In Conversation With Sudhir Parikh
Sudhir and Niru Parikh along with Uttambhai Patel, Rameshbhai Patel, Jayantibhai Jinwala and Balubhai Patel were instrumental in forming SATSANG as a Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organization. At this time many others including C.K. Shah, Madhubhai Patel , Devchandbhai Patel, Babubhai Patel, Ramanbhai Patel, Rashmibhai Shah ,Pappubhai Jhaveri, Rajiv Parikh and Arvindbhai Patel form a team that made the center a reality and keeps the SATSANG Center in Woburn, MA running.
The center, which is also a temple, has a wide range of activities. All major festivals are celebrated. There is Garba for all days of Navarathri. The Annkut festival draws one of the largest crowds for the temple. Thanks to volunteers such as Ratibhai Patel, the temple is open daily for Aaarthi and attracts a few daily visitors as well.
Sudhirbhai Parikh spoke to Lokvani about his life, this center and his interest in Yoga.
Lokvani: What brought you to America and what made you decide to be part of the core team that created the SATSANG Center?
Sudhirbhai : I came to Oklahoma State University to do my masters in Industrial Engineering. But when I was twenty, I had decided that my mission was to serve the community. I had decided to retire as early as possible to dedicate my life for community service. To me SATSANG is the vehicle of service. With God’s grace I was able to do so. Prior to retirement I was the manufacturing manager of Halogen Light Source for head lamps at Osram Sylvania.
Lokvani: Could you tell us the history of the Center?
Sudhirbhai : It all started with Bhajan -Kirtan. We used to do Bhajan at our home in the 70s. I was very inspired by Guruji Bhramanda Saraswathi in New York and I used to organize programs in connection with his Ashram in New York. Later we decided to bring Morari Bapu for Katha. When we approached him, he asked us to start an organization first before him coming over. That was the beginning of the SATSANG. A few of us became part of the core team. At first we used to rent a church hall and later in 1993 we bought this center. The community supported us and we were able to buy the place with cash.
Lokvani: What is the organization structure of the center?
Sudhirbhai: It runs as a family. We do everything democratically. We have one team that keeps track of the money. We, as a team, decide on the various projects we need to undertake. We work together to take decisions.
Our prayer is always “Mat Bhed Hone Par Bhi Man Bhed Ho Na Paye” – Even if we have a difference of opinion, may we not have a difference of heart.
Lokvani: What are your core activities?
Sudhirbhai: Everyday we have Aarthi . Mon-Fri it is scheduled from 7:00-8:00 p.m. and Sat & Sun it is from 4:00-5:00 p.m. We celebrate all major festivals. We have Garba during Navarathri times. Our special events are attended by over 500 people. We have Yoga Training for all on Saturdays, BalGokulam for youth and dance class on Sundays. Center is available to rent for special occasions like weddings, poojas etc. We also provide catering. All profits of course go to the center.
Lokvani: Do you welcome people outside your core team to come and take part in your activities.
Sudhirbhai: Absolutely. We welcome all suggestions. If people have ideas to do things and will show leadership, we are happy to support them. People are always welcome to come and sing in our programs.
Lokvani: What does the future for the SATSANG look like?
Sudhirbhai: We would like to expand our activities to specially attract youth. We are looking into suitable models for that. We want to also provide more activities for the senior citizens. We are also looking into the possibility of a full time Maharaj or priest for the temple.
Lokvani: What are your other interests?
Sudhirbhai: As you know, I am very fortunate to have my wife Niru support all my dreams & activities. SATSANG is certainly our top priority and has been like that for 20 years. But we are also very interested in promoting Yoga. As you know, there are four Streams of Yoga –Gyana, Karma, Bhakti and Raj. All Yogas are there to help us grow spiritually. The bhajans are form of Bhakti Yoga which is emotion based. Most of us are product of emotions. But the western thinking is very interested in Raj Yoga – the one that deals directly with developing faith through experiment. We are very interested in promoting Yoga Therapy. We provide Yoga Training at the center. We are planning to offer courses that are specific for say knee pain or back pain and so on.
In November we are planning to bring Hira Raten Manek who has discovered the technique of Solarhealing.
Lokvani:You have lived a very inspirational life. What would be the message that you have gathered from your experience to give people?
Sudhirbhai: Well the message is simple. Do whatever you are doing but do it in the Satsang way. Satsang means Selfless work in devotion to Truth and Truth is God!
Lokvani: Thank you for your time.
Sudhirbhai: You are welcome.
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