Service to Mankind is Path to Moksha

 – Sri Ramalinga Adigalar

A rationalist looks at all strange incidents as mere coincidences whereas a theist believes the same to be great miracles. I belong to the second genre. One such miracle happened to me in an encounter with Gnana and Jyothi couple. In one of our evening walks at Lawrence while we were in US, (may be relating our common Dravidian features), Gnana Sekhar exchanged pleasantries with me and my wife and introduced his wife Jyothi. I never thought that we will be enjoying the most delicious Ambur Biryani at their home the very next weekend after meeting them.

Quite often in our lives, we walk with some people for many years in park confining our talks and debates to rising prices or traffic jams. But it is a miracle that we get connected so much to some who we meet accidentally in a train or at a bus stop. Otherwise, how can we find a reason for a book being dedicated to me written by a great poet Sri N.Gopi whom I met accidentally in a short train journey. In our childhood, we also heard stories of marriage alliances being fixed as a sequel to a train journey.

Gnana and Jyothi, the most lovable middle-aged couple, soon became very close to us, and after that we met four or five times. In one of our talks, Gnana told me about his humble beginnings from a remote village near Neyveli. Starting his schooling in a village, Gnana completed his MCA from University of Madras.

He told that while studying Degree he wrote a post card to his father, with only 15 paisa left with him, about the difficult times to continue his education. Gnana after working for a while in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad as an SAP consultant moved to Malaysia and Indonesia. Then, after a brief stint in UK, Gnana along with his wife and two kids moved to Kansas twenty years ago.

Having experienced the vicissitudes and hardships of migration, Gnana and Jyothi started reaching out to people needing any help. I remember Gnana telling me ‘Sir, Parents from India who come to stay with their children in US feel lonely and out of place. Here they have no people to talk. Hence me and Jyothi try to give our company to make them a little comfortable. They offer rides to people whenever they go out. They did not confine this to Indian families.

Jyothi, who is not much educated and cannot speak any language other than Tamil, is a good household name in their community. Gnana told me that she was consoling 80-year-old American lady who recently lost her War Veteran husband by giving her time and company. A woman who doesn’t know any language other than Tamil giving solace to an American! Hearing this, we must believe that “Human language” has no barrier and Kindness can connect people better than any language.


Sathya Gnana Sabha – Vallalar

Jyothi cooks good food and regularly shares with neighbors. After seeing and hearing all this, I was enthusiastic to know more about them. Jyothi got this service mind from her childhood which had seeds in her village Vadalur near Neyveli.

Vadalur, a small village in Cuddalore district and also the birthplace of Jyothi, is very popular in the annals of history due to Ramalinga Adigalar (Vallalar), a saint and successor of Tiruvalluvar, another great poet of Tamil tradition. Ramalinga was a Messenger of peace and compassion. He considered feeding the poor is the highest form of worship. According to him, God is:
“Arut Perun Jyothi
Tani Perun Karunai”

Supreme Light of grace and unique supreme compassion.

Jyothi (Lamp) as Deity

Ramalinga Adigalar also built a temple Satya Gnana Sabha where we find no idol as the Deity but only a Lamp, (indicating Jyothi alone is Gnana). In 1865, he established a poor feeding center. The oven, started by Swami Ramalinga 150 years ago, has never been extinguished and is continuing till date feeding the poor thrice a day. Birds and cows are also fed here every day before Anna Dana. The temple also has a home for the aged.

Jyothi spent her entire childhood in Sathya Gnana Sabha temple doing Parikramas, listening to hymns of Vallalar and watching the poor feeding. This had left an indelible impression on Jyothi which has become part of her daily routine. Now in Lawrence, her cooker whistles 365 days and her wet grinder roars 24*7 assuring uninterrupted supply of Idli and Dosa to friends and needy in their community.

They regularly contribute to the poor feeding in Sathya Gnana Sabha. A few things became very clear to me after seeing the couple.

Traditionally Modern Family of (Lawrence) Kansas

Wealth is immaterial if you have will and intention to help others
Whether it is in US, UK or India, people can live happily with one salary and can also help others if they are contended
Speaking mother tongue, upholding our traditional values is not retrogressive

Jyothi speaks only Tamil and performs pooja every day. Their daughter Priya and son Prasanna completed Masters from Kansas University and settled in good jobs. They are a role model for all parents who gave wings to their children to fly without losing their roots. I firmly believe that our meeting with them is a big miracle that enriched our lives.

(Thanking Gnana and Jyothi family for their affection and for enlightening me with Gnana Jyothi.)

16 Replies to “Vadalur Gnana Jyothi”

  1. Godly souls in human bodies is the way to describe Gnana Jyothi garlu.
    Their story enriched my “Gnanajyothi”
    Harsha Garu, you are a gentle person and you come across persons of similar nature. By having acquaintance with you, we get few “Gnanadeepikalu”
    Thanks for a wonderful account of your chance meeting with GnanaJyothi.

  2. A chance meeting with strangers on foreign land produced an amazing story. Some souls ( not all) just understand each other upon meeting. We believe that such chance meetings are the result of karma. You are blessed to meet godly people. Though many people meet many persons they rarely pen their experiences. Thank you for once again taking through your pen.

  3. It’s a wonderful live & unusual story. Again, it’s Tradition in Modernity with combination of touching humanity.
    The Blogger must have sharing some attitude for appreciating couple having enormous kind & love towards satisfying biological necessity- hunger. Very nice reading!

  4. Beautiful to know such good souls are present in our midst Sir.
    Your blog is truly inspiring and every word is towards a complete, fulfilled life and learning process from such people. Wishes to GnanaJyothi for their selfless service.
    Truly a purpose ful life.

  5. అంతకు ముందు నీవు రాసిన పుస్తకం లో ఇటువంటి వారిని చాలా మందిని పరిచయం చేశావు. నైస్ పీపుల్.

  6. Your write up in English & Telugu is truly amazing sir.

    You will make the content very interesting to the readers in the pace that every reader is comfortable .

    Thank you for introducing the great couple Gnana Jyothi; the live story will be a great inspiration to the young generations;

    We look forward to reading your next blog 😊👌🏻

  7. Sir
    Birds of same feathers flock together. Its destiny we meet certain people which makes everlasting impressions on our thoughts. Jyothi ne idol ga oka place vundani telisindi. Thanks for introducing Gnana and jyothi to us Sir. Indeed its a very great thing that they are serving since 150 years at vadalur.

  8. Certain chance meetings, happenings are indeed destined events and not random occurrences. The whole life can change by such one chance instance. One leads to another and that results in something else, after a series of such sequence of events, the original chance happening may be forgotten. But that, was the start of a journey.

    In fact, my coming across this write up could well start a chain of events.

  9. Gnana Jyothi , hailing from Neyveli , are inspiration to many of living in India or US etc. Their humble upbringing may be is a strong reason for their acts of kindness, overcoming language barriers.

  10. Service to mankind is service to god said Gandhiji. Many of us spent lots of money on visiting temples, doing poojas & jagnas at home but are miserly about helping people. This couples story has to be popularised across .Even I believe in this large world god selects people whom we should meet

  11. It is the greatness of Mr Harsha in mingling with others and not only recognise their good deeds but also mention in his Harsha vanam.

  12. Very moving real life story of a transformed family. Once again it is revealed that you make acquaintance with anyone effortlessly. A memorable experience narrated in an equally effective manner. ….regardsచలం

  13. Dear sir
    It is so inspiring to hear about these saintly people
    You are always blessed to have such acquaintances
    Thank you for showing us that there is another world where we find God shining in their hearts

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