Last night, we had a surprise guest speaker -- Shri Lavanam. And what a grand surprise it was. :) It is rare to be in the company of people like Shri Lavanam. Raised as the son of the famous athiest, Gora, Lavanam-ji engaged in his first act of "satyagraha" at the age of 12; two years later, he spent three months with Gandhi at Sevagram and had many memorable encounters with Gandhi; at 25, Vinoba asked him to be his chief translator and called him his son; years later, he met Martin Luther King Jr. on several occassions who (like Gandhi) heartily accepted his athiesm despite being a Baptist minister; even later, he worked with Jayprakash Narayan to transform the lives of thousands of criminals; his social service work (which has garnered many awards) revolves around removing untouchability, religious prostitution and uplifting criminal communities. All that, though, is just what the books will say.
What we experienced last night went way beyond that. As Lavanam-ji himself would say at the end of the Q&A: "This was one of the rarest experiences of my life. I have never spoken like this." And he spoke in such a way because of the presence that everyone brought into the room. A truly memorable evening. More about Lavanam-ji
As one of the attendees noted, "I come because I know the kind of people
that get attracted here -- Dwarko-ji, Satish Kumar, Dr. Ariyaratne, Subba Rao, Mahendra Meghani, Dr. V, Krishnamaal." I don't know what exactly the organizing principle is but it's a joy to be an instrument for it.