Youth want sincere speakers

Youth want sincere speakers
Highlights

Youth want sincere speakers. Prema Pandurang is a preacher who narrates from the Epics, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures in an interesting way, with a mix of Sanskrit chants, explanations, Hindi bhajans, English language, interspersed with anecdotes and incidents from daily life. She is able to mesmerise and engage the audience in her discourses.

Prema Pandurang is a preacher who narrates from the Epics, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures in an interesting way, with a mix of Sanskrit chants, explanations, Hindi bhajans, English language, interspersed with anecdotes and incidents from daily life. She is able to mesmerise and engage the audience in her discourses. Endowed with a robust voice and a natural flair for English, Premaji (as she is known) is able to communicate well to the young and the old. Profound philosophy sounds so simple and lucid in her words and the discourses are a joy to listen. She is as conversant with the internet and apps as she is with the Puranas and Epics. At Sriperumbudur, Premaji has been running the Kshetropasana Trust since 1987 where an old age home, school and goshala are already functioning.

In this exclusive interview, she dwells on various aspects of spirituality and daily life.
Our great epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana are like beautiful stories for children and treated with reverence by many adults who worship divinity. But, don’t you agree that they teach basic values which are vital for our peace?
Certainly. They are meant for values. Story part is peripheral. Krishna Rama and all the heroes we extol - These are models for behaviour. Each one of them stands for values.
These values are integral to carry our society and nation forward. Yet, people are yet to absorb these values in daily life. How is this situation to be remedied?
Preachers have to make it possible to be understood. Otherwise, they will be only seen in movies. Every story has a moral and we miss the moral. Even the ordinary box office hit has a moral and we miss the moral because we are after hero worshipping. Similarly, we go by the story, and not the inner meaning. That has to be told either through books or through exposition. That is why I relate it to life.
Generally when one goes to a pravachanam it is highly philosophical or didactic. It is difficult to follow. When I sit in your discourses I find them so lucid and so simple to follow and the philosophy just flows in. Is it not difficult to make something so profound so simple?
The intention of the speaker is to communicate and if we don’t communicate we are failures. The common man wants to know what is there in the scriptures and that has to be made simple. The simplicity is not about diluting, it is only bringing the best of the scriptures in a simple form. That is what I heard from Dikshitar (Anantharama Dikshitar, her guru) and great masters. They made philosophy simple. I wanted to pass it on to the audience.
You also make it contemporary...
I am modern. I have had modern education. I read the newspapers every day. I’m updating myself.
Do you think many of the ills of the world are due to the overuse of the mind and ignoring calls of the heart?
Stress is due to thinking – thought can always complicate the situation. If you start feeling, then you can relax. Most of us think that feeling is weakness; feeling is a matter of strength. Only man can feel. Sometimes animals can feel for their master. The way the dog, cat, cow or bird looks at you – feeling is something very important. The heart, as all of us know, is the most important part of our personality and that is where the Lord resides. Nobody says God resides in the mind. Every religion says God resides in the heart.
The number of young people is less than that of senior citizens in most dance recitals, music concerts or discourses. Is this a good augury for the future?
Youth want sincere speakers-they do not want hypocrites. They are looking for role models. I tell my audience you have cricket models, film models. We don’t have spiritual models. There was a time when we had a galaxy of saints. We had Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, Ramana, Kanchi Acharya (Paramcharya). All of them came and they just disappeared. Now we don’t know whom to follow. The youth are still wondering and wandering about where to find a preacher.
Does India’s strength lie in spirituality or religion?
Spirituality! Religion has been abused. Spirituality is the core of Indian culture. We are basically spiritual. There is no doubt about it. We have been branded religious, we have been branded fanatical, fundamentalist etc. It is a trick played by politicians.
What is the reason for the increase in old age homes appearing in different parts of the country? Is it not a contrast to the adage ‘maatru devo bhava pitru devo bhava’?
We are ourselves starting a new old-age home. There are two ways of looking at it. You can say that children are not able to accommodate their elders and sacrifice everything for them. There was a time when men and women were helplessly putting up with their children who were ill treating them because they had no other way. To that extent, at least now the children come and visit them on Diwali day or Pongal day. I am happy about that. Second, many children are far away from their parents and it is unsafe for an old couple to stay alone, particularly for a single person man or woman if the other partner has left the world. We are running a middle class home. Everybody is happy. The inmates are safe and secure.
Is Kshetropasana trust only about spirituality and service or is it also about building self reliance and self confidence in people?
Within the ashram, we have the old age home where people are living with us and there is a Veda Pathashala. We also give modern education. Most importantly, within that rural area we give employment to more than 135 people. That itself makes it a decent place to live.
Are you contemplating any new projects from the Trust?
We are just finishing the old age home. Something which has really affected me is the problem of hunger. We have 93 slums around the ashram and in those slums my target is old people who are just lying neglected. There are pregnant women too. There are so many cases of children and infants dying. Then there are feeding mothers – the mothers themselves are weak. So how can they feed? My desire is to feed at least 10,000 people a day to start with and if God gives me more I want it to be an Akshayapatra there.
What are your views on neglect of environment and animals?
This is something we have made our children aware. There is a Karuna Club where we teach children how to be eco-friendly, how to show concern for animals and ecology. That training is also given to them. It is very important. We have a goshala with 140 cows.
Atrocities against women are also going up day by day...
Yes, I don’t know why. Yet Manu said ‘Where Women are respected Gods are happy.’ I don’t know why women should be ill-treated like this. She is physically helpless, she needs that protection. I think the biological reason works there...Yes, for that to happen the State should provide protection. That’s important.
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