TO THE “ISAI BABA” OF CHANDPUR
This is a pilgrim narrative on the person of Fr. Aji Sebastian Parekattil Cmi, known as “Isai Baba of Chandpur” and his mission in the field of herbal medicine as it is practised in a humble institution, Darsanalaya Ashram, situated in Chandpur village of Faridabad, Haryana. Having received the special vocation, Fr. Aji has adopted the lifestyle of Indian Sannyasa within the CMI congregation; he has received his initiation into this way of life from the well-renowned Swami Sadananda CMI and tries to blend his quest for Christian realization with his taste and expertise for herbal medicine and social uplift of the poor and downtrodden. The catholic spirit of welcoming everyone into the Ashram – to live and participate in all activities as a cordial community – has the added emphasis on ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. The tapasya in the lifestyle and ministry of this young Christian missionary is tremendous and enduring; the sense of mumukshutva (longing for eternal liberation) is positive and all-enveloping.
It was a usual evening walk for me around the ‘CMI-famous’ Dharmaram Ring Road with Fr. Benny Nalkara. As the first ever CMI Ashrama Aikya (2008) was scheduled to begin the next day in Vidyavanam Ashram (founded by Acharya Fr. Francis Vineeth CMI) on the outskirts of Bangalore, the ‘very rare species’ of half a dozen CMI Sannyasis from all over India were moving around Dharmaram Campus. Interested in the movement and taking note of the gathered noble confreres clad in ‘kashaya vastra’, I, though an outsider, was happy to see our scholastics earnestly gathering around them and animatedly conversing with them in and around Dharmaram verandas. A novel figure, for me, was Fr. Aji Parekattil, belonging to SH Kalamasserry Province, who seemed to be attracting larger crowds, from philosophy as well as theology sections. Though I had heard about him from my younger colleagues, his popularity among brothers did not give me a chance even to have a word with him. During our evening walk, however, I found the crowd easing out, probably as brothers were moving to the playgrounds. And there he was, Fr Aji moving with agility, moving in our direction, beaming with a spontaneous serene smile. As Fr. Benny knew him well, they exchanged pleasantries.
Then, it was my turn, and as I greeted him and introduced myself as Fr. Saju, he asked me in return: Chackalackal? That was a welcome question as it indicated his familiarity, though so far we never had a chance to meet in person. As Fr. Benny introduced to me Fr. Aji’s credentials as a ‘medicine sannyasi’, I had a flash thought in my mind and I thought aloud: “Why not, then, I also give a try?” The question was certainly existential to me as my recent Ayurvedic treatment in Bangalore had not given any return as to contain my rheumatic arthritis and the recent spurt of related joints’ pain. Sensing the need of the hour, Fr. Benny took leave of us.
As I started to narrate a bit of the case history, Fr. Aji expressed his wish to visit a couple of his acquaintances living on the Campus. So, we decided to have a long evening walk together. As we were first heading for Alphonsa Bhavan, I continued my narration and I could see the attention with which he listened and made a few clarifications. By the time we reached the FCC Sisters’ community, I could immediately feel the popularity this young Swamiji claimed among the Sisters from north Indian missions. As Sr. Cicy Therese started exclaiming about Fr. Aji’s success in Chandpur village in Haryana through his medical assistance and social services, she narrated how bad were the times when she worked as part of the San Joe project. As she put it, which was later corroborated by others, Fr. Aji’s timely interventions had been crucial in bringing about social as well as religious harmony in the surrounding areas of Chandpur village. Sr. Cicy was very vocal: “Well, your success in a place where everyone else had failed is really great!” There came another member of Alphonsa Bhavan, Sr. Treesa Poonely. She, in fact, was the teacher of Fr. Aji during his early schooling. As she saw him, at once, I could see her eyes beaming with pride in the noble status her favourite student has attained. Immediately, though, I also witnessed her eyes welling up with tears as she checked Fr. Aji’s sannyasi style clothing. As she could not contain her embarrassment at seeing her now ‘priest-student’ not covering the upper part of his body (of course, he had his kashaya shawl around his shoulders), she ran away in tears, though she came back immediately (hopefully by the gentle promptings of Sr. Leony, her superior). Fr. Aji’s close association with Swami Sadanand also brought around another group of sisters, including Sr. Selmi, sister of martyred Sr. Rani Maria FCC. I could see their admiration for what Fr. Aji is and what he has achieved in terms of his mission at this young age. On our way back, apart from meeting Fr. Mathew Koikara, we also met Swami Sadanand who had come to participate in the “CMI Ashrama Aikya 2008.”
As we came closer to Dharmaram, it was already dusk. The bare-footed Fr. Aji immediately turned out to be the medicinal man and plucked out a handful of plants from the unkempt lawns on the side of Dharmaram Ring Road. That was the beginning of the treatment. He also gave me another prepared medicine that he carried with him from his Darsanalaya Ashram in Chandpur, Haryana. The package of treatment also included a ‘kashayam’, which I was supposed to prepare by myself (of course, Bro. Joseph Muttanolil, the secret behind many Dharmaram administrations’ success through his expertise and diligent planning of Dharmaram Catering Department, was very generous to get it done). As I started regularly taking these medicines, in a few weeks’ time, I could feel substantial changes, especially with regard to the joints’ pain. Thanks be to God and to Fr. Aji for the timely help!
It was in this context that I finally decided to visit Fr. Aji in his Ashram in November 2008. As my travel plan was laid out, he said that my arrival in Delhi coincided with his weekly consultation in the Syro Malabar Centre in Mayur Vihar (Sector II), New Delhi. He, then, generously promised to pick me up from the New Delhi railway station. However, as my train was delayed by about four hours, we had to make alternate plans for the pick up at midnight and my further travel to his Ashram the next day. Bro. Paul Chully, a relative of mine and the superior of Patrician Provincialate in Delhi Cannt., became the ‘Good Samaritan’. After a good sleep and the morning table fellowship (both Holy Eucharist and breakfast) with the Patrician Brothers, Bro. Paul was generous enough to accompany me up to Darsanalaya Ashram in Chandpur (in Faridabad district of Haryana). Though it was a drive for more than two hours, we enjoyed first the smooth Delhi metro traffic and, then, the greeneries and cultivation beyond Faridabad town.
Finally, by 11 am, I reached Darsanalaya Ashram along with Bro. Paul. Situated on the outskirts of Chandpur village, simple looking in structures, neatly kept surroundings, immersed in the silence and simplicity of an Indian ashram, Darsanalaya had an all-welcoming outlook.
As we entered the Ashram premises, Fr. Aji was found sitting in front of the ‘Baba Kuteer’ with a couple of people. Later I realized that they consisted of his patients as well as students (including two Deenabandhu sisters and a lay person from Jagdalpur mission) who had come for treatment and training in herbal medicine. As we got down from the car, Fr. Aji promptly came up to welcome and receive us. While one of his assistants guided me to the room where I would stay, others offered us tea. While Fr. Aji continued to engage with his patients, we moved around the rest of the Ashram premises: simple but convenient was my first impression about the structures. They included a CMI Sadan, Baba Kuteer (which was built and donated by Fr. Aji’s friends, including VHP supporters, known among them as “Isai Baba of Chandpur”), pharmacy, treatment rooms, rooms and dormitories for in-patients, and a kitchen and dining room.
Apart from the simple looking structures, what captivated me the most were the atmosphere of openness found to be prevailing in Darsanalaya Ashram and the serene smile on the face of Fr. Aji as well as his always ready to help attitude. They made an altogether different atmosphere within Darsanalaya, especially when compared to the formal and, sometimes, professional style adopted by many of our religious houses in the South.
As Fr. Aji had settled with the visitors, he promised to take us to the only neighbouring Catholic institutional complex, San Joe Puram, established under the auspices of Syro Malabar Delhi unit. An educational complex with the noble aim of providing “inclusive education” to the handicapped and under-privileged children, San Joe Puram consisted of a moderately large school, priests’ residence, few convents that also housed different types of handicapped or challenged or orphaned children, a nursery school, a destitute home run by FCC sisters, and some other social work units. In all, it gives a well-planned campus for the uplift of the downtrodden. As it was a working day, when we visited various convents, we could hardly see any of the inmates. However, as we reached the school, we could feel the pulse of the campus – especially because it was November 14, the Children’s Day. The pleasant surprise was my inability to identify the ‘handicapped’ ones among them: they were all together. Remember, the motto of the campus is “inclusive education”!
The last religious house that we visited on that day was the convent belonging to FCC Delhi Province and it was already 1.30 pm; and I should not forget the lunch we had there, especially the ‘koorka’ curry. As Bro. Paul already knew some of the sisters and the destitutes (who were originally brought from FCC Delhi community), visit to this community turned out to be a pleasant surprise for him.
Finally, highly impressed by the presence and ministry of Darsanalaya Ashram and having had a quick glimpse of the Syro Malabar mission in Chandpur village, Bro. Paul Chully returned to Delhi, as the Open School answer sheets awaited his final signature at Mount St. Mary’s School.
In the afternoon, I could see more activity around the Ashram. More and more people came from different parts of Faridabad and Delhi in search of the medical wisdom of the Baba. Although most of the cases that were referred to him were chronic in nature and rejected by famous hospitals and physicians – both Allopathic and Ayurvedic – Baba kept his cool, basing himself on his theory of human wellbeing: the necessity of maintaining balance between heat and cold. He prescribed medicines and exercises as per the variant cases he was addressing.
A major link for Baba to keep in touch with his patients and their concerned relatives is his simple mobile phone. Except during his meditation, prayer, and Eucharistic celebrations, one would find him conversing with many on his cell phone, giving them tips to keep up their health – from friendly advices to stern medical instructions. Most of the new cases that came by way of phone calls were given the reply – but only after assuring them of a possible solution or, at least, a try to induce hope among the ‘hopeless’ – that they may visit him either in the Ashram or in Delhi, where he holds regular consultations once a week. By the way, it is reported that Fr. Aji meets about one hundred patients during one of his weekly consultations in Delhi, most of the patients being migrant settlers from Kerala.
I was deeply impressed by another group of visitors from the surrounding village Chandpur: they were school going children. A good number of them were seen in different parts of the Ashram premises. They came to the Ashram in search of its solitude as it better facilitated their studies. More moving is the attitude of the Ashramites in welcoming them to spend their time for studies. Interestingly, Baba knows all of them personally, including their names. Praiseworthy is the presence and involvement of otherwise silently moving person of the regent, Bro. Jerrys Marottickal. After settling his responsibilities in assisting Baba, by evening, he turned out to be an expert English teacher. There was a group of 15-20 students of various classes; as per each one’s need, Bro. Jerrys instructed them in English language, which would otherwise be impossible for these village children. Baba, true to the spirit of the Ashram, not only appreciates the innovative ministry of his regent but also promotes this meaningful ministry with creative assistance. The remote village of Chandpur, which does not have any chance of getting support for its children to study English, is certainly blessed by the initiative of Bro. Jerrys and the people are really grateful for the same and many more.
At 7 pm, we started the Eucharistic celebration. Celebrated in the simplicity of the Ashram chapel, with a text that is sufficiently adapted for the innovative spirit of the Ashram ideal, this evening Eucharist became a cherished experience. It was the celebration of the whole Ashram, meaning to say everyone in the Ashram actively participated in the celebration, singing and praying, playing various musical instruments and taking their turns in performing ‘arati’, etc. Although the congregation hardly consisted of fifteen members, the celebration was really worth it: it did give me a wonderful experience. The spontaneous and melodious Hindi chantings of Fr. Aji and hymns sung by the entire congregation, along with intoned and rhythmic prayers led by the Baba of the Ashram, really made it a rare blend of spiritual flavour and traditional and native ingenuity. The Bharatiya Pooja was interrupted (from the point of view of a traditional liturgist; it was, certainly, a meaningful and welcome change for me) after the ‘Breaking of the Bread’ for an hour long Eucharistic adoration. As I firmly believed from my good old novitiate days with Fr. Dunstan of holy memories that Eucharistic adoration could be aptly placed before the communion, I was really happy about the way it was arranged and conducted at Darsanalaya. After an hour long prayerful reflections, singing, and silent adoration, we concluded the evening liturgy with communion and final blessing. As the Mass was about to close, I gently declined Fr. Aji’s request to say a few words as a message to the gathered congregation. Not that I did not have anything to say (all those who know me know it quite well), but I did not want to spoil the rich and enlivening experience of that evening by my out of context English dry preaching (as some of my Epistemology lectures finally end up for the BPh students at DVK!).
After a simple meal, typical of an Indian Ashram, I spent a couple of hours with the Baba. He shared with me his cherished dreams in connection with Darsanalaya Ashram and his healing ministry. Though at times he mentioned in passing some of his frustrations in the ministry, by and large he cultivates a very positive outlook on all that happens and takes everything in the providential plan of God.
One of his dreams is to establish a network of healing ministry all through the 300 and odd villages of Faridabad district of Haryana. His plan is to train at least one person from each village in herbal medicine, who would be, in turn, equipped to cater to the health needs of the people of the locality in a cost effective manner, which is certainly a way of healing closer to the nature. In order to realize this dream project he hopes to receive some funding (which he thinks would not be that difficult, as the Delhi diocesan authorities have shown keen interest in the same). However, as this would involve a lot of office work and wide range of organization, Baba hopes that the authorities would provide him someone with expertise along that line. Once such a priest is available to organize the project details, he assures that it could be easily worked out and people in every locality of Faridabad could be networked and helped for a healthy life in the natural way.
Another dream that Fr. Aji shared with me is the possibility of a regular and ongoing training in herbal medicine arranged under the auspices of our CMI Secretariat for Social Apostolate. Fr. Aji hopes that the expertise of our own members and other religious engaged in this field could easily be tapped and information could be disseminated for the greater good of the people spread all through our missions in different parts of India. As his Ashram is located in an interior place that may not be easily accessible to all, Baba’s proposal is to arrange it by a central agency, which would also be better coordinated and effectively managed, again, for the greater good of the people and our mission.
I was pleasantly surprised by the information that Darsanalaya is a registered charitable society with an aim of imparting inclusive human growth in Faridabad district. Its main activity, as of now, is extending financial assistance to a group of 130+ students – both for school education in Hindi and English medium schools and for the higher education of students from the surrounding villages. Funds for this noble mission are collected through the goodwill of the families of his treated patients and well-wishers of the movement that he has initiated. As they come to know the life and mission of Fr. Aji and the thrusts of Darsanalaya Ashram, he told me, people are overwhelmingly generous to sponsor one student’s education. Further, he has also devised an ingenious method of placing a box for coins in the families of his friends and associates (after the model of ‘pidiyari’ introduced by our Blessed Founder Father Chavara). He attests to the fact that it has been a successful experiment and has been a substantial source of scholarship for the village children. Maybe, that is yet another model that could be inspirational to a lot of our social uplift programmes which could be funded from our own indigenous sources.
During the day, there was a couple from Delhi, the wife working for a foreign university that has its national office in Delhi and the husband working for an MNC but simultaneously engaged in photography, sculpture, and cinematography. Incidentally, the lady is a patient of Fr. Aji and had been relieved of her chronic asthma. After the effective treatment, they come and spend their weekends at the Ashram. This young man, Mr. Ashok Sadan and Mr. Anil Kumar, along with Fr. Aji, are jointly involved in producing a couple of films of social interest. Though not made with commercials interest, they hope to get wider screening for their forthcoming movie, “What” (a multi-lingual movie, to be released by the end of 2008). Apart from these, Mr. Ashok has produced a very short film of five minutes on Fr. Aji, title “The Companion: True Tale of a Young Sage.” It is scheduled to be screened in Italy in a two months’ time (It is good to recall that Mr. Ashok’s two movies were awarded the best short film by the same Italian agency in consecutive years). It is a five minutes long movie and, as I watched it on the Ashram’s computer, it tries to catch glimpses into the person and mission of the Baba of Chandpur.
As all these unravel, Fr. Aji is intensely aware of the need of silence, personal prayer and meditation, and ongoing updating of spiritual as well as medical knowledge. As the number of patients increases and as the medical and social activism gets intense and demanding, he feels the need to withdraw more into the interior of his own self. However, as his treatment is found to be doing a lot of good to the people and as he is able to light up the lives of many, who had lost their hope due to incurable diseases and were unable to lead a normal life, it is his wish that some others from our own communities would take up this mission.
Baba also shared with me a couple of invitations or inquiries he has received from diocesan and religious authorities to be part of the Ashram movements already initiated in their localities. Although some of these invitations are close to his heart and are constantly tempting him, he does not plan to abandon Chandpur, his first successful and acclaimed experiment.
In view of further enhancing his mission, Baba is involved in an ongoing search for new wisdom – both in the field of spiritual experience and medical expertise. His readiness to study from anyone is worth mentioning. He is ready to listen with an open mind and heart, and is also ready to share his knowledge with others with an equal interest to invite and enable them to enhance the horizons of Christian mission. An emerging wish is to involve in scientific study of herbal medicine, which he hopes will earn him an academic degree that would technically qualify him to practice medicine without any legal hurdle. Moreover, such a credential is necessary in the modern world of medical expertise, as anything untoward happening to any particular patient could lead to the jeopardizing of his very mission in the rural areas. He told me that he has approached the authorities for necessary permissions and, if granted eventually, he hopes to undertake serious study of herbal medicine, but without relinquishing his commitment to the Chandpur mission. As a foreign university has already shown interest in his new treatment theory, he also has hopes that their positive acclaim would eventually come handy in this direction. May the academic and scientific studies of Baba contribute to the widening of his mission horizons and deepening of his apostolic commitment!
I was amazed to see the media attention that Fr. Aji has received in the recent past. As his services are recognized by the wider public, media has taken interest in his achievements; most of the published or telecasted entries highlight both his person and his services to the underprivileged of Chandpur and surrounding villages. He has already received positive coverage in newspapers such as Hindustan Times, Malayala Manorama, and Mathrubhoomi. He was also interviewed by TV channels, such as Kairali, Asianet, and Jaihind. As there is growing interest in his mission, even BBC has started to survey his services and conducts research into his new theory, treatment procedures, etc. In an era of media might, it is indeed worth the trouble that his services are receiving wider coverage in various media networks. Indeed, I wish that such openings would give his mission more penetration to the unknown areas and accessibility to wider resources.
As the next day started, I could see people coming to the Ashram. There were more people from the locality visiting Baba for his advice both on health issues and other matters, as they value his advices very much. It was a Saturday: young boys and girls, again, started to come from Chandpur village for their study purpose. Some of them sat under the neem trees and others took their place on the front portion of the Baba Kutteer, where Bro. Jerrys usually gives his instruction in English language. All of them come again and again to the Ashram premises, as they find the atmosphere suitable for their studies and silent reading.
There was also another group of people coming from Faridabad, requesting Baba’s assistance to settle issues related to land purchase. As I learned from them, some legal complications arose as some of their purchased land had been occupied by the villagers; they know that getting rid of them is not easy. As they believe that only Baba could talk to both the parties in a reasonable manner to bring about a peaceful settlement, they continue to press him to get involved. I was happy to observe that, responding to their positive request, Baba is confident that he could resolve the issues after talking to the concerned persons, though it would require more time and patient persuading. Appreciable, indeed, is the social standing of the Baba of Chandpur in the locality!
By noon, there were more patients from Delhi. As Fr. Aji puts it, it is usual for a good number of families (of the already treated patients) to drive to Darsanalaya Ashram during their weekends, participate in the prayers and other Ashram activities, visit the neighbouring institutions of the destitutes, relax a day or two by spending time away from the busy schedule of their Delhi city life, then, being refreshed and relaxed, return to their homes by Sunday evening. Apart from offering them a chance for relaxation, over these four years, such informal visits, Fr. Aji claims, have built up a community of friends and well-wishers of the Ashram. Such a network is the strength of Darsanalaya, as they always feel one with him in his healing ministry and services to the people around.
As it was time for me to pack off, Baba instructed me as to how to practice certain steps of yoga that would positively help in maintaining my health. He insists that yoga can do wonders, but only by feeling the pulse of the body itself. “Do not stretch beyond what your body lets you; do not force your body in adopting various postures; then, naturally, yoga would gradually aid your health – both of the mind and body.” Even as he was instructing me, Rev. Dr. George P. G. (Rector of the neighbouring Dharma Jyothi Vidya Peeth, Marthoma Theological Seminary) joined us. Fr. George is a friend of Darsanalaya; moreover, he and his seminarians take Baba’s treatment. He claimed that the arrival and setting up of Darsanalaya Ashram is so providential that he claimed that “God does not abandon us! He provides everything we need, in time!” On that day, he brought one of his old servants to be treated. As we talked, I understood that Baba is not only a medical adviser to the Marthoma Seminary; to them, he is mainly the professor of yoga and Indian philosophy. On a regular basis, he also finds time to offer them personal spiritual counselling, which is otherwise not part of their training process. Whenever there is a need, Fr. Aji is ready to extend help to the institute, both by way of offering theological classes and in helping out in administration, as the need arises: certainly, this ecumenical thrust and availability are very much conducive to the spirit of Darsanalaya and the mission of Isai Baba of Chandpur.
Earlier, Fr. Aji had promised to take me to the seminary campus, and he did take me in the afternoon. It is said to be one of the first Marthoma seminaries built outside Kerala, offering systematic theological training to would be pastors of their church. A campus with about 30 priestly candidates, situated in the interior of a Haryana village, is found to be well set for the purpose. As we engaged in conversation with the rector, Fr. George, I found his theological reflections quite enlightening, as he tries to relate the text and context of each biblical passage with the text and context of the present social living, thus making his interpretations quite vibrant and relevant. His wish to launch a new department of theology to study biblical and theological nuances of immigrants and emigrants – especially from the vantage points of Keralites’ constantly moving out to all parts of the globe and the new influx of people from other parts of the county to Kerala in the recent past – seems to be a new step in the right direction.
On our way back to the Ashram campus, Baba greeted many people on the streets, mostly of the village, and they all greeted him in return: it included young and old, rich and poor, sick and healthy. A tractor stopped by, and a group of youngsters conversed with him for a short while; I could see their faces lighting up as they talked to Baba. As they left, Fr. Aji told me the story of their immense gratitude for what he had done to them when the Chandpur village was literally on the fire of communal strife. A couple of years ago, when someone slaughtered a cow which was eventually found out, there arose bitter animosity between the Hindus and Muslims. As some of the right wing Hindus were out for the blood of the Muslims, the hapless community, especially women and children had no safe place to go. Sensing the need of the hour, Isai Baba took the risk of taking a group of more than forty persons, including women, children, and sick and gave them shelter till the animosity subsided. He took the risk with the God-given assurance that they are safe in his Ashram: Darsanalaya literally turned out to be the “saranalaya” for all of them. This instance has made Baba to be equally acceptable to the Muslim community, as they realized that he is interested in their wellbeing and safety as well. Interestingly, it was after all these incidents that the VHP ‘friends’ of Isai Baba built up and donated the Baba Kutteer in Darsanalaya Ashram in 2006: a winning lap for inter-religious harmony in Chandpur village.
In all, as someone involved in equipping the missionaries of the Word for the wider world by being a teacher of philosophy in the seminary context, I felt so proud of the person of Fr. Aji and the institution of Darsanalaya Ashram. Started from scratches four years ago, immediately after his priestly ordination, Fr. Aji has converted a piece of plain land, almost without any vegetation and structures around, into a haven of comfort and solace to hundreds of people. It is not merely the ingenuity and herbal expertise of its founder director that has made Darsanalaya what it is today; in fact, I for one would appreciate the hard and earnest tapasya that was and is behind the entire project. Today, in 2008, as this centre receives a lot of public acclaim, both from the neighbouring villages and the patients from Delhi, it is easy for one to accord appreciation and recognition. The initial stages of working in a no-man’s land, having no address as to claim any authority that any Catholic institution would bring with it, Fr. Aji had to sweat it out through his ingenious methods of offering personality development and yoga courses in the schools of Faridabad city. Even that was only the scratches with which he began. Now, having made a lasting impact upon the minds and hearts of hundreds of people in a locality where many other missionaries have not succeeded, Fr. Aji has claimed for himself the title that spontaneously flowed from the experience of the people of the surrounding villages: our Isai Baba! For them, this Baba speaks to them – in their language and idioms – the greatest truths of Jesus, the supreme Guru, whom Fr. Aji has accepted as the cornerstone and epitome of his mission, that ranges from teaching yoga to students in the schools or colleges, extending educational help to the children in the neighbouring villages, social uplift programmes of different kinds, or taking care of the sick through his herbal treatment procedures. It is, indeed, great an achievement that needs a lot of acclaim and continued support.
A great sense of mumukshutva (longing for eternal liberation) is found both in the person and mission of Fr. Aji. It is for the liberation and redemption of all through ongoing integration: loka samgraha. The motto of Darsanalaya Ashram, as it is inscribed in the logo, reads: “with the people and for the goodness.” That is, instead of remaining passively contented with what comes with one’s fate and the provisions of the religious community, Baba plans out his life in detail making sure that his personal liberation in Jesus effects also the best possible liberation of the people around him, although the path is tough and demanding. It does not leave any room for complacency; it is a costly discipleship that can be gained by one’s readiness to embrace losses and the lost. For any Christian, then, to attain the final liberation, one has to develop a vision and design a mission in tune with that of Jesus, the Master who stood for regaining the lost and reinstating the losses of the downtrodden and the marginalized. He hopes that this great sense of mumukshutva is reinstated into the vicissitudes of Christian missionary activity all through the Indian subcontinent so that the recent spurt of violence against missionaries could be contained, not necessarily by convincing the politicians, but by enabling the people of the country to realize the ultimate goal for which we all live and work for.
As I finally left the Ashram, back to Bangalore (my lectures were to resume on the following Monday), I boarded the Bangalore bound train with a contented heart and mind, and better prospects for better health. As the whole story unfolded, I found the visit was more rewarding than a mere visit to a hospital or dispensary, which I was originally planning for. The ambience of Darsanalaya Ashram, the person of Fr. Aji, and the services of other members in the Ashram really touched my heart and elevated my spirits. A young CMI religious with a definitive sense of his God-given mission, Isai Baba of Chandpur, indeed, is an exception among many religious and priests of our times. His incredible achievements within such a short span of time is certainly a challenge to many; as his mission has become a beacon in the lives of many desperate people both in the village of Chandpur and in and around Delhi, it beckons us to be innovative as well as available in the mission that we undertake for the Lord and his people. Nothing comes free of cost! Christian discipleship in its true form is literally costly and demanding to the core. May the path of mission that Fr. Aji Parekattil, the Isai Baba of Chandpur, has opened up for him in the last four years take him far ahead in making himself rooted in the Word and available to the world! Let his dedicated life and healing mission remain an inspiration for treading the narrow path of the one who has opened up the new horizons of holistic healing for humanity and the entire creation.
To contact Fr. Aji (“Isai Baba of Chandpur”):
Rev. Fr. Aji Sebastian Parekattil CMI
Faridabad 121 004