Bodhinatha and Palaniswami are in Singapore today. Palaniswami put together a few tales from their time in Delhi.
“Rajiv Malik, (3rd from right) our Hinduism Today correspondent in Delhi who single-handedly managed the entire Delhi events for us and drove us bravely through traffic, invited us to dinner at his new home. His father, center, worked for India’s independence, son Pulkit is in college, daughter Palik (not shown) had an editing deadline and wife, Dolly, made the most scrumptious dinner.
Jai to Our Beloved Gurudeva!
Sitting on our plane in Delhi, getting ready for the five hour flight to Singapore. Not to say that security in India is different than elsewhere, but here is what happened the last twenty minutes.
Entered the new and very modern airport. Heavily armed guards at the gate grill us, “Sivasiva. That’s your name? You’re a Hindu? Me too. What about Palani Hills temple? Like it? I like Palani. Chidambaram? Rameshwaram? Trichy? Madurai Meenakshi?” followed by a catalog of most major Southern temples. All before we could walk into the terminal.
Next we check our luggage in. The agent says, “Swamiji, let me help. I will give you four seats and block the row so you have a nice flight to Singapore.”
Next through immigration. The two officers talking: “Look. Swamijis have come. We are blessed today. We are blessed to start the day seeing two swamijis. Where are you from? This is a good day. What a grand day it is going to be.”
Next at the gate, two armed security guards approach. “Please, have a seat.” They are official, figure they want to informally interrogate me. Not. “You are a swamiji? You have realized something in this life? Not me. Maybe another time. I hand them both a single rudraksha. He kisses it and puts it away. “Oh, you worship Siva? I worship Siva. Siva is my God. I chant Namasivaya.” Pulls out the Rudraksha and kisses it twice again. “Was the bead born with the hole or did you make it? I’m Ram. I want to go to Kailash and Mansarovar. Singhji here loves Siva. Is there a second bead for him?” Ram follows us to the gate, a ten minute walk. We begin to board, Ram runs up, “This is my friend, Jairam. He worships Siva. Is there a bead for him?”
We leave, hearing Ram tell his friend, “They planted the tree that born this bead in Hawaii.”
OK, maybe airport security is different in India.
Stepping back to the presentation of our new film….
This is the entrance to the famed Delhi Akshara Theatre. The Shetty/Sharma family that runs the theater are the ones who produced the film “God, Soul & World” taken from our “What Is Hinduism?” book.
We are here for the world premier screening of the film. It’s a small world, and so the theatre is also small, just 100 seats.
Ajay Shetty and wife Anasuya greet us and give a tour of the historic building.
Ajay explains that this building is among the oldest in the city and once served as the quarters for a team of architects who redesigned the city.
Jalabala Sharman, acclaimed actress of the 60s and 70s, invites us to her aerie above the theater where the family lives, and regales us with tales of her garden and its many creatures, parrots that visit the guava tree, a 30-year-old kite and her two dogs. She played woman saint and mystic Lalleshwari in our movie.
Bodhinatha and Palaniswami in the quaint Akshara Theatre, children on stage are chanting from the Vedas (quite well) to welcome the sannyasins from Hawaii.
Palaniswami was brought to the stage to tell the story behind the movie and how our two teams, one in Delhi and one in Hawaii, worked closely to create the pilot, and how we hope to move forward in the years ahead to make 46 more films.
The movie is shown and afterwards Bodhinatha took questions from the audience and then met privately with Times of India journalists for an interview.
The next morning at the Hyatt we met with Ajay and Anasuya to discuss details of our next step in filmmaking--an exciting and challenging process that will bring Gurudeva’s legacy of teachings to the big screen (alright, the little YouTube screen) where Generation Y gets its education.