In the first century of the third millennium, India steps into the third decade, 2020-2029, giving least priority for the elders by the government, by the society, and by the family. The care for the elderly in the society is almost the responsibility of the children. In many instances, the children of the elderly are not able to care for their aged parents for one or the other reason: husband and wife working, lack of space in one’s home, financial constraints, decline of joint families, migration to cities and towns which results in limitation of space to accommodate an additional member, domestic issues over having a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law in the same house among others. In such a situation, who would look after the elderly?
A retired engineer in Bengaluru was taken almost forcibly to visit an ashram in Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, when he was a young man, an assistant engineer, almost thirty-five years ago. There he discovered Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950). A ray of spirituality and a beam of philosophy and a light of service to humanity as propounded by Ramana Maharshi started to impact the engineer. In the following years and decades as his voluntary visits to the ashram increased and were consistent, he was overpowered to render service to fellow human beings. Finally, as a service to the society, he sold his private property and established an ashram in the outskirts of Bengaluru for the elderly people under Sri Ramana Maharshi Foundation. In an interview to www.thetelugus.com B. Srinivasa Reddy says the call to establish the ashram is an expression of service to the society: the social face, or the human face of Ramana Mahrashi’s philosophy.
B. Srinivasa Reddy refuses to call his ashram for the elderly people as an ‘old age home’, ostensibly, there is a ring of unpleasantness to it. He refers to it as ‘Home for Elderly’. The ‘Home for Elderly’ was developed in two stages. Today there are 35 single and double rooms, furnished and ventilated, for people in the age group of 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. A couple of years ago, there was a resident named Subba Lakshmi whose 104th birthday was celebrated in the ashram. Srinivasa Reddy recalls, ‘She passed away peacefully, singing a song in praise of Lord Shiva.’
Another inspiring guru for B. Srinivasa Reddy is Rama Krishna Paramahamsa (18 February 1836 – 16 August 1886) the Indian mystic, saint and philosopher: the pathway to moksha is also possible by helping the people who are in need of help. He sees there is need to help elderly people, and he chose this way: a home for elderly. He says in this way, there are no intermediaries to serve the people such as priests and idols. By establishing ‘a home for elderly’ one can serve the people directly, who are in need for a place to stay in a calm, peaceful, and tranquil atmosphere.
On the premises of Sri Ramana Maharshi Foundation, there is also a health centre, a wooden pergola ushering visitors to lawn that represents pancha bhoothas, saptharishis, navagrahas, and meditation hall. The 75-year-old Srinivasa says the foundation is planning to start an orphanage, and he wishes to dedicate his life to care for the ashram. He wishes, he could live like his father who left his body after completing 108 years, and develop this ashram as full-fledged institution in service of people who need a place.
For more information about the ashram, and if you want to associate in one of its activities, please check: http://ramanamaharshifoundation.org/