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Why Annalakshmi

Swamiji – our Guru

Swami Shantanand SaraswatiSwami Shantanand Saraswathi (Swamiji) was born on 7th April 1934, in Thirukoviloor, a small village in South India. He left home at 14 and divinity led Him to Rishiksh to unite Him with His Master Swami Sivananda Saraswathi. After years of service to His Guru, Swamiji set out on His own Mission.

The young and old were drawn to His warm and affectionate disposition, the brilliance of His knowledge and the charm of His personality. “The Singing Sage” as He was called, spread the cultural and spiritual glory of India through His captivating speech and enchanting songs.

He singularly stands out in His belief that one can realize God by spiritualizing one’s daily duties. He brought His devotees together as volunteers in various service oriented projects (Annalakshmi, The Temple of Fine Arts, Saraswati Mahavidhyalaya) to transform themselves by selfless service through arts and charities. The ideals of which are to have a heart to love, give and serve thereby to have love for God serve Mankind – tributes to His Guru, the Great Spiritual Giant Swami Shivananda Saraswathi.

Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi on 27th July, 2005, at Coimbatore in South India. He guides all the activities, by His eternal presence at the Adhishtanam which is a centre for prayer and meditation today.

Athiti Devo Bhava

In ancient India, there is a tradition that as a householder before having your meal, you should first entertain an unknown guest that comes to your home. It is believed that God comes in the form of your guest, and that it should be your duty to entertain and feed your guest to the best of your ability to their satisfaction. This concept is called ‘Athiti Devo Bhava’ – Guest is God, and at Annalakshmi we strive to follow this great tradition.

Why ‘pay as you feel’?

Food is meant for sustenance of life and nobody is to be deprived. Annalakshmi is not a soup kitchen, or a place to feed socially deprived. Instead it is a place that supports the act of giving, from the heart. For example, a mother prepares and cooks a meal with love, selflessly for nourishment and well-being. At Annalakshmi, food is cooked with selfless love and positive energy. This food infused with love and positive energy, when consumed becomes a healing nectar and food for the soul.

Why not just free food?

We want to cultivate the heart to give within each person who dines with us. By providing free food, the opportunity to give may not be there.

Why food?

Food nurtures. Food is life sustaining – everyone needs to eat and survive. Food is the only thing in this world where as a consumer you have ability to say ‘no thanks’ due to being fully satisfied. At Annalakshmi, we want to give you this satisfaction.

Why feeding is the greatest deed?

In Hinduism, the greatest deed one can do is said to be feeding someone – this is called “Anna dhannam”. At Annalakshmi we want to feed all those who dine with us, but also give you the opportunity to give and feed others too.

Why music and dance?

Music and dance is the soul of our lives. Dining at Annalakshmi is a cultural experience and through the Temple of Fine Arts (our performing arts organisation), Saraswati Mahavidhyalaya (our educational organisation) and Laavanya Arts (our handicrafts and visual arts organisation, we wish to share Indian culture and the arts with you and the community.

How can you be a part of this?

  • Come and dine: Making a choice to come to dine at Annalakshmi, and pay what you feel, you will be unknowingly be able to feed another person
  • Sponsor an evening: Contribute towards an meal, and all those who come to dine that evening will be able to dine
  • Volunteer your time: Do some selfless service at Annalakshmi – in any aspect from dishwashing to copywriting – to make it all happen.