Source: Hinduism Today Correspondent Kalyani Giri
HOUSTON, TEXAS, November 18, 2001: Prominent Hindu leaders from Houston's many organizations and members of the local community gathered on November 18, at Keshav Smruti to celebrate the life of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, affectionately known as Gurudeva. The charismatic Hindu religious leader passed away on November 12 after a short battle with cancer at his ashram/monastery home on the island of Kauai. It was a poignant event attended by fifty people, beginning with a soul-stirring rendition of shlokas by Rathna Kumar, followed by shared memories and laughter as speakers told of their personal experiences when meeting with Gurudeva. Many told of his quick wit and related mystical experiences while in his presence. Speakers included incoming President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Suresh Patel, India Culture Center's Harshat Patel, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh's Dinesh Shah, Hindu Student's Council representative Nutan Mehta, Punnyabhoomi editor Somarajan Nair and social activist Sam Kannappan. Nutan Mehta held aloft a copy of Hinduism Today magazine (started by Gurudeva and published by his order) carrying the cover story on the Hindu Student's Council and spoke eloquently of Gurudeva's championing the causes upheld by youth. It was also a ceremony with a difference. In deference to Gurudeva's love of the cultural arts, the program included a Kuchipudi classical dance item by Bharath Guntupalli, a student of dance guru Rathna Kumar. A student of Gurudeva's, Tara Barrie Hull, read from his works and told emotionally how the spiritual master's teachings had turned her life around. Sam Kannappan spoke of Gurudeva's visit to a home in Sugarland, where the backyard was bare. But three hours after Gurudeva had visualized three "beautiful trees" growing side by side in the yard, a city worker knocked at the door carrying three trees saying they were surplus, requesting the householder if he could plant them in his garden. "I still visit that house just to see those trees," Kannappan told attendees. Vijay Pallod of VHP spoke of Gurudeva's monks who had attended a conference in Houston. All lingered after the ceremony to revel in the peaceful atmosphere created just by reflecting on a great soul.