swamishantanand_1I missed several opportunities and was never able to meet Swami Shantanand – the inspiration behind the Temple of Fine Arts and the evolutionary restaurant called Annalakshmi. Early this morning, Swami Shantanand passed away in Coimbatore, India, attaining what is known as mahasamadhi. Although he is no longer with us, his inspiration is only beginning to unfold.

It’s ironic to me that he passed away on the very same day that I feel a very special idea was conceived – something ultimately inspired by him. Yesterday, I proposed to Anarbhen and Jayeshbhai, two founders of Manav Sadhna, that we open a Seva Café based on Annalakshmi’s model – “eat what you want, pay as you wish.” The intention behind the café is many-fold. For one, it is a bold leap of faith into a new paradigm of service. Manav Sadhna is already feeding over 7000 people a day without charge. The restaurant model is a very different one, but the effort would have great value in expanding this same spirit of selfless seva out into the greater society. Naturally, there is much work and many expenses involved in such an undertaking, but the leap of faith is in offering it all as a genuine gift, and trusting that if it is pure enough, people will ensure its survival.

Secondly, the café can also serve as a place of inspiration and nourishment, where people can meet, eat healthy, wholesome food (hard for us to find here), get inspired, and move to act in more and more selfless ways. Such a place doesn’t really exist here, nor most anywhere. It can also serve as a place for valuable community events.

gramshreeThirdly, Manav Sadhna’s sister organization called Gramshree has already rented out a prime location on C.G. Rd. – a main commercial strip – to sell various goods and handicrafts specifically to empower and support tribal women and artisans. It is a bold undertaking on their part, and the café would share the same space, mutually supporting one another in fostering a value-rich environment.

I was able to tour the space yesterday, and immediately – with Jayeshbhai and Anarbhen’s excited interest – this new plan was officially set into motion. We intend to open this café with money from our own pockets and largely with labor offered freely with love. It will also likely provide some valuable employment to a few core people. It will be founded on the purest of motives – not based on any belief system, but simply on the simple trust in love and in selfless service.

For anyone interested in stepping out of their current life pattern and into a meaningful life adventure, please seriously think about coming here and giving yourself to help make this dream a reality. Here, you will find an amazingly supportive community. If you speak Gujarati or Hindi, that is a definite plus, but I don’t and it hasn’t stopped me. :)

For anyone interested, please contact me. Or if you know anyone who may have interest, then please pass this along to them. You can send them to this link: http://silentswan.blogs.com/madlove/2005/07/seva_caf.html

Swami Shantanand, your inspiration and light has found its way to Ahmedabad. With gratitude for your contribution to our collective evolution, may you rest in peace.