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A Wonderful Journey of Striving for Oneself and Others

Krishnan Sinniah and Deswari Veerasamy, Penang

Krishnan and Deswari's sincere efforts for the happiness of others caused beautiful blossoms of good fortune to flower in their lives. As a family, they strove to realise the first of Soka Gakkai’s five eternal guidelines, which is ‘Faith for a harmonious family’.

Krishnan and Deswari are a married couple passionate in driving Kosen-rufu activities locally. How did the pair of Penangites encounter this Buddhist practice? Was their journey always smooth sailing? Read on to find out!

Gopalakrishnan Sinniah (Krishnan) and his wife, Shamundeswari Veerasamy (Deswari) shared similar backgrounds in their childhood. Both experienced the loss of their parents during their teenage years and were raised by their elder siblings.

In Deswari’s case, she tragically lost both her parents at a young age. It was her eldest sister, Pathmani, who introduced her to the practice of chanting Nam-myho-renge-kyo.

In 1996, Krishnan and Deswari crossed paths as colleagues. Deswari then introduced Krishnan to Buddhism and took him to activities at the SGM Penang Culture Centre, now known as the Soka Peace Centre Malaysia (SPCM).

Recalling his first visit, Krishnan said, “I felt very welcomed. SGM members greeted me with warm smiles and were courteous”. He began chanting daimoku (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) for 30 minutes and felt a profound sense of inner happiness he had never known before. This marked the beginning of Krishnan’s practice and participation in SGM activities.

Over the next few years, Krishnan enshrined the Gohonzon and they decided to tie the knot in an SGM wedding ceremony, becoming the first Indian couple to do so at the SPCM.

Penang Krishnan and Deswari

Giving Up on a Dream – and then Seeing it Come True!

Their marriage life was filled with dynamic Kosen-rufu activities, as they led the Amala Group, a gathering of Indian-ethnic SGM members who conducted meetings primarily in Tamil. Two years later, they decided to start their own family, but were met with tribulations.

Despite being young and healthy, they faced difficulties conceiving and endured two painful miscarriages. Deswari recalled, “It was a very painful, crushing experience. People started avoiding us after learning about my miscarriage”. This made their loss even more unbearable.

Instead of lamenting their fate, the couple chose to engage in sincere prayers and meaningful dialogues, providing encouragement to each other and to others. Their dedication to helping others enabled them to comprehend the deeper purpose behind their challenges.

As the years passed, Deswari came to terms with the possibility that she might never become a mother. However, just as Nichiren Buddhism refers to ‘myo‘ as signifying mystical or wonderful, something wonderfully unexpected did happen!

After 12 years of being married, Deswari finally conceived and gave birth to their daughter Krishdeshwini (Deshwini) in 2012. Two years later, their son Krishdeshwan (Deshwan) was born. Their dream of starting a family was fulfilled.

President Ikeda wrote: “In the endeavour to spread Nichiren Buddhism, actions arising from our sincere wish to help others and teach them the greatness of the Mystic Law bring immense benefit and good fortune to fill our lives.” Their sincere efforts for the happiness of others caused beautiful blossoms of good fortune to flower in their lives. As a family, they strove to realise the first of Soka Gakkai’s five eternal guidelines, which is ‘Faith for a harmonious family’.

In 2016, both husband and wife dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to preparing for an opening performance at the SGM Penang Culture Centre. As coordinators and choreographers of the Amala Group, they juggled their time between their regular jobs and dance practices while managing ongoing SGM activities. Unexpectedly, their children fell ill and had to be hospitalised due to a viral fever. However, they did not waver in their resolve and continued to pray with unwavering faith.

As a result, the centre’s grand opening was a tremendous success, and their children made a full recovery. This incident profoundly strengthened their belief in this Buddhist practice.

Penang Krishnan and Deswari

Slammed Hard by Misfortune

Like many others, they were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some years earlier, Deswari had stopped working while Krishnan supported the family with his job in the hospitality industry. However, even with the generous tips he received, it was challenging to save or meet all their financial obligations.

The family began to face financial difficulties when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented, leading to a reduction in Krishnan’s income. Most distressingly, despite his consistent record at work, Krishnan lost his job due to a misunderstanding. Despite this significant setback, he persisted in giving his all as the emcee at the Amala Group anniversary meeting the very next day.

To make ends meet, Deswari, fortunately, found employment at a daycare centre, while Krishnan started offering transportation services. They continued striving boldly in their Buddhist practice and supporting their fellow members.

A Fresh Start

About two months later, Krishnan was assigned to oversee a factory café that serves 2,000 workers daily. During the holidays when there was a staff shortage, his workload significantly increased. Despite the stress, he overcame the challenges by chanting abundant Daimoku and excelled in his work performance. Within six months, he was rapidly promoted to the position of canteen manager with an income sufficient to pay off the family’s debts.

Regard Suffering and Joy as Facts of Life

Over the years, they have introduced Nichiren Buddhism to over 15 people. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, they helped organise online Amala meetings. Although there were only a handful of attendees at the beginning, their remarkable efforts saw more than 100 people participating in the Amala anniversary commemorative meeting.

Recounting their favourite Gosho passage, ‘Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.’(WND-1, pg 681), Deswari mentioned that she used to blame others for her misfortunes before practising Buddhism, but now she takes full responsibility for her own destiny. Likewise, Krishna has transformed his short temper and is able to look at all situations in a positive light. They resolved to overcome all challenges through faith and human revolution.

With unwavering determination, the couple continues their wonderful journey of striving for the happiness of self and others.

Adapted from Cosmic March 2022

Siow Yoon Kee had a long-standing ambition to become a doctor since his secondary school days. However, his motivation to save lives had not taken deep root.

During his college years, he battled gastrointestinal diseases and sought medical treatment from numerous doctors but to no avail. Coupled with a demanding schedule, he experienced immense stress and despair, even contemplating ending his life. Eventually, through the power of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (daimoku), he realised that his illness was a consequence of an irregular lifestyle, and acknowledged his own arrogance and negligence in his faith. This profound experience led to a shift in his perspective on the purpose of becoming a doctor.

After graduating, he was filled with joy and excitement on his first day of work, being addressed as a doctor. However, that excitement didn’t last. The overwhelming workload, long hours, and the constant fear of being reprimanded for mistakes quickly diminished his initial joy. As a result, the tough realities of the job made him less motivated and less excited about the work he had to do.

Yoon Kee reflected, “I would feel annoyed by patients, especially during night shifts when they complained of pain. I would question them with a skeptical tone. It seemed like I had become a terrible doctor, losing my passion for the job. During those unpleasant days, it was through repeatedly chanting the daimoku that I gradually reflected on my own attitude.”

“I recall a training session for the Beacon Group, a medical group within Soka Gakkai Malaysia, where our seniors encouraged us to face the Gohonzon with our most authentic selves. Inspired by their guidance, I wholeheartedly put it into practice and truly felt the profound joy that daimoku brings. Chanting the daimoku is indeed the greatest of all joys.”

Doctor Siow Yoon Kee

The power of daimoku awakened a profound sense of compassion in Yoon Kee, inspiring him to strive in his human revolution and towards becoming a doctor who could genuinely listen to his patients’ voices.

“After a change in mindset, it was incredible how I found myself wanting to treat patients like family and making an effort to truly listen to their words. My colleagues also noticed that I was more energetic and confident.”

However, transformation takes time and effort. Yoon Kee realised that the biggest hurdle for a doctor is their own sense of superiority. Therefore, his aim was to cultivate resilience and to serve selflessly without seeking personal gain. With the goal of becoming a skilled listener, step by step he made steady progress.

“Once, there was a patient in the final stages of cancer who told me he felt hungry and wanted something to eat. Although I was busy with work, I took a couple of minutes to feed the patient before tending to other patients and resuming my duties. Sadly, the patient passed away thirty minutes later. It was a moment that made me appreciate the power and significance of chanting daimoku, as it enabled me to be there at a crucial time and fulfill the patient’s last wish.

“On another occasion, there was a patient who complained to me, pointing out, “You see, my hands are still swollen, and the medication you prescribed is not effective!” In that moment, I patiently reassured the patient, emphasizing the importance of trusting in the medication’s effectiveness. I assured them that if they maintained their belief, they would experience improvement quickly. As a result, after a few days, the patient’s hand recovered, and the swelling subsided.”

Yoon Kee’s transformation became increasingly apparent over time. Through the practice of faith, he has been forged into becoming a doctor with a sense of mission who confronts the challenges of society with determination. While he humbly recognizes his own areas for growth, he consistently emphasises his resolute dedication to becoming a proficient listener and continuously improving himself.

Adapted from Cosmic May 2017