From the west coast of India a Hindu saint travelled hundreds of miles to the west coast of America to recite Shri Ram Katha, which took place at the Hindu Temple of South Bay from 22nd to 30th July, 2000.

Pujya Shri Rameshbhai Oza (lovingly called Pujya Bhaishri) had been invited to San Jose by the ‘Devotional Associates of Sitaram’ (DAS) to describe the Vedic thoughts and Hindu culture in a simple manner by giving an exposition on the famous ‘Ram Charit Manas’.

Pujya Bhaishri has been travelling world-over reciting katha’s to audiences of up to 100,000 people. Hindu devotees of San Jose are familiar with Pujya Bhaishri following his numerous visits to California including a visit in 1989 during which he conducted the Shrimad Bhagwat Katha, describing the legendary ‘leelas’ of Lord Krishna.

This year, in an attempt to benefit all Hindus of the Indian sub-continent, Pujya Bhaishri recited the Shri Ram Katha in the Hindi language. Seated upon the throne-like ‘Vyas peetha’, Pujya Bhaishri began the discourse with prayers to Lord Ram and during the three-hour session sang ‘bhajans,’ verses in his soul-stirring voice accompanied by beautiful music. These words were then explained in Hindi. The audience of 1,500 people, listened attentively with folded hands, cross-legged and bare-foot. Many brought their own copy of the Ram Charit Manas and read and sang along with Bhaishri.

The Ram Charit Manas describes the character of Lord Ram, who is a prominent deity in the Hindu pantheon. The Sanskrit text ‘Ramayana’, written by Shri Valmiki, narrates an ideal lifestyle, which we ought to follow. Ram was an ideal person, a perfect student, husband, leader, brother, father and son.

Pujya Bhaishri said that Goswami Tulsidasji’s representation of Ram is different. The text begins with the question ‘Who is Ram?’ and within the seven chapters, Ram is described as the supreme God.

Tulsidasji compares the Ram Charit Manas to a river (Ram Katha Ganga), which flows all over the world. ‘Anybody can go to a river, there is no discrimination,’ said Pujya Bhaishri, ‘one can go for a bath, to wash clothes, to drink water or for a multitude of reasons. Similarly, one can listen to the Ram Charit Maanas to learn, for benediction or for pure enjoyment.’

The story of the Ramayana is well known by all, young and old, prominently due to Goswami Tulsidasji who portrayed this historical account in a language that could be understood by all, Avadhi. The entire collection of verses is written in ‘chopais’ (couplets), which are easy to sing and remember, unlike Vedic thoughts and philosophies that need to be explained, as they cannot be understood by all.

Pujya Bhaishri has been narrating Shri Ram katha for many years and hence has developed an inherent understanding of the text. This allows him to teach us the Vedic teachings proficiently, which will help improve our lives.

Pujya Bhaishri said ‘The Ram Charit Manas is a medicine that can be used to cure any problem, emotional, mental or social’, He says, ‘unlike any medicine, the Ram Charit Manas isn’t painful to administer, nor does it taste bitter. The beautiful words are easy to sing and remember.’

Young and old had come from all over the California State, also from other States such as Tennessee, North Carolina and Michigan, and even as far as Europe and Africa. Bhavesh Dhokia of London commented that ‘Pujya Bhaishri’s harmonious voice and melodious words are like a magnet that is powerful enough to attract across the Atlantic.’ He and four others had come from the UK especially to attend this spectacular event.

The twenty-person team of organizers had spent the last three months preparing for this great event. They did not get paid monetarily for their efforts but definitely spiritually. They felt that they were serving their community and their faith and that was very self-satisfying.

The president of DAS, Shri Naranjibhai Patel had been recognized numerous times for his efforts in supporting various charitable activities, both in the local community and in India, including serving as the President of Sanskruti Foundation – USA, which supports various activities at Sandipani Vidyaniketan, Porbandar, an educational institution propagating Vedic teaching and Indian Culture based on the Rishikul tradition. He said, ‘We feel great privilege that Pujya Bhaishri has blessed our city once again with Shri Ram Katha. Pujya Bhaishri has been a great supporter of DAS and has given us guidance in the development of the Hindu Temple of South Bay.’

 

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