“Money cannot give satisfaction because there is nothing called enough money. Besides there has to be a meaning to one’s life; that meaning becomes greater if it encompasses the purpose of giving,” begins the conversation Gayathre Rajam, an athlete, yoga expert, social acitvist and philanthropist based in Chennai. Gayathre has been into sports even as a child representing Tamil Nadu for hockey, tennis and swimming during her college days and took to golf later.
She married Srinath Rajam and the couple started their own golf glove manufacturing company in 1991 that had almost 1000 women workers. But corporate life seemed mundane to her. In 2006, she joined the yoga teachers training course in Krishnamachari Yoga Mandiram and started teaching yoga. A workaholic, she conducted 5 classes at a stretch every single day with almost 80 students learning from her.
But year 2011, was a turning point in her life. She met Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati Swami in a flight journey on her return from Coimbatore. Gayathre recollects, “Swamiji was in a wheel chair and kept looking at me. I went up to him and paid my respect. I somehow felt that he wanted to tell me something. So I found where he would be rendering his lecture next and went to attend his talk and sat next to him. At the end of the lecture, he held my hands and said that he recognised me at the airport and asked me come to Anaikatti.”
The immediate weekend that followed, Gayathre went to Anaikatti and spent time with Swamiji listening to his words of wisdom, attending his classes and observing all that Anaikatti had to offer her. At the end of the three days, she asked him, “What do you want me to do Swamiji?” He answered it in a simple short sentence. “I would like you to spread my teaching.” Since then she has gifted and sold 150 sets of Bhagavat Gita – home study books and distributed Swamijis books on Vedanta and has made readings from the Gita a part of her yoga classes. Her recent endeavour include hosting fundraisers for AIM for Seva.
Like many, Gayathre had no idea of Vedanta or Upanishad teaching until she met Swamiji. “The first questions I asked him was – why do I need to go to temples? Why do I need to pray?” She continues, “But once I was introduced to Vedanta, and began to follow his instructions carefully. With Vedanta once you put your hand forward, it holds and binds you tight such that it never leaves you thereafter.”
She continues with a smile and enthusiasm. “He asked me to read the Bhagavat Gita home study series, the Mundaka Upanishad, Keno Upanishad, Taittiriiya and then the Brahmasutra. I followed diligently. I am now reading the second volume of Taittiriiya.”
Swamiji wanted Gayathre to involve herself with the works of AIM for Seva. But she wasn’t sure how she could be of help. One day when she was cleaning her cupboard, she found many clothes that could be given to others who might be happy to wear. I called a few of my friends and celebrities in the social circle and asked them if they had clothes that they wouldn’t mind to part with. And most of them were eager because it was for a cause.”
She then organized a sale in her house to sell the gently worn clothes and other accessories and publicized the event through various social media platforms. Clothes in her sale included brands like Mango, Zara, Forever 21, Priya Paul, Ralph Lauren and alike. Talking about how she encouraged others to buy, Gayathree says, “I wore a dress or a saree from the sale every day during the sale to inspire them to buy. Chennai has a large heart and they were willing to contribute to society.” Gayathre has organized six such sales so far. The devotee plans to increase the number of sales to 3 times a year. She has conducted a couple of duathlons for collecting money for AIM for SEVA where she distributed Swamiji’s books to all 500 participants.
Gayathre also conducted a Vedanta retreat recently in Chennai where she arranged for screening the video talks of Swamiji to expose the participants to his guided meditation CDs. A serious meditator, Gayathre has made meditation a way of living. She wakes up at 3 am in the morning to read the Vedanta and meditates from 4.30 – 6 am after which she begins her day with yoga class and pooja. By mid day she is again found deep into reading or chanting the verses from the texts. After her afternoon rest, she spends time with her family in the evenings and keeps aside sometime for cycling while listening to Swamiji’s talks. In the night before she sleeps, she spends an hour of deep meditation. In addition to her active participation, Gayathre travels with Swamiji’s books and has a dedicated Facebook Page where she extracts verses from his books and shares it with people.
“I experience true happiness. A oneness with Isvara. I feel Swamiji is around me. I want to give back to the society. I feel happy when my events are well received but the very next day I become restless thinking how I could do more; I ponder how I can spread more and give myself more for SEVA. Swamiji has inculcated a giving personality in me. I have earned people’s trust. I really hope to do more service in future,” she says as she concludes.