one level Communities are the bed rock on which lasting friendships are made. In times of tragedies these communities of friends gather to provide exceptional help to the bereaved families which is becoming a pattern. Though there must surely be that component of friendship formed over couple of decades , here it was more about the services rendered.

There are always people working hard with sincerity, helping in community services. People do the services with their own notion of services with or with out fruits. But a community recognizing that, and paying that debt with such sincerity is rare. My admiration for that community, its members rose, rose with no bounds.

As we finished the twelfth day ceremonies, the sadness that enveloped our stay dissolved in the selfless service of my brother and dissolved even more by the sincerity of that community in repaying that debt.

That wonderful community was HTCI , which to me meant as Hindu Temple Community of Indianapolis.

Our humble Pranams for that wonderful community.

||om tat sat||