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A Stroke of Karma Inspires HHE Book Outreach

Shyamadeva DandapaniOn November 11, 2003, Shyamadeva Dandapani suffered a stroke that seriously impaired his ability to read, write, comprehend and speak. "After the stroke, you could listen to me talk and not make heads-or-tails of what I was saying," confided Dandapani, a commercial real estate broker based in Anchorage, Alaska.

As frustrating as the inability to make himself understood was, he had a less obvious but equally vexing problem. "I could not remember what I read. I had no short-term memory."

This was no small matter for a man whose life had been changed in 1994 by the simple act of reading a book. While vacationing on Kauai, they found a second edition copy of Gurudeva's Dancing with Siva in a used bookstore. Deeply impressed, they realized the author was living on the little island and met with Gurudeva a few days later at the Kauai Hindu Monastery. "The experience changed our lives dramatically," he explained. "After years of searching, we felt we had come home and began our conversion to Hinduism."

A few years after the stroke, the Dandapanis helped create the Himalayan Academy Book Distribution Fund at Hindu Heritage Endowment to support the free distribution of writings from Himalayan Academy Publications. They want others to experience the transforming experience Dancing with Siva gave them.

He worked to recover his short-term memory the same way Gurudeva encouraged spiritual development, through practice and repetition.

"I would read, but the content was like a murky soup poured into my mind, ill-defined and unclear," he explained. He continued to read anyway. With time, speech therapy and practice, his memory improved. "Reading transformed my life. Then suddenly, I was blessed with a 'stroke' of karma and became incompetent. Now I'm regaining some abilities and starting to retain what I read."

He and his wife started the Himalayan Academy Book Distribution Fund at HHE as a way to make the writings of Gurudeva more easily available to other seekers. They continue to contribute to the fund monthly, as well as to the construction of Iraivan Temple.

They want others to contribute to the Book Distribution Fund as well: "Reading Gurudeva's work gave us the first glimpse of another way of life. The truth is available for all of us. All we need to do is find it. Getting Gurudeva's message out into the world makes that more likely."

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