On 31 August, SNM held a floral tribute at SNM Nursing Home for the late Major (Retd.) Ishwar Lall Singh, who passed away earlier that month.

The tribute was attended by family members of Mr. Lall Singh, fellow veterans of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and SNM’s Residents’ Committee, along with H.E Mr. P. Kumaran, High Commissioner of India to Singapore, who shared a few words before placing the flower wreath.

The tribute saw two nations coming together – Singapore and India to honour the memory of the great man whose service in the Indian National Army (INA) help achieve the long-cherished dream of India’s Independence. His subsequent contributions in the SAF when it was founded helped transform 2 infantry battalions to what it is today.

The regimental quick march of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army song ‘Qadam Qadam Badhaye Ja’ was played at the tribute followed by the Singapore Infantry Regiment March.

We at SNM would like to thank everyone for taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend this tribute.

ഇതിലേ നടന്നവര്‍

ഇതിലേ നടന്നവര്‍,
മായാത്ത പദമുദ്ര
വീഴ്ത്തിയീ വഴികളി –
ലൂടേ നടന്നവര്‍,

തപ്തമീ മണ്ണിന്‍റെ
പൊള്ളുന്ന ദുഃഖങ്ങള്‍
സ്വന്തമാത്മാവിലേയ്‌ –

തിരയുള്ള, ചുഴിയുള്ള
കടലിന്‍റെ നടുവിലൂ –
ടൊരു നീലരാത്രിയില്‍
എതിരേ തുഴഞ്ഞവര്‍,

അലിവിന്‍റെ നനവുള്ള
വിരല്‍ മുദ്ര ചാര്‍ത്തിയീ
വഴികളിലിന്നലെ –
യെങ്ങോ മറഞ്ഞവര്‍,

ഒരു നാദധാരയില്‍
സ്വരരാഗ ഗംഗയില്‍
ഒരു നേര്‍ത്ത ലയമാ –
യലിഞ്ഞങ്ങു ചേര്‍ന്നവര്‍,

അവര്‍ പണ്ടു പാടിയ
പഴയ ഗാനങ്ങളെ
അറിയാതെ ഞാനിരിക്കുന്നു.

അവരാണു തന്നതെ –
ന്നോര്‍മ്മകള്‍ക്കീമഴ –
വില്ലെന്നു ഞാനറിഞ്ഞില്ല.

അവരാണു തന്നതെന്‍
കൈകളിലീമുള –
ന്തണ്ടെന്നു ഞാനറിഞ്ഞില്ല.

അവരാണു തന്നതെന്‍
അതു ഞാനറിഞ്ഞതേയില്ല.

അതു മാത്രമാണു ഞാനറിവൂ –
അതുമാത്രം …അതുമാത്രം…അറിവൂ.•

The Mirror does not speak,
But you can hear what it says,
It speaks to your soul
Through that unbroken gaze
Your conscience laid bare,
Through that reflection there,
Four values that remind anew,
That it must begin with you

One Night, On The Last Train To Jurong

By G. P. Sasidharan

Hurrying through an unusually quiet Raffles Place,
I descended the steep and silent escalator,
to the cavernous belly of the station;
knowing that the last train to Jurong,
would soon be approaching.
I looked up and murmured in relief.
“Ah! Three more minutes.”
Settling on a concrete bench,
I looked around. Two metres away,
stood an old man, fidgeting,
seemingly impatient to get home.
Nearby, two ‘executives’, brief cases in hand,
engaged in an animated, but whispered chat.
As the train arrived and doors slid open,
we hurried into the last coach.
The doors began to slide shut,
as a young couple rushed in,
giggling and hugging each other.
Settling on the vacant seats opposite
and ignoring all else,
they whispered, kissed and cuddled,
as the old man promptly dozed off.

The train sped on,
stopping at stations,
disgorging and picking up weary commuters.
The speeding train kept the couple busy,
as the ‘busy executives’ gazed at them,
grinning, nodding and shaking their heads.
Arriving at Braddell, the old man woke,on cue,
and shuffled out, as the doors opened.
As the train slowed and stopped at Bishan,
the ‘executives’ alighted, albeit reluctantly.
The young man smiled at me.
Returning the gesture, I nodded
as the train sped on.
On reaching Canberra, I stood up,
muttered, “Good night!” and
began the short stroll home.

Reflections and Milestones of the SNM

By R Asokan

I have always been active with the Sree Narayana Mission (SNM) ever since I was a schoolboy. I joined as a Life Member in March 1972 while I was doing my National Service.  The subscription fee for Life Membership was $50 then and it was a one-off payment while Ordinary membership was pegged at $6 per annum. I was elected into the SNM Executive Committee on 5 February 1978 and continued to serve until 30 June 2002.  I like to take this opportunity to reminisce and share some of my fond memories of SNM activities. 

Flag Day

In May 1961, the SNM staged its first Flag Day and it so happened to fall on a Saturday. In those days, Saturdays were school days so I had to obtain parental permission to not attend school that day. My sister and I started our collection of donations in the Nee Soon Area early in the morning and we were accompanied by an adult volunteer. We had to carry a tin for the collection of coins (sometimes dollars!).  A box, containing saffron paper badges bearing the message of Sree Narayana Guru, was hung around our necks. There were many students like us collecting donations all around Singapore. The street collection came to an end at about 6.00 p.m. and the total collection raised for the day was about $8000!

Onam and Guru Birthday Celebrations 

In 1965, the SNM hosted a week-long Onam and Guru Birthday celebrations from the 6 to 12 September. At that time, the Sree Narayana Mission was located at 48 Soon Keat Road, in Sembawang. A public forum, with distinguished speakers, was held on the last day which served as a befitting climax. I was a student at the Naval Base Secondary School and I attended the event with my father.

The event became part of the annals of the SNM as it was the first public engagement made by founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew after Singapore gained independence on 9th August that year. He had visited the SNM previously in 1963 as part of an Elections campaign and would later attend the Onam and Guru Birthday celebrations again in 1967.

As guest of honour, Mr Lee arrived at the venue at 11 a.m on 12 September 1967 and addressed the crowd after the welcome addresses by then General Secretary Mr Devadasa Panniker and by Mr M K Bhasi, who was the SNM President at the time. Mr Lee spoke in both Malay and English. He spoke with clarity and passion and the large audience (mostly comprising Indians) listened with rapt attention. He left at 12.30 p.m., after presenting bursaries worth $100 each to ten students.  

Students’ Forum

The first public forum for students was held during the Guru’s Birthday on Sunday, 13 September 1970. It was the first of the many such forums and youth camps to be held.  The theme of the forum was “The Conflict of Generations”.  The Patron of the Sree Narayana Mission and Member of Parliament (MP) for Sembawang, Mr Teong Eng Siong, was present while the Guest of Honour was Inche Mohd Ghazali Ismail, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. The Forum was well attended by many pre-university students from various schools in Singapore. The panel of speakers comprised of Dr Sharon Ahmat, Dr Gwee Ah Leng, Mr G. G. Thomson, Mr Gerald D’Cruz and Dr Nalla Tan.  It started at 6.00 p.m. and it was a lively session with active student participation, which ended at 9.00 p.m.


The Concert

On Sunday, 27 June 1976, an international “All Stars ’76 Charity Show” was organised to raise funds for the Sree Narayana Mission Building Fund at the National Theatre. Resident bands from some of the best hotels performed together during the evening with the likes of Alley Cats from Malaysia, Sweet Charity from Singapore, The New Minstrels from Philippines, Casino from Indonesia, Shiners from New Zealand, Talisman from Karachi, etc.  The National Theatre was packed with a young boisterous crowd and the event was sponsored by Texwood Jeans.

Home for the Aged

By end of 1978, the Government’s Bases Economic Conversion Division offered the Mission’s management with a two double-storied brick building at 87 & 89 Canberra Road, to manage a Home for the Aged. The Home started operations on 18 February 1979 with four residents. A “Sree Narayana Mission Home for the Aged Fund” was also launched. We had a dedicated volunteer doctor in Dr Seng Kwang Meng, who used to see the residents of the Home regularly. Another doctor who helped for many years during the early years was Dr Nadarajan, who used to run a clinic in Sembawang.

By October 1980 there were 51 residents living in the Home and some of them helped the Mission during the annual Flag Days. There used to be many visitors, volunteers and other well-wishers at the Home. Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, then a Member of Parliament (MP) for Sembawang, used to visit the Home during the Chinese New Year celebrations to distribute ‘hongbaos’ to the residents. He also declared the Canberra premises officially opened on 22 February 1981, at a ceremony well attended by members of the Mission. The Home remained in this location until 22 October 1983.

On 23 October 1983, the SNM was shifted to a new premise at the former Sembawang Hospital. Some 50 members of the Singapore Armed Forces and 200 members of Chong Hua Tong Tou Teck Hwee, a Chinese Association, joined hands in assisting with the shifting operations. The new premises were completed in June 1993 and residents were moved into the new Home on 6 February 1994.

These are some of my reflections on the journey of Sree Narayana Mission which I have treasured all these years. I am so proud to be part of the SNM traditions, culture, activities and monumental development while walking in the footsteps of my late parents, who were pioneers in the 1950s. 


Happy 74th Anniversary to us!


To commemorate the start of our 75th anniversary, we organised a Heritage Walk for our members and staff this morning. Joining us were also volunteers from SNM Youth, Agilent Technologies (Singapore), Red Cross First Aid Volunteers, SNM Individual Volunteers, who braved the morning sun with us.


The walk trailed from the Momentary Monument, where Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew made his first public appearance after his televised public announcement of Singapore’s separation from Malaysia on 9th August 1965. His appearance on 12 September 1965 was made at the former Sree Narayana Mission, which stood at No. 48 Soon Keat Road, where he delivered his clarion ‘Never Fear’ call to all Singaporeans. Today, this spot is marked by the Momentary Monument, which currently stands at 313 Sembawang Drive.


Joining us in the leisure walk this morning, were a cheerful group of 75 participants, who walked 7.5km to usher in our 75th year of service to the community. The walk trails from the monument to the site of SNM’s second nursing home along Yishun Ave 6 before ending at our existing nursing home at Yishun Ave 5.


“It was great seeing members and stakeholders of SNM of all ages coming together for the SNM 75th Anniversary Heritage Walk. Volunteering for this event gave me the chance to see some of the members I had not seen in a long time. Just seeing the smiles on their faces and feeling their energy made it all worthwhile.”, said Mr Sudhesh, an SNM EXCO member, who is also part of SNM’s Youth Group.


Ms Celia from Agilent Technologies Singapore said “It has been an honour to be able to participate in the SNM 75th anniversary walkathon as road marshals. The team in SNM coordinated the event very well. It is great to see all the smiling and happy faces during the walk and very fulfilling day indeed!”


Our celebrations also provided our participants the opportunity to do voluntary service, where they put their hands together to clean some of the residents’ wheelchairs.


Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development, also graced our event as Guest-of-Honour and shared words of appreciation for the contributions of SNM to the community over the last 74 years. The event concluded with a sweet serving of cake for all and our Resident’s Committee Chairman, Mr Eric Lim, presented a token of appreciation to Assoc Prof Dr Faishal Ibrahim.

Message of Resilience

Mr Pradeep started his career with Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore) in 2007. In 2009, he returned home to get married. After his marriage, he asked SNM for the opportunity to rejoin the organization; they agreed as his work performance had been excellent.

He is currently a healthcare supervisor and a duty officer who oversees a multi-national healthcare team.

When COVID-19 landed on our shores, he realised that this situation would be tough for the staff who can’t be with their families. Many of his healthcare staff try to be on the phone as much as possible with their families in their free time. Many of them faced the grim prospect of having to choose either their work or their family, but in the end, all of them stayed on as they must support their own families who are far away. This was also in part due to Mr Pradeep’s counsel, informing them that staying safe in Singapore was the best thing they could do for their family.

When COVID-19 landed on our shores, he realised that this situation would be tough for the staff who can’t be with their families. Many of his healthcare staff try to be on the phone as much as possible with their families in their free time. Many of them faced the grim prospect of having to choose either their work or their family, but in the end, all of them stayed on as they must support their own families who are far away. This was also in part due to Mr Pradeep’s counsel, informing them that staying safe in Singapore was the best thing they could do for their family.

Mr Pradeep says that he tries his best to reassure and look out for them and does his best to keep morale up. He works closely with Mr Sajeev, Head of Meranti Home who shares his vision.

Both Mr Pradeep and Mr Sajeev co-operate very frequently, even when Mr Sajeev is working from home, and both aren’t afraid to work hand in hand with the healthcare teams. They do their best to allay the worries that staff have.

Mr Pradeep said that staff are impressed that the organization sticks to their values, and in this time of pandemic, it is where these values truly shine. Staff are well looked after, and SNM helps them to send items back to their home country by absorbing that transportation cost to allow staff to have peace of mind, following Guru’s teachings of compassion.

Mr Pradeep said that staff are impressed that the organization sticks to their values, and in this time of pandemic, it is where these values truly shine. Staff are well looked after, and SNM helps them to send items back to their home country by absorbing that transportation cost to allow staff to have peace of mind, following Guru’s teachings of compassion.

“Morale is high,” he says with a laugh. “We want to raise Meranti home to be the best home in Singapore. Our motto is: We do good, and karma will work out for us.”

Message of Love.

Mr Imesh has been with SNM since 2015. Back in 2017, he received a call informing him that his mother had been in a serious accident and admitted to an emergency ward. He consulted SNM management, who immediately allowed him to go back to Sri Lanka to be by her side, but he was only able to stay there for a month. He shared that he was lucky to be able to do so, as others like his brother, who was working with another organization in Singapore, were not able to go back.

In 2019, Mr Imesh and Ms Subasini had both planned to get married back in Sri Lanka, their home country. Preparations for their big day took longer than expected, and sadly, COVID-19 struck before they could get married, which threw all their plans into disarray.

Ms Subasini said that the mood back then was one of constant heightened tension. The staff in SNM lived in constant fear that they would receive a phone call from home to say something had happened to their families, and the strain that this worry generated wore them down. Knowing that they could not return home in the eventuality of such an event played havoc on their mental health.

“It is in times like this that being there for your family counts for so much” Mr Imesh said, “Sending money home for medical fees is one thing, but that is nothing compared to being able to be there for them.”

This was also of especial importance for Ms Subasini, as she is the youngest child in her family, and grew up in a tightly knit family.

SNMs staff were not allowed to leave the Nursing Home premises due to Phase 2 Restriction orders. His plans and preparations kept being delayed by the pandemic, all the way up to his planned wedding date.

This was when SNMs Sri Lankan staff stepped up together to help Mr Imesh and Ms Subasini. They helped with the preparations for the ceremony and celebration at Sree Narayana Mission Nursing Home and went to great lengths to assist the couple with their needs. It was deeply touching to the couple, and they wanted to share these words: “Thank you SNM for being like a real family, everyone here is like our brothers and sisters.”

This show of solidarity among people is heart-warming to the couple, who, despite having anxiety about this once in a lifetime event, found out that the people around them would unconditionally love, care, and support them when they needed it most. The nobility of the human spirit shines brightest when adversity strikes. Another point of worry for the newly married couple, was that they had invested a large amount in securing a staycation honeymoon before the pandemic. SNM management did their best to allow the couple time to enjoy their staycation honeymoon once Phase 2 restrictions were lifted so they would not have to forfeit their investment.

Mr Imesh and Ms Subasini would like to thank Mr S Devendran, HODs, and HR, who have given their time and advice to accommodate the couple with all their varied needs and for receiving concessions that were aimed to ease their transition to married life. They would also like to thank all their friends in SNM for all the work they put in for their wedding, and for not letting them feel alone despite the pandemic hitting them hard as well. The couple is confident that they can face the challenges of tomorrow, with the support of today.

The Heart and Mind of Daya (Compassion)

Our core values as espoused by Sree Narayana Guru are: Daya (Compassion), Satyam (Trust), Dharma (Righteousness) and Shanti (Peace). Let’s explore what Daya or Compassion means to us. How does ‘Daya’ translate into beliefs, daily actions and behaviours? What has our own personal experience of ‘Daya’ been like as a receiver or giver? How did giving and receiving ‘Daya’ make us feel? In his teachings, Guru emphasized the knowledge of self as essential to his notion of oneness. He claimed that consciousness of the self in relation to others was vital in our understanding of compassion.

Self-examination is essentially a key component in helping us feel empathy for another. If we have never received loving kindness, it would be difficult for us to treat others with loving kindness – not because we do not want to be kind but because we do not know how to be kind. Just as an empty glass will have nothing to offer, one who has been deprived of kindness will struggle to reach out and give.

The way of mindfulness, or the way of awareness, makes it clear that we need to first focus on the self. Self-care and self-examination are important attributes in our understanding of compassion. As opposed to a mindless way of living and doing, we need to bring our full attention to what we are and what we are doing. Modern living, in more ways than one, emphasizes a single minded pursuit for material success, and this pursuit places us in a state where we are inured to everything else, especially the positive virtues of being. It is a state where we have little awareness of the impact of our words and actions on others and on ourselves.

The residents experience the richness and vibrancy of the temple with all their senses through colours, rituals, smells and sounds. Some get to maintain the practices they may have followed when more able-bodied. There are opportunities to interact with other worshippers facilitating a profound social cohesion.

The participating youth volunteers also benefit. They gain insights from the life lessons of elders, realise the richness of the local culture, understand the values of respect and compassion, and learn about eldercare.

Mindfulness is achieved by leaving behind baggage from the past, and emphasizes by focusing on the present, the future will sort itself out. So, how do we bring the fullness of our attention to whatever we are to partake in? We need to bring not only our ‘minds’ but our ‘hearts’ into what we do.

Japanese artist and calligrapher, Kazuaki Tanahashi, describes the Japanese character of mindfulness as consisting of two interactive figures – the ‘Heart’ and the ‘Mind’.

To strike a balance between the ‘Heart’ and the ‘Mind’ is not easy.

Too much of the Heart, and all too often we become lost in sympathy or the sufferings of another. Too much of the Mind, and we are reduced to being cool observers, uninvolved and distant. To be effectively compassionate, we need to strike a balance. We need to cultivate a ‘Quiet Mind’ and an ‘Open Heart’.

What are the qualities of the Quiet Mind? It is Spaciousness and Clarity. It is essentially the source of our capacity for discerning wisdom.

What are the qualities of an Open Heart? It is tenderness, warmth and flow.

How do we attain a quiet mind and an open heart?

We need to be calm to connect with our inner selves and to be fully aware of our divinity. Use your breath as an anchor to help as a focus for your attention, bringing you back when your mind wanders. By bringing awareness to our breathing, we remind ourselves that we are here, and remain fully awake to what is going on in the present moment.

“To use your breathing to nurture mindfulness, simply tune in to the feeling of your breath entering and leaving your body. That’s all. Just feel the breath. Breathe and know that you’re breathing. Do not do it as deep or forced breathing, or going all out in trying to feel something special, or wondering whether you’re doing it right. It’s just the awareness of the breath moving in and the breath moving out.” – Kabat-Zinn

Doing this allows you to attain a meditative silence that will provide clarity that comes from a ‘quiet mind’ and ‘open heart’. Together these attributes allow us to tap deeper into human consciousness and provide clarity of thought. Perhaps compassion in the purest sense is the delicate balancing between a quiet mind and an open heart.