If a tragedy strikes when one is at the peak of their career and life, usually, most would succumb to it blaming karma, fate, and the stars. All around, we have examples of people leading a miserable life after an accident, terminal illness, or break-up in a relationship. However, there are extraordinary individuals, who, transcending their misfortune, use it as a launchpad to transform themselves and uplift others.
One such unique soul, who has turned a catastrophe into an opportunity, is Shri Shekaripuram Kailasam Jayakumar, founder of the Sai Paduka Yoga and Spiritual Study Centre (SPYSSC), Bengaluru. His remarkable life story fills one with awe and admiration.
Born in 1954 in Palakkad, Kerala, Shri Jayakumar was a brilliant student, winning gold medals in school and college. His Upanayana (sacred thread ceremony) was performed in the presence of the late Sathya Sai Baba, and after graduating in Chemistry with a Packaging Technology degree from the United Kingdom, he served as an executive for Brooke Bond and Hindustan Lever in different parts of India. However, at the age of 47 (in 2002), when declared totally blind, instead of surrendering to providence, he took a firm decision to transform himself with the systematic study of Vedanta and other spiritual texts.
Like Ekalavya of the Mahabharata, Shri Jayakumar, as a distant learner, for a decade, using audio appliances, persistently studied the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Brahmasutra, and other texts (about 10,000 hours—nearly a hundred thousand pages) of late Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Swami Paramarthananda, his senior disciple, eventually attaining Brahmanishtha (Godrealisation.) In his case, the adage, ‘the blind leading the blind,’ often used in a negative sense, turned out to be literally true as he has been guiding hundreds of seekers to lead a peaceful, happy, purposeful, and contented life.
About his book, Own Your Self and Enjoy Completeness: The Manual on Self Knowledge, based on the scriptures, renowned Vedanta teacher late Swami Dayananda Saraswati said, “This is a unique presentation of the subject of Self-knowledge. You have grasped the matter well. You could present the subject in the light of science.” He has also compiled a series of pocket booklets on Mind Management Techniques (MMT) and has developed the Comprehensive Health Educational Curriculum based on Ashtanga Yoga. His talks, ‘Vedanta Simplified for my Productive and Happy Life,’ on YouTube, are very popular.
The centre has now become a foremost institution in India and has received several awards and recognitions, including the Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Award for distinguished service to the nation and the Bharat Excellence Award. Jayakumar is settled in Bengaluru with his wife Mahalakshmi J K, a yoga instructor, their only daughter, Sai Darshana, and Jawahar Narayan, their son-in-law.
When I met Shri Jayakumar in December 2019, we became very close instantly, as if we knew each other for ages! Since then, on several occasions, as if to a younger brother, he patiently answered my questions on life and spirituality in lengthy conversations over the phone. Once, about the goal of life, he said, “In human life alone, using free will, one can realize his swarupa (real nature), by a systematic study of the scriptures with the help of a teacher who has not only studied the scriptures but also lived the teachings to realise himself.” Thanks to his inspiration, I started seriously pursuing Vedantic studies. Due to the sudden spread of the pandemic, the interview with Shri Jayakumar happened online.
Q. Jayakumarji, please tell us about your spiritual journey?
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