"Spirituality and Service go hand in hand. Yoga makes you personally perfect and socially useful."
"Be human. Forget these labels of Indian, Pakistani, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Identify yourself as human. Universal brotherhood and sisterhood are the foundations of love."
- Narendra Kumar (my Grandfather) February 8, 1920 - December 2, 2016
My Grandfather, Narendra Kumar, who I call "Bapuji," has passed on. He is my hero. A living example of a Yogi.
When Bapuji was ten years old, he left his home in a small town in Central India with a few rupees in his pocket. He was determined to go to school as opposed to working at his father's store. He put himself through school, learned yoga, was a freedom fighter for Gandhiji. He became principal of high schools in central India, traveled through Africa teaching Vedic philosophy, brought educational radio and t.v. to India, got married, had four daughters, did his masters in Education in London. In the late 1960s, a group of American educators who were visiting New Delhi met Bapuji and invited him to work for the Washington County Board of Education in the U.S. Bapuji moved to the U.S. in 1968. He brought my mom to the U.S. when she was 20 years old and she did her masters in Pennsylvania. He is the reason my family lives in the U.S.
Bapuji eventually started working for the United Nations, and took my mom to live in Jordan for one year. He lived in several different countries. He lived a rich life. Whatever was going on in his work, travels, life, Bapuji practiced yoga each morning. He took care of his health, cultivated energy each morning to spend the rest of his day in service.
When Bapuji was fighting for India's Independence in the 1940s, he heard Gandhiji speak. Gandhiji said to my young Grandfather, "When you are older, go to the villages of India and help from the ground up." When my Grandfather was 65, he moved to Khaknar, a tribal village in central India, bought land, built two schools, a hospital, a community center and wells. He held workshops in literacy, farming, sanitation and women's participation in village governments. Everyone in the village called him "Dadaji," which means Grandfather.
I saw Bapuji last February when I visited him in Khaknar. Some of my favorite memories are sitting with him outside of his home under starlit skies talking about the Gita, philosophy, world leaders, life. When I saw him last, I asked him what message he has for his Grandchildren. "Be human," he said. "Forget these labels of Indian, Pakistani, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Identify yourself as human. Universal brotherhood and sisterhood are the foundations of love."
Bapuji lived to be 96 years old. May his soul be in peace. Thank you for your prayers during this time of transition. Thank you for your presence in our lives. Thank you, Bapuji, for being. May your deathless spirit experience infinite freedom and bliss.