AHYMSIN Executive Committee
2019 – 2022
by Shi Hong
On March 2, 2019 an election of the Ahymsin Executive Committee and Office Bearers was held at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. The elected/appointed members of the full Executive Committee and Office Bearers for 2019 - 2022 are:
Spiritual Guide: Swami Ritavan Bharati
President: Dr. Mohan Swami
Senior Vice President: Shi Hong
Vice Presidents: Mayanne Krech and Dowlat Budhram
General Secretary: Sadhana Mishra
Assistant Secretaries: Tinyu Chen and Rajini Prakash
Treasurer: Narendra Pushkarna
Dr. Shirin Venkataramani
Pandit Priyadarshan (Pierre Lefebvre)
Randall Krause (Mokshadeva)
Dr. Tacson Fernandez
Shreedhar Kamat (DMT)
Roshan Lal Kanoda (Himalayan Institute Kanpur)
Adhikari Bhoi (SRSG)
Divya Gupta (SRSG)
John Sellinger (HYPT)
Yoong Khiang Wong (Adhyatma Samiti)
Namita Sinha (Future Leaders)
On March 3, 2019, the elected/appointed members of the Executive Committee held a meeting at the Ahymsin Office at which the Board of Directors for 2019 - 2022 was elected.
The Directors are:
Dr. Mohan Swami
Dr. Shirin Venkataramani
Pandit Priyadarshan (Pierre Lefebvre)
Randall Krause (Mokshadeva)
In addition, Swami Ritavan Bharati, the Spiritual Guide, has appointed two Senior Advisors to the Executive Committee. They are:
Dr. Stephen Parker (Stoma)
(This article has also been published on the AHYMSIN website.)
AHYMSIN Executive Committee Elections
[This is a transcript of Shi Hong talking about the Executive Committee and introducing the candidates and candidates responding on 2nd March 2019 at the 2019 Sangha Gathering at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama.]
Thank you, Swamiji. Again, fellow seekers, very honoured to be here to walk all of us through the so called election process. We are a registered society in India, and it is regulated by the government, and we have to have certain individuals be appointed or elected as the executives and Board of Directors of this society. Swami Veda always reminded us, he said ‘Whether you are in this committee or that committee doesn’t matter. You are committed to the family.’ And I remember there was one time I was here, and I was given the task of holding the election process together, so I went to him and as always there has been nonstop visitors, meetings, and I try to have his attention because I want to finalise just a few details in the things then he said to me, ‘Shi Hong, you have your election ok? That is the least important of this sangha gathering.’ And that put me into proper place. This is for government purposes, we have to have this. And he would have the Board of Director elected one day, and next day he would say, ‘We should have a discussion about the future financing plans’ and I was certain there was a chain... what are the Board of Directors doing? If he is calling everybody to say you should come up with ideas. And [it] took me quite a few years to come to grip with his idea of how this family should be organised: that is everybody is involved. Who is some committee, who is not on committee or who is Board of Director, in Swamiji’s mind doesn’t matter. And he always said, ‘You may have a title of an Executive Committee member, you may have a title as a Director, you may have a title as this or that,’ he says, ‘you have the title but you have zero authority.’ People you give a title the next day they look different. They walk differently. Their tone start to be different and that is not what Swamiji wanted so he always reminded us say, ‘You have no authorities. You have responsibilities, you have duties.’ This is the same message that over and over again he gave at the end of the TTP graduation ceremony, he says, ‘I’m here very reluctant to hand out the certificates because people really want the certificates; this is formality but the certificates are nothing. Your certificate as a teacher is given to you by your students.’ We give you the certificate doesn’t count.
The Executive Committee or Board of Directors or whatever title may sound grand, but it is nothing. The real respect or authority comes from the family, not because it is appointed or elected. With that as a background, every three years we have to go through the motion of appointing certain individuals to be named as the Executive Committee and then the Executive Committee will elect among themselves the Board of Directors. Without bothering you with all those lengthy process with which I myself am still struggling, every three years I have to find myself go back to the Constitution and bylaws and each time my understanding and reading can be a little bit different, so we are relying a lot on the good advices from the communities, from certain individuals who are very strong in their respect, so my gratitude to them but for now I would just like to briefly introduce some of the individuals appointed for this task to serve with no authority but with a lot of duties and responsibilities. Now please those of you who have already given me their consent, do not get cold feet now.
I will just like to have the individuals who are here to stand up and give a brief introduction of herself/himself, you may do that where you are or you prefer you can come up and stand in front facing everybody and although I said brief introduction, but please feel free to take as much time as you wish.
In no particular order, first is Dr. Shirin.
Dr. Shirin Venkataramani: It is a great way to honour Swamiji that ___ I should be elected for the Executed Committee. I don’t think I deserve anything like that but ___ of Swami Rama but just for the mundane and for others to know, I am a Gynaecologist by profession and still practicing and I work from ____ but I run away as quickly as I can to come home here because this is my second home and perhaps it will become my first home, I don’t know so of course I am committed to _____ I feel so well blessed. How much I can do I don’t know but I will try. Thank you. [Note: The blank spaces indicate inaudible sections.]
Shi Hong: Thank you, Dr. Shirin. Next John Sellinger. He is not here, probably working; that is a fine example. I’ll just read his bio: John Sellinger left his profession in Medical Physics to attend the SRSG Gurukulam program from 2011 until 2013. Following this, he served Swami Veda Bharati as a personal assistant until Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi. Since then, he has served Swami Veda’s mission as a volunteer Director of the Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust in SRSG as well as taking part in teaching the various programs within SRSG and abroad.
Next is Mayanne Krech who is supposed to be here but unfortunately, she couldn’t do so because of a big snow in the northwest part of the United States so she got snowed in. But she is a regular visitor at the ashram and her brief bio says; Mayanne started in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation tradition in 1988 at the Minneapolis Meditation Centre as an initiate of Swami Veda. She served on the board there for nine years. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Society in California. She is also one of the AHYMSIN Vice-Presidents during the past three years.
Then we have Tinyu Chen.
Tinyu: Hi, this is Tinyu Chen from Taiwan. And it is always lovely to come back home thank you.
Shi Hong: Hm? Don’t presume everybody knows you. Tinyu Chen is a news reporter and producer of an investigative show at Taiwan’s public TV. After her initiation by Swami Veda in 2006, she quickly founded AHYMSIN Taiwan which has become a very active centre with regular programs and hundreds of followers. Lately she has begun to promote the teachings of Himalayan Yoga in China and she has been AHYMSIN’s Assistant Secretary since 2013.
Next is Sunil Trikha who is not here, so I will read his bio: An initiate and disciple in the lineage of Himalayan Yogis, presently managing an affiliate centre of AHYMSIN in Ludhiana for the last ten years. Committed to serve the tradition by way of learning, practicing and sharing, spreading the teachings of Himalayan Tradition with utmost humility, will continue to remain my way of serving the lineage and the Gurus.
Next on my list is a man called Shi Hong, and I shouldn’t presume everyone knows him, so Shi Hong met Swami Veda in Hong Kong in 2007 and became an initiate soon after that first meeting. He has been sharing the lineage’s teaching in Taiwan, Hong Kong and more recently in China. Since 2007 he has translated and published more than ten of Swami Veda’s books into Chinese language. Prior to his retirement, he worked in the field of International Finance and has been AHYMSIN’s Vice-President since 2013. This morning I was supposed to do a sharing of the vision of AHYMSIN, but the last moment I dropped out because I may want to say something that Swamiji may not like to hear. What I really want to say, my vision is everybody and anybody over the age of sixty, except the Spiritual Guide, should mandatorily retire from active duty. I am already at that age but I am not retiring.
The next on the list is Pierre.
Pierre Lefebvre [Pandit Priyadarshan]: I am not sure what I should say; I guess most of the people know me already. I have been here in the ashram, studying in the Gurukulam from 2005 onwards to 2011, so in the last fourteen years, this literally is my home because I spent much more time here than any other place. I guess that is all I have to say.
Swamiji: Give credit to your wife.
Shi Hong Ji: Then we have Dr .Tacson Fernandez, who is not here. Dr .Tacson has gratefully served in the Executive Committee since 2013 and continues to support the Guru’s initiatives and work. Tacson is a medical doctor practicing in London as a Senior Consultant in Anaesthesia and pain medicine. He offers to serve the Guru and sangha to further the teachings of the Guru and the tradition, to Love, Serve and Remember.
And then we have Rajini Prakash. Her bio says, ‘In accordance with the Guru’s directive, Rajini has by the way, her name always always R with a small r. She never uses the capital R. And whenever I communicate with her, she very rarely uses the pronoun I. Very [rarely]. If she does, it is always a smaller case i. Rajini has gratefully served on the AHYMSIN Executive Committee since 2013 and hopes to continue to serve the Guru and the sangha. She holds a Business Degree and runs her own company as a Management Coach in London. However, she feels the only qualification that matters is that she is an initiate of the Himalayan Tradition and a student of Swami Veda. Her deep aspiration is to one day become his disciple.
Then we have Shreedhar Kamat, who is also a Trustee of DMT. Shreedhar Kamat is a senior lawyer by profession and has been practicing in Kawar, a district on the west coast of India. Mr. Kamat is the Chairman of Kanawar Welfare Trust which runs forty-five educational and social institutions in the rural part of Uttar Kannada. He is the Founder Chairman and Chief Functionary of Kruger Foundation for Child Aid India. He is on the Board of Krüger Kinderhilfswerk für Indien in Switzerland. Mr. Kamat is on the Board of several companies in India and abroad. He is associated with several philanthropic initiatives in India and abroad.
And then we have [Narendra] Pushkarna Ji.
Pushkarna Ji: [Inaudible beginning.] I request to all to please donate generously.
John Sellinger comes in at this point and was asked to introduce himself.
John: Sorry for being late, it was my chance to be Yajmana, and I didn’t want to miss it. What should I say? I think you all know me, so not much introduction needed. For those who don’t know, I have been spending most of my time in Swamiji’s ashram since the last nine years. I came as a Gurukulam student and then soon after doing some Gurukulam studies, Swami Veda put me to work. And it just continues until now. It has been a beautiful experience here and very happy to be here with you all.
Shi Hong: And then we have Winthrop [Harewood] coming from a far, far away place.
Winthrop: Namaste. I come from a very small country in the southern most country of the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago. You will need a magnifying glass to look. I am not really sure what I should say, but what I do know is that from the first time I walked into Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, I felt this was home and I have considered it my home since I first came here in 2004, and I have been returning fairly regularly. I have been a member of the AHYMSIN Board for most of the period. I know I do nothing, but yet still I somehow find myself here and I have to change and I look forward to changing that now because I recently retired and hopefully a little more time on my sleeve to be able to contribute much more to the family and at home. Thank you.
Shi Hong: And next is Dowlat Budhram who is not here, also from the Caribbean region. If I may, Dowlat is a Guyanese Indian who has served, residing in Costa Rica for over twenty-five years. He was initiated by Swami Veda in 1971 in Guyana. Dowlat re-established contact with Swami Veda in 2001 Kumbha Mela and that is thirty years later. From 2003, Dowlat participated in the Teacher’s Training on yoga and meditation and that was held in Minneapolis. He also visited SRSG a few times to participate in more intense training. The last being 2017. The past decade, Dowlat has been a member of a group of Swamiji’s initiates that has been editing Swami Veda’s speeches, lectures and writings for publication. Dowlat’s professional life has been as an Economist and a Director of various programs for the InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Belize.
The next is someone everybody knows already but he should still stand up and introduce himself is Adhikari [Bhoi].
Adhikari: Hari Om. Pranam, Swami Ji. I am blessed and fortunate enough to be with all of you, and I am here since 2007. I come here as a student with my wife, my partner, Geeta, and we joined Gurukulam program; after then we are ashramites, preparing to the tradition in a deeper way. Thank you for your love.
Shi Hong: Next we have Namita. Namita Sinha is an initiate in the Himalayan Tradition and lives in Bangalore with her husband and daughter. Namita received her initiation from Swami Veda at SRSG in 2010. She is a HYT-TTP level two student and her seva areas include helping in organising children’s retreat at SRSG since 2011 and managing social media accounts of Swami Veda. In recent years she has also organised workshops and the South India Sangha Gathering that brought together initiates in Bangalore. Namita worked as a retail Marketing and Media Professional with Tata Group for a decade. Moving on from the corporate work life, she started teaching yoga to children and formed a special yoga program for children, Yogic Kids. She continues to teach adults in Bangalore.
Next also very special person, Divya [Gupta].
Divya: Namaste, everyone. I don’t really know what to say. Ever since I was initiated, my only desire, my only longing was to be here, and I have been here for two years now.
Shi Hong: Thank you, Divya. The next is Thaniya Kevalee who is not here. Thaniya Kevalee met Swami Veda Bharati and took initiation into the tradition in 2000. He has also established a Meditation Centre in Thailand and organised annual meditation retreats as part of the services to the mission of the Himalayan Masters. He lives fulltime in Bangkok and works in investment banking industry.
Then we have Debora Ghiraldelli. Debora was initiated into the Himalayan lineage in 1996. She has been on the Board of Directors of the Florence Centre for the past fifteen years. A frequent pilgrim of India to both Sadhana Mandir and Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Debora was married in a Vedic ceremony by the blessings of Guru along with Swami Hari and Swami Veda in 2002. She has organised many silence retreats for Swami Veda and others in Italy and accompanied Swami Veda to attend many conferences there over the past two decades. Debora currently works for a human resources agency as an administrative and tutor for courses organised by the agency.
Next on my list Shailendra [Bisseswar]. Shailendra comes from a family of yoga and meditation practitioners initiated in the Himalayan Tradition. Being a third generation of Swami Veda Bharati students, the connection to the tradition has always been guiding him. He started his career as an Electro technician, but in 2004, the time came to join the Gurukulam program at SRSG. There along with his fellow students, he underwent an intense training under the guidance of Swami Veda Bharati and the senior teachers of the tradition until 2007. Shailendra is now living back in Holland together with his wife and their two children. Currently he is sharing his understanding of yoga in Hague with his wife. He is regular guest teacher at the yoga centre in Rotterdam and assists during silent retreats and workshops organised by HYMS, the centre in Netherlands.
Finally, not on my list, this person has not submitted his bio, but most people know him, and he has to stand up and introduce himself is Yoong, the senior resident of SRSG.
Yoong: I am Yoong. They put me in this position for the last three years. I asked to be sacked, but it was declined. So, I am here again. I guess they wanted some continuity and that thought came to my mind where as a few people were being introduced, but I just like to say a little bit. I met Swami Rama in 1992 in Singapore, and the two occasions when he came to Singapore it was a very wonderful time for me. I had the occasion to interact with him a little bit and then in 1993 because he wasn’t coming to Singapore anymore and I thought that wouldn’t do so since he wasn’t coming to Singapore, I came here to see him. So, from 1993, every year I visited every year. I have seen the transition. I attended Gurudev’s mahasamadhi and [have] seen the transition to Swami Veda and then saw the transition from Swami Veda to Swami Ritavan. And back then, when I first came, this campus wasn’t even built. So, I can say that my age in Rishikesh is actually older than the bricks in this building. I was very happy to see the reports being done because Swami Veda had for quite a long time emphasised the next generation. I am, of course, particularly interested in the next generation. You know, this one is already going. I had spent three months here as Swami Ji had mentioned and I learned quite a few things. And if you want to learn more about the ashram, you do really have to spend time here, walk around, talking to people and see what is going on. And I tell you, the people here work very, very hard. And I notice the number of administrative staff there on that list, for, until, unless and until, you are here and you see what is going on, you will not appreciate the amount of work that four people do. I appreciate, of course, don’t misunderstand me, all these people, all the others that have been contributing a lot. On the subject of continuity, somebody you may know, somebody you may not know. When John Sellinger walked in, I was thinking continuity. Why? Because his father is here, and his father is Gerald Sellinger and he is somewhere else at the moment. His father was initiated by Swami Veda. He never told John. And then one day, this man walked into this ashram and was initiated by Swami Veda. It was only after that that he found his father was also initiated by Swami Veda. But anyways, there is this continuity, and I am very pleased to say in 1993 when I first came here, I met Jyothi Pattabhram, my Guru sister. Her daughter, Dr. Sadhana, will be performing tonight. And she also attended TTP Level 1 late last year. So, this kind of continuity, this stream can continue in different ways. In my mind, the thought, the understanding, the appreciation of all these streams within the Himalayan Tradition of which all of you as initiates are part of. And it is that understanding that creates that sense of humility, how little we are, really little, how little we are, and like Shi Hong emphasised, we are given positions, but no authority. Positions don’t mean much. Thank you.
Shi Hong: Thank you, Yoong, and we have another one who has not submitted his bio to me: Sadhana Ji. [Sadhana Mishra] As Swami Ji mentioned, she is an important link between AHYMSIN and DMT because she serves as General Secretary of both institutions.
Sadhana: Shi Hong has already introduced me, so I don’t know what else to say. I am thankful to the lineage. I have been initiated since 2007, and as he said responsibility without authority, so serving as a General Secretary of both DMT and AHYMSIN, that’s all. Thank you.
Shi Hong: And someone thinks he may get away from it, but no, no such luck, is Randall [Krause] from Los Angeles.
Randall [Mokshadeva]: The greatest thing of my life is when I met Dr. Arya twenty years ago now. And my connection the tradition has been ___ [inaudible] an essential part of certain reactions and so many things have happened because ____ [inaudible]. Many years ago I was serving Dr. Arya back in Sadhana Mandir, volunteering and I went to him one day with a joke, I said: You are paying us too much. You should cut our pay in half although it was clear we were getting no pay, but he thought that was very funny, and we all had a good laugh. So, I am concerned that we have no authority; it seems like too much authority, but I am happy to be able to serve with no authority. Thank you.
Shi Hong: Another person usually we do not see, but we know. My wife, at least, reminds me all the time say: “Why are the flowers so beautiful in this campus? Why can’t we grow this kind of flower on campus?” And who do we owe that? Thanks to Mrs. Dixit. Not on the committee, but looking after every single flower on campus. Thank you, Mrs. Dixit. And Dr. Dixit, I think you can also take credit for that.
Swamiji has also appointed Dr. Stoma [Stephen Parker] as Senior Advisor to the Board of Directors of AHYMSIN. Others will be added as Senior Advisors when and if the time has come. We all know who Stoma is, but we still want to benefit from his wisdom, his experience. Very glad to have Stoma continue to involve in the overall scheme of things, offering his wisdom and experience, so Stoma would you like to?
Stoma: I have been trying to get fired. Terrible failure. For people who don’t know me, long time student and disciple of the tradition, retired psychologist, and visit here twice a year, and this is my second home. My real home, the world.
Shi Hong: Thank you, Stoma.
Later on, you will all receive, those of you who are initiates, and some of them are not initiates I am sorry that we would like you to participate, but by the Constitution of AHYMSIN, only initiates are eligible to vote so you will be receiving the ballots where please elect with a tick, a mark on the white boxes. The black boxes are appointees, they are not elected positions so only tick on the white boxes. And we have now a very important surprise for you, a very special guest is appearing through modern technology and put together by Pierre is Swami Veda.
Pierre: Just a few seconds of background, as I was working on the video that we showed the other night, I went through some segments of Swami Veda describing the election process and his vision of the ___ [inaudible] of AHYMSIN.
[Photos of sadhakas voting taken by Jay Prakash Bahuguna.]