Venu: Enthusiasm and Cheerfulness Personified By Arpan
I met Venu when we were both relatively young disciples of Sri Chinmoy in the mid-1970’s. He was in the San Francisco Centre in California on the West Coast of the U.S. and I was in the Connecticut Centre on the East Coast. We got to know each other mostly through the activities during the Celebrations that happened twice a year since 1972. We both liked to sing Guru’s songs and sang in various events, sometimes together. But the thing that we shared the most was our love of running and racing.
Venu was quite intense and disciplined when it came to training for marathons and other tough events. But he was enthusiastically appreciative of others when they trained and tried their hardest, no matter what the result. Even when he was bested in a race by others, Venu would be so happy and congratulate everyone, even though they had performed better than he did.
Venu had a keen understanding of two very important aspects of Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy: Enthusiasm and Self-Transcendence. He was always enthusiastically smiling and encouraging others, even if they performed poorly. I know he worked quite hard at his own progress in training for events, so he could experience the joy of self-transcendence, competing with himself instead of trying to beat others.
Even though I did not work with Venu, as we lived so far apart, it seemed to me that his work ethic was the same as his training ethic: he tried his hardest to do the best he could. I knew that even through his illness and into his last days, he was serious about trying to train for the next swim-run competition which he loved to participate in down in San Diego.
My most lasting impression about Venu, though, was when he was terminally ill and being treated quite intensely for his cancer. I was running in the 3100 Mile Race in New York in the summer of 2012. We had a number of conversations during the race by mobile phone. He called me once and I called him a few times, as well. He never complained about his illness or pain, but instead, wanted to know how I was doing and how I felt. He was as enthusiastic and humorous as he always had been through the years when he was robust and healthy and fit. He only cared to share positive thoughts and feelings with a devotional and sincere attitude. I happened to talk to him the day before he passed away and still he was so encouraging and positive about everything we had talked about. He had never given up his enthusiastic and cheerful attitude towards his life or others’ lives, even in his final moments.
I am so glad to have been friends with Venu and can still feel his cheerful, enthusiastic encouragement, especially when training and racing, which was also one of his true joys in life.