A Pair of Well-Matched Projects in Bangalore, India

By Jody Wright
Sometimes the best service projects work synergistically, supporting each other in a way that helps both grow and be strong. So it is with the Seva Dharma Mission Centre in Bangalore, India. The Centre is a training centre for future acharyas in Ananda Marga. It also is the home of a day school for 130 local children.What is the synergy? The school is open from 9 am to 1 pm each day. The trainees have a chance to learn how to teach at and run a school in the mornings, and in the afternoons and evenings they still have time to study and do extensive spiritual practices. The tuition from the middle-class students helps support the training centre, and much of the space is shared. Since almost all acharyas in India work in schools, often as the directors, this is an important part of their training.

Didi Anandashopana worked hard to grow the school from just a dozen children when she arrived in 1996 to a large school in 2004 that can support the centre and is an important connection to the community. In the beginning she set about making friends in the neighbourhood and in the wider community. Her philosophy was that the training centre should be well-known and respected in the area, and so she set up chairs in the front of the centre and opened up the gates for visitors. She kept a careful eye on the school, the children and the teachers so that she always was up to date on what was going on. She also set up other projects, such as a weekly clinic with a local Ananda Marga doctor which served the community more directly.

With the help of Didi Cirasmita and Dada Yatiishvarananda, Didi Ananda Shopana reached out to members of Ananda Marga in other parts of the world and was able to raise funds for building more classrooms. Her goal was to raise money for new buildings, but let the school support itself and the on-going costs of the project with tuition. That way no dependency was created on donations.
She handed the school and the training centre over to Didi Ananda Madhu Dhotana last summer, who will continue this well-matched pair of projects.