The members of Dignity Foundation were taken on a spiritual journey by swami Atmajnanandaji maharaj of Ramakrishna Mission on the occasion of 17th anniversary of Dignity Dialogue, on 29th March at Chinmaya Heritage Centre in Chennai. His one hour lucid presentation on the theme ‘Being Old and wanted’ was liberally interspersed with very interesting quotations from our scriptures and the Swamiji explained the significance of each one of them for easy comprehension of the audience.
Society and social conditions are changing fast these days and we have new problems facing humans, the Swamiji said. However we have the solutions within ourselves if we only care to resolve the issues. We must learn to age gracefully, be a source of wisdom and joy to the newer generation so that they need us. That will be possible if we have taken care to imbibe values in our younger days. The fruit is in the seed and the flower is sought after by the bees for its nectar.
Talking about the different stages of life one goes through, he said, being born, we have to pass through the process of growth, decay and death. That is the way of Nature but we need not be slaves of nature, he stressed. We have the potential to become masters of ourselves and nature by realizing the inner core of our existence which is Satchidananda—pure Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. The Bhagavad Gita says that you are your best friend and you are your worst foe if you do not strive to become better. It is important that we learn from the lessons that life teaches us so that we can be happy within and spread that joy to others. We must find security in our inner self, be contended within and that alone can give us peace.
Just as we throw away our used garments so also we discard our bodies and take new ones so as to evolve spiritually. Hinduism says that one needs to evolve spiritually till you realize that you are one with God. We need not be afraid of our mistakes. We make mistakes but we have the intelligence to undo them, to right the wrongs unlike lesser beings which do not have that capacity. ‘Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Let us be willing to learn from our mistakes. Sri Ramakrishna would say, ‘As long as I live so long do I learn’, he stated.
He concluded his address by saying one need not fear death and cited the story of Nachiketa from the Katha Upanishad in this context . Nachiketa inspires us to be kind to all creatures, to respect one’s parents, to be strong willed to do something one has decided, even in the face of difficulties and obstacles and to seek for eternal happiness.
The evening’s celebrations commenced with the playing of Voice of Dignity Anthem. Mr.Radhakrishnan, Director, Dignity Foundation delivered the welcome address and outlined the activities of the Foundation ‘s Chennai Chapter which started in 2002 with an enrolment of 60 senior citizens as members. It had offered two services at that time and now after a decade, the membership has grown to 500 and the services to 14. He elaborated on the Dementia Care Centre for Dementia patients at Palavakkam which constituted one of the services of the Foundation. I t started in 2009 with the goal of offering customised, individual-specific, personalised care to men and women afflicted with Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is a variant. A daycare centre was set up in the old office of the Foundation at Vishranthi Nilayam in Palavakkam. A selective set of mind games and psychometric tests are also undertaken periodically to understand the stage of the disease. Core committee members are involved in running the centre with the help of professionally qualified fulltime Social worker and well trained volunteers. A bus donated by Chaithanya Builders is sent to the homes of the dementia members to collect them and drop them back, after nearly 7 hours of care at the centre. Later Mr.Radhakrishnan briefly traced the growth of the magazine, Dignity Dialogue, stating that it started with a circulation of 500 copies and has reached over 10,000 in a span of 17 years which according to him was really a mile stone in the march of progress for a magazine which has strived to reach out to the senior citizens of our country to articulate their cause.
Following his welcome speech the audience were treated to a beautiful Editorial presentation of the beginning and growth of the magazine where achievers from various fields featured on its cover pages.
Then it was the turn of celebrities who though hailed from different fields but had something in common —i.e. their association with Dignity Dialogue as contributors, to be honoured by the seven celebrity invitees who donned the stage : M/S Natyachara Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan, Padmasri Dr.Vyjayanthimala, Mrs.Savithri Vaithi- founder chairperson of VishranthiOld Age Home, Mr. M.B.Nirmal –Founder, Exnora International, Social Activist, Mr.Vidyakar of Udavam Karangal and Mr.K.P.Balakrishnan—dedicated self made entrepreneur .
Detailed profiles of celebrity invitees
Savithri Vaithi: Founder and Chairperson, Vishranthi, at Palavakkam. She has been so for more than three decades when she began the old age home for woman whom she found abandoned in public places. She began serving them very early in life and has eventually dedicated her entire life for their cause.
Savithri’s untiring service has won her about 35 awards, including the Valuable Age Care Services by HelpAgeIndia, Jawaharlal Nehru Award and Annai Teresa Social Service Award
V P Dhananjayan
Naatyaachaaryas- shanta & V.P Dhananjayan are phenomena in the field of Bharathanaatyam.
Deservedly, they have both been bestowed the prestigious padma bhushan for their outstanding contribution in this sphere.
Bharatakalaanjali, the institution they founded in 1968, has moulded countless artists.
The padma bhushan crowns a number of awards they have won over the years- The Sangeet Natak Akademi award, chooda mani of sri krishn gana saba, world peace award form chinmoy foundation of USA to name a few.
Dr.Vyjayantimala Bali born in South India, she hails from a conservative family, but one of distinguished scholarship and one that has patronized the traditional and classical art of the Thanjavur style.
She played the most covetous leading roles in a series of popular films, NAGIN, NEW DELHI, MADHUMATI, GANGA JAMUNA, SANGAM, SADHANA, and AMRAPALI were some of the memorable hits. She became a household name in India and still continues to be one.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION:
In recognition of her talents and her contribution to the tradition of classical dance, various honors have been conferred on her such as ‘NRITYA SIROMANI’, ‘NATYAKALA SIKAMANI’, ‘NRITYA NURUPAMA VISHARADE’.
Recipient of the Film fare Award for Best Actress for the film SADHNA, Sangam
The title of PADMASHRI was conferred upon her by the President of India.
Recipient of “WOMAN of THE YEAR” representing India 2008 for outstanding contributions to Country as recognized by the American Biographical Institute.
And many more…………
Mr. M B NIRMAL, Founder, Exnore International who is a globally known Motivator, Innovator, Trainer, Change-Maker, Mind Programmer, Humorist, Orator, Writer, Environmentalist, Social Reformer, Social-Activist & Social worker.
He conceptualized Waste Management for the first time. The revolutionary concepts & innovations are: Solid & Liquid Waste Management at various levels and Fish Cart Magic.
Environmental Leadership Award
Star ofIndia Award
Best Environmental Service Organization. Presented by Honorable Minister for Environment and many more;………
Vidhyakaar of Udavum Karangal, the emulator of Mother Theresa, and the founder of a dozens of homes such as Adaikalam, Shishu Bhavan, Shantivanam, Sumaithangi, BalamithraKarunalayam..the quintessence rescuer of abandoned human beings in the city of Chennai. He said: “everyone has the opportunity to serve but few make use of it”
- International Award for Most Outstanding Voluntary Organization inIndia-Matsushita,Japan1992
- Rising Personality of the Century – Penguin Publications.
- Bharat Excellence Award – Friendship Forum ofIndia-Delhi
- Award for Best Social Service Institution 2002- Government of Tamilnad
- Citation honoring Udavum Karangal – Governor,CommonwealthofPennsylvania.
- Award for Best Social Worker 2004 – Government of Tamilnadu
- Citation for services provided for the Tsunami Victims – Denver Sister Cities 2005
Mr. M.P Balakrishnan, founder of Bala Tourist Service proves that one doesn’t need a business school degree to be successful in life.
When you start life as a waiter, room boy and driver you don’t expect to end up a millionaire. Mr. M. P Balakrishanan not only expected it, he left no stone unturned to get there.
Hard work, dedication, punctuality and client services are his success mantras.