"The goal of our life’s journey is to spread hope, harmony, humanity, happiness, help, higher conciousness and nobility of thoughts and actions,” say Sanjay and Sangeeta Saxena, founders of Gayatri Parivar in Massachussettes. They provide a variety of Pooja, Yagna, Sanskar and prayer services including wedding, housewarming, Yagnopaveeth to people in the New England Area. They donate money collected for these services to worthy causes both in the United States and in India.
Alum of IIT Roorkee, Sanjay Saxena is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and currently works at Millipore. They spoke to Lokvani about their life and mission.
What is Gayatri Pariwar?
Sanjay : Gayatri Pariwar (fraternity) is an spiritual educational organization for promoting social transformation and moral education by integrating physical life science and spirituality. It was founded by Gurudev Pundit ShriRam Sharma Acharyaji. In the year 1926, at the age of fifteen, his Spiritual Guru (initiator), a great Himalayan Yogi, Sarveshwaranandji appeared in his vision during the worship in the astral form. As per Sarveshwarandji's instruction, Gurudev performed twenty-four lakh times (2.4 million) recitation of Gayatri Mantra each for twenty-four years. He visited Himalayas four times for higher spirit attainments and at the same time took active part in India's freedom movement. On divine guidance of his Guru Sarveshvaranandji, he formulated and materialized Yug Nirman Yojana a mission for resurgence of the individual, family, society and mankind at large. Due to this resurgence, a new era of truth, justice and universal brotherhood based on true Vedantic spirit can be created. Gayatri Pariwar was created to fulfill his vision, it’s a direction rather than an institution.
What is the significance of the Gayatri Mantra? Why must we chant it multiple times?
Sanjay: The Gaythri Mantra is the Universal Prayer enshrined in the Vedas. It is a powerful mantra that can be chanted by any man or woman. Repetition of the mantra helps imprint it in the mind and make it part of your being and can take you to a higher level of consciousness.
When did you join Gayatri Pariwar?
Sanjay: I was born into it. My grandfather was part of the Gayatri Pariwar. I have been inspired by Gurudev since a very young age. My mission in life is to serve the world the way Gurudev wanted us to.
How did an engineering degree fit into your plan for life?
Sanjay: I saw engineering as a means to earn some money so I could take care of my family responsibilities. Even through my time in engineering college I continued to do Yagna and Poojas. I even conducted the wedding of a classmate. IIT Roorkee is strongly influenced by the British Raj. I used to make it a point to wear dhothi kurta and flaunt Indian clothes and the Indian way of life in the campus and often was criticized for it. As a youngster I felt a strong need to emphasize the value of our lifestyle and culture. I still think such grounding is essential for life.
There came a time when I decided to quit my job and decided to move to Shantikunj in Hardware and be very active in the Gayatri Pariwar. It was a move that did not win my father’s approval. They wanted me to get married and live the life of a normal householder. With the consent of Gurudev, I decided to give in to their request and got married. When I met Sangeeta I had no job. I had no house.
How did you meet? Was it through Gayathri Pariwar?
Sangeeta: My introduction to Gayatri Pariwar came only after my marriage to Sanjay. We were married in Shantikunj in a “Mass Marriage” ceremony.
How did you decide to marry such an unusual person? Were you concerned that he had no job? Did “Mass Marriage” shatter some of the dreams girls have of a special wedding.?
Sangeeta: I was very impressed with Sanjay’s ideals of simple living high thinking. I was also inclined to a spiritual way of life. I knew he had a degree from IIT Roorkee and if he needed a job he could get one. Money for me is only a means to an end.
The wedding was not what I expected but it was wonderful. We had over 100,000 guests at our wedding. It was a very simple wedding. It was kind of strange that I was witnessing other weddings while getting married.
Sanjay, what made you choose Sangeeta for a wife?
Sanjay: My Gurumata told me that she would help me in my goals in life. Mataji was more right than I could ever imagine. I was also very honest when I proposed. I had no job, no money and yet she accepted. It was an offer I could not turn down.
How did the trip from Shantikunj to Lexington,MA happen?
Sanjay: Family commitments made me seek a job. It was my goal to quickly settle my responsibilities and go back to Shantikunj. The dollar to rupee exchange rate made it a very interesting proposition for me. So here we are.
How did Gayatri Pariwar , MA get established?
Sanjay: The credit for that must go to Sangeeta. She insisted that despite our busy schedule we must not fail in continuing our work as part of Gaytri Pariwar. I think this has given us more opportunity to provide service in a unique manner. Perhaps this is why I was destined to come here.
What kind of services do you provide?
Sangeeta and I are trained to do any of the Hindu rituals. We make sure that we explain the meaning of the rituals as we perform them. We always explain the meaning of the mantras in English so children can understand. In addition to private functions we also do Yagna’s for the benefit of the community. All services are free. Any voluntary donations help fund a variety of wonderful causes, spiritual and educational both.
It is interesting that Sangeeta, as a woman you officiate at weddings and Yagnas. Is this sanctioned by the scriptures?
Sangeeta: Absolutely . Many of the sages during Vedic times were women. Women empowerment was the most important thing for Gurudev. He insisted that women take on service roles in the world for he feels we are naturally better suited for it. He often said the Kichidi is the best meal for anyone can make it and it frees women from the kitchen to do more things in the world.
What is the significance of Yagna?
Sanjay: Yagya is highly symbolic, it also stands for the following:
•.Just like the fire of Yagya consumes anything that you put in it and makes it one with itself, similarly one should try to uplift people that are fallen and try to help them.
•.The flames of fire always go up, no matter what. Similarly, we should be very strong internally so that when elements like greed, sensual desires etc. try to take over and force you to do something wrong, you should be able to stand them.
•.Fire signifies purity, brightness and energy and we should try to be just like it.
•Finally, Fire turns into ashes. Ashes remind us of death which is the ultimate truth of life. If we remember of our death, we will probably not commit as many sins. For example, when we go on a vacation, we try to have as much fun as possible and try to forget all our differences and focus on having fun because we know that it is only for a short time. Life is no different, it is short and can not be taken for granted. We should try to have fun and not get involved in things that can only get us into trouble and pain.
What advice do you have for Indians in the USA?
Sangeeta: We are residing in an alien culture and it is critical that we give some time each week to celebrate our own culture and heritage. Education is important. We recommend people investing in education and holistic growth for their own children and for others who cannot afford it.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Sanjay: Shatikunj has a wonderful University called “Dev Sanskriti VishwaVidyalaya” and that is central to the transformation that it is bringing about in the world. The Chancellor Dr. Pranav Pandya will be visiting Boston soon. We invite people to come and listen to him.
For more information on Gayatri Pariwar please check out their website at http://gayatri.info